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Last week I sang in a concert at the Royal Festival Hall with my choir. Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the wonderful Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Not to be missed, but the late nights for rehearsals in the run-up to it were punishing for someone who usually goes to bed near 9 in order to survive being awake any time from 4 am the next day. The chorus rehearses two nights a week, but this week the rehearsals were Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Friday was the concert. I felt like death warmed up on the day of the concert, but knew I would find a second wind. The piece is a quite a gruelling tour de force for the sopranos (as well as being stomach-achingly beautiful) but I was able to stay standing till the end and sing the last note without completely losing my voice, so I count my performance as a success.

Anyway, dragging my tired personage across Waterloo Bridge and thinking how this vista of London doesn’t inspire the same excitement in me as it did when I was wide-eyed and younger, I was presented with this-

On the wall of the Hayward Gallery was projected the question, ‘How are you sleeping these days?’ How apt. Another soprano in the choir who is a grandma was telling me how her son got in some sleep specialists to sort their terrible broken nights with their toddler. It cost 250 quid and it has worked. She sent me a copy of the ‘task form’ detailing all the things the parents had to do to get the boy sleeping through the night. BB isn’t as extreme a case as Stanley, but she’s still up way before the dawn. This is what we are going to try-

  • Set a small lamp up in his room, with a low wattage bulb, 10-12 watts. Make sure he can see it from his bed.
  • Connect the lamp to a timer switch and set it to 6.45am.
  • If he wakes and the lamp is on, go and get him up immediately – show Stanley the lamp and explain that he can now get up.
  • If the lamp has not come on, he must wait until it is on before you get him up

The problem may be that BB has no way of knowing when it’s morning. I have prepared our lamp and timer, only l set it for 6.00. No good aiming to high! BB has been unwell these last few weeks, but is much better now. Fighting fit, so battle must commence. Last night I had her out of the cot at 3.15. This is no good! One daunting thing is that tonight when playing before bed, she learned how to stand up in her cot. Lord help us.

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BB’s birthday will always come with the arrival of the first conker, leaves beginning to turn red and gold, that sudden change in atmosphere, crisp mornings and smoky air. I wanted her to have the heat and carefree fun of a summer birthday, but I kind of like it this way. Our back garden, otherwise known as Ravenscourt Park has new features.

Sweet chestnuts! The trees full to bursting tease you for a while. Then a feast falls down for the squirrels, me and Dad and some Chinese people with carrier bags. One day we got a particularly good harvest when scores of bright green rowdy parakeets (an every-day West London sight) were squabbling and bashing through the branches.

Score them in a cross with a knife, put them in the microwave for a few minutes, sprinkle a little salt. Yummy! Can’t wait to go sweet chestnut hunting with BB.

       

An empty adventure playground. The kids have gone back to school and left a brand new wooden adventure playground entirely for me and BB. She likes the big chunky roundabout and the extra wide slide.

       

Colours!

        

spot the ladybirds.