Sunday, December 5, 2010

I've seen the light!

I'm now two weeks into the kitchen refurb, and with probably only one week to go. I'm really happy with the progress, though it has been quite stressful (for me) at times. I have to say that my lovely Builder shows no signs of stress at all, maybe because he is doing this all the time and knows the drill. I find making decisions for my house incredibly difficult, whereas when I was doing this sort of thing for clients, back in Cambridge, I had no doubts about choosing colours, fabrics or furniture. Choosing for someone else, especially when you have worked out a complete design scheme, is really easy. Choosing for yourself isn't and come to think of it, that's probably why so many people hired me to do their Interior Design for them!

Anyway, after painful deliberations I have now settled on a colour to paint the tongue and groove walls and on the colour for the ceiling and woodwork. This weekend I have also bought four castors for the small trolley, a classic ceiling rose, two fabulous over-the-top chandeliers, one for the kitchen and one for the entrance hall, in the special lighting event at BHS (and they were amazing bargains) and a lovely stainless steel pedal bin (a luxury item for me). Next I need a trip to Ikea to collect my chosen kitchen tap, some curtains and a curtain pole for the Dining
Room and a couple of their grey woven wicker baskets to try out on my new shelves.
So far, so good.

Christmas is galloping up now, and I'm doing pretty well with shopping and presents. I'm off on a flying visit to my ABF on Thursday as she is having her pre-Christmas lunch for a dozen or so friends. I'm planning to drive there on Thursday morning and back here on Friday morning - Daughter has promised to look in on the Builders to make sure all is OK. On Tuesday it's Grandson's Christmas Play which is being held in the local village church this year. He is very excited about this, as he is the one to introduce it. I'm so looking forward to seeing it, and singing carols with them. His end of term is Friday, so I'll collect him from school and have him here overnight while Daughter celebrates her Birthday with friends. She is going to be 29 on Sunday and is planning a whole weekend of celebrations. We're going to have lunch somewhere on Sunday and then she is having champagne with more friends in the evening. I'm hoping Son might come down for the weekend too, but that might not happen. We'll see.

I must say that, idle as I am, I'm really looking forward to being able to get up when I want and trundle around in my dressing gown again. At the moment I'm up with
the lark (or robin) and throwing any old thing on to welcome the Builder and make tea. Roll on my lovely new kitchen. You'll be happy to know that I'm keeping up my daily diary on the progress, and taking at least one photo a day, so when it's finished I'll be able to show you.

By the way, we had the funnniest snow here - very heavy and thick (at least 6 inches of lovely fluffy stuff) for a couple of days - with blue skies, freezing cold. Then it disappeared with the overnight rain on Friday and was completely vanished by Saturday morning. Grandson was terribly disappointed, but I can't say I minded too much...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Camping out at home..

One week on and it's all going fine. The house is incredibly dusty and chaotic, but I'm actually getting used to it and I'm certainly not starving. I was invited down to my lovely Downstairs Neighbour for supper on Tuesday (Fish Pie and I took dessert plus dessert wine), and then went out to supper again last night (more Fish Pie and a wonderful raspberry and mascarpone dessert accompanied by a lovely Chablis and more dessert wine)! Actually I'm eating (and drinking) better than I normally would. It certainly sort of makes up for the chaos at home. And though I feel as if I'm camping out in my own house, it's not too bad.

The electrics are nearly sorted in my new Kitchen, and it's nice to see some of the tongue and groove boarding up already. On Friday my new appliances arrived, and they sit, ready and waiting, in my Dining Room. I've spent a large part of the weekend cleaning up the dust, which just gets everywhere, and then this afternoon I went out to the Garden Centre to have a bit of lunch and on to the Farm to buy logs (stocking up for Christmas) and some Christmas presents. It's blooming freezing here, though we've had no snow as yet, but I'm quite cosy as I sit here semi-watching tv and sorting out my Christmas list. I know what I want for Christmas: some new secateurs and gardening gloves, eight hour cream, a couple of pairs of coloured tights and the Beatles two "new" remastered cds. I think I'm quite easy to please.

Daughter and Grandson are fine. I picked him up from School on Friday, as usual, and brought him back here for the night. I gave him scrambled eggs, ham and baked potato for supper and then tucked him up in my bed. He had brought his school report home, and was a bit nervous about it, though there was no need. Daughter said it was just wonderful, and is very happy that they seem to appreciate Grandson for what he is - a great little character with huge enthusiasm for learning and life. And, as one of his teachers said, he has a good heart! That's my boy.

Son has not been well, though, and as I haven't seen him for a while I really miss him. I sent him a little "home comforts" pack in the post, as he said he hasn't been able to shake off a rotten cold. The pack contained Olbas Oil, Rescue Remedy and Vick's Vapour Rub - all the things I always kept at home for colds and flu and general poorliness. (I've still got an old Vick's in my bedside drawer that must be 10 years old!). And I added a bar of gorgeous organic dark chocolate. I hope they all make him feel better, and I'm really looking forward to seeing him at Christmas. It will be lovely to have my new kitchen, and all the family home for the holidays - even if only for a few days.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bombs Away...

OK, today it has started, and if I have been absent for the last week or so it's because I have been clearing and emptying my Kitchen and Dining Room in preparation for the works. God, I really didn't realize how much STUFF I have. My so-called Study is now piled high with boxes and bags containing all this stuff. What I'm going to do with it when the kitchen is finished, I just don't know. But I guess a lot of it will be heading for either a Car Boot Sale or charity shop. How did I gather so much mis-matched china or so many casserole dishes? What do I do with about twenty egg-cups? And a collection of about 10 teapots and coffee pots? Never mind, don't bother to answer that...

The two workmen arrived bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning, just as I had finally cleared everything from the room - just remembering to empty the freezer at the last moment. I have taken photos this morning of the pristine empty kitchen before it was taken apart, and will take another photo at the end of the day to show progress. The people who are buying the units and the couple who are having the cooker will be collecting at the end of the day. Oh Joy! At the moment it's very quiet as the power is turned off and only one chap is working. My Builder has gone to move his truck and pay in my deposit cheque (don't worry, it's not a big one!). As I said before (I think) he did a kitchen for one of my BBFs last year, and made a great job of it. Not only that, but at the end of two months (it was a big job) he and my BBF were great friends - and still are. So he comes very well recommended and I feel I really have found the best man for the job! Fingers crossed.

I'm sitting in my Sitting Room typing this, with my belongings piled around me and wearing a cheap-as-chips track suit I bought in Primark yesterday. It was the brainwave of another of my BBFs as she said I needed something comfortable to throw on before they arrive at 8.30 in the morning! How true. I won't be looking too smart for the next couple of weeks, but hopefully it will be worth it...

My small brainwave this morning was to put wine (vital), water, milk and the coolbag out on the balcony so that everything stays as fresh as possible while I have no fridge or freezer. New appliances are being delivered on Friday (Fridge-freezer, Cooker and Dishwasher) so maybe by then I will have somewhere to put food at least.
In the meantime, it's fish and chips, Daughter and Friends and whatever I can scrounge. Somehow I don't think I'll be attempting to cook very much with only a microwave, toaster, kettle and single electric hob, not that they are restricting in themselves, but the space is! Cooking in the Study doesn't have much appeal somehow!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Just kidding..

Of course, when I say starting on Monday, I mean not this Monday, but next Monday! That's builders for you, as my lovely builder said, with a wry smile, when he told me that his current job was taking longer than he had thought. Actually, I didn't mind too much as it means I get longer to pack up my rubbish (which is how it looks) and get everything into boxes or whatever. I can see now that I am going to be camping out for the three weeks it takes! Never mind, I know it's not for ever. I have now sold the kitchen units, including the fridge, freezer and dishwasher, which are all old, but still in good working order. The young woman who bought it all is very pleased with it, and brought her builder with her to assess whether he could adapt it to fit her kitchen. He was one of those great "no problem" builders (as opposed to the ones who suck their teeth and look doubtful) and said that he thought it was a bargain. Great. And it is. I may not like it, but it is very smart and in good nick. So, range cooker and kitchen sold, dining room cleared, courtesy of Daughter who is as strong as I used to be when it comes to moving the heavy stuff!

The funny thing was that my Builder (I'd better give him a capital letter as he is going to figure large in my life for the next month!) smiled for the first time when cash was mentioned! He is normally rather lugubrious and dusty, but his face lit up when he talked about getting paid in cash. Hilarious! Ah well, human nature will out...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Welcome to Baby Bruno.

Well, that's his name for the moment, until lovely Downstairs Neighbour decides whether he looks like a Bruno or not. I have just been downstairs to see him, and he is rather Bruno-ish. He's quite large for a newborn (8lbs 10oz) and has dark hair, a lovely squidgy face and beautiful hands with long fingers. He did cause his poor Mum quite a lot of pain at his birth, as he was in a tricky position and didn't want to come out at first. What I didn't know was that she had to be rushed away to hospital at 6am yesterday, after a horribly painful night. Anyway, all is fine now, he has arrived safely and has simply caused his Mother her first lot of pain. Plenty more where that came from - and plenty of joy of course. Bless the boy.

I've sold my cooker - a rather smart Range Cooker which I have never liked - but am still waiting for a buyer for the kitchen units. Several people have been to look, but apparently it's difficult to get existing units to fit a particular space. Never mind, it'll all work out. My new kitchen sink was delivered today (a ceramic Belfast sink - bloody heavy) and I ordered the radiator, which looks like an old-fashioned school radiator, but is a new version with four columns. Lovely. At last I will have a warm kitchen. The builder is coming round tomorrow evening for a last minute meeting before he starts work on Monday. I'm still emptying cupboards and packing boxes. Heaven knows, I seem to have collected a lot of rubbish over the years.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Home, home on the Range..

Still no sign of a baby appearing downstairs! I know he's now overdue by 10 days, and my neighbour is keeping quite calm, but how odd that there has been no real sign of his arrival as yet! Or maybe not - I'm sure he will pop out when he's ready (though "pop" is probably not quite how one would describe it).

I'm beginning to believe that his arrival is going to coincide with the start of work on my new kitchen! This is still 10 days away, and we were hoping that by the time it started (with all the banging, dust, dirt and noise) he would be well and truly here and getting semi-settled. Ah well, the best laid plans etc.. The total bummer is that I have promised to prepare meals and help with babysitting, whatever is needed really during his first month. The babysitting won't be a problem, but for three weeks I won't have anywhere to cook, do washing or anything, as all my kitchen stuff will be packed away and my old kitchen will hopefully have been bought by someone. I have advertized it on Gumtree (including the range cooker) and have had a few good responses. And I have ordered my new appliances: gas cooker, dishwasher and fridge freezer. I'm keeping my existing washing machine as it's not very old and in good shape (I hope I don't regret saying that). I'm not having a fitted kitchen - I have decided to use my lovely old pieces of furniture and be completely un-fitted. I'm having the walls clad with tongue and groove,(painted a soft Farrow & Ball grey), a Belfast sink, solid oak worktops, an old-fashioned radiator, open shelves with baskets on them, a small table and chairs, and painted wooden floorboards. It's the kitchen I have been dreaming of for many years, and I finally decided to just get on with it. Not only that, but at last I will be able to have everything within reach (the old cupboards were far too high - designed and fitted by a bloke of course). I've taken before photographs, and will take some more during and after the works, so I might even be able to upload them for you to see. Can't wait!

I ordered my appliances online, after going up to Curry's to look at them; I don't really see how anyone could choose a cooker or fridge-freezer without seeing them first. Anyway, I did the same with my Belfast sink - Homebase had one but couldn't (or wouldn't) be specific about delivery. Much better service online - and free delivery - and I reckon I saved about £200.

There are fireworks going off outside as I sit here, but it's a foul night with blustery winds and rain, so I don't feel as if I'm missing much. Grandson is tucked up in bed, and that's where I'm heading:-)

Friday, October 29, 2010


Grandson is getting very excited about Halloween. For him it's all about spiders, vampires, scary false teeth and trick or treating. He is going out with some school friends (and their Mums of course) to terrorise the neighbourhood, wearing his black t shirt with glow-in-the-dark skeleton (bought by me from M & S) and will be hoping to collect enough sweets and chocolates to make all his lovely new teeth fall out! Never mind..

For a change, I'm going out on Sunday night too - one of my BBFs is having a Halloween Party to celebrate her Birthday, and we have been given the chance to wear Fancy Dress if we want. I'm going to wear a gorgeous long black cloak I made years ago for Son to wear at Halloween. It was when we lived in Cambridge (so more than eight years ago) and he was going to be DJing at a local club. I sat and hand sewed this cloak from some black material I had, and lined it with some fabulous orange silky fabric. I gave it a gathered stand-up collar and a black grosgrain ribbon tie, and I was so proud of it. But guess what, Son didn't want to wear it. Anyway, it was so lovely I kept it. And after all these years it gets its first outing on Sunday. I bought a cute little cat mask (black velvet with sequins) to wear with it and I'll add a long black dress, high black heels and maybe my witch's broomstick? Sounds good to me.

My lovely downstairs neighbour is about to give birth - any minute really because her baby was actually due on Tuesday. She has decided to have him at home, and has created a wonderful "birthing" room with a birthing pool, fairy lights, and a comfy sofa with inviting cushions. I'm not part of her actual Birthing Team, which includes a Doula, her Midwife and two close friends. I have said that I will be on hand, though, if any extra help is needed. She has created a Birthing Plan as well, and is wonderfully organised. I remember when my first baby was born, and it could hardly have been more different; Son was due on 16th October, and decided to arrive exactly a month early, on Sunday 16th September 1979. So much for being organized. Thirty one years later I still remember every minute of that day and every year I phone him, sing Happy Birthday, and remind him that he woke me at 6am on that fateful morning. Ah well, let's hope my lovely downstairs neighbour will have a really good birthing experience and create some great memories too. Perhaps he will be a Halloween Baby...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Seaside Musings.

The sea yesterday was a pale silver-grey with splashes of sunlight on the still surface. Lovely, and quite late-summery rather than Autumnal. In fact we have been having rather lovely weather, lots of sun and warm enough to walk by the sea every day and to sit on the balcony with coffee,lunch or tea. It sounds as if I'm always either eating or walking! And I guess that's not so far from the truth. I do feel very fortunate to be living here, because it doesn't seem to be the same everywhere. I often look North towards the Downs and see heavy black clouds leaning on the hills while we are basking in sunshine.

What do I do with the rest of my time at the moment? Well, I've been writing fairly regular articles for one of the local Estate Agents, whenever they want something a
little bit different - different from the usual fairly painful and banal property descriptions, that is (not to mention the painful grammar and sentence structure!). I quite enjoy doing these, it exercises the "writing muscle" a bit, though in a fairly limited way. And it does seem to be doing the trick - the agents are happy with what I write and their sales are going quite well. My other main occupation is to do a day's gardening once a fortnight or so for my lovely Therapist. This is great and very enjoyable, but she is in East Grinstead, so it's an hour and a half round trip and as petrol is so pricey just now, I don't go more often. It's only until winter sets in anyway, and while the ground is workable. Last week I worked for four and a half hours, mostly solid digging, until I could dig no more. My digging was made more enjoyable though by the delightful small ladies' fork I found at the Car Boot Sale last weekend. It was, amazingly, just £1, and is a complete delight to work with. I have also been choosing some plants and ordering hedging for her garden. Nice to spend other people's money, and get to see the results. In another existence, I would love to have been a proper gardener. What a wonderful life!

I collected Grandson from school on Friday and brought him home for the night. This has become something of a routine, and one which I am enjoying very much. He had had a really busy week at school and was happy just to chill out. We lit a fire (for the first time this year) watched a movie and ate sausages and mash.Perfick. Daughter came to pick him up on Saturday morning, and we all went for brunch in George Street. Today I went to the Car Boot again, on another lovely sunny morning, and Daughter was taking Grandson to a birthday party at midday. He went as Darth Vader, as the theme of the party was Star Wars. Very sophisticated these parties. I seem to have rushed around all day, and finally sank down at home with a cup of tea at about 5.15pm. Then the phone range and it was one of my BBFs asking if I had forgotten that I was meeting her at the cinema at 5pm! I felt really awful because of course I had forgotten - luckily she was not furious with me, which was better than I deserved. It's not as if I have a frantic social life after all, though I do have a busy week coming up. One of my London BFs is coming to stay on Tuesday, just for one night, and we are going out to dinner at L'Eglise for the first time in months. That will be gorgeous. On Wednesday I'm off to East Grinstead again for a day's gardening, hopefully putting in some of the hedging if it has arrived, and then on Thursday I'm planning a trip to London to meet Son for lunch. Great, I'm so looking forward to seeing him for a catch-up. On Friday it's the start of Half Term so I'll be picking Grandson up early from school and that will be another week gone...
At least life's not boring here in Brighton.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bad Mother...

That's me! I'm bad on all counts it seems: lousy Single Parent (the break-up was all my fault and I didn't sufficiently consider the effect this would have on my children thirty years later!) lousy grandmother (I tried so hard to compensate for the traumatic effects of last year's dramatic break-up on my Grandson that I
consequently lavished too much love and attention on him!) And just so lousy all round that I haven't seen hide nor hair of Son since Grandson's Birthday. True I've recently managed to squeeze the occasional text message out of him, and we did have one brief (but lovely for me) phone conversation on the day before his Birthday. The most frustrating aspect of all this is that I have no control over it whatsoever! I can't force him to speak to me, or to see me,(nor would I want to do that anyway) and I don't have the oppportunity to put my point of view about all this because he won't even read a letter if I write. I supppose that what I would lke to say is that, all those years ago, I didn't have any control over events either. I didn't exactly have children (and they are beloved children) with the anticipation of being left alone to bring them up, but as that was the end of the cheese I was left with, I just got on with it. I always loved them and yes, I did put them first in just about every situation (and it seems that was a crime too!). I didn't "provide" them with a new "Daddy" because I was never prepared to compromise either their safety
or their happiness in a step-parent relationship. And I take full responsibility for that. Of course it was bound to be wrong in the long run, although then I simply put all my energies into protecting and loving them, and providing what I believed was a happy and normal environment to grow up in. WRONG! Now, it seems, it wasn't normal, only a "two parent and 2.4 children" situation is normal?? And only that kind of family life can produce a balanced, normal human being? The queries are all
mine. I saw plenty of completely dysfunctional "normal" families while my children were growing up, and maybe that's why most of their friends chose to spend their free time at our house. They didn't have the "normal" stuff to deal with at our house, it was just me: single mother, working from home so that I could be around whenever needed, cooking meals, feeding their friends, saving for holidays, getting angry from time to time, dealing with dramas, taking them to football, brownies, tennis, you know, all the "normal" stuff that families do. And make no mistake, we were a family. Only three of us, I know, but as Daughter now says, "The best damn family ever." Maybe that's a slight overstatement, but at the time I thought it was O.K. I did what I thought was right for everyone. Sorry about getting it wrong, but I thought I was getting it right. It's only now, with the benefit of thirty year's water under the bridge, that I can see the cracks. At the time I was just getting on with life. But, d'you know what, I hadn't then realized that a Mother's place is in the wrong :-)

Friday, July 30, 2010

B & B, that's me!

Well, I'm sitting here at 10.15pm, having had a rather exciting evening. I was expecting a new Foreign Student, and she duly arrived from Genoa at about 5pm; a very pleasant young woman, 23, nice and polite. She came bearing gifts from Italy in the form of food, mostly: two packs of genuine Genovese pasta, some fresh pesto (which tastes divine) and a pack of "pandolce", which I've never eaten before, but which looks dericious:-) It's for sure that we won't go hungry.

Anyway, there we were at 7.30pm, sitting eating a simple supper (salmon fishcakes, new potatoes and lots of vegetables, followed by gorgeous little chocolate pots) when the phone rang and it was one of my BBFs who was giggling away, and asked me if my double room was occupied. I had to admit not - though it is now spotlessly clean and ready for visitors - and she asked if I would take two nice people she had just met, Belgian cyclists, who were looking (rather desperately) for a place for the night! Well, what could I say but "Why not?", and before I knew it I was making up the bed, finding towels etc and welcoming these two people in. What larks! Brighton is that sort of place though. I have to admit that they were taking a chance in hoping to find a decent B & B on a Friday night, in Summer, in Brighton, and without prior booking. Luckily they found first Mary and then me - it could have been very different. So here I am with a house full for the night, ready to be up with the lark to make breakfast for three, and looking forward to having a bit of extra cash for the weekend. Nice surprise.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Good Intentions all round.

I have a feeling that I've just passed my third Blogging anniversary - how time flies. Though I must admit that my blogging record has been abysmal so far this year. Generally, since I bought my Laptop, I don't use the computer nearly so much - which is a bit of a mystery really. I thought that I would use it more because of the ease and convenience of having the laptop, as it were, on my lap! This is not how it has turned out - I used to look forward to sitting down at my desk in front of the computer screen and writing, but I just don't have the same feeling any more. Don't know why. Anyway, I have fallen short in many other areas too - I'm not writing at all, except for the occasional piece of copywriting (which doesn't really count as creative writing) and my E-Bay activities have also ground to a complete halt. Of course I have had Daughter and Grandson here for just over 6 months, and didn't really have space and time to myself in the same way. So let's hope I get back to more productive times again soon. Whatever hapens, I have to stop making excuses!

The other thing I must do is spend some time catching up with all my Blogging friends. Just like "real" friends, they need and deserve my time and attention, and I've been a very dilaltory and absent "virtual" friend for the last six months I know. Aplologies to all, and I promise to pay visits, make comments and generally behave better.

My poor garden is "drizabone" and in desperate need of a good shower of rain; I got the new curly hose out to water it this evening (the outside pipe and tap has been fixed courtesy of my lovely downstairs neighbour's lovely friend) and had a naughty ten minutes spraying the plants and topping up the pond. Actually I'm not sure if we do have a hosepipe ban here at the moment - but if we do, enough people saw me this evening, so I may be reported.

Weather permitting, I'm off to the Shoreham Flyover Car Boot Sale in the morning, picking up my BBF on the way, and I think we're meeting up with Daughter and Grandson there for a bit of mutual bargain-hunting, followed by a cup of tea and a bacon sarnie sitting in the sun. "Perfick", as Pop Larkin would say.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Time Out..

House to myself. A pile of washing and ironing, beds to change and an eerie peace.
Daughter and Grandson have moved out - gone to share a house in Hanover with an old school friend of hers who is training to be a Barrister. Not that that fact is particularly material. The most important thing is that they are old school friends from Cambridge days and will hopefully get on well together.

At least they aren't far away - about ten minutes driving if the traffic's reasonable, and since I'm looking after Grandson three days a week in the holidays, that's perfectly do-able. Actually it's really nice because I get plenty of time to do my own stuff and still keep up with him and Daughter, without us being in each other's pockets.

To backtrack a bit, Grandson had a really good Summer Term at school; he acted in his class play and concert with great gusto (he knew everyone else's lines and songs as well as his own), and it was a delight to see his shining face onstage - he enjoyed performing so much. He has worked very hard too - he learned to read and his writing and spelling have improved hugely. And to cap it all, he had a really impressive school report and lovely comments from his Teachers. He ran in the races on School Sports Day (he got a first, a second and a fourth),after which we had a picnic on the field in glorious sunshine. So a good time was had by all. And Daughter and I took him out for dinner to celebrate his end of term. Lovely - and now we're in the eight weeks holiday!!

Great Summer weather so far - we've had picnics on the beach and we've made a kite to fly down on the Lawns. I'm still doing regular gardening days for my Therapist and some copywriting for the local Estate Agents, plus improving my Brighton suntan. And I'm planning a trip up to London soon for the Summer Exhibition and a whizz round on the London Eye (I believe it's called a flight, which is quite scary).

Time for bed - I'm pleased to have caught up a bit. Night,night, sleep tight and don't let the bed-bugs bite...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June already!

Here we are at another Bank Holiday - at least we were yesterday. And on Sunday it was Grandson's 6th Birthday. Where, I'd like to know, has the month of May gone, never mind the last year? I suppose it has gone the way of all time, all the years, months and days of my life. And too quickly.

I could give you a run down on what has happened during May, but somehow it doesn't seem worth it. I'd rather look forward than backwards. So it's Half Term for Grandson, and he and Daughter have gone away for the week. They are in Cambridge for a couple of days and then driving down to Devon with the new Boyfriend for a 60th Birthday celebration (his Father's, who is divorced, remarried and has one new baby and another on the way!). I can't even pretend to keep up. Anyway, they all seem happy enough, so what's the problem?

Son and his lovely Girlfriend came down for the weekend, to help with the Birthday Party and to just chill for a couple of days. They have both been frantically busy recently, with Son spending a week in New York on business, and the Girlfriend going to Vancouver to see her parents and trying to keep up with work at the same time. They certainly live at a fast pace and they both looked very tired when they arived. Two days, a Birthday party, and a Barbecue later, plus lots of sleep and relaxation, they both seemed a lot better. Son is off to Cannes in a couple of weeks, for the Advertising Film Festival, so that will probably be another wipe-out. His Girlfriend has decided not to go this year, wisely I think..

My garden is looking lovely now that we have had some rain - at last. Last week the pond was down by about 6 or 8 inches and the frogs were poking their heads out in desperation. I borrowed my lovely downstairs neighbour's outside tap - mine is still not fixed - attached my hose, and topped it up. Sure enough, next day it poured with rain all day! The plants were all at their last gasp, so it was a real blessing. And this year I have the best Oriental Poppies ever, with huge orange tissue-paper heads and very black centres. They are stunningly beautiful next to the tall green Euphorbias and my "Black Barlow" Aquilegia. Luckily I very rarely water my garden, so the roots go deep for their moisture, instead of sitting near the surface. It's strange, but I think the extreme temperatures of last winter, which killed so many plants, have somehow produced some wonderful flowers from those which survived.

Hail June - let's hope it will bring Summer weather for us all to enjoy. We haven't had any really warm weather yet, and we are very nearly half way through the year. My Brighton BF has gone off to Turkey for three weeks in search of the sun - let's hope she has found it. I miss her and our regular Cocktail outings, but we'll soon catch up. And I'm off to stay with my Aristocratic BF on Thursday for a few days. Sissinghurst Garden is lovely at this time of year, and it's just around the corner from where she lives. I'm just finishing up a bit of work (copywriting for the Estate Agents) before I go, and really looking forward to a break. I love the drive through the countryside at this time of year; the rhododendrons will be out, and there will still be cowslips and a few misty bluebells in the hedges. The Cow Parsley is at its best now too - an ugly name for such a beautiful flower - and blowing in the wind. I guess I'll feel a bit like Mr.Toad of Toad Hall, bowling along the country lanes, "Poop Poop!"

Sunday, May 2, 2010

May Day, May Day...

Another Bank Holiday and it's uncharacteristically quiet around here. Daughter and Grandson have gone to Cambridge (again) to stay with a "friend" for the weekend, and so I have the place to myself. It's been raining today so I've spent the day clearing up and cleaning indoors, while watching the rain outside with delight. Ahh, gasped the garden, and my pond positively gurgled with relief. I've watched the water level going down relentlessly (we had no rain at all during April), and have worried about the plants, the tadpoles and the frogs, but they seem to be OK. I uncovered the hiding place of one tiny little chap while I was cutting back the overgrown water plants - he was hiding in the roots of a particularly large plant - but he hopped away quite cheerfully. And the tadpoles continue to grow apace. I was just about to start watering the garden before today's rain, but discovered only yesterday that last Winter's big freeze has left me with two holes in the pipe to my outside tap which render it unusable. Dammit, I'll have to get it repaired or else trust to the heavens to water the plants. Hmm.

Yesterday was a beautiful day, and I wandered up to Kemp Town with one of my Brighton BFs. We passed the May Day "Childrens' Parade" on the way, as it meandered through the Lanes, with loud music and very excited children dressed in various costumes. I was reminded of the time Grandson wanted to join in, dressed in his Superman suit, and walked all the way, following the Parade, when he was only two! He's already providing me with memories and he's still only 5 (or nearly six as he constantly reminds me). Anyway, back to our walk in Kemp Town, where we bumped into Gay Friend who was beautifully dressed as always (bright pink jumper and matching scarf). I do wish he would cut his hair though, because it's a very long, greasy, greyish pontytail which he tucks into a hat (usually) and which sometimes escapes. If I'm really truthful, it makes me feel rather queasy - it's not attractive at all and I'm tempted to take a pair of scissors to it! That would probably be the end of our friendship though. After this encounter we spent a happy half hour in the Antiques Flea Market (where I bought a lovely retro 60s tray for £1) before sitting out in the sunshine to share a toasted ciabatta, a bottle of sparkling water and an almond bite. What a lovely morning it was.

Then yesterday evening I was invited to one of the Private Views that abounded because of the Artists' Open Houses which are a regular part of Brighton's Festival. It was very nice really - my downstairs neighbour's Artist friend is exhibiting with another artist across town - so there were lots of familiar faces, and some very tempting pictures. I may well go back and buy one of the limited edition prints of a stormy Brighton sea and beach; they were beautifully done and affordable as far as my budget goes - which is not very far. There was lovely food and wine too, and good conversation which mostly centred around babies because two of the friends present are pregnant.

Well, that's about it for catching up - though I haven't yet told you about my last trip to London to visit another BF, or my latest foray into copywriting. So much to do, so little time.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Keep on Running...

Yesterday was the first full Brighton Marathon, and it was a really wonderful event. The race actually went past my house (twice), so we had a great view of the proceedings, and also had the benefit of no traffic at all during the day. Grandson and I were up betimes, and swept and tidied the balcony so that we could put out the chairs, tables and cushions and see everything from our vantage point. It was a glorious day too - very fortunately - and our neighbours were setting up a party in their front garden next door. We put out flags, made breakfast, and waited for the runners to appear. The race started at 9am, and the first runner flew past our house at 10 minutes past 10! What an amazing performance. We were at the 25k mark, and I found it incredible that anyone could run so far, so fast! He looked very fit too. Anyway, soon enough the road was completely full of runners, joggers and walkers, all running for their own chosen Charity, and for the next three hours we watched, cheered and clapped them on their way. We had probably the best view possible and sat in comfort, with Buck's Fizz at hand, enjoying the spectacle and the sunshine. When it all moved on to the Seafront, we repaired downstairs to the party next door, and enjoyed a barbeque, a few drinks and some party games. Grandson had a fabulous time playing with the older girls, and it was quite hard to drag him away in the end.

Last Thursday I went up to London for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of CDP (Collett, Dickenson and Pearce), the famous Advertising Agency I was privileged enough to work at in the late 60s. It was a grand party, and I had found the perfect dress and shoes to wear, so I felt pretty good. There were lots of old faces, some recognizable and some not. Luckily though we were all wearing labels, so if you couldn't recognize a face, you could hopefully read a name. It led to some comical situations, but on the whole it was great fun, and I hope I can put some photos on for you to see. I was staying in London with Son and his girlfriend, which was lovely, so I got a taxi home at 11pm. They have a very comfy spare bed which I just fell into and slept very soundly. Next morning we all had boiled eggs and soldiers together in their sunny kitchen, before they went off to work, leaving me to shower and then potter off to meet Sister at Patisserie Valerie in Old Compton Street. Bliss. After some perfect coffee and a Croque Monsieur I headed home on the train, tired but very, very happy. Oh what a busy life I lead!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hearing Things..

No wind and a pale dawn sky as I walked along by the sea this morning. The only sound was the soft, insistent shush-shushing of waves breaking on the shingle - and of course the soft insistent ringing in my ears, which frequently accompanies me these days. No matter, it's just another of those sounds which I can block out most of the time, like the incessant cries of seagulls which used to wake me at 4 in the morning, or the chug-chugging of buses waiting at the traffic lights outside my front garden. Nowadays I seem to choose what I hear, like the birds singing while I'm gardening, and a couple of weeks ago it was the frogs croaking, very loudly, in my pond. They all turned up for the annual frogspawn-fest on the first day of Spring. There were at least 10 quite large frogs, not sure if they were in pairs, but there was an awful lot of frantic activity going on, which we watched in total fascination, and it has resulted in a pond full of frogspawn. Lovely.

I remember that as a child I used to lie in bed and listen to the train chugging (yes, it was a steam engine) along the single track "Pull and Push" railway which ran between Romford and Upminster, stopping at Emerson Park Halt along the way. To catch this train at Emerson Park we had to walk half a mile up Osborne Road, and as the road ran parallel with the railway line, we could guage the train times precisely, and knew when to break into a run so that we didn't miss the train. Going to Primary School also meant walking up the road, in the opposite direction, to cross the railway. There was a black cinder path which led up to the railway line, and a simple wooden stile to cross on either side of the line. Then we walked along a criss-cross of cinder paths and alleys to get to school. I can't imagine that those paths are still there today - it would be considered far too dangerous. But in those days we all did that walk and crossed the railway line at least twice a day. Of course a steam train was slower, much more visible and pretty noisy. And we knew that the train ran along more or less every half hour, so I guess we had the train timetable fixed at the back of our minds. In any case, I can't remember a single accident happening along that line in the 20 years we lived there!

We actually lived in Osborne Road and the line ran along the back end of our garden. The railway bank was a great place to go for having adventures, and Sister and I regularly climbed over the fence to explore. Most of the time, though, we just didn't hear the train - it was another of those sounds that disappeared into the background. But to this day I find the sound of a train comforting when I'm lying in bed. And, funnily enough, most of the houses I've lived in have had a railway line within (faint) earshot. In Cambridge we were backing onto the Botanical Gardens with the train station close behind, though not too close. And even here, in Hove, I can hear the train in the distance some nights or early mornings, when there are no other competing sounds. It's quite a way away, but I guess my ears are tuned to that particular comforting and familiar sound.

By the way, one thing I am listening to is Chris Evans in the morning (sometimes) on Radio 2. He has stopped shouting, and has made me laugh a couple of times. He's no Terry Wogan, but I need a bit of light-hearted banter and some music while I'm ironing. So I suppose I have capitulated - but anything is better than the non-stop bickering between the political parties that's currently wall-to-wall on Radio 4.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Family Fortunes...

Time for a new look at life, I think. Daughter and Grandson are still in residence and we're OK, but the best news is that Grandson has now started school. It's the small Private School (where Hon. Grandaughter goes to school too) which is lovely.
So far, so good. It remains to be seen how long Daughter will be able to afford this, but it is certainly the right thing at the moment. He's very lucky to be getting such loving care and attention, and so let's hope it will last. Perhaps I should set up one of those funds on the Internet which asks for help with Grandson's school fees? A bit cheeky maybe :-)

One step at a time. Tomorrow (Friday) is Daughter's last day at her current job in Leatherhead. This means that she is going in to work tomorrow and then out for drinks and a curry with her workmates. So she won't be home until Saturday morning - and this is further complicated by the fact that her car (the bright red convertible monster) is very sick indeed and needs big money spent on it to put it right. So she has to go to work etc on the train and won't have the car back until Monday or Tuesday. Which means that not only am I on extended babysitting, but I will also be doing all the school runs (and everything else involving transport) until then. Do I sound as if I'm whingeing? I think I do, and I probably am. All I want is a bit of freedom and a social life. It's not that I had a huge amount going on before all this happened two months ago, but at least I could choose what I did with my time. Oh, and did I mention that Daughter has gone out on a date this evening too? No? Maltesers are my comfort and my (fast-disappearing) companions. And before you say it,I know that I'll miss them terribly when they are no longer staying with me. Then I'll be whingeing about not seeing enough of them. There's no pleasing some people.

I have lots of stuff waiting in the wings though - a visit to Aristocratic BF in Sissinghurst, which will be blissful. A trip to London to have a bit of lunch with Son, and maybe do a couple of Galleries. And two London BFs who are asking me to go and stay when I can get away. My Student is here until 20th March, so I probably won't be doing all of that just yet. But it is great to have something to look forward to.

You will be proud of me when I tell you that I have been trying to listen to Chris Evans on Radio 2 in the mornings. Not that I'm doing too well. The most I have managed is half an hour so far - I wonder what Sir Terry Wogan is listening to?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Er, Happy Birthday Mum..

Today, February 11th, would have been my Mother's 100th Birthday! Fancy that. She was born in 1910 (of course) and had a life so different from mine that we could have been a couple of hundred years apart. She had to leave school at 14 (though she loved it) and go into service in a rather grand family in the country. She was allowed to go home once a year! And she had to send her wages home to her Mother. She had one afternoon a week off, started work every morning at five a.m. and was not allowed to speak to her employer. It sounds like the Dark Ages doesn't it?

My Mum was one of eight children and the family lived in Tottenham (we are all Spurs supporters). She had a lovely singing voice and whenever she was at home she went to church regularly and sang in the church choir. Of course she lived through two world wars too. She was only four at the start of WWI and 29 in 1939 as WW2 began, with me as a six-month-old baby. I can't imagine what that might have been like. She was very lucky in that none of her family died in either of the wars. My father had only one eye as the result of a childhood accident, so he didn't get to go to war. He was an Air Raid Warden instead. My only memory of that war is of standing on the back door step of our house in the pitch dark, yelling for someone to take me down to the air raid shelter. I was very small, and probably very frightened, though I don't think I was in any immediate danger - we only had one bomb drop locally in Hornchurch, and that left a very neat hole in the ground which was just the size of the house it demolished. I can't remember anything about casualties. But I do remember that we were only allowed 2 ounces of sweets a week - when I was older of course - and we had to queue up for them at the corner shop. Happy Days..

The other Anniversary today of course, is the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release from prison. What a great survivor he is, and what a wonderful example to us all in this gritty old world. He embodies the triumph of hope, truth and a fine trust in the goodness of humanity. He is, amazingly, 92. Let's hope he makes it to 100.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Things are looking up..

At last, it seems, we have turned a corner and there is positive movement in Hove. It has been a bit of a muddy struggle up till now, but last week a couple of positive things happened. Perhaps it's Planetary Movements. First, we had a letter from the Education Authority, which in brief stated that there was no chance of Grandson getting a place at any of Daughter's stated preferences, offered him a place at a school miles away, and followed this with a not-very-veiled threat by saying that if she didn't accept said place, they would be wanting to know how he was being educated. Pish! The result was that, far from being intimidated, she decided that we would be pro-active and go and look at the school Hon.Grandaughter attends, which is a lovely, small private school in Rottingdean. We went for a look around on Thursday. I already know the school becaused of my connection with KT and Hon.G. I've been to concerts, Sports Days etc over the last few years, and know that it has a homely atmosphere, dedicated teaching staff, and wonderful facilities. Anyway, they promptly offered Grandson a "taster" day on Friday and he just loved it. Of course it costs money, but Daughter is prepared to cough up a bit to get him settled in a comfortable and encouraging educational environment. Fingers crossed that it all comes right.

On Friday evening I had a phone call from probably my oldest living friend! He and I met when I was at Romford County High (now that is going back a bit). He played in a small group: the Terry Graham Trio, which included my friend Terry as the drummer, the late, famous Graham Bond (before he was famous) on saxophone and their friend Colin on piano. It was a Sixth Form Dance and I hung around watching the band until I had an opportunity to talk to them. As a result, I ended up singing with them occasionally, at Weddings, Socials, Dances and the like, and we had such fun for a few years, before life became serious and we all went off in different directions. Then later Terry and I both worked in Advertising, as copywriters, though he was immeasurably more talented than I. We sometimes lost touch and sometimes found each other again. But we still have a friendship that is based on many happy memories of good times shared. The latest news is that we will both be going to the 50th Anniversary Celebration of CDP in April. (That's Collett, Dickenson, Pearce, which was without doubt the most creative and famous Advertising Agency of its time.) And Terry will be playing the drums again. Now that's really something to look forward to - though of course I haven't got a thing to wear.

Then it was my Birthday on Sunday. My old Blogging friends will know that I just love Birthdays - and on this occasion I wasn't disappointed. Two thirty a.m. and I was woken by Grandson, who was sleeping next to me, and wanted to be the first to wish me a happy Birthday. He sang it beautifully, and we had a cuddle and both went back to sleep. Later I had tea and biscuits in bed, courtesy of my lovely Daughter, and sat like a Princess opening cards and the most wonderful presents. One of my Brighton BFs came round with more cards and presents, and I felt thoroughly spoiled. Daughter had also made me a Birthday cake (chocolate sponge and soft chocolate icing!) and so we had a cake to take to London with us. Daughter did the driving, and we met up with Son and his Girlfriend to have a perfect Sunday Lunch in a cosy pub near the flat. Grandson was so excited to see his big Uncle, and we had a lot of laughs. There were more fabulous presents for me, including a small collection of exquisite sea shells from the beach at Koh Samui. And we had a blow by blow account of their holiday in Thailand, the Wedding, and Son's DJing at the Festival of Light in Bangkok. Phew. What a fantastic day it was - no wonder I feel better.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

More of the same...

My good intentions are swiftly falling by the wayside. I'm just so busy most of the time, and when I finally sink down at the end of the day, I simply don't have the energy or inclination to tap out a message to you all. Shorthand would seem to be a good idea, if only I knew it, and if only you would understand it! Anyway, we are rubbing along here, still trying to sort out a school place for Grandson - at least we have posted the preference form and will hope to get a reply before too long. My lovely Daughter is now working out her notice at her current job, as it would be too impratical to carry on driving from Brighton to Leatherhead any longer than is necessary. She is working three days a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) and I'm having Grandson on those days. Emotionally we are up and down, naturally enough. And I'm, quite frankly, exhausted. (I think that was a split infinitive, but I'm too tired to care!)

Sorry if this is boring - lots is happening, but it's all so emotionally charged that it slips out of my head as soon as it has happened. I can't seems to retain anything for long. I can't remember quite what I did yesterday, and last week is completely out of the question. This is probably all for the best.

Meanwhile, Son and his Girlfriend are on holiday in Thailand, where they have gone for a Wedding and holiday combined. Son is going to be Best Man for an old friend of his (from Cambridge days), who now lives in Australia. The Wedding is this Friday and will be lovely, I'm sure. Son phoned us last Saturday to say how wonderful it is there. They are staying in a blissful hotel on a blissful beach, eating fabulous food and they actually thought of us. Son said that he thinks we should all go there on holiday together. Yes please.

January is nearly over, and it has been a strange old start to this New Year. Full of impossible emotional dramas and stuff that can't somehow be contained. I hope the next month will be an improvement. Anyway, the fire is burning low, my eyelids are drooping again, and I have a new Foreign Student, so will have to be up bright and early to do breakfast in the morning. Life, as they say, goes on. And thank heavens it does...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Diary Update..

These are very interesting times. Since Christmas we haven't really moved far, but so much has been going on under the surface that it doesn't seem to matter. My house has gone from lovely, pristine, cosy and welcoming for Christmas, to overstuffed, very untidy and full of plastic bags with their contents spilling out all over the place. It hasn't helped that my lovely occasional cleaner, Monika, has been more absent than present, as she made a trip home to Poland for the Holidays and hasn't been seen (by me at least) since then. She has phoned a couple of times, so I believe that she is back in the country, but only to say that she can't come because of one drama or another. Her next ETA is Friday afternoon, so I have everything crossed because I'm slowly but surely losing the battle with dust bunnies and washing, bedlinen and clothes etc.

Daughter and Grandson are pretty settled in, and we are rubbing along nicely at the moment. There is a lot to sort out, as you can imagine, and we have been somewhat hampered by the snowy weather, as everyone has. In a way it's a blessing in disguise as schools have been closed and people haven't been able to get to work either, so this enforced containment has helped all of us to come to terms with the new state of affairs. We are investigating local schools, all of which are full, and will be
putting Grandson on a couple of waiting lists once we have looked at them. As he is only 5 and a half, I'm not terribly worried about a bit of waiting, but he is definitely missing the structure of going to school and Daughter is anxious about him missing out. It seems to me that it's probably more important to wait and for him to only have one lot of adjustment; moving schools once is bad enough. Finding somewhere to live is another priority, but it's all going to take time. There are plenty of flats for rent in Brighton and Hove, but apparently it doesn't help that she has a child (?). And our estate agents are a slimy lot on the whole. One in particular keeps phoning her and saying "Oh, of course, you've got the five-year-old." As if she might just have mislaid him since the last phone call. Bastards.

And then there's her job situation - she will have to leave and find a job closer to home, now that Brighton is home again. She is dealing with it all in a calm way, mostly, and is sure that she is on the right path. Watching her, I can only say that I'm proud of the way she is coping. And Grandson is mostly so happy to have his Mum back again that it is going to be well worth all the upheaval.

What about me? Well, see above. I haven't had much chance to do anything other than help with the re-settlement process. And I expect it will go on for a fair few months before we can say that everything is sorted. Poor Daughter has also got to go through the real separation with the (now ex) Boyfriend; sorting their stuff, packing up and moving, hiring a van, putting things in store and then moving herself and Grandson into what will hopefully be their happy new home. I'll drink to that - in fact mine's a very large one!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Belated Thanks..

Thank you so much to Working Mum, one of my very good Blogging Friends - for a lovely award which she was kind enough to give me before Christmas, and which I have been very dilatory in both acknowledging and posting. Many apologies. I know I have been both busy and preoccupied, but that's not a good enough excuse. It is a delight to have this award, and I shall endeavour to be worthy of it. I'd better get on with posting more often for starters. Perhaps that should be my (belated) New Year's Resolution.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Happy New Year - you can say that again..

I don't really know where to start, but first of all I'd like to wish all my faithful (and oft-disappointed) followers a very Happy New Year. I would also say a very belated Merry Christmas, but it's far too late for that! I have plenty to tell you, but it's going back a bit, so I'll try and be brief...

When last I blogged, things were looking pretty bad (see above). Just after that it was Daughter's birthday (she was 28 on the 12th) and she ended up coming here to celebrate with a little Birthday tea (jelly, cake and candles, that sort of thing). Son and his Girlfriend came too, and they all went out to celebrate for the evening, with several of her old girlfriends from Cambrige days. So far so good, but the next weekend we had planned to have a heart to heart with Grandson, and to try and explain to him about his real Father. This had us all feeling nervous, mostly because we just wanted it to go as well as possible for the little chap. As you will all be aware, he had been feeling pretty insecure about "family". But in the end, it went amazingly well. He had obviously been anticipating something, and was very receptive to what his Mum and I told him. It was all clearly and honestly explained to him, in simple language, and we drew him a family tree with little illustrations to explain who was who in our family. We had some photos of when he was born, and they showed who was there at the birth: Me, Daughter, real Father and (of course) Grandson who slipped out looking decidedly blue, with the cord around his neck! Son was also there in the hospital, as was my Ex-Husband (with wife number 4), real Father's Mother and her Boyfriend (I know, I know), so it was quite a crowd in the waiting room. Anyway, the dreaded truth-telling went extremely well, and Grandson came out of it feeling fine about himself. And wanting to meet his real Father of course - more on that later!

During the next week Grandson stayed with me as he was on holiday from school and Daughter was at work - we also thought it would be good for him to feel really secure here just in case he wanted to ask any more questions about family matters. All was fine until the day before Christmas Eve when the next drama erupted. Daughter and the Boyfriend split up. (Well, I did promise to make it brief.) This was far more dramatic and emotional than I can recount here, but I'm sure you can imagine the mixed feelings. Of course it wasn't easy and Daughter was distraught, though equally sure that she had had to make that decision. She said that, having decided to be open and honest with Grandson, she had to also be honest with herself. To cut a very long story short, we all ended up here for Christmas (Daughter, Me, Grandson, Son and his Girlfriend) and a pretty emotional time was had by all. Actually it was lovely to have them here, and we were all supporting each other. We had the best time it was possible to have under the circumstances, although everyone also had colds, coughs and sneezes, but at least we weren't giving them to anyone else. And now I have Grandson and Daughter staying here until she can sort everything out: job, school, flat etc. (Of course they do say "Be careful what you wish for." :-) So far, so good, and we're just taking it one day at a time.

Oh yes, and Daughter (brave girl) did take Grandson to meet his real Father last week. I do admire her courage. In fact it went very well. And then she also took him to meet his paternal Grandmother and her parents (great Grandparents). Grandson is quite obviously both relieved and happy to know the truth, and he is also delighted to be discovering so many new family members. He still has to come to terms with the next lot of upheavals, and I really hope that we can help him through them.
Now we're just having a couple of days chilling out before the next instalment.
Happy New Year, and all that...

PS. I knew I would miss dear old Terry Wogan, but the reality is much worse than I had feared. Where, oh where, is he in my hour of need?