Monday Miscellany: Birthdays, Flu Jabs, Haircuts and Sarah’s Christmas Trees

Happy Monday!

Well last week was an easy work week (1.5 days at work) and this week is going the same way (3 days in the office but one Christmas lunch..), I’m going to a funeral on Thursday and Ma and I have the boys on Friday, so busy but I am greatly looking forward to not having to get up in the dark. About this time of year my natural ‘get out of bed time’ is about 8am so getting up at 6am is like waking up in the middle of the night!Last week, was a good week and I think I’m feeling the benefit because even though I had quite the reaction to my flu jab and it was a busy weekend, it’s the first time in ages that I feel I had rest and prep time. I got a haircut, we had a good morning on the allotment, I did a load of housework (cleaned the oven AND hoovered!), I got a walk with Sarah and Fred (and she has ALL the Christmas trees up – pictures in this post!) and I’m a little bit more ready for Christmas. I also made a things to do before Christmas list so am feeling much less miserable and sharper and ready for the week. So plans for this week are pretty simple, work, home, yoga, sleep and do all of them well. What are your plans?


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Sunday Music: Baby It’s Cold Outside – Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors

More Christmas music. I love this song. I don’t want to have a conversation about it being  ‘rapey’ because I’ve always read it as the girl wanting to stay and wanting to be persuaded, so if you don’t like it, don’t listen to it.

I do like it and I like this version from what is probably my favourite Christmas music album…

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Recommendations: Rootbeer

The first McDonalds opened in the UK in 1974, the one in Fulham opened sometime in the 70’s and as far I was concerned the best thing about it was the root beer, I was very upset in 1993 when they stopped selling it. I don’t eat much McDonald’s nowadays but you can bet if they re-introduced root beer that I would be there like a shot.

I know that some people think it tastes like mouthwash, but I find it delicious and it’s my favourite soft drink. Due to some EU legislation about preservatives, most root beer sold in the States can’t be imported. It was hard enough to get hold of before so nowadays, I make do with the Soda Folk root beer when I can get it and Virgil’s which is sold in Tesco’s US food section. It’s ridiculously expensive (about the same price as a bottle of beer) so it’s an occasional treat but a lovely one.

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Friday Links: Never mind the Brexit

Happy Friday! So I’ve not been around much this week due to Ma’s birthday fun but the news is all brexit, all the time with a vote of May’s deal on Tuesday. Meanwhile, there are more homeless on the streets, Universal Credit is punishing people for being poor and needing help, councils are waiting to hear about their central government settlement (my own council is looking at a 64% cut in central government spending), the NHS is under pressure, teachers are at breaking point, pretty much nothing is being done about the housing crisis and the inequality gap is widening. Let’s talk about the backstop though….

As you can see, I’m frustrated with politics and politicians. I’m for abandoning Article 50 and staying in Europe, however, I do understand the problem that brexit causes. Honestly, however we leave Europe is not going to make anyone happy. It’s this deal or no deal. So Brexiteers need to decide. Either way all this has really improved is that politics in this country is broken. Maybe not as broken as in Italy, the US and Brazil but it’s still broken….

Anyway, rant over, here are this week’s links….

My name is Nish Kumar – so please stop calling me Nish Patel

Home is a state of mind. You don’t need walls. I heard about this last week, in the middle of the night on the World Service. I had a number of reactions to it, mostly along the lines of ‘what the bloody hell’. For me it’s a bit like the gap year students that go to the third world for a spiritual experience, I just feel that this is romantic and ridiculous. On the verge of being made homeless, I wouldn’t be taking a two year walk, I’d be doing as much as I could not to be homeless because you do need walls. And most people don’t get offered flats by kindly strangers and I would hate for people to think that this is the fate of all homeless people. Or is it that this is the acceptable face of homelessness? I don’t know, something about it puts my hackles up and I’m probably being unreasonable.

Pink terror: how sweet gins muscled in on the artisan market. I made rhubarb, plum and blackberry gin this year but they are liqueurs and not the same as proper gin. If you tell me that your favourite gin is pink Gordons, I will judge you. The Slingsby Rhubarb Gin is about the only one of these I find acceptable!

Don’t go to bed yet – too much sleep is worse than not enough

Take back control – could self-sufficiency be the answer to a no-deal Brexit?. I love my plot and I would happily have another half but overall I agree that self-sufficiency isn’t the answer or doable but yes there is something powerful in growing and making some of your food. The days I feel most smug are generally when I have toast and jam from bread I’ve baked and jam I’ve made from fruit I’ve grown. It’s useful to understand the effort involved.


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Allotment Adventures: We did nothing

We had plans for Saturday but it was raining and I felt ill and so we did nothing. I went round with compost and coffee and to have a quick look but that was it!

The borage is still in flower and I have tulips and snowdrops making their way up. No sign of the garlic or the broad beans though

One of the rhubarbs is also trying to pop up too….It’s all a bit autumn-ish and bedraggled and in dire need of weeding…The lavender is still alive though..

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Given the fuss we make about birthdays, I have been asked several times whether Ben and I are throwing a party for Ma’s 70th. We are not. I did ask her but she didn’t what one, she wanted to go to lunch at Hawksmoor with the adults of the family (Ben, Laura and me) so that’s what we are doing.

I could write lots of lovely things about Ma here (and as she reads this, she will be asking why the hell I’m not doing that!) but some things are not for sharing or become tired with repetition. What doesn’t become tired is how lucky we are to have her and her unapologetic cruel bracing and supportive parenting style (family in joke, can you guess which of us thinks which?)

Ma has never been and isn’t now a perfect parent, but she is the best parent for us. She’s never stopped caring and supporting us as much as she can while being very clear that she expects us to get on with it because that is what her children do.

Ben is still the only grown man I know that speaks to his mum a couple of times a week and I speak to her almost every day. The irony is that Ma has never been a the kind of parent that keeps us close, she never makes a fuss about us missing Christmas or birthdays or Mother’s Day, she just celebrates with us at another time. There is no passive aggressive guilting in our family. If we do something she doesn’t like we know about it and then we move on and vice versa. She hates sulkers.


She opened whole worlds to us when we were little, she used to take us around London because she wanted to show us the things she loved, she encouraged us to go away on PGL holidays and summer camps and times with our aunt. There were the books she bought us (ok I am more of a bookworm than Ben) and she taught us to find out things for ourselves. My grandmother died when Ma was 14, so to a certain extent, she didn’t have a model for being the mother of teenagers or adults. The same applied to being a mother-in-law because she didn’t have one of those either, I don’t know what it’s like marrying into our family but I know that Ma loves Laura loads and possibly more than she loves Ben and me!

Grandma is the other role she’s sort of making up, she does babysitting, not childcare (which is my job) Oli went through a phase of getting Grandma to chase him when he was little and she was his first choice in the ‘rescue’ game. The boys think of her as a very useful playmate, Oli and Ma like to play board games and eat sweets together. It’s lovely because Ol has just got to that really interesting phase that Ma really enjoys.  J tells me off if I call her Ma and not Grandma and likes to take her water bottle away because it’s big and blue and therefore should be his!

We are the family, in the way we are because of Mum. The older I get the more I realise what an achievement that is…

Happy birthday Ma, to quote your grandson, only “30 years away from 100”….


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Monday Miscellany: Emotional

Not going to lie, last week was tough. The last week of November is tricky for me generally as the SAD kicks in, it was Stef’s anniversary on Thursday (14 years later, it doesn’t pack the same emotional punch as it did but it’s still not my favourite day of the year). In addition, I had raging PMT, went to a funeral, found out a trip to the Southampton office was cancelled because of train problems (is there anything more sucky than being up hours before you normally are and discovering that you didn’t have to be awake?), there was also a doctor’s visit, an allotment work day, babysitting and a couple of work things that were testing my patience.All that to say that I got through it without too much crying and no losing my temper, which I consider to be a tiny miracle and I’ll take them where I can find them. We are now out of November and into December, nearly halfway through winter. I have changed all the music on my phone to Christmas music. I did this for the first time in 2016, after reading this and while I don’t take it to those extremes, it was very useful in helping me cheer the hell up. I did it again last year and boom, a new tradition is born….

Although I sanction Christmas music all through December, the tree and decorations won’t go up until Christmas Eve, it is still Advent (I have two calendars this year) and can’t be Christmas until after Ma has her birthday which is tomorrow. As it family tradition, I have a good chunk, well three days off work to help her celebrate.

So my plans for this week are to celebrate Ma’s birthday, work as little as possible and celebrate Jane’s birthday and have my haircut on Friday. Other than that it’s Grace on Saturday and maybe a walk with Sarah and Fred.


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