It’s been a strangely satisfying weekend. Strangely because I really expected bad things from it – Gill flew off to Barcelona for just under a week and I have far too much work to contemplate and also now the responsibility of caring for two kids (and half a playfull of lines to learn) (of course, Monday has yet to hit the fan… we’ll see).
Yesterday started well – we waved goodbye to Gill at 9am as I drove Rowan and her friend Amy to compete in a Sheffield Schools cross-country running event. I’m amazed that Rowan showed such interest in cross-country running: I cannot imagine ever despising anything more during my youth, and it was something that I always came second-to-last in (not last, please note. I was never quite that bad). But she did show an interest, and I was pleased that she’s at least enthusiastic about something. So I drove her to the site of the event (Rowan’s old school, Ecclesfield primary, which we hadn’t visited since we moved away three years ago). Lola and I watched as Rowan and Amy warmed up and checked out the track (meanwhile Gizmo went mad barking at children as they ran past). And the race, Y4 girls, was the first to start. I didn’t really know what to expect, but Rowan was a star. She came 39th (out of about 80 or 90 competing), and was I think 3rd of all the (many) girls in her school (her friend Claire came 3rd overall. Amy was 52nd, after tripping up early on).
We watched the other three races (Y4 boys, Y5/6 girls and Y5/6 boys) and I was amazed at how emotional these things get, lots of kids coming in tearful, lots of puffed-out red faces, lots of parents screaming and egging their kids on. Then we popped over to Morrisons and had a slightly emotional walk past our old house (which now has high wooden fences all around it including, I was somewhat taken aback to see, a fence that separates off Roy’s bungalow, at the end of the garden, from his beloved flowerbed by the stream. Gits).
When we got home, Gill was still around. I came over all cranky and emotional. I’m not sure the exact cause of this, I’m sure Gill’s imminent departure played a large part, also vital was the fact that my computer was being incredibly non-cooperative and spat out four coasters when I tried to make a nice CD of folk-type MP3s for my dad – the first time I’ve had a problem burning CDs in many years. I threw a rather large strop (and Rowan threw one simultaneously upstairs), which I’m sure meant that Gill left in a rather less jolly mood than she would have otherwise. But then, as soon as we piled into the car and I put on some soothing music (but not the folk I was after), everything seemed fine and Rowan and I got on like a house on fire.
Rowan, Lola, Gizmo and I drove down past Buxton to Staden Grange, where we were to camp with my mum, dad & sister. The campsite was a rather peculiar place. The house itself had a slightly run-down feel, and the copse of trees we were camped in was dark, full of mulchy leaves and whipped by a fearsome wind which drove horizontal spears of rain into us. My parents said they would understand it if we chose not to camp that evening, and I leapt at the chance to say we’d head off after dinner, but after an hour or two of shuffling around the inside of their camper van (which would have been relatively easy for half-a-dozen adults, but with four restless kids [or rather three restless kids: Lola, 3, Lily, 2, and Leon, 6 months, plus a very helpful Rowan, 8] and a very restless dog, it became a bit of a living hell) the sun put in a brief appearance and Rowan said she wanted to camp after all. I went against my body’s better advice, dragged myself out of the van and ran around the woods for half-an-hour with Gizmo and Lola. Somehow it worked: in spending some energy, I found more energy. We hung around, I put the tent up, we headed off to a pub for tea, and had an early night in the tent with the dog.
We were up by 7.30 and in an amazing feat of energy I had dressed and breakfasted the kids plus struck camp by 9am, and we headed back to Sheffield. After a very brief call into the house to drop off wet stuff and pick up cameras, we headed up to Langsett Barn where Terry was leading a Ramblers Association celebration of the new Right to Roam legislation. We didn’t get to see much of Terry, but we did have a lovely very short walk through pine and birch woods speckled with fungi (plenty of fly agaric for the fairy-loving kids to spot). Back for a cup of tea at Ian’s and eventually home. A pre-bedtime trip to the park to give Gizmo his daily run (he’d been on the lead throughout the walk) and the kids were absolute angels: I actually got them both into bed before 8pm, and they both dropped off to sleep as I was reading them stories. Oh, the benefits of a good knackering day of activities. Then I got to settle down (after a few frightening moments when I thought I couldn’t get the video player hooked up to the projector – horror of horrors) and watched a video of today’s eventful Chinese Grand Prix, which was also very enjoyable (bloody Ian, who videod it for me: I should know not to pay too much attention to him; I thought some rank outsider must’ve come first because he said earlier “some foreigner won it. I don’t know who he drives for”. They’re called Ferrari, Ian, only the biggest team in the game. I guess you may have heard of his teammate, bloke called Michael Schumacher. Last time Ian videod a race for me, about 18 months ago, he told me it was “a good result for England”. My heart leapt: Jenson Button was the only English driver in the field with a hope in hell of winning, and that hope was a very slim one. But he did say an English driver had won. That English driver? Bloke called David Coulthard. British, Ian, British).