“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

 

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