From hands on to Hands free!

We are home safe from the icy house of two halves.  With every tear of joy reunion, a waterfall of sadness at leaving must come again. It does not get any easier.  Four months will pass until next we meet and April seems such a long time away.

The older children will not forget us, our faces are almost as familiar to them as those of their parents, even the toddler will not look vaguely upon us as we appear – often as buffering images – on ‘mummy’s’ phone or iPad.  The baby however is a different matter.

For her we have been just two more faces blending together like a field of smiling sunflowers, only those she sees hourly/daily will stay within her mind.  Over two wonderful weeks the bond we have shared has for her already been forgotten, as I write this post.

When next our eyes meet her smile may be wary, without the slow spreading radiance we have lately enjoyed.  Instead of relying on us for support she will likely be sitting unaided, possibly even rolling over from back to front – as we left she was already halfway there!

We are as Grandparents not alone of course in our present situation and luckier than many.  Cyprus is not the other side of the world, taking only one days travelling by car and plane.  Nevertheless the enforced separations only accentuate the speed at which all the Children but especially baby, develop over days rather than weeks.

Last night though, my sadness at leaving was tempered on our arrival back at Heathrow and still further as our onward journey, on a motorway blanketed by thick fog made driving conditions hazardous. I could not but think as we drove slowly along – ever mindful of what may lie in the murkiness ahead – of the families lives torn apart by recent road accidents in conditions just such as these.

Fate dealt me a lucky hand at escaping the carnage of my own crushed vehicle and as the many miles separate us all once more, I feel thankful for the continued time to spend with family and friends.  For some in an instant that has been cruelly taken away.

 

Did I Say Rest?

Currently we are spending time with our Daughter, Son-in-law and Grandchildren out in Cyprus. There are four children in total three girls ages 12, 20 months, 3 months, and one boy of 6, a very bouncy 2 year old springer spaniel completes this exhausting line up!

Our days start with 19 month old toddler arriving in our bed any time from 5am onwards, our daughter – having first fed and settled baby – disappears (in secret) downstairs for a ‘workout’to something called insanity, surely at this ungodly hour insane it is!  Our son-in-law will – if he is lucky while we are here – be in bed on baby watch duty until the day job calls.  The eldest, 12 going on teen is normally still asleep or reading (the latter her favourite pastime) whilst 6 can be found building Lego, playing with action figures or zapping anything that moves or otherwise with his light sabre.

Between seven and eight on a non school day it is breakfast time. Unfortunately to reach the relative warmth of the dining room – if someone has switched the gas heaters on – we all have to brave arctic conditions immediately we step outside our  bedrooms.  Wearing excess layers to keep out the cold I now resemble a ‘bag lady’ in my mismatched layers.

Temperatures in Cyprus at this time of year can be minus overnight. In the day, the sun when it manages to break through the cloud feels warm, however most days after our arrival rain has lashed down creating rushing rivers in the deep gullies that line the roads.

Inside the icebox house of two halves – it was once two, three bedroom semis – cooling fans now sit silent on extra high ceilings, making the too few heaters work that much harder to heat the extra space in the rooms. The sun when it does put in an appearance seems not to penetrate through the windows and walls at all.  We draw straws to decide whose turn to make hot drinks/meals in the icy room that is the kitchen.  Call of nature runs are held off as long as possible, whilst Ice cold tiles underfoot – thank god we packed slippers – render naked toes immobile.

After breakfast, more layers go on for walking the mad springer spaniel.  We depart the house a motley crew on our various modes of transport – pram or hands free sling for baby, trike with added adult control for toddler, push-bike for 6 and scooter for 12.  The four walking adults are split between being pulled along by dog, pushing the pram/trike, racing a bike or scooter, intermittent snails pace walking due to toddler exiting trike along with carrying, picking up when fallen, providing shoulder rides and pooh picking.  Eventually once the slow stop start has tried all our patience we try to persuade the toddler she has tired legs, this rarely ends with a happy outcome, only a rigid, screaming uncomplying body as we try to manoeuvre her back into her trike.  This excursion gets repeated late afternoon too, remember this is the fit outdoorsy family!

We all love Christmas time with the exception of husband/dad/grandad (VM) even though he is in the house of children and all things Christmassy he continues his relentless, mostly tongue in cheek Bah Humbug routine. Frowning, mumbling throughout the day whenever things go off plan as often they do!  So far he has cut his lip on a bacon buttie, making more fuss than the youngest child – the pouting went on for the whole day! The toddler while having a tantrum at ungodly hour knocked tea all over his slippers causing another day of moaning about cold feet as said slippers slowly dried out elsewhere. Water knocked over by the man himself narrowly missed his myriad of tech gadgets laying on the floor below. On the rare occasion he does nappy duty the floor resembles a battlefield and we have to send out for more supplies of baby wipes. Keeping up with the fit family he has found himself a running partner and although secretly enjoying being pushed physically to greater distances, we are all on his return suffering the consequences ‘I need to rest, my calves/quads are aching’.

I have decided my wrist will not be resting any time soon in Cyprus. How can I not pick up and cuddle our beautiful new baby Grandaughter who amongst all the hullabaloo that continually goes on around her is calm, serene and generally so good natured as to sometimes be forgotten.  Our animated, funny toddler loves to be picked up to sit on my lap and listen to her many storybooks or being bounced frantically up and down on my lap singing ‘half a pound of tuppenny rice’ and then disappearing between my knees as we ‘Pop goes the Weasel’ evoking chuckles galore.

With 12 and 6 there has been in the making a gingerbread house, seventy-two mince pies – including twenty-four special gluten-free for our daughter – and an elaborate lattice mince pie to use up the leftovers.  All the rubbing in, kneading, rolling and squeezing of thick icing through icing bags has, even with the excellent help taken its toll on my poor wrist.

The good news is although my wrist/hand is not improving my new hip parts are working particularly well with still not a clunk, click in sight!  Lots of walking with mad dog and without, along promenades by the sea.  Swimming in the local pool – a necessity just for the warm comfort of the changing rooms – floor workouts playing with the toddler and baby – toddler is well trained in providing a comfy cushion for  ‘Nannas’ accident battered knees and hip against the cold hard floors.  Climbing up and on or below and under a cabin bed to read 6 his bedtime story is a particular highlight, giving me hope that eventually mountains will be within my grasp.

To be able to do all these things and more fills me with so much joy.  I may never be able to run alongside holding hands or roly-poly with abandon down grassy slopes and hills, nevertheless the many things I can still do, thanks to technical advances and a skilful surgeon I will be forever grateful for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adjusting in a Smaller Space

Moving to a much smaller garden although good from a less stressed hip point of view, has at times made me feel like a chicken with her wings clipped.  Like them I scratch about on the surface, my boundaries closer, with few places to expand in a ready-made garden and for the most part made well!

My long-suffering as he commutes home on a Friday will say this is a blessing.  He can feel safe in the knowledge there will be no grand labour intensive surprises, long lists – of the garden variety – or worry from watching his wife limping around from labouring overkill.  Few things at all in fact to interfere with his weekend sporting fixtures in front of the TV!  The biggest exertion for him most weekends since March is getting the mower out of the shed for the 15 minutes it takes to cut our much reduced – by at least 90 minutes in mowing time – the back lawn area.

In the early days when we were making our previous much-loved large neglected plot my term of endearment for my wonderful husband was not ‘long-suffering’ – he became this post accident. No my preferred choice was ‘Victor Meldrew’ inspired after the often morose fictional sitcom character from ‘One Foot in The Grave’, with his negative grumpy mutterings and dour face pulling every time I came up with a new spade wielding ‘project’, the resemblance was uncanny minus the bald head.

At the beginning of our gardening journey from winter 2000 and beyond especially while reconstructing the overgrown and hidden stream area his energy and enthusiasm was easily on a par with mine.  Unfortunately a few years of digging heavy clay soil – constantly wet in winter or rock hard in summer – gradually whittled away all the above.

Gardening  journal, excerpts from four years on…

17th Feb 2004.  Time was spent this morning evaluating the front grassed area resulting in my decision to turn a third into a new Kitchen garden.  After lunch I marked out the area to be fenced ie. rabbit proofed, with canes and string.  Later my excitement at relaying and showing my plans to Richard on his return from work was  severely tempered by a very grumpy ‘Victor Meldrew’ impression!

18th Feb 2004.  Not to be disheartened by Victor Meldrew – from hereon in for the purpose of this Journal shortened to VM – I have organised the position of the raised veg beds and rung round suppliers to acquire prices for posts, netting and hire of a turf cutter.

20th Feb 2004.  VM needs three weeks – only three!  Preparation for this new project I have thrown at him obviously needs contemplation time.  Very grumpy for the last two nights however there is light on the horizon I think with a bit more persuasion he will slowly come around to the idea.

24th Feb 2004.  Great excitement!  VM went to bed with yesterdays birthday present my new book ‘Making Gardens’, leading me to believe my kitchen garden and other ‘projects’ could soon after the prerequisite VM become a reality!

Although not on the grand scale as before I have still on occasion given Richard cause to put on his VM face even on our much reduced landscaped plot.  I write this with a smile on my face, so far borders have been extended, widened, trees thinned, rope swags erected for rambling roses, a new wild flower meadow in an existing front lawn, planted up with 300 bulbs and 300 native wild flower plugs.

I think over the last few months my wings have slowly grown back, whilst not needing to change the layout of  the hard landscaping areas, some of the planting needs much rejuvenation.  The question is how long can the confines of this garden sustain my free range ideas before I feel clipped once more?