My life at the moment feels a bit like a children's game – one where there are lots of bugs on springs and the aim is to press them all down, but as fast as you catch one, another pops up and you can never quite manage to get on top of all of them. In reality, of course, the bugs are the lumps and bumps of real life, mostly the result of having three children, a demanding job and a busy life at home.
This time of the year was always a bit fraught when the children were younger, from the October Harvest Festival onwards there was much to attend to – school Christmas Performance rehearsals and costume making, mince pie baking for the Xmas Fayre, planning and purchasing the present list and festive menus alongside all the usual activities and responsibilities. I suppose I thought it might get a bit quieter as the children grew up but I thought wrong!
Olley and I have just returned from the lovely city of Bath where Charlie is at university. His last few weeks have been disrupted by living in a house with a dodgy roof – during the storms of last month it became obvious that the house was uninhabitable – rain was pouring through the light fittings and down the walls of the bedrooms.
Since then he has been in temporary accommodation but finally he and his three friends have secured another house to rent and we have been down to gather his belongings from across the city and help him settle into his new home. He needed our help because he has a broken hand, a war wound from a recent hockey game, and can only carry with his left hand. In fact, it is rather badly smashed up and he can't type or write, which isn't helping his final year dissertation.
With this alongside the upheaval of his housing problems life seems a bit uphill for Charlie at the moment, but we've left him happy that he, once again, has a kitchen in which to cook his favourite roast chicken, even if he only has one hand to do it with!
Billy is our youngest and still at home, now attending college. After the excitement of qualifying as a snowboarding instructor in Canada last year he is finding living at home and knuckling down to study rather claustrophobic – the mountains are calling him and we are trying to help him recognise the value of completing his course.
This hasn't been helped by his laptop hard drive crashing taking his most recent, un-backed up work with it, so he has suffered the pain of having to do it again. But he has also booked his flights for a February break in the Alps, joining a friend who is working the season there, so he has something to look forward to. And yes, I have checked - he has got a return ticket rather than just one way so he is planning to come home, at the moment at least.
Bex, our oldest, is doing really well at the moment. She is in her fifth year of Medical School and is spending her time on the wards in a number of London hospitals. She's planning to come home for a couple of days soon, after a stint of nights on the labour ward – it will be good to see her.
Her only call for help last week was easily solved. As she tried to leave the hospital she realised someone had locked their bicycle to hers rather than the bike rack. She rang for advice as she didn't want to leave her bike there overnight but wasn't sure what to do. I suggested asking the porters for help, and they were able to release her bike for her.
A good thing too – they told her that there has been a spate of people targeting bikes to lock up until night time when they then break the lock and steal the bike. Bex's bike, our 21st birthday present to her, is her pride and joy and a rather essential part of her enjoyment of triathlons. It reminds you that not everyone out there is on your side.
But my faith in mankind was restored at the weekend when I took some of the clutter that fills our home to a local car boot sale. It's the first I've ever done – normally I just take it all to a charity shop but with December looming I thought I would try to cover some of the cost of Christmas.
The takings were probably not really worth the effort, but the experience was fun – rather than chatting via a qvc camera I was face to face with my customers, although what I was selling amounted to little more than junk, really. One person recognised me not from QVC but from when I attended a fundraising sponsored event at her school about 30 years ago!
So life continues, with its ups and downs, but generally we muddle along ok. They say that a parent is often only as happy as their least happy child, but as Charlie is probably tucking into his roast dinner, Billy has got the distinction he was after for his assignment and, for all I know, Bex is helping to deliver a beautiful baby this very minute, I'm not feeling too bad myself! Another quiet day in the Olley household.
Take care, and I hope you keep on top of those spring-loaded bugs!