Friday, 30 August 2013

Regrets? Bloody loads.

You know that thing, when it's the last day of your holiday and you get up and walk around the house, or the hotel, or the camp site, or wherever you happen to be, thinking to yourself: this is the last day of my holiday, I am so sad to be going home, I must drink in all the sights and sounds and sensations, I must appreciate the feel of this hot, hot sun on my skin, I must drink in the roar of the cicadas in my ears and the distant chime of the church bell in the village? Yes? Well I have that really bad today.

It's a tricky one, do I want to stay here in the Ardeche, in this comfortable house on the top of a hill with a breath-taking view, or do I want to go back to a building site in Tooting, to shortly send my dear, sweet, loving, adorable Youngest off to a secondary school he is clearly not ready to move on to and where he will be eaten alive for breakfast? 

Answers on a postcard to: Really Don't Want This Holiday To Ever End, In The Sunny Ardeche, Where I Have Been Holed Up With My Family For Two Wonderful Weeks.

The best bit? Well, apart from the kayaking down the local river, the trip down the caves, meeting Llamas, swimming in the cold, clear rivers bordered by stunning gorges, huge rocks, still pools and pretty waterfalls, the constant eating and drinking in lovely cafes and restaurants and here at our comfortable house...

it's the just being together. It's having Eldest say: lets play Chronology again! Or, which movie shall we all watch together tonight? It was that walk Youngest and I took to the village up in the hills on the opposite valley together, when we stopped all the time to look at the different butterflies and the wild flowers and the fossils we found strewn on the path and the cat in the pot. 

It's watching Middle One play his guitar and read his book and be so constantly loving and kind to his little brother. These are the memories I will cherish the most because I am a soppy, middle-aged mother of three rapidly growing boys and I am clinging to every precious minute.

With love, from France,

E x



Thursday, 15 August 2013

A picture is worth thousand words. I hope.

You know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? Well I'm hoping it will be because I haven't had a moment to write and this is why...

and this...

and this...

and this...

and this...

and this...

and also this...

while also researching some of this...

and now doing lots of this...

in order to go on this...

Hoping to blog from there but not making any promises. 

Will definitely be back in September. 

Thanks for hanging on in there! 

Love E x



Monday, 5 August 2013

Chicken stock.

A big mess in the garden. The view from my office.

Two days before the builders arrive Husband decides to make chicken stock from a leftover carcass from dinner. I'm out with friends so I don't know this until I discover the litre of greasy liquid on the hob next morning. The same morning I need to pack everything up - all the crockery and glass - and haul it down to the cellar. By myself.

Next day, Friday morning 8 am, and here they are: four Polish builders at the front door. 
"Good morning Elizabeth!" says the good-looking one, the builder we chose to run the project for us (well, I chose to be honest, I wonder why?). He has a twinkle in his eye and a spring in his step and so I let them in. 

Coffee? I think, but then months of endless coffee making for four burly builders flashes across my inward eye and I decide not. In any case these guys mean business, no time for coffee, they immediately start clearing the kitchen of all the larger items I was unable to remove by myself. 

Wicker sofa? 

Er... upstairs, our bedroom. 

Big tiled mirror? 
Er... cellar. 

Pine cabinet on wall? 
Er... cellar again. 

Apparently if I don't tell them where to put things they will assume I want to trash it and throw it on the skip, so it's a bit stressful.

I start to grab breakfast things to take to the four boys upstairs (we had an extra one for a sleepover) but keep being interrupted. 
They need to turn off electricity for a while/where is the gas point?/where do I want things in the temporary kitchen?/where is the key for the patio door? Then they start to pull the old cabinets off the walls and smash them to bits. 

I'm just grabbing the Coco Pops when I realise they are moving the fridge. I haven't emptied it. It didn't occur to me and now it is full of chicken stock, in glass jars... 

They've already taken some of the jars out and put them down on the half-destroyed worktop, which is covered in wood dust and shavings, and a few of them must have been a bit wet because the wood dust and shavings has stuck to them. 


They carry the fridge through to the living room, which will serve as our temporary kitchen for the foreseeable future, as a nasty stream of milk-coloured liquid follows behind. 

Double yum. 

That's cream, I think, from that opened carton in there, and possibly milk as well, mixed with chicken stock of course.

Just then the phone rings. It's work. "Is this a good time to talk?" says the woman at the other end, "About doing some filming for us?"

"Sure!" I say, grabbing a cloth and some Jiff and following the trail of cream/milk/stock.

"We were just wondering if you can make a video about rapping?" she says. "Two videos actually, for use in schools, for Year 5s, we need two children and a teacher. It's for the beginning of September."

For the beginning of September.

"No problem!" I say. Although I'm thinking it might be quite a big problem since I have no childcare, I'm about to go to Center Parcs for a week on Monday, then will be back for barely ten days and will go to France for two weeks and then will get back just in the nick of time to sort Youngest out for secondary school (the new uniform, the hair cut, the shoes, the bag, the nerves... his as well as mine). 
But this is work, you know, WORK!

Anyway, I clear up the mess. I get the boys breakfast. The temporary kitchen gets sorted and looks great (see below). We go to Center Parcs for a week. I spend a goodly portion of the time emailing rappers in Brixton but despite this have a wonderful time and upon our return, yesterday, we find that the builders have inadvertently turned off part of the electricity downstairs so that everything in the fridge has gone off and we have to throw it all away. Including all the chicken stock. 

So now I'm going to phone some rappers...

Here is the temporary kitchen in the back of the living room.