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Long distance

          When we moved to Weymouth to find Semi-retirement by the seaside, we had no idea covid was on the horizon. The plan was to have visitors to our seaside pretty much all summer, and to spend the winter visiting in return. Well, the mice and men put paid to our best laid plans with a virus and so any visiting for the last few months has been virtual.

          It seems an age ago now that I was dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century when Little Sister gave me her old smartphone and showed me how to use it. My world would be a whole lot smaller, and sadder, without the technology I now carry around in my pocket or the tablet Hubby gave me for Christmas.

          Grandson arrived into this strange world we live in today, where most people hide their mouths behind a mask, and it’s quite natural to have a conversation with a face on a screen.

          Grandson has turned five months already. We did see him at the beginning, and had cuddles, albeit from behind a mask. Eldest Daughter keeps us updated with photos, voice recordings of Grandson yabbering away in his own special language, and video calls. We’re holding out for the time when freedom is restored and we can visit again, but until then I can take comfort from the fact that he knows no different, he hasn’t had the joy of a house full of visitors, and the fun of other children at playgroups, but he isn’t missing them as such, because hasn’t had them taken away…..

          Youngest Daughter has been using the “at home” time to decorate her bathroom. When I last visited with her and Son-in-law we spent time doing the usual ” Mum and Daughter” activities and we put up tiles in her kitchen.

          Instead of actually helping in person this time I’ve watched her progress through regular photo updates and exchanged ideas and sent a couple of helpful thoughts her way with a bit of virtual troubleshooting. Her house was a newbuild when they moved in. Of course you have to wait for a certain amount of time before you can personalise a newbuild but when you can personalise it you have pretty much a blank canvas to play with. The bathroom had the very basic quota of white tiles around the bath and shower walls, and behind the sink taps. Youngest has taken off the sink tiles and matched the bath tiles to carry on the splash proofing around the sink and into the window, then added her own personal touch with the coloured grout. Nicely done!

          Middle Daughter has been busy during lockdown too. When the girls were little, they each had their own toyboxes. Youngest had a large dark wood one, and Eldest and Middle had a pair of what used to be linen boxes made to sit at the end of a bed.

          The big deep brown wooden box moved on to be another child’s toybox years ago, but the other two toyboxes moved on with the girls to their respective houses. Eldest’s toybox has reverted back to a linen box at the end of her bed and Middle’s has moved into a coffee table/footstool near the sofa downstairs.

          Middle Daughter bought some firm foam and some nice thick material, and on one of our previous visits I got to play with her staple gun while we covered the lid and made it into a seat. The seat looked good, but the attempt to nail on some cladding to the outside didn’t go too well so the box was given a quick coat of paint to spruce it up while it waited for more inspiration.

          Middle’s chosen style is a sort of upcycled mis-match and she’s never happier than when she has a project on the go so I wasn’t at all surprised to see pictures of the box changing once more. Nicely cut pieces of wood have changed the flat sides into panels, and a bit of wood filler underneath a new coat of paint has given the box a new lease of life. A few tips were asked for during the fixing on of the new hinges, and of course, were more than happily given. And the result… Very satisfying, and very comfortable to sit on and to look at. I don’t think it will be long before Eldest’s toybox is given a revamp as well.

          Troubleshooting with my “growed-up” Girls over the phone gave me one of those strange roll-reversal feelings again… I told you before how the carer in me became the cared for in “Adult snacking“. But this time I’ve very much identified with my Dad.

          I used to help my Dad with fixing things, I loved getting messy, or watching him take broken things apart and put them back together in working order … much more fun than learning to cook …and washing up afterwards. When I grew up and had my own house to play with. Dad used to come round and help me to fix broken things there too. Then, as I got older and my confidence in what I could do grew, I would do the taking apart and fixing things myself. My Dad was my safety net (I work better with a safety net) I would very often plan my latest play with my biggest toy, and discuss my latest decorating project or fixing plan with Dad before I started. As we moved further away from home, out into the big bad world as “growed-ups” with children of our own, technology advanced, I would often be sent a photo of a hand drawn plan of Dad’s advice, and in return would send a photo of the end project when I’d finished.

          I have snippets of memories from many a time working on a project with my Dad on the other end of the phone. One time in particular I remember something was wrong with the hot water tank in the attic, I remember describing the details with a torch in one hand and the phone held to my ear in the other.

          I also remember delving into a broken washing machine on many occasions with my Dad troubleshooting at each stage, starting by checking the fuse on the plug and eventually diagnosing the fault. I have my limitations though, I know how a lot of things work, and often my confidence is my bigest limitation, but I know how much damage electric, gas, and water can do if you get it wrong, so on these things I call in the professionals.

          Since moving to my seaside, I do miss my trusted tradesmen, the ones who have gotten used to me over the years and were quite happy to just drop in and do the little bits of jobs I was stuck on. So far, we’ve had our radiators changed by a plumber who left dirty water marks on the carpet, walls built in the back garden by a builder who couldn’t measure a gate, a shed door and window built by a carpenter who’s work I quite frankly wouldn’t allow in the house and a bathroom fitter who seems to have evaporated. However, I now know a very good double-glazing firm, and I’ve found a handyman who is almost as much of a perfectionist as I am …

Ten thousand a year…

          In the immortal words of Jane Austen’s Mrs Bennet,

               …”Three Daughters Married”…

                    … “Ten thousand a year “…

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          It seems such a short time ago that I was a young bride myself, followed at a respectable interval by the patter of tiny feet and in no time at all I was a mother duck with three little ducklings following wherever I led.

          I seem to have stayed in the land of nursery rhymes and fairytales while time moved on around me and all of a sudden I have three grown-up,  married daughters…  And three Son-in-laws.

          I wonder, what sort of Mother-in-law am I?

          I was never what you could call a conventional mother, determined that times and events which shaped me as a child would not have the same effect on my girls.  I turned my fears into games “The Woosh” being one of my more successful ones.  I was terrified of being pulled into the void left behind a big lorry on a busy road. Talking to Youngest Daughter about the game a while ago, she can’t actually remember playing it, but the gust of wind which follows a lorry always makes her happy.

          I was never happier than when the house was full of children, at Christmas the other mothers thought I was completely mad when I would fill the house with very often over thirty children.  I would put together a huge buffet of party food and leave the guest lists to the girls.  Each Daughter invited their own group of friends and provided their own entertainment.  You would think that that amount of children in a house would be chaos, but no, it seemed to work surprisingly well, three different age groups,  three different parties and each group was far to busy to bother the other. I flitted from one group to another, not really being a parent, just being more of a presence and so as with life in general at home, I became less of a mother, and more of a friend…  We looked after each other.

          Every mother has their own way of bringing up their children,  their own Mother/Daughter relationship and indeed, Mother/Son relationships too.  I guess my ways seem strange to our newest family members, in all fairness my girls have had the last twenty to thirty years to get used to them and the three boys have been thrown in at the deep end.

          I don’t see any traditional Mother-in-law / Son-in-law relationships on the horizon, I am however,  pretty hopeful that we can all become friends.

Shoes

         Last weekend was a day of celebration, over the last few weeks I’ve been mentioning an upcoming special event and finally it arrived.

          Middle Daughter and Boyfriend tied the knot and became Mr and Mrs.

          Since I try to keep the blog pretty much incognito and the day was all about the people, I’ve had the not so small problem of finding a couple of pictures without people in them.

          Well it would appear we’re a shoe family.

2015-05. Shoes & Bag.

          Needless to say, my shoes were orange.  I wore a very understated outfit of classic grey trousers and a dark green top with the odd orange splash of colour on it and then added the overstated accessories with my orange shoes and bag.

2015-05. More shoes.

          Little Sister wore pink, a dress with huge pink flowers on it for the day, but by the time I took this photo at the evening party, she’d given up on the dress and changed into black trousers, with enough pink in her top to carry on the shoe theme.

          Big Sister had gone with red shoes.  Her blouse had plenty of red to top off her black skirt, and although she had thought about it, black shoes were abandoned for the bright red ones to keep up the side.

          And of course, Middle Daughter’s were the shoes everyone wanted to see on her day.  Her brains are most definitely not in her feet but it would appear both brains and feet were working together to ensure she lasted the day out in comfort.

          The flat little blue flowered shoes fitted in perfectly with her colour scheme and wedding theme for the evening party, but for the main event she wore a beautiful pair of Irregular Choice shoes, chosen I believe, even before the dress design was decided on.

2015-05. Shoes.

          No dress photo as yet, so use your imagination …

          Middle Daughter wore an ivory dress made (by Little Sister) of chinese silk, the front neckline dropped like that of a Grecian Princess whilst the rest of the dress flowed effortlessly over her slim frame to the hemline which had been raised slightly to allow a glimpse of those beautiful shoes as she walked.  The back of the dress dipped deeply to the waist where it was met by a large, Cinderella style bow and then flowed down to a delicate fish-tail hemline.

2015-05. Shoes of Choice.