Friday, 19 September 2014

Eggs and Bears

Half way through September and it feels like Summer is here to stay.  Fruit has ripened and wizened on it's branches as the sun beats down and scorches the earth.  Barely any rain has fallen for weeks on end but for some unknown reason, my garden is thriving.  Flowers are in abundance, sweetcorn is fattening and next years allium bulbs are pushing up through the parched ground.  The children leave for school dressed in long sleeved shirts and thick jumpers but return home with knitwear stuffed in bags and shirts hanging out.  The days are hot and the nights heavy.  It is blissful and I love every minute!

The fruitless search for a job continues to no avail.  I have put the whole thing to one side for the time being; it is way too depressing.  Anyway, just as I am getting used to not doing the school run at each end of the day, Pea will be starting her study leave next week, so I will be fetching her from school at lunchtime twice a week.  Proof positive that I am still needed to ferry my children around.

H2 is settling well in his new school and on the whole seems to be enjoying it.  He has been invited to join the after school drama group, also starting next week and on the same night as my line dancing class.  If I juggle things about a bit and eat my tea in very small bites, I can just about manage to do it all.  I really don't want H2 to miss out on something he may love but neither can I give up line dancing.  I absolutely love it and it is fair to say I am completely addicted to it.  I dance about at home, practising the new dances we have learnt.  The boys banish me to the kitchen saying I am way too embarrassing to do it in the lounge where I can be seen.  The kitchen is quite small, so I have to keep my steps tight in order to fit them in without crashing into the cupboards or kicking the washing machine.  Better than not doing it at all though and it really lifts my spirits, even if they are not really flagging in the first place.  Half an hour of dancing is seriously good exercise but it gives such a huge buzz.  That alone has a massive benefit to health.

 The children and I have been looking after our neighbour's hens this week and in payment we have been allowed to keep all the eggs.  Oh my! We must have had about 40 by now.  H1 makes pancakes almost every night, I have made my You-Know-What cake, baked a rather large egg custard tart and made a chocolate courgette loaf and still we have more than we know what to do with.  Fortunately they keep for a few weeks, so I'm sure a bit more baking will solve the problem.

All this lovely sunshine is keeping my garden blooming.  The sweet peas are going on and on, no matter how many bunches I pick for the house and to give away.  I love pottering about in the garden with a bucket and a pair of scissors, dead heading the cornflowers, calendula, cosmos and sweet peas.  They really appreciate it and reward our efforts with more blooms and buds for weeks on end.  It is such a relaxing task after the heavy jobs of the Spring.  The weeds are still growing, but I am not taking much notice of them now.  They are easy enough to pull out as the ground is so dry but I don't make it my life's work to have a weed free garden.  There are so many crickets and grass hoppers, I would be depriving them of a home if I pulled everything out.  Pea and I have bought a few daffodil and tulip bulbs to plant this weekend and I have a long list of things the boys can help with; much to their obvious disgust.  The drive needs weeding (that I do bother about) and there is a load of bind weed climbing it's way heavenward through the trees.  All manly stuff the boys can do without needing to have a thorough knowledge of all things botanical.

Despite the heat and the sun there is a very strange feeling in the air.  I met a bear the other day - well not a real bear, but a man who is quite big and has kind eyes.  He gives the impression that if he enveloped you in a bear hug, you would be quite happy to spend all eternity snuggled against his chest and never want to come up for air.  He was hopping about like a child saying he would have driven me mad by Christmas.  Why?  I wondered.  'Do you like Christmas then?'  I asked.  'Oh, I love it!' He replied.  Here then was a man after my own heart.  I began hopping too.  'Me too, me too!'  I exclaimed,  'You know what though, even though we're having summer weather...'  He jumped in and finished my sentence,  'You can feel Christmas in the air.  I know!'  Wow, a real live grown up human being who is as daft as I am about sentimental stuff.  Wonder if he likes snow....I must ask him.

Have a lovely day, what ever you do and thank you for

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Love Your Life

The children have been back at school for a little while now and we are beginning to get the hang of it.  The mornings are far from being dark but neither are they totally light.  It only serves to remind me that they will only get darker.  Hate that.  The evenings and nights are certainly chilly and we have had the fire on a few times now.  But when the sun comes up and gets going, it really heats up!  We are still wearing Summer clothes; shorts and floaty dresses and sitting out in the garden until it gets too cool, then we scuttle indoors looking for cardigans and socks to pull on.  September is one of the best times of year for unexpected hot days, glorious sun sets and softening light.  It won't last long, so now is the time to enjoy it.

H2 seems to be settling into his new school now and I'm sure it helps to have Pea and H1 already there.  As it is a fairly small school as senior schools go, he bumps into them and their friends through out the day, which I thinks helps things feel less alien.  They are always done in by the time they come home and are always starving.  I bought half a chicken from the butcher today and have roasted it for tea.  As it is quite a hot day they can have it cold with salad and bread and butter.  I made a coffee and walnut cake yesterday and there is a tiny piece left which may be enough for pudding.

I am thrilled and relieved that things are going well for the children and they are getting on with their new routine after the ease of the holidays.  I am not doing so well.  I really miss them and can only half-fill my day.  The house doesn't take much cleaning and even if it did, it would be a thankless task to do it all day every day.  I have been looking for jobs suitable for a woman who has stayed at home and looked after children, home, garden and pets for years, but even the most menial tasks require experience that I don't have.  The school dinner lady thing came to nothing (thankfully) and clearly cooking for a growing family doesn't cut it in the competitive world of catering.  I have noticed that there is an awful lot of shift work available.  Even working in a shop demands flexibility and 'willingness to work evenings and weekends'.  No thanks.  I have accepted that I may have to work during the school holls, but I am definitely not working all the other hours of the day and night as well.  The rates of pay are rubbish too and do nothing to tempt an already reluctant job seeker.  The employers make great long lists of things they require from the 'successful candidate'; number one is 'Your Life'.  It seems that the moment they accept you as part of their ghastly team, they are under the impression that they own you.  Just because they give you a few pounds for your blood and sweat, doesn't give them the right to take over your entire life and dictate what you do with it.  If you have an ill child at home, you have to find someone willing to care for them as your place is at your job and not by your child's sick bed.  The Job comes first; children, husbands, dogs, parents and indeed anything else involved in real life doesn't even get a look in.

In return for all this juggling, loyalty and out and out stress, they offer a below minimum wage salary and a few measly days off a year, where you can actually go and do something nice.  Well you can providing the office doesn't get infested with fleas or the manager doesn't want to go on holiday then as well.  If so, forget it.  You don't count.  Maybe I am being a tad unfair and there really are nice, thoughtful employers out there.  I really, really hope so because I will not work for anyone else.  Been there, done that and it was horrid.  I have a nice life even if it is a little quiet at times and I want to enhance it with work, not ruin it and be miserable.  There are people who say if you are having fun you're doing it wrong.  Rubbish.  I say if you're not having fun you're doing it wrong.  We only get one go at life so we may as well enjoy it.

The bottom line is I am terrified of getting a job.  I have no qualifications to offer, no experience of the work place, no skills written down on bits of paper.  I can't work in an office as it's highly likely I would staple someone to the wall after ten minutes of office politics and being shut in.  I need to move about, see different people, be outside a bit.  The conundrum occupies my thoughts all day and keeps me awake at night.  I need the Perfect Job.  Sadly, I have no idea what it could be.

Excuse me while I go and chop up a chicken (a dead one-I cooked it first) and drown my sorrows in a nice cup of tea.  Have a good day and love your life! xxx

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Rolling Boil

So that's it; the Summer holls are finally and most definitely over.  School started yesterday and I sent my three children off dressed in their cardboard-like brand new uniforms, dragging their bags and looking miserable.  The dogs and I walked to the end of the track to wave them off in the taxi and then we went for a sniff round the garden; well I just watched while the dogs sniffed.  The day loomed long and silent before me, but there was no time for stalling, work beckoned and after eating my cereal standing at the kitchen door, I got on with it.

Cleaning the house is so much easier when there is no one else in it to get in the way.  By eleven I had made beds, hoovered, swept the kitchen floor and hung out three loads of washing on the line.  Pea and I had started making courgette chutney the day before and left it to stand in the vinegar for 24 hours.  It needed boiling and bottling, so I left it simmering away on the stove and wandered up the track in search of a bowl full of blackberries.  Even though it is only very early September, most of the blackberries have gone over or just gone.  A few weeks ago, we couldn't pick them all as there were so many; the branches weighed down by the heavy clusters of fruit.  Now the few that remain are beyond their best and taste watery, but stewed with half a Bramley I found in the fridge, they made a very respectable pie for tea.  I wanted to make a good tea for the children to come home to, as I guessed H2 would hardly eat all day for nerves.  I decided on salmon, boiled potatoes from the garden, vegetables and parsley sauce, followed by hot blackberry and apple pie and ice cream.  I wonder if I will still want to cook like this when I am working?  Best not to think about it.

By 3.20 I was standing at the door, eagerly awaiting their arrival home.  I had been thinking of H2 all day and wondering how he was getting on.  Going to senior school is one of the biggest changes in a young child's life.  It is terrifying and exhausting but I was really hoping he would have had a good day and come home tired but happy.  I heard the car pull up and the slow trudge of three pairs of feet on the track.  There was silence and I realised that wasn't a very good sign.  H2 appeared first;  he looked fed up.  Good day? I enquired.  S'alright, he said, sighed heavily and then, God, I hate school, and went in the house.  Oh dear.  Pea walked down the drive with scarlet cheeks and black eyes flashing in her small face.  Oh good Lord, I thought.  She looked like she could throttle someone at any moment, anyone would do so I smiled and got out of the way.  She is quite scary when she's like that.  She mumbled something about school sucking and went indoors.  Two down one to go.  H2 appeared with a pale face and red eyes.  My heart went out to him and I hugged him as the words he had held in all day tumbled in a rush to come out.  It's horrible, he whispered.  I was perfectly happy in my class and I'd filled in my book really neatly and then some random woman came in and said I had to move to a different class and I hate it, every body's really loud, I can't do my work properly and it's just awful.  I held on to him and he shed a few quiet tears.  The exhaustion is overwhelming as I remember.  After a few moments he shuffled off to get changed and later I found his uniform in a corner of his bedroom in a ball.  That's what he thinks of that!

Tea worked it's magic as we all sat round the table and they ate silently for a few moments.  The day's events unfolded and there were one or two glimpses of hope among it all.  The general feeling was that they wish they could stay home all the time and not bother with school at all.  Sorry guys, that won't happen.  Kind of wish it would myself though.  H2 spent most of his evening watching telly and now and then getting up to give me a hug.  Reassurrance needed.  We talked when he wanted and I promised him that tomorrow would be better and Friday even more so.  He went off to bed if not happily then at least a little calmer.  H1 calmed down quite quickly and it transpired that he was annoyed because he has to do PE and they always do football, which he has no interest in whatsoever and would much rather do badminton.  I reminded him that he had done extremely well in his first few GCSE's and should concentrate on them and not worry about PE.  He was thrilled to get an A* in Resistant Materials, his favourite subject; a B in science which he loathes and a C in IT.  Extremely well done young man.  Now keep it up.

I'm not entirely sure that I ever got to the bottom of Pea's grievances, but she cheered up quite quickly anyway.  After tea we all washed up and then Pea and I took Middle Aged Labrador for an early evening walk.  The air was warm and the light soft and diffused as only September can give.  The leaves are turning quickly now and farmers work hard to get grass cut and baled.  Fields are dotted with huge rolls of hay waiting to be taken in before the weather finally turns.  The hedges are loaded with hawthorn bushes weighed down with scarlet berries like small round beads threaded onto their black branches.  The beauty is every where.

The weatherman says we are in for a mini Summer over the next few weeks and this morning seemed to be the start of it.  By lunch time it was hot and sticky.  Mum and I went for a walk on the beach after dropping off my library book and buying a few You-Know-What presents.  Most of the holiday makers have gone home to resume their lives, go back to work and school and family.  The beaches and lanes are almost empty again for the remaining few to enjoy in peace and quiet.  I felt as though I was bunking off school as I walked slowly along the beach in bare feet.  The sand was hard and warm and there was hardly a ripple on the sea as the tide meandered in, slowly, lazily, no rush.  Stolen moments out of real life.

Only one more day before the weekend and hopefully the sun will shine so I can take the children down to the beach for a well deserved paddle.  Every day life happens, sometimes it's good and sometimes not, so I think it is important if not vital to have as many small moments of escapism as is humanly possible.  It makes the mundane more bearable and gives us something to look forward to when times are tough.  The best thing about the beach as a treat is that it's free.  You can be yourself on the beach, no one cares or notices what you do or what you think.  You can be noisy or quiet, laugh or just sit and look, it doesn't matter.  It's one of my favourite things to do and I always feel refreshed, relaxed and more positive after a walk by the waves.  I didn't grow up next to the sea so I am completely aware of how utterly lucky my children and I are to be here.  I never take it for granted and I hope they never do either.

The children will be home in less than and hour, so I had better go and roast some veg for tea as no doubt they will all be starving when they come in.  I am hopeful that H2 at least will have had a much better day.  All I want is to see his gorgeous round face lit up with it's usual smile.  My life will be complete and everything right with the world.

I hope your children are settling happily into school life and don't forget - it's nearly weekend! xxx