Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Full circle.

Well, as ever, it has been some time since my last post, and many things have happened in the meantime, most of which I vowed to chronicle on here, some of which even made it as far as my ever growing collection of half-written draft posts, but none of which actually made it as far as getting published. Such is life these days.

First there was Christmas, when P discovered the delights of wrapping-paper

encountered his first snow

and received the traditional present of two front teeth. These chose New Year's Eve to make their entrance, so everyone saw the dawn on the first day of 2010, though not for the reasons we might have hoped.

And then, suddenly, it was the end of January and we were packing up the car ready to move to Geneva for two months while C applied himself in person to bringing about the end of the world.

Over the years I've visited Geneva a fair few times and always found it to be a very pleasant place, if a trifle pricey, so the idea of living there for a little while was not unappealing. Unfortunately however, all my visits had been in the summer months, whereas we were to be there in February and March, and I soon realised that I had rather unrealistic expectations of life at that time of year. I had pictured us strolling by the lake and walking in the botanical gardens or playing in the park. But while it is certainly possible to stroll by Lac Leman in February, the wind makes it really rather obvious that there's not much between you and the Alps. And that's when it's not raining.

We did, of course, have a few nice days (especially towards the end of the stay), and a few trips out and about, all of which I singularly failed to post about. There was a little jaunt to Nyon on the lake (admittedly slightly spoiled by the fact that C left the changing bag on the train in the morning and so a substantial proportion of the day was spent in a large supermarket trying to replace all the things that we needed from it).*

There was a much more successful trip to Lausanne, an amazing place built on slopes so precipitous that you occasionally have the impression of walking through an M.C. Escher drawing (this did rather give me palpitations when pushing P about in the pram in case either of us tripped up and let go!).

And there was a ride on the Télépherique du Saleve which, though really rather chilly at the top (and a week too early in the season for the cafe to be open) gave us the chance to see a great many mad people throwing themselves off the side of a sheer cliff, which was distinctly entertaining.

On the whole however, while C was off doing exciting physics, P and I spent rather more time than either of us really liked sitting in our apartment in a 60s concrete tower-block watching the rain/sleet/snow on the windows. However, this gave P plenty of time to practice getting about the place.

So, while we arrived with a baby who could sit up and shuffle a few feet if he really put his mind to it, we left with a crawling, cruising toddler with a fascination for opening cupboards and drawers and a pathological dislike of finding them full of neatly stacked or folded things.

This transformation was accelerated by the fact that the furniture in the Geneva flat was the perfect height and layout to encourage cruising. By the end of the first week he was shuffling up and down one side of the coffee table. A week later he'd gained enough confidence to make it across to the sofa, and by the middle of the stay I heard someone knocking on the front door and came out of the kitchen to find that it was P, who had made his way round the table, down one sofa, then down the other, along the arm, across the wall, and was trying to escape.

Finally, about a week before we left it suddenly seemed to occur to him that if he actually applied himself to mastering this crawling business he would be able to get to the furniture in order to pull himself up and walk. And that was the end of any sort of peace and quiet in our house.

As a result, the trip back from Geneva was a rather different kettle of fish to the trip out. When we stopped in Dijon overnight and tried to take P to the hotel restaurant for dinner, we were somewhat dismayed to find a distinctly posh-looking establishment, sporting long, crisp, cream, cotton tablecloths, and silver cutlery. Confronted with such an exciting environment and not content with merely smearing as much food as possible all over us and the table, P set out to terrorize the other diners as well, crawling under the tables to grab their ankles, trying to walk from table to table by holding onto the aforementioned tablecloths, and endeavouring to scale the stems of the wine coolers. Eventually we bolted our dinner and took him back upstairs to eat fruit sitting on the floor of the ensuite bathroom - that being the only place he could make as much mess as he liked with impunity.

Arriving home was similarly something of a culture shock. P's newly acquired mobility, and a penchant for opening any accessible cupboard and carrying off the contents as booty**, meant that we spent the first two or three weeks hastily removing or hiding electrical cables, reorganizing drawers, and fitting stairgates and cupboard locks.

But before long we got used to the new reality and learned not to leave anything important (or wet) on any surface lower than three feet, even if we did eventually end up replacing half the furniture so as to be able to put things like the TV and stereo out of reach. And now we suddenly find we've come full circle. In the last few weeks P has had his first birthday and started going to nursery, and I have started back at work where I am frantically trying to clear the cobwebs off my brain with so far only limited success.

And once again I find myself vowing to return to blogging on a more regular basis though since the new reality is even more hectic than the old one, we shall see!

* I tend to find it does not bode well for a visit to somewhere if the first words spoken on arrival are "oh, shit!"
** During the first week home, I was presented with a constant stream of objects abstracted from forgotten drawers and cupboards around the house. A single day's haul consisted of a novelty rugby ball, a green yoyo with an exceptionally long string, some worry beads, a raw onion, and a (mercifully unopened) packet of hayfever tablets, all (apart, I hope, from the onion) snaffled from his father's bedside cabinet.