Easter Craft and a Sunny Park: 2013 365 Challenge #79

Balancing boy 'All by myself'

Balancing boy ‘All by myself’

Today started slow after the slough of despond yesterday. Thank you to everyone who liked the post: it helped drag me back out the self-pitying doldrums. Sometimes I just need to grow up and accept that life is hard! Thankfully hubbie took the kids long enough for me to write my post and have a shower this morning so I started the day feeling half human.

It helped that the sun put in a rare appearance. I was able to chuck the kids outside to play in the sandpit and on their bikes and scooters. Daddy did gardening, so I could make some tweaks to my Dragon Wraiths book cover knowing the kids were being watched. It hasn’t resulted in any new sales but it made me feel better.

Easter craft (they ate the chocolate nests!)

Easter craft (they ate the chocolate nests!)

I took the children to a local preschool in the afternoon to do Easter craft. I wasn’t sure whether to go or to leave the children out in the sun, as the forecast for tomorrow is rotten, but hubbie made the decision for me by having the kids dressed and shod by the front door in record-quick time. I think he was ready for a few hours’ peace!

We spent a wonderful but hectic two hours making chocolate nests, chicks, bunnies and Easter cards. My children love craft but generally end up painting everything brown including themselves so it was lovely to have them follow instructions and make specific things. Although that always leaves the problem of what to do with their creations! I have drawers stuffed fulled of pictures and paintings but nothing is named or dated!

Hurrah no muddy dog to clean

Hurrah no muddy dog to clean

Aaron and I even made it to our village park this afternoon. I’ve missed our trips to the park. It’s only a short walk away and it’s a lovely one with slide, swings, playhouse, zip wire and climbing frame. I push the kids on the swing and throw a toy for Kara. We all get exercise and I don’t have to rub down a muddy dog.

For the last six months though it’s been far too wet with most of the equipment lethal or out of order. We walk to the park only to end up sheltering in the playhouse waiting for the rain to stop. It makes parenting harder than it needs to be.

The kids had a final mad run round the garden (they were ‘tidying up’!) when they were meant to be eating their dinner. I didn’t have the heart to call them in: with the forecast for wet and snow again tomorrow, who knows how long it will be before they can run around in socks and tops again?


Claire lent against the door of the Skoda and gazed up at the dark building set against winter trees and leaden sky. I can imagine how this might make you think of Gothic horror and mad women in the attic. It’s pretty gloomy.

“Amazing building, yah?”

Claire jumped at the sound of the voice. She turned and saw a snow princess walking towards her. She blinked, wondering if her concussion was more severe than the doctor had suggested. As the woman strolled nearer she realised it was a beautiful blonde wearing cream snow gear, wrapped up against the chill. Claire looked down at her Helly Hansen jacket and wondered when it had become so shabby.

“One expects to see Mr Rochester doing a rising-trot up the lane, doesn’t one?” The woman smiled, dazzling Claire with her even white teeth. “Hullo, I’m Catherine. You can come in and have a gander if you like?”

“What? You live here?” Claire shook her head, gritting her teeth against the pain.

Catherine laughed, a cascade of chiming bells. “Wouldn’t that be super? No we’re here for the weekend for a wedding.”

Claire tried to imagine staying in the house. “I think I’d be worried about Bertha Mason setting fire to my bedroom while I slept. Is it very dark and spooky?”

Another tinkling laugh followed Claire’s statement and she felt the blood rush to her cheeks.

“Hardly. Come in for an espresso and see for yourself. You can park your car.” She looked at the Skoda, noticing it for the first time, and raised her perfectly plucked eyebrows. Claire’s cheeks flushed hotter and she turned away, letting her hair drop over her face. She listened mutely to the instructions on where to park before climbing into her seat.

I could just keep driving. I’m not that interested in seeing the Hall that inspired Rochester’s house. Does it matter if I am rude to a complete stranger? She looks like it would bounce straight off her super-ego. Claire thought about the blog, the chance to have something different to write about and sighed. Maybe I should accept. How hard can it be to be civil for half an hour?


Claire entered the building and stopped in the hallway. She felt her jaw drop and shut her mouth with a snap. “It’s tiny. I was expecting some rambling mansion. This isn’t Thornfield Hall.” She thought about the place she had imagined during A Level English. Her teenage dreams of being rescued from boarding school by a brooding stranger.

“Wait until you see the roof. Tell me then if you can’t envisage Bertha jumping off.” Catherine’s eyes blazed and she tugged Claire’s arm to lead her through the house.

Claire had an impression of dark beams and ornate ceilings before she was blasted by a gust of arctic air. Huddling into her jacket, she squinted against the wind and looked at the view.

“Wow.” The vista stretched all the way to the hazy-blue horizon, miles in the distance. In the space between hills huddled together beneath the grey winter sky, wearing trees like ruffled blankets. A low mist clung to the valley, like the smoke billowing from a crypt in a vampire movie. Claire shivered.

Catherine strode to the crenellations and peered over before turning towards Claire. “Come and see the lambs. They’re so cute, frolicking around like babies.”

Claire walked a step closer to the edge and felt her heartbeat quicken. I don’t know this woman from Adam. Why has she brought me up here? Images of the attack the day before swam into her mind. What if she’s crazy and wants to push me over the edge. She might be channelling Bertha’s ghost for all I know.

When she came no nearer, Catherine’s brows furrowed. “Are you okay?”

“I don’t like heights,” Claire responded, trying to keep the wobble from her voice. “I need to get going anyway. I have stuff to do.” She realised how rude that sounded. “Thank you so much for showing me round.”

The girl sighed. “That’s fine. It was super to have someone else to talk to. My family have gone fishing and I can’t stand it.” She pulled a face. “Slimy, wriggling things.”

Claire felt her heartbeat slow at the woebegone look on Catherine’s face. That damn mugging has me jumping at shadows. Maybe some people do just want to chat because they’re lonely. She looked at her watch. There was plenty of time to get to the hostel before reception closed.

“Did you mention something about coffee?”


Cat, Tiger and Craft Book: 2013 365 Challenge #34

Amber's photo book and the one I made so Aaron wouldn't feel left out

Amber’s photo book and the one I made for Aaron

Family day today.

Had to write post #33 this morning as I was too tired and poorly last night, which nearly made us late for a birthday party (that and husband couldn’t get out of bed!). I’ve got behind on the daily blogging and am having to write too many of the posts with the kids awake. Must use the next nursery day I get to catch up as it’s impossible to write these posts with the kids yelling at me. (Plus the guilt is all-consuming!)

Parties are always touchy things – they can be overwhelming events and this one was no different. It was at an indoor play area (the kind with ball pits, crawling tunnels and slides).It’s the sort with two levels and Amber got upset if she couldn’t see a parent easily.

Thankfully husband and son came too so we took it in turns to go crawling around after the kids. Okay so I mostly chatted with the Mummies while Daddy did the crawling but that was only fair as I took them to an indoor play centre yesterday and spent three hours like a hamster in a cage.There was also a face painter which is such a great idea. My kids love having their faces painted.

Amber's Photo Journal Glitter-fest

Amber’s Photo Journal Glitter-fest

This afternoon we did one of Amber’s birthday gifts – a “make my own book” craft kit. I wasn’t looking forward to it because I’m a perfectionist so it’s tough watching her cover everything in glitter and stickers.

I spent the time printing out photographs and putting double-sided sticky tape on the back of them while trying to ignore the glitter-fest. I do get told off for taking over and sticking things straight but there’s always a fine-line between letting the kids do everything themselves and helping them create something they’re proud of and will continue to be proud of.

Amber as a cat

Amber as a cat

This evening was all about Rattle. Rattle is Amber’s comforter – a tatty, much loved teddy that someone gave me after they won it in a tombola and saw me with my baby bump. We used to have two (I tracked down a spare on ebay in the US when I realised how important it was becoming) but Rattle2 “went on an adventure” a year or so ago. We tracked another one down in the US recently and had it shipped to my sister. Unfortunately “new Rattle” has been rejected for, well, being too new.

Aaron as a tiger

Aaron as a tiger

Four years of love has made the original Rattle grubby, lumpy and chewed.

Anyway at bedtime this evening we realised Rattle had been left at the indoor play area. They were still open so we rang in a panic and they couldn’t find him. A very sad girl sat hugging New Rattle and sobbing. Thankfully I thought to text the party girl’s mummy and she had picked it up. Better still her wonderful husband drove the dozen miles over to our house to drop him off. Hurrah, child can sleep.

Right, time to think up a new adventure for Claire. I wonder what will happen today. I honestly have no idea until the point at which I open the Word document and start typing.


“Bagsy I get the bottom bunk; I rather fancy you on top.” Josh’s laughter rang round the small room as Claire glared at him and wrapped her arms around her midriff.

“It’s bad enough that you talked me into sharing a room with you. I can do without the suggestive comments. Don’t push me or I’ll go to reception and move to a dorm. Then you can pay for this whole room by yourself.”

“Surely you’d rather share with just me than a room full of chicks you’ve never met? They might snore.”

“You might snore for all I know. Besides I’ve learned my lesson on that one, I have ear plugs. And don’t think about trying anything either. I’m not interested in a travelling romance. If I hear you climbing that ladder in the night I’ll stick a pin in you.”

“Don’t get your pants twisted Claire I’m a perfect gent. I don’t pursue where I’m not welcome.” He said the words with a glint and Claire was conscious of a warm flush rising up her neck. Ignoring the betrayal of her body Claire dug through her rucksack to retrieve her night-dress and wash bag.

“Nice nighty.”

Claire couldn’t help but laugh. “You’re outrageous. Right, what now?”

“Now we explore.”

It didn’t take long to discover that the hostel had no hidden delights, apart from a little corridor conservatory along from the lounge which was probably lovely in the summer. The whole place felt in need of a refresh, particularly after some of the places Claire had stayed in already. It was like visiting her Gran’s house, before she died. At least it doesn’t smell of boiled cabbage.

“What do people do when they’re hostelling?” Claire sat on the edge of her chair and looked with puzzlement at Josh’s sprawled form.

“Whatever they want. Read, listen to music, chat, meet new people. If you’re lucky someone will start jamming.”


“You know, playing the guitar, singing.”

“Oh god, really? How awful.”

It was Josh’s turn to look perplexed. “What did you do to relax when you were at home Claire?”

Claire gave the question some thought. “I didn’t. I was either at work or out.”

“Where did you go out then? You must have had some fun.”

“Oh yes.” She thought about nights drinking with her friends. And then she remembered Susannah’s comments at her leaving party and wondered if they were really friends or just colleagues who bitched about her behind her back. Images of Sunday morning brunches with Michael, and walking in the park to let the wind blow away their hangovers, besieged her brain. They were unwelcome memories and she shoved them away.

“That’s different, though,” Claire continued. “That’s at home with friends and access to a decent wardrobe. What do you do with a sack full of unwashed clothes and no one to party with?”

“You don’t need clothes to party.”

Claire sniggered, drawing a ready grin from Josh. “I didn’t mean it like that but, yes, that’s one way to party. What I meant was you don’t need to dress up to have fun.”

Claire raised an eyebrow at Josh’s stained clothes, muddy trainers and unkempt hair. He wouldn’t even be allowed in to Tiger Tiger.

If Josh was aware of Claire’s critical scrutiny he didn’t show it. Instead he swung his legs down from the arm of the chair and sat forward, making eye contact. “I asked at reception when we checked in, apparently there’s a pub next door that does a bonzer steak pie. Come with me, we’ll have some nosh and I’ll show you how to be social when you’re on the road.”

Claire looked down at her travel-creased clothing and pulled at her greasy hair. “I could really use a shower and a change of clothes.”

“No, you come as you are. Most of the people in there will have been hiking Hadrian’s Wall all day. There won’t be any glamour, you’ll fit right in.”

Unsure how to take his last comment, Claire grabbed her purse and followed Josh out the door.

If nothing else it will be content for the blog. We’re only going to eat a meal and chat with some people, I used to do that all the time at work. How different can it be?