Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year All

Of course I celebrate New Years', even though out it can be a bit scary and miserable. Nothing better than an excuse for a small party with friends. This year we are off to our friends' in Hampshire and their gorgeous eco house. Lovely light, and wood and people.

So happy new year all you celebrators and markers of the occasion (which is largely, after all quite a pointless excuse for a party).

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Ten Years Later...

There hasn't been a great deal of fanfare about heralding in a new decade, although most people have looked back on the last ten years and where they were and are now.

I'm tempted to do a quick round up of my life in ten, even though I could never really cover it and it is all a bit 'surface level'.

Essentially, I have the same partner, cat and am the same person, taking on a few pounds of course. I have two children, I started my career properly, and left it within the decade. I had some money during the earlier part, and now don't. And I've moved from East to South to East London then Hastings. I've become part of two fantastic geographical communities, and sadly left one all the time realising how important all the communities we're in and have been in are to us.

And I've lost some people on the way; and gained some people. The losses have been great to us, and people around us. The gains; two children and some fantastic friends some who have stayed the same and some new.

We've also had a 'credit crunch' realisation and have spent our first Christmas, and much of the last couple of years without credit. It's been tough, a bit embarrassing sometimes but so worth it. And the bonus is that of course things can only get better.

And talking of things can only get better; I lost my politics during the last ten years; disillusionment set in, and its only now I'm beginning to understand the politics with a small 'p' that are important to me, and the issues that really really matter.

This decade I plan to be working in the house at the start and doing some courses and studying. By the end of the decade I hope I'm in the same house, with the same people and friends. Just maybe with the addition of a dog. Small things eh?

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas one and all

The hatches are battened down, the fridge is full, the trial run of Yorkshire puddings were flat (cook them longer next time), the booze is in and the stockings are up.
Merry Christmas everyone.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

This year's Christmas Wreath at Tattyhouse

This is our Christmas wreath, made out of re-used cardboard, scraps of paper, and old decorations. Poor Christmas angel teddy used to have a whole family of friends but bits of them keep falling apart, aah.

Soap, soap and lip balm

I've been meaning to mention this for ages but one of the nicest consequences of this blog is I've 'met' virtually a lovely woman who has been sending me soap. Yes, that is right lovely, lovely all vegan natural gorgeous smellling soap to try out. I've been doing this for some time, and waiting for her to set up her website so I can add the link. Well, rather belatedly on my part here it is;

All gorgeous, natural stuff, no harm caused in the production and you know you're doing the right thing in buying from her.

Advertisment and promotion formally over...

Monday, 21 December 2009

If I could be doing anything right now...

I'd be sitting in a busy pub, on a comfy sofa drinking a lovely vodka and cranberry chatting with friends and smoking Marlboro Lights indoors. I might even have a game of pool, and hope the lights would shine the way to home, or at least the holes.

Shine on and smoke on UK.

Snowed in down South

We were planning to go and visit my parents tomorrow, up in Hertforshire but sadly the weather has changed our plans. The snow up there has stayed since Friday, and it is just getting snowier and snowier with treacherous roads and traffic jams on the motorways. Train travel not possible either; and apparently fights are breaking out amongst the commuters at London Bridge trying to get home.

Misery, misery, misery - oh and Eurostar has been cancelled for three days.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Queens Head is Good Bon Viveur's Pub (according to Saturday's Guardian)

And doesn't it look lovely? Amazing views across the county too. And apparantly good beer for those who know what that is (i.e. not me). Here's the link; . All's good bar the writing on the roof.

Must go this Christmas.

Fancy a pint anyone? Oh and gis' a lift as don't fancy being the driver.

Friday, 18 December 2009

There is a snow day after all...

Just been called in to the school again to pick up children due to power cut. Which was a little premature as power was on (again?) within few minutes. Still, not much learning going on today and more fun. They'll just have to enjoy some colouring and making and the telly.

For now anyway - some friends are over later so usual Friday madness of a little wine, popcorn ground in to floor, DVD's and possibly sharing pjymamas to come..

No snow day today

There is a little snow on the ground, all buses are suspended in Brighton and it seems nearly all schools. Here in gloomy Hastings all seems to be open, just quiet and dark and wet. Oh, and the carol concert will no doubt be cancelled. Which is a shame as I fancied a quiet cry in the back row.
After Jem's attempts to sing as loudly as she could at the last carol concert though it may have been tears of another sort in my eyes.

No snow day. No snow day.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Best Kept Secret in Town

I had the best night out last night, fantastic film in the school hall; 'Like Water for Chocolate'. Suddenly I like the magic realisim, and I adore the book. Then off to dinner with our school book club to the best kept secret in town. Here is the lovely place: . Amazing dinner, spicy yet edible, and gorgeous gorgeous aubergine for main. And one of the best bits was the atmosphere; dinner squeezed in to tiny tables in the middle of books, full of people browsing the shelves, chatting and drinking bring your own wine and as much of the free chillled water as needed. This was quite a lot during my Tom Yum soup.

Want to go again tonight for dinner.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Speedy News

My neck still hurts, it is cold, we are up early and I've had two coffee's already. Latter potentially a mistake though I'm a buzzing with hill walking energy though lacking will to get out in the icy weather.

Tiny Thing Conversion Factory: Pandas to Gnomes by Mochimochi Land

Love it, from Craft.

Monday, 14 December 2009

It must be Christmas stress

I've got my neck disease, a sort of allergic reaction that looks, and is very painful and can have the appearance of someone who has tried to hang themselves. Last time I had it in a significant way I was doing a really stressful job, working shifts and generally totally miserable. It morphed in to a horrible itchy underarm thing that only got better when I stopped using all products, including deodorant. Luckily was on holiday in chilly Poland/Czech Republic at the time so not too bad for people around me.

This time I'm not sure what to blame on neck disease. Sort of Christmas stress; over-use of products, hair dye? Who knows - no cream will make it better, and I'll just have to ride it out. The first time I had one of these skin things, it was during my finals, and was cunningly of my body, elbow disease, making it really hard to sit still at desk with my arms on it. This time it is just hard to not pull my own bloody neck skin out Ala a Christmas chicken.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Dear Auntie Beeb

I shall have to stop watching 'Never Mind the Buzzcocks' shortly if you persist in having horrid unfunny presenters like that nasty piece of work Frankie Boyle on. Can you not find a decent proper replacement for the lovely, albeit sometimes sarcastic others.

I'm also very unimpressed with the grumpy fat one. There is nothing worse than seeing an old woman hater calling prostitutes whores. It's just not on.

So dear Auntie sort it out please.

Bev age 37 and a bit

P.s. Noel Fielding is lovely, and he can stay.

Dear Father Christmas

I'd quite like one of these please. Then I will make some vegetarian marshmallows with it.

Thank you very much.

We had a power cut last night...

They happen about once a year or so, here in the country/outside London world. Always a bit inconvenient - last night I could not sleep and was reading/watching telly when the world went a bit black. We're relatively well organised with candles to hand, lighters, a torch and a battery lantern. Trouble was the renewable energy torch decided last night it would take its kinetic powered status a little far and only work when you shook it. Leading to some shaky lighting.

Still, it only lasted about half an hour, and is fairly dramatic as a little reminder we're not in town now. Of course we are in town, local town so also bit confusing as to why Hastings itself is in 1970. And we're talking about bringing trams back, which I'm delighted by. Used to adore Croydon's trams and getting them to work.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

A House of One's Own...

So today, for the first time since I think last July I had the house to myself from 9.30 until 2.30pm. I had not realised it had been so long, and in a false sense of security I did not plan any exciting time to myself so I did the obvious:

Washing, cleaned the bathroom, gardening, tidying, wrote Christmas cards and um, sorted some paperwork. I even considered the ironing but fortuitously Mat had broken the iron only this morning. Well maybe it had broken itself by having two feet high flames leaping out if its plug socket earlier.

What will I do with my time when Jem is at school full time? I'm hoping to do a class in Tai Chi, and not just the one for older ladies. I'm trying to get on a free community course in creative writing; although it seems amazingly hard to sort out (part of the paperwork earlier). And um, got to be more to life than housework and coffee...

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Sun Jars Really Do Work!

I've wanted one of these for ages, well about a month anyway. And I've got one! Yay, with some birthday money and via the post. I had it on for a night, loved it, re-charged it in the day on the window sill and come the second night - nothing. The bloody thing didn't work. Was very upset but did not want to admit had been fooled by lovely marketing and maybe they didn't work at all in gloomy UK winter etc. so just moved it to second room. Hoping magic would occur.

Then I tried again last night, it only lights up when dark so I spent some time wandering about with the gorgeous darkened jar trying to find a little dark spot. When Mat asked why I didn't just turn it on. Apparently he'd turned it off a few days ago. And I was composing cross complaint letters in my head!

Friday, 4 December 2009

Do you have to be self obsessed to write a blog?

One of my friends in all innocence said that she could not ever write a blog as she was not self obsessed enough. Which made me start wondering; the obvious how self obsessed I am but also whether it is an interest in yourself that makes you write. Or is it a need to get the incessant internal dialogue out without boring people. Alternatively or boring them but as they are reading from a distance you don't know.

Or is it self reflection; a real kind of diary or journal writing when one notes the actions and thoughts of the day; mostly for yourself, maybe a little for posterity and maybe some to be 'out there. Of course the latter is the most alarming concept and leads to the thought that all bloggers are exactly blatant attention seekers, including the author herself.

Now of course this is not wholly true, as we tend to be computer nerdy types who sit in our quiet rooms on our own with our incessant internal dialogues rather than out on Big Brother or trying to get footballers. Although it may just be that we are uglier. But of course that is not true as I have yet to meet a scary faced blogger nevertheless it is a thought.

What do you think? Not of me. of course, but of blogging as a form of self obsession?

Hamster Bill Hurried Home

She's been found. Located due to shuffling noises in downstairs bathroom and found as she'd trapped herself in the empty beer bucket and could not get out.
All really pleased. And Bill pleased to be back in warm cage, we think...

Thank you for all your lovely helpful comment - most useful was Sophie suggesting use of humane mouse trap on reflection. As I guess that was beer bucket in the end.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Missing - Hamster Bill

Oh God! Where is Bill? Can anyone help us? We've lost the hamster - somehow he got out of his cage and we can't find him.

Mat says he's never heard of a happy ending in these cases.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Pom Pom Tastic Fantastic

This years' lovely pom pom tastic fantastic, thanks to the lovely Craftzine blog...

Monday, 30 November 2009

Prawn Cocktail Tales

My grandma loved prawns, especially just bought ones from Brixton Market - which she'd peel, and eat a couple for luck. She made a fantastic prawn cocktail, and I've only just remembered her secret - Marie Rose Sauce.
Essentially, its 4tbs of mayonnaise, 1tbs of ketchup, dash of Worcestershire saure and a little lemon juice. Can't wait to make it. Of course I'll be using my vegetatian Worcerstershire sauce, with my um, fresh local prawns, which will of course be real.

Perfect starter for Christmas day, followed by stuffing and the works.

Can't wait.

She's moved bedrooms

The hamster, Billie has stuffed all the bedding and sawdust in to her giant face and moved in to her hamster wheel. Well, it is a modern sort of wheel, which is actually a ball. She's got all her food in there too and has spent the evening and night making it right cosy.

Of course I feel bad because her other bedroom has a door which means we've been picking her up from it. Which she clearly does not like. So she's made her point in her inaccessible wheel stuffed with bedding and wee.

Am hoping this is a temporary set back in bonding, but could mean we are not succeeding as decent hamster owners; she bites M too (though not anyone else and I tell him it is because he is always eating so smells of food and doesn't wash his hands first).

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Money Saving Expertise

This year, well the last couple of years to be more precise I've been busy honing by money saving skills culminating today in my bestest ever money saved. I've managed to save nearly two hundred pounds on our home insurance, and it was only two hundred and ninety five to start with.

I followed the Money Saving Expert guide, by using search engines for cheap insurance in a particular order and reached an offer of one hundred and fifteen pounds, for a no direct debit, buy it straight away deal. I'll admit I have not heard of the specific company but the dealer is Columbus, who are legitimate so I have not many worries about it. Absolutely fantastic.

Apologies if this sounds like an advert but I am so so pleased. Then, of course we just popped out to Eastbourne and probably spent the difference. We bought a fake Christmas tree, the first one we've had for years. I got put off real trees last year, when we used the one we'd saved from 2007 in a pot in the garden. We bought it in and slugs came out of it, and weird jumping insects. Very grim. Cutting down a tree every year to bin seems wasteful, so I suspect if our plastic type tree is good enough quality (and it should be at forty quid) then it is almost as environmentally justifiable.

The rest of the afternoon was spent quietly cutting out shapes from last years' Christmas cards with the children to make labels with. We have slightly over done it, and possibly have enough labels for many years, particularly as quality control over only classy cards most certainly slipped this afternoon in childish excitement.

Next Saturday the tree is going up. It will be December after all.

Oh, and in other news, I went ice skating yesterday, loved it. May have looked ridiculous as could not get hang of it for first twenty five minutes of thirty minute session, then have managed to really really hurt my foot. Spent most of evening yesterday dragging it around like a club foot.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

OK so I used firelighters...

But that doesn't take away my sense of achievement. I've finally lit a fire! After two and a half years of living with a lovely little wood burner I've learnt how to light a proper fire that stays alight, and isn't out with the newspaper.
Absolutely delighted.

And in other important news I have just deleted my email account, after it pestered my friends to go shopping on its own, or a virus thing's accord. For ten years I've had the same address - ever since I lived in Clapton and used to get the 106 bus in fact (to Stoke Newington which I loved back in the day). But nowadays people were starting to suspect I was, in fact, a secret Eric Clapton fan so I'm not exactly sad to lose the name. Still its a little bit of change I did not expect to under go today.

However onwards and forward marching with google by my side...

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The Green One

I've been 'into' green issues my whole life. I can't remember not recycling - even when it meant carrying empties on the bus to the supermarket centre. I was an early member of CND, a vegetarian for numerous reasons from 13 (although no political ones until a bit later), and believed in 'saving the world'.

But you know what - I've realised today that I've just been drifting along for the last few years. I've been freecycling, hating the landfill, recycling, trying not to use packaging and so on but not thinking about it. In all honesty this carbon neutral stuff has left me cold; especially when I see big companies and organisations and the government getting away with not doing their bit. I've been sick and tired of water companies trying to make us save water, when they have leaking pipes themselves. Then sick and tired of their agreement with local governments to force all house buyers to change to meters; which by their own admission cost around double for a family of four. Interestingly there have been no save water campaigns through our door since we went to a meter.

But on a less ranting note - actually I've just read a fairly old book which reminded me its both the political and the personal that count. Yes, on an individual level there is loads we can do from reducing use, to buying locally and so on however unless we combine it with a political level - both community, national and international then it is all cold and sad.

I feel renewed by energy in this. The first thing I intend to do is sort out my own views; re-join CND and work towards renewable energy. I need to remember to turn off lights, and to turn off appliances at the mains. Plus, I need to combine journeys when I need the car - to kill many birds with one stone if you like. And I need to re-join the neighbourhood association to make our little corner of the town better, plus keep in political touch.

It's the new enthused green me. And as for the Green Party - I must do the research. (Or Mr Grey Area could just tell me - R?).

Bill the Baby comes home...

He's there in his top den; a real live sleeping baby hamster. Now you might ask where this came from, as last blog about animals, in fact possibly last conversation was about the fake hamsters which are much desired. Well on Sunday night a very kind freecycler offered this cage; as her hamster was a bit chubby for the tubes. And I said to M that we'd get it and hide it away in the loft for a year or so until the children were old enough to look after their own pet.

Of course come Monday morning I couldn't resist telling them about it, and just having a little look at hamsters and their accessories and requirements. The little look involved a trip to a pet shop, where worryingly all hamsters were nine weeks old. I'm hating any thought about what happens to ones that don't sell - although to be fair the lovely assistant told us she'd adopted one with a hurt leg that could not be sold, and they did have a little adoption centre. But still frozen hamsters!

Anyway - we had a little look, and fell in love with one. The timing was crucial; as you buy them in a little cardboard box, then transfer them straight to the cage when home. Luckily we managed to buy little Bill; pop her in a double cardboard box, get all her accessories and on the way home pick up the cage. Trouble is, about ten minutes in to the short journey she'd chewed through the first box and was well into the second. I had to ask Ol to hold Bill, in her box, and hold the flaps down. He was fantastic and very responsible, and I think maybe that experience of keeping Bill safe was great for bonding.

So we get Bill home, sort her cage out, pop her in a shoe box for a few minutes and she has lots of poo's. That of course entertains the children; and now we're just waiting for her to settle in to her new home before we move to stroking and cuddling.

And I simply must share some new hamster knowledge with you all that I've learnt;

  1. Hamsters (as in Bolt) really do like to watch telly.
  2. Hamsters like classical music.
  3. Hamsters can recognise their owners voices.
  4. Apple pips are poisonous to hamsters.
  5. When hamsters want to play with you, they sometimes do star jumps to show you.
  6. Hamsters get an illness called wet tail; which is an upset tummy mostly.

Any other hamster tips gratefully received, and yes, I do realise Bill is sort of more my baby.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Possibly this is the most rubbish reason to be awake at 4am but...

I really want one of these, and they are £80. Which, is, after all an awful lot of money for a sleeveless jacket. I'm also having twin worries that I'll look too twinset and pearls, and/or too fat in a kind of bulked up Michelin way.

I've got a friend who's worn bodywarmers for years, but is incredibly specific about the ones she wears. And I know they are handy, specially when you drive and are in and out of cars and for Christmas shopping in town centres when you don't want the hindrance of a bulky coat etc.

I also woke up with a jolt thinking about a couple of friends I haven't seen for ages - weird because I would like a long chat with them, and we used to speak all the time. I actually blame it on living down here by the sea - it is easy to forget there is another world out there. Sometimes the long train journey to London, or the alternative torturous journey down the A21 country road just seems so long. But in my sleep deprived way I have vowed to get better at being in touch, and have written a long to do list.

Night everyone.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Top of the Pops - Come back (nearly) all is forgiven

We watched Rock the Children, Gary Barlow's charity concert from the Royal Albert Hall last night and all I could think, is we've come to this. We're watching a Pudsey Bear effort with that Horrible Fat Man from Radio One (with another fatty from Up North) presenting. And with people like Annie Lennox and Paul McCartney and Leona Lewis on.

But...there was a lovely collaboration between Lily Allen and Take That; and Snow Patrol and Cheryl Cole. I enjoyed seeing some of the other bands live, big noses and all and really enjoyed a 'proper concert' feel.

It just went to show how much we're missing live music on TV these days; even Top of the Pops has now gone. Although at times, especially with the presenting skills of that Reggie it was unbearable at least it offered music that was not all Simon Callow and X factor approved.

Bring back TOTP please BBC - but with new presenters; and NOT ones from Radio One.

Monday, 16 November 2009

It's like a school but in a forest...

I'm off to join a forest school this morning, not quite the circus but certainly a bit of a novelty factor. Not the least in that part of the principles of the school is that school goes on whatever the weather. And we have a rainy storm here - which may or may not get worse. Plus, on a cheery note I've volunteered for the next ten weeks - basically through the worst weather of the year. And unlike the children who will all have lovely waterproofs I've only got a cheapie Millets version.

I am, actually very excited to be spending some mornings in the forest, well, actually some trees behind the Old Town so the children can walk to their school/wood. I adore the woods, and making things in them, and imagining them (sometimes better than actually being in them). I blame Enid Blyton and the Enchanted Wood/Magic Wishing Tree and of course my parents for bringing me up in the country right next door to some lovely woods. Sadly there was a Bad Man who lurked in our village woods but as far as I remember only for a couple of years before he went on to scare other little children with his willy in the next village.

As I'm writing this the weather is clearing, and the coffee is kicking in. Yay, for Bev the forest helper!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Yes, they are chestnuts...

Now as some of you will have figured out I am afraid of spiders. Really afraid; I do believe they are True Evil and will get me in a bad way one day. They're just waiting for their chance.

So to mitigate any chances they might have I decided to get some horse chestnuts and place them in a barrier around the house. A friend gave me some, and the others I spotted over by Alexander Park in Hastings. When I picked them up I was amazed to find that there were three to five nuts in each casing. So amazed I kept some casings intact and intended to talk to someone about my findings. Of course I'd heard on Countryfile that our natural chestnut trees had some serious diseases and presume it was all connected.

Now, of course I can imagine you've realised my error...but I did place the chestnuts in a ring of protection around my house and yes, no spiders at all (well bar one tiny one) since I did that. So of course last week, I had a friend who is known for her no nonsense attitude over last week and she spied a bag of chestnuts I'd bought from a supermarket in my fruit bowl and asked why I hadn't just headed over to the park and picked some up for free. Cue much hilarity and a shocker of a realisation that I hadn't actually discovered an interesting new variety of horse chestnuts in the park.

So today, I decided to cook the supermarket bag of chestnuts; in the oven; then warm them up over the evening on the wood burner. They were great, although of course not as fab as ones bought on the street from 'proper' sellers with grubby blackened fingers. But...I've done it again.

I realised whilst eating one that I'd burnt a bit of it and had a hard bit in my mouth. Which I just swallowed. To be sharply followed by the realisation that I'd also eaten a bit of my back tooth, with the yummy chestnut of course. The filling broke on my tooth, and the edge of my tooth had disappeared.

I'm very embarrassed to go back to the dentist and confess my error, and to pay again for treatment. My poor dentist knows me now, and will, for sure want an explanation.

Friday, 6 November 2009

It's the Great Electricity Challenge of Hastings

I'm taking part in this... as part of 'Users of the Bridge' team. We're hoping to beat the council, and the environmental network, oh and sea space (whoever they are?). Very exciting, and frankly anything I can do to save money - oh and of course the environment is a bonus. One of our main problems is probably ourselves though - the usuals; leaving things on standby ('specially the telly which despite being quite new really does not have an off button and the plug is hidden at the back of a cupboard), and of course leaving lights on.

So let's see if we can get better...and Zap Carbon (what does that actually mean anyway?).

Miaow, Miaow let me in

I now have the definitive answer. Cat flaps do all use exactly the same magnetic key. Therefore if those, as yet, not so clever clogs cats all realised every one with a magnet key collar could access, and thus burgle each others houses.

We know because Seren, the cat lost her magnet key and after a month or so of sellotape holding the cat flap open and feeding all the neighbourhood cats who sneaked in we found an old one. And it really works - totally different manufacturer and design and everything. So much for new technology, mind you it does beat leaving a window open and having random cats enter your house to wee in your toaster.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Flat White with semi skimmed please...

Now, in my world there are three kinds of milk;

Whole milk, for children, and for men who may sample it with a biccy and cuppa. Never to be put in an instant coffee as a 'skin' may form, and never to be put in a real coffee as it will make me feel sick.

Semi-skimmed, for everyone else, good 'normal', healthy*, and to use in coffee, drinking, for cereal etc. etc.

Skimmed milk, for everyone who is watching calories, and can handle the skinny version. Although I do prefer the taste of skimmed milk in tea, I think it is too weak for a real coffee, I do acknowledge that others like it.

Oh - and of course soya, for vegans, and health reasons.

But Costa Coffee in Hastings, oh yes I am naming and shaming them only have full fat or skinny (skimmed) milk here. And it has ruined by coffee drinking experience many a time.

Luckily, the Bridge Community Cafe (mostly) has semi-skimmed milk, lovely bullet has semi, eat@ has semi and so on. Shame on you Costa. Even Starbucks offers a variety of milks.

I'd love to know what the other local independents serve, of course I must try them...I do find asking if a cafe has semi skimmed, then walking out, or ordering a bottled water or something quite excruciating though.

Oh, the things I worry about. But still - let's start a campaign. Bring back the semi. It's healthier and nicer than the full fat. And in any town without decent health food cafe's we need all the help we can get.

*If milk is actually healthy, particularly the non-organic variety which someone once told me is a third pus and antibiotics, although safe to drink.

There are lights and lanes...

On reflection I was most interested in the amazing lines of work traffic going in to the 2012 site. There is actually a motorway toll type system with loads of little cabins, and lanes and lights. It's fascinating to see - and somehow makes the complex task of the whole building works make sense. (One hopes).

East London is a changing...

On the drive back yesterday from East London I was at first awed by the gorgeous sunset over, as usual the Asda car park in Leyton. Oooh, the glamour, but it really was lovely. Then I glanced left and was amazed at the changes to the Hackney Marsh/Leyton Mills/Stratford landscape.

It is all becoming new and modern and shiny, the Olympic stadium can be seen very clearly, plus I think some of the accommodation and well, all sorts of structures. Three years ago the land there really was quite derelict - there used to be a big road junction, with some travellers camped underneath, a cycling track that was shut and covered in glass, a road with some industrial units on it that led to Hackney from Stratford. Cunningly this road also had lots of warren like used car parts shops, well I hesitate to use the word shop, sort of caves with men who knew exactly where all the bits were - if they just climbed over mountains of metal. Oh yes, there was also a big yard full of old fridges. The fridges never reduced in number as far as I could tell, but just sat about leaching evils out.

Perhaps that is unfair - there were also some allotments, people who ran the local business' were apparently not paid enough to sell up, and I guess there must have been some kind of community down there as I think there was a cafe. We also used to live very close to the site, so were never terribly keen on the area. I have to say I'd rather the Mayor of London had greened over the polluting A12 rather than built over any allotments. The air quality in Leyton, particularly down the High Road used to be so bad sometimes I'd worry I should not take my baby out in the buggy to the library as his head was level with the traffic fumes.

Anyway - the Olympic area looks great, and I understand it is now on time or ahead plus running to budget, or at least to the new budget. The challenge will be to make sure the whole area benefits; that walls are not put up around the site to stop locals getting in (as in Canary Wharf which only has one little path from the traditional poorer areas). And that somehow the money gets out to the local area, as well as letting people in.

An intriguing problem - one which I have to say I don't have enormous faith in Seb Coe (Conservative and I think, according to my mum once spat on the ground), and Boris Johnson (so obviously Conservative, albeit with a big bit of Posh and sometimes a smaller c) sorting out. But good luck guys, don't forget we're all watching you though - and it is not to see how many medals we get).

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

A beautiful day

We said goodbye to a friend today, who had time to plan, and think about the funeral. It was lovely, humanist, perfect and all about him. A true celebration of his life.

And as always with these things it was wonderful to see the old community, the friends, the groups of family, and old friends. I was fortunate in being part of a wonderful Leytonstone community again today for a little while.

The Tree of Life

The death of each of us is in the order of things; it follows life as surely as night follows day. We can take the tree of life as a symbol. The human race is the trunk and branches of this tree, and individual men and women are the leaves which appear one season, flourish for a summer and then die. I too am like a leaf on this tree and one day I shall be torn off by a storm, or I shall simply decay and fall and mingle with the earth at its roots. But, while I live I am conscious of the tree's flowing sap and steadfast strength. Deep down in my consciousness is the consciousness of a collective life, a life of which I am a part and to which I make a minute but unique contribution.

When I die and fall, the tree remains nourished to some small degree by my manifestation of life.
Millions of leaves have preceded me and millions will follow me; but the tree itself grows and endures.

from the British Humanist Association

When Sleep is the Opposite of Restful

Just had a terrible night's sleep. There was all sorts going on in my head. I think someones boss appointed me to a job, then changed their mind when they saw how much baggage I had. Literally, in the dream I was packing up boxes and boxes of too small clothes, and knick knacks.

Hideous, then I hated them, taunted them behind their back, and was scared of their four month old kitten as it had really long claws. Somehow the Evil boss pair fooled me in to them getting hold of my lovely, real blue car. Evil boss man then drove it in to a fence in a park - leaving me to piece it together and call the police as it was a write off.

Finally it ended with some Nice People wanting to get to Church Street, N16 which had somehow moved to Spitalfields. They got there, climbed a giant church (it would be wouldn't it?), then I worried about them falling off the church and woke up.

Suspect it all means I am a bit loopy and am mixing up all Very Important Things in my head. Must remember not to Taunt Baddies behind their backs though as like my lovely car in one piece (plus it is Wrong).

I've got a sad, big day today in town going to a funeral - so I guess that it explains some of it.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

No news is not good news...

I didn't get the job...they liked me. But an internal candidate was 'exceptional'.

Never mind, I was enthusiastic and nice, and I think if I bumped in to them again or applied for something else I'd have a good chance.

But still... what a shame.

p.s. They left it until 9.35am to ring me, which is most certainly the rejection call.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Not so good...and good

I don't think I was the 'right person or type'. Either that or actually not having enough recent experience - not sure 20 years ago counts ruled me out.


Not that I've actually had a phone call this evening, but you know, if you don't get one on the same day it is all bad. Letter will be in the post no doubt.

Woe is me, this is only the second interview I've had and not got the job. First one was a couple of years ago down here and I did try and take my breast feeding baby on my lap. I guess that put them off, also apparently I did not have enough experience either.
You'd think at 36 I'd have enough.

Oh and in other news we went to see Joseph tonight, courtesy of the local paper and VIP tickets. It was fantastic, and we even got Craig Chambers signature. Free champagne too. Lovely. The children were entranced, and they even did a little sing a along bit at the end.

Monday, 26 October 2009

It's a Big Week here...

Lovely M has a new job! And it is walkable, and he may or may not be able to ditch the ties (we think may not as its a promotion but you never know).

So that is fantastic.

And tomorrow I am venturing out of the house, away from the laundry, and cleaning and um, internet to go and see some people about doing something for money. I'm unclear as to whether I'm the right person for the job yet, or in fact whether I can squeeze the job in to the mornings. Also unclear, terribly so on what to wear. Sadly all decent clothes are/were a size 12/14 from days when I was thinner and richer and did Working for a Living alongside frequent Shopping at Bluewater trips. Interview choices are limited to slightly mumsy linen skirt, beige sort of colour but good shape - those who know me will know the one as I wear it about every other day, and charcoal slightly pin striped skirt. The right shoes, i.e. ones which I can walk in go best with linen, but then again maybe heels...Oh God, maybe I should go back to bare feet in the kitchen.

Wish me luck...

It's the Wrong Time Again...

I was reading yesterday that until 1840, at least the UK had its own different times. Exeter was twenty minutes behind London and so on, and if you needed to catch a train you needed to know many times. This is how I feel at this time of year, and of course spring. I just don't know where I am.

Yesterday when I got up, Mat had changed all the clocks to New Time, but we had breakfast later/early and had a really really long day. Then we stayed up to New Time of ten o'clock, which made me feel really tired (blame Friday night for that though) and woke up some Silly Hour this morning with one child in bed and one wandering around our room. Managed to get Wanderer to Go Away as told him I simply can't sleep with someone looking at me and not sitting down. Other one, unfortunately had a bell in her teddy that she kept fidgeting with.

And now we're all up, it's officially a Holiday in tattyhouse (half term), awake, worrying about what pants to wear, and arguing. Happy Holidays.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

A drunken confession and a mistake...

Had a lovely girls night out last night, slightly changed by the arrival of two men 'husbands' if you like but do think we kept our men are bad rants at a limit due to their company. Very funny men, one does a drawing club, and other used to work for a famous magazine I've loved since university days for its top tips. Trouble is, then I just had to tell anyone about my secret top tip writing pastime and my delight when an odd twenty quid drops through my door for another one of my masterpieces of advice. (Why let rain trouble your washday, simply hang your wet clothes over your banisters and hey ho, an indoor line!) etc. etc.

Then I got ultra confused about who is a feminist, and who lives in Hastings, and who was accused of wearing fuck me shoes by Germaine Greer. I was insisting it was Kathryn Flett, even though others who had seen her/know her etc were sure it seemed unlikely. Woke up after a troubled night sleep with a disturbing dream in which Mat bought me a mouse as a present, without a cage, which weed everywhere until I fashioned a shoe box home and remembered it was not her. It was Suzanne Moore, who is of course, quite different. Ooops. Sorry ladies.

Must go out more often, although possibly not do talking as much. Also managed to tell pub landlord (again) how proud I was of myself for not mentioning that he was the Science Man from a show in Butlins spitting image, whilst telling him.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Actually it is not so bad...

...and I really am going to stop bloggin for a bit. Amazingly the house was tidier, more craft projects were undertaken whilst not blogging. And more importantly I got out more - even in the cold.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

There is a wolf at the door...

Weirdest weekend, I've had a front (ish) tooth out, got a bad cold, got a terrible period and have lost all confidence to smile. Plus, weirdly, or maybe not, given that list I've been sleeping really badly and keep getting a bit of a temperature during the night.

The loss of confidence, in being well, attractive has been the worst, possibly I've never felt this bad about myself again, and don't want to go out ever again. To be honest I'm fine if I don't smile - but if I do then there is a gaping hole - kinda like an Amy W but one tooth back. And usually I smile quite a lot, and laugh but that is all over now.

Then I've been worrying about fixing my tooth - basically I can't have a bridge as it'll ruin two other teeth and give me false teeth in ten years or so (reading between the lines this is so...). I could have an implant but they are between two and four grand. And guess what, that is where this frugal living stuff is not funny, not funny at all. Bank loans put to one side, and that is probably where they will stay, unless that is I sell my soul up the river, never see my children and get a Proper Long Houred Job. Of course there is Saving. But this would mean teeth before wonky chimney that could crash through living room and ruin my floors/us.

Then last night, to cap it all off, I had this dream. I was running through my old junior school, next to my parents house when a wolf appeared and started chasing me. I thought I'd cleverly got away by running in to their house when, oh no, the wolf followed me. Luckily there were those horizontal steel bars that stop motorbikes and horses going down footpath's inside the hall, so the wolf was slowed down. Then I had a big flap, pretty much like how I was when the Giant Raven was sidling up to Ollie to eat him/attack him at the Tower of London and simply did not know what to do*. My dad saved me by chasing the wolf out the door.

What does that mean? Very Joseph and the amazing though.

*Lovely Claire saved Ollie by doing, and thinking of the right thing and shooing the Raven away. Thanks Claire.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

And to end with a quote; ' Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.'

Some of you dear readers will have noticed I've been posting less often. Which is weird in a way, as with two children at school now for at least two hour a day you'd think I had more time, or more to say. Well life really is moving very fast at the moment, every time I think, lovely I'll stop and smell the coffee and chill along comes another thing. Not all bad of course, we've had our lovely fish festivals, and birthdays, and sea side days. But it means I've done my stopping and thinking for now.

And even more importantly, maybe that was what this blog was; a chance to catch up with myself at the end of two very busy years. And a chance to reflect on the changes in my life; from children, to moving from London, from having money to not having hardly any at all. And on not working. These changes are all utterly bedded in now, and I feel right at home in my tatty house in my tatty seaside town. I've got some lovely friends, my children are lovely - well sometimes, and maybe, just maybe I'm happy and settled.

So a massive thank you to all my readers, fellow bloggers and friends. It's been great. Really great.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

My town via Channel Hastings

Splash from Terry Russell on Vimeo.

Cheers for letting me pinch your idea/blog post Sandra! Fab film...fab, fab fab.

Me time

The definition seems to be grooming one's self, if you read the glossy magazines that is. And God knows my hair, nails, and pedicure could do with some attention. My hair seems to live like a giant bush of frizz since living by the sea -apparantly some kind of sea salt affliction.

However short of me time I am, and I do seem to be desperately short it is the sitting and thinking time I want. I am desperate to spend a morning sitting in the cafe, with a paper (Wednesday Guardian today - my fave), writing a few notes and just being.

So you know what - that is exactly what I intend to do this morning. Sod the washing, sod the spiders lurking in corners of the house, and sod the bleeding cooking.

See you there.

Sunday, 20 September 2009


Ol is wanting a Gameboy (advance something or other). Probably my fault as I said he could get one for a fiver if he saved up, and I think he is too young for a DS. Course I made up the fiver bit - sort of like when we tried to buy a five bedroom house in Hastings for under a hundred grand 'cos I thought I'd seen it in the paper - I may have but it was not in the 'nicer bits'.

So anyway the Gameboy is reasonably priced for a secondhand gadget, and for a gadget - after looking at many of them, it isn't solely a boys toy. Many are pink, although the market has dictated these are cheaper, and come with lots of cool more girlie games. It has made me reminisce about the days when they came out, when apparently all the supermodels were addicted to them and spent hours between shoots playing.

Then I remembered when the personal stereo came about; rather like the iphone there was only one brand to have; the Sony. I loved mine and spent hours doing my morning paper round dancing to 'So Macho' by Sinitta at six in the morning. Of course the glamorous image of them was not of strange boy looking thirteen year olds skipping up and down the village streets but of cool Americans on Greyhounds chewing gum and listening to a bit of rock music.

Strange though isn't it how gadgets can become so cool, so must have and the toy of a generation? I don't know anyone who did not have a Spectrum ZX or BBC computer whilst growing up in the eighties, and probably my kids won't know anyone without a net book, or an iphone (us!). Father Christmas sadly can't afford the contract for one, or really justify it, but I'm still working on how it might just be essential. Course I'm sadly jumping on the band wagon about two years too late - and according to some friends; just when a new unbranded version is about to come out that is better and cooler.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

It's the Fish (and Wine) Festival Day

Hastings has been readying itself for one of the busiest days in its calender of fun - the Fish and Wine Festival. There is music, wine to taste (and buy), loads of fish - and a decent amount of vegetarian food to sample, children's fun and a beer tent of course. That is alongside our usual fun fair, which is always good, and really does have its own charm. The ghost train, for those who have not ridden it yet, is actually packed with hand made scariness, which in reality makes it far scarier than a Disney type ride.

The local children have been making sculptures and hats and shakers and many of the neighbouring schools have been invited to open the festival by; 'Dancing with Dabs'. The dances look fantastic, as demonstrated by my friend H and Ol - there s a box dance, a four steps forward and clap dance, and a jump and leap dance. Typically though Ol is absolutely refusing to take part. Even though he has made a fetching seagull hat to wear (as have all the infants for some reason - ?to wind up the hate the seagull gang).

So we'll miss the dancing seagull heads this year, but do intend on having a few glasses of wine later (extreme tiredness from 6 hill walks all week yesterday sent me to bed early last night) and to try and get the whole gang doing the dances. Happy Birthday David.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

CND, the credit crunch, Keynesian economics and the payback, plus a retro poster

I was delighted to hear one of the proposed cuts i public spending the government may make is on the Trident programme. Essentially it is extremely expensive, out of date and I suspect simply unaffordable for the UK at present - unless we make drastic cuts in welfare, education etc instead.

I've written to our local MP suggesting he supports cutting spending on Trident, instead of public services and would suggest to everyone if you feel the same now is a fantastic time to make your position clear to your politicians.

Oh, and because I can't resist a little retro shop I may just have to buy the poster above from here -

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

When Facebook is Funny...

It is really really funny. A number of years ago, when I first moved to London a friend of a friend (think they were all working at Imperial College's library) invited me to join a Women's Book Club. This was, I think about 12 years ago, and we religiously met, every month for nigh on five years. We only stopped meeting up when nearly all of us moved further out of the city, I had children, Lisa - the original, moved back to America.

Every month we'd take turns hosting the 'event'. We'd each chip in for some wine and pizza, usually just over a fiver (which was never ever enough so some kind boyfriend would have to run to the all night shop). We lived all over London - Hackney, Stoke Newington, North London, West London, South London and we always met after work. Often on a Thursday but always early ish - at about seven so we did not have to go home first and had more time to drink.

The members varied; with a core of four or five; we got married - went to each others wedding parties, became lesbians, became straight and changed partners. We didn't socialise much between groups - other than a few of us who were already paired up in friendships but we loved BAPS (Beer and Wine and Pizza).

There was the Girl who (inevitably) drank too much cheap white wine and was rude. She was Against Gap, and Next. The time we all went to Beckenham (never again, so so far). The fact that Lisa was an American, and thus started the Second World War (personally I never quite understood this one), the Girl (who later turned lesbian) whose Boyfriend wore her knickers to play football, cycling in the air, falling in bushes, missing the tube and late night cabs, and finally for Lisa Exposure on the Tube.

School bookclub, re-starting on Thursday has a lot to live up to. Last month I'm not even sure we got on to how we all met our first partners, let alone, who else might wear our pants.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Actually it may all be connected to Monday...

My last child starts school on Monday, and yes, I think we have probably, almost certainly decided to stop at two. I am, of course, pleased for her, and excited about all the fun she'll have and what she'll learn and so on. But...and it is a big but, you do lose a little bit of them when they go off on their own in to the world. Other adults, particularly their teachers become very important - and I think, at least for Ol are seen as brighter and more intelligent than his parents.

And we don't get to hang out so much. Of course I feel dreadfully torn about this, on one hand, I've done OK - hopefully set her up to enjoy and get the most out of her school days as a reasonably sociable well rounded child. And of course there have been times in the last four or five years when I would have happily given them to any old school just to have a few moments by myself. And now it is really happening, even to a lovely school I feel bad. I'll miss her and what will I do?

I'll have two hours - ish off every morning until Christmas - not sure I'm capable of doing much anymore to be honest. It's been four - nearly five years since I've worked for actual, like money. I've done lots of bits and pieces, work on Nursery Committees, voluntary work, swapping childcare, even a short bit of mystery shopping. I've made things - lots of things, when the moment strikes but none of this has been as tough my old job used to be. And I think that is the crux of it; working out the head space to do everything properly, without too much stress and without worrying about it. It almost seems impossible to achieve the possible.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

It's all about the boobies this week..

Last night I caught a glimpse of myself in my pyjamas, without a bra. The inevitable has occurred. Sagging boobies - almost half way down my chest. Not even sure, in fact fairly convinced that the old faithful exercise called; 'I must, I must improve my bust' whilst jutting elbows backwards at shoulder height will work. We used to work on that a lot at primary school, and as far as I know no one who did the exercise ever got gigantic boobs (possibly need an operation for that), but we did truly believe it would work.

And now here I am - in my later 30's with sagging. Also worried about my ageing neck, and wishing I could suspend my disbelief in wonder creams. Perhaps rather like Father Christmas f I believed in them they would work. Except how could they possibly cut excess skin off, lift, and um reduce big thick lines? Or could they?

Suspecting the only answer to ageing is of the knife variety - can't imagine I could ever achieve that though, even if I agreed with it. Am such a wuss that even in labour whilst knowing the doctor had to do (look away know squeamish people and men) an episiotomy to actually get my daughter out I made him promise to tell me when he was doing it, and told him not to. Fortunately my birthing plan, and common sense prevailed - and he just did not tell me (I could not feel it anyway - the giant baby had squashed all sensation out of my body).

So - ageing. I've even left my hair without dyeing the roots for a week or so now. I'm almost intrigued to see what I look like with some grey as I never do it. Silver fox? Or prematurely ageing woman with stripy grey hair, sagging boobs and lined neck?

What to do?

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

A flutter of followers...

Just a quick one - am loving having followers. Hello new and old ones! It's lovely to have you here.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Time management and the use thereof...

I wish I was better at time management; this week I feel I've hardly had a chance to have a sit down, let alone read, write, make telephone calls (must arrange a girls weekend soon with Julesey Baby now we're illness free), dentist appointments, doctors, birthdays (two important ones coming up - one 6 and one 60), let alone anything else.

Instead, when I get a bit stressed or rushed I start by saying the inappropriate. Accidentally told Jem's new teacher today that her boobs were large. It was in context though, honest, she'd told me she'd toppled on top of them. And I was saying at least she was protected.

Earlier whilst bemoaning lack of time I realised I have a hair dressers appointment this afternoon and I've committed the cardinal grey haired sin of not dying my hair yet. Nothing worse than being faced with an elderly looking self in a bright salon surrounded by slim enthusiastic young things. Oh, and with a head like a badger myself. A pale white badger with a big moon face.

So of course whilst chatting to some friends, and the deputy head of the school this morning I mentioned this problem. And how the hairdresser will think I am a hair slut. In front of the bloody children too!

I could go on about how lack of time leads me to stupid things...but I am seriously out of time.

Monday, 31 August 2009

I prefer the sand...

Just a quick post, back from a lovely afternoon at Camber Sands. Gorgeous beach, lots of foreign accents (always exciting outside London), some crisps and happy children.

Now quite tired out and enjoying a marathon of Eastenders watching - after being too busy this summer to catch up properly. Of course the right thing to do would be to accept it and wean ourselves off, or even more practical just watch today's episode. But, no, because I really do want to know what whatsername the Asian family will do about the late unplanned pregnancy. And they are strong Muslims. What next? Give it to her son? Give it up? To get fat or not??

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Of course there is reality too...

And in reality, what with school holidays, the swine flu week at home, and being relatively broke I'm just spending too much time at home. Which is leading to tomato obsessions and ivy interest. Actually the answer is to get out and about a bit more, and to actually speak to people.

So on that note I'm off to the supermarket - after a dull morning at playgroup (not enough friends to play with) watching the children put boxes over themselves and lie in the mud. Even they got bored of it in the end and sought out the glue to make things - sadly there was disappointment when they realised the clever idea of gluing real wooden bricks together meant they could not take them home. And some poor soul will have to wash them to re-use them.

Kind of looking forward to a routine now -in all honesty am just not earth mother enough to be satisfied with watching delightful kids on beach/in park/in garden/playing ALL the time.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

A short sharp obsession

I'll start with a long one, like many wannabe and real gardeners am truly obsessed with bind weed. I could merrily spend hours pulling it down, and one of my most favourite things is a giant bundle ripping off in one go. I'm not sure the bind weed battle is one I can ever win, but the satisfaction won't end...

However I've been increasingly aware of a new garden menace; our ivy, which actually seems a bit poisonous. Not as bad as 'poison ivy' in the American teen books of my youth which must have been a special USA only irritant I think, but still not nice on your skin. So I've been slowly pulling bits down, trying to avoid the crazy haunted house look really, but also not liking the stuff. I've now noticed nearly every bit has gone both up the wall and fence, and down and along the ground - underneath other stuff. And the bits on the fence have sort of feathery sucker bits that stick themselves to the fence.

It's pretty indestructible, and it is determined to live and bear its bloody fruit. And I am thinking of it too much, and seeing it. Soon I'll be axing it.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Sentimental Stuff is so Over...

I only lasted a day of being sentimental...back to normal slightly grouchy self today. Mostly I'm a bit cross with a certain language school, the laptop which is stupid - too slow and has pop up issues since its own plague thingy, my feet which are horrible despite the giant file I bought for too much money, my hair which is like a birds nest because I just can't resist washing it when I have a shower.

Oh and I am still liking my family, although bit bored of talking to them after a week in quarantine, Actually, scratch that, I'm not bored of talking, I'm fed up of people talking to me endlessly about things very important to them but not me. Feel too guilty to list things I am not so interested in but lets just say they include a lot of things this week. Starting with everything in the poxy Argos catalogue.

Roll on Quarantine Free Saturday! and maybe even the beach, or Sainsbury's or something else Free and Fun. Like Walking About As Usual Up and Down the Hill.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Sometimes it makes me just have a quiet cry inside...

When my son gives his sister a special sticker for being so brave at being sick...

When I catch my husband sitting down next to my mum for a chat...

When the cat comes for a stroke and a cuddle even when she has food and water...

When I see an old man leaning on his wife as they walk down the road...

When my five year old is proud to take the recycling out on his own and does not expect anything for it...

When I buy a gorgeous crocheted blanket and it only costs a pound because the ladies who made them just want to make as many as possible and as much as possible for their charity...

When a happy, bouncy dog walks with his own frisbee in his mouth...

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Tamiflu - the absolute truth of the beast...

It makes you sick, sad, happy and maybe obsessed about tinned tomato's.

Five year old Ol was sick immediately after both his two doses, first time was extremely bad - made worse because he'd had several attempts to swallow the capsule first. Apparently The Man, in his wisdom has not got enough Tamiflu, so is saving all the liquid form for babies. Five year olds and under must learn immediately to swallow.

Then three year old J had a turn, sick first go, second go really really alarming. She was in bed at about nine in the evening, we heard a laugh and popped in to her room to find her giggling uncontrollably. She seemed to know we were there fairly soon and then started making jokes at us (e.g. Daddy you are big and pointing in a threatening comedy value). Tempted to run but worried her head might spin around, or worse she was hallucinating.

Edit:Just grilled J about her laughing, she says she saw my feet and was laughing at me. I told her I wasn't there - she said I was. Poor thing is having visions of me and my feet in the middle of the night.

And so to me...the other night Lovely M made a vegetarian shepherds pie for dinner (bear with me) but he added tinned tomato's, which to be fair are in the recipe but we decided some years ago against them in the dish. And they were just there - sort of slimy looking, and red. In fact the whole thing was a little red for me. I almost couldn't eat it but managed as is lovely after all to have dinner made for you - and seems a bit churlish to reject tomato's when I'd just eaten them the day before.

And to come to today - I made a normally lovely three bean chilli (from a low GI cookbook) and at the last minute of additions added some bloody tinned tomato's. I even carefully checked they were not the Bad Value Ones, but real - ish. The chilli was nice, but I was alarmed to see the tomato's just lurking there adding nothing. And now I can't get them out of my head.

I've been worrying about tinned tomato's for the whole day, you know that way when something obsessional pops in to your head every few minutes. And it just won't leave tomato's, tomato's, tomato's.

I'm expecting to wake up in the night screaming about them. Either that or painting some.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Hastings Swine Flu Watch - It's Here

We've got a French student staying with us at the moment, who's had a sore throat and cold (we think/thought). He's been playing lots of Playstation with lovely Ollie, who woke up in the night hot, and with a sore throat.

Lovely Ollie now has a temperature, has been sick lots of times, feels really ill and hasn't eaten all day (not even strawberry jam on toast). I went to the official website and it diagnosed swine flu. Of course the symptoms are very similar to normal flu, perhaps with sickness/stomach upsets added on. He's had the Tamiflu - bit of a nightmare actually, as apparently there is not much in liquid form so it is being saved for babies. Ollie tried to have his first capsules but pretty much manfully choked on them and then sicked them up. The capsules can be broken and mixed with liquid so that is the plan for the tea time dose.

M's been feeling a bit ill with a sore throat, and is apparently too ill to talk properly but says he does not need Tamiflu. Suspect whisky would save him but have no intention of getting carried away with medicinal booze again. Last time, think in the winter we just loved the rum remedy too much for two days!

Any/every tips all welcome - cool magazines have been bought, nice water offered and telly on at the moment. Saving Bolt for well moments.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

They are not all bad...

For a number of years I've been suspicious of how much fun barbeque's can be, compared to how much work you have to put in. I know this is largely because as a vegetarian, especially a very proper one for years I had extreme anxiety every time a barbie was suggested as I knew someone would be bound to use the same cooking fork for vegetables as the meat, or worse cook them next to each other with a potential juice/blood contamination issue.

The worst barbecue we hosted I think, was when we lived in Hackney. Lovely M and his friend decided to go to the shops to buy the food. I asked them to remember to get something for me. They came back with heaps of meat, cheap white rolls and ketchup. Not even a little bit of salad, let alone peppers, corn or aubergine or even worse the hideous vegetarian sausages that were around ten years or so ago. This obviously led to a domestic incident, and some sulking.

So yesterday we had a plan to have a proper barbie on the beach. We got quite excited about the idea, and nipped down to the fish market to buy locally caught something and prawns (which I eat these days for inexplicable reasons). After walking along the beach for a bit, we figured out that it was bound to be too windy to actually manage with a little disposable one and to go home and get the old cast iron faithful out (not in use for years and years but enthusiastically cleaned this year).

We made a lovely salad with seeds and leaves, got some french bread, put lemon and garlic in parcels with the fish and prawns - uncooked at that stage, and made some jacket potato's to be finished up on the barbecue. Oh, and of course we has a little white wine, both in the fish I think, and some to drink. Absolutely lovely, and as prawns and fish in little packets really easy to cook.

I'm a convert. We spent the evening sitting by the barbecue, then when it died down a bit, we put some wood on it as a outside fire. The children loved the food, and ate loads. Although Ol weirdly will only eat prawns like me rather than fish. He even invented a throw the cork as far as you can game that we were all a bit too keen on. Then children in bed, we drank more white wine and talked and talked.

Our barbecue is the same as the one above, but have to admit due to wine fuzziness can't actually leave living room to take photos of our version. Let's call it armchair blogging.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Top Tip of the Summer - Cut off your Jeans!

I've been busy fashioning shorts out of trousers that are too short for the children for the last few summers. As soon as the fraying sets in they look great.

However today, I took my frugal make and do; 'how cool' attitude too far on my own jeans. They were wearing out on the seams (oh alright - because of my FAT thighs) so I chopped them off. Then was secretly pleased with how lovely they were, how exciting it was to be on trend in denim shorts, how amaxingly they looked OK on etc. etc. until I sat down. On a bloody kitcen chair! Then I remembered the true horror of shorts; it is all about the sit down test. Even as a young 16 year old and a size 10 my thighs were quelle horror to behold in shorts. And now as a grown up doubled in age, several dress sizes larger and with...hate to admit it but actual cellulite it was bad. Bad, Bad Bad.

Remind me of this dear readers, next summer when I start ranting on about needing shorts. And it means I must of course never ever sit down in my lovely new surprisingly flattering tankini which features little shorts. Never. Not even playing at edge of water. Must stand at all times - or strategically lie, but not on side as also Bad.

Is it just me? And my thighs? Or not....

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Twenty Thousand Posts under and above the radar...

I'm very proud of my blog today, it has achieved twenty thousand plus views. Of course a large portion of those just clicked and shut - particularly people looking up actual information about The Killers, or Chris de Burgh, or even slugs. (I know all this because of the very clever gadget on the bottom left of the blog).

But I've enjoyed blogging, developing my writing skills, getting to know new people, new sites and things, and mostly just a little down time in to my own head. So it is great to reach a high level of views, all I need now is an actual prize, or to get paid. Perhaps a little silver well done me medal, or...if I have to buy my own prize I have to admit I've been thinking about a new winter coat. And that will of course involve a trip to Bluewater, and some coffee and cake.

Anyway - thanks to all of you who have left comments good or bad, no not bad, just supportive or helpfully critical. More More More!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

It's the holidays...

And I'm too tired out to blog much this holiday...normal service resumes when weather turns bad again...

Sunday, 2 August 2009

I might be ill...or mad...or both

I've got two really worrying things wrong with me, first noticed last week and is only a bit painful. The location where I used to have a vein going from my hand to my arm (sorry this may make you a bit squeamish) seems to have an indent. And it hurts a bit. Of course I rang my long suffering GP (nice but straight talking) who said he thought it wasn't worth getting exited about. But what if my vein has collapsed/disappeared? Course there must be others as I can still use my hand/it has not turned black etc but what a worry. And I think it is where doctors at the evil local hospital (in East London not here) spent hours, and I mean hours ramming things in my hand whilst I wilted away in need of antibiotics.

Then the second thing, well it is a few really. Firstly I keep getting a sweaty face. Which means my make up runs, and it is a bit embarassing as really it is over nothing. Like I might be walking on the flat ground. Or just standing still in a slightly warm room. Then I get really really tired. I've been like this for ages, so just assumed it is a mid thirties need for sleep or something. Some days I have to have a nap either after lunch or after tea. And others I'm just tired. I do have two small children, big hill etc etc. so could all be quite natural.

Then my final worrying thing; I keep getting all shaky, like from low blood sugar suddenly and having to eat. I've always been like this occasionally but seems to be coming on every day, and then I have to buy emergency snacks which are always rubbish and expensive and I'll put on even more weight etc etc. Of course now I'm saying this I could keep a healthy snack in my bag for these times and I will do..but spooky eh?

Looked all this up on the 'scare myself' google and found symptoms of diabetes Type 2 which commonly comes on between 35 and 45. Not worried about having it per se, well a little about never drinking again (or is there a low GI booze?) and loads and loads about having to squeeze drops of blood out of my hand.

Feel quite faint again. And I haven't even got to the bit where your toes fall off (why why why).

Friday, 31 July 2009

One little thing....

I'm in need of some beautiful things, people, buildings, surroundings, life.

Apart from that, and the money grabbing element we had a great holiday.

Oh, and the fact that at Butlins parents are just supportive from the sidelines and don't join in.

Basically there was some difference.

I did like Reggie, the ex-Arsenal footballer who did the coaching with children. He had a special parent award and gave it to a large black lady who had got stuck in the assault course tunnel, and carried on.

Wasn't so keen on the smell - either in the main stage/bar (remember old smelly beer sodden carpets from Uni days anyone?) - or the shopping mall centre.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

I just haven't had anything to say...

But now I do!

We're all going on a summer holiday, won't be back for a week or two. Won't be taking any bloody Cliff Richards CD's for the car either.

But we will be taking compliation CD's and my favourite one of all time, at the moment anyway - called 'Hallelujah' with gems such as Cat Stevens singing 'Morning has broken', and Katherine Jenkins, and various Welsh men. Not so lovely M tries to hide it all the time - found in inside a road atlas the other day. Course we had listened to it all the way to Mid Wales and back. Very soothing for the soul.

And no one was sick which is good, plus no rude/swear words to la la la over. OPM is now sadly only for the rare occesions the car is free of children. I don't think there is any song that is appropriate and even the bit about Jesus packing his bong, which I think would go over their heads worres me because their knowledge of religion is sketchy at best and I don't want them to share this at school (v. Christian head).

And as for the destination, well it is Butlins of course, where all self respecting (broke) middle class families are going this year. Slight concerns about too much activity, lager louts (dads I guess), and um, crowds of people, which can freak me out a bit.

Still, I am so up for disco dancing with the children, swimming, a sandy beach, an apartment which does not need cleaning (well if we manage not to get it dirty that is), no washing, no hills, not much cooking. I've already bought some pasta/sauce and veggie baked beans and sausages. And lots of cereal (yes carb free diet going a bit wrong).

So see you all in a week or so...Let's hope for sun and rain for the garden in the evenings...

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Swine Flu Watch Day Seven in Hastings

One of our friends has now got it. He lives half way up the hill, so my theory still stands that it is working its' way up to us.

Bit worrying though, I know all 'healthy' people are supposed to be OK but that thesis has already been dis proven, plus actually I care a lot about some people who have 'other health issues, and very serious ones at that. And, although we have no babies in the house, we do have two under six's, plus two parents who, on occasion, OK well at seven at night are known to have a fag.

Take care everyone - make sure you clean those hard surfaces (actually how often are you supposed to do it....and would it really make a difference in a family home?)

Monday, 20 July 2009

Swine Flu-ometer Day 3 of Watch

It's nearly reached us, the other local nursery now has one case of swine flu, and Lovely M's school has cases in three classes.

I'm avoiding the tube, being pregnant and having small babies just in case. Fortunately I have no desire to do any of those three things so am fairly risk resistant at present. Of course I suspect watching concerts in packed sweaty arena's inside our cheery holiday resort containing lots of Londoners (the current disease carriers) will be a substantial risk. However, we simply must see some X factor stars, and hopefully do some dancing.

In other news - I have some new shoes, well fit flops to be precise. I love them because they are all silvery, and make me think I could actually, possibly have some ankle jewelery without it looking like a prison chain as they are chunky enough to flatter my ankles a bit. They are supposed to give you a work out without the gym, and take themselves so seriously that you are advised to wear them for short periods at a time.

However despite wearing them around the house for a few days, down the town today, and home again I can't feel the burn. Not sure what this means, either they are not sculpting my bottom as I walk, or I'm just walking too slow (blame the children for that bit).

Love them though - hope no one with swine flu ever gets sick on them though. Imagine someone, or even yourself being sick on bare, or flip flop clad feet. Think of your toes.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Swine Flu-ometer for Hastings - Day 2 of the Watch

It's got to All Saints Junior School now on Githa Road. Sneaking up my giant hill. And I'm very glad school shuts on Friday, but even then we can't lock ourselves in the house completely. Actually we're off to a wedding at home in the Shires for the weekend, so will presumably be there too.

Getting quite bored with it, but also slightly obsessional. Must buy some hand gel later, after taking four year old Jem to the pub that is...for her thirty third birthday treat.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Swine Flu - ometer for Hastings

Last week it hit some parents at West St Leonards School, probably St Leonards residents.

Today it has hit a young child at Sacred Heart Primary, just down the road from us. Parents might be from St Leonards, or further afield as it is a Catholic rather than just neighbourhood school. But as a local school, siblings are also at J's nursery, and many families live in our area.

It's coming.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Forget the poor scared one, worry about me...

Jesus, the bloody man is freaking me out big time. Well, I say man, sixteen year old really. Firstly he has a loud shouty conversation in to his computer on the stairs at half eight, and when I say loud, I mean so loud I was worried about the neighbours coming around.

So I shuffled him off to the kitchen where he still disturbed my Holby City watching, and I tried to ignore it...but could not. Then he got on his mobile, and again had a really loud shouty chat. We got to ten p.m. with me trying my best to ignore his noises and wishing lovely M was here so I could ask him to, well, I don't know, back me up in saying you are very noisy please go to bed, please.

Then the doorbell rang, and a weird older man sort of shouted the students name. I managed to indicate through waving that I'd get him and shut the door 'cos he scared me. Then after a brief chat Mr Noisy went back to his Office/cum My Kitchen to shout. I then went in to tell him I was not happy to have Strange Men calling from him at ten at night. He said there was no problem.

So I tried to explain the situation by saying at home in Libya, would it be ok for someone to call at ten at night? He said yes, and it would even be ok at four in the morning. I said; 'What your mum would be happy to answer the door to a stranger at four in the morning?' He said that his mother would never have to answer the door. As she had men to do it for her.

So that is bloody OK then is it?

Monday, 13 July 2009

And as for the poor scared one...

I agreed to having a new student for a week starting this Saturday. The poor man turned up just before our friends with a five year old and a dog arrived. He admitted he was against dogs, but was happy it would not enter his room or go upstairs.

Then he ran out, well left for the afternoon. Only for the doorbell to ring at about eight at night and a fifty something man to be asking for him. I explained he wasn't in and then the man wanted to ring him, but said he did not have his number. I started to get really freaked out and imagining all sorts when this man finally said he knew the students parents from their home country. I was still a bit weirded out, so shut the door while I got our phone number to be passed to the parents.

Then when our student came back, he at least said the man was legitimate. But still, I felt quite uncomfortable. Basically I think I go on auto suspicious pilot whenever anyone I don't know knocks on our door (life skill learnt in period in inner city I'm afraid - though I have to say that worst door knocking was by strange police).

So on to Sunday morning, poor lovely young student got thirsty in the night and came down for a drink of water. Great little floppy eared Daisy was delighted he'd come to see her, and thought he wanted to play chase. So she chased him up the stairs to his bedroom, where he just about managed to shut the door before she ran in. (n.b. I had showed him how to operate the stair gate but I think the horror of dog chase made him forget).

Then we partied, well with tea and cakes and small children - and our student ventured in to the living room to check his e-mail. He was then assaulted by a small child with his face painted bright red (sort of post Spiderman) and very blonde hair. Small child grassed up by other small child with butterfly face so at least we were able to apologise.

Later in the evening, whilst still checking his e-mail (actually about three hours later), he was horrified to learn we had had some wine earlier, we keep in in the house, we pop out for cigarettes, and we lounge about laughing at/with Top Gear. Felt so bad could not have another glass of wine until I sneaked in kitchen to drink it.

And on top of all that, I think some students/local youngsters were rampaging through these quiet streets last night, laughing and being drunk. I got woke up at least every hour by random noises, and then later by children playing 10 in the bed or equivalent.

Feel a bit bad about our rubbish cultural sensitivity, but equally am sure it would not be valid trip to UK if 'real' slightly messy people were not encountered. Sadly for lovely, scared student his previous host family were lovely, they bought him special halal meat (I suggested he try our veggie food), they did not have alcohol in the house and um, were nice people.

New week, new energy, and new happy household (bar the poor scared one)

It's Jem's birthday on Thursday, and the excitement has already started. She had her small (bestest friends forever) tea party yesterday which was lovely. There was a bit of boy against girl trouble, I guess the forerunner to boy and girl trouble. And a little tears, well a lot of tears about not winning from the birthday girl.

It's interesting actually as for years I've been against competitive games, still am really, especially where there is one 'winner'. This year we decided to make a 'pin the tail on the donkey', which was a 'pin the eyes on the butterfly'. We got really in to it, and an artist friend drew, sorry created a masterpiece butterfly in front of the telly on Saturday night. Then I realised there sort of had to be a winner. And in the game itself the winner was so obvious. So I did try to mitigate the sting of not winning by spending some time looking at everyone's mark's and saying how well they did to get it to the wing etc. But no good for Jem, she wept for ages. I have to say though, she did actually refuse to take part anyway, saying that she did not want to be spun around.

Now all eyes are on Thursday, more presents, and more fun, and another cake (I guess). Sunday's was in the shape of a butterfly, and was yummy. (Fresh British strawberries and butter icing).

Thursday, 9 July 2009

I must moan, I must moan, I must grumble

It's been a bloody tricky afternoon. Firstly lovely, or not so lovely Ol got a yellow card at school. Not so good, and means none of us can have Friday night sweeties now.

Then the bathroom door got stuck, with no one inside but WE COULD NOT GET IN. Nightmare which I knew could only be solved via screwdrivers, which I have a bit of a phobia of it seems.

Then, I got in a bit of a panic about how and what to make for tea. Bloody eight people, loads of courgettes and in I guess three sittings, as all students out late. Figured out what to make - (veggie sausages, courgettes, sweetcorn and rice) with chicken burgers for the meat eaters. Went to get the chicken out of the freezer and tugged so hard at the shelf door it broke off in two pieces. Now we'll have to just ram things in freestyle like in olden days ice compartments. So then I decided to chip some ice away in freezer to prevent similar issues with other doors.

I washed the ice off the trays in the sink, and realised my flip flops were sticking to the floor and all wet. Bravely opened the under sink cupboard and water gushed out. So the bloody sink is broken.

Then I took a moment, went up the garden and looked at lovely un frozen courgettes. Shock - horror one of the plants is covered in tiny black creatures, and ants. Possibly tinies are baby ants! Just don't know and don't want to see any more.

Then remembered bed broke two days ago, and is sloping a bit - it has a stupid middle leg that tips over with any movement, and causes the rest to be wobbly. Tried to call M to get him home at reasonable hour to save me....he is actually good at DIY and I was suspecting adult company might be also good. His phone rang from the coffee table.

And to top it all two youngest students now home and insanely annoying - did not believe sausages were tofu even when looking at label, then when I sneaked in to garden kept looking in all my cupboards. Finally grabbing bread to make a sandwich - and sought out the ketchup. If only they knew what happened to the last one who helped themselves in my kitchen.

And to cap it all I've just spent five minutes saying no you can not ring bloody Stuttgart even for just a 'moment' as it is extremely expensive.

Where's the wine? In the bloody shop, that is where.

I must not moan times twenty...

I must not moan.
I must not moan.
I must not moan.
I must not moan.

repeated twenty times...

and I know I should count my blessings and be grateful for what I've got etc. etc.

but really....

I want to moan for days about groups, committee's, making dinner. doing the washing, bored of changing sheets, having a name that is not Mummy, not trying to be nice all the time, having a clean house, not being able to lie in bed for days on end drinking beer or smoke fags, or swear all the time, or even show my bras without being 'alternative'.

But I won't. Because I am a nice girl in training. And the bitch is being suppressed for the next ten years or so.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

God, the man in the moon (mirror?) etc. etc...

Have had their own back. It rained so hard this morning, the bus did not appear, I gave M a lift to work and planned a quickie to the Giant Tesco. Rain had caused the road to close, and flood I guess and some poor wet people who had been camping by the fishing lake to look very bedraggled and dirty by the side of the road.

Then I got stuck in a Hastings traffic jam! First ever not on the sea front, which took an hour to get home in.

Bloody weather.

Oh, and I think a slug slooped over the rug in the living room last night.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

God, the man in the moon, Earth Lady or Michael Fish are getting it right...

Well, not sure which one of them is in charge but the weather's been perfect for the last month. So thanks to Big Weather Remote Controller, we've had warm sunny days and three night time storms to provide the tiny amount of water the plants desperately need. It's been about a month now of perfect weather world, and we could be even forgetting what typical English weather is like here in Hastings.

So cheers, Weather Person, loving it, and don't even mind waking up for the storms every week...not sure about using bath water on plants though as logistically bit of a nightmare with carpets.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Just a short note...

To say I'm now refreshed and revitalised after spending an evening with lovely friends. I've decided no one randomly doesn't like me I also will make myself like, or at least not moan about other people and I really do like my life.

Of course I did spend slightly too long explaining my working class roots to a friend, nothing more annoying than someone with quite a 'nice accent' banging on about that for ages I suspect. So must remember for next time - to shut up after a reasonable length of time to rant.

Children loved being up late, drinking children's Pimms, and roaming about. Goodness knows what they were doing most of the evening - changing clothes and running around in their pants I think, that and discovering a secret hiding place for treasure under my friends' floorboards (n.b. really must have been for secret cash stash in past or jewels).

So new lovely family Tattyhouse are chilling today, then doing a clever weekly meal plan (think the Pimms sucked some my brain cells out). And I guess collecting some food from the shops - currently pizza, pizza, pizza and maybe some vegetarian prawns is all I can think about.