Monday, 16 March 2009

Half term: theoretical gardening, singing, dogs and more theoretical gardening

We are having a week off school, so the boys are entertaining themselves. I write a list of (minor) chores for them each day; otherwise, they are on their own, apart from a few scheduled activities.

8-9: Calvin's still asleep. Hobbes reads in bed for a bit, then makes himself breakfast and feeds the dog. He feeds his online virtual pets for ten minutes too.

9-10: Calvin wakes up and the boys muck about in the sitting room for a while. I tell them to go to their rooms if they want to fight. I notice enormous holes in Calvin's socks:

Laura: Please take off your socks and put them in the bin.
Calvin: Yes, I quite like the way that the patch of skin sets off the colour of the socks.
Laura: In the bin please.
Calvin: Who ever looks at the bottom of my feet?
Laura: In the bin please.

The boys want to have an hour playing on the Wii. I tell Calvin to eat breakfast first. They start getting rambunctious again and I lay down rules for the holiday: I won't force them to run every day (as they do in term time) so long as they keep their outpourings of energy to their bedrooms or garden.

Laura: There's a whole world outside for you to discover.
Calvin: There are about a thousand of them in the library.

Calvin goes to the kitchen, then comes back to say there's nothing he wants to eat. He gets short shrift and is told to add any requests to the shopping list. He comes back again to tell me that I've eaten all the yoghurt. Short shrift again (mother is allowed to eat; it wasn't all the yoghurt).

Hobbes is reading a Marvel encyclopedia. He asks what 'intangible' means.

Calvin comes back and apologises for complaining. He's told it's not a big deal, but to try not to do it again.

10-12: Calvin eats breakfast and the boys unpack and repack the dishwasher. They then spend an hour playing on their Wii. I take a shower, then retire to Calvin's bedroom to practice for the concert that my choir is performing on Saturday. We are singing Bach's Passion According to St John. The choruses and chorales ring in my ears all day long ('Write thou not, write thou not....' 'Crucify him, crucify him...' 'Lie still, lie still....'). I read St John's account in the King James version with the boys last week, and was struck by how terse it is.

Calvin's bedroom overlooks the patio. I am distracted by the (lack of) planting in the garden. I've been watching Alan Titchmarsh's television series, 'How to be a gardener'. He calls this style of garden 'centrifugal' - all the plants have spun out to the boundaries. There's a thin line of planting around each obstruction (edge of patio, boundary fence, house, stray boulder) but none of it means anything. There's no shape or interest. It needs a lot of work.

12 - 3: We eat a hurried lunch (whole grain pasta mixed with tinned mackerel, along with steamed broccoli and an orange) before I take Blondie off to the groomer. The groomer is very chatty, so I call the boys when I've dropped Blondie off, as I've been away a little longer than I expected. There's no answer, so I call again. Still no answer. I realise that I'm going to have to go home straight away to check on them. It's very unlikely that there's a problem (beyond living in an old house with thick walls through which you can't hear the phone) but home I go. They are, of course, fine - reading and playing. While home I disinfect Blondie's carrying crate and wash all her bedding.

Hobbes comes with me when I go back to get Blondie; I like driving with just one of the boys - we have good conversations in between listening to my CD of the St John. Hobbes helps me to hold Blondie while the groomer gets gunk out of her ears.

On the way home, we stop off at the railway station to buy tickets for the boys to go to Chinese school on Saturday with their dad (I have choir rehearsal that afternoon). The nice lady in the ticket office works round the system so that we can get reserved seating despite using a cheap ticket. Hobbes talks to an elderly lady in the queue.

3-4:15: I work on some home education issues: Calvin's maths curriculum needs some consideration. I send and receive a few emails, and finally decide to try Life of Fred for him. I am also looking into geography IGCSE. The boys romp in the garden.

4:15 - 5:20: I suddenly realise that I will have to start cooking again at 4:30, so carve out fifteen minutes to read my How to Be a Gardener book, which arrived today; the boys received a Wii manual by the same post - they clubbed together to put their savings towards it - so they are studying that. Then it's a quick supper (shop-bought steak pudding with sugar snap peas and an apple) and we are on the road.

5:20 - 8:15: Chess club. It's a 40 minute drive each way. The boys are greeted by the high concentration of long-haired boys that constitutes the chess club; I take the opportunity to do the weekly shop. I discover a new horror in the freezer compartment at the supermarket: chips (french fries) in batter.

8:15 - 12:45: Home again, home again, jiggety jig. The boys have a snack and take showers while I go to the WTM boards. We call husband, who is in the US visiting his parents. Then I snuggle Hobbes into bed. Calvin and I stay up watching, yes, an episode of 'How to Be a Gardener', followed by The Nature of Britain. I see him off to bed, take the dog out, then type these last thoughts.


  1. Ah the 'centrifugal' garden. The house we are renting has one of those.
    I love your life-in-a-day. I am glad to see I am not the only one who gets accused of eating.

  2. I like the sound of tempura potato julienne - an oriental ring to a Scottish obsession.