Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Airbeds and Karrimats

When Carenza held her 22nd birthday party here both local and university friends came along. 
She had warned us that two or three might stay over.  On Sunday, we found ourselves frying up sausage sandwiches for thirteen people.  Seeing the tessellation of airbeds and karrimats on the floor in the sitting room reminded me of when we were at that stage. 
A year out of college, Nigel and I married and set up home near his parents in the North East. But we vowed that geography would not part us from our university friends.   We thought nothing of piling sleeping bags into our cantankerous mini and driving to the South East for a get-together.
The most memorable was at Annabel’s where around a dozen of us youngsters were bedding down for the night and promptly ran out of toilet paper.  People quickly became ruthless in appropriating any shred of paper that might serve and it all got a bit Lord of the Flies. This was my earliest and arguably most important lesson in hosting. Always check the paper supply.
We thought these communal weekends would go on for ever, but a little thing eventually made it too difficult.  In fact, several little things – a number of us had children. 

However, now that most of our children have moved on, we are back to slinging sleeping bags in the car and going camping and glamping together again, happily sharing a yurt or tepee.  Have to remember the loo roll though.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Waving to Infinity

When I lose a glove I feel annoyed. 
Where should I look for it?  Do I really have to buy a new pair?
Should I retrace my steps to look for it?
But then, when was it I lost it exactly?  It’s hard to be sure.
Losing a glove has been an entirely negative experience.
Until now. 
But last weekend, spent in the beautiful Peak District has given me a change of heart.
When you lose a glove in a beautiful place, some other walker will find it and put it up high so you can spot it when you return for it. 
In practice you will probably never return, but it has the happy side effect that your abandoned glove is now waving at a beautiful view.

 I have to leave the Peak District and go back to work in the crowded South East, but my glove will remain, gazing out for evermore at green hillsides, Spring lambs and budding oaks.
Kinda “There is some corner of a foreign field that will be forever England.”

Now all I have to do if I feel stressed in nose-to-tail traffic is to imagine slipping my hand back into that glove in its resting place on a bucolic gatepost and for a moment I shall be there.

(Although all grey, all the gloves in these photos were actually found separately.)

Friday, 17 March 2017

The Cake Conspiracy

Even a weird European chocolate wrapper proves unexpectedly tempting.
Something is afoot in the world. 
There are certain signs that something is taking place.

 1. Our team won the inter-church quiz and the prize was Thornton's chocolates.
2.       I went into school to teach Latin.  My pupils had just had domestic science and were each carrying a tub of warm cheese scones.  Several were kind enough to offer them to me.  (Clearly I must appear undernourished….or maybe I was just drooling slightly.)
3.       In came nice Mr P . He was carrying a massive piece of iced carrot cake. His mother had made it to share with his colleagues, but it now needed eating up. My pupils and I are nothing if not obliging.
4.       Then to Hilary’s for church house group.   But house group was having a shared meal.  In the face of the mouthwatering dishes that my friends had prepared, my resolution  crumbled like shortcrust pastry.
5.       The most recent happening is my discovery of a crushed box of Belgian chocolates in our bedroom.  We bought them for Nigel’s parents but he failed to deliver them and appears to have trodden on them instead.  We can’t give them away now!

Have you guessed?

Yes, I am trying to lose weight.
No wonder I am rubbish at dieting.
It is completely not my fault.
The whole world conspires against me.

Perhaps for Lent, I should give up trying to diet.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Hope for an Endangered Species

I am a great fan of David Attenborough and his wildlife programmes.  Yet, there is one endangered species which he has sadly overlooked.

It is the stick man (and woman).
In the case of most species, they are endangered either by habitat loss or by hunting.
But in the case of stick men, it is just that they are particularly accident-prone.

There is evidence (from SS Great Britain in Bristol) that this state of affairs has been going on for at least 150 years.

However, there is good news that breeding colonies have been established on public transport …
and in other public places.

But also, that all sorts of relationships are valued.

So perhaps the future for stick men is not so grim after all.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Still Proud

One of the cool things about being a parent has been attending concerts, shows and presentations.
At primary school, I remember being spellbound by the lisping singing and squeaky violin playing of my own children, then checking my watch while other people’s children performed their party pieces.
Secondary school was a revelation – suddenly the performances were actually entertaining – a good evening out.
I remember attending Perran’s last school dance show and wondering sadly if it was his swan song.
Far from it.  Thanks to Perran’s intense involvement with dance at Bristol, we have continued to attend performances during his degree.   Often they have been spellbinding, especially the Fuze show, and last week’s Bristol University Dance Soc. show. 
Perran has added choreography and direction to his skills (see video below of his and Molly's dance, "Play") and he has been a well-respected Dance President. 
More than that, it often looks as if he is having the time of his life. 

As he moves into working life, it may be trickier to find a group of people to dance with, but we very much hope he continues.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Meant to be

On Tuesday morning, I was supposed to be meeting my old friend Angela for a catch-up.  We tend to do this during the course of a country walk rather than over coffee.
Then the guys who were replacing our double-glazing  announced they’d be starting Monday.
But that was alright.
I simply asked Carenza who is living at home at the moment if she’d cover for me.  Of course she said yes.
So I would still get to see Angela on Tuesday morning.
Then Carenza landed a temporary job “Sorry Mum”.
But that was alright.
The guys would surely be trustworthy enough to leave just for a couple of hours.
So I would still get to see Angela on Tuesday morning.
Then I got a horrible cold.
But that was alright.
I was seeing Angela outdoors so I wouldn’t pass it on, and we weren’t going to walk far anyway.
So I would still get to see Angela on Tuesday morning.
Finally Tuesday morning arrived – my cold was at the running-like-a-tap stage and the double glazing about a third done.  But what actually woke me up was Nigel, right in my face, yelling “Our drain is overflowing!”
He then commuted off, leaving me to ring somebody with the word “rod” in their company name.
I gave in.  It was no longer alright.  I did think of inviting Angela round but realised that a runny nose, overflowing drains and set of gusty holes where our windows once were might test even a well-established friendship.
I wasn’t going to meet Angela on Tuesday after all. 
So my question is this:
Angela and I both believe in a loving Deity watching over us.  Were we being protected from some awful fate?  If we had actually managed to go for a walk yesterday, what would really have happened? 
Might we have been run over by an escaped bison?
Might we have sunken in quicksand beside our modest local river?
Might we have stumbled on a gang of ruthless criminals mid-heist?
The answer remains a mystery. 
However, we’re planning to try again tomorrow.
Just saying.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Bennington Lordship

I hadn’t got together with my friends for about a month this time and was looking forward to a walk with them on Friday.  We planned to hunt for March hares madly boxing in the nearby fields. It is these daft escapades that gladden my heart.
That and the chat.
From Tuesday, I began to watch the weather. “Friday: Heavy rain”.
On Wednesday, I looked again. “Friday: Heavy rain”.
These things sometimes change at the last minute, but on Thursday: “Friday: Heavy rain”
“Heavy rain” I WhatsApped pannickily. “Maybe London?”
The others hedged.
“Will it be raining all day?”
“Clearing by two.” 
Two was late for us – we were usually getting ready to go home by then.
“Maybe the new Design Museum?”
Radio silence.
Then Carol suggested,
“This afternoon – Bennington Lordship.”
We drove.
Within the space of an acre or two Spring was sitting waiting for us. A mass of snowdrops were giving way to banks of crocuses.  Daphne Odorata filled the air with heady scent.  Dogwoods were sending up flames of pure colour. 
And we had a chat and a laugh. 
And some more chat.
No hares of course, but then, they don’t like the rain either. 
Maybe next time.