Monday, December 31, 2007

Busy doing nothing…

We’ve been:

Shopping. Sock shortages led to me actually ironing socks dry for L! We went to town and Pearlie spent Christmas money on a clockwork alarm clock. Leo bought himself another Sarah Jane Adventures toy. Dani had a good time in C and H Fabrics with her vouchers and got lovely wool for a waistcoat for L.

Socialising. The elder of my brothers had his birthday yesterday so we all went round for tea and nibbles. The kids and I also went out with cousin B and his mum to see Bee Movie, on Friday. The kids liked it but I thought it was pretty awful. I didn’t take enough water and had to buy a bottle for £2.50 when I was struck down with a fierce coughing fit during the film.

Coughing. Pearlie, Leo and I are still at the tail end of this illness. I seem to cough very little all day and then, as soon as I try to sleep, be unable to stop. This is tough on Dani who is back at work now. Kids are a bit spluttery still but basically ok.

Eating. I’m really feeling the need for more exercise!

Not writing our annual report. We send one to the Local Authority every year but I haven’t felt very inspired yet. I will do it in the next few days. Now I’ve put that on the blog then I have to!

We’re off to see The Golden Compass once D’s finished at work. Better get dressed…

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Festive reflection

We all seem quite a lot better today – which is a huge relief. My dad and his wife came for lunch today. We did lazy supermarket quiches with salads (home made potato salad to make it a bit less lazy!) and other bits and bobs. I made a raspberry and peach trifle (with just a hint of rum) and we had meringues with fresh berries and cream for those who don’t trifle. We all ate lots of that and then lolled about chatting and consuming some of the chocolate mountain. One of my brothers popped in with cousin B (who is now eight!) and we drank tea while the kids played. My dad and his wife had to leave relatively early to get bus back to ‘the back of beyond’ (family joke about their choice to live in mid-Sussex rather than Brighton or Hove) but my brother and cousin B stayed for a while longer. B’s mum turned up once she had finished work, which was nice. We made a plan to take the kids to see Bee Movie together tomorrow. I do expect it to be rather dire but feel the need to get the kids out of the house and don’t feel energetic enough (still coughing) for much else. Dani is back to work in the morning.

I have been mulling over Christmas a bit. The ill health has certainly taken the shine off things somewhat but the kids have been wonderful in spite of all. Pearlie put loads of effort into making cards this year and bought me and Dani two presents each. Leo also made lots of cards and gave gifts. Pearlie has plans to save up more of her own money so she can buy more presents next year.

It was a real shame that Pearlie and I missed so much of the time with the visiting Watford and Leicestershire relatives. It isn’t easy to get that whole clan together, as everyone is so busy, but I think we’ll have to try to re-arrange something for the spring.

I think we did a better job with the kids’ presents than we have in previous years. We were helped by the fact that neither of the kids asked for anything huge. We picked a few things they’d asked for and bought a few surprises. I have to confess to relief that they didn’t ask for anything like DS Lites, or whatever they’re called, just because it is so much money for a single item – and they weren’t easy to find. My brother had to do a mad dash across town to get one for cousin B, after his mum had been given special permission to phone round all the shops from her work! We had a wonderful moment yesterday when Pearlie was building quietly with her miniature bricks and mortar set and Leo was deep into an imaginary game with his Doctor Who figures and a nice toy dragon I found for them to ride on – very peaceful and 1970s! I don’t think we bought them any single item that cost more than £20 – and spent less in total than last year – which felt better. Mind you, Pearlie needs a new bike this year and we’re thinking of getting her a Dahon folding bike, so her birthday could involve major expense. And, Leo wants a portable DVD player to make camping more Leo-friendly, so his birthday could be pricey too!

One of the things I didn’t mention before is that Pearlie and cousin S (Brighton based cousin S!) had been working for months to prepare a treasure hunt for Leo, cousin B and cousin D to do at the grandmothers’ Christmas Eve gathering. One of the things that was most worrying for P when she was feeling ill was that she would miss this. In the end she was ok to go and I was very relieved, as both the girls had put so much thought into it. They did rhyming clues and each clue contained a bit of a large map, which led the boys to the treasure (chocolate coins) at the end. One of the grandmothers got the boys to do three cheers for S and P, which was lovely.

Books are featuring largely here. I didn’t get many this year, which was odd, but am enjoying Unspeak by Stephen Poole, which was a gift from my dad. Dani’s reading that too, when she’s not knitting! Pearlie is reading The Secret of the Crocodiles and I’m looking forward to sharing Flight of the Silver Turtle with her as a bedtime book. Leo was given the first two Artemis Fowl books, and he is enjoying the first one. They don’t look like my cup of tea, so I’ll be pleased if he continues to read them alone!

Right, I’m off to watch Waking the Dead – we bought a boxed set for ourselves as we always seem to miss it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

In amongst the coughing

There has been some festive stuff here, in spite of the horrible illness. Yesterday I made the mistake of coming off the painkillers for a few hours and having a couple of glasses of cava. My temperature went up and I felt awful. I’m back on the pills today and trying not to talk. For some reason I seem to get every infection in my voicebox this year. This must be the third time I’ve bee robbed of my voice in the last six months. The kids are no longer being dosed up but both have nasty coughs. But, yesterday Leo was well enough to casually eat a whole selection box, so he can’t be that ill! Pearlie is doing remarkably well – eating bits and bobs and busy playing with her cousin S today. Dani is enjoying having time to knit. I think she was starved of her needles when we had to spend all our time decorating.

Here are some photos of the last week.

Pearlie is behind that drum kit! Our camera isn't good enough to get a decent shot of her. This is the Squeezebox Rocks gig on 21st December.

Leo playing at the gig.
Winter afternoon at the marina, where visiting aunt, uncle and grandparents were staying over the weekend.
Leo opening his Sarah Jane Adventures sonic lipstick and scanner watch. He was very chuffed with it.
Pearlie opening a Horrible Histories Jigsaw. She and I did it yesterday afternoon.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas eve in the house of cough

Thanks to all for your good wishes.

Pearlie slept most of yesterday and was still feverish and floppy this morning. This afternoon she has got much better. She has a nasty gurgling cough and is very pale but she managed to make it over to the grandmothers' house for presents and yummy tea. It is very sad that she missed so much of the visiting family fun this last weekend but it's looking like she'll be able to enjoy Christmas day, so that's good. She's eating a bit, which is a relief.

Leo's cough is very bad. He coughs for a very long spell and then does a great gasp for air. This is dramatic enough to have us googling whooping cough. He is vaccinated but it seems that that vaccine does wear off. It probably isn't whooping cough, just a terrible cough, but he is very tired by it.

I have lost my voice and feel like someone's been sandpapering my throat.

Dani is not ill (so far) and I've got my fingers crossed that she'll stay healthy.

So, that's our health update!

Other news is that we've given and received some lovely gifts with visiting family over the weekend and some of our Brighton relatives today. The gig was great and I need to get photos off the camera.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sick kids

Kids did their Squeezebox gig on Friday, already dosed up with Nurofen and Calpol. Ill health seems to be sweeping the kids of the town and there were some kids too ill to perform. Ours soldiered on bravely.

We have family down here for the weekend but celebrations are being well and truly scuppered by illness. Today, Leo seems to be much better in himself - though he is coughing a lot - but poor P is really ill. She doesn't often succumb to illness - but when she does it's pretty dramatic. I'm at home with her while everyone is off at the bowlplex. She is sleeping at the moment, with high fever. I think it is just a seasonal virus, but the timing could hardly have been worse. I'm really hoping she is on the mend by tomorrow. She is such a slender little thing and when I was sponging her down earlier she looked tiny. I don't remember her being this ill for years. I have a head full of cold and ache a lot but its nothing compared to poor P. Better go and check on her. No point calling doctor as I'm sure they'll just say to give drugs, water and sponge her if her fever is very high - all of which we're doing.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Groups and stuff

Kids had their last session at Kids’ Club before the festive break. I realised today that I usually mention the kids’ various groups without much explanation. Kids’ Club runs three times a week. Pearl goes twice and Leo once, at the moment. In the new year, all being well, Leo will go twice too.

The group is for home educated kids between the ages of six and (roughly) eleven. There is a play worker to lead each session. The session lasts for two and a half hours. The play worker prepares things for the kids to do, based on topics which the kids choose by discussion and voting. No-one has to do those things – there is always scope for an alternative activity. The kids eat lunch together and there is space outdoors to play. I’m very grateful to the home educators who set it up, as it is great for our kids just now.

The kids are performing in the fabulous Squeezebox Rocks gig tomorrow. These gigs happen twice a year, and are an opportunity for the kids who learn music at Squeezebox to perform in a big venue. Squeezebox is just the sort of music learning environment I wish I’d had access to as a child/teenager. The kids choose songs they want to play and have fun, productive sessions working together to achieve that end. It is very much about the here and now, which suits our educational philosophy well.

I learned to play the flute as a child, playing pieces I didn’t like, over and over again, to prepare for exams. I was deemed ‘good at it’ and took grades three, four and five between the ages of ten and twelve. I didn’t develop a love of classical music – and classical music was all that was on offer. In my teenage years I found music I really loved and lost all my enthusiasm for learning the flute. I hated the endless competitive festivals, exams, and bitching in the orchestras.

Tonight we’re off to see Pearlie in some skits at her Woodcraft group. Her group is led by a very experienced woman who appears to be loved by the kids. Pearlie enjoys the sessions and the opportunities for trips and camps. It’s a shame that Leo’s group folded but I actually think that Woodcraft probably comes into its own when the kids are older and can enjoy it more independently of their parents. I’m not sure if Leo will want to re-join when he’s old enough for Pioneers (nine) but if he does then he can.

The kids are taking a break from capoeira at the moment and Leo and I have just left our other weekly home ed group. I’m glad the week has a few more ‘group free’ windows in it now as we had definitely got over-stretched. We all appreciate more time for other things.

I must go and make some early tea for everyone. Tomorrow we have cousins arriving to stay. Aunt, uncle and grandparents are staying in a flat at the marina. They are all here until Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Time warp? Reality? Housework.

A quick aside... Yesterday, on the train on the way home, we were surrounded by commuters. Being on commuter trains with the kids is far easier than it used to be now the kids are older, more sensitive to the atmosphere, and so sit and read or draw in silence. Happy, chattering kids tend to make commuters look murderous at the end of a long day!

Somewhere in mid Sussex the man opposite us made a quick call.
"Hello, I'll be in about quarter to seven. What's for dinner?"
Listens to reply.
"And for dessert?"
Listens to reply.
"Good. See you later."

The train got later and later as we kept having to wait for platforms. I was thinking about the dinner waiting for the man. Eventually he made another call.

"Yes, it's me. The train's late so I won't be in for another half hour or so."
Listens to reply.
"Don't start without me."
End of call.

All sorts of rude words were floating in my head at this point! What a damn cheek! He clearly assumed his partner would do the following:
Make him a meal.
Make him a dessert. (!)
Wait until he was home before eating.

Now, maybe all this is part of some negotiated agreement, but the general tone of the calls was such that I'd have been inclined to lob the dinner at him out of an upstairs window - no matter what the agreed division of labour in the home! The guy could have been talking to a male partner, or his mum, or his housemate, but something just made me sure he was talking to his wife. How many grown men are there these days who still expect this kind of 'service'? I knew lots back in the seventies, but I kind of hoped that this attitude was dying out.

If I'm out at work then I do expect D to feed the kids. But if I'm home late from work (as I am two or three nights a week) I might find food waiting for me and I might not. It depends on what the others have had, and how busy D is, and if we've got any spuds in. I don't expect food any more than I expect to have my clothes washed, carpets hoovered, or toilet cleaned. That's because I'm an adult. What the hell is going through someone's mind when they think they can just get their needs met by another person like that? What seems to happen is that they stop appreciating what the other person does for them - and just expect it.

We're planning a change in laundry round here. Plan is for the kids to each have a basket for their own dirty clothes, do their own wash each week, and then hang stuff on an airer in their own rooms to dry. Things can then go straight in their own drawers - unless they want to learn how to iron! Who knows if it will work, but we thought we'd give it a try. After all, I don't want either of my kids turning into Mr Commuter! Lol!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Tree drama, bouncing grandmother, all painted out and a dead king…

It seems that Christmas is really coming – all of a sudden, as it seems to these days. Not much time to blog, so here’s a short explanation of the title!

Tree drama. We had our annual row and bickering match while dragging the old buggy up to the garden centre for a tree and found the centre had no trees left! A phone call to B&Q found they had sold out too. Dani phoned the lovely, local delivery people and they had one little, storm damaged tree left. We have given it a home in our living room. It looks fine now it has lights and decs on.

Bouncing grandmother. My mum’s partner got knocked down by a car, while in search of nice whiskey to give my mum for Christmas! According to an observer she did a somersault and landed on her back. She is battered and bruised but otherwise uninjured. We are very relieved it wasn’t worse.

Living room painted. Dani and I worked like loons over the weekend to get the walls in the living room done. They are a warm gingery/orange/terracotta and it is super cosy in our basement now.

We are skint and doing the cash flow juggle over Christmas – but I guess that is inevitable if you go in for work as extensive as that we’ve had done. Pressies are on the credit card but we don’t do debt, so we have to make sure we’ve got enough to pay it all off at the end of the month. I get paid tomorrow, which is good.

Dead king. I took the kids to London to see the Tutankhamun exhibition today.

A local home edder had got us group rates, which made it affordable. It was at the O2 arena thingy, where I’d never been before. I allowed way too much time to find it (it is quite large and unmissable!) and it was cold, even inside the dome, so we were pretty desperate to get in to the warm once our time slot came round. We all enjoyed it. The kids took extensive notes (all day, actually – including details from the train) and made sketches. The journey home in the rush hour was less enjoyable but we got home to some food (thanks, Dani x) and now the kids are tucked up in warm beds.

Dani has gone to her knitting group – and I need to go and give the great bowl of mincemeat a stir…

Oh, and here's the kids on the meridian.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Books and bangs and making and shopping

Gawd, it’s busy here. We have finished decorating P’s room and the new kitchen. Now we need to paint the front half of the basement – our living room. I’m not entirely certain that we’ll get it done this side of Christmas, though I’d like to. There are little patches of matchpot paint here and there, which will look very odd with the Christmas decs!

I’m reeling after a whole day in town Christmas shopping. I met up with my mum at 10am and we had a really good trip - checking lists, advising each other on purchases, and eating eggs on toast in a cafĂ© for lunch. My mum had to go and pick up nephew and niece from school, but I stayed on for another couple of hours. Nearly all done now, which is something of a relief.

I got home to find that everyone had been engaged in Christmas card making. Dani is out at her work Christmas meal but the children and I have continued making cards this evening. Buying card blanks is an extravagance we’ve never indulged before, but it has been a real hit. We spent a lovely couple of harmonious hours making and admiring each others’ creations.

Last night we went to the Bigger Bang Show, in town. It was really good – lots of loud noises, bright lights and jollity. Man in Faraday cage, getting zapped with electricity, was fun.

Yesterday afternoon we had another shopping excursion into town, involving complicated swaps of mums, so the kids could buy us, and each other, presents.

Finally, a quick mention of books:

Dani and Pearlie have just finished Kit’s Wilderness as a bedtime book. Dani says it was lovely – spooky, haunting and truthful.

Leo and I enjoyed The Arabian Nights. We were in a roll with classic tales and last night I found a great telling of Ivan and the Sea King, in an anthology. We also re-read a family favourite, A Gift From Winklesea.

Pearlie is nearing the end of The Tiger in the Well, which she has loved. She’s been telling us a lot about it.

Leo is deep in Dav Pilkey land, again. He spends a lot of time on the Pilkey web site, reading all the biographical information and enjoying the copies of Pilkey’s childhood creations, which can be found there. Leo was pleased with a book all about Comics and Graphic Novels. Some of Leo’s own latest creations are evil Turbo Tweezers, The Incredible Lizard, and the Evil Robo-Guy. These feature in comic books and graphic novels. He works on these novels over several days.

Dani's just finished Now is the Time to Open your Heart, by Alice Walker. I'm loving A Winter Book by Tove Jansson.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

In a tea shop

Before I start, let's just re-cap on some basics about me and Dani.

Dani is about five inches taller than me.
I wear specs - D has perfect vision.
Dani has black hair and I have mousy brown.
I have family chubby cheeks - D does not.
We also have different body shapes.

The other day, while the kids were involved in the dress rehearsal for their panto, Dani and I had an hour or two to kill in town. It was pouring with rain and there was no point going home just to come out again so, after we'd dropped the kids at the church hall, we legged it to the nearest cafe. This turned out to be a greasy spoon. It was a rather remarkable find in Brighton. It had typed menus on the tables and served things like 'Banana Longboats' and 'Knickerbocker glories', as well as all the 'something, chips and peas' options you could expect from a cafe twenty or thirty years ago. Cafes in town here tend to be rather swish and over-priced, generally, and serve cakes and drinks you don't recognise.

We were rather pleased with the place and made two teas last a good long while. Behind us were three old women who sat in a row, facing our table. They were talking all the time and every now and then went a bit 'muttery'. Eventually we'd sat there as long as was decent without buying more tea, so we got up to go. As we wrapped ourselves in waterproofs and headed for the door, one of the women called out to us.

"Are you twins?"

She said it with the air of Oliver Twist, like she'd been picked to ask, while the others sat there expectantly. There wasn't much we could say, really, except to say that we weren't. They looked quite dissatisfied with that - and off we went into the rain.

Twins??! It isn't that odd to be taken for sisters - what with wearing similar clothes, having developed similar speech patterns over the years, and clearly being very close - people sometimes do mis-read us. But twins? Have we really got that similar that our radically different colouring and height difference have become invisible?

It is especially funny as the cafe is on the edge of what is, these days, called Brighton's gay village. I wonder if those women amuse themselves by sitting there all day and asking gay people if they are related, in ever more bizarre ways. I can see it now...

To gay couple with age difference. "Is he your grandson?"

To lesbian couple with very butch partner. "Is he your brother?"

To foursome of gay men. "Are you the Jackson Five?"

To older dyke ladies. "You're the Beverley Sisters, aren't you? Where's the other one..."

I bet the days fly by.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

He’s behind you!

Both the kids, and a lot of their friends, put on a lovely panto performance for an appreciative audience this morning.

The plot was quite complex, and the play featured Leo as both pig and innkeeper, Pearlie as a highwaywoman, and an assortment of other engaging characters such as talking horses, a fortune teller, a strong man, a duke and duchess, gypsies and ballgoers.

It was pretty much as chaotic as I was expecting (quite a lot) but was remarkable for the fact that everyone was clearly having a good time. I thought all the kids worked together really well, supported each other, and managed to tell their story clearly and with panache.

My photos are rubbish, but here are just a couple to show the kids’ costumes.

I am particularly proud of Leo’s ears and tail. Here they are by themselves, for any knitters reading!

Other recent events have included:

  • my birthday yesterday. I got lots of lovely presents and Allie made the most delicious lemon drizzle cake. Thanks and yum!
  • watching cousin S. playing violin at a gigantic carol concert involving children from all the local primary schools
  • painting and decorating
  • artistic endeavour – Leo is churning out comics and graphic novels, and P. made a beautiful slot-together Christmas tree to go in her bedroom window
  • a lovely library trip, where we all made serendipitous discoveries on the shelves at every turn

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Where are you going to, Little Brown Mouse?

Just recently I’ve found myself thinking about what we want for our children – and the futures we imagine for them. I think most (if not all) parents think about their childrens’ adult lives. I am a great one for day dreaming – story telling in my head. Sometimes I like to imagine how my kids might look in their twenties. I might just create a mental image of a smile or a phone call.

Of course, I can’t help but imagine them happy. That’s what I want – happy and healthy adults that my kids will become. But I know that I can’t make that happen - not really, not at all. Life is far more of a lottery than we care to admit. Just a quick flit around my past can turn up young adults who developed substance abuse problems, or were schizophrenic, or who self-harmed, or who had eating disorders. Some of that might have been predicted by those who knew those people, but plenty was not. That’s the scariest aspect of parenting - the haunting feeling that my children might suffer in those ways - and I wouldn’t see it coming. And, of course, there’s the random accident or terminal illness that could snatch them away.

I know I can’t do anything to stop most of those scenarios. I know that they are free people who will make their choices and that fate can deal us all a nasty kick somewhere painful, when we least expect it. But, what I hope I can do – what I try to do – is to give them my love, like some kind of fortifying tonic for the years to come. Do you remember that Ready Brek advert from the 1970s/80s? How the kids ate the Ready Brek and went out into the cold morning, glowing and warm? That’s how I hope my children will feel as young adults. Even if the wind bites sometimes, and they despair, there will be a little spark of that glow inside them.

For me, part of that love is not to expect them to follow any path in terms of education or career. I want them to know that nothing they choose could make me love them more, or less. That I trust them to make their choices – and they should trust themselves too. I want them to know that I respect them as individuals and have no magic eye through which I can direct them along a ‘successful’ path.

Sometimes I wonder if that is more of a pressure than that felt by children whose parents do plan out a future, or at least expect a particular path. I know that when I was nine or ten I was sure that I’d be going to university. Someone must have told me that – and I didn’t feel it as a particular pressure. But I suspect that it did stop me thinking as far, and as wide, as I might otherwise. It was a goal that I had been given and I didn’t do too well at thinking beyond it. And I was scared of a scenario where that didn’t happen. I was quite unsure of who I might be if I didn’t go to university.

I think that all this is floating round my head as P is nearing the age of eleven. Suddenly I can see the teenage years looming. Let’s just hope the Ready Brek is going to do its job…

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Vertical - just...

Blimey, that was a cracking migraine. I reckon its the worst I've had in months, if not years. I woke to the feeling of knives being driven into one eye. I was determined to get up for work, as in eleven years I've never had to call in sick on a weekend shift. I drank some water, swallowed painkillers and went to have a bath. Five minutes later I was throwing up the painkillers and water. The pain was accompanied by flashes in my vision and an overwhelming feeling of anxiety. I also couldn't string my words together properly.

In the end I had to recognise that I just couldn't make it to work. Thank goodness I was on with another qualified member of staff, otherwise the library can't open. Dani looked up my colleague in the phone book and called to let her know. I went to bed, where I've been on and off all day.

So, what triggered that?

I'm going to list all the triggers as a reminder to myself not to let this happen again:

Low blood sugar in the afternoon - didn't take enough food to work
Drinking a small bottle of beer instead of water with my dinner
Eating white chocolate cheesecake
Lack of sleep over several nights
Rushing to get to the pizza place from work
Stress about several things at once and no time to process with D
Suppressing upset feelings
Painting with satinwood paint that has a nasty 'heady' smell, when I was already feeling strangely lethargic

Migraine runs down the female line in my family and I do know how to handle it, usually. But waking up in the middle of a monster is just impossible.

I'm left feeling like someone has punched me about a bit, and still vaguely dizzy. I'll be moving slowly over the next few days.


It’s been a funny weekend, with Pearlie away. We took the opportunity to get started on painting her room, so I went to B&Q on Friday night (in the pouring rain) to get paint, and Allie and I stayed up stupid late filling, priming and painting.

Leo and I spent a peaceable and productive Saturday together. He went to a writing workshop at the library in the morning, which he enjoyed greatly. The workshop was being run to encourage kids to enter the Write around Air Street competition which is currently running, and he came up with a lovely poem about clouds:


When I look up high I see…

A pirate ship sailing to France,
Speech bubbles hanging over people,
Mashed potatoes waiting to be eaten,
Ice cream melting in the sun,
And peas rolling down a blue plate.

© Leo, 2007

He is hopeful about winning, but I think it will inevitably be something of a lottery, as they are bound to get loads of entries.

While we were waiting for the library to open, we looked at a photographic exhibition in the square outside, which has been put together by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance. I told Leo some basic facts about HIV and AIDS. When I said that HIV stood for ‘human immunodeficiency virus’, he astonished me by thinking for a second and then coming straight back with “so it affects their immune system”. He was bewildered by my explanation that people in poor countries continue to die from AIDS because they can’t get hold of the expensive drugs they need – “why don’t they just send them the drugs?”, he said. Why, indeed? I took and sent some postcards being given out by a volunteer standing next to the exhibition, to ask my MP and the prime minister the same question.

Allie had gone to work by the time we got home, having squeezed in a bit more painting, so we pottered about together for the afternoon. He rattled out several more fantastic comics, I read an interesting book I’d borrowed from the library, and made brioche dough, we popped into the local community centre where there was an arts and crafts fair going on, but didn’t buy anything.

By 4 o'clock, when we had to go out again, it was really pouring down, and we both got soaked during the 5 minute walk to the bus stop. Cousin B’s birthday celebration was an extended family gathering at a pizza restaurant in town. We met Allie there, together with 3 cousins, 3 aunts and uncles, 4 grandparents, plus two more of B’s grandparents as well. Pearlie was missed, but it was a lovely meal, and we all made pigs of ourselves.

Once Leo was in bed, Allie and I made the mistake of pressing on with the decorating instead of going to bed ourselves, with the result that she has been laid up with a cracking migraine all day today.

Leo has produced loads more brilliant comics today, all without ever getting dressed! I cooked brioche for a late breakfast (yummy, but quite a hassle to make), tidied up, looked after Allie a bit, and gratefully accepted a lift from a friend when it was time to go and collect Pearlie.

She seems to have had a fantastic time, and came back bubbling with tales of rain soaked walking, hilarious games, a spider-filled attic, close proximity to cows, and enormous waves crashing over the marina wall on their journey home. It’s good to have her back.