Tag Archives: #respect

Stress, Social and Smooth

Stress. The kids went back to school nearly two weeks ago. Last Monday, T had a mini-meltdown. When I say meltdown, he was mildly stressed out. T doesn’t do meltdowns. He does calm and laid back so when he gets stressed it is unusual but not insurmountable. He doesn’t have to tell me when something is worrying him, it is obvious – he goes quiet and in turn becomes argumentative. And anyway, I just know. Before I had kids, I didn’t really believe the whole “mum spidey senses” thing but it is actually a Thing. Anyway, we had a chat after the argument and he admitted he was feeling a bit pressured by the whole GCSE thing and the pressure to do well. We had spoken at length during the summer about how much effort he has been giving so far and how it is not enough to just do the bare minimum. The failed RE GCSE seemed to spur him on, but have I created a monster? Have I made too much of it and now he is stressing out? Anyway, we talked a bit more and it transpired that the homework app wasn’t working (see, technology is NOT always a good thing – what was wrong with writing things down into a homework diary?) and he didn’t want to get behind with his homework………….because he wanted to watch the Apple Conference live the following evening. I don’t need to worry, he clearly still has his priorities in a different place.

Social. On Saturday night, A went to a friend’s birthday party. I am finding it increasingly hard to keep up with her social life and the way it is organised. There’s no invites any more. Parents don’t contact parents any more. Your child gets a text (or Whatsapp message, or Instagram DM, or Snapchat PM….etc) invite from their friend and they ask you if they can go. You say yes or no and if in the affirmative the details get passed to you as and when your child gets them. You don’t have to text a parent or call a parent to say that your child can attend and “hi” I’m J, A’s mum”. None of that. On this particular occasion I had not met the girl whose party it was, or her parents. I just knew she lived in “the big house on the corner of the road that goes down to the school”. She was being dropped off by another friend’s step-dad (again all organised child-to-child but at least we know the friend in question and have met the mum and step-dad) and we were picking them up later. I had an address and a time and the knowledge that they were going to watch a movie at the house and then dinner out at a local pizza place. That was all. Now, I don’t know how you feel reading this, but I felt a little lacking in my parental duties. However, knowing that I could see her whereabouts on my lovely app, I felt slightly less nervous than I could have done. And I knew two of the other girls she was going to be with who are both pretty sensible. She was being dropped off and picked up. Nothing to worry about. And there wasn’t, it was all fine, she had a lovely time; they were even left unsupervised in the restaurant while the birthday girl’s parents went to the chip shop (it’s classier than it sounds) and so she felt very grown up (which I suppose she is becoming). I went to pick her up at the designated time with K as chauffeur. The idea of the “big house on the corner” made me slightly nervous. Meeting a new person made me slightly nervous. Meeting a new person who lives in a VERY big house…you get the idea. I was nervous. Especially having had ZERO contact with her previously. She was perfectly nice, they had all “been fine” and so after collecting all their belongings (why do girls have so much stuff?) we left. I have no idea what the mum’s name was. We made small talk while they were getting their stuff but other than that she has 2 older children and one younger one and that her house is MASSIVE I know nothing more than that. It’s not a problem, it just feels weird. Up til now, I have pretty much known the parents of A’s friends, because I have seen them at school and probably chatted to them in the playground. I haven’t had to worry about this stuff with T, he still hangs around with the same mates he had in nursery. He has other friends, new friends from secondary school, but boys don’t really do the whole “tea” at each others houses thing. Or parties really. Well, T doesn’t anyway. It’s a whole new world and one I am finding hard to adjust to. We have a “new friend” coming for “tea” tomorrow and another one for a sleepover on Saturday night (I have met her before so it will be fine) – I might need therapy by Sunday.

So, that just leaves Smooth. I have not been sleeping brilliantly for a few weeks. When I say not brilliantly, I mean I can get to sleep no problem (in fact probably too easily, i.e. in front of the TV most evenings) but I have started waking up around 4am again. I don’t know why but it is annoying. What is even more annoying is that when I am lying there awake all I can think of is a bloody song that I can’t get out of my head. Not always the same song, but normally one that I don’t even like. I have realised that it is probably down to listening to Radio 2 all day.  It’s not their fault but they do play the same records over and over again – their playlist is pretty limited – and it can get a bit repetitive, and one of the songs will get stuck in my noddle and at 4am it decides to start blasting out. So, I have decided on a change of station. I started out this morning with Classic FM – no lyrics, no catchy tunes, was my thinking. After ten minutes I couldn’t take any more. I need lyrics. I need a catchy tune. I scrolled through the list and Smooth caught my eye – billed as “your relaxing music mix” I though it worth a go. Ooh I like it. So far not one repeat of a song. Nothing current, I grant you – I’m not in danger of being Down With The Kids – but nothing repetitive that could get stuck in my head, not so far anyway. Some old classics, actually only old classics; DJ’s whose voices are not too annoying, so far; a few adverts, could get annoying; but mainly just easy listening background noise with a few “oh I LOVE this one”s thrown in. Let’s see what happens tonight.

 

 

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Patience is a virtue……

……I definitely don’t possess.

I’ve been trying so hard. I’ve been patient waiting for the planning to go through (it still hasn’t, but I am zen-like and not allowing it to bother me), I have been patient waiting for builders quotes (some are really quick and others not so much). I have been calm during the return to school and I have only lost it once (when T was demonstrating typical Teen Brain behaviour). I have been trying hard and winning, mostly.

On Monday, I was likened to a caged tiger.

I went into the office early to get ahead of myself as Mondays are always my busiest day, catching up on enquiries from the weekend and any issues from Friday, when my colleague covers for me. I logged in and immediately my computer told me I had to run an update. No choices, no “run later” option or exit button, I had to do it. One of my bosses arrived about half an hour later and it was still running. I had a bit of a moan and he sympathised. I made us a coffee (my second) and I opened some post. Forty-five minutes later it rebooted – hurrah! – and I was all set to get started. Then, it said “installing updates, this will take some time”. Not may take some time, WILL take some time. As if forty-five minutes wasn’t long enough. The other boss arrived so I made another coffee; listened to the radio, did the Pop Master quiz; went to the loo – again. I think I must have been making my frustrations very well known (I was pretty wound up knowing that there was going to be even more emails to action as I had now been waiting nearly two hours to get going) because when I walked – maybe that should be ‘stalked’ – over to the franking machine my boss told me I was like a caged tiger. I had been pacing around a bit, I had been huffing and puffing quite a lot and there had been quite a bit of arms-thrown-up-in-the-air-in-disgust at the ridiculously slow increase of the “percentage complete” figure. I know I’m not the most patient of people. I know it’s a failing. But, when 99% of your job is done by computer and said computer is out of action it is VERY frustrating – there is nothing else to do. I hate doing nothing, unless I have chosen to do nothing and even then I can’t do it for long. But, I guess neither of my bosses have ever witnessed this before and, although I was technically doing nothing on their time, they were finding it highly amusing. Anyway, after 2 hours and twenty minutes of waiting, I was able to login and get started. Only to find that the poxy update had buggered up one of my email accounts and I couldn’t access it. Arrrggggghhhhh. As Mondays go, it was not the best.

Yesterday was fine. I was working from home and apart from having to move into the dining room because the office was bloody freezing, I had a productive day.

This morning, I felt like I was back on track and even the internet connection seemed to be behaving when the radio stopped playing. Then the wireless symbol on my laptop went orange (I hate that colour). This is not an unusual phenomenon as our internet connection is pretty hit and miss even when you are sitting right next to the router, so I wasn’t overly worried. Then I noticed how quiet it was.

Why was it so quiet?

Ah, the fridge freezer wasn’t making that weird groaning noise that it makes. This wasn’t just a Wi-Fi issue. This was a Power Cut. Again, this is not unusual for our village. There is a local Facebook group (that I am no longer part of because – did I mention this before? – I am no longer on Facebook) that has 100 comment long posts about Power Cuts – we have them almost weekly and sometimes a few short ones in the space of an hour. So, again, I wasn’t too worried. Stupidly, and I do this every bloody time, I got up to make a cup of tea! Doh! Picked up my phone to look at my personal emails. No signal. Huh. No problem, it will be back on soon.

Twenty minutes later and nothing. This is unusual, they normally only last a few minutes.

OK, I’ll read my book for ten minutes and then it will be back on.

Ten minutes later, nothing. By now, I was getting pretty wound up and the caged tiger was prowling again. I couldn’t even check if this was an actual Power Cut as I had no connection to the internet. Then, I remembered – my work phone is on O2….maybe it would have a signal where my EE phone didn’t. It did! Hurrah. I made it into a hotspot and got my laptop connected up to it. Answered the emails that had come in and then checked the Power Cut Checker website. It was an ACTUAL Power Cut! They had turned the power off so they could do some emergency repairs caused by the high winds last night. Annoying, but at least now I knew. It would be off for some time. No more emails to do, so I made the executive decision to nip out and run the errands I had planned to do at school pick up time. So off I went.

I had no sooner left the village when my phone bipped to say that our security camera was back online (it runs on the Wi-Fi) meaning the power was BACK ON. For god’s sake. Should I turn around like the conscientious person I am and carry on working, or just keep going? I kept going. I returned some stuff to one shop and then I went into the pound shop for some washing up liquid  – and came out with £12 worth of other items. What is it about pound shops? I can’t ever just go in for one thing and come out with one thing.  Anyway, I digress. I could write a whole blog post on that subject alone.

I got home and the power was indeed back on and when I checked the Power Cut Checker website it confirmed it was back on for good (or at least until the weekly mini cut that we will almost certainly get). Hurrah.

What both these episodes have highlighted is two things: I am not patient (we already knew this) and we rely massively on electricity. I’ve just finished reading a novel set in the early 1800’s and I do wonder if I would have found living in that era less frustrating. If I had to go back in time, leaving behind all the convenience of life in the 21st Century, I would undoubtedly be a nightmare to live with. But never knowing the “joys” of technology and electricity, if I had been born into that time, would I have been less impatient? If I had to hand write everything, wait for a reply, walk everywhere, live life at a slower pace, perhaps I would not get so wound up. Or maybe I would have this trait regardless of what period of time I lived in, and as a 19th Century lady (I would probably more likely have been in service rather than being waited on, but this is a “what if” and we don’t have to be realistic) I would have fired countless ladies maids for being too slow to button my dress up. Ok, we need to stop right there: the idea of wearing dresses is a step too far, even in a “what if” scenario.

Let’s just say, this week has done nothing to help my goal of being more zen-like but I just have to accept that sometimes life will conspire against me. Next week will be better. Positive, see? That’s me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A sea change

sea change

Two years ago, I wrote a blog about The summer holidays and why I think they are too long and, at that time, I meant it. (I might have meant it last year as well but last summer wasn’t your bog-standard so I probably didn’t give it much thought – I just wanted the whole thing to go away.)

This summer I have felt differently. OK, I admit, at the beginning of the 6 weeks I had some fleeting thoughts of, “oh god, here we go again, this is going to drag.” But, it was only fleeting and now that it is the eve of the return to school I can’t believe how quickly the 6 weeks have passed.

It’s maybe that the six weeks have been broken up by two lovely (separate) weeks away. There’s definitely something to be said for breaking the weeks up – we went away the second week, so the first week was busy and full of thoughts of the coming holiday; and again for the last full week so we had three weeks in between where the kids could see friends, we could go out on my days off and look forward to the final week’s holiday. There was a lot of counting down to the last week and it was well worth the wait.

We came home from Suffolk on Friday and I have to admit to having leaky eyes when we were leaving. I have a tendency to wake up early, even on holiday, which is irritating – I would like to have lie-ins – but is also quite nice in some ways. I quite liked getting up when everyone else was asleep and having a cup of tea, reading my book and easing gently into the day ahead. This in itself is a change for me. Before, I would have felt resentment at being awake, being the one to be awake first and making a cup of tea; I’d clatter around to get the point across that I was awake and doing stuff. Ridiculous. On our last day I was, of course, awake even earlier knowing we had to be out by 10am and had a lot of packing up still to do. Sitting outside on the patio with a cuppa and some toast I honestly didn’t ever want to move. It wasn’t just that the place was so beautiful, so quiet – just birdsong and trees rustling – and the weather so perfect. It was everything that is different when we’re away.

When we’re away, we take more time. We talk to each other more. We laugh more. We do things we wouldn’t do at home – e.g. I would NEVER have contemplated setting an alarm for 5.45am to see the sunrise with my daughter at home, NEVER. We relax more. We hug more. We smile at each other more. We’re just more there. Of course, we still argue (bicker, really), we still irritate, annoy, wind each other up. There’s still cooking to do and washing up to do. But somehow it seems less of a thing, less of a chore.

With all the best intentions I could have sat there and vowed to carry this on when we got home. We WOULD still go on bike rides together, we would talk more and spend time in each others company more. But, of course, I’m a realist and I knew that it wouldn’t happen and THAT is why I had leaky eyes. I was going to miss laying on the beach with T’s head in my lap. I would miss standing in the shallows of the sea, paddling with A. I would miss the walks and the holding hands and the other-worldness of it all.

And of course, the reality since we came home has been me up early on Saturday getting three washloads done before anyone even stirred (I did sit outside on the patio for ten minutes with a cuppa but 6 planes flew over in that space of time and kind of ruined the vibe I was going for!); having food shopping delivered; sorting out uniforms for school tomorrow; and back to work yesterday. Just as I knew it would be on Friday morning. But this is why we have holidays. It’s not reality, it’s a short break from it all and all the more special for it. If I could sit outside every morning; if we were able to go on bike rides or walks or to the beach every day; if we spent every day together we would soon get bored of it and sick of each other.

So, we had a great time and breaking up the holiday into two separate weeks was a winning idea. But what else is different? We had three weeks in between the holidays and they were fine. I’m not going to harp on about it being better because the kids are older as I’ve done that to death and it can’t all be down to that. I actually had some small pangs of longing for the days when they were little and we would build sandcastles on the beach instead of sitting talking, listening to music, reading and eating. There were some small moments when I felt a bit sad that I don’t HAVE to paddle any more, but I can if I want to and not because I have been nagged to (although that did happen once!). It’s true that I have to be less available these days and am generally only needed as an Uber substitute rather than for my company. It’s also true that the kids are now actually happy to spend all day in bed or in PJ’s with nothing more to entertain them than a mobile phone, if the weather has stopped them going out.

I can’t put my finger on the reason for the change of heart. I would still like to have longer at May half term but I don’t know that it should be taken from the Summer holidays. Maybe next year I will be back to my original thinking and will be tearing my hair out. But I think not.

 

 

 

 

Working Practice

As you know, I work from home the majority of the time. I’ve got used to my work space being my work space and doing the hours that suit me and getting other stuff done around working. I am conscientious enough to do the hours I need to do whilst managing to do the washing, school runs, etc.

K has been told by his line manager to work from home more often as they don’t want to pay his mileage. Great news for him, as his daily commute to whichever office he has to go to is well over 100 miles each way. Not fun, especially when the M25 is involved. Not such great news for me.

While I have the benefit of working out in the office away from the main house (I’ve made it sound very grand, it’s not: it’s a room off the back of the garage but you can only access it from across the garden. So, far enough away to allow the feeling of being in a work space and away from distractions in the house, and the children know that when I am out there I am working and they should only really disturb me if it’s important. Like: Can they have something to eat? Can they go out with their friends? Can’t I smell that the house is burning down?) K has to work in the dining room. This is fine, but when I go in to make a cup of tea for myself or check on the washing or pop to the loo or answer a knock at the door (the only reasons I go back into the house) he is there. I feel obliged to make him a cup of coffee. He NEVER offers to make me one. I feel resentful that he is sitting there and must have heard that the washing machine has clicked off. In fact, sometimes, I will come in and he has opened the door and nothing else – the washing is still in there waiting to be taken out and hung up.

K has two modes of working. Full on, nothing stops him, don’t try and talk to him, busy busy busy, no time for lunch, et, etc. OR, chatty, wanting to talk about stuff to do with the extension, shall we pop to the kitchen place down the road, what are you having for your lunch (it’s 10am, I have no idea!), have you emailed so-and-so about such-and-such, I’m just going to take the shed apart and build a new one (OK that’s never happened but he has serviced his bike and other random things).

It’s REALLY annoying, mainly because his work mode isn’t the same all day. Not even the same in the space of one hour. Sometimes he can start off the day a bit “can’t be bothered” and if I am not busy I start to get thoughts that maybe he will offer to collect the kids from school or take me out for lunch, and then BAM he’s into Full On Crisis Mode and I have to shuffle back to my desk and forget it all.

Take today, for example. WARNING: ranting ahead. He came back mid-afternoon (while I was out picking up A and friend) as he was out on site and didn’t want to trek back to the office afterwards. He was able to drop off an iPad that he’s sold on a Facebook selling network on the way home. He was able to make himself a coffee and a sandwich. He wasn’t able to wipe down the worktop or open the windows to let some fresh air in (I’m a bit of an open- windows-at-all-possible-times freak) or to take the washing in from off the line (probably just as well as I have a system – don’t ask). He barely had the time to say hello or to ask about my day. In fact he didn’t. I gave up trying to talk to him. A while later he came out to my office to show me some brochures he’s been sent with doors and flooring in. I gave him short shrift – I had work to catch up on after picking A up. I went into the house again later with the washing (all nicely in layers in the basket so that each person’s washing is together to save time putting it away – which each person has to do themselves, I hasten to add. I’m not a maid. Glad you asked?) and he was MAKING HIMSELF A CUP OF COFFEE.  He showed me a nice kitchen in one of the brochures. I took the washing upstairs. I came down and he was SITTING AT THE TABLE DRINKING HIS COFFEE. “Nice cup of coffee you’ve got there”, I muttered, very sarcastically (I’m not proud of my behaviour). “Oh, would you like a cup of tea?” he answered, all surprise and shock. “That would be lovely, if you have time”. (Again, not proud). “I’ll bring it out to you”.

I am still sitting here 40 minutes later. No tea. He appears. “Did you still want that tea? Sorry a complaint came in and I had to deal with it”. See? Full On Crisis Mode, means NO TEA CAN BE MADE. THERE IS NO TIME.

What I am worried about most is that, if and when the extension gets built, “we” have plans to refurbish the office a bit and make it a proper home office that we can all use. I’ll say it again – that we can all use. All of us, in one room, working together. Me and him during the day and me and him and *gulps * the kids when they get home. All of us!

I will have to endure the very loud telephone voice. The huffing. The muttering about “w***ers” and “f***ing idiots”. I will have to endure the very annoying thumping of the mouse pad – he won’t use a traditional mouse as he’s not old-school. (Maybe, I should be relieved as the clicking could possibly be worse than the thumping.) I will most certainly have to be in tune with which mode he is in and adapt my thinking accordingly. I’m not sure I am up to the challenge.

Maybe they will miss him at the office. Or maybe that’s why he was told to work from home?

Wish me luck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pure Joy

When A went to her induction day at secondary school last July she met another girl, O, who was going to be in her new form. She hit it off with her at the time and although she didn’t get to see her over last year’s summer holidays she was in touch with her by text and the usual social media ways that (pre)teens use to keep in touch these days and they became firm friends when they started school in September. The friendship is brilliant. O is bubbly, fun, kind, lovely. A has made lots of other friends in the last year, she’s been invited to tea after school, parties, days out. One of the best things about her friendship with O is that they are not jealous girls. They have no qualms about each other having other friends. O doesn’t bat an eyelid if A is busy doing something with someone else and vice versa. Almost like the way that boys conduct their friendships, but with prettier hair and nicer clothes and a bit more squealing.

This summer they have seen a lot of each other, but they haven’t been in each others pockets the whole time. A has seen other friends and she has had days when she hasn’t wanted to do anything other than slob around in PJ’s and re-arrange her room for the hundredth time; bake cakes; we’ve been on holiday; we’ve had family time. She has finally seemed to find her place. She has slotted in and she is happy. She refers to other girls as “populars” but has no designs to be one; she is happy with her place in her world.

O has just arrived at our house to spend the day here. I beat A to the door and O announced “I’m here” as A came squealing down the stairs “is it O?!!!” They hugged and squealed a bit more. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the squealing, but they were so happy to see each other (it must be, at most, 36 hours since they were last in each others company) it made me smile and was a proper moment of pure joy.

I’m trying to throw off my old habit of expecting the worst. I’m not going to say “touch wood it will continue”. I’m not going to say any of my usual ‘fear the worst and if it doesn’t happen then that’s good’ mantras. I am going to enjoy seeing her happy with her friends and try and ensure that she can go to things she gets invited to – she has a good few years of making up to do on this front and if it means I have to taxi her all over the place then it’s a small price to pay to see her happy.

I know from my own experience that friendships change: people make new friends, fall out, move groups, move away, and she may well not be friends with O in six months, a year, two years time. But for now she is having a great time with a great friend and I love it.

 

 

 

Finally….Facebook Free

I’ve been holding off and holding off. I’ve made excuses like “I’ll miss seeing this person’s posts” or “I need it to keep up with Book Club”.  The problem with it is: it gets under your skin. You start by ‘just looking’ at specific things, but then before you know it you’re liking things and then your friends who don’t even know the person whose thing you’ve liked will see that you’ve liked it and how odd is that? It gets to a point where all you see is that someone you know has liked something from someone you don’t know. And then before you know it you find yourself throwing your hands up in the air and screaming at the screen “FFS, why do I need to see that X has liked that thing by Stranger Z?”  or words to that effect.

Anyway, today I had a message from the lovely people at Facebook to say that the Groups App is being discontinued and after a few more weeks will be no more. I have managed to keep away from the main event by using the Groups App to look at For Sale groups and Book Club. When that goes, I can see that I will just end up with my hands in the air an awful lot and saying ‘FFS’ all the time. Not Good.

So, I have taken the proverbial bull by its pointy bits and I’VE DEACTIVATED MY ACCOUNT. I’ve set up a WhatsApp group for the lovely Book Club ladies so I am still in the loop – hoping they will all be kind enough to humour me. I’ve created a new profile under my work email and a pseudonym so I can still manage the work Facebook page and I have left. I’ve left! I’ve actually bloody done it. The kind people at Facebook have told me I can come back whenever I want (when hell freezes over) and they will continue to allow me to be invited to stuff (gee, thanks) and I can still get messages – frankly, anyone who needs to contact me and doesn’t have my number should be ashamed of themselves. (I have hastily gathered together people’s numbers that I didn’t have previously, while hanging my head in shame at my neglect).

So, no more FFS’ing at a small screen while wondering why I can’t be stronger and JUST STOP LOOKING.

I’m not saying it’s wrong. It’s just wrong for me.

 

The results are in

I know at least one of you (probably only one of you, in fact) is dying to know how the list-less holiday went. Well, I can happily report that we didn't forget anything crucial, we didn't have any disasters and we all lived happily ever after. K had a brief moment of not-quite-but-nearly-panic when he realised that the boot of the Mercedes is considerably smaller than the one in the previous car (S-Max) and that we might struggle to get everything in (we did, struggle that is) but we got in the essentials (clothes, cool-bag, bodyboards) and it was All Fine, until the repeat performance for the return journey when he wasn't quite so calm as there was no option to leave stuff behind.

Not having a list (or lists, or lists of lists) was liberating. Packing at 10pm the night before travelling was interesting. Repacking the next morning  - the mini suitcase I had opted to take was causing no end of distress to the car boot-packer so I had to resort to the only (tiny) holdall that was left (everyone else had already nabbed the bigger ones the night before)  - was slightly unnerving but I actually only wore two-thirds of the severely downsized pile that I ended up taking, so lesson learnt for the next holiday (in 18 days and, yes, I AM COUNTING).

Not having a list of must-see places or any sort of itinerary was inspired, because it meant that the 2 days of solid rain we had didn't spoil any plans, we just had to go along with it and make the most of the lovely sunny days we had. The only planning we did was to look at the forecast the night before (still not a cast-iron guarantee but we had to base it on something) and think about where we would like to go. I had a mental list of possible places and the house we were renting had a whole host of leaflets for days out, so we had no shortage of ideas. We managed to see all of the places we wanted to see – Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove, Kimmeridge fossil beach (a wave-cut platform, actually, not a beach, as I was informed by the soon to be year 11 GCSE'er) and Studland Bay. All beautiful. All made me fall in love with the UK coast all over again. All made me wonder why we ever think about going abroad – until it rained again.

One thing I did remember to take was my camera. K bought me a camera for my 40th birthday and has berated me ever since when we go to places and I don't have it with me. I've got so used to using my phone camera and instantly "sharing" my snaps that the camera just gets forgotten. But, as part of my 'going off grid' plan for the holiday I decided that if I took my camera I wouldn't be tempted to go online and share stuff and subsequently get caught up in what the world at large was up to. Another winning idea. Apart from checking the weather app (for what it was worth), keeping an eye on emails (you never know when you're going to get 20% off something you had no intention of buying) and looking at directions, I haven't really used my phone that much. And since we came home I have uploaded my photos onto the laptop and I've really looked at them. They are now in an album which I have added to my Google Photos and I can look at them whenever I want to. And they're far better than ones I take on my phone – no filters, no messing about. Just really good pics.

It has to be said, sitting on a beach while your, thankfully much older, kids are messing about in the sea or laying around listening to music, is very relaxing. Being able to tell your, thankfully much older, kids that there is no more food and that the "loos are that way – see you in a minute" and not being met with any complaints is quite nice. Being able to walk down to the local shops from the house your renting, with your husband, while the kids are still laying around in bed in the morning is quite nice. Mainly because they aren't there to nag you to buy twice as much food as you need and they can't complain about what you have bought because "they should have got up and come with us" (no! please don't!). I know I keep saying it, but the older they get the more and more I like them. Don't get me wrong, they can still be very annoying (teenage brains letting them down on the remembering stuff front; A hitting a sugar low around 4pm and crashing in the mood stakes; not to mention smellier feet than I ever imagined; and not going to bed til really late) but they are also really good company and actually quite interesting and knowledgeable (wave-cut platforms, etc). Being away with them is quite easy and er, hmm, I quite like them. Being told by someone you think the world of (you know who you are) that they are "a credit to you" makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and pretty proud of myself. Yes, you heard it right. Proud of myself. I'm even starting to almost like myself as a parent.

So, all in all being list-less was a winner. The holiday was great. Coming home not so much, as it always heralds the return to normality with work looming on the close horizon – even having a whole weekend to get used to the idea didn't really help as it was 2 days of torturous thinking about Monday being only 2 days, only 1 day, tomorrow… and it's here. But I have started my countdown on the lightbox – only 18 days to go! No lists, no plans, no suitcase. Just a few clothes, my camera and, this time, my bike. And off we will go.