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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 …

Heidi and the Giraffes

          Youngest Daughter isn’t well known for her advanced planning so when I had a phone call out of the blue asking me if I wanted to take Heidi to the zoo, it didn’t really surprise me at all.  I guess it should have, but I’ve become used to being surprised by Youngest Daughter and have learned to expect the unexpected.

13. Two giraffes.

          Youngest Daughter has always had a particular liking for the large wild animals, Son-in-Law 3 shares her liking too, which is probably just as well, and after their wedding at the end of last year, the savings weren’t quite in place for their planned honeymoon to Africa on safari, so they spent a night at a zoo.  How cool is that ?

14. Giraffe walking.

          I’m pleased to say that we share a particular liking for the giraffes, I’m not sure of Youngest’s reasons, but I like the apparent awkwardness of their long legs, and equally long necks, and the ease and grace they show when moving with them.

12. Two giraffe heads.

          Of all the animals Heidi saw at the zoo … “Cotswold Wildlife Park”  I believe she liked the giraffes best too, she completely ignored the camels, although the meerkats held her interest for a short while.

9. Giraffe head.

          I really should have been just a little surprised at Heidi being taken to the zoo, if you look into distance behind the next picture I took, Youngest Daughter and Mum-in-law are sitting on the grass while I’m pointing my camera … and so is Heidi … Youngest’s great dane.

11. Heidi in background.

          By the time I made my way back to them with the camera, one of the giraffes had ventured a slightly closer look at Heidi too.

16. Heidi head watching.

          More from before: a few of the “Furry Friends” who are part of the family.

The old block

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          “I taught her everything she knows”

                     … I wish…

          But in this case I can accept some of the credit.  Youngest Daughter has caught the baby blanket making bug.

          More from before: A little peek further into the world that I’ve “Created“.