One day of summer…

Monday.

Whilst I was blogging slogging away at the washing and ironing pile, Children of Mine were playing politically correct Native Americans (that’s ‘Indians’ to 70s children like me) indoors with furniture, blankets and cushions making a teepee den. Dressed up in, well as authentic a Native American costume as they could find (under-5-pink-squaw-outfit and Charleston flapper is more like it), the arms of the sofa provided a horse each, and the patio doors became a convenient target for arrow practice.

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That is, until Husband of Mine stopped them – firing arrows at the glass that is – not the entire game. “Mummy said we could!” – came back the plaintive cry. Er no, I just think I didn’t forbid it…

So then, discovering it was actually quite warm outside, they decided to venture outside for a dunk in the over-sized paddling pool in the garden.

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But they were thwarted again, this time by the temperature of the water. A quick competition to win 20p for being the first to get their shoulders under, then their heads, and they were shivering as much as if they’d been plunged into a pool of ice cold water.

Which wasn’t far off the truth; it would have taken a lot more than 20p to get me in there.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Colourful

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I seem to always have a ridiculous amount of washing. Even more so, this week, as the preparations for the Family’s annual holiday are underway.

Today, summer has actually made an appearance so the washing was put outside to dry in the breeze. Seeing it all hanging there in the glorious sunshine, rather than hastily put in the spare room to dry, revealed how much colourful clothing I have.

Maybe it’s the performer in me – the brighter the better?

“It’s all culottes!” Why I hate clothes shopping

I’m sorry to keep harping on about my grandmother, but I have just had a ‘culottes’ moment.

My grandmother, or Nana as she was to me, once summed up a dismal shopping trip for clothes in the 1980s with the phrase, “It’s all culottes!”. Husband of Mine and I still refer to this catchphrase whenever we struggle to find something in the shops.

I had the luxury of a hour or two on my own in my local city centre, whilst the rest of the Family went swimming, with the intention of getting a couple of things to wear on holiday. Now, I haven’t really bought any summer clothes this year (not a lot of point, given the weather) and those I bought in the last two summers haven’t really had much of an outing except for the two holidays abroad that we’ve taken. This year, although not heading for the Lakes in August, normality has resumed with our usual holiday pattern of self-catering in the UK – only this time it’s Scotland.  I knew then there was no point in getting sidetracked by skimpy floaty things, their prices slashed in the sales due to the combination of austerity measures and the appalling July weather.

So I trotted round the usual High Street places, failing to find anything I even wanted to try on. Don’t get me wrong, I love dressing up – probably more than the next guy – give me a costume and I’m in my element. It’s when it’s me,the real me, that it’s often never right. Too patterned. Too fussy. Wrong length. Boring. Not in my size. Too strappy. Too plain. Would look wrong up a mountain. What shoes would I wear with it?

“It’s all culottes!”

My clothes size has fluctuated in the last 20 years between an 8 and a 14. Not really through any of my doing – apart from the obvious pregnancy-related weight gain, my actual size has remained fairly constant. It seem to be the fault of clothing manufacturers not just in their labelling, but in the strange proportions they seem to adopt for ratios such as waist to hip and shoulder to underarm.

Take trousers for instance. I buy size 12, which fit round the hips, but are always, always, too big around the waist and result in an unsatisfactory attempt to gather the excess material with a belt. Yes, yes, I know it’s not fashionable to have high waists, but I can’t be doing with muffin tops. And then this strange shoulder to underarm measurement; I think mine must be abnormally short as when combined with my tiny boobs, so many tops seem to have either spare inches of strap poking above my shoulders, or sit so low that they expose both my décolletage and my ribs in one go.

So continuing my search, and remembering my reason for browsing was not high fashion, I was back in my clothes shopping comfort zone. This centres around layers of comfortable, quick-drying and mostly warm clothing suitable for, this year, walking up mountains and along coasts, visiting the Skye Highland Games, beach picnics, a bit of photography followed by crashing with a pint in the local pub. I even found myself eyeing up ‘insect repellent’ dresses, thinking one of them would be perfect evening wear to fend off the wee midges.

I didn’t buy a dress, but did manage to leave with a stone-coloured, snappily worded ‘travel’ skirt (can’t one travel in a normal skirt then) and two pairs of trousers; one pair are culottes cropped so I must remember to smother my ankles in insect repellent.

So thanks, Nana, for still being with me on shopping trips… x

Weekly Photo Challenge: Old-fashioned

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A coincidence perhaps, that this week’s photo challenge has also been inspired by my grandmother – the ring belonged to her and was given to me when I was a teenager. Studded with garnets, and teeny tiny real diamond chips which, at that age, made me feel like a princess.

Look closely and you will notice how it is no longer symmetrical; the gold worn down at the top with years of wear.

Would something this old-fashioned, yet so beautiful, still excite today’s teenagers, I wonder?

On My Own, but not Misérables

Home alone tonight. Well, nearly…

Daughter of Mine is on a charity sleepover at school to raise money for the local hospice; such a worthy cause – but I pity the poor teachers – ‘Lovely Ladies’ – who are supervising 21 over-excited ‘Little People’ at what is very nearly the end of their time in primary school.

The ‘Master of the House’ – Husband of Mine – is out gigging with The Renegade Dogs – who incidentally now have a brand new kennel at http://www.therenegadedogs.com

So that left me tonight with a rare evening with Son of Mine who was delighted to have me all to himself, mainly so that I could put some more songs on his iPod. Now, his music tastes are quite eclectic, ranging from folk inspired by The Renegade Dogs, through classic rock (Queen), pop (The Saturdays), country (Taylor Swift), instrumental film themes (John Williams), and of course all manner of musical theatre forced upon introduced to him by Yours Truly.

Added to his playlist tonight were the complete recordings of Anything Goes, Grease, The Pirates of Penzance and Into the Woods, plus selected songs by Kander & Ebb (‘Coffee in a Cardboard Cup’ and ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’). He also wanted the entire soundtrack of Les Misérables, presumably because he’s just seen a production Daughter of Mine and I were in that included some of the songs.

Before long, we were searching YouTube for clips to answer his questions about the show and came across lots of Lego animation versions – not quite what I had in mind, but of course these went down a treat with Son of Mine! The one we watched actually provided a great potted version of the story –

A friend of Mine, ‘Streets’, saw the first performance given by Alfie Boe and Matt Lucas last month – part of the most significant cast change in many years. She loved it so much this time round that she’s already booked to see their last night in November. I’m not in the least bit jealous, not at all, not one bit – even though it is 20 years since I last saw the show on stage – well, ok, I am, just a teeny tiny (huge) bit.

‘At The End of the Day’, if watching Lego animations and syncing the music to iPods manages to stir up a bit of pressure from Children of Mine to book tickets then maybe I’ll be there sooner, rather than later, to ‘…Hear the People Sing’.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sky

A gallery of sunset skies for this week’s challenge, just a few of the many I’ve snapped from my garden over the last 9 years, and the story of why, every time I press the shutter button, I think of my grandmother…

I’ve had a logistically challenging week. For starters, I have been at work for a lengthy four days this week. And before the tutting begins, I know that’s still part-time to many people, but those few hours extra I have spent at work this week have made a huge dent in the amount of stuff I could have got done at home. Not to mention the amount of time I could have spent online. Ahem.

Last Sunday’s sunset, after the Family’s visit to Devil’s Dyke, was another beautiful one. My garden faces west, so I am rewarded nightly with a different sky to gawp at in awe and I often leap up to grab the camera and photograph the colours and patterns on offer. It was when I was downloading yet more files to my PC and tagging them as sunsets that I started thinking about interpreting this photo challenge as a gallery.

This habit of photographing sunsets reminds me of my Nana, who often took photographs of sunsets from her west-facing garden to ‘use up the film’. Mother of Mine and I found packets and packets of photos, each with at least one sunset, when sorting through her things after her death in 2001. I wonder what she would have made of the advent of digital photography with the option to snap away and instantly see the results on a screen, before sharing online with family, friends and strangers.

Children of Mine won’t find my photos languishing in a drawer when I’m gone, instead they’ll be turning to the digital storage medium of the day – the technology of the future that will replace today’s computer hard drive, website, blog, or photosharing service.

I wonder what they will do with them all?

Devil’s Dyke, West Sussex

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The Family made the most of the sunshine last Sunday, driving over to Devil’s Dyke near Brighton, an historic beauty spot on the South Downs Way, that is named after the huge dry valley that carves its way through ridges of rolling chalk grassland.

None of the photographs I took do justice to the depth and scale of the valley. The panorama above, taken from the eastern side, completely conceals the 300 foot deep valley, which according to one of the many stories in local folklore, was dug by the Devil to allow the sea to flood the churches in the Sussex Weald. The digging disturbed an old woman who lit a candle, or angered a rooster causing it to crow (depending on which legend you ‘believe’), making the Devil think that morning was fast approaching. The Devil then fled, leaving his trench unfinished.

Anyway, Children of Mine – my own little Devils – thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon out.

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Especially Daughter of Mine, who delighted in all things yellow (her favourite colour – check out those shoes – and yes, she does like butter), including all 395 of the Cinnabar Moth caterpillars she and her brother counted that were feeding on the yellow ragwort.

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