A lifestyle blog from a forty-something mum

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Sometimes I pretend to be normal...


We were up at 4am and on the road by 5 the weekend before last. The journey to Falmouth is 250 miles from home and from experience, it's best tackled early in the morning. We arrive at our daughter's house by 9:30am, and we're on the beach by ten sipping much-needed coffee, devouring biscuits and slipping in and out of our waterproof jackets as the weather alternates between drizzling rain and blistering sunshine. It rains as we eat our picnic on the beach. We stay there anyway and make the best of it.

'Would it be OK if I invited a friend for dinner tonight?' Olivia asks as we drop her home afterwards.

'Yes, that's fine,' I add.

'I have something I need to ask,'she adds. 'Do you think you could pretend to be normal while we're out?' Her comment is a harsh one. Aren't all families slightly crazy with their in-jokes and unique perspective on the world?

I promise that I will behave, but feel well and truly chastised by my daughter.

It's always a pleasure to meet up with our daughters' friends from university and E is lovely. On Olivia's recommendation, we head to a restaurant in the centre of town that's popular with students and enjoy our evening meal.

Restaurants in Falmouth, Cornwall

As I was up early and it has been a crazy day, a single glass of wine intoxicates more quickly than usual, but I try to pretend that I'm 'normal' (whatever that might be) and remind myself that on a good day I can fake normality rather well. I stick to 'safe' topics such as plans after university, cats, (E has several) and hopes that she and Olivia will remain in touch. It's all gone rather well, but with tiredness comes the possibility of saying something daft. Olivia is looking at me with a look that says, 'See, you can do this when you want to.'

My philosophy is more along the lines of... 'life's too short to be normal, why pretend?'

Jools Holland is playing in town and we meander towards the music after enjoying our meal. The concert is screened off, but we hear perfectly and occasionally catch glimpses of what's going on behind the mesh fence. It's a delightful end to a tiring day.

Falmouth, Cornwall

We stand on the pier behind the shops and restaurants and the clouds are perfect for cloud spotting. I deliberate over whether or not my daughter would approve of this topic, but decide to go with it anyway. I spot a fish and a rabbit and Mr A spots a cloud shaped like a chicken drumstick. I snort with laughter and E finds it all rather amusing. I get the impression that we have wandered too far from the realms of normality as Olivia dishes out a disapproving look. As the concert finishes, Mr A and myself make our excuses and return to the hotel, leaving the students to party.

The following morning we meet up with Olivia and drive to Sennen Cove and Porthcurno for rain-soaked walks along sea-misted beaches. We do this a lot in the UK. If you stay in waiting for the weather to become less inclement, you'd spend most of your life indoors. The day feels more like November than June.

Over a lunch of carrot and coriander soup, while attempting to thaw and dry out a little, Olivia pipes up with, 'Well you've completely fooled E, she thinks you're lovely and wants to come and stay when she's doing her master's.'

'Oh, it would be a pleasure to see her,' I add.

'Would it?' said my daughter. 'I have no idea how the hell you'd pretend to be normal for that long,' she says.

My daughter may have a point.

Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton






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Saturday, 2 July 2016

12 Simple Ideas For Making the Most of Summer

Aloha, Summer 2016I'm all for making the most of lazy days and spending time in the great outdoors during the summer months. As both daughters finish university, there are plans to spend as much time as possible with daughter, Olivia, while Sophia leaves to work in the US until September. I am hoping that this summer will be a fabulous one despite missing Sophia a lot.

According to George Gershwin... 'Summertime, and the livin is easy...' epitomises everything that summer should be. A time for kicking back and taking time out to enjoy simple pleasures and exploring the great British countryside.

Here's my essential checklist for summer 2016...

1. Download a playlist that's filled with fabulous summer memories and perfect for warm summer days...


Sunglasses, summer, playlist


2. Go for a really long walk and return home only after a leisurely lunch outside the pub...

Pub lunch, summer, outdoors


3. Make the most of sunny days and warmer weather to attend local sporting events...

Regatta, summer


4. Take an early morning walk and try to spot some wildlife...

Early morning, walks, wildlife


5. Take a trip to the beach and dip your toes in the sea (or maybe wade in a little further if you're feeling brave!).

Beach, paddle, toes


6. Make S'mores on the barbecue...

S'mores, barbecue, marshmallows

How to make...
  • Take 2 biscuits (digestives and cookies both work well) but I prefer Graham Crackers (which aren't easy to find in the UK).
  • Place a square of chocolate onto each of the biscuits (Hershey's is used traditionally, but any chocolate works well).
  • Skewer a marshmallow and hold it carefully over the flames of the barbecue while rotating so that it cooks evenly. This is cooked when golden-brown in colour.
  • Place the marshmallow on top of the chocolate without removing the skewer. 
  • Place the remaining chocolate and biscuit on top of the cooked marshmallow.
  • Press down slightly so that the hot marshmallow melts the chocolate and sticks the s'more together.
  • Remove the skewer and wait a few seconds before eating.  

7. Drink hot chocolate under the stars (and wrap up in a blanket when the temperature start to fall).

Hot chocolate, night sky


8. Make a daisy chain and give it to someone you love...

Daisies


9. Go strawberry picking and spend the rest of the day enjoying a bowl or two and maybe enjoy a jug of Pimms :o)

Strawberry picking


10. Spend time watching the clouds and make pictures out of the formations...

Cloud watching


11. Make a picnic and head off for a day filled with adventure. Why not make an alternative selection of sandwiches such as Peanut butter, banana and honey?


Picnic, adventure, outdoors

12. Enjoy those great summer book releases and read outside in the sunshine...

Book, summer, reading outside


Here's to making the most of summer and hoping that the great British weather is glorious in 2016.

Are there any more you'd add to the list?


Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton



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Friday, 24 June 2016

The Week That Was... 24th June 2016


Always remember to plan aheadI'm wondering if there's any such thing as a normal week in the Anderton house?

Here, it's more a case of define normal, move the goalposts several times and just run with it. I've decided that it's good to find humour in the ridiculous. I suspect it's the only thing keeping me sane.  
 
This was my week...

Monday
Monday evening provided a welcome reprieve from the rain and we ventured out for a walk and came home via the pub. There is something rather indulgent about sitting in a beer garden on a Monday night and drinking Pimms in the sun. Life's too short not to enjoy a glass of something on a Monday don't you think? Note to self: make the most of the great British weather whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Why  I don't send Mr A into town all that often
On Thursday Mr A went into town to run a couple of errands. As I arrived home late that evening, I asked about his day and it transpired that as there was a queue in the bank, he promptly turned around and left again and instead of picking up the couple of items I'd asked for, this is what he bought...

                                                   2 French lavender plants
                                                   A bag of compost
                                                   Some rechargeable batteries
                                                  A thoughtful gift for the love of his life...

Abandoned cat toys on a wooden floor

In case you were wondering, this is the love of his life and here they are curled up on the sofa...

Man and cat curled up on the sofa
 
The cat has never ever played with anything that's a conventional cat toy. She prefers getting hold of things she isn't meant to have and fixating on them for days. She will sulk if you take it off her and so we've mostly given up. She looked at her gift on the floor, shot Mr A a withering look and wandered off into the garden for several hours.

Daughters
Sophia arrived safely at Camp in Oregon and we managed to Skype on Sunday. The camp looks unspoilt, rustic and she is enjoying herself immensely. She won't be home until September. After last year's Camp America trip, followed by travelling around for 3 weeks, I am feeling more relaxed about her being away this time. If you love them, you have to let them go, right? Oregon is 8 hours behind the UK and I find thinking about what she might be up to at any given moment strangely comforting. I have no idea why this is.

Olivia, meanwhile has been on a work experience placement and arrives at home next week along with 3 year's worth of whatever it is they accumulate at university. 

Reading
I've recently finished reading To Be Continued by James Robertson. This will be reviewed at a later date on the blog, but was a thoroughly enjoyable, slightly surreal read. Thanks to Penguin for the advance copy.

The week ahead...
If I'm not around much over the next few days, it's because I'm in Cornwall collecting Olivia from university and will be staying for a few nights. Beloved daughter has already made plans and we're off to the local rum bar for cocktails and maybe the gin palace... as well as packing up all of her belongings ready for the move home.

Gin Palace in Falmouth


Have a fabulous weekend. See you when I get back x

Izzie

Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton


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Monday, 20 June 2016

To my daughters as they leave uni...


Anything is possibleIt seems like days rather than years since you were switching classes at school, hosting stage shows for Beanie Babies and loved playing with cars, rather than dolls. My sweet little bundles of mischief... all fun and laughter, now all grown and ready to face the world after three years at uni.

Your mum has no idea how the time has passed so quickly. All I know is that you have grown up a lot. Occasionally you agree with something I've said and that makes me smile. It's not so very long ago that we didn't agree about anything at all. I guess that makes you your mother's daughters. You compare me to the mum in The Goldbergs and yep, I'm always fighting your corner and wanting the best for you both.

I grew up in the eighties where my own experience of parenting was a decidedly laid-back affair. I vowed to be different when I had a family of my own and I was. If you're lucky enough to have children some day, I'm sure you'll create your own style of parenting and want to kick yourself for all the things you did wrong in later life too. You learn from mistakes. It's taken me a long time to realise that children need to fall down a few dozen hundred times and learn how to fix their own problems.

While at university we've had our share of early morning calls and attempted computer fixes over the phone.  There have been calls via Skype when a mum knows instinctively when something is right (or wrong) and I've pleaded for kisses and dished out hugs (not always reciprocated). We even did an early morning sprint across country when concern turned to despair. It all worked out fine in the end.

It's still being a mum, but not as you know it - this parenting from a distance. And just as I'm getting used to life at home with your dad and the cat, life is about to change all over again.

You are going to have to humour me for a while as I get used to the new status quo. I will try my  best to leave you to get on with your own lives and if I don't, feel free to remind me.

It's time for you to unleash yourselves on the world...

Be awesome. Go, have a few adventures and, if something isn't right, don't be afraid to change it for something that is. Chances are the career of your dreams won't happen overnight and instead of going from A to B to find whatever it is you're looking for, there will be a few pit-stops along the way. Life is all about reinvention and re-writing the rule book when it no longer meets your requirements. If something makes you unhappy, then it's time to move on and find something else.

For the first time ever, your future is unwritten. How scary and utterly brilliant is that?! 

Be happy,

Mum x

Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton
 
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