Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Twin Perks

Getting a backie on the back of my new loves bike was a profoundly altruistic experience, more so because I was five months pregnant and we were wheedling through heavy Barcelona traffic.

On our way to a hospital appointment, 'caballero' the van drivers called out to my boy, a gentleman they considered him as he humbly struggled to peddle me around while I sat, fat and blooming, perched on the back.

At that five month scan, our first - eventually we had managed to decipher the bureaucratic Spanish system, the obstetrician asked whether we had planned our pregnancy. 'Errrr, no Señor' we sheepishly admitted. He then proceed to interpret the scan imagery. 'Your first child is here, I looked across at my new love - he wobbled and fell back against the wall, desperatly looking for somewhere to fall...'there is the spine, head and the vagina. The second baby, here, see the head, the spine here and the penis...Did you know you had twins?'

Shock, fear, joy and sheer disbelief flooded through me, fortunately I was lying down, unlike Toots, who was clinging onto the cardboard walls. 'You are very lucky', the obstetrician told us as he left us in our newfound chaos.

We stumbled out of the hospital and gazed across at the calm, azure, sparkling Mediterranean sea.
We clung to each other in wondrous amazement. We were indeed blessed - we were magical. We could not believe this thing we suddenly held between us. Just an hour ago we had one baby and now, incredibly, we had two - we were suddenly a family of four. It was utterly mind-blowing. More so for us, as we had only met eight months previously and had nothing between us except for a couple of rucksacks, a laptop, some books, our passports and a great and beautiful love for each other.

Nothing so far in our relationship had been conventional and now fate had dealt us another unexpected card. We truly believed our love was so magical that we had created boy/girl twins from it. Little did we know at that time how common multiples are becoming as our generation parent much older and as IVF becomes more prevalent.

Almost five and a half years from that precious moment Fealte & Rosebud have played a starring role in our lives. And from those humble bycling beginnings we have continued on our quest for simplicity, knowing that the single most important thing we can ever give to them is our love.

No need is there of great mounds of ugly plastic destroying our peaceful home. No need is there of television or high-tech pushchairs, great monstrous high-chairs, massage classes or adidas trainers. Pencils, paper, lego, books and latterly bikes are the most important tools in their lives. Barefoot we plant seeds, water vegetables and make-up songs.

Recent research from TAMBA (The Twin and Multiple Birth Association) suggests that parents of multiples are more likely to separate - citing financial pressure as the main culprit. But surely twins, or singletons, or three or four children need as little or as much as you care to give them. Granted the costs of two high-chairs, two cots and two pairs of shoes at once may be great, but that is, surely, what IKEA was invented for.

No parent needs to lavish its offspring with the amount of material junk they do these days. No child can wear more than one pair of shoes at once. No child needs a mountain of DVD's or plastic gadgets. No child needs to be taken to hand-signing or baby-yoga classes in a giant 4x4. The amount of debt and expense taken on for the sake of an innocent child is incredible and cannot fail to rock the foundations of its parents as they struggle to keep on top of this mega debt. And all for the sake of whose happiness?


Friday, March 12, 2010


Woolgathering, a delicious word, although it doesn't necessarily mean to gather sheep's wool, but, also, to 'indulge in idle fantasies'. Something often done in the depths of winter, dreaming of some kind-hearted old Granny knitting a beautiful thick woolen polo-neck, or a classical fat wooly hat with a giant pom-pom perched on top, long thick scarves and super sexy socks...

Walking through a farmers market last winter saw a stall holder flaunting her apparently unique designs of woolen headgear. Beautiful matching sets of hats and mittens, scarves, delicate cardigans and thick jumpers all squarely aimed at the wealthy parents of a suburban commuter town. costing upwards of £40, they were sadly well-out of price range. On closer questioning the stall-holder revealed that she had 'contacts' in the world of wool-knitting grannies (WKG's), leaving one thoroughly suspicious of the unique and classical designs. And the high costs considering the generous nature of most WKG's.

Fortunately most folks who have a generous knitter in the family don't appreciate these industrious and thoughtful relations and will often toss such unloved garments as hand-crocheted babies cardigans lovingly threaded with silk ribbon and matching booties with a delicate button fastening into the local charity shop leaving these unworn gems just waiting to be discovered by an old-fashioned mama and lovingly worn by her fat chubby baby.

Luckily we have access to a wonderful WKG, someone else's WKG I might add, Granny Edith. A constant joyous source of old-school knits and cosy gifts. God bless WKG Edith and all who sail forth wearing her delectable finger-smithed pieces.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Second Han News

Contrary to popular belief thrift, second-hand, vintage, hand-me-downs, loft-love-ins, jumble-rumblings are not grubby ferreting amongst a lot of old crap, but rather a refined art of discovery, the revelation of treasure, a freeing of riches personal to just you. And on top of that, hopefully, a bargain to boot.

Amen for Emmaus, the French homeless charity, and scene of much furtive riffling on Saturday afternoons all across France. For just two Euros this vintage silk blouse was procured. Teamed with skinny grey jeans and a blazing blue sky this classical cream French blouse ticks all the hot fashion boxes.

As is often the case en France, home-made clothes abound. Within Emmaus many, many skirts and blouses are hand-sewn and classically cut. But sadly, made for, and by, the tiny old French ladies normally found feeding their poulet and cutting garden-grown lettuces in rural parts.

However, this does mean that many classic, unusual and fabulous lengths of cloth can be easily picked up. As can many other accoutrements of the sewing trade. Rather like these simple and unique sets of buttons, which were nestling in a box with many more, and appeared as if they had been left unused since 1945...


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Travelling with the offspring…

Why is it that in the 21st century people just cannot cope with parenting in the same way as their own folks? I mean what is it with children and travelling – just why does one cancel out the other? What is the matter with jumping in the motor and driving for three-four or even eight hours. Or flying through the skies. What are people so afraid of, that their child might get bored, be sick or actually learn to enjoy being on the road? What is wrong with the education of freedom, of watching the world go by, of meeting new people, listening to new languages, eating weird and wonderful food and map reading?

What is with it with these 21st century parent comrades of mine that they have to have TV injected into every facet of their child’s life – I mean in the bloody car? What is wrong with I Spy, stories, magazines, singing songs or listening to the radio. It is the same as stuffing a dummy into your child’s mouth to keep it from crying out. As long as these children cannot communicate with you then you don’t have to deal with the scary reality of life – the fear that they may utter those fateful words: “are we nearly there yet?”

We have spent the last five years, since having twins Fealte & Rosebud and latterly baby Betty-Blanche, trawling all over Europe in various old motors in our bid to find a hidden paradise. We have fed and changed our twin babies bottoms in fields, in dirty garages, we have fed them milk from all corners of the branding world, we have sung to them, slept with them in lay-bys, we have found camping spots on the top of cool mountains and in the midst of lashing rainy valleys. We have flown 11 hours with them screaming to reach Africa. We have driven non-stop from the bottom of Blighty to the beautiful wilderness of the Scottish Highlands. We have supped with them late in Spanish squares, dined on hot croissants before dawn in French boulangeries and driven eight hours non-stop with our seven day old baby just to make it to a friends wedding in deepest French France. We had children to add to the joy of life not to take away from it. Bring on whining, travel-sickness and a bid for the open road. For to take your offspring on your continuing adventures in life is to make it spangled, complex and original.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Pancake love

You know when you have one of those arguments with your old man, you know the ones which last several days and sees you straddling the edge of the marital bed in a bid to get as far away as possible from your betrothed. When, the same argument gets regurgitated round and round and you wonder how long this will endure before one of you will a) file for divorce or b) say sorry.

Alcohol can work in mysterious ways; effectively fueling the angst and danger of stubborn cupboard love. Or, just days later, oiling the wheels of coherent apologies and civilised behavior.

And in the sweet cold light of morning to maintain this new state of grace with your love make him some pancakes and coffee...freshly flipped, steaming with hot butter, maple syrup and remorse.