I packed away the winter coats and shoes

Enough’s enough, right? I don’t deny that we might have several a few more chilly days ahead but by Jove, I’ve had my wintry outers up to the wotsits.

So today, I pulled out the storage bags containing my summer stuff, packed away the coats and boots and rediscovered my last-season sandals. It’s sad but true to say that many of them bear more than a passing resemblance to footwear I’ve already, avidly, bought this season but I’m nothing if not consistent; it’s completely in character for me to wander into a store wearing, say, a grey sweater and to walk out clutching a bag containing an almost identical knit. The worst example ever of this was the day that I stood in Cos swooning over a navy wool dress with leather patch pockets before it gradually dawned on me that not only did I already own the dress in question: I was in fact wearing it at that very moment.

Anyway. The only thing that’s better than having summery shoes to wear is having the weather and the occasion for wearing them. Yesterday morning? Not so much: I did an MCC Promotions-organised 10km run on Peckham Rye with two other mums from school, where footwear of a functional, rather than fabulous, nature was the order of the day, especially since a gait assessment at Runners Need revealed my hideous overpronation. My trainers are practically platforms, yes, but running in heels has never felt so good.

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In the evening, however, we had dinner at The Begging Bowl with some of our friends, and it was bare legs, Sam Edelman Flynn sandals and fantastically flavoursome food. Today, my husband’s uncle and his partner took us out for lunch at Le Querce, for which I wore winged Ancient Greek sandals bought from Net-a-Porter last summer (along with a Zara dress in a good-to-be-alive shade of green)  The monkfish was amazing and the children seated at the next table were fairly hideous, which had an unhappy effect on noise levels and our ability to converse, but a brilliantly positive impact on how we, and the uncles, regarded the behaviour of our three. Now, I don’t know about other mothers out there, but to me this is pretty much the Holy Grail of a day out: eating delicious food, enjoying the company you’re with, feeling proud of your children and not feeling that every stitch you’re wearing has been chosen purely for matters of “I’m with the kids” practicality but also because you a) actually like them and b) the sun is shining after far, far too long of doing anything but that.

Would I be jinxing matters if I booked a pedi for next week, do you think?

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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?

my youngest fell asleep in my arms

I was tempted to write ‘baby’ just then. He’s not, not truly, not any more – he’s a big strapping lad of almost three-and-a-half and a bundle of mischief to boot. But as my last-born, he is of course, to me, still my baby.

Those babyish moments are getting fewer and farther between, however. Rarely does he wake in the night to complete his sleeping hours in our bed any more, and there’s not a great deal of day-to-day stuff that he requires my help with now.

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So, after a day in town buying a Nespresso machine (about which I am also very happy, but the sleeping thing outshines it) and having lunch at Wholefoods (where a lovely staff member gave my son a macaroon because, she said, he was “just so adorable” – yes, this also made my day) we found ourselves in Brixton waiting for the bus. We were by a busy road, so I picked him up to keep him safe and – almost instantly – he burrowed his face in my neck and dozed off. He’s no lightweight but it’s amazing how much your arms can take when you really, really want the thing you’re holding (I for instance would be likely to power enthusiastically through the streets with 40 kilos worth of Zara and H&M bags, but moan pathetically about the weight of 10 kilos of Sainsbury’s buys).

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The bus came, and I heaved myself and – oh go on, let me say it – the baby on. I tend to make a point of saying hello to bus drivers regardless of anything but the beaming smile I shot this one must surely have left him scratching his head. And my baby slept nearly all the way home.

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I wasn’t glued to my iPhone

One of my resolutions this year was to spend less time with my eyes in a loving lock with a device. It’s been revelatory: I’m reading more, noticing more (Oooh, hello nice shoes. Hello, smiley child. Hello, poster for an exhibition that I’d like to see. Hello, everyone else on my carriage, texting and tweeting as if your lives depended on it)

I’ve not been that well lately and am easily tired, so it was pretty easy to get on the train this afternoon and just look forward to getting home to my family and to all of the Valentine’s Day daftness we had planned for each other: the uber-pink confection we made yesterday, cards, silly messages, chocolates and cuddles. There was also Parent/ Teacher night to look forward to (!) (it was actually fine. Turns out they’re good kids ;-))

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Anyway, gazing rather vacantly out of the window, I clocked this. Now the irony is that I immediately reached for my phone to Instagram it. But, on the other hand, if I’d been reading everyone’s Valentine’s Day updates on Facebook, I’d likely’ve missed it all together.

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our neighbours are also our friends

Not to come over all Ramsay Street about it (I’m not entirely sure how good their friendships are anyway, those scheming, conniving Aussie suburbanites) but I think we’re massively lucky that the family who live opposite us have become people with whom we go out, whose house we hang out at, and who hang out at ours; people for whom mutual favours ranging from childcare to DIY are the norm and people we genuinely like and have a good laugh with. And not just the adults – the kids, too, will happily play, draw, run around, snowball fight and watch TV. There’s a nice beingness to it.

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Today was Pancake Day/ Shrove Tuesday and the four of them came over for the evening. The Dads engaged in a Grand Flip Off (it was a tie) and the kids mmmed and aaahed with maple syrup running down their chins and Nutella staining their lips; we adults were only slightly more refined in our scoffage. Being of a paleo persuasion, but not wanting to miss any of the indulgent fun, I tweaked this recipe by Chef Katelyn, omitting the stevia and chocolate chips (yes – still the sugar detox!) and substituting a dash of vanilla extract. Just. So. Yum!

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I got some quality time alone with my daughter

With my husband and our nephew at home painting the loft, it was far too tempting to drop the boys home and go to pick up my 6 year old girl from ballet by myself. It was nice to be able to get her changed, chat with her friends and gather up her things – all without having to reprimand the boys for whooping or hollering or climbing on gym equipment.

“How do you fancy a secret mission?” I asked. Her eyes gleamed. “Ye-AH!” she enthused. “What is it?”

“I need to buy a Valentine’s Day card for Daddy. Can you help me choose one?”

She turned proudly to her friends. “My Mummy and Daddy are in love,” she beamed. So off we went, to ED in East Dulwich, where cards both schmaltzy and mick-taking jostled for our attention. I opted to take the mick, explaining to my daughter that we wouldn’t want Daddy think that Mummy had had a personality transplant.

The card. A disclaimer: we have never been to Harvester.

The card. A disclaimer: we have never been to Harvester.

“Anyone you want to buy a card for?” I asked innocently. She nodded earnestly. Yes – her brothers and her father. She mentioned that she would also, later, get one for me: “Because Daddy probably won’t bother.”

The care and deliberation she put into choosing those three cards was enough to break a heart. And then on to Hope & Greenwood, where we bought heart-shaped and lip-shaped chocolates to enclose in the envelopes, and a special truffle for her, just because (nothing for me, with much internal gnashing of teeth – still on this sugar detox …)

It was only an hour, and it was only a quick squizz around a couple of shops. But it was rare, and it was precious, and it made my day.

Truffly goodness at Hope & Greenwood

Truffly goodness at Hope & Greenwood