I Was Swallowed By A Hippo

Castle life, Aga strife, slummy mummy, average wife

Rainy days and scotch pies

After a record FOUR weeks with pretty much NO RAIN, it has finally cracked and we woke up to that ghastly sound of precipitation bouncing of the roof tiles. I thought the sun always shines on
Tiree. Like the song. After a mild panic about how to entertain the ferrets indoors with hardly any props we decided to cut our losses and head to the one rainy day option on the island – SOFT PLAY! Once again the Gods were smiling down and it was closed when we got there but in true Hebridean style the rain had already blown over and they were delighted with a trip to the play park which I’ve managed to avoid for two years*.

Our week is nearly over and I can sense a post-Tiree decline looming. I’m sure it’s being compounded by my atrocious ‘anything goes’ diet this week. My effective ‘low carb, no snacking between meals’ approach (1 stone off, hurrah!) has gone to pot as I’ve tucked into crisps, chocolate and biscuits and washed it all down with beer, cider and wine. image

I’ve been eating meals in between snacks and things reached an all-time low yesterday with the consumption of a scotch pie. HELP. The thought of not eating homemade bread smothered in Nutella makes me weep but I don’t want to go back to where I was at the beginning of the year. Maybe it’s just the sea air…

*nothing at all against play parks. It’s just the principle of the thing when you have access to miles and miles of empty beaches.

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Fraudulent holiday

I am almost embarrassed to admit that I’m on actual holiday after three weeks of mucking about on a beach in scorching sunshine. We booked it before we were cruelly thrown out of our house and forced to move into a castle though.

We’re on Tiree for a whole week of justified mucking about on a beach and generally doing hee followed by haw which is fabulous. Grandparents are conveniently here also for some handy child off-loading.

I need my annual fix of this island. It gets under your skin. Quite literally sometimes – I’ve found sand in crevices I wasn’t even aware of…

I think it’s the expansive sky and the machair and the white sand and the turquoise water and the empty beaches. I hate reading features about Tiree in magazines as I selfishly want it to stay secret. Totally ridiculous, I know. But still…
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I’ve started a new crochet¬†project at last.* It’s going to be a round cushion cover for India’s new bedroom,¬† made with cheapy wool but in lovely colours. I’d forgotten how therapeutic crochething is. If I relax any more though I won’t have a pulse. Just as well the kids keep trying to wreck our lovely holiday cottage every 5 minutes which keeps the blood pressure nice and high**.

*because weirdly, the children seem to be able to amuse themselves here and there is less limpeting going on.

**see *

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If Carlsberg built schools….

A major worry about moving the family to bunglefuck the arse end of nowhere the country, was the school situation and a peer group for the children, or lack there of. I imagined no one under 25 for miles around and the kids having only each other to fight play with. And more worryingly, ME having to constantly think of things to amuse them with without a local soft play* or pals to visit or parents to off load them on**.

Picture my delight then when we went to visit the local primary to enrol Zoe in nursery and discovered a beautiful, modern open plan building covered inside and out with bright murals and not one or two but FOUR peers in the nursery class! It really is a wonderful place and her first taster session went brilliantly.

It helps that 3 out of the 4 kids also go to the local playgroup which is on twice a week. Another fear silenced. Chums for them and chums for me! Although I am mindful of the old saying, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the others know all your sordid secrets and embarrassing mistakes from the past and won’t hesitate to remind you of all the times you’ve been a total fanny.”.

*I freakin’ HATE soft play

**I have Niall’s parents! Yay! And they are just a staircase away…

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Projects

I am brimming with inspiration for creative projects. There are loads of fabulous pieces of old furniture lying around, crying out to be up-cycled. (And equal amounts crying out to be slung on the bonfire but I am keeping quiet….mostly…).

20130616-095110.jpgI love this tatty old chair that has been hidden away in the playroom* for years, abandoned and unloved, awaiting rescue. I’m thinking a colourful lick of paint and a crocheted cushion, in the style of http://attic24.typepad.com.

Also in the playroom is a lovely big old square coffee table that my MiL remembers having in Hong Kong when she lived there as a child. My big idea for this is to turn it into a play table for the kids. A Very Clever friend did this with an Ikea coffee table and it looks amazing.

Top of the list is India’s new room. Her first proper bedroom, having been consigned to a dingy study in our last house with only some token bunting for decoration. She is going to move to my brother-in-law’s old room after he kindly cleared out his teenage shrine which had remained largely untouched since he moved out just 17 years ago…
It’s been painted up and looks great. Now I just need to make it look fabulous. Hello Pinterest**…

Lastly I need to get busy with crocheted things for fabulous baby Olivia. I have a pattern in mind and I have the wool I just need to get going. I face stiff competition from another auntie over at http://www.teaistheanswer.com so need to up my game. She’s a few cardis ahead of me and definitely out-blanketed me with a sneaky ripple. Not that I’m competitive or anything…

*for playroom read dumping ground for 5 generations of toys and books and dust….

**the thing is though I know I am going to spend so much time cooing over gorgeous ideas on Pinterest that I’ll never ever get round to doing anything in real life. I’ve given myself a deadline of before India leaves home.

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New things

There are lots of fabulous new things in my life at the moment. It goes with the territory of moving into a very old, well-established house.
In no particular order of my excitement upon acquisition…

#1 An Aga. Initially I was ever so slightly, WTF?? But I am growing to love this way of cooking. You basically shove whatever it is in the very hot oven and try not to forget about it. For slow cooking, and soup or stock, you shove it in the cooler oven and it doesn’t really matter if you forget about it. No preheating so it’s always good to go. The down side of this is that the kitchen is always a hundred degrees and it also costs a million pounds to run. May not be a keeper.

#2 A Kenwood mixer. LOVE this. I’ve always wanted one. This particular one belonged to my husband’s grandfather! Love that it’s got history. I tried it out by making mayonnaise with freshly collected eggs. Get me!

#3 Stairs. We lived in a bungalow before. I feel like Sherpa Tensing whenever I’m lugging a small child/washing basket/armful of random crap we’ve been tripping over, up stairs.

#4 Pulley. LOVE LOVE LOVE this! It’s above the Aga so everything dries in super quickly. Genius invention. No more airing our clean laundry in public.

20130611-075915.jpg#5 Olivia Ida Goodlet. My new niece! I am an auntie for the first time and super excited. She is GORGEOUS and perfect and her name is like a beautiful poem. She lives in New York but we will get to know her on Skype and will try to visit before she turns 15.

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Things I have learned this week

#1 I CAN pick up dog poo (with a spade!!) In the past, before I liked dogs*, I was utterly repulsed by the thought of dealing with their ‘business’ and secretly revolted by responsible owners who had no qualms with picking up warm doodoo with a thin plastic bag. I even refused to pick up after my granny’s fat King Charles and felt no shame as granny wobbled precariously on her walking stick, bag in hand, struggling to bend far enough to reach her steaming target. Maybe it’s the sea air or I’ve just gone all country but I love my daily turd-spot and clean-up of the lawn. The kids enjoy the spotting bit too. Family fun!

#2 I am nicer person after a swim in the sea. I am getting in to a wonderful routine down here of going for a dip a around 6pm. On a scale of one to batshit mental, I’m usually up there by this time of day but after a plunge in the icy water and a few strokes round the bay, I feel like the Dalai Lama.

20130607-073512.jpg#3 I am not a dry husk! I cried like a baby when I came across a gorgeous picture of me and my three oldest and dearest friends whilst unpacking to the version of Auld Lang Syne from Sex and the City when Miranda is alone at New Year and Carrie goes out in the snow and catches a subway and walks and walks to get to her. I would so do that for each and every one of them. Except it would be a ferry. And it doesn’t run in winter…..

#4 Home is where the box of random items that have no place and you’ve forgotten their original function or where they came from or how long they’ve been hanging around but you can’t face throwing any of them out because they might hold the key to survival one day, is.

*total 360. Love doggies now! Want a puppy NOW. I am auntie to a chocolate lab in NY and very keen to give him cousins. It seems rude not to have one here.

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Home

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So it’s not a bad place to live! It’s helped that the sun has shone since we arrived. The kids have gone feral already and haven’t worn shoes for three days. I think I’ve washed once. Meh, it’s the country. Who cares?
The unpacking will be gradual but that’s ok. It’s made me wonder, what do you really need day-to-day except for sunshine and WiFi? I suspect there is a dose of mental in the post though. I had an internal radge about missing my yogurt maker earlier before I gave myself a virtual face-slap and got a grip. I think that is what is classed as a First World Problem. Or just a Middle Class Twat problem.

Now all that’s needed is sleep. After a couple of crap nights while they ‘settled in’ ( they’re in THEIR OWN BEDS), the kids are now coughing like SARS patients and waking us up frequently. It prompted our first trip to the doctor’s surgery, “where everybody knows your name…” and your sordid history of STDs. Which is nice.

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