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When I was a teenager many moons ago in rural Ireland I had dreams like every other teenage girl my age. I wanted to meet rock stars, have a ‘boy next door boyfriend’ so beloved of Jackie columnists, shop at Topshop and Miss Selfridge and Chelsea Girl (non existent in those days in Ireland) and wear make up properly, lose weight and go clubbing. Unfortunately I lived, as I say, in rural Ireland where the nearest neighbour, a farmer in his 70s, was a mile away, the nearest village 3 miles away and the shopping mecca of Dublin 50 miles away so precisely none of this ever happened.

So I lived my teenage fantasies out through magazines which in themselves were in short supply and had to be ordered specially from the newsagents to be delivered at least three weeks after their publication date. From my little room at the top of the Wicklow mountains I devoured copies of Jackie (every girl’s staple for knowing what was what) and Smash Hits with its printed song lyrics and pull out posters for bedroom walls.

Cathy and Claire, the Jackie agony aunts  gave an address of King’s Reach Tower in London and I wondered where that might be. Of course this being eons ago there was no internet or Google so I wondered on for many years until I ended up working there myself in a bizarre quirk of fate on Classic Cars Magazine and so the wondering on that count was over. But what of Smash Hits?

At the time of my reading, there was a rather handsome editor called Mark Ellen in charge and I gazed at his picture and wondered (again) what he was like and how he got to be in the exalted position of editor. He seemed terribly knowledgable and interesting and I longed to meet him, just for a minute so that I could reassure myself that he was all that he seemed. Fast forward about 15 more years and in another bizarre quirk of fate I bumped into a friend in Soho and who should she be with but the man himself. It’s inevitable isn’t it, that at the moment when you want to seem nonchalant and cool you blow it completely and gush that you’d had a HUGE crush on this bemused man and that you were so thrilled to meet him…coolness was ever one of my twentysomething attributes.

And then. Just a couple of weeks ago over on Twitter, Mr Ellen was giving away some rather fantastic things from his attic and so we began a little correspondence. I admitted to my crush, he didn’t run away screaming, I won none of his prizes and asked (reasonably coolly) for a signed copy of Smash Hits as a consolation prize as it were. I have since read of his great charm in interviews and book reviews and this charm has been extended to me because just last week a signed copy of this landed on the mat.

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He also sent a lovely e mail making sure that I’d received it. They say that you should never meet your heroes and OK if we’re being honest here I did disgrace myself somewhat by gushing when we did meet briefly but I think that I’ve redeemed myself sufficiently. The mag will be framed and I shall hang it next to a vintage Isle of Wight Festival poster because that seems kind of fitting. I know that this might sound like the worst sort of sad muppetry to some but as it just so happens I have recently been made Deputy Editor of a magazine here on the sunny Isle – Style of Wight and I like to think that the path was set  for me all those years ago in my little bedroom in Ireland with Cathy and Claire and of course the very charming Mark Ellen.

Sprung Spring

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I do so love the spring. And the autumn actually too. They are the natural beginning and natural winding up of the outdoor year in the garden and the countryside and they make me feel optimistic on one hand and ready to hibernate on the other.

It was a lovely weekend here on the sunny Isle and having got all my tedious chores out of the way, it seemed a good time to have a look at the back of the seed packets and see what could be started.

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I have been reminded by a small person that she like to help so I only potted up the most pressing – some climbing beans, broad beans, sweet peas and summer savoury. TG made me a cold frame from an old box and some glass which is now full of salad in trays but which needed to be thoroughly checked out by Madam Rainbow in advance

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She was enjoying the sunshine too and so loves it when there’s someone in the garden that she can stalk keep company!

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It’s looking very yellow outside with all the primroses and daffs out

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It was just what I needed after feeling below par for much of last week (there are so many bugs going around!) and getting some bits and pieces planted always makes me feel happy. Spring in my garden and in a spring my step!

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Irony

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It’s amazing isn’t it. I’ve spent so much time writing for other people that I have completely neglected the very thing that got me started in the first place! Not that I’m complaining you understand. It has been a whirligig of a few weeks  and the next few promise to be the same. I have gone from a standing start to something that even my nearest and dearest are surprised at and I’m loving it. But I thought, as I’m in between issues, I’d better get on with a bit of an update on here.

Sadly nothing of any great consequence has occurred apart from the usual work, domestic bliss and a couple of nights out. There is a play on the go which I am struggling with time to learn the lines for and then another one after that…the all female Macbeth in which I shall play Banquo who thankfully carks it halfway through thus giving me only half a play’s worth of lines to learn and then a bit of ghostly drifting about to finish off with.

Me an TG have got out and about a bit and according to the Other Child my Victoria sandwich is going in the right direction, such has been the levels of my stomping around woods and beaches and getting my steps up to 10,000 a day. I have an app on my phone which not only measures your steps but also nags you via an hourly message to ‘get moving’ if you’ve been idle too long. Sort of like having your mother permanently in your pocket….

Anyway, we got out over the weekend to Yarmouth and did a 4 mile circuitous route which was rather nice with a quick stop off at the Red Lion for a coffee and a chat.

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It’s a favourite walk of mine because you start off at one side of the inlet in the woods and fields and end up on the other side in the marshes back to where you started. We met a little friend on our travels who was very sweet and up for a scratch and a pat on the nose.

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It was a good stretch and just what the ‘I’ve been stuck at a desk’ doctor ordered.

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I must just show you a couple of other things. Completely unrelated to the above but fun. I did a photo shoot which I borrowed the props for and styled (get me!) and I took a couple of quick snaps on my phone just to see how it might look…

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It was all terribly exciting!

On my way back from prop drop off I came upon this fine fellow – one of 12 living at Calbourne water mill. They were quite a sight when I pulled up and were all milling about but this one posed perfectly.

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Amazing eh?

So that’s it really. I’m not dead, buried under something heavy or gone away just in case you’d been fretting. Life is moving on at an incredible pace and sometimes it’s a struggle to keep up! But I shall endeavour to. Really I will.

 

The things she says….

So there we were having a little Friday half term morning at Nanny’s house (just the girls – the boy wasn’t allowed to come because of his new found love of spitting…..) and pancakes were deemed to be the order of the day.

We made the batter and heated the pan. The eldest child was standing on a chair next to the cooker watching.

Eldest: Can I make them Nanny?

Me: No the pan is very hot and we don’t want to end up at the hospital for the rest of the morning.

Eldest: Oooooohhhhhh pleeeeeeease

Me: No. I’ll do them. And anyway the first one is always a bit of a disaster while we get the pan to the right heat.

Long pause. Considered look sideways at me

Eldest: Well. Mummy’s are never a disaster….

I managed to fight the urge to push her off the chair.

You know when your life has become a little over busy when you are on the phone to the bloke who sorts things like your pension out and are simultaneously making a casserole and potting up marmalade. I told the bloke on the phone of my multitasking and there was a sharp intake of breath – more because he didn’t think I’d been listening to him for the past hour rather than admiration at my not inconsiderable juggling act. Pah! All of that and writing reams of copy for everything from Swiss chocolate, Unilever collaborations, eggs cups, wedding proposals and branding to master data (whatever that is) has made life busy but very interesting. But in the midst of all of this there are others to think of… Sunday last was a Nanny day and the small people arrived at some ungodly hour whilst their mother swanned off shopping for the day. Thinking ahead and knowing the boredom threshold of a gnat that the 6 year old has, I had lined up all manner of entertainments and making and doing. The boy child immediately flaked out in front of the telly with his cars (because you are allowed to do such things at Nanny’s) and the smallest person traipsed around the house dragging unwilling dollies and singing snatches of Frozen (which, I have to say makes me feel vaguely homicidal…).

And so the day commenced. There was cake making – and I must admit that the EBG can pretty much get everything necessary out of the cupboard herself and knows which order it all goes into the bowl. They were a resounding success! SONY DSC SONY DSC I love this one!! SONY DSC When Pops finally dragged himself off the golf course rescued me it was decided that a run round the fields would be just the thing on a freezing February day. Of course….. SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC Actually the older two quite enjoyed it. Not so the smallest child who stood resolutely in the middle of the field and refused to move for anyone even when cake was the bribe of choice. She is such a baggage! SONY DSC SONY DSC But we had a lovely day. Relatively chilled, cakes, telly and an amount of cutting and sticking. And miles of non stop chat… SONY DSC The eldest girl child then decided that she was going to be the next David Bailey. Actually she didn’t do half badly with my camera and got the gist of getting people and things centered and focussed. Here are a few that she took – she’s 6.   SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC Not bad eh? And so the day drew to a close and we broke the post dry January wine out which seemed both fitting and very necessary! Blimey!

So. Last weekend was designated as Great Garden Clearance Weekend. Yes of course I know that it’s January and bloody freezing but TG was not to be put off and so off we went into the cold. And wet.

We managed to fill several of those enormous bags that you get from DIY stores and hold around a metric tonne and then came the task of getting them onto the back of the pick up and to the tip. Hoisting them onto the back of the truck was bad enough as I am not the tallest person in the world and my arms only go up so far but eventually we had got three of the buggers on and roped down and off we set tipwards.

I should at this point mention that the composting section of the tip has a high wall (at least 4 feet high) over which you have to empty your garden waste. There is also the small question of momentum when what is in the bag comes out…

TG: Make sure you hold on to the bottom of the bag when we tip it over the wall.

Me: Well that’s easier said than done with slippy wet gloves on.

TG: Right are you ready. On three. One, two, three

I was at this point practically underneath the bag and hanging on as instructed. As the bag went over the wall the contents got stuck and with one swift movement I was halfway over the wall as well.

TG: I thought I told you to hang on.

Me: (from halfway over the wall and through gritted teeth) I AM HANGING ON. Where are you when needed?!

TG: Well it’s not my fault, you were standing in the wrong place weren’t you.

*divorce pending*

Having had a very successful trip to see Paddington last Saturday the two eldest small people came home for a spot of lunch and some R&R. The girl child was most insistent that we made those paper chain things where the people, or in her case snowmen, are holding hands.

Her: Do you know how to make them then Nanny?

Me: Yes, but I might have to practice a bit. It’s all about how you fold the paper.

Her: So, you don’t know how to make them then.

Me: No I do, I just need some practice.

Her: (on her way to get the paper and over her shoulder) Yes you should practice Nanny and you never know, you might just learn something…

Indeed.

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