Monday 16 July 2012

wet wet wet

It's been raining here for weeks, I'm not exaggerating. I do the school run in the rain. I grocery shop in the rain. I do the after school activities run in the rain. We stood in the rain for 3 hours to see the Olympic torch. I walked in a parade in the rain for 2 hours with the kids. We sat in a friend's backyard under a gazebo in the rain for his birthday party.

Sodding, stupid, relentless, miserable, soul-destroying rain.

The kids finish school this week, and the thought of being cooped up with them for 6 weeks is more than a little bit terrifying. When it rains and they can't go outdoors, they go mental. They've been mental pretty much every day since the middle of May. My wine consumption has increased accordingly.

Every week, the forecast looks like this:

 It's going to be a long summer.

Sometimes there's a brief break in the rain, like that hour we got on Saturday at 4pm, but mostly it's permanently soggy outside. Actually, we did get another sunny break last week that lasted for an entire afternoon, and it was glorious. We sat outside, basking in the sun, relishing the warm air on our faces. We ate our supper on the deck and sat out there until the kids went to bed. It was a happy, happy day. Then it started raining again.

Anglia Water had us on a hosepipe ban, which meant that we weren't allowed to use hoses in any capacity (e.g. to fill paddling pools, water plants, or wash cars.) Why? Because apparently we were in drought. They claimed that it would take weeks and weeks of torrential rain to even begin to fill our reservoirs back up again, and hahahahaha that was never going to happen! WHAT WERE THEY SMOKING? Needless to say, we're no longer under a hosepipe ban. Idiots.

People back home have been complaining about the heat and lack of rain and to be honest, I can sympathise with that. When it's too hot, you can't really go outdoors (or at least, not for long) and I never had air conditioning in any apartment I lived in once I left home. I remember hopping in a friend's car at 11pm and doing a tour of every store that was open 24 hours a day, wandering around these air conditioned havens in a state of bliss. It was something like 40C even at midnight.

So many events have been cancelled this "summer". We're off to Cornwall again in August for a week, and I'm losing hope of getting any beach time. Last year, it rained for the last 2 or 3 days, and that was miserable enough. A week in the rain would be hideous. There are only so many times you can see a movie and go to the soft play centre.

I just want to see the sun. Doesn't have to be hot outside, just sunny. And not even for the whole day - maybe just for an afternoon and evening. Please. For the sake of my liver.

Wednesday 11 July 2012

then and now

I met up with one old friend (Alison) and one old online friend (Vero) last night for a very delicious curry at Pipasha in Cambridge. That's it, I'm going to stop putting links in this post now. Thank you for staying with me.

I haven't seen Alison in a very long time - probably since our friends Jack and Heather moved back to New Zealand in 2005 - but we've been chatting via Twitter. Vero is a longtime blog reader/fellow blogger who's "known" me since Paul and I started dating. We had a great time over great food and it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. We talked about work (past and present), mutual friends, knitting, pets, houses, trips, and very little about kids, mostly because I'm the only one who has small humans in the house. I was reminded of people and places I hadn't thought of in years, in my life before motherhood. I'd completely forgotten about the stuffed squirrel in my cottage in Willingham.

What struck me is how much of myself is now defined by being a mum. I don't think anyone else is defining me as such; it's just down to how I see my life now. There are things that I wouldn't consider doing now and interests that have gone far, far on the back burner.

Vero talked about going to the south of France on a knitting workshop and my first thought was tinged with jealousy over my loss of freedom. As I think about it now, why the hell couldn't I go to the south of France on a knitting workshop for a few days? Okay, apart from the fact that I have no money. Let's pretend that I've managed to secure several lucrative contracts and squirrelled away a big lump of cash in my current account. Money issues aside, there is no reason why I couldn't get away to focus on something I'm interested in.

I've never been one to feel huge amounts of mummy guilt about being away. I have absolutely no qualms about getting a babysitter and enjoying a rare night out with Paul, and I'm pretty sure my sanity would do a runner if I didn't have these nights. My brain is about 80% occupied with things related to the kids, though. (The other 20% involves cooking, tidying, laundry, and wine.) I very rarely think of myself and it often simply doesn't occur to me to do something on my own.

So now I'm thinking about it. I have no idea what I'd like to do, but the point is that I should keep my mind open to the concept. Maybe I'll start with Fibre East on Sunday and ogle lovely yarns. Maybe I'll buy something and actually take the time to knit something again. Gosh, the possibilities.

Tuesday 10 July 2012

there's a torch in my house!

So, we've got an Olympic torch in our house right now. No, seriously. We know one of the torch bearers through work, and she's a very lovely, personable, 16-year-old water skiing champion called Charlotte Wharton. She came in to give a talk to our school this morning and had to go straight off to train at the lake, and asked if she could leave the torch with us and return it to her mum tomorrow at work. Well okay, if you insist.

Call me cheesy, but it's been a huge thrill to have it here and to have held it in my hot little hands. We waited in the pouring rain on Sunday to catch a glimpse of the torch as it passed through our neighbouring town, but the closest I got to it was about 10 feet with a wall of people in front of me.

I've held it. I've photographed it. I can confirm that it does feel a little bit like a Microplane grater. It's quite heavy and I can't imagine holding it aloft for 400 meters while jogging along with it. It's nearly as tall as my 3-year-old. It's shiny. It smells like lighter fluid.

The kids are beyond excited about having it here and being able to hold it. I love that we've been able to have this bit of Olympic history right here with us, and that our older two will be able to remember it. Just have to put it in a safe place, or else it'll get filled with Playdoh and Babybels.

We're having an Olympic torch for a sleepover tonight

Monday 9 July 2012

that time i pretended that i was a real writer

I went to My First Press Conference (by Fisher Price) on Saturday evening. I was working on an article about the Olympic torch visit to the Huntingdon gymnastics club, and was invited to the press conference by one of the coaches I interviewed. I knew the conference would be presented by the gym, but had no idea the athletes would actually be there along with their coach, and that it would be solely about the Olympics. I assumed it would be PR people and possibly the coach I spoke to, and that they would give us a brief presentation about the torch stop at the gym the following day.

This might seem really, really idiotic, but I didn't think I'd actually have to ask any questions. I thought I could sit quietly at the back, take some notes while they spoke to us, and surreptitiously snap photos on my sad little camera without the pros with huge Nikons noticing. As it happened, I was one of four journalists in the room, along with two photographers and a guy filming. One chairman spoke for around 2 minutes about the Olympic team selection, then passed the floor over to us. Holy crap.

My brain frantically searched its dusty dark corners for questions. It's not that I was obligated to say anything, but with so few people in the room, it would seem really odd not to. I let the people who knew what they were doing go first. There was a guy from BBC radio and two writers from the local papers, but strangely the two writers seemed as hesitant as I was. Radio Guy asked questions first, and followed up with quite a few more. He'd obviously done this sort of thing before - he had a big microphone and everything. Local Paper Guy 1 asked one question then Local Paper Guy 2 asked a few more, with awkward silences in between. 

As interesting as this all was, I wasn't writing about the Olympics and I'm not the sporty type at all. I do love gymnastics and was looking forward to watching them in a few weeks time on television, but I have absolutely nothing intelligent to say or ask about the topic at all. The only question I could think of was whether or not it would be an advantage to compete on home turf, but Local Paper Guy 2 beat me to it. The bastard.

Things were coming to an end. At this point, I thought, "Sod it. I need to say something." What held me back wasn't just nerves about speaking, it was about having to say my name and who I was writing for before asking my question. Okay fine, the local papers aren't anything to get excited about but whenever I mention the site I write for, everyone says "Who?" I realised that I had to go for it and who cares if the other people in the room haven't a clue who I write for? It's not like I'm ever going to see these people again.

GB Olympic gymnastics team press conference
"Yes, lady in the back who looks clueless?"
"What's your involvement in the torch stop tomorrow at the gym?", I asked. The coach Paul Hall gave a brief overview about events going on during the day and mentioned a gymnastics display. I asked if any of the team would participate in the display or if they would be "kept out of harm's way" and they all shook their heads wide-eyed and smiled. Louis Smith said, "We're doing a display in four weeks!" to which I replied, "Yes, but I don't have tickets for that one!!" "Who does?!" joked the photographer sitting behind me. Laughs all round and thank god that was over with.

The press conference wrapped up and Local Paper Guy 1 snapped a pic on his iPhone, making me feel better about my little aim-and-shoot Panasonic camera. I went over to thank the PR Lady for having us, and Lewis Smith was standing with her, so I chatted with him. I told him that Jack was in awe of him but was terrified to meet him because he's so famous, he told me that he's shy and has trouble chatting to girls, and we talked about the torch event. Just like that. Then I gathered my things and headed home, chuffed to the gills. 

The older I get, the less confident I become and the more self-conscious I get about appearing foolish. Back in the old days, I sincerely didn't give a rat's ass about how stupid I looked (anyone who knew me in high school and university can vouch for this.) These days I worry far, far too much. My only saving grace is that there's a small part of my subconscious that still doesn't give a rat's ass, and sometimes it gives me a slap on the back of the head. 

I am also falling prey to the "I'm too old for that" attitude, which deserves another slap to the back of the head every now and then. Writing for anyone other than myself (or technical writing) was something that lurked in the back of my mind and I kept holding myself back from giving it a go. I'm still far from a success and if it wasn't for this one gig I wouldn't be doing any paid (I use that term VERY loosely) writing at all, but the experience has been really fantastic and it's boosted my confidence. 

I'm still on a high after the press conference experience and I'm very proud of the article I've written. I almost feel like a proper journalist now. (But without the fancy microphone and a shittier camera.)