the dark will rise in our home soon

Sounds a bit ominous doesn’t it. What I actually mean is that it struck me today, as my husband and I took to a cave-studded stretch of Cornish coastline for a blustery walk, that it won’t be long before my children are ready for Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising series.

We’re four books into Narnia and well-versed in Harry Potter and I know that, now that they’re familiar with the bones of Arthurian legend and have fond, vivid impressions of Cornwall, they’ll love the pagan, mystical intrigue of the children who, together with Great Uncle Merry/ Merriman and other beings of Light, work to fight back the powers of the rising Dark.

Not to mention the fact that Simon, Barney and Jane mirror the two boys/ one girl pattern of their own triumvirate. They’ll be all over that one.

I’ve only ever met one other adult – Hannah, her name was – who’d read these books. She wondered whether, despite Susan Cooper being British, their popularity had been greater in the Antipodes; she herself had encountered the series in New Zealand.

My own box set, given to me as a child, is in storage at my mum’s place in Australia. I can’t wait until the end of the year to unearth and read them, I don’t think. Amazon, expect an order soon.

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I bought my grandma roses

It’s 64 years today since my grandmother died. Obviously this means that I never met her, but she’s still been, in various ways, a big part of my life, not least because growing up without a mother impacted on my mother; understandably, she dreamed of the kind of mother she’d have liked to’ve had and ultimately, set out to be that sort of mother herself. She wanted to do things – shopping, theatre, meals out – with her daughters that her own mother wasn’t able to do with her (unfortunately she doesn’t seem to have been too bothered that her own mother never taught her about good makeup application, completely bypassing this crucial skill in all of her mother-daughter bonding with me, which is why, I think, I will never be the picture of polished perfection that I once – can’t be bothered to worry about it now – aspired to be)

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Unsurprisingly, my mother knows very little about her mum. But, from what little she does know, there are three standout points for me: she was a voracious reader, she liked shoes, and roses were her favourite flowers.

So, today I bought roses for Grandma Meg. I would also have worn lovely shoes, except that the blizzardy, diabolical weather made it impossible, so instead, I shall upload some pictures of some of my current wishlist/ wardrobe favourite pairs. And then I will go and read a chapter or two of my book, The Service of Clouds by Australian author Delia Falconer – (which, completely coincidentally, involves a patient dying of TB, the disease from which my grandmother died), before bed.

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Zara monochrome shoes, £39.99

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Zara silver studded heels, £39.99

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Dune colour block wedges £75.00

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Perspex-heeled shoe boots from ASOS, £60

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bright perpsex-heeled sandals from ASOS, now £26. Must confess these are in my wardrobe rather than on my wishlist.

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Sam Edelman flat sandals. Again, these have moved from wishlist to wardrobe

I hope my mum’s day has been peaceful and sunny, and I hope that she knows that losing her own mum, tragic and before-time as it was, makes her three kids appreciate all the more everything that she’s done for us. Being good at something that you had no teacher or role model for is pretty special, really, isn’t it?

Mum & Queen Victoria at London's National Portrait Gallery. Two great ladies!

Mum & Queen Victoria at London’s National Portrait Gallery. Two great ladies!

she went as a character from the book I gave her

So today is World Book Day. This year, my Big Two’s school asked that they make an object from a book and I felt a certain proud, maternal satisfaction, taking them in with the projects they’d done (mostly) themselves. My 5-year-old son made the red wooden tray from Uncle Andrew’s study in The Magician’s Nephew, on which are arranged the magic yellow and green rings: a shoebox lid, painted and then filled with pairs of rings crafted from Model Magic. My 6-year-old daughter, similarly keen on Narnia, stuck clear gems all over a plastic bottle full of orange-tinted water and stoppered it with a cork: this was Lucy’s flask of restorative cordial from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Bish bash bosh, nothing über-fancy, but at least their own work. Honestly, you do wonder at some of the creations borne into school by parents; creations that have clearly never had the hand of a Key Stage 1 child anywhere in their vicinity.

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Dressing up, rather than craft, was the order of the day for my three-year-old, and at nursery drop-off, my heart swelled all over again as I bid goodbye for the day to the cutest-ever bespectacled Harry Potter.

But the child who really tugged the muscles that make my mouth curve upwards today was my friend’s daughter, who went to her school dressed, in a bathrobe, as Laura from Laura’s Star. 

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A little bit of background. My friend and I both lost babies before having our families, although we didn’t meet until years later. My daughter was called Star; my friend named her subsequent child a variation of this. She is fiercely and touchingly attached to her daughter and, having already been through the wrench of my daughter starting school, I had no doubt that it would be tough on both of them when their time came.

Laura’s Star is the beautiful story of a lonely little girl who finds a broken star in the street. She bandages it, nurses it and plays with it, tells it all of her secrets… But gradually realises that the star’s light is fading and that she must release it to heaven for it to live. It’s always resonated with me because I’ve consoled myself with the idea that I had to let my Star leave this earth in order to let her shine brightly in heaven. Knowing that the difficult step, whether you’ve lost a child or not, of beginning to let go of your living children is vital in allowing them to shine, it seemed the perfect story to send to my book-mad friend and her daughter as a ‘good luck with starting school’ gift.

Having said all of that, I guess it stands to reason that I had my friend, perhaps even more so than her daughter, in mind when I bought that book.  So, although this may seem like a bit of a sad post, it’s truly not: to hear that her daughter loves the story so much that she chose to be Laura today made me very, very happy indeed.

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he was reading Murakami

Taking my youngest out this morning, we squeezed on to a packed commuter train at Crofton Park. Finding a seat and holding my son, in all of his puffa-jacketed squeeziness, on my lap, I found myself knee-to-knee with an older man, say in his 60s, reading What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. 

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“Oh I love that book!” I exclaimed.

He looked up and smiled; he had a kind face. “It’s wonderful,” he agreed. “Very inspiring,”

That was it really. Just a few more smiles for my son as he prattled gaily on about everything and nothing, and a smile and a goodbye for me as I got off the train. I wondered whether he was a runner; whether he’d ever run a marathon (or, heaven forbid, an Ultra; the mere thought of it makes me feel quite sick).

My own marathon plans (Paris, April 2012) were scuppered last year by pneumonia and, with my lungs still ‘not quite right’, I’ve shelved long runs for now and am running the British 10K London Run in July with my friend Steph – check out her blog, Mama Marmalade – for Tommy’s. Since we’ve both experienced the loss of a child, and considering that Steph is soon to leave the UK to head back home, I’m predicting that it will be an even more meaningful experience than hauling my family to Paris to watch me stagger over 4 times that distance could ever have been! And besides, if you don’t always achieve your goals, well, you can always set new ones, right?