Octopus T shirt

T shirt with octopus appliqué (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

My new routine of 5 days in London and 2 days at home has now been going for a month, although no week is the same as any previous one. Both grandchildren started their school summer holiday on Monday but with the elder one back to school for a week’s summer camp, we just had the smallest person at home. She will join her brother at his school in September, and saying goodbye to nursery teachers and friends along with missing her aunt/nanny (i.e. daughter No 3 is now with her sister, daughter No 2, in Cambodia while she plans the next part of her life) means it’s been a week of  challenges and working through changes for the family’s smallest person. Only on Friday did we realise that there was damp on her bedroom wall and that her pillow and duvet were wet, which explains her waking in the night complaining of being cold, when everyone else has been really rather warm. (London terraced houses of this period, the early 1840s, often have gulleys going from front to back of the house. These invariably get blocked with leaves, especially as the trees planted at the same time as the houses were built – both on the road and in the shrubbery behind – now tower high above the roofs.) Poor child. Now we know about it, something can be done.

Embroidered octopus – the soft colours look a bit washed out in the photograph

Daughter No 1 is still confined in the cumbersome boot but a week ago an appointment with the consultant revealed the tendon ends have knitted themselves together which is wonderful but still puts her in the early stages of recovery. A video conference with one of the hospital’s physiotherapists was also positive with general muscle strength in both legs regarded as very good. Now armed with a series of exercises the patient feels more in charge of her own destiny and is getting on with regular sessions three times a day as recommended.

Four year old wearing her octopus embroidered T shirt

The smallest person is thoroughly enamoured with octopuses. Her mother suggested I embroider one on a T shirt for her. For a while I thought about it but the idea left me less than excited. Thinking more about them and other possible embroidery subjects, I did a bit of research and of course was impressed by how very intelligent they have been shown to be. Feeling more positive and quite liking the possibilities of all those limbs, I felt a surge of enthusiasm and got going on an appliqué before I could change my mind. The colours haven’t photographed well but the smallest person seems quite pleased with it so that’s all that really matters.

Octopus embroidered T shirt (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Meanwhile the bigger of the small people has developed another enthusiasm – and one we find less alluring than David Attenborough and animals. We suspect his latest interest in upmarket cars is the result of current fascination among his peers, because nobody in his immediate family has ever seen cars as anything but functional necessities – and the necessity bit is waning as the practical concerns of energy usage and the implications for climate change reign uppermost in a house where the COP26  Conference occupies Daughter No 1’s working day. Whoever picks the small person up from school has tended to spend the journey in a bit of a haze as he drones on about his latest fad, spouting newly acquired facts and figures. The caring contingent then came to the joint conclusion we’d had enough, decided he should understand not everyone shared his enthusiasm, many actually finding it incredibly boring and that it was about time to divert the conversation to something different. Then, one afternoon as we were on the bus and the drone began, “have you ever seen a Lamborghini, a Ferrari, a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost ….” I woke up, took up the challenge and burst into action ticking them off his list,  for as it happens, where we used to live in South Oxfordshire and where we now live in Cheltenham there are smart cars galore. When I worked in the library at Balliol College the then Master (with the wonderful name of Drummond Bone, a Byron specialist) was a Maserati enthusiast and one Saturday the back quad was full of their shiny beetle like carapaces (with a smattering of some equally shiny and bling covered owners). During the whole of the first lockdown a handmade Morgan was parked near our house, sheathed in its smart raincoat of a car cover revealing little of its immaculate construction and anyway, we used to live next door but one to the granddaughter of the man who set up the company. Ferrari’s regularly roar out of town on the A40 near us and today I saw a Lotus as we stood in the queue to get into the Co-op.  Porsches are two for a penny on your walk into town. I could go on … A glimmer of respect entered the child’s eyes – and then we changed the conversation.

“It’s hot, hot, hot”, as my ex-mother-in-law would regularly write in letters from the time she lived in South Africa. After the week’s exertions in London, I spent the day reading and moving about as little as possible. Bliss, bliss, bliss. Fingers crossed the smallest child’s bedroom wall is drying out.

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  1. Posted July 18, 2021 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    It’s certainly good drying weather!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted July 18, 2021 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

      I do hope so – I’m leaving my bedlinen out on the washing line tonight!

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