Monday, 17 July 2017


I'm not sure I understand Slimming World. I've just logged on to their Pinterest board and up came 1001 pictures of the most disgustingly unappetising food imaginable. Does spelling 'sin' slightly differnetly as 'syn' change the concept of guilt ? I don't think so.

If you're aiming to eat healthily , why make something look like a Big Mac ? What's with all the cheese ? And why list all the bags of crisps you can eat ? I don't get it .

Yet having said all of that , I'm going along this Wednesday and signing up for a trial run of 6 sessions. If nothing else it will get me on the scales. I'm hoping I can sort my head out on all this eating business. That's where the real problem lies.

It's ironic that the meetings are held at the nursery my eldest son attended which is where all the weight thing started.

My reasons should be for health but I'm so shallow , it's all about the clothes. Can't wait to go shopping again.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Minted ... or skinted

I'd been looking for a decent set of banners stamps for cards . Didn't want to shell out $15 ( about £12 excluding postage ) for these ...

... so I was delighted to find these at The Works for a mere £2.

Sometimes you get what you pay for but not in this case. They are excellent quality and I bet they're even made in the same factory.

Absolutely delighted and all the more to spend on other craft supplies.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Holidays are just plain weird

I love and loathe them in equal measures. They morph over time. Just when you're used to the Isle of Wight bucket, spade and ice cream variety when your kids are young, you realise that sand between the toes is not going to cut the mustard when they reach thirteen. Having said that, my boys are generally happy with whatever we present them with although eldest finds a break from routine tricky to navigate.

And as for me, the planning, packing and covering of all potenial eventualities means I usualy arrive exhausted. The decision-making process that precedes every holiday - when , where and how - causes sleepless night before hand and at least a week to recover afterwards.

Then there are all those stupid things you have to do before you leave, from emptying the fridge (which is why we always find ourselves eating slightly dodgy, past the sell by dates items the night before we leave) , finding obliging cat-loving pet feeders , boil washing flip flops that have seen better days and locating that prohibitively expensive can of insect repellant that you took last year.
Painting toe nails would be a luxury and if I even dare attempt it, I usually end up smudging it everywhere as there's never enough time to leave it to dry properly.

Not only that but husband has usually arranged for some untimely and complicated buiding project on the house that entails leaving keys for builders, burglar-friendly ladders strewn across the front garden and the need to leave windows open for paint to dry. We might as well put up a sign that says " Help Yourself to Valuables in our Absence" . And talking of husband , he always considers holidays to be 'effortless' which is generaly because he hasn't spent months online reseraching, choosing and booking nor been involved in any way with currency, passports, re-chargers, bulging first-aid kits, packing, transport, feeding logistics or contingency plans. The first night usually finds him with a beer in hand declaring the whole process a success. A bit like Christmas really - the other halves only have to turn up.

Having said that what would we do without them ? Well, probably be a lot better off. But then they do give you that thinking time that you never get in the normal day to day humdrum of life and the odd laugh along the way. This year's came in the form of a 'scene' at the mini golf. Having engineered the entire week's entertainment, dining arrangements and general logistics of getting youngest son plus two friends, eldest plus girlfriend and other half to our destination, we found ourselves on the last day at a nearby adventure golf course ( a must have for any seaside holiday ) having played a round of 18 holes for youngest son's eighteenth birthday, which also involved my hiding behind a bush attempting to inflate  a giant surprise metallic '18' birthday balloon for the eighteenth hole . That day had already entailed birthday breakfast for eight , birthday presents, balloons, banners and birthday cake ( no small feat when you've had to pack and hide that lot ). The evening's entertainment had been planned too - a beautiful restaurant located in a stunning deer park - no detail left to chance as I'd had to book it weeks in advance due to its popularity. This just left one teensy detail unplanned - where to have lunch. Thought I'd leave that to husband. After dithering around for half an hour declaring my suggestion of afternoon tea unpopular and writing off the cafe at the Craft Barn next door , there followed much faffing at which I asked husband to just make a ( bloody ) decision. Youngest son came to the rescue with a phone app which offers suggestions on where to eat nearby. A five minute drive later we found ouselves on an industrial estate eating Thai Noodles from an unlikely looking shed in the car park. Could have been a disaster but  looking back, it was pretty hilarious.

And what did I learn from this whole experience ? Never leave anything to your husband, never forget that five hungry youngsters are an ugly sight to behold and thank god for mobile phones.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Letter from the past

In a post-exam euphoric state , I managed to stub my left food BADLY against the leg of the bed and smashed up two of my toes.

As they say though, every cloud has a silver lining and that came in the form of a box of old letters rescued from the loft to keep me entertained whilst I hoisted my foot up onto the sofa and wrapped it in ice.

Talk about a Pandora's Box. Memories came flooding back. I must have kept every single card and letter ever written to me when I was a student. I'm so pleased I did now, as reading them has transported me back into a glowing reverie of happy hippy days at University. Maybe the tinted glasses are a little too rosy as I'm sure I must have had my fair share of teeneage angst and heartache. If you've ever wondered why most pop songs feature broken hearts and lost love you only have to go back in time to your 18 year old self and see what all the fuss was about.

Youngest son couldn't belive his eyes when he saw the mountain of carefully , and occassionslly not so carfelly, handwritten letters - often several pages long. Of course , sending letters is anathema to youngsters. Why get your fountain pen out when you can zip off a text in seconds, a 140 character tweet or worse still a snapchat which disapperas into the ether within 24hours. What are they going to remember ?

I haven't stopped laughing at my deathly dull diary entries ... " Oct24th - Got up, washed hair, ate a susage roll " as if I'd ever need to be reminded of the tedium of my everyday life. Of course now , although it makes me cringe , it also makes me smile.

There were boyfriends' names I'd forgotten - sorry , whoever you were, unidentifiable locations on faded photographs and a bizzare letter from someone callled Mike Jonhson which read ...

I have no idea who he is or what on earth he's talking about or why he's wishing me luck at the museum !

Haven't had this good a laugh in ages .

Thursday, 22 June 2017


... which is Ikea speak for brand new wall storage / organiser thingy.

Just bought one yesterday . Decided to beat the heat by driving across town to Ikea with the air conditioning at full pelt . It worked a treat for the trip there but after having being stood for a couple of hours on an acre of tarmac in 35 degrees of burning heat, the car felt like a furnace and the ride home was hell as the air con just couldn't cope. Ah well , at least I had Ikea almost to myself as I'd planned my visit to co-incide with the day before their sale and when the kid's care was closed - result !

I was determined not to fill my trolley with napkins, frames and useless kitchen storage jars which is what I normally come home with . Ok , so one frame and 2 packs of napkins did sneak their way in but I think I did well to manage my addiction to that extent.

I am beyond excited to get this up on the wall. For a mere £9 I'm looking forward to having an office that looks like this ...

... well maybe even nicer than this dependent on what I hang on it. Of course they get you with all the knicky knacky add-ons you have to buy but who cares when organisation comes as stylish as this and each accessory is only about £2-£3 although it does add up. Think I probably spent about £22 in total. 

Now all I have to do is interpret the oh-so-helpful instructions.

From this picture I'm getting  - strip naked, look glum, chop it all into pieces then smile at a naked man with a pencil behind his ear. Those Swedish have a knack at this assembly thing.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

When the going gets hot ...

... the hot go shopping ... but only if the store has air conditioning.

I never thought I'd hear myself say " Can't wait to get to Sainsburys" but yesterday I not only loitered around the chiller cabinets for un unacceptably long time but also cruised up and down each and every frozen food aisle, idling away a happy hour next to the frozen peas and chips.

I'm betting Iceland is popular too this week ... and Tescos... and Waitrose ... and any other supermarket come to mention it .

I managed to sling a few boxes of Magnums and Rowntrees Fruit Lollies into my trolley before paying at the till then draggied myself reluctantly, blinking in the sunshine, back over the boiling tarmac of the carpark to my furnace of a car.

I hate heat unless I'm by the sea,or lounging next to a swimming pool. What's to like about sweat drenched clothing, sleepless nights and flared tempers ? Yestreay it wa hotter in London overnight than the daytime temperature of Istanbul apparently. The ice maker broke on our freezer, the A/C on the car packed up and I probably could have baked a pizza on my desktop without the aid of an oven.

Not even Stevie Wonder's 'Hotter than July' album, to get me in the summer mood, could cheer me up. Pity those sat in exam rooms around the country sitting through hours of their maths A Level exam this afternoon ( my youngest son included ) . My pupils have been turning up in full length wool trousers and blazers to match ( not allowed to be seen in public withoum them on apparently ) having spent the afternoon being made to play football at school. As a nation are we bonkers ? - that was a rhetorical question btw.

My 'Keeping Cool' tactics so far have included sitting next to a bowl of ice as if looking at it might help, cowering in shady corners and taking hourly cold showers. I'm hopeless in the heat but I'll be damned if I'm going to fork out an arm and a leg for the only fan on the market that actually works ( Dyson as if you didn't know at over £300 a go ) for the 3 days of the year that I'll actually get to use it.

So, shopping is the way to go and it's costing me a small fortune. Today , I popped into Oliver Bonas ( Air Con 4* ) and bought this little cutie ...

... having promised myself that I would never buy another item that came under the heading of 'clutter' but who could resist ? I was so hot and flustered by the time I'd staggered into the first shop I could find with air con , that I forgot to ask how much it was and inevitably had come out without any glasses. Fortunately , I still got some change from a tenner.

Big up for WH Smith ( whose air con was 5* ) - I could have stayed there all day. Came home with a bagful of 3 for 2 stationery - that's not even shopping - I can get away with calling that office supplies.

Nul points for Paperchase which was like an oven. 

Last stop Itsu's for a healthy salad for youngest son as pre-exam lunch treat . I could climbed right in with the supremely chilled trays of Sushi and just lain there all day without breaking a bead of sweat.

John Lewis scored a measly 2* for their Air Con which meant a hasty exit.

So - shopkeepers of the world take note - the more you ratch up the chilled air, the more shoppers you're likely to lure through the summer months. I'll be back out tomorrow to loiter amongst the frozen foods in Tescos no doubt.

Monday, 19 June 2017

the end is near ...

... not of the world but of A Levels and I'm not even sitting them. I've never know such a turtuously drawn out process and I'm a teacher.

Youngest son is sitting in his revision 'cave'  ( think black out curtains and feeble fan wafting hot air around in 30 degree temperatures ) where's he's been holed up for the last 2 months. Motivation is at an all time low and yet he's ploughing through his revision notes studiously and I'm immensely proud of him.

The mood in the country is sombre following recent events and I can't help feeling a wave of nausea at what the future holds. To be a youngster in the current political climate must be  monumentally dis-spiriting and I think of myself as an optimist. Heaven help us.

I'm currently reading Jeremy Paxman's autobiography which is mildly amusing and surprisingly self deprecating thankfully. At least there's a wealth of decent vocabulary in it to keep me on my toes and remind me that the last time I looked in a dictionary was rather a long time ago.

Recommendations please on what to read next .

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Traveler's Notebooks

A round-up of my favourites :

Midori - can't beat them for style, panache and all round beautiful quality and the cover really is made of leather which other companies bogusly imply. I brought one of these on holiday with me last year and religiously filled in all our holiday details on a daily basis. It's been a joy to read back and remind me of the wonderful time we had. Pricey though at around £40 - £45.

Then there are the new kids on the block , jumping on the recent planner frenzy that's hit the scrapbooking community. I just don't get the whole 'planner' thing.  Quite why you'd want to buy a whole raft of new stamps, stickers and accessories for what is basically a diary ( we used to called them by the brand name Filofax back in my day ) , I do not know. Having to go to the dentist is bad enough without making a decorative song and dance about it . But hey ... these scrapbooking companies have got to think up new ways to fleece us every year . These come, inevitably, in a whole range of designs and permutations ... as the man from Bluemoon Scrapbooking says " Gotta have 'em all " . Well not at £25 a pop you don't.

And then there's this one from my favourite bargain shop - Tiger - the place I go to when I can't fit into any clothes I've just tried on and so resort to stationery to cheer myself up. A delightful mint green and white striped afffair, perefect for Summer, with a snazzy red elastic to keep it all in place.

Inside the front flap there's a sweet little pocket and it comes with 2 notebooks - one lined and one squared with another insert at the back to accommdate a few extras.

I honestly don't know how Tiger do it ( I probably do, it's called China ) but just check out the price .

Yep, all of £2. I could even buy a replacement notebook for the other brands with much change from a fiver and yet I could have bought 2 of these for less ! Un-flipping -believable. No doubt they'll sell like hotcakes, so I'm going back to buy a few for my students before they all get snapped up. Nice one Tiger .


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

I'm back

Apologies for my overlong absence but life ( aka work, chores, family in revere order ) got in the way. That makes me feel guilty including family in with chores and work so maybe I should re-word that as family-related chores - nope , still feeling guilty ... ah forget it ).

Well, it's 'that' time of year - exam season - guaranteed to strike a chord of fear in any parent's heart let alone their kids'. We are two thirds of the way through youngest son's A levels and the 'end of exams' present was opened last night in an act of undelayed gratification or rather desperation. In an attempt to keep the motivation going I allowed him to open the headphones I'd bought him which were supposedly to assist with his music technology coursework but in truth will be put through their paces in a late night computer gaming orgy. Yes, I've turned soft. I recall admonishing him for his inability to demonstrate any patience when it came to retail therapy , but when your children have watched you rip open a parcel before it's even hit the doormat, in a barely concealed frenzy of delight , you haven't really got a leg to stand on.

So, does that mean I may have to get him a two thirds of the way through the exams incentive ? A pack of Pokemon cards used to cut the mustard when they were seven but not any more now they're 6'4" tall and even a pair of trainers costs an arm and a leg and probably two feet more appropriately.

I feel so sorry for all the teenagers in the UK sitting their GCSE exams and A Levels right now. My gut wrenches as I see them trudging off to school first thing in the morning with a back-pack full of revision cards and a bottle of water with the label ripped off  ( parents of exam age children will know what I mean by that - as if you could even write the amount of formulae and quotes today's youngsters have to memorise on the back of a water bottle label) .

I'm incensed at the way the government have forced them back into a Victorian styled examination system that ensures success will fall to those who can memorise the whole of Romeo and Juliet and the equation for the volume of a frustum* ( yep - sound more like a rather depraved sexual act than anything to do with geometry ) , rather than celebrate the fact that many of our youngesters may have a more original take on knowledge that goes beyoned the purely methodical recall method that exams have become. Shame on you Michael Gove - and to see his rubbery grinning face gurning for the cameras as he stepped back into the cabinet made my stomach turn. Good grief , what did the Environment do to deserve him ?

So, if you , like me are parenting a youngster who is still only a fraction of the way through the exams that they are told will either make or break them ( no pressure then ) , buy them a pack of Pokemon cards and remind them of their happy childhood when Frustums , iambic pentameter and iterative methods for solving cubic equations were a mere distant blot on the horizon of their otherwise happy lives.

the portion of a solid (normally a cone or pyramid) that lies between one or two parallel planes cutting it. 

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Hope my students aren't reading this ...

... been busy this afternoon wrapping gifts for my students - the girls that is - the boys get chocolate .

Found these sweet little body sprays in Boots from Ted Baker - cute huh ?

Wrapped them in this gorgeous copper foil wrapping paper from John Lewis - reminds me of the sort of paper you used to get in packs of ciggies ( jeepers - now I hope my kids aren't reading this either ) 

The ribbon loop at the top peeps through the wrapping to give me someting to hang them on ....

 ... my sweet little copper tinsel Christrmas tree from Paperchase , which just fits on my desk.

Four done , 6 more to go .

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Is life too short for adult colouring books ?

Aside from the rather dubious description ( doesn't adult always imply something a little raunchy ? ) is this new craze just that or is it here to stay and anyway, haven't we got better things to do with our time ?

I find myself occasionally lured towards them and I think I may even have bought one once. I then realise that, in the scheme of things, haven't I got a year's worth of ironing to do and aren't there some toilets that need cleaning somewhere in the house ?

As it's Christmas, I did a little online investigating -  Window (or rather Mac) shopping rather than actually buying and came up with my three favourite titles should I ever find myself laid up in hospital for a month in traction only able to move my arms and within grasping distance of a boxed set of Caran D'Ache.

First on the list has to be The Liberty Colouring book - sold out at ( oh come on surely that should be dot - is nothing sacred ? ) amazingly despite its hefty price tag but hilariously available second hand on Amazon as 'used' . Does that mean we get to have a laugh at someone's feeble attempts at colouring before they decided to sell it on ?

The seller is probably like me - felt compelled to buy one to see what all the fuss was about then ditched the idea after ten minutes of going hopelessly over the lines.

The next offering is this jokey little title - destined to be great stocking filler but should be appearing in the charity shop windows by the first week of January 2017.

As the blurb reads on the inside cover - there must be something very satisfying , if you've had the day from hell, in sitting down with a clutch of felt pens colouring in the word a***hole.

Evidently keen to squeeze every last drop of spin-off merchansiing potential from this series. Presumably requires scented pencils ?

Frankly I'd rather ...

  • give LIberty's a wide berth ( over-priced, over crowded and now run by an American FFS)  
  • articulate the word a***hole at a deserving case rather than colour it in ( would that have to be brown ? )
  • go buy a shed load of donuts rather than salivate at an intricate outline drawing of a croquembouche or whatever it's called 
.... than shell out hard earned cash for any of these but it was fun looking all the same.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Apologies for absence

I got locked out of my own blog for forgetting my password ... but I'm back !

Friday, 7 October 2016

Personal Statement

Two words likely to strike a note of terror in the hearts of any parent of a child applying to university. I use the word 'child' advisedly as they are on the brink of adulthood, teetering on that precipice of maturity and yet they still want a hug, have a penchant for sweets and maybe haven't quite been able to discard their favourite stuffed toy from childhood.

I have two options with regard to the writing of this thing that has taken on the portent of a 'make or break' , once in a lifetime opportunity to realise their dreams or have their hope dashed. Should I leave my boy to his own devices, after all , the clue is in the word 'personal' or should I wade in, all guns blazing with suggested templates, a proof reading manual at the ready and a head full of what I think it should contain ? Those who know me well will have guessed the answer and yet as I sit here attempting a draft version of my own, I realise how daunting the task must be to a seventeen year old.

I know for a fact that any suggestions I make will be taken as a thinly veiled attempt at maternal, domineering interference. I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place - I know it well, I've spent many hours here over the years.

I'm eagerly awaiting his first draft then I plan on hitting the amazon ' How to crack the Personal Statement Nightmare' bookshelf... or the off licence dependent on outcome.

Friday, 23 September 2016

To keep or not to keep ...

... I'm referring to books. Three years ago DH removed all of my books from the three expansive bookcases lined up in our hallway and dumped them unceremoniously on the kitchen floor to make room for a monster of a model boat he'd inherited.

Three years later and my books, which scattered to the 4 corners of the house as a consequence, remain gathering dust and feeling unloved. Admittedly, the children's encyclopaedias, bought in the nineties, are a tad out of date and the volumes of science books merely hinted at the imminent likelihood of mobile phones ( the size of bricks no doubt) . The literature texts are as valid now as they ever were Shakespeare will be relived to hear but I'm wondering whether the Ideal Homes Book of Soft Furnishings with its lavish photographs of swags and festoon blinds ( remember them ? ) should be consigned to the bin or made into ironic greetings cards.

Decision made. They're all off to the charity shop. I do all my research on the internet now, once read, I pass on fiction to friends and I never will get around to reading , let alone understanding anything Stephen Hawking has ever written . The Dorling Kindersley Book of Trucks was a passing whim for my boys and as for that ruddy Times Atlas of the World which was impossibly outsized for any bookshelf I've ever owned, I will be glad to get shot of it.

I can't quite bring myself to chuck out my Mary Berry cookery books though so they will have to find a niche in the kitchen . Some things are, after all , sacred.

Box one of about fifty. The irony of the title of a book wedged over on the right hand side was not lost on me - Don't Throw it Away - was it trying to tell me something ?

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Careful what you wish for

I was going to call this post ' The Poldark Effect - Semi- Naked Torsos' ( scroll down for self-explanatory photo )  but thought I might attract unwanted attention . Instead I went with the far safer " Careful What You Wish For '

I was awoken at an ungodly hour yesterday by the most ear-splittingly loud noise. The tree fellers ( there were actually three fellas as it happened ) had arrived to pollard the beautiful trees in our road. From experience  I now realise that you have to make friends with the enemy, so I went and offered them a cup of tea . Three teapots, several jugs of iced water and a couple of rounds of cheese and ham sandwiches later ( it was hot and thirsty work in 32 degree heat ) , I idly enquired about what might happen to some of the larger trunks as they'd also felled a couple of dying trees. I was told they'd be sent off to a Bio-Mass fuel plant in France. Shame, I wondered aloud.

I showed them a couple of tree trunks that I'd acquired over the years ( thanks Kate and Emma ) to use as side tables, garden stools and cat scratching posts and asked that if they ever had a little chunk of weed going spare, I'd be happy to give it a home.

Look what I woke up to this morning ...

The lads ( my new best friends ) had turned up on our doorstep with a special delivery just for me -           and were standing by for me to choose and to to cut a bespoke piece on my instructions. Bless their bronzed and rippling six packs - did I mention they were rather fit ?

The local neighbourhood cats turned up to see what all the fuss was about and Jenny chose the gnarliest , knobbliest scratching post she'd ever laid her little kitten eyes upon. Then they carried it down the side of the house ( all 80kg of it ) and placed it on the patio for me (stopping only briefly to modestly replace their T shirts) for me to take their photo - well you can't miss a ( near ) Poldark moment now can you ?

Thanks chaps for flexing those muscles  being so kind.

Friday, 19 August 2016

SMoasting Open Season

It's only a day after the A level results came out but already the Facebook Smoasters ( Social Media Boasters ) are out in droves shoving their children's multiple A* grades in those less fortuntates' faces.

What happened to that very British trait called modesty ? It's fine to share your glorious news with your family via phone calls, private texts, letters or emails but why the hell would you want to rub those whose dreams lie in tatters' noses in the shit ?

These obnoxious people usual accompany their bragging boast with a picture of a glass of celebratory champagne. I do hope they choke on it. I worry for their offspring if this is what their parents are role modelling as an acceptable form of behaviour.

So, my heart-felt congratulations instead are reserved for :

  • All of those students who had an academic mountain to climb 
  • Will doubtless have worked far harder than any of the A* proteges 
  • May not have achieved the giddy heights of academic stardom and yet will have borne their disappointments with far greater stoicism and humility than the A* braggarts would ever have managed
  • The parents who have stood by their struggling children,  provided the shoulders to cry on and the emotional support through their children's years of schooling

Shame on those who felt the need to publicly humiliate those who did not excel on results day, will have known this but felt the need to brag regardless and validate their gene pool of brilliance. Doubtless they will demand their right to celebrate their child's victories but had they paused for a minute to think about the misery and feelings of inadequacy they may have inflicted on others , might they not have realised that their pride can be expressed in more private ways ?  

So, for all those wonderful young men and women whose efforts in the face of adversity may not have been rewarded , you can stand on the higher moral ground and be certain in the knowledge that your achievements are far greater and one day will be rewarded. You have learnt a far greater lesson and will be stronger for it. Be brave, be proud and as Rudyard Kipling once wrote Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it '.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Adult Colouring Books

They sound rather seedy but in fact are the antithesis of anything remotely adult.

Is it just me for whom the appeal of colouring-in is anathema ? I bought this yesterday in Primark  ( and that's a whole other blog post ) .

Needed a beach bag , love elephants , it was as cheap as chips and thought I'd have fun colouring it in with Sharpies. This is supposed to be very calming they  tell me. I've started on the trunk and I'm finding it anything but calming as I panic about the million things I should be doing before we go on holiday which are far higher priority than a spot of colouring in. I'm sure the cats would rather be fed, the plants watered, the lights set on auto-timer, the milk cancelled, the email auto message set to "I'm somewhere much nicer than my office, don't expect a reply to this email " ... but no, I'm debating whether to go with lime or mint green on my elephant's toe-nails.

Think I'll leave it to the younger generation. At my age I really should know better.

Incidentally,  the fact that I've found time to post this proves that I have elevated the art of procrastination to an art-form ... anything but packing.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Holiday packing

Anyone got this sussed ? Let me in on your secrets please.

I have a very very very low attention threshold which is why I started packing 5 minutes ago and now I'm on here typing. A friend of mine told me she leaves her packing until 2 hours before she has to leave - that way it can only take 2 hours. I'd still be wondering which suitcase to take.

Capsule wardrobe is another phrase I often hear. If I looked like a capsule ( which I don't ) that may work for me but as I look like an over-ripe watermelon , a small and discrete collection of chic co-ordinating must-haves is a big no no for me. My big knickers alone take up half my suitcase. This year I have bought new tropical colours in the underpants department which I have not worn yet , believing that brand new underwear will be a delightful change from the ropey old washed out, frayed knicker elastic variety I usually end up bringing. This could prove disastrous if I discover mid outward bound flight that they are not up to the job.

So, on to luggage. I'll be checking in one case. I call it a case. It is actually a squished up tote-bag cum backpack thing that husband encouraged me to buy. It works fine for the boys who will fill theirs with 2 pairs of pants ( between them) unsuitable footwear ( cannot convince them that heavy, waterlogged, winter-warmth skate shoes are a bad idea on a beach holiday) . Youngest will insist on bringing socks despite 30 degree temperatures and eldest will forget all vital meds including inhaler which will involve an emergency, last minute, highly expensive doctors visit for a private prescription. They may remember to bring a pair of swimming trunks but will also attempt to squeeze in a lifetime's supply of assorted hair gels and will wonder why no-one brought goggles for them.

My SUTBCBP thing ( see full description above )  meanwhile will be jammed with emergency first aid kits , flippers, snorkel masks, books which every else will commandeer because they won't like the ones they've brought with them, spare headphones as one or all of theirs will be left on the plane/airport/ car on the way to the airport, snacks as they'll refuse the in-flight meal and end up starving and cranky ( a bad combination even when you have access to a fridge ) , mosquito repellant devices ( battery operated , wristbands, plug-in, set light to variety , spray aerosol, roll-on, cream , gel and  tablets ) badly fitting brand new knickers, optimistically sized swimsuits and diarolyte ( learnt from experience ) .

It's such a joy to go on holiday isn't it ? So, I'd better get off here and go resume packing duties. I have just enough room left to shoehorn in 3 pairs of goggles and a near empty inhaler.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Swimwear shopping

Enough said , in fact the less the better. I think there is something called body dysmorphia where you think you're enormous but you're actually very slender. I have the opposite.  I came out of TK Maxx with a clutch of swimsuits in size 14 ... all of which will be going back tomorrow. I managed to lose my boobs completely whilst trying on one in particular. I eventually discovered them poking out of the armholes in amongst swathes of dislodged foam padding, presumably designed to flatter your silhouette but achieving the opposite. One was a halter neck - a brave move I hear you say ... or stupid. In order to secure my boobs inside the swimsuit, I'd have had to have tied the neck so tight that I may have appeared bent double - not a good look. One had ' high legs ' . What are these ? Whatever they are, my legs are clearly not high. Lumpy with cellulite perhaps but not high . Do they make polo necked swimsuits. Someone should .

The battle of the bulge as dear Terry Wogan used to call it , was lost to the victory of stash shopping though - about 10 : nil in fact.

And so here's what I found to cheer me up. Good to see that Tx Maxx is back on the scrapbooking trail again - get on down to your nearest branch ( but not Kew Retail Park which now has a large dent in it's stock ) .

Bought several of these for my more attentionally challenged students .

And this little bargain pack for only £3.99 in a tres chic shade of french navy - one pack of the enamel shapes would have cost that alone. I love the vellum sheets especially.

Yes - that is rose gold you see before you . A perennial favourite of mine and you can never have enough file folders.

A smattering of My Minds Eye Market Street loveliness in a collection I missed a couple of years ago so was pleased to remake my acquaintance with it . I'm planning on making a whole bunch of cards with this little lot. What about that gorgeous map paper in the grey, gold and blush pink colours - swoon. I'm not madly fond of brads but they were too much of a bargain to resist and go so well with the paper pad even though they're all from different ranges ( Just Sayin' and Niche ) .

My favourite ever woodgrain papers in 6x6 format which I have bought before but have used up entirely and some snazzy gold glitter stickers from My Minds Eye.

And finally this little gem .... which is holding my all time most favourite nail colour by Essie called Penny Talk, although I may requisition it for my Stickles ... or might I even have to buy the entire collection of Ranger's Enamel Accents coming soon - now there's a thought to banish the swimwear blues. I shall just have to swim naked on my holiday - not a good visual with which to leave you !

Thursday, 14 July 2016

I can't be trusted to make a cake ...

... without consuming more calories by licking out the bowl ( twice as I burnt the first one ) than just having a great wedge of the cake once baked . Flipping good I have to say but the scales are now protesting.

Salted caramel chocolate cake for Max's Seventeenth birthday which requires not one , not two, not even three but 4 whopping bars of Green and Black's Salted Caramel Chocolate and that doesn't include the bar I had to buy to check it was OK . I did get some exercise in beforehand though - picking up the cake on it's stand - it weighs a ton.

Now he's seventeen , the race is on ( no speeding please )  to pass his driving test ASAP . Couldn't resist making him this card . He was inseparable from his Little Tikes Cozy Coupe when he was little.
Obviously a sign of things to come. He will absolutely hate me for posting this photo of him making a silly face but I take my duties as a parent to embarrass him at every opportunity very seriously.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Hey Little Magpie - July Blog Post

Up on the Hey Little Magpie Blog today - three new layouts featuring Elle's Studio Sunny Days Collection. let's face it ... we all need a little more sunshine in our lives right now !

Sunday, 3 July 2016

The Armed Man

Just returned from a performance of Karl Jenkins' The Armed Man at the Royal Albert Hall , conducted by the man himself, to commemorate those who died in the Battle of the Somme. It was impossible to listen to the performance without shedding a tear . It is such a poignant piece but in honour of such sacrifice, all the more moving.

I had to stop myself from singing aloud as we left and walked out into brilliant sunshine which was  a huge bonus. After such a tumultuous week, it was a real joy to find ourselves in the heart of London, celebrating life and all to has to offer. Nothing quite like music to work it's magic and soothe the soul.

If you've never heard this work before, feast your ears on the Benedictus here.

Friday, 1 July 2016

The perfect end to the perfect week ...

Husband off to view ( another ) money pit  manopause car and driving halfway across the fecking country to view it. Trying to hold it together here with back to back Uni visits and now realising the cause of his reluctance to bother with a trip to Bournemouth Uni tomorrow. Why waste time on your son's prospective future career and education prospects when you can go and stick your head under the bonnet of some rust bucket of a classic sports car that some bloke is trying to shift post the ' catastrof**k ' that is Britain, post Brexit ?

Can the week get any better ?

Malcolm Tucker for PM , incidentally.

Wise words , sadly too late.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

I have a plan ...

... well someone has to.

Just over half the country turned into armchair experts overnight last Friday so they obviously know something we don't. Let's ask them to stand for leadership and form a new party. In the absence of their own leader role models having anything sensible to suggest, doubtless they will have all of the answers.

Alternatively bring back Malcolm Fucker Tucker from The Thick of It . If you're feeling robust enough for this , it may give you the only laugh on the block this week, watch and learn how to survive in politics ( ironically he didn't ) . Admittedly I was high on morphine ( legitimate post-op hospital use I hasten to add ) when I last watched it but hey.

Well enough potty mouth for one post, let's get on with the real issue . I've had to wait five full days  for my anger to subside before being able to post this and yes I know I said in my last post that it was all I had to say on the matter but I've been taking lessons from Farage and Johnson ( if they were a firm of lawyers would you use them ? ) and was obviously lying through my teeth.

On the issue of Democracy ( and I was seriously debating there whether to afford it a capital letter ) : This is a term that has become seriously de-valued , along with the pound , over the last week. Ironically , the word ( along with 'majority' ) is derived from the French language via Latin. Democracy is a process which is ongoing in which freedom of speech is not only allowed but freely encouraged. So the next person that over-rules my view or tells me to 'accept' the decision of the majority can go take a hike. Malcom Tucker would have an alternative suggestion. What probably angers me most is that they use it as some kind of trump card as if this proves them right. Cheap politics.

If one more Brexiteer tells me just to " Get on with it " I might suggest they pass that advice on to their own leaders ( surely a misnomer if ever there was one ) to stop passing the buck. Maybe the time to have conceived a strategy might have been before they dragged this country to its financial knees. The Corbyn and Johnson disarray debacle is nothing short of a spectacularly and jaw-droopingly display of incompetence and leaves me speechless - not something that happens often.

So, do the Brexiteers now feel free of the 'shackles' of the EU ? Mob handedly they have managed to create a whole new dimension to this phrase. Our new shackles will have repercussions that will send shockwaves not just through the finical, trade and political institutions but will affect millions of innocents who will now have no say whatsoever on their fate, their well-being or their safety. 

I can tolerate ( just ) the derisory view that our fellow Europeans must now have of Britain as the laughing stock of Europe that looked the gift-horse in the mouth, I can tolerate ( with some pain ) the economic free fall, I can tolerate ( mustering all the patience of a saint ) that the Levers will wish to taunt and gloat and I can tolerate the dumb naivety of the "get on with it " brigade but what I cannot tolerate is the continued ignorance, back-stabbing, lying, cowardice and incompetence of those who will now take the reins in ( and out ) of Parliament.

Friday, 24 June 2016

.... and this is all I'm going to say on the matter ...

.... £250 billion to shore up the economic freefall we're now experiencing. All I can say is, that's a hell of a lot of teachers, NHS beds and pensions. I wonder if Farage can justify that with some more bogus statistics ?

So what do we call ourselves now ? DK - Divided Kingdom ? I wonder if we switch off the country and turn it back on , will it work properly again ?

Thursday, 16 June 2016

You've got to love a good sale

As I flounced out of the house this afternoon, complaining bitterly ( like a stuck record ) that everyone in our family treats the house like a re-fuelling pit-stop - somewhere to have their clothes laundered and their bellies filled - it struck me that sometimes you have to stop doing everything for everyone and do something for yourself.

Armed with this wisdom , I set off for the shops with husband's credit card and a renewed vigour for retail therapy. It always helps and even more so now that I've lost 2 stone in weight and can almost wear the sort of clothes that 'normal' people do. This means I don't have to get down on my knees and trawl through the bottom rack, to the very back of the rail where you find the size 20s lurking. Clearly they're an affront to humanity so they need to be buried out of sight and as the fatties such as myself obviously bring on their weight problems themselves, we should be made to suffer for our excesses and made to wear black shapeless sacks for eternity ... oh and struggle past the size 6s and 8s to find that XXXl garment we've always dreamed of wearing.

First stop Mint Velvet - skinny jeans ( well skinny in my book , obviously they'll still be regarded as obscenely large if they're any more than a size 12 ... which they were .... slightly ... OK a size 14 )  - check.

Cos - a new label for me although I'm not sure about their slightly androgynous look - however I wasn't going to let the sumptuous smoke grey silk top I bought stay on the shelf - check.

H&M - more affordable but still uber stylish ( we are talking about someone who's been disguised in drab mumsy lycra for the last 5 years after all ) - a silk and cashmere summer weight sweater with a deep V plus a lovely batik style stroppy ( oops  Freudian ) strappy top for the beach - check.

And whilst there I couldn't stop myself from hoovering up these lovely shimmering rose gold lovelies. A leather braided headband, a tassel thingy (Gawd knows where I'm going to hang it ... and no my nipples are too far south for such glamour ) , a cute pair of shell pink grosgrain bows , a bronze nail varnish, a rose gold sunglasses case and a shimmery set of smoky eye shadows and I still got change from a £20 note.

Oh yes, hell hath no fury like a woman pissed off with her layabout menfolk.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Hey Little Magpie Blog Post for June

I've just uploaded my layouts to the Hey Little Magpie blog
Banish those grey skies and pop a bit of colour into your pages.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Hey Little Magpie Blog posts for May

Over on the Hey Little Magpie blog three layouts for May using Pinkfresh Studio's Life Noted collection.

Here's a sneak peek ...

Monday, 9 May 2016

Hmmm ... where were all the girls ?

I spent the day in Cambridge on Saturday at Clare College, attending the Faculty of Mathematics Open Day. It's been a bit of a pipe dream of mine to continue my education when the nest becomes empty which may be as soon as next year. Where better to study that at the college that bears my name ( albeit a different spelling but that's a minor detail ) and has the most fabulous gardens, the prettiest bridge , one of the best choirs and a dining hall where you could pretend you were at Hogwarts. Shallow I know but then life can be and I certainly am.

I'd been smitten by the place when I'd visited Cambridge earlier in the year and decided there and then to apply. Can you teach an old dog new tricks ? Well, most mature students may forget first principles of mathematics if they haven't practised them in a while but as I'm fondly acquainted with them on a daily basis, why not ?

Funny that when I was at University, the last place I'd want to spend a sunny day was in the library but now, with the benefit of maturity and a smidgeon of wisdom, I couldn't imagine anything lovelier than to immerse myself in the world of academia and lose myself to a day of Calculus. There's something quite beautiful and absorbing about Mathematics that enables you to block out the irritations of family life like ' What's for dinner ?' and ' How come we haven't got any peanut butter? ' or even ' You should have woken me, now I'm going to be late '  as if everything and anything is always your fault. Time to call my own agenda.

My first observation on arrival at the college was the buzzing that was emanating from the helicopter mothers hovering nearby their offspring , eager to ingratiate themselves with the professors from the Mathematics department and desperate to glean anything that may amount to an advantage for their admissions process.

My second observation, sadly, was that in a room full of foppish students, there were only three girls ... and I was one of them - can hardly call myself a 'girl' these days but I was sorely disappointed that our gender wasn't better represented.

After an entertaining introduction from the Admissions Tutor, the parents were asked to leave ( which they did reluctantly ) at which point I must have stuck out like a sore thumb as the average age was probably 17. There followed a lecture by the Director of Studies in Mathematics , who asked for volunteers to solve a variety of mathematical conundrums which he presented on a flip chart.

Emboldened by the fact that I was able to answer them, I decided to ask him a question at the end of the session. His answer to my query as to whether they have or have had any mature students apply to study Mathematics was a rather curt and monosyllabic  " No ". That's me told then.

I suppose there's always a first time for everything but it stuck me that there was a lost opportunity for them to acknowledge that mature students still have something to offer, are less likely to drop out and may actually be capable of a spot of differentiation or algebra here and there. Sadder still was the fact that my quick head count of those present revealed that less than 5% were female. What's going on in schools ? Is Mathematics still a male domain . Surely not ? Come on girls get your calculators out and let's give the men a run for their money.