brave enough to start

family of five who can, should and definitely will, see more of the world

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Another month almost over, Christmas around the corner and an overwhelming sense that every so often I’m dropping a ball or two.  Poor Teddy was distraught this morning; he’d forgotten to give in the cheque to order the Christmas cards that he’d designed at school and yesterday was the last day; by the time I found the order form still in it’s envelope after breakfast, nothing could be done. There were tears and a few of them were mine.  It really doesn’t matter – we can make Christmas cards next week but I understood his disappointment – if only we could rewind the clock and set a reminder in time.

My house is a legitimate reflection of my chaotic mind at the moment.  We’ve been trying to sort through the garage and loft and so there is junk everywhere waiting to be organised – things for selling, for donating, for cleaning and repairing and so on but after a while it’s really hard to look at it without wincing.  I need a few more lists.  Today I’ll be popping to the post office to send off some books I’ve managed to sell via an online book buying company.  Most have been valued at just a few pence each but the odd one, for example a teach yourself calligraphy tutorial book of all things, has been valued at £10 – go figure!

We are having a family lunch on Sunday to celebrate Alex’s 4th birthday and madly, I’m cooking, as if I haven’t got enough to do!  He had a little party last weekend with his friends at a soft play centre and was overjoyed at finally being able to blow out some candles and hear “happy birthday” being sung for him.  The trouble is, he now thinks he is 4 and cannot make the distinction between his party last week and his birthday this week! He hasn’t noticed that he didn’t receive any cards or gifts from his family last week – all that mattered was that we were all there celebrating with him – so he thinks that was it 🙂  It’s going to be interesting explaining that he is not 5 this weekend and he won’t be having a birthday once a week from now on: It’s so confusing when you are only 3!

So there we are, that’s the current state of play; like so many other women trying to do too much, the daily challenge of keeping all those balls moving leaves me gasping for air and longing for a reprieve.  Not long now.

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The Long and Whining Road

A couple of months ago I received a gift through the post from a lovely couple I taught a while back – a signed copy of Simeon Courtie’s The Long and Whining Road; the story of a family of five who busked their way around the world in an old VW Camper Van.  I love the book for many reasons; the subject is obviously of huge interest to me at the moment, Courtie’s writing style is hysterical and the stories he tells are inspiring.  I won’t ruin it for you, but by way of an example, one encounter he recalls involved running into an Italian family when doing a bit of unauthorised camping in the countryside. The kindness and generosity shown to his family by relative strangers is humbling and left me wondering how would I behave if I ran into a travelling family here in Britain.  Would I welcome them into my home for a meal, or even better, a comfortable night’s sleep and then arrange for them to meet people locally who could help in their journey?  Unlikely.

Knowing that there are people in the world who do though, people who don’t spend their lives focussing on what could go wrong, all those theoretical risks of interacting with strangers but instead who welcome the opportunity to get to know others even if all you know about them is a shared love of The Beatles, when I think about it, that is inspiring: I’d like to be a bit less cynical and a bit more like them.

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Too much information

I remember my parents had a set of encyclopaedias proudly displayed on a bookcase when I was a kid.  They were leather bound and very heavy, and presumably a big investment.  Apart from some minor historical value, I imagine they’d be worthless by now; how quickly we have become accustomed to having information at our fingertips.  Then last week my iPhone had to be fixed and I broke out in a bit of a cold sweat for the hour and a half it took to bring it back to life with the back up – the thought of not being able to read old text messages or see my call history, almost too much to bear. Modern problems.

The funny thing is that all this information seems to cause (me, anyway) as many problems as it solves.  The other day I was thinking about whether we should buy round-the-world flight tickets for our trip or go for individual flights.  As usual, I started with Google.  The results came in their thousands and with not enough days left in my life to read the results, let alone act on them, I headed over to a travel website and asked a few questions.  A very kind fellow traveller sent me a report that looks into this exact question. It’s over 30 pages long. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful for the report and all the effort that has gone into it, and I hope I can find the time to sit down and read it properly before the cost of flights starts to rise.  Another job for the list.

And just when I thought that this is the price of the information age, Nick told me that there are programs you can use to filter Google results and make internet searches more relevant, with less of the junk that usually overwhelms me.  The trouble is I can’t remember where he said to find them.

Maybe I’ll Google it…