Meet me in…Southampton!

Southampton. What does that conjure up for you? A city of docks and industry on the south coast? A premiership (just) football team? An international cruiseliner port? A bomb-ravaged city with a civic rebuild and a copycat town centre high street? A claim to fame that Tinie Tempah went to Southampton but not Scunthorpe?

Ok you’re probably nodding (or youtubing Pass Out because it was THE comedy song of summer 2011. For some. Ahem) but what if I also said vast green spaces, amazing arts venues, ambition, creativity, history, confidence…would you be nodding along then? Because you should be.

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The Other Mother

My son has another mother. There I said it. Well actually he HAD another mother. She lived long ago and she is no longer alive.

Shame, she sounded fun…

Took my son to loads of places, watched all the best films, owns the entire Julia Donaldson collection not just 95% of it. Lived in a castle, with a moat no less. Had another child as well; an older brother for my son. I don’t know much about him or if there was another parent around, but the mother? Yep I know a lot about her. Continue reading

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My son turned four in August last year. Five weeks later he joined a merry band of fellow four year olds and started school. Full time and five days a week.

We are now fixed on ‘school time’. Not something I have a problem with actually. Of course the pricing out of the holiday market is a bit rubbish. The mercenary society we live in can collectively and crassly shout supply and demand all they like – it’s still a bit rubbish.

Otherwise the new timetable provides a pretty good structure to our week. My favourite moment being this one right now when all three of the family are on drop-off and I get thirty minutes to breathe at the start of each day.

Most important of all is my son. He seems so happy. He has a wildly sociable nature and is thriving in the exuberant games and social politics of Year R. He enjoys school, he enjoys being part of something and he LOVES learning. Continue reading

Belonging to a Book Group

There’s something very special about being ‘part’ of something. Work, family, blogging, school gate chatter – it can all give you that potent sense of belonging. I think it is more of a driver for people’s ambitions and hobbies than we think.

I have often mentioned my monthly book group…a longterm hobby that has become one of the cornerstones of my life here and definitely a place I feel I belong.

I moved to Southampton just over 10 years ago and in my first week, alongside scouring eBay and charity shops for chairs/plates/mugs, I also emailed the City library enquiring about reading groups. I was duly provided with the list of groups – Saturday, library; Monday, seminar room; Wednesday, WINE BAR…

And so three weeks later found me embarking on my first meeting – Book: The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney. Location: Wine Bar. Nerves: Moderate. Attendees: eight. Room Temperature: Freezing. Drink: Tea (see room temperature). Names remembered: two.

Let me whisk you forward ten years. TEN years. We became nomadic for a short time during a noisy World Cup one year before making our final home in the library. The temperature is now comfortable, the wine is plentiful. We still number about eight people most months, with some new voices gained and some masterful voices sadly lost.

We have sat together as a group in whatever machination over 120 times. We have therefore individually, but somehow together, entered over 120 different worlds…we have each sat at the same lavish Russian restaurant, wandered around the same Victorian factory, stared at ayslyum walls, hidden in African villages, scarpered from shacks. Together we’ve met queens, doctors, dictators, mothers, fathers, slaves, criminals, witches and, yes, zombies.

And through these worlds we have shared parts of our own worlds and developed bonds that in some cases have led to actions with life-altering consequences.

I have discovered the unique joy of a collective reading experience – how, after time, you find yourself reading with all of you and a bit of other people too. How when there’s something pressing to say about the book, it’s ok because you will have the opportunity to say it and you’re saying it to people who’ve read it too. How you can feel something so wildly different to the person sat next to you about the same character, plot or even sentence and that’s ok, more than ok…sometimes hilarious.

In short I love my book group. And to save this post from being an entirely self-indulgent piece to say just that, I offer the following observations:

Libraries are amazing places – all those worlds to visit. And if we don’t use our libraries we’ll lose them. We may lose them anyway so go before it’s too late.

Extraordinary people, interesting people can be found everywhere.

Read! Read together. Even if it’s just with one other person. It’s simple but remarkable.

If you’re wondering about joining something, anything, do it. You can always leave but maybe you’ll find you’ll never leave…

Blackand white drawing of a pile of books

Still Writing

Still writing – as in ‘I’m still writing’ or the ‘writing is still’? Completely stopped more like…this has been less of a blog break and more of a blog abandonment.

And on that note – Hello!

Um. Well, this is awkward.

Hello!! Is anyone out there!!? Helloooo!!!

Ah well.

So this was supposed to be my ‘out of office’ post. I think it has taken so long to write that it is fast turning into my ‘I’m a little bit back’ post.

I would love to say that I’m back from a series of immensely exciting adventures that have taken the place of blogging but I’d be lying.

Mother and son sat on hill looking out to shoreline/cliffs and sea. Orangey soil and hills. Mother in black and boy in blue.
Travelling the world! Or the Isle of Wight anyway…

Instead I was too tired to write in the evenings and too tired to get up early in the mornings to write. I then got out of the habit and, shock horror, I didn’t mind and I didn’t miss my blog. I enjoyed the break from it all and being out of the game (which I wasn’t very good at anyway) of social media is particularly refreshing.

But then I really did mind and really did miss it and so it’s time to restart the habit. I’m a little rusty so you’ll have to bear with me.

What I missed most was putting words down somewhere solid. Consistently over the year I’ve been reminded of one of my Creative Mothers contributors, Claire from Art and Soul. In her piece she gives tips for finding time to write…she reminds us that you can ‘write’ anywhere; that writing in your head still counts as writing. I love that idea, I’m sure most people who have a penchant for the written word find themselves writing constantly – I compose my absolute best pieces in the car, in the shower and before I go to sleep at night (the last one being slightly annoying).

So yes I’m still writing. I’m just now hoping to put more of it down on the virtual paper we call blogs. And I think that using over 350 words to simply say ‘hello, I’m back’ is an interesting start – but it’s ok ,the next post I’ve got coming is AMAZING. I wrote it when I was washing my hair this morning…

 

A Day Out With Thomas

Thomas the Tank Engine…the stuff that obsessions are made of. Well, actually not in our household. We have never been struck with the Thomas bug. It’s not that we don’t like him, there’s a certain fondness certainly – it’s just that he has never inspired the sort of all-consuming passion in my son that windmills, fire engines and bin lorries have. Adding to this slight ambivalence is a mild to moderate fear of very loud noises – station platforms have been known to send him into quite the frightened tailspin.

So you may think that it was with a certain sadism that I gleefully accepted the Watercress Line’s invitation to A Day Out With Thomas

Man and boy walking through train station onto platform
What horror looms ahead my boy!?

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18 Million Things – New Year 2017

I use this blog sometimes just for me – a place to remember some of the things that make me smile about my son. These posts are a bit soppy and they are definitely not going to change the world so please don’t feel obliged to linger on this one (unless you’re my husband).

Not that I’ve written one like this in blooming ages…partly because there’s been a few millions things that haven’t made me smile so much recently and partly because I had a break and a new baby and all that jazz.

So my fast-growing-but-you’ll-always-be-my-baby three and a half year old, there are at least 18 million things I love about you and they include: Continue reading

My Snap Happy Son

My three year old has discovered (and therefore I have just discovered) that one can take photos on one’s iPad without unlocking said iPad.

My son thinks this is amazing. I am indifferent and will always unlock my iPad to take a picture because I am essentially a technological relic.

Anyway scrolling through my gallery the other day led me to some shots that are cronkier, wonkier and more blurry than my usual ones…

Yet somehow these little gems are sweeter than any of my attempts – they are infused with a childish simplicity that makes me smile.

My son chooses to take pictures of things he loves in the house; the kitchen clock, the kitchen bin, his toys, his parents, his sister. His small world is getting bigger by the minute but for now this is his world – this is his happy.

And so, in what could be the most ill-conceived photo-blog post of all time, allow me to present the photographic gallery of my three year old:

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Breastfeeding Bites #6. Feeding in Public with Beta Mummy

Ah yes, the time has to come at some point where you leave the security of your post-partum bedroom hibernation and take your baby and your boobs OUT. Not out-out, that would be irresponsible surely, but just out – a cafe maybe; a lunch somewhere; a shopping expedition; the doctors perhaps; or, in the case of my first ever public feed, a cricket game… Continue reading