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Tuesday, 31 July 2007


So yes, sadly we have returned to Dulwich from our annual sojourn by the sea. It was reported in the press at the weekend that a Great White was observed swimming in the local waters frightening the tourists and putting off the surfers. Big Ana (our clinically obese, pregnant blonde au pair) had spent days body boarding in the surf with the delighted children...

Why do people insist on putting those enormous ugly luggage pods on the top of their cars when driving up and down the motorway? There were literally dozens of them on the M3 yesterday. Couldn't they simply drive a bigger car like mine?

I wonder how those pods work anyway? How do you get them on top of your car without spoiling the paint work?

Surely they must be packed like a great big Delsey suitcase prior to being attached to the car? I imagine they are fabric lined, with little pouches for shoes and dividers so that appliances like hair straightening irons and hair dryers do not rub against white jeans or crack open shampoo or Kerastase hair treatment containers? I mean, it must surely be packed in the house or else how could one sit on it to ensure that it closed? But then, if it is packed first how would it be safely lifted onto the roof of the car?

Ana couldn't possibly pack it already in situ on top of the car. All of the neighbours would be sure to see the contents...

Perhaps filled pods are lowered onto cars via a specially constructed tripod and pulley or even from an upstairs window? But then how would it be removed and unpacked upon arrival? What if your pod were to spring open on the motorway, I would die if my underwear to end up in the hands of a lorry driver!

Oh the conundrum that is the pod.

I don't much like the idea of those roof bicycle racks either, they look very precarious.

I strapped some chicken giblets to the under side of Ana's board yesterday morning when she was exercising just before we left, just to check for any "predators" in the bay, so I can safely say there are no sharks currently in Cornwall. Though I must admit that Ana was badly nibbled by a shoal of Mackerel...

Friday, 27 July 2007

The Eden Project

This morning we set off in the super Audi Q7 for The Eden Project. Don't you simply despise such highly accoladed, socially conscientious, positively compulsory entertainment experiences? Similar in ways to films like Schindler's List; 'a must see,' but not fun and bloody depressing?

Oh well, the munchkins would have been sure to deny that we had been there despite the availability of Eden Project post cards in the hotel lobby, so we set out for the day like lemmings.

Having parked in the 'Banana' car park area (we could have parked in Melon, Lime or Strawberry) my girls (au pair and PA) took the children for the Eco grand tour, while I perused the shopping emporia. I have purchased an entire new set of Eco shopping bags, they will ensure that every other Dulwich mum will be seething with jealousy. The bags are bright primary coloured Eco friendly jute with "The Eden Project" emblazoned across the front and crucially not available for purchase on-line! I shall throw out my less fashionable collection of M&S/Sainsbury's Eco bags immediately upon my return to Dulwich.

I do not mean to detract from the Eco message in any way, I am aware that the unfortunate population of Greece and other Mediterranean countries have been experiencing 'furnace like temperatures' this summer whilst middle England is up to its bottom in river water, and so dramatic measures are called for. I am actually rather proud of my Eden Project cutting collection which I gathered this afternoon (an enormous designer handbag and nail scissors have many uses!). I have tobacco (Grandpa Charles would be lost without his cigars and Wales has been heating up somewhat of late) grapes (a girl needs her sustenance) cocoa plant (chocolate - ditto), tea (I always look after my darling mother)and on the way out I ordered a great fruiting lemon tree to be delivered to my home upon my return. What would a G&T be without it? Well, with all of this pre-occupation with global warming - it would seem complacent not to, don't you agree? Shortages of essential fruit and vegetables are apparently just around the corner.

I met the munchkins and my help by the exit, and took darling Freya to the toilet in preparation for our car journey home. My dumpling was vocal in her disgust regarding the condition of the conveniences. The water in the area is clearly thick with limescale, and the toilets have been terribly stained by yellow 'water' type marks.

"Mummy," shrieked my baby,

"these Eden people have not been using Toilet Duck."

"I know darling,"
I confirmed.

I was just grateful that I had a pocket pack of Kleenex Tissues in my bag, I could not bear to inflict the dreadful Eco toilet tissue on my darlings nether regions - surely a hardship too far!

A sudden downpour of rain on our short walk to the car followed and the dreadful Eco shopping bags have completely ruined my brand new Boden white jeans. I am disgusted, they are covered in Indigo blue dye. These Eco people are far too driven in my estimation. I fear there are unspeakable hardships ahead of us all.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

High Jinks

This morning we went to Watergate Bay. Ana (the au pair) and Lydia (my PA) have been complaining bitterly of the cold - well it is the Atlantic Ocean after all, and although the munchkins seem to adore body boarding endlessly with the girls I decided to buy them both super sweet little O'Neill wetsuits from the Surf Academy to keep the tiny poppets cosy. Well I am a mother after all and their welfare is always my primary concern.

One of the lovely Polish waitresses at the hotel congratulated me at breakfast for being the head of such a close knit family. She said it made her rather homesick to see a grandma holiday with her two daughters and grandchildren...

I was strolling along the fabulous beach when I noticed a great Labrador type dog bouncing in the surf - apparently directed to do so by a number of young men. The boys had sun bleached hair the colour of sweetcorn and at least two of them sounded Antipodean. They then crept back behind some rocks and ordered the dog to go and shake himself out by some young girls who were sun bathing close by. The girls were lying face down on some towels with their bikini tops undone. The boys were a complete scream. I could not believe their outrageously funny plan - and it worked! The dog did exactly as it was ordered, and the three boys were elated by the results, dispensing each other various exotic hand shakes by way of congratulations.

I laughed out loud and thought I would die with laughter. It was like a scene from a Benny Hill Show (I would imagine). I wonder how many times they have worked that scam already this summer? I wish I was young again. Sometimes I feel such a very old bat. I am sure I am far too much like Margot from The Good Life as I pad about the resort in my super swish Kaftan's and perfect pedicures.

Oh who cares, I don't need to be young to feel good about myself. Who wants to sleep in a bag and abide in a Volkswagon Camper Van? Where would I plug in my straightening iron? I shall drink an entire bottle of Chablis tonight if I wish, hell at least I can afford it!

Sunday, 22 July 2007


You simply would not believe the difficulties I experience when trying to groom my darling Freya’s hair! Lydia (my PA) was relatively successful yesterday morning and actually managed to construct two relatively symmetrical bunches. Naturally, she has not allowed us to come near her with the hair brush since and by this morning one of the bobbles had fallen out. Clearly the remaining hair accessory needed to be removed. There was a scuffle, screaming, nail involvement and even some spiting – I so hate to admit. I wonder if social services would become involved if they knew…

This afternoon I took my perfect Max to visit The National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow. The munchkin is a typical five year old boy and fascinated by anything with claws. The poppet was completely enthralled by the enormous crustaceans; to his complete disgust all had their claws tethered. Max wanted to see the lobsters lop off the odd tourist’s finger (although not his own – clearly).

I remember as a child my mother told us a funny story about a lobster – Max was completely tickled by it when I passed it on to him. Brenda was raised in Ireland, and she lived in a two up two down terraced house in Dublin with her parents, an unmarried aunt and thirteen brothers and sisters. A neighbour of theirs once gave them a lobster – I am afraid I cannot remember what had occasioned the highly unusual gift. The only instruction given to my grandma regarding its preparation was that it was to be plunged into a great pot of boiling water and left to simmer.

Apparently my grandma was horrified to observe that the lobster was in fact alive and had its claws tethered. “It must be a cheap lobster, as it hasn’t even been killed and gutted,” she concluded. My aunty Louise felt sorry for the beastie and decided to untie it while grandma decided what to do. By all accounts the crustacean was as big as the family cat.

Untied, the lobster ran amok in the kitchen causing havoc and behaving in a most threatening and ungrateful manner. It was impossible to gain access to the kitchen to so much as boil the kettle for a cup of tea, until my grandfather returned from work. He took a spade into the room and along with the lobster, destroyed Grandma’s favourite willow pattern serving plate.

Apparently my grandma didn’t speak to her unfortunate neighbours again, and the lobster was buried in an ornately decorated plot in the garden. This is true, I saw the grave.

On reflection, I am inspired by aunty Louise’s courageous removal of the restraints from the lobster’s claws, apparently ignoring the potential danger to herself. I must ask her how she did it…

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Summer Holiday

The country roads of Cornwall are just not suited to capacious modern vehicles. Only this afternoon I realised I have swapped grid lock in South East London, for grid lock in Padstow. Would you believe a great Argos Direct van was coasting up the tiny country lanes? Dreadful city chain stores have no place in rural England. No place at all. How terribly homogeneous. I almost had a panic attack! Those dreadful blackberry briars do terrible things to my metallic paint work. My super Audi Q7 tdi cannot usually accommodate oncoming traffic of any description on these tiny tracks. The car park of Bedruthan Steps is simply bumper to bumper luxury four by four vehicles. We are at Dulwich-on-Sea!

I spent this afternoon perusing the shopping emporiums of the tiny Cornish fishing village. The streets were jammed with Bugaboo and Phil and Ted’s buggies, I was lucky not to have been run down by aggressive London daddies wearing White Stuff sweats and combat shorts propelling their precious offspring. What is the world coming to?

I visited a super shop called SeaSalt, selling all my favourite style of casual clothes virtually identical to Boden, along with Crocs (no cheap imitations) and Orla Kiely fare. It was just like being back in London! I bought James and tiny Max matching sweat shirts and shorts from the enormous White Stuff shop, and carried out my annual grand tour of the Rick Stein empire; Rick Stein’s CafĂ© for a Latte and biscotti, Steins interiors emporium for cushions and table wear, the Stein Patisserieto purchase Stein wine and perfect florentines for my darling Monster in Law, Steins Deli for interesting ingredients and preserves, the Stein Padstow Seafood School (to pick up a copy of their current programme) The Stein Seafood Restaurant to make a booking for myself and Vashi who arrived this evening, and St Petroc’s Bistro (owned by Stein) to book a table for lunch at the weekend. I even had the time to take a look around St. Edmund’s House (again a Stein) as a potential future destination (not a patch on Bedruthan).

How I love fine wine and fine dining. I called into Fifteen (Jamie Oliver’s trendy Cornish venture) to book a table for the weekend now that all of my chums have arrived.

How I love unspoilt authentic Cornwall. It really is the most relaxing holiday. I have had every treatment imaginable, and the children appear to be enjoying themselves too. They took a trip to Newquay earlier in the week to buy some trendy body boards. Newquay is not for me, it is far too commercial for my tastes, too close in character to Faliraki as far as I can imagine. My PA Lydia and au pair Ana appear to be enjoying themselves too.

Saturday, 14 July 2007


I had a bizarre discussion yesterday with my chum Lesley. I must admit I was a little startled by her language when I answered the telephone. I found it difficult to follow the conversation to begin with but eventually I grasped the important issue…

“I would like to enquire as to whether your filly would like to conjugate with my progeny for a little distraction on the morrow. Perhaps until sunset? Indeed, we can also accommodate your son and heir."

I was initially startled I must admit, but agreed to allow the children to go for a play date to Lesley’s house.

“It will indeed cheer and enliven my offspring when I convey the news,” she said. “I shall dispatch the au pair to rendezvous at your residence at thirteen hundred hours”…

Lesley’s super Polish au pair Magda has been working with the family for almost a full year, and her spoken English is now so fluent that she can confidently read to the children and help with their homework. Magda is a graduate, and has been talking recently about her desire to find an office job in London and move into a flat with some friends. Lesley is clearly alarmed by Magda’s plan and is becoming increasingly verbose in an effort to undermine Magda’s confidence.

By the end of my conversation with Lesley, I was convinced that I am not articulate enough to integrate into an English workplace myself! Honestly, the lengths some people will go to in an effort to keep good help. I have learned a lot from Lesley, she really is quite an inspiration…

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Desperate Housewives...

All across Dulwich tonight, conscientious mothers are trying to remain sane, wondering why the super local independent schools close for such long, long, long holidays. Chablis is being delivered by the case all over SE21 today, it's either mothers little helper or back to Prozac... The new Majestic Wines is doing a roaring trade!

If one must ply the darlings with fish oils from birth, pack their every waking hour during school term with Muzzy French, violin lessons and Kumon maths, what can one expect of these hyper stimulated off spring during the long school holidays? The poppets will certainly not be content to simply crash out in front of Cbeebies all summer long with the odd trip to the park! I hold the midwife who recommended playing classical music to my bump responsible, I have simply never let my darlings be.

Well the schools slammed their doors closed just last Wednesday afternoon, and by midday on Thursday, droves of term time working mummies were locking themselves in utility rooms and conservatories, putting their hands over their ears and singing "Like a Virgin" at the tops of their voices to distract themselves from murderous thoughts. The torment has begun!

I work full-time, and luckily escape the daily fun and games at home. My two darling munchkins shall attend Scamps camp all summer long, they enjoy camp so very much - I informed them of this fact just this morning before I ran out the door for the bus.

At the weekend we shall be off for two weeks of fun and games at Bedruthan Steps in Cornwall with the rest of Dulwich, yes we shall all be there, in our Boden uniforms - trying to look casual and relaxed. James is up to his eyes at work, and so I must soldier on alone...

Nevermind, I have invited Lydia my trusted PA to accompany us, and I booked all of my beauty treatments last Christmas. I shall enjoy my rest as I watch Lydia and the au pair battle with kites in high winds, cricket on a cold damp stretch of beach, and lumber Bonne Maman jars of sea creatures through rock pools with their trousers rolled up.

I may even encourage Ana to take the munchkins body boarding this year. The children don't mind the cold at all - so neither will she! I shall wave to them from the bar while I play with my Blackberry.

Oh hurrah! The summer is here.

It really isn't the weather for Pimms though is it?

Tuesday, 10 July 2007


When I was about nineteen years old, I escorted my mother on one of her annual pilgrimages abroad. She has been making these trips for as long as I can remember, to places like "The Holy Land," San Giovani, Rome, Fatima, Knock and Medjugorje. I was fascinated by the reports in the press at the time, regarding this small Serbo-Croatian village. Apparently the Virgin Mary herself was appearing there in person every single day. The sun had been reported to "spin, dart about and even become flat like the Eucharist," in the sky as a sign for all to see!

I must admit that I have always been a cynical 'so and so' and to Brenda's shame - far from devout. She had been relating tales of miracles, apparitions, the stigmata and bleeding/crying statues for many years. I was keen to observe this particular sensation at first hand and so (together with the rest of our parish) we flew to Split, and were accommodated in the modest, simple homes of the folk who lived in the village as no hotels had as yet been built to accommodate the droves of visiting comparatively wealthy, devout Christian visitors.

What a memorable trip this turned out to be...

Mrs Jones (my mother's widowed best friend) spent most of the pilgrimage sunning herself in the front garden of our cottage wearing a banana yellow coloured toweling hot pant suit. The local men were mesmerised by the outrageous behaviour of this post menopausal chunky female. Remember this was a simple small rural village where a large proportion of the locals were actually devout Muslim and everyone dressed modestly, as indeed usually did Mrs Jones. Clearly the laws of common decency do not apply to the British when abroad. Mrs Jones was on holiday and so she wore her hot pants, would she have done this in her front garden at home in Beckenham? Definitely not. I have a photo here by my side as I type ... shall I scan it in? Her son is a lawyer, perhaps not.

The locals spoke no English, some had a little German and as I had an 'A Level' in the subject, Mrs Jones often asked me to translate for her but it all soon became rather tiresome.

Mrs Jones was much more Ivy Tilsley than Liz Taylor and her immodest flirtatious behaviour was simply outrageous. Eventually when she asked me to translate the words of the retired uncle of the house, I grasped the opportunity and lied (well I was still only a teenager!):

"He says that you appear to have very firm breasts for a woman of your obvious great age," (I thought the sentence was so funny I wanted to expire with laughter). The poor man had actually asked if Mrs Jones would move to the back garden to lie in the sun in a less exposed position. Mrs Jones however winked at him and opened her remaining cardigan button.

On another occasion I told Mrs Jones that he had said; "she was clearly a sexually experienced woman who knew how to pleasure men". To my horror and fascination she delighted in the remark ... this went on for several days until my mother eventually overheard my interpretation and immediately recognised my signature sense of humour. Brenda insisted that I confess and quelle suprise, Mrs Jones still hates me now.

On reflection, I think Mrs Jones deserved it, she turned the front garden of that small cottage into a spectacle for the entire village, a kind of Spearmint Rhino for the over 55's. This was supposed to be a religious pilgrimage after all.

Sunday, 8 July 2007


My mother arrived unannounced from Beckenham this evening OHMYGOD... Why me? My entire life is simply disintegrating in front of my eyes.

This is the very first time I have ever indulged in this kind of cosmetic enhancement and my fundamentalist Roman Catholic mother turns up, unannounced the same weekend. Brenda has spent the afternoon alternately weeping and grilling me in the manner of the Spanish inquisition.

Apparently JK Rowling was on The Jonathan Ross Show on Friday night, and in the words of my mother "She once had a chin that could take the lid of a beer bottle, and eye bags big enough to do your shopping with" and "what in the name of God has that lovely girl done to herself?" - "And now you, my baby ... What has James done now to shatter your self confidence?" she cried, just as Ana (our pregnant au pair) shuffled into the kitchen in search of a pickled egg and some chorizo sausage...

Really, some things are best left unsaid, I just hate conflict.

Initially Brenda tried to insist that I took the children to stay with her for a while, but my mothers home looks so much like a tribute to Angela Lansbury, and the thought of that alone would surely bring on one of my heads. My mother hates James because he is a protestant, but she would prefer to have a protestant son in law than a divorced daughter...

When will the tears ever end?

Friday, 6 July 2007


I have been to visit a super clinic this afternoon as recommended to me by my chum Vashi. I went to consult "The Filler King" just to investigate the possibilities.

The skin on this doctor's face seemed thickened and rubbery. His lips appreared to just flop open when his face was at rest - in the manner of a dribbling baby, and his forehead was motionless. No, no, no, this is not for me I thought...

It is such a shame that this 'look' has become so common place. In my opinion the fabulous Trinny is displaying an increasing resemblence to Miss Piggy as the episodes of that makeover show flit past. The doctor really was terribly charming, and I must admit - despite his own strangely motionless face I was ultimately powerless to resist. He practically buttered my face with anaesthetic Emla cream before he commenced (I am such a baby) and now I am terrified to even look in a mirror to inspect his work.

OHMYGOD... What have I done?

Apparently my lips will "calm down" over the next few days!!! The creases from my nose to my mouth have virtually disappeared (I am sure I have a trout pout) and my forehead furrows are no more. My super PA Lydia looked after the poppets while I was off visiting the consulting rooms, and when I returned she appeared overwhelmed but I was not sure whether it as a result of my munchkins' behaviour or my bizarre facial expression.

The chicks commenced their summer holidays just yesterday, and poor pregnant Ana (the au pair) just wants to sleep. The early days of pregnancy are just so very difficult. I am hoping that by the time James comes in from work tonight I will be asleep and my this nightmare of a day will just disappear. Things are going from bad to worse here in Alleyn Road. I thank the Lord himself that there is a Majestic Wine Warehouse practically on my door step.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Class Lists

The class lists are out!

I took my munchkins to school this morning and immediately noticed the other mummies swarming about in front of the notice board in the hall. It seems that it is far too late to make any special requests regarding the class into which my darling boy will be placed in September when he moves up from the nursery to pre-prep.

Once again, my career is interfering with family life and I have let one of my poppets down...(Sniff) My best friend Vashi had advised me over a month ago that it was best to slip a note to the class teacher outlining any special friendships which I considered essential for the continued emotional well being of the boy wonder, and she had indicated to me that she would do the same for Ameer. Both of us work full-time, and both of us forgot. Our boys met on the first day of nursery two years ago and we have been firm friends ever since. It appears that the school has decided that the poppets should be placed in separate classes in order to discourage dependence - discourage true friendship more like.

Vashi and I wept openly and stood clinging to each other in the head teacher's office. The boys didn't seem to give two hoots. Vashi can usually be depended upon to remind me of the sports day, sponsorship forms or special costume days, I can be counted on to come up with special short cuts like fake home bakes for cake sales and Harvest Festival, or a credible alibi when Vashi goes to Reigate for her Botox and filler injections.

I am devastated, this is simply barbaric... (Sniff). We don't want to leave nursery school and go up to the big school...

Pass the gin.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Lost childhood

James so wanted a chopper when he was a boy. He was indeed a much luckier boy than most - he had a pony, but all he really wanted was a bicycle just like the ones his friends had. 'Silver' his pony was stabled at home while James was away at boarding school. The boys in his class all had their bicycles at school, but James' younger brother could not master the skill of cycling a bike, and so James never received one, despite regular requests at Christmas and birthdays. He has told me this story several times with tears in his eyes - my calm unemotional man...

Just a couple of weeks ago Max learned to cycle his bicycle without stabilisers - it took him just 3 days when he set his mind to it. James promised the poppet a bicycle with gears when he could cycle unaided.

On Saturday morning, when I had just returned with my spoils from The Dulwich Trader sale James was all ready to take mini me to the bicycle shop in the middle of Dulwich Park. He had already made several fact finding trips, measured Max's inside leg and come home with a stack of brochures. Saturday was to be the final trip so that Max could choose between two models himself.

"It is not Max's birthday, it is not Christmas, he should wait for an occasion for bigger gifts like this," I tried to insist. James was deaf to my reasoning. "The munchkin will never understand the value of money if you indulge him throughout the year like this" I pleaded to no avail, while obscuring the super Lulu Guinness, shoe box from his view (at half price the heels were only £100!).

"I shall come to the bicycle shop if you buy me an ice cream from the van," bargained Max. Eventually, a crestfallen James realised that Max does not care a jot for a new bicycle, and the subject was dropped.

Max was transfixed by the television and a DVD my Monster in Law (thanks Babysteps) has sent him. He wants a pony...