When the past becomes the future…

We had two visitors this weekend. Ben’s mum and sister made a 400 mile round trip to spend the afternoon with us. I say us, I mean Oscar 😉 They’ve done it a couple of times before. They share the driving. Rachel enjoys some time off from mummy duties and I think Catherine rather enjoys having Rachel to herself for a couple of hours. I like to think it’s as much for them as it is for us.

This time they also had another reason for coming. They bought with them Ben and Rachel’s paternal grandmother’s antique grandfather clock.

We found out back in 2007, that Ben was to be left the clock in Betty’s will. She told us on the night of our engagement party. The family story tells us that the clock was originally made in the 18th Century and has been in the Tapp family every since. Betty made it clear that guardianship of this piece, one day, would be passed to Ben. At the time he was flattered and rather touched that she trusted him with, what has always been, such an important piece to her.

In the intervening years Betty, this tall, strong, opinionated, strong willed, wonderful woman, has developed Alzheimer’s and latterly has moved into nursing accommodation. As her condition worsened in became obviously that her house would need to be sold to finance this intensive care. This is how Ben has come to receive his inheritance while his grandmother is still with us. It made him rather uncomfortable at first, but we discussed it and agreed that the clock would be better off with us, than placed into storage.


The Tapp Family Clock

This is how it ended up in pieces, in the back of Rachel’s card, whizzing across the south of England last Saturday and is now sat in our bedroom, out of the reaches of Oscars curious hands, awaiting professional restoration and installation.

It really is a beautiful piece and Ben and I spent ages, sat on the floor, discovering it, last Saturday night. It clearly needs a bit of TLC, but wouldn’t you if you were that old? It’s age is apparent manly in the many little repairs and different aged pieces on it. It’s like seeing the many hands that have touched is over the years and it brings home just how honoured we are to have been entrusted with this beautiful piece of family history.

It also shows me where Oscar fits into this line. He is the next generation, the next steward of family history and I feel we have a responsibility to find out and pass on as much information both about the piece and the family as we can.

I know Betty would be thrilled to know the clock is with Ben. I don’t know if she’s been told, I don’t know if she’d know who Ben is. But I wish I could tell her how much we love her and how much we will love this clock, much as she did and that one day in the future this amazing piece of family history will be passed on to the next generation.


UPDATE: You can find a post about the clock’s restoration here.

Diary of an Imperfect Mum

School holidays suck


When I was a child the school holidays, particularly the six week summer holidays, were my favourite times in the whole world. I remember playing with friends, riding my bike, making perfume out of rose petals and water (really gross!) and attending week long play schemes. And there in lies the clue. I’m remembering the holidays of an older child. I don’t remember those from when I was a littley and no one told me just how disruptive and stressful these could be!

During term time, Oscar and I have a kind of a schedule, much as those children who go to school.

  • Mondays, we decide on the day
  • Tuesdays is Noah’s Ark Toddler group followed by coffee with a friend
  • Wednesday is library or sometimes a trip into Godalming
  • Thursdays is Hammer Toddler Group followed sometimes by lunch with a friend
  • Fridays is my NCT group meet up
  • Saturday is swimming lessons

Its pretty samey, but I need this routine as much as the boy does. I like to know we have something planned for most days. It motivates me to get out of the house. Its important for both of our sanity’s.

However, in the holidays, and particularly in the summer holidays everything stops. All the toddler groups grind to a halt and the library’s activities for pre schoolers cease. I looked into it and most other local pre-school classes/courses (such as baby gym, music, sensory, play etc) also stop. Their hiatus leaves me with no more routine and a baby I can’t explain this to.

Don’t get me wrong, I know why this is. Some toddler groups are run in schools, which need to close their buildings in the summer. Some groups are run by women who have their own older children who need looking after. As an aside, neither of these apply to our groups.

I see many places running classes, courses, schemes and workshops over the summer and these are wonderful, if pricey. I remember going to some myself as a child. But not one of those I’ve seen does anything for under 5’s let alone under 2’s. It would appear that the assumption is that younger children/babies do not need entertaining in the holidays in the way older children do. I can’t think why this might be the case, or is that just my toddler?

OK, so this is the case and we the parents of little children just have to suck it up and get on with it. Right, so we find new places to takes them, different things to do. We find the money to cover the expense and we go. And wherever we go is heaving with older children, as quite rightly their parents have had the same idea. But this can makes these trips incredibly stressful. Anything physical, such as a park you would happily let your toddler roam around, suddenly becomes dangerous with long legs and big bodies fly around with gleeful abandon. As it should be of course. But I’d like to see you explain to a firebrand of a 16 month old that actually he can’t go in that park or as happened in the playpark in RHS Gardens Wisley on Monday that he had to go back in the buggy and be taken away for fear he’d be brained! He was livid with me but what could I do?

Whenever I bring this up my husband tells me to “be the miracle”, In other words, “do something about it”. Or “if your’re not going to do anything about it then shut up”! So I try to not bitch about it and find other things to do. I’d find it hard to do anything about it at the moment, as I have Oscar to look after. Maybe I’ll wait til he’s older. Oh wait then he’ll be off school and I’ll have to look after him. Oh hang on……… 😉

Believe me I do understand the situation. The only people affected by this are parents of young children, who either have little ones to look after or who work. And those who work often have their little ones in day care and probably don’t notice as much, as day care runs all year. Why wouldn’t it? You pay enough for the privilege. Maybe I need to think more seriously about going back to work. That’d shut me up!

Maybe it’s just where I live. My friend in the US says this simply doesn’t happen where she lives. What’s it like in your neck of the woods? How did/do you cope with toddlers in the summer hols? I’d be interested to hear.