First born

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It’s late and I’m about to go to bed. Though I am lying on the dogs bed in front of the television with Remus, our first born. He’s ten years old now and did I say earlier, that I love him very much. He’s never really found on ‘The Dogs Bed’ as he and Gracie ditched it a number of years ago as they much preferred to snuggle up on the sofas. It’s really a very large cushion. A bit tattered now as Gracie as an infant chewed it in a couple of places, to reveal the hollow fibre stuffing (it’s been patched up by myself a number of times), basically not unlike our not so famous five and their plight to break anything and everything they can. Both Gracie and Remus gnawed their way through a multitude of household items as puppies, including phones and oak flooring. So here I am on the dogs bed besides the TV. Remus is snuggling in tightly. You see he has such an acute personality, he feels emotions just like us humans and purveys heightened responses to scenarios, not unlike ourselves. He was told off by John tonight for his obsessional begging when it comes to food. Our dinnertimes are a misery of him and Gracie lying mainly at my feet whining for scraps. It’s role reversal really with ‘Good Cop, Bad Cop’ that we enact with the children. The dogs see me as the nice guy they spend the guts of their lives with. With John at work Monday to Friday, I’m their constant companion at home. John got a bit angry last night with our roast pork, Sunday dinner and raised his voice shouting that they should settle and go to their bed. Their ears kind of drooped and pointed backwards. They went and both sat on the cushion besides the TV. I should say that the cushion nowadays, usually accommodates four little bottoms, occasionally five. The same situation happened tonight. As there was gravy and pork left in the fridge from last night we repeated last nights menu of a full roast meal, only substituting roast potatoes with the meat juices and pork fat with deep fried torn potatoes (I’ve mentioned them before, the best potatoes you are ever likely to encounter). Well anyhow the dogs were told to settle and ‘On your bed’ was asserted yet again. Remus and Gracie took heed and there they lay, longingly eyeing up my plate for the twenty minutes the meal took to finish. The meal was served with the remains of the home made apple sauce and the crackling was deep fried. That’s the secret, if you want the best pork crackling ever – you must take the calorie plunge and deep fry it (unless you want a huge dental bill). Since i’ve only had a deep fat fryer for a number of weeks, I can at this point verify that it’s only been used once a week. Okay back to Remus. He has spent the entire evening on the dog bed, not opting for the sofa. I’m lying on the dog bed also and he has been snuggling all evening, at least three hours and you know that thing when a dog moves it’s nose up and down repeatedly to snuggle in… he has been doing that constantly. He is a bit upset with John being annoyed at him and his antics. He’s barely looked at John tonight. You do have to own a dog to understand just how their emotions are akin to us humans. Both Remus and Gracie are devoted dogs, but Remus especially acts in such a manner that is so alike that of an unhappy child or indeed on the other hand, one who has just been given a candy bar. As our ‘First Born’ he certainly acts up the most, but gives back love and affection in droves and occasionally drool. There is nothing wrong with being sensitive is there! Dogs and humans alike.

The Last Harvest

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Harvest festival is long past now. We donated some tins and provisions to both churches where the girls and the little ones schools each celebrated. I’ve told you of our bumper grape harvest and the dismal one from the orchard. All due to the very hot summer we enjoyed. Maintinance on our terrace now complete with the sculpture of the free standing wisteria, I noticed one last harvest to be had. I promised more pictures, so here we go.

Onwards and upwards

So what’s been going on? I love all my children equally. I love my life partner John and I love the dogs, Remus and Gracie. There are ups and downs with them all, but we move forward and progress a little more each and every day. I didn’t blog yesterday as I was a bit unhappy with Caleb. Out of all of the children, I find him the most challenging. Mind you, a few years ago, the same could have been said about Thor. And today Thor and I are the best of friends. Though Mi Mi is his bestest. Caleb on the other hand is a little less ‘out there’. He’s been playing catch-up at most levels, so far. He said that ‘I don’t want to see you’ yesterday, quite out of the blue. It upset me, and I responded tit for tat. I do take things very to heart. Maybe he does too. We’ve been getting on just fine of recent, so it blew me back when he said what he did. I don’t want to ‘sugar coat’ my life and my diary, so yesterday I just decided that no news was good news. This cloud did have a silver lining however, as he ascended the stairs to go to bed at the end of a line of five, he held up his arms and said ‘up and kiss’. So it was a slightly happier end to the day.

Dead Head

The Hydrangea on the terrace got the ‘Dead Heading’ of a lifetime today. No I’m not a gardener, but as John mows the lawn, the trade off is that ‘I maintain the terrace’. It’s quite a big lawn to mow and as John has found, a final end of year mow, once all of the leaves have fallen, is the seasonal roundup and the garden then goes to sleep. No raking up of the multitude of leaves – a definite winner. So yes, I maintained the terrace today, ‘Dead Heading’ the hydrangea and de leaving and pruning into shape, one of the two remaining wisterias.

‘Dead Head’… makes you think doesn’t it! Forgetting the garden now, we all go through the ups and downs in life don’t we? But what about when the downs remain, when they don’t bounce back! Month after month of sadness, festering into blind despair. Definition of sad reads what exactly. I just googled it and dictionary. Com read some thirty six definitions. I won’t list them, but a couple that I personally felt a few years ago are – sorrowful, downcast, downhearted and despondent. And all of that after such a feeling of glory and adulation after the birth of the girls in the spring of twenty thirteen. You see it was a very long eight months I spent in Mumbai. Some of you may remember, some of it, perhaps. I would go as far as to say that coming home with the girls was the end of a very long journey for me. But we did get home, didn’t we? At that time, it was difficult as I was slightly morose, maybe not comparable to shell shock, but I felt like a person who was devoid of themselves. Of course with two young babies, you just have to cope. We were still living in London at that point. We had a nanny lined up to help out, but she was not the person we had hoped for and within four weeks of our return, we asked her to leave. At that point, the wounds I still felt from my extended time in India were still there, but babies and nappies and feeding and winding just filled in my time twenty four seven. There wasn’t any time to reflect on what had happened. I considered counselling, but would that of helped and there really wasn’t the time in the day to just ‘take off’ and sit on someone’s sofa for an hour. This is quite an admission to myself, but I felt completely ‘Dead Headed’ with all that had happened, the bureaucratic nonsense from both the Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, this and the corruption that I experienced, that is sadly part of Indian culture. Yes I returned a different man due to my experiences, feeling completely ‘Dead Headed’ at that time, but the love of our new family was binding, I got through the void that was there and replaced it with hope, yes hope of tomorrow and all that tomorrow will bring…

Whispers on the stairs

With age comes the growth in confidence, that we, as adults enjoy, when it comes to our place in the world. The same can be said of children in their own little microcosms. Well in our house, our little star Tara likes to think that she is the leader, this no doubt down to her sheer volume of confidence. And it is she that usually dictates how late they stay up after being put to bed and indeed how early they rise. This morning there were whispers on the stairs at 6.30am. And I can say that Tara also has the loudest whisper! After listening to them for a while, lying in bed feeling groggy with this cold that won’t go away, I spoke out saying that it was still the middle of the night and they should go back upstairs for a while. Of course, it was still dark as it is this time of year. They complied, at least for a while. But down again they all crept, some half an hour later. Then the inevitable bed invasion. It was clearly time to get up – we did and downstairs we all came. Some shouts from Aaliyah and a constant ‘Turtle, turtle, turtle’ from Amritsar, who had found her Hawaiian Turtle tee shirt stashed in one of Aaliyah’s draws. Maybe there as Sindy might think it is too small for ‘Ritzy Bits’ now, but Amritsar likes it still, as we brought it as a gift for her (two years ago) after John and I had holidayed in Maui.

Breakfast of Dadda’s Jam (last years home picked blackberry) on toasted, buttered, English muffins. Yummy for all and surprisingly easily cleaned up afterwards, unlike in the the past when Dadda’s Jams were usually a very sticky event! So much has already happened, yet so little to report on. Thor now sat alone watching Mr Tumble on the TV and the rest have gone up to their rooms to play. He is now stood besides me resembling a wartime evacuee in his new sleeveless ‘V’ neck sweater, snot oozing from his nose. Now all cleaned up, he heads back to the living room with Mi Mi being dragged alongside him. They are always together, the very best of friends. Everybody here has this really bad cold. John is the latest and final one to start to show symptoms. I have been rasping and coughing severely for at least a week now and all of the children have been a constant stream of snot and coughs. I’ve lost count of the amount of tissue we have gone through. Gracie is trying to open a door to the entrance hall in order to attack a bin liner that is sat alongside the recycle bag. She is very naughty like that. Occasionally if unnoticed, she can reap such devastation on the rubbish bag. John is now going to run it up to the outside bin area. Coughing away as he departs. This is gonna be a case of ‘Man Flu’ before the day is through…

Being Prepared

Being prepared… that pretty much relates to every single thing we do in life, doesn’t it? Even writing the previous sentence, I did not know when I started to write it, that it would end as a question, but with every word I wrote, the sentence was preparing itself, within my words, to become a question! That’s just how the sheer minutia of preparation, precedes itself. We are just built to self organise I guess. Some better at it than others I think, especially with The bigger things, but where on the scale am I? I am thoughtful, I’m sure that counts a lot, but sometimes we all just ‘throw it to the wind’, or do we. A debate could be had now, but I will move on to where all this babble was heading.

Candied melon or pastille? This is one preparation, I believe has just been ‘thrown to the wind’ as I am unsure of what will be the outcome, much like my previous sentence. As I am all jammed out and have run out of ‘Orcio jars’ for bottling, I’m taking some time out and have decided to make some sweet candies to give away for free at the girls school Christmas Fayre. Yes, I could have just purchased a ton of ‘funsize’ delicacies, but I opted to make my own sweets, starting two days ago with orangettes made with candied clementines, dipped in chocolate. My very favourite sweet in the world, ever. I think they will go down better with the parents, so I am making home made pastilles for the little ones. It is in fact the parents that I want to impress as I have taken this year off from Elfing, yes I said Elfing and I am taking a stall for the occasion and selling gift boxes of ‘Dadda’s Jam’. We’ll see how that goes and I’ll keep you informed on the day. But back to being prepared, candied melon or pastille?

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P.S. I will give you the Elf story at a later time.