Marooned in the Modern World

In conjunction with my book "Swiss Family Suburban" this blog is from my diary; the diary of a wife and mum in a world where neither is valued highly. Beth Bill.

23rd July 2010

One of the children's friends are hand rearing a nest of baby squirrels. They were found in her grandparent's flue (not safe at all!) I know that squirrels are technically vermin, and as such we don't really need to be saving any, but it really has been lovely to see them grow. They began with no fur and their eyes closed and then they grew the sweetest whiskers. The children said they grew better whiskers than their dad could manage! Getting a bottle which they could drink from seemed a real problem but the parents are determined nature lovers and stuck to the task. With this friend Matt also went to help feed a snake (defrosted rat!) - I'm less keen to gain photographic documentation of that event!

Over this weekend Jonti and Em are in Belgium with the City Music Service, performing with the City Youth Brass Band and the City Youth Flute Choir. They are performing at various venues, one of which includes the Menin Gate, where The Last Post is played every evening in memory of soldiers in unknown graves. What a wonderful opportunity. Something like that will stay with you for the rest of your life, we are so blessed for the twins to have the chance to go there.

19th July 2010

Over the weekend was my 40th birthday! We'd arranged to have a garden party and, fortunately, the good weather held - although it was a bit chilly. It was so lovely to have so many friends and family come and visit, although it was very tiring. The kids consented to ditch school on Friday morning to attack the garden, weeding and generally tidying (making the most of a dry spell). I was so glad that I managed to convert the old veg plot into a herb garden - albeit a very basic one. It does lend a certain ambience to the garden and we all spent the morning of my birthday in preparation; I'd made and 8ft summer bunting which we fastened to the washing line with wooden pegs, we placed garden chess and dominoes about the garden. A neighbour made me two beautiful flower arrangements with Lillies (my favourite flower) as table centrepieces and we spread linen table cloths (from the days when my Grandad had a catering business) over the picnic table. One of the children's friends had made some lovely scones with strawberries and chocolate drizzled over them, Billy was manning a formidable BBQ and we loaned a fridge and a hot water urn for various drink options. I spent the rest of the morning cooking copious amounts of pizzas and then it was time for guests to arrive. The invitations said to pop in between 3.30 and 10pm but the last guests left at 12.45. The garden party image gave way to an impromptu brazier and jumpers loaned to all guests. It was a really special day.

I didn't have time to open any of my cards or presents until tea time the next day, so I had a full birthday weekend. The children (mostly Em I suspect - birthday presents generally do seem to be in the care of the ladies) had made me a basket full of "brown paper packages tied up with strings" which was really special. Some of the packages included packets of Monster Munch crisps (another friend gave me a packet of those, oh dear - my reputation goes before me), a cuddly lion whom we named 'Rudyard' and some Cola Cubes. I did share! A friend of mine bought me a really strange children's story book back from her Geography field trip in Iceland (literally at the site of THE volcano) which was all about Chickens, so David read aloud to us all that evening, which was very entertaining.

12th July 2010

At the children's concert tonight Em was nominated for the Elaine Beaumond Award. This is an annual award that was bequeathed to the City Music and Performing Arts Service to reward loyalty, hard work and commitment. It was a real surprise when the Folk Group leader told Em that she had been nominated. The fun of it was that, when they introduced Em onto the stage, they didn't give a review of her attendance, or her academic and musical achievements. Instead they introduced her of having a love of buttons and for being known for sewing buttons onto all her clothes and bags. Praise indeed!