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Souvenir special edition

28 Apr

This week I’ve been poring over twelve month’s worth of news about Kate and Wills in Hello Magazine.  And I’ve been inspired by their nifty wheeze of regurgitating a year’s worth of material in one go, and selling it as a special edition.  So today I am launching the It’s a small world after all special edition.  Since we got home, I’ve loved re-reading my blog. I’m so confident that you will too I’m offering a money back guarantee*.  Every week for the next however long it takes, I’m going to re-publish a couple of posts for your enjoyment.  Don’t say I don’t spoil you.

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*terms and conditions apply

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  Now my soundtrack of CBeebies has been replaced by Radio 2.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.”

Swimming

18 Aug

It’s not that cold, I promise, he says, come with me.  OK, I will.  I get changed, grab a towel and slither down the steep shingle beach to the water’s edge.  I slip off my shoes and pick my way carefully over the smooth, hard pebbles, the soft soles of my feet complaining and the damp sand squelching between my toes.

The foamy little waves at the water’s edge wash over my feet.  He’s wrong.  It is cold, not arctic, but still cold.  But I’m here now, the sun is hot on my back, and he takes my hand.  Together we wade deeper, slipping on the pebbles and shivering as the water reaches our first our knees and then our thighs.

You know the best thing to do, don’t you, he says as he ducks down and starts swimming towards the horizon.  But I can’t bring myself to swim.  Not just yet.  I let the waves wash over my legs, gasping as they creep ever higher, splashing on warm, dry skin.

He’s bobbing about in the swell a few metres in front of me.  Come on, it’s better once you start swimming, come with me.  I take a deep, ozoney breath and wade into the chilly water, until it reaches my shoulders.  He’s right, it’s not so bad once you get in.  The bottom is pebble free now, a mix of sand and the soft, velvety clay that oozes between your toes and makes the water murky.

I swim a little way out and find a warmer patch, where I stop, with the tips of my toes just touching the bottom.  All around me are lengths of floating, brown, seaweed.  I catch some and pop the rubbery bubbles.  The water isn’t gaspingly cold, it isn’t even goosebumpy cold.  It’s just cold enought to make my skin tingle and wake me up.  I understand why people do this every day.  Why it’s addictive.  The sun is dazzling, scattering the water with sparkly diamonds. The sky is a vivid, clear, blue.  The roar of the water and screech of soaring seagulls are the only sounds.

The children are otherwise entertained and we are the only swimmers.  The only people.  We tread water in companionable silence, jumping up as waves hit our backs.  For a few perfect moments, we could be alone in the world.  He turns to me and says, the next time we do this, we’ll be in Hawaii.

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This post was written for the fab writing workshop at Sleep is for the Weak.  The prompt I chose this week is ‘Lucky‘.

Of shimmering ice and coral caves

20 Jul

One of the deepest and most unexpected joys of parenthood has been reading aloud.  I’ve always loved books, so was looking forward to sharing them with my future children, but I’d never considered how wonderful it would be to say beautiful words out loud with a small, warm, child curled on my lap.  We’ve shared old favourites like Eloise, Ferdinand and Ballet Shoes, and I’ve discovered new favourites like the Gruffalo.  I think it would be fair to say that I worship Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.  Her words and his pictures combine to make some of the most gorgeous books I have ever read, and I have read a lot. Continue reading

Running

14 Jul

I have to be somewhere.  I have a train to catch.  It’s leaving soon.  Very soon.  I have to run.

My brain tells my legs.  But I can’t make them work.  Slowly, slowly, I move one leg and then the other.  They are like sacks of sand, heavy, awkward, dragging.  My brain says hurry, hurry, you’re going to miss it.  Run.  Faster.  My legs don’t seem to be able to hear.  Every step is an enormous effort, slow and ponderous.  I move my arms too, right arm left leg, left arm right leg.  But I am like a slow motion cartoon character, going nowhere, running on the spot.

The atmosphere is thick, dense, unyielding.  I push my body against it, resistance meeting my every effort.  The whole world is moving slowly, stickily, like treacle pouring from a tin.

Time is running out.  The train is going to leave soon.  Very soon.  I have to hurry up.  I can’t miss it.  My breathing quickens as anxiety pricks my skin like a thousand needles.  I can’t miss it.  What will happen to me?  How will I get there?

I’m never going to make it.  I can’t make my legs work.  Despite willing with all my might, my body won’t move any faster.  Right arm left leg, left arm right leg, inching forwards, slowly, slowly, slowly.  Hardly moving at all.

The train is still far away, I can see it in the distance.  I know I’m not going to make it.  I’m never going to get there.  I am filled with dread as I realise I have failed. The train is going to go without me.

I wake up with a start.

This post was written for the Sleep is for the Weak writing workshop.  This week’s one word prompt is “Running”.

Doubts

23 Jun

Have I ever done anything completely selfish?  Yes.  Yes I have, or at least, I’m planning to.

I am planning to drag my family all the way around the world.  Taking my children away from their grandparents, cousins and friends, for nine whole months.  Nine months is a really long time if you’re four.  Almost a quarter of your life.

They have no choice in the matter.  They do what they’re told.  Would they choose to do this if it was up to them?  I don’t know, but I think not.  Any enthusiasm they show is picked up from us.  They really have no idea what it involves.

All the youngest knows, is that he will be sleeping on a plane.  He asked me if his uncle would be picking us up from the airport.  Because the only flight he can remember is when we visited his cousins in Germany.  And his uncle picked us up from the airport.

We wouldn’t be doing this if I hadn’t had the idea.  Hadn’t gone on and on about it.  Hadn’t said that I would be really sad if we didn’t.  We wouldn’t be going if I didn’t want to.

It’s too late to change my mind.  The tickets weren’t cheap.  And we’ve told the world and its wife.  There’s no going back.  It’s a juggernaut that I can’t turn around.

I don’t know how I’ll feel if they don’t enjoy it.  If it isn’t a positive experience.  But I can hazard a guess.  Pretty horrible.

What have I got us into?  I hope it’s worth it.

This week, I chose the prompt “Write about a time you put yourself first” in the Sleep is for the Weak writing workshop.

Time travel

16 Jun

I’m at a crossroads.  The past is behind me, the future in front.  When I dreamt up the idea of going travelling, we were in the thick of the baby and toddler stage.  It was inconceivable that the plan could be put into action before we’d reached the promised land of beds not cots, pants not nappies, walking not buggies.  We would wait until our babies were no longer babies, then we’d go.  It has been something that’s consumed my dreams, kept me going through the long sleepless nights.

Almost three years down the line, the toddler is almost six and the one year old is about to be four.  He’s mostly dry at night, sleeps in a bed, walks or rides his bike everywhere.  He can talk in complex sentences, make jokes, spell his name and climb trees.  No one except his own mother would call him a baby.

For the last eight and a half years my life has been defined by my babies.  My days have been filled with nappy changing, breastfeeding, pushing swings, putting down for naps, Cbeebies.   As I lived the last eight and a half years it’s felt like they lasted an eternity, at times it seemed hard to believe that I’d ever come out the other side.  I wished my time away.  But as I stand at the crossroads, I realise they years have passed in the blink of an eye.  With each new baby, time sped ever faster, and now it’s gone.  I’ll never get it back.

I have much to look forward to, in a few short months we shall be embarking on a wonderful adventure, one that we wouldn’t be able to do if our babies were still babies.  And I can’t wait.  I can’t wait to see volcanos and glaciers, to lie on beaches and trek through jungles.  I can’t wait to enjoy spending  long day after long day with my husband and children.

But part of me wishes I could go back and start at the beginning.  To have my time again.  I don’t necessarily want to do things differently.  I would just like to stop and take notice, to pay attention.  To hold my babies once more.

This week I chose prompt three for the Sleep is for the Weak writing workshop, “What’s your magical power? Or what would you like it to be?”  I would like my magical power to be time travel.

3. What’s your magical power? Or what would you like it to be?