Yes Autumn is most definitely here. After a period of denial and a few weeks of early morning school starts, we can safely say we are on the downward slope of darker, wetter evenings.
But do not doubt the resilience of the people of Swansea to get their washing loads out on their scaffolding pole lines in between the showers and lob a beach ball over the back gardens while doing it.
You are just not living unless you are.
Come at us Autumn, we’ll get the bedding dried and folded in between your deluges.
Oh that phrase. Strikes anxiety into the hearts of every school child that didn’t think summer would ever end.
Like a guillotine for fun times and lie ins. The harbinger of Autumn.
Here come hard shoes and stiff trousers, time tables and breaktimes, packed lunches and P.E., assemblies and assessments. Gym hall smells and nippy mornings.
Heads down parents, morning battle has commenced, get on the road and growl at the morning traffic.
Lockdowns and isolation never stopped growing bones.
Obligatory family drawing to show that my clothes budget was grossly underestimated this year.
Gruff is saving all his growing for night time, coming downstairs in the morning, visibly taller.
We’ve had Frannie a whole year now and only now has she realised who the boss is in this house.
It’s a small black angry creature who eats, sleeps and screams if you get in her way.
And she is very very angry that you ate one of her kitty puff babies.
It’s all change they say.
You’ll look back and wonder, where has the time gone?
A big fast moving blur just happened and we’re ten years on.
And then I see all the drawings and I smile.
Artistic snapchat, illustrative Instagram, whimsical facebook all in a little sketchbook and all from the day I’d lived.
Technology is indeed great and I love it too but there really is something lovely in looking at your day and picking out what mattered to you, what was funny, what was hurtful, what was just great and then detangling it through lines.
I hate socks right now. Who invented socks? Please show yourself and pair all these please.
That is all.
There’s a dog on the other side.
We must make contact.
We must let them know we are here.
And then tell them that we’re bigger than them and their mum.
Humidity and thirty degree heat means one thing. Ice lollies, shade and fan on.
Frannie is being kept in as she has only one fast speed setting and Bonnie is setting a lovely example of a dead dog and sprawling her long bones wherever I seem to step.
Everything is sticky.
Swansea is baking hot today and our old stone terrace house has heated up lovely and is roasting us slowly.
Lots of creepy crawling flowering plants grow in little places on the old stone walls. They always have thrived and grow on everyone’s walls. Brightest of purples this time of year with the happy drone of busy bees.
I’ve added lots of pots this year with herbs and trailing flowers. It’s plant chaos and I love the mess.
The lavender is enormous this year so the bee party is going to be lovely. I’m hoping to see a return of the hummingbird hawkmoth I saw one year, it really looks like a little hummingbird.
No chemicals, no weedkiller, just a pair of hands and a cat interested in digging.
Today on the menu, AstraZeneca part two.
Part one was four days of feeling a little rough and a sore arm, not much to get concerned, I grew no second head and disappointedly I didn’t develop an affinity with anything Microsoft.
I drove to the same building as I originally went to for part one, a small community centre, one way in and one way out. I waited 5 minutes before being ushered to a chair where a trolley was moving up and down the line of waiting people. One to inject and one to ask the questions.
Are you well?
Are you allergic to anything?
Whispers in my ear…Are you Pregnant?
My enthusiastic shaking of my head went on a little too long.
Fifteen minutes of waiting and wondering will this make a difference. Will enough of us get the vaccine? Will it work? Truth is we will have to wait and we will have to hope that it will. I feel very small again, insignificant in the bigger picture.
I got my phone out and ate melted sweets from my glovebox.
Miya likes to come in through the roof window this time of year. Obviously as late as possible and normally making quite a racket as she plops onto the floor of the loft, startling Millie.
How does she climb up?
Well, she scales a stone garden wall and then leaps vertically up the side of our house to access the roof. Terrifying.
Both agree the swift show is wonderful and are very happy the sun is warmer and the clouds are bubbling high into the long, light evenings.
Pointy nose, perfect shape for sneaking in pockets.
We have a pocket thief and she loves tissues. Tissues are very nice and tasty, sweet wrappers are lovely too.
The cone has it’s fun for a pup that misses her favourite toys.
Throw them into the cone for chewies.
When you run at one hundred miles per hour over broken glass it’s not going to have a great outcome.
Enforced rest and knocking over of everything for the next few days while the superglue and antibiotics mend those power pads then it’s back to flying.
I had a lovely hair cut and colour the other day. The first one in a long time too.
I wore my mask and enjoyed it being styled and cut.
Then I went home and popped it back in a bun.
The march of the dandelions and my dog is as relentless as the flying masks in the spring breezes.
The sun is coming back…well now, in a minute, as we say.
The first invitation for a vaccine has landed on our doormat.
Millie and her classmates are testing for Covid 19 twice a week before school. They do it themselves. For the record I have tried a test to gain some empathy for this process.
There will be sneezing and retching.
Do not touch the fuzzy bit of the swab.
Do not let the dog touch the fuzzy bit of the swab.
Do not let the dog touch the test.
No silica gel is not the liquid.
Did I mention do not touch the fuzzy bit of the swab?
Enjoy your day at school.
Little nip anyone?
Training is underway, teenage pup loves to nibble and it’s easily redirected. Just don’t give up on them, they want to be good.
It’s the art of making things look funny when really I’m hating every minute and would rather be sipping espresso martinis on a beach in Barbados with sunburn and giving no hoots about beach body ready or any of that rubbish.
The news has caught more people going to parties, having their hair dyed in car parks or actually being outside and having the audacity to drive somewhere nice and drink a coffee. We are told we must wait another few weeks and see if we are allowed out to travel to a destination for exercise without infecting each other with more variants named after nice places.
But the sun is shining!
Do you not know how lovely it is in Swansea when the sun shines? It’s so rare that a day without rain would be classified as a drought. I walked to my local park and felt the warmth and smelt the fumes from a passing moped piled on with screaming teenagers.
But anyhow, children on wheels are much easier to manoeuvre.
Stepping outside in a sideways ice blast to get those milk bottles is as far as I’m reaching today.
Dog print pyjamas, bobble hat and complete the outfit with some fluffy socks. A passer-by scurries on past either oblivious or terrified at the sweary mess of a women trying to keep her glasses on and picking up milk bottles with hair writhing in the cold wind like the wicked witch of the morning.
Where is my coffee?
You going “out out?”
That, in Swansea, means out on the town, all glammed up, drinkies, heels and hair done.
No I am not. I’m dressed in yesterday’s jumper, my shoes are muddy, my coat is soaking and my dog is clearly delighted to be dragged around the block in sideways, January sleet.
Still no winter beach, no big sky.
My only essential travel is to buy food and growl, masked at people who come close. It’s hard to feel so anxious when people forget and reach over to take stuff off shelves. What on earth do you do?
Bonnie looks at me…
She’d growl first…
I might try that next time.
On some nights, the steelworks on the horizon in Port Talbot, light up the clouds with a fiery glow (like Mordor from the Lord of the Rings). It’s eerily beautiful, you can see flames reaching high into the sky. Last night, it was full aglow, quite something to look at and I was very much enjoying the view.
I was so busy staring, I very nearly collided into a man holding his small dog high on his head cursing my little evening day dream and accusing *Bonnie, (on the lead, by my side, looking as puzzled as myself) of wanting to eat his small furry thing.
I muttered an apology along the lines of “So sorry, miles away, lovely hat” and scurried away.
Cue a fox running across our path and I really wondered where I was, Mad Max or Swansea.
Swansea in a pandemic, Mad Max is little too sensible right now.
*Being a big sized dog, she quite often gets accused of wanting to eat smaller dogs but she’s actually a huge fan of dogs smaller than herself as she can play Queen.
School days are a strange business during these lockdown days.
No car run, no rush out the door in the morning.
Still, early to rise, in the dark for a morning check in, registration or daily work download.
Gone are the assemblies, singing and hanging up of coats and hellos to friends.
It’s find a space away from whiskers and paws and chewing mouths.
Please let mum have a coffee and I’ll figure out that maths I promise.
Dressed and ready but no where to go.
Funny, lonely business this learning on screens but there we are right now, in the midst of a pandemic and figuring out the area of Tom’s Toblerone chocolate bar.
Let me tell you a little secret, us mums are looking at you and are very glad it’s not them having to do this.
Children of 2020, you’re doing amazing, don’t ever forget that.
Everything needs a little chew.
Stair gates, socks and especially nice toes.
Chewy chew chew.
Bonnie’s leg has been tried and found very nice, Bonnie doesn’t think that it’s very nice and tells Frannie in a very growly way to stop.
So back to socks and toes it is.
Apologies for the silence but the storms blew in a five month old street-puppy from Romania. I think she’s a keeper. Very scared right now but she’s joined the right family.
Meet Frannie, our new stowaway. Been with us a few days now and settling in so very well after a bumpy start of snarling and being all street tough.
I think we have a very clever pup here, she’s walked this earth before.
It’s late enough and Renee has started moving her little knitted kitty puffs upstairs for the night.
The kids sleep through the racket and wake to a landing full of knitted balls.
It’s better than Christmas as you never know what you’re going to step out to each morning.
One got taken out in the rain last week through the cat flap and forgotten about but I’m happy to report it has found its way back in late tonight.
One got placed inside a wellington boot.
One found its way inside the dog crate, Bonnie is very fond of them too.
Must knit more, I now have wool in rainbow shades.
Evie is the first to return to school tomorrow.
One day a week. All schools are running on reduced capacity until September.
Four months of home school, no friends. It’s been tough for children and it will be another adaptation to face returning to school.
And they’ve ALL grown out of their shoes and wellies.
But, we have hand gel.
Weather dog is at it again.
One sniff of the front door and this diva knows it’s going to rain and she can’t be bothered with a walk.
We went and got soaked.
Should have listened.
I had some meetings on my computer today.
You know, where you link up and all talk to each other in little boxes.
Miya decided to join in. She liked seeing everyone so much she showed them her nicely healed tail and watched the little people in their boxes. No one was swiped though, (she reserves that watching wildlife on you tube).
It’s the pandemic isn’t it? Summed up in little electronic boxes. All safe until the paws hit that keyboard.
They didn’t see the cat problem coming did they now?
There’s no muting a cat or it’s tail.
Look what we’ve found.
It’s not very big.
Just stick a twig in by that sticky bit of web between the wood.
Mum what did you just say?
Not all bullies are big.
Bonnie would not sleep in her crate tonight until the tiny terror vacated her position in the stinky den.
Had no idea she’d slunk in there and claimed her throne until Bonnie started whining.
Miya has had a course of medicine (which she gobbled whole inside a nice piece of chicken).
The nibbled tail is on the mend and is now busy parading around the house and garden with it’s usual sass straight up in the air where it belongs.
Hopefully whoever nibbled her tail has found something else tasty to eat.
Solve everything with this one cup in the morning.
Okay. Maybe it takes three these days.
Don’t talk to me, I haven’t woken up yet.
And there it lay, cold on the ground. Like a recently deceased creature of the night, slain by the rays of the early morning sun. Glistening and motionless.
The feline gently stepped away from its creation. Denying all knowledge of its part in bringing this thing into brief being.
The humans would rise soon and would fail to see it’s beauty, its purpose to simply exist on the floor of their dwelling and would cast it with disgust, into the bin.
The biggest hairball in living history.
I know the retribution will be swift and terrible but I really love drawing in other people’s sketchbooks…
The cat has come in from the rain soaking wet.
I’ve dried her off.
So she’s just come back in soaking wet again.
I’m starting to sense a pattern here…
I’d like her to get off my sketchbook now too…
My guys are real tech fans, they love a gadget, why not, it’s fun.
All the screens in the world however, will never replace a massive, cardboard box.
Endless worlds travelled to.
Infinite possibilities within four walls of brown.
Just the best thing in the world.
Climb in and make your den your own, (with the two cats and the dog as well please). Drag in all the cushions and throws in the house, fill it with cars or fluffy animals.
Eat your lunch in it, try it, food tastes brilliant in a box.
Within the parameters of four walls, embrace boredom and overcome it with imagination and fun.
Seeing my boy staring out of a box gives me a perspective on how this lock-down has played out for my children.
Where’s the cat?
What do you mean you haven’t seen her?
Walks fifty times past the studio window.
Well I’ve called her. She’s not coming, she’s probably on her rounds.
She’ll be back soon.
She is still not speaking to me.
Very exciting day today.
I vacuumed the house.
I terrorised children, I sucked up lego and the cats hate me.
How was your day?
Nothing to see here.
Because it is impossible to garden with a cat.
Really impossible. Fusses are required every minute or I get swiped or nibbled.
I feel very bullied.
Not much weeding was done.
In other news I went to the supermarket without crying but I forgot to buy chocolate.
I still wash my hands.
There’s more sassy in that tail than I have ever seen in a cat.
This little black cat with the huge meow.
One flick and you’re dismissed for the day.
It’s going to be a while.
No I’ve got to blow it up first.
Well it’s got to fill with water.
It’s going to be a while.
No it’s not ready, bit longer.
Might be a bit cold at first.
IT’S TOO COLD!
There’s sorcery in coffee and vision in spectacles.
Combine the both and I transform from shadow to human.
Sleep hits me when the birds start singing.
Might sleep in the garden, might sleep in a tree.
Can I have a coffee yet?
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.
Lots of rainbows in the windows as I pass by with dog.
Drawn by children. Thanking nurses, doctors, healthcare workers and front-line workers.
Some are painted, some are pieces of paper stuck together, some are prints of little hands, safe behind glass.
None have been drawn by dogs, or cats just in case you were wondering.
They see me rollin.
But what they don’t know
Is that the virus is not in your
It’s in your chesticles.
“I have something for you mum” are words that every parent knows are laced with a few meanings.
The first is innocent and lovely, probably a little handful of daisies or a hug.
The second, however, is something unwanted, sinister and must be approached with extreme caution and cynicism.
“Oh yes?” comes my reply (raised eyebrow). I am the master after years of being tricked, poker face is on and braced for impact,
And there they are in my hand, a scrunched up pile of months and months of school letters, casually handed over without a single drop of sweat shed.
Months of letters.
Suppose it could have been a slug or a dead spider.
Had a very loud thunderstorm last night. Ended up with a shivering 30kg wreck on me for the rest of the night…
I’m dedicating January to the birds that come to my garden. I have no exotic varieties, just your average Joes of the bird world but to me they are wonderful and they think I’m great right now as I’ve hung three brand new feeders from my studio in an attempt to encourage more into my little urban garden.
My house is part of a Victorian terrace built by the miners and their families 150 years ago. A descendent lives a few doors up and says that they were built to house the families who kept chickens and grew their food here.
Fast forward a century or so and the city has grown around these houses and the mines have gone. But the wildlife is still here, hanging on and adapting to the pace of life and the endless rain.
Today’s post is in salute to the starlings that frequent my garden. Sleek and noisy little birds. Starlings are wonderful mimics of sound. They will copy what they hear and repeat it back with relish. Well you can imagine that Swansea is a feast for these little flocks of sound machines. From car alarms, mopeds to mobile phones it is never ever quiet around here and these little birds congregate on the telephone lines in the winter and belt out their whistle and chirps.
In deepest January they are most welcome to strip my feeders, tease my chickens and entertain me in my studio to a Swansea mega mix of noise. Demolishing fat balls within ten minutes and then entertaining me with their sound effects.
One summer morning you could hear the noise of a single alarm clock coming from an open window, within seconds, the voices of twenty alarm clocks were ringing out over the rooftops and telephone wires.
A little mix of my best bits at Christmas.
I wish you all a peaceful time and remember kindness is always better than a plateful of sprouts.
Been laid up ill with flu. That was fun. Somehow it’s now Christmas and I’m in headless chicken panic mode.
A poem I made.
I had some wine,
It went to my head,
And off I went,
early to bed.
I’m under attack from a little, black, permanently ravenous cat.
(Not that she’s been put on a diet by the vet or anything for being a bit chunky).
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).
Organised? I laugh in the face of organised and bring you morning anarchy!
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.
In comes the herd of arms, legs. noise, bags and school letters. Remove shoes with a lovely hands free manoeuvre only children can do with carefully bought school shoes.
Some days are longer than others. Some days have seen homework disasters and others brilliantly funny things involving a protractor, a frog and a how so and so from the other class thinks something that is so stupid.
And hit the sofa with a biscuit of triumph.
And Mum’s head spins.
There are morning people and there are people who shouldn’t see morning at all.
Just so I’ve kept you in the loop. Renee was adopted by us last year shortly after saying goodbye to her kittens who had also gone off to loving homes.
Renee had just been spayed and was calling for her babies for a few nights before she settled down and enjoyed the life of a pampered, happy puss.
One night, we heard an almighty yowling (similar to an air raid claxon). In she marched with one of Evie’s *kitty puffs in her mouth, gently placed it on the floor and went back to find another one. At this point, we all came to the same conclusion.
We gave her all the puffs we had.
Last nights puff activity was off the chart. Howling galore from Renee. We woke to puffs outside our door, on the stairs, in the sink, in Bonnie’s crate, one even found it’s way inside a wellington boot.
Renee, is now busy sleeping off her antics ready for tonight’s mass movement of puffs.
*Kitty puffs, for your information, are little balls of knitted wool, stuffed with stuffing and have sown on eyes and a nose. They are my idea in response of Evie asking me to knit something fluffy and cute. They come in various colours (whatever is in my stash of wool) and I think I’ve knitted at least over a hundred over the years for various children as they are very cute and totally squidge-able…anyway…I’m digressing….
So Renee and Miya have decided to “allow” Bonnie upstairs.
We didn’t know this was happening as Bonnie would slink off downstairs as we were stirring.
It was a 2am trip to the toilet that they were all rumbled, happily snoozing on the landing.
So my mornings now look like this. I really don’t need an alarm clock and there’s one animal per child to wake up with purrs or licks.
…coming in from the rain and sitting on my sketchbook! Quite an authentic, collaborative drawing tonight.
I’ve knitted little round cats for my guys to play with but Renee has officially moved in and adopted them as her surrogate “kittens”. I’ve never seen a cat do this before. She’ll call to them, pick them up and distribute them randomly around the house. Some have even found their way in this fine weather, out in the garden.(But they are always brought in for night time). Her favourite is the largest, knitted with a very fluffy wool and with blue eyes.
Once upon a time, there was a magic laundry basket.
Whatever you put in it, would multiply ten fold overnight.
Until a wicked witch stuffed it with Semtex and detonated it.
And then everyone celebrated with gin.
Spent most of it trying to remove a pair of knickers that got rammed down the vacuum cleaner.
Our two cats are very different personalities. Miya is the younger, newer addition to our tribe and is very much the extrovert and mischief maker. Renee, however, is not one to be bottom cat in the pecking order and will make sure our new little cheeky puss has the occasional back of her paw.
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.
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…
Explosive start to Monday with a vacuum rammed washing basket. You can imagine my sheer joy at working through that. Isn’t this fun? Bet Snow White held those animals at gunpoint to get them to tidy up her bloody cottage.
It’s just glorious. Low, warm sun to warm the bones and the heart.
Walking up the garden is a bit of a dance to avoid the dewy spider webs that have been ambitiously spun overnight. I’ll leave the lying down to you Bonnie as I’ve had my fair share of garden spiders in my hair today