Sunday, August 14, 2016

Gremlins and the Big Countdown by Sheila Claydon

Eighteen months ago I spent almost half a year in Sydney, Australia. I was there to help care for my youngest granddaughter. She was six months old when we arrived and just a few weeks shy of her first birthday when we left.  During that time she made friends with my friends thanks to her almost daily appearance on my facebook page and then it was all over and, as with any family separated by thousands of miles, we knew it would be a while before we saw her again.

I left with far more than happy memories though, I left with material for the book which eventually became Remembering Rose (Mapleby Memories Book 1), published June 30, 2016. Although the story has absolutely nothing to do with my trip to Australia, some of the characters do. The heroine, Rachel, is a new mother, and at the start of the story, Leah, her little girl, is a few months old. Then there's Daniel, the new Dad.  None of these characters are my family, nor is the story anything like theirs, but watching them learning to become parents and adapt to the changes a baby brings to a partnership helped me to develop the story.

Now, with the book finished and out there, we are all going to meet up again, only this time in the UK. The whole family are coming to England for 9 weeks and we are beyond excited. Unfortunately our excitement has attracted the attention of the gremlins who lurk silently in corners, always on the look out for an opportunity to cause mayhem. With us they hit the jackpot and the past couple of weeks have been a chapter of incidents and accidents. First I cut the sole of my foot sufficiently badly to have to visit the Accident & Emergency Department at our local hospital to be stitched up. Then, while I was recovering, the gremlins moved in.

The first thing they attacked was the cooker. One day it cooked a fine roast dinner for six, the next day nix, nada, not a flicker.  Call out charges and repairs for a 12 year old cooker were deemed not worth it so we ordered a new one. Then they set their sights on the refrigerator, putting it into deep freeze mode so that not only was everything rock solid,  the ice overflowed onto the kitchen floor, so a new fridge it had to be. Finally it was the dishwasher's turn. A gremlin leak did it. Thankfully our local supplier has assured us that all three items will be delivered and fitted on Monday, three days before our visitors arrive.

With this problem solved we turned our attention to the bedrooms because we have to accommodate a cot plus two and occasionally four additional adults as well as sleepovers from older children. That's when we discovered the gremlins had moved upstairs and pushed the bottom out of one of the drawers in the chest-of-drawers. They had also broken the loft ladder and made sure the shower head sprang a leak in solidarity with the solar panels on the roof, so now we have to drain the boiler on Monday so the plumber can repair the roof. The other things we can cope with ourselves even though this now includes the garden pond which, with a little invisible help from our gremlin invaders, has suddenly decided to seep water, exposing a very unattractive plastic liner instead of its usual pretty pebbles and stones. Then, in what I hope was their final act before leaving, they pushed one of the kick boards under the kitchen units adrift and now it needs new fitments.

Everything will be mended or replaced before our visitors arrive but at this rate it would have been cheaper to fly to Australia ourselves! It's not as if we treat our house and belongings harshly either, so, gremlins apart, maybe it's an age thing. Almost all of the broken items were around 12 years old, dating from when we had our kitchen re-fitted. They have all been well cared for and look as good as new. It's just the innards that have perished, so does this mean that 12 is the optimum number of years we can expect from anything nowadays?

I'm not going to tempt providence and say there's nothing else left to go wrong. Instead I am going to sort out all the clothes and baby items my daughter has been storing in her loft for this visit. Already we have a baby seat in the car, a stroller in the porch, a highchair in the kitchen and a full toy box in the conservatory. The bathroom has plastic ducks and frogs again, and there are several drawers of freshly washed hand-me-down clothes waiting for our little granddaughter plus, most important of all for anyone connected with Books We Love, a big basket full of picture books. It's like a leap back in time to when our older granddaughters were babies, and before that to when our own children were young. Now all we need is the energy to run a full household again after years of being on our own.

My next book, a follow up to Remembering Rose, and only started in my head so far, will include young children, so I guess I am already expecting to pick up pointers from my youngest granddaughter for the book I will start in October when she returns to Australia. In the meantime I only have four days left in the big countdown but please don't tell the gremlins or they will find something else to break.

Sheila's books can be found at Books We Love and on Amazon

She also has a website and can be found on facebook