D went to work on Friday and L, P and I went off to the branch library we like. We had a great time, as usual. I have read somewhere that Roland Meighan advocates the turning over of all schools and associated resources to the public library service – to augment their wonderful work. I can understand his thinking – the public library has been an important part of the kids' lives from babyhood and they seem so happy there. I like it because it is public space where we all feel at home. The kids curl up and read on comfy chairs and I browse around – and then we borrow lots of stuff. This week Pearl borrowed a couple more Tintin books and Leo settled down with an adventure book about someone called Samantha Cardigan. L. has read 32 pages so far - entirely unaided. I'm not sure that he is managing every word but his enthusiasm is obviously carrying him through. We also borrowed two jigsaws and Junior Pictionary.
In the afternoon I took the kids down to the local park, which has a paddling pool. This park has been at the centre of some furore in recent weeks, after the attendants were threatened. The council withdrew the attendants and then, of course, people were worried about their children's safety. On Friday the attendants were back, along with notices stating that the police would be patrolling regularly with dogs! That was not great for us as it sent P into a panic, as she is very nervous of dogs at the moment. Needless to say we didn't see any police at all – so she needn't have worried. This park has always been a bit dodgy from time to time. We have been offered drugs there, witnessed horrible rows between drug users (with their toddlers in tow, rather sadly) and tried to explain to our kids the three drug users all piling in to the 20p loo together. We are lucky in that this is as close as we ever come to Brighton's drug problems - unless you count our two night-time burglaries, which were probably related. And it is a local park, with a pool and café with friendly patrons, as well as good climbing stuff. I went there as a child, though my mum remembers being warned off it in the 1940s as it was frequented by 'razor gangs' – all very 'Brighton Rock' – so maybe nothing really changes.
On Friday night D and I went out to a dance night, which is aimed at mums, so it runs early. This was somewhat strange – it was not unlike being at a school disco. But the dj did play our request 'Love Shack' by the B52s, so that was good. I suffered for the next two days with painful knees and hips, which made me feel ancient.
I went to work and D took the kids to the birthday party of one of our HE group friends. This was a fairly mammoth, though actually quite straightforward, journey to their lovely house out in the country. They had a wonderful time – ate loads of popcorn, homemade biccies and other yummy stuff – and enjoyed seeing their friends. It is amusing though that, when D was describing the beautiful house and surroundings, both kids declared,
"Yes, but I wouldn't want to live there."
They are real townies at heart – just like their mums!
Sunday we all went to the open day at the allotments where my mum and partner have a plot. This beautiful place is threatened with destruction, as the council want to tarmac it (and consign six houses to the same fate) to build a carpark for a park and ride scheme! Keep finding myself humming that Joni Mitchell song, 'Big Yellow Taxi', and I MUST remember to write a letter to the council. The allotments were positively glowing in the summer sun and we bought plants and lunch.
In the afternoon we went to 'Madagascar'. This was very thin on plot but had some good gags and the kids enjoyed it. Within ten mins of leaving the cinema Leo was declaring his need for toys and sticker books of the film – so no doubt the makers would be happy.
In the evening we all played Junior Pictionary. This was good fun, though D and I had to draw slowly and hold fire with guesses from time to time! Both L and P drew some really good pictures and L managed nearly all the reading involved.
On Monday our HE group was meeting in a park across town. Our numbers were few but the kids had a good time with the friends that were there and on the play equipment. It has a very mild flying fox thing, which P swung around on. There were also two kinds of seesaw, which led Leo into a lot of weight and balance related activities when the kids got home.
I had to rush off to work in the middle of the meet, once D arrived. On the way to work I met a friend who was a volunteer at the local breastfeeding group at the same time as me, and she has just decided to HE her little boy too. Great!
I brought home a maths books from work that was written in the 1980s for pupils following a mode 3 CSE course – i.e. those people deemed to be very weak academically. It was interesting, as it was put together with lots of 'real world' examples of how to use maths – like catalogue shopping, and using timetables, as well as some simple arithmetic. P and I did some of the fractions exercises while she was having a bath.
D went to work all day today. P and I took L to the grandmothers' house for his weekly visit and went to try to hire a bike in the park. Unfortunately the bike hire shop was shut, so we ate our sandwiches and went to town instead. P decided to blow her savings (and get a £1 advance on her pocket money) to buy a dalek key ring that she has had her eye on. It was a ridiculous price – but she is very pleased. Then we popped in to a second-hand bookshop and bought a few things: a horrible history that P has had from the library but wanted to own, an Olga DaPolga for P. and a little Dick King Smith book for L., about a baby elephant with hayfever. It seemed to be the very thing we needed at the moment!
When we got home, P amused herself with a Tintin video and then she browsed around the Wrigley's website. Chewing gum is a recent discovery for P and she is pretty obsessed at the moment! She read out interesting facts to me, about the launch dates of different chewing gum products, while I attempted to sort through the massive pile of clean and un-ironed clothes. I decided almost everything didn't need to be ironed and shoved it all away in drawers – sorted!
When L came home we went to the up-the-hill park to play with all the Brighton cousins, who had just come out of school for the day. This was a lovely end to the day - three mums, one grandmother, and five kids all enjoying tea, coffee and ice lollies. The kids played their O.U.E. game together for a while too. This is a secret explorer organisation, to which they all belong. P was inspired to write a secret coded letter to her cousin S (age 7) this evening – and she and D have just been out to deliver it. A gang of five cousins all within two minutes walk is really a blessing.
I am reading 'James and the Giant Peach' to Leo at bedtimes at the moment, and it is a real pleasure. He is hanging on every word and I am loving the story all over again. Dani is reading Michael Morpurgo's 'Twist of Gold' to P., which they report is excellent. We left them both reading other things to themselves tonight, but I hope they remember to go to sleep. P assured me that she was reading at 5am recently - I can only hope that she mis-read the clock!
The Woman Who Met Her Match – Fiona Gibson.
1 hour ago