Archive for December, 2007

Quiet times

Monday, December 31st, 2007

I like these quiet days between Christmas and New Year. As a child they were filled with selection boxes for breakfast, large jigsaws, board games, time to read, and old films on the sofa with quality streets, and they are not so different now. No pressure to get out and make the most, just quiet pottering. I will be pleased when the children are big enough to enjoy a large jigsaw too, but am enjoying hanging out with them and their (huge number of) new toys.

We interrupted the peace yesterday for cBeebies Live! at the MEN arena. Lots of very excited (yet very well-behaved: cBeebies attracts a Very Nice crowd) preschoolers headed to Manchester to ingest sugar and wave glowy things at all their favourite cBeebies characters and, even more excitingly, Justin and Sarah-Jane! We sniggered to ourselves when some scally stagehand drove off in Edie McCredie’s bus (shouldn’t have left it unlocked in Manchester) but it was otherwise, and quite properly, aimed entirely at the children. Maggie mostly watched open-mouthed and almost unbreathing, though she did join in with some shouting and singing: Tamsin, who  I had expected not to take much notice, was terribly excited by the whole thing, bouncing and clapping to the music and pointing at everything like crazy, as well as trying to escape to get down to the stage for a good look.

My sister and her family are coming back over today for New Year: it will be the first in some time where neither Suzanne nor I are either pregnant or newborn-wrangling so I wonder if we will manage to stay up? An early night has been in danger of becoming traditional, while Chris and Cameron play video games, but it might be nice to make the effort this year.


Friday, December 21st, 2007

I’ve been out three times this week! Which from a standing start of not-at-all-after-dark for a whole year, is quite something. Monday, Sara and I went to a carol concert at the cathedral (you surely didn’t imagine I’d been on the razzle), which was lovely if utterly freezing. Proper carols and a bit of John Rutter: just the ticket. Tuesday, I stayed at home for a jolly evening of editing (until quarter to sodding eleven) punctuated by intermittent running up and down stairs to see T, who was most restless and now has a cold. Cameron went out (we are like the weather people). Wednesday I went to Sara’s festive girl’s night – Sara is like a bus too; don’t see her for ages then it is every day for a week – getting a taxi home! See me get the hang of socialising again! And last night Sara babysat while C and I went to see Beowulf. In 3D, which was very cool – we had to wear silly glasses and everything. The film itself…well, Mia’s review sums it up rather well: it is very silly, I giggled at his sahf lahndon “I’ve come ter kill yer monstah”, and the strategically positioned candlesticks are hilarious. I can’t believe it got a 12 rating as it was quite explicit and very gruesome in places, and Grendel was rubbish and just not creepy at all. Fun, though!
In between, I made stollen. Anybody who is anybody is making it this year: Christmas cake is just so 2006. I followed Nigel’s recipe, because I love and trust him, but (apologies to Lisa (whose permalinks are knackered but try the 14th December: she made stollen too but not without a little dig at people who mess with recipes)) I did fiddle it a little. I used dried yeast because that is what I had – surely that is what everybody has – and a sultana catastrophe* meant I had to use cherries/peel/currants/cranberries/almonds as the filling, but that works very well. The cardamom is glorious in it but it is rather more bready/less cakey than stollens I have eaten previously. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.
*The jar leapt from the cupboard in eagerness and smashed into a million tiny shards on the floor.

I can do random

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Tagged by Karen, I am not in the least self-important and anything that provides a nice simple task to divert me from the three half-composed posts lurking here is welcomed.

But first, the rules:

  1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  2. People who are tagged need to write a post on their own blog (about their eight things) and post these rules.
  3. At the end of your blog, choose people to get tagged and list their names.  Or don’t.  Who’s going to check?

OK, here’s my eight:

  1. I am in a pre-Christmas flap, not helped by having evenings out planned (why now, when I haven’t been out all year?!) and made even worse by this ridiculous insistence on making virtually everything properly, from scratch, myself. Where does that come from?
  2. I really want to learn to sail. I love boats. One day I will. Why didn’t I do it when I was a student?
  3. I was a really good waitress (it’s all about attention to detail, people – so editing and waitressing go hand in hand in my opinion) but lacked the bicep strength to be very good at silver service and am glad I don’t have to do it any more.
  4. I went to a carol concert at Chester Cathedral last night, which was lovely if freezing.
  5. I want to stroke a tiger.
  6. I have a great sense of direction and am hardly ever lost, but I cannot link the words left and right with the appropriate direction – apparently it is a form of dyslexia - which means I am hopeless at giving directions. I’ll draw you a map with no problem whatsoever but put me in the passenger seat and apply a bit of pressure and I’ll be there going turn left (flaps right hand)! no no not that way! I said left (gesticulating rightwards). This causes much marital strife as Cameron is terribly literal in his interpretation of directions and ignores handflaps (at his peril).
  7. My first word as a baby was brandy. Start as you mean to go on, I say.
  8. I have eaten more chocolate than is probably recommended this evening: Cameron is out, Tamsin is very restless, and I have 20 pages of anticancer gubbins to edit before I can go to bed. I feel a bit sick.

And I nominate Kitchenwitch, to provide a break from her thesis; Ally, who has lost her blog muse; Mia, who is always full of random oddness (in a good way) and VP, because I am just getting to know her.


Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

I am most unimpressed with Debenhams. If you’d asked me Friday, I’d have been thrilled with them: I even rang my mum to tell her what great service I had received. There’s a dress I spotted and wanted for Maggie for Christmas, only my local branch didn’t have her size. When my mum told me her local branch didn’t have it either, I checked the website, to find it was sold out there too. But wait! They claim that if you telephone they will check if it is in stock anywhere in the country and get it to you!

Fantastic! I thought. I rang them; they found several dresses around the country, I paid and never expected to hear any more about it – apart from singing the praises of Debenhams to all and sundry.

Until today, when I received a phonecall to explain that actually it was sold out all over the country. Rather than, you know, contacting one of the stores who had it at the time it was supposedly “sold” over the phone, and having it put by, they had waited (until today?) to try and get hold of one – only to find there were none left.

The matching one in Tamsin’s size arrived today – which I can either return or keep, I suppose, having paid nearly £5 to have it sourced and posted (if I had wanted it in just T’s size I could have bought it in the Chester branch for no P&P at all).

I’m unhappy and am going to write and tell them so. I’ll let you know if I get a reply.


Monday, December 10th, 2007

This weekend we have braved Chester and its hordes of shoppers in the rain (me); been to Tumbletots (C and M); ordered some very expensive bespoke furniture for the living room (me and C); had a haircut (C and M); had a lovely chinese takeaway (me and C and C’s parents); had a rotten night mostly awake (T and me and a bit C as well); been to Borders (C and M and C’s parents), the garden centre (everybody but me) and the supermarket (C); been to a very manic 4th birthday party (me, M, T) of 20-odd children; cooked a mammoth not-Christmas roast (me and C’s mum) and been to the cinema (me and C)! Phew.

We saw the golden compass. I was really excited about it coming out: the books are comfortably within my all-time top ten favourites. Then, last week, I had a chat with Mia, who made me a bit nervous by citing all the other loved books that had been spoilt a bit by being filmed. Well, Mia, it hasn’t spoilt anything. The imagery was great; the acting was good: Daniel Craig might not be my Lord Asriel but Nicole Kidman was a far better Mrs Coulter than I had expected and the rest of the casting was lovely. Roger was just gorgeous and I liked the goldy sparklies which showed her interpreting the alethiometer.

I don’t think it will have inspired Cameron to read the books (I so want him to), but I don’t think he hated it either.

It was very rushed: quick, Lyra, run away, then on a boat then oops off we go to the north have a battle quick quick – but the books are so dense I suppose it had to be – particularly as it is, I suppose, meant to be a children’s film (it was 2 hours as it is); equally, it was enormously simplified and none of the characters were given much depth. Hester, who I love so much I nearly named my second baby after her, was merely a pair of (gorgeously long) ears and a couple of lines.

It might have made a better television adaptation – a series, to give time for character development and detail – but I’ll be hare-footing (geddit? ha ha) along to the next one if and when it is released.

I’ve got a date

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

Does anyone know about dates?

No, no, the fruit.

Yes I know I could google it, or look it up on wiki, but I’d so much prefer it if one of you would tell me (or look it up for me) instead.

Here is what is worrying me. Are they dried fruit, like prunes and whatnot, or do they grow like that all brown and squashy and weird? If they are dried, what do they look like beforehand and why don’t you ever see them for sale? Are they bletted, perhaps (there’s a word I have always wanted to use and never previously found the occasion for)?

I bought some at the farm shop yesterday. Very Christmassy. The girls thought they were nasty (T threw hers on the floor with some force, M tried to wipe her tongue) – which surprised me, as they are very sweet. I ate mine, though not with enormous relish. One is nice: two, unnecessary.


Thursday, December 6th, 2007

Originally uploaded by Turquoise Lisa

Twenty-storey non-stop snowstorm

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

After gently joshing Karen about the impeccable neatness of her (and Pete‘s) bag – what, no receipts? – I was inspired to empty mine. All the way to the bottom; I suspect I have never excavated so far in the year since I was given it. I haven’t photographed it, that would scare you.

The bag itself: I was given it by my mother-in-law last Christmas (you will need a big bag now you have two children). I love it. It is large and black and has brightly coloured batik cats all over it: the only problem, if I was looking for something to complain about, is also its virtue: it is so capacious things just disappear into its depths. I use it both as handbag and nappy bag, though when (if) I go out without children I decant* purse, keys and phone into a smaller bag – like Karen, I wonder what I carried before I had children (and went here to find out: links a bit erratic so scroll down to the 18th) – and skip along feeling light and unburdened.


  • Two hats for Tamsin; one woolly and bobbly and oh so cute, the other pink and jersey and also very cute.
  • One nappy: size 1 totsbot, yellow.
  • My notebook, full of random scribblings. Lists, recipes, addresses, Japanese vocabulary (I’ve had it a long time).
  • Red gloves, mine.
  • Fruit knife.
  • a brown leather purse, in which I keep vouchers and cash that has been given to me and the girls as presents – in principle, if we are out and I see something they might like (a new toy or similar) I can use that to get it. In practice, I forget it is there.
  • Tamsin’s mittens: they match the woolly hat, above, and she will not keep them on.
  • My prescription sunglasses.
  • A powder compact: Clinique, quite ancient.
  • Crabtree and Evelyn comfort cream (for nappies) – rarely used but you never know.
  • My purse: fat with reward cards and bus tickets.
  • A pen.
  • An old to-do list (which, I note, contains “tax return” as its first item. I really must.)
  • Two contact lenses – one for each eye, which is pretty good going.
  • Keys to my parents’ house. Must give them back.
  • A sachet of lemsip.
  • An old shopping list (snow-white costume, boots, birthday cards for October birthdays).
  • A receipt for library fines.
  • Lipstick (I cannot remember the last time I applied it).
  • A doll shoe, small and pink.
  • Tamsin’s sippy cup, yellow, half an inch of water (recently put in the bag).
  • A small tupperware with some cheesy nibbles for Tamsin.
  • Happy hippy out and about spray (like this).
  • Wipes: expensive eco ones. Like Karen, it worries me that normal branded ones remove pen and paint so well: they are also the best way to clean my stainless steel kitchen bin and make it shiny. I do sometimes buy asda fragrance-free, because they are so very cheap, though.
  • One admission ticket, child, to Stockley Farm. I think we went in August.
  • My phone: Nokia, 3 years old. If I agreed not to upgrade last summer they slashed my tariff by 2/3. Who needs a whizzy phone?

*what word do I mean, here?