Monday, 5 October 2015


After a summer of decluttering and moving stuff around, the children now have their own bedrooms.  To give their rooms a bit of personality and warmth, I let them choose wallpaper.  Giving children free rein with anything can be dangerous.  They took so long in deciding, that I could almost here the staff saying 'are you right there folks' and the lights dim as we left.

Thankfully both of their rooms are compact and bijou and we were only papering ‘accent walls’ because they both picked the most expensive wallpaper in the shop.  I am a textiley, texture kinda gal, who gets excited about beautiful things, so I was happy enough to invest.

I couldn’t wait to get home to start wallpapering.  I remembered how much I enjoyed wallpapering when I did it for my Mam, or for my aunt Aine in my teens and pre babies.  I took great pleasure in finding solutions to their old, uneven walls.  When I wallpapered for Mam or Aine, they told me that I was a great young one, supplied tea and fed me, but generally buggered off and left me to it.  Just me, my cuppa and the radio. 
The nostalgia didn’t last long.  Wallpapering a la Poppy Cottage was the exact opposite.  In fact, it was something of a spectator sport. 

In fairness, seeing how wallpaper paste thickens is kind of cool, so of course the two children needed to have a good old stir.  It’s just that they didn’t know when to stop.  At least if they are over enthusiastic with soup-stirring, the dog will lick up the spillages.  He doesn’t fancy paste so much.  I know because he tried it.  The kids tried it too, to see ‘if it tastes disgusting’.  It does, apparently.  We mixed way too much and are thinking of setting up a wallpaper paste shop very soon.
I started on Mya’s room first, which is about the size of a large hen house.  Big enough for bunk beds and not a lot else.  I won't say that you couldn’t swing a cat in there, in case my children read this and try to see if it’s really possible. 

I told the children that, while I wallpapered, that they could watch whatever they wanted on TV, as loud as they wanted, or have unlimited access to their tablets, or both.  

Any other time, they would rub their hands with glee.  This time ?  They just wanted to hang with their Mamma.  Literally.  Because we live in a Hobbit House, I pasted the paper in the dining room and carried each soggy piece into the bedroom.  It was a mine field of a journey, across a newly erected farm set.   Earlier, I had banished my big-bummed half dog/half horse dog outdoors, but he somehow made his way back inside.  Mya took the opportunity to scoot on her scooter all around the Hobbit House 'It's faster this way Mam', with mutt faithfully following. 
It’s unlikely that I will ever remove this wallpaper in my lifetime.  In the future, if an archaeologist asks what that ‘stuff’ is on the back of the wallpaper, will you tell her/him that it’s dog hair, mixed with little girl hair/skin and the imprint is scooter handle bars ? Thanks.
They both wanted to help to cut the wallpaper, but that was a big ‘no’ from me.  It was just too expensive for little scissor hands.  Instead, I relented and let them help smooth down the wallpaper on the wall, hoping that they wouldn’t rip it.  They didn’t.  It just took FOR-EV-ER.

Such was the excitement, that the children called in the cavalry and invited the neighbours.  The three lovely girls from across the road.  They are always welcome in our house. EXCEPT, when Yours Truly is wallpapering.  At one stage, I was standing on a high stool, trying to figure out a tricky bit behind the curtain pole.  My audience was five children, one of them on a scooter and a large dog, with a pastey looking bum.   They were an appreciative audience all the same and ooh’d and aaah’d at my work.

I was reminded of Julia Donaldson’s gorgeous children’s book ‘A Squash and a Squeeze’, where an old woman thinks her house is too small.  A Wise Old Man tells her to bring half a farm yard of animals into her house to demonstrate that her house wasn’t too small for her after all.   When the five children and pastey dog left me, I had a moment and thought ‘Wise Old Man’, you knew what you were talking about.

Although I gave the children open access to the biscuit tin for the day, they both developed a hunger that could only be satisfied by proper cooked mammy food.  Food that requires standing over a cooker for ages. So long that the notion to do wallpapering in the first place might have worn off you.  We compromised with pancakes.  Thankfully, they didn’t offer to help make them.  There was enough stirring for one day.
In my slightly biased opinion, Mya’s completed bedroom looks flipping great.  The wallpaper, a textured collage of scenes from Paris in pinks, purple, orange and black, with a sprinkle of glitter, is set off with a black lace curtain on the window.  I’ve gone in there quite a few times to admire it.  In fact, I think that I’ve admired it more than Mya. 

I have been working and travelling most weekends since, and I’ve been putting off wallpapering Leon’s bedroom.  It’s a more fiddly job, with more furniture to move, within the confines of the Hobbit House.  The poor child is getting impatient.  I’ve left all of the materials out, in my way, to remind me to get to it.  I’ll take a notion and do it some day soon, ideally without my army of adoring fans. 

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