Saturday, 31 May 2008

An Average day in the life of tattyhousehastings family...

Will share, alongside move to portugal et al in blogging world my own average day, but please note am not always this boring, just on a mean average...

6am - Children start jumping on us, we pretend they are asleep until finally giving in at about 7am
7am The telly goes on (the shame!), we're utterly rubbish at being hippies/simple living types really (do try honestly though)
Then we have showers, eat breakfast of hideously bad junk like Coco Pops or when we've run out of them a sort of compromise of Shreddies or Fruit and Fibre. N.b breakfast cereals in our house do not get eaten unless they contain sugar.
7.30 Daddy goes to work
7.45am I have a coffee and an argument with the children about who gets to squeeze in next to me on my chair.
8-9am The children get dressed, and washed. Oh, yes it really really takes that long!
9am We walk to nursery, and drop off one or both children.
9.30am Back home for me, possibly another coffee (I need many coffees), check e-mails, blog, then;
wash up
clean kitchen
make beds
open all curtains (why oh why is this so boring to do)
put washing out to dry
put another wash on
do some random housework that looks very needed like iron, or change sheets, or sometimes even hoover/dust and clean bathrooms.
11.30 Walk to nursery, pick up one or two children
12 noon - Get home, make lunch, have lunch, wash up
Sit down for a bit
2pm Play something with the children, do art activities, make monsters, have friends over for coffee or go the shops/park/library but avoiding the Giant Hill.
4.30pm Wash up again, think about dinner, make dinner, set the table, get washing in and then.
6pm Daddy is home. Have dinner, wash up, tidy kitchen
6.30pm Children have baths, book then bed
7pm Glass of wine or water depending on how healthy/broke we are and a nice sit down!

Gosh, average day is bit boring, will mix it up a bit for this last term of Ol being at nursery and make sure we have some fun days out...oh, and have also decided I need some more fun times of my own so will need to make some money (hello e-bay!) for nights out, and trips up to London. Need some more art galleries and museums (though am bit tired of Science Museum still, do love it though if floor of engines could somehow be avoided).

That's all for tonight, am off for a glass of water. The fun! The excitement! Might even make it a beer as it is Saturday.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Why can't all town trees be short and manicured?

I'm feeling like the garden is closing in on me at the moment. Everytime I go and sit outside it seems like other people's giant trees are getting closer and closer, and are blocking out our sun. I'd love to take a giant chain saw to them, and cut them in half. Of course I know this is un-green and probably unkind. Not the least to the neighbours who, I imagine love the giant green light suckers in their garden.

Perhaps its because we're in town that its particulary unbearable, think if I was Maid Marion living in Sherwood with lovely Robin (particularly him of the new telly programme) I would love the trees. Or even if I had a great big vista of countryside with some trees in the distance. But not overshadowing, my not giant back garden!

Like many other issues, this was not a problem in the city, I could see more sky in my own garden. Even if that sky was clouded over with smog, daylight sucking trees did not steal my sky. Smaller gardens meant that giant trees would simply be a whole back yard in Leyton, so I guess they got mutilated/trimmed/chopped down.

Can I start a new campaign to get the trees out of town? Will it be popular? Or am I just a tree Nazi?

Friday, 23 May 2008

Violet in colour, and in smell

I have discovered violet this week, it grows in a big bush type thing, which has nice Japanese style branches, and lots of, well, violet coloured flowers. We're so lucky to have this gorgeous shrub in our garden, and its' gone floral crazy this year. Plus, and this is the amazing bit, it actually smells like violet!

For those of you, like me, who had no idea what violet smells like, well its almost exactly the same as the Parma Violet sweets of the seventies, but less sickly. It's brilliant, and cut actually scents our living room.

This, therefore, is a joy of our downshifted life, we really do have time to stop and smell the roses/violets. (Roses still a bit weedy, although violent beheading and chopping I undertook last year seems to have done them the world of good).

I just adore nature, well the nice smelling bits, clearly still not so keen on slugs, snails, spiders, badger and fox poo, and finally definitely against bindweed.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Eurovision starts tonight...

And look at how organised/Euro mad some people are...(am just jealous really). Loving the Euro goody bags...

It's just so hard for me to be poor

Went to visit a friend in his lovely new executive apartment at Kingston at the weekend. Was lovely, and executive like, although full of similar people. Then had a look around the shops, to inspire sofa shopping. I lost myself in Heals, I should go there everyday and pick up darling little bits, from scrummy patterned napkins, to smart teacups, to beautiful and so so comfy sofa's. It reminded me of why I used to work really hard actually, although sadly did not live around the corner from Heals, so was limited to odd darling napkin purchase.

Miss it quite a lot.

Then yesterday, as we cancelled our lovely vegetable box due to being away I went up to the greengrocers to get some fruit and eggs. I was delighted to see eggs for £1.65 for twelve so bought them and ate two for my tea. Later that evening lovely husband re-read the box, and said that they were actually barn eggs. Was quite upset. Then had a look at the box myself, it had fooled me by saying get 3 free, which on a glance looked like free range (honest - it does) but worse, there was a code inside which said they were caged hens! Caged hens have the space of about a piece of A4 paper to live on their whole lives, are unable to move, are riddled with diseases and are kept like a piece of machinery. I'm so upset with myself.

I was so upset last night, I kept feeling ill, and so upset this morning could not look at the frying pan. It's the first time in my knowledge I've ever bought the wrong eggs, from the sad chickens as Ollie would say, and I'll never make that mistake again. So sad chickens, we feel bad, and are very sorry we perpetrated some more sadness in your life.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Suitability of Enid Blyton novels for today's children and how much adaption is useful

So Disney has re-made the Famous Five, now showing as a cartoon on their digital channel. I'm very excited to see it, so much so that I'm afraid I've not only Sky plus'd it, I've series linked it. Of course I'm almost certain of disappointment. Waiting and watching the English dramatisation of Famous Five, on I think, ITV as a child, was a big upset for me. It also proved my mum's theory right for me, that all ITV telly was rubbish (sorry ITV, but this was the '70's do understand things have moved on).

Then obviously there was the Comic Strip version, again this was a surprising TV experience for me as a die hard Famous Five fan. It really just enhanced my enjoyment of their food enjoying, sexist lifestyle so all good.

We've also got a Secret Seven story CD, which provides hours of entertainment for the grown ups; 'well he is rather queer Julian', and for the children. Wonderful, but as many of you will remember the Secret Seven were always a bit more, well boring, compared to the Famous Five. They were young and spent most of their days eating biscuits in a garden shed wearing home made badges, whereby the Famous Five nipped around the islands and West Country on their bikes, eating yummy tomatoes and drinking ginger beer whilst camping on their own. That is when they weren't packed off to boarding school to learn their place in life.

But its a hard one, I know it has racist, sexist, classist, and well, just plain unpleasant bits in but...and its a big but, I devoured everything Enid wrote and I think I've turned out ok. As has most of our generation. The dodgy bits seemed to just go straight over our heads, as I imagine any 'preachy' bits of fiction did. (Am still amazed to learn that The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Secret Garden were very very Christian novels! Went right over my head.

So do we sanitise the novels, as has happened to the Noddy books, and in doing so lose some of the true evil of the characters, for in changing the golliwogs to goblins they are less nasty. And part of the reality of the books is having some very naughty characters, which does teach young children about some of the mean behaviour they will encounter at school in life and is thus worth keeping. Or can we not just literally substitute words for more acceptable ones? I'm in favour of the latter, I want to keep the goblins, but for them to be truly horrible. I want to keep the scary face at the caravan window in Famous Five, but for it to just be white, or dirty, but not black as night. I want to keep the queer sorts in Secret Seven though for posterity though please.

Most of all I'm looking forward to the childen discovering Moonface and the Faraway Tree, and the Naughtiest Girl in the School, then for J, the twins at St Clare, and Mallory Towers. All of the books deserve a place in a modern child's bedroom, just supplemented with some in depth discussions (no not more talking about serious things Mummy!) about their historical context. Oh, and about Enid's strange view of the world.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

'Fun' for Free

Ever since becoming a one salaried family, we've been in a permanent state of having to manage our money extremely well. The children and I have developed a number of things we do or could do if we were full of energy everyday, which are fun and dubiously educational.

This is my top ten list:

1. Playing in the garden, we made up a new game yesterday which is fantastic in the sun. Mummy lies on the sunlounger with a water squirter (for some reason I think they are ok, if we don't call them pistols), then the children run around very quickly and I try and 'catch' them with my water. At least forty five minutes of fun for me, no, all of us!

2. Making the Bed Fun - this is a national holiday in tattyhouse, with the children licenced to sort out all their tedddies, jump on duvets and pillows and make nests. Oh, and eventually the beds get made. n.b. if in a hurry, I just sneak off and do it on my own.

3. Watching a Film and Popping Corn. We love to make pop corn from scratch and none of us can resist taking the lid off the saucepan in the manic popping phase 'just to check'. Then settling down on the sofa/bean bags and watching a childrens favourite or a mummy favourite like Sound of Music or High School Musical.

4. Cutting out shapes from magazines, to decoupage or to just stick everywhere we can. We all love to cut.

5. Doing the gardening, weeding especially popular with children particularly the sticky weed. And we have plenty of sticky weeds to last as long as the interest is there. Ol quite enjoys pulling the bind weed up too, but that really is a never ending job. I just love to prune things.

6. Walking to the shops and buying sweeties and comics, this is possibly my favourite. Although as regular readers to tattyhouse will know, I'm almost definitely too old for sweeties and could not face admitting to breaking another tooth on a tooty frooty.

7. Having friends over to play, mummies get to drink a coffee in (sometimes) peace and when all works well children get more like them to play with. We often find that visiting children are just happy sorting through toys, as our our children at friends' houses. Hours of OCD amusement for them. Which leads me to:

8. Sorting things out, whether its all the little Lego men in a separate box from the blocks, to making sure all the t-shirts in the drawers fit, to sorting the linen cupboard its all absorbing. Lovely husband is, I know slightly bemused by my sorting, and the children's sorting fun, but we like it, and even better know others like us. My favourite sorter is a friend who has even managed to categorise the endless cars by size. I'm looking forward to sorting my buttons by colour one day.

9. It's got to be in here somewhere, watching TV and playing playstation, latter for no longer than an hour, former has on occasion lasted a whole pyjama morning. Which is ok, because we do stop and have discussions about getting dressed, the post, the programmes, and well, who sits where.

10. Lying in each others beds. I'm especially keen on this when a bit tired. Basically game is grown up gets in childrens bed, i.e. bunk beds and children have to entertain with books, toys. hopefully not dances and so on. Love it, a lie down and some nice cuddly toys.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Bad mood bear

Gosh, I'm cross this morning, have been feeling really ill, and super tired so went to bed early last night. Came down to a scene of some carnage this morning, last nights' dinner saucepans and plates needing washing up, noisy cartoons on telly, no clean breakfast bowls, no milk for cereal or coffee (apparently milkman does not come on a Wednesday).

Children then went upstairs for a joint toilet visit, which all I'll say about that is it went Wrong. Daughter refused to put on any clothes apart from cardigans. Course cardi's are great in their own right, but tried, and failed to get a dress or skirt on her. She's just come downstairs looking like Brit in a mad phase, with trackie bottoms, and an open cardi on. She tells me its ok because look, I've got knickers on!

Lovely husband says he was 'gonna' wash up later. I say we're not teenagers, and should not be putting things off. Cross, cross, cross.

Oh, and yesterday went to see doctor, but got day wrong, apparently I booked appointment for Thursday, now grumpy with self for that, was also bit embarrassing.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Dreaming of Hemel Hempstead

Just had a dream I was working in Hemel Hempstead bus station, am truly going back to my roots in my sleep. Hemel, as we affectionately used to call it was the nearest town to me, whilst growing up. I was very determinately not a proper Hemel girl, rather a 'emel girl lite. Once I worked in a pizza place, a pub and had a couple of 'emel blokes. Fortunately I never learnt to say chocolate in the local way; cho'late but I did enjoy the delights of shopping in the Marlowes, going to the Living Room club, and loved the pubs in the old town. I even went out with a boy from the notorius Grove Hill estate. Luckily he was more obsessed with drawing pictures of Stevie Wonder than joining the family business of making fake fifty pound notes. He did wear a lot of gold jewellery though.

In my dream I was busy working in the bus station, next to the market, can't remember what I did, but it involved leaflets as the walls were stacked with them. It's quite typical really as growing up in a village without a car, much of my earlier memories involve buses, waiting for them, being on one, reading their numbers for old ladies (now I suspect this was a technique to make us read and stop us moaning about being bored as all little old ladies from Hertfordshire can't have all been very short sighted).

Made me quite fancy going back to Hemel for a visit though, particularly as someone told me there is one nice shop open in the Marlowes. Always was one nice shop there though, first it was Chelsea Girl, then a lovely alternative designer y dress and bag shop.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

The sun has got his factor 15 on

Busy week, we've had one child drawing on every single beige/cream carpeted stair with a pink felt tip pen, one child being admitted to our preferred school (thank god), one day trip to the seaside, one tea date, one afternoon in the park, several visits from the milkman, oh and two parental hair cuts.

The pen on the carpet incident was serious, lovely darling monster voiced (at times) little girl was cross because I was talking to a lady about hosting students so decided to prove me as an unsuitable mummy. I was shocked when we reached the stairs, but just about held it together to laugh (almost) in a little darlings way, and utter wait until your father gets home. Course father did nothing, but I was very cross. Even more so when I discovered the graffiti trampoline later.

Delighted Ol got admitted to the nice local school, even more so as did not have a Plan B as had optimistically assumed he'd get in. However, I think we probably were the absolute edge of the catchment this year, so are very lucky. Just got six months to worry about not crying on his first day now. But at least he had lots of friends at the school so should feel at home.

Seaside was great, made even better by visit to Eastbourne, home of the older person who spends their days sitting on benches watching. Not a bad way to spend your last few years I guess. Luckily we provided some entertainment by suggesting the two year olds waved at some people. They then decided as they were so so important they had to walk very close to the people on benches on the promenade and wave in their faces until the people waved back. Older people were divided in loving the cute kids, and thinking they'd rather stick two fingers up at precociousness but being held back by societal expectations of older people.

Finally, have cut lovely daughters hair. Let's just call it a punishment for drawing on the carpet. The fringe in particular is rather on the minimal side, and makes her look, well like her face is a bit big for her head ( sorry J!). Still as Ol says even for someone with such a little head she can eat a lot of chocolate.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Burn the Green Hippy Man

We've had a lovely day here in tattyhouse, we've put the washing on the line. Always a treat, as still love the way in smells of the country, rather than pollution out of the city, and we've been to the burn the giant green bush man festival in the town. It is the largest festival of morris dancers, and giant people and well, dancing bush's.

There are also quite a few slightly, well actually quite scary morris groups, who dress in black and as raven's and goats. Am not sure why they are alternative ones, but they all dance along quite happily with the more usual village ones. So all very lovely, and very South Coast.

Could not face going to see the burning of the Green Man at the Castle, as it seemed a little reminiscent of the Wicker Man, and although I used the excuse Ol was scared (he was), actually I'm a little scared of pagan burn fests, and worried there might be spooky singing. Or shouts of Burn Hippy Burn.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

A pinta a day..makes you thin

I wish.

Anyway, am absolutely tremendously tired of having to scrabble around to have enough milk for children, students and my coffee in the mornings. If I'm terribly honest, like a true addict my coffee is the most important thing to me, so when the children use up all the milk in their healthy cereal I do feel quite bitterly resentful. It's mine mine mine. Even more so when after they drink all their own whole milk they resort to our semi skimmed and use it all up.

This amount of bitterness and addiction in the morning can't be healthy, and anyway its a nightmare walking to the shops in your pyjamas around here. Apparantly some people notice and think you are slightly weird/lazy/slovenly depending on how smart your pj's are.

So I've decided to go back to milk deliveries, I haven't experienced these since I was a little girl, and used to delight in drinking the top of the milk and having lovely fresh cold bottles on our doorstep each morning. My friend H has milk delivered and says its great, and a brilliant social service, the only problem is its about a pound. Forgot to ask her what is a pound, am assuming not a pint, so maybe she means a day? Either way as they are a family of five that seems ok, I guess.

My mum used to be very political about supporting the local milk delivery service, saying they provided an essential service on checking on older people, providing social contact to isolated people and serving the community. Actually I agree with her, I remember my grandma being very close to her milkman, and him sitting in the corner of her lounge drinking endless cups of tea. Do hope this wasn't a way to increase his profits, but rather a lovely friendship thing.

Anyway, first milk order will be on its way next week. Can't wait!