Sunday, 31 July 2011

Exploring Château Saint Paterne

We arrive at Château Saint Paterne in torrential rain.
It is rain that splashes up from the gravel
soaking you from the ankles upwards
as you run from the car across the drive.

Inside the château we are shown our room...
through a door in the panelling
and up 52 steps to the top of a tower.

When we come back down it is dark outside
but every room sparkles with candlelight.
MrM is entranced by the aperitifs
which are more gin than tonic.

Dinner is prepared by the owner of the château
and it is simple but delicious.
The next day I persuade him to give me the recipe
of the extraordinary melting asparagus mousse.
He says it is nothing special.
I disagree.

After dinner we walk through the candlelit rooms
and go back to our Chambre de Mystères.
We have discovered that the last guest
proposed to his girlfriend in the bath.
I admit that I decided to have a shower instead.

In the morning the sun is shining
and we are alone in the dining room.

We explore the gardens before we leave.
When we return to Saint Paterne
I shall swim in the pool surrounded by lavender
and drink a kir on the terrace.

And we shall return one day.
It is not far from Dieppe
and a perfect place to start a holiday in France.

This is exactly what you imagine
staying in a château should be like:
you are welcomed as guests in a family home
and great care is taken to ensure
that you are comfortable and enjoy your visit.

with many thanks to
Charles-Henry et Ségolène de Valbray
owners of the Château Saint Paterne.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Party Tricks


Do you remember when MasterM learned
"The Owl and The Pussycat"
off by heart?


He was only 3!
He was SO cute!


We made him do it as a party trick
which is probably why
he never ever learned another poem.


I know!
We were shocking parents!
I think I still have the book.

And MrsM found the book
and began to read to MrM...

with many thanks to
Jenny and the Young Academic
for technical assistance.

Crackington Haven

If you turn at the edge of the sand
and walk up the steep path,
through gates and over stiles,
breathing in the salt air
and the sharp fragrance of gorse,
you come to the Cambeak
between Pencannow Point
and the Strangles.

You can look onwards
to the great sweep of coastline
or you can look back
at the headland and beach.

I looked back, of course.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

In a green field, I lay down

We went to the fabulous Port Eliot festival

it is smart,
it is quirky,
it is fun

writing about it
is like trying to paint moonbeams

it was wet when we arrived
but it didn't matter

we watched the flower show
being 'curated'...

said hello to the lovely dovegreyreader
and drank a cup of tea in her tent

and fell in love, just a bit,
with Flats & Sharps.

and then it was time
to eat pizza cooked in a tent

and ponder the concept
of the Poetry Takeaway.

I must up my festival chic...

how I wish that I had made a T shirt!

and a hat,
I should have bought a hat!

and next year, I am staying in a gypsy caravan.

In the end I was exhausted
with enjoying myself
and lay down...

Roll on Port Eliot 2012!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Aunty Alice comes to tea

Aunty Alice made a picnic
for the Little Boy Cousins...

she chose special picnic boxes
and filled them
with sweet green grapes,
a tiny box of raisins,
miniature biscuits
and one enormous strawberry...

she had so much fun
packing the little boxes
and watching them being enjoyed
that she realised how long it is
since she last made a carpet picnic.

Too long.

Monday, 25 July 2011


And on the fourth day of their holiday
MrsM said to MrM
"Is it STILL raining?"
and MrM said to MrsM
"No, don't worry...
that is the splashing sound
of someone washing the roof."

And gloom settled damply upon them.

And so MrM and MrsM found a wayside inn
with flagstones, low beams,
excellent food and local cider
and lo, the rain did not seem quite so wet.

And when they came out the rain had stopped
and they congratulated themselves
on the excellence of their wet weather plan
and set off for a walk on the moor.


The internet connection died half way through our holiday and I have some catching up to do including this post which I intended to publish on Thursday. After a sunny day at home it feels strange to write about this very wet day on Dartmoor but I wanted to mention the lovely Rugglestone Inn and recommend it to anyone visiting Dartmoor this summer. I also wanted to show a proper English pub to my friends who have never visited this country.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Little Boy Cousin (aged 2)

Lovely Sister-in-Law
Have you been jumping in puddles?
LBC looks shifty
Which shoes are you wearing?
LBC looks down at feet
Are they your Wellies?
LBC shakes head
Or are they your Posh Shoes?
LBC is silent
Look very carefully.
LBC is silent
Wellies or Posh Shoes?

LBC says in a teeny, tiny whisper

Posh Shoes

And MrsM tries very, very hard not to laugh.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Shopping with MrM

It is a wet Monday afternoon in Chagford

MrsM finds herself in a hardware shop

MrM believes this is a "Retail Opportunity"

MrsM thinks that MissM might not agree...
brown fleece tops and thermos flasks
do not ever feature on her wish list

MrsM is grateful that MasterM is not there
to try out the handcarved walking sticks
because it is many years
since MrsM has been asked to leave a shop...

MrsM hears MrM trying to decide
which penknife to buy

MrM is enthusiastic

There is far too much choice

MrsM sighs

And then MrsM remembers that,
a long time ago,
she promised bb
that she would post photos of tweed caps

And MrsM smiles

Sunday, 17 July 2011

wet, wet, wet

I would like to say a heart-felt thank you
to everyone who commented on the post yesterday
I was so touched by your thoughtful responses
and glad that I had written about the problem.
I will now put it out of my mind and move on.

Thank you for ALL of your comments
since I started writing again
It is difficult to explain what it is like
to receive such a tidal wave of friendship
but I am very, very grateful.

Right, down to business...
where are we?

MissM was last seen outside a vintage clothes shop in Prague.
She has bought another interrail ticket
and is somewhere in Europe with the Sassy MissS.

MasterM spoke to us from Zambia on Friday.
He said that he was walking along a beach in Zanzibar
when he heard his name being called out
and turned around to see friends from Cape Town.
"It was so cool - the world is a small place, isn't it!
They were so glad to see me
that they immediately organised a party."

MrM and MrsM are in Cornwall.

It is wet.

VERY wet.

MrM has decided to devote his week off
to the twitter-craze for "Animal Chat-up Lines"

Here is the one he dreamed up for Mr. Mink:
"Well, hello there, Miss Mink!
I do like a girl who is all fur coat
and no knickers."

The ones for monkeys, camels and dolphins
are not suitable for a family blog.
I will be spending the week in Cornwall
with my finger hovering above the delete button.

We are back on Planet Normal.

The Blogger's Dilemma

I have been fortunate over the past four years: I have written what I wanted to write, my family have permitted me to write about them and encouraged me when I have faltered and my readers have contributed their own dazzling array of comments. I have made good friends and the correspondence has continued by email and on rare but precious occasions by actually meeting up.

I rarely get genuinely anonymous comments – they are mainly MrM trying to avoid responsibility for a lurid pun and these get deleted immediately.

I would like to put the following recent anonymous comments forward for your consideration:

"Yes your children are brighter than all of our dim wits. Obviously. Apparently destined for heights ours cannot even dream of. The shame of having ordinary children."

"Such boasting is upsetting to us and our children - have you thought of that? Why do we have to think it is ok to have inplied (sic) critisism at us but not for it to be returned? "

I would have hoped that it was obvious to anyone who has read this blog that every family, and ours is no exception, has ups and downs. I choose not to discuss difficult family issues in a public forum and I have made this clear on a number of occasions. As a result I still have permission from my family to write about them and I try hard not to push the boundaries of that permission.

My view is that anonymous comments like these – presumably by the same person – do not have a place on this blog. I assume that the anonymous writer feels they have the right to write whatever they want in this public space but it is my blog and I choose what gets published. If that person wishes to discuss the perceived inadequacies of their children they should do so on their own blog.

The saddest thing about these comments is that there is no such thing as an “ordinary child” –every single one of them has extraordinary gifts that make them special and it is the responsibility of the parent to help their child discover those gifts and celebrate them.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Graduation Day

On Graduation Day
there is a reception in the Department
for the graduands and their guests.

Everybody has a job to do:

there is someone to polish glasses
and wash them up afterwards

someone to lay out the envelopes
and welcome the guests

someone to make the labels
and the fabulous poster display

someone to unwrap the catering
and someone to open the bottles of bubbly

someone to address the graduands
and present the prizes

someone to play the trumpets
(that is a specialist job)

someone to organise the procession
and someone to take the photographs.

It is a pleasure and a privilege every year
because it is such a special day.