Friday, April 29, 2011


On Monday Marcel received a phone call from the shop across the road. He had applied for a paper round there a few months back. He was to start Wednesday as the student who had been doing it for the last three years wanted the summer off before going to uni. He agreed to take Marcel out on Wednesday and show him the route. Between them they managed it in just 20 minutes on Wednesday morning and Marcel positively enjoyed the early morning sunshine.

This morning he went out to work at 6-30am, saying he'd return at 7 as he only had 13 papers to deliver. However at 7 there was no sign of Marcel.

Finally he ran in at 8, in a panic. He'd delivered 12 papers but had been walking round in circles for over an hour not finding one street on his delivery round and his phone was out of credit so he couldn't google-map it.

He rushed into the shower, wolfed brekkie in one gulp, made his lunch and googled the missing address which turned out to be at the far end of Greenfarm estate. At 8-30 I threw him and Léon in the car (Charlotte had left on her bike) and drove him round. All the while he was worrying about how it would reflect on him delivering one paper ninety minutes late on his first day, muttering the guy from the paper shop would want to fire him if the customer had complained about him.

As we turned into the street and the garage was half open and a woman was fussing about in the porch of the house getting ready... so I advised him - you can't just deliver it, you need to apologize, tell her it's your first day and promise to be on time tomorrow, etc.

As he walked up the path, her wee yappy dog launched itself at Marcel barking like mad, so she came rushing out to drag the dog off him. They were both looking down at it. And I was in the car watching them. When they both stood up, smiles broke out across their faces and she started patting Marcel on the arm in a friendly manner! I figured things weren't too bad in that case, but was surprised when he walked back to the car shaking his head, looking dumbfounded and muttering a few expletives!

I asked what she'd said. It wasn't what she'd said that had provoked his reaction, it was who she was! If you are going to screw up on your first morning, who better to choose than your (French) French teacher who thinks the sun shines out of your backside anyway! What are the chances - a town with 23000 inhabitants, thirteen papers to deliver and he manages to get lost delivering to his teacher! Hoachy little bugger!


The week started with Léon and Anna blissfully unaware of that wedding. The only concession we have made to it is the 'I'm not a Royal Wedding Mug' mug I bought Thomas for his Christmas last year. Midweek Léon found out about it when he mentioned something he was looking forward to doing at school on Friday and I had to inform him school was closed. He asked why so I explained the Queen had given him the day off so he could watch the Prince's wedding on TV, to which he replied, disgruntled, that he'd much rather watch Octonauts. After today at school and nursery, however, they had both been as indoctrinated as is possible north of the border and infused with a vaguely puzzled scepticism as they came back in home-made crowns waving flags they'd been colouring in. They have now both told me they are meant to watch that wedding. I may allow them to watch three minutes either side of the You may kiss the bride - more than that would bore them anyway! I can't help but think the powers that be did exactly the wrong thing in Scotland by making it a public holiday if they actually wanted to stir up some interest here. Thinking back to my own childhood, I realized the only royal wedding I have ever watched was that of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips in November 1973. This was exactly because it was not a holiday and the entire school was forced to sit through the televised coverage in the audiovisual room. I remember the very shade of the carpet as I lay on it at just five staring into it for what seemed like hours! I particularly remember the contrast between the bright green of the carpet and the black and white of the TV we were all huddled around! I have managed to avoid all royal weddings since. By giving us all a day off we'll nip down the coast in the sun dragging our kids behind us, but if they'd been at school they'd all have been subjected to the Wills and Kate circus. This would have potentially created at least a few people interested in London's Royal Family... not that I'm complaining, of course!

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Given the weather has been stunning for close to three weeks I don't want to be a real stick in the mud so I'll just quickly list a few things that have annoyed me this week without over-ranting, just this once!

Rant One: Tesco is pissing me off - signs up everywhere on their garage forecourt telling me how much time I'll save if I pay at the pump. I want to pay at the pump but given they are charging £139.9 a litre and when you stick your credit card in the pump it limits you to £99, how exactly am I meant to fill up my 80 litre car? Maybe I am meant to put in 70 litres and then go inside to pay for the last ten... either bring down the price or update your bloody pumps Tesco (preferably the former!)

Rant Two: Mickey mouse phonetics... when you have spent all your best years working in dictionaries, you find it hard to believe IPA phonetics aren't on the primary school syllabus. And I won't even comment on their attempt at French. This current Stella ad makes me scream every time I drive past it. Grrrr!

And while I am being pedantic... would someone please fire the person who is in charge of the messages on the motorway gantries between Newton Mearns and Glasgow. Mr "Fuller Cars, Less Queues" himself... gimme strength!

Ok, back to the nice weather now.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I have been a flickr member for five years. On average my photos get five or ten views each, half of those are probably by my parents. Of course if I upload a photo where I am breastfeeding it can rack up a few thousand over the next year or two but this photo astounded me. Within about 9 hours of it going up, it had accumulated 1243 views, and there isn't a hint of naked flesh! Is Glencoe really that popular?


We planted some new tulips in the garden last autumn - they are very pretty, except they vaguely remind me of the English flag... If enough of them come up, I guess I could pick a bouquet and give them to my dad ;-)


We spent the whole day tidying out the garage and reclaiming the floor space thanks to a new shelving unit from IKEA. Afterwards Thomas put little labels all over the the place to make sure everything was tidied up in the correct place. Given there was one Bopster-sized space left, Thomas stuck on an Amaia label and tidied her up. She was very pleased with her own special place.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Anna has taught herself how to write her name. It isn't bad for a three year old, but the sweetest thing is listening in when she writes it. She whispers to herself as she does it: There's a house, then two bridges and a mouse on the end, don't forget the tail!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011



For the second time in a week Anna's sweet view of life has made me smile.
I noticed a few of my friends had posted this humorous video about the forthcoming royal wedding to facebook so clicked on it to see what it was. Anna was sitting beside me when I did. When the William lookalike came on, she asked naively 'What's that man doing?' I replied that he was getting married. She looked at me as if I was completely stupid and stated quite certain of her facts because she was sure she had never seen a man in a wedding dress: 'Don't be silly! Men don't get married! Only ladies get married!' Patently she doesn't remember being at her own father's wedding just over two years ago, when apparently I was the only one who got married!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


We like to drop into Calderglen Country Park once or twice a month during summer time. It isn't far, has a nice play park, café and a few little animals and birds. Most of all it is free of charge... or should I say was. Last Sunday Léon had a party near there so we promised to take Anna, Amaia and Charlotte up to see the meerkats while he was in the softplay. We arrived to find there was now a wall around the pretty gardens and a person at a desk charging each adult £1-10 to get in. The charge is reasonable I guess compared to some places, and unlike many that are completely unaffordable for large families, they have not (yet) gone down the route of charging every child, but it just seemed pointless to pay for only fifteen minutes, as that was how long we had before picking up Léon, so we had to leave with a rather disappointed group of girls. I suppose we'll be seeing more and more of these new types of charges as the cuts bite.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Every so often one of the kids - usually but not exclusively the little ones - comes out with something that has you on the floor laughing. Anna got top prize for that on Saturday. We had been on a family holiday with my parents, my brother and his wife and my two nephews, so there were thirteen of us in total. We were leaving early on Saturday so decided to have fish suppers on Friday to limit dishes and tidying. On Saturday morning the eight adults/adolescents were all trying to get up and showered and out before 10am. That meant of course that the bathrooms, which contained the toilets, were almost constantly occupied from 8am onwards. Anna awoke at 8-30 and went to the bathroom next to her bedroom. Amanda was showering. As little girls often do she stood holding her vagina exclaiming she needed in, but of course Amanda couldn't hear her for the running water. Exasperated and trying to get her point across she yelled through the bathroom door - I need into the bathroom Amanda - my vagina's all full of fish and chips!

Friday, April 08, 2011


Thomas and I have a strangely different approach to the end of winter. Neither of us are great fans of winter and the cold and wet. As the cold finally starts to lift and the blossom appears in the garden, Thomas visibly lifts in spirit and oozes calm and serenity at his new-found spring paradise. I get agitated. My feet become itchy. Suddenly, seeing the beautiful weather I am reminded of how much more beautiful the rest of the year is on mainland Europe and I want to jump in the car, drive South and move into a house by a river in a meadow such as this house in Doubs in France. Thomas thinks I am odd. He finds it hard to imagine that the nicest days are those that make me want to emigrate.


Though I am not a fan, I have read more than my fair share of Noddy books to my kids over the years. For some reason the little buggers actually seem to enjoy stories about this nauseating little creature. As far as I am aware, I have read them quite clearly, whether in English or in French, so I am more than puzzled that each of my kids in turn has assumed independently (given there are years between each kids' interest in Noddy) that Noddy is female! So far Charlotte, Léon and Anna have all argued with me that Noddy is a girl and even after opening at a random page and reading 'He drove his little car round Toy town' or similar, they still remain unconvinced. I am sure that when I saw Noddy books as a child, I was in no doubt as to his gender, though he didn't look much different to today. Does anyone else have this issue?


So how did I get on with my to-do list?

  1. finish painting the hall YES
  2. fix, plaster and paint the hall ceiling YES
  3. remove all dandelions from the lawn YES - give or take...
  4. tidy every room EMMMM - maybe tomorrow
  5. put coat hooks in the upstairs cupboard Hooks are on the floor ready to be installed - does that count?
  6. put light in upstairs cupboard NO
  7. clear out garage and take rubbish to the dump NO
  8. dye old blue shoes navy YES
  9. dye purple coat in attempt to save it YES
  10. put up hall and kitchen blinds NOT EVEN CLOSE :-(
  11. chisel off broken tiles on outside staircase front and back NO
  12. paint front of house white NO
I also fitted in making mum Mother's day dinner, making dad a birthday cake and visiting him and mum twice and I spent a whole day weeding too. I guess that is probably better than expected.


You may remember the saga of my Italian coat... the one that faded to oblivion because I left it on my coat stand the winter I was pregnant with Amaia. Ever since, I have been staring at it considering binning it but not being able to bring myself to. Having exhausted all possible professional colouring services, I had been toying with trying to dye it myself but the label did say dry-clean only.
This week I had finally had enough - I was going to bin it anyway, so if I failed all I would have lost was £10 of dye. I ordered the nearest colour I could find, a somewhat darker shade of purple, and threw it in the washing machine along with a couple of the girls' t-shirts and trousers. After two hours I opened up. The t-shirts and trousers were a beautiful dark purple, but the coat had actually faded a little - the dye simply hadn't taken at all. It didn't seem to have shrunk any, so I was back to square one. I took it out and hung it on a hanger to dry while I thought up a plan B.
As it dried though, it suddenly became apparent that the coat had never been colourfast and the rest of the coat had now faded to exactly the same shade as the strip that had faded in the light... my coat was the same shade all over! Though it is one or two tones lighter than the original model I now have a completely wearable pinkish purple coat. I can't believe a coat that originally had a £400 label on it was so poorly dyed... But I am more than happy it was! Bloody genius! I am one happy bunny!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011


Forty eight hours after discovering his English heritage, Dad celebrated his birthday in suitable style. I think he's making a real effort to adjust here! ;-)

Monday, April 04, 2011


It's been an odd 24 hours.
For the first 43 years and 2 months of my life my dad told me I was Scottish and voted Scottish Nationalist. He hung about in his kilt shunning all things English, ridiculing cricket, the English football team, the monarchy, the union Jack and everything else. He often ranted openly that we should dig a moat along the border and the likes. It was all in the friendliest manner of course, his best friend being an Englishman who takes a weekly ribbing from him at golf as dad challenges him on Thursdays to a match between 'auld enemies' that he invariably wins.
Then a week ago Thomas started researching records of births, deaths and marriages to fill out our family tree. He was surprised to hit a dead end already at my grandfather William Buchanan (see above photo: at the back), dad's dad. Although we knew his mother's name Mary Hannah Potter - she didn't seem to exist in any records. Still as you can see here in this photo from 1926 my granda and his mum Mary Hannah clearly existed... But Mary died two years before dad was born so he didn't remember anything about her.
Almost jokingly I suggested Potter didn't sound very Scottish and maybe he ought to check English records. An hour later my father not only had an English Granny, Great Granny and Great Grandpa but also an English Uncle James, Uncle Reuben, Auntie Alice, Auntie Florence, Auntie Amy and an Aunt Rhoda and Uncle Joseph born after his 100% English family moved from Manchester to Scotland! If anyone in the family was to turn out English, dad had to be the candidate with the most scope for comedy... Mum is joking about divorce, Derek is commiserating that dad found out too late to play for the English national football team, Thomas is asking if he wants him to switch on the cricket... the jokes haven't stopped all day! It is hard to imagine my granda never mentioned to his own son that his mother and all her family were English, but there you go!
As we dropped by today to laugh out loud at dad and see his reaction to the shame of it all, things couldn't have been timed better. After just twenty minutes, who should drop by completely by chance other than dad's English best mate Steve - I thought he was going to need resuscitating when he was told, given dad has told him English jokes on a weekly basis since they first met when I was 8! When I left, suggestions were being made that dad should perhaps be considering throwing a street party for the royal wedding later this month!
This one is going to go on and on, I can tell!

Sunday, April 03, 2011


After last Thursday's experiment I decided to extract all my kids eyes. I have to conclude that while Charlotte's are green with a hint of yellow, Marcel's are almost orange with a hint of green, Anna has a pale green and brown right eye but brown and grey left one and little Léon's are blue with yellow blobs! What a beautifully unique (if freaky) bunch of kids I've managed to create! Check them out on largest size if you don't believe me!

Friday, April 01, 2011


Three times a year my three biggies go off to their father's for a holiday. Given I absolutely dread it, I find I spend the days leading up to it coming up with a mental list of chores to occupy all my free time. Today I started to write it down while awaiting the ominous tooting at the end of my path - the man still won't ring my doorbell five years on...
So here we go:
  1. finish painting the hall
  2. fix, plaster and paint the hall ceiling
  3. remove all dandelions from the lawn
  4. tidy every room
  5. put coat hooks in the upstairs cupboard
  6. put light in upstairs cupboard
  7. clear out garage and take rubbish to the dump
  8. dye old blue shoes navy
  9. dye purple coat in attempt to save it
  10. put up hall and kitchen blinds
  11. chisel off broken tiles on outside staircase front and back
  12. paint front of house white
Every year of course when they return after one week away I am utterly dumbfounded that I have not completed my list of chores. I often forget you see that what Thomas and I both refer to as our 'week off' is actually what average couples consider a normal busy week - ie only having one three year old and one baby to look after while working full and part time!
How far will I get this time?