Jaqui's Daily Blog

It is a truth universally acknowledged that once a person starts clearing out a bedroom, he or she will inevitably create more chaos than previously existed. Had Jane Austen continued her famous opening words thus, Pride and Prejudice would have taken on a completely different slant and, indeed, may never have made it into print.

 

I have been pondering on this Universal Truth today as I seek to bring order to the room where my eldest two (Not So Very Little) Welsh Boys will be sleeping this weekend. The boys will be amazed to discover that there has been a great turnaround in their bedroom which I am hoping will meet with their approval.

 

This morning, the Inestimable Kay, who helps me keep our house in at least some semblance of order, dismantled the built-in computer desk for me. This was much more difficult than it sounds, involving the removal of a considerable number of screws, not to mention some mighty whacks with a large and ferocious-looking hammer to persuade the desk away from the wall (to which it had formed a fiendishly strong attachment) and a tricky trip down the stairs carrying the heavy pieces.  “I’m much stronger than I look!” Kay informed me, proudly. She is, indeed - a tiny slip of a girl who can wield a hammer with the best of them. 

 

“Your mum is Superwoman!” I told her son, Harvey, who accompanies his mother during the school holidays and helps me with my Block Craft while at the same time introducing me to the delights of other, more warlike, computer games where you have to kill or be killed. (Today's game of choice was called Jail Break. I felt it my duty to point out that real prison would be nowhere near as much fun, just in case Harvey might be entertaining Criminal Thoughts.) I used to only play Block Craft with the Welsh Boys so Young Harvey’s help during the school holidays means I will be able to impress my grandsons with the buildings, animals and strangely-named block-like people I have created in their absence.

 

I have never liked the built-in computer desk because it is simply too big. So big that when the boys come to stay and I want to pull the spare bed out from its resting place underneath the single bed, I can't set it up properly and it has to rest on the floor. This in turn creates inevitable arguments over which boy can sleep on high and which has to be satisfied with sleeping low down. It also makes story-telling tricky, let alone the goodnight ritual which involves clambering over both beds on hands and knees in order to claim a hug and a kiss. I hope you can picture all this - would a diagram help, do you think? To be fair, Mr B has always been perfectly happy with the desk as it was large enough to accommodate his AppleMac, his printer and various other essential Technology Related Items. 

 

Now that both AppleMac and printer have gone to meet their Maker, in Apple Heaven or wherever, the desk is surplus to requirements and - thanks to Superwoman Kay - it is no more. Its removal will necessitate some redecorating (which, being me, I had failed to factor in) but, for the moment, the twin beds, standing side by side as their manufacturer intended, hide the worst of the damage.

 

Unfortunately a number of cardboard boxes had been tucked away under the desk, out of sight and very definitely out of mind. The contents of said cardboard boxes are now strewn all over (I) both twin beds; (ii) the landing; (iii) my king-size bed; and (iv) my bedroom floor. I have spent the entire afternoon trying to restore order from chaos and I have hardly made a dent in the task in hand. I have until Saturday afternoon when the Welsh Contingent arrive to sort it all out.

 

On a positive note, I have discovered lots of things I had forgotten about. Photographs, books, diaries, an aerial photograph of our house taken in approximately 2003 and, sweetest of all, the 3D scan pictures of Our Rascal before he was born, looking just like his father, then as now. 

 

I think I should clear out the bedrooms more often. Like, every ten years or so…

 

 

Young Tala - who, based on our visit last week to Brighton’s Sea Life Centre and yesterday's trip to Littlehampton, could possibly have a stellar career as a marine biologist - takes me rock-pooling.

 

You are probably thinking that, as Tala is but two and a half years old while I have reached A Great Age, I have this the wrong way round but, no, not at all. We have barely deposited our baggage on the beach and set up our camp for the day when my little granddaughter takes my hand and leads me, determinedly, seaward. It's low tide, so the sea must seem miles away to Young Tala who has, in any case, diverted to the rock pools. She picks her way sure-footedly across the slippery, sea-weed covered rocks like the marine equivalent of a mountain goat while I follow in her wake, gingerly picking my way, fingers crossed I don't trip up and getting my new trainers so wet that they may never recover. 

 

I show Tala the tiny fish darting here, there and everywhere. She crouches down, cups her hands and tries to catch them, shrieking with delight as they escape her clutches. “More fish!” she demands, moving on to the next pool, pulling me after her. I am wondering whether, should I fall flat on my face in the sea-weed, anyone would come to my rescue? Our beach camp looks a long, long way away as I gaze backwards. Tala loves the sea-weed waving at her from the water “it's a garden in the sea,” I tell her. My only disappointment is that we don't manage to spot a crab or two - though possibly, crabs being sensible creatures (even though they insist on walking sideways) they spot us first. It's only the lure of an egg sandwich, apple juice and a squeezy yoghurt which finally entices my companion away from the rock pools and back to the safety of the sand.

 

The Middle of the Darling Daughters, her Trio and I have been joined on this latest Holiday Day by the Delightfully Unflappable Maxine and her two gorgeous boys. She has heard a lot about what she terms our “famous” Family Beach Days so I am a little concerned that she will be disappointed and wonder what on earth we are on about. We don't, after all, do much more than sit on a beach, enjoy a picnic, chat, build sand castles, possibly paddle, take a ride on the famous Littlehampton boat train..

 

Along the beach, I can hear announcements heralding the start of the Annual Sandcastle Competition. If my (Not So Very Little) Welsh Boys were with us, we would doubtless have joined in but I think our five littlun’s (the two oldest four years old, the youngest - Baby George - just a year) need a few more years and sandcastling experience under their belts. But, hey, it's an annual competition. Their Day Will Come. Incidentally, someone asks, will the Truly Gorgeous George still be referred to as “Baby George” when he's a teenager? Lilia attends to him, lovingly, delighted not to be the youngest in the Seaside Party for once.

 

Faris and friend Oliver (they were born just a week apart) discover a kind of tap which disgorges water when a button is pressed. I assume it's there for the purposes of feet washing but apparently, according to a couple of slightly older boys, it's safe to drink. They'd asked the lifeguard, they assure me, so it must be true. Despite the fact that the sea is now coming in fast, they are filling up bucket after bucket from the water tap and carrying it back to the spot where they are building Hogwarts. Oliver, Faris and Tala (who has arrived to join the fun) haven’t the faintest idea who, what or where Hogwarts is - but they adopt the role of Associated Water Carriers with enormous energy and enthusiasm. My Friend of the Environment Conscience does prick me - but they are having such fun, I don't feel able to spoil the game.

 

We thought we might take a walk along the prom (prom, prom) to the Lion’s Den play park - but the children are so happy, here on the beach and so are we - so we stay on, enjoying the warmth of the sunshine and each other's company. 

 

The Boat Train has been wending its way along the prom all day - we decide we can't finish our Seaside Day without a trip on the train and an ice-cream. Baby George sits on my lap and I tell him all about being “a waver.” He studies me, with due seriousness, and concentrates on the passing scenery. 

 

Back home, the littl'uns enjoy pizza in the garden and Mr B enjoys the two hot doughnuts (naughty but nice) which the Middle of the Darling Daughters has brought home for him. It's the least he deserves for being happy just because I am happy, having a Seaside Day Out away from Caring Duty.

 

Maxine says she has really enjoyed herself and would love to join us again on another Beach Day. I'm not sure we can claim any credit for her favourable Satisfaction Rating.

 

The seaside has worked its magic. It does it every time.

As my regular readers are well aware, I do have a habit of losing things.

 

There was my camera, you remember, probably the most upsetting of my Litany of Losses. Plus Mr B’s ancient mobile phone which surfaced from its hiding place in the garage when I was least expecting it. Mr B was delighted because he was adamant that he had pounds in Pay As You Go investment stashed on his phone. In fact it turned out that he was a mere 24p in credit. Actually, in the interests of honesty (and I do think the Daily Blog should always endeavour to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, don't you agree?) it may not have been 24p exactly, I kind of plucked that figure out of the air - but it was definitely well under £1. Mr B was unabashed at this discovery, being more excited that he would now be able to transfer his ring tone to a new mobile. “Spurs are on their way to Wembley!” it sings out - these days that song from long ago seems remarkably prophetic.

 

So what have I lost this time? I hear you ask. Along with some tutting about the way I never, ever manage to get straight to the point in the Daily Blog. Since you ask so nicely, I will tell you because I can't imagine you would ever guess, not in a hundred years, should we all live that long. Which is, let's face it, unlikely. 

 

I have lost my dustpan and brush. I mean, how can anybody - even me - lose a dustpan and brush? Apart from anything else, there are only so many obvious places it could possibly be. The Truly Talented Sue, who has broken off from sewing curtains for rich sheiks in order to cut our unruly locks (she tries out her new clippers on Mr B who declares them to be a great improvement on her previous set) suggests, slyly, that I check the fridge and the oven. I can only imagine what she is hinting at…

 

I have turned out the cupboard under the sink, the boiler cupboard, the cupboard under the stairs and the cloakroom cupboard. The very fact that I have used the word “cupboard” four times in a single sentence is a sure sign of my desperation. I have been upstairs and downstairs, checked in the garage, even scouted round the garden though why my dustpan and brush would be out with the sunflowers is beyond me. Could it possibly have accidentally found itself tucked into a full bin liner and deposited in the rubbish bin along with all those items the Borough Council won't let me put in my recycling wheelie bin? Yes, I even check on that.

 

Through the post, Mr B receives an invitation to the Annual Reunion at the Barnardo’s school where he was a pupil from the age of thirteen. We know we won't be able to go so I follow a link in the leaflet to a website where we uncover a host of old photographs and memories from those lost days of his teenage years. Here's the teacher who taught him how to play the bugle - he had to stand before him to demonstrate that he was note perfect playing the Last Post before being awarded his coveted silver bugle. Here's the chap who put all the would-be Wimbledon ball-boys through their paces and selected Mr B, three years running, for the honour.

 

Here's a photograph of boys waiting in fear and trembling outside the headmaster’s office to receive a caning for misdemeanours now long forgotten. Did he ever get caned? I ask Mr B who says, certainly not, he was always a Good Lad. Either that, or he was cunning enough not to get caught. 

 

Through the photographs, we capture events, people, names, buildings that Mr B might have thought Lost For Ever. Would that my dustpan and brush could be so easily rediscovered! 

 

I decide that life is too short to mourn a dustpan and brush. I invest three pounds in a new set. The brush has a soft grip handle, there's a built in brush scraper, whatever that might be, and the pan is of a ridged design “to capture dirt.” Which is, after all, exactly what Im looking for.

 

It seems All Is Not Lost after all.

“Wow!” says Tala who is, regular readers will remember, the elder of the Twinkles by an all-important minute.

 

We are in Brighton’s Sea Life Centre and have only just reached the very first fishy aquarium. I know, having been here before, that many more - and mightier - marvels lie ahead but every time I try to encourage my little granddaughter to move on, she returns obstinately to the first tank in which any number of fairly ordinary looking fish are swimming about. “Wow!” she says, sheer amazement in her voice, as if it's the first time she has laid eyes on the Finned Ones.

 

Yes, we are here on the fourth week of our Holiday Days and, once again, the weather is what might be described as “inclement.”  The Middle of the Darling Daughters drove first to our house so that her Trio of Rampaging Rascals could bid good day to their Grandad and he to them. All three were delighted to see that the Giant Penguin was in his Rightful Place on the doorstep to meet them. Faris was similarly delighted to discover the small dinosaur which he left behind last week was waiting for him on the windowsill. Meanwhile Tala and Lilia, who both have the memory of a small elephant, headed into the kitchen, chanting: “Cyandle! Candle!” They were remembering the great game they had last week with the pretend tea lights, switching them on so that they could sing Happy Birthday to nobody in particular, then pretend to blow them out. Over and over again. (Much, much later when I turned out the lights in the living room before climbing the stairs to bed, I would find two twinkling tea lights on the sideboard to remind me of my smallest visitors. I went to bed humming Happy Birthday under my breath. No, I didn't pretend to blow candles out - how old do you think I am?!) 

 

Oh, such Fishy Fun at the Sea Life Centre! We find Nemo - did you know he was lost, once upon a film ago? We watch sharks (Faris’s favourite), mantarays (the M of the DDs’ favourite) and the giant turtles (my favourite.) We are not sure what Tala and Lilia’s faves are - because everything, predictably, is “Wow!” We wander under the tunnel, watching sharks, rays and turtles swim over our heads. We pay a visit to see the Giant Crab who really, really is. A giant, that is.

 

I succumb to Pester Power (grandparents are allowed to do this every so often) and buy them each a “grabber”. These resemble Grandad’s but Faris’s has a shark head and the twins’ have penguin heads. Grandad’s grabber, it has to be said, is nothing like as interesting. Unfortunately on the drive home Tala drops her penguin on the floor where nobody can retrieve it, even with the two remaining grabbers, Lilia dismantles hers, presumably to find out how it works, and Faris manages to accidentally attack his littlest sister’s nose with his shark. Possibly I made a mistake in buying them?

 

Yesterday, while the Trio, their Mum and I were exploring the World Under Water, the Eldest of my (Not So Very Little) Welsh Boys was enjoying a birthday outing at Bristol Zoo. We watch him open our present, courtesy of FaceTime. “Thank you SO much!” he enthuses, as if we have bought him a Present Beyond Price. I well up. Hopefully he doesn't notice.

 

My dear Sam, animal lover and Ace Story Teller, is eleven years old and off to senior school, come September. How did that happen? There's only one word for it - 

 

“Wow!” 

 

Today was my first opportunity to use our new portable wheelchair ramps in earnest. I was well excited.

 

We had a quick try-out yesterday when the ramps were delivered, courtesy of ParcelForce. I couldn't find any instructions hidden in the packaging so I was not able to comply with the dire warnings on my invoice to read the accompanying information before installation. I could, however, remember what I had been told by my BFF, Tom, from The Ramp People (see previous Blog), and I had watched the explanatory videos on the website more than once. There wasn't really much to it, I told Mr B, as I wheeled him out into the hall to witness our newly installed ramps.

 

Should we try them out? I asked, expectantly. It was one of those questions expecting the answer “Yes.” Mr B viewed the ramps suspiciously and repeated his mantra that there was no way I would be strong enough to wheel him in and out. What would we do, he asked, if he was stuck outside, unable to get back into the house again? You could tell he was worryingt about missing an important event in the World Athletics Championships. Either that or his dinner. Or, quite possibly, both. 

 

It wouldn't happen, I assured him with sunny optimism. I did cross my fingers behind my back as I said it, just in case sunny optimism wouldn't be enough to win the day. Mr B harrumphed a bit but conceded we should “give it a go.” Spoken like a doomed man, headed for the gallows. 

 

Over the threshold we went, then a swift slide down Tom’s “gentle incline” and we were out in the front garden. “Easy-peasy!” I crowed in triumph. Mr B said he was reserving judgement until we were safely back indoors. Safely being the operative word..

 

Viewed from the outside, looking in, the ramp appeared a little more challenging. I felt like Eddie the Eagle, approaching the 70 metre ski jump in the 1988 Winter Olympics and every bit as stubborn. I lined up the wheelchair, gripped the handles and took a run at it. Up and over! “The Eagle has Landed!” I exulted as we ended up back in the hall, and all in one piece too. “Thank goodness for that!” said Mr B. Or words to that effect. He looked a little pale but perhaps it was just the light in the hallway?

 

Today Gary from Dial a Ride arrived to take us to Guild Care where Mr B has his weekly Pamper Session. I'd carried the ramps from their new Forever Home (aka the garage) and set them up in plenty of time for Gary’s arrival. “Impressive!” he whistled when he saw the ramps in situ. You could almost see Mr B’s chest puffing with pride as he accepted the compliment.

 

“Seemed like a good idea,” he commented with commendable understatement. “It should be a help for Her Indoors.”

 

Result! I told myself. I shall be sure to email Tom with the news. I have no doubt that he will be absolutely delighted to hear from me.

 

Don't you reckon? 

 

Latest comments

03.07 | 22:43

Wouldn't have missed it for the world. xx

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12.06 | 02:31

I love that you talk to your plants ... I used to on my allotment ... seemed perfectly rational !

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05.06 | 22:01

Sounds like a perfect day Jacqui, happy birthday for tomorrow, love Val xx

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07.12 | 15:48

what details have you got on your mysterious Wilde?

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