Scatty and Battered: 2013 365 Challenge #108

Wind-battered Bamboo

Wind-battered Bamboo

It’s looking like my darlings won’t be going to nursery tomorrow, as littlest Martin still has a temperature of 102F and eldest Martin looks like an extra in a zombie movie. Unless they magically recover over night I’ll have to keep them both home: meaning another four days without a break.

We’ve lost about £1000 to this flu virus, between lost wages and missed nursery sessions. Never mind a week of shoddy blog posts and a house full of grotty, snotty temper.

The weather has warmed to a balmy 19C (66F) but a relentless wind blows until we feel as battered as the shredded bamboo in the garden if we venture out.

I realise that many parents never get a break. And some parents have grandparents down the road who can help. Everybody has it different. My parents get back from holiday late tomorrow (I have to remember to collect the dog and buy milk and bread at some point) but I’ll be as welcome as the Flu virus if I turn up before the kids are healthy! Can’t blame them. Who’d want to come back from a fortnight of sun to get sick?

In the mean time we battle on through the tears and the grumps and the boredom and try not to inflict our germs on the world. I took them to the garden centre today, knowing it would be deserted and we could be fairly confident that we wouldn’t be coughing within a metre of anyone (the guidelines, apparently). I’d like to be more than a metre from the coughing too, I have to admit. A week of little sleep and a sore head means my nerves are a bit frazzled. I feel like Mrs Bennet.

Mrs. Bennet deigned not to make any reply, but, unable to contain herself, began scolding one of her daughters

“Don’t keep coughing so Kitty, for Heaven’s sake! Have a little compassion on my nerves. You tear them to pieces.”

“Kitty has no discretion in her coughs,” said her father; “she times them ill.”

“I do not cough for my own amusement,” replied Kitty fretfully.

I'll Huff and I'll Puff and I'll Blow the Roof Off

I’ll Huff and I’ll Puff and I’ll Blow the House Down

Poor Amber apologised for coughing earlier when I let slip some grump about the syncopated rhythm of the two of them. Bless her heart.

I grew up in a house where noise was forbidden (boiled sweets and crisps were sucked, music was rarely played, chattering frowned upon) and I try really hard not to recreate that environment, even though such an upbringing has made me just as sensitive to noise as my father.

At least I have Jane Austen’s words to keep me in check. Which they do. A lot. Who wants to realise they’re turning into Mrs Bennet? (The longer I’m a parent the more I have sympathy with the woman and I’m sure that could never have been Jane Austen’s intention!)

Ooh look, another rambling blog post managed. I’m slightly amazing myself at my ability to keep up with postaday despite the headache and the tiredness. A bit like churning out essays on virtually no sleep. Unlike my essays though, I don’t think my posts are going to get inexplicably high marks as a result of sleep-deprived genius (it happened rarely, but it did happen! One tutor threatened to reduce my A grade when I confessed the essay was written at 2am in two hours. I thought that should have made the grade higher!) The rambling diary bit I can do, but what on earth am I going to do with Claire? Hmmmm.


Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog:


The sound of knocking dragged Claire from deep slumber.

“Just a minute.”

She rubbed sleep from her eyes and swung her feet out of bed, glad sharing with Sky had ensured she’d worn her pyjamas. As she reached the door, Claire wondered who came knocking in a hostel where she knew no one. Maybe the baby’s mother wants the thermometer back. I guess people with babies get up early.

Unlocking the door, Claire peered round and met the cheery gaze of Peter, the hostel manager.

“Good morning, I’m sorry, did I wake you?” He frowned, but it didn’t diminish his smile for long: a mere cloud scudding past the sun.

“Er, I guess. What time is it?” Claire brushed her hair back from her face, dreading to think what she must look like.

“It’s just gone ten o’clock. Sorry to disturb you. The lady next door is leaving today and wondered if she could have the thermometer back? There’s a Pharmacy in town where you ought to be able to purchase one, should you wish.”

Claire nodded and turned to retrieve the device. She handed it into Peter’s waiting grasp, unable to find any words.

“How is little one this morning?” He peered instinctively past Claire into the room, then seemed to realise how intrusive that was and averted his gaze.

Swallowing in an attempt to moisten her parched throat, Claire gave a shrug. “It was a long night.”

Peter nodded and Claire wondered if he had children. Maybe this night-time experience was some parenting rite of passage that all had to endure. Her head pounded as if she was the wrong side of a heavy night. How do parents do it? At least I get to give her back after a fortnight.

“If you need something to entertain little one today, they have Easter activities at Holkham Hall. Face painting, Easter egg hunt, that kind of thing.”

A tiny voice called out from the ragged pile of covers on the bed. “Will the Easter Bunny be there with my eggs?”

Claire laughed. “You seem brighter, Sky. Would you like to see the Easter Bunny?” Please let there be a bloody bunny.


“Say Cheese, Sky: let me take a photo for your Mummy.”

Sky leant against the brown rabbit in the Victorian gown and shone a wide smile. Her eyes glittered with latent fever and Claire hoped whoever was under the bunny costume didn’t catch her niece’s germs. Surely there are enough cold viruses wandering round at an event like this?

Claire looked around at the painted faces of happy children; the egg-shy game; the clusters of families eating ice cream, and felt a strange sense of belonging. Normally she’d run a hundred miles from such an event. Especially on April Fool’s Day. I guess I’m the fool today, shaking hands with a giant bunny and wandering around with a sick girl whose face is covered with painted tulips.

As Sky skipped over and hugged Claire’s legs, before showing off the chocolate egg in her hand, Claire felt a smile stretch her tired face. She yawned, then laughed as Sky yawned too.

“Let’s go find the coffee shop. Auntie Claire needs some caffeine.”


6 thoughts on “Scatty and Battered: 2013 365 Challenge #108

    • They went to nursery! Hurrah! I’m waiting for ‘the call’ telling me to collect them cos they’re poorly, but I’ve already managed to do the weekly food shop and collect my Mum’s dog from the otherside of town and take her home (tasks I REALLY didn’t want to do with kids in tow) so now I’m calm and able to be ill in peace! (You watch, the phone will ring now!) I have to wait in for the Water Meter guy who is coming sometime between now and five, but apart from that I have nothing to do but be ill and write my post. Thanks for your support! Sorry about all the moaning…

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