Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 Alphabet

Andy Murray # 1
Celebrity deaths
Donald Trump
Great British Bake Off
Hillary Clinton
Ice Bucket Challenge
Jo Cox
Kanye v Taylor
Leicester City
May, Theresa May
Olympic medal record
Pokemon Go!
Queen 90
Tim Peake
Willcock, Patrick Willcock
Xenophobic US president 

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Boy oh Boy oh Boy - what's the big deal?

I am the mother of 3 boys. I am cursed. I lucked-out in the lottery of life, doomed by the definite prospect of years of wrestling, farts, grunts and chaos ahead. That is judging by reactions I receive wherever we go. This doesn't much bother me as its usually fairly well intentioned and mostly ignorant however it was when someone I know (with Jack, Jack and Jill) recently informed me that "it's just not the same having boys.... They get married and they just don't love you as much any more" that my hackles shot through the roof and it got me trawling through my foggy cerebral vacuum for what this meant and why it bothered me so much. I very shortly thereafter discovered the apparently well known phrase 'a daughter is yours for life, a son is your son until he takes a wife'. Meh. There are so many reasons I just can't tolerate these comments and this is why.....

Firstly, I flaming well LOVE being a mummy to boys.. Just as much I imagine as I would to girls. I have never had a preference to the gender of my babies and am jolly lucky with my lot in life. After 2 boys it was everyone's assumption that we would be desperately keen for a girl and whilst natural curiosity did veer us toward the pink at times,  we really were just delighted to welcome another human to the world and weren't fussed what colour it was. Is that so hard to believe? To recieve relentless pity makes me incredibly protective over my pure, innocent and seriously awesome Muskateers. What is so wrong with boys? They get bad wrap it vexes me.

Secondly, NO ONE CAN EVER PREDICT THE FUTURE. Brexit and Trumps triumph go some way to prove that. But seriously, my little boys have a wonderfully fulfilling and exciting life ahead of them, I hope. I aim to set them up for that but what I can't tell you (and none of us can) is what path they will lead. What struggles or excitement they might encounter threading their way through life's rich tapestry. HOLD THE PHONE... They might not marry, they might not marry a female ... Something about assuming/forecasting the future of a 3 year old seems ignorant to me. Just make it to adulthood, unscathed and happy please.

Thirdly, This is 2016 and for all its foibles we are in an era where the educated and decent people of our world accept and uphold the fact that the 'dividing' line between male and female is far less divisional than 5 let alone 50 years ago. Sure there are differences but they aren't polar and dissimilarity is often in character as much as anything else. Is it acceptable to think both girls and boys are awesome?

And lastly, I suppose this is also a note to my future self. Don't ever become that person desperately vying for your sons attention (against his work/loved ones/struggles/delights). You may have spawn the chap and had the task (grating though it was at times) of guiding him through this mad world we live in: you do not own him, you never did. You were just incredibly lucky to join him on his journey and watch with wonder as it unveiled.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Weeks 7/8/9 - lengthening and strengthening

Between now and 14-16 weeks can feel pretty tough. The initial magic and early hormones are wearing off, the relentless sleepless nights are grating and the haphazard routine is messing with any plans. Luckily the tiny human is becoming more engaging and resilient and fun. That boiled monkey uncurls into an actual mini human, butterfly style. 

Initial immunisations are never something to look forward to. I always get my boobs out to avoid the nurses windows shattering. The key with this milestone though is paracetamol. Strange as it feels to inject synthetic matter into the juveniles mouth at such an early stage, you'll soon get over it in the name of peace and quiet and calm. A dose every 4-6 hours will ensure that the live Meningitis vaccine does its work under a blanket of anaesthesia and everyone is less hot and bothered. 

These weeks bring babbles and cooing and smiles between the nappy explosions and sleep obsession. They bring SOME predictability and stability. Your baby is lengthening and strengthening, as it your patience. 

Sunday, 23 October 2016


And I wonder what compilation will define the Muskateers generation,  I am working on it now

Monday, 17 October 2016

Week 5/6 : Woo hoo and waaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!

Theres a chance that the little mite will SMILE one of these days. An utterly awesome, momentous, satisfying, magic, delightful moment. Words simply can't do it justice. If not this week, it's very close. Of course, nature juxtaposes this beautiful occurrence with a growth spurt. A gritty, shitty, wild, confusing and exhausting day or two where anything remotely predictable or easy and calm about the bambino get tossed out the window with your distant social life. 

Bunker down, tough moments feel relentless but HONESTLY don't last long. Flap jacks, banana bread and salted caramel chocolate Florentines washed down with a classic English Breakfast brew or a hearty Malbec should go a long way to making the hours feel like minutes. 

Monday, 3 October 2016

Work work work

A Poem from my 2009 archive....

Possibly run by Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dee,
Britain blinked to find a shattered economy,
In whom do we trust and what’s it all for?
As; for pennies we scramble around of the floor,

Stuck in a rut with shrouded vision,
What do I need with multiple division?
It may pay the bills but smile I will not,
As each day I turn up like the other robots,

Drilled down to the ‘Toads’ that Larkin depicted,
The labours of work seem to have inflicted,
Inability to see beyond the routine,
Scared to step out and reach for what be the dream,

What be the dream, what be it indeed?
Far off and forgotten, too consumed in greed,
To bother to pick up the sullen head,
Plonked in the sand is easier instead,

But the bold and the beautiful, they’ll find their way,
By pushing the boundaries, unashamed to stray,
From the comfort and fear of their monotonous work,
To seek what more out there might lurk,

Economy, on you we should not excuse,
Our lack of assertiveness, that new pair of shoes,
Instead we should look within our very selves,
Before we’re choking in dust up on the shelves.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Week 4. Wine.

I sincerely hope you're feeling well enough by now but chances are that you aren't. Fun recovering from baby expulsion isn't it? And then spending a month averaging 3 hours shut-eye a night. 

I have fermented grapes in my Arsenal (take what you will from that). A medium glass a day at circa 6pm takes the edge off shirty comments, poo in the plug hole and mass histeria that comes with bath time 'a trois'/quatre if you count the wino banshee running the show. Try it. Early quaffing ensures maximum enjoyment before an inevitable pre 9pm curfew. 

Week 2-3. Shit got real

The small human is here to stay. It doesn't sleep and it screams. They are all very different but fundamentally they take quite some time to adjust to not being secure and wrapped up on the 'inside'. The hosts body should start to settle down, slowly. Eat.a. Lot. It's very very tempting to launch into or try to establish a routine but (gooooood for you if you've acheived this) cut your losses and enjoy the marginal freedom that no routine gives you.

My comment of the week came from an ernest H Bomb..

'Mummy, mummy - you must come and sit down (ushering me over to a scant pile of cushions and a baby wipe) I have made you a chair - SIT - you need to feed the (yet to be named) baby from your (massive) booby'

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Week 1. Undignified yet MAGIC

**** one for imminent or brand new mums, a monolgue of my pertinent, patchy memories ****

'Well that was fun!'... Said no one ever. Your body has just grown and expelled a (not so) small human. Your slowly shrinking uterus flops around in front of you in the form of a deflating bouncy castle attached to your navel. 

Stock up on paracetamol and nurofen and take them every few hours in turn. As the blighter reverts back to its original size you might feel like you're still having contractions. Well you are actually. Bonza. 

Sanitary towels the size of mattresses house your granny pants. Rock hard melons. Get cream in case the nips crack as the sleep-thief gnaws away for hours. 

Possibly get daddy to sleep in another room.. Everyone finds their own arrangement to fit around the whirlwind of newborn excitement and sleeplessness but it really helps to have one person who is running on (almost) full batteries to actually engage in proper conversation with people and get stuff done whilst you recover from the phenomenal feat of childbirth and you start to grow the human on the outside. 

The above being said, the tiredness aside, delight in the arrival of this tiny person. Don't be afraid. You will always do the right thing, trust your instincts. Plus there's midwives, health visitors, books (Your Baby Week by Week is my 'go-to'), friends, family and dare I say it: Google. You don't need to see anyone if you don't feel like it, close the doors on the world and relish in the utterly precious first few days with the new human. Welcome people when you feel ready but the outside world is going nowhere yet these first days will slip away.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Philosophy on children

On Children

 Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Hymns to hims

Dear boys and father of mankind,
I'll forgive your churlish ways,
If you reclothe when asked for once on time,
and poke me less as I pour my wine,
will shout less one of these days,
I will shout less one of these days...

Just eat your crusts without a word,
And eat that flaming pea,
The gracious cooking of your mum,
Makes you, like dad, a man become, 
Don't catapult it at me, 
don't catapult it at me..

Oh Sunday lie-ins, where are thee?
Oh peace of days gone by,
The suns not up, this is my plea,
A sticker, Pom bears and CBBC,
Lie quietly, go on try,
Lie quietly, go on try...

I did not cut the apple right,
Nor buy the mauve toy car,
I try my best and call me tight,
The purple one was half the price,
Cows go 'moo' not 'baa baa baa',
Cows go 'moo' not 'baa baa baa',

Sweet and thoughtful, I adore,
You urchins and you know,
Hence you're feral more and more,
And mighty tantrums you can throw,
Your tenacity, I implore,
Your tenacity, I implore.

Friday, 24 June 2016


Feeling slightly (!!) less impartial this morning. In fact our bedroom replicated the opening scene from Four Weddings and a Funeral, made even less palatable when parrot Freddie appeared at the door 'Fok, Fox, Fok, Fok, Fok'. Note to self - vocab restraint to be administered across the board with immediate effect.

That said, utter shock aside, we can't change the decision - only force answers and positivity going forward. What a fascinating few weeks and months and years lie ahead .... 

Thursday, 23 June 2016

In, out, in, out, shake it all about...

OK so I would probably do pretty well at the Beeb, I am invariably outwardly impartial, it helps avoid bitter and negative reactions - especially when I start a diatribe on a subject I am wholly unconfident about (despite/because of the unremitting streams of information blasted from every direction)... I sifted through the sh1t and made my decision. Tick. 

It has been fascinating this referendum though - hasn't it? Grating, in your face, unavoidable and actually pretty important. I think that for me is the major silver lining of the entire sandstorm. It has certainly engaged a nation, there's barely been a garden centre, supermarket or high street (all the crazy places!)  I have pounded in the last 3 weeks without catching glimpses of relentless EU/Brexit/Referendum conversations and debates. Ordinary people trying to make sense of the rhetoric and propaganda: the Brexit barrage from Farage and the EU rave from Dave. Surely a positive outcome (whether 'in' or 'out')  will be that in my time, our nation seems never to have been so captured by the politics that push and pull and fundamentally slam us in certain directions affecting the future irrevocably. Hopefully that means we are all a little more educated and interested and aware of how this nation runs and in which trajectory - with us hamsters at the wheel. 


They've certainly shaken it all about.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Haute Cuisine

I challenge anyone to beat this for an utterly bizarre lunch... I am mostly ashamed but mildly proud of my ingenuity.

Caveat: I have 45 mins (pretty much guaranteed) in which to - paint a wall, clean/vacuum, pack for a weeks holiday for my 3 merry men plus me and to eat lunch. Impending holiday means depleted fridge stock, I thus conjured the toast-sandwich of dreams.

Toast, butter, Marmite, cold beans and capers!!! Ta dahhhh. Followed by the remnants of sticky toffee pudding. 

Don't all flock for lunch invites now will you..

Friday, 22 April 2016

Carry On!!...... Toddling

Last Monday seemed to be a comedy of errors, like most days ending in Y at the moment. What made Monday stick out more than some was the sequence of strange and embarrassing conversations that seemed to constantly flow.

Supermarket, events always happen in the supermarket, I need to schedule a regular online delivery like most sane people. A cyclist was cruising the bakery isle minding his own business when my confident toddler skips in front of him and declares boldly 'has that man got a BIIG willy??'. No idea where to look, except the obvious place (!), blush, blush a LOT more, start fondling gluten-free-seeded-batches like my life depends on them and have zero answer as he repeats the question. I never talk about willies!! I clearly look like a willy obsessed mum who walks around discussing the size of various strange men's packages. So so embarrassed. Fortunately Man in Lycra actually seemed to fluff out his chest, almost smile and move on to the eggs on aisle 24 with a strut in his stride.

Public restaurant, not particularly child-friendly (I certainly do not expect it and feel guilty for subjecting clientele and waiters but was in a desperate feed-or-suffer scenario and the emergency Marmite Rice Cakes carpeted every footwell in our health-hazard wagon) phew, they had Herby Herefordshire Beef, Caramelised onions and garlic-infused potatoes aka Bangers and Mash. 'What lovely sausages mummy!'. Awwww. The beasts behaved, food arrived promptly and all seemed well. Hot plate (nice touch), very hot food (always an adult winner), a looooooong (anything over 1 minute) wait for it to cool down. The atmosphere in our family idyll was turning, the twitching, the leg kicking and the less obvious 'BLOW MY LOVELY HOT SAUSAGE MUMMY' 'BLOW MY SAUSAGE NOWW' 'then you must blow Freddie's sausage' 'BLOW MY SAUSAGE RIGHT NOW'. Of course I saw nothing particularly strange or amusing about this conversation (!) that is just wrong on every level.... But the gentleman on the adjacent table sniggered, coughed and virtually choked so hard on his fois gras his face turned as red as his cords. After a torrent of ridiculous conversations about sausages and some onion catapulting for good measure I was met with yet another fine humoured man, Mr Red Corduroy walked over having finished his less than peaceful lunchtime glass of Merlot, patted me on the back, smiled at the beasts and said 'thoroughly fine and entertaining chaps'. I suppose I am inclined to agree. 

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

just another Turbulent Tuesday

Agh Belgium. Makes me feel so heavy hearted. It makes me fed up and scared. I know there's so much atrocity that doesnt get media coverage but the (selfish, but natural?) relevance to me of terrorism tearing through countries in close proximity is (along with sorrow for innocent loss) the likelihood of friends and family getting caught up in something equally horrendous. It's just such a common aspect of today's society, and with it I harbour such a woeful feeling of helplessness at the capability and capacity of indoctrinated individuals. It's what they want, it's what they feed off - instilling fear - but it's hard not to feel at least a little intimidated. Well that's my jolly ponder for the morning. The sun is shining - we've some serious slides and roundabouts to dominate and a Fireman Sam ball to abuse - THAT is my kind of wreaking havoc. Peace people X 

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Roll on the Spring

Ahh February has been a quiet month - of sorts. Rarely a blog. Barely a thought beyond clearing, sorting and packing 10 years of London living (it's a phenomenon how much can be crammed into such a small space and how rarely I ever used that Kenwood Mutlipro food processor that was still crusted in pumpkin soup from 2009). It's been all the more fun with a 1 year old, 2.5 year old and - 6 month old in tow.

A particularly favourite day was last Tuesday when Fred was evidently still not over his first bout of Norovirus. We couldn't hide in the flat forever (tempting as it was given the Baltic front engaging the UK this month) and the doc had said he was not contagious anymore - so what's the worst that could happen?

 A trip to the local supermarket affiliated with John Lewis. Buggy laden with ready meals (by this point and only 5 days prior to Move Day I can't be arsed to cook anything, possibly ever again), cleaning products and chocolate - off to master the self check out. The eldest is mid asking the one-bloody-hundredth 'why/what/how/when/where' question regarding an air conditioning unit in the ceiling which I am finding impossible to answer or explain. 'Air?' 'Well it's what you breathe and whilst you can't see it'- saved by a vomit interjection from Fred. Reflexes of a cat ensure I catch the projectile puréed pear and cornflake bile soup in a perfect cup of my hands. Nice. I am bent over desperately ensuring no puke seepage, trying to bat off the tirade of questions and comments from my inquisitor about why I am in this predicament and flailing my leg behind me to try and get an assistants attention. I often look ridiculous but this takes it to another level. Holding the contents of my child's stomach in my hands, a running commentary from the other, kicking my leg behind me like a knackered old mare with a spasm,  the self check-out kindly demanding I 'swipe another item or pay' I am stuck to the spot. Just prior to getting the assistants attention a famous TV chef walks past raising his eyebrows and possibly smirking. 

A pre-tea time trip to the Household Waste Recycling Centre. This is/was a MUCH revered destination - loud noises, big containers, huge machinery, rubbish..... And a satisfying sense of life spring cleaning for mummy (there have been no questions on where the enormous plastic self revolving, singing ball with flashing lights amongst other migraine-inducing culprits have slipped off to..). Post dump, having shedded the last of our unwanted items with the promise of pasta and hot cross buns in the air my cherubs giggle at each other behind me. Ahhhhh life isn't too shabby, the boys have been quiet for 12 minutes, learning about recycling and watching mummy throw big plastic bags into huge metal containers and now they are enjoying each others company rather than poking or wrestling. Then I over hear a snippet of  the conversation taking place. 'Lets play SPITTING!!' Followed by more laughter and a torrent of raspberries/misty spray across the back of my neck, then more laughter which, apparently on a young sensitive stomach is enough to invoke another episode of spasmodic vomiting. 

Roll on temperatures above 4oC, hours spent running around outside not desperately hiding in buildings and vehicles to avoid frostbiten fingers, and hopefully a little less puke 

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Dear London, thank you.. Part 3

London. You're vibrant, eclectic, bustling. You have eateries and  drinkeries for every cultural and financial whim. You are the host with the most......

I am no AA Gill (do love a morning Bloody Mary though) nor Giles Coran or any esteemed connoisseur but I like food and drink... And a dance. London dishes it out and sloshes it down your throat in a multitude of brilliant guises - all on the doorstep. That; I will miss.    

Mien Tay - 40m from the sofa. Traditional Vietnamese; salt and pepper squid, goat curry, a heap of morning glory (!) washed down with a basic bottle of red plonk. Parenting advice and jestful banter with charismatic Fung (he once had to wake the man of the house up before he plunged head first into his hot and sour soup so I am especially fond and and grateful) change from £50 and bed by 9.30pm. Done. 

Sushi Samba - sort of take up smoking for the evening just for the fabulous terrace (same goes for Shoreditch House). Incredible black cod. Dizzy views. Buzzing. Pricey but special. Ding.

Champers, Scott's, Pizza East, Hakkasan, The Cinnamon Club, Terroirs, Bunga Bunga, Bob Bob Ricard, Tiroler Hut, Babble, Gazette, J Sheeky, Piano Bar, Finos, The Dairy. It's endless. A few hazy but wonderful memories. 

On these excursions through your meandering, electric, maze of pubs, clubs and grubs........... what subconsciously delights me  is the simple anonymity you afford us all. 

Not once have I seen one of the blurry faces from darkandstormygate in Sugar Cane of November 2015. Vague recollections of swinging from the balcony 'oozing' sex appeal and rhythm and jiving with a 60 year old pianist from Hong Kong then stumbling into a game of poker in the basement and offering unwelcome advice (because I once played cards in 1992) whilst tripping into their table of cigars and accidentally flashing my knickers. Not to mention the blurrier less mentionable episodes that pepper 2005 to date. When you can't remember it, it didn't happen and those who are there will invariably never see you again. 

You see; once we have eaten in one of the 2 restaurants in the 10 mile radius for the 50th time and move on to the only half decent pub within stumbling distance - dominated the juke box and pool table ..... I don't think I will be able to slip into the shadows after a gin fest or one too many ciders. It scares me a little (lot). Everyone knows everyone and people talk and watch and talk. So many advantages to 'village life' I am sure and look forward to but my days of flippancy after a few too many martini espressos (shandies in the Barley Mow) are about to end. 

Thank you London, the host with the most that makes my drunken (alter) ego a ghost.