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Thursday, 23 October 2014

A friend.

So there I was feeling absolutely ghastly (using location diction of course) when the phone rang. I was listened to properly and then spoken to quietly. "It will be alright" was what I heard. But me being me (in a grump and feeling lousy) didn't believe her. I did, however, deal with 3 important things on my never-ending 'to do' list and hit the send button. I felt marginally better. I continued about my day with my eyes on the prize of Spinach Soup made with the local Daylesford Farm Shop Chicken Stock. And at £2.79 a pop, I felt very good value. I bought 2. I have frozen one. My day whizzed by as it seems to at the moment and I chased my tail from the school gates to the cooker to the bathroom to the fire back to the stove and then to bed. I got into bed and thought, "Hmm, I don't feel better". I was annoyed. Ping. A message from another friend reminding me of my mantra. I thanked her. I replied, "Tomorrow all will be well". I closed my eyes and slept for 8 hours.

I woke. I couldn't swallow. I ached. My eyes were burning and I felt like shit. I tip-toed downstairs trying not to wake my girls hoping they would, at least, wake with happy faces and grateful words for chopped up pear and sliced mango on the breakfast table.

"I hate Pear" said Nell.
"Good Morning Mummy" I responded.
"Can I have a pancake?" asked Mary.
"Please?" I tried.
"Ugh" repeated Nell and stomped to the fridge to get herself a chocolate pancake with eyes that accused me of poisoning her with fruit.

I breathed with difficultly and thought to myself. Are my kids old enough yet? Shall I take a risk? And with a deep breath I said this,

"Right SIT DOWN both of you. I want to tell you something that I haven't told you before."
They both looked up and didn't expect the next sentence.
"When I was about your age I was beaten black and blue every day of my life. When I was crying I would get hit again harder. When I was cold I was told it was too bad. I wasn't hungry because I was never fed. Granny didn't feed me and didn't look after me" with eyes wide open they said nothing so I continued,
"I was frightened every minute of every day. I longed for love and warmth. I am telling you this because if I had been given pear and mango for breakfast I would have be thrilled. I am doing everything I can to give you both the best of what I can afford. But it's hard. It's very hard because I am here on my own doing all of it. Now please just today, will you both try and be kind to me and each other and get yourselves ready for school without me shouting"

I breathed and looked at them. It was me that had tears in my eyes and Mary asked, "Why didn't Granny feed you?" so I explained that Granny had been sick when I was a little girl just as she was when she died. "Do you remember me telling you about Granny being sick?"
Nell replied, "Yes I do. She took lots of medicine when she wasn't really meant to".
"Kind of" I replied and then I explained that Granny had been an alcoholic and that she did things that she didn't know she was doing a lot of the time. I continued by saying that when they didn't appreciate the lengths that I go to to make them happy and healthy, it makes me sad. I get cross because they act as if it's normal to have such lovely things and it isn't. I said, "You already have had way more than I ever did when I was a child". They ate the fruit.

Needless to say within 10 minutes of this huge revelation and weight lifted from my shoulders, Mary had kicked Nell in the shin, toothpaste was on the new bathroom carpet and I had trodden in dog shit in my slippers. The lid came off.

"GET IN THE FUCKING CAR" I was no doubt heard yelling in my hormonal rage.

And then I lost the dog. My mothers dog. The one that had shat on the rug in the hallway that I had trodden in. A neighbour looked at me as I stomped around the village corner yelling for the little SHITzu because he had bolted. I muttered, "I'm not surprised you ran off you little shit. I'm going to fucking kill you when I find you". I didn't find him. The offer to take my girls to school for me was wasted but gratefully received and I got in the car with my feverish sweat running down my back.

"God I feel unwell today" I said to no one in particular as the girls sat in the back.

"Seat-belts" I instructed like I do every bleeding morning. Really? Are my children just bloody stupid or do they not think? I got to the school gates. I had no intention of getting out of the car and even though I wanted to kill the Shitzu, I was starting to worry that he might have really run off.

"WAIT!" I called after the children. They turned probably thinking, 'Now what?' I looked at them as though they were insane, "Kiss me!" I ordered.
"No way" said Mary but did. "Love you" I said.
"Sorry Mummy' said Nell as I kissed her, "So am I" I replied.

You see? It's always shit.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014


I'm quoting a friend of mine from yesterday,

"It's all shit. It's either bull shit, horse shit or dog shit but basically it's all shit"

Today as I sit here briefly before rushing through my entire day being frowned upon (already I have been given a look for forgetting the cross country training session at school at half eight for the fourth time in a row but I didn't forget home clothes day or a £5.99 bottle of wine as my contribution to the event tonight which I cannot attend because of lack of funds and babysitter) as I go to the local animal food store for chicken pellets and then the vets for more Spot on for the dogs before returning to iron a basket of clothes and put in an invoice that is 6 weeks over due..

I had a fight with Nell. I adore her. She hates me. She looks at me with utter contempt because she'd right, I'm a fucking idiot.

The sky is blue. The washing isn't quite on the line and our new kitchen table is too small. Words that have stuck with me since they were said.

I need to run away. I feel like this too often. Maybe I should simply open the door and let myself go..

I think the entire local population would breathe a huge sigh of relief. I can't do this anymore. My days are so full that I am about to burst. Full of shit.

Be grateful. Think positive. Look up. Appreciate the little things. It'll come right. Trouble is, in the core of all of it, is me. If I was you, I'd frown at me too. It's all bullshit. I want to light the fire, draw the curtains and hug my children. I will. Later.

Don't ask me if I'm okay but if you do, unless I tell you that I'm not, I'm lying.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

You okay?

I was asked yesterday or could it have been the day before?
"Yup. Why?"
"Because you haven't written for a while.." 

No shit. I have been busy. Contrary to the recent "local resident" who felt it entirely appropriate to not only critisize the morning delivery drive of our children to our local school but to judge those of us who drive in however long or short the distance rather than skip, walk or pogo stick.. An extract from this damning letter was copied and pasted into the school weekly newsletter so the entire parent population could read this one individuals opinion of how not to drive. I asked the apparent fellow parish council member yesterday if he recalled his involvement and he was flabber-ghasted. It wasn't him. I think it's a form of discrimination is it not to name and shame by using a street address, a job title or a head count of how many children you have birthed without checking first? Walk a mile in my shoes..

So this is my space and I shall rant. If I (capital I by the way for very good reason) choose to drive my children to school regardless of where I live (it is further than 250 yards unless you are wearing faulty bifocals) and illegally (yikes, imagine that, naughty naughty me) answer my persistently ringing mobile to the builder, plumber, electrician or perhaps a PPI seller, I bloody well will. I have not the time to walk leisurely or even send the childens' grandmother on my behalf (she died remember and actually walking wasn't her thing unless she was in a 5 star in Kanderstaag or Cloisters) and I cannot then chat outside the school about the latest recipe and go home to pop it in the oven as I flick through Women's Own or watch Philip Schofield. Although, as I WORKED yesterday, I was listening to him from upstairs in one of the holiday cottages and he is very good. It was a discussion of weird parenting. Pink lego for girls, triathlons for the under 7's and trying to locate your stop cock. A friend of mine prefers Jeremy Kyle but again, that's her choice. My point is MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS please.

So I did actually bake Brownies at the weekend as well as cook Roast Pork and paint the hallway and almost finish off the bathroom tiles. I also took my children for a rare walk in the woods, play hide and seek, got stuck up a tree (me not them), painted and waxed the kitchen cupboard, used 'no nails' and successfully hung up two curtain pelmets and had a smile on my face as I drank Gin at 2pm with cucumber not lemon. But, outside the school gates, for some reason I am seen as a woman who doesn't work. I also have several jobs (proper ones that I get paid for) and I am a mother without a husband at home. Actually, without a husband full stop. This isn't necessarily a good or a bad thing but seeing as when I used a drill (I'd forgotten this chore) to hang up some shelves in the newly painted hallway on saturday afternoon was told by a man who was fitting the upstairs carpet, "Oh I thought a man had arrived"..

We must all stop judging and putting pressure on each other when we are all simply trying to live. No one is perfect. All of us make mistakes. Sometimes, some of us break the rules and God Help Me, the law but for goodness sake there is more to life that screaming at our children to get to school on time just so that they are in with a chance of winning the "Attendance trophy". I actually would rather that mine won a prize for hard work, good manners, a knowledge of travel and decent food. But that's me and I'm not your average mother (apparently). I am looked at and frowned upon for wearing wellington boots with a dress. I am criticised for my use of the Ocado van and for taking my children out of school an hour early on the last day of half term to ensure a safe arrival at a yurt on the edge of the Brecon Beacons. I know it is now hugely "not on" to skip the odd hour or take a day off school for your babies when they are coughing incessantly but they are children. I want them to be well and happy above all else. When they are well, they are happy and when they are happy, they learn. It is that simple. Take the pressure off I beg you. David Cameron- who was it in your political party that decided that parents should be fined for not getting their children to school every single day? Who decided that 24 hours is enough now (it used to be 48 hours) following a vomiting bug? Who decided what was worthy of 'authorised absence in extreme circumstances'? Who decided that sitting down in a classroom chanting times tables and using a pencil rather than a pen so mistakes can be erased was better? Who decided that running wildly in the wind with the Autumn leaves on the floor was dangerous? I preferred 1970 when a plaster was put on your knee with some stinging antiseptic following a tumble on the asphalt as opposed to a note in your child's pink book requesting permission to administer first aid in fear of the Health and Safety policy being broken as they run on astroturf. My children love school. I love my children loving school.

Nell almost burst into tears this morning as we arrived in the school car park because she'd forgotten her trainers. Funny thing is, I am a bit nervous taking them into school for her. I have to go to the school office and deliver them asking if someone can take them to her classroom. It's no big deal really. We all forget things when we're under pressure. Even adults. Especially me. The thing is if there wasn't so much pressure and the demands for such high standards were perhaps lowered just a little, maybe, just maybe we wouldn't make so many mistakes? If you are late, you apologise and try harder next time. Don't you? Why do we need to get punished?

Wish me luck, I'm driving to school to take the trainers on my way to delivering someone's ironing and then go to a kitchen supplier. I might do a pirouette in my wellington boots as the wind today (with luck) lifts my dress up over my head right outside the school gates. I apologise in advance for finding this visual amusing. I hope the local resident who has elite driving as one of his credentials, is watching with the correct spectacles on. Although, it isn't PC, it shouldn't be done and I probably should ask permission on what to wear in high winds..

As far as I am aware it is still okay to smoke a fag in France, pee in a hole in India or be chased by a bull in Spain. What a pity we can't breathe for fear of being reprimanded in Britain. I am tip toeing out the door now.. I wonder will I get told off today?

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Everything but the kitchen sink..

and the flooring. But let's not split hairs. The extension is almost (I am not sure how many times I have used that word recently) done. People, friends, neighbours and passers-by ask me so often, "How's it coming on? Is it finished?" So I answer them. In the whole scheme of things it hasn't been too bad. Would I do it again? Not this year and only if I had the same builder. Efficient, honest and reliable. He has to come back next week to put the final stonework on the roof but he's done a brilliant job. It has been exhausting. Not sure why for me.. I haven't lifted many bricks myself but I have muscles now that didn't exist before and according to the joiner that came to fix in some units this morning, I've lost weight. The worry over whether or not I could afford extra detail has been worse than anything I have ever known. Worse than divorce, dare I say death too or any house move. I would put a kitchen extension up there on my list of most stressful things in my life to date. I have tried to zone out, walk over rubble and ignore the clouds of cement dust from the angle grinders but you cannot ignore the bills especially when the pot is a small one. Almost, so nearly done. I am so grateful.

In fact, I am so grateful that I intend to dance in the kitchen on the new floor tonight and then I might sit on my work top with a glass of wine and smile at the space around me.

I wish Mum could see it. She'd be livid that she paid for it but she'd like it I'm sure. I got my 'Go get it' attitude from her. On a good day, nothing would stop her. I think that's a good thing..

It's all about the bootie. Always. My girls will dance and we shall eat cake.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Ah Well.

Seriously, what was I expecting? I had, after all, arrived at Gatwick North surrounded by fellow travellers all of whom I imagine were as keen to get home as I.  It was pointed out to me by the man that I love that no one really likes passport control. Not even with a good run. He is right. Of course, he's right. That, in itself is annoying. But today, I love him with every breath in my body, every hair follicle (although that's not such a good visual) and with every single heart beat. And no, I am not drunk. I am, however, shattered from lack of sleep yet again and bleary eyed. And because of this, I've decided it's a fine way to pass the day when it's rainy and grey on a tuesday.

This below is for my friends. Because you are the ones that will smile when you see it. Genius. Isn't Life simply brilliant sometimes?

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Oh Dear.

I knew that it was only a matter of time. Nothing ever lasts. Not forever anyway. That's the reality. I joked with a friend of mine as I sat on the decking outside my room yesterday mid morning that I might really focus on staying in first gear until noon today back in England. I hadn't barely walked five steps into the airport in London when I found myself muttering, "You fucking morons. It's a queue. Go around" because sadly, it seems the British especially are really stupid when it comes to queuing. We would rather stand in a queue and not move than dare peer around the corner for an alternative. There are 2 types of people in this world, I decided there and then, ones that queue for hours moaning and sighing and suggesting the possibility of another option and then there are those of us that say simply, "Fuck this" and step to the side and take a risk.

I have spent my life stepping to the side. Why wouldn't I? I spent my former years pushed and shoved in all directions depending on the family mood. It was an obvious outcome that when finally, I was considered adult (this still amuses me hugely) that I was allowed to buck the system and walk a different path. I am still walking against the majority of the traffic. The herd of sheep go naturally one way, obliviously following the others, step by step, heads down and here am I, eyes searching for another way out.

It is so obvious always. I say it time and time again. Just stop, breathe, shut your eyes and we all know the answer. I am a mother. First and foremost. Even when I don't need to be her It is my natural instinct to nuture and protect. I have always been co-dependant and I accepted that stigma, role, addiction, need- choose wisely but not without knowledge of what I refer to- many years ago. I have taught myself to detach and let go and not get involved unless absolute necessary. It often, isn't my problem. I walk away concentrating on what is mine and try and remove myself from whatever situation has unfolded in front of my needy eyes. But when I hear a story about a 6 year old boy who for obvious reasons to me is crying at his (36 at last head count) birthday party, I ask what happened. I was appalled at the answer. He had a headache I was told. (Not surprisingly. Birthday parties especially children's ones are, to me, like torture at the best of times but add to that the pressure that it's all about you and your head will thump) The solution? Was to put this child without his birthday balloon into a car in the car park for the final 10 minutes or so of the party. He was left alone. Sounds bliss but he's six years old. Where were his parents? Too busy fighting silently over who had carried his cake no doubt. His grandmothers? They were huffing and puffing working out which side to stand on. I don't want to get involved. The trouble is that I am involved.

The rain is hitting my window in front of me as I look through the candle light into the dark morning. Why am I awake? Visions and dark memories have prevented me from sleeping. Being a young child, for me, was the worst time of my life. I was shut in a car, a room, a stable. In the dark. Left to cry quietly hoping that it wasn't my life. My parents would hit out, hit at and hurt each other because they were both completely miserable and frustrated. I remember Dad sitting on the edge of my bed one night telling me in a really unusual voice that he and my mother were getting divorced. I was 7 years old. You know what I thought? Thank God for that.

Don't be moronic with your head down and follow a path that isn't necessarily the right one going in the right direction. Dare to look upwards and step to the side. It isn't just me standing over here. There are possibilities and alternatives. How is life ever going to change if you follow with your eyes shut? I talk a lot of shit I grant you but when it comes to living in a miserable home with miserable parents who create a worse sadness around them, I know that I am right. Stop blaming everyone else or making excuses for crying children. Take responsibility at least for your own future and go against the grain. It's so obvious. Or go and sit in the car and stop moaning.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Before sunrise.

I woke this morning without being woken. It wasn't early but neither was it late. I crept out of my idyllic, private room and it was dark. Not night time but not quite dawn. It was breaking, almost.

So barefoot and pant free, I wandered down the steps and around the corner. There is another room on the opposite side to me that has the view of the valley. The same valley written about in 'Driving over Lemons' by Chris Stewart. The author lives next door. Down the road and around the corner. I heard the goats that he wrote about yesterday as I sat still. It is amazing what you do actually hear if you sit still. I need to force myself so often to stop. I stood and looked. Life is amazing.

In a matter of hours, I will be hurtling down the Spanish mountain (hopefully not too often on 2 wheels) around the hair-pin bends to the airport. Then I will board the plane which will take me back to the land that I love. I occasionally forget just how much I love home but by stepping outside of my busy life, even for a short weekend, I am reminded. I am so very lucky. We all need to appreciate what we have. Stand still, sit or lie down and just feel it.

My coffee is on the gas stove as I sit on the decking outside my room. It is silent but for the birds, the occasional creature in the bushes and a distant tractor. The donkey has just woken up and brayed a beautiful 'Hola'. I wonder if this feels like a tiny piece of Heaven to me because I know it's a glimmer of what I rarely have or whether I am actually experiencing a tiny piece of Heaven? I feel blessed. I feel truly stilled and calm.

My coffee is ready.