Monday, 30 May 2011

And they lived happily ever after....

It was indeed, the stuff dreams are made of: Once upon a time a dear friend called C, married his beautiful princess S in (the above) fairytale Italian castle and they lived happily ever after... even after the wedding was attended by a group of drunken school buddy Irish mentalists.

Boy I feel blue. I have so so so looked forward to going to Trieste and my dear friend's nuptials. I knew it would be special for many reasons: sunshine - hurrah for a hot sun beating down on my old tired face; no kids - need I say more?; a wonderful celebration in what looked to be a beautiful old majestic castle, right next to the sea; hanging out with people who I have spent my lifetime loving and meeting new folk who undoubtedly would be brilliant; spending quality time with Husband; getting a lie in; drunken dancing and U2 songs for cert. And now I am back to porridge. But for a second, just indulge me if you will, while I remember one of the best times I have ever had.

We flew out on Fri morning with 2 other couples - husband wanted to sleep so I sat with the others and talked their ears off. To my left was a bloke (who looked like Howard from Take That) who was also going to the wedding, with his beautiful pregnant girlfriend. By the end of the flight I felt like I had known them for years. When we arrived at the gorgeous hotel - set into the cliffs, overlooking the sea, we threw our clothes off, our swim gear on and headed to the beach area. There, as the grey sea whipped up a storm, we drank beer, met some others who had arrived earlier and began the banter that would last for 48 hours.

Dinner was a taxi ride away in a pizzeria in town - where we all mixed up the tables and sat with old friends and new ones. Afterwards a terrific storm hit us all as we stood outside a bar drinking in the centre of Trieste. Did it dampen our drinking ability? Oh no - we just hovered in shop doorways and proceeded to get drenched. One drink too many for my emotional self and I beat a hasty exit. The next day was sadly grey and cold. My body refused to let my hangover sleep itself off so I stuffed as many breakfast pastries down my gullet as possible and tries to read while husband snored. The day passed in a haze of eating - mind you being presented by raw fish and octopus tentacles with a hangover didn't do much for the appetite - and lounging. And then it was time to get a frock on, slap on the warpaint, totter on heels (dodgy with my ankle) and get ourselves on the coach.

We arrived to this entrance:

And proceeded to here for actual ceremony:

To say it was stunning is an understatement. Words kind of fail me. The view was spectacular. It was as if the gods of love had finally woken up and given the weather gods a kick in the arse - as suddenly the sun poked out from behind the ominous grey clouds and then it shone. The bride arrived and the groom swooned. When they proclaimed their love for one another and then kissed there wasn't a dry eye in the castle. It was simply magical.

From there we went to a terrace and drank prosecco watching the sun go down. We moved to another sheltered terrace and feasted on tasty canapes washed down with even more prosecco. It is one of the drinks you just can't get enough of. Then to the amazing dining room - filled with circular tables, candles, two splendid chandeliers and enough red wine to sink a ship. There were 5 courses, 4 emotional, poignant, witty and wonderful speeches in both English and Italian, 3 phone calls from Husband to work to find out the score in the Champions League final and much clinking of glasses toasting the 2 happiest folk in the portrait filled room. The atmosphere was relaxed, warm and full of joy. Every person was having a ball. Next to my table were a group of fabulously shoed Italian girls who had attended Uni with the bride - I had admired their shoe candy earlier - shoes which they later discarded when we went down into the tunnels of the castle to a fairylit stone-walled grotto replete with wishing fountain - and there we ate the cream filled cake, sucked on the ripest strawberries and washed it all down with potent mojitos. As you do. I bothered the poor DJ the whole night, basically spelling out his play list - Gaga, Madonna, Born Slippy, Gnarls Barclay - and then forced the man to download Beyonce's Crazy in Love for us all to shake our booties too. The night ended with us all in a circle to Sunday Bloody Sunday with a load of Italians wondering 'what the hell?'

We came, we drank, we danced our shoes off. It was 4am and time to leave. I never wanted it to end. We coached it back to the hotel where a drunken kilted Scotsman tried to get me to hold a wooden sign spelling out 'LOVE' that had done its rounds that evening - but somehow he ended up on top of me, our legs splayed out on the floor. At least one of us had underwear on and by one of us, I mean me. This guy had trekked the Sahara in his kilt and it was his secret weaponfor all occasions. After all that sweating over what to wear, I needn't have bothered as he stole the style crown of the event - as all the Italian fashionistas asked to have their photo taken with him!

I managed 4 hours sleep and then had to pack and fly home. Of course the sun split the skies and there were plans for a wedding post mortem lunch on the terrace at our hotel. I would have sold my Husband to have stayed. But I had to get back and rescue my Mum from our two kids. I hugged the groom and his lovely bride goodbye with a huge lump in my throat. I have known this guy since he was 6 - I have weathered his storms in life with him and now, now he has his happy ending. It was a honour to be there and witness that moment. Life is fleeting - before you know it, it is over. But those days, the ones filled with love and laughter and sunshine - well those are the days that make life worth living - the stuff dreams are made of.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

The cult of Nespresso

It all started with the smell.

Then the taste - rich, deep, almost nutty with a bitter lingering. The frothy milk sticking to the corners of my mouth - a dusty footprint from the delicious coffee that I had just sunk. I was at my friend Holly's house - having a natter, balancing a baby on one knee, watching Sproglet out of the corner of one eye and enjoying the end of day sunshine spilling in through their open patio doors. She made me a cup of coffee but it was unlike any other I have tasted. Forget it Starbucks - this was heaven. I was hooked. She showed me her sexy little Nespresso machine and announced she had another one - some delivery fluke - and offered to sell it to me. Before I knew what I was saying I had agreed to the machine and it's companion - an aeroccino kettle type thing that whisks up your milk into a bubbly cappuccino or a hot long latte.

She dropped it round the next day and I unwrapped my latest toy. It was magnificent. Replete with a folder telling me all about the lovely little capsules containing fine coffee - like a chocolate selection box, but sexier. I can't buy these little beauties in Waitrose or Sainsburies - oh no, to get me hands on some pure caffeine - I need to join the 'Nespresso club' - and order on line. It feels like a secret society - only terribly middle class coffee aficionados can join. I love it. Do I have ten of the Ristrettos or 5 of the Romas? Who knows what they all taste like? Not me - I've only had 3 coffees today - still another 13 to taste from the Grand Cru selection! Yes I am wired - so thank god for the de-cafs. Husband loves it. It is so simple - just fill up the water jug, pop in your capsule, plunk down the lid and press a button. Whhhirrrr. 1 minute to a coffee high. In your PJs - don't have to step anywhere near Costa... It is my favouritest gadget since my best mate gave me a rampant rabbit (back in the days when I had time to use one).

Can't wait to bust it out when the ladies come a callin' for my strawberry tea thingy in 3 weeks. Planning cupcakes, a carrot cake (with more frosting than carrot natch), chocolate fudge cake, strawberry cream cake, bunting, pimms, champers, floating candles, fairy lights and all things pretty and my fab new Nespresso to give us all a jolt when we've sunk too many Pimms. It feels like I have discovered a whole new mysterious world filled with interesting aromas and strong flavours. Who knew coffee could be so, well, sexy?

Talking of sexy - Husband has lost a tonne of weight. He looks great. Gone is his double chin and pot belly. Granted he isn't at 6 pack status yet - but the guns are out. We are actually going shopping tomorrow so he doesn't look like a homeless man next week when we go to Italy. Did I mention this? If not, I have no idea why not as it is all that has been on my tiny mind since - ohhh, last autumn. My dear mate C is marrying lovely S in Trieste in Italy - in a castle. Next Saturday. And all my fab school buddies are going (well there will be some sorely missed folk who have all had babies recently and cannot make it - we shall toast them in their absence). Most importantly of all we are going alone. As in, sans kids. SANS KIDS!!! My Mum, gawd bless her, is taking the reins and Husband and I are running for the hills - well Stanstead airport - and two nights of pure sleep, adult conversation without interruptions, lie-ins and late night drinking! A lie in, oh my god - I cannot tell you how much that excites me. Of course all we'll do is phone home and talk about the bairns, but we will fit in some obligatory tears at the bride lookin' lovely, some fine prosecco and a few Italian espressos to keep us awake through all the partying.

Wonder if the coffee will be as good as my Nespresso stash? I'll letcha know...

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Ouch! Help!

And punch! Kiora! Oh yes - and push - and kick! And to the left and to the right!

And - in the middle of body combat at 8:40am on Monday - I moved too fast to the right and whoosh! Thump! Crash! I was down. Like a sack of spuds - lying on the floor like a complete moron. First thought - get up, maybe no one will have noticed... Second thought - Ow. Ow. Ow. Ankle in agony - no chance of movement. I shuffled on my arse to the side of the class like a wounded animal.

So on Monday when I had planned combat, then trainer, Tues - run, Wed - run, Thurs - boxing and Fri - trainer (all in a bid to get bikini ready next week, as I go to Italy for a wedding, with old schoolmates - and post baby it aint purdey - and the small fact I am running a 5K run in 5 weeks...) I fell over and did this to my ankle:

It still hurts.

I went to hospital - no break - just 'nasty' according to the Docs. I can't run for 2 weeks - which is a bitch when I'm running this 5K...

Now 5K may mean nothing to you - it aint that far, true. But I am not a 'natural runner' according to my mates. That is a gross understatement - I am an asthmatic wheezing foolish heap. I began running for 3 mins (Paula Radcliffe explained how to train for a 5K the other week in the Times) at the end of which I collapsed/had an asthma attack/practically wet myself.

See below - a photo after my first ever run: (I look like the child catcher - maybe redder, I promise you in day to day life I am not so deformed)

As Peter has commented - this is perhaps the worst ever photo of me. Normally I look more like this:

See what running does to me?

Then I got up to 5 mins and now am at 15, then a minute walking and then a 10 min run. Then I want throw up. 5K is a full half hour run - which for me is like walking around the world - twice.

It is all in aid of Cancer Research - as show me someone who hasn't been affected by the big C and I'll show you an empty space. So readers, I have only asked once before (when that nice man last year let me off paying for the damage I did to his car, when he was jumping out of an aeroplane) but I am asking again. If you like this blog, please dig your hands in your pockets - a pound would do. Anything is great. I am running and sweating and going to finish, even with an ankle like a golfball. I promise more hideous pics if you do.

The link to follow:

As the Cancer Research folk say - together we can beat cancer. Be a part of it. Sponsor a tired old mother of two to raise her sweaty butt round a 5K race. If I can do it - anyone can.

Love CM xx

Wednesday, 11 May 2011


Ok I get it. This running malarkey. Today I huffed and puffed and did 10 mins straight(big achievement for asthma kid here - normally a sprint for the bus has me reaching for the old inhaler) and then a one min walk. Followed by another ten mins. It killed me - but all the stress of the day (been waking with knots in my tummy - the old work and what to do as time ticks on is getting to me; but that is another blog post...) just disappeared. Lungs felt open, skin felt tingly, I felt alive - invigorated and almost high. Plus I've worked out how to use my shuffle (turns out it aint that hard) and now have a kick ass soundtrack to pound along to. I just need a bit of Bittersweet Symphony, a smidgen of Beyonce and maybe a Prodigy track and I'm all set. Oh I quite fancy a Gaga 'Born this way' too... Trainer is still cute but vicious - and I ache all over. However, I am starting to see some signs of life in my arms and my legs are stronger. Get this - my right arm is stronger than my left - but my left leg is waaay stronger than my right. What the hell have I been up to? Gutted this week to have lost zero weight. Zero! All I have eaten is eggs, salad, meat and... that is it. Trainer tells me this is because I have lost fat, but put on all important muscle - which weighs more. Still, although my clothes now fit (size UK ten jeans again - hurrah) I wish the scales were kinder.

Anyway, my confidence boost of the week came on Saturday night when I went out with my good buddy K - a fab friend: up for fun, full of good chat and witty stories. We started off in a cute bar by the canal and chucked down a few vodkas - I said I wasn't drinking but it was a balmy evening and hell, I rarely get out so what harm would a few vodka lime and sodas do - couldn't hurt eh? Then we hit the Rising Sun - a sweet little pub that K likes - the kind with wobbly bar stools and a floor that your feet stick to. I clocked a cute boy stumbling up the stairs sporting a tuft of wayward hair and a peaked cap. This in itself is a miracle - I normally can't see the tv in front of me without glasses these days, plus I'd had a few - so he could easily have been a minger.

After putting the world to rights - and boy did we have lots to catch up on - K has just returned from 3 weeks in China no less - we ventured homeward - deciding to 'have one for the road' in a dodgy looking bar I have never set foot in. I perched at the bar and lo and behold but peaked cap boy suddenly was there beside me - now wearing a fluffy cardigan, over his shorts and vest top combo. I felt it my duty to tell him that his outfit (part summer stud, part winter granny) was a paradox. Why on earth I thought I was Gok Wan is beyond me - but I imparted my fashion wisdom while he explained that he had gone out at midday, dressed for summer and ended up staying out - but now it was rainy and cold, so he had borrowed a mate's cardi. This burst of chat brought forth his mate who decided that K and I were perfect fodder to try out his chat up lines on. They were dreadful but if a 20 year old is going to try and sweet talk you - what's the harm in listening?

Before I knew it a flock of cute boys had surrounded us and worst of all - I was involved in a drinking game. Now it looked complicated but in fact was mind numbingly simple: you all shake your clenched fists and then on the count of 3 show if you have a clenched fist (0 points) or a hand held outright (5 points). If 5 people play you have to guess how many points there will be - always a denomination of 5 and no more than 25. If you guess correctly you are out - free from drinking a horrible short or another. K guessed a number more than the folk present but just laughed and carried on downing her wine. I guessed wildly and lost. Before I knew it I was skulling Lambs Navy Rum (rum should be banned. No question - it is foul) and getting cheers all round - for losing.

Then I insisted on buying jagermeister and holding another round - because inside my head you see, I was 17 again. It was glorious - being surrounded by cute boy flesh - all desperate to impress the 'MILFs' they called us. I told them I was honoured to be a MILF and hoped to hold that status for a long time. One boy who wanted to be an actor (of course he did) had a look for Rob Lowe about him. I told him this and he said 'Who is Rob Lowe?'

Give me strength.

They all were too young to remember Fatal Attraction, any 80s music whatsoever and the last Royal Wedding. I felt sooo old and yet strangely young all at once. Peaked cap boy was flirting outrageously and declared that he had a large penis. As if that was a deal breaker for K and I. He was so cute, with such a toned, on display body that I felt like some old perv even taking a peak at his pecs. So once I had them all lapping up my stories and hanging on my every word - what did I do? Oh yes, I showed them pictures of my Husband. That's always a real turn on CM! K was embracing her inner youth with an unbridled passion and produced a round of sambucas for us all to swig. I kept saying how sober I was which was a clear indication of how sober I was not. As sweet peaked cap boy told me he wanted to kiss me - K dragged me off - not that I may add was I going to let the jailbait 19 year old anywhere near my haggard old lips - but just because we were old enough to be their Mothers and it was time to make a sharp exit with our dignities intact and our egos brimming over.

It was lashing with rain and we ran back, droplets dripping from our noses. I awoke the next day with a hangover to end all hangovers. Husband laughed at me and Sproglet jumped on me in bed to remind me I am a 38 year old Mother of 2, with many responsibilities. I dragged my sorry ass to Body Combat and tried not to vomit through it as I necked a litre of water to re-hydrate my alcohol ravaged body.

But boy did I have fun. It was worth it. Oh to be a MILF again...

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Express yourself don't repress yourself...

...So sang Madge years back on an artful tune 'Human Nature.'

This song has been looping round my head this week. It's been a bit of a strange week - one I thought I wouldn't write about. But I'm waking with anxiety dreams and have a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach so I need to get it off my chest. Here. On my blog - my little corner of the world where you don't have to click on in - you don't have to stop by, its just me doing my thang and hoping that someone somewhere relates, and is maybe even comforted in reading, by feeling not so alone.

I think I'm a good person - not in just that I make chat with anyone that glances my way, that I help old ladies with shopping bags and smile at the world that passes me by - but I genuinely don't like confrontation (unless in a complaints way - where I am kick ass at writing those steaming letters/telling a restaurant manager that the service is poor and there's a fly in my soup and all that jazz) and I try in all areas of my life not to offend folk, or hurt any one in any way. This blog has never meant to hurt anyone or upset anyone - except maybe Gwyneth with her oh so perfectly smug life. A fan of the Paltrow I aint - although I am sure she is a lovely woman with fabulous abs. So I was kind of stunned to find out this week that one of the many reasons a good friend of old decided to drop me from her life was because I had dared to blog about my own life being a bit tough when in fact she was going through a personal tragedy. Like she should have a monopoly on sadness - and that me blogging about losing my job last year was clearly a sign I wasn't a good enough friend!! Eh? Are you confused? Makes two of us.

This all gnawed away at me. Mainly because I really try to be good friend. I'm not perfect - who is? But I value my friendships - they are my surrogate family - and some I have watered for 32 years. They've had their ups and downs but they matter to me - being a good friend matters to me - and I would always beat myself up if I thought I had let someone down, or failed them in any way. I was a Samaritan for two years and think that this helped my empathy skills, my keenness to be a shoulder to all my friends at crucial times of their lives. I know for a fact that a problem shared is a problem halved - and although I am the biggest mouth in the world, I have kept and still keep many confidences. In fact I pride myself on these enduring relationships and I strive to maintain them - even when life is busy and responsibilities weigh us down. It disturbed me that someone who had once been a dear friend (I was this woman's bridesmaid!) had simply cut me off - closed the whole thing down without even bothering to tell me why. Clearly I valued the friendship more than her - I don't think I'd ever ditch a friend without telling them why. Even now I don't quite know what I did - but I have to draw a line and actually, I no longer care. Because my blog is MY BLOG, my little oasis. And everything in life is relative - so some readers may be going through illness, or loss, or bereavement as I blog about fluff like Tim Riggins or bitching about a diet or such nonsense - but that is my right, and they don't have to tune on in.

I think I felt frustrated - unfairly targeted, because I feel I haven't in any way deliberately done something wrong, something wounding. Sure, I'm a gossip, I can sometimes force my over inflated opinions down someones throat - hey, I know my faults well, but I am not hurtful, I am not cruel. I can't control how someone else feels, I just have to live my life by my values and do my best. I think its a bit crazy to expect the world to stop because of something that happens to you - we all have our struggles - some bigger than others, but everything is relative. I thought long and hard about my blog and the ramifications of writing it. I know friends read it - I know folk who don't like me read it - lots of people I've never met know me damn well through it - what responsibility do I have in writing this? Should I continue?

The answer is yes I will. Because I write for me most of all, to try and alleviate the incessant chatter in my head; to reach out to like minded folk and basically to express myself. And as Madge herself sings in the song above, I'm not sorry.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Clear eyes, Full Hearts, Can't lose.

My buddy Pete is coming over for lunch tomorrow - in fact he is rustling up lunch and even bringing it with him. Now I should be excited about this event - he hasn't met Sproglette yet, I haven't seen him in almost 6 months and we used to be day in and day out mutual cheerleaders in the group of swell folk I worked with on a soap. But in fact I am dreading it.

Why? Because he is also coming to reclaim his Friday Night Lights series 2, 3 and 4. Another buddy has season 5 - the last *sobs* series all lined up for me. I remember when a small group of FNL worshippers at work persuaded me to buy the first series box set when I hadn't even heard of the damn show. It barely aired here - after all, it centres around American football - and I still have no idea how it all works.

But I fell in love with Riggins, wanted to be Tami Taylor's best mate - or at least get her to counsel my life, yearned to hang out with Landry's band, or double date with Julie 'n' Matt. As Andy at work said - when he finished series one (in a weekend) he felt bereft. Like he'd been at a party and then the lights suddenly went up and all his buds were gone. I feel like that now; this week I finished series 4 -had an obligatory cry - (there is always a good every in every series; the one where Matt buried his Dad I couldn't see the screen I was doing such awesome weepage) and then felt hollow. Like, what now eh? Don't get me wrong, In Treatment series 2 is on and I've just finished series 1 of The Sopranos (I know, I know, where have I been, The Sopranos is like 10 years old... well, may I join on the bandwagon of Soprano lovers? Better late than never eh?)and Mad Men series 2 is in my basement to be watched as a treat when I work out on the bike - but nothing quite compares to all things Panther.

Why this show wasn't more successful is beyond me. The relationship between the Coach and his wife is the best ever portrayed on screen. Oh to be at a Taylor family Thanksgiving... Great writing, fab acting, engaging storylines, beautiful cast (did I mention Riggins?) - beyond addictive.

Maybe I'll hide the DVDs and talk so much that Pete will forget all about them. But Peter Berg I thank and salute you for turning the movie into the series (and for your cameo in series 2 - genius) - not that I think Peter berg reads this blog much or anything - but I thank him nonetheless. Andy my old mucker from work gave me a fridge magnet he bought in NY as a 'well done on having a baby' gift - and it is my favourite of them all - inscribed with the Panther's motto: Clear Eyes, Full Hearts. Can't Lose.


Tuesday, 3 May 2011

A photo that makes me happy...

...because in it I see the joy on my Mother's face, her pride in her grandkids: little Roo and Sproglet. And I'm glad she came to visit, and that we got on well and that the sun shone. That the bitter, sad, frustrated nugget in my heart that I have carried for all these years has all but gone. I have forgiven and now it is time to forget. The older we get I realise just how fleeting life is - how many years I have left with my Mother, I do not know. So I'll take the time that I have and I'll enjoy and embrace it - more than I ever have done. I've moved on. Finally. I feel lighter and happier. And possibly a tad more grown up.

Monday, 2 May 2011


The week before last a little bit of paper fell through my letterbox and I picked it up, disinterested.
'Queen of Cakes we need you!' it declared and I thought that for junk mail it was fairly on the money - me, lover of all things cake. I opened it and inside was a letter from Breast Cancer Care suggesting I throw a strawberry tea party, (bake a load of cakes, invite mates round and charge them to stuff their faces with your treats) raise some cash and give it to them. What a fab idea I thought. Within minutes I'd roped in my cousin's girlfriend to do the (hard work) baking (I can manage a few cup cakes but am no pastry genius like my grandmother was), popped a date in the diary and invited all the fab women I know round my neck of the woods to such a soiree and even planned where I'll put me bunting. Now, I've invited about 16 women and told them all to bring a mate - if it rains I am buggered. It'll be like a sweaty club circa 1997; but hopefully as it is in June - the sun will shine. I've never done anything like this before - but with my friend's sad news a few weeks back and a few other things that have happened, I wanted to do something for breast cancer - even if I just raise a few hundred quid. Husband is getting me some fine champagne to sell by the glass and I've persuaded my best mate to mix up some pimms and offer it at a steep price - the key is to raise as much cash as I can...

One lovely lady I've invited then came up with the idea 'why don't we do a 5K run for Breast Cancer as well?' I said 'Yes' thinking - what a lovely idea, we can walk in the sunshine, yabber about nothing and have a laugh. Maybe stop for tea on route.

Except she actually means 'run' it. As in, trainers on - run, run, sweat, gasp, cramp... all that jazz. And I have said yes. I am still not sure why I uttered that word, but I have and I have to do this thing called 'training.' Dear god it is hideous. I feel for all the poor souls that have glimpsed my sweaty red pulsating self dribbling along by the canal where we live - staring at my stopwatch - willing the 3 min run to be up so I can walk again for 1 min. I have no idea how I am going to actually do this - it isn't until the end of June - but by then on my diet and with trainer boy, who knows, I may well be bionic woman (lost 7 pounds. 7 to go). Maybe the cake-athon that I'm hosting three weeks before will put a dampner on my training efforts - who knows. Now where did I put my apron?