Monthly Archives: July 2010

It’s the final countdown….

Well, despite MY organisation…. Steve, not so much. He threw everything into the van, left a load of stuff, including stuff I wanted, and managed only to get my table and some pictures in : (

I still have 40 papers to mark, a room full of boxes, a boy to round up, a cat to calm and to get over there in one piece.

Anyway, it’s 24 hours to my English Exit… though I shall obviously be back.

So, A tout a l’heure, tout le monde!

Nothing beside remains…

I’ve been pondering my own, and universal, legacy and demise recently, what with the rise and fall of many Governmental agencies since the new government came to power. I posted Ozymandias a couple of weeks ago which I think sums up my whole attitude to these colossal organisations (and myself!) who think they are eternal powers of might.

What’s brought it back home to me a couple of times in the last few weeks is the removal of statues of Stalin in the former USSR, just as it did the removal of statues of Saddam Hussain. There have been some quite poignant images of the removal of these statues: men who ruled people’s lives, ruined people’s lives and played what seemed at the time a colossal part in history. Stalin, Hitler, Roosevelt, Churchill: the big names of the Second World War. You’d think.

Yet what makes me laugh a little inside at the whole bitter-sweet irony of it all is that my friend Carlo said a couple of weeks ago:

“Who’s Stalin?”

I know this was a Joey-esque moment, but he really said it. In fact, wrote it. There’s no going back from that one!!

He’s posted a cute picture of a pit bull type puppy – Carlo’s obsessed by these dogs in that they’re not bad dogs, really – and I’d put:

“Stalin was a cute baby. So was Idi Amin.”

To which he’d replied:

“lol u no full well i wont have the slightest clue wat your on about lol ** going to google now**” and then put:

“Joseph Stalin, 1922 © One of the most powerful and murderous dictators in history, ??? idi Amin was also a evil dictator ???”

Bless him.

Though, Carlo, like many, just doesn’t care much about history. What’s happened has happened to him, and what’s now is important. Book learning isn’t much of an interest to him. And if HE doesn’t know who Stalin was, then Stalin’s Ozymandias years are upon him. How long before a reasonable and literate adult doesn’t know who Hitler was?!

It all makes me feel very small and pointless. But also a little sad. How many people were affected by Stalin’s regime? And now, how significant is it? Without constant reminders like Armistice Day or Guy Fawkes’ Night, would the general public even know what had happened?!

I still stand by the fact that James I was an exceptional spin-doctor. He managed to turn a half-arsed attack into something remembered forever. Many assassination attempts (and successes!) have happened in recent as well as ancient history – which among these do we recall?!

9/11 will, I hope, always be remembered, but many other events are not. It seems the only things people notice these days are the ones that are loudest in the press. Who now remembers Bali, Katrina, the Tsunami? And yet these have had huge repurcussions. Yet unless you live in an area directly affected, it seems to have slipped from the social consciousness.

And like Ozymandias, maybe it’s time we remember the forgotten subjects of such rulers – the ones who suffered under their ‘cold command’ – those who don’t leave a statue behind, a mark of their lives.

Into the final stages…

I had a question from a friend on Facebook about the pet passports, and I have to say she was horrified by the expense. If I were of a less sentimental nature, I’d go with the ‘drown them…’ approach! Although it’s not a concern if you’re just taking pets out and staying out in France, it’s a dear do if you want to bring them back.

First, your dearest animal needs to be chipped. For the Molly, this is a good thing. She likes to escape from time to time and take herself for a walk. But she’s not particularly bright and forgets to come home. For the Basil, this is a bad thing. It’s hard to be incognito and ‘ownerless’ if you have a chip. In true net-geek speak, he is pwned good and proper. I own him. It says so in his passport. He has an address. He’s no longer the cat equivalent of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher. He has a home and family. The chip can be anywhere from £10 upwards.

Then, your dear animal needs to have a rabies vaccination. This isn’t that dear compared to the blood test. Our jab cost about £35 if I recall rightly. There’s some info out there on the net that says they need a booster 2 weeks later. Not as far as I know. The booster for our animals will be in three years time. I guess the second shot is just to check it’s worked… but given the expense of the initial shot, a second one seems a bit of a waste of £35 unless you really need it!

Then, 2 weeks after, you need a blood test to see if it’s worked. I guess, otherwise, you have a rabid pet?! This was the dear do… cost £70 each blood test. You can only get back into England 6 months after a clear rabies test, and they can be pretty funny about whether that’s 6 calendar months or some other calculation they’ve worked out. I’d play it safe and ensure it’s done 7 months before you’ll be bringing your pet back. You don’t want the poor little fella sitting in quarantine for a week just because some narky official has decided that it should be 6 months of 31 days or something bizarre.

Dogs also need to have their usual annual booster shots too (ours are £28. I don’t know if that’s dear or cheap, but I love our vet and I’d pay him twice as much as anyone else!)

Then, the passport itself is £40.

So… from start to finish, you’re looking at about £150 minimum. Per pet.

If you take them out to France on Eurotunnel, you don’t pay for the animal. The lovely Eurotunnel lady said we only had to keep the pets comfortable and happy – it’s their only requirement on the way out.

It’s on the way back in where it starts to get stringent! Then you need all sorts of treatments to get back in, in order to ensure there are no parasites, blood-suckers, pests and so on. I wonder why they let Mariah Carey’s entourage in with her? Maybe she should be de-loused before arrival? This goes for any number of foreign (American!) singers/actors with an accompanying cast of thousands, needless to say.

I must say, I like the little passports. They are lovely. I’m going to put pictures of Basil and Molly in the front of them (There’s a space – it’d be rude not to!) and then they are as good as people.

Given that their passport is more expensive than ours and that the most I ever paid for a jab was £33 for my yellow fever jab (LJ – Yellow Fever free since 2003) they are actually better than people. Or, more expensive anyway. Thank God Jake’s jabs are free, or else we’d be leaving him at home.

I jest. His passport is also up for renewal. This is a good thing. His previous passport picture, taken aged 5, makes him look a little …. hmmm…. simple. He’s staring at the camera with his mouth open and his dad has unfortunately given him a very nasty bowl haircut. Unfortunate. Steve looks like a criminal in his. I had a Mona Lisa smile in mine until it was renewed this year (and I have huge hair on this one, and a double chin!) so…. I need to make Molly and Basil look suitably ‘prison line-up’ ish.

To the left
To the right
and to the front

I did enter this picture on my Icanhascheezburger page. My favourite caption for it was:

“You is dismissed. I has finished with you. I has bizness to attend to.”

Argh… and breathe….. Argh…. and breathe.

No, not childbirth. Moving to France.

10 days left and still so much to do.

Cat still to go to vet’s. Dog has been. Dog and cat passports to pick up. Passport for the boy. Tickets for the tunnel x 1 for me. Tickets for the tunnel x 2 for the van. Council tax to sort out. Bills to pay. Hair to be cut. Family to be visited. Tip. Remove stuff from loft. Finish packing. Garden to be tidied. Pots to be cleaned out. Rubbish to go out. Forward mail. Finish exam marking. Meetings in Manchester x 6. Car cleaned out. Car cleaned washed. New tyres. Insurance address swapped. New driver’s licence. Take surplus to Emmaus. Take clothes to Salvation Army. Optician. Doctor’s. Clean floor. Wash windows. Pick up paint. Pick up wallpaper.

But… it’s all going in the right direction! I just hope I can get earning a living over there!

Less than two weeks!

Well, I’m  now on a countdown.

We’re off to France on the 31st July – so 12 days and counting! I can’t believe there is so much to do in that time. We’re picking up a van on the 29th – travelling down to France on the 3oth and 31st and we’ll be in situ from the 1st August, almost 11 months after we first planned to go there!


I’m comforting myself with the thoughts that there will be sunshine, harvests to crop, apples to pick, potatoes to dig up, weeding a-plenty, mowing, strimming, pruning, trimming, sewing, painting, sanding, stripping, killing, moving, shifting, papering, hanging, tidying, sweeping, cleaning and countless other tasks.

But I can’t wait! I have so much I now need to do!


First stop: market. Then I can buy a huge cooking pot to make jam with. I’m also planning on a dozen other damson-related products, not least damson jam, damson jelly and stewed damsons for later in the year, when I’ll quite happily be making a big load of damson cobbler.

Mes pommes

These will go for apple chutneys, frozen stewed apples, cider (which I really fancy making!) apple pies and apple cakes, as well as the absolute must ‘tarte tatin’

I’d quite like a dryer as well, so I can dry fruit, such as apples and peaches, for later consumption. Of course, then, we also have apple sorbet and damson sorbet, with the ice cream maker I have long waited to make use of.

Spiced apples, spiced plums… can’t wait! I really, really cannot wait!

One vine of the grapes

right… on to do stuff… organising, thank yous… a million and one things to do!

The Lizard Man Cometh

Steve got back after a harrowing trip yesterday. Harrowing for me, seeing as I’m always the one who has to answer the question: “Where am I?” which can come at any time and from any venue. Honestly, I wish I could fit him with GPRS.

Still, he seemed in high spirits. The majority of his work has been mowing the lawn in the sunshine. He’s already sick of it. More digging up and planting, I feel, and less lawn!

This is the result of a lack of mowing for 3 weeks!

I can see that this would be my rose bed anyway – seems like many of the roses are past their best here, but I would really like a fantastic row of lovely roses. I’m prepared to hybridise and propagate. Have secateurs, will travel! Madame had a gazebo out here, too, which I would like very much (in a Moroccan style so that it can be completely closed off to the world, filled with lovely soft cushions

I love this one…

*apologies for the tiny size, but you get the ideas and the fantastic colours!*

And you can see the original image here from my new favourite website of the day:

CHS Creative Productions

I love their work, I really do. How fabulous? Completely and utterly! How fun??! Bags of!

Their blog is here

You know I’m going to be a regular follower. I think this is my dream business! Now… where can I get the money from to run a business like this in Angouleme??!

Now wouldn't this be a lovely place for a Moroccan style canopy tent?!

Hmmm. The problem is that I can see the seat of Steve’s bike in the foreground. How on earth do I convince him that we need a canopy that’s fabulous for Florida and Miami, but not quite “I am MAN. I like METAL. I like MACHINES”.

I might put those cute little tinsel glittery things on the handles of his motorbike and say ‘you WILL cave to my will.’

100 things about me… In honour of my 100th post

1. I love lists

2. I used to have an obsession with smurfs when I was younger.

3. My first story was about smurfs

4. My favourite teacher ever was Mr Parkes, my Junior 2 teacher, when I was 8.

5. Justine is my nom-de-plume and only 6 people know why

6. I speak 7 languages with varying degrees of fluency

7. I’m a Sagittarius and I don’t believe in horoscopes, except when I do

8. My favourite story is “Gone with the Wind”

9. I have a crush on Clark Gable

10. I also have a crush on Sean Bean

11. I liked school

12. I love metal, but I also love Mika and the Scissor Sisters

13. My most expensive boots cost £250.00 in a sale

14. My most expensive handbag was bought in the airport in Tokyo

15. I love magical realism

16. I wish I was Latin American a lot

17. I love sushi probably more than I love pizza

18. I love margherita pizza

19. I love oregano and basil

20. I salt my food more than I should

21. My favourite novel (not story!) is “The Great Gatsby”

22. My favourite movie is probably “The Outsiders”

23. When I was 13, I wished I had a brother called Sodapop

24. My brother loves me so much he once went through a children’s activity tunnel in the Early Learning Centre, just to make me laugh

25. I always wished I had my sister’s name (Abigail)

26. I love photography, and I’m a bit of a purist about digital. Photography should be hard. It’s an art.

27. I love cakes, especially cream cakes

28. I sometimes listen to opera, and I love Madame Butterfly

29. I can hypnotise people

30. I’ve done 34 marathons in my life, but now my feet are busted : (

31. I’ve got bipolar disorder

32. I’ve got a congenital defect of my hands

33. I don’t like to follow the crowd

34. I despise women with no umph

35. My favourite word is salamander

36. It’s my lifetime mission to read all of Charles Dickens’ novels.

37. I’ve read 6 Charles Dickens’ novels so far

38. I also want to see all of Shakespeare’s plays in production

39. I have two tattoos, both of which I designed myself.

40. Sometimes I look like Medusa in the morning

41. I loved Clash of the Titans

42. I’d love a dog of my own, even though my cat does very well as a pet.

43. I’ve seen the sun rise over the Amazon, and set over the Sahara (not on the same day!)

44. I made a wish in the Meiji temple

45. I love SnoopyWorld in Harajuku

46. My favourite flower is probably the rose

47. I’m very sentimental

48. I love writing letters, and I’ve got all the letters ever sent to me by friends

49. I miss my Gramps every day

50. I love it when my cat caterwauls

51. I wish I had a horse of my own

52. When I was about 15, I used to keep a top ten of all the lads I fancied and sometimes, Steve was on it, but he doesn’t know that. And he probably thinks he’s on more than he is : )

53. I once kissed a boy whose name was Alastair, simply because his name was Alastair

54. My longest relationship was 5 years

55. My favourite little bit of a walk in the whole world is the bit of Dow Lane that goes to Lowercroft dip

56. I once stole a bottle of orange from a doorstep when I was coming home at 5 in the morning

57. I love murder mysteries, especially Harry Bosch and Elvis Cole.

58. I used to think Bowie’s ‘Life on Mars’ was written about me

59. I love dressing up

60. I own a corset from House of Harlot. It’s a prized possession and my most expensive outfit

61. I love Camden Market, even if it is a bit cheesy these days

62. I’m probably a hippie with a power-dresser inside. Or a power-dresser with a hippie inside

63. I have A level religious studies and I’m inclined to ask spiritual questions

64. I once mooned Tokyo from Roppongi Hills Tower

65. I love Georgia O’Keeffe stuff and did my A level Art work in honour of her

66. My favourite photographer is Henri Cartier-Bresson

67. I’m coffee, not tea. And the best coffee I ever drank was in Cuba, freshly ground and brewed, with a slice of banana cake

68. I don’t drink very much, but I love gin and tonic, malibu and coke and other 1980s drinks.

69. I know how to revive hibernating hamsters and gerbils

70. I want to learn how to hybridise my own roses

71. I want to complete my back tattoo with wisteria, maple leaves and snowflakes

72. I believe in mono-no-aware, the bitter-sweet awareness that ‘this too shall pass’ is just as true of happiness as it is of sadness

73. I ran along the Copacabana

74. I went to Brazil because of a book I read: Journey to the River Sea which is a children’s book

75. I went to Japan because of a book I’d read: Across the Nightingale Floor which is a ‘teen’ book by Lian Hearn and my favourite of all children’s books

76. My favourite photographic films are Fuji Superia, Fuji Velvia, Fuji Neopan 1600 and Koday T-Max 400

77. I love to laugh. I like simple things to laugh at, like comedy shows. I love “My Name is Earl” because it makes me laugh, I love Joy and Darnell, and Randy and Catalina almost as much as I love Earl. I love karma and I love Earl’s list.

78. I love language and I love the way words travel like seeds, planting themselves in different cultures, and growing in weird and wonderfully different ways, like obrigado and arigato.

79. I love Italian food, but I love Chinese food probably just as much.

80. I like having a middle name. It’s like a secret no-one knows.

81. I like to wander through markets, but I wish the stallholders would just let me look at stuff instead of asking if I’m looking for something. Sometimes I like to just look and if I’m left alone, I usually buy stuff too.

82. My favourite ‘thin’ clothes are my pencil-thin size 8 Pilot trousers and my Guess jeans.

83. I get easily addicted to online games, especially pointless ones. Once I decide to stop, I can’t see the point any more.

84. I gave up smoking in 1998. I started again in 2008. I stopped again because it all felt a bit pointless and boring.

85. Writing is my passion. Actually, words are my passion.

86. I love Fry’s Turkish Delight

87. I quite like believing in stuff. I’m probably a Buddhist with a bit of Shinto and Christianity thrown in.

88. I love haiku

89. My favourite artists are Hokkusai and the Pre-raphaelites. Bizarre combination, I know

90. I could look at pictures of cute animals all day long

91. I think animals are far superior to many people

92.  I make the best carrot cake you will ever eat

93. I was in the last 100 for Masterchef 2009. I didn’t get through. I don’t know why. They had to compliment one guy on making a milk sauce. This was the second thing I learned to make in Domestic Science.

94. I can make my own curtains and blinds

95. I like acrylic paint best of all art forms

96. I am quite compulsive about watching things. I have to watch everything in the series  before I can do anything else. Also, I can’t put books down

97. I once had to be rescued off a hill in Cuba when a hurricane came over

98. I’ve been where Fidel Castro and Che hid out

99. President Lula of Brazil is my favourite president of all, though I liked Castro. He’s like a strict dad.

100. I’m proud of how Cuba have stuck two fingers up to the US bureaucracy and mafia-supported in-politics that caused the sanctions on the country. Ironic they’re pretty much the only country the US won’t trade with!

99 things I love about Steve and Jake

I’m going list-mental in these next two posts in honour of my 99th and 100th posts.

Things I love about Steve

The Molly Dog

1. How he tells the dog we’re moving to France

2. When he laughs at me choking laughing at something on t.v.

3. His ‘crotchless panties’ – some ripped trackie bottoms well past their sell-by date

4. His caffeine habit

5. His reluctance to spend money (which sometimes infuriates me!)

6. His ability to find a bargain

7. How he never fails to surprise me, even after knowing him almost 30 years

8. How kind he is to animals

9. That he’ll always get stuck in and work hard

10. How he calms me down

11. How he’s secretly been picking up French

12. How he loves potato salad and now makes it himself

13. When he sneaks up on me deliberately to startle me

14. What a good dad he is

15. How strong he is

16. How patient he can be

17. How he fails to ever, really, get excited, even when we buy houses in France

18. That he doesn’t like to drink much alcohol

19. That he’s addicted to Time Team

20. That he fancies himself a treasure hunter

21. His coin collection

22. His aversion to sports on t.v.

23. His outdoor ways

24. His innate practicality

25. That he’s a meat-eating man who’ll eat salad as long as it’s drenched in dressing

26. That he’s always evolving

27. That he likes gardening

28. That he’s endlessly intelligent

29. That he makes me laugh a hundred times a day

31. That he settles my nerves

32. That he loves what I cook

33. That he’s so easy going

34. That he finds me amusing

35. When he takes a nap with the dog

36. That the first thing he’s sorting in France is the dog house

37. That he loves motorbikes

38. That he likes a walk

39. That he loves having fun with kids

40. How he knows who he is and doesn’t feel the need to change unless he wants to

41. His love of ‘cowwies’

42. How he shows Jake how to do stuff

43. His fascination with fire

44. How he loves surprising things that you wouldn’t expect him to

45. That he’s totally at one with who and what he is

46. How he accepts what he cannot change without frustration

47. How he can always cut costs

48. That he’ll go and try and order lawnmower parts in France, get the part and then get frustrated with the bloke and walk out

49. His Evil Edna tattoo

50. That he doesn’t often laugh out loud, but when he does, it makes him laugh more, and it’s often at me.

And things I love about Jake

1. That he is a morning ogre and a nightowl

2. That he likes maths and is really good at it

3. When he gets frustrated playing ‘Dumbville’ and almost punches the computer

4. When he plays air hockey and he looks a bit over-excited

5. How grown up he can be

6. How sensitive he is when people are upset. Sometimes.

7. What a little ‘boy’ he is, covered in mud

8. How sensible he is with tools

9. How much he likes drawing

10. When he and I do a drawing together (mainly me, it must be said)

11. When he does cute things, like give me a Valentine’s card, and then say ‘well, someone else made it’ in such a “MAN” way

12. That he likes to get the bar stool and sit and help me cook

13. When he told everyone I was going on Masterchef

14. When he gets shy, as he’s usually so ‘bravado’ and ‘machismo’

15. How good he is with little kids and how he looks after them

16. How gentle he can be, especially with animals

17. When he kisses Molly and comes to lie down with her

18. How great it is when he achieves something he didn’t expect to

19. How much fun it is to take him to Frankie and Benny’s and drink kids’ cocktails, like we’re in Bugsy Malone

20. That he really, really, really loves The Goonies

21. When we sit and watch Trigger Happy TV together and like it because the people on it are cute because they’re so helpful.

22. When he tries to encourage me to do things of Neg’s Urban Sports, and I do and he then gets really embarrassed.

23. When I told that woman off in the cinema who yelled in my face, and Jake told me I totally could have beaten her in a fight and that he’d have taken the child on.

24. That he loves ‘Reaper’ and sits and watches ‘Burn Notice’ with me

35. That we have frank and honest discussions about stuff, like his mum and like discipline and like life and school

36. That he feels he can ask me questions about stuff and I’ll answer him honestly

37. When he’s asleep and he looks so innocent and so wonderful

38. That he likes to have the TV on to go to sleep

39. That he thinks I’m a great artist when I’m really not even average

40. That he likes to talk about stuff like Brazil and South Africa and he will sit and listen (for two minutes) to me talk about them

41. That I taught him Eric Cantona and Zinedine Zidane were Europe’s best footballers and they’re French

42. That he asked me if I had kids of my own whether they’d be better behaved for other people, like he is

43. That he ran around Madeline Lindley Book Warehouse getting giddy about science books

44. That he loves science and he particularly loves electronics and electrical stuff

45. That mostly he is the most adorable kid (until the Incredible Sulk kicks in!)

46. That he’s extremely good at Art, yet he doesn’t think he is

47. That he’s still fascinated by life

48. That he will give you his honest opinion about whether something looks good or not, and he’s usually right

49. That he quite likes bird spotting.

It’s like Rouen all over again.

It’s seven o’clock. I send a text to Steve to ensure he got the train.

“Only just. I was up at four thirty. Started walking ten minutes later. Had to run the last 10 minutes.”

“Have you found the navette shuttle bus?”

“No. I’m in Limoges. Can you tell me where it is.”

Now, I know that Steve and I don’t do directions well. I, according to him, am rubbish at navigating. He, according to me, is rubbish at following directions. He gets me all flustered because he’s in a foul mood and I end up thinking: “Sod it. Find your own way.”

So, I give the best, most clear directions I can.

“Go outside from the main entrance, so you’re looking at the main square. Then follow the building round to your right. This is the left if you’re looking AT the building. You should see a tower at the end of the building. Go round the tower following it to your right. *I can’t say ‘go round…’ that could mean anything to Steve, apparently. I’ve learned this from last time* and then you will see a lift going up to the platforms, four disabled spaces and a sign that shows your car will be towed. The bus stops here.”

Thanks Google Earth. You’re a life saver.

He does as I say. He then phones me.

“There’s no bus stop here.”

“I know. The shuttle hasn’t been running for long.” I’m making excuses for France here, for the airport, for the train station and all types of transit.

“There’s old people sitting down. None of them looks like they’re going to the airport.”

A huge part of me wants to say “It’s seven thirty. If you’d just learn french, you’d be able to ask them. But no….”

Instead, I say “Well, the shuttle will be there in 10 minutes. Why don’t you wait and see?”

He cuts me off, saying he’s going to find someone.

I hope he’s done what I’d do and gone back inside the terminal to ask. Turns out, he was tramping around looking for the tourist office. Apparently it’s badly signposted and he couldn’t find it. I know they’d only have said what I was going to say. Still, I can sense he’s getting to the end of his thin, thin hold on his temper.

He then sent me a text half an hour later to say he is back there and still can’t find it, having not been able to locate the tourist office. I tell him to wait and see what turns up at 10:15 when the bus is supposed to be there.

In the meantime, I’ve located the Limoges Airport website, found the link to the navette service, realised it’s an 8 seater mini bus and I’ve found a picture of it. It’s grey. I text him this information.

Moments later, the bus is there. He’s on it.

He’s going to be at Limoges Airport for about 5 hours. It’s small and boring. I’m sure he’ll be hyped up on coffee by the time he gets back.

And…. I know the worst is that Roy would have given him a lift, but Steve would rather do it HIS way.

I’m going to ban him doing things HIS way, when it involves me getting up at the crack of dawn to plough through the internet to find out where the hell he is.

Listening to the wise (wo)man’s communion

Sometimes, there are people who touch our lives in profound and interesting ways without knowing it. Last week, I had a problem with United Utilities who owed me a lot of money. At the time, it meant I couldn’t get Steve home in time for Jake’s birthday (thanks Sis!)

Having had a rant, Anne, the lady who I originally spoke to (and who, unfortunately faced my wrath against the Empire that is a utilities company… note to self: remember, it’s not the little people you’re mad at, but the corporation!) has called me repeatedly to check on me. I couldn’t have been luckier. She called me twice to see if the meter man had been and what the reading was. Then she called me today, told me to sit down and said she’d harassed the powers-that-be to fast track the cheque, and it’ll be here within 5 days. That’s brilliant. I love this. I love Anne. Anne, I hope you get good karma for your deeds. I really do. I admit, it must have a bit like Phoebe and the toner man.

Not only has the wonderful Anne aided me, but I went to my mum’s last night. Strange as this may sound, my mum has learned to cook.

My mum is a very hit-and-miss cook. She means well, but she skimps on the ingredients, buys cheap and then it’s not so good. I don’t know how she does it. If she makes carbonara, it’s runny. If she makes spaghetti, it’s tasteless. I remember a lot of spag bol growing up, something in pork she used to do, and I’m guessing a lot of boiled potatoes. I don’t remember it. My nana, on the other hand, was the Doyenne of cooking. She can make a sandwich better than you’ve ever eaten. I promise. Her bread tastes better, her salmon sandwiches rule. Her pork pies are always good. Mostly it’s bought stuff, but on nana’s plates, it tastes heavenly. Mum’s food was, at best, functional. Nana’s food was, at worst, enjoyable.

Anyway, my mum has decided to follow recipes – and good quality ones – and last night, she made a fantastic risotto. I enjoyed it! Bloody hell. She’s almost 60 and finally she cooks something that has layers of taste.

My mum is a great mum, though we don’t always see eye to eye. She taught me many things about being a mum.

1. We all do the best we can in the best way we know how.

2. People aren’t saints: they can’t be perfect, even if they try.

3. Your children should be happy and never know if bad stuff is happening

4. Rules is rules.

5. We all turn out alright in the end.

6. Let your children make the choices they need to make, no matter how hard it is to you.

7. Support them, even if they’re crazy (thanks mum!)

8. You don’t need to tell them what values to hold. If you model them, they’ll do it anyway

9. Children aren’t like plants: you can’t prune them, even if you don’t like how they’re growing

10. Children are like plants: you can only feed and nurture them and then hope for the best.

My mum is great.

Then, I have the luck to fall on several very useful blogs today, all through a chance following from one blog to another yesterday. My favourite is this one!

Yesterday, I sent a text to Steve saying there was too much oestrogen about and we needed some testosterone to calm things down a bit… but turns out, I was wrong. We can muddle through the hormones and the bitchiness and the tricky exes who won’t let go and the women who make our life harder, simply because there are a lot of fantastic women out there too!