Tuesday, 17 June 2008

"Gladly the dress I'd wear"

"Gladly the cross I'd bear"...is the title of another family in-joke...but speaking of religion and weddings it evolves into..."Gladly the dress I'd wear". It's now time to mention my middle sister's (MS) wedding in Northern Italy. The Big Event is due to take place in just over a week. I'm terrifically happy for MS as she's waited a long time to find The One.

As for us, we are 99% packed (How I HATE packing!) and almost ready to set off on our long cross terrain adventure. The itinerary (without SatNav...should be interesting): North Shields to Holland, then over to see friends in Northern Germany, travel through Germany, down into Switzerland where we may hit Euro 2008 fever and then down into Northern Italy, Piedmont, close to Asti where they make lots of that very nice fizzy wine, Asti Spumante. After 10 days staying at a farm ( L'Agriturismo "Farming Tourism") we travel back through France (to stock up on cheap wine, children's shoes and tuna fish!), Belgium and finally Holland again and then home once more. It will be like Hannibal & Co. or a marauding Roman Army on the loose (and that's just the parents). Will recount as to how "The Big Day" goes in due course. Until then, "ave atque vale" (hail and farewell).......or arriverderci Pet!

Friday, 13 June 2008

The old ones (and the new ones) are always the best!

When my four and a half year old daughter (Princess - a corny name I know but very apt) was younger I used to regularly sing her to sleep with "The holly and the ivy" because a) it was the only song I could ever remember and 2) it was the only song I could sing reasonably in tune. Anyway whilst she was sitting on the loo this evening (don't ask!) she requested that I sing it to her again. I started singing it and sang the first verse to her. She stopped me and said she wanted to hear the bit about the teddy bears again.
"Teddy bears?" I wondered out loud..."I can't remember mentioning any teddy bears in it"...nevertheless she insisted (she is quite bossy) that I sing it to her again. So off I went....
"The holly and the ivy are now both full grown and of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown......." Bears. Bears. I suddenly saw what she was on about! I started to laugh and she joined in with me -laughing but not really understanding why I was laughing. She drives me round the bend sometimes but she is absolutely marvellous. For instance the other night she had a pain in her stomach and she likened it to having "a worm in a satellite dish".........???? words fail me occasionally (not often but occasionally!)......
So I recounted to her my father's old joke: "I know a man with huge fingers and enormous palms....one day he hopes to grow dates!"

Talking of palm trees and dates.......I was going to tell you the latest story from one of our dive centres in Egypt but I'll save that for another time. Instead I dedicate these little fabulae (stories) to my Father (Mr. Morose) for Father's Day on Sunday.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Sleep Glorious Sleep

My husband regularly goes to bed late. I always have good intentions to get tucked up early but it rarely happens. Last night went thus: fell into a profound, blissful sleep at 12.30am. Cries and wails awoke me at 3.30am. It was Stand-in Prince: "SiP" whose sleep patterns have always been wonky to say the very least. (Last year I almost lost my marbles due to lack of sleep so daddykins took over SiP wake-up duty.) Daddykins got up to get him. I know this because I hid under my bedcovers until everything went quiet. Coward that I am. (Daddykins, is in exile, until we get his Flintstone-like snoring sorted out.) 5 minutes later I heard more wailing and cries of "mum, mum" so I crawled out of bed, listened in the hallway...heard nothing but golden silence so I gratefully dived under the duvet.

4am Princess got up and crashed in (boys go to boys, girls go to girls...seems to be the pattern) with a "tummy pain". I honourably gave her one of my hot water bottles and got her back into her bed. I crossed myself and my fingers. "Please, please, go back to sleep" I muttered under my breath.

4.30am Daddykins and SiP came in. SiP needed me I was informed. Daddykins fled silently to his own warm bed. SiP fidgeted for half an hour. Got up to warm up some milk. He slept. 30minutes later Princess jumps on the bed, bouncing and announcing "tummy pain, tummy pain" joyfully. SiP woke up. And so the table tennis-like night continued until both parents got up feeling like the Titanic had fallen on them. Please, pretty please, can anyone let me know when we get to have normal nights again? I need to know and very soon!

Monday, 9 June 2008

An Elephant in the Room

Why is it? That when there's "an elephant in the room"....instead of avoiding the subject I go and merrily blurt it out or mention something very similar to it? (Diplomacy is not a strong point in our family as you may have already guessed.)

Why, oh, why is it always me?...putting my foot into my very big mouth!

(And I always stress about what I have said, for minutes, hours, days, months afterwards........)

A Head's up on Hadrian's "heads"

Bronze head of the Roman Emperor Hadrian (r.AD117-138), once part of a complete, larger-than-life-size. 2nd century AD. Found in the River Thames at London Bridge, in 1834

Last Saturday was the second last day of Hadrian's Head at the Wallsend/Segedunum exhibition. I'd been meaning to go and see "Hadrian's Head" for ages. I knew that I had to go and see it returned to London at the British Museum. It was a wonderfully sunny day so I decided to go for it with the two little ones in tow. Wallsend (Sting's home town) is relatively easy to find. From the West you turn right off "the Coast Road" (A1058) and then head for the Tyne. Likewise from the East you turn left...it is incredibly easy to get there. There's also a local "Metro" station...which is Tyneside's very own version of London's "Tube". Parking is free and right outside the Museum. The staff are very helpful and as it is a small museum it is simple to get around.

Following on from
expatmum's recent lavatorial themed posts I think I should mention that Segedunum has the only example of a Roman loo found in Britain. There is also a reconstructed Roman Bath House which shows how the Romans were not too bothered about having any loo privacy i.e. they literally all mucked in together. I stupidly left my camera in the car and as it was so hot and the children were being pretty good I decided not to disturb the equilibrium. Jamie Shafer has put together some excellent photos of Segedunum which are all self explanatory. In Photo No. 6 of The Bath House there is also a picture of "Hadrian's Head" and whilst not immediately apparent...it bears an amazing similarity to that of Charles Clarke MP (see above). From my children's point of view the Roman exhibition was a bit too "high brow" for them. Not surprising as they are still very young. However for slightly older children (say 6 upwards) there are exhibits which will keep them amused: there are computer screens with archeology games; they can dress up as Romans and there is a small part about how the Romans approached medecine. There is a very small cafe there which offers sandwiches and cakes (I would advise you to bring your own supplies if your kiddie winks have special food desires/wants/needs). There were other exhibitions there which we didn't get to see such as the Egyptology one which would be a great hit with children. One point to think about is that this may be a museum to do first before seeing other bits of the Wall as there is not much left of the fort compared with say the Roman remains at Vindolanda, Chesters, Birdoswald and so forth. Nevertheless as children always like discussion of toiletry habits then a visit to Segedunum is worth it purely for the Bath House and the Latrines alone! (I've also vowed never to leave my camera behind again.)

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Life's a ball

At bedtime yesterday evening (even after he'd been sick for the second time - he has this horrible vomiting bug) my 19 month old son still managed a few smiles. Although his language is still largely undeveloped his sense of humour is encyclopedic.

My husband and I are still amazed at how much our daughter ("Princess") gravitated towards pink and princessydom from the age of about 9 months onwards (without any help from ourselves)...and from the age of 14 months our little boy ("Stand-In Prince") kicked a ball about with abandon. When he found cars he instantly made "brrrumm, brrumm" noises and he now runs to make "toot, toot" sounds every time he hears the train rattle past in the distance. But his ball is still his far and away most favourite object .

So at yesterday's bedtime...Stand-In Prince pointed to his posters and spotted a ball..."baall" he pronounced and smiled at me. He saw an orange on the chart "baall" he said, then he caught sight of something circular and inevitably "baall" came out. He chuckled and then pointed at me: "baall" he opined. (I know I've put on a few pounds after his birth...is he trying to drop me a hint? Aaaggghhh!). I uttered"baall" and pointed to him. Thus the "baall" exchange continued and so we carried on giggling into the early evening light.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Another Brick in the Wall...

4 weighing scales, 27 flower vases, 6 maybe 7 children's car seats, 5 Hi-Fis but only 9 speakers (?), 40+ mugs (i.e. us!), plus books and books and books and books (the last ones stay...I hate getting rid of books.) etcetera, etcetera, etcetera........ Five "past" lives into one house won't go.... There's my husband's past life's possessions before he met up with me, there's my past life's impedimenta "stuff/belongings" before I met up with him, our life together in Egypt and then our life together here when all our other "stuff" was in boxes plus now we have our current life in this latest house in this "on the Wall" location.

We moved into this medium sized house in January. We had a small house in a town ten minutes away from here which we are still trying to sort out. (We looked at plenty of large sized houses for two to three years but did not have a large sized wallet to pay for one. There was me thinking that only houses south of, well, "South" had big price tags on them! Sigh.) Nevertheless we are very happy here. After travelling all over the place I finally feel that I am at home.
But to continue....My husband's parents used to dabble a bit in the antique trade....so we have boxes of stuff from them. We recently acquired things from my Grandfather who is now living with my parents. Need I say more? So now we are trying to cut down on "Stuff". This is not going to be easy considering how much I hate packing. What to choose? What to choose? What to choose? (Did I hear someone mutter "Brick" and "Wall"?)......I fancy we could be here for some time..............Tea anyone?

Where has all the time gone?

Aaaaagghh! Only two and a bit weeks to go before we leave for Italy. We are driving over (via the ferry to Holland from North Shields) and seeing friends in Germany along the way. That's going to be interesting as my German is eine kleine non-existent. Wunderbar.

Bills to pay. Presents to wrap. Birthday cards to send out. Clothes to pack (along with the kitchen sink). Letters to send (that have been festering in my in-tray for months) - largely regarding things that have gone kaput. I do a big line in KAPUT "BROKEN"!!**!! (more of which anon). I'm supposed to have done the accounts for last year for our business by now....oh dearie me...what can the matter be? Answer: No time. There is absolutely, my darlings, not enough time.

Monday, 2 June 2008

A walk to School past Thirlwall Castle

This is the view we have on our twenty minute walk to School. Aaah! the daily slog and the daily grind....unbearable isn't it?