Tag Archives: London

Drops in the desert and depression awareness week *waves pom-poms*

I really, really must break my blogging drought.

I’d like to break it with something pithy, witty or maybe a useful tute or recipe.

I fear this is unlikely…

I would like to share this link the wonderful Rachel from Growing Things and Making Things left in a comment. I genuinely think watching Henri has got me through recently – I regard it as medicinal. We’ve all started soundtracking any gloomy moments, I caught Zeph doing it while regarding his toothbrush this morning. Brilliant.


It was  a brilliant week away – new foods were tried, museums and galleries visited. Plenty of bus and tube travel racked up – a fair amount of mooching. Nitro ice-cream was eaten. Zeph and I saw this;


Steve, J and Ida got to hang around on the Southbank in the rain waiting for us. Ida and Zeph threw tantrums. Ida sat down a lot.

I had some amazing cakes made for my birthday;

Lemon,strawberry and peppermint. Together – fantabulous. Honestly – you’re going to hear Heston chatting about them pretty soon I think…

In other news – did you know it’s depression week? – well more accurately, depression awareness week. For once I’m way ahead of the game. In case you’re not and you’d like to be more so this is a great link:


Depression touches all of us, I mean – you know more than five people right? – it is serious yet not the end of the world. There is help if you need it, as usual there could be more. Worst of all is the shame associated with all mental illness.

Speaking out and sharing is what scares the shame spectre away.

I live with depression, I suspect I will all my life. I am capable, strong and resourceful, my life has moments of immense joy and frequent flashes of happiness which I treasure.

I medicate and apply structures and routines that help me. I am grateful to still have my life, I value it. Depression is one part of me, it is not all that I am but I see no reason to be ashamed of it or hide that aspect of me.

The garden is looking beautiful, lots of fresh green and blossom. The showers mean everything is gleaming. The clematis that has clambered up the eucalyptus is turning its palest pink flowers to face the brief shards of sunshine. It twines serenely through the wind thrashed branches. My washed out bunting flaps wildly, we’re all waiting for sunnier days.

I’m sure they’ll be here soon.



Packing mayhem

Oh my life, I’m taking a break from packing.

Things should get easier now Ida’s gone to bed as I won’t have to keep fishing her additions out of the bags. So far this evening I’ve retrieved a rollerskate, a wooden spoon, the box of paints and Zeph’s wetsuit that no longer fits him. All useful items in some other scenario I’m sure but unwanted for five days in London with Julianne.

We’re all highly excited and I’m sure there’ll be tears at some point. I’ve tried not to over think stuff which is something I do a little. Maybe I went too far the other way as today has felt a little hectic.

Hectic but full of brilliant stuff and so many Beautiful Things it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Mum and Dad came for pickled fish lunch today to plant out the potatoes and distribute easter and birthday presents like very Boho easter bunnies. It was a hugely happy afternoon and the sun shone bountifully on some very focused potato planting.

The potato race between the kids is becoming an established ritual. They each get a bag and the same amount of chitted treasure. When the plants are ready we harvest each bag with forensic carefulness and count up the bounty. The bag with the most tubers (regardless of size) wins.

We have ready, set and gone – only a few months to wait. Zeph believes he has this years edge with a sprinkle of ground volcanic rock mixed in with the compost. I reserve all judgement.

My mum dressed up in the gardening apron with the string pocket I made her last year and Ida spent a long while eyeing it up covetously. I’m thinking of running some up for the summer craft stalls.  String dispensing pockets are actually very useful.

Our lizard has been unwell so we’re glad to see him looking a bit more sprightly and eating more. I feel happier about leaving him for a while and Zeph has stopped checking he’s still breathing every hour or so. He shot into the bedroom earlier in the week at about 6.30 am shrieking he thought Sticky was dead. I leapt to my feet, raced downstairs half asleep, missed the last few steps and knocked my arm out of its socket on the door jamb. I was sick on the floor from the pain and Steve had to come down, avoid the sick, push it back into its socket, ice me up and clear up. All under the watchful gaze of a bemused lizard who’d been enjoying a nice nap.

I’ve been on full strength drugs all week and quite enjoyed the cotton wool cloud feeling. I know I can’t let it go on too long though so have brought my dosages down which has resulted in a bit of evening snappiness.

I think the kids were quite glad to go to bed tonight and I’m sure Steve would’ve liked to have joined them. Too bad beardie – we’ve got rucksacks to fill…

I think the blossom will be over by the time we’re home again. The plum-tree was frothy with white flower frills today but the liquid green leaves are overtaking it. There’s very little on the apple tree this year but the crab apple is covered in deep pink buds. I hope there’s some left on Thursday these crimson lake edged petals are thrilling.

The peony’s first bud is showing as well – I can NOT wait! I do love my  blowsy ephemeral peonies so much.

I’ve bought a phone to go away with as well. The cheapest I can find which is ten pounds.

TEN POUNDS. Honestly – I feel ludicrously old. How can a mobile phone – okay it’s hardly flashy – but it’s perfectly functional – be £10 and a stamp  is now 60p. Or a Snickers bar which is, in my mind, about 27p be 89p!! I nearly drop my purse everytime I’m conned into chocolate bar purchasing in our corner shop BUT a phone – a mobile, walking around, put it in my pocket, startrek future, phone is TEN POUNDS.

It all seems wrong. Is this because I’m old?

Anyway I’ve finally mastered how to answer it and we’ve uncovered our oyster cards. I’ve tracked down enough clean socks and hole less pants in case of road accidents for us all. We have toothbrushes and new paste. I’m having a minty fresh break from the salty stuff. Ida is over her horror at being presented with a tube of Hungry Caterpillar stuff. I thought she’d be pleased, she thought I was a monsterous, caterpillar grinding ogre. Surely this is all we need?

Look out Big City…

Marching on

On the third of march 2011 seven women in Abidjan on the Ivory coast were mown down by gunfire.

They were there, protesting peacefully about Laurent Gbagbo who has squatted in presidential power refusing to leave after he was legally voted out. Mothers, daughters and sisters took to the streets to peacefully show their support for the recognised majority holder in that vote; Alassane Outtara.

Seven of them paid with their lives.

We don’t realise how intensely privileged we are to have such an established right to protest. Todays news is regularly filled with people who face so much to stand up and say, “We disagree… we want something else. ” People who understand the risk and brave it.

To the people who feel that the men and women sitting behind a banks counter ready to pay in cheques or help you with withdrawals are in fact the fat cats who hedgefunded us into financial failure and therefore deserve to be stormed, terrified and to have bricks thrown at them, the people who possibly have confused the teenage fashion fan on a minimum wage working in Topshop for a tax exile, I say to you, frankly – you cunts.

Sorry to anyone offended by such frank cussing but to be honest those pathetic, adrenalin fueled, short-sighted, self righteous arseholes – have to me – just pissed all over those women’s corpses. Frankly if I could get my hands on them I’d be trying out a few of my previous thoughts about physically violent women. At the very least they’d be on my time-out step having a good think about their actions.

Zeph, Ida and I had a fantastic march. We were surrounded by a massive range of people – all passionate about showing their opposition to these cuts to vital services and heard many options and possibilities for  genuine alternatives.

I came away tired, happy and optimistic. I still retain that feeling although I am dismayed about the huge media coverage of a minority. I hope their actions have not totally overshadowed the rest of us who came and stood shoulder to shoulder, (watch it – I feel a Comrade rising to my lips..)

Zeph was amazing, really engaged in why we were there and helpful. Ida would have liked a banner to wave. I saw her drinking in the atmosphere and the people around us were charmed by her regal waving to the applauding people on the pavements. I’m pretty sure she thought they were there for her.

The food bribery held out until the journey home and thankfully both kids fell asleep on the coach back. Possibly the most hair-raising aspect of the day was hearing Reg, sharing the seat in front with Zeph, sharing some of his huge store of filthy stories and jokes. I had a brief chat with Zeph about context. He lets me know he knows what context is and do I? Since I’m the one who used the C word at sports day. I subside.

Today has been full of small important pleasures. We mooched around the garden.

 I’ve used up all the sand laying a couple of slabs. Going to have to beg another lift…

We planted seeds. Courgettes, peas, borlotti beans, snapdragons, lupins, sweetpeas, teasels, cress and a mysterious packet in Italian that I have assumed is mixed salad leaves.

We look at all the different daffodils, Ida shows me her favourite;

I appreciate it all very much. I make breadrolls and soup for tea. We all get muddy. Zeph counts the chits on our five charlotte potatoes. It’s a fantastic day. 

daily meandering

A varnished willow pig trying to climb a tree...

I’ve had one of those chasing your tails kind of days. I do tend towards headless chickeness where I start lots of things and don’t finish them. Wallpaper stripping, cupboard ripping out, knitting, sorting out drawers. Patios.

Today though in the glorious sunshine it was pretty hard to care too much. Since I’ve officially decided it’s all about the journey and not the destination it seemed churlish not to sit on a cushion in the sun knitting while Ida played in the sandpit (with the spider, it’s big enough to make its own castles.)

I’m flexing the BT muscles tonight – Lovely walk with friends in the park. We soaked up morning sunshine and threw sticks for Orlagh the beautiful Golden (Ginger) retriever. There was a small misunderstanding early on between her and Ida over the ownership of sticks but it soon settled into happy mutual stick appreciation. I love how thrilled Ida was to walk with her.  

My friend’s going to give me a lift to buy sand for the slabs tomorrow, things are drawing together in a DIY style. I feel childishly excited about a trip to B&Q without having to worry about how I’ll get the stuff home on the bus. I’m not sure she knows what she’s let herself in for. In return I’m going to be moral support while she returns something. She’s known me since I was eleven – does she know me at all? I’ll probably end up apologising and paying them again for the faulty canvases. Kali help me. In fact, Kali – destruction and wrath – could you help me please?

I’ve been thinking about creeping plants I can put between the slabs. I’d  like some thyme and violas and a mint, a little round leafed creepy one I saw in a magazine once. I muse aloud about its name, caucasian mint? Steve raises his eyebrows, “are you sure?” Obviously I’m the opposite of sure. Dear Google… aha – it’s Corsican mint. That’s the one. I’m going to get me some of that.

Ida and I pack the bag with our joint favourite picture books for the journey on Saturday. I put in drawing paper and pencils and a wide choice of confectionary bribery. I’m feeling excited and hopeful…and slightly apprehensive. Zeph asks if I’ll get into any fights – I’m appalled and quiz him why he would think this. He runs through a series of embarrassing mum incidents like the time I reprimanded a group of emo boys for littering and the time I lost my temper on the bus about the woman who wouldn’t move her buggy for a wheelchair user. I pretend I can hear the phone ringing and sprint inside. I feel a bit mortified. When did I morph into my mum. Is this inevitable? 

The stock of baby wipes I keep in the piano stool has been magically replenished. I’m mystified but then realise it must have been Dad yesterday. Tears prick my eyes about his quiet re-provisioning. I send him a postcard with a bright red lipstick kiss thankyou on it.

The Big Smoke.

Huzzah! had the most amazing few days. My feet hurt though…

A few capital BT’s….

This is the kids romping around the V&A. It’s the first time we’ve been with them and they loved it. We looked round the asian rooms spending quite a lot of time peering at the Tipu Sultan tiger savaging a british soldier and the samurai swords and armour. I forced them round the new medieval galleries (selfish mum) where Z pointed out there was a lot of jesus… found the chaviest madonna and child I’ve ever been privileged to witness;

I mean, she wouldn’t look out-of-place in Burberry would she? A baby bottle full of coke, fag and some huge furry boots and I’d not look twice at her crossing Barton Street.

It’s true…I am a philistine. One of the galleries full of examples of architectural detail and architraving put me in mind slightly of a reclamation yard.

That makes it sound as though I yawned round it and I really didn’t – beautiful early examples of european altarpieces made me feel swoopy in the stomach, loved it.

Ida’ s ooooh face in the foyer at the blown glass chandelier which is one of my reliable swoopy items.

Though as J says, think of the dusting.

I mean that’s the only reason I’m not installing one.

Actually Idas ooooooh face features heavily in my BT’s. A stand out one was her first glimpse of a giraffe. She’s very fond of a few giraffe characters including the one who gets sent from the zoo and is toooooooo tall. I don’t think she had any clue how tall. After a good ten minutes big eyed looking she turned to me and said, “E’s very big” incredibly seriously. She also annoyed quite a few people in the walk through monkey enclosure who rushed over to see what we were watching so intently. It wasn’t a monkey, it was a squirrel. A very plump one who obviously does quite well on someone elses dinner. It’s no good tutting at us people, she’s two, the squirrel is easily as fascinating as a monkey.

My best bit was walking down the south bank with J – the chance to idly chat is a real pleasure for me and being with someone with so much twiddly arcane knowledge to share is amazing. Twilight is my favourite time and looking at the lights gleaming through the fogginess on the skyline felt noteworthy pleasurable. Under the bridge by the festival hall the sky was the most magical shade of purple pink and beyond the capabilities of my feeble camera to capture.

Had loads of amazing food – salt beef bagels from brick lane – silky dim sum dumplings (dipped ONLY in vinegar – and a recommendation beyond reproach, if only I had followed it fully..) in Jens cafe in Chinatown. A really astonishing pearl drink I had no high expectations for but loved and the greediest happiest Mexican meal where I got to try new stuff which makes me stupidly happy. Shopping today for bread, having planned a frugal beans on toast tea, Zeph and I got a bit carried away and tried to make some of the stuff we’d tried.

My first ceviche and it was really good – honest to god it was… and I recreated a tamarind drink that tasted, although not exactly like the one we had, good. Nobody vomited anyway. Our local supermarket couldn’t supply us with cactus but we got cactus juice (in case the tamarind thing didn’t pan out.) Apropos nothing… Please note the glorious orange of the mango…ahem.

Anyway my best BT has to be Steve being genuinely joyful and silly and playful with the kids. I already have a dread of the end of the holiday but am trying to note and store up all the lightness.

This is Ida insisting on kissing goodbye to all the white plastic rabbit just outside Spitalfields market .

She went round twice. It’s a toss-up whether she loved these, the armadillo at the zoo or J best. I am charmed by how much she loves my friends and reassure myself that it’s because she is so secure in my love she can reject me so freely. That is why isn’t it?

It feels luxurious to have too many BT’s to pick from – I will stop boring you with my very poor impression of a tour guide. I did really miss writing a post every day. It seems to have become a habit so quickly, good to know I can form socially acceptable ones as fast as bad.

We’re going back to london pretty soon – don’t panic J,(only one of the most beautiful and talented people I know..as you see slighty unnerved by giving her a link to this blog, honest to god it wasn’t my idea to take the trainset you know...) only a day trip to this: http://marchforthealternative.org.uk/ I’m taking the kids as well..on a coach…must remember to pack a good Meg & Mog supply. If you’re at all inclined do consider it…

Party loot and careful packing.

Forgot to mention that I came away with this lovely table centrepiece from last nights party, sparkly heart and all. Ida is enormously pleased, as am I. We admire it together as I sit one side of the table sewing some embellishments onto her new purple hoodie my Mum gave us. Ida is busy drawing ducks with an illicit felt-tip. I can’t blame her, I’d much rather draw with a felt tip than a wax crayon too.

We’re combining a lazy day with packing and planning for a couple of days doing London stuff. I wonder where the line is between being really good at packing light and being slovenly. As we’ll be carrying bags around with us I’m adamant it’s just PJ’s, spare pants and socks and a grudging emergency change for Ida. ..and toothbrushes. Steve veto’s us all sharing one brush. His line is obviously in a different place to mine. Zeph wonders what happens if he spills food or something. “Don’t”  I say humourlessly. “Or we could turn your top inside out..” Turns out his line is nearer  Steves than mine. They both look at me as though I’m Worzel Gummidge.

 I’m the one who’ll be bloody carrying it you know, while they pore over rocks in the museum. Also the only way I can cope with a toddler and push chair on the tube is to have as little baggage as possible. I prefer to think of myself as a spy/assassin who can can store all they need for a weekend in their pockets as opposed to a tramp. I get identical sceptical eyebrows when I put this to the men in my life. Gah.

Anyway – here’s the recipe for yesterdays Lemon cakes


  • Cakes
  • 125g butter/marg (whichever you prefer..)
  • 125g sugar
  • 2 eggs (I use medium)
  • 125g  SR flour
  • Zest and juice of two lemons
  • tbsp milk
  • tsp baking powder
  • Icing
  • mascapone cheese
  • lemon curd
  • icing sugar
  • something pretty


Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and beat. Zest the lemons over the bowl and add the juice of one. Add flour (I don’t sift but feel free, sometimes I replace 25g of the flour with cornflour as it makes a nicer cake texture but this is very far from vital. I also add baking powder here if I’m planning butterfly cakes as the domed top is easier to cut. If they’re cupcakes I leave out for a flatter top) Mix. Slacken the mix with the other lemons juice and if necessary after I’ve mixed and it’s still stiff, a slosh of milk. Spoon into cakes and bake. (umm – until done.. about 15mins at 180 ish or equiv, but my oven is a law unto itself)

This is the good bit.. icing. Mix the mascapone with a little (tbsp ish) icing sugar and a good couple of tbsp (to your taste basically) of lemon curd. If you’ve got another lemon you could add a bit of zest and juice as well.

Then carve out a hole in the top of one of your cooled cakes, dollop a generous helping of icing into said hole, cut your leftover cake bit in half and shove into icing like wings. Sprinkle with something pretty.

These are EXTRA yummy in the summer with a few raspberries crushed into the mascapone mix. Mmmmm – summer….

Right, off to see what else I can discard from the bag. Is it cheating to have scheduled some posts to cover the next three days? I have decided to think it isn’t. Am wondering if I’ll miss sitting and reflecting everyday. I’ll let you know on Thursday. (Blimey – bet you’re on the edge of your seat, self-absorbed eh?)

May your next three days be filled with BT’s.