Sunday 26 October 2014

1994 Cornwall - lost socks and steam trains

Lots of things happen to socks in our house.  There are never the same number of socks in the washing machine at the end of the cycle as there were at the beginning.  I think washing machines use electricity and odd socks to run their wash cycles. If for some reason they don't get enough socks to eat they sulk and refuse to work.

Secondly there is the dreaded sock beetle.  Jim often finds holes in both ankles of a pair of socks around the ankle bone level.  It looks for all the world as if something has eaten through all four layers of sock in one go.  The holes match in size and everything!  Sock beetles are invisible and immune to mothballs.  We did theorise that Jim has unusually sharp ankle bones, but when we checked, they looked pretty normal.

Thirdly, for some reason, young children dislike wearing shoes in the garden, but also prefer to have warm feet, so they wear socks out.  This also wears the bottoms out of the socks.  White socks go a very sorry shade of grey almost immediately and no amount of washing will shift it.  I think when the children were small we kept that town in China (where the world's socks are made) in business all by ourselves.

They had a wonderful fort for the children to play in at this hotel.  It was much bigger than I have drawn it, big enough for grown up people to play in with their kids, should they be so inclined, without banging their heads.  It wasn't really pushchair friendly though.  The boys ran off some of their energy and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Strictly speaking all boys should love trains.  Ours did too, but mainly from the outside.  Once they were inside and going along, I suppose to them it seemed much like any other train journey, apart from the armchairs. In this picture, Jim was away in the restaurant car getting everyone snacks and coffee.  Such a helpful husband!

Personally I love steam trains.  I think they are the most romantic way to travel, and I adore the noises - hisses, hoots and whistles - which punctuate the journey.  I would jump at the chance to drive one myself, but it seems unlikely that I ever will.  The engines are so huge and exciting, all full of fire and steam and smoke.  I enjoy looking at all sorts of engines - there is a lovely steam museum in Brentford ( The London Museum of water and steam) where you can go and watch the giant water pumping engines in full swing.  Wonderful!  But you really need children as an excuse to go and visit such places, otherwise, somehow, it tends not to happen.

"Daddy's train" was the one he commuted up to London on every day.  It was not exciting.

Jim's Mum tried to be soothing.  I wasn't feeling soothed and had to keep my teeth together to stop myself saying something unsuitable.  Clara had just cried for 20 minutes squirming on my lap, then dirtied her nappy and thrown up all over me.  It was more relaxing because Clara was happy and skippy again, but I smelled of baby poo and sick.  Never pleasant aromas.

The view was lovely though and we had the terrace to ourselves, mainly due to the screaming and the aforementioned aromas.  I think Jim got us a cup of tea just after this, which was very diplomatic of him.

Jim is a natural provider and nurturer.  His answer to any crisis is, "I'll put the kettle on", and "would you like to stay for dinner?"  This is often closely followed by a request for me to fix the crisis.  He has this charming idea that I can fix anything, and that a good meal will help.  He is very good at acting as support and commissary, so we make a good team.

Friday 10 October 2014

1994 Cornwall - anyone for tennis?

We never had much luck with kites.  I always think that Charlie Brown's kite eating tree is real and has extended its hold to all of the natural world.  The ground eats kites, so do bushes, dogs, sheep, other people and sometimes other kites.  They have to be strong to be flown at all, because they hit the ground so very fast.

Still, the boys loved going kite flying, partly because they loved to see a really good kite smash!  It was really windy that day.  The kite did not make it home.

Once we had a lovely little booklet with patterns for kites. We made them all with the tissue paper and straws that came with the booklet.  I think they needed a specially moderate wind tunnel to fly in, with strict speed control on the wind.  They certainly couldn't manage to stay together in a gentle breeze.  We did try blowing them up in the air at home with the fan heater, but they still disintegrated and fell like little moths.  I can't understand how Mr Banks in Mary Poppins did it.  Maybe he should make a video?

Jim's Mum had a bad angina attack in the night.  The doctor was really cute and helpful.  Yes he did make this joke.  The lady from the hotel was also lovely and we all went back to bed at about 4 am with a mug of horlicks (malted milk).

When we were woken at the usual time by Clara and the boys champing at the bit for their breakfast, we certainly didn't want to rise and shine, but we were terribly impressed when we stumbled from our room and shambled into breakfast. The lady who made us the horlicks was there on duty, bright eyed and bushy tailed despite having only had 3 hours sleep.  That's what I call fortitude!

Sleep deprivation is no stranger to most parents.  I was horrified to find that I was expected to function whilst hallucinating from lack of sleep when I first had Sam.  It was so different from the calm and orderly world of the office, where tea breaks and lunch were interspersed with periods of concentrated effort and productive work.  I can remember feeling proud if I got dressed before Jim came home. . .

Jim's mum was not an active person, as I may have mentioned, but she was a pretty competent table tennis player. I was not.  I have never been any good at ball games.  I can manage badminton because the shuttlecock moves slowly some of the time so I can leap into place and swipe at it.  Even so I could not return fast shots or hit anything at all with any degree of certainty.

A few years ago, Jim and I used to go out and play ordinary tennis.  We stopped when we noticed that other much older people were so much better than us and that they could return balls over the net.  The best time was when we found a tennis court on one of our holidays, in the field behind our cottage.  We had fun hitting the balls at each other and one day we even managed a rally! How cool is that? After two weeks we were almost good enough to play in public, but winter came and we lost our nerve.  Back to tea and cake instead!

Wednesday 15 January 2014

1994 Cornwall - relaxing in the jacuzzi

Clara had arrived in April so we thought it would be a good idea to head off to Cornwall again (not too far with a new baby).   We took Jim's mum along as she was widowed and didn't get out much.  We stayed in a family friendly hotel with children's activities.  As they go it was pretty good, but I seem to remember that breakfast was the best meal.  Dinners were geared to "nursery tea" so not really the long, candlelit, gourmet feasts one would wish for in a hotel.

I was suffering from post-baby elasticated waist syndrome...  Baggy T shirts over the waistband helped to disguise the fact that I still looked pregnant.  Ah the joys of the third baby!  Life just suddenly becomes too busy for Kegel exercises.  After George was born I still had this crazy idea that it wouldn't alter my physique being a second time mother.  I was deluded enough to try a cartwheel 12 weeks after he was born.  Oops.  Torn ligaments in the pelvis are interestingly painful, especially coupled with "You did what?  What were you thinking of?!" From the doctor.

Sam had developed the habit of trying to get George to do the things that he would be afraid to do himself.  George was so full of bounce and hero worship that he often didn't notice in time.  He loved Sam with a totally trusting and uncritical devotion.  How sweet.  It was bound to wear off eventually, but not yet a while.

Life gets incredibly more complicated with three children than with two.  Someone once told me it is because you haven't got enough hands to hold them all down at once.  I suspect that is part of it.  I felt terribly odd and even maybe a little bit guilty sitting in the jacuzzi while Jim (who still cannot swim)  watched them in the children's pool.  There were life guards as well so it was OK.  Jim's mum had the baby because she thought she had to sit down a lot with her angina.  Actually,  she would have been better getting a tad more exercise, but there you go.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing.  At the time we were under the impression that her heart had to be rested all the time.  We even took her to the beach and she sat in the car because the sea air was not good for it.

It doesn't always rain in Cornwall, even on our holidays.  We found a lovely sunny beach on the other side of the peninsula.  The beauty of Cornwall is that whatever the weather locally, you can generally find a beach somewhere within 20 minutes drive which is in sunshine.  I think it is something to do with the cliffs, which are up to 200 ft high, the Atlantic/English Channel on one side and the Irish sea on the other and the prevailing south westerly winds blowing in from the Atlantic.  Mixes things up a bit!

On the other hand, you can decamp to a gloriously sunny beach, settle the children, change into the swimsuit and break out the picnic, only to be deluged by a sudden squall which appears out of nowhere.  We used to take a huge plastic sheet and huddle under it until the rain passed.  It had the benefit of clearing the beach of all but the most hardened people - great for surfing just after the shower has passed, before the crowds return.  People have no staying power in my opinion.

A bit of rain never hurt anyone...