Tuesday, July 31, 2012
There's a Danish rhyme Thomas is forever singing to the kids that goes:
Hop, hop, hop, hop,
Hop, hop, hop, hop,
Ride, ride ranke,
Hesten hedder Abildgrå
Den skal Amaia ride på
Ride, ride ranke.
With Anna and Léon we had no particular issues, but Amaia has more difficulty with the Danish R sound so has taken to asking Thomas to sing it by shouting 'Daddy, can you sing Wanker, wanker!'
The first time she says it in public, I swear I am going to laugh!
Monday, July 30, 2012
When we flew out of Pisa last week it was 36 degrees at 10 in the morning. We came through the clouds this end for nearly twenty minutes before we could see Prestwick, the weather was that bad (yes John, it does rain in Ayrshire!) On touchdown at 1pm it was 9 degrees. Waiting for the airport car park bus in the torrential rain all five of my kids look nearly suicidal, Thomas of course is smiling happily as always. I definitely got the right guy this time!
Saturday, July 28, 2012
I miss Marcel as a friend - we have lovely chats, he's such a lovely young man, an interesting and interested one - we share a taste in music, in literature, in life and when he's away the silence is crippling. Thomas and Marcel and I can talk for hours on life, politics, economics, linguistics, history - you name it. I even miss the deep voice turning up at midnight with five other 15 year olds begging a mega-sleepover on my living room floor!
I miss Léon - my soft, innocent boy, my funny little boy with his wacky anecdotes, his endless chat about Harry Potter and pirates, my brave little boy who jumps from cliffs into deep water and yet won't sleep without his scabby Snowy teddy. My little boy who still needs stories and hugs and kisses.
Yesterday was Marcel's 15th birthday. I've never not been with him on his birthday before. I expect that'll happen a lot when they are adults but it only feels like a few years since he was born, so it doesn't seem right just yet.
Like a prison sentence, I'm ticking off the days till they come back from visiting their granny in France and I can go back to having my noisy, bustling, chaotic but happy and harmonious large family all under the one roof.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Here's a photo of our wedding. Pictured with Thomas's mum is our good friend Hilary (left). I've known Hil for ten years. Léon's known her all his life. He sees her once or twice a month when we're having coffee. One day in Italy I was setting the table. I happened to say aloud in front of Léon. I need someone to get cutlery. Léon turned and smiled, delighted. He immediately exclaimed - I didn't know she was coming too, can I come with you to get her? Totally puzzled I asked what he was on about... You said Cutlery was coming, your friend Cutlery... emmm... oh that's not her name, is it? I thought you meant Hilary! What's cutlery? I guess I usually say knives and forks at home! Sweet boy!
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
I really like taking the odd sepia photo. Warmer than b&w, it still manages to focus you more on the subject all the same. I found myself using it a few times on holiday. Maybe it is because of the sunlight in the south. It might be less appealing used for a rainy Scottish landscape.
I wonder if southern Europe is more sepia and Scotland is more b&w. I'm sure I'll have plenty opportunity to test my theory...
Anyway, this has resulted in kids, some with pale eyes, most with blond hair but all with very non-Scottish skin. Not one of them has ever turned pink, they all instantly go that golden brown shade you never see here. And high factor sun cream is just a joke on them. Léon in particular, despite being the fairest with the palest eyes really acts like a native in the southern heat. He can literally run up steep hills in blazing 35 degree heat, without even flinching. On this square in Arezzo last week he managed to run and sprint for a good half an hour without even stopping for a drink (with both his younger sisters following him). I doubt many blue-skinned, ginger Glaswegian kids would have managed that with such enjoyment!
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
I also quite liked his seeming ability to walk on water... or maybe it was just a very fast shutter speed!
Monday, July 23, 2012
Note to self - next time I go to Italy in the summer leave behind my underwear and take my macro lens instead!
By my return in '92, many were falling to pieces but still they were omnipresent.
It'll be a sad day when I go on a trip to Italy at some future date and come across none. I know it is bound to happen one day, but it is unimaginable to me.
I didn't discover her till just before Back to Black was released. I'd heard the odd track from Frank, but hadn't really sat down and listened. I bought Back to Black when it came out and as I tend to do when I like music, I listened to nothing else for months. I knew all the words and was singing along without analysing them deeply - I'd listen to it on the school run, or running errands or driving home from work in rush hour traffic. My mind was always on several things. Then I remember one sunny day driving to visit a friend down at the coast so having time to really listen to what Amy and I were duetting. A cold chill ran up my spine in stark contrast to the beautiful weather that day. I remember my thoughts as if it was yesterday. It was before all the drugs and drinking and tabloid headlines had begun to appear. I remember thinking - these lyrics are mindblowingly profound for one so young, so moving, so brilliant but if I was your mother, Amy, I would be utterly terrified by the depth of feelings you are expressing.
For the next few years the world watched as she slowly died in front of our eyes. Some of us tried to hide from the pain of it all but most lapped it up, gloating. As often happens in today's society, people couldn't differentiate between soap opera and reality. A young woman, a poet, a musical genius was was slowly slipping away before us as people enjoyed the show. There was a terrible inevitability about it. I hoped and hoped but I didn't believe, not really.
It took me nearly eleven months to listen to her again after that day in July in Tuscany when I turned on Facebook and saw that someone had put the status 'RIP Amy'. I didn't need to look any further, I knew immediately what must have happened. Even now each track is greeted by floods of tears, thinking what might have been, and imagining the pain of what she was trying to share with us.
She died with her best work still ahead of her. Listening to her songs on Youtube hurts, but knowing what could have been hurts so much more. The silence she left where the music should have been is hard to bear.
Sunday, July 22, 2012
So we took the kids on the Saturday to the rally. We had a great view point above a sharp bend in Brita's and Peter's village Pieve Pontenano. Some of the villagers had a programme and any thoughts I had about leaving before the end were dashed when I noticed the last car to go was a vintage Fiat 500 (pictured above). It came round the corner to rapturous applause and flag-waving, even if it didn't seem to be the fastest thing through the village!
Given there isn't much night life in Pieve, we headed down the mountain to watch the night rally at midnight too. It was much scarier and more impressive, though it probably took about ten years off my life. Sitting along a pavement okayed by the local Carabinieri, with Lots and Granny at the front, one car missed the bend and came hurtling towards us at full speed in the dark before coming to a stop less than a metre from Charlotte's feet! One of the people sitting beside us caught it on their phone.
And for any other vintage chuggy fans, once I'd stopped shaking enough to pick my camera up again, I caught it on the night leg too!
Monday, July 16, 2012
'Mum, do you have to pay to get into the Coloseum?'
'Why, it's all broken and half of it is missing!'
'It is an important historical building Léon'
'Oh I know that mum, people used to fight in it. They were called... emmm... I think it was something that rhymed with alligators! Emm Gladiators?'
Friday, July 13, 2012
How do the wee buggers know who to bite? I could understand if some people got fewer bites than me but how can you get none? Lots and I are oozing yellow pus from open sores caused by an allergy to them. Marcel, Anna and Thomas have some red lumps but nothing more. However Amaia and Léon have none, not a single bite! How can they tell they don't want to taste them without tasting them? I don't get it.
As Léon announced yesterday looking at the state of my legs 'I'm so glad mummy that I am mosquito-proof!'
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Today Amaia's been chasing lizards all over my mother-in-law's patio shouting 'a wizard, a wizard!' How cute! I half expect Harry Potter to turn up any minute... reminds me of our wizard photoshoot here last summer!
Saturday, July 07, 2012
So Thomas baked fifty large round chilis in the oven and asked if I would peel them and pull out the seeds. They were only medium strength so I thought I'd be ok. After my hands and arms had swollen to double size and I'd tried cold water for half an hour, aftersun cream and anti-histamines, I decided googling a remedy before driving myself to casualty would be infinitely less embarrassing. Cleaning your hands thoroughly in white spirit brings the pain back from unbearable to just about livable with! Now I'm wondering what they are going to do to my insides once he's stuffed them with ricotta for tomorrow's starter?
Thursday, July 05, 2012
I just had a gammon steak for dinner. I don't have them often but when I do they always make me smile - more than thirty years on...
We were on holiday down south - mum, dad, little Derek and I. Derek must have been about seven - just finding his feet reading. It was a typical wet UK summer day and we decided to go to the aquarium in Brixham to keep out of the rain. Derek was reading the names of the fish out loudly to everyone who was gathering round the tanks. Suddenly he got very excited. He was in front of a large tank containing a 'common skate'. 'Ooooooh I've always wondered what these look like!' he squealed in delight. A seven year old who's always wondered what a common skate looks like!? But he immediately clarified by reading it to us 'Look daddy! A gammon steak!' - The entire room erupted in awwhs and laughter!