So today marked the day of a few firsts.
It’s spring here and the sun is shining. Having just returned from a jaunt to the UK (where the rain gave us a fabulous excuse to rug up, drink wine and eat bread) we were ready for sunshine, surfing and salads. We started the day with a small headache (courtesy of Amy and Blackie’s delicious home cooking and endless glasses of yummy red) but a cup of tea and an unexpected lie in sorted us out (the first of the ‘firsts’; TJ (our son, aged 2) actually slept until 8am this morning, delaying our usual early morning call).
We pootled off to brunch at the wonderful Ash’s Table on Manly Beach, ordering a stack of pancakes and maple syrup with bacon, skim flat whites and juice and then took a stroll along the front, with TJ and Miggins (our daughter, aged 5) happily balancing on the wall, watching the surf school ‘little nippers’ running in and out of the sea with their bright yellow swimming caps.
Returning home and with the themometer reading above 20, it could only mean one thing (with a little persuasion from Miggins): the pool. Now, Mister (my husband of 8 years) is a bit of a wuss when it comes to the cold (he will readily admit) and as I have been swimming in ice cold conditions since I was little (having spent the first 8 years of my life living in a classic 70s house in Suffolk with a pool built by my dad in the garden), I couldn’t resist the pleading eyes of Miggins who very much fancied the first dip of the season. After a count of 3 (very slowly, and with a few false starts) we were in. Freezing. Ridiculous. Impossible to breath. But refreshing, exciting and fantastic fun. Miggins was a little smugger than I, as she was wearing her ‘swimming coat’ (aka a wetsuit) whilst I was just in my swimming cossie, but after 10 minutes of bravely swimming about, we stepped out, wrapped up in our towels and lay on the sun-warmed stone tiles next to the pool and it felt lovely. So lovely.
Mister, in the meantime, had been keeping a sensible distance and TJ was in the land of nod. We made a nice pot of tea and reviewed our second ‘first’, which Miggins and I deemed to be a great success. Miggins thinks we should have a daily dip from now on to get the most out of the pool, enthusiasm uncurbed by the icy conditions. Hmmm…
So we sat down together whilst I filled in the diary for the week and Miggins did some colouring with her new colouring set, a birthday present from the aforementioned Amy and Blackie and a big hit. She asked me to tell her a story from when I was little.
Spring 1982, Worlingworth, Suffolk (aged 5). I had a red and blue bike, rather too large for me and a little rusty but it marked the start of many adventures to come. My dad (affectionately know to me as Pooks) was starting to get a little frustrated, to say the least, at my inability to get going with the bike riding. It all became a bit of a fiasco. Weekend after weekend that Spring we would haul the bike out of the garage with fresh hope, Pooks promising to hold onto the back whilst I got my balance and my confidence. However, as with many things in those early years, confidence in my ability was lacking and I was a keen observer rather than a participator. It’s hard to observe your family heading off on a family picnic without you, though (as had been threatened if I didn’t buck up and learn how to ride) so I had to hurry up and get on my bike, as it were.
One weekend things all got a little too much and after getting halfway down the driveway I turned around to see whether Pooks was still holding on and seeing that he wasn’t, I promptly fell to the ground and started to cry. Pooks gave me a smack on the bottom for good measure, which sounds rather harsh but is actually now very funny and indicative of his frustration giving way after hours and hours of patient tutorial. We laugh about it a lot now, as with the incident of me repeatedly asking him whether I could play a record before bedtime when I was about 8, which was finally met with Pooks saying ‘No, no, no, no, no, no, no [smack]’, which unbeknownst to him was caught on an audio tape by my sister who was mucking around in the background. We still have the tape and you can hear the smack, although before you start thinking I was smacked quite a lot, I had a wonderful childhood, mostly smack free; those are the only two I can remember.
Anyway, we gave up for a while until one morning I just thought about my red and blue bike resting against the wall of the garage and made myself go in there and just look at it. And then I thought I would just get on, and see how it felt. I sat on the saddle and propelled it forwards with my feet on the floor, exactly as TJ now does effortlessly with his balance bike, until I got to the mossy top of the driveway. Then I pedalled. And wobbled a bit. And pedalled some more and suddenly I had it, completely by myself, unnoticed by anyone, I had done it. And I think that was it. No more drama, perhaps a few more falls, but I mastered it and never looked back.
Well the story hadn’t really captured Miggins’ imagination at that point so I went on to elaborate about a fictitious picnic in a field full of cows, who chased my oldest sister home, which Miggins found hilariously funny (and I did too once I’d visualised it) but as the story ended she announced: “let’s take the stabilisers off my bike”. So we did, and that’s the third ‘first’. Mister wandered off to look up instructions on the internet for taking stabilisers off a bike, whilst I (ever impatient) took the toolbox down and got stuck in, removing the stabilisers just before Mister appeared again to say: “I couldn’t really find anything about that. Oh, you’ve done it.”
In a much less dramatic episode than mine had been, Miggins wobbled about a bit, made sure that I (and then Mister) was holding onto the back of the bike, did a few stints up and down the driveway and then said “I think I’ll go on the trampoline now”.
And then I thought “I think it’s time I wrote a blog”.
It’s been on my mind for a while, since we had such a huge change in our lives about 11 months ago (more on that later) and I was worried that I wasn’t doing a great job of writing down all of these momentous and not so momentous things. I have also dropped my beloved iPhone numerous times, breaking the camera lens and therefore failing to photograph our day to day lives, as I had promised myself I would do.
So that was the fourth ‘first’ of the day. My blog. I hope you like it.