Friday, 29 January 2010

It's Friday night. I'm sitting outside in the velvety warmth of the evening drinking a glass of wine while I wait for the husband. Luckily for him there is steak, baked potatoes, salad and beer to pour into him when he gets home. He has been working over the Christmas holidays on a job at a school about an hour from us - moving classrooms, building new ones and being ready for the start of the school term on the 4th February is critical. Every day (including weekends) he is up at 5.40am and he comes home looking incredibly dusty and overheated. It has been such a long time since I have been in gainful employment and I have never done anything as physically exhausting as hard manual labour so I am in awe of his diligence and energy output under such sweltering conditions (we are into the thick of summer - about 27 degrees and hot sun every day). Hopefully when the job finishes he will be able to take few well earned days off to relax.

My career path to housewife has been all over the place. I have been a pot scrubber, French teacher, barmaid, sports spread betting trader but the most painful job was doing the night shift at a salad factory during university holidays. My best mate and I thought we had hit the jackpot in securing the post at Bourne Salads for the princely sum of four quid fifty per hour. This a clear few pence above minimum wage and we were seriously excited about the riches we felt we would earn. We spent about 10 chilly hours every night standing opposite each other over a table at which we would haul freezing boxes of lettuce from the ever circulating conveyor belt. Depending on the variety of lettuce we would have to chop the leaves in a particular style and shape. These artfully crafted leaves would then pile up into a plastic crate beside us until the requisite weight was reached and we could move onto the next job. Radicchio was piss easy. Heavy leaves. Little gem - seriously annoying. Not only is there little weight to them but mother nature was not considerate to our cause in their design. It takes forever to carefully peel each little love from the rest of the lettuce.

There were a number of things which hindered our progress in drumming up kilos of lettuce at a rate of knots. The first was the temperature inside the place. Standing inside a giant, wet fridge does nothing for your fine motor skills. Numb, useless fingers fumbled around with the delicate feuilles until they were in an acceptable state for shoving into plastic bags and selling to the masses. The second thing which stood between us and swift shredding was the state of the knives. It was barely possible to work out which was the cutting side of the thing so blunt were the blades. As you exerted pressure on the knife it would slide across the surface of the lettuce and the pointed end would jab into dead fingers. This would then necessitate a blue plaster (have you ever found one in your designer bag of herbed salad?) which made a fiddly job more fiddly.

What I did love though was being paid to stand opposite my best mate and talk about crap for hours on end (I could win an Olympic medal in talking about crap for hours). We blew all our money on pints of snakebite and black on the weekend and managed to save close to nothing. It taught me a thing or two though about getting my degree in order to increase my chances of getting a well paid, fulfilling job. I couldn't eat lettuce for a few years either. But that's hardly a hardship.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010


Anticipation is a heart huggingly, sunnily happy state of mind interspersed with involuntary chuckles. This evening I feel so excited I can barely contain myself. Let me explain.

1. This morning I spoke to my two best friends at home in England. One has started a brand new job and the other has a brand new baby. They are both in great spirits and I love them both dearly.

2. One of my lovely friends in NZ who has been away for the last six weeks got back today so I enjoyed a good old chin wag with her and heard about some exciting adventures in the South Island.

3. Two of my nieces are staying the night with us. As I type this the five children are tearing round in the evening sunshine giggling and revelling in each others' company.

4. Tomorrow is my 35th birthday. We are having lots of friends round for a barbeque, drinks and egg and spoon, three legged and relay races on our newly flattened lawn.

5. The biggest, most exciting thing which tickles me though is the imminent arrival of my parents tomorrow morning for seven long, glorious weeks. I miss them all day every day when I'm not with them and now I won't have to.

Utter bliss.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Welcome to the world

A few of my close friends back in the UK have just had or are expecting their first child. Talking to them has taken me back to being pregnant and having the lad. We were living in London in Queen's Park at the time. I wanted to have a homebirth as the motorbike accident I had had all those years ago made it hard to be in hospitals. Unbidden, the minute I walked in the doors and entered the place I could feel a hollow, toxic darkness drift down and settle inside my brain. Some of the thoughts I had had after the accident would replay and I would always start thinking of my sweet, funny friend who had so sadly died along with the other person we crashed into. Although I was riding pillion I have often felt a crushing sense of guilt about my friend's death which is common with any kind of trauma. Guilt snuffs out confidence and happiness quickly. It is viral in its ability to steal into all aspects of your thoughts and suck positivity and hope into its dark and gaping mouth. So we planned a homebirth which was to take place in our little house in Queen's Park. I read Ina May Gaskin's Spiritual Midwifery which is beautifully uplifting, very happy clappy (it's packed to the rafters with birth stories from God loving hippies living in buses in America during the seventies) and nearly all the births take place at home. It was great to read positive stories and pretty entertaining "I knew that Esther was ready to give birth because her aura glowed as we swam in the creek that morning." I love it!

The lad ended up arriving 17 days after my due date and the labour was long and slow. At one point I went into hospital to have them listen to the baby's heart rate on a monitor which I had been doing every morning for the preceding week and the midwives suggested I stay in hospital to have the baby as he was overdue. Very teary and upset I checked into hospital and the husband's brother who lives in London was sent to our house to pack a few things for me (he chose remarkably well actually). After a couple of hours of watching the lad's heart rate tick away perfectly well, I started to feel like the baby would not come if we stayed in hospital. At 6cm dilated and with the waters having been artificially ruptured (ostensibly to check for meconium which may signal distress in the baby) and been found to be clear I checked out of St Mary's in Paddington, went outside and hailed a black cab with the husband. The ride home over many bumps and potholes will forever stay etched in my memory as one of excruciating discomfort but a few hours later at 6.30pm the lad was born in our bedroom. Three hours after that both midwives left and my exhausted husband and his no longer pregnant wife began life as a family. I was completely and utterly fucked. Having had no sleep for 2 days and 2 nights and not much to eat for a long time there was just nothing left in the tank. The baby started to cry and we just looked at him in horror. Now what?

"What's wrong with him? Why is he crying?" the husband spluttered. I was clueless so the husband made me call the hospital.

hosp: Hello, maternity ward

me: Hi, erm, I've just had a baby and he's crying. What should I do?

hosp: What do you mean 'you have just had a baby?'

me: I had a homebirth

hosp: Well he is probably hungry you'll need to feed him

me: (rather chirpily) OK thanks, bye!

I attempted to breast feed him . The pain was shocking, I was way too tired and disinterested and just wanted to be left along. The first night of the lad's life was spent wrapped up in a blanket over his Daddy's shoulder being rocked on a rocking chair while I slept upstairs. The husband had played a starring role in his birth and immediately turned into the best Daddy in the world. Because he is self employed, 36 hours after the baby was born he was back to work. Those first few days were a blur of exhaustion, confusion and fear of the scarily new, tiny, screaming thing. When the lad was 10 days old my mum (who was staying with us to help) and husband suggested I go up to stay at my parents' house with the lad. A week of rest, help, love and support from my mum and dad and we were back on track. We were lucky that he necked bottles of milk easily and slept well but the adjustment to caring for a newborn is massive. It is such a unique time in your life as by the time you have another baby you are deeply ensconced in motherhood and it's not such a shock to the system. I loved the feeling of being bonded together with the husband as a family by our tiny baby.

The lad has converted masses of powdered formula and spaghetti bolognese into more lad and is now a happy, confident little boy. What a miracle it is to grow a baby in your tummy and watch the baby grow into a person. How cool to watch this miracle unfold before your very eyes each and every day. It's well lush innit?

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Being let off the worst job in the world

The pressure of looking after, lifting and being bashed by children is taking its toll on my useless right arm. There are three main areas of pain which are ever present. The first is the hypersensitivity of the skin from the neck all the way down to the fingertips. The second type of pain is a deep muscular ache in my neck, scapula and back on the right side all up in the shoulder area and stretching down the side. The third and most vicious type is the nerve pain inside my arm which pans from the neck down to the finger tips. The injury I sustained in the motorbike accident nine years ago affected my right brachial plexus. This is the trunk of nerves which extends from your spine and services the muscles throughout your arm. I think the medical term for mine was 'fucked'. A month after the accident I had new surgery (only 15 or 20 years old at the time - before that they just lopped the offending limb off) to take the sural nerves from both my legs, leaving me a fishnet stockings style scar from the back of my knee to the heel on both legs, and use these nerves to create pathways for the 12 damaged nerves sitting in my neck where the brachial plexus had been yanked from its cosy home in my spine as a result of landing on my head and shoulder from some height. Some of the nerves regrew over the period of seven years or so, some didn't. As a result of all this, the nerve pain inside my arm is ever present. The pain is unlike any other I have experienced. The bones in my hand and forearm can feel like they are being gripped by freezing cold, metal pliers and twisted in directions they shouldn't be going even though the hand is resting comfortably on my lap. As bizarre as it may sound though the pain has become my companion. I can't imagine anymore what it must feel like to have 'silence' inside your body. There has been a constant thrum inside mine for so long. It's a bit like listening to white noise. Not entirely unpleasant but you'd probably quite like to find the source and flick the switch off.

It's not all doom and gloom though. There is one enormous benefit of having a dodgy arm and it's this - I absolutely can't stand moving boxes round and carrying stuff up and down stairs so I have been generously let off this irksome task by the universe and those who make these kinds of decisions. Pickfords Removal Man has never been on my list of dream jobs. Just lugging stuff around irritates the living daylights out of me. Ever since I was young I have liked to travel extremely light. It must be genetic as my brother is the same. I recall at the age of 16 my bro and I landed in Kuala Lumpur, home from school for the summer holidays. My mother was horrified to learn that my brother had only hand luggage with him to last the following 7 weeks but not quite as horrified as when she realised that all he had in his hand luggage was a trumpet. Until my littlies arrived on the scene I had never owned a handbag or a wallet. All I used to take out was a credit card, mobile phone and a house key round my neck. In fact I clearly remember all those years ago when I was told by the consultant in gentle tones that my arm would remain fairly useless thinking "fucking wicked I never have to pick up another box again". I think at this point I should thank my lovely friends who have had to move my crap around London between flats and to my lovely husband who has had to move our crap all the way round the world.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Read long, straight and hard

Two friends have decided to start a book club. It will be just a few of us meeting once a month to chat about and swap books we have read. We all see one another times a week so are each inviting someone who the others don't know too well and who is also keen to expand their minds just outside the universe of scraping cement like weetabix off tables and floors. The first one is to be this evening held at my house. I told the husband about it last night. "Great" he says "I'll be the treasurer as well as deal with all the admin and membership. You''ll need a motto" he continued "I suggest 'read long, straight and hard'."

"Erm sorry darling, I don't think it's going to be that kind of club"

There was no stopping him now he was into entrepreneur mode "Subs will be $50 per year. We'll get the motto printed onto a bookmark it should only cost a couple of bucks per bookmark."

"So what will happen to the other $48?" I mused

"That goes towards the end of year bash. I'll organise a male stripper. Or better still I'll save some cash and do it myself."

I contemplated the very swift change of direction book club was taking. As I pondered how much my sister in law and close friends (who are also close friends of the husband) would take to seeing him whip off his skiddies while they downed Lindauer in our front room he threw in his last suggestion.

"We'll have the bookmarks shaped like dildos."

Aah yes, perfect for slipping between the pages of a slim book.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Podium dancing

It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday this weekend which was perfect for our street party. Last week I posted leaflets through everybody's doors suggesting we meet at the beach and eat sausages and drink beer in order to celebrate living on our lovely road. We do lots of socialising on our road - the husband's brother lives opposite us with his young family and we get together with lots of others all hailing from our little stretch. Being with lots of people is very high on my list of favourite things to do. I know not everybody loves small talk but I absolutely love getting to know new people. We had a great turnout and the children ran wild all together making it a perfect Saturday lunchtime activity.

On Saturday evening the husband and I went to a party at a friend's house 20 minute's drive away. We drove with two friends and booked a dial-a-driver (the dude who arrives on a scooter, packs in into your boot and deposits you and your car safely back home. Genius) to pick us up at midnight. The friends whose party it was have been laying low for nearly a year now. They had their third child last February and have barely surfaced for air since. This being their official reintegration back into society we were greeted with tequila shots and champagne. I had provided 2 watermelons full of vodka. The watermelon-vodka combo is absolutely lethal. The delicious sweetness of the watermelon is set off perfectly by the strong, bitter vodka and the result is catatonic drunkeness. At 11.30pm I texted the dial a driver to ask him to come at 1am. Then I texted him at 12.30am to come at 2am. Dancing was in full flow and the tables were being used to good effect as podiums. Roll on 3am and we were just about ready to go home. A quick 2 and a half hours of sleep later and it was straight into whipping up scrambled eggs and dishing out milk to the three happy little sunbeams. Tiring it may have been but we had such a fantastic night full of laughter, darts competitions and dancing it was thoroughly worth it.

Something seriously exciting has happened in my tiny universe today. My parents have packed their bags, driven through the icy roads at home to the airport and are, as I type, tearing full throttle through the sky towards us. They are going to see my uncle in Perth first but a week on Wednesday (which also happens to be my 35th birthday) they will be arriving here in New Zealand for a whole 7 weeks. I'm beside myself with excitement at the thought of being able to see them every day. Hurrah!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Shape throwing

Sometimes our night times can be pretty chaotic. Twin1 was awake crying as if the ceiling was collapsing in her bedroom on and off from 7pm until about 11pm when the husband and I administered paracetamol and she eventually drifted off. At about 1am twin2 took up the baton and put in some good wailing. She was eventually dosed and grumbled away for quite some time before finally succumbing to blissful sleep. At 4am there were shouts for Daddy in the lad's room. The husband is the softest touch ever so hauled him into our bed to sleep. Although there is nothing lovelier than cuddling your littlies in bed with you, I find it almost impossible to sleep with them in there. As a result I'm feeling rather befuddled today.

Waking up in the night to deal with crying babies can be a very disorientating experience. I tend to throw whatever I can at the situation to stop the crying as quickly as possible - milk, Calpol, cuddles. Bizarrely even though twin1 is a pretty light sleeper and wakes at the merest hint of the rustle of a feather she can sleep smilingly through twin2's banshee type yells in the night. How does that work? Twin1 cries nearly every night but twin2 never wakes up to it either.

The twins sleep in their own cots in the same room and the lad has his own room. When the babies are about three years old I would like to have two sets of bunk beds in one room so the three children can sleep together and use the other room as a play room. The twins are often grouped together as one item (look, I just did it there by referring to them as 'the twins'). Whilst looking after them as babies it is difficult to split them up really. If my parents lived here I would do lots more with them separately because they'd have any combination of the children but so far we haven't really managed to do it. As they edge into toddlerdom and are capable of speech and walking I would really like to be able to treat them all as total individuals. I am hoping that them all sharing the same bedroom will be beneficial for each of their relationships with each other.

Today the sun is beaming down from the brightest blue sky and our town is gearing up for Blues, Brews and Barbeques. This event is an annual shindig held not 200m from our house in a huge park. There will be (as the title suggests) plenty of beer, food and music to dance to (or in my case launch myself into bizarre and poorly worked shapes). I absolutely love this kind of thing. Loads of people wandering round, laughing-a-plenty and singing along to a band with my husband and friends. Let's just hope the children show their generous side by sleeping extremely deeply all night and gently surfacing around 8am. I can dream can't I?

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Alcoholic Daze

I have been reading the Alcoholic Daze blog today. I stumbled upon it and now the words are stuck in my head. Although we all know that many people live with spouses and relatives with addictions, to read the minutae of that life from that spouse's perspective is another thing altogether.

Building a loving life with your husband is wonderful. It makes you feel fulfilled, supported, full of fun and love and happiness. Reading this lovely, brave, determined lady's blog has made me think about all the different and unpredictable twists and turns your well laid intentions can take. No one can forsee the direction their life will take nor how their decisions under different circumstances will affect the path of their life. Like many others I am guilty of jumping to conclusions. Not judging others is one of the most important ways of being kind and thoughtful. Alcoholic Daze's blog has reminded me to do it myself.
Kelly these pics are for you. I just looked out of the kitchen as I was writing my blog and the sky turned orange under my gaze.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Rocket science

I have just spent a perfect hour with the lad. The twins were asleep, the husband is at Bunnings (NZ answer to B&Q) so the lad and I sat outside in the morning sunshine and painted each other's nails. He asked me to sit still and said that the pearlised pink nail polish he had chosen made him feel like we had rainbows in our hands. I damn near folded over inside with love for the little boy. A few months ago before I went back to England for nine weeks he was getting seriously difficult to deal with. The time at home with my parents was perfect as I got to spend lots of time with each of the children individually. My parents offer such an vast amount of support, never get annoyed with crying babies or toddlers and do such interesting things with them all as well as constant cuddling and chatting. Predictably this benefited the lad enormously so by the time we came back to NZ he had calmed down quite a bit. Recently he has been more tricky again. He is hard to discipline as he has an answer for everything (any of my close friends reading this will be scoffing in recognition of this clearly hereditary trait) and is unafraid of standing up for himself even in the face of a puce, boggled eyed, raging mother. Two days ago I spent a good hour making jigsaws with him, yesterday he helped me cook all morning and today we had more time together in the garden. There is no doubt that when I find time to direct all my attention at him he is miles happier and more amenable. It's not rocket science, we all know how it works.

The picture isn't relevant to the post - just one of me on Christmas Day. I love a bit of puerile humour.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

I am against change, even if it is for the better

"I am opposed to change, even if it is for the better". The octogenarian, blazer wearing, moustache toting chap who exclaimed this to cheers of "hear, hear" at a dinner for a gentleman's club one of my friends belongs to clearly has no experience (or maybe memory) of raising a little tribe of children. This week I have banished all bottles from the house - not those containing such elixirs as wine and beer but rather those fiddly, hard to wash and put together ones into which you are constantly sloshing milk. Luckily the twins are only 15 months old so have barely registered their absence. The lad however has become something of a milk fiend over the past year or so sending our dairy bill sky high so he hasn't been quite so enamoured with this particular change. I have other motives for getting rid of the things too. When the twins start toilet training in a year or so it will be I hope a faster process as they won't be drinking half a pint of liquid before they go to sleep each night. For a year I was changing three sets of nappies. Now I'm down to just two I'm keen to make it none. The early years of your children's lives are deeply precious and I feel strange at cheering on these miniscule movements towards the blessed day that they can all walk on their own (I gaze open mouthed in envy at people walking down the street with their children easily keeping the same pace beside them and with no double Mountain Buggy carving the way). I'm also aware though that I will look back at changing their nappies and sitting down three times a day to feed them all with nostalgia and winsome fondness and possible even miss pushing the chariot around which, rather impressively takes all three of the children (twins in the pushchair and the lad sitting on the foot bar).

The children's independence will, I hope, mark a period of less pain in my arm. Because of the nerve damage in my arm it is painful all the time. As this has been a constant for nine years now, the pain registers in my brain as more of a 'different' sensation rather than anything which makes me feel uncomfortable. Having children and especially twins has exacerbated the pain as the lad either slings his arms round my neck (where the nerve damage starts - the trunk of nerves called the brachial plexus comes from the spine and splits up to feed various muscles in the arm and hand) or as I try to use my hand on the bad side to do jobs it really can't do while I'm lugging a baby round on my hip. The worst thing about the state of my arm is the way it affects the children. Because of the pain and also frustration I feel at my ineffectiveness at some tasks, I get irritable and snappy. The inevitable result being that my special little children bare the brunt of it. This upsets me terribly and I try hard to keep it in check.

Because of this and so much more, I can say I am happily pro change, whatever the reason.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Roll on next Christmas

Yesterday the husband went over to a friend's house with twin2 and the lad. I stayed at home with twin1 while she had a nap. When they all came home the husband was rosy cheeked and full of vim. "Next Christmas, my darling, will be in England" he announced.

Now I know thay we have only just pulled down the Christmas decorations and found places for the myriad multicoloured plastic gadgets Father Christmas lobbed down the chimney but I am now sooooooooo excited about next Christmas. The last cold Christmas I had was in 2005 and it was an awesome one. It was the first Christmas with the husband (who was then 'the boyfriend') and we got engaged that New Year's Eve in Austria under the falling snow and sparkling fireworks.

All I can think of is wearing boots and coats and scarves, walking to the pub and stomping your feet in front of an open fire clutching a mug of steaming mulled wine. Spending Christmas with my parents in their lovely family home with my own little family will be fantastic. My brother and his wife won't be there as they will be running their cosy, beautiful chalet in Chamonix (if you fancy a holiday go to Having them there really would be the icing on the cake but it's a good excuse to go over and ski. Ooh yeah baby roll on next Christmas.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Tree Hugger

I love this tree. It's in our front garden. I think it's a Robinia. The leaves range from deep mustard yellow to the creamiest, mint green. Wherever you are in the living room, dining room or sitting outside the front of the house you can see the gorgeous thing waving its branches in the breeze. Knowing that the tree belongs to us makes me feel very grown up. More grown up than being a Mum or a wife or paying a mortgage. Apart from the fact that it can stand alone as a thing of beauty it is quite special because the spit of land upon which Mount Maunganui resides is made entirely of sand so these sorts of trees are few and far between. There are more Norfolk Pines than you could shake a stick at and plenty of palm trees. My tree knocks the spots off all arboresque competition however and I adore it. It reminds me of home. I miss the countryside in Britain. I'm thinking of skinny, never ending, windy roads surrounded by ancient, leafy woods and fringed with cows parsley. Rambling old pubs with low ceilings, wooden beams and locals at the bar. Where we live in New Zealand is pretty distant from that picture. We live on a beautiful beach (see the pic at the top of my blog) in a town which boomed in the eighties. I think it would be fair to say that Mount Maunganui is not the jewel in New Zealand's architectural crown. During my first year here I could think of nothing but the gorgeous, chocolate box villages at home nestled into my beloved English countryside. I grew increasingly irritated looking at the houses here at the Mount and had no interest in the one we bought whatsoever. During a conversation with my cousin in England who is planning to move to Australia with her Aussie husband, she said that the one thing she would not do would be to compare Australia to England. I gulped and blushed as I realised that I had been doing exactly that for the last year. Coming back to NZ I found it so much easier to enjoy the place for what it really has to offer instead of what it lacked. When I walk through our streets now I am interested in why the houses were built as they were, think of the generations of families who have been here a long time and seen their sparsely populated idyll mushroom into the busy, tourist hotspot it is today. I'm becoming rather attached to the house we live in. The husband tore it back to a shell and lovingly built a new house house to cater for our growing brood.

I'm writing this today because I was looking at the title of Iota's blog which is called 'Not wrong, just different'. She moved to America as a Brit and was wary of her reactions to a new place. It seems that I could have benefited from reading that a couple of years ago. The other reason I'm writing it is because I'm really enjoying feeling positive about New Zealand and feeling lucky to love Blighty so much but be given an opportunity to enjoy a different country too. On the note of positivity I shall leave you with this little anecdote.

Not one hour before typing this I was trawling twin1 and twin2 round the supermarket. At the checkout the homely Farah Fawcett lovely told me how lucky I was to have twins. I agreed and asked her if she had any children. She said she had had four children, then her husband left her and ended up looking after 8 children as her oldest daughter had a baby at home and 2 cousins came to live with them plus a boyfriend as there was so much trouble in the cousins' families. She fed them all on $60 per week. Let me tell you she looked beautiful, perky and happy. She said "well it never did me any harm looking after them all'. I looked at her name badge and she's called Miel which means honey in French. What a legend of a lady.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Hallowed turf

Check out the pictures of the lush, beautiful lawn which now replaces the slope at the back of our house. The husband has many talents - one of which is that he is a 'finisher of projects'. Two weeks ago ready grown lawn was delivered to our doorstep and the husband painstakingly laid it. We were told to water it regularly and to wait 10 days before we walked on it. It all sounded fairly basic to me but the husband treated the grass with the kind of attentiveness a newborn baby affords. Every night for the last couple of weeks if he has woken up in the night he would go outside, check how wet the grass was and tinker with the rate at which the water came out of the sprinkler. His alarm was set for 5am every day and he has been out there, studiously watching the water pitter patter onto his pride and joy. When we drove to Taranaki for the weekend to see Fleetwood Mac his brother was drafted in to get up at 5am and turn the sprinkler on (luckily they are very close and the brother didn't think this was either odd or too much to ask). This was suplemented by several daily strolls round the perimeter watering the places the sprinkler couldn't reach with a hose. After 10 days I tentatively asked if we could walk on the hallowed turf. "One more day" I was told. Two days later I was informed it should only be a couple more days until we can use the garden. Today, 19 days after the lawn was laid, the lad ran riot and we moved the trampoline down there too. The obsession has paid off and we now have the most fantastic extra bit of garden. What a clever man you are, thank you oh husband of mine.

This year I have a goal. I can't really call it a resolution as such but something to work towards. A few months ago my brother married his lovely girlfriend. She has changed his life in the most profoundly positive way possible and has made him a very happy person. Although they live a mere 11,000 miles or so away from us (they are in Chamonix, France and we are in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand) I would like to spend more time with them and get to know my new sister in law better. A fairly fantastical wish but I have a few ideas up my sleeve. Unfortunately all the ideas need pots of cash to finance them and involve travelling the aforementioned 11,000 miles. We had talked about going to France for the winter season at the end of 2010 some time ago but a few other spanners have been thrown into the works since then. Anyway we can but try, can we not?


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