Wednesday, August 29, 2007


That child (Charlotte) never ceases to astound me. Today she asked me, very nonchalantly, as I was driving home when I was going to die. As most parents do when faced with this question from a small child, I tried to reassure her it wouldn't be until a long time in the future, when she'd grown up and left home, saying I really didn't know. Instead of being relieved by my woolly answer, she was positively let down at its lack of specifics, tutted and muttered: 'well can't you google it or something?'

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Derek and Amanda used to live in Wilton Street in North Kelvinside. They'll be glad they moved, as I expect property prices may have taken a bit of a tumble last night! The photos are spectacularly horrendous. Considering the size of the flats in that street, I imagine the 4 that were destroyed must have been worth over £1.2M.

Monday, August 27, 2007


I was thrilled a few weeks ago when wee Pudgey man managed to point at a truck on the motorway and shout 'truck'. I was even more proud a few days later when he could suddenly tell the difference between a truck and a van and pointed out vans on the motorway. I was less than pleased today however when he saw both together as in this shot and instantly proclaimed 'VUCK!'


For the past year or so I have been driving past the half-built Homebase next door to Robroyston Asda every day on my way to work in Bishopbriggs. I am not a great fan of Homebase to be honest, I tend to find B&Q has a much better selection, however the fact that it is next door to a large supermarket, that I often frequent means I am going to find it useful for the odd pack of screws or piece of sandpaper even if I do stick to B&Q's larger selection for paint or beading or whatever. It opened finally on Friday and on Saturday during our DIY bonanza Thomas found we needed panel pins - an obvious thing to acquire in the new Homebase. I toddled out alone, leaving Thomas to paint the bathroom. On entering I saw two things that were going to appeal much more to Thomas than any B&Q - the first area you enter after the front door has a sign above it proclaiming 'cookshop' - Thomas is a kitchen utensil and gadget nerd (I mean he has a tool that slices fresh pineapples into rings and takes out the core simultaneously and the likes!) so he will be over the moon to check every shelf here to make sure he isn't missing anything obscure. But the second thing that will appeal to the language nerd but which I found utterly bizarre was the Gaelic signposting! Now we were in Oban over the summer, where the odd bank's name or street name appears in Gaelic under the English but that is 100 miles north of Glasgow and is probably only done to appeal to the tourists looking for that shortbread-tin Scotland that doesn't actually exist. They have the same in Irish in Dublin airport - signs like Welcome and Exit translated into Irish to appeal to the tourists but the real information signs are actually conspicuously only in English. So here I was standing in Bishopbriggs, Glasgow in a DIY store where not just entrance and exit were displayed in Gaelic, but absolutely everything - every department, every information sign - nothing was left out. But who is it for? It isn't there to fool the tourists - tourists don't go DIY shopping in the northern suburbs of Glasgow, it isn't there for Bishopbriggs' native Gaelic speaking community because there isn't a native Gaelic speaker within 200 miles of the place, it isn't even for the non-native Gaelic speaker because the chances of even one of them crossing their threshold per day is zero. So why? It must have cost money to have it all translated, it must also have cost to hang all these signs. It is truly bewildering. If it was to be useful to people using the store Polish would have been a more obvious choice with many Polish tradesmen in Glasgow at the moment. It isn't far from Sighthill either with its large foreign community so they could have tried French for the African refugees, or Arabic or even the more usual Urdu, Punjabi or Chinese but Gaelic?...weird, weird,weird!

After work today we stopped in for 5 minutes so I could show Thomas this linguistically phenomenal DIY store...his first impression? Predictably, they've spelled 'furniture' wrong! I should have guessed!

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Mince and Tatties
Originally uploaded by The Duke of Prunes
Just been over to mum and dad's to drop off the 2nd (or was it 3rd, I've lost all sense of time) carload of stuff from the flat today - we're 'decluttering' as advised both by common sense and the estate agents! We worked all day, pretty much like yesterday so this week is going to be a nightmare - I usually try to recuperate from my 6am weekday starts at the weekend but this weekend hasn't seen me sit on my bottom for more than 5 minutes :-( Today we didn't even have time for dinner so Thomas ordered a pizza online. I don't mind pizzas - no one has invented a foodstuff I actually dislike - but I am fairly indiffernt to pizza. Sure I prefer a pizza to no dinner but it came and was eaten but didn't excite me over much. We then walked in on mum and dad just as they were dishing out mince and tatties - now there's something that I would have liked tonight - I always try to do something more exotic with mince so haven't had boring old mince and tatties in my grandparents' style in years but I really fancied it when I saw it. I started to wonder why you can't order mince and tatties online for home delivery...maybe that's a business idea that'd work - for all those people bored of online pizza. Maybe it could slowly be expanded to online haggis, online cullen skink... Have I finally hit on something that'll make me a millionaire?

Saturday, August 25, 2007



I was going to have a good old moan about our day - 2 washings, 3 ironings, 1 trip to Homebase (which I'll blog tomorrow or the day after - it was just too weird for words), tidying under one bed, packing 3 boxes, 2 suitcases, doing skirtings, washing all the flat windows using a bloody heavy 3 metre long pole in the drizzle, painting bits of the bathroom - walls, pipes, tidying round the sink, unblocking a drain, shaving the bottom off one of the numerous ill-fitting doors in the flat, crawling about the front garden picking up two whole binbags full off litter kindly dropped by the lazy git brigade on their daily walk to and from Cowcaddens tube station, sweeping and hoovering what seems like all day...etc etc And some how getting to 10pm and still having as much to do tomorrow :-( When I was done ranting, I was going to attach a photo of me trying hard to stand on my very swollen feet, crippled with my very achy back but then I saw this old photo of Pudgeman and thought - that's how I feel - that says it all!

Friday, August 24, 2007


Not only did he come to see Barbra with me last month but this week he bought tickets to take me to see Dancing Queen at the Theatre Royal tonight. He's either crazy or he loves me. Neither of us had read what Dancing Queen actually was so assumed it was some kind of Mama Mia type stage play but it turned out to be more of a lavish Bjorn again type tribute concert with a bizarre 70s interlude in the middle - no matter - people were dancing in the aisles like crazy. We were in the front row of the circle and I was beginning to worry it would collapse in that old Glasgow theatre given the shoogling it was doing under the feet of the dancing didn't. So it was a nice nostalgic evening, though it finished with a wee bit of a twist. As we walked down the stairs, the fire alarm started to ring, we strolled on then realized it was a real fire alarm so everyone was hustled outside quickly to make way for the 4 (or was it 5?) waiting fire engines. We're sitting here now wondering if we have just seen the last ever show at Glasgow's Theatre Royal, in true Glasgow Apollo style and if it is currently burning down, but unfortunately we are both too tired to walk the one block to check...maybe tomorrow...

Oh and Bart gave only 2 kicks during the entire performance which lasted from 7-30 to 10pm so I don't think (s)he's going to be a wee musical baby like Pudge, just a vaguely lazy lump!

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Tonight was another glorious, sunny night so we opted for a picnic dinner - well fried chicken from Farmfoods, 3 bags of chips from the Oxford in Hill street, a big bottle of Irn Bru and a melon to make us believe it was a healthy picnic! It was nice to get to eat outside for a change, and the wasps weren't a problem yet, although it is the end of the season. It was even nicer to have no clearing up or dishes afterwards but I have to admit I found myself longing for a shotgun. We had a few chips left over and the seagulls were flying overhead squawking madly like they've been doing from 4am recently keeping me awake and putting me in a foul mood for the day. I knew that if I threw the spare chips to the ground, I'd have had a clean shot at a whole bunch of the squawking, flying vermin and potentially a night's rest but unfortunately no one seemed to have abandoned any guns in the local park, so I carefully bagged every last chip and put them in the bin fearing that if they could smell even one they might be back to dispute them at 4am.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


It just has to be a male invention - I know that is a sexist comment but there really can't be any other explanation. For starters, guys can better aim anyway with their attachment than we can, should they need to give a urine sample, which of course they almost never do, but these have to be the biggest joke of pregnancy. The opening is less than a centimetre wide and every 2-4 weeks they want to check for protein in your urine as pre-eclampsia can lead to eclampsia which of course can be fatal. They need to check for life-threatening diabetes-related sugars too. So if all these things they are checking for are so damned important then why to they give you this ludicrous receptacle? You can't see your feet, let alone your knee-caps by 24 weeks, your arms are too short to fit round the bump and between your legs and still you are meant to aim at an opening less than a centimetre in width to provide a sample that could save yours or your baby's life - hahaha - someone has a mighty sick sense of humour!

Monday, August 20, 2007


Seaplane Liftoff
Originally uploaded by msusmania
Wow! Apart from the fairly hideous non-ryanair-type price, I really fancy trying this, camera in hand!

Sunday, August 19, 2007


I am not usually a fan of rain but I'm happy to say the past two Saturdays have been amongst the wettest, most dismal August days I remember in all history. Why does this please me? Well at 9am both days I have been rudely dragged from my bed, although already awake, by that most nauseating of sounds, peculiar only to sad sectarian places such as Scotland and Northern Ireland, a mix of deep thudding drums and cheap squeaky whistles - a combination that can only mean the lunatics have escaped the asylum once more to parade their orange nonsense on our streets under my bedroom window. Why don't they just crawl back under their stone and finally realize that the world doesn't need this kind of negativity? I am happy to say I am free from religion and all its dark undertones, I did however come from a family that was Protestant a generation or two ago, and despite that spent years happy and loved in the midst of a French Catholic family - celebrating our similarities and differences. I don't think anyone can fully understand that sinister side of what was loosely termed religion unless they grew up in Scotland or Northern Ireland during the 1970s, watching night after night people killing and maiming supposedly for the sake of their faith. If that is faith, I am happy to have none. I guess the only heartening thing to be taken from the fact that these morons are still feeling the need to waken me up on a Saturday morning in the noughties is the size of the march. Anyone who saw a march in the 70s will be surprised to see the pitiful handful of people out the last two Saturdays. In my childhood a march could hold up the whole city's traffic for an afternoon, nowadays, blink and you'll miss them.


At last it is gone, thank heavens!

Saturday, August 18, 2007


I'm slowly coming round to the idea that there are 3 types of Maths brains. When I was a kid, I thought there were 2: those who understood Maths at school and thought it a dawdle and those who could not do anything mathematical even if someone was pointing a gun to their head and threatening death, if the kid didn't instantly understand the finer points of calculus. I never understood that. Maths always seemed boring but simple.
My dad always struck me as a reasonably mathematical person, worked in engineering, understood all the calculating etc but then one day mum got him to install fitted wardrobes in their bedroom. I came home from school to a row that went something like: I don't care how much the cornicing cost, you'll have to re-order it... I was puzzled until I entered their room to find dad had cut all the angles wrong on the cornicing right round the room...not just a little wrong but completely inside out, and was trying to convince mum she was overreacting, and that she'd get used to it...needless to say the cornicing was reordered and redone. Now, at the time, this struck me as very strange. When I look at a corner in a room I see instantly which way the angle needs to be cut to meet in the middle, so how did my reasonably mathematical dad make such a colossal balls-up? Maybe he was tired, rushing or whatever...
Now we are trying to sell the flat in Rose street. Thomas, I have always considered, in the 5 years I've known him, to be extremely clever, highly intellectual, and amongst other things mathematical almost to a nerd degree. I've seen the computing database he designed in the office - even Einstein would have trouble following it, it is so complex, and yet he's standing here with two pieces of skirting asking which edge needs to be longest in a way that my dad would be proud of. The genius brain seems to seize up completely in the face of spatial geometry. I'm feeling quite intellectually smug for once (and probably for the only time). So I need to stop blogging now and go draw him a wee diagram to show which way round the angles go ;-)


What? Bergen in Norway of course.
You see, despite only having time to DIY and not being able to go out today (other than to several B&Qs on a skirting hunt), I have been lamenting the weather somewhat...well until Thomas mentioned he thought it rained more in Bergen. I checked wikipedia and learned from the paragraph entitled 'Climate' that it had actually rained continuously there from 25 October 2006 to 20 January 2007 - bloody hell! Scotland seems positively Caribbean by comparison, hush my mouth.

Friday, August 17, 2007


I know I usually blog about the upside of parenthood, but there are definitely some downsides too. Charlotte's front tooth is currently attempting to beat the world record for hanging on in there way beyond the call of duty. For a start she's female and nearer 8 than 7 so the front teeth should be long gone. But worse still it has been wobbling now since May, by June the new one had grown in behind giving her a look akin to Ken Dodd in his heyday and finally for approximately the past 36 hours it has been hanging by one thread and yet instead of just getting it over with, she's refusing solid food and brushing only her back teeth - either in an attempt to avoid the 'pain' or simply to gross out the adults around her. Poor Thomas is on the verge of fainting and her new teacher - new to the class, new to the school, new to the profession had to contend with her wobbling it proudly at her today too!

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Originally uploaded by blende6
Léon's vocabulary has mushroomed over the last month. He's reached that worrying 'I can repeat anything you say' stage. But now he's also making sense of things and his favourite topic at the moment is transport. As we drive to nursery, he points out every car, every truck, every van and as of yesterday, he even seems to be able to tell taxis from cars. I wasn't, however, prepared for his comment when we left nursery today. As we walked out the door, an Easyjet flew over quite low against a perfect blue sky. He looked up, pointed and said very clearly: 'Oh mum, a boat!' Funny considering he's been on only one boat in his life and yet has been on at least 20 planes, for hours on end.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


I remember the early 70s well. Summers were hotter, I spent them skipping through the grass meadows and woodland on the far flung edge of Glasgow's furthest, deepest, darkest suburb: Newton Mearns, knowing that was more or less the end of civilisation till you hit Prestwick...shoulder-length golden hair, big brown eyes and usually sporting a Donny Osmond T-shirt, because as all little girls knew in the early 70s, he was the most gorgeous and wholesome thing on two legs. I turned on the BBC news tonight to have it thrust in my face that he, and most of the troop are pensioners, grandparents, too. Where did my sunny youth go? ;-)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


When Marcel was a tiny man, this was his favourite book in the world. It had one clear advantage over most other books of this type, and that was that things were ordered by picture type, ie food, transport, clothes etc and not alphabetically. This was a very important difference when it came to learning, because he's bilingual of course. When you showed him most of these picture books, he started to associate a capital 'D' with the sound 'D' and the words beginning with 'D': dog, duck, door, dinosaur. We'd then open the French one and he'd be confused by dog and duck appearing under 'C', door under 'P' and dinosaur still at 'D'. Also when Marcel and Charlotte were small, I often simply translated their story books into French as I read them so using an English alphabet-based book didn't work when I translated. This big book meant one day I could teach the 2 year old Marcel or Charlotte all the words for food in English, the next day in French with no confusion at all. Léon, of course, is growing up trilingually, so re-acquiring this book will be even more important for him. Today he repeated every word Marcel said to him in the car as we drove along. Marcel then tried some of the words in French, he repeated those perfectly too. Thomas tried in Danish, same result, so I ordered it off Amazon tonight as he's obviously just waiting to read his way through it at least 3 times. Looking forward to that!

Monday, August 13, 2007


I was sent this ad today for dog seat belts by Lidl UK, apparently it is on special next week! Please, please tell me it is April the first and the world hasn't actually gone mad?

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Dad just sent me this. Isn't it cute?


Thomas came in the other week with a brilliant book, called What Not to Name Your Baby, as you can see sporting a bitsy Adolf on the cover. Mum and I spent and afternoon giggling over why not to name your baby Luke or Fanny, Armani or China. (The synopsis on Amazon will give you a feel for it).
This week baby naming seems to have hit the headlines bigtime, with those cretin New Zealanders trying to land some poor baby unable to fulfill his life's vocation as judge or Prime Minister by saddling him with 4Real or Superman. This article made me laugh. Especially the people really want to called their kids Chlamydia or Influenza?



We've been DIYing like crazy for 4 weeks now so we can put the flat on the market so as to avoid paying 2 mortgages for the next few months. With only two sets of hands though and about 2 flatloads of furniture and books to move out before we could get down to it in earnest, I am beginning to fear that we may still be DIYing the flat when the mortgage on it is paid in full in 2030!


Maybe we should throw in the towel and just rent it out to some students before we kill ourselves through exhaustion! They'd probably like the level of mess...

Friday, August 10, 2007


Punctured Wheel
Originally uploaded by mholt
It isn't 4 months since the last time I had both a blow out and a slow puncture to pay for on my old Citroën, so I was less than happy when the tyre I inflated at ASDA last Saturday needed reinflating yesterday at TESCO and again this afternoon. Back to Kwik Fit and yes another nail through the bloody wheel, another £17-00 bill - poor Pudge will have to wait an extra fortnight for his new shoes!

Thursday, August 09, 2007


When I had the other guys they did 2D scans. They were really impressive to the parent-to-be but often left other friends and relatives scratching their heads and asking - which end is the head, dear? In the interim, however, 4D scanning has been invented. When Léon was a bump, it was new and only really heard of in the States, now, provided you go private, you can get a 4D scan, like this example opposite, even in Ingram street in Glasgow. I have to say, this is incredibly tempting, given the hospital's reluctance to scan further.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


If there's one thing I hate about Glasgow tenements, it has to be larder beetles. Years ago when I lived in Dowanhill, I had a few of these little buggers show up in my flat. I phoned pest control and they assured me what I needed, from my description, was carpet beetle killer - I found this an odd solution, given I had no carpets, only solid wood flooring but tried to nuke the nasty mini-cockroaches to no avail. I finally got out pest control, only to be told they were larder beetles.
Yuck! They eat anything, multiply like there's no tomorrow and crustily wander about your floor like they own the place. (Some people hate spiders, I hate crusty bugs).
When the little buggers showed up in Garnethill a month or two ago, I instantly recognized them. I am beginning to wonder if they are lazy creatures at heart. They made it to my first floor flat in Dowanhill, and Thomas's elevated ground floor one but not to my old third floor flat off Byres road - I imagine they were eating their way through the crumbs two floors below so never made it up the stairs.
Today we sought out a large bottle of 'crawling insect' spray in B&Q, so hopefully their crusty little days are numbered...already bodies seem to be appearing along the edge of the skirtings so it looks promising.
Anyway, they don't seem to like houses, thank heavens. So successful or not, their stay under my roof is limited.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Visiting Niels
Originally uploaded by viralbus
Now I have heard the expression, to be getting too big for your boots but I am not sure that you can say it the other way round - not unless your kid has a bit of a boot fetish and starts trying on oversized adult boots while visiting friends for dinner! ;-)

Sunday, August 05, 2007


I guess you have to be vaguely mad to stand in the pouring rain for 25 minutes barbecuing fresh sardines, just because they said 'best before today' but they tasted very nice with wild rice and courgette, even if we did have to reheat them indoors after the rain cooled down the barbecue too much. Maybe Danes are just hardier because the climate is different over there...


One of the best things about being a parent is rediscovering quite how exciting something new can be. Often we get up in the morning and drag ourselves to work, not even noticing the beautiful pink sunrise, or whatever. When little kids see something for the first time, they show you, in their way, just how exciting it can be. Here, Léon discovers how exciting car maintenance can be, even in Norwegian!

Thursday, August 02, 2007


I had a wee go at Thomas's recommended Simpson creator program last night to see if I could transform the guys into some of their favourite characters. I think they will be pleased when they see the result! (though I couldn't work out how to add a skateboard or take off their clothes so they may be just a tiny bit disappointed!)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Seagull taking off
Originally uploaded by
It seems I'm not the only seagull hater this week! Only yesterday I opened up the computer to rant about the airborne vermin, only to discover the pollen count was so high, I actually couldn't focus, so went to bed in a huff instead. Seagulls, I thought were things that lived at the sea? I mean they aren't called city-centregulls after all, are they? And when you google seagull images, they are all daytime shots, so why am I woken by packs of screeching seagulls every night around 2am at the moment? I guess they are midden-raking in the city centre and fighting over the booty, but I sure hope they are planning a wee holiday down the coast soon as I am having enough sleeping troubles at the moment between Bart and the hayfever!