I Was Swallowed By A Hippo

Castle life, Aga strife, slummy mummy, average wife

Early Rising

20131027-070846.jpgI generally consider myself to be a happy, positive, cup-half-full kind of person. Hopefully not so much that people want to slap me but I really haven’t been depressed or angst-ridden since my teens and my brief Morrisssy/fringed skirt/black bedroom wall phase. I am doing my best to channel this sunny outlook into trying to see the positives in starting the day between 4.30 and 5.30 am. This is where we’re at just now and have been for weeks thanks to our darling terrorist nearly-two year old who insists on getting up at stupid o’clock. We’ve tried to break the habit – gentle singing and a story and back to bed, no communication at all just lying her down and stroking her head*, controlled crying**, but it always ends the same way – her happily scoffing cereal followed by back-to-back Peppa Pig and me resentfully chewing away on my yogurt and muslei, trying not fixate on bacon rolls.

But there IS a positive to this tortuous early-rising. It’s the perfect time to crack on with crochet projects and in three weeks I’ve churned out a load of baby hats in various guises – penguins, puppies, Vikings, centurions, pilots and sundry floral efforts. There has been a spate of babies lately, including three born locally which is great news for our wee playgroup and the school.

Another bonus is the sunrises. They are beginning to be pretty spectacular and will only get more so as we head in to winter. It just takes the edge off my mood if, after angrily ripping open the curtains, I’m presented with neon pink fluffy clouds.

In other castle news, the central heating is up and running and keeping us toastie warm which is just fabulous. I’m already taking it completely for granted and have even uttered the fateful words, “it’s too HOT”. Also, we have two more WWOOFers who arrived a fortnight ago. They are a young couple from Spain (him) and India/UK (her) and it’s lovely to have more people around again. Best of all, Shanthi, expressed interest in helping me in the house rather than working in the rain. There was a can of pledge in her hand before you could say ‘exploitation’ and between us we scrubbed the castle almost clean. Happy days.

*I’m sure during this attempt she was trying to articulate, “whattheactualf@!k are you doing?”, with her relentless shrieks
** we take it in turns to shut ourselves in the spare room and sob for 10 mins each at a time.

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Road Trip

Me and the girls took a second trip ‘up the road’* last week. I’d blocked out the horrors of the last journey back and was genuinely excited about packing up the car and heading off, just three of us plus Elaine and Barbara for company. Once again my bubble burst, barely an hour in and too far from my planned stop in ‘Inverbloodyrary’. I don’t know what sets them off but the occasional whinge becomes relentless screaming that no amount of jelly babies or Dont Cry for Me Argentinas, can abate. I always say, if you can’t beat them up, join them and I managed to stun the little darlings into silence with a 120 decibel tirade if my own**.

20131016-220434.jpgWe got there in the end and it was a wonderful visit, full of special moments and lots of laughs and some penguins. To cut a long story short I shall summarise it in numbers:

Miles: 360
Jelly babies: tons
People, big and little: 26
Boozy girly nights out: 1
Boozy girly nights in: 1
Occasions that grandpa was coerced into playing a dog/baby/patient by Zoe: 54
Brand new alloys on spanking new car belonging to parents, badly scraped: 2***
Retail opportunities: 17
Pandas: 0

It was a blast but lovely to get back. There’s a point in the return journey, when you turn off the main road and you know there is still 20 miles of tortuous single track and the kids are building up to another meltdown but you don’t care because you actually are “NEARLY THERE YET”, and suddenly you are driving up the hill with The View at the top and there is the beach and the trees and the bridge and the gate and the avenue and the arch and the castle. And home.

*local speak for visiting civilisation or anywhere with a McDonalds
**a technique learned from my mother. See ***
***I don’t want to talk about it

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Through Traffic

A big concern about living remotely was feeling isolated from the world and not having contact with many people day-to-day. I am definitely a people person. I love a natter with a neighbour or some banter with Tesco delivery man or a sympathetic chat with a mother-on-the-edge, caught in the act of screaming at a belligerent toddler in the street. Oh hang on, that was me…
Anyway, once again my fears were unfounded. This place is like Mardi Gras*. The doorbell rings constantly and you never know who or what to expect. The other day the parcel delivery chap appeared with 300 rolls of toilet paper at 8.30am. I don’t think he appreciated my quip about needing it last week when I had food poisoning. Must stop over-sharing. We also get a quite a few random foreigners pitching up, thinking we’re open to the public. I do find this quite hilarious and am tempted to invite folk in, charge them a tenner and show them all our crap that’s cluttering up every room. “….And this is a fisher price kitchen, circa 2010, bought for the bargin price of TEN POUNDS at a car boot sale…please don’t break your neck on any plastic fruit…”.

20131007-225736.jpgIn addition to obscure deliveries and disappointed tourists, there has been a steady stream of Latvian workmen stomping around this week, doing something wonderful to the second floor. They are installing ACTUAL radiators which means we could have PROPER central heating in a matter of weeks. There has been talk of this for a while but I’d filed it under, Believe It When I See It, and had started ordering thermals from Amazon. I really must have more faith in my fabulous husband who has delivered yet again, despite being under enormous pressure and working every hour to quite literally keep a roof over our heads. The problem is that when he starts talking about bio-mass boilers and heat plates and continuous flows, my brain seems to muddle it all up and it just sounds like he’s speaking Greek. I just smile and nod and say “uh huh” and “hmmmm” a lot. It gets you quite far.

So when the dust settles and the sound of pounding Latvian techno music is just a distant memory, we just need to συνδέσετε τις σωληνώσεις to the καλοριφέρ and hope the βιο-μάζας λέβητα can παράγει αρκετή θερμότητα. Just in the nick of time too. I have been strangely drawn to adult onsies lately…

*without the sequins…

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