Monday, 30 June 2014

Sock Horror ...

Socks are the very bane of my life. The Boy's socks more than anyone else's.

The Tween, in secondary school,  is trussed daily into 40 denier black tights regardless of the weather. The TeenTwins, having left school, barely get out of their onesies long enough to trouble the sock drawer, but The Boy wears socks every day. He needs socks and I need them to be in pairs. And they are never in pairs.

I don't know whether the washing machine eats them or The Boy eats them, but his collection of socks has grown ever singular. At the last count, there was 17 solo socks in his sock drawer. Seventeen. Seven. Teen.

Socks of the singular variety
It was then I had a brainwave.

My thought processes ran thus: If I buy lots of socks of the same pattern, there will always be a pair of matching socks. So I did. I bought lots of black socks and then I bought some patterned socks, three packs of the same patterned socks and proceeded to feel quite smug.

Socks of smugness

What could possibly go wrong? 

I'll tell what can go wrong. There may always a pair of socks to hand of a morning, but because there are many, many pairs of the same socks it's hard to tell if the socks The Boy has on one day are different socks from the socks he had on the day before.

But it was only, while excavating a small mountain of Lego and penguins, I discovered the full horror of my sock strategy. I unearthed a small hoard of socks, all matching and in pairs admittedly, but far too clean to have gone through the daily rigours of The Boy's life.

I looked at The Boy's grubby sock clad feet, I looked at the hoard of perfectly clean, unworn, unsullied socks. I looked at The Boy's feet again. I looked at The Boy.

Five days he'd gone in the same pair of socks. FIVE DAYS. He was even proud about it.

Tomorrow I'm buying more socks, in many, many colours.


Saturday, 28 June 2014

The School Trip

 I have, this week, been on a school trip. I know, I know. I really should know better by now but The Boy used all his wiles from telling the teacher I was volunteering anyway, to threatening to fall into a pond and drown if I didn't.

This was no idle threat for the Class 3 trip was to a local RSPB nature reserve where there would be pond-dipping. I had to look up what pond-dipping was. It isn't, sadly, dipping a bottle of wine into a pond to cool during a romantic country picnic.

No. Pond-dipping is netting the pond life out of a pond, looking at the pond life and then throwing the pond life back in said pond while learning what a fascinating plethora of ugly, horrible, skin-crawl-inducing creatures inhabit our waters. Highly educational indeed. I learned, for example, never, ever to anywhere near a pond again. *Shudders*

The trip proved to be even more educational than that though...

Things I Did Learn On The School Trip.

1: Daddies can go on school trips.
Something that has never happened on any school trip, as pupil or parent, I've ever been on, until this school trip. I like it. It should be encouraged. I will certainly be encouraging The Man to put his name down the next time the opportunity crops up. I'm even going to get a pair of earplugs ... "YOU THINK I SHOULD DO WHAT?... and a wall to hide behind when I do though.

2: Health and Safety regulations are ridiculous.
When 30 seven and eight year olds want to go into a playground and can't, because there hasn't been a risk assessment? That is a health and safety hazard. Just saying.

3: Fizzy drinks can kill
Me, of shame. My packed lunch included a bottle of orange Lucozade. An item that is entirely necessary for a 49 year old woman on a school trip, on a hot day, when there's neither gin nor wine available. I got it out of my bag and a myriad children shrieked: "Miss, Miss SHE'S got fizzy pop. " I could have unveiled a Kalishnikov and got a more positive reaction. I put my Lucozade away.
Turns out there was tea. Didn't get any of that either. (See below)

4: Frogs are really teeny, teeny tiny when they're little. They also don't care where they hop. *Scrapes small frog off sole of shoe*

5: If you put a big stick in a field with a child, that child will find the big stick and hit things with it. But if you put four big sticks in a field with 15 children, somebody will get hurt.

6: YOU SHOULD NEVER FEED BREAD TO DUCKS... I knew this already, but it bears repeating.

7: Swans are cool.

8: Some people shouldn't be allowed near a school trip.
I might have thought, before the school trip, that that should have been me but rather surprisingly it turned out to be the people leading the school trip.
Our guides, supplied by the RSPB nature reserve for our visit, were intolerant, impatient, harrying and hectoring.
"Do this. Do that. Do it now. YOU'RE NOT DOING IT QUICK ENOUGH !"
Like the soundtrack to a bad German porn movie with extra added rudeness, they were very, very 1970s. They reminded me of Mr Smith, my old school's swimming teacher, but at least Mr Smith was fair: he hated all his pupils with a passion yet had the decency to despise his pupils for nearly a term before booting them into the shallow end and bruising their hip bones. (see below) 
Our RSPB Nature Reserve guides didn't have the time to get to know the individual members of Class 3 at all, but apparently despised them all regardless of personality, ability or attitude anyway. Which was nice.

9: I used to work with my son's teacher's father when my son's teacher was a child. This makes me feel really, really old 

10: I don't like sick buckets.

See below 1: I feel it is incumbent on me to say The Boy does not drink fizzy drinks, never has though maybe he will eventually.We don't keep bottles of fizzy drink in the house either, mainly because they take up valuable fridge room that could be used to chill wine.
He's never been to a McDonalds either. #justsaying
*Quaffs Lucozade* 

See below 2: Not* that I'm bitter or traumatised or anything. *I am

Thursday, 26 June 2014

School's Out For Ever.....

The Year 12 Prom
The TeenTwins have finished their exams, handed in their course work, had forms signed in triplicate and finally, totally and for the very last time left the school building.

It's been emotional and there have been a few tears it can't be denied, but mostly mine because I do get emotional at endings (and beginnings as it goes). The TeenTwins on the other hand think it a blessed release.

They're not leaving education. Both of them, exam results, UCAS points and all gods willing, are hoping to go to university. They're planning on going to different universities in different towns too which will be a whole new big, scary, exciting, frightening, thrilling adventure. But that's still months away and a distant dream they're not prepared to believe might be true. Not just yet.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The Gallery ... The Longest Day

I'm joining in with The Gallery and this week Tara wants to know what we did with the Longest Day.

A Solstice sunrise
June 21st, the longest day, fell on a Saturday this year and it really did feel like the longest day. Mostly because I was awake to see both the sunrise and the sunset but mainly because I spent the hours in between with The Tween and The Boy.

I do enjoy spending time with The Tween, and I do enjoy spending time with The Boy but spending time with them together is not a challenge to be undertaken lightly or without a hard hat, earplugs and a bottle of gin. But on the Longest Day, for a short time at least, there was harmony, thanks to squirrels.

Both The Tween and The Boy like squirrels. Since we last visited the squirrels in the local park and saw someone giving a squirrel some nuts, they have both been just waiting for the opportunity to do the same so, on the Longest Day, we did.....

Feeding squirrels we learned, through trial and error, requires patience, no sudden movements, no jumping, shouting, shrieking or screaming. It could easily become my most favourite family activity if it wasn't for the finite amount of nuts one human being can carry to the park.

*Invests in a wheelbarrow*

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

This is my entry to The Gallery, go check out what everyone else did on the Longest Day.

"My work here is done..."
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Friday, 20 June 2014

The Boy's Guide to Life

Chapter One

Summer Fashion Essentials

1: Scooter

2: Lightsabers: 
Two lightsabers are obviously better than one. Obviously

3: T-shirt of dubious origin:
The Boy is modelling a vintage Wakefield Music Collective t-shirt last worn by one of his sisters two years before he was born.

4: Dirty knees.

5: Bruised shins.

6: Skinned elbow.

7: Fingernails you could grow potatoes in.

Summer. Sorted.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Travellers, Lament ...

I like to think of myself as a tolerant person, liberal-minded and not-that-judgemental. I don't vote Ukip (or Tory) and though I have been known to look through the Daily Mail, it's mostly with horrified fascination. If I had a motto it would probably be Live and Let Live.

Today I am struggling mightily to uphold that motto.

Across the busy main road that passes the end of the quiet cul-de-sac where we live is what remains of the city's planning department. The buildings have been demolished, the debris removed but the car parks remain. One of the car-parks is so hidden from the road that I've been unaware of it's existence for the full 21 years that I've lived here. Yes, I know *Rolls eyes at self*

Last Tuesday evening, with one child on a scooter and one on skates, we went exploring and found that deserted car park. It was a practically perfect place to skate and scoot

So the children skated and scooted while I marvelled that I'd never noticed such a huge car park a mere 500 yards or so from the house.

While we were there, three men appeared in the otherwise totally empty car park. Fearing they were council heavies on a mission to shout at us for invading, we kept a wary eye on them as they walked from one end of the car park to the other. They walked around, they examined the large green gate* that sat locked at the top of the entrance. They examined the green metal box cupboard presumably holding electrical type gubbins**. They nodded at us amiably and said hello as they passed. Then one of them went and had a pee into the bushes and they left.

They were, I thought in passing, probably not council workers: they weren't wearing hi vis vests for one thing.

And as they went on their merry way, so did we.

Today we went back to the car park again. And it looked like this ....

Yes, the dolls gave us a fright at first.

Piles and heaps and mounds of waste and rubbish are strewn across the car-park and in trees and bushes. Things abandoned, thrown away and left behind. Empty boxes, used nappies, dirty clothes, toys, scary dolls, chairs, towels, gas canisters, more empty boxes, tv stands. Food wrappings; tins, bags, packets and bottles. And food, uneaten, leftover or regurgitated.

And that was not the worst. The hidden, dark, tree-sheltered pedestrian path that leads up to the car park has apparently been serving purpose as a latrine. And not in a neat way. They may have had many empty chainsaw boxes, but not one spade at all ......

I have no words, though I may seem to have used a lot of them so far.

I would like to be angry and disgusted in a spluttering Daily Mail kind of way but I'm not. I am deeply, deeply disappointed. And sad.

I feel let down.

And I feel stupid.

It's only in retrospect that I realise the three men were checking out the car park as a place to 'camp'. I'm assuming those 'campers' were families with babies and toddlers, mostly from the rubbish they left behind. And I'm damn sure that those 'campers' didn't, don't and never will give a stuff about anyone else at all: also from the rubbish they left behind.

I've explained to The Boy why we shouldn't poo on the path, something I genuinely never thought was going to be necessary and The Tween has showered, twice. I'm wondering whether it was entirely coincidence that brought the police to the door last week asking about a theft from a van and thinking perhaps it wasn't, while being entirely boggled that in less than a week, persons unknown and unspecified have been and gone leaving such a mess and such a smell. A very bad smell.

From now on I'm going to be more suspicious, slightly less tolerant, a little more judgemental, less trusting, and a little less idealistic. That makes me sad, but not as sad as shouting at an eight-year-old to avoid the shit on the path.


* Big green gate with no fence attached. It did have a big lock on though but I suspect the gas powered chainsaws from the gas powered chainsaw boxes may have seen to that *Nancy Drew face*

**A technical term.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

The Bee-parazzi

There are 267 species of bee in the UK, a number that has been steadily declining since 1900. Over a quarter of those 267 species are currently under the threat of extinction. This is, even if you don't like the merest hint of a buzz in the air, a bad thing.

I, on the other hand, do like bees and go around actively planting bee-attracting plants much to the dismay of the rest of the family who like bees but not so much they want to share the garden with them on a regular basis through the summer months. They've stopped complaining though, mainly I suspect because they don't want the Why We Should Like Bees* lecture again. *Sighs*

Also, they can get away with murder as long as they don't disturb the bees when I'm holding a camera because I am, I admit, a member of the bee-parazzi. The bee-parazzi is just like being a member of the paparazzi, except one of us points the camera at a useful member of society and the other photographs celebrities. Though, admittedly, both pursuits involve an awful lot of lurking around bushes.....

So here are some entirely gratuitous bee-parazzi shots of bees innocently going about their business ...



But there's always someone who takes exception to having a camera stuck in their face ....

... Must be Justin Beeber.

*runs away* 

*We should like bees because A: Honey. B: They pollinate 75% of the world's food and C: They're amazing.

Monday, 9 June 2014

It's a Gin Thing ...

Gin aperitif 
Of all the days in all the year dedicated to one thing or another, World Gin Day on Saturday June 14 is the one I like to support, celebrate and join in. Now in it's sixth year and dedicated to all things gin, it is a legitimate reason to, well, drink gin, or more gin than usual. *Coughs*

But this year my gin celebrations started early because I won a Twitter retweet competition. Hurrah. The prize for which was to attend an evening of food and gin cocktails at Shear's Yard, Leeds with Portobello Road Gin. Double Hurrah.

I am, it is true, a very happy (and sometimes quite merry) gin drinker but a largely unadventurous one. I mix gin with tonic, or orange, or grapefruit and, sometimes in special circumstances, more gin but there my experimentation ends. I don't usually drink gin with meals either, mainly because of what my mother might say.

The man from Portobello Road Gin had no such qualms and has clearly never met my mother. He had prepared a frankly mind-expanding selection of gin cocktails while the Shear's Yard chef had put together an equally mind-expanding menu to complement them. 

All seated at shared tables to experience (because it was an experience) gin and food in perfect harmony, we bonded with our neighbouring diners/drinkers as gin followed gin and course followed course. Though the gin had nothing to do with it, I'm always scintillating while dining with friends. Honest.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Father's Day, The Hotel Chocolat Way.

With Father's Day looming next weekend, cue the yearly clamour to find something, ANYTHING for the Man of the house that doesn't leave him weeping over yet another annual sock offering. So it was quite a relief to hear Hotel Chocolat have produced a whole range of Father's Day goodies for the occasion and an absolute pleasure to be sent some of the range to review.

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