Wednesday, 26 September 2007


Or however you spell it -- I know how you say it. Spellings for some of those vocalisations are very weird: I was quite old before I connected 'tut tut' and the tongue-clicking sound, or 'ahem' with throat-clearing. Presumably, the way these end up written is by some kind of implicit consensus.

(Anyway: oh-oh. Sasha has discovered the compost bin as a handy source of tasty, partially decomposed snacks. I turn away for thirty seconds and the child will be sitting in a heap of yesterday's cold pilau rice, ancient banana skins, and week-old peelings, tucking in with gusto. I prised a tiny hand off a cold tea-bag as it approached the ever-gaping maw. Bleargh. How d'you spell that?)

Thursday, 13 September 2007

There's glory for you!

Glory be. Sasha has finally started having an afternoon nap, just as normal babies do. For two days it was twelve-thirty to two-thirty, then just as I was getting complacent it was summarily changed to one-thirty to two-thirty plus half an hour of screaming. Today, it's been an hour since four-thirty. So not exactly Gina Ford, but fab nonetheless. Finally I can type with both hands and have semi-coherent thoughts.

I have finally repaired the bathroom door handle so that the door can be firmly shut. This is so that certain people cannot have the fun of dropping things down the toilet, including brand-new toilet rolls (docked from future pocket money! You have been warned!!) and their sister's toothbrush (rinsed and replaced -- she'll never know...)

Forgot to add to my book list a novel by Lynne Truss, Tennyson's Gift. Like her other two novels (and incidentally I do wish that people would stop writing 'as with' in that formulation -- it's no less wrong (or informal, I should say) than 'like' is, but it sounds stupid), Going Loco and With One Lousy Free Packet of Seed, this was a comic romp that teetered of the verge of being very silly indeed but was redeemed by thoughtful characterisation. Golly, that sounded poncey. The other two had plots that got really preposterous, and then there was a twist that made sense of it all -- cleverly done. TG was also stuffed full of quotations from Alice, which is always a good thing. I read some crummy piece of journalism the other day (I've had some free subscriptions to women's magazines, and boy there's some dross out there) by some idiot woman who thought the White Queen went around saying "Off with his head!". Not only the wrong character -- it's the wrong bloody book. Gah! And where was the sub-editor? Double gah!

Truss also had an interesting take on Dodgson (that's Charles Lutwidge, who translated his first two names into Latin and switched them around to make his pen-name, Lewis Carroll), which I much appreciated. While depicting him as extremely eccentric, and his relations with little girls as rather peculiar, she didn't have him pegged as an outright paedophile. I was pleased about this, as it seems to me to be an essentially modern interpretation of his behaviour, and one that doesn't allow for the notion of innocence, or of a strict morality that would know just what boundaries could not be crossed. I also think that some people are genuinely asexual. And that Dodgson was one of them.

Bother -- screams from above. Unless it's someone else's baby, in the High Street. Many books say that the Mother can recognise her Own Child. They are wrong. Sometimes I can't even tell whether it's Sasha or the cat.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Oh, nuts!

So much for a diet diary. So far, my circumference before breakfast has not once been as little it was on the day I started eating less. Bah! A plague on slimming. I have even eaten some of my midget gems, so there. A didn't believe I could distinguish one from another, so we did a blind tasting test and he has had to eat his words. It took me one gem to attune my palate, and then I was almost infallible. Green ones are the easiest.

Hot news on the Sasha front -- we have babbling! We went for our eight-month checkup last week and as the doctor pointed out, not going till you're ten months old is a good way to pass. But then she asked if Sasha was saying dadada and bababa and I had to say that the only sound the child makes (excluding screams, of course) is "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah". Fabulous breath control, but you couldn't call it babbling. Then yesterday we had an "App....rrrrr" (that's the first bit of 'apple' followed by a raspberry) and suddenly we're babble central. Lots of silly noises too -- it's a shame English doesn't have raspberries in, really.

We are also very concerned about our hair. We fuss with it while we're breastfeeding, to make sure it's tidy. then this morning we got a lot of butter on our mitts and tried a bit of styling. We've chosen the mad professor look.

Monday, 3 September 2007


Very well, then. I have grown out of all but my two most elasticated pairs of trousers, so it really is time to lose some girth (I can't lose weight as there aren't any scales here). My friend N told me very firmly that I was Not To Diet while I was breastfeeding, so this will just be an attempt to eat more healthily and get more exercise. Perhaps I should keep a food diary? Would that be too dull? Would it stop me eating the odd handful of midget gems? (Such a pain that I have just discovered the perfect gems: Woolworth's budget brand -- only 39p a packet! -- have lovely chemicals and a perfect consistency, bother it.)

Am already poleaxed by torpor. I can't possibly type in every meal: that would be sooo dull. Anyway, had healthy lunch of bowl of sweetcorn: have discovered that tinned stuff is much better than frozen as not all mushy. Plus needs only two minutes in microwave. Only 68p a tin, too. Why does mere thought of dieting force one to write like Bridget Jones? Aaargh.

Camp fun

Gosh, time has galloped by. We went to Sizewell last week, camping with all three children. The weather was wonderful -- it only rained at night, just as in Camelot. It's all thanks to Grandma Pam, who gave us money for a family holiday a couple of years ago which we invested in the kit. I was used to the technical stuff -- lightweight thermarest, down sleeping bag, and all that, but for family camping in summer with a car, the cheap kit is amazingly effective. A's top tip was to get a six-person tent even though there were four of us. Since the manufacturers expect you to pack in like sardines, this has worked out well. Those red and blue inflatable mattresses are very comfortable too. The sleeping bags are a bit flimsy, but as they are £20 for two we've just bought another pair (they make cheap cushions for the garden loungers). We got it all from Argos.

I spent two years dithering about a gas hob for my kitchen, and during that time we cooked on a meths stove -- eventually upgrading to two meths stoves. So getting them out again is all very nostalgic. My top recipe for camping is corned beef hash. In its simplest form, you can just put a standard sized tin of baked beans (other brands don't seem to be as good as Heinz) and a half-sized tin of corned beef (otherwise there's too much beef) into a pan and stir them till they turn to sludge. (A half-sized tin of corned beef is almost the same price as the full size, but there's no point keeping a half tin in the fridge because you won't eat it, will you?). That will feed two people; for four it's easier, of course: two tins of baked beans and one tin of corned beef. A dash of Worcestershire sauce makes it even nicer. Or you can grate cheese over the top. For the poncey version, start by frying an onion: A uses olive oil but I prefer butter. Is there a more glorious smell in the world than onions frying in butter? Anyway, there you have it: a spendid dinner or a really fabulous breakfast.

Other top tips: wherever you go on holiday, whatever you're doing, take a headtorch. It's as useful as a swiss army knife. By the way, I got mine as a present when I did a concert in Switzerland, from Mr Victor Inox himself. I always thought it was a brand name, but it's not.

I read an Agatha Christie, The Seven Dials Mystery, which was really rather silly. Also read recently: Swallowdale, the sequel to Swallows and Amazons. Really lovely, and so wholesome I felt cleansed by the experience. Also Wolf Wing by Tanith Lee, which was pretty inconsequential: a series that seems to have run out of steam, especially when the novelty of the diary format has worn off to leave it just plain irritating. Steaming on with Lois McMaster Bujold, I read Memory, which was a stonking tome and immensely enjoyable. Also a story called 'Winterfair Gifts' in an anthology called (can't remember, I'll fill it in later). I'm sure an Amazon review said it wasn't worth bothering with, but after Komarr and A Civil Campaign I loved having this to tie things up. I also read Diplomatic Immunity, which was a nice uncomplicated detective mystery in space.