I Was Swallowed By A Hippo

Castle life, Aga strife, slummy mummy, average wife

Drama

It’s been all-go around here lately – break-ups, punch-ups, gay kisses, graduation ceremonies, a near-catastrophic sailing trip and a surprise pregnancy. Wait, WHAT?? Oh yes, that was Dawson’s Creek*, I must stop getting it confused with reality.

Weirdly, reality has almost been more exciting over here in our little corner of ‘where the hell IS that???’. It’s been all TV film crews, gigantic diggers and a near-catastrophic chimney fire around here. We’ve also had a brand-new arrival in the family, which comes top of my lengthy, Fabulous Things list. (Right above the gigantic digger).

Harper Hero -  I have it on good authority that her first name has nothing to do with the Beckhams

Harper Hero – I have it on good authority that her first name has nothing to do with the Beckhams

My gorgeous niece, Harper Hero, was born last week, 4 weeks before she’d planned to say ‘hello world’ but at a good healthy weight. She needed a wee extra stay in special care but has lived up to her fabulous middle name and is due to come home shortly. They are coming to visit in May, from New York, so┬áIt will be another couple of months before I can sniff her fuzzy head. In the mean time I’m making do with daily FaceTime calls to my amazing wee sister who has been plugged in to a hospital grade breast pump for over a week.

The arrival of the gigantic digger on site heralded the start of the construction phase of the hydro electric scheme that has been six years in the planning and the cause of numerous bouts of IBS for my stressed out husband. It is VERY exciting and whilst I can’t claim to have any clue what it will do or how it will work, I do know that it is yet another example of Niall ‘getting shit done’ which he is definitely winning at as I can’t even stay on top of my ironing pile.

Not my dad. Thankfully.

Not my dad. Thankfully.

I can’t really say too much about the film crew as it is Top Secret and may not come to anything but it was a very exciting day and I did briefly feel like a VIP, as opposed to a sleep deprived slummy mummy with dubious personal grooming habits. It did get me thinking (and worrying) about how we would come across on telly though. Someone** once described my family as being one part The Osbournes to two parts The Good Life which perfectly summed up our household of four hormonal, strong-minded women and long-suffering dad with an affinity for home grown vegetables. Thinking about my own special little unit, I would say we are a pleasant mixture of The F@!king Fulfords, Monarch of the Glen and Downton Abbey (if Lady Mary spent her days fishing turds out of baths and cleaning up dog sick).

I’m still too traumatised to talk about the chimney fire which happened on my watch while my husband was away for a few days. If it hadn’t been for the heroic efforts of my father-in-law, breathless from extensive chemotherapy, I shudder to think what might have been. Fingers crossed for some dull moments coming up.

*the end is in sight. Six series in four weeks. There’s one hell of an ironing pile waiting for me.

**I’m pretty sure it was my charming brother-in-law

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Desperate Housewife

I’ve been feeling pretty pleased with myself lately as I finally seem to be getting the hang of living in a castle, hundreds of miles from the nearest Primark, with two despot ‘tweenagers’ and a workaholic husband. There is a happy rhythm to our lives at the moment and we seem to be bumbling along quite nicely. It helps that the schools are off so there isn’t the usual frantic last minute rush in the morning, hunting for shoes, stuffed sheep and random items for show and tell – pine cones, shells, dental floss etc. This is despite the day generally starting at 6am so by the time we’re running 10 minutes late for the nursery run, I’ve been up for over three hours.
My time management has definitely improved and I seem to be most productive in the early hours, when sane people with considerate children are still tucked up in bed. On a good day, by 9am, I have often ironed a load of bed linen, made a pot of soup, completed a 20 minute fitness dvd and made a few cushion covers.

You can never have enough.

You can never have enough.

My latest fad is soft furnishings, ever since a talented friend showed me how to work the ancient sewing machine my MiL left behind. There is a ready supply of material all over this house which is begging to be upcycled so It’s a cheap hobby at the moment and I can furnish the holiday cottages with my finished creations, once I’ve filled up the castle.

I’ve also rediscovered crochet recently after a long break due to bad associations. I made a ripple blanket for a family baby whilst watching the box set of Breaking Bad and the whole experience left me traumatised. I loved making the blanket but that overrated, soulless series left me cold and unable to pick up a hook for months. Thank God for Homeland 3 which arrived via a friend last week and which we are binge watching at a rate of three episodes a night. I’ve made 16 granny squares (another cushion, there is still space on the Chesterfield) and am half-way through a hat.

'Nuff said.

Nuff said.

If I was ever worried about morphing into a ghastly Martha Stewart/Bree Van Der Kamp hybrid, there are plenty of days when things don’t go according plan. This week alone I have unwittingly flashed the stonemason from the bedroom, pranged my MiL’s car in Tesco car park and served coffee to an important client of Niall’s in the “I’m a twat” mug.

 

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It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like…..

Sparkly Tat

Sparkly Tat

The castle is gradually filling up with sparkly tat which can only mean one thing – Christmas is so close I can SMELL it! Or is that my christmas pudding burning in the Aga? According to my Christmas Countdown twitter feed, there is only 5 weeks, 5 days, 1 hour and 38 minutes until the Big Day and I can’t bloody wait. This year will be extra special as it will be our first in the castle*, and my first experience of hosting, EVER. There’ll be 13 adults plus the two weans and four dogs and I’m already getting nervous about the turkey. I predict that by 8am on Christmas day I will be referring to it as ‘thefuckingturkey’ but be too pissed on cava to really care about salmonella or campylobactor**.

Meanwhile, with just 39 days, 1 hour and 48 minutes to go, I need to get busy with lots of homemade attempts at presents and decorations. Plans are afoot for a garland for the staircase made from forgaged greenery from the castle grounds. Handily, we have an expert florist living on the estate who has kindly offered to help so I’ve organised a ‘mulled wine and garland’ evening in a couple of weeks time. I suspect the emphasis will be on the mulled wine rather than the garland but we’ll give it a crack.

Other plans mostly involve crochet, including these lovely snowflakes. I’m thinking some snowflake bunting round the hall would look fabulous and it would just be rude NOT to hang baubles from the antlers of all the dead stags on the wall. I’d like to try and make as many presents as possible this year, which is a thing I say every year but still find myself panic buying at the last minute from Amazon.com. If I get my arse in gear, this years’ lucky recipients could be unwrapping hats, headbands or hedgehog mittens.

Yikes, now there’s only 38 days, 10 hours, 53 minutes and 20 seconds to go. Better get the sprouts on….

 

*Sore point. I played the, “but it could be granny’s last Christmas” card for years. She died aged 100…

**My old pal…

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Completer-fini….

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I am BESIDE MYSELF with excitement! I have completed not one but TWO projects in the past week. This is unprecedented for me. I am not a completer-finisher, more a do-half-a-job-then-give-up-er but I have excelled myself this week. I started a crocheted cushion for India’s room way back when but typically got bored of it and pushed it aside with barely 4″ left to go. However, thanks to a genius friend and her inspired online Crochet Camp*, I picked it up again and got it all sewn up in record time.

The second project took a mere 2 days from start to finish and I reckon with a bit more focus and less facebooking whilst watching really BAD movies, I could knock one up in a night. It’s a cushion cover made from an old travel rug stiched together with blanket stitch. Easy peasy and there’s a mountain of old blankets here crying out to be upcycled. 20130818-210748.jpgI’m already imagining a cushion cover empire which comfortably funds the leaky roof and a nanny for each child. Back in the real world however, I predict enthusiasm will become boredom which will lead quickly to resentment and I’ll be surrounded by half finished,hacked up old blankets whose hopes of a new life have been cruelly dashed by my apathy. My husband calls me half-a-job-Roberts (not really that affectionately TBH) and my wee sister is quick to remind me that I haven’t even completed a third trimester (first baby was prem, second was very prompt). I’m nothing if not consistent.

*Crochet Camp is a Facebook group set up by Kat
Goldin
to teach beginners and support more experienced hookers (yes, yes, get over it). It was meant to be temporary but myself and the 1,135 other members are going to keep it going as it is a wonderful place to show off projects, plea for help and get fabulous ideas. I’m sure this is what Tim Berners Lee wanted to the Internet to be. It’s the antithesis to all the ghastly trolling and hideous threats that seem to be common place now. Hang out in Crochet Camp and feel the love!

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