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A kids’ outing to Eastbourne


5.50 a.m.

I grab what time I can to write. I warm up with the journal. This takes ten minutes, then I can begin to hear the whispers of JTW, allow myself to place a few new words into that saga. I curse when the hope of some time to myself to continue my construction of this story is disturbed by feet on the stairs and a tired mother handing me a tired little boy so that she can return to bed.

6.10 a.m. TBT up

We watch ‘The Hoobs’. The first story is about ‘cuddles’ – which is what we are doing. The second loses his attention and mine. He wants his Lego. I have to find it, scrabbling around upstairs, downstairs, in their bedroom, on the balcony – eventually I find it in their ‘toy cupboard’ – I had tidied it away the night before. This is why I’d prefer to leave everything out, you loose less.

7.30 a.m. I open the curtains and talk gently to Zozo

She needs to get up, get dressed and come and have some breakfast.

I boil them an egg. I want something they will eat. I’m fed up of them starting the day have spilled a few spoonfuls of cereal into their mouths and little else.

8.10 a.m. Leave for Newhaven

8.30 a.m. to 9.00 a.m. Swimming Lesson

I had hoped to have a swim as they swam but it is ‘lady’s’ hour so I cannot. I find myself on the balcony sharing a conversation with another father, a shift worked who takes the week off to supervise his son during his holiday swimming lesson. I can’t get into conversations about my writing, that I haven’t worked this year at all, that I am ‘mother’ – too much in one sitting, for this is all it will be.

9.00 a.m. in the big pool

I change as the kids drip on the poolside. A friend, whose son is in the 9.00 a.m. lesson says that on Thursdays the General Swim starts earlier. I swim up the pool with TBT on my back while Zozo does doggy paddle. TBT tumbles from my back as we reach the deep end and we all make it to the top of the Big Pool. Zozo does another two lengths, but TBT find it too cold, too boring or too much. I nudge him towards a warm shower. He won’t come back in and I know they’ll not tolerate another 45 minutes until the Training Pool reopens for public use.

9.20 a.m. Head for Lewes Leisure Centre

Check times for flume

10.15 a.m. Central Lewes

Bump into one of Zozo’s classmates. I am touched by the girl’s enthusiasm to meet Zozo, touched that this girl has just used her birthday money to buy a book that Zozo had taken into school to ‘show’. Arranging how to get them together seems too complex, we live out of town, they invariably need transport, Darlingest has the house to herself to enjoy complete solitude so that she can work. Blah Blah. None of these excuses are give as the offer is never made, instead we part wishing each other a ‘happy holiday’.


Bow and arrows


Printer paper

Riverside Cafe

Hot chocolate

Bills then the Health Food Shop

Pine nuts, sawdust

12.10 p.m. Return to Seaford

Bows and arrows last thirty second. I am trying to put a rice salad together for Zozo and Darlingest while finishing the kedgeree and ensuring that the kids too have had something to eat. What a palaver. TBT ends up on the balcony mopping primary colours onto a life-size painting (his outline on a piece of wallpaper backing paper stuck to a board bought for the purpose), Zozo is persuaded to complete her life-size picture too, mixing pinks and purples to create a ‘princess in a multi-coloured skirt’. TBT tires and begins to upset Zozo who is concentrating on her picture. It takes all my efforts of persuasion to get him to stay upstairs with the big box of Lego making a fort. He takes up the challenge. I feed him a bag of miniature rice cakes as sustenance.

2.55 p.m. Pier Trip Eastbourne

3.02 p.m. Pier Trip over

Free Bouncy Castle

As I hand over the Psion to Zoe to boys take over the bouncy castle. Ages 12/13 … first request does nothing. I am not pleased. I make it known amongst the parents that we should get together. We do. The call to expulsion bring four parents forward. I do the heavy works. Tell them to get out, they retort with saying they are allowed to go in.

‘What am I going to do about it?

Are you going to lay hands on me?’ I’ve heard this repulsive recourse to legalese before. I threaten to throw him over the side of the pier. On reflection, if pushed I’d ground him, takes his shoes and how them over.

Zozo takes over the Psion

With my assistance she taps in her own diary entry.

Leaving Eastbourne Pier I revisit the public conveniences, Spacious enamel and polished wood Victorian toilets with a fulltime attendant on hand to help with change – 20p is needed to enter. Already I have been given fee access when I approached burdened with the children. I return alone, someone else is on duty, he is Italian, late fifties, and appears not to speak a single word of English. I want to thank him, thank them, for the standard of cleanliness in the toilets. He proffers me change for my £1. I ask him to keep it. It takes a little smiling and gesticulating for me to get over my meaning. As i leave the block having washed my hands this man approaches with a couple of loo rolls. He is gleaming, repeats ‘Graci’ over and over, and stuffs the rolls into my bag, under a jumper. I leave, grinning, pleased that he is pleased, certain that this gift was his way of expressing his thanks for my recognising the work he does.

We have fish and chips in an Italian run restaurant

TBT falls asleep on the way home.

Once home the kids wake up for ‘The Lord or the Rings’

Bad choice, despite them both being desperate to sleep they are unable to do so, instead, tucked into me, over me they fight sleep to see the film through to the end. Somehow I get them into their pyjamas and their teeth cleaned, it is however after 9.00. p.m. by the time they make it to bed. Though taken up by their mother, retrieved from the study, I am called to sit by their bed, Zozo on the top bunk holding one hand, TBT, asleep with his toy bow and arrow tucked into the bed beside him, holding the other.

I stumble towards bed

I stumble through a conversation with Darlingest in which we take it in urns to take with enthusiasm about the highs and lows of our day. Neither of us listen to the other, we both have words to spill, I am as polite as I can be, listen and sympathise. Eventually I have to kiss her and say goodnight.

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