Sunday, 31 August 2008


I wonder how many people can say they’ve spent the morning walking round the Budapest Aquarium with a bottle of wee in their handbag? Well, from today you can count me as one. I also wonder who builds an attraction full of fish tanks, ponds, waterfalls and fountains and doesn’t provide at least one toilet? Clearly someone with impressive bladder control, like my Poppet who can hold on all day long if needs be. But when Pickle’s gotta go, he’s gotta go. Since we were only halfway round the exhibits and I didn’t want to miss out on the chance to tickle a ray fish in the ’petting pool’ I had to resort to desperate measures and find a quiet corner where we could convert a hastily emptied Evian bottle into a potty. Of course in order to empty the bottle I had to drink the water as I didn’t think I should chuck it in with the terrapins. So whilst Pickle was nice and comfortable watching the simulated rain forest downpour in the alligator enclosure once the crisis was averted, I was distinctly distracted trying to avoid one of my own. Ah, the joys.

Anyway, isn’t it great? here I am back on line! It’s been a long time and I am now broadcasting from a different house in a different country. Yes, 300 boxes, one 2-hour flight and one medical crisis later and we are all settled in to Budapest in Hungary. We still don’t have broadband and sadly Nobby is now out of range for BBC1 (Match Of The Day) but hey, we have had blue skies and hot sunshine almost every day for the past month! I must say the transition has been surprisingly easier than moving to France, even though the local language is totally indecipherable. We are managing with sign language and a Berlitz phrase book at the moment until we start lessons but the locals are very friendly and are quite happy to have a go at helping us.

Apart from the relocation agents of course, they have been mysteriously absent since we got the keys to the house. Clearly estate agents are the same the world over. Luckily the landlord is a great chap and has taken care of most questions we have. The agents did pop up again to help us open a bank account, and they kindly directed us to the English speaking hospital when Poppet fell down the basement steps and broke her arm about 3 hours after getting into the house but that's about all. Ah yes, what is that child like? I had been far more concerned that Pickle was going to fall out of the willow tree he had taken up residence in since falling in love with it in the new garden, but she sure showed me where I should have been looking. Thankfully this was a simple fracture, and the left arm too, so she is already out of plaster but I do hope this isn't going to become an annual summer holiday event. It's not even a whole year since the 'how to break your leg on a bouncy castle' incident.

I am pleased to report that the dog has also recovered from her, ahem, ’condition’. About a week before we packed up the old house and in the middle of all the stress of having the phone line cut off too early, the agent giving me a list of things to put right in the house for the inventory and trying to keep the children busy enough not to wreck all my pre-packing tidying, I started finding little puddles on the floor around the house. Considering my son’s love of experimenting and inventing I can be forgiven for assuming at first that it was one of his projects and chastising him accordingly. Until I noticed that Tiggy was looking a bit damp round the derriere whenever the puddles appeared.. oh yeah, just what a needed, an incontinent dog. So off to the vet we went hoping it was just an infection. He did extensive tests, which included sampling her wee – I can tell you, sorting Pickle out in a corner of the Aquarium was nothing compared to trailing my dog down the road with a metal tray and trying to thrust it under her when she started to tiddle – but there was no obvious cause. So all I got was a course of antibiotics, just in case, and a regular appointment with my mop and bucket. Oh, and the humiliation of telling the Dog Transporters who were taking her for a week during the move that their new charge was now going to be wetting the bed every night and leaving presents for them all round their facility. But, you know, within a few days of arriving at the new house all the puddles stopped and she’s been right as rain. So the only conclusion we can come to is that out of all the homeless mutts in that kennels where I found her, I picked the extra sensitive telepathic one who sensed that something was up in the house and reacted as only she knew how. Oh well, all is forgiven now and our new neighbourhood is crammed full of dogs so she is well at home. The Twilight Barking in Paris is just a squeak compared to the racket around here when someone dares to walk down the street - you can actually track peoples’ progress down the lanes with the trail of barking that follows them.

But at least someone’s been making friends. We humans haven’t met many other expats yet as school is out and most people have been away for the summer. Being a little bit anal and sad I decided to do a leaflet drop in the neighbourhood to try and rustle up some company. Poppet thought it was an excellent idea and quickly took over organising the little cards we would drop in the mailboxes and ushering Pickle and me out on evening walks to deliver them. We’ve had two responses so far, I am pleased to report. So at least I have somewhere to go for a cup of sugar if we ever need one. We spent yesterday evening with a lovely chap at the other end of our street. He was very complimentary about my children, who were on their very best behaviour having been suitably primed to give a good impression before we set off. He offered them some ice cream as a welcome, and a glass of coca cola each then told them they could explore the house while he and I chatted over a glass of wine. Hmm. I can hear you fellow mummies muttering 'uh-oh...' I knew it was time to go when the sugar rush hit them and Pickle started bouncing on the sofa singing 'Ebenezer Good' at the top of his voice and Poppet decided his dogs might want to come in the house and finish off her leftover ice cream. Eek! I am hoping we will be welcome there again, but maybe I should find a babysitter first.

Well hopefully I will be a more regular poster once school starts tomorrow. I will only be making 2 school runs a day from now on because they stay for lunch, hurray! But I guess that means I have to find something meaningful to do with myself all day, gulp. How did that one sneak up on me so quickly? One minute you're shovelling food and wiping a*se all day long, in between providing taxi services to playdates and picking up all the toys, and the next minute they're both in full time school five days a week and you're wondering why the house is so quiet. Oh dear. I think I need a lie down. Excuse me a bit.