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” We haven’t had a Nanny Day in aaaaaaagggggeeeeesss” came the plaintive wail from Madam. And she was quite right, we hadn’t. What with Christmas, rehearsals and life just generally getting in the way, I had been most remiss in my Nanny duties. Now Dear Reader, the only problem with remiss is that one has to make amends. Big time! I got supplies in and prepared myself for a full on day……

There were horses involved. The real variety…

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It was decided by general consensus that this one was called Bob. No, I don’t know why either but it turned out that he was rather partial to an apple or two.

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There was also Daisy the pony…

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This apparently (according to her) is the best game EVER and also (according to her) hilarious…..Pops I don’t think was quite so convinced as they trotted up and down the drive being ponies…

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Exhausted with horsey antics it was decided (not by me) that cakes were next in the order of the day. I would show you a picture of the blood red icing, the blood red cakes (we’d run out of pink) and the blood red kitchen where spilt blood red food colouring went pretty much everywhere but I’d lost the will to live by then and there is no photographic evidence!

And so we moved on. To puppet making

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And some colouring.

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Observe the concentration.

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The small boy meanwhile had abandoned the womenfolk to watch golf with Pops and make giant Meccano. However the lure of chocolate pudding proved too much.

Again, observe the concentration…SONY DSCSONY DSCNever separate a boy from his chocolate pudding!!

We had such a lovely day which ended with us all flaked on the sofa watching a bit of telly and having cuddles. Nothing earth shattering, nothing expensive, nothing of any great consequence. “I’ve really missed you Nanny” said Madam. And I had really missed them too. We’re having a sleepover next. Do they still sell Valium?

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With my little eye….

Something beginning with ‘S’ – show that is – a riotous nonsense called The Inaccurate Conception about a school nativity play – the irony being that all the parts of the children are played by adults. I shall be appearing as the Virgin Mary, natch! It is a most amusing of pieces for no better reason that it’s brilliant to see your fellow thesps and mates dressed up as sheep, wise men and angels making eejits of themselves….beginning tonight for 3 nights only should you be in the Bembridge area! Photos to follow…..

Something beginning with ‘F’ – fun that is – take two small children, a chilly November Saturday and a swing and you have all the ingredients.

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Something beginning with ‘P’ – party that is – for one of my lovely sister in-laws who has reached the grand age of 40 ( 40 seems a very distant memory from where I’m sitting). A grand evening of fun and family was had and sadly a camera that was playing up…but perhaps we could just call this one ‘arty’?

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And lastly, something beginning with ‘C’ – contemplation. There has been an incident which I shall not relate here that has made me reexamine friends and relationships. It has made me realise how things can be misconstrued and how one has to be so very careful with how one expresses oneself. A throwaway remark under the wrong eyes can mean far more than it did when written. So I have contemplated, reevaluated and culled accordingly.

This is a face also of contemplation

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Or alternatively ‘could you PLEASE STOP TAKING PHOTOS Nanny’.

I have a horrible snotty cold to take with me onstage later on and am looking forward to the weekend and particularly Sunday when all theatricals will be over until February and a lie in will very much be the order of the day! Are we nearly there yet??

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Well now Dear Reader, we may have had a hurricane, we may have had further torrential rain and high winds and we may have had ‘Amber alerts’ (which do make me giggle) but despite all of this, we had a rather lovely Saturday morning last weekend. And so it was that we found ourselves on the beach with two out of the three small folks.

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At their ages they don’t need much amusement beyond stone skimming and shell collecting and there was plenty of both

SONY DSC There was a small spot of rain but we were not deterred

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It’s a real treat to still have weather that’s reasonably good enough to get out with a coat and hat for a blustery walk. It blows the cobwebs away and it’s great to see so many folks out and about with dogs and kids just enjoying what we have on our doorstep.

We made some shadow pictures although TG does look alarmingly like the grim reaper..

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We’d all had enough after about an hour or so and as Madam had decided that cookery was the afternoon’s activity of choice, off homewards we went.

The cakes went ok despite much arguement discussion about the best way to crack and egg. Observe the concentration…

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The biscuits however didn’t quite go to plan and drew a withering look and a “well they ALWAYS work out fine at OUR house Nanny” from Madam…..

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It was one of those – look awful, tastes great moments but the Smallest Baby Boy was not deterred by such minutiae as the look of the thing and pronounced them most ‘licious Nanny

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Whatever the weather (well unless it really is slinging it down) it’s great to get out and about. It gets dark so early that there is no excuse necessary for lighting the fire and relaxing with a glass of wine in front of the Autumn telly schedule. It’s time for gravy and plenty of it, stews and pies and mash and root vegetables, custard and cakes with cinnamon and mixed spice. The festive season will soon be upon us and I am preparing for a marathon of children and friends. We cooked for 15 last Christmas Day – wonder if we can top that this year? This weekend I shall be making Creole Christmas cakes and the Christmas chutney is already maturing nicely along with its very best friend the runner bean variety. There are plenty of things to be getting on with if the weather doesn’t play ball but if it does then I feel a few more trips to the beach and walks coming on. Be rude not to!

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I am speaking to you Dear Reader in conspiratorial tones. If I don’t, then I fear that this golden orb which has appeared in our skies for the last week or two will skedaddle back to Timbuktu or wherever it was it has been hiding for the last God knows how many months. It has been truly glorious here on the sunny Isle and we have been making the most of the garden which is looking rather splendid (if I do say so myself) if a touch wild in places. There are more self seeded Foxgloves that you could shake, well a Foxglove at, in every possible shade of purple, white and pink and the walkway down the garden is looking lovely with those and the Aquilegias in full flower. Everything is so very late because of the pants Spring we had but it’s a riot of colour out there.

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I have been remembering Summers long gone as well over the last few weeks. I don’t know about you Dear Reader, but in my Summers past it never really seemed to rain and the days seemed endlessly long and warm. I remember the farmers cutting the long grass for hay and the dusty smell and tractor noises that were the backdrop of hot late August days. My father used to drag us out for walks on a Sunday afternoon always with a plastic bag in our pockets for anything that we might find (I do still do that) and my bedroom always had a nature table of sorts groaning with our finds. I fancied myself as a sort of Gerald Durrell / Diary of an Edwardian lady type for a while but my fear of birds (or in fact anything fluttery) and my lack of ability to draw at all soon put paid to those notions.

I have also been remembering the Summers that we spent with my maternal Grandmother. We would drive over (my Mother, brothers and I – never my Father) and stay with my Nan in her little red brick house on the side of a busy road in Hither Green. Coming, as we did, from the middle of nowhere in Ireland, this was a huge novelty for us and I can see us in the shops buying cream soda and penny sweets and fish and chips and going swimming in the local baths. My nan was almost childlike in her way and she delighted in milk jellies, scrumping pears from the next door neighbours standing on the bin and laughing her head off and having all of us (my cousins too) to stay. We squished ourselves into whatever beds or sofas were available and listened to her old 45s on her ‘radiogram’ whilst reclining on her ‘studio couch’. I remember the hot Summer of ’76 when she made houses and hideaways from old sheets and blankets and we played with all my Mother and aunt’s old dolls and prams. Happy days indeed.

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Fast forward 40 odd years and I am doing the same as my Nan did but in my own garden and with my own grandchildren. When we bought our house with its third of an acre of garden our children were really too old to use or appreicate it and so it’s wonderful to now have these small folks running around and enjoying it.

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We have assembled a motley assortment of hand me down toys and books, bikes and scooters and there have been many happy days spent colouring, having stories or running round the gardening flapping our arms, screeching and pretending to be birds (or was that just me?). We have planted seeds, watched them come up and become beans, sunflowers and all mannner of other things. We have spent rainy days in the greenhouse (WHY is it a greenhouse Nanny? It ISN’T green!!) chatting and planting and doing. And so finally, the garden has come to life again.

I like to think that when these little folks grow up they’ll have fond memories of Nanny’s garden like I do of my Nans. That they’ll remember having fun and laughs, dancing and singing silly songs, playing hide and seek in amongst the washing and that they’ll appreciate butterflies and flowers and the nature of things. If that’s the best memory they have of me when they get older then that’s ok by me. I’m sure we’ll get to a stage in the not too distant future when it all becomes a bit boring and that’s also ok by me. But I know that somewhere in the back of their minds there will always be a little something that triggers thoughts of good times. For me it’s the smell of Lemon Balm and Magnolia trees both of which instantly transport me back to Nan’s garden in the seventies. A time of simple pleasures, laughter and childhood fun and games. And as we know Dear Reader, it’s the simple things that mean the most.

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Life never ceases to amaze me Dear Reader. And not always in a good way. But there are notable exceptions and last weekend was one of those.

Picture if you will two people (ladies) who ‘meet’ online. They swap messages, blog posts and an interest in making jam and sewing. They then swap a cat.

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Now you might think that there is nothing so peculiar in this (or perhaps you might – I’ll admit the cat thing is a tad odd), but this has been the beginning of an enduring online relationship. And so Abby and her children came to stay at the weekend.

It is not just a wee bit strange but very strange in the great scheme of how we make friends in out forties – or maybe not – who knows.  Anyway suffice to say that we had a lovely weekend. We talked about all and more and TG was very taken with the younger folks (as indeed were they with him).

The smallest Madam decided that the beach was just the place for a walk on Sunday. Now, if I tell you that hypothermia was my favourite cause of death on a beach on the Isle of Wight last Sunday –  then I would not be exaggerating by even the teeniest of measuresSONY DSC. It was bloody freezing and there were numb bits of me which have never been numb before in my lifetime! Madam was not to be deterred and so a shell gathering we went. Look at the triumph and delight…

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SONY DSCChildren are so amazingly resilient when it comes to being completely frozen but being absolutely where they want to be. It’s wonderful to watch and it was also lovely to see the real pleasure (albeit with a good dose of bickering)  to be had from the simple pleasure of shell seeking. Brilliant.

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So. The mayhem and siege mentality shopping is over. The 21lb (yes 21!!!) turkey has met its end and my liver is protesting quietly.

For your interest (or not) a few little mementos of the festive day which started at ours with the small people coming over for presents and some friends dropping in for a little lunchtime tipple and ended with 13 of us ranging from 5 weeks to 76 years old sitting around Mr and Mrs Folly’s festive table.

For some, unless you can wedge it in your mouth, it’s a rubbish present

For others a £3.99 bracelet with your name and a fairy princess is enough to make you hyperventilate with joy

There were friends

And young love

Family

Some general silliness

Beautiful girlies

The obligitory Santa dog…

And the world’s teeniest Father Christmas

And a good time was had by all (if you don’t count the teenage hangovers the next day!!).

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Being a grandparent has been a revelation in a different sort of love. Now, Dear Reader, I love my children endlessly and would do anything (well perhaps not if it was illegal or involved violence) for them. But my love for the little people in my life is that and more. I don’t have the daily contact with them that I would love (and would drive their mother insane) but I can’t tell you how much I look forward to seeing them every weekend. I love having small arm cuddles, endless ‘but what IS IT’ Nanny questions and new hugs with a littler person. I love the silly little things that the Smallest Baby Girl and I giggle about, Incy Wincey Spider being one of them (he seems to manifest himself in all manner of strange places) and the silly voices that all of her teddies and bunnies and monkeys seem to have acquired…..I love that the Gruffalo has ‘otinge’ eyes, that everything from a crocodile upwards is a ‘disodor’ (dinosaur) and that every Saturday I have the treat request (today was pink – no other colour please Nanny – weeties). They are a complete joy. And my, haven’t they grown (as Auntie Joan used to say)…







I know that I’m biased, but they are totally gorgeous aren’t they?

Of course Dear Reader the only problem with having one’s picture taken with such perfection, is that it makes one’s wrinkles and crinkles and endless chins look very prominent!! Oh well….*sigh*

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