Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Malevolent Celestial Being

I wonder what Mr B.R. Ponds of 2 Kings Road, Brislington, Bristol would have made of it all? If he'd have witnessed My Girl hiding in his old trunk that I found at an Antique's shop in Weston, would he have smiled knowingly or would he have thought to himself, "Tsch! Kids today"?

Mr Ponds' old suitcase (where has it travelled to? From one street in Bristol to the next? Or across oceans?) is now used as a dressing-up trunk for Butter-Wouldn't-Melt Girl and is chocka with sarongs, shoes, bags and fairy skirts. Last night she took all the uncomfortable objects out of this trunk - Bob the Builder hat, small plastic PINK box, tea-set (no, I don't know either) - placed herself inside it, laid down foetal-like and shut the lid. Cute, I thought.

"I want to sleep in the box."


"Come on Celeste, it's time for bed. You need to get undressed now."

"I sleep in the box."

"Ok, one more hide. I'll count to 10. 1, 2, 3 ..... (send a tweet) .... 9, 10. Coming ready or not." I open the lid.

"NOoooooooooooooooo! I sleep in the box."

And on and on. Round and round and ....

"If you don't come out and get undressed for bed, there's no story tonight." Meanie.

"I don't want a story. I sleep in the box."


I lifted her out and put her into bed in the t-shirt she was wearing, sticking to my guns. No story tonight for you Young Lady! She obviously wasn't happy about Mum turning disciplinarian but she has to learn, right?

About five minutes later, I was just thinking how quiet and still it all seemed when I heard a 'splish' sound. I turned away from twitter to see Extremely Cheeky Girl standing at the front room door spraying water in my direction. Now THAT's remorse!

Monday, 29 June 2009

Our Weston in Pictures

Today's Weston Mercury post is a photo entry of some of our favourite places in the town:



What a find!

I put this radio station on yesterday and, as soon as she heard it, Dancing Girl stopped whinging, cocked her head, smiled and began to march naked around the
armchair to Bear Necessities. When Mary Poppins' Chim Chim Cheree started up, she went over to the radio, turned it up full-blast and carried on her march/dance. This Battle of the Volumes continued for a few songs but we found a happy medium and, anyway, I couldn't help but sing along merrily. After all, these are songs we all grew up with.

She didn't say a word or nag me to morph into Trixie/Foxy for at least 40 minutes. That's as big a recommendation as you're going to get from me! Listen to Fun Kids Radio. You will all love it, I promise.

Fun Kids is on DAB Radio or online, here:


Sunday, 28 June 2009

How Clean is Your House?

If anyone else had been there to witness it, I would have been mortally embarrassed! We went swimming yesterday morning - Yeah, Olympic Girl is doing really well, thanks. Still got the armbands (since when have they been called 'water wings'?): she thinks she needs them but there's hardly any air left these days. Sometimes deception is key - and after about 20 minutes she needed the toilet. I can't convince her to pee in the pool like a normal person but it's not a great hassle as there's a loo poolside. I turned the light on, shut the door, pulled down the 'Purple Pig' swimming costume, was about to lift her onto the seat and she said:

"Oh look, this toilet is clean."

Saturday, 27 June 2009

OK, So I'm a Novice When it Comes to Children's Parties but ...

We went to our neighbours' belated housewarming party last night. These are the neighbours with six kids; the ones we sometimes borrow a playmate from. Well, they can spare the odd little girl to keep Celeste company every now and then, don't you think? Yes, that's right, 6 ... Six ... children - I can't even begin to imagine bringing up such a brood and, conversely, their Mum, A. couldn't contemplate life with only one child. They're a really lovely bunch (in case they're reading, but actually true).

The kids patiently waited around to eat the 'spread', which was laid out on the kitchen table, until A.'s sisters turned up with their families, bringing another six children between them. Are you counting here? That's 13 little ones, enough for a football team and a couple of subs. Or for a reenactment of the Last Supper. Baker Girl had taken round the Asda-mix chocolate cakes that we'd made earlier in the day, so that just about placated the rumbly tummies and dribbling mouths until the others arrived.

And when they did ....


Feeding frenzy. Pig-out Girl had already had her dinner and ordinarily would have gone to bed with nothing else to eat but I witnessed her shove two mini scotch eggs, a sausage roll and a small slice of pizza into her great big mouth in very quick succession, as though it were one of those spaghetti eating competitions minus the spaghetti but with yellow food instead. I had to give her a cup of water, imagining her mouth to be a vessel of sawdust-like dryness. This was followed by more cake and some biscuits. In an attempt to prevent Spewy-Time, I did step in to curb the volume of junk she was consuming but that's more difficult to do when it's a free for all: at home with one, everything is easier to manage. Oh, have a glass of punch and relax, WsM, it's a party!!

Then everyone ran into the lounge to play Musical Statues, set to thumping R&B on some Sky channel or other and an at least 42" TV screen. After all that food? Gosh. The rules?:jump yourself silly and then the first one to stand still when Shakira stops wailing gets a yummy, sickly sweet. I saw Celeste go to the jar at least 4 times. And when all the sweets were gone, what do you think happened?:

"Right you lot, bedtime."

"No way!" I thought,. "They'll NEVER sleep now, not after all that sugar!"

Celeste was given a farewell packet of Haribo, which she fixed her eyes upon longingly. I promised that she could have them in the morning.

And so, this morning (actually, she went to sleep very quickly; must've been all that shimmying?), Elephant-Memory Girl asked for her sweets. Agghh!! After breakfast she was indulged and I left her to it.

I'm watching the Corrie Omnibus and I hear a screech of delighted laughter coming from Celeste, who is standing on the toy chest and pointing to a red frog climbing up our white wall:
"Look, Mummy, they stick to the wall."

Friday, 26 June 2009

Caked In It!

We've been making cakes!

Although I love cooking and eating my savoury one-pot meals, especially those with loads of chili peppers in, I've never been much of a baker. Not that I couldn't do it if I had all the right ingredients and kitchen paraphernalia with which to bake, I suppose - ie if I could be bothered with it all! I can't so, ordinarily, I don't bake but I do like a bit of FUN.

And a bit of MESS!

Cue one packet of Asda Chocolate Cake mixture, a little water and an egg. Well, actually two eggs because, although I was overseer, Eager Girl was executor, quite literally as far as the raw egg went: she squeezed it with gusto and both hands. You know and I know what happened next but for her it was totally unexpected - the look of complete surprise on her pretty face was priceless.

Splat! Giggle. "Oh, look, I'm all egg-ed. I take my trousers off." So she did, presumably so that she could get brown gooey stuff not just on every part of her face and her bare arms but so that her legs could be caked in pre-baked cake too. We managed to get some of the mixture into 10 small different coloured paper cake bases (it's meant to fill two whole Vic Sandwich tins). Celeste ate one of the bases AND got to lick the bowl out, at which point I was getting a bit envious.

But I got her back because I sneaked three of the scrummy finished products into my mouth, while she only had one.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

If it Grew on Trees We'd be Up the Woods Even More Than We Already Are

Some friends with a four-year old stayed at my place recently and I was horrified to find that the boy had an Early Learning Centre pretend credit card. I know we used to have plastic shop money when we were kids, how else could we have bought those plastic tins of beans? And I know that money is being overtaken by plastic (real plastic, if you see where I'm coming from) but at least with money, it's usually your own, as in you've earned it, though admittedly not always. But a credit card is different, isn't it? You can purchase half a sweet shop with a credit card, even if you don't have funds in the bank and then pay it back later at an inflated rate. And in these times of recession....


Mummy-is-a-Billionnaire Girl and I were at the Halifax Cash Machine outside the Sovereign Centre yesterday and, as I keyed in my Pin Number (xxxx), she shouted out really loudly, "I want some money!"

Then today, we were in The Royal Hotel to celebrate my Dad's on-set of old age (Happy Birthday Dad, Happy Birthday Dandy-Dandad) and she disappeared round the corner in search of something or someone more scintillating. I followed behind to see her pull herself up on a chair to marvel at the bright, flickering lights of the Fruit Machine. She looked at me poker-faced and demanded some money. Of course, not being a gambler, I refused but ... Bloody Hell!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Bouncy Castle Place

We’ve been to the fabulous ‘Baby Break’ Parent and Toddler Café at Victoria Methodist Church Hall today and because the home-cooked food is so good there, I decided that we’d have lunch out. Now, if you know Celeste and me, you will realise by now that we eat out all the time but only in the form of a picnic: we’re on a very tight budget so going to cafés for anything but tea and a PINK ice-cream or lolly just aren’t on our list of things to do (and that’s absolutely fine because Weston is jam-packed with free things to occupy us, as you are probably also aware).

But ‘Baby Break’ is different because there’s nowhere else that Craft Girl can do all that gluing and cutting-up and playing and drawing and play-doughing and dressing-up AND jumping while I just relax and do not much else at all. Oh, alright, and eat and read the Daily Mirror (supplied, horray!) and drink tea and write notes for my next book and chat to other mum-friends. Plus the food is delicious and remarkably well-priced (that means inexpensive. Cheap just doesn’t do justice to the menu).

‘Baby Break’ is indoors so it might have been an odd choice of venue to visit today, being that it’s probably one of the hottest days we’ve had in this so-far brilliant summer but Celeste has been talking about the ‘Bouncy Castle Place’ for days now so I indulged her – not that she did much bouncy castling at all; she was too preoccupied with all the other activities to pay it much attention when it was devoid of bouncers and only seemed to climb on when there was someone else to bump into (come on Grand Pier! When and if you ever open, gets some more Dodgems. Please. Pretty Please Mr Michael – did I just say that. Shit!)

Two things that stick out in my mind from today are:

Celeste opening up the play-house window every thirty seconds and shouting out “ice-cream time!” Didn’t happen – though she did have a fairy cake with glitter icing!!

Another mum asking My Girl her name, to which she replied “Foxy” (you know as in Trixie and Foxy, our alter egos?). The other mum believed her and actually thought that I’d given My Little Angel (geddit?) the name of Foxy.


Link to 'Baby Break':

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

One Little Word

Funny Bunnies Pre-school is bang next to Grove Park: the top of Grove Park, where the swings are. Where Celeste's red swing is, to be precise. Lately, some sort of routine has been agreed upon, whereby I enter Funny Bunnies, Celeste jumps up from the place where all the children sit at the end of the session to sing (a kind of fun assembly point) and runs full-pelt into my arms. So Sweet. This should never end! But if she trips over along the way, which she sometimes does, she stamps her feet and lets out a little scream, which serves as a self-scolding. Then she has to return to the spot she was on, sit down so that she can stand up once more and run as fast as she can towards me, all over again: this is when I finally get to give her a big, big cuddle. Get-It-Right Girl does this for practically everything, even if that means repeating the action over and again until it is completed 'correctly', whether we're at the woods, in the pool, or when she's jumping, and recently bellyflopping (!), off the kitchen worktop onto the sofa. I think this desire to get everything just so is called determination, though I'm trying not to put labels on my beautiful little girl (But I am thinking 'anally retentive', 'particular', 'perfectionist'. I'll stick to 'determined').

Anyway, this routine is forming - Out of Funny Bunnies and into the 'little park', always with L1, to have a swing and a slide before we head home for lunch (btw the 'big park' is a title she's bestowed upon Ashcombe Park, the one with the huge climbing frame). Oh, you remember L1 don't you? Her fella? Well, he's still on the scene, in fact the two of them are sitting behind me right now, eating apples and watching Oh-So-Annoying Dora. This is my idea of rent-a-child, an agreement that works for everyone: while the kids are having fun and entertaining each other, his Mum is getting a break and so am I, really. Well, enough to stay in cyber-contact with you.

The trouble is that I'm resorting to bribery to get My Girl away from the 'little park'. Yesterday I told her that she had a surprise at home, which she did; a new Peppa Pig (or 'Purple Pig' as she's known in our house) swimming costume that she's been wearing as often as she can get away with and that then prompted me to fill her PINK paddling pool with water to enable her to have a splash and to wash my mobile phone for me (yes, it's still out of order today). And just now, after the park, I inherited L1 for a couple of hours, which, as I said, suits all of us.

What happened to plain old "NO"? I'll try it next time - no bribes, no concessions, just "we're going home now".

Monday, 22 June 2009

Nuts! I Forgot my Camera

We had an old-fashioned day at the seaside yesterday. Not a bucket ‘n’ spade seaside day or even an ice-cream seaside day but we did go to the Beach Lawns, freeze our tits off and eat chips. That counts, doesn’t it?

It was Fathers’ Day so Celeste and I met my Dad in Waterstones by the real-live Fish and the games in the Children's Section (an excellent way of getting kids interested in reading, don’t you think?). No books were destroyed during our visit, for once, and we then went to the seafront via the duck pond outside the Winter Gardens (I once took Celeste to the zoo, discontented sigh, paid 14 quid to get in and all she wanted to do was look at the smelly old ducks that she can feed for free at the pond/lake type water place down by Sommerfield in Worle).

As we made our way along the building site of a promenade, looked past the Grand Pier stilts with no Pier on top and took in the view of Steepholme (no Wales yesterday afternoon; poor visibility), I wished that I hadn’t put a skirt on. The wind was UP, the sky was not blue and I was getting a little chilly. BUT the Weston in Bloom Community Show on the Beach Lawns was calling out to us and all three generations obeyed. Here’s a bit of what we experienced:

A Caribbean Food Stall – a sight which is extremely rare round yer. Memories of New Cross at 2am flashed in front of my eyes and “I Must Have a Pattie” became Mantra-like in my mind. So I ordered a Pattie, the anticipation growing while I waited for it. And it grew. And it grew. The woman serving obviously thought that a laissez-faire attitude would add to the authenticity of Caribbeanness and she made me wait for ages as she shimmied or something to Reggae all on her own. And NO, she wasn’t from Jamaica or anywhere near – sometimes you can just tell, know what I mean? While my Pattie was being ‘prepared’ we watched three dads being ridiculed by the ‘magic man’, who’d pulled them up, dressed them as Clowns and made them do really silly things while the children howled with laughter at them. They danced (Pattie not ready), they did impressions (Pattie still not ready) and they tried to inflate thin, barely inflatable balloons that animals are made out of (Pattie ready!). It was soggy and obviously microwaved – OK, that’s fine, it was only £1 and still tasty – but why did I have to wait so long?? I gave Celeste some: this was English Seaside Girl’s first Pattie and she loved it!

Half of (Tribute) ABBA – the female half, of course, was up on the Star FM Music Stage. Out of sync and out of tune, they seemed unsure of what they were doing. That’s not to say they weren’t FUN: they were, in a Phoenix Nights, take the piss sort of a way. Not-yet-Acquired-Much-Style Girl loved them!

Face Painting – Celeste’s oh-so-pretty face was transformed into a fairy, apparently. It was massively rubbish. She loved it!

Aren’t children easy to please?

My Latest Weston Mercury Blog Post is here: http://www.thewestonmercury.co.uk/cs/blogs/weston-super-mum/archive/2009/06/22/1730835.aspx

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Let the Music Play ...?

2009 is turning into the first year since about the age of 15 that I haven't been to a live concert - yeah, I know it's still only June. But I'm not even taking part in this year's Festival Season, not heard of since 19??, apart from the year I was pregnant (July baby) but even then I managed to psuedo-samba to Tropicalia at the RFH and jump up and down to The Research at The Social in Nottingham - that one was funny; 6 weeks to go till dropping time and I'm the first (and only) person on the dance floor, post-live band, shifting, shaping, bouncing to fuck knows what - pure music adrenelin and maybe a few misplaced hormones.

So why now? What's happened?

1. Money - skintola. But that's never been anywhere near a good enough reason before so why use it now?

2. Can't be doing with The Bloody Crush. And the Mosh Pit?!? Shiver. That means I'm becoming a Grumpy Old Woman! (I'll go if it's somewhere like the O2 Arena, where you can see the whole stage AND sit down!)

3. Lack of gig buddies here in the South West (any local readers can take that as an invitation to ask me sometime).

4. Lost touch with newer bands, much to do with being utterly fed up with 6Music, which I had been glued to since its launch and, yes, I still blame You, George Cock Lamb. Radio 3 is more me these days. Saying that, I'm presently listening to R2 and Dale's Pick of the Pops. It's 1980 and the music is FAB.

OMG Funky Town by Lips Inc is playing. Right Now. Gotta dance!

Friday, 19 June 2009

You Can Please Some of the People Some of the Time But ....

I've borrowed one of the six children who live upstairs (sounds like a nursery rhyme, doesn't it? Or a threat) so that Only Child can have a bit of company that isn't me and so that I can have a break from playing the role of 'Foxy' to her 'Trixie' (I don't mind being Foxy, it's just that I'd rather act the part with someone else, know what I mean?).

I took them up the woods, where one wanted to climb trees and the other didn't or one preferred to run while the other was adamant that she would rather walk or one hid in the bushes while the other was scared of the witches in all that darkness.

"Let's go to the Magic Garden!" I enthused.

"No," said one. "Yes, please," said the other.

Because I'm the biggest, I made the decision for us and we headed to the Magic Garden but halfway there, both girls insisted that she wanted to go home instead of catching butterflies, finding fairies and climbing stone piles.


Thursday, 18 June 2009

Life in the Old Mum Yet?

Mum and Dad had My Girl yesterday and so I spent much of it in bed. Asleep. It was, as they say round yer, Lush! I hadn't meant to crash out but I put a Hugh Grant film on (the Welsh one) and that sent me off from about 20 minutes in until the end, when I got up, switched the telly off and practically sleepwalked into my bedroom and under the covers until 5pm. Let me say it again - Lush.

And just as bloody well because my brother was visiting from Rutland. Last night, after a curry and a couple of beers we went out into Weston town centre for a few more. {Speaking of curries, I ate three in 24 hours, does that make me an Official Curry Head?}

We ended up in The London, where we were treated to an Open Mike night: the one constant was singer/songwriter Ryan Inglis, who is excellent, it must be said (link below). When one completely unlikely looking lad got up with Ryan for a few numbers and started belting out a Crowded House number, we thought of two things:

1. It was like watching Susan Boyle all over again. HE, that boy there, has got THAT voice?

2. Tim Finn singing Six Months in a Leaky Boat with 'The Wiggles' (John also has a 3 year old and so, almost daily, we rock out at a 'Wiggly Party', mostly because it's the only way to conteract the potential trauma of watching and listening to four fully grown Australian men in different coloured tops prancing around like the Tweenies for the benefit of their pre-school audience. We have to wholly embrace them. Otherwise we'd go MAD).

And then a woman sang The Spy Who Loved Me, easily my favourite Bond theme, so that (and the Newquay Brown) made me smile. Lots.

We progressed to Cheers, the last pub to close, of course, and a place that brings back tsunamis of memories for both of us. But eventually even they had to call Last Orders and we managed to carry on the party at my place with mugs of tea, roll-ups and my Mp3 Player.

But why, oh why, did we go to bed when the birds were already up for the day?



Wednesday, 17 June 2009

How did she end up so PINK

What's she doing right now? Sitting ON the breakfast bar with just a purple necklace and pyjama top and on (What? It's gone 10am? Already!), glue-dripped paintbrush in one hand, purple glitter in the other and a sheet of PINK paper on her lap.

She might scale rocks like a ten year old boy but the femininity is shining through! Just LOOK at her Big Decarie (aka den). Actually, I think I'm becoming a little PINK myself:

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

I'm No Grockel

Today’s post was inspired by a comment I’ve had from a twitter friend, a Westonian living in Paris, who says “I think you're doing more for tourism than the Tourist Board.”

Could this be true? I am always banging on about the place, always posting delightful views of different corners of this part of North Somerset on twitpics. The Weston-super-M part of Weston-super-Mum is not just a play on words; my love of Weston is real. And, there, I didn’t think I’d EVER say that!

I spent the whole of my teenage life in this town and left at 18, shipped over to the Costa del Sol with my brother by my parents, just what was needed at an age when clubs, sun and dancing seemed the most important pursuits in life. Since then, I have lived in many different places of all sizes (from a small village near Nowhereland to Central London to a very foreign country) and would have laughed out loud (when’s the last time you wrote THAT in longhand?) if anyone would have dared suggest that I could settle back in Weston-super-Nightmare. Once you’ve escaped from the place you grew up in, it’s often a one-way ticket. Even people from the Greatest City on Earth (if there is one and why am I thinking of Clarke Kent's Metropolis?) often seek refuge in other surroundings.

All I could ever see of Weston was the town centre – dodgy clubs, rubbish shops, crap beach, naff pubs and drunk people everywhere; alright for a night out at a push, but going-nowhere fast. So what changed?

I had Celeste.

My view changed.

Literally. I found a flat perched up here on the hill, overlooking Brent Knoll and Uphill, with my back against the Quarry and Weston Woods and it really is sublime. Any reader of this Blog will know that the woods are ‘our back garden’ – I’d live in Weston just to be able to go there.

But each time we, say, feel the wind at Sand Point or climb our ‘castle’ at Uphill or picnic on Brean Down or climb the rocks at Anchor Head (we did that just today, see photos below), I realise how lucky we are – all this beauty, all these things to do for FREE, all this opportunity My Girl has to adventure and exercise her growing body!

We live it. The Tourist Board don’t seem to have that luxury.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Decarie Schmecarie!

I’ve already told you that Inventive Girl has an imaginary friend, Hilary, and that she knows a PINK monster that lives in the cupboard, she talks to fairies and robots in the woods and has conversations with her reflection. And last week, she introduced us to Grandma Hannah, even though she uses the word ‘Nanny’ for her own grandmother. My Mum is interested in this latest creation, seeing as her own Nan was called Hannah (Celeste’s great-great-‘Grandma’. Spooky?).

Now she’s constructing some kind of Celestial language, most of which I fail to catch, but she does keep on about her ‘Decarie’ (it sounds like Daiquiri, so every time I hear it I’m transported back to La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana circa 1995, spitting out salt), which acts as a cross between her den and her throne. The Decarie is a carefully planned hide-out and has to be just so – upturned table, padded underneath with cushions and then with a PINK blanket and/or blue sarong draped over it (the photo above is an open-top version). It’s only a small child’s table so, inverted, its volume is restrictive. She has to curl into a foetal ball to get inside. Tonight, there’s yet another wail from the nerve centre of the Decarie, which is starting to piss me off. I ask what’s wrong:

“I can’t get comfortable!”

I’m not surprised! Look at the bloody size of it! I suggest that she let it be for now; it’s nearly bedtime anyway. I’ll make her a bigger den tomorrow.

“I want my Decarie!” More fun than a den?

And I want a glass of cider! Less acceptable than wine.

Quarry Blog Rocks

You can find "Weekend at the Old Town Quarry" @ my Weston Mercury Blog:

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Bed Rocks!

Well, what can I say? After our Weekend at the Old Town Quarry in Weston, we are both absolutely and totally exhausted. Asleep Girl had her fair share of people to play with today - five little 'uns and two teenagers. Thanks to everyone who shared our weekend. I'll write all about it in tomorrow's blog for the Weston Mercury and will link it in, but here's a couple of pics to be getting on with:

Lolly Girl

Jumping Games

Saturday, 13 June 2009


It was a very pleasant afternoon. A couple of people threw up: one of the mummies from a self-inflicted 'illness' (she had to leave early for a lie-down) and My Girl. After complaining of tummy ache, I took her to the loo and either she has marvellous self-restraint for one so young or else it was the smell of the compost toilet that made her chuck instantly on nose contact. But she seemed to recover remarkably well and so we stayed. Actually, I wouldn't mind betting that her five-minute sickness was caused by a mixture of apples, apple juice, cheesy balls and the excitement at seeing L1 and L2 in the same place.

But they had fun, doing those things that kids do and leaving us adults to have a good sit down and a chat. I think that each of the three boys and one girl had one cry each, either from tiredness or nettle burn but nothing to do with jealousy or abandonment (see yesterday's blog). My dad turned up for a nosey and a hug with his grand-daughter and tomorrow a couple of dads will join us, so lots more running around and gossiping where that came from.
Celeste with L2, L1 and J

Nathan the Blacksmith's @ The Old Town Quarry

New Facebook Fan Page

You can keep up to date with Weston-super-Mum events, discussions and photos at the new Facebook Fan Page, here:

Friday, 12 June 2009

Young Love?

For four weeks now, Celeste has been banging on about a little boy she met on a Grove Park 'Music Sunday'(see my Weston Mercury blog http://www.thewestonmercury.co.uk/cs/blogs/weston-super-mum/archive/2009/05/11/1680305.aspx). We'll call him L2 (you'll see why in a moment). She remembers his name and the fun they had dancing to Sir Duke and Abba next to the bandstand that one hot Sunday afternoon and now, every time we're back in that vicinity she mentions L2, reasoning, I suppose, that that's where he should be found: he was there once, he'll be there again. It's their place.

And today he did make an appearance at the bandstand with his mum and his ball. Girl and boy were thrilled to see each other. They played and ran and screamed at the fish in the pond. The lucky fish couldn't hear the noise they were making; they were under water. But I was not! Talking to L2's mum, it transpires that they're neighbours with my cider-drinking mum friend, G, from last week and her son, L, who we will now call L1 (I have to - he's numero uno in Celeste's head, Number 1 L and Number 1 friend!).

After a while, Celeste decided that she'd seen enough of L2 and wanted to go back up to the swings. They hugged each other and said their bye-byes. L2 started crying. Because Celeste was leaving. Aw... She seemed indifferent to his tears but I think that she was a little pleased by the effect she was having on this boy, the heartless little ......

We climbed up the stairs and who's there at the top, on the slide? Only L1 and his Mum. Heartbreaker Girl and L1 were ridiculously excited at the serendipity of bumping into each other like this, outside of pre-school, and the screaming competition began straight away, followed by the "high, faster, Mummy" contest on the baby swings. When both mums' arms could take no more, we synchronised our leaving so as to ease any pain and to lessen whines of "I want to stay in the park." L1 and Celeste did the big goodbye cuddle and seemed very grown-up about the whole parting.

Until L1 and his mum started to disappear down the hill, in the opposite direction to us: that's when Celeste cried real tears, no protest or resistance at going home, just genuine chagrin at having to leave her mate. So, there's L2 sobbing about Celeste at the bottom of the park and Celeste crying over L1 at the top.

Who will be responsible for L1's tears, I wonder?

Thursday, 11 June 2009

If You Go Down to the Woods Today ...

It's only been ten days since we haven't had use of my MOT failure of a car, which I have never named by the way - genders and monikers for cars, erm....? - and already I'm getting used to life without it. No biggie, Weston-s-Mum: it's June, you say? Non statement: that's got nothing to do with anything here in England, as you well know!

yesterday, we went up the woods for a picnic in the RAIN (see my next Weston Mercury blog post for a detailed version of that particular adventure in our old 'back garden'). OK, it wasn't actually raining when we sat down to eat our sandwiches, fruit and obligatory chocolate, but those heavily pregnant clouds dropped just as the last smartie disappeared.

"The rain's got tears," said Poet Girl.

We go to the woods A LOT. In all seasons, all weathers, all times of the day. And here are a few photos to explain why:

I like trees.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Get Back in the Kitchen, Mummy!

OK, quick, I haven't got long. Celeste is in her bedroom, listening to her "35 Nursery Rhymes" (£1.99) CD from Woolworths - nostalgic sigh - with her bricks and her jigsaw snake, while Mummy 'does some work', ie this blog, with her second cup up of tea on the window sill and Radio 3 on the DAB. There's no pre-school on a Wednesday, you see, which is fine actually, as it means we don't have to go out of the house until I decide to and/or I/she/we get Cabin Fever.

Of course, we WILL go out, probably up the woods and, weather permitting, over to Sand Bay beach. With a picnic. I'm doing it in stages - already out of the way are milk, breakfast and wash. So, all that really remains is for us to both get some clothes on. Oh yes, and for me to make the sandwiches. Until then I'm on the computer....


Celeste turns into a Jealous Monster whenever I so much as touch my mouse. I think she realises that my attention is being completely diverted from her (Helloooo? That's the point!). If I'm busying myself with, say, making the dinner, My Girl will happily do some drawing. If I'm washing the dishes, she'll sit and cut up play dough to her heart's content. If I'm tidying up, she'll follow behind me untidying up. It seems that if I'm doing something that is for the joint benefit of both Her and Me, then that's fine, get on with it, Mummy, you know your place. But, try to read a book or chat to a friend or twitter your tweeties ... and Attention Seeking Girl is whingeing in the background, climbing on the armchair/office chair/desk, asking me to help her to dress up, to play, to do anything except do what it is I'm doing.

Can anyone else relate to that?

And God'sHonestTruth, here she is now. Right on cue.

"Mummy, I want my fairy dress on."

I'd finished anyway, for now ....

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

After Hours

Once a week, one of the children from Celeste's pre-school takes home the school mascot, a fluffy little cuddly toy called Funny Bunny, who comes complete with toothbrush, water bottle, hairbrush, a Brer Rabbit story book and a disposable camera. The idea is that each little lovely gets to learn about nurturing, presumably without all the shit and hair that a real-life rabbit or guinea pig brings (I still dread the day when we have to have a pet: maybe I could move into a studio-flat just to avoid this and tell My Girl that we don't have the room for an animal of any size? Or could I fob her off with a goldfish until I kick her out the house at 18?). The Toddler-in-Charge is reponsible for caring for Funny Bunny and we parents take snaps to document their time together. Sweet, huh?

Yesterday was Celeste's turn.

And she did admirably. She put him to bed in the afternoon (though she didn't go, never goes, with him!), she gave him some carrots for lunch and then ate them all up when the grown-ups weren't looking (a trick worth remembering, that one), she brushed his teeth, read him a story and danced around the front room with him to the "In the Night Garden." All of this is recorded on the disposable camera - we've got proof. At nightime, she took him to bed for a cuddle.

Last night was my turn.

I sneaked Funny Bunny out from between my daughter's warm and loving arms and, with the complicity of some of my twitter friends, I started my own "Funny Bunny After Hours" photo album. I took 3 photos and posted them on twitpic - Funny Bunny with a carrot in an uncompromising position, Funny Bunny blindfolded and gagged, you get the picture - when I heard:

"Mummy, I want Funny Bunny."

"Here he is, Lestie. He just came to say goodnight to Mummy."

then I had to wait until she went to sleep so that the fun could continue for Funny Bunny and for me:

Funny Bunny watching Jessica Rabbit on-line ;-)

ASBO Funny Bunny beating up Igglepiggle with a stick

Funny Bunny snuggling up with the Barbie Twins.

Do you think I need to get out more?

Monday, 8 June 2009

Oh, Look... What's That Outside my Window?

Aghhh! I've done it again: half-made a cup of tea and, then, by the time I think, "I haven't had a cup of tea for ages," I return to the bag stewing in a warm mug of water with a slimy film on top. Because I've been hoovering. StupidBloodyHoovering. It could be put off no more. But it IS done now. And I've hung the washing out. Don't rain, not yet, don't rain, please.

These denials of mine will no longer stand. I AM DISTRACTED. Perpetually. I've sorted out my bills today (my juggling skills are improving), I've social networked, I've enquired about some possible paid work (am I mad? No, I'm just becoming realistic), I've got Celeste off to pre-school and, yes, I've done the low-down dirty floor chore and the less detestable clean clothes thing (I've even thrown some bleach around the bath that I dirtied by dropping a plant into last Wednesday). Actually, that's pretty busy, don't you think?

Oh, yeah, distracted. I burnt the bolognese yesterday (spag bol again, you sure?), our washing stays in the machine so long that it sometimes needs washing again, which isn't very ecological or economical, is it? I keep forgetting to write this or to post that (mental note now being made - post Dad's Batman film, which I've had for ten days and haven't even watched, back off to Lovefilm.com. Post-box at end of road. I don't watch films anymore but I used to devour them! These days, I really can't concentrate for that long), I've only finished reading one book in the past, I dunno, ten months and that was only because it was brilliant ("The Other Hand" by Chris Cleave). But, then again, I have written a book, so ....

Why the distracted mind? Twitter may have something to do with it, though I do love my tweeties, I wonder how they are ...? Can I blame the kid for my lack of ability to focus too long on the one thing? Is it important that I change and grow as she does? She needs a flexible and multi-tasking mother, not one who can organise, research and write a PhD thesis, although that particular skill would be more beneficial if I was reaping some financial reward for it, suppose.

I need to get back to yoga, I'm also so unchilled right now. Plus I need to get back to Sarah Napthali's book "Buddhism for Mothers," the one I bought another lifetime ago, when I was pregnant, the one I've never finished, though I do pick it up off my bedside table now and then: she writes well, so .... ?

Damn, my tea's gone cold.

Fuck, it's raining!!!

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Two Day Siesta

Hi Everyone! I’m Back!

What? You hadn’t noticed that I’d even been anywhere? I was last seen floating in the Blogosphere just a short 48 hours ago? But I could have sworn …. Didn’t I just….? Let me check …. My God! It's true. But, really, it seems to me than I’ve been off on my own little mini-festival, to another realm outside of this life. And I suppose I have, really ….

{Screen wobbles á la Scooby Doo. And I’m not even going to pretend anymore; I’m Not Daphne}
It’s Friday afternoon and we’re at home, eating the rice crispie cakes that we’ve just made, chocolate everywhere and especially around Sweet Girl’s pretty face. I take a swig of tea and phone my dad to say, “Hi.” He’s fine, we’re fine. Celeste asks to speak to her Dandy-Dandad.

“Hello Dandad. I eating cake. Can I come to your house?” She hands the phone back to me.

“Yes,” he says. “Of course. Bring her round.”

“Really, I didn’t tell her to say that,” I insist.

A face-wipe and an hour later finds me walking down the road, completely Celesteless, arms swinging, Free. What to do? If I go home, I’ll just end up twittering. So I decide to hook a right and head down to see Sexy Older man, to a place where there’s no computer, no kids, not even a digibox.

He makes me a cup of a tea. We have a chat. It’s always great to see him. And then, apart from Sexy Older Man darting out to grab a curry, we don’t leave that wonderful space until I think I might go home at Midnight on Saturday. Forgive me for not sharing any more of my lost weekend with you but I don't tell you everything, you know.

And here I am on Sunday morning: My Girl is still at my parents’ house (it was arranged that she spend last night there too: I didn’t just dump her, honest) and I feel totally refreshed and ready to immerse myself in fabulous motherhood once more. Our flat is still pretty much as we left it on Friday – the floor scattered with toys, PINK glitter glue stuck to the kitchen table, cooking chocolate fused to the mixing bowl ….

Ah, It’s good to be home…

Friday, 5 June 2009

Sparkly Appley

Anyone who follows me on twitter will know that I have fancied a pint of cider ALL week: what with all this glorious sunshine AND living in the West Country, it just seems like the sensible thing to do. Or is that insensible? Anyone who doesn't follow me on twitter but who simply knows me will be wise to the fact that I almost always fancy a pint of cider, regardless of the weather or my geography.

Yesterday was the day I indulged! I texted another mum, G., to see whether she was up for taking the kids to the park after pre-school. She was. Once we got to the park, G. also agreed with my plan to go to the Royal Hotel (not the Royal Pier Hotel, not the one that burnt down yesterday afternoon - it wasn't us, Occifer). The Royal has become my local, which means that I've been there 3 times in the past 4 months!! Yes, I know, weird isn't it? That kid thing again.

It is the perfect spot for soaking up the rays, letting the lil'uns chase each other on the huge green and, of course, drinking cider. Refusing to entertain draught Strongbow, we plumped for bottles of Thatchers' Gold with ice, sold all over the country although the farm just outside of this very town. It was the wisest thing to do - the kegged stuff from the same farm was 90p cheaper a pint and a hell of a lot stronger. It tastes lush (sorry, couldn't resist) but not recommended when you've got two toddlers to look out for: it's the sort of drink that makes you forget your name or that you ever even had a child.

After fobbing Celeste and her 'boyfriend', L., off with nothing more than a sausage roll and juice for lunch, we slapped the old spf on the pair of them and let them run riot while we had a good natter. We were very restrained and only had two bottles each in as many hours. Then we were less restrained and, on the way home, we bought some more cider to continue the party back at my house.

Now, excuse me, I have to go: I have a wild hangover and a two-nearly-three year old to entertain. Ouch!!!

Thursday, 4 June 2009


Celeste has an imaginary friend.

Not her friendly PINK monster, Hammer. I think he's still staking out the cupboard in Nanny and Grandad's house. No, this friend is altogether more serious. She's looking at her reflection in the glass oven and talking to it, talking to me.

"This is Hilary. He's a boy." She prefers boys, they're more rough and tumble.

"Hello, Hilary."

"Hilary's got black hair."

"Black? What colour hair have you got?"

"White. Hilary is 2."

"The same age as you, Celeste. What's Hilary's favourite game?"

"He likes playing on the scooter. With me."

And off they go, whizzing around the front room, banging into all that mess, those toys on the floor that I've already told you about. I suppose it was inevitable that she was going to need a playmate with whom to share all that stuff - and who better than someone she can boss around, someone who will do anything she says? Her mirror image; a boy with black hair, a trusted and adaptable friend who has similar interests, who is the same age?

Only Child does have real-life human friends too: she goes to pre-school three mornings a week, I get together with other mums who have children of similar ages and I take her to toddler groups sometimes, though we both prefer the outdoors. That is, I hope she prefers the outdoors, I know I do! And at least once a week, I borrow one of the children from upstairs - they can spare one, they've got six, yes, 6!

Supernanny says that imaginary freinds are totally natural and promote a child's creative and social development but, having grown up with an only slightly younger brother, who I'm still close to, I can't ignore the guilt that's creeping in - should I have had more than one child? Should I have started popping them out before I did, at 37? I mean, it's unlikely to happen now, isn't it? Even if I had the energy for it all over again, which I don't think I do, I'm now 40 and, more to the point, I'm single. So it's looking very doubtful. But then you can't have kids just to keep the one's you've already got happy, can you?

And, anyway, these two are trouble enough:

"Mummy, look!" Celeste is pointing a big wet patch on the carpet. "Hilary spilt my juice."

Illustration by Claire Manning
Supernanny advice on imaginary friends @ http://www.supernanny.co.uk/Advice/-/Health-and-Development/-/4-to-13-years/The-magic-of-imaginary-friends.aspx

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Toys, Toys, Everywhere.

You know when people say that all they used to get for Christmas was an orange? Is that really true? There's only so much that you can do with a bit of peel, so what did they play with for the rest of the year? These people of the older generation never mention birthdays - what were they given then? A lollipop? A piece of wood? Bread and dripping? Nothing?

It's Celeste's third birthday next month and, as I sit here amidst fairy dresses, tea sets, scooters, jack-in-the-boxes, ribbons and glitter and pieces of molded plastic, I'm wondering whether I can get away with not buying her any toys again this year. Probably not. Because for weeks now (and against my wishes/advice/whatever) Nanny and Grandad have been telling her that, on HER day, on the 15th July, we're all going to the zoo - song obligatory every time!

"Oh good," she says. "At the zoo, I can see dinosaurs, dragons, crabs and panthers." I feel she may be a little deflated - I remember there being monkeys, sea lions and flamingos at Bristol Zoo but no mythological creatures or Terradactyls. The Reptile House may prove popular though. With her, that is, because I bloody hate zoos (cheers Mum and Dad).


For the past three Christmases and her two birthdays, I have given Celeste a couple of books. And that's it. I'm not being a skinflint, really I'm not! Have you seen how much stuff these kids have got? I had to buy a big wooden naval chest for the front room to throw most of the plastic (dolls, cars, alphabet computers) into come the evening, when I reclaim my space. The chest, which I have to resist turning into a junk box, stands next to an old trunk that used to belong to "B.R. Pond of 2 King's Road, Brislington, Bristol", according to the label inside - this serves as a dressing up box and, like the chest, it's chocka, this time with bags, shoes, scarves, costumes and so on. Then there's the stuff in her bedroom - open Ikea boxes full of cuddlies, a big PINK trampoline, Lego, a child's organ, a Lady Penelope-type (PINK) car.... In the kitchen, she owns two of MY cupboards - one overflowing with arts and crafts paraphernalia and the other hides musical instruments and puzzles. That PINK paddling pool is outside.

Then there's even more gear in her 'second bedroom' at my parents' gaff, while their garden houses a small bouncy castle, another trampoline and a swing!! Madness!

Most of her possessions have been bought or donated by other people or found as a bargain in a charity shop by me. Believe me when I tell you that I do NOT spend loads of money on My Girl - not yet anyway. That day will come; it's as inevitable as politicians being greedy, grabbing bastards. No, the toys just sort of appear and they all make one hell of a mess to boot.

Oh, I've got my own diversions, of course - my computer and my net, my BT Vision, my MP3 player, my DAB radio and my wine. But hold on! Apart from the booze, don't we share most of MY toys too? Doesn't she get the benefit of CBeebies during the daytime (I still love you Matthew Wright, I haven't forgotten you Loose Women)? When do I get a chance to actually HEAR the Archers Omnibus or the Afternoon Play these days? Won't she be swivelling on my office chair as soon as I vacate it to make another cup of tea? Doesn't she play with Mr Maker on the BBC Website? And those PINK and purple letters on a sparkly Word background are not mine, are they?

Baaahaaa, it's not fair, I want my stuff back .....!!

Monday, 1 June 2009


It's not quite 5am. I'm already out of bed and sinking my first of many cups of tea for today. Celeste remains in La-la-land, giving me some rare morning time alone. I would normally be fast asleep but instead I've opened up the sash window as high as it will go: my computer and I sit before it. Up here on the hill, I have a spectacular view over Weston-super-Mare, the sky is turning pink and all I can hear (apart from the clacking of my keyboard) is the sound of birds.

Now, I can't tell you which birds these might be: I'm just a social historian, my brother is the ornithologist, and I know that he's at work right now, doing surveys on this or that species. But, whichever of our feathered friends they are, they sure sound pretty. This pleasant dawn chorus got me thinking about the DAB radio station, Birdsong, which has finally gone off air - I never tuned in because, to me, everything has its place. And THIS is it.

Before me, I can see Uphill, St Nicholas Church standing splendidly upon it, and to the left, Brent Knoll. The woods are behind me (the steps run along the side of the house) and the beach is to my right, though this is concealed from view by a big bloody tree that I would very much like to take a chainsaw to. It's such a glorious day - going to be another hottie - that I'm seriously contemplating swapping Tikkabilla and Teletubbies on CBeebies for snails and fairies up Weston Woods. This will probably confuse the sweet little head off Celeste but she has to learn early on that spontaneity is key.

Yes the woods, what a good idea! Shall I go and wake her up?

One more cup of tea ....

No Access? Yeah, right...

"Come on, Mum, don't be such a wuss. Look, if it comes on top, I'll just tell them I can't read. Trust me..."