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

 

 

‘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’….

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x

 

 

Keeping Up Appearances

 

I read somewhere that if a friend came over and needed to borrow a pair of knickers (because this happens ALOT), you’d have the confidence to allow them to go and grab a pair for themselves. There would be no greying, sagging, holey failures in the drawer. All would be acceptable offerings. (See below pics for reference.)

Aside from the fact that no friend has ever made such a request, I am ready for it should it ever come. No shame in that department, but I admit I can be slovenly. I have my years-old cosy pyjamas that I would be ashamed to open the front door in. I have a favourite gym bra that used to say ‘Panache‘ on the front of it, but now it just says ‘Pan’. And some of my baking trays seriously need replacing.

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But every now and then, you want to put your best foot forward (btw, check your sock drawer too). There is the need to ‘up your game’ for the crowd.

I was at a friends the other night for dinner. So close are we, that I think nothing of the bottle of Highland Spring being present at the table in all its plastic glory. Should I be offended that I’m not considered impress-worthy enough to decant into a fancy LSA jug? Nope. We’re like family.

But if I’m really entertaining, ie. wearing proper shoes instead of my Ugg slippers, then these things are essential:

Fresh towel in downstairs toilet (and a hotel fold of the toilet paper if I’ve got time.)

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Not my loo

Scented candles lit for an hour beforehand. Many consider them a waste of money, but some of my favourites aren’t even the expensive ones. You enjoy drinking your £40 bottle of wine – I’ll enjoy burning my £40 candle. Each to their own I say.

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What else, what else?… Oh yes.

Stainless steel kitchen sink is e-cloth‘d within an inch of it’s life.

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Not my actual sink but I like the symmetry…

Proper salt and pepper grinders come out instead of these…

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Basic. But acceptable on a daily basis

Pickles and olives get decanted from their jars into pretty glass bowls. Might even get the fancy appetiser picks out.

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Posh picks

Crackers get displayed in a rustic bread basket – trust me, it’s necessary:

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I live with people that do this to packaging

And no offence to my plastic water-bottled friend, but for some guests I’m setting the entire wedding list service, double-set cutlery, placemats, napkin holders and all.

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You just count the tines

As my wedding anniversary fast approaches, how I would love to go back in time and do it all again. No, no. I’d keep him (he’s non-refundable) – but I’d do the gift list very differently.

I’d put it down as one of the most enjoyable shopping experiences I’ve ever had. Husband is the other end of the spectrum and has mentally blocked all memory of it, likening it to the day Spurs played Everton in the FA Cup in ’95 and lost 4-1. (Apparently it was a neutral ground fact-fans.)

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It still hurts him

Off we went, hand in hand (ie. me dragging him like a toddler) to John Lewis Oxford Street for store opening, armed with advice from friends who had ‘been there, done that’…

“Just zap everything!”

“Start at the top and work your way down to electricals!”

“Don’t forget luggage!”

The only thing getting husband through the experience was the food tasting appointment at our wedding venue that I’d booked in for later that day.

By the time we had made it to the basement for crockery, he was sulking like a child and had probably run the battery down on his Nokia from playing ‘Snake’.

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Simpler times…

“Do you like the plain white or the one with the gold edging?”

“I don’t care, doll. That set …”(pointing) “...just get that one.”

“That’s a picnic set.” (If ‘FML‘ existed back then I would have said FML.)

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Perfect. For a picnic…

I think I made about four or five return (solo) visits to amend the list – removed the rice cooker, added back the rice cooker, zapped a couple of wine decanters, a Magimix, then swapped it for a Kenwood, ordered the full Le Creuset pan set but friend said it’s ridiculously heavy to cook with daily, removed Le Creuset pan set. I was panless and in a bit of a mess.

We got there in the end and it was fun logging in to see the gift tally in the run up to the wedding. The most memorable gift was from our friends who bought us our pillows…plus one dessert spoon. Fun friends we have.

Most of the list is still going strong and I get real pleasure from using it, especially the good stuff. I have one friend who only recently unwrapped her wedding crockery … over ten years later!!! Madness. Lunacy. Life’s too short. Use it I say.

If people are coming over, sometimes they warrant a change of washing-up brush pads. I don’t think husband can differentiate between the heavy duty and the non-scratch ones. I expect he hears a caveman voice in his head: “one white, one green, both good”.

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Sometimes we have to keep up appearances…

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Not my husband. Or me

…But for the record, I’ve never used the wine decanters and I wish I’d kept the rice cooker.