Busy day. Started at 4am and never really recovered. Took my daughter to Cheeky Monkees, an indoor play centre, for a birthday party and spent an hour being a hamster in a cage with a bunch of four-year-olds. After the fifteenth time down the bumpy slide I was ready to crawl in the ball pit and go to sleep. The problem with birthday parties that start at 10am is that you’re pooped by the time you get home and it’s still only lunchtime!
We watched Bedknobs and Broomsticks with the kids during our quiet time, but we think they’re a bit young still. Amber recognised the Professor as the Dad from Mary Poppins but that was about it. The Cartoon bit was much shorter than we remember! I wonder if sometimes these old things from our childhood are better off left there, although they do love Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and of course Mary Poppins. My daughter can confidently say Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (can’t believe I spelt it right on my first attempt!). Not sure if that’s a recognisable developmental stage but it sounds impressive!
By 2pm we were climbing the walls so took the kids to our local Garden Centre, Dobbies, to see the fish (they have an aquarium) and have cake.
While we were having cake the four of us indulged in some colouring with the sheets and crayons they provide. My husband and I rather enjoy colouring and can get a bit competitive although we try not to show the children! My challenge was to make new colours with the four basic colours provided while my husband went for texture. It keeps us amused at any rate!
Had a repeat performance of the Peppa Pig Rocket Incident when it was time to go, with little man sobbing uncontrollably at having to leave. He needs to run and it’s been snowing all day so we hadn’t been outside. In the end I calmed him with a promise of scootering and walking the dog. We duly bundled up and braved the light snow and he promptly face-planted on the pavement and had to be carried most of the way round, complaining that the wind made his face freeze and his nose run. It is just so bitter; my daughter spends half the day saying “I miss summer.”
Don’t we all.
I try very hard not to wish time away. I know the present is precious and summer will come when it’s ready but we had such an awful summer here last year it feels like winter has lasted ten months already! It pretty much rained from the day the water company instigated a hose pipe ban last Easter! Let’s hope they don’t do the same again this year.
“I have to get going.” Claire pushed up from the sofa then stumbled and caught herself on the arm.
“When did you last eat?” Josh looked up and it seemed like he was staring from the bottom of a well. Claire was glad she didn’t know the memories consuming him. His face was a thin mask over a deep pit of pain.
“I had the hot chocolate when we finished our kayak. I’m not sure after that.”
Josh checked his watch. “It’s 6pm. You need to eat lady.”
Claire frowned. “No, I need to leave. I’m not meant to be here, I’m booked into Grasmere tonight.” She looked around the lounge as if trying to locate her rucksack before remembering it was loaded in the Skoda already.
“You’re leaving? Must you move every night? It’s not great, you know. You’ll never meet people, get the hostelling vibe, if you check out at 10am every day.”
“I met you didn’t I? Besides, I’m not here to meet people, I’m here to work. I have to get round 200 hostels and then I’m free. It’s meant to take a whole year but I didn’t sign anything. I just want to go home.” Her voice trailed off and she was conscious of a whiney tone in it last heard coming from Sky’s mouth. She inhaled deeply and forced a smile. “Besides, it looks like I’ll be taking a week or two out to look after my niece.”
“Surely she can stay in the hostels with you? Kids love that sort of thing and from what I can tell most of the YHA ones are kid-friendly. More’s the pity.”
Claire got the impression the last words were added because they were expected rather than from heartfelt belief. She shook off the thought and responded to Josh’s words.
“Look after a child in one of these places? It’d be a nightmare. She’d probably fall out her bunk-bed and end up in A&E. Besides, there are hardly any hostels near my sister’s house.”
“You have a car don’t you? Sheesh girl it’s all problems and no solutions with you.”
Claire bristled at his tone, chewed over some choice phrases to respond with, then decided she didn’t have the energy for a fight. She tilted her head slightly and looked him in the eye before turning to head for the door.
“Wait. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. My head’s all over the place.” Josh hurried to keep up and walked to the door with Claire.
“So, where to after Grasmere?”
“Why, are you worried that you’ll bump into me again or do you think you’ll get tired of the gruesome twosome?” Claire glanced over to where Beth and Chloe were playing charades and giggling.
“They’re just having fun, Claire, lighten up.” Then he seemed to remember their earlier conversation. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be a jerk.” He ran his fingers through his hair, cursing as they caught on a knot. “I, er, look, let me give you my email address. If you have any questions, you know, about your sister, you can drop me a line.” He patted his pockets for a pen.
Claire pulled out her phone and loaded a new contact. “Fire away.”
Josh recited his address, his hands buried deep in his pockets. He reminded Claire of a guilty school boy giving his contact details to a copper.
She finished typing and stood waiting to see if Josh had anything else to say. He merely stood, hands still concealed, shoulders hunched. He looked up at her through his tangle of hair, his expression inscrutable.
“Well, bye then. Maybe see you again.”
Josh nodded and gave a half-smile. “You take care, city girl.”
Claire nodded once and walked away without looking back.
- Video of the Week: Dick Van Dyke and The Vantastix Sing “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (boneaubryanbrown.com)