Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Pigeon Stretch

A complete stranger who is unnaturally bendy.
Today was my last day at school.  I didn’t even return to my desk but walked straight out of my last lesson over to my car and home. 
Soon the holidays will start.  Sun and sand whisper to me.
There was just one thing left to do.  I cycled over to my Pilates class.
Alice is a great teacher and she inspires confidence in me.  Confidence which is sometimes misplaced.
The roll-downs, cat stretches, c curves and leg folds were all fine.  Then Alice said temptingly,
“And this is my favourite stretch at the moment….”
We were all ears. 
“It’s called the pigeon stretch.  If you slide your foot forward and then bend your knee and then slide your other knee backwards…then see if you can bend your head to the ground…”
As we struggled to un-crochet our over-stretched bodies, I felt sort of limp and spongy.
“I’ve never seen a pigeon do anything like that, Alice.”
“You’re not the first of my clients to remark on that, Clare.”
Next, we were to do quite a basic stretch but I declared that I couldn’t.
“That’s funny,” said Alice, “Because you managed that pigeon stretch just now.”
But a couple of hours later as I sit at home I have to confess that I have done myself a mischief.  When the rest of the family go on their summer hols they will have to carry me in a hold-all like an enormous rag doll.
Is it possible that Alice had misheard?  Had somebody else been complaining about “That pigging stretch!”

Monday, 13 July 2015

Red Letter Day

In the distance are little starbursts of fireworks and I am walking towards them.  I can hear snatches of Beethoven’s Pastoral getting louder.  Wafting towards me are the delicious scents of Summer barbecues next to the sea. 
The event that I am heading towards is the end of term; behind me is my first year of teaching in a secondary school.
It got more manageable, I got better at it.  I enjoyed it.  I can’t believe how much I’ve learnt in a year.
However, because I have been part-time, I have another year to go as an NQT.
The difference is that next year I shall not be moving house and I have a bank of work that I’ve already prepared.

Yes, definitely Beethoven’s Pastoral.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Unwise Purchase

Last time we moved, we rushed at our new house like a bull at a gate.  We took rapid decisions about expensive items.  Tilers, plumbers and builders flashed through.
Then we repented at leisure.
We even had to move a whole wall.
This time, I’m not rushing. 
Even modest decisions like which lamp to put outside the front door can be slept upon.
Nigel attempts to drag me to DIY shops but I abort the mission.
Until Saturday, when I saw something which I wanted for the garden.  At Chidwickbury Arts Fair, I discovered some gigantic copper flowers made by Christian Funnel.  They were witty, well-made and affordable, so I pulled out my credit card.
Luckily, Carenza and Will were on hand to carry them for me.  As we wended our way down the path to the car park, the people we passed gave us special smiles.  
Or smirks.
“Oh dear,” said Will, “It’s like those people you see on the televisation of the Chelsea Flower Show.  They went looking for a purple clematis, got stuck on the Pimms and ended up staggering home with an unwise purchase.”
Silly him – who wouldn’t want a giant copper flower or two?

He’ll be laughing on the other side of his face when they protect us from the imminent triffid invasion.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Homing Pigeons

We have moved house. 
In the Autumn we shall put out bird feeders and hope that blue tits and green finches find their way here.
Next summer we shall ensure that the garden brims with flowers and we will await the butterflies.

But for now, we have tried to make the kitchen comfortable and have laid in a stock of Doritos and Pringles.  
We wait with bated breath.  
Will they come?
“I think I hear a noise in the kitchen.  Could that be them?”
We creep down the corridor and peep round the door.

It has happened:  Perran, Carenza and their friends have returned home from university.  
Perran,Carenza and Sarah

Monday, 22 June 2015

Taking a punt

The twins are now past the halfway mark in their degrees. 
But wait a minute, hadn’t Nigel and I intended to relive our own youth through them?
The child-rearing textbooks say that a parent should never do that.
But we’re not listening – university is now an expensive business and we had planned to get our money’s worth. 
We had very much enjoyed Pascoe’s graduation ceremony and Perran’s Fuze show, but felt we still needed to extract an “experience” from Carenza.
In spite of many hints, she has failed to invite us to one of her college’s fancy-dress bops – can’t think why. 
We have enquired about croquet, but apparently the lawn is just beneath the windows of poor souls taking exams and there might be ill feeling.
Us? Noisy?
However, after a few pics appeared on facebook, we realised that there might be …aquatic possibilities. 
Amenably, Carenza booked a punt and we drove over.  Sadly, all the punts in Oxford are missing  one of their decks and people stand in the wrong end in order to propel them, but apart from that, we had a lovely time. 
We didn’t lose the pole, everybody ducked when we got enmeshed in a willow and the flock of geese didn’t spot our sarnies.
Too soon, it was over.  We had to relay the punt key back to another girl from Carenza’s college.  Oddly, she didn’t have her Mum and Dad with her – just a big bunch of friends. 

She didn’t know what she was missing.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Pimp my trolley

My parents have had a shopping trolley for decades.   Some of my local friends have a shopping trolley – but then they are over seventy. 

And now, I am buying one.

It is my way of getting the shopping home without either using my car or wrecking my back. 
It is entirely sensible, but it does make me feel….old.

I’m sure I recall seeing rather nifty ones with fun patterns at our local market.  A funky trolley wouldn’t make me look so dated.

But there weren’t any when I went to make my purchase.  Instead, I got a navy blue one with white polka dots, such as Cath Kidston might design after she had just received bad news, or if she was feeling mildly depressed.
I found some fairy lights which hadn’t been pinned up yet in Carenza’s room.
That was the solution – I would pimp my trolley.
“Look Perran – my trolley doesn’t make me look like an old lady any more.”

“No Mum, but it does make you look a bit… eccentric.”

Monday, 15 June 2015


In the house we have just left, we built an extension which contained our bedroom.  It was spacious, got the morning light, everything we wanted,
we seemed to have built it on an ancestral bumble bee route.  For many generations, huge, woolly bees had flown along that bit of clear sky and now that there was a bedroom in the way, they didn’t seem to be able to stop. 
So every morning in Summer, we would awake thinking to ourselves, “That alarm clock sounds very low –pitched today, in fact, a bit like somebody humming.  No.  More like buzzing.  That’s it, buzzing.”
At that point, reality would kick in and I would wheedle Nigel – “Would you mind letting the bee out, love.”
Well, he did sleep on the bee side of the bed.  It was a bit like letting the cat out only with the spice of added danger thrown in, especially as we were both half dressed and half asleep.
But in our new house, I was kinda missing the bee ritual.
Until the last day or two when the cotoneaster tree at the front has burst into bloom.  It is now covered in a mass of busy bumble bees.  Nigel and I watch them happily. Especially as they are of a much smaller species than our former morning visitors.
However, we may have bigger problems than bees here – as we watched, an enormous hornet descended, grabbed a bee and made off to its nest.

Which I hope is a very long way away.