Archive for August, 2013

Impressions #5

August 19, 2013


Rowan had a second nap in the car after a long nap, but she was so quiet we imagined that she had settled, until when checked upon, she was found leaning on the windowsill, just quietly watching the tree blowing as the evening deepened.

12 August: Granny remarks that she has noticed R using ‘mine’ a lot more.

The same evening she makes a melodrama involving all the bath animals and at one point has the police duck saying to the other duck ‘Mummy!’ ‘My son!’ she replies. Other snippets of dialogue include ‘Where we going?’ and ‘Yes, Dear.’

It seems as though she picked up the concept of racing in a moment (in the pool – watching Ben, Lily and me – also resulting in a leap in swimming confidence for her), the whole 1-2-3 Ready-steady-go – ing in a line and winning, applause, et cetera. It’s almost as though it’s something innate.

17 August: regarding her memory, it’s notable that a week later she is still talking excitedly about the time she spent with Charlie and Zachary at the Botanic Gardens. A vivid, happy memory.

Sometimes, when she says ‘Hello Mummy’ and repeats it about eight times, it’s as if she’s doing a brilliant rehearsal for life, thinking about all the times she will say this in the future.

She has started doing scales in bed. And she can now sing the alphabet beautifully. She also like singing ‘My bonnie’ or, as she seems to prefer: ‘My granny went down to the cellar.’ Also mash-ups of ‘Sleeping Bunnies’ and ‘Run Rabbit Run’ (or ‘Run Bunny’ as she prefers to call it). All this makes us nostalgic for the days of ‘Three little men in a flying saucer’, and, in fact, she’s happy for us to sing it.

Three little men in a flying saucer

Flew round the world one day.

They looked left and right but they didn’t like the sight

So one man flew away… (continue, ad infinitum)


From a Doll’s House #4

August 19, 2013

Mike Peason knocked at the door to the attic. “Mind if I come in?” Actually Frieda was happy to see him. Of all of the new arrivals, he was the most useful. Bertha was a bit scary, Mary was all me-me-me, and Ssh I’m Hiding was, well, just a kid.

“I’ve been out with Ssh and her animal friends,”said Mike between coffee slurps. “Do you remember those mystery mounds she said they told her about? Well, it turns out that they’re tents, belonging to the claimants Chimp Charlie rejected. Do you want to come and meet them? It turns out they’ve got quite the tale to tell.”

Do kangaroos jump? Frieda went and got Joey and joined Mike, Ssh and the animals on an expedition to meet the men from the mystery mound.



[Left-to-right: Joey, Frieda, Mike, the three itinerants, the animals and Ssh]

“Pleased to meet you,” said the blond-bearded tramp. “I’m Hally Cromit and these are my two very good friends, Jacqueline Wilson and Cory Games.”

He was much better spoken than Frieda had imagine, she realised with a guilty start.

“Tell them what you told us, Hally, about where you came from.”

“Gladly.” He turned to look deeply into Frieda and Joey’s eyes. “Most important it is that you understand what has begun to happen to you we have seen all happen before.”

“We know your neighbour Robert Builder of old [Editor: See Doll’s House#2] It was he who is at least partially responsible for our present state, for it was the effects of his fracking that caused us to lose our jobs and houses.

“They said the earthquake had nothing to do with Robert’s activities, but we all knew otherwise. We didn’t get a penny; the whole seafront was lost, along with our jobs, and many of us also lost our houses.

“We needed money to stay afloat, and that’s where the Blue Crest came in. At first, we thought he was the answer to our prayers.”


“He  loaned us money, but when it came time to pay him back the amount we owed him had doubled or tripled. We couldn’t afford to pay him and he threatened us with prison.


“That’s when the sunshine girl came in. She lead the protests and with her inspiration, the people forced the Blue Crest to suspend the debts.


“But it was just a trick; somehow the Blue Crest made the Sunshine Girl vanish, and he brought back all the horrible laws he said he’d cancel.




“And then, because we couldn’t repay him, the Skittle came down hard on us and the Crest’s Cycling Chum sentenced us to five years in prison. When we got out, we left the country as soon as we could, and made our way here, where we thought things would be better.”  Hally stroked his beard. “But now it seems as though the same thing is happening here.”


“Well,” said Mike. “What are we going to do about it?”

Notes from the end of Summer

August 16, 2013


I was going to write that in the photo above, Lily has just introduced Rowan to her first Doctor Who monster, but apparently she witnessed one, in I think it was last year’s Christmas special? Anyway, this is the Slitheen’s first appearance, and a classic, that had R’s undivided attention.

She already (always) seems much older now, as we’ve noted, the language development is really coming along, although the excitement felt can be the hardest thing to convey here, for instance, our mutual astonishment at her remarks to Lily the other morning: “Where’s my magazine, Lily? Can you help me find it?” It’s the very normality that blows your mind

Conversation of the week?


“You don’t have to be sorry. Why are you sorry?”

“Just in case!”

Missed moments

An audio clip I wish I’d recorded:

All the kids singing along to Elvis’s Old Macdonald in the car on the way to Walton.

A photo I’m glad wasn’t taken:

Me, covered in wet mud from all the clay Lily flung at me – that we found washed up at the shore’s edge.

A video impossible to shoot:

Rowan’s confidence as she tackles the incoming tide, and  her fortitude and glee, even, as the waves crash against her.

And finally…

A picture from the final day’s main activity, ‘Paint Explosion’ at First Sight, where we ‘became our own idiom’, apparently, which was, appropriately, ‘Bigger Fish to Fry’. One thing I’ve noticed about Rowan’s attitude to painting is that she doesn’t continue with a piece until it becomes a gigantic brown splodge; she has definite ideas about when things are done. She painted the wild part of the seascape.


Because you’re not here

August 13, 2013



After a lovely weekend at the Bury St Edmunds Abbey Gardens on Saturday and with other NCT kids Charlie and Zachary at Cambridge Botanic Gardens on Sunday, we drive you back to the station and say goodbye. It seems horribly brutul, although it does make good practical sense, but it definitely feels as though the niceness of the weekend has made the parting that much harder. But if that’s the hardest thing to talk about, or to bear, then it’s more than anything else why I’m keeping this record anyway.

Anyway, instead of talking about that any more – we are British, after all – I thought I’d share some pictures of our budding sports star with you, because, as we now know, Just as her language and reasoning has been jumping so has her sporting ability. I love the first pic of her holding the racquet here.


Catching the shuttlecock… Has the badminton gene skipped a generation?



Game over… moving on.



Wonder what else is in the summer house?



Impressions of human progress in a two-and-a-half year old: #4

August 9, 2013


August. “Need to cut nails,” she says to me. “Need new clippers,” I say back. “Don’t like clippers,” she concludes. “Need Hoover!”

August 4: This I hear from upstairs: “Give me! [Pause.] Give me, Lily! [Pause.] Give me please, Lily!” and a bit later: “Catch ball, Lily!”

August 6: “Biscuit?” I ask R. “Chocolate biscuit?” she asks me. “No, Rich Tea,” I reply. “Okay little Daddy,” she says.

Later, she appears to be calling the crocodile and the dinosaur Cuddle and Snap – good names. When I say “Good night” we both hear her say “Sinking game night!” in reply, and she repeats it, when I say it to her.

“Nut night!” she says, so I return it: “Nut night!”


Earlier in the day, Lily had picked up Wenlock, the 2012 Olympic mascot, and said “You’ve had this mascot for a year,” and R repeated “For a year,” several time, and I thought, or think, however much this list might seem to belie it, her rationality has been growing by leaps and bounds in the last few days and weeks. Her conversation, her responses and her understanding have all been transformed.  As if to prove the point, as I write this, she is trying to get my attention and I say “Just a sec,” and she repeats it, thinks about it, and actually does give me a moment.


On the 7th we went to the zoo, but we forgot to take a camera. This is a list of some of the animals we would have had a chance to photograph this time, and also a kind of list for ones I must photograph for Lily next time.

The monkeys that watched the sun bears

The giant anteater

The red panda

The cherry-breasted mangabees (At least, I think that’s what they were called.)

The deep blue frog and later, the golden frog – both tiny.

The assassin bug

The tiny turtles, underneath the steam tree and the orangutans we never got to see.

Oh, and feeding time for the vultures.

Here are some of the actual other pictures of what Lily and Rowan and I got up to.


“She’s walking it!” was Lily’s outraged comment on Rowan’s cycling style.


Posing for the mobile phone camera isn’t easy.


Another fine creation from Lily that Rowan stands by, poised ready to destroy…


… but is distracted by a sandy pool.

Rowan sings ‘Get Lucky’

August 5, 2013

The thing about putting videos here is that it kind of shows up the rest of the blog. Why bother trying to describe anything (or even have still pictures) when a video does it all so many times a second? Well, probably it’s still worth bothering because I’m not a very good video maker. But in the spirit of openness and experimentation, or just because I can, I’m going to try and include some videos from time to time, beginning with this one, where Rowan sings and dances to Get Lucky. Of course, it was all even more impressive before I started filming…