Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Fair to middling

I spent much of the weekend scribbling notes in a handy little lime green notepad – no internet access at the cottage which is a surprise considering they have a walk in fridge and a lawnmower that talks to you. But, each to their own.

My decision to be nice to my mother in law was thrown into confusion the minute she got out of the car, all smiles and grabbed me in a hug, telling me I looked well. Gobsmacked isn’t the word but David informed me that he’s “had a word, I’ve told her you’re stressed about M going to school and to lay off you a bit”. Great. She is now under the impression I’m about to lose the plot and is treating me like a prime candidate for a spell in a strait jacket.

Still. I planned to keep the niceness going (not easy when she sneered at the baked camembert we had for lunch and asked why I kept insisting on feeding my family “foreign slop” Clearly old habits die hard. David gave her a Look and she immediately countered her barb with a comment about how pretty my hair looked “all curly and blonde”.

The cottage more than made up for Amelia’s presence and made me want one of my own even more. The views are nothing short of breathtaking…..we can see right out to sea and Dungeness sitting solidly to our right. Spent much of the first day getting my bearings and peering through the binoculars at the container ships gliding effortlessly along the horizon.

On Friday Mac and I went into Hastings for some shopping while David stayed at home with Amelia and the dogs. Amelia was claiming “terrible indigestion thanks to breakfast” – I’d found all manner of syrups and sauces in the cupboard so made pancakes – and preferred to just sit with her book in the conservatory. Bought some more school stuff (he’s going to be the best equipped child there at this rate) and had a hot chocolate with my suddenly grown up son. “Mum” is fast replacing “mummy” as my form of address and he admitted to a bit of a wobble about school. “What if I don’t like it, can I come home?” he enquired fearfully as he stirred his drink. Went into huge discussion about not everyone liking school but we all have to do it and tried not to do as my dad did on my return from my first day at school and tell him that he’s got “at least another ten years of this”. Think he was okay, he quite cheerfully allowed me to buy a pair of “regulation plain black training shoes” as opposed the seventy quid ones with the flashing heels.

We got back just after lunch with our Marks and Spencers booty to find the house deserted and a note from David – they’d taken the dogs up onto the Fire Hills for a run. Suspect Amelia’s indigestion was a ploy to spend time alone with her precious son. Still, I can’t complain, she allowed me to do the same with mine.

Saturday dawned bright and sunny and I did what I always want to do at home but never actually get round to doing it: tea tray and biscuits in the garden, listening to the birds tweet, the seagulls squall and geese quacking. The church bells rang in the distance as a bunny scampered across the grass, pausing only to look at me. Idyllic effect ruined somewhat by Junior Dog appearing in garden and trying to catch rabbit and thundering through a hedge into the garden next door. Not quite sure of the exact location of the geese so shot after him, forgetting was dressed only in silky pink chemise and matching shortie robe. Found bewildered neighbour (male), pruning his roses and wondering where the hell that black Labrador had come from. Grabbed Junior Dog, trying not to bend down to much so as not reveal either cleavage or the other end whilst apologising profusely. Bewildered Neighbour was charm personified and presented me with a beautiful cerise rose.

Returned to own garden to find Amelia actively searching the garden for me before yelling through to the house. “She’s here, she’s been nicking roses from next door”. My explanation at what actually happened caused her to give me a disapproving glare and ask David if he minded his wife “consorting with other men whilst half naked?”

Spent the morning out on the Fire Hills, Amelia alternately complaining about the heat, the wind and the fact that her feet ached. Didn’t care. Stood on little grassy knoll and gazed out to sea, the coastguard station’s radar throbbed reassuringly to my right and the dogs cavorted joyfully to my left while, in the distance, the wind farm glistened mistily. Returned to the bench we’d camped out on to find Amelia claiming sun stroke and general fatigue. Got home, sat down for ten minutes whereupon Amelia claimed she was “bored” and fancied a run into town. Sarcastically enquired after her heat stroke and general fatigue and she shot me a look. Poor beleaguered David agreed to take her into Hastings if she babysat that evening so we could go out. Hah!

Saturday night in Hastings and a whole other world. Big hairy tattooed bikers lounged around on throbbing Harleys, underdressed girls (God, am getting old!) fell out of pubs, slurping on alcopops and sucking on cigarettes. David and I retired to the Italian restaurant and got down to some good old fashioned romance. Then his mobile rang. Amelia claiming Mac was upset and couldn’t settle and wanted his mum. David instructed her to tell him we’d be back soon and to try and sleep. Managed to finish first course but then guilt got the better of me so we asked for the bill and I went and got the car while David paid the bill. Tried not to lust after the tiramisu on my way out. David joined me holding foil dish of tiramisu and gave me a loving wink.

Mac fast asleep when we got back. Amelia claimed he was fine after she told him we’d be back soon. When I asked Mac on Sunday morning what happened the night before and why he got so upset because we went out he gave a quizzical look and ran off to find his kite. Brilliant. Tried not to choke Amelia with the silk scarf she bought in Hastings the day before.

Sunday spent listening to the church bells, quacking geese and discreet sounds of cricket and football on the huge flat screen plasma telly. Got through entire book and packet of Burt's Chilli and Lemon crisps.

Jack Next Door joined us on Monday for the day (having already promised to take Amelia home) – Mac greeted him with an alarmed “who’s looking after my rabbit?” rather than the more usual greeting. Jack is looking more and more at home with family life, my family life which led me to enquire gently how David feels about his mothers burgeoning relationship with our neighbour. “As long as I don’t think about them doing….stuff…..I’m okay” he said with a shudder. I joined him in his shudder and took the tea things in. I shuddered again when I thought about the remote possibility of them getting married and her moving in next door. “We’ll have to move!” I said out loud and with no warning. David took this to be a suggestion that we start packing up rather than anything else.

Driving out of Fairlight behind David and Mac, he flicked on his hazard lights and pulled over onto a grass verge. I followed him and then his gaze as he pointed to a rather run down looking house. With a For Sale sign swinging jauntily from a post on the unkempt lawn.

We’re viewing it on Sunday!


aims said...

Oh Girl! I sure hope it's a long way from Amelia!

You are a saint obviously!

Potty Mummy said...

I suggest you don't tell her until after any potential wedding. That would be revenge indeed...

dulwichmum said...

OHMYGOD! You are considering a second home, not moving far away - surely???

Nunhead Mum of One said...

Aims......Saint Joanna has a nice ring to it don't you think?

Potty Mummy...while I can face the thought of Jack Next Door as my father in law I can't imagine my mother in law living next door with Jack!

Darling DM....I was just thinking of you this morning! A second home is in the offing (sssh, let's appease the Gods of House Buying by not saying too loudly)......I could never leave my beloved Nunhead and you naturally!

Working mum said...

Ooo, exciting!

Been catching up on my blog reading. Can't believe your MIL!

PS I'm also a bit 'funny' about daughter starting school and she's coming to my school with me! Still, it's a big step.

Bush Mummy said...

Your husband sounds DIVINE - I love that bit about the take away Tiramisu..

Am about to embark on holiday with my MIL - gulp. She's already bossing me about on when we will eat in/eat out etc.

Good luck with school. We are the week after and I feel like it's me going.

BM x

Tara@From Dawn Till Rusk said...

I am so lucky in that my hubby's mother is golden. I mean really golden. I can't stand women that try to make their son's other half feel inferior - I know they say there is a special bond between mother's and their sons, but that is ridiculous.
Bully for you for not rising to the bait and biting back.

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

good god, I hope you exaggerate slightly regarding that awful woman. Otherwise, I do believe I shall have to let you hire me to knock her off!

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Nunhead, London, United Kingdom
I'm a mum of one, wife of one and owner to several dogs, a variety of breeds and sizes. I live in the up and coming area (or so they say) of Nunhead and have mad neighbours, strange friends and certifiable relatives. I shop locally, although I do defect to Sainsburys once a week - shoot me now local shopkeepers.