Sunday, 31 July 2011


I can't see the top of the nearby hill at the moment, it's so shrouded in mist and rain.  A complete contrast from yesterday which was so hot and sunny I got prickly heat (or whatever it's called) all over my arms and today looked as if I had the beginnings of a rather nasty case of ezcema.

Fortunately the rain only started early this evening and so GodMother L. and I were able this morning to do the Dodds Wood walk we had for ages been promising each other we would.  This is a walk which is in my 'walks with buggies' book and whilst it said 20 minutes of very steep uphill followed by 25 minutes of very strenuous uphill and introduced the walk with the doom-laden words 'you have been warned', I didn't really believe them.  After all, just how difficult can pushing an off-road buggy up a relatively smooth path be, even if it is uphill?

With Lumpkin the Baby in it, quite hard.  So much for the dictate of 'stay upright and keep your stomach pulled in'.  Ha!  At times my chin was down on the handlebar and I was walking on tiptoes.  I very kindly let GML have a go at one point and I have to admit that walking the dog was a lot easier.  It took me quite a while to let her have a go though, as being my usual competitive self (even with myself, or with a hill) I was determined to show no weakness and to get all the way to the top.... but it was hard work!  I was rewarded however by GML saying that I must be fit.  I immediately took this to mean that I was SuperWoman (well, I'll be a SuperVet in triathlon terms this year) - hence the title of the blog.  I'm definitely no Domestic Goddess but SuperWoman... well, that sounds pretty good....!

On a serious note I am in fact always a little surprised when people comment about how inspiring or amazing I am.  There were a few comments along those lines in birthday cards I had for my 40th, and I now have little idea why: it may have been that I was pretty fit at that point and that I've been lucky enough that most people think I'm younger than my age (thank you, hair dye).  Nowadays it seems to be connected with the fact that I've had all my children in my 40s, including the Baby at 49, and I have to admit to being quite proud of myself and especially proud of the fact that I then ran 8 miles round Loch Muick the other day (despite the stair slide).  Is being proud of myself big-headed?  I hope not: I think rather it's more an indication that I often question my own abilities and am in fact quite critical of myself, so I'm always rather pleased when people compliment me.  Correction: I'm always extremely pleased when people compliment me.  I love compliments.  I commented the other day that Daughter had a good school report because she gets lots of attention and so long as she continues to get attention and praise she'll continue to do well.  I know where she gets that from: and in fact isn't it a proven psychological point that people perform better when praised; and that babies and children behave badly, half the time, for attention?

But to finish the walk at Dodd Woods.  Having gone up, up and up we then walked along a wide and easy forest track, past the Osprey view point and a man-made 'Osprey nest' (to which we were invited to donate a stick.  Goodness, those birds are HUGE) and back through the woods to the Old Sawmill Tea Room (  I was particularly impressed that while the lady was clearing the table she offered to wash the Baby's lunch bowl and spoon for him: it came back not just rinsed but properly clean.  No spinach and fish mash in my bag!  What fantastic service.  GML and I also patted ourselves on the back for doing a walk advertised in my book as 'allow at least 3 hours' in under 2 hours.

Rather shorter a time than Husband's run yesterday.  He did the Lakeland 50 ( in 14 hours and 3 minutes.  He had been hoping for under 14 hours, but bearing in mind that it was really hot yesterday and that people were throwing up all along the route, and that about one fifth of the 50-milers dropped out, he did extremely well.  In addition he was 127th so I think just in the top third.  It was a lot busier than it has been for the past 2 years and is obviously becoming very popular in the Ultra-Marathon calendar.  It takes a lot of self-discipline in terms of training to run that far well, and a lot of determination to keep going.  Madness though...

Talking of which, he is downstairs asleep and the Outlaws are staying and will want the bed back, so I need to go to wake him and Older Son (who camped at the end at Coniston with Grandad and waited for Husband) and Daughter, and make sure they all get into the right beds.

Thursday, 28 July 2011


I hung the rain out on the line today and then took the car to the car wash after the children's swimming lesson.  It began to rain as we drove home.  I knew it would.  It held off long enough to bring the almost-dry washing in, but it was so hot and sunny driving home from Scotland yesterday that I had shorts and a tee-shirt on today and had spoken to the children about getting the (new) paddling pool out and washing the car ourselves.

They did in fact think that going to the car wash - one of those ones where the car is on a sort of rack which moves it forward - was far more exciting than cleaning it themselves, comparing going through the car wash to going through a waterfall or a storm.  And I have to admit that washing the car isn't really my idea of a useful way of wasting my time: it's not as if it costs that much to get done, and I did at least hoover it out myself and clean the inside not too long ago.  I was in fact too embarrassed to take it to be valeted, the inside was so disgusting, what with the remains of children's breakfasts taken en route to dropping Husband off at work before taking them to school, pieces of Lego, sundry small items such as hairclips (pink, of course), pencils (pink or purple, generally), and bits of wrappers which Daughter (generally) hasn't managed to open in one piece.

Does anyone who has children have a clean car?  I felt somewhat relieved the other week when the children complained that not only the car but the house of some friends of theirs smelt, and that the car was far dirtier than ours.  Does everybody with children find themselves fighting an ever-losing battle against dirt of various varieties, small toys and bits of toys lying around in places they have no right to be, a never-ending pile of washing (or ironing if by any chance the washing basket is temporarily almost empty), and not enough time to do it?  Or rather, not enough time to do it as well as doing some of the more sanity-enhancing things such as work or trying to work (e.g. writing), gardening (hmm... well... it's sanity-enhancing in that one is out in the fresh air and doing something relatively physical) and keeping fit?  Optimistically I had asked if I could swim myself while the children were in their lesson today, as I didn't have the Baby with me: the answer was that I couldn't really in case one of them needed the toilet during their lesson, which was fair enough.  How old do they have to be before I can just dump them at their lesson and go off?  I quite often wait in the reception area anyway as the Baby gets too hot in the viewing area, but I suppose really I should stay within calling range.

Nobody has phoned me about singing lessons but I'm hoping it's just because it's the summer holidays.  Radio Cumbria hasn't phoned me in a positive or a negative way about my demo programme about opera, and I'm unsure whether to chase them up or not (what if they say it was rubbish?).  And as usual there are several magazines to whom I have submitted pieces and from whom I have heard nothing.  A rejection would be better than silence as then I'd know that I could submit them to other periodicals: after all there are stacks of magazines out there so there must be opportunities to get paid for writing articles, it's just a matter of finding out for whom.

We have also not won anything in the numerous competitions I've entered over the past year or so, and we could do with a new cooker as a minimum at the moment and preferably a new TV as well: the other day we suddenly had a powercut and with hindsight I realised it was because the cooker had blown.  I guess maybe it's just a fuse though Husband couldn't see how to get to the fuse and thought it might be the fan, as everything is happening except heat.  No roasts for us for a while, though we still have the microwave which is a combi oven.  The top oven/grill also works after a manner of speaking: I tried to repair the door not long after we moved in and having repaired the back found I'd then broken the front, so it's not insulating properly.  The TV ticks on but you have to allow about 10 or 15 minutes for the picture to appear.  It's almost like having one of those very old televisions which took some time to warm up.  It was quite bizarre being in Scotland and finding that when you pressed the 'on' button, a complete, clear picture was there straight away.

I'm quite sure we are going to have some mammoth stroke of luck soon and that we'll start winning competitions and that some work will come my way.  Meanwhile if anyone hears of anyone who wants singing lessons or of any competitions to win kitchens, appliances, home makeovers etc., then point them in my direction.  I shall keep trying: and after all you hear of people who almost make a living from entering competitions (I imagine they put rather more time, effort and money into it than I do: I tend only to enter ones which are free to enter, although I did go to Waitrose at Hexham the other week in order to purchase some clothes washing liquid for a competition).

On a complete tangent, I had another thought about children the other day.  I wondered if the more children there are in a family, the more confident they are.  After all the more siblings they have to compete with the more they have to stand up for themselves.  Daughter is extremely extrovert and confident and the Baby is showing signs of being much the same, though I know it's early days.  Older Son is somewhat more sensitive and quieter and could do with learning to stand up for himself a bit more.  Obviously a lot of it's down to character, but if Older Son had been an only child perhaps learning to stand up for himself would be a lot harder, learnt only via the school playground?  Who knows: you can never really say as it's difficult to separate character from environment or nature from nurture anyway.

Meanwhile I have a blog to recommend to you all, which promises to be quite funny: - one woman's search for her Mr Darcey.  And for any woman who moved somewhere relatively rural and remote for her husband's career, is to be recommended: especially the book.  And as I can't think how else to finish, at least not in a punchy conclusive style, I shall leave you with a photograph from my 8-mile run round Loch Muick (yes, the one which resulted in such stiff legs that I slid down the stairs while telling Daughter to put her pants on).  This is near the beginning of the run when the top of the Loch, the halfway point, is still ahead of you.

Monday, 25 July 2011


Life plods on in the same way: except this week we're in Scotland and yesterday I ran round Loch Muick.  Today I fell down the stairs as my legs were stiff....

Just over a year ago I blogged about a walk I went on near Loch Muick when I was about 8 weeks pregnant.  Now the Baby is here and large as life - in fact with his love of food, larger than life - and close to beginning to crawl.  Today he got lifted himself right up on his hands, arms straightened out: this is in contrast to the last few weeks when he has got his knees underneath him but his nose has dived on to the floor.  Life, as far as the Baby is concerned, gets funnier and funnier and more and more interesting.  Much as he loves people, he is also very nosey and if bunting is fluttering in the breeze he'll be transfixed by that rather than giggling at the silly faces people make at him.  He seems to think my singing is especially funny...

But back to the run and the stiff legs.  This was the first run I had done in ages and ages.  I think I have done about 4 runs since having the Baby, all of about 3 or 4 miles and with plenty of stops.  If it wasn't for the fact that I have been going to the gym once a week and to a spinning class followed by pilates mostly once a week, I wouldn't have dared attempt a run round a Loch where the only option is always to go forward (there are no short cuts.  If you want to get back, you either retrace your steps or keep going.  Nor is there any opportunity for someone to come to fetch you by car).  Apart from a few short bits of walking, I ran, and Husband and I got round in about an hour and 20 minutes - so not even too bad a time.  However my knees were telling me I had run further than I had for a while, and this morning when I woke up my quads weren't too happy about going down stairs. 

They'd already had a few practice runs when I stopped halfway down on one trip to tell Daughter - who was standing at the top of the stairs - to put her pants on.  Next thing I knew I was slipping and my legs wouldn't move into the right position to stop me.  Whilst I like to make it sound dramatic, it was more of a slip than a fall and apart from a bit of temporary carpet burn on my elbows I wasn't injured.  The older two children were a bit surprised though: Older Son was standing on the same step as I was initially and was a bit concerned to see me suddenly start to disappear from view.

We're off out this evening, leaving the two children and baby with their three cousins of about the same age and in the care of two grandparents.  I'm not convinced it's wise, as much for the Grandparents' sanity as anything, but we will only be 15 minutes away by car, and I'll try to get the Baby settled in bed before we go.

Husband is champing at the bit to get back on the computer and any moment now the two older children will get back from their Uncle and Aunt's, where they have been busy making, and no doubt eating, cake.  What with high sugar levels and seeing their cousins, life in this house this evening will be gloriously calm.  Not.

Thursday, 14 July 2011


This Domestic Goddess has definitely fallen to earth: with a rather large thump.  I guess it's partly that Baby Massage Friend E. is researching 'migratory women' and it's made me think even more about my role in the family, and how my life has changed and where I'm going (if anywhere).  Her conclusion so far seems mostly to be that migration within the UK does not affect a woman's career so much as having children does, which tallies neatly with my writing to my Ante-Natal Friends in Bristol when I first moved up here and saying that my career was looking pretty dire, but that having children probably killed it anyway.

I really think one of the main problems is trying to get a new job on a part-time basis at a reasonably senior level: if you can stay with the firm you're already with when you have your children then often it seems they'll be flexible; but going somewhere new is a bit trickier.  Then of course you have the problem that if you apply for jobs which are more junior (but which still pay enough to cover childcare and some - as otherwise it's just not worth doing) they wonder why you're applying for something you're over-qualified for, and wonder how long you'll stick to it and whether you're going to be horrendously bolshie and difficult to manage (which some people think I am).  In my case I think this is probably exacerbated by the fact that I'm coming up to 50 and at that sort of age when you've been in a senior position previously, people wonder how long you'll stick to it... etc.  And of course in some ways they have a point as if you spot something better and are lucky enough to get it, then of course you'll move on.

But back to the Domestic Goddess point.  I hate housework (minus points in terms of being a Domestic Goddess) but don't count cooking as a chore but as creative - unless I'm trying to do it when the Baby is crying with frustration, as this evening, and the Older Children are asking where their tea is.  I am currently making an apricot caramel ice cream, which fills me with excited anticipation as I think it could be rather tasty.  But that's making something and often extemporising by improving upon a recipe, and the only chore is the necessary evil of washing up.  Anything else seems to me sheer drudgery and also I tend to think I'm just too intelligent to waste hours of my life doing cleaning and such like.  The problem is one of character, however: personally I don't like the house being dirty and I hate clutter.  You know the Feng Shui thing about an uncluttered house leading to an uncluttered mind?  That is exactly how I feel.  In fact I blame the clutter and untidiness for the fact that for the last few days I have felt as if I didn't know where to start in terms of all my 'jobs'.  By the way, I have some satisfaction though in that I have, having put the ice cream on to churn, just nipped out and weed-killered some of the nasty weeds including, importantly, the next door wilderness ones which were threatening to migrate on to my rockery/bee garden. 

I also do that classic woman thing of getting fed up with Husband and resentful as I feel I do the majority of the housework.  This evening he ran home from work and got home at about 7p.m., just as I was getting the Baby out of the bath and in time for his dinner to be put on the table.  I then put the Baby to bed and started doing 'stuff' around the kitchen, only then to find out he was sitting watching TV.  He did then start the ironing, but came through 40 minutes later saying he'd done an hour and was 'going out' (playing on the computer in some make-believe place).  I told him what I thought.

I know I shall feel far better when I've done some potentially saleable writing: I woke up with an idea for an article this morning, had another idea later on, and have got three or four potential interviews going around in my head.  Unfortunately due to the Feng Shui personality I can't sit down and write unless I have a good hour or so clear and I'm not thinking about all the other things which need doing.

Husband did finally drop my demo CD off to Radio Cumbria for me today.  I think there is far too much talking at the beginning which is rather boring, and Steve noticeably did not say that it was great, so I'm not feeling too optimistic.  I did however make the note in my covering letter that I'd want to redo it, having heard it.  There's the nub: I don't want to call myself a Domestic Goddess or a Housewife but a Broadcaster, Singer, Writer, Voiceover Artist, Teacher... and Triathlete.  And I've just realised that I haven't even mentioned 'Surveyor' in there!  Some surveying lecturing would still not come amiss, or better still being able to present some property programmes on TV.  I think freelancing perhaps just takes some time to get going, and that unless you're in the field and given some contracts early on, that that's just the way it goes.  I bet many another woman who decided to follow a freelance career or set up her own business after having children found the same: after all, if you're changing career to fit around children your hours are necessarily shorter.  I guess I'm starting a business really, the business of selling myself.  The only way round it is to go to bed really late, but I'm too bad-tempered if I do that.

That's my rant for today and the ice-cream should be about ready to go in the freezer, so this very Human-not-Domestic-Goddess is going to go to sort out the ice cream and then go to bed.


I think I may have hit crisis point.

I have screamed (literally - my throat is now sore - goodness knows whether I'll be able to sing today.  I remember my disastrous singing lesson after yelling at Daughter); yelled at the Baby and not only stamped my feet but jumped up and down.  Several times.  Meanwhile the Baby didn't agree with my assessment that he should be asleep so was crying and crying and crying and going red in the face.  When I picked him up he stopped crying immediately and snuggled against me but did make some little high-pitched cries as if in pain.  Tears flooded down my face, I felt such a louse.

So I'm writing this with one hand while he bounces on my lap, in danger of bouncing just a bit too vigorously or with too big a wiggle and falling to the floor.  Meanwhile I really must pack the others' swimming stuff and I feel frustrated at having done no 'potentially for money' writing at all, despite having had several ideas for several weeks.

The betting is on that he'll fall asleep in the car: too late for me.  He's now got bored here as well so I'd better stop...

Monday, 11 July 2011


I finally got around to tackling some of the weeds yesterday.  The rockery/bee garden border, of which I was so proud, had some mammoth stinging nettles threatening to take it over, along with various other less nasty weeds.  However upon tackling the problem (though under the apple tree still looks as if it has never been cultivated) I found to my delight that the alpines I planted last year have settled in well and are spreading nicely, and that even a few of the seeds I planted have started to come up.  The latter makes a pleasant change as most seeds I have planted have done nothing.

Despite wearing gloves I was still stung in several places on my hands, which along with ezcema on my fingers means that my fingers don't look or feel that great.   A minor irritation which will pass though.  Likewise the spread of lego over the floor of Older Son's bedroom, which to bare feet is not comfortable.

The older two have decided to have a 'sleepover' in his bunk bed this evening but it's rapidly changing from tranquillity and co-operation to cries of 'ouch', the music being turned up more loudly, and a general crescendo in the atmosphere - or should that be a decrescendo into chaos.  Time they went to their separate beds and to sleep I think, though it's nice when they join forces rather than squabbling.  The downside of it is that this evening it's been triggered by my being particularly annoyed with them as I made the mistake of letting them have a bath together, with the result that the bathroom was, basically, flooded.  There was even water on the mirror on the other side of the room, water which had then dripped down on to the books standing underneath.  This explains why I found one of the books with its pages stuck together the other day as if it had fallen in the bath.....

You may ask why I didn't stop all of this, and it's for the simple reason that the baby was yelling his head off.  He was hungry (well, the way he was crying you'd think he was starving) and tired so I gave him his 'Goodnight Milk' and by 7p.m. he was asleep.

That's the children and the garden.  Husband has just run home from work again as he is doing the Lakeland 50 for the third time in a couple of weeks (just after the end of term.  Will I cope with 6 or 7 weeks of dealing with 2 bouncy children and a baby?).  And me?  Well, I didn't get short-listed for a job as I didn't have enough rural or agricultural surveying experience but I had what I thought was a brainwave - I could teach singing.  I must also arrange to teach an aerobics class each week; and two articles are being published soon which is a good start.  For both it's about a year since I first drafted them, so I must get on with writing more in the hope that in about a year's time I may be a little more established.  I also need to write a chapter of a book to submit to a publisher (I'm hoping to do that this evening after some singing practice), my demo CDs will be done soon, and I've got my demo programme back from the BBC producer I know to submit to the Senior bod at Radio Cumbria.  It all takes time but I'm sure with perserverance will pay off: I remember when I did my TV presenting course they said it's the people who give up trying who get nowhere.

It's getting on for 8p.m. and those children are still running around: time to go to do some shouting, followed by some singing practice.  I must endeavour not to shout so loud that I lose my voice: something I did last year just before a singing lesson.  I couldn't sing properly!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011


The Baby was christened on Sunday.  The weather was fantastic and he behaved beautifully.  Husband made a cake and also decorated some cup cakes I had made: his years of painting lead figures have come to fruition in cake decoration.

The Baby looked lovely in a John Lewis cream linen trousers and shirt and pale blue tank top.  I'm not usually very keen on tank tops but babies and children can get away with all sorts of sartorial weirdness which the rest of us can't.  Daughter has been known to wear strange combinations of red and pink, leggings, shorts and skirts... her lack of self-consciousness is rather appealing and I wish I had the confidence to wear whatever I loved in my wardrobe in the morning when I woke up.  I guess it wouldn't have helped career-wise though.

Following the service at Hayton Church people came back for cake and fizzy wine followed by a barbecue.  It was the first time we've ever had the weather to have a party in our garden: and also the first time we've had a large enough lawn, now the new lawn is more-or-less established and most evidence of the pond has been destroyed.  The one indicator remaining  is that the grass is particularly verdant in the rough area of the former pond hole, due to the fact that we used it as a compost heap for some time and then burnt everything.

The service was perfect as well.  Edward the vicar gave a sermon about children, and how they are not the extremes of the devil incarnate whose wills must be subdued nor are they perfect little angels.  I hope and think that I have never expected either extreme from my children: I've always thought it was rather sad when people talk about newborn babies being manipulative, for example.  They do what comes naturally in order for them to get their needs fulfilled.  I'm also very conscious of not wanting to break their wills: sometimes it feels as if I'm trying to do so with Daughter as she can be so very strong-willed and at times persistently and deliberately disobedient, but I love her spirit and her independence and only hope I can bring her up to channel that correctly and in such a way that she retains her incredible sense of self-worth.  As one of the Mums at school said once, the things that drive you up the wall most about your children are also characteristics that you would not wish to change.

The day felt as if it was a way of welcoming the Baby formally to the world, and at 6 months at an age where he had some appreciation that something special was going on.  He laughed when the Vicar splashed his head with the water and was generally happy.  I think he knew that all this fuss and all these people were here to see him.  As one of his godmothers said, he was a star.  I felt very proud and very happy.

As Scotland Nanny and Grandad then stayed on, after school on Monday we all went down to the River Irthing at Lanercost with a picnic tea and the dingy.  The older two children had a fantastic time rowing upriver with Grandad and splashing around in the water.  The temperature got up to 28 degrees (centigrade): very hot for Cumbria and in fact a bit too hot for the Baby at times.  But the warm sunny weather meant that the whole extended weekend felt like a holiday.  Back to job-hunting and trying to create some work for myself now!