Mission Accomplished

Despite the tiny size of the available car, I was able to retrieve the Charleesi from university yesterday. Even better, I was able to do so in one round trip. We’re still not entirely sure how we did that – there is a suspicion that the Fiat500 is actually a Tardis.

Fortunately, while playing Tetris with bags, books, and assorted household goods we had sunshine and a gentle breeze. Even the Charleesi’s traditional moment of locking herself out of her own flat was taken in good humour by the concierge who ambled over to let her back in to empty the recycling bin.

And so there it is – the end of one chapter, and the beginning of another for the Charleesi. I still can’t believe we fit all that in such a small car…

Rescue Plans

Its that time of year when we remember that the Charleesi is still stuck at university and that we really should look at how to bring her home safely.

So Sunday has been set as our target, and we shall retrieve her and her worldly possessions. Somehow. I say this because our car is in for repairs and we have a tiny Fiat500 as a courtesy vehicle in the meantime.

This, as they say, will be interesting. We might get our car back before the weekend but I’m not counting on it. I shall instead be seeing if we can arrange a series of journeys over the next few days.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Proud Blog-Father

My daughter has been in lockdown in Oxford Brookes University since everything kicked off, and like so many of us has been trying new things out on the cooking front.

Today I had a quick note and link to an article she just had published on the Oxford Brookes Student Union website about her “student-approved” baking recipes.

Being a proud father to a fellow writer, I of course have to share this with you all. Go have a look at https://www.brookesunion.org.uk/articles/student-approved-quarantine-baking-student-blog and enjoy both the quality of writing and the baked goods.

Retail Support Therapy

We’ve all been looking in the DDC for ways to brighten each other up during the lockdown. I mean, we’ve been looking at ways of making life easier as much as possible for as many people as possible too, but in particular we’ve been rallying round to help each other. I think it was brewing anyway, but as Lady B had her birthday recently it prompted a move to send presents that has since expanded across the whole group.

For the most part its sporadic – little things like postcards or small gifts made on a whimsy – but it is a wonderful little spike of pleasure when there’s something unexpected in the mailbox. While this is a thing that could happen at any time, I think the enforced isolation has made the effort more appreciated and more meaningful for both sender and receiver. If so, then I take it as an example of people rising to support each other in adversity – through a series of acts that you could be forgiven for thinking had been a thing long in the past. Now all our various communications channels are sprinkled with little remarks like “Oh I showed x what I’ve made for you”, or “Oh, reminds me I must get to the post office” – and each time I get a little glow in my chest that is almost certainly not heartburn.

It doesn’t make us any better or worse than anyone else just because we’re choosing to reach out to support our friends and partners at this time rather than engaging in some grand gesture to help the world at large. Instead, I hope that it is a trend of rediscovering contact that has been denatured by the immediacy of social media. There is no immediate gratification of a notification on a phone or laptop – its merely something that appears at some point in the letterbox, and is all the more precious for it. I hope its something that catches on among friend and family circles as a rediscovery of a slower way of showing you care. Its less ephemeral that social media, and goes alongside the other ways of showing we care that we already use on a daily basis. I feel incredibly lucky.

Silver linings and all that

Darts Night

The cub has recently discovered a new activity that has gripped his attention – playing darts. He’s now old enough to be trusted with proper sharp darts rather than the magnetic set that has adorned the door next to his desk, so lady s has registered him with the local darts academy.

His grandfather is of course extremely pleased, and has invested in a high end board and a selection of flights and components so that everyone in the house can have their customised setups to suit their play style. The cub has a practice routine to do every day and so it was that we ended up in a mixed doubles series of darts matches last night. I was in a team with lady s, and the cub was in a team with his grandad.

It was just a lovely quiet family moment of playing together with quiet banter, promises of being dumped if it ended up needing a double one to win, and hardly anyone being hit by rebounding projectiles. I suspect there may be more this afternoon while lady s is at work.

Oh, we played best of three, and we won 😉

Well, that was a week

It’s Sunday morning, and at last I have a day off. I can hear pigeons having sex on the balcony, the background white noise of the nearby motorway, and the grumble of my own stomach as it follows me into consciousness.

Yesterday was exhausting but ultimately very rewarding as we had the first session of a chess club in the library. The volunteer running it is very talented, and has worked closely with us to engage parents and children alike. It’s nice to have something good to report.

It may seem a small thing next to a continent on fire, and the first shots and sabre rattling of what may turn out to be another major war, but frankly we need to celebrate the good things as we find them or risk even more overload.

We have Lady M’s neice and nephew coming over today for Christmas presents and food. That’s the next good thing to look forward to.

What Day Is It?

It’s official, I’ve finally reached that stage of the Christmas holidays where I’ve lost track of what day it is. I was beginning to feel left out. It was only when I messaged lady s about something this morning and she reminded me that it was only Sunday today that I realised that I have entered that weird state fuelled by excess and no work where I have come adrift from all routine.

Admittedly the amount of driving up and down and across the country hasn’t helped as those have now taken on the status of week resets even by dint of not being actually a week apart.

So yes, this is my reminder to myself that it’s the last Sunday of the year and decade. A quick look at the site stats tells me that this is the busiest the site has been in four years in terms of traffic – must be all the more regular posting I’ve got back into doing 😉

Right, I’m off out to see my daughter for our third? Christmas. Have fun everyone

Back Home

We came home early from up North as plague – or at least heavy colds – descended on the Maidment households. Feeling it was better to recuperate in our own beds, we fled back South on Boxing Day, joining the thousands on the roads travelling between their own branches of families over the Festive period.

Surprisingly, the traffic actually flowed well despite being so heavy so we made good time and collapsed with pizza and presents we hadn’t taken with us to console us.

Today we therefore had a lie in rather than spending it all on the roads. We even dared travel in to Kingston in search of a book of pattern-making for Lady M, and ended up buying… well, rather a lot of books really

We don’t have a book problem. We have lots of books. It’s no problem

I do need to remember that getting rid of older books is not an automatic prompt to replace them. Oh well

Christmas Eve

“They read your site you know” I was warned – albeit a couple of days ago – of a vicar joining us for a family Christmas Eve meal at a favourite restaurant. I never know quite what to make of comments like that. The site is here to be read: it’s kind of the point of it really.

Today’s grand meal at The Italian Orchard has been a set piece of gathering together to enjoy fine food, good wine, and good company. Even with my mother deciding to stay home as a winter cold triggered her asthma there were eight of us around the table and we all enjoyed the little bubble of relative luxury and pampering that such a setting allows.

Writing and drawing? That’ll be me then.

The warning – such as it was – came of the other family joining us, the vicar of the parish that my parents are part of and her husband and son. Quite what this warning was meant to highlight is something if which I’m unsure: I’m told that my writing was found enjoyable, even if the route by which my blog was directed to her attention is as yet unclear.

“I love your drawings” I was told – and so we went from there. As the afternoon drew on my fingers began twitching for paper, so Lady M provided a notebook and I doodled away to let the daemons out – but quite why a warning was required in the first place I’m still not entirely sure. Perhaps there was a concern that I would be taken aback by someone knowing something of me – and of all the many things I talk about here it was nice to have it just be about my need to draw and illustrate.

My biggest frustrations come from having to throttle my creative impulses, so talking about my process, both conscious and unconscious, was relatively relaxing and eased us then into our respective small huddles if conversation as we indulged in the food and atmosphere before us.

All in all, talking about my artwork rather than my stories, or my relationships was probably the least contentious approach for all concerned. Perhaps the warning was more one to me of keeping the conversation to safer waters than delving into polyamory, mental health, or any other aspects of life around the dinner table.

Who knows – it was an odd injunction but a lovely meal and set of conversations where grand nonsense flowed and a great time was had.

And now for a quiet chill out and companionable silence as Lady M and I nurse our cuppas and collapse a while.

On The Road

Lady M and I are on our grand tour round the UK to drop off gifts and spend time with family. Like so many other people, we’re on the road in an escape from the day-to-day and Christmas podcasts are currently filling the car.

Our first leg was the longest, a six hour trip from London to Hartlepool. I handled the driving duties with a single break as Lady M was feeling a bit under the weather. Lady M’s sister lives in Hartlepool, and it’s where she grew up so it brought up a lot of memories.

Hartlepool Marina this morning

Hartlepool is receding behind us now as we head towards the West coast. We’ve been lucky so far in that yesterday’s traffic was heavy but generally moved along with only minor stopping and starting in the M1. This morning with Lady M driving seems so far to only be light traffic, so that’s a bonus.

There you go, boring journey updates logged. I suspect the next few days’ blog posts may be filtered through Christmas cheer.