Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Reality Bites

"Do I have to go to school forever Mum?" my young son asked me today.
"No. Not forever," I replied.
"But for a long time?"
"Yes, for quite a long time," I admitted.
He paused to consider this, looking off into the middle distance, his brow scrunched as he pondered the possible implications.
"It's a cruel world Mum," he said at last.
How right he is. And he hasn't even started watching Eastenders yet.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Confessions of a Demented Bag Packer

On any given day, I am not very good at packing groceries. If truth be told, I often completely bypass the entire bag packing thing altogether in favour of simply chucking my shopping from the conveyor belt thingy back into the trolley, sans bags.

Not out of pure laziness you understand (although that may come into it). It's just that I somehow nearly always forget to bring my sturdy reusable bags with me - a shame as I now have so many I could happily sell them and make a tidy profit.

If I do remember bags, I'm one of those people who simply stuff everything in wily nily. I admit it, I have no system - a failing considered a very serious offence by right-minded housekeepers who know their raw meats from their honey roasted turkey slices.

I know, deep down that I should separate the frozen goods from the dairy etc etc. so that it's all far more efficient when it comes to unpacking at the other end, but there is something (I suspect it's hardwired in my DNA) which always prevents me from pulling off such a feat of organisational supremacy.

Bearing all this in mind then, being asked to pack groceries in my local supermarket for a Very Good Cause was not something I was looking forward to.

Bloggers, I was dreading it, and with very good reason as it turns out because to say I was appalling doesn't even come close.

Trouble was, besides the fact that my butter fingers became even more buttery than usual, I also talked too much and paid too little attention to what I was doing.
Thus a packet of firelighters somehow became wedged in with fruit - cue gasps from righteous housekeepers everywhere. Not content with committing the cardinal sin of good bag packing, I also perpetrated possibly the worst abomination of all: I dropped a chicken on the floor. In my defence, I still think the poor anemic bird might have been making a last, doomed break for freedom.

So, next year, when someone mentions bag packing for charity I'm going to make a suggestion: nude calendar anyone? It's bound to be less painful. And that chicken could come in very handy to hide behind if I place it just so......

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Revenge of the Goldfish

Watched Marley and Me last night and have realised, too late alas, that instead of berating my own mini Marley / aka Charlie the chocoholic Yorkie I should been chronicling his antics and turning the lot into a feelgood movie!!
But all is not lost because we still have two goldfish - Pixie and Lily - to shamelessly exploit.
All I have to do is get them to caper mischievously and I could be in the money this time next year.
I'm thinking "Pixie and Lily on the Loose: The Movie."
Watch this space........

Monday, April 5, 2010

Chocolate Remorse

This morning, I found the dog lying in his bed, looking bloated and mournful.
The air was thick with remorse and there were five, yes five, Thornton's Praline Melts wrappers scattered by his side (significant as he is a Miniature Yorkshire Terrier and his stomach is probably the size of just one praline).
He had somehow managed to break into the packet and help himself. (This sort of thing is a peculiar talent of his - one Christmas he wrestled the lid off a tin of Roses. He was sicking up gilt wrappers for days.)
I hadn't the heart to remonstrate with him today though - after all, I know exactly how he feels: yesterday my own personal choc-fest began with a Creme Egg for breakfast and ended with a Twirl before bed....... Happy Easter everyone.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hips on Tour

Today is my fabulous friend Susan's birthday and to celebrate we went for brunch. Just me, her and her Abercrombie and Fitch paper carrier bag - the one with the half naked hunk on the front who is probably, bless him, half our age but who brightened our morning no end. After all, what woman wouldn't want some man candy on her arm for her birthday?
After devouring a massive plate of pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, followed by a Mars Bar krispie slice and two lattes, I was pretty stuffed. Happy, but stuffed.
Off I waddled to a physio appointment for my back, neck and shoulders (many hours spent hunched over a computer means I am a tad on the Quasimodo side).
"Hmmmm....." the physio said as I lay, beached whale like, on the table. "Your right hip is very, very inflamed, did you twist it by any chance?"
"No," I said. "Not unless I pulled something reaching for the remote control."
"That's odd," she replied, puzzled.
And then it came to me.
I hadn't twisted anything: the pancakes, bacon, maple syrup, Mars Bar krispie and two lattes from brunch had simply bypassed my digestive system and gone straight to my right hip, where they nestled comfortably among the sizeable acres of flesh already enjoying a little R&R in that area.
"Ahhhhhh," they probably sighed as they settled in, "home sweet home."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

No Nibbling Allowed

I went to a lovely "drinks and nibbles do" last night with a group of Irish booksellers, courtesy of Penguin Ireland. I was looking forward to it very much (a rare night out? yay!) and, to begin with, all went swimmingly.
There I was dolled up, nibbling on divine food and sipping champers (yes, really). It was just like a scene from Sex and the City, except I didn't have a designer handbag and I wasn't wearing couture.
The only fly in the ointment, if there was one, was the poor waiter. Every time he arrived with a new platter of food for us to enjoy, he looked like he was going to have a heart attack with the stress of trying to figure out where to put it. At one point I found myself volunteering to balance a platter on my knees just to calm him down. It didn't seem to occur to him to simply take some of the empty plates away to make some space.
Anyway, I excused myself to go to the loo (which was miles and miles away of course and meant a lot of wobbling on heels I hadn't worn in ages, but I tried not to mind because after all I was a gal about town for the night and the little things don't bother us).
When I eventually got there I did that quick check in the mirror, you know the one to make sure all the makeup hadn't slid off my face.
And that's when I noticed it. Something was winking back at me under the (frankly, very unbecoming) fluorescent lights. Something green.
In a flash, my Sex and the City fantasy came crashing down around my ears.
It was a gherkin. There was a large piece of gherkin lodged firmly between my two front teeth and there was no possible way people hadn't spotted it. I had been chatting to everyone with half a vegetable patch in my gnashers.
Bloggers, I almost locked myself in the cubicle with the utter mortification.
And so the moral of that story is - when you go to a drinks and nibbles reception do not, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, think you can actually eat anything.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fairy Cakes Taste Sensation

Tomorrow is my birthday and tonight my darling daughter, ably assisted by my lovely hubby, baked some pre-birthday fairy cakes to celebrate. This pre-birthday treat is a new tradition here, but one I will definitely be encouraging going forward. (Fairy cakes tonight followed by Rice Krispie buns and Victoria sponge tomorrow. What's not to love about that sort of delicious tradition?)
The topping on these little moues of perfection was icing mixed with strawberry jam (a new taste sensation - you heard it here first).
Bloggers, they were DIVINE. So divine I ate three in a row. Ooops. I just couldn't help myself - you're never too old for fairy cakes, that's what I say. Of course, my hips might disagree, but I'm well used to ignoring what they think. That's another advantage of getting older - you can simply tune out what you don't want to hear..............It's a skill I have just about perfected.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Toffy Pops Escape Unharmed

I dropped my lovely friend Lol to the airport the other day for her flight back to Oz. I dread going to the airport. It's such a cruel place: the goodbyes are always "Love, Actually" heart wrenching and if that isn't enough to traumatise you, now there's the possibility of a full body pat down to contend with too.
"I hope they don't search me," Lol said as we stood forlornly at the Departure Gates. "If they take my Toffy Pops, I'll crack up. "
"Stick out your bump and look hassled," I advised, snuffling sadly into my sleeve. "They might take pity on you."
In fairness, this wasn't going to be much of a stretch: six months pregnant, with an active toddler in tow and a 24 hour flight to face, she was pretty hassled already.
Laughing through our tears at the thought of security wrestling her to the ground and confiscating the precious stash of Toffy Pops smuggled in her carry-on, we said our goodbyes.
A few minutes later, I got a text to say she had sobbed the whole way through luggage check and the kind staff had felt so sorry for her that they had given her a wheelchair for her bags and the toddler, so she could navigate her way through Duty Free. Even better, the Toffy Pops had escaped unharmed.
I am delighted to report that they went on to survive the flight and are, as I write, being carefully dunked into steaming mugs of Barrys Tea in a Sydney townhouse. Now there's a happy ending if ever I heard one.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Three Questions

Over breakfast today, my six year old carefully munched his bagel and asked:
a) Why is cookbook one word, not two? (There was a cookbook on the table. An unused cookbook I should add.)
b) Why can you see the veins on the inside of your wrists so clearly and not on your tummy?
(I suspect he would like to have wormy veins visible everywhere if he could)
c) Do rabbits ever get tired hopping? (That one was just random)
All this and I hadn't even had my coffee yet..........

Monday, February 1, 2010

I am not It

In a hotel lobby this weekend, I momentarily dropped my precious bag of Maltesers when a stunning leggy redhead swept through the foyer. What was it about her that had everyone, including me, transfixed? Was it her magnificent camel coloured cashmere coat with its cutting edge angular jutting pockets? Her gleaming over-the-knee boots that were the length of my entire leg? The amazing mane of glossy red locks that tumbled down her back?
Who knows. But the girl had "it" and, as I watched her, with my scuffed high street boots and chipped nails, I fleetingly wished I had "it" too. Sadly, I know only too well that sweeping grandly about is impossible when you're five foot two and your hair has never seen a glossy day in its frizzy life. I will never have "it".
But a half-eaten bag of melted Maltesers in my pocket? Now that I have.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Middle Aged

How do you know you're middle aged?
a) On a road trip with your girlfriends you spend an inordinate amount of time seriously discussing how best to deal with grey hair, upper lip wisps and general all-over drooping of bits.
b) Your version of a road trip is now a day out to Ikea.
c) You get overly excited when you discover that coffee is free in the Ikea canteen (one of you does a little celebratory dance).
d) When you sit on a Martorp sofa you are tempted to have a quick nap. No-one laughs when you say this out loud.
e) A Lazy Susan seems like a brilliant idea.
f) You fall asleep in the car on the way home and no alcohol has been consumed.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Difference Between the Sexes - Part One

In the park today, Son's wobbly bottom tooth fell out while kicking his football.
"OMG, OMG! " Daughter cried, distraught at the very idea that her brother's tooth was now lost somewhere in the vast undergrowth and he wouldn't be able to leave it under his pillow for collection by the tooth fairy.
Much drama (plus much enforced scrabbling in undergrowth) ensued as Son looked on, nonplussed.
"If we don't find the tooth will I still get the money?" he asked.
"Yes, I should think so," I replied, picking through rotting leaves and broken twigs, hoping that wet pile of mud I just poked wasn't dog poop.
"OK," he shrugged. "Let's go."
Then he galloped away, kicking his football passionately and leaving his poor orphaned baby tooth behind without a second's thought.
Daughter fretted the whole way home in the car about the implications of all this. Would the tooth fairy find the tooth in the park? What if a hungry dog found it first? Should we write a note to someone and explain? Had this ever happened anyone ever before, in the history of the world?
Son meanwhile looked out the window, totally disinterested in all the female angst.
"Can I buy a new football with the money?" he asked.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Oldies but Goodies

Don't you just love old friends? Maybe it's because you used to borrow each others' Max Factor eyeshadow and share your precious Constance Carroll frosted lipsticks at youth club discos, but there's something so easy and comforting about hanging out with people you've known almost your whole life.
A girlfriend who I haven't seen in over a year (she lives in Oz) arrived on my doorstep today.
"Howarya Horse," she said, cutting to the chase, "put the kettle on, I've got the Toffy Pops."
It was like music to my ears.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Quotes of the Year - 2

Hubby was dancing cheerfully to a Madness tune in the kitchen when daughter walked in.
"This is how we used to dance in the good old days," he explained, doing his best Suggs impression.
"On my God Dad," she replied, covering her eyes in horror. "You were embarrassing me before I was even BORN."

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Hard Lesson

I made apple crumble yesterday. Nothing out of the ordinary there. But this time, instead of carefully measuring out the flour, butter and sugar as always, I decided to just wing it. How hard could it be? After all, I'd made crumble a hundred times before, I was surely above all that weighing palaver, right? (Besides, getting the scales out would add another whole minute to the baking exercise and I was already pressed for time.)
And so I poured everything haphazardly into the bowl, supremely confident that all would be well. It was much more fun to do it like that too - I almost felt like Nigella for a few precious seconds, flinging ingredients about sexily, not a care in the world.
I knew the minute I took it out of the oven that I had made a huge mistake. The crumble was doughy and anemic looking. Frankly, it looked almost inedible.
But it was too late - everyone was already waiting for dessert. So, instead of starting from scratch, I simply covered the whole mess in as much custard as I could and served it anyway, pretending that nothing was amiss.
No one said anything as such, but the compliments were few and far between. And - tellingly- no-one went back for seconds (unheard of in these parts).
And so I've learned two hard and painful lessons:
1) The use of weighing scales is crucial to baking success
2) I am not Nigella and I never will be.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Me 'n Cheryl

Did you know that Cheryl Cole has been voted the Most Photogenic Woman in the World?
I have to admit I was a little taken aback by this revelation to begin with.
Not because she beat Audrey Hepburn to the prize, but because I misread the headline and thought it said that Chazza was the Most Hygienic Woman in the World. Which has quite a different ring to it, don't you think?
Anyway, it got me thinking. If Cheryl is the most photogenic, then who is the least photogenic? Dear readers, the answer I suspect!
Now I don't want any fuss: no accolades or acres of press coverage thank you very much. It's simply enough to know I was even in the running.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Quote of the Year (so far)

I am sitting in a cafe close to a young family: Mum, Dad, small child - aged approx three years.
Small child wants to go to the toilet. Daddy brings her.
Small child comes galloping back from the toilet, shouting at top of voice "Daddy got stuck in the loo! Daddy got stuck in the loo!"
Daddy lopes back, looking a little embarrassed but also quite pleased that half the cafe is now watching. He's clearly convinced that everyone is thinking "Isn't that little girl so cute? And my goodness, aren't her vocabulary and articulation extraordinary? She's obviously a child genius!"
All first time parents are guilty of this - thinking their own child is amazing in every way. I was guilty of it myself (except, of course, my own firstborn IS genuinely amazing).
Sadly, I can tell by the expression on everyone's faces that they are actually thinking: "Please be quiet - I want to eat my egg salad sandwich in peace and I don't need to know anything about your loo visit, even if it was spectacularly funny."
All is quiet for a moment.
Then Mum goes to toilet. Small child shouts "Mummy will get stuck in the loo too Daddy!"
Daddy replies "Getting stuck in the lavatory doesn't happen to everyone darling, it's not a ubiquitous rite of passage."
Small child (age approx three, remember) looks very confused.
Dad duly ignores confusion, catches my eye and gives me the very smug "see how vastly superior my child's intellect is compared to the average ?" look.
I know it's very bad but I really, really wanted to say "OK, but can she SPELL ubiquitous mate? Now THAT would impress me."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Things have been looking bleak on the TV front since X Factor ended.
I was slightly obsessive about X Factor. I watched every single show. I also recorded every single show, just in case. (In case of what you ask? Let's not go there).
I turned down invites (not that many in fairness, I have no social life to speak of) to stay in and cheer on my faves (Olly if you must know). It was all very sad and anti social, but then I am of an age where cuddling up with a jumbo pack of Maltesers on the sofa on a Saturday night is about as lively as it gets.
Anyway, when X (as I like to call it) ended, I was quite bereft. The only thing that kept me going in the telly stakes over the festive period was Gavin and Stacey, but then I discovered that Series Three was the last one! It's like when your favourite lipstick, the one that makes you look five years younger than you actually are and doesn't bleed into the puckered wrinkly skin round your mouth, gets discontinued without warning.
I wept bitter tears of disappointment over that news, let me tell you. Bitter tears.
But then I discovered Glee and, just like the joy you feel when the lady at the makeup counter says she has an even better lipstick, one that's guaranteed to make your shrivelled lips look just like Angelina Jolie's, I cheered right up.
I've always been a sucker for a cheesy song n dance number, but throw in dark, edgy humour as well and I'm hooked! Glee is like a perverse High School Musical - TV gold.
Now, I 'm trying not to get too carried away just yet. In fact, I have vowed to keep a bit of distance between me and Glee because I know only too well how it could pan out.
Could it go the way of ER? I was committed to that until Doug and the Dr. Greene left. I fell out of love with ER pretty quickly after that.
Then there was Lost....I was an ardent fan until it all got far too complicated and I started to forget who was supposed to fancy who. And of course there was the Polar Bear thing. Was it real? A hologram? A metaphor? Far too confusing for someone of my advancing years.
But I have high hopes for Glee - it could be another Friends. It could even be another SATC!
Easy now. Let's not get too excited.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sad News

A sad day for a few reasons.
1. The heads fell off all but one of the snowmen we built in the field in front of our house - tragic to see them melt and disappear into the grass.
2. I polished off the very last Selection Box (why can't they make Selection Boxes all year round? Why?)
3. I began to take down the Christmas decorations. (Was forced to - only because our tree is in danger of collapsing on us any minute now though).
4. Michael Buble confirmed his engagement (to the gorgeous girl in "I Just Haven't Met You Yet" video). Poor Michael, he's still smarting that I turned him down. Obviously this relationship with some Argentinian beauty with the face of a goddess and a body to match is a rebound thing. Bless him.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My new blog

Hello everyone and Happy New Year!

One of my New Year's resolutions was to start a blog so.. .....ta dah!!

I'm a bit of a techie dinosaur really - I don't blog, Twitter, Facebook etc etc so this is my first shaky step towards a new, improved tech savvy me. OK, I will never be tech savvy, but you know what I mean.

If I'm honest, the dreadful weather has given me the extra little nudge I needed......we are currently housebound, which isn't all bad because I'm wrapping up book four and need to stay at my desk. It's also an excellent excuse to polish off all the chocolate and goodies still lying around. I ate three slices of Christmas cake last night - and I don't even like Christmas cake.

I told myself it was OK because it's a well known fact that in cold weather we need to lay down extra stores of fat. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it....bring on the crusty marzipan, that's what I say!