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.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Big Changes

Perran visited earlier to sort out his new room.
There have been big changes round here.
Nigel and I have moved on.
When we moved into our new empty-nest pad a few weeks ago, I found myself putting the plastic cups and plates at the back of a cupboard – we no longer host teen parties at the drop of a hat. 
We no longer have to hoard bedding for unexpected guests (although clearly, if we were hoarding bedding, they weren’t totally unexpected).
We don’t keep a stash of baked goods for when the kids return ravenous from school.
I now do two washes a week – one whites, one coloureds.  Instead of two a day.
But all that is about to change – Perran returns at any time (not sure exactly when – some things haven’t changed) and in a week or two he will be joined by Carenza. 
I have prepared for his return by moving all the cardboard packing boxes out of his room and into Carenza’s.  In the fullness of time, I shall celebrate Carenza’s homecoming by moving all the boxes  out of her room into Pascoe’s.

What more can they ask?

Friday, 5 June 2015


When Nigel and I were courting, I had a room up in the attic of Girton College.  From my window we could look out on the red-tiled roof and see a little bell tower. 
I do not know what the bell was for – I never heard it rung.  But I remember that on the tower strutted and preened a pair of white doves. 
We delighted in their affectionate billing and cooing over the months I inhabited the room.
The birds seemed like mascots for our own courtship.
When we married, the invitations bore doves and it was a dove that I embroidered on my wedding dress.
That was thirty years ago.
But recently, we moved into our new house. 
On the first day here, I spotted a white dove on the roof opposite. 
By the next day there were two.
Now, they parade up and down the ridge of the house several times a day; they bond by touching their bills together.

One is supposed to celebrate the thirtieth wedding anniversary with pearls, but we are celebrating it with pearl-white doves instead.

Monday, 1 June 2015


Nigel empathising with kettle
Over the last two years, we have downsized so much – our family shrank from five to two as the children departed to uni.
Following that, we downsized the house and are now in smaller premises.
I personally downsized the car during a moment of inattention.
But finally, excitingly, we have discovered an item which we plan to upsize.
Our ancient camping kettle which has served us for thirty years has finally sprung a leak. 
No more will its cheery whistle wake up strangers in nearby tents. 
Or for that matter, far-off tents.
No more will it unexpectedly release itself from its handle, splashing boiling water everywhere.
It has gone to the great campsite in the sky, and is whistling merrily in the heavens.  (I have no truck with the many people who believe that camping is the work of the Devil.)

But once a decent interval has passed, we plan to buy a BIGGER kettle.
Camping is a sociable pastime and too often our dear old kettle embarrassed us – after we had poured ourselves cups of tea, we could entertain only a friend who was not really thirsty, or perhaps very small. 
We would really have liked to boil the kettle surreptitiously so as not to disappoint others, but with a whistle like that…..

So now, we are about to purchase a 2-litre whopper.  Up-size!