MY introduction to blogging, the new, geeky hobby for 2006 will be the round robin from Christmas just past, scribed December 22nd 2005:
Couple or three years ago I decided not to send Christmas cards any more – I would donate to a worthy charity (Usually the Guardian/Observer Christmas appeal) and promised myself everyone (friends and family) would receive a letter to keep in touch and send my virtual hugs. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and it just didn’t happen!
I donated to charity but never got around to starting the missive – or rather finishing it – I definitely started it last year. So this year, I have sat myself down and given myself a good talking and yer tiz – the annual missive a few years late, dot dot dot.
Yesterday I was full of cold, tickly cough, hawking up green phlegm, and I came home from work to find my lovely chrimble tree lying sprawled in the fire place, with decorations demolished and lights askew, all tree chocolates gone, and a half a mature stilton eaten. Dogs looking very guilty with bulging stomachs. I chased Syd off the premises and had to go and look for him 15 mins. later. I feel better today. Tree is replenished and back in its rightful place. Dogs (two chocolate labradors aka eating machines aka Tilly the mother dog, and Sydney, her son) are in my good books again.
The days meander on in a comforting sort of rhythm – get up, empty dishwasher, feed chickens, walk dogs, go to work, come home, sometimes cook tea, slump in front of good trashy novel or similarly trashy TV, or even trashy computer, load dishwasher and go to bed. There are, of course, variations on a theme: paint something, knit something, go paddling, hashing, check emails, shopping, housework in endless dreary repetitions of hoovering, laundry, composting and recycling and cleaning the loo . Zoom, and there’s another year gone by. But there are occasional highlights!
This year nothing much happened until end of June when I went to Eire to house sit, boysit, dogsit and catsit for my sister, Jane, whilst she went gallivanting off to Africa again (why? because I love her).
WHAT an interesting fortnight. I was a tad disappointed that Jane hadn’t written a complete list of instructions for the house, let alone what to do with the three foster boys she cares for: Clive, age 13yrs going on 7, Jim, 11yrs and Jason, nrly 6yrs (names have been changed to protect the guilty). When I harassed her to recite a list so I could note it down, she gave me the boys’ routine when they’re at school – of course, they finished school that week so it was all out of the window and ‘make it up’ time. I’ll tell you what happened in the first few days which set the tone for the rest of the fortnight… Friday, I arrived, and Jessie my sister's German Short Haired Pointer dog ate the chocolate I’d bought for everyone to share. She therefore had an upset stomach (bleurgh!). Jessie, Tilly and Syd
Saturday started off OK – Honeymoon period! Everyone did their jobs, so we all got our pocketmoney – and spent it all equally quickly when we all went shopping to Kilkenny.
We all went to cinema later – me and Jim and Jason (in his pyjamas for quick transfer to bed) saw ‘’Batman’ (Jason fell asleep half way through which was a ‘jolly good thing’ as the ending was not suitable for little boys – gave me the willies anyway. Audrey (Jane’s au pair and a lifesaver) and Clive went to see “Mr and Mrs Smith’ and thought it was great.
Sunday – the fun began! The dogs had poohed everywhere, all over the house – not clear which one, but no doubt still due to stolen chocolate. Hurling game that Clive supposed to play at was cancelled. Transpires Clive has given up scouts (has he, hasn’t he?) so didn’t join Jim who went off for a day of rafting in Thomastown. Jason appears with ‘chewing gum’ which (mentally checks Jane’s instructions) they are NOT ALLOWED, so I remove much to Jason’s disgust. Apparently it was ‘given’ to him by next door neighbour. Lovely day (little do I know that this is LAST lovely day weatherwise!) so we pack up a picnic and go to Slate Quarries:
Photo opposite is Jason at the Slate Quarries!
Dogs at Slate Quarries:
Clive entertaining dogs at Slate Quarries:
It was a lovely afternoon.
WE had to collect Jim from rafting by 1500hrs – not realizing that Irish time is not the same as English time and is much vaguer, we agreed that Clive could stay at home with his mate Eioan for half an hour. We were gone 2 hours As Jim was expected to help clear up, (see statement re Irish time).
Jim at the scouting event.
When we get home, all seems well until Jason is caught by Audrey trying to hide a hammer. There is an alarm going off next door – Audrey and I go to investigate. The house seems intact, but there is a smashed glass door on the caravan outside. There are also hammer marks on the house door, and the door to a car is left open with the glove compartment door open with empty chewing gum wrappers all over the front seat. This does not look good for Jason. Jason denies all. I feel we have to call Gardai in view of alarm and smashed window – just in case there is other damage, or there is an intruder. Garda comes to visit and is very gentle and polite– Jason confesses to chewing gum, but not anything else. I am now very suspicious of older boys but can’t prove anything. Jason does apologise to Maire (next door neighbour) after much encouragement. Later Jason packs his bag to leave home. He stays for supper, again with much encouragement and has three bed time stories. He then throws the biggest tantrum going. I think it’s all too much for him – Mammy is gone, and stranger taking her place who called the police on him... I am metamorphosing into a wicked stepmother, when all I wanted to be was kindly aunty. Clive starts off in his own bed, but next morning I find him asleep on sofa in front of telly, Jim does all the chores.
Monday: all boys went to school for last time. Audrey and I had a lovely morning painting (the weather starting to turn dreary and wet). Jim and Clive are asked to play in an under16s hurling match after school – they are keen, but it turns out later (when Jane returns to enlighten me) that they are really too young (normally play in under 14s) and the trainer was taking advantage of my ignorance. They don’t get back home until 2200hrs. Jason has another tantrum at bedtime. Unbeknownst to me, Clive stays up all night again, watching TV as he 'couldn’t sleep'.
Tuesday: I went to Cork to fetch my old pal, Sandra. Little does she know what she is letting herself in for. Audrey sends Clive to school – but it transpires there is no school and he spends the day getting into egg fights etc and I am summonsed to Ballyhale to collect him early. Jason has a tantrum about putting on his seatbelt – but is better that night.
Wed. Sandra and I went for a walk in Kells, along the river to the Priory. We bought some new bedtime stories in a bookshop (Lemony Snicket rules!).
Jason then has biggest tantrum ever – banging his head on the wall and inconsolable, despite hugs. I come closest to despair I have been yet. Meanwhile Jessie has managed to escape, in all the furore, and is out chasing sheep, coming home with blood all over her.
(Jason, Sandra and Audrey make purple fairy cakes)
Audrey and I go out
hunting at 9.30pm to find two sheep in another field next door to the one they should be in; one is limping but otherwise all present and alive (phew). Jason finally falls asleep after Audrey calms him.
Thursday, All the boys are now on holiday so we pack up a picnic and go off to Mahon Falls. This was the best day of the fortnight – the rain stayed away although it got a bit damp later in the day, and we walked a good 4-5 km over rough moorland without any complaints from anyone.
I feel I should summarise the rest – the weather got worse, overcast if not raining most days – not so good for July, but particularly galling, as when I got home there had been a heatwave in Devon for the previous week.
We did some lovely things together – Went to see the Tall Ships in Waterford, went to the beach in a storm and got blown along the sand in gale force winds! Sandra stayed for the full week, which was much appreciated. I’m not sure I’d have survived without Sandra and Audrey’s support! The boys were Ok most of the time – the tantrums lessened as the second week wore on. I really felt like I’d ‘failed’. The boys weren’t used to such a loose regime and certainly didn’t know me well enough I don’t think. I probably would do it again – but would go away camping – keep them all exhausted and on foreign territory. This picture is of them all working on a welcome home mammy poster!
My real holiday came in August when I went to the Big Green Gathering in Cheddar, and followed it with a solitary walk along the West Devon Way – strolling from Tavistock to Plymouth for three days, camping under the stars - just me and the dogs. The weather was fabulous (or it was until the end when it started raining just as I got into Plymouth! – good excuse for a pint), the views stupendous. I’d like to do a long walk again in 2006 – maybe the two moors way – coast to coast. Should be possible in a week.
I’ve also been involved in another new geeky hobby (last year's - I aim to start at least one geeky hobby EVERY year): bookcrossing!
See my bookshelves (below) for more information. Let me know if there’s any books you fancy and I’ll send ‘em on to you!
What of the rest of the family???
Dear son, Seth turned 18yrs in October and has left home (he’s been gone about a fortnight now) and is now living with his mate, Oak, in a HUGE house in Exeter. They have a 5 bedroom, 3 storey house for £500 a month, but only until September 2006. Seth’s new bedroom is bigger than our ground floor!
He left school last June, and had a very dossy summer but then started working for 'Marks and Spencer' in September and loves it. He hopes to do a 'bouncer' course in January so he can earn lots of dosh in the evenings to save so's he can go travelling toward the end of 2006. He’s got a lovely girlfriend called Hannah (blonde dreadlocks, leggy, hmm)– she was more excited about Seth’s new home than he was! They are both being very sensible – Hannah plans to move into a shared house with two girlfriends next September and is hoping to do fine art at Uni. Seth wants to travel and study more Ninjutsu* in Japan before going on to see the world.
I’m very aware that there hasn’t been much mention of my DH Steve in this missive – he wisely stayed away from Ireland when I went to house/boy sit and had a lovely dogless time at home. He also is not into festivals of any type so stayed at home then too!
Steve has got a new job picture framing for another ‘Bate’ in Exeter – more money, more job satisfaction than the job in Newton Abbot.
It’s very strange, just the two of us at home – no taxiing Seth around.
I’ll finish off with this *Politically-correct Christmas greeting* courtesy of the bookcrossing yahoo group…
Please accept with no obligation, implicit or explicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practised within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion or secular practices of your choice, with total respect for the
religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, and their choice not to practise religious or secular traditions at all... and a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2006, but not without due
respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make Britain great (not to imply that Britain is necessarily greater than any other country nor is it the only "BRITAIN" in the northern hemisphere), and without regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, sexual orientation and choice of computer platform of the wishee.
By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wishee actually to implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.
Hope you all have a lovely time in the holiday - I’ve got the whole of next week off (unheard of!).
*Amazing that me painting his face as a ninja turtle when he was little should have had such a long lasting impact!?