Louise and I met at the Pantygwydr baptist church playgroup where we had both taken our one year olds. I subsequently experienced lots of playgroups, but that one was very special. It was held in a light, modern building and had a large number of expensive looking new toys. Mothers stayed with their children, no free child minding service here, but the chairs were arranged so that you could sit and watch your child in relative comfort while chatting to your neighbour. Half way through the morning there was tea and cakes – home made, cheap and plentiful. The people who ran the play group were kind and friendly and the mothers who attended were a great bunch. I made some friends there that are still very important to me today.
Louise and I spotted each other as we were the only women in the room who had a one year old and a bump. We were both pregnant for our second child despite child number one being indecently small – guilty of what another Pantygwydr mum called ‘sexual incontinence’. I think we were both a little daunted at the idea of becoming parents again so soon, we had just about got the hang of one child and here, seventeen months later, there was another.
Louise ended up with two girls, I had two boys. The children were in the same classes at nursery and primary school, and attended the same secondary school. We saw each other every day at pick up and drop off time, and as the years went by, we witnessed and indeed supported each other through the horrors of child rearing, losing parents, moving house, child care, birthday parties, illness, homework, exam results and the innumerable dramas that at the time spelt potential disaster and yet which are now so insignificant that I can hardly remember them.
Monday 19 January 2015
360 Cafe, Swansea Bay
360 is a new building on the sea front about half way around Swansea bay. Its location means it can hardly fail to be brilliant but the staff and consequently the atmosphere are great and so enhance that lovely view enormously. The food is, unfortunately, centred on something that I really don’t like – burgers. They have a wide variety and although they look a lot better than most, they still don’t do it for me. They also sell olives and humus with pita bread, so no problem finding something to eat.
We have always kept in touch so apart from catching up on what we, our kids and our mutual friends have been up to recently, there was no need for much of the ‘whatever happened to …’ type of conversation. As always, the conversation was punctuated with laughter, an amused chuckle seems to be Louise’s natural state. We talked about everything – the environment, our health, football, hockey, the kids of course, we even managed to remember to mention our respective husbands, no easy task as we have both been married since the flood and tend to see the other halves as more of an extension to ourselves rather than a separate and therefore newsworthy entity.
We talked a lot about gardens – Louise has a large and very productive vegetable and fruit garden. She grows pretty much everything her family needs and has recently acquired three hens which will hopefully be filling another nutritional need soon when they are mature enough to start laying. It must take an enormous amount of work to get her garden looking like it does. I remember when she and her husband bought their house. The garden had been neglected but the real nightmare was a large and completely out of control piece of sloping woodland which led down onto a bog. It looked impossible to me, I just couldn’t see what could be done with it. Ten years later, and that woodland is a beautiful oasis, full of wild life and with a fire pit, a pond and a tree mansion (like a house but bigger and better).
Louise is always full of good advice, cuttings, seedlings and produce. She and a mutual friend of ours who is also a keen gardener, take great pleasure in watching me try to deal with (to me) the impossibly complex and difficult world of horticulture. They are always helpful inspite of their amusement, for example they told me I would have to dig deep to get rid of the roots of a troublesome and invasive plant and then were helpless with laughter when I dug up the broadband.