How not to play ‘I Spy’.

This is a transcript of part of our game of ‘I Spy’ played on a long car journey yesterday afternoon.
(This was near the end of the game. It had been continuing in a similar pattern for some while before, but I won’t inflict the whole game on you.)

Sam – I spy with my little eye something beginning with r.
M – Road?
Henry – Banana? Car? Football?
D – Rocks?
Henry – Poo poo man!
Sam – No, not r, it starts with w.
M – Oh, ok, wheels?
Henry – Caca man!
D – Wire?
M – (whispering and pointing) Henry, what’s that out the window, going round?
Henry – Poo poo! Caca! Windmill!
Sam – Yes! You got it! Well done Henry. Your turn.
Henry – I spy eye caca man!
Sam – No Henry, you’re supposed to say a sound.
Henry – Wee wee man!
Sam – Henry! Say a sound.
Henry – Poo poo man!
Sam – Henry!
M – Ok, I’ll have a turn. I spy with my little eye something beginning with l.
Henry – Poo poo man!
Sam – Leaves?
Henry – Wee wee man!
D – Line?
Henry – Apple? Underpants? Poo poo?
Sam – Lake?
Henry – Caca man!
Sam – Lady?
Henry – (anxiously) Mummy I feel hot.
M – Would you like some water?

At that point the game came to a sudden stop as Henry proceeded to be repeatedly sick in copious amounts all over himself, his car seat, my leg and the car.
What fun!

Fun At The Golf Club

Yesterday afternoon we decided to give golf a try. A couple of weeks ago my friend Jenni had kindly given us two sets of golf clubs that her own children had outgrown. Actual, proper golf clubs for children. The only set that we had previously owned was a set from Toys R Us, a cheap, plastic set with rather flimsy, lightweight clubs that would invariably crumple and buckle on impact whenever one of the plastic balls was hit causing tears of despair and a rather rapid finish to any round of golf. Consequently, the prospect of having actual, proper golf clubs filled the boys with much excitement and myself with something approaching dread as I considered the potential for injury. However, buoyed on by memories of the fun we had playing golf while in the UK we packed up the clubs and set off to the driving range of San Pedro Golf Club.

On arrival I was relieved to see that the place was relatively quiet. The thought of Sam and Henry armed with golf clubs, randomly swinging at golf balls in close proximity to unwitting fellow golfers and spectators made me more than a little apprehensive, so the fact that the number of potential victims was quite small was of some comfort. We went to the desk and paid for two tokens which would entitle us to 50 balls, while both boys admired the display of photos, golf clubs and trophies inside. Having located the ball dispensing machine in a little outhouse, we put in our first token and 25 balls came spilling and bouncing noisily out, scattering all over the floor. We had neglected to notice the stacks of baskets next to the machine which normal, wiser people would have put under the machine in order to catch the balls. Instead we scrabbled around on the floor collecting the balls wherever they had settled, including in the wet, filthy, rubbish strewn area underneath the machine, which was especially pleasant, trying to catch them all before anyone came in and noticed our amateur error. Collecting the next 25 balls was a much simpler, quieter procedure and before we knew it we were ready to play.

Walking along through the driving range we chose a spot as far away from everybody else as we possibly could. Just behind us was a little putting practice green with nine little holes to practice on. So while Sam was merrily swinging away at golf balls with his customary wild aim, frequently shouting out commentary (oblivious to any requests to please be a bit quieter and calmer) such as “LOOK! THAT ONE WENT ALL THE WAY TO THE WATER SPRINKLER!” and “LOOK! THAT ONE WENT ALL THE WAY TO THE NUMBER 20 SIGN!”, Henry took a ball and the biggest wedge from the bag and made his way over to the putting green. I had tried to explain to him that he needed a putter for the putting green rather than a wedge, but he had made up his mind and wasn’t about to listen to any caddy advice from the likes of me. Anyway, he was quite happy, also swinging away wildly despite my efforts to show him how to make smaller and gentler shots, shots that didn’t involve the ball whizzing over the putting green boundary and ricocheting noisily off of a hut nearby, attracting bemused glances from our fellow sportsmen. A very short time later a gentleman came up to us and said something to us which we couldn’t quite hear due to someone giving a particularly loud shout of “LOOK! THAT ONE WENT ALL THE WAY OVER TO THAT TREE!”. The gentleman kindly repeated himself and explained that the wedge wasn’t the club we should be using on the putting green as it would be digging up holes in the grass, which as you may recall I had tried to explain to Henry at the time he initially chose his weapon. So we went back to the bag, retrieved a putter and Henry resumed his ‘putting’. I showed him how each hole had a number and asked him to choose one of the holes to try and get the ball into, using little shots, not big ones. So he chose hole number 4 and set about hitting the ball towards it as I offered words of encouragement and enthusiastic whoops whenever he sometimes got near to the hole before promptly whacking it away in the opposite direction. After 20 or so hits the ball finally settled right on the edge of the hole and Henry tapped the ball in with his hand. I tried to tell him that he should have used the club for that but I don’t think he heard me as at that moment somebody shouted “LOOK! THAT BALL HIT THAT OTHER BALL!” Nevertheless, Henry and I enjoyed a mutual celebration of the ball going in the hole and Henry looked up at me proudly and asked “Will I get one of the trophies now Mummy?” Well, I think that’s what he said, as at that moment somebody shouted “LOOK! ALL THE BALLS HAVE GONE NOW, CAN WE HAVE ICE CREAM?” That seemed like a very good idea and so we retired to the cafe to have ice cream and drinks. Sam was full of smiles and said happily “I like playing golf!” Well, I think that’s what he said as at that moment somebody shouted out “I NEED A POO!” and of course that was Henry.

As we sat and finished our drinks we watched as the driving range filled up quickly with newly arrived golfers, thankful that we had arrived at an earlier, quieter time with considerably less witnesses to our performance and I silently pondered the likelihood of us ever being allowed back in at a future date.

The pain of indecision.

I have been indecisive for as long as I can remember. Anyone who knows me even very slightly will be aware of this, and they may even have possibly shared in an experience, perhaps more than one, in which I have struggled to make even the simplest of choices. It has been known for me to stand in front of the jam shelf in the supermarket for a considerable time faced with a wall of different jams, unable to move, frozen by my inability in deciding which flavour to buy. Eventually forcing myself to settle on one I will usually walk on a few steps before hastily returning to the same shelf to possibly change my mind but then again I may possibly stick to my original choice. Stepping hesitantly forwards and backwards, putting jars back and picking up new ones before returning to my original choice and so on until I either settle on one or just give up and leave the decision for another day or if I am shopping with somebody else they will often make the choice for me, tutting and giving off a strong aura of impatience. At best my indecision can be annoying, at worst it can be literally painful.

I am well aware that only recently I wrote about the stresses and worries involved in me catching a train, and that by writing now about my problems with making decisions people could possibly be lead into thinking that I have ‘issues’ but obviously this would be far from the truth.

I was recently reminded (not that I ever actually forget) of this particular problem by my friend Carrie, with whom I have just spent a few days away. We were going to a concert, along with two of her friends, who incidentally also quickly picked up on my indecisiveness. Initially it looks quite harmless, in this case emerging as we all met up in a bar and I was asked if I wanted a drink. Yes I did, but I didn’t know what, so my safety net is always to ask others what they are having and all being well I can just go along with that. This worked fine and I successfully escaped detection. The first sign of trouble came later on in the evening when we all went out to Pizza Express. I don’t do well in restaurants generally as the task of deciding what I want can be all too much. Unfortunately this was the case here. Looking at the menu there were far too many pizza possibilities. There was a seemingly endless list of toppings. How on earth was I to decide? Did I want a regular pizza or a Romano one? And what is a Romano one? How is it different to a regular one? Would I like it? Is it nice? My stress levels rose as my companions quickly made their choices, but also, rather unusually by the fact that in the whole of the dimly lit restaurant I found myself sat right under a very bright spotlight! I felt like I was being interrogated when I was asked if I had decided. No I hadn’t! How could I decide? The light was so bright! The heat emanating from it was stressing me out even more. I asked the waiter if he could possibly turn the spotlight off but he said short of us throwing things at it to break it we were stuck with it. Someone suggested moving the table forwards a little so that I wasn’t wholly illuminated in the glare which definitely helped, but I was so busy thinking about how everyone else had already decided that I kept forgetting to try and choose myself. Sensing my indecision my friends tried to help by answering my questions – Have you ever had this one? Is it ok? Would I like it? I’m not sure whether I want this one or this one. What are you having? Is that nice? Would I like it do you think? I tried to focus on the menu but out of the corner of my eye I could see the waiter approaching! Oh, but I still hadn’t chosen! The whole episode was far too stressful and I had made myself look rather pathetic and laughable (yes I know, it’s most unlike me) and it was only the first night. Unfortunately I continued with my struggle to make independent choices over the weekend and I built myself quite the reputation as being indecisive.

The evening of the concert proved quite a challenge. What should I wear? What was everybody else wearing? Sleeves or not sleeves? Should I take another top just in case it got cold? Should I take my phone? Was anybody else taking their phone? Where should I put my ticket? Might it fall out of my pocket? What about my money? How much should I take? How much was everyone else taking? Were they planning on buying a t shirt? Should I get a t shirt? How much are they? Could I afford one or was it too frivolous? Which pocket should I put my lip balm in? Should I put everything in a different pocket so that things don’t fall out when I reach in for other things? And so on. The decisions were endless. Eventually we managed to get out and headed off, stopping at a shop first to get something to eat on the way. What should I have? What was everyone else having? Shall I have this one? Or this one? Maybe this one? Which one have you got? Which juice should I get? Which juice are you getting? Should we get a bit of cake? Are you getting a bit of cake? It’s reduced to 40p. That’s not too bad for a bit of cake is it? Are you going to get a bit of cake? I finally made my choices and Carrie and I joined the queue to pay. We both got served at adjoining tills at the same time. As my things were scanned the shop assistant asked me if I wanted a bag. I looked at Carrie. Are you having a bag?!! For goodness sake, now the shop assistant was looking at me sympathetically! Even with something as simple as being asked if I wanted my things put in a bag I couldn’t decide by myself.

So yes, I am definitely indecisive but I like to think that it adds to my charm. Although I’m not sure. Does it? What do you think?………

Sent from my iPad

I really need to write something on my blog.

I am very aware that I haven’t written anything on my blog for some time and people have even started saying “you haven’t written anything on your blog for some time” which tells me that it is time to write something on my blog. So, despite it being quite late I have come upstairs where it is quiet with the intention of writing. I have a cup of tea which I thought would help the thinking process but so far all I’ve done (apart from this bit obviously) is drink my tea and get a bit stressed that it has nearly gone now and it hasn’t helped the thinking process too much at all as my page is still not full of cheery recalls of recent adventures. I also have one eye on the time as I know that the later it gets the less inclined I will be to get up at a respectable hour and go for my morning run. This also is not helping the thinking process. My thoughts are consumed with clock watching and tea watching and I had so much I wanted to write.

I wanted to tell you all about the endless joys of Milton Keynes. Some of you may be aware of the beauty and fun that is to be found there. Others of you, like me, may have failed to find any sign of it despite wandering around for hours. Literally hours. It seemed like days, but it was just literally hours. For you see on arriving in MK I found myself in the enviable position of having complete freedom to explore for a few hours until I was due to meet with friends. What happy hours they were, traipsing around, pulling my little luggage trolley as I found grey business park after grey business park, interspersed with grey car park after grey car park all joined up for us lucky pedestrians with a never ending series of grey underpasses and grey pathways. I am being quite unfairly harsh on MK of course, as I am neglecting to tell you of the highlight of my exploration, finding an Argos! Yes, that was indeed my highlight. Having been on a steady diet of grey office blocks and grey car parks for a couple of hours the discovery of an Argos made me very excited indeed. I eagerly went in and browsed the clearance catalogues and then treated myself to a meander around the shop itself browsing the display cabinets. It was only a matter of time though before the realisation dawned on me that I may be looking a little odd having been in there for such a long time and that it may be time to leave. So sadly I returned to the maze of grey underpasses and continued circling familiar grey ground until it was time to meet my friends.

I wanted to tell you about the loveliness of the Pearl Jam concert, but I think people may have heard enough about that and may not be able to endure anymore Eddie inspired rantings. So I shall just say it was very good indeed and Eddie was obviously as fabulous as expected.

I also wanted to tell you about the pleasures to be found wandering around Heaton Park in Manchester on a cold, blustery day with occasional showers while in the company of Sam and Henry. This won’t take much time as I don’t think there were any pleasures. There were lots of torments though. Henry became fixated on the little land train that we saw as we arrived and continued to ask “can we go on the train?” every few seconds (literally) until he was told that if he asked one more time then we would NOT be going on the train!!! At which point the train would rather predictably come chugging around the corner firing up Henry’s enthusiasm once more and a whole new series of “can we go on the train?” questions would start up again until he was told that if he asked one more time then we would NOT be going on the train!!! At which point the train would rather predictably come chugging around the corner firing up Henry’s enthusiasm once more and a whole new series of “can we go on the train?” questions would start up again until he was told that if he asked one more time then we would NOT be going on the train!!! At which point….oh, what’s that you say? This is getting very repetitive? Yes it is rather isn’t it? Well, that’s life with Henry I’m afraid. Welcome to my world.

I also wanted to tell you about the fun to be had wandering around Llandudno. Well, I say wandering, but more accurately it could be described as an alternating sprint and a very slow plod. You see Llandudno is a magnet for those of a rather ancient age and we frequently found ourselves stuck behind a posse of very slow moving folk, usually assisted by various sticks, frames and motorised contraptions (which despite having a motor seemed unable to move any faster than a slow plod). Sam and Henry would be constantly on the lookout for an opening in the group through which they could suddenly dart, and then the race was on trying to keep up with them as they sprinted ahead in search of the pier, selectively deaf to our calls to slow down and wait. Quite soon though their progress would be hampered once more as they encountered another posse of those of a rather ancient age and we were able to catch up, until they found another opening and shot off again.

I wanted so much to tell you about how lovely Llandudno is, if a little prompt to close. It would appear that the residents like to settle in early as by the time we had finished our adventures and explorations and were ready for a much needed, restorative ice cream/cup of tea/pint of vodka, which was at about 4pm, everywhere was closing. Just as we reached the end of the pier in our seemingly fruitless quest for refreshment we succeeded in sneaking through the closing doors of a cafe, thus evading being denied entry, and we successfully secured ourselves the last drinks that were to be served, if begrudgingly, that day. As the surfaces around us were wiped with a ‘we are actually closing you know’ type attitude, we chose to ignore the slight frostiness in the air and ordered our drinks anyway and chose to sit outside with them before we could be evicted from the premises. We decided that as a final treat before heading home we would see what seasidey type confection we could find. We set off excitedly, imagining the plethora of doughnuts, candy floss, toffee apples and popcorn that we would soon have the difficult decision to choose between. Luckily we were saved any such dilemmas as everything was shut. Everything. Despite the fact that it was still relatively early and there were lots of people around and that the sun was shining and lots of people were having all sorts of beach related fun, every one of the kiosks and shops were shut. Even the corner shop newsagents that had a window display full of sweets was shut. It would appear that if you want a sugar rush after 5pm in Llandudno then you are out of luck. If however you want to be entertained by ‘a good old 40s style knees up singalong around the piano’ then you most definitely are in luck. Just pop along to the Empire Hotel as that seemed to be quite the draw. Not for us though. That was our cue to head for home.

You see, there was so much I wanted to tell you but I just don’t have the time and……oh, good lord, it’s 1.20am! My tea has long grown cold and I’m destined to be tired and reluctant on my morning run. Oh dear. But at least I have written something on my blog. That should keep them quiet for a while, those people that have started saying “you haven’t written anything on your blog for sometime”. Now I have. I’ve written something on my blog.

Adventures on a train.

I have made it on to the train! This may not seem like a particularly big achievement but for me it is rather. Despite having been on numerous trains over the years I got all stressed on arriving at Stockport train station. Would I find my platform in time? (I only had 45 minutes until my train departed! ). Would I get on the right train? (Yes there were signs everywhere showing all the various trains, stations they call at, ETAs and departure times, as well as constant announcements and a customer service desk, which I had been to twice just to double check, but it could still happen!) Would I time going for a wee correctly? Not too soon as then I would need to go again, but not so late that I may miss the train! Which end of the platform should I stand at to get in my allocated car and seat? Would I even find my allocated car and seat? What if I didn’t get on before the doors closed? Would there be somewhere to put my bag? Would I get off at the right station? Is there more than one Milton Keynes station? These were just a few of my concerns. You see I do tend to get a little stressed and flustered when let out alone in the community. But I made it with no dramas and I even managed to buy a magazine while waiting. So here I am sat in my seat, unfortunately travelling backwards which is making me a bit queasy but it can’t be helped. I started off sitting quietly, happily reading my magazine and watching people stumble embarrassingly as they ventured down the aisle, but then I felt rather old fashioned because everybody around me was using some sort of technological thing – phones, tablets, laptops and the like. So I thought I too would get with the modern age and got my phone out, which is how I am now sitting writing this. I have had to put my music on though as the chap next to me (who hopefully isn’t reading this over my shoulder) started chewing gum at a rather distasteful if impressive volume and I really couldn’t stand listening to that any longer. So, here I am speeding backwards towards my destination, with Zach de la Rocha spewing musical profanities in my ear and with a rapidly depleting phone battery (I only have 75% left! What if it runs out before I’ve found where I’m meant to be?). I am going to finish now as I have a few stresses and concerns about what I’m going to do when I get to Milton Keynes. Will I get off at the right station? Will I locate my friend? Will I find the hotel? Will I ……. oh, I think you probably get the idea. So I may well need my phone to call for assistance, and would be well advised to preserve the battery. (74%!)

The joy of travelling with children.

mariannelouisehill

Yesterday was fun. Oh. Sorry. No. That’s not right. Yesterday was NOT fun. Yes, that’s more accurate. Yesterday I had the pleasure of….oh, no, that’s not right either. Oh yes, yesterday I had ENDURED three hours on a plane sat next to my youngest son Henry, the wiggliest, least patient, noisiest, most fidgety, most easily frustrated, chattiest and most inquisitive 4 year old you could ever hope to meet. Actually I had, very early on in the day harboured a rather faint hope that he would sleep on the plane. This was because he had in fact told me that he was going to sleep on the plane because he was so tired. I can see now that that was a foolish hope, a ridiculous hope and a hope that was quickly dashed when Henry spent the first 15 minutes on board repeatedly asking me “Are we flying yet? Are…

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The joy of travelling with children.

Yesterday was fun. Oh. Sorry. No. That’s not right. Yesterday was NOT fun. Yes, that’s more accurate. Yesterday I had the pleasure of….oh, no, that’s not right either. Oh yes, yesterday I had ENDURED three hours on a plane sat next to my youngest son Henry, the wiggliest, least patient, noisiest, most fidgety, most easily frustrated, chattiest and most inquisitive 4 year old you could ever hope to meet. Actually I had, very early on in the day harboured a rather faint hope that he would sleep on the plane. This was because he had in fact told me that he was going to sleep on the plane because he was so tired. I can see now that that was a foolish hope, a ridiculous hope and a hope that was quickly dashed when Henry spent the first 15 minutes on board repeatedly asking me “Are we flying yet? Are we in the sky? Are we flying yet? Are we in the sky?……….” when in actual fact we hadn’t even taxied to the runway. As we finally did taxi to the runway the questions became more varied, including “Why aren’t we going fast? Are we going the wrong way? Can I go on that orange plane instead? Can I play Angry Birds? I want my lunch/can I have my lunch?/when is it time for lunch?/is that my lunch?/where is my lunch?”

Rather positively we had, I think, made a good first impression with our fellow passengers. You see, it is a difficult time for all concerned when you board a plane with a young child in tow, especially when that young child is Henry, as you are very aware of people already seated looking from you to the vacant seats next to them, no doubt thinking ‘please don’t sit next time me’. But once we had located our lucky victim and she had even managed to smile while she moved out of her seat to let us into ours, Henry had stood in front of his seat, fastened his seat belt and loudly proclaimed “I did it mummy!”, to which I replied “That’s great Henry, but you’re not actually in it”, to which those sat within earshot chuckled quite heartily and vocally. Encouraging first steps I’m sure you will agree. However, as his bombardment of questions began the favourable impression Henry had created began to falter, helped speedily along on its way by the removal and launching of his socks, the noisy clashing of toy cars in an impromptu and violent game of ‘car wars’, several gratuitous uses of the words ‘poo poo’ and ‘bottom’ and, of course, a couple of potent, laughter inducing trumps.

Luckily attention was promptly diverted away from us by the discovery that David Dickinson was on board! Yes, David Dickinson! Daytime TV hero! Word of the celebrity in our midst quickly spread like wildfire among the star struck pensioners in the nearby seats. Combine this with the collective excitement as the buffet service commenced, which caused people to hurriedly consult the menu, and with the resulting musical jingle as people starting to count out their change, drop their change and scramble about trying to find their change once more in the confined space, and before we knew it we were soon forgotten in the ensuing melee. In fact Henry became so engrossed in playing Angry Birds that I even dared to get out my book and I actually managed to read some of it. Admittedly our almost harmonious state was regularly punctuated by Henry whining/moaning/throwing the iPad/crying/throwing socks due to frustration at not being able to complete some particularly challenging stage of the game, but each time I was able to temporarily calm the storm by administering some sort of sweet. And so we continued for the remainder of the flight, with me rather tensely braced for another outburst at any time, armed with a diminishing supply of sweets until, a seeming eternity later we arrived at our destination where we were once again free to roam, and to embark on numerous, new chapters of travel based fun en route to our final destination, such as waiting to get off the plane, waiting at passport control, waiting at baggage reclaim, waiting at the car rental place and eventually waiting in traffic jams, and for me, the never ending wait for the distant light at the end of the tunnel, bedtime.

The joy of travelling with children.