Thursday, 28 June 2007

Yesterday I saw a dead hedge hog and a dead squirrel. What are the chances of that? Not very good at probability, but do you think it increases your chances of seeing one after seeing the other? Or was it just a bad day for animals? Just think how many I didn't see that were under bushes or in the gutter, sufficiently decomposed as to be unrecognisable.

Today, the two marmalades went head to head on my ryvita. Josh wins on the 'slimness of the shred', and the 'bittersweet taste' awards. Rachel wins on the 'colour' and 'best newcomer' awards. Both are to be awarded my crest, to display on their produce. They are permitted to write:

Old Pa Crandon/Old Ma Taylor, supplier of fine quality marmalade to the Bowen household.

on all their jars. It must be engraved into the glass of each pot they make from now on.

I find it ironic at best, that after forcing my children to walk and banishing the pushchair from our lives as they approached about 8 weeks, I have found myself pushing A around in a buggy as she has been suffering from sickness viral thing. She is not light to push and I have had to relearn that bus buggy etiquette, where people all shuffle around to make room for each other without making eye contact.

We did Bitterne in style today. We did a big shop in Iceland, which is fabulous because you leave it all with them and they deliver it later - for free! There is a new bargain bookstore next to Iceland. But generally I prefer the library, although maybe not for presents. Giving someone a library book is probably not normal behaviour in present giving. Bought A a hat for 30p in a charity shop, and purchased some wheat free pasta in the health food shop. Its on buy one get one free, so if you have a wheat allergy move along fast to Bitterne. Also purchased some more herbal remedies to add to the stack of pills I take each morning to make my brain, hormones and joints stay in synch with each other. I am on antiobiotics at the mo as well, so I need one of those pill dispensers that the elderly ill have, with the days of the week on little boxes. Anyone got one spare?

Yesterday I had a splendid day with a year 4 class who were wonderful. We met Terence Blacker, who is an author for those of you who are not up on him. He came across as very charming and took the children's questions seriously, and gave advice to budding authors. T B writes the Ms Wizz books, if you have heard of her. He (TB) came into school on purpose, btw, as part of book week they have authors in all week for the children to meet. Just in case you thought I stumbled across a man in the street, and asking his name, found out he was a famous author. Well, clearly not very famous, as you had not heard of him.

Last night we watched the Hot Fuzz DVD. Thank you Josh. It had a few more guns and a teeny bit more blood in than the usual genre I view, but it was so tongue in cheek and funny that I adored it. It was very silly and clever.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Today, I travelled by bus and was pleased. I was a little pressed for time and Dunc offered me the use of the van, but I remembered that I was doing the car share for a reason, and just felt that the bus was the thing to do. And it was. At the bus stop I chatted to a man with a diagnosed illness who is off work on long term sick, and lives a hermit like existence. His words. He was on his way to Bitterne, so instant bonding with a fellow sufferer in me. I told him about our house group and described it as 'a bunch of losers asking God for help'. Hope that doesn't offend you. He got off, and a lady got on and sat next to me. We talked about the rain, and her allotment. On the way back, I chatted to a guy at the bus stop who is back from the Philipines and trying to find a flat and a job so he can fly his wife and 5 year old daughter over, as she has been sexually abused and he wants to come back to UK to avoid the pain of being there. He asked about my church, and we discussed Catholic schools and his quest to find a church here - sounds like he had sone well and found a URC that he feels is pretty good. Then, a little girl I know who is fostered was on the bus when I got on, with her mum (real), and so I got to meet her mum and chat with her about her beautiful daughter. Now, I am pretty sure that I am the richer for having had these interactions with real, broken people, and whether or not god used me to bring a reflection of himself to them, he certainly used them to reflect himself to me. Now, who wouldn't go on a bus? What an amazing blessing to be touching real people, maybe lives that never touch again, but who knows? If I had been in the van I would have been struggling to find first gear and panicking about parking and would not have noticed the faces of the other people on the same journey as me.

NRG tonight at Bitterne. New routine. So painful I will not be able to get up in the morning. And I cycled there and back for added torture so if I do get out of bed, I will be walking like a cowboy all day. If you see me, just point and laugh.

Monday, 25 June 2007

A did a fantastic sick fountain last night, over me and her, so have spent the day at home, with her watching Cbeebies, and me cleaning and houseworking. I have problems with my Dyson, frankly I clean too much and it is flagging, so I borrowed my neighbour's 6 cylinder beast. You know the commandment in the bible 10 - don't covet your neighbour's ox etc. Well, I covet that Dyson! It actually cleans the carpets. You could empty all of the dirt out of the botton with the flick of a switch. Luckily I was on the patio when I discovered that. Not hoovering out there, not that obsessive. I recently purchased a new iron, while we are into appliances. I carefully researched to make R proud of me, then bought one from the same company but with different numbers to the one that was top buy. It is from Philips, and as Steve J works for them, I trust he personally put it together and if it goes wrong I will bypass the normal channels and go straight to him. In fact, I have put my faith in the iron solely on the basis that Steve is a trustworthy, wise person and would not work for a company that made rubbish. So, no pressure.

Must go, have some ironing I am desperate to do.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Today we went to a swim party in the grounds of one of Rob's colleagues homes. It is near Bognor - well past Chichester and in uncharted territories. They have a swimming pool and the girls spent 60 mins and 90 mins in there. H then said she felt she would die and had to have a nap before she ate her tea. Which she did, so she is still alive. I like meeting new people, and talking to them and there were lots of extraverty feelers (EF) amongst the party goers, so it was easy to chat with people who were easy to chat to. I left the introvert thinkers (IT) for Rob to draw out of their shells with discussion of zoom lenses, gear boxes and PC spec. I have come to uderstand that the ITs -no coincidence on the initials - like talking about IT with people who understand, and HATE talking to wild women with crazy hair who ask them how they feel. So, I have realised that the best policy is to leave em alone and find kindred spirits to share anecdotes and feelings and wonderings about the world with. It has made social situations so much easier since I stopped bothering with asking deep personal questions of IT people, who genuinely don't know how they feel, don't even know if they ever have felt and certainly wouldn't tell a stranger if they did. And I am sure a whole load of them are a lot happier for being left alone by the wild woman with the crazy hair.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

If you read big chunks of my blog in one go, which I do not advise for readers with heart conditions, you might think that my life is rather like that of a WAG - all trips to Pilates, Yoga and the beautician. You are right! Today I had a leisurely swim in the slow lane at the Quays, followed by a splash around with A in the leisure pool. All very leisurely. On Tuesday night it was NRG, and the last week of the 6 week routine. So, next Tuesday will be learning some new moves and have different aches. I do work as well though - its not all fun fun fun you know! Tuesday I taught Year 6 all I know about the environment - well, not quite all but did an hour of slightly scientific sampling of wildlife in the school grounds. It's lovely when your 3 - no, 4 years of study into the environment and countryside pay off. I imagine.

I did one of the most stupid things I have ever done today. I had a cheque to pay in from a friend, who owed me £40. I had not paid it in as she said she would pop round with the cash instead. Today, she did. So, I thought about it and then ripped up the cheque in the paying in envelope and threw it in the bin.

Later, R mentioned the money he had received as a tax rebate - over £1000, and that the cheque should have cleared by now. Yes, dear reader, you guessed correct. It was in bits in the bin. I rang the bank and they said you can't present a sellotaped cheque, although R did a good job with the sellotape and they might not have noticed. That last bit was my analysis, not what the bank man said. R has been giggling to himself and revelling in the fact that I did the stupid thing, not him. He called me a rude word beginning with d and ending in d. He said he is going to tell everyone, so thought I would get in there first.

Today we had a slightly different house group to normal. There are normally about 6 of us, adults, and we have a relatively tidy evening meeting to listen to each other and God, and pray. Dunc and Em have gone away for a couple of nights and in their absence we dramatically changed the set up. Pity them. They work incredibly hard to steer a pirate ship full of broken lives through uncharted waters, and have to do all that with Underseawoman Kay on board, always thirsting for new territories and treasures yet unseen. Or something. Anyhow, if I tell you that everyone left before 7.30 and I just finished tidying up at 9 you will see why I describe our usual meetings as tidy. We had a barbecue, with kids, and me being the inviting kind of person that I am, invited a couple of GGG, a mum from school and her 2 kids and a lady from round the corner with 3 of her 9 kids. So, total head count was over 15 children and about 7 or 8 adults. Hey! I should do parties as a career! Some of us in our housegroup have read a book called Messy Church, by one of my heroines, Lucy Moore. I can see where she is coming from. Anyway, I am particularly proud of the fact that me and Ange and Donna womaned the barbecue successfully, as it is one of those men's jobs in my house that I feel unqualified for by nature of my gender. Generally, that means it is something that strikes me as boring, dirty or both and so I don't want to do it. But barbecuing is great, everyone has very low expectations and so burnt is the norm.

I am reading 2 books about the brain at the moment. One of those 'Why women can't shave and men can only eat with chopsticks' kind of titles. The other is about babies needing love and affection in their early months, and the problems stored up in later life for those who don't get it.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

HEy! Get this freecycle thing! In a fit of organisational excitement late last night we bunged some things that were clogging up the spare room on for freecycle. By the time I check my emails tonight, most citizens of Southampton have emailed me for one or more items, and I have to decide on the most worthy. The first to reply? But what were they doing up later than me? The ones who write cheerful, chatty details about the reason why they need the item? Although clearly the men will not do that about computer bits, and instead ask questions with numbers in them about specification. Do I offer to the person who wants 3 of the 5, on the grounds that less fuel will be used by one car collecting than 3, or does that come across as greedy and better to share the spoils out? Do I offer to most local on similar environemental grounds? If someone offered to cycle or come by bus, then they would get my vote (especially for the mattress!). What an etiquette minefield. And to think that I might have walked past any one of these people today and not known, that they want what I am throwing away. If you are not on your local one yet, get on it! IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE! As I am famed for not overusing that phrase!

Did Pilates as usual today, with the squashy balls this week, much better than the harsh hoops last week. H has a party to go to today in Whiteley, it was a bus that parked on our friend's drive and had a mini play zone inside, with ball pall, climbing stuff etc. Wouldn't that be a fantastic thing to hire for a wedding, to give the kids something interesting to do? Nearly as good as Pete and Mim's inspired ice cream van for afters at their wedding. NB - use of term ' afters' a northern term, particularly used in Chesterfield, a small mining town in the Peak District.

H and I picked some raspberries on the way home, and then we made scones and served R a cream tea as his Fathers day treat. Oh, and we had a go on the train at Riverside Park as well, and as his treat I braved the actual journey with the girls and let him do the easy bit - waving. Waving on trains is weird. Really tiny children wave as you go by, and you wave back, and it is this weird thing that everyone does. I think it is in the genes of the British population, a way of being friendly without the possible horror of having to speak. You can smile and wave and know they will be gone. Except at Riverside Park, where you get 2 trips round for your money, and unless the spectators have moved on you have to do the whole ritual wave again.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

I have just been playing around with some of the photos we took recently of R's impromptu bicycle maintenance workshop on our frint drive last Saturday night. This is one of my favourites, artily reconstructed by two of the girls who were round our house this afternoon. It is of an 8 year old neighbour on his fab birthday present bike after Rob set it up for him so he could ride it. Isn't that what life is all for? To make an 8 year old happy? I love my husband and what a blessing he is for so many people. I love living where I live, I love hanging out on the front drive chatting and mending bikes - well, more chatting for me. Mending bikes for R.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Such a lot of Bitterne in my life I haven't had time to tell you. On Monday I went to a disappointing aerobics class at BLC, not very enthusiastic teacher, she is much better doing Body Combat which she obv loves ( and I do too). Tuesday was the classic NRG, with additional flailing around added on to the end of the routines for comedy catch you out effect. Woke up aching yesterday, still aching today, so had a rest day today. A asked for a relaxing day at home, but we ended up having one of those days like we used to have a lot of, with more visitors and phone calls than normally come in a month. It was lovely, I am feeling creative and people oriented, so great to see lots of friends, and even the gas man came round. And A and I made 2 types of muffin - blueberry, and carrot and cheese ones. A had lots of friends to play with and been gorgeous with them, I sometimes worry that she is not such a socialite as me and H - and can find it hard work sharing, but recently she has turned a corner and is very generous and offering to share even precious things. She gave away a cuddly toy today. Great! We used to have a pre Christmas cull, where we would get out a club and whack them till they bled, then take them to a charity shop. The teddies, not the children. Anyhow, word obv got round, cos we don't get anywhere near as many soft tody gifts, and the ones we do are high class stock from Hamleys.

A rare trip to the cinema today. I have taken a while to get this Orange wednesday thing, but tonight was the night! Lorna and I went to see Pirates III. It was long and I found myself yawning. That is my review. Sorry if you are excited about it. Was funny in bits but not as good as I was expecting, and had to concentrate really hard to work out who was double crossing who, and why. Some good insights into 'eternal life' - I liked the line that went something like - 'Its not jut about living forever, but about living with yourself forever'. There were some cool surreal bits 'on the other side' which were quirky and funny and interesting. I just don't find the romance interesting or believable and I may be outvoted but I fear Jack Sparrow has done all he can.

Got home to find that Simon won the apprentice.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Here is the web address for the Claygate Flower show. This year I am entering some classes (maybe not going head to head with my dad with the lettuces -yet). Would love to see you there if you want to come. I propose meeting in between the Fancy Dog competition and the Morris Men at about 3. Then on to the Vintage cars, the jams and finishing with a cream tea in the hospitality tent.

I saw a flyer today for a Southampton Thai Festival, with Thai food, massage and a 'Lady Boy' beauty contest. Now, I am interested to see how many entrants they get.

Pilates at Chamberlayne tonight, got to be done hasn't it? Hey - you weren't there.... what kept you?

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Portsmouth again. I have nothing bad to say about it. In fact, on a sunny day in Southsea, it would be easy to feel the Lord calling me to move there and live in a delightful genteel road just back from the seafront, near the Waitrose and other handy stores.

No such luck this time! The rail journey was smooth as ever, and on the way home I shared the bike space with a friendly couple from Hedge End who had cycled from Havant to Porstmouth via Hayling Island for fun. Now, I offered them a game of Scrabble next time they want low impact fun. On the way back, as I cycled past the dump in Hedge End, I noticed a car like ours, and amazingly, it was the rest of my family. R is obsessed with visiting dumps to pick up bikes, and there they were, at exactly the right time for me to meet them and get a lift home. How good is that?

Other good things that happened today were: I was sat on a wall eating my lunch, v quickly as I had a migraine coming and wanted to get the blood bulging through my temples again, and as I turned around to pick up my banana, there was an enormous Stag beetle just making a dive for my ryvita. It was big and ferocious looking and attracted quite a crowd. We had one living in our garden last year, but not as big as the Pompey beetle. Maybe it felt self consious about its size and was intending to use ryvita as part of a calorie controlled diet.

Not the friendly lady on the train home, who had a pack of 13 doughnuts and stood up and offered the spare 5 to anyone who wanted one. One boy had two. It was a great moment, you know I would do something like that and it is so good for me to see someone else do it, warms the cockles and all that. I am not the only weirdo in this world. She was travelling with a group of teenage girls, so I think she had shared the doughnuts, not eaten 8 herself.

Rob is watching the Matrix. We are about 7 years later than everyone else in watching it, but as Dave E recommended it I have avoided it as usually our film tastes never overlap. Having said that, Groundhog Day and Moulin Rouge are two exceptions to the 'Never put Dave(id) and me in the same room with a film on' rule. Dave, I did try really hard, got about half way through ans liked it, then got all tangled up with the computer stuff and didn't care enough. I am sorry, everyone, I really wanted to like it and persisted for a while, but just too sci fi for me, who rates Anne of Green Gables and The Sound of Music in my top films.

Kathryn Copsey of CURBS was the speaker at the training I went to today, and I will write more serious things about what she said on the Southampton Vineyard website. All I can say here is that she is one of my heroes of the faith, and someone I want to emulate in my work and life. Impressed with long word, huh?

I don't think I told you quite how much I ached yesterday after doing Body Combat on Thursday. It is such fun, the time flies by, your heart beats at triple speed and you do loads of comedy kicks and punches. It is a shame it doesn't fit very well in my routine, as I would love to go every week. We had a good swim after with a couple of Roos friends, spent an hour in the pool catching up. L, little girl friend of A's requested that I take her to the toilet rather than her mum. Ha! N had obv suggested this to L, as I stood for ages in the grim surroudings of Bitterne Poolside toilets in a cold and wet bikini - only joking - world not ready for that - tankini. Not even a Bitterne obsessive like me can find anything good to say about the 'wetside' toilets at BLC. Try them for yourself and tell me what you think.

Last night I chaired an AGM, and have stood down as chair and am no longer on the committee for Roos (that is the toddler group we go to on Fridays). I don't find chairing a meeting a natural or fun thing to do, I am much better at being the annoying one who asks all the questions than the sensible one who nods and pretends the questions are interesting and relevant. Anyhow, did it for a year as I said I would, and am pleased to hand it over to a super duper new chair and secretary, with some of the old committee sticking with it to provide continuity. A much better outcome than I anticipated, we were thinking we would have to close the group.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Tonight I ate my first harvest of potatoes, grown organically (well - kind of) in my garden using our compost. So, thank you if you have eaten fruit in my house and put the peelings in the compot heap, or double thankyous if you have urinated in the compost heap. Think that's only one of you.

The potatoes were great, fairly good size for new potatoes and I was very proud to dig them up. When I grew my first ever courgette I took a photo of it, but decided against a photo here of my spuds. I spent an hour replanting some lettuce seedlings, as I have several hundred as GGG had a seed planting fest a few weeks ago. I have spread them out a bit in bigger pots so hope they get to a stage where they are slug proof, or at least resistant. What good do slugs do to the world? Guess they make snails look good.

Watched the Apprentice at the same time. (As eating the potatoes, not planting the lettuces).The one where 3 get fired, and its down to 2. I am hoping the woman gets the job, The guy is harmless but seems a bit daft and lacking in gorm. Anyway, that is me judging and I am not prepared to put myself up there so will shut up and wait for next week.

I am reading a book called 'How to be an ex banker, female and content at home' or similar title, and although I live in a different universe to Bridget Pluckley Smythe, I have found some gems in her advice. Scrub gently with the brush to do the washing up. Get 2 doormats, inside and out to save on hoovering - yep done that Bridge. And more seriously, foster your creativity and enjoy some time to do things you can't do when your world is timetabled for you. Hence my gardening sesh tonight. She also advocates following the child's lead with games to minimise frustration for both of you - and I went for it today, following A round two parks, pretending to be a horse sleeping over at her house, grating cheese (tricky with hooves). Then we came home and I pretended to be a visitor to her Play Centre and then we pretended to be Hansel and Gretel and dropped crumbs up the stairs. It was fun, but I was ready for a sleep by 5pm.

Also played Swingball with H (mum, you're not very good at this are you?) in an effort to encourage her ball skills as I HATED PE as I was rubbish at throwing and catching. With R being an intermational cricket star I have asked him from the pregnancy stage to work on the girls' hand eye coordination etc. Its a tricky subject for us both, he can't remember it ever being hard and was one of those people who got picked first for any sport. I was the one they offered as an extra to the other team and start crying as soon as I think about the girls suffering the same humiliation. So, Swingball is a big deal for me.

Does anyone have any silver very high heeled shoes I could borrow for a wedding in the Autumn? Gents?

I have recently joined the local freecycle group, which is a mystery to me. You get a number of emails per day, which thankfully go to a webmail address else that is all I would ever read, with people in Southampton offering you things for free. So far I have been interested by a rabbit hutch and a stash of Enid Blyton books, but as I joined to get rid of my stuff I don't think I should get any of anyone else's rubbish. Although I could store the books in the hutch.

Good news! I have got a regular half day a week work for the next 6 weeks! I am really pleased with this as I have been missing school so much it is sad and that will not take too much complicated child care arrangements. Ta da!

Monday, 4 June 2007

The camping was so nearly cancelled cos of bad weather forecast, but we went, we had top weather and a fab time. So, never trust a weather man. I put the tent up by myself, well with H holding the poles (it was quite windy so she did good), and despite the heady heights of guiding I reached, I was nver very good at camping. I learnt the art of delegation at a young age, so never did the firelighting, wooding or putting tents up. So, it was quite an achievement to put up an unknown tent. It was a freebie, given to us by the lovely Ali, who works with R but clearly has another more highly paid job in the evenings as she can give away nearly new tents! It was lovely to have all 4 of us snuggled up, and we have a varied selection of campophile friends who lent us assorted essentials. Another of Rob's colleagues donated a new camping table and stools, I wonder if there is something of national import in the amount of, and quality of camping equipment in the hands of Cams hill staff. Or more likely, it is that most people in the UK have a stash of camping stuff they never use and feel guilty about, and we are some of the few people they know will not be insulted at the offer of a freebie mallet.

In case you are taking notes or a stalker, the campsite was called Hurley and is near Marlow and Henley, on the River Thames. The girls did some paddling in the Thames, and we walked to Marlow, through splendid green farmland and past some of the biggest pads in the home counties. One place had a summerhouse that was about the same size as my all year round house. The campsite reviews suggested that the facilities were good but the chap on reception a bit surly. All was as suggested. As long as you don't have to share a tent with Mr Surly, no problem!

K and A, who came with us on their first ever family camping trip were disappointed to find that it was not a naturist camp, as they had packed for one. Still, the hot sun meant no one minded! Although in Marlow itself they did get a few glances. Marlow is soooo posh. The average age of first time mums is double or more what it is in T hill. The children are ALL called Felix, Hermione, Xanthe etc etc - I mean, a few of those in each class is OK, but it would double the amount of time the register took. Mind you, prob all in schools with half the number of children so works out ok.

Watched Etre et Avoir last night. A beautiful, slow and delightful documentary film about a small French school and the teacher who nutures the 12 or so children across the primary age range. Bliss. Small schools are a wonderful idea, in some ways I would love to teach a handful of children at home, but I think there is a lot of good in being in the school system, which outweights the bad. Esp at H's school, which is fantastic and has the best set of mums in the UK!