The English Mother

Moments in an English Mother's Life

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‘ Old Fashioned Values In A New Techno World’

This is a picture of me and three of my children with one of our au- pairs in 2012. We have had many. Last week we collected a new au-pair from Kings Cross station. She is 18 and from France.
She is young like my children, which means she is technological. Because young people are. Previously, when the au- pair arrived, we would fish out an old phone from the drawer in my desk, go to Tescos for a pay- as you go sim card so that we could contact her if we needed to.
This new au- pair has her own phone, of course. It is a glossy, shiny, thin computer screen which takes you anywhere with one feathery touch.
Now my children have an older sister in the house with a fancy phone, laptop and nimble fingers. I need not worry that she is bored up in her room like I did with previous girls. Her phone and laptop supply endless entertainment.
The children love her phone which gave them an immediate appreciation of her, they say I should get the same one. This digital stuff is here to stay and the next generation would find a world without it isolated and slow.
While I’ll keep learning and adapting and appreciating a technological way of living I want to encourage some more old fashioned stuff to remain.
I wrote a piece in this autumn’s issue of ‘ The Mother Magazine” talking about this, it is titled; ” Old Fashioned Values In A New Techno World.”


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A Special Summer Holiday

Eighteen days after having a baby you can get on a plane a fly.. and that is what we did. Away to the Mediterranean we went.. to its gentle, soft waters and easy, warm weather.
We floated and basked and enjoyed each other’s company as we introduced ourselves to our new baby boy. We called him ‘ Blaise.’ We were so happy to be in the sun with lots of books, the sea, the sand and each other.


A New Arrival

This is me with my daughter Maud behind me and my son Hector beside me. We are on Cley beach in Norfolk, it is Summer 2009 and I am a couple of weeks away from the arrival of my third child- Nancy.
Now I am expecting another child..
This Summer, six Summers since Nancy arrived we will have another baby.
Hector, Maud, Nancy, Dominic and I are all so excited.
We feel as lucky as can be.

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Christmas Traditions

Should you have a knitting friend or relative, these hanging socks are lots of fun for the kids at Christmas. Instead of an advent calendar, each little sock is labelled with a number representing a day in the countdown to Christmas.
Years ago, when I only had two of my children, the Granny of our au-pair sent two of these chains of socks to us all the way from Germany. We have used them every year since. The eldest has now relinquished his so the youngest can have a go.
I did try one year to tie together some odd socks to make a third chain but it didn’t look as good.
I fill each little sock with a small present and hang them on the 1st of December. The present must be small and hopefully not utterly useless. A little nail brush, a rubber and a key ring are good as well as at least one tangerine and a piece of coal- no not coal, that would be too messy.. But it should not be extravagant because, like lots of things over Christmas, it is the anticipation that is exciting.



This weekend our street was closed. No traffic came down the road between 2 and 4. At first a little tentatively and despite the rain, children played in a way unknown to them in their young lives.
‘Playstreets ‘ were common in the 1930s with roads being shut off from cars so children could play without fear of accident. As cars increased ‘playstreets’ dwindled and disappeared by the 1980s. It has been a concern over obesity and children’s obsessions over screens that has renewed an interest in recreating this outdoor activity.
It was unusual to see so many neighbours, some of whom had lived for so long in the street and yet had never to spoken to each other. It was a cheeringly positive afternoon and the parents here and in other parts of the country making ‘play streets’ happen are doing a very good thing.
I hope it is not too late for my twelve year old son who on several occasions made an excuse to return to the house. To my dismay I realised he had been checking some stupid thing he was doing on the i-pad. Oh for the by- gone days when playing and socialising where all physical and not virtual.
Next time my son won’t be going indoors for an instant and maybe I might of stepped on the i-pad between now and then!

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‘Girls Can Play Football Too, Silly!’

This is my youngest child- a girl called Nancy Mary Barker Rutherford. Nancy’s father Dominic supports Arsenal football team like his Dad. When Dominic’s little girl was born his ideas of setting her allegiances straight with a newborn Arsenal kit dissipated. Over the five years of Nancy’s life I have occasionally challenged Dominic over this. Would the importance of this family tradition have been so relegated had Nancy been Arthur Gordon Barker Rutherford instead? Sometimes I have threatened to buy Nancy another team’s kit that I like, like Newcastle for example. This tactic has worked the best in encouraging Dominic to pass on his enthusiasm about football to his daughter. I do not really care about football but I do care about giving girls the same options as boys and jump on any opportunity to say so!
But forget my ramblings, nothing like a daughter to set straight any perceptions of inequality between the sexes her Daddy could ever have.
In the spirit of this, Nancy one day declared; ” I want to play football.” And the football discussion was no more ( it will not be difficult to find something else to illustrate the ongoing female battle!)
On Friday evening Father and daughter went off to Westfield, returning with a kit.
And this Saturday morning Nancy went off to play football. Nancy said she enjoyed it but Dominic didn’t. Watching Nancy from the sidelines, the only girl in the group, playing football amongst a bunch of ‘mad’, ‘ nutter’ boys distressed Dominic. He didn’t like it at all. He said; “Never again.” Will Nancy and I manage to persuade Dominic she will survive another game?