It would be a spectacular disappointment if I’d allowed myself expectations. I’ve lived through enough UK summers, though, to have formulated none at all. And because I’ve still only been back a year, I haven’t really minded the more or less total failure of summer to appear. Continue reading “Neighbourhood watching”
To begin with it feels nothing but alien, its spaces clean and bleak and anodyne. Nothing is intuitive or familiarly located; every task requires conscious navigation. I feel weary beyond the physical, as if the sheer newness of everything takes effort to process; as if the energy of rolling with every minor adjustment and improvisation compounds into serious exertion. I’m a stand-up paddleboarder, making the countless tiny corrections just to stay upright that amount to a full-body workout. Continue reading “Life overboard”
Toaster jug iron vacuum cleaner laundry basket laundry rack towels duvet inners x3 fitted sheets x3 duvet covers x2+ pillows x2 pillowcases mattress protectors mirror coat hangers kitchen bin bucket broom bedside lamp oven mitt tea towels dish rack dinner set cutlery set mugs water glasses salad bowl pasta pot frying pan grater potato peeler colander bread knife paring knife scissors bottle opener tin opener chopping board pepper grinder bread tin roasting tin baking sheet wooden spoons serving spoon fish slice ladle tongs masher.
We manage about half of it on the first trip to Ikea. We get in and out in under four hours, which includes lunch (though not the hour on the bus there), and we only lose one child once, for half an hour. Continue reading “Ready to roll… again”
Stability. Settledness. A mostly predictable order to things.
It lasts about four days.
It’s the first week of my new nannied-up routine and I’m just relaxing into the roomy new shape of my week when the email arrives from the letting agent. The landlords won’t be renewing our lease in June. Continue reading “Unfortunately, fortunately”
We need an after-school kid looker-afterer! Our boys say they don’t need nannying, they don’t want to be babysat, and they don’t much like the sound of being minded. But they do need someone there when they get home from school, to ask about their day, stop them bingeing on biscuits and fighting, kick a ball around sometimes and gently bully them into their homework and chores. You’ll need plenty of patience and the ability to be firm when they push it… Continue reading “Nanny status”
“It’s too early to be getting up,” say my sons, dragging themselves out of bed in the 7am dark: these boys who till recently rarely slept past six.
The first week of January comes as a minor shock to us all. Surely we can’t be expected to go back to work and school so soon after Christmas? Continue reading “A new groove”
This is where the emigrating shit gets real: when you pack your kids off to a strange school in a strange country, where along with the unfamiliar faces so much else is foreign too: the accents, the vocabulary, the routines, the things that everyone else seems to know by osmosis but no one quite explains. Continue reading “The rubber hits the road”
The beginning of the holidays, instead of smoking the kids out of the neighbouring houses, seems to make them vanish altogether. Where have they all gone, we wonder – off to the seaside, perhaps, or Spain, or to visit their grandparents in Lincolnshire, or to school holiday programmes or whatever working Londoners do with their kids over the summer. Continue reading “Funny bone”
Normal summer transmission resumes and London goes back to being grey and warmish and intermittently drizzly. We settle into a routine: Hapless heading off for the daily commute, the rest of us tackling ‘summer school’ – a little daily homeschooling and light masochism. Continue reading “Ball games”
The boys and I arrive at Heathrow at midday on a sweltering Friday in late June. Emerging sweaty and exhausted from the brutal half-hour Customs queue, we spy Hapless waving bashfully from the crowd at the Arrivals barrier. Continue reading “Hello, London”