Back to auld claes and porridge

This is what my dad always said after a holiday. It is literally true for me. I will be having porridge and wearing old clothes. The plasterer should have finished our top floor rooms which now have to be painted. That’s the easy part. Sorting out and editing our random collection of books, magazines and photographs is a different issue. We’ve decided to turn the study/grandson’s room into a kind of retreat for Canny Rob, somewhere he can listen to his vinyl records and just chill out. As he has pointed out, I have several spaces where I sew, paint and play music – the Wash House, our dining room when it’s cold, not to mention my wool stash behind the sitting room sofa.

Holiday postcard Mixed media

We’ve had a great ten days in Tenerife sunshine. A very easy holiday – half board in a hotel with everything we needed. Top floor room with a balcony, a warm sea water pool, a choice of restaurants, learning how the system worked – the butter dispenser and the slow conveyor belt toaster ( Grumpy Man in front of me, “I hate these machines -why can’t they have British ones!” ) It was all very disabled friendly, lots of lifts, several people with dementia for whom the familiar setting was clearly beneficial, a young man with a severe visual impairment who spent every afternoon in the jacuzzi with his dad, wheelchair access everywhere and lots of very clean toilets.

There were young families too, who were equally well catered for. It was interesting to observe different parenting styles. Most were child-centred and caring, but we got worried about two very young children left sleeping unattended on sunloungers near the pool for over an hour. Two other older couples, German and French, were also concerned and we were all exchanging looks when the young, Spanish parents appeared, checked the wee ones and disappeared again. None of us said anything, reluctant to interfere. Should I have said something? Since Madeleine McCann, we are ultra-sensitive to the prospect of children disappearing. Would you have intervened? What if the parents hadn’t come back?

I read an interesting piece online (Stylist magazine) by psychotherapist Phillipa Perry about understanding and communicating with children. Some of it applies equally to adults.

Phillipa Perry

Being corrected can be embarrassing and humiliating, and sometimes all we want is sympathy and a listening ear rather than practical advice. No one wants to confide in someone who, when you show them who you are, tell you not to be silly. Neither do our children. We want our children to be happy all the time so we have a difficulty hearing them when they’re not. But in order to develop happiness we have to allow our children to have all of their emotions. Even the inconvenient ones. Even the ones you don’t feel in that situation. If we tell our child how we feel they understand why we do things. That means defining boundaries relating to ourselves, not the child. Don’t say, ‘you’re tired, why don’t you go to bed?’ Say ‘I’m tired and so you need to sleep, because I need to put you to bed before I go to bed’. Tell them you’re leaving the park because you’re cold and bored. Being real about your own feelings means your child will be open with theirs too.

We spent our days reading, sitting in the sun, sleeping. One day we took the TITSA bus (great name!) to the market in a nearby town. I was looking for a tablecloth like the one my mother bought many years ago in Tenerife, with traditional red and green embroidery which was always used at Christmas. Hers was linen, and probably hand-sewn. One of my sisters inherited it but it was something I think we all felt nostalgic about. Mine looks similar, but is synthetic fabric and machine embroidered, bearing the label Made in China, but it was only thirty euros, is big enough for our extended kitchen table and came with eight napkins. I shall enjoy using it for our Christmas celebrations. My song of the holiday was Every Breath you Take by The Police. It was playing in the bar on night and took me straight back to a long ago summer when my life was briefly magical.

Another birthday has come and gone. Getting old has lost its associations of loss and change for the worse. I am just happy to still be here, and. with the prospect of knee surgery to let me go on dancing, look forward to all the good things to come. This was one of my favourite cards from a friend I’ve known for more than forty years. So much shared experience!

I’ve made a few changes to the layout of the blog – the homepage and sketchbook settings, as well as the menu. I’ve also added some links to You Tube videos, notably Girl on Fire in M’s Story. Please let me know if things don’t look right or links don’t work, I’m still learning!

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