It's July. You know when it's July in the North of England, because of the rain. "Nice weather for ducks," muttered a man who splashed past me in the supermarket carpark with his trolley; I turned on the car radio to hear an advert for a shopping centre. "Come on in," it purred. "It's warm and dry."
This was the selling point. Who cares what shops it had in it?
We have spent the weekend in true English summer style, locked up inside our house. Friends came and brought fantastic spherical flowers and a small baby, which we jiggled till it gurgled. I blame the influence of Blogland entirely for the fact that I forgot to take any pictures of the baby, but made sure to get a range of snaps of the flowers.
I can see my own flowers perfectly well from my kitchen window, thank you. I'm not going out there and getting soaking wet. Last year, Silverpebble sent me a lovely envelope full of flower seeds, which I scattered in my garden. A single evening primrose has come up in my garden - but a stunning patch of flowers has appeared on the other side of next door's lawn.
For a good part of the afternoon we have fought over the Hama beads. We have made several heart shapes and a multi-coloured horse whose tail instantly fell off. All day long, Littlest has been approaching meltdown. We call these her 'pinball moments', when she throws herself around the house in such delirium that there are many tears, many knocks, many plasters. The rain has turned her into a caged animal.
We put on the Zumba DVD to try and exhaust her. Eldest very pointedly put her nose in a book. Any attempts to get her to join in by doing the arm exercises from her physiotherapy programme were met with the kind of teenaged look you wouldn't expect from a ten-year-old.
Tempers are frayed. Eldest flies off the handle and howls at the slightest thing. As soon as an adult back is turned, Littlest is on a chair, trying to pull some high object off onto her head. A frustrated Eldest is violently threatening various family members with the deadly tip of her crutch. A shout comes from the bath. "She's trying to kill me!" Cold cups of tea are abandoned around the house as the demands for help with activities become more hysterical.
As if part of some grand plan, the wheels in the Coffee House have inexplicably deflated: all three tyres on the off-road wheelchair; the tyres on Littlest's bike. Neither Mr Coffee nor I can reinflate them, and no punctures can be found. The gods are laughing: you can't go out there. Even if the rain stops, there's nothing you can do.