Thursday, January 28, 2016

My caring little fraudster

I was at the optician today with my mum. She and the kids go every January for new specs. Every other year I join them for new reading glasses but as an adult (as opposed to an under-16 or over 65), I only get a free sight test every second year, so I don't bother paying for one unless I feel my prescription has changed noticeably. While mum was having her eyes tested, I played around with the glasses, deciding what I'd buy if I won the lottery (which I don't play) at the weekend. My prescription feels ok, but my glasses are loose and annoying and constantly falling on the ground when I bend over. To be honest, they're driving me batty at the moment... So, I found a lovely blue pair, tried them and felt how nice and tight they were, then put them back. When I picked Léon up from school I was recounting my afternoon to him. 'Would you really like them mum?' he asked. I told them it was fine, I could live with my current ones. But he's a sweet boy, so he suggested 'They always do two for the price of one in that shop so instead of me getting a spare pair, or sunglasses this year, I'll pretend I want the blue ones (even if they are meant for ladies!) and order them as my spares, then when we get home, I'll give them to you! They'll never know!' I can see one wee flaw, given they'd make up both sets of his glasses the same - he needs +5.00, as he's really long-sighted, but my reading glasses are sitting around +1.50. I'm not sure his kind-hearted, if fraudulent little escapade is really going to help either of us! But he has a good heart, the wee soul.

A missed opportunity, a regret

When I divorced my first husband, my biggest regret was losing his family. Old-fashioned, more rural and from an earlier generation, there was to be no modern 'staying in touch with the ex-inlaws' as enjoyed by everyone else I knew who'd divorced. Of course, the children continued to visit them all for the first six years but I no longer existed. I was a non-person - she who should not be mentioned! Nevertheless, I sent my ex-mother-in-law a photo of the kids every year on her birthday and although it was never acknowledged, my kids reported back that it had appeared on her wall. Over the years I found my brother-in-law, his wife and my three nieces again and I now talk to them often. I've watched over the years as each of my nieces has added two more children to the family. It was easy to talk to them as they were online. My old mother-in-law was in her 70s and had never used a computer so we never spoke again. I told my niece, her granddaughter, about my life and she spent afternoons telling my old mother-in-law about me, showing her photos of my kids and so on. I always hoped that one day I'd see her again. But time was not on my side and when my brother-in-law texted me at 2am last Saturday, that opportunity slipped away, forever. I know why she felt she had to side with him, even although there never needed to be sides between her and us, but I hope she also knew we still loved her. From my niece's accounts of her meetings with her, I believe she did.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Fusion cuisine

I spied this in Asda the other night while I was shopping for culinary items to celebrate what the kids fondly refer to as 'the night daddy talks to a haggis'.

I love the inclusive way Scots are open to adapting their national dish to move with the times!

Creamola Foam

Growing up, I loved Creamola Foam. We went to visit my gran on Friday evenings and the first thing we'd do was check what flavour she had in stock each week. A minimum of one was a requirement, two was a luxury! In the early days I remember only lemon and raspberry, but orange became a favourite once we discovered it. I never really took to the 'cola' variety though. The last evidence I have for its existence is a photo from a 1990 camping trip with my ex husband, and two of my uni friends.

It made me smile when I came across this ebay entry the other day. I wish I'd stocked up back then!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Birthday dinner

Like all six-year-olds-to-be Amaia had fixed plans and ideas for her birthday. For about ten months she'd been telling me which kids she wanted to invite round for cake, and her gift ideas came in around Xmas. But unlike most children her age, she seems to have quite grown-up tastes too. When asked what she'd like for dinner on her birthday we didn't get a request for a trip to the local Mcdonalds for Happy Meal, or even a Pizza Express offering. She wasn't content with a homemade kiddie favourite such as mac and cheese or burger and chips. Nope, she asked for rabbit stuffed with pancetta, rosemary, sage, wild fennel and garlic, rubbed with olive oil and oven baked in white wine!!! It's a meal she's only had once before when she was four at her grandparents' Italian friends' house in Tuscany, but it definitely impressed her. Fortunately, we managed to track down two bunnies in Makro and we managed to get the recipe from Enzo and Franco. So when it was served up on Monday evening she was very impressed. So impressed in fact, she told us that she'd have one of the rabbits and the rest of us (including granny) could share the other!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


On the Sunday before uni began, I drove my eighteen year old son to Edinburgh to move into university halls. He was upbeat and excited but also a little apprehensive and quiet for him. He would never have admitted it at the time but mums know their boys. Once he'd checked in, he got his key and went to his third floor room. He dumped his stuff and sat down. Thomas and I asked if we could have a wee look in the kitchen too. That was the first time his mask dropped. The usually enthusiastic boy dragged his feet and took about ten minutes to pluck up the courage to walk to the other side of the flat and enter the kitchen. Of course, he was psyching himself up for a possible encounter with an unknown flatmate or two for the first time - a daunting prospect even without mum and stepdad in tow! I remember it well from my own student halls days in Germany and Italy. You dart into your room and sit silently trying to find the courage to visit the communal areas! But he did it. We walked into the kitchen and sitting there was one other boy, about the same age. He was motionless and reserved at the breakfast bar. His shoulder-length was hair tied back and he lifted his eyes but not his head as he nodded silently to us. We left the two shy and quiet boys behind without a chat.

That was four months ago.

On Saturday, not Sunday this time, Marcel decided it was time to go home. As we drove into his street in the dark, our tiny four seater bursting at the seams with food and washing, he jumped out and shouted into the darkness 'Tony, my bro!' I hadn't seen anyone in the street but he'd noticed a figure in the darkness. A young man came running towards Marcel, hand outstretched, before grabbing him in a bearhug. He talked ten to the dozen in a vaguely American-sounding accent about his holiday 'back home in Macau', his hair loose and wild as he gesticulated excitedly. He laughed about their new flatmate who'd moved in since he returned three days earlier and his OCD (and more than welcome) cleaning habits! He helped us empty my car and three trips up and down the stairs later, I felt it was time to leave as the boys discussed getting a pizza for dinner. I struggled to recognize the quiet motionless boy from the breakfast bar in September and my quiet son and they spoke warmly, sparkling with the exuberance of youth. Both Marcel and his flatmate Anton had visibly transformed and grown up since their first meeting. I suddenly wished I was that age again, just for a moment. They looked so full of life, and it was truly beautiful to see. I wish I could have caught that moment on film, rather than just in my head. It's a special time in life.

Suddenly Charles Aznavour sprang to mind - Il faut boire jusqu'à l'ivresse, sa jeunesse!