Twenty Three Minutes At Carisbrooke Castle

All bloggers out there will know how hard it is to write a post after you’ve slacked it for a very long time.

After all, so much has happened.

Where do you start? And what is actually relevant? How do you slip in?

Elbowing your way back into a cobwebby blog is as awkward as entering a music festival three days late, cold sober, whilst everyone else has partied themselves into insane dribblers. Writing a re-entry post takes as much umph as throwing open your best friend’s front door at 10pm, shouting “tah-dahhhh!” and discovering that they are having civilised family time with their mother-in-law but not caring as you are wearing a gnome hat. And gnome hats have pure power. So.

Entrances – and particularly re-entrances – require vibrancy, energy, presence and gorgeousness. Like these flowers that splashed onto my camera whilst I walking in my native Sao Lorenz last week …

The House of Bethan

They aren’t exactly shrinking violets or wall flowers are they?

So with this re-entry colour in mind, I wanted to tell you this …

The 16th of August was a hot, sunny day.

Ads, myself, Pix and Roo were in the car heading to Naughty N and Spouser’s to make pizzas and cook them in the new outside oven that Spouser had built now that the Fort was finished. But instead of taking the usual route, we headed up a road, crossed the round about and crawled up a tiny, leafy lane that leads to Carisbrooke Castle. Here we pulled up in a layby, overlooking the meadows, the  great stone ruins behind us.

Ads turned off the ignition.

I took a deep breath and twisted around.

“So, guys, we’ve got something to tell you.”

Pix and Roo, who are not the most observant children in the world, blinked at me. I don’t think they’d noticed we’d stopped. Or that we had stopped at a castle. Or that we weren’t at Naughty N’s but somewhere quite different.

“Yes?” they said sleepily.

“We’ve got some news,” I repeated. Took another deep breath, glanced at Ads, then back to the kids. Okay. One, two, three …

“We Are Having A Baby.”

Pix gasped. Pressed a hand over her mouth. “You’re lying! You’re winding me up! You’re not!” she cried and laughed. After her initial disbelief and accusation that I was having her on (she’s never believed anything since a story I told her about a sailor who went out to sea for years and ate the eggs of his pet dog Rufus, who was half dog and half seagull) she burst into tears of joy and declared, “I’ve never been so happy! I’m So Happy!!”

Roo on the other hand, stared at me from beneath his eyebrows.

“Roo?” I said tentatively. “What do you think?”

“This means you did that thing,” he growled.

“What thing?” I frowned. His look was quite unnerving. (I later found out that this is the look Anakin Skywalker pulls when he turns bad and that Roo had been perfecting it in his room for quite some time).

“You know – that thing you told me about?” he said accusingly.

Oh ….

Yeeaaah …

That thing.

A few weeks before the boy had sloped into my room and asked me how babies were made. It was as if he was actually picking up on my pregnancy (made stranger by the fact he’d also prodded me in the stomach and said, your tummy looks pregnant. Which it bloody didn’t. It was just my top!)

I’d explained, casually and clearly about sex and how the whole thing unfolded. In response, Roo had shrugged, nodded and wandered back off to play space ships in the garden. That was that. Simple.

“Well?” he asked.

“Er, yes,” I said trying to sound assertive and calm but my voice coming out all choked and squeaky. “Yes we did the thing.”

I glanced at Ads.

Ads glanced at me.

Pix shuffled on her seat.

A couple of tourists walked past the car, pointing up at the castle.

Roo, still pinning me to the seat with his death look, fired the next arrow … “SO! Was I in the house?”

I let out a nervous laugh. Air brushed a hand to one side, “No no no no. Course not. You were … er … you were at Dad’s.”

“Which means you did it on a Saturday?”

“Yes. Yep. Definitely a Saturday.” Nodded. Mouth dry. Being interrogated about your sex life by your eight year old is not a comfortable experience. Not comfortable at all. Would not wish it on anyone. Had not felt that interrogated since I was fourteen and quizzed by a police man who thought I should have been at school and not sitting in the park nursing my new tattoo.

“This is quite uncomfortable,” coughed Pix. She was blushing bright red.

“Tell me about it.” I cleared my throat. Looked at Roo, who was finally unscrewing his face and letting the news seep into his eyes, his ears, his cheeks and the gums of his little milk teeth. Reached a hand into the back and squeezed his knee.  “Roo, you will still be king and prince of the world and have your throne and your loft conversion and everything, I promise.”

Talk about bribery.

Eventually he nodded.

What followed was a sweet, lovely, tense passage of time with four/five people sitting in a car next to a castle. It was a bridge from one part of life, into the threshold of another; beautiful and tense and painful and tender. There was talk and shock and gasping plans and jokes about names and who our new little soul would look like. There was adding up of age gaps and ideas about bedroom space and laughter about changing nappies. Eventually, after twenty three minutes had passed, Ads started the ignition and began driving slowly down the narrow little lane.

Our car was filled with a strange bubble of presence as we drove. It tingled, alive, electrical.

On arrival at Naughty N’s we announced the news that we’d told the kids (NN and Spouser had known for a while) and congratulations and celebrations fizzed and sparkled through the air. Prince J gave Pix the thumbs up and nodded ( he is the oldest of Naughty N’s and has three younger siblings so is old hat at this pregnancy malarkey). Princess F got highly excited, climbed on the counter and declared the whole thing dreadfully unfair as she was in desperate need of a sister (she is Naughty N’s only girl). One of the others began singing loudly, “Bethan and Ads have had sex – erghhh!” which made my toes curl again. It’s not a natural thing to have your love life publicised quite so irreverently. Then we  made pizza Ads and Spouser made pizza and we cooked it in the new pizza oven.

We ended up leaving Naughty N’s far too late considering that we were setting off for Scotland the next morning and hadn’t packed our bags. But we didn’t really care. After all, when you’ve made a baby, you can do goddamn anything.


18 thoughts on “Twenty Three Minutes At Carisbrooke Castle

    • Haha, thanks Gallivanta. I can’t really confirm it was that Saturday, but for Roo’s sake we’ll say it was. PS. Massive apology to make. We went to Scotland and Carlisle is in mainland ENGLAND!!!!!!!!!! I blushed for several hours over that dreadful mistake. xxx

      • NOOOOO Gallivanta!!!!! I took my shoes to a cobbler on the road off Newport Highstreet for the first time EVER yesterday!! I am going to pick them back up again today. Do you know if it your relative had the same Joliff surname as the others? xxx

      • His name was James Leigh and he was originally called a cordwainer, meaning a maker of fine shoes. In the 1841 Census he was living in High Street. His wife, Elizabeth was the Joliff. So amazing that your shoes are being repaired in Newport.

      • Hello Gallivanta … So, I went into the shoe shop. Spoke to the LADY who has owned and booted-it-up in the shop for the last 30 years. Her name was Ruth. I told her you and asked about whether the shop had been in her family. Told her about James and Elizabeth. She said no and that the business she owned 30 belonged to a woman called Isla who, when Ruth was a child, she saw engraving and thought “I want to do THAT!” She then did an apprenticeship with Isla and has been a cobbler ever since. She did by chance also happen to be a history enthusiast and told me a about a man I should contact who knows about the entire history of Newport. I have his number and shall give him a bell later this morning (it is currently 02.49 here and for the five week in a row I can not sleep between 1.15-4.30ish in the morn so I have rebelled against sleeplessness and am up). She said that this guy often comes by and showed her all sorts of amazing photographs of her shoe shop when it was the 1800s. Apparently back then it was a cake and chocolate shop. I then left and said that we (you and me) were happy to have met her and she asked to be kept updated … So thanks Gallivanta, I have now made a new friend called Ruth who is a cobbler. She only charged me £3.00 to fix my and Pix’s boots as well! xxx

      • Aren’t I just the lucky one that you can’t sleep and can tell me all these wonderful details? !!!! I am wondering if you have an email that I can contact? I could send you the information I have on James Leigh (frantically trying to remember if I wrote it down ????? but I think I did). Ruth sounds a lovely person; not many who are interested in the fine art of being a cobbler.

      • Okay, I have sent the info to your hotmail. Yes, Facebook or email would be great if he would like that. Thank you; just look where a pair of shoes will take one!!!!

  1. Oh honey!!! Congratulations! It was obviously meant to be and I am so happy for you! It IS a shame though to hear this news via the blog, but as I am trying to compose an email for you for the last 6 weeks and haven’t got round to do it, I won’t complain… 😉
    Lots of kisseeeeees to you and extended family!

    • Thank you beautiful Janin and yes, totally meant to be and perfect timing. I KNOOOOOOOWWWWWW I am bad for not emailing you to tell you myself. I received your lovely photographs and wanted to send you a proper card, gift and letter telling you. Then Ads announced it on Facebook in a moment of wild pride and then I thought everyone knew …. Things have been wildly busy and quite dramatic in shifts, which I WILL email you about. Love to you and your gorgeous little man xxx

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