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

I Get So Emojinal…

When I was younger, I had the most phenomenal vision. My mum wore those old-school gas permeable contact lenses that would often fall off of the suction-tool when she was putting them in. Our deep-pile bathroom carpet (yup – 70s chic) was no match for my eagle eyes.

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When I hit 16, I noticed that my vision was becoming hazy. At first I put it down to hay-fever but deep down I knew that something wasn’t quite right. After a few months of pretence, I told my parents that whatever it was, it was worsening and I was referred by my optician to an ophthalmic practice in Harley Street.

The verdict? I had cataracts.

Years of applying steroid cream to the eczema around my eyes had thinned my skin and had most likely been the cause. With a great deal of hand-holding from Joy, the most wonderful practice manager, I went ahead with the surgery and had great results.

Fast forward 25 years and I only really need glasses for heavy reading/computing, but I’m suddenly starting to feel really old. I used to have my finger on the pulse, but now have to consult my teenage nephews about words like ‘sick‘, ‘bare‘, ‘dabbing‘ and ‘peng‘.

I also used to think I was tech-savvy…(come on, type with me and reminisce)

Once there was a girl who was 13. She had an 84 inch bust but wanted a 35 inch bust so she went to her Doctors and he said, “Oh, take these pills 2x a day.” But instead, she took them 4 and ended up….(=)

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‘BOOBLESS’ – oh how we laughed as 14 year olds

My kids aren’t interested that I know the words to ‘Buffalo Stance’ and they flip straight back to Kiss 100 when I try to wow them with the delights of early rave tunes on pirate radio. The fact I can do my bra up behind my back no longer impresses them either.

I am baffled by bottle-flipping supremos and mesmerised by the genius of the mannequin challenge. I know it’s inevitable but I really don’t want to feel old. Here are some other things I don’t want:

I don’t want to experience RSI scrolling back on website drop-down menus, because my birth year is not instantly visible.

I don’t want to have to try multiple passwords because I’ve locked myself out of my numerous online accounts. (Upper or lower case always throws me.)

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I don’t want to affectionately sign off texts with a ‘c’ when I’m trying to type an ‘x’.

I don’t want to have to wear my glasses more than I have to and I especially don’t want to increase my font size on my phone. People on the moon can see my friend typing her text messages.

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I can’t see the expression on the little yellow emoji faces. On the plus-side, if you type tomato, a tomato appears. Cake and a cake appears. My favourite is ‘totes’ – type it and see…

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If by miraculous luck, my blog hashtags have attracted emoji creative folk, I would appreciate a ‘whole chicken’ emoji, not just a chicken ‘leg’. And a raspberry emoji please. How is there a strawberry, a plum, a peach.. but no raspberry? It’s fruitist.

Talking of raspberries, some blog-appreciaters have asked for another recipe, so here is a raspberry one, given to me by an old colleague when I was stuck for an impressive but quick dessert.

‘A Waffley’ Good Dessert

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Including mint sprig for pro-finish

Ingredients:

6-pack of sweet waffles. Literally the cheapo ones from a Polski Sklep or other convenience store. (I have never typed ‘Polski Sklep’ before)

120g Milky Bar – go basic. I tried it with Green & Blacks white chocolate and it wasn’t as good

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1 large egg

300ml single cream

300g fresh or frozen raspberries (frozen are better value out of season)

Method:

Preheat oven to 180˚C.

Take a deep ovenproof dish about 23cm long and lightly grease with butter.

Break up the waffles and place in dish, then ‘hide’ the chunks of Milky Bar evenly amongst the waffles.

Whisk the egg and cream so it’s all foamy and pour all over the waffles. Let it ‘steep’ for 10 minutes.

Top with raspberries and place in oven for 25-30 mins.

Remove.

Dab, because you’ve produced an impressive dessert with minimal effort.

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