Friday 21 September 2018

September's Odds & Ends

I think this summer was one of the best I’ve had. I loved the long hot weeks in early summer when my biggest concern was how few suitable clothes I had to see me through a heatwave. We spent our afternoons in the garden, Ebony teaching Ember how to swing while I sat in the sun reading a book. They had green smoothie ice lollies every day and I didn’t need to worry about whether they were getting enough leafy greens. I started a garden project and quickly abandoned it so I could spend the summer enjoying the sunshine. Yes, I will probably regret this when spring comes and I see the upturned mound of earth that is the bottom of the garden, but for this summer it was perfect.

The school holidays are short here, Ebony gets just five weeks off from school. We spent two of them trekking about in my parents’ motorhome. We drove to Somerset and Cornwall and then back home again. We had the most perfect two weeks. The weather wasn’t perfect, but it was lovely to spend a big chunk of time together. We spent a couple of days with a friend I hadn’t seen for five years, and Ebony became firm friends with her son, so that made the holiday even more special. Ebony mastered cycling her big bike and spent hours cycling around the sites we stayed at. Ember decided that sleep was for the weak and spent her evenings sat in the cold with us outside the motorhome.

And now, we are firmly back into the routine that school brings. By that, I mean the morning ritual of yelling at everyone to get ready until we are late and there is no point yelling. Our days are predictable and simple and I like that. With Ebony back in school, I’ve been able to slow down a little with Ember. We’re not rushing to catch up with her big sister, so it’s ok for her to dawdle on the way home. She can stop to pick up leaves, open every gate by herself and smell every flower along the way. Our afternoons are spent cuddled up on the sofa reading Harry Potter or pretending we’re not cold in the garden. Tonight we’re going to hunt for conkers because rumour has it they have arrived.

I thought I’d share a few things that I’ve enjoyed recently, I never really have anywhere to put these recommendations, so I thought I’d try and start a little place here for them. Here goes:

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara It took me a long time to read this book. It is thick, but it is so worth it. The writing is beautiful. I will warn you, however, that it is one hell of an emotional read. I felt a little traumatised by the end and managed to warn Laurie off it so empathically that he actually hasn’t read it. I was completely swept up in the story and learning all about the lives of the characters. Do read it, but have a therapist on standby.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver This book took me a while to read, too. It’s not as long as A Little Life but it’s still a pretty hefty book. I absolutely love the way Kingsolver writes and I found the story so fascinating. I really loved the book and I would definitely recommend it.

Scummy Mummies - I had heard of the Scummy Mummies but didn’t really know anything about them other than that they are partial to spandex. My friend booked tickets and so we went to see them and they were hilarious. I laughed so loud and I wasn’t even embarrassed. There is a Captain Birdseye bit that I think will now flash before my eyes before I die in the montage of joyful moments from my life. They were so funny and so quick and I will definitely see them again next time they’re in Manchester.

League of Gentlemen Live! again - I was so desperate to go and see League of Gentlemen live that I left Ember after dark. This has never happened before because I am an overprotective anxious-shaped mother and nothing has ever enticed me away at night, but I couldn’t miss seeing League of Gentlemen. It did not disappoint. It was painfully funny, horrifically disturbing and the perfect reminder of how amazing that show was. I don’t understand how they manage to get through the sketches without laughing. There were points in the show where I actually thought I might die of laughing. I am so glad I got to see it live, it was just so brilliant.

Where Should We Begin by Esther Perel - I listened to this after Eleanor from The Bristol Parent recommended it. You listen in on a one-off relationship counselling session and it is so fascinating. Esther Perel is so brilliant to listen to, also, wise. Each episode features a different couple and the dynamics vary wildly. Some of the episodes are deeply emotional to listen to and others are, perhaps, a little odd. I suppose it depends what your own relationship is like. They all make for interesting listening though.

Not Another Mummy Podcast by Alison Perry - this podcast is always a brilliant listen, but I particularly enjoyed the episode with Emma Cantrell talking about how to discuss privilege with children. Emma has had a really interesting career in the third sector so she had some really fascinating anecdotes to share. I feel very passionately that children need to understand about current affairs, social justice, politics and privilege.

Vegan Food
Dandies marshmallows - I finally got around to sampling these and they are amazing. I can’t wait to toast them over the fire on Bonfire Night. They’re marshmallow sized which is pretty rare in the vegan marshmallow world, and they taste just like the marshmallows I remember from my childhood. Buy them!

Veganaise - I discovered this just before the summer and I haven’t stopped eating it since. I am very fussy about mayo and, sadly, the vegan ones just don’t cut it… until now. Veganaise is so good. It tastes so similar to animal-based mayonnaise. I have put it to the test with coleslaw, potato salad and as a dip for chips and it hasn’t failed a single time. It’s also really good on burgers. If you haven’t had it yet, you must.

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