Thursday, June 5, 2008

We are going to Andalucia

Oh Andalucia, you seduced me with your powdery beaches.
I've seen photos of a secluded villa with rustic old furniture and an overgrown garden and I,
(as a former plane-phobic) am now longing to board that short haul journey to Malaga, so we can take in the views from our small balcony in Frigiliana and walk the Balcon de Europa at sunset with a chilled glass of something smooth...
update- readers, we went. It was beautiful. We intend to return.

How did it get to June ?

I don't know, but it did.
Time creeps up slowly. One minute I'm scrawling in spidery lead, the next I'm noticing how prominent the veins are on my hands as I tap away in the study on my 21st century computer.
It's science fiction, but look closer and see that it's actual fact.
How in the hell did that happen ?
The fastest years in my life occured after my daughters were born. They came and they went and now just look ... Charlotte is eight and Rebecca is five and I wonder, with a faint sense of pride mingled with melancholic nostalgia, how I managed to emerge ( not entirely ) unscathed from those years ?
How did I do that?
Where the hell did all that time go ?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I blame Barbie

It was my birthday yesterday. I am now 35, which is a strange age.
Too young to be middle-aged, yet too old to be young.
From my thirty second birthday onwards, people have been telling me that I'll be 'forty soon'
Still, I feel young and fresh and happy and I think that's the elixir of life, surely ?
How we feel and think and live is more important than how we age on the outside ?
I'm not quite vain enough for plastic surgery. It would compromise my hidden inner feminist and I don't think the standardised custom-wrapped ideas of what women should look like as they get older are realistic. I've got a responsibility, as the Mother of two young daughters, to encourage their brains. My eldest daughter, who is intelligent beyond her years, developed a worrying fascination with a certain A-list celebrity of the size zero variety. I try to explain that her photos have been airbrushed and her waistline surgically enhanced and her diet probably consists of water and lettuce, but apparently she's 'beautiful, mummy'
I blame those bloody dolls of hers with the pencil thin waists and oversized heads.
She has a couple, given as birthday presents, donning what can best be described as hooker-wear, complete with fishnet stockings, pvc boots and acres of cleavage
( naughty lingerie on show underneath, naturally )
I never had a Barbie as a girl because my Dad, bless his forward thinking principles, thought they set a bad example for girls. Maybe Barbie is the reason I prefer dougnuts to lettuce leaves.
It's Barbie's fault I'm not a svelte size 8.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Computer Says NO !

What is it with the Receptionist at our local leisure centre ?
Surely the whole point of a Receptionist is to welcome customers in, with maybe an air of appreciation and general happiness ? Or, scub that. I don't even need to feel the love. I just need to feel as though I'm not a huge inconvenience, an unwelcome interruption to the chat she's midway through with some nameless person who is not waiting to pay with two impatient children in tow.
I have worked behind a Reception desk before so I know that it is possible to raise a smile and make warm eye contact with strangers all day, even when you're having a particularly horrible day. There is really no excuse I can think of for this unprofessional sulkiness.
I never write complaints letters. I'm not an openly complaining sort of person. Why complain in person when you can save it for your blog ?
The other day I was in front of said Receptionist, waiting to ask an innocent enough question.
I, ( after waiting at least 3 minutes until she lifted her head and acknowledged my existance ) asked about the swimming term and the date/time for my daughter's lessons.
She looked at me as though I'd just told her that I had a really contagious skin disease and wondered if I could still use the pool.
In the most dismissive, bored tone possible, she looked up the details on computer and then asked why I hadn't written them down.
Well, excuse me for being alive !
I said
` you're a bloody Receptionist; why not crack a smile occasionally `
What I actually said was
`silly me, I'm always so forgetful you know`
What's wrong with me ?
Why, when faced with the most ignorant, unhelpful people, I'll always resist the temptation to bite back ? I'm sure the Receptionist would be much better at her job if people actually told her how awful she is. Who knows, she might actually get moved from Reception and they might employ someone who can maniplulate their facial muscles into a realistic and genuine, smile ?
I know, from speaking to Mother's at school, that I'm not alone in feeling this way.
I wonder what they will do with my complaint letter.
I know it wont be the first they've had

Sunday, April 6, 2008

April snow showers

Ok, what happened ?
I know we're all lurking in the shadows of global warming, but snow on April 6th ?
It was almost warm here yesterday, as I sat drinking coffee under the tree in our garden, giggly half dressed girls running around like it was summer or something. So you can imagine my surprise to open the blinds this morning and see a winter postcard shining back, spring flowers struggling under a small carpet of snow.
I''ve been dreaming of an old stone villa nestled between citrus orchards and olive groves somewhere along the Mallorcan coastline. We went to Villamoura in the Algarve last year and snapped up the cheapest villa we could find, which seemed strangely luxurious with its huge pool, private location and huge rooms tastefully decorated.
It was the epitomy of every cliche in every holiday brochure.
The best holidays are those which surpass your expectations, without breaking the bank.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Spring Break

Ah, Spring.
The garden in our new house is small but perfectly formed.
In the corner stands a ceanothus shrub which resembles an oversized bonsai, draped elegantly over a small decking area in dire need of some wood stain.
I think the previous owners deliberately selected plants which would attract butterflies birds and beasties. For the second year running we have blackbirds nesting. Last year they took refuge in some ground level honeysuckle. This year they wised up and moved up a few feet, so no photo opportunities.
When I was hanging out the washing yesterday morning, I spotted a large neon green butterfly float past me and land on a daffodil. The second such sighting this spring. A potted spring picture gone before I could take it in properly or grab my camera. I worry that my newfound appreciation of flora and fauna may signal the start of early middle age. Ten years ago a block paved garden with no grass or plants was my ideal view from the kitchen window.
I neither had the time nor inclination to mow, weed or prune anything.
Look at me now though ! I haven't killed anything in our new garden, but it gets better than that; I've actually introduced some new plants. A potted maple and a few other nameless treats from Homebase still looking healthy, despite me.
I looked at some old snaps of the girls this morning. A photo of Rebecca and I sat outside
`La Chat Noir` in Angouleme, France. She's on my knee and I'm cutting a crepe up for her.
She's three years old in ths snap, not the confident schoolgirl she is now, who runs off to class in the morning with no worried backward glance or homesick pull in my direction.
In the photo she's wrapped around me like a scarf. Children change so fast; we get a new modified version each year. They feel the same as the old version but with some new features added on, especially for you. Nobody else would notice of course, but we always do.

Spring Break

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Wet days and pesky kids

So we ventured into Sainsbury's mid afternoon. It's one of those days when the sun doesn't penetrate the gloom and any attempts to jollify the situation seem somewhat half hearted and insufficient. So, after a few hours of carefully distracting the girls with books, colouring pads, games and anything else not produced by Microsoft or Nintendo, I surrendered to cabin fever and drove to the local supermarket.
Since becoming a Mother eight years ago, I still recoil (every single time) from unsolicited offerings of advice, unless they are useful and productive.
Gems of wisdom differ greatly from the bleeding obvious.
At the counter, having just paid for two comics, I took them away from my girls, telling them to wait until we get home. They look disappointed. Disappointment is part of life, right ?
So the checkout assistant, who looks no older than about seventeen, casts me a disparaging glance and (whilst idling picking her bejewelled nails at the same time) said
` I used to hate it when my Mum did that; I was terrified of her`
And then I got to thinking. Are my daughter's terrified of me for witholding their comics for all of fifteen minutes? Whatever happened to patience? Whatever happened to manners?
I see examples of instant gratification everywhere and have fallen prey myself.
Most people think me too soft and indulgent, rather than bolshy and unfeeling.
I remember what 'terrified' me when I was growing up. The threat of a hard hand across the back of my legs.
Kids today. Don't know they were born I tell ya.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Why am I starting a blog ?
Well, having an annoying tendancy to jot down thoughts on the back of old Christmas cards and then lose them soon after, I thought it safer. Wherever I go, whatever I do.. my words will remain forever in some tiny corner of cyberpsace. It's a comforting, reassuring thought.
I am no ditzy Bridget with my head perpetually stuffed into in some self-help tripe and my heart planning some eco-trip to Mali. Camping = dirt and I like to stay clean.
I am not called Sharon and I am not 29.
I don't talk about sex in public ( the public airing of my sex life as opposed to chatting about having sex in the open air, just to clarify ) so if you're looking for a risque read, go elsewhere.
I am 34 and I live in Bedfordshire which is a Shire County. Naturally.
I have two daughters, aged 5 and 8. They are mostly sweet natured and affable but can be impossibly strong willed and awkward.
Wonder where they got that from then ?
My eldest had her ears pierced at the age of 6 and this is what I wrote when we returned home:

Forever altered

She is forever altered.
Diamond studs glint dully in the freshly damaged flesh,
like a cautious warning of hurried youth.

Perfect skin stapled for the function of beauty,
on my exquisite daughter, who is barely six years old
and unmoved as she grins at my troubled face.

All the begging finally paid off.
and my defeat is lost in her utter bliss
as she fingers the foreign metal in her ear

and ponders on some new unrealized wish.
`Don’t worry Mum, it didn’t hurt an inch`, she explains
with a faraway laugh, as she strokes my hand.

`Oh good; what a brave little girl you are`.
If only she could really understand.
She is forever altered.

Not wanting to favour number 1 offspring, here's something I penned for number 2:

Between a Mother and her daughter

She is smiling in the shadows, eyes wide open
Her scent is sweet cocoa powder sugar
As she grabs a strand of my hair whilst curling her legs around my waist

And I think:

This daughter of mine will leave here one day
And no one else, no one, will ever know how extraordinary she is.
There is a moment of recognition in those thick lashed hazel eyes;
As she smiles and cups my chin in her baby girls hands

She is so comfortable, so content.

And I think:

If this moment could be preserved
Forever; if every miniscule detail could be vacuum packed, potted and preserved
So that it might be reproduced at some later date to appreciate properly;
Oh, how sweet that would be!