Monday, August 31, 2020

Home, it walks and hearing voices.

1. Grampy brings the children home.

2. The spider robot Alec and I have just built doesn't walk. During supper, I realise why. With a bit more tinkering, it's soon stepping around the kitchen.

3. I've found our current read difficult to get into -- the story is exciting, and the characters engaging but I can't 'hear' the voices. So the accents wander, which is confusing for everyone. But suddenly this evening I hear one character speak, and then another.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Packing, cake and nickelodeon.

1. Alec doing his own packing to go to Granny and Grandpa's. He appears to be planning on a long stay, judging by the amount of clothing he is taking.

2. There just happens to be a slice of cake at coffee time.

3. Carradine's Cockney sing-along is an outside broadcast this evening, from Piano Pavilion, Westcliff-on-Sea. To open he sings along to a nickelodeon, which just seems like magic.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Fielding, tennis ball and return the favour.

1. Last cricket session of the season. Bettany chasing a ball outruns one of the boys and remembers to throw the ball back, rather than carrying it.

2. A toddler running after a tennis ball turns to look at me, checking whether I am watching her pick it up.

3. A football rolls towards us down the side road we are walking up. I return the Dutch woman's favour by stopping it and dribbling it back the way it has come until we see a little boy jogging to meet us.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Half hour, indoors and salt.

1. To take half an hour off and play Lego Marvel Superheroes with Alec. We don't have a specific quest in mind, instead preferring to run around the city throwing cars at each other.

2. The trees are thrashing in an August storm and we are indoors.

3. Salt crystals scattered across a tray of roasted new potatoes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Horse, park and umbrella.

1. A godmother brings Bettany the hobby horse she has wanted for a long time. The look of genuine joy on my child's face. And also, later: the horse joins us at supper, eating a few wooden vegetables; Bettany dressed in her sheriff outfit clopping downstairs to tell Nick that 'this town ain't big enough for the both of us'; and finding her asleep in bed cuddled up next to the horse.

2. It's wonderful just to enjoy time with our friends, sitting sprawled in the park.

3. I do offer him a dignified umbrella -- but he and his children think that borrowing Bett's pink princess brolly would be more funny.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Not a race, abundantly available and pesto.

1. Bettany asks me to go to Nana's round by the main road while the Nick and Alec go across the estate. She pretends we're not racing them, but secretly we are -- and we win.

2. To point out to your children that there is no need for them to fight over an abundantly available resource -- in this case, acorns.

3. For dinner we have one of those recipes featuring ingredients that the children wouldn't usually touch with a bargepole -- watercress, anchovies and capers whizzed into a pesto. It is eaten with a lot of enthusiasm.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Spanner, football and request.

1. Grandpa brandishes the spanner he has brought to take the front wheel off Alec's bike for easier loading.

2. While we are unloading the car, the football rolls out of the boot and down the hill. I have to chase after it in my slippers. There is absolutely no hope of my catching it before it rolls into the High Street at the bottom, though. Luckily, a kind lady in big boots is game enough to stand in its way and catch it. It is all a bit absurd, and we share a moment of laughter. 

3. To Alec's unalloyed delight, Tom Carradine sings his requested song, 'I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair' from South Pacific.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Rain, what I wanted and fight.

1. Feeling spits and spots of rain on my arms. I am drenched by the time I get home. Being out in the rain comes with a whole bundle of experiences, from cold stinging dots to the water trickling down my neck to the sounds of falling water. I am grateful that I don't have to include 'anxiety about arriving at work soaking wet' to that list.

2. One of my clients has need of me again and we've got a meeting towards the end of the afternoon. I used to know how to use their conferencing system; but my skills have dried up. I have an anxious play to see if I can make it work. Then my 'handler' calls me to check that I know how to get in. He apologises for micromanaging -- but it's exactly what I wanted at this moment.

3. To start reading a new book with the children. Inevitably they fight over who gets to sit next to me, so I point out that whoever sits on the floor by my feet can make a nest of blankets and cushions. They fight over that, too.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Re-heated pizza, a couple of hours and delivery.

1. We have re-heated pizza for lunch.

2. I have the children for a couple of hours this afternoon. I sit with them putting icing and sprinkles on little cakes. Then I play a video game with Alec. And then I start Bettany off making another gymnast.

3. Bettany (wearing her new school shoes) and I slip out into the summer evening to deliver some cakes.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Cones, acrobat and jasmine.

1. Nana makes us ice cream cones to eat on the way home. She is determined to get the ice cream right to the bottom of the cone.

2. Bettany and I use a craft kit to build a little acrobat who flips over on a twisted string when you squeeze two rods. She is very pleased with herself and says that 'Gymnast Judy' is her favourite toy in the whole house.

3. Nick has taken over making supper so I spend the time cutting back some jasmine shoots to maintain a human-sized width in the narrow space outside our back door. I don't like the sticky sap on my hands, but I do like the heavy perfume and the improved space.


Saturday, August 15, 2020

Cool morning, check-in and dinner.

1. A cool, grey, misty morning. On my walk I snatch a couple of blackberries that are very sweet from all the sunny days we've had.

2. To get a check-in call from a client who has some good personal news to share; and we make some reassuring adjustments to my work. 

3. We are having a delivery from Bhaji Bhaji for grown-up supper and it's coming a little late, so I feed the children early, imagining they will watch a bit of telly while we eat in peace. But they thank me politely for the 'very nice starter' and then join us at the table for railway chicken, chaat and bhajis intended for two.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Bike, beach and waiting it out.

 1. A passenger on the train waiting at the other platform spots Alec's bike and explains with gestures that we should look out for the carriages with red markings as these have bike spaces.

2. The children, streaked with sand and mud, running and shrieking on the beach, collecting shells and dead crabs. 

3. The five of us huddling under one big umbrella while we wait for the rainstorm to pass. A lot of people hurry past us on their way back to the car park and we know that if we only wait, we'll have the beach to ourselves.

3a. Bettany finds two bright, newly painted pebble ladybirds on fence posts. I wonder if they are the work of the sturdy blonde teenage girl who pedaled past us in such a determined way five minutes ago.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Park, new soap and diligence.

1. The park is so quiet and clean and cool this early in the morning.

2. To pull a new bar of soap out of the dark blue tissue paper packet.

3. It takes a long time to settle the children and we go to bed rather late. I'm so tired that I'm tempted to forget about my physio -- but I do them anyway. It's perfunctory; but it's done.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Help, watching for Nick and gaming.

1. ...and when I turned round the children had put the sofa bed away without being asked.

2. We look down the street to see if we can spot Nick. Alec says he always looks for his hat, and I look for the way he walks.

3. I treated myself to a game on the children's Xbox, but got a bit frustrated that it didn't seem to be the lush fantasy world I remembered. I found myself scrabbling around underground being chased by angry rats while goblins shot at me and old men told me to go here and fetch that. It's too hot to sleep, so I crank it up. And within a few minutes I've emerged from the sewers to a vista of wild mountains and fields of flowers under a huge sky.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Home working, ice lolly and filthy.

1. Even this early in the day it is uncomfortably warm for walking. I am so grateful that I am returning home to work and that I can overheat in peace without worrying about professional appearances.

2. To remember that ice lollies came with the grocery delivery.

3. Nick brings the children home filthy, hot and tired from playing on a friend's waterslide.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Drink, flow and chalk.

1. A long drink of cold water in Nana's kitchen. She has taken over the naming of the children's clothes before school starts again. 

2. Even in this hottest part of summer the spring at Brighton Lake is still flowing. We poke dead leaves and sticks out of the gully until the water runs freely again.

3. Bettany has chalked encouraging words on the brick pavement in front of our house.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

Escape, picnics and together.

1. Early in the day, before I start work I escape on my own and walk round and round the park with Zombies Run (no running for me until my back is better). An hour later, I get an email about how important it is to build a 'commute' into your day when you work at home.

2. Bettany has set up little picnics with her toy food all around the house. We keep finding them after she has gone to bed. 

3. When I check on the children last thing at night they are cuddled up together in one bed.

Friday, August 07, 2020

Catch-up, edge and ahead.

1. On a hot afternoon to have a chat and a catch-up in the shade.

2. To stare up at the places where the edges of an oak tree's canopy meet the sky.

3. Alec rides a little ahead of us down the path in shadow splashed and speckled with with sunlight.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Sky, amble and muttering.

1. To look up at a mare's tail sky. 

2. To amble home with friends.

3. Bettany muttering dark plans for vengeance against the boys who made the roundabout go faster than she liked.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Deliveries, help and less to do.

1. It's a day of small parcels.

2. Bettany stamping around in her pyjamas and pink wellies as she helps with the watering.

3. Unexpectedly my physio app has just a single exercise for me tonight, rather than the usual ten.

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Feeding, moment and jigsaw.

1. The sparrows are still feeding their babies in the elder tree. It's now difficult to tell the adults from the juveniles until one bird starts popping food into another's beak.

2. Biting a nectarine that has been ripening in the fruit bowl and is now, this moment, perfectly ripe.

3. Alec rushes thrrough his shower because he wants to do a jigsaw with me. 

Monday, August 03, 2020

Ice creams, unseen and cuddle.

1. The children eating ice creams that they have bought with their own money.

2. On the surface of the pond are mysterious dimples and ripples as if things are happening under the surface and in the air that I cannot see.

3. At bedtime, everyone is a bit tired and cross. First Alec comes to sit on my lap for a calm-down cuddle, and then Bettany. She dozes, getting heavier and heavier.