Saturday, May 31, 2008

Farming around

I can’t quite believe it’s been this long since my last post – hello hello, anybody out here? Anyway, so we are back from Devon with a much improved little potato.

During the first few days he only wanted to play in the car… I know, but he’s a city boy and he’s never allowed to play in the car because it’s parked in the street. In Brixton. Anyway so there he sat there for hours on end making ‘brmm’ noises, yanking on the steering wheel and honking the milk right out of the cows. This changed however which is a Good Thing for the interior of our car which was getting a tad on the sticky side...

Our cousins nearby also have a small farm as well as a very, very Big Dog who thinks she’s a small child. She therefore absolutely loves ‘other’ small children and the sight of this massive Alsatian nosing playfully around my son would have warmed my heart if it hadn’t already been in my mouth getting gnawed around the edges. He thought she was the best thing ever needless to say and after that he gave up on the car and was all about the animals. We would turn around and he would be gone, to be found five seconds later pushing bits of hay through the barn gate at some frankly terrified calves, or standing fearfully as a giant piglet leapt up at him to snort hopefully in his direction.

I think he liked it – most of all I think he liked the sense of freedom which allowed him to run heedlessly away across a field without me following him or swooping him up to drag him back. I don’t think he could believe it to be honest.

Since we’ve been back he’s been a lot more independent. He’s more comfortable playing on his own, he runs less like he’s about to fall over and when he does, he gets back up without much in the way of histrionics. He walks more and the other day he picked up his reins, walked with me to the park, played for a while and then decided all by himself that it was time to leave and we walked happily home together without any of the usual arguments.

So, a week in the country. A Good Thing. Now can someone detail my car, please?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


This is a very quick illegal post from the depths of a Devon farm... luckily enough we have lovely cousins near to the cottage who have a wifi connection and under the pretense of setting up the laptop for Mum to send some emails I thought I'd put together a quick post.

Not quite the trip we were planning, we ate something very dodgy at a restaurant on the way down and contracted food poisoning which put us under for two days... the spud didn't share in the veggieburger joy and so has been full of beans, not perhaps what one needs when one is ill but at least he was full of beans and not losing them from both ends...

Today has dawned sunny and warm and gastric-upset free and we are resting as much as possible and trying to contact our loved ones to let them know we are still alive and well - with no reliable phone signal here either we've been rather incommunicado. Well, we can get a reliable phone signal but you have to leave the cottage and go and stand by the cow pasture which when one is still in one's pajamas and running a fever is not the greatest option in the world.

Here we are though and today is lovely. We went to a local farmers market and I was suddenly catapaulted back to my childhood - nothing it seems has changed about Devon farmers markets in the last 30 years. The effect was exacerbated by the bookstall, filled with old Enid Blyton books, Paddington bear, Whiskey Galore and various moth-eaten old tomes which haven't seen the light of day for many a year... the sudden intrusion of the South Beach Diet alerted me to the fact that I am in fact over 40 and where is my son again?

Anyway, time to run so that Mum can send some emails and I can go and introduce the spud to the horses. He can reliably say the word 'Cow' now, something which is bound to be very useful up in London.

Hey ho.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A few more things we've learned...

We're off tomorrow, the spud and I and my Mum, who is currently somewhere over the Atlantic trying to cram her 6 foot long legs under the seat in front of her... they ought to make her check those babies in as extra baggage or at least buy them their own aisle. I pick her up in a few hours and tomorrow we drive down to Devon to a little cottage on a farm somewhere near the edge of Dartmoor, leaving the Frog and Sammy to luxuriate in a Spud-free week. No little bear to wreck the stereo or pat an old boy a little too hard on his fuzzy head... or torment the cat at that... I reckon that by the time we get back they'll have changed the locks and be ensconced in front of the telly with a pile of seafood pizzas, happily shedding into the sofa together.

Sammy has recently had some sort of a rejuvenation it seems... just as he was beginning to worry us by sleeping too much and being a little vague he has perked up, packed on another pound and started begging for food, food, more food and the chance to lie on our chests blocking any chance we have of reading a book in bed.

The spud meantime continues as usual however with a few embellishments. One of his favourite things to eat is peas. Take a few out of the freezer, thaw them and put them into a snack pot and he will happily wander around munching them down like sweeties. I have been fondly holding on to the notion that I have a little health nut on my hands however recent events have indicated that peas must swifly come off the menu. Yesterday while pottering about in the kitchen as the spud sat happily forking up fish fingers and fingering up peas, I heard him sneeze. Several times. The Mums among you may have worked this one out already. After a few more hearty sneezes I turned around to see him with a finger up his nose and before I had any time at all to formulate thoughts about what he was doing he sneezed again. And a pea flew out of his nose. And then another one.

I went trundling over to him just as he was shoving another one up there at top speed. I bent his head back gently and there, lurking up his nostril was pea number three, stuck beyond finger reach. A swift go around his face with a damp cloth a gentle administration of mouth-to-mouth and I was rewarded by a snotty pea hitting me in the cheek. Just what I always wanted.

Peas, the snuff of the legume kingdom. Who knew?

Clementines are also good spud-quieters and today he thrilled me to bits by peeling one while standing in front of the open bin throwing away the peel. He also picked up a cloth and started wiping down the table and is obsessing over the broom so this is my second lesson for the week; that while he may not be speaking or particularly solid on his feet, my little darling has all the makings of a certifiable neat-freak.


Later: Mum is here and everyone is asleep so I am heading to bed. Tomorrow the two elder statesmen of the house will breathe joint sighs of relief as I, my Mum, and the Spud, who is a match for both of us put together, head off to the West Country where my brother and I grew up.

Ted Hughes once said (or something like it) 'when you cross the Avon, you're leaving England' and while we may not be taking passports, I believe I may have to leave my sanity at the border.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

lessons learned

It's our last night in Biarritz and we're learned a lot this trip. Mainly, we've learned that we need to have big toys over here to take with us when we go out, or the spud will see someone else's toys and we get this:

(* "Calvin & Hobbes" is copywright Bill Watterson and Universal Press Syndicate, view the whole archive here.)

We have also learned not to forget the buggy when it's his nap-time or he wakes up early and we get this:

...especially in restaurants who don't bring toddlers' food out with the starters

That's not all we learned. We, that is the spud, spent time with our French cousins and all of a sudden came out with 'Non', which is actually pronounced 'nonononononono'. Over and over and over. Whenever something unacceptable is placed in front of one as an option. Such as breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. Or anything that doesn't involve ice-cream. Or a croissant.

The Frog and I are very fair when it comes to sleep-ins. We take turns listening out for the spud at night and we take turns getting up with him in the morning, meaning that one or another of us is often to be found in bed around the 9am mark which is heaven.

Yesterday morning it was my turn to sleep in however this was interupted by a small, fast-moving root vegetable who (now he is tall enough to reach the door handles in the French pad, curses) came powering into the room, slapped both hands on the bed in front of my nose and started bouncing up and down on his feet at top speed, whispering loving titbits into his Mummy's ears at the top of his lungs. His hair was practically on end. As the frog entered to remove him I asked what he'd had for breakfast. The frog came all over sheepish and admitted that the spud had been stealing croissant and then... dipping it into the frog's coffee. And eating it.

Can you imagine? Funnily enough, not more than three hours later the spud was having screaming arching tantrums in the restaurant. Now, I wonder what could have happened to cause that? ***cough *** cough *** coffee *** cough ***

'Come on spud, we've walked around this square five times in the rain, let's go back to the restaurant'... 'NONONONONONO'

Finally, we learned that the spud, who has always been a daring sort of a bod, has worked out all of a sudden how to climb things. I mean, really climb them.

Firstly, he managed to climb this (please turn your head sideways for this one, I dozily had my phone the wrong way up):

Which makes it absolutely no surprise that he has now managed to climb out of this:

I know that I keep saying this... but life as we know it must surely be ending.

Over and out.


Sunday, May 04, 2008

and the boy snored on...

Today we managed to paint the kitchen, including taking down all the stuff in the room, painting and putting it all back - while the spud napped. No, it wasn't a long nap. We just have a small kitchen.

Nothing much is happening of bloggable note at the moment and that's largely because I've been outrageously busy for the last two months with another month of events taking me away from my comfortable couch. Luckily for the most part they are not keeping me away from my little potato though as most of them involve holidays. I know, lucky me, however really I need to work and this isn't doing a lot for my bank account. I guess love matters more than money though and the spud certainly has lots of love at the end of his pudgy little fingertips.

Anyway today was not an abnormality: - an awful lot of work gets done here while the spud sleeps on a regular basis. He's still taking blissful 2 hour naps in the afternoon and on the days that he's here with me I am becoming adept at timing things to fit into that 2 hour gap. The trouble comes when he wakes a little early and I'm on the phone to a client or having a nap cleaning the house - nothing says 'unprofessional' like the sound of him wailing that he's been cast alone into the void with nothing but Tigger for company. For the most part however he's a safe bet and today was the perfect example. It's a bit like Changing Rooms if anyone remembers that (and what HAS happened to Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen anyway?): two hours to take a room apart, paint it and put it back together. It wouldn't work with any room larger than a cupboard which luckily includes most of the rooms in our flat.

This all started because I flooded the bathroom last week, coming home exhausted, running a bath and forgetting about it. The frog has been very un-froggily forgiving about this, particularly considering that it was such a bad flood that I have curled some of the flooring and caused damp so bad that five inches up, the plaster is leaking salts and all the paint has come off in the bathroom... and in the bedroom... oh, it's bad.

Anyway, when we moved into this place the builders had painted it all in a really impossible-to-match neutral. Years of trying to find a match has left our cellar full of match pots and our walls a peculiarly mottled colour in places where marks have been painted out in the wrong colour. So this weekend while picking a new bathroom colour, the frog managed miraculously to pick the exact right match. With the bathroom plaster still too wet to paint we decided to start on the kitchen and, since the spud was asleep, we figured he would be safe from wet paint problems.

Not so.

The frog, so excited to have finally found the matching paint, spent the rest of the afternoon hunting around the flat brandishing a loaded paintbrush and panting gently with excitement. He painted in the hall, he painted in the livingroom, he painted wall by the changing table as I was approaching it with a dripping-wet spud, he painted the bedroom at spud-level and generally loaded up the place with impossible-to-see wet paint. Resultantly, the spud entered his bath with a full complement of neutral paint on his hands, face, hair and clothes.

Next time I think we'll just get started on the painting without waiting for the spud to nap. Maybe we could just dip him in the paint and rub him directly on the walls, thus cutting out all that brushing.