Summer holiday

Usual mixture of excitement and pointless anxiety as make final preparations for start of annual family holiday tomorrow.   Fortunately, packing for fortnight abroad proves considerably less demanding than for two nights’ camping in England, and after filling own suitcase with too many books and not quite enough clothes, as usual, find I have plenty of time to check tickets, route-maps and passports – several times.  Dog despatched to kindly carer in nearby village, and house – despite presence of three children –  immediately feels rather empty.

Normal life and diary now suspended until last week in August, but will resume both in time for the Late Summer Horticultural Show.



Realise that have been very poor diarist recently; decide to blame unusually high levels of activity,  sociability and sunshine over recent days.

Friends, family and sunshine all now departed, so spend day doing various errands in readiness for fast-approaching family holiday. Head off to village library in search of suitable reading material, and find younger son’s six-year-old twin admirers giggling away and dressed, as usual, as though going to Royal Ball. Am invited to try out their Mythical Maze Summer Reading Challenge Fortune Teller and am quite unreasonably pleased to be told that I should become an author.

Turn off lights and watch First World War Vigil from Westminster Abbey; cope quite well until The Lark Ascending.






Great outdoors

Am currently luxuriating in Home Comforts after returning from surprisingly successful Family Camping Trip.

Outward journey very Hot and quickly abandon attempts to interest children in beauties and historic significance of passing countryside; but general mood improves after arrival in eccentric wooded campsite, and manage tent, fire and food in reasonable harmony.

Appear to have packed for expedition lasting several months, but trip in fact limited to two days and two nights; enjoy days  (spent exploring, talking and playing French cricket) rather more than nights (spent cursing inadequate sleeping mat and ever-alert dog), but am glad to have done it all and feel that we are now all in proper Holiday Mood.






Dog days

Hottest Day Of The Year So Far, and boys have all-day sports tournament at school; stern warnings about perils of over-exertion duly ignored as they set off in more than usually potent clouds of Lynx.

Take dog for early walk through hazy countryside, admiring butterflies and doing best not to notice already harvested fields and blackberries appearing in hedgerows – though am not entirely clear why own increasing sense of Time Slipping Away always seems so much more intense in summer.

Am getting vicariously excited about daughter’s approaching festival trip; have sorted out tickets, travel and tent, so she can devote day to much more challenging task of deciding What To Wear.


Thought for the morrow

Daughter is going on first solo trip to London tomorrow; am quite sure that she will cope perfectly well, but nonetheless find myself going repeatedly through itinerary, contacts and contingency plans as though briefing her for particularly dangerous undercover mission.

Have recently become Deputy Verger so am invited to evening wedding rehearsal in order to Learn The Ropes. Arrive early but find church already full of over-excited children and slightly anxious adults, all apparently from London; do best to Make Them Feel At Home and discuss church (lovely), village (lovely) and weather (currently foul but Definitely Better Tomorrow).  One tiny bridesmaid tells me proudly that she is Hyper and swiftly finds herself seated in corner with paper, pen and instructions to draw pictures of entire wedding party.

Rehearsal goes well, everyone eventually disperses, and Verger and I are just about to go home when The Musicians (also from London) arrive and ask if they can just have A Quick Run-Through. Verger replies that she has been there two hours and Has Not Yet Had Her Tea, and that Tom is about to have his organ lesson and then it will be Choir Practice; but eventually softens under singer’s relentless charm offensive, and we all enjoy five minutes of songs from Oklahoma while rain falls steadily outside.



Good sport

Have agreed to start forthcoming school holidays with Family Camping Trip.   Am aware that previous such trips have not always revealed finest aspects of self, but this year resolve to Throw Myself Into It, and spend some time in obsessive internet search for The Perfect Campsite. Find one which is a) not in a field b) available and c) criticised on TripAdvisor only for over-zealous enforcement of Noise Policy, and book it immediately.

Seem to spend rest of day in e-mail exchanges about Cricket Fun Day and Late Summer Horticultural Show; latter clashes with Football Fun Day, so am fortunately (for all concerned) excused participation in Parents’ 6-A-Side Tournament.

Evening, as usual, dominated by World Cup.





Idle thoughts of an idle mother

Weather still hot and sunny. Husband has taken daughter off for post-GCSE tour of England and relations, so am in sole charge of dog, tortoise and sons. End of term still some time away, but sons’ school days now seem to consist almost entirely of various sporting events, and even I have stopped worrying about homework.

Decide (for various reasons – some possibly honourable) that do not want to take part in new initiative at village nursery and steel myself to tell  kindly couple who are organising it; feel that this would be ideal occasion for cowardly and self-justifying e-mail or text, but couple even less technologically advanced than me, so have to make Old School telephone call. At least they do have an answerphone.

Vaguely consider various projects around house but manage to convince myself that it is a) not worth starting anything new before the summer holidays, and b) my duty to make the most of the weather before it Breaks. Spend happy afternoon communing with dog and tortoise in garden.


Social whirl

Off to college reunion dinner on Thursday. Am seated next to visiting American Professor of Classics; discuss sexuality in the ancient world (briefly) and cooking (in great depth). Meet various people from my Past, most of whom seem to look exactly the same as they did thirty years ago; eat, drink and talk far too much.

Am not perhaps At My Sparkling Best for Cricket Club Quiz Night back home on Friday night, but hastily-assembled team manage a respectable score – helped by excellent performance on Mr Men round.

Saturday brings a 70th birthday party and perfect English afternoon of marquees, bunting, salmon and Eton Mess. Feel full of general bonhomie and may quite possibly have agreed to help out with some new initiative at village nursery.

Quiet day today.



E for Effort

Am taking part in a book blogger’s Meme. Still not entirely sure what a Meme is (find Wikipedia entry on subject quite baffling and normally reliable children not much better), but feel should Try Something New  – and this particular exercise looks reassuringly like Victorian parlour game; participants have to list favourite book, author, song, film and object beginning with randomly assigned letter.  Decide that this will be ideal way of Using My Brain while doing Monday housework.

Am assigned E. Start off very confidently:

Favourite Book - Emma by Jane Austen. One of my very favourite books anyway, funny, warm and wise, with excellent cast of characters, including quite awful Mrs Elton and quite lovely Mr Knightley.

Favourite Author – E. Nesbit, E.M. Delafield and E.M. Forster all favourites, but suspect disallowed under Meme Rules so go for George Eliot. (Would undoubtedly have chosen Middlemarch as favourite novel if assigned M.)

Cannot then think of any song, film or object whatsoever beginning with E, but after some hoovering and laundry come up with:

Favourite SongEverybody’s Talkin’ , in version by Harry Nilsson; wistful, memorable and slightly unsettling.

Favourite Film –  am probably not allowed Emma again, though do like 1996 version with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam; so choose E.T.

Favourite Object – find this the hardest one of all. Have certain fondness for eggcups and espresso cups, but finally settle on Envelopes; always, still, hope that post will bring Something Exciting (unspecified).






Elder son’s school friend has part in village production of Journey’s End, so we go off together to Village Hall to watch final performance.  Son confides that friend popular with all the teachers because he does drama; discussion of son’s own popularity with teachers cut short, perhaps luckily, by Curtain Up.  Find play almost unbearably poignant;  friend plays keen young officer, very well, and am soon in predictable floods of tears.

Recognise younger son’s English teacher in audience, and introduce myself to him during interval. He looks at me, pauses, and remarks that son is very keen on cricket.

Cry even more in Acts 2 and 3, and am glad of lengthy ovation for chance to wipe smudged mascara before lights come back on.  Son also moved (though in rather more dignified fashion than me).  Walk home through the warm summer night and catch up on all the latest World Cup news.