Monday, 25 May 2020

After nearly 10 weeks ....

... eldest son has moved out as the lockdown eases, having been separated from his girlfriend who has been having to shield. She'll be joining him next week once her quarantine week period comes to an end.

Not just out but out out as Micky Flannigan would say. They won't be down the road but a little further afield but it might as well be Alaska as far as I'm concerned, as the separation pain feels so acute it left me feeling breathless ... but not in a Coronavirus kind of way.

We have enjoyed over 2 months' worth of the family being reunited under one roof. Yes, there have been a few tensions and a couple of tiffs which is only to be expected under the circumstances but it felt as if I'd been given a second chance to have my 'babies' back. And now eldest has flown the nest (again) and youngest will do likewise in a week or two.

I didn't like 'normal' and I won't be looking forward to getting back to it. I liked our new normal but it's all change again and that's not something I'm particularly good at.

Saying I feel directionless would be an understatement. It's as if I've flung my compass out of the window. Not just out .... but out out.

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Haven't felt like writing lately ...

... haven't much felt like doing anything lately. Careful what you wish for.

I now have all the time in the world but can't settle to anything. Can't read a book, watch a film, follow a recipe, hold a conversation.

We're into the third week of lockdown and the honeymoon period has abruptly ended, if there ever even was one. Nerves are frayed, anxiety levels are running high and nothing seems to matter anymore. Sleep has become deprived, patience is running low and tempers running high.

But lets keep things in persepctive. Nearly one and a half million people have contracted this killer virus of which nearly 100,000 people have died. They have died alone and will be stored in a makeshift morgue becuase there isn't enough room to store their bodies or bury them all properly. Their funeral can't be attended by more than 2 people. So, all things considered, We are still the lucky ones. Armies of medics and frontline workers are risking their own lives to save those of complete strangers and all people can moan about is having to stay at home and running out of fresh milk.

I suppose for the first time in our lives, ironically, we're really living. This is for real.

So, stay home people.

Friday, 20 March 2020

I'm all for the science ... but ...

... I'm veering towards the fanciful theory that all of this has happened for a reason and someone or something is reponsible for inflicting this virus on mankind.

It's no co-incidence that we were heading for self-destruction of our beutiful planet. The rainforests had been ravaged, Australia burned, flooding was widepread across the globe, povery and disease were rife and then along came Coronavirus to remind us that enough was enough.

So here we are. We brought this on ourselves. We have no-one to blame but ourselves.

Tough isn't it ?

Saturday, 14 March 2020

The C Word

No, not cancer - the 'other' C word.

I've just watched someone walk up the driveway and heard the shove of a leaflet through the letterbox. I watched him walk away whilst wiping the snot from his nose. No doubt the leaflet will be slimed with his germs. This is how it's passed on. It feels a little like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, all of our hand sanitising for our lives whilst others treat the hygiene precautions with disdain.

A man in M&S yesterday was licking his fingers before handling assorted food items on a shelf. I stood horrified and considered reporting him to staff before shuffling away and deciding not to buy and container salads there ever again.

A face masked oriental stood on the platform at Olympia underground station, pulled his mask aside and gobbed on the platform.

We would have viewed these incidents with disdain a few months ago but now I look on them as criminal acts of heinous contempt. A chance encounter with a slimed salad pot on a supermarket shelf, an innocuous leaf through a delivered pizza menu leaflet, the sole of your trainers engrained with a stranger's saliva, taken off in your hallway when you return from a trip up to London. This is how it happens.

I'm not tempting fate. I'm staying at home. I don't care what people think. I'm not other people. I'm me and frankly, I'm slightly terrified.

Friday, 10 January 2020


... as in back pain. Been flat on mine all week thanks to some troublesome disc problem. Hideous doctor who wouldn't listen to a word I had to say but at least I came away with a lengthy prescription for some killer pain relief. Dimazepam anyone ? Trouble is they don't seem to make a jot of difference. Should I be worried ? I usually subscribe to the school of 'If it hurts, I'm probably dying' but I can't summon the energy to get worried about it. Pain is debilitating.

I am at least getting my money's worth out of my subscription to Masterclass. I have now learnt how to compose a film score, write poetry , churn out a best-seller and knock up some French patisserie. The pain is still there though.

Friday, 13 December 2019

Away in A Manger

Anyone else blub at the opening bar of Away in a Manger?  Just enjoyed a blub fest. Gets me every time - combine it with a Salvation Army brass band and I'm lost in a pool of messy tears.

The Pre-Christmas Low Spot

It's as traditional as holly and mistletoe. It comes around the middle of December and is usally sparked by some form of retail exasperation. In this case it was the fact that M&S's Coquilles St Jacques were no longer available to order online. I tell this story against myself. It's laughable.

Who gives a monkey's about the unavailabilty of some posh food ? A truly 1st world problem and puts things in persepctives. Why might this spark a bad mood ? I have a theory

It's more to do with disappointment in youself ; the realision that you've been suckered, hook line and sinker into a sink-hole of pretentious retail propaganda. I can't believe I let myself down so badly. Personally, I'd rather eat a bag of Walkers Ready Salted and a tub of Quality Street in any event. In fact I may just do that.

Incidentally, it wasn't just the CSJ ... it was really all about the fact that the Woodland Buch de Noel had also sold out ! Those little spotted Fly Agaric decorations were the cutest. Why anyone would want to stick them on a chocolate cake defeats me, but hey , it's Christmas.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Blogging again ...

... after several months. I've missed you blog, it's nice to be back.

Such a lot has happened so there's no better place to start than with today.
There are 4 teenagers downstairs - aged 19. One of them is mine. They'd been gaming all night, then spread themselves across the various sofas in the house for a couple of hours sleep.

I was going to steer clear but I couldn't help myself. Old habits die hard. I had to come down and make a ton of pancakes and fix a ton of toppings to go with them. It was just like old times , with one difference. They'd all grown up . One year at university has turned them into young men but the tales are still hilarious, their appetites huge and the laughter just as plentiful.

So as I wait out the week ( 3 days and counting ) until 'U' day when my own teen sets off to university having taken a gap year, I yearn for all those old play dates when they'd empty the fridge and pantry like a plague of locusts and leave a mountain of trainers piled up in the hallway. I would feign slight irritation but I loved every minute of it.

The talk around the breakfast table was ... worst hangovers , cheapest quickest meals to cook in Uni halls and why you don't need to bring a collander - a long running joke in our family. I've baked a batch of brownies which I'll cool in the fridge until they resemble chocolate fudge and then send them of with a small parcek which will have been devoured by the time they reach their respective homes.

Trying not to think about hwat an empty nest is going to feel like next week but it's not working.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Good Friday is not that good

Well it may have been for Jesus but so far it's poured with rain and the one place I wanted to visit was closed and the church I went to in order to light a candle had locked its doors ( on Good Friday - really ?) and I narrowly averted getting a parking tocket because apparently Good Friday doesn't count as a Bank Holiday - I beg to differ.

I need a project so I've taken on what I rather grandly refer to as a laundry room - otherwise known as a pokey cupboard off the kitchen. Kirstie Allsop would be relieved that I hadn't committed the heinous Dometic Goddess crime of having my washing appliances actually in the kitchen - God forbid.

You'd be amazed what has come out of that pokey little hell home or maybe you wouldn't because everyone has a Pandora's boxful of crap lurking somewhere in the house where they stash things they never use but can't bear to part with ... don't they ?

23 vases
2 microwavable neck pillow things
201 odd socks
3 fly swatters
1 mop bucket I haven't used in 20 odd years
1 candle making kit
Assorted bundles of garden rafia
1 picnic raclette set - oh yes we raclette the hell out of cheese every time we go on a picnic
8 bottles of various stain removers none of which have ever removed a single stain
21 underwater battery operated tealights
17 plastic trays
4 First Aid kits but I can never find a plaster when I need one
1 microwave egg poacher
2 laundry bags for fancy lingerie about as mush use as a chocolate teapot
1 Chocolate Teapot
1 Turkish coffee percolator
3 bottles of unctious liquid that came with some hideous stained glass diffuser contraption
Aforementioned Stained glass thing
A 3 tier wire cupcake display piece of nonsense
2 flocked black crows
5m of grimey vinyl tablecovering
3 , yes 3, boxes of cocktail sticks ....

On that last item, when did I ever think I would need around 300 cocktail sausages spiked ?

Feeling overwhelmed, I've come upstairs to escape, wondering when we'll ever be able to eat at our kitchen table again which is now piled high with sundry items. I've filled 3 binbags with junk and will be going back in to tackle the socks when I've written this. This may be the longest blog entry I've ever written. I've already googled Pinterest for Laundry Room inspiration which left me quivering with regret. They'd all been Cath Kidstoned to death and it's doubtful whether any laundry ever takes place in any of them. Don't go there if you don't want to spend the rest of the Bank Holiday wallowing in Pinterest envy - and yes Mr Parking Warden ... Good Friday IS a Bank Holiday actually.

Before and after photos to follow.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Spring Cleaning

Why on earth do we feel compelled to clean out our nests at this time of year ? I could set my clock by it.

I'm starting in the bedroom. The ghastly clothes have gone ( 3 bin bags full ) and now I've started on accessories. Down to a handful of bags ( smart, casual, cross-body, beach and shopper ) just 3 hats ( I never wear them anyway ) and now I've strated on scarves. What's with the scarves ? Ghastly chiifon ones, most I've never worn, masters of disguise ( big boobs ) , things with tassels and pom poms hanging off them ... the list is endless. Anything that was grey of beige ( greige ? ) has gone too. I've filled another binbag.

It's not as if I've ever worn any of them once, maybe twice.

Don't even start me on PJs. Christmas ones ( one day a year for goodness sake) , slinky ones, fluffy ones, ones that look like they belong to a 14 year old. I'm running out of bin bags.

Next stop wrapping paper. I've decided that only things associated with going to bed and waking up should be in the bedroom so that includes, dressing, hair drying, make-up and bedtime reading material. Why then is the bedroom now a multi-purpose sewing room, wrapping station, unwanted cushion depository and harbinger of boxes for items that might breakdown and need returning to the manufacturer ? Not to mention abandoned hobbies like calligraphy ( one of these days ) silversmithing, picture framing, quilting and beading.

Books have got out of control ever since DH dispensed with our bookshelves in favour of an antique boat in a glass cabinet that takes up half of the hallway. Coats have gone downstairs onto the coathooks, empty spectacle cases of which I have amassed about a dozen have gone in the bin. The emergency present drawer remains , used only last week when DH asked ( at 8am in the morning ) if I had any 'spare' gifts for a member of his staff who was into writing and travel. I came up trumps with a Moleskine Travelers Notebook and a wallet full of stylish pencils. And yes, I was able to provide an emergency wimple for a friend off to a Tarts and Vicars party without a costume and an outsized comedy sombrero when I needed to dress up as a Mexican bandit, all hauled from the emergency dressing up box that lurks in a bedroom cupboard drawer.

NO MORE . Bedrooms are for sleeping in. They are not a cabinet full of curiosities.

So, the next time I need a grey/beige, life sized rabbit costume or a tasselled and pom-pom adorned scarf with matching beach bag and I find that the cupboard is empty, I will only have myself to blame.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Never done things by halves

This year I'm turning Sixty - it was less scary to write it as a word rather than in numbers. I'm not at all perturbed by this. On the contrary, I say ' Bring It On ! ' In fact, I now realise that I've always expressed my age as that of the year in which I turn that age so I'm always one year ahead of the game. That's just my way of getting used to it. If you say it often enough you start to believe it and as I'm a September girl, I have a nine month run up to actually turning that age ,which seems to be enough time to get my head around it. So in fact, I've been feeling psychologically sixty for about a month now.

So it's the biggie. I hope there are many more but I'm realistically aware of the fact that as bodies age, their ability to remain supple, mobile and flexible dwindles - an inversely proportional problem ( I always see things in mathematical terms - an occupational hazard) . That's why I embarked on a training regime 3 months ago and have not only lost an impressive amount of weight but I've also started to slow down the ageing process ... up to a point.

There's no point in dealing with the physical aspects only, so I'm also embarking on a year of activities to nourish my soul and mind. It's also an excuse to start a new notebook as if I ever needed one ... excuse that is , not notebook, of which I have plenty.

So, here's the first item on the list so far ...

  • Re-ignite my Scottish roots. This will include something to do with haggis on Burns Night and a visit to the Hebrides ( Outer not Inner.  Remember, I don't do things by halves ) . Why travel half way round the world to see turquoise waters when it's right on our doorstep here in the UK? I've always had a fantasy to rent a croft and re-invent myself as an Islander ever since watching Ring of Bright Water.  You know the way some films just have that effect on you ? You watch it and feel forever changed. This is also the sort of pipe dream statement that makes a Western Islander hopping mad and rightly so. I'm such a Londoner really.  This is what I'm expecting in my head ....

This may be closer to reality ...

More to follow... watch this space.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Welcome 2018

I am starting this year's musings 3 stone lighter and with a new resolve to take better care of myself.
Thanks to Cathy Zielske, all round good egg and funny lady, I have signed up for Fit 2018 - her online course designed to get you taking care and owning your helath - both physical and mental. Anything that gets you moving, crafting, writing and taking note of what's important in life gets my vote.

This is a big year - well aren't they all ? Well yes, but this year in particular is going to be HUGE. For starters I get to celebrate a pretty significant birthday. Eldest beloved son has just left home to set up a whole new life with his lovely girlfriend. Youngest beloved son is embarking on a trip of a lifetime to Tanzania to spread some love in the world and will then be leaving home in the Autumn to start his University adventure studying a subject which is so dear to his heart - music. The tragic loss of a very dear friend at the end of last year prompted him to seize life with both hands and make every moment count. Soemthing we should all be doing but somehow we get sidetracked from it by the minutiae of everyday life and all its tiresome details.

I aim to spend less time doing chores, cleaning and superfluous activities . With this in mind I am gently de-cluttering my personal posessions down to a capsule wardrobe ( 5 tops , 5 bottoms, one coat and just my undies ... big pants will have to go ) . My kitchen cupboards will contain wholesome and nutritious real foods and .... ( this is the BIG one ) I am aiming to reduce my spending dramatically to include only food, essential household items which will support the streamlining of my life. This will include a re-cycling bin, some basic fitness equipment and books - and that's all. Yeah right ... no really ... this is the plan. Let's see how much I manage to acheive.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Found this online - something in Sainsburys Gift Catalogue for Christmas called Seventh Heaven - a Basketful of Goodies . Sounds nice and natural ... until you read the ingredients...


  • Red Hot Sauna: Propylene Glycol, Zeolite, Kaolin, Glycerin, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit), Peel Oil, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Cereus Grandiflorus (Cactus) Flower Extract, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Flower Extract, Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Flower Extract, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Peel Extract, Juglans Nigra (Black Walnut) Shell Extract, Cetyl Hydroxyethylcellulose, Parfum (Fragrance), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Isopropyl Myristate, Limonene, CI 16035 (Red 40 Lake), 
  • Passion Peel Off: Aqua (Purified Water), Polyvinyl Alcohol, Alcohol Denat. (Plant Origin), PPG-1-PEG-9 Lauryl Glycol Ether, PVP, Glucose (Sugar), Parfum (Fragrance), Xanthan Gum (Natural Thickener), Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Fruit Extract, Glycerin (Plant Origin), Propylene Glycol, Tocopheryl (Vitamin E) Acetate, Vitis Vinifera (Red Grape) Fruit Extract, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Chloride (Mineral Origin), Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Fruit Extract, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Fruit Extract, Potassium Thiocyanate, Passiflora Incarnate (Passionflower) Flower Extract, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Sorbitol (Plant Origin), Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Seed Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera (Lotus Blossom) Flower Extract, Potassium Sorbate, Lactoperoxidase (Milk Origin), Glucose Oxidase (Sugar, Origin), Sorbic Acid (Plant Origin), Citric Acid (Plant Origin), CI 16035 (Red 40), CI 42090 (Blue 1), 
  • Fresh Feet: Alcohol Denat. (Plant Origin), Aqua (Purified Water), Tapioca Starch, Parfum (Fragrance), Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Menthol (Cooling Agent), Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Glycerin (Plant Origin), Mentha Vindis (Spearmint) Leaf Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Limonene*, Linalool, Vaccinium Angustifolium (Blueberry) Fruit Extract, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, CI42090 (Blue 1), 
  • Very Berry: Aqua (Purified Water), Glyceryl Stearate, SE (Plant Origin), Stearic Acid (Plant Origin), Glycol Stearate (Plant Origin), Glycerin (Plant Origin), Bentonite (Natural Clay), Glyceryl Stearate (Plant Origin), Coco-Glucoside (Plant Origin), Prunus Persica (Peach) Kernel Oil, Mica (Mineral Origin), PEG-100 Stearate, Phenoxyethanol, Xanthan Gum (Plant Origin), Propylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, Parfum (Fragrance), Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Fruit Extract, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Fruit Extract, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Fruit Extract, Vaccinium Angustifolium (Blueberry) Fruit Extract, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid (Plant Origin), CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), CI 15850 (Red 7 Lake), CI 42090 (Blue 1 Lake), 
  • Manuka Honey Peel Off: Aqua (Purified Water), Polyvinyl Alcohol, PPG-1-PEG-9 Lauryl Glycol Ether, PVP, Phenoxyethanol, Parfum (Fragrance), Propylene Glycol, Xanthan Gum (Natural Thickener), Caprylyl Glycol, Caramel, Mel (Honey), Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Extract, Sorbitol, Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horsechestnut) Seed Extract, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Extract, Vanilla Planifolia (Vanilla) Fruit Extract, Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Flower Extract, Sodium Benzoate, Sorbic Acid, CI 19140 (Yellow 5), CI 14700 (Red 4), 
  • Avocado Oil: Aqua (Purified Water), Bentonite (Natural Clay). Glyceryl Stearate SE (Plant Origin), Stearic Acid (Plant Origin), Glycerin (Plant Origin), Glycol Stearate (Plant Origin), Juglans Regia (Walnut) Shell Powder, Glyceryl Stearate (Plant Origin), Coco-Glucoside (Plant Origin), Mica (Natural Mineral), PEG-100 Stearate, Glucose (Sugar), Xanthan Gum (Natural Thickener), Parfum (Fragrance), Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Chloride (Mineral Origin), Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Flower Extract, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Potassium Thiocyanate, Lactoperoxidase (Milk Origin), Sodium Benzoate, Glucose Oxidase (Sugar Origin), Sorbic Acid, CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide) (Natural Pigment), CI 19140 (Yellow 5), CI 42090 (Blue 1), 
  • Dead Sea Mud Pac: Aqua (Purified Water), Kaolin (Mineral Origin), Glycerin (Plant Origin). Alcohol Denat. (Plant Origin), Glyceryl Stearate SE (Plant Origin), Sodium Citrate, Polysorbate 20 (Mild Cleanser), Maris Sal (Dead Sea Salt), Glucose (Sugar), Citric Acid (Plant Origin), Parfum (Fragrance), Fucus Vesiculosus (Seaweed) Extract, Silk (Dead Sea Mud), Potassium Iodide, Sodium Chloride (Mineral Origin), Potassium Thiocyante, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Lactoperoxidase (Milk Origin), Glucose Oxidase (Sugar Origin), CI 42090 (Blue 1), 
  • Pulped Papaya Rescue: Aqua (Purified Water), Cetearyl Alcohol (Plant Origin), Brassicamidopropyl Dimethylamine (Plant Origin), Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Coco-Caprylate (Plant Origin), Aspartic Acid, Cetearyl Glucoside (Plant Origin), Parfum (Fragrance), Sodium Benzoate, Benzyl Alcohol, Citric Acid, Glycerin (Plant Origin), Carica Papaya (Papaya) Seed Oil, Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B5), Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Lycium Chinense (Goji Berry) Fruit Extract, Potassium Sorbate, Citronellol, Geraniol* Hexyl Cinnamal*, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Limonene*, Linalool*, CI 15985 (Yellow 6), CI 14700 (Red 4), 
  • Cucumber Peel Off: Aqua (Purified Water), Alcohol Denat. (Plant Origin), Polyvinyl Alcohol, PPG-1-PEG-9 Lauryl Glycol Ether, Propylene Glycol, PVP, Glycerin (Plant Origin), Limonene*, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Linalool*, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Tocopheryl (Vitamin E) Acetate, Cereus Grandiflorus (Cactus) Flower Extract, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Fruit Extract, Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Flower Extract, Juglans Regia (Walnut) Shell Extract, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Flower Extract, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Sorbitol (Plant Origin), Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Sorbic Acid (Plant Origin), CI 19140 (Yellow 5), CI 42090 (Blue 1), 
  • Coconut Protein Rescue: Aqua (Purified Water), Cetearyl Alcohol (Plant Origin), Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Brassicamidopropyl Dimethylamine (Pant Origin), Coco-Caprylate (Plant Origin), Aspartic Acid, Parfum (Fragrance), Hydrolyzed Quinoa (Natural Protein Conditioner), Sodium Benzoate, Benzyl Alcohol, Citric Acid, Coumarin*, 
  • Bath Bomb ingredients: Sodium Bicarbonate, Citric Acid, Sodium Sulfate, Pentasodium Triphosphate, Isopropyl Palmitate, Talc, Cellulose Gum, Parfum (Fragrance), Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, PEG-8, Benzyl Benzoate, Hexyl Cinnamal

Shame on you Sainsburys.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

A little reminder ....

....  as to how far I've come. I don't ever want to go back there.

I said that last time but I've learnt a lot since then. I promised myself I would never drift back to the land of baggy, shapeless, stretchy clothes that I thought I could hide behindand I did but never again. Once bitten , twice shy.

I kept this hanger from a dress I bought for a wedding this summer. I looked like an inflated balloon in it. I tried it on again this morning and I couldn't beleive that I'd once filled it. I loved the dress, just hated the size lable. I'm planning on having it taken in once I've reached my goal weight just as a little reminder.

The hanger has gone in the bin.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Good old Sainsbury's

The only thing that pleases me about having to go to the supermarket , is the prospect of checking out what other things they have besides food.

Today I found this adorable stationery range.

A Filofax compatible planner in a very subtle platinum gold finish complete with a 2018 diary, pen loop and credit card holder flap inside. All that for just £6. The wallet that has a treasury tag style closure was a mere £4.

Then I found these in a beuatiful midnight blue and rose gold.


Pencil Case

and Weekly Desk Planner.

The quality is superb. An equal match to anything Kate Spade or the likes could produce and at a fraction of the price. Good old Sainsburys.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Slimmer of the Week

... well chuffed and another shiny sticket for the fridge !

Childish I know but there's nothing like a bit of recognition to make your chest swell ( not that I need that - trying to get my measurements down! )

Only 1.5 lbs away from having lost 10% of my body weight and a mere 3.5 lbs away from 2 whole stone.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

7000 Jars of Beer

Well the name of this shop has a lot to like about it . Had to go inside and check it out . It's only just opened in Kingston - Unit 11 Crown Arcade it says on their busimess card but the website lists the address as 1 Crown Passage - you can't miss it - it will have this lovely sandwich board propped up outside.

What a find . I didn't count the number of beers they stocked but I did take a photo of one of their shelves. Beautifully displayed - real eye candy.

As I'm putting together a beer advent calendar for my husband this year , I feel I may be paying them a visit or three.

But the thing I liked best was their idea of offering beer tasting ... with a tasting cheese plate . Positievly inspired. There are a number of tables and chairs arranged convivially and I'm guessing  they'll have a wealth of advice on offer. better still , they're open until 8pm or 9pm on most evenings - check here first .

It's so important to support local enterprises so pop along and try them out for yourself.

May well see you there. ... oh and I've just seen from their website that they also stock gins and wines ... two more reasons to book a date. I think I may arrange for my 2 sons to take dad out for a tipple- what a nice way to spend an Autumn evening.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Full Nest

Thought I was going to have an empty nest this Autumn but seems like I can't get rid of the boys just yet. Eldest will be moving out soon , I'm guessing, to live with his girlfriend and youngest is taking a Gap Year and will be off to Tanzania with Raleigh International soon. But until then, the fridge will have to remain filled to the brim and assorted clothes will be dropped and left on the bathroom floor.

In the meantime, youngest son's friends are all off to Uni. To remind them of the many happy Pizza and Chocolate Brownie evenings spent round at our house these last few years, I've made them all a box of brownies to take with them ( and a pizza cutter tucked inside the box ) . Loving the sweetest Mama Elephant cat stamps that I used to decorate the tags ... and I bought the self assembly boxes at Ally Pally last weekend. They fit  the 8" x 8" cake tine that baked the brownies perfectly . Love it when a plan comes together.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Another 2.5 lbs off

I've now lost a grand total of one and a half stone in 8 weeks. It must have been the stress of last night ( see previous post ) and the miles of walking from gate to gate at the O2 arena ! Wished I'd been wearing my Fit Bit . I reckon I must have clocked up at least 10 000 steps !

Onward and downward.


I'm wondering if I love this band so much because their name spells FOOD without the D ? Nah , it's becuase they are super awesome beyond belief.

So, rewind to Tuesday 19th September. Eldest son and I emerge from the over-stuffed Jubilee line, blinking, into the September sunshine in Millenium Way , home to the O2. I get that thrill I always do when I'm about to hear live music. Not just any live music ... Foo Fighters Live. Does it get any better ?

The tickets have been pinned to my pinboard these last few months and the countdown to showtime has been agonising but here we are at last. This is the very first item on my bucket list and I can barely contain myself. Eldest son saw them live at Reading . Was I jealous ? Heck yes.

And then it all fell apart at the seams. Denied entry at the door because our tickets, bought through Viagogo ( one of the O2s recommnded partner agencies ) didn't match my ID. Naiively I didn't even realise there was a name on our tickets but there it was in tiny print at the bottom and it wasn't my name.

We weren't the only ones. Hundered of fans were similarly turned away . The whole place was a blubbery mess of sobbing fans incapable of believing that despite Viagogos claims that you will not be turned away if the name on your ticket doesn't match yours, this turned out to be a lie.

Those who know me will also know that "Don't ever take NO for an answer" is my motto ( incidentaally I'd like that on my tombstone ). I can't begin to articulate how indescribably disappointed we were. That word doesn't even come close.

The band were due on stage in 30 minutes. We had to walk the mile perimeter of the whole fecking venue to the Box Office to plead our case ... along with, by now , probably thousands of others in the same boat. The queue was a mile long - not a chance.

People who'd been bought tickets as gifts were also being turned away because they weren't the original purchaser. Groups of fans who'd arrived separately were being turned away because they'd planned to meet their friends ( and also original purchasers ) of their tickets inside the venue and they were already inside and had been told they wouldn't be given re-admission if  they came outside to meet their friends and prove their genuine identity . It was crazy.

The press turned up and took photos of the whole sorry mess. An angry mob had begun to gather and no-one was getting inside becasue of the backlog now of indignant fans who'd been fleeced . The fact that this stipulation had been implemenetd on the night with no prior notice ( despite what some claimed ) was appalling.

By 9pm half the seats inside were empty ... apart of course from all the record company execs and  hospitality freeloaders. At one point, a man in a wheelchair was denied entry because his partner ( whose name was on the tickets as original purchaser ) had used the disabled entrance separately to his partner who wasn't entitled to accompany him as she wasn't disabled , to access his wheelchair poition by the side if the stage. At this point I saw red.

I wasn't going to be bullied by the jobsworth at the gate in the high-viz jacket who was relishing the drama. I refused to move and wasn't going to be intimidated by his threat to have me evicted from the building. Fortunately I wasn't alone and we stood our ground ... a crowd of several hundered started chanting - " Get your manager here NOW ".

With a minute to go they finally relented. Stress levels on a scale of one to ten were about eleven.

So, what's the answer ? O2 management cannot not only endorse but actually operate in partnership with re-sale ticket agencies and then change the goalpost at the last minute. They are only too keen to offload blocks of tickets at a premium to agencies to do theitr selling for them when it suits them.

Get your act together O2 .

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Another 2lbs.

... which brings my total to 16.5 lbs.

Thought I was going to put on (at least ) a pound this week given that we'd had husband's birthday on Friday along with a weekend away with relatives where the home baking , in the form of chocolate cake, flapjacks and plum and almond tart with custard, came thick and fast to the table. Managed to resist absolutely everything and felt very virtuous. Even managed to select a half decent salad at M&S at the motorway services en route.

This is proving to be surprisingly manageable.

Sizzix Bargains

Two things:

  1. I have become addicted to dies  
  2. I didn't know Sizzix offered such amazing bargains in their clearance section
In combination, these two facts proved fatal. I ordered a few items only yesterday and they arrived today.

The Tim Holtz sets of script words were only £3.75 each reduced from £15 and the Framelets set of polaroid frames were only £3 down from £12, That's a whopping saving of over £42.

The  3D Textured Impressions folder wasn't on offer but I'd been waiting for it to be released and it's gorgeous.  Incredibly sturdy and gives a lusciously deep impression.

So ... having saved that much ... what can I go spend it on !?

Thursday, 31 August 2017

First stone off ...

... and boy does it feel good. Haven't noticed many body size changes yet but I did find I kept having to hoik my jeans up the other day. It truly is enlightening to emabark on a weight loss programme , no pun intended. I get quite evangelical about it . I don't need any more encouragement after watching "Embarassing Fat Bodies " last night.

It takes a while to re-adjust but as I've always cooked from scratch, it's not as daunting for me as it must be for others. I never really used to buy many processed foods either so no great deprivation there. Cutting out alcohol is tough and I've been very strict about it because I don'y want to be tempted to lapse. Yes, I have had the ocassional glass of red wine but I've kept it to an absolute minimum. I spend all my 'syns' on good fats like olive oil and avocado . Feeling very virtuous. I just need to stop getting on the scales every five minutes as if I don't trust that the weight will come off. It will. I just need to be patient.

Went window shopping for new clothes yesterday . I have my eye on so many beuatiful things but I may not be squeezing into them just yet so I'm only looking and reminding myself what beutiful brands there are out there. Last time I lost weight I was stoney broke and barely bought a single thread unless it came from a charity shop. Looking forward to having a bit of a pre Christmas splurge in a couple of months time.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Normal for Norfolk ?

The I Spy pocket book to Norfolk ( remember them ? ) would now have to include the following :

Chelsea Tractor
Oh-so designer crumpled linen shirt
Cath Kidston shopper
Any item of clothing from either Joules or Boden
An overpriced crab sandwich ( £12 and upwards - it's a flipping sandwich ! )
Designer Deli
Three times cooked chips ( what's the matter with just once cooked chips ? )
The word 'Gastro' at the top of any pub menu
A £4 carparking ticket even if you only want to stop for 10 minutes.

Taking a pop at Social Stereotypes is easy ( but fair ) game , but the Chelsea-on-Sea brigade take the biscuit , or rather the sea-salt organic shortbread finger no doubt. They hunt in packs and emerge pale-faced from their 4X4s in search of something painted in a neutral Farrow and Ball paint shade.

I realised that when we last took the boys to Norfolk, we were camping, didn't wear linen, had an old banger of a car and wouldn't have paid more than a tenner for a fish and chip supper for all four of us. My how times have changed. I liked the fact that you had to walk at least a mile to get even a glimpse of the sea at low tide - all that fresh sea air . No trip was complete without the purchase of a lurid plastic bucket and a crabbing line , spied hanging from a hook outside the local newsagents' and maybe a cream tea if we were lucky.

The shopping oppurtunities these days are on another level. Surely there are only so many driftwood hearts, sailcloth bags or cashmere throws you can look at without getting shopper's fatigue. I didn't buy a thing. It was all just ' stuff '.

And as for eating, everything had 'gastro' tagged onto it or at least 3 superlative adjectives. A tomato is a tomato isn't it ? The 'Gourmet Norfolk' magazine in the hotel lobby was an exhaustive list of michelin megastars and designer delis. I really only wanted a crab sandwich.

I mustn't complain but I couldn't help feeling a little sorry for Norfolk resdients who have to put up with this invasion of the designer tourists throughout the summer.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Saturday Night

Good grief I hate it with a vengeance.

The teenage years were spent worrying that we didn't have an exciting enough plan and might get caught not going out at all - a heinous crime. The opening music to MOTD still strikes a chord of fear in my heart - that would mean we were either stood up ( or down ) for a night's raving and had to spend the evening in our bedroom listening to sad love songs on Radio Caroline assuming that the rest of our tribe were out furiously partying somewhere whilst Dad was downstairs watching the footy and Mum would be checking her pools coupon. For those of you under 50, none of the above will make sense.

Then there were the early married years where, being married to someone in the TV business, I'd usually end up on my own whilst new husband would be out filming or recording some show or other.

After that there were the early baby years when you'd be knackered and asleep on the sofa by 8pm. The promise of a night in with a bottle of red wine thwarted by the fact that you'd be legless after half a glass, and longing for an hour of sleep in the certain knowledge that you'd be up at 2am , 4am and 5am with a crying infant.

I'm not sure what came next, I think it was the skint years when if your mortgage hadn't emptied your bank account, then unpaid maternity leave would have created a sizeable hole in finances. The mere thought of squandering a small fortune on a night out was unthinkable when it was toss up between getting the car serviced or having the boiler fixed.

Next came the fat years when the thought of jostling alongside stick-thin size zeros at a night club in a pair of extra stretchy black leggings and an over sized T shirt ( the fat person's sorry uniform ) were filled with dread and desperation.

So here I am in the pre- retirement years with a grumpy husband and a pair of youngsters, for whom every night is potentially party night , still penniless and fat with no desire whatsoever to muster enough energy for an evening on the town, let alone the company of the 'happily -marrieds' , or the 'just back from a holiday of a lifetimes' or worse still the perenially skinnies with an appetite like a horse and the metabolsim of a gazelle, complaining that a size 8 is too baggy on them.

Our Saturday night bust-up last night revolved around my asking husband for some help with what seems like my never-ending mission to de-clutter the house. This ultimately involved my piling a lifetime's photographs and scrapbboks into a crate and dumping it by the back door ready for the binmen next week. If nobody in the house can ever be bothered to look at or even acknowledge them, then why shoudl I ? I've been carfeully recording and archiving our collective memories for the last decade in the beleagured hope that someone someday might actually show an interest. Fat chance.

Let's face it, scrapbooking is just an excuse to hang on to the past and indulge in obscene levels of expenditure in the hope that it might fill a void or render our memories meaningful. So it was that I found myself last night leaving the house - YES - on a Saturday night - and driving round aimlessly looking for some form of solace or refuge. It struck me that unless you want to sit in the corner of an anonymous pub nursing a warm pint with a bunch of sorry solitary drunks, there aren't a lot of options for the lonely.

I ended up at a 24 hour Tescos - the saddest place on earth on a Saturday night where sales of meals for one and hard liquor probably peak at around 9pm. The coffee shop was closed so I resorted to a saunter round the magazine aisle wondering who on earth buys Practical Sheep Rearing or worse - Esquire ( Get the lowdown on popular culture as well as great advice on women, sex and gadgets and more ! )  - yes that's what it actually says on the cover complete with exclamation mark.  I resisted a dozen Krispy Kremes and left with a clutch of 'back to school' stationery although I have 2 boys who've both finished their school eduaction. You never know when you might need a 10 pack of file dividers though.

Streets are empty by 9pm and car parks are no-go areas unless you want to be mistaken for looking for something else other than a quiet place to park up and reflect. Enough said. Restaurants are full of groups or couples and you never know what sort of a weirdo might come and sit next to you if you end up at the cinema.

And so it was that another Saturday came to a sorry end and I returned home, parked up and went to bed. My only victory was that I'd managed to survive it without resorting to food or booze. A victory in itself.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Smoasting Season has begun

Yes, the Social Media Boasting season, or SMoasting season as I like to call it, has flung open its doors as it always does after results day.

The most hilarious example I received was online from a 'friend' .

"How did you do at Slimming Wold last night ? " she asked innocently.

"3lbs" I replied knowing full well why she'd got in touch

"2lbs" she countered, adding , " Oh and [insert son's name here] got A* A* A and he was only 2 marks off a third A* - so we're having his paper re-marked "

I could have wet myself laughing.

Youngest son did so well but I'm not about to splash his grades across Facebook for the world to see. No gloating here. I'll let close friends and family know privately ... if they ask .... but I'm content to let him smile quietly to himself in the knowledge that he worked his socks off, acheived the kind of success of which he can be proud and let the rest of the helicopter Mums brag from the rooftops that their offspring are clearly child geniuses ... then wait for them to unravel when they get out into the big bad world and realise that one of the finest gifts your parents could have bestowed on you , is that of quiet modesty.  

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Week Three at Slimming World

All the threes - end of third week , third weigh-in - 3lbs lost for the week - Hurrah.

I was worried I might only scrape my target of 2.5lbs but I managed to exceed it thankfully. That included two sneaky but small glasses of wine during the week and a meal out so I'm particularly chuffed.

I'm saving my syns for tomorrow night when we'll either be celebrating or commiserating youngest son's A Level results. The champagne is on ice.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Careful what you wish for

At some stage in my life I must have mentioned that I liked Snoopy. For every birthday, Christmas and Valentine's Day thereafter , I amassed a sizable collection. Strangely I chose to keep them all and now can't bear to part with them. Most of them were from a boyfriend during my university days. He'd send them to me for no other reason than to say he missed me. How sweet. I think I appreciate them more today than I ever did back then. And here are just a few of them, and yes ... they're going in the trunk.

The BIG Trunk

I bought a BIG silver trunk and that's where all my letters and memorabilia will be going.

Today's the day. Having spent most of the summer holiday ( aka monsoon season ) sorting through and re-reading each and every letter, card and notelet, consigning every carefully penned message to its assigned folder, I am now going to attempt one last cull before those I that have survived the cut will be bundled into the trunk and who knows when or even if I may ever open it again.

The task has been overwhelming. I am a die-hard sentimentalist. The reading of sweet, kind words, notes of encouragement, congratulations and commiserations at every milestone of my life so far has left me an emotional wreck. I have learnt more about my younger self than I ever realised at the time.

So, one least day to get this done and then I can move on. But before I do, I want to document one bizarre co-incidence. One afternoon , I had settled into a chair to read another pile of letters, this time from my mother who died over 30 years ago. She wasn't one for lengthy letters but what she did write always made me laugh out loud. She seemed forever to be sending me £5 notes, urging me to buy 'nice food' and telling little anecdotes that would end with a phrase such as " well ... you know what your Dad's like " . I could almost see her eyes roll heavenwards as she wrote it . This particular letter asked me how I liked the chair she'd given me for my newly purchased house in Greenwich. She told me that it was 'wasted' in their hallway and that it was called a library chair. It was the very chair I was sitting in as I re-read that letter three decades later. How strange and unlikely was that ?

Edited to add ...

Job done - thank the Lord . Now I can get back to the here and now.

Friday, 11 August 2017

This will be me ...

... at the local swimming pool next week .

Thursday, 10 August 2017

The Cupboard Under the Stairs ... in Numbers

Will my life ever be done with de-cluttering ?

I should seriously NEVER EVER EVER go near another shop for the entire rest of my life.

Always good to start a new clearing out project at the end of a long day when you're tired and hungry and at your most irritable although that might extend to most of my waking hours at the moment. So I decided to tackle the cupboard under the stairs this evening. Here is its contents in numbers :

  • Thermos Flasks - 5
  • Insulated cool bags - 17
  • Those blue plastic bags from Ikea which you never remember to bring and so have to buy another - 9
  • Shopping Trolleys , I was old before my time - 2
  • Hideous laundry bags - 16
  • Not quite so hideous red vinyl polka dot bags which may or may not come in useful when moving house but in the meantime occupy about 50% of useful cupboard space where I could be storing things I actually use and need now - 23
  • Picnic sets - 5 , for goodness sake , what was wrong with me ?
  • Metres of bubble wrap - 20 but never any when I needed it or could find it
  • Tool kits - 2 but do either ever have the right tool, screw or nail ? No
  • Rafia style beach bags - 7
  • Canvas Shopping Bags - 14 A veritable archive of shopping through the years ranging from Golden Jubilee souvenir bags to long defunct department stores

The only real find were two delightful navy blue and cream stripey fleece car blankets which came in their own fleece bags embroidered with a bright red fleece star - one for each of the boys when they were little and accompanied us on every day trip and holiday. Those will be going in the boys' trunks which are in the loft and hold all their childhood mementoes - heaven help them.

Most of these are now bagged up ready for the charity shop. When they receive this lot , they'll probably think they all came from a closing down camping shop. We only ever went camping once. Once was enough in my book. It wasn't the outdoorsy bit I hated , it was the fact that every other camper seemed to bring all their indoorsy stuff with them to the campsite. I couldn't beleive that people would go to all the bother of erecting a tent then whip out a telly and watch East Enders of an evening . What on earth is the point of communing with fresh air if you're just going to bring all the misery of London with you ? That and having  to listen to every other camper snoring through the night . Never again.

So we now have a huge space to fill under the stairs and what will I be putting in there ? Everything I've just cleared out of the living room ... which in numbers amounts to :

  • Bags of 200 Ikea tea lights - 3 If I lit one every day from now on they'd still be going in 2 years time
  • Tea Light Holders - mercifully less than  the above
  • Dinner Candles ( such a quaint old fashioned term ) - 23
  • Packs on incense sticks - 6 and they all smell horrible
  • Incense stick holders - 4 the last vestiges of my hippy youth

... and here's the difficult one ....

Arts and crafts projects from the boys' primary school days - countless. Oh my , a whole new hornet's nest of indecision. What to keep and what to turf discretely in the bin bag ? There are only so many pottery owls, ping pong ball headed choirboys and balsa wood models you can make room for. I have left it to husband to decide but will wait until he's gone to bed to resue what he will inevitable throw out. They area a heartless bunch husbands.

Slimming World Week 2

I was stupidly anxious about weigh-in last night as I've been glued to the scales all week - an old habit which I'm finding hard to break. I needn't have worried though - 3lbs off which was exactly my target. Going for 2.5 lbs next week.

Treated myself to a cheeky glass of red wine when I got home which I realised afterwards was quite foolish. It's going to be hard also to break that old habit also of reward = food , which is where it all went wrong in the first place.

Today I've eaten 'experimental' food like a Minstrone Mugshot and a 0% fat yoghurt . I'm not in favour of anything low fat or recognised 'slimming' foods like the soup . They are the work of the devil . However they were surprisingly tasty and, when used in moderation, an acceptable part of the whole plan, providing I don't start relying on them.

Onward and downward. No scales this week - that's going to be tough.

Friday, 4 August 2017

The final word on ...

... the vexed issue of whether to throw away old letters.

You have been very patient, bearing with me over my dilemma of what to do about the piles of old letters I have hoarded over 40 years and deserve a break. But before I pen my final full stop on the matter , I found this on the internet last night , written by Jane Shilling in 2014, who now writes for The Telegraph but back then wrote for the Daily Mail Online ( well we've all gotta eat ) .

It is the most acutely and minutely well-observed piece of writing on this issue that I have read and trust me I have been reading everything I could lay my hands on, about this topic, in the last few weeks. It could have been me talking, but far better articulated. No co-incidence that we are exactly the same age.

Why I just can't bear to throw old letters away, even the ones that are far too painful to read...memories are too precious 


Jane says it is strange to think how she communicated by letter as a student 
From the fragments of writing, a long-buried image emerged of the person she was - and Jane says she 'didn't like her at all'
It's predicted such letters will soon cease to exist. But Jane is not convinced

Decluttering, we are often told, is good for you. Getting rid of your superfluous stuff doesn’t just leave you with empty cupboards, it’s a way of purifying your life. A fresh start.
Over the past couple of years, since my son went to university, I have been gradually clearing out the detritus of several decades.

At first it was easy but now I’m left with the tough stuff: baby clothes, childhood paintings and — hardest of all — old letters, which seem to demand a more dignified end than the recycling bin. 

A recent survey for the Royal Mail claims that the art of letter-writing is in terminal decline, replaced by email and social networking. So it is a sign of my age — I’m 54 — that having resolved to eradicate the bit of my past that my letters represent, I’m obliged to dispose of a physical archive.

My 20-year-old son, whose correspondence is vast, but entirely electronic, could delete the lot at the press of a couple of keys. It is strange to think that when I was a student, the only way my friends and I could make contact was by letter.

There were no mobile phones in the 1970s, no email, no Facebook. So we used to write constantly: an endless stream of notes, all of which I seem, inexplicably, to have hoarded.
When I decided to throw out my letters, I thought I had better look through them first. I hadn’t realised that reading old letters is like time travelling — a journey over terrain that seems deceptively familiar but turns out to be stranger than you remembered, and more hazardous.

Plaintive notes from would-be suitors — ‘Where ARE you?’ — were all muddled up with brave, funny letters from my grandma, postcards from my tutors enquiring after undelivered essays, long letters from friends suffering agonies of boredom during the interminable university vacations, and reams of juvenile poetry.

Sifting through this pile of soon-to-be waste paper, I began, fatally, to read. And from the fragments of writing, a long-buried image began to emerge of the person I used to be. And I didn’t like her at all.
This earlier me seemed selfish (all those missed appointments with friends who had made the long, dull journey to my distant college room), lazy (all those unwritten essays) and unkind.

The love letters made particularly painful reading. The youthful me didn’t strike me as someone who deserved the tenderness and affection that those letters expressed.

Looking back from a distance of 30-odd years, I know that my younger self was about to become very lonely and unhappy for quite a long time, and I’m afraid it served her right.
Between the painful letters of my early 20s and the next batch there is a gap, during which the serious business of living took over.

My friends and I survived the hectic period in our 30s while we were juggling work and children with our friendships intact. But for a while there was no time for letter-writing.
We were like fogbound ships, hoisting desperate signals, ‘I AM STILL HERE — ARE YOU?’, and hoping that we’d still be in contact when the cloud of busy-ness and exhaustion lifted. When it did, something had changed. I had become a writer, and I began to get letters from strangers in response to things I had written. When the letters were kind and interesting, it seemed only polite to reply. By degrees I accumulated half-a-dozen regular correspondents — people I’d never met but who felt like friends.

And then there was email: the perfect hybrid of conversation and letters. It has been predicted that personal letters will soon no longer exist — killed by email and texts as surely as horse-drawn carriages were superseded by the internal combustion engine. But I am not convinced. We may think ourselves more emotionally spontaneous than our letter-writing forebears, but human nature has changed surprisingly little across the centuries.

‘My dear Cassandra,’ wrote the novelist Jane Austen to her sister on Saturday March 5, 1814. ‘Do not be angry with me for beginning another Letter to you. I have read [Byron’s poem] the Corsair, mended my petticoat and have nothing else to do…’

To me, that line seems as fresh as though it were written two minutes ago, rather than two centuries. Like the correspondents of 200 years ago, we still crave scandal, reassurance, tenderness, news. Jane Austen’s letters, with their excited updates on the latest fashions and their savage comments about her neighbour’s killer bad breath, may be written in ink on paper, but they are the emails of their time.

What you don’t get from email is the satisfying physicality of a letter. Not many people of my son’s age, I imagine, will ever experience the clutch of the heart caused by the sight of an envelope addressed in a longed-for handwriting; nor find themselves unexpectedly reduced to tears when an ancient love letter falls out of a long-unread book that they have idly taken down from  the bookshelf. You can’t fall asleep holding an email. Or mark your place in a book with it. You could print it out, I suppose, but that isn’t quite the same.

Today’s 20-year-olds won’t miss what they never knew, but I notice that I still revert to pen and paper when it comes to serious stuff like love and death. When I look through my old letters, I have no idea what I wrote that produced those replies of exasperation, tenderness, amusement or despair — and I find it disturbing.
I can destroy my half of the correspondence, but I can’t make the whole thing vanish. If any of my correspondents has kept my letters, that version of me is out there on the loose, capering mockingly beyond my power to control her.

As for my electronic archive, I could wipe my hard disk and hurl my computer into the Thames (as once I planned to drown the letters of a faithless lover), but it wouldn’t make any difference. Each of my email correspondents has the full record of our exchanges, and I can’t take a word of them back. It is a thought that should make me resolve to give up correspondence. But somehow it does not.

When you write letters, whether by email or on paper, you write, without knowing it, your life story, and one rarely emerges well from the account. But it is the human condition to be ridiculous, and I may as well embrace it.

I confess, too, that I may even be having second thoughts about throwing out my correspondence. While re-reading my 30-year-old letters was upsetting, it made me think about friendship. Most of those notes are from people I still know and love (though who on earth was John, who wrote such fervent letters in the Trinity term of 1977?).

The two people I loved best — my grandmother and an old university friend — are dead, and now that I’ve seen their handwriting again, I’m not sure I can bear to throw their letters away. But if I save those, what about the beautiful letter I had from a military historian, saying that my first book made him cry? Or the generous note from a fellow writer, praising my second book? I was so proud to get those letters. Are they really going out with the rubbish? Cupboard space is precious in a house as small as mine. But so are memories. And just at the moment, I can’t decide which I need more.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Advice Required

So .... I am stuck ... somewhere in the late seventies / early eighties. Having unearthed three huge boxes of cards, letters and items of memerobilia I ever received from the age of about seveneteen from the loft a few weeks ago, I now don't know what on earth to do with them all.

There are love letters from old flames, angry poetry from jilted boyfriends, programmes from concerts, brochures from tourist attractions, newsletters , newspaper cuttings,  notes from my Mum which read ' saw this card of a rabbit and thought of you' ( she never did write anything lengthy ... and it was usually in shorthand ! ) , sketches, school reports, diaries, ancient primary school drawings, swimming certificates ..... and one of my favourites - a small white certificate from the Surrey County Show for my rabbit Lucy who'd won third place in the 'Rabbit with the Cleanest Feet' category ( I think there were only 2 entries ) .

I have spent the last few weeks reading them all, trying to recall, events and names and faces. I have absolutely no idea what to do with them all. Do I really want to be reminded of the sympathy letters from my mother's and subsequently father's deaths ?  There are random photos of old boyfriends -  some of whom I didn't even like. Rather hilariously , there's a frame with a photo of the latest young man in my life and I noticed that behind it, there were a whole bunch of others - each one of a different boyfriend , a gallery of past loves each being replaced by the latest. Some have made me laugh out loud and some have made me cry. I am a mess. It's like a tidal wave of emotion  and decidely unsettling.

Rather weirdly , one letter was from my mother asking how the antique library chair she had passed on to me was fitting into our new home - I was actually sitting in it as I read that. That completely spooked me out.

The thing is, I am paralysed with indecision. I simply do not know whether to keep or bin them. There are a million choices to be made and I cannot make a single one without fearing that I may regret the decision. Half of them are sitting in a black bin bag under the bed awaiting disposal. I became more ruthless as I waded through the piles of correspondence and so the filling of that bin bag gathered apace after a couple of hours. But I didn't have the courage to actually throw it out and now I'm wondering should I go through them all again a second time ? I couldn't even begin to photogrpah them all for a digital archive unless I had a year to spare.

I've just been online and bought a metal trunk which should be big enough to slide under the bed and look relatively stylish. The idea is that I can fill that but once it's full - that's it - no more. I'm just delaying the decision-making and I know I won't be able to stop at just one trunk. What conceivable purpose could they possibly have in years to come ? I've even got one photograph of my sister and I looking suitable morose at the funeral parlour having just chosen a coffin for Dad - what were we thinking having that taken ?

In ten or twenty years time, will I really want to unearth them all over again and given that my memory will be even worse by then, will I be left puzzled by who these people were and what on earth had gone on to elicit such a response ?

So, assuming that this digital memory will survive , I'm recording a few passing thoughts about what I've learned from reading each and every single one.

  • Despite thinking that my parents barely gave me a bean during my student years - they were actually very generous and sent me fivers and tenners through the post with a short note attached saying 'pay off your overdraft' or 'buy fresh fruit'
  • I think I must have dumped every boyfriend by post ( today's equivalent would be by text I suppose )  judging by the painful replies I collected bemoaning my 'heartlessness' . I realise now that if a young man asked me out , I always felt obliged to say yes having not learnt the art of a polite refusal. I don't think I particularly wanted to go out with many of them and so usually ended up letting the relationship drag on beyond its shelf life and then chickening out by breaking it off by way of an apologetic letter.
  • I must have implied that I liked the cartoon dog Peanuts at some stage, judging by the hundreds of Snoopy cards I received over a decade. I didn't but was too polite to say.
  • My friend Jan ( the Pan ) had the funniest sense of humour.
  • I had a bit of a thing for RAF Pilots !
  • Looked like I sent a lot of cards and letters that cheered people up , judging by their grateful replies.
  • We all wore flares and had bad perms

I must have been either very sentimental or determined to unhinge my older self by keeping all these memories. Little did I know that years later I would be slumped on the edge of my bed wondering why on earth I didn't appreciate the amazing life that I was living and the wonderful oppurtunities and life-changing experiences that I had been granted. Maybe re-discovering them all these years later was the purpose behind keeping them ... just to remind me that you have to carpe that old diem and make every moment count. Time to stop wallowing and move on or maybe just get out my flares and have my hair permed.

First Weigh-in

I was BEYOND excited by the time I got to the scales and DELIRIOUS with joy when I heard them say " Six and half pounds  "

Oh boy , if I could just keep that up . I know I can't so I'm aiming for 3lbs next week.

Good grief this Slimming World thing really does work !

Monday, 31 July 2017

More bizarre random mail

So,  I'm about halfway through this mountain of mail from my youth and I found this which made me laugh out loud. Three crates of hand-written corresepndence came down from the attic a couple of weeks ago and I've been re-living my teens and early twenties ever since.

It simply reads ...

In absentia
All my love
The Beastmaster ....Grrrr

Dated 17th May 1983.

I have absolutely no idea who the Beastmaster is / was nor what they were absent from.

If you answer to this description , do get in touch !