Thursday, 16 June 2011

Keep On Writing

So now I seem to be on a roll.  My lovely friend Teresa has promoted my blog on her Facebook page and instructed me that I need to update much more regularly and I have started a second blog "Toddler Tales" about life with a two and a half year old.  Let's just hope I can keep it up.

Work life has become increasingly busy.  At the end of last week I had two companies ring me up to check my availability and offer me jobs.  Somehow I've managed to swing it so that I remain at the BBC but drop to two days a week, and start a new project next week at an Indie doing 3 days a week.  I know it means I'm full time and full on again for the next few months, but I'm hoping that this will both help the finances and highlight my profile to the Indie world again.  Then come the end of the year I might be able to find a project that I can work part time on and still earn the required pennies.

Of course I'm still hoping for that elusive lottery win.  Some days I just get that feeling that today is the day I'm going to win.....of course it never is, but there is no harm in trying.

We're off to the Gower this weekend for a night under canvas.  Alas without our faithful hound this time as the site doesn't take dogs.  It could be an interesting time as we are going so that my husband can take part in a world record attempt.  No, it's not how many people can fit in a 3-man tent.  Nor is it how many marshmallows can be toasted over a camp fire in one go.  It is in fact the world record attempt at skinny dipping.  Yes, really.  At 07.30 on Sunday morning 300 or so naked people will take to the sea up to their waists for an allotted period of time to achieve a world record.   Good on them I say.  I'll be the one taking indecent photographs that may somehow find themselves on Facebook!

Well I'll report back on that one next week and in the meantime I'll just keep on writing.....

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Rain Rain Go Away....

Well after another absence of three months, I've finally got a spare five minutes to update my blog. The weather is terrible and I have a slight hangover but I'm learning to grab those spare minutes to actually get some things done.

Life has as usual been full on but we've crammed a lot in over the last few months with more adventures to come.  The garden has been really productive and the rewards that we have literally reaped to date have been fresh raspberries and strawberries, rhubarb and peas.  I have tomato planes, courgettes, lettuces, beetroot, leeks and french beans to look forward to.  I did have a few squash plants but those irritating snails and slugs took a real liking to them and scoffed the young plants.  I have a thing about not wanting to use slug pellets and try to remove any pesky gastropods by hurling them over the hedge.  Alas this wasn't enough so I'm going to have to think of another solution.

We had an amazing family holiday to Lefkas in May to see my Dad.  We were really spoiled and had the most fantastic time.  The villa that my Dad owns is in the most spectacular location surrounded by the mountains and with views out across Nidri to the sea and islands beyond.  It has it's own pool which was well used by us all.  Corey was given a little inflatable dinghy by his Grandad which he loved.  He would sit in it floating blissfully around the pool whilst shouting directions to Daddy to "swim under the boat" and "throw my my beach ball".

We've managed a couple of nights camping in Salcombe.  We arranged to meet friends on the Saturday but decided to head down ourselves on the Friday.  Despite being given directions and a description of the site we somehow managed to end up at the wrong campsite and only twigged when as we headed back from the beach we passed the campsite that we should have been at on the way to the campsite we were actually pitched at.  Oops.  We did a swift de-camp on Saturday morning and re-pitched at the right site in time for when our friends arrived.  A lovely weekend was had despite some heavy rainfall.

Work has been busy but that's nothing new.  I was given a promotion which somehow meant more to do over less time as due to budgetary constraints I was asked to handle four projects doing four days a week.  Well at least it gave me a day a week to concentrate on my other job - no rest for the wicked!

We went to a wedding yesterday and had such a great time.  There were friends that I hadn't seen for literally years and it was just brilliant to catch up with them.  Hopefully it won't be so long until we next see them again.  The weather decided to make another rainy appearance, but the venue, an old barn was stunning - if a little on the cold side!  Mingling with friends, drinks in hand with a hog raost and then a barn dance to top it off made it a fantastic evening.  My poor husband had a sober evening as he had to be up at 05.00 Sunday morning to head off to Windsor on his motorbike where he was marshalling as part of his NEG (National Escort Group) course.  Still I had a great time and I got a free taxi home.

Things to look forward to are more camping trips including next weekend where my husband has decided to take part in the world record attempt at skinny dipping in the sea just off the Gower coast - hmmmm not something I'll be taking part in but if the weather is good it should be fun being a spectator!  We have a couple more weddings later in the year and if funds allow we are hoping to make a return trip to Greece.

Now if only this rain would stop I could get out in the garden and plant some more veggie seeds.....Rain Rain Go Away......

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Not Enough Hours....

Well, it's been three months since I last posted.  Shocking really, but I just don't know where the time goes.  Christmas and New Year flew by.  Work life has been stressful, home life has been full on and that has left me with very little time to pursue anything else.

As I spend a lot of my working day staring with glazed and dry eyes at a computer screen, the last thing I feel like doing when I get home is to pick up the lap top and spend the evening staring at that.  So instead, when I finally get the time to sit down I stare with glazed eyes at a TV screen instead.  In the absence of having any good books (I never seem to be free when the library is open) I need something to help my brain unwind, and that tends to be a bit of telly.  I don't really watch the soaps, unless you class Holby City as a soap, but I do like a good drama and I am a sucker for a bit of X-Factor just because I don't have to think! 

However, as soon as the nights begin to draw out, once Corey is in bed I will be spending some of my evening  time in the garden trying to be productive.  I do grow vegetables, but the last couple of years it has been a little half hearted.  This year I'm hoping to put a bit more effort in so we can reap the edible rewards in the coming months.  We are lucky to have amazing rhubarb and raspberries.  Last year we also had blueberries, courgettes, strawberries, and a few lettuces.  This year I'm hoping to expand on that.

When Corey is awake and I am around, then obviously I want to spend that time with him.  He is an amazing little boy with a cheeky personality whose vocabulary grows every day.  I want to be around to play with him, talk to him, read him stories, sing him songs and show him the world.  This afternoon we were in the garden.  He was digging, playing with his water table, helping me plant some bulbs, and generally having a good time.  I couldn't do as much gardening as I wanted, but at least it was a way of combining things that needed to be done together with sharing time with my little boy.

Steve and I actually managed to get out on Friday night to a favourite local pub to have a few beers and some uninterrupted time together.  However, I forget that I can't take my alcohol like I used to and a pint and a half of real ale, topped off with a couple of whisky and gingers, followed by a cheeky liqueur when we got in, found me flaked out on the living room floor.  Basically I passed out and woke up in the early hours wondering where I was and how I got there - it also wiped out most of Saturday as even Steve flagged after an 06.30 start and had to go back to bed for a little nap mid morning!

I'm hoping to pick up my writing course again.  After a great start with my very first assignment, I got stuck on the second and haven't been able to move on......that was back in October.  I've had another 5 or 6 assignments through since then and really need to squeeze in a few hours somewhere to get back on track.  It would be amazing to get to a point where I could actually earn some money from writing, but unless I pull my finger out and actually start writing that is never going to happen.

Work takes up too much of my life, but until I find that magical part time job that will pay enough to cover the bills, or land a windfall on the lottery, or be left some country pile by a distant relative I never  knew I had, I'll have to keep plugging away full time. 

There are really not enough hours in the day.  Or maybe I just need to schedule my time more effectively....

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Christmas is coming.....

.....and the goose is getting fat.  Which is more than I am, having succumbed to one of those nasty 24 hour winter bugs at the start of this week.  Still, at least that means I have some catching up to do on the eating front!

Today is the first day that I've felt truly Christmassy.  We travelled to the Forest of Dean this morning for my husband to take part in a 5 mile canicross race.  For those who don't know, that basically means attaching yourself, by way of a waist belt and elasticated lead, to an extremely feisty dog (insert the name of your particular breed) and then running full pelt over the required distance hoping that you don't get pulled over.  Except that today, our usually mad Alaskan Malamute decided that whilst she would pull down the hills, my husband would have to pull her up the hills.  I like her thinking.

It was a steady drive to the Forest as the roads were so icy and it was -5 when we left Bristol.  But it was a beautiful journey.  White fields, trees that looked like they had been sprinkled with icing sugar and sheep huddled in the snow.

Our little boy Corey and I watched as all the canicross competitors set off and then we enjoyed a walk in the snow as the "normal" runners assembled for their start.  Steve finished in a respectable time and looked remarkably fresh as he crossed the line.  After a short break for a shower and a cup of tea we then set off for the second part of our day.  A brief drive found us at the Dean Forest Railway and even I was excited.

We stood on the platform to await the train, which unfortunately was running late due to the cold weather.  We listened to the festive tunes emanating from the various loud speakers around the station and Corey amused himself by jumping in muddy puddles.  In the end we had to put a stop to his fun as he got himself so wet I was worried he might end up with icicles hanging from his jeans.

Eventually the train arrived and Corey's face lit up.  We all got on and found our allocated seats.  Corey sat patiently looking out of the window waiting for the train to start.  A magician began doing the rounds with a few little tricks to keep people amused and then we started to move.  Us grown ups were served with a mince pie and a miniature bottle of port, whiskey, Baileys or Tia Maria.  We shared the mince pies with Corey but had to distract him with an orange juice when he made a grab for the alcohol.  Twenty five minutes later we arrived at the end of the line and alighted the train to watch as the steam engine de-coupled from our carriage and then moved to the front ready to begin the journey back.

We had promised Corey that he would see Father Christmas on the train, but on the outward journey he hadn't made it to our carriage.  So on the way back we got ready with the camera and waited as the jolly white-bearded man in the red suit accompanied by some very young elves started at the back of our carriage.  Corey jumped up on the seat excitedly pointing and say Farver Chrishmush or words to that effect!  When Father Christmas came to speak to Corey, our normally talkative little boy became completely dumbstruck.  However, he still received his present which he took a little tentatively, and then spent the next ten minutes opening.  Once back at the station we said goodbye to the steam engine and trooped back to the car to head home.

Corey kept talking about his encounter with Father Christmas and getting a present and I'm now feeling very excited about the prospect of seeing his face on Christmas morning when he sees that the very same man he saw on the train (allegedly) paid a visit in the night to leave yet more presents for him.

Before that happens however, we have a lovely trip to visit my niece who turns four tomorrow.  We have Corey's nursery Christmas party on Wednesday afternoon and in the evening I'm hoping that my husband and I can get a night off to have some Christmas drinks together.

Christmas is coming.......and I wish everyone a very merry time.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Finding The Balance

It's been a while since I've blogged, mainly because I don't seem to have had the time.  Finding the balance between work, home, fun, study and the numerous other elements that fill the days is not an easy task.

I am lucky enough to have a career that I enjoy but it's not without its stresses.  Being a freelance television production manager means that I'm usually looking for the next job before I've even started the current one.  Contracts are short and if they are extended you are lucky to have that confirmed the day before you are due to walk out of the door.  Television work is also very unpredictable and you feel obliged to take whatever work is available in case nothing else comes along.

Home is obviously extremely important to me.  I miss my little boy every day that I work and I treasure the time that I am able to spend with him.  My husband works long hours, has usually left the house before we're up and quite often comes home when bath time has already happened.  But he usually manages to be waiting downstairs with a warm drink of bed time milk and a big hug for our son.  We then get a couple of hours to enjoy dinner and the odd glass of wine and have a chat about our respective days.

Weekends are spent making the most of the two days away from work.  We go on long walks with our energetic dog, attend Rugby Tots, visit places that we know will delight our little boy (and for him that includes running round the aisles of supermarkets) and generally have a nice time.  We also each do the odd sporting event and whilst one of us is competing the other is with our son (and sometimes also the dog) being the support crew.

On top of that I have embarked on a writing course, which I am already way behind on.  It's something that I enjoy doing and will hopefully be another skill that I can use to earn some additional pennies.  But finding that all important time to sit down and concentrate on learning something new can be difficult.

Life really is all about juggling priorities and in this economical climate it has not been easy.  However, by making sure we throw in some fun and laughter along the way and enjoying the time we have together, that balance can be found - most of the time.

Monday, 15 November 2010

How Time Flies

I can't believe that I am already in my third week of being a reading buddy.  I went with a feeling of slight trepidation for my second session last week.  Would I recognise my buddy in a sea of children's faces, would he be enthusiastic or would he really not be that bothered whether I turned up or not?

I entered the school, walked up to the classroom and was confronted by two boys who were messing about around the desks.  One of them cheekily asked, "who are you?"  "I'm here as a reading buddy" I answered.  "Who with?"  "Careem"  "Well" he said pointing at his partner in crime, "that's Careem." 

I have to say I was slightly confused.  Really?  This was the boy that I had read with last week?  He didn't look quite as I had remembered, but then as we had been outside he had mostly had his hood up covering part of his face.  Ah well, my memory isn't what it was.  I smiled, "well, I'm really sorry I didn't recognise you, you had your hood up last time...."  The boys fell about laughing and I could feel my face turning pink and glowing with embarrassment.  I'd been well and truly taken for a mug.  "Thank you" I said curtly.  "That's really mean."

With that I could hear a cacophony of voices as the rest of the children piled up the stairs.  I saw with relief their teacher heading towards me.  She looked at me quizzically.  "Hi, I'm here to read with Careem..."  "Oh yes" she said quickly, "he's on his way up so just grab him."  Great I thought, but as I looked up I saw him ferreting in his bag and pulling out a book.  Thank goodness, I did recognise him after all.

I grinned as he approached with book in hand.  It turned out that he had researched tube trains in Birmingham as we had discussed the previous week but understandably couldn't find any reference to an underground in that particular city.  True to my word I had also looked it up and could reliably tell him that there were four underground systems in the UK; the London Undergound, London Dockland Light Railway, Tyne and Wear and Glasgow. 

This time we read all about space and how astronauts shower and poo in zero gravity.   What did I say before about learning something new....!  We even used the school's computer to google some answers to questions that had been raised whilst reading the book and Careem showed enthusiam and enjoyment.  I think tomorrow I'll be a little more relaxed and won't be taken in so easily by cheeky schoolboys!

On a more domestic front, this last week we have celebrated our little boy turning two.  It seems like only yesterday that he was a tiny babe in arms, weighing hardly anything and not able to do much other than eat, sleep and poo.  Now he is a tough little toddler, who runs everywhere, learns a new word everyday, grins cheekily when he knows he's about to do something wrong and weighs seemingly a ton.  Okay, that is a slight exaggeration, but when I'm carrying him in our baby backpack he is heavy!

He's had a terrific few days, playing with his cousins, receiving birthday gifts and generally having a lot of time and attention lavished upon him.  I'm just trying to take in every moment and really enjoy every stage he goes through.  It won't be long before he's ready to leave home so I don't want to miss anything.

Time really does fly.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

You Learn Something New...

Yesterday was my first session as a Reading Buddy.  I turned up at the inner city primary school, which nestles between some university buildings and a church and had to buzz an intercom to be let through the gates.  Some of the children were still playing outside and as I walked into the playground I was overcome by feelings of nostalgia and nervousness.  As I trekked to the school office I felt like it was my first day back at school.

Inside the school it appeared to be a little chaotic and somewhat cosy.  The corridors were filled with pictures and fairy lights and I could hear a choir of young voices from somewhere down the hall.  I was shown upstairs to the year 6 classroom and waited for the arrival of the teacher. 

When she breezed in she quickly told me that my reading buddy was of dual nationality and although a competent reader, he sometimes didn't actually understand the meaning of the words.  It was suggested that we read some non-fiction and that I concentrate on building up his comprehension of the English language.

When Careem* arrived, he had chosen two books.  One on tunnels and the other on continents.  I followed him back to the playground where we found a bench to sit at.  His interest in these subjects was obvious and he immediately started to read the book about tunnels.  I was very impressed as he read fluently and with ease and when I asked him various questions he really seemed to know the meaning of the words.

Then he picked up the book on continents.  "Do you know the continents?" I asked before he opened the book.  "Oh yes" he said and began to reel them off.  My mind was already racing ahead with thoughts about what else I could ask him as he seemed so knowledgeable.  So when Careem said "North America and South America" I nodded and replied "Yes the Americas are all one."  I noticed that he looked at me a little strangely but he didn't say anything.

So we opened the book and he began to read.  We went through Europe and Australia and Asia.  There was a brief paragraph about Mount Everest and a line which mentioned the word "summit".  "Do you know what summit means?" I asked.  "Oh yeah, it's like when we're doing summit" he said.  I tried not to laugh and asked him to read the sentence again.  As he did he eyes widened and he said "oh I know, it means the top of the mountain."  His understanding is actually very good, he just hadn't concentrated when he looked at the sentence the first time.

Then we got to the page with the title North America.  He read that through, turned to the next page and I saw, with much embarrassment that it said South America.  There was nothing for it, I turned to him and said "Careem I apologise.  You were right and I was wrong.  North America and South America are two different continents."  He glanced across and then said "I thought so."  Then he pointed to the map and said "They are joined together though" and then looked at me.  I really think he was trying to make me feel better.

All too soon our thirty minutes came to an end.  I had discovered a little about him during our reading time, such as the fact that he had been to Somalia when he was three and so missed out on nursery and went straight to primary school.  I know he has a bike and loves to ride.  I also know that he is a very intelligent boy with an excellent grasp of the English language and an articulate reader.  He also knows a lot more about continents than I do.

You learn something new every day.

*I have changed my reading buddy's name for the purposes of privacy.