You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2008.

I know, bad blogger. So much for the new year’s resolution of a pic a day. But here’s one to give you a sweet taste in your mouth: pawpaws growing in the tropical biome at the Eden Project. Mmm, mmm, mmm, pawpaw with lime juice. My favourite. I’d eat it every day if it wasn’t so darned expensive, and sons 2 and 3 would be right there in the dish with me.

I’ve been back on the toddler group beat again, plus another trip to a playgym with my nephew. Unfortunately he has now come down with chickenpox, so I’ve lost my playgym support crew, but I’ve enjoyed going there with him so much that I think I’ll keep going after he’s well again. I’ve made it to 48 completed questionnaires so far, out of 140 handed out. My supervisor recommends that I have at least 80, so fingers crossed for me that a few more people send them in. I’ve got a lunch with fellow NCT specialist workers tomorrow, so I can prevail on a few of them to fill one in, and another toddler group on Friday. Then I’m going to have to stay in more and start writing up some sections. My “I can’t do this!” panic has passed, to be replaced by a “I don’t have enough time!” panic. Which I suppose is progress, of a sort.

Friday afternoon I have to make a cake and pack a picnic for the Dales Show on Saturday. One of my tasks for today (in between toddler group and trip to university) was to find some dry shampoo for m’sister’s second grey mare, Kizzy. M’sister says she won’t have time to wash her – Kizzy lives out, so no point doing it Friday night in the current weather, and m’father wants to set off at 6am on the day in order to get his stallion there, settled and tidied up in time for the first class at 10am. He has been getting himself in a tizz trying to work out the best combination of drivers, horsebox, trailer, stallion and two mares. M’husband and I are down as reserve drivers for the way home, which is good for me as we don’t have to set off until 8am. It’s a pleasant drive to Barnard Castle, straight up the M1 and A1, then across the lower edges of the Border country.


…Of toddler groups, in case you were wondering. I have to get at least 80 womenwho have given birth in the last four years, preferably within the Mid-Yorks Hospitals Trust, to fill out my questionnaire. The best way I’ve come up with of finding them is to attend toddler groups. My head is throbbing with baby conversations. I WANT TO TALK TO ADULTS! ABOUT ADULT THINGS! Like this blasted project. So I think I may have to root out a few friends and say “We’re going out now. No refusals allowed!”

However time is at a premium, given that I spend all morning at said toddler groups, then come home for lunch and walking the dog, then do a bit of NCT work and class preparation. Before I know it my boys are coming in from school and I’m moving into ‘clean the house and make some tea’ time. I’ve written the bulk of my Method section but I need a plan for my Intro, and also to set up my data file. This is hampered by the fact that I can’t find the disc with the SPSS programme on it, and I also suspect the password will have run out so I’ll have to go in Leeds to pester the university IT department for a new one. But when do I find the time to drive into Leeds!

To top it all there’s a teachers’ strike tomorrow. It’s been called by the NUT because the Government refused to refer the proffered pay deal to an independent review body. Whilst I’m with them in principle, in practice I’m thinking 1) you’ve been offered more than most public sector workers, so what’re you griping about and 2) that means I have to keep an eye on two of my sons (aged 12 and 14) in between visiting another toddler group and trekking into university to see my supervisor. Firstborn son (aged 16) gets to go to school as not all the teachers are striking, and he’s coming up to GCSEs. He’s not as furious about this as I thought he would be as they’ve been told they don’t have to wear uniform.

So here are some memories of good company, plus some stuff I’m looking forward to. First, a bunch of Cherries at the Cherry Con in Cincinnati last year:

Rox is on the front row, second left, with Kay just behind and to the right. Kim is front right, with Cory and Chris behind her. I’m second from the right on the third row, with Betsy, Michelle and Jill behind me. Great times. I’d go again, but I haven’t paid for the first holiday yet.

In my diary (I’d provide pics from previous years, but I have no idea where they’re filed):

May 3: Dales Pony Society Spring Show, Barnard Castle.

June 5-8: Bramham International Horse Trials. I’m going on my own on the Thursday, for dressage and the hunter show, and Saturday for the cross-country with m’husband and third and final son.

July 8-10: The Great Yorkshire Show at Harrogate. Fabulous, fabulous. I do my utmost to get there all three days. Love it to bits. Expect many photos, of horses, dogs, cows, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, judges….

August 26: Kilnsey Show. Everyone should go here at least once, if only for the beautiful setting. The show is held on the water meadows next to the river, with Kilnsey Crag looming above you. Other reasons: the sheepdog trials are fabulous, albeit not as smooth as you see on One Man and His Dog (performance nerves seem to kick in quite frequently, whether in dog or shepherd I’m not quite sure); the crag race itself and third, and finally, the trotting races held at the end of the day. The speed those horses move at cannot be believed until you see it.

September 4-7: Burghley International Horse Trials. This is a four star event (Bramham is a mere three star) and a favourite escape from family responsibilities for m’husband and I. He’s not a horsey person, and gets a little twitchy if required to watch dressage for more than 10 minutes, but he loves the cross country day, the young event horse finals (we sit by the ringside debating which we will buy when we win the Lottery), the driving classes and the tradestands, not forgetting the beauty of Burghley House itself.

Conclusion: Plenty of good stuff coming up this summer. 

Or if you’d gone down to Cardinham Woods, on the edge of Bodmin Moor, a couple of weeks ago, you might have seen us. It’s a good place, Cardinham Woods. Lots of forestry trails through the trees, so if you have babies or toddlers you can still get out for a good walk with your pushchair.

M’husband, two sons and dog relaxed on a bench whilst they waited for me and youngest son to catch up (we’d been having a private mother and son conversation) so I fished out my camera:

I tried to persuade youngest son to join them, but he was hanging about somewhere and they got restless and started giggling at a private joke, so he refused:

Then half the party decided to move on:

And the moment was over. Still, it was nice while it lasted.


Yaay! I’ve found a focus and I’m getting started. Admittedly this boils down to writing the page header, plus the sub headings for my Method section, but it feels good. I visited one toddler group on Friday, another today and have a third lined up for tomorrow.

I’d forgotten how loud these places get. I’d also forgotten how hostile and suspicious some mothers can be. Someone they don’t know walks near them, and they stick their heads down and will do just about anything to avoid eye contact. Anyway, I’ve managed to hand out about 60 questionnaires but I’m going to have to photocopy another 500 sheets. I thought I would give out questionnaire and a pen, and women would duly hand them back to me 15 minutes later. I was wrong. Mainly, they say “I’ll fill it in at home where it’s quieter and I can think” which probably means I’ll be lucky to get half of them sent back, even with a complimentary envelope, freepost address and the prize draw incentive.

But anyway. I’ve Written Something! Not much, but it’s a morale-boosting, mind focusing start.

And now for something completely different: Doctor Who with Catherine Tate. I do love Catherine Tate, she’s so beautiful and intelligent. Fit to be a Jenny Crusie heroine. And now she is doing a fabulous job as the Doctor’s new assistant, with absolutely no romantic feelings about him. I am so relieved. The Doctor does not float around the universe plucking winsome assistants and falling in love with them; rather he picks up interesting people and has some excellent and inspiring friendships. I’d add a picture from the BBC website but I can’t work out how. Never mind. Watch the programme – it’s fab.


I have finally worked out, after many years, why I eat too much. It came to me whilst I was reading about someone else’s (ultimately successful) weight loss attempts. She realised that food didn’t love her like she loved it, and she cracked her habit. I read that and thought, ‘that’s not why I eat food. I’m not bothered that it doesn’t love me back, I’m just happy that it’s there.’ I overeat because I feel lonely. Despite some good friends and a plentiful family (they have their quirks, but which family doesn’t) I often feel totally on my own and worry that if I do find company they’ll get fed up with me quickly. Food is there, it makes no demands, and it settles the nervous worry in my stomach. Admittedly I often manage to replace the nervous worry with an uncomfortable fullness – which then in turn leads to guilt and self hatred – but at least I’m not feeling lonely.

Now I just have to work out how to remove my reliance. I’m not sure that I can ever manage to feel sufficiently emotionally secure but for the past year my subconscious has been niggling at me to do pilates. I think it’s suggesting that if I am physically stronger that feeling will rub off on me mentally. Over the years, as I have worked on being a more sorted person, I have come to have great faith in my subconscious. Unfortunately I don’t have much confidence when it comes to exercise. I have a pilates DVD (only £1 from the supermarket bargain basket!) but so far all I’ve managed to do is watch it while doing the ironing. I need to work on this.

Enough of the navel gazing. Here’s a happy place; Harlyn Bay in Cornwall. Really beautiful, great swimming and surfing and fabulous rock pools when the tide is out. And it’s dog friendly all year round.

That’s middle son with Sparky, who had a great time pulling skids on the sand.

I love to go up on the headland and watch the sea crashing on to the rocks on the far side, making milky-white frothy, foamy wavelets.

Firstborn son was having a teenage strop at one point (can’t remember why) so he went off with third and final son to do some rock scrambling.


We’ve had a week in Cornwall, in a cottage called Clerkenwater Vean on the edge of Bodmin Moor. Very pleasant place, with pale yellow primroses all over the place, lovely weather and absolute quiet. Then we came home to snow flurries, a cold snap and horrible urban traffic noise.

I managed to chill out pretty well for the week, despite some lingering niggles about my research project, but once I got home I was straight back into teaching, making masses of phone calls trying to get hold of people and desparing over the state of my untidy house. If I could just decide what to do about the research project – such as knock it on the head – I could at least clean up with a clear conscience. I am back to having a total crisis of confidence about it. I have an appointment with my supervisor tomorrow so we can set up the data file – although she’s going to have to do it with only two completed questionnaires. I’ve given out more than that but only got the two back so far. I’m going to have to spend a couple of weeks haunting mother and toddler groups to improve my participant numbers.

Here’s something more cheerful; Cornish primroses. To follow this week: coves, beaches and the fabulour plants in the Eden Project.