S/P/T – Day 19, and the List Of Things Yet To Do

Day 19 - Presents

Day 19 – Presents

Today’s theme involved having to stop procrasinating for at least fifteen minutes (my doing-as-little-as-possible-around-the-house schedule is pretty hectic at the moment, I’ll concede) and actually get something done in order to provide a photograph. The boys’ presents are stashed (OK, chucked), still unwrapped, in the cupboard/wardrobe/general dumping ground in our bedroom and threaten to collapse and engulf me in cheap plastic each time I open the door. That, I decided, was far too risky when I was expected at the school gates at 3pm.

I wrapped Richard’s presents instead. There are considerably less of them, most of them are a shape I can actually cope with wrapping, and involve minimal arguments with the sellotape that is possessed by the Devil himself.

I sat there, listening to this (you have to, really. It’s the law), giving the uncooperative sellotape a damned good talking to whilst giving myself more papercuts than an origami-loving masochist and, for a few minutes, felt rather festive.

Then I remembered the LIST OF THINGS YET TO DO which is, indeed, as ominous and Dickensian as it sounds.

The LIST OF THINGS YET TO DO involves procuring sprouts, cleaning the Glasgow grime from the windaes, removing several layers of e-coli infected grease and dust from the kitchen floor, and sorting out the modest (by today’s standards) gifts for Tiny Tim and his brother. Fortunately, it will involve no stay in Newgate Debtors’ Prison though, if the boys’ current mood remains at this hyperactive level of fevered excitement, it may well involve a little visit to Bethlehem Hospital.

Then, the small voice in my head – the one that speaks reason, and helps me maintain my lovely ‘fuller’ figure by encouraging me to do as little as possible to expend calories –  reminded me that it the house will be completely trashed by 9am on Tuesday anyway. I exerted a little energy crossing things like ‘cleaning’, ‘tidying’ and ‘being ruthless with the megaton of broken toys cluttering up the living room, stairs and bathroom’ from the LIST OF THINGS YET TO DO.

That all made me quite hungry, so I had a custard cream or three and a nice cup of tea. And a sit down. To recover.


Snap it, Pin it, Tweet it – Day 18

Day 18 - What I really want for Christmas

Day 18 – What I really want for Christmas

Today’s theme – ‘What I really want for Christmas’ had me musing over my morning caffeine fix as the boys scrabbled with coats, boots and gloves ready for the walk to school.

What do I really want? Materially – nothing. I do not crave a TV the size of the wall, or fancy shoes, or Pandora bracelets, or snazzy clothes or a faster, leaner computer. One could always do with a new jumper, or some matching socks, or some extra woolly tights for these cold Winter mornings, I suppose.

I watched them chatting together, my two boys. Ellis helped Fin with his wellies. Fin accepted the assistance with uncharacteristic grace and didn’t try to kick Ellis into the middle of next week. They started chattering excitedly about today’s Primary School nativity, and the impending visit from Father Christmas, and how many sprouts they wanted on their plates for Christmas dinner.

I thought of the families in Newtown, CT. I thought of those twenty tiny children, and the six adults, who were taken away so cruelly last week. I thought of all those unlived Christmases, all those candles snuffed too soon. I thought of all those who will spend this Christmas – and probably every Christmas until they too die – mourning those who were killed that day, the fourteenth day of advent.

I realised that what I really want for Christmas is right here already. With me. I want for nothing more.


In which I feel a sense of guilt, and Fin rewrites the Nativity story

Yesterday, I bought myself a Christmas present. Actually, three Christmas presents in the shape of these super Letraset ProMarkers, a black outliner and a vanilla ‘skin-toned’ ProMarker. Despite having a multitude of crafty plans afoot for these bad boys (mostly involving copious amounts of jam-jars and ribbon), I am still feeling extremely guilty about spending this much money on myself in the run up to the festive season. I am trying hard to convince myself that, if I had a social life that didn’t just involve composting or wading up to my knees in dirty bog water in the name of environmental volunteering, I would no doubt be splashing the cash on some snazzy little number to wow everyone at a Christmas party or twelve. Of course, I haven’t been to any party recently that hasn’t involved soft-play, jelly and Ben 10 birthday cakes, but that’s by-the-by.

Not my own work. Not nearly slapdash enough.

Not my own work. Not nearly slapdash enough.


In other news, this afternoon is the nursery nativity.

Scarface may, or may not, have a speaking part. He is a wise man. There are eight wise persons in this particular production of the nativity, including three Wise Ladies. He might say ‘myrrh’, if he can be bothered. He might not actually make it onto the stage at all.

If he does keep his temper under control for long enough to make it from the nursery classroom to the hall without any of the keyworkers needing a Rabies shot, proud mummy apparently has a seat reserved right at the front nearest the stage stairs so that mini Richard Burton can be gently but forcibly evicted from the stage should he start fighting, unwrapping the baby Jesus’ gifts, or singing ‘Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg’ at the top of his voice whilst Gabriel announces the impending birth of the Messiah.

This morning he was practising being a wise man. Resplendent in cornflake covered dressing gown and George Pig pyjamas, he stomped imperiously around the living room whilst humming an off-key rendition of the Imperial March as I sat looking pious with a teatowel on my head impersonating Mary. He then delivered the line Luke decided to leave out of the New Testament.


As one of my Facebook chums pointed out – “Join me, and together we will rule the galaxy as father and son…”






A Grand Day Out at Summerlee Heritage Park

A grand day out at Summerlee

A grand day out at Summerlee

Last Sunday dawned cold, and clear. Such days, in a Scottish Winter, should be thoroughly embraced, so I put my crafting and garden planning to one side (such things can be done when it’s pouring down outside) and decided to surgically remove the boys from the playstation. I bundled the boys into twelve layers of clothing, Richard removed the frost from Jeff the Fiesta, and off we set on our adventure.

Destination: Summerlee Heritage Park, Coatbridge.

We have been to The National Museum of Rural Life, in Kittochside, a few times now; and Fin and I sheltered from the torrential rain at Almond Valley Heritage Centre (which we lovingly refer to as the ‘shovel museum’) on last year’s traditionally washed-out summer nursery excursion; but despite Coatbridge being only a couple of miles away, and entry to the heritage park being free (as it is run by North Lanarkshire Council), we had never ventured to Summerlee.

Ellis is now at the age where he is starting to take an interest in family history, and he is particularly interested in the Second World War. As Richard’s family are from this area of Scotland, and my family have a past immersed in industry in South Wales; Summerlee is an absolute gem as an introduction to what life was like for some of his family. It has a fantastic range of exhibits, documenting the area’s mining and iron producing past, with an impressive amount of interactive tools suitable for children of all ages. It also boasts some really interesting ‘capsules’ of everyday life and popular culture; from dance halls and theatres to a set-up of a mid twentieth century dentist’s room; and 1950s Co-Operative store shop-front. Obviously, the part that interested Ellis the most was the display of Second World War uniforms, weapons and gas-masks, alongside other ephemera about the area during wartime. Fin very much liked the steam trains, and waving at the tram (that unfortunately we didn’t go on this time – we are on a promise for the next visit).

My favourite part of the museum was the beautifully reconstructed miners’ cottages – a row of cottages each decorated to represent how miners and their families lived in the 1840s, 1880s, 1910s, 1940s, 1960s and 1980s:

Miners' cottages in the 40s, 60s and 80s

Miners’ cottages in the 40s, 60s and 80s

Walking into the 1960s house, I couldn’t help but gasp – I was back in my paternal grandparents’ bungalow again, complete with Woolworths ‘painting’, pouffe, and ducks on the wall. In fact, I’m pretty sure that my grandparents had exactly the same carpet. I wanted to move into that little cottage. Seriously. I think my love of kitsch has gone too far.

The 1980s cottage I found particularly poignant, looking at all the high-tech gadgetry (including the ever-so-fancy Betamax, the ZX Spectrum and the Electronic ‘Simon’ game) given the hardships so many miners and their families endured during the strike of 1984, only to have the rug pulled from under their feet a few years later.

We are absolutely, most definitely going to return to Summerlee when the weather is more conducive to outdoor wanderings – after all, we still have the trams and the reconstructed mine to explore. We will, however, be taking a picnic, as the price of food in the cafe is absolutely exorbitant (though drinks are fairly priced) – but what can you reasonably expect from a museum that charges nothing for you to see so much?

Sadly, of course, in today’s economic climate it is these very museums – these Council run gems – that are most at risk from closing down due to cuts to public spending. Losing Summerlee would be a travesty, and I would urge anyone who can go to visit and support it.