Friday, 22 May 2009

I scream, you scream, we all scream, for icecream

Erbie has started screaming, how do I stop that? It’s been 4 days now, I know he’s just finding his voice, but blimey it’s loud, it goes right through you. Little short shrieks at random intervals. We don’t want to shout at him, as that will just be doing what he’s doing, and he’s too young to reason with. The GR has even started mumbling things like ‘never wanted children in the first place…’ in jest, but even so. I think he’s copying the police sirens that wail past at least once a day, as they use this road as a rat run to get to Oxford Street. My mother once said that none of us screamed more than once, but she’s not here to ask quite how she achieved that, darn it. He’s actually been very good today, what with the credit card fiasco, getting keys cut, walking to the letting agents 3 times, getting out of the flat around nap time then tea time to let people view, having to eat sugar puffs for tea cos mummy can’t get any money and hasn’t had time to make anything. Argh! Bloomin’ credit card put my deposit payment through twice, leaving me over my limit and unable to use my card while they sort it out, so maybe Erbie is screaming on my behalf. Resorted to eating Neapolitan icecream straight from the tub.

Now Panic and Freak Out

Says it all really.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

London Womens Institute

The London Women’s Institute has several branches of varying popularity. The Islington branch apparently cannot accept anymore members presently and is rumoured to be running such events as pole dancing classes. We went to the newish Bloomsbury branch who hold their meetings on the first Tuesday of every month in the Upper Vestry Hall of St Georges Church on Little Russell Street. I met Juju outside at 6.30pm and we found our way up the stairs to the hall where 2 ladies were already, another first timer like ourselves and Kate, a veteran WI member, who was very welcoming. Tea and coffee are provided and some ladies bring wine or nibbles to share around. Tonight’s meeting included a talk from Persephone Publishing. The meetings run from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, with the first half hour being more a meet and greet to have a chat and a glass of wine, with a few announcements from Carrie, who is the West End head and then on with the nights programme proper at around 7pm. There is a varied agenda laid out for the coming months, although next weeks was more in the expected vein – making chutney in a microwave. The first meeting is free and then after that it’s a yearly membership of around £30 most of their information is given out via email, so access to a computer is needed. A recent West End WI project is to help Women at the Well, a women only service based in a Kings Cross house to help vulnerable women particularly those who have been trafficked or involved in prostitution.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Best Toy - Stacking/ Nesting Cups

I wanted to get some stacking / nesting cups for Erbie and tried Hamleys to no avail, but then joy of joys was given some, so I can't tell you who made these but they are just one of the best toys for Erbie at the moment. They provide hours of entertainment, he has recently started putting them back inside one another. If you build a tower, it's fun to knock down or we are almost getting him to balance the last one on the top. They are good for learning to count, dexterity, colour matching, they roll, they can dissappear and reappear from inside each other, endless possibilities from such a simple concept, we likey and highly reccommend.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

No Satdee cake - 16th May

Forgot to get a Satdee cake, we walked over to the Brunswick centre, in horrid dusty blustery weather. The London Planes are still losing their fluffy seeds and it catches in the back of my throat, scratches my eyes and tiggles my nose. I got the dates wrong and thought it was the Brunswick Fête, but it was just the normal market. We turned back the first time at the British Museum when we came upon an anti Gaza march being tightly patrolled by police, for fear of kettling.
So here is a picture of a mug of tea at Juju's flat. And the lovely coral peony and blue delphinium The GR bought for me in the week.

I love the West End in the morning

Poocident in the night - so have just been to Goodge Street Tesco for emergency nappies, thankfully it opens at 6am. The West End always makes me smile early in the mornings, all clean, shiny and empty, eager office girls on their way to work waft past smelling of toothpaste and perfume. Deliveries sit boxed up outside restaurants, eggs, milk and bread usually. There’s hardly any traffic. By 9am, brass is being polished, café tables and chairs are starting to fill up. I’m amazed by the amount of man bags out there, there is now constant noise the clop clop of heels, buzz of mopeds and drone of taxis, then at just gone 9.30am it quietens down again, but not for long.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Down and out in Noho

There is a recognisable fraternity of street people in the neighbourhood, a core of about 7 with newbies coming and going, one of the new guys on the street has a collection of trolleys. He started off with one, very US of A that to have a trolley, anyway, now he’s up to 6. They are braced together like cattle and he moves them two at a time from position to position. They are stuffed with bags, big blue Ikea bags, a small new looking green rucksack, 2 black computer bags, amongst various others, all strapped in with bicycle bungees. In the front of one sits a bottle of vodka and an apple juice. Hanging from the sides there are numerous different branded recycled cloth bags, and an umbrella. He’s a big man, around six foot, tanned with a trim beard and cropped grey hair, he wears blue jeans, timberlands and a bright orange T-shirt over a beige jumper, giving him the whiff of a Canadian lumberjack. He drinks vodka, neat, self medicating in small shots throughout the day. He has numerous files and paperwork, that he flicks through every now again studiously. He went into CEX yesterday and came out with cash. He seems harmless enough and wanders around in his own world, checking his belongings, whether they are found or kleptomaniaced I wouldn’t like to say. Most gentleman of the street don’t look well and they are small, shrunken by abuse of one sort or another, darting from one place to the next. This man is conspicuous in his nonchalance and bear-like robustness. Another who we call ‘the suspicious character’ looks like an Inca and has shiny black shoulder length hair. He is always smoking and has taken to hanging out in the big pub, now that it has a new landlord, which is off putting, we think he may be a gambler. The man who sits outside Tesco on Goodge street with his dog, is friendly, occasionally has the Big Issue to sell, and can be caught texting on his mobile, he moves over to the Tesco outside Russell Square station at the more lucrative commuter times. They can ask you for change for years and still not recognise you, we say hello to the hat man who wanders up and down Charlotte Street, he knows us cos we have a baby now, not so common in town. He’s pleasant enough, he’s just swapped from his winter woollen hat for a baseball cap he’s looking older and pale in the sunshine. We passed him the other day and he pointed out Dom off the telly to us, how does he know what he looks like!! The rest are young, weasely, lost souls desperate for the next fix to escape from reality. I saw one actually in a queue at the post office once, he’d cleaned up his act and got a job in an office post room and probably somewhere to live, that lasted about a month, I mean really, for him, what’s gonna be more fun, doing drugs with your friends or getting up early and being a dogsbody for a bunch of strangers everyday. There used to be a girl too, came around every night and hassled the pub punters for change, but they gave her an ASBO. Then there was Alex, who used to get a bit shouty after a fix, he should probably have been on serious medication, we would hear him bellowing from the corner, arguing with the voices in his head. You see them turn up to London, city of hope, and you see them crumble, fall in with the wrong people, get into a destructive cycle. They were all babies once, probably unloved and abused, and now their self belief is so low as to be non existent. I met a beautiful girl called Colette once who used to sleep outside the Dominion, she’s long gone now. She told me she took too much acid and one day the mirror broke and she couldn’t put the pieces back together again. Of course she came from a broken home, daddy thought she was too pretty in those little shorts, and then there was a violent marriage with a biker. Her most treasured possession was a metal tin of rolling tobacco.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Where does the Bard overlook the sad Clown...

'It would make a great treasure hunt riddle'. I smiled at the GR
'Oh do shut up' he repiled.

Leicester Field (later known as Leicester Square) has been common land since King Charles I reign.
Name all 6 statues in Leicester Square? Did you even know there were 6 statues in Leicester Square?

1. William Shakespeare on top of the central fountain, this is a duplicate of the memorial in Westminster Abbey's Poets' Corner.

The Square's four corner gates each have a statue of a prominent former resident:
2. Sir Isaac Newton (scientist).
3. Sir Joshua Reynolds (painter and first President of the Royal Academy)
4. Dr. John Hunter (surgeon and scientist), and founder of the Hunterian Museum in Lincoln's Inn Fields
5. William Hogarth (painter).

6. Charlie Chaplin installed in 1981.

Moving, shaking, cleaning

Our paperwork was accepted today, well the guarantor's paperwork, so now we wait for the contracts to be drawn up, and then have to find the deposit, while we cross our fingers for the deposit back from this property. I've been cleaning with baby wipes again, under the kitchen cupboards, and various sections of skirting board. We also peered in the storage space today and decided the 9 year old computer with half a gigabyte of memory can go as can the threadbare flying jacket, that has been sat in there with a broken zip for 3 years.


I've been trying to wean myself off Ella's Kitchen. Erbie loves them so, I think it's more the control element than the contents that he particulary likes. Did I mention the heated debate between the Belle Mere and I the other day over a cupboard. Well, it required my laying out a shelf module in newspapers on the side and forgetting Erbie was clutching a spinach Ella's pouch. Everywhere, and I mean everywhere, all over him, all over the floor, highchair, radiator, clean neatly folded washing, window, white wall. I decided enough was enough and that perhaps he should be getting some more texture in his life other than toast and rice cakes, so the past 2 days I've offered him: cous cous with dried apricot and salmon in apple juice, which the poor blighter actually ate, and today, pasta stars with pepperonata, not so well recieved.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Not only in the Sally Army

More lovely stuff from Frank in Whitstable. These tambourines are hand painted by Claire Fletcher, and available on the website at £29.00 each. They may be too nice too give to children.

Blue Bears

Adorable handmade denim teddy bears by Lorna Ryan, these BarbarabearoBears are unique, made from recycled demin each one has a character of it's own. Available online from Frank.

Frank Design Shop Whitstable

N showed me this gorgeous shop on Harbour Street, Frank, a space for British Designers, it had a line of knitted blackbirds sitting in the window. Click on the title link to get to their website. The shop was full of gorgeousness from denim teddy bears, handmade cards, badges and artwork. A cute garden outback revealed more treasures, pebble wreaths and painted stones - in a good way. I love the little succulents planted in an assortment of 70's cups and saucers.

Crabbing in Whitstable

We took the children crabbing, it turns out my two sister hostesses are a dab hand at crabbing. I spent hours as a child in Mudeford with a bucket of water, crouched peering into pools under the groynes trying to catch weeny crabs, andnever catching a one sir. Turns out I was doing it all wrong, the secret is bacon. Yes bacon, a piece of raw bacon on a line hung over the side of a groyne, the crabs were throwing themselves at us. N caught 5 within as many minutes and big ones too. Of course we put them back, watching them scuttle back in with the waves, but with a lovely sense of acheivement that I’d never encountered crabbing as a child. They were paid 5p for every crab caught by their granny so had become well practiced. I sat Erbie on the pebbles for a while and he was very contented but I didn’t want to explain to a doctor why my baby had swallowed three pebbles, so he mostly stayed strapped to me in the Baby Bjorn.

Satdee Cake 9th May 2009

Homemade Victoria sponge and a mug of tea in the quaint gardens of the Shrubbery on Tanketon Slopes. A true slice of Britishness, a garden and tea served by 2 ladies from a little caravan at the back, with views of the sea and on a clear day Southend, and a choice of homemade cakes. The trays have all been painted with varying shades of green emulsion, look at it, fabulous.

Tea in Tankerton

We arrived in Whitstable in time for breakfast at the Seaview café on Tankerton Slopes. One of the cafes on my list to try from Egg Bacon Chips and Beans by Russell M. Davies. I had egg, beans and toast, great doorstops of buttery unctious loveliness, with a good mug of tea sat outside with dogs playing, children giggling and old folks, very english seaside. There are wonderful painted beach huts along the front, reputed to be going for around £25,000 a piece, laughable, but not as laughable as the Bournemouth ones which are rumoured to fetch £80,000! Ridiculous since you’re not even allowed to spend the night in them, but oh so desirable, I’d snap one up in a trice if I had the opportunity.

Weekend in Whitstable

An offer arose for a night in Whitstable, and a lift too, so Erbie and I went to meet new children and have a day by the seaside. Although the journey started with a bit of a mix-up, I arived at the door while my lift awaited me at Finsbury Park tube, we eventually co-ordinated fitting the car seat into the smaller less comfy Ka, the seatbelt in the Mercedes just wouldn’t go round, Lily the dog strapped in the front, we set off.
I was a little apprehensive as when we visit the piggy twins Erbie spends most of his time crying, as do they, well my fears were totally unfounded and a happy time was spent by all playing together in a new gorgeous garden, ladies weeding in straw hats and trying to sound knowledgeable about plant names, children hiding in Habitat tents and eating grass, no tears. More friends with children arrived and we had a BBQ, I neglected to mention I’d lost my vegetarianity before we got there, so some lovely sea bass was presented aswell as king prawns and sausages – yey.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Vintage books :: Present and Correct

A sample of Vintage books for sale at presentandcorrect
I love Push Pull, Empty Full - black and white photographs a page a peice of opposites, like night and day, which has an image of a cityscape on each page and a single word. I'd like to have a go at recreating this book.

First baked beans and blueberries mmmmmm

Erbie ate blueberries for the first time yesterday, munched them up with his lips pursed in a most adorable way at breakfast, mummy likes them too, so they've all gone. I've also discovered he'll eat a satsuma if I peel half of it and give him the whole thing, he then sucks out one side, his chewing motion is really working.

I gave him baked beans for the first time today, no that's a lie, I've tried to give him baked beans before but he has point blank refused them up until today when I offered them one at a time, cold on a spoon, straight from the tin, mummy is a slut. I think he ate about 7.

Baked beans always remind me of the film Casablanca, which The GR and I have watched countless times. There is a line in it where Rick is talking to Ilsa and says something about his life not amounting to a hill of beans, and I piped up with 'mmmmm beans', in a Homer Simpson like manner making The GR pontificate on how one of the most romantic films in history had been reduced to a reference to baked beans.

Nearly, nearly, nearly crawling

Eight months and two weeks old and the duvet on the floor no longer contains Erbies movements for longer than a minute. He's realised that the stackable plastic cups also roll rather well on the beautiful wooden flooring. They usually roll quite well underneath the many knobbled table legs and towards the eye pokingly sharp black slate fireplace, not to mention the beautiful angular chrome and wood skirting in the other direction. So basically I can't take my eyes off him for a minute, now I'm thankful for the open plan kitcshroom.

After watching him rolling his cups, I bought him 2 tiny metal cars today, completely inappropriate but one was silver with stripes over the bonnet and the other a lovely deep orange with the number 33 in beautiful type on its roof. needless to say The GR quite rightly confiscated them.

Another completely inappropriate thing I did was put a pillow in his cot, I know, I know, I've read all about the wrongness of it, but he looks so contented when he nustles down into it, and as he's still not sleeping for longer than 3 hour stretches. As to that, I'm thinking he might be hungry. All these vegetables and rice cakes are well and good but I think the little lamb could do with a nice juicy steak.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Meme from BelgianWaffling - stuff.

1. Are you a male or female:
Fe-male. Very female, I was such a tomboy as a kid, I got mistaken for a boy all the time. On a beach once, a football slapped me full in the face and I cried, a man told me to stop being such a baby. My mum had to say ‘she’s a girl’. I don’t cry much anymore.

2. Describe yourself:
I’m a bitch, who’s actually a nice person. Rather than a nice person who turns out to be a bitch. And blonde, definitely blonde. Kind of an only child but with 2 sisters and a brother. I was the ‘too much drink at Christmas’ September baby, 10 years later.

3. How do you feel about yourself:
I’m a passenger not a driver, a lazy opinated backseat driver.

4. Describe your parents:
Mum: Mother nuture. Animal mad, always had a dog, a cat, chickens, interspersed with guinea pigs, rabbits, fish, mice (that was me), once actually smuggled a stick insect back from Tresco that she kept in the kitchen. Never raised her voice. Cycled everywhere, painted a bit, knew the names of all the english flora and fauna, secretary to the Natural History Society. Died of a heart attack aged 75, the day after a doctor sent her home with indigestion. Still got a stone in my chest about that.

Father: Died in a car crash when I was three, daft bugger missed a corner and drove through a wall, left my mum to bring up 4 kids alone. She never remarried. Remember big woolen jumpers, and being swung upside down.

5. Describe your ex boyfriend/girlfriends:
First boyfriend at five, Steve Hall he had a moustache by the age of ten I swear.

Andy, 13-16 years. Local millionaire’s son, saw me from school bus window and rang my house. My sister answered and teased me, ‘ But I don’t know any boys’ I protested. He put me on a pedestal, from which I was far too eager to fall, frustration all round, no sex.

Julian, Vegetarian, Yorkshire man with long curly hair, art college, 5 years. Then he shaved his head, started smoking and eating meat and getting fat – he changed.

6. Describe your current boy/girl situation:
The Guardian Reader. Love of my life, father of my boy. As he says ‘I’m not married but the wife is’ People kept asking if we knew one another at parties in North London, then we met. Thought he was far too good looking for me, and insisted on a platonic relationship. Used to make him and his conquests cups of tea in the morning. Twin of badness, and much fun. It was our 13th year anniversary this March.

7. Describe your current location:
Laptop at mum’s table, our rented West end pad, silent apart from keyboard, the TV’s gone into standby. Wearing The Guardian Reader’s top as I feel poorly, he’s out working. No lights on, it’s 8.20pm.

8. Feeling better. A Greek island, skin tinged with salt and sun, a balmy breeze, brown toes.

9. Your best friend(s) is/are:
Two are from school and are true and loyal.
Two are from teens and are meedy (insecure and self absorbed, but I love them).

10. Your favourite colour is:
Pink, Turquoise, Wedgewood blue - there are too many.

11. You know that:
Of course I do.

12. If your life was a television show what would it be called:
Absolutely secondhand or No Sex in the City, hopefully only running for one season.

13. What is life to you:
Precious and short and something that should be enjoyed.

14. What is the best advice you have to give:
If in doubt of what to wear.
Wear what you had on the day before.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Things that give The Guardian Reader (The GR) the creeps

1. ‘Antiques Roadshow’ Can you believe the Antique’s Roadshow is one of the few things we argue about. Thankfully the season has ended for the Summer, Sunday evenings were getting to be a touch fraught. Whatever he’d been up to during the day, he’d always seem to come to an end just as it was about to start. This involved much sighing, scoffing, and saying of: ‘this really gives me the creeps’. I, knowing this was about to happen, would wind myself up and snap something back, like ‘it’s the only thing I watch, for Gods sake, can’t you let me do it in peace’, row ensuing. I’d even taken to serepticiously watching it on mute, with subtitles, while he was on the computer, but it just wasn’t the same not hearing Geoffrey Munn’s nasal delight at revealing a jewels secret love message. I’ve seen Geoffery Munn twice ni the flesh, once on the Southbank, he jogged passed and we made eye contact, oh yes we did. And I’m ashamed to confess, for a second time (BelgianWaffling has already given me penance) to following him and his trolley around John Lewis FoodHall. Oh, don’t worry, I’ve been through the jewellery box, natch.
2. Radio 4
3. candlesticks, florals (other than men’s shirts), teacups, cushions, pinnys (worn over clothes), anything from Kath Kidston really.
7. crochet, knitting, craft in general.
8. homemade stuff in a jar – chutney, chilli jam, (he’s the one missing out on my sisters peach marmalade)
9. homemade bread, cakes, muffins. Although I have to admit he does eat mine. I’ve tasted the Belle Mere’s and there is a certain je ne sais quoi about them that could have quite easily led to his wariness.

In fact I think everything from 2 down could be attributed to his mother. My mother on the other hand was a big softy and spoilt me rotten. We listened to Radio 1 in the kitchen on Sundays, the chartshow with Jimmy Saville where they picked a year like say 1968, I think probably more my choice than hers, but hey you never know. I revised to Steve Wright in the afternoon, and learnt the lyrics to many new songs by taping Annie Nightingale. I even heard Relax by Frankie goes to Hollywood before they banned it. Ooooh Gary Davies, ooooh Gary Davies. Oh dear.

Reasons I’m excited to be moving across the street

1. There’s a carpet and hardly any sharp designer corners, which will be fab for Erbie to learn to crawl / walk.
2. There is a whole separate kitchen, all be it small, where I can close the door and bake cakes then wipe up my own flour trails, listen to Radio 4 (see things that give the GR the creeps), and grow herbs on the windowsill, without having to listen to hurmphing and tutting everytime the window is opened.
3. The bedroom is not separated from the living area by a mere sliding door, but by a small distance of hallway and two whole fully closing noise reducing doors, Lavinia may well come and stay if she turns up, not that she is noisy, but well, you get my drift.
4. Did you get already the Westminster council tax. Half price, we’ll be paying half as much, HALF as much.

Satdee cake 2nd May 2009

Yauatcha :: chocolate praline cake with gold leaf.
Good texture cake, nice laticework on the sides, tasty, and shareable.
Don't even think about taking photos inside, some of the cakes look amazing but that may well be as far as it goes, however I've not been dissappoonted so far.
Of couse one should really come here for dim sum, but that's not cake.

15-17 Broadwick Street
Soho, London W1F 0DL
Tel: 020 7494 8888

Moving to Westminster.

I may have mentioned before, but a couple of weekends ago three of the nine flats over the road emptied out. We have been half looking for another flat, either bigger, or cheaper, with a carpet, with a separate kitchen, QUIETER, possibly with outdoor space, possibly with a second bedroom, still in W1. Ha ha you may think, well today we saw the flat over the road and it’s lovely, ticks 3 of the boxes, the main one being it’s cheaper, the second main one being it’s quieter –how can that be you ask, two words I tell you, double and glazing. It even has spectacular vistas for working-at-homers to stare out of the window at. All working from home should involve some form of staring. It’s on a corner and one way looks clear to the post office tower, who we love, and the other down a very pretty tree lined road. AND we can see not one, not two, not three but four whole public houses from the sitting room window, think of all that people watching. Think of all that noise you may say. Nothing wrong with pub noise, we say, we likey. Also, although it is only on the otherside of the street, it is in Westminster, which is one of the cheapest council tax boroughs in London, our bill would be halved. The rent is also cheaper, why should this be, apparently no one wants to live in carpeted flats anymore, everyone has allergies, (less said soonest mended). The GR did say, what if we decide to take it and the small person can’t live with a carpet? So, cheaper, quieter, separate kitchen, more distance between the bedroom and living room, did I say Westminster already, and just over the road. Will we get laughed at for moving over the road? We didn’t when we did it 3 years ago, but that’s another story.
We’re moving. We’ve given a months notice on our current flat, and managed to get the flat over the road, for £20 cheaper per week than it was on the market, we’re very excited. Now it’s down to MARAS credit checks, which cost £50 a pop, and we know we’ll fail miserably, then we’ll get a guarantor, then things can start moving. Much to do and a good opportunity to sort through the wardrobe, and have a good old clear out. Do I really need to keep that green dress I wore last Summer when I was pregnant? But I love it. It’s enormous. I could take it in.
A new guy has moved in downstairs with rafts of stuff, french – Renaud, from now on to be referred to as the fox, and quite a fox he is too, sadly bats for the away team.
The people with the shop in the basement have bought a flat in Acton, so will probably move the drum kit out there, oh well!

The BFI archive library from our bedroom window.

Other nonsense

Quote of the day

‘They tuck you up your mum and dad...’
Anon - after Larkin

“Philately will get you everywhere”

“It’s not the despair, I can handle the despair. 
It’s the hope I can’t deal with”

“Each new friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
Anais Nin

‘Come on Dover move your bloomin’ arse’.
Eliza Doolittle