The Cutester and I were out on the seafront last week, Pokemon hunting, when we spotted a seal. 

Sadly, it wasn’t the sort of seal I’d hoped for – it was dead. Very beautiful, with its sleek gold and silver mottled skin, and big dark eyes, and catlike whiskers, but dead.

‘Maybe it’s just fainted,’ suggested the Cutester.

So we carried on our sweep of all the Pokestops on Newcastle’s promenade and came back, but it was still dead.

This was sad enough, but then we saw a tiny dead seal, rolling back and forth in the surf. The Cutester insisted on going up to it for a better look. She came away pretty quick.

‘It was like Nearly Headless Nick,’ she told me.

All very upsetting. It’s the way they are basically Labradors with flippers, I think.

So we stood on the promenade and prayed that we’d get to see a living seal very soon.

This was the next Pokemon we caught:

‘I don’t think God is taking us very seriously,’ I told the Cutester. ‘In fact this has raised some serious questions for me about his character.’

‘No, Mummy, that was just a starter!’ she said. Full of faith.

And behold, the next day on the seafront – staring at my phone and barely paying attention to the sea – I looked up and saw a seal! A real one. Very much alive. It was head and shoulders above the water (or would have been if seals had shoulders).

‘Look look look a seal!’ I shouted.

‘It’s probably dead,’ said the Redster.

‘No, it’s not! Look!’

‘Or dying. The life draining slowly from its body…’


‘…as it writhes in mortal agony…’

‘…while its young wait for it to come back…’


‘…lonely and afraid…’

‘Cutester! Look! A seal!’

The Cutester was suitably happy and excited. We even saw a second one a few hundred yards away, which Mr Suburbanite insists was the same one, but what does he know?

To put this in context, we’ve been coming to Newcastle Co. Down for years – and despite often looking out for them, the last time I remember spotting a seal in that bay was about 30 years ago.

Feel free to dismiss this as coincidence – but to me it’s been a reminder that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. I’m glad I actually asked, out loud, after years of just wishing to see a seal. The rapid answer told me two things: that God loves us to communicate with him and he with us, and that he’s the Lord of a wild and wonderful creation.


Yesterday we took the girls to see the BFG. The Cutester was desperate to see it, and I was keen too because I loved Mark Rylance’s performance in the BBC’s Wolf Hall. I was also curious to know what a great actor can do with just his eyes and his mouth, which are seemingly the only bits of him left in the film (everything else is CGI’d, or something).

BFG poster

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What’s better than having a farm in the Dordogne?

Answer: Having a sister with a farm in the Dordogne!

Especially a sister and partner who are diversifying their farm into a B&B and glamping site. The glampsite so far consists of muddy squares in the ground – four massive tents with wooden floors, woodstoves and rustic box beds are still confined to the pages of the brochure, due to open in July – but the B&B guest room is rather nice thank you very much, and it was just for me and Mr Suburbanite. The children shared with their cousins in the farmhouse.


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What would Jesus drive? II

Here in Enfield we’re basking in the warm glow that can only be created – especially in the depths of February – by a council approving the first part of a local Mini Holland scheme!


Borrowed from Single Track World

Hurrah! Green Lanes (aka the A105) is approved. Each side of the road will have a two-metre, semi-segregated cycle lane …one  that doesn’t peter out at junctions or bus stops or anywhere a little bit tricky … and provide an actually rather quite safe way to cycle all the way from the North Circular to Enfield Town. That’s one part of the scheme approved, and four to go. A cleaner, greener Enfield is in sight. Continue reading

The end is nigh

So, the Cutester is now 9.

Ffion 9 birthday cake

I know from previous experience, in the form of her older sister, that there is a vast gulf between 8 and 9. The truth was forced on me when I took the Redster to H&M Kids just after she’d turned 9 herself, and we found the shop divided into 0-8s … and 9-14s. I had to walk past all the Hello Kitty nighties and stripy tights and buy my little girl clothes from the teenage section. I was traumatised.
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