Tales from the tent…

Family

So it seems my worries earlier in the week were what they often are; time wasted.

Yesterday we returned from what really was a wonderful few days away. So wonderful in fact that I felt the need to share a few snaps and short stories with you…

Anyone familiar with our family set up will have undoubtedly have guessed by now that the responsibility of putting up the tent clearly fell to me. To those that aren’t, let’s just say that my partner likes to take on more of an advisory role.

IMG_3877-0.JPG

IMG_3881-0.JPG

IMG_3885.JPG

And after a journey that, thanks to the closure of a stretch of the M25, took twice as long as anticipated, we just about managed to get the tent up and the car unpacked before any rainfall. However, the heavens opened in time for the BBQ!

IMG_3888.JPG

We were wrapped up cosy and warm with plenty of blankets and I relaxed the usual bedtime routine to enjoy cuddles in bed as we fell asleep.

IMG_3925.JPG

And although the rain ensured breakfast was also in bed…

IMG_3899.JPG

…the weather was still warm enough for a few hours on the beach!

IMG_3924.JPG

But don’t worry, the wellies didn’t go to waste!

IMG_3909.JPG

Advertisements

Life before children

Family, Uncategorized

Last night, I had an extra large glass of wine and stayed up until 10pm. This morning, light filtered through my curtains at 4.45am as usual, my eyelids flickered and then I fell back asleep. Then, when I awoke, I sat in bed slowly sipping an enormous mug of hot chocolate whilst talking to my boyfriend and reading a magazine.

My daughter spent the night at her grandparents.

20140704-141543-51343763.jpg

When I finally got up, I made the bed. I took a long, hot, silent shower and got ready. I took a trip to Tesco and ambled down the aisles stopping to look at anything and everything that caught my eye. Afterward, I wandered around the clothes shops and treated myself to a coffee and cake. Upon returning home I did other jobs; hung out the washing, watered the garden, painted my nails.

And I type this now back in bed! At 2pm!

I remember how this used to be the norm. How I could pick and chose how I spent my days, filling my time with this or that. Wandering. Ambling. How I knew the names of made-for-the-media celebrities and would spend my money on party dresses and fashionable shoes. Shoes that looked lovely whilst wandering and ambling.

Things were different today though. Where was the bouncing as I changed the bed? The photos I flicked through featured smiles that were unusually dimmed, subdued. The enormous hot chocolate was too much for me alone. In Tesco I missed the singing. As I shopped for a dress for this weekends party I realised that practicality was probably the order of the day. I left empty handed. And here is the part where poetic license suggests I claim to have scanned for sensible shoes, but anyone who knows me will see right through that. Suffice to say I looked at lovely shoes…in size 22.

Her absence was everywhere. How did I not see it before? Or maybe I did. Maybe all of those times I felt lost and alone I was simply missing someone I was yet to meet.

A matter of perspective

Family, Uncategorized

Age twelve, I was terrible. Not yet a teenager but causing my parents more than their fair share of trouble. Their house, my home, became more a drop-in-centre for me and my newly acquired following of friends.

A place that felt small when I was too big for my boots.

My bedroom, a recent garage conversion, provided the perfect private space; a flight of narrow stairs separating us, from them. Pastel paint and ‘Forever Friends’ spoke of my all too recent childhood whilst shared secrets and first kisses were played out in front of an audience of tatty posters from the middle of magazines that screamed from the walls of an attempt to become someone new. Dim light cast doubting shadows.

Down the corridor, the kitchen had become a cold and deserted space. The spacious extension never stepped up to the mark. And the back door marked the boundary between all that was familiar and the world I wanted so desperately to explore. Never locked, it became the direct route to my first attempts at freedom.

Upstairs was different. An oversized TV provided a non-stop soundtrack to the 90s. Tatty pink sofas, that were yet to be replaced, saw my parents take time to stop and rest. When they were home, that’s where they could be found. A constant, my brother would be attempting to transform the scene into the backdrop to some of the greatest sporting victories the world would never see with each bounce of a ball. Upstairs was home.

And nestled at the top of the house were their bedrooms. And somewhere I would soon sacrifice the space and freedom of my downstairs for in favour of angular ceilings and a cramped child’s bed. Just to be near them. Just to feel close. Subconsciously trying so hard to remain a part of them whilst the rest of the world slowly succeeded in pulling me under and away.

Toad in the hole

Family, Uncategorized

I have always been my Nanny’s favourite. Her special little girl. And, growing up, I needed to believe that was the case. Everybody needs to feel important.

20140614-072231-26551816.jpg

She has always made me feel loved and treasured, safe and complete. Looking back, I realise now that she is one of the few people I have never really disguised myself from. I have never had to because I have never, ever questioned that she loves me. For me. Even when I have let her down.

As a child, I would often stay with her and, being an old school dinner lady, she would always cook me hearty meals. If it was my birthday, or I had to take my cookery badge at Brownies, I would be sent to Nanny’s for the day to bake cakes. Sunday lunch at hers was always full of treats.

But she never asked my favourite. She knew.

I would know she had cooked it the second I walked in the door. From her smile alone.

Thick and meaty sausages resting in light and crispy batter, lightly browning in her gas oven. Stocky gravy (with a flavour that I have never tasted anywhere other than sat at her dining room table and I could never accurately describe here) would be prepared and poured from a proper gravy boat. And peas. Always peas.

She would make it when she was expecting me. Never too much trouble or too much effort. She would make it to make me smile.

And other people make it now when I am coming to stay. They make it when I am sad. They make it when they want me to feel special. And, once, a boy even promised to make it for our first date. He never did. I always appreciate the gesture and I always smile but, Nanny, it never compares to yours.

20140614-074514-27914947.jpg

And now Nanny’s dining room belongs to someone else and, on those special, family occasions, I drive to collect her and we all sit around a table at my Mum and Dad’s ‘new’ house, or even at ours. And I miss her toad in the hole.

But I still do, and always will, treasure her smile.

A Day At The Races

Family

As I type this I am in a minibus on my way to the Epsom Derby . A day out with the whole family; mum, dad, daughter, in laws….you name them and they are here. Well, except my brother in law who, his sister informs me in a hushed whisper from the back seat, is making his own way down after a heavy Friday night. And there’s first minor bump on the road…

20140607-100629-36389684.jpg

And as the rain begins to fall from dark skies, I try to remind myself that this is what family occasions are supposed to be like. Christmases, birthdays, family holidays just wouldn’t be the same if there wasn’t something forced. When we gave everyone their tickets as a one-size-fits-all solution to Christmas presents it seemed like a great idea. But after a week of negotiating regarding travel and picnic arrangements, checking the weather app daily only to be repeatedly disappointed, an early morning trip to Tesco and lots of checking and re-checking of who was in charge of which tickets (and obviously failing to get a lot of this right!), it all feels a bit too much like hard work. Maybe we should have stuck to socks.

However, as we approach the car park and I check the clock, I begin to relax. What can go that wrong? We are family…on a nice day out.

But, then again, maybe it’s just the rapidly approaching prospect of a pre midday glass of champagne. Or remembering that the day provided a good excuse to buy that jacket…

20140607-110816-40096154.jpg