Posted June 23rd, 2013 by Lisa. Comments (2).

I’ve sometimes thought about going on silent retreat. Often in a serious way as I do find the idea very appealing, but sometimes in a needing-a-break way because my children talk an awful lot. About Moshi Monsters and Horrid Henry and sports day and minecraft and what will we do at the weekend.
Last week, with husband away, beyond good morning and good afternoon at the school gates, I didn’t have a proper real-life conversation with another adult between Tuesday and Saturday. (Thank goodness for the online friends I type at every day: is this the modern replacement for valium?) By Saturday I had forgotten how conversations go and just blurted out random thoughts to the friends who had very kindly cooked me dinner. I was driving and sober but gibbering like a lunatic: unable to talk in a straight line but needing to get it all out now.

Muck and brass

Posted October 17th, 2012 by Lisa. Comments (2).

The best reason I can see, apart from sloth and slatternliness, not to have too tidy a house is that it turns you into a raving obsessive.

After the hell and chaos of a full-on redecorate of our sitting room (including an unscheduled entire new ceiling, as when we removed the nasty polystyrene coving it became apparent that it had been installed to hide the fact that the ceiling was an inch smaller than the actual room, all the way around; and replastering all the walls) which necessitated the middle weirdy living room with no name becoming a repository for all our STUFF, organising became a priority this week. For reasons of both hygiene and mental health. Husband is absent (in China this week, all presidential suites and press conferences) so I have been going at it hell for leather. Or as hell for leather as one can be whilst looking after small children (feeding clothing entertaining feeding (what, again?) putting to bed chauffeuring to random activities etc etc) and completing 7 hours of the most revolting paid work I have seen in some years. I know 7 hours doesn’t sound like much but it was akin to poking one’s eyes with pins, and fitting that around feeding clothing feeding entertaining…etc. I am proud to say cbeebies only covered me for 15 minutes of that 7 hours.

As a result of which I have four rooms, constituting the main public display areas of our house, looking shipshape. Not that any of our house is on display, and those visitors we do have have a distressing penchant for going to the loo which involves a (hazardous) walk through the study, which is not one of the four nice rooms. However, I am going nuts. I mopped the hall floor yesterday but found myself today tutting at the coating of dust it has already accumulated, and considering getting the bucket back out. (I didn’t, don’t be daft. I am still me.) I got Very Cross with the children mucking about with the rug in the sitting room because they were flapping dust and I had swept in there. I got the dustpan out three times in the space of Strictly. There is a pile of magazines on the coffee table in the weird nameless room, and they are troubling me for their homelessness. (My whole family has a magazine habit. They also have hoarding issues: this is not a good combination. We do not need an Archive. We especially do not need an Archive that has nowhere to live but on my nice freshly waxed (oh yes!) coffee table.)

I have always wondered how some women drop their children at school then spend the entire day cleaning. How can they make so much mess? I thought. Surely no house needs to be vacuumed every day? But I can see it. I can understand why: once it is immaculate it takes lots of work to keep it so. I don’t have the stamina to do it myself, but I can sort of see why they might.

Give me a day, and with three small children, two kittens and my parents due to visit (shoes! newspapers! puzzle books with associated pencils! sudoku!) we will be back to normal. Dusty and relaxed. Which is slightly a shame: I am enjoying the show home.

Notes from a 2 year old

Posted October 4th, 2012 by Lisa. Comment (1).

why are there bushes?

why do trees have flowers?

why do cats have bums?

why don’t pandas wear pants?

how old are cows?

why is my bottom pink?

can we climb up there and go to the moon? oh. Is that bird going to eat the moon?

sing baa baa sheep sheep! Do it mummy! Do it! Sing it now!


October Daybook (I am a bit simple)

Posted October 2nd, 2012 by Lisa. Comment (0).


(On a completely random day, not selected for interest in any way. Sadly.)

Outside my window…it is very grey and very wet and oddly warm. Just heading towards evening and thinking about getting dark; the cars hiss through the puddles (which, frankly, is a polite name for the oceans of water running down my road) with their lights on.

I am thinking...that I would really rather not go out there again.

I am thankful…that my often-absent husband cancelled this week’s trip, because this and next month was and will be insane.

In the kitchen…ready meals all round tonight! I had the idea that I would make a pie, properly and from scratch. Only when I was running around town this afternoon, dashing from shop to shop with a list and a purpose (and still I forgot the toothpaste), while I had a precious three child-free hours, I somehow found myself in M&S and, hey, everybody deserves an evening off.

I am wearing…appallingly holey socks; black “treggings” (eurgh); blue long-sleeved t-shirt; blue and grey stripey jumper. And, after 3 weeks without, my rings and bracelet, back from being repaired at the jeweller and really shiny! It is like being newly engaged with a sparkler.

I am creating…well, I have recently started to re-learn crochet. I have made 2 1/2 slightly wonky granny squares (but granny squares are meant to be wonky, aren’t they) and I went and got the happy hooker from the library today. I also have a set of toddler dungarees on the go, when the house isn’t mid-upheaval and I can get the sewing machine out.

I am going…out tomorrow night! Just for a meal at the pub with some friends, but still, something to look forward to.

I am wondering…whether I can find 5 minutes to stop on my way home tomorrow and photograph an amazing tree I keep driving past. Whether people will point and stare if I do. Whether it matters if they do. Also, unrelatedly, whether there is a product that allows you to matt-blackify a stainless steel flue.

I am reading…the happy hooker (see above); the shrink and the sage; how it all began

I am hoping…that my middle child will obligingly try on the big pile of maybe-too-small clothes I hauled out of her wardrobe today before it is time for her to go to bed.

I am looking forward to…a lovely bath this evening; I also managed to nip into Lush on my round-town route march.

I am crochet, after a fashion. To art-journal, after even more of a fashion. I am enrolled on to this season’s inside out course and joining in in snatched moments and late evenings when I am home alone.

Around the house...the sitting room is nearly finished: the floor needs polishing and sealing, the speakers re-installing, some furniture put back in and curtains chosen. Pictures up, that sort of thing. It is F&B blazer, which is RED (with a hint of coral), and I love it. Elsewhere, the house is chaos.

I am pondering…television, the excessive watching of. Ours has been reinstalled today (by special request of husband, who neeeeeeeeeeds to watch a football match tonight. This is not unconnected with my visit to Lush earlier.) and I am hoping we can resist its call and find some happy medium.

A favorite quote for today…life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain. Literally apt this week.

One of my favorite walking through leaves in Autumn. I wonder if it will stop raining long enough for them to go crunch sniff rather than squelch yuk?

A few plans for the rest of the week: Tomorrow, purchase a curtain pole, swimming with the youngest girl, parents’ evening for the big ones. Thursday, gym and food shopping. Friday no plans yet and hope to keep it that way, though I did spot a rather nice scarf while shopping for readymeals in M&S today, and didn’t have time to queue…so a wee trip over there might be in order. And I must put some thought to daughter 2′s birthday party.



Posted September 26th, 2012 by Lisa. Comment (0).

I made bread yesterday! Here it is:


I used to make all our bread but well, life got in the way. We moved house, leaving behind my beloved Neff oven with bread-proving function. (It also had a self-clean thingummy and a lovely shiny inside and was big enough to cook a whole salmon.) Our new oven should hang its head in shame by comparison: it does hot or off and is minute. And is down by the floor so you have to crawl about to get things in and out and shriek at children and cats if they approach when it is open. Also, our village now has a weekly market, which is rather fabulous. Unlike the monthly farmer’s markets that many places have, where you pop along for treaty things, nibble a few lovely olives and buy a bit of random cheese, we can actually use it as a weekly shop. Not exclusively of course: it is very artisan and one does still need things like loo roll and tinned tuna. But the bread is exceptional so no need to make it myself.

Then we went away this weekend, missing said market, so I decided I’d see if I could still do it. I loved the whole process (I highly recommend the river cottage handbook if anybody fancies a go) and I think it turned out rather well if I do say so myself. It is mainly white with a wee bit of wholemeal, with sunflower seeds inside and honey and sunflower seeds on the top, which is a bit experimental. Tastes good but is kind of sticky (I had the idea the honey might set in the oven and it didn’t really).


Like the olden days

Posted September 25th, 2012 by Lisa. Comment (0).

We have been television-free* for a week now. Not from any lofty ideals – I do secretly have low-key ideals in that direction but then there is The Killing and a husband who, while often absent, is sport mad, and, well, Sunday mornings without cbeebies just start too damn early – but because we are having our sitting room decorated. We removed the nasty textured wallpaper to uncover walls that needed replastering rather than the quick paint job we had hoped for. Of course you have another one the decorator said. Nope.

It hasn’t been as bad as I expected: the children have come home from school and set-to with craft projects, and there is always the computer and the ubiquitous moshi monsters if we are desperate. We have been playing scrabble in the evenings (on the ipad, obviously, boards and tiles are just so last century. Although it is slightly erratic with regard to proper nouns). We did use the computer last night to watch often-absent husband’s starring talking-heads role on some chinese TV programme about the history of the automobile. Yes, really. 10 years earlier he might have been on grumpy old men or reminiscing about 1985. He is properly absent this week and I have such plans for creative evenings (though I suspect they might pass in a blur of songpop, facebook and a nice hot bath – the other downside to being replastered is the house is bloody freezing).

*Or television-less, depending on one’s perspective.


Posted September 18th, 2012 by Lisa. Comments (2).

Well, it seems that the reason my blog died, apart from the aforementioned audience issues and a general lack of things to write about beyond the baby smiled/cried/slept/didn’t sleep and what we were having for tea, was that I have no bloody time to write it. Right now I have precisely 6 minutes before I have to leap in the car and rescue the last-born from preschool (tears at going-in time again, right until she sat down, found a toy and said bye mummy). We will then come home for half an hour before it is time to collect numbers 1 and 2 from school, where they have stayed for “film club”. I don’t generally encourage film club (it is much as it sounds with a dvd for an hour) but this term with other commitments it was that or Bible studies so what were we to do.

Six minutes is loads! Loads! Although actually if I went and put the shopping away, as I probably ought, it would be more like 2 minutes. Which is plenty of time to type inaccurately what I want to type, but sadly not enough time to muster my thoughts and decide what that is. Mentally of course I used this precious home-alone time to prepare a nutritious meal in order to spend quality time with my offspring on their return. It never quite comes off.

We are having the sitting room decorated. Our decorator is a very nice chap, a real village stalwart (he has 8 children! So is related to most of the inhabitants), but I do find it difficult having people in the house. I am quite good at remembering the cup of tea two sugars every hour and a half but I feel a need to appear busy and productive at all times, which is frankly exhausting.


Posted September 13th, 2012 by Lisa. Comments (4).

I am feeling irked this evening. Only mildly and I suspect a nice big glass of pinot at the pub this evening will see me right, but if a blog ain’t for moaning on, what is it for?

We had some quite annoying visitors last weekend. Yes they were my inlaws, however did you guess? Lots of subtle irritations but I have been schooling myself not to obsess – I have a tendency to replay things over and over and have been practicing I do not need to think this thought. Then, today is all nice and autumnal so I made a chicken pie and was wondering what to have after it. Baked apples! I thought. Since I just bought some English eating apples at the farm shop today – I have to produce an enormous crumble next weekend but they didn’t have any cookers so I bought the eaters as an experiment to see if they would do instead or will I have to go and see Mr Tesco – and I thought I might stuff them with pine nuts and the figs that miraculously ripened in our back garden! In the north of England! Even though we have barely seen a glimmer of sunlight this summer! And the end of the lovely Greek honey that my parents brought me back from their holiday. Except the honey isn’t there.

I did know they had been through my cupboards in order to provide themselves with a breakfast feast. And this is basically fine: I don’t really do breakfast beyond stuffing a bit of marmite on toast into my mouth as I empty the dishwasher in the morning – and I know it would be the nice hostly thing to lay the table with linen and put out toast rack and boil eggs and all that jazz but frankly when they are here I put a huge effort into feeding them lovely lunches and dinners and come 8 am they just have to fend for themselves. (They were here for 6 days, I am not a saint. And the dishwasher does not empty itself.) But when you finish something don’t you usually say so, so your host doesn’t find herself honeyless at a critical juncture?

It wasn’t a disaster. I have the sort of cupboard that provides two other types of honey in an emergency. The apples (Old Windsor) exploded a bit and are not quite tart enough to make crumble.

apple tree

Blog 2

Posted September 12th, 2012 by Lisa. Comments (6).

This time, it’s anonymous.

Not my second blog actually: I make this my third proper one and I dare not count how many minor side interest ones have withered and died over the years. Regardless, those were set up for particular purposes which required me to be open about them in real life. Which was all well and good when I remembered that and stuck to the subject (but oh I do like to witter); and also worked fine until we moved to a small village. One of those villages you still get around the edges of our country where half the population is related and the other half regarded with suspicion. Where people won’t move to the next village, 3 miles away, because it is too far and I will miss my mum. Never talk about anybody without first searching the room, else their mother-in-law’s neighbour’s niece will be standing behind you, scowling.

I soon realised that an open blog was just a bit, well, open. I’d be merrily yomping up to the school in the mornings only to be stopped by somebody who wanted to know why, exactly, I would sprout seeds on my windowsill (during a hippy phase) or who wanted to say something nice about my photographs. It was mostly nice things that were said (presumably those who had other things to say remembered to search the room) but it was a bit too intimate. Uncomfortable. And meant that people knew my news without me having to tell them, which led to awkward silences at the bus stop. And, worst of all, my mum read it.

baby orangutan


New school year…

Posted September 11th, 2012 by Lisa. Comment (0).

…new blog. After a good couple of years in the wilderness I find myself drawn back. But oh! how things have changed. Everybody blogs these days and, I think, nobody reads them, and there are genres. There didn’t used to be genres. I am pretty sure nobody is going to sponsor me, and I am a mummy but not a Mommy so I can’t be a mommy-blogger (I am also no mompreneur, which is surely the most repulsive neology yet this century). I’m going to witter.

September is a good time to start. Who wants to begin a new beginning in damp chilly January? New pencil case; new shoes; new projects.  Resolutions. Some more achievable, like get the children to school on time and get off facebook and run, than others (get up early and meditate/drink less wine/tidy up more). We will see.

We lurk in the shadowy borderlands between England and Wales. On the English side but only just: half a mile down the road the roadsigns swap over. This (the proximity to Wales, not the roadsigns) provides lots of rain and ruined castles. It is semi-semi-rural, with a decent bus service to a decent-sized town (which is generally chock-full of tourists) but no actual shops here and decent views (and aromas) of farmland. “We” being me, my often-absent husband* and our three girls. Two at school: one still all mine. I stay home where I am a slave to the dishwasher and generally fail to keep things tidy. By “stay home” I mean I am not in gainful employment, at least not on any sort of formal or regular fashion. Not that I am not allowed out.


OK so I have no idea what I am going to write about yet. It will evolve, or not. I might share a few old photos and what have you though – see, there’s one up there.

*His mother says “poor dear, he works so hard”. We say “huh”.