Tuesday, 24 June 2008


I have adorable children. Sigh. Yes, I know every mother says this, but mine really are adorable.

Take H6, for example, on Friday, when I was the Mummy Who Forgot (sausage rolls for party) then the Mummy Who Threw Things Away. H6 said the sausage rolls didn't matter (someone else remembered, didn't matter who, wasn't important) then went into raptures of delight over her tidy bedroom. So I'm not Really Horrid Mummy, I turned out to be Very Nice Mummy after all and quite by accident.

It seems that, despite my fears that I am a completely hopeless parent, I've actually got a couple of adorable little children.

They do nice, thoughtful things too, like H6, this afternoon, guiding rain-splattered me into the house, as a tug would guide in an aircraft carrier, as I struggled under an Everest of damp washing. I went blindly into the house whinging and wailing and instructing small people to "MOVE OR YOU'LL GET SQUISHED"! Next there were gentle, soft hands, kindly guiding me in. Adorable.

Then this weekend grown-up also adorable children arrived from Down Under. They were the third in a series of four heading off on post graduate round the world tickets courtesy of their granddad. All three so far have been absolutely delightful, good-looking and sporty, full of humour and good cheer, totally uncomplaining, and absolute paragons.

They are the offspring of my cousin StB, who lives in Melbourne, and we used to hear all about them in the annual Christmas letter. We used to snigger into our beards a bit (all right, a lot) at this annual list of their good deeds and incredible academic, sporting and musical accomplishments. But, having met three-quarters of them (and I'm sure the fourth will be the same) we have to admit that their fond mother, ShB, was speaking nothing but the truth and perhaps even playing it down a little.

Take this weekend's pair, for example. My second cousin, AB, is a recently qualified midwife who put herself through college by working as a nanny. My children immediately fell totally in love with the Minogue-soundalike. AB is also very attractive (slim and blonde) with a 1,000 watt smile and a very tall, equally handsome, affable triathlon-fit boyfriend. Being such sporty types they were delighted with the heaps of fresh veggies I cooked for dinner and that there was wholemeal toast at breakfast. They were polite, well mannered and, like their older brother and sister who have already visited, totally adorable.

Back to my own adorable little ones, though. We've just survived the annual torment that is School Sports Day. Mine dressed head to toe in red to support their house, Cerwyn, and bounced excitedly off to school clutching red coated bears as mascots. They ran their races, with varying degrees of success (H6 third in her run, last in the egg and spoon; R4s last in her run, second in the egg and spoon) and cheered madly for their team mates.

Then came the dreaded mothers' race. I had to have a go, H6 and R4 were screaming for me to take part. Such a shame I missed the 'ready, steady, go' bit and was left standing, surprised at the start. I had a lovely view of the mums fighting it out at the front of the race, but I did manage to pass a few others on the way to the finish, so I didn't totally disgrace myself. Rumour has it that the winner, by the way, is a former elite athlete who has represented her country at the Commonwealth or Olympic Games. Which explains why she left the start at 'steady' instead of 'go' I suppose.

Brian, meanwhile, enjoyed a moment of glory leading the Dads' race until being pipped by two slightly more youthful dads who realised, towards the end of the sprint, that someone ten years their senior was in front of them and they'd better look sharp. H6 and R4 said that Daddy was third and Mummy was tenth. Neither of us have any idea who came where, we were too busy restarting our hearts and learning to breathe again.

* The photograph shows the adorable pair in their adorable Hunter wellies. They wanted proof that the bits at the back were reflective. Adorable.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Dreaming of skips and purges

Today I am the Mummy Who Forgot (again). This time it was sausage rolls for H6 to take to Rainbows. She found out only when she got there when it was Too Late.

In my defence, as I never take H6 to Rainbows, such things pass me by on the list headed Unimportant. I don't mean to do it, but as her membership of Rainbows, the journey to and fro and, last week, tea beforehand are all organised by H6's best friend's Fabulous Organised Mummy. I've kind of given up on Rainbows.

So the letter on which was scrawled in tiny loopy biro squiggles, 'sausage rolls', ended up on the pile of Done Things, as it also included a consent form for H6 to go out for the day along with a demand for £5. Now money is one thing I do concentrate on, so that thing I did, then the letter was spiked. And anyway, Rainbows seem to have a party or an outing, or the Olympics, every blooming week.

So H6 is about to return home in high dudgeon ready to hold a kangaroo court with her as hanging judge and me as hopeless defendant.

A distraction is necessary so I have also, while she has been out, turned into Mummy Who Throws Things Away. And by Things I mean all the tat, the crap, the egg boxes, the plastic rescued from the recycling to be turned into cars for toys, the horrid little whatevers that come out of Kinder Eggs, and packaging.

So much packaging! Horrid toys in nasty packaging with the threat "collect them all!" in joyful writing. Nasty tiny bits of hard plastic to disable a soft parental foot. Packaging with cute pictures and scenery to facilitate play. Packaging which, actually, forms part of the toy AND YOU THREW IT AWAY! WAIL!

That has all gone. The bedroom is much tidier. There are still too many toys crammed into too little space, piles of jigsaws and boxed games teeter, books, now stacked neatly between bookends wait to scud again off the top of the chest of drawers and across the floorboards.

There are boxes stacked perilously on top of and in front of another chest of drawers too, rendering them unopenable. These boxes contain much-loved dolls, knotty haired princesses with impossible bosoms. I fought my way past these to look in the drawers and what did I find? Nothing. Four completely empty drawers. This is what the shed looks like. Empty storage cowering behind towers of unidentifiable garage rot. That is their father's influence.

Behind these heaps is the door to another room. In there lurks piles of sad things sorted aeons ago for a "car boot sale". Theoretically this is the "spare room". It is a Bone Of Contention which I raised tonight with aforementioned father of my children. Funny how he suddenly offered to take and fetch H6 and friend.

Last night I dreamed of removing all the books from the bookshelves, dusting (who dreams of dusting?!) painting the walls and replacing the books, neatly and orderly.

Tonight, if I survive the kangaroo court, I will once again dream of skips and purges.

Friday, 6 June 2008


I thought I'd share with you images of our two hay meadows which look an absolute picture at this time of year. We're organic and part of Wales' Tir Gorfal agri-environmental scheme, so we're pretty restricted as to what we can and can't do to these fields.

Grazing is tightly controlled, we're not allowed to cut until the middle of July and we can't apply artificial fertilizers. Any farm yard manure we apply has to be between certain dates. Actually the fields have not had any manure on them for a while now. They produce far more haylage than we can ever use, so there is no point adding extra fertility.

The rules are to protect the species-rich meadows. We have a lot of yellow rattle, a parasitic wild-flower which restricts grass growth. This makes room for a whole abundance of other flowers including red clover and lady's smock and other ancient (and quite probably endangered) species, oh, and buttercups, of course, by the million.

The second field includes an ancient dew pond. Previous farmers had the bright idea of filling in the dew pond, but nature will out and it is gradually reasserting itself. In the winter it's a gloriously reflective mirrored pool.

These two fields are the only ones on the farm that are actually flattish. The dog loves them (see photograph below) and the sheep are quite fond of them too, but the ponies don't really like being on these fields. Possibly they are too exposed, but in any case they are far too fatteningly grassy for native Welsh ponies.

The bridle path goes along the far edge of these two fields and leads, through a gate at the top left hand corner, to our green lane. Here be Hobbits...

... Well I think so any way! According to Mido (who was just sticking his head down a rabbit hole as I took the photograph) there are rabbits and badgers and possibly the occasional dormouse.