It’s just not cricketi

I love Mary Berry, there is something so calming about watching her programmes, a sense of what life should be like. It gives me the belief that I could calmly host a village fete in my garden and unflappably cater for hundreds of people. I dream of a summer’s day where we play a jolly game of cricket and then sit around the table and share a meal as a family; everybody’s smiling, everybody has manners and no bugger flatly refuses to eat the food in front of them.
It’s a lovely day dream that I enjoy having whilst sat with my children, who resemble apes at mealtimes. For some reason they think it’s acceptable to get up and walk around whilst holding food, stand up on their chairs to eat and use no cutlery.
‘Would you be allowed to do this at school?!” I bark at them, having pleaded for them to sit on their chairs.
‘NO! Of COURSE not Mummy!’ they chime in unison.
‘Then why do you think it’s acceptable at home?’
They never answer, they’re too busy walking around the table dropping food all over the place as they go. Despite my protestations, Jack insists on eating spaghetti bolognese with his hands. I dread to think how they behave at other people’s houses and I would like to take this opportunity to state that their table manners are completely unacceptable and well, rather repugnant to me. They have been taught manners, they have been taught to use their cutlery and they have been taught to sit on the bloody chair when they’re eating but for some reason, despite ALL MY NAGGING, they continue to flout my instructions. So i’ve sort of given up for now and generally over the sound of them masticating with their mouths open *GAG*, i’ll mutter ‘I bet Mary Berry doesn’t have to put up with this shit’ before pouring a large glass of wine for myself.

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I mean, what is she doing? How does she get Hoby et al to cooperate? I’ve never seen one of those grandchildren burst into tears because they don’t like the lovingly prepared meal that has been placed in front of them.

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We never get to see them gagging on a mouthful of shepherd’s pie before going ‘WELL! I’ve tried it! Can I have toast now?’

It just doesn’t happen. What witchcraft are you employing Mary? SHARE THAT SECRET! NEVER MIND YOUR BLOODY RECIPES! Tell me how you get them to play cricket in the garden without them going ‘I HATE CRICKET!’ before they proceed to strip stark bollock naked and jump on the trampoline. Is she drugging them? Bribing them? WHAT IS IT MARY?! WHAT?!

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It will happen one day, won’t it? Like toilet training or reading? One day it will just click?
Until that day, it’s just me and the wine against the children.

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Kindness

This is going to be controversial but sod it, in for a penny, in for a pound. I want to talk today about Jesus. NO! DON’T FUCK OFF! COME BACK! NOW! Now what i’m going to say is for anybody of any religion, or non religion or whatever you do or don’t believe. But first i’m going to talk about Jesus a bit.
There are some things that I don’t think Jesus gives a shit about. I haven’t studied theology or philosophy or The Bible actually but what I have to say seems like fairly common sense:
I don’t think Jesus cares that you’ve given up sweets or booze for Lent. I KNOW. GROUNDBREAKING YES?!
‘Oh you’ve given up biscuits for six weeks, yes I can see how that would make you a better person.’
I kind of don’t think he cares what you eat on a Friday and I also don’t really think he cares if you do yoga. ‘You bend about on a mat, make daft noises and sometimes fart? You BASTARD! You terrible, TERRIBLE person you! You’re going to hell with all the murderers and paedophiles. And you! You over there with the reiki, STOP IT! STOP IT NOW!’ Not really the same is it?
No, I don’t think he cares about all that. Here is what I DO think Jesus cares about;
kindness. Are you being kind to people or are you being a complete and utter shithead to people? Because if you think about it, if you REALLY think about it, when you get to the beyond, whatever you believe, I don’t think that the fact that you give up Dairy Milk once a year for six weeks will get you off the hook for being a terrible person. Also just because you go to church every week, it doesn’t make you a better person than anybody else. I would just like to note that I have friends who go to church every week and they are great people. I also know people who go every week who are NOT such great people and well, can be a bit judgey if you don’t go every week. I’m just going to say to them, it’s not your place to judge, if you’ve been paying attention? Yes? Remember hearing that? That’s kind of making you a bad person.
But can you imagine the following scenario;
‘Oh you murdered somebody? Well it’s okay, come on in, you ate cod on a Friday, you’re clearly not a total bastard.’ Hm.
No. I’m sorry but what we really ought to be doing is making an effort to be KIND TO OTHER HUMAN BEINGS. Not just for six weeks of the year but EVERY DAY.  Just be decent to each other. Yes, alright, it’s unrealistic to think that you’re going to be friends with everybody in life, it’s just not going to happen but do you know what, that doesn’t mean you have to be nasty to people. If somebody is not your cup of tea, just smile pleasantly and move on your way. You don’t have to be friends but be bloody civil.
I am aware my swearing is probably not on the good list, I’ll try and work on it but I do find it therapeutic… also current favourite expression is “Christ on a Bike”, which i’ve been informed by my seven year old, doesn’t even make sense because bikes weren’t invented when Jesus was alive. That’s me in my place.
Speaking of my seven year old, here is what I teach him when he’s butting heads (literally or figuratively – ha) with somebody; you might not get on with them, you don’t HAVE to be their friend so just keep away if you don’t get on but you can still smile at them and say hello because that is the polite and decent thing to do.
So can we all start? Can we just try to be kinder to one another?

Bravissimo

So last year, Esther Coren did a Capsule Wardrobe series on her blog and honestly, it has been LIFE CHANGING. Having always struggled to put outfits together, it really has been brilliant and now I ALWAYS have something to wear, i’m not hopelessly floundering about wearing some bizarre combination. Woman knows her shiz. So slowly, piece by piece, I have been adding to my wardrobe – did I mention those Dinny Hall hoops I bought?
I do find Bravissimo brilliant, the way they fit bras is completely different, they are so good at it. Not to mention that their selection of bras and swimwear is wonderful and very affordable. I’d also like to applaud them on their activewear range, particularly their new sports vests. However, there are some pieces that continue to elude me because finding something to fit my massive knockers can be a challenge – I am a size 12 everywhere except my chest, which is a size 16. This is a gap that I wish Bravissimo would fill and here are some items that I am begging them to consider;

Breton Top
I actually have a Breton from Bravissimo but it’s a brighter blue and YEARS old. I would really like a new, very plain, good old navy and white breton. All the others I’ve tried stretch uncomfortably at the top and then move position whenever I lift my arms.
Bravissimo have one but it has sort of zig zag panels at the side? My current blue one doesn’t have that, they have managed to make the perfect Breton with room for boobs before so please, please could they do it again?!
Something like this;
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Here is my current Bravissimo one, I have had this for about three years? It has lasted really well but it’s becoming a little faded and baggy through wear…
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Here is a normal Breton top I ordered recently (it’s going back, you’ll see why);
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Looks OK but then I lift my arms or just move at all and;
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Shirts
Shirts are such a thing when you’re large of tit, a button inevitably popping open so that the world can see your bra. Bravissimo do do shirts but they’re more a work shirt, I would love a casual shirt.

This chambray shirt from J Crew, is the sort of thing that I would like;
crew cham
A lovely, loose but not OVERLY loose if you see what I mean shirt. Currently I have commandeered my husband’s and it’s ok but it’s just not the same. It’s a bit big around the tum area.

Also, a white shirt. I want a lovely flowy white shirt that drapes in the right places, not a fitted office type one with the seams down the front;
white shirt
Do you see how this drapes? That’s what I want but without it gaping across my boobs or having to go for a massive size up to accomodate them whilst swamping the rest of me.

Dresses
Also, a tea dress, in a light, floaty material, something for summer that I can chuck a denim jacket over and wear with sandals. &otherstories has this beautiful one;
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Also, shirt dresses.
I saw this dress from h&m on somebody last summer, she wore it with a gold bangle and some flats and ermagad, she looked absolutely fabulous.
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And, oh, this one too… God, I love a shirt dress.
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And finally, a gypsy top for summer? Something like this? Please?
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Stalemate

There is currently a stalemate occurring in my household between my husband and myself. It’s down to these;
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Yes, flowers. I am quite singular in that I don’t like to be bought flowers. Don’t get me wrong, I love them when they’re alive and they look terribly pretty but then they die and you have to deal with the foul smelling water and washing up the vase; it’s just something else to do. Perhaps when the boys are older, I won’t tut and roll my eyes but for now with all the washing, bum wiping, mopping up pee that I have on my plate, I just sort of resent it. I told you I was weird.
Anyway, having expressed my desire not to receive flowers to my husband, this is now the third bunch he’s insisted on buying me. Well, i’ll be buggered if i’m going to deal with them, if he persists in buying me flowers, he can jolly well deal with the aftermath. So here they sit in my kitchen; dead as a dodo. It’s not that i’m ungrateful, I appreciate the sentiment, it’s just that i’d rather the sentiment was a bottle of prosecco.
I wonder which of us will break first?

Is there anything you hate receiving as a gift that everybody else loves? Leave me comment below!

Hoop-la

**This post is not sponsored.**

Yes, i’m going to start bleating on about earrings again, however, stay, STAY! I just want to chat a minute…
Gold hoops, I feel, still have a bit of a stigma against them, the domain of chavs and gypsies (according to my Mother) and I think a lot of people feel like that. But no, I want you to rewire your thinking because gold hoops are in fact, a classic, a style staple, an investment piece.

My Dinny Hall hoops arrived and I have worn them all weekend, I love them more than I thought I ever could.
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Are you still unsure? Then can I point you in the direction of…

Yes, I put two pictures of Kate, purely because she’s perfection and I love her.

But look! Do you see what I mean?! LOOK AT CATHERINE DENEUVE! LOOK AT ROSIE! Do any of these women look like chavs? No, they do not. If this doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.

Pyjamas vs. earrings

So after the vombug extraordinaire I really did think I need to get some pyjamas. I mean it’s just daft, a 34 year old woman not having proper jim-jams. I have some Christmas money that my Mum gave me so I COULD get some with that. Though what I have been really lusting after are a pair of Dinny Hall small hoop earrings. This is not some flash in the pan, i’ve been thinking about them for months since Esther Coren recommended them on her blog.
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‘When I have the money, I shall get some’ I promised myself.
The voice of my Mother rings in my head every time I look at them though.
‘Only gypsy’s wear gold hoops.’
But these are tiny, not big gypsy ho hoops. Tiny and tasteful. They would go very well with, well, anything but especially a Breton top. Then I would look very French. All I want in life is to look like a French woman… I could walk around wearing them, smoking a gauloises and wielding a baguette. ***I would not smoke. I could just pretend.***

But I NEED pyjamas. But then shouldn’t Christmas money be about buying something you want rather than something you need? It’s a real internal struggle i’m having. First world problems at their best. Well anyway I decided to have a look at my pyjama options. I want something short sleeved because otherwise I get too hot in bed and long bottomed because when i’m between waxes, I want my hairy ankles covered.
I can’t seem to find such a thing. Every thing is bloody long sleeved with short shorts! What if I decide to rise early to practise yoga (HAHAHA) and I am mid downward facing dog when one of my poor innocent children wanders down and is faced with my vagina. No, no, no.

I came across a jumpsuit. A bed jumpsuit. What the actual fuck? It’s bad enough wearing a jumpsuit and needing a pee in your waking hours, let alone 2.30am, having to faff about with a bloody jumpsuit. NON.

I have always liked to imagine myself in a pair of white company pyjamas, lounging around with a coffee, reading the papers. This would not be doable without kids, I would spill something on myself, never mind the amount of stuff I get on me with kids. I am not that woman. Besides I don’t have time for coffee and papers.

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I will never be this woman.


I wish this was short sleeve and long trouser… but seriously this is major vagina flashing hazard.
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Then I found a brand called Chelsea Peers, which have lots of cute prints but most of them are LONG SLEEVE. GRRRRR. Though there was this, wish it was no sleeve but I was getting closer…
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HOWEVER, then it says “WARNING KEEP AWAY FROM FIRE AND FLAMES”
Now i’m not a fire eater or anything but what if i’m cooking or what if i’m relaxing in my Chelsea Peers pj’s with a nice fondue and I catch alight. NOT GOOD ENOUGH CHELSEA PEERS, NOT GOOD ENOUGH. So that’s out.

My friend once said that she imagines I waft about in the house in something like this…
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Because apparently I remind her of Margo from The Good Life?! Is that good? Or bad?
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ANYWAY, clearly the lack of pyjamas is fate and pointing to the fact that I should buy the earrings. Also, while it may be time to grow up and buy proper pj’s, surely it’s time to also have the same outlook on jewellery. All my gold stuff is from Accessorise and tarnished to shiz. As my Mother in law said to me ‘Get the earrings. Nobody sees your pyjamas.’ Tru dat.
As for “The bigger the hoop, the bigger the ho.” Well, these are small, so on the hoop to ho ratio, i’m just a small ho.

Fuck it reader. I bought the earrings. This is what I will look like. Do you like my French face? Do I look like Bardot or Deneuve? Hoping that my props in this pic look more Gallic than Phallic…
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Vom

FRIDAY

The washing machine has once again packed in and I have to wait for Monday afternoon for the repair man to come back and take a look. David staggers in from work, having somehow trapped something in his back. I find it rather hard to sympathise, given that if the shoe were on the other foot, I would just have to get on with it. I do feel slightly guilty about going out for dinner though and leaving him with the three kids, especially as Tom is especially miserable this evening. “Damned teething” I mumble as I bolt out the door to my friend’s house for uninterrupted chat, food and wine. I don’t overdo it on the wine, given the state of David’s back, I decide I ought to get up and take the boys to Tae Kwon Do in the morning. I get home about 11.30 and decide to have a cup of tea and sit on the sofa. The next thing, I wake up and head upstairs about 2am to find Tom wide awake.
“Oh dear, what’s up with you?” I ask. Tom proceeds to vomit all over himself.
Lift him out, change him and settle him back down.
“What’s up?” David mumbles.
“Tom’s been sick. Don’t know if it’s teething or maybe he’s picked a bug up off the floor? Hope it’s not a bug but given the boys haven’t brought one home, can’t see where he would have got it from?”
“Maybe they’ve brought one home but haven’t actually got it themselves?”
“Yeah, maybe.”
A few hours later Tom wakes up and is remarkably chipper, so I make him his bottle, which he then proceeds to bring straight back up all over the bed. “FML” I say to David “the bloody washing machine isn’t working.”
David is still staggering about but says that it would be easier for him to take the boys to TKD rather than lift Tom and deal with him.

In the afternoon, Jack has a party so off we go to that for a couple of hours. Return to find my in-laws have come to help crippled David. They offer to have us for lunch the following day and look after David and Tom whilst I take the boys swimming. Jump on this offer with alacrity, so much nicer for my children to go and reject food at somebody’s else’s house.

Tom has nappy from hell, which he manages to get his hands and feet in as soon as I whip it off. “FML” I think to myself as I weep silent tears of frustration. We head up to my in-laws and then I take the boys swimming. After lunch we head home.
“I just have to nip into Morrisons” David says, so we swing past there on our way home and he takes Ruari in with him.
“My tummy feels funny.” says Jack.
“Really? Do you need the bucket?”
He nods.
“Can you just hang on until we get home, Daddy won’t be long now.”
“My tummy really hurts.”
I am wedged into the back between him and Tom so I look around for something; there is nothing except a Beano, which I reach down for, open up and place on his lap.
“If he is sick” I think to myself, “at least this should catch the majority of it and maybe it will work as a distraction too.”
I proceed to read to him, then moments later, he projectile vomits all over it, the car, me, the car, himself, the car. I swear his head must have spun around to have achieved what he achieved. I ring David “Can you hurry up. Jack has just been sick.” I gasp over the vomit fumes.
Moments later, David and Ruari come running out.
“Oh Jeeeesus” says David, as he gets in.
“Yes, never mind just looking, can we just GO!”
We zoom home and proceed to deal with stripping off and dealing with all the vomit washing.
Suddenly remember the washing machine isn’t working “I’ll have to take it all to Mum’s. Just bag it up and leave it by the back door.” As I deal with Jack and myself, David sorts out the car.
“It’s bad. It’s really bad” he says, as he comes in 25 minutes later.
I spend the next few hours cleaning vomit out of a bucket, David packs for his trip to Dublin and finally, everybody settles down and is in bed.
Then I start to feel queasy.
“Right, I don’t have time for this” I say to myself, “so I shall just get a head start and beat it at it’s own game”. So I head upstairs and try to make myself sick. Nothing. How frustrating. Head downstairs to sit with Jack who is snoozing in-between vomiting and watching Team Umizoomi. Am happy to sleep downstairs on the sofas with him as I can’t imagine cleaning vomit off bunkbeds is a particularly easy task.
A couple of hours later, I have to dash to the loo and finally, it hits.
“Well,” I think to myself as I am so violently sick that vomit comes out of my nose” at least I might have a chance of doing my jeans button up again after Christmas. In fact, this can kick start a whole new healthy eating era. Perhaps I will be Australia thin again! (When we lived in Australia, I was REEEEEALLY slim). I will live on broccoli and quinoa.” Of course, all I can think about as soon as I can face the thought of food again are pork pies and fish and chips.
I would like to note that at this point, the following days all merge into each other and I end up with no idea what day it is or what’s happening.
I return to the sofa, feeling cold but much better. At around 4am David comes down, he has arisen to prepare for his trip to Dublin.
“Um, i’ve just been to the loo and it wasn’t bad but it definitely wasn’t normal.”
“Yes, that’s how I started.” I say.
“Well, do you think I ought to go to Dublin then?”
“I  really can’t answer that for you.”
At this point, David’s stomach makes a loud gurgling sound.
“Ooh that’s how I started, all that gurgling. I probably wouldn’t go if I were you. You’ll be stuck in Dublin vomiting until your flight back tonight.”
“Hm, I think you may be right. Actually I think I need the loo” and he scuttles off up the stairs.
He spends the next couple of hours running to the loo and then at around 7ish, I hear him puking – probably the whole street heard him, he is not a quiet puker.
He crawls downstairs some time later “Thank God I didn’t go, I started vomming at the time the plane was due to take off. Do you mind if I go and lie down then?”
“No, that’s fine, then i’ll come and get you in a bit and we can take turns to rest?”
“Yeah ok.”
I doss around on the sofa with the boys and then at around 9, I hear him vomiting over the intercom. Ugh. “Still, i’m exhausted and hopefully it’s out of his system now” I think to myself ten minutes later and I take myself upstairs ready to take my turn in bed. I walk into the room to find him sat on the floor, headset on, taking a work call with a bucket of sick next to him. Back out of the room in disgust and head back to the sofa.
Forty minutes later David comes down “Sorry about that, I had to brief the guys in Dublin so they could take over the blah work blah blah work  blah work blah work blah. That’s a first, i’ve never thrown up two minutes before a call before.”
“Right. Great. Can I take my turn in bed now?”
“Actually, still feeling a bit sick, so i’ll just go and sit by the loo for a bit.”
Grrrrrrrrrr.
Hours pass, I sit on the sofa with the boys, doze when Tom is in bed and clean sick up. At some point my Mother in Law comes in, bringing Lucozade, loo roll and other supplies, takes all our washing to do at hers and looks after the boys. I finally get to go to bed for a couple of hours, it has never felt so good to sink into the covers. I wake a couple of hours later in a hot, sweaty mess, unsure what time is it, what day it is and what my own name is. I have a terrible headache but the desire to run to the lavatory has passed.
Eventually everybody is in bed. When I wake hours later, it is the morning and all symptoms have gone. I feel utterly disgusting though, so rise and run myself a bath. I sink in to the hot water and it feels delicious for all of 4 minutes before Jack comes in and dumps a Lego coastguard boat on top of me.
“Do you want to play Mummy? I’ll play with you.”
“What I want” I think to myself “is five minutes peace.” Feel like that ruddy elephant from that story.

Days pass in a blur of vomit, shit and lack of sleep. Note: I am the only one who suffers from lack of sleep, David irritatingly could sleep through a hurricane so why would he hear his children retching into a bucket at 3am or the baby spectacularly shitting all over his Sleepyhead Grande. On Thursday he goes back to work. Up he leaps out of bed, bounding about like Michael fucking Flatley.
“Well i’d better go to the office today.”
Yes off you go with all your fucking sleep, wouldn’t want you to waste all that bastard excess energy on helping me you utter sleep hogging bastard.
I stomp downstairs to begin the breakfast. Now that everybody has stopped vomiting, they’re all bouncing off the walls and eating everything but they still have the runs and are contagious so I can’t offload them at school and crawl back to bed. There is a knock at the door, David is in the shower, of course he is. I hover near the door debating whether to open it given that I am unwashed, braless, have not yet even brushed my teeth and am wearing my old Selfish Mother tee with a hole in and David’s pyjama bottoms and dressing gown. Then the realisation hits that Jack’s new passport is being delivered today. Reluctantly open the door, delivery man recoils in horror. I know I don’t look my best but still; RUDE! I try to keep conversation minimal and only speak on an in breath to avoid terrible bad breath situation. Pop Tom on the floor whilst I open the envelope and he immediately heads towards two pairs of David’s shoes that have been abandoned on the floor. Have never known somebody leave so many bastard shoes all over the place. Run over before he can pick one up and stick it in his mouth, snatch the shoes up and then hurl them up the stairs whilst snarling “TOO MANY FUCKING SHOES IN THIS HOUSE!”
At some point, it’s eventually Friday, the baby is still crapping himself.
“WHEN WILL IT END” I wail at David, who has bravely decided to work from home.
David takes him to the doctor who tells him that we just have to wait it out. FML. We cancel our weekend trip to London.

At the end of it I have to say I am truly grateful for a hot bath after being too weak to wash, a working washing machine, fresh sheets, a night’s sleep, friends who offer to help and take my vomity washing and my mother in law who completely put herself in the firing line to come down and help out with the kids, take all our washing and unfortunately end up catching the hideous bug herself.

Taking stock I have realised that we do not have enough bedding, towels or baby bedding. To think only the week before I had looked in the linen cupboard and almost thrown out a load of shitty old threadbare offerings sitting there but NO, I shall keep them for occasions like this!
I also have to wonder who designed the Sleepyhead Grande because if you get something on it, when you remove the cover, its very structure comes apart. I mean, what? And if you want to buy a spare cover for it you need to remortgage your house.
Also, GRACO, I HAVE A BONE TO PICK WITH YOU. YOUR COVERS ARE COLD WASH ONLY. HAVE YOU MET CHILDREN? CHILDREN VOMIT. CHILDREN PEE. CHILDREN CRAP. EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE WASHABLE AT 60 DEGREES.
Can only conclude that anybody who designs things for children is as mad as a box of frogs.

But on the plus side I can indeed do up my jeans again and people keep telling me that I look skinny, so you know, silver linings and all that.

Eight months

The baby is eight months old, I really don’t know where that went. Between David working mainly in London; meeting the older twos’ every need and helping look after my Mother, it has just flown.
He is now crawling and into everything, he hates being in his “prison” as we call his playpen and whenever he is put into it, grabs the gate, pulls himself up to standing and proceeds to howl at us all. He loves his brothers and they dote on him. That didn’t happen immediately; with Ruari and Tom there was an instant bond but it’s only recently that Jack has warmed up to him, we had a terrible and difficult few months of “middle child syndrome”. I tried my best to make sure that I was giving Jack one on one time and making him feel special and valued but from September up until December, I was on my own during the week and trying to juggle everything was difficult. I had, at one point, somebody casting doubt on my ability to parent which knocked my confidence and only made things more challenging as I proceeded to question absolutely every decision I make as a parent but then I realised that i’m actually a fucking awesome parent and I can only do my best when i’m by myself. I may not always get it right but as far as I can see, my children feel happy, safe and most importantly loved. Ruari may not always get his five a day but I can’t force-feed him fruit and vegetables; Jack may not always be the centre of attention as he would so like (that’s a trait he gets from me – attention whore – haha) but he knows he is loved, he is given one on one time as often as we can; and Tom may sometimes be put in “the prison” but it’s generally so that he doesn’t go around yanking wires (his favourite thing) so that I can make food for everybody.
I may not always be the best parent, wife, daughter or friend but I am, after all, only human. I think a big part of last year was accepting that I am not superwoman, I can only do what I can and that’s ok. I don’t have any help, that’s not a “poor me” thing, not a complaint, it’s just a fact. David is basically married to his job Monday to Friday, that is the nature of his job so even when he is working in Leeds, he will be gone before the boys are up and quite often, back after they’re in bed (if you have opinions on that, i’m not really interested, it’s not your life, i’m fine with it). I don’t have Grandparents to help, quite the other way around; my Dad, quite suddenly, popped his clogs when Ruari was a baby and I help care for my Mother who has poor health. So you see, my plate is full and I have to say, I think I cope pretty damn marvellously.

The Walk of Shame

Ah students, look at you, all sweet, look at you tripping home on the walk of shame. Well, let me tell you, you have NO IDEA about what the walk of shame truly is and you will not until you become a parent (NB if you choose not to have children, this is probably as bad as it will get for you).

No. The true walk of shame happens in the playground. Generally at pick up rather than drop off, when the teacher comes out and beckons you over with ‘Can I just have a word?’
‘Oh fuck’ you think to yourself ‘here we go again.’
I have lost count of the times I have now done the walk of shame. Across you traipse to the teacher, feeling as though every eye is upon you, as though Uncle Sam (one for the Americans among us) is pointing at you so that EVERYBODY knows ‘YOU! YOU’RE A SHITE PARENT AND YOUR CHILD IS THE DEVIL.’
uncle sam.jpg

I have been called in because my children have walloped, bitten and pinched other classmates, and most recently touched somebody else’s willy. I was sat down, very seriously and told about him touching another child’s willy. To give you some context, they were getting changed after PE and there were a few of them being daft, he hadn’t backed anybody into a dark cupboard or anything. I’m not being funny, but he didn’t do this because he’s a sexual deviant; he’s a child and he thinks willies are fucking hilarious, which, let’s face it, they are. Can you take a penis seriously? I cannot. Willies look like Captain Barbosa from Pirates of the Caribbean.
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Do you know what I mean though? They sort of stare at you through their one eye. ‘Ahoy matey, be ye wantin’ to climb the mast?’
‘No. Fuck off. I want to go to sleep. And stop prodding me in the back.’ Obviously, I would like to state that what i’ve just been talking about there are grown up willies before that gets misconstrued.

But seriously, willy waggling aside, kids are kids, they do this kind of daft stuff. Obviously if they’re repeatedly going after somebody, it needs dealing with but generally, they do stupid things, things that make you go ‘WHHHHHY?! I’M DOING EVERYTHING THE PARENTING BOOKS ARE TELLING ME TO! WHHHHHY ARE YOU SHOWING ME UP?!’ You will despair because you are doing your absolute bloody best to teach your child right from wrong; that going round biffing people is not the done thing; that your private parts are private; that you don’t say mean things to people. You are trying your absolute hardest but sometimes that isn’t always reflected in the way your child behaves. It is exhausting and sometimes soul destroying. I work so hard to try and help my children to become good people, I think the majority do.

The best thing that you can do as the parent of the one who is being a gobshite, is to message the parent of the injured party and say ‘Oh my God, i’m so sorry my child was such a pestilential poop, I am completely mortified (you will be, if you have anything about you).’
Generally, if they’re a good sort, they will message back and say ‘Don’t worry, mine can equally be an unbalanced young boll weever. Have yourself a glass of wine, you’re not alone in the whole child wanting to embarrass the SHIT OUT OF THEIR PARENT club.’ If they’re not a good sort and they don’t message, just sit back and think to yourself ‘I can’t fucking WAIT to watch them go through the teenage years.’ Because nobody is immune from their child giving them some grief at some stage.

Christmas Shopping Lists

Right, come on, look, you’re just going to have to do this, get your food for Christmas sorted. I KNOW, it’s November but it’s the END of November and then we will be in December which is always a bloody runaway train gathering speed toward Christmas. So do yourself a favour and get it done now.

First off, what are you doing for Christmas? Have you any friends for supper? Are you having a drinks and canapé party? Are you hosting Christmas Day? Boxing Day?

For myself, we are having friends for drinks on Christmas Eve afternoon, just us (and my Mother) for Christmas Day, Boxing Day will be cold stuff and then David’s parents are coming to us the day after Boxing Day and we’re making le ros boeuf.  So get your meat sorted first.
I have ordered from the butcher: turkey, beef roasting joint, gammon joint, thin pork sausages, cocktail sausages, bacon, streaky bacon, large pork pie and a stuffing bomb (I love that my butchers has noted that this is not a real bomb – ha). So all I have to do is pick it up three days before Christmas. I am doing Nigella’s turkey again this year, having had great success with it two years ago when I last cooked Christmas lunch. You need to brine it for a couple of days beforehand, so factor that into when you’e buying/collecting your turkey lurkey. I haven’t a clue what to do about the beef, I always overcook it, so if anybody has any recommendations, I would be very grateful. I find it always good to have a stash of bacon and sausages in for breakfasts, there’s something about all that eating over Christmas that seems to make everybody even hungrier, for vegetarians, keep hummus and avocados in? Although i’d happily eat that myself for breakfast.

Then there’s the vegetables; potatoes, parsnips, sprouts etc. Do you need me to tell you? I think not. Make bread sauce now and freeze it, then pour the cream in on the day.

Are you having Yorkshire Puddings? I know it’s not traditional for Christmas lunch but sod it, Prince Harry’s marrying Meghan Markle, so I think anything goes now. We like them for Christmas lunch and they’re compulsory with roast beef so I have this to say on them; I cannot make Yorkshire Puddings to save my life, they always end up as pancakes. Plus it’s just another thing to do, in the whole timing hell that is a roast lunch, SO, buy them. I mean, Aunt Bessie’s if you wish, nobody will care by this point or lots of places are selling really fab YP’s now, I will be getting them from my butcher, freezing them and then bunging them in the oven for a few minutes. Look nobody is expecting a gourmet meal (if they are, disinvite them IMMEDIATELY), so don’t be a hero here, it’s your Christmas too and I just don’t want you to have a meltdown cooking the lunch where you end up weeping in a heap on the kitchen floor over failed yorkshire puds.

Then there’s Christmas cake and Christmas pudding. My Mother -in-law makes me a Christmas cake every year from her family recipe, it is soooo goooood – I look forward to it all year, along with the lobster Mac and cheese canapés from M&S and the decorated windows in the undertakers (seriously, they get somebody to come and paint Christmas scenes on the windows, it’s weirdly wonderful). If you haven’t made a cake or a pudding by now, then you’re going to have to buy one. I will probably buy my pudding from M&S or I do like that Heston one with the orange in the middle from Waitrose. Don’t forget cream/ice-cream/brandy cream/brandy butter. Right, here is something I forgot to do last year: Pudding for the kids. My kids do not like Christmas pudding, so if yours don’t either, get them something they would like. It is Christmas after all, I know they’ve probably had shit loads of sugar all day but with any luck, they’ll crash out early in a sugar/overexcitement/just generally knackered from it all slump.

Ok, so here’s a list of stuff that you probably just won’t think about in the “Main Planning”. But first, go through those jars in your fridge, it’s quite likely that the cranberry sauce needs replacing, are there dregs of mustard lurking in the bottom of a jar? Is there fur on anything? Go through it, chuck it, MAKE ROOM. Ok, to the list:
Piccallili
Branston Pickle
HP fruity
Brown sauce
Cornichons
Wholegrain mustard
English mustards
Dijon mustard
Horseradish
Red onion jam
Bouquet garni
Bay leaves
Cinnamon sticks
Whole nutmeg (you can grate them)
Maldon salt
Peppercorns
Cranberry sauce if you’re not making it? You can make it NOW and chuck it in the freezer, it is really easy
GOOSE FAT – I always forget this and it pretty much one of the MOST IMPORTANT THINGS
Those bags of nuts – they look really nice dotted around in little bowls as a sort of edible Christmas decoration. Don’t forget the nutcrackers. I REALLY want a nutcracker like the soldier one from THE NUTCRACKER. Have you seen one anywhere?
Puff pastry for the freezer, are you making a pie from the leftovers? Don’t be arsing around making pastry.

UPDATE *Pancetta and one of those vacuum packs of chestnuts for the sprouts!* I forgot about these because I hate sprouts, I will not even do the traditional “having one because it’s Christmas” but David loves them 🤢

CHEESE
Don’t forget the cheese board. I leave this to David, this is his thing, he talks about it from about October so I just leave him to get on with it. He goes to The Cheeseboard in Harrogate, where we got our wedding “cake” from. Cheese is very personal, like Art, so I won’t presume to tell you what to get but the basics should be a hard cheese, such as a good cheddar, a soft cheese; brie or camembert and a blue; David LOVES stilton, i’m not as keen, I prefer something a little milder so we generally end up with a couple of blues. Don’t forget one of those big tubs of Carrs or Jacobs crackers, grapes and quince jelly.

DRINKS
Coffee pods
Tea
Decaf tea
Herbal tea i.e. peppermint or ginger lemon – both of these also good for unsettled stomachs if you’ve eaten too much though NB peppermint makes you fart so you might want to think about that, especially with all those sprouts around
Prosecco/white wine/red wine
Port – if it’s your thing
Gin
Tonic water – HOW do I always forget this?!<<<<<<<<<
Sparkling water
Cranberry juice
Orange juice
Coke of some other fizzy drink
Lemons and limes for ice and a slice
These are just suggestions, you might not like half this stuff but other people might or they might be pregnant or teetotal (why?). I am really bad about thinking about other people, I am just basically, very selfish but i’m getting better about thinking of others and their beverage needs.

CLING FILM AND TIN FOIL
Napkins
CRACKERS!!!
A couple of pizzas for the freezer?

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE? Please let me know and I will add it to the list!

Into the fray we go mes amies! Bonne chance!

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