Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Life on the Home Front

So, the summer holidays slide inexorably on, although only the mouldering shell and fossil collections and as-yet unsorted piles of artwork and PE kit are firm evidence that it is, in fact summer at all. Every morning we seem to be greeted by lowering skies and impromptu rivers running down the garden, and have to think up new ideas for indoor entertainment.

I think that might be why I finally agreed to the guinea pigs.

Apparently I said yes ages ago, and since then daughters #2 and 3 have been secretly saving money, getting 'Look After Your Guinea Pig' type books out from the library and stockpiling doll's hairbrushes and blankets in preparation for the big day when they would arrive. Defenceless in the face of such skilled organisation, last week I found myself going along with the preparation of Muffin's old hutch and Monday saw us bearing home a big cardboard box containing Truffle and Biscuit (I know... the pets in this house clearly demonstrate the preoccupations of their owners. I put up a spirited argument for christening them Doris and Betty, which seemed much more in keeping with their little old-lady stoutness and busy, bustling movements, but was scornfully overruled in favour of more confectionary.)

They spent their first twenty four hours here huddled together at the back of the hutch watching beadily as the girls, suddenly possessed by some primitive nesting instinct, swept and tidied and prepared elaborate amusements for them to enjoy once the period of Settling In (advised by the girl in the pet centre) had passed. Many of these activites weren't entirely suitable, so the Barbie jeep and Sleeping Beauty Bed Set have been banished back to the toy cupboard, but the wooden fort (joint christmas present to all children years ago, and painstakingly painted by me a bit at a time on December evenings when they were all in bed) is enjoying a surprisingly successful renaissance as a guinea pig run. Truffle and Biscuit scurry along the ramparts and squeeze into the turrets, like grannies on a WI coach trip, looking for the tea room. We seem to spend hours, camped out in the conservatory where they've taken up residence, just watching them. (So does Ruby, only her expression is slightly less indulgent and more... speculative.)

Anyway, away from the domestic front, last night I ventured back to Liverpool at about the time when I'm usually sinking onto the sofa in my pyjamas with a cup of tea (ie 10pm) to take part in Linda McDermott's late night talk show on BBC radio Merseyside. It's a panel-type programme, which means lots of opportunity for gossip/discussion and driving into Liverpool I was so enjoying listening to the ladies talking about romantic films that I kept forgetting to check the road signs and ended up getting horribly lost. Luckily I found my way just in time to take my place in the studio at 11pm for a really enjoyable 40 minutes of chat on a wide range of romantic topics. Unfortunately I can't find a Listen Again link, so I'm tempted to claim airily to have been terribly articulate and incisive etc. However, far too many of you know me too well to believe that, and obviously people who heard it might be reading, so perhaps I'd better just say that it was huge fun and a lovely chance to publicise the Centenary Exhibition. If you're anywhere near Liverpool, go see it!

In the midst of all this I have to confess I'm struggling to fit in time to write, though the story and the characters are swirling insistently round my head, demanding attention. Thanks to my lovely laptop I've taken to snatching moments to frantically type a few paragraphs at the kitchen table or on the bed while supposedly sorting washing. Yesterday I was deeply involved in a lovely scene at breakfast time, and had successfully tuned out the arguments about whose turn it was to have the stickers in the cereal packet when daughter # 2 walked past and, glancing over my shoulder said in deep disgust, 'Eeeeuw. Mum's writing about pants.'

*sigh* I'm quite certain Virginia Woolf never had to put up with such restraints on her creativity.


Kate Hardy said...

LOVE Daughter #2's comment about pants. Hilarious.

Sounds as if the girls are having great fun with the guineas. Great names, too. (And that fort is super-cool.)

Michelle Styles said...

GPs look cute. Hopefully they are providing lots of entertainment. I love their names.

And I so agree about the summer rain...

Rachel said...

Guinea pigs are so cute aren't they? I love the little squeaking noise they make. Sadly it has been decreed here that just one bunny in the family is sufficent!

The hideous British weather is turning us all into very dogged, bewellied creatures. I have even been nagged into crabbing in the rain (caught 67!). Doing well and haven't had to resort to the latest dvd releases for some peace. But there's still a long way to go...

Lots of love,


Donna Alward said...

It's not only the UK. Last night all you could hear in our neighbourhood were lawn mowers...everyone scrambling to cut the grass before it rains again. Which is forecast for this afternoon - the ONE day all summer the dh and I are going out and were hoping to have drinkies on a patio bar. Sigh.

I'm sure you were completely articulate and witty and lovely. :-)

Kate Hewitt said...

We succumbed to hamsters a few months ago... but their entertainment value continues. Good luck!

India said...

Well-- Day Four (sounds like Big Brother) and the guineas are still pretty nervous of being handled, which makes the daughters feel guilty about picking them up, despite me telling them that it's the only way they'll get used to it. Ruby however is showing no such consideration or restraint. Yesterday she slipped lithely into the fort and lay down, obviously hoping that the guineas wouldn't notice her vast furry bulk filling up their entire space...

Weather is better though. Although husband informs me in doom-laden tones that the forecast for the weekend is Not Good.

Trenda said...

"Romance as a Prescription for the Preservation of Maternal Sanity"


Your book arrived in the mail today and right when I started to sit down and lose myself within the pages, life happened.

My son's temperature spiked to 103 suddenly at 4:15 this afternoon, right before I needed to go pick up my daughter from art class, and only an hour or so after Hubby crashed from exhaustion. (He's been working an insane number of hours in the past few days...and nights...making major changes to the operating systems at his work.)

I took my son to the doctor. Two hours later, we were told it was a virus and to treat it as such. In other words, wait it out.

Then, Hubby called to tell me the alternator had gone out on his car. He had to borrow mine and hit the door as soon as I got home with our son.

It's now 8:14. Daughter is washing her hair. Son is watching Monster Jam. I'm taking a moment to say your book is shining like a beacon on my superbly messy kitchen counter, and I've promised it that when the kids are all tucked in I will lose myself in those perfect pages. Just me, a delicious hero, a delightful heroine, and some chocolate. ;-)

You're the best, India!



India said...

Ahhhh Trenda-- huge hugs at the end of a horrible day! I so hope your son is feeling better soon, and that you do manage to grab a few moments for yourself to relax and recover from the stress.

(And I love the image of your 'superbly messy kitchen counter'. So familiar!)