Thursday 28 November 2013

1993 St Michael's Mount. A toilety day.

This is a day trip we had to St Michael's Mount in Cornwall.  Such a beautiful place to visit, and very interesting.  My sister pointed out afterwards that the young man on the boat to St Michael's Mount was quite handsome and rugged.  Personally I hadn't noticed!  I think I was  busy not dropping the children in the sea!

Sam did his thing again, panicking that one of us would miss the boat, or take too long or something of that nature.  He was such a worry-guts.  George, on the other hand,  seemed to be collecting toilets, or maybe he was affected by the sound of the water, whatever the reason, he needed to go again.  I was meanly making Jim take them to the toilet.  After all they could hardly go in the ladies, could they? (Actually I didn't tell him, but that's where they usually went when he wasn't there).  Consequently Jim was spending more time than he wanted to in the rather sandy and smelly public toilets that seemed to be available at the time in Cornwall.  They are better now thank goodness.

We had a lovely walk around the castle on St Michael's mount - the views are spectacular and - every small boy's dream - there are cannons!

Jim had been to the toilets with the boys and found that they were not terrible.  He had a nice walk and stretched his legs.  He enjoyed the view and altogether he felt the day had been pretty good.

It didn't last.

Children go through many phases as they are growing up.  Working out what presses their adults' buttons is their main aim in life.  As soon as they have worked it out, they press them unmercifully.  Jim always wanted everyone to have a good time, particularly when food was involved.  The boys knew this, so only ever really complained about the food! They didn't do it to me.  I was always a bit of a dustbin, so they knew if they didn't like their food, I would probably eat it, at which stage they would suddenly find it much more appetising.

The causeway we are standing on is only usable at low tide, which is why we had to get on a boat on the way there. In our teens, my sister and I swam from the beach at Marazion to the quayside on St Michael's Mount.  The Cornish sea is not for the fainthearted, being rather chilly even in the height of summer. (After all, it is the Atlantic).  We had a boat as an escort in case we ran out of puff half way, but we made it, despite the strong tide and cold water.

Somehow, looking at it with more adult eyes, we didn't like seeing all the strange creatures and deep dangerous looking rocks which had been underneath us in the water when we swam.  They were always there, but we had pretended they weren't!  In consequence, we both felt quite proud of ourselves, but we never wanted to do it again.

I see Jim is about to have to find another toilet.

Watch out for the next instalment where his life is about to take a bit of a downturn.  (Nothing really serious, for those of you who don't relish cliff hangers with stress!)

Friday 22 November 2013

1993 Cornish tin mines - an indoor day

I don't know about anyone else, but it used to take us ages to get going.  Someone always needed a wee at the last minute when you had just locked up and put their seat belt on properly, or had forgotten some vital piece of equipment George had a stick which had to go everywhere with him - clearly a vital accessory to every outing.  It was invariably unaccountably lost in the garden and like Ratty in Wind in the Willows, he "won't have any other".  In the end we painted it bright red on one of our art days.  He chose the colour and painted it on himself.  At least it was easier to find in the woods.

My sister, being single, had no idea why we took so long and seemed so hopeless and indecisive.  She was very brave about it and only moaned a tiny bit in the privacy of her own bedroom.  Despite her verbal forbearance, I could still hear her thinking!

 I remember Sam being a liability with that fishing net.  He only wanted it with him in the car so he could poke George with it to ease the tedium of the journey.  I put it firmly in the boot - I knew what he was like!

Boxy jackets were in that year I see.  I remember the boys both had little sailor style jackets and blue and white stripey t shirts.  So cute.

Looking at all the moans and groans which I have drawn, despite the fact that we are on holiday, I perhaps ought to explain that we were still in a state of shock after Sam's hospital stay, and although we didn't realise it at the time we were quite low and stressy most of the time.  So was Sam.  He was so keen to pack every experience in and miss nothing.  He was terribly worried that we would be late, or left behind, or miss out in some way.  I suppose now you would call it post traumatic stress, but we didn't notice and just thought we were normal.  We really weren't!

It certainly was a very wet holiday.  Everywhere we went was muddy and as George was still a little unreliable in the toilet department.  We constantly had our eyes peeled for the next facility!

George was totally intrepid in those days.  He still thought he could do anything and would try every activity with total confidence and abandon.  Such a joyful child!

This was the best that we could find in the way of family entertainment in wet weather at the time. It was all outdoors but at least  you could keep your clothes on and get a cup of tea.

George had no notion of steering, but he could sit on the bike and watch people whizzing past and that was enough for him to be ecstatic and want to do it again.

My sister was footloose and fancy free.  Anything in trousers - honestly!


Sam was always keen on the water.  He also had a good sense of things that would hurt if he fell off.  He didn't fall well.  They wouldn't let George on the boats because he was too young. Probably just as well, he wasn't able to swim at that age, and he definitely would have fallen in. Just saying.

The best bit of the visit was the actual mine, in my opinion, but tastes differ and the children preferred the rather insipid fairground style amusements to trekking along in the dark underground.  The mine is still open and is now a part of the Cornish mining world heritage site.  It is also much more visitor friendly.  The horrible amusements have been replaced by interesting children's activities which certainly seemed popular last time I was there.


Saturday 16 November 2013

1993 A Cornish tale - sunburn and showers

In 1993 we decided that Cornwall would be a great place to return to for our holidays.  I spent two weeks there almost every year from the age of two until I left home at 18, and quite a few times after that with Jim before we had children.  My sister Carol came with us for a week.  Our shared experience as children meant we both loved sea bathing, especially on the north coast where the surf can be amazing and the cold water is - shall we say - 'invigorating'.  Jim was not a swimmer then, and is still not a swimmer, despite my best efforts.

The first problem was that the house was dark and damp and Sam was afraid of the bedroom.  Children take against rooms in my experience.  There's no fathoming it.  I was apparently inclined to scream (as a baby) whenever I was taken into the front room of my parents' first flat.  When they changed the curtains I stopped screaming.  Mum was convinced that the black cartwheels on a red background looked like spiders, but why would a babe in arms be afraid of spiders?  As I said, there's no fathoming it, although they were horrible curtains.

The second problem was that it rained.  Constantly.

The boys were terribly excited.  Especially Sam, who had been too compromised by his health to really take part in any kind of physical holiday much before.  George was always terribly excited so you couldn't really see much difference.

My sister is not a morning person, but as we all know, children are.  She bore it bravely.

Her legs are that interesting shade (no exaggeration in the picture) because she determinedly sunbathed even though she was and is a true blonde with very fair un-tannable skin. Sunburn arose, even though it rained, because it was fitfully sunny and windy the first day.  You can get a really nasty sunburn on a Cornish beach in July even in cloudy weather.  Not sure why. Every year she would lie in a state of undress on the windy beach trying to tan, and every year she "overdid it on the first day" and all the other days, if memory serves.

In those far off times, a tan was the thing, and pale skin regarded as sickly and unhealthy.  Mrs James whose boarding house we stayed in for many years, used to look in horror at my naturally rather pasty father as he arrived after a long and stressful drive.  "Well midears" she would say conspiratorially, "us'll soon 'ave 'n lookin better". (Apologies to any Cornish people if I have remembered this incorrectly). She nodded happily as soon as his cheeks became suitably weathered. Tanning lotions were merely oils to fry in.  SPF was not involved.

My poor mum who blistered in the sun, being if possible even blonder, used to sit on the beach sulking under towels and a giant sombrero wearing full length trousers, shirt and socks.  Even then she got a burned nose from the reflection from the sand.  As children we regularly got quite painful burns from the sun.  I am still waiting to see if I get skin cancer!  I was so much more careful with my kids, big swimsuits, sunblock etc, but my sister was incorrigible.

Jim and I insisted on a cup of tea in bed while the boys rushed around playing "ogres and controls" or "brave knights"  which they were deeply into at the time (hence the swords).

The house was a bungalow so there was nothing for George to fall from, except the bunk bed, so he did that.  Fortunately no harm done.  We needed the bedroom lights on even though it was high summer - light at 4am and properly dark only after 10pm.  The house was surrounded by large trees and dripping wet leaves were the main view  a few feet from any window.

Ah! The joys of an English holiday!

Thursday 7 November 2013

Tea time and the 3 Amigos

Here are Sam and George having tea.  George was a messy eater and hated the thought of becoming sticky.  I seem to remember thinking that I could wipe skin or put him in the bath more easily than washing a bib!  I also seem to remember that we got him a rather natty bucket shaped bib which was made of plastic and could be washed up like a plate.

Sam had strange tastes in food.  Garlic pitta bread?  For pudding? I suspect Jim was cooking that evening!  After all, he was home early.

By the way that is a plastic tablecloth.  As my mum would say, probably invented by a woman...

We have redecorated the dining room and gone all blue and white.  I still like blue and white all these years later. The carpet is now in the guest room (of a different house to that one) where Sam now lives as he is back from university and has not found a good job yet. Teenagers are a bit like boomerangs.  You think you have got rid of them but they keep coming back.

When the children first saw the Three Amigos it was an instant hit.  They still laugh at the jokes.  We were surprised to find that my friend's family also loved it as children.  Walking home from work together recently my friend and I suddenly found ourselves bursting into song at the same moment.  The song?  You guessed it -  "My little buttercup". I was even more surprised to find that we were in the same key!

The boys could procrastinate for England.  They would do anything rather than what they had been asked to do.  I suppose most things are more fun than putting on your pyjamas.  George was still addicted to "milk-in-a-bottle-and-warm-please"at this stage.  He was about 3 years old in this cartoon. His bones needed food.  He certainly has a fine crop now.

We had lovely new sofas made (we thought) of leather.  They were in fact not leather, but some awful product called rohide which did not take kindly the counsel of the years.  By the time we moved a few years later, they had become torn and rough textured.  I was so disappointed.

I have since found that no sofa takes our life kindly.

Sam was always a bit lippy.  This was a usual rant.

He had a great thirst for getting every possible activity done, maybe because he had experienced not having enough energy to do things when he was younger. He so hated to wait, that we used to hide the fact that we were going on holiday until we were about to leave.  His face when we woke him in the middle of the night to go to the airport was a picture.  It saved endless questions for weeks in advance - "how many more sleeps until we go?"

George went to bed like a lamb having tired himself out like a puppy on a mission. (Oh dear! Too many similes!) He once saw an episode of Sooty and Sweep about safety.  In it Sweep the dog, who could only squeak, got his ear caught in a door through "running around and being silly".  George was horrified and took it greatly to heart.  He was closely interested in the bandage on Sweep's ear and would react very positively if we told him he was running around, or indeed, being silly.  Sadly he was always getting some part or another caught in doors.  Still does.

So by one stair at a time, up to the top of the house; where they went to bed, and so subsided, to quote Dickens. 

And relax.