Saturday, June 30, 2012

A one-off

I had this great rucksack for a decade or so when I was younger. I think I got it at about 18 or 19 to go back-packing round Europe and it didn't die until BA accidentally sent it from Frankfurt to Osaka when I was 30... the problem was Marcel and I were going to Heathrow, so when my rucksack made it back from its world tour full of nappies and baby food, it was in several pieces. I took that as a sign I was finally meant to grow up and buy a boring suitcase! They did offer to pay for a replacement but it was irreplaceable. It had been everywhere with me and as you can see - it turned into a chair so you could always hang about comfortably between trains, even when the waiting time was hours. When trains turned out to be too full I always had a seat. I often took the Strasbourg-Marseilles train on a Sunday when I lived it France and was asked by countless strange young men if I would allow them to take a photo of me on my rucksack. At first I took it as a compliment, till one night a guy actually asked if I'd mind getting off it so he could see it better on his photo! I wasn't half as interesting as my trusty luggage! Anyway, looking through some old photos last night brought it all back - those were such special times. I can't help think Ryanair with their specified case size have killed off quirky things like my old bag! I don't think today's students will have the same to look back on!

Chocolate hand prints

How can you tell when someone's been in your bed while you were out shopping? Do I have psychic powers, or is it maybe the chocolate hand prints?

Friday, June 29, 2012

More of the aftermath

One by one we've been dropping like flies the last few days with a vomiting bug. Last night was Anna's turn. She vomited all over Léon's Kissy bear (my 36 year old teddy) during the night. The bear was stuck in the wash (and surprisingly didn't disintegrate!) and she came down to our bed for the rest of night vomiting on and off all night. Finally after about twelve hours she came through, stopped throwing up and started to feel a little hungry. Quite matter of fact, and with no emotion other than a little surprise, she stated 'I think I am starting to get better.' I didn't think about what she was saying until she added. 'I thought I was going to die. When Pumpa got sick he died.' When I think about it, she got a 100% attendance certificate at nursery last week so she probably doesn't remember the last time she was sick. Wee pet.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Another anecdote from 'J'!

'J' has been round for another coffee - or rather glass of wine with mother. After her last story, I had to share this with you!

J's husband's parents are buried in a little cemetery in a village somewhere in England. J and her husband don't visit it very often. After a break of ten years they went to visit. They found the headstone was somewhat grubby and in need of a little tlc. J's husband knew a local undertaker so went round to offer him the job of taking care of it. He tried to explain where plot was. The undertaker wasn't 100% sure where he meant so asked him to show him. They jumped into his  hearse together to drive across town to the graveyard. There wasn't a seat for J so the undertaker suggested to J that she sit in the back as it was a quick trip. J has a wicked sense of humour. J thought it'd be fun to lie in the back of the hearse as if she was simply missing her coffin! That was disconcerting enough for passing cars, she said, but to cap it all she thought it might be fun at traffic lights to sit up slowly and wave to passers-by!

I guess you can choose to be dignified in your older years, or on the other hand, choose to have the time of your life! I think I'm going to have her round for coffee once a week!

Last day of primary

It's a sweet custom. I don't know when it started but they didn't do it in my day! I'd have been hung out to dry if I'd come home from school in that state! But nowadays the last day of primary school is spent having the kids and teachers in your school sign your t-shirt, then proudly walking through town in it (even in the rain!) Lots decided to have two signed and given Anna left nursery yesterday, she got to wear the other one to signify she too was moving onwards and upwards.

Anna was particularly thrilled to be asked to sign Lots's t-shirt too - it definitely made her feel quite grown-up. They were as thick as thieves today, the two of them.

It is hard though to watch them both move onto the next stage of their lives without their beloved Pumpa there to see them. I so hoped he'd hang on long enough to see Lots's dance last week. It would have given him an insight into the woman she will one day become. Life will be filled with these bitter-sweet moments from now on.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Blink and you'll miss it

If my children ask me for advice when they are older, things I would have ideally done differently, I think I would advise them to have their children younger than I did. Obviously, I couldn't have had Anna and Amaia any earlier because I had them within a couple of years of getting together with Thomas, but Marcel was born after André and I had been together 12 years, Charlotte, nearly 15. Time speeds up with age, as we all find out too late. I feel Marcel's primary years just about took a reasonable amount of time, but Lots's seem to have passed by in a flash. Didn't I take this photo (left) yesterday? And yet here we are graduating from Kirkhill already.

I was recently discussing this with Marcel - saying I wished I'd had my kids earlier. He asked 'Why, is it a bit tiring dealing with small kids and sleepless nights at 44?' Not at all, I'd do it again in a second but at 44, with a baby you are painfully aware of your own life-expectancy, of the chances you have of seeing your grandchildren grow up and that hurts in a way I could never have imagined in my early twenties.


I used to get whitebait a lot in the south of France, but I'd never seen it in Scotland till Saturday when I happened to be in Makro bulk-buying loo roll as you have to in this big a household - you know 64 for the price of 48! Anyway, a bag containing four adult-sized portions was only £1.75! And the whole thing took three minutes to cook! That made me a happy bunny!

Absolute genius!

Every so often you come across an idea so simple you wonder why it hasn't been done before, so genius you wish you'd had it first. I came across it in Tesco at the weekend. When you have four school-age kids all wearing grey socks as part of their uniform but in (UK) sizes small 9, small 12.5, adult 3 and adult 9, you become absolutely demented after a wash trying to pair socks and then work out whose are whose. I had even taken to only washing one child's clothes at a time as the only way of getting round this issue. Tesco - I love you! Tesco has started printing the size of its school socks on the inside of the elastic at the tops of the socks. Genius! I take my hat off to them! Praise the restoration of my sanity!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fiat Scudo

I'd quite like a Fiat Scudo. Unlike most people carriers with their 2-3-2 set-up, Scudos come in a 2-3-3 format, despite not being physically much bigger. We used one in Paris at Easter and it was just perfect for a family like ours. Strangely though, they don't seem to be on sale in the UK. You can buy a Scudo van easily but not a Scudo people carrier. How frustrating!

Vodka, in a sachet!

My mother has a close friend. Let's call her 'J'. J likes to travel a lot. J also likes vodka quite a lot. When I mentioned mum would be going on holiday this year using Ryanair, J rolled her eyes in her head, in a way many people do, in fact when the world's favourite budget airline is mentioned. She went on to offer mum some Ryanair advice. Given how often they've cropped up on my own rants, I fully expected J would warn mum about their hidden charges, their fines for checking in in the airport, their pedantic measuring and weighing of hand luggage and the likes but no, J had discovered a much worse crime. 'You have to order the wine, Ann!' she implored, 'Isn't that right Phyl?' I pointed out that I am always either flying towards picking up a hire car or back to pick up my own in the long-stay car park so don't buy alcohol on Ryanair. I thought J was going to pass out on the spot 'You fly without alcohol?' she said completely in disbelief! Anyway, not deterred J carried on. 'Ann, you just have to go for the wine - it comes in bottles, I once bought a vodka on a Ryanair flight and it came in a ... oh I can hardly bring myself to say it, it came in a sachet! And when I ripped the top, the pressure of holding it made it all pour down me and I had to spend the flight sucking it out of my t-shirt. Can you imagine? - oh the waste!' She sat shaking her head and finally muttered - 'And to cap it all, it contained less than a miniature!'

I have to say, J's view of the world always brings a smile to my face!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The dance

I had been apprehensive about the primary school leavers' dance for about two years! Lots doesn't really do feminine. To give her her due, she has come a mile from where she was two years ago, still in football strips and only talking to boys. She now only talks to girls and wears girlie jeans and pink hoodies - still a dress, shoes, hair and make-up was a bit further to go. When the topic of limos came up a year ago, I figured paying the ten quid to book a place, would at least guarantee Lots going, so I coughed up.

About six weeks ago I started thinking of how to get her into a dress. Obviously spending fifty (or more) quid on a dress for someone to never look at it again isn't ideal but luckily I have some wonderful friends with older daughters who offered to lend me several options for her. As they arrived one by one and I hung them in a row, she simply stared them out in horror. I was slowly expecting the meltdown but it never came. I asked her over and over to try them, getting nowhere until the weekend before the dance. Finally all except one turned up on my bed one night. I assumed a decision had been taken. I turned my attention to hair. I asked her again and again what she was planning to do and was met by a wall of 'I don't know'. With just hours to go, she pointed at a wavy haired model on Facebook and said 'that'll do'.

Not reckoning on her having three times as much hair as me meant it took from she got home from school on Thursday till ten minutes before we were due to leave to do her hair. ( Ninety minutes) So we were left with ten minutes to change into her dress and shoes, put on some make-up and leg it under a huge brolly in the torrential rain.

We managed to get to Sara's without any tears or snapping. 

I know a lot of pressure is put on the kids to grow up now and go off to high school but I definitely think that although Lots may be ready intellectually, I needn't worry she'll be fighting me about being allowed to go out partying wearing tight skirts and too much make-up for a wee while yet - phew! Amazingly, after looking at her hair like that, she concluded she preferred how it usually looks! 

She definitely has a way to go yet!

Anna on the other hand is a whole other kettle of fish. On finding the discarded dresses on my bed, she announced (at the ripe old age of 4) 'Don't bother sending that pink one back, I'll be needing it for my p7 dance (in 7 years!) and I'll also need tall, pointy shoes, sparkly earrings, a hairdresser's appointment, a tiara and lots and lots of of make-up!' - Gulp!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Scotch bonnets

I have to admit to having a wee problem with scotch bonnets. You see they are just so much more attractive that Asda or Tesco mixed medium strength chilis that whenever they have them I buy them and of course, once they are in my fridge, I can't stop myself from tossing one, two or more into my dinner. They just don't look that much more fierce than the normal ones! They are so shiny and I love their shapes. I have had to bulk-buy coconut milk and cream to calm down dinners I accidentally, out of love for their beauty, over-chili. I feel sorry for my poor babies!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pink Fiat 500s

Utrecht: Pink Fiats 500 by harry_nl
Utrecht: Pink Fiats 500, a photo by harry_nl on Flickr.

I was talking to a friend today about my ideal car. I was sure I had blogged it before, but it turns out I haven't! How cute is this wonderful photo I found on Flickr?!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Used car dealers

Whenever I've been looking for a used car, whether that is on Arnold Clark, Machargs or Evans Halshaw's websites, I am left puzzled as to why they don't cater for larger families. When you have one or two kids, you can choose any car you fancy, so you often want to put in a specific make or model that takes your fancy. When you have five kids, you want to see what they have with seven seats or more. I can fill in make, model, age, transmission, fuel type, number of doors, mileage, colour etc but I can't specify the number of seats, so I have to google makes and models to find out what has seven seats then look at each make separately. It must be a no-brainer to add a box where you simply tick six seats, seven seats etc.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Thinking of you today, and every day

Happy Father's Day, dad.

In life I loved you dearly
In death I love you still
In my heart you hold a place
That no one else can fill
You left behind my broken heart
And happy memories too
But I never wanted memories, dad
I only wanted you.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lots's new favourite hat!

Mum was throwing out some of her old clothes last week when she came across an old hat she'd bought in Turkey in the 90s. It was rather colourful to say the least and a rather odd shape too. I thought the little ones might like to use it when they were dressing up so put it in their clothes box.

Today Charlotte was helping Amaia put on a tutu when she came across it. She couldn't believe I hadn't given her first refusal. She took it and kept it on all day. She then asked me to take photos of her in it and finally suggested I colorize them as it was just perfect for that.

When bedtime finally came, she left saying she intended to sleep in it.

Charlotte can be painfully shy at times, not brave enough to stand out from the crowd in any way but just when you are least expecting it she goes to the other extreme. She is such a complex individual.

(I have to say the hat and long straight hair also reminded me of Barbra Streisand in What's up doc? - It has such a 70s look!)


I love this photo my brother took of my beautiful baby earlier this month. It really captures what a soft, gentle little soul she is. It also shows her fluffy, wispy baby hair and her lovely green/hazel eyes. She's my special little girl.

Happy boy

DSC_0159 by derek1971
DSC_0159, a photo by derek1971 on Flickr.

I tried over and over the other week to get a good photo of my nephew heading a ball. My brother must have thrown it at him fifty times before we actually got a decent shot! But he enjoyed the fun anyway.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A black and white world

I was discussing 70s wallpaper today with my niece in France. I remembered some of the horrors we'd had in my home as a childhood so went looking for a picture. Unfortunately, it being the 70s, all my photos were in black and white. I uploaded it anyway to show her the pattern. Anna and Léon noticed it on facebook and  it caused amusing questions from both... First came Anna's take on it 'Mummy, didn't they have coloured-in photos when you were little?' I thought this was an awfully sweet way to describe the concept of colour photography. Léon was a bit deeper... 'Mummy the bear in that photo is blue nowadays, I know because it is mine. So when this photo was taken was it still blue or was it grey back then? In fact was colour added to the world after these photos were taken or did it just not show up on photos back then but the world was actually colourful, even when you were wee?' Good questions, though I have to say they make me feel somewhat old!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dad's Peugeot

After a month of financial juggling and the selling of Thomas's car, we finally got together enough to buy dad's car yesterday.

The big kids marvelled at the leg room - at nearly 1m80, Marcel hasn't been the greatest fan of the Nissan Micra's back seat of late... The sound system is so good, I'm trying to work out where I can go unnecessarily, just because it is so much better than my ipod dock in the house. Léon was happy to show it off too at school this morning.

But Anna summed it up for all of us on the way home from nursery - I wish we still had the red car and our Pumpa, rather than a lovely new car and no Pumpa.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

In the bath

I love to capture language around this age, as they try to explain the world around them using their limited vocabulary but vast imagination.

I have to share tonight's classic with you. In the bath this evening Amaia farted. 'Wow Mummy, bum bubbles!' she announced proudly! I imagine farts will henceforth be known as bum bubbles in this house!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Oops - how was I to know?

So there I was pottering around the kitchen when the theme from Harry Potter began to play on my mobile.
Hello? I asked - it was marked 'withheld'. A half Indian, half Scottish accent replied 'I am looking to speak with Mr Phyllis Buchanan'. He sounded young - 15ish, he sounded like a Scottish kid trying to pretend to be foreign... So I replied 'Ok - are you Marcel's friend or Charlotte's?' He replied again 'I am looking to speak with Mr Phyllis Buchanan'. I replied 'Sure you are, I don't have time for this!' and hung up. It rang again. The same voice replied 'This is Fred again, from ebay support!' 'Fred?' I replied 'Gimme a break, goodbye Fred!' 

I came back to my computer. Five minutes later an email message popped up in my inbox from 'Fred' at ebay customer support!

OMG! I am embarrassed!

Saturday, June 09, 2012

John Travolta?

I was taking photos of Amaia the other day when she suddenly started posing and acting cute. I couldn't help but remember the old John Travola Saturday Night Fever Poster when she struck this pose!

Friday, June 08, 2012


I couldn't have put it better myself...

I think dad would have liked this.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Anna and her Pumpa

I'm not sure if having kids makes the aftermath of a death easier or harder...

I've spent the last few days helping mum bag up dad's clothes and bringing them here to show Thomas and Marcel before packing them off. I've just walked into the living room in time to see Anna hugging a black bin bag with her head almost inside casually announcing - This smells lovely mummy - it's all Pumpa-y!


Ray Bradbury

I see Ray Bradbury has died at the age of 91.

I have had a curious love-hate relationship with Ray Bradbury since 3rd year at high school.

I was a late starter really in English - never really enjoying the subject until high school. I was just coming around to it in 3rd year, despite a rather fierce 6 foot tall English teacher who frightened me half to death. She was the much-feared Mrs Findlay, I can still hear her today yelling at us "That's Findlay with a 'D'!" As if we'd ever forget! She was a great hater of nail varnish and I remember the girls, and sometimes even the boys daring each other to come in wearing paler shades in an attempt to get through a whole 40 minute period without being dragged physically into her cupboard to have it removed with the nail varnish remover she kept in there!

Anyway, enough about Mrs Findlay's hatred of nail varnish, and back to Ray Bradbury... We had been asked to write a short essay on a subject of our choice. I wrote mine, re-wrote it and was feeling very pleased with myself. I thought I had finally got the hang of essay-writing. I handed it in and waited smugly for a nice fat 'A' on the paper when it was returned. A week later she threw it at me and spat 'I've given this a zero because I refuse to mark plagiarized work!'  I hadn't the foggiest idea what she was talking about. I wanted to cry. What have I plagiarized? I asked. This is almost a verbatim copy of Ray Bradbury's Pedestrian and well you know it girl! she accused. I had never heard of Ray Bradbury! I had never read the Pedestrian and I felt aggrieved that she was accusing me. I felt it was somehow Ray Bradbury's fault for stealing my idea and causing me public humiliation and I couldn't quite work out who I hated more - Ray Bradbury or Mrs Findlay!

Anyway, I should probably finally give up the grudge and allow myself to read The Pedestrian at long last!

Through four-year-old eyes

Tonight the kids and I went up to help mum bag up a lot of dad's clothes and shoes for charity. I can't say it's the easiest thing I've ever been involved in, but the effect on Anna was quite curious...

In a fairly carefree manner she folded many of his shirts and t-shirts and put them into black bags as mum held them open. (I had no idea my dad had more clothes than you can buy in Silverburn :-\) Meanwhile, downstairs, Marcel had put all of his shoes in pairs across the hall floor. He was the only one tall enough to reach the shelf he kept his shoes on. I knew dad was a shoe lover so was less surprised to find more than twenty pairs up there. Anna, again, didn't seem overly worried.

But as we got into the car to leave, she had a complete meltdown, sobbing hysterically all the way home. When I had finally hugged her calm again, she explained: Pumpa loved shoes. He told me he loved my red shoes when I got them at Xmas. I got new sandals last week and if he was alive he'd probably love them too but he died and now he can't see my sandals or tell me how beautiful they are. And there's no way he'll ever come back to life to see my sandals and that's not fair because he'd like my sandals!

Poor baby.

(Addendum: This morning she'd obviously been mulling it over still as she woke up sobbing that he didn't get to see her new flip flops either :-( )

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Caramel pecan cheesecake

How is a girl ever meant to lose any weight when living with a guy whose ambition is to make the perfect cheesecake, and who keeps experimenting and deciding it just isn't good enough!?

Monday, June 04, 2012

The Jubilee

I've been wanting to blog my opinion of the weekend's royal shenanigans but I see Polly seems to have read my thoughts in every detail and written them down already. So I'll save my time and simply point you in that direction.

I presume that unless she shuffles off her mortal coil any time soon, we'll have to put up with this every five or ten years from now on - God help us if she lives as long as her mother.


Friday, June 01, 2012

Designer wear

I know I have ranted till I am blue in the face about designer labels - but I still don't get them. Maybe it's my Scottish blood but why would anyone pay ten times the price for a label?

I was out shopping today separately (because of football commitments) with my oldest two kids. Marcel the designer man, and Lots the sensible. For £27 Lots bought herself a pair of jeans, three t-shirts, a jumper, five pairs of pants and five pairs of socks. She was extremely happy and I dropped her at the park with a friend then picked Marcel up. He was given money and told to buy himself clothes too. He first tried Bank, the Jack&Jones, Foot Asylum and then stood longingly outside Schuh for a while but concluded that he could not actually afford even a pair of shoes!

While he looked more and more depressed I looked into Schuh's window to get an idea of the price range inside. I noticed a pair of rubber flipflops - not unlike the ones Marcel is wearing in this holiday photo from last summer - except I bought his in ASDA on the eve of our departure for Tuscany at £2.50 and these ones in Schuh seemed to cost £35! I must be missing a decimal place, surely? Nope - on closer inspection there was a tiny disc on the strap marked UGG. It was less than 50mm across!

I can see the time has come again to go through my two hour rant to Marcel about designer labels - I know it will fall on deaf ears, but I can try yet again (with Charlotte giggling on the sidelines!)