Come along for the ride!!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Where, far from the noise of smoke and town,

I watch the twilight falling brown

It’s almost unbelievable. 11 whole days have passed since I last imparted the jumbled words stored in my grey matter and laid them to rest on these worthless pages in an html stylee.

I will try to summarise, pausing only to highlight the important bits.

Tuesday 17th July, Joseph performs a Maori song and dance with his classmates, brilliantly choreographed by his teacher (see previous post). I must say he looked very handsome dressed all in black and his face painted a la Maori warrior.

Thursday 19th July, Joseph’s first sports day. He came second in two races; the sprint and the ‘balance a rubber hoop on your head’. He also won the ‘clench a bean bag between your knees’ race and I can honestly say, I will never forget the look on his face when he realised he had won.

Saturday 21st July, set off for Portsmouth to catch our ferry to the Isle of Wight. I must pause here to say very clearly that the ISLE OF WIGHT IS FANTASTIC!

Seriously, it is an amazing island and if you have children, it is a must see place. Actually, if you don’t have children it is a must see place, there is so much to do.

Again, I will try to summarise.

Arrive at wonderful accommodation, dump belongings and stroll to nearest public house to sample food and award winning Ventnor Golden bitter made with water from the St. Boniface spring; honestly.

Sunday; beach combing in the morning, lunch and afternoon lying on a sandy beach in the afternoon. Listened to torrential rain in the night.

Monday; wake to continuing torrential rain, take the beautiful coastal drive in order to visit Dinosaur Isle then on to the recommended Crab and Lobster for the most amazing lobster soup and sandwich of, erm, crab and lobster, all the while ignoring the very persistent, very heavy rain.

Tuesday; Beautiful sunshine, hit the beach to be joined by our chums from Wilton, Salisbury, lunch at the Sun Inn, drive back to the Needles where Joseph passed his driving test (!), back to the accommodation for a swim.

Wednesday; to the famous Blackgang Chine, a theme park on a decent scale, roller-coasters, water-coasters, slightly “dangerous-when-wet” slides, then drive to Warren Farm for the most amazing cream tea ever.

Thursday; to the model village at Godshill, the pottery shop, not to do pottery but to have a beef burger, 100% pure beef, locally reared with wonderful onion relish, to Rossiters vineyards to buy some English wine (yet to taste, watch this space), back to the Needles to make a sculpture made of coloured sand, watch a sweet making demonstration (I had to support M to keep her from fainting as they poured the sugar in), home for a swim where Joseph amazed us by swimming unaided. Well, treading water is closer to the truth but no matter, he was doing it by himself – well done Poops - and home for a delicious curry and a glass of rioja.

Friday; Ventnor Botanic gardens which are amazing (even for a garden), almost ran out of fuel in the middle of nowhere followed by …..

(pause for nostalgic bit)

an incredible lunch at the Wight Mouse Inn. Steak and Tanglefoot Pie with vegetables. This lunch alone was worth the journey to the island.

Back to Blackgang Chine (pay once, re-visit on another day) for an hour on the roller-coaster at Joseph’s request then home to pack.

Saturday; to the Garlic farm (more interesting and beautiful than it sounds), lunch next to the ferry port then across the water and the drive home.

Now that, was a busy and fun week; I highly recommend a trip there.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

E noho rä

For those of you who feel inclined to check back here occasionally, you will know that I dabble in a wee bit of straightforward poetry. Nothing fancy or surreal of course; just enough to get my point across.

Unbelievably, Joseph is about to finish his nursery year at his school where he will start reception in September.

The following are a few words as a thank you to his fantastic teacher.


I just cannot believe that a year can go so quickly
And that I’ve finished nursery, I think I feel a little sickly
‘Cos Dad says it’s downhill from here, and where the real work starts.
Not to mention that you’re leaving us and breaking all our hearts.

It was all a fair bit daunting walking through your door last year
Although you’d take good care of us, that quickly became clear
My Mum and Dad just worried, I guess like all parents do
Even though I’d said, “don’t worry”, I had put my faith in you.

And what a year I’ve had, something different every day
I’ve had a total riot, all this “learning through my play”
Painting, sticking, gluing, reading, running, oh what fun.
On behalf of all my classmates, we think you’re really Number One!

I must mention your helpers Miss Collins and Mrs Knight
As far as teamwork goes I think you really hit it right
I’m only disappointed you won’t be teaching my young sis’
You’ll be gone before she comes here; she just won’t know what she’s missed

So bon voyage, auf weidersehen, I just hope it’s not goodbye
I know New Zealand’s far away but I’m really willing to try
To sample ‘antipodean life’, Dad hears it’s quite laid back
Please leave your contact details (is it off the beaten track?)

So I leave you now with just one thought, I think you are terrific
Good luck in your new adventures, heading off now, trans-pacific
I’m sure the school will miss you; I think that’s plain to see
But I don’t believe that they will miss you quite as much as me

If this is what school life is like, then sign me up for more
I can’t wait ‘till reception; I’ll be banging on their door

So long then smashing teacher (is it true your name’s Petrea?)
Don’t worry; I’ll remember you, every evening in my prayer



Sunday, July 15, 2007

Hey Crabman!

Joseph was on good form over the weekend and made a couple of comments that made me laugh.

Firstly, he was eating a small packet of sweets (long story) and I told him to keep them out of his sister’s line of sight otherwise she would want some.

Too late, she’d seen them and announced, “I want one”.

Now part of the appeal of his sweets must’ve been that he was having something that Annabel wasn’t – one upmanship for toddlers if you like – and his face fell when I said I would now have to let her have a small sweetie.

He shoved his last sweet into his mouth and generously said, “ok Dad, get her a sweet but make sure it’s a tiny one (gesturing with his hunched up shoulders and thumb and forefinger squeezed together) otherwise she’ll get really bad teeth!”.

Oh, the hypocrisy.

The second comment was a little more surreal.

He came into the house from the garden and said;

“You know, when you’re dribbling a football, and it’s like when you’re a baby, when you get born, ‘cos you’re a bit scared Dad, you know? It’s a bit weird”.

This tremendously odd statement combined with a totally out-of-character Earl Hickey face scrunched up with one eye shut, made me roar with laughter.

Less fun was the incredible storm that passed right over the house yesterday. We were doing the “count between the lightning and the thunder” trick to judge if it was heading towards us or not.

The first two times told me it was heading our way but I didn’t have a chance to warn either of them, Annabel in particular.

We all saw the flash of light and she went to say something when BANG, CRACK, BOOM ……..

She literally jumped off the ground into my arms and proceeded to scream OVER the thunder.

I felt a lot more sorry for her at that point than when she cried out at midnight wanting “some water and a cuddle”.

R-i-i-ight ……………………………..

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Holding back the years ....

I sometimes make reference to age on my postings here.

The inevitability of it. The inability to do anything about it.

I came across this poem the other day which appeared in the Wilmslow Express, Wilmslow being just south of Manchester.

It was written by a lady called Phyllis McCormack and was found in her possessions by her family after she had passed away.

It is beautiful and sad at the same time.

I have not asked permission to post it here so I may remove it if asked to do so but you should read it, in full, and if you get through it without a lump in your throat, then you’re a stronger person than me.

What do you see nurses, what do you see?
What are you thinking when you look at me?
A crabbled old woman, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes...
Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice 'I do wish you'd try.'

Who seems not to notice the things that you do
And forever is losing a stocking or shoe
Who resisting or not lets you do as you will
With bathing and feeding the long day to fill.

Is that what you're that what you see?
Then open your eyes, you're not looking at me.

I'll tell who I am as I sit here so still
As I move at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of ten with a father and mother
Brothers and sisters who love one another
A young girl of 16 with wings on her feet.
Dreaming that soon a lover she'll meet.
A bride soon at 20 my heart gives a leap
Twenty five now I have young of my own
Who need me to build a secure happy home.

A woman of 30, my young now grow fast
Bound to each other with ties that will last
At 40 years old my young now soon gone
But my man stays beside me to see I don't mourn
At 50 more babies play round my knee
Again we know children my loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead
I look to the future and shudder with dread.
For my young are busy with young of their own
And I think of the years and the love I have known.
I'm an old woman now and nature is cruel
T'is her jest to make old age look like a fool.

The body it crumbles, grace and vigour depart
And now there's a stone where I once had a heart
But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells
And now and again my battered heart swells
I remember the joys, I remember the pain
And I'm living and loving life over again.
I think of the years all too few - gone so fast
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.

So open your eyes nurses, open and see...

Not a crabbled old woman - look closer.

See me.

Monday, July 09, 2007


I will cut to the chase. Our Saturday was lovely.

We spent the afternoon at my parents, playing in their 'not-inconsiderable' garden and my clever Dad had put up a proper tree swing. Not from the branch of a silly 6 foot tree either, but from a branch of the giant cherry tree at the bottom of the garden. The rope must have been 25 foot long so you can imagine the fun both children, Joseph in particular, had swinging on it.

On our way home, I received a most pleasing ‘phone call from my brother, saying that he “has an interesting offer for me” and to call him when I got indoors.

Naturally I drove faster than I normally would and called him straight away.

The reason I drove home dangerously quickly, is because he had been at Silverstone race track since Friday evening and I hoped it would have something to do with that.

It did.

My brother’s mate Terry wondered if I wanted a free pass for the day, including a VIP pass to one of the corporate hospitality areas and more ice cream than you could shake a Cadbury’s flake at?

I said I would think about it.

After having thought about it for three 1/100ths of a second, I replied slightly too eagerly that yes, I would indeed like a free pass and all the trimmings.

So I went.

Left home at 7.30 Sunday morning, a beautiful drive up to the borders of Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire and, after a few worrying moments where I thought my pass wasn’t going to materialise, I was in.

My first ever Grand Prix and there I was, at Silverstone, all for gratis, free and totally for nothing!

Stood at Beckett’s Corner behind a crowd twenty or so deep, my brother and I had the brainwave of taking a large pub garden style bench and relocating it just behind the crowds and there we spent the entire race, head and shoulders above everyone else.


The race, sunshine, ice cream, steak sandwiches, burgers, 3 hour drive home just in time for the children’s baths.

Now that’s what I call a day out with a difference. Wouldn’t want to have too many weekend days away from ma famille but a once in a lifetime opportunity like that?

Terry asked me to come for the whole 3 day event next year to which sounds awesome.

Cheers Tezza. Sign me up.

To quote his own phrase, “what could possibly go wrong?”

Friday, July 06, 2007

Nudge nudge, wink wink, know what I mean?

Our little garden is a veritable Bill Oddie paradise, with lots of our feathered friends making themselves at home there; blackbirds, wood-pigeons, blue tits, sparrows and robins, not forgetting a beautiful Jay that flew in the other day.

Looking out of Joseph’s bedroom window the other day, I saw two pigeons on the nearest rooftop indulging in what can only be described as a passionate kiss. Seriously, their beaks were touching and it was all very innocent and lovely.

One thing led to another however and sure enough, one of the pigeons (a boy one, we think), flapped it’s wings and climbed fairly brusquely aboard the other pigeon (the girl one, we think).

As I had told Joseph to look at them kissing, I thought I would try to ignore the impending question.

“Look Dad. Look at the pigeons, what are they doing?”

I squint out of the window and offer a pathetic, “ermm”.

He continues. “Are they doing their sports exercises Dad?”

Heh heh.

“Yes Poops. Something like that”.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


‘Nuff said.

Monday, July 02, 2007

It happens every time; they all become blueberries.

Taking into consideration that much of the country is under 3 feet of water, I promised myself I wouldn’t complain about the weather at the weekend.

But I lied.

Saturday was Joseph’s school summer fair, held in the playground and what do we see when we look out of the window that morning but clear blue skies.

“Hurrah”, we foolishly cheered.

By 8.30am it was, how should one politely describe, ummm... absolutely raining down very hard indeed!

Anyhoo, the woman in charge of cancelling the whole event was adamant; the show must go on.

And so, M found herself setting up her dental health promotion stall in the pouring rain and the “show” kicked off at noon.

All the loud music and promises of delicious BBQ burgers couldn’t quite haul the fair into the fun zone, although it was a valiant effort. Knocking a coconut out of a metal peg is hard enough as is it, without your view of said coconut obscured by rainwater running into your eyes.

The schools dancers and gymnasts looked cold and miserable, slipping all over their crash mats, children’s painted faces were running down their necks and all the fried onions and ketchup in the world wasn’t going to make my hot dog any more “summery”.

I don’t know how much less the school took than if it had been postponed but I would imagine the difference would be substantial.

Overall summary? Wet.

To Sunday next and another birthday party for Joseph; an ice cream party, whatever one of those is! It turns out that an ice cream party involves providing the guests with absolutely nothing but ice cream.

To hell with the sausage rolls, no need for sandwiches or crudités right?Let's just get straight in there with the ice cream and toppings, including, but not limited to, chocolate buttons, white chocolate buttons, squirty cream, hundreds and thousands, glace cherries, sherbet pips and so on.

Children + sugar is bad enough but doesn’t seem as bad when their stomachs have been lined with something substantial.

Children + sugar minus food however and you have a recipe for complete disaster.

And the parents seemed confused as to why there wasn’t a single child who could sit still long enough to play pass the parcel.

This man would have been proud.