Sunday, 21 June 2009

A lazy summer day

What does that mean to you? If somebody said "Hey, have a lazy summers day, just you, all by yourself, go for it!" Would you take off to the nearest beach, lay flat out on the shore and bake? Would you meander through a sunlit meadow sniffing buttercups? Would you take yourself off to the nearest shopping centre and buy buy buy suntan lotion, bikinis and sarongs? I'm not just asking for effect by the way, I'm genuinely interested.

Back in the days when I only had myself and a rather mangy looking goldfish to think about (my parents brought us up to be independent from an early age: I thrown into the deep end of a swimming pool as my first "swimming lesson". I learnt bloody fast I can tell you) a lazy summers day meant a variety of things, depending on my age.

At six it was Screwball ice-creams from the ice cream van and staying out late in the street (Bea never did this and called me an urchin) playing Knock Down Ginger and 40/40. At thirteen it meant trying to wangle an invitation to one of Bea's Super Summer Sizzlers (a gaggle of late teens cavorting around Peckham Rye Park, each with their own Walkman playing their own tunes and trying to be cool with a capital C). At sixteen it was avoiding all contact with stupid boys whilst trying to tan myself to a gorgeous brown armed with a bottle of Ambre Solaire Factor 40 forced upon me by my mother. At twenty five (and with my first serious boyfriend, what can I say, I was a late starter) my ideal lazy summers day was to waft romantically around in all manner of white broderie anglaise eating strawberries whilst watching my Then Beloved play cricket manfully. It never worked. The strawberries attracted the wasps and, as I wasn't exactly waiflike, I looked like an exploded sofa lolling around under an umbrella.

My first summer with David was interesting to say the least. He only has to get an inkling of sunshine and turns a lovely mahogany brown. I go pink, then red, then sort of teak coloured. This was wonderfully demonstrated with our first lazy summers day together: we went sailing. Me, on a boat. My first time no less. I doused myself in Ambre Solaire, pooh-poohed the offer of a life jacket and lay out on the deck in what I thought was an alluring post. I have pictorial evidence to show that I looked like a rapidly pinkening beached whale. After a couple of hours surfing the high seas (okay, the bit off Southampton) we returned to shore.......him gorgeously brown, me pink, shuffling and distinctly overheated and sunstruck.

Summers after that, and before Mac, were spent, I seem to remember either watching cricket with the curtains pulled or me finding wonderfully inventive ways of soothing my sunburn.

Our first summer with Mac was traumatic. He was a very fair baby and, during our first week away with him in August, him aged not even six months, David the well seasoned and well weathered father and me a 32 year still in search of a perfect tan we all aged considerably. Firstly, babies don't understand that the sun is hot. I placed him in a cotton all in one outfit, plonked a hat on his head and perched a parasol over him for our first lazy summer day as a family. Within twenty feet of our walk he had wrenched off his hat, screamed until we removed the parasol and was sick all over his cotton outfit. Newquay residents got used to seeing us only venture out after sundown.

Paddling pools feature heavily in both my childhood and Mac's - David claims he was never allowed one but Matthew suggests that they hadn't been invented then. Matthew is just bitter, David informs me, because he was never allowed another one after he attempted to drown his then best friend in one aged four.

At the moment we've got three on the go. One for Mac - "the poople one is mine" he informs
the dogs who have the other two. Yes. You read right. Mac has the purple one, Senior and Middle Dog share the yellow one (Senior is not really fussed but doesn't like to feel like he's missing out) and Junior Dog has the blue one all to himself. This came about after last year and the Great Paddling Pool Fight when all three dogs tried to squash themselves into one small plastic pool and caused a tidal wave all over the lavender.

Anyway, I digress. Which at this stage in the blog should come as no surprise to any of you.

The reason I'm asking is because I had one of my own yesterday. A lazy summers day sans husband, child and hounds. David had agreed to take everyone to see his friend who has just bought a boat in Rye. After instructing David to....

a) not let Mac out of his sight
b) not let the dogs out of his sight
c) not let Mac on the boat or in the sea
d) not let dogs on the boat or to go too far our in the sea
d) have a relaxing day

.....I was left alone. Just me. The whole day stretching promisingly ahead, just for me, all mine, a lazy summer day.

What did I do?

I put the washing on, put some washing out. Watched Friday night's repeat of Big Brother. Had a Magnum ice lolly while channel hopping. Rang Charlie for a gossip. Ate another Magnum ice lolly. Had some filo prawns for lunch. Watched a film, Shutter. Killed a wasp that had the audacity to fly in. Wondered what all my boys were doing. Ate some peanuts. Received phone call from David and Mac who grassed his father up soooo much "Mummy, I went on the boat and droved it a little way and Senior Dog fell in and Junior Dog wouldn't come back to the shore and Daddy shouted at us all a bit".

Then I had a bath with the door open whilst eating strawberries and drinking Dr Pepper with ice. Ate another Magnum ice lolly (in my defence, they were the mini ones - note past tense). Had a scone with strawberry jam and cream whilst watching Only Fools and Horses. Mused a bit about what delights are awaiting me on the Philosophy hours next weekend on QVC. Received another phone call from David to ask me if seaweed was bad for dogs. Had a chat with Marjorie Stewart as she collected the lottery money "Aw, you all alone today? You could have popped in, we've been watching old holiday home movies!". Pondered for a while if Marjorie was in fact right in suggesting that I'd wasted my Lazy Summer Day. Decided that she wasn't, rootled round in the freezer for the last of the Magnums, cranked up Only Fools and Horses on the G.O.L.D and waited the return of the travellers.

The next Lazy Summers Day I get, I'll do something summery. Apart from eating ice-cream that is.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

It's official.....

.....healthy eating is bad for you. Seriously. The Healthy Mob are dropping like flies all around me - Bea was on the receiving end of a particularly dodgy nettle batch at the weekend and spent Sunday "in agony darling, I think they stung every inch of me as I digested them". Janey broke a tooth on a stick of celery on Wednesday, Scarlett caused a major scare on Friday when she broke out in a rash after eating nearly an entire punnet of strawberries - Janey "thought it was that illness, y'know, menin-wotsit, until I found the missing box of strawbs" and Matthew choked on a radish on Sunday and had to be whacked "really quite hard and over and over again" on the back Lydia reported to me this morning.

David is suffering terribly with wind after our dinner of salad last night - he insisted on having the three bean couscous with it - and my boss rang me this morning to see if I could work this Friday and apologised for lisping - "I had athparaguth latht night and it'th made all my lipth thwell up - I look like Lethlie Ath".

So I don't feel in the thlighetht, sorry, slightest bit guilty as I munch my way through my Ayres Chicken Tikka doorstep. With lettuce. Well, you've got to try haven't you?

Monday, 8 June 2009

This is my life

Well, it’s been a while. A combination of things have prevented me sitting down at my PC for an uninterrupted length of time and blogging. I haven’t even found any time for any online shopping (pause to steady erratic heartbeat) because, all of a sudden, my life went a bit offline. I was thinking about all this yesterday whilst lying in a bath of Philosophy Green Apple bubbles and, by the time I finished, my bubbles were flat, my toes resembling prunes and my head bonging. And this song was going round and round my brain.

So, to make some sense of it all, I’ve written it all down….read on if you haven’t got a nervous twitch, an aversion to chaos and have half an hour to spare.

My boys
Mac is still progressing with his Terrible Twos three years late. He will no now longer eat anything green as he is convinced they will grow in his “belly and kill me”. I blame his father who has been spinning bedtime stories of aliens and other life forms. He has decided that he’s too old for kisses, cuddles, tummy tickles and being called Chocolate Muffin. He actually muttered the word “Mother” last week which brought me up short. My name is mummy!

David is working hard and surviving (just) the slings and arrows of misfortune. Two account directors have been given “extended gardening leave” which got us all worried until David revealed that they’ve been not only cooking the books but burning them to pieces. He’s continuing to keep his nose clean and has started to embrace homeopathic remedies for his headache, ably assisted by my beloved sister Bea who has shunned “Nurofen for nettles darling”.
My home life
Having successfully diverted a move to Tunbridge Wells things are settled in Nunhead. We’re still looking for a weekend cottage/caravan/shed (listen, I’m not fussy any more) and are also redecorating as we’ve decided, after a year, that we don’t like the hallway wall colour. I was back at work the week before half term for the whole week, 9 to 5 and it nearly killed me. Mac was taken to and from school by Flavia, Bea’s au pair and flourished on proper Italian homemade pasta. He now wants Flavia to move in with us.

Bea and Bea and Family
My sister has become all New Age and is wafting around the house in a caftan and smoking incense most days. Gone is the pill popping sister of old (purely medicinal you understand, she never did rattle when she walked) and, in her place, we have someone who find drinking boiled nettles “wonderfully refreshing”. She’s full of sage advice about stress-busting techniques, has instructed her housekeeper to keep the radio on in the kitchen “24/7 darling to stimulate the chi” and has acquired a small black kitten which she has yet to name as she’s waiting for the pussy cat to “tell her what she wishes to be called”. She’s only like this at home you understand, I rang her at work the other day and overheard her, well, bollocking (the only word that suits the diatribe) a delivery boy who’d messed up her wet decaff and organic biscuit order. She was snarling when she finally got round to me. How she lives a dual life, I’ll never know.

Stephen and the children are getting used to finding mummy draped in diaphanous silk, chanting ominously and distributing bonhomie and good cheer. Stephen is benefiting from all of the massage oil and essential oils and, when they’re not being worn, the children play tents with the caftans.

Lydia, Matthew and Freddie
Lydia is becoming, she says, one of those mothers that she used to despise. She’s struggling to cope with motherhood “at her time of life” and yo-yo’s between pity and admiration for that “old biddy who recently had twins”. She uses the television as a baby sitter, sings the Cbeebies jingles like she used to hum Beyonce and has taken to baby talking Matthew because she can’t quite get out of the habit. When I suggested that she talk to baby Freddie normally you’d have thought I had suggested she boil and eat baby Freddie. “He’s a baby!” she squealed, clutching her pride and joy to her chest and rocking him manically. “Aren’t oo de most booful boysie in da whole wide worldie?”

When I pointed out that baby Freddie is, even at this young age, fixing her with a puzzled look she sulked for a week.

Matthew feels she needs to get out and about a bit more and gets extremely exasperated with she recoils in horror at having to take her baby boy out in the horrible harsh world. “She’s not only wrapping him in cotton wool, she’s adding bubble wrap” he said gloomily on the phone to his father.

Freddie himself is blooming, a proper boy with an alarming habit of trying to fix onto the breasts of every woman who holds him. “Just like his father” Lydia says sourly. I get the impression that all is not well but don’t want to interfere. It’s a fine line, says David, between supporting and smothering. Amelia is beside herself, she does like a good meddle.

Janey, Darren, Scarlett and Blue
The other little family are “coming on a bundle” as Darren’s mum is wont to say. Scarlett is currently being touted round all of the modelling agencies with Blue bringing up the rear and Janey living in a world of child stars and stage school applications. Admittedly, Scarlett is a regular little poser but Auntie Ivy is spouting doom and gloom about the prospect of drug addiction for her favourite granddaughter. Janey is oblivious to her mothers worries and is imagining a double spread in Hello “when Darren signs to a proper club”. Darren’s prospects of signing for a “proper club” took a nose dive on the last game of the season when he scored two own goals and was then sent off for calling the referee “a bleeping, parping moron”. David went to the game and he said it was the funniest thing he’d ever seen.

My dad has rediscovered his carpentry hobby – you can’t move round his house for bits of wood stuck to other bits of wood that will fit in with that bit he’s just nailed to the other bit. He’s keen to get Mac interested in woodwork and has promised that, if Mac helps him build it, he can have a toy box with his name engraved on it. By the look of the plans we’ll need to move to a bigger house to accommodate it.

The animals
The three dogs are not impressed with this changeable weather. No sooner had all three moulted into their summer coat, the wind and the rain came back. All three insist on checking the weather report before they leave the house now.

Becks the rabbit is alive and well and, thankfully, hasn’t gone the same way as the school hamster. We managed to replace it for an almost identical one and nothing has been said yet. However, as Dawn pointed out, one hamster is pretty much like any other.

What can I say about my mother in law. Devastated that we’re not moving five minutes away from her, miffed that we’re not allowing her to meddle in Matthew’s life, annoyed that she’s having to share a room with Jane Mablethorpe when they go off on their annual trip to Eastbourne and highly hacked off that Jack Next Door has refused to go with them. “I can’t understand what’s wrong with the man!” she ranted down to the phone to David the other evening “Any man worth his salt would jump at the chance to go on holiday with ten women!”. David managed not to point out that he’d be mad to go on holiday with ten women all demanding, nagging and moaning. I urged him to ring her back and point that out to her.

My best friend has shunned the love merry go round. “I can’t be arsed to get tarted up, dressed up and then have to listen to some ar*ehole of a man pontificate about how frigging wonderful he is” she announced at the my birthday party. “As long as I’ve got my friends, heat magazine, Galaxy chocolate, Ashes to Ashes and erm, a little battery operated item then I’m happy”. The male guests at my intimate little gathering suddenly found something very interesting to do in the garden. David all but vaulted the coffee table.

Is in love with a pilot called George. She’s still wearing orange and is loving her daily battle with passengers. “I just wish they’d bring the TV cameras back, I could be the next Jeremy Spake!” she trilled from a Gatwick check in desk. She’s thinking of applying to be a stewardess but, in her own words “doesn’t like heights… you think that would be an issue?”

Assorted Friends
Eliza and family have moved to Holborough Lakes in Snodland. Mac finds this word hilarious and also wants to move to Snodland, believing it to be a magical land of make believe. I have challenged David to make up a bedtime story saga involving the Snods of Snodland. I think we may have a best seller on our hands.

Andy and Adam are engaged to be married and are planning their civil ceremony with my help. “I want it to be all romantic and misty and ethereal” Andy breathed as he flicked through Brides magazine “Adam wants it to be manly” he added. “Manly?” Charlie queried as we watched Adam gaze in awe at pictures of the (doomed) wedding of Katie and Peter. We suspect that Adam’s crush on Mr Andre rages on.

Assorted Relatives
Auntie Ivy has decided to give up driving because “every time I go out in the car I get back to a nervous wreck of a husband”. Uncle Jim is quite pleased at this piece of news and now that “she” isn’t going to be driving it “is looking to upgrade to a newer model – of car that is, fnar, fnar!”. Little does he know that, if he does achieve this goal, Ivy will take up driving again.

Aunt Daisy is struggling with the notion of Adam and Andy getting married. “In my day you got married for love, not because one of the people has got a yoghurt maker and the other one hasn’t”. This misunderstanding came about because she overheard me tell Bea at Freddie’s christening that they’re pooling their resources.

The Neighbours
Frank and Marjorie Stewart are still bouncing round their bedroom nearly every night. How do I know? They tell me. It’s like True Confessions over the garden fence most mornings. They’ve still got this mad idea about arranging a beano outing for The Avenue. David fears this is playing fast and loose with the minds of the criminal fraternity (“they’ll see the street empty and have a field day”) so he has instructed me to decline any offers. I felt it necessary to point out that I decline ALL and EVERY offer I get from the Stewarts.

Jane and Bill Opposite are still enjoying their love-hate relationship. Jane went out and blew nearly two thousands pounds on haute couture dresses the other week just because Bill lost almost the exact same amount at a poker game. Bill is remarkably unconcerned about this and his comment of “small tits for tat” has propelled Jane to the plastic surgeons for another boob job.

Ruby Over the Road is moving to Selsey Bill to be closer to her elderly parents. It’ll be a wrench, she revealed, but promises us all that she won’t allow “just anybody” to move into our Avenue. There is talk of Jane Opposite setting up a vetting station.

Jack Next Door, when not dodging offers to join the geriatrics in Eastbourne, has become something of a local celebrity. Neighbours are lining up to ask him for advice on wilting petunias and rotting ivy. He does fact sheets now that I’ve shown him how to use the spell checker on the PC his daughter bought him for his birthday. And when I showed him how to surf the web, well……he said he got RSI in his mouse hand. I dread to think what he was looking at.

And me? Well, I’m keeping my head down, my eyes and ears open and things are (ssssh, fingers crossed) okay. I’m still trying (unsuccessfully) to cut down on my doughnut habit but am drawn, like a moth to a flame, to Ayres. I have started running a bit now, shamed by an incident in the park the other week when I was overtaken by one of those invalid carriages when I thought I was out on a brisk walk.

Although, that’s nothing to do with what happened to me at Pett Level……but that’s a whole other post.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Big Brother 10

Do I? Or don't I? I watched the launch night show last night in between reading my latest book. Bea has already threatened to disown me if I "so much as push the number four button on your remote control darling girl". But I can't help it. It's easy viewing and, in the current climate, doesn't cost anything to watch (if I don't vote, which I didn't last year) so.......oh, decisions, decisions.

So, I've been away a's everyone been?

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.