28 September 2006

If you go down to the woods today

and you're one you'll (a) fall asleep while trundling through all the scenic bits (b) develop a fascination for pine needles and (c) discover that cream cheese sandwiches taste a bit rubbish once they've been dipped in soil. Marvellous thing, an education.

Actually, Chopwell Woods were rather fine. Lots of huge pine trees, many badly signposted paths and trails, the odd grey squirrel or two (boo hiss) and ridiculous numbers of mushrooms and toadstools. We racketed along with the pushchair, had a picnic and plodged about in the grass looking at bark, dandelions and gravel (an essential thing for any of M's outings - she's now well into the gravel and twig phase). Bring on the leaf prints and collecting pine cones. I'm ready.

24 September 2006

Bella italia

At the grand old age of one, M has learned one of life's essential skills - how to flirt with waiters. In fact, she's verging on the shameful. Friday saw us in Caffe Zonzo for lunch, and she spent most of the hour or so we were there pulling faces at one of the Italian waiters. Mind, she might have blotted her copybook by smearing cream cheese sandwiches all over the table and hurling a plum to the floor with such force that it smashed in two. We might have to work on the table manners.

21 September 2006

Bally hoo

I now know what it feels like to be eight years old again. I was standing in the middle of a ballet class at Dance City this evening when the instructor started talking about port des bras, and I was whisked back to Mrs Meyer's dancing classes, complete with mad pianist and bird cages. I must have done ballet from the age of about five to maybe nine or ten (Girl Guides and then swimming took over), and somehow managed to get through to about Grade 3, despite being very rotund in a pale blue leotard and not at all ballerina-ish. It all took place in a giant shed in the bottom of Mrs Meyer's garden, which smelled of old shoes and sweaty feet, and had a floor that moved up and down as lots of little girls pranced about. I remember plies, jetes, port des bras and all sorts of foreign words that sounded impossibly exotic.

Dance City didn't smell. And the floor didn't move about at all. The words were no less exotic, but I discovered I am nowhere near as flexible as I was age eight (even if I'm a lot less rotund now).

17 September 2006

Words that really bug me (part 1)

"Fashionista" and "on trend"

Yes, I've been suckered into reading Grazia again. It's one of my guilty pleasures - a good cappuccino and a trashy mag. But if I have to read about "fashionistas" one more time I'll scream. I can put up with the fact that the clothes are never ever going to be in my affordable bracket (until they start featuring the St Oswald's Hospice Shop and Tesco), but the language stinks.

Rant over.

14 September 2006

Are we nearly there yet?

In a fit of independence, I took myself off to see Little Miss Sunshine last night. I'm not the world's biggest fan of road movies usually - maybe it's because I get so bored when I'm travelling in the car - but this one had pace, style and wit, and some gorgeous cinematography. Not the picture postcard stuff you usually see (Grand Canyon anyone?), but some atmospheric shots of roadside America, including some run-down gas stations, flyovers and 1960s motels. They just don't build them the same way over here, and anyway the light is totally different. You can't really make anything roadside and English look atmospheric unless you shoot it at night, which gives it a particularly wintry feel.

Returning to real life today involved a singing session in leafy Jesmond, full of proper YMs who arrived in their 4x4s with children named Sonny and Felix, and then proceeded to talk all the way through the songs. If you're going to subject your child to 'Down in the jungle' et al complete with silly actions I always think the least you can do is join in. It's only fair.

11 September 2006

Sunshine and showers

Having spent the afternoon wafting about in the sunshine eating ice cream I can thoroughly recommend this not-working-and-looking-after-child malarky. M was angelic, the Newcastle Quayside looked all hip and cosmopolitan in the sun, and pistachio and mocha was a great combination. Of course it's pissing it down now (with scary thunder and lightening and everything), and I've just looked at my bank balance and realised I can never afford another ice cream ever again. Typical.

In other news, Connie, Siobhan and Helena through to the final. Two out of three ain't bad. Of course I'm only watching it because M loves it. Mind, she's got absolutely no taste - the first thing she ever took notice of on telly was Brucie doing Strictly Come Dancing...

06 September 2006

Happy Birthday

M was one on Monday, so it's the end of an era. Now that she's attempting to walk around, I am the proud mother of a toddler. Eek. It doesn't seem like two minutes since she was lying there, yelling fit to burst because she'd not had any food for all of oooh, two minutes. We looked back at some early footage recently, and it was terrifying. She didn't do anything apart from sleep, feed and yell. And we were still so proud of her.

Anyway, at the risk of being completely pretentious, we took her to a sushi bar for her birthday party. The expensive rice, seaweed and raw fish zipped round on a conveyor belt, we attempted to feed it to her, and like the sensible lass she is, she insisted on eating a banana. Followed by birthday cake (she definitely takes after Grandpa in her cake-eating habits. He's been known to lurk in the kitchen snaffling chocolate bars and almond slices long after everyone has gone to bed).

I failed to make a-grand-birthday-cake-with-something-marvellous-on, and instead went for the fairy cake, icing and cherry option for everyone, which turned out to be much easier. Very satisfying to bake, and they did look rather good lined up, all 14 of them. M's had one tiny candle on, which looked good, but it was a good thing that she wasn't any older, as I'd had to dredge it up from the bottom of the baking drawer, and it was definitely the last one. And the restaurant staff even dimmed the lights, bless them, so we could light it and sing Happy Birthday. M just looked a bit bemused by it all, and then stuffed cake into her mouth with gay abandon. That's my girl.

01 September 2006

Hunt the polo-shaped bread object

M and I went on a bagel-hunt this morning, but came back empty handed. About 10 minutes' walk away is Gateshead's Jewish area, with lots of Kosher shops, including a greengrocers, a disposable plate shop and a bakery/delicatessen. I was hoping there might be a proper bagel or two to be found, but sadly there were none - it occurred to me later that I might have better luck on another day, as the bakery was chock full of challah bread (try saying that quickly!). It was delicious, but not quite what we were after.

The rest of the day was taken up with the educational pursuits of (a) tidying up (b) hanging out the washing and (c) tidying up. Sometimes I worry that I'm not exactly doing the most earth-shattering stuff with M, but then I think it can't be all-singing, all-dancing all of the time, or I'll go insane. I'm insane enough as it is already, having spent several minutes today pulling animals out of Noah's ark and making the noises (though I'm a bit stumped by the giraffe, so if anyone's got any ideas then do let me know). M now shouts "duck" at anything remotely duck-shaped, "twoo-whit-twoo-whooo" at owls, and moos at cows. I'm working on "mint sauce" and sheep, but not getting very far.