Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Blogbye For Now ...

I love writing on my blog, and I love reading what all you other bloggers have to say too. It's blog-brilliant! But I've decided to take a little blog-break for a while. I've got too much other time-consuming stuff to sort out at home, and blogging is so delightfully distracting! But I'll be back ... GBS

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Hello and Goodbye Again

So off we went back north last weekend. Just the kids, me and a car-full of duvets, food and too many clothes. It was surreal to stay in the house we used to live in, camping out with the memories. I felt like I'd never left.

We had a hectic schedule, trying as always to cram too much in. It was brilliant to see old friends, that part was magic. Really, really magic. The children seemed to take all the craziness in their short-legged strides, but their fighting and pale faces at the end of the weekend told me it had all been quite emotional for them too. I was exhausted by the time we'd driven home on Sunday, and I haven't really covered all week. Thank goodness it's a 4-day weekend - YAY!

Anyway everything's changing now ... again ... because we've found a family who want to rent the house. And they're moving in on Tuesday! Poor Big G just flew back from the US, only to be confronted with rent-a-van and a 2-page list of jobs to do in the house to get it ready for our tenants. I made up a booklet of instruction manuals for the boiler, kitchen appliances, etc. I couldn't resist writing a welcome letter, telling Mr. and Mrs. Whoever in detail about all the little quirks and eccentricities of the place - just like a new mother leaving a tiny baby at nursery for the first time. Anyway we're nearly there, and the extra money will save us from debtors prison.

Happy Easter all, may you be blessed with peace, salvation, contentedness and oodles of chocolate.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008


Joyce is 80-something and lives alone, next door to our old house in Cheshire. She has a sprinkling of grandchildren who appear occasionally, one flaky son, and two devoted daughters who come round and mow the lawn. She was a good neighbour, and always liked to chat over the fence and ask about our lives.

When we went up at the weekend, the children insisted we go straight round to say hello. We walked up her square garden that bursts into bloom every summer. After 4 or 5 knocks, Joyce finally made it to the heavy wooden door and slowly pulled it open. Daylight pushed its way in to help the single low watt lightbulb hidden under the mustard lampshade. The brown hall carpet is worn thin after decades of slippered feet padding to and fro. Velvet wallpaper is covered with fading paintings of roses and photos of long-gone relatives whose memories are fading now, too.

Joyce appeared in her knitted cardigan with her grey hair standing up on end, blinked from the daylight, and smiled from ear to ear. She put one arm round each child, hugged them close and didn't let go. "I miss you kicking your balls over my fence!" she laughed, and showed off her latest missing tooth.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

Tellers of the Tale of the Three Little Pigs fall into two camps: Heartless writers who let the wolf eat the first two pigs; and compassionate writers whose first two pigs run to the brick house to eat wolf stew with the third.

If I were writing it, I would probably be in the latter group (unless I was in a bad mood that day). Imagine how that pink, porky little family must feel after its hair-raising ordeal. Despite all their protests and talk of chinny-chin-chins, they still had to go through the upheaval of moving house in a hurry. But now they're huddling together by the fire, enjoying the warmth and familiarity, safe and secure within those solid brick walls.

Tomorrow, we are driving back up north to Cheshire to catch up with friends and stay in our old white house for a couple of days. It hasn't been sold yet, and we're going to rent it out for a while. The kids grew up in that house and we poured gallons of time, effort and cash into getting it just as we wanted it. I love our old house.

There'll be no wolves involved this weekend, and probably a fair bit of huffing and puffing when I pack in the morning. But I'm looking forward to us huddling by the fire, enjoying the warmth and familiarity, safe and secure within those solid brick walls.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Two Part Lists

My son wrote a list tonight (I helped with the spelling).

The title was "All the Things Frog".
The only items on the list were:
- Frogspawn
- Tadpole
And then he had to go to bed.

It reminded me of the time when Big G was trying to convince me that spaniels make ideal pets. He started listing all the great spaniels out there, but only got as far as:
- Cocker
- Springer
And then he couldn't think of any more.

Two-part lists. They must run in the family.

In Short

I think it's funny how bloggers abbreviate each others' names when they leave comments. Had I known this, I might have given more thought to my blog name before committing to it: GBS sounds like a cross between Grevious Bodily Harm and Irritable Bowel Syndrome - neither of which feature heavily in my life.

I went to have a quiet word with my daughter L's chief protector at school, Mrs. Tired Kind Teacher (TKT for short). I told her that another girl has been staring at L, pointing and whispering things like "there's that girl we're pretending we don't like", and other spiteful things. TKT said that kind of behaviour is not acceptable, and she'll see what she can do.

Meanwhile, Whispering Mean Girl (WMG for short) was jostling and laughing with her cute little Year 2 friends in the playground as we left school this afternoon. "That's her, the one with the dark hair" L hissed, grabbing my sleeve and frowning. Aged only 7, WMG has poise, style and the face of an angel.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Big Problems; Small Worries

My daughter told me on Friday that there is a mean girl in Year 2 who is upsetting her by staring and whispering in the playground.

But ... before I go into that ... I want to confess my enormous ignorance of scientific facts. I have only just learned that there have been 5 mass extinctions in the earth's history:

(1) 439 million years ago: The 'Ordovician-Silurian Extinction', a drop in sea levels as glaciers formed then a rise as glaciers melted. Death to 60% of marine species types.

(2) 364 million years ago: The 'Late Devonian Extinction' was when another 57% of marine species types snuffed it, for reasons unknown.

(3) 251 million years ago: The 'Permian-Triassic Extinction' was the mother of all of catastrophes, wiping out 95% of all species including plants, insects and vertebrates. Some reckon a comet or asteroid hitting the earth caused it. Ouch.

(4) 199-214 million years ago: The 'End Triassic Extinction' happened when rivers of lava erupted and led to all sorts of land mass re-arrangements, including the formation of the Atlantic ocean. Global warming may have resulted, umpteen creatures perished.

(5) 65 million years ago: Quite recently as it turns out, the 'Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction' killed off the dinosaurs and a whole slew of marine and land vertebrate species.

We are - today - currently - at this minute - right now - in the throes of Number (6): The 'Holocene Extinction'. Yep, mankind's use and abuse of our wondrous planet will result in the death of over half the planet's species within the next century. Heck, even dodos were still around until the 18th century.

So ... I'll get to the point ... I know we are witnessing a global catastrophe. And I also know the poverty and hardship that most of the world endures every agonising day makes my blessed life look like heaven with a cherry on top. So why do people like me still weep and worry over tiny problems like the mean whispering girl in Year 2? Why?????

I suspect it's for the same reason that telling a child "there are people starving in Africa, you know" isn't going to make him want to eat his peas.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008


Bereft: adj. deprived of or lacking something, (of a person) lonely and abandoned, esp. through someone's death or departure.

Nobody died. But I still feel bereft since leaving the sheep-dotted hills of Cheshire three and a half months ago. Moving back down south was the right thing to do, but God how I miss my friends.

When we moved north in 1999, I didn't know anyone. Then I got pregnant, went to ante-natal classes, and life improved. There were some wonderful women in my group, all first time mothers, all "more mature" in our 30's. The two blonde bombshells I bonded most with were fiery and outrageous; they made me laugh and cared about me. We filled the long days at each others' houses drinking tea - and wine when necessary - while the babies and toddlers played, screamed and squashed food into the furniture. Our houses were always a mess and the chaos became normal after a while, like water off a duck's back. We knew the details - and I mean details - of each others' lives: how much sleep we'd had, what time everyone woke up, what colds and rashes the babies had, who was constipated, what we'd cooked for the freezer, how much weight we'd put on. Not to mention sore milky boobs, each others' sex lives (or lack of), birth scar progress, the state of our finances, very little was not shared. The baby years would have been so much harder without my friends.

Big G - who's wise - says that solid friendships are formed by enduring hardship together. The handful of buddies I've hung onto since college will also be friends for life because we faced and survived the poverty line, bad skin, broken hearts, drunken messes and freezing cold, slug-infested student houses together. We had some legendary adventures too.

Times change, and people move on. I'm lucky to be living near my family now ... but God how I miss my friends.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Taggie by Maggie

Thanks for tagging me Maggie May! So that saves me the trouble of thinking up something new to write about today. It seems I am now obliged to reveal 6 random things about myself. Okay, here goes:

1. I'm mostly vegetarian (but enjoy the occasional crispy bacon sandwich)

2. My daughter has cerebral palsy (mild)

3. I’ve done 5 parachute jumps and 2 marathons (before children obviously)

4. I once qualified as an aerobics instructor (but never taught a single class - what a waste)

5. I hate 99% of reality TV and TV dramas (but how can I not love Dragons Den and Sex & the City)

6. This evening I whipped up a healthy stir-fry for myself: tofu, black-bean sauce, pak choi, spinach & rice. I then spotted an earwig that had obviously been living in the pak choi packet, so I binned the whole lot and made myself a greasy fried egg sandwich instead.

In turn, I tag the top 6 bloggers in my blogroll ... because I still can't figure out how to put links in a post. What a dimwit! Over to you ...

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Hair Wars

How honey-and-lemonly comforting of you to send such nice sympathy cards after my last post. At huge risk of looking like I'm milking it, I'll share just one more sob-story. I was in the lounge this evening, standing by the door. I suddenly sneezed, and at exactly the same second as my head flew forward with full AAA-CHOOOOO force, Big G opened the door to say "dinner's ready". Head, door, big throbbing bump, ouch.

But injuries aside, I heard a great saying the other day: "There is only one hair-style that suits you ... now just get on with it". What a relief. Over the last 25 years, ever since I was old enough to go to the hairdressers by myself, I reckon I've had 50 hair styles. 20's bob, straight, wavy, scary flat-top, long and layered, elvis quiff, non-descript, shaggy, boyish, long down to my waist. And the winner in my Hair Hall of Shame was that hideous day in the 80's when some moron layered my hair to within an inch of its life and drenched it in gel. She then made me hold my head upside down while she blow-dried my hair upwards and outwards until it was the size of Northumberland.

I'm weathering a bad-hair phase at the moment. But now I know there is only one style that suits me, I'm going to let my hair grow long again, wear it in a pony-tail most of the time, and never think about changing it ever again. Phew.