22 June 2011

ONE of the plus sides to having Teens...

Parents evenings. Love them, hate them, with kids it's part of the package.
With four grown/teen children I've had my fair share of them.
About 90 of them (omg!) so far, by my estimations.

With littlies. Sitting hunch backed on an undersized chair discussing 'word recognition' and 'Number play'.

Fast forward a few years to Secondary school parents evenings.
I loathed these. Surely I can't be the only one?
5 minute slots allocated to each subject teacher. Which your 11-16 year old had the responsibility to arrange. Duh? You just know this isn't going to end well. Just getting this age group UP and OUT the house with all the correct, relevant books/coursework is difficult enough. Asking them to remember to arrange time slots for parents evenings? Ha...

Teacher no shows, just empty chairs. There go 2 of your slots. Teachers clock watching, waiting to get home, you're probably lucky to get 2 of those 5 minutes.
Lines of parents looking at watches and tapping their feet whilst glaring daggers at the parents who have the cheek to be, god forbid, running into the 7th and 8th minutes. That then means you've missed your slot with Mr **** for maths, who has now packed up and gone home assuming you're a 'no show'.
Yup, as I said, I hate parents evenings.

But, finally, now, after all these years, I'm a convert. 
This has to be one of THE most enjoyable Parents evening I've ever been to.

A 3 course meal, at £10 a head for family and friends. 

Cooked and served by students.
Admittedly, these 1st year students are studying a 3 year Catering and Hospitality course at the college and the evening is hosted in the colleges own restaurant. And yes, it is their own Parents' Evening. 

How very civilised. 

Between the 1st and 2nd courses Teen D's head tutor/chef sat at the table with us and discussed how TD had improved over the last 3 months 'noticably turning a corner during a very, very difficult year for her' and how things seem to have 'clicked into place' for her during those 3 months, how she now shows great promise for her 2nd year. 
They've seen the change, as had I. I just needed confirmation they'd seen and recognised it too.

After Dessert, a short informal speech by the Head of Department (while we were still drinking our coffee and supping our wine. Did I mention how much I'm loving this parents evening?) Followed by a brief talk from the Head tutor of year 1. Which I must just add, included an extra special mention of Teen D as THE most outstanding student of the year...

...in the 'hair colour changes' category!

Other staff members then stopped at the table, sat and chatted about Teen D. What she'd achieved during the year, what she could improve on during year 2, options etc.

If I could only go back in time and have all the Parents Evenings I've ever attended run like this, oh the joy..
Now where did I park that Time Machine?

Here are some photos, so you know I'm not lying to make you jealous or anything. Oh and of course so you can drool over the lovely food and see my Gorgeous Girl doing her stuff!

Potato Rosti,spinach,poached egg with Hollandaise

Stuffed leg of Lamb

Individual Lemon Meringue

Chocolate Fudge Brownie & Homemade Icecream

Taking my money!

27 April 2011

The Gallery: A hidden Green...

A tiny green oasis...

The Gallery prompt from Tara at Sticky Fingers this week is 'Green'.
This is a photo I took last year from a balcony in, of all places, The Royal Marsden Hospital while I was there with hubby.
Slap bang in the middle of London. On the busy Fulham Rd.
With tall buildings surrounding all four sides, with glass and steel pipes and air conditioning units, sits a calm and quiet oasis.
Who'd have thought there could be something quite as pretty and quite as green as this?

22 April 2011

Brighton Parkour...I LOVE living here.

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook and I wanted to share it with you.

I'm guessing they come from Brighton. I'm not sure, but whether they do or don't, it's quite wonderful to watch them leaping around my City.

Have a look and see where we live, from a slightly different perspective. Also, one of the buildings they use a lot is Teen D's school.
I don't remember seeing these guys bouncing around her school when she was there? I would've noticed, wouldn't I?

Brighton Parkour from Visive Productions on Vimeo.

19 April 2011

Contents of my Fridge...Really?

I have been well and truly tagged by the lovely Chris at Thinly Spread. I am currently trying to think up a suitable punishment, the naughty step or time out isn't doing it for me on this one.

The meme is to take a photo of the contents of my fridge and to also list the contents. And, yes, I'm doing it, don't judge me too harshly. Good luck being able to see anything in there, it's a feat of engineering to get all that in, and don't even think of moving anything once it's full. The contents have a regular habit of 'jumping' out at you...

Top shelf:
2 x Mature cheddar cheese. 2 x 2 pack of Steak slices. Takeaway Chicken Korma & pilau rice. 3 pots of yoghurt. Jar of horseradish. Jar of Mint sauce. Jar of Branston. Coleslaw. Large pot of houmous.
2nd shelf:
Bottle of Honey & Mustard dressing. Multipack of yoghurts. 6 pack of sausage rolls. Pack of 18 pork sausages. 
3rd shelf:
Container of Greek salad. Apple juice. Ready made sticky pudding. Box 12 eggs. Garlic bread. Takeaway naan bread. 
Bottom shelf: 
More yoghurts. Green beans, Mange tout, Celery, Cucumber, spinach, mushrooms. Ready made lasagne (so shoot me). Squeezy bottles of mayo and salad cream. 2 packs of raspberries. 
2 x 4 pints semi skimmed, Orange juice, 2 packs of spreadable butter. Mini pots of houmous, 3 packs of cream cheese, 1 pack of Boursin, 2 errant eggs. 2 packs feta cheese, pack of butter, parmasan, 1 & 1/2 packs of mature cheddar.
Left drawer:
1 Bag pre-prepared salad, Bag of rocket, bag of salad tomatoes, 1/2 iceberg lettuce, more leftover Greek salad.
Right drawer:
2 packs of sliced chicken breast, 2 packs turkey breast, 4 packs sliced ham, 1 pack garlic sausage, 2 packs smoked bacon, 1 pack salami. 3 packs of smoked gammon.

Phew...that's it.
I'm supposed to tag people now, but I'm exhausted! 
Feel free to jump in and do the meme if you haven't already been tagged...

18 April 2011

Did you guess what it was?

This was my Silent Sunday photo yesterday....

Here it is before it floated off into the night sky...

So all of you who guessed correctly, well done!. Give yourself a pat on the back.
Pretty, yes?

The mature way to deal with Teens...

You'd think I was the only person who lived in this house, yes? 
After a family evening out on Saturday, Brighton Beach and a couple of pubs. 
This was the picture I was greeted with on coming downstairs at 11.30am on Sunday morning.

Was I the first one to come down?
Had all 4 'grown' and Teen children slept in or gone out?
No, of course not. 
Two, with 2 friends were relaxing in the front room.

Yes I dealt with it. Being the mature adult I am. You know, the way we're supposed to as parents, just like all the books tell you...
I shouted. Lots. Loudly.

...it was cleared, not by me...*ahem*

14 April 2011

Mrs Lister's Q & A...A little bit about me..Or a lot depending on how honest I am!

Liz Jarvis put a shout out on Twitter the other evening. 

 Yes, I volunteered for this one. Ten pressed men and so on. I was obviously bored at the time. Pop over to her's and have a look at her answers.

This is where you get to learn all about me, or not, if I lie.

Lister’s Q&A

Which living person do you most admire, and why?
My Mother.  She's the strongest person I know.

When were you happiest?
When I had my eldest son.

What was your most embarrassing moment?
Embarrassing? Me? Never. 
My party piece when drunk is falling over. So there are a few of those!
Drunkenly falling over in a pub and ending up under a table (someone elses!), where I appeared to have lost the ability to get out from underneath it.
Falling out of a cab, in the middle of Whitehall, London, in high heels, short floaty skirt and very, very small knickers. Many, many bus stops in Whitehall. I got a round of applause *curtsies* "Thank you"
Take your pick.

Aside from property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?
Do my new windows count, or is that part of 'property' ? If it counts, my windows. 
If not, then my car.

What is your most treasured possession?
Our bed. I love our bed. It's not expensive (Ikea) but it has a wonderful comfy mattress, loads of pillows, gorgeous bedding and it's so pretty. Not sure I'd want to have to rescue it in a fire though! That would be mine and Ian's Wedding rings.

Where would you like to live?
Exactly where I am. I've only lived in a few places. South Wales, Hemel Hempstead, NW and East London and Essex. But Brighton is 'the one'. I would not want to live anywhere else.

What’s your favourite smell?
I have LOTS of favourite smells. Can I have more than one? I'm going to anyway.
New baby. Suntan lotion and the beach, combined. Fresh laundry. Doughnuts. Cigars.

Who would play you in the film of your life?
Susan Sarandon. She rocks.

What is your favourite book?
Time Travellers Wife.

What is your most unappealing habit?
I still bite my nails! What? I'm not going to tell you any of the other really bad ones!

What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?
Lara Croft. But, well, um...I'd need to borrow the body too. Due to my guiltiest pleasure answer below.

What is your earliest memory?
Walking with my Nan, round a street market, eating a punnet of strawberries covered in sugar. Probably about 3.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Cheese. Lots of cheese.

What do you owe your parents?
From my Dad an inability to do Maths! 
My Mum? Strength, humour, love. And probably the cost of all her hair dye, to cover the grey.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
No one. I've said all my sorrys.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My children.

What does love feel like?

What was the best kiss of your life?
Sitting on the steps outside The National Portait Gallery, at 2am, waiting for a nightbus (when there was still a road there!). Just the thought of it now gives me goosebumps.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
"Oh for fucks sake" (sometimes under my breath). 
"Can you please bring ALL your dirty stuff downstairs"

What is the worst job you’ve done?
I've been really lucky with jobs. None of them sucked too much.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
Not having a child with Ian. With my four, his two, six was enough. But? I wish I'd managed to persuade him.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?
Well, I thought I was dying with #1 son, but that turned out to be an overdose of Entinox!
Other than that, none that I'm aware of. Of course I may well have just missed being hit by falling fridges or something?

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My children.

When did you last cry, and why?
Today, yesterday and the day before that..etc. If you already know me, you'll know why. If not this should explain all.

How do you relax?

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
Right at this moment? A cleaner.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
That it's too short. Carpe Diem.

There, done. Now I have to tag some people.

Tara at Sticky Fingers
Chris at Thinly Spread
Gigi at Gigi's Ramblings

Come on, tell us some stuff!

13 April 2011

The Gallery: Tomorrow...

"Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today"

In the spring of 2009 I left my 28 year job as a civil servant.
In celebration of shaking off the shackles of a job that by that point had become boring and mundane, and the end of a daily 4-5 hour commute into London I decided we needed a holiday. Not our usual car drive, ferry, chalet or caravan type family trip, but somewhere we'd never been before. 

The kids suggested the States, that didn't really appeal to me.

Ian then suggested Greece. Specifically a Greek Island, Poros, which he'd been to twice, years before, and was one of his favourite places and would love to go back to. But he explained though stunningly beautiful, it was a quiet, relaxed and chilled Island, not a clubbing, touristy type one.

Ah, right, so maybe not the best place to go with 8 (yes, eight, the kids took a friend each) Teens and young adults. I thought they might need more excitement, a place with a bit more of a buzz. Two weeks on an island with only one nightclub could get very boring, very quickly.
I even suggested it sounded like the perfect place for us to go when he retired, just the two of us, without the children. Maybe we should save it as a retirement holiday for him?

You would not believe how happy I am that the children and I decided we'd 'trust' Ians choice (after MUCH googling of course!).

They were happy to be chilled for two weeks and bask in some sunshine and Greek beauty.

We stayed in a beautiful villa overlooking the quay.
Late mornings with breakfast on the terrace. Slow walks & bus rides to beaches for lunch.
Long, long lazy evening meals that started at 8pm and continued till 12pm. Lots of walking, reading, eating and drinking. And yes, the kids did go the the one and only club, all of two times. But they seemed perfectly happy to while away the majority of their evenings spending time with us, wandering round the sea front, stopping for a drink or playing cards on the terrace (the villa had no TV), laughing, talking and watching the coming and goings of the quay, while going through sensible copious amounts of local beer and local brandy.
It was a very special time, for all of us.

I'm so pleased Ian convinced me we should go there as a family and not wait for his retirement, so, so relieved...

...because we really never know what tomorrow will bring, do we?

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This weeks Gallery prompt from Sticky Fingers is 'Tomorrow'. Pop over and check out all the other entries.

6 April 2011

The Gallery: Mother Love...I get it!

This weeks Gallery prompt at Sticky Fingers is 'Mothers Love'. 

That gut wrenching, full to overflowing, heart stopping, exciting, fear inducing, joy filled, awe inspiring emotion. There is nothing like it in the world, nothing.

I love my children with every fibre of my being. Every teeny weeny atom. 

But it wasn't until I had children I finally understood. 

#1 son with Mummy and Daddy...
  "This is how my Mother feels about me and my sisters"

My beautiful Mum...
 I never realised. Stupid eh?

Me and #1 son...
Mum, I get it now...

23 March 2011

The Gallery: Education

The Gallery this week over at Sticky Fingers is Education.

To be honest I didn't have to do a lot of digging for all those embarassing school photos everyone seems to have hidden away. As I don't appear to have any! Not one, anywhere. How did that happen? Maybe my Mum has them? I should check with her. Or maybe I destroyed them all in a fit of Teenage vanity or something? Now that would not surprise me, I was a very stroppy Teen!

Me, aged five or six...
So, I know, I'm sorry, I have used this photo before, but as it's the ONLY school type one I seem to own it's the one you're getting, okay?

16 March 2011

The Gallery: Trees & Teens...

When Tara set this weeks Gallery prompt as Trees I wasn't sure I was even going to join in.
But last night, I looked through my photos. Thinking, I'm sure I have trees somewhere? 

Guess what? I do. 

On looking I found a folder of photos I took at Ian's Dad's surprise BBQ last summer, in celebration of his 80th birthday. 

Ian arranged all the food and the hire of a huge BBQ. His Mum, secretly, contacted old work collegues and friends. All the family had dishes to take with them. His Dad had been 'sent' out all morning, working with friends clearing some local woods, to make sure it stayed a surprise. 

The whole afternoon was a wonderful, family gathering. 

As you can see from the photos, my 19 and 20 year old sons and 15 year old step-son, enjoyed sharing 2 pieces of rope and a plank of wood tied to a high branch on an extremely tall tree...

Such a simple pleasure, but it kept them entertained for hours. Seriously. 
Until they decided they may have had a little too much scrumpy to continue swinging (the 19 and 20 yo's, not the 15!) so they retired to the more sedate garden benches/chairs to continue their scrumpy consumption and left the swing to our 2 younger nieces.

 See, no matter what age, the 'pull' of a swing on a tree is irresistable...
(unless combined with scrumpy)

16 February 2011

The Gallery: Togetherness a Generation apart...

It's Wednesday, it's photos.....it's The Gallery!!
This week Tara at Sticky Fingers has given us what I think is an easy, peasy one. 


These two photos are taken a generation apart.
The first is of me with my younger sister, I was about 7. There are six years between us and although this photo was taken 41 years ago, I can still remember the feeling of excitement I had about there being this little person that I could play with, any time, who somehow 'belonged' to me. Someone I could be there for, look out for and share with.

The second photo is of my now 23 year old and 20 year old sons, aged 6 and 3. 
In 'their' tunnel. They loved this tunnel. They ate their lunch in this tunnel. They built intricate lego constructions together in there.  They even watched TV together in there, with just their little faces poking out. 

It was their little 'Together' place...

Also, while looking at these photos, I realised the resemblance between myself and my eldest son is quite uncanny. Don't you think?

14 February 2011

Hairy Bikers 'Mums know Best' DVD review

I was asked if I would review the Hairy Bikers 'Mums know best' DVD, which is released today, 14th February (Oh yes, Happy Valentines Day!). This is to coincide with the second series...YAY! Whoop Whoop...

Now, I'll admit, this was never going to be a great hardship for me. For one, I love cooking and love watching cookery programmes, Jamie, Gordon, Nigella, all of them. Secondly I happen to really enjoy watching these two in action and thirdly I'm a Mum, so this was about me, yes? Cause I always know best...just ask my kids (Ahem..cough...okay, maybe not then)

If you've never seen Simon King and David Myers AKA The Hairy Bikers in their BBC2 series (er...just where have you been??) then you've missed a real treat. These two are on a mission to save great British recipes; the sort maybe your Granny or Mum cooked for you when you were growing up, the foods and recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation and stood the test of time.

One of the classic comedy moments on the DVD is watching them cook 'Pan Haggerty' a lovely savoury one pan supper of sliced potatoes, bacon, carrot and onion topped with cheese with a side of pretzels, outside. "It's like a Gordie fondue". With the wonderfully ironic line 'It's a dry dough' for the pretzels, whilst it's raining stair rods and they're cooking under HUGE golfing umbrellas!


Mum, Harjinda shows how to make a basic Masala Sauce which can be used for almost any curry and she makes it in extra large quantities (I now have a real urge to go buy industrial sized cookware!) to freeze and use whenever needed. She has also filmed herself making the sauce and kept it on video for her daughters and daughters-in-law, pass it on. 
This is a recipe I had actually already started using after seeing it on the series when it was aired. You can then just add any extra spices as necessary and it really speeds up the whole process of cooking an authentic Indian dish. A woman after my own heart...

They also have enormous fun, in a race against the clock, testing various cooking implements, old and new, to see which ones really are the best. With some interesting results...

The DVD is a wonderful way of preserving some of those traditional dishes, loved by us all, and presented by Si and Dave in a fun, friendly 'Go on, get your hands in there' way. My Teen D who coincidently is currently studying Catering (wonder where she got that from then?) and I thoroughly enjoyed it....yum yum... 

*Disclaimer: I received no payment for this review*

9 February 2011

The Gallery - 24 Hours

This week the prompt from Tara at Sticky Fingers is '24 Hours'
Unfortunately you're probably going to find my 24 hours mind numbingly boring. All I seem to do at the moment is paperwork and clearing stuff (we seem to have accumulated a lot of stuff over ten years) on top of the usual shopping, cleaning and cooking.
But Tara wants twenty four hours so that's what she shall get. But don't complain when your head hits the desk as you yawn and fall asleep.
Wow! Only half full, so where's the rest of it then??

A now empty space under the loft stairs...Ready for a cupboard to be built.

Which is where I found all of this...3 flat screen monitors THREE?

....and everything you can see here too! How the hell did that all fit under there??
Er..How come this stuff is on TOP of the Dishwasher?

Finally, some clean clothes

An almost empty spare bedroom.

...and soon to be Office

Now for my tea and biscuits!
Are you still awake? Hello? Well, I did warn you.
Pop over and see all the other entries in this weeks Gallery, trust me, they're bound to be far more interesting than mine.