Monday, 30 April 2012

If I had a shop...

If I had a shop, it would be like this.

There is a florist in Blackburn that has the most wonderful window displays. It is on a busy road with no parking, so although I have admired it, I have never stopped there. One rainy day, I thought we can take a trip there especially and I wasn't disappointed.

At the moment they have an Alice in Wonderland theme.

They sold all kinds of lovely stuff, like colourful spotty bunting and mason jars filled with a mixture of gypsophila and daisies. Sadly. because of our new austerity measures budget, I settled for a bunch of flowers for mum who hasn't been so well. Freya loved the whole experience of telling the florist exactly which flowers she wanted... all purple of course, including a stunning lilac coloured rose.

Freya carefully carried them back to the car and although she had been briefed that this was nanny's bunch of flowers, the tears started, big rollers. She sat quietly weeping in the back seat all the way home. She reminded me of the Hippo from my childhood.

The Hippopotamus's Birthday

He has opened all his parcels
but the largest and the last;
His hopes are at their highest
   and his heart is beating fast.
O happy hippopotamus,
What lovely gift is here?
He cuts the string. The world stands still.
    A pair of boots appear!

O little hippopotamus,
     the sorrows of the small!
He dropped two tears to mingle 
    with the flowing Senegal;
And the 'Thank you' that he uttered
           was the saddest ever heard
In the Senegambian jungle
                     from the mouth of beast or bird.

E.V. Rieu 

(Taken from the book:  I Like This Poem (1979) edited by Kaye Webb. Puffin Books.)

Mum read that poem to me and my sister and it can still bring a tear to our eyes thirty years on, scarred for life mother.

Anyway, I consoled Freya with the idea that nanny might let her take one flower home to put in her own jar... which of course she did!

Friday, 27 April 2012

My sister came to stay...

My lovely sister came to stay, an event that had been eagerly anticipated.

I had worked Wednesday, Thursday night to secure the weekend off, so I was a little nervous about being able to stay awake all the weekend. Thanks to my wonderful parents, I managed to get a good day's sleep while they went about their daily tasks with little Edie in tow. I think having her car seat in the land-rover gave them a new sense of freedom. She went to the doctors, the shops and the station, giving passers-by the glad eye wherever she went. An asian chap at the station was particularly enamoured with her. Only the other week, a different asian chap gave her fifty pence at Sainsbury's just for being her.

The weekend consisted of a Chinese and catch up on Friday night, not too late thankfully. On Saturday it was time for Bailey's hairdo down at Anubis grooming studio.


A quick trip to the shops to pick up some pink wine for the evening (how summery) and some paraphernalia for making cupcakes with Freya. Then it was home time to bet on the Grand National. We did a bet for each of the adults and the two girls. Freya's horse was called 'deep purple' because of her passion for anything mauve and Edie's was called 'treacle'.  Luckily neither of those horses were shot leading to an inevitably uncomfortable discussion about euthanasia.

Craig usually picks a good horse, manages to place then phones up to gloat to his dad but he was quiet in defeat this year. He did mange to blag some money from an introductory offer at the 'paddypower' website, £66 quid, better than a kick in the stones.

Becky then popped out for a couple of laps around the Entwistle reservoir before dinner. She is trying to knock a few pounds off despite her very fit physique. If she completes her target Serge is going to bankroll her tattoo. We had planned to run together but my recent illness had made me comparably feeble, so I gave it a swerve and made princess cupcakes with the girls instead.

Saturday night involved sinking a bottle of wine, munching through a bar of fantastic LIDL chocolate and decimating a bag of paprika crisps whilst being armchair commentators on this weeks Apprentice, the junk shop task. Bailey remained wholly unimpressed with Becky for taking her to the anal gland squeezing shop yet again (Anubis) and refused to sit next to her on the couch. All was forgiven by morning.

Sunday was mum's birthday, she hadn't been well yesterday so probably good to give her a bit of rest. It was a beautiful morning. We went out and had breakfast of hot cross buns and a brew in the garden while the kids pottered about in their PJ's and wellies. I have been pleasantly surprised by the effectiveness of our new window mounted bird feeder, the sparrows are going mad for it. So we sat and watched the birds in the sunshine.  As is usual with the girls around, there wasn't too much time to linger, so we went and got ready for swimming.

In the afternoon, armed with a shop-bought cake, some booze and trivial pursuit we headed up to mum's for a birthday buffet. We were pleasantly surprised to find mum in finer fettle than previously.

Our plan to put the girl's down at mum and dad's and then take them home later made for a very enjoyable relaxed evening. Craig thrashed us all at Trivial pursuit but we did give him a run for his money. Then we played a game that Nick and Nick had introduced us to. Basically, you write down six categories i.e.
  1. Girl's Name
  2. Boy's Name
  3. Place
  4. Food
  5. Drink
  6. Film
Then somebody thinks of a letter and you have to be as quick as possible finding something for each of the categories. First one to think of something yells "Stop" If no other player has the same answer, you score10 points, If you share an answer with another player, you score 5points and 0points for no answer. Simple, yet funny. Kept us busy until it was time to lift the girl's and carry them home down the hill wrapped in blankets against the cold and starry night.

We squeezed every last drop out the weekend by going charity shopping on the Monday afternoon. I had a decent haul of 2 pairs of jeans for Freya, some vintage Amy-Butler-esque pillow cases and a toy hard hat for the ever expanding dressing up box. Becky got Freya a very seventies smoked glass cup and saucer so she could have grown-up tea at nannies.

And then she was gone...Edie and I shared a Creme Egg to ease our suffering.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


The pagan festival of Ēostre has arrived in the Chambers household again. Obviously everyone else is celebrating Easter but Craig recently described Christianity as "The Women's Institute with men and a 'sky pixie'", so we try not to be hypocritical.

First event to come, was the Riverside Easter bonnet competition. I am not a competitive person and am easily discouraged so I had adopted the belief that it is just about Freya wearing a silly hat. Good job really, as we didn't place again this year despite much effort, hobbycraft gubbins and PVA glue... damn.

I got my Easter decorations out, minus the chick topped Kilner jar full of mini eggs which was an over eaters worst nightmare. The house has been such a state recently that the Easter egg tree was a bit like putting glitter on a turd but I'm hoping the kids are too young to realise the place is a mess.

I actually worked on Easter Sunday. The original plan was to do an Easter egg hunt on Saturday but Freya had pushed our buttons pissing about at bedtime and we'd phoned the Easter Bunny to cancel (we have him on speed dial apparently)- they tell you not to do that but I challenge any parent avoid it. You step away from the situation thinking..."shit, how can we reverse that decision without looking weak?" We phoned him back after a better day's behaviour and rescheduled, fortunately for us he was free.

The weather was dreadful, so bleary eyed, I got up at six am  to print out a sign, do some research and hide little eggs around their playroom. We had 'hidden' eggs for Freya last year but when I checked out others online, they seemed to go for a high volume of eggs in plain sight which I thought was nicer. The effect was as if the Easter Bunny had exploded and left it as a bad job.

Freya looks so much like her dad in this photo with the old sideways smile.

If you look hard enough, you can see little eggs on the rug.


We had to suggest to Freya that she made mummy and daddy a cuppa to get her to discover the eggs in the tea set.

Edie, pleased with her 'end of level baddie' egg.

The final haul in the basket. They have been so lucky, getting personalised eggs from Aunty Fran, Aunty Sally, easter bunnies in baskets from Aunty Becky and these super sweet knitted egg cosies from my handmade guru Emily.

And I have eaten my weight in Cadburys Creme Eggs as usual. Happy Ēostre!


Monday, 16 April 2012

Our Week

It has been a strange few weeks what with being I'll... I am never sick. I had just got into my running and Callanetics mojo in preparation for camping in June with several 'yummy mummys' when I developed what I thought was exercise induced asthma. Turns out to be a feisty bronchitis. I am composing this at five am because that is the time I am getting up to take my Domestos strength antibiotics so that all the side effects have worn off by the time the kids get up. At least the coughing has subsided and I can begin building my pelvic floor up again.

The weather has been wonderful which has made me feel more guilty for being off. We set the garden up with a ball pool, sand table and reading seat. We even enjoyed meals outside.

I had a play date scheduled at Riverside with Freya and her key worker Sheree. It was something that we had discussed at the 'parents evening' a few weeks back. It was a sunny day and the plan was to do some gardening together, which ended up as scratching through stony mud, upending last years bulbs with plastic tools whilst getting mobbed by all the other kids. We did actually plant some tulips and bluebells (God help them).

We went in for circle time which was interesting to see. They all sat down and passed a toy cat round and they got to speak when the cat came to them. A clever way of restoring order, giving all the children time to speak and sharing information. We talked about flowers that the kids had at home. I began to panic... Thinking about it apart from a few dormant hostas and some herbs, we had no flowers. Luckily, Freya said we had purple and pink flowers! There were some other children who said we just have a trampoline or we just have weeds, so I felt a little better. Note to self, must buy flowers for colour soon. I have never really been interested in flowery flowers before, we have always grown herbs and shrubs seeing as how flowers die and turn into a sticky brown goo if you don't have the touch. With Freya's love of flowers, it seemed the only thing to do and very cheerful it is too.