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It’s that most wonderful time of the year

Bah Humbug!

Oh, I’m late.  Christmas has been and gone.  Actually I like Christmas.  Even though this years festivities were hampered by infantile insomnia, universal man-flu and doggy incontinence we had a great time.  Helen and Sally have spent the last week fighting over the inflatable pink throne given to Helen by my aunt and I have spent as much time as possible in bed reading my kindle.  I take it all back. I can finally read in bed without Allan grumping at me.  All hail technology.

But New Year…………that is quite a different kettle of fish.  I’ve never really got New Year, or Hogmanay as we Scots prefer.  I remember getting all excited the first year we were allowed to stay up for the bells.  My feelings of anticipation grew and grew, the adults around us grew more and more merry and then…………..Bam!  Dong, dong, dong, dong, etc etc a few kisses and off we went to bed. Compared to Christmas it’s a bit of an anticlimax.  They really shouldn’t be so close together.  Who thought that one up?  Oh I know lets have a really amazing festival with loads of presents and a bearded man who is flown round the world in a giant sleigh pulled by flying reindeer.  Then a week later we’ll get everyone to stay up til midnight, drink too much and sing the first verse of Auld Lang Syne.  Great – I know which holiday I’d go for.

I’ve had a few memorable New Years.  Probably in the brief period where I was a) old enough to drink b) not old enough to be working and c)didn’t have children.  The last couple of years we have spent with mutually afflicted friends where we have taken it in turns to be pregnant so one of us can be smug about the hangovers of the rest of the group the next morning.  This year even they have forsaken us and we are facing the very real prospect of seeing the bells in on our own.

I know, I am do feel a bit sorry for myself.  We finished the last in the series of True Blood last night and unless Allan has been on the roof fixing the Sky Dish whilst simultaneously looking after two children and finding the ducks who flew away yesterday we will have to resort to watching one of Helen’s DVDs.  Oh……you thought I felt sorry for myself because I have to stay in on New Years Eve? No way man. I may have seen Toy story seven times already this year but given the option of a rerun of Buzz and Woody’s adventure or a night of enforced festivities whilst I discreetly try to pretend that I don’t have pneumonia followed by a day of hangover, sleep deprivation and childcare I opt for animated fun all the way.  Also I had to switch off Monsters Inc half way through yesterday as it was too scary for Helen so I still need to find out how that bad boy ends.

So whatever you’re doing tonight I wish you well – anyone who wants to watch Toy Story is welcome to come round but a word of warning – we’ll be tucked up in bed with my Kindle by 11:30pm.

Happy Hogmany

The little princess opens her presents

The little princess opens her presents

 

I've had this dog for ages but I really like it!

I’ve had this dog for ages but I really like it!

 

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Illicit activity

I am being unfaithful.  I’m cheating on my novel with my blog.  Kind of like Charles and Camilla.  I know it’s wrong but I just can’t stop myself from going back……

I’m going to have to leave the Royal family analogy now though as part of the reason I have returned to my blog is vanity.  Yes, it turns out my artistic ego is not above swelling in response to gentle massage.  Over the last few days several people told me that they liked my blog.  One person also told me that some of my posts weren’t very good but we’ll leave that aside for now. It’s nice to receive compliments.  So far although I have produced over 10,000 words of top quality crime-fiction nobody has told me they like my book.  Admittedly nobody has been allowed to read my book so far, indeed the rules of NaNoWriMo even prohibit me from reading my own work back as I’m not supposed to edit anything.  This is proving awkward as I have now forgotten the names of two minor characters.

Blogging about my novel is completely acceptable though.  Indeed I’ve learned over the last week that the most important component to being a writer is to talk about your writing, once people stop listening you should start writing about writing, but don’t actually write anything, unless it’s about writing.

A lot of people have wondered how I have the time to write a book.  So far I have claimed that  I don’t know.  However I’ve given this some thought and obviously I must know as I am doing it.  So I’ve compiled a  short list:

Things I have given up in order to write my novel:

  1. Reality television (apart from the Apprentice and Strictly come dancing)
  2. Baths (please don’t be alarmed, I am still washing frequently, however I have exchanged my hour-long bath for a very quick shower)
  3. Conversation with my husband.  There is this skinny blonde guy who lives in my house, the children seem fond of him but I can’t quite place him
  4. Baking, sadly I have gained 10lbs since the summer so this is a blessing
  5. My blog (ahem)
  6. Reading – I am still allowing myself ten minutes before I go to sleep at night but I am rendered so intellectually stunted by my incessant writing and lack of reality television that I have debased myself to the level of re-reading the 50 shades of grey trilogy – yes I know this is weird, let’s move on.
  7. Computer games – fortunately Allan has taken on the onerous task of caring for our virtual dragon farm, what would I do without him?
  8. Sleep – is for losers
  9. Any form of exercise – see above
  10. Photography – sorry no pictures!

So there you have it.  Anybody can write a book as long as you are willing to ignore your husband, stop washing, exercising and sleeping and only eat ready meals. In fact I’m finding it so easy I’ve taken on a really complicated knitting project as well.

I may be gone some time…………

I’ve been told to warn you so here it is.  My blog may be somewhat neglected during the month of November.  Those of you who stuck with me during the distinctly dry months of August and September will be rolling your eyes and cursing my fecklessness.  Wait though!  This time it’s not what you think.  This time I am will be abandoning my blog for a worthy cause.  Yes it’s true – once more into the breach dear friends.  I am to throw myself upon my sword, do battle with my nemesis, pee into the wind.  I’m going to write a book!

I have this friend who has a really irritating habit of finishing what she starts.  It drives me insane.  I am much more of an initial enthusiasm kind of girl, you know the sort of person who throws themself into something 110% (sorry too much x-factor) and then…………………..oh look a butterfly……  A couple of years ago this friend told me about something called National Novel Writing Month or as those in the know call it NaNoWriMo.  The idea is that you sign up with this site and commit yourself along with thousands of other crazed lunatics to write 50,000 words during the month of November.  You have a rolling word count tool and somewhere you can post excerpts from your work so all of your fans can read them.  She was very enthusiastic and I remember feeling quite smug as a veteran writer of first chapters and thinking to myself “ha, no way will you finish this”.  Of course she did – like I said she’s annoying that way.

I’ve finally reached the stage where I don’t think I can survive much longer without actually writing a book.  obviously I’m proud of my achievements so far – 372 abandoned Mill and Boon’s (one formal rejection), several embryonic fantasy novels and 20,000 words on the life of Pontius Pilate but I think I need more.  I think for once in my life I really need to finish what I’ve started.

Support from my family has been pretty minimal.  Sally threw herself off the toy ambulance several times in protest yesterday afternoon then staged a no sleep campaign last night.  Helen is disinterested but did tell me  that my book wasn’t as good as her website.  Oh yes, Helen has her own website.  Often she’ll start singing little songs or quoting poetry which apparently are from her website.  Believe me if I ever work out the URL you guys will be the first to know! Allan’s lack of enthusiasm has been the hardest to bear though.  He told me last night that he thought I did have a book in me but he didn’t think that this was the right time or the right book.  Harsh.  You must remember that he is a deeply damaged man.  Last time I was really serious about writing a book we ended up spending a week in Israel looking at Roman remains and driving a lot closer to the Gazza strip than either of us was completely comfortable with.  Anyway, I’ll show him, that’s why I’m on here blogging.

NaNo whatsity thing doesn’t start until November (no shit Sherlock) but I’m so excited I’ve started already.  Once I know exactly how to link to excerpts I will try to link them to my blog.  Those of you who enjoy my whimsical tales of ducks and hens will be sorely disappointed  – I’ve gone back to my darkest time and made my main character a female pathologist living in Edinburgh.  I imagine I will probably become the next Ian Rankin – except I’ll be a girl who writes about ducks and  hens mainly with the odd murder thrown in.

Anyway here is the line that caught my eye when I started up my laptop at work this morning.

 

“You can’t slam the doors; they’re soft close so he kicks the filing cabinet in our office on his way out.  I sigh and calmly
go about removing the brain.”

 

Oh yeah and for those of you who think I was joking about the trip to Israel…………………..

 

Here I am in the ruined city of Caeserea pretending to drive a chariot – he’s lucky this book is set in Edinburgh.

 

 

Our daily bread

I entered the shop this morning to find that Shopmeister had been left holding the baby.  No, I don’t mean he was running the shop by himself, although he was also doing that, he was literally holding an infant.

Saturday mornings are a good day to attend the shop all year round.  There is always a boat on Friday so on Saturdays you can stock up on milk, bread and vegetables.  Although in the winter the boat arrives at lunchtime on the Friday so it’s not advisable to leave your shopping until late on the Saturday morning as you are likely to find that the shelves have been picked clean and there is no milk and no bread and you will be reduced to eating UHT and oatcakes…………..again.

A few weeks ago we had dinner with the couple who live next door (well, in the neighbouring field) and the new school teacher.  We have all moved to Colonsay from cities fairly recently and talk turned quickly to what we missed about the mainland.  Cafes was definitely a common theme.  The Pantry is great but having lived in Edinburgh I was used to there being a cafe on ever corner many with play areas for children.  In fact there was a lovely pub at the end of our street where you could let the little darlings loose in the massive play area whilst drinking yourself into oblivion if you so desired.  They would even help you carry your pram up the steps.

One of the things I am most surprised to miss is the Scotmid at the other end of the road.  For those of you not familiar with Scottish culture Scotmid is a chain of small supermarkets (I think they are owned by the Co-op) they are quite cheap and distinctly un-middle class.  It won’t surprise you to learn that the Scotmid was at the other end of the street from the yummy mummy pub.  Our street acted as a kind of bridge between posh Edinburgh and scummy Edinburgh.  At one end was the baby friendly pub, Valvona and Corolla, John Lewis and the New Town; at the other Scotmid, a betting shop, several (very good) charity shops and a football stadium.  You could say we lived in purgatory.  Anyway, although Scotmid stood next to a very nice little bakery we rarely went in there.  Instead, on a Saturday morning after I had taken Helen to an even more middle class part of Edinburgh to her Tumble-tots class (sort of like SAS training for toddlers) I would pop into Scotmid.  By 11am they would have received a delivery of freshly baked bread, croissants and rolls.  Helen and I would buy a few and stroll home avoiding the dog poop and puddles of vomit on the street to a pleasant family brunch. The bread was always delicious, fresh and soft – one of my favourite things about weekend mornings.

Since moving to Colonsay we’ve had to give up on this kind of thing.  Although there are still plenty of SAS style activities for the children to engage in the only fresh bread that is readily available is my own.  I’m actually quite a good baker – in fact I won first prize for a loaf of non-breadmaker white bread in the recent root and grain show (sorry to blow my own trumpet there) – but getting up on a Saturday morning and making the bread yourself doesn’t create the same leisurely brunch mood.

So you are probably wondering why I’m still wittering on about bread, cafes, Edinburgh and my past life whilst leaving poor Shopmeister stranded in the shop holding Shopbaby.  Let’s just take a minute to discuss Shopbaby.  Shopbaby looks how I would like my children to look.  In fact they often look like she does on leaving the house but by the time we go anywhere they are generally plastered  with food, hair stuck to their faces with snot with questionable stains on at least one item of their apparel. Shopbaby always looks like she has just stepped out of a salon.  She is always well coordinated, I have never seen her with sick in her hair and her hair is always fluffy and shiny not matted with food or non-existent as in the case of my two terrors.  Shop baby was a little grumpy this morning though.  Shopmesiter was holding her in that slightly tentative manner that indicated to all present (me) that she may detonate at any moment.

Fortunately Shopmeistress was not gone long.  She had spent the morning slaving over a hot oven to produce the very same bread that our local shop used to sell!  Evidently the islanders had fallen upon it like starving animals and she had to rush home to bake more.  Word spread like wildfire across the island – people were phoning in their orders and rushing to collect them.  No sooner had she arrived with the second batch it was gone and we were lucky not to have been trampled in the rush! High on refined carbohydrates the islanders had become insatiable.  We managed to emerge victorious from the melee carrying a bloomer, two rolls and a croissant (for Allan).  Helen carried the bread out to the car in a reverent fashion ‘it’s warm mummy, it’s still warm’.  She insisted on holding it all the way home.  Sadly when we reached this house there wasn’t much of it left – next week we’ll have to order double!

A pound of flesh

My parents are going to Oban for the day. Judging from the frenzied activity going on outside my office one might think they were going for a month.  In fact they are going to Oban for an hour.  The summer ferry service which allows day trippers to spend an afternoon on Colonsay doesn’t work quite so well in reverse.

My Dad has ascended and descended the stairs at least six times.  With each ascension the severity and decibel level of his expletives has grown louder and louder.  My mother and I remain silent.  We have extensive experience in dealing with his grumps and much like Helen’s tantrums they are best ignored.

I am cocooned in the spare room (my office).  I have taken to this room as our own house is simply too small for me to get any work done in.  Helen and Sally have no respect whatsoever for the rules of gainful employment and my need to earn an honest living.  On the odd occasion I have tried to work at the kitchen table Helen climbs onto my knee and tries to press the buttons on the laptop whilst Sally stands under the table repeatedly bumping her head, pulling at my trousers leg and irritating Helen.

I am now in the last week of working my notice for the NHS.  Our original plan had been that I would return to Edinburgh and hospital medicine for five weeks.  Allan and the girls would come with me and enjoy a few weeks of mainland fun whilst I fulfilled my obligations.  Instead my boss came up with a project I could do online.  At first I felt very grateful to him for coming up with a rescue package that would prevent the upheaval of my family.  Of course I was bowled over with gratitude, stressed how hard I would work and enthusiastically agreed to an ambitious project.

He’s a smart man my boss.  Had I returned to the mainland I would have been physically present at work between the hours of 9 and 5 each day.  As I am giving up my medical career I would not have felt under any particular obligation to work hard. Now I don’t’ want you to think that I am some sort of evil, work avoiding, embezzler of tax payer’s money.  I would have carried out my allocated tasks well and with good grace and enthusiasm.  However, I am capable of a lot more than this.  Pre-child (and before I decided that I really did not want to spend the rest of my life looking down a microscope at bits of flesh I had hacked to pieces the day before) I was hardcore.  My boss knew this.  How? Because on more than one occasion he had come into the office at 10pm on a Sunday evening to find me hard at work over my microscope – Rock and roll.  We’ve also had the occasional e-mail conversation at 2am (no no no we’re not talking 50 shades of Grey here).  He knows that if I feel obliged to do something then I will forsake all others and get on with it.  He offered me what seemed like a lifeline and has instead extracted a far greater amount of work from me than I would ever have imagined.  No wonder he’s emperor of pathology or whatever his actual title is – he knows how to extract his pound of flesh.

Meanwhile life on the rock still goes on.  We’ve acquired a duck and 8 ducklings.  We haven’t named them yet though as they are still gender unspecified – I fear at least a few of them will be named Christmas Dinner.  We have also acquired two more hens – Kathleen and Karine in honour of the great musicians.  Allan is engaged in a battle royale with whoever it is who does or doesn’t issue building warrants and we hope to have permission to build our house very soon.  Great all we need now is the money!  Sadly that is all spent.  Allan has been led astray by my father and is now the co-owner of an ancient tractor which my Dad is picking up in Oban today.

Helen is pretty much potty trained now although this doesn’t affect me much as I rarely see my children……apart from Sally who I see several times a night, each night…………she too knows how to extract her pound of flesh.

Oh well, my Dad has found his man-bag and he and my mother have roared round to the pier in their dysfunctional car which sorely needs servicing.  It’s being left in Oban to be mended.  I offered to pick my parents up from the pier this evening but they declined – they will drive back round in the tractor.  It’s only three miles I’m sure they will be home by midnight.  Now the house is quiet I’d better get back to work.

p.s. I’m now on the third of the 50 shades trilogy.  I still don’t want to criticise these books as I’m giving up valuable sleeping time to read them but I must say I do understand now why the average Mills and Boon stops after 180 pages.

Laters…………..

10 reasons Colonsay is better than Edinburgh

1. My commute

In Edinburgh this involved an hour on a bus surrounded by sweaty strangers many of whom were clearly not acquainted with the bristly end of a toothbrush. On colonsay 20 minutes by bike during which I may not encounter another human being but am guaranteed stunning scenery and unpolluted air.

2. The shop

In the Colonsay general store it is acceptable for ones two year old to wander in without you, meander up to the carousel, select an apple and start eating it. If you forget your purse arrangements can always be made and if you happen to be partial to a particular flavour of crisp you may just come in one day to find that Shopmeister has saved you the last packet from the box.

3. Hedgerow pickings

I can’t really imagine finding things to eat on a walk in Edinburgh – I suppose one could rake through the bins as one went along, this technique seems to work well for tramps. Today we picked brambles (blackberries) as we walked, both girls looked like vampires by the time we got home!

4. The quiet

Last night I couldn’t sleep for the sound of my mother-in-laws Pekinese snoring in the next room. In Edinburgh we were often kept awake by sirens, traffic noise, football fans, people randomly shouting in our stairwell and if all else failed the people upstairs snoring. Muffin (the snoring canine) is in fact an Edinburgh resident and therefore the fact I couldn’t sleep last night is the fault of our mighty capital!

5. Sarah Moss’s cakes

You may think you have tasted good cake, you may even consider yourself a good baker but you have not lived until you have sampled the culinary delights of this local heroine. Even better you can purchase these little nuggets of heaven any time day or night via a self service cake counter in her porch. If you prefer to eat your cake in a more formal setting you can visit the lovely wee cafe at Colonsay House Gardens and have some of Willie Joll’s delicious bread to start. Even Edinburgh’s Michelin star restaurants can’t compete.

6. My mum is here

Edinburgh’s loss is Colonsay’s gain.

7. The weather

Really? I hear you say with incredulity. Yes really. OK things got off to a bad start this summer but over the last month we have pretty much had sun everyday. Helen even has a wee farmer tan despite my best efforts with the factor 50.

8. No library fines

Yes it’s true, you can borrow books from the well stocked library in the Service point and bring them back when you’ve read them without living in fear of crippling fines. I’ll never forget the time I ran up a fine of £16.05 on a single Mills and Boon.

9. The Edinburgh Festival

Ok I may complain about Colonsay being busy but that’s nothing compared to the amount of whining I did during the festival each year. You have no idea how irritating it is to be working full time in a city which is populated by tourists and performers who seem to think that life is just one big holiday. Each morning and afternoon I would have to run the gauntlet of walking up The Bridges to my bus stop with only my wits and my icy glare protecting me from being buried in a mountain of flyers for shows I would never have the chance to attend because I’M WORKING. Also is Edinburgh the only city in the world where you have to pay to get on the bus? I only ask because the average festival tourist always seems surprised to be asked for a fare when they are MAKING ME LATE FOR WORK. Speaking of buses and being late for work I leave you with reason number ten……….

10. The Edinburgh Tram Project

I rest my case.

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It’s so hot here we even eat naked!

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Helen post berries.

A plague is upon us!

Forgive me WordPress for I have sinned.  It has been ten days since my last blog post.  Actually I can’t believe it’s only been ten days.  It seems like a lifetime.

I am pleased to report that we are now officially visitor free (until my mother in law arrives on Wednesday – I can’t wait to inflate the airbed to its full bouncyness again).  I have thoroughly enjoyed sleeping in my own bed (often for periods of several hours at a time as Sally suddenly seems to have got the idea that night time is for sleeping) and having full access to my wardrobe.  Sadly most of my clothes don’t fit as I’ve eaten far too much over the last couple of months and will have to return to the temple of weight watchers once the winter months set it.

We’ve had a lovely week with my aunt and uncle and sister.  They were staying with my parents and thus did not infuriate me at all.  My mother, being a saint, seemed to breeze through the whole visit as though catering for at least five people every night (and often 9 as we were frequent dinner guests) didn’t faze her at all.  Admittedly my aunt had brought a lot of ready prepared food with her…….yes she’s amazing.  She also brough Helen what are quite possibly the cutest trousers ever.  Do I have a photo of them? No not yet she doesn’t really wear clothing on the lower part of her body at present so I haven’t had a chance to snap her in them.

After several weeks of cold weather poor Allan ended up shearing the sheep in what must have been 30 degree heat.  He and my Dad performed a lot of bizarre maneuvering with said sheep before finally getting them into the shed (I think this may have been due to lack of training of both my Dad’s dog Bess and Allan himself.  Although Allan did proudly report that my Dad only told him to F*** off once during the entire procedure which indicates strong approval on the part of my father.) I’d never seen a sheep pant before and it was not a pretty sight.  I’ve included a picture of Allan looking all manly shearing a sheep.  Try not to swoon ladies…………….

Do you come here often?

 

I know after such a long absence I should really be writing a vast post telling you all about the amazing things I have done.

  • Singing at the concert held to raise funds for the music festival.
  • Going paddle boarding with Jen – yes it really was fun – almost worth the numerous near death experiences we had just getting the board round the island.
  • Attending a meeting for the next book festival, we’ve got an author I really really love coming but I can’t say who it is………….for those who know me really well – it’s not Jilly Cooper.
  • Trying to potty train Helen who is proving extremely resistant although my mum reported that she did a poo at the side of the road yesterday (Helen not my mum!).  Here is a photo of our alfresco attempts though.
  • Walking to the most disgusting beach on Colonsay with Allan and Jen; three kinds of animal faeces and two types of jellyfish – eurgh. (not photographed although Jen does have a lovely snap of Sally brandishing a fistfull of goose poop)

Sadly I am too tired to write more as Allan was conveniently struck down with an evil lurgy yesterday.  This timely illness meant that I had to spend seven hours cleaning a six bedroomed, five bathroomed, two kitchened holiday home.  This morning I was actually aching as though I had been to the gym.  Now that all risk of him having to clean seems to have passed he has made a miraculous recovery although he is still too delicate to change nappies.

Winter is coming…………

………..not fast enough for my liking though. I’ve had enough of summer.

Now before I start this extremely controversial blog I would like to assure all of the friends who have visited us this summer that I have enjoyed seeing each and every one of you. I’m delighted that people have come to visit and I know it will be a long lonely winter but…….

I’m so tired! I’m tired of sleeping in the loft on a sagging airbed which deposits me on the floor whenever Allan gets off it. I’m tired of living out of a washing basket in the utility room like some sort of hobo because other people are sleeping in my bed. I’m tired of missing episodes of my favourite zombie drama because I’m politely socialising with friends. I’m tired of not being able to update my blog because it seems rude to be on the computer in the evenings. I’m tired of our kitchen table being permanently extended causing the kitchen to be tiny. I’m tired of having an audience for Helen’s potty training. Yes I have some issues with cleanliness. No I don’t like it when she has her bare bottom on the sofa or when she poops on the doorstop and Yes I would prefer not to have witnesses to my discomfort. I’m tired of conversation – I’ve been ‘reading’ my book for three weeks now and I’m less than halfway through it – this is a unprecidented situation. I’m tired of drinking too much and staying up too late because I feel like I’m on holiday too even though this is actually just my life and I have to get up and go to work. I’m tired of eating meat. I long for the days when we can go back to eating pasta with vegetable slop every night.

Furthermore I am not just tired of my own visitors, I tired of everyone else’s too. I’m longing for the days when I can take the girls out in the buggy and get all the way to the beach without having to stop fourteen times to let cars come past. I’m tired of cyclists who don’t get off the road to let me drive past them. I’m tired of people who can’t reverse their enormous four by fours into passing places. I’m tired of people asking me my life history when I’m in the service point trying to work. I’m tired of having to que in the shop when I want the place all to myself for a good gossip.

It’s pouring with rain and blowing a howling gale it might as well be winter.

I know I know I don’t deserve all of my lovely friends. Bah Humbug!

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Child for Sale

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRGH!!

Oh that was cathartic.  O.K. a warning if you are not the sort of person who can empathise with a mothers need to club her child over the head with a baby seal from time to time please read no further.

Today has just been one of those days and having just spent 10 minutes trailing around the house after a pyjama clad toddler who point blank refuses to go to bed without her plastic tea pot I am seriously considering putting both of my children on eBay.

Sally didn’t sleep well last night, consequently neither did I.  Sadly Helen slept a little too well and thus declined her afternoon nap, depriving me of mine.  Sally’s afternoon nap was brutally cut short by a bad case of poopus interuptus meaning that by five o’clock I was grumpy and frazzled and both of my children were orbiting the ceiling.

5 O’clock is usually a happy time when Allan arrives home and interacts with the children whilst I cook dinner.  Sadly on a Monday night Allan goes to fire brigade training.  (Really this means he stands around gossiping like an old woman whilst dressed in his fire fighting finery) While he is out enjoying himself I have to cook tea, then bathe and bed the two little monkeys.  A job which usually fully occupies both of us.  Tonight after cooking a gourmet meal of frozen pizza, baked beans and broccoli (well one must have some standards) I spent around an hour trying to tempt Helen to the table.  She has recently discovered the concept of picnics.  As a result a number of pop up cafes have sprung up around our home.  In these locations various toy animals are treated to a variety of delicacies such as plastic toast, plastic potato, wooden fruit, plastic chicken drumstick, building blocks and (my personal favourite) mouldering apple.  I found a cache under a chair in the kitchen which had obviously been there for some time today.  These feeding areas are as sacrosanct as any religious site and cannot be interfered with under any circumstances even though the high chair the rats sit in entirely obstructs access to Helen’s own booster seat.  Furthermore once mealtime is announced Helen then has to make her rounds of the catering establishments checking that the needs of the toys are all met before she can possibly imagine eating something herself.  Whilst I admire her Little House on the Prarie – esq principles I really wish she would just sit down at the table and eat her dinner.

Once she had deigned to join us at the table she demanded a wholegrain cracker (because Sally had one) then proceeded to pile beans on top of it and then refuse to eat it because it looked ‘minging’.  She did eat most of her pizza but sneaked her broccoli onto Sally’s tray when she thought I wasn’t looking – Sally was looking though and that broccoli was a goner in no time.

Helen is always good whilst I am putting Sally to bed because I bribe her with children’s television.  Even better Cbeebies end at 7pm which is exactly when I lay Sally down so usually we don’t even have to argue over my brutal turning off of the television mid programme.  Not tonight though – Helen almost burst into tears at my high-handed turning off of the blank screen.

Next she refused to open her mouth to have her teeth brushed – I can’t remember what dire threat I came up, perhaps I threatened to pull the plug out of the bath but anyway I won and finally I had her pyjamas on and we were onto the home straight of bedtime.  We were onto the second story and my mind had wandered longingly to a cool class of white wine when Helen suddenly announced that she needed a picnic in bed and leaped up to start gathering the necessary utensils.  I staunchly continued the story but eventually I could not ignore her increasingly passionate demands for her plastic teapot.  A quick tour of the house failed to uncover the necessary tableware.  I tried reasoning with her – you don’t really need a teapot in bed surely a cup of tea will be enough.  Negotiation – I can’t find the teapot but you can have Sally’s caterpillar.  I tried being firm – Helen I’m getting quite cross now; you’re just going to have to go to bed without your teapot.  The final threat resulted in the flappy hands and jutting lip of the overtired two year old on the verge of a major tantrum.  We searched the house again.

Eventually she was snuggled up in bed with the teapot (which we had found in the tumble drier) a plastic roasting dish, a ladle and the toy rats (oh and Sally’s caterpillar).  I was about to start my rendition of twinkle twinkle little star when Helen played her trump card and announced that there were pets in her bed.  I don’t know where these pets have come from but every time Helen goes to bed it is now overrun with pets – species unspecified.  There appear to be so many of them that Helen could not possibly get in beside them.  Oh no!  I must pick them up and carry them to a cardboard box in the utility room (kept there specifically for that purpose) in which they will sleep.  Oftentimes the pesky creatures will escape during the night and Allan or I will be summoned to remove them which we do with increasingly bad grace as the hour grows later.  I don’t know where the idea came from.  Her imagination astounds me.  We also have a family of pigs living with us who frequently wave at Helen and make extremely funny jokes when I’m not listening.  If I had my way all of these unwanted house guests would be banished down to the weaves but Helen won’t hear of it.

Anyway both children are now safely tucked up in bed.  I am ignoring the cavorting and giggling coming from Helen’s room.  No doubt the pigs are keeping her entertained.  Now I’ve vented I’m off to look for that glass of wine.

 

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Puppie’s picnic
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Sally’s picnic

 

Computer says no

The internet has gone off.  Obviously the smart among you will realise that the internet must now be back on –otherwise how would I be writing this.  But as of 4:34 am on Saturday morning the internet was most definitely off.  I still had 8 assignments to go last night when I was cut off in my prime.  I had already waded through 20 papers discussing wounds of medico legal importance when – bam!  Suddenly I was cut off from the outside world.  I didn’t know what to do.  Obviously my first thought was to Google the problem my helpful diagnostics program had identified……….. Oh no………..no internet.  Since I couldn’t finish work my mind briefly turned to searching eBay for a couple of things I need……..oh no…….no internet.  I made my way through the living room and whinged at Allan for a few minutes…………he seemed unmoved.

Once I had come to terms with the fact that I had an unexpected evening to myself I had to decide what to do with it.  A brief search of the SKY box confirmed that those in charge of television scheduling are not trying to encourage the likes of me to stay at home and watch television on a Friday night.  Watching Andy Murry win again at Wimbledon briefly lifted my sprits but all too soon BBC 2 turned to coverage of some sort of flower show.  Allan was transfixed.  Yes it’s true – he was glued to the screen watching in fascination as Monty Don wandered round supping real ale and extolling the virtue of one sort of agapanthus over another (I don’t even know if that is the real name of the flower…………I’ll Google it……….oh no……no internet).  I went off to have a bath feeling increasingly grumpy.  When I came back I thought I would do some research into the housing required for Quails.  I think Quail eggs are just the thing the shop needs and since I’m now officially scared of geese and a friend tells me ducks are dirty Quails seem to be the only direction my aviary can go in.  However my intentions were scuppered again………no internet.

I was forced to read my book which was no real hardship.  I’m reading Game of Thrones which is very enjoyable, my enjoyment is doubled by the fact that I know that the next two parts of the trilogy are waiting on the bookcase for me.  I don’t deal with well suspense.

Sally woke up at 4:15 for a feed and as soon as I was awake my first thoughts turned to my beloved BT hub.  Would I once again be connected with the outside world?  I sat down on the sofa officially to wait for Sally to go back to sleep before creeping back to bed but really so I could switch on the laptop and check in on the outside world………….no!  I remain in IT isolation.  Probably a good thing at this time in the morning.  When Sally was tiny I went through a terrible phase of eBay shopping on my iphone during night feeds.  I would then forget all about my nocturnal purchasing until the parcels would arrive a few days later.  Poor Allan (he’s so stingy he makes Ebenezer Scrooge look like a philanthropist) was most dismayed.

It’s funny though.  On Colonsay I seem to depend on the internet even more than I did on the mainland.  In Edinburgh I would have texted my boss to say I couldn’t get online and could she let my students know.  Sadly here I have no signal and my phobia of the landline is almost equal to my fear of geese.  Even when my internet was down at home I always had the option of nipping in to work where I could be fairly certain that the good old NHS remained online.  Here I am at the mercy of BT.  I can’t even update my blog properly.  I have lots of very exciting things to blog about – watch this space – but I’m so preoccupied with lack of connectivity that my fingers refuse to type anything else.

Sally seems to have capitulated – I haven’t heard any gleeful shrieking or kicking of the side of the cot for a few minutes so I’m going to save this as a humble word file and creep back to bed (it’s now exactly 05:01 in case you are interested.  This post has not taken 27 minutes to compose.  I have also visited the bathroom and checked on the fridge which is defrosting all over the kitchen floor).  Fear not gentle reader – the fact that you are reading this is a clear indication that I am once again in touch with the outside world and hopefully I will find myself able to blog about something more interesting very soon.

I suppose they are quite pretty. Photo credit – Lizmooregolding.com

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