Got all three to step outside tonight with dog, me and a boomerang.
Up on a hill, long grass, a warm breeze.
And big sky.
Fill me with coffee.
Keep it going.
Right to the top.
After a long sunny day, the old paving slabs out the front of the house stay warm throughout the evening, long after the sun has gone down.
It feels wonderful on your feet.
Myles’ brother left his house for the last time today.
Long steps, hat off, the funeral director bows his head. The hearse leaves the house slowly, slowly down the steep hill to a small ceremony of fifteen at the crematorium. There can be no more.
The escort of twenty Welsh Water vans and the children in their rugby shirts waving from the sunny streets.
Goodbye Hugh, Swansea turned out for you today.
Thank you for always reading my blog.
Heaven has a huge cheeseboard but don’t eat the chives, your Dad picked them.
Rest in peace.
Gruff loves maths, he loves numbers. He hates writing but loves to scrawl, (there’s hope there…)
Anyhow, the moment every great mathematician dreams of.
This particular problem to solve was four days of scribbling on sheets of paper, vast amounts of midget gems eaten and a refusal to give up.
I had no part in his struggle, I was kicked out of my studio.
He got there! What a moment.
This birthday is very different this year.
No party*, no shopping trip, no friends and not very many presents and a global pandemic. It’s a bit rubbish.
I promise you that the postman has got a bit lost and I’m sure that the present I ordered will be here very soon…
In the meantime, let me remind you how utterly lovely you are and how unique you are. Please don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
There are many people on this planet but I got one of the very best the day you were born and I knew it (even though at the time I still didn’t know how to do your nappy, you always gave me the look that it would be alright).
I will always love you for being you.
*I did make a cake and so far the cat hasn’t eaten it.
I was going to write about the afternoon I spent in my greenhouse.
But Bonnie has beaten me with her enormous crater she dug that will fit all of the plants I’ve been growing in one go.
White feathers and white blossom in the air this morning.
It has been an awful week. The very worse.
The air is too heavy.
Weekly shop time.
I was doing well until I lost my pound for the trolley so had to make two trips with a basket, queued up twice to get in and queued up twice to get everything on my list.
No one can go near anyone else, one person in at a time. It’s pleasant enough but it’s strange and I cried when the announcement was made over the speaker system.
No one else looked up so I got away with it, felt a bit stupid crying amongst the dairy produce but I suppose I didn’t cry around the beer or I’d had just looked like a desperado needing her Special Brew.
I forgot the beer too.
School work is proving hard to negotiate. Everyone is having the same issue, we just have to be patient but that’s hard too when you’re not sure what you need to be doing.
It’s like being cast adrift right now. I’m sure we’ll find our new normal but right now we’re a bit lost.
Emotions are pressure cooker high and they need releasing. Sometimes you just need to cry, that’s okay you know?
Because quite frankly it’s really rubbish right now. You may insert a stronger expletive if necessary.
The dry weather we have had since the middle of March has no sign of letting up. We are no strangers to rain in Swansea, I have often joked that a day without rain is indeed a drought around these parts.
Spring has unfolded itself, pretty much rain free and the longer days and warm sunshine have made this lock-down feel most surreal.
The dry streets, now littered with plastic don’t feel like Wales. There are few puddles. The grass is growing, the trees have leaves again and there is blossom.
The birdsong is easier to hear with less cars on the road and the jackdaws flock on the rooftops in full nesting fever. There isn’t a chimney around here without a battle of black wings and chattering.
Just the humans, locked up, safe from the world.
Dog has noticed I’m up and has come out for a sniff.
Television off very quickly as news shows a higher death total.
Got Evie to trim my hair as it’s fast growing, I think she did a marvellous job and I’m now going to tie it back for another *six months.
*by then hopefully we’ll see the hairdressers open again.
There was a mass singing of the Welsh National anthem tonight at eight o clock, everyone was to stand on their doorsteps and sing for Wales and all key workers.
I bellowed it out at only a key that humpback whales and sonar can understand.
To everyone else it was painful and very annoying but I think the whole street appreciated my efforts.
I feel better now.
Weirdest Easter Sunday ever. Evie shook her head while removing a rather lovely large chocolate egg from it’s cardboard home.
I think that sums up the last month Evie.
Very, very weird.
I can’t articulate more than that today as a mini fog has set up camp in my brain leaving all household tasks half done or very badly done. I look like the hedge monster and I haven’t even drunk a full cup of tea today.
I’ve sat on the sofa being slowly licked by the dog for an entire film and not moved.
My walk with dog this evening was weird, There was falling paper in the air, coming from an evening bonfire. Fluttering around me as I walked, still smoking.
The cat we saw up the lane was weird, all lion like and bright ginger. It looked at me like the Cheshire Cat would, I swore it grinned at me (or maybe that was the whiff of marijuana in the air from an open window up the street).
I took two attempts to draw my drawing tonight.
Ah this fog can go do one, send me a breeze please.
Myles attached an old plant pot with an old viking shield to make a basket ball hoop onto the side of my studio today.
Gruff has not stopped all afternoon. Evie and Millie have played with it too.
Within the course of the afternoon various toys experienced the joy of being hurled through the hoop and being fished out of the compost heap (which is to the side of my studio).
Gruff is now filthy from fishing things out of the compost heap and his feet are black from being barefoot all day.
The laughter and cackles were wonderful to hear.
Head full of headlines and frustration.
Social media full of new experts and opinions that make my head spin.
I should be sleeping now but I’m not.
Fourth week inside now and the cold screen of my mobile at three o clock in the morning is full of the same headlines the World over. My stomach left the building two hours ago and I’m not sure when it’s coming back.
Nothing I can do.
Stay home, stay safe but stay sane?
I hope so.
It’s not Christmas day.
We don’t have presents or a roast Turkey.
No tree with decorations.
But the Queen’s on the telly so be quiet I want to listen, this is historic, she doesn’t normally do this.
Who’s turn is it to make the tea?
I want a bourbon biscuit with that please.
The sun was beaming through the windows this morning.
Gruff and myself were up early. We’re both early risers so the pair of us tinker about (him with the animals, me with coffee), before the rest of the house wakes up.
Some school writing briefly with his bright red pen and then out into the garden where he has made a comfy chair for himself in the sunshine.
He hasn’t been outside for a few weeks now. I know we have the garden but it makes me feel sad when I think that the last time he was outside in the world was at school with all his friends.
Not going out again, ah well, good old sofa it is then. Move over, don’t spill your tea and get the dog off the sofa please.
The World is in captivity, closed in, shut down, no go.
We will paint Rainbows in our windows.
We will plant seeds in our gardens.
We will thrive on ten cups of tea a day and that forgotten pack of bourbon biscuits at the bottom of the draw in the kitchen.
We will watch the news on repeat, looping around until the information spills back out the other ear.
We will wonder what day it is, even though it isn’t Christmas.
We will stop buying.
We will stop.
Came outside and stood on the doorstep with my coffee this morning.
Just the wind and an army of jackdaws claiming chimneys for nests.
The clocks have moved forward for springtime, it feels pointless. I hardly know what day it is, a bit like Christmas holidays when you’re all stuck in the house but with less chocolate, more cabin fever and a nasty virus pandemic sweeping the globe.
The death toll has risen again this morning.
I sip my coffee and wonder where I’ve put my hairbrush.
My evening walk tonight was even quieter than last night. Hardly any traffic on our street lined with terrace houses and neatly stacked recycling bags of tins and bottles and grass cuttings from today’s lawn mowing. A broken mower has been dumped outside one house, its electrical cord hanging, severed after a mishap when someone decided looking the other way to the electric mower would be okay.
The electronic billboard wasn’t working tonight and I was glad not see the Covid 19 symptom advert. There has been news saturation for me today. Too many people still flocking in groups to enjoy the beautiful spring sunshine and infecting each other amid images of Italian and Spanish hospitals.
Tonight the easterly wind moves up the main road free from cars and carries the scent of fire from the hill over the valley. As the hill looms into view, the huge fire burning looks eerily beautiful and I take time out to watch the flames and smell the air.
My walk brings me to our local play park which has today been sealed up with red stripey tape and a notice.
The parks are closed in the city as of today to prevent the spread of the virus. The council says it is because the virus lives on metal and surfaces and therefore children are likely to spread it when they play outside.
My throat still hurts from last week but I feel well and the children are well which is a relief. We played in the garden today as our world became even smaller around us.
First time shopping after being in quarantine for a week and the world’s gone bonkers.
Queued to get in the supermarket this morning before it opened. People stood there coughing, sneezing and talking.
Once the shop opened a tense huddle formed at the opening of the shop as people politely but hurriedly grabbed their trolleys and baskets and rushed with quiet pace around the store.
I bought coffee, fruit and some croissants. I looked at the spaces on shelves where there were tins and couldn’t for the life of me remember what was there before.
I still forgot what I came in for too.
But I’m not going back for a few days.
I’m walking the dog later at night so I can stay away from people.
I noticed a new electronic billboard being installed the other night. The first adverts are ringing out the message.
It is here and it is spreading so very fast.
We are in a new world right now. The new buzzwords are self-isolation, quarantine and death toll.
My children are making rainbows to put in the window today as the sun shines and the death toll mounts.
I lost my temper today. The type where your fingers shake. The reason wasn’t anything to do with my family nor anything that had happened in the house.
As we are self isolating, we are all in the house so the telephone call I was making was overheard by everyone and repeated to me word by word afterwards by my kids who thought Mam had handled herself admirably.
I tried to stay calm but a single sentence during this phone call sparked a fury in me that even surprised myself and I’m ashamed to say I erupted and hit the roof.
There really was no justification for my outburst so I removed myself upstairs and I tried my best to do some yoga. The cat cuddles from Renee helped more today but It was nice to do some flows and calm down.
Keeping active is important to me and has helped enormously over the years to help me and has evolved into me realising I am capable of so much more (but that’s a whole other blog).
We had a meat delivery today from a local butcher so we have food again and we are stretching out what we do have. It saddens me to hear that the panic buying is continuing. We all need to eat but we all need to get a little more inventive right now with what we have.
I’m quite down right now but I’m sure five minutes of dog licking my face will snap me out of it.
The kids are great and very positive, I’m very proud but I think today I’ve let my positive crown slip. Tomorrow will be better.
What I tell my little ones as they drag themselves into Monday.
Anything else can wait.
Anything else is just that.
I think the girls out did themselves this year. Evie’s wig was spectacular and Renee worked that Halloween cat vibe like the sassy puss she is. Millie ever resplendent as a 1920’s flapper girl.
(Wondering how long that feather will last with two cats in the house though).
I’ve just been looking through all my drawings on Doodlemum. There’s so many now. (2285 posts so at least that many drawings so far). It’s really made me quite proud I’ve kept going.
Anyhow, Evie has now turned twelve so here’s an Evie montage of my beautiful, sassy, fiery book monster!
Enjoy this selection of drawings of her over the years.
Angie bakes six layers of different coloured sponge cake and leaves them to cool on the kitchen counter.
Renee cat comes along and takes a nibble out of EACH layer.
A) The level of swearing from Angie at the discovery of nibbled cake.
B) The exact percentage of remaining cake.
C) The exact amount of extra buttercream needed to cover the nibbled cake.
D) The amount of tea needed to calm Angie down.
There are morning people and there are people who shouldn’t see morning at all.
Evie started her transition week for high school today. I remember drawing about her first adventures in school when I first started the blog.
And now there she is off to new ones.
And I’m reaching for the higher strength glasses to draw about it.
Spent most of it trying to remove a pair of knickers that got rammed down the vacuum cleaner.
It’s time for GCSE revision. Time to revise for the exams that are looming fast after the Easter holidays. Time to focus on being something in the world that holds weight through a grade.
If you have a young person about to sit exams, remember to cut them some slack over the coming months. They have a lot going on in their heads to deal with and the best thing you can do as a parent is to be that wall for them to bounce off.
And don’t forget to tell them that this isn’t the end of the world, it’s just the beginning. Even if the sun is shining outside and they’re stuck in a stuffy exam hall, it will be over very soon.
Doodlemum book is six years old now!
Six years ago, a wonderful, extraordinary thing happened. Doodlemum got published in a book. Here you can see my grinning face as I signed my very first book for a friend. It felt wonderful.
So why was it extraordinary? Good question and if you have ever had the time to trawl your way back through the 2250 posts that I had placed drawings onto, you can see my journey from a shell shocked mum who just wanted to tell someone about how boring mopping the floor was.
I started Doodlemum as a way to cope with lots of things, and I still do use it as a means to talk about my funny, ordinary world in my way.
You see, when you write about things in your way, it becomes special. It grows arms and legs, pictures appear and stories happen. You stop caring about what others think and you run with your imagination and your pen.
Not only did my progress as an artist develop but my abilities and confidence did too. At the time I started the blog, I was quite depressed and very sleep deprived, there wasn’t much confidence there.
Today is a very different picture I am drawing, I have confidence in my own abilities but that doesn’t mean I go around shouting about it, I sit down and draw and write (and sometimes I do other extraordinary stuff but that will be a whole other blog that will be coming soon).
So happy book anniversary and please, whatever you do, always grab onto your dreams and if you can, run with them with all that you have because you never know where they will take you and it is always worth the risk.
Gumball decided she was off to bigger pastures this morning. Never nice when they go.
We go way back the moon and me. I’ve walked many times in the dark over the years when the moon has been high and bright in the sky.
One night, I walked up the garden in my pyjamas, clutching a howling newborn. The moonlight was a welcome distraction whilst I soothed my little bundle of noise.
Some nights, the sky has been filled with the noise of drunks singing, some nights have been filled with barking dogs and other nights, there was simply the whisper of trees and wind.
One full moon, I heard the shrieks of a tawny owl over a floodlit valley.
I’ve huddled under a bridge while the moon shone, hoping my problems would melt away but it just shone as close as it could to my crouching figure in the shadows.
And one time, I walked in despair, neither caring nor looking and the moon continued to shine.
Last night I walked in the cold, solstice, moonshine and it shone right through me and dog for our whole walk.
I was taking a walk with an old friend you see.
I’m sure there are many people taking a walk tonight to escape this time of year and I hope they find their answers under the moon or at least know they are not alone.
Wishing you all a peaceful time at mid winter. To moonlit nights.
New cat, how will this one fare with a nice, sparkly tree?
Answers on a postcard…
I wake up in the morning and he’s visibly taller.
Installing Gruff, version 9.0 complete with sword upgrade.
Happy birthday bigger dude, you make me ridiculously proud to be your mum.
This one’s for the mums. We are all bonkers and amazing. Love to all mums doing their best to just get through the day in the hope that tomorrow they will find the floor free of toys and lego. Hold fast.
How on earth did Evie get to be eleven? Time has galloped at breakneck speed and I now have a beautiful, passionate, blue eyed artist with a love of books, drawing and cake.
Happy birthday Evie. Stay fluffy, always.
I’ve been looking at all my drawings of Bonnie and thought you might enjoy this little selection of her best moments.
Bonnie, the hurricane, the bottomless pit, the legend, my girl. Still ever the wiggle machine and all round stinkpot of love.
Evie is writing a list of things she might like for her birthday.
Gruff is making helpful suggestions.
Wondering if shell get a nice, shiny sword is something Gruff might wait a long time to see…
I suppose Evie is right. Technically it is on her body, therefore she is wearing her coat.
I am not happy.
Didn’t think our new kitty was a lap cat. She just decided I’d do for now until I vacated her chair.
Our new puss has quite a penchant for little toys. She has already amassed an impressive collection of little fabric mice, stars and patchwork, catnip hearts.
They are stored in a little plastic tub every night and every night, when everyone is asleep, Renee starts her fun.
One by one, each little toy is carefully removed and starts it’s journey through the kitchen, into the lounge and up the stairs…so that in the morning we are greeted by a scattering of little soggy presents on the landing.
Even Bonnie is not forgotten, she normally gets a nice feather in her water bowl
And so, every morning, I bring down the little collection back to its box so Renee can do it all again.
Stretching out forever. Summer holidays have arrived for my lot. No school for six weeks and the sun is shining.
Breathe the free air Evie. Breathe it in.
Lovely to see Gruff with his newest playmate outside together chasing grass blades and toy mice.
To think she was unwanted when you see her play with such joy.
Two gentle friends enjoying just being free.
Evie loves fluffy and Evie loves all things cute. She also loves animals, Roman history stories and dinosaurs.
Her new love is writing horror stories and illustrating them. I’ve bought her a book so she can keep her creepy collection together.
I’m busy. Filling up the paddling pool and various inflatable animals for the after school paddle club.
Think there may be other little paws wanting to cool down today.
Renee loves her toys so much. She picks them up and carries them around and if you’re lucky, she’ll bring one to you accompanied by an awful lot of yowling. She hasn’t been outside yet as I want her to feel settled before I let her out in the garden.
She is a very talkative cat and will have small yowling dialogues with herself while prowling around the house. Little panther on an adventure. Black cats are so beautiful when they move, from head to toe a fluid tip toe of paws and haughty tail. Her eyes are bright green and go as big as saucers when something grabs her attention.
The kids are so happy that she loves to play with them. She and Bonnie are getting along with a healthy disregard of each other. There is no fear on Renee’s part and there is the endless need to sniff a cat’s behind from Bonnie.
Anyone who’s ever brought home a rescue cat knows that they will have their peculiarities. Renee is no different to the collective. So far she has insisted that she sleeps in my utility room sink. She has however, taken a preference to sleeping under the bath by squeezing through a small hole but she comes out for her grub so there is no stuck kitty.
She has learnt already that the sound of the fridge door opening means there’s food on the menu.
Bonnie is still too much for her but she has shown her inner panther by roaring with that mighty pair of lungs she has. Bonnie is being very patient and an utter angel with her new kitty friend when I know all she secretly wants is a sniff at that swishing tail. Good luck there Bonnie with that.
So far so good.
She draws, she loves jaffa cakes and has the biggest heart going. Happy birthday Millie, I think we need more room for all our sketchbooks.
Can’t be shown, won’t be shown. Has to learn it himself. Can’t think who on earth he gets that from.
Got chased by ferel children in the woods. Jumped over fallen trees, scrambled through branches, hauled myself through mud. Their cries of “feed me Macdonalds ” grew more desparate the more I ran.
My breath grew heavy as I clawed my way up the mossy bank, rain drenching my clothes and hair, my Boots make up freshly applied that morning smearing my mud streaked cheeks.
I threw the dog in the car and screeched out of the car park desparate to escape.
As I drew up to the traffic lights, a small, bony hand grasped my shoulder and hissed, “There is no escape”.
The struggle is real this Easter. Send wine, send gin, I am hunted by children on holiday.
Arnie is still hanging on in there. We have to do twice daily injections of insulin at food times and he’s taken to this really well.
His behaviour however, is rather strange. He has now taken to falling asleep at his water bowl or even worse, in the dog’s crate.
Bonnie is made up with this as she finally gets to sniff and fuss Mr elusive after all this time. Arnie is just happy to have a warm body to curl up next to.
Arnie has been unwell for a week or so but he went downhill quite rapidly over the last few days.
I’ve just driven thirty miles to a veterinary hospital to see if they can bring our poorly cat back from the brink. Looks like we have a diabetic in our house.
Not yet Arnie, we’re not ready for this, you’ve sprung this on us and we’re holding on tight to you.
Girls can lift and girls can be strong, including Millie who goes weightlifting every week.
Tonight she came home very happy with her new deadlift personal best, 65 kg.
One very mighty girl. I’m that proud of her, I even let her pick me up (63kg).
There’s a human on the floor! Downward dog has become down dog lick face.
We get a lot of rain in Wales, an awful lot. In fact it’s pretty much chucked it down all January and we’re all sick of it.
My poor chickens are wading in mud again so I’ve spent today shovelling in wheel barrows full of sand to absorb it.
I also use wooden planks and plant pots to create little perches so they can preen themselves when the sun dares to show itself.
I’m hoping February will be kinder and the sun will show itself a bit more!
Evie has been asking me for a while now that she would like to donate her very long hair to the Little Princess Trust a charity that takes donated hair and transforms them into wigs for children undergoing cancer treatment.
On Saturday she had all her locks chopped off and has been guarding her precious plaits ready for me to post them off.
I’m very proud of her for wanting to donate her hair, it’s a lovely, kind thing to do. She’s looking very grown up with her new hair do. I thinks it looks lovely.
I just pulled this out of my plug hole tonight. It just kept on coming. Obviously I wasn’t going to keep this to myself so I went and traumatised the family with the pileous beastie. Much screaming ensued.
Both Millie and Evie read to themselves these days, Evie is following her sister and sneaks up to her room on a regular basis to borrow and replace her books.
I am read to by Gruff these days, I have insisted that I get to read a story too so we both benefit, (and the cat does too of course).
The sun finally dragged itself from behind the Swansea perma-cloud this weekend for a brief, glimpse of warmth before the next rainy deluge.
It was what the wildlife in our garden was waiting for. All the bugs, bees, butterflies and other pollen loving beasties made their annual pilgrimage to our flowering ivy.
Evie was the first to immerse herself in fluttering red admirals. She dipped apple slices in sugar water and stood by the ivy waiting for one of them to sample some sugary loveliness.
There are two mornings in the year that are terrible. They are so very terrible because there is nothing you can do to hide from the fact that there is school that day.
The first terrible morning is the morning after the summer holidays. Like a dark shadow cast over the summer that went on forever, the morning marks the death knell of a season of bare feet and adventures.
The second terrible morning is the morning after the Christmas holidays, the decorations look stale, the tree flops to one side and it isn’t even daylight yet.
That moment looms before you have to wake them up and bring in the morning. I’m a mum alarm clock. I try to be cheery but I think that makes it even worse.
I’ve tried matter of fact but that just makes me sound cold.
I’ve tried distraction, “oh look it’s sunny” but that deepens the despair.
It’s like ripping off a plaster, make it quick, make it over with as soon as possible.
What do you when you see a couple having an argument in public?
You say nothing, you presume it’s a disagreement that will end with a laugh or a hug.
What do you do when the man turns to face the woman and grabs her by the shoulders?
You presume he’s reassuring her and that everything will be fine and they will walk off agreeing to disagree.
What do you do when his hands shake her hard, wrenches her arms towards his, pressing his face into hers?
You yell very loudly to take his hands off her. You make sure every single
person around you turns to see this man and what he is doing. You yell so loud that your children freeze and your teenager momentarily dies of embarrassment.
The man then shouts at me that this is his wife so that makes it alright.
I yell back that wives don’t come sale or return to be abused like that and I’m still calling the police.
The woman’s eyes are as wide as saucers by now and she waves an apology to me. The pair scarper into the market place and I’m left standing with Gruff asking me very gently to release the tight grip on his hand as he’d like to feel his fingers again.
I apologise for making my children jump but I couldn’t stand by and watch that.
I also apologise to the woman, I probably made things worse for you, I’m sorry but I couldn’t stand by and watch you be shaken like that.
I am aghast.
An artist’s dog should know that there are many things you may chew but pencils, pencils are utterly unforgivable.
What were you thinking Bonnie?
Still I found a new one to draw about it tonight.
Brand new headphones this year to plug the world and its many memes straight into your head, graphic novels with zombies in and a tonne of drawing stuff.
She’s doing great.
Evie is my little magpie. My recycling bin is never full with her around. Todays creations were stuffed gloved creatures and plastic top hats for her dolls.
Don’t smile, don’t try to smile, in fact don’t even think about smiling ok?
It’s not very exciting here at the moment. I had a wisdom tooth removed yesterday and while a drawing of my swollen face would be amusing, I’ll start with how useful a dog can be for a multiway leaning post…
First walk of the year down to Three Cliff’s beach. Warm sun, warm breeze, sparkling sea. Time to thaw out after winter.
Evie’s just had another front tooth come out ready for the new one behind it and Gruff has finally discovered his first wobbly tooth. He’s not too impressed that he has to do the work though…