It's the middle of what's turned out to be an eventful year. We finished our holiday apartment despite losing our builders during lockdown, sadly we can't coax them to return and tradesmen are now being paid such silly money that we're building the rest of our house ourselves. More affordable, albeit slower. In my experience, builders can't be relied upon to turn up when they say they will, or even call back, so it's he and me. We did have some lovely builders for the first stage of the build, which was fantastic, but all the stonework and woodwork and decorating was done by us. Many months of grafting. Old school repointing of ancient stone is fingertip-grinding stuff but the results have been worth it and the reviews have been exceptional.
Our kids are crazy for karate these days, having begun a month ago and now on to yellow belts, which are very pretty, but I don’t think that’s the point. They train three times a week. Our daughter had her first surfing lesson this last birthday and she is now sold. If we're to pay for any further lessons one of us will need to be sold too. Her recent birthday was more eventful than usual. We started out with our heart-exploding doughnuts and other treats from the local bakery who are single-handedly ruining the health of the town, then daughter and one son went off the local park while I cracked on with fashioning my three into surfers to place on top of the 3-tiered (and almost teared, when I thought the only thing that was going to rise was me) cake complete with surfboards, ocean and waves. I try to outdo myself every birthday with my cake sculpting mayhem but as it turned out this time I was only going to get 20 minutes for that cake accompli. I'd just finished the 3 surfboards when son 2 came back from the park with blood pouring from a gash atop his head. He'd leapt up and been accosted by a chunk of wood. Husband had to scoot him to the small local hospital who 'don't do head injuries' so it was off to one of the 2 larger hospitals in the area - the one that has a triage for kids, thank God - not a given round these parts and before long (as in, a few hours not the 9-12 it usually takes) he was home all glued back together again unlike Humpty Dumpty. As per my daughter’s request, we'd been due to have a particular lunch, so I made it in haste and packed it up for a now pre-surf picnic that became necessarily post-picnic. Then it was a scenic drive in Snowdonia and on to dinner after which I hastily fashioned the surfers for the cake. Their arrangement sums up the day. One of the kids is surfacing from the water, one is half on the board and one is flat out. We rounded off the evening with our usual family party with a playlist that included many family favourites, amongst them, AC/DC, Sia, ZZ Top, Michael Jackson, House of Pain (seemed appropriate) Beastie Boys and various other modern acts my daughter chose, some very good but I can't remember who they are.
Life is generally not getting back to normal, as in we can hang with people, though there is no normal for us. Each week is different as it is for many homeschooling, freelancing and now freewheeling homeschooling families - Our cars were both scrapped just before lockdown and we've been hiking, biking and training (requires patience) it since then, but recently we bought a Mazda Bongo, and as such, we find we're automatically (in both senses) in something of a bonkers Bongo club. Other members wave maniacally at us as we drive down the A55. There are physical meet-ups too, which we won't be joining (we have so much in common! Our Bongos!), but I am sold on van life. Yesterday we went to visit friends on the Llyn peninsula and our new fridge (oh the fun to be had with van accessories!) kept the fizz and the lychee juice and all of us, all chilled, if you don’t count the country stop where I leapt out into mud or manure so that I could help our youngest could throw up in a bush. I've never been that into vehicles, but I'm sold on this one. There have been weekends in the sea in Anglesey, trips to Snowdonia where we can huddle over a table of freshly made coffee and admire the views rain or shine or rain again, and the usual biking to my studio to paint and work where the sea and mountain views are some of the best of God’s palette. I've been working on a couple of interesting books for clients and, having finished a book in March, am working on my first factual narrative - no research! I am the research. A comparative doddle. Happy mid year bears!