Full House

Essential items for a weekend in the country
Essential items for a weekend in the country

We are bursting at the seams this weekend after the the staggered arrivals of every member of my immediate family, including the New York contingent with my brand new baby niece. I have been beside myself with excitement all week as well as stressed up to my eye balls planning meals, baking cakes and making beds. Hell, I even dusted.

There was a momentary panic mid-week when I realised I already had a 3 week old pineapple so that when my mother inevitably produced one from her selection of cool bags there would be two of the bloody things decomposing in the fruit bowl. Luckily it was a play group day so I hacked the thing to pieces, cleaned off the bloody bits (this is why I don’t buy pineapples – lethal things) and served it up to flabbergasted children who failed to hide their disgust. “WHERE ARE OUR TWATTING JAFFA CAKES????” they shrieked as we mums dodged pineapple missiles from behind our tea cups.

My parents duly arrived with enough Prossecco  to float the titanic (AND a pineapple, of course, plus seven avocados), followed a day later by my big sister, her gorgeous new fiancé and her fabulously sparkly new engagement ring that was wafted subtly in our faces at every opportunity. Tense negotiations were conducted in the drawing room regarding the wedding plans as bride and groom went head to head with the financial backers (mum and dad). Having been through this ourselves, my husband and I nervously paced the floor outside, waiting for raised voices, profanities and/or tears. Sadly there were none of the above and the date and venue were duely booked without even a mention of catastrophic landslides or fruit kebabs. (Don’t even ask.)

The U.S. faction arrived the following day and the family reunion was complete. It was wonderful to be together again and we had plenty to celebrate – the engagement, several birthdays and most importantly of all, the birth of beautiful baby Harper Hero who didn’t mind at all being passed from cooing aunties to doting granny as well as random unrelated inlaws and broody friends of mine.

This occurred
This occurred

They are ensconced in the holiday flat downstairs for a whole week which is fabulous. Lots of head-sniffing (of the baby) is occurring as well as blatant kidnapping of her older sister who loves spending time upstairs with her ‘big’ cousins. I have them all to myself as mum and dad departed earlier in the week (with the pineapple) as did my loved-up big sister, although her wedding continues to be the main topic of conversation.

After the successful negotiations with our parents, it looked as though her biggest issue would be keeping the peace between her ugly sisters as we fought over who will be chief bridesmaid. Luckily for her, after several hours in the outdoor sauna, interspersed with some ice-cold plunging, we were sufficiently bonded to call a truce and will be walking down the aisle as equals, although one will be a significantly shorter and fatter equal. My bad.

I’m trying not to focus on the tearful departure and being separated from my gorgeous nieces. It won’t be for long as the wedding of the decade will bring us back together again in a few months and in the meantime, there will be hours of Transatlantic FaceTime spent fighting over peach or purple taffeta dresses. Meringue anyone?

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We have had a whole fortnight of fabulous weather, way down here on our phallic peninsula. The trees are looking wonderfully leafy and the disease-carrying, non-native, invasive rhododendrons* are bursting into bloom all over the place, along with the more politically correct cherry blossom. Winter coats have been tentatively stored away and welly boots have been discarded in favour of pumps and flip-flops and, this being Scotland, also still welly boots.

Allie says it how it is

I seized upon the warmer temperatures to brave the sea for the first time this year. With a gang of sundry relatives, visiting pals and our Canadian WWOOFer, we trooped down to the beach, nicely glowing from an afternoon lounging in the sun and psyching (some of) ourselves up for a dip. It was much breezier by the sea, however, and I quietly hoped any ideas of stripping off and getting in would be swiftly abandoned. I hadn’t banked on our Canadian WWOOFer having a moment of crazy however, and suddenly she was knee deep, then properly submerged. The screams could be hear for miles around and I don’t mind admitting I was having second thoughts. However, with my sister for company (and life-saving skills), I waded in, took several deep breaths and dived under. It was wonderful. Chilly, bracing, so cold it was almost burning, but wonderful. They say it takes years off you, in which case I am turning 35 on Monday. So there.

There has been lots of this sort of thing

The weather has made such a difference to our New Zealand visitors as it’s so much easier to keep five children entertained when the sun is out. Activities have largely included throwing themselves down a grassy embankment, making dens in the bamboo and larking around in our brand new wood-fuelled hot tub. This is the stuff memories are made of and I think even two and a half year old India will always remember this visit. I can’t bear to think about their departure in just over a week but before that is the whole reason for their visit! My brother-in-law’s wedding is now imminent and the excitement is immeasurable. All that’s left to be done is a swift eye-brow pluck and the application of some industrial foundation, preferably with a trowel, in an attempt to disguise four years of no sleep. I also have to work out how to cram nappies, wipes, jelly babies, calpol, tissues and an emergency sick bowl into my elegant purple clutch. Whose idea was it to invite the children?

*apologies for the Daily Mail description but they really are bad news

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Forty Years Young

20140403-075636.jpgI am recovering from yet another blissful, child-free weekend spent in the company of fabulous women. The first of my primary schools chums hit the big ‘four-oh-no’ and bravely decided to embrace the ghastly milestone with a weekend away with 12 of her closest and daftest pals in a beautiful wooden cabin complete with hot tub.

What followed was a glorious celebration of all things ‘Lynda’ which we managed to arrange behind her back after weeks of secret collaborations over Facebook. New friendships have been forged (much to the annoyance of the birthday girl – she was never good at sharing) and old friendships have been rekindled as we pulled together a wonderful melange of all of her favourite things. These included, in no particular order of total amazingness, a birthday cake depicting the metamorphosis of frogs in fondant icing, a Lynda themed game of Family Fortunes complete with creepy Les Dennis mask and whap-whap*, Lynda bunting, a photo album rammed with memories and a personalised Guess Who? game made with pals old and new, sporting various disguises and interesting facial hair. Our gorgeous girl was chuffed to bits.

When it wasn’t all about Lynda, it was all about the hot tub. Six of us sensibly eschewed a 25 mile cycle ride on the Saturday in favour of a four hour soak/therapy session accompanied by a ready supply of beer, wine and prosecco. 20140403-173530.jpgI vaguely remember someone stuffing crisps in my mouth too. I think that day ranks as one of my happiest ever, notwithstanding my wedding day and the births of my two children. Probably.

Predictably, the girls, who had been little treasures for my parents all weekend, ganged up together and decided to be totally foul to me by way of punishment for abandoning them. It was counter-productive though as I’m now even more desperate to book another weekend away. I fully intend to play the’ F**K ME I’M FORTY’ card and see if I can wing another child-free break, maybe even with my husband this time. A hot tub will be mandatory as well as at all the girls from the birthday weekend and a good few from the hen, for good measure. A reasonable request I think although I strongly suspect he would rather pan-fry his testicles.

*me neither. It’s the ‘wrong answer’ sound apparently.

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