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img_4043It’s Valentine’s Day! CELEBRATE LOVE. DO IT. NOW. PLAN IT. PAY FOR IT. It’s very important to celebrate love. Otherwise who know what might happen.

In the past I have been very bad at giving Valentine’s Day gifts to H, which is a great shame because he is far more romantic than I am and deserves better.

Once a couple of years ago, he was cranky because he found an old globe in the recycling. He had given me the globe some years earlier, as a Valentine’s Day present. The arm that makes the globe stand up was broken, and no, I’m not a totally heartless wench, I didn’t just chuck it straight in the bin. I let the kids kick it around the garden for a bit first, because we couldn’t find the soccer ball. Well excuse me for being a problem solver.

When I realised how hurt he was, I went out to the bin and peeled off the maps that featured places we have travelled together, and I glued them together into an apologetic découpage heart. He keeps that on his desk, for never was there a finer example of passive aggression and love and recycling, and the way those three things are woven together in life. (more…)

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I’m doing that thing I always do when I come back from new and wonderful, and I try to transport the lifestyle. When H and I went to Borneo by steamer sometime back in the 1800s, we came home and bought an entire pantry’s worth of ingredients to make complicated sambals and rending pastes, not to mention buying five limes for what would have bought us 100 kilograms of them in Kota Kinabalu.

I’m doing the Scandinavian equivalent. I’m eating rye bread and smoked fish, putting dill on everything, and being genuinely baffled at why everyone is so loud and rude and demanding. Why can’t my children be more Finnish, and refuse to make eye contact or talk to me? Why can’t they be more like the Swedes, and dress effortlessly stylishly and get about on bikes like it’s normal? Why can’t they be more Danish and tidy the fuck up occasionally? (more…)

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ramekinsFor 2016 I have made only one New Year’s resolution: to face the truth. It’s a big one, but it’s nice and versatile. It covers a multitude of things I think could be improved about my life.

I will face the truth about the Pilates DVDs. This is the year I will stop taking Pilates DVDs on holidays with me. I’ve been dragging the same two all over the world for about nine years and do you know how many times I have done Pilates on holidays? Zero times. They make me feel guilty for not doing Pilates on holidays when I don’t even do it when I’m at home. This foolishness has got to stop.

I will face the truth that I prefer exercising indoors. I wish I liked running out in the fresh air, with the dogs and the show-offs, but honestly, it’s too hot and sunny, there are too many people watching, and the television screens are too few and far between. The only way I can justify watching the kind of crappy TV shows I like is to watch them while riding the exercise bike or doing crunches or squats. So that is what I shall do. (more…)

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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. (more…)

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pineappleThat was quite a long day off I took, wasn’t it? Whoops. I spent three days ill and have been recovering since then. I’m feeling better. I’d still quite like to have this baby sooner rather than later, but I feel like I can stick it out a bit longer.

Whenever May Blossom wakes up these days, the first thing she says is, in a very irritated tone of voice: ‘I didn’t want to go to sleep.’ She regards us getting her to fall asleep as a cruel trick. It might be because when she is complaining in her cot about not wanting to  sleep we have started telling her that she doesn’t have to go to sleep, she just needs to lie quietly. I think she believes us and is then hugely pissed off to wake some hours later to discover she slept anyway. Yesterday she elaborated for me: ‘I don’t want to go to sleep. I just want to wake up.’ (more…)

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It’s Thanksgiving! The day we eat turkey and gravy and stuffing and pie until we pass out; the day we move all the the furniture in my parents’ house a bit to the left; the day my mother spends running up and down the back lane simultaneously cooking two turkeys in two ovens — one in her house and one in her neighbour’s house, six doors up.

Actually, this year the game of Move The Tables From The Verandah To The Garden And Back Again Thrice As The Weather Changes was knocked on the head, with the decision taken early to just have the damn meal inside and not try to use the courtyard at all. It’s going to be cool and rainy tonight, so all the living room furniture has been moved into the garage and we will dine in dryness and warmth. Hurrah! But it’s a bit sad that all the guests won’t need to sneak, one by one, into Mum and Dad’s room to raid Dad’s jumper shelf , another traditional aspect of our Thanksgiving. (more…)

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Must dust cat.

To our dear friends whose hen’s and buck’s nights we failed to attend last night, the following conversation is what we were doing instead. Probably for the best we didn’t come, eh? (more…)

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