Word of the week:

Return to normality

After the chaotic time we experienced during the building works on our bathroom last week, this week the dust has (literally) settled. The job was (more or less) completed by the end of Bank Holiday Monday and we now have a beautiful, clean, luxurious space in which to carry out all those day to day ablutions.

I was keen to carry out a full on house clean on Tuesday as everything was feeling grimy and untidy with piles of bathroom detritus lying randomly around the place. Unfortunately I had a long standing appointment to get my highlights done (time-limited half price offer!) in Guildford and this process ended up taking about 4 hours out of my 6 hours of child-free time. This resulted in a mad dash home and a frantic sweep, dust, Hoover, recycling challenge and tidy up! As a result we do actually now have a clean feeling, tidy home again at last.

I am dying to put my ‘before and after’ bathroom post up to share the wonder of it all but we are still awaiting one rather large piece of kit to be delivered and fitted – the bath side panel. Without this picture is not yet complete.

We also had the Bank Holiday this week – not the easiest day for me as bathroom work was still in full fling and the hubster was out at work all day. In an ideal world we would do something fun together as a family on a bank holiday but in reality this rarely happens due to the hubster’s work commitments. We did have fun at the Bushy Park Woodland Gardens the day before with my Mum though, so it wasn’t a complete loss of time.

We finally booked our last term time holiday as a family of four this week – 7 nights in a beautiful child friendly holiday cottage on the North Norfolk coast. I know there is heaps to do up there with the kids and most exciting of all, we will get to stop in at the home of one of my oldest and bestest friends in the world in Suffolk on the way to and from our destination. I rarely get to see her and she now has three children herself with the newest addition joining the clan last November. I am really excited about this and its always lovely to have something nice to look forward to as you go about your normal day to day life. So that was the week that was…

Three little duckies

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This Sunday myself and the boys visited my Mum and Dad for the day. The hubster was working and the house is still somewhat chaotic with the ongoing work on the bathroom so it was nice to escape for a few hours. We decided that, due to the beautiful sunny weather we would take the boys over to the Woodland Gardens in Bushy Park – a place I have adored since I was a little child – essentially a magical woodland filled with (at this time of year) wall to wall purple rhododendron and many coloured azaleas, with the paths and walkways taking you this way and that, never sure whether you will end up in a woodland glade, adorned with bluebells, or at a lakeside vista, complete with totem pole! Pooh sticks and hide and seek behind the giant oak trees and in and out of the strange lands that exist underneath rhododendron bushes were the order of the day for me as a child.

Sadly some of the magic was a little lacking this time round as the powers that be have obviously decided that the rhododenron’s were due for a little crop and have razed vast patches to the ground leaving nothing but a few muddy stumps.

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One magic moment for us though, involved the discovery of a mother duck with her three fluffy ducklings – they were so tame – quite happy to have their photos taken – not so impressed by JJ chucking them some stalks of grass intead of a few juicy bugs or even some stale bread!

The kids were mesmerised.

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I had to pull out all the stops to get EJ to comply with my request to turn back and head for home – yep, that’s right I pulled out the ice cream card! “Ice Cream” is one of EJ’s only phrases (he’ll shout it out if he spots the right van!) and never have I seen such a prompt about turn!

*Apologies for the rough quality of these photos – I forgot to take my camera with me and this was the best I could muster with my Windows phone!

 


There’s no place like home…

There's no place like home

This week’s Theme Game theme is ‘home’. It’s funny how, no matter where I go, or where I live, or where I choose to settle, there is still a little corner of South West London which will always be my true home. My parents still live there, perhaps without them there it wouldn’t be the same. I know that when they sold my childhood home, 11 years ago now, I didn’t mourn for that particular house the way I thought I would.

But now, when I visit Teddington, Hampton Wick, Kingston, Richmond and Twickenham it does feel like going home. Places like Bushy Park (where I learned to ride my bike), The Teddington Cheese (which used to sell coal!), the Anglers pub down at Teddington Lock, the Broom Road ‘Wreck’ (as I always used to think it was spelled) where I swang almost high enough for my feet to touch the branches, before running down to the riverside to feed the ducks and make swings in the fronds of the many willow trees lining the banks, or climb into their gnarled branches for an impromptu picnic – all these places are a part of who I am.

I have seen the way Kingston town has developed and this sense of bearing witness to the history of a physical space makes it feel like home.

I remember once, when I was about 22, going with one of my best Uni friends to stay at her Grandad’s house in the mountains outside Perpignan on the French/Spanish border. He was a world renowned doctor and had another home in Paris. He had obviously travelled the world and lived in many places. We got talking and he asked me where in the world I had lived. At that point it was literally my childhood home in Teddington and my Uni digs in Brighton. He was shocked! I guess by my age he had travelled and moved around and re-located several times. For me though, that made him a nomad. I think there is something a little poignant in the expression ‘wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home’. It speaks of rootlessness and transience.

Last time we visited my Mum and Dad and passed through Teddington, I pointed out my old childhood home to JJ and explained that ‘that’s where Mummy grew up’. A few beats later he said ‘Mummy, is that where I grew up?’ and I had to explain that there was a time in my life when he didn’t exist, long before I ever met his father. I think this was a bit mind blowing for him and I’m not sure he accepts the validity of it even now!

It makes me feel a bit weird to think that his childhood memories will be of the town we live in now – about 30 miles from my old stomping ground. We have only lived here for 6 years and whilst I know a lot of this, and the surrounding areas, intimately, and feel AT home here, I don’t think I will ever think of it as my ‘True North’. But maybe my children will.

Underneath all of these ponderings though, I realise that home is where you feel safe and comfortable. And most importantly home is where your loved ones are to be found. Maybe, at the root of it all, ‘home’ is ultimately about people, and not about places at all…

 

The Reading Residence