Monday, 30 April 2012

100 Word Challenge - Ruby Tears

I don't remember collapsing onto the beaten sofa.

I can only recall a cushion brushing against my arm as Charlotte's news registered.

David ... Dead? What? How?

I sat motionless. I saw his face. That crooked smile. That hollow gaze.

I fidgeted. I got up. I closed the curtains again. I sat back down.

I waited.

Charlotte appeared. Her eyes puffed. Cheeks crimson.

She crashed next to me.

The red lamp shade cast a ruddy shadow over her face. Ruby tears rolled down her cheeks.

Charlotte slowly turned to face me.

"Chrissy?" She croaked.


"It might be my fault."

I'm linking up with JB47's 100 Word Challenge. This week's prompt was ... Ruby

Friday, 27 April 2012

Legs Eleven - Part One

At the beginning of the year a rather daunting meme spread with greater urgency than swine flu and asked A LOT of questions. Eleven to be precise. Anyway I was tagged not once but twice by two lovely bloggers. This made a dizzying sum total of twenty two questions! How was I going to deal with this? Did I have the legs for the task at hand? I worried. I stressed. And then decided to put the whole thing off. But now Spring has returned I have gathered goddess like strength and momentum to tackle the answers head on. Or maybe not ...

The rules of the meme require that I answer eleven questions, think up another eleven questions, and then tag eleven bloggers to answer my set of eleven questions. Got it? But here's the deal. I am going to answer the questions and leave it at that. I know that's a grumpy thing to do, but I honestly cant think of anyone else to tag who hasn't already done this.

So the first set of questions is by the very stylish Making It As Mum ...

1. If you won the lottery what is the first thing you would buy and why.

Well, seen as we are planning a move this year it would have to be a new home. Not something flashy, given all my millions, but a solid four bed roomed family house made from old stone and with, most importantly, a garden. At the moment we don't have one so on a daily basis, barring patchy weather, I take Little A to the local park. Its a nice friendly space frequented by chatting mothers and their little darlings, green parakeets and the odd celebrity. But its not the same as having your own back yard. I look forward to the day I let Little A loose on her own patch of green. I picture her pulling morning fresh daises from the turf, giggling as she chases bottom heavy pigeons in an aimless circle and catching skittery butterflies in a make believe net. Mean while I put the kettle on, potter about inside and er, write.

2. Whats the best book you have ever read.

This is impossible to answer. Over the last few years or so, I've had my head inside either a psychology text, a parenting book or Harry Potter. Its been a while since I've lost myself in adult fiction. Having said that, the last novel I read which ticked all the boxes for plot, intrigue, descriptive narrative, and had me hanging onto every word and page, was Ian McEwan's Atonement. A fantastic piece of writing by one of my favourite authors.

3. Marmite do you love it or hate it.

There are somethings in life that polarise opinion, where there is no middle ground, no grey area and no room for ambiguity or ambivalence. Marmite is one such thing. I am unequivocally in the hate it camp. I loathe the stuff. As I have said before and will say again its M.E.C.O.N.I.U.M in a jar. Now do you fancy some on toast? 

Meconium on toast anyone?

4. Whats a perfect day for you.

At the moment this would be a selfish day to myself. I would like nothing more than to spend a balmy Summer's day on a soft grassy incline overlooking Ullswater in the Lake District. It would be a day spent in silence armed with nothing more than a picnic and a good read. A day where I am soothed and restored by nature's music. I can feel myself coming alive just thinking about it.

Ullswater - A perfect day to myself.

5. If time travel was possible where would you go and what would you do.

Reethi Beach
I would relive my honeymoon. It was a heavenly fortnight spent on a slice of paradise known as Reethi Beach, an island in the Maldives. Two weeks of white sands, lapping waters, reading, talking, laughing, massages, cocktails, fine dining on fresh foods and local flavours, and snorkeling amongst a rainbow metropolis of underwater life. My senses were thoroughly indulged. Pure bliss. I credit this holiday with how quickly we conceived. I fell pregnant a month after we'd returned.

6. Do you have any phobias.

No, not really but does marmite (see above) and snoring (see below) count?

7. Whats the craziest thing you have ever done.

In 2001 I threw the dice and gambled on a new life in London. I moved down to the Big Smoke without the safety net of a career. I hadn't a clue where my life was headed. The reason I moved? A boyfriend of course. At the time it seemed like a crazy thing to do. The relationship didn't work out. In hindsight it was never going to. But it did gift an opportunity to start afresh in a different setting. In the end uprooting to London was an astute decision .... it set me on a fated course to Younger Dad and pregnancy.

8. What item would you be lost without.

Firstly I was going to say my pocket sized filo fax, then my laptop, but when it comes to life's essentials it has to be my toothbrush. There is just no way I could function without a clean mouth and fresh minty breath. The paranoia that I might cloak some poor unsuspecting soul in dragon breath is enough to section myself and clamp my mouth with cement. So I would be lost without my toothbrush!

9. What drives you crazy.

Snoring. The rattle of a throaty snore is akin to hearing the high pitched grate of finger nails dragging down a chalk board.  The mere snuffle or grunt sends steam venting from my ears.  I try to ignore it but I can't rest until silence has been restored. This usually means elbowing and shouting obscenities at Younger Dad. My temper has no cushioning at 3.00 am. I often end up sleeping on the sofa in the lounge. I can bear most nocturnal sounds; the ticking of a clock, mice in the rafters, drunken squabbles outside but I just cannot tolerate snoring. Being a light sleeper to the degree that clashing atoms disturb me from slumber doesn't help either.

10. If you could bring one thing back from childhood what would it be.

The one thing I would bring back I actually still have and that's my trusty side kick Blue Teddy.

11. What are your plans for today.

Today is nearly done but here are the highlights; dancing with Little A to Talking Heads, off loading Younger Dad's wardrobe rejects at the recycling dump, a soggy shopping mission to buy presents for a newborn and one year old, reading Stick Man and Zog, and finishing this post while Little A naps. This evening I'm putting my feet up. I might have a lengthy soak in a bubble bath and read a new book about writing a novel.

In part two I'll be doing my up most best to answer the wonderful Mummy Plum's questions.

Monday, 23 April 2012

100 Word Challenge - News Flash

I popped my head around Charlotte's door ....

"What's up Char? Not seen you all evening."

Charlotte was slumped over her desk. Her slender fingers tightly clawed around a newspaper.

"Oh, hey, hi. Sorry, I'm locked onto something at the moment. Catch up with you in five?"

I hesitated.

"Are you sure you're okay?"

Charlotte inhaled, sighed and turned towards me.

"Remember David? The guy I had that fling with two years a ago."


Charlotte looked at me in disbelief.

"He's dead. Threw himself onto the tracks."

"Shit. You're kidding?"

Charlotte gave me that look.

 "Chrissy I need time out. I'm exhausted. Shut the door behind you?"

I'm linking up with JB47's 100 Word Challenge. This week's prompt was ...

"I'm exhausted. Shut the door behind you."

Friday, 20 April 2012

#Art I Heart - Underwater Cherub

Underwater Cherub

This print hangs on a wall in my bathroom. Its of my very own merbaby, Little A, when she was just seven months old.

I love the vivid blue, the light dancing in the swirling bubbles and swell of the water's surface, and the golden gauze ethereally floating around Little A's body. I love Little A's wide eyed expression and the way she looks so comfortable and at ease in the water. She almost looks otherworldly; a mythical creature that exists in storybooks and ancient tales passed down the generations. An underwater cherub caught in a heavenly net. I wonder what her eyes are looking at. A withering ship wreck perhaps? Bobbing seahorses? An unhurried turtle? Or a shoal of angelfish darting and weaving through the warm currents of a teeming reef?

The reality is that this image was taken in the tepid waters of a diving centre pool in Chiswick, West London, by a professional underwater photographer. When Little A was three months old I started taking her to baby swimming classes to the detriment of my finances. Babies are so eye wateringly expensive aren't they? Anyway, she adored splashing and frolicking in the water with the other infants. She never seemed to mind being continually submerged under water by the very amicable teacher whose warm South African lilt reassured the oblivious babies and their jittery mothers. We continued the lessons for a year and I credit them with Little A's confidence in the water now.

I leaped, my bank balance didn't, at the opportunity of having some underwater shots taken when Little A was seven months and a bit. The shoot lasted half an hour. It involved a lot of dunking under water with costumes and props by an athletic fifty something platinum blond who should have known better than having had plastic surgery. Botox does not look fetching in a swimsuit. The gossip goes that this swimming teacher, not the one who taught Little A on a weekly basis, was having a clandestine affair with the burly photographer. Judging by the furtive glances and knowing smiles between the two there was definitely something salacious going on in that diving pool. Or my over zealous imagination was bored and fancied some intrigue to entertain itself with. I wager the latter.

This picture is also a reminder of my birth trauma and depression. After Little A's arrival it took me six weeks to muster the courage to leave my flat. Something was clearly wrong. The emergency cesarean shattered my confidence which lay broken in unforgiving, misshapen shards. The swimming lessons gave me the fortitude to brave the outside world again. They gave me a beacon of normality in the daily grind of breastfeeding, expressing and nappies. I also met some really amiable women. After the lesson we would often lunch and natter together with our bairns at the local hotel. I just hope my nervousness and anxiety at the time wasn't too palpable.

So not only does this print capture a beautiful memory from Little A's babyhood, its also a healing marker of my slow return to emotional health.

I am linking up this post with Midlife Single Mum's very imaginative Art I Heart meme. The idea is that you choose one piece of art you feel drawn to and write a short story about it. Sadly this might be my last entry given the limited amount of art hanging on the walls of my flat.

Monday, 16 April 2012

#Once upon a time - My Favourite Bear

Once upon a time .....

My favourite bear was blue.

He was christened Blue Teddy; a simple name for an honest bear.

Blue Teddy
He's the only bear or toy that's survived my childhood. I think he was given to me when I was about three years old but its hard to tell as I have no clear recollection. Old photos confirm the appearance of Blue Teddy at around this age of my life. I'm sure he was very fluffy and rotund once. Now he's all cuddled out and consequently a two dimensional ted. He sits on the end of my bed as threadbare as the moon with a gaping hole down his left side and small, discreet punctures around the neck. His right shoulder has stuffing missing so that the adjoining arm hangs loosely by his side. This must have been the arm I lovingly dragged him around by.

Blue Teddy - The two dimensional bear

Old wise Blue Teddy. He's borne witness to the entire passage of my life. Was he in my bedroom the day I lost my virginal innocence? Probably. Poor Blue Ted. The things he's seen. I remember Blue Teddy accompanying me everywhere; to my grandparents on quiet Sunday afternoons, annual family holidays on the sandy beaches of Southern Cornwall, and to the loo. Then somewhere in my teenage years I let go of childish things and Blue Teddy sat unnoticed, unloved, in a corner of my bedroom with my other discarded toys.

When I left home Blue Teddy was bagged up and stored with the rest of my history in the attic. He didn't reappear in my life until my late twenties, after HIM, the not so nice boyfriend. I wanted to reconnect with happier times and Blue Teddy was the dependable bridge to my past. Perched on my pillow, Blue Teddy has been a reassuringly silent presence ever since.

To carry on the tradition I gave Little A a blue bear of her own but she prefers mummy's teddy. I once found her attempting to fasten a nappy onto him. Blue Teddy didn't appreciate this judging by the displeased frown above his beady glass eyes. The other day I caught her throwing my geriatric ted around the lounge. She'd lobbed him about with his weakened, floppy arm, "Little A be gentle, he's an old, tired, grumpy bear not unlike your mummy". But most days Blue Teddy can be found securely squashed into Little A's pram, taken on shopping trips and sight seeing tours around our flat.

Another shopping trip 

Blue Teddy has almost been like a guardian angel, a steadying anchor, to the narrative of my life. He contains the whole story, marking the never ceasing passage of time; childhood, teenager, the first kiss, first boyfriend, O'level's, A level's, university, jobs, careers, moving to London, Younger Dad, the birth of Little A. The story goes on... Friends and family have come and gone but Blue Teddy remains like a stubborn flag pole, the one constant buoy, if a little frayed and threadbare, in an impermanent world.

Good ole' Blue Teddy.

A generation of Blue Teddies

So once upon a time, what did you enjoy (or dislike) doing, seeing or creating? It could be anything. What were you like many moons ago? Do you have a once upon a time story to tell or picture to share? It could be a happy, sad or humorous tale. The skies the limit. I've decided to turn this into a monthly meme blog hop thing. So do Link up below and grab the badge code ... and don't forget to tweet #onceuponatime.

Once Upon A Time
Grab the badge code ...

<a href="" title="Once Upon A Time"><img alt="Once Upon A Time" height="170" src="" width="150" /></a>

I am also linking up with A Mummy's Too's Favourite Childhood Toy Meme.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Entirely Automatic

When it became too overwhelming I stole myself away to the adjoining dining room, pulled out a tired wooden chair, sat down and cocooned myself in the familiar world of blogs, twitter and anything other than direct conversation .......

I used to be a socially adventurous creature. These days I prefer one on one dialogue to the multi layered chit chatter of a group. After being so focused on Little A, I crave my own company. I love solitude. It gives me chance to cloud bust the ever changing climate in my mind. A chance to see myself clearly again. Little A's nap times are often priceless moments I get to check in with hotel ME.

So it was with much trepidation on my part that last week we went on holiday to Snowdonia, Wales, with a group of Younger Dad's friends. The party included four couples with children, one without and two black Labradors. We stayed in a couple of converted rustic barns situated in a peaceful valley inhabited by grass hungry sheep, newborn lambs, weather worn horses and a slow swirling river that meandered lazily somewhere.

I've known Younger Dad's friends for some time now. But for the last two years I've not been much of a  presence in this group; Younger Dad attended various socials whilst I decided to remain at home with Little A. My confidence just wasn't up to it. I was an anxious first time mum. So last week proved quite a challenge as I tried to reconnect with old faces. Becoming a mum seems to have stripped my outer shell of a social persona I could once rely upon. Now I feel nervous and sometimes conversationally clumsy in the company of those I don't know so well. I can feel timid and vulnerable. So on holiday I found myself self consciously retreating to a quieter space when I had nothing to contribute. It was really quite stress full at times.

It also didn't help that I had Delhi belly on the first day thanks to a rogue egg sandwich from a service station on the crawl of a motorway that is the M1. Nor that I was premenstrual; the flood of unfriendly hormones predisposing me to long, jolly bouts of social paranoia; "I'm not fitting in", "all I talk about is being a mum", "they don't like me anymore" ... blah, blah, blah.

But if I had sent you a postcard from Wales I would have told a sunnier, and snowier tale .....

Dear Subscriber,

I'm in a muddle in Snowdonia. Its not all bad though. As to be expected the weather in April is schizoid; it started out Spring like and balmy but by mid week snow had carpeted the valley. And its still snowing. Little A is enjoying Gruffalo hunts with Younger Dad and crunching her footprints into the white icing slowly melting on the lawn. She loves repeatedly running up and down a slope outside our barn, watching twitchy horses in nearby fields and picking frosted daffodils.

Even though I should be appreciating the snow dusted beauty of the Welsh hills, I found myself oddly fascinated today by a cigarette vending machine in an old train station. We'd taken a very excited Little A on her first steam train ride. Her face lit up a thousand nights as the train chuff chuffed and parp parped passed fields of bleating cotton wool balls that fled in a panicked huddle as it sidled by, and passed yachts floating statue still on the surface of a motionless lake.

So anyway, on our steam adventure we stopped at a little run down station where I chanced upon this relic of a machine.

It looked like it dated back to the 1920's or 30's; a time when puffing on a fag was considered a socially appropriate necessity. What I really appreciated about this antiquated box of cogs and wheels was an inscription on the top which ironically read ...


It made me realise how much we take for granted in our information age. Back in the day this vending machine might have been the equivalent of an ipad. Things were so much simpler and slower then. And alot smokier and smellier. But it made me think. Even in the midst of the rolling Welsh hills I still couldn't be without my PC and my writing. Not unlike a 1920's socialite without her cigarette holder. Blogging is my addiction .... its entirely automatic.

Speak soon,

Older Mum XXX

Oh, you'll never guess what. I was miraculously voted for the MAD blog awards. I would just like to say thank you to all you kind people who gave me a nod and a wink. So please do keep the votes coming if this blog tickles your fancy ....
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