Monthly Archives: July 2015

Life’s a beach 

The Beddoe Four have been away now for 5 days. I’d like to report that it’s been a sunny, happy 5 days spent soaking up the vitamin D on beautiful beaches. Unfortunately, the reality is not quite up to that dream. It’s been a happy 5 days on the whole, bar the usual bickering with some nagging thrown in for good measure – it wouldn’t be a holiday without it. The sun has come out at intervals and we have been to the beach. But we’ve all been bundled up in hoodies and the beach tent has been less of a UV shelter and more of just, well, a shelter. We’ve had several discussions on the virtues of windbreaks and have even hired them two days running. 

I love holidaying in the UK. I love being able to fill the car with everything we need for a comfortable break and I like the freedom of hopping in the car and exploring new places. We’re quite content to sit on the beach in our afore-mentioned hoodies and the kids have still not lost their love of body boarding even though it’s bloody cold in the sea. 

But I am beginning to feel a bit let down. And a bit tired of trying to “make the most” of the sunny intervals and the beautiful scenery. Yes it’s beautiful but it would be even more beautiful if the wind would die down and the sun would stay out. It’s hard work keeping smiling when you’re shivering or when you’re desperately trying to find something to do when the weather turns on you while sticking two fingers up at you behind your back. The UK is a terrific country with lots of stunning places and there’s still plenty of areas that we haven’t yet been but I’m starting to see the appeal of hopping on a plane (yes I do know it’s not as simple as that and the thought of going away without a cool box or a picnic bag does fill me with slight dread, and the thought of sitting in a cramped seat thousands of feet in the air isn’t massively appealing either) and arriving somewhere reliably sunny and warm with beautiful scenery. I baulk at the cost of a holiday abroad and feel a bit of a traitor to the good old British holiday, but I feel the time has come to do ourselves a favour and allow ourselves to be able to wear shorts and t shirts all day long. To swim in warm seas and laze on sunny beaches. 

Don’t get me wrong – we are enjoying ourselves. The kids are more than happy building sandcastles and bodyboarding. (K has the pleasure of getting wet-suited up and going in with them while I shelter behind the rented windbreak.) We’re all happy (mostly  – A is still moderately reluctant) to go for a cliff top stroll or a cross country bike ride. We all like a mooch around little villages with their tea-rooms and gift shops. We like a wander in the evening to a local pub for dinner and don’t get me started on ice-creams. It’s been really lovely being together (in the main) and we do truly make the best of our time. 

Just next year I think I’d like to try something a little bit different.  

 

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Teenagers, eyes and computers 

A slightly random mix for a title, I grant you, but it’s been one of those weeks. 

On Monday my lovely boy became a teenager. A teenager. How on earth did that happen? It’s such a cliche to say “it only seems five minutes since…”   but it’s so true. Since he’s been at secondary school the time has flown and I would like it to slow down a bit please. I don’t want him to be towering over me and talking to me in a deep voice. Not yet. I’m not ready. He’s only a head shorter than me now (his head doesn’t fit perfectly under my chin anymore when we hug) and his feet are as big as his fathers. When he’s side on he looks like the man he’ll grow into. His jaw is widening and he’s getting just so damned grown up. It’s lovely and sad and exciting and a million other adjectives all rolled into one big dollop of emotion. 

On Tuesday my lovely girl had a very bad reaction to a friends guinea pig. She only held it for a few moments  but within 5 minutes she could barely see out of her very swollen eye. My brilliant friend immediately took her to the pharmacy where the pharmacist promptly advised seeing a doctor and a good dose of Piriton. Two hours later and with the advise from the medical practitioner (?) to continue with the Piriton through the evening and night but to come back to see the doctor if not improved by morning, we were a bit worried. No real difference by morning so off we trotted to see the doctor. We left with a prescription for 3 doses of six steroid tablets (one dose of six to be take immediately) and some eye drops and another appointment for this morning to check on progress. My poor girl. She really has been very brave and sensible about it. We had some proper tears when it happened with a bit of wailing “I’m so ugly!!!” and “I’m scared!” but other than insisting on wearing my sunglasses whilst out in public she’s been brilliant. The steroids kicked in amazingly fast and she no longer looks like she’s done 10 rounds in the boxing ring (“you should see the other fella”) just more like she’s been on a marathon crying session (we all know what that looks like) but only from one eye. 

In the midst of birthdays, poorly swollen eyes and attempting to get my head round the fact that we go on holiday on Friday (and I had not written a single list until yesterday!) my work laptop decided to die. Well, the screen died which at least meant I could hook up to a monitor and still do some work (shame!) until a shiny new one was delivered. Shiny new one was dropped off only for me to discover it has Windows 8. Hello? As a founder member of the “I learnt to use a computer in the 90’s” club and as someone who has lots of files and lots of notes and 4 email accounts to monitor this was not good news. It’s taken a day – a whole day – of faffing around (with a LOT of huffing and puffing thrown in) to get the bloody thing (as it’s now affectionately known) set up how I need it. Thanks to T I still have my virtual sticky notes that I can’t live without and I can just about navigate my way around it. But seriously, it’s a sad day when someone who used to train others to use computers, and who always thought of themselves as a bit of a geek, has to ask their (teenage) son to help them find Outlook and “make me a shortcut, please!!!!!” Why do the powers that be have to mess with stuff and change it so much that a 43 year old ex-IT manager wants to throw it out the window?! 

Back to my lists. I’ve managed to write 2 lists. I have made my “final wash load before the packing commences” announcement. I have earmarked Friday morning for the final shopping trip for all the things we’ve realised are too small. And I finish work tonight. For a whole uninterrupted seventeen blissful* days. Just the final (hopefully) trip to the doctor to tick off, the packing list to write and I might start to feel on top of things. 
* I’m sure they won’t all be blissful as, let’s face it, it’s a two week holiday in Devon and there’s no guarantees of sunny weather, and certainly no guarantees of complete familial harmony but look at me being all positive. 

  
T being presented with his cake made by the little star baker (first year my baking skills not required). Happy days. 

What could go wrong?

Tomorrow my lovely boy turns 13. Last weekend K and I asked him what he’d like to do to celebrate as a family and he asked to go to London for the day. We narrowed it down to a ride on the Thames clipper and a look round the Tower or the Emirates cable cars. I had both sets of fingers crossed but of course he chose the cable cars. Oh. 

I’ve been stewing a bit about it all week. My rational side has been saying its fine, it’s his birthday, man up and enjoy it. My irrational and far more dominant side has been saying that we’re all going to die a horrible and dramatic death. 

We set off in good time as we wanted to explore a bit and I wanted to show the boys the O2. Easy journey there and a lovely look round the area. I started to feel a bit anxious during our picnic lunch by the river watching the cable cars going overhead. Very very high overhead. And quite fast. And high – did I mention they were high? 

By the time we were due to go up I was more than a little clammy of hand and hoping it was going to be too windy or something would stop us being able to go on. But no, all was running fine and so the brave face had to go on. Sort of. Luckily the rest of the family are more than aware of my idiotic phobias and so were all being very sweet and reassuring. We had another family in our car so I had to keep it more under wraps than I maybe would have had we been alone. 

There’s no denying that it was incredible. The views were stunning and far reaching and the O2 looked tiny after about 5 minutes. But my word it was horribly high up (see it wasn’t just had perspective from the ground it really is bloody high) and quite wobbly. Not in a “we’re going to fall out” kind of way but enough to gee up my irrational side to a point of nearly losing it. Nearly. I remembered in time that it was a birthday TREAT and mum losing it in a cable car several hundred feet above the river wasn’t how T would want to temember the day. 

We made it over to the other side and I managed to make myself go back again an hour or so later. It was no less scary the second time around. 

Most importantly T had a great day and it was one we won’t forget in a hurry.  

    
 

And it was all going so well….

Big day for A today. End of year 5 and moving into final year at primary school. But bigger than that, today is the day she finally gets to have her ears pierced. She’s been waiting since her birthday back on March and the day finally arrived. She was very excited and anxious on the drive to St. Albans and (unlike me, who goes v quiet when anxious) she talked non-stop the whole way. We had some other bits to do before the appointments at Claire’s but we still managed to be early. She got sized up and paperwork signed and then the 2 ladies got lined up ready to fire…..and she panicked. To be fair there was a bit of an audience and there has been some faffing about to get both dots looking even so she was within her rights to have a slight wobbly moment! But she took some deep breaths and remembered her mindfulness and, bang, it was done. She looked stunned for a moment and then the nice lady showed her in the mirror and all was well. And she looks really cute. 

After a little refreshment in Costa and the reminding shopping done we headed home to get her ready for a sleepover with a new friend from guides. This was all arranged by phone with the friend last Sunday and she was due at 5pm. We arrived just after, only to find that the friend was at a party and the dad knew nothing about the sleepover! He seemed slightly embarrassed and offered to call his wife to see if she knew anything but it was clear that nothing was going to be happening this evening so I said we would leave it and headed home. Oh dear. My poor girl! A bit of a disappointing end to a very exciting day. But in true happiness hunter style I will make sure tonight is not a miserable one. I feel a DVD and a snuggle up coming on. Maybe whilst perusing the selection of earrings available at Claire’s online, ready for when the six weeks are up. 

  

Groucho 

Yes, Groucho. Not grouchy. Not grumpy. That’s not me anymore. No more moaning about emails, husbands (well, one husband) or lack of time. 

My “2 minutes a day to achieve 100 days of happiness” book has inspired me today. And it’s Groucho Marx’s turn this time. 

And I quote “Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.” 

Now as much as I agree with this in principle, I do have some issues with this theory. Firstly, sometimes something really bloody horrible can happen during the course of a day that even the Dalai Lama would struggle to see the upside of. Secondly, thoughts of days gone by and days ahead can make us feel happy and get us through less pleasant times, so we should be able to look back or forward. 

But in general it’s not a bad idea and I decided to try it out. So I didn’t let myself get stressed out this morning whilst getting A off to school. I didn’t let being all hot and sticky on my return get to me, I just changed my top and shoes and cooled down. 

My car journey was filled with happy, upbeat songs and by the time I arrived at work I was properly smiling. 

I didn’t let the pressure of providing figures – now! – for the missing post get to me. * 

I kept calm and got on with my work. I had a bit of a chat and a laugh with the boss guys. I was able to leave early as they had a meeting to go to. I was able to make myself a cup of tea and enjoy it. 

I did get a bit worked up over a slight altercation with K (over something very silly) but I didn’t sulk and I didn’t drag it out of proportion. I refused to let it make me unhappy. 

I’ve managed to get some knitting done. I’ve had funny texts from friends that have made me smile and even a customer who I’d been dealing with yesterday emailed me to tell me a funny ending to our conversation. And it made me smile. 

So I think old Groucho has a point (to some degree) and we can choose to let things make us unhappy. And we can try and live more for now and not for next week. Although, I really can’t bloody wait for next week! 

* I later discovered the figures were slightly off so clearly I did let the pressure get to me slightly! 

A day in the life of me

Most nights when K gets home he remembers at some point to ask me what my day has been like. I normally reply “oh busy but ok, you know”. 

Well today my day actually went like this: 

Woke up at 5.30am worrying about 1. A going to a complete stranger’s (to me) house for a sleepover on Friday (yes 5 days away). 2. Whether going into London on Sunday is such a good idea with the current terrorist stuff going on (yes 7 days away). 

Fell back asleep around 6.30am to be woken up shortly afterwards by K’s alarm going off. 

Got up at 7.20am determined to get some work done before taking A to school, knowing I had to then take T to the orthodontist and so wouldn’t be starting work til after 10am. 

Downstairs by 7.50am. Laptop working like it needed winding up on the side. Rebooted. Ten minutes wasted. Got A some breakfast (not normally necessary as she makes it herself but bagel needed defrosting). Logged back on. Got T up. 

Looked in horror at the 103 emails waiting to be answered. Made A’s packed lunch. Answered 5 emails. Tried calling Roundwood Absence Line to report T’s appointment. Engaged. Went back upstairs to brush teeth and slap on some mascara and cover up. Meanwhile calling absence line at regular intervals. Still engaged. 

Answered 5 more emails. Line still engaged. Emailed school instead after finding email address on website. 

Took A to school in car as raining and clearly my day was going to be going rapidly downhill and I needed to make up some minutes. Dropped her at gates in style of much-vilified lazy mum who doesn’t give a s**t. Realised she didn’t have a coat, gates were still locked and I now looked even more like I couldn’t care less about my child. Oh and she had tummy ache. 

Got home (after near altercation on high street). 

Answered ten more emails. Mum phoned. Cut her short. Felt horrible. Took T to orthodontists. Got wet. Was polite and friendly to massively inefficient receptionist. Took him to school. Came home. 

Answered remaining 83 emails. Listened to 5 voicemails. Authorised 7 return requests. Pacified annoyed customers who had left unpleasant feedback. 

Had a pee. 

Ate a bowl of cereal.

Answered new emails that had come in since cleared down 10 minutes previously. 

Realised another batch of mail must have gone missing so created spreadsheet and notified boss. 

Ate a pitta bread and some leftover cheese. 

Walked to school with Mrs L in rain. Walked home in rain (I took a coat for A) stopping off to buy dishwasher tablets. 

Got home. Put dishwasher on. 

Answered more emails. Provided more info to boss (who could have looked at spreadsheet but couldn’t be arsed). Phoned confused customer. His name was Phil. He was a man. His delivery address was named Miss Phil Surname. (His surname wasn’t Surname, I’m just being professional). Very odd. 

Answered texts from lovely friend. 

T came home. Realised it was 5.45pm (he’d had youth club) and I really needed to get dinner started. Put oven on. 

More emails. 

Had a pee. 

Prepared dinner. Chicken (yawn) with leftover salad and new potatoes (yaaaawn). Emptied dishwasher.

Ate dinner. K came home halfway through.  

Loaded dishwasher and washed up the rest. 

Shouted at A for nagging. Felt horrible. Cried a bit. Big hug from T – cried a bit more. Chopped up fruit that had been asked to buy but no-one had eaten. 

Ate fruit. Yawn. 

Answered 3 final emails and logged off. Planned meals for coming week and ordered online necessary stuff. 

Phoned mum. Moaned. Apologised for cutting her short. Felt bad. 

Went upstairs to check A had showered. K was up there but clearly busy on phone. Checking Spot The Ball competition. Hung up clothes. 

Had a pee. 

Chivvied A up. Hugs on bed. Moisturised her dry skin – result of heat rash. 

Got her into bed and sang (yes, still) bedtime song. 

Looked for Smallville season 4 online with T. 

Wrote my blog. 

“How was your day”. “Oh, you know, busy, but ok.”

Goodnight.