Wordless Wednesday: 3 July 1999

The boy-child and me; first few days in our new house in Olney.

The boy-child and me; first few days in our new house in Olney.

Early morning in the new house in Olney. Still sleepless and exhausted, but growing into motherhood.

Early morning in the new house in Olney. Still sleepless and exhausted, but growing into motherhood.

12 weeks, 4 days and 14 hours … but who’s counting?

plane wing

My trip to the UK is booked; three weeks in September – sandwiched between the big T’s work travel and the boy-child’s exams. Eighteen days to visit all the archives, libraries, churchyards, ancestors’ houses, etc that I can squeeze in. Plus a visit to the National War Musuem in Edinburgh to see the Arctic Convoys exhibition, another to Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Wakefield, the Tate Modern, a couple of trips to the theatre … oh and a chance to see my Mum, brothers, cousins and friends.

Not sure if I can achieve all of this, but I’m taking a leaf out of my friend Alix’s book and PLANNING, PLANNING, PLANNING.

“two nations divided by a common language”

“two nations divided by a common language”

Just a quick post in response to Mustang.Koji’s question about something I wrote in Sleep.

“What is a pram?’

My dad and me. Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy, 1962.

My dad and me. Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy, 1962.

It’s not clear who said that Britain and America are two nations divided by a common language (Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw or Churchill are the main contenders), but the idiosyncrasies of language continue to confuse and confound.

So for those of you (and I know there is at least one) wondering what a “pram” might be, it’s the rather stylish vehicle in the black and white photo. Short for perambulator, these are now pretty much relegated to museums and replaced by more user-friendly devices like the one below containing my son.

Tom and me. Emberton Park, Olney, England, 1999.

Tom in his stroller/buggy/push-chair (take your pick). Emberton Park, Olney, England, 1999.

I’m not sure how much of my childhood I spent being wheeled around in this shiny metallic contraption, but I can’t imagine it was a lot of fun for my parents. They didn’t own a car in those days, so any trip that wasn’t walkable would have involved getting me and my wheels onto a bus.

By the time my brother Craig came along, my mother must have had to deal with the nightmarish daily scenario of baby-in-pram PLUS two-year-old presumably not in pram. In Scotland. Where it rains. A lot.

I remember what it was like having to faff around with Tom’s stroller when he was small and howling. There were days I found that incredibly stressful, and the thought of having to do so with a bus-load of people watching and waiting brings me out in a cold sweat even now.

Gayhurst House: a small collision of personal life with “real” history

Gayhurst House, Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, England.

Gayhurst House, Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, England.

First of all, thank you to PacificParatrooper. Your comments on a post I wrote a couple of weeks ago made me realise that living at Gayhurst House when Tom was a baby represents one of those times when private and public histories collide. For that reason, I think it’s worth writing about – a twig on my family’s tree.

September 1997

I’m four months pregnant and the baby-daddy has a new job in Milton Keynes – about an hour away from where we’re living in the countryside near Bishop’s Stortford. Industrial strength commuting isn’t new for the big T, who knows the M25 way better than the back of his hand. But hey, we’re starting to think ahead and an hour is a long time if I go into labour while he’s at work, etc.

I work from home anyway, and we don’t love the cottage we’re living in (especially in winter), so it makes sense to move closer to T’s work. Note that I said closer to … anyone who knows Milton Keynes will understand that we’re not too keen to actually live there.

We check out a few places and are beginning to get pretty depressed about our prospects of finding somewhere cool to raise the first-born. Then T. comes home one day with a letting agent’s leaflet for a flat in some old manor house called Gayhurst. It sounds crazy, but we go and look anyway …

… and promptly fall in love.

The place rocks. Continue reading