Jaqui's Daily Blog

My Boy messages me to suggest I may like to think about being a sandwich.


It's an interesting thought and therefore I give it serious consideration: as in, what kind of sandwich would I be? Maybe a delicious chicken salad on granary bread? Or plain but nourishing free-range egg and cress? Even something impossibly exotic - like a fish finger sarnie? Which is when a second message pings into my virtual In-tray, informing me that I should actually think about bringing a sandwich. 


I am off to Legoland to surprise my (Not So Very Little) Welsh Boys - and especially the Birthday Boy, Young Morgan. The (hopeful) thought of their delight when they see me keeps me going throughout a somewhat tortuous journey when my carefully planned route is disrupted by a road closure and consequent diversion. I do hate a diversion, unless it's in the Daily Blog which is - as regular readers know - famous for its diversionary tactics.


In fact the two older boys fall into my open arms with heart-warming pleasure to see me. Young Morgan, however, takes a much more matter of fact approach - he simply grabs hold of my hand and invites me to "come and play with me!" as if my presence is only to be expected on this Most Auspicious Occasion. There are few things sweeter for a grandparent than being taken absolutely and completely for granted by a five year old.


Ah, what to say about Legoland? The Land of Fun where at every turning you come across another figure - boy, girl, cat, rabbit - made out of Lego bricks by someone far cleverer and more dexterous than I. I am in charge of Morgan when he goes to "driving school" to earn a provisional driving licence. I am impressed by the stern instructor who takes the young drivers, all aged 3 -5, through their paces before letting them loose on the cars. Should they get stuck, she tells them, they are to raise their arm in the air. Morgan, sitting in the back row, indulges in a visible yawn: you can just tell he isn't planning on getting stuck. 


He tells me he wants to drive one of the red cars. I, concerned about possible disappointment, point out that even the blue cars and yellow cars sport some red embellishment but Morgan dismisses my well-meant intervention. Cleverly, when the Stern Instructor tells the young drivers to get going ("Walk, don't run!" she instructs the backs of their heads as they race towards their vehicles) I note that my clever grandson doesn't even attempt to claim one of the two red cars nearest the entrance but heads straight for the one furthest away, way across the race track. Not for the first time I find myself thinking that the Duracell Bunny will go far..


We take a ride on the Sky Train, high above the park; watch a performance of The Elves and the Shoemaker, the latter with a very distinct Welsh accent; take in a 4D film ("It looks real!" marvels the Birthday Boy, tucked into my side); and take a trip Round the World in Miniland. It is all, indeed, Awesome.


Possibly the funniest time we have is playing at training to be firefighters in the Fire Academy. Our task - to power a fire engine along a track to a "burning" building where we will quench the flames with real water pumped through our hoses. This task, we are informed, tests fitness, speed and teamwork. Sam, James and their mum, the Darling Daughter in Law, are in charge of Engine number 3, while Morgan, his Dad and I take the Fire Academy challenge in Engine Number 2. I think it is fair to say that what Morgan and I lack in strength and speed, we make up for in enthusiasm. Our team mate, who ends up doing all the hard work, may see things rather differently.


I have to leave at the end of the day but the fun goes on for the family I leave behind me. I wish I could stay but I am oh, so very happy that they have another day in the Land of Coloured Bricks. 


Memories are made of this. 


This afternoon we went to a birthday party in Cardiff, Mr B and I.


We played the Okey-Cokey (my favourite party game, it's meant for those, like me, who always want to put their "whole self in" whatever they are doing) and we watched the magician trying to trick his audience. He wasn't completely successful, I fear: "He wasn't a real magician," the Duracell Bunny confided later. I thought he did an excellent job, all things considered. My first favourite moment was when the DB, aka Young Morgan, was invited onto the stage with his fellow birthday boy. "Stand there," said the Magic Man, "Just over the trap door..." I could hear Morgan's father laughing out loud.


My second favourite moment was when Mr Magic told his young audience that they weren't to get upset if their party balloons burst on the way home. Rather, they should gather up all the pieces and present them to their parents who would magic them back together by the following morning...


Our Birthday Boy was dressed as Captain America though, being me, I wouldn't have known this had I not been told. I now understand Captain America is a Super-Hero who appeared in Marvel comics. Our Morgan is also a super-hero though he is only just five years old today so his super heroic antics are mostly Age Appropriate. As in, five years old going on twelve. Morgan never lets me forget what he considers the unfairness of life in that, however many birthdays he may enjoy, he can never catch up with older brothers Sam and James.


You may be wondering how Mr B and I magicked ourselves to Cardiff and whether we required the services of the Party Magic Man. In fact the only magic we needed was that supplied by FaceTime, which - along with its fellow communicator Skype - is beloved of all those who find themselves unable to be with the ones they love on special occasions.


Our Boy, father of the Duracell Bunny, was determined that we shouldn't miss out on all the birthday fun despite a distance of over 200 miles. His determination caused him considerable difficulties given that he was trying to take photographs, video the proceedings and keep us "live" on FaceTime - all at the same time. He would have benefited, for sure, from a bit of magic. Every so often FaceTime would cut out on us, these being the moments when it proved necessary to concentrate on the perfect photo or video clip. We were just grateful to be there at all.


Morgan phoned us from his Dad's car on the way back home from the party. This was a good wheeze on his Dad's part as it meant he could concentrate on listening to us sing Happy Birthday and on telling us all about his best birthday present, a skateboard. When he arrived home, he informed us, he was going straight out into the back garden to try it out. Then: "28% left!" he declared. It took me a while - I'm slow that way - to work out that he was keeping an eye on his Dad's phone charge. Keeping up with the Duracell Bunny is tricky in more ways than one.


What I couldn't tell my sweet boy was that I will be seeing him tomorrow. "Surprise! Surprise!" I will carol, as I pop up from behind some fantastic Lego creation. For, yes, Legoland is my destination - home of those little colourful plastic bricks which hurt like billy-oh if you happen to step on them in your bare feet. I may not have been at the party in person but I will definitely be there for Day 2 of the celebrations - thanks to our lovely neighbours who will be keeping an eye on Mr B for me and making sure he doesn't starve in my (admittedly short) absence.


Five years old! How can that possibly be? It seems only yesterday I was sitting in a hospital room, holding my new-born grandson in tender arms while my Darling Daughter-in-Law looked on with pride in her tired eyes. The older boys had been taken off home by their father and their other grandparents; it was suddenly very peaceful, just sitting there. Which was when I noticed something: "He has dimples!" I exclaimed in delight. The baby's mother had doubtless spotted this for herself but for me it still felt like a major discovery. I will always remember that moment.


Happy birthday, my sweet boy. You don't know yet - but I will see you tomorrow. 


In fact I shall appear - like magic!


Across a crowded supermarket, I spot a sweetly familiar face. One, moreover, that I haven't seen for more than five years.


Ah, yes, we have been friends on Facebook for all that time and more - but how lovely to see my friend Heather face to face for the first time in simply ages. There among the racks of Florence & Fred's summer clothes, after exchanging exclamations of pleasure at this unexpected meeting, we provide each other with a quick summary of Our Life And Times since last we met. 


This is possibly a mistake: we have both experienced challenging times over the last five years. We find ourselves grizzling in sympathy with each other - which isn't a Good Idea in the middle of a supermarket. Other shoppers eye us suspiciously as they try to negotiate their laden trolleys past us without knocking us sideways.  "So sorry to be in the way!" we keep saying, in between sniffs and snuffles. 


We met all those years ago in a Weightwatchers meeting. Heather was a Star Pupil; I, on the other hand, was always losing half a pound one week then putting the same half a pound back on the next week. All this time on, and I have completely Fallen By The Wayside while Heather not only looks fantastic but is now a helper at local WW meetings, an inspiration to all. We decide we will meet up very soon and have a Proper Conversation over a cup of coffee. With skimmed milk, sweeteners if necessary and don't mention the doughnuts...


I hasten home to tell Mr B about my happy encounter with the past. He is sitting, like a king on the throne, in his new chariot, a bright ruby red wheelchair which I snapped up on Tuesday. "But it's Arsenal colours!" protested my life-long Spurs supporter when I proudly introduced him to my latest purchase designed to make his life a little easier. "Ruby red!" I defended myself stoutly, "Nothing like Arsenal red..." I was rather pleased at how very knowledgeable I managed to sound. Especially as I didn't really know what I was talking about.


Because I had spent so long reminiscing with Heather in Tesco's, there wasn't time for my planned foray into the garden which means that I still haven't planted up my Sunflower plants in my giant Competition Flower Pot. This wouldn't matter but I planted Mr B's two days ago which means they have now had a head start on mine. You are possibly thinking that I could just swap over flower pots but unfortunately back in the first year of our annual competition I made the mistake of decorating both pots by painting our initials on them, along with a few swirly bits. Picasso it is not. 


The Duracell Bunny's birthday present arrives, delivered by Lofti. I know it is Lofti because the delivery company texted me to tell me when I could expect my parcel from Toys R Us and by whom it would be delivered. The text was remarkably exact - my delivery would arrive any time between 13.21 and 14.21. That extra minute obviously makes all the difference. What's more Lofti wasn't. Lofty, that is. I greeted him by name (as is my wont when I've been informed who to expect on my door-step. I'm never sure if this is appreciated or not but I carry on doing it notwithstanding.


Tomorrow I will wrap up the birthday present, ready to take with me on Sunday to Legoland where I am meeting the Birthday Boy, his parents and his older brothers for a second birthday celebration. None of the boys know where they are going or who will be meeting them at their destination. I must remember not to be too disappointed if they are more excited to be at Legoland than to see me. 


I can't be at tomorrow's birthday party but I am assured that the Eldest of the (Not So Very Little) Welsh Boys will put in charge of the IPad and, via FaceTime, will ensure I feel as though I am right there at the party, wearing a party hat and singing Happy Birthday. Tunelessly.


An ordinary day. A chance meeting with a friend from long ago. An important delivery. A new purchase. A missed opportunity to get out into the garden. Great expectations for the weekend ahead.


An extraordinary ordinary day...



Me, I do love a Touch of Magic.


I am not talking Abracadabra here, rather those moments of magic which take a person by surprise because they are so, well, magical.


Our next door neighbours have installed coloured lights along their new garden path - they were a little worried we might think the lit-up path resembled a landing strip. But, oh dear me, no - when I pull my bedroom curtains before turning in every night, I look out at the lights twinkling in the darkness and think they look like fairy lights, showing the way down to the end of the garden to a troupe of elves and imps. Magical!


This afternoon at our Crafty Group, a different kind of magic was in the offing. We were decorating the lids of round cardboard boxes with a variety of seeds, peppercorns, ancient herbs (apparently the packet was dated best before 2001 but then we weren't about to eat them) and dried peas. The last process in our creation was to varnish our lids with something called Mod Podge. Not any old Mod Podge, either, but the sparkly version for additional magic. 


What you need to know about Mod Podge is that it is an all-in-one glue, sealer and varnish. When the thick layer of white grunge I have dabbed all over my decorated lid dries out, my latest Crafty Effort will be all glittery. The Lovely Linda, who runs our Crafty Group, has promised, so it must be so. The transformation will be magic.


Joy says the slugs will love it. We all try to picture the slugs in the garden, squirming through Mod Podge and turning all sparkly. Then we realise that Joy isn't talking about the Power of Varnish at all but is looking out of the window at the rain lashing down. It was one of those memorable moments of misunderstanding and mystery.


As I write, it is now four and a half hours since our craft session ended and my box lid, while definitely starting to sparkle, still has a long way to go to realise the magic fully. I keep popping out to the kitchen where I have left my creation on the draining board to check on its progress. Is it possible I have overdobe the Mod Podge? I wonder how the efforts of my fellow crafters are faring; as we were leaving Linda's house at the end of our session, we all suggested we should take photos of our boxes once they have dried out and share them next time we meet. 


However the most magical moment of my day came with the discovery that a family of Great Tits has taken up residence in my new bird box. The littl'uns are a noisy band, squawking away incessantly. I did my best to make myself invisible hoping that Mr and Mrs Great Tit wouldn't spot me, hiding there in the low reaching branches of the tamarisk tree. In no time at all, Mrs GT flew down to perch on the fence, looking around in all directions for any signs of danger before slipping into her house to feed the Hungry Ones. Meanwhile her mate took her place on the fence and on the lookout.


I could have stayed there all day watching them but the tamarisk was tickling the back of my neck and the Call of Duty was strong. I slipped away while the Great Tit family was Otherwise Engaged and hastened into our house (rather more roomy, it has to be said, than the one I have provided for our lodgers) to report to Mr B all the news from the bottom of the garden.


Fairy lights, a glittery creation, and giving nature a home.


Pure Magic!


When it comes to gardening, I am a flower kind of person. Mr B, on the other hand, is very much a Vegetable Guy.


Hopefully, we told each other, we would both be satisfied when we visited a Plant Sale being organised at a local college. How good, too, that our pounds and pennies would go towards college funds rather than lining the pockets of big businesses. 


This morning it rained. Heavily. It wasn't the weather for Mr B to venture out on his mobility scooter, even though our destination was just around the corner. Come the afternoon, while the sun was still hiding away, at least it wasn't raining so I drove the scooter out of the garage and round to the front door. I am extremely good at manoeuvring the scooter, I can even reverse pretty successfully around corners - I think it's because I can see the wheels which isn't possible in a car. "Your chariot awaits!" I carolled to Him Indoors.


Accompanying Mr B on his scooter is a somewhat fraught affair, owing to his total belief in his Absolute Right of Way. Pavement or road, it makes no difference - Mr B expects all other users, be they pedestrians or motorists, to cede to his passage. 


Unfortunately he remains blissfully unaware that everybody else considers the Mobility Scooter Driver to be one of the world's greatest evils.  There might even be an organisation, for all I know, pledged to eradicate the ubiquitous Shoprider from the earth. Or at the very least from Worthing which, according to statistics, is home to more OAPs ( which means Old And Proud, according to granddaughter, Katie) than anywhere else in the U.K. 


Mr B doesn't care about such distinctions. He forays forth along pavements, across roads, leaving me trailing in his wake apologising - with a wave, a rueful smile, a muttered "sorry!" - to everybody forced to  veer out of his path as we made our painful way along the road.


We arrived, eventually, at the gates of the college only to find the plant sale closed at 2 p.m. "But the leaflet which came through the door definitely said it was 10 a.m. till 4 p.m." I stated. Convincingly. The sweet lady who appeared to be, kind of, in charge was very worried. She hadn't actually read the leaflet herself she said.


Except that when we arrived home and I checked the card advertising the Plant Sale  I found I was wrong. Opening times were from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m. 


I am no better than Mr B in thinking I Am Always Right. Let him (or her) who is without sin cast the first stone. Or words to that effect. 


The Plant Sale is on for a couple of weeks. We will be sure to pay another visit, I in search of flowers, Mr B looking for vegetables. We will attempt to arrive before closing time. If I see the sweet lady I shall have to apologise for being so very wrong.


Mr B, of course, will just go on doing what comes naturally...


Latest comments

07.12 | 15:48

what details have you got on your mysterious Wilde?

01.12 | 23:56

And so say all of us!!!

29.10 | 22:07

Your words are true magic and like us Adam has a great future ahead of him.
He has a mesmerising presence on stage and a voice to match

04.10 | 09:06

If it's still there at the weekend I will be selling the tooth on eBay with plastic case.

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