A child of nature

Few things are guaranteed to make me smile and almost burst with pride so much as hearing Millie called “a child of nature” 😀

The Lovely Melanie just came off the ‘phone to her parents in Dymchurch, where they’ve been amazed at Millie’s permanent readiness to jump into the sea in conditions that make them quite literally shiver.

I’d love to think this is my influence, teaching her to grow up loving the natural world and unafraid of all the fun and wonder it offers (no matter how chilly!); conversely it would sadden me if she was to grow up a cosseted little madam, contemptuous – or worse, fearful – of things she didn’t know or understand.  This is something deeply important to me because I believe that an open and enquiring mind is necessary if you’re to truly embrace the world and really live your life.  Hence, it’s an attitude which informs most of my parenting decisions: let’s go and investigate, let’s try and understand things, because if we can understand something then it’s much harder to be frightened of it.

More to say on this, but not using an iPhone keyboard!

My job consultation

Something I thought would be a well-meant waste of time today – the  “consultation” I was offered by Bexleyheath Job Centre – turned out to be quite the opposite!  It’s always nice to have negative opinions turned around and mine certainly were.

Bexleyheath Job Centre were efficient and pleasant when I attended my assessment interview, but I got a sense that they don’t get many unemployed Web Search Editors coming through their doors and might be a tad unsure what to do with me.

Have you thought about retraining as a plumber, Mr Carter?  No?  How about HGV driving?  See the sights of the UK’s motorways…

Fortunately being a large government organisation they have a network of consultants who cover all sorts of bizarre (but redundant) vocations – even Web Search Editing – and they sent me off to a company in central London who do get unemployed Web Search Editors (or similar) coming through their doors.  I had an interview with them this afternoon and came away with my hopes of imminent re-employment very much raised.

My consultation was just over an hour, but the official stuff, although very useful, took up only about half of that time; the rest was spent just chatting with “Baz” the consultant, a fascinating guy about my age and with my appetite for new music and learning new things if – we’d met in the pub over a pint or two I like to think we’d have become friends.  Or that just be because I don’t see many people in the daytime – especially at the moment with the Lovely Melanie back at work and both the girls away in Dymchurch with their grandparents.

I was reading and listening to some music in bed last night, and only after an hour of struggling to hear Sophie Hutchings‘ classical piano stylings did I remember that I could crank the volume up as loud as I liked.  So I did. 🙂

It was also passing strange to be back in central London again – and strange that it should be strange after such a relatively short time away.  My interview was near Aldgate, which gave me a glimpse of how non-Londoners must view my beloved adopted home town, it seeming very busy and crowded to these bucolic-Bexley-attuned eyes.

The streets also teemed with suits: men and women both, something I’m unused to having worked in the “bohemian” West End for over a decade.  Sure there were always plenty of suits around there, but not everybody was wearing one as they were in Aldgate.

Just goes to show, London can always surprise you. 😉

Lost in time

Sadly, it looks like the epic story of our holiday in Devon isn’t going to get written up anytime soon – which most likely means it isn’t going to get written up at all.

We’ve been busy with one thing and another all day: tomorrow the Lovely Melanie is back to work whilst I have to sign on and then attend an interview with an agency in the centre of town, so realistically you’re never going to hear about our trip to Lyme Regis and its remarkable sedimentary cliffs or our visit to charming Powderham Castle.

You’ll never learn the exciting tales of our time in Crealy Adventure Park, the blustery day spent huddled on beautiful Exmouth beach or our Tuesday night drink with my cousin Gary and his lovely wife, Natalie, who happened to live just up the road.

We visited a place called Beer – no one will ever know.

Our return via Swindon so that we could attend Claire and Garry’s wedding on Saturday will remain forever a mystery, I fear, and even our somewhat ill-fated excursion to Exeter must be lost in time, like tears in rain…

How many times did Millie and Jack watch The Phantom Menace on DVD at the cottage?

At least ten.

What was the dreadful 24-hour stomach bug that every adult caught except for me?

No one knows.

Would we have had more fun if the weather been brighter?

Possibly, but it would have been a different type of fun and I don’t feel we missed out particularly.

One thing I would like to remember is the wonderful generosity of my parents in lending us their car for the entire week – hopefully they weren’t too annoyed by the scrape I put on the back of it whilst trying to park on those confoundedly narrow Devon roads.


Pushed for time, as always

I am back in my own house, huzzah!  No matter how much fun holidays might be I’ve always been someone who’s glad to come home when it’s done!

Of course, I forgot that coming home meant lots of washing and stuff, not to mention getting both the girls ready for their next holiday, which begins today.   All right for some, isn’t it!

Once they’re on their holiday with Grandma and Granddad it’s time for the Lovely Melanie and I to redecorate Amber’s room and sort out a big girl’s bed for her – no more baby cot for our youngest (now 2.5 years).

Just time to say congratulation to Claire, my…er, relation somehow, and her new husband, Garry, whose wedding we were chuffed to be invited to on Saturday – I’m uploading photos of both that and our holiday to Flickr even as I write this, but it’s taking a while (there are a lot of photos and with a 12Mp camera the pictures themselves are much bigger).  I also need to find time to post an entry about our holiday in the charming village of Newton Poppleford in Devon, sharing a cottage with our friends the Mays; contrary to all the previous entries it wasn’t completely dominated by the weather!


We did quite a bit yesterday at a Devon fun park called Crealy’s, and it was almost worth the £45 cost for the whole family to go; but the undoubted highlight for me was going on one of those giant swinging pirate ships with Millie.

It was her first time on a proper funfair ride, and despite being a bit nervous to begin with she was quickly screaming with delight. 🙂
She screamed with delight on the log flume, too – until she realised she was going to *stay* wet for the remainder of the day…

Exeter Cathedral

A particularly rainy Wednesday left us with no choice but to visit Exeter.

With my plans to visit the slightly famous underground passages thwarted by a pre- booking failure, and with rain pouring down upon us, we made a run for the cathedral – and were rather glad we did since Exeter Cathedral is a beautiful example of the type.

Millie made us go “aah” by lighting a votive candle and dedicating it to the poorliest person she could think of – Uncle Trev.

Amber made us go “ha!” by lighting a votive candle and then singing Happy Birthday at the top of her not inconsiderable voice.

If we hadn’t had to struggle for 45 minutes to escape the clutches of Exeter (the Lovely Melanie really struggles with maps) then I would’ve counted today as a 100% victory against the dismal forces of meteorology.