Tea for Two (Thousand)

And then some.

I was recently invited to Buckingham Palace for one of their annual Garden Parties. Me and 7,999 other people.

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Seeing as it’s not something everyone gets to do, I thought I’d blog about it…

 

My dad was invited in recognition for all of his services to charity and as supreme Daddy’s girl, I was his ‘plus one’ for the day, one of three garden parties that the Queen hosts each year at Buckingham Palace.

For the ladies, the dress code offered up: ‘Day dress with hat or Uniform. (No medals.)  Trouser suit may be worn.’

I hate dresses on me.

I can’t abide hats.

Who knows what the unpredictable British weather was going to do on the day?

Also, should I take a gift? I don’t like turning up empty-handed anywhere, let alone Buck House, but I shouldn’t imagine a ‘White Company Seychelles candle’ (3-wick at least) or bottle of Whispering Angel would cut it.

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Perfect Summer drink

I don’t need this amount of stress in my life.

There was a lot of searching. A lot of deliveries. Everything went back. In the end I rebelled and bought a skirt and top that looked pretty much like a dress. Unless they were going to manhandle me on arrival, I figured no-one would ever know.

Entry into the Palace is offered from three entrances:

  • Grand Entrance (main gate)
  • Hyde Park Corner Gate
  • Grosvenor Place Gate

You’ve got a once-in-a-lifetime chance to go INSIDE Buckingham Palace. Which gate do you THINK I chose?

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Obvs.

We queued along Constitution Hill, allowing us time to discuss ‘how easy would it be to hop over the railings and try to scale the wall’, a la Michael Fagen in ’82? Luckily for us, we had the right accreditation and as we entered the gates, there we were, strolling across the crunchy infamous forecourt.

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My foot. On actual Palace crunchy courtyard

 

Once inside the gates, you are ushered through to an even crunchier courtyard towards another checkpoint, where our invite was taken and we were welcomed inside.

TONS of marble. Lots of massive chairs. Enormous paintings. The Queen seems as bad as I am at changing over her pictures. (Maybe she hasn’t printed hers out either?)

And then all of a sudden… we were properly in. Or ‘out’ to be precise, onto the West Terrace with the most surreal view.

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When you consider that there are 8,000 attendees, I imagined swarms of people, like when I went to see Guns n’ Roses at Olympic park last year, only less sweaty and dressed a bit nicer.

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But it was very civilised – no barging, no shoving, just all very refined and polite. As we moved gracefully about the lawn, we chatted to other invitees including one of the Queen’s Chaplains, who informed us that it Prince Charles was going to be present for tea. She suggested grabbing a refreshing lemon squash before the tea tents opened, so we did just that, muttering that the Queen could have turned up for us.

Squash was ‘very ‘weak and pishy’ as my Dad would say, but we drank it anyway, enjoying the military band playing everything from Star Wars to James Bond to Raiders of the Lost Ark. (No Guns n’ Roses though. And definitely no moshpit.)

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All together now…

It was an observational delight for someone like me. Behind my sunglasses, I people-watched on a grand scale and had a little rest on one of the many garden chairs set out, sipping pishy lemon squash. I wonder if M’am got all of the chairs from Homebase? She must have a massive shed. And I bet she doesn’t have to nag HRH Philip to get them out when the weather turns nice. (Yes, husband dearest, I’m talking to you.)

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(Not my actual shed.)

We observed national dress, loads of Mayors, stupidly high heels, a man dressed head-to-toe in orange, plus lots of ladies in dresses that came up to their pippicks.

 

‘Time for tea’, we decided, and headed over to the main tea tent, where queues were already forming. There are three tents – Main, Royal and Diplomatic – and having read various online forums about what happens at these things, the main piece of advice seemed to be ‘pile it high’.

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Knew my Pizza Hut training came in handy

But what to choose…

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I only came for the Cakes

Dad chose everything I wouldn’t.

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Father’s choice – yuk

I chose everything my Dad wouldn’t.

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My choice. Passion Fruit tart was ridiculously amazing

If you want criticism, then here it comes…

The spoons were unbranded, so I didn’t even feel the urge to nick one. (And yes, I was constantly on the look-out for something to nick.)

I expected HRH-branded napkins, but there weren’t even normal napkins. Much licking of sticky fingers ensued. Maybe it’s an environmental thing? HRH doesn’t want to find loads of napkins blowing across the lawn into the Royal bushes. I know how annoyed I get when I find the kids the snack wrappers blowing around in my garden.

 

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Pick it up!

Suddenly, the Yeomen were out in force and the crowds parted to form a meandering pathway for the Royals to move through the guests.

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Much neck craning and hushed chattering, and suddenly there he was in view on the steps, a bit like the daily ceremony at Disneyworld.

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Prince Charles. Not Mickey Mouse

Prince Charles chatted to many guests along the path and then entered the Royal tea tent, so we took this opportunity to go for a wander around the lake and through the stunning Rose Garden.

Whilst the gardens are incredibly beautiful, they’re pretty noisy. I’d be mega peeved if I could hear the traffic when chilling in my garden. (Just saying.. all that money on a property and you’re by a main road.)

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Can’t I at least nick a leaf?

Still on the nicking theme, maybe I could pick a flower and press it when home? Surely no-one would notice? There were thousands of them, but I decided it wasn’t worth getting booted out over a floribunda rose.

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Actual Royal rose. I touched it

I also hugged a tree. Because, why not?

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Royal Tree hugger

As we headed back to the main lawn, our time was nearly over. The National Anthem played out and as the Royal party left, there was just one more essential stop to make.

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The Royal Throne

I was hoping for a last-ditch attempt of something worth pilfering, but I left empty-handed. (Washed, but empty.)

 

At least I came away with the most amazing memories.

Plus an underlying streak of kleptomania.

And my bottle of Whispering Angel that I forgot to take with.

x

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Queen Victoria Memorial from ‘their side of the fence’

ps. Happy birthday to the Queen. Not bad for 92. 8/6/18

 

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It’s a Nice Day for a White Wedding…

I started this blog as a bit of an off-shoot for my writing course which I enrolled on when I had a bit of a meltdown at 40 and thought, “Now what?”

Aside from the student discount it gave me (seriously, best thing ever!), it gave me a forum to pour out some adaptations of my coursework, with various topics given for each module.

One module had two options:

A) To write a piece of erotic fiction

or

B) To re-write a fairytale

I tried with A. I really did. But E.L. James and all her Fifty Shades of Filth is actually not so easy to write. If you are in the slightest bit bashful, it comes across in your writing. (And I wasn’t very comfortable ‘coming across’ anything that I would then have to submit to my tutor.)

So, I chose option B. And here it is. It just seemed apt to share it today…

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THE PRINCESS AND THE CARAT

by Debbie Collins

“Larry, my darling grandson. It has come to my attention that whilst your older and far uglier brother of yours, Arthur, has found himself a lovely bride-to-be, you are still flying solo. I may be the Queen of this fine country, but I am still your meddling old Gran and I think it’s high time you got yourself a nice young girl.”

Larry was yet to find his Princess and although he had very much enjoyed looking, he knew it was time to settle down. He had dated girls here, there, near and far, but no-one could hold his interest for long enough. Arthur was always the steadier one, having found himself the most perfect bride to join the Royal family but unfortunately for Larry, none of his relationships had lasted more than six months. Without letting Granny-dearest know, he was secretly pleased that she was helping him to find ‘the one’, as he loved spending time with her. If nothing else, he would have a date for his brother’s wedding.

The Queen doted on Larry – he was her little cherub and as much as she daren’t have favourites amongst the Royal grandchildren, he would seek her out in the Palace and remain by her side like one of her beloved corgis.

“But Grandma, really? ‘The One’? Honestly, I think your time would be better suited to opening a new hospital wing or whatever it is you get up to these days.” Larry sighed a dramatic sigh and flopped down onto the brown leather Chesterfield. The Queen stood up with her usual assertiveness and yanked her handbag out from underneath Larry. From inside she pulled out a dark wig and gave it a shake before putting it on her head.

“Well, I’m all done opening hospitals this week. And I’m not due on that tour of Australia for another week. Come on, we’re going for lunch and a bit of shopping!”

With that, the Royal driver was called and Larry and his Gran, were off in disguise to do some shopping in their favourite store ‘Selfreezers’. Larry wore his favourite grey cashmere beanie hat that conveniently hid his shock of wild ginger hair, making him otherwise instantly recognisable to the public at large. Gran, a.k.a the Queen of England, was channeling her inner ‘Anna Wintour’ with a bobbed brown wig and seriously oversized sunglasses.

With security teams positioning subtly all around them, they flitted in and out of the various departments going pretty much un-noticed. On these little trips, Larry would always adopt a Cockney twang, calling out loudly over the shop floor, “Ere nan! Cam over ere n’ ‘av a butchers.” The Queen loved covertly interacting with the public-at-large and she would chat away to staff on the tills…

“Day aaaaht wiv mi’ grandsun, innit. Lavley boy ‘e is takin’ ‘is ole nan ahhht fer the dayyy up West.”

Laden with big, glossy yellow boutique bags, drawing possibly a bit too much attention to themselves, they exited the store through personal shopping and hopped back in the car. As the pair cruised the city in a blacked-out Range Rover, they laughed and joked by winding down their windows and waving at passers-by for fun.

“Larry my boy, I fancy a new run-around. Shall we nip into ‘Range Rover’? You know much your opinion matters to me.” Larry was easily flattered by his Grandma and the more time he could spend with this very busy VIP OAP, the better.

“Of course! Let’s make a day of it,” Larry eagerly agreed.

As they pulled up at the Mayfair Range Rover showroom there were thousands of people and photographers waiting outside, including a cordoned-off line of the hysterically excited girls, winding their way around the side of the building.

“How on earth do they always manage to find us? Let’s leave it for another day, Gran.” Larry looked uneasily out of the car window, feeling disappointed that his day with granny dearest was to be cut short.

“No, darling. Quite the contrary. I had this specially organised. They’ve been expecting us.” The Queen removed her wig, gave her hair a fluff and straightened the hemline of her tweed outfit. “Go on. Out you get, poppet.”

Feeling confused, Larry exited the car, deafened by the cheers and blinded by the flashbulbs going off and the calls of ‘over here Ma’am!’, ‘this way Larry!’ and ‘one of you together please!’.

Once inside the showroom, Larry slowly slid the beanie hat off his head, realising the disguise was no longer needed. Puzzled, he asked, “Gran, what on earth is going on?”

The Queen explained that she had organised a ‘meet-and-greet’ for Larry to find his perfect Princess, to bring along as a date to to Arthur’s impending wedding.

“Gran, are you telling me you’ve basically organised a Royal Britain’s Got Talent?!” Larry was incredulous and ran his fingers furiously through his hair.

“Yes, although no Simon Cowell on the judging panel. Although I did ring Simon. He says, ‘good luck’!” The Queen trotted off to speak to the David, the showroom manager, about getting going with the proceedings.

Over in the corner, a new member of staff called Kelli looked on in amazement at all that was going on.

“We never had this at Saab,” Kelli thought to herself.

Kelli started working at Range Rover a few weeks ago and was trying her best to fit in and make a good impression. Little did her colleagues know, but Kelli was actually a pretty important person, because she was in fact the daughter of Prince Alec of Sweden. Kelli was keen to show her father that she could be so much more than ‘just a Princess’, and he was happy and proud for her to spread her wings in London and experience ‘normal life’.

The enormous digital clock on the showroom wall displayed 11:57 as the Queen gathered all staff together to explain how things would be unfolding for the afternoon.

“Righty-ho. At midday on the dot, the doors will fling open and all the girls will come through and register. They may all claim to be Princesses, but I’ll be the judge of that,” said the Queen.

As staff began to take their places, Larry’s eyes met Kelli’s and she smiled brightly at him as she walked off. He smiled back and thought how refreshing it was not to have a girl fawn all over him. She seemed totally relaxed and not in awe of him whatsoever. He felt as if he somehow knew her, but surely that was impossible?

The Queen and Larry moved to the right-hand side of the showroom into a private office with big glass windows that overlooked the entire showroom, allowing them a prime view of all that was happening. Larry distractedly watched the beautiful dark-haired girl take her position within the showroom. He knew most of the staff at the showroom from numerous Royal visits, so he was sure he would have noticed her before today.

Larry wanted nothing more than to find this girl and go and say a proper hello, but he knew he had to focus on the task in hand. Unconvinced, he asked, “Gran, what have they actually got to do?”

“Not much,” the Queen said nonchalantly. “They’ll walk past, give us a wave and a curtsey and then go behind that big red curtain over there. Nothing too challenging even for the dimmest ones, of which I’m sure there are quite a few.”

“What’s behind the curtain then?” asked Larry.

“I’ll show you.” The Queen clicked on the monitor which was set upon the desk and up popped a live feed of the latest yet-to-be-unveiled Range Rover, with a life-size grinning Larry cardboard cut-out sitting in the driver’s seat. 

“The idea is, each girl will come through, sit in the passenger seat and pose for the Royal photographer, while you and I take notes from back here. The girls don’t know we can see or hear them.”

At midday on the dot, the girls started to flow into the showroom to register, they gracefully walked past Larry and his Gran and giggled, curtseyed and smiled before going behind the curtain.

As they watched girl number 398 slide effortlessly into the passenger seat purring about how comfortable the car was, pretty much the same pattern was repeated girl after girl. After an hour or so into things, the Queen ordered a Royal break for some dainty cucumber sandwiches, which also allowed Larry to go through his list of potential candidates. Unfortunately, the list wasn’t as long as he had hoped for because the princesses were all so terribly fake and seemingly desperate to win him over.

“Now I know how Simon Cowell feels at most of the ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ auditions,” sighed the Queen in disappointment.

As Larry and the Queen and Larry considered their strategy for the next round, the staff at Range Rover were busy giving the showroom a tidy up, as it had become extremely messy. The hopeful Princesses had dropped tissues, wrappers and left make up stains all over curtained-off area. Kelli, being the newbie, was given the job of tidying the inside of the new Range Rover.

“Princesses my bum. They’re nothing but a load of fakes,” she mumbled to herself, as she wiped the lipstick smears that some over-zealous girls had planted on the cut-out’s cheek. Kelli emptied out the chewing gum wrappers and collected the half-empty bottles of water strewn in the passenger seat area. She also found a couple of fake nails, a set of false eyelashes and a silicon bra insert. She shook her head and chuckled to herself as she thought of the girl who had left the showroom lop-sided.

At that very moment, the Queen and Larry had resumed their positions in their viewing gallery and as the Queen was about to chat through the next hour’s proceedings, she noticed that Larry was distracted by the girl on screen. The same one she had seen him looking at intently when they arrived.

            “Larry? Darling are you ready to start the next round?” The Queen clicked her fingers in front of his eyes, but Larry was in another world, taken by this beautiful, seemingly normal girl who was cleaning his future car, sitting in the passenger seat, alongside his cardboard cut-out self.

            As no-one else was in the curtained area, Kelli took a moment to place her hands delicately on her lap and smile demurely at the camera, just as she had learnt to do so at the many debutante balls she had had to endure as a young lady. She wriggled uncomfortably in her seat and frowned, declaring, “Gosh, it’s not even comfortable!”

            “STOP THE PROCEEDINGS! We’ve found her!” shrieked the Queen.

            There was a sudden rush from Range Rover staff and all remaining contestants were told to leave. There were sobs, wails and sniffles as the showroom was swiftly cleared out.

            Larry followed the Queen out of the office towards the back where she whipped back the curtain to find Kelli exiting the car with a huge black sack full of rubbish. As she blew the wisp of glossy, dark hair from her face, she smiled at the Queen and then at Larry, executing the most perfect curtesy.

            “My dear girl what is your name?” quizzed the Queen.

            “’Kelli’, Ma’am. It’s an honour to meet you.” Kelli then nodded in respect to Larry and said, “And you, Prince Larry.”

            “Miss Kelli, could you tell me what you thought of the new Range Rover?” asked the Queen.

            By this point the entire staff had gathered round their fellow staff member to understand why the proceedings had been halted so quickly. Kelli answered with complete honesty,

            “It’s actually really uncomfortable.” She looked over warily at her boss David and expected to be fired on the spot, but instead he smiled back at her and then looked over at the Queen, giving a knowing wink and nod of his head.

            “I quite agree,” said the Queen to Kelli. “Only a ‘true Princess’ would say that…”

            With those words, Kelli’s face went pale as she panicked that her cover was blown. The Queen walked over to the passenger seat, slid her hand underneath the leather seat and pulled out the most exquisite six and a half carat, three-stone diamond engagement ring, resulting in loud gasps from the gathered crowd.

            “Gran, what is… what…  how….?” Larry was completely baffled.

            “You see, David and I hatched a little plan, Larry.”

David, the showroom manager, bowed, tilted his head and simply said, “Ma’am.”

The Queen continued, “Each girl that passed through here claimed to be a real Princess, but there was only one Princess here and that was Kelli. As soon as I saw her here a few weeks ago, I instantly knew that I recognised her and called up her father, Prince Alec to confirm it.”   

The Queen ushered a shocked Kelli over to her side and clutched her hand affectionately. “Kelli my darling, I’ve known you since you were a baby from my Royal tours of Sweden. Your father and I are great allies.”

Looking at Larry who stood to the other side of her, she continued, “The two of you were the best of baby friends, babbling and playing on the Royal lawns together. I even have videos of you two pretending to get married.”

The pair blushed as the memories came flooding back to them and Larry and Kelli smiled at each other, vaguely remembering the scene.

            “Kelli, won’t you join us for high tea back at the Palace?” the Queen asked. Kelli looked over at her boss, about to open her mouth to decline the offer when the Queen said, “Don’t worry. David will give you the rest of the day off. Won’t you, David?”

            David handed a set of keys over to Larry. “Drive carefully, your Highness. We need Kelli back safely for work in the morning. Although I’m guessing this could be Kelly’s last day…?” David smiled at Kelli and then at the Queen, who had told him all about who Kelli really was weeks ago and plotted the matchmaking.

            Larry escorted Kelli over to the new car and as he was about to remove the cut-out, she said, “Let’s keep him, he’s cute.”

            Larry grinned and said, “Maybe he can be my best man one day?” And with that, Prince Larry and Princess Kelli drove off and lived happily ever after (once they’d got through the London traffic.)

Enjoy the wedding.

xx

Be a Good Sport…

On my first date with my husband (Silks & Spice, Camden), he casually mentioned in conversation that he was ‘into sport’. Alarm bells should have rung, but it was only through marriage and a shared custody of a Sky remote control, that I truly realised the extent to which ‘into sport’ actually meant.

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Silks & Spice sadly no longer open. Marriage still going strong. 

I’m quite aware that most of my life revolves around a sporting event. For example:

Me: “We’re going over to friends tomorrow for tea.”

Husband: “What time?”

Me: “Why?” (I know full well why.)

Husband: “(*insert seasonal sport here*) is on tv. If they haven’t got it on in the background, I’m going home.”

My social butterfly…

 

 

Thinking back, my first birth gave a clear indication of life as a sports widow.

Around 2am on the 14th September 2006, my husband found me at the foot of our bed, curled over a giant gym ball thingy, declaring, “I give up.’

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I think I was doing it wrong. Photo Credit: Rooted for Life

A couple of nights previous we’d had a false alarm, so once the hospital staff had finished prodding me and were satisfied that I was definitely in labour this time, husband decided we were in it for the long haul and proper arrangements needed to be made.

He even managed to schmooze the nurses into dragging a camp bed into the room for him. Tiring for the men, after all…Unknown-11.jpeg

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‘Comfty’, as my youngest says

Around 15 hours later, my beautiful daughter was born and whilst dizzy from both the epidural and the fact that she wasn’t a boy, I will always remember that soft green glow as I was wheeled back into the room…

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I always favour a v-neck

 

No. It wasn’t the staff in their scrubs.

It was the green haze from the football pitch on the tv screen as my husband held our daughter, experiencing her first game of many, whilst cradled in daddy’s arms, lying on the camp bed. (Ah, now I could see the urgency of the camp bed.)

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Not actual husband. Or daughter

I looked on in marvel at the thing next to me, peaceful, calm, content.

And that was just my husband. He even remembers the game. (Of course he does.Unknown-11.jpeg)

UEFA Cup – West Ham vs Palermo fact fans.

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Actual footage 14.9.06

I’m not a particularly sporty person, safe to say I’m not really sporty at all. I like the gym, Pilates, a friendly game of badminton or table tennis. Even basketball, but only if it’s at the funfair and involves winning a bag of candy floss.

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Yum. Get in my belly…

I just have zero interest in reliving my ‘wing attack’ days at school and joining a ladies league of netball.

No offence to those who do this pursuit for pleasure or professionally…plenty of my female friends are loving this release on a weekday evening – it’s just not for me. In fact, massive props to the England Netball Team who recently thrashed to receive gold at the Commonwealth Games.

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So emotional.. as I watch from the sofa.

Before I get trolled and bashed on social media for dividing the sexes, lots of female friends watch and attend just as many games as their other halves on a regular basis and have done since a very young age. (Even funnier when rival husband and wives are at the same match. You know who you are…)

But going back to base levels, I’ve been through alot recently. Alot.

Darts. Done. (He threatens to take me every year. FYI, I would go.)

Olympics. Done.

Cricket. Done.

Golf. Done. (Although I secretly quite like watching The Masters because:

A) the clapping and birdsong is so calming

and

B) my usually 9pm-watershed husband is actually still lucid at midnight

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So relaxing

So, to all of my football widow friends – we’ve performed really well this season, with limber checks on our phones for match updates and team support over whose evening will be the most ruined due to a match loss.

Just a few weeks to go and it will all be over  Unknown-9.jpeg

.

.

.

…I’ve just been gently reminded that the World Cup starts in under two months.

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I think I might take up netball for the summer…

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ps. Good luck to everyone participating in tomorrow’s London MarathonUnknown-10.jpeg(I’ll be watching. From my sofa.)

A Bit of a Do

I would definitely say that I’m an introvert. Handy link if you need clarification about what an introvert is. (Youngest thought it was a description for an ‘innie belly button’. ‘Extrovert’ being an outie one of course.)

In a nutshell, I love stimuli – articles, films, conversations, people watching… but once I’m ‘full’, I need time on my own to digest all that ‘stuff’ and reflect, possibly doing something with this new information. Like maybe write this blog.

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For today, at least…

Over the past few weeks there has been plenty of time for fun stimuli. A flurry of invites for birthdays, breakfasts, dinners and bar mitzvahs filled my social diary for February and March ..and I loved it.

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Husband? Hmmm, not so much.

For those with ‘FOMO‘ – ‘Fear of Missing Out’ – he is the polar opposite, suffering from a horrific case of ‘FOBO’ – Fear of Being Out’.

I’m not saying he’s anti-social, but     He’s anti-social.

But once the invites are in, where to store them?

I’m a neat freak and the whole magnet-to-fridge thing is an eyesore for me.

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DEFINITELY not my fridge. This just makes me itchy…

Plus, I can’t deal with all the paraphernalia falling off each time the door is opened or closed. (And when husband gets home from work, there is much fridge traffic.)

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*Not me. Or my fridge. Although I do have ‘Mrs Balls Chutney‘ in mine too

Pinboards are a nice idea in theory, but again, messy. Plus there’s a chance of standing on a rogue pushpin. Anyone else fondly remember finding these embedded into the sole of your school shoe, as you tap-tap-tapped down the corridors?

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Ahh, the humble drawing pin

For me, all pertinant paperwork has to be stored in a display folder.

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Like this one

Every party invite (kid AND adult), school class list, timetable, letter about choir, or any other A4 (or smaller) piece of paper that requires attention will be stored here.

Message me and ask…

‘When do the kids break up?’

‘When is sports day?’

‘What time does so-and-so’s party start?’

‘Is so-and-so’s barmitzvah at Radlett Reform or Radlett United Synagogue?’

And the information is at my fingertips. (Bar the last bit of info, where an entrance into Radlett Reform could have been a major error…)

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MAZEL TOV!…Do I know you?

With alot of these invites, comes a necessity to ‘get pitzed up’. To put into context:

Saturday evening, dinner with friends…

“Are you going casual or getting pitzed up?”

Or more specifically thanks to Google:

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You say Farpitzs, I say Pitzed

Alot of these invites thankfully carry indications as to the level of appropriate dressing. Or at least they used to. Black tie, black tie no tie, cocktail, dress to party, glam, party, fancy fucking dress (FML), casual, ‘festival’… and so on.

Each one will carry the same conversation with my husband, an hour, possibly half an hour, before we are due to leave for said ‘do’.

Him: “What’s the dress code?”

Me: “Dress to party.”

Him: “Can I wear jeans?”

Me: “Unknown-6.jpeg

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Ideal outfit goals for husband on the end

For me, I LOVE the prep. By all means stop reading right now, as next bit is going to sound super shallow, of Kim Kardashian proportions…

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Pitzed up

Exfoliating, face mask, spray tan, manicure, pedicure, hair cut, hair colour, blow dry, comb out (it’s a thing), make up, outfit.. and that’s just the men. Trust me – I go to alot of ‘things’, and there are a great many tanned women standing next to their considerably paler partners. There needs to be more of this:

 

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Tanning guru Jules Von Hep at work. On a man

I say I enjoy it.. but then again, it’s an utterly exhausting, logistical process, involving a flurry of bank card activity as stuff is bought, returned and exchanged. (And you always forget that you need tights.)

Don’t worry. I agree… First. World. Problems.  But it’s the world we are living in. And we need to prepare our kids for the future.

Here’s some 2018 GCSE sample maths questions:

Q18: If Vicki has a party on Saturday night, in order to achieve optimum colour, should she have her spray tan on:

A) Monday

B) Thursday

C) A week before

D) Friday

Q19: If Suzie wears 5″ heels to a party which starts at 8pm, what time will she lose feeling in the balls of her feet:

A) 8:03pm

B) Midnight

C) 1am

D) 9pm

Q20: If Gemma eats two pieces of sushi at 7pm at a wedding reception and has five toffee vodka shots during the course of the evening, at what point will she throw up?

A) Never

B) Half past midnight

C) 9:30pm

D) 11:15pm

Q21: If Rachel’s dress is midnight blue, which shoes will match perfectly:

A) Rose gold

B) Gold

C) Antique gold

D) Nude

If Lloyd is going to a 40th party, what is the probability that he will sing ‘Jump Around’ whilst wearing fake sunglasses, neon bracelets and a bandana:

A) 0%

B) 2%

C) 50%

D) 100%

Q22: If Scott has a tendency to sweat alot when dancing, how many spare shirts should he take with to change into during the course of his son’s barmitzvah party?

A) One

B) Two

C) Three

D) Ten

 

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Scott, take ten…

 

A full list of questions will be available in due course.

Now to wash off my spray tan….

x

I Just Called to Say I Love You

As a true 80s kid, I recently re-lived the heady days of my youth by watching ‘Stranger Things‘ and loved it. Somehow it wasn’t on my radar last year, but thanks to binge-watching I have completed Seasons 1 & 2. If you haven’t done it, do it. Think ‘ET’, meets ‘The Lost Boys’ meets ‘Stand by Me’ meets ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’. And a soundtrack of greatness including ‘Hazy Shade of Winter’ by ‘The Bangles’. (Now on my gym playlist.)

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I’m not saying I’m willing to go back to the 80s – no GHD‘s, only one fragrance option in the form of ‘Electric Youth’ and horrific fake tan for starters –  but I do find myself very happily reminiscing about simpler times.

 

No mobile phones for one thing. Maybe the odd pager. At University, one roommate was way ahead of her time and had a pager thingy. Still not sure why. She didn’t have aspirations in the medical field, and yet carried it on her person at all times.

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Be at the Student bar. 9:30 sharp.

 

It was all about the landline. Husband still takes great pleasure in reciting friends’ home phone numbers to them. It’s a skill. Obviously I remember my own. I just dialled it. Purely for fun. Try it for yourself. Quite cathartic. Imagine if your teenage self answered? (Oohhh.. film idea.)

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Old faithful

These days, I’m still all about the landline. I don’t know why. I just like it. If you give me an option of a landline number, I will call it. Most of my friends know that if their landline rings, it’s me (or PPI.)

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My own landline is a random ‘0203’ number which often catches people off guard…

“Hi, is this so-and-so? I’m calling from the National Lottery and you have an unclaimed jackpot ticket for the EuroMillions…”

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Yeah, good luck. It’s me, you idiot.

 

If the landline rings in my own house, no-one answers it. Literally they all feign deafness to the Nth degree. At best, husband will take a glance at the caller ID and decide that it’s not for him and deign not to answer it. (Feign and deign in one paragraph. I even impressed myself.)

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Pick it up!!!

But going back to that 80s thing, I do miss the purpose of actually making a phone call on the landline. It meant there was something of importance to declare, to tell, to announce, to share.

Hours and hours spent on the phone to friends, talking gibberish. Even a dabble on those  0891 numbers with one particular friend. The phone bill, OMG the phone bill. No wonder those party lines got shut down.

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Remember the Chat Back jingle? “FIFTY! FIFTY! FIFTY!”

 

If all this nostalgia is making me sound old, I suppose it’s because I am. I commented to someone about loving the ‘Not3s and Mabel’ song, ‘My Lover‘ (handy link for you.)

“Yeah”, she said, “Mabel’s mum was some famous singer years ago. Let me Google it.”

I’m thinking ‘years ago’, as in way before my time, in that I too wouldn’t know who the mother was. She Googled and showed me the mother.

Neneh.

Neneh Fucking Cherry.

Mabel’s mum.

That’s not ‘some singer years ago’.

That’s my youth, learning every word to every song on ‘Raw Like Sushi’ from the cassette inlay card.

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Gigolo, huh. Sucka.

A youth free from social media, making real phone calls and writing proper letters to people, to hear that satisfying ‘plumpf’ from bundles of post falling onto the front door mat. Valentines cards even…

…and talking of Valentines Day (subtle lead in)…

This is what I’ll be making for dessert tonight.

Nigella’s Cookie Dough Pots

Easiest recipe ever. Click above 👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻 for gateway to dessert heaven. 

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6 ramekins + 3 spoons = 2 each

Foolproof. Okay so maybe one particular friend will fuck it up, but what can I do?

Freezable. If they ever make it that far.

Parev. If you are that way inclined and sub the butter for veg friendly option like Tomer (other brands available).

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I use these. No pressure

I also use disposable foil pots when I can’t be bothered with washing up ramekins because I have over eaten and am more Waynetta than Nigella.

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Valentines Night Goals

But tonight Matthew, I’ll be using these. For novelty fun.

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All hail Tiger Stores and their seasonal shelves

Thank me later. But don’t blame me if recipe doesn’t feed 6. It doesn’t. I can eat at least 4 of them…

Happy Valentines Day.

x

‘Tis the Season to be Poorly

Okay, so a bit of an over-reaction, but there’s ‘alot of it going round at the moment’ and no-one likes to be off sick this time of the year. It mucks up your best-laid plans, gets in the way of fun stuff and generally ruins your festive spirit.

Last week, daughter #2 started off with a cough, which manifested itself as croup. I remember first time heard the seal-like cough from her bedroom – she was about 3 years old and it was 3am.

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The other seal

Luckily Google was wide awake and gave the advice to get cold, fresh air into her, so we stood shivering by her open window with me pretending to be all calm and parental. Luckily it did the trick.

In my day (yes, I’m that old), I had a Wrights Vapouriser in my bedroom for this type of thing. It was a metal lantern with an absorbent block nestled inside the lid, onto which you’d pour this magical vapourising liquid. You’d pop a tea light underneath and the heat would warm the block, releasing this potent whiff that eased all kinds of breathing difficulties.

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Would never pass Health & Safety today

It smelled a bit like coal tar and filled your room entire house with the fumes, but boy did it help. I still wind down my window and inhale when driving past freshly laid tarmacadam. (Yes, that’s the full name for tarmac.)

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Dream job

In my family, everyone copes differently when they’re ill:

Daughter #1 – gets a bit narky if I ask her how she’s feeling. Allergic to Penicillin. Refusal to take medicine in pill form.

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Just one sodding spoonful is all I ask…

Daughter #2 – goes through a drama of epic proportions each time a medicine syringe goes anywhere near her. You know that scene in Airplane when that woman is in panic mode and everyone is trying to calm her down? That is my youngest. With a steady line of friends, parents, grandparents (and cleaner – yes, she was roped in as well) all approaching her to try and help with the medicine-administering process.

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Get a hold of yourself

Husband – no words…

Okay – words. He is hypochondria re-incarnate and can often be seen retreating to the spare room at first sign of anyones’ illness.

If you search ‘Dr’ on his mobile, it can take at least two full swipes of his contact list to scroll through the directory of consultants he has on file, in all major postcode areas and even on the continent.

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His desk at work is a sight to behold: tissues, anti-bac gels, Vicks First Defence, vitamins, pro-biotics. I actually think he is stockpiling to start up a pharmacy to rival Boots and am considering getting him a faux-Doctor sign for his desk.

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Still tickles me

Me – I just get on and deal with it, a trait inherited from my dad. That said, if I’m truly struggling I will admit defeat and start on anti-biotics. Dad just battles on through with liquid Night Nurse. He is old school. I reckon his blood is green.

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The taste never leaves you…

So, what to do with the days spent at home playing Florence Nightingale to the fam?

Clear out the bathroom cabinet of course!

The stockpiling – again, mainly husband – is insane. How many packs of Dioralyte does one actually need in their lifetime? The majority of these meds have an expiry date, so go check your cabinets and stock up on stuff for when the shops are shut over the holidays.

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Almost identical to my bathroom cabinet situation

Please sing along – you know the tune:

#…On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me, some shower caps in packs of three.

On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me, two cotton-buds and some shower caps in packs of three.

On the third day of Christmas my true love sent to me, three nail files, two cotton-buds and some shower caps in packs of three.

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me, four shower gels, three nail files, two cotton-buds and some shower caps in packs of three.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me, five tooth pastes…four shower gels, three nail files, two cotton-buds and some shower caps in packs of three.

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love sent to me, six plasters boxes, five tooth pastes…four shower gels, three nail files, two cotton-buds and some shower caps in packs of three.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me, seven body lotions, six packs of plasters, five tooth pastes…four shower gels, three nail files, two cotton-buds and some shower caps in packs of three.

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love sent to me, eight packs of tooth picks, seven body lotions, six packs of plasters, five tooth pastes…four shower gels, three nail files, two cotton-buds and some shower caps in packs of three.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love sent to me, nine tubs of hair gel, eight packs of tooth picks, seven body lotions, six packs of plasters, five tooth pastes….four shower gels, three nail files, two cotton-buds and some shower caps in packs of three.

(Bear with – nearly there – hope you’re still singing)

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love sent to me, ten squashy ear plugs, nine tubs of hair gel, eight packs of tooth picks, seven body lotions, six packs of plasters, five tooth pastes…four shower gels, three nail files, two cotton-buds and some shower caps in packs of three.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me, eleven headache tablets, ten squashy ear plugs, nine tubs of hair gel, eight packs of tooth picks, seven body lotions, six packs of plasters, five tooth pastes…four shower gels, three nail files, two cotton-buds and some shower caps in packs of three.

(Deep breath…)

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me…

twelve Calpol bottles

eleven headache tablets

ten squashy ear plugs

nine tubs of hair gel

eight packs of tooth picks

seven body lotions

six packs of plasters

five tooth pastes…

four shower gels

three nail files

two cotton-buds

and some shower caps in packs of three!!!…#

Happy Clearing. x

Hallo-mean

In a blink of an eye, somehow it’s end the of October and Halloween is upon us all. No longer is it just a small celebration compared to our American friends across the pond who go large or go home for Halloween shenanigans.

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Otherwise known as ‘All Hallows Evening’.

Which became ‘Hallowe’en.’

And now, as we commonly know it, Halloween.

No wonder they simplified it. People can’t even get their apostrophes right at the best of times, especially when high on sugar.

Some believe that Halloween ends the harvest season, which, spookily coupled with the fact that it occurs at the same time the clocks go back, it does seem to make sense. If you’re in this blog for some big facts about where it all originated from, then  The Telegraph link gives some pretty interesting viewpoints, including the fact that people used to carve turnips, not pumpkins.

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Can’t take credit for this

Without wanting to sound like a misery (which would be a totally apt costume), Halloween doesn’t sit well with me.

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“I’ll take good care of you. I’m your number one fan.”

This nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that it is a Pagan festival. (Room for all beliefs on this blog).

It’s just because I like getting value for money with things and I’m a big punter for cost-per-wear when buying clothing. So, try as I might to get my kids to recycle something from ‘the dressing up box’, they’re not having it.

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“What about a fairy princess zombie?” I ask.

(raised eyebrow from daughter #1)

“How about a rainbow unicorn devil?” I say cheerfully.

(raised eyebrow from daughter #2, although very, very hard to tell as she is super blonde and the eybrows will definitely require future tinting.)

“Maybe a mermaid monster?” I suggest helpfully.

(They both leave the room at this point.)

I summon up all the determination I have remaining after a two week half term stint and suggest a fun option for the youngest.

“How about bloodying up the fabulous pink tafetta ballgown that your sister wore in the school concert last year?” (Ebay £12.99)

Eldest throws a tantrum and refuses to give up the dress that she will never wear again and which no longer fits, simply that she loves it as ‘a memory’.

My turn to raise an eyebrow, which doesn’t go un-noticed by eldest.

“Mummy, can I customise your wedding dress then? It doesn’t fit you and you’re never going to wear it again….”

Fair point, well made.

But no. My dress shall sit in the loft, in all its tissue paper and boxed glory, until I can re-eneact the scene from ‘Pretty in Pink’, thus living out all of my John Hughes 80s fantasies.

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Andie – my hero

With a heavy heart I drag myself to the computer and thank and berate in equal amounts, those clever people at Amazon for inventing Prime.

My girls hear the keyboard click and come rushing in…

“That one! That one! ‘Zombie cheerleader’, Mummy!!! Quick – turn on 1-click!”

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They are not fools, my offspring.

Upon me questioning the ‘zombie cheerleader hybrid’ being akin to a ‘zombie princess mish-mash’, ie. ‘scary’ merged with ‘sweet’, I am again met with a double set of raised eyebrows.

At the end of a two week half term stint, I am weak. And I give in, high on fumes of ‘We love you! Best mummy ever! Thank you thank you!’

It all just escalates from there really…

The loft decorations are brought down and as if by some Chanukah oil-burning miracle, the Poundland spider wreath decoration still has life in it and the battery is still going strong two years later.

As if by magic (dark fucking magic), there are lanterns and plastic ghosts and jars of eyeballs now adorning the front of my house that would make Jonathan Ross proud.

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Woss’s house

Just when I thought I had gotten away with it, the annual pumpkin request is made and we head off to Morrisons for pumpkins.

So we’re pretty much Halloween ready.

Costumes  –

Pumpkins – 

Decorations – 

Sweets for visitors –

The trick part? Getting my kids to bed so I can hunt down the Bounty miniatures.

If that makes me a freak, I’m happy with that.

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A bounty of Bounty

Happy Halloween. 

Pour Aller au cinéma?

My nephew recently emerged the other side his GCSEs (he did brilliantly, thanks for asking) and I loved hearing all about his studies and progress along the way (as well as being extremely thankful that I didn’t have to sit mine again, let alone understand the latest grading system to come into play.)

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It was my nephew’s grasp of languages that impressed me most, as I have complete admiration for people like him who study another language and shine at it (a nice shiny A*), with particular props to those who opt for the language route without bi-lingual parents.

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Standard

At school I was surrounded by people studying everything from Chinese to Russian to Latin. I then went onto University, with many friends choosing to study Business with a language. When I started working at MTV, I was in the hub of the European Marketing Department and surrounded by colleagues who were multi-lingual, which I could only throw in the odd ‘ja’, oui and non, much like Joey in ‘Friends’.

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Ouais, ouais, naturellement

As I sat back and listened to them commandeer events in French, German, Spanish and everything in between, I wish I had taken my studies further than just French and German A-level, in order to be able to get more involved at events. Whilst I had mastered fluent Avagav, it just wasn’t a widely recognised enough language.*

 

It’s some time ago, but random foreign words have stuck in my mind.

For the Germans out there:

Mein Vater ist ein Tankwart – My dad is a petrol pump attendant. (He isn’t, but this phrase was my GCSE pull-it-out-of-the-bag to impress the adjudicators one.)

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Add to that a selection of favourite German words that friends and colleagues taught me:

Meerschweinchen = guinea pigs

sehr lecker = very tasty

Fledermaus = bat

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Yes. Potato salad is very tasty

..and for the French lovers:

 

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Ahh, Louis Laloupe. Good times

Je suis une fille unique – I am an only child (Yep, still am.)

Pour aller au cinéma? – Which way is the cinema? …I wonder if anyone studying French has ever actually used this in a real life situation? Or the Town Centre for that matter. So cliché. (Pun intended.)

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Tournez  à gauche

Pamplemousse = grapefruit

Parapluie = umbrella

That amazing ability to converse confidently in a foreign language still impresses me and  revisiting languages is definitely up there on my list of things I want to do in the future.

If not just to be able to sing certain song lyrics properly. ‘Despacito’. ‘Mi Gente’. I’m singing something but it’s definitely not the right words.

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I mean, if Justin can’t even do it…

Each summer I visit Spain (okay, just Marbella) and I can now confidently chuck in the odd ‘una bolsa’ (a bag) and ‘una mas’ (one more) in the ‘supermercado’ (oh, come on it’s not that cryptic). In my mind, with just a couple of words, a smile and a nod, they believe I am Spanish.

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In reality, when the cashier tots up my shopping and announces, “Setenta seis euros y ochenta y ocho céntimos,” I freeze and hand over a €100 note and simply hope for the best. Literally, I have no idea past ten.

You see, communicating is ‘my thing’ if you haven’t realised. I get terribly frustrated when I can’t get my point across, which is the issue with my limited Spanish. I often get panicky when I have to make a restaurant booking, even with the help of iTranslate

I can do the days of the week, thanks to a catchy little song my youngest learnt at nursery.

I can specify number of diners and the time I need the table for. When they reply with ‘Perfecto’ (great) or ‘Hasta mañana’ (see you tomorrow), it’s all good. Anything other than that and I usually hang up and pass the role onto a better-equipped person. (Husband.)

Even when I do manage a successful booking it can sometimes go wrong. Case in point this summer, when my kids really, really, really wanted to go back to the equivalent of Benihana’s and have scrambled egg flipped into their mouths from the hibachi grill. I try to get them to eat scrambled egg at home, but no such luck. Am considering flipping all non-desirable foodstuff at them with a spatula.

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‘Joséhanas’

I had booked it for ‘Debbie’ (that’s me) for 8pm. I had booked early enough in the week. I had confirmed the day before. The kids were living for it.

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Arrive at restaurant.

“No. No booking for Debbie, but you can sit at a normal table and order from the menu.”

“Errr. No.” I said. “My kids want omelette flipped at them.”

After much ‘discussion’, arm flapping and referring to the reservation book, it was 8:15. The other booking had clearly not shown up and I suggested we have the table or they lose custom anyway.  On the way to the table I casually enquired who this other reservation was for.  The other person was ‘Waby’.

Yes, I’m ‘Waby’.

I guess things get lost in translation.

x

(*campaigns to GCSE board to introduce Avagav as a recognised language option)

 

Keep Calm and Remain Stationary…

I don’t need my iPhone display to tell me that September is upon us. You can feel it, see it and even smell it in the air.

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If July and August were all about shell collecting for me, then September brings the conker harvest. Memories of going to school with a carrier bag full of conkers and chucking the contents across the playground with an accompanied, “SCRAMBLE!!” (Wouldn’t happen today – the bags are 5p…)

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Of all the seasons, Autumn is my favourite as it reminds me of walking to synagogue with my dad to celebrate the start of the Jewish New Year. On our journey, we would look at the change in scenery, spot figs on a neighbour’s tree and I would collect conkers, storing them in his prayer bag to add to my collection at home. (Conkers, not prayer bags…)

You can just ‘smell’ autumn in the air – if I was cryogenically frozen a la Woody Allen’s ‘Sleeper’, I could easily sniff out Autumn.

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A futuristic conker

It may also be because there is another distinct smell in the air – that of parental relief that the kids are going back to school, quickly followed by the whiff of panic that a lengthy list of items needs to be bought from the uniform shop and stationers.

With a queue to rival that of ‘Thunder Railroad’, including ticketing and barriers, unfortunately the uniform shop ain’t no Disneyland. And there’s definitely no option to buy fast passes. (I would if I could.) Everyone is treated equally and there is no favouritism.

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There is a method of course…

Step 1 – Make a fucking list

Seriously – it’s uniform shopping 101. You have a line of bored, angry, frustrated, irritable people, many of them who would choose the returns queue at Zara over this shit. Make a list and make your time in the shop as quick and painless as possible.

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During a quiet period

 

Step 2 – Muster up lots of patience

As Axl Rose once sang, this patience needs to be doled out in bucketloads.954d455cd24bfa8eeac06c668042940d.jpgPatience with your kids, for other hapless parents and also for the poor staff dealing with your precious darlings who are arguing over the length of their skirt, itchiness of their jumper and the ridiculously oversized track suit.

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“It’s fine. You’ll grow into it.”

However, my patience wears thin when you consider that the usual staff count will have been bolstered with ‘holiday staff’. Under normal circumstances, I’m fully willing to give people a chance, but not the uniform shop. I have no shame in offering up the risky-looking temp staff member to the person behind me in the queue. I would much rather wait another few minutes for an experienced member of staff.

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The above rule also applies when it comes to buying school shoes. My youngest is ‘full of personality’ when it comes to shoe shopping and only one staff member will be able to fit her with minimal fuss. (She knows who she is.)

Armed with a supply of coppers to keep them occupied at the swirly-whirly helter-skelter charity box, I patiently wait until I get ‘my person’. Job done in just a few minutes.

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‘The Money Spinner’. (Trademark name fact fans)

 

Step 3 – Choose your branding wisely

Whether you go for sew-in, stick-in, stamp-in or reckless Sharpie daubing, the choice is yours when it comes to labelling it all. I have one friend who goes supersized on her sew-in labels, meaning her kids’ items can be identified from Mars.

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Personally, I opt for a mixture of all the possibilities listed above, but just know that I have it on good authority from a teacher friend of mine, that they’re more likely to hand back the easily identifiable stuff, than a biro scribble that has faded in the wash.

There is just so much to do, and we haven’t even covered my favourite part of it all – the stationery.

Much like new toiletries for holiday, there is nothing like filling a new pencil-case with smelly pencils, ridiculous rubbers and highlighter pens that never seem to be used for highlighting anything, just drawing emojis.

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I take it as a time to replenish my own home-stock – new sticky tape, glue, pens, post- its…all of which have depleted over the holiday with the amount of arts, craft and the slime factory which was shut down months ago, but I believe is still operating via an underground cell.

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The joy of throwing out the pencils that no matter how many times you try to sharpen them, the lead gets stuck in the sharpener. Or the pen that has no lid and has inked up the entire inside of the pencil-case. Colouring pencils that are down to the nub.

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And if you were ever in doubt of the correct spelling of the word ‘stationery’…

Stationery – it has an ‘e‘.. as in ‘envelope’. Which is a form of stationery.

(And yes, the use of ‘a’ in the word ‘stationary’ in the blog title is deliberate.)

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And proud of it

Good luck to everyone starting new schools. (Particularly those with correctly labelled stuff.) xxx

Final Call…

I’m a big fan of getting to an airport on time early. There. I said it. I detest rushing. I will happily get up in the middle of the night (okay, so maybe it’s only 05:30), birds tweeting, to catch that first flight out of Luton. I’m not saying I would choose to rise that same time every single day, but there’s something exhilarating about watching the sky change colour, as you journey excitedly towards an airport.

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Highway to the danger zone… (okay, Malaga)

I’ve usually amassed about 4 hours sleep the night before because I have packed, unpacked and repacked to remove and replace various pieces of redundant clothing, additional medicines, another bottle of suncream, etc. I have also checked and double checked my alarm is set. Again, no rushing for me. I want my shower, I want my breakfast. Otherwise I’m not fun Mummy.

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Shower-fresh before a flight. Always

Travelling outfit is laid out ready for the whole family, because I physically don’t have it in me at 5am to concern myself with what everyone is wearing. And it would definitely become my concern.

Whatever I choose to wear, it will usually include a wrap-around scarf thing to mummify myself from plane seats (see earlier blog) and trainers with socks. I can’t deal with sandals in an airport –  too many trolley wheels and stampeding feet. I ‘sandalled’ once and at security we were told to remove shoes. Me. Barefoot. Airport floor. (*insert dry heave here*) Hence, always socks.

The packing side of things is a whole other blog (useful, if you’re after packing tips), but for years I avoided buying luggage scales. My bathroom scales were sufficiently accurate, if a little painful to read…

  1. Step on scales to set the display to ‘0.0.’
  2. Swiftly dump case on scales and pray that it doesn’t topple over
  3. Case topples over before registering a proper reading
  4. Repeat steps 1 & 2 until successful (usually 5 or 6 attempts)

As long as I was within a pound or two (weight, not money), I knew I was okay and could feign disbelief to husband at check-in, that official reading was a good 6 or 7 kilos more than my reading at home. “Ah, it must be because of our tiled floor surface.”

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However, those days of blagging extra kilos are long gone. (Even though, for the record,  the kids and my stuff weighs nothing and giant husband’s clothes are far heavier per item. Just saying.)

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Money saving travel outfit option 

One-click Amazon Prime a couple of years ago and I became the proud owner of a proper set of luggage scales which give an accurate digital reading.

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360kg? Sounds about right…

In fairness, and I have got better, (honest Guv) the majority of the weight-bulk in my case is toiletries. I can’t help it – I’m allergic to so much stuff that it’s not worth the risk of local purchases. I tan badly enough as it is. I don’t need an eczema flare-up on top of it.

Plus, holidays are a great excuse to go nuts buying new toiletries and bump up your Boots points. New toothbrushes, new toothpaste, new shower gel, new ‘shooshie’ – we love a shooshie in our house.

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Shooshies. Why? What do you call them?

I know someone who ‘sparks joy’ (that Marie Kondo method) at finishing something, such as a box of cereal or some face cream. For me, I’m all about new and not just around holiday time.

Butter – the peel-off of that paper bit on top – heavenly! And that first butter curl? The best. Just stay away with your toast crumbs please.

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Nutella – I’ll give the gold foil a satisfying stab, but then every single piece of foil needs peeling off. Every last bit.

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Unacceptable

Greek yoghurt – that protective paper film thing confused the hell out of me the first time I bought the product.

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How do you pronounce it?

Milk – Once the lid is off, I am wary of people who don’t fully remove the peel off part. I’m live with people who do similar to tins of sweetcorn and tuna. It pains me.

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The horror of it…

Face/eye cream – a BIG favourite, especially if it comes with a protective lid thingy that makes direct contact with the product. I can eek out at least a week’s worth of usage from lid excess, before even touching the product inside the pot.

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New toothpaste – those first few pumps to get the toothpaste out? That’s what dreams are made of. We are a pump dispenser family, although to save our marriage, I no longer share a dispenser with him. (FYI, He does still have his lid. It was discarded at first use, although it’s sits in the bathroom cupboard. ‘Just in case’.)

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His (on the left) is no longer my problem…

Must go to bed. I’m getting up in 4 hours and am still swapping things in and out of the case.

Happy summer. xxx

P.S. It’s pronounced ‘Fa-yeh’!

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No, really. It is.