Sunday, 27 September 2009

Black Hole Sun

She's been drawing ever since she worked out that having opposable thumbs was fun and that they enabled her to do more than simply feed herself and the floor; if she got it right, she could hold a biro and make unwelcome marks all over our white walls (come to think of it, Celestial Graffiti pre-dates the thumb-awareness thing and began as soon as a fist could be clenched forcibly enough to support a pen).

She has her very own Junk Arts and Craft Cupboard in the kitchen, into which I bung any old shit that I come across place all sorts of delights for her to transform into an art form (old food boxes, washing up bottles, used wrapping paper and, more recently, conkers, pine cones and acorns). We're very Mister Maker (her inevitable hero) about the whole thing.

I really can't be sure but I think she's rather adept at drawing - she can already do a fathomable cat, person, face and flower.  She draws an awful lot of spiders, which look a bit like her depiction of the sun but with eyes and a thread from which to dangle.  The sun isn't always yellow - it can be PINK or blue or even black, like this:

This particular drawing, which I had to smooth out after she'd screwed it up into a ball, had me singing that fabulous Soundgarden tune all day yesterday.  (Click here to listen to it)

The Black Sun and creepy spiders fixation could be seen as somewhat macabre ... but that sort of analysis is the property of adults who have learned too much and have lost all innocence, isn't it?  Or should I expect the Social Servies round at some point in our future?

Monday, 21 September 2009

Over to You ...

Whilst belting out tunes with her amazing voice to Bristol Festival partygoers during the early hours of Sunday morning, a friend of mine fell off stage and broke her ankle.  That's pretty shit right?

She broke it in 4 places!  OUCH! She'll be out of action for 3 months! DOUBLE OUCH!

This means that she can't do any more gigs for a while.  It also means that she'll find it extremely difficult to entertain her lively two year old son, which many of us know can be trying at the very best of times.

So, I'm asking you all for ideas - how can she keep herself and her gorgeous little fella occupied with restricted mobility and (because she can't work right now), I'm guessing, restricted finances?

All suggestions welcome.  Thank you :-)


Friday, 18 September 2009

On the Rocks

Rocks were the name of the game yesterday for My Girl and her cousin.  It's been a while since I shared any photos with you, so:

Searching for Crabs @ Anchor Head

It's Time for Ice-Cream. Whooppee!

Recycled Flower @ the Old Town Quarry

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Give it a Rest, Lola

My Girl is really into this book at the moment:

It's the first book she grabs at bedtime. We have to read it twice - she to me and me to her. I welcome this - it's fun and endearing to see her put her own words to the pictures. What's more, it displays a keenness to learn and a sense that she is at one with her imagination.

But, I wonder, is Lauren Child a children's literary genius or is My Girl actully becoming Lola?

She's always been an independent little girl - even though she could barely hold the little plastic spoon, she insisted on feeding herself that rank baby-rice stuff that I introduced into her unexciting Mummy's Milk Diet way back when. She has always wanted to put her shoes on herself or mix the glue into the paint herself or jump from a great height herself. I've become used to hearing "I do it! I do it!"

But now she has a new mantra and before putting her skirt on inside-out, back to front, she takes a breath and nodding her head, informs me that:

"I can do Everything that's Everything all on my own." An ever so slight Lola mis-quote, which I'm not about to correct.

The night before last, we read the book (twice), read Peppa Pig and the Tooth Fairy (twice) and said our goodnights. She jumped out of bed, as eagerly as if you'd just offered her a bar of Cadbury's.

"I do the light!" But before she did so, she stood still and announced proudly with a pronounced bob of the head:

"Today, I get dressed ALL ON MY OWN, I push the red swing ALL ON MY OWN, I ride my bike ALL ON MY OWN, I brush my teeth ALL ON MY OWN, I read my book ALL ON MY OWN and I turn the light off ALL ON MY OWN. I can do Everything that's Everything ALL ON MY OWN."

But just how fine is that line between independence and willfulness?

Monday, 14 September 2009

Got Any Cotton Wool?

Before I was a mother, a friend sent me that email congratulating me and everyone else born before the mid-80s on having managed to survive childhood (there's now a Facebook Group dedicated to it). We were allowed to eat mud, walk down the street on our own, climb trees and play out until night-fall - all this without choking on germs, being abducted, cracking our heads open or getting lost. 

I remember pelting down Ashbury Drive, Weston on my yellow and blue roller discos.  My cousin, Johnny, and I (we were always the naughty ones) used to skate so ridiculously fast down that really steep hill, right from the very top.  We had no brakes so our only means of stopping was to smash into a wall on the other side of Worlebury Hill Road and just pray that no cars were coming. They weren't.  We used to clamber up the tallest trees in Weston Woods, helping us to more easily plan and plot our homemade maps of that wooded area, which, even back then, I treated as my very own Back Garden.  With my teenage and recently deceased friend, Ma, I spent evenings dangling my legs over the top of the Quarry, watching the town below (no chance of doing that these days; you can't even get near the edge).

And I made it into adulthood! We all did!

Now I've got a child of my own, I encourage her fearless spirit, showing her how to climb those same trees and allowing here to scale the rocks at Anchor Head. I want her to run free and to get dirty from those muddy puddles, jump off the stones.  If she falls, I pick her up, ask her if she's OK and tell her to get on with it.  I make sure that she's safe and isn't taking mad risks, trusting that her own intuition will alert her to extreme danger.

She recently got her first bike; PINK with stabilisers.  She bombs around on it outside the house and takes corners like a teenage boy on a BMX.  Thing is, she also owns a bike helmet, knee pads and elbow pads - did you have anything like that?  We never!  And the truth of the matter is that, even though I don't want her to harm herself (of course I don't!), all this protection is as much for the benefit of others - I mean, imagine all the tuts and looks we'd get without it!!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Flying Solo

I drop her off at pre-school and you'd think I'd go home to relax or at least to do something different while I've got some time to myself, wouldn't you?  But no!

I take a new-to-me path from Cecil Road up to the Woods.  It's a steeper, stonier course than we usually take, one which requires more input of energy - or is it just that I'm unemcumbered by my very own Wood Pixie and so I'm able to march along, working those leg muscles harder than they have become used to?  I snag my bare legs on a few blackberry brambles but nothing to invite tears and I head up to Worlebury Camp, taking a few photos of trees on the way.

 The 'Camp'

The Camp/Encampment/Iron Age Fort is a substantial clearing in the Woods at the top of Worlebury Hill, offering delightful vistas of Sand Bay/Point, the Bristol Channel and Wales - the view is stunning on a clear day such as today.  Once there, I examine the holes or pits that I wrote about in my latest Weston Mercury Blog post and I realise that they are more circlar than square and are larger than I first thought (maybe 6, 7, 8 foot in diametre).  These holes have been purpose-built for ... well, there has been some (but not nearly enough) speculation as to exactly what these stoned-lined wells were built for. One thing is clear; they have been here for hundreds, probably thousands, of years.  Moss and ivy crawl up the walls and there are more of these pits than I had first imagined - dozens in fact.  Most have been maintained (by the Rangers?) while those situated a little away from the path are disguised by brambles. As I venture inwards through the stinging nettles, I tred carefully, mindful that another seven or eight foot deep hole could well be hidden by overgrowth. I fancy that I'm swallowed up, pulled down into the opening and that I find myself in one of these crevices that, in ancient times, may have been used to store grain and/or as burial grounds.  Research tells me that faeries have been spotted here - my mind frees itself.

The moon is visible in the cloudless, daytime sky, dragging the sea inwards: in an hour's time it will be high tide.  Up here on Worlebury Hill, exposed to the elements, I explore not only this mysterious terrain but also an unseen space, creating my own Fantasy World.

Maybe I'll tell you about it one day?


Wednesday, 9 September 2009

4 Years (abridged)

Do you ever feel like the whole world is changing? No not the world – You?

You’re changing because your life has changed:

“Fuck! I’m pregnant!”

“My Beautiful, tiny, helpless baby”

“Please. Please just pee in the bloody pot.”

“The mouse found a nut and the nut was good. Goodnight Darling, I love You."

“Oh My God!! You really are here for the rest of my life, aren’t you?”

I mean, what do you do with THAT?


Are We Here Already?

I went to view a primary school for My Girl this morning. The deadline for applications in North Somerset is 23rd October 09 (for admissions for next academic year) and I have to apply for three, in order of preference.

I’m viewing four schools, all of which are in close proximity (within 1600 metres) to where we live.

Two are Church of England schools, voluntary aided and small, with an intake of 30 children per year. The other two are community schools of no religious denomination with double the intake at 60 kids per year.

All have “Good” Ofsted reports – though one narrowly missed being classified “Outstanding.”

The outside playing/sport area is, I think, restricted in at least one of the primaries (we’re close to the town centre here) and outdoor activity is vital, especially to a child as active as My Girl.

Two of the schools do not have websites, which, in 2009, worries me.

Ofsted reports, proximity, technology, sport, size, religious instruction and, of course, the place she would probably be happiest: what else do I need to consider before I fill in that form? Most people say that you get a ‘feel’ for the environment and you instinctively know which school would suit your little darling.

What are your criteria for choosing a school for your child?

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Our Back Garden

The Great Read Award has been passed onto me by Insomniac Mummy, who tells us that she experiences sleep deprivation from bringing up two young children, though you'd never guess it from her writing, which exudes wit and vibrancy.  Insomniac Mummy has revealed to us "Ten Simple Things that Make Me Happy," and it is my role to take this and adapt it to my style.

I accept the baton and clasp it gratefully.  I had meant to write this post yesterday. My Girl began pre-school - hooray!!! - freeing me up for five mornings a week and so, during her first session, I was going to share with you ten smells that make me happy, which would have included the aroma of Sexy Older Man and the whiff of a blown-out candle.  However, despite having three whole hours without a little person trying to persuade me to dress up as a faery or turn the carpet into a giant jigsaw puzzle, the time just whizzed by and the post never got written.

During the afternoon, My Girl and I climbed up into the woods, which you can read all about in my Weston Mercury Blog. While we were there, I got to thinking about how much time we spend up on Worlebury Hill and why I would never want to move away from this area.  Therefore, my Great Read Award considers just this: ten things I love about the Woods at Worlebury Hill, Weston:

  1. The way my lower body gets exercised and how aerobically fit all that walking makes me feel.
  2. The varied shapes and colours of the trees.
  3. The smell of the ground after a spell of rain.
  4. Playing hide and seek with plenty to hide behind.
  5. Watching My Girl jump, sit and lie in muddy puddles.
  6. Eating faeries in our role of Big Witch and Little Witch.
  7. Taking photos of the views over Brean Down/Somerset on one side and Sand Point/Wales on the other.
  8. Noticing the moving shadows of the leaves and branches against the Wood floor.
  9. The seasons - all of them!
  10. Spending quality time with My Girl with no-one else around.

I now pass the Great Read Award on to the wonderful Tim Worth, full-time carer and father to two teenagers.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Ugh, This Tastes Like Shit

She hops into the front room on two feet. So, I suppose, she jumps into the front room.

“Mummy, I done a poo. Wipe my bottom.” I pull her back into the loo, where I oblige: “One day soon she will be able to do this unassisted”, I assure myself.

Job done, dinner served.

She spoons in the ketchup solo and then eats one of the homemade mini-burgers, most of the spaghetti hoops and all of the cucumber (she loves cucumber and so, in a bid to tick one off of the five-a-day fruit and veg list, I now serve it an accompaniment to every meal, regardless – roast lamb and cucumber, beans on toast and cucumber, spag bol and cucumber, you name it). Then down go the grapes, berries and good old Tesco Value Chocolate Mousse.

Due to my tighter-than-tight budget, practically everything I buy these days is Tesco Value or Asda Smart Price and either I’ve managed to convince myself that it’s as good as those brands you pay two or three times the price for or it’s true and retailers are robbing us blind most of the rest of the time. Anyway, I have no complaints about their chocolate mousse and, at 26p for four of the little devils, how could I? I sit down to watch the Corrie I recorded last night with a pot of my own.

“Finished, Mummy,” I look over. She’s been plopping the grapes into the mousse and the stupid stuff is everywhere.

“Right, let’s wash your hands and face,” I say, carrying her into the bathroom by her armpits.

We wash and dry her hands and she skips off.

“Bloody Hell!” I mutter as I spot a small splodge of chocolate mousse on the cream carpet (no, I’m not that dense! They are; it’s a rented flat). I bend down and I really, really don’t know why I do this but I pick the offending mucky stain off with my finger, which I then suck.

A nanosecond later I realise, with horror, that the brown blob that was on the cream carpet and is now in my mouth is NOT Tesco Value Chocolate Mousse.


Saturday, 5 September 2009


Before the North Somerset Rangers fine me for actually setting up camp and moving our tiny family into the woods, I thought I should prove that we do go to other places sometimes. I’ve got photographic evidence too!

Yesterday, after having, erm, walked through the woods and hidden from the witches, taking a completely new and somewhat steep path, which posed a challenge and promoted a couple of tantrums (her, not me), we had a burst in Grove Park, a 5 minute trot from our house, although by the route we took – an hour!!

My Girl wanted to reach for the clouds (plenty of ‘em) on the red swing, which she is beginning to outgrow but, while she still fits, she’ll continue to insist on “higher, faster.” Her feet can now reach the floor, leaving me somewhat redundant and that suits me fine: I just wish I could remember to bring a book.

“Let’s go to the bandstand!!” she yelled. Ok, let’s go to the bandstand – at the bottom of the park, down the steps, by the cafĂ© that sells PINK iced lollies (get where she’s coming from?), which she couldn’t have because …. well, just because I said so, OK?

I sat, she got silly-dizzy with all that running around in circles and then we headed back up to the swings via Jill’s Garden (erected and constructed by the Ground Force Team shortly after the murder of local girl Jill Dando). It’s really beautiful at the moment, all colour and butterflies. In fact, the whole park is gorgeous; hanging flower baskets everywhere.

On this, our second visit in half an hour, we had the swings all to ourselves. Lovely! But come on Lestie, let’s go home now for some strawberries and ice-cream.

Jill's Garden

Grove Park Bandstand

Teenage Attitude on a 3-Year Old

Friday, 4 September 2009

What's That Around The Corner? Is it Autumn?

Weston Woods, as seen by My Girl and me yesterday morning. You will let us know if our lives are getting boring now, won't you?

Brean Down or "The Rock Where We Had a Picnic"

PINK Woodland Flowers

Nothing Ever Really Dies Part I (Moss on a Tree Trunk)

Nothing Ever Really Dies Part II (Ivy on an Uprooted Tree)

A Faery

An Angel and A Faery

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Hope in Weston-super-Mare

Some friends of mine were visiting us from Essex a short while ago and, with their keen eye, they caught this on camera:

Photo by Andy Bennett and Tracey Richards @

Pet Sounds

It's happened - she's asked the question I've been dreading for most of her life - the one I thought I might be able to buy some time on:

"Mummy? Can you buy me a kitten?"


"Oh. Can you buy me a puppy."


"Can you buy me a tiger."


I just don't do animals. I know that this might seem a little unfair to a 3-year old but who's going to end up taking care of the damn thing? I detest dogs - stupid, slobbery things - I'm actually secretly glad when the great big mutts up Weston Woods try to kiss/lick/annoy Celeste because, though I don't want her to be scared of them, I definitely would prefer not to have one in the house! We couldn't anyway because the house is actually a flat and it just wouldn't be fair. Right, sorted! Can't have a dog, no way.

Hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, etc, are on a par with vermin, so no thanks! Anyway, we've got plenty of wood rats scurrying around here at the back of the house.

I admire cats though: I like the way they appreciate freedom, the way that they use and abuse - gollop the food, grab a cuddle and then sod off for a couple of days until they need some more sustenance. Even still, I'd rather not be responsible for the vet's bills or for buying food for IT as well as for us and I certainly don't to go through that inevitable training, pissing stage.

I know I could start small and get her a fish or something but it'd be me who has to change the water, buy the food, flush it down the loo and replace it with another slither of gold when it dies in a couple of weeks/months time. But I've got enough to do already and usually I don't even get around to doing that.

For example, I was in the bath yesterday, where I had little choice but to glance over at the toilet right next to me (it's still without a seat and lid after it broke about, erm, four months ago). Hygiene levels were low and I thought that if I'd have sat on THAT toilet in anyone else's house, I would have been horrified!! It isn't even fit to flush a mythical goldfish down!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

September in Weston Woods

This is what we happened upon up Worlebury Woods this morning:

The Fairy House

The Beach from the 'Magic Garden' (AKA the Encampment)



A Beautiful Mirage