Wednesday, 28 May 2008

My day - news from the front

In direct response to Amelia's passing shot (am still seething - see previous post) I have spent today laughing manically and mentally scribbling in my little notebook and thinking savage thoughts about my mother in law. I have, however, decided against sending a neatly typewritten account of my day to Sevenoaks with Jack on Saturday morning and will post it on here, secure in the knowledge that you all won't just give it a cursory glance and say "if you say so dear". Well, I hope you won't anyway.
Up, washed and dressed by 8am - out with the dogs and Mac for an hour. Discovered that Dulwich ducks don't like Kingsmill 50/50. Back home by ten past nine and time to finish off cleaning the kitchen from yesterdays Baking Day. We made biscuits, a cake and David a steak and kidney pie that he declared "ambrosial". Cue beaming from wife and child. Mac decided he wants to be a chef when he grows up. Until it got to the cleaning up and washing up when he informed me that he would have "men to do that" as he pottered off to watch a DVD. But I digress. Spend half an hour putting everything back to how it should be and trying to convince Mac that as we had Baking Day yesterday, we need to do something different today. Thursday has already been designated as Day Out With Ben and His Mummy Rosie Day and Friday is Summer Clothes Buying Day.

Quarter past ten and Mac is watching an art programme on the television. I rue the day that he learnt how to work Sky. Keen to get him away from the screen I suggest that today be Art Day. We go to art cupboard (shelf in Cupboard At The Top of The Stairs) to find it empty save three motheaten brushes and some paint that had dried up. Feel terrible for five minutes that have denied my child access to top quality art materials. Suggest visit to "art shop" which gets Mac very excited, so much so that he puts his shoes on the wrong feet. The only "art shop" that springs to mind is WH Smith's but would not have child friendly items. Pause halfway down the stairs as I swear I hear my mum say "What about Hobbycraft?"

Wave goodbye to the dogs and get in the car. "We will be back for Ben's house won't we mummy?" said Mac who is now fearing he'll miss out on his sleep over. Say to myself "Bloody hope so, it's only twenty to eleven in the morning and David's on a promise tonight". Put "Crayford" into sat nav. Sat nav refuses to work. Remember that need to buy wine and nibbles for Romantic Evening so divert to Sainsburys. Half an hour and fifty quid later (remembered needed dog food, polish, shower gel, ketchup, toilet rolls and coffee, also bought flowers) found myself in Starbucks as if by magic. Conversation with Mac on way back to car about why he can't have a mobile phone.

Pass by Ayres (actually, impossible to do) and decide on lovely french stick with lovely cheese and ham for lunch. Realise that if I leave it any later, famous Ayres french sticks would have sold out. Turn round, park outside the chemist, scrabble around in my bag for prescription and drop it off. French stick purchased (okay, and two doughnuts), get back in the car. An hour has passed and have travelled about 2 miles.

Head off for Crayford, pretending I vaguely know where it is. Mac informing me that he's looking forward to "lovely cheese" for lunch reminds me that I haven't got any. Stop off at Lee Sainsbury's and go mad at cheese counter.

Arrive in Crayford, two and a bit hours after we left home. Surreptiously ring Rosie on her mobile and tell her that the 3pm pick up time we had arranged might be slightly wide of the mark. Knowing me as she does, she says it's fine and agrees that I drop Mac off when I'm ready.

Mac has lost interest by now in Buying Art Supplies (hardly surprising, poor child) as we've "run out of time mummy". Suggest that we make Friday Art Day and do Friday's activities on Saturday. Mac's enthusiasm rallies when he sees the delights that Hobbycraft have to offer. Buy paints, brushes, sugar paper, stickers, face paints and a "happy fathers day" stamp so Mac can make David a card. Go into shock at the check out but faced with grinning harpies congratulating Mac on having such a "super mummy" who is being "so supportive of your talent", am unable to run shrieking through the aisle replacing everything.

Mac chuffed to bits at his future job as artist and, secure in the knowledge that I could be nurturing a budding Picasso or Constable, I promptly miss my turn-off and head towards the Dartford Tunnel. "Shall we go to Lakeside?" I say tremulously and revert to panic mode. Pull over onto hard shoulder and try not to think that I'm about to get rammed by an out of control lorry at any minute. Sat nav refuses to work. Can almost hear it laughing at me. Ring David who, sensing my panic, instructs me to breathe deeply and instructs me on how to get back onto the right road. Thank God for bluetooth - he talks to me until I know where I am. Convinced that I had shielded Mac from my growing panic (I hate, hate getting lost, am sure it's a phobia) I look in my rear view mirror to find him clutching onto Scruffy Giraffe and mouthing something with his eyes shut. The Lords Prayer probably.

Mac informs me he's hungry. It's now half past two. Hand Mac an illicit packet of Quavers I've found under the front seat as we're now stuck in traffic and at least fifteen minutes away from home. Try to calculate when we left the dogs, can't work that out as all I can hear is David saying "how much?" when he sees what I've got in the highly coloured bags in the boot. Work out indignant argument in my head about nurturing talent and not denying our son the chance to excel. By the time we get outside the house I'm convinced that Mac is the Next Big Thing to hit the art world, even at such a young age. "Come and help me with these bags please, they're for you after all." I inform Mac who is trying to get into the house through the letter box which has set the dogs off. Mac casually informs me that he's not "free" on Friday for Arty Things and that he'd much rather go shopping.

Throw art supplies back into boot and threaten to take it all back to the shop. Mac looks alarmed: not because he was worried that I'd carry out my threat, more because he didn't want a repeat of the past three hours or so.

Go inside to find that I'd missed a parcel delivery and seethed for ten minutes at the injustice of it all. Find Mac upstairs packing for his night away from home - no clothes just games, puzzles and toys. Take half of it out again and put in clothes. Mac throws hissy fit because I won't let him take two pairs of his favourite pyjamas. Relent and mutter to myself. Rucksack bulges with clothes, games and toys but Mac refuses to leave anything behind. "You're only going for a night!" I say in an overly cheerful voice. "And a day. And I might stay longer" he says darkly as he attacks his piece of french stick and cheese.

Back in the car at twenty to four (dogs stare at me: abandoning them again) and nearly at Rosie's when Mac decides he wants to shower his hostess with gifts. "Can we get Rosie some flowers to say thank you mummy?". Feel slighted that a four year old has better manners than me when visiting another abode. Head back to Hello Petal and spend ten quid. Mac suggests that we go over to Old Mary's Sweetshop (he calls it by the name I used to call it) for some "sweets" for Ben and a present for "Ben's daddy". Come out with a 20p mix up bag and a copy of the Daily Telegraph.

Back to Rosie's at ten past four. "Hello darling, what have you been doing today?" Rosie says as she greets a suddenly hyperactive Mac. "Oh, not much!" he carolled as he skipped up the path with barely a wave for me. "Kids!" Rosie said with a grin. My response, thankfully only said in my head, is unprintable.

What do I do all day?

Following The Weekend

Of course, I’d blocked out the horrors of what was happening in my very own house as I battled with weather, overenthusiastic husbands and happy campers during my weekend in Folkestone. My mother in law had a free rein over my house for the whole weekend, save the couple of hours she spent out with Jack Next Door at the Harvesters on Saturday evening. As the miles counted down to London my heart sank as I thought about what I’d find in my very own abode.

To say I found David and the dogs coughing and expiring gracefully in the front garden when I arrived home on Monday afternoon would be over egging the situation slightly but there was a very strong and definite overpowering smell of bleach, lemon Flash liquid and an as yet unidentifiable cleaning product which David thinks is this.

I have reproduced the note I found on my chopping board:

Joanna (note, please, the lack of greeting)

I have given the place a good going over – it is now clean, tidy and, above all, hygienic. I have managed to get that mark off the tiles in the bathroom – I dread to think what it was but it took some shifting. I emptied the Dyson no less than fifteen times – I went over the hall carpet three times and was amazed to find it was not patterned.

The kitchen floor has been cleaned AND polished, please watch your step in those ridiculous Tote things you wear. Your bedroom curtains have been washed and Mackenzie's toys arranged so that you don't break your neck on them the minute you enter his room. I have laundered the dogs bedding at 60 degrees.

I think you’ll find that if you keep the house to the standard I have set (you don’t need to let it build up and then attack it all in one go) you will find it easier to keep neat and tidy and so will no longer dread anyone just dropping in. I always find an hour a day achieves much more than the weekend blitz you usually go for.

I really don’t know what you do all day.


I’ve still got some of the Apple Strudel left that I cooked and devoured after reading this note – but not a lot. I took great satisfaction in dropping crumbs all over the highly polished kitchen sodding floor as well. David thinks I'm over reacting but he caught one look of my face as he said the fateful words and shot out into the garden to "prune the roses".

I’m also simmering over the last sentence. I can hear her saying it, in that flippant, over the shoulder tone she has, with the slight inflection on key words – I really don’t know what you do all day.

I’ve been making notes – I may just send it over with Jack when he goes to see her at the weekend.

Monday, 26 May 2008

The Weekend

I knew the weekend wasn't going to go that brilliantly when I got a phone call from David, twenty minutes into the journey. He was transporting the dogs and most of the packing while I had Mac and half of his bedroom on the back seat. "Listen, the mobile home park doesn't allow guests so we're going to have to pretend to be related to the Pryces - you can be his sister or something. Okay?" I always know I'm in trouble when David lapses into Sergeant Major speak. I resisted the urge to say "Roger, Wilco and Out" but merely groaned something along the lines of "Do I have to pretend to be the sister of Jeff "I have no chin or dress sense" Pryce?". The answer was in the affirmative.

We arrived at the mobile home park and found the Pryce's mobile home. Do you know the feeling you get when you see something this size but find out it's only really this size? Well, that's how I felt after stepping into the Vogue. I'm sorry, I sound like an ungrateful cow but, well, you had to be there. I wish you were.

"Hello there, you must be Jeff Pryce's sister! We're Malcolm and Francis Greene and this is our son Archie and our daughter Caroline." I paused from lugging a suitcase up onto the (rather rickety) decking and found I was being spoken to by a woman wearing a bright red cotton dress, flanked on either side by a sullen child. "Erm, yes, well, I suppose I am, yes!" I muttered. David was just pulling into the car park and made the mistake of letting the three dogs out to come and find me. Having been separated from me for two hours they leapt upon me, yelping with excitement. Francis Greene looked horrifed as all three burst into the caravan (let's not continue with the pretence - it was not a mobile home as I thought it would be) and retreated to the safety of her own with her uncommunicative children. I didn't blame her.

It was....okay. Smaller than I imagined, especially when we were all inside together. Cosy, was the word David used. I was thinking more along the lines of "cramped". On questioning Mac while David popped to the shop, he said he liked it but wished it was "not at this place but at the place I like mummy". He meant Hastings and its environs. He perked up a bit when David suggested that he take Mac and the three dogs to explore while "mummy cooked dinner".

An hour later they were back - an hour in which I'd wrestled with lighting the oven, broken a nail on the drawer and managed to blunt the potato peeler on my King Edwards - to announce that the place is "brill" and "fab" and all three dogs had had lots of "wees and a poo each" in the Doggers Field. I must be spending far too much time with Marjorie because my head shot up at this point and I nearly brained myself on the extractor fan hood. "It's a field where all the dogs can do their stuff" David said, scrubbing his hands in the bathroom while Mac attempted to bring his duvet into the living area. All three dogs were piled up, one on top of each other, panting wildly on the five foot by five foot decking area. It was slightly worrying that I could hear David's own ablutions even with the door shut and the extractor fan on full. I made a mental note to spurn any romantic overtures that evening.

"I think this is ideal!" David said a few hours later as we watched the annual cheese-fest that is the Eurovision Song Contest while happy "holiday makers" schlepped their way up to the caravan park clubhouse which bore huge signs declaring "Come as your Favourite Country!" Francis and Malcom Greene had giggled their way up the path ten minutes earlier dressed as onion sellers. "It's a bit....compact" I ventured as I stood in the kitchen and was able to supervise Mac's teeth brushing from close quarters. From my position by the sink, I deduced that the Greene's caravan was three metres away. I could see into the master bedroom - it was an eye watering canary yellow.

As we lay in bed later than night (romantic overture successfully spurned) I was increasingly aware of the walls closing in on me and awoke, seemingly in a nightmare, when I heard a godawful screeching from outside. Heart pounding, I clutched David's arm under the duvet but then realised that it was a slightly worse for wear Francis returning from the clubhouse attempting to sing the Eurovision winning entry. It was a while before I could get back to sleep. Scenes from Tenko kept running through my mind.

Sunday morning dawned dully after a night of on/off rain. I cooked a usual Sunday breakfast in about a third of the space I'm used to and kept falling over dogs who were confused about where they were. Junior Dog didn't like the rain falling on the roof of the caravan and had spent the night three inches from my face while Senior and Middle took refuge in Mac's room. There was no air at all and the muggy atmosphere (not helped by the fact that not only were all the walls closing in on me but the other caravans were too) gave me a headache.

Charlie arrived and brought the sun with her and we all went into Folkestone for a wander. Charlie had her cockles while we attempted to keep track of all three dogs bowel movements. I fully understand the requirement for dog owners to pick up after their dogs (God knows I yearn for it when I see dogs doing their stuff and owners walking away as if it never happened - it's not a nice thing to do but, come on people, it's necessary!) but wasn't quite prepared for the sight of Dog Wardens who were patrolling the beach and beaming at people with obvious poo bags whilst commenting on passing pooches and their toilet habits. "Bet he goes more than once a day!" one such gentleman enquired of Charlie as she took Junior Dog (who is a pony sized labrador) down to the sea for a paddle with a Tescos carrier bag and a wodge of tissues - just in case.

We decided that there wasn't much to do in Folkestone and decided to return to the site. Charlie tried (and failed) to get enthusiastic about the place, even when David showed her how the shower worked in relation to the hot water boiler. Still, he managed to watch the football on Sky in the clubhouse - we went to find him towards the end of the game and were very nearly corralled into a game of bingo. "No thanks, I'm allergic to all that eyes down stuff!" Charlie said to the highly coiffed barmaid as we made a run for it. She took this as her sign to leave and advised me to "stick at it!".

Later that night, after Ultimate Force, we retired to bed. Mac and Senior Dog decided that they wanted to camp out in the living room while Junior Dog prepared to set up camp again on my pillow. Middle Dog was completely confused and sat whining by the door. "Do you know, I think this is the way forward for us. We'd need a slightly bigger one of course but.....what do you think darling?" David turned to me as I switched the light off. I toyed with giving him my unsanitised version: I hate it, I hate it, I hate the fact that I can be in every single room in this caravan without leaving my chair, I hate that I could hear you peeing while I drank my tea, I hate the fact that there's no bath and the shower is tiny, I hate the fact that every time I set foot outside I am beseiged by people asking me what I think to "caravanning" and I HATE the fact that the site's public address system keeps telling us what's happening - "It's ten to six folks, happy hour starts at six until ten!". But then I saw his hopeful smile in the half light and merely kissed the tip of his nose and snuggled down under the duvet.

The rain woke me at twenty to twelve, again at quarter past and kept me awake until the wind started wailing. During one particularly forceful gust the caravan actually lifted and I had visions of Mac's wish that we relocate to Hastings coming true. At 1pm Mac gave up and shuffled in - "Daddy I'm scared" - and had to be hoiked into bed. Middle Dog had already joined Junior Dog on my head. Senior Dog is a seasoned pro at this Night Terror thing. It took a particularly heavy downpour with additional wind to propel him onto the bed. And there we stayed, in various uncomfortable positions as the wind wailed around us and the rain sounded like someone was continuously emptying tin tacks onto the roof. My last look at the clock was at 4.25am and then I don't remember anything until David woke me up at eight to inform me that the site "is flooded".

Bank Holiday breakfast and cabin fever sets in. As does a stunningly brilliant idea. I'm almost grinning as I offer to take the dogs out to Doggers Field in the teeming rain and howling wind. David looks surprised at this but I'm playing the long game. I've got the easy job. Sure enough, Doggers Field is flooded and short-arsed Senior Dog is waist high in muddy water within seconds of arrival. He was practically swimming. After half an hour (I planned to wear them out for their part in my Cunning Plan) we returned and I stood outside on the decking as all three dogs headed inside for what is surely their right after a long, wet walk. Towels, warmth and hot milk.

They all leapt on David requesting all three at once in their demanding doggy way and, while Mac was screaming "Daddy, get their towels!" and David was shrieking like a girl as three wet hounds ran round like lunatics I stood outside and waved to Francis Greene who was boiling eggs about four metres away from me.

Half an hour later, dogs dried, caravan sluiced down and covert choc drops handed out, we sat down and stared at each other. The rain showed no sign in letting up, nor did the wind. "We could go for a bracing walk!" David said. "Noooooo daddy, I don't like wet" Mac whines right on cue, without prompting. The boy is a genius "Read a book darling." I said in a wifely tone of voice as I settled down in my surprisingly comfy chair with my own. Mac picked up a puzzle and wandered over to the dining table. It was ten o'clock and it took until quarter past eleven for David to crack. He'd been to the shop to get the local paper and read it. He'd mooched around the caravan, pacing up and down measuring how much extra space we'd need. "We can't just sit here, look, did you want to leave earlier than planned?" I almost choked on my chocolate lime. No I did not. For one reason, my Cunning Plan was in full swing and for another, Jack wasn't due to take Amelia home until 3pm as she had to be back by 6pm for a piano recital. I didn't want our arrival and her departure to clash in any way.

"No, it's nice just sitting here doing nothing, all together." I said soothingly. As if to back me up, Junior Dog inhaled sleepily from his position by the fire along with Senior and Middle Dog. If you wanted to go to the loo, make some tea, or do anything out of the living area you had to clamber over still damp dogs. And, to be honest, it was quite nice despite by sabotage plans. Mac was snoozing on the banquette and I was in the grip of that lovely heavy feeling you get when you're completely relaxed. I kept my eye on the ball though.

"You're right baby, it is lovely here" I said, flashing him a winning smile. "We're a bit all.....smooshed up thought aren't we?" he said thoughtfully. "I mean, I'm not being unkind but I could hear you applying your underarm deodorant earlier." He did, I made sure of that.

"Yes, well, I suppose......." I trailed off and peered out into the murky distance. Malcolm Greene was picking his nose in the next caravan. "I suppose that, if we had a house we'd be less smooshed up. I mean, you could be in the bath now, listening to the cricket and I'd be doing dinner while Mac was in his room..........the dogs could be sleeping comfortably in their baskets instead of in a heap on the floor in the way......."

"Hm, maybe you're right darling, we need to think about this some more I reckon. Don't you?"

HAH! Result!

Just for you Merry!

Friday, 23 May 2008


We're ready. I've packed for sun, rain, hail and wind. We've got sandals, wellies and trainers. The dogs have those peg lead things so they can all sit outside the caravan without wandering off round the site. I have plenty of books and David has his walking shoes and those ridiculous three quarter length trouser things that he tends to wear when at the seaside. Mac has paddling pool for the decking, plenty of puzzles and books for when he's "sitting on the beach mummy". We have enough food to last a week and every available inch of the cars will be crammed full.

Bea is suitably horrified at the words "weekend at a caravan" and is trying to talk me out of it. "Darling, let the boys stay at the caravan and you could stay at the Burstin, I've heard good things about it. You could commute in every day." Charlie is coming to visit us on Sunday because she's heard that the shellfish place is the best in the world "I do love a nice cockle" she cackled down the phone to me earlier today. Lydia and Matt have asked for a nice fridge magnet for their love nest (Lydia is nesting like you would not believe). Marjorie has asked for some nice "naughty" postcards for display in their downstairs loo. Ruby Over The Road popped in with a fruitcake "for the journey" and Jack Next Door has promised to look after Amelia (she's staying here with the rabbit). Janey has requested a Kiss Me Quick hat to get "Darren in the mood" and Auntie Ivy wants me to buy a "lovely big stick of rock".

It feels like I'm going to the other side of the world.
Have a great bank holiday weekend!

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Cold calling

Ding dong on my doorbell at ten to eleven this morning. Cue young gentleman wearing sharp pinstriped suit, black hornrimmed glasses, overpowering amounts of aftershave and a sickly grin. "Good morning, I represent Doodah Electric and would like to talk to you about changing your electricity supplier!" No thank you very much, said I as I attempted to edge the door closed. Out came a foot which was jammed in my door. "I think you'll find that we are the best electricity supplier in the world and would undercut your current electricity bill by many many pounds" (I'm paraphrasing here you understand). "And I think you'll find that we are perfectly happy with our current electricity supplier and don't wish to change it".
"Is the man of the house in?" This really gets my goat, as if the Little Woman is unable to make any "important" decisions.

"No, the man of the house is out at work at the moment and would not speak to you anyway, even if he were here"

"Let me show you some literature that will underline exactly what Doodah Electric can do for you" this comment was accompanied by a move towards actually forcing open my front door and entering my house.

"Let me show you my three dogs who would quite happily do something for you that may require a visit to the nearest A&E department if you step one unsolicited foot inside my property." Happily all three woofers were barking in the background at this point.

"Thank you for your time" said Doodah Electric man as he beat a hasty retreat.

To reassure you, all three dogs were in the garden barking at Nero, Marjorie Stewart's cat who has taken to sitting on the fence just out of their reach and doing the feline equivalent of a "yah boo sucks to you" gesture. If I had Doodah Electric man on the premises, Senior Dog would be frisking him for Polo's, Middle Dog would be sniffing his shoes and Junior Dog would be dribbling all over him.

Fade in, fade out to quarter to four this afternoon. I had broken my neck to get in the door to answer the ringing phone, falling over Junior Dog and Mac who has taken to dawdling along while singing the theme tune to Postman Pat.

"Hello!" I said breathlessly. "Good afternoon madam, I'm calling from Voodoo Phone and would like to offer you the chance of upgrading to a brand new Raspberry" said a cheery female voice. "No thank you, I'm perfectly happy (hah!) with my current mobile phone and provider" I said, already to cut off my cold caller.

"Yes but with a Raspberry you can manage your life effortlessly with......" "My life would still be unmanaged, even if I had a crack team of Personal Assistants managing my every move" I cut in and advised her that I was going to hang up. Which I did. Not 30 seconds later she rang back. "We must have got cut off!" she chirruped. "No we didn't, I cut you off. Kindly go away." I added as I hung up again, muttering. The phone rang again and I ignored it, singing "lalalala, can't hear you!". When I'd finished I overheard Mac telling Senior Dog that "mummy has lost it".

Again, more fading out and more fading in until just as we were sitting down to dinner. Ding dong on the doorbell. David got up to answer it and the same overpowering stench of aftershave pervaded the kitchen. "No thank you" I heard David say firmly as I called out "The dogs are here and they haven't had their dinner yet!".

David returned to the table, a mystified look on his face. "He was just getting into his spiel about Doodah Electric when he heard you, went pale and practically vaulted the gate."

I'm waging a cold war against cold callers.

Sunday, 18 May 2008


I'm a bit disheartened with the lack of decent properties that are arriving in our inbox. Those that are perfect and "just right" are way over our budget. Those that follow our brief and need "doing up" are in either the wrong location or need so much doing up that we'd be better off going for the perfect one. I'm even beginning to think that this is all just a pipe dream and that it'll never happen. David, he reckons, has the solution and a way to save money. When I first heard this solution I had to go and make myself a strong coffee. He suggests that, instead of buying a property in Hastings/Rye/Winchelsea/Pett Level, we buy a mobile home there instead. This was mentioned to me just minutes before Casualty so he planned on not getting too much of an argument. Well, he was wrong.

To me, this means this and said as much to the man I married who was very lucky that he had the protection of Senior Dog at the time. "Just because my mum, Ivy and Daisy went on a gypsy caravan week in County Cork does NOT mean that I have any gypsy blood and the urge to go a-roaming" I steamed as I stormed off into the kitchen to put the kettle on. He put Senior Dog on the floor and approached me, arms held out in a beseeching manner "No, no, no I don't mean one of those, I mean one of these!" he said as I dodged out of his grasp. I mean, if my sister Bea could hear this!

"It's a home from home, right in the middle of a gorgeous setting, we don't need a whole other house, God knows we've got enough on our plate with keeping this one maintained." he held out a glossy brochure knowing that I'm a sucker for a glossy brochure. "They're far better than you remember darling, not all tin and cardboard, they're properly insulated with hot and cold running water and central heating, fully furnished and everything." The glossy brochure was within my grasp but I still evaded David's as I grabbed it. Hm. They do look.....nice. All new and shiny and......glossy. Hm. The kettle boiled and I mentally kicked myself for being such a spoilt brat.

"And I mean, even the most expensive ones still fall under our budget (just) and, well, Mac will love it, it's real boys own stuff. You step out of your mobile home right into nature. These mobile home parks have swimming pools and bars and childrens entertainment. And, so, you're a little close to your neighbours? On some sites there are proper fencing, you know, like mini plots of land!" He was doing a hard sell on the whole thing and was very careful not to call it a caravan. I let him catch up with me whilst trying hard not to think of the holiday park we had the misfortune to overhear/see/witness when we were viewing a house. "At least don't dismiss it out of hand" he said as he guided me back to the living room as the opening titles of my favourite programme boomed out of the TV set.

"Oh, and, so you can get a rough idea of how it all is, Jeff Pryce at the office has lent his to us for the Bank Holiday weekend - a beautiful site, just outside Folkestone." he added nonchantly as he sank down onto the sofa and positioned Senior Dog between us.

Why can I hear Bea's voice telling me "You've got nothing to wear on a caravan site!"?

Friday, 16 May 2008

Oh what a night......

The typo in my previous post ("I'm off to scrap my potatoes") which should have read "I'm off to scrape my potatoes" was unfortunately not too wide of the mark. I did have to indeed scrap my potatoes after they burnt (welded to the bottom of a non-stick pan) because I was engrossed in talking about Lydia's 12 week scan. My suspicions were right all along - she's nearly 4 months pregnant and is blooming. It also explains why she steered clear of the alcohol at last Friday's barbecue and, as she claims, bursts into tears every time she sees any Pedigree advert but especially this one. I'm so delighted for her and Matthew, even though, technically, I'll be a granny. Bea first brought this to our attention when we were laughing about buying David a zimmer frame for his next birthday - "And what shall we buy Granny Mitchell for her birthday?" said Bea, tipping half a bottle of Oxford Landing into her glass "Carpet slippers and a bed jacket?"

"Matt will be telling David tonight, but I wanted to be the one to tell you" Lydia said as she helped me scrape gunk off the bottom of my saucepan as the others drunkenly set the table in the other room. "You've always been there for me, since, well y'know, the stuff with Mike and.....and......". She started welling up at this point but I'd beaten her to it. We were clinging to each other as Saskia arrived bearing the Jersey Royals we'd asked her to buy from Sainsbury's on her way in. Explanations abounded and we set about enjoying our evening. All being well (Lydia is highly superstitious about everything - "given my great age!" so everything pregnancy related was mentioned with crossed fingers) the baby will be here at the end of October. She kept grinning all night and didn't even complain like she would normally when Junior Dog trod on her bare foot with claws that need trimming.

After the Big Announcement we moved onto nibbles: Walkers Sensations, selection of dips, olives, breadsticks, pate and crackers. Conversations included: who could have sent the cream tea, Eliza's theory that children know when you're getting ready to go out for the first time in months and scream the place down as if they're being abandoned to wild animals rather than their own father, Janey's stretchmarks and the wonders of Bio Oil, how David will take the Big News, how many pints Darren had drunk as at 7.25pm, Saskia's row with Arrogant Snotty Nosed Passenger and her plans to move closer to Gatwick. "Gatwick? What, the airport?" said Janey.

The main course: roast chicken, the second batch of new potatoes (cooked to perfection), salad and six garlic baguettes courtesy of Marjorie. Conversations included: Frank and his quest for Viagra, Bea's attempts at seducing Stephen in the hope that he'd change the holiday plans from the Maldives to St Lucia (my sister was quite tipsy at this stage, hair all over the place and cackling like a loon), shopping trips "For The Baby, sssh, not yet obviously, wait until nearer the time", a phone call from David whooping "I'm going to be a Grandad!" followed closely by "Oh shit, I feel old now!" and how Charlie has fallen in love - with the Clarins skin care range.

Dessert was Mixed Berry Pavlova with Pomegranate seeds and white chocolate chips (courtesy of Lydia who says she could eat chocolate with "everything at the moment". Conversations centred on Rapidly Shrinking Au Pair (formerly known as Enormous Au Pair) and how she is spending all of her wages on perfume, "flimsy under garments" and hair care products. "That woman is a walking Boots shop" Bea complained but admitted that it's better to have a primped and preened au pair than a gorging greedy one. "The only problem is, she's not interested in young men of our kind, she's intent on bringing in ones from Streatham, Clapham and, oh my god, Balham."

Men, weddings and marriage were touched on over coffee and an update from everyone round the table. I reported that things were fine and had a little giggle that caused much "woohoo"ing! Janey is still a bit worried that Darren is still not "getting" his post pregnancy wife - "I try to be sexy and interested but, who has time for oozing sex appeal when you know next door there's a little bundle of joy oozing stuff into her nappy?" Lydia looked a bit downhearted at this but rallied when she claimed "no weddings for me". Charlie has her sights set on Gorgeous Cardiothoracic Surgeon With Audi and No Wedding Ring and is going blonder on Saturday to enthrall him. Saskia says she's surrounded by gorgeous male cabin crew at work but they are nearly all gay. "That's what they're telling you!" giggled Marjorie who revealed that she and Frank will be celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary in August - "we're having a house party, you're all invited"

Once the dishwasher was swishing and the dogs were yawning from their baskets we were all slouched in the living room. Mac appeared, beautifully sleepy, and complaining that he "kept waking up all over the place mummy". I offered to take him back to bed and read him a story but he decided against it. Looking round the room at the assorted females he made his choice. "I want Auntie Charlie to read to me" adding "from the book over on the side" over his shoulder as he went back up the stairs. Charlie duly collected the book and disappeared for an hour.

A lovely night all round, with lots of laughter, good news and marvellous company - there was talk of making it a regular thing. "The thing is, when you're a granny, you do need time for yourself every now and again" David sighed as he lowered himself down on the sofa - and was asleep within minutes. He'll be a top notch Grandpa at this rate.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Ladies Night

The girls are coming round tonight for a meal and a few drinks while David takes the boys out for a curry and some male bonding. I think we've got the better deal - it's peeing down out there and there's no chance of us bumping into boozed up lads in search of the perfect kebab in our comfy, newly decorated dining room.

So, Chez Moi ce soir.....the cast list: me, Charlie, Saskia, Eliza, Bea, Lydia, Janey, and Marjorie.

The menu....."nibbles", Roast Chicken with Lemon, Tarragon and Black Pepper with rocket and herb leaf salad and Jersey Royal new potatoes and to follow a Berry Pavolova: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and extra thick double cream (pause to wipe dribble from keyboard)

The conversation topics*: men, babies, family, organic vegetables, skin care regime, forthcoming holidays to Mexico/Maldives/Bognor, sex, divorce, shopping and the stresses of employing an au pair that has stopped eating you out of house and home and has discovered expensive pampering treatments and is now encouraging local youths to hang around the circular driveway dropping chip papers.

Am off to scrap my potatoes......

* likely

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Clotted cream mystery

Cheery Postman knocked on my door this morning and asked me to sign for a package which I did, all the time thinking "I haven't ordered anything, perhaps David has". It was addressed to "The Mitchells" and felt interesting. I rang David who pondered with me for a little while as to had sent us the mystery package. "Listen, you may as well open it" he reasoned. So I did. And found a Rodda's Cream Tea - 2 scones, 2 tea bags, strawberry jam and a pot of clotted cream.

David was highly delighted with this news as he knows that I don't like clotted cream. I was more concerned about who had sent it to us: we don't know anyone who lives in Cornwall, nor do we know anyone who has gone to Cornwall on their, confusion abounds in Nunhead.

But they were so scrummy so thank you mystery scone sender, it was much appreciated!

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Bang bang

A bit of a day today. Whilst drinking coffee and eating jaffa cakes with cousin Janey and discussing the possibility of Darren actually signing for a "proper" football club during the summer, there was a loud bang and crunching of metal outside "Me Jeep!" Janey squealed as she stuck her head out of the, thankfully, open window. The jeep was safe, as were both of our cars - unfortunately the cars belonging to Bill Opposite and Martin, son of Jill with the Purple Door, were not. We both shot out, Janey teetering on four inch strappy sandals and me in my old faithful slippers. "You hit me!" Martin was booming with Bill Opposite bellowing "You 'ucking well hit me!" (Please note I have amended, everso slightly, the bad language because there's a lot of it contained within this post)

"You reversed into me!" Martin howled as Bill bent over his pride and joy and inspected the damage - there seemed to be a lot of it. "You 'ucking well reversed into me, didn't you see me reverse light?" Bill screamed. "You saw, you're my witness!" Martin yelled, suddenly including Janey and myself in this discussion. We both pointed out that we only heard, we didn't see. Martin gave us a gesture that led us to believe we were both in his bad books.
Bill Opposite is a huge tower of a man: 6 foot in his socks, broad, well muscled, shaven headed, covered in gold and tattooes and looks like he wrestles pitbulls for a hobby. Martin is five foot nothing, thin as a rake and favours nylon clothing. I merely point this out because it becomes relevant in a little while.

Into the fray stepped Frank Stewart - retired policeman, self styled Neighbourhood Association vigilante with a penchant for "doing things right". He had a notebook and he actually licked the nib of his pencil before he began writing. "Now then, now then" said Frank as he stepped between the warring factions. "Bugger me, it's Jimmy Saville" Janey muttered. "What happened?" continued PC Frank. Bill and Martin started talking at once.

It seemed that both men were in their cars, preparing to take their leave. Bill looked in his rear view mirror and reversed, as he thought, safely. Such a shame then that Martin thought and did exactly the same.

Into this scene ran Martin's wife Fay, earnest and vegetarian, she wouldnt mind me telling you that she's a librarian. "What's going on Martin? You've annihilated the Vectra!" "See!" said Bill rather smugly. "Even your wife reckons you're a crap driver!". Frank was writing down both car registrations and encouraging both men to exchange insurance details. "No way!" said Fay, bottom in the air as she inspected the damage to her precious Vauxhall. "We want his first, our car is newer than his.". Bill went as purple as Jill's door. "What? Mine's a 'ucking Porsche you silly 'ucking mare!"

Martin took a flying leap at Bill just as Bill bent down to inspect the mangled metal which meant Martin was floored as his stomach made contact with Bill's shaven head. "Oh my God!" Fay screamed as Martin buckled and hit the deck "You hooligan, you reprobate, you charlatan!" and she started laying into Bill with her organic handbag. "Oi Fay, oi Fay!" came a voice from along the road. "Is she Jewish?" Janey asked, as Jill shot along and joined the merry band. "Do something you idiot, he's killing him!" she said and shoved Frank in the chest. Bill was disappearing under handbag blows while Frank picked Martin up and leant him against Bill's Porsche. At which point the rear bumper fell off. "You...........!" Bill growled as he watched his beloved red Porsche fall apart.

At this point, two community police officers ambled into view. "It's the fuzz!" Bill hissed, sounding as if it wasn't the first time he'd ever uttered that phrase. "Good!" said Fay as she tended to her poor husband who hadn't breathed properly for about two minutes. "That's all I 'ucking need" said Bill, "you stupid 'ucking prat that can't 'ucking drive". "You can keep your potty mouth to yourself, you bring down the whole tone of The Avenue" Jill screeched. "At least he's not prissy like what you are!" so spoke Jane Opposite as she hung out of her bedroom window, all leopard print negligee and panda eyes at quarter to eleven in the morning.

The community police officers arrived just as Frank attempted to gain control of the situation by the laying on of hands. "Get your hands off my husband, you deviant!" Fay bellowed as Bill warned Frank "I mean it, I'll have you!" which made Janey laugh so much she slid off the window ledge. When Marjorie, who was now hovering on her front path wearing a frilly apron and cerise leggings called across "He should be so lucky my love!", she laughed until she cried.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Didn't we have a luvverly time?

I am more determined than ever to get a weekend place by the sea – we’ve had a fantastic day, even though Amelia was with us. We’ve been to see my Token Gay Friend Andy and his partner Adam at their holiday place on Pett Level and I didn’t want to come home. Neither did Mac who wanted to show Granny all the crabs and the dogs who are all beach bums.

And it’s no wonder, what with Andy being an interior designer and Adam Mr House Proud himself, that their house is absolutely fantastic. I wanted to pick up their cool white painted bathroom with its nautical/seaside theme and take it home. It’s put me in two minds about my own pink bathroom that I was just getting used to. “So you have a seaside theme but in pink.” Andy shrugged and proceeded to direct me to the best shops to look in. Mac found six pinky stones and a beautiful shell as a starting point.

We had our own little oasis on the packed beach – hot pink parasols and lurid lilac windbreaks marked our patch and the view was uninterrupted down to the sea that was in when we arrived and went out while we lazed. David kept muttering things like “oh, I could get used to this” and “aaahhhhhh, heaven” as he wriggled his toes on the shingle and peered out to sea like the sailor he is. I decided to use my feminine wiles while Amelia was back at the house “using the lavatory” and suggested that we extend our search for a house to the Pett or Winchelsea area. “Just imagine” I whispered into his ear “waking up and finding the sea on your doorstep”. His deep sigh suggested he already was – his mother thought I had suggested something else and decided that I should take Mac down to the sea for a paddle “to cool down”.

For once happy to do what she told me, off we went, Mac, myself, all three dogs and Andy – the sea at Pett Level really goes out when it goes out and you can wade in the surf for ages (watching out for muddy bits) without the water going above mid thigh. Andy and I had a catch up while Mac swam and the dogs tried to catch the waves.

I’m seriously in danger of having my head turned here but will be immersing myself in all things Nunhead this week as Mac has been set a project by the new teacher at nursery. Entitled, Where I Live, all of the children have to produce some pictures of where they live (cue mass photo sessions on Nunhead Green) and supply some words to go with it. Bless her, she’s extremely green and extremely keen but means well. Mac’s words will, he reliably informs me, will include “Mummy likes Ayres and so do I like their cakes”.

When I first heard about this on Friday during bathtime (Mac and I tend to have our most erudite and earnest conversations whilst bathing) he said “Mrs Fackers wants us to do it and there’ll be an exibishishon at the Mummy and Daddy Day.

I froze at this and then thought back to the letter that accompanied him on his return home with Amelia. It clearly said “Mrs Farqhuarson’s class will contribute to the forthcoming Parents Day exhibition”. Was so relieved.

Just off to register with some more estate agents!

Saturday, 10 May 2008

The Great Escape

Amelia is driving me insane. I've been near to tears on two occasions today: the first because she informed me that my new wedge shoes make my legs look like "tree trunks" and the second time was when she pronounced dinner (home-made quiche lorraine and salad) "inedible, the quiche was extremely wet".

David has recognised that I'm teetering on the edge of the very brink and is sending me up for a bath. He's lit candles, poured me a glass of something, produced a bar of Galaxy as if by magic (it's not from my secret stash, I've checked) and has given me a kiss on the top of my head. Amelia is making him sit through some ridiculous film she's found on an obscure Sky channel but will no doubt talk all the way through it.

In fact, I can hear her banging on about the correct way to cook a quiche from the bedroom where I'm Googling "how not to react badly/emotionally to anything that a vicious old bag says" on David's laptop. And, for some reason, I'm humming this.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Give me a break...

I should know by now: never make plans. Ever. At all. Because someone, somewhere always comes along and buggers them up. On this occasion, my mother in law. Today was planned, lo: take Mac to nursery, come home via Sainsburys for weekend shop (Pimms, strawberries and all things summery on my list), to my customary Friday “lick and a promise” clean all over the house, pick Mac up from nursery avec the dogs and head for Keston Lakes for cooling walk under trees and the occasional flying leap into the lakes (the dogs only naturally), rendevous with David and Matthew at Lydia’s house for a lovely dinner en famille with the faint odour of wet dog mingling nicely with the whiff barbecued steak.

Not so.

As I write my mother in law is on her house brick of a mobile phone encouraging Matthew to pack up “all the stuff you need for the wretched barbecue” and schlep it all over to my house. “I can’t eat barbecued food at the best of times, I certainly won’t be able to do it in someone else’s house.”

Stage one of my planned day went very well: I dropped my precious child off to nursery, him pristine in cream chinos and white T-shirt in manner of a Persil ad. The sun was trying to shine and birds were tweeting harmoniously as I drove along Nunhead Lane (fighting the almost primeval urge to dash into Ayres). It was then that I saw her. Amelia, the bane of my life, standing at the edge of the road with a gigantic case and waiting for a break in the traffic. I slunk down in my seat but she saw me. And stepped into the middle of the road waving her arms, nearly knocking a cyclist off his bike with her handbag. “Where are you going?” she asked accusingly as she clambered in next to me, dragging her case in after her. Immediately on the back foot I reverted to truculent teenager. “Shopping. Why are you here?”

“Well, I haven’t seen you all for a long time and I thought if I waited for you to come and see me I’d be waiting a very long time so, here I am!” she said brightly. I started gnashing my teeth and swung the car in the direction of home, the memory of her last recent visit still fresh in my mind. “”Where are you going now?” she demanded. After explaining I realised that, naturally, I was in the wrong again and diverted back to Sainsburys. I was beginning to wish I’d given into my urge to visit Ayres.

“Pimms? Two bottles? Is there something I should know?”
“Strawberries at this time of year, no wonder you’re paying over the odds for them”
“Rose wine? You really do go in for all these faddy things don’t you?”
“Cous cous? We never had that when I was shopping for a family. Mackenzie won’t like it, I promise you that.”
“You can make ice cubes you know, rather than buy them and clog up your freezer – the recipe’s not hard.”
“Cheese? On a hot day? It’ll sit heavy in your stomach”

I have reproduced just a few of the choice comments above - by the time I got home I was ready to open one of the two bottles of Pimms and tip it straight down my throat.

“You unpack the shopping, I’ll try and chip the dirt off the bath” she said as she headed upstairs. I tried to remain calm, ripped off a hunk of French stick and stuffed it into my mouth while breathing heavily. All three dogs and I sat down in the middle of the kitchen and had a group hug. “I can’t hear cupboards opening and closing so you can make me a cup of tea!” she carolled forth.

“Right” said I after a frugal lunch of ham sandwich (two slices of white bread, a scrape of butter and wafer thin piece of ham) and outlined the plans for the afternoon. My body was reacting to the frugality of the sandwich – my sandwiches are legendary. To me, a sandwich is not a sandwich unless half the filling falls out as you take the first bite. My sister Bea often remarks that eating one of my sandwiches counts as a dangerous sport – “you have to dodge discs of flying cucumber and shards of onion!”

“What? All that way for half an hour around some smelly ponds? You’d be far better off staying here and repotting all of your house plants – the bizzy lizzie on the upstairs landing looks positively ill”

By the time she’d finished railing against “parents these days having to do everything and anything with their children just because others are doing it” I had had the urge to take off to Keston sucked from my very being. That and hearing David’s voice lose its bounce when he rang and I informed him that his mother was here for the weekend. I was determined, however, that I was not not going to go out – the dogs could have a quick paddle in Dulwich Park lake if the fancy took them and Mac likes to have “a curly ice cream mummy with a chocolate” from the ice cream van at the park gates. So yah boo sucks to you Amelia.

She’s just come into the room wearing her triumphant smile. “They’ve seen sense and will be here by about 5.30. They wanted to leave it later but, as I said, I get indigestion if I eat anything after 8 o’clock. Hadn’t you better tidy the garden up? That patio looks like it needs a good scrub.”

Here kitty, kitty

So cute, but have only just twigged that, after the "cattiness" of yesterday, this was the perfect thing to put a smile on my face!

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Working 10 to 2

A slight variation on what dear old Dolly Parton had in mind but it was more than enough for me yesterday. My esteemed manager rang and asked me to cover a few hours in a busy clinic as one of the three “normal” receptionists was otherwise engaged “going for a job interview”. This last piece of information was imparted with a sniff of derision. “Quite frankly, if she gets this other job I shall not only hang out the flags but the bunting as well” said my beleaguered boss. I have to admit, I don’t envy her her job – finding and keeping enough admin staff to run the whole of a busy hospital is not something I’d relish doing. It’s no wonder she’s on 30 a day and takes her coffee intravenously.

Anyway, I found myself outside my comfort zone in an unknown setting but with two people that I knew but not worked with before. So I didn’t know how the appointment system ran, wasn’t sure why the consultant kept running in and out of his cubicle and peering into the busy waiting room without saying a word or even where the kettle was but I knew and got along with my colleagues. Or so I thought. Anne and Fiona both greeted me with cursory greetings and sat me at a computer terminal and phone and more or less left me to get on with it. I’m a quick learner – after fifteen minutes I was greeting patients with aplomb and answering the phone with a dash. Anne disappeared at twenty to eleven to make some tea. No sooner had her sensible shoes squeaked their way across the linoleum than Fiona started in on the sighing and moaning.

“Oh god, she drives me insane, she’s so lazy!” she huffed. I didn’t get a chance to say anything before she was off again. “She’s never on time, she’s so dippy, she makes no end of mistakes and I have to sort them all out and, oh, I wish she’d just retire and leave us to get on with it!”

I was goggling at this point. To hear the two of them gushing over each other earlier - “Do you want me to get that Annie, while you do this?” “Oh yes darling Fi, if you do that I can do this, you’re such a sweetheart!” – you’d think they were the best of buddies.

“Her problem is she’s been here so long she thinks she owns the place and she won’t take changes or anything I have to say on board – we have to do it her way or not at all!” Fiona was apoplectic at this point. “I mean, how old is she? 90? I suggested that we get some blue marker pens once and she ranted on for half an hour as to why we should get green because we’ve always had green – I mean, come on!”

Anne reappeared with a tray of mugs and an open packet of caramel digestives. “I’ve sugared your tea precious” she cooed as she handed Fiona a spotty mug. Fiona did at least have the good grace to blush as she took the proffered refreshment. Several minutes passed in silence before Fiona wondered how Jane was getting on at her interview. They both then proceeded to put the boot in. “She won’t get it.” said Anne. “Of course she won’t, they’ll take one look at her attitude and she won’t even be on the long list, let alone the short one” added Fiona. Silent but Staring Consultant handed Anne a wodge of files and took another selection from the trolley at our side. “We’ll leave this for her to do tomorrow, she doesn’t do anything else” said Fiona as she dumped the whole lot unceremoniously on the side. “I mean to say” said Anne “She’s hardly receptionist material, her nails are atrocious and those hair bands she wears that masquerade as skirts! Do you know her?” I was fixed with a beady stare. I admitted that yes I did know of Jane but didn’t know her and busied myself with my caramel digestive. “Hm” said Fiona. “You’re lucky then.”

A simmering silence settled upon us and I dealt with a very sweet but extremely deaf elderly gentleman who asked me where the Gents was. I told him, first at normal voice level and then shouting so that the entire waiting room heard where he was going. I then decided it was quicker to take him there myself. Off we shuffled and I got the distinct impression that I would be discussed during my absence.

I was right, of course. There was a distinct chill in the air on my return and both ignored me as I retook my seat. “We don’t generally do that” Anne informed me sniffily. “If they can’t find the toilet then that’s their problem, we’re not here to spoonfeed them.” Fiona added. I kept my mouth shut but I could feel my dander rising.

Fiona went off for lunch at 12 and Anne started. “I’m not sure where she goes for lunch but she comes back reeking of garlic. Mind, she’s got personal body odour issues at the best of times. In the height of summer it’s like the changing room of a men-only gym in here.” I had another 25 minutes of, quite frankly, vituperative, comments about Fiona before she came back and Anne took her break. I was then treated to another round of “She’s so old, she’s no use to anyone” for another half an hour along with “And she complained when you took one of her biscuits”.

Now, I’m grown up enough to realise that you haven’t got to like the people you work with but does everyone do this? Did the girls that I usually work with wait for me to go to the loo or to make the tea and talk about me like this? Are my biscuit habits discussed at will? The length of my skirts? The state of my nails? Is every bit of kindness I display to our patients remarked upon?

It left me feeling quite sad to be honest. I know, in my heart of hearts, that my usual merry band of lovely girlies I work with wouldn’t do that but…..are we guilty of behaving this way when a “new” person joins the team, however briefly?

I was immensely cheered by one of the emails that I received (my inbox is now well in to treble figures) from one of the aforementioned girlies – I shall reproduce it here for you all to enjoy.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Hot in the city

Is it me or is it too hot? For May, I mean. Yes, I am complaining about the heat – I’m much happier when I’m cold. Unless, of course, it’s too cold and I’m moaning about it. We spent Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday in picturesque Rye – me scouring the place for estate agent boards, David getting into “boat” mode, Mac wearing his life jacket even for bed on Sunday night and all three dogs gagging to get into the stuff that mermaids live in. It was blissful, idyllic even, lounging around on a yacht (the good thing about accountants is that they know people with money who are not averse to flinging it around) in the middle of the sea. I could get used to it actually. It’s a perk of David’s job that I actually enjoy. What I don’t enjoy is the fifteen million post it notes either in eye searing colours or bearing witty slogans like “Accountants do it by numbers” as they all seem to litter up drawers and every available surface. Oh, the heat makes me grouchy as well.

But you don’t really notice the heat when you’re bobbing about at sea. It was quite a wrench when Pete, our comely skipper, informed us in a wide Irish brogue that “we oughta be getting back now” at nearly 3.30. We’d “set sail” at 10am and spent our time covering ourselves with Factor 30 (Mac on Factor Gazillion – he looked as if he’d been dipped in flour) with the dogs taking the occasional leap into the sea if they got too warm under their umbrella and it was nice and breezy and fresh. Pete seemed quite happy to leave us bobbing about, his cap pulled over his eyes, his bare feet up on some sort of thing next to the steering wheel doodah. David read and unclenched, I read and dozed and Mac was happy creating a story with a length of rope, some action figures and a bowl of water. Lunch was M&S sandwiches washed down with warmish Aqua Libra and a brief (very brief, it was icy cold) into the sea pepped me up enough to take a turn at steering. “Watch out for big ships mummy!” Mac warned me. Actually, we saw quite a few container ships in the distance – but I steered away from them just in case.

The sea fascinates me – so powerful yet it lulls you into a false sense of security. The gentle swell that swirled around us became, for ten minutes as the tide turned, not so gentle and had me clinging onto deck with every fibre of my being. Mac’s innocent question of “how deep is it daddy?” and David’s answer of “very, very, very deep lad” made me a tidge nervous. Just how deep is the sea? I immediately followed my question of “How far are we from shore Pete?” with “No, don’t tell me, I don’t want to know”

At nearly 4pm, as we drew closer to the harbour – David having turned mahogany and me a nice lobster pink – and we got all of our things together I felt the weight of the envious stares of overheated holidaymakers as we stepped coolly down from the yacht. I even managed a quick sashay, wafting Ambre Solaire, past an extremely hot and harassed looking woman who was busy castigating her unrepentent daughter for “putting sand all in mummy’s bag”.

It’s quite alright though, normal service was resumed when we got back to the car only to find that the shade we’d parked it in had shifted to the other side of the car park and the large bar of Galaxy I’d left on the dashboard (purely to ensure that I replaced any sugar that I’d perspired out on the boat) had melted all over said dashboard and I turned into a screeching harridan.

All about me

My photo
Nunhead, London, United Kingdom
I'm a mum of one, wife of one and owner to several dogs, a variety of breeds and sizes. I live in the up and coming area (or so they say) of Nunhead and have mad neighbours, strange friends and certifiable relatives. I shop locally, although I do defect to Sainsburys once a week - shoot me now local shopkeepers.