Vendee hol: in the pool

Vendee hol: in the pool

Originally uploaded by Sladey


Photoblog update

Charlie on the bus
Charlie on the bus home from Waterloo

Photoblog updated

I’m trying to keep the photoblog regularly updated, but hey…

Devils Workshop

We had a lovely Christmas, though snow prevented us from visiting the Northants and Oxfordshire families. It looks like we won’t be able to get out there until early January now.

US rellies called on Friday evening, and all seems well over there. My baby cousin Becca is back at university, studying for a qualification in behavioural analysis, which could take her around the world, working with children with particular behaviour and control issues. She’s so patient and no-nonsense with children that they immediately adore her, even when she’s telling them off,  so I’m glad that she’s using her powers for good.

Also got the latest issue of Vogue over Christmas, but I haven’t had the time to read it yet. Actually, I haven’t felt a particular NEED to read it either. Maybe my love affair with fash mags has finally come to an end.


We went to Brighton for the day, as it was hot and sunny (for October).

We headed for the beach first (Charlie’s favourite thing in the whole world right now is a beach – any beach, as long as there is sea attached); then, after much bargaining and bribery, Charlie and I went to the Brighton Pavilion. I think I first came to the Pavilion in the early 80s on a day out to see my stepsister Jeanine’s final year exhibition at Brighton Poly-as-was. Can’t remember much about the exhibition, but I do remember walking into the Banqueting Room and being totally entranced by the utter extravagance and theatricality of the chandelier. George IV would have been much happier as some kind of impresario, organising massive spectaculars to soothe and delight the masses. That’s when Brighton Pavilion officially became my favourite royal palace ever.

I’ve been back over the years, and seen the renovations being carried out. The hurricane and fire damage in the music rooms is very nearly completely repaired: the music room in particular has a strange tranquility that belies the lavish decor – though nobody is brave enough to sit directly underneath the enormous chandelier.

We had lunch in the tiny-but-excellent Pavilion tea room and then went back to the beach for a final frolic. By this time it was really getting crowded. It’s good to see that teenagers still flock to Brighton Beach like they did in my parents’ day – though there are fewer running battles between youth tribes, I suppose.

More negotiations saw me pondering a few shops on the way back to the station, with Charlie patiently tolerant and advising me on buying a new Ollie and Nic handbag in the sale (bargain). I think the reason I like Brighton is because it’s a lot like the London I grew up in: lots of quirky shops and interesting alleys, with some creeping commercialisation (plenty of chain stores in The Lanes, jostling with antique shops and other boutiques). The 90s boom times and gentrification drove out a lot of the more interesting London shops to the suburbs,where they don’t seem to flourish as they do in Brighton.

We were home in under two hours, and making plans to come back for a longer stay. With Daddy this time so that Charlie can spend more time on the beach, and Mummy can go shopping.

Summer hols update

In my first week of unemployment, I have mostly:

camera phone Aug2009 006


Taken photos of bad shoes with Luce in John Lewis, and generally clucking disapprovingly at the cost of Cath Kidson needle books that would take about 10 minutes and less than £6 to make yourself.

This was a pair of gold leather clogs. Luce was busy taking pictures of the weirdest-looking cowboy boots you ever saw, complete with diddy fake spurs


camera phone Aug2009 007




Spent Sunday on the beach at Whitstable. It didn’t feel all that hot, but this was Ceej’s back after five hours of tearing about in her swimming costume

She’s fine by the way: she’ has inherited the sun genes, at least.






camera phone Aug2009 009


Collected my passport and just about every certificate I have earned since 1982 (including the CSEs in Biology and Technical Drawing) from TfL’s Lost Property Office.

To placate Ceej, we went for a wander in Regent’s Park and she hustled me onto the pedalos in the boating lake. She steered, I pedalled, much to the consternation of the resident wildlife.



Canon Ixus August 2009 003


Made a Sew Hip tent for Ceej (to be used indoors and out, when it’s sunny). Here she is modelling the indoor version because it’s chucking it down outside.


She wants a door now

18 June: Clothkits hat

18 June: Clothkits hat

Originally uploaded by Sladey

Here’s the monkey wearing her new sun hat on the bus home from school. It’s a Clothkits pattern that took me a very enjoyable evening to make up. It even drew a compliment from my mother, the sewing genius.

Our school recently balloted parents on whether or not the the school uniform (grey bottoms, white tops, turquoise sweatshirt) should be made compulsory. Right now, it’s an option for parents. You can put your kid in full uniform, or just wear the sweatshirt. Most kids opt not to wear the uniform.

I’m not convinced by the arguments for school uniform. I don’t think it stops bullying because bullies will find any excuse, however small, to pick on a kid.

I speak from experience: Sylvan had a pretty strict uniform policy and it never stopped the bullies and their little friends from having a pop at me for being short, bespectacled, nosy and odd. Terry F wore the regulation navy blue Farahs, and still felt the need to kick my arse on a regular basis.

Ok…breathe…it was over 25 years ago…they’ve gone now…

There’s also the argument about social cohesion and the children feeling part of a community. Well, I also believe that a good school doesn’t need uniform to create a community, and Ceej’s school is a great little community that really tries hard for all its pupils. Ceej is doing really well, in a creative, caring atmosphere that encourages her to be bright and to learn as much as she can: not to pass tests and tick boxes, but because learning is fun.

OK, so that’s why I don’t care for uniforms. On the other hand, a uniform means I don’t have to spend 15 minutes sorting through her clothes, trying to find something that

  1. She will wear
  2. Is warm and comfortable
  3. Will withstand several hours of monkey business, including painting, school dinners and rough-housing and chicken chasing

If uniform is compulsory, I can just plonk her in the standard polo shirt, sweatshirt and trousers, and not hear any arguments. And her nice clothes are saved for weekends and holidays.

I don’t think that uniform dampens creativity. Creative kids are creative, whatever they’re wearing, as anybody watching teenage girls outside a strict Catholic school can testify. Uniforms also reduce the possibilities for competitive dressing, which I can see even now in primary schools.

So anyway, I’m pretty neutral-to-anti uniform. I voted against the compulsory uniform, but the anti vote was outnumbered 2:1 by the compulsory uniform voters.

So, uniform it is. The majority of the parents want uniform, so Ceej will have to wear uniform next term. She won’t like it, and many of the antis are unhappy about the way the ballot was conducted, but maybe it’s a lesson of democracy that you can’t always get what you want…

20 April: Head on Henrietta Hippo – another sewing project

This is Henrietta, the Sew Hip hippo sewing project that I completed while watching Heroes and Stewart Lee (one utterly preposterous and not enough proper Sylar Action; the other much better than last week).

Bad sewing has given Henrietta a stooping gait and a slightly quizzical bend to her head. I think I’ve done a pretty good job with the ears, though, and she at least looks like a wise little hippo, and a good match for Baby Zebs, her new owner. He’ll probably rip off her ribbon and chuck her in a corner, but I think she’s cool anyway.

30 Jan: New glasses

30 Jan: New glasses

Originally uploaded by Sladey

got pounced on by a very good Russian saleswoman in David Clulow. I couldn’t take a decent picture of myself if my life depended on it, but at least the glasses look OK

Not sure about the hoody either. It’s a RedorDead bargain from TKMaxx, and it’s a lot busier that the stuff I usually wear – but the pattern was too pretty to ignore.

29 Jan: Census Point

29 Jan: Census Point

Originally uploaded by Sladey

Taken in Ivydale Road this morning. A cheery police officer was stopping random cars and handing them over to some equally cheerful beardy types for questioning.

I have heard rumours of road calming measures for Ivydale Road (not before time – we saw a girl run out into the road right in front of a car this morning; luckily the driver’s brakes and reflexes were excellent and nobody was hurt). The road gets used as a mini rat run by cars and light goods traffic. Cars are parked on both sides, and when the P12 is coming in both directions – usually when we’re not on it – the tailback is pretty awful.

Mum’s new house is very close to this sign.

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