Is anyone else drowning in freaking start of term admin? I’m not sure what is worse, the cavernous boredom and ennui of the summer holidays or the two-places-at-once mind-bend of term-time. And also can I just say, I hate school holidays, all of them. Officially.
My children are too old to be taken to a playground or to a museum and they’re too young to arrange to hang out at their friends’ houses (and anyway, all those lockdowns also seem to have killed their interest in playdates). My children don’t actually seem to want to be on a holiday. At least not with us, or each other. Or maybe with us, but not each other and certainly not doing the same thing. I don’t know what to do about it. I need to get us all a shared activity, stat. But what? Sailing? Come on, that’s the kind of thing that really looks like it will lose you a finger. Listen: is there such a thing as a posh Center Parcs? Or is just normal Center Parcs okay and I’m being a snob. Tell me.
Anyway what I suppose I’m trying to say is that I haven’t got much for you. I can’t find anything I want to read – I’m 90% likely to abandon the new Paula Hawkins book, A Slow Fire Burning, because although I have nothing but huge respect for Paula Hawkins, pretty much every character in this book has a dead spouse/child/dog/sibling in their backstory and as this is fiction and you’re just making it all up anyway, can’t you think of more interesting trauma than that? Sorry, I don’t mean that as a diss. It’s actually very readable and this is me usually not being able to stand genre fiction.
What else? If you are into solid shampoo, I was sent a load of samples by the company Foamie, which are very good. They come with a little cotton tag on them to remind you what is soap and what is shampoo, and you can buy a travelling box for them with a removable drip-tray inside to stop the soap from sticking like superglue to the inside. Check them out here, or purchase from Amazon, if you’re still doing that. (I am, no judgment here.)
I was also sent a lot of product by Honest Beauty, which is the cosmetics company started by the actress Jessica Alba. I wasn’t madly impressed by any of it – the lipglosses are too scented and you can really feel them there and at my age and situation my actual skincare needs to be hospital-grade and costs a grand a year, it’s not for fun. BUT I do very very much like the Magic Beauty Balm stick, which acts as a highlighter and also a very good lip balm/gloss thing, available at Cult Beauty. I’m also a bit suspicious of anything that describes itself as “honest”, like “Honest John’s used cars” or whatever, but Jessica Alba is American and so probably doesn’t understand that kind of cynicism. Or understands it and chooses to ignore it.
Last of all, Miller Harris really kindly sent me a sample of their new fragrance Oud Eclat, which is fucking out of this world. Sort of woody and sugary and leathery and very exciting. Hannah Betts once described Lucia Van Der Post describing a scent as rectal and, yes, yes, we all had a good laugh about how disgusting that sounds but… do you know what I mean? Sit with it for a moment. This is quite rectal. Keen readers will know that I am already a big fan of the Miller Harris Lumière Dorée scent. Oud Eclat doesn’t seem to be available online yet but keep an eye out for it, or if you’re in town and are passing a Miller Harris concession, have a spritz and see what you think. OUD ECLAT it’s called. Write it down.
Diana Jerman says
God who knows what entertains different children? Mine have been kept occupied this summer with swearing, fighting and pyromania.
Was the HB’s article this one? https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2008/dec/06/perfume-ingredients
So interesting. Reminds me of a vivid memory I have of watching ‘Boomerang’ years ago with the Grace Jones character removing her knickers for the creation of an ‘essence of sex’ scent…leaves an impression!
In fact I was desk assistant at the Times mag when Hannah was the beauty columnist and that’s how I heard this. Trying to talk about scent is very strange, and what other people like baffles me, eg Angel by Thierry Mugler or Portofino by Tom Ford, both yuk
My kids have quite enjoyed those high ropes places. Other successes have been bike rides and crazy golf. Tubing at a dry ski slope. They loved Center Parcs when we went a couple of years ago and it felt expensive to so much as glance at a duck there. I’ve been reading Gwendoline Riley, the trauma occurs mainly in having to interact with your mum or dad or husband in the present as well as the past. I’m enjoying them. And I’m going to pretend you meant to type “spectral”, just for my own peace of mind you understand.
Gwendoline Riley… I will look it up thanks Cindy you always have good recommendations. I have some very dear friends whose book recommendations are just so, so awful and I sometimes I look at them and don’t understand how we can be friends and like such different things
I was just about to email you when this handy post popped up. Please please please can you update your capsule wardrobes post or tell us wtf were meant to be wearing at the moment?? Just coming out of a FOUR YEAR slog of being pregnant or post baby and need new clothes but no idea who i am or what to wear. Also my eldest has just started school and having to look presentable every morning at 8am is terrifying. Thank you very very much.
Thanks Mills I will do this. I have been so lazy recently but I will get back on it x
Wait we have to look presentable on the school run?? (It’s our first year too.)
I mean, you really don’t
I mean obviously you can wear what you like but being a bit…squishy…at the moment post baby, it’s just demoralising looking like shit on the rare occasions I leave the house. Even if those are at 8am and involve 4 year olds.
That said, I have also been totally scarred by the book ‘Mother of All Jobs’ which heavily emphasises the importance of having mum friends at school and being pretty involved in the school from the oft. I feel this pressure to make friends like it’s my first day of Freshers but this time my CHILD’s social happiness depends on it. Anyway. Very grateful for any thoughts on this matter too…
Mills this is a brilliant and very interesting question
Peabody bites says
Famously, the friends you make in Freshers Week are the ones you spend the rest of university avoiding…. I have definitely taken a “hands off” approach to making friends at the school gates so far and my daughter (7) seems to be broadly OK.
I put mine in one of those week long activity camp places. I’d been reluctant previously, but I found one near us that isn’t all sports sports sports (eldest not much interested) and was well organised. they both loved it, made friends their own age etc. Will be doing that again
I’d be happy if the holidays were much shorter!
Books. Hmmm. I’ve pretty much given up on fiction, either novels or on screen. Either too emotionally heavy or too clunky. I quite enjoyed such a fun age (thanks for the recommend), until the ending.
What? I’ve never been but I was on the impression that Center Parcs was really posh. They do archery and horse-riding FFS. Lol. Are you not thinking of Butlins?
Maybe it’s not the high class establishment I thought it was, maybe I’m working class (dad’s a teacher, mum’s a nurse).
Peabody bites says
Now that the summer is finally over (and my accidental third baby is doing a bit more sleeping) I am doing some reading.
Just finished and loved Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell. Didn’t really enjoy The Other Black Girl – it’s an OK premise but she really rushed the denouement and it felt like she hadn’t thought it through properly. The Mothers by Brit Bennett – really enjoyed it and it was better than the better known The Vanishing Half I thought. Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan is absolutely excellent on the underbelly of NY in the 2WW and the impact of absent fathers. And I quite enjoyed This Must be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell but nothing like as good as Hamnet.
My god Peabody, slow down! You’re making the rest of us look bad xx
I love Cindy’s comment about ‘spectral.’ Mills, my son is now 15, may daughter 10 and honestly DO NOT GIVE A FLYING FECK about making mates at the school gate. It either happens or it doesn’t. I was ridiculously insecure with child 1 and remember some awful woman telling me I should have invited the whole class to his 4th birthday party. I fretted for weeks. Row your own boat and magnetically you will attract the right gang – IF they exist. I didn’t make mates until child 2. Also anyone who tries hard to look ave at the school gate – who is it for? You? Or to show ‘I’ve got this.’ (God I hate that phrase). By getting a child to school on time you clearly are doing brilliantly.
Esther, those summer weeks can break us all. Ski slope, movies and school summer camp saw us through. Also, I have a secret summer spot in Ireland that is HEAVEN. Rathmullan House – look it up. Beach, indoor pool, cream teas, walks, kids running feral and ordering sundaes on the room while adults eat leisurely lunch followed by rounders. Also yes please for what to wear now blog post. That said, I’ll inevitably be in sweatshirts jeans and a comfy clog all winter x
Crummy M you always offer excellent succour, thank you
Crieff Hydro is the place you need. Stay in the big culcrieff lodges.
I grew up in Crieff and so probably v biased, but I second this suggestion.
As well as all the organised activities, there are loads of great walks in the area and just good space for mooching about.
Plus, macaroni pies from Campbell’s!
You try being a class rep at the school your son goes to. That is full on…
Thank you for the heads up on Instagram this morning (15.09.21) about patchy Spike email alerts – I hadn’t seen any of your new posts and was feeling sad because I was missing them! Glad to hear and see that you are still writing On The Spike!
it’s a nightmarish internal website problem that I haven’t a hope of solving on my own so I have appealed to the architects for help!!