Tag Archives: imagination

meet the family

Is it night time where you are? If so, look out of your window now… look up… see that glowing orb in the sky? That’s me that is.

… Well through my toddler’s eyes anyway. And ok it’s not the ACTUAL moon he mistakes for me it’s a particular picture of a rosy-cheeked crescent moon in one of his favourite books, but still, it’s not a bad thing to be compared to.

I am married to a snake though. In fact, according to my toddler we have rather an odd family set-up. In all the books we read to him, snakes are enthusiastically called “daddy snake!” and frogs are invariably named after his five-year-old brother. Meanwhile there’s a cat in ‘Slinky Malinki’ books (by Lynley Dodd) that he’s convinced is his seven-year-old brother. Then I’m the moon of course.

To give you a clearer idea, I’ve done a family portrait:

our animal family

Our family, in all our glory…

The funny thing is, I can see what he means. Of course he knows the animals (and celestial object) aren’t really us but he’s managed to pick up on something about each of us and see it in the pictures – the 5yo’s cheeky face, the 7yo’s slim physique, my rosy cheeks (and pointed nose) and his dad’s *whispers* increasingly hairless head…

If you’re wondering about the bee, I drew it to represent the toddler because it didn’t seem right to have a family picture without him in it. His brothers and I decided a smiley bee suited him – he’s little (both the youngest family member and small for his age) and gets on with things, just like bees do.

I’d better go, night is falling and there’s somewhere I should be…

Little Hearts, Big Love

the tale of the missing finger

“Did I ever tell you the story of how I lost my finger?”

As a child, these words from my grandfather would always make me prick up my ears. He hadn’t lost a whole finger, just the top section of one of them, but it was enough to add an air of mystery to him, and I – and  his other grandchildren – would listen with rapt attention to the tales he told.

My grandparents walking in the alps.

My grandparents walking in the alps – is some sort of finger-chopping drama about to unfold?

Because there wasn’t just one tale, there were many; each one with its own exciting highs and (finger) crushing lows. There was the one where, walking in the alps, he had saved a cable car of people from plunging to their doom by putting his finger into the mechanism, bringing it to a halt moments before it plunged its terrified occupants off a cliff. Another version involved him stopping a dam from bursting (which would have drowned a village full of children) by putting his finger in it, and having it bitten off by a passing shark. Other stories had him stopping a runaway train, encountering a toothy ghost in a haunted house, and inventing a new flavour of ice cream when his finger got caught in the mechanism of one that only produced vanilla (eurgh!)

Of course, we kids knew that not all of these stories could be true. In fact we guessed – even then – that none of them were and that the perils and heroics were purely for our benefit. But that didn’t matter and took nothing from the thrill of his stories, especially with a real missing bit of finger as a prop!

My grandfather’s tales are one of my favourite childhood memories, so when we visited my grandparents last weekend it was with genuine pleasure that I watched him (aged ninety-one) tell my boys ‘the tale of how I lost my finger’.  The sight of their awed expressions and hearing their excited giggles and gasps took me right back to my own childhood and I felt very lucky to be able to share in this moment between a great-grandfather and his great-grandsons.

I love stories in all their forms but there’s something about this passing of tales face-to-face between generations of family members that feels like storytelling at its purest. I hope that by sharing these stories with my sons we can continue this family tradition down the generations for many, many years to come.

And as for how my grandfather really lost his finger? I honestly have no idea… and that’s exactly how I like it.

uh oh grasshopper…

After yesterday’s more serious blog post, I felt the urge to write something silly today.

I’ve written before about Grasshopper, my four-year-old son’s imaginary friend. He’s an insect of indeterminate size and gender who regularly gets him/herself into scrapes and gets the blame for most things that go awry in this house. Poor Grasshopper is considered particularly ‘guilty’ of any accidents in the toilet department, which is what inspired me to write this limerick. Please turn away now if you’re eating breakfast (or are from the Department of Imaginary Animal Protection):


There once was a foolish grasshopper

Who wouldn’t let anyone stop her

From ascending the loo

While my son was mid-poo

And becoming submerged in a whopper


I recited that to my sons after breakfast this morning and they immediately wanted me to make up another. My six-year-old requested that it be about a lion. The final rhyme is his idea.


There once was a wrinkly lion

Who felt that he needed an iron

But the iron was hot

And it roasted his bot

So he ended up smoother, but cryin’


Hmmm – kind of obvious it was written with the assistance of small boys, I think!

And finally, as it’s Christmas, here’s a festive limerick for the road:


A beautiful, gold decoration

Was all laden with bells at the station

As the trains chugged along

The bells chimed a song

Sending peace and goodwill to the nation.


Happy Christmas everyone!


Prose for Thought


hoar frost

If it were possible to fall in love with a morning,

then I would choose this morning

and we would run away together and have beautiful frost children

that twinkled wherever they roamed.

This week’s theme for The Gallery at Sticky Fingers is “Nature”.  This is a photo I took last winter on a morning when I really did feel in love with the world. There was blue sky, sunshine and a hoar frost that coated, not just every tree, but every twig of every branch of every tree (and everything else besides) in a beautiful, sparkly coating. I was awestruck and wandered around in a bit of a daze. Nature can be utterly beguiling.

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

imaginary friend

There is an interloper in our house. He’s small and green and called Hayley. Or he’s ‘absolutely massive’ and called Steve. He mostly lives in a hole in the garden although he sometimes resides at the local arts centre. He gets up to all sorts of mischief. He’s a grasshopper and he’s my four-year-old son’s imaginary friend.

This grasshopper is the go-to guy for any situation. Run out of milk? “It’s OK mummy, my grasshopper can go to the shops.” Can’t reach something on a shelf? “My grasshopper can jump really high and get that!” Too tired to drive the kids to school? Leave it up to grasshopper! OK, maybe not.

Grasshopper is also the fall guy in our house. My son assures me that he’s the one who makes a mess in the living room or leaves a trail of muddy footprints across the carpet. And where toileting matters are concerned he hasn’t got very good aim. Yuck. Bad grasshopper.

I’m getting quite fond of him though. He reminds me that an imagination can be helpful in all sorts of situations. OK, the invisible milk that he gets from the shop doesn’t taste quite so good in my tea as the real stuff, but when it’s poured from a jug balanced on a spiky insect limb, it’s surely an ingredient no dairy product can beat! And wiping wee off the bathroom floor might be as unpleasant as ever, but at least I can have a laugh imagining a long-legged, bouncy insect trying to use the loo.

And grasshopper gives me something to live up to. He’s an example of how wonderfully creative children are and – from the point of view of a writer – that’s kind of like throwing down a gauntlet.

So, where do I get my inspiration? What’s my muse? A great big, small, green imaginary jumping insect called Hayley. Or Steve.