• Clare Tindal

Spreading Roots

It’s now Winter. I started this in Autumn. I need to hurry up before it's Spring.

Lough Mardal has been going through a costume change. The trees have shed most of their leaves. The greens have gone yellow, the yellows have gone orange and the oranges are going brown. The ground is crunchy and it’s all very lovely. We’re no longer on wildflower-watch. No more lake dips. No more picnics. No more bilberry picking. No more weeding.

There are now well-trodden paths through the fields on the various walks the girls and I do. Marcus worries that the girls will develop chunky calves from all the walking. (Mine are a lost cause.) Our current favourite ramble is about an hour round-trip depending on toddler whims (many) and the unanticipated sideshows nature puts on for us along the way - animal footprints, a dead earwig, a caterpillar, a stick... Down the sandstone track to the lake, the ritual throwing of things into lake (stones, sticks, oneself) with giddy shrieks. Along the lakeshore as far as the old quarry, up into it for a quick inspection before clambering over it out onto the mossy peatlands. Meandering through the heather to the rise and then down through the long rushes (a problematic section for little legs), through an old fence into the meadow and up to the grove with the old, twisted willows. There we play Horsey, bouncing up and down on low boughs. The two cats who always join us on our walks disappear up into the branches, sharpening their claws. The grove is a magical spot. Sheltered and concealed with its gnarly network of low mossy branches, it’s where the kids will undoubtedly learn to climb trees, build hide-outs, where they’ll disappear to when we’re looking for them. You might even find me hiding there on a bad day.

In a much duller adult world, we are at grant funding application stage for our business. Finally. These things take absolutely ages, we had no idea. I'm sure some friends and family have given up on us. For those unfamiliar with the grant process you need a PhD just to be able to complete the application form. Most of the questions require a thesis length answer. A vast array of accompanying documents are also required; a feasibility study, an operational plan, a financial plan, a business plan, a marketing plan. An applicant without a plan is not slipping through. It's a lot of work - but nothing comes easy. In the midst of our first application not just one but both laptops imploded. For a short spell we were working on an old Mac (I'm a PC girl) with all the menus in German. (We don't speak German.) Then our two in their terrible-twos didn't make it easy either. The ‘office’ is a small desk in a corner of an open-plan kitchen/living room and no matter how stealthily you try to sidle over to it unnoticed you are besieged as soon as you sit down to become a human climbing frame. Balloons, bubbles, crayons, oatcakes, playdoh, etc thrown at them buys you about 5 minutes of extr