Friday, 18 December 2015

"Must NOT Step On Pet...Must NOT Step on New Pet"

Ok so it has been awhile...but 917 boxes of unpacking are a force to be reckoned with. Believe me.

We FINALLY moved into a new home...OUR new home.  Two years and as much headache ended with us taking possession of a brand-spanking-new set of keys three weeks ago to the day, to a domicile avec garden in SW London after two long years of hardship trying to acquire said domicile. Of course this momentous occasion couldn't go down without some sort of incident, and in our case it was the shrieking loud burglar alarm which went off for a good twelve minutes which alerted our new neighbours to our arrival.  Clearly the husband and I were not paying enough attention during the instructional run-through of our new place to make note of the CORRECT four digit sequence to stop the alarm.  (Not unlike our wedding when we publicly displayed our utter disregard for the previous nights rehearsal, and blithely led bridesmaids and groomsmen outside of the church during the wrong hymn, a good ten minutes before the service had concluded.)

The initial euphoria has morphed into something resembling mild panic and exhaustion as we have come face to face with the fact that we are hoarders.  (The husband would of course refute this, but I stand by the fact that although I confess to have somehow acquired enough shoes, handbags and jeans to stock a small L.A. boutique, his bike paraphernalia and tools and boxes and bags of random, miscellaneous crap takes up WAY MORE SPACE.  End of.

Anyway, all this to say:  To those who continually ask us, 'How are you getting on in your new home?' I have this to say: "'s cool and we love it but Dumpie has been wearing the same pair of socks for days now."

In such a rush to move out of our old flat, we (and by 'we' I mean 'I', as I am a mother, a female, and hence apparently in charge of all things hygiene and domestic related) neglected to pack intelligently.
In all fairness, we were so beaten by life at the point of move, that we splurged on the 'all-inclusive-we-will-pack-all-your-belongings' option, in the hopes that it would negate a one or both voluntary admission into the Priory come January.

Unfortunately, our (mostly Serbian) movers became fairly unmotivated to shift our millions of mirrors/picture frames/vases/etc. by the second day, and instead were discovered taking selfies on their phones in our (former) bedroom by the husband.  I kid you not.

All this to say, for the first week after we moved in, the boys were having to wear the husbands' hole-ridden Rapha socks to school, and I was forced to wear TRACK PANTS in PUBLIC(!) for going on five days, for the simple reason that we could not locate our essentials among the millions of boxes littering the landings and bedrooms.  After a week or so of manic unpacking I have completely given up, overwhelmed by the sheer amount of 'stuff' I never knew I had (thanks to not one but two storage units) and have adapted to my new environment of chaos and just about manage to muddle through most days.  Just about.

If that weren't enough, I desperately attempted (and succeeded) in winning the opportunity to bring home Squitty's nursery pet (a giant tortoise named 'Lightning') for the holidays.  Lightning is FAST. (Hence the name.)  He's also big into exploring, and has already been lost once in the six odd hours he's been at ours. I'm desperately afraid that either Egg or the husband will accidentally step on him at some point given their predilection for being 'otherwise mentally indisposed' at various points throughout the day and have even half-composed my apologetic grovelling rant to the Nursery teacher should it indeed come to pass (sigh).

At any rate, we've had him for a mere eight hours thus far, and the husband has already managed to torch the instructions thanks to an over-eager four-wick candle on the kitchen table. Nuff said.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

"Moaning Mum Lives Up To Her Namesake"

If there's one adage I have never paid attention to it's : "If you can't say something nice, then don't say it."

I mean, that's the whole point isn't it?  Saying something not nice is ofter funnier, definitely bitchier, more therapeutic and infinitely more interesting (if unkind) than being all hippy dippy happy and 'Everything's great man'.

I've been warned numerous times by certain family members that my constant moaning about our seemingly never ending house woes are not unlike ones' dreams and holiday pics: no one but yourself is ever interested.

And then there is the fact that much of the world is in turmoil at present and being preoccupied with what is essentially a first world problem is, I understand, off-putting at best. But if we have to sit through ridiculously sappy Christmas commercials on telly in early November, then maybe there is a place for the odd self-obsessed rant here and there, non?

At any rate, I've been unable to blog for a week now because everything I have to say is 'house hell' related and going to be horrid and mean and denigrating to those in question (our evil and hirsute freeholder and useless and curmudgeonly solicitor for example).

But just now I was forced to drop everything and sit down and type out this 'totally going to regret it tomorrow' blog.  You see if I don't, given what I've just learned, means I'm either going to suffer a massive heart attack (brought on by sheer rage and a rather unhealthy wine dependancy as of late) OR I'm going to send an unedited, completely emotional and ultimately destructive email to certain unsuspecting parties, bringing this whole hellish house on wheels nightmare to a grinding halt.

I almost don't care.

Next week is on course to be the most stressful week of the year.  It is the culmination of two years of house viewings, two broken hearts over two dream homes lost, and two very at the end of their ropes people who are probably technically perfect candidates for divorce.

Next week we are juggling three transactions (two sales and one purchase) and I have just been informed by the husband (who has passed Upset, not collected any Good Humour, and is hovering around Old Kent Road ready to figuratively knife someone...or maybe that's me) that our utterly lackadaisical solicitor has booked a weeks holiday to Italy - get this - NEXT WEEK!!!

There are no words. Part of me wants to be all "What will be will be, Man" about it and just chill the heck out.  That is 1% of me.  The other 99% of me wants to scream, run naked through the streets, and get picked up by mental health services, before being pumped full of enough calming narcotics to knock out a horse.

As it sit here with scowling resting face (take that, bitchy resting face) swinging my leg in a manner not unlike a soon-to-go-on-the-rampage-mental-patient, I can take solace in the fact that we've this week finally exchanged on one property, and are thus therefore 1/6th of the way there.

On the other hand, tomorrow we have to haul three kids back to our old flat and spend the day packing up tons and tons (and tons) of crates of old belongings and furniture and nostalgic items from our 'yoof innit' (the whole reason I can't just chuck the whole lot out...nostalgic sucker that I am) then spend hours ferrying the whole mess back to our already heaving home, where it will sit until we move.

If we move.


Sunday, 1 November 2015


Jason eat your heart out...
So Halloween (which for the sake of posterity shall be known as 'Holloween' this year) was both a raging success and an abysmal flop.

Weeks ago Squitty and I came across this great picture on the internet of a kid dressed up as a piece of Lego.  We decided there and then that it simply had to be his Halloween costume.
The picture which inspired...
(It was likely post-wine-watershed, when Mama, flushed with a growing sense of possibility, quashed any niggling doubts, and infused with a false sense of belief in her non-existent crafting skills, promised her cheeky cherub that he would be transformed into a piece of Lego on the 31st of the month.)

But then the weeks rolled past, until finally last weekend, thanks to an overzealous Auntie and a can of red paint, we found ourselves journeying back 45 minutes on London Overground armed with a giant red cardboard box, complete with cut-out arm holes, and a breezy, "You guys can take it from here, no?"

Apparently we could not.  The husband washed his hands of any of it, and so this afternoon after a trip to the cinema with Egg and Dumpie, followed by a leisurely layabout, darkness fell, and with a start I realised that we had to leave for Trick or Treating in half an hour.

As I learned tonight, half an hour is decidedly not enough time to glue 12 plastic red cups upside down onto a piece of painted cardboard and expect the cheap white hobby glue to set and harden in time. And so we departed somewhat late, with everyone trying not to bump into Squitty so as not to dislodge the cups.  We gingerly wove our way through the streets, stopping every few minutes to pick up little red dixie cups as they pinged to the ground, at first trying unsuccessfully to adhere them back on, then later giving up completely and binning them as we went.
Who needs cups on the back anyway?
Eventually, after ringing several doorbells, and being knocked into by various ghosts, goblins and princesses, we conceded defeat and removed the rest of the cups from the back (the side that had been glued last) and instead basked in the glow of being with the most imaginatively costumed child for miles.  Holding the hand of a giant toddler-sized piece of Lego garnered much attention, and Squit became quietly enthralled with all the attention he was getting, as people commented openly on his costume, declaring it to be the best of the night.
Trust me it looked waaaay better from far away (ahem)
"Ha!" I said to the husband triumphantly at one point, who thanks to an earlier visit to the pub, hadn't been able to contain his (un)constructive comments about my lack of artistic skill and the fact that he would have used tape instead of glue to stick the little red cups on.

So you see, even though Squitty had the dodgiest outfit ever, which deteriorated quite literally as the night wore on, he also had the best outfit too.  And frankly it made his night, being fawned over like a celebrity by everyone who came across him on the streets (drunken twenty-somethings being the biggest fans).

Dumps unfortunately declared that this was the worst Halloween ever in the history of his life. This was fair enough as he returned this evening with the most meagre haul of sweets ever, due to the fact that most doorways lay dark this year, and of the few homes which were participating in this seasonal sugar orgy, only one in ten had any sweets left by the time we strolled up to the door.
Dumpies haul...too paltry to even pinch :)
(Note: Now it has to be said that folks over here in England still don't seem to get the gist of Halloween: buy a TRUCK LOAD of sweets for the millions of rugrats roaming the neighbourhood, whose Halloween you will totally ruin, should they encounter dozens doors in a row, sporting the ubiquitous 'No more sweets sorry' sign taped up on the outside of the door. Actually, worse than that are homes where they feel so bad that they've run out of sweets that they've turned over the place and unearthed what they mistakenly believe will suffice in the absence of proper real treats... feebly pawning off stale Christmas sweets, old football cards (I kid you not), and the piece de resistance - a single personalised skittle with the name Marcus on it.)

For the record, Dumps was clad in all black, wearing glow-in-the-dark skeleton gloves and a bright gold pirate skeleton mask which his Auntie found for him last weekend at a hipster market in Dalston.

Eleven year old Egg decided to roam with some of his school chums and I have yet to see him clad in his 'Mad Scientist' outfit (consisting of a pull-on fabric Dr. Jekyll mask and his way too small, bespoke, ancient lab coat we had made years ago in Goa when he became obsessed with the film, 'Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs').

As for me, I smeared on purple lipstick and donned a platinum wig which made me look like Rita Ora (if she had rocked up to a Poundland staff costume party, having never 'made it').
"Hmm...maybe I should have given the blond thing a proper go?"
The husband merely chucked on a Captains hat which he had ordered for a costume party months ago but had arrived too late to wear. Waste not want not.

So there you have it people.  That's how we roll.  Shambolic to the core.

Friday, 9 October 2015

"Beware The Parents Evenings..."

Thank God my iphone was charged, 
Thank goodness his was too.
Thank heavens he carries a Swiss Army,
Or who knows what I would have had to do...

Last night was a fairly important event. It was a chance for all the parents in Egg's class at his new school to meet each other at an evening mixer. Everyone knows that once established, first impressions are hard to dislodge and as such, I was determined that the husband and I make as favourable a one as possible by presenting ourselves as 'normal' - for Eggie's sake.

For the husband that meant that ripped jeans and RAPHA were banned, and for me, an embargo on anything leather, Rock Chick or glittery. As we waited for our Uber to arrive, first Egg then the husband cast a disparaging glance down at my footwear and suggested I reconsider.  (For the record I was wearing a magenta dress and elegant, dark brown knee-length boots with a camel coloured cashmere outfit which wouldn't have looked out of place in Kate Middleton's wardrobe.)

"You look good Mama but don't wear those boots. They say, 'Look at me I own the place,'" Egg said.

"Yeah," mumbled the husband in agreement. "You don't want to wear those boots."

"What are you talking about?" I asked, incredulous. "These boots are what make this look. It's understated and elegant. Black ankle boots would be inappropriate."

The husband, stuffing the last few bites of curry in his mouth shrugged and said, "By the way Egg, the word you're looking for there is 'dominatrix.'"

Begrudgingly, I changed my boots, glanced in the mirror and confirmed that I now looked like I was headed to a London fashion week party and not a subdued middle class gathering of parents of privileged progeny. So I quickly switched back again.

"Why do I even listen to them?" I thought.  Why was I taking fashion advice from an 11 year old boy and a cycling cap aficionado?

We arrived at the venue, and armed with a glass of wine and a pint respectively, proceeded to make small talk with strangers. The husband managed not to make any off colour jokes, and I managed to be friendly without putting forth any strong views which might offend. An hour in and I was feeling rather proud of us.

"We can totally pull this off," I thought. I began to feel silly for having worried that we'd do something to embarrass Egg and turn him into a social pariah for the remainder of his Secondary School career. 

Then I excused myself and disappeared off to the loo.

The toilets were located a level down in the otherwise deserted club house and I took the chance to have a breather and check my phone for messages. I used the facilities and then tried to exit the cubicle.

The door wouldn't open. I twisted the lock the other way, heard a satisfying click, but it still wouldn't budge. Annoyed, I put my phone back into my purse and tried using both hands to manoeuvre the lock. No luck.

It was then that I noticed this sign:

Panicking, I peered up, and with a sinking feeling realised that despite having taken up running again, unless I could somehow morph into an anorexic spiderman, there was no way I'd be able to climb the slippery tiled wall and slip through a gap no wider than about a foot.

Totally screwed, I rang the husband, praying he'd answer. Meanwhile, starting to panic, in the likelihood that he didn't answer, a string of potential scenarios began to play out in my head - each one more horrific than the last:

Scenario 1: I attempt to contact a school employee out of hours, interrupting someones dinnertime whilst I try to explain who I am, where I am, and how I need to be rescued - and could they please not call emergency services...

Scenario 2: I scream myself hoarse, disrupting the quite calm in the upstairs clubhouse, causing a stampede of parents to thunder downstairs under the assumption that they are about to bear witness to the first stabbing in the history of the school.

Scenario 3: In desperation I remove my brown leather boots and try and use my now heavily perspiring bare feet as suction cups to grip the tiles, making it to the top before getting just my head wedged through the top gap - where too ashamed to call out, I remain until the end of the evening, until rescued by an incredulous and slightly inebriated gentleman relieving himself next door.

That's as far as I get when husband suddenly answers. Never was I so happy to hear his voice, though to be fair, I would have appreciated a slightly less outrageous guffaw when I explained my predicament.

"Shhhhh!! Don't say anything," I begged. "Don't make a big deal, don't let anyone know, and just slip out and come save me...NOW!" I hissed, in case he harboured any intention of finishing his current pint first.

Moments later I heard the husband whistle to make sure the coast was clear, then he strolled into the otherwise empty bathroom and attempted a cursory unlocking attempt.

"You're stuffed," he said. Three pints in, this struck him as rather funny, but I was quickly losing my sense of humour.

I started to whimper and beg. Luckily he's a resourceful fellow and for as long as I've known him, has been in the habit of carrying around his beloved 'Minichamp' - a small swiss army knife, which he magically produced from his pocket and began jamming into the lock with determination. My love knew no bounds. After a few minutes of quiet tension, he triumphantly set me free and strolled out as casually as he entered - like a 'Banksy-esque' version of James Bond - leaving me to compose myself and breathe a sigh of relief.

Within moments of joining the upstairs gathering again, I'd been swallowed up in a riveting conversation about kitchen extensions - no one the wiser about the near disaster which had just been averted. And shortly after that, we met Egg's teacher who, predictably, commented upon our eldest sons' inability to see through the worlds' longest-ever fringe. I then admitted (possibly regretfully in hindsight) to trimming his fringe in his sleep, and on that bombshell Egg's teacher quietly excused herself and the party began to break up.

All in all I suppose it was a fairly successful evening. However for Egg's sake I reckon that moving forward, it's probably best that the husband and I make like Victorian children of old: seen but not heard. Actually, not seen and not heard is probably better. It's only a matter of time before we justify driving our 'Kamper Van with a K' to a school function and mortify Egg for all eternity. I'm calling it now...

Sunday, 4 October 2015

"Having A Blonde Moment"

In my humble opinion it's never advisable as a woman, to make big decisions on the cusp of yet another birthday. Sometimes I suspect myself of doing things to myself, for no particular reason (the more extreme and random the better) just to wind myself up. Yesterday was the perfect example.

Lately at bedtime I've been watching 'Suits' on Netflix (very funny show due mostly to wise-cracking, handsome, arrogant, and supremely clever lead) in an effort to completely disengage from reality. 

For you see life continues to be a struggle with the double bonus of being both stressful and soul crushingly mundane. The house sale is dragging along to such an extent that any excitement I'd felt about moving has now dissolved into a distant cold ache. I feel like a kid contemplating next years Halloween costume the day after Halloween, who has just been told there is a strong chance the family might convert and become Amish in the meantime. 

To make matters worse, we are dealing with a freeholder who may or may not be a vengeful sociopath, and prays the sale will fall through so that he can offer up a paltry sum and take the flat off our hands for the cost of a Christmas Ocado order. (He also exhibits, in my opinion, all the behaviour of someone who is incredibly sexually frustrated, and due to his difficult nature and profoundly hairy back, I hold out little to no hope of that situation rectifying itself anytime soon.)

Anyway, I digress. The monsters are now producing so much laundry per day as to make two daily loads a necessity. Mostly I feel like a Cinderella who gets up hoping to go the damned ball every single bloody day, but doesn't stand a chance because it's laughable that she'll be able to complete her daily chores. And so I try (I really do try) to be as positive and good natured as one can be whilst sniff-testing other peoples dirty pants. I even on occasion even find myself humming along to fetching melodies with the in-house spiders and the odd blackbird - but to be frank, I am beginning to sink into the quagmire of the mediocre and mundane, and no amount of mimicking Mary P. is going to change that.

Ah, except another birthday looms on the horizon...this week in fact. Not one for celebrating my birthday (after twenty-one it's all about diminishing returns), I caught a great line on 'Suits' the other night where someone is commenting on the leads expensive haircut, and I thought to myself, "It has been AGES since I've had an expensive haircut." (In fact, my last haircut was done by yours truly one night a few weeks ago when I rather fancied a few extra layers, and I did not too bad a job thank you very much - good enough anyway to fool the owner of the salon a few days ago when I went in for my consultation.)

So this year for my birthday, instead of adding to my outrageous collection of coats and black ankle boots, I decided to treat myself to a truly expensive haircut. Like the guy in 'Suits.'

At the salon, I randomly floated the idea of 'balayage' (an expensive free-hand painting technique to add texture to your waves...and a great word to boot). I was quite clear about my personal abhorrence of orange tones (once having spent a summer dousing my brunette locks in lemon juice and emerging like a Latino gang member at the start of school in September.) I tentatively pulled out a picture of a brunette with blond bits at the end and the hairdresser clasped his hands and declared, "Then that is what you shall have!"

And indeed that is kinda what I have. I didn't exactly expect to be quite as blond as I am - or as 'frosted' - as the husband has dubbed it. Last night in the salon, with all the mood lighting and candles it looked rather California sun-kissed and cool.  However this morning, in the harsh light of day, (and without the benefit of the two complimentary flutes of Prosecco I was given throughout the three hour procedure), I do look a touch...unnatural. However, I am already composing an email to the lovely hair stylist (who made the grave error of giving me his personal email address last night), suggesting ways he might like to try and 'tweak' it. I fully expect it to end up in his spam folder.

I read somewhere that our thoughts can have an effect on our outer appearance (hence all those self-affirming mantras we're supposed to say to ourselves in front of the mirror) and given the early onset dementia I keep nattering on about, I suppose it is time to retire the 'brainy brunette' look and give way to the blond that is desperately trying to get out (if only she could remember the way)...

Saturday, 26 September 2015

"Carry On Camping..."

Not having had a terribly restful sleep (I woke in the middle of the night to find the lights still on and husband snoring in time to dance music blasting from the radio - "sleep timer much?"), it is with some trepidation that I face the day. True, it's gorgeously sunny, and this weekend is meant to be the last hurrah of summer with temperatures predicted to hover around the 20 degree mark, but you won't find me sprawled on my customary place on the Common, lazily flipping through Grazia and steadily making my way through bouteille numero deux of a chilled Oyster Bay.

Instead, I'm apparently to be deposited in some giant field somewhere a few hours outside of the big smoke, courtesy of our 'Kamper Van', alongside four smelly boys, a load of undefrosted bacon and a giant bag of marshmallows. (Note to self: must remember the 'Night-Time Advil'.)

The husband tells me we'll be 'making a memory' for the boys, and that our boys need to get into a large field and run like dogs. True though that may be, the fact is that our boys are going to be bent perpendicular over their respective devices (ipads/ipods/nicked iphone), oblivious to anything around them, cramming marshmallows down their gobs and having simultaneous freak-outs when their batteries run out.

I can see it already: the husband will dutifully fry up some bacon, warm up some beans, and enthusiastically prepare food for all of us, revelling in his portable stove, the great outdoors and his ability to 'live off the land' (courtesy of Waitrose and the bottle of scotch he has no doubt already procured and stashed in the van somewhere). No one will eat anything and he'll be left scoffing the whole lot and feeling sick for the rest of the day. Squitty will enthusiastically agree to go on a long walk and then two minutes in will start his customary wail of, 'My LEGS are TIRED!" and the husband will have to hoick the chubby chicken up onto his shoulders where he will squirm, complain and rip his hair out in an attempt to hang on, before the walk is abandoned and we all return to sit in or around the van, plugged into our respective devices whilst the husband gives up on the whole lot of us and goes off to hang out with strangers camped nearby for the remainder of the time.

I know how this story goes, but am powerless to stop the wheels already in motion. Now where's that bloody Night-Time Advil????

Thursday, 24 September 2015

"Like Sands Through The Hourglass...So Are The Days Of Our Lives"

We are now fully into the shambolic rhythm that signifies our version of 'family life'.

The husband dutifully prepares the morning cappuccino and thumps it down on the bedside table at precisely 6:37am. I blindly reach for the nearest paperback and place it atop the mug in an attempt to keep it warm until I can actually sit up and partake.

Egg wanders in, shirt untucked, hair an absolute mess and tries to nick one or both of our phones before exiting again, grumbling into his mobile that we haven't started following him on Instagram yet and where the heck is a charger that works?

Squitty will either be snoring in bed between us (he's suddenly taken up middle-of-the-night visitations again after a long hiatus, and sometimes I'll wake with a start at 3am to find a silent, large-eyed child just standing there staring at me) or downstairs with Dumpie building a fort in the front room and staining sofa cushions with soggy Special K.

Egg usually tears off at 7:30 in a mad rush to catch his bus and I'll either slip into running gear and take off into the damp sunny cold for a 30 minute run (a handy substitute for Prozac) or I'll shuffle downstairs and begin preparing the most potent but somewhat vile 'SuperJuice' for the husband and I. Squit will refuse to get dressed, saying he hates school and wants to play on my phone, and Dumpie will refuse to brush his hair and lie calmly watching cartoons in his pjs mere minutes before the school bell goes - completely oblivious to my manic protestations of "You're going to be late! What are you doing?! Have you even had breakfast?!"

Eventually, at 9:15am, I'll head over to Nursery to drop Squit off for two hours and say hi to the giant tortoise 'Lightening' (who after a forced rocky start to friendship I've now decided I love and am hatching plans to kidnap), and settle Squit on his little cushion for circle time. For the first week of Nursery Squit was hesitantly intrigued and all was fine, but by the second week it suddenly dawned on him that school was going to be permanent and not just an amusing side note and drop-offs consisted of him hysterically screaming, "NO! DON'T LEAVE ME MAMA!!!" whilst being prised off me by well-meaning teachers and pulled away thrashing.

I'm pleased to say that this week this behaviour has suddenly ceased - helped in no small part by me reassuring him that he 'doesn't smell of wee' (not entirely true), and that his teachers are fine with him still wearing nappies (they don't know). Also, after pointedly refusing to sit down for circle time and stubbornly standing in the corner holding his elbows and refusing to take part since school began, he has suddenly conceded to join the rest of his classmates on the carpet on the condition that he gets his own special cushion to sit on.  I kid you not.

Egg has taken so enthusiastically to Secondary School that in an attempt to avoid FOMO ('fear of missing out') he's joined pretty much every club going - except netball which is for girls only and frustrates him as he loves it and knows all the rules (the sum of which I heard, verbatim, over dinner last night). He's apparently on the water polo team, the football team, the cycling team, the 'fivers' team, and in some sort of maths/chemistry/I.T. club. Having recently been informed that he possesses a uniquely high, beautiful, and as of yet 'unbroken' voice, he has also been persuaded to join the choral club - though the fact that travel plays a big part is no doubt responsible for much of his enthusiasm. Egg's also threatening to try out for hockey too - on the basis that his school remain undefeated champions for ten years running now and despite no previous interest whatsoever in the sport, I suspect the lure is too much to resist.

Dumpie is taking things in stride as is his nature. He's like a little version of me, and as such I'm onto him. More concerned with the social fabric of junior school than the actual work, he is a clever boy who can easily achieve decent grades with very little effort but is not motivated to excel when he'd rather play with lego or run a trading cards racket from the playground (from YoYo Bear Fun Facts cards to Football cards to Pokeman cards in the space of only six months I can barely keep up).

As for the husband and I, we're pretty much managing to hold it together - some days more successfully than others. We've sold our home at long last but with things moving at a snails pace and simultaneously trying to sell our other flat to finance the purchase of the 'Chestnuts- roasting-on-an-open-fire' home (yep, we're back in the running with that one) despite the best efforts of a petulant, resentful and uncooperative freeholder trying to thwart our every move, it's proving to be incredibly nerve-wracking.

Plus, the 'early onset dementia' jokes are becoming less funny with each passing month, and we are seriously reconciling ourselves to the fact that we are getting stupider and stupider as the children get smarter and more canny. If this continues, in a few years time, we fully expect to be ensconced in the loft, a la 'Flowers in the Attic,' being pacified with electronic ciggies, a recurring Wine Club subscription, and only Spotify and our Sonos speakers to amuse, whilst the three boys take over the running of the household (in no doubt superior fashion) and implement novel but illegal ways to finance their addiction to ipads, iphones, Netflix and Pringles.

Bring it on I say...

Thursday, 10 September 2015

"The Age of Amazing-ness"

How can I not sit here today and take a moment out from my washerwoman duties to highlight the fact that this is the first time in a millions years (okay...over a decade anyway) that I can sit here, however briefly, kiddie-less, in our House of Shambles and NOT hear the distant drone of CBB's telly on in the background...or plaintive wails of "I'm hungry...what should I eat?...I want something something something _____"

It's true.  I think I jumped the gun yesterday when I announced that our last, littlest weeny sprog had hatched the nest so to speak, and ventured off to Nursery for the first time.  Really it's today that must be marked as truly historic, for after dragging a reluctant Squit off to school, I actually got to leave him there and have a little bit of time to myself.  (Shamefully, I got round the highly traumatic 'leaving' issue by setting him up in the little kitchen and rattling off a litany of foodstuffs I expected him to prepare for lunch upon my return.  The little guy totally fell for it, and began mixing and pretend pouring in earnest as I hightailed it out of there, expecting a plaintive wail which never came. Well I'll be...maybe after all this time the little guy is in need of more stimulation that he's thus far gotten watching me clean, launder and grocery shop these many months.)

So what did I do with my newfound freedom?  Nip off to my local coffee shop, laptop in hand, and celebrate with a double shot cappuccino? Come back and have a leisurely bath and rearrange my wardrobe? Catch up on a few chapters of my latest book with a cup of tea?

Nope.  True to form I spazzed 90% of my first day of freedom on kitchen cleanup, bed making, yet another load of laundry, and concocting a killer green juice from scratch courtesy of my Dualit juicer (which unfortunately takes eighteen times as long to clean as it does to conjure up said juice.)

Anyway, in two minutes I must dash across and collect little Squit and then likely get told off the entire way back about how i deserted him and be informed in no uncertain terms that there is no way he is going back.

I have news for you little man.  You are SO going back and moreover, tomorrow I shall not squander my 2.5 hours of morning freedom.  Oh no...housework be damned.  I am going to use my time decadently artistic fashion and see what comes of it.

Perhaps a new tune is just waiting to be put down...or that novel that for years I've been meaning to write is going to be birthed at long last...or maybe I'll just get to grips with the mountains of paperwork and documents which need to be sorted and collated in order to move us out of here and into a new home.

Whatever it is, I do know that last night when the husband asked me whether I had felt teary dropping off our youngest 'onto the conveyor belt of the rest of his life', it took me a millisecond to realise that I had not.  Not at all.  Yes, it's the end of an era, and yes, that munchkin voice and eggbeater run of Squit's is on the way are tiny jeans, baby breath, and blowing kisses.  I know that in a blink of an eye I'll be a ladyshape in the midst of four big menfolk, sniffing the testosterone in the air and being held ransom by infinite smelly sweat socks.  But...I will also get my life back.  And while the boys grow monstrous and come to see me as little more than a meals on wheels/drycleaning service, I shall quietly be concocting my next move on the sly.

I am already daydreaming my future incarnation into being as we speak...

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

"And Another One Bites The Dust"

Today was the first day of the rest of Squitty's academic life - and if early indications are a sign, then he will be a-okay in my opinion (as long as none of the nursery teachers peep below his waistband and spot the tell-tale crinkly nappy sticking out).

Yes, it's true (sigh). Despite swearing to the contrary (and now feeling an absolute failure as a parent) I have indeed sent my 3.8 year old child to school whilst still in nappies.  The shame of it.

Still, you can't really blame me.  Especially if you had say peeked through our bathroom window yesterday and seen me trying to hoist a half-naked writhing toddler onto a big blue plastic potty seat whilst he screamed and tried to punch me all the while making sure I knew who wore the (nappy) pants in the family.

"I will NOT go on the potty!  Never, never, never Mama!  You can't make me!"

It would appear the little fella is spot on.  I couldn't, didn't, haven't and hold very little hope of being able to at some future point.

All that remains to be seen is how long into term we can get before getting caught out...and by caught out I mean having to drop whatever I'm doing in order to race over and deal with a steamy poo-pants mess. I dread it already but know it's inevitable.

This morning Squitty and I went to nursery together for just an hour as it was his first day, but tomorrow he goes by himself (though if you were to ask him to confirm that fact he'd deny it vehemently).

We arrived and after blatantly ignoring two friendly teachers trying to say hello, he showed mild interest in a giant Tortoise named 'Lightning' (it moves bloody fast - no joke), which they kindly took out of its cage for him and plopped onto the grass, only for Squitty to nearly step on it before losing interest completely and making a beeline for the play-dough inside.  (I of course felt obliged to take OTT interest in said Tortoise since they'd gone to all the trouble of taking it out, so subsequently ended up in stilted conversation about tortoises with a bemused Frenchman who was no more interested in the subject matter than was I.)

Meanwhile Squit was fashioning up blue play-dough sausages elsewhere and making a messy glue and feather paint picture - which he informed me he had no interest in taking home with him.  Fickle artist.

As I could have predicted, we ended up in the sandbox. There he commandeered the shovels such that his only other companion - a shy blond little french girl - was muscled out and ran off, only for Squitty to tire of the whole thing and take off for train tracks and dump truck manoeuvring elsewhere.

So that was that.  A cursory glace round suggested that Squitty's class is made up of all rather nice children from all rather nice homes...the progeny of all rather nice parents.

As for me, the only interesting conversation I had was with a 22 year old blond Aussie nanny from Bondi Beach with a strong accent and a rather striking undercut.

Says it all really.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

"Egg....Egg...And Away!"

This morning the alarm went off at Stupid O'clock (ie. 6am or so...) as the husband was determined that Egg not be late for his first day of Secondary School.  Given that our sole family vehicle is a stuffed-to-the-gills Camper Van and that only one of us is in possession of a valid UK drivers license, the plan was that the husband would drop Egg off in a taxi and the monsters and I would collect him later via the 37 through Brixton.

Last night over a Spaghetti dinner, we tried in vain to convince Egg that he absolutely had to have his hair at least trimmed for today, as his shiny dirty blond locks fall over his eyes and we know there is absolutely no way his shaggy muppet hairdo is going to fly at his new school.  He begged to differ.

Egg has this thing about his hair.  As in, no one is allowed to cut it or alter it in any way.  Every few months or so, we have an almighty row, screaming matches, and it all ends in tears and an uneven jagged hairline after I am at last allowed to make say five snips before Egg catches his reflection in the mirror, declares that I have ruined both his hair and his life, and tears out of the kitchen in hysterics - stubbornly donning a hoodie for the next few days to make a point.

Auntie Ba had begged the husband and I a few weeks ago to make sure that we gave Egg a relaxed send off to this new chapter of his life, and this promise was ringing in my ears last night when Egg predictably refused to allow me to rearrange even a millimetre of the hair obstructing his lovely green eyes.  I shrugged, put away the scissors and calmly told him that I would wait until he was asleep to give him a trim.

"Whatever Mama!  I'll just stay up all night'll see!"

I smiled...continued washing the dishes, and an hour later, did just what I told him I would do.

The husband looked incredulously at the snippet of hair I triumphantly held aloft before binning.

"I can't believe you did that.  Wow.  Egg is going to lose it when he wakes up.  I'm not sure you should have done that...invasion of privacy and all that..." the husband mumbled.

Sometimes I find it's necessary to make good on the odd threat...keeps people on their toes. And also, believe it or not it's actually easier to trim Egg's hair when he's unconscious and passed out in a pile of perspiration on his pillow than when he's dodging me in the kitchen, trying to whip sharp scissors out of my hand and shrieking "No! No!" as we try and negotiate the number of snips I'm allowed (I bet even Nicky Clarke couldn't cut under those conditions).

Anyway, this morning Egg woke up, donned his new uniform, and I barely noticed the mockery coming from the husband over my diabolical name tag sewing-on efforts (hey, I'm good at lots of things but sewing ain't one of them), so curious was I to see if I'd get rumbled.

I didn't.  Go figure.  Although somewhere between the husband sorting out Egg's tie and Squitty trying to nab my iphone, I managed to sneak in a few snips and mostly even out his fringe.

Having neglected to remember to purchase Egg new black school socks, I instead handed over a new pair of mine (we are now the same size...!), took some pics, gushed at how handsome and grown up he now looks (when did that happen?!) and ushered Egg and the husband out the door and into a taxi in the nick of time before collapsing with the September issue of Vogue, and a cup of Earl Grey as I stared out the window and watched them pull away.

Life is so weird.  Birth to Secondary a heartbeat.

Monday, 24 August 2015

"I Love To..."

Never one to shy away from a dare - especially one made under the influence of a rather poky Mojito - I found myself traipsing about Toronto the other day adorned as such:

It's kind of a running joke with my sister that for years now, whenever I come back to Toronto for a visit, I derive a rather primitive joy from power walking through the city's downtown, shoving aside dawdling,waddling passersby as I (earphone clad of course) rework my own version of Massive Attack's 'Unfinished Sympathy'.

However in my case it's more like 'Unfinished Shopping' as whenever I'm here I get this kind of 'Betty Crocker on Crack' panic, and feel I can't rest easy until my suitcase is bulging with baking supplies and other foodstuffs not available in the U.K.

Whereas others might flit about buying designer wares, I scamper excitedly through giant grocery stores, filling baskets to the brim, which eventually become too heavy to lug around, thus forcing me into transferring goods into a giant steel trolley, which even I can't pretend will translate into an acceptable luggage allowance of 23kilos at the airport.

My sister always smirks when she catches sight of the mounds of bags propped up by my suitcase after such excursions.  I think - no sorry, know for a fact - she thinks me a mentalist, but she also knows by now that somehow, I always get the stuff back home.

There's the time that I sat with a giant glass biscuit jar stuffed full of 'Freezies' on my lap for the entire eight hour flight.  And the time I wore not one but three winter jackets (one of which had a fluffy Eskimo hood) home in the dead of summer - shuffling through security like a Marshmallow Man - thereby necessitating an unfortunate detainment for questioning. And of course the time I almost missed my flight running through the airport with pockets stuffed full of lingerie which I couldn't cram into my luggage, and had to endure the humiliation shortly after take off, of a man three rows ahead quietly returning my satin pink push-up bra which had fallen in the aisle as I boarded.

When it comes to luggage, where there's an iron-clad will, there's a way - even if it means wearing a 'Jaktogo'.  Seriously...check it's on my wish list for Christmas:
Anyway, I digress.  I simply wanted to point out that I love being in Toronto - even if it's mostly because I live in London, England and can thereby, by virtue of not feeling 'stuck' in the country of my youth (however lovely a place it may be), appreciate its finer qualities when doled out in sunny summer holiday-sized portions.

As a child I vowed that one day I would live in London.  My father had adored practicing medicine in London for seven years before I was born, but ventured to Toronto for a six month research project, met my Canadian mum and the rest is history. Blame the bands, the lifestyle, the culture, the accent...even biting sarcasm.  Whatever it is, it got hold of me when I was but a wee thing, and when the husband and I permanently decamped in '96, we didn't look back...not even once.

So, I found it fitting that I should at the very least make my 'City Crush' public, and proudly wear an overpriced (thanks for springing for it Sis!) piece of 'Toronna Tat', proudly proclaiming my stance.

What I neglected to realise, until after an hour or so of wearing it in public, was that when paired with a somewhat bold hat, big sunnies and lashings of my usual lipstick, certain male members of the public would find it too difficult to refrain from calling out, "She loves to...______!!"(insert various lewd rejoinders).

(The bloody shirt designers had unfortunately decided not to spring for the two periods/full stops needed in order to read 'T.O.' instead of 'To...', thereby proving too tantalising not to comment upon for some.)

Oh well.  I still love my shirt, and plan on wearing it in London too.  And my suitcase is going to once again prove a logistical challenge to pack.

And today, even though I'm off to the dentist shortly, I can't help but feel a touch smug that the sun is blazing hot here in T.O. whilst in London it's about to be a deluge for the next three days and there are rumours that more tube strikes are imminent.

See why I love T.O.?

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

"Let's Talk About...Labiaplasty"

The monsters and I are currently on a whirlwind, late summer trip to see family in Canada.  This hasn't been without its trials (namely vomiting, onset of Noro Virus to various family members, and last minute decision to get bad UK dental work remedied).

Yesterday, on my way to spending several hours in a dental chair (which thoughtfully came equipped with inbuilt 'kneading action' like the kind you find in pedicure spas), I was most amused to find this huge ad above my head on the 'subway' ('tube' to all you UK luddites).

I suppose the constant rumbling motion of train on tracks might induce some discomfort in long rides, which might lead to a casual cursory thought regarding ones undercarriage, which might in turn - with a haphazard glance upwards - lead to thoughts of tampering with ones ladybits.  Or maybe not.

You do wonder why this particular advertisement is chosen to be one of a dozen on a train.  It must be profitable for the company to spend a fortune advertising here.  But even more confounding is the red hot sexy picture of a supermodel type, seductively smirking like a smug temptress who knows that her previously standard sweet meats have now been rearranged into the Taj Mahal of vaginas and given this fact can barely restrain herself from getting off (and I don't mean the train).

Seriously?  The irony is that if one looked like THAT, one could easily 'get off' without the help of a Vagina Doctor - no matter what sort of shambolic state ones bits were in (for example if one had just had the misfortune to give birth naturally to sextuplets).  I found the juxtaposition disturbing.  Let's just leave it at that.

My other 'deep thought' of the day whilst riding the 'subway/tube' was how small and compact and claustrophobically tight the seats here are:

Seats this size would never fly in the UK...

Now, forgive me dear Britian, oh adopted land of my youth, but your people are too large-ish and too 'het up' most of the time to tolerate such intimately narrow and restrained seating.  I mean, I'm average size, and when a hygenically-challenged man sat down next to me, sealing together with vacuum grip our respective thighs in the 90 degree heat (one hairy and sweaty...the other smooth and lotioned) I did what any self-respecting Brit would do:  I sniffed aloud (but not too loud - that wouldn't do), wiggled myself over as much as I could, and went out of my way not to make eye contact or even acknowledge the man who had so rudely infringed upon my personal space.

I can't even imagine the amount of fights that would break out in London tubes with such close proximity.  People would become 'Fat-ists' and glare menacingly at their extra-large fellow commuters, intimidating the very people most in need of 'taking a load off' into remaining standing for the entire journey lest they be hacked to death with biros in random acts of 'Tube Rage'.  

As is the case with many things, those 'extra few inches' that we have on our tube seats in the UK make such a difference, and really, the only choice people of a certain circumference would have, would be to lunge for a rare aisle seat and then perching ever so delicately on the edge, attempt an epic splay and steady themselves for the journey.  Not unlike this woman here:

A very well executed 'splay'

Anyway, I digress.  Though not even loaded up on pre-op painkillers (a fact I would later come to bitterly regret) with their usual accompanying dreamy thoughtscapes, I just thought I'd share my two insights of the day en route to what would ultimately be a rather lengthy, tiresome and painful procedure, and which in hindsight, would make labiaplasty and vaginoplasty seem like a walk in the park.

Friday, 14 August 2015

"And Survey Saaaaaaaaays........"

I certainly didn't have to wee on a stick to put myself out of my misery this morning.  All I had to do was turn on my laptop.

I saw the familiar email address from the agent, followed by one from the husband.  And then I just knew.

Deliberating momentarily I couldn't decide whether fashioning a frothy cappuccino was in order before clicking to read my fate, but decided in favour of a short, hard, fast shock to the system.  Either way I just wanted the suspense to end.  And it did.

Were we going to live happily ever after in 'Dream House No.3'? or were we destined to continue wandering property porn websites like addicts in search of the elusive 'hit'.  Were we going to find ourselves chucked out on the street in a few months time, into some lacklustre rental stop gap?  Or would we be roasting chestnuts on an open fire at Christmas?  (I mean this literally as it so happens that 'Dream House No.3' has a delightful working fireplace positioned regally between two banks of bookcases in the grand Front Room.

But never mind all that.  We didn't get it.

Of course we didn't.  It would have been too easy, too seamless, and too perfect to have sold and found a new house all in the space of a week. It would have been too good a story.

Besides who likes chestnuts anyway?

"The Million Pound Question"

I lie in bed tossing and turning, half drifting off several times before admitting defeat and venturing out of the bedroom and onto a comfy sofa to tap away on my laptop until sleep comes...if it comes.

You see I'm wired.  I feel as though I've just necked seven Redbulls and despite it being long past midnight, I can't blame my insomnia on the chubby fat toes of my youngest, who has crawled into bed with me and has taken up his usual                                                                    vertical positioning.

No, I am properly revved up.  For you see, after about a year and a half of trying to sell our three bedroom London flat, we have finally done it. Last week we officially declared defeat and did what we should have sensibly done months ago: lowered our asking price by a ridiculous amount and accepted a ridiculous offer even lower than that.


So that was that.  I guess like that old sage Kenny Rogers says, sometimes you've got to know when to fold 'em. We finally did, and the mixture of relief/disappointment/excitement/hopefulness and finally despair (after a sobering look at the over-inflated property prices in our area revealed that realistically we should be looking for a four bedroom closet with a cheeky thatch of grass out back) was something to behold.

Needless to say, minutes after our solicitor had been instructed, I had already compiled a shortlist of half a dozen properties to view - most of which were technically in reach should we get a deal and one or two which would mean food stamps and cold baths for the next ten years. At least.

Typically, I ignored the first rule of house hunting:  Do not let agents talk you into seeing properties both you and they know you can't afford.

The first house I viewed on my own, after which followed a frantic call right then and there on the sidewalk, to the husband, the agent looking on with a smirk.

"Can you leave work early?!  I think I've found the one!!"

(Cue disinterested typing on laptop in an office far away and a barely audible grunt having nothing to do with the bomb I've just dropped.)

"Seriously!  How soon can you come here?  The agent is willing to stay late to show it to you!"

I won't bother to recount the rest of the conversation, but suffice it to say it included a variety of expletives, some marital telling off, and ultimately a refusal to comply.  I was gutted...and started to feel panicky.

Not unlike a physically sub-standard fella who has inexplicably bagged the hottest supermodel on the planet and is about to go off to Dubai for six months while she resides at the Playboy Mansion, I was distinctly aware that the house I had just viewed was so 'special' that it was inevitable that some other bugger was going to nose in, discover this, and slipping his black Amex card across to the agent, break our hearts all over again (ie. a repeat of what happened to both 'Dream House No.1' and 'Dream House No.2' we had both loved and lost in the preceding year and a half).

So I did what any (non)sensible wife would do.  I shut up about it and secretly booked an early morning appointment for the next day.  I then coerced the husband into going (maybe I threatened to stop doing his laundry for a month or feed his three children...I don't remember), then proceeded to follow him around the viewing, totally invading his personal space and whispering excitedly all the amazing points the house had - until he stopped in one of the rooms, did a sudden about-face and told me to shut the heck up as he wanted to think/see/feel for himself.

I managed to keep quiet and backed off for as long as I could (sixty seconds tops?) before resuming my creepingly close, 'Gollum-esque' stance - the nervous rubbing of hands and excited whispers proving impossible to stifle.

All this to say, the predictable thing happened.  The rest of the homes we saw paled in comparison. This was likely due to the fact that they were all pretty much in our realistic price range as opposed to a post lottery win.  And the other "Would have to sell our best kid on the black market" one was temptingly huge but stuck in the Edwardian times from a design perspective, and given that even putting up a mirror in our home takes months, I knew we would always be living in a place with old-fashioned bright yellow creepy crawly wallpaper so.... we are.  I'm still unable to sleep, despite trying to rid myself of all the anxious excitement generated by the latest (YAWN) property adventures of the severely middle-class.  For you see, we have predictably/stupidly been bidding low on the magical house for the past week, and just tonight put in our final, literally can't go five pence higher, final bid.

After rejecting every single offer we've submitted, with a polite but firm 'NO', the vendors have at last decided to put us out of our misery, promised to discuss things one last time tonight, and let the agent know first thing tomorrow whether they'll give it to the salivating Ex-Pats or whether they're going to take their chances and hold out for the next Chelsea Banker to stroll past and buy it up as casually as one buys Park Place with a lucky roll of the dice.

Do you see why I can't sleep??

Thursday, 30 July 2015

"My Wee (Wee) Problem"

Squit and I have a problem.  We have reached an impasse.  At 3 1/2 he is clever, funny, and easily possesses the best disposition of anyone in our entire family - extended or otherwise.  But he's still not potty trained.  Not even close.

In fact, if there was a neutral position on the subject, he would be to the far LEFT of that.  It's not even something he's willing to discuss anymore, and should I be foolhardy enough to drop it casually into conversation, he will stop what he's doing, fix me with a unwavering glare, cross him arms insolently and leave the room (usually with an entirely age-inappropriate expletive that would have Super Nanny huffing in horror).

A few weeks ago he had an induction afternoon at the nursery he starts part-time in September. There are strict guidelines regarding the soiling of oneself, and should I fail to deliver a wee-free toddler in  6 weeks, he shall not be going to nursery and I shall not be kiddie-free five mornings a week.  This cannot be allowed to happen.

One day a few months ago, whilst untangling the daily mountain of damp towels on the bathroom floor, I noticed that someone had placed the blue potty seat on top of the regular toilet.  Further inspection revealed a few tell-tale amber droplets left behind and a big sopping wet discarded nappy I had NOT had any dealings with, plopped triumphantly by the bidet.  Now curious and confused, additional sleuthing in his nursery revealed a turned over top dresser drawer, an empty plastic packet devoid of its new undies and an incredulous peek at Squits bottom downstairs revealed the tell-tale Gap band peeking above his little Levi's.

I was flummoxed.  I assumed it had been a brother job, but Egg and Dumps were as astounded as me. It suddenly dawned on all of us that incredulously, Squit had quietly taken matters into his own hands, potty trained himself, and had gotten on with it stealthily and without fanfare.  

At that moment, believing that I had given birth to an utter genius, excited calls to Aunties and Grandparents ensued, and an impromptu family celebration was declared for the evening: pizza, popcorn, chocolate, a movie, sleepover with his brothers, etc.  For the remainder of the day Squit was treated like a Saudi Prince - no request too big and no pleasure denied. The little man plopped himself into the best chair in the front room whilst we all scurried around doing his bidding, practically worshipping the chunky little deity for his ingenuity and potty pragmatism.  Shaking our heads in wonder and awe, laughing at the absurdity of it all, we couldn't believe that months of worry could be over just like that.

That night after bath time he insisted we cover his chubby white bottom in a nappy again.   Which he promptly then soiled. 

The new Gap superman undies were flung with derision across the room, landing unceremoniously askew on his little stuffed monkeys head. Squit stood with his arms crossed, stubbornly clutching his little elbows and refusing to budge.

So there you have it.  Impasse.  I need to be smarter.  I need to be brimming with cunning maternal genius and resolve.  I need to attack this situation with the military precision of a general.

Instead I'm sitting here defeated in my front room, in our home which will not sell, staring glumly out the window at the cold wet grey day that perfectly encapsulates the state of my aching head and spasming back. Our cleaner arrives in a few hours and two out of three of our bathrooms are currently not fit for human occupancy.  Squit is demanding his third breakfast of the morning and I am dimly aware that in a few days we shall potentially be heading to the Suffolk countryside for a weekend of likely WET family camping.

I am not feeling particularly powerful.  Nor optimistic.  Rather I have the sinking feeling that Squit is purposely holding out on the potty training for the sole purpose of putting off further education indefinitely and staying ensconced in the safe cozy realm of 'Mama-land' here at home.  And who can blame him?  A bit of wet discomfort in the nether regions in exchange for lie-ins, endless repeats of Mr. Tumble (fyi I swear I might top myself if I have to listen to even one more jovial exclamation from that televisual terror of an entertainer) and of course - three breakfasts daily.  

There's no competition.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

"Latitude Festival En Famille..."

Like everything fun in life, there is always a price to pay.  And as any 80's kid will recall, that hard-as-nails dance teacher in Fame said it all: "Fame costs...and here's where you start paying!"

Tell me about it.  Festivals cost...and laundry, camper van clean up, and three nights of bad/no sleep is where I start paying.

Truthfully we had a blast.  Once I accepted that every morning was going to be HELL (nothing worse than three bored little people screaming/jumping on you/fighting each other/chucking food around the camper van at stupid o'clock, while you nurse a hangover of apocalyptic proportions and would happily donate a kidney for even a micro second more sleep) the rest of the day was a lark in comparison.

Five of us in a camper van was a stretch.  The two big boys slept up top, and the husband, myself and the ever increasing in girth Squit shared what amounted to a small double bed down below.  What fun.

I spent the nights swatting mosquito's (which involved slapping myself repeatedly in the face and head like a mental patient), tried (to no avail) to ignore the husbands bear-like snoring, and got bashed about the head like clockwork by Squit.  Sleep not an option, I was sorely tempted to venture back into the festival for late night frolicking.  Had we not been camped in the furthest outskirts of the festival, and had I not already removed my contact lenses (having stupidly omitting to pack specs) I most certainly would have been found dancing the Honkstep in the hilarious and rowdy Ukrainian tent we stumbled upon one night in the forest.

The boys (11, 8, 3) had a great time.  How could they not?  Hitting us up for cash on an hourly basis in order to stuff their faces with ice-cream, chips and whatever overpriced junk food they came across, was bound to please.  As a large group of us went together, the children formed a tribe of their own and spent most of the time wandering the grounds like a sugar-crazed pack of orphans...figuring out new scams to rid the parentals of pounds in order to buy all manner of leather bracelets and bubble guns.

The husband and Squit proved best bosom buddies - the pair of them loafing about like groupies in various tents and fields listening to bands like 'Warpaint' and 'Young Fathers'.

Me?  As with most festivals, in hindsight it seems like a good 40% of my time was spent queuing for the toilet.  Seriously.  It was so baking hot that liquid intake was a necessity and get the picture.

Speaking of toilets, one of the worst things is having to go wee in the night and stumbling for ages across damp fields to the portable loos.  So a few years ago I found a solution:  "Travel John's".  A genius invention, they allow one to quietly and discreetly empty ones bladder in the privacy of a tent.

The husband duly set up a small two man tent next to the campervan for 'Mama's loo'.  Brilliant. Except one morning Dumpie poked his head in whilst I was mid-stream, tights around my ankles, and yelled out to all and sundry, "Gross!  Mama's weeing in the tent!"  I shooed him out only to have Squit pop his head in moments later to confirm for himself that his mother was indeed 'weeing in a tent.'

Predictably, a short while later whilst queueing for the toilets with all three boys in tow (giving the husband a much needed quiet 'moment' to read and finish off an entire pack of Bacon himself in the glorious morning sunshine), Squitty shouted out in front of perhaps fifty odd people, "Mama, why did you make a pee pee in the tent this morning?"  Dumpie snorted with laughter and I died a small death.

"Squitty" I stage whispered, "Mama did NOT make a wee wee in the tent...ok?"

"Yes you did Mama!  I saw you!  You had your trousers down and were making a wee wee!" he confirmed with glee...grinning at his growing audience of amused onlookers.

By now, the rest of the queue, most of whom had been queuing for almost half an hour, were not even pretending to not hear.  Many of them were downright shaking with laughter and sneaking peeks back at 'Wee Mum'.

I thought it couldn't get worse, but of course...

"Mama" yelled Squit after a few moments "You made a poo poo in the tent!"

"I did NOT Squitty!"

"Yes you made a huge big smelly poo poo in the tent I saw you!"

Yeah, so at that point I gave up trying to maintain any sense of dignity.  Squitty is a natural clown, and with such a rapt audience I knew there was no point.  Whatever.  (For the record, I did no such thing...just sayin').

So that was our festival: Fun, chaotic, messy, no sleep, junk food diet, hot sun, great bands and hanging out with friends.

We shall be going again next year.  And in the meantime I'm going to practise my Honkstep.