Today the wall is going up between the lounge and the dining room. I have been very excited about the prospect of the potential for change in the two rooms as a result of them being divided and as the work progresses I am not disappointed. So far, anyway. We have been sitting in the lounge these past few evenings saying “ooh think how cosy it will be after the wall goes up”. I am trying to focus on the positive reasons for having the work done. I am trying not to be unnerved by the prospect of the big decorating task we have imposed on ourselves: all of the lounge is going to need lining paper and paint as we may now have to remove the dado rail (yay) and fill the mess that it leaves behind (oh) as lovely P the builder can’t find any matching rail (unsurprisingly as it is probably 20 years plus since it was put up!); and the dining room is having an overhaul, getting rid of the garish wallpaper (we were feeling “bold” when we moved in and thought it was a good idea) and repainting. Not sure how we will fit it all in before Christmas but we will give it a go!
It’s a shame that this is happening on a day when A would like to be curled up on the settee in front of the TV. She woke up yesterday with a sore throat but perked up as the day progressed. But after a very bad nights sleep (or lack of) she is feeling proper poorly and can barely speak. We have been talking in whispers so that she doesn’t strain her throat and I am sure the builders must think we are very odd! It’s been quite peaceful though. Always a sliver lining.
Whilst she has been laying in bed (or more truthfully, laying on my bed watching CBBC), she has been working on her Christmas Wish List. She has decided on a few things, mainly books and art stuff – all very inexpensive and easy to find. I’m most excited about the one thing that she doesn’t think she has a hope of getting – a sewing machine. Little does she know that I have already managed to get hold of one for half the price of a new one on a parent selling network and it is fab! It’s barely been used and is from John Lewis so easy to get bits for if needed. It’s in a box on top of our wardrobe and is positively winking at me every time I go in our room. Shhh!
K’s parents have talked about moving house for at least fifteen years. They’ve toyed with retirement villages and looked at bungalows near where his brother lives. His mums mobility has deteriorated a lot in recent years and the move has become more necessary. But K’s nans ill health took priority and any thoughts of moving were put on the back burner. When nan died in January we wondered if they would think about moving in to her bungalow. K’s mum was pretty adamant that it wouldn’t feel right. And I could understand that to a degree: nan (and grandad) had lived there for such a long time it would feel a bit weird. But this summer, when nans stuff had been sorted through and things cleared out, it was decided that it would be the most sensible solution to their needs.
So they have had some work done and have been taking boxes of belongings over bit by bit, and this weekend they officially moved in. We visited yesterday and they seem very happy. They’ve had a new bathroom installed and the kitchen will be replaced next month. I did wonder if K would find it strange but he seemed fine and we were soon helping sort stuff out. It will take a while to stop thinking of it as nans house and there were a few slips of the tongue referring to it as nans bungalow or the old house as home but that will soon stop.
We also wanted to go to the cemetery to see the updated headstone. The children didn’t attend the burial part of the funeral back in January so it was nice for them to see the grave and for us to see it all grassed over and the headstone in place. We took nans favourite white roses and the children helped place them in the flower holders at the grave. T looks very serious in the photo and A is beaming. How different they are. A was pleased to finally get to see the grave and wore nans watch and earrings that she had inherited. T was a little more somber.
There are certain times of day when I feel very lucky. And happy.
I wake up early most days and, depending on how dark it is, I normally lay in bed thinking. Sometimes it’s productive – mental lists of things to do; other times it’s slightly more negative – things I’m worried about or wishing I could go back to sleep. I battle with it less these days and try and make it a positive thing. If it’s light enough I will read. But on a weekday morning, regardless of how long I have been laying there awake thinking or reading, my lovely boy comes in to lay with me and hug. Just for a few minutes but its always very heartfelt and special. He’s thirteen and getting more grown up every day but he still wants a hug from me when he wakes up.
The next best bit is picking my girl up from school. Yes, she’s in year 6 and I’m still waking her to and from school. She just likes the time together and I have to agree that I do too. It’s so lovely to see her gorgeous face when she emerges from the classroom. And then to walk home hand in hand (most days). One of her friends told her I’m overprotective because I walk her to and from school. She replied that it’s because she likes being with me and it makes her happy. You didn’t say fairer than that.
The last best bit is dinner time. We try as often as possible to eat together in the evening. This has got easier as the children have got older, as we can eat later if need be. They chat about funny things that happened at school or on the bus; or about things that are bothering them; of they listen to K and I talk about our days. Not always – we do have meals that are pushed around plates and I subsequently rant about how much effort I’ve made to produce the meal, etc etc.
Special little things that make the day pass more easily. I hope when they stop they get replaced with other moments. I will miss them.
I saw this picture on Instagram today and it struck a chord with me. I don’t think there’s enough craziness in our house. On Saturday night I went upstairs mid-Strictly for a quick toilet break (too much info?) and T was in his room reading whilst throwing a sponge juggling ball up in the air. As I poked my head round his door to say hello he shouted “catch” and the ball was thrown missile-like at my head. A mini battle ensued (I have quite a good aim) and we ended up screaming with laughter. It occurred to me then that this is a rare occurrence. I don’t mean that our house is a sombre mausoleum but we don’t often scream with laughter. We have a laugh and a joke and sometimes someone will come out with something very funny and we will all howl but it’s not laugh-a-minute crazy. More spontaneous fun would be great. Food for thought.
A has been to Wembley with guides today to the Big Gig. It’s an annual event and her first time attending. Yet more excitement for my girl, hot on the heels of last weekend. They got a coach with 200 other Hertfordshire guides and headed to Wembley along with 10,000 other guides from across the south east to see a host of “pop stars” performing just for them. She had a brilliant time and even got invested on the steps outside the stadium. Not a bad day!
Today I have been to my nan’s with my mum, just the two of us, to get her housework done and to spend some time with her. I thought I’d heard most of my nan’s stories before and didn’t really think she could come up with any new ones that would surprise me. On how wrong I was. Whilst mum was putting nan’s hair in curlers I sat with them and had a chat. Nan’s always very interested in the children and likes to hear what they have been doing and as A had been swimming this morning I was telling nan about how she is getting on. Nan never learnt to swim as her PE teachers thought it would affect her leg muscles and stop her from running as well as she did and hamper her chances of competing. She subsequently had a few scary incidents, such as being thrown in the pool at age 16 by some boys she had gone to the outdoor swimming baths with. They knew she couldn’t swim but it didn’t stop them chucking her in the deep end. Luckily a lifeguard saw and helped her out. We got on to talking about her trip to Niagara Falls and how she went on the Maid in the Mist boat trip under the falls, again despite not being a swimmer. I knew she had done this trip but didn’t know there was a “story”. This one was an eye opener. Apparently she had “been on the ouija board” a short while before her trip and an old friend had “come through” to say that if she did the boat trip under the falls and took a photo she would see the old friend, in the form of a bird, on the photo. Yeah. Really. Sorry, I’m guessing you’re still back at the ouija board bit. I’ll let you catch up. Ok? So, nan mentioned this to another friend who is a keen bird watcher and he advised that there was no way any birds would go near the falls so it was a ridiculous idea. In case I hadn’t mentioned, nan is quite determined, and in true nan manner she was undeterred from doing as bidden and whilst on the boat trip, unable to see much of anything at all thanks to the spray from the water, she slipped her camera out of her pocket and clicked away at whatever the camera lens was pointing at. Unbelievably, when she had the photos developed there was indeed a bird on the picture.
I’ve also learned: that the weather on the 20th November will reflect what the weather will be on xmas day. I’ve marked it in my diary to test it out. I do believe her, but I’d like to see for myself; the dog in the sky will tell you that rain is coming. Yes, clouds that look like dogs, chasing along between the other clouds, mean rain later; as do the leaves on the trees – they will turn upwards when rain is coming.
I know when most people go into my nan’s flat they will see a lot of stuff. There’s photos all over the wall in her sitting room and most surfaces. There’s her trolley with all the things she needs by her chair and the drawers of her sideboard are chock full of stuff. But I see the home of a person who loves her family more than anything and has photos of them everywhere. There are even two of my brother and me under a piece of glass on a table in her “special room” where she prays and meditates. The photos are over thirty years old and are faded almost completely but she put them there all that time ago and has never taken them out. She never ceases to surprise me.
This week has had its challenges. Whenever we have any jobs done around the house we always end up with some element not quite working out the way we hoped and this week was no exception. We have bought a new hob and oven and after getting a quote from a recommended electrician we had them installed on Monday. K had agreed to work from home with me so that he was available in the event of any issues (experience making us cynical and quite rightly so) but I had stupidly not factored in the issue off power. As in they would need to turn the power off in order to remove the old appliances and install the new ones. No power = no router = no emails. Oops. Off to the office I trotted and with every passing minute of the journey another email plopped into my imaginary inbox, so by the time I finally arrived I was expecting a mammoth task awaiting me and how right I was. The day went downhill from there. K texted to say that the electrician had misquoted as he hadn’t realised that the gas fitting we had was the sort it is and would need a qualified gas safe engineer to cap it off. Oh and it would cost us another £60+. Er, OK.
Came home and collected A from school and then home again to yet more emails. Finally stopping to look at new oven ready to start dinner. Oven needs burning off for an hour before using. Rethink dinner.
The week progressed in this vein – nothing truly awful but enough niggly annoying things to make it not the best week. The highlight was the lovely casserole I carefully prepared on Wednesday and put in the oven in plenty of time so that we could eat at a decent time, only to find when checking on it at 6pm that I had only turned the dial enough on the oven to put the light on and not any actual heat. Dinner was finally ready at 7.15pm. And not particularly delicious either. I missed book club as A was feeling unwell. I then spent the entire night feeling sick. Will this week ever end, I wondered?
Luckily after a pretty diabolical day on Thursday the light was shining from the end of the tunnel and finally it was Friday.
However, in spite of all the niggles, I have laughed until my stomach hurt courtesy of Mrs Lovely (and her poo related story), I have been knitting like a demon and my winter project is very nearly complete, I have spent time with a lovely friend and been taken in hand by Mrs F – she sorted me out good and proper and my garden will be all the better for it. I have had the pleasure of cooking on my new hob and in my new oven which I will forever thank K’s dear old nan for enabling me to have. Bless her soul.