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Old Roses

My Nan turned 90 today and we had a family gathering to celebrate at the weekend.
The truth is that the old roses are the most beautiful, they simply glow.

These are the flowers that were on the birthday cake that my sister made for her. I couldn’t bear to think of them thrown away with all the other ordinary rubbish, so I snapped them this morning, for posterity.


Quirky Birthday Maths for 2012

My sister, closest in age to me, is now four times older than my eldest daughter.

In twenty years time, the age difference will have halved and my sister will only be twice as old as my eldest daughter. It’s made me wonder what the minimum age multiple would be between them.

Go figure…

May Birthdays

They come thick and fast in the month of maypoles, blossom, bank holidays and, finally, some warmer weather…

A mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, an uncle and a best friend.

Best wishes everyone, grab at least one sunbeam if you can!

The method in the badness (or the tortoise and the hare)

I was thinking about my Grandpa last night and because it was a birthday the memory centred on a set of stationery I bought him when I was about 10 years old. It was what a 10 year old in the seventies, living in Lincolnshire – not renowned as a centre of excellence in stationery, considered a masculine writing set: cream paper with brown stylised trees.

Henceforth my Grandpa would write on a sheet of that very paper to thank me for that gift and each gift thereafter. When he died I expect he still had a few sheets of it left. I expect as I got older I missed a few of his birthdays or Christmas gifts too. That’s the trouble with me, the intention is all there, but the speed at which I seem to live life costs the follow through on intricate tasks like buying things, wrapping things, addressing things and posting things, which need stamps. Which I hardly ever seem to have. Postcodes I hardly ever seem to have either (sorry FW).

I think quickly about ten things at once usually , I write quickly and I work quickly sometimes too. But in all that fast I lose slow, and slow is what you need to do the things I would like to be better at. So thank you all so much for Cassia’s cards and presents. The intention is that she will write cards and thank you herself – let’s see if I can do it! And Mia’s parents please know I thought of her over a fortnight ago and bought a present, but then I forgot all about the next stages because I had plenty of time and I was thinking a thousand other things. Then yesterday I had no sellotape (although I did have wrapping paper) and I had no jiffy bag (although I am sure there are some somewhere here) and I didn’t have the right kind of stamp and I had no time to visit the Post Office, so I have overcome the obstacles of the card posting, but the present wrapping, packing, queuing ones proved insurmountable.

I will therefore hand it over next week. Wherein my father will do the same for my daughter, so perhaps it’s genetic.

Too many thoughts, not enough stamps.

July 16th – some good people born on this day x

Making Whoopie (but no fuss please)

That’s pies, not anything else which would be spelled whoopee in any case. These whoopie pies are straight from those trap-driving Amish people who have funny beards and don’t agree with buttons.

Apparently, and notwithstanding their strait-laced provenance, they are the new cupcakes. The occasion for my contemplating the making thereof is the eldest’s eighth birthday, today. She doesn’t want to be eight, on account of her “legs being too long already” and I don’t want her to be eight either because it means time is flying by quicker than I can credit. She also is concerned that there is no fuss. Presents yes, 32 lollipops for the class – check, a tropical aquarium plus critters to swim in it, friends for tea and a weekend away but a NO cake, low-key birthday thanks. The whoopies are a Mother/Daughter coalition deal, arrived at after I pointed out the no fuss musical candle she had put in the shopping trolley had no home to go to without some kind of celebratory confection…

Anyhow, she shares her birthday with that of Joe Louis, the boxer, and one of our favourite teachers at school who is retiring this year and teaches the youngest. You’re in good company our kid.

Happy Birthday!

Hundred Acre Wood looks like this…


Loo with a View

…in case you were wondering!

The actual turning of the number 40 did not go exactly as planned, but I can thoroughly recommend the place where we stayed!

In a Eeyoreish echo the eldest alreadyadiva dragged a found burst balloon on a string round with her and spent the afternoon trying to catch a koi carp or two with it!

Ups: Champagne, roasted chestnuts, apple wine, toasted marshmallows
Downs: Kids with dysentry, launderette, caravan park, various scorchings

Overall, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world x

Eco-friendly birthdays for 5 year olds

Well strictly speaking still 4 year olds. These birthdays are weighty matters for parents. The kids are young enough to enjoy maximum anticipation of the event and are not too hard too please, yet, but the memories are gilt-edged and we want to get it right. Faced with various requests for random and themed gifts over the last few months (Barbie – too blonde, Bratz – too bratty, High School Musical – too old) plus bikes, rollerskates and cuttings from an educational catalogue at school, the parental plea – what do you want? seems at once both superfluous and increasingly desperate.

So the day comes when you have to commit to a purchase. Their has been some form of brief parental summit on the subject which went along the lines of: do we really need to buy another bike when there are five in the house and garden already…

So I am not in a bike shop. I am in a succession of shops that have a small offer of toys, following heavily the trends mentioned already (Barbie, Bratz etc.). It strikes me we are remiss and crap parents. We KNOW she wanted a DS and she’s not getting one. We forgot to discuss the item and related capital expenditure at the summit. Could I make a unilateral budgetary decision right now? Does a 5 year old need a DS, much less do I need two grumpy children talking to electronic gadgets incessantly, clutching slim “pens” just begging to disappear down the floorboards? I forget the DS – review position at Christmas.

The trouble with looking at most toys, when you have completed over a decade of parenthood (ok some of those years have run concurrently), is that when you are faced with shelves of the lovelies in a shop your mind plays tricks on you. I stare vacantly at pretty Barbies in sparkly dresses with accessories. I see them a few months hence – naked, unwashed, matted hair, the dog gnawing on a limb. I’ll be shouting “Save the Barbie from the dog”, but the kids don’t care. That’s the fate of dolls in our house. So no to dolls. Then there’s the array of stuff that needs batteries in all their manifestations: AA, AAA, A, C, D (whatever) and of course you always have the wrong ones for the gadget which always creates birthday tantrums of Krakatoan proportions. I don’t take long to reject battery toys. Jigsaws and anything else with small bits? Forget it. If I buy those I may as well just empty them out on the floor when I get home and hoover them straight up the Henry’s nostril. Save myself a bit of wrapping paper and cut out the middle man.

So what should be a pleasurable experience, choosing my child’s birthday gift, becomes a traumatic experience where my mind is tortured by broken toys with lost bits and the nightmare is inhabited by my own uncaring and selfish 21st century offspring.

Back to the present. Nothing won’t do. Something is better than nothing, even if it is an evil Barbie.

So obviously I opt for a Barbie book (with colouring and stickers in my defence). I am in contact with the other parent now. He updates me. He has bought a kite (for a 5 year old, so he won’t be able for flying that then will he?) and I beg in muted tones that he also buys the Bratz bike saddle cover and the streamers for the handlebars of the old bike that is being “madeover”… I only have 5 minutes remaining to organise this shindig now and the hopes and dreams of a soon to be 5 year old rest on my shoulders. Then I see it. The gift. A eco-radio that you wind up and can charge your mobile phone (Samsung, Nokia, Sony Ericcson & Motorola) with when you are out of reach of electricity. Perfect. 😕

Not a toy - obviously

Not a toy - obviously
for information on how not to be caught in the dark without your Penguin Eco Torch.

This is part one of how I meet, or otherwise, my daughter’s stringent birthday project management brief. Part 2 to follow this weekend on the occasion of the carefully themed “Birthday Party”.

If I was 5 again I would like this:

Hell, I could live there now!

Hell, I could live there now!