Summer sort of lovin’

Yes I bet there are a thousand UK based bloggers typing away about how bloody hot it was yesterday. Instagram was full of photos of ice-creams drooping. The papers were packed with stories of saharan temperatures on the tube. People talked in the park about how the dog blistered his paws, how the builders knocked off early and basically moaning about how sweaty it all got. Not me. I chuffing love hot days. I look for any excuse to join M in the paddling pool, or run through the garden sprinkler. Yep i’m like a child in a waterpark “more fun! more water! more SUN! ICE CREEEEEAM”

Yesterday we skived the afternoon off nursery and headed to Granary Square to play in the fountains. If you haven’t been (yourself or with kids- for they really are optional and probably only a hindrance to the real fun) GO. While short stops frolicked in the spray, adults sat around drinking Pimms, enjoying ice cream and catching some rays. One brave (somewhat inappropriate) lady stripped off to her plus-sized bra and pants and stood in the water having a smoke. Whatever rocks your boat. This was the darker side of Kings Cross not so long ago, a M&S bra and pants combo isn’t going to cause too much upset. Honestly, as long as people aren’t spoiling my enjoyment of a sunny day I really couldn’t care less what they get up to.

Yes. Someone spoiled my enjoyment of a sunny day. Mister C at number 3. He is having his garden installed. “It is a complex design” he assures me. This means ripping out all of the old garden and having paving laid, flowers beds created and all that shizzle. Fine so far, and really not so complicated. Apart from the DEAFENING tile cutting and brick cutting that pissed all over the two hottest days of 2015 and meant I had to shut all windows and doors so as not to be overcome by dust and RAGE (I failed on the latter). I mean, who in god’s name has a garden done in JULY. I hope his new plants wither in the heat and die.

  

This morning, before his builders started I snuck out to my not-so-complex but really lovely and full of flowers garden to enjoy a cup of coffee in the relative peace of Islington. No sirens, no motorbikes revving, no car alarms. Bliss.

BRRRRRRRZZZZZZHHHHHHH BBBBRRRRRRRRRZZZZZZZZHHHHHH

a fucking leaf blower.

London doesn’t deserve the sunshine.

Diary of a wimpy kid

IMG_2286

IMG_2286

Lately I have found myself frowning when M doesn’t run off and join in with her friends with gay abandon. I find myself urging her to climb the highest climbing frame or try the zip wire, or the tunnel slide, SEE HOW FUN IT LOOKS!! I find myself nudging her to volunteer to go on stage when we are the theatre. My brow furrows when she clings onto my leg before a swimming lesson, reluctant to dive in. As I watch her bail out of a climbing frame I ask myself how did i end up with the wimpy kid?! Look at all these others parents at the park reading their books, chatting, listening to music while their offspring tear around until homet-ime. Yet, here I am ankle deep in fox-piss drenched sand, watching her slide down the shallowest of slides. Or I’m climbing the cargo net to recover a trembling 4 year old from the top. Soft play? NO PLAY. She climbed with a friend to the second level (go M!!) then got the heebie jeebies and needed rescuing. 

Sometimes her shyness and reluctance to just throw caution to the wind worries me. I turn to google for reassurance (always a clever move, right?). It turns out people have studied the shit out of children’s temperaments for YEARS. It turns out she is perfectly normal, verging on the “slow to warm up” end of the scale. This means new situations can be daunting. That she likes to watch from the sidelines while her friends do something before joining in. It means she needs support “its ok, it will be fun but you can watch for a bit” but also encouragement “you know, if you wait too long we will have to leave and you might miss your chance to try it”. Basically she needs the non-alcoholic version of dutch courage. I need to remember this. I need to not get frustrated. Going from a high pressure career to a slow paced home life can result in me channeling my energy unfairly into M. oops.

I see this temperament in so many aspects of her life. She builds loving and strong relationships with the adults who care for her at school, at her football lessons, at swimming. She holds their hands while she heads into her next new adventure. She thrives on that support. In portuguese they call it knowing your back is warm “tem as costas quentes”, that feeling of someone having your back, that warm reassurance.

Even as a baby in music classes she would sit a few inches infant of me participating with her instruments while the others would crawl around gumming on curtains and licking floors.

And do you know what? I was EXACTLY the same as a child. So who the bloody hell am I to complain! Also,  today on the way to school, our bus nearly hit a boy who ran across the road with no care or attention, I think i’ll stick with the kid who would always wait for the green man and her mum’s hand. At least I’ll get her home in one piece.

Our half term hol-iDay

We are back. We had a whole week in PROPER sunshine. We have tan lines. We have clothes stained with suncream and sorbet. We have shoes full of sand that really ought to have been batted out before packing. We have experienced summer and we bloody loved it. Yes english insipid spring, I’m looking accusingly at your poor show thus far and JUDGING. We didn’t even go far. Greece. Yup, even a country with an economy on its knees can afford a decent burst of summer fun.

This is where I have to admit how uncultured I’ve become. I hear you already “ooh Greece, where civilisation was born, all that history!” Well…we didn’t see anything older than 50 years (apart from the woman by the pool who may well have been dropped on the sun-bed by Icarus judging by her leathery tanned cleavage). We didn’t bloody want to. Yes yes, when I was younger and full of vim I travelled across Bolivia on a flea ridden horse to sleep in a rainforest; I danced on the salt plains of Uyuni; I sailed across Lake Titicaca to walk on those reed islands; I traversed Rajasthan in searing heat to see the Taj Mahal at 5am (the sunrise! so glorious!); I pootled up Keralan backwaters to stay on a farm; I joined a Malaysian chef in a treehouse surrounded by monkeys to learn how to cook authentic Rendang. The main difference was before M I had energy to burn! I could stay up late, and rise early and embrace all those experiences in the care-free way one can afford when not responsible for the survival of another human being. Now I’m too bloody exhausted. Now I want a good hotel room, a quiet (enough) beach and good pool-side service. I want a bloody Margarita at around 4pm and I can tell you now, they don’t serve those in the middle of the Peruvian wilderness. Not with a bowl of roasted almonds anyway.

Anyway back to Greece. Just before we left there was a mildly amusing meme doing the rounds of modern day tan  lines. Suggesting we will all have marks across our chests from holding smart phones/ I pads in the sunshine. I smiled and thought, surely not, surely nobody pays to go somewhere hot, settles on a sunbed and then neglects to put down the one thing that stops them truly relaxing and prevents them engaging with the humans they share their lives with.

I was hilariously wrong.

I am still gobsmacked at how many people sat in the sun or the shade and ignored their families and gorgeous surroundings (we had a view of mount olympus!) so that they could play candy crush or some other childish game. One particular mum tuned out her daughter who kept begging her to take photos of her in the pool and spent hours tap tapping at her screen. No doubt telling twitter how great the holiday that was happening beyond the phone was. Another family, yes an ENTIRE FAMILY of four sat in the shade on sun-beds each with their own console. Fully dressed. This made me rage. Let someone use those beds for what they were designed for . SUN WORSHIP. We saw them at a local restaurant that night. While the adults ate, the kids played on iPads with headphones in.

They were not the minority. This scene was played out on, I’d venture, 70% of tables that had kids seated. The equivalent of a dummy for their brains. This terrifies me. Are we raising an entire generation who cannot fucking switch off from technology long enough to converse? To look at the food in-front of them? To consider whether they might be full or hungry? They looked like robots shovelling anonymous forkfuls into their half gawping mouths while their eyes and ears were trained on films or games. We had our 4 year old with us. Yes she gets restless once the order for food is placed. So we wandered away from the table to look at the crabs and lobsters in the water tank, we threw bread to the fish in the marina, we played Uno, we let her colour pictures, we took photos of each other, we asked what she had enjoyed doing that day, she asked if she could have ice-cream for pudding, we told her off for eating too much bread, she stole squid from our plates. Yes it would have been relaxing to have a purely adult conversation, but we had M with us and she is our family and I want her to grow up knowing we care about what she has to say, and knowing how to listen to others, and to wait for her turn in a conversation. I want her to learn that not all behaviour is acceptable at a dinner table, but that doesn’t make eating out boring. I want her to think about her food and to try new things, if she had been looking at a screen she would never have been intrigued enough to try all the fab local food as it rained down on the table in mezze sized portions: squid, octopus, whitebait, scallops, halloumi. I want her to engage with the world around her, not a virtual one on a screen.

We were in such a beautiful resort and I’m glad she enjoyed it enough to cry when we left because she wanted to stay forever. I bloody wanted to as well, pickle.

IMG_2946

Let’s hear it for the (birthday) boy!

  
This week is BUSY. Not only am I knee deep in holiday packing, but it is also W’s birthday.

 In the far reaches of my mind I see us on the beach: margarita in hand, sun cream under my nails, M dropping her hat as she runs to the sea and W struggling to get into whichever book I’ve recommended. But like I say, FAR REACHES. Right now I’ve counted 9 pairs of Disney knickers into the case, struck out “calpol sachets” from the packing list and found yet another forgotten gift for the wrapping pile. And in the midst of this mundane, yet bafflingly time-consuming activity I have to bake the boy a cake. Which of course M wants to decorate.

I picked a Greek cake to match the upcoming holiday. Fucking mistake. Turns out their recipe is about as shaky as their finances. After following it religiously I had to throw the sloppy appley mess into the bin. 5 eggs that cost me! I suddenly feel all German about this Southern European disaster.

Then…down to my last scraps of eggs, sugar and butter I had to bake another bloody cake pronto before school pickup. Thank god for the heavenly marriage of chocolate orange and the joy of the one bowl mix. I may have been a sweety chocolate smeared mess when I left home for school but I smelt like something Terry would devour. 

M decorated it in her own flair and we ate it for breakfast. Cos that’s what birthdays are for right?! 

Frosted chocolate orange cake

125g butter

1tbsp grated orange rind

3 eggs 

1 3/4 cups SR. Flour

1 1/3 cup caster sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 tsp bicarb

1/2 cup orange juice

1/4 cup water

Basically mix all of those together at once and pour into a 20cm round tin. Bake at 160 for an hour. But do check with a skewer as mine was done j. About 50 minutes. 

The icing is 90g dark choc melted with 30g butter. Then when melted throw in a cup of icing sugar and enough hot water to make it spreadable. I added grated orange rind to mine but you don’t have to. 

 

Pissing hell…literally

Things I have learned today:

  

  1. Homerton hospital paeds a&e is SO much nicer than the adults bit.
  2. A child can go 12 hours with a full bladder and still not pee
  3. You will always break down before they do

M fell at school. A “straddle” fall if you consult Google. She basically smashed her bottom (front and back ones) on a big plastic toy. Yup. You’re wincing. It must fucking kill, right? She can’t pee for screaming. So we went to a&e to check no serious damage was made and get some help. My god, what a great department they run at Homerton, and quiet! I guess kids a&e doesn’t have a rush hour of drunks every evening. We were seen swiftly, and by the friendliest faces who managed to make M laugh through her tears. Sadly they couldn’t make her pee. So we were sent home with a sticker and a packet of fruit pastilles (not a single purple one ffs, anything else you want to throw my way world?!) from the vending machine, and told to keep her drinking and trying to pee.

I have a lovely friend called Dr Cat. M thinks she is a cat who is a doctor. Who am I to contradict? Anyway, she has been so mentally brilliantly helpful. It made me cry. Well that and M begging to do sports day tomorrow. Way too much for this emotional mother.

It’s going to be a long bloody night isn’t it.

Sorry, nothing to see here people

Yup, I know. Where the hell has the baking/ranting gone, right?! Well while the twitter-sphere and blogosphere and any other casual-writing-ospheres worked themselves up into a frenzy over the “is your body beach ready?” advert, citing sexism, body shaming and the rest (probably rightly so) my mind (-osphere?)  thought “shit, no it isn’t!”

I’m on the holiday-fast-approaching-gotta-find-those-abs-or-at-least-see-past-my-gut workout. It isn’t as horrific as it sounds. I get to stop running long enough to use a loo, and eat at least once a week. I jest. I am SENSIBLE people. But it means I’m off baking: I’m flinging protein, complex carbs, seeds and leafy greens down my neck and can’t believe it doesn’t all taste like the shit I imagined it to be. 

I’ve dusted off a few of the healthier cookery books usually used to prop up the recipe shelf, and while the Hemsley sisters can shove their avocado and lime cheesecake and quinoa apricot loaf up their no doubt wonderfully toned arses, I can heartily recommend their pep-up tea. It rescued me from a horrific cold (spring gift from M), and made me feel ridiculously virtuous as I drank it. Smug infact. 

Smug tea.

2tbsp grated ginger

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

Juice half a lemon

600ml boiling water. 

Stew all the gubbins in the water for 10mins. Strain and take a poncey photo. Tastes good hot or cold. Super spiced and zingy. I think you’re meant to add cayenne, but I overruled.

  

The Generous Selection 

M has renamed the election (or mispronounced it), and I approve. We can choose mainstream right or left, or liberalism, or nationalism, or environmentalism, or loonyism or downright fascism. And what a generous selection that is, regardless of who you choose.

Twitter, on the 7th May was awash with “your vote matters” “don’t forget to vote” “every vote counts” hashtags. On the 8th the comments changed to “the country has no soul” “how could people vote Tory, do they want us all to DIE?!” 

Interesting . It’s great for people to vote if their vote only supports your own?! That’s gotta be a new one on democracy.