Sunday, 24 June 2012

Let’s do the time warp again …...

Where am I? What happened there? Who …. why ….when …..???

*checks date*

Goodness me, is that the time? So much has happened, so much to tell, so little time to tell it in. Well, I’ve got all the time in the world I s’pose, but at the moment, the times when I could sit and waffle on to you all, I’m absolutely knackered and have developed an unhealthy habit of falling asleep before I’ve even powered up my trusty notebook.

Ok, so as much as I hate to skim over recent happenings, I will have to sunmmarise the past two months events – crikey, has it been that long? – in a single post.

I will dispense this information …………… now.

I very recently made baba ghanoush, courtesy of the recipe from my current fave cookbook Whispers From A Lebanese Kitchen (t’was a pressie from Annabel). As is often the case, something you avoid tackloing for ages through fear of failure (or similar), turns out to be a complete doddle. I must admit to being slightly less impressed by my monster-in-law’s long drawn out preparation of it.

Having said that, I also made a tabbouleh salad, and that was another story altogether! I purchased two large bunches of parsley, it was nowhere near enough. I chopped the parsley by hand, it wasn’t small enough. I didn’t add enough bourghul, I didn’t add enough salt ……………….. it wasn’t great.

This made me cast my mind back to Easter Sunday when, as always, we spent it at said monster-in-law’s house, when we ate heartily and I had my first sip of alcohol in 50 days.

Truth time – things I’ve given up for Lent in the past has often been something that I would miss but wouldn’t be heartbroken over; chocolate one year, for example. Coffee another year. Red wine the next (but not a cold beer). Cold beer the next (but not red wine).

Sneaky eh?

Anyway, this year I gave up ALL booze and wasn’t looking forward to it, to be honest. It’s not that I drink too much (not anymore anyway), but I will drink at the weekend, for sure.

In truth, it was no trouble at all. When the first Friday evening rolled around, psychologically I thought I’d be moaning, but no; no problems to report.


As I’m being honest, I might as well tell you that it was the longest I’ve been without alcohol since my early teens, which isn’t really a statistic to be all that proud of.

Moving on from early April and it’s half term; off to the garden of England for a short break. Yes, Kent, and what a beautiful place it is. I couldn’t possibly guess at the times we were driven through Kent as kids (my Dad loved to drive his Mini Cooper S 1275GT along country lanes at speed) but naturally, as a kid your job is to merely spend the entire trip asking “are we nearly there yet?”, rather than admire the scenery and greenery flashing past your window.

(It is for this very reason that we invested in a cheap-but-cheerful twin-screen DVD player for long journeys. The agreement is that the kids can watch a film while we travel from home to our destination, then they can damn well look out the window at the scenery for the duration of our stay, then watch more films when we travel back home. It works).

Various highlights of our trip were (in visited order), Charles Darwin’s house – very lovely place – delicious fish and chips near a typically pebbley beach, a climb up a disused lighthouse at Dungeness (located in the shadow of a huge nuclear power station, on a very bizarre and strange beach). The climb to the top of the lighthouse confirmed that Joseph is very, very scared of heights. If he could’ve gotten himself any closer to the wall as we climbed down the long metal spiral staircase, he would’ve technically been classed as ‘rust’.

He took my ribbing in good humour so I can comfortably say it was very funny.

Our lodge was on the edge of an enormous forest – very, very quiet, very, very dark, very, very peaceful. Thanks to being on the edge of somewhere so dark, the night sky was amazing. The stars were so bright, so clear, not to mention Venus and Jupiter being a breeze to pick out each evening.

Similarly lovely was Chartwell, the home of Sir Winston Churchill, where we stopped off at on our way home. It was, as you might expect, rather grand, but not in a pretentious way. It is a National Trust property and it is definitely worth a trip to see it, member or non-member. The grounds are large, not overly extensive – I particularly liked the walled vegetable and herb garden, with the nicely sized play house at one end.

To May, and Annabel celebrated a birthday – another one. She is now the ripe old age of seven (SEVEN??) years old, looking more beautiful than ever. When–oh–when are the years going to slow down?  We got her an (almost) brand new bicycle which she loved (thanks ebay) and a party that I think she really enjoyed.

Also, although it wasn’t exactly for her, we acquired a tortoise as a pet. M has wanted one forever, and it tied in with the time around Missy’s birthday so “Tilly” the tortoise now lives in her incredibly unattractive vivarium, situated in the corner of what we call our TV room. It really is bloody ‘orrible (the vivarium, not the tortoise). But M is happy, the kids are delighted, so what do I know??!?

Actually, while M was feeling ‘happy’, she whisked her Mum off to Switzerland for four days, to celebrate her 70th birthday (her Mum, not M obviously. I mean, I’ve always liked a mature woman but give me some credit!). M rang to say that the hotel was “ok”, not quite what she was expecting, given the price of the place. But then she texted me a picture of the view from their balcony. I won’t tell you my response, but it was along the lines of “that’s where your money went!”

By the time they’d gotten back, the whole country had quite rightly gone Jubilee crazy, us included, and we waved lots of flags, cooked various “English” meals (would you Adam ‘n’ Eve it, salmon en croute is English!), and Annabel knocked up a couple of belting drawings. M went bunting crackers and we had shop bought union jacks, we had home-made bunting of various triangular scraps of material, we had flags on bits of dowelling – all very tasteful, like.

Finally, to bring me more or less up to date, Annabel received the result from her grade 1 ballet exam. Her teacher made a big fuss of lining the girls up, calling their names out and announcing their pass mark, before handing over their certificates.

It went something like this;

“Emma, pass. Well done Emma. (applause)

Charlotte, pass. Well done to you. (applause)

Kate, merit, well done Kate. (applause)

Annabel. Well well well Annabel, look at this. Distinction! Very well done, super job”. (applause, and extra from me!)

She wasn’t entirely sure what the word distinction meant until I told her, showing her the scoring brackets on the back of her certificate. The only thing was that Annabel went on to explain that her friend Emily (who competes in Irish dancing at a very high level), always receives a trophy, cup or statuette when she wins.

I tried to explain that it was a bit different, that Emily went in for competitions, not examinations, and that trophies were for competitions.

I watched Annabel look into the distance, digesting my words, before looking up at me and asking, “so when do I get to choose a trophy then?”

Several further attempts at explanining followed over several days, all to no avail. And so I eventually tracked down a reasonably priced statuette, admittedly in a bordering-on-cheap-looking material, but the plinth was classy and solid looking.

Hey, one outta two ain’t bad!
Bless her. She was delighted with it, and, what with a splendid but even more affordable frame courtesy of IKEA, there you have it – an entire show and tell in one hit!

How was YOUR spring?

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