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S’bin a while, I know. The matchsticks I’m propping my eyelids open with keep snapping.

Harry, Caesar, Praefectus, Princeps, Imperator, etc, turned three on Monday and was carted by his adoring mother and grandmother to a theme park that was quite ridiculously old for him, but featured Thomas (the Tank Engine) Land. The crowds were monstrous oppressive and Harry did badly in the resulting ride queues – no surprise. We went on one ride, plus a trip on the Actual Real Proper Thomas Himself (shssshh!) that was oddly queueless.

We toured the zoo and the climbing frames twice, and, taken all in all I think he enjoyed himself.

Mother & I, however, walked out of there several decades older. We lost him. Twice.

The first time, we were in a closed soft-play area

with a member of staff on the door, which slightly mitigated my unease when he vanished off the play frame. After a couple of minutes I asked the resident staff member to search the frame for a little boy with a black t-shirt and brown trousers (I have a deliberate policy of putting Harry in primary colours on trips to public places. Planning FAIL.) as parents were verboten. Which wouldn’t have stopped me going on to look for him, as such, but the majority of the frame was fairly visible from the ground. I searched the toilets. Mum searched the toilets. I asked the door guard. I began to fight down the panic and the visions of a small crumpled body at the bottom of a drop… or his neck caught up in a rope net and hanging…

You don’t want an imagination like mine, I assure you. It is not altogether a blessing.

Suddenly, he appeared like the genie of the bloody lamp, waving a cushion from the tiny toddlers area, under which he had evidently happily concealed himself.

Little bugger. Sigh.

The second time was… worse. Oh, so very much worse. He disappeared around a wooden climbing frame to re-climb the steps… and didn’t appear at the top. After a few seconds – 10? 15? – I wheeled the pushchair around the frame, surveyed the surrounding 30 to 40ft and – nothing. Vanished. Total Lord Lucan. 

Of course, black and brown really stand out against a double row of 100-yds of wooden climbing frames,

especially when there are hundreds of galloping, climbing, bouncing kids, skittering about in frenetic Brownian motion in front of you. (This photo was taken much earlier, when the place was virtually deserted.) I started off puzzled, moved swiftly through sinking unease and alarm, and rapidly reached heart-in-mouth stage.

I abandoned the pushchair, stationed Mum at the nominal exit area – horribly aware that if someone had taken him, they could be out and a fair way off, by now – and ran round like a demented hamster looking high and low, but it was chockablock with kids and I could see nothing. I started to scream his name, aware that A) there were probably a dozen or more Harrys looking up at me, B) he wouldn’t hear me if he was concentrating on clambering and C) he wouldn’t respond usefully even if he did.

Eventually – and I couldn’t tell you how long it was after he disappeared, only that I had time to die several times – I caught sight of him crawling into a tunnel. I dived after him like a chubby kingfisher and hauled him unceremoniously off the playframe (how I didn’t actually puke on him in sheer relief, I don’t quite know) before proceeding to give him what was not only the loudest shouty-bollocking of his entire life, but also, the most thoroughly undeserved.

Because I’ve never told him to stay close to me, or to make sure he can see me. He doesn’t know what ‘lost’ means; I’ve never explained the word to him. He doesn’t look behind him, he doesn’t seek reassurance, and he’s overwhelmingly self-assured because he knows I’m always there. Watching. The one place I let him roam out of sight is our local softplay barn because I know he can manage all the equipment – and I’m always between him and the gated exit. He’s growing up confident in his own abilities and secure in the knowledge that he’s never, ever come looking for me and not found me straightaway. Great!

Consequently, I imagine his bollocking came as an incomprehensible and puzzling surprise to him. Poor lad. He’d crumpled sadly into chastened tears by the time I’d returned to Mum and she’d retrieved the pushchair – not quite where I’d left it, I noted, absently; a fact which made sense later when I realised that his lovely, favourite dinosaur sunhat had been stolen off it.

*short pause, while we all wish haemorrhoids with infection complications on the perpetrator*

I had lost the will to slog on after that, and Harry was clearly tired – and upset! – so we left, and it will be some years before anyone gets me back there again. 

Harry’s party, on the other hand was lots of fun, and unmarred by aggravation, although there was a tricky time when New Toys were shown to Harry but he was prevented from actually touching them Immediately, Straight Away, This Minute, SERIOUSLY, LEMME AT ‘EM RIGHT NOW!

All the very best 2 year olds and 0 year olds attended, as well as a very honoured (more in the breach than the observance, as it turned out!) guest who had celebrated a very special birthday a leetle larger than 3 a couple of days previously, and had come all the way from Australia to do so – and had then driven the ball-breaker from Chester and back simply to come to Harry’s party. I’m not quite sure how we would have managed without her, but she tackled Miles Behind Party Prep like a bona fide hero. Harry was, sadly, insensible of the nature of the honour of all these far-flung guests, both toddler and adult – all of whom I managed to converse with not nearly enough, which was rather a pisser – but his mother was supremely touched and happy they were there, nevertheless.

(I had, in fact, done rather better with my bloggy visitors the day before, being able to devote several hours to a door-passing May and H, who are not only always an immense pleasure to see, but whom I now know so well that I no longer feel I have to render myself stressed by cleaning up before they arrive…)

So. I know you want cake photos, yes?

I had a demanding client brief, involving much signing of ‘tractor’, ‘digger’ and audible ‘choo-choo!’s. I couldn’t quite see how to incorporate all of these, initially, until inspiration struck. I was pleased with the end result, although leaving the elaborately-constructed chocolate collars

(designed to conceal the box forming the tunnel) in the fridge at home (along with 2 large cheese & pineapple ‘hedgehogs’, 80 cocktail sausages and 2 pots of houmous)

narked me off, rather.

The crane, tractor, digger and battery-driven train were all new, hence his sudden and desperate eagerness to pounce on them.

Waiting until the end of Happy Birthday nearly finished the poor lad off.

And my baby is now 3.

3!

Christ. Stop now, please.

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Way on High

*portentously*

I… have been on a jolly.

Another one! mutters John.

It’s true: I’ve been putting myself around a little more of late. I went to see May earlier this month, I’ve been to see Ukuleles, I’ve been out with friends for a curry, I’ve been to see Crowded House, I am off to the RSC tomorrow night, and I have just spent the entire weekend in a collection of damp fields straddling the Welsh/English border, happier than a naturally well-disposed piglet in first-quality poo, at Hay on Wye literary festival.

I realise that this may not be an event with which everyone is on first-name terms, so I shall pinch some newspaper quotes, simply because I am feeling awful tired and rather reprehensibly lazy. The Los Angeles Times rather nonplussedly states that “The small market town of Hay is an unlikely setting for one of the world’s biggest book festivals… a literary extravaganza that is now firmly established as the biggest book event in Britain… In fact it is the unlikeliness of the location that makes the festival so glorious”. The Guardian thinks that “Hay hoovers up the best writers published in the world. This has over the years, created a self-reinforcing phenomenon: they get the best, and so the best want to come.”

Prominent politicians litter the turf as thickly as authors, comedians and musicians; with the exception of the odd ex-President (in particular yesterday’s interview with Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf) the security is superficially non-existent and the artists mingle freely with the crowd. Henning Mankel was supposed to be appearing, but has a current engagement – in more than one sense – that he can’t exactly excuse himself from. Ron Prosor, the Israeli Ambassador, was likewise expected and has, unsurprisingly, sent his apologies. We nearly bumped into Ed Miliband; Nick Clegg is expected later in the week.

Hay audiences are famously amongst the most intellectual in the world. Then I turned up, and the mean average IQ slumped a little.

Actual built accommodation is sold out years in advance, so Shannon – whose inspired idea this whole jaunt was – and May (these ladies, incidentally, speak more languages between them than the inhabitants of Babel) and I all converged on an enormous pre-pitched tent in this picturesque fold in the hills, toting an array of sleeping bags and widely divergent footwear. 

John has been wetting himself laughing at the thought of me in a tent; he reluctantly handed over his pristine and (supposedly) polar-suitable sleeping bag with a grumble about it really being far too good for a tent-hater like me and that I was bound to be ridiculously hot and that I should really take the ancient and cobweb-thin one instead.

I was not ridiculously hot. It was Wales. It was Spring. There was rain. We were, all three, perishingly cold, as well as managing to somehow end up lying on our respective zips after struggling womanfully into the unaccustomed straight-jackety confines of our sleeping bags (a voice in the dark from May’s corner of the tent, stoic but with a frisson of aggravation: ‘I feel like the Very Hungry Caterpillar.’) atop comparatively comfortable but comically undulating airbeds. 

You would have laughed at us. We were laughing at us. And despite the cold, and even despite the chokingly bad chemical smell in the portaloos, we had a thrillingly good festival. I kept phoning home to say hello to Harry (who would snatch the phone and utter a brief Errro! before droppping the reciever like a hot poker and rapidly beetling off) and enthusing wildly to John ‘I am having SUCH an amazing time! You would HATE it here!’

Because – it’s maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but maybe you would have liked to have been there. I watched a multiplicity of wondrous drawings climb effortlessly from Quentin Blake‘s pen, and it was Good. We all went to see Kazuo Ishiguro (ostensibly being talked with, but given that the chair was John Mullen, he was actually talked at) and his phraseology was exquisite and it was Good. I went to see David Mitchell speak about his latest book and was charmed and captivated – ironically, much beyond my words – by his passion for language, and it was Very Good. We all watched Giles Coren (a distinctly more attractive chap in the flesh) get mildly hot under the collar, and it was Good. May skipped off to see Ed Byrne whilst Shannon and I stuck it out with a discombobulated Beth Orton and it was Strange. And Good in places. 

Then there was the tent interlude.

The next morning, surrounded by a fair breeze and increasing sunshine I listened to Sir Peter Stothard talk about his new book – I bought it, he signed it – and was reminded just why it is that my classics degree was not, in fact, a big fat waste of my time. I then scurried back to ensure that a copy of Aliens Love Underpants was dutifully inscribed to Harry – a huge fan of the Underpants trilogy – by illustrator Ben Cort. 

May and I inserted ourselves carefully into the thousands-large audience for Lord Robert Winston – a personal hero of mine – in order to faciliate my rapid emergence and gallop towards the bookstore where he would be signing books afterwards. By virtue of my Olympic-standard use of the Wifey Elbow I managed to be the first adult in the queue. I greeted him in admiring and overwhelming awe (sans vowels, again. Must work on this.), had books signed for Harry and myself, and had a brief chat to him about what a lovely bloke David Attenborough was. May was then obliged to shepherd my quivering form for a coffee – we all drank helluva lot of coffee – whilst I clucked happily and patted my bag of books. 

In fact, the weight of our respective book bags was becoming tedious; I spared a thought for Shannon, out combing the 39 bookshops of Hay on Wye (population: 1400) and now, doubtless, in dire need of a sherpa.

The unremitting high-interest of the lectures couldn’t last. I went to see Janet Todd discuss the new edition of Jane Austen’s collected works; she read large passages from her juvenilia and unfinished novels with which I was already fairly familiar – so, most unusually, I nodded off. I think people noticed. My bad. Mea culpa. etc. However, May and I finished off in electrifying and enchanting style hearing the incredibly engaging David Mitchell discuss the magnificence that is Cloud Atlas, quizzed, alas, by the garrulous John Mullan who had a most unfortunate tendency to remind me strongly, on a number of levels, of Alan Partridge.

And then it was nightime on Sunday and the three little girls had played away from home for quite long enough. Boooo. I managed to capture May and bring her home with me for the night, as well as subjecting her this morning to an over-crowded Stratford Upon Avon, John’s rowing on the Avon and an ebullient toddler – who timed his ascension of the potty-throne for his shockingly smelly morning dump to mid-breakfast perfection – before waving her off on a train back to London. 

I am now absolutely tuckered out, but with a towering pile of new books perched promisingly by the side of my bed and a steely determination to return, because there was very much more indeed that I would have lovedlovedloved to see, hear and do during this festival.

I’m going back next year. With heated caravan.

Culture Vulture

Just like New York, Paris and Rome, London is both soaringly beautiful and nose-crucifyingly smelly, and I had forgotten both of those things. I’ve been such a tourist it’s almost embarrassing, although I should really save that word up for later on.

I used to work in London a good bit at one time and we honeymooned there for a few days before disappearing into the depths of Jordan (a destination which proved to be a choice speech topic gift to John’s best man), so I’ve trooped around the more obvious landmarks before. As this was a solo trip I felt I could indulge myself; John, while not a history lover, likes art as much as the next man (the Hairy exchequer has unbelted reasonably freely on the stuff in the time of the seven fat cows – before the breeding-related plummet into the era of seven anorexic and anaemic cows) but would squeak a bit at the thought of two days exclusively devoted to it.

I lap the stuff up. My father and his side of the family can paint, exceedingly well, dammit, and most of them – except him – have a daftly, and I use the word advisedly, artistic temperament to boot. I have the soul of an artist, the mind of a shopkeeper and actual talent of an artistically pedestrian 3 year old. It’s a proper bugger.

So: National Portrait Gallery and National Gallery it was. I took a good look at some well-known and fabulous works I had only ever previously seen reproduced and was repeatedly clobbered upside the head with unknown, stunning, luminous pieces. I was alone, and could sit and stare for 20 minutes if I pleased, and I often did.  I’d be more arse-numbingly boring than usual if I attempted even a short precis, but I did fancy this self-portraiting chap – died 1743 – like mad.

NPG 3822, Michael Dahl

Busily sketching primary school children were fairly thickly strewn underfoot, which was fine, and had remonstrating and blatantly clueless teachers in tow, which was more of a trial. One particularly irritating woman loudly bossed her group into stillness before reading – extremely haltingly – from the information panel; she announced self-importantly that Lady Jane Grey had been ‘disposed’ after only 9 days. Awesome.

Compensatingly, there was the little kid who, obviously consulting his gallery guide as opposed to his common sense, walked straight past Delacroix: Christ on the Cross

delacroix-christ-cross-NG6433-fm

to Gericault: A Shipwreck, complete with bollocks

a shipwreck

and pronounced solemnly, in awed tones, ‘That’s JESUS, man!’

Incidentally, I can’t find a bigger photo online (updated: here’s one) as the National Gallery won’t actually acknowledge that they have it currently hanging on their wall, plus I keep getting into trouble for explicit links, so that’s your lot.

I spent a lovely number of hours in the British Museum, too, and kept the ancient historian in me stoked and happy. That’s one honours degree I’ll never see a profit from, ever.

I got back late last night, beginning to miss my chaps. When Harry clapped eyes on me this morning he point-blank refused to come close and climbed possessively into John’s arms with a worried expression. I was desperately attempting to conceal my mortal anguish. It took him a good 10 minutes to change his mind and decide that he wanted a cuddle after all; he had no sooner thrown himself into my eager arms when he spotted the contents of the Hamley’s bag and promptly fought his way out again.

He then decided that he wanted, nay, needed ice cream for breakfast and commenced a 15 minute protest in front of the the dog room freezer.

In fact, he has made my life a mild form of living hell today. I have cried 3 times in sheer despair and frustration and I am not even hormonal: this is bad. He has alternated unusually intense touchy-feely affection with screaming like an outraged and rabid gibbon whenever he was thwarted or disappointed in the Least Little Thing (eg, his satsuma had not grown enough segments for his liking, or the jigsaw puzzle box failed to obediently spring open to his questing fingers within the first pico-second of trying). I have retreated in abject maternal shame from baby group and even Tesco, grappling madly with my frothing, thrashing, shrieking, headbutting, face-clawing toddler.

I’m not sure how cognitive Just-Turned-Twos actually are about parental absence, but I might have supposed this to be punishment, were it not for the fact that he behaved in identical fashion the day before I left. Tell me this gets better soon, or I may have to run away to sea.

Talking of sea, he has pissed on the lounge carpet again today, twice. There must be more pee in that carpet than the average public urinal; I’m struggling to keep up with the soapy water. It’s my own fault: whilst not intending to potty-train him yet – anticipating that not having spoken or signed language might be a tad hindering – nevertheless, I have bought him a potty, and have spoken to him about What Happens. The latest result is that he now enthusiastically removes his nappy whenever my back is turned. He promptly piddles or shits on the carpet next to the potty, before sitting on it with a pleased expression. Sigh. Close, with a brown cigar.

When pre-emptively placed on the potty by me, he immediately and dutifully strains industriously, ignoring my frantic admonishments about The Risk Of Piles. Once this resulted in business, which made a big impression on him and me both, but he generally only emits a series of thunderous farts. He then leaps to his feet, whirls around and examines the potty closely to see if he has produced anything apart from noxious turd-gas, whilst I try not to laugh.

He plays up gleefully when I try to replace his nappy, and I end up – laughing and nonchalant at first, and then increasingly vociferous and grumpy – pursuing his twinkling little bottom all around the house; when I do eventually distract him into sitting still for a replacement, I turn my back for two minutes and off the nappy comes again.

If I could play the yakedy sax Benny Hill theme to this, I totally would.

Very Nearly An Armful

I both love and hate the internet.

My consultant told me my day 3 blood tests were, and I quote, ‘normal’. I have therefore spent the last couple of days all Tra-la-la!-ish and not giving it another thought, until I have just now sat down to google the actual numbers involved, which I dutifully asked for and scribbled down.

FSH: 6 Good!

LH: 5 Better!

E2: 94 Not good. Not good at all. I’m now worried that the FSH figure is rendered meaningless, and that I am possessed of about as much future egg potential as the average cockerel.

Prolactin: 126do hope I have written this down wrong. I think I meant to write 26, which still seems the higher end of good.

SHBG: 27.1 The internet has no strong opinion on this.

Testosterone: 0.5 This seems awfully and suspiciously low. John has just rolled back from an infrequent trip down the local pub and, when I mournfully broadcasted this figure as being woefully insufficient, he nodded sagely and promptly and plaintively cited his sex life as also being woefully insufficient. Apparently, the two are linked.

Lastly, I have written ‘Thy’ which I suspect means thyroid stimulating hormone. I have 1.607 somethings of it, which is probably about normal.

I’m now attempting desperately to give brain space to the phrase ‘Diminished Ovarian Reserve’ in a way that doesn’t actually involve me chewing on furniture. Most of me is thinking that if my Beautiful Lady Consultant (Stunning. Face, figure, the lot. Obviously possessed of a simply humungous brain. And a kind, courteous person, too. Gah!) isn’t worried, then neither should I be. She impressed John and I once again – very much – and really, I just need to get off google and let her get on with it.

I told you that ‘it’ would likely take the form of knives or cameras: in fact, it will now involve both. Consultant number 1 will be driving cameras via my cervi (Cervixes? I’m never sure.) into both Cameron and Blair and zapping furiously away at anything adenomyosisy the cameras see, particularly this synechium thing, whilst Consultant number 2 (my previous Awfully Important chap, and apparently a particularly outstanding surgeon) will be slicing into me via the sunroof and having a good rummage about down the back of the sofa uteri for anything interesting. If they find any buried loose change, I must remind them that the landowner gets 50%.

They are, at my particular request, also going to have a look right behind my uteri, and see if I have any endometriosis sticking them to the front wall of my bowel. I’m royally fed up of sinking, cross-eyed in pain, to my knees and gasping like a gaffed fish every time I have concurrent lower-bowel peristalsis and a period. 

Surgery form

My surgery form highlights the fact that my BMI is 33 (I was slightly indignant about the upwards pointing arrow. It is exactly 33, thank you so very much. I feel the different ranks of Obese and Even Obeser need to be preserved here.) and that I will be in theatre for well over an hour. I’ve been knocked out by general anaesthetic a fair few times, but never for more than 30 minutes, so I expect John will be fielding the sick bowl on this occasion.

I was perfectly calm about it all until I spotted the bit about them requiring 2 units of blood. Eeek.

Beautiful Lady Consultant said two things to me that I had some difficulty processing:

Firstly, that ‘you have absolutely no problems with fertility at all.’ I was about to fall about laughing, until I grasped her meaning. I am, thus far, rather good at becoming pregnant, if an egg and a sperm are introduced into a candlelit womb and invited to slurp oysters together. I have never, in fact, failed to become pregnant from any finished course of treatment, and have managed to do so once from an unfinished course. My problem, of course, is that I refuse to either ovulate properly in the first place, or obligingly stay pregnant.

Secondly, she was sorting industriously through the towering piles of paper that constitute my notes, and pulled out a collection of scan photos. ‘Which pregnancy was this?’ she asked me, pointing to the date of January 2006. John and bickered conferred briefly, but could not decide whether it was the first or second IVF. ‘It was a twin pregnancy,’ she said, casting a quick upwards glance at me.

Which… is something I was never quite sure about. I had been told, albeit blurrily, in the midst of grinding pain, that they had seen a second sac, but this was during a scan the day after I had already miscarried, and I saw no further – evidence, shall we say? – over the next few days. So I had almost thought they were mistaken. But the photo BLC showed us was of two unmistakable pregnancy sacs, albeit collapsing, and I’m a bit confused how they missed telling me about this during earlier scans, although the evil was plenty sufficient to the day thereof in any case. I lie awake at night sometimes picturing these children of ours; these extinguished beginnings. Their sleeping faces, their soft limbs, their laughter. I’ve been counting three, and it should have been four.

She told me I had a month or so to get some blubber lost – not precisely her exact words – although I have been trying to get hold of their office all day to delay the scheduling more towards Christmas, as during November I will be flat-out working. Hopefully fat-out, too, but we shall see.

Of course, I’m now wondering whether delaying a whole extra month means wasting one of my puny number of remaining eggs.

*shakes head to dispel image of cavernously empty ovaries with a tiny handful of rice-sized eggs cowering, utterly endocrinally overcome, in the corner*

Lets talk about something else, hmmm?

I had a lovely surprise yesterday morning. Katie has knitted a beautiful, elegant and soft snuggler for me, as part of the Pay It Forward scheme, and my photo by no means does the fabulous knitwork justice. It even suits me! 

snuggler

After admiring the workmanship, it occurred to me that I had actually better pull my finger out and get mine finished underway. So far I have stitched one (1) item of the three required, and not even completed the seams. Roll on the long winter nights, else they haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell.

I can has skankburger?

The Mop has descended upon Warwickshire. It’s been turning up yearly since, umm, about Edward III’s time, so you’d think it wouldn’t take me by surprise any longer. But every year I tootle happily around the street corner – oblivious to the signs – and run right up against a carousel with those macabre and wild-eyed wooden horses on it. This is, of course, the yearly signal for the town’s youngsters to don their shortest mini skirts or finest knee-level-crotch jeans, and parade around our small town, checking out the visiting talent and braving the vomit-provoking rides – whilst the closure of the town centre and the plethora of spinning metal is a huge source of bemusement to the visiting tourists.

Whilst I do not wish to impugn the safety record of the Showman’s Guild, I am always struck by the fact that the guys operating the really terrifying rides generally resemble Cro-Magnon man. They do not inspire confidence in me. But I am a lily-livered coward regarding all fairground rides in any case, and am struck dumb with terror by even the smallest swingboat. I even dislike children’s swings. So, actually purchasing any vertigo this evening was never an issue, but we did have a stroll into town at 7.30pm with a small child – out on his first ever past-his-bedtime jolly. In fact, I can’t remember taking him out in the dark before. He was duly fascinated by the flashy illuminations, and gazed, slack-jawed, at the strobe lights. Happily, he appears not to be epileptic.

Although there was zero hope of anyone persuading me onto the smallest carousel, I was burning to spend some money, all the same. Even before we were within 100 yards of the fair, I could smell them. Ahhh! Skankburgers! Those delectable pancakes of dubious mince with a SUSPICIOUSLY ORANGE square of melting plastic cheese perched jauntily atop. And the onions, frying, sizzling, wafting… wafting, goddammit. I know from bitter times past just how the skankburger lust can take hold of me. I’d made preparations. I’d deliberately cooked an enormous meal of meatballs and spaghetti, and piggied the lot before setting foot near the fair. I told myself that I always feel ill after eating one. I told myself proudly that the scales had turned a round 14 stone this morning – nearly 13 something! Wahey! And yet… every burger van I passed belted out its nasal siren song of sizzling onions and frying grease. WAAAAAAAHHHHH! Want one! Want one NOW!

Hubby, bless him, hustled me unceremoniously past the lot, and back to the car before I could fall into skank-sin. And then, because he wanted one himself, proceeded to buy me a blasted Bounty bar when we stopped for milk. Which I ate. Bah! Still, I saved my cash. And good thing too, because I finally succumbed to a different type of lust today and ordered myself a proper (antipodean!) nappy changing bag, at hubby-horrifying cost. I have been toting a free black plastic pampers-job, and its dull (and now egg-mayo stained. Thank you, Harry.) tones do not add lustre to my day. So I have purchased this, and am rabidly awaiting delivery, whilst musing fretfully if I should have got it in mimosa or ochre.

Harry has had a busy couple of days. He was put to bed for the first time ever by Daddy, and only Daddy, last night. Mummy went out to the theatre at 6pm, having offered boob before departure, leaving the boys to cope with 7pm bedtime – sans boob. Harry had his bath and story-books as usual, before having a quick slurp of cow’s milk out of his sippy-cup in the boob-chair. Upon being placed in his cot and having his mobile twirled, he immediately turned over and went straight to sleep. My God! SCORE! I am no longer a prisoner to his boob-habit! I am free of him!! FRRREEEEEEEEE!!!1!! Ah… ahem. Let me think of something to tell you – quickly! – that shows you just how much I LOVE MY CHILD! Cough. Free. Yes. Wahey.

Harry had yet another first-ever this morning – we took a rowing boat out for an hour to have a closer look at the RSC building work and enjoy the glorious sunshine. I managed to endanger a local rowing crew, as it appears that I was supposed to be providing propulsion AND steering. John was too busy holding an utterly torpid child to pull on a steering rope, apparently. As you can see, Harry is regarding my oar (shipped! shipped oar! I’m not that nautically incompetent! Although, why rowlocks don’t have tops to ’em is beyond me. And the fact that I’m using ‘nautically’ in the context of rowing the River Avon probably tells its own story.) with sleepy suspicion

before it all became too much for him.

A sleeping child. My very favourite kind.

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