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Monthly Archives: August 2011

Just when you think your baby can’t get grubbier…

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you go camping.

There wasn’t much hope for Ramona. Her mother is one of those shower-averse Brits that substantiate the “myth” that we are an unclean nation. (I put myth in quotation marks as I like to think that there are more of us in the closet, you know?) Even at 28 years old she can’t remember to clean her teeth (and twice a day? Really? Booorrring.) and a brush only goes near her hair to backcomb it.

I like to think I embrace a layer of grime proudly, for aren’t pheromones -or Furry Gnomes as we call them- a vital sign? But clearly by writing that first bit in the third person I am somewhat distancing myself from that mucky sod.

So Ramona was never gonna be a prim and proper, nit pickily clean little lady. Or just clean.

She manages it for about the first ten minutes after a bath. And then she generally finds some food. Baby Led Weaning is one messy buisness. Yesterday she crawled off to the blackberry bush and ended up looking like she belonged in a horror film.

But, gosh, camping? That is seriously Next Level.  All that dust and mud and not a sink within dashing distance.

One night we were heading to bed late, we had put up the tent, cooked and eaten tea in the dark but I felt I ought to duck in the shower with Ramona as it had been a sweaty old day. As I turned the light on I expected to see Ramona covered in the tomato sauce from the pasta. She was. But I didn’t expect to see stuck on to this layer, a thick film of the dark dust surrounding our tent. She looked like a chimney sweep from Camberwell circa 1872.

And we are off camping again tomorrow to the probably not so hot as France but equally lush land of Glochestourestershire (pronounced Gloster). Meanwhile here are some snaps of the French campitycamp.

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That time we drove 12 hours to go to a car boot sale

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We went to France ten days ago and, I swear, we didn’t have a clue where we were going or what to do there except that I had seen a snippet online; “the Vendee’s biggest flea market“, and being so beloved of the humble car boot,we thought that was as good a starting place as any.  And French old stuff is definitely cooler looking than English old stuff. Our lovely friends (Jenny is newly identifiable in blogville over at Talking up the good) lent us their wheels and we zipped off. We left on Friday and needed to be there for the Sunday- and after 2 days in the car we were wondering why France is so gosh darn big and whether we should have looked to see if there were any flea markets closer to Calais…

But we made it. And we had a mission, to try and find storage for all our previous cupboard incumbents, that now will sit on an open shelf in the kitchen.  We have been looking for something for ages but second hand storage is hard to find, and we try mightily to steer away from Ikea and buying anything new. There really isn’t a need as there is already way too many plastic containers on this earth. But sometimes this calling leads you to inevitably rainy and muddy corners  of Europe.

We got this load of enamel and glass, all ranging between 2 and 5 Euros, they will look perfect in our kitchen, though we may have to get rid of a little rust. And that wee kettle was idealio for our camping stove. (Also in the pic our newly revealed brick and boards as part our our kitchen overhaul woo!)On our way home, after swimming and chateaux visiting in the Loire valley we stopped in on the Paris flea markets at Porte de Montreuil and picked up another enamel thing (!), some clothes for Ramona (France do the best kids clothes no pink in sight but lots of cord and bloomers!) and an ancient cute hair clip.  All between 1 and 2 Euros.I read a thing in the Guardian yesterday about Hauling– teens doing youtube vids of the bargains they bought and I realise this isn’t much better. I am shamefaced, but I turn to you with imploring eyes and ask  “Is it not more of an achievement if I had to sift through rancid, boggle eyed stuffed otters and vintage Girly mags (old porn is still porn French people!!!!) to uncover this stuff?”

Besides, I am only doing this to INSPIRE and ENCOURAGE the world to spurn it’s new, plastic, matching set ways and discover the treasures to be found in the furriest, greasiest crevices of Jumble World. In France it is called Brocante, which sounds very much like the noise a chicken makes if you squawk it. This got us through some of our darker moments stuck in traffic on a peage (a PEAGE! I KNOW!! Ripped. Off.) Actually in hindsight every word sounds like a chicken noise if you squawk it…

We spent our last wonderful day lolling in the gardens at Versailles. Then the car, um, broke down. But  that’s a story for another day…

Bubbles: the last word in lazy parent tricks

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When I am feeling a bit weary and Ramona is in need of entertainment I put something ethereal on the boombox, say, Fleet Foxes or a bit of classical, and then I lay on the sofa, her in the crook of my arm, and I blow bubbles. We can do this for a good twenty minutes. It is sublime and, nearly always, just the ticket. Needless to say, I am also become  wicked at blowing big bubbles.

My friend Dan Fone took these:

These close ups of Ramona would be classics if it wasn’t for the delicious but crusty smudge of Boursin on her forehead.

Another time I will go Next Level with my own bubble mix and enormous homemade wand.

PS I am actually on ‘oliday in France right now but with my technical wizardry have managed to post this in my absence so you, my dear readers, don’t think I have fallen off the blagon. (New word- blog and wagon. You’re welcome.)

The writing (and a pair of flares) is on the wall

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When I was 14 a can of spray adhesive changed my world. (By world I mean bedroom.) Gone were the tatty, blu tacked up Green Day posters and up went all manner of random stuff that shouldn’t naturally be stuck on walls. A pair of purple velvet flares that didnt fit me anymore. Some balls of tin foil. Wrapping paper, letters, the necklace I made out of ring pulls. (Even as a tike I liked digging around in bins.) It all went up, stuck solid.

Recently I have gotten back in touch with that spray adhesive loving 14 year old, but in less of a 3D way.

This is a line from a Foy Vance song. You don’t know him??? Shivering timbrels, you must check him out.

This is an ancient pack of Happy Families.


We have decided to keep our walls bare with all their cracks and concrete and plaster imperfections because we genuinely really like that bald, rough look. And easier to paste things up. (Got any spare flares?)

It does seem a bit weird posting about something so trivial while the UK is rioting. So to add a little depth… the solution is clearly for more love to get walking around, then we’ll all be happy families.

?????

Sort of.

But these are some links I have nodded along to- less “pointless violence by stupid youths” and more “awful violence by hopeless youths but maybe there is a point in here somewhere about inequality and life chances.”

Caring Costs but so do riots – The Independant

They don’t respect police or their parents – Guardian

Psychology of looting – Guardian

“…just because there is no political agenda on the part of the rioters doesn’t mean the answer isn’t rooted in politics.”

Yeah, yeah, the Indy and the Guardian? But, woah, what’s this!!

The underclass lashes out – Telegraph

So, peace and stay safe all. Let’s walk a little love up to some people’s faces.

The day Ramona discovered ears

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Today Ramona did her first proper crawl AND she learnt to take steps while holding our hands. But the discovery she was most enthusiastic about? My ear. She thought it was excellent, quite handclappingly hilarious and was entertained by it for FIFTEEN minutes.

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The Ominous Silence of babies and toddlers

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Ramona has already begun doing things I associate with parenting toddlers- drinking bath water? I have three more years of this? She literally bends double in the bath to slurp up that murky, soapy goodness. The other thing is going deathly quiet when doing something bad. When my sister hears that silence she is guaranteed to find little Jude having unravelled every toilet roll in the house.

Today I was busy backcombing my quiff and heard that silence (in some ways as loud as a siren – who would have thought the absence of a nine month old baby’s babbling, gurgling and shuffling could be so piercing?!) to find her having a grand old chomp on my ipod cable with her two gnarly teeth. Yesterday I busted her tearing up tissue and stuffing it in her mouth.

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What’s with this??

How could she possibly know that she shouldn’t be doing that?

But she knows, otherwise she would be carrying on with her sweet little babysong, innocently destroying all the important wires in our house. (You say it is because these things involve her mouth being industrious? But no, it it isn’t because I am telling you, when she breastfeeds she makes THE LOUDEST NOISE YOU HAVE EVER HEARD. It is the muffled growl of a clan of starving lion cubs setting upon the tender flesh of a big eyed gazelle. It increases several decibels when in peaceful, public places.)

I am on to you Ramona with your silent, sneaky ways. I’m on to you…

Now we’re cooking with gas…

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You may remember that upon moving into this home we did a quick and dirty makeover on our hideous kitchen– EXACTLY ONE YEAR AGO TO THIS DAY. We were going to leave it in this shabby chic glory… but then we found an oven.
It is a 1950’s gas oven, left in the street, destined for the dump. We had to salvage that puppy. And, well, I guess we need a kitchen to honour it. It would just be  RUDE to leave our nineties laminate flooring  at it’s feet, and a countrified, fake beamed ceiling at it’s brow. So Tim is ripping it all out now, as I speak, thrashing around all handsome and sweaty with his sledgehammer.

We are going for the industrial vintage look, with some stand alone cupboards we found in the same place as the oven and a few other cheap, old things we have found from ebay. The original floor boards will be revealed and we have a bit of an old massive organ to use as a shelf.

At the moment it looks like a bombsite…

but soon and very soon it will look THE BOMB.