Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Forgot to tell you what I purchased in the metroplis. I got H a beautiful dress in Sainsburys, a cardigan to go with it (charity shop -pleased with that) and tights and hair bands for the girls. They have reason soon to wear beautiful dresses. They both love dresses you can twirl in. Ha! They haven't even read Captivating, the two of them. Also some coleslaw and milk and yogurt in the other Sainsburys. The yogurt fell out of the fridge after I had opened it which was annoying but I am coping. Went to the library too and got a free DVD for a week (Charlie and Lola) and a couple of books for me, including a Steve Biddulph title.
A black cat crossed R's path tonight as he put the rubbish out. This is no mean feat, as we don't have many cats around our way and he only had to step outside the door, so the cat must have been waiting in the perfect position for crossing. And it being Halloween, I would take that as a BAD OMEN. If I were him, I would be checking my tea for arsenic and pondering why my wife had got the life insurance papers out and in an envelope.

Bitterne today, for a lunch date at May's. The bright colours of the Autumn trees in the precinct did not lift the general greyness of the day, for me personally, or, it seemed for Bitterne globally. I am feeling achey and coldy and weak and generally suffering being in a grey world, with the clocks doing that thing they did to make the world seem darker, and the knowledge that it is 4 months until the birds start singing.

I did see a blackbird and a robin in my garden today. Hopefully eating the lettuce. I am sick of it and the damn stuff is still growing. The homegrown, organic pumpkin looked good, on top of the wheelie bin. I did a smiley face and was pleased with my handiwork. I gave out Wheetos mainly as we don't really keep sweets in and I never remember. They were well received. The kids go to loads of effort with their costumes, and all the mums go out too. Our last caller of the night was a boy with a baby in his arms, with white face paint on and a ghost outfit. That was the baby. Fair play to him. He won on the cuteness factor, although R muttered 'should be in bed' as I shut the door.

In Bitterne I bumped into one of my neighbours, who told me that one of her teenage sons had a hairline fracture on his jaw and lost 4 teeth. He had been hit with a baseball bat. And where did this happen? You will find it hard to swallow (as W probably does right now) - ready - Bursledon. Yep. The only people I really know who live there are the Milchards. So if they challenge you to a game of rounders, duck. Clearly the yoof of bursledon are made of mightier stuff than those of Thornhill when push comes to shove. Or maybe they just ate up their geens and drank their milk and their teeth stay in place, whereas our likely lad from up the road was sucking Haribo during those crucial years. Maybe this whole story could be used as a public health promotion tool. Or, maybe, just don't go to Bursledon.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Wispas are back. I saw a billboard in Woolston. How good is that? Why on earth did they get rid of them anyway? Shame they are unethical and unhealthy. I shall enjoy one, at Christmas.

The reason for seeing the billboard was because I was doing my usual tacking movements to get home from Woolston, which this time involved taking a long crescent detour and coming out a teeny bit further up the road I was on to start with. So, I decided to stick to straight lines through Sholing and go with the contours rather than using all the gears on my mountain bike.

I was in Woolston for having my hair cut, at The Hair Emporium, which I recommend. I had previously cycled to Harefield, then down to Netley. I may write a guide to cycling around East Southampton. It might be a minority interest book. Would you buy one? My final cycle of the day was back to Harefield to pick A up from nursery. Phew. This car sharing is good for my health. Did I say we had our review and are doing another 6 months?

The Wheelie bin cleaners left their letter asking for money today. It says 'Happiness is a clean wheeliebin'. Maybe I had been aiming to high in the pursuit of happiness and should be content with a clean wheelie bin as they suggest. I wonder if they have done some research, comparing the lives of those who use their services with those who don't? Are we Supergleam customers really happier than the general population?

Monday, 29 October 2007

I have just returned from my first ever package holiday to a sunny place. We went to Fuerteventura, which for those even less informed than I, ( that includes most travel agents I imagine) is one of the Canary Islands and is off the coast (100 miles off) of North Africa. That meant that we had to get there by aeroplane and it was hot.

I shall give you some of my observations in no particular order of importance. First, the entertainment. We deliberately went for a hotel with a kids club, but I had no idea how much extra there was involved. It was like Haven in the sun. Or Butlins if you have not been to Haven. Or if you have been to neither, you should. During the day around the pool there was a quiz (I won) and a darts competition (R won). There was also water polo, volleyball, football, pool competitions. The girls went to a 2 hour session in the kids club every day and didn't complain about it at all. There was also a playground and a soft play zone room. The entertainment highlight was the Dynamite Disco at 8pm, which the girls adored. H was up there doing the actions to Agadoo with the best of them. Now, I know already some of my dear readers are developing nervous tics - but we loved it! Everything was familiar and safe. Everyone spoke English. The food was identifiable - fishfingers, spag bol, meat balls - A had chips and something every night. The girls want to go back next year.

Recently I read a book about a man who went to live in Rotherham for a year as a social experiement as it is the most average town in Britain. The book revealed more about his attitudes than about the people of Britain, but I identified with his 'holiday maker' - the Brit abroad who does not seek new sights and experiences, but wants the same as at home but a bit warmer. I am 100% in that holiday camp. Having never had any experience of 'resorts' I was a bit culture shocked by how British it all is. Even a Netto supermarket. That is not something anyone tells you do they? Come to Fuerteventura and shop in Netto. Fantastic selling point for me. There was an Irish bar, loads of 'Italian' restaurants, options like full english breakfasts for 5 euros and even a Chinese. The shops sell UK papers, things like ketchup and marmite. It really is like being at home but warmer. What a great idea! Why didn't I do this before?

Most of our days were spent at the pool, with H averaging 4 hours a day actually in the water. We did go to the beach twice, and it was fine - sandy, with shallow, safe water which seemed clean. We played crazy golf. A and I went for a ride on the road train, which goes all round the resort which encouragingly showed me that we had made a good hotel choice in terms of closeness to everything. However, there really is not much else to do than swim in the sun. I guess that is where the UK seaside has had to diversify - there is no sun - so when you go there you mooch around aquariums, arcades and fair grounds, museums of something dull and unheard of, because it is raining and your children are whinging. In Fva, there is nothing to do if the sun is not shining. But we had 5 days of fab sun and only our last day was a bit windy and 'spitting' ('quick children! inside!'). Even then we went to the beach.

Now, during our time away we did work on honing our skills at spotting Germans. Everyone was British or German. Now, women were difficult, and as my archetypal German woman is Karin Kingston, I sometimes failed. She is tall and thin and stern and married to a short, portly jolly English man and they go to my parents' chuch. Well, I think they are still alive, anyway, there were there throughtout my formative years. Men - we worked out a formula:

the larger the size of belly, number of tattoos on display and visible areas of sun burn = British

the skinnier the belly, the wearing of tight trousers and pale skin = German.

Generally, we were overawed with how similar looking we all are as Northern Europeans, and how difficult it is to tell us apart. Which must be encouraging for world peace. I wowed one of the ladies at the salad bar in the buffet one evening by showing her my 'fitnessteller' meal and she understood me! I encouraged H to make friends with a girl her age at the pool who was German, and they copied each others dives and jumps for a good hour, until H's English friend returned. H shouted out 'Emily! My friend is a GERMAN!' and from then on the language barrier returned and H and E drifted off ( literally) together, leaving Marit on her own.

One night we let the girls stay up after the disco (it was when we had won and we needed to collect our prizes) and I did the bingo. I didn't win.

Which brings me nicely to my final news on the holiday. While we were away I had a tingling feeling of good fortune - seriously - I just knew I would win something. It wasn't the bingo, but when I got home I found I had won a designer nightwear set which is on its way to me, and a night in a hotel in London, all courtesy of Bold. I entered a competition in the Daily Echo.

Today was A's 4th birthday party, the actual birthday was yesterday, where we had a lunch party at granny's. My family are nuts, and my sister in law is as barmy as the rest of us and we spent ages playing silly games to amuse the children - then noticed they had all wandered off and we were still playing. R's mum drove us home and has gone off to her brother's today for a rest I should imagine. So, I did the party for 12 3-5 year olds. It all went very smoothly, everyone behaved impeccably and A went to bed happy with a year's supply of stickers and felt tips. People know her well. She is obsessed with 'cuttin and stickin' and the presents reflected this obsession. Having a 4 year old and a 6 year old sounds so grown up though. as I often say: "what am I going to do when you go to school all day?" to which A always replies "relax."

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Flowers and cards day today, as once again I 'left' my job at Berrywood, where I have been teaching Year 3 2 days a week for this half term. Thing is, I keep coming back, doing supply and covering, so classes say goodbye and I pop up again a week later teaching them. Still, it is lovely to be appreciated every time you leave, I don't think I leave my other church job often enough! Why do we only give people gifts when they leave?

Cycling has felt wet and hazardous these last 2 days, with misty morning and rainy morning. No other nutters to be seen on bikes. Even my dear husband was driving, as his rib injury is still there. He is really set up for wet weather cycling, with all the obsessive shopping he does on websites for cycling kit. I meanwhile, have a pacamac I got in a charity shop in Eastleigh, which is a rust brown colour. On my way home today I wore my work trousers, as my trackies were still wet from the morning. To protect my trousers from the chain, I tucked them into my (pink and purple) stripey socks. I think I looked quite funky in that colour mix.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Hey, Autumn leaves are here so thought you would like this colour. On Thursday A and I had a great day out with AE to Uppark, a National Trust place near Petersfield. We found lots of mushrooms or toadstools, and A picked up lots of beech nuts, chestnuts and a new one, hazel nuts. She has quite a nut vocab now and I am hoping she will be able to write 'Spotters Guides to nature' should she ever fall on hard times. Our NT days are numbered, got til the end of October, am hoping to fit in an Arboretum next weekend.

We have a new addition. It is big and blue and in the garden. Yep - you guessed it - every suburban home has one - the trampoline, compulsory childhood toy. It is a big purchase for us for a birthday present, but both grannies dug deep and contributed a third, so A is enjoying her present, and H is enjoying it even more. No casualties yet.

We had a mega swim week this week, A and I did the Quays on Wednesday, then swim lessons as usual on Friday (managed to stave off the whining at the bus stop on the way home with doughnuts) and then met some neighbours at the Quays on Saturday. Saturday was a girls day, as R had somehow fallen into one of those 'paintballing - its fun!' traps for a stag do and has spent today making odd noises, using up all the paracetamol in the house and looking ashen. I sometimes struggle with Saturdays but this one went ok, we did Haskins in the morning, where I collected my 'free plant for every reader' from the Daily Echo, which I had purchased on Thursday. Thursday was a warm day, and we went to the park to enjoy the summer. I read the Echo and the girls did crazy brave things from monkey bars. A has a great bruise on her cheek to prove it.

Some notable news about the local Coop. I walked down on Sat eve, leaving R limping around the house and the girls pretty much in bed (actually, they both slept in boxes that night, their choice). It was one of those dusk walks to the Coop which I adore, with the autumn smell going on and people out getting ready to do whatever they do in the evenings. Anyhow, the Coop has had a hard time lately, but with a security guard and a groups dispersal zone in place things are on the up. All the fridges are working, and - wait for it - they sell ORGANIC milk. Now, I assumed this was because L and J Crandon are now ' in the hood', and they had requested it - but no! Purely by chance, the Coop felt the very presence of the Crandons and put in an organic line. I am delighted, because milk is one of the things I think is worth going organic on, in fact I think most things probably are, but milk is something I am prepared to pay extra for as the girls drink a lot of it. So, how good is that??? So, please, buy some today from our Coop to encourage them to keep stocking it.

So - to summarise - do... buy the echo and organic milk, don't... go paintballing or fall off the monkey bars. My messages are simple, but will change the world. I count the Pope and Elvis among my readers, and they know how to influence popular opinion.