Friday 11 June 2010

You're toast

Breakfast is generally a fairly solemn....erm I mean sullen...affair.

The Boy's always been a grumpy old man first thing in the morning, and the rest of us keep a low profile just in case. The Cat doesn't really wake up until nine o'clock on school days...and at the weekend, will sleep until sunset given half a chance. On the other hand, The Cats Mother is up with the larks and making lists of things to do, folding the washing and harrumphing if we've left anything lying around. As I generally leave a lot lying around, I often start the day with a slap.

In the kitchen, The Cat's Mother reigns supreme. Except where it comes to important things...the gadgets.

The radio has been strategically placed on a high window ledge so she can't reach it and change the station. The Boy and I favour Q Radio or XFM, but she would happily listen to Radio 4 or Magic. They are wholly inappropriate.

There is also a very nice shiny toaster made by that fine British institution, Dualit. If you're not familiar with them, and let's face it if you've not just got married, why would you be? It has a clockwork timer that you turn to toast your bread. It's clearly marked and numbered, with a little notch to let you know the 'optimum' toasting's just beyond the number 2. When the Boy and I use it, we turn the dial to the notch and get perfect toast. Every time. The Cats Mother and The Cat, however, just turn the dial as far as they can. And get burnt toast every time. Sometimes this can be scraped, but is mostly put in the recycling bin. They greet the smoke and smell of burning with the yelps of the utmost surprise. Every time.

This prompts the Boy and I to roar loudly and tell them how to cook the toast. It's easy we say, just turn the dial to 2. You'll get perfect toast we say. Don't turn the dial any further.

They look at us as if we are daft. Don't be ridiculous, we like our toast more toasted than you.

But you always burn it we say incredulously. Very loudly. We may even shout.

We don't know why this upsets you so much they say.

Because it's so bleeding obvious we say.

Yes but why? They say.

Toast is easy to cook. You burn it everytime we say. Steam hissing out of our ears

And so it goes on.

The Boy and I are as one.

The Cat and The Cat's Mother are as one.

I think they do it just to upset us.

I don't think they like toast at all.

Wednesday 9 June 2010

Buzz, buzz, buzz went the bee

Wasps are a pain in summer aren't they?

As far as I know they have no worthwhile function other than to try and steal your jam and lemonade whilst having a picnic. When I was younger and crueler, and spending my summer working in the Bavarian Alps, we used to pour a few drops of beer on to the table whilst we ate our lunch and wait for the hornet-sized wasps to come and settle. We'd quickly turn our beer glasses over them, like a glass cage, and then throw a lighted cigarette in. They never lasted long, either burning themselves on the lit fag, or suffocating. With thirty years of hindsight I can see that this was cruel, nasty and sadistic. So I'd like to apologise to the Wasp God, and claim folly of youth.

Since then I've seen a friend who had a wasps nest on the side of his house decide that a good hit with a baseball bat was an excellent way to let them know they weren't welcome - they begged to disagree. And in Buckhurst Hill we had one in the hedge, so that every time I opened the car door, the wasps came out to see who was home. I asked them to leave nicely by spraying their nest with something I bought at Robert Dyas. They never spoke to me again.

Bees on the other hand are brilliant. Beautiful in a gawky kind of way, even they don't know how they fly, I'm told. The decline of the great honey bee has been much documented in recent years, so they are very precious creatures indeed.

On the side of the garage we have a bird box which has remained empty this year. We've been told that in 2010 this is a very common phenomenon. I'm hoping it's just that pesky Icelandic volcano which has kept the birds grounded in their summer habitats, but I'm affeared it may be worse.

Claiming squatters rights, we discovered this weekend, was a troupe of bees. They were big black and yellow and very buzzy when I went close. As I'm not one for bravado, we thought it best just to get the professionals in. The council suggested some beekeepers who came round in a jiffy...only marginally disappointed to find that these are Bumble Bees so don't produce honey...but good for pollinating. So as the bees dozed, the bird/bee box was sealed and taken away in the back of their car. They've promised to invite us round for a hog roast later in the year....and indeed sell us back the bird box. So we'll be able to see how our bees are fairing.

At the other end of the garden, we have a family of foxes. Mum and three has been brave enough to peer through the windows in the conservatory. I'd like to say how sweet and lovely they are, but foxes are getting very bad press this week, so I'll merely mention their existence in passing.

Monday 7 June 2010

"Hello I'm the Cat's Mum"

We all have our different reasons for writing a blog...some people have amazing writing talents, some share their humour and some just like writing about their kids. I started having been prompted by Nappy Valley Girl and started writing about what it was like to bring up my boy...I write professionally for a living, but have been quite determined to keep this as amateur as possible...hence the regular typos and poor grammar. I quickly had another couple of reasons - the boy's grandmother, my mum - Grandma in Cyprus lives in erm Cyprus, so it has become a good way of keeping in touch and letting her know what we've been up least I think that's why she never feels the need to ring any more! Of course, I vaguely remember now a conversation when she said she was moving there to get away from her family....but I'm sure she was joking. And secondly it's a bit of a diary so I don't forget all those precious moments we live through. But I have to be honest, over the last few months, Don't Panic. RTFM has studiously avoided a very big chunk of my life.

March last year, the boy was in the school's production of Macbeth which meant going along for two of the three nights it was performed. if I was truly dedicated, it would have been three...but I had to have some sort of a social life. It had been a slightly traumatic time getting there, and many tears were shed as the boy hadn't buckled down to learning his lines as he should. So as I sat in the audience, he looked at me nervously from the stage desperately trying to remember his words. He did, and played his part very well. I was very proud. Whilst loitering during the interval, someone came up to me and introduced herself: "Hello I'm the Cat's mum" she said, and we exchanged a few words about pocket money and kids wanting to spend their time in Costa Coffee.

Not so many weeks afterwards it was the school trip to Sorrento, and we met again. 5 o'clock in the morning as we waited for the tour bus to depart. I'm not so sure I was very sociable.

And then a couple of weeks later I dropped him round at The Cat's house for a party (her Dad's 50th - they were being picked up by limo and taken to his house). And I may have mentioned before, I was asked if I fancied meeting for a drink. By the Cat's mum. I did indeed drive away thinking this was quite funny. It's not that often I get asked out.

It took a couple of weeks for me to sort out the drinks...I wasn't playing it cool...I was just rubbish. Even losing her number. And her name. So eventually we went out for a drink. As friends. And did so a couple of weeks later. And so this pattern continued for a pretty long time. I had a laugh...lots of laughs in fact even as the summer rolled on. It was going no where, but it was quite fun...we shared a sense of humour and had lots of similar interests. But I was resolute in my singularity.

And then as the Autumn rolled round something changed. It would be hard to say what, although I can say precisely when (although I won't). And suddenly fortnightly or monthly meetings-up became more and more regular. We spent Christmas together.

So regular in fact that The Boy's and my house in Buckhurst Hill has been all but abandoned. Weeds are growing through the paved drive and the crazy-paving in the back yard, dust is gathering in the corners of the sitting room, there are cobwebs everywhere, the garden hedges have run riot and the food in the fridge is rotten.

So life has changed more than I could have imagined a year ago. And only for the good.

The challenge now is not so much how to bring the boy up, but how we both adapt to our new circumstances. It's been a magical time, and I think it will be for a very long time ahead.