Friday, 21 June 2013

I've gone over to the dark side

Just a quick post to let you all know that I've taken the plunge and moved over to a self-hosted blog.

The url is still, but I've got a new look and would love for you all to join me at my shiny new site.

I'll keep this site going for a bit longer, to give you all a chance to put into your blog readers.

Otherwise you can always find me on twitter at @eggdipdip.

See you all soon!
Come see my new virtual home!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Father's Day is crap

I'm not a big fan of Father's Day at all. There I said it. And while we're at it, I can't stand Mother's Day either.

They're both contrived, consumer nonsense. I don't need a special day on the calendar to tell my dad I love him, I tell him all the time. Likewise, I'm uncomfortable with the idea that my boys need a specific day to show their love and appreciation for their dad. I'd like to hope I've brought them up a bit better than that.

Then there's the cards. I cannot stand them. Both my boys made cards at school and playgroup this year and both are works of art. I love them. But the cards in the shops - big thumbs down. My dad is not a beer monster or a golf fanatic. He doesn't wear slippers and believes a shed is somewhere to store your bike, not a 'man cave'. He doesn't have a greenhouse or a love of BBQ's. Football is something he watches on TV only when he can't find any tennis or documentaries to watch. He probably does fancy owning a yacht one day, but would find a card with a picture of one rather odd. Sadly there are no cards for healthy, active tennis playing Dad's that don't own a beer fridge.

It's just all a bit sexist and outdated really, this Mother and Father's Day nonsense. We should teach our children to appreciate the little things other people do for them on a daily basis. Not just on one 'special day'. We should thank our own parents whenever the opportunity presents itself, not save it up to be expressed in a gender stereotypical card.

No, I don't like Mother and Father's Day at all. Sorry, but I just don't.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

One of those days

You know the kind.

You start off all bouncy and full of the joys of parenthood. Quite how you're in such a good mood is a bit of mystery, since last night numerous games of musical beds were played. But positivity oozes from your very pores. You pull on a dress you'd forgotten about and bounce down the stairs to your smiling children.

You have tea and toast. Both children have eaten breakfast and are dressed. You manage the school run without turning into a screaming banshee. Your positivity remains.

An unexpected invitation coincides with vague plans you've hand in mind for weeks, so you gleefully accept and spend the morning making new friends.

The smallest child has an unscheduled lunchtime nap, but even this is not enough to dent your good humour. It wasn't long enough to instill The Dread of Bedtime Battles and has left him refreshed and chirpy. Happy days.

The sun is shining.

Then it all goes tits up.

Your exuberance leads you astray into the realms of washing beanbags that are clearly marked 'Do Not Wash'. Pah, your over-confident, positive self says. You, little beanbag, are merely fabric and polystyrene balls. Of course I can empty your (evil) static little polystyrene balls carefully into a pillow case and carelessly throw you into the washing machine. Your grubbiness is harshing my mellow man, you must be cleansed to become bright and beautiful again.


The evil balls of static conspire against you. The fabric rebels inside the washing machine, tearing at the seam to thwart your attempts of cleansing.

You are left with an arse of a sewing job and a utility room that resembles the remnants of a cheap Santa's grotto.

As if this isn't enough, your now prolonged neglect of sleeping youngest child has resulted in a nappy that can no longer hold the weight of expelled fluids. The proof of this situation is glaringly apparent from the stains on your precious sisal carpet (yes, he fell asleep on the floor. So?).

Your stress levels are now rising. There is no time for a remedial cup of tea. The eldest child needs to be collected from school.

Both boys now feed off the negativity emanating from every pore and conspire to make tea time the thing of nightmares. Then, just when you think you'll have time to catch your breath by throwing them both outside to play and run off some energy, you hear your next door neighbour telling them off. For playing in the great, dirty mound of earth that they have 'temporarily' dumped at the bottom of the cul-de-sac. The youngest has his shoes off and is gleefully burying his feet in the dirt, just like we did at the beach. Joy.

The eldest child is now distraught at being told off by an adult who is not his parent. So you march one tearful child and one street urchin up the stairs for a bath at an ill-advised early hour.

Two hours, one semi-flooded bathroom, one failed attempt to remove urine stains from sisal and one mammoth hoovering session of evil static balls of doom later, the children are finally in bed. Asleep.

Then you see this:

 And you realise. Shit happens. It was just one of those days. No, it was just one of those afternoons. But it's finished now and tomorrow is a new day.

Friday, 7 June 2013

48 hours later...

I did it.

After much moaning and whining and being let down by gardeners, I decided to take matters into my own hands and do the dirty work myself.

Monday night, our 'garden' was nothing more than bare dirt, heavily populated with chickweed, couch grass and other undesirables.

On Tuesday morning, I pulled on my wellies, coaxed the smallest member of the family to do the same and we embarked on a day of digging. Together, we turned over the dirt, weeded out rocks as big as our heads and fell out over inappropriate spade usage on a number of occasions.

By 9.30pm Tuesday night, we'd dug about one third of the garden. By Wednesday 4pm we'd achieved this:

By 10pm on Wednesday night, we'd managed to get to the end of the garden and only this small untamed patch remained:

Thursday morning at 8.30am, 130 square metres of fresh turf arrived. My forearms ached, my hips were complaining and I would have made a fist to shake at the gods of gardening if my hands hadn't been so sore.

But...the job had to be done. 

So, I single-handedly laid every square inch of that new turf (poor husband was stuck inside, typing away like mad trying to meet a deadline). I finally finished at 9.30pm last night. So, what have the last 48 hours taught me?

1. That I'm pig-headed.

2. When I set my mind to something, I can achieve it. I just need to stop the whining.

3. I'm stronger than I think (do you know how much 1 roll of turf weighs?!)

4. I'm not as strong as I think (do you know how much 1 roll of turf weighs?!)

5. I now understand why all those gardeners wouldn't touch this garden with a barge pole. Rocks? Boulders more like. Guess that's the joy of a new build property for you. The garden is simply where a lot of the surplus tiles, bricks and other stuff are dumped.

6. My garden does not need 130 square meteres of turf. It only needs 102. Ah well.

7. Arming an almost 3 year old with a hose and telling him to water the newly laid turf only works as a distraction technique for about 15 minutes before he turns the hose on his poor brother patiently waiting for his turn.

So now I'm left with blistered hands, a tattered manicure, an obscene amount of washing, filthy floors and an aching back. But we have grass and the beginnings of a garden that will bring hours of fun.

My boys think I'm a hero. I transformed the dirt bath of a back yard into a green oasis and I let them play with a hose (not a euphemism). I feel like Wonder Woman. In fact, I might just spend the next 48 hours wearing my pants on top of my tights. I feel I've earned that privilege.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Great (lack of) expectations

Expectations are funny old things.

When we first hatched our Great Escape Plan to leave London behind and move back to Scotland for good, our imaginations ran wild. We talked about the kind of house we would have, where we would take the boys and the family traditions we could enjoy with our wider families.

But that was almost 2 years ago. When we made the decision to move back here, we knew we'd have a bit of a wait before our dreams became reality. So we made a pact not to wish the next 2 years of life away. Plans had to be kept secret for the first year at least to protect our jobs and we knew that if we started daydreaming about a life in Scotland, we'd soon lose what little motivation we had for our existing life. We don't wear our hearts on our sleeves, we wear our hearts smack bang in the middle of our foreheads for all to see, like giant neon signs letting everyone know our innermost thoughts.

So we tried not to plan. We tried not to think. We made an effort not to even consider our expectations for the new life we were embarking upon. We didn't want to feel let down when we finally made the move, to feel that any idyllic dreams of a simpler life had been just that, idyllic dreams.

But now I think we went too far. We spent so long keeping everything secret and not setting any expectations, that now we're here, it doesn't quite feel real yet.

I didn't imagine how my heart would soar every time we announced an impromptu beach trip to the boys, because I didn't let myself imagine it.

I had no idea how lovely Sunday lunch with my parents would be, because I didn't let myself think about it.

Not once did I consider the look of sheer joy on the faces of my boys as they played outside in our quiet cul-de-sac, thinking they were unsupervised and completely freerange (I keep an eye on them from the window, don't worry - I can see and hear them but they can't see me), because it didn't even fully register that it was a cul-de-sac we were moving into.

Kitchens and tiles were chosen in a hurry, then forgotten about. We were so far away from the reality of our new house being built, that it all just seemed like a concept. Something abstract, not really relating to us in South London.

Even when we went public and everybody, including our employers, knew of our plans to relocate, we still couldn't bring ourselves to dream those dreams. Colour schemes, garden layouts, blinds or curtains, carpet or wood flooring, we couldn't contemplate any of it. It was too big to take in, our brains couldn't process it. Probably because we hadn't dreamt about it and we'd refused to visualise it.

Even the logistics of physically getting the 4 of us up to Scotland wasn't really thought through. We just did it. In the end, not over thinking that part of the process worked out for the best. We had no expectations of what it would be like driving 600 miles with the boys and it was actually pretty good fun (apart from the first 2 hours when they both asked when we'd be stopping for a break every 10 minutes).

I don't really know if our lack of expectations is a good thing or a not so good thing. On one hand, every day we discover some freedom/perk/advantage of living up here that we hadn't thought about. But on the other hand, we missed out on all that lovely anticipation.

Mind you, the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry. Maybe travelling by the seat of your pants is best. Even if it does involve a 600 mile drive with 2 small boys.

Dusk by train in South London.
Dusk by foot in Scotland. 

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Where is home?

It's where the heart is of course, I hear you cry.

But what if home becomes somewhere you never expected it to be? Somewhere you felt utterly ambivalent about as a teenager, or at the other end of the spectrum, somewhere you had only ever imagined in your dreams?

I'm caught feeling both those things at the moment.

When we moved to London in 1999, it was almost a spur of the moment thing. I'd said many a time that I wanted to live in London at some point, but I'd never really gone beyond that thought. Never delved into what it would mean beyond my romantic notions of moonlight walks along the South Bank, regular trips to the theatre and generally living the high life.

Now, 14 years later, we're back in the 'home' we knew as teenagers. Many of the streets have barely changed, while others have been transformed beyond recognition. As I walked down a street this morning which I must have walked along a hundred times or more as a child, my breath caught in my throat. It struck me: Did I ever think I'd walk along this pavement as an adult resident? A local. A grown-up member of the community.

The answer surprised me and yet shouldn't have. I never planned to end up back here when I was 21. I was destined for more glamorous climes, more sophisticated surroundings surely. A small town in the north-east of Scotland definitely did not feature in the dreams of my 21 year old self.

To my over-inflated 21 year old ego, this was a dull town. A narrow minded town with no prospects and no possibilities as far as I was concerned.

I wanted bright lights and excitement, a career to be proud of and social life to make my mind spin. So off to London we trotted. On a whim and a flimsy job offer that I'd never expected to receive. But we grabbed it with both hands and left our dusty past behind us.

But isn't it funny how children change your perception of the world? There are fewer experiences more grounding than giving birth. Sleepless nights are a great leveller I've found. My ideas of grandeur were soon reduced to more realistic proportions with a baby in tow.

London started to lose it's allure. It still sparkled like a precious gemstone in my mind's eye, but my heart knew that at least some of that sparkle was just for show. It become more cubic zirconia than diamond. Beautiful but boastful, charming but with an edge of brashness. It didn't fit into our dreams of the future any more. Or maybe we didn't fit anymore (certainly not into our 2 bedroom flat that's for sure).

Space, freedom, fresh air and a yearning for the simple things became our holy grail. Where could we find such a life? We had we experienced such a life?

Home. That's where. The home of our childhood. Fourteen years ago, we never dreamt we'd end up back here. But it became our dream location. It became our pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, our fairytale ending.

I guess, sometimes you have to leave in order to appreciate what you had. You have to put a place behind you, leave it in the past, before you can look at it with eyes fresh with experience.

Maybe we just grew up. Or maybe we were always meant to come full circle. Back home. To Scotland. Where our hearts have always been.


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