Saturday, 14 May 2016

A Week in London from drinking rosé to selling ice lollies

Having just read Sasha at LibertyLondonGirl’s, lovely email update - titled: A Week in London, from drinking rose to licking popsicles, which cheered me up no end, I got to thinking about my past week, which also involved rosé and ice lollies.

Monday after dropping Erbie off at school, I escaped to my allotment with a flask of tea and some digging shorts secreted in my French shopping basket. The sun was shining and the allotment was an oasis of calm. There is always, always something to busy oneself with, especially at this time of year. I set myself to clearing weeds, adding compost and digging over a small patch, which I then planted up with sunflower seedlings and peas. I added some topsoil to the freesias I planted in the greenhouse, I’m anticipating their heady scent filling the space. I spread a rug on the grass and drank tea whilst listening to the distant noise of children at playtime. Properly recharged for the week ahead, I redressed for the school run and picked myself a bunch of black tulips with some contrasting grey artichoke foliage. 

A friend asks me to collect her child as she has a vet emergency, I bump into another friend who has been contracting and off the school circuit, it turns out to be her boy’s birthday, I end up taking the 3 boys to their house whilst she takes her little one swimming. This is excellent as they have a large garden and the birthday boy is made up not to have to tag along with his little sister. They play football in the garden but suddenly someone puts their hand on a bee and gets stung. Tears, lots of screaming, I get the sting out, and try to google ‘bee stings’ then call his mum to check he is not allergic; the boys console and make each other laugh, I let them play a shark game on the iPad. My friend and her daughter return and I accept a rather lovely glass of chilled rosé while I watch her finish icing a fabulous blue birthday cake with a Jaws-like shark atop. 

In the shower later I realised I had acquired a ridiculous digging tan on my back, complete with bra strap marks. 
Black tulip
Black tulips under my fig tree.
Ridiculous digging tan
On Tuesday The GR woke with a face full of cold sores and a temper to compliment, he spent most of the day barking at me whilst I took him for a walk around the local wood and down to Crouch End, I buy a variegated ivy for the bathroom as I recall reading somewhere that ivy helps remove air-born faecal matter. We were due to visit TheBelleMere after school for a BBQ, however due to ill feeling on TheGRs part about an unfulfilled promise I visited alone with a bottle of wine. I listened to TheBelleMere bemoan the tax office; having recently gifted a lot of money to various causes she discovered this would not lower the amount of tax taken from her pensions at source. I attempted a positive stance and arranged to visit on Friday morning when temper and wine were not in the mix.

Crouch End
Variegated ivy with whale.
Wednesday - I went into town to work at The Hospital Club in Covent Garden. Collected Erbie from school and took him swimming. We get a lift with a lovely mum who takes her 2 children to the same pool. Erbie has just started and is the oldest in his group (for the first time at anything) and it is really boosting his confidence, which he needs, lamb chop. They splash around in various ability levels and five teachers in the water whilst we watch from the viewing gallery. I frequently get too hot but refuse to keep taking off and on my outer layer so remain very still and focused on Erbie who looks up and waves frequently sticking his thumbs up. Changing room, shower, lots of children, vending machine, popcorn, car, traffic, knock knock jokes about poo from the three in the back, roadworks, home. TheGR placates himself with some rather good television, Silicon Valley, Gomorrah and Game of Thrones. I have an early night.

Thursday, shorts to school, not me - Erbie. I collect cold sore medication from the doctor for TheGR. After school, myself and another mum take our boys to visit their school friend in Great Ormond Street hospital. He is recovering from a second operation to rectify a rather botched op on a burst appendix carried out by another hospital. He has been very poorly for weeks, however today he is up, smiling and eating, the perkiest I’ve seen him since the beginning*. The relief from his mum is palpable. She tells us that coming to Great Ormond Street from the previous hospital was like going from a tent to a 5star hotel.
*They are allowed to go home later and he continues to improve

Erbie and I walk back through Queen’s Square past throngs of workers enjoying a drink in the sun, we wiggle down the side of Russell and Bedford Square (where Erbie had his 1st birthday) have a quick look in Tiger on Tottenham Court Road and then jump on a bus home. TheGR is in a rage, barks more and also takes considerable umbrage to my taking Erbie to Great Ormond Street. I go to bed.

Erbie, Bedford Square
Erbie, Bedford Square, London
Friday. Erbie does not wake until 8.55am, school starts at 8.50am, I deliberately let him sleep-in as this is only the third time it has happened. I write ‘late’ in the school book and take Erbie down to his classroom, the teacher beckons me in and explains that the class are all making individual cards for their poorly friend and that Erbie can deliver them. I let them all know that he came home last night and is now properly on the mend. I go to visit the Belle Mere picking up almond croissants and some freshly ground coffee from W. Martyn. She refuses my hello kiss and mutters something about me buying coffee as I don’t like hers. - ‘No, it’s a gift.’

I listen to TheBelleMere rage about her ex-husband and how unfair life is, she tells me about a visualising scenario where she once put someone in a leaky boat and tied a weight to them and watched them sink in the middle of a deep lake. After a couple of hours I help her complete the unfulfilled promise on the computer. It dawns on me why TheGR’s default stress button might be anger.

I go home, TheGRs cold-sore medication is working and his mood is lifting. I do another load of clothes washing and whiz the hoover around. At 2pm myself and another mum go to a superstore and buy up a substantial amount of ice lollies to sell in the playground for ‘lolly Friday’. There is much calculator use and recounting of boxes, I know only two types out of the many innocent looking fruit lollies are actually dairy-free. We sort them all into cool boxes and stick them in the back of the car; school, trestle tables, float, mad ice lolly sale, we make a profit for the school and the kids play until we finish. Erbie has his birthday mate coming over to play, we give him some bicycle accessories we bought in Tiger and walk him home after tea, posting the class cards through poorly boy’s door on the way. I pick up a bottle of Prosecco and invite myself in!

Back home after Erbie goes to bed, TheGR and I share a bottle of wine and make a playlist on Spotify of the sixty or so songs he has learnt over the past few years on his guitar. It is very eclectic, from Am I A Man or Am I A Muppet to A Boy Named Sue by Johnny Cash. I can’t keep my eyes open any longer and go to bed without TheGR who tells me I deserve a medal.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Little Summer

Hot flush, hot flush, hot flush.

I can’t be having hot flushes already can I?

Yes I can is the answer, they wake me in the night. I’m not sweaty - probably I’m too dehydrated for that, but a sensation of intense heat crawls over my body, my hands feel hot. Hot hands, very hot hands, and face and chest and feet.

Friends keep commenting on how brave I am to be wearing my Birkenstocks or (poorly feet shoes as Erbie calls them) when the weather is so unpredictable, I smile and say: ‘I know!’, actually thinking because they are on fire and the thought of putting them into a shoe or sock gives me palpitations.

Then there is the rage, gosh I feel rather angry waves over me as I get cross with Erbie for not being asleep and give him a snuggle to make up for it. Then the tears, not floods, I’m not a flooder, you really have to squash and squeeze a teardrop from me, but my tear ducts got wet whilst watching the Baftas, for goodness sake, I blame the rosé.

I also blame the wine for the apathy, or is that just me. The worst is the midriff, once washboard now more muffin top.

I’m ...., actually what am I? I’ve been saying I’m 46 for too long, I think I may now be a couple of years older than that, which means I could very probably be peri-menopausal, the symptoms start well in advance apparently.

[I’m on the Mirena which is a hormonal coil for contraception and after 6 months my periods stopped, which can happen. I don’t miss them. When I was breastfeeding, my periods stopped of their own accord for a year, (I had a regular copper coil inserted in 2009) as soon as I stopped breastfeeding back they came and slowly got worse until I was virtually bleeding without a break. I got anaemic, I was tired constantly, so after careful consideration had a Mirena inserted in February 2015.]

I need to sort myself out. Make the beds, Kondo the drawers, plan a trip, clean the windows, get a pedicure and a manicure, go for a facial, re-assess the wardrobe, do some yoga, meditate, do the tax returns, menu-plan, go into town, read more; at least put some make-up on and wash my hair. God the apathy is overwhelming.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Move Like Jagger

Beautiful Mick by the very talented Terry O'Neil.

©TerryO'Neil - Getty
 Beautiful Erbie by a lesser talented W1mum.

©TerryO'Neil - Getty
Erbie ©SRH

I don’t want beta-fricking-blockers I want neat serotonin.

I went to the doctor to get me some anti-depressants and was offered beta-blockers. 

It’s the first time I’ve opened up and said I was not really coping and I became a little overwhelmed, so I guess she thought I was having a panic attack and went straight down that road. Anyway I’ve been given some websites to look at:
moodgym, mindgym and bigwhitewall. I did not take the prescription. 

I need to see the sunshine again. 

I’ve healed my colitis (touch wood) with diet (thank-you Deliciously Ella and the internet) and the free 10 minute breathing exercises from Headspace which gave my stomach time to relax; now I need to heal my mind. 

The GR is unhappy, frustrated and angry most of the time which he takes out on his nearest and dearest - ie me, and I suppose in a way I enable that behaviour. 

Erbie has been bullied at school, on and off since starting, the Grandad is much trickier than I ever anticipated and the Belle Mere is well, The Belle Mere. 

Don’t get me started on the constant building noise from neighbours. 

All this along with a prolonged death from cancer and one suicide from a best friend, mind you that was after her sister had stabbed and killed her mother, so who wouldn’t. Oh and I had to take Erbie to that funeral as it was the same day as TheGR’s brother’s funeral, so neither of us could be there for one another. We don’t sleep in the same bed, we argue and shout, the flat looks unloved, we look unloved, everytime we pick ourselves up something else happens, when will this cycle end?

I try and put pockets of happiness in, martini’s help, Erbie is adorable, my allotment is a welcome escape but I even find that overwhelming sometimes. 

I’m offloading. 

I’ll be okay. 

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Bluebells in Highgate Woods, London

As a child every Spring my mother would take me to Grovely Wood in Wilton to see the bluebells. Now I am lucky enough to have a bluebell wood on the doorstep and it’s on the Northern line in London, Highgate to be precise. Get you're bluebell fix this weekend before they go over.

Gypsy Gate entrance
Highgate Wood, Muswell Hill. North London N10

Highgate Wood

Highgate wood 2016

Highgate Wood
Native english bluebells are a protected species, and more refined and slender than the fat Spanish variety that pop up in front gardens.
Native english bluebell - please don’t pick me!
Highgate wood

Peace and tranquility - who would think you could get to central London in 20mins on the tube?
Highgate Wood is full of ancient trees, oak, hornbeam and beech amongst them.

Oak bark
New Beech leaves

Bridge Gate

Bye my dears

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Land of the Lions - London Zoo

The lions are back at London Zoo after a holiday in Whipsnade whilst their enclosure received a much needed update. The three lionesses: Rubi, Heidi and Indi are now housed alongside a recreated Indian village, showing just how close the Asiatic Lions really live next to the Maldhari people in Gir National Park. 

The new Land of Lions entrance within London Zoo.

Erbie entering the Lion's den
The attention to detail throughout is amazing from weathered signs, random pots and pans, bicycles, to peeling paintwork and planting.

Welcome signs to the entrance of Gir National Park, India (London Zoo).

Sign to entrance of Land of the Lions, London Zoo

Signs to entrance of Land of the Lions, London Zoo

Painted wall mural map in the Land of the Lions
Random Indian pots and pans.
After walking past a cafe and a lorry piled high with rainbow crates, all at once we were in an Indian village - full of fruit stalls, flip-flops, brightly coloured bunting, shop fronts offering chai, spices and haircuts, rickshaws and decorated cows.

Around the corner India awaits!
Rainbow crates piled on a lorry.
Cafe - Land of the Lions, London Zoo

General Store - Land of the Lions, London Zoo
Fruit stalls
A fun idea for the children to see themselves with a lion's mane haircut - simply look into the mirror!

Barber's sign - Land of the Lions, London Zoo
See yourself - Land of the Lions, London Zoo
Monkey sign - Land of the Lions, London Zoo
Market trolley, Land of the Lions, London Zoo
Flip-flops and sandals - Land of the Lions, London Zoo
A holy cow - Land of the Lions, London Zoo
Painted rickshaw - Land of the Lions, London Zoo

There is plenty to look at and do as you walk through, first up the train station where we saw a pair of mongoose in the ticket office!

Touch the nose of the bronze lion to bring you luck.

Lucky bronze lionhead outside the station
Touching the lion's nose can bring you great fortune!
Amazing planting
There are even train tracks and a signal at the station.

Railway tracks, and a signal
Punch a hole in your ticket on the old desk in the station, surrounded by posters, timetables, a map and a screen displaying informative videos about the lions and their habitat.

An old desk in the station with ticket punch.
Ticket punch and old an wire tray
I was really impressed with the design of the areas around the enclosure, the attention to detail was amazing – things like an old wire tray on the desk in the train station (see above); and wonderful retro posters like the travel one below. 

Some of the signs had beautifully hand drawn lettering and pictures.

A series of raised walkways surround the area from which one can see into the lions’ enclosure safely.

Stairs to a raised viewing gallery and walkway
The lion enclosure
There was also a ‘bicycle shop’ where you can try reach the speed of an Asiatic lion by pedalling.

Land of the Lions, London Zoo
The boys attempt to cycle at the speed of lion and see how high they can pump the air gauge!

Land of the Lions, London Zoo
Next take a pilgrimage through the steep sided rocks to the Ginar hills, (i.e through one of the viewing walkways) look up for lion’s tails on the way to the Langur Fort.

Land of the Lions, London Zoo

We spotted the lions, all curled up together in the rain.

Two lionesses asleep in the rain
And on to the Langur Fort.
London Zoo - Land of the Lions

A jeep with a large lion crate beside.

Stay the night! 
To complete a fully immersive experience one can book a Sunset Safari (from May onwards) and actually stay over night in your own private cabin or Gir Lodge for a family friendly evening and dinner within roaring distance of the lions.

Spend the night in The Land of the Lions

ZSL London Zoo (website here)
Regent’s Park

General price for the whole zoo, including the Land of Lions
Adult: £24.25
Child: £17.60

Other nonsense

Quote of the day

‘They tuck you up your mum and dad...’
Anon - after Larkin

“Philately will get you everywhere”

“It’s not the despair, I can handle the despair. 
It’s the hope I can’t deal with”

“Each new friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
Anais Nin

‘Come on Dover move your bloomin’ arse’.
Eliza Doolittle