Sorry everyone. We are, in fact, still here. And we have been doing things in September and October, but I haven’t been writing blogs. The excuse that worked for the first half of the year, viz that Gavin and I seemed very rarely both to be at home, doesn’t work… until just recently. Gavin’s currently in Hawaii. Before that, I was in Aberdeen. It’s been a mild autumn throughout the UK, but I can’t say I exactly had the tropical-paradise experience. Nor did the boys, who were in a relatively warm and sunny Rugby for half-term.

What’s been going on? The football season has started and I’ve been learning lots about football. I have the Match of the Day theme tune on the brain more often than I care to think (and if YOU now have the MOTD theme tune on the brain, thanks to reading this, I apologise. Catchy tune, isn’t it? Did you hear the Chief Rabbi singing the grace-after-meals to that tune on the Radio 4 Sunday programme the other week? We had to play that back to the boys twice. But I digress). Well, when I think of it, MOTD makes about as much sense to me as In The Night Garden used to. I can recognise the characters, mostly, though I still get some of the less memorable ones mixed up. I know what their main personality traits are supposed to be. I can pick up the emotional tone, even when I can’t really follow the plot. I get the theme tune on the brain. On some basic level I fail to see the attraction. But I like it vicariously because it makes the boys happy.

Meanwhile, out of doors, a public service announcement. Himalayan balsam is, as we know, an evil invading plant, out to oppress our harmless native species (and, presumably, take their jobs and benefits). It has taken over large areas near us, and when the spring comes we shall play our full part in the Leeds City Council “Banish the Balsam” campaign; the boys are already looking forward to it. However, in the meantime and given that it’s too late to do any anti-balsam action this year – the explode-in-your-hand seed pods are really, really cool. We’re making the most of them before the balsam all gets banished next year. (I hope we’re not making the banishing job harder by exploding the seed pods. My excuse is that we’re exploding them forcibly before they are ready to explode. Hmmm).

Matthew has accompanied me on a couple of afternoons canvassing with the local Labour party. The one where nearly every door was opened by a half-asleep student in pyjamas was more fun, if dubiously more productive, than the one where most people were out. In other political news, considerable relief here in mid-September on learning that (for the moment) all our family still live in the same country.

The boys have been to their first meetings of Cubs and Beavers; it was a bowling trip, so no knot-tying involved. Peter has had some keyboard lessons at school and can just about play ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’ (officially) and the Star Wars theme and a bit of ‘Yellow Submarine’ (unofficially, because Matthew and I decided he should learn something a bit more interesting). They both still seem to like school, and like going to school. This is never something we take for granted. But it’s very, very useful…

I finished, and sent off, what I’ve been referring to as ‘the Quaker book’. I would say that this means I don’t have to bore the rest of the household with it any more, but I’m not taking that risk.

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