Friday, 29 July 2011

Other People!

You know what it’s like. You flop along for ages with nothing to say, then along comes a whole ton of things you want to get off your chest.

No, it’s not about the chair. She doesn’t ask for much in life except food, walks and cuddles so I’ve decided Tilly can keep the chair.

We had a planned day out yesterday, but because one of the kids was sick – oh boy was she sick, poor little thing – we changed plans and I took the two eldest out to different places on my own leaving Grandad with the poorly one (who was feeling much better, but not up to a day out).

The day was largely unplanned, but we had fun. I packed a picnic and we set off on our adventures. There was the animal sanctuary (I could write reams about that wonderful place and maybe I will, but not today), then the play park.

It’s quite a new park, all lovely wooden structures and playthings and it’s out in one of the villages miles from anywhere. So you’d think “other people” (I am trying so hard not to use bad language here) wouldn’t be a problem wouldn’t you?

There were a lot of people on the park and I counted eleven cars including mine (you’d have to drive there as it’s only within walking distance of a few houses). Not a problem.

They wanted to go on the zip slide (well so did I if I’m honest, I’ve always fancied having a go on one, but too many people about) and queued up with the other kids, taking turns, passing the seat thing back to the next person.

It was a lovely display of sharing. On the big wooden climbing frame a little boy was lying down blocking the wobbly bridge and Imogen was waiting to pass. The little boy’s grandad said, “Move out of the way and let the little girl pass.” Imogen said a ringing, “Thank you!” as the little boy moved as soon as being asked.

All very nice don’t you think? Kids and adults behaving beautifully and considerately.

Then they declared they were starving – “Starving to death,” in fact. Both picnic tables were in use so we moved a short way from the play area and sat on the grass at the edge of the adjoining field.

I hadn’t unsnapped the lid of the lunchbox before two cars pulled into the car park and discharged a load of adults and kids. They had the whole field, but they put out their blankets near us. It’s like in car parks isn’t it – you get a whole empty car park and you park and you always get someone who has to park right beside you, so close you can’t get your door open.

Okay they weren’t right beside us, but they could have been a lot further away!!

Anyway, the kids were all of the larger variety, 10 and upwards I imagine, and the boys started a game of football and it seemed to me they were using us as goalposts! A man walking nearby with a toddler told them to be careful. Did they take any notice? No. They kicked the ball even harder. The man with the toddler moved away.

The girls in the group weren’t much better. They went off rampaging round the play area.

When the ball whizzed past my head so close I felt the whoosh of air, I packed up our picnic and said we’d move on elsewhere – to the beach maybe.

It would have been one thing if the field had been small, but there was a huge area unused they could have kicked their football round in. I’ve got nothing against older kids having fun and playing ball games, but they need to take care around smaller ones.

Just over a week ago we went to my youngest granddaughter’s belated 1st birthday party at one of those soft play areas (six hours of non-stop fun!). There were several older kids there, 9 and upwards and they ran around like kids do BUT when they were with the littler ones, they couldn’t have been more considerate or helpful. Watching them with the toddlers, helping them climb and getting them out of the tricky corners they’d got themselves into was amazing.

They didn’t have to be told to take care. They just did.

Anyway, we were going to go back on the play park after lunch, but it was so overrun by these kids now, barging all the smaller kids out of the way and not letting them get near stuff, there seemed little point. We weren’t the only ones packing up and leaving.

You wonder if such behaviour is deliberate to get rid of everyone else. Well it worked! Then again, in a week when it comes out that nearly 900 children are suspended from schools every day for attacks and abuse and there are children starting school who don’t even know their own first names – well it doesn’t bode well for the future does it.

You know I thought it was pretty bad when we got Tilly and she thought her name was “Naughty girl” – but to think of four year olds, some not even knowing they HAVE a first name. Well it makes you want to weep.

When I worked as a classroom assistant over 20 years ago, one of my main jobs was to talk to the children. “Sad fact, some of them just don’t get talked to at home,” one teacher told me. I knew some started school unable to use cutlery or dress themselves. But that was then and things are worse now.

In the grand scheme of things a few inconsiderate kids aren't that terrible and now I've written this I'm thinking that maybe I'm just too far gone into Grumpy Old Womandom. Most kids seem well behaved and able to have fun without spoiling it for everyone else don't they?

My husband said I should have said something. I know I should. But would you? What would be the point? It doesn’t change the behaviour of these people.

It wasn’t until I’d packed up and we were moving away that I realised one of the fathers was playing football as well and it was probably a kick from him that had nearly had my head off (oh I know, but I’m a writer, I’m supposed to exaggerate). Sigh.

So off to the beach, watched tiny crabs in the rock pools, found some interesting green stones with red spots. I wish I’d taken a photo. I’ve lived here all my life and I don’t remember seeing them before.

Lachlan picked up a large lump of something that looked as if it might once have been metal. We’d picked up Grandad on our way to the beach and he asked him what it could be. “Fossilised poo,” he said. It was only when I looked back and saw the lump of whatever-it-was on the sand and Lachlan staring in horror at his hands that I told him it was a joke.

We went in search of ice creams and found the LV18 – the lightship used in the film “The Boat that Rocked” now in its permanent berth off the Ha’penny Pier – so we went aboard.

Fascinating. And scary! Going up vertical ladders with a 6 year old and a 4 year old is worrisome. We went right to the top deck which feels really high once you’re up there. (The photo was taken a couple of years ago - I had my hands too full to get my camera out yesterday!)

Coming down wasn’t so easy. Imogen was scared (and who could blame her – unlike the park there was no soft landing here if you fell) so I carried her down, backwards. “Don’t drop me, Grandma,” she said as I made my slow way down, “or I will die!” I should say I don’t do ladders, I never have, but I didn’t even think about it. I was more concerned about getting her down safely.

We went down into some of the living quarters below decks. We gave the galley and other cabins a miss. Perhaps we’ll go aboard another time for a proper look round.

Oops, went on a bit there didn’t I and my name isn’t Disgusted and I’m not even from Tunbridge Wells, although I have ancestors in my family tree who were. And that’s not everything I was going to rant – er I mean talk about.

But I’m going to crawl back into my corner and shut up now.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


All this talk of lists has got her going again. Despite what she says about giving up lists I can tell you she has several on the go. There’s the list of books she’s read, another list of books she wants to read and a list of things she’s got to buy next time she’s internet shopping.

I can’t tell you how many times she puts in an order and before the confirmation has appeared in her inbox she’s wailing that she’s forgotten something. Last time it was poo bags, but not to worry, our chewy bones and bumpy crocodiles and dental treats were ordered, so who cares about poo bags?

When we went out this morning, Indy jumped in the dyke and had a swim – then he couldn’t get out again (you can just about see his scared face in the picture). I didn’t laugh, honest. They were just about to rescue him when he hauled himself out.

“Are you all right?” I asked him.

“Shut up,” he said. “I’m fine. I wasn’t having a problem, okay!”

I said, “You’re all wet now.” I shan’t tell you what he said. Rude it was.

Anyway, I was saying about notebooks.

She’s got this posh one that she’s been saving for something special and she’s decided to use it for more lists. This time she’s listing what she’s done and between you and me sometimes the days are blank, but she reckons it might motivate her to actually do something instead of sitting there drinking gallons of coffee and moaning that she hasn’t got time to do anything.

Anyway I’m here to ask for help. She’s talking about getting rid of my chair. She says it’s dirty and takes up too much room and she worries because sometimes when I jump into it, I don’t quite make it. She’s talking about getting me an old person bed and I’m not old! I’m only eleven. And I’m not the one that jumps into dykes and can’t get out again am I?

Threaten to boycott her stupid blog if she gets rid of my chair! That’ll teach her.

And she keeps moaning about spam. I suppose it’s because she’s a vegetarian. “Lovely spam! Wonderful spam!” she says. “My arse.”

Anyway, best go – I have some serious sleeping to do - In My Chair!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011


Thank you Eileen over at Life’s Hard, Wine Helps for awarding me a Stylish Blogger Award. Almost forgot to do it, but life is getting back to normal so here goes with seven things about me with apologies if I’m repeating myself (I’m allowed to, I’m getting on a bit).

1. I have recently become allergic to codeine which is a pain (literally).

2. I am allergic to permanent hair dye.

3. I can swim a whole length of the pool holding my breath with my face in the water – what I cannot do is swim like a dolphin . There I was swimming up and down with Imogen sitting on my back and she said, “Come on, dolphin, leap out of the water.” Isn’t it wonderful when children are young enough to believe you can do anything?

4. I don’t like sentences that begin with “I”. A way around this I have to find.

5. My twin died in the womb and I have always felt as if a part of me is missing.

6. When I was a child coming home from school at lunchtime, I used to sometimes cadge a lift down the hill with the bread delivery man. It is very exciting riding in a van with neither seat nor door – well it is when you’re little and fearless. And I still remember the lovely smell in that van.

7. Which reminds me, at around the same time I had to be rescued by a lady at the top of that same hill from the attentions of an amorous golden retriever called Sandy (lovely, friendly dog, but on that occasion too friendly). She ushered me through her house and let me climb over her back fence so I could run home through the allotments.

That got me thinking, can you imagine those last two things happening these days?

And I’m going to be horribly lazy and instead of nominating fifteen blogs I am going to ask you to cast your gaze to the right (I think – I’m not good with left and right) and visit some of the very stylish blogs in my list if you haven’t already. And if your blog is there, consider yourself nominated! These seven "things" are a good prompt if you can't think of anything to blog about.

This morning as I walked down the lane (fields on the right, caravan park on the left) with the dogs, I suddenly realised I couldn’t see quite as much of Tilly as I should. She’d found a small hole at the base of the wire fence (well she’s spent the past ten years looking for one) and zipped through.

She went off rather purposefully and disappeared behind a caravan while I was leaping up and down in a panic – rather like a headless chicken really. Without the feathers.

She was heading in the direction of a caravan where a couple of bull terrier types had gone mad at her through the fence at the weekend. She’s a plucky little soul and stupid enough to think she can take anyone on and she’s got the memory of an elephant.

I was jumping up and down, calling her, panicking, wondering how the hell I could run to the park entrance and get there before she did, if she did – it was all going through my mind, roads, traffic, people, dogs – or if she went in another direction she’d end up on the marshes. All the camp exits are at least a ten minute run from where I was and I don’t do running.

Then I remembered my whistle and gave it a blast. Almost immediately she came trotting back to the hole in the fence. No sooner was she through it than she was running ahead down the lane looking for another. I put her on her lead then until we reached the fields where there are no fences for her to squeeze under, just dirty ditches to jump in.

She’s lost 200 gms so far on her diet and she seems to have a lot more energy. Whether it’s the food or the cooler weather or second childhood I don’t know.

Anyway I’ll be blinking glad when the other fields have been harvested and all those ear- and paw- invading grass seeds have gone so we can forget the lane and start going round the fields again.

My intention when I started blogging was to write about writing so I’ll make an effort to do that next time. If I can think of anything to write about. Writing Avoidance Techniques perhaps which is what I am indulging in right now.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Words of Wisdom

Reported this week – one in three of us is desperate to cut down the time we spend doing emails, Tweeting, Facebooking etc.

I can see why. There are always new and interesting things to ail us. With the dawn of computers came repetitive strain injuries from sitting at a keyboard or clutching a game pad. Now we have Facebook Fatigue, Blogger Burnout, Forum Fag, Email Exhaustion and Twitter Tiredness – that’s before you even start on the lure of interesting sites, the latest news at your fingertips and surveys.

My main activity on Facebook is playing Farmville. That’s the latest in a long line of games I’ve temporarily become addicted to. I’ve played everything on FB from knocking out bubbles to complicated word games. Now I put pretend trees in pretend orchards and every two days I harvest them. It’s an undemanding pastime and while I’m harvesting my orchards and watering my mystery seedlings or feeding love potions to my sheep, my mind takes a little break. It goes away all on its own and thinks about stuff.

And I don’t even have to go to FB to play it. I can cut out the middle man and go straight to Farmville. So do I need to cut down on Facebook? I don’t think so. I took a load of photos Tuesday and put them on FB, made them visible to the people who would be interested and that was it, done. And what’s more it’s easier and less time consuming than shrinking them to a sendable size and attaching them to emails.

So there you go, Facebook saves you time!

I sort of fell into Blogging. I follow so many I can’t keep up with them all, but when I look through the list and see if I could cull any – I can’t. I like all those I follow too much and don’t want to lose any of them and would like to follow more, but I sometimes miss posts and that annoys me somewhat because I just don’t have time to go back through them all and dammit I don’t like missing anything.

I’ve resisted Twitter. I’m not even going to go there. I think Twitter would be the straw that had me running down the street screaming that I can’t take any more.

Forums. I belong to a small number and find it hard to keep up with the posts on those, but I can’t let them go – I just can’t. They are, on the whole, such friendly places, somewhere you can go for a bit of a chillax.

And emails. I’d go mad without them and so, probably, would some of you. Not only do they keep you in touch, they make everything so much faster – and cheaper. Emails must save us a fortune in postage and brown envelopes.

Moving on to the business of writing. I had a sort out yesterday of all the folders, magazines, notes etc beside my desk. It had become such a huge tottering pile that I couldn’t use my printer without transferring it all. I transferred it to the chair behind me last time I had to print, forgetting that the dog that cannot see was damp and muddy – the result was a pile of soggy, grimy, falling apart pieces of paper and a very uncomfortable looking Tilly wondering what on earth had happened to her comfy chair.

She’s in there now sleeping peacefully, unmolested by piles of paperwork.

It led me to actually look at the projects I have on the go. There are five folders on the floor beside my desk – five projects there. Indy is taking care of those for the moment.

Then there are the notebooks scattered about the house. One with started greeting card verses in, one with Indy’s story, another with notes for something bigger. Yet another has writing websites written down that I must visit and one more on my desk with ideas for short stories. I haven’t even started on the folders on my computer with half started this and that. There is one into which I have transferred the stories I am going to one day – one day – publish on Kindle.

And there is of course the painting waiting to be finished, but that is unrelated to writing. At least I got the windows cleaned this week – very weak Yayyy.

So I haven’t done much. I would blame the dentist, but I have to say his lovely eyes went some way towards compensating for the pain.

The only person to blame is myself. I’m trying to do too much and in doing so I’m actually achieving very little. I used to make lists until the day I cracked, tore the list into tiny pieces and stamped my feet vowing never to make a bloody list again, so that’s not an option now.

Does anyone else feel overwhelmed by it all? I used to be overwhelmed by the mountain of ironing or the windows that needed cleaning or the grass that was as high as an elephant’s eye or the dust that settled the minute you finish dusting. Now all it takes to overwhelm me is the arrival of a writing magazine which I simply must read – just as soon as I’ve read last month’s.

Anyway, Words of Wisdom – I almost forgot. In fact I have forgotten. I’ve waffled on so long and talked so much self-indulgent twaddle I’ve forgotten what I was going to offer in the line of wise words. So let that be a lesson to you… I think.

I could easily and do easily become addicted to things. I can stop any time. I can turn this computer off and go and do something else. I can. You just watch me. I’m going now. See. I’m moving the mouse towards the sleep button or perhaps first I’ll check on my orchards, read a few blogs, reply to some emails and visit a forum or two and then I’ll switch it off and sort out some of those notebooks…..

How about you? Where are you off to now? Please, please tell me I’m not the only one to feel this way…

Saturday, 2 July 2011

New Computer, New Router, Old Excuses

I’m sorry about the last post. Indy got on here when she wasn’t looking, but never fear, I am here now and using the keyboard despite my hairy paws and the fact I am visually challenged.

Unlike my brother, I am not one to moan. Take yesterday – there we were walking down the lane when I got a sharp pain in my paw. Did I make a fuss? Did I hell. I limped bravely on until she noticed and examined my paws.

I’d trodden on a twig with added thorns and one of the thorns had dug into my pad. I didn’t as much as flinch when she pulled it out. I’ve seen Indy with thorns in his paw and he stops dead and waves it about until someone sorts it out. She says I should do that, but you know me, I don’t like to make a fuss.

But there comes a time in every girl’s life when she has to make a stand.

Oh, the computer? Yes – she’s not keen. The screen is too long and thin, the new version of Word too scary and she says why has Explorer put everything round the wrong way – like her favourites on the right instead of the left.

Photoshop didn’t work – new computer said no - so she’s had to get a new version and she hasn’t even opened the box yet which is why there isn’t a picture of me to accompany this post.

And the new system doesn't support the Canon Easy Photo Print thing she uses. Amazing isn’t it how many things new systems don’t support.

How is it progress, she said, to make everything more complicated and upside down? And why doesn’t it end with buying a computer? Why do you have to buy all the extra programs to replace the programs you know, love and are used to?

As for the painting, she did the downstairs loo and half the hall then said her knees, back, neck, arms etc etc hurt too much to continue. Poor old soul. Maybe she’ll start a new trend in half painted rooms. Then she thought the gloss had given her a sore throat, but it turned into a full blown cold. As you know I’m not one to complain but she’s keeping me awake half the night with her coughing.

Anyway, someone said I looked as if I was putting on weight. Me! Well I’m not doing the running around that I used to that’s for sure. It’s hard when you can’t see where you’re going and a tad scary. I do have the occasional sprint when I get carried away, but I prefer to stay close to the rest of the pack now.

So she got out the scales and weighed me and according to her I’ve put on over a kilo. The scales are wrong I told her. My fur is heavy. I suggested removing my collar, but it was too late, the diet grub was ordered.

It’s only a kilo I said and she said on a dog of my small stature a kilo is a lot and that being overweight won’t help my aches and pains. Huh, you can talk fatty, I said, but she didn’t hear me. So I’ve got this high oat stuff from Burns and it’s really nice! But don’t tell her I said that.

The router? Well since it arrived she hasn’t been screaming about things going down so much, but just occasionally she’ll groan “Not again.”

And if she would but admit it, this new computer is so quiet she thought something was wrong with her mouse because she could hear every click. And it takes up a lot less space on her desk. And when she switches it on, it takes but a few seconds to be ready – the old one used to take several minutes and one of its fans had to be started with the aid of a screwdriver. She’s coming round to it anyway.

When she was checking to make sure all the stuff from the old computer had arrived on the new one, she found loads of started novels. She found a book she’d started to write about writing, a book about me and Indy, stories for children, romances and all kinds of everything. She had a quick peek, then quickly closed the folder with a shake of her head and an “I can’t look at all that now. It’s doin’ my head in.”

Well, as I told her, if she shed a few of her excess stones (which put my kilo and a bit in the shade – literally) she might lose some brain flab and be able to finish some of that stuff she’d started.