My slippers, telly and wine are due at 6:02

A British bank is run by delinquents
A British home requires nothing less

Tradition, discipline and rules are just for fools
Without them – disorder! Chocolate! Humous!
Oh yes, we have a ghastly mess!

It’s 6:03 and the heirs to my dominion
Are caked in mess and inadequately fed
And so I’ll pat them on the head
And take myself to bed
Ah, Lordly is the life I lead!


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This woman’s work

Jubilations! I’m typing from the far land of Spare Oom where eternal summer reigns around the bright city of War Drobe. Now that the kidbots are upstairs, James’s little bedroom has commenced its journey back to officehood/man-cave. (G has successfully bagsied it by installing musical instruments and amps and speakers and other such devices amid its farm animal-themed walls)

The important thing is that the builders have gone – hooray!! And, overall, I’m feeling really pleased with the way everything has turned out. I’ve made myself busy in the week with decorating and reorganising and slowly getting the flat back to a relatively peaceful state. (Except for the kitchen, which we shall not mention)

The hallway is currently crisp and white…


Enjoy it while it lasts. Next week I expect it to be dappled and smeared with snot/crayon/food and other lovely substances. But for now it s a blank canvas from which to consider what to do with it.

Also, three years later than planned, I’ve finally got round to painting the living room. The chimney breast is now slate blue and I really love it. I’ve painted the rest in a gorgeous, but slightly less gutsy, shade of chalky blue …but I reckon more slate might be required.

Dare I say it, after all our moaning, we’re actually starting to enjoy having new doors all over the place, especially as we can now easily keep Hubble in the living room or out of the kitchen.

But the loft room is the real kick for me. I’m so pleased with it and we all seem to gravitate up there. Even the cats!

On their first night upstairs, the boybot turned up beside my bed at 4am claiming “Mummy, my new bedroom is giving me nightmares” and I had to lug him back to bed, at which point Hubble woke up and thought it was playtime and started popping her grinning head over the cot side and saying “boo!” (Groan) But the second night was plain sailing and they’ve been up there for over a week now with no mishaps. Hubble has had an astonishingly smooth transition from our bed to her cot upstairs – and I heard James telling his playdate the other day “My new bedroom is the best room in the whole house!”  Bless.

It’s so much easier putting them to bed at the same time now. I can sit in the chair between their beds and read endless chapters to the boy while Hubble chatters away and holds onto my arm with a grip of steel. I just wish I could stop her from springing awake like a jack-in-the-box every time I try to tiptoe out of the room. Annoyingly her shutdown mechanism is still set to 9pm, so I must remind nursery about not letting her nap too late in the day.

Much to Jimmy’s delight, Harriet has migrated upstairs with him and remains his devoted bed-buddy. She turns up promptly at storytime and sleeps for most of the night by his feet.


During the past week their gloriously empty, spacious room has been filling up with furniture and toys. It’s rapidly losing its serenity but, compared with James’s tiny room downstairs, it’s still like a football pitch – with so much light and playing space.


Hubble’s new hobby is throwing things from one end of the room to the other and ferreting about in toy drawers until she finds something with which she can scribble on books. (Arg!)  Meanwhile James has taken up the pursuit of turning ever-more-enormous cardboard boxes into wearable monsters. We made a deal with him that each new box-creature gets to live for a week before heading off to recycling… but, just like anyone on death row, they keep applying for extensions. And these judges are weak.


Their new wardrobes arrived last Tue and I was able to watch them being installed from my desk at work, courtesy of the internet spy gadge installed by G. The most pleasing thing is that they fit perfectly into the sloping alcove – hooray!


The least pleasing thing is that the pair of gorillas that we paid £20 to lug them up the stairs took chunks out of our gorgeous new wall before grunting that they wouldn’t fit up the stairs and leaving them in the living room… so G had to dismantle them and reassemble them upstairs. Grr.

After some head scratching, I’ve managed to cram everything into them by using the cunning ploy of throwing away half of the kids’ clothes. Behold the organisation…


Those drawers are pretty tiny – each is only big enough to hold one child’s socks or pants or tights. But it does the job.

Toy storage is, er… still a work in progress. At the moment I’ve shoved what I can into underbed baskets and the rest seem to be breeding in corners around the room. And that’s before we empty the storage unit (double groan).

Soft toys in particular are getting out of hand…


Ooh, but my planned window bookcase/bench thing is going ahead. After a great deal of checking and measuring and re-measuring, I’ve placed an order with Jali and now I have to wait weeks for a custom-made flat-pack to wing its way over here… and then I’ll have to build it and paint it. And …er, find a miraculous way to stop Hubble from scribbling on the entire contents as soon as it’s installed.

Annoyingly our new stair carpet is still ages away. We’ve chosen it and paid for it but the fitter can’t do it until late October. Tsk! Amazon Prime has totally ruined me. I hate waiting for things. I want it now! (And I want a pony).

So…. we are totally out of dosh now. Fingers crossed it was money well spent. The world continues to insist on alerting us to horrible problems that we are supposed to fix…  like replacing the roof above the kitchen, and fixing leaky guttering and leaking radiators.  But I am sticking my fingers in my ears and humming.

I don’t wanna!*  

*However tempting it may be to tell our downstairs neighbours that we need to put scaffolding back up, in order to fix the roof. *evil cackle*



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There’s a club if you’d like to go

Microbe told me on Monday that he went to a lunchtime club called Technokids, even though I didn’t enrol him on it. I guess school didn’t get the memo.

Last year he was the only reception kid who attended this club and I felt bad that he was missing out on playtime with his pals. Also, despite the grand-sounding curriculum, all I could ever get out of him was that he’d been doing ‘mouse skills’ every week.  (An essential skill for the iPad generation, apparently). So I decided not to bother renewing it this year – but now he desperately wants to carry on with it because one of his besties is doing it this term. Tsk.

The exact same thing has happened with PZAZZZ!!! (yes that’s its name), an after-school craft club that wowed me with its promise of exposure to a wide range of multi-media arts and crafts.  Once again, the Microbe turned out to be the only reception kid doing it last year …and the reality seemed to involve him sitting for an hour in a crowded classroom, doing drawings of animals on printer paper, with zero supervision. (For £11 a week!)

In fairness the boy is seldom happier than when he’s drawing animals on scraps of paper but I decided not to renew it this term and am sending him to a drama club instead. But now (oh, such woe) the aforementioned bestie turns out to be also doing PZAZZZ!!!.  Tsk.

The trouble with all of these clubs is that they only last for one hour, so he still has to go to Fit For Sport (aka FFS) afterwards. It’s the only way his school day can approximate something close to working hours. The poor boy does FFS three days a week, for three hours a time. It’s like having half a school day all over again, except without his pals. Also it means that he’s totally knackered by the weekend and turns into a sluggardly, sullen teenager. The other day he said to me “Mummy I was really looking forward to coming home today… and then I remembered that I had to go to Fit For Sport.

Guilt button duly pressed.

I need to start banking some playdate credits on Mondays and Fridays in the hope that he’ll get invited to reciprocal ones on FFS days.

On the plus side, the boy is delighted with this term’s special science theme at school – which is all about animals! It’s as if he’s designed his own class curriculum. Today they’ve had a visit from a man called ‘Jungle Jonathan’, who brings weird and wonderful creatures to school. Next week they’re off to London Zoo and a local artist is coming in to do animal-themed art projects with them.

In Hubble news, her talking skills seem to have become specialised in words beginning with H. Nothing but “Hello!” and “Hiya!” and “Harry!” all day long. (In Hubbleworld, all cats are called “Harry”.)

But she understands far more than she speaks and will happily fetch and carry things on instruction these days. Also I’ve discovered that if I tell her to “lie down” she actually lies down. This is a game-changer, trust me! Usually you need 8 arms and the patience of a saint to pin the writhing little horror down on the changing mat for long enough to get her nappy changed.  But all of a sudden she’s toddling off to the bathroom willingly and getting the nappy and wipes out of the basket for me and lying down all by herself, and then putting the old nappy in the nappy bin. Bless! Whoever trained her to do this is getting a medal!

Next step…  laundry training.

I can’t be the only person who sees the second pic and wants to give that little bottom a shove.  *retreats back to sweetie-covered cottage in the woods*

Moving on…

I’m hoping to migrate both kids upstairs in a week or so.  And then I want to start putting them to bed together …at 7:30 on the dot!

The boy’s official bedtime has been 7:30 ever since nursery. But we seem to be struggling with the fact that he doesn’t get home from FFS until nearly 6:30  …and then we want to spend a little bit of time with him, to talk about his day or play top trumps or something. And he invariably needs feeding because he’s failed to eat whatever was on offer at FFS.  And then he needs bathing.  And…. before you know it it’s 8pm before he’s scrubbed and tubbed and adequately fed.

And, on top of that, he’s an insomniac little bugger who lies awake in bed long after story time, no matter how knackered he is. I chatted to his teacher about this last year and we agreed that he needs more sleep but neither of us had any winning ideas to switch his brain off, beyond what we’re already doing (i.e. a fixed routine of bath, bed & story).

And Hubble is just as bad. Why do my children have a default sleep setting of 9pm?? Usually one of us puts her to bed in a darkened room while the other one’s sorting out the boy. But you can only take a horse to water. Darkness and silence are no barriers to romping and thrashing and giggling and fighting for an eternity before she finally zonks out. I’m going to have to ask nursery if they can cut down her daytime naps.

Isn’t it great how we go to all of this trouble to have kids and then spend every waking hour trying to find ways to switch them off and put them back in their boxes?

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There is a light and it …goes out after 4 hrs

I promised that my next post would be all about the kids.

I’m afraid I lied…  they barely get a mention.

But I have a public service announcement of top importance. I’ve discovered that you can get dimmable fairly lights! I found these on Amazon while surfing for the kids’ room – they’re mains powered and come on 10 metres of fine copper wire, with a remote control for turning on/off and controlling the dimming.  And they can turn themselves off after 4 hrs. I think they’re fab!

Ever since the loft floor went down we all keep finding excuses to slink upstairs and spend time in there. (Even Hubble, every chance she gets). Oh, joyous room of clean, white, empty space! It’s like taking a holiday from the rest of the flat. I could sit in it for hours and I love sticking my head out of the windows and surveying the world from roof-level.

At the weekend I let both of the tiny savages run around up there for a bit and, when I returned, I found:

  • A floor full of discarded toys
  • Grubby smudges on the beautiful snow-white walls
  • A pair of shoes, hurled with abandon
  • A half-chewed sticker

It’s a tragedy on a grand scale but I give it 5 mins before this sanctified space falls into line with the rest of the flat. (We’re going to have to re-think the white walls).

Currently every evening and weekend of mine is spent waving tape measures around and/or staring at furniture on the internet and obsessing over how many mm it is in any given direction. It’s a decent-sized loft room but with an insane number of limitations on where things can go, due to the low ceiling, sloping walls, multiple windows, doors, eaves, etc. I’ve had to draw scale plans in Excel. (Never mind Photoshop, I use Excel for everything.)

The sloping alcove behind the door is the only possible place for a wardrobe, so I’ve done the deed and ordered a low-height wardrobe and drawers. Now I’m crossing my fingers that a) I haven’t made a colossal measuring blunder and b) I’ll be able to cram both kids’ clothes in there without defying the laws of physics.

My plans for toy storage are …er, um. Lets just say I’m working on that. There will be no corner unstuffed.

I spent the entire weekend pondering how to get their books up there, given the shortage of bookcase-friendly walls. My best idea so far is to turn the little wall with the dormer window on it into a book-nook, with bookcases under and around the window, a bench seat. If we use Jali for the custom shelves I reckon we can do it for a moderate price.

Here is a terribly unskilled mock-up that I did to try and show G what it might look like….


Anally retentive people will immediately spot the flaw in my plan. Yes?

The window is off-centre… gaaaah!

But it’s still better than anything else I’ve come up with.  The bench cushions would theoretically be made by me, using a piece of map-themed upholstery fabric that I’ve had kicking around for a while. I’d also want to put some LED lighting around the window and ideally the kids’ picture books would also get crammed along the left-hand wall where the socket is, in one of those kiddie book racks where the books face forwards.

Comments on a postcard…?

Meanwhile, sound the trumpets. We’ve chosen a stair carpet. A striped one, as predicted. Not the stuff of lust but the best one out of all of the near-identical samples we’ve tried. I think it’ll look pretty smart on the stairs, assuming the fitter can cope with lining up the stripes on all of the corner-turns.

In kitchen news, um, there’s no news.  With any luck, if we dither for long enough, holes in the floor and stacks of messy, evicted cupboard-contents will become the new norm (and thereby invisible) and we’ll save ourselves further money.

Meanwhile G has been secretly planning GADGE for the upstairs room.  You can see why I keep him on. Tonight he has revealed a nifty web-enabled surveillance camera for spying on the microbes. It looks like a tiny robot and is a bit like a baby monitor but more webby I think.

G has just shown me that you can move the camera around and zoom in and out by swiping on your phone. Also you can use its speaker to issue commands from downstairs, such as “Dinner’s ready” or “Stop that” or “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SHUT UP!“.  (So, dear James, there will be no further truck with “Your sound waves didn’t reach my ear, Mummy“.)

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Busy doing nothing

Can someone please re-boot early September for me? It doesn’t seem to be working properly. Wherefore art thou, Autumnal optimism and energy and enthusiasm and good intentions?

By 7th Sep I’m usually skipping about with creative zing, decluttering the flat and re-vamping my wardrobe and eyeing up boots and stationery and knitting tweedy things for Hubble. This time I’m an utter sluggard. I can just about drag my ever-expanding carcass to work and throw food at the children before falling asleep in front of the telly. And the flat seems to be untidying itself faster than we can tidy it.  (No, it’s not my fault for staying up stupidly late, building imaginary post-apocalyptic settlements in Fallout)

Anyway never mind all that, we have floorage – and the loft is looking splendiferous!!

Ta-daaaaa! Enjoy the white perfection before it gets covered in crayon.

We’re so close to finishing now, albeit with neighbourly obstructions. We really must get on and choose a stair carpet and sort out the kitchen.

Also we need bookcases and some sort of low-height slopey wardrobe-type object for the weirdly shaped loft alcove and something for the even weirder nook that only gnats can fit into.

Where can I find magical, Mary Poppins storage that is small but hides many sins? Having splurged on the floor, we can’t justify splurging on bespoke built-in wardrobes right now so we’ll have to just fake it with flat packs. I’ve started staring blankly at Pinterest boards of IKEA hacks …as if I have the time, inclination or skill to do any such thing.

Still – whilst failing to take care of the important stuff, I’ve managed one or two items of whimsy. I have a stash of picture frames at the ready to make a gallery of children’s illustrations up the rather gorgeous-looking loft stairway wall…  (pic of paint colour)


And this morning I made use of my commute and found an online place that sells metallic gold stars for the night-themed wall that I’m planning above the kids’ beds. (Note to self – you need to paint it first).

I’m feeling an increasing sense of trepidation/woe at the idea of emptying our storage unit and trying to find places for it all. We’re going to have to be even more ruthless on the way in than we were on the way out. Life would be so much easier if I gave up all of my creative interests… (Dear Marie Kondo, what do you do when you have 85 crates of yarn, paint and fabric and they all “spark joy”?)

Umm – the next post will be about the microbes, I promise.

The nutshell version is that they had a fab summer and school has resumed and all is jolly. The microbe is, more than ever, a gangly mass of bruised limbs. Hubble is largely made of tummy and has developed a shoe fetish. Bless!

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50 shades of meh

On my way to work I suddenly remembered that we need one of these doofuses because our new kitchen door whacks the wall every time you open it…


Hopefully it will also function as a Microbe/cat entertainment system. Matilda discovered one while we were out the other day and enjoyed several happy minutes making it go SPROINGGGGG before she was joined by James (at which point they had to take it in turns.)

Added bonus – it might even annoy the neighbours once the kids get good at it. Anyway I decided to make use of my commute this morning and google for a doofus while on the train. I wanted to type “sproinger” but had a hunch they’re probably not known by that name, so in the end I went with “springy door stop“.  (It turns out this was for the best as G later sent me a link showing the urban dictionary definition of “sproinger”)

Who knew??

In other news I have somehow, once again, failed to buy dark grey school trousers. Last year I got several pairs from the school outfitter’s and they were overpriced, with wide, flappy legs and naff fabric that only lasted 5 mins. So then I ordered some “charcoal” ones from that great emporium known as The Internet (can’t remember which shop) and they were much nicer but turned out to be almost black and nothing like the school colour. Tsk.

This year I decided to play it straight and ordered a year’s worth of “grey” cotton trousery goodness from that good old, firm-but-kind, no-nonsense auntie known as John Lewis. But the buggers have turned out to be light grey and will have to be sent back. For the love of god.  How can it be difficult to buy grey school trousers?  And, more to the point, what sort of freakish school uniform includes light grey trousers?

I’m now fairly certain that M&S is the answer. They have ones with let-down-able hems and waistlines that can shrink to workhouse proportions. But their website is asking me to choose between grey and charcoal. I KNOW NOT WHAT TO TICK.  I think I’m going to have to exit my hermetically-sealed pod go to an actual physical shop.  Gah!

Oh dear. I’m afraid that’s all I have right now.  I’ll try to make the next one more informative but, in the meantime, thanks for listening to the echoing chasm that passes for my mind.

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Decoratin’ blues

I’m wilfully abusing this blog to ramble on about our building work. Those with no interest, look away now.  (EDIT: now that I’ve finished raving, I suggest everybody look away now, interested or not).

I’m off work today, amid conversion chaos, and not really feeling the love. (I know, #FWP.) We seem to have reached the stage where every single detail costs extra. And every time I choose something our builder pulls a face.  (I think I keep wanting inconvenient things that his ‘preferred suppliers’ don’t have.)

Also I have decor angst. Half the time I have no idea what I want (e.g. bathroom mirror… no clue) and the rest of the time I feel like my taste is entirely out of step with the rest of the world. I spent so long in Homebase at the weekend trying to find paint colours that matched the colours in my head. We came home with about 15 tester pots and I spent Sunday painting multiple coats of them all onto various walls and sheets of lining paper.

After staring at 9 rectangles all along the hallway, G and I dithered for a bit and then said… “er, shall we just get them to paint it white?

But we did at least choose several shades of blue for the living room and loft stairway. A dark and imposing slate on the fireplace wall and a chalkier mid-blue elsewhere.  I know, how very 2014! I took phone pics but the photos don’t really look anything like the colours.

The one on the right..

The one on the left….

Both colours are darker than we have now and potentially depressing but the room has great light and can handle it.

We’ve chosen a lighter hue from the same colour family for the loft stairway.  You will have to take my word for it that this is a diff colour from the one above. My pics are lying.  (NB: imagine the stairs & banisters painted white + mystery stair runner)

I showed the builder our colour pots and he grimaced. Apparently he usually gets paint made by his ‘preferred supplier’. Of course he does. And they can’t colour-match certain brands of paint. Of course they can’t. He was also a bit disparaging about my choice of a chalky matt paint finish for the kids’ bedroom stairway. His supplier makes tough, washable acrylic paints. Am I mad?? Probably, yes.

I sort of agree with him. There will be grubbiness and handprints. It’s just that my vision for the loft stairway involves a wall of framed children’s illustrations going all the way up the stairs. And this would look so nice on a chalky matt background.  I’m a bit dithery now as to whether to stick to my guns or to ask his supplier to try and match the colour as best they can.

As for carpets – groan. We can’t seem to find a stair runner that isn’t a bit meh or wildly over budget. I think our builder is utterly bemused. (Why on earth doesn’t she just go to my mate’s carpet shop as instructed and get a fitted beige stair carpet?)

Why don’t I? Well, for starters, the bugger was closed on Saturday when we made the trek to Kingston. And, secondly, I make these problems for myself by being in the 0.1% of people who like pattern. I made a pinterest board of some runners that are in the right sort of region, but nothing is entirely hitting the spot. The patterns that I like best all seem to be sisal, but I’d rather the kids had have carpet underfoot when going up and down to bed in bare feet. (Unfortunately G’s reaction to the cost of the rather dashing cerise Laura Ashley one was to splutter at me.)

Given the state of our budget, we’re probably just going to settle and choose something from our builder’s mate’s carpet shop that is tolerable, affordable and inoffensive to future buyers. I imagine we’ll end up with stripes. (The official alternative to beige.)

For the time being we’re going to have to shelve the idea of doing anything major to the kitchen and bathroom. Hence we’re trying to work out what we can do on the cheap to make the best of what we already have. This conversation never reaches a conclusion…

The loft room itself is currently a bright, white box and rather lovely (if you ignore the building paraphernalia).

White is such a splendid colour in a minimalist room.

Ha! Minimalist!

Well, we can dream. Obviously the future reality is a squalid pit of toys, clothes, unmade beds and spilled orange juice. I’ve only just noticed that the ceiling curves downwards and joins some of the wall with no discernible line at which you could change colour. So at least some of it is going to have to stay white.

God, what a fruitless ramble this is.

The boybot is a sluggard today and doesn’t want to go out, hence we’ve been lurking at home and hiding from builders but I really ought to tear him away from Pokemon on Netflix and take him out somewhere…

Or at least get off WordPress and look at bathroom mirrors and try to find an ultra-thin shower head that won’t cause a brain injury to G every time he steps unto the cubicle. (Low ceilings = bad news for the vertically unchallenged).

And… oh for the love of god. I suppose I’d better brace myself and read the new message from the downstairs neighbours that has just pinged up. Woe is me.

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