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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A wicked sense of humour

So Charlotte, Amaia and I went shopping in Asda for dinner. Charlotte was in her school uniform, Amaia in normal clothes. Charlotte goes to the local school so everyone knows the uniform. Moreover the school has a colour-coding system of ties to show where in the school a child is - red ties for 12-14 year olds, blue ties for 15 and 16 year olds, black for 17 and 18 year olds. Those whose kids attend the school are obviously aware of this. I had to go to the Internet order pick-up desk for a skirt I'd ordered Amaia so I gave Lots the shopping list and Amaia opted to go with her. I'm not sure what got into Amaia's head but Charlotte said that every time they stopped to pick something up and there were other shoppers nearby Amaia turned to her in a very loud voice and called her mum!' 'Mum, can we get crisps?', 'What's for dinner, mum?' Lots was affronted! She said she's never had as many dirty looks in her life! Wee besom!

My first car

first car

With Marcel reaching 17 this summer, he's started talking about saving up for driving lessons, a car and insurance. Many of his better-off friends will be given a car but rather than being down in the dumps at that prospect, Marcel just sees that as another challenge. And obviously given he's just worked enough in the corner shop to pay for a trip to India and a few other outings this summer, that possibility isn't as far-fetched as it could be (well if you ignore the potential insurance quotes anyway!)

So we got onto the topic of first cars. Somehow Marcel had managed to miss all references to my first car over the years so I hunted through some old photos till I found one of it. It was a 1988 Fiat 126. He looked surprised that something that small could actually get you anywhere. When I pointed out that Linda, Gillian, Shona, Sheina and I had been on many day trips to the coast and the likes in that little chuggy, he nearly fell off his seat in surprise.

I have fond memories of a trip to Edinburgh once: I had noticed in the handbook that its top speed was 68mph so with a tailwind on the M8 we'd tried our hardest to break the 70mph barrier - ambitions were small back then!

There was the time I had taken it to Mull on holiday with my then French boyfriend. We'd phoned ahead and booked into a bed and breakfast calling ourselves Miss De Beauvoir and Mr Sartre and they hadn't seemed to get the allusion! We drove onto the ferry, or rather we tried to but the chuggy got stuck as it was too little to drive on. Four men had had to carry it on rather than leaving it wobbling on the on-ramp - how embarrassing!

And finally in the early years in Collins, a German colleague asked me for a lift into town as his car had broken down. I'm not sure he'd have asked, if he'd seen what I drove. He was about 6'8" and I had serious trouble getting him in and out. I thought at one point I might have to drive with the sunroof open!

These days I may be seen more often than not in my big seven-seater people carrier, but to be honest I will always be a chuggy owner at heart. One day, when all the kids have left home, the economy permitting, I'm going to buy myself a new Fiat 500!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Egg obsessed

For the past six or seven years Thomas has been obsessed with making the perfect Easter egg. I can only assume this is a hang-up from his childhood (with German aunts and uncles) rather than a new-found religious streak...

At first he banged his head up against the fact that the UK has become an almost exclusively brown egg country and brown eggs just don't colour. One year we did get six white eggs off our dear doctor (who has a home farm) but beyond that the eggs were the first hurdle.

After that the colouring of his childhood seemed to be unavailable because of all these colouring regulations these days so the first few years saw brown eggs dyed browner and that wasn't very appealing.

Then we started shopping more in ethnic supermarkets and it came to our attention a year ago that Poles love white eggs. So off he went down to Thornliebank and returned hopping and skipping (carefully) with two dozen white beauties from the Polish supermarket.

Added to that the complex plan whereby he'd ordered German Easter egg colouring six months ago, had it delivered to my friend in Cologne and had her drive it back at Xmas - bingo - everything finally fell into place for our first ever brightly-coloured Easter eggs.

It was such a success I had better order next year's already.

I did feel sorry for his other Danish expat friend who had had the same problem. Having not discovered the Polish option, she had forked out for Waitrose's most extortionate pale duck eggs. With no decent colouring to be had she tried boiling them with beetroot in an attempt at achieving pink eggs, only to find out that expensive duck eggs mixed with beetroot gives exactly the same shade of brown as Asda smartprice eggs. I reckon she'll be going down the route next year too.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sometimes it is the innocent conversations that teach you the most.

I was driving into town yesterday with four of the five kids in the car. Charlotte was in the front so the soundtrack from Tangled was chosen to be the in-car entertainment for the trip. We'd just listened all the way through both Mother knows best and the reprise, sung by the old witch Mother Gothel and I innocently commented that she was a bit of a bitch. Still singing along happily and innocently Charlotte stated, quite calmly and unmoved 'Yeah, she always reminds me of papa'. I quietly left her to elaborate. She commented on the way she undermines Rapunzel, the way she builds her confidence and knocks it down in the one sentence, her paranoid fluctuations between loving and downright nasty, her condescending attitude, her mad possessive steak and finally the glee she takes in telling her no one will want her.

Often when I hear how my kids talk about their father, I am shocked that he allowed their relationship to deteriorate to that level. Nothing should have been more important to him than them but by allowing his own madness to become more important than them, he lost them somewhere along the way. I would be devastated if this sort of song reminded my kids of me.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Maternal instinct

We were discussing the differences between boys and girls tonight in the car on the way to the swimming pool and Léon decided he was more than pleased to be a boy as he didn't really fancy any of that giving birth nonsense. Anna seemed more upbeat though: 'I definitely want to be a mum when I grow up' she announced - I was about to comment on the fact that she always seems to love babies when she elaborated, cackling like an old witch: 'I want little people I can use as my slaves, who can do all my cleaning and tidying up'. Patently I must be doing something wrong on the mothering front.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Money madness

I have no idea what made England decide to go down this silly road - they certainly weren't going with the flow, nor do I have any doubt that it will need rethinking once it becomes patently obvious that the majority of loans will never be repaid but given my children are in the 'guinea pig' age-group, attempting to avoid Scotland being forced into introducing this (reduced block grants and all that) will be top of my list of reasons for voting 'yes' this September...