Friday, 24 April 2015

The One With Paddington Bear

The boy is obsessed with Paddington. We went to the cinema to see the film and then on holiday recently he spent his pocket money on a toy Paddington bear. He’s even developed a taste for marmalade sandwiches.

As a kid I adored Paddington too. I loved the books and the cartoon series on TV. When I bought my first car, a clapped out old Mini, I called it Paddy because it was the same blue as Paddington’s duffle coat.

So as an Easter present we got the boy the Paddington movie on DVD. We had all enjoyed the film, and we figured that with the boy’s hyperactivity issues it would be a less dangerous gift than loads of chocolate Easter eggs.

Little did we know…

Last Sunday afternoon I was in the tip that doubles as my office, when the boy kept running in with mischief written all over his face and declaring,

“I’m not doing something.’

This. without fail, always means he is doing something and that ‘something’ is always something he shouldn’t be doing.

I went to look in the lounge but I couldn’t see any thing untoward going on. The boy kept laughing, looking sheepish and running in at regular intervals to reassure me that he wasn’t doing anything.

I went to have another look but he stopped me,

“Go back to the computer,’ he giggled

I was getting nervous now.

It’s at this point in the story I think I should tell you that hubby was up a ladder clearing out the guttering at the side of the house, so when I heard running water I assumed that it was coming from him.

But it wasn’t.

The sound was too close.

The boy was still holding me back and laughing.

I pushed past him, through the kitchen, to the downstairs loo. There I found a small, red, crab finger puppet, wrapped in a baby wipe and jammed into the plug hole to stop the water from both taps, which were on full, from escaping.

I had reached it just in time to stop the water from overflowing the small cloakroom sink, which was currently full to the brim.

Needless to say we had words and the seriousness of what nearly happened was explained him. I think it went in, but you can never be sure with the boy.

Then I asked him why he’d done it?

He looked up at me, with his big, brown, soulful eyes and said in all innocence,

‘I wanted to be like Paddington and flood the house.’

If you’ve not seen the film you’d better watch the trailer and then you’ll see what he means.

Next Easter I’m buying him chocolate. It might cause mood swings, but at least it’s cheaper than replacing everything in the house.

I could swing for that bloody bear.

Friday, 17 April 2015

The One With Middle Age and Michael Ball

Apparently 60 is the new 40 and because we are living longer, healthier lives we all have to redefine our ideas on what middle age is.

If you take that piece of wisdom from this weeks newspapers as gospel, then we'll all be living until we're 120. I don't know about you, but I don't want to still be here when I'm 120. I'd have had enough long before that. 

Last Friday I turned 45. I consider this proper middle age. I have no idea why. I haven't had anyone tell me I'm going to live until I'm 90. I just have 45 in my head as a pivotal number.

It could be that my 40th birthday passed by in a whirl of nappies and night feeds, as the boy was only 6 weeks old when I reached that particular milestone. So somehow 45 felt special and defining all in one.

The night before my 45th birthday I did the most middle aged thing I've ever done.

I went with my Mum to a Michael Ball concert - and I enjoyed it!

There's no reason I shouldn't I suppose. I like a bit of 'The Ball' and musical theatre. I wasn't just there to keep Mum (who is a massive Michael Ball fan and has seen him in concert on several occasions) company. I asked to go. I asked my Dad if he'd buy my ticket as a birthday present.

I feel like I'm at an AA meeting.

My name is Random Woman, I'm 45 and I like Michael Ball. 

There I've said it.

We had a cracking time me and me Mum. We sung and clapped along, swooned a bit and even had a cheeky glass of wine at half time. 

It did occur to me, while I was bopping along to 'One Step Out Of Time' (Michael's 1992, 2nd place Eurovision Entry), that in my younger days this was the venue where I'd seen 'The Damned', 'Everything But the Girl' and 'Suede'.  Mind you it's also where I'd seen 'Bucks Fizz' (twice), 'Five Star' and 'The Mavericks' so I wasn't all 'that' cool. Quite an eclectic mix you might say. 

No one can fault Michael's voice. His vocal strength and tone is beyond question, whatever your musical taste. That boy can sing. He is also, by all accounts, a lovely bloke with a wicked sense of humour.  Never the less, half way through the 'gig' I had this uncontrollable urge to laugh. Not at Michael, giving his all on the stage, but at the crowd. We were pretty much all 'ladies of a certain age', some older than others, with the odd man here and there, probably to keep their wives company. One chap was asleep. 

Anyway the combination of static from the nylon and menopausal hormones rising in the air was enough to start either a fire, a riot, or an orgy. In the end it started nothing more than my giggles. 

Mum asked what I was laughing about,

'Are you taking the mickey?' she enquired.

'No' I exclaimed, but I'm sure she didn't believe me.

So, as much as I enjoyed myself and would go again, I was relived to know that age hasn't dulled my irreverent piss taking nature. 

Age is however dragging me into the slow descent of comfy shoes, support tights and elasticated waists. The inevitable slide into wanting to come home early from a night out for a cup of tea, indeed not wanting to go out at all, carrying a cardi in case it turns chilly and asking for gardening gloves as a Christmas present.

When it was all over I phoned hubby to pick us up.

'Are you done already?' he asked 'That's early. It's only ten to ten.' 

'Yep, all finished.' I replied 'I don't think this audience want to stay out too late. They probably have to get them back to the home before curfew.' I giggled.

Mum threw me one of her looks, like a Paddington hard stare.

Secretly I was glad it wasn't a late night. I'd worn heels for the first time in ages so my feet were killing me and I was gaging for a cup of tea..... 

I'm right rock and roll me.....

Michael Ball rocking Eurovision 1992

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The One With The Rehearsal

Last night I went and watched the theatre group I belong to rehearse for their forthcoming production of Fawlty Towers.

I haven’t acted since autumn 2013 and although it’s not unusual for me to have a break from theatre for a while, this is probably the longest I’ve been gone. Hubby’s job take him away from home quite a bit now, so what with that, work and the boy starting school, making rehearsals felt nigh on impossible and I couldn’t see when or if I’d be going back for a long time.

Then last night happened.

Everyone was so pleased to see me and I read in one of the parts while sitting next to the director and watching the action. I love Fawlty Towers and I adore acting comedy so I really enjoyed it. It was lovely to see all my friends again and be back talking about scripts, lines, direction and timing.

Most of all I hadn’t realised how much I’d missed acting and need it in my life. It’s in my bones, my soul and my heart.

I’ve been horribly down recently. I’ve been back to the doctor and gone up from 10mg every other day to 20mg every day of my anti-depressants. I’ve felt lost and uninspired, especially since the New Year.

Last night was like a breath of fresh air. I felt like I’d come home.

I know what I’m missing now and I need to go back to it. I went through a stage of worrying when I was in a show that I hadn’t sold enough tickets and got enough people to come and see it. I realise now that’s not important. Yes we need bums on seats to carry the group on, but that isn’t my sole responsibility. If friends and family want to come then great, if they don’t, no worries. I do this for me, no one else.

I also went through a stage of being in some ropey old rubbish or taking on too much. Mainly because I was too scared to say no and let everyone down. Again it’s not my sole responsibility. I need to be in plays I enjoy. The part doesn't have to be huge, I don't need to be the star. I just need to act.  I’m no longer falling for ‘Well if you don’t do it I can’t see how else we can cast that part. We’ll just not do a play this time.’

That’s balls!

No one person is bigger than the group and plays can always be cast.

The theatre doesn’t need me that badly.

I, on the other hand, have realised that I need it. Very badly indeed.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

The One With the Made Up Meals

I’ve been making up a lot of meals in my head recently.

I can’t actually claim to have written any recipes but neither am I following any. It must be something to do with being more right brained than left and not wanting to follow instructions

If I do make something from a recipe book I can’t help ‘tinkering’ with it until eventually it’s beyond all recognition of the original. I rarely look at a cookbook anyway, unless it’s for the proportions for Yorkshire puddings; for some reason I always have to look that up, or buy Aunt Bessie’s, who is known in this house as the patron saint of the roast dinners.

I’ve been creating desserts with bags of frozen berries, making apple and leek stuffing to accompany roast pork and rustling up a sort of bubble and squeak with left over roast potatoes, ham, cranberry sauce and peas. Don’t knock until you try it. Although I’ve had several friends question the existence of a ‘left over roast potato’.

The boy had a run on brioche for breakfast recently. For some reason he called them brioche sausage rolls, (they were rolls but contained no sausage), and it was all he’d eat for weeks, then suddenly he announced there were ‘balls’ in them and he wouldn’t eat them anymore.

No, I don’t know what he means either. I can only assume it was a dry bit or a clump of dough or something, but once he’d found it that was the end of the love affair with brioche.

So when my friend Actor Laddie and his family came for Sunday lunch I had a whole 8 pack of brioche rolls that needed ‘using up’ as my Mum would say.

So I came up with 'White Chocolate and Raspberry Brioche Bread and Butter Pudding'. 

Split a pack of 8 brioche rolls lengthways so you have 16 pieces and butter them.
Arrange a layer of 8 pieces in a deep roasting dish.
Scatter over half a punnet of raspberries and half a 100g packet of white chocolate chips or a white chocolate bar broken into pieces.

Do it all over again with the other 8 pieces of brioche, the raspberries and white chocolate.

Make a custard with 3 beaten eggs, 600 ml (1 pint) of milk and 50g of light soft brown sugar whisked together until the sugar is dissolved and the eggs are incorporated. I added a dash of single cream as well because I had some to go with the pud once it was cooked.

Pour the custard over the brioche and let it soak in for about half an hour before baking at 180C (160C fan) Gas Mark 4 for 40 to 45 minutes.

I did it on 160C for 40 minutes because my oven is fierce and even after nearly a year in this house I’m still coming to terms with how it can burn something to a crisp in seconds. My cake baking prowess is nowhere near what it was because of that bloomin’ oven.

The pudding was declared a success and I would’ve posted a picture but we wolfed it all down before I thought about taking one.

After this makeshift masterpiece I’m going to have a go at something that doesn't sound like a proper recipe but actually is; brussel sprout risotto, which was sent to me by a fellow blogger and Twitter pal. 

There’s a glut of sprouts on the fields round here so they’re going for a song. Well they can be rather a ‘musical’ vegetable…

Sunday, 25 January 2015

The One With The Wine, The Trolley And The Knicker Elastic.

Poor old Grandad Atu hasn't been too well recently. He's had a nasty chest infection that he just couldn't shake and as a result he and Nanny P haven't been able to have the boy over for a sleep over since early December.

Not that I'm complaining you understand. The support and childcare help we get from my parents I consider to be very much a privilege and not a right. I just needed to set the scene as to why I was drinking at lunchtime.

And the reason I was drinking at lunchtime was that my Dad's chest and bouts of coughing were much better in the daytime so my parents had offered to have the boy last Saturday in the day to come over and play. Quite frankly they were missing him, and he was missing them, and the visit would perk my Dad up, but at this stage an overnighter was a step too far.

Lovely we thought, we can run some errands and, in the absence of a night out in recent weeks, we'd go for a sneaky pub lunch instead.

So the microwave that had gone ping, quite literally for the last time that week, needed to go to the dump as did the bottles for recycling. Then we drove to a nice pub out in the countryside and had a very agreeable lunch with a cheeky couple of glasses of red for me as hubby was driving.

Then we stopped at Sainsburys to do the grocery shopping on the way home.

This is where it all started to unravel.

I was a bit giggly and woozy with two glasses of Merlot and a big lunch inside me (prawn cocktail and scampi and chips for those interested in my 70's retro fest). As I was tipsily weaving my trolley around I realised that not only did the trousers I was wearing quite clearly needed a belt and were falling down but underneath them my knicker elastic had gone.

Picture the scene; me giggling like a loon, pushing a trolley with one hand and hitching up my trousers and pants with the other, whilst trying to hold a shopping list and select items to buy with... well no hands at all. 

I'd like to say I managed the situation with class, dignity and aplomb....but we all know that just wasn't the case don't we.

I hobbled around like old man Steptoe,with my hand permanently jammed down my pants, fudging about like they'd cost me a pound and 99p of them were up my arse. 

And where had I bought this garment from in the first place?

Sainsburys, that's where.

Bolstered by the effects of the wine, thank god I wasn't wearing a skirt or I'd have whipped my, quite frankly useless, 'apple gatherers' off and taken them over to customer services to make a complaint, 

'These don't stay up. Can I exchange them for a pair that I don't have to wedge up the frozen aisle to stop me exposing myself please?'

Don't let me drink at lunchtime and go shopping in sub standard knickers again or I could get arrested......

Monday, 15 December 2014

The One With The Tena Lady

Since having the boy I do have quite a few 'oooops' moments, despite having had physio on 'that area' - yes physio! I try to remember to do my pelvic floor exercises, but a sudden laugh, cough, sneeze or jumping out of my skin at a firework, car horn, someone who thinks it's funny to go 'boo' behind my back, (delete as applicable), causes a bit of... well there's no polite way to put this.... leakage.
So when Mumsnet needed some of us bloggers to review the new Tena Lady Lights range, I jumped at the chance. Although I daren't jump that high you understand.

I'm sad to say that I haven't felt 'safe' going out without a pad on for several years now, but I was just using sanitary pads, which can be bulky. 

Before I go on I want to stress I don't just wee myself with gay abandon. We're talking small little leaks here not full on tsunamis. So the Tena Lady Lights range seemed perfect for me.

Thin and discreet there are four types of Tena Lady Lights, all of which I was kindly sent to try - in abundance. 

There are Light Liners, which are shaped to the contours of a ladies body and are only 3mm thin, so they are really comfortable and you barely know they're there. These are good if you're wearing smaller pants, not your Bridget Jones specials, or if you've got tight jeans or trousers on and you could feel self conscience, as they won't show at all. 

Then there are Liners, both loose in a box for using at home and single wrapped for popping in your handbag. Strangely enough I found the loose ones more comfortable and the wrapped pads a bit bulky, but they should be exactly the same at 3.5mm thick. I do however like having the pads wrapped, as they're easier to dispose of when you've got the packet to wrap around the used towel to put in the bin, (no flushing down the loo please). 

The last type are my personal favourite, the Long Liners. These made me feel very secure as they were nice and thin but covered the whole of my gusset (I know sorry - I never thought I'd write the word gusset in a blog post but this is important stuff).

I've been trying all of these for about 10 days now and I have to say I'm impressed. They absorb moisture well with no odour and most importantly stay put. There's nothing worse than a pad that keeps shifting about. After all, this is about feeling comfortable and secure, especially in social situations, so staying where they are supposed to is very important to me.

At £1.99 a packet, for any of the four types, they are slightly more expensive than the supermarket own brand sanitary pads I have been using. However they're not so expensive that the cost outweighs the quality and comfort. 

If you'd like to find out more about the Tena Lady Lights range then visit their website, , where you'll also find some tips and an App you can download to help improve your pelvic floor muscles. 

I kid you not, there's an App to help you stop 'ooooping' yourself now!  

'I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity." 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

The One With the C Word

No I'm not going to be really rude and use 'that' word.

I'm talking about Christmas.

This is our first Christmas at school and blimey the admin involved. I must have had at least one letter back home in the book bag everyday since the beginning of December.

Firstly there's been the school production where the boy was a snowman. Yes I know I don't remember there being a snowman at the nativity either, but then I also don't remember there being an Elf, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer or Santa there, but apparently they all were. He did really well bless him and hubby and I did the proud, slightly teary, parent thing. 

After that there was the Christmas lunch to book in for, then next week it's the school theatre trip. There's a parent 'bake off' too, as well as the class Christmas party, which requires you to provide party food to share, then the 'wear your own clothes and bring a toy into school day' at the end of term. Yes they still do that.

I can't keep up with it all.

And of course it all costs money! A £1 for this, a couple of quid for that. It all goes to school funds and I don't begrudge it, but it all takes some remembering.

Today's activity, in a seemingly never ending stream of Christmas fun, was the school fair and Santa was coming. This caused much excitement from the boy, who has been talking about Christmas since May. I'm not entirely sure he's ever really got over Christmas finishing last year to be honest.

Bugger his birthday it's all about the big C for the boy.

You paid £2 and then your child would be accompanied by their teacher during the afternoon to see Santa before the fair began. A kind of first dibs system for reception pupils before siblings all turned up at 3.30. 

So all the way to school this morning he was firing Santa related questions at me. 

When is he coming? Will he have a present for me? What will it be? What will he say? Where will he be? What does he look like? What time is he coming again?

Oh my god the questions! I answered them all patiently and as best I could, whilst negotiating the school run, the icy rain and the kamikaze lollipop ladies who dive in front of you at any given moment. 

Tonight I picked him up as usual and asked if he'd had a good day?

'I saw Father Christmas.' came the excited reply.

'And what did he say darling?' I asked expectantly 

'Ho, Ho, Ho of course' said the boy with a 'duh Mum' tone in his voice. 'Everybody knows that!'

And that's all he had to say about that. 

This answering questions lark obviously doesn't extend both ways it would seem......