May Blossom’s Self-Portrait With Gastro

It’s winter here, and with each new and sparkling dawn comes a new illness. I’m quite serious: since April, when we went on a dream of a holiday to Fiji, one of us has always been sick. May Blossom may laugh in the face of danger (as she told our neighbour the other day after having the dangerous heater pointed out to her), but she is defenceless in the face of every common virus that does the rounds.

Garnet kicked it off on the trip with hand, foot and mouth disease. I realise that for people not in the throes of life with little kids that sounds terrifying and the sort of thing that should bring a team in HAZMAT suits to your door to euthanase your livestock and condemn your farm, but it’s actually a reasonable mild viral illness. The affected sprog gets small blisters on their hands, feet and in their mouth. Garnet was basically fine, if a little spotty, so we responsibly parented him by not saying anything and plonking him in the sea for hours every day. His mouth was largely unaffected so he was pretty happy muddling about in the shallows, occasionally taking bites from the apple we left bobbing beside him as a snack (What? We were nearby on deck chairs but we weren’t going to put down our pina coladas and traipse down to the water every time he wanted a nibble. That’s just an inefficient use of vacation time.) The tropical fish shared his apple, but as they have neither hands nor feet they probably didn’t catch the virus. Continue Reading »


switchI regret to advise that my brain is currently unavailable for blogging. Our technicians are working to resolve the situation by getting inside my head (pictured) and randomly flicking switches in the hope that they’ll hit the right one and service will be restored. Continue Reading »

gantGin and tonic and I go back a long way. My first G and T, I’ll have you know, was taken on the balcony of the Serena Mountain Lodge in Kenya, at dusk, as a family of elephants took their evening libations. I was seventeen years old. Doesn’t that sound like a terribly sophisticated set-up? It really wasn’t. I’d just spent three days driving around Nairobi, all the while throwing up out of the car window or into my father’s terry towelling hat, from a combination of period pain and teenage angst, and was then offered an alcoholic beverage by my parents. My drinking experience at that point consisting of the occasional half-glass of wine at the family table or Brandy Alexanders at the bar of the Intercontinental Hotel (no one ever checked our IDs there), I ordered what everyone else was having. I drank my gin and tonic with the grownups and promptly fell asleep, thereby missing out on seeing all the baby rhinos and cavorting lions that visited the waterhole beside the hotel later that evening. But a love affair with a cocktail was nonetheless born that night.

As much as I love a gin and tonic I am surprisingly unfussy about how they are prepared. As long as it has gin and tonic water in it, I’ll drink it. Continue Reading »

tupperwareWe’ve had a spate of rainy days in the last few weeks, which means May Blossom has spent less time in the backyard ostensibly decorating the bricks with pavement chalk but really improvising the face make-up of the characters from Cats on herself and her brother, and more time inside immersing herself in imaginary worlds. Some of these imaginary worlds are fantastic: ‘The Witch in the Woods’, for example, or ‘Castle Doctors’ (tending to people who have been run through with lances, or have splinters from battering rams, or have burns from boiling oil). Continue Reading »

The Lucky Country


It’s the Monday night of the Australia Day long weekend, and I’m watching my daughter jump on our rusty mini-tramp while my son steams around the backyard being deeply fascinated by everything from a plastic Ikea plate to the discarded paper lanterns they just peeled off the gooseberries I picked from my mother’s vegetable garden. May Blossom is telling me about a ladybird couple called Florence and Boris and Garnet is asking for ‘Dat’, which is his word of preference at the moment. When he needs to be more specific he says ‘Dat dat’.

This weekend we’ve been, once again, with my parents in the country. It was, on balance, wonderful, despite my several early evening meltdowns, during which I hysterically cried that I CANNOT DO THIS ANYMORE and I NEED SOME SLEEP and PUT ON YOUR OWN PYJAMAS YOU ARE THREE YEARS OLD FOR GOD’S SAKE and generally behaved in a mean and distressing way to everyone around me, and then tried to breastfeed Garnet to sleep like always, only to find that his late catnap meant he only wanted to blow raspberries on my tummy and laugh like a drain. Then I stomped downstairs and cried while he shouted in his cot, and it made everything feel a hundred times worse.

Continue Reading »

hugsHappy New Year from the House of Gusto, where we specialise in creating problems for ourselves, and then complaining about them! This year has kicked off in fine style, with a wonderful country holiday featuring daily trips to swim in the sea, huge and delicious meals with friends and restful afternoons on the verandah.  A perfect life, you might say, if not for the issues of Sleep and Cats.

Why the italics, you might ask. What has Gusto done to merit that? Nothing. Gusto is being an exemplary feline. It is the jellicle cats that are the problem around here. The cats created by T. S. Eliot in his 1939 book of poems Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and made more annoying to the power of infinity by Andrew Lloyd-Webber in 1981. You see, about three months ago May Blossom, Garnet and I tagged along with Other Jess to a Year 6 Production of Cats at the school where she works. It was pretty amazing. And just like that it became, like Singin’ in the Rain and before that the song ‘1234’ by Feist, a complete obsession for May Blossom. Continue Reading »



So sweet, you’d never know they have tiny ear canals brimming with filth and germs. Nor that the one on the right is about to throw up in that car seat.

My big brother emailed me today with two queries. ‘When you gonna blog again?’ and ‘How’s your wedding Adirondacks?’ The second question is easier to answer. The Adirondacks to which he refers so grammatically incorrectly are two chairs that he gave H and me for our wedding present. We got married in April 2009. He dropped off the chairs yesterday. They are flat-packed and likely to remain so until we achieve a vomit-free week in this household.

Continue Reading »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 685 other followers