Erase/Rewind – The Cardigans

Its been a while hasn’t it? Not quite sure what happened – seemed to lose my mojo for a bit. There always seemed to be something else to do on a practical level that would distract from the time that I had set aside to do a bit of writing so it’s not as though I’ve been sitting about twiddling my thumbs. I can’t say that I’ve taken huge strides forward with my book – have had couple of false starts and now trying to structure a storyline with limited success. But I’m not going to give up. I’ve not quite erased the work that I’ve done so far but I am going to rewind a bit and do a wee run of blogs to try and build my confidence up again.

This is Tuesday 19th March – so its not quite the beginning of the week. I’ve lowered my expectations to a more realistic level on all counts. There is no point in declaring it a diet week as there is spreadable butter in the fridge, digestive biscuits in the jar and up until last night there was half a cheesecake left over from the weekend. I’d already been in at the kiddie’s jelly tot stash before 0825 and had several slugs of the chocolate brownie flavoured milk at morning snack time. The changeover from baby bottles to sippy cups/baby beakers/shot glasses is an ongoing, messy and unpleasant battle. I appreciate that a lot of it is a comfort thing and so we’ll still let them have their bedtime milk in the bottle for the time being. But during the day I’m digging my heels in and have a range of drinking containers at my disposal to trial. But the little blighters are on to me and will rarely finish breakfast or mid morning milk from anything other than the blasted bottle. The flavoured milk is a new ruse that seems to work with Alexandra – Calder is still a bit hit and miss but mainly because he’ll put his cup down and wander off and by the time I’ve chased him back to the table to finish it off – Alexandra has drained the contents and has gone back to watching Mr Tumble. Neither has any issue about drinking juice and water from cups – it’s just milk and it’s probably not worth any of us crying over.

So on to my next achievable(?)goal. Every Sunday night we pledge not to have any alcohol until the following weekend. Well it’s just not happening these days. Last week I got to Thursday – had a night out with Twins Club Mums so would have been rude not to have a little drinkie or five.This week I’m saying Friday – so technically – if we can hang off until after five o’clock it will be weekend-ish, in a manner of speaking, somewhere in the world.
I’ll look at my exercise plan next week – baby steps and all that.

We’re all continuing to settle into our new home. Child proofing is a constant work in progress.The TV is on a unit that stands about chest height and all associated paraphernalia is hidden away in the (now locked)cupboard underneath. Bookcase has been bolted to the wall and the contents that would once have been displayed in a minimalist style utilising the full height of the unit are now all crammed on three shelves that are all (currently) out of reach any passing little vandal. The lower shelves are used to store a range of decoy toys – at night anyway. During the day they are mostly strewn throughout the lounge/dining/kitchen area – so its good to see that they’re making the most of all the available space. Kitchen counters continue to be the ‘Lucky dip’ area where, Calder mainly, will just stretch up and grab at whatever he can reach. Initially his requests for “Cuddles Daddy???” were very sweet but it didn’t take us too long (actually it did!) to realise that he just wanted picking up so he could have a good look round from an elevated position at what was potentially there for the taking. If we got down to his level and outstretched our arms he would turn and walk off mumbling to himself. Alexandra is developing the child-proofed kitchen unit doors as a musical instrument and has so many banging tunes in her repertoire its like listening to Radio 1 all day.
I’m still continuing to reassemble a flat-packed Swedish forest in differing shapes and sizes – but always in white – around the house. Sven the factory joker decided to send us a wardrobe with none of the required nuts and bolts last week. It’s possible that I could have used some of the left over bits from earlier deliveries but that would have meant I would have had to dismantle the car-port section of the nuclear bunker that I’d fashioned using them.
So we just phoned their customer service department and told them to get their meatballs out of their lingonberries and get it sorted.

The baby gate is on the lounge doorway directly opposite the front door. Shouty and Loud are usually baying at the gate like a couple of starved bloodhounds by the time I get to answer the door to any callers. Visitors are welcome despite what you may have heard elsewhere.

There is another baby gate at the top of the stairs which is currently quite literally a pain in the nuts.For safety reasons it opens inwards onto the landing so that we’re not having to step back down a stair. However this means that we can’t have the bathroom door open while the gate is open. Are you following or do you want time to draw yourself a picture?During the day this isn’t a problem but in the wee-wee small hours it’s a different matter.Pushkin doesn’t want to sleep in his bed in the office upstairs.He wants to sleep downstairs on the sofa. But we need to keep the gate ajar in case he needs to use the litter tray which is also in the office upstairs. Now this is where the fun begins – take your drawings and add in our bedroom door.It opens in on the bedroom but is directly opposite the ajar baby gate.So if I need to get up during the night,I have to remember that the gate is there and open in order that I avoid rattling my family jewels on it. I then need to do the same in reverse on my return to bed especially remembering to close bedroom door properly in order that Pushkin doesn’t get in and stamp all over Daddy Simon’s head for an early breakfast. Funnily enough he doesn’t even attempt to stir me from my slumber which really ticks Daddy Simon off given that it’s my fault that he’s managed to get in.

Pushkin seems happy enough here.Spends most of the day asleep in the office occasionally venturing downstairs in the hope that he can sneak through the carnage unnoticed and get out for a perambulate around the garden. He doesn’t seem to venture much further than that but he is getting on a bit and probably has more than enough to deal with indoors without taking on any of the well established locals.

So there we go – time to finish up for the day and head to bed. But first some pics…

“ So just take a couple of bites from that one,put it back and help yourself to another one…”
“ He seems to have gotten himself nailed to the table you see…”
“I don’t know – it just doesn’t seem to be a particularly credible concept to me…”

I Feel The Earth Move – Carole King.

Actually I didn’t. I slept right through it. Apparently Wednesday night’s earthquake in Surrey was the fourth since the 14th February and the worst so far weighing in at 3.0 on the Richter Scale. We’ll probably get the blame if anyone sees our dear little Alexandra running up and down the garden.

We’ve taken full advantage of this little burst of warm weather and had the kiddies playing out in the back garden whenever we can. It was lovely to be able to get the bedding all washed and out on the line on Monday and I was only thinking to myself how proud my mum would have been if she had been able to see the dazzling white sheets neatly pegged out and rippling in the breeze. She would also have laughed her blinking socks off at my disbelief when her grandchildren appeared from within aforementioned,previously spotless whites,brandishing muddy sticks that they had dug up elsewhere in the garden.Perhaps I’d better look into a loyalty card at the local laundrette.

Daddy Simon volunteers to finish off breakfast duties on Wednesday morning in order that I can get a quick shower and start preparing for the day ahead. Wednesday is Twins Club day in this part of the world – this will only be our second week so I’m still trying to make a good impression. I’ve mentally put together Alexandra and Calder’s outfits for the day and am trying to think what I still have that is currently clean,ironed and fits when I hear the workmen next door start their hammering. Now that’s commitment to the job – straight to work at 0725. Oh hang on – we’re in a semi-detached now – it’s coming from downstairs – so it’s probably Calder the Handyman. He’s been stalking me around the house as I’ve been hanging pictures and childproofing everything lower than 1.5 metres and has taken to utilising all manner of toys and household items as tools. There have been a number of seemingly harmless items that have ended up in Confiscation Station because he’s insisted on banging them on the glass door or sticking them into keyholes, bits of flaky plaster and /or eye sockets. Think I might have a bit longer in the shower and let Daddy Simon deal with it. It does eventually quieten down so I get myself dried off,dressed and head on down.

Alexandra is pretty insistent on being dressed first. She’s already had a nappy change so it’s fairly happy and carefree up until footwear. We’d had their feet remeasured and dropped a considerable sum of money at the local Clark’s Shop on Saturday and I had pretty much insisted on getting them both welly boots at a less expensive retail outfit in order that the new pairs of Clark’s didn’t meet the same fate as the previous pair of Clark’s. What could possibly be a better way to demonstrate our fantastic parenting skills than to rock up to the new Twins Club in our shiny new Clark’s shoes. There was one minor detail that both Alexandra and Daddy missed on Saturday – the new shoes have buckle fastenings – this is a win for Daddies because Velcro straps are far too easy for little fingers to work and buckles might mean that we may even get to our destination with an even number of shoes.Alexandra looks perplexed as I buckle up shoe number two and round up child number two to get him dressed. I just about get Calder into a clean nappy when the initial cry goes up. She can’t work the buckles and she ain’t happy about it.She reappears at my non-buckle shoes and bellows “BOOTS!” We’d had a falling out about the welly boots yesterday as she was quite insistent that she should get to march straight into the house from the garden via a further muddy puddle ( where do they find them???) and stand on the sofa. I was equally insistent that she shouldn’t. I won. I’m bigger and I’m stronger and I have hearing aids that I can switch off. There is much further shouting and pointing at feet and “BOOTS!!!”are mentioned more than once. I know that the shoes fit. I check each shoe – including my own- for random bits of Lego and discarded food before I put them on -she’s just off on one. I’ve got Calder into his vest and a smart little polo shirt and the volume continues to ramp up. Zoe Ball seems to have something sufficiently important to say that requires a bit more volume and Calder busys himself with his new (Velcro fastening) shoes.It’s unrelenting. My compromise is the multi-coloured,glittery Tesco pumps.Alexandra is happy once again. She’s looking very smug but I make a mental note to remind her of her preference for supermarket footwear when she’s angling for a pair of designer heels in about sixteen years time and let her have this one as a win.

I’m actually still a bit ahead of myself so I’ll make a start on the dinner prep. I had ducked out of making a roast dinner on Sunday citing that I had been busy putting the last room in the house to rights and felt that I deserved a takeaway. The lump of lamb that had since been grazing on some out of date veg at the back of the fridge is rapidly approaching its use by date so it can see out its final few hours in the slow cooker today. Why is Zoe Ball still shouting? It takes longer to locate the slow cooker than expected and then I remember that I need to brown the meat beforehand.Just for a change I decide to read the cooking instructions – I wish I hadn’t.The lamb needs to rest at room temperature for thirty minutes before cooking. Why? If anyone need to rest for thirty minutes it’s me. Bumcrack! Ok – well there’s things I could get on whilst wee lambsie is putting his feet up. Quick tidy up in kitchen.Make sure nappy bag is fully stocked and ready to go to Twins Club. Quietly replace some toys whilst Mr Tumble holds the kiddies attention. Twenty five minutes is all he’s getting – quick all over tan in the pan and then into the crock pot with some onions and an assortment of herbs.I round up my own little lambs and herd them out to the car. I check the clock in the car. I know it to be accurate because it’s one of the few that the children can’t beggar about with. Yay! Still on schedule.Pants! I can’t remember switching on the slow cooker.Quick run back in to check – of course I had.

The Twins at Play group is only about a ten minute drive.I could probably walk there in about an hour and would imagine I’d be able to get a bus but I’m quite enjoying driving again now that we’re out of London.I notice that there’s a red light flickering on the instrument panel of the car – nobody panic – it’s only a ‘door open’ warning. Sure enough the interior courtesy lights are all illuminated. I pull over and get out,checking door on Alexandra’s side,boot and then notice that the back door on the passenger side hasn’t been closed properly. This is a bit odd – I load and unload both kiddies from the drivers side because the drive is as narrow so can only think that it must have been like that since the last trip out. Seems to have done the trick so we’re off again. We get parked up round the corner from the hall and kiddies are already reined up so it’s a fairly smooth exit and walk up the hill.If I point out doggies,Minis and planes it distracts them sufficiently that they walk in a fairly straight line in the same direction making it look like I’ve got a good grip on this whole parenting malarkey. Once we’re indoors we get our jackets off and I go to sign in. Once again we’re cheerfully greeted and Alexandra and Calder are encouraged to go on in and play. One of the lovely hands on helpers tells me that because the weather has been so good we can play out in the garden today. Calder has shot out the door in search of a bit of mud to christen his new shoes in and Alexandra gives me a “betcha wish you’d gone with the wellies” look before she too went charging out into the garden.

I did always enjoy watching our kids at play at the Blackheath Twins Club and perhaps it was because I knew that we wouldn’t be going there for long before we would have to relocate that I didn’t fully engage but there is something a little more welcoming and friendly about this one. It’s held in a slightly smaller hall and seems to be much busier. I’ve spoken to many more of the other Mums and Dads here (and what’s more remembered more names) in the two weeks that we’ve been coming than I had in the few months that we had been going to Blackheath. There seems to be a much more straightforward and honest approach to parenting our twins here and there are many more around Alexandra and Calder’s ages so I think that we’ll all enjoy our Wednesday mornings here. Kiddies are suitably settled running up and down the garden so I ask one of the other lovely Mums if she would mind keeping an eye on “that one and …oh where is he … oh yeah – that one over there – in particular that one – he’s a bit of a flight risk” and go get myself a coffee. None of your instant muck here – proper filter stuff AND a choice of grown up biscuits. I pop a chocolate digestive in my mouth in a oner – are they shrinking as well – and go to return to my charges. Another Mum approaches me and starts to engage me in conversation at the same moment that I discover there is a surprisingly unexpected layer of caramel between the chocolate and the digestive elements of the biscuit…

Please don’t ask me a question.Please don’t ask me a – oh there we go…

“How old are your twins?”

Try to smile.Hope that I’ve got that bit of stray caramel off my front teeth and respond “mmmgmpmphhh mmfitpphts”

She smiles,nods and heads off for a coffee and probably selects a much safer choice of biscuit.

I head outside to check on Whinge and Breakit but all is well. Both have something on wheels to push about so they’re happy. Probably need to get them in for snack time a bit sooner in future as it gets a bit cosy around the tables – so cosy in fact that Calder feels no need to have a plate of his own when he can easily help himself to the plateful that the wee boy to his left has. He’s learned the hard way NOT to help himself to the plate of the big girl sitting on his right. Family may be family – but food is food and it’s MINE!!!!

We get a bit more playtime before it’s time to help pack up and say our goodbyes. We have a good chat about our morning on the walk back to the car. Out of habit I load them both in from pavement side of the car and discover the source of the door issue. Unless he’s strapped in immediately Calder will lean forward and pull on the door handle – he’s not got the strength to fully open it but the intention is there. I’ve usually just put them both in their seats out of harms way and then gone back to strap them in and never noticed that Houdini was working on his next trick. Kiddie locks on back doors of car engaged – problem solved- much to our little boy’s disappointment.

They fall asleep on the short journey back home and are still in a deep slumber even after I’ve taken three/possibly four attempts to back the car into the drive. I make myself a cup of instant coffee and a have a non caramel chocolate digestive take them out to the front doorstep to enjoy the sunshine and the ever so rare silence.“Yes.I have out my sister’s pyjama top on thanks”“There’s not much up there – I’ve just checked.”

I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Marvin Gaye.

Those that are willing to admit being old enough to remember the Levi’s ad from the mid eighties will appreciate today’s title when I tell you that I’m blogging from the local laundrette. But it’s a wet February Monday afternoon in Surrey so I’ve decided not to strip down to a pair of pristine white boxers and pop my jeans into the wash while I wait…

The kitchen in the new house doesn’t have a tumble dryer and as I changed the beds yesterday it’s a fair size load I have to do.Yes,the washing machine would cope but getting it all dry in a house where we’re still knee deep in boxes would be a challenge and you can bet your bottom dollar that our little domestic terrorists can sniff out a freshly laundered sheet to wipe off the baked beans that they’d stashed up their sleeves at lunchtime.

We are still settling in at Berney-Edwards Manor – we’re now one floor less so I don’t feel that we can call it Berney-Edwards Towers anymore.Daddy Simon and I have been rotating ‘Daddy Day Care’ duties. I spend the morning with Alexandra and Calder,Daddy Simon joins us for lunch and then I take myself off for the afternoon. Not on a spa break or anything – just to to build more white self-assembly furniture, unpack boxes,think why the Boney M did we not throw that out and then repack it so that I can think the same thing again at the next move. In hindsight I realise that I’ve shot myself in the foot by volunteering for the early shift. The Kiddies have just about dropped their morning nap so there is now no respite in the first half of the day. They’re blinking useless at ‘Pop Master’ and can start to get a bit cranky around eleven thirty so I have to up the entertainment stakes to circus level to keep them going until lunchtime. Daddy Simon takes over and they almost immediately go down for a nap – I need to rethink this…

We had followed advice (Unusually for us) re settling Pushkin into his new home. He’s had a few days in the upstairs office with Daddy Simon and then was allowed out to explore the rest of the house at the end of last week. This is mostly done in the peace of the evening once Alexandra and Calder have gone down for the night.He is very tolerant of their ” Duddles!” but he is an old boy and you can see him looking up with a “Get it away from me!” expression on his fuzzy face.

So now that things are starting to calm down again Daddy Simon and I have decided to abstain from drinking and eat a bit more healthily during the week in an attempt to shed a few of the extra pounds that have crept on over Christmas,New Year and house move. I suspect that it’s going to be a loooong week.

I’ll finish up today with a bit of good news and a bit of bad news. Some of you may have already ‘heard it through the grapevine’ and some will have heard it directly from the horse’s (big) mouth. I’ve started to write a book. It’s still in very early stages and I’ve no idea how long it’s going to take me but I’ve committed to it and I’m very excited about it. Unfortunately this does mean that I probably won’t be blogging just as often as I will still need to keep on twinningatparenthood, write a book and just be generally all round fabulous – but I’ll be sure to keep you all posted.

Grapevine,grapevine,vine,wine…..Is it Friday yet???The ‘Man from Del Monte’ has hoovering to do.

“You’re fine! You’ll definitely fit in there. Don’t worry – just keep going.”

The Sun Always Shines On T.V. – A-Ha

… and the daughter will always upstage you…

Television debut day for three of the Berney-Edwards four. Daddy Graeme has previously been spotted at a A.A meeting with poor old Helen on ‘Call the Midwife’, has popped up on ‘The Crown’ as at least three different characters, and was seen enjoying Christmas Day Dinner with his Waitrose family several times throughout November and December 2015.So being a reasonably experienced hand in the world of TV should have been a little less of a class one – rhymes with stitch- when the alarm went off at 0530.

Daddy Simon had meticulously planned our pre-departure movements and in deference to my mainly Maleficent mode at that hour in the morning jumped into the shower first allowing me to get at least one coffee into my system before the little ones stirred. Nana Edwards had volunteered/been emotionally blackmailed into assisting us for the day and was already up and had a coffee waiting for me. I may have bestowed a sainthood upon her as I shuffled about the kitchen getting the milk heated for the Weetabix and getting the nappy bag and toy bag together for the morning ahead.Daddy Simon appears downstairs and has done a pretty good job of dressing himself given that we’re still living out of boxes. Alexandra and Calder are starting to stir and are surprised to be whisked out of bed almost immediately. Breakfast duties are carried out by Nana and Daddy Simon who is given strict instructions on what outfits and back up outfits the kiddies are to wear – ” …and no going maverick – this is national television remember.”

I’ve got a bit more time on my hands than I thought so I took my second/possibly third coffee upstairs and start to get myself ready. Hair needs a bit of a tidy up – not the sparse tufts on top of my head – the bits that have diverted and are sprouting out of my ears,nostrils and eyebrows. I’ve not shaved for a few days – so that’s going to take a bit longer if I don’t want to look as though Sweeney Todd has had a crack at it. Perhaps I don’t have as much time as I had initially thought. It’s only when I’m in the shower that I realise that I have no idea what box the clothes that I had planned to wear might be. Pretty sure that trousers are hanging up, there’s bound to be an ironed white shirt somewhere but if I can’t find that pink jumper I’ll need to rethink socks and possibly even pants. It’s a bright pink jumper.It should be easy to locate – but I’m not committing myself to a colour scheme until I find it. I could go with a blue one but that means that Daddy Simon and I will look like Tweedledum and Tweedledee on the sofa. There’s the ‘Kermit’ green one and similar hue in socks – but I’m not sure how it fares on the whole size carry on these days. There it is hiding beneath an ‘I’d forgotten about that Fair-Isle’one at the bottom of a box. Panic over. By now my red face clashes horribly in with the errant pink jumper but I’m optimistic that I’ll look less like Hiawatha by the time we get to Wogan House. Ten minutes to spare before the car is due to arrive at seven o’clock. Probably not time to squeeze in another coffee before we head off. Kiddies are wide awake, dressed and probably on their 56th lap of the kitchen/dining room/lounge as Nana announces that the car has arrived. This is where having kiddies keeps you well and truly grounded. I open the front door looking forward to taking in the sleek lines of a black,stretch Mercedes or at the very least a seven series BMW and see that it’s a Mercedes …..van! The driver is smartly attired in a shirt and tie so I know that it’s not a removal van. I consider that perhaps it’s a private ambulance that has parked up and that ‘our car’ is in waiting behind. But then I see Gloria smirking in the driveway and remember that I have to decant two car seats,an assortment of – why do we not have matching luggage anymore – and then get, Alexandra, Calder, Nana, Daddy Simon and myself in there – at least we don’t have to take the buggy today. Our little stars are strapped into their relocated safety seats and the rest of us all pile in – “hang on I’m too hot. I need to take my jumper off.” and set off to London Town. The same London Town that we left five days ago.

As expected,we hit rush hour (two hour and ten minutes) traffic but Alexandra and Calder keep us entertained with lively chatter and a few songs and I encourage waving out the windows to the people in the surrounding cars,trucks and buses. Fortunately neither are disappointed at the lack of response so I don’t have to explain the black out windows to them( only remembered twenty five minutes into the trip)and concentrate on getting a really good look at our fellow commuters whilst they’re being watched unaware. There were a lot of illegal mobile phone users and nose pickers on the A217 this morning.

We’re conscious that we’re supposed to be at the studio by nine thirty and the watches are creeping closer to this time quicker than we’re creeping towards the studio. I suppose they’ll just to have us on last. Calder is taking a wee power nap and Alexandra’s incessant jabbering makes me think that she’ll be happy to cuddle into one of her Daddies during the interview.

The driver advises that he’s been briefed that he will be taking us back so we can leave the car seats in the van – phew! – and that he’ll pick us up in the same place that he’ll drop us off … at 1015. The show only starts at 10 o’clock- looks like we’re first up.

We arrive shortly after 0930 and check in at reception at a very impressive Wogan House. The security guard scanning our bags takes great delight in telling us that their X ray machines are far superior to those currently used at the airports but I’m too busy trying to stop Calder from climbing up and into the impressive bit of machinery to take into much more detail. The children have spoken to each one of the security guards at the revolving doors and have checked how well the disabled access door was locked before someone comes to meet us.

We’re all escorted down to the studio and into the green room – it’s not you know – and Victoria Derbyshire comes to meet us all in person. What a blinking lovely lady. Incredibly down to earth and immediately puts Daddy Simon and I at ease. Introductions are done,names are clarified and we’re given a quick run down of our part of the show. Names are clarified again and we’re asked if we have any questions. Nope.We’re good to go. Let’s clarify names again and agree who will carry/sit with each munchkin so that we’re sure of names.

Surprisingly less make up required than I would have thought would have been needed and we’re wired up with microphones. (Must NOT mutter/swear under breath I remind myself). We’re taken out onto set and take our seats. Quick rehearsal of opening introductions goes well and we’re good to go…

Well kids will be kids. Victoria and her team had said that if Alexandra and Calder wanted to get up and explore they were chilled with that and the ever fabulous Nana Edwards was waiting in the wings . Our kiddies are their happiest when they can go exploring and that’s just what they did. Started off with us, went to check on Nana and came back onto the set to do a bit of entertaining.

Daddy Simon is well rehearsed in the whole process and was confident and relaxed discussing a topic that he is passionate about. I sat back and let pink jumper, stripey socks steal focus while watching our two happy, contented kiddiewinks enjoy another marvellous adventure.

A huge, big, massive thanks to all of the Victoria Derbyshire team for their time and patience. We had a great time.

We even made it to the BBC News Online home page.

Alexandra strops off whilst Calder reflects on his morning TV debut.

Manic Monday – The Bangles.

Well the last seven days have been pretty manic as a whole but since I’m touching base on a Monday we’ll just go with it.

We’re now all present and correct in our new home in Surrey. The letting agent met us all here last Wednesday to do the hand over and I’d just like to wholeheartedly thank Katie and Elle at Move Revolution in Nutfield for being so thoroughly proficient and getting us in here in the very short timescale that they were given.

We had booked a delivery from Scandinavia’s finest for later that afternoon which allowed me time to give the kitchen cupboards a quick clean and start on the childproofing. Despite bringing a box of toys,Alexandra and Calder were happier playing hide and seek in the cupboards and I was happy enough to let them do so. We’d gone for a different brand of lock from those that we had at the old house because the little criminals could burst them.Alexandra actually pulled the front off the cutlery drawer by hanging from it and was most displeased to find herself smack bang on her bum in the middle of the kitchen floor with a gloss white lump of MDF in her hand.

When Ikea delivery man arrives I do a time check.Probably best to get our bed and some book cases made up ready for the move on Friday and can come back to the ‘Alcatraz’ kitchen installation once we’re in. Daddy Simon does a sterling job of entertaining the troops while I build up a bed that is bigger than we anticipated and contemplate how we will fit existing furniture around it as I put together bookshelves in an ever decreasing office space.

A further time check.If we set off now we’ll be stuck in rush hour traffic – not somewhere anyone would want to be with a couple of hungry toddlers. I build a small Volvo out of the nuts and bolts left over from the less sturdily built Swedish products and zip over to McDonalds for a couple of Happy Meals which keeps kiddies quiet for long enough for me to build a desk and pack up ready for home. Three out of the four of the team doze on the way home and two out of the four of have to be carried up to bed and put into their PJ’s half asleep. The remaining two return downstairs for their own dinner and a well deserved glass of wine or two.

Removal Men arrive bright and early on Thursday morning and get to work straight away. I pack a bag or three for Alexandra and Calder’s trip to Nana and Grampy’s on Friday and throw some essentials in a bag /big case to see Daddy Simon and I through until we can locate clean underwear again. It’s all going swimmingly well so we pop out for a walk and return to find majority of house packed up.

Friday is another early start and we’re all washed and dressed when removal men arrive, Then some more arrive and then another and it all starts to pick up pace very quickly. The Removal men are ready to go and we’re not. It not exactly how I had envisaged leaving Killearn Road –

“Have you read the water meter?”

“No.”

“Do you know where the water meter is?”

“No.”

“Do we need a special key to open the drain marked ‘Thames Water’ outside the house?”

” I don’t know.”

We’ll it’s different from the two previous ‘Nos’ but he still won’t be my ‘Phone a Friend’ lifeline if I ever get on ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’. I can prise open the drain with the car key – risky strategy given that it’s all loaded up and the spare is in ‘a box’ in ‘a van’ that is probably on the M25 by now. Memorising the numbers I jump into passenger seat of the car and we pull away, bidding farewell to our home of the last seven and a bit years. By the time we get on to the South Circular I can’t remember why I’m reciting “344750” but put in my phone in case it’s important.

We arrive in Redhill just behind van number one and just ahead of Nana and Grampy. Alexandra and Calder are so excited to see them that they forget to look back and cry for their Daddies as they change cars and leave us until Sunday morning.

The big van arrives just as the heavens open but Jed, Paul and Nigel from Britannia Sanderstead work hard to build us a wee cardboard city within our new home. Again,we were very lucky to get such a great team that could help out on such short notice.

Daddy Simon and I work hard over the weekend to get some sort of normality installed before the rest of our wee family rejoin us.Kitchen is unpacked and organised. Alexandra and Calder’s bedroom is unpacked and ready for their return and Daddy Simon’s office will be home to Pushkin until he settles into a more rural life.

Daddy Graeme has also utilised an odd shaped cupboard as a drinks cupboard and is so proud of it.

Kiddies came back yesterday afternoon. I missed them dreadfully. Over the the past few weeks they have been bundled in and out the car at several different properties and had their routine messed about with and on the whole they have remained the happy-go-lucky,cheeky little monsters that Daddy Simon and I know and love so much.

The bin lorry woke Calder ( at 0610!!!! ) this morning and so it’s been a bit of a long day getting used to seeing familiar everyday items in new surroundings. Henry the Hoover has a new French girlfriend – Miele. The washing machine doesn’t have a door to hide behind here so Alexandra can help him out mid cycle, pause him or just plain switch him off. Calder took full advantage of the fact that I’d allowed him to climb on the dining room chairs thinking that if he fell off ,a carpeted floor would be a much kinder landing than a stone tiled one – then I caught him pushing back from table with his feet. He’s been grounded again.

Tomorrow will no doubt be another manic one but it’s lovely to be home.❤️

We’ll all be on The Victoria Derbyshire Show on Wednesday morning (13th Feb @ 10 am)

Two toddlers on live TV – easy as pie!!!

“So I get the whole top floor to myself then??? COOOOOOL!”

“Just testing it for you Daddy Simon.”

“This show’s a bit fast paced for me.”

The first attempt at childproofing the washing machine.

Because I’ve got that sort of time on my hands…

I Can’t Get No Sleep (Insomnia) – Faithless.

It’s Nursery FM that stirs me from my slumber on Monday morning. The glow of light from the other side of the bed would indicate that Daddy Simon is already awake and has probably been Googling himself for the past twenty minutes or so. It’s still a bit too early for me to be getting up and tackling the world as Daddy Simon has probably gathered from my Chewbacca-esque responses to his questions. Good – he’s stopped talking and goes to deal with the downstairs DJ – it’s only Mono at the moment as Stereo is still snoring his wee head off – so I wriggle back down into my cocoon and turn my attention to falling asleep again. The fall is rudely broken by a chubby little finger jabbing me in the eye. I’ve apparently agreed that it would be a good idea to bring Alexandra into bed with us so as not to disturb Calder who is now the only member of the household that is still dormant. The hope was that she would be so delighted to have the attention of both Daddies that she would smugly snuggle down and dream of how she would torment her brother with this new twist on the “Who’s the favourite child” game. ( It’s Pushkin – but neither of them know that.) But she didn’t.

Usually reluctant to partake in the ‘ …and eyes and ears and nose and mouth…’ bit of ‘Head,Shoulders, Knees and Toes” rhyme she’s now done with prodding my eyes and has moved on to picking her own nose and then jamming whatever has stuck to her finger up mine and then has a go at getting her whole fist into my mouth. Looking somewhat puzzled at my reluctance to take part with my usual exuberance she has a good old tug at my ear… before announcing that she wants ” Duddles” and tips her whole body weight over onto my face.Where the Billy Jean King has Daddy Simon gone??? He’s back on his own side of the bed and although it’s still fairly dark I’m pretty sure that he’s smirking. The Princess of Darkness is placed back in the centre of the bed between us and I attempt to sooth her back to sleep by stroking her forehead.

“Ahhh! This is the picture of familial bliss that you see in a ‘Dreams’ TV commercial that we usually fast forward past” I think to myself as we all ….” OUCH,OUCH,OUCH!!!” The little minx has slipped a hand under the covers and is now pulling out chest hairs and you can be sure that it won’t be the grey ones!

It’s abundantly clear that I’m not going to get any sleep and I flick on the monitor to see if Calder has stirred. He’s sat up in his cot staring into space seemingly enjoying the fact that he’s got a nice quiet room.

Not that he’s any better as a bedfellow! He had a couple of rough nights when we returned from our road trip to Scotland and in a bid to protect Alexandra and Daddy Simon’s sleep I took Calder into the spare room to sleep with me. The poor little mite was struggling – he had a high temperature and would wake himself up coughing and spluttering but having one of us with him calmed him down fairly quickly and he would soon settle down again.Calder may well have been a dog in a former life. On each occasion before settling down he would do two circuits of the bed in his sleeping bag,have a parp,and then doze off. It was funny at eleven o’clock, amusing at one o’clock but by three o’clock I’d decided that if he fell off the bed on his next lap he could just pollute the air down there.

I love cuddles with our kids but I’m so glad that they like to sleep in their own beds as much as we like to have ours to ourselves.

Monday is a wet,miserable day and if it wasn’t going to be our last day at Twins Club I would have probably have given it a miss. We’re up a bit earlier than usual – thanks again Alexandra – so I get ahead on a few household chores and get us all into the car,pleased to see that we’re only running ten minutes late this week. Yay – go me!

I always find it difficult to conduct a conversation at Twins Club. My own hearing is dreadful, there is always the background noise of children enjoying themselves and I still have to try and keep an eye on our own two kids that seem to insist on being on opposite sides of the room most of the time. So I apologise to anyone that I may not have had time to say goodbye to properly.Alexandra and Calder always seemed to enjoy the time that they spent there. Lovely Su looked after everyone so well and I’m sure that she’ll be very much missed as she too goes on to pastures new. But fear not – we do have a Twins Club near our new home and will be making that a regular Wednesday haunt.

Alexandra’s early rise catches up with her and she makes it clear that it’s time for home- she gets a quick nap in the car and wakes up to find herself in Sainsbury’s. We’re having friends over for drinks in the evening and so I need to replenish drink supplies. I’m hoping that no one in the wines and spirits section recognises us from Saturday’s Mail and when I get to the checkout and the operator asks me if we’re having ANOTHER party I wonder if I can use up some Nectar points to slap her.

Home in time for lunch and then much excitement when Grampy arrives. Grampy is continually questioned as to where “Nana?” might be and I’m sure that he must feel as though he’s been grilled by CSI Catford. Distraction created to allow Grampy to get on with jobs he came to do and the lack of a morning nap catches up with the munchkins and they sleep until tea time.

Fabulous evening catching up with a fantastic couple of friends and surprisingly it’s not as messy as previous gatherings have been so it’s looking like the day I had written off as ‘more than likely hungover’ could be pretty productive.

4 sleeps til moving day …

A rare shot of Alexandra and Calder in the same place at the same time at Twins Club.

I’m Still Here – From the 1971 Stephen Sondheim Musical ‘Follies’.

Well it has been a few days and it is Showtune Sunday. (Credit to Daddy Simon for his title suggestion.)

It’s 3rd February already – where the Fleetwood Mac did that week go? Let’s try and get up to speed shall we.

House move is all booked for Friday ,but the overpaid, so called professionals that spurred us into action have now slowed down to a pace where they need cajoling at least once a day and we still haven’t exchanged contracts…

We’re off to a smart three bed semi in commuter belt territory – not quite a country house but it’s only a short walk to a county park. The house itself has benefited from a bit of a freshen up throughout and has been extended sufficiently so that we can have a good size lounge/dining/kitchen area which will free up the front room on the ground floor so that we can use it as a guest room. The kiddies will have a good sized bedroom as will we and the smaller room can be set up as an office. I’ll miss our en-suite wetroom but I’ll only have two floors to keep clean and the new carpets throughout will be a softer landing for Alexandra and Calder’s ever increasing falls from things that they shouldn’t be sodding well climbing on anyway. We’ve had to pay a slightly higher deposit because we have Pushkin and have agreed to have the ( pale, neutral!) carpet professionally cleaned before we depart but let’s face it the tomato sauce terrorists were going to make sure that we were going to have to do that anyway. It felt like home almost immediately and Alexandra and Calder were in their element running around and rolling about on the floor. The trains running past the bottom of the garden are barely audible above the usual background soundtrack of our lives and although it clearly gets a bit hectic at drop off and pick up times at the primary school directly across the road we have off street parking and I’ll have prime position for a bit of “what does she think she’s wearing” people watching.

When the letting agent confirmed that all was well last Saturday morning we relaxed a bit, planned a bit and then panicked a bit. We had less than two weeks to get ourselves packed up and ready to move. The last removal company that quoted had the best reviews and were significantly less expensive. We agreed that paying them to pack up for us was way less stressful than trying to do it ourselves despite the fact that Alexandra and Calder are always more than willing to get very hands on with an empty box or two.

We all went to Twins Club on the Monday and then pushed on out to Ikea in the afternoon.Despite the media frenzy that our appearance in last week’s Mirror generated we were not stopped for autographs once AND we had to pay for our own meatballs! Once we had decided on the items of furniture that we would need at the new place,we dropped a few random nuts and bolts around ‘bargain corner’ and left to put in an online order at home.

Daddy Simon had a Board meeting to attend on Thursday afternoon so Alexandra,Calder and I all piled into Gloria and set off south on the M25 to measure up at the new house. The low wall and fence post at the end of the driveway appear to have got a bit closer together in the past few days and I can see Gloria getting a coke bottle shaped restyle in the coming months. Once again the munchkins seem happy to run about and pay scant regard to the bag of toys that I had brought along. As I start to envisage our furniture in situ,the place seemed to shrink at bit.Plenty of storage space in the kitchen but no dishwasher or tumble dryer and the Fridge-freezer seems smaller than I remember. Oh well – who doesn’t love a challenge.

Alexandra and Calder have bored of chasing one another around the – “has that just got smaller again? ” – lounge area and are now wiping their noses on a glass door that I had forgotten existed. Now I chase them around the dinky sized “we’ll NEVER get two sofas in here” living room with a tissue much to their delight/ horror and reward their reluctant submission to the Kleenex with Land Rover and Teapot from the bag of toys.It’s heartening to see that I won’t have to alter my well rehearsed lines of ” Don’t bang it on the glass – I’ll take it away – no don’t bang THAT on the glass either!” and decide where ‘naughty corner’ and ‘confiscation station” will be as the letting agent tacks another zero to the end of our security deposit.

We head up the -oh goody stairs – Up three,down one, up two, down four. Measuring tape in mouth,notepad stuffed down back of trousers and a wriggling child under each arm I head up the stairs and shut us all in the first room. There’s a walk in cupboard so that keeps them occupied for a bit and as I measure up the window for curtains I see that the cavalry has arrived. I’d arranged to meet an ex work colleague and lovely friend here and then go on to lunch. Kiddies are delighted to have a fresh face to demonstrate the wonders of the 21st century staircase to and I quickly guesstimate the rest of the measurements required and bid a farewell to the bemused letting agent.

Quick stop-off at a Tesco that will become a local haunt – surely customer service will be better than that at Catford. I drop forty odd quid on ‘a loaf of bread’and Nina splurges a similar amount on ‘ some milk’ and then a lovely afternoon catching up before heading north on the M25. My back seat navigators fall asleep almost instantly and so I bump the radio off and enjoy the silence on my drive back to Catford.

I get some time to myself to attend the dentist on Friday morning – he’s running ahead of schedule so I don’t get to enjoy as much of the ‘Top Gear’ magazine as I’d like but he turns a blind eye to my lackadaisical flossing habits and I get a clean bill of oral health for another six months. It’s only when I’m settling up my bill that he suggests that it would be worth bringing Alexandra and Calder in for a check up.

“ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME???? ” Our little boy has to be tightly head locked into position by one of us whilst the other has to crowbar his tightly pursed lips apart with a blunt toothbrush which has been liberally covered with strawberry ice cream flavoured toothpaste. I mumble something about I’ll get back to you and debate whether I can get away with an enamel staining americano at Costas so that I can finish off that copy of ‘Top Gear’ before I head for home.

Saturday sees us in the Daily Mail – lovely article by Helen Weathers and great family pic by Murray Sanders and then a visit from friends in the afternoon.Sunday has been a family day – trialled “our the let’s all eat lunch together at the table” again. Suffice to say Kiddies ate tea at five and Daddies had dinner at eight – so still needs a bit of work…

Busy week ahead as you can imagine. But will be sure to keep you updated as and when I can.

“What’s the budget for model cars in my new room?”

“Oh hang on! I’ve just seen something that I can pull that might make it a bit more like a see-saw.”