Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve services

Currently trying to decide if staying awake for midnight mass/communion is a good idea (am guessing I'll stay up for long enough to be exhausted, but not actually go). Only ever made it to a midnight service once, when my little brother was wee: this was then declared verboten as he, rightly, declared it Christmas and wanted to stay up and open all his presents. One, a little stuffed donkey, was allowed. Which brings me on nicely to tonight and the crib service at St. Mary's Ely. We went not only because of the rather nice timing - 5pm and it really was only half an hour - but drawn by the lure of real sheep and donkey. Vicar of Dibley eat your heart out. (Not really, the sheep stayed outside and the carpet the donkey trod was covered in something plastic and protective). Was expecting major fallout once the donkey moment was over, but it was saved by some camel puppets (Cameron and Camilla). Cameron was the not so bright one. Wasn't sure if this was political satire or not. Too many years of watching/being in the Carol Service drama at SBC perhaps. (Just checked out their rather flash website in order to put in that link: the lady second from the left along the top is my old Girls Brigade captain and a LEGEND.) Anyway, whether I make midnight or not, and make it to a church or not, I can tick 'crib service' off the list of services I haven't been to. Now to go wrap some presents I officially haven't bought...

Monday, 12 December 2011

plurals, possessives, and wishful thinking

daddy's coat/hat/yogurt
mommy's dog
mommy gorgeous [ok, that was actually 'mommy, legos!', but for a split second I thought it might be 'mommy gorgeous', aided and abetted here by a nephew who used to come out with the most complimentary and impressive adjectives]

Friday, 9 December 2011

and (amongst others)

my daddy gone
my daddy['s] coat
hello rabbit/dog/ooo/etc
Carl['s] hat/coat etc
poor mommy
one, two, three, four [where one, two and four are definite concepts, but three may just be a word you say before four]

Friday, 2 December 2011

Forget all other new words:

We have hit the true problem word: 'MY'.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

And new words for mommy too

For the baby:
another one

For mommy:

Friday, 18 November 2011


...Halloween, sparkly, wiggle.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Did I mention...?


Monday, 14 November 2011



Thursday, 10 November 2011

More words

and/or some old words joined up:

yellow digger
red car
green car
big lorry

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Feeling festive?

I was deputed by the boy yesterday to buy some religious Christmas stamps. Over here in UK-land, if you ask for Christmas stamps at the post office, you get whatever secular stamps are on offer that year (Wallace and Gromit, Rudolph, Father Christmas). But did you know that you can also get religious Christmas stamps, but that you have to specifically ask for them? I didn't until the boy (the USA born boy) told me a couple of years ago. So, off I went to support the concept of religious Christmas stamps, quite aware that I no longer knew how much stamps cost. The last time I could say with any certainty what the price of a 2nd class stamp was, it was 19p, and that was some time (one might almost say decades) ago. So I fully expected a 2nd class stamp to cost about what I thought a first class stamp might now cost. No, nowhere near. On the other hand, I have made a serious investment in easily lost, slightly sticky pieces of paper.

Monday, 7 November 2011

To which I should add

alarm clock

(and many other words I am too tired to remember now)

Monday, 31 October 2011


For my own interest, here is a list of the words a certain 22 month old can say, sign or otherwise communicate.



bee (meaning any insect)
(polar) bear

belly button

one more (book)


rice krispies

hallo ("arrow")


down here
down there


wee wee
poo poo



excuse me


Given that that is almost certainly not a full list, its a shame he spends most of his time going 'ugh, ugh, ugh, wa-wa-wa-wa'. But not sure he is dealing well with Daddy being out all the time fixing up the new house.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

in praise of the NHS

I'm sure there's plenty to be said against the NHS, but when you need an ambulance because your child can't breathe and it turns up with efficient and pleasant staff minutes later, there's a lot to be said for not having to worry about whether you can pay for this emergency care or not. 'Rip off Britain' it might be, but the NHS is still a jewel in its crown. Stopping here before I get drawn into politics. Plus then I might get to sleep some.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

simply the beth buys a house - day 3

On which we discover more reasons why the estate agent blurb 'like a new build' meant less 'really well finished' and more 'thrown together'. At least the structure itself (an ex-council house from 1950) isn't thrown together.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

simply the beth buys a house - day 2

in which I have a 'good' idea, and take the toddler curtain shopping, having been up much of the night with said [ill] child, and end up frustrated with the pace of walking in Cambridge, with a frustrated boy (at being confined to pushchair), and not so much as looking at fabrics, but somehow purchasing a soft, furry animal. The husband said: '"Oh, and we have a cow..." will go down in texting history.' Net gain: one cow. Progress on house front: less impressive.

Friday, 14 October 2011

simply the beth buys a house - day 1

So, this is property ownership. Of course, it doesn't feel like it, as I'm typing this from the rental place where I'll be living for another month yet, but we start paying in earnest today. I'm glad to say that the turf that was supposed to have been laid has been, even if it is merely resting on top of recently mown of thistles. The garden was a big reason why I bought the house so I was very unhappy when even yesterday afternoon, the garden was nought but a thistle jungle. The boy went off to water the turf 3 hours ago....I'm beginning to wonder where he is (the new place is about 5 minutes cycle away). Not much more to report: except that the estate agent thought I was off my rocker when she understood I was going to change the locks. Apparently, she had never considered the possibility that there could be n number of keys out there, and that changing the locks might be a good idea. And this when I was handed 3 keys for the back door, 3 keys for the French windows, and 2 keys for the front door.

Monday, 10 October 2011

It's done, but it doesn't feel real

That is to say we have bought a house. Or at least we have given away all the money we had, and now owe a lot of money to the bank, and have a smaller box to move into, which is, sort of, ours. Trying to turn the negative energy and general feeling of doom into positive, "I-can-do-this"-ness.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Breathe, and feel the love

That is what I am trying to do. Breathe through the frustration of dealing with a lawyer who does not appear to understand Contract Law. No, dear lawyer, I will not sign the contract and then let you amend it. You will amend it, then I will sign it. As I have often said to the young boy this week (who I am attempting to retrain after 11 days of being spoilt rotten by his grandparents), 'less panting, more success'. Panting here being that 'ugh, ugh, ugh' noise to go with pointing at things you want mommy to do but you can perfectly well do yourself. Just a thought, but perhaps that would get me further down the road with the lawyer...

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

A year since...

I think it is a year since the small boy was baptised in Durham. It was certainly about a year ago. And a card arrived 2 days ago from his godmother marked as for today. So that seems like a clue. Amazing how much stuff I haven't managed to do since then. Like post the photos that were taken a week later to his godparents. Or persuade the munchkin to progress beyond 7+ month food in terms of texture. Or clean the oven. Or, well, lots of things.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Royal Historic Palaces Online

Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) have a series of mini videos online to tempt you to come see their wares: here is one of the latest on Grinling Gibbons. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Cool medieval website

Ok, so I've been meaning to blog for ages about various things, but just have to do so quickly to share the Gough map with you. Haven't given it much of a once over myself yet, but it looks really cool. And its medieval. What more could you want?

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

We learn what is important to us (2)

'Keys' and 'door' weren't our actual first words, however. The first was 'dog' (with major emphasis on the second syllable). This was accompanied by the sign for dog, which helped me understand the word, although, to my shame, it took me ages to work out that he was doing the sign (dog panting). I thought he was hyperventilating with excitement at the thought. This marked the beginning of the 'Woody and Gemma' stalking phase - when we spent as much time as politely possible staring through a neighbour's window at their dogs. ('Dog', minus the sign, was a major word this past weekend when we visited Nanny and her new puppy).

The boy's second most popular sign is 'done', as in, 'I'm done' or 'I've had enough' (to be used at mealtimes). The little monkey, however, uses it at the start of a meal when he doesn't want whatever is on offer/just wants to play. Not that stops him hammering the message home by flinging food to the four quarters. Hopefully this behaviour is going to improve....

Other signs we have seen: 'bath, bird, duck, horse' (quite popular), 'cat', 'mouse', 'flower', 'rain', 'eat'.

The weekend at Nanny's heralded a few new words: 'hello', 'yellow' and 'stuck' (as in, 'hmm, this stair gate keeping me away from the dog is stuck'; 'the door to the dog's cage is stuck', 'this cupboard Daddy is leaning against so I can't get in it is stuck'). I think you get the idea.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

History girl lesson no.1

(which actually occurred last Friday during an unbelievably frustrating day at The National Archives, Kew)

What I knew before I started poking around on census websites: that my grandfather, John Hartland, had been born in 1900 or 1901. And the names of a few of his siblings. And, of course, the area in which the family lived.

What did a couple of hours poking around and a few £ spent gain me: a .pdf of the census return filled in for my great-grandfather, surprise, surprise another John Hartland in 1911. This was not the most efficient piece of research ever, it has to be said, and to rectify this, history girl will be attending a talk on using one of these websitey-dooburry genealogy things at the local library in a couple of weeks. She has limited time, and she is a rank amateur.

The census return did nothing to dispel her sense of guilt at being lower-middle, rather than working, class (a feeling she has always had - although her father worked hard to make that the case, giving due credit to the 1944 Butler Education Act and subsequent legislation as well, of course).

The contrast between great-grandfather and great-granddaughter seems stark. Both live in rented accommodation, granted. But history girl has more than one bedroom for her family of three. Whereas the 1911 Hartland forbears had 8 or 9 in the one bedroom (the uncertainty stems from the death of one of the children and when it occurred). Great-grandfather was a labourer (presumably preferable to the 'Night soil man' he was recorded as in 1901), rather than a wannabe academic. History girl claims to be generally able to spell (the curse of spell check notwithstanding); whereas great-grandfather misspelt his name, and clearly was unaccustomed to writing.

History girl goes back to school

I have spent many, many hours (willingly) listening to my Dad talking about his childhood, but it wasn't until more recently that I realised that he knew very little about his (and therefore my) family history. We're not talking ancestors of way back when here. The question marks start with the year his father was born. So, history girl, aka yours truly, moi, me myself, has decided to try and do some research, a little journey I plan to share with you. Not that I have a clue where to start. Modern history, what's that?!

Monday, 4 July 2011

We learn what is important to us

The boy's most recent words are 'door' and 'keys' which rather neatly sum up what he generally wants: to go outside. Door is not said once, but in an unending chant, as this morning. Although the allure of the front door was much diminished once it was clear that stepping through that portal was but a step closer to nursery.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Nothing fancy about it

When did it become the thing to buy, rather than make, your child's fancy dress costume? The boy and I went to a 'do' today to raise funds for the local maternity hospital, and the fancy dress parade sported only one homemade costume (and thus to my mind only one contender for a prize) - a rather fetching Dalmation puppy, otherwise known as Leo. The judges were not of like minds. What would they have made of the line up of rag-tag costumes sported by myself and my class mates at an infant school fancy dress in honour of the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977? Presumably not much. Bah, bah, humbug.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The road to unfitness... paved with unused gym and swimming pool contracts, and unfulfilled events.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

2011 so far

Birthdays, another day to lie to oneself about turning over new leaves, like the start of the academic year, the beginning of Advent, New Year's Day, the beginning of Lent.

To sum up the end of my thirty-eighth year:

We read:
  • A Wedding in December
  • Gentlemen and Players
  • Sleeping Arrangements
  • Twenty-one locks
And are reading:

  • Eat, Pray, Love
I signed up for the Marie Curie Swimathon, but have sadly hardly managed to get to the swimming pool so may not turn up.

I had the most disastrous of disastrous interviews (following a truly awful presentation) a week ago today.

There have been the occasional instances of more than five hours consecutive hours of sleep.

The boy has refused to eat many delightful things cooked for him by his mother - although he did finally condescend to eat some of a chicken and apple ball the other week (these took an inordinate amount of time to produce).

I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. The current favourite is Nursery Nurse. Possibly just because I am jealous that I pay people to look after my son whilst I sit at home in front of a stoopid compooter-pooter. But possibly not.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

I'd better hurry up and be thirty-something

I'm not really sure what being thirty-something entails, but I'd best find out quick as tomorrow marks the beginning of my last year of that status. It sounds quite indecisive, so the fact that I'm still riddled with all the neuroses (and more) that I had when I was sixteen, is probably OK. But forty sounds terribly grown up. Perhaps an amazing transformation will take place this year, and I'll no longer find myself floundering in between being a child and an adult; then again, pigs may fly (we have one downstairs that actually does).