Thursday, 31 January 2008

'Baby's First Tattoo'!

Whilst in a lovely card shop this afternoon, I came across an hilarious modern take on a baby book - it made me laugh out loud in the shop (must stop this habit) and I had to buy it to give to my dearest friend and mother of my gorgeous godson.
It is far more realistic than the usual kind, which you fill the first few pages of, then forget about until the child hits 40.
Here are some selected highlights from the 'things to fill in' -

Business trip Baby's Dad was on while you gave birth ?
Good career Mum gave up ?
Saint's name who administered the epidural ?
Number of nappies that fit in a nappy wrapper ?
Restaurants we never go to anymore -
First time baby ate dirt ?
First time baby answered back ?
First time baby got headlice ?
Most trips to A&E in one day ?
Baby's first tantrum in a supermarket ?
Where parents left the trolley full of frozen food when they had to drag screaming baby from the supermarket?

So as you can see it's a lot more realistic!
It's a good job that when you give birth your brain comes out with the placenta...otherwise we would never do it again!

I'll leave you with two wise quotes -

People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one - Leo Burke

Insanity is hereditary, you get it from your children - Sam Lavenson

Happy days!

Baby's first Tattoo is by Jim Mullen and is published by bloomsbury

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Virtual Book Group

How do you like your coffee? Have a white chocolate and pistachio cookie...shall we sit down...

I have just finished a super read - 'The Shuttle' by Frances Hodgson Burnett, it was exactly what I like from a book - thoughtful and left me wanting more when it was finished.
The Shuttle is a story of American women marrying into the English Aristocracy at the turn of century. These elegant creatures were a key American export - and turned the diminishing fortunes around of many a grand English Estate.

But the book really left me feeling that the work these women did, has gone rather unappreciated. They married some truly ghastly men (ok, so they got a title, but I'm sure it wasn't worth it) they got to live in some rotting old stately homes and they were often loathed by the 'establishment'.
Against this backdrop they sunk their dollars into restoring England's architectural history, keeping these amazing buildings going, so that they still stand proud for future generations to experience.

Later on Sunday morning, I listened to a debate - the subject was 'what makes people feel British?'
It was interesting - the panel were a mixed bag, Scottish, Anglo Indian etc they all explained what they believed made people feel British - the reasons varied, but none of them had any resonance with me.

I would question - why do we NEED to think of ourselves as British? - is it just an old boy's club? Is it the remnants of the Empire? Or do some just feel too 'small' being England?
Switzerland is small, but looks pretty confident as does titchy Monaco!
Small is beautiful - and we should just celebrate that!

Actually, I don't feel British at all! I never describe myself as that - I'm English - I feel English, my ancestors were too. I could never imagine living anywhere else (I haven't lost a grip, I KNOW - it's cold and it's wet - and that's just the summer) But I can't help myself - I love it here!
If I was going to push a point, I don't think anyone is truly British - it's just an umbrella term which unites England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. I'm certain that most Scots would not think of themselves as British, and the Welsh and Irish the same. Indeed, ask a Cornishman what he is - and I can guess his answer!

Since we started on the subject - America is happy being itself, and doesn't feel the need to cling to South America - in fact this has to be the most confident of all nations. So confident, that it is happy to become another nationality - just think of those brave young women weaving their way over the ocean to become the custodian of some dusty old pile!

Who's choosing the next months book?

'The Shuttle' is published by Persephone Books - which are stocked at Mr B's Emporium - see link at side!

Monday, 21 January 2008

Don't panic.....It's going to be an Indian Summer.

On Sunday at 6pm, we went to make our customary G&T.....ARGHHHHHHHH, panic - horror of all horrors, the cupboard was bare of tonic water! We had five different sorts of Gin...but none of the vital accompanying liquid!

I had to breathe very deeply, and try to clear my head to think of a solution...difficult!

It was Sunday, so no chance of going to the shop to stock up, and it felt dodgy admitting to our neighbours that we wanted a G&T badly enough to gatecrash their fridge and take theirs!

Then the thought of all the weird booze we had bought for Christmas came to mind....
Hmmm, no need to panic....I found a solution - so should you ever be in the same situation -

INDIAN SUMMER (serves 2)

10 raspberries (frozen works)
3 teaspoons of caster sugar
2 teaspoons of creme de rose
100ml Gin
120ml Cranberry juice
crushed ice

Mush it all up with some crushed ice, and serve .... YUMMY! Enjoy...and think of warmer days!

From Douglas Ankrah's fabulous book - "Cocktails"

Friday, 18 January 2008

I have come out of hibernation.

This week I have emerged from hibernation - and if any of you reading this feel like you are still in the winter blues...try the following!

Take a walk round your garden - get inspired by natures effort to 'wake up'! Everything has an air of renewed energy.

Exercise - The other big influence on my feeling 'springy' has been tennis group starting back - thanks Richard!
Getting back into my exercise regime has made me feel much more energetic, albeit rather stiff.

Gee'd back into action by the tennis and even though the rain refuses to give up, I thought I would drag the smelly hound off for a walk. The beautiful valley below us looks very different this week, with the river swollen, it looks dangerously close to bursting it's banks. The water was running very fast, it looked powerful, menacing.

Just as I was enjoying this poetic scene, I noticed the hound wasn't moving- she was stuck up to her armpits in boggy turf, after a pull and a loud squelching noise, we set off home.
The fresh air and rain in my face had made me feel rather invigorated...

...the same can't be said for the hound, who looks as if she would like to go back into hibernation!

Monday, 14 January 2008

It's a dog's life.

I know it's not good to give into 'pester power', but I did!
It all started when No 1 child begged for a Christmas gift for the Dog - (I don't even know if the dog 'has' religion) but it seemed a reasonable enough request...
...until it transpired that the gift in question was winter wardrobe for the hound!

She picked out a 'tasteful' country outfit in brown cord (puffa jacket with brass button detail) and a lightweight jumper to match (with mohair heart detail) - LOVELY!
Even better, the chosen outfit was to be ordered from York......NEW YORK!

So against all better judgement / sanity the aformentioned outfit was duly ordered and shipped Fed Ex...
....the shipping cost more than the outfit (grr, whinge, growl) and guess what?
Well, It may have come from New York's smartest dog boutique, but our hound thought it very "last season" - in order to not be spotted wearing the offending articles...

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Chicken Run

I can't bear to watch Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall's new campaign to stop intensive chicken production - just viewing the trailer was upsetting enough.

Jamie had his campaign about school dinners, many intially mocked - but then came to realise that Jamie was jolly well right.
Hopefully most people will now see that Hugh is right too.

The photo here is of one our hens - all of which have grown naturally (slowly), and when you have raised chickens quite frankly you would never touch an intensively farmed bird again. Seeing hens up close, you realise quite how different they are from those revolting supermarket efforts.
...and we are all to blame, unless we vote with our wallets (shop local or shop more discerningly) the supermarkets will carry on putting these poor birds on their shelves. Let the farmers grow something they are proud of!

While I love being a carnivore, I would rather not eat 'cheap' meat - it comes at too high a price.

So, I'm asking you all if you have any interest in what you put in your mouth (and your childrens) that you take a peek at -

After all, you are what you eat!

Saturday, 5 January 2008

I Have Aged Overnight...

Number 1 child has the Dr Kawashima’s brain training thingy - she insisted that we all take our turn to find out our brain age.....

.....DAY ONE - a brain age of 61, pretty galling as I’m under 40 (just). I couldn’t believe that the little grey cells had got quite so flabby.
I vow to improve, not just because I felt so utterly insulted, but my competitive side got the better of me, and I want to beat my intellectual husband, who usually out computes me in the clever stakes.

.....DAY TWO - what a thrill, I can’t remember what I had for dinner two nights ago, but somehow I have worked out how to play this irritating lump of plastic - and - Ta-Dah! I am now 48! Still ghastly, but ha,ha, - I have beaten the rest of the family by decades - Hurrah! I am invincible!

....DAY THREE - On waking, Number 1 child presents me with cup of tea and the game... apparently she she just done a personal best - I’m under pressure to compete, am half asleep, I am too dozy to refuse.

Oh good grief - I have speed aged overnight - I am now 50!!

There is a television makeover programme called ten years younger - what would they do? ? ? Erm, Surgery, new wardrobe, haircut....

Argh, Panic! Even cosmectic surgery won’t help here! Abandon hope!

Oh well, at least I have proved something.... brain doesn’t function before 11am - and I always knew THAT!

Friday, 4 January 2008


Having had 20 pre Christmas guests, 8 for Christmas and 15 for new year, I could moan about being exhausted and all Christmased out, but I'm jolly well not complaining!

We had a really special Christmas, which has revolved around friends, family and FOOD!

.........A few 'Thank You's' are in order!

After watching Heston Blumenthal cook up his perfect Christmas, the Husband insisted on it snowing - inside the house! so, Thank you Husband, for being such an old romantic, and 'Thank you' Snow Business for coming up with the white stuff!

My favourite florist, Rachel at The Fresh Flower Company aided the look with a forest of giant silver candelabra and huge bowls of floating white roses with jewel encrusted centres - thanks Rachel, it looked gorgeous.

Thank you to Lady B for friendship and glittering truffles!

My bestest pal gave me a super cookery book to add to my collection (Ok, I do know that with 70 recipe books it's now an obsession!). This new tome, entitled "How to feed your friends with RELISH" is right up my galley!
It's author advises that -
serving poncy food doesn't make your friends love you more - hurrah! She advises - Food is love! And I agree!

So, for me, like Heston, this WAS a 'perfect' Christmas, it's not about the gifts, or cooking 'clever' food, it's all about the pleasure of spending time together, and sharing food! Thank you ALL!

All being well, the house is getting rebuilt this year, so this was our last bit of entertaining for a while.....all the more time to dream up something fun for when we finished! By which time I may have finally managed to clear up all that ****** snow!!

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2008.

Thank you Darling, for the 'cashmere tennis balls'!!! xx