Thursday, 26 April 2012

a lesson in bad parenting

Last night I had to ferry number 1 son plus friend to a gig/concert/performance/show (whichever word I use he ridicules me as I am obviously far too old to have ever been to a gig myself!)

I don't mind driving as I really wish I'd been to more gigs when I was younger. I do go to some now but it does make me feel very old!

Anyway another Mum was doing the homeward/late night journey this time so it wasn't so bad. I have spent a few evenings lately sitting outside venues waiting for him to appear.
The last one resulted in a text from me to him, an hour after the arranged pick up time, saying that if you don't come to the car NOW I'm leaving and you're walking!! He's not a bad boy, just very vague at times and loses track of time - anyone who knows me would know exactly where he gets that from!!

Hearing him and his friend in the back of my car chatting reminded me of the time they met and what a terrible day that could have been. I hope if I tell this story no one reports me to the child welfare authorities!!

It was a few years ago, in the 6 week summer school break. I took number 1 son to a sports club to keep him entertained (and to wear him out) as I also had number 2 son then just past toddler stage and Little Miss still a baby.

At the end of the day number 1 son came running to me outside the club to tell me he'd had a great day and had made a new friend. His friend joined him and asked if number 1 could go home with him to play and have tea. I was a little stressed as Little Miss was wailing in the car wanting a feed and number 2 didn't want to sit still any longer. The new friend's Dad appeared and said it would be a pleasure to take number 1 home for a while as I clearly had my hands full.

At that point my mind turned to mush and I wasn't sure what to do! I looked over at the Dad's car, it was a nice car so they must be a nice family, right? I asked him where they lived and he told me a nearby village, well known for being a bit up-market, so they must be a nice family, right?

I had 2 boys begging to play together and 2 kids in the car begging to go home RIGHT NOW!

So I agreed and the new friends Dad took my address to deliver number 1 son home later, he could see I was under pressure!

Have you spotted where I went wrong? I got home and had a major panic, had my son been kidnapped? Where had he gone and who with? I paced the floor wondering whether to call 999, what could I tell the police? I'd let my son go home with someone I didn't know, I knew the village they lived in but not the house (they may have lied). They drove a lovely car but no, I didn't know the registration number, colour or model.

Oh but wait I did know the boys name.... it was Dobby!!
He may or may not have looked a little like the Harry Potter character!

Thank God he was delivered safely home at the arranged time and they've remained friends ever since, the parents are lovely and both teach at number 1 son's high school.

However, letting your son go home with a strange man, in a strange car, to an address you don't know with a friend called Dobby..... surely thats an arrestable offence??!!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Round up of the week

Its been a strange week here in the cricketers house, it started well with my monthly book group meeting on Monday. We meet around 10 times a year to drink wine, eat lovely nibbles and cake and, very occasionally, talk about that months book choice!

This time we were due to discuss the book I chose at the last meeting.....

Unfortunately it had been a hasty choice at the time; I'd wanted to choose an Alan Bennett for some time and got very frustrated with the lack of copies at the local library! After letting everyone know how absolutely useless our library was the group agreed that I could buy copies from ebay and they'd reimburse me. I was very happy to discover they were only £2.50 a copy.

But therein lies my mistake!
A few days later a small envelope arrived, I was intrigued, had I won a competition? (although I hadn't entered any!) On opening the envelope I discovered why the books were so cheap; they were mini books - more of a leaflet really! One of Alan Bennetts short stories!

Book group were very kind and I was very embarrassed! However as we are all busy people the choice of a book that could be read in 1 afternoon didn't go down as badly as I expected, infact it was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone! Someone actually read the whole story in a 2 hour session!

This months choice is....
By the author of Room, a book we read a year ago. I have to say Room didn't excite me very much, it was quite enjoyable but nothing more.
This one I've started and I'm not sure it's going to be very "me".

Number 1 son and Little Miss are back at school but number 2 son has an extra week off, I think it was what could be described as an X-box week.

There was the disruption described in my last post, as yet he's not moved in but the garage/penthouse suite is sparkling clean and devoid of a years rubbish (2 old mattresses, 5 bikes, a tent and various Christmas decorations!), none of the cleaning done by me I hasten to add! I am still holding fast on refusing to accept a lodger but I may backdown in exchange for booking a holiday/a new kitchen/2 new sofas and some beauty treatments - I feel there may be a little negotiation to be done. Anyhow, what do other people keep in their garages? Is it not a 6' 4", athletic, 24 year old South African?

And, the week ended with a meal out (on Tesco vouchers), some of these for the weeks packed lunches

 and lots of this

The first 2 official cricket matches of the season, rained (and hailed) off - so not a completely disastrous week!!

Hope you all had a good one.

Friday, 20 April 2012

I didn't see that coming, no really, I DID NOT see that coming!

In the past the cricket club my husband and sons have played for has invited an overseas player to come for the season. Originally they stayed at a local pub in exchange for occasional bar work. Around 5 or 6 years ago, when we were in the middle of building our most recent extension work suddenly shifted to building a double garage in the garden - I was perplexed, we had planning permission for the garage but no intention of building it until finances allowed.The extension, however we really needed to complete to give us an extra bedroom and, more importantly an extra bathroom.

It got curiouser, the garage was plastered out beautifully (not essential work for an outbuilding!), then stranger still a toilet was installed. I don't know if you see what this is building up to, but I didn't!!

Stranger still a small fitted kitchen took shape as well as a lovely showerarea.

It was sold to me as a great party room for our kids - yes thats great but an extra loo in the house maybe more use??

Any hoo - as you may have guessed and what sadly I did not guess until too late, we have over the years we have played host to various cricketers all of whom were lovely but all of whom seriously invaded my space!  I DO NOT WANT ANYONE LIVING WITH ME - I often struggle to live with the other 4 members of my family!

There are many tales to tell, from throwing open the bedroom curtains wearing very little and finding myself looking straight at 3 young Australian lads bouncing on the trampoline (he'd invited two friends over!) to the nice New Zealander (Muslim) who arrived and asked where our nearest Halal butcher was - a difficult one as we're in the middle of no where!

There was also the chap who installed himself & then asked to use the house as well as his wife arrived in two weeks time!!

Well we've met some lovely people and are still in touch with all of them but .... I do not want them living with me, have I made that clear?? I DO NOT WANT THEM LIVING WITH ME!

Well that brings you up to speed and hopefully explains why, this week, I had the biggest tantrum of my life! (I've always told my husband that if he chose to marry an only child he must expect tantrums!)

I had a phone call at work from husband to ask if I'd like a meal out with this years overseas player, arrived that day from South Africa. Well I don't often turn down a meal I don't have to cook but the gist of the conversation was.... would you believ he has nowhere to stay!! What? A very organised committee had arranged a flight, visa, car of his own for the summer... and no place to stay!! Yeah right!

As I write this the husband is busy cleaning, sweeping and washing the penthouse suite/student bedsit... and, before you ask there is of course still no shower or loo in the extension!!

Is there something written across my forehead?? What is it do you think?

I would like to say "it's him or me" but I fear there would be at least 3 voices shouting "let's keep the cricketer!"

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Continuing Cottage Renovations

There is excitement in this household, well, It's probably only me who's excited - we're about to start the next phase of our house renovations/alterations/re building. This would be phase 989!

Saying we're starting the next phase makes it sound like we've got a plan - WRONG! I have a plan in my head but that's most likely where it will remain. That plan involves my perfectly tidy, fabulously decorated house, (full of plumped up cushions) gracing the pages of House Beautiful or some similar publication. Possibly a tiny bit optimistic and maybe unrealistic?

I ought to start at the begining of this particular journey, just to bring you up to speed.....

We purchased 2 very rundown, partially derelict cottages in 1993 and naively thought we'd do them up as one home and live happily ever after drinking wine in a perfectly kept cottage garden.

All this was to be done on a shoestring using slave (husband) labour.

I wanted it to look like this....  

However, it looked like this...!!

We really had no idea how hard it would be to do this on a very tight budget. We spent nearly 2 years living in the garden in this...

And yes, it was every bit as horrific as it looks... and the roof leaked! If anyone dared to suggest a caravan holiday to me now I'm likely to assume a foetal position on the floor and sob - I will NEVER get over that bit!

We found many treasures in the house - this was taken apart carefully to reveal
a lovely old inglenook fireplace. (sorry no photo, obviously never took 1)


became this

Eventually we moved in on Christmas Eve 1994 and both collapsed in a heap on the floor (we didn't even have a bed!).

That ought to be the end of the story as we had a lovely house made for two, but by 1996 we were three and we had to make changes.

Not all changes went according to plan....

(yes he is available to hire!)

And that is where we are now... still making changes, still on a tight budget and now with a lot less time. We've added rooms (not all of them finished) to accommodate our growing family we've installed cricket practice nets in the garden (thats the Royal we) - because obviously practice nets are a much higher priority that a plumbed in toilet!! But over the years money has been in even shorter supply than time.

We've now decided to push on once more as we must be on the home run, maybe I'm just trying to convince myself.

Anyway, things are looking up as the builder (husband/jack of all trades) has a gap in his schedule and will be working for me very shortly! He has no idea of the length of his "to do" list, but I'll break it to him gently! First on the list is the kitchen with its beautiful orangey pine units (circa 1992) - I have a gorgeous design in mind from one of the bespoke kitchen makers, however I have
a Gumtree budget!

Not to worry, at least we're getting on with it, we'll soon be done and it will only have taken 20 years .......
I will keep you posted!

Saturday, 14 April 2012


After reading blogs about Spring cleaning and decluttering I thought I'd try to restore a little order to my kitchen notice board, as you can see it was a little over crowded!

I need to make way for all the new fixture lists which will need to be followed, the beloved cricket season will be starting any day now!

We have club cricket for under 13's, under 17's (possibly under 10's if Little Miss joins in) seniors 1st XI, seniors 2nd XI and the Sunday team. As well as that we have County fixtures for under 13's and for the elderly!! (my husband was selected for County over 50's last year - he'd waited a lifetime to play at this level and had mixed feelings that he only made it at the age of 50)

I've thrown everything away that had expired (party invites, long past parents evening letters etc) and tried to make way for the summer schedules and "important date" reminders.

However at the bottom of it all I found the bill for my Christmas Turkey, as yet unpaid!! I'd better rectify this asap or we'll be blacklisted and have nothing to eat for Christmas 2012!!

We've had a busy 2nd week of the Easter break, number 2 son arranged a paintballing party with a Groupon voucher he had for Christmas - in our usual organised fashion we managed to book it one day before the voucher expired! It was a chaotic few days of getting it all sorted - Number 2 son had handed out invites to friends, most of whom we didn't know and who's 'phone numbers he didn't have. We had a couple of late call offs and 2 who 'phoned to say they'd love to come as long as they could have a lift to the venue!! After some hound dog eyes directed at us we agreed to one sleepover and one pick up. The pick up turned out to be about 30 miles in the opposite direction, cue lots of muttering "why do we always agree to this..."

Number 1 son had to be dragged out of bed at the crack of dawn (8.30am) to make up the numbers! The poor boy was pushed into the shower still with eyes shut, loaded into the car and dropped off at the local McDonalds to buy his own breakfast and with instructions that a lady in a black car containing two 12 year olds would pick him up shortly!!

 Anyway a good day, albeit a muddy one, was had by all.

However after all this sorting of the notice board I realised it took so long I'd forgotten to take
Little Miss to gymnastics - so much for being more organised.... I blame my age!!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

The Great Easter Egg Hunt

Happy Easter Everyone!

On Easter Sunday we traditionally visit a nearby friends house for their HUGE Easter Egg Hunt. Usually it's just me and Little Miss as the boys are more often that not at cricket, however this year we were all available to hunt.

The day hadn't started well as husband and I were woken from a deep sleep with a voice saying "the Easter Bunny hasn't been"! This is just like all the times the tooth fairy forgets to visit - honestly my head is a sieve!! (It's a whole other story about when the tooth fairy had to send an apologetic letter with Father Christmas which he kindly placed in that particular child's stocking!)

First that issue was resolved as the Easter Bunny had mistakenly left the eggs downstairs so all was forgiven .

Then we realised that the usual last minute text message to invite us to join the party hadn't arrived! I checked my 'phone several times as signal is poor here in the back of beyond - but nothing. We had no other plans and all three kids were pestering for us to turn up uninvited! Eventually I sent a message to enquire and we were duly invited (hopefully not too cheeky; they are very good friends) I think they's assumed we'd just turn up.

Well these particular friends are best described as eccentric and we never know what to expect, other that a really fun time of course! (there was the year when we turned up en masse making plenty of noise only to find the gathered guests taking part in a Catholic Mass on the front lawn - not unpleasant but certainly unexpected!)

This year was as much fun as ever - people watching is something I enjoy and boy there was plenty of that to be had! I particularly like the lady who has, for the past 3 Easters, greeted me very warmly with a kiss on each cheek, exclaiming how pleased she is to see me again - I have absolutely no idea who she is! The man who plays piano is a story all on it's own!

The afternoon started with wine, a great start! Then all the children along with a few adults (me included) sat in a room with all curtains drawn while the eggs were being hidden. The gardens are huge and no where is out of bounds!
Can you spot the egg high up in this tree?

And some were in this boat pushed out into the middle of the lake - yes one mad teenager did swim for them!

The afternoon ended with games of football,  egg and spoon races and British Bulldog. Great fun was had by all and we came home with an enormous haul of chocolate.

As with previous years we all felt ever so slightly like we'd been at the Mad Hatters Tea Party!! (without any tea....just wine!)

Saturday, 7 April 2012

A day trip to Wales

We returned home last night from a very quick trip "abroad"!
All 5 of us piled into my husbands truck on Thursday morning and set of on the 250 mile journey; 3 kids sqeezed into the back seat along with pillows, bags etc was not exactly conducive to a fun filled ride!

We'd been putting off the trip for weeks but decided to bite the bullet earlier in the week.

I should explain....
Over the last 12 months and in the course of our ongoing (ongoing for 18 years up to now!!) cottage renovations we have decided to try to make our home more energy efficient. This isn't easy in a solid brick 200+ year old house. We currently have oil fired central heating and an oil fired oven, oil is horrendously expensive now, to the point where we have to heating switched off most of the time.
In December, after many months of searching I found an electric/lpg  cooker which matched my current one on ebay. The problem was it was over 200 miles away at the other side of the country. After much "discussion" and promises of gourmet food my husband agreed to bidding on the cooker - we won! Well I saw it as a win, he blanched at the sight of the final price!

This didn't solve the problem of getting it home, but I had a plan! My Dad and his family live in Wales which was about 20 miles from my cooker & he agreed to collect and store it for me. It's been in a garage in Wales since early December.

We haven't made the journey to Wales for some years (it's complicated!) and Dad comes to see us once or twice a year but he couldn't bring this enormous and very heavy cooker with him.

After a 6 hour journey we arrived in time for tea, all very tired and frazzled!

We had a nice evening re-aquainting ourselves with various step and half members of the family and a HUGE take away meal.

Anyway I'm smitten with the cooker and we brought it home on Friday. The children were hyped up on fizzy drinks and sweets from their Grandparents and spent the journey pushing, elbowing and generally arguing - no change there then!

So I am now the owner af a new-to-me cooker......which is currently sitting in the middle of the dining room floor. I'm hoping this isn't a repaet of the claw foot bath we bought off ebay a few years graced the garage for approximately 5 years before being brought into the house. It now sits looking gorgeous in our newly built (new as in 7 year old) en-suite bathroom,; of course it only sits there it's not plumbed in, that would be too much to expect!!
The joys of being married to a builder!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Housework and Holidays

It's only day 2 of the Easter holidays and I've had enough!! Is it just me? I've tried to clean the house so we start the Easter break with some semblance of tidyness at least. I cleaned the kitchen and scrubbed the floor; that was just before my daughter got the glitter out. I now have a lovely "sparkly" floor. And boy does it stick!

She got the glitter out while I was dusting and hoovering the sitting room, when I went to look at the newly glittered kitchen she and her friend got the guinea pigs out in the sitting room - it's now covered in sawdust and hay; with the odd piece of carrot dotted about!

I have to go now I think I overheard her suggest to the friend they start baking.....

I'll be handing my written notice in later today!