Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Today is Halloween. That is why baby Pudge is wearing a spider suit for his nursery Halloween party where he apparently enjoyed dooking for apples, a popular Scottish Halloween game, though the mind boggles as to how you make babies play it (and stay alive)! And Charlotte has been dressed as the ever-girlie Darth Vader all day, though, much to her disgust, the helmet wasn't allowed for school in case it frightened the younger kids (of which, of course, she is one!) - she even wanted to take along her voice changer! Marcel however isn't wearing a Halloween costume because apparently Halloween is 'for kids'. :-( So he turned up at school wearing only a T-shirt sporting a skeleton design.


I mentioned back in May that I tore some ligaments in my foot trying to eat a chocolate cheesecake (incidentally the worst chocolate cheesecake I have tasted in my life). It has been sore all year. Every time I stand after sitting, get up after lying etc it hurts for the first 3 or 4 steps and then just niggles at me gently most of the day. I have noticed however that since the end of autumn is starting to hit here in Glasgow - the weather has become wet, windy and cold, my foot is slowly becoming torture. Even sitting with it up on the couch is painful. It throbs all day from the ankle to the little toe on the left side and nothing eases it (although there is no visible injury and my foot even fits in my shoe now). How long is it going to take to recover from that 3rd class cheesecake? :-(


Last night I dreamt of New York - big whoop I hear you cry! When I was really there I only used surface transport because alone with a baby in a buggy going downstairs to the subway was a hassle and of course not only had I already seen the tube on TV often enough but I knew I wouldn't pass any fancy touristy buildings down there. So I left it on my 'to do next time' list. So last night in my dream I seemed to be alone, Pudgeless even this time in NY city. Thomas had lent me his DSLR and I was taking photos of vagrants etc in the subway tunnels and stations. In one station I got off a train and there were a pile of 6-8 horses asleep on the platform, their brown hair gleaming in the light. I am not a great horse fan but I am sure I got some superb photos of those horses sleeping on the platform! (Pity I didn't upload it before I woke up ;-) ) Eventually in one station I met a little African looking girl - she looked about 3 and seemed to be alone and homeless with beautiful brown eyes and very big hair. Naturally I picked her up and sat her on my hip, and took her with me on my travels. I guess you don't need to be a superstar in your dreams to adopt a needy, homeless child!


These are two aspects of New York that none of the films or TV capture. The traffic, the taxi horns, the many different languages you hear as you walk down the street and the smells that make the place alive: chicken, lamb and sauces being barbequed on street corners with noodles or rice, sweet nuts being roasted everywhere - cashews, peanuts, coffees, and pastry smells - delicious!

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Another rant about prices: if I had known how much I would have to pay for T-shirts in NY, especially baby T-shirts like this one I bought my nephew Gordon (whose parents are lawyers in case you are wondering), then I wouldn't have bothered taking any clothes with me, I would just have taken an empty rucksack. Some shops were doing 5 T-shirts for $10 and I think I paid $2-50 for Gordy's T-shirt.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Poor Pudge has been sick since he started nursery about six weeks ago. His immune system has been tested to the extreme. He has caught colds, coughs and has had three chest infections. I seem to remember that is par for the course. It makes you feel bad but the advantage is that their immune systems have usually met almost everything before they start school at five and so they never miss any school once they have started. And of course he had that dreadful allergic reaction in NY 10 days ago. At the time I asked the docs if it could be an amoxicillin allergy, given he had finished a course of antibiotics 2 days earlier and given that Marcel is also allergic to amoxicillin, although Charlotte isn't. The doctors on duty that night all ruled it out but they were fairly young and inexperienced. I had my doubts, but often believe a parent of 3 kids could probably fake their way an average GP shift as long as the patients were all small children. So tonight I took Léon to the doctor's again because he's been sleepy, roasting hot and not eating again for another 2 days. The doctor said it was a viral infection but when I mentioned the allergic reaction he said he was 90% sure what I had mentioned was an amoxicillin allergy. He even described the symptoms to me. He could of course be wrong but at least I can now ask my own GP to do specific allergy tests and therefore hopefully avoid another week of this:
Driving back from the doctor at 9pm on the Saturday before Halloween was an experience, that over and above the potential allergy diagnosis, was in itself interesting. I passed 3 Batmans or (should that be Batmen?) walking along the street hand in hand beside a Fred Flintstone complete with one large, hairy club. An interesting choice of costumes - I would have imagined that if four friends had decided to go out to a Halloween party together they would either have gone as 4 Batpeople, or alternatively Fred, Wilma, Barney and Betty. I then passed several brides and grooms, some with daggers through their heads, assorted witches and ghosts and Superman who seemed to be out for a walk with a man wearing a karate suit. It is just a pity you forget to take your camera when you nip out to the out-of-hours doctor's surgery with a sick baby!


So here it is in Manhattan - large coffee with a bagel, just $1-25. So why do we numpties in Scotland pay 4 times that much here for the same thing? Today I was in Tinderbox where a 2-drips-in-a-cup espresso costs more than that without the bagel :-(


I don't know what it was about Times Square. I assumed with all that hustle and bustle and neons, Léon would find it fascinating. However, for some bizarre reason, every time I took him there, 5 times in all, he fell asleep! Maybe he'll find in more interesting next time round.

Friday, October 27, 2006


So I was driving into town with all 3 kids in the back of the car tonight. They asked me to put on the cd of High School Musical. 'Is that your favourite record at the moment guys?' I asked. Blank stares. 'Record?' 'Surely you have seen a record - you know like a big black cd?' I asked. 'No never', they both replied. Oh my God, how old am I? It is funny to think both my grandmothers died before ever hearing the word cd and yet my kids don't know records. My Granny even worked in a record shop when she wasn't playing piano in a night club! Anyway they eventually remembered they had once seen a record on an episode of Tom and Jerry. When were they made? 1950s?

Oh and Tom and Jerry itself is an odd one. Everyone in the world knows they are both boys but my kids insist and have done all their lives that Jerry is a girl. I thought that they were confusing with the name Geri, but no it is more cryptic than that! Being French bilingual they know it is un chat but une souris but the non-French part of their brains uses this information to assign gender, something a real monolingual French person would never do. How cool is that?


I went into a chemist on 5th avenue an hour after arriving in Manhattan. It looked spookily familiar - it could have been Superdrug. The lay out was similar and the brands the same: pampers, colgate, ultrabright, snickers, mars bars, Rimmel, Max Factor etc etc you name it. There were fridges along the walls with cold drinks and packaged sandwiches, cosmetics, off-the-shelf painkillers and toiletries in the middle. The one odd distinguishing feature though was at the checkout: cigarettes - this looked really incongruous to me as a Scottish person, where basically smoking has been banned everywhere but in your own house or outdoors because of health implications - a chemist/tobbacconist combined - weird!

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Straight after lunch one day in Manhattan I passed this place near Times Square. I was full and Pudge was asleep so I noted it mentally (everyone who knows me know I am more than partial to a slice of cheesecake - preferably chocolate, but blueberry or pineapple also cause me to smile a bit) and vowed to return later in the day. Imagine my disappointment when I forgot and only remembered once I uploaded the photo back in Glasgow :-( Oh well, guess I need to go back.


Am I the only one fed up with all the negativity in the world? I came across
this article today on the BBC website. Ok so Ryanair does have cramped seating, crumbs on the floor, extremely grumpy staff, oh and a ludicrous and infuriating baggage policy into the bargain. (And maybe it has delays flying out of Stanstead but having flown out of Hahn twice, Paris once, and Prestwick 3 times this year with all 6 flights taking off on time and arriving ahead of schedule I have no complaints about their punctuality.) Anyway am I the only one who still remembers the world pre-Ryanair and the likes? I used to spend 30 hours on a Eurolines coach to the East of France having paid more than I now pay for a 2 hour direct flight to Hahn at least 3 times a year. For the kids to visit Oma even 5 years ago I used to pay £1000 to fly to Frankfurt via London, or to Strasbourg via East Midlands, Paris and Strasbourg. That took a whole day and you still had to rent a car at the other end, but hey the cabin crew smiled and you got a dod of scambled egg and a sausage and even a free coffee on each flight! But now thanks to Ryanair my annual visit has been able to become a 3 or 4 times a year visit because I rarely pay more than £200 for a whole family to fly and off peak can even get myself and the 3 kids to Oma's for less than £100. The kids' Aunt has managed to visit them twice because as an unemployed pensioner she can afford Ryanair, but she can't afford BA. Ryanair, Easyjet and all their little brothers and sisters have opened up most big cities in Europe to us average earners as a weekend or holiday destination. We will all visit places in the future we wouldn't have seen in our lifetime without Ryanair. I am going to Latvia for 2 days in a fortnight for - I think it was £24, but pre-Ryanair I would never have seen Latvia. Yes we'd all love BA service on a Ryanair flight but I know which is more important to me - it being affordable or it being comfotable? So all I have to say to all the glass-is-half-empty people in this world is would you please 'haud yer wheesht'!
Ok rant over!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I guess someone had a bad day at work! :-)


Dad says he's going to stop blogging since no one comments on his blog :-( Come on everyone - start commenting, please!


Another astouding thing I found about America is how cheap everything was - the food, the drink, the clothes, the gas. WHY exactly do we put up with the climate here in the UK and pay such inflated prices? (Oh I remember, it is to get away from George Bush, isn't it?) But excepting that - us crazy Europeans pay ridiculous prices for cans of coke etc from street vendors and the likes when in the centre of Manhattan, this double-sized can of grape juice cost me just 99cents. So tall, it was like one of the skyscrapers itself, and such good value Léon and I shared 2 a day :-)


One thing I really loved in NY was those food places where you could go in and fill a little plastic tub (or even a big plastic tub) with everything from steak to noodles, to rice or mashed potatoes and then take it to the little park in front of the New York library and eat it at the little tables set out for that purpose. On our last day Pudge and I shared a tangy shepherd's pie, some mushrooms dripping in butter and various beautifully steamed veggies in the sun. Yummmmm.


It's that time of the year again when all us boring Brits start looking forward to Bonfire night and fireworks displays and such like. When we celebrate Guy Fawkes night, we are celebrating an event which took place in 1605. To my utter amazement however I turned on the radio yesterday in time to hear the second half of a news story. Apparently after 401 years something new and astounding has been discovered. The newsreader was saying that because they had discovered that fires were dangerous!, the council (I unfortunately missed which particular bunch of numpties they were referring to) had refused to grant a licence for this year's bonfire, so instead they would set a fire under controlled conditions, film it and then on Bonfire night project the pictures of the burning fire onto a large white screen at the firework display. I wonder if the fireworks will be real or if they too will be created using torches and drums.

This world we live in truly is an absurd place!

Saturday, October 21, 2006


This shop window in Ayr is just so British Seaside, isn't it? You can almost see your kids teeth rot just looking at it, can't you? I looked at the fry-up in the middle in particular and thought yeuch, just as Marcel and Charlotte said in unison, 'Look at the ham and eggs, they are soooo cool!'


I suddenly remembered today that when I was 7, during a gym lesson at primary school, my teacher called me to one side and asked me to repeat 'she sells seashells on the seashore' three times. I think because no one explained why I was being asked that at the time I had a vague notion the teacher had been abducted by aliens and replaced by someone who was perhaps mildly insane. The reason of course was that my two front teeth had been knocked out in an accident when I was two, you can almost see it on this photo of me at four, so I had a bit of a lisp in those days. Anyway I guess I must have failed the seashell test miserably as I was taken out of gym, told to dress and sent to a speech therapist for the next two years! But it worked - no lisp now.


Léon tried his hardest to reach them earlier but still couldn't so unless we get a ladder or a broom there is soon going to be a cider factory on dad's garage roof!


You can't go to New York without eating bagels so for my first bagel I opted for the veggie special: cream cheese, lettuce, onions, slices of tomato (or tomayto), avocado, sundried toma(y)to too - yum!

Friday, October 20, 2006


Got you worried there - you thought I was going to rant madly about missing ones, didn't you? ;-) No - just thought you'd like to see the pretty New York socks I bought the kids - call back at my site in approximately 2 weeks to read the rant when they go missing!

Thursday, October 19, 2006


More and more fall off every day and they look so good but no one retrieves them - they just sit and rot :-( I'm thinking missed crumbles myself. (Dad's garage roof covered in his neighbour, Walter's apples, in case you are wondering).


When I was a student I backpacked all around Europe alone, interrailing, bussing, even hitchhiking (though not alone). No one ever commented - when you are 20 and alone it is ok to travel far and wide. Now at 38 with a little baby things are different it seems. Women don't travel alone at 38 and certainly not with a baby. The first to point this out to me were my beloved, overprotective parents - mum emailed after a glass of wine or 2 'why are you doing this to us - you are freaking us out!' sweet! :-) But it continued at the check-in in Glasgow airport - the horrified desk worker inquired if I was meeting relative in NY. No, I am flying to Manhattan to spend 4 days walking about taking nice photos of my baby, I intend to go up a few sky scrapers, eat some nice food and then hear Streisand sing! I replied - the look was incredulity. On arrival in Manhattan I stuck out my hand to stop a little blue minibus marked Airport-Hotel transfers, the driver helped me my rucksack and my buggy (sorry stroller) on and then waited with the engine idling. I asked if we had to wait till all 9 seats were full before going as only Pudge and I were aboard. Oh aren't you with someone? he asked - I was waiting for your husband! Then I went out for my first walk - I walked in the general direction Times Square, on my way I passed Grand Central Station. At Times Square someone stopped me and asked for directions to Grand Central Station! I gave them, having just come from there. A second person stopped and asked the same 2 minutes later and so the pattern started - 10 times a day I was stopped and asked for directions all around Manhattan because a woman alone walking the streets of Manhattan can't be a tourist she can only be a local! I was puzzled that the rules for men and women were still different even in the noughties but I was also secretly quite proud that I looked so at home, at ease and confident that even the locals assumed I was a local :-) Because of this I found Manhattan a wholly unthreatening place, I walked about even after dark, though sensibly, and as I merged into obscurity among the other 8 million inhabitants and no doubt several million tourists, I felt like I had come home. All my life I wanted to visit New York, I had taken 9/11 as a personal attack as if they had done it to Glasgow and not New York. In a way I was scared to visit in case it turned out not to be the home I had felt it to be from a distance. Dreams have a way of disappointing you, but this was one dream that lived up to and surpassed my expectations. In a way going there alone probably reinforced the feeling of home because home is the most obvious place to spend time totally alone. NY I LOVE YOU :-)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


The first thing that struck me when I reached Manhattan was that shade of yellow used for the taxis. Everyone has seen movies set in New York so everyone knows the yellow taxis just as if they had lived there all their lives. BUT what no one actually tells you is that they aren't yellow, they are more orange. Maybe it has something to do with the resolution used on US movies or something but they are definitely a different shade from on the TV. I think this photo of Léon with the duck shows what I mean - the duck is the colour the TV has led me to believe the cabs are all these years and Léon's T-shirt is the colour they actually are. Interestingly, although this shocked me every time I stepped outside on Saturday, by Sunday I was already so accustomed to them that I no longer found the shade disturbing.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


You have to feel a tiny bit apprehensive when you are faced by 14 hours on a plane in 4 days with a baby sitting on your knee. A baby who doesn't have his own seat in the plane and who would much rather get down and crawl and play with toys etc. So I take my hat off to my flying perfect angel who sat happily all 14 hours, sleeping some of the hours and playing and looking out the window the other few, but without even one minute of distress, upset or boredom. On both flights the unlucky passenger who had been assigned the seat beside me looked suitably horrified on discovering that they would be sitting beside a toddler for 7 or 8 hours. By half way through the flight their horror had turned to mild praise for his behaviour and that again had turned to inspired congratulations, mixed with more than a little surprise by touchdown each time. Pudge was a true ambassador for the flying tiny people of the world. Well done Pudge (or should that be 'Way to go!'?)

Monday, October 16, 2006


Pudge eating chocolate
Originally uploaded by viralbus.
On Saturday I had to go into town to put my laptop in for repair. All the way the kids moaned about how far they had to walk, how boring walking in town was etcetc...until and old man stopped me in Buchanan Street and asked in that time-old Glaswegian fashion 'Are they weans yours, hen?' When I replied 'yes' he proceeded to explain that kids were receiving free trial chocolate bars behind St Enoch tube station. Suddenly a walk in town was the best possible pastime for a Saturday afternoon. They returned at least 3 times, removing hats, and jackets in a pitiful attempt at disguise to receive extra free chocolate! Even Pudge joined in the fun :-) And tried to regain a few calories lost over the 4 days of his illness...(Was it really only four days???)


Eastern Canada looked quite different from I expected. It was very flat, very empty and covered in little ponds and lakes (photo to follow once the laptop comes back from the laptop hospital!) I guess I expected it to be hilly for some reason! It looks very pretty though.


I fly a lot. I fly all over Europe, but that means I always fly above land. Last Saturday I flew across the Atlantic for the first time on a crisp, blue, perfect day. From Glasgow to Halifax in Canada took exactly 4 hours in total, the other 3 hours of the flight were above Canada and the United States. I was struck by the immensity of the ocean for the first time in my life. Before, I have often sat on the edge of the Atlantic or the Mediterranean looking out towards infinity but I have never actually seen it all the way to the other side. I felt much smaller crossing an ocean than crossing land, if that makes any sense. Suddenly the parts of this planet we humans control seemed small and insignificant compared to mother nature. It was truly an awesome experience.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Ok, Pudge is out of the woods now so I can return to the pressing subject of New York, although I can't stick photos on my blog for now :-( as my beloved computer (with the NY photos on it) is in for repair at the moment. So here are the words, check back later for any accompanying pics.

The first thing that struck me last Saturday as I boarded the Boeing 757 was the number of crazy people, of which I am one, there are in this world. Most people knew I was going to New York for a long weekend and as I have spent at least the last 20 years going on and on ad nauseam about visiting my beloved New York, they probably assumed I was flying there to visit New York, which of course I was but the reason for the specific timing was of course the Barbra Streisand concert in Madison Square Garden. I guess very few, even of my closest friends knew I was crazy enough to fly intercontinentally just for a concert! I had queued and missed out on tickets for her Wembley gig in 1994, so had vowed to attend her next concert, but of course she next sang on 31-12-99 in California when I was not only in bed with flu but was also 9 months pregnant with Lotsie :-( That day I vowed that if she ever sang again in public I would attend even if I had to fly across the world to do so. Most of my family nodded sweetly, no doubt assuming I was just letting of steam, but...
I meant it! And so I boarded the 757 alone with my tiny baby under my arm feeling just a little silly but also very exhilarated. To my astonishment I heard from about 2 rows behind me a woman's voice saying 'I hope the seats are good because I bought expensive ones, but you aren't going to fly all that way and not be able to see the stage'. I smiled and thought, hey I am not the only nutter in this world but like a stack of dominoes it suddenly went round the plane, row after row quizzing each other ' Are you flying over to see Barbra too?' So I happily joined the Babs fanclub in the sky all flying intercontinentally to hear that voice just once before it went into retirement and boy was it worth it! :-)

Saturday, October 14, 2006


What a difference a day makes - these two photos were taken exactly 24 hours apart. What a relief to see the hugely swollen, lumpy, miserable baby start slowly to return to our recognizable happy boy. PHEW! So I think after 3 sleepless nights, I can finally contemplate actually shutting my eyes and no longer sleeping with a torch to check his skin and breathing on an hourly basis.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


I rushed back from New York on the Tuesday flight with a list of at least 15 topics jotted on little pieces of paper to blog the minute I got through the door. I'd had the most amazing time and wanted to tell the whole world why New York is the best place on the planet! However little Léon had other ideas :-(
During the overnight flight the 3 little spots I had noticed on his arm at 1pm in New York had turned into a little blotching, but enough that I decided to take him to my GP who said it looked like an allergic reaction to some unknown substance or food. By 8pm though when I went to change his nappy the slight blotching had become an angry red mass and between the blotches his entire torso was covered in bruises that made him look like he had been kicked around the room. In complete panic I threw him in the car and drove to casualty where 7 hours later they were still calling it a severe allergic reaction to substances unknown, though at least they had confirmed his blood pressure, oxygen count, and internal organs were all functioning normally. So no time to blog NY for now - but watch this space for Léon updates and all my NY posts when Léon is finally out of the woods.

Friday, October 06, 2006


Tomorrow sees the clash of the century, that my poor kids didn't manage to get tickets for :-(
Scotland take on France in a qualifier for Euro 2008. So for anyone who is interested in betting, I have it from my kids that the score is going to be: 6-0 to France (Marcel), or 3-2 to France (Charlotte). Let's see if their predictions are any better than for the World Cup Final?


Oh! When looking up the link for my previous posting, it seems Colin has written lots of new books since HarperCollins lost him to Headline Book Publishing Ltd - I must order everything from Murphy's Law onwards used from Amazon - I usually enjoy him - he's a bit wacky. I miss picking them up for 50p at work.


Originally uploaded by Nidriel.
Well Pudge and I are getting excited (he doesn't know he is yet but I'm sure he should be!) 14 hours till we check in, just rang the hotel and they have heard of me and wonder if Pudge wants a crib and somewhere to store his stroller and diapers - hmm this is going to be a challenge, not trying to understand them but having them understand me - it seems baby vocabulary is amongst the most altered between UK and US English - it'll be fun!
We'll need to try some pancakes in a diner tomorrow morning before heading up the Empire State building, while fondly remembering
Colin Bateman. And we'll see what we fancy after that, within reason of course, as my mommy doesn't want me out in the dark in the big city, but that's a whole other story that I'm still waiting to hear if she'll allow me to blog! ;-)

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Well I have to start somewhere don't I? I know I'm going to be insufferable for about a week now but it isn't something you do everyday, is it? I thought checking the weather was a good place to start. I'm a happy bunny.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Hey cool - just noticed Derek has started commenting on my blog - didn't know he even knew about it - with dad already hooked - it'd be fun if we got another sad blogger nerd to join the clan :-)
(Well as long as it doesn't become a homage to Partick Thistle (nil) fc blog, that is!)


I was in a shop at the weekend that sold T-shirts with typically Scottish phrases printed on them. My kids' reaction to the T-shirts got me to thinking, with some nostalgia and some sadness, about quite how quickly language and meaning is lost. The first T-shirt said 'Haud yer wheesht' - instantly recognizable to me as Gramps used to say it to me often when I was a child in the 70s, so it was language I knew but didn't use. My parents, however, don't often use these old Scottish terms, and I, belonging to a generation on, never use them although am passively au fait with them all. They feel alien on my tongue but not in my head :-( The upshot of course being that my kids - born just 30 years after me in the same town, but, significantly, after the death of all of my grandparents didn't have any notion of what it meant - It was as foreign to them as it would be to any Englishman or foreign tourist :-( I tried a few more - for instance asking them if they knew what a 'clype' was, but no - blank stares - I must bring a Scot's Gem home from work and teach them these little gems before it is too late.


I have had my eye on this camera since July when mine developed a nasty fault that killed off 80% of the functionality. Because it is still working I find it hard to justify buying a new one, except of course that if it completely dies on me in New York on Saturday I may be a little more than irate to say the least! But when I first started tracking this 3 months ago, it was £30 dearer so in theory if my patience holds out another 15 months I may be able to pick up one for free! Well - that would be nice. I guess the alternative would be to go down the DSLR route but I remember how things were in the old days - 3 bodies, 6 lenses, millions of filters, 2 flashes, a tripod and generally a very sore back as I walked around with all this swinging from my neck. So I think I will resist for now - after all the finepix range (this would be my third) offers great quality and are less than half the price of an SLR so I can legitimately replace them more often.

Monday, October 02, 2006


What on earth is this? They've been building this igloo for weeks now at junction 5 on the M77. It looks like some sort of strange doorless storage facility but it is miles from anywhere. Maybe it is some modern inuit dwelling? Perhaps climate change is forcing them to change homeland? ;-)

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Well this is the first time I have had time to sit down in nearly a week - maternity leave has come to an end - alas - and needs must :-( so I am back to being a headless chicken. Started back last Tuesday at 8-15am. The place was pretty empty at first so I waited on it filling up, only to remember that actually half the place has been made redundant so it wasn't going to fill up :-( How depressing! The office is huge, empty and echoey. And worse still my mate Pat who sits opposite me has just resigned so I will soon be reduced to talking to the photos on my wall! I hate to say it after just 4 days but I feel like I need a holiday already! Anyway at least Léon is enjoying nursery. He's been hiding behind his hands and playing peek-a-boo since he started and on Friday they held a wee birthday party for him for his first birthday.