57: a cheese and pineapple hedgehog for sixty, please.

It’s 7am on Sunday morning and thanks to Thing 2 I have been awake for an hour. She has a habit of setting a 6am alarm (‘but Mu-ummm, it’s on silent‘) and leaving it on a shelf by her bed, where it’s magnified by the wall so it wakes all of us up. Last night she’d had a nightmare and crept into my bed….where she is still fast asleep in a cocoon of blankets, having managed to be the only person who slept through her alarm.

She did have an exciting day yesterday, at a birthday ‘pamper party’ where all the girls got their make up and hair done. She’s a fan of TikTok and YouTube, so she had a lovely time being made up properly. (I have absolutely no idea, to be honest – as far as I am concerned if I can get my eyeliner on both eyes to look almost the same I think I’m pretty much winning). I was doing some gardening while the party was going on two doors away and it sounded like they were having a good time. I think birthday parties are one of the things they have missed most over the lockdown: that permission to eat lots of party food and run around shrieking and giggling in the sunshine. I think we have all missed that, to be fair.

Bleeding heart flowers

Usually I’d have my own birthday party, which before last year was a (very) relaxed afternoon barbecue in the back garden. My birthday is in June so I can count on reasonably good weather, our back garden is made for kids with lots of space and a tree to climb so there’s no need for people to find sitters. I am much better at grown up birthday parties than I have ever been with the kids, sadly. The thought of 30 children running around screaming fills me with horror, as does the idea of entertaining them, so from quite early on I was a big fan of the pizza and pyjama party for the girls: order Dominoes, watch a film in your onesie, and let them entertain themselves. No washing up, apart from anything else, and who doesn’t love pizza? I can manage a reliable birthday cake, or Colin the Caterpillar* is always acceptable.

Ivy graffiti on the tree trunks we use as borders.

Kids’ parties these days are also very different to when I was a child. Way back in the seventies and eighties your parent would deposit you at the front door of the birthday child’s house and run away to do whatever parents did while their child was at a party. Probably shopping, or a quiet sit down with a deep sense of relief that someone else was in charge of the 30 kids hopped up on E-numbers. You knew what you were getting as a guest, too: a couple of rounds of pass the parcel, cheese and pineapple on sticks, sausages on sticks, chocolate fingers, jam sandwiches and crisps, sleeping lions and a piece of cake wrapped in kitchen roll on your way out of the door. Pizza and chicken nuggets were unheard of, and as for carrot sticks and hummus….

Now, especially when the children are younger, there’s an assumption that an invite to a child’s party is also an invite for the parent and all their younger siblings, which means – if you have the whole class invited – you’re suddenly feeding 60+ people on party food. If you’re a parent who does the daily pick-up, you probably know all these parents (or at least the childminder) and have some idea who they are. I, on the other hand, have really only started doing pick ups regularly in the last year or so, so when the kids were younger I had no idea who anyone was. Thing 2 was never a child who could be left at a party as she was so shy, so I always had to stay with her (usually with her physically attached to me like a limpet for most of the party). There was also a hardcore clique of parents at their original primary school and – as a working mum – I was never part of that so parties were an exercise in isolation. I really hated the idea of inviting 30 people to a party who would basically ignore me…so I didn’t. The primary school Thing 3 currently attends is much more welcoming, as are the parents! I still go down the small party route, and Thing 3 prefers a birthday treat like the cinema and a McDonalds. These days the request is usually to go to the fun session at the swimming pool with some friends, and one year I took Thing 1 and her best friend to HyperJapan for the day. You have no idea how much of a relief this is…

*Other caterpillars are currently available, at least until M&S win their case against Aldi.

Image by Aldi

Jab one done: the rest of the week

On Tuesday I had the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccination, at the centre in Loughton. It was incredibly well-organised, and I was in and out in less than an hour and on my way home. I had the AstraZeneca vaccine, which my beloved had had a few weeks earlier, and the side effects kicked in after 24 hours. I was fine all the first day, apart from feeling a bit dopier than normal, and then – bam!- it was like being hit by a tree. I spent most of Wednesday on the sofa asleep and then was fine on Thursday apart from a sore arm. Not much fun, but I’m halfway there now and hopefully it means at some point I’ll be able to visit my parents.

As usual, I got several rounds of my crochet done while I was waiting – I am making these lacy socks from Simply Crochet issue 108, in Marriner Yarns’ Cosy Toes sock yarn. It’s the first time I have used this merino blend yarn and it feels lovely and soft. I’m using the jellyfish colourway which is soft greens and pinks and I am trying to be good and measure the tension so they actually fit.

Toe-up

On Thursday night I went for an evening dip in glorious sunshine. I didn’t swim far as I was still feeling the last of the vaccine but just being submerged in the lake was enough. We were some of the last people out before the lake closed for the evening so were lucky enough to see the fish jumping for the gnats, and I also spotted a parakeet, a red kite, a cormorant and a heron.

Finally, last Sunday we dragged the children out of the house for a family walk (I do mean dragged) to the flood meadow and back. The meadow is currently covered in a carpet of cowslips and deadnettles. The children also managed a two whole minutes without arguing, which was nice.

So that’s it from me! Tomorrow night I am looking forward to the full moon swim at Redricks, and have managed to do the waterproof test on my underwater phone holder thingy so might manage to get some swimming pictures.

Same time next week! This week’s cover photo was taken from a prone position in Victoria Park, at a team picnic in the sunshine.

Kirsty x

What I’ve been reading:

Another Time Another Place (Chronicles of St Mary’s) – Jodi Taylor

The Quantum Curators and the Faberge Egg – Eva St John

The Quantum Curators and the Enemy Within – Eva St John

Chocolat – Joanne Harris (Audible)

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