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Final day

31 Oct

Today is our last day at home.

We’ve spent years dreaming, months organising, the last few days frantically clearing, cleaning and packing.  We’ve said goodbye to all of our best friends and most of our family.  We’re ready to go.  I think.

We’re excited.  We’ve looked at the Disneyland website and decided which rides we can’t miss.  Though I’m gutted that ‘it’s a small world’ is closed for maintenance, I had a vlog planned and everything.  We’ll just have to go in Tokyo.

But we’re also antsy, unsettled, nervous of what is to come.  Ned is dissolving into tears at tiny things, Dickon is throwing extravagant tantrums in supermarkets.  It’ll do us all good to get going and into the swing of things.  The uncertainty is difficult.

I feel like a tightly wound spring, with coils of excitment and anxiety fighting in opposite directions.  I can’t shake the feeling that if I allow myself to relax, something will go wrong.  I still can’t quite believe that it’s going to happen, that I’ve pulled it off.

I just want to get on the plane.

Explosions and mess

29 Oct

In the interests of both cupboard clearing and home science lessons, we’ve been making a mess with cooking ingredients.  Very useful on the cupboard clearing front, possibly not so much on the science front.  Why does cornflour go so strange when you add water?

We’ve mixed bicarbonate of soda with lime juice to create a fizzy, volcanic, mess.  Which apparently tastes “quite nice”.  But this is from the child who liked vomit flavoured jelly beans.  Yes, really.

We’ve made gloop with cornflour and spread it all over ourselves and the kitchen floor.  It really is odd stuff, but it kept a large number of children amused for at least 10 minutes, so it’s not to be sniffed at.  As long as you remember to throw it in the bin and not pour it down the sink where it’ll block your u-bend, you’ll be fine.

The highlight of the cupboard emptying exercise has to be the flour explosion.  We tried making pizza dough with some very old wholemeal flour, but it looked so unappealing we fed it to the pet worms.  I do love a good explosion, which is what we did with the rest.  We lit a candle and blew handfuls of flour across the top of the flame.  As the flour hits the flame it makes a big wooshy, explosion, flamey thing, which I tried and failed miserably to film.

The cupboards are really almost empty now.  Any suggestions for chestnut puree?

Last day

28 Oct

Today is a day like many others.  Steve got up before me and gave the children breakfast.  Then he headed off to work.  Now the children and I are pottering around the house, doing not very much.  Well making a mess, obviously, but other than that, not much.  A half term day like many others.

Except it’s not.  It’s Steve’s last day at work.  We’ve said goodbye to him for the last time.  Tomorrow, it’s kind of the start.  No more work and no more school.  This is what we wanted, why we’re doing this.  To be together.

Today is going very slowly.

The waiting place

19 Oct

This trip has been three years in the planning.  Three years of dreaming and worrying and working things out.  And now it’s almost here.

Only thirteen days.  Thirteen days to finish everything on the to do list.  The list expands and contracts like a sea anenome, new tasks are created as fast as others are ticked off.  I pinball from phoning banks to inform them of our itinerary, to buying pull ups and visiting the tip.  But I like being busy and it stops me being overcome with longing for what is about to happen.

Despite my external dervish-like appearance, inside I am still and calm.  I’ve done my worrying.  I know things won’t all go to plan, but we’ll be fine.  It’ll be good.  It’ll be more than good.  I carry a quiet excitement with me as I go about my days.  A little bubble in my chest.  I’ve waited a long time for this, and I’m ready.

Three Weeks

11 Oct

Three weeks.  Three weeks.  THREE WEEKS!  That’s not very long, is it?

I finally feel like I’m getting there, like my to do list might get done.  Have a look at it, it’s a forest of felled tasks.  There are still quite a lot of things in cupboards that need to be put in boxes, but I don’t think it’s an unmanageable job.  School harvest festival on Thursday is going to come in very useful on the kitchen cupboard front.  I’ve done a fair amount of the necessary admin, there’s more to do, but a lot of it is last minute stuff.  I’ve accepted that there are some things I simply won’t get round to.  And that’s OK.  Our new bedroom curtains can wait.

I’ve even started packing.  Normally I’m a night before sort of packer, but for nine months, that’s possibly too lackadaisical.  So a corner of our bedroom is piled high with first aid kits, thermal underwear, swimming costumes and craft stuff.  Expect a full unexpurgated list soon.

The children have eight days left at school.  That’s eight more mornings of, have you cleaned your teeth hurry up and put on your shoes where is your water bottle.

Our recent weekends have been a blur of social activity, and it’s due to get busier.  I’ve also been squeezing in as many lunches and coffees with friends as I can while the children are at school.  Much to their chagrin.   Although it’s sad to say goodbye to people, it’s also been a real pleasure to see so many friends in a relatively short space of time.  Too often, I let these things slip.

Having spent three years batting this around in my head and worrying about the tiny details, I am strangely calm.  And properly, genuinely, fizzy feeling in my chest, excited.  Not long now.

Grrrr

8 Oct

In recent months, I have spent a huge amount of time sorting out the endless little things in the house, that usually go unsorted.  I was feeling quite positive about the process, our house would finally be ship shape, perfect, wonderful.

Except of course it’s not.  I have frustration oozing out of every pore.  There has not been a single job that has only taken one phone call to sort.  Even the new carpet for Eve’s bedroom, which was organised by our lovely friends, involved having to break into a cupboard which we’d lost the key for, to provide them with a sample.  So of course, the cupboard lock then had to be fixed.

Every, single, little, job has taken disproportionately huge amounts of time.  But by far the worst has been the electricity meter.  I was informed that we needed to change it.  So I made an appointment and waited in.  An electrician came and told me that he couldn’t change the meter because he couldn’t open the fuse casing properly.  So he went away.  I arranged for someone to come and cut away some plasterboard.  I made another appointment with OnStream to change the meter.  They turned up.  And changed the gas meter.  Which apparently also needed changing, although they hadn’t informed me of this.  I made another appointment with OnStream.  Waited in.  They didn’t turn up.  I asked why, they said they didn’t know.  So I made another appointment.  Or so I thought.  When the day came they said they had no record of it.  Sorry if I’m boring you.  I’m boring myself.

So I made ANOTHER appointment.  Double checked it.  It was today.  I waited in.  Someone turned up!  But in my heart of hearts I knew that something would go wrong.  I’ve not had much reason to hope so far.  And I was right.  He sucked his teeth.  Said look at that wiring.  That needs changing.  I’ll have to fax EDF to tell them to come and change the wiring.  Problem is EDF are very slow, I don’t know when they’ll get back to you.  I say as calmly as possible, we are renting our house out in three weeks time.  What am I supposed to do?  I don’t know he says.  I can’t change your meter until the fuse has been rewired.  And if he can’t change my meter.  I can’t have the new meter boxed in.  Or the holes in the wall filled and decorated.

Typing this, a have a solid mass in my lungs and a hand, firmly clasping the top of my skull.  I know that this will not be sorted before we leave.  My to do list will have items uncrossed.  I know it shouldn’t bother me, that I should just think of the beach.  But it does.  I am a person who needs to cross things off.  I would like to be able to go away knowing that it is all sorted.  But I can’t.

Maybe this will be the first lesson of the trip.  Sometimes, you just have to let things go.  But first I think I’m going to go out side and scream.

Writing

5 Oct

I am sitting at my kitchen table, my ancient, and slightly sticky, laptop plugged into the wall.  The same position I have sat in countless times in the year and a half since I started this blog.  The kitchen floor is recently cleaned and smelling of lemon Flash.  This is not always the case.  I’m more likely to gingerly pick my way around the spilt Cheerios, in an effort to not crush them.  The door to the garden is open.  It’s not warm, and there are dark spots of rain dotting the deck, but I’m grateful it’s still Autumn, not Winter.  The neighbour’s Russian vine is a spectacular firey red and our tall, spindly eucalyptus is swaying gently in the wind.

My laptop shares table space with an eclectic variety of objects.  Some fruit I bought earlier and haven’t put away, a glass of water, four conkers, a fuzzy gogo and some silver star stickers.  Also the phone, my debit card and paper and pens.  I’ve spent the morning sorting out landlord’s insurance and car insurance.

Until recently, I’d have had a small child in the kitchen with me.  Usually sitting upside down in the armchair by the window, or leaping off it in an attempt to achieve flight.  Now my soundtrack of CBeebies has been replaced by Radio 2.  Despite wincing daily at the dodgy singing of Katie from I Can Cook, I’m still not sure if I like the change.

Sitting at the kitchen table and blogging has become an integral part of my life.  I’ve come to rely on writing things out.  I’ve written about the important things in our life, buying plane tickets, starting school.  I’ve written about my hopes and fears for our trip and what it’ll mean for our family.  I’ve written about not very much at all, lying under a tree on a summer’s day, swimming in the sea.  The writing has been a pleasure.  I’d go so far as to say it’s changed my life.  It’s made me friends, kept me sane, determined my career path.  I can’t imagine going back to not writing.

Recently I’ve not been writing much.  And when I have it’s been short and factual.  As our departure date approaches, the pressure to get stuff done is mounting.  Lots of phone calls to the estate agent to sort out details, cupboards to be emptied into boxes, trips to the charity shop with yet more too-small children’s clothes, emails to be fielded from people wanting to buy our cot.  No you cannot carry a cot singlehandedly on the tube.  Even if it’s been taken it apart.

I’ve not written about swimming, or walking in woods, or visits to the Tower of London.  I’ve not taken part in the Writing Workshop in weeks.  I miss it.  I miss rolling words around in my head, creating pictures, describing my feelings in combinations of twenty six letters.

I won’t get many more chances to sit at my kitchen table before we leave, emptying my thoughts into the WordPress text box.  Soon the  table will be dismantled and carried carefully down to the basement, hopefully without scratching the new paintwork.  I’ll be busy visiting friends, squishing thermal underwear into backpacks, ordering taxis to the airport.

Very soon our adventure will begin.  I shall be writing about it.

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This post was written for the absolutely marvellous Writing Workshop at Sleep is for the Weak.  The prompt I chose this week was “Be present. Describe a moment, something in your now. Doesn’t have to be extraordinary, just be still and take it all in.”