Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Flipping hell

I generally don't do Pancake Day. David does the whisking and the cooking and flipping but he's out at a cricket club meeting. I perused the shelves of ready made mixes yesterday, even dallied with buying those little Scotch pancake things, you know, the ones with the sultanas. I even Googled for a recipe for pancakes - yes, I am that much of a novice.

I measured, weighed, sploshed and whisked. I heated the pan with oil watched by my devoted son and three drooling hounds. And then came the moment to flip. I wimped out of the first flip and used the spatula to turn it. It resembled an omelette. Still, Mac made yummy noises and squirted maple syrup manically. My second pancake I flipped. No, it didn't hit the ceiling, it didn't even stick to the pan.

Tip: don't flip pancakes in bare feet.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Growing pains

A week today, my baby boy will be five. How is this possible? How? I found a pair of his bootees the other day and sobbed for ten minutes because he'll never wear them again. Quite apart from the fact that they're far too small for him now, they're yellow. And he hates "lellow mummy".

Now that my five year old baby is growing up he doesn't need me as much. I felt this oh so keenly last Sunday when he began football training at the park. David and I stood with other parents and grandparents watching as our pride and joys ran round in the mud. After his initial assessment done by a man who looked and sounded like a Sargeant Major ("C'mon boys, keep those knees up!") we received the outcome whilst the child himself stood gasping for air with his hopeful colleagues. It was agreed that, going on the initial assessment, Mac would play in midfield "until his true position has uncovered itself". It turned out that all of the boys were to play in midfield which prompted David to make the remark that "Millwall do that". Sargeant Major did not look impressed.

During one game in which all boys were encouraged to "shoot and defend" Mac fell over quite spectacularly after receiving a well aimed tackle from a child at least a foot taller than him. My heart stopped before leaping into my mouth: David had to physically restrain me from running onto the pitch, picking him up and "kissing it better".

My boy stood up, shook himself and very visibly pulled himself together before carrying on. This was a child that, on the Friday before, walked into a wall (too busy chatting to his friends) and came running to me sobbing. Then he sustained no bruises (other than his pride) but had to have a cuddle and the promise of ice cream for pudding before he stopped wailing. Last Sunday he acquired four bruises, one cut leg and a swelling cheek and wore them all with pride with not even a nod to my maternal instinct to smother, look after and kiss better. Even when I drenched him in TCP he didn't cry.

Needless to say, David took him on his own this morning.

We're taking a handful of his friends to the cinema on Saturday afternoon - the majority of them want to see Hotel for Dogs but some of them are just going for the chance to eat pick 'n' mix all afternoon. I'm more than a little wary of this - Mac attended a birthday party last Wednesday. When I dropped him off he was clean, neat and tidy. When I picked him up he was scruffy, sweaty, tearful and bouncing off the walls. Dawn had similar problems with Jonathan so had called the mother of the birthday boy. "Oh yes!" she had told Dawn "My husband's mother dropped in and she'd bulk bought sweeties as a treat!" The "treat" left my son with a headache and a twitch that didn't go away until Thursday afternoon.

But now it's me with the twitch. QVC have an hour of Philosophy now and so I'm off to stock up on my own treats!

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Imelda Staunton....

.....as Vera Drake looks everso like my Great Granny Carstairs. Right down to the floral pinny and ever-present cup of tea.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Blue Alexander Henry Roman

Scarlett has a brother, Darren has a son and Janey has "piles the size of frigging grapefruits - when he came out, three of the little buggers popped out as well". Still, mother, father, sister, baby - and piles - are all doing just fine after a seventeen hour labour.

Bea has severe doubts about the history of the names for the new arrival - "let's hope that they don't provide another sibling.....whatever next? Yellow? Purple? I shudder to think darling".

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Very Valentine

I hope you're all enjoying a lovely Valentine's Day? I know that Frank and Marjorie are, all you can hear are Tarzan yells and giggling and their milk is still on the doorstep. Frank informed me yesterday that he'd "bought up" Ann Summers and asked me if I thought Marjorie would prefer "squirty cream or Nutella?"

My lovely sister and her husband are having "his and hers" spa treatments in some remote spot in the country, leaving both of their au pairs to mind the fort. Bea rang on Monday to confess she'd bought some "naughty lingerie" for their night in five star luxury sans children. "It's red and black and there are.....well....frills!" she giggled.

Matt turned up yesterday afternoon, a look of panic on his face, demanding to know what he should get for "a slightly mental woman". I suggested a gigantic bouquet of flowers, a box of expensive chocolates and a nice gooey card - but not too gooey. Lydia is still at that stage where she cries at the drop of a hat. "She's not right you know" he added, tapping the side of his head, as he left the house.

Charlie rang this morning to ask me which of the five cards she received were from me "or any one else who should know better". When I told her that nobody had sent her any cards this year - as a direct result of her stroppiness last year when the padded card she had hoped was from Sexy Surgeon was in fact from Saskia as a joke - she went all girly and said she had to go off and do some handwriting analysis.
Jack Next Door headed off to Sevenoaks and Amelia this morning (with strict instructions from me not to bring her back) with a box of Milk Tray and a bunch of roses. Jane Opposite, now fully recovered from her lipsuction, planned to dazzle "my Bill" when he gets back from Parkhurst. At this, my eyebrows shot up my face and into my hairline "Oh God no, he's only there visiting!" she hooted as we watched Jack's ancient car limp out of The Avenue. "Nah, his old boss is in there, shame really, lovely man. He kept Koi carp."

Janey - due to give birth any day now - received a card from Darren (To My Wife) which he had signed with a big question mark. "Is he trying to be funny?" she demanded not ten minutes ago when she rang to give me her daily update. At least she's not here, as she was before she had Scarlett. She also got the oh-so romantic present of a hot water bottle because the small of her back "gets really cold". I asked what she'd bought Darren and she gave an unladylike snort "I am the size of a f***ing horse and can't even get into my downstairs toilet without a struggle - I'm unlikely to be skipping around Clinton's am I?"

As for me, I've been a lucky girl this year. Breakfast in bed, a lovely card, beautiful flowers and "a little something for later". My present of a lovely warm red jumper looks paltry in comparison but he's wearing it whilst watching the rugby AND he's promised to make some tea in a minute while I just sit down and read my book......bliss!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Bea does IKEA

Bea rang me yesterday morning in hysterics "So Thin Now You Can See Bones Au Pair has come back for a week and is livid to find Flavia in the house! She's gone very South American and keeps talking like the Mafia! Darling, you have to rescue me, the children are out at the Natural History Museum and Stephen is determined to watch the rugby at your house and I can't cope with all this on my own!"

Her need to escape the Au Pair Face Off was very intense - she agreed to meet Charlie and I at IKEA in Croydon. "Bea's coming?" said Charlie when I finished BlueToothing. "Yup" I said wearily as I headed past Selhurst Park. "To IKEA? To Croydon?" Charlie went on, flopping back in her seat as if winded. Bea does not do IKEA or Croydon - a school concert at Fairfield Halls was an exception but she needed a lie down in a darkened room afterwards. "Yup" I added grimly. "Bloody hell fire" Charlie breathed.

We aired our plans briefly before we arrived "Keep her away from the fabric section - she won't be able to cope with the colour schemes", "Don't suggest she actually buy anything." and "If she gets too imperious, we can always pretend we don't know her".

We had agreed to meet in the cafe section, Bea promised she'd find a "salesperson" if she got lost. She didn't, she assured me, as she grabbed me into a bear hug when we found her sitting over a black coffee. "Darling, they don't do latte!" she said, eyes wide. "And they serve a full breakfast for just 97 pence! How on earth can they do that? I asked for muesli and got short shrift."

Charlie returned with two hot chocolates and another black coffee and we outlined our plans for the visit. Simple really: a mooch round but Charlie really needs some "pretty vases", a couple of fold away chairs and some "kitchen things". I didn't really want anything in particular but already my eye had been caught by a woman who was stacking some rather gorgeous cushions in her trolley. "Are you buying anything Bea?" Charlie asked, wincing as she broke one of the cardinal rules. "Buying?" Bea's eyes lit up briefly but then her thoughts turned to the massacre at home. "It was awful! She's got a bit heftier than she was but Still Skinny and Everso Tanned - she took one look at Flavia who was making pasta for supper and I thought she was going to eat her. She snarled!" She shook her head as if to get rid of the image in her brain. "All this and a major decision to make!" Charlie looked blank until Bea informed her that her kitchen "is a year old now, so old fashioned so I'm auditioning designers. Stephen's having a fit at the cost but, as I said to him, I can't be doing with an MFI lash-up, not with all the entertaining he expects me to do"

She returned to the original topic of conversation with a sigh. "She's back for a week - to see how the land is lying apparently - before she decides whether or not to return to us. It was then that Flavia appeared covered in flour and asking me if I wanted her to make the ravioli I like so much. Still Skinny and Everso Tanned Au Pair dropped her flight bag and looked at me as if I had suggested she eat the contents." Charlie was clearly itching to get the tale of woe out so we could head off shopping "So, then what?". Bea dabbed her lips with a paper napkin and searched around in her massive Mulberry for her lipgloss. "She said 'Ah, I see you 'ave the imposter' and gave Flavia a filthy look. I said that Flavia has been here since she went to Argentina and has done a fantastic job, at which Still Skinny and Everso Tanned Au Pair started muttering in Spanish and started texting somebody - I dread to think who - and stalking around the house as if she owned it".

"It was then that I rang you darling - I want to keep Flavia but feel a duty to Still Skinny and Everso Tanned Au Pair. I dread to think what they're doing now. Still, if there had been blood shed, Stephen would have called by now". At this she peered at her Blackberry and allowed us to steer her round the store.

She found the furniture "interesting and affordable" but refused to believe that the leather sofa that took up most of a display stage was real leather. "Darling!" she said in knowing tones as she skittered off to look at the sheepskin rugs.

Stephen rang while we were meandering around the Marketplace to inform her that the "girls are getting on like a house on fire!" She rallied after this and seemed almost like her old self. "Lovely girl, please don't buy those cushions, faux suede is soooo Seventies!"

"I refuse to have a dinner service with the words IKEA stamped on the bottom" she said as she whisked us through the kitchen section, alienating a newly married couple from Coulsdon who were deliberating between the white and lime green set.

During our Oasis walkaround (pictures, frames, lovely little things) she got very excited about an Audrey Hepburn canvas and loaded it into our trolley as a "little present for Flavia". For Still Skinny and Everso Tanned Au Pair she bought a smaller canvas of something indistinguishable but "it could be horses.....she loves horses" and marched through to the checkouts, shuddering as we had to negotiate what was "little more than a warehouse darling, full of packing cases, forklift trucks and sweaty men in aprons".

Once we'd paid and loaded everything into the car we broached the subject of lunch. "Oooh, yes, where?" she said, carelessly chucking Audrey into her empty boot. Charlie and I both looked back at IKEA. "Lunch? In there?" she said, looking aghast. She looked even more aghast once we'd steered her into the restaurant, deposited her at a (shared) table and asked her if she wanted meatballs. "Meatballs?" she queried faintly but rallied when she saw that the family sharing our table had a prawn and egg salad. Once she'd had a glass of organic apple juice and had nibbled on a rocket leaf she relaxed enough to comment that she'd had a "lovely day so far" and that IKEA "wasn't as bad" as she'd thought.

"Although darling girls......." she said as we prepared to depart the car park "Please don't tell anyone of note that, well, you know......" We knew what she meant and watched as she shot out of the car park as if distancing herself.

She rang me at nearly 5pm to tell me that "the canvases went down very well", "the prawns are repeating themselves with alarming regularity" and that the Au Pair Stand-Off was more of a damp squib. "They've discovered they have a mutual love of R&B and horror films and have gone out to a club" Bea added that she's still no closer to sorting out which au pair goes and which one stays but at least it looks as if the decision is going to be an amicable one.

"Oh and darling, thank you so much for putting an IKEA blue bag into my boot - Stephen is delighted I've 'discovered' it and wants to go back next weekend to look at kitchens."

Thursday, 5 February 2009


Thank you Potty Mummy for tagging me to do this.......as you've probably guessed by now, I do like this sort of thing!

But it brings up, for me, the same issue that Potty has in that I don't post pics of my family or my dogs or even my friends - unless they are abstract and more than a bit random. Hence the pic of Charlie at her birthday lunch in this post. Now, you wouldn't automatically go up to a random stranger, on the basis of this picture, and say, ooh did you know that Nunhead Mum tells us all your secrets? Which is the beauty of Photo Shop I suppose.

In the same way - not that my family are instantly recognisable and are likely to get paps stalking our every movement - I wouldn't dream of posting a "proper" pic of me or mine on my blog. Quite apart from the fact that they don't know I blog (I know, not even David) it would somehow feel wrong to put a "face to the name" so to speak.

Anyway. Enough of all that.

This is what you need to do

Go to the 4th folder in your computer where you store your pictures
Pick the 4th picture in that folder
Explain the picture
Tag 4 people to do the same.

Quite happily, the fourth picture in the fourth folder on my computer is one of those arty (arsey?) shots that I seem to go in for when my friends and family screech "Oh God, she's got the camera out again!"

The scene: my kitchen. The event: my last but one birthday party. I made (!) my very own birthday cake which is a variation on Nigella's Chocolate Malteser Cake. This is my SMMR cake which sounds very much like a vaccination but is actually chocolate heaven. Its the basic Chocolate Malteser Cake but, as well as Maltesers has Minstrels, Revels and Smarties poured over the top.

David is doing the honours for myself, Charlie, Saskia, Andy, Adam, Bea and Mac. Stephen, Ian and Caitlin were, at that precise moment, winging their way over to our house from an educational trip to the Natural History Museum. I think we managed to save them some but can't be sure. The corkscrew pictured was overworked that day! The highlighter is there because we have a highlighter in every room of the house - it's an accountant thing apparently. Do you like my plates? People cry "Square plates?" at the mere sight of them.

So, my four tag-ees are as follows

Bringing up Charlie

Dulwich Mum

Landcroft House

The Bush Babies


Monday, 2 February 2009

Snow joke

Well, this is fun isn't it? The heaviest snowfall in London in....is it one decade or two? David, who loves a good crisis, woke me up at half past six to inform me that there's "no way" he's going into work today. "No trains, no buses!" he announced cheerfully.

I love snow. No, I do, seriously. But only if I don't have to spend that much time in it. I took the dogs out last night and they went mental. Well, Junior Dog did - Middle Dog trudged merrily along as Junior flew round like a thing possessed and Senior Dog gave the impression that he had far better things to do than walk down a snowy road at quarter past ten. The charade was repeated this morning, this time with Mac who is off school as it's shut. Junior Dog ran round and round in circles barking at Middle Dog who was more interested in trying to catch the snowflakes whilst Senior Dog sat down on a warm manhole cover and refused point blank to move.

So, we're in for the duration (even though Junior Dog has just presented me with his lead and collar for the third time since half past seven), I've made leek and potato soup, David has been despatched to Ayres to panic buy doughnuts and returned to inform me that there were "no croissants, no rolls, no french sticks, no sausage rolls......" I interrupted him with "Were there doughnuts?". When he nodded and waved a bag of six of the little devils at me, I felt a wave of calm wash over me.

There is a chance - only a small one mind, that I may be addicted.

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.