Thursday, 28 February 2008

Look closely.....

Pretty, huh?
Very nice?

Feeling hungry yet?

Artist unknown but s/he's bloody clever!!

Wednesday, 27 February 2008


All plans have been finalised, approved ("Gee, am so excited I may pee!" - Lorna), booked where appropriate and paid for. I've got my "proper" shoes (ugly as hell but soooooo comfortable), a range of comfy, casual clothes and a capacious yet stylish bag. Childcare has been sorted out, batteries bought for the camera and some (but not all) guilt presents purchased for David, Mac and dogs. Mac is in a state of excitement about his next two weekends ("I would like weekends every day mummy!") and I'm spending the next couple of days cooking and freezing dinners for the next fortnight. David has sulkily put away the takeaway menus.....

So.....deep breathing......excursions will include the Britain at War exhibition, London Dungeons, Hayes Galleria, Imperial War Museum, HMS Belfast, Hampton Court, Camden Lock, Globe Theatre, St Pauls Cathedral, London Zoo, Thames Barrier, London Eye, Tea at Bea's, Tower of London, Harrods, Selfridges and Kensington Palace. At one point I thought I'd over-egged the whole "war, death and destruction" aspect but hey, our visitors are happy!

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

The Canadians are coming.....

…..on Saturday evening and I’m panicking. We’ve been in touch sporadically as they traverse their way around the British Isles and so far, so good……my plans to keep them occupied are going down very well. Lorna is particularly excited about going round the Tower of London and having her picture taken with a Beefeater. The one thing they’ve vetoed is the trip on the Thames on Sunday – Don “vomited spectacularly on the Norfolk Broads” and the words “boat and “trip” put together are enough to get his nausea rising again. So, a whole day stretches emptily ahead, not ideal for their first proper day in dear old London town. I tried to get Bea to bring forward the family party, planned originally for Saturday the 8th and she went into total meltdown.

“I cannot, simply cannot, ask Alfonso to bring forward his beautiful menu a whole week – these things have to be planned darling and he’s a very busy man, we were lucky to get him at such short notice, normally you have to book months in advance. He’s only doing this as a personal favour so no, I can’t ask if he can make it the 2nd instead of the 8th. He’d have a breakdown of epic proportions and South East London would be denied the use of a premiere caterer”

The poor woman sounded at the end of her tether. I pointed out that she sounded tense which set her off on another rant. It transpires that Enormous Au Pair, horrified at the fact that Bea has requested that Sainsburys, Tescos and Waitrose blacklist her internet account with them and booked her an appointment with a dietician, rang her parents and told them she was being “mistreated” by her employers. As a result of this "hysterical" phone call, Ma and Pa are booking a flight out of Buenos Aires and are arriving on Thursday of this week. “They not a’happy you a’doing thees thing to they beloved only daughter!” EAP hissed to Bea this morning when she gave her the flight details and a list of their favourite foods.

For not only has EAP set her parents onto my beloved sister, she expects said beloved sister to arrange to transport them from Heathrow airport and accommodate them for the duration. I suggested to Bea that she dropped in on her way home from work for a catch up but she declined gracefully as she's got to do a bulk on-line order.

Sunday, 24 February 2008


Sometimes I wonder exactly how my family see me. I love them dearly, I really do, but honestly! I am happy (and more than a little chuffed) to report that this weekend I have received not one, not two, not three but FOUR presents that have been unsolicited, a complete surprise and given so heartwarmingly that I feel bad for even thinking what I'm posting on before you judge me.

I've been feeling a bit down of late due to my cold that arrived on 8 December and has only just really seen fit to leave me and remarked to Aunt Daisy last Thursday that I feel a "bit low and energy-less". She suggested that I get a tonic "from that nice chemist up the road" - I told her that it was nothing that I wouldn't get over and we changed the subject to other things (her next door neighbour and his increasing reliance on Mars Bars "they'll have to widen the doors if he eats many more!") She popped round on Friday afternoon, having been to that "nice chemist up the road" and presented me with this. "I've mentioned to Ivy that you're not yourself and she's going to drop in tomorrow to see if you're okay" Daisy continued (I should mention that at this point, she was smoothing my hair away from my face and peering into my eyes) "You look after mummy now little man!" she said to Mac as she whisked off to terrorise the men at her dance club.

Auntie Ivy arrived on Saturday morning, having just been to Surrey Quays - "I got you these - Janey swore by them during her pregnancy, sooooo comfortable! I've been meaning to give you them for a while but, well, you could do with them now couldn't you?" - this with a sorrowful look in my direction. I nodded my thanks in a dazed fashion and put them on the kitchen table next to the Sanatogen. "Oooh, no! Not new shoes on a table!" Ivy boomed as she buttoned herself into her fleece "And please don't do what Darren did with Janey's - he thought it'd save time if he put her soup in there at the same time."

At 11.30, the postman bought a package for David that was presented to me with a flourish - I was envisaging that lovely, gorgeous, expensive cashmere 3/4 length coat that I'd spotted in my catalogue (and had dropped more hints than Jim Davidson has sexist jokes) and I unwrapped these. He was beaming from ear to ear and said "you said that you were cold in bed the other night so I thought these would be perfect!". Hm. When I'd said that I was cold in bed I was hoping that he'd offer to warm me up. And not with pyjamas.

My lovely sister Bea appeared in a flurry of designer shopping bags this afternoon, accepted the offer of tea - "any lapsong darling?" - and handed me a glossy red bag with a gleeful smile playing about her lips. "I saw this and thought of you !" She took my (stunned) silence as an invitation to continue "there were other blankets that I thought of but.....this was the nicest. Do you know that one of those that I looked at were an ancient Scottish design traditionally used by shepherds to wrap sickly lambs in, to shield them from unrelenting Highland weather? Imagine darling, a sheep blanket! In Harrods!" I placed it casually alongside my other presents of Sanatogen, Slippies and PJs (noting the colour clash) that were still on the kitchen table. "Oh dear, it looks as if you're planning to take to your bed for the forseeable!" she hooted and proceeded to engage Mac in conversation about something she'd seen on CBeebies.

Is it just me? Should I be pleased that I've got a loving family who will keep me in the manner to which I should be accustomed at my time of life? Am I an ungrateful harlot who doesn't deserve any more presents? Should I be offended that I'm now an official PJ wearing, Sanatogen drinking old bird in need of microwaveable slippers and a comforting blanket?

No, don't answer that - Most Haunted Series 10 is being repeated on Living in a minute and I've just got time to get into my PJs and snuggle under my blanket.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

A tale of two days....

My morning: washing up, one load in the washing machine, hoovering, dusting, looking for (and finding) lost ID badge that I needed to when attending the induction afternoon (how else will they know it's me?), hoovering up after I knocked over plant. Breathing. Shouting at Senior Dog who saw fit to check for "hidden bones" in mounds of earth, emptying washing machine, debating whether or not to hang on line in case weather changed, scalding mouth on tea whilst taking phone call from distressed son and racing out of the door with half an hour to spare.

Mac's morning: picked up by devoted older brother, strapped into car seat in back with packet of Haribo and bottle of Ribena nestling on the car seat next to kite, bucket and spade and remote controlled car. Driven to Brighton. Sick in service area and conversation with irate mother who cursed said older brother and his need to fill younger brother with E numbers, instructed by irate mother not to eat "any more crap".

My lunchtime: hastily eaten sandwich in hospital canteen whilst meeting up with colleagues from other departments who have also been railroaded onto induction training, including Mouthy Maureen, head "cook" who is in need of a health and safety reminder. Worrying that sandwich just consumed could be health hazard. Reassured by Maureen it's more to do with "the whole lifting and shifting thing". Scald mouth on hot chocolate, tipping half of this down my (white) shirt.

Mac's lunchtime: fish and chips on Brighton beach, huddled on the shingle with adored older brother.

My afternoon: listening to the Head of HR and Staff Management drone on and on about stuff that is pure common sense, if you've half a brain. Tips included - don't lift anything that's too heavy for you to carry, don't chuck liquids over any of the equipment, don't lean back in your chairs, if the fire alarm sounds make your way to the nearest fire exit - all pretty thought provoking stuff. Think of this from The Office and you won't be far wrong. Comfort break (how I hate that phrase) spent soaking white shirt in staff toilet whilst the rest of the admin team (some coming from third and fifth floor) piled into decide how see through I had rendered said shirt. Remainder of afternoon spent with arms folded across still-damp chest (wish had not worn dingy M&S bra) because Head Porter kept staring at it.

Mac's afternoon: throwing stones into the sea, flying kite, laughing uproariously at older brother who mistimed wave on athletic run with kite and got drenched, playing with remote control car up and down the seafront endangering the life of OAPs and asking Matt why "those two men are kissing?"

My drive home: having escaped the clutches of Head Porter who asked for lift "as we're neighbours" - advised him that Herne Hill is nowhere near Nunhead. Got stuck in traffic as, at the merest hint of an "adverse weather condition" - in this case fog - London grinds to a halt. Took call from David on my Bluetooth who said he'd had a "bugger of a day". Dived into Sainsburys Dogkennel Hill for few bits and pieces and a Starbucks hot chocolate with cream. Worried about my recent need for hot chocolate since I'd given up coffee for Lent.

Mac's drive home: half asleep but woke up in time for packet of Quavers and bottle of apple juice on the M23

My appearance and mood: hot chocolate stained, damply crumpled around the chest area, weary, in need of a cuddle and a lie down, not in the right frame of mind to cook, hair all over the place, dreadful sight for loving husband to return home to. Bless him, he switched on the kettle and got the Galaxy out.

Mac's appearance and mood: over excited, covered in ketchup, faintly smelling of sick, grubby, tired, hair all over the place, not hungry, in need of a cuddle.

So we had one, sitting at the kitchen table, David saying fondly "Aw, she's had a bit of a day" and Matt replying "You should hear what we got up to!"

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

It's Wednesday and I'm moaning.....

I've never liked Wednesdays - never. Even as a child I hated them with a passion - they're a "nothing" day (and I had double maths and single history on a Wednesday at secondary school). They're middle of the week, not quite Thursday with that "oh it's Friday tomorrow thank God" feeling, nor Friday with that "ooh, it's the weekend tomorrow!" vibe. When I once mentioned this to David he looked at me for a good few seconds before saying "well, of course Wednesdays aren't Thursdays or Fridays - that's why they're called Wednesdays." Grrr.

The reasons for my grumpiness today are as follows:

I got very little sleep last night thanks to the sleepover. Far from wearing the boys out at Keston Lakes, I succeeded in only wearing myself out to the point of exhaustion. Ben decided, at tea time, that he hates baked beans. I know for a fact that he loves baked beans. Mac therefore decided he hated them too. I stood staring at the plates of sausage, mash and baked beans and tried not to scream. Both boys weren't tired at their bedtime (8pm on non-school nights) but were over-tired by five past. As a result of this, giggles could be heard emanating from Mac's room along with "kabooms" and "bangs" as they played some sort of game that involved Ben using a very bad American accent and the need for me to pretend that they were both invisible. David, predictably, slept through it all.

Breakfast this morning was far more imaginative than they usually are. Ben eats porridge for breakfast and, knowing that Mac won't touch the stuff, Rosie thoughtfully provided some for me. Mac stuck to toast and regarded the thick gloopy stuff suspiciously. Ben created towns and roads in his porridge bowl, aided by a few handily placed blueberries. We dropped Ben home at just before 12noon and Mac misses him already. I told him that he'd be spending the whole day with his big brother tomorrow and he was quiet for about ten seconds before asking me if tomorrow could be today. I know how he feels.

Before we left the house, I opened my emails and found out that Gibbon Road post office is one of those earmarked for closure - this is ridiculous. That's my closest post office, ever since they closed the one on Nunhead Green. Chuntering madly about Government officials not taking a blind bit of notice about the local community and the fact that elderly people now have to go miles in order to find a post office, I waved my hand out in irritation and knocked my cup of coffee everywhere - the keyboard has only just dried but the "p" and the "l" are sticking. Ben learnt some new words too - was rather concerned that Mac paid little or no notice to my outburst. Am a dreadful mother/responsible (!) adult.

On our way back from Ben's I turned left to go round Nunhead Green, past the Sally Army HQ, on the one-way street to Kirkwood Road. And got stuck behind a belching refuse cart. Now, I know these gentlemen have work to do and are doing us all a service by not leaving us to rot in our own rubbish but they have no sense of community. There were at least three places that they could have pulled into but no, they stood in the middle of the road as I fumed behind the wheel. "Be with you in a minute love" one said to me as he wielded a green bin. Five minutes later I managed to pass them. By the time I got home, steam was coming out of my ears. And found Ben's overnight bag sitting in the hall where I'd left it.

Still. Am feeling better now after my moan. Mac is already "bored" and wants to "do something exciting like making a cake, please, canwe-canwe-canwe, pleeeeeeeeeeeease mummy". I can hear him rummaging around my cake tin cupboard exclaiming "cool!" in a bad American accent.
Ben must have left it behind with his PJs.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Crisis management

My friend (and one-time Pregnancy Buddy) Rosie has no hot water and no heating in her house near Peckham Rye Common. She describes this as “annoying, a blip” – I would describe it as “catastrophic bordering on cataclysmic” but then she’s always been calm in a crisis. During our respective labours, whilst I was screaming and yelling and generally making myself heard she was enquiring after the health of the midwife and reading Prima. “It was fine right up until I wanted to do the washing up after Sunday lunch” she mused to me on the phone this morning. “No hot water, no heating – we all spent the Sunday night huddled together in one bed wearing jim jams and robes and last night we kept our slippers on!” she went on, hooting with laughter at the memory. I was open mouthed at this point, cosy and warm as I was in front of the radiator in the kitchen having just supervised Mac washing up the breakfast things. The Man with a Spanner is due to visit at some point today but the boiler may need parts “that they don’t always carry. It’s all very annoying but what can you do?” she added.

I know what I’d do: I’d be on the phone demanding the immediate presence of a plumber with a selection of spare parts already on the van. “It’s poor Ben I feel sorry for, we’ve just been out in the garden feeding the birds – it’s warmer out there than in my kitchen at the moment.” she went on. Rosie’s “blip” has come at the right time however, Ben is due at any minute for a sleepover tonight. And to ensure that they do actually sleep during the sleepover, am taking both boys and all three dogs to Keston Lakes for the afternoon. Mac is very disappointed at this: he wants to go and be miserable in Ben’s cold house and wait for “the plumby man” – my son loves a good crisis, he’s just like his father.

During a black out a couple of years ago David secured the house (from marauding looters no doubt), lit candles (making sure they couldn’t be knocked over/blown out), found torches and put them on the stairs to illuminate our way upstairs and down again, wrapped eight month old Mac up in a blanket and popped a thermometer in with him (to “check his core temperature doesn’t go down”) and spent half an hour outside comparing notes with the neighbours “Bill Opposite reckons it’ll be hours before it’s back” he said gleefully on his return “we’ve checked, they’re in darkness up to six streets away!”. It wouldn’t be a lie or an exaggeration to state that at this point he was hopping from foot to foot and rubbing his hands together. He was quite disappointed when everything came back on just before half past ten.

In the summer, when all three dogs decided to go leaping into the sea from the causeway at the same time and then rushed round our rented cottage at speed, scattering water, sand and the odd crab they’d found and decided to bring back, I was the one standing in the middle of the street outside, clutching my head and muttering. David and Mac, on the other hand, were marshalling the dogs into order, fetching “all the towels in the house son” and getting ready for the crab hunt. I skulked in once the crisis had blown over and spent the rest of the day saying wonderfully helpful things like “how the hell am I going to get fifteen towels dry? We go home tomorrow!”

“Never mind” I reassure my pouting son as we pump up the inflatible mattress “who knows what’ll happen while we’re out”.
Why do I now feel like I’ve tempted fate?

Monday, 18 February 2008

Induction irritation

My boss Iris rang me on Friday – my first thought was that she wanted me to actually come into work (I was halfway through a gorgeous ham and cheese Panini at the time) but no, she just wanted to see how I was and to pass on some information. I’m an “adhoc” member of her admin team, or as Iris calls me “a floater”. This means that I can be called upon to cover the sick leave or annual leave of any member of her team across the whole hospital. Unfortunately, the term floater doesn’t impress me much and causes much hilarity amongst my colleagues. Iris is oblivious to this but it’s something I’m going to raise when I have my appraisal at the end of February – not that I’m not a “team player” and “one of the gang” but I object to being put on a par with, no, I’m not even going to say it. Sensitive, moi?

Anyway, Friday lunchtime and her dulcet tones are booming down the line at me - my induction training has been set for this Thursday. “Yes, yes, I know, it’s pointless, I know you’ve already done one but as far as They are concerned you’re a new member of staff” Iris yawned. “They” are Der Management and/or Human Resources and a fair amount of (deserved) derision is sent in their direction. My first induction was when I’d been in the job for two weeks, back in 2000. My marriage caused them a fair bit of concern too – they tried to send me back to induction training because all of a sudden, this “new” person appeared on their database. Human Resources were “confused” at the fact that I had changed my name – they obviously didn’t get any of the twelve million emails sent about my hen night and pre-wedding knees up in the social club.

So now, having been on extended maternity leave and a bit of a career break, I rejoined the workforce and the rat race in October last year and I’ve reappeared on HR’s database and this time they’ve got their wish – I need to be reinducted. The fact that it’ll just be a repeat of what I already know is besides the point, the fact that I’ve been back at work for nigh on four months already is besides the point and the fact that it’s half term and I’ve got to arrange childcare for Thursday afternoon is also very much besides the point – as long as I’ve got that bit of paper in my file which won’t ever get looked at or referred to ever again……..mutter, whinge, moan, grrr.

Matthew has been called in to help, persuaded by his father to spend some time with his younger brother. Not that he needed much persuasion to be fair, according to Lydia Matt leapt around the room when he was asked to have him for the day and his planning a return to his own childhood. Mac is extremely happy to be spending time with his big brother and wants to do “lots and lots of…..things mummy”. For my own sanity I’m not going to ask what he has planned – I’ll only be fretting whilst listening to the Head of HR and Staff Management drone on and on about “how to lift a box safely” and what to do “in the event of a fire”.

Answers on a post card please…..

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Valentine Inventory

So far I've heard that:

Bea got two dozen red roses and a Tiffany necklace.
Charlie got two cards from secret admirers, a box of chocolates from the "geeky guy in Obstetrics" and a hot look from the sexy Emergency Department consultant.

Saskia got a card, six phone numbers from the Singles Night she was at on Thursday in Canary Wharf and "some greasy git giving me puppy eyes all night".

Janey got "lucky - Darren took one look at my return to my former self and dragged me upstairs".

Lydia got a card, some freesias, a DVD of Open Water, a bar of Cadburys Fruit and Nut and "not a wink of sleep"

Marjorie got a card the size of Wales, a lemon tree, chocolate body paint and a kitten she's called Nero.

Jane Opposite got "f*** all, he don't do Valentines Day, tight git"

My mother in law received a card and a bouquet of flowers that she's paraded around the residential home so much all the petals have drooped.

Jack Next Door got a card and an invitation to dinner "one night" in Sevenoaks.

I'm happy to report that I did just as well as those listed above and, if you'd excuse me, am just off to get ready for a lovely meal out with my wonderful husband.

Dear cupid!

Friday, 15 February 2008

Who loves ya baby?

I am absolutely exhausted, whacked out, on my knees, yawning loudly and frequently. If ever there was a reason not to go all wobbly legged and dewey eyed at a pair of teeny tiny socks in Mothercare then I spent all day with it yesterday. Oh, Scarlett is cute to look at, a dream when she smiles (“It’s not wind, she’s smiling”) and her giggle is enchanting. It’s the bloody screaming I couldn’t cope with. It started innocently enough. Janey has embraced motherhood extremely well and, just over a month after her precious girl was born, she took one look in the mirror and “damn well nearly fainted”. Janey is, at best, very image conscious, at worst, extremely vain. “My roots are three inches long, my nails are all different lengths and I’m the colour of SMA. No wonder Darren’s taken to staring at me with a funny expression on his face.” So she was spending the day at “Top to Toe” being plucked, waxed, bronzed and blonded while I look after her precious baby “it’s okay” she said “I trust you.”

Certainly, the woman I saw scurrying up the path complete with baby, pram, nappy bags, holdalls and changing mat was very different to the euphoric woman I last saw in the hospital proudly proclaiming “the midwife wanted to know what colour my nail varnish was!”. She had her hair scurfed back into a pony tail and a baseball cap jammed on top, baggy jeans and a grubby T-shirt under a ankle length cardigan in shocking pink. Once inside she revealed the full horror to me. Her hair was indeed carrying a three inch root line of mousey brown, she was paler than I could ever remember her being and her nails were unvarnished, chipped and all different lengths. “That’s without me legs, me pits and me Minnie” she revealed. And I’m glad to say that’s all she revealed on that particular subject.

Details of Scarlett’s feeding times, the exact position she liked to be in for winding, how she had to have Kippy the Koala when she went to sleep AND her comforter (terry nappy that Auntie Ivy foolishly thought Janey would use instead of disposables) were given, a quick hug for me and a prolonged smooching session with Scarlett and she was off at twenty to ten with a promise to return by two “at the latest”.

I just love the way babies just are. In their own little world, wondering what the hell all these inept adults are doing with them. I remember when we first took Mackenzie home from the hospital. We just sat there looking at him in his carry cot and he was looking back at us, almost as if he were saying “Right, he’s the experienced one, but you haven’t got a clue have you?”

David had, of course, already been through all of this and so was invaluable in those early days. I have a tendency to panic (no, really?) and used to keep waking Mac up if I’d thought he’d slept for too long. As a result, Mac got tetchy and used to view me with suspicion every time I came near him, David lost count of the amount of times he hold me to “leave him alone” and I felt about as useful as a chocolate teapot.

The first baby I’d been in sole charge of since Mac was the same age opened her eyes at five past ten, looked around, realised that Mummy was not on the, let’s face it, unknown premises and started mewing. Foolishly thinking I could stop the squall before it reached gale force, I picked her up for a cuddle, first covering my front with her comforter. That was my second mistake. My first was saying “Of course I’ll have her!” on Wednesday night when Janey rang to ask.

The mewing turned to yowling, the yowling soon becoming full blown screaming. I then started dancing around with her in my arms, singing loudly – “she likes Kylie” – and making all of those ridiculous noises that people make when they’re trying to stop babies screaming. None of it worked, not even my brilliant version of this. Still holding her, I flicked through the music channels. Great, a surplus of Westlife and the Foo Fighters with a bit Kanye West thrown in but no sign of Kylie. All of my Kylie CDs are in the car – David has an aversion to the pint sized pop princess that borders on the irrational – and I didn’t dare leave her to run over the road for a quick rifle through my glove compartment.

Putting her down was a no-no anyway – the minute I did she thrashed and kicked and screamed and the pram rocked alarmingly from side to side. The carry cot, with a wriggling Scarlett in it, slid along the laminate flooring which caused Junior Dog to flee upstairs in fright. Senior and Middle Dog had already retired to the top landing, all three were peering down at me through the banisters. “Come on little one” I soothed at a deafening level “you were in this house before you were born, your mummy lay on that sofa for hours at a time!”. She wasn’t having any of it, her face was puce and her voice raw. Then the doorbell rang.

“My my my!” said Marjorie Stewart as she bustled her way into the house “I thought you were murdering kittens!” she guffawed, plucking Scarlett from me, despite my protestations. The treacherous little terror immediately stopped screaming and stared, unblinkingly at Marjorie’s powdered face. Her tiny body wracked with sobs she whimpered, safe in the knowledge that she was in the hands of a professional. I felt like I felt when Mac was a baby and would just not stop crying: useless, hopeless and about 100 years old. “They just need to know who’s in charge” Marjorie said firmly as she shimmied around the room with Scarlett openly sobbing in her arms but gradually she calmed down with no recourse to singing Kylie. I was feeling a bit tearful myself and inhaled shakily several times. “There now!” Marjorie said as she handed Scarlett back to me. “Shall I put the kettle on?”

I took advantage of the fact that I had a co-pilot and ran out to the car to get my Kylie CD’s. “Mine liked Neil Diamond” Marjorie revealed as she dunked her fifth custard cream. “Mac preferred The Beatles but I blame David for playing Yellow Submarine to my bump every day for the last two months of my pregnancy - he said it had a story-book feel to it.” I added, cocky enough now to lie Scarlett down while I warmed her bottle. The saucy little minx gazed up at me sweetly as she galloped her way through the bottle and didn’t even whinge when I got the “over your left shoulder, one hand supporting just her bottom, one hand rubbing between her should blades” routine slightly wrong. Although the dribble of milky vomit might have been a fair comment.

2pm came and went with no sign of Janey. Marjorie had left at just gone 12 “to put Frank’s faggots in the oven” and I had Kylie on low in the background. By 3pm I decided that I’d best get everything ready to go and collect Mac. Nappy changed (I can never get over the fact that it’s, for the most part, green!) I bundled her in the pram and set off for a jaunty walk. Strangers stopped to coo and Mac greeted me with “When did you have that baby mummy?” which caused a stir at the gates. As did the almost life sized Valentine’s card he’d made me – “he just kept adding sheets of paper with sellotape” Miss Phipps the playground assistant told me. He does like a bit of sellotape, I will admit.

Back by ten to four and still no sign of Janey. Had she drowned in bleach? Been waxed to death? Tanned to within an inch of her life? Scarlett decided that she’d had enough of the rank amateur and wanted that nice woman from next door back and started yelping. I paraded Kippy the Koala and her comforter in front of her, turned Kylie on full blast and Mac and I did a rather funky routine to this. She raised a little smile and thought better of letting rip. Thanks to my rather foolish decision to give up both chocolate and coffee for Lent I was left with a cup of builders tea and a custard cream to keep me going. My day had started so well too, a lovely card and the promise that David would cook dinner and Mac was “making the pudding mummy”.

Janey finally returned at five o’clock. Gone was the mousey haired pale woman with out of control eyebrows – in her place was a bronzed, glossy blonde with eyebrows so sharply defined they shrieked cutting edge. That Scarlett obviously didn’t recognise. She bellowed from the bottom of boots as a perfectly coiffed and taloned up woman appeared over her carry cot and cooed “have you had a good day sweetheart?”.

As I said to Janey as I bundled them all down the path at speed and with a fair bit of force, she obviously doesn’t recognise her new Yummy Mummy.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

A little something free from me to you.....

Like Cadbury's Mini Eggs? Live or work within walking/driving/cycling distance of a Woolworths? Got a printer? Then all you have to do is click on this and it'll all come together nicely for you. But hurry, the voucher expires soon......

Sunday, 10 February 2008

A weekend in the life of.....part one

Saturday and I can't believe this unseasonable weather, it's February and I walked round Lewisham in just jeans and a T-shirt yesterday. A woman in Marks said that if this was global warming, she's more than happy. Of course, this upset the woman with the hessian bag and straggly hair but I'm rushing ahead of myself as per usual.

Out early with the dogs who took advantage of the fact that Peckham Rye Common is devoid of other humans and canines and went absolutely barmy. Junior Dog is now bigger than both Middle and Senior but this doesn't prevent Senior Dog from telling him what to do. Half an hour later they all returned to my side in various stages of exhaustion. Home for breakfast and Mac telling me that "I will come shopping with you mummy" - David had suggested that I have a couple of hours to myself so he tried to convince Mac to stay at home. My wilful boy isn't having any of it - he's got the scent of shopping in his nostrils and also the aroma of one of these. David plans to read the paper and "channel hop" while we're gone.

So there we are, me and my boy, which is nice really. Conversations in the car ranged from "how do planes stay in the sky" to lengthy promises that if mummy is trying anything on in any of the shops, he will stay inside the changing room and not whip open the curtain at the crucial moment.

BhS first, nothing took my fancy but I only really like BhS at Christmas when it's full of things that you don't need but really, really want. Like those twee baskets of jam and conserves and a Beers of the World gift pack. Out into the sunshine and into Peacocks where Mac takes an unhealthy interest in the lingerie. "It's all pretty mummy" he says as I whisk him into the slipper section.

Back into the centre via Marks and Spencer where I buy three T-shirts, some socks for Mac and gave into pressure to buy him a pair of Thomas the Tank Engine slippers. I also had a mini panic about what to buy David for Valentines Day and spent an inordinate amount of time in Clinton's Cards trying to decide what mood to go with this year: flirty, serious, arty, romantic, jokey or downright filthy. In the end I get a card with a cat on the front and blank inside for my own message so I can create a mixture of all six. The present was harder and not helped by Mac informing me that he has "helped Daddy" with my present. Is trying to bribe your child into giving you a clue wrong? Yes, I thought it might be.

In the end I went for a Boots/Body Shop combo - aftershave from one and "sensuous"massage oil from the other. Back outside to buy armfuls of flowers - freesias and daffodils - before returning to the juice bar via WH Smiths where I bought this, this and this.

Conversations in the car on the way home included why flowers smell so nice and why shouting "get out of the way you stupid w****r" to a lingering jaywalker is not something that I should a) be proud of and b) tell daddy about.

Lunchtime and then a mooch around with the duster, Flash liquid and hoover and I'm suddenly gripped with the need to open every single window in the house. To air it, naturally. All three dogs huddle in their beds. Mac announces, at ten to three, that he wants to "do something mummy". It takes us until quarter to four to work out that what he wants to do is make something and by five past four we deduce that he would like to make some biscuits. Fortunately, thanks to the fact that I regularly read and generally devour blogs from Kelly and Silvana in the hope that they'll give me inspiration (they do), I have a well stocked "food making cupboard". Thus, at half past I'm putting a clingfilm wrapped ball of biscuit dough into the fridge and Mac has decided that he no longer wants to make biscuits but would far prefer emptying his toy box onto the upstairs landing. He soon put in an appearance when the biscuits were being taken out of the oven, all crumbly and cinnamonny. Yum.

Steak and jacket tatties for dinner, with salad AND croutons. A peaceful bathtime (as opposed to Friday night when Mac wanted to play "boats" just as the last of the water headed down the plughole and whined when I refused to refill the bath), a quick read of his new book and my son and heir was asleep faster than I could say "penguins". No win on the Lottery, not even one number. David announced that, as Mac has had quite a "girly" day today - he's not a chauvinist but worries slightly when Mac takes interest in "shopping, baking and polishing", they are having a "manly" day tomorrow. He's not quite sure yet what that will entail but watching football features quite heavily. Now, there's a surprise!

Friday, 8 February 2008

Weighty issues

Bea rang just as Peter Kay was finishing on Channel 4. David handed the phone to me without a word and I said the fateful words "Hi Bea, what's up?"

"We have just been thrown out of Weight Watchers. Asked to leave. Physically escorted from the community centre. Banned from coming back. Ever. Enormous Au Pair has not lost a single pound. Oh I knew something was up when she claimed period pains last week and a bad head cold the week before. She's put on seven and a half pounds. In a fortnight."
"I have never been so ashamed in all my life. Mrs Carter-Smythe's Lady That Does was there and will no doubt report back. EAP had not only put on seven and a half pounds she damn well nearly broke the scales as she lumbered onto them. When the Caring Group Leader informed her that she'd put weight on, her face took on this repulsed look, you know, the look you reserve for a can of tuna. Then EAP lolloped back to the seat where I was cowering, dived into my bag and came out with a six pack of Kit Kats."

"I didn't know where to put myself, but the look of pure horror on all of the faces was enough to propel me off my seat. The ungrateful wench must have sneaked them into my bag when we were paying for petrol. I certainly didn't buy them and certainly didn't pay for them so now I'm a thief as well and won't be able to show my face at the Jet garage ever again. Caring Group Leader was looking physically repulsed as EAP shovelled wafer biscuit into her greedy grasping mouth. It was then that we were asked to leave and the Building Caretaker was called. He took one look at EAP and nearly turned the water hoses on us. I am absolutely furious! Do you know what she did when we were at the traffic lights by Spyros' Place? Had the audacity and bare faced cheek to ask me to pull over so she could get a large doner and chips! I am absolutely livid and am thinking about taking her to Harley Street, something's not right obviously, when someone can eat a six pack of Kit Kats in seven minutes flat?"

The dialling tone was sounding in my ear for a few seconds before I realised she'd hung up. I wasn't too concerned: my role in these one sided conversations is to listen and to ensure that she's actually hung up and not just pausing for breath before I click on the "end call" button.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Planning and Porpoises

I’m known for my planning. For getting everything sorted out and everything on track. All at the same time. Shall I explain? Don and Lorna arrive in London on the evening of 1 March which just happens to be the day of Mac’s fourth birthday. I know this for a fact because I was there for the inaugural one. Mac is fully expecting that I top, surpass and generally out-do the wonderful birthday outing he had last year and he is so certain of this, he’s not giving me any clues as to what he’d like to do. Whatever he does, he wants to do it with the full complement of friends and family. I’ve taken to throwing questions at him in the hope that I get a clue. On our way to nursery yesterday morning I said “Look darling, look at the road menders! Do you like mending roads?” in the hope that if he said yes I could book a bulk ticket to DiggerLand and be done with it. He answered in the negative and shuddered enough to suggest that he will be a white collar worker when he’s older.

The lack of birthday party inspiration is not in itself a real problem – something will pop up eventually. The problem lies in the fact that I’ve got to be up and ready to take our Canadian visitors to their first port of call bright and early on Sunday morning - we’re off on a trip up the Thames – and so any birthday activity the previous day should leave me bright eyed and bushy tailed enough to do so. All previous birthday parties have left me in a heap for two days – even his first party managed to render me exhausted for a day afterwards. He slept all the way through it, I overdosed on jelly and ice cream. “Tell him that the boat trip is his birthday present” Charlie suggested when she called me earlier. Nice idea but it wouldn’t work. Besides, Bea is essential at any family gathering and she doesn’t “do” boats and “certainly not on the Thames darling”.

“Why don’t we just have something here?” David asked as I had a mild panic at the kitchen table last night. Hm, somehow I think that that would fall fairly short of his expectations. “It’s ridiculous, the way parents are forced to be more and more inventive and extravagant with their children’s birthday parties” he grumbled, secure in the knowledge that any Birthday Party Failure would not be deemed as his fault. “Matt used to be happy with a couple of sandwiches and a game of Blind Man’s Buff” he went on gloomily as he wiped down my surfaces. How things change, my sort-of-step-son spent his last birthday party face down in a chow mein after drinking enough vodka shots to disable the most hardiest of Russians.

Don and Lorna’s visit means that I’ve had to arrange to have Mac collected from nursery every afternoon and have at least a couple of events that he can join in on after nursery. A trip on the London Eye is one and the other is a schlep over to the Natural History Museum – David’s quite excited about that himself. I hope to God the Canadians like what I’m arranging – I got an email response to my tentative schedule and Don said they were both “really excited about the treats in store”. I hope so, they’re paying for it. They’re currently in Edinburgh “soaking up all the culture”.

Lydia was brisk and to the point this morning. “You can’t tell me that with all of this….” here she gestured at the teering pile of leaflets and brochures and travel guides strewn across the kitchen table “…that you can’t find something to amuse a four year old child, assorted friends and a handful of adults!”. She’s right of course, she generally is. She’s also a bit down at the moment because Thomas Samuel Michael Robinson-Hoult is being christened this Sunday. Understandably she’s boycotting the event. Even though she received an invitation.

Yes, for her soon-to-be-ex-husband Mike and his bit on the side Susan (soon to be the new Mrs Robinson as soon as the divorce comes through apparently) invited the woman he cheated on and dumped to the christening of their love-child. It fair boggles the mind. We were invited too, as were Jane Opposite, Ruby Over the Road and Jill With The Purple Door – the latter is the only one going and has promised to report back. No doubt Marjorie is putting it on the agenda for the next TANA meeting....must actually go to that one.

“Matthew is taking me out for the day” Lydia said gloomily, picking off her nail varnish. “That’s nice!” I over enthused but with the sickening knowledge that Matt’s idea of a nice day out is a pie and pint in a pub followed by a round of golf. “Hm, the London Aquarium” she snorted “presumably so I can imagine Mike swimming with the fishes”.

They say that inspiration hits you when you least expect it, don’t they?

Monday, 4 February 2008

Ayres' hot cross buns!!!

Run, walk, cycle, drive, hop, skip, jump along to Ayres on Nunhead Lane......their hot cross buns are hot and ready to go! David and Mac popped in on their way home from nursery and bought some of the lovely beauties (he's definitely in my good books now!).

Yes I took this picture with my new camera and yes Mr Ayres.......these are two of your yummy buns!

Picture perfect

I have a wonderful man, it’s official. He’s not at work today but went out this morning on a mysterious errand, with a smile on his face. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it (can’t think why, I moan about everything else going wrong!) but my digital camera decided to go on the blink last weekend. With two brand spanking new batteries nestling in the battery compartment, the “replace battery” light flashes incessantly. Four different sets/combinations of batteries later I gave up the ghost and checked the guarantee. Which expired at the end of December. Isn’t that just typical? After a consultation with a camera-fixing place they informed me that to repair it would cost more than I’d paid for the camera in the first place.

I’m lost without my camera which is silly really because I don’t use it as much as I should. The ideal thing to do would be to illustrate this blog with my own pics rather than typing the words “A21 road sign” into Google and picking the best picture. Not that I’d go all the way to the A21 to take a picture for my blog but I could certainly use it to take pics of other things. And then I could begin a picture library and be one of those annoying people who go round snapping at everything. Or, maybe not. Certainly with my forthcoming Tour Guide duties coming up I’ll need a decent camera. But one that is less….fiddly… use. My now defunct camera took so long to upload pictures after following a ridiculously longwinded procedure that it was easier to Google and forget the home-grown pictures altogether. Apart from that one that’s appeared at the top of my blog – but that took me five minutes to sort out. All of this has been discussed at length over the past week, websites visited and “ease of use” instructions compared.

Anyway, to get back to today. My morning, after I’d taken Mac to nursery, was taken up with listening to what Marjorie got up to with her surplus of Ann Summers goodies and a Barry White soundtrack over the weekend. Hair curling stuff indeed. I then rang David to a) find out if he would be back for lunch and b) to see if I could work out where he was. He said that a) he’d be back at 2pm and b) it was very noisy. Hm.

Anyway, 2pm arrived as did my husband, grinning from ear to ear. He’d been, he said, “shopping”. I then started thinking thoughts along the line of “oooh, Valentine’s Day presents!” which made me grin a fair bit too. We had lunch and then retired to the living room for the three quarters of an hour we had before Mac had to be collected. “Oh, I nearly forgot!” David said as I fulumphed down onto the sofa along with Junior Dog. “Here…..” he said, handing me a glossy bag containing a square box containing this.

My squeal of excitement far exceeded Frank’s alleged bellow of delight when he saw Marjorie’s goodies. I clutched the camera and my husband alternately and immediately got down to reading the instruction manual whilst gabbling my thanks and planting kisses on David’s still beaming face.

“And no, this isn’t your Valentine’s present….that’s still to come.” He said, picking up the paper and flicking it open.

Have I mentioned that I have a wonderful man? And that he knows me so well?

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Returns and arrivals

My super special saucy package arrived "express delivery" yesterday - David practically mugged the Royal Mail driver who was smirking because he'd already delivered a similar looking package to Jane Opposite (who was standing on her doorstep, ripping open packaging, waving contents at me and screeching "My Bill's in for a good night tonight!!") and Marjorie Stewart (three trips from van to front door - I kid you not). David cared not a jot - he managed a quick peek before his mother and Margaret descended the stairs for breakfast and his beam was bigger than the godawful T-shirt Amelia presented me with.

Yes, the Dublin Duo have returned. Poor Jack Next Door left his house at 6 o'clock on Friday night and didn't get back until gone midnight. During their week away I averaged about 11 calls a day from Amelia and Margaret but could either one of them pick up a phone to tell us that their flight had been delayed? Of course not. Jack was left hanging around from 8.25pm (when they were due to land) until ten to eleven when they finally came out of baggage claim. On ringing Ryan Air at 8.30, David reported that they'd been delayed, Amelia had her mobile switched off and Jack was on his second coffee. When he finally had the intrepid travellers in his car and heading back to London he rang to ask what he should do with them. What could I say? I couldn't ask him to divert to Sevenoaks could I? Although I wished I had.

They both bustled through the door at half past twelve, woke up the entire household and presented us with presents that I'd be too ashamed to send to the jumble. Apart from my T-shirt (lurid green with the scribblings of a mad man front and back and about six sizes too big), David was presented with a three pack of pants in sludge green, an Irish rugby shirt and a condiments set. Mackenzie did slightly better with a nicer T-shirt, a leprachaun toy and a set of postcards. Jack thanked them both for his Guinness gift set and went home, no doubt to collapse into bed. Meanwhile, we had to get them off their Irish high so David and I could actually get to bed. They, on the other hand, were intent on sitting up with us in the living room telling us all about their adventures. Amelia was the main story teller with Margaret chipping in the odd anecdote and correcting Amelia which started off a row. Their opening words were "We got to the end of your road on Monday morning......"

Yesterday, after we had taken delivery of my super special package, David spent about an hour trying to convince them that they really should head off for home. He even went as far as to start putting their cases in the boot and appeared, at quarter past eleven, in his jacket and jangling his car keys. Amelia shot him a look and asked Margaret to check in the fridge "to see what's for dinner". I must have had a pyschic moment in Sainsbury's on Friday because I bought a double pack of Penguins with 50% extra. I'd never normally do this but mum or Gladys were obviously with me for did I need every single crumb of them by the time Casualty started.

Still. It's now twenty to five and David has just called - he's on the A21 on his way home having deposited the Dynamic Duo in Sevenoaks. Mac has worn himself out in the garden (a cunning plan hatched by David after he took a closer look at the contents of the package) and is all but begging me to send him to bed early. The poor child is almost face down in his fish pie as I type (laptops are so handy - can supervise tea time and terrorise cyber space). He also showed an interest in my package and asked me if I had a "dead bird in there mummy?".

"What did you buy?" Bea asked me earlier when she rang to complain that the seams in her stockings "are extremely wonky and I can't straighten them" and the "apricot massage oil smells more like blueberries". Put it this way, I told her, it's not the sort of underwear you'd wear every day - unless of course, you were Dita Von Teese.

E is for....

Thank you very much to the truly great Potty Mummy who has bestowed a lovely honour upon yours truly. After a very trying weekend this has cheered me up enough to put down my Penguin multipack and now, after I choose my eight (yes I know I'm some missing but four of my faves have already got one!) I get to visit their blogs to alert them!

So, I'd now like to alert Blossom Cottage , Crystal Jigsaw, Kelly, Gwen, Landcroft House, Muttering and Meanderings, Rilly Super and Mary.

All about me

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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.