31 August 2007

U, V and W

U is for

I have a rather gorgeous blue umbrella with white polka dots scattered across it, and it never gets used. Why? Because

a. it is very hard to hold an umbrella in one hand, push a pushchair with the other and hold the FB's hand in my freakishly missing third hand.
b. umbrellas hate me as much as I hate them, and at the slightest breeze any umbrella I have stupidly tried to use, turns itself inside out. Thus becoming more a raincatcher than a rain protector.

Underwear. Why, when we can send a man to the Moon, can we not invent an underwired nursing bra that doesn't up the risk of developing mastitis? One is desperately in need of something to divide and lift as the whole breast-belly caboodle has slumped together in one squelchy mess. Oh that sounds so appealing doesn't it!

V is for

Volcanoes - the FB's current interest. We are on our second watching of a National Geo programme about predicting volcanic eruptions. I am being bombared with questions on pyroclasic flows, lava types, and why those people (the volcanologists) are wearing funny clothes (so they can go near the volcano without getting burnt)

which leads us nicely to

W is for

Weight for it...it's not coming off! Help! I have a wedding to attend in just over a month and am pretty much still the same weight as I was after the Count was born. Exercise doesn't work, dieting doesn't work. So much for that rubbish spouted that breastfeeding helps you lose weight fast. Pah! I feel that I look like a young Ann Widdecombe (but without the henious blonde hair or Tory beliefs)

29 August 2007

Turtle Power

My only pet as a child was a tortoise a friend of my parents gave us when I was 4 and my sister was 2. We named it Jip after my grandfather's gun dog. Like all tortoises Jip was very laid back and slow moving, until she wandered into the livingroom. Unfortunately the carpet there was very similar in colour to her shell so there were a few occasions when she was accidentally kicked across the floor. She also had a bad habit of peeing on people when they picked her up to say hello. Possibly a defence mechanism in case she was used as a football who knows, but the smell of tortoise pee is something you don't forget. It's not eyewatering like skunk but just odd.
Then one night my mother awoke to hear a bumping noise coming from under the bed. She thought Jip had wandered off and gotten stuck under there, but curiously everytime she moved the noise stopped. Then to her horror a rat shot out from under the bed. It disappeared out through the bedroom door into the bathroom and down the toilet. So the next day my parents called the National Pest Control who came round and put down rat poison in the drains and the back garden. That evening my parents were having a dinner party. My mother was in the kitchen preparing when the grate in the middle of the kitchen floor (for swishing the dirty water down after washing the floor) popped open and a half dead rat crawled out and started towards my mother who screamed and my father appeared brandishing a broom. Possibly the only time in his life he's actually held one!
The original rat had come in after the tortoise who had been safely asleep in her box. Her feet had been gnawed on by the rat but she was still alive. She became very vocal but refused to eat after the attack and died a few weeks later.

27 August 2007

Queen, Royalty and School

Cheating I know, but I'm also very aware that the end of the month is looming and I've still rather a lot of posts still to go.

So in days of yore when knights were bold and women did....I wrote about studying Latin at school and mentioned having lunch with Brenda. It was the 125 anniversary of that school on the hill in Crieff and so to celebrate 125 years of getting successive generations of parents to part with their money the school invited the Queen and co to visit. A lottery was had to determine who would attend the luncheon held in the Fecky (Refectory which had been repainted especially for the occasion) and I was one of the lucky winners. Only three things stand out about the meal - firstly we had cutlery that you couldn't do a Uri Geller on, we had actual crockery - instead of the plastic molded trays sort of like the ones you find on aircraft, and thirdly, the food was actually edible. I'm sure there were speeches and so on but they have slid into one of the many holes in the sieve of my memory and have yet to work their way back out.

Somewhere amongst my stuff I have still got the offical menu and my invitation to dine. When I find them, I'll put them up here.

24 August 2007

Penguins, Four Legged Furry

Ten years ago I shared a flat in Edinburgh with my sister and a large number of mice. The mice weren't our idea of ideal flatmates and after a mouse ran up my dressing gown and then down my bare leg we decided to get some kittens. One for my sister


and one for me

As I've posted before they turned out to be completely useless at catching mice (but rather good at dismembering giant spiders) but the smell of them kept the mice at bay in that flat. As kittens they loved water. It was not uncommon to go into the bathroom and find at least one of them sitting in the bath under the shower (and on one occasion, in the fish tank). And so they were christened the Four Legged Furry Penguins. Froggy will do anything for food - she worked out how to open the fridge in the flat in Edinburgh, and a few weeks back worked out how to get into our rubbish bin. Velcro is quieter, more reserved and very fond of cuddles.
P is also for Peace (and Quiet to follow) of which there is not much in this house. Isabelle to answer your question on how I have time to blog having 2 small children about - the Count sleeps through the night from around midnight till 11am which gives me time to do the housework and things with the FB in the morning, and then in the afternoon while the Count naps (big one for sleeping that boy) and the FB is playing I can blog, sew, read or gaze adoringly at ultraexpensive bags online.

19 August 2007


When I grow up.... I want to learn to paint using oils. I had a lesson, once, a long long time ago when I was just a wee lassie of 12. My grandfather (not the one who bought the monkey) is an artist in his spare time (as was his wife and as was my other grandmother) and decided to teach me by coping a photo of a flower, I think called an Indian Paintbrush. He kept the finished painting up on the wall in his kitchen for over 20 years and then last year gave it to me.
So here on public display for the very first time I give you...

16 August 2007


We do talk a lot of nonsense to our children, or is that just me? My parents tried to convince me that icecream vans only play their jingle when they've run out of icecream; I'm trying to convince the FB that they don't sell icecreams but cucumbers. Probably with as much success as my parents had with their little tale.
The idea for this post came about after I spent a while this morning trying, but not succeeding, to get the FB to believe me that the crashing sound he had heard while out on a walk was not, as he thought, the sound of someone doing some DIY, but was instead the footstep of an invisible giant who, being shy, had hidden from us. The FB was not having any of it, and said that no, giants are only found in stories.

Missed a few days (Aunty spider mentions below)

M is for

Mother. Of which I am one (if you haven't guess this then where have you been?).

Massive Spiders. My house isn't exactly infested with them but does have slightly more than I would like residing under my roof AND they aren't paying rent. I thought I was ok around spiders but apparently not if they are a certain size; little spiders are fine, tarantulas are fine, giant house spiders that snarl and drip foam from their fangs are not. Fortunately the Penguins think spiders are little toys for them to chase and then their basic dissection procedures on. Now our kitchen floor is littered with abandoned legs. I dread to find the torso.

Monkeys. My grandfather was in the Merchant Navy during and post WWII. On one of his trips away he purchased a monkey and brought it back to Britain with him. Alas it had to be given away to a zoo because it kept escaping from the house and stealing the neighbours' laundry off the washing lines.

Music. Drum and Base, Techno and R&B are NOT music but a form of aural torture.

12 August 2007


I've mentioned before that I've lived in a fair number of places over the years. Since MrV and I got together we have lived in 7 homes in 3 countries over 8 years. And everytime we've moved I've hated the new place until just before we move (again) when I realise that things weren't half as bad as I thought, and then I go on to miss the old place like mad once we have moved and regret moving in the first place. Part of the problem is that I am looking for somewhere where I will fit in, and not be so damn awkward around people. You see I am incredibly shy which has the downside of making me appear to be aloof, and rather stupid as I get very tonguetied with nerves.
My ideal place would be a mixture of Edinburgh (for friends, family and the city itself) and the Netherlands (for its liberal yet grownup society) with the weather of the tropics but without the hurricanes of course. Is that too much to ask?

11 August 2007


Is it my fate to have problems with the letter K? After all it is the first letter of my name and MrV's too but still it's a hard one to come up with.

Kismet - the Arabic for fate.

10 August 2007


When I was young I used to go raspberry picking with my grandfather so my grandmother could make raspberry jam. She was an absolutely hopeless cook. In fact one of my father's siblings bought her a sign as a Christmas present that read "Dinner is served at the sound of the smoke alarm". My uncle blamed my aunt and she in turn blamed my uncle for the present but the sentiment was true, my gran could burn water. Her sausages were legendary, and were nicknamed Granny's Rusty Sausages for she would grill them, put them in the fridge, and then fry them when she wanted to eat them; so their skins were incredibly tough and well, rusty.

But she could make the most delicious jam.

09 August 2007


I is proving a little hard to write about. Sure there are numerous words out there that begin with the right letter but the blog muse seems to have wandered off for the evening, perhaps for an icecream? Who knows!

Tomorrow Ikea is coming to deliver some furniture including a shelving rack for the under-the-stairs-cupboard where everything cleaning related is stored on one tiny, overfilled and leaning at an unsafe angle shelf. Is it sad that I am so looking forward to putting up that shelfing rack? Or just natural since an iron has missed hitting me on the head several times as it toppled off the leaning shelf.

08 August 2007


We all have our own idea of what makes us happy. For some it's a pair of Manolo Blahniks, for others it's doing something nice for a stranger.

For the Count it's a clean nappy, a full tummy, a convenient thumb and his snuggly blanket.

07 August 2007

Gorgeous and Green

To prevent a reoccurence of yesterday, the FB, the Count and I went for a walk through the parks to a fantastic playground about 2 miles away. Usually at this time of the year the grass is brown and dry, and everything has a sort of brittle, dried out quality to it; but because we've had so much rain, the grass and everything is still lush and green.

This photo was taken about 5 minutes walk from my home; another 2 minutes walk, and the view would have been of a burnt out abandoned car.
We spent 3 hours in the playground while the FB checked out all the climbing frames and slides but as we took a picnic with us, and it was such a beautiful day it didn't matter.

On the way home as we searched for an icecream van we walked through the grounds of this house. I couldn't tell you what it is called just that it is set in one of the parks we walk through and the gardens are lovely.

Then, beside the church where Sir Walter Raleigh's head some believe is buried, we finally found an icecream van.

06 August 2007

F is for ...

Folk of the Faraway Tree - I'm reading that to the FB at present and he seems to love it. We've got an old version from 1972 and the vocab is so completely different ie "queer" gets used a lot

First Born - My plan was to upload a few photos of the FB from birth to present but I can't find any from his 2nd birthday. I suspect they are upstairs on a computer somewhere. Ach I'll put a baby photo up instead..or as Blogger is playing funny buggers, perhaps I won't.

Filofax - the pinnacle of stationary. Is there anything better than the smell of a new leather filofax, its pages pristine and ready for use?

Friends? - The question mark is there because today the preteen was trying to get 2 of his little chums (aged 5 and 7) to fight the FB for his (the FB's) water pistol. After it was pointed out that this was not on they proceeded to send my son to Coventry for the rest of the day. I wish I knew why they had taken against him so and if it could be mended.

05 August 2007

E is for Embroidery

I started to learn how to embroider yesterday with help from a children's website. Kids' websites are much better for these sort of things because their diagrams and instructions are far clear than those written for adults. I read a lot of craft blogs and am always very envious of their skills and the beautiful things they produce. Plus I have loads of thread to use in so many fantastic bright colours

04 August 2007

D is for dead languages, dunces and dropping names

Latin's a dead language
It's as dead as can be.
It killed off the Romans,
and now it's killing me.

Did you have to study Latin in school? I did it for a year when I was 12 and was so bad at it that I was put into the class for pupils too stupid to study Latin. A shame really as I seem to recall rather enjoying it. All I can remember of it now is "amo, amas, amat" and "Ecce, in pictura est puella nomine Falvia" (please excuse my spelling, 12 was a long long time ago). Actually the year that I failed so badly at Latin was also the year in which I had lunch with the Queen, but that's another story and one that may fall under the letter Q if I'm stuck, which I probably will be.

03 August 2007

The ABCs

I feel that my writing has lost a little bit of something recently. This is probably because my life revolves around family, cleaning and the West Wing which is rather limiting for blog entries. So when I read on domesticali that there is a new meme doing the rounds called Encyclopedia of Me which requires a post a day for the month of August I was hopeful that this might get me going again.

A is for Abroad

I've promised this a few times before - where I've lived..
I was born in the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh. My mother worked there as a nurse before I was born so knew the staff and was helping out making beds a few days after I was born.
Middle East
We moved to Doha, Qatar before I started school. Water came to your house in a tanker, minor road were just tracks in the sand, electricity cuts were the norm, rats were everywhere, and then there were (Aunty do NOT look) these.
As well as Qatar, I've lived in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and Tel Aviv in Israel

North America
When I was 18 I moved to the US (against the expressed wishes of my parents) to Kalamazoo in Michigan and boy was it cold! A few months later I moved across the state to Detroit and within days I left and went up to Ottawa to stay with family in Canada.
OK let's see, I've lived in Epstein and Bönstadt near Frankfurt am Main, working as an aupair firstly with 18 month old twins, and then with 2 young children; and Maastricht in the Netherlands.
The UK
Apart from those well known centres of culture Edinburgh, Crieff and London, I spent 3 years in Northampton studying at Uni.

B is for Babies Crying and Cooing
The Count has the most adorable cry. He's still got a sort of newborn cry which doesn't have the same lungpower as an older baby and when he's very tired he doesn't bother crying, instead he just lies there saying "mwahhh" which frankly is too cute for words.
When the FB was four months old he stopped sleeping through the night and started waking up every few hours for no discernable reason. We tried everything from moving him into his own room, to taking notes of how often and much he fed, and even, to the disgust of the health visitor, tried Gina Ford but the FB refused to cooperate and nap at the appropriate time. Eventually we had to go the hard way which was to leave him to cry at night. It took a couple of nights of lying in bed listening to him scream himself to sleep (which were horribly hard) but he got over his nightwaking.
Both of them (well the FB doesn't any more but he did when he was a baby) coo, smile and laugh at something that no one else can see.

C is for Cleaning Ovens
When I lived in Tel Aviv I had a job as pot wash in a very popular bar in Tel Aviv port. As jobs go it wasn't bad, the pay was good and the only dangers came from broken glasses the waitresses would put in with the dishes and the unwelcome attention from Benny the greasy cook. He had a weird obsession with wanting to cook me a "white meat" meal. So anyway, one day the bar got a notice saying that they were getting inspected by Environmental Health so the whole kitchen had to be cleaned. A lot of the food served up was fried and the walls above the fryers were caked in grease which meant a special alkelai cleaner needed to be used. I was given rubber gloves to do this but as I was cleaning the walls the stuff was running down my gloves onto my arms, and as I watched little pocks were being burnt/melted into my arms. I remember the weird tingling feeling and looking down as they appeared. I also had a big one burnt into the joint of my thumb where a hole had let the cleaner through.
So oven cleaning??? Well today's Motivated Mum's list had oven cleaning on it, and as it is the first time I've done it since we moved, and I'm still speculating as to whether the house was cleaned before we moved in, I used a seriously strong cleaner on it. As I cleaned I felt a tingling feeling down my right arm but fortunately this time there wasn't anything there. Phew!

01 August 2007

Not thrice but five times unlucky

The landlord must despair of us. Within the first month of us moving into the house we have:

  • lost one set of keys and had to call him out to let us in, just as a thunderstorm arrived
  • locked ourselves out a few days later when the frontdoor was pushed closed with the keys still in it, unfortunately on the inside (the door locks automatically). We had to call a locksmith to come and jimmy the door open
  • had to call out an electrician when we noticed the shaving plug in the bathroom nextdoor to the FB's bedroom was buzzing and getting rather warm.
  • had to have the landlord and two of his workers, come round to sort out the patio not once but twice. First time before the floods and then yesterday they were back taking up the stones and refilling and levelling the ground that was devastated by the waterfall.
  • And now we need a plumber to take a look at the dishwasher which isn't behaving itself.

This is getting ridiculous!

But, the patio is finished, the washingline is back up (just in time as the Count is now in cloth nappies) and the sun is shining (said as the dark clouds begin to roll in....)

(and thank you to all of you who left your commiserations on Monday's news.)