Friday, 28 October 2011

Of dogs and children . . .

There’s nothing preferential in the order of subjects in the title – it just trips off the tongue better that way.

You may have registered my absence from the blog world, apart from a few comments here and there. I have taken up bed and breakfast duties - at least that’s what it has felt like for a few days.

It’s half-term in UK, a time when teachers sigh wearily with relief at the thought of a few days away from the demands of their students. The schools close for a week and the streets and shops are thronged with happy children and their sometimes fraught parents.
Gareth was scheduled to go to New York on business and as the trip fell in half-term Nina seized the opportunity to accompany him and visit friends in the city. Accordingly they asked if their children might come and stay with us for a few days. Naturally, we were delighted and so I drove to Buckinghamshire to collect them last Thursday. The car was filled with excited chatter as we returned to Berkshire, a lot of it being speculation about how much Bertie would have grown since they last saw him.

The dogs, Gus in particular, were delighted to see the children and made a big fuss of them. In their turn they greeted the dogs and were amazed at Bertie’s size.
On Friday, Eve and I went to the garden centre where she chose violas and cyclamens for our tubs. We intended to plant them but just didn’t find the time. Elliot and I went to the bottle bank to deposit glass bottles and jars.

In the evening Gillian and her children arrived. Paul was still working on their central heating – it’s an intricate affair with what seems like miles of copper pipes, comprising a solid fuel burner with a back boiler to provide hot water, heated radiators and under floor heating in their conservatory. It’s complicated and time-consuming simply because Paul can only work on it when he’s finished his day job working on other people’s replacement kitchens, bathrooms, boilers. It’s a busman’s holiday for him, poor man!

The cousins were very happy to see each other. The last time they were all together was in August when we went camping.  The boys slept together and Kiri and Eve shared a bed. Marnie found their giggling too much and invaded Gillian’s bed.
The next three days passed in a blur of children of varying shapes and sizes and dogs of different ages with Winston alternately cuddled by young humans or chased by puppies. The children swam in the pool – sometimes twice a day - and we walked in the forest each day. 
That was always a protracted affair with several people and dogs but the weather was beautiful, with warm sun and clear skies.
On Sunday evening we had a birthday supper for Marnie as it was to be her eighteenth birthday on Tuesday and she was going home on Monday. Despite Gillian’s best endeavours to leave early it was evening by the time they set off, having walked and swum and eaten together once more. We gave Marnie her present – a satnav to ensure she need never get lost in her car - and she used it in tandem with Gillian’s device on their journey back to Dorset.

After Gillian and her family had left, the house felt strangely quiet, although there were still two adults, three children, three dogs, one puppy and a cat. The dogs felt it, too. Bertie seemed quite bereft, having spent all his time with Buster, even sleeping with him at night in the puppy pen in our room. He made up for it by chasing Winston even more exuberantly than ever. Gus had missed playing with Bertie who had been completely absorbed in frolicking with Buster, so he was happy to have his playmate back.
On Tuesday, we walked to the village and played ‘guide dogs’ on the way. This game involves one person pretending to be blind and being guided by the others. I was amazed by the children’s wholehearted participation.  Louis was the first to play blind, and he shut his eyes and trusted his safety completely to his siblings. Elliot and Eve were the same in their turn.

After lunch the children and I took the dogs out. We left Bertie at home as he was very tired after the weekend’s exertions. The sun was shining in a blue sky when we began our afternoon walk but soon the heavens opened and we felt the full force of Nature’s power shower. Eve and Louis had hoods on their tops so were partially protected. Elliot and I had no head covering and were soon drenched. Fortunately there was no wind or we would have been chilled very quickly. We all had hot showers and a change of clothes when we got home.

The children knew that Nina was due to land on Wednesday and were up and packed very early in the morning. In the way that children approach these things they had forgotten about the clothes I had washed! They were so pleased to see their mum again and to be back in their own surroundings. Nina had had a wonderful time catching up with old friends but she had missed her children just as they had missed her. I know they enjoyed staying with us and spending a lot of time with the animals and we loved having them but there really is no place like home. 

Gareth flies into UK on the 'red eye' on Saturday and I know he will be relieved to be home once more.

I had forgotten just how much time is spent preparing food, clearing up after meals, washing, tidying, overseeing children. To think I used to do it automatically and go out to work full-time! Now my daughter and daughter-in-law execute the same tasks without even thinking about them. 

So now it’s just Barry and me and the animals again. Our house never feels completely empty but it was lovely to have young ones with us again for a while. Children fill a home in a way that no other beings can J 


  1. Looks like you all had fun. I like that photo on the dining room. Looks like there is fun going on there ^_^
    Happy Friday!

    Bridge and Sky

  2. That first picture looks very similar to the place in Wisconsin my grandparents' cabin used to be. Huge trees just like that.

  3. Thanks, Kim - it was fun but I felt as though I was sleepwalking by the end - out of practice, you see;-)
    Joshua - the land is managed by the Forestry Commission. Many hundreds of trees were destroyed by fire in May and the process of clearing and replanting is ongoing, hence the substantial 'fields'.

  4. Manys the time we took our grandchildren for the weekend. It is all-consuming and fun too. Not much time for anything else. You have a lovely family.

  5. I am almost jalous what a wonderful time you had with your family and especially the grandchildren ! I think I will never reach more than maybe 2 grandchildren and then I am quiet an old grandma ! Toby will be one year old on Nov 17 !

  6. It sounds as if you have had a very full but very happy week!

  7. You all had a wonderful time together! No wonder you couldn't find time to blog. It's great that the kids get along so well.

  8. Sounds like a wonderful few days - busy, noisy and fun!

  9. I had noticed that there had been far fewer 'jabblog' posts than usual and I missed you and them. Ever the worrier I was concerned there were unpleasant dramas in your little corner of paradise - I am relieved to know the dramas were of such pleasant natures (apart from the rain).

    As I am writing this, poor Ratty is at the Vet getting er, um, 'corrected'. I hope he will be talking to us when he returns home.

    Best wishes, Isabel x

  10. I love holidays when we have a houseful of children. I am exhausted by the end of the day, but feel a sense of melancholy after they all leave, and I see a small handprint or stumble upon a toy. It looks like your family made wonderful memories.

  11. I bet the kids had a wonderful holiday ;-)

  12. Thank you all - it was fun and we feel very quiet now.

  13. Amazing how much energy you have. I'd be dead at the end of such a visit.

    It sounds so much fun, all tumbling and laughing and being active, dogs, children and grown-ups.

    You are wonderful grandparents.

  14. Sounds like a great deal of fun and work! Great photos.

    Darryl and Ruth :)

  15. Thank you, Friko and Darryl and Ruth. It was fun but I was quite light-headed by the end, so much so that I accidentally deleted a couple of paragraphs and have only just noticed!! (I've put them back, now!)

  16. Janice, I did notice your absence; but now I see it was very happy absence. It is indeed special to have one's home filling with children, though they can sometimes interfere with one's routine. (I had grands living /sleeping here with me for four days--- trust me, I know.) But they are rewarding times, special times; and it doesn't matter if you missed a few days here as you had more important things going on. KIDS and DOGS. No small things.

  17. You have been very busy lately but it all sounds like fun as well. What with walks, swims and a birthday party I am amazed you had the energy left to put this post together.

    Glad to hear everyone had fun but I'm sure you welcome a bit of rest now.

  18. Seems everyone was having fun!
    Thanks for sharing your fabulous pics;o)

    Hope you are having a wonderful weekend****

  19. Thank you, Mary, SquirrelQueen and Cildemer - it's very quiet here, now;-)

  20. Wow, you've certainly been busy. Looks like fun! Thanks for the photos.

  21. A fabulous post. A real delight to read.

  22. Thank you, Talli and Dave:-)

  23. Hi Janice .. what a wonderful family time together - the way it should be .. full of fresh air, playtime, downtime, mucky and mucking in animals .. all being fed and watered in between ... not enough beds, no worries = share ..

    I can imagine peace has settled .. but such a lovely time when they happen - good opportunity to be together ..

    Wonderful - thanks - Hilary

  24. Thanks, Hilary. We don't often have the opportunity to have all the grandchildren together.


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