Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The Magic Circle

On Sunday we indulged our love of things magical in Wiltshire.  This involved an hour and a half drive, accompanied by not a little dissent from the children, particularly when we tried to describe why we were going. 

Saturday, 28 December 2013


Laurie Penny posted a beautiful piece this morning in The New Statesman about her father dying and how it’s affected her relationship with the written word, and this struck such a chord.  When dad died, I was writing at the time in the form of a diary of my pregnancy with Katie, which kind of inadvertently became a chronicle about the process of dying. 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Poetry and Vine on Dylan's Birthday

I’m Welsh.  It’s something I forget about most of the time, but then something reminds you that it’s a part of your soul and no matter how long you live in another country is as natural as breathing.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Talking and Speech Therapy

One half-term in, and the blogging has been one of many casualties.  Teaching this term has turned out to be unexpected in all kinds of ways.  But that’s for another day.  The first half-term in a school year always brings changes and adjustments.  So, where to start with this one …?

Monday, 2 September 2013

Dog Days of Summer

Every year, without fail, come the end of summer I feel maudlin.  No more unstructured days together, shared jokes, and easiness in each other’s company. 

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Harry Potter Studio Tours

We didn’t make any holiday plans this year because of the precarious job situation, and also because we’re nominally in the process of decorating the kids’ rooms – one of the most self-defeating tasks in the world with a two-year old about, in case you were wondering. 

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Potty Training, Mark III

It is fair to say that potty-training is my least favourite part of babydom.  Give me sleepless nights any time, at least there is the charade of it being character-building and Dunkirk-spirit to get you through. 

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Mind the Gap

I haven’t been in a very blogging kind of place recently.  My job’s ending, which seems to involve wall-to-wall conflicting deadlines. 
Added to that the summer holidays has the magical effect of both dropping my productivity down to zero and ensuring the house remains a cesspit (sometimes quite literally, as we are existing in the purgatory of potty training). 

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Saying goodbye

Three years ago my father died and I wrote this.  Today it was possible to read it again.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

A Harry Potter Party for Harry!

First things first. If you’re looking for tips on how to run a professional-ish Harry Potter party – of which I’ve seen some fairly jaw-dropping examples on the internet over the past few weeks – then this blog is probably not going to be your salvation.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Counting down to redundancy

I got my official redundancy letter yesterday.  After the obligatory half hour crying in the undergraduate toilets (they’ve got exams on, no-one uses them), I pulled myself together and started focusing my energies on WHAT THE HELL I’M GOING TO DO NEXT.  Since my rather broken and stupidly specialised career path has meant that there are now about 3 jobs in the UK that I could realistically do, this a task somewhat less satisfying than banging one’s head repeatedly against a brick wall for 6 hours. 

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

74 days later … reflecting on blogging

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the act of blogging.  The sociologist I was trained to be can’t help but reflect upon the meaning of what I’m doing, so as a blogger -if this is now what I’m calling myself - it seems dishonest not to give space to these thoughts.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

A field trip and other Firsts

My eldest has made me inordinately proud this week.  She had her first field trip away from home.  Of course there have been the endless sleepovers, but it’s not really the same sending her to a friend’s house who texts you humorous updates, as being away with 90 other kids and not allowed to phone home.  Charlotte, being Charlotte, was not even mildly fazed at this prospect – I mean why would you be??  It’s freedom after all!

Friday, 3 May 2013

The Great British Watertable

I have just spent 2 hours washing the various paraphernalia associated with Katie’s water table.  This is very clearly one of the poorest uses of a spring afternoon ever.  If any person, anywhere in the world, was thinking of purchasing a water table for their toddler I would strongly advice against it.  It was bought in a sudden bout of guilt that Katie did not have enough age-appropriate toys. 

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Shifting sands

Life seems to be in flux at the moment.  It’s exciting but also shaky, and I feel like I’m running to stand still.  Katie has started pre-school, and swings violently between complete acceptance and wild refusal.  At 2½, and much younger on it than the other two, she seems like a little fledgling pushed out of its nest.  She was born right at the very end of August and it shows. 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

New Cross House, Cranks and Dartington

The last day of our holiday, and banking on a break from the drizzle we opted for one of our favourite places – Dartington.  But just to get a bit of National Trust value in, we started with High Cross House, which we’ve never visited before, despite being on the Dartington estate.  You can’t exactly miss it, this big modernist house on the main road, but I’d always assumed it was a private house until I was scouring my NT guidebook. 


On Day 1 of our holiday in Dartmouth, and buoyed-up by the success of the previous week’s National Trust fest, and facilitated by the Google Keep app which my 7yo introduced to me (list-making writ-large on your mobile … colour coding & everything!), I compiled a list of possible days out. 

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Riverford and a Dartmoor Tor

We booked into Riverford for lunch early on in our holiday.  We’ve been twice before and are totally converted to their food.  Even simple dishes like mashed potatoes are somehow works of art (and believe me, I’ve experimented many, many times to inject some variation into mash!).  And vegetables I’ve never been keen on – like fennel or beetroot – are somehow magically transformed. 

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

My father and Thatcher

Dear Dad
This week Thatcher died and was buried, a fact that would have had little emotional resonance for you.  But you, like no-one else I’ve ever known, would have relished the political discussion it's sparked and all of its subtext.  The media have necessarily made it a time of reflection, but what I reflected on most of all was that you’re missing at times like this: my father who took the opportunity of every mealtime to prick my political conscious.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Coleton Fishacre

By day 4 of our holiday the forecast for the week was rain and more rain. So we developed a strategy of mad dashes out between bouts of drizzle.  In the knowledge that we had a window of dryness just before lunchtime, we put ourselves in the hands of our National Trust guidebook.  Coleton Fishacre is a few miles beyond Kingswear, so we got the car ferry across the Dart.  Unusually I purchased the guide book, slightly pricey at £4.50, but ended up being glad I did as the property has such an interesting and unexpected history.

Coming home from Dartmouth

I always feel that coming home from holiday is an emotional as well as a physical journey, a movement away from that pocket of time when things are different.  I suppose the idea of a holiday is that productive activity is stripped out of life, but the more I think about it, the more the reverse seems to be true.  So much worth remembering takes place.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The man in the road

This is absolutely a self-indulgent post about a dream I had last night, but I wanted to write it down before it gets hazy. I've only dreamt about Dad 5 times since he died (yes, I very much count them).

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Then there was this thing on the telly ...

Something completely different now.  This morning we were watching CBBC, when Harry suddenly got very excited that a girl on the programme had 'a little hand' (like Charlotte).  Harry notices things like this.


Today our National Trust love-in continued, and bolstered by yesterday’s hit-rate we gave another new property a go.  So off to Uppark we went, which is Petersfield way. 


Right, this is going to be a bit of National Trust fest of blogging tonight, because it’s been a bank holiday weekend so naturally we’ve been caning it with our membership card (please believe me that sentence is meant to be read with irony). 

Monday, 25 March 2013

Being a Sap

With total and utter predictability the one night I try and get an early night I can’t sleep, so I shall share my mundane worries with the (anonymous) world.

Tomorrow I have to go to a conference and present a paper about my work.  This involves an overnight stay.  I am a grown-up, this should be no biggie (as Buffy would say).  This is how many ways I could cock up the whole affair.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Mess Monsters

There are many times since having children that I’ve wished – purely in the interests of scientific comparison, you understand – that I had webcam access to other people’s lives.  And with every year that passes I become increasingly convinced that I’m not doing the practicalities of parenting properly. 

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Mission Nap

Well this lunchtime we have been trialling the Battle of Wills © nap-plan.  This has followed a week of Katie quite forcefully insisting that she no longer required a nap. 

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Surprising Science

Today the older two, my mum and I went to the Science & Engineering day at the university:

Harry had originally sounded less than thrilled at the prospect of spending his Saturday in this way, and it’s kind of hard to sell the concept to a 5 year old.  But from the moment that we got there and he clocked that there were coloured footprint trails to follow, he went into excited puppy mode.  Charlotte was a done deal from the outset, the possibility of activities on a non-school day a sheer no-brainer for her.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

A lunch date

The highlight of my day was having lunch with Harry, something they used to do every year when Charlotte was at the school but it’s been the first time I’ve had the chance with H.  I don’t know if they’ve thought of tying these things in with the school’s fundraising efforts, but they should as they are deeply sweet and guaranteed to melt even the most hardened old cynic. 

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Terrifying Tuesdays

Tuesdays are fast becoming my most fraught day of the week.  They are supposed to be a working at home day, but once you’ve had children working at work is very much the substandard option.  It is for good reason that I am always first one in the office on my office days. 

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Pottering with Style(s)

Today is most definitely going to be an unearth-shattering entry, and as I am teeming with hormones it would need to be.  Mother’s Day, which has of course involved some extremely cute cards from H & C.  Harry actually gave me his (a bejewelled windmill!) after school on Friday.  I’m not sure timing is going to be his thing, but he very expertly went through the 29 kisses with me, which is clearly guaranteed to make a grown woman well up.  Charlotte takes these things much more seriously, and carefully explained her thinking to me behind various aspects of the design at 6.30 this morning.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Exits Right and Left

It’s really been a strange day, and this is not at all the direction that I thought this blog would take.  But if I am now indeed to blog then it would be weird not to recount these incidents.

Looking over my shoulder for a beginning

I have just read the most beautiful, inspiring blog (www.edspire.co.uk) and it has convinced me that I have to finally let go of my vanity and get back to writing about my children again.  When I was pregnant with Charlotte I started writing a pregnancy, and then a baby diary, on a baby website.