Friday, December 12, 2008


I have felt for some time as if the land has opened up and swallowed me entire. Not smothering me, or drowning me in darkness in its soily belly, but taking me within, knowing I am there, holding me safe inside. I knew it again today as I walked on chips of ice fallen from the branches of the etched and wintered trees - the melting blossom pattering still to ground.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Cheese Gromit

School Christmas play last night. Positively one of my favourite nights of the year. All tinsel wings and tea towels. My five-year-old son was an angel (glorious) while the seven-year-old was cast as a man who worked in a garden centre (of course). I was relieved to see the seven-year-old on stage at all. He hates performing, so started the day buried in the boot of my car refusing to get out. "I don't want to be in the play. I'm not going to be. I'm staying here." This scene in the school carpark involved various mothers walking by pretending not to notice. Luckily, the teaching staff are a lot more persuasive than I am.

The play began as a nativity complete with floppy-eared donkeys and short, resplendent kings, and then segued brilliantly into Wallace and Gromit (hence the garden centre. What can I say? You had to be there.) It featured scenes in the local cheesemakers, garden centre and second hand bookshop. At the finale, as the children sang out the nativity story, Wallace finished his cheese and biscuits and opened up a large cardboard book entitled "Life in the North by Y Eye". (I'd buy it.)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Don't mention the war

Thirteen and a half hour journey to Germany. Ready to shoot myself on our arrival at friend's house. I could blame the snow which delayed us in the UK, and meant we had to divert to an airport 230km away from our final destination in Germany. But fundamentally, I am not sure travelling with children is worth it.

Driving conditions were desperate - icy sleet and rain, darkness and no speed limits. The boys kept turning on the lights in the back of the car which would make my husband start yelling "Lampen Auf! Lampen Auf!". ( I do not think he will ever consider himself a true European.) To ramp it up that little bit more, my three-year-old daughter refused to wear her seat belt, preferring instead to crawl through the gap and drive the car herself. We ended up pulling off the autobahn, hauling her out and doing that "If I have to get you out again I am leaving you here, OK?. I am not kidding." It was really nice to see my friends whom I love, but you do think sometimes - "What does it take?". We had a massive snowball fight, the kids went sledging, they went to a Christmas market and round and round on a gilt-painted carousel, the boys were bought tickets to a big football match, our friend's daughter has a WII which they played on, and oh yes, our visit happened to coincide with St Nicolaus day which meant they left out their shoes and in the morning "St Nicolaus" had mysteriously filled them with sweeties and toys. On the other hand, I had night after night of broken sleep courtesy of my daughter's refusal to consider the travel cot, one of those silent rows you have with your husband when you are staying with old friends and can't shout at each other, a missed US radio interview (courtesy of my communication problems and general incompetence) , and a bad cough, sandwiched between journies from hell. We got back last night and Granny rang. She obviously asked my eldest son how was the trip to Germany. "A bit good, a bit bad," he said. She should have asked me.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Alice through the Looking Glass

Am in steamingly bad mood:
a. snapped glasses. This required trip to nearest city (one hour away). That would be inconvenient but OK; I did, however, have tonnes I should have been doing, bearing in mind we are all going to Germany tomorrow to visit a friend - providing, of course, I can find everybody's passports tonight.
b. decided to "make the best of it " and drove down to said city listening to my German CD, (can now count to 10 and say "I am from Wales".)
c. spent 40 minutes getting lost and trying and failing to park. Forced to invent own German curse words as yet to reach that section in course.
d. parked.
e. bought new glasses (at huge expense. Realised will now have to "hand-craft" Xmas gifts for anyone who is not a blood relation.)
f. drove one hour back (part of journey through darkness and freezing rain and snow.)
g. realised gauge judging miles left in petrol tank flitting between 115 and 31 (not-to-be-trusted) and filled car with petrol.
h. arrived home with new glasses.
Me to husband: "Do you like my new glasses? Do you think they make me look like a librarian?" Husband to me: "That, or Eric Morcambe."
Me to husband: "***** off. No, I mean it. Go away."