30 August 2006

Brassed off

We've just taken M to her first gig - the Youngblood Brass Band, who were bizarrely playing at the DLI museum in Durham. Well, not inside the museum as such, but in the grounds outside, with a lovely backdrop of the 1960s concrete delight that is County Hall. M was supposed to be asleep, mummified in several layers of blankets in her pushchair, but of course woke up and wanted to boogie.

To be fair, the rap bits were quite loud. And not quite what many in the audience had been expecting - from the deckchairs and silvery hair I suspect that a fair few of them had been expecting to hear a slightly more conventional brass band. They seemed to enjoy it though, especially the New Orleans-y bits, which were probably my favourite too, to be honest. The more punky rap stuff, while interesting, is a bit shouty and doesn't really hit it with my pop sensibilities. Mind, the band did a great job explaining to the oldies and me where their influences came from, and how it was all like performance poetry, man.

29 August 2006

A recipe for disaster

  1. Try to make kedgeree for tea for wife and parents, who have spent all afternoon slaving away in the garden chopping down evil spiky conifers.
  2. Boil eggs, cook rice/fish etc, using materials prepared by outstanding sous chef/wife.
  3. Place lightly steaming smoked haddock on a plate.
  4. Put tight-fitting saucepan lid on the top, to keep the heat in.
  5. Leave for a while, whilst you finish off cooking the rest of the rice.
  6. Attempt to wrestle lid off plate, using a combination of tea towels, mallets, screwdrivers, hot water, brute force and rude words.
  7. Try to ignore hysterical laughter.

Eventually, the plate saw sense and collapsed under the pressure. The kedgeree tasted fine, once we'd picked out a couple of bits of china...

27 August 2006


I can't quite believe it, but I think I've become addicted to 'How do you solve a problem like Maria'. As a book-loving time-starved YM, I don't normally have the time to watch reality tv shows, but this one's got me hooked. Maybe it's the sparkly dresses and the pretty lights (those are definitely the bits M likes), or maybe it's the sheer delight of watching Andrew Lloyd Webber trying not to show exactly what he's thinking the whole time (he'd be such a terrible poker player). Or maybe it's just that I was in the Sound of Music at school (Sister Margaretha, since you ask, and yes the costumes were horrible and yes we did wear fishnet stockings underneath) and have a soft spot for it. Whatever it is, I'm there on the sofa on a Saturday evening, glued to the telly. Who's going to win? Connie of course. Although Abi, Siobhan and Leanne will probably give her a run for her money. I'll get back to you with the results in a couple of weeks, once I've finished trying to get 'High on a hill stood a lonely goatherd' out of my head...

In other news, made bara brith yesterday for the first time, and it seems to have turned out ok, despite me forgetting to put any sugar in. Mind, I'm not remotely Welsh (a funny mixture of English, Polish and Irish in fact), or a tea bread connoisseur so it could have been way off for all I know.

23 August 2006


Having blithely claimed to my friend Kate today that "oh, I haven't bought any new clothes in two years", I've realised that it's a complete load of rubbish. I reckon I can cheerfully ignore the things I bought while pregnant, as they're not exactly things I'll wear again day-to-day, so that takes care of at least a year (trust me, even when you've had a baby you still have to wear 'maternity wear' for a while). But if you take 2006 onwards, I've bought (in no particular order)

  • a pair of blue sandals by art (£65, and the most comfortable shoes I've ever bought)
  • a black La Perla bra set (£20 instead of £80 in the sale at Fenwicks - bargain!)
  • a yellow t-shirt (can't remember the brand, but it was a TKMaxx bargain for £12)
  • a blue sleeveless t-shirt (TU at Sainsburys, £2.50)
  • a brown t-shirt (Tesco, £4)
  • a gorgeous brown cardigan (antoni and alison in the department store - one of Debenham's weird designer brands, and another bargain at £20)
  • a pair of second-hand jeans (Top Shop, but £4 from the Scope shop in Gosforth)

Oh well. Not exactly fashion-leading is it? This whole trend for skinny jeans has passed me by, obviously, as has the whole 80s kick (I was there the first time round and it wasn't any better then, trust me). But I probably score reasonably well on the bargain hunting bit.

21 August 2006

She sells seashells on the seashore

Having spent yesterday plodging about on Long Sands beach at Tynemouth with R and M, I can now see why people with children go on beach holidays. M is fascinated with (a) sand and (b) waves, so it was a top day out. She's also discovered the delights of paddling, chasing the waves in and out while grinning like a loon. The only downside is that it's me that has to keep her company in the freezing cold North Sea, as her dad is even more of a wuss than I am. I refuse to go any further than ankle-depth without a full wetsuit, so her experience of swimming in the sea might be a little on the limited side until we can find one that's a bit warmer...

I'd forgotten all about the delights of sandcastles too. We have a rather natty red bucket and spade set that R was given for his 30th birthday, so it finally put in an appearance. It's a proper castle bucket, with turrets, crenellations, a main door and steps. Quite posh really. You almost expect Archie to come popping out with some mad invention.

17 August 2006

Ear Ear

I realised today that I might need to broaden M's listening experience during the daytime. I'm a Radio 4 addict (as an ex-journalist it goes with the territory), so she gets the Today programme at breakfast time (Farming Today on Saturday, maybe Broadcasting House on Sunday), You and Yours and the World at One at lunchtime, and PM with Eddie Mair at teatime. If she doesn't grow up to be a news junkie, it's not for lack of trying. And if she's very good, there might be a bit of Vernon Kay or Jonathan Ross at weekends. Poor lass. What with that and A-ha in the car, she's got no hope.

16 August 2006

Speedy Gonzalez

Have discovered it's very hard to maintain your YM status whilst crawling round the living room on all fours at top speed, chased by a hysterically cackling child. It's also rather difficult to do in a skirt.

Sometimes I wonder what I've done with my day, apart from wash up, and feed and change M. It's hard when you've been used to achieving lots at work, and been good at demolishing large to-do lists. And then I remember the cackling, and the huge grin whilst splashing at the swimming pool, and the wide eyes when trying a raspberry and strawberry smoothie for the first time. To-do lists are so last year, sweetie.

12 August 2006


Goodness. You take your eye off the ball for a couple of minutes, only to discover that you've been in hiding for a whole two months, James kissed Patroclus, and grey is again the new black. The cat ate my laptop. Honest.

Actually, it's been more to do with the fact that R, M and I moved house. Boxes. Boxes. Boxes. That's all I can say. My life was taken over by evil boxes. Hundreds of 'em. Most filled with VERY HEAVY BOOKS. But thankfully, normality has resumed. There are no more dastardly boxes, sitting mocking me from the corner of the room (apart from a few in the garage which are nearly empty. Oh, and those ones in the wardrobes in the spare room, but as they mostly contain R's classic car magazines they'll be ok for a while yet). I now have a whole new house and garden to play with. Yay! Oh the potential for baking cakes, planting vegetables, decorating Christmas treees...oh god it's all starting to sound rather Martha Stewart, isn't it. I do have a life, honest.

And to prove it, I even had a morning to myself today. It included an educational experience (the bus trip into Newcastle, through some of Gateshead's finer architecture...), a little light shopping (Fenwick's sale), a lot of window shopping (much sighing over gorgeous jumpers by Sita Murt in Fenwick's French Salon, and the realisation that self-employment, a small baby and cashmere do not mix) and a very civilised cappuccino and Guardian-reading experience at Intermezzo. Roll on the delights of next Saturday.