Weeknotes 016: What’s This?
We started last week with a takeaway so monstrous that we managed 5 meals from it.
As noted in yearnotes, we’re looking to plan a holiday to perk spirits. I like the look of Railbiking. The Chef less so.
When she’s not pooh-poohing holiday ideas, The Chef treats me as a live in dictionary. She’s looked up from her book this week to ask me, “What’s rectitude?”, “What’s effluvia?”, “What’s catechism?”, “What’s crepuscular?” and “What age was I when I was 1 m tall?” One of those was tougher than the rest¹.
Suddenly, we realised that we’d inherited a lot of sub-par kids books and suddenly noticed that each time a book uses suddenly, it loses a star from its rating. We’ve a book about a polar bear with a negative rating. And a book about a hat with an infinitely positive rating.
Not that Piglet minds as long as we’re reading with her. There’s an unidentified overnight issue that’s causing her to eschew sleep. (God I miss sleep). But during the day she’s relentlessly sunny. Even more so than usual. She’s introduced herself to her potty. Not using it yet, but she’s content to sit on it and sing. She can almost do Old MacDonald unaided. Sadly, no sea shanties yet.
When not on her potty, she’s been picking things up and demanding to know “What’s this?” (Remind you of anyone?) It led to a bathetic moment, when I had the dad-crushing-abyss-of-realisation; that’s a human there. And she’s already living an internal life, which I can only share part. An an external life which I can only share part.
With lingering sentimentality in my system, I wasn’t ready for the pause at 33 seconds in Kae Tempest’s People’s Faces.
Give me your beautiful, crumbling … heart
It’s just long enough to pour all of humanity into. Like the forever-beat when Chiron and Kevin look to each other in Moonlight or Lee and Clem say their farewell in The Walking Dead game.
In more prosaic media, this video of 90 year old RTE commentator Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh making his perfect ham sandwich is 3 and a bit minutes of pure wholesome delight.
And in humdrum life, Grandad has taken over my various half-bodge DIY. He’s fixed my toilet failure and ruled out all my guesses at where the leak in the roof is coming from. He’ll be back next weekend to cut through our bedroom floor and look for the actual source. Because he’s my dad, he still won’t take payment so I’m foisting beer on him instead. I’ve moved on to the much easier saga of the missing garage slat.
He has managed to impart enough knowledge that, when a friend rang to say his flat had flooded, I could set off with a bag of tools and some confidence that I could be useful. Very much the one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind. Caught up on some good gossip while I was there as an essential handy-man too.
1: Who knew crepuscular meant active in the twilight? Aside from Pullman, that is.
24 January 2021
Weeknotes 015: Bluffside Crossing
When Piglet doesn’t want something she’ll say “No” or “不要” (búyào) and we’ll typically ask “Why not?” in return. She’s interpreted “Why not?” to mean “No means no!” and it’s used in times of extreme displeasure.
She’s also taken to saying “Mama pump” whenever she farts, which upsets The Chef no end. Toddlers are a lot of fun when they let you sleep.
At work, I’m managing to stick with my analogue to-do lists and weirdly enjoying it. It’s led to a productive week. There’s even been completed… admin. It won’t last.
Being organised has stretched into home life too and I’ve had food in for lunch most of the week. Instead of heading to the shops, I’m settling in with a double-speed YouTube. The advantage of being a Geordie is that it still sounds a bit slow. (The disadvantage being that everyone else assumes you’re slow.) As a sucker for both urban nerdery and seeing a game played to a higher standard than I can manage, watching a City planner plays city builders is catnip.
This week sees the return of a friend from maternity leave. We’ve a virtual lunch planned for the regular pre-pandemic lunch table. Which is probably healthier adult behaviour.
Had a fun career chat with the boss. After waffling for 30 minutes all about meeeee he gave me a choice: “Switch to a job you don’t want to do, but with a reasonable chance of promotion or stay with me and do fun stuff without one.” We’re OK financially and I spend too many hours at work, so I’ve agreed with The Chef that I’ll go for the second one.
As for weeknotes, Ethan Marcotte has a post about how he’s let his website be his worry stone during the pandemic. It made me consider leaving Typehut to set up a personal website. I was pricing domain names when I realised that I like the restrictions. With my own site I’m apt to make the same mistakes as at work and plunge hours into the styling, rather than the content.
I’ll persevere throughout 2021 with this. And if writing proves sticky enough, then maybe I’ll build a shifting house beside a river.
17 January 2021
Weeknotes 014: Ghosts say baa-baa.
We started the week with a misunderstanding. Long story short, The Chef evacuated tea out of her nose and goats say, “WoOoOoOoOoo” in our house.
Our understanding of Piglet might improve over the next few weeks. We’re keeping her out of nursery while the pandemic rages. They had a positive case on Christmas Eve and anyone that had been in that week got an abrupt heartbreaking change to their festive plans.
I’m holding hypocritical views of Christmas unlockdown. It was delightful to have the family all together to eat and fuss over Piglet. But I still think from a societal level it was the wrong thing to do. To reuse a metaphor from the clowns that run the country, I want to eat my cake and have it.
Not that I’m supposed to eat cake in January. Resolutions to be healthy and all that. I’ve belatedly realised I can cast my phone to the TV, which means I can Sworkit without having to faff positioning my phone just right. I can even use Piglet’s foam squares as a gym mat.
The exercise has been a good start to sleepy days. Piglet has coupled separation anxiety with teething, so I’m in the nursery most nights. I caught myself staring, fascinated, at her hands. They’re still small enough to fit in my palm. One day they won’t. For now, they hold nothing bigger or smaller than potential. A tonic for the broken sleep and snoring from my armpit area.
This week In the Night Garden, the Pontipines slept in Upsy Daisy’s bed. This wasn’t a bad thing because Piglet finds the Pontipines hilarious and someone sleeping in the wrong bed is about the limit of enjoyable peril for a toddler. Think Midsommar or Get Out but for developing brains. Igglepiggle losing his blanket was too much though. We needed to cuddle to get through that episode.
We also needed to cuddle after a second-face plant. Still saved the bike.
And after going from chair to floor, via a plant stand. That one hurt enough that she lost a couple of meals.
The toilet saga is over (I hope). We can once again flush without needing to fill a bucket in the shower first. I made sure to tackle it when no-one was home to hear the swearing and tantruming of tools. The roof has had its first of three provisional fixes. Let’s see if I guessed right and repaired it. Let the roof saga begin. The suspense.
10 January 2021
Weeknotes 013: Well that was 2020
Work crawled to a finish with three things left to do. Of which I almost completed one. At least it’s January now, so I can get them sorted and start the year with some easy motivation (more on this in yearnotes).
One late addition to the home office was a needlessly over-designed to-do pad. It’s shininess, coupled with a nice pen, means I managed my day-to-day life better over the last few weeks. I watched more bullet journal videos. Still haven’t cracked.
After work, we’ve had a marvelously lazy merrineum. We’re bubbled with the grandparents for childcare, so it didn’t feel like we’re risking killing them by spending Christmas Day together. And it meant they got to see Piglet unwrap Too. Many. Toys.
I’m inordinately pleased that one of them looks like Sean Dyche attending a Best Sausage Award ceremony in his formal High-Viz gear though.
Dinner went hitchless and Scrawl was good tipsy fun till Piglet announced that she was tired and overwhelmed and that everyone should go home now. To be fair, she’d let her auntie know that from arrival.
She’s a full blown toddler now and spent Christmas with a corker of a bruise on her chin from trying to pick a book off the floor while on her bike. She saved the bike from harm.
Thankfully, she stayed bruise free when she fell out of the cot. And she can still speak in 2-3 word sentences, so her head can’t have been banged too hard. Being able to communicate is making our life easier. She cried in the bath after a cold day out and could shout “Toes. Ow.” rather than leaving us confused and helplessly flapping.
I think we’ve managed to wean her out of a creeping bad habit of co-sleeping for the second half of the night in the day bed. I spent one 2 am being told that each of the In the night garden characters had gone. Then exclaiming “Santa’s been, yay!” before switching back to all of the family who’ve gone and passing out in a puddle of drool.
We’ve ventured out of the house long enough to walk on South Shield beach with friends, potter around Ignite (fun, but short and at National Trust prices) and guide Piglet away from parked cars on her trike.
On the couch we finished off His Dark Material. Albeit we had to go back to watch the post-credits scene once we found out about it. Four seconds of Roger saying “Lyra, where am I?” Not quite Marvel. Coco made us both rheumy-eyed. And Townscaper is Colouring Book: The Game.
Not being fans of New Year’s Eve at the best of times, plague year was a welcome relief. Covid was good for something. Spending it at home boozing sensibly with a stupendous steak was just perfect. Lǎolao turned 60 on New Year’s Day, so we spent the majority of the night prepping her a 6 course meal. All she wanted was a Michelin Star dinner. But with the restaurants closed, The Chef had to earn her mantle.
She earned it.
After too long and too much time lying on a cold bathroom floor, the toilet still isn’t fixed. I’ve sanded off all off the plumbers’ mait and I’m now trying to wrap sealant tape around a pipe with 3 mm clearance. The tape sticks to itself. While fixing it, the roof started to leak. I might actually cry.
Bye reader. See you soon.
3 January 2021
Weeknotes 012: Dancing in a brewery
7 December 2020
- I saw an Australian stand-up warning people away from $6 bread because you can never go back to cheap (I’d link to it, but Twitter’s search engine is very much in beta). Anyway, it’s happened to us. We complained that Haagen-Dazs tasted sweet and artificial. Hipster ice cream from here on out.
- Piglet has graduated to one story on the lap and one in the cot before putting herself down to sleep. Sometimes. It’s a glimmer of toddlerhood.
- She’s also started counting to ten (skipping seven), which feels weird this young.
- Christmas has arrived! We were off on Friday and decorated the tree. I managed a couple more little DIY jobs to keep my marriage intact while The Chef made the house green.
- Piglet greeted the tree with awe and wonder. She’s spent the last few days demanding to see it every hour and saying hi and bye to it.
- The Chef was working this weekend, so we had our second Daddy-Daughter weekend. The aim was to avoid A&E this time. The closest we got was seeing one of the neighbour’s kids getting wiped out by the swinging seesaw in the park. She’s fine. But it was a good clonk.
- We swung via Mushroom Works to pick up some art from their open studios event and, because we were out and needed beer for a sticky ribs recipe, we swung via the nearby brewery. They had Christmas tunes on and Piglet charmed the hearts of everyone there by cracking out her moves.
- It turns out there are only 20 milk teeth. And now that number 15 is out, we could have a full set before her second birthday.
- It’s the 7th December and we’re still not Whamaggedoned
Weeknotes 011: Decaffeinated
A bullet-pointy update this week. My weekly scribbles are too disjointed to try thread continuously.
29 November 2020
- I’ve noted a few times that this is a sleep tracking blog. Having gone back through and added a sleep tag to the 100 words, I’m happy to confirm that I updated the world on how poorly I slept 15% of the time.
- Piglet’s attention span has increased enough to read slightly longer books without demanding a page turn every second. We can follow plots. Me and The Chef now want to know what happened to the 5 currant buns Mrs. Rabbit buys which make no further appearance. We think she troffed them herself between the pages.
- I use Authy for 2-factor authentication. Every couple of months it checks that I can remember my backup password. A useful design prompt that I’m stealing for some work stuff.
- Finished If Beale Street Could Talk this week. It’s the second book I’ve read this year—first being No Country for Old Men—where the directors made my imagination redundant. Barry Jenkins has my heart and eyeballs for everything from here on out.
- Because I’m the type of dweeb to have a RSS-feed for the local council website, we’ve got an engineer coming round in 2 weeks to see if we’re eligible for a free heat pump. Likely we won’t get it, but the consultation should be worth it alone.
- Having already had maskne, I’ve now got athlete’s ear. When’s that vaccine due?
- This excellent nonsense song has been doing the rounds. I can’t decide if it better matches Piglet or Grandad’s interpretation of songs on the radio.
- Lockdown II has been more wearying than I’d like. I’ve been feeling anxious while at work (in the attic), so I tried cutting caffeine out. Day one led to a low-grade headache and concomitant bad mood. Felt better for it a few days down the line and I’ll try to keep it to alternate days at most for the foreseeable.
- If I do backslide, I’ll be sure to make no note of it on here. In 10 years I’ll read of continuous improvement and wonder why it was always the first jog I was embarking on.
Weeknotes 010: Month Notes
Missed a couple of weeknotes for no more exciting a reason than the new series of His Dark Materials airs in my usual Sunday night write-up slot. We’re three episodes in and Piglet hasn’t interrupted once.
Having missed a few weeks, there should be plenty to write about. But Lockdown 2: Electric Avenue, innit?
We got out on Sunday for a walk around the Rising Sun. Piglet woke from her nap just in time to perform her full repertoire of animal noises for said animals. The ducks were the most appreciative. In the absence of chickens or elephants, the remaining impressions were shouted at an empty field.
It was our first walk in a couple of weeks. The advent of canines ruined Piglets overnight sleep. She’s been fine during the day, so me and The Chef had a 2-hour nana nap on both days of last weekend. Felt pretty damn good on Monday.
The Chef has railed against her moniker and had a fortnight largely off cooking. I’d like to say I’ve stepped up and taken the slack, but instead we’ve drastically increased out takeaway intake. Our guts have had aromas and running up the stairs slightly too quickly is enough to leave me worryingly short of breath. Intervention time.
Piglet has been far from breathless. She’s attempting to run (with little success) and is nearing the hundred words mark. Her second most impressive piece of rote memorisation is when she ‘counts’ to ten. Only topped by her ability to recognise and recite the numbers. Keep it up and she could be the next Sesame Count.
She’s been all that stands between me and full vegetation. Winter lockdown has slaughtered my motivation. We’ve a hundred odd jobs that need tackling in the house, but between sleep and play, it’s felt like there’s not been the time. I’ve not even managed many books. It’s week 11 all over again.
At least one or two will have happened before the next weeknote if I’m to remain married.
10 November 2020
Weeknotes 009: It’s quiet. Too quiet?
We’ve prepped for Lockdown 2: Electric Boogaloo by having an extremely quiet week. Which is OK. Quiet weeks can be fun.
We spent Saturday wandering unpleasantly round town. Too many people. Too few correctly worn masks and misunderstandings of how far 2m is. Piglet had her Hallowe’en costume on though and melted at least 50 hearts.
We spent today chilling around the neighbourhood, which was much more appreciated. Cooked fish and chips again and we’re lying under a blanket on the couch listening to 6Music with a drink while Piglet lies in a drug filled sleep.
1 November 2020
Weeknotes 008: Latenotes
Sometimes a Sunday is less than stellar for reasons. And weeknotes appear late.
We didn’t get a call from Public Health England. Just a regular toddler bug.
In non-intestinal Piglet news, she’s graduating from Daisy to Buttercup room at nursery. It means she’s leaving the weak of neck and leg behind, in favour of other loud walkers.
For us, we had the fun of filling out the “Why is your daughter amazing?¹” paperwork and reflecting on who she is.
A few that didnt make the list，but that we’re proud of nevertheless:
- Saying “gentle” has come to mean “pat carefully”. If she’s being too forward with someone’s face and we call out, they end up getting a nice cheek stroke.
- We taught her to smell flowers. But she’s triggered by the word flower. So she’ll stop and smell Lego, books, and cauliflowers. Complete with satisfied ah noise when she’s done.
- To encourage her drinking water, we taught her how to do “Cheers”.
The clock change knocked our schedule and we’ve not responded well as a family. We went to see Grandma on Sunday for her birthday. Everyone was groggy. Grandma got nestled into with some Hey Duggee. Which might be the best present I’ve ever brought her.
Work wise, things have felt more in control of late. Nothing revolutionary, just a few sensible, boring changes. I haven’t gone full bullet journal, but I’m at least writing a daily to do list at the end of the day. And I’m doing 5 minute Sworkit sessions. Not enough to shift any fat, but enough to keep my mood up.
It’s still fragile and subject to setback—we’re still recovering from September—but it could be sustainable.
I’ve filled the working day with the music of Karine Polwart and even managed a film on one evening. Safe to say I’ll watch any and all films of Barry Jenkins when they’re released. He can capture all of life in an expression held in frame.
1: A real question from the form.
26 October 2020
Weeknotes 007: Early Hallowe’en
Piglet got an early start on Hallowe’en by shitting blood. Which was certainly something. It meant I got to spend the majority of Daddy-Daughter Saturday in junior A&E. She’s apparently fine, but there’s a chance we’re going to get a call from Public Health England in a couple of days to quarantine the neighbourhood.
More than we’re already quarantined. Well, if we’re quarantined. Maybe gyms are open. Unless it’s car boot sales. At least our MP, Chi Onwurah is posting sense and we can check that grandparents are allowed, even in tier 3. As for the other lot…
Back to Piglet, she’d not cleared last week’s illness. Grandparents had been willing to risk their floors and let her play nappy-less, much to her delight. The GP suggested it might be transient lactose intolerance and she went dairy free for the week. Including an involuntary wean, which wasn’t a popular decision.
The upset stomach has meant that the wash loads are split into lights , darks, nappies and things-that-aren’t-nappies-but-are-still-covered-in-shit.
With the blood waiting till Saturday to show up, I got to ring 111 instead of the GP. The script they’re given isn’t the operators fault. But the first question after being on hold for over half an hour; “Is she still breathing?”
“No, she’s not. That’s why I skipped first aid or calling 999 in favour of listening to your hold messages for the afternoon”
But I said,
For all my grousing, she looks to be fine. And her buddy from nursery has Covid. So a few weeks of loose stools is far from the worst thing. And The Chef and I have a library of poo pictures to remember this week by.
We’re finishing the week off with another of Anna Del Conte’s tasty meals, some questionable North Macedonian wine and an attempt to tally Piglet’s vocabulary.
18 October 2020
Weeknotes 006: Secondhand mooncups
This week, I’ve been aiming to live as joyfully as a toddler with the plastic frame from a broken cafetiere and some balls in a box.
Her joy has been even more admirable as she’s ill again. She’s been going to nursery since August and only completed both days once. This time the call was for diarrhea and temperature. It’s still rumbling on four days later. We’ve had the heating on full blast and she’s been playing pantless on some puppy training matts. It’s meant a lot of disinfecting the floor, but she needed time out of a nappy.
Prior to having the heating on full blast, we’ve felt the chill this week. We’ve not got round to switching from summer to winter duvet, so we stole the bedding from the spare room and had two blankets instead. It’s like having one of those expensive anxiety blankets, but for the cost of not having guests around. Which we can’t do anyway.
The personal positive of Piglet’s illness, is that she’s softened her view of me. Earlier in the week she’d taken against me and there were tantrums if I picked her up or asked for a cuddle. I’m not going to pretend that didn’t smart.
Whilst it’s mostly been Hey Duggee on during the convalescence, national treasure Michael Rosen gets daily outings. The Chef has a theory that, because the mam isn’t illustrated in We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, it’s all allegorical and the bear is the mam, woken too early on a Sunday.
Michael Rosen beat Piglet to our house. He was first invited through his Sad Book. As the title suggests, it’s one of the most heartbreaking books I’ve ever read. Quentin Blake is on hand to do justice to the words. I need to buy a new copy having sent it out on forever loan to a friend.
The other national treasure in our house is Margaret. Better than any instruction manual. We love a sensible lady around here. She instigated another round of introspective awe that our parents managed to raise us without any internet.
Speaking of the internet, this Tom Waits thread is lovely. Full of charm, insight and humour. I’d already commented and it felt indulgent to add a story from a dream, but these are weeknotes and are all about self-indulgence.
It was in the before times of 2019. I dreamt that Tom Waits and Bon Jovi did an arena tour together, but they would only sing each other’s songs. It was terrible, even in a dream. But it’s the reason my Tom Waits covers playlist is called Bon Waits & Tom Jovi.
The other pleasant modern living thing—now that piglet is 15 month old—is the constant delight from the “1 year ago today” notifications on our phones.
Crossed wires meant The Chef had the car on the day I was to pick up a balance bike christmas present. Cycling with a bike strapped to your back is not recommended in Newcastle. A faded painted line was all that was between me and cars doing fifty. It led to me filling out half a dozen feedback forms on cycling improvement schemes.
In Facebook marketplace news, the secondhand mooncup has some interest. Pregnancy tests are on there too. I’m assuming unused.
11 October 2020
Weeknotes 005: Falling
You know that gif from Avengers where Bruce Banner explains his secret is that he’s always angry? That. But for our dishwasher needing to go on.
* * *
We’ve been co-sleeping over the last fortnight while teeth break. But, after two solid weeks of pain and effort, Piglet is now the proud owner of a full, extra half of a tooth.
Just 17.5 more teeth. At this pace, that’s 8 months’ worth of calpol.
* * *
Months ago we bought a secondhand high chair and gave it a paint. Unfortunately, being hipsters we chose a chalk finish that Piglet could peel off and eat. On Sunday I eventually got round to stripping it so we can use it again.
Feeling pumped from all the grass I’d killed with white spirits, I went to collect and fit a bike seat for her. We took a pedal across the moor and ended in an unplanned beer garden visit. First time in a pub since February.
* * *
Living with a toddler means living with misadventure. I’ve started a mental clock for when I’m going to step on one and go straight back down the stairs.
Barely had I started the clock when I was beaten to it by Piglet. She wanted to play on the stairs unsupervised and reaching out to restrain her led to her pulling away and missing a step. The second from top step.
Two things will stay with me. Her pleading expression of confused terror as she fell, thudding to the floor. And the break in my own mythology that I can save her from these things.
I’m a disgustingly self-confident optimist. Even nightmares can normally be turned around with a bit of impudent cheek. In the dream where Piglet is falling, I always catch her. But real life punctured that with pinwheeeling gravity.
Being small and mostly made of fat, the extent of the damage was a barely perceptible egg on her head from the stone floor. Which didn’t lessen the panic while trying to discover broken bones in an inconsolable toddler.
The next day was spent at Lǎolao and Lǎoyé’s. The stream of photos of her enjoyment calmed my fretting. I can’t save her from life, but we can surround her with love and kindness. Which is about the best we can hope for.
* * *
We feasted through mid-autumn festival and marked the passing of time by packing away Piglet’s baby toys. No more rattles or Fisher Price Circle of Neglect®. Replaced with puddle-jumping wellies and a rocking chair. Our living room—for one night only—is free of her stuff.
* * *
I sneezed while wearing a facemask. It was deeply unpleasant.
4 October 2020
Weeknotes 004: Too nice a notebook to sully
On a crisp afternoon walk, The Chef was eulogising her love of autumn and offered, “It’s that the sky feels further away.” Which makes no sense at all. Except that it kind of does. It must be something to do with the quality of the blue.
Back in the summer I got a notebook for my birthday that I’ve still not written in. It’s just too nice. I even searched Bullet Journals to see if I was worthy enough to keep one. I’m not. The search for a use continues.
Robert Heaton’s I got married and had kids so you don’t have to was a swirling, circling, rambling essay on being a new-ish Dad (specifically a Dad and not just parenting) in Covid times.
[He’s] started to become more fun since I last wrote about him. He’s always been fun of sorts, but it was usually fun like cooking, not actual fun like playing PlayStation.
My hot take on baby science is that humanity knows an enormous amount about what is good for children, but this knowledge is so baked in to our lives that we don’t notice it.
It’s a good read. It reminded me of Paul Mucur’s weeknotes. Both invited parenting on themselves a month or two after me, but are going through the same experiences. It’s reassuring, while the world is busy being everything, to hear secondhand accounts which rhyme with my own. And I get to laugh at things like protest bananas.
Having Piglet has already broken my Spotify recommendations. After a concerted effort, I’ve wrestled about a third of the weekly recommendations back to twee indie, with the rest being made of relaxing nursery piano music and ambient noises. I think this might be my high-water mark for non-kid recommendations until 2040. I did get round to collating a Piglet bedtime playlist with this lot on there.
This year, rather than start with a crumble, we followed Jane Pikett’s Lemon and blackberry clafoutis recipe for our first forage. Delicious and disgustingly simple to make. It’ll definitely get a replay this autumn.
While I write these, The Chef has just found someone selling a secondhand mooncup on Facebook. So that’s a thing. No takers yet.
27 September 2020
Weeknotes 003: That does not smell nice
This week has been a restorative tonic for the soul. The prosaic hiccoughs of a regular week interspersed throughout fun adventures.
It started at 5 am on Sunday. You know that gif from Avengers where Bruce Banner explains his secret is that he’s always angry? That. But for Piglet being awake.
Once downstairs she flipped herself headfirst off the couch onto the wooden floor. While calming her, I heard a bang from the utility room. I can’t stress this enough. Always vent your worm tea. Especially if there’s a couple of dead ones in there. They ferment. Unless you want your child to be raised by The Clangers while you wipe stinky dead worm compost off the walls.
We had holiday booked and paying £1000 to stay in a cottage less than an hour from home was off the cards, so we filled the week with day trips.
We started in Bamburgh on Monday. Fitting the new car seat took longer than expected and we were late setting off. When we got there, it was cold. No one was happy. Piglet crapped on her clothes (which we thought at the time was bad, but oh ho ho). All in all, a far from auspicious start.
Tuesday’s trip to Vindolanda went better. I realised I’ve radicalised The Chef when she asked the really rather sweet archaeologist if “Anyone else had taken the finds from the site?” I’ve long had a bee in my bonnet that London gets to have anything of note from up North. We got the reply that “They’d sold the original tablets to the British Museum because they didn’t have the capability to store and present them safely. But that they’re up to scratch now and we can go read some of them in the museum.”
That’s right: read Roman tablets. They’re on wood and ended up in an anaerobic bog and are preserved well enough to read today.
We had to be quiet talking to the archaeologist because Hugh Dennis was on site filming. (New series of Great British Countryside?) Once we find out what the programme is, we’ll have to watch find out if we can hear Piglet mooing in the background.
Heading home showed us how wrong we were about Monday’s poo. At first, we thought it was the smell from nearby sheep. But it didn’t dissipate. If anything it was getting worse. We pulled in to a lay-by to find that she’d enjoyed lunch so much that she was eating it a second time, post processing. Panicked we stripped her on the verge, damped her dress and wiped her off as trucks rolled past. Unphased, Piglet was asleep 5 minutes after setting off. The brand new car set is already stripped and in the washing machine.
We went to visit friends near Durham on Wednesday. Inside their house. Which I hope is legal. If it’s not, rather than incriminate myself, let’s say this bit is fictional. Piglet had her usual panic on entering a strange building, but by the end was leaping out of our arms for cuddles with her new besties. Seeing friends is always lovely, but in the ’rona times, there’s a keener edge on the joy.
Thursday was The Chef’s birthday. We ditched Piglet at nursery and headed out for some delicious food at Rileys.
It’s a 4G blackspot, so we were almost back at the car before we found out about the local lockdown kicking in at midnight. A few calls to the grandparents and everyone was round for another bout of farewells.
The local council had included an exception for informal family care, which has been refused by the clowns. Our house “doesn’t have track and trace like a pub.” Despite me knowing the addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth and favourite foods of the four people. If it doesn’t have a till, it’s not important.
Northumberland Country Zoo does have a till, so we went there on Friday. If we’re honest, it’s just a big farm. But they’ve got Lemurs, so they get to call themselves a zoo.
Piglet was nonplussed by the more exotic animals, favouring a stand off with a duck and trying to feed her fingers to a goat.
So excited was she by the duck, that we took a trip out the Havannah Park on Saturday. It’s another wildlife reserve within 10 minutes of the house that we didn’t know about. We filled our first bag of blackberries, ready for a crumble. Ah, autumn.
20 September 2020
Weeknotes 002: Loss
This week we suffered a miscarriage.
The early pregnancy signs were similar to the last time we miscarried. We were anxious and refused to allow ourselves to expect too much. To calm our minds, I cooked up a theory of dates that would mean there’s no reason to worry. It was all explainable and sensible.
I was downstairs with Piglet when H called down, “I’m bleeding.”
She rested the rest of the day in the hope that it was just a scare. But it got heavier.
We hadn’t yet spoken to the GP or midwife. The first call was to book a scan to confirm everything had gone wrong.
The first time we miscarried—Blueberry—we were distraught in the hospital, trying to find somewhere private enough to hug in tears. After I called my Mam to tell her, I lay on the kitchen floor and bawled. When I rang work I could only manage to choke out that I couldn’t come in. But this time, because we hadn’t let ourselves open up fully to hope, it hasn’t been possible to open up fully to grief.
I stilled cried when I had to tell Mam. And that’s the only time I’ve cried. It feels easier and harder at the same time. Some of it must be because we already have Piglet. Sadness, but without the sharp edge of fear of, “What if we can’t ever?” And some must be from the hard shell of fear that encased our hope. Our future child.
After the scan, H and I walked through a park, talking through the numbness we were feeling, trying to articulate and describe it so we could release it.
I’d thought that I’ll end up with the same amount of sadness, spread out for longer without the release of the peak. But I can’t avoid the callous belief that that’s not true. I haven’t wanted to admit it to myself and face my own judgment, but maybe this time I won’t feel as much loss.
Importantly, H is OK and the scan has shown no lasting effects. Piglet will just have to wait a little longer for a sibling.
13 September 2020
Weeknotes 001: What the blimp?
The 100 words, 100 days challenge is over. I don’t think I achieved my set out aim of improving my writing, but it’s been a nice way to capture life in what otherwise would have been the loop and repeat of lockdown.
Now that it’s done, I’ve decided to keep up with some form of blogging. I’ve made mention of weeknotes a couple of times and I’m giving them a shot.
So, without further ado, weeknote one.
I bought some pen plotter art from Rev Dan Catt’s season of the ghost. I only bought a single silver on black postcard and look what he generously bundled in! A full haunted envelope. It’s made my frame purchase more involved.
Jeremy Keith—the inspiration for the 100 words, 100 days—was kind enough to link to my efforts on his blog, Adactio. It’s been a staple of my RSS feed for years for a constant stream of interesting thought (the link to here excepted). He has an excellent collection of design principles. And it was pleasant to bookmark something written by a stranger which linked to something I wrote.
In Piglet news, she got a handy-down Duplo train set. Which is to say, me and The Chef got a handy-down Duplo train set and we let her play with it too. Lǎolao and Lǎoyé visited and, while we prepped Piglets lunch, they argued over the right way to build an over-track arch.
One night we even got her to sleep early enough to watch a movie. We plumped for The Farewell having missed it in cinemas, courtesy of having a baby. It was both enjoyable in its own right and in being worryingly close to being a biopic for The Chef.
Buying frames is hard. In the meantime I’ve posted the ghosts on the door. It’ll make for a talking piece in one of the hundred video calls in the next week.
6 September 2020