Friday, August 31, 2007

The penultimate...

This time last year, I was entertaining old friends. They were here on a visit and I hadn't seen them for a long time. I was pregnant. Very pregnant. The frog was working and I laid on a very simple brunch - if I recall, I opened a few packets and patted my belly apologetically. That, after all, is what it was there for, no? My big 'get out of jail free' belly?

I didn't much use pregnancy as a reason to stuff myself, I can stuff myself without any reason, thank you very much. I didn't use it as an excuse not to exercise, I worked out up to 6 months. I did however use it as a fine excuse to wear a bikini without shame, to let the Frog carry the groceries and to feel cheated if I didn't get a seat on the tube. Wouldn't you?

On this particular day however, I was trying not to focus on the fact that I was due to have a baby. Today. As it were. My due date. The midwife had informed me that I wasn't ready, I'd refused an appointment to book an induction on the following Monday and was girding my loins to tough out a few more weeks in the sweltering heat.

Partway through brunch, which we ate outside in the garden, I stood up to get something and I, er, wet myself. Or something. But then, there was nothing there. The next time I stood up, same thing. And again. And again. I recall being very cool about it. I remember sitting down after yet another trip to the loo, announcing that I thought my waters had broken and starting in on another biscuit. Why not?

Over the course of the day I saw a midwife, had a few pains and some wild energy and, eventually, settled in for a long night, at the end of which was a complete unknown.

There are all these occasions in one's life when one steps out from an established comfort zone into a totally unknown experience for the first time, knowing that things will never be the same again. Going to school. Having one's first kiss. Moving out of one's parents house. Losing one's virginity. Getting one's first job. Oh, and HAVING A BABY.

I had no idea what was waiting for me at the end of the night, or in the middle of it, or at the end of the next day - no idea what it would be like, when it would be coming or how I was going to handle it. I pfaffed around organising things, the house, the cat, the frog. I patted my bump obsessively. I made a few phone calls and settled in for a long, painful wait.

This time a year ago the livingroom had the birth pool set up in it and I was on my way to meet the spud for the first time. This year I'm off to bed and in the morning, I'll meet the spud once more, this time for his first ever birthday.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mother's little helper

There is much to be said for Calpol and other baby painkillers, provided one is talking solely about the happiness of ones baby and not the condition of one’s house. The Spud has been teething again and after the last terrible episode I’m determined not to let him suffer. So, on the advice of the doctor who has said there are no side effects from baby pain medications and to feel free give them within reason whenever needed, at the first sign of discomfort we are dosing him up. The result is that we have a very happy baby on our hands at the moment. A happy baby means an active baby and an active baby means an Interesting Life.

Perhaps a short tour of our apartment might enlighten you. As one comes in through the front door, one finds oneself in a small, square entrance hall with a dark wood cabinet featuring two drawers and two doors, the contents of which are scattered all over the rug. The doors lol open apologetically while the drawers lie upside down on the floor, waving their little handles about like panicky beetles.

Straight ahead is the living room. On first glance it looks vaguely tidy however a closer glance reveals a litter of CDs and DVDs clustered together in a dark corner. There is a lot of electrical kit in this room but oddly, no remote controls, and the telephone cradle is empty and dusty, as if no phone has lived there for a Long Time.

The living-room adjoins the kitchen which also looks vaguely tidy. The cat’s bowls are empty but the food is handily beside them on the floor. The washing machine door is swinging drunkenly and the machine is empty except for a telephone. The bin is open. It is full of remote controls.

Back into the hall and straight on to the nursery. It is impossible to open the door as there is a pile of books behind it accompanied by the sound of a rampaging animal grunting and turning a lot of electronic toys on and off over and over again. This is an appropriate moment to swear.

Back into the hall and turn right into the main bedroom. As you walk in there is an open bookshelf with books on both sides, but curiously only from the third shelf up. The bottom two shelves are empty. Walk around to the other side of this shelf and one can see many piles of books on the floor, almost as if someone has pushed them right through the bookshelf. Who would do a thing like that, one asks?

The bed has clearly never been made as the cover is hanging off one side onto the floor. The clock radio is on but tuned to a station which strangely only broadcasts white noise. There is a large wardrobe with drawers in it. All the drawers are open and one suddenly realises that the room is not carpeted but that one is in fact walking on stray knickers and socks. At the back of the room is the door into the bathroom and next to that a changing table with a big shelf. On the shelf are a few stray items of nappy changing gear, the rest of which is carefully stowed in a pile underneath.

As one walks through the flat one treads constantly on little rubber things which on close inspection are corner-shaped. All the sharp corners in the flat are exposed except for a thin veneer of glue, almost as if something has been ripped off them. Something rubber, perhaps.

One is now at the end of one’s tether and so one grits ones teeth, strides back into the hallway and forces open the nursery door. Inside, amidst the drift of toys, clothes, bedding and ripped up paper is a small, squealing potato intent on some object currently under de-construction. Just as one is considering one’s options, it looks up, beams, opens it’s arms to be picked up and then lands a big, wet kiss on ones face. Suddenly, the mess doesn’t matter much at all.

Bring on the Calpol. Make mine a double.

Friday, August 24, 2007

standing in the rain

I know I said I wouldn't be posting every day however we had such a lovely day today that I felt marginally inspired this afternoon. I thought that I’d sit down to my laptop and the words that had gone through my head would magically come flowing back to me however because I have Mother-brain and can’t remember anything that happened more than 10 minutes ago I am now sitting here with the vague memory of standing in the rain in Trafalgar Square with one of my best mates watching our boys battle it out from the damp confines of their buggies and thinking ‘so THIS is what it’s all about… must blog about it later’.

I always thought that one day I may have a baby. I never particularly wanted one more than I didn’t want one. I was sort of ambivalent. One of the clichés I had always bought into about having a baby is, well really it’s a handful of clichés. ‘Having a child lets you relive your childhood’ (but hopefully without the painful embarrassment and bullying); ‘You get to see the world through new eyes’ (which is good because my eyesight sort of peters out after 3 inches and everything gets blurry); and the old chestnut ‘They keep you young’ which is odd because I swear I have aged 10 years in the last 12 months. Taken together these are three seriously seductive concepts. Just think... all the best bits of childhood – toys you always wanted but never got, games you loved but never play anymore, that old jaded world stripped bare of rubbish and cigarette butts and suddenly revealing it’s secrets – and all that with a free face and body lift. Doesn't it sound ridiculously good?

Babies, however, don’t really give one the opportunity to experience all that doe-eyed loveliness. They can’t play games, you can’t put them on a rollercoaster or any other fun ride and besides watching them discover their own hands, which is, surprisingly, amazing, they don’t see enough of the world for it to look particularly new and unvarnished to their parents. And, crucially, they don’t let one sleep at all and make one worry oneself into the fast-track at the local Botox parlour.

What I’m getting at, I guess, is that up until now, while the spud has turned me from ambivalent female to gushing mother in a single bound, we’ve kind of just been taking it day by day and it’s been a fairly navel-gazing experience, not including the actual navel gazing done while we waited for his to shrivel up and fall off. Recently, however, he’s taken his gaze outwards and is noticing and, in his own way, commenting on the world around him. He’s starting to play and to interact with the world and it’s, well, sorta kinda maybe a bit cool.

Today, therefore, we ventured out in the hope of sun to see my good friend and her highly entertaining 2 year old for a day trip into the heart of London. Predictably, it rained, the sort of hazy, light rain that gets everywhere but doesn’t really get you wet. Starting in Green Park we strolled through to St. James’ park, ate in the restaurant and meandered our way via puddles and ducks through Horse Guards Parade and up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square, just like in Monopoly. Mr. Highly Entertaining was brilliant. He hollowed out his bun and parked his car in it. He stood in EVERY puddle and gazed transfixedly at the horse guards. I was vaguely wondering what it will be like when the spud is able to do all those things when I noticed that he was staring in wonder at one of the big, bronze statues that litter London and was really interested. He was interested in the ducks, the pigeons, the squirrels, interested in Mr. Entertaining standing in a puddle, in the horses, the guards… I held him up to one of the lions in the square and he laughed and suddenly the air cleared slightly and it was like being on a school trip (or perhaps good drugs... but I digress...) and seeing it all for the first time… the double decker buses, the taxis, the fountains… my friend and I kept saying to each other ‘This is great! Why have we forgotten about all this stuff that London does?’ and grinning like idiots in the rain. Suddenly, London is new again, fresh. It’s no longer about nightclubs and work and taking the tube in rush hour but about all this great stuff I can show to the spud.

Roll on those clichés, I guess I’m ready now.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007 of the schmoozers

I give up, I am clearly incapable of posting every day and so I will stop pretending that that’s what I’m doing. I would love to post every day but at the moment what I really need to do is to sleep every day... so, here goes...

I still have two more ‘Power of Schmooze’ awards to give away… from what I can gather, once one has the award one is supposed to pick three bloggers. The thing is that the most schmoozy of my fellow-bloggers already have this award and so this post started out being very difficult, then er, very long...

Lady MacLeod, for example, posts copiously every day on her own blog Braveheart Does the Mahgreb, writes articles and various complex and vaguely scientific-sounding pieces for what I can only assume are people brighter than I am – AND comments vibrantly on pretty much every blog I visit. Prime candidate for the schmooze award BUT she already has one on display already and possibly more stashed under her djebella. So SHE’s out of the question.

Then there’s Jenny, possibly the only person I know (albeit only online) who is deafer than my cat. Jenny is enormously amusing in her blog ‘Mountain Mama’ as well as often very touching. She posts regularly and is frequently one of my only readers. She’s also very prolific with her comments on other blogs and schmoozes alongside the best of them. But, she also already has the award. Onwards

Then, there’s DJ. A fellow Canadian, this is a woman with 3 sons, one of whom is a tad challenging, who has time to post on THREE of her own blogs, one a wonderfully written autobiography, one a novel and the other, er, her ‘blog’ blog, write erotica professionally, comment voraciously on everyone else’s blogs and never drops a stitch. Her schmooze power is incontestable and therefore, predictably, she already has the award.

Elsie Button, amusing Mummy blogger and fellow UK habitant – frequent commenter and major schmoozer. Got the award. Now, there are also Stay at Home Dad and Darth Sardonic who are really funny, touching, wonderful bloggers and commenters and neither are showing this award. Darth is currently in a funk waiting for his wife to come back from service in Iraq and isn’t really in schmooze mode at the moment (go on, go over and cheer him up) and Stay at Home Dad hasn’t posted in a while and I can’t choose between them really.

So. Bossy. Blogger of brilliance who doesn’t DISPLAY the award but doesn’t display any awards. Bossy has been kindly commenting on my site (and being a lot funnier than I am while at it) for a while and has one of the funniest blogs I read. She also goes to blogging conferences and bowling with bloggers and, well, basically is the schmooziest of the schmoozers. I suspect she’s too cool to put awards up, unlike me who was so damn thrilled that I’d have posted them on the wall of my house if the frog would let me That’s ok though,, I’m giving her this one anyway. Just in case

So, now I'd like to introduce you, if you don't know her already, to Bel who has been dropping in all over the place. Her blog is reasonably new but she’s commenting all over the place these days and I think she just edges in with being Ms. Schmooze so, Bel, great to see you around, great blog, post the award on your site and enjoy! Thanks for coming by as always, lady schmooze.

Me, I’m off to bed. Now that the spud is sleeping through, that old bear insomnia has woken up and attacked me and life is pretty tough at the moment.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Wibble Wibble

OK, I can't be bothered to do a daily post today. This is what my son REALLY thinks of me...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

one baby slightly worn...

I am becoming obsessed with wearing out the spud before his bedtime. The thing is; and I am almost afraid to type this in case I jinx it; the thing is that since the hysterics episode, the Spud has slept 11 hours at night every night but one. It’s almost like teeth 7 and 8 came with special magic sleepy potion. It is surprisingly easy to get used to this new, unbroken sleep that we’re getting however I do live in fear of the day that teeth 9 and 10 come along to wreck it all. In fact, to be honest, I live in fear that it wasn’t the teeth that were keeping him up at all and that this is just another one of those things that babies do randomly and temporarily, like waving their hands around and hitting the dinner spoon so that mush lands in Mummy’s eye, or loving rice cakes for months before turning around and hating them.

Anyway, the upshot of all this is that I am taking steps to ensure that these long nights are not just temporary and I have started a programme designed to wear him out before bedtime. For the last week, this has meant forcing allowing him to do seven or eight circuits of the slide in the playground, the most important part being the bit where he crawls up the ramp to get to the top. I don’t know how much this has contributed to our long, dark, happy nights but I’m loathe to give it up Just In Case - and so, when it rained today and the slide was out of the question, we decided to take him to the frog’s studio and let him climb the stairs.

Given free reign he happily clambered up and then backwards down the stairs until he was actually panting. I think it must be the thrill of the dangerous and forbidden as he was like a little stairway yo-yo. I of course knackered myself out got some exercise solicitously following two steps behind all the way up and then all the way back down again and then all the way up and then... but I digress. We’ve spent considerable time training him to climb down from things backwards and he’s finally sussed it. What he’s also sussed is that on carpeted stairs, he can pretty much slide feet first from the top to the bottom on his belly with his feet catching enough on each step to slow him down and his little chin raised carefully to stop it bobbling on every tread. Smart baby, was not sure whether to applaud him for being so clever or to have a heart-attack on the spot. It did however achieve my objective which was to tire me my little french fried potato out before bed.

The problem of course is that he’s getting stronger, fitter and able to last MUCH longer on the slide and presumably, the stairs, meaning that soon my old aching bones will not be able to keep up with him. This in turn will mean that I need more sleep which will mean tiring him out for even longer so that HE sleeps more and then he’ll get fitter and… er…

...bother it...someone pass me the phenergen...


Friday, August 17, 2007

Mashed Spudato

The spud had his very first restaurant lunch today. He's eaten in restaurants before however only food that we've taken in with us. Today I ordered from the children's menu for the first time and he had an enormous lunch of veggie sausages and mash. This is great. This is like, freedom on a plate. Of course, the fact that I was at a baby-friendly cafe who do food specifically designed to tempt Mums like me into spending their hard-won maternity pay on baby food they could make for a tenth of the price at home doesn't exactly mean this reflects any sort of universal constant. In fact, let's face it, if it wasn't for my brilliant friend and her little einstein (this baby is younger than the spud, speaks 5 words, knows his colours and can nod 'yes' or 'no' on purpose), we would still be wandering around hopelessly looking for somewhere to sit down.

After this massive carb-fest we took the boys to the park where einstein sat sedately in the swing smiling beatifically at his Mum while the spud tore around (as much as a 25 pound crawler can tear) following older children, banging on all the playground furniture, falling into the sandpit and trying to climb UP the slide. This endeared him no end to the three-year olds who were legitimately at the top of the thing wanting to descend and I worked off my entire lunch bending down, picking him up, putting him down some-where out of the way and then running after him to repeat. 'Would you like to go on the swings?' I asked... 'Ah ah ah' said the spud, ignoring me to crawl back up the slide. 'Would you like to go on the swings?' asked my brilliant friend of her baby... 'isss' he said, nodding vigourously. But I digress.

Einstein apparently got so brainy because his Mum reads books to him several times a day and does all sorts of pointing and nodding things to encourage him. After I confessed that I don't always read to the spud, my friend strong-armed us all into a bookshop and kept throwing books into my arms (and here's something, why are fully 25% of all baby books about farms?) until I fell over and my credit card landed in the cash-register. Now his room looks like a library and while part of me dreams that in no time at all my little whirl-wind will be speaking and pointing and correctly able to identify a tractor (I'm certain this will be very useful in Brixton), most of me knows that what is really going to happen is that tomorrow morning there will be just that much more of a papery feel to the rubble of Stuff on the floor of his room.

Don't get me wrong. I do read to him fairly regularly, just not every night. This is partly because he's only just got over trying to eat all his books and partly because I mumble cough boob mumble cough him cough cough cough to sleep mumble hack. So, erm, by the time we get to that Horlicks moment when I'm supposed to snuggle him up beside me on the bed and read him a book in the golden, hazy glow of his bedside light, he is asleep with his mouth open, snoring very faintly like a pint-sized trucker.

I am, however, going to make a change. Now that we have eliminated the bed-time boob, I am starting a new routine which involves reading to him while he chugs down his last milk of the day and so far, meaning as evidenced by our test run this evening, it seems to be going down well. Whether or not his little spud brain will absorb this new influx of information remains to be seen however if he throws himself into it the way he has taken to throwing himself down the slide, I'm sure we'll have comprehension soon. Or skinned knees. One or the other.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Too tense..

Note lopsided tent due to Spud-related injury

Ah yes, the camping. I am dull clever enough to have two tents which I think is crucial in any expedition involving a member of your family who is currently wearing nappies. And using their knees to propel themselves through cigarette butts and rabbit poo the wilds of nature.

I thought, in fact, that I was very clever indeed, until the moment the spud created the Larousse Gastronomique of all posterior souffles just as it started raining. And we were in the wrong tent. By the time I got to the poo tent, as it will be known for now and possibly forever, he was wearing poo trousers and all the wipes in the world were not going to be enough. There was an outdoor sink with warm running water nearby, however half the campsite were at that point lining up to do their dishes in it and I rather thought I would lose my chance at the 'miss popularity' prize if I ran over clutching my bundle of loveliness and begging for a quick dabble in their dish-soap.

However, I overtake myself.

We arrived at the campsite in perfect time, the sun was shining, the spud had slept for 2 hours in the car and crucially, my friends were already there, tents up and with the wine cracked open. I put up my tent, unpacked, realised that my car was now blocked into the far corner of the campsite for the entire duration of the event, cursed momentarily and then relaxed. For about two minutes.

The spud thought it was all brilliant. He could crawl anywhere he wanted to crawl. This meant, initially, crawling onto the tent. Not into. Not around. Onto. You would think a tent would be a match for an 11 month old baby but no, within seconds it was down and spent the rest of the weekend, possibly even the rest of it's tenty little life, with a kink in the front pole.

He also crawled out of our campsite, into other people's campsites, through mud, grass, brambles, under parked cars and er... into more mud, more grass and, if he wasn't watched closely, dangerously close to the biscuit packets.

None of this however prevented me from enjoying the wine. At least not until we woke up the next morning in a boiling hot, sun-bright tent at 8am. Spuddy slept a remarkable 11 hours in his wee sleeping bag. In fact, I woke up first, rolled over to see how he was and he actually winced, put his hand over his eyes, said 'eurrrr....' and rolled away to go back to sleep, proving his paternity beyond any doubt.

When he did however deign to wake up, he just couldn't believe his luck. Here he was already on ground level, outside on a sunny day. No push-chair, no cot, no stairs, no getting dressed, no nappy changing, no face washing, no breakfast - just straight from boob to beautiful day. He poked out his head, took it back in, beamed at me with all seven teeth gleaming in the sun and was out like a rocket, directly to the fire pit. The colour of his feet was not to be believed. And, since the queues for the hot water sink seemed to be endless, I never washed them. And that's ok, because I was wearing my Bad Mother hat all weekend. I didn't wash my feet either.

Seeing as this was rather an earthy sort of gathering, he also decided that to fit in he required a multi-coloured knit jumper and a guitar to go with his dirty bare feet.

Mummy's little hippy...

I'd like to be sarcastic about this but really, for the most part it was idyllic. The Frog showed up for the afternoon on Day 2 and we perambulated about trying to project the picture of perfect parenthood while pretending the spud was not covered in food, mud and various unidentified (but hopefully non-toxic) smudges. The spud was complicit in this as he was intent on showing off his new tooth which everyone mistook for him being beamingly happy.

The second night was another sleep-through, however at 4am the rain came. We didn't leak, (or at least, the tent didn't leak) but without the benefit of all that lovely ground to lol about on, the spud was not quite such a happy camper in the morning. He cried, he complained and he grudgingly accepted a bottle.

I will cry as soon as I have finished

And then came the Great Poo incident, the Merde Major in our little constellation of tents. After I had used all the kitchen roll and my towel suitable materials to clean him up, we said goodbye to the tents and the fields, struck camp and that, my friends, was that.

The Spud saw wolves, eagles, medieval dancing, freaks and friends, fire, trees, rabbits and their poo butterflies, stinging nettles, car tyres, mud, brambles, people falling over, hangovers, dancing and loads of other children all close up, he slept like a log, he ate corn on the cob, poked out the tooth that gave us so much grief in France and was a very relaxed, happy little spud.

I may even go camping with him again. Next time, however, I'll bring a bath.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

You shmooze, you don't lose!

I am back from camping. We are both alive. I am however too knackered to tr to blog about it and so here are my nominees for the Blogger Community Power of Schmooze Awards...

My first nominee (I will do the rest over the week as I haven't had the chance to check to see if you all have the award already or not!) is... drumroll please...

Lindystar the HOR Blogger whose constant, hilarious tales of filth and fun keep me laughing almost as much as her comments on mine and other people's blogs. This blog is definitely not for the faint-hearted as it includes such dainty topics as anal sex, Lady Gardening (which seems to be a topic of concern at the moment, not just for me but for Jenny as well!) and kicking cats' ass. Oh, and Sex toys.

Basically, anything she writes about is pretty much 'x' rated and funny as all heck. She claims to know nothing about nothing other than 'Hillbilly and Mexican' but is clearly lying through her g-string. She has loads of fans and tirelessly responds to all the comments on her blog and STILL has time to be funny on other people's blogs. A credit to the blogging community... although given the sexual nature of her blog she's probably going to get scooped up for a book contract soon leaving us plain old non-sexy non-published bloggers seething quietly behind her back...

Camping post will come, I promise.

Friday, August 10, 2007

I must be completely insane

I won't be posting over the weekend and this is because I have gone completely cuckoo.

It's not that the men in white coats will be coming for me (just yet) or that I will be covered in mud watching birds. No, it's worse than that I'm afraid... I am going camping. With the Spud. Without the Frog. For three days.

Right now the hallway is stacked to the ceiling with all The Stuff... wipes and nappies and bottles and food and clothes and more clothes and a first aid kit and calpol and butt cream and sleeping sack and spare socks and a cute little rain coat and a baby cot and towels and toys... oh, and a tent. You might note the absence of MY clothes in this list and this is because even though it is a quarter past midnight and I have been preparing The Stuff all day, I have not yet packed for myself.

I will bring a camera and perhaps, when I come around from the tranquiliser dart I'm sure will be needed to get me home in one piece, I will post about it all. If you don't see me here for a few weeks, you'll know why.

In the meantime the Spud only had hysterics three times today. Once because I took the cob of corn he was gnawing out of his hand FOR ONE SECOND to turn it around so he could start on a new bit, once because he crawled into the living-room and realised I had turned on my laptop without him and once because the cat walked away from him.

Boy am I looking forward to camping with him for three days.


Thursday, August 09, 2007


Today has gone like this.

2:00am - Spud wakes up in hysterics.
2:10am - Spud falls asleep on boob
2:20am - Spud wakes up in hysterics
2:22am - Spud falls asleep on boob (note fast turnaround - Spud is now asleep in parental bed)
2:25am - Spud wakes up in hysterics
2:30am - Spud in hysterics being walked around flat and shhhd to gently
2:35am - Spud in hysterics having his nappy checked
2:40am - Spud in hysterics rejecting boob
2:45am - Spud still in hysterics. Parental units flap hopelessly about while he arches and screams and rejects everything. Between 2:45am and 4:00am Spud rejects the following:
- Calpol
- Bonjela
- Teething powder
- Bottle
- Daddy's shoulder
- Mummy's shoulder
- Lying down
- Sitting up
- Being in the bed
- Being on the floor
- Being held
- Being left alone
4:00am Spud accepts Boowa and Kwala's songs
4:30am Spud starts playing
5:00am Spud accepts sleep
8:00am Spud wakes up
12:00pm we checked in for our flight.
3:00pm we landed in the UK
3:40pm We drove home. Spud had hysterics
5:30pm we got home and unpacked
5:30pm to 6:00pm The Spud rampaged around the house playing with all his toys and breaking wedding presents. Then he had hysterics
Then he ate
Then we went to the shops
Then he had a boob
Then he went to bed

Then I discovered we were out of vodka.

Then I had hysterics.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Award shower

I feel very honoured to have been chosen for two awards by The Good Woman of My Wee Scottish Blog for her 'Award from A Broad' for which I am very grateful. During these summer months of few readers (even my Mum only looks in once a month or so these days... I guess at my age the effect of Motherly Love on her are wearing a little thin...) it's good to have people who drop in for a natter regularly. It's also good to have excellent blogs to read rather than all those unecessary 3 for 2 novel deals which normally take what little time I seem to have spare these days and TGW is a brilliant read. She is also tireless in her vistitation of other people's blogs, hence her award by Lady Macleod for the Schmooze Power award which she has also passed along to me and which I will pass shortly onto three other bloggers who have schmoozed me... although finding one who hasn't already GOT the award is going to be a task...

The Good Woman currently lives in Scotland as her blog title implies but is shortly moving to Nairobi on another adventurous posting and I am looking forward no end to the continuation of her blog in new climes.

In her very kind post The Good Woman mentions quite rightly that I don't really post about anything other than The Spud. While this is mainly because I am a Bear Of Very Little Brain and can only think about one thing at once and the Spud is currently That Thing, it's also because he is the reason I have a blog.

I started this purely to talk about my pregnancy to my family so that they'd all stop ringing me with an endless stream of identical questions. Very shortly, however, it became obvious that I didn't know the first thing about pregnancy and that there seemed to exist a web of silence around the entire process (not however if you're on the Interweb where thousands of parents are daily dishing The Terrible Truth). In fact, unless one is pregnant oneself or is particularly mad and buys a pregnancy book for light entertainment (say if it was in a 3 for 2 deal at the airport), the only things one might know about the entire experience are a: the birds and the bees have their way and b: nine months later a baby pops out of 'Down There' down there. Oh! Ouch!

The truth is so startlingly different from the above that I found myself suddenly blurting out the facts to friends of mine in conversation. You have no idea how fast it is possible to lose friends while discussing the natural functions of one's own body. I would be asked a simply 'how is it going' type question and would find myself five minutes later talking at the general vicinity of a vacant chair about how my intestines were currently trapped under my lungs. It turns out that if one is not or has not already been pregnant, one actually Doesn't Want To Know which is possibly why by the time one is knocked up one knows Absolutely Sweet Bugger All about the whole thing.

So, here I am, still blurting it all out in gory detail. It makes me laugh, anyway.

The Good Woman also questions what I do for a living and in that I am very lucky in that I work for myself, largely from home (although this tends to spill over into my weekends and holidays but there you go) and we balance Spud-care out between a childminder, the Frog and myself.

What I do however is so incomprehensibly mind-numbing boring to explain that to say anything about it at all would lose me all my readers my reader to a nice long reader-y nap. The keywords here are 'CRM', 'Blahject' and 'blahblahblah'. Oi! Wake up!! (sound of fingers going **SNAP SNAP SNAP**) You see? I lost you at the acronym, didn't I? Oh hell, I've lost you completely now.

So, er, that's that. I will pass on the Schmooze award very soon. I was going to post about Biarritz but then it rained a lot and I lost heart. Worse, it managed to rain half-way through my week-long tanning plan when I had only got to the bit where I move to a lower factor sunscreen so I am still as white as the Sta-puft marshmallow man. And about as doughy.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Basque in it

Today we went to the Fetes de Bayonne which is an annual Basque festival very close to Biarritz. Apparently it used to involve lots of rufty tufty Basque men drinking, baiting bulls and having the odd punch-up however is now much more visitor friendly, although there is still a satisfactorarily high quotient of rufty tufty Basque men. Unfortunately they are all attached to a tiny, skinny, beautiful woman who is obviously from a clone shop.

Everyone dresses in Basque uniforms - white trousers and shirt, red scarf around the waist and a red kerchief around the neck. Even the spud (insert annoying cute pic here).

Everyone, that is, except the basque youth who by day four of sleeping in their camper vans and being thrown out of one bar after another are wearing the filthiest grey trousers and tops, covered in stains and marker pen slogans and with their kerchiefs on backwards. Roaming in packs the festival was clearly theirs to enjoy and part of me was envious of their freedom (the other part wanted to shove them under a shower).

The rest of us roamed around from bar to bar, eating street food and going to the fun-fair which occupied a large part of the town. The frog got very excited about something called Churros which sounded yummy - a fried creme paste of some sort which turned out to be donut dough extruded directly into the deep fat fryer and which tasted only of the sugar it was coated in. On my high horse about how foul it was and how bad for the spud it would be if we were to give him any more feed him any, I turned around and decided that since we were at a fair I should have candyfloss (confusingly called 'Barbe a Papa' which made me think of the children's show) which proceeded to melt in the heat leaving pink sugar syrup all over my white clothes. And then it took the skin off my tongue. I'd forgotten about that part.

The fair was exactly as all fairs complete with fun house and ghost house and a VIP ride which apparently features Bruce Willis. I wonder if he knows?

There was even the opportunity to get Charlie higher than he was on the sugar from the Churros. The ride below actually reads 'baby speed'. We didn't sample that one.

The old town was heaving with bars and people lining both sides of the river, crammed to bursting and then you turn a corner and there's a Basque choir singing. We sat for a quick drink and people-watching exercise and a pack of youth roamed through us, one of the boys with his trousers pulled below his bottom just to show us all what was what. What, I can tell you, is that apparently Basque boys suntan in the nude.

In many ways, the Basques remind me of the Welsh. I say 'in many ways' and not 'in all ways' here as I am not opening a discussion of Guernica, terrorists, separatists, devolution or borders. I am thinking of only a few things. The Basques, as the Welsh, are keeping an old language very active in a country which otherwise would not care. They have a great history of song and seem on evidence happy to break into it (although the lively bar we passed full of people dancing to 'The Ketchup Song' prove the exception here) and they both have a vibrant animal totem - the Welsh Dragon vs the Basque Bull.

Some of my favourite people are Welsh or of Welsh extraction but I can't say the same for the Basques as yet as I don't know any. While the Frog was born here in the Basque region, his family are from another area close by. This means that the most Basque thing in our household is currently lurking in my lingerie drawer as a memory of a bygone age when perhaps I may have been tempted to spend 4 days roaming around a fete with a boy and his tanned bottom.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Viva Espagna

Yesterday we popped across the border to Spain for a spot of tapas which made me feel suddenly very European and glamorous, until I took a good look at myself with my hair everywhere and the spud slapping me around with his droolly mitts, re-awakening old yoghurt stains on my shoulders. Once I forgot myself however it was a lovely day. We very nearly didn't go, however. When the frog's smashing Parisian cousin rang to ask if we'd like to meet him and his partner and his parents for tapas in the evening, the Frog originally turned him down on the basis that tapas bars in Spain don't really open until about 9pm and by that time the Spud would have been in bed for at least an hour (ahem). 'Who was that' I asked as the phone went down and about two minutes later the frog had to pick it up again to accept the invitation, I having decided that we could feed the spud his dinner, change him and put him to sleep in his stroller, then eat a relaxed tapas meal while he slumbered peacefully beside us.

It's not as farfetched as it seems, we've done something very similar before and he slept like an angel while we carried on at a wedding. We were, however, at a nice quiet vineyard in the middle of nowhere where-as last night we were in the middle of a Basque town full of people and with its own marching percussion band. Resultantly the spud was awake shaking his maracca to the band until 10:30 which made me feel awful until I noted that all around us were smiling French and Spanish infants sitting with their parents stuffing down tapas and icecream and enjoying the evening - even until midnight. I realised what I truthfully knew already which is that the bedtime we enforce on the spud is not some sort of Universal Constant.

Here are some of the things I saw yesterday:

While floating gloriously in the sea a few yards from the shore, my husband and our tiny son playing at the edge of the surf, the spud happily slapping the waves and holding up rocks and shells to his Dad who patiently got a sandy bum while following him around and sitting beside him to show him things.

A man so blackly tanned he looked featureless and somehow spongy like a prune. His trunk-line clearly displaying that here, once, was a white man while the rest of him lay rigidly accepting the sun as if he could possibly get any darker.

A dreadlock mullet!! I thought part of the point of dreadlocks (apart from their religious significance) was not having to cut one's hair however this dodgy looking white boy clearly thought differently. I wish I had had my camera because this is one thing that the imagination can only hint at.

A shoal of fat grey fish waiting patiently at the boat dock for someone to throw them bread-crumbs like sleek underwater ducks.

A family crossing the road after midnight, their two year old son waving to us happily while his older sister stifled a yawn.

The spud sleeping. Finally.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Brown-hand Luke

You've probably heard of the 'farmer's tan', where one is tanned in the shape of one's t-shirt... well, the spud has a 'baby tan' in which the entire body, which is always covered in factor 50 and a layer of clothes, is as white as paper however the hands, slobbered on enough to remove sunscreen in 5 minutes, are brown. For proof of this, see very cute picture abovenof the spud happily wearing my hat. (I realise this picture is possibly only cute to members of the spud's family but there you have it, Motherhood for you).

I would hereby like to rescind the remarks I made a while ago about never being able to relax on the beach as long as the spud is a baby. Today, he played happily in the sand (without eating any) under the shade umbrella for hours. I mean it - he was happy for hours. We also took him for a paddle in the sea which he enjoyed very much, thank you. Amazing. I read half a book and the only worrisome moment was when he decided he was going to eat a whole peach from scratch and about 3/4 of the way through decided that a whole peach all to himself was clearly selfish particularly since Mummy was just lying there looking at that paper stuff and obviously needed sustenance. Once this bizarre thought had formed in his word-free head he was totally fixated and spent several minutes thrusting a cold, sticky, mainly-eaten peach into the vicinity of my mouth, getting it all over my book, my face, my arms and, confusingly, my back, necessitating a new visit to the waves.

I have discovered an excellent way to absorb a baby's attention for a considerable period of time. First, dig a hole in the sand about a foot deep and say 9 inches around. Your baby, should it be old enough, will be fascinated by this and will love packing down the sand which comes out of the hole and trying to toss it back in. Then, when your hole is done, stand the baby in it and read your book while it spends a glorious 15 minutes pulling sand into the hole and treading it down until the hole is shallow enough to crawl out of. Next, spend 15 more minutes washing the sand off the baby. Start again.

Time for bed here. Praying for a long night out of the spud who has taken to waking several times before dawn. Hopefully the sun and sand experience will help him snooze - if not that, then the three sips of normandy cider his grandparents encouraged him to take this evening might just do the trick...