Thursday, 30 May 2013


 What I love about this FRAMED, is the fact that after Julia had signed Esme's book for her, Esme then decided to sign a post-it note for Julia!


The Singing Mermaid

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Children's poet laureate Julia Donaldson (3)

The auditorium was packed with children of all ages, excitedly anticipating the spectacle ahead. And Esme. Who had told me she had not wanted to come only an hour before, and now kept asking me for another sweet to chew. Sweets so sticky they stuck to their wrapper. Sweets that surely must have been stashed in a cupboard by a radiator at the Hall, for potentially a decade of entertainment?

A hush fell over us all and then there she was. Julia Donaldson. On the stage and resplendent in blue. Wearing her children's poet laureate medal with pride. Looking, well, normal! 

Julia announced how happy she was to be back in Haslemere, and then, she announced how sad she was, that this was to be her final show as the children's poet laureate. And then she began.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Children's poet laureate Julia Donaldson (2)

Beg, steal, borrow and buy

I've been reading Julia Donaldson for twenty years, first as a nanny to countless charges, and since to my own two girls. I never tire of her tales; how brilliant she is and they are. The characterisation, the rhythm, the rhyme, the unexpectedness, the language, the humour. 

I presume at this point that everyone on the planet knows her, not least because some of her best loved books (inc The Gruffalo and Room on the broom), have since been adapted to programmes for television; fast becoming the latest must-watch Christmas day entertainment, but also because she has been the children's poet laureate for 2011-2013.

I do wonder though if it is always realised that the author of such joyous stories has endured momentous pain and suffering. 

Children's poet laureate Julia Donaldson (1)

Today, Esme Grace (my musing 4YO) and I, are off to Haslemere Hall to listen to Julia Donaldson read some of her magical stories on stage. I'm not sure who is more excited... Oh okay, perhaps I am. That will most certainly be me then. 

I'll be sure to check back in and let you know how it was.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Secondary Infertility feature

Secondary Infertility

After having one child you assume that the second conception will be plain sailing. This isn’t always the case... Emma Oliver talks about her experience of secondary infertility. 

Looking back, the hardest moment through all of my Secondary Infertility hell, was when my mother-in-law (stood right beside me), said to my two-year-old, ‘Ah poor little Esme, when is Mummy going to give you a sibling?’ I mustn’t forget to mention that she knew about my miscarriage history.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Musings of a 4YO

E: Mummy, did you know that if you throw a meringue, it comes back to you again?

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Ode to my Grandmother (aka Beach Granny)

Two years on...

I smell you in the garden as the flower, or on the Chanel stand in the perfume department. 

I feel you when I touch my now squidgy thumb against my skin. 

I think of you as I look into your mirror hanging in my hall, or pinch the salt from your little glass pot into my casserole dish. 

I see you when I watch Sofia thinking. 

I also hear you often now that she speaks. She says 'hi' just like you used to. 

I'm glad you are here with me still. 

I love you - I always will. 

I only wish my girls could have known you.

Gran's Eulogy

PREFACE: I was four months pregnant with Sofia when I read this out at my Granny's funeral. I remember thinking I might falter. But that was before I felt a burning hot sensation on my shoulder. An arm around me perhaps? Whatever, whoever, it was willing me on, comforting, emboldening. 

Eulogy; Kathleen Mabel (aka Beach granny).

The warmth and care that Gran bestowed entirely on others was testament to the sort of life she lived. One filled with love. 

A tough life at times; but one in which she always maintained her strength and dignity. One where she always seemed to cope admirably with all the hardships she had to face. 

Gran had to be so strong all her life, that even in her final days she found it difficult to let go.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Even more down to earth with a bump (7)

Continuing my record of Sofia Faith's pregnancy


This week I've been fine. I've slept surprisingly well. No more bleeding. Nothing much to report.  


Spoke to soon. Sleep the last few days has been continually disturbed with Tarantino style dreams.

Oh and it was Gran's funeral. Although I managed to get through that without being too emotional. I was able to write & read the eulogy for her. And I know she would have been proud. But now I'm feeling totally drained. I miss her.  

Monday, 20 May 2013

Nanny notes (Delano Hotel, Miami) & that pool

Sorry that the image surpasses the text box on the right, but frankly, I didn't want to shrink it. Let's get this into perspective. This is a pool that surpasses. This is a pool that is - to use Ian Schrager's word - visceral. This is a pool belonging to one of the finest hotel's in the world. 

The following snippet of a nanny note begins with my charge scoffing, and myself contemplating (in my finest Brooklyn), 'Oh my God. How much a cup of coffee cost?' 

Freddie who was not quite two ate his way through a large lunch consisting mainly of chips, and, as a last minute ditch attempt to throw in all of his five a day, half a pound of grapes - his mother had insisted.

Food over, Freddie wanted to run. But that can't happen in a place like the Delano, (which may explain why there weren't any other kids there). Before long, he began balling. It escalated quickly. 

Friday, 17 May 2013

DELANO ( Link to the next post from the last post)

Pronounced: De-la-no NOT, Dee-lan-oh

Having mentioned luxury hotels worth splurging on in the previous post, I was reminded how fortunate I am to have stayed in so many around the globe. I lived quite a high life as a nanny, first class travel, food and accommodation. Aspects that were made even more glorious due to the juxtaposition of the 'roughing it backpacking' I escaped to during my time off. Which by the way, I loved even more. Back then, anyway!

New Yorker Ian Schrager's posh hotel, Delano, situated on South Beach, Miami was definitely not roughing it. And the following post recalls a shocker of a snippet from my stay there as a nanny. By the way, I'm saying that in a New York accent as I type it; it just works better. Oh as does the word 'better', hell it's probably best, you give it a try too. I love a bit of audience participation. The whole thing though... practise first if you like. But please read the next post in your very best Brooklyn accent (think Woody Allen or Joan Rivers), in tribute to their fellow Brooklynite and designer of luxury hotels worth splurging on, Ian Schrager. 

ps AND yes I know the De-la-no is in Florida, but Florida is really a hot New York. It's spelt differently that's all.

pps Keep practising, it may be a day or two before the post appears!

Silly accents are an all-important part of everyday living, sometimes essential to the reading and telling of LIFE AS IT IS.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Travelling to posh hotels independently

There was a piece on the Yahoo home page today entitled: Luxury hotels worth splurging on, and it took me back to when I first graduated and did a stint on The Independent travel desk in 2005. I was there to gain some experience, and had only got my foot through the door by sending an email of complaint to the then assistant editor. For some reason he really appreciated that and offered me a placement. It was chaos. It was heady. And I loved it. Even if it did result in me almost crapping myself at times down to the sheer fear of getting something wrong. The bottom line (no pun intended), is that it was amazing fun. Oh and I also had some articles printed, one of them being a hotels special. I interviewed Claus Sendlinger, CEO of Design Hotels, and, Ian Schrager, of Studio54,  Delano and Gramercy Park Hotel fame. Here are my favourite quotes from each of them regarding what they did, and still do best: Luxury hotels worth splurging on.

Claus Sendlinger, CEO of Design Hotels, on what hotel he particularly likes, and why? Amanjiwo, Amanrtsort at Borobudur, Central Java, Indonesia - because of the way the architecture is integrated into the natural surroundings and how the setting of the property overlooks the valley with the Borobudur Temple rising above it. Time has a slow motion feel to it here. It is the most peaceful place on earth I have been and maybe the best experience I have ever had staying in a hotel.

Ian Schrager, Hotelier, on what makes a great hotel? A hotel should lift your spirits when you stay there. Every fact and detail is important. Visuals are only a small part of it. The sum of all the parts added together result in creating certain magic, and it is that magic that is the most important element that a hotel can strive to accomplish. Therefore, I would say it is the overall visceral experience.

The emotional musings of a 4yo

Esme is clearly forming a lasting relationship with our fancy fish...

E: Mummy, when our fish die, can we keep a pet spider?


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Nanny notes (London, Courchevel) - a potentially fatal ski trip

This nanny tale is about the sort of family that have loads of money, but don't want to spend any of it... Those that can afford to take four children, themselves, plus the help, all skiing to France for a week. But then insist on dinner coming too. Read on... 

Picture this: The family, (mum, dad and four kids) plus me the skivvy nanny, are all packed up and ready to go skiing. A chalet in Courchevel awaits.

Suitcase after suitcase is lined up on the pavement next to the Chelsea des res, waiting for cabs to the airport. 

The kids (8,6,4 & 2years) are excited. Me? Well, behind my smile, I'm gloomily wondering if we're all about to die of food poisoning. You see, half the luggage is frozen food.

Monday, 13 May 2013

5 reasons not to get a hamster...

This comment from Sara ( 
Sara Murray12 May 2013 21:48
Ha, love it, good luck :) Current request from my 6yo is for a hamster... #PoCoLo
left on my recent fishy tail post, inspired today's rodent rant: 


  1. 1) They bite. (I'm very grumpy too when woken from chasmic sleep). 
    2) They feel as if they may break when holding them too tightly. (I can remember Esme as a very excited three-year-old strangling a friend's hamster: almost to a bone crushed state).  
    3) They can have bad habits. (The hamster that belonged to my bro - called Jimmy I believe - had quite a neat trick that my mum called a bad habit. He would zoom round in his wheel and poop at the same time, resulting in said pellet, flying out the cage at jaw-poop-dropping rate).
    4) They can break free. (Years ago I was nannying, and went on hols with the family. They left my then partner in charge of the children's beloved hamster. The then partner went out for the eve, but before doing so put the hamster inside its perspex play ball. When he got back from the pub much later, he walked in finding the plastic ball in two pieces AND, shock, horror, the hamster missing). 
    5) They can hibernate and not wake up. (Charlene - the bitch hamster from my childhood that used to draw blood from my pudgy little fingers, did just this. Mum only realised when that corner of the room began to hum).
    #PoCoLo indeed. Thanks for commenting Sara x

Sunday, 12 May 2013

My family and other animals (if fancy fish weren't enough).

E: Mummy look I've found a slug.

M: What?

E: A slug Mummy, I've found a slug. On the floor. Here.

M: Really? Where? Not in the house? Not first thing in the morning? Oh Lord.

E: Yes Mummy, and look. It is definitely a leopard slug, it has spots on its back. Mummy?

M: Great. 

E: It's a lovely one.

M: (Thinking: How very Gerald Durrell of you darling). Did the slug get rid of the ants?

E: No. Slugs eat greens.

M: I need a coffee. And some kitchen roll. And a camera, that's huge...

Friday, 10 May 2013

DOG - NO! FISH - YES! (Fancy ones at that).

Over one month ago...

Esme: Can I have a dog?
Me: No.

Four weeks ago...

Esme: I can't have a cat can I Mummy, you're allergic...
Me: That's right.

Three weeks ago...

Esme: Can I have a fish?
Daddy: Mummy will have to clean it out...

Two weeks ago...

The tank without fish

It was all rather exciting when the fish tank arrived. The filter, weed and water were installed. And then it had to sit. And we had to wait. Something to do with the fish going into a PH balance that wouldn't cause them a Pretty Harsh imbalance. (For we all know that an off-balance fish is heading straight down the loo).

The girls have been sat looking at the tank without fish all week. Who would have thought that an empty fish tank could hold their attention such as? I did begin to wonder, should I bother putting fish in at all?

And the fish with a tank

New arrivals, Tallulah & Frederick
Anyway, one week ago I did, and we now have fancy fish. Here are two of the five being carefully introduced to their new home. (The others are stripe-like-pipe-like teeny things which I'm praying won't get eaten). They shouldn't get eaten should they? They get enough food - but not too much. Oh the responsibility! Feeding them all is exciting. The fish certainly seem to get excited at breakfast time. And before you think I've gone soft, actually, the fish man at Haslemere Aquatics (now he knows a thing or two), informed me that fish are intelligent.

Fish myths & feelings

On asking the aquatics chap, were we buying the right amount of fish - too many - overcrowding? - too little - companionship issues? I joked, "Everyone knows that a goldfish has a memory of 0.3 seconds, so should I really care?" He reprimanded, "That's actually not true. Fish have a consciousness." I stopped grinning immediately. (Or really tried hard to). So there you have it. You heard it here first: fish have feelings. 

Fish guts brains

I'm concerned that they're concerned. Are they worried every time Fia (my mischeivous toddler) approaches their abode? Hand outstretched, banging on the glass, rudely awakening them, all the while squealing with delight. Hey - she's a work in progress. Darla and Twinkle twinkle little star! springs to mind. I'll push the tank out of reach a little more.

Fish are friends, not food

Finding Nemo is a fave film so there's been one or two lines this week that I couldn't help but quote. But I've began to wonder, are fish our friends? Certainly, with Tallulah & Frederick, once their initial nervous behaviour was over, clearly down to a) settling into their smaller, less crowded abode, and b) realising the toddler that kept making a grab for them was actually unable to get to them, they've seemed to happily swim up and greet us, whenever we arrive down, fresh from slumber, cheerily saying "Morning Tallulah, morning Frederick, morning you other pipe-y-stripe-y ones." *

Think twice before going for a dog

A dog, man's best friend... pah! A fish though, for sure! I would definitely say don't get a dog, but do go for a goldfish any day, as it would appear there's a bit more to the whole fish thing than first meets the eye. 

Next time you peer in to a fish tank, remember that they're peering right back at you, and that they're either thinking, "Hello. How do you do?" or "Oh why don't you just sod off!" How very human of them.

*That'll be the kids then, I'm never cheery 'til I've had my caffeine fix.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

A new all time low

This evening my girls are competing to see who can have the best super-strop.

It is actually quite difficult to gauge which one is winning.

 I may just have to join in and claim first prize...

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Thought-provoking sister Kate (4) and a remedy for burns

Sister Kate lives in Ecuador. She lives a most health-orientated lifestyle and sends the most thought-provoking emails. Her latest is a natural remedy for burns. Read on...
When it comes to First Aid for burns, most of us know to put cold water on the burn to reduce the burning sensation before you do anything else. But how many of us know about the following treatment: to apply egg whites? 

Apparently, after spraying or running cold water on to the burn, if you apply egg whites to the affected area, it will help the healing process. 

The albumin solution (which if you can think about it in the panic, ought to be whisked a little), dries to form a protective layer. 

Once it has dried, you then apply another layer. And so on. And so forth.

These layers help to remove the heat from the burn, as well as heal the burn naturally and effectively. 

And how? Because apparently, egg white is a natural collagen. 


Friday, 3 May 2013

Even more down to earth with a bump (6)

Continuing my record of Sofia Faith's pregnancy

Simon and I saw the midwife half way through the week and it was just wonderful to hear the wee ones heartbeat. I find hearing the heartbeat far more emotional than seeing the scan. Anyway, as you can imagine, we were so relieved. And finally, we actually began to relax. 

Simon was so excited. He sent me a text from work after the scan exclaiming, ‘We are having a baby!’ - emphasis on 'are' - you see, after all the disappointment, we had not let ourselves as a couple acknowledge it was all going to be okay. To us, this precise moment was pure joy, finally admitting to each other that the reality was, we were having another baby, and everything was fine. 

Only hours later, I sat crying on the bathroom floor. 

I'd found a small amount of blood in my underwear. I wiped my eyes and decided to ignore it. After all, I'd been there before and knew there was not a lot they could do about it if I was losing this baby too.

The next morning, there was more blood and no matter how much I wanted to, I could not pretend it wasn't there any longer. In the back of my mind, I knew it was useless. On autopilot, I resigned myself at that point to another round of heartache. I remained oddly calm and took myself to the doctors... 

...where they couldn’t find a heartbeat. It was definitely not looking likely now. But it didn’t make any sense, they had found it so quickly only two days before. We'd heard it. My own heart beat twice as fast and twice as loud, as I contemplated the silence of the baby, the doctor, and the sterile room.

Calm kicked in more so. I had to go to hospital and wasn’t allowed to drive, but a friend offered to drop me. She got cross waiting at home with me as I took my time, finishing an important document for work before surrendering to her passenger seat and the onslaught I was afraid would follow. From this point on I was a passenger in someone else's day. Watching on helpless. Calm to the point of serene.

At hospital, Simon was already waiting. He met me outside. "Here we go again," was all he said. We held hands. Firmly. And walked through the sliding doors.

We were soon greeted by a midwife. Matter of factly she said, ‘You know if it is a miscarriage, there is nothing we can do about it.’ Through silent tears I asked, ‘Would I be able to have an operation this time?' 

I was told to wait and see what the scan would bring. 

Fortunately, amazingly, it brought a bouncing bean and a low placenta. The placenta was in front of our baby and this had made it difficult for the doctor to pick up a heartbeat. It may have also explained the bleed, but probably not. Not at 16 weeks anyway. So mine was simply a warning sign. Slow down. I would definitely try. HA! Easier said than done with a two and a half year old.

FOOTNOTE: Pregnant women can sometimes bleed due to a low lying placenta. This condition is called 'placenta praevia’ and may occur from 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Exhausted via constant demand (toddler & I).

The day began at 5.30am. Again.

The day began with a tub of nappy creme being smeared around the bathroom. And a battle fighting to keep the hot tap shut off versus running furiously fast.

The day ended with big sister's school bag being submerged in the bathtub. And one of Daddy's socks.

In between, everything was mostly a tantrum, a 'no', or a smack (her not me).

In between, she consumed a variety of stuff that she should not have done: soap, chalk, pen tips, mud.

In between, she lost the use of her legs and demanded to be carried most places (until she reached the fun places such as the trampoline that is). 

Indeed, all day she demanded. And all day, I tried my best to ignore. To cuddle. To praise. Each in turn, when they were demanded.

And now she sleeps. Peaceful. 

No doubt, like myself, she is exhausted via constant demand

And I already know I've met the same conclusion I usually meet at this point in an evening.

Simply... I'm too old for this shit.

FOOTNOTE: Good job she's adorable.