Monthly Archives: March 2009

Life is but a dream

Lily slept through the boat race today. I notice that Cambridge will be looking for a new cox next year and something occurred to me.

I mean. I’m not a pushy parent, but let’s just go through the essentials here.

Coxes (or should that be coces?) come in small packages – yes.

To be a cox, you can be male or female – fine so far.

The lung capacity of a cox is surprising – indeed.

A key component of coxing is enjoying water – absolutely.

Coxcraft is all about manipulating people twice your size or more to do things that make their backs ache in order to achieve a big splash – this is Lily’s speciality. Great!

The Cambridge cox has to be a student at Cambridge University – …  Ah. Yes. Right. Maybe we should be working on that one. Also there is the matter of gaining 45 kg or so over the coming few years.

Oh well. I will have to settle for Lily regularly imploring me to row, row and row: with actions, should I fail to understand her meaning. She has learnt how to say a few useful words in the past weeks. In no particular order, these are:




Sees ( = cheese, feet, keys)




All other communication is a combination of simple signs, fervent looking, back arching or whining. I prefer spoken language mostly, so am working on improving this. I also feel it would benefit her when applying to Cambridge to read her Tripos Part I in Coxing.

This is assuming (among many, many other things) that Cambridge is her choice of university. Her father and grandfather graduated from there, which may be enough to make her think differently. And was I the only person to notice that the Cambridge rowing coach has a pirate patch?



So don’t sleep through the boat race, smorgeous!


Spicy Parsnips for the Soul

It is a truth universally acknowledged that all processed food taste like chicken and we all ought to be raising our own food organically, unmodified and locally and wearing dungarees (if only Boden would do them in our colours).

I am not a domestic goddess. I did recently make a parsnip soup and froze some of it, but then again maybe my husband made it. I forget. I do not raise chickens. I do not purchase fields before or after consideration. I do not know the meaning of flax. My children do not called me blessed (Lily does the best air kisses and cuddles though). My husband has no trouble finding me, and I am not worth very many rubies, according to the strict technicalities of Proverbs 31. I would love to try and write a book about trying to succeed in all these areas, though. I am not sure Mr Threescore would like sitting in the city gates, but this is what comes of being the husband of a wife of potentially noble character.

Which came first? The plot or the diversion?

So it happened this evening, after a day with the old mater and pater and a walk to the waterfront and some food which I had prepared which dad could not eat, as well as food my husband had prepared which all of us could eat, and a lovely Rioja ’78 which wasn’t on offer to Lily, but whose box may make a suitable educational toy, that my husband and I sat down for a nice supper.

This is something we often do on a Sunday evening, and it has a lot to do with being exhausted but peckish. It usually involves a reasonably priced ciabatta and a tasty soup from a company which make rather nice soups. I had chosen a yummy looking Chicken Soup from their range.

You know how it is with chicken soup – it always tastes a little better than chicken. I wish I knew how they did that. Well, I was definitely getting the spice and the parsnips, but at the point where I started feeling around with my spoon in the further regions of my bowl – as you do – for a nice lump of Actual Chicken, it became apparent that this was Spicy Parsnip soup and it just tasted a little like chicken soup…

I even had parsnip soup in the freezer! I had a sinking feeling that even the chicken soup tasted more parsnippy than my parsnip soup (then again, maybe my husband made it). I still wish I knew how they did that.

Well, two options presented themselves to me. I have always been keen to call ‘Our Careline’ – whoever she is, and find out about getting a refund or freebies and whether she is as northern as she sounds. But I do like putting things in writing given the chance, and am as concerned for our poor vegetarian friends who were getting the tastiest Spicy Parsnip Soup of their lives as I was for my own and my husband’s welfare. I was going free-range with worry. So I decided to use the website and sent a note to the Head Soup Chef. I bottled out about the vegetarians, but am now waiting for the reply, and will tell you all about it when it arrives.

Good while it lasted

There are correlations in life that we do well to notice.


Then again, there are some which may not enhance our life all that far, if we don’t actually go to pub quizzes.

I have noticed this week that there is a correlation between sleeping and walking. On a very serious level, we have discovered that Lily cannot both walk and take two naps a day of up to 2 and a half hours. Walking is Just Too Exciting. It isn’t even exhausting her.

Why would being able to walk correlate with refusing daytime naps?

Blogs should not be used for ‘Spare a Thought for the Poor Blogger’ moments, but I ask you to just consider the impact this change is having on me. I have gone from expecting three to four hours a day of ‘useful’ catching up with all the work around the house and things still needing doing for college time, to suddenly finding there is less than an hour. It is a paradigm shift. It affects my sentence length. Not only this, but suddenly there is always someone under my feet and in my cupboards and wanting to put her shoes on and go outside again to see if the flowers have grown some more, because the alternative might include an incredibly archy back and a rearrangement of a certain occipital lobe, which is not good for the old Christmas letter.

Ok. Rant over. I still find her hilarious and I imagine you might too – for example she loves counting. Proper counting, with the intonation and everything. Actually, with just the intonation. Imagine you are telling a child how to count to ten for the first time, and you use a patronising sing-song voice. Ok? Now, instead of using numbers, just say ‘ten’.

Te-en, ten, te-en, te-n, ten… ten, tee-en, te-en, te-en, ten!

Ten per cent correct, as far as I am concerned.

Chip and Pink

Somewhere between learning to walk about two weeks ago and having her lunch today, my little girl has chipped one of her teeth, so that her two front teeth look like step one and step two of ‘learning how to make interesting napkins’. This is apparently less life-threatening (according to some hasty online research) than most mothers of first-time-chippers would immediately suspect. And it may also come in handy when pondering origami during the milk teeth years. It is embarrassing enough to mention here, at any rate. Recently I have been wondering what kinds of things to discuss on this blog.

It’s not as if nothing ever happens in Threescoreland. Lots happens. Some of it trivial, difficult, confusing, expensive or irrelevant. But, as you may have suspected from my last post, I really do feel unqualified to talk about many topics with any credentials. The kinds of things I have credentials in are ancient Near Eastern literature, essay writing, languages with little use in 21st century East Anglia and the funny things that happen in classes which I still teach. In each of these areas I also feel that my expertise slips the less I do, and that I was never anyone special in the first place. I see the funny side when I shouldn’t. I question myself frequently and want to learn what things it would be best for me to pursue. I am learning the art of being satisfied with being me. Learning to be truly content. I cannot change many things I would like to change.

Ok, enough self-pity. This seems to hit me at transition points in my life, which I don’t always handle too well; I like to know what is coming and be well-prepared (and I fear Lily is just the same).

What transitions are happening now?

I have decided to leave work at the end of my current contract. It is getting harder and harder to justify work I don’t need to be doing, where I am not achieving much that wouldn’t be achieved without me and which is taking three times the amount of time I am paid for. The satisfying element of the work is a tiny fraction of it. One day, after children have reached an age where it is wise for me to go back to the classroom, I will find a job in a school again. For now, there are projects to occupy me and a daughter to raise.

The house we live in is of a certain age – not quite over the hill, but close to the top of it. (I would say a 5 minute walk from the top in fact). Bits of it are going south, getting hairy and needing a bit more TLC. This involves a bit of £££ and lots of quotes and doing real maths. I have great expectations that when it is all trimmed up and looking less bleak and more like a respectable Victorian town house I can look back at the harder times and smile. But all this development and deliberating is time-consuming and energy-sapping. I am not naturally good at choosing style, although I know it when I see it. Working out how to design a new front door with glazing has been a labour of love, for example. I still change my mind regularly about the details of the front garden, but would love a cherry tree or something similar with pink blossom and an elegant shape. Oh, and railings, standards, box, tiles and edgings. You can get edgings reclaimed on the edge of town, but you can’t get railings reclaimed at the railway station.

With me leaving work, my husband has started thinking about his own position and whether we need to assess his long-term career moves soon (or at least before the options get removed from us). This involves a deal of thinking, calculating, praying and discussing. Nothing seems too clear at the moment. There are routes he would like to consider, but there are also many unknowns.

Maybe it is also time soon to buy a pet. Don’t laugh. I spent time last night thinking through the implications of a dog, because Lily just adores them and wriggles and screams with excitement at small animals. Yesterday I fear she traumatised one, which probably went home scared of children. I am not sure a dog would be wise, but maybe we could look into fish more seriously, or something fluffy and manageable for the garden. It would help with my transition from part-time teacher to stay at home mum a little more.


This is to certify that


has hereby passed National Blog Diploma, Level 3 in Blogging

with grade Distinction

and is now qualified to write about any subject with no previous experience, understanding, wit, irony, photographic evidence or interest to the public at large until further notice

This 10th day of March 2009

Squiggly McSquiggle