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 07/12/15

Tom was feeling a bit under the weather for most of this week, so we took it more gently than normal. He was very cuddly whenever we went out, wanting to sit with me or ride in the buggy, rather than run around all the time as he normally would.

Monday began with a trip to the park, where Tom wanted a nice long cuddle with me before he went off to play. It was a lovely moment of quiet connection that inspired me to write about the power of silence. We went back to the park in the afternoon, but this time we were on the hunt for more sycamore fruit to use in making Christmas decorations.

On Tuesday, Mr Techno took Tom to choose a Christmas tree and wreath whilst I went to work.

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Wednesday morning began with a short walk around our local woods, on the way back from the shops. We then spent the afternoon indoors – partly in deference to Tom’s cold and partly so we could make some Christmas decorations for the tree.

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On Thursday and Friday, we walked into nursery as usual. Tom had a bit of a meltdown when I came to pick him up on Thursday – he didn’t want to put down the car he was playing with. He was clearly tired, so didn’t really want to play for long when we stopped in the park on our way home. On Friday, Mr Techno came to meet us and we drove down to Kent, so we missed out on our normal walk home.

We spent the weekend at our friend’s house in Kent – you can read more about our adventures here. Staying on a farm more than made up for the slight lack of outdoor time during the week – we had a great time exploring, greeting the various animals, and getting extremely muddy.

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Tom’s cold is much better, but Mr Techno and I have been suffering this week! Hopefully we will all be better for Christmas and some outdoor adventures in Suffolk next week.

 

A Festive Country Weekend

Though London is fun at this time of year, I am always pleased when we get the chance to escape the city for a day or two and get out into the countryside. Mr Techno and I have a great group of friends from our university days, and we all try to meet up a couple of times a year for a country weekend.

Usually we have to rent a cottage, but we got lucky this time as one of the girls’ parents were on holiday and kindly offered us the use of their house whilst they were gone. Her dad is an apple farmer and they have this great, old house in Kent, with more than enough room for all of us.

Mr Techno picked Tom and I up from nursery on the Friday evening and we headed straight down, arriving just half-an-hour after Tom’s normal bedtime. The timing was perfect, as he went straight down to sleep, so we could concentrate on catching up. We are the only ones of this group to have a kid. In some ways it is good – Tom has a lot of very indulgent adults in his life – but it does mean that the others aren’t really aware of the needs of small children. We are lucky that Tom is such a good sleeper, so we do at least get to enjoy adult time!

On Saturday, we were all very excited to go on a proper country walk. In fact, we were so excited that we decided to go on two walks.

The first was a wander around the farmland, which took about an hour. We all went, including the four dogs. Mr Techno and I quickly realised the buggy wouldn’t be able to cope with the terrain, so we ditched it. Tom walked some of the way, and then we took it in turns to carry him.

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Of course, we had to stop off to visit the horses.

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And the chickens.

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And the ferrets. Tom was less sure about the ferrets – they tend to be a bit bitey. He took shelter leaning against Mr Techno’s legs.

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After lunch, Tom went down for a nap. Mr Techno and a couple of the others stayed home, whilst the rest of us headed to Bewl Water for a longer, very muddy walk.

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After all the walking, we definitely felt like we had earned some food. We cooked up a big Christmas dinner. Tom went to bed and the adults enjoyed the food, wine and company. Knowing I’d have to be up early, I flaked out just after midnight, but some of the others were still going strong at 3 am.

Needless to say, Sunday was a rather subdued day. I had to get up at 6.30 as usual with Tom, so had a quiet start whilst everyone else…recuperated. Once they appeared, we had a lovely lazy morning, grazing on leftovers and reading newspapers by the fire. Tom and I did escape outside for a while as well – he had started chasing the dogs around the house and clearly had some energy to burn!

We headed back to London after lunch, thoroughly refreshed by time away from the city with some great friends.

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!