The Final Countdown …

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Only a few more days now until I cycle off into the sunset with husband dearest and two adoring sons waving their handkerchiefs with damp eyes, gazing desolately at my lonely departing figure …

Or perhaps not?

“Pub?” I hear them ask each other, grinning widely.

“Let’s go!” and they march off smartish towards the nearest ale-house without a single look back at yours truly.

I somehow suspect that the latter scenario is infinitely more probable than the former.

Bastards! Ahh but they can now ditch the salad, eat chips, finish all the expensive ice creams and with no one to keep them on the straight and narrow, when I return, will I find an empty larder and only a small green morsel of mouldy cheese staring back at me from the fridge? Will I find that they have all developed rickets and scurvy? .. And will there be three inches of dust on every half-empty pizza box and penicillin-growing mug-covered table? Will I find dirty laundry spilling over onto the floor and not in their colour-coordinated baskets? Quelle horreur! Interesting how I am more concerned about the laundry than the scurvy, but I digress… How will they cope without me?!

Sadly, I flatter myself. My husband as most of you know is a military man. He requires order, precision and tidiness. I believe that his ideal picture of a perfect home is the one in “The Sound of Music” where Captain von Trapp blows a whistle daily and the children rush into line for inspection. I have mentioned this to him in jest, but instead of poo-pooing my theory, quite worryingly he nods and agrees, muttering to himself as he disappears into the quiet of the study. He does however then put his head around the door to remind me that he is of higher rank than a captain. Quite …

So no, rather irritatingly, I suspect that the house will be sparkling, the larder will have been reorganised, my herb and spices cupboard (a very irksome place for him, that he is usually barred from) will have been cleaned and all those tiny pots and jars which are usually out of date will have been mostly disposed of and the remaining ones placed, yes placed not shoved, with their caps on properly in perfect alignment and in alphabetical order. There will be none of my little hair bands, lipsalves or hand creams left on any surfaces (or in the car, dammit) and my bedside table, usually covered with books, clocks, photographs, more hand creams, eye creams, frankly any creams to help keep old age at bay, will have had a major overhaul, aka it will have been tidied within an inch of its unfortunate and usually cluttered life.

Do I mind this? Of course not! He will feel extremely satisfied as he explains to me the benefits of keeping order and how tarragon should be to the left of thyme, and how folding my clothes at the end of the day and placing them on the chair is infinitely preferable to ripping them off, randomly throwing them ‘nilly-willy’ in the vague direction of the chair and bouncing into bed chattering to him happily and trying to convince him that some rose-scented cream would benefit the lines on his forehead. He will mutter something about them being stress-related from living with me, but within a few minutes I shall be fast asleep, curled up close to him and he will have some long-awaited peace and quiet. No wonder he enjoys going to work so much, and quite probably why he is maybe just a teensy bit looking forward to my imminent departure. Can’t understand it myself.

Katie xx

How do you cope when your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend goes away?

Do you throw yourself into a cleaning frenzy, party for 48 hours non-stop or go into a complete decline?

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Passion!

cabbage white butterfly perching on purple flower in selective focus photography
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Time management is not my forte. In truth there is no management. I flit from one thought or task to another with extraordinary ease. I start something, bore easily, become distracted and like the proverbial butterfly, flutter away to something else. The end result? An over-filled brain of constant thoughts and ideas, and an awful lot of half-finished jobs.

An ex-boyfriend of mine (the same one who gave me the self-help book with post-it notes in the appropriate pages) told me that I was not a ‘Completer Finisher’. Apparently there is even a term for people like me! I finished with him pretty smartish so not quite sure he was entirely correct.

However, to contradict myself, from time to time I find something that I genuinely enjoy and lo and behold I become addicted. (If you know me well, alcohol may well spring to the forefront of your mind, but I was thinking of something more positive like, cycling perhaps.). I become obsessive about it and am completely driven and focused. This is all well and good if it’s a positive activity, not so much if it’s something like drinking alcohol, over-eating, under-eating, biting ones nails (having typed this, I now realise that I can lay claim to all of those). Once again, this rather reconfirms my out of kilter ability to moderate. Fair enough, my total lack of moderation.

My mother used to say, “A little of what you fancy does you good.” And yes she was right, but then again she wasn’t having to peel the wine bottle from my arms as I lay on the floor wailing. I do think however she wondered, and often despaired no doubt, as to why I hopped from one ghastly secretarial job to another. The answer, they bored me rigid.

People however have never bored me. I love talking (one on one, rather than in large groups … it’s a social anxiety thing). And most of all I love it when I meet someone whom I ‘click’ with. The problem is that I get terribly over-excited, want to scoop them up, take them home with me and force them to tell me their entire life history. Slightly strange I grant you and hardly surprising that I struggled socially in my youth. But I need interaction to other human beings, because otherwise I bore myself. And that is why I must go and get a job as soon as I’m back from my bicycling adventure. It’s when I try to engage the postman in some chatter and I can see his eyes glaze over as he backs nervously down the path, then I know that I have to get out more. I suspect he thinks I’m a complete fruitcake, but living in London I suspect, or rather hope, that I am not alone.

Online dating was enormous fun! Again lots of people to chatter to, but of course they were always utterly confused when after a lovely evening together and I had listened with enthusiasm to their various tales, I said, “Thanks awfully and super lovely to meet you, but we’re simply not a match! Toodle Pip!” And with a breezy smile I’d be gone, and they’d be left scratching their heads looking utterly baffled. You see, as a friend, they’re fabulous, but as a future husband, hopeless. By the time pudding had come along my mind was starting to wander, by coffee I was losing the will to live, so in order to find a lifetime partner (awful word, apologies) I was going to have to meet someone slightly extraordinary who kept me hooked, interested and completely on my toes. Thankfully for the male population of the counties of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Hampshire, after four long years of searching, I found The Colonel and we are both as nightmarish as each other, so really it’s a match made in heaven.

So you see this butterfly behaviour when I lose interest, and obsessional behaviour when I find my passion, is really rather an extension of my lack of moderation. I do wish that I was normal, but there is a positive here ….

Whilst a lot of things will find me filled with ennui at the tedium of it all – paperwork, political debates, Post Office queues and quinoa (I don’t do ‘bland’ and that’s at the top of my list, along with semolina), I do have passions and they include … you. I adore my WordPress friends, my non-Wordpress friends, blogging, writing, reading, cycling, tennis, quirky people and crumpets with masses of butter and a tiny dot of marmite. You are all my passion, not just for the here and now, but if you can possibly tolerate me and I don’t bore you senseless, then I’m afraid you’re stuck with me. Sorry about that …

Katie xx

Do you have a passion? Do you bore easily or are you disciplined and finish tasks?

Daydreams and Fantasies…

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I’m a bit of a dreamer, a daydreamer. I fantasise. I obviously need to clarify. Not in a kinky tie-me-up sort of way, no, so stop smirking.

I fantasise about having a pretty little stone house in France with long summers spent with family and friends, eating endless croissants with a table strewn with bowls of salads drizzled with olive oil, baguettes and cheeses. I see a sparkling swimming pool and numerous dogs playing chase with their tongues and tails waving in the dry, warm air, the sounds of a game of tennis interspersed with laughter and squeals of delight. I want it so much that I can almost feel the heat of the sun, touch the lavender in the flower beds, feel it, smell it. Bliss! Ahhhh I’m there!

It’s not completely out of reach. It’s not a “when I win the lottery ….”, it’s a possibility for in a few years time. There are of course problems associated with a big move like that, but the question is always the same. Do the pros outweigh the cons? And a firm and resounding yes can be heard from yours truly.

It’s not that I am discontented living in England and annoyingly I cannot, during this heatwave, even blame the usual atrocities of the weather here. This desire is perhaps associated with the people, the slightly more predictable climate in summer, it’s the thought of the plants I could grow, the peaches, tomatoes without a greenhouse! The quieter rural roads, it’s the beautiful language (“Kev! Put yur facking shoes on before I belt you one!” sounds so much better and more civilised in French), it’s the long lunches, the siestas, the cafes on the pavements, the black coffee and a Gauloise for breakfast, it’s the thought of tap, tap, tapping on my little computer at a little desk in the shade of a plum tree, listening to the chickens scuffling around in the flowerbeds as I write my book. It’s, yes … it’s just a dream. A very peaceful, happy dream that I’ve had for as long as I can remember.

“Pah!” I hear you snort!

“The fool! She’s seeing it all through rose-tinted spectacles! She’s just found an old copy of A Year in Provence. Doesn’t she know she’ll never integrate, never be quite fluent enough, never even look French.”

And yes, you’re quite probably right, but a girl can dream can’t she?

Katie xx

Do you dream of moving away? Of a different life? A different place? Where? How? What?

Anxiety and Followers …

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I try to be a good person. I try to think positive, happy thoughts and yet when I see some whipper-snapper of a teenager celebrating a little too keenly with the world of bloggers their 80,000 followers I don’t know whether I want to hit them, or myself, with a large shovel … repetitively.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted for them (truly, not said from between clenched teeth) and frankly if I had that many followers I’d probably be thanking my vast audience, my family, my agent, publisher and the lady who sells ice creams down the road with great gusto, but …. but … but … Ok, let’s face it, I’m jealous. My name is Katie and I am a jealous human being. Not an attractive trait I am fully aware, but honest? Yes. (Note to self: Just because you’re honest, it doesn’t make it less unattractive Katie.)

So why do we want followers, how do we actually get them and does it really matter anyway?

As with all social media there is something rather lovely, however ultimately addictive, about other people gushingly adoring us. It makes us feel good. Human nature.

And who are the real biggies of the social media out there? Quite easy really … Now forgive me but I’m not a great lover of the Kardashian’s, the TOWIE bunch, the Made in Chelsea lot or any of the wannabes who are plastered over every magazine. I don’t want or need to see their latest plastic surgery or their most recent tattoo on their perfectly liposucked buttock. And I certainly don’t want to see or hear about their sexual adventures with every other member of the group or their undignified divorce. There’s sharing, and there’s sharing. How about a little decorum, decency and leaving just a tiny bit to the imagination. It’s a lot more attractive. So moving away from that rant as I’m going slightly off piste and just sounding old and stuffy.

It might be that we are trying to get a book published and we therefore need a good following as it will make us more attractive to publishers. Understandable. If we are trying to get a business off the ground, understandable. A new career, understandable. Although if only half of those 80,000 followers commented, quite how one is supposed to read, let alone comment-on-the-comments, I have no idea. I have just shy of 600 followers and it takes me a while to respond even vaguely intelligently (of course including emojis as an intelligent reply), to the comments that I get. So how do they do it?

Perhaps the ‘blogger biggies’ have been doing this for years. Perhaps they started tap tap tapping away on their phones when they were still in nappies and I was, well I was probably too busy changing nappies to notice. They were ahead of the times. I was busy being a mother, wife, un-wife (yes it’s a new word), single parent, single working parent, unhinged single working parent, to even notice that the world had moved on.

In fairness, I have been blogging now for precisely six months. Six rather short months so yes, I will not-so-happily but freely admit that I need a little patience. It may well be a virtue, but I am fairly patiently-challenged without a doubt. So indeed, I need to work on that one.

I obviously need to read more from other bloggers, but I love the ones that I follow, they take a bit of time to read and comment on and once again, it’s a time thing. There’s only so much time in one day. But if the biggie bloggers can manage it, then maybe I need to work on that too.

Maybe I need to rethink my content. Maybe it’s … *hushed whisper* … shite! Oh God! I’m writing shite! Yup, that may well be. However, I’m a simple creature and I don’t think much therefore is going to change in that department.

But in truth, I do love writing my shite and golly it makes me feel good when my lovely, scrumptious followers who I now feel are my friends, comment back and we chatter about random nonsense. Oh yes, you make me happy. So if I had 80,000 would I honestly be able to chatter and natter with that many people. No, of course not!

So should I start posting extremely airbrushed photos of myself. Should I pout, preen and squeeze my elbows together in my best push-up bra whilst wearing my one and only pair of Jimmy Choos? Should I just borrow a couple of baby Chihuahuas and stick them down my front instead. Probably get a lot more likes that way.

But perhaps I have the answer.

I should pause, relax and enjoy the journey of my writing. It’s not a competition, some were in the starting blocks before I even began looking for my trainers. I genuinely like my regular followers, the ones that I know do actually read what I’ve written. There are a few whom I almost love. I love that they have become part of my life. And so yes, thank you, you lovely people. I shall try to be patient, try to write better, try to read more and comment more without letting everything else in my life slip by the wayside; after all, the Colonel does still need feeding and clean underpants daily. But most importantly, I shall breathe, calm myself and continue to enjoy this wonderful, liberating world of blogging.

Katie xx

Do you have 80,000 followers? If so, umm sorry about this post. Love you really, and umm not at all jealous.

Any suggestions? Thoughts? Rants?

Wild Dreams.

adult beautiful blue eyes book
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Well, it’s begun. I’ve started the book.

Strangely, despite thinking that this is what authors required, I didn’t have to have total silence, a large vat of proper coffee, all in a beautiful summerhouse at the bottom of a perfectly manicured garden complete with Mac computer, mini fridge and the requisite six packets of ginger nuts available to nibble on, or rather, devour. No.

In actual fact, I was on a rather hot and steamy underground train, tapping away on my phone with a gentleman’s less than savoury armpit six inches from my face and a small child with a scooter cracking it into my shins every two minutes.

I think that I’ve had a rather childish dream of writing romantic novels (please note the use the word ‘novels’ rather than ‘books’; I am nothing if not ambitious, also rather deluded), yes, romantic novels in a perfect little setting where the sun always shines and a proud husband occasionally taps tentatively on the door with offerings of pots of tea or lunch on a tray for his hard working and tremendously successful wife, The Novelist. Oooh yes, I’m warming to my theme! Visions of sitting holding court on Graham Norton’s sofa are springing to mind; lunches with Stephen Fry to discuss plot lines and evenings with previous Nobel Prize winners in literature ….. ooooh yes! (Or do you have to be dead to be a winner?? Might have to rethink that one…)

But just momentarily back to reality as The Colonel (aka Husband Dearest) marches up the stairs wearing nothing but a pair of pants and one sock, peers around the bedroom door to see me tapping away in bed, glasses perched on the end of my nose and muttering like a faintly mad thing.

“Do we actually have any clean socks in this house, or shall I wear a pair of the boys Star Wars ones for meeting the General this morning?” A rather withering look from him, a muffled yelp from yours truly from beneath the soft feathery down of the duvet and I bound out of bed in search of clean socks and an ironed shirt and revert guiltily back to wifely duties.

I clearly have ideas substantially above my station, those of grandeur and success. I am also, as most of you know, slightly unhinged. But, if you can’t dream then how does one progress?

So I shall continue to dream about summerhouses, expensive computers and a housekeeper perhaps to ensure that clean and ironed laundry is continually available to every member of the family, and possibly guests as well.

But one thing I don’t need to dream about is writing. I don’t need to dream about the pleasure that writing actually gives me. And if finally, a long way down the road I manage to finish such a thing as a book, then yes, my dreams will have come true. And perhaps meeting Graham Norton and Stephen Fry will have to just wait for another day.

Katie x

What do you dream of? Do you dream of writing a book … ? What’s stopping you? Xx

Anxiety and … Painting!

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I’m used to bringing up little boys. I love the black and white simplicity of how they view the world. I like the straightforward feed, water, love, exercise, boundaries and sleep way of bringing them up. Forget one of those necessities however and World War 3 is on the doorstep, but generally, I stuck to those guidelines with consistent regularity and they appeared to thrive.

It’s a noisy existence however bringing up boys. No such thing as a quiet bath on your own. Honestly whoever writes these ridiculous articles about candles and bubble baths and a good book …. For God’s sakes! I tried that many a time. In fact the boys even once made a bath for me, how sweet they were. It was only when I was lying there admiring my perfect children and wondering how they they had managed to get quite so many bubbles not just in the bath, but exploding out onto the floor and beyond onto the landing outside that they happily told me that they had used Fairy Liquid. Nice.

And as for candles in the bathroom … Pah! Boys appear to have a fascination with fire. Do you know how difficult it is to put out a burning loo roll which your youngest has been playing with whilst yours truly lies in the bath oblivious. Oh yes, you just throw it in the bath with me. Of course.

And in fact more often than not, I’d have ended up with two little boys joining me plus the contents of the Lego basket and their grubby little knees as we’d squeeze in together. But we laughed, oh how we laughed.

Girls however I’m not used to. Less black and white, more grey, mauve and yellow and every shade in between.

I took them (and the Colonel, poor bloke) shopping yesterday to spend some holiday money. I managed to escape briefly as I found a wonderful little shop with mainly men’s socks, ties, and sarongs etc in. The elderly couple who were in charge of it whilst their son was busy in the stock room, were chatting very easily and I mentioned that I’d momentarily escaped.

“Stepchildren?” she asked.

“Girls?” she asked. She sucked through her teeth and then simply said, “They’ll hate you!”

We then both gaffawed loudly together with interestingly her husband nodding rather enthusiastically as well. She explained that in order to be liked by a) the stepchildren and b) the ex-wife, you have to be a minimum of 4 stone overweight, have very deep pockets and the ability to spend 2 hours looking around one shop for a specific type of hair clip that is to go with a certain outfit otherwise the world is going to end.

Well, if I continue eating my ginger nuts at the rate of … well let’s just say the Colonel had to wrestle them off me last night … then I shall indeed manage to enhance the old muffin tops which my delightful boys pointed out a few weeks ago. I don’t have very deep pockets, but am good at improvising and as for looking for hair clips? No, I’d have to compromise there and keep it to within one hour.

So, after a rather unsuccessful shopping trip yesterday, I engaged them in painting. I found an old tin of watercolour paints, some paper and pencils and together we set to. We sat in the shade in the garden, sipping on orange squash and nibbling (a few) ginger nuts whilst they dipped brushes in colour and enjoyed a few hours of complete tranquility. Honestly, it was bliss. I did a pencil drawing of a robin and was completely immersed.

I know that it is often suggested to those who suffer from anxiety to try drawing or painting and now I get it. It’s like complete therapy. I wasn’t even irritated that I had forfeited watching Nadal at Wimbledon! The girls and I were happy. There’s a lot to be said for this simple activity.

So next time you’re trying to have a peaceful little tiddle on the loo without a plastic machine gun peeking round the door of the bathroom and you’re being riddled with open fire of spongy bullets and your nerves are in shreds, panic not! You can get out the paint pots. Of course with boys, you might end up with more paint around the house than you’d bargained for, but it will make wonderful and unforgettable memories. Heaven, complete and utter heaven.

Katie x

When you’re feeling anxious what do you do? Have you tried this painting lark??

Ps Pls forgive any typos, am typing in haste as Westfield Shopping Centre is beckoning … only a couple of hair clips to search for …

Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder!

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The kitchen timer shows 14 minutes to go …

Actually 13 now because I’ve been pondering about a title, but hopefully that will come …

I am dyeing my hair. I’m what a nice, kind person would call a strawberry blonde and my husband calls ginger.

In fact he calls me an Orangutan because I apparently have hairy arms and sleep with them behind my head with my knees up. Marvellous. Some things one can do nothing about, some however, you can.

We were on the tube the other day and I pointed out a rather beautiful girl with the most heavenly deep red hair. My sister’s was like that as a child and I’ve always thought it was gorgeous.

“Isn’t she stunning!” I whispered to him nodding in her direction. He glanced briefly up from his paper, looking over his glasses.

“Nobody can say that a ginga is stunning.” He replied bluntly and carried on with his reading. He does tend to call a spade a spade.

At this point I walloped him with my copy of The Evening Standard. His eyes widened and he looked baffled.

“What?” He yelped. I’m only saying the truth.”

“Pah!” I snort as frankly I could think of absolutely nothing to retort back to my gingerist husband. But it made me think … if he thinks I’m an orangutan and therefore a bit of a ginga, maybe it’s time for a wee change.

The smell of what I imagine is ammonia is hideous … every now and then wafts of it dart up my nostrils making my eyes water and my head jerk back. So now I not only smell pretty grim, but also have tears down my cheeks and am twitching. Rabid dog springs to mind. I’ll let you know if I start foaming at the mouth.

Thin plastic gloves falling off, leaning over the bath, water everywhere, ammonia making my eyes now stream, … I wonder if this gets into my eyebrows then I’ll match …

20 Minutes Later …

I walk into the kitchen where the Colonel is sitting. I think he can smell me before he sees me. Clearly ammonia lingers.

He sees me, sits up rather straight and slowly a long smile fills his face. Oh yes! Result!

It’s now a lopsided grin … Game, set and match to me! I feel fabulous! Claudia Schiffer eat your heart out!

He now looks slightly demented and is getting a tad overexcited. Calm yourself sir! Where’s the damn Evening Standard when you need one? I think he needs a good wallop or … something like that … But golly, there are children in the house and anyway that darn ammonia has given me a headache! It’s not often I hear him say, “Pah!” He scoops me up, ice blonde hair and all, and giggling we fall up the stairs …

Katie x

Have you ever changed your appearance radically?? How did it make you feel?