What do you do when you get a phone call at 9.30pm from a friend asking you to make a birthday cake for her husband the next day? This was ...
As I went into my teenagers cave a few months ago, she jumped out of bed, went straight to her Ipod, flicked through the music and put on J...
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I have joined an exclusive club. If ever I find myself next to Victoria Beckham, Madonna or Mickey Rourke at a cocktail party in Be...
This morning my nine year old daughter suggested that we take photographs of the family and make them into our own personalised Christmas...
When my teenage daughter isn’t squeezing spots she does not know what to do with her hands. I mean it. It is something that I became aware...
I'm turning in to Deirdre Barlow from Coronation Street. My constant battles with my daughters are eating away at me. The ...
Tuesday, 7 May 2013
Tuesday, 26 March 2013
Fifteen minutes spent digging around in the freezer with a head torch and pick axe paid off this week when I found what I had been looking for. With a celebratory "EUREKA!" I held aloft a packet of Ikea meatballs. There was no need to go shopping, I'd have dinner for six on the table in half an hour thanks to these tasty Swedish meatballs, something I purchase for emergency situations like today. "YUK. They are not meatballs. They are horse balls." Objection number one came from the teenager. "Maybe they are but you have been eating them for five years and never complained". "Well I never knew they were made of horse. I'm not eating them". She tapped away at her phone furiously. Last week, unbeknown to me, she secretly videoed me singing Minnie Ripperton's "Loving You" and uploaded it onto Facebook without telling me. It's like living with a Sky News film crew and I am the main story. For all I know, she could have filmed me in the freezer chipping away at the ice with a pick axe five minutes ago. At this moment I could well have a million hits and have 'gone viral'. But with three of the four children owning small electronic devices that record, the only sensible thing left to do is to get them to sign a confidentiality agreement before they come down to breakfast. But back to meatballs.
"HORSE?" Objection number two came from the other teenager in the house. "I'm not eating them either". Great. Teenage revolt at tea time. Just what I needed. "What's the difference between a cow and a horse?" "Is this a joke?" "NO. They are both animals. They eat horses in France, shark in Australia and our Chihuahua would probably be skewered and served with chilli dipping sauce in Korea". They rolled their eyes. I rolled my eyes. They rolled their eyes again. I rolled my eyes again until one of them screamed "STOP THAT! YOU ARE SO ANNOYING". So I did stop but not before pointing out that I was copying them. "He'll eat them," the eldest pointed at her eight year old brother as he came into the kitchen. "Eat what?" he asked innocently, "You'll eat horse balls." He looked confused, "Horse BALLS?" He was chewing on something and it wasn't meat. I pulled a bit of Lego from his mouth. "Why are you eating Lego?" "I'm not eating it, I'm chewing it". The dog was at his feet chewing furiously on something. She spat out a piece of Lego. This was getting ridiculous.
"We are all eating these meatballs tonight and you will like them." I tried to take control of the situation in a no nonsense Dr Eva kind of way, arguing that this would be the last time we ate them because Ikea have stopped making them. The irony of it all is that when they do make them again using beef, they'll probably not taste as nice. "I AM NOT EATING HORSE". The teenage voices were getting louder, this could end in a riot and the one thing I knew that I didn't have in stock was tear gas and a plastic shield. I looked at the Easter cards on the window ledge with bright yellow chicks on the front. "What about these lovely fluffy little chicks?" The teens ignored me. Their fingers glued to the tiny keypads in their hands. "Those fluffy little chicks end up in the oven virtually every Sunday in this house. You eat chicken all the time. What about chickens eh?" Next, I held a card with the Easter Bunny on the front under their noses. "What about him eh? Rabbit is becoming VERY popular in kitchens right now". I had heard it on a morning chat show so it must be true. "What's the difference between a chicken and a horse?" They both rolled their eyes at me again, glued to their technology. I looked down at the dog who looked up at me with love and devotion, fast becoming the only one who does.
Without looking up the eldest muttered something in the direction of the family pet, "She'll eat them all". I slammed a saucepan down on the counter, "FEED THEM TO THE DOG? Don't be so ridiculous". But there was little doubt that our tiny four legged furry angel was hungry. She stood, motionless, with those beady eyes darting between me and the fridge door. The humans in the house would have to wait. I took out the dinner that I had made earlier and heated it up. The dog stood at my feet salivating. She watched as I put a ladle full into a pan, slowly heated it up and then blew on it so that it wasn't too hot. "What is that?" the teenager asked, sniffing the air. As it happens, dinner for the dog that night was strips of beef, braised carrots and celery with homemade gravy. For that finishing touch, a handful of dog biscuits scattered on top like croutons. She ate the whole lot in under two minutes, licking the bowl for five minutes afterwards just to make sure that she hadn't missed a morsel. "Are you serious?" the eldest watched in disbelief. "Oh now I really have seen it all. So the dog gets home-made beef stew and we, your children, get Ikea horse balls?" I covered the dogs ears. "Shhh, it said beef fillet on the label, but it might be horse".
Ikea have not only stopped selling the meatballs, they've recently taken their marzipan cakes from the shelves too. The cakes were found to contain coliform bacteria, something normally found in faeces. I'm totally confused and dreading my next weekly shop. How do I know what I am buying anymore. On top of it all I'm getting hot flushes. Is this the menopause? Will I need HRT? It turns out that half of that is made from horses urine. Still, Kildare is the Thoroughbred County. At least I'll get a good discount.
Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Working from home has a few benefits. Today for example, as I was finishing off a piece for the local paper, I heard Phillip Schofield introduce this woman on ITV's 'This Morning'. Stephany claims to have sex with aliens. For those people who missed it I am posting it here. If you have experienced anything similar, please contact me. The Leinster Leader has been around since 1880 and I am certain that it has not covered this topic.....
Sunday, 10 March 2013
Art smuggling wasn’t something that I had ever planned to do.....
It all came about quite by accident when last Sunday I found myself at Manchester Airport flying home from a weekend in the Lake District. I was travelling with friends Patsy and Lena.
These little trips away are what keep me sane. The venue and location really don’t matter, it’s that sense of escape, fun and getting away from everyday life that does. We spent three days laughing, drinking and eating far too much and we all agreed, in the words of Mrs Valentine, “It was great to have the old Shirley back”. The saga started because Lena purchased two beautiful, large paintings from a little shop in Windermere.
“They won’t fit in my suitcase” Lena groaned at as we went through security. The paintings were long and thin like two large planks of wood. We were travelling with Ryanair and the three of us knew that they would not show any pity if she tried to carry them on under her arms.
The rule is simple: one piece of hand luggage only. If Lena tried to carry them on she would be plucked from the crowd, the paintings would be taken from her and thrown in the hold with the pushchairs, oversize bags and ski equipment and they would charge her fifty Euro for the pleasure.
The thought of it all was giving Lena a panic attack until, “We could always smuggle them on to the plane up our jumpers!” Patsy piped up with a twinkle in her eye. I had read somewhere that people now wear special Ryanair coats with twenty deep pockets sewn into them and regretted not having bought one for myself earlier.
“I know a man who smuggled on a Paella pan last year,” Patsy went on, before going into a sneezing fit, “And a lampshade”. She was sniffing her way through a head cold and suffering torn ligaments in both ankles. She also has a very real fear of flying. We decided that a little Ryanair smuggling could be the perfect adventure to end our trip.
Waiting for out gate to open, we headed for the packed restaurant area. “I need a drink. My ankles hurt. What if the plane crashes?” Patsy quickly knocked back two glasses of wine. Lena wasn’t coping either and joined her. “What if we get caught? My husband will kill me.”
“CALM DOWN” I hissed to them both. My accomplices were getting loud and panicking just when we had to avoid drawing attention to ourselves. I looked around at the packed departure lounge like Michael Caine in The Italian Job.
The very worse thing that could happen was that the paintings would fall out from under out coats. There would be a smash of glass, possibly an injury or two and a few surprised passengers. My two companions finished the bottle of Chardonnay just as our flight was called and people began to board. “Ready girls? Here we go!”
Standing up, I discreetly took one of the paintings and put it behind me, tucking it up under my shirt. Next, taking the scarf from my neck, I tied it securely around the painting and my middle. Finally, I put on my padded hiking jacket and stood up. The painting was long and I am short. My jacket poked up behind my head, like I had a large and pointy hump.
My two partners in crime were in no fit state to help. They were face down on the table laughing hysterically and very soon had the whole restaurant looking my way. “SHHHHH!”. This unwanted attention would attract the Ryanair crew and we’d have to abort the mission. Pushing the painting down, I was now awkwardly bent over at forty-five degrees to stop it falling on the floor.
Lena stuffed her painting up her jumper, tied a scarf around her middle. Being tall she carried it off well, better than me. Like Quasimodo, I waddled over to the gate and calmly joined the queue trying my best not to look suspicious. “You look like you are wearing a back brace” Patsy whispered, boozy tears flowing from her eyes.
She and Lena were out of control and far too merry for the seriousness of the situation. They could barely focus. We reached the front of the queue. I handed over my ticket. The Ryanair attendant looked at me, my nose almost touching my knees, my stiff back, my odd shaped, pointy little hump and said nothing. What could she say? She was hardly going to accuse me of smuggling anything onto a plane when clearly I looked like I had just fallen from a horse.
Lena stood beside me, bolt upright, like an ironing board was taped to her back. The wine was helping her immensely. She didn’t speak, just grinned wildly, eyes bloodshot. Patsy stood behind us hiccuping and sneezing. Before we knew it, we had made it through the boarding gate. Climbing on to the plane bent double was not easy, it was blowing a gale and I could not look up.
Once inside, the cabin was packed but the back row empty. It was the most discreet place for us to sit. We carefully sat down and removed our coats, the scarves and finally the paintings. The flight attendants didn’t see a thing as we removed the art and hid it under our seat.
It was a hideous flight home, wet, windy and very bumpy but thankfully fearful Patsy didn’t notice. The adrenaline and wine flowed through her veins. She sang songs from ‘Les Miserables’ for the duration of the thirty-five minute journey back to Dublin. The whole plane had no choice but to listen as she belted out “A Little Fall of Rain” and “I Dreamed a Dream”, even making herself cry at one point. Just as she was about to give herself a standing ovation, we began our discent into Dublin.
Next year’s trip is already booked. Forget Ryanair, we’re taking the ferry over. All things considered, it’s the sensible option.
Sunday, 10 February 2013
If you are thinking of rescuing a dog, here's our story. We found our little pet back in October. Six months later and the love affair continues. We searched high and low to find the perfect dog and eventually found our chihuahua 'Penny' at an animal rescue centre in Wicklow. As the photo below shows, she was in a bad, bad way on the day that we met her. She had been found wandering the mountains, terrified and starving. She came to our home and changed our lives.
As the weeks went by she became stronger and much happier. She has a great appetite, is full of love and fun and has never looked stronger or happier than she is today. Here's a video of her now, playing her best game of all. Jumping over the broom handle.
If you live in Ireland and are considering animal adoption, I highly recommend that you look no further than Ash Animal Rescue in Wicklow. Good luck!
Friday, 1 February 2013
Saturday afternoon was a very windy day. I decided to nip into the local German supermarket with my daughter to buy ingredients for a big comforting pot of stew. I went at the busiest time which was a bit silly. It was three in the afternoon and, because of the crowds, it took much longer then normal to push the trolly through the aisles.
Shopping at German supermarkets suits me because, like Ryanair, they are basic with no frills. Being a simple kind of gal, I don't like fuss in any way, shape or form. I like the way that boxes of fruit are always stacked up high on 'Super Saturday'. People were buying lemons and grapefruit like there was going to be a world shortage, all because they were 39c for three, for one day only. The problem is that, even if you go into Aldi or Lidl for something simple like a bag of spuds, you end up being drawn to a central aisle selling foot spas, disco balls and laminated maps of the world. "Can I buy this?" my daughter asked, holding up a paper shredder. "No" I fired back, putting down the digital bathroom scales that I had mindlessly picked up in my shopping trance.
In half an hour the trolley was full and we went to our final destination, the tinned tomato and pasta section. A tall and healthy looking forty-something man with architect glasses and a hefty woollen raincoat was holding a can of pesto sauce very close to his face. He was reading the back of the jar intensely. Unfortunately for me, he was blocking the tinned tomatoes shelf. I waited patiently, hoping the power of positive thought would be enough to make him move. It didn't and my daughter and I stood watching him as he examined the pesto closely. I was about to ask him to move when suddenly and unexpectedly he let out the most enormous fart. Gas out, he didn't take his eyes off the jar in his hand or look around to see if anyone was close by. I quickly pushed my trolley around the corner; I had no choice because my daughter was laughing. "Mum! I can't believe you did that" "It was NOT me!" I was appalled. His fart was so loud, almost volcanic. Not something I, or anyone I know, would ever part with in a German supermarket on Super Saturday (of all days).
A few minutes later, I poked my head around the corner. The man had moved on from the aisle. I grabbed the tin of tomatoes that I had been looking for and our shopping was complete. We unloaded our trolley onto the conveyor belt as quickly as we could in preparation for loading our bags as fast as humanly possible. This race is another quirky German supermarket feature that I treat like an Olympic sport. I managed to unload a trolley onto the conveyor belt in under thirty seconds. Surely a record? As I wiped the sweat from my face, my daughter poked me "LOOK. It's HIM". I looked round and saw that Mr Farty had pulled up directly behind us with his trolley. "Don't stare!" I poked her back.
"Good afternoon" the cashier greeted me. That's another thing about the German supermarkets, all of the cashiers are trained to say hello and smile broadly when you buy your groceries. They will continue to smile and be polite unless you make the fatal mistake of packing your shopping straight into carrier bags. You are not allowed to do this and you will be told off. Being a natural born rule breaker I do it anyway and, whenever I am challenged, I argue that I can pack my groceries so quickly that it won't slow down the scanning process one bit. I rolled up my sleeves, ready to pack my bags in lightning speed. It was all going so well. That was until he did it again. My nemesis. Without a care in the world, Mr Farty, in his woollen coat and architect glasses, broke wind. This time, we were not alone. Everyone heard it. Even the cashier who raised an eyebrow at me as she scanned my lemons. My daughter got a fit of the giggles.
"Mum. That one really WAS you". "Shhh! No it wasn't!" I hissed, throwing tinned tomatoes, onions and grapefruits into my carrier bags. The cashier was frowning at me. She was about to tell me off when, right on cue, he did it again. Loudly. "That WAS you Mum!". "IT WAS NOT ME". By now we had an audience. This was becoming a bit of a scene. This was not the attention that I was looking for. I had only come in to get my stew ingredients. The man stood motionless staring straight ahead, avoiding eye contact with anyone. He was an expert. He probably does this all the time. I was angry. Angry at this man who was happily farting the time away without a hint of remorse and letting me take the blame. To make it worse, now the cashier and everyone standing in the packed till queues was listening to my daughter and smiling politely.
"That really stinks!" My daughter was hysterical now, wafting the air in front of her with one hand and dramatically holding her nose with the other. Around me, it smelt of blocked drains. This was all turning into a nightmare situation and all the while, Mr Farty remained stony faced, not an ounce of guilt showing on his face. I was now faced with the prospect of publicly taking the blame and apologising for something I did not do, or pointing at the real culprit and shaming him publicly. It was a lose/lose situation. Either way, I looked bad. I paid and ran out.
If you were there last week on Super Saturday, hand on heart, I promise that it wasn't me. It was him.