Pumpkin Carving: 2013 365 Challenge #301

Getting stuck into the pumpkin

Getting stuck into the pumpkin

Today was hubbie’s ‘day off” so, after taking an hour in the morning to write my post, I took the children to the Farm for some Hallowe’en half term fun.

Our local farm always has some great activities on during the school holidays. This time they had a room full of craft (great, considering a huge storm is about to hit the UK, so indoor activities are essential) as well as the spooky house tour and pumpkin carving.

We skipped the spooky house tour – I think I’d like an extra parent with me before attempting that with under fives – but the craft room was empty when we got there, so we had great fun making paper spiders and cobwebs, Hallowe’en masks and origami cats. We played spot the difference and did spooky word searches and Mummy had lots of fun doing colouring in! 🙂

After that we ventured outside into the sunshine and wind, to see the animals. The larger beasts all look a bit sorry for themselves, covered in mud and sheltering from the incoming winter. We were lucky though – apart from a wind strong enough to blow us away, the weather was lovely. It was so nice to be able to get outside for the first time in weeks.

Which face is more scary?

Which face is more scary?

The kids made sand castles, fed goats and ducks, and stroked the horses. We went to see the baby quail chicks – oh my goodness but they’re tiny (I didn’t have a camera, unfortunately): they’re a week old and still only about half the size of a kiwi fruit (you have no idea how long it took to come up with a size comparison that made sense either side of the Atlantic!)

Then came the pumpkin carving. This is the first year either of the children has been able to actually do any of the carving, although I noticed the delightful job of scooping out sticky seeds still came to Mummy. My son wanted to recreate his own face on his pumpkin, while daughter went for a cat. I have to say, they did a pretty good job! (Shame about the photos, but you get the idea).

After a lunch of chips and ice cream (The clocks went back last night, so they’d already had a decent brunch, thankfully!) we had one more trip round the animals before heading off to the supermarket. An hour of shopping and all three of us were exhausted. Unfortunately, I still had bath time to tackle when I got home. Poor daughter is ripping up her neck itching after her unwelcome visitors, so we took some Twitter advice and washed their hair in tea tree shampoo, (to much chorusing of “it stinks!” Hopefully the crawlers think so too).

An hour of Daddy tiring time and then to bed. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line I appear to have picked up a cold, so tonight’s post is a bit lacking in glamour. As it’s half term tomorrow and I get no childcare for a week, all the posts might be a little under par. I’ll do my best! 🙂 I’m off for a dinner of pumpkin soup now (shop bought, I confess) as I don’t have the energy to cook anything else and hubbie doesn’t really do cooking!


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:


Claire had no idea what time it was as she swung the car into the hotel car park. Her twenty-year old banger didn’t have a dashboard clock and the black rectangle of her phone had as much life as a house brick.

I really ought to invest in a watch.

Smoothing down her trousers, Claire locked the car and headed into the hotel. As she walked, she let her heavy hair fall over her face. It wasn’t going to pass close scrutiny, but she could live without the curious stares of strangers as they tried to work out if she was injured or deformed.

The hotel lobby echoed with the clipping sound of her heels as she paced to the reception desk. When she spoke to the woman behind the counter she was surprised to hear a wobble in her voice.

“Hi, I’m meeting someone for dinner. I doubt he will have made reservations, is there somewhere I can wait?”

“Are you Miss Carleton?”

Claire’s face grew hotter, and she gave a minute nod.

“I’m so glad. Mr O’Keefe said he tried to call you, to inform you that he was running late, but was unable to contact you. Please wait in the lounge, and he’ll come and find you when he arrives.”

Damn, damn, damn.

Claire nodded her acquiescence at the receptionist and followed her directions to the lounge.

I can’t believe he tried to ring me when my phone was flat. Now he really is going to think I’m incompetent.

Claire ordered a latte and chose a seat in the dark shadows at the corner of the room. She wished she’d brought a book, and vowed to replace her much-missed tablet with her first pay cheque, assuming one actually arrived and Conor didn’t sack her for ineptitude in her first week.

For want of something to do, she pulled out the notes she’d made at the library, and tried to cram the information into her beleaguered brain. The facts and figures refused to stick. Her mind buzzed with concern at her boss’s imminent arrival and her body yelled in pain every time she shifted in her seat.

She had taken to counting the bottles behind the bar by the time she heard a familiar voice calling her name.

“I’m over here,” she replied, raising a hand, and making sure her hair still hung low over her face.

“Claire, hi, I’m so sorry I’m late. Last minute hiccup. I tried to call you.” Conor strode over to where she sat, wheeling a small case behind him and carrying a suit bag over his shoulder.

“Sorry, my battery died while I was out walking today and I didn’t get a chance to charge it. You know smart phones; they only stay charged for about ten minutes.” She kept her voice light and hoped that honesty was the best policy.

“Beautiful day for a hike. Where did you go? No, wait, let me just run these things up to my room. Why don’t you go through to the restaurant and I’ll meet you there?” He waited only for her to signal her agreement, and then he was gone.

Claire felt strangely flat, as she watched him weave his way through the tables and back out towards the lifts. As he disappeared out of sight, she had to remind herself this wasn’t a date, it was business.