Vanilla poo

The weather has been amazing for the past couple of weeks. This has been both a blessing and a curse as I have spent days in a small room photocopying and laminating non-stop in sauna-like conditions yet I could enjoy the warm evenings, watching Catrin and her friends screaming in excitement at a cheap squirty flower hosepipe attachment. I have pretended that I am on holiday in a hot country as I have been out and about on the dusty streets…it was very easy to convince myself that grey, damp, chilly England was a far away place. Only slight downside was that, unlike hot places, air conditioning is not normally installed as standard in 80-year-old, 3-bed terraced houses in the UK; sleep has been mainly done on the sofa and has failed to meet the minimum non-grump quota.

Space Baby sheltering from the Martian invasion
Space Baby sheltering from the Martian invasion

High temperatures and broken sleep have not slowed Catrin down, though. She still stages epic and terrifying Martian invasions and issues enthusiastic demands for multiple games of hide and seek (but then shouts “I’m here!” from her hiding place).

Catrin’s latest bargaining tool for getting what she wants is to do a ‘deal’ with us. This is a technique we originally tried to use to encourage her to finish her dinner and suchlike (it is only slightly similar to bribery). However, the ‘encouragement technique’ has backfired and we now find ourselves on the receiving end of conversations which normally go something like this:

“Will you finish your dinner now please?”
“I will give you a deal…I will eat one more sausage and then I can have an ice cream, ok?”

The thing is that she is so blasé and confident in her negotiations that I find myself agreeing to her terms before I realise what I am agreeing to. This skill which she has developed to a highly accomplished level at the age of 3, will probably be particularly useful to her one day (even beyond the acquisition of ice cream).

I finished my online writing course this week. I honestly think it was one of the best bargains I have ever been tempted by and found the course full of totally relevant and useful information and tips and came away desperately wanting to grab a pen and write and to really observe the detail of the world around me. I started a notebook of research notes and ideas for the story I have been evolving in my head for a week or so. I am enjoying my research and building my characters, settings and plot so much that I even think about it in my (scarce) sleep. I have already learnt a huge amount about various London landmarks that I have viewed so often that I now see them without really noticing them. The next time I visit ‘town’ I will take a much closer look.

I have been taking a closer look around me already. I have even bought a tiny notebook to carry everywhere with me, in which I have started writing observations of strangers who look like they could make excellent characters.

This afternoon, after another thunderstorm, I went for a walk along the local river with the girls and we saw the most beautiful bright blue damsel flies, as well as lucid green and chilli red ones. I have never seen such gorgeous colours on a damselfly in the UK before! As well as the damsel flies, we saw grasshoppers and many different varieties of butterflies flitting about and tiny fish swimming in the shallows.

We returned at tea time .

“What would you like with your chicken?”
“Vanilla poo.”
“What do you mean, ‘vanilla poo’?”
“Vanilla poo! Vanilla poo pasta shapes”
(Pause while I pondered this)
“Oh! Do you mean Winnie the Pooh pasta shapes?”
“Yes mummy, I said already… Vanilla poo pasta shapes!”

Noticing the detail in the patterns on a butterfly's wings...
Noticing the detail in the patterns on a butterfly’s wings…
Watching the grasshoppers make sounds with their legs...
Watching the grasshoppers make sounds with their legs…
Seeing the beautiful colours of the damsel flies (which was very hard to  capture in a photograph)
Seeing the beautiful colours of the damsel flies (which was very hard to capture in a photograph)

 

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