I Don’t Know About You, But I’m Feeling Twenty Twoooooo ooo ooo!

Before I start, I’ll apologize for further popularizing those lyrics. But LSH and I had a bit of recapturing our youth today.

We made the decision that we are finally brave enough to take the kids out in Brighton shopping without me having some kind of cardiac failure because they wander off. This started me back on the decision that I need to do something with my hair before going back to school. In my head I’m stylish, however the truth is I’ve been a bit scruffy of late.

I spent a full 40 minutes desperately trying to put my hair up into victory rolls. Fail. Pin curls? Fail. How hard can this be?! Actually, it turns out that 50s hair when you have really thick wavy and long hair is REALLY difficult. I did not resemble a 50s pinup. I looked like Wurzel Gummage.

So, out came the scissors and The Fringe was reinstated. There is not a single hairdresser I’ve visited that has ever managed to achieve this look when asked, shown pictures and given tutorials. I, however appear to be able to snip my way to the Betty Page Bangs in a few minutes and about a million times better with the rest of my hair successfully pinned up into a doubled ponytail.

It’s a look I can rely on – after 6 hours of hard shopping in some very dodgy British summer weather, this is the result! (The roots were also addressed this evening. I am typing with appalling smelling red stuff on my newly bleached roots)

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Hair done, we headed out. It was raining. Wow, it was really raining. To the point where a local oak tree was hit by lightning right outside someone’s house.

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But it was well worth it. We walked the girls left, right and centre, and ended up in the comic shop where TinyPants nearly had a full on happy fit when she caught sight of of the Spirited Away graphic novel. So with that and an Adventure Time comic duly purchased we headed off for lunch.

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We went to a lovely cafe above the shops and the girls shared a table, milkshakes and a HUGE plate of nachos while they read their comics.

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LSH and I spent lunch giggling over how little has actually changed in some of the places we used to go before we had kids. There are some of the shops we used to go to, now catering for a new set of teenagers, but they still smell the same! There is nothing quite like the smell of Brighton (and I mean that in a good way!) – it’s a mix of food from everywhere, incense, spices and beer. And just as we thought we were as comfortable as you can get, we realized that LSH had ordered a burger which contained peanut butter as sauce (weirdly nice…) and the cafe was playing the soundtrack to Labyrinth!

Our final stop on the way back was at Chockywockydoodah where the girls were allowed to buy some chocolate spread, and definitely not some of these creations which we’d need a second mortgage for!

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My own personal shopping included a couple of Hell Bunny dresses for work (they are lovely high necked 50s style ones, rather than the busty ones which are NOT appropriate for work!) and a satchel! Ooh I love my new satchel! I’m ready to go back to work now.

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Short ‘n Sweet

I’ve got loads of blog ideas, but little motivation. So here’s a round up in a list!

I’ve had my nails done ready for school (because this is clearly a priority!).

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We found BeanPole a suitable school coat. She’s happy, I’m quietly sniggering while my pre-teen listens to the black parade. Anyone else think she needs to socialize more with people not like me??

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TinyPants also had her nails done. She, however has gold paint with little flowers!

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My latest project is nicely underway and I’m going top down for the first time. I’ve made shoulders. I’m rather proud πŸ™‚

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Tomorrow heralds a shopping trip to The Laines in Brighton. I’m hoping to find some nice work clothes that still let me be me… And there’s also Chockywockydoodah!

Whooooooooo Are You? Who who? who who?

Who am I? Well, there’s a question.

I could point to the wife, mother, teacher things but they are snippets of me. I could point put that I’ve been educated, I’ve written a book, I’ve travelled, but those are things I’ve done.

I am the sum total of all those things and many other things. One thing I am is content. Not happy, not elated, but content. This, all this, and me is enough. No massive highs, and as such no god awful lows. My 20s was a roller coaster, whereas my 30s is a rowing boat that I’m drifting along on tracing my fingers over the surface. There may be all manner of things lurking beneath the water, but I don’t care as I’m up here enjoying the sun.

I have surrounded myself with less drama, with good people, with good humour. There are aspects of life and people that I have consciously distanced myself from, which despite my misgivings has allowed me to become a more peaceful person. I have learnt that you can’t save people, they have to save themselves.

A wise lady recently told me “your friends are supposed to make you feel good, not encourage you to wallow in your pit”. I have much respect for her.

I was raised on the chalk, but I wasn’t destined to be a cheesemaker.

β€œYes! I’m me! I am careful and logical and I look up things I don’t understand! When I hear people use the wrong words, I get edgy! I am good with cheese. I read books fast! I think! And I always have a piece of string! That’s the kind of person I am!”

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Horrible History – A Trip to the Museum

The girls have been out with my parents all day while I got properly stuck into some resource preparation (and mass lamination) for September. I won’t bore you with the inner details of my flash cards and help sheets – suffice to say my sixth formers have some homework to do. Right up to Christmas! I’m feeling more in control and the more filing and laminating I do, the more ready to get this show on the road I am.

To give me some peace, Mum & Dad took the girls to a Roman palace ruin & museum. They weren’t quite as excited about seeing the Original mosaics as I would’ve been, so I don’t think they’re quite ready for Bath. Fishbourne is somewhere I remember going as a child, and with them both learning about Celts & Romans at school, it gives them something to think about.

The place certainly has a sense of humour!

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And TinyPants came back having learnt how to make Roman style friendship bracelets.

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And she’s doing a lovely job!

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Last year, BeanPole roped me into a seven hour stop frame animation filming session (oh the pain!) for her Roman & Celts project. It’s just reminded me that TinyPants is going to want to go one up. I’m doomed! Although I’m still rather proud of our historical animation. Not bad for an 8 yr old & a 33 year old πŸ™‚

Any ideas on a Romans / Celts project would be gratefully received!

I Want To Look Like The Cool Lady

BeanPole is having a pre-teen crisis. I apparently have the beginnings of an angsty tween on my hands and its all about her special style. In recent weeks, we’ve had to have ‘the talk’ about double denim, and she’s now starting to take style direction from her mother, which is frankly dangerous.

She has decided that she is ‘alternative’ and wants to dress her way, or rather the way she has decided is cool rather than the standard fashionable stuff for kids (I’m totally up for this). Cue 8 yr old pulling teenage pose…

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This also means that our current preparations for the new school year are now hindered by her inner need to be immensely cool and school uniform adjustments are being demanded. Luckily (for her, not me) their school uniform is a guideline rather than a strict adherence to specific clothing. Although while more expensive, it would certainly cause me less heartache. So instead we have commenced the ‘I want to wear shorts and tights’ argument along with the ‘I need a slouchy cardigan rather than a back to school one’. Slouchy? Ahh. You mean a chunky knit, rather than the standard school issue one. Really? You’re nearly 9! I had reckoned on a few more years!

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I can see her point. Her version is more stylish, but it’s for SCHOOL! I think I may have found an issue with having my own oddball sense of style.

Then came the glasses. The kid needs them, and the NHS will fund a certain amount. But she has a rather large head and as such needs ladies glasses. And the kid did her research. Not by looking at her peers, not by taking hints from pop stars (I’m actually quite proud of that), but by trawling through my WordPress reader and coming across the Goodnight Mush blog. On there she caught sight of a lady named Jill and made the decision that she exuded cool from every pore and must have her glasses. Im hoping that this woman that we have never met, but who is now influencing my baby’s self image sees this imitation as flattery rather than all a bit creepy! We ended up with something very similar, although they are full rims as her right eye requires something akin to a bottle in thickness and an ongoing argument over her not being able to maintain a Betty Page fringe (I do from September to about Easter, then get lazy and grow it out over the summer).

So what do I do with a kid who is fighting for her identity? I make a list.

I will – Let her adapt her uniform mildly – she can have shorts. The cardigans will be a compromise.

I will not – Buy her DM boots for school (mainly because they’re Β£90!)

I will – (and have) cut her hair into a more grown up style with some feathering and a bit of an emo fringe.

I will not – allow make up under any circumstances. No way. Not yet.

I will – apparently part with Β£75 for the ‘right’ glasses.

I will not – try to make her change her style unless it’s inappropriate for her age. I’m actually quite proud that she wants to be individual.

I may need to apologize to women thousands of miles away for my child obsessing over their fashion choices.

I may also need to take a trip to the Laines in Brighton with her. She and I need to do some shopping.

Stig of the Dump

I wrote a blog post the first night we were camping, bit before I could post it the kids ran my battery out. Instead, I’ve left it as a footnote here. Just as a reminder.

I returned home today after 4 days away in the New Forest with what seemed like a million friends. (We numbered 23 at our greatest). As we walked in the door we were dirty, we smelled bad, the kids possibly hadn’t brushed their hair at all. But we were happy. Here’s why.

1. We cooked good food. On an actual fire. And it was shared with masses of us. (Cooking bloggy thing to follow)

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2. We survived some pretty torrential rain. And didn’t give up! ( we got rewarded with lovely weather the last two days)

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3. We had millions of children! (Ok, 14 kids. But we walked them for miles)

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4. The adults grew down. Without phones and emails and housework to do we all chilled the hell out and lived.

By creating a child catapult (it was a seesaw, but given enough leverage…)

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By hanging in trees…

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Or by climbing up a tree and taking teenage selfies!

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5. We lived in a commune.
There was a running joke that between the lot of us we make one competent parent. But actually, there’s a lot of truth in that. Everyone bundled in and as such no one parent ft the need to throttle their child (until they needed to pack the tents up).

6. We got involved. Fishing in the river (aka realising the water is bloody cold and splashing in up to your thighs anyway) wasn’t a parental spectator sport. We were in there with them and having just as much fun.

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7. Some of us are just natural gypsies. (Yes Mrs GypsyTree, I’m looking at you.

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While some of us bring some glamping to the scene (I openly admit to bringing solar fairy lights and saffron, although we don’t have a tent carpet. Yet.)

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8. I have to admit I need LSH, and my tenting skills are properly surpassed by Marathon lady who erected and packed away a 6 man tent by herself. With no help. Hats off to you lady!

(Photo to follow of Marathon lady astride her manhaned tent!)

9. Our collective children are disgusting beyond all description. I’m very proud. This includes, but is not restricted to: toad capture, wasp baiting, throwing horse poo, squishing bugs, putting bugs in hair, chasing teenage girls with snails….

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10. We survived. So much so that we’re going to do it all again next month!

Although between now and then I’m going to get some warmer sleeping bags!

I’m going to end this with a photo of me. I was that chilled out that I smiled for a photo, with no make up on. I totally forgot I don’t like my smile… Except actually, I think I do because this one was really genuine.

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Note: thank you to GypsyTree for taking lots of holiday snap photos. I love that you document my life when I forget to! Xxx

Camping is a state of mind. You leave your warm home with a soft bed to set up house in the woods in a home made of fabric where you try to sleep on inflatable beds (or canvas ones if you’re my kids) with a toggle tapping you rhythmically in the face as the tent fabric sways gently in the breeze….. The breeze which blew in rain. Rain which started an hour after the tent was out up and just about seems to be easing off now we’ve climbed into our beds.

The tent waterproofing hasn’t quite worked completely (there’s a few drips, but nothing major) and I keep singing “it’s raining… Raining in our tent” which isn’t funny apparently.

On the up side, during a reasonable break in the rain we did cook paella for everyone over an open fire. And it tasted ok! And we had beer. The kids are having a brilliant time and after being dried off and wrapped up have gone to sleep with very little fuss. They look really happy snuggled up in a pile of sleeping bag and blankets.

On the down side, my back and hip feel like I’ve been doing a marathon and I’m going to be sleeping with Prince Valium tonight. Not surprisingly, my joints don’t appreciate the damp, nor did they enjoy the car trip with very little wriggle room. But after a ‘this is as good as it gets’ diagnosis, I’m buggered if I’m going to let a few achey bones dictate my leisure time. Anyway, who actually needs to bend forward. It’s like totally overrated.

With all this fresh air, TinyPants may be less inclined to wake up the whole family at 4am as she did this morning, so I may actually get some sleep! And Sunday morning shall be heralded with bacon & eggs over our one ring burner. πŸ™‚

A Weird Kind of Nostalgia

So, my mum and Dad look back on the 60s and 70s with fond (and rather squiffy) memories of Led Zepplin, Crosby Steele Nash & Young (yes, I know who they are!) and Camel.

And we have these.

1. This was is “our song”

2. One of the funniest support bands we saw. Zebrahead played this and encouraged the young teenagers to swear which appeared to be the best moment in their lives…

3. More dubious content, but this is the inner teenage boy making music about things teenage boys really do care about…

4. THIS was how I got seduced. It says a lot when your most romantic moments with your husband sound like Kung Fu Panda…

5. The happiest song of my early 20’s… It speaks volumes!

6. You know it’s love when he goes to see them in concert with his ex girlfriend because you’re just too pregnant to go. Not that I’m bitter. Much.

He told me it was rubbish to make me feel better. He lied.

7. Angry balloons made me happy. I still like the original…

8. I tried explaining this song to our kids, they looked at me like I was some sort of alien. I guess from their perspective our rebellion seems a bit naff.

9. The same goes for this. Although I have a feeling, it was a bit naff even when we liked it.

10. Final one. I guess it ought to be good? Something which sums up the younger years we spent together before we got grey (or greyer in LSH’s case) and slightly more responsible… Or this. We liked this.