Thursday, 24 July 2008

Summer holiday game No. 2: Chaos in the kitchen

This one is strictly for the adults.

Step 1: Discover that Ikea kitchens can now be ordered online and that delivery, even to the far flung corners of West Wales, only costs £35.

Step 2: Order kitchen.

Step 3: Order new wardrobes too, for good measure.

Step 4: Inform husband.

Step 5: Resuscitate husband.

Step 6: Discover that the earliest date for delivery is July 21st.

Step 7: Discover that July 21st is first day of school holidays. Kick self.

Step 8: Accept delivery of several hundred anonymous boxes and bags from jolly Ikea delivery man. Ikea delivery man is still jolly despite having mistaken address for Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire. He didn't bat an eyelid when told that he needed to be in Pembrokeshire instead.

"I'll be a bit longer than an hour," quoth delivery man on mobile without irony.

Step 8: Remove stagnant old kitchen cupboards; discover hole in floor.

Step 9: Decide to build wardrobes while concrete dries in kitchen hole.

Step 10: Discover wardrobes are only marginally less tall than bedroom and must be built upright.

Step 11: Soothe husband again. Remember husband is motivated by deadline. Phone friends and book holiday in Devon for coming Sunday.

Step 12: Put on another DVD for children. Feed on biscuits and toast as kitchen out of bounds.

Step 13: Build wardrobes. Remove heaps of clothes from children's beds. Put children to bed as it is now the middle of the night.

Step 14: This takes place the following morning. Husband puts on shirt and tie and flees gladly to work.

Step 15: Erm, not sure what this one is yet. Have to wait and see if husband returns!

To be continued...

Monday, 21 July 2008

Summer holiday game No. 1: Art in the garden

Art in the garden requires few tools and not much else other than a large dose of enthusiasm. You need a box of chalks, a nice flat area of concrete or stone and a selection of blooms, leaves and grasses. It's not permanent, so remember to grab your camera!

Mummy in the garden, by H6.

Mummy in the garden by R4.

You get lovely and chalky doing this, but it will all wash off easily and the pictures will gradually disappear after a splash or two of summer rain.

Monday, 14 July 2008

It's Big Horse's bath day!

What is it that makes one particular toy special? This, for example, is Big Horse, H6's number one favourite toy. He's the one she goes to for comfort when she's sad and she snuggles up to him when she's tired. A night he drapes himself across her pillow - he's very long legged and necked - and H6 goes to sleep on top of him. He regularly has birthdays - at least one a week - and he's been married on a number of occasions, each time to a different partner.

Big Horse arrived as a present from my sister at H6's christening. As he was unwrapped and we discovered he was a puppet, someone, of course, shoved a hand up inside and animated him. Result? Complete breakdown on the part of H6 who was then only H1.5. She was terrified of him for a while after that - just in case he suddenly came to life again I suppose!

But she has forgiven him now which, in part, is his downfall, because he does get dribbled on quite a bit, which makes him a bit, erm, well, whiffy. So he had a quick spin in the washing machine this morning, followed by a short tumble which didn't, admittedly, do much for his hairstyle, but H6 is looking forward to grooming him back to normality after school.

This is Texas. Second in command to Big Horse. He's called Texas because that's where Grandad was when he bought him. It was love at first sight this time and H6, who was H0.5 when she got him, has adored him ever since. His little poncho was crocheted by clever Grandma.

Recently we were woken up at 2.30am by blood chilling wails.

"Daddy," wailed H6 at the top of her lungs. Daddy hurtled down the landing and into the bedroom. Mummy thanked her lucky stars and snuggled back under the duvet.

"Sob, sob," sobbed H6 incoherently.

"There, there," Daddy soothed, assuming nightmares. "It was probably just a bad dream."

"No Daddy," H6 wailed back. "I've lost Texas!"

Daddy located Texas (ever tried finding a black toy horse in a dark bedroom?), but failed to locate his temper and issued a few hissed warnings in the direction of the top bunk, while R4 snored unawares in the bunk below.

R4 is much more fickle when it comes to toys. She tends to favour whichever one is the newest, but Toby the Beagle, above, is the one that causes the most consternation when he goes missing. Where H6 likes to pile her pillow with toys at bedtime and occasionally needs rescuing from their furry clutches in the middle of the night, R4 will have just the one, usually Toby, tightly clutched in the crook of her elbow.

Occasionally we'll have a: "Mummeee I've left Toby at Grandma's!" or "Mummeeee I've left Toby in the car!" but mostly he's a faithful hound and doesn't stray far.

This is Aloysius, my bear. He's actually a replacement bear, number three I suppose on my teddy bear list, but he has endured beyond all the others. My favourite was a bear I called Mary Plain. She wasn't in the least bit plain and wore a beautiful cotton lawn dress and bloomers. Perhaps it was too many kisses and cuddles, but eventually her pretty dress was worn and she fell to bits. Aloysius is made of much tougher stuff. He's been to college and university. He's lived in five different houses, travelling alongside me between England and Wales, mostly in style on a Mini or Ford Fiesta passenger seat but once, ignominiously, on the back of my Suzuki motorbike. Now he has suffered the indignity of his place in the bed being taken by a husband. But he's still got a smile on his face.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

A new bloom

Sunday's dry gap between the showers gave me the opportunity to pop out to our wetland to see how the native wildflowers are coping. We are particularly proud of this area of land which is named 'Gweirglodd' in ancient Welsh, meaning 'boggy wet place' or something similar. We call it 'The Moor'.

This year for the first time we have an area of Bog Asphodel (above) an absolutely gorgeous member of the lily family with highly fragrant spikes of yellow starry blooms.

This is the Spotted Marsh Orchid, which blooms in droves from June to July. It starts this lovely dark pink, then fades to almost white, like the one in the background.

And this is Whorled Caraway, which is the county flower of Carmarthenshire.

Sunday, 6 July 2008


It may be raining, it may be cold, but despite the weather my strawberries are managing to ripen. This one, variety 'Enorma', weighed in at 74g (just under three ounces) just in time for the last day of Wimbledon. It did have a big brother, which I had protected from slug or bird damage by tucking into a one pound honey jar. Of course, once it ripened, I couldn't get it out of the jar. So I had to break it to get it out and then eat it, in the garden, fragrant and warm from a brief glimpse of July sunshine. Delicious!