Parenting, profundities and humour

Oh I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside… — January 1, 2016

Oh I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside…


We are currently on holiday. I believe I began a post like this before. I think it was Greece is the Word. I would link you to it but I am on holiday. And therefore I am unable to do so. As I lack the IT resources.

Suffice to say that if you do find that post the view from the window on this holiday is not quite the same.

We are spending the week in a house on the Kent coast.

Some of my readership hail from far flung, even tropical places. And so therefore I need to perhaps explain what a holiday by the seaside in England is like in January.

One word springs to mind. Cold.

In the UK we have been experiencing a very mild winter this year. When we left our home it was 15 degrees. Really odd. It should be around ten degrees cooler than that. Anyhoo it has been unseasonably warm. So when I printed off my ‘Family Holiday in the U.K.’ Packing list I nearly discounted the thermals section as well as the wet suit and sun hat section.

But then I remembered we were going to the coast. And I packed them anyway. Thank god.

However warm it is in the UK it is reliably a lot colder by the sea. Especially when that sea is the North Sea. I never go to the British seaside without my woolly hat. Ever. Even in June. Because I will get earache without it. To go with the facial exfoliation provided free by the blowing sand.

In theory it seems a wonderful idea. A break by the sea off season. One envisages bracing walks along the coast. I lasted precisely ten minutes on the sands today watching my offspring roll around after a rugby ball before the cold and the fear that they might tackle each other into a pile of dog muck got the better of me. So I left to explore the slightly less windy town.

And there you notice that other thing about most English seaside towns. They have an air of neglect. Which is even more apparent in the winter. Most of the shops remain closed. The lack of sun and people shows up the peeling paint and rusty balustrades. I feel sorry for these places.

In most you can see the grandeur that was there in the height of the British tourist heyday. Before cheap flights lured us all away to sunnier climes. The Art Deco hotel facades. The huge train stations that would have received thousands of holiday makers each summer. The pleasure grounds. The piers. The boating lakes. But often these wonders have been blighted by neighbouring 60s planning monstrosities. By a lack of up keep. By graffiti. By the insufficient numbers of punters.

And then there are seagulls. Nough said. They pinch your chips and poo on everything. I hate them. Flying vermin.

But then despite all this such places have an appeal. We like 2p amusement arcades where an hour’s fun can be had for a couple of quid.

We like watching the New Year’s Day nutters swimming in the sea…weird.

We like the fish and chips.

We like the ice cream parlours.

We like building castles and shell hunting and chapped lips.

We like crabbing off abandoned piers and rock pooling.

We like looking round tacky souvenir shops.

We like drinking proper tea out of styrofoam cups.

We like coming back and getting cosy.

So, yeah, the Med is great. But so is the North Sea.

If you dress up proper.



Two Little Dicky Birds… — September 24, 2015

Two Little Dicky Birds…

Here's looking at you kid...
Here’s looking at you kid..

I don’t want to descend into hyperbole but mornings here are utter and complete chaos. I am sure we are not alone in this. And I am also sure that many, many parenting blogs have covered the shouting, bribing, cajoling, temper tantrums and last minute panics in comprehensive detail. So I don’t need to go over it here.

When the kids have finally left for school with a friend or when I return from doing that same school run (we alternate weekly to save both our sanities) peace has descended.

I use the first half hour or so to drag the house back into some semblance of order. Washing up from breakfast, hanging up wet laundry, putting dry clothes away.

And then as many times a week as is possible I make my second brew of the day (there is no way I would survive the preceding carnage without my first caffeinated cuppa, in a big ‘morning’ mug) and sit at my computer to clear some admin. Of which there is a seemingly unending and ever increasing amount of.

This often takes me longer than it should. And the reason is the view.

We live on a large housing estate built in stages from the 1930s to the 1970s. As such I have no way of seeing rolling hills, snow capped mountains or fields of wheat. I do however have a view of my bird feeders.

My morning admin routine seems to coincide nicely with my birds’ first pass of the day.

I once went to Kenya and spent an amazing holiday on safari. It is truly one of the best vacations I have ever been on. One night was spent at Treetops (where the Queen found out she was monarch all those years ago) and my husband and I sat in a viewing gallery at floor height watching the comings and goings at the large watering hole, which is why the venue is there. The animals came in shifts. Starting with the smaller herbivores all the way up to rhinos and then moving on in the twilight to the carnivores. The animals apparently do this every day. Keep an order.

My birds are the same. They are creatures of habit. About this time every day I get my tits. The children think this is highly amusing… I am beyond their sniggering now. Large numbers of great, blue and coal tits descend and eat their way through vast quantities of sunflower hearts. Today, highly excitingly, there was a Black Cap hidden amongst them…I mistook it at first for a coal tit…but it wasn’t. My identification book is always to hand.

Lunch time is another ‘pass’. I hear the tell tale squeaking of my favourite bird before I see them. And my little flock of about seven long tailed tits arrive and cover the fat ball feeder. The other visitors look lumpen in comparison to their tiny, darting frames.

Shortly after this time I often get carrion birds (jackdaws, crows, rooks and magpies) who also like the fat balls. Once they have Hoovered up the remains left on the floor by the LTT frenzy they have to do a leaping sort of dance to reach the feeder as they are too large to hang.

The wood pigeons are less reliable. The kids have named them Barbara and Bob- Barbara sits forlornly atop the highest feeder looking puzzled, whilst Bob has developed a method of hanging by his feet off the handle at the top of the feeder and flapping his wings to keep his beak in the vicinity of the opening below- I am not convinced the calories he gleans are sufficient to cover those expended on such an acrobatic display.

In the afternoon my resident robin is often to be seen flitting in and out from the bushes to nick seed. He mostly comes when no one else is there. I also see green and chaff- finches and sparrows. I have yet to attract back the goldfinches which were so prevalent at my old house. But I am hopeful.

And then again at tea time the flocks of tits return for their evening meal. My children are sick of my shouting ‘LTT alert’ when they are eating their sausage and mash. I have a great view of the feeder from my seat at the table. One would almost think I had planned it that way.

And that is my birding day. Regular and reassuring. Calming. And a delight.


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