Yes, they're twins. Both of them!

Everyday experiences with twins. The ups, downs and downright unexpected.

The new tenants (part 2) July 30, 2011

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It’s becoming a real possibility that this blog may morph into a tenant-related saga given the developments of this week. The twins and the big brother have been a delight and we’ve enjoyed a fabulous week together, making the most of the British summer. There’s little to report on the family front other than a breakdown of our travels and excursions.

We started the week in Devon with the big brother’s best mate H. It doesn’t matter how long since they last saw each other (in this case, almost a year), but they always fall back into their old games and favourite pastimes within a matter of minutes. It’s lovely to see.

From Devon we did  a brief pit-stop at my parents house where a trip to Berkeley castle and the butterfly farm proved a great hit with all three small people. Then from Gloucestershire, we headed up to North Yorkshire to see my oldest pal E and indulge in even more child-friendly excursions. Picnics and playgrounds being the necessity that keep the troops entertained and more importantly, worn out!

Whilst the children are content seeing old friends and enjoying the novelty of outdoor activity and pleasantly warm sunshine; the fly in the ointment has been the persistent and seemingly unending list of complaints from Mrs Bossy Knickers aka my new tenant.

The week started with an email of epic proportions. A full 18 points of complaint that needed ‘immediate resolution’. I was tempted to simply copy and paste her written rant so you could appreciate that I’m not exaggerating her unreasonable demands; but felt this perhaps may not make for the most enjoyable of posts.

Instead, a selection of my favourite complaints this week:

1) There are visible cracks between the floorboards.

It’s a Victorian property, and the floors are original. After 150+ years, I’ve a feeling Mrs BK herself may also be showing a few visible cracks!

2) Mrs BK can’t get her television to work. Please can the agent drive over to the property to fix this for her.

The agent did drive the 12 miles to the house (which is more than I would have done), plugged the TV into the wall, turned it on, and surprise, surprise… the TV works.

3) Please can the agent urgently visit the property to explain to Mrs BK ‘the rules regarding garbage disposal in this county’!

I was tempted to email her to explain that we don’t have ‘garbage’ in the Cotswolds, but admittedly this may have been seen as facetious.

Instead, the agent emailed some valuable information to her. When you have items to dispose of, you place them in a bin, and at the end of every week, some nice men from the council come and remove them. Fabulous! Is this phenomenon unique to Gloucestershire I wonder?

4) Please can the agent come to the house to empty the bin that is ‘full of nappies’.

Now this one really did grate. Whilst at my house, in the days before Mrs BK moved in, I needed to change both my girls. Wet nappies, nothing offensive, that I placed in my bin. It’s a large wheely bin that, when I left the property, contained only the 2 used nappies I had disposed of.

So one of two things must have occurred. 1) a nappy-wielding beast deposited a hundred or so nappies in the bin in the time between me leaving and Mrs BK arriving (around 36 hours). Or 2) Mrs BK is not only extremely demanding, but also desperately short-sighted and/or prone to hallucinations that make 2 nappies seem as if they are filling a standard wheelie bin (240 litre capacity!).

To my amusement, our agent also took issue with this complaint, and whilst at the house turning on the TV, took a photo of the inside of the bin (still containing just the 2 nappies) and emailed it to both myself and Mrs BK to enquire if this was indeed, the bin in question.

I reckon for that alone, she’s earned her commission this month.

 

The new tenants July 22, 2011

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This morning we popped over to our house to meet our new tenants. I’m beginning to wish we hadn’t.

We were greeted by our letting agent, who was wearing her best, ‘don’t ask, I’m handling it’ smile, and we soon understood why.

Mrs Tenant clearly wears the trousers. As her husband struggled to single-handedly unpack the hired van full of sofas, beds and the rest of their worldly goods; she held court in the front garden, explaining to us all in great detail exactly what is wrong with our house.

The garden is in an appalling state, the dishwasher isn’t German, she needs not one but two sheds, and there’s a shelf missing in one of the kitchen cupboards.

She doesn’t like the woodwork, or the floors, and she doesn’t understand the heating controls. And did she mention that the oven is disgustingly dirty? In her apartment in the city, her tenants could eat their meals off her floors apparently.

Don’t even tempt me…

Bear in mind we hadn’t actually introduced ourselves yet. I considered pretending we were dropping off a parcel and had no idea who the owners were, but sadly, my cunning plan was thwarted by the children who were already heading off to the big brother’s tree house with more than a little familiarity in their surroundings.

Twinsdaddy drew a deep breath and prepared to go into battle with Mrs Bossy Knickers. Mr Tenant busied himself with a headboard and I headed off into the garden. Some time alone in a wide open space was called for.

The list of demands continued for some time and twinsdaddy, showing remarkable patience under extreme pressure, managed to avoid all but the most sensible requests.

The gardener is already booked for this weekend, the oven is going to be professionally cleaned, the shelf isn’t missing and I’m sorry, the nationality of the dishwasher is somewhat out of our control.

And then the mother-in-law turned up.

Typical Cotswold stock. A lady of solid construction and a face like a British bulldog. She was wearing the classic uniform of a 65+ female in this area. The stripey shirt and padded gilet with pale jeans and practical, flat boat shoes. I don’t care if Kate Middleton has been seen wearing them; they’re only acceptable when boating, and at last look, the Cotswolds was pretty well landlocked.

She was also sporting the jauntily tied neck scarf and of course, an obligatory string of large pearls round her chubby neck.

She looked me up and down, then cast an eye over to where the children were playing.

“Are they all yours?”, she enquired.

When I confirmed they were, she uttered, “Good grief”, before pulling a face that can’t possibly have been meant as a compliment, then turned and walked off.

30 seconds later, she turned and headed back to me and I naïvely thought she may have realised her comments were perhaps, a little unfriendly and she’d returned to try again. Oh no.

“And your garden’s in an appalling state. I do hope you’re getting it sorted quickly”.

We made our excuses and decided to leave the agent to it.

“Lovely to meet you”, we shouted as we almost ran back to the car.

And then the parting pièce de résistance from Mrs Bossy Knickers.

“We’d probably like to stay longer than a year, so if your plans change, do let us know”, she shouted.

Fat bloody chance!

 

Twinsmummy is in the country! July 18, 2011

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The wedding was fabulous. The children, for once, were beautifully behaved and looked delightful; and we are now collectively collapsed, en famille, in a charming little cottage in Chipping Campden. The plan is to get some sleep (ha!), befriend the locals, and indulge in English country pursuits…

I’ll keep you posted!

 

 

Travelling In Style July 11, 2011

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Today we travelled to the UK. Our annual family pilgrimage to escape the heat of Dubai, and re-introduce the children to green grass, fresh air and wellie boots.

We always take the same flight out of Dubai leaving at around 8 in the morning, and reaching Birmingham at midday. It’s never a very joyous experience.

We get up at silly o’clock and then go through the tedium of the baggage drop queue, the passport control queue and the security queue. All accompanied by grumbling and whining from at least one of our entourage.

I seem to reach the plane doors feeling that the journey must surely be nearly over, when in fact, we’ve yet to even leave our home city.

The big brother is great on the plane as he just sits and watches as many movies as possible in a 7-hour window. He can’t believe his luck that days like these exist.

The girls are a bit trickier. They don’t yet have the attention span for a movie, and prefer to play impromptu peek-a-boo with our fellow passengers. There’s normally a lot of climbing involved. A fair amount of grizzling and a predictable battle to get them to sit on their seats and be strapped in for take off and landing.

All of this in the confines of Economy where the seats have been designed for Munchkins, and where the food holds as much appeal as the girls’ offerings of ‘pies’ made solely from ‘ingredients’ found in our garden.

So imagine my delight when I checked in online and discovered that I had been upgraded to Business class.

Twinsdaddy was momentarily lost for words. When the penny dropped and he realised what this meant, he turned an extremely pale shade of grey.

As we boarded the plane, I spoke with the purser and explained the situation and asked, very gently, if I might bring one of the twins up into Business class to join me after take off.

Remarkably, she agreed. I think she’d caught sight of twinsdaddy as he staggered back to join the rest of the great unwashed, accompanied by 3 children and 7 pieces of hand luggage.

It’s safe to say the blonde and I had a delightful journey back to Birmingham. She enjoyed pushing the buttons on the ‘magic chair’ and making it into a bed. We lay on the mattress under our duvet together and had a relaxing mid-morning snooze.

Fortunately, she wasn’t a fan of the super large headset so instead, we watched the Wiggles without any audio.

Without a doubt the best way to experience the Wiggles!

I’ll admit to having a sneaky glass of Veuve before lunch and then the two of us tucked into our meals, sitting side-by-side and commenting on how lovely our food was. The blonde had jam sandwiches, raisins and mini cheddars (even in Business class, you can’t get a guaranteed nut-free meal); whilst I tucked into the equally lovely smoked salmon and prawn terrine followed by veal with caramelized onion chutney and saffron mash.

I have a feeling, that somewhere, twinsdaddy is compiling a rather long list of all my extravagances this year, to which this journey has just been added.

And I suspect, before long, it will be pay back time.

 

Why the school holidays are overrated July 4, 2011

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Last Wednesday, my son broke up from school for the summer holidays amid cheers and sighs of relief. And that was just from the mummies.

No more crack of dawn school runs, no debates about why the contents of the lunch box have come home untouched again. And no more waiting in the playground, hopping from foot to foot as the heat from the tarmac burned every available skin cell and the sweat quite literally, dripped off us by the litre-load.

Everyone said their farewells for the summer and swapped escape plans. The only topic of conversation in the last month has been:

“When are you leaving for the summer?”

“Where are you going this year?”

“How long are you staying away?”

Everyone was quite literally desperate for term to end.

So you’d think that not even a week into this joyous period, we’d still be at the honeymoon stage of lie-ins and late nights.

Seemingly not.

The big brother seems to be of the misguided opinion that being off school means being entertained at every point of the day, every day of the week.

I thought I was doing quite well by arranging a few play dates and a cinema outing in the opening days of the holiday. But I’ve already been hit with that phrase that is the verbal equivalent of nails going down a blackboard.

“Mummeeeee, I’m BORED”

I’ve tried pointing out the bedroom full of toys, books and games. I’ve reminded him of the existence of puzzles and art supplies that have been neglected for months. I’ve even succumbed to bouts of television and the DS.

When does term start again?