Yes, they're twins. Both of them!

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

In Praise of Freezers May 3, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 12:55 am
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So, we’re now into week 3 at the ‘new school’ and still the big brother seems to be taking everything in his stride. We’ve had no wobbles, no tears, no “I wish I was back in Dubai” moments; and frankly, the longer this goes on, the more confident I’m becoming that everything really is fine in his little world.

His last class teacher was fabulous, and by her own admission, pushed hard to get results which I’m not about to complain about. One benefit of this has been very clear in the last few weeks as the big brother has enjoyed a smooth transition into his new class where he appears to be comfortably tackling his lessons.

Every afternoon he comes home with a new reading book which is quickly devoured and returned for another. Numeracy homework has yet to need twinsmummy to step in (always a relief), and even the spellings are proving no great challenge. I’m trying not to be smug about all this you understand.

So, the upshot is, I’m not really worrying about anything that goes on during his day. I know he’s made friends as I’ve been introduced to them at pick up time and he has been invited to two birthday parties to date. I also know that the best bit about his new school as far as he’s concerned has nothing to do with the curriculum or his peers, but the rather fabulous school dinners that he now enjoys (there were no school dinners at his school in Dubai, hence the novelty).

Each day, I collect a very cheery little chap, who talks non-stop all the way home about whatever game he’s played at break time, or what the pudding was at lunch time.

I try to pry more information out of him by steering him towards anything new he might have learnt that day, and it is at this point I find out that there is one subject where he’s not as well versed as the rest of his peers.

Twinsmummy: “So, did you learn anything new today?”

Big Brother: “Yes, we were learning all about freezers”

TM: “Freezers? Was that in your science lesson? What exactly did you learn? (admittedly, a little bemused).

BB: “Not FREEZERS mummy, JESUS!! Don’t you know about Jesus?”

TM: Desperately backtracking… “Yes, of course I know about Jesus. What exactly did you learn?”

BB: “We were reading about him going on a donkey. We were copying the story out of a big book”

TM: “Was it the bible?”

BB: With more than a little surprise. “So you do know about Jesus then?”

RE – the one subject that wasn’t covered as thoroughly in the UAE.


I don’t know where to begin April 13, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 9:47 pm
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I realise it’s been a fair few weeks since twinsmummy put fingers to keyboard, but in my defence, I’ve had a few other chores on my ‘to do’ list.

There have been many days over the past 3 weeks when I’ve almost managed to post, only to be stopped at the critical moment by an international move or milestone birthday (twinsdaddy’s, not mine before you start any rogue rumours!).

As a little insight into the mayhem that has passed for normal life, here is a list of just a few of the events that have been keeping me away from my blog.

1. The Big Brother’s last ever day at school in Dubai. One word… emotional.

2. Twinsdaddy’s 40th Birthday. Remarkably civilised and not a hangover in sight. We must be old.

3. The twins last day at nursery in Dubai. Chaotic.

4. The journey from Dubai to England. Just me… and them. Long.

5. Some serious jet lag. Why do we have to start the day at 3am? Why?

6. The move from the comfort and 24/7 food-athon of my parents house, to the beautiful, yet 100% uncatered Cotswold cottage that will be our home for the next 3 months.

7. Five hours in Cribbs Causeway shopping mall with 3 year old twins and a non-plussed 7 year old. Not to be repeated.

I promise now that I’m firmly back on UK time and don’t have to organise another move for at least 12 weeks, I’ll be a little more regular in my witterings.

Twinsmummy is alive and well and living in the country!


The new tenants (part 2) July 30, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 9:42 pm
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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

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 6:45 pm
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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!


Finally… October 6, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 9:26 am
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It is official. We are no longer homeless.

Ok, so we were never actually homeless, but for the past few months, we have been in-between houses having sold our last home in the UK, but struggled to complete on the deal for the new place. For the first time in 13 years, we didn’t own our own home and it was a very unsettling feeling.

We’ve always maintained that wherever we are in the world, if we are all together, then that’s home. But the reality is, however much we enjoy our expat perks, we will forever be drawn back to the UK and when we talk about home, it’s not Dubai, but England that we refer to.

I don’t know how long we will stay here in the Middle East and when we will return to the UK, but there is a huge sense of relief that when we do decide to leave the sandpit, we know exactly where we are going back to. I know what our home looks like, where it is situated and which schools the children will attend.

If I’m honest, I’ve also mentally redesigned the kitchen and all the bathrooms, re-decorated every room and am now thinking of curtain options.

We’ve thoroughly tested our new ‘local’ in the village, I’ve checked that Waitrose do deliver to the new address (no, I won’t be shopping in Daylesford!) and we’ve decided where the cat flap needs installing so we can reclaim our lovely moggy Freddie, who has been fostered by my parents since the Arabian Adventure began.

If the last few weeks have taught me anything, it has been that I will NEVER again move house. The road to our dream Cotswold home has been long and painful. We have dealt with lies, greed, dishonesty and selfishness by the bucket load. We had a crooked estate agent and deceitful vendors. Throw into the mix that we’re about 3500 miles away, and you can appreciate that the entire experience was a little testing.

At one point last week, my other half was threatening to board a plane and insert large blunt objects into one chosen individual at our favourite estate agency, Knight Frank-ly Useless. He wasn’t especially complementary about the vendors either, but we were working on the basis that hospitalising them wouldn’t help us to secure the property. It was still incredibly tempting though.

When the call finally came through that legally there was no going back, I’m not sure that either of us fully grasped the situation. We had a bloody large drink each and sat with silly grins on our faces.

If the truth be told, I’m still grinning.


Getting into the swing of things July 12, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — twinsmummy @ 10:47 pm
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So we’re back in England. And it is green. And it is pleasant. And frankly, it’s a really rather lovely contrast from the heat and dust of Dubai. We have been blessed with an entire weekend of good weather; which for England, is a fabulous result.

We have sat in the garden at my parents house, listening to the cows on the common, watching the trees quiver slightly in the breeze, and enjoyed the wonderful sight of all three children, playing outside in the fresh air. It’s brilliant stuff you know; fresh air. It’s like nature’s equivalent of a very large brandy – it completely knocks you for six. By bedtime, everyone is exhausted, and I count myself among them.

Now the really exciting bit about being back, is being able to indulge in all the quaint goings on that if we lived here, we’d surely never get round to doing. Like going to village festivals.

My parents had sung the praises of the Amberley Festival. I don’t actually remember what it is in aid of, but I’m sure leaky church roofs and a new bicycle for Miss Marple came into it somewhere. This is the Cotswolds remember. It is chocolate box picture postcard perfection.

We studied the programme of events to see which might be child-proof. There was a photography exhibition, a flower festival and a walk around some of the residents’ gardens. So far, nothing that would really appeal to a 5-year-old Star Wars aficionado.

And then we spotted it. The hog roast.

And it was to be accompanied by a stall selling Pimms and local real ale. It was getting better all the time.

We tucked the girls up in bed and left them in the capable hands of the grandparents before setting off across the common with the 5-year-old in search of hog.

The event was held on the green outside the village school, and we were impressed to see a rather large turn out of people all hungry for hog. However, we soon discovered that the pork was merely a support act. The main event?

Morris dancers.

My son was enthralled. 10 women dressed in white with red and green stripes, with bells around their ankles, and some frankly ridiculous bloomers. Before each dance, there was an explanation of what the dance was about. We had adders on the common, Joy’s Jig and the faintly ridiculous Napoleon sails around the Cotswolds. This prompted many questions which I have to say, I failed to answer with any great authority.

We ate pork rolls with stuffing and apple sauce until we were fit to burst. We drank Pimms in the sunshine and sat on the grass. It was idyllic.

I know moments like this are rare. I know that living in England isn’t all sunshine and Morris dancers; but for a family that lives in a Muslim country where 99% of the surface area is covered in sand; the combination of pork, booze and grass felt like a real winner to us.