A Winters Day

The big thaw in the Shires has left a patchwork green and white lawn on which the squirrels are playing. That was before Remus stormed down to the bottom of the garden, Gracie hot at his heels. You’ve got to smile as there’s never a victory for poor Remus or Gracie. They speed up the nearest tree, that is the squirrels do, not the dogs. It’s cold, but not like it was at the weekend. Six inches of snow dissolved to almost nothing within forty eight hours. As quick as it had fallen, it had gone. I also see that the birds have discovered the newly filled feeder. This afternoon I even spied one of our resident robins having a peck at the supersized peanuts contained therein. Shamefully I admit that the feeder has not been filled since the squirrels vandalised it last year, in their vain attempts to gorge on the contents. Naughty squirrels as they get to feast on the majority of seeds and kernels of the many trees and oaks in the general vicinity. I guess desperate times call for desperate measures!

Everyone here is fine. We made home made chips last night with Cumberland sausages. Caleb was absent as he had an appointment for his hearing at the hospital. They are considering that his slower learning rate may have something to do with slightly impaired hearing. He has got to go back in six months. I am not too worried as he has come on a lot in the last six months, though still a long way to go to catch up with his sister Aaliyah. John and I ate Indian last night as we often do. A medium tempered chicken curry and a Dahl That I wrestled from the freezer. We had basmati rice and chapatti, with mango chutney on the side. The provisions cupboard boasts home made mango jam, but I think I might fuse my love of Indian cookery with jam making and make my own mango chutney in the coming weeks. My two hours whilst the little ones were at preschool gave me the time to make six jars of Rasmelon Berry Jam. And with the left over gravy (curry sauce) from last nights chicken curry I made a mutter (pea curry) for the children tonight. Sindy is just collecting the girls from school and I am watching CBeebies with the little ones. We Just had milk and cookies, the dogs are circling the table in hope. A pretty average winters day really. The girls just arriving home, so that’s all for now.

Eighteen Moons

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Eighteen Moons is the extraordinary and moving story of Andi and John and how they brought together, against huge odds, the family they had longed for. Today they are loving fathers to five beautiful children including two sets of twins, all of them under the age of six. But the story of how this very special family came together is a tale filled with heartache and frustration, determination and courage. It’s also a story full of humor, human frailty and, above all, love.

Their quest for children took them across the world and brought them up against seemingly impossible challenges. But as the whims of officials and government directives thwarted their every move and sent them on a wild adventure which took them from India to Thailand and on to Nepal, Andi and John refused to give up.

Extraordinarily, Andi and John’s first twins were the last British surrogate babies to leave India, their son was the last to leave Thailand and their second twins were the first British children to be born through surrogacy in Nepal.

Happily together for twenty years and the besotted owners of two daft but loveable Dalmatians, Andi and John longed for children to complete their family. Two, they thought, would be perfect, ideally one fathered by each of them.

After looking at surrogacy options worldwide, India seemed to offer everything they hoped for and in 2012 they went to India to begin the surrogacy process. A few months later, they heard that their surrogate was expecting twins.

Andi went to India for the birth; the plan was that John would join them and together they would bring the babies home. When two gorgeous daughters were born they couldn’t have been happier. But what followed was a nightmare of bureaucracy and obfuscation, as John, the twins’ natural father, was refused a visa and the Indian Government refused to let Andi leave with the babies. For month after month Andi lived in India, caring for the girls, while he and John struggled to find a way to bring them home. At every turn they were thwarted until they became so desperate they considered smuggling the girls out of the country by boat. Their daughters were eight months old when, finally, John was able to go and bring them home.

The Weekend

A reunion with one of my oldest friends Sarah on my way to the Stag rather waylaid me as we talked and talked and supped away on the finest champagne! She doesn’t realise just how great her company is. Anyhow, my apologies to the lads at the Stag as the following day, I slipped in the ice and twisted my ankle. So I missed out on the weekend of alcoholic oblivion. In favour of struggling to the train station and buying another ticket to bring me home. Any sympathy there for my poor swollen ankle? I think not. The snow really had fallen some six inches in the Shires and the garden looks like a winter scape from a Christmas movie. Though they didn’t build a snowman, the sleigh was popular and there were lots of snowball fights with our neighbours and their families. I believe that our crew won (overall). Good for them. So here I sit hugging Amritsar and watching a dinosaur movie called ‘The land before time’. Aaliyah was just hugging Gracie and the boys have just put on their shoes thinking that they are going outside to play in the snow. John is responsible for tonight’s dinner of Moroccan shoulder of lamb with cous cous. The fire is radiating heat and everything is snuggly and warm.

We just spent the last hour or so shelling monkey nuts, to fill the bird feeder, which is now hanging on the wisteria on the terrace. Job well done. All five children worked really hard and we are hoping that the birds enjoy eating in this time of difficulty, as the snow is still deep. No little worms to dig up on the lawn. Remus is also snuggling in now. We all feel warm and fuzzy. Roll on dinnertime.

The Stag Weekend

Friendlies ‘Glen and Victoria’ are finally tying the knot at the end of the month. Good for them, wishing them a very happy future together. Now I know that Victoria had her hen weekend a couple of weeks ago, Glen however has opted for a boys boozy stag at… wait for it, sadly not Marbella, rather Weston Super Mare on the Costa del Zummerzet in the West Country. A themed weekend with local entertainment (ooh are) being held at the Pontins holiday camp, called Incider! What does that entail you may ask? To be honest ‘What happens in Weston, stays in Weston’. I think that only fair. I am only doing two of the three nights as I’m missing the children like crazy. I will get home at 4pm on Sunday. Sadly I will miss the fancy dress party (finale), but I hope there are a few photos of the crew!

Back to the children, though I am travelling to Weston from London Paddington, I received a text from school this morning, saying that there is no school today, so I guess Sindy will be having fun in the garden. I am expecting a snowman that is a bit of an improvement on last years poor soul. Sat on the train at present, next stop Reading. Just received a phone call from John saying that he also has taken the day off. ‘ Snowed in’ he said and four to six inches he concluded. He is working from home but he let me know that they are all going into the garden shortly for a snow ball fight. As adults, we have to hark back to what a snowfall here in the U.K. meant when we were children. A magical thing completely.

I remember a video I took of Remus and Gracie playing in the snow (they also love it) back in 2013. It was the day before I travelled to Mumbai for Amritsar and Tara’s births. That year the snow was very late. A flash cold spell dusted the garden on 22nd March. I’m sure all the children will love the snowball fight, but I am expecting that snowman. The countryside through the windows of the train looks as white as snow! Funny that.

Back to my journey, I am seeing a very good friend Sarah from Bristol who lives in Weston Super Mare. She lives there now and it has been absolutely ages since we last got to spend time together. I am hoping that we can get her an armband for the event and she can become an honorary ‘Stag’ for the weekend. We are going to meet at the station and take it from there. To be honest, I feel a bit hung over as I write this and we haven’t even started on the serious drinking. I believe the bar is well priced, so there’s gonna be a few comatose cider drinkers needing paramedic assistance for sure before the end of the weekend. And I wonder what plans the lads have to play a prank on Glen! We will just have to wait to find out. More later, that is if I’m not feeling too inebriated.

Yesterday’s Blog

Well what about yesterday’s blog? I tried to write yesterday in the afternoon. Thor kept coming up and chat, chat, chat. That is, between the snot, snot, snot.

There were occasional screams from Caleb and Aaliyah kept interrupting, showing me her dress a baby rabbit on her iPad (Amritsar’s Old Lenovo tablet). I was trying to write about burnt sugar. Don’t ask, yesterday seems a while back now. The interruptions did not stop when Tara and Amritsar arrived home with Sindy. I closed the World Press app imagining that my writings would be saved, but when I went back after the children’s dinner had been consumed, the writing has vanished within the ether! I should of course have started again from scratch, but rather that, I chose to open a bottle of wine and snuggle in with the hounds. Well there you have it. John rushed in and straight back out as there was a residents meeting of the freeholders and wasn’t back until ten o’clock, when we finally got to eat dinner (spaghetti and meatballs). At present I am sat on the train, Sindy having dropped me at the station. The sun is shining brilliantly, but it is freezing outside. We had a light dusting of snow yesterday evening and the children loved the sight of it this morning. Do you remember as a child, the treat of seeing snowfall in the U.K. Wasn’t it such a rare treat? There is snow forecast for tomorrow, but sadly not so in London. I will miss the children revealing on the carpet of icy white dust tomorrow after school. Sindy has even procured a sledge for them to play on. Lucky them!

No Dadda No, I will be good, I want to be good

These were words echoed throughout the past week from each of the little ones (Thor, Aaliyah and Caleb)! Why you might ask? Well there has been the underlying threat of starting this week at ‘Mrs Snodgrass’s Naughty School’. All three were told on Wednesday of last week that their behaviour had to get better or they would start this week with The fabled Mrs Snodgrass. Hence they have by in large, tried to be better behaved, but can a leopard change its spots? Hmmmh, me thinks not, though there is hope as I am a firm believer that you can teach an old dog a new trick. Remus and Gracie are proof of that. Remus was five and Gracie just two when I taught them how to ‘SPIN’ and OMG, when they spin, they do it for England! They could also spin the socks off of the Northern African ‘Dervish’. I will try to video them at play and show it in a blog next week maybe. Anyhow, back to the little ones behavioural changes! No – they did not start the week at ‘Naughty School’, rather their usual preschool. The ultimatum was that if they did not try to be good (or at least better behaved), Mrs Snodgrass would be called last night (Sunday) to finalise the three places for an immediate start. Their behaviour last week slowly began to look promising, but remember that they are only three and four years old, so this whole fiction is basically the ultimate in deterrent. There has been some ups (with such well behaved children) and a few downs also where They have all pushed or hit or screamed at each other (I think biting has finally been eradicated). I guess that these three things are only ever directed at each other and not us, their parents, it is a good thing as it shows that they do have certain limitations. There are those children out there who do try to bully their own parents. So it’s not so bad really. Back to last night, they were all commended after their bath for (overall) being so well behaved and I faked a phone call to Mrs Snodgrass saying that we did not need to start ‘Naughty School’ after all. They were very happy and all went off to bed smiling.

The Three Year Old Cold

Doing the maths on this one, I can truly say that with the girls sixth birthday coming up in March, I have pretty much had a cold for the last three years. They started preschool three years ago and that’s when this cold began. You know the way that children suck and chew on pretty much all toys and share them around with all of the their fellow preschool attendees, well even with the girls at big school and the fact that they are more akin to washing hands and not sharing small plastic objects coated in bacteria with everyone, we still have the three little ones doing just that! I wash my hands at least forty times daily. I scrub the kitchen table at least twice and to be honest, although I don’t get stomach problems, I guess cold viruses are just too virulent. One cold leads on after another and so on. Looking at most old photos of our guys when they were preschool age, almost all of them have runny noses. Thor seems to be the worst, it’s just one cold after another. Recently his nose has just been a snot factory and when it runs, sometimes it almost reaches his chin if unnoticed for even twenty minutes. It is only the month of August that everyone seems to be healthy and without a cold. I am hoping that with them all at big school in September, the sheer volume of this will quieten down to a trickle. I really hope so. I’m tired of coughing and sneezing and blowing my nose and the sore throat. Roll on September.