Saturday, 30 April 2011


The lovely weather continues although it's been increasingly windy, such that our lawns are now covered in pale pink cherry blossom which looks like a rather pretty confetti, and when we went out earlier today in the car we found Paving Brow closed as a tree had fallen right across it!  In addition quite a large proportion of our big bonfire-to-be (branches from shrubs my Father-in-Law chopped down, in the former pond hole) blew into the side of the ferret run.  I put it back together and tried to get it lighted, but unfortunately it's too green at the moment.

I haven't done any more gardening since last weekend and it's as if having almost finished the lawn project (I am just waiting for the afore-mentioned bonfire to take place so that I can then spread a layer of compost over the entire area and then sow the lawn seed) I've rather lost enthusiasm.  In fact generally I'm not feeling particularly enthusiastic about anything: I start singing lessons again this week and had a French lesson last week but I seem to be in a wanting to sit, read and sleep type mood.  Maybe it's been prompted by my reading the final of the Harry Potter books.  I don't know why, but I have found them all compulsive reading and have been staying up far later than I should with my nose stuck in the last one.  Hence I'm tired....

The baby, bless him, didn't wake until 5.45 this morning: so that's twice now he could be said to have gone through the night.  The only problem is that he usually nearly wakes at one point at least in the night, tossing and turning and making a lot of noise, and whilst he then settles down and goes back to sleep I'm on tenterhooks: sleepily wanting to snuggle back down under the duvet and go back to sleep but my hearing super-alert in case he decides he really is going to wake up and want milk.  He doesn't really like waking in the night anyway: I change his nappy and he keeps his eyes tight shut, just making minor noises of objection and eating his fist to demonstrate that he'd like his milk.

It was the Royal Wedding yesterday: the street party in Brampton, when Older Son and I walked through later to see if there was anyone open to cut his overgrown hair, seemed to be full of chavs and pikeys.  However I was then out in the evening at Off the Wall for a talk about the Reivers, which was interesting (the food was good too).  I was with two other Mums and we ended up talking long after the speaker had left: it was a good evening.

I watched the Wedding on TV apart from a large section in the middle when the Baby needed a clean nappy.  I thought the dress was lovely but I kept thinking, for some reason, of Henry VIII and all his wives.  Also where was the Princess Royal?  Husband was working and kept poking his head around the door every-so-often to say what a load of rubbish, etc.: but I do rather wish my wedding had been a bit more sumptious and I will admit now to having a wish as a little girl that I could marry a Prince (and Daughter is now expressing the same wish!).

I don't suppose life is simple for people with that sort of wealth, but you can't help thinking that they can buy themselves out of a lot of problems: and that it really is a completely different world.  I guess at the moment it made me particularly conscious of how much less money I have than I had before I had children: but then, which would I rather have?  (hmmm - sometimes, the money!!!  Both older children ended up in their separate bedrooms yesterday, they were so awful - bickering, Daughter being rude and disobedient....).  So job-hunting will start in earnest soon.... and so will getting fit and losing weight and singing practice and making sure I get more French done and trying to get the freelance side of things going more....  But in the meantime let's just enjoy the weather and the fact that in the middle of a more-or-less worldwide recession, we all had the excuse for a bit of a party!

Monday, 25 April 2011


I'm not in a particularly good temper this morning, though I've been feeling really happy recently.  The problem is that I stood on the scales this morning and having been 10st 1lb the other day - i.e. heading in the right direction for something starting with a '9' - I'm back up to 10st 4lb.  Which means theoretically I still have one stone to lose, whereas at 10st 1lb I could contemplate losing just about half a stone to get down to about 9st 7lb (which is about what I was when I got pregnant, though ideally I'd rather be 9st 4lb).  I have a 50th birthday party to go to at the end of May and I'm not going to have anything to wear if I don't lose weight!

The Baby has also decided to have a really unsettled day.  He is, I think, very tired and out of sorts because there has been no routine recently and it's all just getting a bit much.  He's currently crying his eyes out and his father has taken him as I've just had enough.  Isn't it awful how impatient and intolerant you can get with a tiny baby, through no fault of his own?  He rarely cries anyway so I really should have more patience but as I said, I'm in a bad temper anyway - and I wanted to write this and to read Harry Potter, do some French, write up about trail runs.... I can't help thinking that he started crying more when I got annoyed, as well.

I lost weight without even trying after the first two, though having said that, Daughter drove me completely nuts with her screaming for hours at a time when she was tiny (which makes me feel even worse about being so grumpy with the Baby who is an angel in comparison) so maybe as much as anything I was more stressed and that helped with the weight loss. Some people eat when they're stressed - I don't.

The weather has been absolutely fantastic recently and the garden is bursting into bloom.  I've finished digging up everything which was where the lawn is to be extended, and Father in Law has removed two large shrubs from the hedge bounding the hammerhead, which  a) means there's more light on to the top lawn and the hedge looks a lot better (the apple tree and silver birch can now be seen to advantage)   b) that there is an enormous bonfire waiting to be set alight.  The latter is in the old pond hole, which has been filled with organic matter for composting and also set on fire several times.  We should have a very fertile piece of land there soon!

I've also bought seed potatoes and already had packets of runner beans and peas to plant, and now there is more light in the back garden my next project is to put in a bit of a vegetable patch.  I'm hoping that the fact that the back has been covered with a layer of plastic with stones on top will mean that there aren't too many weeds.  Later on I'll need to put some sort of path through (ultimately, with herbs between the stones), and I also want to put a path down the western side of the house which rarely gets any light and which therefore is pretty useless for anything (although weeds seem to grow all right down there, unfortunately!).  In the meantime I've planted some more bulbs in the bed outside the TV room window and some ground cover seeds in the rockery area.

I had promised myself that once I'd finished digging the lawn area I would go for a bike ride, and so yesterday evening I finally got out on my road bike and went down past Castle Carrock and back - about 16 miles I think.  I averaged about 15mph which isn't brilliant but isn't too bad either, and I'm now thinking that I would like to enter a sprint-distance triathlon in September (as well as a 10k run), such as Cockermouth.  I think I'd be in the Supervet category as I turn 50 this year!  Husband is running up to Kielder Forest today via Gilsland and suggested I cycle back - about 30 miles.

I probably need to start being a bit more active in looking for jobs too.  Much as I love being at home with the Baby, I do get bored at times as well - and I want a better income.  I'd like to be able to afford regular swimming lessons for the older two, and dancing classes for Daughter (my French is only once a month and singing once a fortnight whereas the children's things tend to be weekly).  I also need to save up to have the car serviced, particularly as it has an oil leak, and for my 50th birthday party and the Baby's christening - I was hoping £1000 from Femail or the Mirror would cover it but it looks as if they're not now going to cover my story, despite initial interest.  Boo-hoo!

Husband is keen to get out for his run and having written this I'm now more ready to cope with a crying baby (who seems to have settled down anyway).  Adieu!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011


The Baby slept through until 6.15a.m. last night!

Only a few days ago he had a stinking cold and was waking me up with his grunting.  Ex-work friend L. - who henceforth is going to be referred to as Godmother L. - and I went for a walk up Heughscar Hill on Monday, with the Baby in his buggy.  We were rewarded with a fantastic, albeit slightly misty, view over to Ullswater from the top but the Baby objected wildly to trying to drink milk with the wind blowing relatively vigorously and a bunged up nose.  I don't think GodML had seen him so upset and cross and red in the face before.  Not long after however he was back to his normal cheery self and the last couple of days, now that the snotty nose is far less snotty, he has been very smiley.  I thought some fresh air would do him good!

He loves being outside.  We were in Forfar at the weekend, dropping off Older Son and Daughter at my sister-in-laws for Scotland Nanny and Grandad to pick up for a few days holiday (and being spoilt) in Aberdeen.  Sister-in-Law lives next to a field with some trees round it, and the Baby loved watching them blowing in the breeze.  I'm not sure what sort of tree they were but they were quite 'light' and bendy and made a gentle swooshing noise as the wind blew through them.

He's also been outside in our garden in his buggy or on a blanket recently while I dig.  I'm making progress in terms of converting an old border into lawn: I've dug over about half of it and moved some plants I wanted to keep to other places in the garden, the pond hole is full of stuff which is going to make a fantastic bonfire/barbeque at the weekend, and by the time I've levelled it and raked it I reckon we'll need very little compost to finish it off.

The only problem is that the other two are always attracted to freshly dug soil......

Daughter had an intensive swimming course last week - five lessons in five days - and by the end could, basically, swim.  Well, she was wearing one armband, which as the teacher said, was giving her no help (other than psychological) at all.  I guess the psychological help is pretty key though!  She also won the Grand National (well, BallaBriggs did, which was a close enough match for Husband's boss to put a bet on).

GodML has a new job which she starts soon, which is great - and near her home, too (or will be).  I shall miss meeting up and going for walks though.  It's always easier to explore when there's someone to explore with.  Meanwhile I need votes on what to do with my hair.  Do I dye it again or go grey gracefully?  Long or short?  I'm tempted by the cheapest option of a cut and blow dry but also, despite being proud to be able to conceive and bear a child at nearly 50, have to admit to rather a lot of vanity and did think whilst watching the television this morning that almost all the female presenters have their hair dyed.....

Friday, 8 April 2011


We went for a short walk in Rowbank Woods after school today - one of my favourite running routes but the children had never been there before.  With ponds to explore, streams to jump over, a disused railway line to run along and a real railway station to watch trains at, it was immediately popular and I've promised them another visit soon.

The weather has been fantastic this week and earlier I was enjoying just sitting looking out of my study - the baby's bedroom - window at the view.  You're so much more aware of the seasons living in the country: I can see that the trees are beginning to have new leaf buds on them.

I was going to begin this post with a reference to my dream of being a TV presenter.  Not only would I like to present history and music programmes but also a car review type programme along the lines of Top Gear.  Not Top Gear itself as I think the trio of presenters works well, although you can just imagine chucking a woman in amongst them - the sexist insults would abound ('what do you know about cars, you're only a girl') although having said that they've had some pretty amazing women drivers on. 

However I think it was possibly taking the Top Gear dream a little too far when I allowed my car, on Tuesday, to get down to empty - really empty.  On Tuesday evening it was telling me I had 15 miles range left: on Wednesday morning when we left to take Husband to work and then the kids to school it said I had 0 miles range.  The indicator wasn't right down to the far left hand red line so I was cautiously optimistic that we would get to the nearest fuel station 3 miles away or so, but Husband was not impressed.  All I could think of was the time on Top Gear when they drove 3 cars, including a gas-guzzling one, to Blackpool in time to turn on the lights - and all made it despite the cars appearing to have run out of fuel completely.  Husband I think did not particularly understand my desire to emulate that occasion.

This came about because we are so broke.  I wasn't getting my maternity allowance until Wednesday, Husband is skint because he's had to pay extra into the joint account to cover the mortgage payment and so forth, which almost bounced this month.  I really shouldn't have bought those two pairs of earrings and the books for the children when we were in Aberdeen in February.  I hope Woman magazine pay me when they say they will - even though the majority of it is already earmarked for a piano repair which has been carried out in part and for which I was putting aside part of my inheritance from my Aunt (that got spent on christmas presents).

I'm sure it will all improve.  I meant to tell ex-work friend L., who was getting depressed about lack of jobs with reasonable salaries, about how I chucked in my well-paid job at Westminster City Council to be a holiday rep. and that whilst my salary when I got back was low, after a few years not only was I earning considerably more but kept getting promoted as well.  Sometimes I think you have to go backwards to go forwards further, and that was certainly part of the thinking when I took voluntary redundancy.  I hadn't anticipated the 'going forwards further' to include a new baby, but on the other hand whilst my story in relation to him and my age has not yet earned me massive amounts of money, I'm sure something will come of it.

In the same way I'm sure something will come of my appearances on Radio Cumbria.  The latest is that one of the Production guys has said he'll help me make a demo CD of a programme idea I've had.  I'm really impressed by how supportive and helpful he's being - I guess part of his job is getting new programme material and ideas, but he's making quite an effort for me.  I felt far more cheerful after speaking to him than I had for a while, and came to the conclusion that it's the Radio Cumbria effect: I always feel cheerful going in there as well.

Being interviewed also makes me feel good and whilst there is no money in either of these, I was interviewed for the Sunday Telegraph on Monday (and was given lunch at the Gilded Lily, which was nice) and then am being interviewed for the local paper soon - probably next week as they want the children as well (and ideally Husband, though I'm not sure they'll get him - he's not very keen and has the excuse of having to do lots of overtime because it's year end.  I'll let him off the photos but I think he could at least talk to the journalist!).

The other thing that made me feel better this week was being insulted by L., the wife of accompanist M.  I was saying how despondent I'd felt about my performances at Carlisle Festival and she said that she thought I'd looked dreadful: and also that I had after all only just had a baby.  Maybe I really was lacking in energy and that affected my performances - not that I think I would have done any better against the competition, but I might have felt that I had performed better if I had felt more energetic at the time.  It just seemed like a long time away from the three children and Husband, and I felt guilty as well that I'd left Husband to deal with them for so long: especially as the Baby is so used to being with me rather than anyone else (I don't remember feeling quite so attached with the other two: maybe it's because this time I am so conscious that this is my last go at being a mother to a newborn baby, and I really appreciate it and feel so lucky that it happened).

I had a thought in relation to having children late the other day.  I'd already considered that I grew up late - I was more like a screwed up teenager in my 20s and did what a lot of 20-somethings do in my 30s (being a holiday rep.; going clubbing; falling for unsuitable and non-committal men; developing my career) and so perhaps it was inevitable that it would be in my 40s that I'd do what many people do in their 30s - get married and settle down and produce offspring.  But I then had another thought along similar lines.  You go through your life trying out various personae: clubber; careerwoman; sportswoman; mother.  The trouble with the last is that you can't just walk away from it if you don't like it: but then your overwhelming love for your miraculous children prevents you from doing so.  Or at least, it does in most circumstances.  And aren't they all just miracles?  There are billions of people on this earth and yet each one is unique and a miracle.  It's astounding, but I don't think you really appreciate it until you hold a newborn baby in your arms.  Just before any childfree people feel insulted, I don't mean only parents appreciate the miracle: I mean that it's watching a baby blossom and develop into a toddler, a child and then an adult is quite amazing.

I've managed to write relatively little about the Baby in this post but I did want to note that I had him weighed yesterday, at nearly 14 weeks.  He was 15lb 5oz and is nearly 75th centile now for weight!  I also did a rough measurement of his length at home last night (I wanted to check that he wasn't just short and very fat) and he's also currently quite long.  I then looked at Older Son's record and he was almost exactly the same weight and height at the same age: but is now definitely slim and one of the shortest in his class.  So who knows how they'll turn out as adults!

Older Son wanted to sleep in bed with me the other night so I told him he could provided that he read to the Baby to get him to go to sleep.  He read a book about sharks.  It reminded me of the scene in Three Men and a Baby where one of the guys is reading an account of a baseball match to the baby girl, and says that it doesn't matter what you read, it's your tone of voice that counts.  The Baby certainly seems just to love people talking to him, whatever rubbish it is: and will often burst into giggles about very little.

But I shall stop writing about my beautiful children and go off to bed.  I get so cross with the older two at times: but I do so thank God or Nature or whatever for them.  I wish I could learn not to get so wound-up: but I'm a mother - I have to have several things to be guilty about!

Monday, 4 April 2011


Taking a baby to the Doctors is rather like taking a car to the garage: when you get there the problem has resolved itself and you feel like a complete idiot in front of the expert.

The Baby's poos are not what they once were, but he had just had milk and a clean nappy at the Doctors this afternoon when I went to see them about his bottom, and as luck would have the poo he had produced had been the nearest to how they used to be in over a week.  It wasn't copious but it was greenish and looked like poo.  Anyhow enough on poo: on to performing.

I was interviewed for an article for the Telegraph Sunday magazine today: far more my cup of tea than Woman (though less lucrative).  Last night and this morning I was thinking how writing a blog and being interviewed for magazines or on radio (or even TV, not that I've scaled those heights yet) is rather like performing, and was then thinking how some of us just like to lay our souls bare.  Interestingly there was an article in Psychologies magazine last month where writers of autobiographical works were talking about this, amongst other things: and about how much you reveal or don't about yourself.  I think I tend to be fairly honest except when I have a poor opinion about somebody who may read my blog and take exception to it!  Friends who know me well will have some idea about who I may mean.

But I still question why some of us wish to perform and to lay our souls bare - to make ourselves vulnerable to criticism?  Some only do so via writing, which provides a certain barrier in that it doesn't have to be face-to-face; some of us also do presentations and live performances.  Does it stem from a lack of self-confidence which results in attention-seeking?  Once upon a time I would have said that was very true of me: now I'm not so sure as one thing I felt after today's interview was that nowadays I'm relatively confident.  I do tend to apologise to people if I fear that I may appear big-headed, as I don't want to come across as a self-satisfied p***k, but there are certain things I feel very proud of having done.  That includes being able to conceive a 3rd child naturally in my late 40s.

The journalist asked if I wanted to get back into triathlon and how I might feel at 70.  I should have said, though I forgot to, that I fully intend still to be competing in triathlons at 70, even if I'm somewhat slower!  I guess the only thing that will stop me will be if I'm still competitive by nature and if I get too upset at being slow.  I wonder if the children, at 20, 25 and 27, will be competing with me.....

Sunday, 3 April 2011


I have just done an internet search about baby weight and baby poo, both of which are causing me some concern at the moment.  I found a forum where baby poo was discussed in some detail - it was quite a relief to see that other mothers were just as perturbed by their babies' poo as I am.

Anyhow I'm taking the Baby to the Doctors tomorrow (so long as I can get an appointment) as he's been far more unsettled, hugely hungry and - yes, you've guessed it - his poos are completely different to how they have been and I have no idea now whether he's constipated, has diarrhoea, should be on Comfort milk or Standard milk.... and so forth.  It just goes to show how delicate babies' stomachs are at 3 months: I can't believe that people used to wean at this age!  In fact I can't believe that when Older Son was weaned the standard age was 4 months - I can't see the Baby being ready for solids in a month's time (though the amount he eats, maybe he will).

My other concern is his weight and I can find nothing helpful on the internet.  He's meant to have about 30 oz per day and whilst I can accept that a bit over or under that is going to be normal, he's taking about 10 oz more which is ridiculous.  He is also developing incredibly fat legs.  I worried about Older Son getting fat when he was a baby but the Baby I think is bigger still.  Perhaps they'll weigh him at the Doctors tomorrow as well.  I have no idea what you do to stop a baby eating so much, except perhaps making the formula weaker.

My moods are swinging between the more optimistic and the still gloomy: but at least I am getting optimistic moods again at times now.  Earlier today I felt positive about life for no obvious reason, and it was a relief to feel like that again.  There are times of the day when I wish I didn't have to deal with the children though: generally around tea-time/in the evening.  As I'm out late lunchtime tomorrow (being interviewed for the Sunday Telegraph) I've arranged for the two older children to be fetched from school with friends, and at least one of them is also being given tea, so tomorrow should be a little less stressful than normal.  The Easter holidays start in at the end of this week... I wonder how having all 3 of them for days on end is going to work out?!

I should mention taking Older Son up to the Tarn to try out his new bike yesterday.  He wasn't keen on the idea - he'd been complaining that it was too big and went too fast.  By the time he'd done nearly two laps of the Tarn, including one through a woody bit, he was in love with his new bike and even cleaned it carefully when we got home.  I ran alongside him and had to push myself to keep up!  It helped that it was lovely weather as well.

Husband has said he is going to watch television and do the ironing so I shall go to join him.  I've just remembered I need to hang up the washing first though!  And the baby is crying for some reason... probably one of those not-normal-pooey nappies again....... joy.

Friday, 1 April 2011


I'm beginning to think that this blog is becoming just a series of posts about the Baby, and that perhaps that's not wildly exciting for readers - after all, loads of people have babies and go through all the things I'm going through - it's very commonplace.  I suppose not everybody writes about it and not everybody has a newborn at age 49.

Every parent feels that their children are unique and special but it doesn't mean I have to write about it.  I guess what made me think about stopping was the fact that someone had written that blogs were really just extended christmas circular letters, and I have to admit that I had been thinking along similar lines.  On the other hand for me it's also a way of keeping my 'sometimes diary' but doing so online rather than on paper: and if friends read it to catch up with what I've been up to then that's nice too.

Things are still somewhat mixed.  I haven't sung since Carlisle Festival.  I have felt low in energy and a little low emotionally, although yesterday my mood lifted a bit - despite the rain and wind.  I've been stressed about money - our mortgage payment nearly bounced - and realised that of course I was used to having a decent monthly salary and being more-or-less in charge of the household expenses: I've now had no salary for a year and looking on the job websites there's not much around either.  Having said that I can't really get my head around working at the moment: the Baby is only just 3 months old after all.

The Baby has gone to sleep so I'm going to take advantage of Husband working from home today to go out for a run while the rain has stopped.  But two things happened this week which got my woes in perspective.

Firstly, Running Friend P's step-daughter has a tumour.  She's only about 12 or 13 and fortunately it's not malign, but still it has meant a stay in hospital, a lot of worry and uncertainty, and now an operation.  It made me glad that my 3 children are healthy: and reminded me of how scared one gets when one's child is ill.  I remember only too well Daughter's hospital visits aged 4 weeks (with bronchiolitis - I was terrified but a mother with a baby son with meningitis in hospital at the same time got things in proportion that time) and then with what was basically an asthma attack at 15 months.  Both times were scarey because she was struggling to breathe, and of course the first time she was so tiny: Baby Son at 3 months is larger and more robust and, fortunately, healthier anyway.  The good thing about Daughter's second hospital visit was that it was the time that I really felt I bonded with her.  I can still see in my mind's eye this little tot walking towards in me in pyjamas and dressing gown saying, 'Mamma': it was the first time I remember her saying it (she'd said plenty of other things before, just nothing personal to me, or not that I'd noticed!).

The second thing is that Phil, a guy who worked at my former employers, has died.  He wasn't much older than me and leaves children of only 8 and 4 and a wife.  He had had a long fight against cancer a year or more ago and seemed to have beaten it, but unfortunately it came back.  Recently I didn't manage to go to visit him with ex-work friend L. as Baby had a cold and I didn't want to pass it on to someone with a low immune system, but I understand that he was very frail.  I'm glad for Phil's sake that he didn't suffer for months and months, but feel so sad for his family: and I'm sure he will also have been sad to leave them.  I would be in despair if any of my children died, but I also very much hope that I will live to see them grow up to be happy and fulfilled adults, perhaps with families of their own.

Not long after the Baby was born I heard about someone else I know whose son, aged 8 or 9, had suddenly died: they're not sure of what.  Again it made me appreciate my life.  I think your children dying is probably the worst thing that can happen to you, particularly when they're still small.  In this case the child was also apparently perfectly healthy.  Human life is so frail: and then at other times so remarkably robust.

In addition I shouldn't forget the people in Japan.  Many thousands have died in the tsunami; many have lost their homes; and now more again are scared of high levels of radioactivity in their food.  We may not have much money coming in but we have a roof over our heads, clean water, heating, possessions and our health: and 3 gorgeous, healthy children.  We also have hardly any debt, which is something to be relieved about. 

In terms of the singing, it's a good hobby to have and I'm lucky that I'm a reasonable standard.  I also need to remember, without making excuses for myself (I hope), that it's only possible for it to be a part of my life - I have a lot of other things to do - and also that I had a baby just 3 months ago, and only one lesson since early December.  I perhaps need to be less hard on myself, but I also want to be realistic.  I am never going to have a career as a singer and I completely accept that, but I would like some paid solo work.

I think another part of my worry at the moment is that I have too many options: do I try to get a freelance lifestyle going; do I start my own business; or do I just try to get a part-time surveying job?  With the tiredness from a newborn I don't feel able to think straight let alone make decisions about what I do with my life!  I'm also concerned about the fact that I'm coming up to 50, and whilst I know I may have another 20 years working life left, will employers consider that?

However, without meaning to sound 'preachy', I have a lot to be thankful for: and the recession and the restrictions on money will not last for ever.  Money always turns up from somewhere and I've always managed to find work before.  And meanwhile I must get out for that run before the Baby awakes or the rain restarts!