Hopeman on a Hot Weekend

Sunday March 25

Argh, unlike the rest of the country wittering on about the lovely unseasonally hot weather last weekend, I was too busy enjoying it to write! So, where did Family Trout go?

Mini, you're NOT going to swim out to the seal - it'll eat you!

Well, local of course: we decided to drive down to Hopeman beach. The minxes clambered out the car and went tearing over to the beach huts, past the fossilised dinosaur footprints. They’d all been painted, and most were sporting dolphins. Because we’ve spent most of 2012 ill (chicken pox then that horrible virus that lingered for a month), we’ve not really been out much. So I insisted that we walk up the trail in the direction of Lossiemouth so I could walk past all the gorse. I’ve told you about my gorse addiction before, lots of times. It was still morning, so I had to shove my nose into the spikes to fill my lungs with its coconutty suntan smell – the air didn’t get heavy with its scent until afternoon.

The kids soon got bored with walking when there was an entire empty beach to play on, so we tumbled down the dunes onto the sand. Maxi got straight to work, building a collage of a mermaid (shells for necklace and earrings, fancy fish-tail, seaweed hair), while Midi hoarded seaweed for herself, muttering about making a stew that would turn Maxi and Mini into toads. Mini filled my pockets with her Treasure (so that was a dead bee, some seaweed, broken seashells and most of the beach’s stones). The Boss headed off to clamber over some sandy rocks in his wellies, while his mum spotted a seal. I contented myself with turning over rocks to find starfish and winkles. It made me unbearably hungry, so we headed back for lunch. In the garden. With bubbles for afters.

Everyone loves bubbles, right? Every kid that ever was loves to chase after and pop bubbles. Every adult loves to blow them. What’s not to love about bubbles? I even raised a smile out of stropping, over-tired Midi just blowing a few big ones her way. I guess that’s my other top tip about being a parent: always keep a bottle of bubble mix nearby. It makes for a brilliant reward, a cheer-er-upper, a distracter, a brilliant burn-the-energy-out-of-the-little-blighters, and just a fun past time. I bought Tesco out of its (2) biggest bottles of bubble mix to keep us going for another week…

First Day of Summer

Yeah, I know it’s only 10 April, so hardly summer.  But today was such a lovely long, warm, gorgeous day, that it made me feel all summery.  Maxi Minx turns 5 in a few days; the day she was born was a suddenly sunny and hot day, and every birthday since has been sunny and surprisingly warm.  I hope her actual birthday continues the trend, but if not, today will do.

Midi was ill again (some kind of virus – fever, green snot, aches and pains yesterday) but perked up today.  I think every minute she spends in my bed cuddled up to me it’s like we trade sleep – I don’t, and in return, she gets my share of sleep.  Anyway, despite it being a bit hazy, we decided to walk along the coast.


A little piece of heaven. If you close your eyes.

The other thing about this time of year is the gorse.  Oh my God, I love the gorse!  It’s spiky, nasty stuff (Friday’s walk with The Boss has left big holes in my thighs and feet from the stuff) but its scent is just a piece of heaven.  Last year it was mostly honey; this year it’s definitely coconut.  On the walk down to the beach I kept shoving my face into clusters of the stuff and sniffing it.  On the walk back, it had released its smell into a heady cloud of perfume all around us.  Even sniffle-infested Maxi Minx could smell it.

We had a nice long walk past the Cummingston crag, me and The Boss gazing wistfully at the climbers (soon…when the minxes are old enough to belay…), then on to the beach beside the caves and natural arches.  While I wittered on about ‘Oh my, this time last year Baby R was just 3 weeks old and we sat right here, and you built a sandcastle right there, and …’, the girls looked for shells and sea glass.

As of last night at midnight, my 16 years of working for an organisation came to an end.  So it was strange to bump into a woman I knew from work 2 years ago on the beach (she was lovely – it was so nice to catch up), and downright freaky to nearly be run over by a man on a bicycle who was a much-distrusted instructor 14 years ago.  He didn’t recognise me.  He was also very grey, whereas I’m only a bit shabby at the edges.  I inwardly chalked one up to me.  I’m very, very shallow.

Gardening Hands

Never mind Happy Feet, these are 'Happy Hands'

Getting home (past the bags of wrapped and abandoned dog poo – I ranted about that in my last post) I decided to Do Something about the weeds.  The grass poking through the stones does my head in, so I patiently scraped the stones away and pulled out all the tufts.  Took hours, but it was pretty satisfying because I got to flatten the badly-piled up stones into something vaguely garden-looking.  On a roll, I decided to dig out one of the raised beds.  Maxi and Midi Minx had fitfully helped me weed, then abandoned that for the more entertaining sport of sister-baiting.

Usual stuff: “That’s my tent!”

“I had that leaf first!”

I’m playing with baby R – you go away!”

“That’s my lemonade!”

(photo deleted)Bravely, I armed them with a trowel and midi spade each, covered their hands with thick gloves (I’ve seen too many cats poo in that patch over winter) and let them loose.  They dug up all the old over-wintered, slug-ridden swedes, then attacked the grass.  I let them leave the chard because it’s big and with its scarlet stems it looks really pretty.  We all got in a right filthy mess, but they enjoyed it.  So did I, to be honest.  They even co-operated (one held the little pop-up bin while the other cleared up the kiddie gardening tools), hich brought a hormonal tear to my eye.  Then we sowed some orange carrots (Early Nantes), some purple carrots and some parsnips.  All bar the purple carrots were on tapes.  Yep, lazy gardening.  But when you have to keep leaving what you’re doing to pick up a Mini Minx and yank out clods of mud / stones / leaves / toys / grass / flowers from her mouth, it’s money well spent and time spared.  Hopefully this year the bloomin’ parsnips will actually germinate!

I’ve stuck huge big sticks (old sunflower stems – 2 inches diameter and 5-6ft long) all over the bed to keep the cats off.  Never mind cats, they’d scare off an albatross, and look very sculptural.  And scary.

Before I go: some Mini Minxisms…

Yesterday she climbed her first stair.  Today she managed to get almost all the way to the top, chasing after her eldest sister. Occasionally she’d stop, try to stand unaided, wobble, and me or her Daddy’s spotting stopped her tumbling to the bottom.  She can stand on her own for 5 – 6 seconds, but only when she forgets that she can’t stand on her own.  Then she laughs maniacally and bares her top gum with a scary nose-wrinkle.  It’s a face that only a parent could love, and my God, I adore it!

Finally, proof that I do baby-wear wearing different clothes.  And proof that Mini gets so comfy that she’s taken to having her morning nap on me.  Now to suss out the BWCC just myself, with no helper.  Ulp…

sleeping baby wear

Sleeping Mini

Back baby wearing

Back view of Back Wrap Cross Carry

Moray Coast Trail Walk

Mini loves her sisters very much.  She especially loves their hair.  This evening Maxi and Midi sat on their little chairs in front of a Mr Tumble DVD we’re reviewing, waiting for dinner.  Mini zoomed over to Midi, stood up, and carefully started trying to comb her big sister’s hair with a little toy comb.  Of course, it got stuck in Midi’s bobble and tugged, making Midi yelp.  Fair play to my little thug, she gently moved Mini’s hand away rather than shove her over.  On being looked at by her idol, Mini immediately started to blow kisses to Midi, beaming at her all wide-eyed and toothless, gummy grin, with the new added twist of a wrinkled nose. 

In other news:

Mini sometimes forgets that she can’t stand on her own and does, for a few seconds at a time.  She’s obsessed with posting things in holes – God help our video player.

Moray Pebbles

Moray Pebbles

Today (Friday – I held off posting until I could upload pics) was the last day of The Boss’s holiday from work.  The threatened rain disappeared into glorious sunshine, so we went for a walk along the Moray coast.  First off though was lunch at the Covesea Golf Club because The Boss had seen a good menu there once.  Well, my word, we ate like royalty!  We shared a half-lobster salad and a baked potato and smoked haddock.  Delicious!  No wonder it was heaving, with loads of oldies waiting in their cars outside.  I reckon they form a co-operative: 5 or 6 oldies go to different eateries around Moray.  One starts the chain text: “They’re doing Cullen Skink at the Garden Centre!” and the rest all descend on the place.  We gave some creamy sweet lobster to Mini, but she preferred the wholemeal bread and <shudder> margarine.

BWCC Ruck Tibetan

Back Wrap Cross Carry with rucksack straps and a Tibetan finish. I think. (I hope)

I braved putting Mini in a back-wrap in public. Well, on the grass beside the carpark just in case she fell.  This time she didn’t wriggle or complain – maybe she’s finally sussed that the rainbow wrap flapping about means an hour or 2 of Mummy-cuddles!  This wrap was a new one again: Back Wrap Cross Carry with rucksack straps and a Tibetan finish.  I preferred yesterday’s front cross BWCC even though it flattened my miniscule bust even further.  And by the way, I do own more clothes than that old red fleece and waterproof grey trousers.  Hell, I even wash these ones!  But they’re so practical that I do wear them most days in early spring / winter.  Really.

Moray wild primrose

Slap-bang in the middle of the Moray coast trail, a little outcrop of prettiness

Anyway, we walked around the trail from the lighthouse towards the west for 45 mins, then onto the sand and a bimble back (at high tide too).  The gorse is really starting to come out.  I hear tomorrow is going to be pretty calm, so the scent should be heavenly.  I can’t wait!  It’s my biggest and most favourite Spring treat, breathing in the gorse perfume.  We also came across some wild primroses which I’d never seen before.  Lovely!