Pox and Eye and a Surprise

It’s a Monday and I have two kids at home with me. Otis has the pox and Casper has had an allergic reaction to either grass or an insect bite while he was camping overnight across the road. You can’t tell quite how it came to be; my kids have mixed up heads and their stories are generally either unreliable or total fabrications. But ouch, though.


That eye looks better now. Oh the japes we had this morning, telling him what he could tell the kids at school – hilariously of the “You should have seen the other guy” variety. Because I would have sent him to school, mostly due to the fact that I have a heart of stone. But luckily Mark knows the difference between a mild ailment and a potential infection of the eye/brain, so he went to the doctor with him and he now has a plethora of drugs. Poor kid.

Things don’t look bright for Turkey – every year we go away somewhere hot and Casper and Barnaby get some sort of heat rash or insect bite reaction which blows their faces/eyes up or causes them to tear their skin off in patches and we end up in an emergency ward with glistening raw limbs and adorable but uncomfortable chipmunk faces.  OH TO BE IN CHARGE OF OTHERS! What utter joy.

So, on Saturday, we had our second annual communal garden campout which is where the eye problem sprung forth. We (the esteemed organisers exhibiting marvellous event-management flair) had forgotten to tell any of our neighbours. So on Thursday night we all thought we just wouldn’t bother with the campout, and we wouldn’t mention it to the kids.  Because, as much as *we* (Mark) love camping, there’s something about bothering to put up your massive tent and finding all the stretchers and bringing all your things over the road for one night only, knowing that the kids will go mental all night and you won’t sleep and the neighbours will get cranky, and you might get eaten by the garden fox, only to then wake up at the first shaft of cruel sunlight searing through the fabric walls at about 4:30am and THEN you have to put the tent away.  And your actual bed is about 25 steps across the grass, tantalisingly near, all comfortable memory foam and enclosed by walls and a ceiling.

No competition, right? But word gets around amongst the youth, those smooth-skinned little stinkers, and soon my kids got very gobby about how much they wanted to sleep out in the garden for the second annual campout. They just knew. They must have smelt the truth.

So, we thought FINE THEN, you guys are pretty old now, so sleep without us, but the serious adults in the committee were very firm that there had to be an adult accompanying kids. SUCH A BORE.

Mark swiftly got in with a disclaimer, avowing he couldn’t stay out with them because of his sore back. Putting this into perspective, we have to add the sore back to his list of ever-growing ailments – shoulder, sinuses, potential skin cancers, mysterious no-pain migraines which render his vision a bit wobbly every now and then, sore hips and an arthritic thumb. Personally, I thought playing the sore back card was not really in the fatherly spirit of things. Besides, he is constantly buying better camping gear and shouldn’t he be keen to use it? I suspect his constant camping gear acquisitions are a bit like my wallet/sample sale shoe/handbag problem; buying shizzle all the time for no reason – certainly not for actual usage – but because it satisfies for a moment a deep, yawning chasm of loneliness and unworthiness. Probably.

Anyway, we asked another dad of one if he would like to use our tent – which comes with four rooms, an awning, and FOUR OF OUR KIDS! And he said yes, which mind-boggled me, because who would be so kind/mental? and they all finally went to sleep at 3am.  The dad, who finally shifted his own kid onto another kindly neighbour’s couch at some unspecified hour to keep him away from the shameful display of nocturnal shenanigans of our kids, might never speak to us again – he had fled by the morning. There were various stories of neighbours coming over all night to ask them to be quiet and to stop screaming about ghosts, a midnight feast of coca cola in one of the terraced flats at midnight, and a lot of gaming. And, a bung eye.

This is summer, man. Kind of awesome, full of potential dangers, overheating, FOMO situations, bug bites and OTT gestures because we are SO EXCITED about the sun. You wait, always a bit cold, donning coats of various thicknesses, dressed in jean and boots, jeans and boots, and you remember about summer. It seems to come really fast – so fast that you forget to go to all the things you were planning to go to all year round, mostly because they are all on the same four weekends of probable nice weather. And your arms are white and bigger than they were last year and your toenails are a little bit fungus-y and everything summery that comes out of the suitcases in the wardrobe smells a bit like a dog. Your sandals give you blisters and you sneeze all the time.

We did manage to remember to go to the polo (best bit was when I found £20 on the ground which I quickly spent on two rhubarb gin cocktails), the Soho Food Feast where you buy really excellent food from stylish central London restaurants and pop ups for £2,  strawberry picking and the Westbourne Summer Festival where you could get a snake to climb around your neck for free.

A tree we found in Hyde Park – a source of many an afternoon’s leaping and falling:


Christo at The Serpentine:


Soho Food Feast delights:



Lastly, my get-out-of-camping card:






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41 Responses to Pox and Eye and a Surprise

  1. Oh my! Congratulations Jodi. x

  2. Jo says:

    Oh wow! Congratulations! Bit extreme just to get out of the camping 😂 xxx

  3. theharridan says:

    Tis true. Should have thought it through a little more, maybe.

  4. textpatwives says:

    Oh man! That’s FABULOUS. Congratulations! (Although – boo for you – no more rhubarb-gin cocktails for a while…) Hope it’s all going well, not too exhausting or sicky. Lovely lovely news.

  5. No WAY!!!!!!!!! Congratulations!! How exciting! xxxxxx

  6. Adale Robertson says:

    Congratulations! That’s crazy amazing!

  7. Maxine says:

    Wow , life is never dull in the fray household ! Congratulations , wishing you all the best on number 6 ⛺️👍🤰

  8. lhammondsoas says:

    Wow! What an incentive to read all the way through to the end (not that I would ever consider stopping halfway, as I always read your blogs slowly, savouring every word, so I don’t consume it too quickly. Great news!!!! xoxoxo

  9. Penny says:

    X2 the comment above. Congratulations!!!!! from Auckland.

  10. mrsp84 says:

    Wow! excellent news! I was just about to admonish you for lack of warning before the tarantula photo but I can’t now – congrats to you and Mark x

  11. janeatterbury says:

    Congratulations!!!! What a great surprise!! I’m trying to imagine where you are going to fit child #6! Perhaps the tent will have to become a permanent fixture – the London equivalent of an Auckland granny flat LOL. Hope you are morning-sickness-free xxx

    • theharridan says:

      Where will we fit the baby? WHERE? Mark says he can always attach another bunk to the wall. WAAAAAH

  12. Clare says:

    Wonderful news, congrats congrats congrats! Apologies for sounding a bit stalkery but I love to read your blog and give a little cheer each time I see a new post. This is just the nicest thing I’ve seen in days! xxx

    • theharridan says:

      Thank you SO MUCH for writing and for being so kind! Sometimes I think I am just shouting into thew ind, so it is wonderful to hear from someone new. It encourages me to write more….well, in theory. xx

  13. Jane says:

    Just like Clare says above, I’m one of no doubt many many silent admirers. Have read you for yonks and I always ALWAYS (shouty caps for emphasis) come away from the blog feeling warm and happy that you and your brood are kind of in my life. And now another Fray will join the fray! That’s so exciting. I always wondered if you might find yourselves with one more in the team. You cheer up my life with all your tales of family shenanigans, and another little one to add to the mix is going to be magnificent!

    • theharridan says:

      This is so lovely – I just read your comment out to my husband because he never reads anything I write (probably a good idea) but now he knows it isn’t just my tolerant and long-suffering buddies sending me the odd encouraging word! Thanks for saying all that – it is a pleasure to write when people enjoy it. And I really do hope another baby will be ok and not too catastrophic – at this early stage you just feel anxious and worried about what people might think. Anyway, many thanks for writing!

  14. Jane says:

    Oh gawd,the pleasure is all mine, I can assure you. I’m actually squirming a bit because I have in fact been reading your blog for aeons, and thus I could have put Mark right a long time ago. Not even sure why I haven’t commented before, but it does feel very warm and fuzzy actually to have you write back! And so quickly. I encourage any other secretive souls out there to fess up to their addiction to your wonderful words. Bet there’s tons of us …

  15. Lisa says:

    Yes! I’m also a silent reader! Love your blog, always makes me laugh. Mum of 4 reading from NZ here. All the best with your pregnancy – lucky baby to be joining your clan!

    • theharridan says:

      Well, it’s lovely to have you on board – it’s a total delight to know actual real people read my stuff! Thank you for the kind words and wishes – let’s hope another baby doesn’t make us go a bit mental and that I learn to stop moaning about acid reflux.🤭

  16. Sue Caddie says:

    Congratulations from another actual real person!

  17. rose says:

    I think this is the nicest and best news on a larger than my ‘personal IRL world’ I have seen in a very long time. Please keep posting, feel well, stay healthy and growing another miracle; our world needs miracles now.

  18. Katy says:

    Absolutely love this! Did a genuine little squeal of joy at the end 😂😂😂
    I love your writing and look forward to seeing a post every time it pops up.

  19. theharridan says:

    That’s so kind – thank you!

  20. Dorothy Goudie says:

    Didn’t see that one coming! Congratulations from another silent stalker.

  21. ckiwi says:

    I suspect there are lots and lots of us stalkers lurking around your blog – always excited to see a new post from you and even more excited about baby news! Congratulations 🙂 (from another Aucklander; there seem to be lots of us here!)

    • theharridan says:

      Thanks! I was a little reticent about the baby news, thinking people might be sick of my constant “l’m pregnant!” “No, I’m not!” dramas, and I am always waiting for someone to tell me off about ruining the planet. So, thanks for being so kind instead 👍🏻

  22. Rhian says:

    Many congratulations! Another long-time reader and enjoyer of the blog wanting to say, “Keep writing; I love it!”

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