Thursday, 22 May 2008

Plague and pestilence

Golly it's ages since I have blogged. My doors have been visited by plague and pestilence, so I've been otherwise occupied of late. The plague has been various fluey type bugs afflicting us all in turn and the pestilence is the dratted head lice. Never has squishing something felt so good. Head lice are currently at Number One in my Pests I Hate Most Chart. Slugs are at number two. For now.

In between mopping fevered brows and sleeping at lunchtime (fluey side effect) I have gardened my little socks off, run 5k in the Race for Life (raising £170 in the process), bought a new (to me) 4x4 and driven to Sheffield and back to have my broken tooth repaired by my lovely dentist sister.

I really like May. It's a month stuffed with promise of good things to come. Sometimes the rest of the year doesn't live up to the promises made by May, but there's always hope. The garden is full of buds and baby vegetable plants, the lambs are bopping about in the field, trees are leafy and green and flowery and when the sun comes out it's warm. Too warm actually, because May for me is also my month of sunburn. I do it every year, completely by accident, but I should know not to by now. In my defence I was bonfiring and the heat from the flames distracted me from the heat of the sun and... well the rest is, as they say, history. And yes I am freckled and fair of skin and sun is DANGEROUS. But it was a good bonfire and I enjoyed it. It'll be big t-shirt cover-ups for me from now on, I promise.

Then there was the Race for Life at Scolton Manor, just outside Haverfordwest. It was lovely to be there again. The race has a wonderful atmosphere and it is just so exciting to take part in such a happy thing. I always race in celebration of my Godmother, Thelma, who had breast cancer years ago, had the conventional treatment and is now happily in her 70s. The treatment also saved her sister from the same disease. It's lovely to be able to do something small, like a run, by way of saying thank you to Cancer Research for helping to find the drugs and treatments to help Thelma and her sister and others like them.

The day after the race I hit the road in the direction of Sheffield accompanied by Mum who also needed dental treatment. We decided on the avoid motorways at all costs route and headed up through Aberystwyth and over the Cambrian mountains accompanied by a swarm of Sunday motorcyclists. The entire route to Sheffield was buzzing with bikers enjoying the bends and twists of the route.

Exactly half way is Welshpool at the National Trust's Powis Castle where we indulged in coffee and cake to fortify us for the rest of the six hour journey. Jackie fed us handsomely on Sunday and filled us up with wine, then fixed our teeth on Monday morning. We headed back to Wales the same day accompanied this time by thundering lorries and the occasional swarm of bikers. I used to have a motorbike and it is on days like these that I miss it the most. I've threatened Brian that I will have a mid-life crisis and buy another one, but he has added motorbikes, along with sunburn, to the list of things that are DANGEROUS and, therefore, BANNED.

So today it was back to the garden, clearing out the polytunnel and making it productive again. I have finally planted up my hanging basket this year with gloriously purple surfinia petunias which have a lovely musky scent. I treated myself to a new fuchsia too and a new sage and a lemon balm. I've planted my Marvel of Four Seasons lettuces out alongside a nice thick row of scrummy coriander and have a queue of cucumbers, beans, peas and tomatoes waiting to find a permanent home in the garden somewhere.

The 4x4 I mentioned earlier is a nine year old Honda CRV. FINALLY we have one after exactly a year of looking. It's gorgeous and I love it, but I'm terrified that Horrid Gordon will slap a Nasty Tax on it because rich people in Chelsea think 4x4s are for cities. We have this one to tackle our hilly, muddy, floody school run having had a couple of close shaves when I have nearly failed to get to school to pick Hannah and Rosie up. It's lovely not to get stuck in the soft verges between home and school too, which has been a regular occurrence until now. It's already done a Proper Farm Job too, taking a deceased ewe lamb to the Veterinary Investigative Centre in Carmarthen. So, Mr Brown, I do actually NEED a 4x4, it's not just a lifestyle choice or a fashion accessory. So there.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

A brief encounter

I had one of those encounters yesterday with another mum. We met in the pharmacist's where I was getting Tixylix Night Cough and she was collecting a prescription. Like me she has two children, one of whom is in the same class as Rosie. And she's a really, truly lovely person.

So we chatted, not having seen each other since I left mothers and toddlers two years ago. We did the usual: "Gosh she's grown" (me to her daughter) and "hello" (to her son, of whom, more later). And she, as everyone does, looked at my two and said: "Goodness, aren't they tall!" followed quickly by "gosh, they're really tall."

The school nurse did that recently too at Hannah's medical check up. The conversation went a little like this:

Nurse: "We're not worried about Hannah's height or weight."

Me: "No." (Thinks: "Who's 'we'?")

Nurse: "We're not worried about Hannah's height or weight."

Me: "No." ("Where is this conversation going?")

Nurse: "We're not worried about Hannah's height or weight."

Me: "No." Winning smile. ("Haven't we established this fact, like, twice already?" See, I get into a school, sit on a teeny chair and start thinking like a teenager.)

So she's tall. Whatever.

Anyway, back to the pharmacist's where I've abandoned the Tixy and Brian's paying for it while Hannah and Rosie try not to talk to the son, who as his mother admitted is "Very Busy".

Usually when a boy is described as "Busy" it means he's a complete and utter tearaway. This one was currently climbing the pharmacist's shelves, like Spiderman up a skyscraper, to retrieve a packet of children's vitamins.

"X. Stop it!" said his mother, then seeing what he'd climbed up to fetch, realised that, bright spark that he is, he'd got what she wanted anyway. X resumed his habitual expression of wide-eyed innocence.

"He's very intelligent," said I. (Thinking: "He's got the eyes of a psychopath.")

"Oh, yes, he's Very Busy," said his mum.

"So," she continued, "how are you finding it, with working and the children at school, all the juggling?"

"I don't work," I reminded her with a smile.

There was a pause, during which a blank look was directed my way. Her face composed itself into an interested expression while her brain went to work on the odd sequence of words. First it examined them carefully, then it translated them into Welsh to see if they looked any better that way, or perhaps made any more sense, then it rejected them as complete and utter nonsense.

After an infinitesimal pause she carried on chatting as if nothing untoward had been said and we parted on the usual friendly terms. As I said, she's an utterly lovely person, but one of those who cannot comprehend that there are people - other mums - 'out there' who don't work.

I went home feeling slightly jittery, as if I'd committed a terrible social faux pas.

Next time, perhaps, I'll just nod sagely and say: "Oh, you know..." and she'll roll her eyes and nod and sigh and say: "Oh, yes..." then we'll carry on to talk about tummy bugs exactly as we did yesterday.