braidsSomeone has taught my toddler all his nursery rhymes. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t his father. It wasn’t his sister. Is he learning them by osmosis? Are they inherent in his genetic makeup, like the reflexes small babies have that stop them falling off their mother’s hairy back?

While Garnet was sick all he has wanted to do was have me read him books while he languished in my lap. Once day I dragged out a Play School book of nursery rhymes and started singing them, and lo and behold, he joined in. Now as far as I know, the only music that kid has been exposed to in the last six months is the soundtrack to Frozen, the soundtrack to Cats, and the theme tune to the TV shows Peter Rabbit, Peppa Pig and Octonauts. So how does he know ‘Incy Wincy Spider’? I’ve heard him sing ‘Let It Go’ and I’ve heard him sing ‘Journey to The Heavyside Layer’ (both multiple times each day), but somehow ‘Row Row Row Your Boat’ has crept in too.

As May Blossom is approaching four and is thus an adult with many opinions about why she should be allowed to wear earrings, have a job as a waitress and get married, she will not tolerate the playing of baby music. One morning recently as I sat and sang the nursery rhymes with Garnet, she called out from the dining room where she was gluing triangles of paper mostly to the tablecloth, ‘Will you stop that singing please? You are disturbing my work.’

‘No,’ I replied. ‘When you were a baby we sang these songs with you for hours and hours, and we never do that with Garnet, so you might just have to deal with it for a bit.’

‘Ugh,’ she groaned. There was a pause. ‘Carry on then.’

Carry on indeed.

She asked me about university the other day. I explained it is like a school you go to after you finish high school. ‘Your uncle, Superchief, goes to university,’ I told her. ‘He’s studying law.’ I started to explain about the law and how it protects civilised society from breaking down, but she interrupted me.

‘I know all about law,’ she said. ‘I can talk to him about that.’

‘What do you know about law?’ I asked her.

She thought for a moment and then, in a very serious voice, she said, ‘You must never ever stand on a crab.’

She’s right, you know. Laws are there to protect people, and crabs, I guess.

But I don’t think, ultimately, that she will go into law as a profession. Not while she can make a killing from the latest product she and Garnet have started manufacturing. This afternoon I came across them jumping up and down on an armchair, right next a tepee that her father and I set up for them yesterday, almost at the cost of our sanity and marriage.

‘Could you please stop that?’ I asked. ‘Maybe you could do the jumping inside that excellent tent instead.’

‘We can’t,’ May Blossom informed me, ‘because we live in that tent. This chair is where we work.’

‘Oh,’ I said. ‘What exactly do you do for work up on that chair?’

‘We make positivity.’

And for that there is no comeback and they are now allowed to jump on the furniture as much as they like forever.






 My daughter has a remarkable grasp of phonetic spelling. This week has indeed been totally phykd.

My daughter has a remarkable grasp of phonetic spelling. This week has indeed been totally phykd.

Gastro. Again. You’re going to start reading this and then you’ll look back at the date, sure you’ve read this post before. Didn’t they all just have gastro? Didn’t we all just make jokes about how the blog should be called Life With Gastro? How can they have it again? What is WRONG with these people?

Continue Reading »


May Blossom’s Self-Portrait With Gastro

It’s winter here, and with each new and sparkling dawn comes a new illness. I’m quite serious: since April, when we went on a dream of a holiday to Fiji, one of us has always been sick. May Blossom may laugh in the face of danger (as she told our neighbour the other day after having the dangerous heater pointed out to her), but she is defenceless in the face of every common virus that does the rounds.

Garnet kicked it off on the trip with hand, foot and mouth disease. I realise that for people not in the throes of life with little kids that sounds terrifying and the sort of thing that should bring a team in HAZMAT suits to your door to euthanase your livestock and condemn your farm, but it’s actually a reasonable mild viral illness. The affected sprog gets small blisters on their hands, feet and in their mouth. Garnet was basically fine, if a little spotty, so we responsibly parented him by not saying anything and plonking him in the sea for hours every day. His mouth was largely unaffected so he was pretty happy muddling about in the shallows, occasionally taking bites from the apple we left bobbing beside him as a snack (What? We were nearby on deck chairs but we weren’t going to put down our pina coladas and traipse down to the water every time he wanted a nibble. That’s just an inefficient use of vacation time.) The tropical fish shared his apple, but as they have neither hands nor feet they probably didn’t catch the virus. Continue Reading »


switchI regret to advise that my brain is currently unavailable for blogging. Our technicians are working to resolve the situation by getting inside my head (pictured) and randomly flicking switches in the hope that they’ll hit the right one and service will be restored. Continue Reading »

gantGin and tonic and I go back a long way. My first G and T, I’ll have you know, was taken on the balcony of the Serena Mountain Lodge in Kenya, at dusk, as a family of elephants took their evening libations. I was seventeen years old. Doesn’t that sound like a terribly sophisticated set-up? It really wasn’t. I’d just spent three days driving around Nairobi, all the while throwing up out of the car window or into my father’s terry towelling hat, from a combination of period pain and teenage angst, and was then offered an alcoholic beverage by my parents. My drinking experience at that point consisting of the occasional half-glass of wine at the family table or Brandy Alexanders at the bar of the Intercontinental Hotel (no one ever checked our IDs there), I ordered what everyone else was having. I drank my gin and tonic with the grownups and promptly fell asleep, thereby missing out on seeing all the baby rhinos and cavorting lions that visited the waterhole beside the hotel later that evening. But a love affair with a cocktail was nonetheless born that night.

As much as I love a gin and tonic I am surprisingly unfussy about how they are prepared. As long as it has gin and tonic water in it, I’ll drink it. Continue Reading »

tupperwareWe’ve had a spate of rainy days in the last few weeks, which means May Blossom has spent less time in the backyard ostensibly decorating the bricks with pavement chalk but really improvising the face make-up of the characters from Cats on herself and her brother, and more time inside immersing herself in imaginary worlds. Some of these imaginary worlds are fantastic: ‘The Witch in the Woods’, for example, or ‘Castle Doctors’ (tending to people who have been run through with lances, or have splinters from battering rams, or have burns from boiling oil). Continue Reading »

The Lucky Country


It’s the Monday night of the Australia Day long weekend, and I’m watching my daughter jump on our rusty mini-tramp while my son steams around the backyard being deeply fascinated by everything from a plastic Ikea plate to the discarded paper lanterns they just peeled off the gooseberries I picked from my mother’s vegetable garden. May Blossom is telling me about a ladybird couple called Florence and Boris and Garnet is asking for ‘Dat’, which is his word of preference at the moment. When he needs to be more specific he says ‘Dat dat’.

This weekend we’ve been, once again, with my parents in the country. It was, on balance, wonderful, despite my several early evening meltdowns, during which I hysterically cried that I CANNOT DO THIS ANYMORE and I NEED SOME SLEEP and PUT ON YOUR OWN PYJAMAS YOU ARE THREE YEARS OLD FOR GOD’S SAKE and generally behaved in a mean and distressing way to everyone around me, and then tried to breastfeed Garnet to sleep like always, only to find that his late catnap meant he only wanted to blow raspberries on my tummy and laugh like a drain. Then I stomped downstairs and cried while he shouted in his cot, and it made everything feel a hundred times worse.

Continue Reading »


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