Saturday, 19 August 2017

Post-holiday blues

Last weekend we arrived home from holiday. It had been a lovely (if damp) holiday, lasting two weeks for me and LittleBear. I went feeling angry, tired and stressed. I'd been fantasising about resigning from work, feeling desperate and over-whelmed. And a fabulous two weeks away from work changed that completely. I stopped thinking about work. I climbed rocks, I paddled in rivers, I dammed streams, I ate cake, I drank wine. I had a lovely, lovely time with friends, with family and with LittleBear.

And then we came home.

Within the first 18 hours I had done 6 loads of laundry.

The first morning I made the mistake of weighing myself and discovering the impact of a month of eating cake and drinking wine (because I started before the holiday, just to get in training).

The second night as I sat on the sofa, the walls felt like they were closing in on me. The bookcases loomed. Though our house is considerably bigger than a small, slate, former miners' cottage it felt confining, restricting and claustrophobic.

The email about (horrendously expensive) repairs to the back of the house lurked malevolently in my inbox. At some point it requires answering. And I've already deferred answering twice.

The last week of the summer holidays yelled at me, reminding me that I had organised nothing for LittleBear to do, and that we needed him to be looked after for 5 days*. BigBear has only 4 days leave left for the rest of the year. I have more than that, but I'd be taking the piss if I took any more time off right now after 2 weeks, followed by another week coming up in a few days time.

I wrote a list of Things To Do, and every Thing on my list felt like a millstone round my neck. I even ended up putting "have a conversation with BigBear" on my list. About the (horrendously expensive) repairs to the back of the house**.

I went round to a friends' house and felt envy at the elegance, and style, and calm of her home. It was light, and airy, and beautifully furnished, and clean, and tidy. Even with a young child. I came home and trod on Lego and glared at the heavy, dark, gloomy furniture that I own more by accident than design. Back in the mists of time I was left with no furniture and very little money. Ebay came to the rescue. And since there's nothing technically wrong with the furniture, and it fulfills all the requirements we have, it stays.

The cleaner came this week, and though, in truth, I am enormously grateful that I have a cleaner, not only because it means I don't have to clean, but it means I do have to tidy up at least once a fortnight. But the process of attempting to tidy up left me with a simmering resentment at all the stuff that doesn't have a home. The boxes of CDs and DVDs squatting beneath the sideboard that no longer have a shelf because we own too many books.*** The stashes of paper and card and half-completed artwork slid down beside the desk. The in-trays that are more "I don't know where else to put this" trays. The plastic boxes full of random, but apparently precious, bits of plastic tat.

So, here I am, home from holiday and restored to a state of not wanting to quit my job and live in a yurt. But I wish I was still in the Lake District, paddling in streams and scrambling up rock faces, instead of facing the tedious realities of daily life.

Mini Positive Posts seem like a distant dream at the moment, but for the good of my mental health, I might have to return them.


* We have a plan. It will probably all be fine.

** We've had a conversation. We've still not decided anything.

*** Technically there's no such thing. We merely own too few shelves.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Getting wet in the Lake District

Anyone with even a passing familiarity with the weather and general topography of this country will be more than aware that going to the Lake District is an almost sure-fire way of getting rained on. You don't go to the Lakes for the sun. You go with head-to-toe waterproofs, even in mid-summer. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that I ended up wet through. It might come as more of a surprise that this drenching occurred when I was inside our cottage. And that it necessitated removing my trousers and paddling across the bathroom floor.

Let me introduce you to some basics of plumbing. Generally speaking, a bath is fitted with an overflow pipe. This connects to the main drain from the bath, and ensures that, should a tap be carelessly left on, the water will pour out of the overflow and not all over the floor. I bet you think you know what happened don't you? But no! The bath was not over-filled, it did not overflow. Or not exactly. It all started innocently enough. A child was bathed. The bath was emptied. All was well. Some time later a second child was bathed. All was still well. And then the plug was pulled out, and suddenly, and unstoppably, water streamed across the floor.

A properly plumbed-in bath has the overflow connected to the drain, thus ensuring all water exiting the bath by standard methods also exits the bathroom, thusly:

Perfect plumbing, imperfectly drawn


An incorrectly plumbed-in bath, where the overflow pipe is not connected to the drain, will function under certain circumstances. If one is parsimonious with ones water consumption, one will observe no adverse effects:

Getting away with poor plumbing

If, on the other hand, one is partial to a somewhat deeper bath, the irritating habit of water finding its own level may give rise to flooding issues, to whit:

The purpose of correct plumbing is revealed

We experienced both of the latter two situations. One was more tedious than the other and required the removal of clothes and the sacrifice of Towels of Desperation to staunch the flow of a rather large proportion of a bathful of water onto the floor. On the plus side, it's a downstairs bathroom, so there was no risk of bringing a ceiling down with the flood. It's always important to look on the bright side, especially when you're on holiday and paddling round a bathroom in your underwear.



Friday, 4 August 2017

Ginger pop and jolly good fun

I'm writing this post from a location firmly entrenched in the entirely fictional world of delightful childhoods of the well-to-do in post-war rural England. It is a world without telephones, without television, without radio, without central heating, and almost entirely without the internet (we'll gloss over borrowing the neighbour's WiFi connection through a couple of feet of slate wall that only lets some of the bytes through). It is a world in which Jolly Times are had in the Great Outdoors by ruddy-cheeked children who like climbing trees and having Splendid Adventures.

It is a world in which for one brief moment I felt a glow of triumph as I managed to do something properly old-fashioned and outdoorsy and three small children actually enjoyed it.

I set a trail of arrows for said small children (my own LittleBear plus GirlTigger and BoyTigger who are 10 and 7 respectively) to follow. It led them up hill and down dale, over walls, through bogs and under trees to a small treasure cache. I suspect I had marginally more fun making and laying the arrows than the children had in finding them, as at least two arrows were trampled on without being noticed, and there were repeated bleats of, "he found the last one", or "it's not fair", not to mention some minor caviling about rain and cold and an insufficient supply of chocolate, and the occasional request to return to the cottage for more iPad-time. I don't really think they'd have enjoyed the 1950s much...

However, since the children did, relatively rapidly, work out their own method of walking in a line, taking it in turns to lead and be Chief Arrow Finder, and since the treasure was chocolate, and since both mothers had had the wit and foresight to secrete extra snacks about their person, a Good Time was Had By All. Especially by me.

A fine selection of arrows

The Tigger family has now departed for parts further south once more, and I await the arrival of BigBear and GrannyBear later tonight. LittleBear has gone to sleep planning a treasure hunt to create for GrannyBear to follow, which may or may not be just what GrannyBear wants, but I think is probably a measure of the degree to which LittleBear thought it was a Splendid Thing To Do.