I am BESIDE MYSELF with excitement! I have completed not one but TWO projects in the past week. This is unprecedented for me. I am not a completer-finisher, more a do-half-a-job-then-give-up-er but I have excelled myself this week. I started a crocheted cushion for India’s room way back when but typically got bored of it and pushed it aside with barely 4″ left to go. However, thanks to a genius friend and her inspired online Crochet Camp*, I picked it up again and got it all sewn up in record time.

The second project took a mere 2 days from start to finish and I reckon with a bit more focus and less facebooking whilst watching really BAD movies, I could knock one up in a night. It’s a cushion cover made from an old travel rug stiched together with blanket stitch. Easy peasy and there’s a mountain of old blankets here crying out to be upcycled. 20130818-210748.jpgI’m already imagining a cushion cover empire which comfortably funds the leaky roof and a nanny for each child. Back in the real world however, I predict enthusiasm will become boredom which will lead quickly to resentment and I’ll be surrounded by half finished,hacked up old blankets whose hopes of a new life have been cruelly dashed by my apathy. My husband calls me half-a-job-Roberts (not really that affectionately TBH) and my wee sister is quick to remind me that I haven’t even completed a third trimester (first baby was prem, second was very prompt). I’m nothing if not consistent.

*Crochet Camp is a Facebook group set up by Kat
to teach beginners and support more experienced hookers (yes, yes, get over it). It was meant to be temporary but myself and the 1,135 other members are going to keep it going as it is a wonderful place to show off projects, plea for help and get fabulous ideas. I’m sure this is what Tim Berners Lee wanted to the Internet to be. It’s the antithesis to all the ghastly trolling and hideous threats that seem to be common place now. Hang out in Crochet Camp and feel the love!

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The end of summer

20130812-083536.jpgHow quickly things change. I’ve gone from shorts and flip flops to wellies and a gillet* in just a few days. There is a definite nip in the air and the trees clinging on to their leaves but only just. The sea is slightly less inviting although I braved a dip at the weekend with a visiting cousin and it was devine. Not for much longer though. Autumn is upon us and I’m secretly delighted. I’ve always been a fan. I love the smells and the colours and the freshness and cosying in and extra layers and even the shortening days. I don’t doubt I’ll be pissed off with the relentless wind and rain and mud and cabin fever but hopefully I’ve banked enough sunny memories to see me through til Christmas.

Other changes are afoot too. Zoe starts nursery on Thursday which for some reason feels like a massive deal, even though she was going to nursery 3 full days a week in the olden days when I was working. Maybe because it’s at the school and she’ll wear a sort of uniform. It all seems very grown up. 60% (3 kids!!!) of her class go to playgroup twice a week with her so hopefully it won’t be too scary and new. It begs the question though, what on EARTH will I do with the other one for 2.5 hours a day? Who will she fight play with? I’d really love a promotion from Laundry Assistant to Marketing and Communications Director** but I don’t think that’s possible even with just one wee chap running about, seeking danger. I can’t help but wonder, how DO people work from home when they have kids? Oh, wait, I’ll ask Niall…ah, apparently it’s hellishly stressful and nigh on impossible. He really needs an office that isn’t in the dining room. This castle is just too damn small***.

*it was my token ‘rural’ purchase. I thought I’d look the part, mincing about the castle grounds in it. I was wrong. The online photo cleverly played down the lurid orange colour. I look like a survivor from The Posidon Adventure.
**I don’t know what that is but it sounds good
***That is a joke FYI

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Getting Involved

20130805-082538.jpgWeekends are pretty hectic at Torrisdale. Saturday is usually change-over day for the holiday cottages and a minute after kick-out time (10am) an army of over-60s, headed by my MiL, descend on the houses to remove all trace of the previous occupants. It’s like Kim and Aggie meets Dad’s Army Wives meets CSI. I am not yet involved in the cleaning but I like to think I’m doing my bit with the laundry. The NASA style washing machine and dryer are housed in our bathroom so it’s a case of chipping away at the gargantuan mound of washing piled up outside until all that’s left is the gargantuan pile of family laundry. Very occasionally I catch myself thinking, Lady Mary (Downton) would never have to do THIS*. And then I remember we’re not living in a ropey early 20th century period-pain drama. Phew.

Another task I’m enjoying is the meeting and greeting of guests. I do love a chat with a total stranger** and have met some really lovely people. We get a lot of repeat bookings so faces become very familiar. It’s wonderful to see people falling in love with the place. I do need to up my game on the history though. I’ve found myself making up nonsense when asked, perfectly reasonably, who built it and lived in it in The Olden Days. I think I should probably stop spewing forth a thinly disguised Downton Abbey plot. Apart from anything else, it just sounds so implausible…

*Another random thought I have frequently occurs when trying to change an explosive nappy on a wriggling toddler. I can’t help but wonder, does Victoia Beckham ever get poo on her hands and then forget to wash before preparing dinner and then remembers halfway through her mince and tatties….
**I can’t pretend anymore. I’m turning into my mother.

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A Visitor!

We had a visitor from civilisation this weekend and it was fabulous. My lovely sister came to stay for a few days and the good weather held which was a huge relief. I have the fear that if people find the journey too awful and are greeted with horrendous weather, they won’t come back and we’ll never see anyone again except on Skype.
20130728-205024.jpgWaving her off was really hard though. I miss her so much, as do the girls. We had to endure a good twenty minutes of Zoe crying out for AUNTIE YA YA when she woke up in her usual post-nap maelstrom. What IS that? If I was allowed an afternoon kip I might be a bit less Sharon Osbourne and a lot more Fräulein Maria.

In an attempt to counter my misery I dragged everyone out on walk up the glen. It actually worked. Zoe stopped screaming for Ya Ya, Niall stopped screaming at Zoe and I stopped screaming at Niall. India continued to scream intermittently for no reason but it was bearable in the sunshine. We popped on on some neighbours and then another neighbour on the way home and while we were there our WWOOFERs joined us and then another couple who live in the village just happened to be passing and stopped for a cuppa. I totally forgot to be miserable about living a million miles away from people I love and was reminded that there are very lovely people all around us. Blessings were duly counted.

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Aga Saga

This weeks burnt offerings:

1. Bacon
2. Roast veg
3. Flap jacks
4. My arm
5. Zoë’s hand

The honeymoon is over. It’s basically a crematorium for food and a self-harming device for anyone standing within 2 feet of it. You can’t smell ANYTHING! what is the point of THAT? That is my preferred method of timing food. Especially baking. Stupid Swedish über-stylish form-over-function oil guzzling child burning cake ruining piece of shit. AND it can’t even boil eggs very well. AND the kids can’t stand precariously on a chair stirring beans anymore. Not since the Zoë’s hand incident. So over it. Meanwhile, downstairs, my MiL is bemoaning her brand new, über efficient, mutts nuts, FIVE ring electric cooker. I would swap in a heartbeat if it didn’t require a team of (Swedish) bomb disposal experts and a chinook to move the Aga.

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Joke’s over….

It was very strange coming back here after our holiday instead of the old place. For the first time I’ve thought ok, it’s been great but can we go home now please? It’s not that I don’t love it here, just that I MISS MY MUM! And dad and sister and friends and Tesco delivery and an emergency wine option and mobile reception and going to work (no, really).
I’m handling this downer really well though by being stroppy and bad-tempered to everyone. Which is nice.

Things took a turn for the better this morning when I accidentally had a cup of normal tea after a day of herbal muck yesterday. I immediately felt amazing! And the dull headache I woke up with went instantly. Clearly I am a caffeine addict! Hooray. I thought I was just mental. I’ll choose my detox weeksdays more wisely next time. (Never).

I’ve also given myself a new project which is making me feel more human and less like a deranged mother tiger. The reality of being a stay at-home-mum has also sunk in this week as I’ve struggled to cope with the bickering and screaming. Three minutes of calm, happy play is all I can hope for before piercing screams destroy the peace and I am forced to intervene with my own piercing screams. I need to revisit Bhuddism for Mothers*.

Anyway, the project is to clear out the playroom and turn it into a family room. It’s a lovely bright room and has so much potential but is rammed to the gunnels with four generations worth of trash I mean treasure I mean trash…
It’s a thin line.


And also a political nightmare when it’s not your stuff but I like to think I was ruthless yet diplomatic. Survivors include all the 1950s and 60s children’s books and toys (even the creepy ones) but sadly my brother-in-law’s Thundercats(tm) lampshades are off to the tip.

* I say revisit, I didn’t get beyond chapter 2. Highly recommend though!

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New things

There are lots of fabulous new things in my life at the moment. It goes with the territory of moving into a very old, well-established house.
In no particular order of my excitement upon acquisition…

#1 An Aga. Initially I was ever so slightly, WTF?? But I am growing to love this way of cooking. You basically shove whatever it is in the very hot oven and try not to forget about it. For slow cooking, and soup or stock, you shove it in the cooler oven and it doesn’t really matter if you forget about it. No preheating so it’s always good to go. The down side of this is that the kitchen is always a hundred degrees and it also costs a million pounds to run. May not be a keeper.

#2 A Kenwood mixer. LOVE this. I’ve always wanted one. This particular one belonged to my husband’s grandfather! Love that it’s got history. I tried it out by making mayonnaise with freshly collected eggs. Get me!

#3 Stairs. We lived in a bungalow before. I feel like Sherpa Tensing whenever I’m lugging a small child/washing basket/armful of random crap we’ve been tripping over, up stairs.

#4 Pulley. LOVE LOVE LOVE this! It’s above the Aga so everything dries in super quickly. Genius invention. No more airing our clean laundry in public.

20130611-075915.jpg#5 Olivia Ida Goodlet. My new niece! I am an auntie for the first time and super excited. She is GORGEOUS and perfect and her name is like a beautiful poem. She lives in New York but we will get to know her on Skype and will try to visit before she turns 15.

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Things I have learned this week

#1 I CAN pick up dog poo (with a spade!!) In the past, before I liked dogs*, I was utterly repulsed by the thought of dealing with their ‘business’ and secretly revolted by responsible owners who had no qualms with picking up warm doodoo with a thin plastic bag. I even refused to pick up after my granny’s fat King Charles and felt no shame as granny wobbled precariously on her walking stick, bag in hand, struggling to bend far enough to reach her steaming target. Maybe it’s the sea air or I’ve just gone all country but I love my daily turd-spot and clean-up of the lawn. The kids enjoy the spotting bit too. Family fun!

#2 I am nicer person after a swim in the sea. I am getting in to a wonderful routine down here of going for a dip a around 6pm. On a scale of one to batshit mental, I’m usually up there by this time of day but after a plunge in the icy water and a few strokes round the bay, I feel like the Dalai Lama.

20130607-073512.jpg#3 I am not a dry husk! I cried like a baby when I came across a gorgeous picture of me and my three oldest and dearest friends whilst unpacking to the version of Auld Lang Syne from Sex and the City when Miranda is alone at New Year and Carrie goes out in the snow and catches a subway and walks and walks to get to her. I would so do that for each and every one of them. Except it would be a ferry. And it doesn’t run in winter…..

#4 Home is where the box of random items that have no place and you’ve forgotten their original function or where they came from or how long they’ve been hanging around but you can’t face throwing any of them out because they might hold the key to survival one day, is.

*total 360. Love doggies now! Want a puppy NOW. I am auntie to a chocolate lab in NY and very keen to give him cousins. It seems rude not to have one here.

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So it’s not a bad place to live! It’s helped that the sun has shone since we arrived. The kids have gone feral already and haven’t worn shoes for three days. I think I’ve washed once. Meh, it’s the country. Who cares?
The unpacking will be gradual but that’s ok. It’s made me wonder, what do you really need day-to-day except for sunshine and WiFi? I suspect there is a dose of mental in the post though. I had an internal radge about missing my yogurt maker earlier before I gave myself a virtual face-slap and got a grip. I think that is what is classed as a First World Problem. Or just a Middle Class Twat problem.

Now all that’s needed is sleep. After a couple of crap nights while they ‘settled in’ ( they’re in THEIR OWN BEDS), the kids are now coughing like SARS patients and waking us up frequently. It prompted our first trip to the doctor’s surgery, “where everybody knows your name…” and your sordid history of STDs. Which is nice.

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