Thursday, 20 December 2012

The One With the Good Food Show

With less than a week to go before Christmas day I don't know about you but my mind turns to food.

To be fair it doesn't take much for my mind to turn to food, so when I had a day out with Lemon Cake Lady at The Good Food Show I was in heaven.

The Good Food Show at Olympia is an annual event and as it's in November it falls quite close to Lemon Cake Lady's birthday so we treated ourselves to a day out. We'd not been for a couple of years as we'd both been busy having babies so this year was a real bonus before Lemon Cake Boy 2 arrives in the new year.

It's a sheer riot of foodie delights. You can't move for cheese, meat, pickles, biscuits, beautiful cakes including wedding cakes, ideas where to go for afternoon tea in London and the most amazing meringues I've ever seen. 

Of course this year was the first year we'd been since we've both embraced social media and fancy, all singing, all dancing phones so it was picture taking, tweeting and Facebooking a go-go!

The other thing that attracted us to this particular day of the Good Food Show was the live demonstration of The Great British Bake Off.  Now we both love a bit of cake but, being ladies of a certain age, we both love a bit of Paul Hollywood more and we were more than a little excited at seeing him and the lovely Mary Berry in the flesh.

I am ashamed to say I was sitting on my hands for fear of rushing the stage and plunging them straight into him enriched dough and when Mary started to make something I turned to LCL and whispered

"I'm not taking this recipe in at all. She could be making a shit sandwich for I care I'm just watching him".

Sometimes I even shock myself but cake and piercing blue eyes are a heady mix! 

After watching the live demo on the stage we rushed clutching our How To Bake books by Mr Hollywood over to where they were being signed by the man himself. 

However, loads of other people, and by people I mean middle aged women, had the same idea and the queue snaked back and forth for quite some way. The security guards kept telling us that " From this point on you will not get your book signed. You're wasting your time" but we had a great view of Paul and Mary, as you can see from the photo, so we stayed and chanced our collective arms.

We were just about to play the LCL pregnancy card but as the consummative professionals they are, Paul and Mary smiled, chatted and signed the books with such efficiency that the security guards, dressed like the bouncers from Hale and Pace, had to eat their words and open the barrier for the rest of us to come through. 

You could literally smell the hormones in the room as a bunch of rampant women rushed towards the Hollywood brandishing books about buns, baps and crumpets! 

When the time came for us to get to the front of the queue, Lemon Cake Lady blushed like a school girl, couldn't look the "flirty flan maker" as she likes to call him directly in the eye and ended up chatting to Mary. I, usually never without a word or two, was suddenly lost for them as he signed my book apart from saying, 

"I really like The Great British Bake Off. It's really good."

Inspired! If Oscar Wilde were alive today he'd be quaking in his boots. 

Books inscribed we rushed off like two giggling teenagers, red of cheek and flushed all over. As LCL remarked she'd never queued up for an autograph for a boy band when she was a kid. What on earth was wrong with us? I even tweeted the picture of the actual inscription I was so overcome! 

Get a grip woman!

After all that excitement I needed a drink. As LCL is in her current condition I was drinking for two, so I hit the speciality gin stands where I chatted to a very pleasant lady from Brockmans gin who knew her stuff and explained the different intricacies of the blend of herbs and berries. This was the first time I've had gin and ginger ale but this gin really leans itself to that particular mixer more than tonic. They also had the most gothic stand of the whole exhibition and after behaving like a teenager earlier I was transported to my black eyeliner and tassel skirt sixth form days. 

Finally we visited Mr Huda's spice paste stand. I adore Indian food but getting take away can be expensive, not great for my weight nor my IBS! If I make it at home I can cut out the ghee, cream and control the spice.

I'd first met Mr Huda a month before at the Lincolnshire sausage festival where I bought a jar of Balti curry paste from him. Amazingly he recognised me and remembered some of pictures of my curries I'd tweeted.

I was so touched when he saw me and said hello and he's so passionate about his spice blends that you can't help but get enthused about Indian food when you chat to him.

His pastes are amazing, by far the best ones I've ever bought, and I got a Tikka Masala one at the show which I can't wait to try. 

After the show we headed a short walk to the Pizza Express on the corner for dinner. Yes amazingly after all those bites and samples we were hungry for a proper meal and we were also in need of a sit down. 

We'd both brought little individual cakes as presents for hubbies and boys, plus ourselves for the journey home.

They were packaged in cute little boxes and as we got all our parcels out on the train home, we checked them over. 

Here's what we found on the base of the box

After the amount I'd eaten that day and all the weight I must have put on my ever expanding backside and hips I couldn't have said it better myself....... 

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The One with All The Phone Calls From Alan

Since having the boy and working for myself, I'm at home in the daytime a whole lot more than I ever used to be, and I seem to be constantly called by someone calling himself "Alan".

I don't personally believe "Alan" is actually called "Alan". I don't know what his name is but he sure as hell doesn't sound like an "Alan" to me!

In fact whenever he calls, and it's often several times a day, he never seems to have the same voice twice yet he's always called "Alan". So the other day when he called I thought I'd just ask him, you know friendly like, are you really, really, hand on heart actually called Alan.

Alan "Hello, my name is Alan"

Me "No it's not"

Alan " Just a quick call to ask who your gas and electricity suppliers are?"

Me "You don't sound like an Alan to me"

Alan "British Gas? EON? Southern" Which one is it please?"

Me "You're not really called Alan are you?"

Alan "Could you just tell me who supplies your gas and electricity?"

Me " Gladly"

Alan "Good"

Me "If you tell me what your real name is?"

Alan "My name is Alan"

Me " No it's not"

Alan "Please can you tell me who supplies your gas and electricity?"

Me " Look Alan. May I call you Alan? You're not really called Alan are you? Not really. And until the people you work for stop insulting my intelligence and yours by making you pretend to be in England and pretend that you watch Eastenders and pretend that your name is Alan then I'm going to pretend that no one supplies my gas and electricity. I'm going to pretend that I'm self sufficient and have a generator in my basement that coverts my animal dung into electricity for me, just like Tom and Barbara Good from "The Good Life". Do you watch "The Good Life" Alan or is it just wall to wall Eastenders in your house? 

Alan "We can give you a better deal on your gas and electricity if you just tell me who your supplier is?"

Me "What if it's you Alan?"

Alan " I don't know. I'm so confused."

Me " I'm not surprised you're confused going round pretending to be Alan all day when you're not. That must be very confusing for you. Goodbye" 

Click brrrr. I hung up. 

That's the way to get rid of the uninvited "Alan's" in your life. 

Next I can't wait for Alan's mate Alan to phone and ask if I've been mis-sold PPI. 

That'll be interesting.....

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The One With Remembrance Sunday

25 years ago this week I went on a sixth form excursion to the battlefields in France and Belgium. It was an A level history field trip and it changed my life.

That may sound rather an over dramatic, sweeping statement but it did.

We were studying World War 1, which has left me with a devotion and passion for the war poets to this day. As we walked along the actual trenches of the Somme and visited the endless fields of graves, we were all struck by the waste of all those young lives. 

Of course back then, as a bunch of idealistic 17 year olds, we were going to change the world. Some of our number wore white poppies for peace along with the blood red poppies of remembrance. After two Gulf wars, the conflict in Afghanistan, 9/11 and the London Tube bombings I doubt they do now.

Now peace seems like a luxury. Remembrance is a necessity. In my eyes anyway.

On Sunday, when I chatted to a friend on Twitter who was actually there on that field trip I suddenly remembered a poem I wrote some years later about the experience.

Yes you heard correctly. A poem.

I haven't written much poetry over the years but occasionally the mood takes me. I have never shared any of it with anyone before. Ever. But somehow this feels right and sums up how I felt then and now.

And yes we really did have Kate Bush The Whole Story playing on the tape deck of the coach and Army Dreamers came on just as we first saw the fields of graves. I also did fall arse over tit in a trench and get covered in mud!

So here it is. Wear your poppy with pride.


Have you been there?

Have you seen it?

Did you trip up in a trench?

Did you laugh your teenage socks off?

Cos you couldn’t smell the stench.

Playing Kate Bush “Army Dreamers’

As the coach went passing by

Then we saw the fields of endless graves

And we all began to cry.

Now I’ll always buy a Poppy

To commentate their fate

And remind me how we stood there

Sobbing tears at Menin Gate.

Just a bunch of idealistic kids

But when the truth was told

The facts are bigger than ideals

And make your blood run cold.

The boys who died at just 16

The husbands, fathers, sons

Sent out to meet their slaughter

Ready with their guns.

The endless names on massive tombs,

The endless lines of graves.

Babies ripped from mother’s wombs,

And not one we could save.

Buried where they’ve fallen

It’s more than just a shame

The hopeless sense of heartbreak

For graves without a name.

And when we crossed the channel

We’d still hear their battle call

We’d all returned much altered

But they’d not come back at all.

So I always buy a poppy

To commemorate the dead

And say thank you to the living

With “Army Dreamer’s in my head.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

The One With Hillsborough - Part 2

Since writing my original post on the Hillsborough tragedy

I have had the honour of chatting with several people from Liverpool on Twitter and my post has been read by them along with the official Liverpool FC Twitter account, the JFT96 account and two people who were there that awful day. All now follow me and I follow them.

All have thanked and even praised me for my words.

The day after the startling, and frankly disturbing, revelations about the cover up and lies told after Hillsborough came out I was asked onto local radio to discuss my blog and my thoughts on the tragedy.

Here's the listen again link for the interview. You need to go 35 minutes in.

I was honoured that they asked me to talk about this subject. It's now a cause very close to my heart and for anyone who follows me on Twitter they'll see me often hashtag #JFT96 (Justice for the 96) - referring to the 96 people who died that day - as a mark of respect.

The world was a very different place in 1989. 

We now all have mobile phones that have cameras, video and internet access. We are now all effectively journalists. Pictures, video and comments on social media sites can be posted in seconds as soon as a big news story breaks.

I hope that now there is no way something so terrible could occur let alone be covered up and take 23 years to come to light.

The families never gave up and now they have the beginning of the justice they so richly deserved.

The government has apologised.

You'll Never Walk Alone is back in the charts.

Fans and players have paid tribute this weekend by wearing black arm bands, flying flags at half mast, singing songs of solidarity on the terraces. That aren't terraces now, they're seats.

Match of the Day 2 has just run a beautiful tribute to the 96 by listing the names from youngest to oldest. 

The youngest was 10 years old.

He was tested for alcohol in his blood.

The true "Justice for the 96" has only just begun.... 

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The One With Nursery

I've been concerned lately that I don't do enough with the boy. You know, activity wise.

When I was on maternity leave life was a whir of swimming lessons, Jo Jingles, NCT meetings and Baby Bounce. I had classes, clubs and community coming out of my ears.

After a while it all sort of settles down. Now, after 2 and a half years, finding things to entertain the boy is a real struggle and I'm relying too heavily on the TV and DD's which is his charming and affectionate name for DVD's. 

For a lot of children nursery or child care provides all the stimulus they need. 

The boy hasn't gone to nursery yet. I've been putting it off. I know it will do him good but then being at home with his Mum can't be damaging him for life can it? Children are such a long time at school it seemed a shame to pack him off to someone else if I didn't have to.

But is he missing out?

Lemon Cake Lady mentioned the other day that her boy had started phonics at nursery. For those uninitiated in phonics it it now the standard method for teaching primary school children how to read by sounding out the letters. 

Surely this means that children who's mum's don't work, or have childcare kindly provided for them by grandparents or other family members, will be at a disadvantage when they start school? 

It's contentious subject. Mums I speak to who send their children to nursery and have done for a while extol its virtues, while some stay at home mums say the best place is with family. 

Then of course there's the cost. Hippy Chick was telling me recently that it costs £500 a month for Mini Hippy Chick to go to nursery for 3 days a week. That's a lot of money! But then of course you're paying someone to do a job for you, to provide a service, to look after and entertain your child. So therefore they need paying a wage but this has to be a wage that's less than the wage you're earning otherwise it's robbing Peter to pay Paul as the old saying goes.

Unless of course you qualify for working tax credits or child tax credits. Don't even get me started on the minefield of those! Those forms are a whole other blog.

I've been lucky as Nanny P has had the boy while I worked since just before his first birthday. She currently has him a day and a half but I need to work more hours so the time has come for the boy to venture into the big wide world.

You can debate the whys and wherefore's forever but eventually nursery's gonna get you in the end. You can't avoid it. There are times when I feel like its a social plague that he doesn't go.

"Is he at nursery yet?

"What that boy needs is nursery!"

"Nursery will do him good you know!"

So he's going. Not because I feel he has too, although I'm rapidly realising that in the modern world of childcare yes he has to, to keep up, but because I want him to and I need him to. It'll give me better structure to separate work and time at home and be more "boundaried" as Hippy Chick would say. My focus won't be split between the boy and things on my "to do list". I'll work when he's in childcare and when he's not I'll be a focused mum instead of flitting between crayon and computer. 

It also means Nanny P can go down to just one day of the boy a week instead of helping out with a half day for me too. 

Much more structured. For me and her as well as for him.

So this afternoon I phoned the nursery and they have a place for Tuesday and Thursday mornings. The form is filled in and the boy and I are going up there in the morning to drop it off and sort out a trial date.

I'm partly sad that this little era has ended where I spent pretty much everyday with him. I'm  partly relieved that the decision is made and sorted but mostly I'm nervous. For both of us. 

I can feel tears and tantrums coming on. And that's just me!

Expect blogs about the boys adventures at nursery very soon....

Knowing the boy, as I do, it's bound to be eventful......

Saturday, 11 August 2012

The One Where We Go To The Olympics

On Sunday hubby and I went to the Olympics!

Yes the Olympics!

The London 2012 Olympics in our country, in our lifetime, in my husbands home city.

Can you tell we were a bit excited?

So excited in fact that we kept saying "We're at the Olympics" to each other every five minutes until we even annoyed ourselves! 

We travelled over to London early on Sunday and got into town (as hubby calls it because he's allowed to being a genuine Londoner) in good time to line the route for the Ladies Marathon.

The boy , by the way, was with Nanny P and Granddad Atu and when informed by my Mum that "Mummy and Daddy had gone to the Olympics| and she was going to put the TV on incase they could spot us on the telly, the boy seemed briefly impressed by this,

"Lympics. Oh." but after about 20 seconds of watching people run in the pouring rain added "Spencer and Gordon next DD put on please" and Thomas the Tank Engine stories reigned supreme once more. 

We positioned ourselves at the front of the barrier with a great view of the runners coming around the corner, where they were to be greeted with the stunning sight of St Paul's Cathedral bathed in mid morning summer sunlight.

Well that was the plan of the organisers I'm sure. What actually greeted them was a dirty great black cloud hanging heavy over the majesty of that fine building. With a lot of people in cagoules looking like someone had just tipped a bucket of water over a rambling club!

Welcome to London! Here have a towel.

We were soaked! But it didn't matter. We cheered the ladies on including our own personal favourite, a very plucky girl from East TiMor, who must have been a good 20 minutes behind everyone else and was possibly just running for a bus she was so off the pace. 

Amazingly when we checked the result of the race later she didn't come last so she either got a spurt on or someone gave her a piggy back!

Having watched the runners go round a couple of times at various points on the route, after finding some powerful hand driers in the toilets of a very posh shopping centre in the city to dry face, hands, arms, my top and my supposedly waterproof coat, we were on our way across London to Earl's Court for the ladies volleyball.

As advised we got there two hours before to get through security and because we cleared this so quickly we had time to kill before the matches. So we looked at vastly overpriced merchandise and bought vastly overpriced food and we sat in front of a big screen with everyone else and watched Ben Ainslie win his sailing gold medal cheering like idiots.


Then it was time for the main event. The first match was GB ladies versus Japan. A whitewash unfortunately to Japan but then we discovered that they are ranked 5 in the world and GB ladies have never entered a team before.

The second match was a masterclass in how to play the game. Italy (ranked 4) versus Russia (ranked 9). This went to all five sets and was very close with Russia, who have team members that are 6-ft 4 and two who are 6-ft 8, eventually winning.

Now all through the two matches we had the family from hell behind us. Actually it was more like the Dad and one teenage son from hell because the Mum and the other lad where fine. They had with them an official concertina device that you whacked against your hand, arm, each other, the seat in front of you, anything really to make a noise. Think of the noise and annoyance of an old fashioned football rattle and multiply it by 12 and you've got it.

They thumped the damn thing throughout the whole of the GB v Japan match and then mercifully left in the break and for the first set of the Italy v Russia game.

We thought they'd gone. We were home and dry. Hooray. We'd got rid of them. Our withering looks had forced them to move to some of the empty seats over the other side.

No such luck!

They returned and unfurled a flag then proceeded to cheer enthusiastically for Italy.

There was something wrong with the flag though. It didn't seem quite right. I turned to hubby

"The Italian flag is red, white and green, right?" I asked

"Yes" he said "It's up there with all the flags of the competing countries in this event" and he pointed up to where all the flags were displayed.

I scanned them. No I couldn't see the flag they were waving. There's was similar but the colours were a bit wrong and it had a dark pattern in the middle. What on earth were they doing? They kept on shouting "Italia, Italia" but what were they waving?

Hubby looked round "They've got the Indian flag" hubby laughed "It's green, white and orange look, with the wheel emblem in the centre"

That was it then. I was gone. I'd got the giggles. It didn't matter how annoying they were after that, all I had to do was turn around look at the flag and see them waving it as they cheered for Italy and I lost it again. 

It's a shame they only take Visa at the London 2012 games because this was a Mastercard moment.  Just like the whole experience of the day, it was priceless!

Monday, 6 August 2012

The One Where We're In The Papers Again

A year on from my theatre group, Two Rivers Theatre Company, featuring in The Independent on Sunday talking about Calendar Girls, the darling paper has done a follow up piece.

Oh! The bare-faced cheek of it: Release of amateur rights to stage 'Calendar Girls' sparks record - News - Theatre & Dance - The Independent

This time they have spoken to lots of groups all over the country asking why they want to bare all on stage and do this play.

We feature!

Journalist Kate Youde did a lovely interview with cast member Val King who has very personal reasons for being in the show.

I still can't believe we're going to do this but I'm so proud that we are. Despite all my body confidence fears at being overweight with saggy boobs, cellulite and stretch marks I'll be proud to stand there with teapot and cup in hand covering me vitals! 

I'm a middle aged woman who's had a child and I can't shy away from that anymore. I am what I am as the song goes. I could be slimmer, I could be fitter but I'll always be me. As long as I'm healthy I have to except my body for what it is and what time has made it become. 

So yes I'll be proud to stand there naked.

I'm not doing it without a drink inside me mind you... but I'll be proud to do it!

Oh and just to clarify the drink won't be tea....

Sunday, 29 July 2012

The One, One Year On

This is the last time I'll bang on about this. Promise!

Today is the one year anniversary of my last day at Fred Olsen Cruise Lines - the company I worked for, for 13 and a half years.

The day was one of the worst of my life. I put on a brave face. I made jokes. I played the fool and the clown as I always do because that's how I cope.

For Christ sake I even had a "closing down sale" and gave away my stapler and hole punch.

Inside I was scared and frightened and someone had ripped my guts out.

When I left I sat in my car for the best part of an hour crying my eyes out with Ken - who was crying too and we hugged and laughed and cried some more and couldn't believe we wouldn't be working together after all these years.

But now one year on I'm sitting here writing this with a bottle of something fizzy and dry to toast the last year and the amazing changes in my life.

It was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Just not done in the best way.

To this day I don't think they ever understood why I contested my redundancy when it was noted that I quite obviously had aspirations and talents elsewhere.

But I felt that was my decision to make - no one else's.

I resented the assumption that I'm good old sport and would go quietly. Without one last hurrah. A send off. A thank you. But with a boot up the arse out the door. Off you go love and do your writing because we know you're hearts not in it and you've had this baby we didn't expect you to have and we don't really know what to do with you so slink off without a word there's a good girl and we'll forget this ever happened shall we!

Well that was never going to be me now was it.

Maybe I got it wrong. Maybe now with reflection I was rash, hasty, angry, hurt, humiliated.

It was the speed, the sweeping assumptions, the feeling of being brushed under the carpet.

I have since been told that I was a "situation" which has now been dealt with. I was too loud. Too noisy. There'd been whispers. Complaints.

Well I moved floors when our department changed I didn't fundamentally alter my personality so what the hell did they expect.

It leaves yet another bitter taste in my mouth about my years working for "the man" as a friends husband calls it and it serves to confirm that I would now, even after only a year, struggle to work for someone else.

So tonight I raise a glass not to those years but to the last year and the years to come.

Cheers and remember the words of the always eloquent and articulate Fletch from Porridge

"Don't let the bastards grind you down!"

Monday, 23 July 2012

The One With the Nude Photos

Yes actually nudie photos!

Of me!

I know!

Some say I was brave. Others, stupid!

But never the less I found myself posing nude for a charity calendar in aid of the local hospice and in association with our production of Calendar Girls this September.

In the spirit of the original story the cast and director all posed nude in the calendar, only in ours we were in the theatre where we perform. Our poses all centred around putting on a show, lighting, sound, costumes you know the kind of thing. 

Having the pictures taken was liberating, exciting, scary and empowering all at once. But to quote a line from the play

" It's just when you start something that's only a few photos that a few people are going to see..."

Since the calendar was launched we have been in the local press and on the local radio. The national press awaits and then who knows what may happen. At the time I just stripped off and got on with it but now people are actually looking at the pictures, as beautiful as they are, I can't help wanting to crawl under a rock and hide my rather over exposed body. 

I am extremely proud of us all and if you would like to buy one then they are just a minimum donation of £3 each for St Elizabeth Hospice in Ipswich and available from our Facebook page

So here I am with the rest of the cast doing our bit for charity. If you want to see some of us come out from behind the piano then you'll have to buy one! 


Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The One with the Ice Cream Cornet

Sunday saw us all go out for a meal for Father's day. Myself, hubby, the boy, Nanny P and Granddad Atu. 

We chose a very nice pub near to where my parents live which is now run by twin brothers and the chef I know as I'm friends with his other half and they all in turn know Ken, Barbie and Earthquake (the pub is The Plough and Sail in Snape if anyone is local and wants to go along, the food is fantastic).

The boy seemed on good form and had slept in until 8am so a 12 o'clock reservation seemed perfect timing and the last thing I thought he'd be was tired.

But there he was sat at the table, eventually, arsey as hell and rubbing his eyes!

We ordered starters and asked for his pasta to come with those, which it duly did. It was very tasty. The boy wasn't having any of it!

As Granddad Atu didn't have a starter he took the boy outside for a run around and a walk. A long walk. So long in fact that Hubby had to go and find out where they were.

No matter. The boy likes his food stone cold. Really he does. 

Our main course arrived. Still he refused the pasta.

My Mum chipped in

"Can he have a sandwich?"

"Mum they don't do sandwiches. If he's hungry he'll eat this pasta. I'm not ordering him anything else"

"No I mean I've got some sandwiches here. In my bag. I've done him some just in case."

Now I carry snacks. Rations. Emergency supplies. I'd got breadsticks on me and even one of those squeezy fruit pouches - which by the way he had devoured so he wasn't adverse to all food that day - but Mum had a full pack up about her person.

"Mum! He eats this or nothing at all. I am not giving him a pack up in a restaurant. He's 2 now, he can eat what we eat."

"Don't make a scene dear. What will people think?"

And that has always been the trouble - what will people think? It used to worry the life out of me too but not anymore. He's my son and if I say no, I mean no and I'm not giving in just because we're out in public and to spare other people the short lived inconvenience of hearing the boy go off on one! 

It will be dealt with my way.

Or so I thought.

I had promised the boy ice cream if he was good. He clearly wasn't being good as the screaming and physical pushing away of my hand every time I tried to force tomato pasta down his throat was testament too. However he had become fixated with the ice cream.

"Ice cream cornet. Ice cream cornet" he kept repeating.

He had clearly forgotten, blocked out or just used his selective hearing and missed the first bit about being a good boy and all that would calm him was ice cream.

The pressure to appease the situation was pretty intense at this point.

I ordered ice cream.

Two scoops, one strawberry and one chocolate swiftly came. (god bless those lovely waitresses)

They were in a bowl with a spoon. The boy still mentioned a cornet.

"It's ice cream honey. In a bowl. With a spoon. Like a big boy."

"Does he want it in a cornet?" asked my Mum routing around in her handbag like Mary Poppins. "Because I've got one here!" 

And then it happened.

My mum produced from her bag an ice cream cone perfectly preserved in a polythene food bag secured at the top with a twisty tie. 

"Oh my god" was all that I could muster from my already open mouth.

"Well I thought he might like one and they often don't have them in restaurants. They just have ice cream in bowls. Don't look at me like that. I know you think I'm silly"

But that's just it. I don't think she's silly at all. I think the woman's a genius. Or bonkers. Or both.

I can't decide how I felt. If I was in awe of Nanny P's organisational skills or if I was a bad mother for not packing one myself.

My Mum has always been prepared like the most ultra efficient boy scout there ever was. She has paracetamol,ibuprofen, tissues, wipes, plasters, nail files and needle and thread for ever conceivable emergency. But...


The boy sat happily with a scoop of strawberry ice cream wedged into the top of the cornet, licking away. 

Peace at last...

But at what price?

I mean, whatever would people think.....? 

Saturday, 16 June 2012

The One with the Emotions

The boy has started to express himself!

And I don't just mean by screaming, although he is still doing an awful lot of that, but actually by communicating needs, wants, desires, emotions - call them what you will. 

He's always been very good with his language and single or maybe two or three words together but recently, when he's been stressed and in the middle of a tantrum, Hubby and I have both taken to saying

"Tell us what the problem is. What do you need? Use your words."

This is a combination of a few things. The Baby and Toddler Calm course we went on to learn how to deal with tantrums (which isn't surprisingly chuck jam tarts at them until they shut up which is what I was always led to believe), the middle expression which is something Lemon Cake Lady uses and the last one which is something Vixen uses on her little boy, who can now say whole sentences and has been for ages. 

And you know what? It works!

Don't get me wrong, it doesn't work straight away. This is the boy we're talking about here. He still cries, screams and bangs his head on stuff (really wish he wouldn't do that, he bruises easily like I do - hello social services).

However when he does eventually calm down he can now "use his words' and express "what he needs".

Evidence of which became apparent the other night when we put him to bed.

A combination of a solid bedtime routine and sheer beginners luck has meant that 9 times out of 10 bedtime with the boy is pretty hassle free.

On this occasion we said all the usual night time stuff. Sweet dreams, we love you, settle down, see you in the morning, don't wake up until at least 7 o'clock or we will be forced to ignore you & shut our bedroom door to drown out the incessant screaming for a Thomas DD (DVD). You know the drill. When, just as I was leaving the room a little voice said

"No Mama"

No! No, no, no. What is this no you speak of?

"Not tired."

Oh god. He understands the concept of not being something. Before it was always expressing a need for something, like food, juice, milk or Fireman Sam on continuously but never that he was "not" something.

We offered a compromise. We left the landing light on and his door open and said he could look at his books until he was feeling tired then he could go to sleep.

A bright and positive "Ok" was the response so we sneaked out while our luck was still holding!

When we came downstairs Hubby and I couldn't decide if we were proud or terrified.

"Ahhh he can understand and tell us when he's not tired" we said dreamily, very proud of another milestone in the boys life.

"Arggghhhhh he can understand and tell us when he's not tired" we screamed at each other!

Bedtime may never be as calm again. 

Let battle commence.....

Saturday, 9 June 2012

The One With the Cake and the Celebrity Crush

It's been a little while since I did a foodie blog and as today I've been somewhat of a domestic goddess I thought I'd put that right.

Today I made a cake. Not just any old cake but a cake from the new book by "The Great British Bake Off" winner Jo Wheatley "A Passion for Baking". I'd treated myself to the book last week but hadn't got round to looking at it properly yet. As I had three over ripe bananas in my fruit bowl goading me into doing something with them, other than throwing them away, I went in search of a recipe for Banana loaf. 

And here it is

Me being me I mucked about with the recipe a bit as my cupboards dictated. I used golden caster sugar instead of demerara and dark soft brown sugar instead of light. I didn't have any pecans so I just left them out and I put the cinnamon in the mixture rather than sprinkle it on top.

But the results were great. The boy devoured a whole piece at tea time and has been hyper on the slow release energy of bananas and a tonne of sugar ever since. He's been bouncing off the walls like Tigger and is currently in bed and, from what I can gather, is narrating to bear, bunny and monkey entire episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine. 

Ahh at least he's happy! 

I tweeted about my success and the lovely Jo re-tweeted it and then sent me a message back. 

I got a bit star struck as I do in these matters. Well she's off the telly from a programme I really like and her book is great.

I know I'm lame! What can you do? 

Jo Wheatley tweeting me back also meant I was only one degree of separation away from one of the hosts of  "The Great British Bake Off", Mr Paul Hollywood.

Lemon Cake Lady and I have complete and utter teenage style crushes on "the Silver Fox"!

All you have to do is mention whipping up icing with your hand to LCL and she melts into a puddle on the floor.

Clementine has suggested I apply for The Great British Bake Off as a contestant. I'd be hopeless. Yes I can bake. A bit. But not to the standard they require and also I'd be a gibbering wreck. All it would take would be for Paul Hollywood to announce that the technical bake was iced fingers and I'd be a goner!

Although it might be worth it  to go on and say my signature bake was chocolate rice crispy cakes and just see how Paul and Mary Berry coped without laughing or chucking me out the tent? 

Instead I am taking Lemon Cake Lady to the Good Food show in November for her birthday present. I have booked the tickets with Gold seats for the food theatre on Friday to see Mary Berry and the afore mentioned Silver Fox Mr Paul Hollywood doing The Great British Bake Off LIVE! 


We'll be within touching distance!

Well row D, which is certainly within icing flicking distance should his hands get too over enthusiastic whilst whipping up a batch. 

To say we're excited is an understatement. We are grown women. With husbands. And children! Yet we are giggling wrecks. Like teenagers with a crush on the teacher. 

Lets just hope we don't muck about so much we get detention.....