Sunday, August 10, 2008


So, we have been frantically getting ready for our Zambian trip for the last few days - I say we... Lurch spent the day with his feet up reading the paper or watching Carry on Cruising, but then again he has spent the last six weekends working and he is SO stressed. Fair enough. Boys thoughtfully have been changing their clothes on the hour every hour - they are now wearing tiny clothes destined for the charity shop and, if I could tie their hands behind their backs, I would.

I have hardly had a spare moment to myself, why? I'm afraid it's that time of year, or should I say every 4 years, yes it's the Olympics. Whilst everybody else is bored or vaguely interested I have had to fit my washing, ironing, shopping, social life, work etc around an extremely heavy schedule of viewing; the opening ceremony (big WOW! is all I can say, there were tears in my eyes at the beauty of it and I nearly booked a ticket to China there and then) boxing, swimming, synchronised diving, archery, extremely long bike rides, rowing, badminton and gymnastics. I love it, all of it. I think it's to do with pure admiration for people spending their whole lives training for one moment, however strange, it's absolutely incredible. I will miss most of it though as we'll be in Zambia and Lurch assures me televisions will be few and far between. He believed me when I said I was getting up at 3.50am to watch the swimming tomorrow, that's how engrossed I am.

Which leads me on to another subject, I am concerned about my Great North Run training, how am I going to do it in Africa? Any advice would be greatly welcomed. I have visions of early morning runs, to avoid the heat, finishing in being hunted down by savage packs of hyenas and eaten for breakfast. Will have to consult local experts, put on my trainers and hope for the best. Work has given me the She Wee so my night-time dilemmas are sorted. We're leaving on Wednesday and I can't wait now.

I am looking forward to our small, sometimes very stressed family spending a lot of time together without housework, schoolwork or just plain work interfering। I am looking forward to relaxing by pools and reading lots of novels. I am looking forward to exploring Zambia and meeting new people and experiencing new things.

Crisis! Lurch has just walked in to say that it will be freezing in the roof tents at night and we need winter pyjamas. Got to go, will have to re-pack and read a few of my favourite blogs before we leave. Hope to be able to visit a few internet cafes and report on the trip in Lusaka. If not, have a lovely summer, will be back in September, bar any hyena incidents...

Monday, August 04, 2008

Island Hopping

Now we're all back home again, safe, sound and slightly damp in the shadow of the North Yorkshire Moors. The boys have finished their island hopping and I went to pick them up and stay for a few days with El Vel and Sean. Lurch stayed behind and threw himself into a work frenzy.

I was brought up on an island off the coast of Kent. From a very early age I used to proclaim to anyone who'd listen that I would leave that goddamn small town one day and never return. I don't know why I felt so strongly because I now realise what a great place it was to grow up in, too many Jackie magazines, probably, and a deep unfulfilled desire to be a family member of The Brady Bunch and live in America.

Once I had left 'the island' as all natives call it, I remember meeting somebody at a society wedding in London who expressed great admiration for the fact that I'd 'managed to get orf!'. Praise indeed. Anyway revisiting 'the island' was fabulous and we went to the beach every day where the boys enjoyed walking through the mud flats, throwing mud at each other and trying to skim the rocks that form the main part of the beach.

El Vel and Sean, or I should really say El Vel, had imposed a strict regime, as I knew they would. DB and TT weren't allowed upstairs at the same time, except to sleep - result = zero fighting. They weren't allowed any sweets most of the time but could have ice creams if they ate half a ton of Grandpa's home grown beans and some fruit - result = no more runny nose for The Terminator, a consequence of his normal vitamin deficiency when I'm in charge.

There were only a couple of incidents. The Terminator, unable to contain his chavtastic nature completely, stood with his back to a beach jam packed with London taxi drivers on holiday, dropped his swim shorts and yelled out 'Is my moon shining!'. El Vel was not amused and dragged him up the beach to sit it out for half an hour's 'reflection time'. They had also been taken for a haircut in the barber's and El Vel had to confiscate 'Nuts' magazine from Danny Boy when he showed The Terminator a 40DD stunna! accompanied by the enthusiastic exclamation 'nice hooters!'. I blamed Lurch. El Vel says she has a reputation to maintain on 'the island' but, on the whole, was very pleased with them.

On the way home I met up with four of my former schoolfriends from The Convent, we are most probably going to the reunion, followed by a big night out. One of them runs a pub, one is an artist-in-residence, one works for BA and the other works in a maternity ward. They are all single parents and two of them have sons on the autistic spectrum. I cannot believe how hard things have been for them and how much they've had to fight for their sons not to be expelled from a succession of schools. They have all faced difficult legal battles but seeing them was just the same as it used to be twenty years ago and we were screaming with laughter for most of the afternoon. A lovely summer so far...