Month: April 2015

We love: Little You

  Last Thursday, the Pip-Pop & I were lucky enough to meet Kerry Clare & her delightful family. We spent the day in Windsor, arriving just in time to catch changing the guard, which left Popsy screwing his eyes tight shut & saying soldiers not nice. But, aside from the soldiers, everything was very nice: wandering, chatting, eating, and whiling away three hours as if they were thirty minutes. Obviously I was excited to meet Kerry and Stuart and their daughters, but I was also excited to have the chance to eat with them. Having followed their travels online, they looked like a family who know how to find a good meal. And I was right: if you ever get the chance to eat with these guys I suggest you grab it. We had a delicious lunch in Bel & the Dragon (at the very exciting chalkboard table), followed by New Forest ice creams in the sunshine. And the nicest thing of all was how very normal it felt to be hanging out with them. We also …

Prosaic, with possibilities

The older children are back at school. Possibility quickly collapses into the usual rhythm of school days, swimming lessons, reading-books, and packed lunches. The Moose has once more declared himself a vegetarian. ‘Where do carrots come from?’ he asks me suspiciously and I try to remind him of the summer we grew them in a window box by the back door. T has given out her birthday party invitations and soon it will be time to hang out the bunting. For the first time she is maintaining the list of invitees and acceptances herself, carefully ticking friends off in the notebook she picked out in a French supermarket. I’m trying to feel my way back into everything. I seem to be reading far too many books at once. Currently in progress: The Story of a New Name, the second of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan cycle, which I’m reading hungrily ever minute I can; Renata Adler’s Speedboat, paused while I gulp my way through the Ferrante; Tinkers by Paul Harding, also paused at almost the mid-point and …

Paris in the springtime

I feel like I should be composing one of those end-of-the-holidays school essays, During my holiday, I…The older two have had a two weeks & two days off school, and it has been pretty magical. We started with Easter weekend in Paris. Everyone I mentioned it to asked me whether the children were coming too. All I can (smugly) say, is AirBnB. Take the hotel out of the equation & visiting Paris with three young children is totally blissful. We stayed in the 15 arrondissment —  quiet and residential but twenty minutes walk to the Eiffel Tower — in the apartment of a family with two young daughters who went off to Amsterdam for the weekend. We remembered how much we enjoy living in a city, we saw plenty of sights & for the first time ever could imagine what it might be like to actually live in Paris. So all in all, a definite win. There was a week with B’s parents in their beautiful part of France. Days of sunshine and warmth after …

We love(d): I am a Bunny

“I am a bunny. My name is Nicholas. I live in a hollow tree.” My mum has been clearing out her loft. When we visited at half-term there were two towering piles of boxes in her garage: one pile for me, one for my brother. There were boxes of dolls frosted with a white bloom of mould. Rachel, my favourite, who came with me every day of my first year at school went straight into the bin with the others. (My teacher, Mrs Wheeler, used to give Rachel her own copy of the letters home. This was the same year that I tried to run away from school every day. I can still remember the caretaker chasing after me.) I didn’t even look at my primary school exercise books & paintings before I put them into the recycling. A useful lesson here: my children will not be grateful if I save these things for them for the next thirty years. And then, three crumbling boxes of mildewed books. The books came home with me. My …

After Birth

“A baby opens you up, is the problem. No way around it unless you want to pay someone else to have it for you. There’s before and there’s after. To live in your body before is one thing. To live in your body after is another. Some deal by attempting to micromanage; some go crazy; some zone right the hell on out. A blessed few resist any of these, and when you meet her, you’ll know her immediately by the look in her eyes: weary, humbled, wobbly but still standing. Present, if faintly. You don’t meet her often.” If you saw my copy of Elisa Albert’s fierce & funny After Birth you’d see that it’s sprouted little florescent pink tags out of nearly every page: time after time when I thought, yes, that! that’s how it felt, that’s how it was. Because Albert is great at capturing the stripped-down rawness of new motherhood, the visceral, physical, all-consumingness; the relentlessness and exhaustion and isolation. And with uncompromising honesty, she captures a place and time where many …