Parenting, profundities and humour

Voracious Hoards..* and ** — April 11, 2020

Voracious Hoards..* and **

* I wanted to entitle this blog Plagues of Locusts but thought that might be a little…off. And although what we are facing globally at the moment does feel, well, biblical my Covid 19 PC alarm went off…Voracious Hoards it is…

**This blog is shamelessly middle class. It is intended as a light hearted read. And in no way detracts from the very real hardships that I know are faced by many, many people at the moment.

So here I sit on Day, actually I do not know what day, of lockdown; pondering. All the days currently merge into one. It is a bit like that time between Christmas and New Year but not as fun and with less twinkly lights. It is especially difficult to tell what day it is as my husband has not stopped working 12 hour plus days for about 3 weeks. Yes he is an essential worker. But you won’t be clapping for him on Thursdays because he is (whispers) a banker and so will probably at some point be blamed for the pandemic. So far it is bats, pangolins, the entirety of China. I am sure banks, some of whom are mostly owned by the tax payer (every article you read about banks says that…journalists have it on auto type…they click their £ symbol to type it automatically), will finally be found to blame. As he has hardly left our spare room for 3 weeks (once I had assembled the hastily ordered desk and chair and removed the double bed which now sits on our drive way in pieces, unsold due to lockdown, making us look like weirdos to the not inconsiderable number of people now walking by daily) the days are bleeding into each other. I actually do know it is Friday today because it is Good Friday. And therefore a bank holiday although this year it ain’t.

Anyway as I was saying we are on Day unknown of the lockdown. And mostly during these few weeks I have been focussed on food.

I own 2 teenage boys. Quite what I thought I was doing having 2 sons 18 months apart is beyond me now. And then I thought I would throw in a daughter too.

I can also tell you that teenage boys are basically eating machines. They open the fridge, inhale and £150 of food disappears.

In normal circumstances I can cope. School picks up a meal a day. They take snacks in that resemble complete packed lunches for break time. They eat a cooked meal at school (although the portions are apparently scandalous) . Then I do another cooked meal for tea and then they shovel cereal down until bed time.

When the food shortages hit and were coupled with the request to shop only infrequently I turned into a complete food control freak.

I can now hear the opening of a fridge from 3 rooms away. The rustle of a chocolate bar from the back garden. The clinking of milk bottle on cereal bowl from half way through my walk round the village. I can be heard shouting repeatedly,

“Please take some grapes off the bunch instead of standing at the fridge shovelling in a whole punnet almost absent mindedly”.

“Let that meal register before you eat anything else”.

“What happened to the 18 chocolate bars I bought yesterday?”

“How can you be hungry again.”

“Put your hands up and back away from the biscuit tin, slowly…I said slowly…no sudden moves”

Etc, etc, etc.

I now pack up the snacks they would have taken to school and ban all other snacks from being consumed. In case you think this is unfair Eldest has the following ‘snack’ daily at break time:

Apple, banana, 4 mini sausage rolls, bag of crisps, dried apricots, chocolate bar…I eat less for a pack up.

Yesterday for breakfast he ate; a fried egg and slice of toast, a huge bowl full of fruit with yogurt, a bowl of porridge and a bowl of granola.

He was back in the snack bag in an hour.

I currently spend my life planning, queuing, shopping, cooking and clearing up food. Making other food out of any food leftovers (and here I mean carcasses and bones not actual food). Scouring recipe books for new ideas. Stopping people eating the wrong food on the wrong day. Carrying out fridge patrol. Cooking meals from scratch twice a day which linger on plates for around 5 minutes (except the butter nut squash and quinoa chilli that lingered on plates a lot longer…). Trying to find eggs. Trying to find flour. Trying to find flour and eggs together.

And to make matters worse I detest cooking. I know a lot of you out there are relishing the time to experiment in the kitchen whipping up all sorts of gourmet meals. I am not. Cooking is more of a large scale and unwelcome logistical exercise here. No fun is had I can tell you.

I do like to bake and had vague ideas of working my way through the Mary Berry book I got at Christmas. But I refer you to my earlier comment viz lack of flour. Or eggs. Or both.

To start with I couldn’t even buy my normal weekly food shop due to restrictions. I buy 4 packs of 6 yogurts a week to last a few days. Every time we have beans on toast for lunch we use 4 cans. I am not stock piling buying these amounts of food. But I was not allowed to buy such vast quantities.

Now with restrictions mostly lifted I struggle to physicslly wheel such amounts round the supermarket. I no longer shop on line saving those slots for self isolaters and the vulnerable. I cannot shop weekly, dear government, as I literally cannot fit the amount of food in a trolley or push it whilst maintaining a safe distance in the aisles. If only I could take a teenager to help. But I cant

My food bill has almost doubled. Luckily I am not paying for school meals and my husband is not spending his daily coffee, porridge & sandwich money at London prices so we are probably no worse off.

So if you want to know why supermarket supply cannot keep up with demand that will be all the teenage boys at home eating their way through the stock.

And I really really want to know where all that food that should have gone to schools and works canteens and hotels and bars and restaurants has gone? I don’t care if the beans are in 2kg tins. That would do around one meal here. Send a few dozen my way. Please.

Ginger Nut — February 7, 2017

Ginger Nut


I am not really in a very good mood. There it is out there. And yes it is partly cycle related.

And it is also partly because Middlest got hit in the face by a hockey stick and has lips the size of some celebrity who has had bad plastic surgery.

And partly because Youngest brought home English comprehension homework with questions based around the most appallingly boring text about the plight of pedestrians written circa 1970. Such gems as ‘The title of this text is a rhetorical question- what does this mean?’ To which I wanted to reply ‘A rhetorical question is something I wished this question had been so I would not have had to answer it and have had to try explaining  the concept of a rhetorical question to my 9 year old who really just wants to be in the garden playing football…’.

And then I fancied a bourbon with my cuppa as a kind of reward for not throwing the English comprehension out of the window. (‘The text says that pedestrian crossings are often in the wrong place suggest where they should actually be sited.’ Answer ‘Pedestrian crossings should be sited where people want to cross the road.’ Surely.) And I discovered that some bastards have eaten them all. Well to be strictly correct they are not bastards my husband and I being boringly conventional. But my kids have eaten them all.

I scoured the house for a suitable alternative. All the birthday wine gums are gone. Even the black ones. We ate the one last remaining meringue out of a packet of meringues (use by date Sept 2016) I found mouldering at the back of the tomato ketchup, onion and Christmas pudding cupboard with tinned pears and natural yogurt for dessert between four of us. There is no cooking chocolate. And even I refuse to eat jam straight from the jar with a spoon.

So I was left with a ginger nut. Now I quite like a ginger nut as part of a selection of biscuits. So for instance I will have a bourbon and a ginger nut. Or a custard cream and a ginger nut. But never a ginger nut alone. And I lamented my reasoning when I purchased the ginger nuts. I was trying to be ‘good’ and reduce my sugar intake. So for purely health reasons I decided to buy plain ginger nuts rather than my usual dark chocolate coated real ginger chunk versions. Damn.

And for this I blame another ginger nut namely Chris Evans.

I like Radio Two. For those overseas this is a national radio station here in the U.K. It is a bit of an institution. To explain Radio 2 is the place to go when the noise and inanity of Radio 1 no longer suits you but you are not clinically dead enough to listen to Radio 4 which has no music and as far as I can tell is wall to wall worthy news discussion shows, intellectual magazine shows and soap operas about farmers.

The breakfast show is hosted by one Chris Evans, once a wide boy, a self-made man and maverick turned mostly normal married man with kids, albeit a screamingly rich one. He is still quirky and I like his show, generally. In fact during January I enjoyed listening to him try to stay ‘dry’.

But now it is February and he and seemingly all his fellow team members, have decided to go ‘refined sugar free’. Every time I tune in he seems to be waxing lyrical about the joys of soups and avocados and telling us all how marvellous he feels. Today he was joined by Dr Mosley a TV doctor who has done such things in the name of ‘dietary science’ (i.e. money and fame) as eating only take away food for several months to see what it did to his body. It made him ill. Oddly. The good Dr (who surprisingly has a cook book out called something like the eight week sugar free diet) was taking questions from callers. Such questions as ‘Can I eat cheese as the packet says it has 1% sugar?’. Oh my actual god. Are people really that dense?

The good Dr explained how much cheese you would have to eat to consume the same amount of sugar as contained in a bowl of sugary cereal. Obviously it was a lot of cheese. And whilst I might be tempted in my current state of ‘mild’ irritation to attempt to eat that much cheese even I might struggle.

Someone else wanted to know if eating salad was ok as she had heard that even an undressed green salad contained sugar. It was such a stupid question the good doctor dodged it and explained he had several recipes for sugar free salad dressing in his book. Chris interjected that he had made his own humous yesterday which was a first for him having only ever made pesto before, the Doctor counter-interjected that he had made something for the first time yesterday that I had never heard of before but presumably involved a blender and some sort of pulse and his wife washing up every implement in the kitchen. His wife is apparently ‘thrilled’ that he is taking part in this exercise and cooking. Really? I bet actually she sobs into her washing up bowl secretly stuffing her face with Milk Tray whilst trying to ignore her sanctimonious, evangelical spouse. By this point I personally would have screamed obscenities at the radio but I had small people in the car.

Finally a runner wanted to know what he could substitute his energy gels for during his marathon training. Again err… To be fair the good Dr did say that a bit of energy gel was ok for anyone running over 10k as sugar is needed in some situations. But then he did go onto mention bananas and dried mangos. Those really portable fruits which I am a sure every marathon runner would be able to carry round the 26 mile ish course with ease. Not.

Then there was some spurious gumph about sugar feeding bad microbes and it is the bad microbes slowly being starved to death and shouting out in their death throws for sugar, sugar, sugar that causes the sugar slump when you try to give up. Sigh. I am not a biologist. I hate biology. So maybe that’s true. Sounds like utter crap to me.

I am of the ‘a little bit of what you fancy does you good’ school of thought. So a couple of biscuits. A bag of crisps. Broccoli if that floats your boat. I don’t do well if stuff is banned.

Suffice to say I am finding all the holier than thou sugar freeness a little tedious. So much so I am listening to Def Leppard instead.

And tomorrow I am going to the biscuit aisle and stocking up on proper snacks. I need them (bad bacteria or no) after answering Question 14 ‘Did you find this text persuasive and if so why?’ without getting Youngest to write ‘No I did not find this text persuasive as it is badly written, boring twaddle about the plight of pedestrians and you made me answer 14 inane questions about it and any possible power it may once have had to persuade me has been forever crushed during this tedious mind numbing process!’…

Yah boo sucks to you Chris Evans.




















Smooth Operator… — January 12, 2017

Smooth Operator…


So currently every morning my kitchen looks like this. An explosion in a purple gloop factory. As I claw my worktops back into some semblance of order I curse PSHE. ..

I realise that those without children of school age might not understand this acronym. So let me explain. It stands for. Err… I am not totally sure to be honest. Something like Personal, Social, Health and Economics education.  Or maybe it is Political, Sexual, Health Education or maybe…anyway as I said I am not sure but it is a subject at school that essentially teaches common sense oh and the birds and the bees. Poor teachers.

OK I am over simplifying and before you get the wrong idea I do think there is actually a lot of good stuff in the PSHE curriculum despite my cursing. Things like learning about the harmful effects of smoking and drugs, how to improve self esteem and treat people properly, providing anti-bullying messages, warning of stranger danger both on and off line. And of course I am very pleased every one gets to discuss tampons in a supportive group environment…

So PSHE is essentially all the stuff parents should be discussing with their kids a darn sight earlier than they usually do and that the Government has decided schools should address because parents are essentially crap and not trained and forget to have the on line safety talk before little Jimmy has befriended god knows who on FIFA 15, probably because they really meant to have that chat but fell asleep through sheer exhaustion instead. But there is one element of PSHE that really annoys me and that is the teaching of healthy eating to small and not so small children.

For PSHE starts as early as Reception. I distinctly remember my 4 year old son coming home and refusing to eat pizza because it had become a ‘bad thing’ over night. Well actually over day. But you get the gist. Despite my explaining that this pizza was fine as I had made it myself and covered it in healthy organic vegetables and homemade passata (for I was still at that stage in my parenting career when I thought processed ready made food was the devil AND had enough time to avoid it…ha ha how I laugh at my sanctimonious self now as I shovel ready made pasta sauces into my kids on a shift rotation, I think I was beyond the ‘shaping each individual pizza into a bunny face’ stage (Annabel Karmel needs to get a life seriously) but possibly only just…). But he would not be swayed. And ate merely carrot sticks and cucumber as those had made the ‘good list’. See, still in ‘good parenting mode’, now mine get pizza with chips and possibly a can of baked beans if I can be arsed. Consequentially he went to bed hungry and woke me up at 5am because his stomach was complaining. That was my first brush with PSHE…not a great first impression if I am honest.

Over the years the topic has been repeated at various intervals and I have had to put up with a few weeks, days or hours (depending on the child’s tenacity) of being told they will no longer eat cheese or crisps or some other such black listed food stuff. Not eating crisps or cheese are heinous crimes in my opinion.

The main reason I find the teaching of ‘healthy eating’ so annoying is because the sorts of children who take it the most to heart are precisely the ones who could tuck away a whole pizza and be none the worse for it. Namely mine. And the kids who eat too much rubbish and drink cola on tap won’t give a damn. Stereotyping? Well yes. But hey its true. Sorry. I certainly wouldn’t pass a PSHE exam with my inability to avoid stereotypes although in any event I am not sure such a thing exists anymore. In my day it was called General Studies. I didn’t do General Studies. I did more Maths instead. My common sense seems to have survived.

Anyway I digress. Healthy eating. The most recent of these modules has been directed at Eldest the most likely of my children to take everything to heart. Eldest is 5ft 6 and weighs about 7 stone. He has a 6 pack and undertakes a great deal of sport every week. He is hitting puberty and growing at a more than alarming rate. In fact this time last year he was smaller than me and now he is 2 inches taller. So actually what Eldest needs is food. Lots and lots of food. And yes the majority needs to be healthy. We are cognisant of his requirements for veg and fruit and wholegrains. But he also needs lots of protein and fat and dairy and essential fuel for his rapidly morphing body. If some of that fuel comes from chocolate and cake and pizza I think he will survive. It is always a question of balance. Except when it comes to crisps. There can never be too many crisps.

What he doesn’t need is to restrict his intake in anyway. And so I find this slightly holier than thou ‘healthy eating’ teaching more than a tad annoying. Especially as the school deems it OK to serve sausage roll, chips and spaghetti hoops (which are clearly not a vegetable people clearly not..) on Fridays.

The most recent imparting of information was clearly aimed at trying to improve breakfasts by suggesting smoothies.

Eldest got home and looked up the benefits of smoothies, no doubt found some website or other promoted by Nutri-bullet, and decided he needed to change his breakfast to include a smoothie. Now our mornings are timed to perfection. If we haven’t sat down to eat by 6.30am my palms start to itch and I worry that I will not fit in cello practice or teeth brushing. So when Eldest decided a blender was required for breakfast I started to panic gently. I breathed out and advised that he had better get down from his pit a darn sight earlier than usual, whilst cursing Mr PSHE under my breath

Now, of course, if your usual breakfast consists of a bowl of coco pops and a doughnut from Sainsbury’s before registration then clearly a smoothie is going to improve your nutritional levels quite considerably. However my children eat wholemeal toast, decent cereals and a fruit salad with yogurt for breakfast. So I fail to see how a smoothie improves matters. In fact it probably makes it worse by starting the sugar break down process manually. Ha got you there.

So all that has happened is that Eldest has taken his fruit salad and yogurt and distributed it around my worktops with my soup blender. And of course the other two also think this is a champion idea. We are now ‘experimenting’ with ingredients. They are probably eating more fruit, which actually, guys, isn’t all that healthy, I am yet to persuade them to add kale. But it is also making our mornings even more finely edged time wise.

I am hoping the phase passes. And they will go back to chewing their fruit. And that the next module does not suggest vegetarianism. I will go in and complain I tell you. I will.


One Meal To Please Them All…. — November 25, 2016

One Meal To Please Them All….



This week I hit a high point in my eternal quest for the Holy Grail.

I have been on this mission for about a decade and to be honest it is starting to piss me off. Ever so slightly.

It doesn’t get any easier. In fact as time marches on it merely gets more and more difficult as ever increasing numbers of obstacles are bunged in my path.

I am not even convinced that the Holy Grail exists anymore. I am sure every questor in the history of questing has had this moment of doubt. At some point Frodo thought to himself:

“Sod this treking through the barren wastes of Mordor with this ever so slightly irritating and overly upbeat gardener, I’ll just wear the sodding ring and become a dark overlord at least that way I can get my hands on some more pipeweed and stop eating this god awful yet strangely satisfying dried biscuit” or something similar.

I feel pretty much the same. Why am I even on the quest? Why don’t I just give up and go home? Wear the ring and hide invisibly in the corner. Gibbering.

When I started out all those years ago I made a fundamental error.  I picked the wrong ‘fellowship’. I do a lot of role playing. And before any of you get hot under the collar I am referring here to fantasy role playing. That hasn’t really helped any has it? I mean elves and dwarves (if we must, must we?) and orcs and dungeons and dragons.

As every role player knows the make up of one’s team is paramount. There is no use setting off on that quest with a party full of weedy magic users or an entire group of beefy yet brainless fighters. No, balance is the key.

I didn’t think about this when I picked my group. To be fair I gave birth to three of them so it is at least half my fault. And I married the other one when his peccadillos seemed, well, quite adorable rather than sodding annoying.

And so I am on this quest with a whole bunch of people making it harder. And harder.

Have I told you the aim of my quest yet? My own personal Holy Grail? I haven’t? How remiss of me. Here it is then. I am after a list of meals that all my family will eat. And enjoy. Preferably a week’s worth of the same. Sounds easy? Sounds like it really shouldn’t have taken me over a decade to not succeed at? Well it has.

To begin with I was meandering quite gaily around The Shire. My husband and I ate quite a quantity of processed food. We had a repertoire. Pasta sauce out of a jar. Curry out of a tin. Sausage casserole. Kedgeree. Takeaway. Etc. The only issue slightly marring our countryside idyll was the Shadow of Cheese. A faintly malevolent spirit (shall we say it is in the east?) which occasionally cast a shade over proceedings when I misread the ingredients of ready made pasta. And made my husband curl up his nose in that way…

I had children. Bad idea. Like having a maverick uncle. You just know that one day he is going to cause big big trouble. And they didn’t disappoint. Sure enough all to soon I was visited by the Wizard of Weaning. He had bad news. Lots of things I had previously enjoyed would have to be eschewed in order to save my small humans from an awful Fate. Salt, sugar, jars and other such demons had joined the Shadow of Cheese. They chased me maniacally round the Shire and my quest had begun.

Over the years as I have journeyed with my fellowship many more obstacles have had to be overcome. I was almost permanently undone by the Gluten Intolerance Balrog. He wielded a seriously large whip. It derailed me for quite a while. I fought back though with the help of the ‘free from’ aisle. And a lot of potatoes. But only after I had had several set backs such as Bread Like a Stone and Unrisen Cake.

I stumble repeatedly in the Forest of Random and Ever Changing Dislikes. The paths never stay the same. Occasional random and completely unexpected Dislikes drop in for a time and then magically disappear again. Totally at random. Did I mention the randomness? These Dislikes hang like menacing spiders waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting traveller, trapping you in their webs ready to devour you later. Often the Dislikes are things that have previously been eaten without comment. For years. Such as mushrooms. And Mummy’s Curry. And the Shadow of Cheese is ever present. Ominous. Menacing.

Over the last couple of years the Mines of Logisitcs have also had to be negotiated. I am permanently lost in their tortuous caverns and tunnels. The Mines of Logistics also never stay the same. There are sharp edges. And steep drop offs. A steady path will be found and then a new and unexpected fork will appear, just for that week, making mapping the Mines impossible and futile. Things such as the Fork of Cubs is Off Site or the Path of House Swimming Gala. And bizarrely the Forest of Random and Ever Changing Dislikes seems to thrive down in the Mines of Logistics. And even down here as I flail in the Mines whilst simultaneously macheteing my way through the dense undergrowth of the Forest, even in all that, the Shadow of Cheese penetrates and weighs heavy.

And now the Shadow of Cheese has an ally. The former friend of the Wizard of Weaning, the Wiseman of Fish That Isn’t White.

And sometimes, just sometimes, when I manage to emerge briefly from Mine and Forest and Shadow and Wiseman and Balrog I often find myself in the Valley of Guilt sitting under the Tree of Too Much Reading dipping my toes in the Stream of On line Shopping Substitutions. Trying to avoid red meat and too much sugar and processed food and ham. And sure enough I get dragged back in.

So imagine my delight when, from the Oracle of Facebook, a recipe emerged which seemed to satisfy everything. The Mount Doom of recipes if you will. However I had been here before. Up other Mounts that had turned out to be not The Mount. The gluten free, cheese free, red meat free lasagna for example. Which only three of the fellowship enjoyed. Or the prosciutto wrapped cod with herby new potatoes, which stumbled in the Mines as it failed the ‘reheating later’ test. Or the sweet potato and lentil curry which only three of the fellowship enjoyed. A different three. Or the Mexican Bean Chilli which fell foul of the Forest containing, as it did, chick peas. Or ….. you get the picture.

There is nothing, and I mean nothing, more disheartening to the Leader of the Dining Room Fellowship then tracking up a mountain only to discover it is not THE mountain and having the rest of the party drag her back down with their Ropes of Hardly Touched Food.

And so I curbed my excitement. In any event the recipe was by Jamie Oliver whose revolution of school dinners could not redeem him in my eyes from his ‘Meals in 15 minutes’ book. The whole premis of which was a blatant lie.

I adapted it slightly. Let’s be honest who has fresh rosemary in the middle of November? I balked a bit at sherry vinegar worrying that it would moulder on the Shelf of Ingredients Only Ever Used Once Normally After Following A Jamie Oliver Recipe until I finally die in the Mines or the Forest or at the whip of the Balrog and the rest of my fellowship throws it out having decided to live permanently off takeout. I did decide to get the fresh flat leaved parsley and run the risk of the rest of the packet becoming permanently stuck to the back of the fridge in a sort of icy tomb.

I cooked the meal. Everyone liked it. It had no cheese. No red meat. No Random Dislikes (for now). No gluten to upset the Balrog. It could be made in advance and put on automatic to be ready for the exact second we landed home, it could be served in the 4 sittings required and it was good reheated. And thus it navigated successfully through the Mines.

So you may think the Ring is finally in the Mountain. I can go back to the Shire and live out my days peacefully as the unassuming, unsung hero of the Dining Room Fellowship. Well not quite. I still need about four more of these god given gifts to be finally rid of the damn thing. And I really need more than four to avoid the Curse of Eating The Same Seven Meals Every Week.

But still it felt like a step forwards.



A Weighty Issue — March 8, 2016

A Weighty Issue


So last evening I sang with my choir in a Music Festival. I may have mentioned that before. I joined the choir about 5 years ago and in the run up to our first concert had to find an all black outfit.

I may have also mentioned before that I wear jeans. All the time. And not black ones at that. And so I made an emergency dash to Primarni and purchased a pair of black trousers with an elasticated waist and a black fitted T shirt. For about ten quid. Thinking that they would do ‘pro tem’. I ignored the little voice in my head mithering about child labour. And the elasticated waist.

Of course in every concert since I have reached in my wardrobe for that exact same outfit. Pro tem, it seems, is at least 5 years.

Anyhoo. Last night I pulled on the trousers and was slightly disconcerted to find that they were…a little snug.

So there we have it. There has been creep. A depositing of extra pounds around my, how can I put this politely, arse. OK so not very polite, but then I don’t feel very polite about it.

I don’t weigh myself. For a few reasons. Firstly because the batteries in my fancy fat percentage weighing scales are dead. (Don’t use in socks. It gets all confused and throws a hissy fit). And I keep forgetting to replace them. And by now a combination of the steam from the shower and leaving dead batteries in there for over a year has probably knackered them beyond all repair. Which begs the question why am I still dusting them every week? (OK, OK, every month…ish…).

I also don’t weigh myself as I do not want to obsess about my weight and transfer any eating issues to my kids. Who are already bombarded with enough ‘healthy living’ advice at school to be sufficiently paranoid that Eldest has designed his own sit up and press up routine.

But if I am brutally honest I don’t weigh myself because it is better not to know. There I said it. Ignorance is bliss. Was.

But now I have failed the ‘concert trousers’ test. And have until May to do something about it. I really don’t want to admit defeat and have to go back to Primarni and buy elasticated trousers in a (whispers) bigger size.

So this is my plan of action.

Stop buying large packets of Doritos in my Friday on line shop. I buy them to accompany our weekend salad lunches. But I have noticed a tendency between hubby and I to ‘forget’ to serve them to the kids at lunch. So we can then eat them ‘a deux’ on the sofa in the evening in front of The Night Manager.

Crisps are really my downfall. It is a well known fact amongst my inner circle. In fact so much so that on my birthday some dear friends bought me some individual sized packets of Salt and Vinegar Kettle Chips. A catering sized box full. From a wholesaler. Hmmm they probably haven’t helped. Much.

Start dusting those weighing scales more often. Obviously I don’t just mean the scales but dusting and other such pursuits more generally. Housework is a great calorie burner. Although tedious as hell. But cheaper than a gym membership. And with pleasant side effects. However temporary.

Eat less biscuits. This is tricky. My afternoon pleasure is a cuppa and a couple of biscuits (unless I am still wading through a catering sized box of salty delights, oh, OK often as well as…). You know to reward myself for not dusting. Somehow a cuppa alone isn’t quite the ticket. I could chow down on carrot sticks and a cuppa. I suppose. Sigh. It doesn’t help that my children (well actually my husband) bought me two packets of luxury biscuits for Mother’s Day yesterday. So now I am in that quandary. Eat them gradually over the course of a few weeks risking staleness and poundage creep or eat them all in one sitting and ‘get them over with’? I suppose in the latter case I could just counter-act the huge calorie in take with extra (shudders) dusting.

Walk more. The weather is improving. Finally. That yellow thing in the sky has actually come back. So although it is cold still at least I feel like venturing out. And so I need to do so. And not sit on the sofa watching re runs of Friends…sorry I mean dusting.

Eat less cheese. And pork pie. Bigger sigh. I have finally finished the Christmas cheese so that will help. Pork pie is a different issue. I clearly have none left over from Christmas. That would be insane. But a medium Melton Mowbray does come up in the top ten of my ‘Favourite’ items on my Sainsbury’s on line ordering system. Says it all really. May be I should deliberately run out of Branston pickle. Rendering the pie unappetising. But that would incur the wrath of Youngest. Who is pickle mad. Dilemmas, dilemmas.

Keep going to my exercise class once a week. Which is fun. And not reward myself afterwards with an extra cuppa and couple of biscuits. Bad mummy….

That is it really. I don’t want to lose a lot of weight. Just a ‘couple’ of pounds. Or so. Obviously I don’t actually know how many I want to lose as I can’t weigh myself. But I am guessing seven will do it. By May. Do-able. I hope.

Wish me luck.



Stuff what I have learnt today — October 8, 2015

Stuff what I have learnt today


So here goes. Some random stuff I have discovered today.

  • It is possible to drive to my kids’ school and back in under 15 minutes when on a games kit/ cello induced mercy dash.
  • If you turn up 15 minutes late to an exercise class you just miss the boring warm up and only semi important station explanation. Although I may discover tomorrow how vital that warm up is.
  • Deleting about 18 months worth of text messages will turn your phone back into a relatively responsive tool.
  • The shops are no longer full of orange hued home accessories now I have decided that orange is to be the accent colour for our newly decorated lounge.
  • It is apparently Christmas already.
  • Allowing the kids off music practice in the morning so they can get more sleep after a school induced late night will see us all falling out.
  • It is quite pleasant to write blogs in Costa.
  • Belgian chocolate tea cakes make that even pleasanterer.
  • My phone’s predictive text will predict good when I want home and home when I want good. Which makes that sentence really hard to get right.
  • One should keep an eye on boiling potatoes rather than ignoring them to write.
  • It is best to wait for the ceramic hob to cool down before clearing up boiled over water. Unless you like the smell of burnt J cloth.
  • Allowing Eldest to have a phone not only heads off games kit/ cello induced emergencies but also allows him to text me cute messages which make me feel better about the tiredness induced morning arguments.
  • I enjoy employing deliberate grammatical errors in my writing. Not sure why. Probably so I can claim any actual errors are supposed to be there. And to annoy pedants.
  • My reverse parking sensors are wildly over cautious. And I actually need gate post sensors.
  • Asking Middlest to be quick out of school will make us late for football training.
  • People are still wearing leggings that are see through enough to be correctly categorised as tights.
  • It is impossible to watch the final of the Bake Off a day late and not discover who the winner is during that day. And I don’t mind that much.
  • As much as I love Billy Joel he doesn’t cut it driving music wise. And I still prefer soft rock.
  • If I would like Youngest to practise her times tables I must threaten the removal of football training.
  • I can’t do bullets on my phone and will have to add them at home later before the scheduled publishing time. Home more to do at good I mean good more to do at home.
  • We can still name all the characters on In the Night Garden. And Makka Pakka is still our favourite. Isn’t that a pip?
  • I still don’t know when to use practice and when to use practise. So I looked it up. C for noun, s for verb. So I need to practise and get some practice in.
  • I care about accent colours.
  • That last discovery worries me most.

So there you have it. Just a normal day. One is always learning.
If you are my husband then obviously the Costa is not part of my normal day. Honest gov.

Lasagna… — October 4, 2015



Today I made a new meal for tea. I am trying to widen my repertoire.

It is a risky business as I am never sure of the reception such ventures will get.

By scouring the internet I had managed to find a recipe for cheese free lasagna. I had managed to source gluten free pasta sheets. I could assemble the meal and leave it on automatic to reheat. Essential whilst I dealt with the ferrying that a usual Thursday evening entails.

It is true that some of the constituent parts may have fallen foul of someone’s dislike radar. Mushrooms…youngest, spinach….everyone under 12, crème fraiche…husband. I decided to risk it.

Youngest loves lasagna as long is it is ‘not too cheesy’. We have banned her from ordering it in untried restaurants. I am sick of having to swap my delicious meal for a child’s sized portion of oven baked pasta which has failed the ‘fromage’ test. This lasagna had no cheese. Due to husband. But that also played to Youngest’s foible. And so I decided she had to suck up the mushrooms.

As everyone knows spinach tastes of nothing when incorporated with other ingredients and is just there to provide colour interest and make mothers feel better. And so again I thought I could get away with it.

I just closed my ears to the crème fraiche.

Everything else should have passed muster. Sausagemeat, pasta, passata, mild chilli, garlic, a few herbs, some seasoning.

When I was assembling it at 8.30 this morning it smelt fantastic.

Cunningly I had made the off spring wait until after Youngest had returned from football training to eat. By which point it was a full two hours later than we usually dine.

Eldest would probably have eaten anything, literally anything, I put in front of him. Brillo pad en croute… Middlest had spent the 40 minutes it took the dish to bake standing in front of the oven door peering in. I had to physically restrain him from opening up that door to ‘check it was cooking’ on several occasions. Youngest had spent 90 minutes running around a sports hall.

And to top it all apparently it is one of Mary Berry’s grandchildren’s favourites.

And so I had high hopes.

Eldest shovelled his portion down. Middlest declared it was delicious. I was immediately suspicious. This usually means he doesn’t like something. True enough despite being apparently ‘starving’ in the immediate period before serving he was ‘stuffed’ after barely half a plateful…

Youngest peered suspiciously at the ‘bits of sausage’ declaring that they looked a lot like slices of mushroom. They were but I got away with it. I banned her from out sorting all that green, healthy stuff and she managed to eat her plateful. Albeit with little enthusiasm.

Husband didn’t enjoy it at all. To be fair it probably wasn’t so good after a second reheating. And I should never close my ears to crème fraiche.

So I am not sure if it will make another appearance.

Probably not.

And this is why we eat the same meals over and over again.

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