Drove, Swam, Drove Back

I’m still single parenting until tomorrow morning and the pain of it has mostly gone. I think it’s all a bit easier to have one captain steering the ship. Or, like, one film commercial directing the shoot. Or one fabulously dressed diplomat ordering the champagne. You know what I mean. Anyway, tomorrow morning we will have two very tired extras coming back into the flat, happy to see us at about 14%, sad to be back 86%. And needing a shower and maybe needing us to be gone. BEGONE, too many family members! And I’ll be like ‘I’ll give you two days. After that, it’s coffee and therapy for you, my man.” Actually, I won’t, but I should. Must. Exert. Power. Of. Leverage.

Also On My Near Horizon

  1. Serious conversations to be had about where we should live – broken down by hemisphere, country, city, suburb, house vs flat.

2. Serious conversations about parenting failures made evident by trip to Devon last week.

3. Serious conversations about domestic chores divide. (HINT: I am over doing everything.)

4. Serious conversations about how I crashed the landrover into a telephone pole and now it is a bit smashed like a coke can.

Needless to say, I am not excited by the thought of these conversations. Not sure quite how any of us will emerge unscathed.

So, Devon. It was lovely, romantically lovely, with lolling hills and tiny little lambs (we ate some, too) and goats with hair like this:

Oh how we laughed. And then the very next morning, Amanda washed her hair and it did the very same high bouffant-y fringe as though she had slept in wide rollers and we laughed again. Her beard was pretty much the same, too.

We took the kids surfing, and we really didn’t think they would last the hour. The beach was desolate and wild and gorgeous, but so BLOODY COLD. Amanda is from Sydney and I am from the northern part of New Zealand and so seeing the cold British people all huddled on the brown sand in parkas and those wind breaker things pegged into the sand like some sort of plastic room dividers keeping them sort of protected from the harsh coldness, well, it breaks us a little in the heart-place. And there are no proper cafes. WHY ARE THERE NO PROPER CAFES? There was a hole-in-the-wall ice cream kiosk but really, there are hundreds of cold hungry people with their dogs all keen for a big plate of chips and a really good coffee after their brave coastal journey along the wilds of the seaside but they aren’t catered for AT ALL. But enough about me and my imaginary friends – here are the surfing photos:

They stayed out in the sea for about an hour and loved it. And then I thought how smart we were to get them surfing, because it proves that life here is full and outdoorsy and potentially sea-related, and so I sent the photos to Mark, in a kind of ‘LOOK! You don’t need to move to New Zealand! They love surfing here!’ and then I remembered that you don’t have to save up for once-a-year surfing situations in New Zealand – you can do it every day after work. Which I am sure was very apparent to him, and everyone else who is watching our social media war of wills. Anyhoo.

So then, though, the weather got hot and we found a beach called North Sands and we could take off our goose feather Woolwich parkas and leather jackets and the kids swam and crabbed and climbed rock faces and the dog found a little rock pool where he barked and ate seawater and then he squirted it all out of his bum in front of the well-heeled beach goers and they had to come get me to clean it all up.

Otis was having so much fun that he peed his trousers, and so I did this thing that I do quite well – I peeled the old ones off and I fashioned a new pair of pants out of my jumper. His little urine-soaked legs went through the arms of my jumper, I pulled the bottom of my jumper up, up, up and tied the ends over one shoulder. If he bent over to play in rock pools, then yes, his bum was exposed, but provided he stood uptight it stayed intact. He looked like a grecian nymph:

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These are the parenting triumphs. The parenting lows were quite frequent and severe, and included much 9 year old swearing, general violence, a variety of unkindnesses, scowling, early morning stomping, attacking each other in cars with fingernails and boots. There were packets of sweets stolen from the girls, there were six hour long car journeys punctuated by shrieking and screaming. My children used all the milk in their cereal bowls, filling them each morning to the brim but with no intention of actually drinking the milk – the milk seeming to act purely as a kind of aesthetic backdrop to the few bits of cereal they eat, rather than serving an actual food-purpose. I hadn’t really noticed they did this until the holiday. Amanda’s kids didn’t do that. They also took their bowls to the kitchen when they had finished and said please and thank you without being prompted. Small things, but actually, important things.

My phone got spilled in water so took a few days off to sit in a bag of rice and we had no service anyway, and so I stayed off screens which was sort of fun and novel until it wasn’t. We watched movies and drank prosecco and the dog sat in some sort of patrician judgement of us:

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But, like, after the beachside diarrhoea incident, I think he was really in no place to comment.

And then, we drove home after going off-piste to find a Devon cream tea place. Of course, in all of Devon, there really were none to be found, not for like an hour and half of sideways driving and then we decided to take the B-roads at Exeter and the four hour trip took nine hours and then I got lost in Kilburn and nearly cried.

Anyway,  home now. Wish me luck for the coming weeks while futures are being negotiated and serious talks are entered into. I will need it.

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7 Responses to Drove, Swam, Drove Back

  1. Nick Hughes says:

    Save money, save the pain, save the boys Stockholm syndrome from the dungeon, go to NZ.
    All the smart brits and yanks are…
    And we’ll see you there, fingers crossed. xoxo

  2. Cath says:

    Please come home. The kids will just love it. I know you will die a little each day being far from the maddening crowd. But then you can just take the kids down the beach and they will streak off to the water or along the sand and you can’t even hear them. Which in itself is worth it. Plus we have EXCELLENT beachside cafes.

  3. theharridan says:

    No jobs. Can’t go to said cafe without the cash. There is more to this story than back yards and beaches. Once we have a job, we can talk…

  4. neradah says:

    No, dont you leave London! Its awesome here and the kids are cultured and accepting and grow up tolerant of lots of different types of other people and experiences. And, sorry to have the advantage over the naysayers, but we’ll discuss this further over dinner later on in the week.

  5. Jess says:

    My tuppence-worth: Go or Stay where you, the mother, are happiest. We have this conversation about twice a year – usually at the tail-end of a perfectly lovely, gin-filled evening, which ruins it entirely – and the bottom line is always the same: if I’m unhappy, the whole family is unhappy. The non-mother doesn’t see it quite this way, obv, but I really truly believe it. (Not that this has had any bearing whatsoever on our choices, which involve Him being happy, and me being not (although not unhappy; just not I Love It Here happy), and the children not caring much, one way or the other, but I have been busy all these years whispering “Tell Dad you want to move to Ireland” into their sleeping ears, and it is working! We will move to Ireland “someday”, they are assured.) Having said all that, we’re just back from two weeks in Western Australia, and I would move there in a heartbeat. Mainly for the beach-side cafes so lacking in Dorset. It’s just SO DAMN FAR AWAY. Also, the flies might drive me nuts in summer. But the cafes! The fresh air! and if it’s tempura kale you’re after… Not much tempura kale in Ireland, I concede. But fresh air aplenty.)
    Notwithstanding all of the above, it’s almost impossible to decide through conversation alone where to settle. Is there anything which might trigger a choice? A job offer is the obvious one. Or else a compromise – which is where we currently are on Ireland. We’ll move there for secondary schooling, but I – HORROR – will be the main worker (because his main concern is having to do a job he hates; also not loving Ireland and paying 99% tax to live there rankles just a teeny bit), and we’ll give it two years, before moving… somewhere else… (Basically I see our entire marriage being lulls between the Where Will We Live conversation.)

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