Saturday, 18 February 2017

Too mature by half

Now that the twins have reached the grand old age of 22, life is less fun for me.  It is far harder to get a rise out of them, for example, see this Whatsapp conversation between myself and Perran concerning his next dance performance.

16/02/2017, 21:32 - clarehobba: Looking forward to your dance show.  Have booked Saturday matinee.  That leaves us free to come to the after-show party with you.

16/02/2017, 21:42 - clarehobba: Looking forward to that after-show  party.  What shall I wear ?

16/02/2017, 21:44 - clarehobba: Nigel looking forward to dancing at after party.  Am ironing his white jeans.

16/02/2017, 22:57 - clarehobba: What will you wear, Perran? Perhaps we could match.

Finally, in the wee small hours, a response.

17/02/2017, 01:30 - Peb: Only mesh garments allowed at the afterparty
17/02/2017, 01:30 - Peb: Any non-mesh garments will be burnt


On the bright side, that very possibly constitutes an invitation.

Monday, 13 February 2017

A Touch of the Poldarks

Carenza came with me to visit her grandparents in Cornwall.  In the car she asked if we could go for a walk on the cliffs. 
Of course I said “Yes”.
Over the next few days, she helped me to research my novel set in Newlyn.  She took notes in the archive and photos in the streets.
She helped me to shop and cook for my parents.
She listened to their reminiscences with attention, even when they had a somewhat familiar feel to them.
Over the whole time, the weather had been hostile.  Sleet on the journey down, icy rain as we plodded the streets of Newlyn, and an East wind like a bone-handled knife.
“Are you sure you want to go up on the cliffs? Could be blowy.”
This was British understatement for “Himalayan” or “Baffin Island”.
But she still wanted to go.
So we went.
There was a baby seal on the beach.

Hundreds of gannets  were diving like spectacular skewers onto a shoal of fish beneath the cliffs.
On the cliff path, a bold pair of stonechats hopped just ahead of us, and a raven cruised past.
As we returned, the sun came out and a skylark sang high above.
Back at the car, rock pipits hopped round our ankles as we drank hot chocolate.
So it was worth it really.

But it was still a bloody cold wind.


Friday, 3 February 2017

Let them eat hedgehogs

One of the things I most value about having children is that they create new worlds for me to explore.  Would I ever have learned to love contemporary dance if it hadn’t been for Perran?  Kept up-to-date with developments in Synthetic Biology if not for Pascoe?  Learnt about new perspectives on feminism if not from Carenza?

And more to the point, would I ever have attempted to make a hedgehog cake, if it hadn’t been for the twins’ birthday this weekend?







Saturday, 28 January 2017

In Bruges

Before Christmas, Pascoe was working in London and would often appear at weekends, so we tried to be around then.    
Now he is back in Edinburgh. 
Now there are January hotel and rail ticket offers.
We went to Bruges.








But we found Belgium to be a disconcerting country of blurred distinctions.


Which bit of the road is for cars or is it all pedestrianized?

Is it Christmas or Valentine’s Day or neither?

















Surely perfume is not for tasting.


And in Hieronymus Bosch’s  Last Judgement it was even hard to tell which people were being punished and which people were having fun.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

New Adventures

Adventure at the Tate Modern.
I thought the post-kids era would be all mini-breaks and getaways.  For some of my friends, it appears to be. 
However (and I can’t promise to stick to this) we have cut right down on flying – often the cheapest and quickest way to go anywhere -  as it has disastrous implications for global warming. 
“See the world and destroy it at the same time.”
But I still feel like I’ve got some adventures in me!
So I’ve been thinking what an adventure looks like if I can’t fly to get there.
And I find myself humming a cheesy old song,
“I’ve been to Paradise, but I’ve never been to me…”
So this year I shall be going to me.
Following a dodgy back, I’m going to work hard to get my fitness back to finish walking the Ridgeway with my pals. 
I shall also learn new skills  (maybe Tai Chi?), return to old loves (painting, birdwatching).
And I shall also be going to other people. 
It’s hard to be involved in community if you are away a lot.  Being around more will mean we can see more of our friends and neighbours.  Generally, just making yourself more available to other people tends to involve you in things you never expected

….watch this space.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Snow Day

Snowy walk with Nigel, Jenny, Terry & Boris
For my first three years as a school-teacher, there have been no snow days round here. 
As a mother of school children I particularly loved snow days – climbing back into a warm bed with a steaming cup of tea, watching the goose feathers drifting down outside the window. The whole world came to a standstill – a blessed break in the daily grind.
But now I’m self-employed.  Any snow days will have to be caught up on later, perhaps when I had planned something more interesting!  So I have purchased snow shoes, ski poles and a board marker which operates at sub-zero temperatures.
Last week, however, snow threatened and it was a day when I had no teaching – the perfect snow day. 
But when I peeped out hopefully at first light, there was no snow, so no lie in.  Later, disappointingly, it rained. Finally as the day closed, the temperature dropped and at last, snow fell.
However, it was a meagre amount – not the bringing-life-to-a-standstill downpour I had hoped for.
BUT according to Govia Thameslink it WAS just that.
Nigel was stranded on his commuter train, WhatsApping me sadder and sadder updates and so was Chip with whom I was supposed to be having a meeting that evening.
Call me callous, but their loss was my gain.  When Chip got to her house, she was too tired to struggle out again for a meeting.  When Nigel came home, he didn’t feel like going out for beer with the guys, decided on a night in and lit the stove. 
So finally, I may not have got my snow day, but I did get a snow evening.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

New Year unleashed

Usually we are visiting Northumbrian grandparents at New Year, but this year we had returned in time. 
This meant that our children were at last able to escape into the wilds of youthful New Year’s Eve parties.

Pascoe left us on Friday returning to Edinburgh for a  New Year with fellow grad students from around the globe.  They had decided on a meat fondue and apparently ostrich and water buffalo were on offer.  They may have eschewed the humble haggis, but still all trooped out to see the Edinburgh fireworks.

Carenza and Perran both headed in to parties in London with me fretting openly about the risk posed by terrorists and questioning them in detail about their movements. 
I am truly grateful to our brilliant police, who were apparently out in numbers, that nothing went wrong in our country.
And in retrospect, perhaps I should have been more worried about the risk posed by alcohol.  But I think that everybody has now managed successfully to reconstruct their evening and fill in the gaps.

As for us, we were at last able to do something which our children had expressly forbidden before.  We have a DVD of the amazing Spencer Tunick Art Event where hundreds of naked people walked round the Quayside area of Newcastle and Gateshead and formed patterns with their bodies.
When our friends came round for New Year, we set the DVD to play with a notice saying “Can you spot Clare and Nigel?”

But however attentively you watch the DVD, you will not see us.  Because we were not there.