Monday, 17 October 2011

birthday girl

a few days ago by now. i always try to take the day off & spoil myself - it's usually gorgeous weather on 4 october. this year, the weather was horrid and work was manic. my parents had been for the weekend - all the way from the netherlands, especially! - & returned home, the kids had made me a card, which they handed over in the morning but then they were at school. so basically i decided i'd had a lovely birthday weekend, went to work, brought cakes in, and hid in my office to write grant proposals, publications, and meet with my personal tutees. a pretty ordinary tuesday. but.... i had not reckoned with my mates!

it was their birthday too, only 9&10 days later & they organised supper for all of us here. we started with an amuse of duck rillettes, pork crackling, and marinated cucumber, then i had portland crab salad with horseradish mayonnaise, loin of venison with caramelised chicory, maple syrup pear with milk chocolate mousse, wines, coffee, all organised by & experienced with some of the loveliest people on earth..... who needs a day off when there's mates like mine :-)

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

physics made cool

i came across this link and want to preserve it for when my kids go to secondary school (just in case their physics teacher is anywhere near as uninspiring as mine was). in the meantime, may i suggest everyone has a look! for instance, how far away is tomorrow...? or Schrödinger's Cat  made easy... personally i find it hilarious & amazing. all in a minute!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

friendship cake

two weeks ago, i was given a mixture named Herman. he came with instructions, which included lots of stirring and chatting, plus a feed on days 4, 9 and 11 because then Herman would be starving

the kids completely entered into the spirit of things. every morning and evening Herman was stirred, asked whether he was still comfortable where he was, did he need anything, etc. 

monday night, just as i was settling down with my cup of mint tea, all of a sudden i heard a howling from upstairs. eldest (this is highly unusual). 'we forgot to feed Herman and he is hungry!' she just about managed to utter, genuinely extremely upset, through her tears. 

for just this once, i let both kids clamber out of bed again to feed Herman. 200g of self raising flour, 250g of sugar, 200ml milk. 'is that better darling?' 2 angelic voices asked.

today was day 11. here he is...... and here are 3 more little Hermans on their way to the next sets of friends (and yes, i have run out of tupperware boxes....)

Friday, 7 October 2011


have you come across this yet?

look at the image below - the two cards have one symbol in common. 
can you spot it....?

this is something you should spot in a blink. 

now what about the next one?

that was easy wasn't it

now how about the next one?

i must confess, this now lives in my handbag & 
the kids finish their breakfast extra quickly so we can get a game in before school. 
adrenalin levels soar, tears flow, curses echo

i reckon everyone should have this. 
such fun!!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

little girl, big instrument

one day at the end of year 1, eldest came home all excited because she had been introduced to the double bass (contrabas (!)). some boys in her year group had made fun of her & said she was too small to play the double bass but she had protested, the teacher had supported her, and there we were - eldest proclaimed firmly she is very good at playing double bass and she wanted lessons. she may be small, she may be scared of dogs, swimming, flies, and all sorts, but if she wants something she is what we call determined.

a double bass for a girl 1 metre tall. hmm.

the teacher suggested she should get a 16th size one (not for sale or rent anywhere)

after one summer of searching the entire country we ended up with an 8th size. the people from the shop told me they could turn it around in 2 days once i had signed on the dotted line. i made the mistake of telling eldest (a difficult mistake to avoid, if you ask me, given that since july she had been asking on a daily basis when her double bass would arrive)

instead of 2 days, it took them 3 weeks (not their fault, they're lovely, etc)

the first week, every day eldest would be all expectant 'i wonder what came in the post for me today....' (big smiley face)

the second week, 'do you think they brought my double bass today??' (pretty sceptical sad face)

the third week 'i know there will not be a double bass in the post for me today. luckily, i'm patient!' (adorable)

on monday morning i was about to drive off to work when i looked outside & started to **!! 'what is that van doing blocking my way ou............... ELDEST!!! i reckon this must be your double bass!!! :-)

we ran outside and decided we could be late for school & work. last night she practised the A and the D string in pizzicato and with the bow. when i checked on her before i went to bed, as always, she was talking in her sleep. 'she liked my double bass'
life is bliss.

Friday, 30 September 2011

DWZI / this week i saw...

a smiley face! (or... spelling III)

De DWZIdeelnemers van deze week
vind je hier

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Monday, 26 September 2011


eldest is in year 2 now and that means homework. spelling, to be precise. she gets a list home on friday, to be practised over the week. test on thursday. if she's done well, there is a next set of words that friday.

the first set of words was

ok, i thought. because will be tricky (she usually spells it 'becos') but the rest is a doddle

then i forgot all about it.
well, sort of.
just busy, you know. i see them for breakfast and for bath & story time and denial is a wonderful thing. the weekend was spent at their cousin's birthday. that sort of thing. i'm a last-minute mummy.

wednesday night, panic hit. gaaaaahhh gotta do that spelling. right. 'how do you spell after?'


oh dear. ok. let's sit down and do spelling instead of story time this evening. she just loved spelling 'because' and got it right every time.

next morning, we drive to school, cheerfully practising the words again (eldest, cheerful; mother, quietly frantic), she gets them all.

you're soooo clever eldest!
yes i'm soooo clever aren't i mummy?! i can tell Mrs L i am sooooooooo clever! i learnt all my spelling in just one day!
(no darleenk you don't tell her that bit)

she has been given a next set of words
we have already managed to practice... twice...Smiley

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


the kids each had their own bowl for mussel shells when they had their supper this evening. eldest took one disapproving look at youngest's bowl, poked me in the side as a real confidante and said 'that cow has horns mummy but that's not really true is it - cows don't have horns do they mummy'.


i hadn't even noticed that.

probably they're just yellow ears though - what do you think?

Sunday, 18 September 2011

terug van weg geweest

jaja we zijn alweer drie weken terug en al het bruin is er al weer af. maarrrrrrrrrrrrr ik wou u toch niet onthouden hoe jongste heel netjes heeft geleerd dat, als je een ober wilt roepen, je niet roept van 'oi!' of met je vingers gaat knippen of anderszins vulgair gedrag - nee, je gaat proberen zijn blik te vangen met een vriendelijke glimlach. zie hieronder het effect (wel effe 't geluid aanzetten svp):
(in Dutch, this time, because the commentary is in Dutch - basically this is youngest politely trying to catch the waiter's attention - without whistling, waving, or otherwise vulgar behaviour)

Thursday, 15 September 2011

surf's up!

plans to go camping & take up kite surfing turned into a girls’ weekend in a luxury apartment in cornwall with (ordinary) surfing on the side. i’m a wuss, have never been surfing before & can’t even fly a kite in my backyard. do you reckon those girls knew my hopes for kite surfing are basically non-existent…?
those lurvely girls organised it all so i could literally just collapse into a fluffy comfortable bed having caught the last train from heathrow (just, despite industrial action. hurrah!). walked in to find my bedroom signposted and dry white in the fridge. woke up to a gorgeous walk along the beach, only to find freshly squeezed orange juice & croissants out & ready upon our return  

(look! there's a big one!)

were we put off by the size of those waves...?

 i don’t think so!!!

hurrah! same again this friday then?Smiley

Thursday, 4 August 2011

DWZI / this week i saw...

one very creative opa and two natural born cyclists!

Alle DWZIbloggers van deze week
vind je hier

Wednesday, 3 August 2011


tsja dames.... bij haar kwam ik het idee tegen van de 'single mom survival tips'. vandaag ontdekte ik er zelf een, die volgens mij ook bere handig is voor moms die niet single zijn. vandaag kwam ik een wespennest tegen in de buitenmuur.

iiiiieeeeek!!!!! hellup. ik had gelijk visioenen van hele dagen thuis moeten zitten wachten tot het de gemeentereiniging schikt om langs te komen. een vriendin had al eens gemeld hoe ingewikkeld het is; je moet een centraal nummer bellen, je mag niet rechtstreeks met de juiste afdeling praten, we bellen u terug mevrouwtje, blabla jaja probeer dat maar eens te regelen tussen alle andere 30,000 dingen door. pfieuw. maarja, getsiederrie, wespen ik heb er echt zo ontzettend zwaar de jeweetwel aan.

en toen

ontdekte ik


nippon wespennest vernietiger!! hoeraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa :-) slechts £3.99. effe spuiten van veilige 3 meter afstand (ze zeggen 8 seconden en ik geef eerlijk toe ik heb in een volle minuut vrijwel de hele spuitbus leeg gespoten) en klaar is klara. opgehoepeld vieze rotwespen! HA!

je moet dat doen als het donker is en die arme zielige wespjes heerlijk liggen te slapen in hun onschuld. mijn ouders zouden net naar bed maar die kwamen toch nog effe terug om te kijken of ik niet mijn hele gezicht onder de wraakzuchtige mormels had zitten. nee hoor. mijn gezicht hangt boven een lekker glaasje droge witte wijn om het te vieren. Smiley

Sunday, 31 July 2011

circus star challenge

for the kids' summer holiday, their library puts up the 'circus star challenge'. the kids are given an empty circus, they borrow books of their liking from the library and when they return them they tell the lady from the library all about the book they read. 

when they've read the first book & told the lady all about it, they can stick their name on '1' in the library and they are given some circus star stickers to put in their circus. same with book 2, etc until they've done 6.

 and then......... for their first assembly when they return to school, the head master reads out all the names of the children who completed the circus star challenge (i.e. did the whole thing for the 6 books) and they are given a medal by the library lady, who comes to the school especially for that occasion.

nice eh? but flipping heck. you try & get 6 library visits packed in as a full time working mother when you're also off to a conference for a week & taking them camping for 2. mega phew. forget it, is the answer. good thing their grandparents are such devotees.... :-) three cheers to oma & opa for their support! 

Thursday, 28 July 2011

DWZI / this week i saw...

some photographs on my blackberry i had completely forgotten i had! youngest feeding white asparagus into the peeler machine earlier this year. so apologies - about 3 months late - here they are (we had such a delicious meal!):

Deze week zag ik is een initiatief van Daan en Roos
(geïnspireerd op Jills Today I saw).
Meedoen? Leuk!
Klik op het deze week zag ik logo rechts in de sidebar.
Daar vind je ook de lijst van deelnemers:
kun je zien wat zij zagen!

Friday, 22 July 2011

DWZI / this week i saw...

my kids off to foundation and year 1 for the last time! my goodness how time flies. before i know it they'll be saying 'goodbye school'   Smiley i must confess i needed my sunglasses. 

not my babies - they were mega proud. youngest is more than ready for year 1. eldest is more than ready for year 2. i've got until september to get used to it... 

Bezoek ook de andere DWZI-ers
Je vindt ze hier

Wednesday, 20 July 2011


every morning i take a latte into work in my wonderful thermos from Starbucks (best thermos ever. keeps my coffee lovely hot & tasting as if it has been freshly made for 2 whole hours! have tried about 20,000 other thermos' and none of them are any good. everyone just has to have this one. best £15 i ever spent).

on two mornings each week, my kids have breakfast club. it gives me an opportunity to be at my desk by 8am and the kids like it as long as they can scooter to school on the other 3 mornings.

breakfast club means - leave the house at 7.20. that means mega-efficient mornings: up at the first sound of the alarm at 6:30, shower, entice the kids to wake up & get dressed, brush teeth, quick quick quick, make their packed lunches, woops in the car & to school.

dunno wot it's like with your young ones, but mine don't do quick quick quick, especially not that early in the morning and especially not if they know i want to get out the door & breakfast club etc. of course - there are ways. so i have this rule that the first who is ready is allowed to make my latte and if they're slow then i'll do it myself. usually youngest wins that contest.

on this occasion, eldest really went for it. mega proud she was that she could make me my latte. and, because she was so quick, it actually turned out that i was the last one to be ready this morning. oops! can't really cope with that sort of thing. so........ rushed out, into the car, on the way to school. late again!

i soon realised i'd forgotten my latte. that should give you a clue exactly how rushed i was - i'm pretty dependent on the stuff. so i went: ooooooooooops! wot? said the kids - by then i had realised my mistake but of course it was too late & i had to 'fess up. 'forgot my latte......' i said (thinking, what is more of a time waster, buying myself one at the university or reversing on this horrid curvy single traffic lane with a trench and hedges both sides, about 2 miles all the way back home - i'll buy one at the uni) 'oh well, will have to do without today'.

at this, eldest's bottom lip began to tremble severely. 'but i made it for you!'

no arguing with that, i tell you. i didn't even try. i reversed all the way back, and doubly enjoyed my latte, knowing it had been so lovingly prepared by my little girl.