musingsponderingsandrants

Parenting, profundities and humour

Slightly taxing…. — January 7, 2018

Slightly taxing….

Tax-Season-is-Coming

Here is a thing about me. I am very efficient. I do not like stuff ‘hanging over me’. Occasionally this back fires.

Just over a year ago I was offered some one off consultancy type work. I can’t really tell you what this was all about but once I had got over my initial feelings of panic and allowed a little bit of ‘wow maybe I am still someone whose brain has not been sufficiently addled by years of child rearing and house keeping that someone thinks I maybe useful for something vaguely important’ to set in I decided to accept.

Being my usual efficient self I registered as self employed with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in case I needed to pay tax.

I am not a stranger to the HMRC as I am a registered Agent. This may surprise you. I do get a gentle frisson of excitement every time I get an invitation to join the Agent’s Forum or receive incomprehensible e mails updating me on the complexities of Corporation Tax. But really it is just a way for me to do my husband’s and mother’s  tax returns for them. Because I am slightly money minded. And enjoy form filling.

Mother no longer needs a return doing now she is no longer a property magnate. Well since she sold her rented one bed flat anyway. And so my Agency duty consists of copying figures from my husband’s P60 and P11D and informing the HMRC of the laughably low amounts of interest he earns on the money we haven’t yet squandered on electronic devices for the offspring.

To be honest I was quietly looking forward to the challenge of completing a return for myself. ‘Self employed’ is a whole new form which I had yet to tackle. I love a challenge me.

Anyway for reasons I won’t bore you with I never got paid for that work. I did it but not for cash. That sounds slightly seedy but I can reassure you it wasn’t, in any way.

No worries I thought to myself I will simply deregister with the HMRC. Ah unfortunately not. Having registered I have to do at least two years of returns before I am able to deregister.  Bummer.

Anyway for those of you not in the know the deadline for UK self assessment on line returns is the 31st January. Historically I have been much earlier in my submissions. This is because one of my clients (my mother) used to nag me to get it done. My other client doesn’t. Nag me. Which it now transpires is a shame.

Anyway Christmas is over. I can no longer put off all those things I have been putting off since October when Preparing for Christmas took all my energy or at least was an excuse I could use to put off all those things. All Those Things only really consisted of those tax returns. You will remember from paragraph one that I usually do not like things hanging over me. Apparently things that will land me a large fine are…fine though. I should really explore this part of my psyche at some point. Not now though. More important things to do.

And so yesterday on the 4th Jan I decided I needed to tackle those tax returns.

It probably won’t surprise you to know that I have a spreadsheet of all my savings accounts. This makes me sound a bit like Rockerfeller but I really don’t want to give you that impression. Most of the accounts are legacy and have tuppence ha’penny in and are a result of expiring ISAs from when I worked and had no children and had a bit of spare cash. Some are proper accounts from a similar time. Some I opened to take legacy funds off my husband to avoid tax as I am/was/still am but now have to prove it due to my damned efficiency a non tax payer. Some are newer and opened when I had a hotline to Martin Lewis the self proclaimed money saving expert and was trying to get a decent rate of interest on these funds. It has been impossible to get a decent rate of interest in the UK for several years whilst base rate has languished unloved below 1%. As such I have somewhat given up moving my small amount of savings around.

The mess of my savings accounts is further compounded by the fact that over the years a lot of those accounts have changed hands. So what started off as an Egg has hatched into a northern building society etc. I dutifully kept all the letters informing me of such things unread in a file which would be marked ‘stuff I should have probably read and got round to before the deadline for my completely pointless first ever tax return was upon me’ if I had the gift of foresight.

Anyway I trawled through the spreadsheet looking for taxable savings accounts and made a list.

No one sends out paper to customers anymore. Although I applaud this from an environmental perspective it meant that I had no tax based certificates from any of my savings accounts except for a midlands based building society who still kindly do write every year telling me the interest I have earned on my entirely tax exempt ISA. Thanks. I do often wonder what I should spend that fiver on.

Incidentally this also makes proving one’s address quite difficult. I no longer have utility bills less than three months old showing my address as no one sends them. Well the Water Board do but only every  six months and the Council Tax annually. This was an issue when I wanted to redirect my mail when we moved house, as my address proof was over three months old. It got quite problematic. I did at one point suggest that the postman who had been delivering to me at my address for around 5 years could call randomly one day to check I actually lived there. But they weren’t having any of it. I can’t remeber how I got round that one now, possibly a waiver, signed in blood.

Sorry I digress. Now I just had to get my hands on tax certificates from those relevant institutions.

This meant I had to go into the drawer. I expect everyone has such a drawer. It is full of passwords and user names for a myriad of on line accounts which I should have committed to memory. No one has the ability to commit such a large amount of stuff to memory. Do they? It also contains pass cards and readers for banks. Notes of my memorable answers to memorable questions. Which I cannot remember. And such like. One piece of paper from one bank had the words ‘kiwi’ and ‘tree frog’ cryptically scribbled and then highlighted by my own hand. I looked forward to finding out what the bejeebers that was all about.

I managed to get on line to a few of those financial institutions. The last time I did this was probably last year when I updated the spreadsheet with balances after the annual round of interest payments had been made. Still thinking of ways to use those fivers.

Anyway I managed it with a few. I was on my last one. I had saved it for last as it is like getting into Fort Knox as it requires a 9 digit customer number (in my memory obviously) a passcard and reader with another 6 digit code. Again committed to memory, obviously.

I found the customer number. I got to the card reader response stage and entered the PIN which was accepted. A number was produced which I entered. Then I got the failure message. My card had expired. I needed to ring up. Not to worry I had another customer registration number and PIN for the same bank for their telephone banking service. The PIN was missing from the tear off letter. I emptied the drawer and found it attached to the bottom of my old calculator which no longer works but which I keep for sentimental reasons as it got me through 2 O levels and 2 A levels in maths. If only those qualifications in maths were of help now. But no a degree in cryptology and a much, much better memory would be of more use. I stuck the PIN to the letter with sellotape. I was not going to be caught out that way again. During this process I also found about 15 plastic documents wallets, some address labels, some A4 manila envelopes and an on line banking letter from another bank which I also needed for my husband’s return which had fallen down the back of the drawers. Result.

I braved the telephone system. Once I had negotiated the customer registration number and PIN entry I then had to say in a few words what my problem was. A few words are never enough but not to mind I said “my on line banking authentication card has expired”. This was clearly too many words as the system only heard “card expired” and put me through to the Card Centre clearly thinking I needed a new debit or credit card. The menus then bore no relation to my issue. No matter I thought I will simply enter numbers or say words that will lead me to an actual human. What it led me to was them hanging up on me.

I tried once more from the beginning. This time after listening again to how much the phone call was costing me (perhaps not the best way to spend those fivers) and re doing the reference number/PIN combo I said “on line banking”. This time I got through to a human. In India.

I don’t have an issue with people from India. Except that they can’t understand me. To be honest I have this issue with call centres in Liverpool. What I really need is a nice middle class call centre in the Home Counties. Anyway after what seemed like an age and me desperately imploring my customer services advisor not to put me back through to Card Services I thought he got the gist of what I needed. He went away to take advice. And then he came back to say I needed to go into a branch with 2 forms of ID, one with proof of my address less than 3 months old, to order a new card. I am not in a good place water board/ Council Tax cycle wise and so this seemed like a very bad idea. Indeed.

Moreover I have been burnt by customer service telephone banking teams telling me to do this before. You dutifully go into a branch and try to explain what you need and they look at you all blank as if you have just landed from an alien planet. Then they tell you to call the customer services team. In short they cannot help you. They can, however, sell you a mortgage.

I decided to just order the Tax Certificate and cut out myself as middle man and tackle the expired on line authentication card at my leisure. My customer services advisor went away again and came back to say, thankfully, that this was possible. He asked me to confirm which account I needed it for. I have several. Mostly expired ISAs and terrible savings accounts they opened for me when I failed to deal with my expired ISAs. I looked down the list of accounts which had been sent to me when those accounts moved over from the previous institution I had actually opened the accounts with (which from memory had much easier on line security) and provided an account number which he seeemed to recognise. He assured me that the certificate would be with me in about  3 days. I hung up.

I then looked more carefully at that letter which I had got out of that file of stuff I should have read before my first ever and completely pointless tax return was upon me and realised there was another account I needed a certificate for. It had also occurred to me that maybe I should have been sent a new authentication card and that maybe I had never changed my address with them. Such things are possible.

I called back. Same painful process. Different customer services advisor. Same going away and coming back again. I provided the other account. Was assured my address was correct. Ordered the tax certificate. This one would take 5 days. Fingers crossed.

This whole process had now taken about two hours. My floor was covered with stationery I had retrieved from behind the back of my, let’s call them my password, drawers. The dinner was beeping urgently at me. I decided to quit.

I tried to forget that husband also had an account at this institution and that he would have to go through the same painful process himself.

The next morning galvanised and refreshed I logged onto the HMRC website to start off my husband’s return. And found I could not get past my Agency home screen. Too much traffic. The site had crashed.

I can only hope that my documentation arrives within the three or five days promised and that the site is accessible at some point. Some forums suggest before 8.30am. That sounds like my best option once the kids finally return to school next week. Apparently about 9000 people did it on Christmas Day and Boxing Day this year. They don’t seem so stupid now.

I am never ever leaving it this late again. Promise.

 

Go Compare… — August 25, 2016

Go Compare…

Home-Insurance.png

So today I got round to a bit of household admin…. I do all the admin…. It is part of my job…. Which I don’t actually have…. As I am variously classed as housewife/ homemaker/ full time mother/ waste of space…. That last one isn’t on many forms. But the implication is there.

Anyhoo. I do the admin.

During the school holidays the admin tends to pile up. Because I find it hard to concentrate enough to do it with a house full of kids wanting me to: mend and then blow up punctured paddling pools; admire their zip wire constructions which stretch precariously from bedroom window to trampoline and down which teddies pinned by ears to coat hangers career less than gracefully; rescue indoor remote control helicopters from the tops of trees in next door’s garden. More or less all at the same time. On an average day.

In any event the pile had got unwieldy. And was threatening to topple over. And merge with the pile of school/ child extra curricular type admin stuff. I need two piles. To avoid such toppling. School/ child extra curricular type admin is not a priority currently. Them not being at school or doing anything much of an extra curricular nature except watching endless you tube videos involving vloggers or Pokemon Go, avoiding anything relating to musical instruments and football. There is always bloody football. That game just never quits. Ever. I digress. So this other admin pile had also got quite big. Therefore I decided I needed to begin to attack my home admin pile. I had a quick shifty. The pile contained:-

Details of my new mobile phone insurance which bizarrely had been sent to my old address. That needed changing.

A new address card from friends. Again sent to my old address. I needed to let them know we had moved. I could have sworn I wrote our new address in their Christmas card but clearly the message had not got through. I guess this is how people fall out of touch. If the lovely people who bought our old house had not sent our friends’ change of address card on to us our Christmas cards this year would just have ended up in a recycling factory. Sad.

Middlest’s child trust fund statement. This sounds like we are much posher than we are…we aren’t.

A request to book in my annual boiler service. Again. Blimey that came round quick.

A large note to myself saying BOOK MIDDLESTS BIRTHDAY PARTY. In block capitals. With no apostrophe I noticed. Someone had also highlighted the note with pink highlighter. I think I can guess who. Probably not a grammar aficionado.

A letter telling me of a change in our bank account’s terms and conditions. I usually bin these letters as they just tell me how much more I will get charged if I go overdrawn. But I had seen a reference to ‘Travel Insurance’ on the front page and so needed to investigate. Please see below.

The claim forms from my Bank account’s travel insurance company which needed filling in following our recent medical escapades in Portugal. (See Why are there no Aspirin in the Jungle? for more information should you feel the need.)

An automatic renewal letter for the breakdown cover on my oven. Decisions decisions.   Do I allow renewal and then ensure my oven never breaks down again or cancel and ensure my oven breaks down a day later….always a lose lose situation.

A renewal letter from my insurer for my home insurance.

I decided to tackle the last item first. I thought it would be a quick ‘win’. Cursory glance to ensure T&Cs still in order. File. Jobs a goodun.

I looked at the premiums for the coming year. They looked a little, well, larger than I was currently paying, but I wasn’t sure. In our house move last year many, many things changed, got more expensive, got more complicated and such like.  I wasn’t sure how much we were actually paying. So I checked it to last year’s letter and found out my premiums had gone up by over 20%. Ouch.

Now I am not one of those perpetual comparers. I do not regularly check my energy providers. Switch insurers at the merest whim. I am not the proud owner of numerous meerkats wearing dubious outfits. I am loyal. Which I hoped counted for something.

Clearly not as this seemed to me to be taking the proverbial piss. I had claimed on my home insurance during the year (we broke some doors- well the wind did please see The View for more info). I thought maybe this was skewing the premiums. But, no, I saw that my No Claims Discount had gone up 5% making the price hike even more ridiculous.

My mother arrived. I hadn’t called her for insurance advice. She didn’t arrive in lycra tights with a cape ‘Insurance Woman’…She was coming around anyway. But even without the benefit of superhero powers she agreed the price hike seemed ridiculous.

There was nothing for it. I was going to have to enter a price comparison web site. I have tried to use such places before. To change energy suppliers. I got so bogged down in kilo watt hours and such like that I gave up trying. It had seemed that I needed to refresh my Maths A level before attempting again. I was hoping an insurance site might need less algebra skills.

In the event, although it took a fair while, most of the questions could be answered from my handy, if expensive, renewal letter. And the others I did my best with. I pressed the button. Those few seconds whilst the site was ‘getting quotes’ felt a bit like Christmas morning as a kid when one has awoken too early and is not able to immediately investigate the bulging stocking at the end of the bed. Well maybe I exaggerate a little. But my internet is very slow (something else on the admin pile) and so it did seem that time stretched out a little.

Well when those quotes came up I was staggered with how much less some of them were.

The first thing I did was scroll down to a name I recognised. Call me cautious but I struggle to buy stuff from firms I have never heard of. Plus a lot of them had rather dodgy looking ratings. It is all well and good paying tuppence ha’penny for an insurance policy but if the claims process is going to let you down it seems rather pointless.

Even discounting the more discounted quotes based on my gut feel and innate warning system of ‘if it seems to good to be true it probably is’ I could get my insurance nearly £450 cheaper elsewhere.

I still was not convinced and went through to the well known department store’s actual site and made sure the quote was like for actual like. OK I needed to amend the voluntary excess down a bit which put the price up a bit. Still a £425 saving.

I rang them. That warning bell was still going off in my head. It took three minutes to get through the menu system and to listen to all the dire warnings about lieing and to their privacy policy which basically consists of one having no privacy unless one stipulates that one wants privacy.

I got a lovely lady. In the UK. Always a bonus. I checked my concerns. Had they understood my claims history? Where my specified items showing? Etc. She confirmed all was in order and urged me to complete the process on line as it would be more expensive to do it through her. Good advice too.

My mind was almost made up. My innate sense of loyalty kicked in. I rang my current insurer to see if they could do anything and anyway I would need to tell them I wished to cancel. I got through their menu system in record time as I had clicked ‘I wish to cancel my insurance’ early on in the process. That seemed to help.

I explained that their insurance was too expensive. The man ‘ran through the renewal terms’ and came back with an offer £200 lower than the original quote. I was flabbergasted. In fact now I was even more cross. I asked him why he was suddenly able to provide me with insurance for £200 less a year than previously quoted.

He spouted some guff about the quote being computer generated and then I let him talk on by saying nothing and his ‘excuses’ got lamer and lamer. In summary what he meant was:

If you are a sucker who does not challenge his insurance quote you will get shafted.

I ‘politely’ declined his offer. Added accidental damage to my new quote and still proceeded to save our family £400 a year less the cost a few phone calls and my time, which as we know costs nothing.

The price of loyalty, it seems, is extremely high.

Shocking.

 

 

Will Power — April 27, 2016

Will Power

image

Tomorrow I am going out with friends for lunch.

I do this quite a lot. To break up the tedium of housework. To compare taxi-ing schedules. To bitch about school and homework and husbands and cliques. And to discuss Game of Thrones.

But tomorrow three of us are going out specifically to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

As such I thought it might be nice to get a card. And a gift. And so yesterday, having a bit of ‘parking at school hideously early to get a spot before pick up’ time free, I walked to the supermarket and, as well as restocking the fruit bowl, I bought a card and a nice box of chocolates. There are far too many ‘nices’ in that sentence. I may edit them out later. Although editing may fall foul of the ‘nice to do’ versus ‘need to do’ rule in the frantic-ness of Cub pick up.

I often buy my friends presents based on what I would like to receive. And there is no situation, in my opinion, that is not improved with a nice box of chocolates. In this case those sea shell ones. Um, umm loverly…. (That word again sorry).

Now I like to think I am a person with quite a lot of self discipline. I am especially good if I have lists to stick to. I tend to be driven by a schedule of tasks and the satisfaction of crossing them off once accomplished. Hence my cleaning rotas. And interminable To Do lists.

I didn’t have ‘Buy card and present’ on my To Do list but still I felt good about getting those tasks accomplished two days ahead of schedule.

I felt even better about myself once I had resisted writing those tasks on my To Do list just so that I could immediately cross them off.

I went about the rest of my evening. The usual. Taxi ing. Feeding people. Clearing up pots, and sweaty kits and dirty socks. Assisting with angles revision and with drawing an exploded diagram of a sandwich (don’t ask). Brushing hair containing yoghurt. Forcing reluctant children into beds. Etc. (I feel a need to tell my angles joke…should I? Oh go on then. Here is the family of angles; a baby (acute), a mum (right) a dog (reflex) and…. a dad (obtuse)…well I like it).

Then about nine o’clock, just as husband and I settled down to watch The Tunnel, my wonderful will power gave out.

I should perhaps mention that the strength of my will power is affected by many factors. The time of the month. The thing I am trying to resist/ make myself do. My boredom/ tiredness/ hunger level. The volume the ‘little voice in my head’ is set to. Etc.

The ‘little voice in my head’ began telling me that I should reward myself for my foresight in accomplishing my unscheduled ‘Buy Birthday Present’ task in some way. I was starting to regret not allowing myself to add it to the list and cross it off…

This was unfortunate. Especially as the only thing the ‘little voice in my head’ thought would be perfect as a reward was…sea shell shaped chocolates.

I lasted until the first advert break before giving in and opening the box.

So today after my haircut I popped into Lidl and replaced the box with another, considerably cheaper yet almost identical looking, and hopefully tasting, box. I then went to a friends for coffee. And as it transpired lunch.

I had left the chocolates in the car. When I got home a couple of hours later I brought them inside.

I should explain that although it is sunny here today it feels like mid winter. This has been going on for a while. There was frost on my car this morning and I am still wearing my bobble hat. The heating is clicking on and I have yet to remove my thermal vest despite it being perilously close to May. This current weather is more than slightly worrying ahead of our camping trip/wedding to the Welsh coast in a couple of days. No doubt there will be a blog entry in that. If I thaw out enough to write it.

So despite the sun and because of the frankly chilly outside temperature I had not given any thought to the possible downsides of leaving a box of sea shell shaped chocolates in the car for a couple of hours. This was again unfortunate.

Suffice to say the chocolates are no longer sea shell shaped. But rather have morphed into a multi hued slab of chocolate adhered to the box lid.

Therefore over the next week or so I shall be able to directly compare the ‘real thing’ to the Lidl rip off version. I will let you know about that taste thing. Although the melting and resolidifying process may provide sufficient doubt to render a direct comparison inequitable.

In upshot tomorrow, ahead of our lunch, I will be buying another present. Which in hindsight might have been a better idea all along.

Flowers I think.

 

Mr Works? May I Introduce Mr Spanner? — January 10, 2016

Mr Works? May I Introduce Mr Spanner?

spanner

So here it is.

I updated my spreadsheet of child related activities.

This has to be done each term when clubs change. It lists days of the week and the clubs each child attends at what time and where and with what equipment.

Not much had changed from last term. In fact a small ‘win’ saw Eldest no longer attending after school rugby on Mondays. Giving him a bigger window between getting home from school (allowing for Middlest’s Strings until 4.30pm) and Scouts…yippee…he could do his homework rather than saving it for Tuesday.

Tuesday was still a disaster zone… collect Eldest at 4pm and bring home. Go back for Middlest (badminton) and Youngest (netball) at 5pm and get home. Stuff food into children. Hustle Middlest sufficiently to get him fed, changed and ready to leave at 5.45pm for football training. Collect Middlest at 7pm. Relax.

Wednesdays remained…shall we say …difficult. Collect Eldest and Middlest at normal school time and deposit home. Feed Eldest and Middlest. Collect Youngest at 5pm from Choir on Week 1 or 5.15pm from Girls Football Week 2. Get home. Without trying to swear too much at the traffic. Chuck her indoors. Grab Eldest and drive to 5.45pm piano lesson. Feed Youngest. Get them to get changed for Cubs. Drive to piano for 6.15pm to collect Eldest and then straight to Cubs for 6.30pm. Leave Middlest and Youngest at Cubs. Collect them at 8pm. Relax.

Thursdays were not much better. Collect Youngest at 3.45pm. Rush her Maths homework and get her to get changed for football training. Leave at 4.45pm to drop her at said football training. Drive to school to collect Eldest (choir. week one; hockey, week 2) and Middlest (football). Come home. Collect Youngest at 6.30pm. Feed kids. Relax.

Friday remained the day I got all three of them at normal chucking out time. I merely perform the piano lesson hokey-cokey. An easy day.

So OK its bad. But do-able. Just. As long as Cubs isn’t anywhere unusual.

Then I got an e mail from Youngest’s football coach. They had moved her training to 6-7pm on a Wednesday. Just for this term. But still.

Not sure what I am going to do yet. It doesn’t start up again until the 27th Jan. And so currently I have my head in the sand.

I may never take it out.

 

 

To Do — August 27, 2015

To Do

To Do list

When we started on this long summer break from school and clubs and routine my kids and I made a To Do list of essentials that we wished to, well, do.

I am wedded to my To Do lists. I could not run my daily, usual life without them. A typical one during term time looks like this:-

To Do

THURSDAY

  • CELLO!
  • get chicken out of freezer
  • Put on slow cook sausage casserole
  • birthday cards!
  • clean 2 bathrooms and kitchen
  • Bank accounts and money
  • 3 pm bung jacket spuds in oven (highlighted in pink)
  • Leave to collect Youngest
  • Homework!!
  • Feed youngest 4.20
  • 4.45 leave to collect boys
  • Feed boys
  • Youngest to Beaver Scouts 5.50
  • Homework!!!
  • Drive eldest to football 7
  • collect Youngest 7.30
  • collect eldest 8

These are just things I might otherwise forget in my day to day racing around. I wouldn’t actually not collect my children but having the timings written down just allows me to slot in jobs without temporarily ‘forgetting’. The daily tasks don’t get listed; laundry, washing up, admin, making beds and all that jazz. That would just be silly. And give me writers cramp.

In the bottom corner of my To Do list sheet (which I write weekly on a Sunday evening) is my Larger Projects section. This tends to be a mere repetition of all those bigger jobs which I never seem to get round to. Currently, if I remember correctly, it has on it

  • Tax returns x2
  • PUT PHOTOS IN ALBUMS (the whole of 2015 is outstanding)
  • Upload photos to Flickr
  • Tackle BT bill.
  • Sort filling cabinet and shred/ bin stuff over 2 years old. Certainly guarantees and instructions for appliances I no longer possess.

This is is actually quite a short larger projects list. It is probably because the moving house process made me do a lot of those projects I had been putting off. But not all.

I temporarily discard these lists during the school holidays and it is a blessed relief. I do feel a little as if I have left the house without my knickers on but I think sometimes one does need to live life on the edge. To keep ones own edge…

So we agreed a kind of ‘macro’ To Do list.

HOLIDAY TO DO LIST

  • swimming at fun pool (done….twice)
  • cinema for Inside Out and The Minions (big tick)
  • Shaun the Sheep hunting in Bristol (done)
  • a day at one of our favourite woodland parks to build dens (tick)
  • Bike ride into town (done with friends an added bonus)
  • Costa Coffee trip (not done this yet… well we did do it on Birmingham station when we missed our connection but it was a takeaway and quite ‘fraught’- it wasn’t really the relaxed cafe experience the kids were after)
  • Loom bands (Youngest and I enjoyed making Belle and Elsa, Eldest made a catapult….)
  • Rebuild Tolkein Lego (Eldest hasn’t really stepped up to the plate here- I have made in roads though, a Hobbit Hole and Lake Town)
  • Knebworth House- without the house- just with the giant slides, adventure playground and dinosaur trial. (done in the rain)
  • birthday sleepover (just recovering)
  • Hosting play dates for all (have managed boys but not Youngest. No doubt that will be brought up in later years)
  • National Trust farm place near here (again with friends yippee)
  • meeting up with cousins and loads of other friends who we don’t see enough of (this has gone quite well).

Then I spoiled it all by adding a few things

  • shoes
  • school clothes and sports kit
  • hair
  • teeth
  • stationery
  • learn to tell the time (youngest not me…)
  • music practise
  • times tables

Some of that boring stuff has been accomplished. Some has not. When they are back at school and life resumes its normal hectic pace I will kick myself for allowing them to slob in front of Wreck It Ralph instead of grilling them on their 7 times table. But for now we are revelling in the freedom. Let’s put that on that ever growing list.

  • lie ins
  • too much TV
  • too much video gaming
  • being in PJs until obscene times.

We have done other stuff too. Trampolining has featured strongly. Middlest has devoured about twenty books. We have been to a wedding, an outdoor brass band concert, Youngest has built Blott houses, Eldest catapults and cross bows. We have flown kites and we have waited in for a lot of furniture…

Also on the unwritten imaginary list;

  • fighting
  • tears
  • slamming doors
  • screaming
  • insolence
  • whining
  • complaining
  • saying ‘I’m bored’ every five minutes

I would like to say this was a child only list but I have been guilty of a fair few of them.

So that appears to be our recipe for a nearly perfect summer. In the week remaining we have to sort out stationery and I think that will also cover off the Costa trip. We also have another friend in the diary and we are off camping for the weekend with more friends.

When next Wednesday rolls around I am hoping for an unqualified To Do list success. That rarely happens in my usual day to day life (although I do at least try to make sure all my kids are home by bedtime) and will be a ‘good feeling’.

I am not looking forward to returning to my usual more mundane schedules. But hey as I say to the kids

“If it was a holiday every day it would stop being special”.

Hmmm…

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