Allotment Adventures: We did nothing

We had plans for Saturday but it was raining and I felt ill and so we did nothing. I went round with compost and coffee and to have a quick look but that was it!

The borage is still in flower and I have tulips and snowdrops making their way up. No sign of the garlic or the broad beans though

One of the rhubarbs is also trying to pop up too….It’s all a bit autumn-ish and bedraggled and in dire need of weeding…The lavender is still alive though..

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Given the fuss we make about birthdays, I have been asked several times whether Ben and I are throwing a party for Ma’s 70th. We are not. I did ask her but she didn’t what one, she wanted to go to lunch at Hawksmoor with the adults of the family (Ben, Laura and me) so that’s what we are doing.

I could write lots of lovely things about Ma here (and as she reads this, she will be asking why the hell I’m not doing that!) but some things are not for sharing or become tired with repetition. What doesn’t become tired is how lucky we are to have her and her unapologetic cruel bracing and supportive parenting style (family in joke, can you guess which of us thinks which?)

Ma has never been and isn’t now a perfect parent, but she is the best parent for us. She’s never stopped caring and supporting us as much as she can while being very clear that she expects us to get on with it because that is what her children do.

Ben is still the only grown man I know that speaks to his mum a couple of times a week and I speak to her almost every day. The irony is that Ma has never been a the kind of parent that keeps us close, she never makes a fuss about us missing Christmas or birthdays or Mother’s Day, she just celebrates with us at another time. There is no passive aggressive guilting in our family. If we do something she doesn’t like we know about it and then we move on and vice versa. She hates sulkers.


She opened whole worlds to us when we were little, she used to take us around London because she wanted to show us the things she loved, she encouraged us to go away on PGL holidays and summer camps and times with our aunt. There were the books she bought us (ok I am more of a bookworm than Ben) and she taught us to find out things for ourselves. My grandmother died when Ma was 14, so to a certain extent, she didn’t have a model for being the mother of teenagers or adults. The same applied to being a mother-in-law because she didn’t have one of those either, I don’t know what it’s like marrying into our family but I know that Ma loves Laura loads and possibly more than she loves Ben and me!

Grandma is the other role she’s sort of making up, she does babysitting, not childcare (which is my job) Oli went through a phase of getting Grandma to chase him when he was little and she was his first choice in the ‘rescue’ game. The boys think of her as a very useful playmate, Oli and Ma like to play board games and eat sweets together. It’s lovely because Ol has just got to that really interesting phase that Ma really enjoys.  J tells me off if I call her Ma and not Grandma and likes to take her water bottle away because it’s big and blue and therefore should be his!

We are the family, in the way we are because of Mum. The older I get the more I realise what an achievement that is…

Happy birthday Ma, to quote your grandson, only “30 years away from 100”….


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Monday Miscellany: Emotional

Not going to lie, last week was tough. The last week of November is tricky for me generally as the SAD kicks in, it was Stef’s anniversary on Thursday (14 years later, it doesn’t pack the same emotional punch as it did but it’s still not my favourite day of the year). In addition, I had raging PMT, went to a funeral, found out a trip to the Southampton office was cancelled because of train problems (is there anything more sucky than being up hours before you normally are and discovering that you didn’t have to be awake?), there was also a doctor’s visit, an allotment work day, babysitting and a couple of work things that were testing my patience.All that to say that I got through it without too much crying and no losing my temper, which I consider to be a tiny miracle and I’ll take them where I can find them. We are now out of November and into December, nearly halfway through winter. I have changed all the music on my phone to Christmas music. I did this for the first time in 2016, after reading this and while I don’t take it to those extremes, it was very useful in helping me cheer the hell up. I did it again last year and boom, a new tradition is born….

Although I sanction Christmas music all through December, the tree and decorations won’t go up until Christmas Eve, it is still Advent (I have two calendars this year) and can’t be Christmas until after Ma has her birthday which is tomorrow. As it family tradition, I have a good chunk, well three days off work to help her celebrate.

So my plans for this week are to celebrate Ma’s birthday, work as little as possible and celebrate Jane’s birthday and have my haircut on Friday. Other than that it’s Grace on Saturday and maybe a walk with Sarah and Fred.


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Sunday Music: O Come, O Come Emmanuel

So it’s the first Sunday of Advent.

So music this week is all about advent everything else in December will probably by about Christmas.

I haven’t heard this version before sung before and have always sung “Rejoice! rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel”

This turns that on it’s head. “Rejoice! Rejoice! O Israel, to thee shall come Emmanuel

Emmanuel means ‘God with us’, both versions work. However the phrasing of both put God in a slightly different spot. the one I grew up with is “Rejoice! God shall come to you, Israel’ and this version is “Rejoice Israel, to you will come God”

The first one makes it seem more about you, this one, makes Christmas more precarious…

The Creator, who gave up the power of knowing in the free will He gave us.  He gave up control, and all He can do is Love and Hope that we will do the right thing. Advent, for Christians is a season of waiting and hoping, but not just for us. God is spending this time hoping for us too. God is hoping that a child born in a stable will change us, will turn us away from ourselves and towards each other.

At the beginning of Advent, I pray that I’ll be ready for the change that God in my life, Emmanuel, we bring. That I’ll be worthy of that gift…

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Friday Links: Brexit and other disasters

Happy Friday! 

This week I have not been following the news much (it’s all Brexit shenanigans here and I’ve been tired and distracting myself with puzzles. Here’s what I’ve cobbled together!

No lie, Knickers the big cow is actually quite large

30,000 empty homes and nowhere to live: inside Dublin’s housing crisis

Harry Leslie Smith obituary. Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory

Bloodthirsty, Thrilling, and Desperate: An ode to Uno Oh yes, especially when you’re playing with ‘ the fastest animal in the jungle’ the cheaters known as my brother and his wife…

Our 11-Year-Old Neighbor Is Mean—but She Also Needs Our Help. While I don’t always agree with all of the advice, the first two absolutely hit it out of the park in terms of how we should handle behaviour in children. Just so good…

This for dealing with difficult behaviour in children that aren’t ours

the thing that has become the most obvious to me is that every kid, no matter who they are or how badly they’ve behaved, truly deserves someone to who expects good things from them.

And this for how we handle children prone to tantrums

My big “don’t” is: Don’t take his emotional breakdown too seriously. He responds to noncrisis situations with crisis-size emotions, and that’s very stressful for people who love him. But you can’t go down Crisis Boulevard with him every time. He needs an adult to remain an adult while he’s falling apart. When he’s really suffering you can simply say, “I can see that you’re really upset by the situation, and that makes sense because things didn’t go the way you wanted them to. But let me know once you’re done crying it out and we can continue.” Then you can hug him, let him know that you love him, and let him go. It’s OK to take space, it’s OK to not to match his intensity, and it’s OK to not be able to fix it for him.

‘White supremacy’ is really about ‘white degeneracy’ I’m not sure about this, to be honest I have pondered why the people who vote this way do, they surely can’t think that the politicians they follow care about them? But it’s worth reading and thinking about a bit more. Also this is the best description of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage I’ve read

Degeneracy is not confined to the openly racist far right – it is a theme that runs through the populist right more generally, even when racism is absent or not emphasised. One of the key features of the populist wave is a certain proud incompetence. There are of course still competent rightwing populists around, but it is frequently the likes of Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage or Matteo Salvini who prevail. They are uninterested and incapable of conducting policymaking and government in a systematic, productive way. They make a virtue of their lack of understanding; they cause chaos and delight in destruction

The lesson from this missionary’s death? Leave the Sentinelese alone I read about this last week and was pretty horrified. Not by the ‘missionary’ being killed but by his attitude. ‘Satan’s last stronghold’. Grow up. Honestly, I’m not keen on this sort of missionary or honestly, missionaries generally. As a Christian, I’m happy to talk about my faith and what I believe if that and the example of how I live, inspires someone to seek Christ, good but you don’t make converts by badgering them or feeding them, not good ones anyway. You help people in need because it’s the right thing to do, not to get them to Jesus. These people don’t need saving, but that ‘missionary’ wasn’t’ about serving God but he doing it for his glory, which is another thing that makes for bad converts.


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Monday Miscellany: Busy, gloomy and tired

Happy Monday people!

It’s the last week of November, for which I’m profoundly grateful. It’s dark and gloomy and I know there are several month long, dark months of winter left but I’m always glad to see the back of this one!

Last week, my quiz team came second in the work quiz, Oli turned nine, I spent time with Sarah on Friday night and Mike and Christelle on Saturday. It was a good week.

This week is a final push through until I get some time off in the first week of December, for Ma’s birthday. So it’s all going to be about work or sleep!

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Sunday Music: Nathaniel Ratecliffe – A Little Honey

It’s the 25  November and for the last couple of weeks November has been weighing on me and I know why

Day to day the hardest thing is the things I can’t share. I could listen to this all day, I play the hell out of it but it’s beyond what I can share.

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