“They Fucking Forgot My Birthday” – Samantha Baker, Sixteen Candles.

So far, it’s thankfully not happened to me and people generally remember my birthday, especially in the age of Facebook reminders, calendar reminders and even human reminders. I have one friend in a whatsapp group who is the Queen of calendar reminders: our birthdays, spouse birthdays, anniversaries, kids birthdays, even ex-boyfriend birthdays. NGL, if a key date completely slips my mind, it helps to ride off the back of her well-wishes on the group chat.

When I was a paper diary kind of gal (still am in spirit tbh), I would spend far too long around this time of year buying a new diary for the commencing year. Whilst I do miss the ‘flick-flick-flick’ of a paper diary, I know that the ‘new me’ appreciates the many advantages that my digital diary has. (She says through gritted teeth.)

A lot of people LOVE their birthday. I have many friends like this – usually the ones with coveted summer birthday dates which allow for bbq action and other al fresco fun, tier 2 lockdown or otherwise.

A lot of people LOATH their birthday. (My husband runs the fan club and is always open to more members.)

I’m somewhere in the middle – I like my birthday. I share it with some amazing people that I have met along the way and there is something heartwarming about meeting someone new and discovering that you share the same birthday. I get the same fuzzy feeling when I notice food goes off on my actual birthday.

Happy fishes. x

I’m just pretty low maintenance when it comes to my birthday. I’m not someone who loves to be the centre of attention, but a few dozen social media posts are always nice.

The whole social media thing can get a bit overwhelming though. One friend, went awol on our group chat and hadn’t replied to any of our private birthday greetings. It basically took her 3 days to even notice OUR messages because she was so stressed out with all of the housekeeping of replying to all of her OTHER messages.

Last week, I binge watched ‘Emily in Paris’ along with the rest of the world and I was reminded how it literally feels like yesterday that this photo was taken. Except that it wasn’t. It was five years ago. FIVE!

Debbie in Paris. 20/10/15

I mean, who the hell did I think I was? Carrie Bradshaw?

Goals.

Yup – I really did.

When asked by husband ‘what would you like for your 40th’, I said that I wanted to wake up Paris, with my fam and see the Eiffel Tower from my hotel room balcony…

Not so much luck on the last point.

But! We made it to Paris.

And I so I woke up on my actual 40th birthday IN Paris and we went TO the Eiffel Tower. Definitely a birthday I will never forget.

Aiming for similar stats on the 142 ‘likes’.

Unlike some other birthdays.

By that, I don’t mean they have been ‘forgettable’, but I have very hazy recollections of them.

Working backwards, I can recall the ‘big’ birthdays:

Lockside Bar in Camden for my 30th.

Some bar in Hampstead for my 25th.

And Manchester for my 21st.

At the time I was a student and so a couple of us hustled together to split hire costs and secure the downstairs room in a big enough venue for a guest list of about 200. Students today can only dream of such extended guest lists.

La Tasca, Deansgate. Were you present?

I remember very little. But there was definitely a stripper. Whipped cream. And a banana. Nothing covid-friendly about the evening, that’s for sure.

So at 45, the only stripping will be me getting into bed early doors once we’re kicked out of the restaurant at 10:01.

Wishing all fellow Librans a happy healthy birthday. x

We Were. We Weren’t. We’re Not.

Jan 2020 – We’re going to Spain in the summer. Yay!

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March 2020 – Not 100% sure that we’re going to Spain now.

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August 2020 – We’re definitely not going to Spain.

I have mixed emotions about this. My in-laws have an apartment in Marbella and I’ve been fortunate to enjoy lovely, long summers there over the years with my family. From dating, to holidaying with friends, to married, to babies: we’ve made some amazing memories on the Costa.

So whilst some friends have still chosen to go abroad, we weighed it all up and decided a firm ‘no’.

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I’ve become quite soppy and sentimental about ‘my’ Marbella, even though I’m reminded by my family about the moan up I often have when I get there. Just to present my case to the jury though, the minute we enter the flat, swimwear, suncream and goggles are demanded of me. I’m then left to unpack and then head off to the local supermarket, working out the biting point of the clutch on the hire car.

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Packing cube girl for life, me

So yes – it takes me a day or so to unwind and fully relax.

But I will kind of miss it.

I will miss lots of things.

I have made a list of them:

1. We are usually booked on the 6am easyJet flight from Luton – a pretty vile hour to travel but I kind of like that groggy feeling of getting up before the sun rises and the excitement of watching the sky get lighter as you journey towards the airport. (Know what I mean?)

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2. The ‘whooompf’ of warm air when the plane doors open and you’re ‘abroad’. It’s a totally different kind of heat. And I love it.

3. Opening the flat door and seeing the kids run off to their rooms to discover a toy that they haven’t seen for over a year. Somehow the hula dancing cow from the lookie-lookie man on the beach is still going strong. But those plastic light-up pingie things that you flick into the air on the beach at night? Batteries are completely dead by the time you’ve got back to your hire car.

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These things

4. Supersol. And also Mercadona. (Which I can’t help saying in a heavy Scouse accent.) Not forgetting the big daddy, El Corte.

Spanish supermarkets might not have quick tills, but I love their fresh produce, discovering new things and most of all, enjoying ‘holiday meat’ in the flat. Sorry to all my observant friends. In London, we keep a kosher home. On the Costa? Second shelf of the fridge is for the ham – Iberico or Parma. We’re not fussed.

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Left or right?

5. Flor. And Nenuco. I love scents and aromas – candles, perfume, herbs, spices. So, as much as I love my Lenor and Comfort over here, there is something about the Spanish brands over there.

 

6. Fanta Limon. Was discussing with someone about this – I actually refuse to drink it in the UK. It is sacred to Spain. Same with Peanut butter M&Ms. Only in America.

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Sin hielo por favor

7. Chiringuitos. The coastline is full of these beachfront restaurants of which everyone has their favourites. And ‘Kala Kalua‘ is mine. Literally a beach shack. Nothing fancy about it. But you can’t beat the view, watching the sea, seeing the sun set and twinkly lights along the coast… it’s beautiful.

And of course the food. Traditional paella, grilled rosada, padron peppers. Everything tastes better outside with a view.

Me? I come for the aubergine fries.

Before I explain these delights to you, I just want to end on a round number, so:

8. Hearing the sea when I go to bed.

9. The clever lighting system in car parks to indicate available spaces. (I’ve talked about this before.)

and finally,

10. Beach walks. I will miss my post-lunch stroll with a bottle of water and a leftover nappy bag from the baby years in the flat. Still so handy for shell collecting.

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But back to the aubergine fries. These were an accidental discovery. We used to go to the neighbouring chiringuito, but one night we couldn’t get a table. Ended up at Kala Kalua and on being shown to our table, saw lots of diners ordering what looked like chips …but weren’t chips. So, we ordered them too. And double portions were ordered every time we returned.

It’s not quite the same eating them in England, but if you close your eyes and listen to the garden sprinkler, you could almost be right there on the beach.

Ridiculously Delicious Aubergine Fries Recipe (which probably isn’t exactly the same but nearly.)

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Actual Kala Kalua picture of fries

  • 2 medium size aubergines
  • Plain flour to coat
  • Olive oil for deep-frying (or any other vegetable oil)
  • Salt
  • Date molasses
  1. Cut aubergines into sticks; basically like chips.
  2. Toss with salt, place in a colander and let them stand for at least half an hour to get rid of all the excess liquid. Rinse, drain and pat dry.
  3. Place sticks in a bowl with the flour and coat them, shaking off any excess.
  4. Heat oil in a deep pan and fry the sticks in small batches until golden.
  5. Place on a plate with kitchen roll towel to absorb the excess oil. (I never said they were healthy.)
  6. Sprinkle salt. Drizzle the molasses. (Again, not so healthy but…)

One thing about Spain that I won’t miss, is that I usually fly out earlier with just my kids, husband joining us later on into the holiday, due to work commitments. This means he is in the UK on his birthday whilst we are all away. He hates his birthday.

This year, he’s working from home.

Happy birthday, Doll. Unknown-21

x

 

They Think it’s All Over. It is Now…

Another week, another blog. (To show solidarity to my kids, I set myself homework – ‘post another blog by next Friday’. #teacherspet.)

Also… Another week, another Boris announcement.

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More things returning to a ‘new normal’, but my kids are still being homeschooled, so I delayed lockdown activity #84 as long as possible: tie dye.

My youngest had done tie dye club at school once (remember that place?) and brought home a patterned pillowcase, so surely that was enough? Why should I have to do it in my own house?

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Aviator Nation – tie dye of dreams

Same reason I guess as having to do slime and rainbow looms. To be fair, thank goodness we’re not on ‘slime time‘ during lockdown. It was hard enough finding glue, hair gel and contact lens solution during ‘normal’ shopping situations.

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Following ‘Tie Dye Tuesday’, we now have no more white items of clothing. I can’t complain though, as they seemed to enjoy it and it was a fun filled ‘afternoon’. (An hour basically, but in lockdown years I would say that counts as at least three hours of peace and thankfully it was an activity that didn’t require the following: my assistance, flour, eggs or sugar.)

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Wear gloves. Whatever you do. #VioletBeauregarde

A lot of lockdown activities seem cyclical. I remember doing tie dye as a kid as well as lots of puzzles. Friends have gone nuts on the puzzle thing. I am not convinced. You do them and then what? I like things that have a purpose afterwards – like those sequin art things that can be money boxes or door plaques.

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That said, I have bought one puzzle. A fancy-shmancy one from Jonathan Adler which I am planning to frame as a lockdown memory. It’s very hard though. And I stupidly set it up in the loft, aka the sauna – and can therefore only manage about 15 minutes at a time up there.

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But back to lockdown activities, at the start of lockdown when everyone was on a clear-out frenzy, my neighbour proffered about 2000 Hama beads.

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Was I really ‘back there’ again?

Seemed I was. And my girls happily took commissions (mainly from bored Grandparents) of various shapes, patterns and animals. ‘Papa M’ is new the proud owner of a blue and white and green dragon/alligator hybrid with an ‘S’ on the front of it. A ‘good luck’ Hama-charm for the forthcoming Spurs season.

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Good luck charm? We’re going to need a bigger dragon…

Yup – we’re back there again too. It’s not coming home. It’s ‘come home’.

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The welcome break from the stresses and strains that my husband feels with every pass of the ball pass. It was good while it lasted, I’m not going to lie.

The ‘green screen’ is back on, in every room in the house. Never mind the fact that we are an energy saving household and we abide by the ‘lights off when not in use’ rule. I totally get it. I feel husband’s frustration of walking into an unoccupied room and finding various lights and lamps left on.

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Our house at night

So when he leaves tv’s on in every room in the house, it’s a bit like the offside rule to me.

I just don’t get it.

From lounge to kitchen, he needs a tv on.

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Me and him. In Costco

During a game, he might need nip upstairs to the loo (downstairs loo is available but certain ‘things’ get done in certain toilets, you know?) So, up he goes, passing the tv in our room which has to be on just in case he misses a goal or a penalty. 

Add to that, everyones windows are open in this warm weather, so there is the additional indicator of activity from the audible cheers and boos heard in neighbouring gardens.

Never mind hearing it in stereo, I’ve got cinema-style Dolby surround sound through my house.

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Those precious household goods…

For me, it’s my washing machine.

For him? It’s the tv. And because of this, Father’s Day was almost a write-off. There were multiple matches happening throughout the course of the day, but at midnight the night before, there was ‘a problem’.

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Our Sky system shut down. Literally. Totally. Completely. Nothing would work.

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There worst message he could ever receive pre-match

Fortunately, we have a ‘tv man’ who could be replied upon to ‘sort it out on a Sunday’. 

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Not our man. But similar

Thankfully, the tv’s got sorted by match start and all was right(-ish) in the world again.

(TV repair man is now part of our family ‘support bubble’ and will be joining us for Friday night Dinner.)

Have a safe week.

x

 

 

Lockdown Ginger

It’s been a while.

So long in fact, that I was locked out of my WordPress account and I had to dig deep to remember my password.

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Eldest? Plus birthdate?

But I’m here now, albeit nervously…

“Why aren’t you blogging?”

“Why haven’t you written anything?”

“How is the writing course coming along?”

All fantastic thanks. (In my head.)

It’s a strange thing, because pre-lockdown I felt I didn’t have enough time to concentrate on my writing. Now, having had the ultimate luxury of time, I’ve done even less writing.

WTAF?

The thing is, I’ve been a little bit busy with other things (possibly also known as ‘avoidance tactics’.)

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At the point of lockdown, I cancelled all pending appointments, loz’d my cleaner and thought, “Sure, I can do this.”

Because, even though I have an avoidance of certain things, in typical Libran balance, I LOVE getting stuff done! I’m a do-er. A ‘fixer’ as my friend calls me.

I can do this!

…I just hadn’t banked on a housefuls of family members doing ‘it‘ with me.

As an introvert,  I love to go out, being social, seeing friends, having fun. But I equally enjoy my time. Me time. Recharge time. Quiet time.

Husband heads off to work. Kids delivered to school. My house becomes ‘my place’. My refuge. My solace.

Gone.

Fucked.

Taken from me.

Kids not at school. Husband working from home.

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They’re always around…

What was this trickery? Would Ant and Dec suddenly pop out from behind my sofa and unveil this huge prank?

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Seemingly not. This was really happening.

“Okay. I can do this.” I told myself. Again.

I set to work with a strong plan in place and by week two, I’d made good progress on avoiding writing and tackling rooms and drawers and cupboards around the house.

Shelves and their items have been cleared and shifted, sometimes the actual shelves themselves, moving rarely-used items up high (like the Slushy ice maker machine thing) and making room for regularly used things to be at a more accessible height, rather than needing a stepladder. (Aka 6’4″ husband. Handy for high stuff, not necessarily DIY stuff. Although during lockdown he has proven himself a worthy apprentice and more than capable. )

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The aforementioned Slushy Maker

Onto the spare wine glasses from our wedding list, taking up valuable space in a kitchen cupboard. They’ve finally been unpacked – it’s only been 15 years. In our defence, we aren’t the biggest boozers. Husband rarely drinks, as it takes a LOT of alcohol to even make a dent in his impairment.

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Strata by Conran. A popular gift lift choice in the early 2000s

And the last time I was drunk was at a friend’s 40th, where wandering bar staff kept topping up drinks and somehow my glass was always in the firing line. I was carried out of there (apparently) and spent the following day in bed whilst husband took kids out for lunch. Mothers Day lunch. Shame.

Back to the lockdown though – the office had a good declutter and the shredder has been working double time. Yet to learn ‘five sheets maximum’ reminder is there for a reason.

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We’re jamming’…

There was a lot of cooking. A lot of cleaning. A lot of teaching. A lot of working. A lot of Zoom calls. A lot of washing.

We all had our jobs to do and set to it with pretty good attitudes. All working around each other, checking in to see how we were doing, going on walks and all sorts. Busy busy busy.

By week four, I was even looking at various designs for workwear coats.

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My Grandma wore one like this. She would definitely have made it onto the Big Breakfast ‘Woman in a Tabard’ segment

But by week six, I had to have a very frank discussion with myself that something had to give.  I was forever cleaning, still wanting to keep the house ‘just so’, forcing all ‘housemates’ to commend me on ‘how nice the bathroom smelled’, ‘how clean the floor was’ and how ‘satiny smooth the ironed bed linen was’. By the way, don’t come at me with your ‘I don’t iron my bedsheets’ – I am willing to give up some things. Not that.

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Not my actual bed. But excellent ironing.

I was done. Finished. Frazzled. Miserable. I had to purge something before I was shipped off in a straight-jacket and thanks to a very good friend, experiencing similar, she encouraged me to draw up a schedule and stick to it. It involved 50% less cleaning. I was over the moon.

[At this point, it’s worth mentioning that there have been some incredibly sad times during lockdown. Please don’t think with this blog I’m making light of a desperately tragic time for so many people. I most definitely am not. But I’ve watched people still share ‘funnies’ and blogs about food and fashion trends and all sorts and for me personally, these are the things that have kept some semblance of normality amongst this mess. So hopefully you will indulge me in my musings too….]

By week eight or nine I started to see the plus side of lockdown… I even made a list of positive things:

  • No chance of the kids catching nits. That would have finished me off.
  • Yes, my hair really is that dark naturally.. but on the plus, I HAVE NO GREY HAIRS!
  • Fortunate enough to wrangle a weekly online slot and many substitutes have now become firm favourites. Received a sub of tennis racquet-shaped pasta and it was a complete winner! It did however descend into a shit show whilst the kids recreated Wimbledon and flicked peas at each other using pasta racquets.

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New balls please

  • We can finally bake our own challah! It had always seemed a daunting bake. Something best left to the pros. But it’s fun and a lovely activity to do with the kids. (And I can do a nifty 4-strand plait thanks to YouTube.)

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‘Challah’ at me for the recipe. It’s not mine. but I would share it.

  • I’ve deep cleansed my address book, email inbox, subscriptions and gone pretty much paperless in my finances. I feel about a stone lighter.
  • Following an extensive spice cupboard audit conducted by my eldest, I have accepted the fact that I have more than enough dried parsley. However, I have just added red pepper flakes to the bursting collection and I can now make the The Good Earth’s Crispy chilli beef. (If you know, you know). All thanks to @food_obsessed_girl.

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Worth every ingredient

  • After initial first-world problem meltdowns that I couldn’t continue go to the gym or Pilates classes, I have rediscovered the delights of instagram lives and zoom classes. Thanks to @ciaralondon I have expanded my music appreciation with soca, whilst holding and pulsing and flexing. And thanks to @pilateswithlouise, I have rediscovered the joys of matwork and look forward to ‘Teaser Tuesdays’.
  • I taught my kids new skills – like what the ‘Rinse Aid’ light meant on the dishwasher. And that ‘adding salt’ didn’t mean using Malden Sea Salt. They were fascinated that there was actual special salt for dishwashers.
  • I’ve read. And read and read. Usually I only get to do a ‘solid read’ on holiday. But lockdown has allowed me that pleasure again and it’s my detox in the evening. I think I’ve actually watched less tv than ever.
  • Re: above, possibly a lie. Youngest and I indulged in some feel-good tv and binged on Friday Night Dinner. ‘Shit on it’ is now a regular turn of phrase in our house. And daughter will often greet me with ‘Hello Jackieeeee’. Fun fact: the house where it’s filmed is round the corner from me. Unknown-1
  • Got the kids on board with sheet change day – Fridays if you must know. They are now fully capable humans as opposed to what my friend’s daughter said following bed stripping instructions. “What does ‘strip’ the bed mean?”
  • My hygienist appointment avoidance was finally on an even keel with everyone else. I went just before lockdown – I truly hate going. But now? I can’t go. You can’t go. No-one can go!!! I am guilt free. Although feeling sad for my daughter who has a brace that is currently missing about five brackets and I had to perform a DIY wire cut using nail clippers. Don’t worry, it was on advice of orthodontist and so far so good.
  • We can now bake our own Millie’s Cookies. We went through various recipes and test batches – oh the gluttony – but have finally reached perfection thanks to Baking Mad. I guess it depends on what your version of perfection is. Plus, we were sick of banana bread.

See? Lots of positives. There are of course so many negatives in this altered normal life we are all living, but I’m trying hard each day to outweigh with the positives that we, as in my family, are all healthy.

I crumbled at week 6 and again, 6 weeks later. This week, week 13-ish, I had the meltdown of meltdowns. I just couldn’t do ‘it’ anymore.

It’s really not easy. And ‘it’ will be different things to different people. But my ‘it’ got too much for me this week. It felt good to have my moment and re-set.

And I feel much better for getting all of this down in a blog. Writing makes me happy. So do cookies.

I hope I won’t leave it so long next time.

Must go – the slushy maker is required from the top shelf with the impending warm weather…

x

 

Hallow Again…

Where has the year gone?

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Will the kids’ Amazon Prime costumes arrive in time or are they still on a longboat from China?

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I think mine is bottom right, three to the left

Will it be raining on the 31st, meaning the kids’ costumes will be completely hidden under their winter coats?

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So many questions, very few answers.

And yet, each year, we go again with same ol’ routine:

  1. Sort kids’ costumes.
  2. Bring Halloween decorations down from the loft.
  3. Buy more decorations, because nothing really survived from last year.
  4. Change costume idea because the kids’ have seen something better.
  5. Carve half term pumpkins with the kids by myself because the kids get bored after half an hour I’m a control freak.
  6. Re-think kids’ costumes because a few of them want to go as the same thing.
  7. Buy massive tub of sweets for trick or treat visitors me. (Cadbury’s Heroes.)
  8. Revert back to original kids’ costume idea, by which time it’s sold out on eBay, Amazon, everywhere.

Unless you live in America or a certain strip of North West London that totally goes for it under the guidance of their leader Mr Jonathan Ross, it really is just a fabulous excuse to play dress us and have some fun.

And there really is very little to actually scare you. (Unless you count the out of date sweets people try to palm off on your kids.)

So, in the spirit of Halloween, here is a list of super scary things imo:

1. Drop it like it’s hot

I don’t think I know a soul who hasn’t cracked their smartphone screen, even just a tiny bit. For some it’s a weekly occurrence. (You know who you are.) That palpable fear when you drop it and tentatively turn it over to assess the damage…

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2. Where’s the parking angel at?

You’re only going to be 5 minutes… you’ll risk it.  Oh but that that dash back to the car to see if there is a sticky yellow rectangle on your windscreen…

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3. Door Handle Rattlings

When you’re out and about, minding your business, ‘doing’ your business and someone tries the cubicle door handle. Well, it’s enough to make you sh*t yourself…

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4. Non-moving escalators

Stairs? No problem. A non-moving escalator? Huge problem. What if it starts working mid ascent? Or the fact that your brain is concentrating so hard on lifting each foot up to hit the next step? There is just something very unnerving about scaling non-moving escalators.

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5. Sleeping with an open window 

More of a summer problem really when the bedroom windows are open all night. The problem usually occurs around 5 am when you hear that familiar low hummed ‘buzzzzz’ behind the blinds. The bastard has got in…

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6. Fishing for toast

When you toast is stuck and you need a bit of help dislodging it…in the form of a knife. You switch off the toaster. You UNPLUG the toaster. You move the toaster away from the WALL. And yet still, there is that fear of electrocution…

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Don’t worry, I now own some toaster tongs

7. Waste disposals

Similar to the above really. A spoon has managed to slip through the ‘splash guard‘ (yes, I had to look up what it was called) and you immediately switch off the waste disposal, tentatively reaching your hand down into the depths to fish out the mangled spoon. Admit it, you still fear that somehow, like in horror films, the motor will switch back on and saw your hand off.

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8. Keeping it in

When you’re in a ‘quiet’ exercise class – think pilates, yoga – and there are some demanding moves. I know it’s only natural, and some of us are more relaxed about breaking wind in front of others (you know who you are), but for me, I would never be able to go visit that fitness studio again.

9. Go with the flow

When you flush the loo (especially in a friend’s house) and the water level rises…and rises…and rises.  And their loo is carpeted. There is no fear quite like it.

10. Shoplifting

You’ve been browsing, you’ve bought nothing, you KNOW you’ve bought nothing, but when you walk out past those ‘alarm post things’ by the door and that alarm goes off, you STILL feel guilty.

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It wasn’t me

11. Housesitting

When a neighbour gives you a set of spare keys so that you can water their plants while they are away. It’s a simple lock, the alarm panel is literally as you enter and the keys have that handy fob on them that you just tab. You don’t even need to memorise a pin.  And yet when those bleeps sound, it’s panic stations.

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BEEP!BEEP!BEEP!BEEP!

12. Don’t wish too hard

I’m throwing this in because I feel I need validation. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen too many films like ‘Vice Versa’ and ’13 Going on 30′ and ‘What Women Want’. Or maybe that I just have a very vivid imagination? But I have this weird ‘thing’ where I’m at home, maybe in the shower and I imagine I have been granted one wish. Except I don’t just wish for something brilliant – I almost mock the faux-wish and think ‘public place’! And WHAM! I magically end up standing in the middle of Brent Cross, starkers…  Anyone?

And finally, in the spirit of Halloween and 13 being a ‘scary number’ and thinking about my thirteen year old and her best friend...

13. Parenting Fails 

When you take your daughter and her friend out for the day and you’re running down the stairs to catch a train and you all manage to get on when you realise it’s the wrong train. So you all quickly jump off before the doors close. Except for BFF is frozen to the spot. And as you shout in slow motion from the platform, “Getttttttttt offffff thhhhhhhe trrrrraaaaaaiiiinnnnn!”, she doesn’t. And the doors firmly close. And the train pulls away.  I will never ever forget the look on her face, my daughters face, probably my face. Fear not – the friend was a mature 13 years of age, in possession of a mobile phone so within minutes I had every station attendant ready to greet the 14:27 from West Hampstead Thamelink into St Pancras. There were even police officers. It was an emotional reunion. There are still some very kind lovely people in the world.

So, with all those sweets entering your household, one way to stave off temptation is a healthy snack and so don’t throw out the pumpkin seeds from your carvings.

According to Google: ‘Pumpkin seeds are a good source of antioxidants, magnesium, zinc and fatty acids — all of which may help keep your heart healthy. Studies have also shown that pumpkin seed oil may reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels — two important risk factors for heart disease.’

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees. Wash seeds. Dry seeds. Lay them on a roasting tin. Lightly spray with olive oil and add some Herbamare. Give them about half an hour in the oven with some midway shaking (tray not you).

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Yes. The lids look like willies. Grow up.

But beware, they give you wind. ‘Apparently’…

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x

 

 

 

No-one Told Me Life Was Gonna Be This Way

‘SEVEN!’, ‘Pivot!’ and ‘Janice’. Or perhaps you’re into the more obvious quips like, ‘we were on a break’, ‘how you doin’?‘ and ‘he’s her lobster’?

I settled on these two as my top faves:

Ross: “I went to that tanning place your wife suggested.”

Chandler: “Was that place the sun?”

and…

Joey: “What’s not to like? Custard – good. Jam – good. Meat – good!”

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Twenty-five years. 25! How did that happen?

Twenty-five years since ‘Friends‘ first aired in the UK. Call me pathetic, but I feel quite proud that I was there to enjoy it the first time round.

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And the second time, when repeats aired.

And the third time when I bought the majority of the series on VHS. Re-runs on Sky followed, and I’m now living vicariously through my teen, who is watching it on Netflix.

She cried hysterically for days when it was ‘all over’ and chose to re-watch them all again. (Good girl.) She would come to me and ask:

“Who’s this?” (Chrissy Hinde)

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Just call me Chrissy of the morning…

“Why did the audience cheer? (Billy Crystal (plus Robin Williams)

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“Why did everyone scream?”  (…Oh come on. Do I really need to even make you guess…?)

Talking of Friends, it’s a beautiful irony that the series anniversary coincides with that of meeting some real-life friends. It’s 25 years since I started University.

I’m trying to get this blog live and if I go into my loft and hunt down a pic I will be gone for days. So here’s one just when we just graduated and hit Marbs. Bear in mind this was pre-GHDs and decent self-tan.

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Mabfield Crew Summer of 1996

I’ve blogged about student life in previously, but this is a major anniversary and one that deserves some proper recognition.

I remember it like it was yesterday, and somehow, this weekend, my (exceptionally clever) nephew is off on the M1 towards a life of enriched education. (But first, Freshers’ Week.)

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I can smell the innocence

If I had to write an episode, (life goals right there), it would be called:

‘The One Where the Kids Don’t Know They’re Born’.

Because this generation of Uni kids really have no idea how much better they have it than 25 years ago. I looked through a friend’s list of Uni requirements, just to see how things compared from back when I was a student.

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Duvet – most first year Uni dorms/halls have single beds, but I still say buy a double duvet. Far cosier and more useful/cost effective in the long run when you hit second year and hopefully bag a double bed.

Decor – We had little choice in 1994. Do students still buy the hippie scarf things and pin to their walls alongside rave flyers? All hail Afflecks Palace back in the 90s in Manchester. Now you can decorate your room with the cost-effective help of IkeaPrimark, Homesense and Dunelm, finished off with your Love Island duvet cover from River Island. Hello ‘Casa Amour‘.

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I can still smell it…

Mattress/pillow protectors – you had to try and slide a mattress into what was basically a massive pillowcase. Thankfully now they come like a fitted sheet. I think the best protectors are from Dunelm – and I should know as the Allergy Queen.

Mattress topper – I don’t think they were much of a thing in the 90s, but definitely worth a purchase to plump up a lumpy mattress. Year 2, my housemate had to buy a new mattress after the landlord refused, because the mattress in question was only a year old. However, we knew the boys who rented our house previously and I wouldn’t have slept on that mattress for all the tea in China.

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Don’t let the bed bugs bite?

4-gang Plug adapter. Much like a hotel, the plug points are never where you need them/enough of them. So useful.

Massive sports bag for dirty washing. You know the ones. Usually chequered patterns. These never go out of fashion and are great for shlepping dirty clothes down to the launderette (unless you’re lucky enough to have on-site facilities.) We didn’t have this luxury, so it was down to ‘Mr Bubbles’ launderette on the parade. (Now a property company, fact fans.)

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FYI, this never happened

Kitchen stuff – was and is still my favourite thing to buy. I bought the basic necessities. Breville, saucepan, frying pan, cutlery – but I have little recollection of using much of it as we mostly dined on microwave meals, takeaways from Abduls and Pot Noodle. Much as I envy my nephew with apps such as Five Guys, Deliveroo and Uber Eats, nothing will beat queuing for kebab from Abduls in Fallowfield.

Am I envious of students today? With their smartphones, online food shop, takeaway apps, Netflix, Amazon. Not forgetting ASOS next day delivery. For sure, I’m envious AF of the immediacy of their lives.

However, some things should take time. Like friendships. So to all those embarking on this new chapter of your life, you may think you have your circle of friends all set. Perhaps friends since babies, or throughout school life, but if you’re fortunate enough meet a group of friends at Uni half as special as the ones I met, then you’re in for the best years of your life with memories to treasure for the next 25 years and beyond.

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The Mabfield Girls. Friends. For life xxx

x

PS. I had a re-think, and much as I envy what students today have available to them, I wouldn’t swap my student experience for the world.

PPS. You can keep your Uber eats and your Primark. We had the Haçienda nightclub and that is student goals right there, imo.

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RIP The Haç

 

 

‘Unseemly Expensive Football Adventure’ (UEFA)

The impending UEFA final is like the equivalent of a long car journey filled with a continual dialogue of, “Are we there yet?”

No. Not quite. But nearly…

Although to be fair, I am re-living the Amsterdam trip on a daily basis via his numerous iPhone footage and every bit of tv coverage from the match. (My Sky planner is full of it.)

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I swear he has re-watched this more than our wedding highlights.

“Doll, we were down and out. It was one of the greatest comebacks in European football.”

It’s like a broken record. And I know every song. (How do they all learn them? Who sits down and writes these ditties?)

It’s completely my own fault though. I knew what I was in for when marrying him (see earlier blog for more info).

Spurs is his addiction and who am I to stand in his way. (Trust me, he would throw me overboard faced with a decision of making it to Madrid or saving his wife.)

He comes from a family of Spurs season ticket holders. As does my dad, who regaled me with wonderful stories of going to matches. In 1946, my grandpa Davis bought up a row of season tickets for the men in the family, at the hefty price of five guineas each. Block L, High Road entrance. On match days, Grandpa, his brother, my dad and his three cousins would jump on the 102 bus from Muswell Hill to Angel Edmonton and then walk a couple of miles down High Road to the ground.

The first UEFA cup was in 1971 so there was very little European travel for dad, but a big memory for him would be the FA Cup semi final in 1948 – Spurs vs Blackpool. On a train packed full of loyal supporters, headed up to Villa Park to watch Spurs lose 3-1. If that wasn’t bad enough, he remembers his Thermos of tea leaking all over his cheese sandwiches.

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Top notch branded goods

Spurs have suffered some pretty dismal losses over the years, so hopefully they are on to a winning streak. When they made it to the recent UEFA semi finals, my husband had pretty much mentally booked the flight to Amsterdam before the first crestfallen Man City supporter had left the ground.

As a woman, I would have approached this process very differently: first, check for accommodation. Then look into flights.

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But no. Husband booked the flight first and where to sleep (if at all) came a very delayed second action point. He genuinely didn’t seem to care if he slept at the airport. There are grown men without accommodation, buying up blow up beds to take with them to Madrid. Lunatics.

And the tickets? You haven’t even got a ticket yet ffs!

“Doll. Relax. I’ll get one.”

To be fair, he had been in a similar situation before…

World Cup 2002. Japan.

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“Sayōnara doll”

He’s just as passionate about his country’s team and managed to round up two like-minded souls, announcing,

“Doll, I’m going to Japan for a couple of days.”

Oh, how I laughed. No-one does that. It’s lunacy.

But off he went. Filled with hope and ‘possibly’ some medication that his travel buddy had given him, to ease the pain of travelling in economy for eleven and a half hours. (He’s 6 foot 4 – the legroom situation is agonising for him.)

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They landed in Narita, exited the airport, stuck their bank card in some dubious World Cup ticket machine and crossed their fingers. It was a big risk – they had booked a package deal via their hotel which included flights, accommodation and apparently, tickets to the game.

As if by some FIFA miracle, their match tickets popped out! There was much celebration, but it was short lived. Michael Owen did his best, but England were knocked out after that first match.

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It’s not quite coming home

But back to the pending Madrid trip.

Fellow fans who didn’t make it to the ‘Dam are fully on board for this, the final leg. Once again, flights were secured before even worrying about tickets. Let alone what it was clashing with..

This weekend I know of birthday parties, sweet 16’s, weddings, bar mitzvahs… this is majorly testing many friendships. As a guest it’s hard enough, but imagine if it’s your own do!

I clearly remember a friend’s wedding.

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Jackie O’s chupah, by Birch Event Designs. Both fun Instagram follows

All that planning. The attention to detail. As the groom walked down the aisle towards the chupah, he looked so nervous and full of hope. As he reached his bride to be, leaned in to his best man and whispered, “What’s the score?”

FA Cup Quarter final Chelsea vs Spurs. 10th March 2002. Spurs got beat 4-0. It was still a great wedding.

So, as this weekend approaches, the lucky ones among them are flying direct to Madrid, but not everyone has such a simple route. There are different levels of superfan heading to Spain…

Planes: Flights to Malaga followed by a short drive.

Trains: Eurostar to Paris followed by a drive.

Automobiles: Driving from London. Without a ticket.

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I mean, good luck. Good f’ing luck to them. It’s an experience. And I quote: “the biggest club competition you can be in. Liverpool have won it five times. Spurs have been nowhere near.” End quote. (Husband dearest.)

‘Audere est Facere’ as the shirt declares. “To Dare Is to Do”.

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And while he dares, I will do. Making sure there is a celebratory/consolatory bit of grub upon return. I made this recipe when he arrived home from Amsterdam. And it went down well. I now call it my ‘lucky drip beef recipe’….

Fingers crossed it works second time round.Unknown-7.jpeg

x

 

 

Taking Up Residence

Well, I saw her off. And it set me off.

Youngest. Gone off on ‘residential’ for the week* with her classmates.

*okay, three days.

Okay, two nights. It feels like a week, okay?

She’s my baby and was a bit anxious about sleeping out. It was no different when my eldest did her final trip away for a week in Year 6 and I can still remember my own residential trip in 1986 to Boreatton Park.

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F*ck me, it’s still going!

Aside from abseiling, archery and other outdoorsy antics, I remember: stonewash denim, cartoon characters on my jeans, reversible jumpers and my snazzy ‘Le Clic’ camera.

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This exact one!

Whether you’ve done none, one or many of these trips, they can be a bit of a minefield.

Will this blog help?

Probably not – but it’s worth reading for the hell of it, especially for the recipe at the end. (Feel free to just skip to recipe.)

The School Meeting

A couple of months before the trip, there’s will be a meeting, featuring a powerpoint presentation of what the kids will be doing during their time away, culminating in a checklist of what’s required for the trip.

I like the parent questions part the best:

“So, can we definitely not pack them some snacks?” (That parent is definitely going to be packing contraband.)

“Can we send a letter in advance?” (Along with the many notes already stuffed inside the wash bag, underwear and fleeces.)

“Can squirrels get into the cabins at night? What about spiders?” (Their own childhood fears coming out right there.)

The Checklist

I’ve got two girls, so fortunately there is much hand-me-down activity in the way of wellies, waterproofs and those massive checked PVC bags for the duvet/sleeping bag situ.

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Check 1, 2, 3

I go by the list. I’m fastidious. I like ticking things off, bit by bit, like Mrs Hinch.

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“All the best, mate”

I also love the tech ban that most school trips have. It’s healthy. Far too much time screen time. (Maybe I should go on a school trip…? Unknown-8.jpeg)

Can’t beat the innocence of a disposable camera. Don’t worry, my expectations are low. Mainly just flash reflecting in windows and mirrors, much red eye and lots of blurred action shots.

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This was my bunk bed

The Packing

I think it’s important for the kid to be involved in the packing process. My daughter and I discussed and vetoed, removed and added until we reached the final selection. (That was just which leggings matched what jumper.)

I’m a huge fan of packing cubes for family trips, as they’re brilliant at keeping everything neat, tidy and organised. ‘Tick-tick-tick’ on all three thing in my book.

 

.. But! On this occasion, and call it spoon feeding, but I needed to make it super simple for my nine year old, so those massive resealable bags come in exceptionally handy.  You can pack an outfit per day in each bag and simply mark the outside of the bag with what day/activity. Foolproof. (Until she decides to swap things from the ‘spares’ bag’. I’ve already seen pictures from the trip and she’s definitely not wearing Wednesday’s clothes.)

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Friend’s bag situ. She would make a very tidy murderer. Leg. Arm. Head. 

 

Sentimental and shameful stuff

I’m just going to throw it out there…

…Yes – I pack little notes for her.

…There may be a muzzie stashed in the bag,  ‘liberally’ sprayed with Mummy’s perfume.

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..There may also be Tisserand lavender essential oil in her wash bag. My kids have had a few drops on their pillow since they were babies, a tradition carried on from my Grandma. It calms them and sends them off to sleep peacefully.

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This one. Purest lavender smell, imo

…There may be a some fabric conditioner sheets inserted into each resealable bag of clothes. (All about the smells, me.)

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These I like, from Costco

…’Rab’ was the most essential part of the packing. A very worn but utterly adored Jellycat bunny, which was washed and mended in prep. Mainly because I’m so ashamed of the state (and farschtink) of it.

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For my next trick I shall be performing a tracheostomy

 

So, how will I be filling my spare time with one less child to tend to? Prepping for her return on Friday of course! She put in her dinner menu request, which culminated in Mummy’s cheesecake for dessert.

With Shavuot in just over a month, I view this as a practise run.

Baked Cheesecake recipe

9″ inch springform tin, lined

Pre-heat oven to 180°C

Crush 175g Digestives and mix with 50g melted unsalted butter.

Flatten mixture onto bottom of tin.

Then…

1lb fresh curd cheese.

250g Quark cheese.

3 large eggs, added one at a time.

6 oz caster sugar, added a bit at a time.

A capful of vanilla extract a few drops – I love the Nielsen Massey one.

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This.

Mix all of those things together by electric whisk til they’re smooth and silky.

Pour this mixture over the crushed biscuits.

At this point, it’s your choice if you go for a bain marie – I do. Barry explains it best

Place foiled-wrapped tin in a bigger oven pan and carefully pour boiling water about halfway up the side of the springform. Like a bath.

Middle shelf. 25-30 minutes but keep an eye for browning as all ovens differ.  A bit of browning doesn’t matter. Nor cracking. You’ll see why in a minute…

Heat off. Leave oven door ajar with tin in there for another 5 minutes – helps it set.

Remove tin from bain marie and let cake cool completely out of the oven. (For the idiots, do not remove springform.  I didn’t;t say that, did I?

Hand whisk 300ml soured cream, teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 teaspoons caster sugar and pour this on top of cooled cheesecake, thus hiding any imperfections.

Cover with foil. Fridge overnight. Release from tin and serve.

Ta-da!

(2 more sleeps. Pass me some lavender oil…)

x

A Fine Romance

Because nothing says I love you like a speeding fine.

Not even the M&S heart-shaped sausage.

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Say it with sausages

One mph over the limit. One!

I know, I know (Dad) – I ‘broke the speed limit’ regardless. And when that camera flash goes off at midnight, it gives you the fright of your life.

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Say ‘cheese’

Was it me?

Maybe it was it the car in front of me? (Please let it be the car in front of me.)

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Or maybe, just maybe, for once, please let that ‘urban myth’ be true…

The one that claims if the camera does a ‘double flash’, then there’s no film inside.

Letter confirmed there was definitely film inside the camera. In some situations it’s worth contesting…

“I think I was being followed by a gang”…

“My foot slipped on the pedal”…

‘It wasn’t me”…

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It wasn’t him either

I now have a choice to make. Points or speed awareness course? No prizes for guessing the choice I made.

At this point, I will admit that I reckon I’m probably one of the few people to actually quite enjoy attending a speed awareness course. Seriously.

1) I got out of the school run

2) No-one could bother me for 4 hours

3) I could ‘people watch’ to my heart’s content

What’s not to like?

So, for anyone who hasn’t ‘done one’, you basically book a morning or afternoon slot on any chosen day, at a venue close to you. A bit like a cinema booking for a very long film, but one that costs you about £100 and doesn’t offer any fun snacks.

I opted for the morning slot to ‘get it out of the way’ and when you book, you have the choice of a ‘flexible’ or ‘non-flexible’ booking:

Non-flexible: you’re booked on. That’s it. If you can’t make it on the day for any reason, they don’t care and you have to pay £100 again to book in for future date.

Flexible: for an extra £12, you can change your time and date as many times as you like in the build up to the course date. Initially I thought “no way, I’m not giving them any more of my money!”, but course-savvy friends said it’s worth it in case things crop up and you need to re-arrange. I think I changed my date about 4 times in the run up because stuff kept cropping up.

The day finally arrived – rotas were in place to take my kids to school, whilst their criminal mother went off to serve her time.

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These gals chose the afternoon course 

As I pulled into the hotel car park where the course was being held, I felt like I was off to have an illicit affair. (A few people loitering outside having a morning fag looked as if they were just finishing up their illicit affair…)

I followed signs ‘welcoming’ me to the course, signed in and took a seat at one of the circular tables in the conference room. On the tables were water, informtation booklets, pens and some Murray Mints in a bowl. It was a bit like a supper quiz. But no supper. And no prizes.

The room filled up and the guy who had checked us in did some intros and ‘a quick bit of housekeeping’ for the 25 of us in the room – fire exits, phones off, etc.

Four hours to go.

The door then opened and another guy waltzed in and joined the star act at the front, cracking a joke about being late and ‘don’t worry – I didn’t speed to get here’. Oh hurrah – a double act.

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No. Ant wasn’t there…

The first question was posed.

‘Why do you think you’re here?’

This was swiftly answered with a heckle of ‘cos we got caught!’ from a bloke at table one.

I took a look around the room and there really was a broad cross-section of people. All ages and races. Real sweet faces. Every different nation, Spanish, Hatian, Indian, Jamaican. Black, White, Cuban, and Asian. I only came for two days of playing. But every time I come I always wind up stayin’. This the type of town I could spend a few days in
Miami the city that keeps the roof blazin’…

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Sorry – briefly lost myself there. Which happened a lot during the course.

I can’t help it. I get easily distracted by things.

There was a pen spinner sitting at my table – this fascinates the hell out of me. I have a friend who can do this. I am unable to do this. I want to be able to do this.

I started doing an awards ceremony in my head: best dressed, worst dressed, most annoying, etc.

An hour into things, I thought I would cash in the first of my toilet breaks. They mentioned loo breaks during ‘housekeeping’ but didn’t mention any limits and a friend told me to take lots of loo breaks to kill a bit of time. Which I did. One every hour. If anyone was doing the awards thing, I definitely won ‘worst bladder’.

There were lots of presentation slides where you had to anticipate things that might ‘happen’, based on positioning of cars, roads, signage. A bit like that scene from ‘Men in Black’ where Will Smith is on target practice.

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“Eight-year-old white girl. Middle of the ghetto. Bunch of monsters. This time of night. With quantum physics books. She’s about to start some shit. She’s about eight years old, those books are way too advanced for her. If you ask me, I’d say she’s up to something.”

(Fully aware this is the second Will Smith reference. I’m just over-excited about Bad Boys 3.)

More slides, more discussions about scenarios, more hammering home about speeding and the catchy ‘only a fool breaks the 2 second rule’. (Basically, as a driver you should stay at least two seconds behind any vehicle that is directly in front of you. Applicable at any speed.)

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Far simpler than understanding the offside rule

I honestly did learn alot, including the speed limit for goods vehicles on a single carriageway. (50mph if you wanted desperately to know.)

I hope you enjoyed reading this and if you’ve got a course coming up, there might be a slide about observation. And how quickly you can react to something. It’s a picture of a messy desk with all kinds of stationery on it. The question that preceeds the slide is ‘how many pencils are there?’

I got the answer immediately. Just remember to alway look outside the box… Unknown-16.jpeg

x

 

 

Feast Your Mince Pies on this…

Tis is the season and all that.

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Thought I’d end the year with a festive title at least, even if the content isn’t necessarily Christmassy. Bear with caller…

So, I recently went for some ‘spiritual healing’ and without going too deeply into it, I felt ‘blocked’. Emotionally, physically. And no, I didn’t just need a big poo and a cry. (I had already tried that.)

 

 

 

I had never been to a healer, so had no level of expectation, but after just one session, I knew I would be back. I got so much out of it – lots of questions answered, chakras aligned (they were a mess and I don’t ‘do’ untidy) plus an incredible feeling of lightness, more than any massage could give.

We discussed the different findings of my session, one of them being something that the healer couldn’t put her finger on (pardon the pun) with regards to my eyes. I said that it may have been my ‘lens implants’, as when I was 16 and had cataract surgery. I wrote about it once before. (There’s a marvellous dessert recipe featuring waffles, white chocolate and raspberries.)

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Just to entice you to click

The other explanation was that I had been procrastinating about having an eye test. And I really had. Was my vision worsening or was I just going to bed far too late each night and spending too much time on my phone/computer/current book?

I left the session and immediately booked an appointment with my optician for the following day.

Because I am really cautious about my eyes, there is only one person for the job – an independent optician called ‘Ben Mirkin’ in Brent Cross where I see ‘Rod’.

I had brought my glasses with, giving them a thorough clean before heading in. (Same as when I brush my teeth for about five minutes, swilling mouthwash and then some rigorous gum-bleeding-inducing flossing right before seeing the hygienist. The shame of it.)

From my many visits over the years dealing with my ‘mince pies’ (come on, cockney rhyming for eyes!), I should be well used to the opticians by now, but I think I’d rather have a filling at the dentist. Okay, a bit dramatic, but I really don’t like going.

First off,  the ‘chair of doom’. I hate that high chair.

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*shudders*

It reminds me of the bit in Superman 3,  with the Vera, the highly strung sister. I just feel trapped and suffocated behind all that machinery put in front of me.

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Sis…?

I can’t deal with all the questions. My brain goes into overload and I need more time than the allocated appointment slot to decide whether ‘red or green’ is clearer.

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It’s bad enough with the letters…

Then they bring out the crop circles…

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All I see in my head is the snake from ‘The Jungle Book’.

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“…Trussssst in meeeeee…”

The only bit I don’t mind, is reading the letters out line by line.

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Past that, it’s all downhill. When they start shifting dials and adjusting the machinery – ‘better like this? or like this?’

I can’t cope.

I DON’T FUCKING KNOW!!!

Can you just do it again once more?

The bit where they make you wear those weird lenseless specs where they slot in the lenses that you’ve just agreed to as your ‘perfect vision’? Then they come at you with the swivelling lollipop stick and do alot more ‘one?.. or two?’

If I think about it though, all that stuff is the easy part.

It’s what comes next…

The bit they get you with right at the end…

With the ‘Tenometer’.

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I said ‘tenometer’, but he’s definitely had it done and even he’s scared shitless

This thing…

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The ‘puffy air’ machine

This machine has the capacity to render me useless for about 20 attempts. Per eye.

“Tonometry is the procedure eye care professionals perform to determine the intraocular pressure (IOP), the fluid pressure inside the eye. It is an important test in the evaluation of patients at risk from glaucoma. Most tonometers are calibrated to measure pressure in millimeters of mercury (mmHg).”

Translation: “I shall now puff air right onto your eyeball.”

I believe this to be the worst form of torture known to mankind.

I do not like it one bit.

I would actually rather eat a mince pie.

But would prefer one of these:

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Krispmas Puddings

I made them a couple of years ago for the school Christmas fair and blogged about here.

Am reposting the recipe, because, you know, it’s Christmas, and you might not click the link.

Rice Krispmas Puds

Ingredients:

100g Rice Krispies

5 or 6 full-size Mars bars

3oz unsalted butter

Red, green and white ready-to-roll icing

Method:

Chop the Mars bars up and melt with the butter in a microwave for 3-4 mins on medium.

Stir melted Mars bars into bowl of Rice Krispies and mix.

Roll into golf-sized balls. Add a Malteaser in the middle of a few of them (yassssssss!) – finders wins prizes! (Ensure you actually have prizes.)

Top with a white circle of icing (snow), red balls (berries) and green sprigs (holly).

Happy holidays everyone. xxx

p.s. Thanks for all the blog love this year. It means loads to me because I love writing – it makes me happy. And if it makes someone smile, then that’s a bonus.

p.p.s. I actually detest mince pies. I don’t know if it’s the chopped fruit or the Christmassy spices, or the fact that for years I thought it was a actual beef mince meat inside. Either way, not for me.

p.p.p.s. Eyes are all good. Perfect in fact, as no change from last eye test.