That is the question! Well, I am sure all bloggers have asked this of themselves. What to write and what not to write. I will intersperse that as I go.
School half term is upon us and yesterday, the children had a play date at a friend from schools house. They were all invited and Sindy went along with them, leaving me to my own devices at home. I chose to stay in and correct one of this years Jammin’ disappointments. All of my endeavours thus far this year have set very well. But one of my recent ‘Jammy combos’ is still resembling a chunky fruit syrup after two boils and two lots of jam jar sterilising. More about that another day.
Back to what this diary is all about! I have set this up to document my ‘Big Family Life’, but it is also an insight into my interaction with it all, my life, my history, my likes and indeed, my (only very few) dislikes. I have decided to only use our first names. The handful of friends we do have who visit us in ‘The Shires’, I will introduce as and when, also on a first name basis. I am avoiding school friends names and that of their parents unless later on they tell me they are happy for me to name them in my writings.
I have a couple of nights off now as I am sat on a London bound train. I said my goodbyes to the children this morning, so lots of ‘hugs and a kiss’. I will not blog about these two nights off every fortnight as they are not so relevant to my family life, just a bit of R’n’R really. But when I am away I might just find the time to reflect and consider the past and indeed, hopes for the future. As I earlier mentioned, it’s about ‘the little things, but also about the bigger picture.
Writing my memoirs meant a lot to me. I completed the novel when we were holidaying in Provence in August. I’m not really sure where to go with them, find a publisher, self publish, both options are on the table. But for now, I am continuing the document right here, right now! I’m smiling as I first wrote the memoir using fictitious names. I was Dillon and his partner was Gabe. The children’s names were kind of spun from our daughter Tara’s name, having our first son and my fascination with the moon. The name Tara means Star. So hence the names were all a little celestial. Star, Sky, Sonny (sun), Chandra and Terran, all had a certain ring to them, but I ended up thinking that I was in some way fictionalising or dramatising the account. So I decided we all deserved our actual names. More on the memoir later. My train is about to arrive at its destination.
Now I guess, not every small baby is assigned a ‘Baby Name’, well maybe not officially, but I’m sure that most little bundles of joy get called a myriad of cute sounding words and no doubt a certain one will stick as the parents get accustomed to the sound of it.
Our children’s baby names started with Tara. It was on our car trip, driving up from Candolim in Goa, back to the raging metropolis of Mumbai and its suburbs. I have to add that Bharti’s (our nannies) mother wouldn’t fly, so a long road trip was the only option. It is a very mountainous journey at times through the western Ghats of India as well as deep ravines and hair pin bends there was woodland and paddy fields aplenty. I remember, it was a thirteen hour journey. Bharti was our nanny back then in India. Her mother had come down from Mumbai to help out and her husband had joined us a few days before the journey. I had paid for the SUV (4 x 4) and he was our nominated driver! I of course do not drive. We passed all kinds of flora and fauna along the way, including elephants, monkeys and green parrots. I always smile when a troop of monkeys cross the road and take absolutely ages to get to the other side. The little ones stopping halfway to play. Naughty monkeys. We also gazed on a dead dog, it’s entrails looking as if they had exploded from its blooded, petrified body. There were a mass of very large, black ravens fighting over the spoils. Anyhow, we stopped a couple of times in the thirteen hours and the lunch stop was what I am going to talk about now. Bharti’s husband and I were in the front seats and Bharti and her mother were in the back holding one baby each. We stopped at a pretty basic shack besides the road for some food (curry served from a plastic chill box) and to use the hole in the ground that was the W.C. We were in a fairly dense area of woodland. I jumped out and opened the rear door for Bharti’s mother, holding a smiley Tara. I grabbed her, missing her hold and started making coo’ing sounds to generate a giggle as I walked with her to the open door of the shack. Oooh oooh I was sounding whilst holding her close to my face and to my surprise, she replied aaah oooh, to which I reactively said boo boo. Putting two sounds together, constitutes a word as far as I’m concerned. And that was how Booboo was named! Now we have twins, don’t forget. So if Tara got the oooh in booboo, Amritsar had to have the aaah in aaah oooh. Amritsar became Baabaa. Thor on the other hand, being quite the screamiest of baby’s, his name was obvious to imagine. He would wail about banging down loudly with clenched fists. Start thinking Barney Rubble’s son in the Flintstones? Bambam was a clear winner as a baby name for Thor. When it came to the youngest of the brood, I wasn’t planning on ‘Baby Names’ but I did think we should keep it in the same style of the others names. Bimbop, boopsnoop! Lol. Only kidding – Beebee and Bobo were named. Caleb’s name being shorter as he was our littlest one. A very calm and chilled out little baby, when he was first born, he was the wrinkliest of all our children. It kind of looked as if he was frowning with all the lines on his forehead. But he flattened out and no Botox was required…
So there you go. Booboo, Baabaa, Bambam, Beebee and Bobo, our not so famous five.
The final night away was a whirlwind of thanking our hosts over a Pinot Noir and a chilled Chardonnay. And my food offering was a Roast Pork and bacon joint, pigs in blankets, lard roast potatoes, glazed carrots, butter sautéed Savoy cabbage, fine green beans and a jus (gravy) made with pork stock and the juices from the meat!
We were woken this morning by Amritsar tapping Sidmouth pebbles together at 6.15am and our bedroom invasion happened at 6.45am. Another breakfast at the farmhouse of eggy bread and crepes, then a mass cleanup before we said our goodbyes at 10.30am.
The journey back was smooth. ‘Are we there yet’ only resonated a handful of times, there were no toilet stops and the children slept for seventy percent of the trip. A far cry from our outward journey. The dogs went crazy on our return and we are now finally home and settled.
No doubt more to add tomorrow…
Last nights paella was spectacular. Served with large prawns and scallops, a very well engineered, gastric delight! We used to summer in Spain when Johns mum and sister owned an apartment there many years back. It was near Marbella on the Costa del Sol. We ate paella a lot and I can, with hand on heart say that our host far exceeded anything that we have previously savoured.
Today’s adventure was exhausting. Our hosts and their two dogs were followed by us in the car. Our destination Sidmouth, was a twenty five minute drive. We parked, crossed the road and walked down to the pebble and sand beach, to the west of the town centre. The beach is flanked at the rear by enormous, red sandstone cliffs. Jurassic in age, this coastline is well known by fossil hunter and happy, beach going tourist alike. The dogs loved it, the children loved it, we all loved it. Though I have to say that we forgot to bring towels. A big mistake, but with the sun shining and the temperature in the early twenties, they all dried off in the end. You’ve got it! – the further along the beach we walked, the more confident the children were to embracing the waters edge. The waves weren’t particularly big to begin with, but they were on the tidal side of high. The beach was slowly getting smaller and smaller and the children were starting to run into the water more frequently. They were all soaked through within fifteen minutes of arrival and ringing wet, de-shoed and topless by the time we reached twenty. At thirty minutes we had to give up on that beach and were walking along the cliff side coastal path to the second beach. This one was closer to the town. The sun was hot and there was not a cloud in the sky. We had a further two hours of sand castle making, climbing the granite boulders (to the rear of the beach) and just having a good time in general. We’re back at the holiday house now, de-sanded and showered. I am thinking back to the last Time we were ‘on the beach’, it was this summer in Antibes in the south of France. The children were all in their swimming costumes and armbands. A little more glamorous than Sidmouth perhaps, Antibes warm, Mediterranean waters were Azur Blue and very inviting. We all loved the pool at the villa, they were in for a couple of hours each day and I am so glad everyone now has the confidence to just get in and start splashing around. Though being fully clothed today, maybe they had a little bit too much confidence. Note to ones self ‘Always bring towels’.
Certainly our hosts, Alistair and Lorna have made us feel welcome. So a very big warm thank you from us all. This afternoon we swam and splashed away in the outside pool for well in excess of an hour. Remember that this is the latter part of October in the U.K.! And once showered and back in our civies, we were invited up to ‘the big house’ and the not so famous five enjoyed olives and little bear corn puffs, followed by spaghetti bolognese and rounded off with homemade chocolate brownie. Well appreciated and we are now dressing the children for bed. Our hosts are coming to the ‘Thatched Barn’ in fifteen minutes to serve us a well prepared paella made from chicken stock prepared with chicken legs and roasted garlic and vegetables. Thank you, thank you. More on tonight, tomorrow. I can’t get over,how good the weather has been.
We arrived to a warm welcome last night and the gracious hospitality of Alistair and Lorna. The two dogs greeted us also at the main farmhouse door. Aaliyah smiled and gave the biggest hugs. The two cats fled and hid. That was the last we saw of them. John went with Alistaire to purchase the six biggest portions of fish and chips I have ever seen. Dinner was a big hit, washed down with copious amounts of black current squash and white wine. You can work out who drank what! The ‘Thatched Barn’ where we were sleeping was warm and cosy. And surprisingly all five settled quickly, though it was almost three hours past their normal bed time. We were invited to the farmhouse for a breakfast of well seasoned ‘eggy bread’ and wafer thin crepes cooked on the range. The oil lightly dusting the multitude of fry’s made the open kitchen a little smokey but this cleared and everyone ate vast amounts.
We ventured out to the local seaside town of Seaton. The weather was sunny and warm with only a mild breeze. Our morning was to visit the Seaton Tramway. Everyone loves trains and we knew that the Seaton to Colyton tram ride would be a big success. It was and they all got to choose a toy in the gift shop. We progressed on to the actual seafront. It is not such a commercial one, just a rank of houses, a few business and a shingle beach. Ice creams were purchased from a small hut on the road beside the beach. It was decided to eat them in the car, something Aaliyah was not happy with. Needless to say we had our first major meltdown of the day, followed by Caleb becoming angry and throwing his ice cream on the floor of the car.’I want to be good, I want to be good’ Aaliyah screamed, but there was no sign of her anger calming until we were nearly back at the holiday home. Thor, Aaliyah and Tara finished ice creams calmly and asked for tissue to clean off. Lunch was a simple matter of toasted bagels. There is excitement and shouting again as we prepare for the 4.30pm slot at the pool. Tara and Aaliyah are screaming about their swimming costumes and broken goggles respectively. Wish us luck – off to the pool.
A very long afternoon and evening. I hope you’re sitting down. Make yourself comfortable.
Not even four o’clock and ‘are we there yet’ has raised its beleaguered head. Caleb has been shouting and Thor has been saying ‘be quiet Caleb, stop shouting’, now he is shouting, ‘Caleb stop shouting’. Now I am shouting ‘Thor and Caleb stop shouting’. The others are quiet, it’s a long journey ahead. Now approaching the world heritage site, Stonehenge. This part of the A303 is notoriously slow. You have to smile at the innocence of this. Thor has just said ‘I see a small deer asleep besides the road. His leg was near the car. He was asleep’. A very observant little boy. You do realise this paragraph is going to be condensed down from our entire trip, don’t you? Thought I should say that in case you’re thinking that an awful lot is going on. A Bi-Plane has just been hovering and looping above us, very cool. Just found a lay-by and stopped for Thor, Aaliyah and Tara to have a pee in the shrubs. Just spotted Stonehenge, we’re all very excited. ‘Tara pinched me’ just came from the back seat. ‘Stonehenge, Stonehenge is coming, look, look’ Amritsar is now screaming. Aaliyah is more interested in the cows on her side however and Thor is screaming about cow poo. Sonny and Cher have just come on the music system. We play a lot of 1960’s music for the children. It just seems so much more appropriate in its innocence and optimism. Now Caleb is saying ‘I am a spaceman’ and Thor is shouting ‘Caleb hit me, Caleb hit me’. They can’t actually reach each other with Aaliyah sat happily in the middle! All is now quiet. Now Aaliyah has stuck her sticker she was given at the library visit with preschool today on her belly button and is shouting ‘look Dadda, look’. Amritsar is giggling maniacally in the back seat and tickling Tara. Alliyah and Caleb have started doing the same. Thor looks on uninterested, staring out of the window. Just spotted a mother on her knees in a lay-by cleaning off her car seat with wipes ‘There but for the grace of god go I’. ‘Own kind of music’ Cass Elliot just came on. Respect! Some of the rolling landscape either side of the road is a real treat for the eyes. Thor has just remarked about the long shadows and how it will soon be dark. Clever boy. Another several ‘are we nearly there yet’ in quick succession from Amritsar and now Thor and Aaliyah have joined in. John is bored of the music and wants ‘music to watch girls by’ and I said if there are two rubbish songs in a row, we can change music. He asked well who’s going to be the arbiter? I thought and as Thor was nodding his head I said ‘Thor can arbitrate’ and added ‘Do you like this song Thor’, he replied ‘Yes Dadda’. Hehehe. Two paraglider’s are floating past us in a nearby field, good spotting Amritsar. The last song was rubbish! We eagerly awaited the next song… ‘up, up and away in my beautiful balloon’ is playing and Thor was asked wether he liked it… a resounding yes. But then again we all secretly like it don’t we! ‘Sheep, sheep, sheep’ is all I’m hearing now. I guess we just passed some sheep. Caleb has been clutching the nappy change bag for the entire trip and keeps opening the zipper. He seemingly can’t close it so keeps screaming ‘Dadda, Dadda Help’? I’m getting a neck ache at this point with turning around so much. Out of sympathy, Thor and I are now allowing John his fix of Andy Williams as ‘Music to watch girls go by’ is now playing. The sun is preparing to set in front of us. A magnificent display of mottled cloud and the suns exhausted rays besets us, as does Gene Pitney. I’m now screaming ‘Are we there yet’? Thor has just pulled a handful of Aaliyah’s hair from her scalp. She is screaming and kicking about something completely unrelated. We can now see a Lama in a field of sheep – does this get any more surreal. Tara is shouting ‘Hello Lama, Hello Lama’. The car is at a standstill besides the Lama. They are all shouting ‘Hello Lama’. We see a statue of Buddha in the sheep and Lama field! I have just found half a bag of wipes pulled from the packet at Caleb’s feet. He is no longer the nappy bag monitor. Naughty Caleb. This half term traffic sucks. Usually things speed up once we have passed Stonehenge – but it’s been a constant crawl for the last two hours now. Thor and I have the thumbs down for the song playing, will we be swapping musical genres again? Thanks Bobby Rydell. Though Tara is now singing or whining in tune to the song! How very theatrical of her. The Mavericks are a compromise for john and I but the children have decided they all want ‘Shake, Baby, Shake’ by Lush. We are teaching them the art of compromise – they can have their song next. Just passed a restaurant called ‘The Hawk House’ hmmmm, interesting! Caleb, bless him is trying to join in with Tara and Aaliyah singing the lyrics. He’s finding it hard so he’s resorted to grunts and a sort of squealing sound… The traffic has improved vastly as we are now hitting 70mph. Are we legal, we’re going with the flow however! I don’t drive but I sympathise with those at the wheel. As slow as a tortoise for so long and now running with the hare… I spoke too soon. Back walking with the tortoise. But the children get to see a ‘Blue Tractor’ on the opposite side of the road. Sun pretty much set now and the moon is shining on my left hand side. It should be full in a few days, I hope it’s not cloudy on Monday!!! We’re talking about Lorna’s cats now, the ginger or the black. They all want the cats. Oh dear, Thor now says he smells something strange! ‘Is it coffee’ Aaliyah asks. ‘What is it, what is it’ she is now screaming. Thor looks at her calmly. ‘You don’t need to worry Aaliyah’. Thor then adds ,The moon is following us Aaliyah’. It’s dark now and I have resorted to google maps for directions. Tara is shouting ‘Hey Google’ as she is on the car speaker. To no avail, google does not reply. You have to smile and sorry if you don’t understand some of my dialogue today as i’m not sure I do either…