Video Killed The Radio Star – The Buggles.

Ok – possibly a tad dramatic – but Mr Tumble and his crew are certainly kicking the living daylights out of Zoe Ball, Ken Bruce and Jeremy Vine. I’m not so worried about Jeremy – sometimes he deserves it.

This only really started since we moved here. When we had been planning the refurbishment on the London house, pre children,we had just never bothered with a TV in the kitchen/dining area. At the time it was to be a place that we would hold sophisticated gatherings and dinner parties – we didn’t – well – certainly not sophisticated ones. When we brought Alexandra and Calder home from Canada our shiny new, white gloss kitchen had been installed but we still didn’t feel the need to get a TV installed in what had become our daytime living space. Daddy Simon and I usually dozed through our box set collection in the front room most evenings once the kiddies had gone down for the night. There have been a few trips away where the children had become aware of what a TV did but still didn’t have any great interest in it. I have to admit I felt a little bit smug. Obviously our children must be of a higher intelligence if their attention is not is not being drawn towards the multi coloured flickering from the 32″ screen in the corner of the room. I was blatantly ignoring the fact that they were licking a picture of an apple in one of their books.

We had decided at the first viewing at this house that there was sufficient living space for us all in the extended lounge/dining/kitchen area at the back of the house and that the front room would serve us better as a spare bedroom. Initially the TV sat inert and unnoticed on a low unit in the corner of the room and Alexandra and Calder were happy to be running around all this new space that they had to hide and lose toys, books and Daddy’s mobile phone. Then in a quiet moment one of them found a button on the side of the strange looking object that they had been throwing things behind. Daddy Simon had no idea of the existence of this button and Daddy Graeme could only ever locate it during an occasional heavy handed dusting exercise. It wasn’t much longer before the TV found itself in the middle of the dining room table and Daddies were required to consult their new best friends in Sweden to see if an alternative storage solution could be obtained. Remember that we’re only renting so we didn’t feel that a wall mounting was an option. It took a while and a little but of literal thinking but we eventually elected to go with a four foot tall cupboard unit that we found in the office storage range – white of course and reasonably priced. It was duly ordered, swiftly delivered and it only took me a couple of Gin & Tonics to assemble it couple of nights later.(So not long at all then.)

The little munchkins were somewhat taken aback by this new addition to the room the following morning and had a good old go at trying to reach the TV with absolutely no success. Unfortunately the cupboard doors didn’t put up much of a fight and relented very quickly but the discovery of the land line cordless phone distracted them long enough for me to fit a(nother sodding) childlock, replace the all the DVDs and wrestle the handset out of Alexandra’s grasp before she made any further crank calls.

I think that as a treat one evening before bed we put on ‘In the Night Garden’ and what a steep,slippery slope it’s been…

“ TV on???” is now the greeting we get from the cots most mornings and this has usually degenerated into a threatening chant by the time we get them downstairs,into their high chairs and shovel a spoonful of Weetabix into their gobs. We’ll optimistically steer them towards Toy Corner which is mysteriously crawling closer and closer to the centre of the room. But it’s not long – two mouthfuls of warmish coffee – before Calder is back with a more specific request for “Justin’s Ouse????” Alexandra has already claimed prime position in the sofa and is staring intently at the blank screen awaiting what has become her daily fix. It’s only 0720 so we’ve got an hour and 15 minutes before Justin opens the door of his noisy,messy “Ouse” so we’re drawn into the lives of many other characters for the next 4500 seconds or so.

I realise that it’s not ideal – but I can use this time to get breakfast dishes done, the washing machine loaded and sort out the food for the day. Sometimes I even get a couple of mouthfuls of toast to savour in peace.My line of defence is that I can get these chores done much more quickly whilst my little assistants are occupied elsewhere and that enables to have a bit more quality time later in the morning.Occasionally they will pop in to check my work, demand some of my toast but the threat of the TV going off sends them racing back to the sofa as fast as their chubby little legs will carry them.

It’s certainly all changed since my day –

Postman Pat can now pilot a helicopter and has access to quite a flashy looking 4×4 – no wonder a first class stamp costs as much.

Bing – is a little black rabbit with THE most irritating, whingy, whiny voice who always seems to be getting himself into all sorts of minor,self induced mini dramas. He needs to watch Watership Down and count his lucky stars.

The Go-Jetters has quite a catchy theme tune – Daddy Simon has been caught singing along on more that one occasion.

Sarah and Duck is dull. Even the writers weren’t interested enough in giving the duck a name.

Justin’s House has a live audience who seem to enjoy the slapstick pantomime of a life that he would have us believe that he leads – but I’m letting this slide because Justin has an alter ego that keeps Alexandra and Calder captivated later in the morning.

Justin hosts the “Something Special” programme at 0945. It’s no longer in production but there are 196 episodes so plenty to keep them on the sofa yet. Apparently it was designed to introduce children to Makaton signing and is aimed at kiddies with delayed learning and communication difficulties. Not that I think that either of ours has any difficulty in communicating but it is engaging to watch them totally engrossed in what’s being said and done on screen. There are a number of lesser abled children that appear throughout the programmes that make me even more thankful for Alexandra and Calder’s good health.

Trevor Horn ( The Buggles) is enjoying a bit of a revival at the moment- might be time for him to give us a wee tune about what ‘Reality TV’ has done to the Video Star.

Turn on and they switch off!
‘Does anyone still wear a hat?’
“Just stand down there – I’ll let you know when I need anything.”

Bad Influence – Pink.

In the interests of getting this started and published today as per my plan I’m kicking off without a title so if I seem to go off piste a bit it’s because I’ve thought of something and I’m then trying to work it into the story.
I got so carried away with writing last night that we ended up having a Dominoes for dinner – at least we abstained from wine and it was so late that neither of us had the desire for anything sweet afterwards – that counts as a good result in my book. Also the pizza was a thin crust so I think that makes it a slimline.
Pre-seven o’clock start today. There are some mornings that we waken to hear Alexandra chattering away to herself or sampling a mash up of ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ and ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ which can be quite a sweet start to the day. However this morning Calder had lobbed Marmite the Monkey out of the cot and then decided that it was an action that he hadn’t fully thought through and was loudly seeking a bit of assistance in rectifying the matter. Of course Alexandra was awake too so no-one was going back to bed. As breakfast seemed to be going pretty smoothly I decided to juggle things about a bit and take advantage of the early start and see if I could squeeze in a quick trip to Tesco’s before pushing on over to Twins Club at ten. I leave Daddy Simon in charge and get showered, shaved and dressed. I select suitably co-ordinated outfits for the kiddies and return downstairs and try and catch one of them to dress in – hopefully – the right outfit. Now Cbeebies has made an appearance in this house of late.My thoughts on this matter will feature in a future post – but for now all you need to know is that I need to have everything and everyone ready and out the door before ‘Justin’s House’ starts at 0835 or I’ll not get either prised off the sofa easily.Dressing Calder some mornings can be like trying to get an oiled up,un-co-operative octopus into a lycra cat-suit and I have considered utilising duct tape on more than one occasion. Alexandra can be a little more compliant but it will depend on the size of the item that she has decided she MUST hold the entire time that I’m dressing her. A DUPLO brick presents no problem – the washing up bowl is a bit more of a challenge and harsh words are often exchanged. Shoes and jackets create enough of a diversion to get the TV switched off and before you know it we’re all in the car and ready to go. I fire up Gloria, our trusty wagon, and back her out the driveway in amongst the fray of abandoned 4×4’s that litter the street at this time of day – I’ll be covering ‘School Run Mums’ in a couple of days too – and weave my way out onto the main road.

Now some of you may have noticed that I avoid using naughty words in my ramblings but I’m no paragon of virtue in this department. However,both daddies are trying really hard to be careful what is said in front of impressionable little people now. So when a silver Ford Focus comes in off the main carriageway at a speed that brings them well over onto my side of the road I blast the horn, flash the lights and shout “TWIT!” as they rectify back onto the left hand side. “TWIT!!!!!” is repeated from the back seat from a very earnest looking Calder. Its very hard not to snigger which means of course that I’m not looking as indignantly righteous as I would have liked as the offending vehicle passes us.


Despite it being rush hour it only takes about ten minute to get to the local Tesco. We’re early enough to bag a Parent and Child parking spot right outside the store and I can spot a double trolley right away. Me and my little charges buy our winning lottery tickets at the kiosk and then commence our odyssey up and down the aisles fulfilling the list that Alexandra as taken control of. Calder gives us a running commentary/possibly requests as we go along. “Beans!” is very clear as is “Bananas”. I understand that “beeberries” mean blueberries and “omato” are Tomatoes. Unfortunately my fellow shoppers understand exactly what he means when he bellows ” DADDY’S JUICE !!!!” as we turn into the wines and spirits aisle. ( I needed a small bottle of sherry for a recipe and it was thriftier to buy the litre – OK!)

As I pack up I consider getting a coffee and maybe a wee treat for myself at the Harris and Hoole concession on our way out but I get distracted by Alexandra unpacking what I’ve just packed and so head straight back to the car, load up and crack on up to Twins club – almost on time.

We all seem to enjoy our Wednesday mornings at Twins Club. Alexandra always takes a bit longer to get in amongst it all than Calder. I’m assured that Daddy Simon was the very same when he was of a similar age. As I mingled among the other parents trying to find out if there were any recommendations for a further playgroupy type thing to occupy our little balls of fire on another morning in the week one of the Mum’s hit the nail smack,bang on the head – “ The thing is as parents of twins we’re used to seeing our kids rough and tumble with one another and so don’t really worry about it too much here. At an ordinary playgroup the parents of a single child can get a bit over protective and you end up spending the whole session making sure they’re not being too rough with the other kids.” I looked over to see Alexandra haul Calder off the slide by his shirt collar, whimpered and sloped off to a corner to google local soft play centres, ideally with a bar.

Being newish I wasn’t aware that a local hairdresser pops into Twins Club on a regular basis. Unfortunately I’d just had Calder’s hair cut two weeks ago and so couldn’t make use of this facility today. Calder has now had 4 haircuts – Nana did the first one and then the hairdresser at the bottom of the road did a couple. The last one there wasn’t great but in all fairness, anyone would have thought that he had ants in his pants for all the fidgeting he did. This last time I took him to the in store barber at the local Tesco.( I’ll say it – I love that place!) The chap was great and understood my brief of “ get rid of the mullet but don’t give him a bowl cut.”

Well he wept and sobbed ( Calder not the barber) throughout the whole cut- but at least he sat still. Alexandra looked on the way a Bond villain might enjoy watching 007 struggle with another shark,but I couldn’t be too annoyed with the little chap as I’ve cried my way through a couple of bad haircuts myself in my time. I disappointed that we all didn’t get a lollipop when we were done and that was reflected in the tip that I didn’t leave – but it was a decent cut.We’ll try out the lady that comes to Twins Club next time.

Time to wrap it up again….

Came home from Twins Club,unpacked shopping,fed the little rascals some lunch and made a meatloaf for Daddies dinner. Had some lunch,tidied up and headed up to the office to get on with some writing.

Now I do love being Daddy to twins but the down side is that I very rarely get any one to one time with either which they both absolutely love. This afternoon Calder woke himself up crying and as Daddy Simon was on a call and not wanting to disturb Alexandra, I took him out his cot and into our bed and snuggled in until he had calmed himself and drifted back off to sleep. It was only ten minutes but I could have happily watch him slumber on until he woke up again.

Alexandra woke up whilst Daddy Simon was out and Calder was asleep in our room. She looked somewhat puzzled and pointed at the empty cot opposite and did a little “Calder?????” As he was still fast asleep Alexandra and I had a few minutes alone just chatting and cuddling in before Daddy Simon got back and her wee brother stirred. I do so love these wee characters.

The Meatloaf was blinking lovely and if nothing else had sprung to mind I would always have gone with one of his tracks as a title!

Our own little Goldilocks in Daddy Bears bed.

“Did you know that this is what the one with the funny accent used to do for work ?” “Well that would that would explain why we only get about five minutes to eat the luke warm slop that he dishes up and his general bad attitude to everything.”

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?”


“Do you know where the water meter is?”


“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.”

Country House – Blur.

The news is not good. Despite the letting agents assurances that the cat would not be a problem at property number two – he is. The landlord is adamant that he does not want animals in the house – so glad that he hasn’t seen Alexandra and Calder in action.

The optimism that had been building up over the morning and the plans for property number 2 stall. We’ve been upfront about Pushkin’s presence so we’re not comfortable about taking on the rental and trying to keep his presence in the house a secret. I’m ashamed to admit that I was the first to suggest having him rehomed – but I quickly retract my words. Daddy Simon bought me a print last year ‘ The Berney-Edwards Family – Singing in the Rain since 2017’. It’s a picture of four pairs of wellies with and a wee paw print with all our names underneath. Pushkin is part of the family and we can’t leave him behind. I apologise to the rest of the family -two of whom are squashing peas into their tomato sauce and applying it as a face pack.

We go through our options again- it doesn’t really take long. I’ve gone right off the property citing that it was dingy,grubby and there was a smell anyway. Don’t want it. Daddy Simon phones the agent to enquire how adamant the landlord’s adamant was.

All back in the car and head back home. We discuss upping the budget a bit and Daddy Simon gets onto the Right move app but it doesn’t yield many more results. We discuss a slight change of location but there’s not much within budget there and we have no idea what the area is like. The letting agent that showed us around property 4 with the ‘Wall of death’ phones to see if we had made a decision.We tell her that it’s just too small – Bridge burnt. She seems to understand and suggest another one that has just come onto her books slightly over original budget – but feels that it would be worth us taking a look. We juggle things for the following day and agree to head back down tomorrow and manage to book in another couple of viewings to make it worthwhile. We get back in time to put the kids down for a nap that they decide they’re not really interested in taking but it does allow Daddy Simon to escape to his night out. An element of optimism starts to creep back in as I shuffle things about on Kitchen Whiteboard to accommodate our unexpected trip out tomorrow. I get Alexandra and Calder down and let them run about and burn off some of the energy that they’ve had to contain all day. Dinner is noisy and surprisingly messy considering it’s just a sandwich and Pushkin is sat in the corner staring at me malevolently. “It’s all your fault anyway Fuzzy Felt! ” I mutter as I pour myself a glass of wine. I get Henry Hoover out – now smelling incredibly Zoflora fresh – and vacuum crumbs off the floor, high chair tables and the children. They still have a fair amount of energy to burn off apparently so I take out my hearing aids and let them get on with it. I start bedtime routine a little early as I’m single handed but still end up putting them down about ten minutes later than usual. Bedtime story is ‘Ten Little Pirates’ because I know it by heart and can cut out about seven of them without it damaging the plot. Nursery lights out and within five minutes so are Alexandra and Calder’s.

Quick catch up with a friend on the phone and a bite to eat…might as well have another glass of wine – I’m sure that Daddy Simon isn’t on the Diet Coke. I persuade Pushkin to let me have enough of the sofa to make myself comfortable and I end up dozing off. Someone’s snoring wakes me up – might have been Pushkin’s – might have been my own. Find-a-Friend (Stalker App) pinpoints Daddy Simon still in a London hostelry so he’ll be at least an hour before he’s home. I decide just to head up to bed and attempt to read my book for a while but once again drift off to sleep.

Nursery FM broadcasts Alexandra’s dulcet tones around the room at quarter to three. There is a shape under the duvet on the other side of the bed but it doesn’t move so I get up to relocate what is probably just a missing dummy. The dummy’s are supposed to be visible in a dark room – but I think that you must have to pay extra for the night vision goggles in order that the blasted things glow in the dark- because I can never find them. A quick sweep around the cot fails to locate it so I can only surmise that the silly wee moo has rolled onto it.Noise and tension levels are climbing and if this was a film I’d locate the errant dummy 007 seconds before she bellows. I try to roll her over gently and do another quick sweep – too quick a sweep as it turns out because I manage to knock it right into the corner of the cot which would have been brilliant if I’d been playing pool – but I’m not am I? Resident of cot two starts to stir and before I know it he’s standing up staring at me and begins to whimper. ‘ Auto-Dad’ mode shuts down without warning and now there are three of us standing staring blankly into the darkness not really sure of what’s going on. I’m just getting Alexandra settled and about to turn my attention to Calder when I see that the shape that I left under the duvet a few minutes back has appeared in doorway, swaying, in it’s pants. Oh goody a family get together! He stays long enough to tell his children how much he “really,really loves them” and then must feel a really,really chilly stare and returns whence he came. Calder is coaxed back down easily enough but Alexandra seizes the chance of some bonus Daddy cuddles so I indulge her long enough for her to return to sleepy bye-byes

Friday morning is pretty full on breakfast and kiddies dressed. Early Sainsbury’s delivery and catch up with a friend. Daddy Simon deals with another removal company quote – pretty well considering that his head must be banging like a big brass band – and fills me in on the details of his evening.Listening to the names that were in attendance Gary, Jason and Mark I have to ask if he was out with Take That.

Our departure is a little more organised than the day before and I realise that Daddy Simon must be feeling rough if he suggests that I drive. We have very different driving styles – probably one of the few things that we disagree on. He will usually drive and I will find some way to distract myself in the passenger seat. It’s generally a running commentary and/or questions – ”

Are you letting fourth gear have the day off today?”

“Do you think that we’ll be there before the MOT expires?”

“Shall I just get a bus to the pavement then?”

But I’m back in the driver seat so I buckle up, gun the engine and wheelspin away from the kerb.

We’re early for our first viewing. Its in a sprawling estate of eighties built houses, ten minutes from the station. We park up outside and survey our surroundings. Hmmmmmmmm.

Inside it’s very tired looking and in dire need of a good clean and a coat of paint but by the time we get to the top floor she’s mentioned that the rent is negotiable and that the landlady will have it repainted throughout. Pushkin would be welcome and by the time we’re walking back down the stairs we can see how we could make the somewhat odd layout work for us.We make an offer and hope that this will still include the aforementioned repaint and go on to our next viewing whilst the letting agent tries to get in touch with the landlady.

We’re early for the second viewing too so have a picnic in the car in the allocated parking space of today’s property number two. Even the allocated parking space is small. We put the kids on their reins and let them stretch their wee legs for a bit because it’s looking like they may not be able to do that when we get inside this house.This was the one that had just come onto the agents books – the same agent that knew we needed a bit of space. So why she thought we might be interested in Barbie’s Townhouse I’ll never know. It’s a definite no.

Hat trick! Early for viewing number 3 too. I’ve a vague knowledge of the area and relocate a small cafe at the edge of a country park where there is a pond with ducks and swans. Alexandra and Calder get a bit of time communing with nature and charming the locals before we head back to our final viewing of the day. It’s opposite a Primary School and we’ve arrived at twenty past three. The 4×4 blocking the drive finally works out what the flashing orange light on the front of our car might indicate and clears a space long enough for us to gain access.The back seat occupants are still banging on about “QUACK,QUACK DUCKS” so we get out a have a quick look round and by that I mean peer though the windows. First one we’ve seen today with white walls- Yay! Jumping up and down at the gate lets us see a good size flat back garden and the London-Brighton train line st the bottom of it.Well that should balance out the noise of the primary school at the front. We can see the letting agent coming down the street. It’s one of the few that we haven’t met in the Surrey area but we’re now pretty proficient at spotting a letting agent at about a hundred yards.

She unlocks and opens up the front door. The dazzling white paintwork and new carpets smell beckons us in. (once we’ve taken our muddy shoes off.)

Oooohh! I think that we may be home…

“Say ‘Quack’!”

“Doesn’t look that deep to me Calder – just have a quick dip. I’ll wait here.”