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I collect things.
I have, for instance, unusually large collections of children, horses, lycra, shoes, music, books and exercise equipment.
These are my essential collections.
Then, there are various undesirable collections like piles of un-opened letters, broken laptops; c-section scars; unwanted tattoos, sinks full of dirty dishes and stacks of stuff at the bottom of the stairs awaiting eventual ascension to the children’s bedrooms.
The generic name for these collections in our house is “drama”. Believe me, the Saxelby household is always very “dramatic”.
My husband says that my collections are evidence of never knowing when to stop and that it is the same trait that means I am incapable of leaving an argument without having the last word even if, as he claims, the “last word” is not exactly relevant to that particular argument.
Of course, I tell him he is talking rubbish. If I tell him often enough, he usually shuts up and lets me have the last say. Not that I’m bothered about that, of course.
Anyway, Jon’s flimsy evidence for his accusation is mainly centred around my horses, some of which were admittedly bought with only grudging approval on his part. I do not think an accidental horse purchase or two is proof of anything.
I suppose he might have a point when it comes to music. My lovely husband bought my first ever iPod for my birthday the first year we met. It held 4GB of data but I filled it to the max within half an hour. Jon obviously did not know me well enough back then.
My latest iPod is 160 GB – I had to source an old model from the internet as Apple stopped making them that big because they couldn’t make them thin enough!
My shoe collection is not typical for a woman. When you hear the words “shoe collection” you will no doubt be thinking of a bottom shelf in a wardrobe full of shiny Jimmy Choos in various shades.
There are no Jimmy Choos in the Saxelby house (hint, hint dear husband, size 5, preferably pink). There are, however:
-Long leather riding boots
-Extremely dirty yard boots
– Olive coloured Balmoral Hunters – ( thanks Jen and Rick of Country Attire)
– Off-road fell running shoes
-Track running spikes
– Two pairs of motion control running shoes
– Light weight racing trainers
-Mountain bike cycle shoes with cleats
-Racing bike cycle shoes with cleats
-6 inch high glittery gold “Rocky Horror” platforms
– A pair of yellow and blue swimming flippers
-Ladybird slippers (with holes)
– An unworn, ugly pair of “grown-up, sensible” flat shoes – which Jon made me buy
– An over-the-knee pair of hooker boots
-Various pairs of high heels that I have owned since my twenties but still cannot walk in
– A very battered pair of unbranded almost-easy-to-walk-in heels that I bought in Spain on a hen-do and which I haven’t thrown away for sentimental reasons
-Silver Birkenstocks (fake)
-White Birkenstocks (fake)
Pink Birkenstocks (genuine), bought for me by Jon half an hour after our wedding. (I had walked to the registry office sporting a beautiful but blister-inducing pair of diamante stilettos. I wasn’t about to walk back in them so we left the guests to make their way back to the reception while we nipped into the Victoria Centre.
Yes, folks, with ring firmly wedged on finger for less than 30 minutes, it was comfy shoes for me. Jon could not complain, however. Having singularly failed to provide a Roller or Bentley, he made me hop on a number 58 bus in my wedding dress so that we could be back at his place to greet the guests (you will have to trust me that it was a fab wedding – it’s just that Jon would not be shifted from his firm contention that if he supplied a free bar and good food, no-one would be looking at the flowers or other things people get themselves into a tizz about at weddings.)
Back to collections – I think I can safely assign all the blame for my music collection and possibly some others to my dad. It’s all genetic you see.
I know this because, when I was little, dad had a massive vinyl collection which he unfortunately lost when my mum divorced him and wouldn’t let him have any of them back, even though I had only ever known her listen to one album during my lifetime and that was only because it was Christmas!
Dad soon started searching through charity shops and car-boot sales until he’d undoubtedly acquired more than he had possessed pre-divorce.
Then dad took me to visit his brother, my uncle Neville who lived in Boston. Neville and both of his sons, Nick and Howard, loved music and collected albums – literally thousands of them. I was totally awe-struck when I went up into Howard’s attic bedroom to be confronted with walls that were completely shelved and covered in CDs.
It was amazing and I wanted that collection. On the other hand, I realised I had probably inherited a genetic defect from my dad’s side.
When I was at uni, I’d often come back to stay with dad in his bachelor pad for the weekend and after getting in from the pub on a Saturday night, we would play “music quiz” which consisted of dad selecting random tracks from his car-boot vinyl collection and me having to name the artist, song title and year of release.
This came in very useful for future pub quizzes (providing the questions are about music from 1979 or before).
One lesson that I have learned for life from dad’s quizzes though is that Dire Straits are dire. Sorry dad.
I know that I’m lucky that I don’t have to work a nine-to-five job or commute for two hours every day, or bus children around to a childminder’s house before 7am.
As both Jon and I work from home (or, in my case, work from the yard that is at the bottom of my garden) then we can and do spend a good deal of our time drinking coffee, having internet social networking breaks or, in my case “nipping out for a run”.
For the past couple of years before signing up to this blog account, I have been venting my frustrations, selling my foals and sharing general Saxelby chaos using Facebook, Twitter and web forums, with plenty of responses, interaction and feedback from people, many of whom I have never met. Probably the most frequently seen replies to some of my posts are “How do you cope?”, “Are you on drugs?” or “You should be on drugs!”.
For those who aren’t well acquainted with my Facebook page, here are some examples of the kind of status update I’m talking about:
This month’s stats:- During September I have fallen off my bike twice, fallen down the stairs once, been bitten by one horse, broken two plates, raced in one triathlon and one half marathon, hosted one child’s swimming party, drank roughly 180 cups of coffee, collected various children from running, rugby, bowls, netball and sleep-overs, burnt at least three dinners to a crisp, made two batches of biscuits, carried a three year old on my shoulders up “Steep Hill” in Lincoln, locked my husband out of the house once, drank virtually NO alcohol (amazing), sneaked the hound onto my bed once, shopped in Morrisons, Tesco and the Co-op at least three times each, re-wired an ancient wire fuse, delivered one horse to its new home. But the best and most memorable achievement of the month is I HAVE CHANGED NO NAPPIES. This is the first time I have been entirely nappy free for 12 years!
Here’s another one from October:
This fortnight’s stats:- I have mucked out 84 stables, hosted two children’s birthday parties, ran in a 5k race and a 12k obstacle race, had one flat tyre on my mountain bike, burnt two meals, broken one outdoor tap, dug one massive hole to enable mending of outside tap, bought seven things from eBay, been rude to one extremely persistent and annoying cold-calling loft insulation representative, read three books, one triathlon magazine, one dressage magazine, spent 10 minutes trying to work out what was wrong with the volume on my iPod – when I’d forgotten to put the earphones in, made Halloween bats and witches, swam 170 lengths, cycled 68 miles, drank two glasses of wine, approx. 70 cups of coffee and 14 cups of green tea.
A last one from July:
This fortnight’s stats: – In the last 14 days I have mucked out 48 stables, put up two tents and taken them down again, filled up one giant swimming pool, killed two large patches of grass (!) had two extra children over for sleep-overs in the tent, sent three of my children off on sleepovers for 4 days, had two foals born, chased one escapee yearling, Saxy youngsters have had two x 1st premiums at the BEF Futurity, ran 29 miles, biked seven miles, got hopelessly drunk once and marginally drunk twice, been to one charity fundraising party, eaten one Chinese, two packets of hay fever tablets, one packet of ibuprofen, read 1.5 novels, one running magazine, purchased a new pair of trail-running shoes and tested them around a 16 acre cow field, smashed one wine glass and two mugs, made roughly 20 cups of coffee for builders, changed approximately 14 nappies and emptied 2 potties down the toilet (progress), walked into a loaded-with-dead-flies fly-paper three times…
So you can see that, despite being self-employed and wasting far too much time on the internet, I do manage to fit in some activities that don’t involve children or horses and probably manage just as many disasters along the way!
As a keen runner I have learnt that, when a session starts to get tough and the voice in my head tells me to “slow down”, it helps loads if I start counting and focussing on only the next 10 strides at a time.
I got this idea from a running magazine and have found it really useful. I have since developed my own version, which is singing the alphabet song (inside my head may I add, I don’t need to encourage people to think I am deranged) and have used this technique so often that I’m now getting quite good at matching distances to the letters. For example, if I’m running along and spot something that is certain distance away, I often think “oh, that tree is a P” or “that cow is a J, second-time round”. This works because, while I am singing the alphabet song, my mind cannot also be shouting at me telling me to walk.
I also apply a similar method to other areas of my life by breaking tasks up into mini “playlists” lists in my head and only focusing and thinking about one list at a time. For example, if I had get the kids to school then muck out eight stables and then ride a horse before lunch, go to the supermarket, collect children from the bus-stop followed by a meal for seven to cook and then evening stables – the whole day starts to look and sound a bit daunting.
I get around this by absolutely and resolutely refusing to think about any playlist other than the one I’m currently working on. To start worrying about getting to a doctor’s appointment on time when I am mid-mucking out would stress me out, so I have learnt to not do this.
I also apply this method to triathlon competitions, which involve moving from swimming to cycling and cycling to running with timed transitions in between. When I am racing, I only think of swimming whilst I’m swimming, cycling whilst I’m cycling and running whilst I’m running.
A lot of practice at home is necessary to ensure I know what level of effort it is possible for me to maintain in each discipline without causing a decrease in performance in another discipline but, come race day, I only think about one thing at a time and this helps me put in my best effort and prevents the voice in my head from screaming “Stop – too much!!!!!”.
Anyway, that’s what works for me. I am interested to hear other people’s mental strategies.
Hello, my name is Lucy. I’m 36 and I have 5 children, 19 horses, a kind, handsome, bumbling, occasionally argumentative husband, a sweet but equally smelly Basset hound, an advanced triathlon habit and some stick insects. Oh and i also have a very messy house, which i suspect JK Rowling probably used as her main influencing factor, when she created the Weasley’s house in her Harry Potter stories.
We live in a tiny village in the countryside (think mud, running out of milk, gossiping neighbours who go out of their way to find out other peoples’ business). I breed and sell Sport horse foals for my “job” and Jon, my husband (think Jonny Wilkinson x Boris Johnson) does PR and journalism and works from home.
Our children:- Rosie (12) loud, dramatic, funny, clever, horse-obsessed book-worm with door-slamming tendencies and an extensive repertoire of foreign voices.
Clyde (11) gentle, charming, fishing-mad, computer gamer who will dig in the mud for “fishing” worms all day but has yet to muck out a stable.
Daisy (9) happy, girly, wannabe pop-princess who poaches high heels from my bedroom, thrives on my cuddles, sings in her sleep and who burst a blood vessel in her nose at an early age from screaming to get her own way!
Violet (5) Sweet, loving and Intelligent and wise for her age, initially shy but funny-come-bonkers at home, also showing potential for unusual voices and loves telling jokes (which are not always funny!).
Marigold (3) Looks like a beautiful, blonde, butter-wouldn’t-melt angel but is trouble reincarnated, yet to learn to use “I” in place of “me” and has the widely used home, friend and Facebook nick-name “The troll”… but we all adore her in spite of this.