Prepare to Be Amazed

I was a Brownie. I was a Girl Guide. The whole ethos of ‘be prepared’ definitely made an impact on me, although half the time I think it’s because I just can’t be bothered with the hassle that comes with not being prepared.

Like in the car:

(loud sneeze)

“Mummy!!!! Quick! I need a tissue!!!”

‘Use your sleeve’ some may say but I just don’t need the extra washing so for that reason, tucked in the side door pocket are tissues. Yup, the flat pack of tissues that you think no-one ever buys from Boots. Well I do.

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Like in the kitchen:

If I can make dinner in the morning and have it on a slow cook all day, then when I come through the door late from the kids’ swimming lesson, I don’t need to worry about dinner whilst washing their hair, sorting their homework and unravelling the swimming costumes that have been rolled tighter than a Havana cigar. (* Favourite post-swim recipe at the end of the blog.)

Like on a plane:

Whilst everything goes up into the overhead storage, I keep essentials with me in my seat so that there is little need to stand up (interrupting my prime film viewing). Kindle, iPad, moisturiser, chewing gum (for plane breath) and sucky sweets for the kids upon landing. Oh, and massive cosy scarf that’s been freshly washed. I then mummify myself by wrapping the scarf around as much of my being as possible. I like to imagine other passengers can also see animated flowers wafting off of me as I move around in my seat.

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I actually use Fairy, but their ads don’t have flowers

Like when I go out for the day:

My bag has the usual suspects – keys, wallet, phone, but amongst it all is a Mary Poppins-style bottomless cosmetic bag of wonders, including things like: plasters, stain remover wipes (best things ever), mini perfume atomiser, calpol tablets (kids) and lip balm. In the 80s it was Lipsyl, but today, it’s Eve Lom Kiss Mix.

 

I am what is known as a ‘lip licker‘: yup, it’s a real condition. I always have a pot of this wondrous stuff with me and can’t bear it when people dip their fingers into the pot. For this reason I shove my lips directly into the pot to apply and it seems to deter others from finger-dipping.  (Win-win.)

But my point with this blog (and I don’t want to sound too Carrie Bradshaw), is ‘how organised is too organised’?

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Carrie? Can you help?

I have a friend (no names mentioned but she will know soon enough), who is so insanely organised, that she readies the breakfast stuff for her kids the night before. Bowls are placed on the kitchen table, filled with cereal of choice and then covered, yes, covered, with cling film. It’s “to stop the spiders going in.”

With being prepared, I do get it. I am it. I had to revoke my Costco membership because I was fast becoming their second biggest stockpiler of loo roll. (And the cookie multi-packs.). It was just too dangerous for me to have access to such a place.

A recent trip to Disney indulged every organised bone in my body. Schedules, restaurant bookings, ruck-sack packing for the parks. I was all over it and loved it.  Including ordering disposable ponchos for the ‘wet rides’. Yup, I did that.

Husband is all for being prepared too, although this translates as ‘I’ll leave my coat out on the couch instead of hanging it up, because I’m only going to wear it in the morning.” Oh, ok. I’ll just empty out all of your clothing onto the floor so that you don’t need to ever open a cupboard or drawer ever again. (He’s tempted by this idea, I’m sure.)

And it’s not just my generation – the older generation seem to be on the preparation path. Although in some cases it may be ‘Preparation H‘. So canny is my mother in law, that juices are Nutri Bullet-ed the night before and vitamins are all measured out. I guess she’d be dead by the time she counted them all out in the morning, so fair do’s…

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Only the half of it

My kids are on it too – they see not brushing their teeth in the evening as ‘no big deal’ (whilst I freak out), as the toothpaste is still on the toothbrush for the morning.

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I think the whole point of me wanting to be prepared is an innate sense of not wanting to fail or let someone down. What if my lovely neighbour needed to borrow some sugar or milk …or even sumac?

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Yup. I have that

And if I ever ask if I can come to Costco with you, just say no.


*Post activity dinner where you come through the door too late to fuss with cooking.

Perfect Pot Roast by Ree Drummond, The Frontier Woman.

I cook it all day long in the oven on 100°C with no worries. Leave out the wine and rosemary if you want a ‘lighter’ taste. My family aren’t mash fans so I lightly toast a ciabatta that I’ve sliced in half along the length. Place in a bowl and spoon over the meat and the juices soak into the bread. Am now salivating. Roll on swimming next week.

(I’m midly obsessed with Ree. She’s was a city girl, moved to the country, married a cowboy and now lives on a ranch with her four kids, writing, blogging, cooking and has recently opened a store. I want to go there and meet her. And eat her food. And say yee-har.)

 

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Holiday Romance

We were only away for ten days but the washing pile to rival Mount Everest tells a very different story. I know it makes more work for me but I respond well to instructions so if it says ‘wash separately’, I’m abiding by the label’s rules.

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I can’t take credit for this mountain

Swimwear is hand-washed, kids’ toy bunnies/penguins are boil-washed and everyone has a thorough shower and hair wash to rid us of ‘plane smell’.

I managed three films plus half a ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm‘ outbound. Husband watched seven hours of the ‘where our plane is’ channel, mixed with an hour of ‘chatting’ (having therapy) to a pilot who happened to be a passenger. (To be fair on husband, even the crew were told to take their seats because the turbulence was so bad.)

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Are we there yet?

Flying and turbulence doesn’t phase me – maybe that’s why I don’t have a problem with rollercoasters, but I have lots of friends who fear plane journeys. Many of their trips have been booked and then cancelled last-minute because they can’t face the reality of having to board a plane.

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I admit I do have one ritual before boarding the plane – I like to pat it. (The plane. what else did you think I meant?) After boarding at the furthest gate* from the terminal possible, I walk the jetway and casually touch the plane’s exterior as I step aboard. I don’t know why, but I like knowing the ‘bit’ I touched will make contact with the clouds. (I know rayyyt?)

*Briefly back to the gate bit. I just need some reassurance that no-one’s gate is ever within a 2 minute walk from wherever they’re been sitting. And there are always stairs. Or escalators that don’t work. 

This year, my family holidayed in America and aside from the ‘Ice Breakers’, clothing and essential US-drugstore purchases, we came back with something else this year. New numbers in our phones.

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We made friends.

Unheard of. Absurd. Unthinkable.

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What he said

Unless the outbound journey is purposefully taken with another family, we tend to be fairly unsociable on holiday. But this year was different.

Maybe it was because the first part of our trip was to Disney. That part required regimented schedules, timings and finite planning. Not the kind of thing easily done with others. It was all about us – the team. We were in the parks most days by 7am and in bed with delirium by 9pm.

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“Hello, Room Service?”

After four days of (exhausting) fun we were ready to relax in Miami. Maybe it was jet lag? Maybe our guards were down from all the rides and 3D craziness? Before you could say ‘have a nice day’ we were breakfasting, lunching and even ‘dinnering’ with this other family.

It was all moving so fast, so of course there were moments of doubt. Like waiting in reception to go for dinner one night and no sign on of them at the agreed departure time. Perhaps they were bored of us? Maybe their Uber had left for the restaurant already? Were they ‘late types’? We were confused and bewildered.

“You call.”

“No. You call.”

Like the pivotal end scene from a John Hughes movie, they appeared from the lobby. (Cue 80s soundtrack, like Starship or something equally as powerful and uplifting.)

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“He showed.” (Yay Andrew McCarthy for turning up for the date)

Our friends had an early riser in their ranks in the form of a five-year-old, so we were on slightly different morning schedules. We usually passed them just as they were leaving breakfast, but were delighted to hear “got you four sunbeds”. Well, if Carlsberg made holiday friends, I tell you…

The space allowed us to politely nod and chat to other guests getting their morning fill of the great American breakfast. (Mostly Jews getting their fill of bacon. Talking of which…)

My friend’s in-laws were in the same hotel as us and I bumped into the dad by the hot food one sunny morning. I politely chatted whilst he munched crispy sticks of applewood bacon ‘on-the-go’.

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The heroin of bacon

“Wow,” I thought, “he really must love bacon that he can’t even wait until he sits down to eat it.”

I headed out to the terrace and saw the wife, who ushered me over with a big smile. I said how I’d just been chatting to her husband over his plate of treif. The smile disappeared. She was livid and had no idea he was ‘on the bacon’. Whoops…

Me and my new mates even took our new friendship outside of the hotel, heading off on adventures like lifelong buddies.

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On tour

 

So delightfully in tune we were, that a nod and a wink was all that was required to understand that easily pilfered items like bagels, cookies and mini breakfast cereal packets were to be lifted for ‘daytime sustenance’.

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Frosted Flakes were super popular

Oh the fun we had. We created ‘in’ jokes and hashtags and social media’d the crap out of the holiday.

But after all’s said and done and the cases have been put back in the loft, is it ever really the same once you’re back on home ground?

Of course not.

For a start they’re called ‘Frosties’ and we don’t eat bacon at home.

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They’re grrrrrreat!

Happy New Year. x x x