The Rain Came Down and The Floods Came Up: 2013 365 Challenge #77

Nice weather for ducks and dogs apparently

Nice weather for ducks and dogs apparently

My kids sing a song they must have learned from nursery. I don’t know it* and they only know one line but it’s definitely becoming the anthem of our winter here in the UK:

The rain came down and the floods came up.

They sing the one line, together with actions, over and over when we’re in the car, until I feel like I’m in a Stephen King novel.

*Turns out it’s called The Wise Man built His House Upon the Rock. And I thought it must be from a Noah and the ark song.

Don't think I fancy the river today Mummy

Don’t think I fancy the river today Mummy

We did indoor play again today, meeting up with an old friend and her family. It’s great to combine forces at these places so you can take it in turns to be the hamster in a cage. Taking the Daddies is even better because little girls love spending time with Daddies (it doesn’t have to be their own: Amber does adopt-a-daddy all the time. Sometimes with people we don’t even know which is a bit embarrassing).

It snowed heavily while we were tucked inside but it soon turned to rain and the roads were flooded as we drove to my parents’ house. If it keeps raining we’re going to be Oundle-on-sea (we’re on the edge of the Fens which, if you don’t know the UK, is a large area of reclaimed wetland. It’s very flat.)

At least the dog likes the wet weather. She is part labrador and has webbed feet so she loves being in the water. Normally she swims in the river but, when it’s swollen with flood water, she doesn’t fancy it. Instead she races up and down the flooded fields at high speed. I tried to take pictures but I only had my phone with me. But you get the idea!

Blurry Action Shot: Even Kara loves jumping in muddy puddles

Blurry Action Shot: Kara loves muddy puddles

We saw friends of ours out puddle jumping in the afternoon: the three little kids all in waterproofs and wellies. I felt guilty because we were watching our second movie of the day, wrapped up in the lounge. Our kids have had way too much screen time this winter. I don’t mind the rain but when it’s zero degrees outside that’s too chilly to get soaked! (They have colds, so that’s my excuse sorted).

Anyway, today’s installment is going to be written in the morning as I have a date with the Got To Dance final on Sky One tonight. I’ll be bereft when it’s over but I’m very much looking foward to the final live show.

P.S. We ended up watching the final with a small child asking questions all the way through. We made the mistake of letting her watch the Little Princess episode ‘I don’t want to go to bed’ at bedtime, which is all about a little girl who doesn’t want to sleep alone. Big Mistake. HUGE. We’ll have days of her not wanting to sleep alone now. Must delete it from the Sky Plus!

Never mind, the final was still great and the right person won. If you don’t watch it, check out the video of Lukas McFarlane’s first live performance. Awesome.


Claire turned and studied the ornate building of Castleton Losehill Hall as she walked away from reception. I thought it looked like a gothic mansion when I arrived. I never imagined I’d be living one of Ann Radcliffe’s more lurid tales while I stayed here.

Meandering through the corridors and courtyards of the hostel that morning, with a bandage on her head and purple bruises on her cheek, it had been easy to picture herself in the pages of a Victorian drama. She’d ignored the giggling kids as she’d perched on a bench, lost in a nineteenth century world of mad counts and ephemeral ghosts.

Maybe Sergeant Cornhill was right, maybe I do have concussion. Claire tried to remember what the woman had told her the night before about the symptoms of a head injury. Confusion, inability to make decisions, tiredness. How is that any different to how I feel on any normal Sunday morning? Her laughter sounded fake even to her. Maybe I will pop in and see a GP before I head to the next hostel. Seeing as I don’t even know where I’m going today.

Claire stopped on the path and stared at the dirty-grey clouds scudding across the sky, strung out like dingy washing. What am I doing? I need to at least know what hostel I’m going to. Her only thought, after her morning of musing and wandering, was to get away and put the events of the previous evening behind her. Now the idea of driving past the scene with no clear intention or destination made bile rise in her throat. She hitched her rucksack up on her shoulders and headed back into the hostel. Maybe I’ll just have a quick look at the website, at least find the nearest hostel. I’m meant to have a quiet day today anyway, Sergeant’s orders.

Claire walked through the glass lobby and scurried to a corner before the manager on duty asked her what she was doing back. She wasn’t sure if she was allowed in the building after check-out and her head ached too much for a confrontation.

Within the space of a few minutes she had loaded the YHA site on her iPad, thankful that she still had it to plug the aching hole left by her stolen phone. The nearest hostel was apparently Hathersage. When Claire read the description she laughed loudly before wincing at the rattling pain it caused in her head.

A bustling Derbyshire village popular with everyone from fans of outdoor activity breaks to literature and history buffs. Walk the Charlotte Brontë Literature trail, taking in North Lees Manor featured in Jane Eyre and visit the oversized grave of Robin Hood’s sidekick, Little John.

 She smiled as she reread it. Well, I’ve lived the Gothic story, why not go and wander in the home of the finest Victorian novelists? Maybe I’ll meet the ghost of Heathcliff or the mad woman in the attic. Maybe I’ll be the mad woman locked in a garret. It might be nice to hide from the world for a while. Claire thought about the phone call she needed to make; the thank you that was going to stick in her throat like dry toast.

Yes, I think it might be nice to hide.


Cheeky Monkees and Colouring Competitions: 2013 365 Challenge #55

My Entry into our unofficial Colouring Competition

My Entry into our unofficial Colouring Competition

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!

Hubbie's Entry into our Colouring Competition

Hubbie’s Entry into our Colouring Competition

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.