Poetry for Children #1 – Wynken, Blynken and Nod

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod
by Eugene Field
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe,–
Sailed on a river of crystal light
Into a sea of dew.
“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
The old moon asked the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring-fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we,”
Said Wynken,
And Nod.The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe;
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew;
The little stars were the herring-fish
That lived in the beautiful sea.
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish,–
Never afraid are we!”
So cried the stars to the fishermen three,
And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam,–
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home:
‘Twas all so pretty a sail, it seemed
As if it could not be;
And some folk thought ’twas a dream they’d dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea;
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
And Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one’s trundle-bed;
So shut your eyes while Mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:–
And Nod.


S/P/T Days 23 and 24 and ghosts of Christmas past

Day 23 - Winter Wonderland (I wonder why I'm there)

Day 23 – Winter Wonderland (I wonder why I’m there)

Day 24 - Red

Day 24 – Red

You know the drill by now – Silent Sunday means just that, no words. Just one picture. So here are today and yesterday’s photographs for Britmums‘ ‘Snap it, Pin it, Tweet it’ photo challenge.

We did the usual over-consumption thing, again. Every year we say we’re going to cut back. Every year, the shopping bill for a couple of days’ worth of food (and drink) has me feeling extremely guilty . To be fair, this year, I think we have cut back, but food prices have – as expected – gone up. Our local Tesco also has a cunning little plan in the run up to Christmas. Remove all but the most expensive versions of popular products, for example, frozen sausage rolls. You can’t have your customers going for the Everyday Value sausage rolls at 88p for 50 when you have the ‘Party’ range at £2.00 for 40, can you? (I’m sorry, but I refuse to believe that the more expensive ones are any less mechanically reclaimed / scraped off the factory floor / from pigs who slept under duvets on feather mattresses – a sausage roll is a bloody sausage roll, they just put them in different bags).

Anyway, enough moaning. I have a cupboard full of Twiglets and a fridge full of cheese. I’m not sure I have enough wine to see me through this afternoon (I only have three bottles, after all), but the Co-Op are wisely staying open until 10pm tonight.

The second picture features my favourite Christmas ornament. It used to hang from my maternal grandparents’ Christmas tree, and it was bought by my mother when she was three. This battered little heart is now shining through its sixty first Christmas.

Things like this always lead me down the path of mawkish sentimentality when I start to reminisce about Christmasses past. I have learned that I must never start thinking back on family Christmasses when I have been on the falling-over water, because it always ends in tears and hand-wringing guilt that my children’s Christmasses don’t live up to how wonderful and magical mine were.

What I saw, as a child, was a day filled with family. My grandparents would come over in the morning when we were very young to watch us open our gifts. There would be an enormous lunch – always minestrone soup as a starter (my mother loathed minestrone soup, so I’m not sure why this was a staple of Christmas lunch), always turkey (my mother always complaining that it was too dry). Nine out of ten times, the stuffing would be forgotten about until 4pm when someone smelled burning. There were always croquette potatoes. We never had croquette potatoes at any other time of the year. Always Christmas pudding. I’m not entirely sure any of us actually liked Christmas pudding.

The grandparents would reappear in the evening, my grandmothers glammed up to the nines as though they were off to the opera. My Grandpa would invariably be 90 minutes later than the others because he was glued to Zulu for the forty seventh time. Even the invention of the VHS recorder didn’t help – he would just tape it whilst watching it so he could watch it again on Boxing Day.

There was laughter, and games, and stories from my grandparents’ past. There were lighthearted squabbles, and demands that my sister and I performed some twee Welsh hymn we’d learned at school. There was Christmas tea – with the too-dry turkey, and home-made mince pies, and trifle (mine with cream and no custard, Grandpa’s with custard and no cream – we were always partners in contrary awkwardness), and special orange chocolate biscuits my mother only bought for Grandpa because he didn’t like anything else.

Boxing Day evening was spent with Nanny and Grandpa (once he’d finished watching Ice Station Zebra, or – in later years – the recorded Zulu he’d watched the day before), the 27th with Nanna and Grandad. Heaps more food – including pickled onions, red cabbage, and – on Boxing Day – the annual ‘take the mickey out of Nanny’s Christmas cake’ (she had plastic candle decorations for the cake that, given her lefty leanings, we decided looked more like Soviet Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles). On the 27th, we used to play the ever popular ‘what did Nanna do with the sausage rolls she just cooked’ game, and ‘mustard roulette’, where you would have to guess which of the sandwiches had been liberally spread with half an inch of English mustard, despite Nanna swearing she didn’t even have any mustard in the house.

Our Christmasses at Casa del Raindrops are very different. We don’t have family around. Not because we don’t want to, but my family are all in Wales, and Richard’s family have other commitments to family who live more locally than we do. We don’t have turkey, we have duck. We don’t have minestrone soup, we have salmon or pate. We don’t have Christmas pudding, we have stollen cake. We absolutely do not have trifle. I don’t make my own mince pies. I usually forget to buy Christmas crackers.

It’s just the four of us; loads of Aldi nibble-food; red wine and cuddles. Christmas Day is usually spent laboriously undoing those pointless bits of wire that hold toys into boxes, looking for the batteries we definitely bought, looking through the wheelie-bin for some vital piece of toy that seems to have been thrown out with the wrapping paper and me drunkenly yelling ‘Stop trampling cake crumbles all over my floor’.

The kids seem to love it. They’ll have happy Christmas memories of their own, they don’t need mine.

Now all that remains is to wish my loyal readers – yes, both of you, a wonderful Christmas, and every blessing for 2013. See you on the other side!

S/P/T Day 22 and a shameless plug


Today’s Britmums ‘Snap it, Pin it, Tweet it’ theme is ‘Look what I made!’.

Good mothers make Christmas cakes, mince pies, vol-au-vents. Not so good mothers shut themselves away in the relative peace and quiet of their bedrooms on rainy weekends and twist bits of wire around other bits of wire whilst Daddy tries to entertain the stir-crazy children downstairs.

I must confess that I am just-a-little-bit-girlie, and I absolutely adore mulberry paper flowers. I made myself a floral headband for a fancy dress night out in November (the pink one in the centre of this collage), and a friend asked me to make her a Christmas one (bottom right). I have since made a few more for little princesses, and not so little princesses.

I ‘advertise’ them on my Facebook page. They cost between £8.00 and £15.00 depending on the size and amount of flowers required. It may sound a lot, but they are extremely pretty and surprisingly robust and considerably cheaper than I have seen them sold on Etsy and other similar crafting sites under the description of ‘bridesmaids’ headbands’. I just do it for pin money, anything I make (which is a couple of pounds at most, I do it because I love making them) goes back into craft supplies.

I am going to be experimenting more with mulberry paper flowers in the new year, incorporating them into wall/door hangings (middle left) and as glass candle holder ‘prettier-uppers’ (I might need to work on the name for that one) along similar lines to the Christmas one in the top left hand corner, which was an experiment with some left over foliage from the holly and ivy headband. It might help keep me sane when I give up drinking in January (for charridee, mate), but more about that in another post.

S/P/T Day 21, and one crestfallen six year old


Today’s theme is ‘dark’. I’ll admit, I cheated with this one. This is a re-edited version of a picture on my 365project. We were running a little late this morning so it wasn’t as dark as I would have liked.

My heart, however, is dark and heavy. Ellis announced to Granny last night that Father Christmas is bringing him a Nintendo 3DS XL.  At £195.00 a pop, Father Christmas is doing no such thing. Even if Ellis hadn’t waited until four days before Christmas before dropping this particular bombshell, he would not be getting one. That’s practically the budget for both children for all their presents.

He was devastated when we told him he absolutely, definitely, most certainly would not be getting this overpriced piece of plastic. I couldn’t bear to look at him, his face looked as though I had just asked him to drown a sack of kittens.

Of course, I did what parents do. I mentally beat myself up about it. I spent last night trying to explain to him that mummy and daddy do have to send Father Christmas money to pay for all the toys he makes, and that we just can’t afford that much – especially as it wouldn’t be fair if he got one and Fin didn’t; and wouldn’t it be much more fun to have lots of little things rather than one big, expensive thing; and that Father Christmas thinks he only wants one because Calum is getting one, and Father Christmas says they are a bit rubbish anyway, really, and nowhere near as good as the Playstation2.

I tortured myself last night remembering how his lovely little face fell in crestfallen disappointment. There was no tantrum, no stropping off. Just a little six year old boy being sad, and rather brave, really, considering mummy had just pee’d all over his festive parade.

The rational, sensible, side of me tells me that no, he will have forgotten all about it by Christmas day, especially when he sees his bike. The same rational, sensible side of me also tells me that children do need to understand that they can’t get everything they want, and that life is full of disappointments and that Christmas, like life, is not just about material things.

We’re going to watch the Wartime Farm Christmas Special later on, on iPlayer. Perhaps seeing the kind of gifts that children received – and were grateful for – in 1944 will help him to realise that what he already has, and what he will receive, is far more than many children could ever dream of.


Tomtes, tantrums and twenty minute blogging

See me? I have this Christmas malarkey sorted. Totally.

Yesterday’s custard creams must have provided me with the carbohydrate boost I needed to get my backside off the sofa and my brain into gear, as last night we wrapped the presents. All of them. We also built the bikes.

Well, I say ‘we’. Richard built the bikes. I drank wine and offered gentle words of encouragement, a spare hand when required, and the requisite wifely concerned furrowed brow when another expletive-dampening sigh emitted from the poor man’s lips.

There’s a lot to be said for walking into Halfords, with your darling offspring in tow, and buying ready built and tested bikes , isn’t there? I see that now. Benefits include: Not having to frantically search for a missing front wheel washer that isn’t actually missing; not having to watch your beloved partner tear out what little hair he still has; having fully-functioning front brakes; and actually buying bikes that fit your children now rather than relying on online bike frame sizing guides that seem to indicate that your average four year old is the height of an adult wookie with an inside leg measurement that would send Naomi Campbell into paroxyms of rage .

Of course, this is Scotland, so there is every possibility that the boys will have grown the required three inches by the time the weather is decent enough to let them out on said bikes. Failing that, we have a cunning plan to strap housebricks to the pedals.

We know Ellis will love his bike. His last bike, a rusty, scratched and battered Raleigh, has been all but worn out with repeated races around the field and, seeing him ride it now, I fear for his knees as they get increasingly close to the handlebars. We are less sure about Fin. To be honest, we don’t really know how Fin will react to the whole ‘Christmas thing’. If the eight complete meltdowns about absolutely nothing we endured this morning (in a space of forty minutes, no less) is anything to go by, I do not hold out much hope for Casa del Raindrops being a haven of festive cheer and peace on Earth this Christmas morning. I rather suspect I will be in frustrated tears by 9am because Captain Cranky has declared everything ‘wubbish’, bitten his brother for picking up ‘his’ piece of wrapping paper, and thrown his bike into the Christmas tree.

But we shall see. And, of course, Bjorn the Tomte is watching.

Bjorn (Again) - See what I did there? Did ya?

Bjorn (Again) – See what I did there? Did ya?

Fin actually has a very special relationship with Bjorn. Since Bjorn arrived from Sweden, he has sat rather imperiously on the mantlepiece watching each drama, each cosy family moment, and every shrieking meltdown (mine included) with a look of rather inebriated detachment.

Over the past few days, on several occassions, Bjorn has been carried – very, very carefully, into the kitchen where I am informed by a certain small (though not as small as Bjorn, just) person that  ‘Tomte wants to tell you something’.

Bjorn then proceeds to whisper into my ear, much to Fin’s wide-eyed amazement.

Funnily enough, Bjorn only ever tells me all the kind, thoughtful, clever or brave things Fin has done. Of course, he knows about the tempers, the fighting, the screaming-for-no-reason; but Bjorn understands why Fin does these things. It is, of course, because Fin has a Tantrum Pixie* living up his nose. Everybody knows (nose?) that the only way you can stop the Tantrum Pixie* from making Fin cross is to say ‘Off you go, Tantrum Pixie*, bring back kind Fin for a cuddle’ and tweak Fin’s nose. The Tantrum Pixie* really doesn’t like that, and off he skulks, leaving kind and lovely Fin free for smiles and cuddles.

Child psychologists and other experts are probably, by now, shaking their fists at the screen and forward-planning for several years of therapy for parent-induced PTSD but, sorry, it works for us. Fin’s tantrums have, at least recently, calmed down far, far faster than when I just leave him to settle himself down. We will work on ‘ownership’ of his actions and responses when we better know what we are dealing with. Until then, if expelling the Tantrum Pixie* via a gentle tweak of the nose and some magic words stops him beating up his brother, smashing things up and terrorising his classmates, I can work with that.


You may wonder where ‘Twenty Minute Blogging’ comes into this. I have spent this morning in a most pleasurable whirl of domesticity, during which time I tidied up, cleaned the kitchen, sorted clothes and found the bottom of the ironing basket. My last task was this blog. I challenged myself to write it in twenty minutes. I managed it in nineteen.

I’m therefore awarding myself the rest of the day off.

*Tantrum Pixie – a child-friendly construct implying you suspect your child is possessed by Satan.

S/P/T Day 20

Day 20 - Green

Day 20 – Green

Not a huge deal to say about this, really, except that it was Fin who spotted this interesting (and very green) bit of wall. He asks each morning now what the ‘boto challunge’ is going to be, and I was really rather proud that he spotted this and remembered the challenge whilst walking down a busy street full of distractions.