Diary Of A Modern Gran | Granny Digs For Dinosaurs

Lady chasing pram Illustration: Istockphoto

George is carving through something that looks like an egg-shaped rock with a plastic knife. Somewhere in there is a dinosaur.

Don’t worry. It’s not real. In fact, this clever little kit came from the sweet shop that we always visit when it’s my day to do the granny school run.

‘Don’t buy them anything, Mum,’ my daughter always says. But how can I resist their ‘pleeese’?

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Actually, I thought the dinosaur egg was very good value. There’s just one problem. We need to be at Rose’s dance class in ten minutes. And we still haven’t had tea.

‘I’ve got to find the dinosaur first,’ insists George as he hammers away with determination written all over his face.

There’s only one quick way out as far as I can see. I go to my husband’s toolbox and find a hammer.

‘Better stand out of the way,’ I say to my two grandchildren. ‘And by the way, don’t ever do this yourselves.’ (Well, not until they’re old enough to give me a hand with DIY, anyway!)

Then I give the ‘egg’ a whack. Nothing happens apart from a spray of sandy dust, which goes all over George’s school uniform. Oh-oh. When I try to brush him down, it makes the stain worse.

Might as well give it another go. Again, nothing happens. The clock is ticking by for ballet class although in between dinosaur excavation, I have managed to put some fish fingers and chips in front of Rose and George. Talk about multitasking!

‘Let me try again,’ insists George who was born with the family conviction that we all know best.

And guess what? He does! The plastic knife clearly has more success than the hammer. A crack has appeared and we can see a little green bit. Yes! More digging (in between fishfinger mouthfuls) and there it is! A plastic figure embedded in the ‘rock’.

George is ecstatic. It’s another notch on his way to his career as a fossil hunter.

Meanwhile, we now have four minutes to get to ballet.

‘Are we late?’ asks Rose who has an inbuilt fear of missing the boat (probably inherited from her mother, who was often late for school runs as I was – yes, that’s right – multitasking with work and children).

‘No,’ I say, crossing my fingers.

Somehow, I get them into the car with Rose’s ballet stuff and her kit for their joint gymnastics class which follows on. There are enough bags in the boot of my eldest son’s old car (the only one in our family suitable for a school run) for a weekend’s stay!

Miraculously, we make it on time, although the deluge of rain doesn’t help. We’re all soaked! But after I drop off Rose and then go into the gym cloakroom to change George, I discover that his gymnastics stuff isn’t in his school bag after all.

‘It’s in the other bag,’ says George casually.

Which one? The one he left behind at school which is now, of course, locked up.

I make an emergency call to my daughter. She is working from home but is able to put a spare change of clothing in a carrier bag by the front door so I don’t need to disturb her.

We drive back through the pouring rain, pick it up and get back to gymnastics seconds before it begins.

By now, I’m so exhausted that I feel I’ve done several rounds in the gym myself!

But more is to come. My son-in-law is meeting me in the car park so we can swap the car seats from mine to his.

Thank goodness for that. I need his help. You need a degree in engineering to get those seats in and out!

He stays to collect the children and I head back (solo) for my place. I need to read through the latest version of my new Penguin novel, which comes out next June. We are now almost at the final stages before the typesetting.

My next job is to read through everything aloud to make sure that it’s in the best possible shape. For example, I look out for repetitions or continuity issues – something that can happen when several people are involved in the editing process. I like to read the whole book out loud at this stage as it helps me to check the rhythm too.

I’ve given myself a target of 50 pages a day so that I can meet my deadline next week. After that it goes off to my publishers for the proof copy to be made.

There is still time for changes to be made after this, but it’s best to get major alterations sorted out now.

People often ask me how long it takes for me to write a book. Well, I usually write my first draft in about four months, which might not seem long. However, I write every day. Then after that, it’s edited and proofread. From first line to publication, it’s about a year.

I’ve almost finished my day’s quota (goodness – it’s dark outside!) when my daughter rings.

‘Mum? Have you got George’s school shoes?’

I think of all the school stuff I’d been lugging around earlier on today. Quite possibly! I rush out to the car with a torch but there are no signs of shoes. (Not even one!) Nor are they in the house.

Oh no. Out of everything, school shoes are one of the worst to lose, don’t you think? They’re expensive and then there’s all the hassle of finding another pair that fit well.

Then my mobile goes again. ‘It’s OK,’ she says. ‘We found them.’


After that, I need to wind down. So I decide to go for a run along the seafront. There’s just one problem. I can’t find my sports trainers. Where can they be?

‘Have you tried the dog basket?’ suggests my husband.

Ah! There they are….!

Ask Agony Gran

I spend a lot of time with a friend of mine, who is also a gran. However, she’s just announced that she’s not going to get the Covid booster vaccine because she doesn’t think it’s ‘necessary’ now. I am booked in for mine next week and am worried that she might get Covid and pass it on to me (and others) even though I will have been vaccinated. I’m also shocked by her attitude and think it’s selfish. I haven’t told her this but I don’t feel I can spend so much time in her company now. What do you think? Name withheld

Jane says:

This is a problem which, I suspect, many of us have come across. You ask what I think. The real question is what YOU think, and you’ve made this quite clear. If you’re not comfortable spending time with someone who isn’t vaccinated, you don’t have to. However, it might well hurt your friendship.

‘I wonder if your friend knows all the facts about the vaccine, or whether she’s been persuaded by someone else who has doubts. My husband and I had our booster last Friday, as a matter of interest. I was a bit worried because I’d heard that lots of people were having side-effects. In fact, our arms were very sore the next day and we also had headaches and a fluey feeling. But the day after that, all these symptoms disappeared.

That’s just our personal experience. If I were you, I’d have an open conversation with your friend. But do try not to fall out over it.

The Funny things They Say

My son is nearly 45 and has a long-term girlfriend. The other day, my seven-year-old grandson came running up to me and told me that his uncle was getting married. I asked him how he knew.

‘Because he said he was going to give her a ring!’ said my grandson excitedly.

It turned out that my son was talking about a phone call. We’re still waiting for a real ring to be produced!’

Jenny, Wolverhampton

Grandparent Tip

I have a store of toys for my grandchildren that I keep for when they visit. After they’ve gone, I go through the ones they didn’t seem interested in – or had outgrown – and take them to the charity shop round the corner. Then I stock up on new ones form the same charity shop. It means there’s something different for them to play with when they come to stay next time. It’s also a good way of recycling!

Joy, Surrey

Family News

Childcare costs have risen by 5.6 per cent for under-twos, according to a new survey by the Coram Trust and Childcare. A part-time place can now cost as much as £148 a week. Only 18 per cent of local authorities in England have enough childcare places for children with disabilities.

If you’d like to comment on this, please email us at moderngran@dcthomson.co.uk

Where To Take The Grandchildren

Zip World Caverns, Gwynedd, North Wales


This is an underground playground in a vast series of mine chambers. Attractions include huge trampolines, slides and tightropes as well as a zipping zone above ground. Wow! Sounds amazing!

Readers’ Feedback

Thank you to Gabrielle, one of our regular readers from Germany, for contacting us about Grandparents Day.

‘I was interested to read that October 1 was Grandparents Day. You also mentioned Pope Francis designating the last Sunday in July as Grandparents Day. July 26 is the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, Jesus’ grandparents, although they are not actually mentioned in the Bible. We do celebrate that day ourselves, though this year it was submerged (it’s also our granddaughter Anna’s name day). I have no objection to celebrating both days!’

Children’s Book of the Week

It’s Time To Bake It, Ladybird. 2 – 5 years. £8.99

We love this interactive novelty book with lots of baking tips that encourage motor skills and imagination.

Coming To Find You book cover

Jane Corry is a journalist and award-winning author. Her latest novel is Coming to Find You.

Coming To Find You is told from the points of view of Elizabeth, who lived in Tall Chimneys by the sea during World War 2, and Nancy who lives in the same house in the present day. This Sunday Times bestseller is published by Penguin, £8.99. Available in print, digital and audio.