Jimmy and I haven’t actually jumped inside a chalk pavement picture this week but we have had rather a twee and delightful week together. All hail the start of the school hols.
I’m off work with him until the end of this week and, so far, I’ve made him walk for miles and miles on nature walks and taken him on a boat ride and on days out to look at birds and climb trees and collect nature trophies for his scrap book.
We’re having to get out of the house as often as possible because of building work and I thank god for the weather and for this blessed corner of London. I really love it here in the summer. You can leave your house and walk a mile in pretty much any direction and find yourself lost in greenery. Yesterday we skipped through a woodland so full of picture-book loveliness, I half expected to turn around and see a train of animated fauns and bunnies and little blue birds following us around.
It’s all been very deliberate on my part. The boy is an angel when we stick to simple pleasures – he’s never happier than when hunting for leaves and seeds and minibeasts and he doesn’t even notice that he’s walked for miles.
I bought him a nature explorer’s scrapbook, for storing his finds and yesterday he stuck in his first item – a magpie feather given to him by one of my friends.
It all makes a pleasing antidote to the endless run of children’s parties that we had last term. I swear every single weekend involved lugging the kids to two or more of the heinous sugar-fuelled events. The more they go to, the more gremlin-like they become. Tomorrow I think I’ll take him to Kew Gardens for more antidote, even if it rains. It’s all been to good avail so far, though a bit knackering. (I’ve got one of his school friends coming for the entire day on Friday. Wish me luck).
Next week I’m lugging him to work with me for four days to a summer camp at our campus sports centre. Apparently they do sports and swimming and crafts and some fun sciencey stuff. I hope he enjoys it. (The rush hour commute will be an eye opener for him!)
Hubble’s still at nursery during the weekdays but she’s had her share of being paraded about in the sunshine, too. We took them to various parks last weekend and it’s so much more fun for her now that she can be let out of the pushchair to run around.
She is a funny little thing. She seems to come with two settings – delight and rage. Many things make her laugh with glee… and the rest appear to give her RAGE. She can switch from one to the other in under a second. You might be changing her nappy (one of her top-ten RAGE-inducing activities) and suddenly, if you pull the right silly face, the enraged “Aaagrrrrrggggghhh!” turns into a delighted “Ehhhhhhh!” mid-cry. Manic child.
She’s most definitely not a ‘talkie’. At least, not compared with her brother. As G puts it, her mouth is a one-way system designed purely for eating. I can sometimes tease words out of her (especially when she’s in the bath and receptive to distraction) but mostly she limits herself to her three favourite words: “Yeah”, “No” and “Ta”. (Yes, I’m afraid I have the world’s most uncouth baby).
Best of all (for Game of Thrones fans) we’ve discovered that she turns into a dead ringer for Brienne of Tarth every time she has a bath. This pic is probably not the best comparison, but you get the idea…
In lofty news, the room upstairs is starting to look like a room, in that it has the plasterboard up and base boards down. It still needs loads doing (e.g. flooring, plastering, electrics, plumbing, bathroom, etc) and I suspect we may be behind schedule but I assume they know what they’re doing.
G and I have been sulking about our shrunken living room ever since the fire regs man confirmed that he wouldn’t sign off the building without additional walls going up, no matter if we fitted a sprinkler system. So we’re stuck with them unless we want to pay more money to have them taken down again afterwards.
After our initial sulk, we’re coming round to the idea of putting up with them. We’re going to get a glass-panelled door fitted, to let light into the hallway, and we’ll see what we can do with decor and room rearrangement to make the whole thing more pleasing on the eye. (What we’d really like to do is make our bathroom smaller and our kitchen bigger – and then move the dining table into the kitchen – that would make everything ok again.)
As for the kids’ room – I’ve not had any new thoughts about it but I’m beginning to wonder whether the Microbe needs a specimen cabinet. God knows where we’d put one but he brings home Hubble-hazard artefacts at a rate that we can barely keep up with with. Only the flat things can go into his scrapbook, so he could do with something that has a lock and lots of little drawers for storing shells and stones and conkers and dead bugs and random things that fall off trees.
I saw one on eBay that used to belong to the Natural History Museum. I think the boy might actually explode, Scanners style, if we were to buy that. (Luckily it’s unlikely to happen as the starting bid was £1,700).