musingsponderingsandrants

Parenting, profundities and humour

Sorry — June 6, 2017

Sorry

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I feel I should apologise.

Not to all of you.

Some of you live abroad.

But to all my local readers I need to be humbly sorry.

For the unrelenting pissing down rain and heavy winds that we are currently experiencing in the south east of England are a direct result of my children’s school.

Eldest and Middlest are on Activities Week. Let me explain. The school has a commitment to ‘outdoor’ education which means nothing for most of the year (except for a requirement to stand on cold, muddy pitches an awful lot and having to avoid square drill marching cadets on Tuesday evenings) but for one week a year it does mean the children go off on jolly japes and adventures in the great outdoors to commune with nature, learn more about themselves and drive their parents into a tizz over the kit requirements.

Now don’t get me wrong I am all in favour of outdoor education. All my children are in the Scout movement. We camp. We bike ride and swim and hike and surf and climb and take measured calculated risks with pen knives and camp fires. In short we do a lot of outdoor stuff. I love the outdoors. So do my kids.

Middlest (in Year 7) has a week of fiendishly complicated logistics which involve him in 2 local days out at three different locations and a three day, 2 night away trip. Easy peasy? Not really. Despite filling in the comprehensive (bizarrely yellow) forms stating that I was not going to collect Middlest from either off site venue as he has, you know, siblings that I needed to collect from school contemporaneously I still got a panicked call the week before half term during an important meeting demanding to know if I was collecting Middlest from the Country Park on Thursday. I ignored the call, so they rang my husband who knows nothing about logisitics who then also interrupted my important meeting. In any event Middlest is camping in Oxfordshire on Thursday and so clearly even if he hadn’t had siblings I was not going to be collecting him from the local (ish) country park. We got that sorted. Eventually.

Yesterday he spent the day at a local lake. It was too windy to sail. He was a bit disgruntled about that claiming that surely the more wind the better. I explained about capsizing and ramming. Into each other and the bank. He relented somewhat. Not to worry he had enjoyed the kayaking (although he was frustrated at having to go slowly as he is a bit of a ‘pro’ at kayaking (his words)) and the bell boating. And the replacement sailing activity. Sliding down a piece of astro turf straight into the lake and swimming back to shore. He thought it necessary to wear his waterproof coat during this manoeveur. Not entirely sure why. Maybe I should have explained before the event that waterproof does not mean full immersion proof.  And he could have removed all manner of crap from the pockets first. Which I had to fish out and discard later. Yuck.

So a bag of wet clothes, towels, water shoes and waterproof coats awaited me. Not to worry plenty of time to get that coat dry ready for today. Not. It is at times like these that I seriously regret not having a tumble dryer. We love the outdoors remember. And would like it to stay unmolested by global warming for a little bit longer…

I hung the coat on the line outside and left to get Youngest from her footie training leaving Middlest with strict instructions to bring in the coat (and water shoes) if the black ominous clouds lived up to their appearance. Guess how well that went. I suppose I only lost an hour of drying time.

He needed that coat today as the weather forecast was even worse. He was due to spend half the day on a high ropes course which from memory when we did it a few years ago had no shelter at all and the other half in a wood orienteering. This is the wood which is one of our regular haunts in the holidays. The picture up there is what my children looked like after a wet day there last year. I was severely dreading facing the state of the waterproof coat, and indeed hike boots, when he returned.

It has rained solidly all day. And been very windy. In fact it would have been better if he had been sliding into that lake today as he got drenched to the skin anyway from the unrelenting precipitation.

His hike boots are literally waterlogged. His coat sodden. Not to worry these things dry out except that I have to pack them all later in a suitable rucksack so he can take them away camping tomorrow morning. He will be wearing both there. There is no way they are coming into contact with his sleeping bag. Which is currently dry. Looking at the forecast I doubt that will last.

Luckily Middlest is made of strong stuff. Despite his small and slightly puny appearance he has a great capacity for tolerating mud and rain and immense fortitude in the face of adversity. On the Year 6 ‘Outdoor Education’ trip he fell flat on his face in the mud whilst doing a blind trail. He thought he should just dive head first straight through the tractor tyre. He just found it funny as muddy water dripped off his nose. Apparently. Today he was fortunate as he was the first on the high ropes course (he volunteered- that’s Middlest for you, loves heights and climbing and is an all round monkey) and therefore got round the course before it was abandoned due to high winds. Some children had to be rescued after only a few obstacles.

So he will probably enjoy then next three days when again unrelenting rain is forecast- except for tomorrow when they are travelling there- he won’t wash, brush his teeth or change his clothes. He has a plan. Wear his waterproofs over his clothes all the time. Simply remove them before bed. And sleep. In the middle of the tent (or shelter if they are mad enough to go for that) away from the probably muddy door and also the probably wet sides. With his mates. So they can chat.

We packed all the other stuff anyway just in case. No PJs though. No point.

As for Eldest he left for a week on the welsh coast on Sunday. It was nice when they arrived. According to the text we got and the sparse Facebook photos. I glanced at the forecast for the rest of the week, shuddered and decided not to think about it. At least they are spending part of the week in an actual building.

So again my humble apologies.

The weather will improve next week when they are back in Maths and Geography.

Promise.

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The rucksack wearing Middlest

 

 

 

A Thoughtful One(sie)… — March 21, 2017

A Thoughtful One(sie)…

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Currently I am wearing my most unflattering garment. I do not say this lightly.

Like every other lady I have a selection of unflattering garments. Period pants. A pair of pyjamas that were bought in a large supermarket chain by my husband when I was stuck without warning in hospital with pneumonia. Swimsuits with the bottoms nearly worn through from over enthusiastic aquapark participation. Sexy lingerie that  once fitted and now, doesn’t. But which I have kept in hopeful anticipation of returning at some point to my previous svelte like self. My ABBA fancy dress all in one electric blue cat suit. Fleeces without form in dubious colours. Baggy thermals for camping and pitch side viewing. And my very favourite trackie bottoms which belonged to a previous partner and which he reluctantly allowed me to take when we split (along with my bedside alarm clock, I left him a bright blue lounge and a yellow sofa still on tick) which now have paint on the bum from a decorating job early on in my marriage.

But all these garments look Dior-like next to this garment. I am referring to my onesie. My Piglet onesie.

I am not a fan of onesies. Don’t get me wrong I think my children look adorable in theirs. We replace them every Christmas. Currently Eldest is bedecked as Chewie from Star Wars, Middlest is the cutest dinosaur I have ever seen and Youngest is a tiger which anyone who knows her will know is better than apt.

So onesies on kids I like. But I am not a fan of onesies on adults. I guess in late tennagerhood or one’s early twenties the wearing of a onesie might be seen as post ironic or some other such twaddle. I vaguely get the idea of cavorting as a dalamation  at Glastonbury, or my local railway station as I saw a few years ago, when one is 22. But only just.

There is certainly an age when onesies are no longer appropriate. Whether one is on a campsite or not. I have lost track of the amount of times I have stood next to a white rabbit (really on a camp site? what were you thinking?) whilst cleaning my teeth in a communal campsite washroom. And realising the person was my age or older. And then seeing them returning to a caravan thus divesting them of the only possible excuse for adult onesie wearing- the cold.

So you may ask why I am sporting my AA Milne inspired outfit. Although to be pedantic about it the onesie has been Disneyfied and as such is not a true A A Milne Piglet which I know annoys some purists. I personally don’t mind a Disney piglet, I once shared a buffet with him in Florida and he was more than adorable.

Sorry I digress. That was it, why am I wearing this heinous pieces of clothing? That doesn’t fit. That hangs below my crotch area in an intensely unflattering way. That is so hot to wear I break out in a sweat merely looking at it. That is not in any way ‘breathable’ being woven entirely of man made fibres. That has poppers, surely only suitable for babygrows and throw back bodies that have returned inexplicably from the eighties to haunt a new round of young women. That causes all sorts of toileting issues. That is essentially hideous.

I wear it because last Christmas my children clubbed together financially and organised with my mother in law the ordering and wrapping of said onesie as my Christmas present. They got Piglet because they know I love him as a character. They got a onesie so we could all wear them as a family.

It was perhaps the most thoughtful thing they had done to date.

And it could have been so much worse.

As it was for my husband who is forever consigned to being a Minion with a dungaree pocket in a deeply unhelpful place.

 

Camping…it’s in tents… — September 1, 2015

Camping…it’s in tents…

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We have just got back from a three night camping trip.

Well when I say just I don’t actually mean just. Because in order to be in a place to have some time to pen this it is around 3 hours since we returned from our three night camping trip.

In those three hours we have only managed to partially unpack. We still have a trailer full of wet ‘stuff’ to unload and dry out. But that is totally pointless currently. It being slightly….inclement. Well I guess it is a Bank Holiday Monday and so one should expect to need the heating on and a pair of waders.

I have a love hate relationship with camping. I love it in the dry. And I hate it in the wet.

And even that is not strictly true. I love it in the dry but only once we are set up. And I don’t love it in the dry when taking it all down again. And I truly hate it all in the wet.

The things I like about camping are the freedom it affords the kids, snuggling up in layers of thermals in a toasty sleeping bag with all my children within touching distance, the fresh air, waking early, going outside and putting on my whistling kettle and watching the rest of the site wake up whilst supping tea, and the low cost.

None of this is much fun in the rain. Excepting the cost. But even then it feels like good weather should come as standard. Not an added bonus.

Through our years of experience we have decided that the optimum length of a camping trip is between 3 and 6 nights inclusive.

There is no point camping for less that three nights. The ratio of ‘putting up and taking down’-ness to time enjoying the actual camping is too low. And after six nights I cannot stand yet another day of bending down. To do everything. Unzip the door, make a cup of tea, get into bed. Etc etc. I crave worktops and door handles. And a toilet in the same abode as me. I am lucky to possess a cast iron bladder. And I do not drink. So do not need to venture out at night. Unfortunately my children often do. And require some assistance.

Part of the ‘putting up and taking down’ problem is that we do not camp light. This is, in part, down to trying to mitigate the ‘bending down’ issue. So we have collapsible tables, a cooker on legs, pop up dustbin, portable picnic table, very large tent etc.

And on the subject of tents. Tents come under the ‘gear’ category of purchase. My husband has a penchant for buying ‘gear’ for whatever activity he currently favours. He will pour over websites for hours checking reviews and ensuring whatever it is he purchases is the best in the field.

He ordered our most recent tent when our old one was irredeemably broken. Well he ordered a different tent to the one we currently have. Actually it was the same tent but in canvas. He had read somewhere during his extensive research that they have better thermal properties. He had failed to realise that it would weigh about as much as a small elephant. And would not fit in the trailer. Well I could have got it in (with the aid of a small crane) but nothing else would then have fitted. And I wasn’t going to leave all those knee saving devices at home just for a bit of thermal equilibrium.

So I was the one who rang the on line store. They were very good about it. Apparently it happens a lot. Men struggling to comprehend the dimensions on a website. Seeing truly is believing. And they agreed to send me the same tent in man made fibres and remove the huge boxes littering my hall. Which I could not physically move.

Still the tent is a monster. There are five of us so we do need quite a bit of space. But even I think being able to ball room dance in your lounge area in a tent is a little excessive.

However it comes into its own in the wet when all our other equipment has to come indoors. And we want to play endless rounds of Uno with whichever friends we are camping with. When I say ‘want to’…..

So today after a lovely few days when the rain had held off and we went biking and touring flour mills and eating cake and dancing to live bands and playing Bingo and doing scavenger hunts and chatting by our fire pit we collapsed everything. In the pouring down rain.

I managed to get the boot packed before it got really bad. But the gear in the trailer got soaked. We struggled more than usual to manhandle our gigantic tent into the small bag. Probably because there was a gallon of water in it. And also because, yet again, husband could not remember how to fold it. And we had the ‘Great Folding the Tent’ argument. Again. Every time.

Anyhoo as soon as there is a break in the clouds we will be putting the tent up again. In our garden. We will have the great ‘Trying to get the Pins into the Legs’ argument. For the second time in four days.

My boys are getting old enough to share a pup tent. I believe it is time we downsized. And got fibre glass poles.

Or a caravan?

The back of our tent....in the garden...
The back of our tent….in the garden…
Procrastination… — June 23, 2015

Procrastination…

ahh-procrastination

I think I may have mentioned before that I love writing this blog.

I think I may have also mentioned that sometimes I panic gently about running out of ideas.

And then I need to do something unpalatable. And suddenly I become full of the muse and set to work…

Today I am supposed to be packing two smallish boys up for Cub and Scout camp. It is one of those chores which sounds easier than it is. I loath it. If I merely pulled my digit out of a small orifice I could have the job licked within about two hours or so (not including the GF cake I need to bake and name labelling all their newer kit). But something in me is putting it off.

And so I am writing this piece of fluffy nonsense instead.

On the kit lists it says that the smallish boys themselves should pack their bags. Hmmm. Well that would be lovely I am sure but as tonight I have to drag all of them down to the camp field to actually pitch the Cub tents and tomorrow one has to get to a village at least 30 minutes away by 5pm during rush hour, when we will only land in from school circa 4.15pm that aint going to happen.

In any event they can’t work the loft hatch, unhook the trailer cover or sew on name badges all of which I need to accomplish to pack the bags.

No I prefer to focus their energies on remembering to BRING ALL THE STUFF I LOVINGLY PACKED BACK…

And so packing is my domain and the process (once I got round to it) goes something like this.

First I attempt to find all the stuff from downstairs. To avoid going up and down those stairs too often. So I scoop up tea towels and medication, carrier bags for wet clothes, small travel sized tubes of sunscreen, packets of tissues.

Next I raid the garage in search of camping crockery and cutlery, strong boots, wellies, a camp chair. The latter is a new one on me. Clearly Scouts is a lot more civilised than Cubs. Or the group owns less seating.

I then make my way into the loft and throw down sleeping bags, pillows, thermarests & hold-alls that could never hope to contain all this stuff. This is made harder today as I have never been in my current loft and first need to negotiate the unknown loft ladder. Once I gain access I find that I am lucky and husband has put all this stuff in plain view.

I dig out flannels that won’t embarrass but are named, four towels (eldest needs three- the mind boggles), soap in boxes (how 1970s), spare asthma inhalers and spacers.

Finally I get to the bedrooms to assemble the rest of the gear. I search drawers for all the clothes that are old and already labelled. Unfortunately we have recently replaced a lot of their outdoor gear as their ankles were on show and for some inexplicable reason I have failed to name eldest’s new Scout uniform. So I amass a large pile of sewing.

It is at this point I realise that I have forgotten ‘shoes which can get wet’ (garage), waterproofs (under the stairs) and torches (in an unknown location- last seen on my hall bookcase unfortunately in my previous abode).

I call husband and leave a message torch wise. I gather the other bits, check the weather forecast and decide to chuck in sun hats and woolly hats.

A quick glance at the clock and it becomes apparent  that I have now only got an hour left to bake that cake and eat lunch before my afternoon meeting. Should not procrastinate, should not procrastinate. So I dump stuff on the floors and vow to finish tomorrow when my supermarket will have delivered the extra tooth paste I require. I do not have enough tubes for everyone to be in a different location. These en-suites have their disadvantages including needing 3 tubes of toothpaste- well 4 now so the boys can split up too… who knew dental hygiene could be so problematic.

Mid whisking hubby calls back and asserts that the torches might be in the bottom drawer of his chest with all his running, cycling and gym gear. It is a drawer I avoid at all costs it being a tangle of an unbelievable quantity of lycra, padding and vaguely sweaty accessories. I take the plunge and rummage around and unearth the torches. Another cross off the list.

I bung the cake in the oven and stuff down a cheese and pickle sandwich. Mid crisp, and again remembering the forecast of ‘extremely heavy rain’- I believe it was a Yellow warning- I remember waterproof trousers and dig around in my under stairs cupboard. During this process the timer on my cake goes off. I extract it and rush off to my meeting.

Tomorrow I will add teddies, that toothpaste, ice the cake, try to remember water bottles.

And tonight I will face the sewing mountain.

I wouldn’t mind so much but I know that when they return precisely none of the garments or towels and flannels will have actually been used. The soap in a box will remain pristine. Even the spare pants will be untouched. I try to see the silver lining in this whilst they soak in a bath and I load the washing machine whilst trying not to touch anything and put the clean, dry clothes back in the drawers…

Footnote: I appreciate that having to pack two boys for camp is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the effort the leaders put into these events. And I really do appreciate all their work on behalf of my kids and everyone else’s. You lovely people.

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