Snot Funny: 2013 365 Challenge #105

Bouncing at  the Park

Bouncing at the Park

Apologies: rant ahead.

Goodness me when the Martin boys do ill, they really go to town. Daddy has barely left bed all day and littlest Martin has been fighting a temperature of 39C (102.2F). He at least has mostly maintained his sense of humour, unlike the rest of us. Shame he seems to also have developed the art of projectile sneezing.

“I’ve got snot,” has become today’s catchphrase.

I just hope they’re well enough for nursery tomorrow. Daddy’s already decided he’s off sick – a great start to Week Two of working with no sick leave – and I’m desperately in need of a break so I can be ill.

I made the mistake of going back to bed during the Grand Prix this morning, figuring Daddy had it covered, only to be woken by a piercing scream an hour later because Daddy wouldn’t get the kids some chocolate milk. Aaron had a dirty nappy and I went down to find Daddy asleep and the kids trying to escape into the garden. Thank God the back door was locked because if the gale force wind that’s swirling round today had caught the door one of them might have lost a finger. Sometimes it’s easier to be the parent in charge than listen from the sidelines.

Pushing Dinosaur in the Swing

Pushing Dinosaur in the Swing

Don’t think I’m having a moan about hubbie. Well, not much. He is properly sick and a fetching shade of pale green. Catching a virus after working his first long full week in months was too much for his immune system. It just wasn’t helped by him going to bed at 2am Friday night because he watched a movie (that’s what Sky+ is for). I try for sympathy but I’m a rotten sick person myself and am even worse at caring for ill people. Mother Teresa I am not.

The only way I survive is to keep busy. I dragged the children to the park and the supermarket (mostly because we needed dog food and there was no way I could leave them home with Daddy). Poor kids have spent all day trying for cuddles and I’ve been saying “in a minute” quite a lot. Partly because Aaron’s furnace-hot skin contributes to my own fever and partly because being ill makes me grumpy so the kindest thing I can do is stay out of the way. I’m not a very cuddly person at the best of times. In the end we survived with lots of Calpol (kiddy pain relief) lots of TV and lots of bottles of milk.

Now how can I work all that into a Claire post? Hmmm maybe it’s time she has to deal with the joys of a sick child.


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:


“Sky? Wake up, poppet. We’re here.”

Claire looked over to the passenger seat, surprised to see her niece still slumped asleep against her seatbelt. Reaching over, she gently shook the little girl by the shoulder and was shocked to feel hot skin beneath her hand. Claire released her seat belt and leaned over to look at Sky’s face. The perfect pixie features were pale, with two spots of colour in the cheeks like Aunt Sally. Not that she would know who Aunt Sally was, of course. With a shaking hand, Claire felt Sky’s forehead, although she knew the girl was ill by the heat radiating from her as if she were a mug of hot coffee.

Damn: A sick child is all I need. What do I know about caring for sick children? She looked across the hostel car park at the residential brick building of Sheringham YHA. After all the beautiful places I’ve stayed in for one night wishing it could have been longer, I couldn’t have picked an uglier hostel to spend a few days in with a poorly child. Where’s the rolling green lawn, the gothic manor, the roaring open fire? I should have taken her back to the Peak District with me – I knew Norfolk was a bad idea. No wonder they don’t have a picture of the hostel on the YHA site.

For the first time since she arrived at Berwick Upon Tweed a month earlier, Claire didn’t want to even enter the hostel in front of her, never mind spend two or three days there. What the hell am I going to do? I can’t take a sick child in there, it looks horrible. But I’m not going to find anywhere else on Easter Sunday.

She pulled out her iPad, then remembered Sky had flattened the battery playing games in the car. Getting her phone instead, Claire checked which hostel they were booked into after this one. Wells-next-the-sea. I wonder if they’ve had any cancellations and can fit us in early? Can’t hurt to ask.

Claire sat with the phone in one hand, the other resting against Sky’s arm, whether to provide comfort or monitor temperature she wasn’t sure. The phone connected after the third ring.

“Wells YHA, Peter speaking.”

“Ah, hello. My name’s Claire, I’m booked in with my niece in a few days–”

“Claire, hello. You’re on my list to call.”

“Oh God, there isn’t a problem with the room is there?” Panic fluttered in Claire’s stomach. Staying in the horrible building in front of her for two or three nights would be bad enough, without having Wells cancelled as well.

“Not at all, I always call beforehand, to ensure our guests know what to expect.”

“Oh.” Claire wasn’t sure how to respond. She hadn’t heard of a YHA manager doing that before. “Well, I was actually calling to see if you had any space for us earlier than next week? Like from tonight?”

She heard the man on the phone suck air in through his teeth. I knew it. It’s Easter Sunday, of course they’ll be full. I seem to remember it’s a tiny hostel anyway. There was silence on the line and Claire hoped it was because he was checking on the computer rather than doubled over, laughing at her naïvety.

“Hello? Claire? I think you may be in luck. We had a couple leave early and I think they were due to stay tonight and tomorrow. I’m not sure about the following day – I believe you were due to join us on Wednesday night?”

Claire nodded then realised how stupid that was. “Uh-huh,” she acknowledged. “I guess we can always come back to Sheringham for that night if you can’t fit us in.”

“It’s a private room we have available – en-suite –” Claire exhaled in relief. “–but it is £49 a night. I hope that’s okay?”

I could get a hotel room with breakfast for that! But I guess beggars can’t be choosers and at least I tick one more place off the list. More importantly I don’t have to stay here. She looked at the uninspiring building outside the window, shivering at some inexplicable vibe.

“We’ll take it. My niece is poorly and I need somewhere nice for us to stay.”

“Oh dear, how old is she?”

“She’s only six.”

“Poor mite. Bring her to us; we’ll help you take care of her. Do you have Calpol?”

Claire had no idea what that was, but wasn’t about to admit it.

“Er, no. I don’t.”

“Not to worry, I’m sure we’ve got some or someone staying here will have some – help little one sleep. We’ve also got a stack of Disney DVDs she can watch in the lounge if she’s up to it. Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you.”

As she hung up the phone Claire felt for the first time in her life that a guardian angel might be looking out for her. Glancing over at the flushed cheeks of her still-sleeping niece, she thought privately that she might just need one.


Microwaves and Muddy Boots: 2013 365 Challenge #103

Muddy Boots

Muddy Boots

The children dragged me to the zoo today. I was like a small child when they chose it as their place to go, whining and looking for flaws in the plan:

Mummy: “Aw do we have to go? It’s raining.”

Kids: “We’ll wear our waterproofs.”

Mummy: “It’s cold.”

Kids: “Wear a jacket.”

Mummy: “We could go to the Farm.”

Kids: “We always go to the Farm.”

Mummy (in her head) Yes because it’s five miles away and serves great coffee. The Zoo is twenty miles away and serves UHT milk with its tea.

Watching the Servals

Watching the Servals

So in my new zen of organised calm I packed a picnic, sorted waterproofs, spare clothes, twenty pences for the sheep food, tissues for runny noses and a flask of hot tea. I’m so glad we went. It had mostly stopped raining by the time we arrived but the place was quiet considering it’s still the holidays – I guess because many were deterred by the weather.

It was cold.

Little man kept saying “I’ve got the shudders” (meaning he was shivering). In fact he was full of the horrors of being two today. After lunch, he zipped up his lunch box saying, “I had enough snack,” and then sobbed when I stood up, relieved I could finally go for a wee. “But my hungry,” he bawled as I dragged him to the portacabin containing the Ladies.

We had words.

"I sad cause my boots are muddy"

“I sad cause my boots are muddy”

In the end I gave in and got a fruit pouch out for him.

Then he kept sitting down on the floor in his dejected pose saying things like “I sad that you won’t help me jump,” or “I sad ’cause my boots are muddy.”

Even though it’s annoying, he’s so cute and so aware of his emotions I want to gobble him up in a muddy cuddle.

Little lady was quiet. When I got home she had a temperature so that explained her tears every time Aaron wouldn’t give her a cuddle. I worry about her feelings of rejection when her brother ignores her: it doesn’t bode well for the teenage years.

The only dark cloud on the day was reading an article about how harmful the microwave can be and how it kills the nutrients in food. As I heat the kids’ milk and steam their veg in the microwave it’s left me feeling a bit like a child killer. I really should stop reading such things! Relief came from a lovely friend of mine who regularly debunks the web-rumour posts that I suck in hook and line. Apparently the microwave one is no different, as to the specifics of the article I read (I don’t know about microwaves generally, just the ‘experiment’ in the article). It’s probably still a useful reminder to use the hob more than the microwave where possible.


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:


“Did you enjoy your cake? We need to head off now. We’re staying in Sheringham tonight and it’s a bit of a drive. We’ll stop off at Norwich to break the journey.”

Sky pulled a face. “Why do we have to move again? I hate being in the car all the time. You don’t even have a CD player. It’s boring.”

Claire curled her hands into fists beneath the table. “Sorry, Sky. I don’t know if your Mummy told you, but I’m working on an assignment at the moment. Even though it’s lovely looking after you, I still need to work. But don’t worry: as it’s the Easter Holidays I had to juggle accommodation a bit, and we’re staying at the next hostel for a few days.”

The little face hidden beneath wisps of blonde hair grew darker and a tiny rose-bud lip jutted out. Claire no longer found it cute. Searching her brain for memories of what Sheringham had to offer, she came up trumps. “It’s near the sea. If the weather is nice we’ll be able to go to the beach.”

The transformation was instant. Sky’s head rose and her eyes sparkled. “I’ve never been to the seaside. Will there be sand? Like at the big sandpit in the park? Can we make sandcastles?”

Claire had no idea if the beaches at Sheringham were sandy, or the pebbly sort she associated with the British coast. She was pretty sure it would be more impressive than any park sandpit, even if it was covered in seaweed and rocks. Either way, now was not the time for honesty. The café was crowded and so far they had managed to have their coffee and cake without any screaming or tantrums.

“Yes, Sky, I’m sure it’s a sandy beach. I will buy you a bucket and spade as soon as we get there. Now, what do you fancy doing in Norwich? We’ll get a late lunch, as I’m sure you’re all full of cake. Shall we have a look at the iPad and see if there’s anything interesting to do?” Clearly keeping you busy is the best way of ensuring a harmonious holiday.

Claire tapped some words into the iPad and looked at the results. “Castles. Gardens. Museums. Hmmm.” She tabbed over to the map and back to the search engine. Even with her head bent over the table she could sense Sky’s growing impatience. I really should have been more organised. I hadn’t realised Sky would need entertainment as well as accommodation. I’m sure when we were kids our parents chucked us out in the garden and left us to it. When we were home, that is. Maybe siblings are useful for something.

She glanced up at Sky and felt a wave of pity for the girl, who would probably never know the pleasure and pain of brothers and sisters. At least I can make sure these two weeks are fun. Besides, it’s all great stuff for the blog. Chucking yourself off the balcony at an English Heritage Castle is probably not what Coca Cola would want as High Adrenalin activity, but mentioning all these places should help my Google rankings.

Dropping her eyes to the screen again, Claire breathed a sigh of relief. “Right, Sky, change of plan. We’ll go via Great Yarmouth and you can see the sea before bedtime. There’s lots to do in Great Yarmouth. What’s it to be? Sea Life or Merrivale Model Village?”

Sky leaned over and stared at the iPad screen, absorbed in choosing their afternoon activity. Claire tried not to look at the entry prices, knowing Carl wouldn’t consider either one sufficiently exciting to claim on expenses. What do parents do when they have more than one child? I could go to Ragdale Spa for the cost of taking a family of five on a day trip. No wonder Ruth is always complaining about being skint. You’d have to be mad to have kids I reckon.