Wednesday, 29 February 2012


Back to normal this week, with the other half having gone back to work after a nice week off. The small person and I have been left to our own devices once more. Our little routine ticks along, not exactly like clockwork but in a more or less predictable fashion.

The small one's development is also ticking along at an impressive rate. She is currently working hard on her ability to escape from whichever place the adults have deemed 'suitable' and 'safe'. Barely able to get onto her hands and knees and hold herself there, she is already pushing ahead and is currently to be seen experimentally lifting one leg or hand off the floor, giving the impression of a gecko on hot sand. Also developing is her sense of the ridiculous. Demonstrated for the first time yesterday when she found it deeply hilarious that her hapless mother had tripped over the bar on the baby gate!

My own sense of humour was put to the test on Sunday...and just about proved to still be there. Monty and Ted were successfully bathed; that is to say, they were successfully coerced into the bathroom and lathered up with herbal dog shampoo, rinsed and roughly dried off with a 'dog towel'. Monty decided this was enough pampering for one day and he could take care of the rest of the drying process himself, thanks very much. He did this by taking advantage of my failure to close our bedroom door. Best place to dry off for a wet retriever? Mummy and Daddy's bed of course; squirm away!

You need a sense of humour to live here. It doesn't just help, it preserves the contents of the liquor cabinet for times when it's really really necessary.

One last note; some friends of ours successfully welcomed triplets to the world this morning. Three boys. Mother and babies doing well. I feel a sense of humour will be invaluable in their household too!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Musical Bears

It's been a busy couple of weeks, hence the lack of blogging. The good news is that some of the busyness has been progress on 'the list' of stuff to do! I must say though, that when I started this blog in January I didn't appreciate how addictive it can be and how it would change my outlook on certain aspects of life in the three bear household. Now, whenever any vaguely interesting activity is underway, I try to take pictures whereas in the past I probably wouldn't have bothered. This means I now have a growing archive of photos to look back on and enjoy as a record of mine and the bears' daily lives, something I am sure I will value in years to come.

Any list maker will tell you that one of the best things about listing is ticking off the items on the list, whatever form they may take. Of course, another plus about list-making is that by making the list, you can put off actually doing the things on it. Prevarication is to be embraced. In this way, lists have a kind of dual purpose for me; delaying the tasks to be done and then recording progress made.

So what has been done since I last wrote? Well, the small person is still struggling with her teeth, lots of drooling and chewing on any item within reach but she and I have made the brave step of joining a new mother and baby group - 'Music with mummy'! We attended our first classes this week and very enjoyable they were too. Lots of singing, playing with percussion instruments, and even dancing! For a seven and a half month old this is quite bemusing at times but she seems to enjoy it. We are also gearing up to give swimming a go in the next week.

Most importantly, we made a visit to the paternal grandparents of the small person. To the delight of everyone, she was on good form and charmed everyone around including the elderly next door neighbour. She clearly knows who to keep on side! We enjoyed lots of food, explored their new home (much altered since they moved in six months ago) and went for walks. The walking provided a perfect opportunity to try out the new Bushbaby rucksack; the small person greatly enjoyed being strapped onto Daddy and paraded around the parks of Shrewesbury like a tiny royal visitor on a palanquin.

As well as all this excitement, we have tidied parts of the house that other tidying sorties seemed to have forgotten and visited friends in Staffordshire who are about to welcome triplets into the world!!! All in all a busy couple of weeks. Things should be settling down a little for a while now so I will try to keep up with the blog. It's on the list.

Monday, 13 February 2012


Progress on the to-dos has been slow over the last few days. The small person has been poorly....It seems so mean that growing teeth hurts so much and then they fall out and you have to start all over again! After experimentation with teething gels and chewy toys, it seems the best thing as far as she is concerned is melon. A cool slice of melon, straight from the fridge, gnawed over half an hour or so. If only all problems could be solved with a healthy snack (I don't even mind that she ends up coated in juice!).

In the meantime, I am focused on planning the allotment. Step one was to pay the allotment rent for the year....£17.23 for 112 square yards of land. Even when I've been digging for two hours, it's hot and the vegetables are stubbornly sticking to their grow-slow campaign, I am still ridiculously pleased that we stuck out the two year waiting list and paid our £17.23 for the privilege of sweat, aching muscles and a few potatoes. Standing on the plot, I can imagine how I might feel when I can finally stand on a much bigger piece of land and call it mine. The allotment is my little reminder of what I am aiming for. Some space to call my own.

Hopefully, this year, the plot will take another step toward looking like we know what we're doing. This will be our fourth year, I'm determined to make it our best yet. I leave you with a couple of pictures from last year's allotment action....some shallots (above) that turned out to be delicious and one of the most worthwhile things we have grown and (below) our strawberry enclosure. Believe me, the interesting high security defence system (netting, old laminate flooring and some bamboo canes) was another worthwhile exercise. Despite the best efforts of the birds and other local wildlife, we harvested several pounds of really fabulous strawberries. They were so much nicer than any I have bought in shops. At the risk of sounding like my mother, they tasted like the strawberries I remember from my childhood; sun-warmed, sweet and juicy.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012


A good boot, like a good heart, can be hard to find...certainly the lasting kind. These days, boots are my preferred everyday foot attire. Not the neat black knee high type with a kitten heel; the rugged comfy sort that I can drive in, wear on the allotment and walk a few miles without blisters or broken ankles. I do still own some of the kitten heel sort but since leaving life as a 'professional' three years ago, they only get worn for weddings, funerals and nights out, that is to say rarely.

I have been saddened recently by the loss of two good pairs. Firstly, my all-time favourite pair had to be retired. They made their first tour of duty on a camping trip to Scotland in 2004, and then saw my feet safely around Canada in 2006 and Snowdonia in 2009. They were comfortable, stable, waterproof and not too bulky. Perfect.

Today, another pair bit the dust. These not quite so special but they have seen service on many a dog walk, including traipsing through mud and streams on one memorable occasion when I got lost in the Forest of Dean! They are also notable as they were a lucky charity shop find - brand new and only a few pounds. Sadly, there is only one sensible destination for a boot that lets in more water than it keeps out.

Onwards and upwards though, another pair has been found. By some amazing luck, my mum had bought the exact same pair as the all-time favourites back in 2004 but had never got around to wearing them! They had been languishing at the back of the cupboard, unloved, never walked. Now their time has come...I have been gently breaking them in for the last couple of weeks and now they are ready. Together, we shall stride across fields and through copses, up hills and over stiles. Our first big expedition is planned for May when we set off on a family trip to Snowdonia (we loved it so much, we're going back). Until then they are in training walking Monty and Ted.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Cake Day

Cold weather makes me hungry. The really cold weather appears to have arrived, even bringing with it a few hours of snow yesterday, and my thoughts turn to food....Warm satisfying carbs, the tangy thrill of umami-laden proteins and, my personal favourites, sticky-sweet desserts.

The production of main courses falls predominantly to him. He not only enjoys it, he is also very good at it. It's one of the (many) things I love about him. I, on the other hand am merely capable of cooking the work horse meals - a decent roast, a quick casserole, a nice salad. Nothing special. I don't really enjoy it and I am not inspired to try more than necessary. My food agenda is focused on the bit at the end of the meal. The sticky sweet. Chocolate and pastry, fruit and custard, anything with cream. I'm one of those people whose eyes stray to the dessert menu while I am still ordering a main course.

So, when I cook, I do desserts. Today was a day when I cooked. Inspired by one of my Christmas gifts - 'The Hummingbird Bakery - Cake Days' book. I can heartily recommend any of their creations but today I was making Chewy Monkey Bars! Mainly because I had most of the ingredients in the cupboard and a sweet tooth demanding satisfaction. I say 'most of the ingredients' because I rarely have all of the ingredients for anything....I like a good substitution late in the game!

Half an hour later (the joy of a no-cook recipe), I had a plate of chewy, crispy, sticky snacks. Heaven. I am sure that the wheel of health nutrition indicator would not make for good reading but the taste test confirmed  success and ignorance is bliss. At least they contain some healthful things like nuts. And rice. That's about it for the healthful ingredients actually! Anyway, a weeks worth of sweet treats.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Personal Chef

So, here I am waiting once again for the late feed (again, it's the small person's feed, not mine!). Today, I have been thinking about the small person and her progress, her likes and dislikes and how she has changed things around here...

I have to be thankful, and believe me I am, that my daughter seems to appreciate sleep as much as I do. He will tell you that I do not do well with less than eight hours. I get grumpy. So, it was a bit of a shock to the system, no matter how much I tried to prepare myself, when the small person arrived. She was born at nine o'clock in the morning after an all night labour, something which I immediately forgave her for. I think I went about three days with no real sleep and then about three months before I got anything more than three or four hours in a row...I was warned, but still it was shock. I must have been monumentally grumpy at times! Nowadays though, in fact from about four months on, my lovely baby sleeps right through for about 12 hours. That'll do me!

Something else that seems to be true, is that she likes her food as much as her daddy and me. Another good thing. Her daddy can describe in detail great meals he had yesterday, last month, last year or last decade...his level of  food appreciation is almost annoying at times! Anyway, these days my food focus is on what goes into the small person. Of course, I want her to be healthy and appreciate food. It's one of the bigger to-dos.

I want her to see vegetables and fruits grow and to understand where meat comes from.  Actually, seeing the fruit and veg growing, and helping to make them grow, will be taken care of fairly soon since she will be accompanying us to the allotment once the weather improves. Her first visit to the allotment was at age three weeks but she wasn't very interested and didn't offer to help! In the meantime, I am planning and preparing her meals and continually looking for inspiration. What tastes good that can be mushed up and still taste good? So far quite a few things; butternut squash, potato, sweet potato, peas, carrots, brocolli, parsnip, chicken, white fish, apple, banana, mango....all good stuff. Her favourites are definitely the sweet things (taking after me). She likes banana so much she laughs and kicks her legs in anticipation of the next spoonful! Time spent enabling her exploration of all things edible is always a pleasure, always entertaining and always messy! Monty and Ted have already learned that lying quietly near the high-chair at mealtimes is usually a worthwhile exercise since bits of rice cake, rusk, bread and other finger foods will be making their way to the floor.

So, as I plan more exciting mushy meals, prior to delivering the late night milk top-up, I leave you with some pictures of my progress on this particular to-do. Peas and bananas, and a small person appreciating them.