Walking Home at Dusk

Typical isn’t it? No sooner do I post about the first signs of spring appearing than we get a proper cold snap. It’s been, quite literally, freezing here the past few days, especially in the mornings. All the puddles were iced over when Tom and I walked into nursery yesterday and we were both wishing I had remembered our gloves.

Nonetheless, I can still see hopeful signs of the seasons changing. Green buds are appearing on all the hawthorn bushes, there are daffodils growing outside the Parcelforce depot, and the park rangers have cleared the undergrowth in our local wood ready for the year’s new growth. Even better, the days have been getting longer. Just a week ago we were starting the walk back from nursery in the pitch black, whereas now we arrive home as the sun goes down.

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We’ve been taking advantage of the lighter evenings to resume our old habit of cutting through the woods on our way back from nursery, rather than going on the road. It got a bit scary when it was properly dark – there is no lighting along the path and I didn’t like not being able to see what was ahead of us, especially when I’m alone with Tom. But yesterday was the first time it had been light enough to see properly, so we headed through the trees to the park.

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We were rewarded with an encounter with a cheeky urban fox, who stood and stared at us for a long while before disappearing into the undergrowth. I didn’t get my camera out in time, so you’ll have to take my word for it. Usually I get slightly irate seeing foxes so bravely wandering around the city, but seeing this one in the more natural surroundings of our local woods just seemed right.

Weekly Report: W/c 28.12.2015

The last week of 2015 started with us still in Suffolk, where we had spent Christmas. After spending the morning alternating between packing and pottering in the garden, we headed back to London in the afternoon.

Both Mr Techno and I had Tuesday off. After a week in Suffolk and a week before that being ill, I was missing our familiar green spaces, so Tom and I started the day with a trip to the playground. I then left the boys to it in the afternoon, as my parents had offered to take my sister and I for a festive afternoon tea at Claridges. Which was delicious. And a bit ridiculous. But lovely all the same.

Wednesday started windy, as Storm Frank, the latest in a long list of winter storms, was hitting the UK. As usual, we seem to have gotten off extremely lightly in the South, whilst the North is taking yet another battering. My heart goes out to the people trying to cope with more flooding and disruption.

Since we had only strong winds, Tom and I headed out onto the Marshes for a morning walk, whilst Mr Techno, sadly, had to go back to work. Tom then took a very long nap, not waking up until almost 4 pm. By that point it was starting to get dark, so we settled for some painting with food dye at home instead.

Thursday was New Year’s Eve. Tom and I started the day with a short walk through the woods.

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After lunch, we headed out for a longer walk over the Marshes, with Tom in the sling. I’ve been struggling to get him into it whilst wearing a bulky winter coat, but have been taking advantage of the mild weather to get it out more often. I always notice that Tom is happier to play independently at home on days we use it a lot, which I guess must be down to it being more bonding than the buggy. Tom is very chatty in it as well, with constant exclamations of ‘hiya!’ and pointing at random trees.

Friday was the first day of 2016! We started well, with a trip to the park to try out Tom’s new wellies. He had a great time splashing around.

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When we got back to the flat I checked my pockets and realised the little wallet containing my oyster card, front door key, and five pounds was missing. We retraced our steps, but didn’t find them. Mr Techno was at work, but, after a slightly panicked phone call, popped his keys in a cab and sent them round to us. It took about half-an-hour for them to reach us, which we spent exploring the front garden.

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The space is normally occupied by our neighbour’s scooter, and is where we store the bins, so it’s unusual for us to spend any time there. Tom was occupied for a surprisingly long time, exploring the gravel and looking at the plants, so I suppose the silver lining of getting locked out is that our eyes were opened to the play potential of even the least promising spots. Fortunately the keys arrived just as Tom was beginning to lose interest and get hungry for his lunch. After the morning’s dramas, I didn’t feel much like meeting friends as I had planned to, and had to be in anyway to let Mr Techno in when he got back from work. We spent the afternoon playing with Tom’s trains and chasing each other round the flat instead. The friends were hungover understanding and happy to postpone to Sunday.

Saturday started a bit drizzly, but we headed to the park anyway in the hope someone might have found my keys and posted a note on the noticeboard. No such luck sadly so I guess it’ll be a call out to the locksmith when our landlords’ office reopens on Monday (we did call their emergency number when I realised the keys were gone, only to be met with a very unhelpful ‘nothing I can do’. Thank goodness it wasn’t both of us locked out!) Tom enjoyed some more puddles though, so it wasn’t a wasted trip.

After all the toing and froing with the keys, I was longing for a proper outing. So we headed out for a long walk over Hackney playing fields and along the river to Hackney Wick. Luckily the rain held off until we were almost home, but I still managed to get completely drenched. Tom, on the other hand, was warm and dry in the buggy.

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Sunday was a day of unrelenting rain. We actually went shopping in the morning – to buy me some new walking boots which was my Xmas present from Mr Techno (much better bought in the January sales!) Can’t wait to try them out. I then headed to Soho in the afternoon to see the friends I had cancelled on on Friday. Meanwhile, Tom and Mr Techno built a blanket fort.
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Next week we are back to nursery/work and our normal routines. I’m going to miss all this time off!

Weekly Report: W/c 30.11.2015

What is it about December? The month clicks over and instantly my calendar is full. Every weekend and every Tuesday night (my Tom free evening), is now taken until after Christmas.

We had a pretty busy first week, though we started slow on Monday by meeting up with a friend for a rather windy walk over Walthamstow Marshes and up past the reservoirs by Coppermill Lane. Having had a good long walk in the morning, it seemed ok not to brave the now rainy weather and stay indoors in the afternoon for some screen-free play.

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Wednesday was a rather sad day, because we had to go to the funeral of a friend’s mother. I did have a slight wobble in confidence shortly before leaving, wondering if it was actually appropriate to show up to the funeral of a non-family member with a toddler in tow. The friend in question is one of Tom’s godfathers though and I had no one to leave Tom with (Mr Techno was working), so we went. Tom behaved pretty well, though he did ‘chat’ through a few bits of the service. We stood at the back and I took him out about fifteen minutes before the end when it looked like he might start crying. We had a wander round the cemetery waiting for everyone to come out.

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I think it was the right choice  to go – Tom struggled towards the end but didn’t really know what was happening and we were able to be there to support his godfather, who gave a really beautiful eulogy. His mother was an amazing woman and it was wonderful seeing so many people come to celebrate her life and support her family. A very sad day but also a hopeful one hearing about a life so full and so well lived.

Thursday and Friday were work/nursery days, so Tom and I walked to nursery and back as usual. The wind was pretty strong both days and Tom struggled to keep his balance, so he didn’t want to stay for long in the park on our way home.

We had a lazy start on Saturday, as Mr Techno wasn’t starting work until midday, so we spent the morning at home as a family. After Tom’s afternoon nap, we headed out into the winds to forage up some Christmas decorations for the flat.

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On Sunday, we had our first Christmas party of the month, heading to Oxfordshire to the home of Tom’s great-grandmother (Mr Techno’s maternal grandmother). The whole of that side of the extended family was there and I think Tom was a bit overwhelmed by the parade of great-aunts, great-uncles and various cousins. Though he was very pleased to see his cousin Rose, who is just five weeks younger than him. They get on so well and I’m really excited to see them both enjoying Christmas together when we all gather at Mr Techno’s parents’ house in Suffolk.

We did manage to escape into the garden with the numerous family dogs between courses – a three course meal with coffee is a lot for toddlers to sit through! Some fresh air and a run around ensured good behaviour for the seated parts of the meal. Fortunately, Tom crashed out in the car both on the way there and the way back, as the journey took us about 3 hours.

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A busy week and a very worn-out toddler by the end!

Foraging for Christmas Decorations

I love Christmas. But, slightly shockingly, Mr Techno and I don’t currently own any actual decorations. We always visit family over Christmas itself and when we were both working full-time we were in the flat so little over December that it didn’t ever seem worth decorating.

Last year, for Tom’s first Christmas, we were focused more on getting Tom’s inguinal hernia diagnosis confirmed and arranging a date for his surgery, so decorating was the last thing on our minds. Besides, he was far too little to notice anything was going on. But this year he is more aware, and I’ve already noticed him staring at the Christmas decorations at nursery.

The thing is though, that my inner anti-consumerist tends to kick in at this time of year (in reaction to all the adverts screaming ‘spend, spend, spend’ I suspect). So rather than buy a whole load of shiny new decorations that will only come out once a year, I decided to make some. This has involved ordering some glitter and paint online, so it isn’t spend free, but at least those will be useful for other craft projects too.

I definitely want to include some natural materials in the decorations. When Tom and I were walking to nursery last week, I picked up a few of these sycamore fruit in the park (and then accidentally went to work with them still in my pocket…)

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Aren’t they perfect? Bauble shaped, but not breakable, which is important in a toddler household

Clearly, just eight were not going to do the job, so Tom and I headed out on Saturday to gather more. My original plan was to grab some of these and then head into the woods to see what else we could find. But we woke up to find that Storm Desmond was hitting the UK. While we were lucky in London to escape the extreme weather and flood warnings that affected the north and Scotland, we did have some very strong winds. It didn’t seem entirely sensible to be heading into the woods with the chance of falling branches, so we stuck to the open areas and concentrated on finding more sycamore fruit (this might sound counter-intuitive, but there is an avenue of sycamore trees in the park, with lots of open grass around them).

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Unfortunately, my assistant got rather distracted by a massive pile of mud  – there’s some improvement work going on at Leyton Jubilee Park and they’ve been digging out a new path to the meadow area.

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Despite the burning need to make mud pies, we I did gather a decent haul. Which are now hidden all around the flat as Tom really enjoys playing with them. This is about half the stash!

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Sadly, the downside of lazy internet shopping is that the glitter and paint haven’t arrived yet, so we are waiting to transform these into baubles for the flat. I’ll let you know how we get on!

Life Unexpected

Weekly Report – w/c 16/11/2015

Well winter definitely arrived this week. After a mild start, the temperature plummeted at the weekend and we’ve been having to wrap up warm before venturing out. Here’s how we got on:

Monday started well, with a woodland walk in the morning. Well sort of a walk. Tom was in charge, so in fact it was more like the same patch of woodland over and over and over again. But he seemed happy! We popped to the playground in the afternoon and Tom enjoyed some playtime with a friendly 2 year old.

We started Wednesday back at the playground, which had been invaded by a preschool group on the hunt for autumnal goodies. They had a work-sheet and everything. One kind little boy tried to get Tom involved, only to be met with a blank look. Tom then toddled off mid-explanation. Those social skills have a little way to go!

We had planned a trip to Brooks Farm that afternoon, but it was grey, wet and miserable. Mr Techno was very reluctant to go out, so we made oobleck to play with instead. I thought it might interest Tom for 15 minutes or so, but in fact he was enthralled and played with it for an incredible hour and a half. The adults were pretty interested too.

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Thursday was clear for our walk in to nursery. In the evening, Tom explored happily. He was especially pleased to find a massive puddle, which needed to be walked through repeatedly. With giggling.

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Friday was much the same, though colder. I was a bit concerned about Tom’s hands, which he kept insisting on dipping in cold puddles. He was probably fine in fact, but my overprotective mother head kicked in and I made him get back in the buggy. Of course this did not go down well. I think it’s about time I read up on techniques for keeping calm in the face of tantrums.

We were amazed on Saturday morning to see snow falling. Sadly, it didn’t last long, but it did highlight a rather gaping hole in Tom’s wardrobe – his rain footies are fine for the wet, but wouldn’t be warm enough in snow if it was too settle. Time for a pair of barefoot shoes after all.

We wrapped up warm in the afternoon and headed to Lloyd Park in Walthamstow. Post to follow on our adventures there.

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Sunday was another cold day. So cold in fact that I could see my breath inside the house. Mr Techno gently pointed out that this was probably not healthy, so the heating is now on two hours in the morning and one in the evening, which has already made a huge difference. We spent the morning in Leyton Jubilee Park and I was hoping for a nice long walk in the afternoon. This was rather scuppered by Tom taking a three hour nap. By the time he woke up and we had done milk and nappy change, it was 4 pm and starting to get dark. Boy must be about to have a growth spurt or something!

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I have to say, I’ve been a bit uninspired this week. Rather a lot of time at the playground and being scared off by the weather. Time to buy some warmer clothes and head out for more exciting winter adventures!