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

Let’s not put a label on it…

Much of my youth was spent getting the 113 or 183 to Harrow Town Centre to hang out with my friends wandering in and out of shops like Dolcis, Tammy Girl and C&A.

I love learning about words and meanings (see previous blog about DHL) and often still call H&M ‘Hennes’ (Hennes & Mauritz). I’d never really thought about what C&A actually stood for. Someone – I think possibly my dad – told me that it was to help you work out which way round to wear your knickers. (Work it out for yourself…)

C&A may have long since closed down, (bar the one in Marbs in ‘La Canada‘) but the whole idea of labels and which way round things go has always stuck with me.

I recently went to fangirl Sali Hughes and Caitlin Moran at Stylist Live! who were talking about the ‘Power of Female Friendship‘. As most female chat tends to wonderfully tangent from its course, they hit upon the subject of which way round to wear your tights.

 

Sometimes, not always, tights have a label in them at the back which usually indicates size and/or denier. It also gives you a pretty clear indication that said label should be bum-side. Then, out of nowhere, you get a pair with no label at all. If the feet aren’t defined in any way, how am I supposed to know where to put my bits? I like direction!

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There’s not even a gusset?

 

It won’t surprise you to know that I can’t wear things inside out and will start again if I miss out a belt loop on my jeans. And if faced with the below dilemma, my eczema flares…

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Pass the Hydrocortisone 1%…

One Friday night – known as ‘CSD’ in my house (Clean Sheet Day), I was just drifting off to sleep when I realised there was something not quite right with the duvet. Head-end, I could feel the duvet label – my new cleaner hadn’t read ‘the manual’ properly…

“Doll, wake up.”

“Why?”

“The duvet is in the wrong way round.”

“What are you on about? It’s fine.”

“No, the label is by my chin. It’s supposed to be at the bottom. On your side. It also means I’ve got the bit where your feet have been.”

“I don’t give a shit.”

*Ignores husband and begins unbuttoning duvet*

 

When I buy a new top, one of the first things I do is perform a ‘shirtcumcision’.  I’m as pedantic as they come about hanging stuff up properly, but actually making use of hanger loops is a step too far, even for me.

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See? Even she can’t be arsed

Don’t get me wrong, I totally see the benefit of those loops in store. Nothing irritates me more when you so much as breathe near a top you’re interested in and the stock pathetically crumples to the floor. In that instance, I’m all for hanger loops to make the top look all lovely and attractive to the customer. Same concept as the wire twisty things that imprison Barbie dolls.

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Hell

These clothing loops also put me in a predicament because I am one of those people that likes to re-hang their stuff up upon leaving a changing room. Trouser legs pulled out the right way, tops not left inside out –  I am a re-hanger. I couldn’t bear to have someone think I was a messy cow at home.

Whilst still on the label thing, it seems an apt time to discuss the ‘Zara’. There are novels shorter than their care labels so unless you want the sensation of a tarantula next to your body each time you wear the item, I’m snipping.

The thing with labels is, I’m a genuine do-gooder if I see someone with their label hanging out of their clothing. Nothing worse than trying to rock your ‘Alaïa‘ when you’ve got your ‘Atmosphere’ label sticking out. (No shame in a bit of Primark.)

Some are beyond redemption. I’m talking about the ones who only manage to pull off the card bit of a label, but happily leave the scratchy, irritating plastic kimble bit behind. WTF?

I’ve come to realise though, that there are room for all sorts. I was with a friend the other day and pointed out that she still had the white pricing label on the bottom of a pair of fabulous shoes and did she want me to remove it for her.  She looked at me like I was a freak. I looked at her like she was a freak. We hugged. We’re fine about it.

All that aside,  just know that I’ll be the one with the white spirit, cleaning every bit of sticky residue off the soles of my own shoe collection.

(Oh, and C&A stands for the founders, ‘Clemens & August’. Not C*nt & Arse.)