Wednesday, 24 August 2011


How could I forget the most important thing which happened last week?  The Baby started commando crawling!

He's also happier sitting up now, and practices jumping when he's in his high chair - we've had to start strapping him in so that he doesn't catapult out.  He makes the whole table wobble, and drinks get split.  Unfortunately he's got too fat for his door bouncer.

I wonder how many 'firsts' I missed being at work full-time when the other two were his age.....


I am now seriously short on cash.  I had my last maternity allowance payment today: £36.  I think that means I have about £20 to last me until the next child benefit payment in 3 weeks' time!

EXCEPT.... well, what can I say except that it's completely pointless trying to guess what Fate intends for you.  Having thought that perhaps I should go for a well-paid job and give up the freelance type idea, I got a phone call regarding a possible singing pupil, and the same day an email confirming a commission for an article.

The possible pupil had a trial lesson today and I think it went OK.  I hadn't ever actually received the first email commissioning an article from me, but it was confirmed that it was needed and I got £10 more agreed than I had originally suggested.  £30 for 400 words and some photos: I haven't heard yet whether the article is acceptable but fingers crossed.  I should also get paid in the next month or two for two other articles as well, which I wrote about a year ago (! magazines are SO slow!) and for which I'm getting £50 and £70 - so actually I'm not really all that poor after all.  And once the children are back at school I shall start churning out articles (I hope).  I do think that one of the things I am definitely OK at is writing: I may not like my singing voice and I may have failed with my Opera programme, but I can write.  I think.

I'm also teaching a trial aerobics class tomorrow: not sure how much that will pay if I get accepted, but again it would be a small regular amount each week - and no childcare fees.

Enough about money though!  Today I had an interview at Tullie House (the museum in Carlisle) to become a Board Member/Trustee.  It's not a remunerated post but I think would be really interesting, and fun: a view which was confirmed by my interview as I really enjoyed chatting to them.  They're seeing 17 people so goodness knows whether I'll be accepted but che sera, sera, and it was a good experience - a bit like being back at work, talking about adult things and things which I feel a bit out of touch with such as what's happening in terms of development in Carlisle city centre.

The last couple of weeks have also been great for seeing friends whom I haven't seen for a while.  Friend C from Corbridge came over last week: we always seem to end up laughing about several things; and Friend L who I've known since University came past with her two sons and husband and eldest son's girlfriend.  It was great to see them and also the first time they'd seen the baby, who they loved.  Her eldest son is going off to University soon - he'd just heard that he'd got the grades for Edinburgh to read Ancient History, which sounds fab.

My writing is not good today but I don't care for once (I'm usually quite a pedant)!

Then at the weekend GodMotherL and I went for a walk - with the children.  All 3 of them.  Oldest Son was a star and not a word of a whinge passed his lips despite the fact that he had gone paddling in a stream in Bassenthwaite before we even started off, and had soaking socks (which he removed) and wet wellies - inside and out.  Daughter wasn't quite so easy and ended up sitting on the front of the buggy: and the Baby wanted milk halfway round and then had to be carried every-so-often to stop him crying.  The walk was also not a good route for a buggy, despite being in a book of ATP routes.  There was a particularly steep and NARROW downhill section; the other bit we didn't like was where we were meant to go through a field of cows, and then through more fields - we walked straight down the road instead as I think everyone's patience with the walk route itself and generally was wearing a bit thin by then. 

What I really must do is buy a good scale map of the north lakes: we have Brampton & Hadrian's Wall along to Haltwhistle or so; and we have the South Lakes or S-E lakes; we also have the Lakeland 100 maps (which are quite detailed) and the Coast to coast - but nothing which had Bassenthwaite on.  However on a positive note the rain held off until we were sitting by the stream having our picnic when we got back to the cars.

All is very quiet in the house, like the night before Christmas.  Time for me to go to bed.

Sunday, 14 August 2011


I've been wondering how on earth to get more flowers on plants in my garden recently: how even to get things planted as seeds to come up at all.  I have come to the conclusion that the soil is not fertile enough, having been hidden under shrubs for years and years and doubtless never fed.

My Father in Law and God Mother M had various suggestions, peat-based compost being a complete no-no.  Bone meal or something was one suggestion; my parents stated that they had stacks of compost, but quite how they'll get it up to Cumbria I'm not sure.  Then it struck me that we had something far more useful close to hand (though it will need covering with top soil - which isn't a problem as I want to raise some of the levels anyway); something free and in regular supply.  Ferret poo.  And, as our ferrets have a very high quality diet (remains of roast beef; yorkshire pudding; custard) doubtless their poo will be high quality too.  So... next time Husband cleans their hutch out (and leaves the straw and droppings in a bucket for several days), they are going on the garden.

I'm optimistic that our garden will eventually be as fertile as the patch of grass where the pond used to be.

I'm also optimistic that if I get a job it won't then cost a huge amount to get someone in to set up my raised vegetable beds, do some weeding, and move the paving stones from the back to the side, thus finalising, for now, the layout of the garden.  What I also want someone to suggest is how I get the 6' high stinging nettles out of the ferret run.....

Talking of runs, I went for a run in Gelt Woods today, for the first time in getting on for two years.  It had even changed a bit: Hayton High Estate and Edmond Castle Estate have fenced off lots of their land, but it had the advantage of making the footpaths wider and also there weren't any stiles to climb over.  Then, when we got to the quarry, we found the footpath had also been widened and moved there.  My running companion and I decided that the changes were probably for the best.

It took us 3 or 4 minutes longer than usual to get to the railway viaduct at Middle Gelt Bridge, but at least that provides a base on which to improve, and generally I was running quite well and felt fitter than I had anticipated feeling.  We arranged to go again next weekend, and to make it a regular weekly outing if we can.  It would be great if I was going to the gym Tuesdays and Fridays and running on a Sunday: getting a job could limit that but on the other hand I do also need to earn some money.

Husband is busy doing the ironing and I've done the washing, washing up, baby's bottles etc.: so while he's occupied with that I'm going to bed to start re-reading Axel Munthe's The Story of San Michele, which I haven't read since I was in my late teens/early twenties.  I wonder if I'll enjoy it as much now?

Saturday, 13 August 2011


I love the John Lennon quotation 'life is what happens while you are busy making other plans'.  For me that has always indicated a certain amount of 'accident' in life; and emailing a friend this evening reminded me of that again.

My best 'accident'

I've always felt - and this has probably been clear from my blog posts - that a lot of life happens by accident, or Fate.  We take one step in one direction and suddenly find we are heading off down a road which we never expected to be heading down: quite often with no map.  In fact, in my experience if one tries to follow a particular route too strictly, without being tempted by detours to right or left, then it doesn't normally turn out quite the way one expects - or at least, isn't quite as exciting as one expected anyway.  Perhaps it's fear of being let down or of not succeeding, but I feel that adhering too firmly to any one goal - particularly one that is a long way ahead - is always a let-down.  I was completely sold on the idea of being an opera singer at one point: not only was the goal unrealistic, but accepting that was emotionally hard and left a void in my life.  On the other hand I was never 'desperate' to have children - in fact I had come to the conclusion that I was too old to have any - and I somehow have ended up with three.  And career-wise I've tended to apply for jobs because I just fancy them rather than with any particularly clear career goal in mind.

I think I've also learnt over the past year or so that it's no good trying to read Fate into things either: she doesn't show her cards that readily and it's only with hindsight that her hand becomes clear.  I was thinking that Fate might be pushing me in the direction of writing, presenting and music (broadly): that does not now seem to be happening, although I shall still make some more laid-back efforts in that direction.  Perhaps I've had my 15 minutes of fame: the Radio and newspaper coverage about my third pregnancy was a surprise to me and perhaps that is now all over.  Fame certainly does not seem to be a goal you can chase.

Having said that, I haven't had a huge amount of luck applying for surveying/property jobs recently either.  On the other hand there aren't many around and at least I have 20-odd years' pretty varied experience. I will have to make efforts to get one and part of me has a fear that my age and the fact that I want part-time work will count against me: but I'm also conscious that I need to try to remain positive and optimistic.  Something else I've always had a belief in is the power of positive thinking: I think it was Jane Fonda who said 'you can take anything in life and concentrate on the negative, but the positive beauty of it can change your life'.  I've probably quoted that in this blog before as I love it so much.

I felt negative today.  I'm tired as I've been staying up late reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.  I nearly put it to one side during the first chapter as initially I didn't think I was going to like the writing style: by Chapter Two I was completely hooked.  It was really interesting to read more about Afghanistan, having read that other book about a more recent Afghan past, which was about women: this takes place partly prior to the Taliban and concentrates more on two boys growing up at first, than on the political background: which of course is exactly how the boys would have perceived their lives.  As an aside, I've been trying to get Older Son to do a project on the Second World War - he hasn't been very interested despite the fact that I've been trying to get him to look at it through the eyes of people who would have been his age (roughly) throughout the war, i.e. his grandparents - so I've decided that I'm going to start a second blog about it myself.  A side-effect of reading the book has been that it made me realise that Afghanistan, like so many other places in the middle and far east (Lebanon?) must once have been a beautiful place rather than a war-torn desert.

As well as sitting up late reading and hence being tired (due to also being woken up early: I'd never make a farmer or a dog-owner) I've also got rejected for a job (because I didn't have the right experience and another candidate did, which is fair enough); had my opera programme rejected by Radio Cumbria (also fair enough: I knew it wasn't good enough and they said it would take too much training to get me/it to the right standard, especially with cuts in expenditure); and feel worried about the Baby's reticular testicles which Husband thinks are fine but I know that they've been more up than down the last few weeks - I shall phone the Doctor on Monday.  I also worry about his weight and am annoyed with myself for not losing any more weight myself (I ought to try on some work trousers to see whether I can actually get into them).  Whilst I feel fitter my heart rate monitor at the gym seems to indicate that I'm not.  At very nearly 50 I'm not meant to be exercising at the heart rate I was exercising at 10 years ago: and at one point yesterday it seemed to be rather leaping around, suddenly dropping and then increasing again.

However I'm going for a run outside tomorrow, which I'm looking forward to, especially as the forecast is no longer for rain.   I shall have to make myself run or cycle or swim in the evenings this week as I won't get my two gym sessions in: the Older Son and Daughter have a swimming lesson every morning in an attempt to get them both to swim properly without armbands, and I think I'll book them in for another week later on in the holidays as well.  I'm determined to get them swimming properly: it's maybe something else which I shouldn't try too hard with, as it'll happen when they want it to rather than when I think it should.  Ditto the Baby's crawling (he is now sitting quite nicely, though he's still a bit inclined to lean over one way or the other and end up flat on the floor).

How does one get the balance between drive - taking the step on the road and then keeping going rather than giving up at the first hurdle? - and being open to new opportunities and ideas?  I don't know.  I shall just finish with some other quotations of John Lennon's I rather liked, from a website I found through a search engine -   So here is JL again:

"Part of me suspects that I'm a loser, and the other part of me thinks I'm God Almighty".
I like this one as it reminds me of me. Sometimes I think I'm a failure: other times I'm incredibly pleased with myself.

"You don't need anybody to tell you who you are or what you are. You are what you are!"
What a boost to your self-assurance, if you allow it to be.

Thursday, 4 August 2011


I've had a productive couple of days.  Yesterday the Baby slept for 3 and a half hours and I finally got around to doing some writing I'd been meaning to do for ages, as well as starting to do some research for another article idea I've had.  Today the In-Laws have been in this morning with the older two children, so Mother-in-Law was dealing with the Baby while I did cooking and housewifely stuff.  I have made more new purees for the Baby, hung up a load of washing, started tracking down a replacement part for the car, and made fairy cakes with Daughter.

They have now gone out to the aircraft museum and the Baby has fallen asleep again, giving me time to decorate the cakes (Daughter will be disappointed not to be involved: I forgot that the icing needed to be wet to stick the flowers on.  Eating cake should be some compensation however), finish his mixed vegetable and cheese sauce puree (which tastes delicious: it's even made me think briefly about becoming vegetarian.  He has such tasty purees.  I guess pureed food would become tedious after a while however: for him it's still exciting as it wasn't that long ago that his diet consisted solely of milk) and done the washing up.

While washing up I was thinking about the interview I have next week, for a surveying job.  Perhaps my yen for freelance fame and fortune via writing and broadcasting will come to nothing: perhaps it was never meant to be, however much fate seems at times to be pushing me in that direction (Fate was maybe just teasing me).  But I then remembered that saying 'if anyone has breathed easier because I have lived, I have succeeded'.  I've misquoted dreadfully but it's a quotation which always struck a chord with me.  Similarly, if my only claim to fame and success is bearing and bringing up three gorgeous children - and if they become decent, happy adults - then I will also have succeeded.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011


I am not SuperWoman.  I did two 'fitness tests' on  machines in the gym - no, I lie, I did 3 as I tried a third and lied about my age - and they all said my VO2 max. was low.  In fact I'm still lying as one said 'very low'. 

I have also now heard myself singing and I didn't like what I heard.  Well, it was OK but that was all.  I am never going to be a world talent: not that I ever thought I would be, but one likes to dream of a certain amount of success.


I'm not sure much credence can be given to VO2 max. figures from machines in the gym.  I felt fit and strong, even if they didn't say I was, and I know I have good lung capacity from having it tested before.  I also know that my recovery rate is good.  I do still try to exercise at the heart rate I exercised at 10 years ago: but then, what effect does having a late pregnancy have on one's body?

And regarding the singing, there are people around who like my singing, even if I don't.  In addition, it was never going to become a career for me as it's just too late.  15 or even 10 years ago, perhaps - just about - but not now.  But hearing myself has also made me question whether I really am a soprano, or am perhaps a mezzo-soprano, which I have been wondering for a while.  Something to explore further I think.

Older Son was hilarious this evening.  I was down-loading photos from my camera onto the disc drive, or whatever it's called, and came across two which I hadn't taken.  The first was of two of his toys (and quite a good one): the second was a very close-up shot of him, looking slightly cross-eyed, in my study....  he has been told not to go in my study (to be the Baby's bedroom) and not to use my camera......  Husband and I pretended to be cross but I was laughing so much I had tears running down my face.  Older Son was crying real tears, the daft child.

Husband is now walking slightly more normally and fluidly than he was yesterday after his mammoth run, and said that stairs were easier this morning.  A somewhat quicker recovery after 50 miles than mine after 8 miles.  The label 'SuperWoman' will have to wait.