Day 18

Lift Chi Up, lovely long telephone call with Ann Eade, got some boring to do list stuff out of the way. The admin really does seem to go on and on at this time of the year – and I haven’t even started the tax returns yet.

Booked Kate and Dash into their chosen art classes for the summer – for the first time they will be doing two classes together so it will be interesting to see how that goes. I don’t think Dash has ever experienced Katie’s (very quiet, ultra-polite, butter-wouldn’t melt) public persona before – he might end up asking the classic question: “Who are you? And what have you done with my sister?”.

After school Katie and I walked down to the shopping centre to change the swimsuit I bought Dash yesterday and buy a new mop. Monique looked a bit startled when I said we were going to change Dash’s togs – I’m guessing it means something else in Italian!

Day 17

More rain, more Elliotts Row hassles (hopefully the last) and a minor but annoying plumbing situation. On the plus side Dash and Katie are great friends again (after a sustained period of squabbling). They appeared in the morning holding a “wishlist” for the day which included, at number 3, “Hug Mum”! I was excited to see “Tidy Up” at number 4 but when I mentioned it Katie said “Oh yeah, we decided not to do that one.”

Day 16

A tiring day. Usual Saturday logistics complicated by thunderstorm, torrential rain, the need to make an urgent trip to BHS to buy mattress covers for the new tenants, and a birthday party for Katie necessitating the purchase of a suitable gift and card, and two additional half-hour walks in the teeming bloody rain – feel like I’ve had wet feet all day. Meanwhile back at Elliotts Row to assemble the IKEA beds, Nick discovered that one of the boxes had all the fixings missing so had to go back to IKEA this evening to pick up more. I will be glad when the tenants are installed and we can get back to normal – I only hope that they are not the whinging kind. We haven’t let the place furnished before and it really does seem to be a significant amount of extra hassle.

Day 15

Lift Chi Up, long lunch with lovely friends Conrad Ryan and Phyll Buchanan, sorted out some stuff at Elliotts Row ready for new tenants to move in on Tuesday.

Dropped keys off at estate agent, which happens to be right by Borough Market, so had to pop in to buy treats for Nick and Katie (they are both fudge fiends) and got some Turkish delight for me (expensive but the real deal)

Day 14

Lift Chi Up, GP appointment, Inner Smile, sorting out details for the new tenancy at Elliotts Row.

Sports Day – Katie and her friend Agnes were the only two who didn’t drop their eggs in the egg and spoon race! Passionfruit sorbet (me) and white chocolate ice cream (Katie) at Black Vanilla on the way home. A minor crisis after dinner when Katie accidentally hurled Jake (the baby doll she has been carrying around tenderly ‘breastfeeding’ for the last 10 days) off the trampoline and into the wild part of the garden under the apple trees. She sensibly put wellies on to protect her ankles from lurking blackberry and stinging nettles and was forging into the undergrowth to rescue the unfortunate doll, when Sherlock shot past her like a small furry brown rocket and emerged moments later with the doll held gently in his little jaws. Now at that point the forces of good and evil appeared to be at war within that little brown body – he paused as if about to deliver the doll to the tearful child … then thought better of it and raced off down the garden tossing Jake as if he were prey that needed to be shaken into submission. Wails of outrage from Katie only seemed to spur him on and no amount of calling, or distraction with balls etc could tempt him to relinquish his prize. Finally I told Katie to go indoors and ostentatiously shook Sherlock’s dinner into his bowl. That did the trick and Katie nipped out of the house and grabbed the abandoned doll before Sherlock could change his mind. She then wanted to bath Jake, but since he has electrical bits I wasn’t convinced that was a good idea, so he had to make do with a sponge down with dampened kitchen towel. I don’t think he’ll ever be the same again but, on the plus side, that probably just makes him more realistic – in my experience real babies are generally a bit mucky!

I finally got a bounce on the new trampoline which was great fun though curtailed by rain – not complaining – the garden needs it.

Day 13

Lift Chi Up, followed by more urgent admin.

Went downstairs at lunchtime to discover Sherlock hadn’t eaten his breakfast and was definitely not his usual lively self. Urgent trip to the vet revealed that he has panosteitis. Not as bad as it sounds – a canine version of growing pains. £89 later, Sherlock, after a shot of onsior (a doggy NSAID) bounded homewards at full speed and scarfed down his leftover breakfast in short order. Got a few more bits and pieces done, then Katie and I walked to the village to return the 15-shaped cake tins and had coffee/milk at our favourite cafe. A couple of hours gardening then helped Nick put the new trampoline together. It was hardly assembled before Kate and Dash were on it, bouncing enthusiastically while Nick attached the safety enclosure. It’s hard to believe that less than two years ago we were still apartment-bound, gazing out on the neighbour’s roof terrace with covetous eyes – and here we are, living in this beautiful place, with so much SPACE. Feeling very lucky.

Scored £15 tickets to Great Britain at the National, starring Billie Piper. I was surprised to get an email today, offering the opportunity to buy before the general public, when the play opens on Monday – normally these offers are months in advance. But it turns out that it has been developed and rehearsed in secret as it couldn’t be publicised until the phone-hacking case was concluded. But Billie Piper definitely isn’t playing Rebekah Brooks, oh no she isn’t …

The 15-shaped cake, waiting to be iced.
The 15-shaped cake, waiting to be iced.
The 15-shaped cake.
The 15-shaped cake.
Rhodohypoxis in the front border.
Rhodohypoxis in the front border.
The roses are looking good.
The roses are looking good.


Day 12

A day which started at 5:20 a.m. (Jack was very excited about his birthday) and stayed just this side of totally frantic. Lift Chi Up, some urgent admin, downstairs to make the fifteen-shaped cake, got it in the oven just in time for it to be cooked before I had to leave for printmaking – except it is a different oven and I’ve never made it in 15-shaped tins before. A tense ten minutes when it ought to have been cooked but the skewer kept coming out dirty – then suddenly it was done with just enough time to walk very briskly to printmaking. Lino-cutting turned out to be easier and more fun than I expected and my design (of five strawberries) worked quite well. Sadly next week is the last class – it has been fun to do something completely different.

Straight from printmaking to M&S to pick up some special cakes that Jack had requested for his party, then home to discover a parcel had arrived which turned out to contain the rhodohypoxis I ordered a couple of days ago. Plants in good condition – not always the case with mail order – so I will make sure I get them planted tomorrow. I will definitely use these guys again – they have interesting plants and deliver them quickly and in good condition.

Day 11

Sports day was postponed (what did I say about the organisational abilities of Katie’s teachers?) and is now re-scheduled for Thursday, by which time it will probably be raining. Took advantage of having my afternoon back to get lots of jobs done – last minute shopping and present wrapping for Jack’s birthday tomorrow, buying nice paper for my print-making workshop, collecting the moulds for the 15-shaped cake and having my toenails painted sky blue. Didn’t do any eye exercises (sfx guilty expression), but have good intentions for tomorrow.

Day 10

Second day of vision training with Leo Angart. Way too hot to be stuck in an overcrowded training room but … Nick already needs to pick up some lower strength glasses and is confident of being able to do without completely within a couple of weeks. Noticeable improvement in my ability to read the computer menus from across the room and astigmatism completely gone after several repeats of the Tibetan Wheel exercise. Quite a knackering weekend though. I’m pleased I don’t have to work tomorrow – just attend Katie’s sports day (usually a shambles – Katie’s teachers not being known for their ability to organise their way out of a wet paper bag), wrap a big pile of presents, and make a 15-shaped cake for Jack’s birthday on Tuesday!