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Actually all still amazingly lovely. Everyone is back at school now, and all is going really well. I am even loving the walk to school as we tramp up incredibly steep hills in the rain it is still rather delightful. I presume the novelty will wear off.  Sam spent this morning damming the stream in the wood – he claims this was a scientific experiment – I await the bill with trepidation. It is a lovely school – particularly as they don’t seem too fussed by my small destroyers – there was even tea on the lawn this afternoon. This happens every Thursday while the children run wild in the grounds.

Ben has a new collection of lady friends – at least he is convinced that they are girls owing to their flowing locks which turn out to be de rigueur down here – for boys. Most of the actual girls he calls ‘rectangle heads’ due to their rather neater coiffures.

Am thrilled to announce that I have solved one of the most distressing elements of life in the Hordens. WE HAVE SAT NAV and can now travel with calm serenity rather than having regular ‘adventures’ in industrial estates and other places where adventuring is no fun. Not to mention the numerous occasions on which I have phoned Oppressed Husband to wail that ‘I don’t want to go to Oxford,  I want to go to Shepherds Bush.’

Other people’s children ask ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ with boring regularity – yet mine ask several times every journey ‘Are we lost?’ and then exhort me not to cry. ‘Don’t cry mummy – it will be alright’. It is pathetic.

Also discovered in new enforced closeness with children that I have bred horrendous anxiety into at least two of my offspring. Noticed, whilst I was being somewhat flappy about impending lateness, that the children have evolved various different responses. Guess who got which from whom.

Sam wanders off to pack for all eventualities and can be relied upon to produce rocket launchers, binoculars, and string on any expedition,

Ben sits down and point-blank refuses to have anything to do with any of it and

Imogen stands by the front door flapping her hands and roaring at the others to cooperate before asking ‘Are we late yet’ and ‘What we are panicking about today?’

OH, of course, dictates the time we should leave and then settles down to read the paper. This makes me want to throw shoes at him.

Had recent uprising re the move. Sam dissolved into tears at supper and explained that he didn’t like it in Bath and wanted to go back to London. On questioning this appeared to be mostly due to the lack of pigeons and foxes. Also Seagulls doing big poos.

Imogen had a brief spell of extra teenage huffing – particularly irritating in an 8 year old.

But Ben’s reaction is having the most lasting legacy. Having proudly not potty trained him as he was not ready until he was 31/2 and then as if to prove my v sensible point he did it completely without fuss or drama – he has regressed and now seems totally incontinent. The 3 to 4 outfits a day and much mopping was bad. But things came to a head at the posh country club on the terrace when I found him standing on an enormous turd, in an attempt to hide it, with a repellent reverse Hansel and Gretel trail of nuggets indicating his path. So back to nappies we go!

Have been having a rather Hot Bed situation with visitors recently and have only had two nights with nobody here but us chickens for about 3 weeks. Have decided to cheat in laundry terms and for one night stays have been reversing the bedding. Is this v bad? Was therefore extra put out when the cat took exception to one particular guest and left a thoughtful leaving present for them on the duvet – large crap. Not a mouse. Think at this stage of laundry crisis would have dealt with rodent leavings with baby wipes. This not poss. with poo.

To the rugby fans amongst you I would like to boast that I had morning coffee at Phil de Glanville’s house last week and am going out for a beer with Nigel Redman next thursday. I appear to have wandered unknowingly into a parallel university life. Was therefore only slightly perturbed to discover that the rather sweet girl whom Sam declared to be his new girlfriend!! is the progeny of the man with no ears who blocked out the sun. All has been settled amicably and without bloodshed as Sam has transferred his affections to a chap called Olly ‘who likes reptiles too’.

Have been slightly shocked by lack of hardiness in visitors. Those without children were visibly shaken by my instruction to the children that they were not to be woken before 7am.  24 hours seems the longest that most of our guests have been able to hack the pace. All but granny, to her credit, have retired exhausted to sleep for several days by the look of them. Not very hardy souls.

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