A lifestyle blog from a forty-something mum

Showing posts with label Wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wine. Show all posts

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Musings on Eurovision 2016

Last week was all about Eurovision 2016 and I was fortunate enough to watch both semi-finals as well as the final on Saturday night. As always there was much tweeting after wine and I was delighted to see so many fellow bloggers joining in with the mayhem (you know who you are!). Even the cat joined in, adding her own unique point of view on the chaos that is... Eurovision.

The distinct lack of cheese and eccentricity was more than compensated for by presenters, Petra Mede and Måns Zelmerlöw. I wasn't fussed on several of the entries that made it through to the final, but could quite happily have watched the presenters all evening.

It was this absolute gem from the second semi-final that almost made me choke on my wine...
Caution: contains nudity.

My overall favourite song was Belgium as it reminded me of an early 1980s disco track and therefore perfect for Eurovision. Our boys, Joe and Jake came in at an unimpressive 24th place despite giving it their best shot.

I was slightly amused by the thought of the US seeing Eurovision live for the first time and kept wondering what they thought of it. Justin Timberlake performed during the interval and I wondered if the US crew were taking notes and will be invited to enter next year? If they join, I'm guessing the rest of us won't stand a chance as they will want to win.

Despite Australia being in the lead after votes from the professional juries, there was a surprise overall win by Ukraine once all the viewer votes were added. For the record, I have no idea how this happened.

As always, Eurovision was a slightly crazy way to spend a Saturday evening in May, but life's serious enough as it is and sometimes it's good to let your hair down and escape for a spot of harmless, hilarious fun. I can only imagine how many people in Stockholm woke with up with hangovers on Sunday morning.

Here's to Eurovision 2017 and tweeting after wine all over again.

Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton

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Monday, 17 August 2015

The Week That Was...

Social gatherings are like buses in the Anderton house. There are none for ages and then several turn up at once. Last week there were so many invitations that I had to admit defeat and decline a couple. The thought of partying every night fills me with dread and as I get older, I need a night off in-between to recover.

On Monday... I helped my dad with some gardening. Now I'm pretty rubbish at this, but I looked at the state of his lawn and borders and realised he needed all the help he could get. The realisation that a parent isn't coping as well as you'd thought is a sad one. We talked of putting his house on the market and moving to somewhere more manageable. I can't tell you how horrible it was to have this conversation.

Monday was also the Writing Group Summer Social, along with bottomless jugs of Pimms, lots of wine and scrummy cheese and nibbles. I was tired. We sat outside. I'd begged Mr A to collect me at 10pm, so that I could be in my PJs and reading a book by 10:30pm. And for once I managed to sleep quite well. This is what usually happens most nights: The Trouble With Sleep.

There was an invitation to a friend's house on Wednesday. As she lives just up the road there was a whoop of joy as neither of us had to drive. I have experienced some of the worst hangovers ever at her house. Her husband is a generous host who cannot bear to see a millimetre of empty space in a wine glass before refilling it. I vowed to stick to two glasses. And failed miserably. Four bottles of wine between the three of us, (Mr A was drinking beer) meant I was feeling delicate for most of Thursday. This led to the realisation that I need to come up with a new strategy next time. Mr A suggested I drive as I won't down a single glass of anything containing alcohol when I take the car.

I took several pictures during the evening, but this was the only one in focus...

View from a friend's garden
Daughter, Olivia phoned early on Thursday morning and announced that she would be coming home next week. Despite feeling under the weather hungover I felt very happy indeed and may have danced around the kitchen. She soon picked up that I was feeling below par and said, wasn't she supposed to be the one drinking? Ever been told off by your daughter? I felt well and truly chastised. Apparently she was up at 5am and had been to the beach, this made me snort with laughter as it wasn't so very long ago she was doing stuff like this...  Mum, You Know You Love Me...

I may have spent much of the day reading blogs and trying to find a few new ones to add to my reading list. This was my favourite discovery last week from Kate, over at Yes, She Writes. Anyone who's a book lover will identify with her brilliant post about the problem with books.

On Friday, I hopped off into town to buy food for a post I'm working on about food banks. As I'd been given some money to buy stuff, I was determined to make this stretch this as far as possible and went to several stores to buy as many special offers as I could. It was raining heavily for most of the day and I reached that point where I couldn't have been any more soaked than I already was. I returned looking rather bedraggled and realised that wearing Converse that morning wasn't one of my better decisions. On Friday night I consumed no alcohol whatsoever.

I'd agreed to attend a Golden Wedding Anniversary party with my father at the weekend. Sadly, my stepmum died four years ago from 'the big C,' but we still keep in touch with her lovely family who live just outside Bath. Their welcome was very warm indeed and I don't think I've ever had quite so many social hugs and kisses in one weekend. I wish we saw a lot more of them. For the record no alcohol was consumed.

On Sunday, after lengthy goodbyes and one heck of a delicious breakfast, we drove home again. The cat had missed me, I'm not so sure about my husband. I have a feeling he may have relished the peace and quiet.

Linking up with My Week over at Mummy Barrow.

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton

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Friday, 10 July 2015

A Cautionary Tale for the Uninitiated - Part Two

Earlier this week I blogged about moving our daughter and a friend out of student digs and into our holiday apartment for the week. You can read this here if you missed it.

Part two picks up exactly where I left off...

Unable to locate C after lunch, I ask Olivia about food preferences, 'Oh, it's OK,' she says, 'C eats everything.' I hastily scribble a list and leave for the supermarket, plotting a Moroccan mezze themed dinner, followed by strawberries and cream.

After serving dinner, it turns out that C isn't fussed on Moroccan.

And I've since discovered that C eats everything apart from... cereal, apple pie, yogurt, bananas, lemon meringue, Moroccan (obviously) and anything that's spicy. I have no problem with any of it, I only wish she'd enlighten me when I ask as I don't want the poor girl to starve.

On Tuesday, as their former landlady requests they return to finish tidying up the house, Mr A and myself let out a silent whoop of joy and escape for the entire day. By the time we arrive home, the girls are dozing after a 'hectic' day and we've run out of milk, biscuits and orange juice.

We also discover that the Pimms has been drained, a bag of chocolates with two choccies left and a pretzel packet discarded on the coffee table - sans pretzels.
Now I hadn't seen a single episode of  The Big Bang Theory before last week and to be fair, under normal circumstances I'd have found it mildly amusing. After the umpteenth box set and multiple hints that other television programs were available however, my humour was starting to wane. 'Isn't Celebrity MasterChef on tonight?' I said hopefully on Thursday evening. 'No, I don't think so,' said my daughter. It was just as well we had company. My hormones had created a mix of murderous thoughts and the tide was in, so there was no escape to the beach.

Instead, I open a bottle of wine, down a single glass and return for a second, only to discover that the girls have polished it off. There is no more wine. I snarl (inwardly) and disappear into the bedroom with a book.

We'd hoped that the girls would want to sample the nightlife and venture out alone some of the time. Not so. As luck would have it, the days are so long at this time of year that Mr A and myself peek out of the window late evening and escape to the beach if the tide is out, or make the short walk into town in search of a bar and solitude. This backfires as C and Olivia can get ready like lightning whenever they feel like it and insist on keeping us company. And though we enjoyed their company, the restaurant and bar bills are greeted with gasps and warrant frequent use of the credit card.

After requesting that Olivia email her new landlord as I was hyperventilating at the thought of moving the pair of them out of our accommodation and into new digs before 10 am on Saturday, I am treated to one of those looks that says, 'Yes, I acknowledge what you've said, but as I don't want to do it, I'm going to ignore you.' Naturally it's me that caves and trawls through the ocean of emails to locate the landlord's details. I fire off a quick message and am delighted with a speedy response. The girls' stuff is dropped off late on Friday afternoon and I'd have dished out another hug, but he didn't look the type to have appreciated it and his wife was up to her eyes with the cleaning.
On Saturday morning after moving out of the apartment and delivering the girls to their new home, we sneak into the local gin palace like a couple of fugitives. We briefly consider downing one of the 57 varieties available before coming to our senses and the reality of the 250 mile schlep all the way home. We settle for pots of tea and treacle tart and promise that next time around we're going to try quite a few.

Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton

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Sunday, 12 April 2015

Wine Tasting for Beginners...

Back in February I was lucky enough to win six bottles of Furlan Prosecco from Just Perfect Wines in association with Glass of Bubbly magazine.

I promised to share the wine with my daughters and managed to leave five bottles abandoned in the wine rack for a number of weeks while I eagerly awaited their return from university. For those of you who are astute, you'll have noticed I said five and not six - I may have consumed a bottle on my birthday and not felt bad about it. Life at home with grown-up daughters who are partial to the odd glass bottle of wine can be infuriating as it means that the wine rack is emptied in no time at all.

I'm not going to pretend that I know a lot about wine. During the past few years I've developed a preference for Prosecco over Champagne as I find it a cheaper and lighter alternative. I usually buy a bottle (or two) if there's anything to celebrate and it's interesting that sales of Prosecco have overtaken Champagne since 2013.

My only experience of actual wine tasting was a Twitter party with Mumsnet in association with Knackered Mother's Wine Club and a bottle of Picpoul de Pinet. Obviously breaking the first rule of Twitter, 'Don't Tweet after wine.' Somehow amidst the chaos I managed to find the only other Picpoul drinker and between us we came up with similar tasting notes - hints of lemon and rather delicious if memory serves.

Although I wasn't asked to write a post about my prize - I thought it would be a nice gesture as a) I absolutely love wine and b) isn't blogging all about sharing what you love?

I received two bottles of each of the following wines - which gave the three of us the perfect opportunity to celebrate over the Easter holidays.

The Furlan Winery
Founded in 1930 by Nonno Amado. Today, it's run by Nonno's grandchildren: Amedeo, Alberto and Moreno and is a modern and innovative winery producing a range of wines with a unique flavour and fine aroma.

1. Furlan Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene D.O.C.G Superiore Millesimato Extra Dry - 2013 (11.5%)
Made from 85% Glera (Prosecco grape) and 15% Chardonnay, the Millesimato is pale straw in colour and is fresh and crisp with hints of green apple.

2. Furlan Conegliano Valdobbiane D.O.C.G Prosecco Frizzante Extra Dry - 2013 (11%)
Made from 100% Glera grapes, the Frizzante is aromatic and fruity with hints of green apple and scents of acacia blossom and wisteria.

3.Furlan Spumante Rosé - 2013 (12%)
Despite being made with 70% Glera, 27% Menzoni Bianco and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon (for colour), Prosecco is made from a white grape and current Italian law will not allow a Prosecco blend of the two colours of grape - hence this cannot technically be called Prosecco. Pale salmon pink with hints of fresh strawberries - this was my favourite out of the three.

Huge thanks to Just Perfect Wines and Glass of Bubbly for the fabulous prize. The wine carrier is going to come in useful to replenish the wine rack now that the girls have returned to uni.

Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton
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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Then and Now...

As a teen did you ever think you'd grow up and stay exactly as you were? Trapped forever in the seven years that defined your teenage years... only with a car and a house and the money to indulge in all the things you loved at that time?

I guess it's normal to never want to grow up and turn into a fully-fledged adult and I'm not sure I had any concept of what it meant to be older... why would you?

I even made a promise to myself that I'd never change and would stay tuned into Radio 1 and reading Smash Hits. How times have changed...

Way back when I was a teen... I wore heels, watched Top Of The Pops, listened only to Radio 1, bought every copy of my favourite magazine, ate a lot of crisps... any flavour, (except ready salted) shopped at C&A, drank Babycham, loved any music my dad took a dislike to... especially Dead or Alive, had no plans to fall asleep in front of the TV (unlike my parents) and thought that I'd never be too old to go clubbing.

Here's the bit where I justify each and every one of those changes now that I'm 46 years of age...

Heels... you're kidding right? Wearing a pair for any great length of time makes me ache in places I took for granted would always be supple when I was younger. I'm happiest in a pair of ballerinas or Converse and so... that's what I wear most of the time.

I'm partial to Radio 2... many of the DJs I used to listen to on Radio 1 as a teen now present on Radio 2 instead. It's a lot like listening to an old friend and Simon Mayo plays Mahna Mahna on his Drivetime show every Friday around 5:15 pm... what's not to love about that! And... gulp... given half a chance I find myself listening to Woman's Hour on Radio 4.

I used to think that ready salted crisps were for old people. As a teen any flavour, no matter how weird was likely to be devoured with much enthusiasm. Is anyone old enough to remember hedgehog flavour? They tasted rather peppery if memory serves... but I kind of liked them. Now I only ever eat crisps when I have an attack of the munchies after a couple of glasses of wine. I can't justify the calories unless I'm inebriated and couldn't care less.

I've started shopping in M&S (other stores are available) they stock underwear that's sympathetic to the  forty-something figure, as well as a damn fine selection of food and wine. I'm also partial to placing orders with Boden and White Company and shopping at White Stuff, Fat Face and TK Maxx. I have a feeling the fact that C&A closed all of its UK stores back in the year 2000 had nothing to do with this decision whatsoever.

My passion for nightclubbing has been replaced by a love of dancing all over the house while listening to my iPod. But my all-time number one way to spend the evening has to be... curled up in front of the fire with a large glass of wine, a good book and being left well alone. And I guess I could be tempted by a glass of Babycham, but only with a generous measure of brandy.

My devotion to Smash Hits had wavered long before it ceased publication back in 2006. Currently I have Good Housekeeping and Red magazines on subscription and don't plan on changing my reading habits any time soon.

Are some TV programs narrated to make you nap I wonder? The soothing dialogue on the latest series of Who Do You Think You Are? meant that I failed to catch any episode in its entirety without taking a catnap halfway through. Maybe I should use this to my advantage and watch it on iPlayer as a cure for insomnia...

I'm just wondering if you turned out the way you imagined you would in your teens? I look forward to reading your thoughts...

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Sunshine Award

Marie from Normal Everyday Life nominated me for a Sunshine Award at the end of last week and as a huge fan of the meme, it was an honour to accept. 

If you haven't had the pleasure of visiting Marie's blog before, it comes highly recommended. Marie's a mum of five and loves to share posts about whatever's going on in her life... the good, the bad and the downright hilarious. I hope you'll pop over for a read... 

Apparently, I'm supposed to share 11 random facts about me. So here goes...
1. My favourite sandwich filling is peanut butter and lettuce.
2. I volunteer as a teen mentor for a local charity and my daughters think that this is hilarious.
3. I met my husband on a blind date. He was the gooseberry and shared the same name as my date.
4. I always have a secret stash of chocolate somewhere in the house.
5. I am completely nuts about my twin daughters' cat, Kitty.

6. Mr A and myself were married in a cocktail bar in the Seychelles.
7. Orchids are the only house plants I can't kill.
8. I hate cleaning.
9. When I grow up... I'm going to be a magazine editor.
10. After telling my daughters to be careful at the ice-rink, I fell over and fractured my elbow.
11. I am really rubbish at parking.
Why did you start blogging?
I've always loved to write and wanted to commit to producing regular content about parenting teens from a humorous point of view. I've been astounded by the response to the blog and discovered that there are a lot of us out there suffering from exactly the same issues with our offspring! Since I started blogging, the content has diversified to include interviews and posts about travel, lifestyle and what happens when the kids leave home.

Are you an early bird or night owl?
I've always been an early bird and having a lie-in usually means that I'll feel rubbish for the rest of the day.

Who is your favourite author?
How one earth can you choose just one? It's like having to choose your favourite chocolate bar. And so, I may have to cheat ever so slightly and say that currently I'm enjoying anything by Jodi Picoult, but here's a link to a post about books that have inspired over the years

What is your guilty pleasure?
It would probably be sneaking off for a cat nap whenever the opportunity arises. I love a good snooze as I often sleep badly at night and can feel desperate to catch up after lunch. Half an hour later the world looks so much brighter and I'm raring to go again.

What is your all-time favourite TV show?
Can I cheat on this one too? And say, Have I Got News For You? I love this satirical show and think that Paul Merton is one of the most talented comedians in the UK. Obviously, I love a whole lot more than that, so here's a link to a post about what I really watch on TV when no one's looking! 

Name three things on your bucket list? 
There are dozens on there but here goes, I've chosen just three... 
1. See the Northern Lights.
2. Move to Cornwall.
3. Create the perfect seaside pad.

What's your favourite way to relax?
Curled up on the sofa with a good book and a glass of wine. Can't beat it!

Do you collect anything?
OK. I know this is going to sound weird, but I keep all of the cat's whiskers. Who knew they fell out? I find her whiskers all over the house and can't bear to part with any of them.

Just a few from the collection
What's your favourite post on your blog and why?
It's so hard to pick just one... but this recent post called Reverse Cinderella Syndrome was an easy one to write and summed up exactly how I was feeling at the time. That's my kind of blog post!

Do you enjoy appetizers or dessert more?
Ooh, that's an easy one and it would have to be dessert every time. Dessert is most definitely the highlight of any meal and I have a very sweet tooth. I love almost anything except raspberries.

What is your favourite season and why?
I love the simplicity of summer. Wearing summer clothes and not having to leave the house all wrapped up in layers is lovely. Days out and holidays and regattas and dipping your toes in the sea and not feeling cold... yay! What's not to love?
And my nominations for the Sunshine Award are...
1. Kat at Ginger Snap Blog
2.Claire Justine at ClairejustineOXOX
3.Sarah at Mum of Three World
4. Kim at Northumberland Mam
5. Anne at Raisie Bay  
6. Amanda at City Girl Gone Coastal 
7 Nell at Pigeon Pair and Me
8 Orli at Orli, Just Breathe
9 Sonya at the Ramblings of A Formerly Rock N roll Mum
10 Cathie at Wicked World of Lucas
11 Ting at My Travel Monkey

And here are my questions for them...
1. What's the inspiration behind your blog?
2. How do you like to unwind after a crazy day?
3. What's your most treasured possession?
4. Do you have any hidden talents?
5. What were you like as a child?
6. What was the last gig you went to?
7. Wine - red, white or rosé?
8. What's the best advice you've ever been given?
9. What were the last 3 things you bought?
10. In my next life I'm coming back as a ...
11. If you could go anywhere in the world for a holiday,where would it be? 

Here's hoping you'll join in, but if you choose not too, that's fine. It's summer and you should be able to do exactly what you want to and make the most of the sun while it lasts. 

Huge thanks to Marie for nominating me. I always love a good meme and coming up with the answers is always a fun thing to do.

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Completely Clueless

If I'm not around much for the next week, I will blame this entirely on having both daughters home at the same time. I am clueless as to how this will unravel, as the situation at home is currently very complicated indeed and I have no idea what is happening from one day to the next.

Sophia arrived home last Wednesday along with only half of her kitchen stuff, twelve lovely loads of washing and a cash box minus its keys. Naturally, she has no idea what's inside. And if anyone knows how to break into a cash box, please get in touch.

She threatened to unpack all of her belongings in the lounge. My response to this was to snarl and fling the lot in the garage. Her next question was simply, "Mum, how fast can we you do the washing? I might be leaving in three days." I may have snarled again. She's on standby to go and work in the US for the summer and could go any day now. Her work visa is currently waiting in some random town forty miles from home and we need to collect this urgently. At time of writing, my car is still in the body repair shop and it looks as though I'll be calling in another favour from some unsuspecting friend/ family member who foolishly offered to help in a crisis, as I was too much of a wimp to take a hire car. I am going to be repaying these favours until sometime mid-2015.

Olivia returned the following day by coach. Sadly, she's not finished at uni yet, but wanted to come home to see her sister before she heads off across the pond. After announcing her return, she informed me that the coach wouldn't stop at its usual station. Asking her to check and get back to me, I heard nothing for the next couple of days. As I don't have my car, it was Mr A who was going to collect her and, as we were heading to bed on Wednesday night, he asked, "What time is Olivia arriving?" I may have sworn at the vague recollection that she was supposed to call me with new information and called her. "Where are you getting dropped off tomorrow?"
"Oh yeah, sorry. I meant to call you." She relayed some random address that we've never heard off and I tried to track this down. After ten minutes of searching I'd come up with nothing and called her back. There was no reply. I left a message. The following morning there was a reply on the answerphone, "Please ignore everything I said yesterday and pick me up from the usual place."

Life at home with the pair of them will be infuriating. There will be gentle and less subtle hints that they could help out more and chances are, this will fall on deaf ears. After a task has been ignored for umpteen hours it's always me that caves and completes it. Their return comes as a shock to me and their long-suffering father. We forget that sharing a house with teens is a bit like running a hotel without as much as a day off to recover before Monday rolls around again.

I've noticed already that time spent hiding in the garden has increased exponentially since our daughters return. All of the shrubs have been pruned and heck, I even considered mowing the lawn the other day. Fortunately I came to my senses, as I'm seriously allergic to grass and the consequences of completing this task may have involved a trip to A&E for a nebuliser. I can often be spotted nursing a mug of wine after dinner (the kids think it's coffee), while Mr A knocks back a beer (or two). There, we put the world to rights, before braving the house and the latest updates from our daughters.

Sometimes it feels as though I'm living in an episode of Soap. Is anyone old enough to remember that I wonder? If you're not, here's a bit of background, Soap was an American sitcom that originally aired from 1977 to 1981 on ABC. It was a parody of daytime soaps, featured the ongoing saga of two sisters and had the weirdest storylines imaginable. For its time, it was considered quite controversial. I may have had a slight infatuation with Jimmy Baio and never missed an episode.

At the start of each episode, the announcer said, "Confused? You won't be, after this week's episode of...Soap." I have started to get up every morning and think only, "Confused? You might not be, after another day spent in the company of...teenagers."

At the end of each episode, he announced, "These questions - and many others - will be answered in the next episode of - Soap." The irony was that next week you were even more confused than the week before. And instead of questions being answered, the plot became even thicker and you were still completely clueless. On heading to bed, I find myself thinking, "These questions - and many others - might be answered tomorrow, but then again, they probably won't be."

Sadly, Soap isn't available on Netflix and I so had a craving to watch every single episode.

If you don't see much of me in the next few weeks, I have been kidnapped by the twins. Just because they're older, doesn't mean that any of it gets easier.

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton
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Saturday, 17 May 2014

Remote Parenting for Dummies

Hot off the plane from Paris last weekend and I was straight into a temporary contract working for a local company for the next couple of weeks. With our beloved daughters still at uni, I found myself looking forward to the challenge and have to confess that I'm really enjoying it. We had mentioned to our beloved daughters that we'd both be busy, and not to make plans that involved either of us. In hindsight, it may have been better if we'd said nothing at all.

Sophia has applied to work abroad during the summer. She learnt while we were in Paris last week, that she'd been given an upgraded status on her application. This means that she may have to leave the UK with only 3 days notice. Consequently, there's a panic on to get a work visa from the US embassy and she's on tenterhooks in case the placement doesn't actually come off.

This is how the week has panned out so far:

Saturday night (late)

Arrive home to a huge pile of post in the hall, including a tonne of stuff that needed to be sent to Sophia while we've been away. On the answerphone is a frantic message instructing us to call her as soon as we're back.

Sophia, 'Hi Mum, what time do you call this?'
Me, 'It's midnight, and we've just arrived home.'
Sophia, 'I need the documentation so I can make an appointment at the embassy.'
Me, 'I'll send everything off via recorded delivery on Monday. Hopefully, it'll be with you on Tuesday.'


Sophia, 'Will you come down to London with me next week?'
Me, 'No, I'm working.'
Sophia, 'Can't you take the day off?'
Me, 'No, because I'm only there for a couple of weeks and that wouldn't look very professional.'
Sophia, 'Oh.'


Sophia, 'Mum, have you sent the documents?'
Me, 'Yes Hun, sent first class, so they should be with you tomorrow.'


Sophia, 'Mum, I haven't received the documents.'
Me, 'They're probably in the post room, go and check tomorrow. If they haven't turned up, call me.'
Sophia, 'My internet's not working, can you ask Dad to call me?'
Me, 'OK, but I'm not sure what he's going to be able to do from 150 miles away.'


Phone ringing as I arrive home (late) from work.

Sophia, ''I'm just filling in my online application and need all the dates of my previous travel to the US.'
Me, 'I can tell you the months and the years, but finding the actual dates is going to take a while.'
Sophia, 'Can you let me have them as soon as possible? I need to do this now.'
Me, 'Yes dear, there's nothing I'd rather do for the rest of the evening. Have your documents arrived by the way?'
Sophia, 'Yep, thanks Mum.'

Spend rest of evening tracking down elusive dates and email 3 hours later with, 'Mums are amazing & take payment in hugs,' in the subject box.

Later that night...

Phone call from Olivia, 'You are coming down to help me move aren't you?'
Me, 'Hopefully, yes, but you haven't given me the date.'
Olivia, 'It'll be sometime in June.' Or, if I can't move into my new house right away, you might have to book 2 hotel rooms and I'll stash all my stuff in mine until I can.'
Me, 'Great, keep me posted.'

At this point I have a headache and retire for the night with a large glass of wine, promising that if the phone goes again, I am going to ignore it.


Arrive home to one answerphone message and 3 emails - all from Sophia. And later, we Skype for an hour. She has booked appointments at the embassy and with her GP. Oh, and she wants to come home next Wednesday with all of her belongings. Somehow Mr A gets cajoled into collecting her, as I point out (again) that I'm working. As she's booked the embassy appointment for the week after I finish work, there's another request for me to go to London, I'm guessing that's so I can pay for everything.


One message left on answerphone when I arrive home from work. 'I can't come home next Wednesday because...' at this point I'm not listening and that is because I am yelling, 'Aaaaarrrgggghhhh.'

Oh, and there's still no news from Olivia re moving dates.

One question: how can they cause so much chaos from so far away?

For anyone who has kids heading to uni later this year remember the following phrase - 'No news is (usually) good news.'

And yes, I am very happy that it's the weekend. At some point in the not too distant future, I may even get to blog about Paris.

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Older, None the Wiser

Back when I was a teen, I had no concept of what it was to be 40-something. I guess if I'd asked myself back then how things would be going in my forties, I'd have expected to have life fathomed out quite well. Who knew that life would be peppered with compromise and I'd be getting it wrong even now?

Here's the low-down:

I'm happy that:
  • I still love pop music, even if my offspring think this is tragic.
  • My wardrobe is considered enviable by my daughters and sometimes they even borrow stuff. I still wear skinny jeans and bikinis and have no intention of giving up either anytime soon.
  • My hair is longer now than it's ever been and I really couldn't care less that my mother hates it.
  • In my mind, I'm still 21-years of age and who wants to be a grown-up anyway?
  • Finally I have mastered the art of running a house (in a fashion), cooking a half-decent meal (and if it's rubbish I ply guests with wine so they think it's good), and faking being a grown-up when it's absolutely necessary (although I can only manage this in short bursts) .
And here's what I don't really want to admit:
  • Cat naps are my new guilty secret and staying awake after 11pm is becoming a challenge.
  • Whenever I'm wearing heels, you can guarantee there are a pair of ballerinas at the bottom of my cavernous handbag to change into just as soon as no one's looking.
  • My reflection in any changing-room mirror scares the life out of me.
  • Curling up in front of the fire, clad in PJs, with a good book and a glass of wine is my idea of nirvana.
Even more scary is this:
  • Mr A uttered the word 'comfortable,' while out shopping for a new pair of trousers last week. He was immediately chastised, and told never to say that word again as I selected a pair from French Connection and told him that they were perfect.
  • There are tentative signs that I'm turning into a crazy cat lady. 
  • Without the perpetual influence of the kids at home, we may have started to develop a few habits that are bad. Mr A asked for a cocoa the other night when I suggested a night cap, we've also started to intentionally watch the news.
  • A friend recently bought me a gift for my birthday and although, it was nice that she'd remembered, I was horrified to receive a set of tea towels. Isn't that a gift for grown-ups? I immediately gave them to my grandmother.
  • I'm far less tolerant of people who irritate me and have perfected the art of snarling quietly and then biting my lip, rather than say something I'm likely to regret.
And so, my only questions are these? At what age are you finally considered a grown up? And can we ever have everything sussed at the same time?

Until next time

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton
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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

From Here to Insanity

By the time you read this, Sophia will have gone back to uni and the house will be quiet again. I hate to say it, but I am happy to be relieved of my mum duties for a few weeks. I'm not going to miss the laundry, or any of the chaos that goes with sharing a house with twin teens. Oh, and I'm really looking forward to having my car back!

Here's a little quiz about how it went on Sunday when we headed back to uni. Warning: there may be a few trick-questions with more than one correct answer:

1. How did Sophia spend her last day at home?

a) Rounding up all of her belongings
b) Catching up on last minute coursework
c) Offering to help with all the fun tasks that required my attention before she left
d) Rowing

2. When does our darling daughter start to pack for the return trip to university?

a) A couple of days before we leave
b) During the previous day
c) 10pm, the night before
d) Packing, what packing?

3. What did I do on the day before we left?

a) Made a huge batch of rocky road for my daughter to share with her flatmates
b) Opened a bottle of wine
c) Lost my temper
d) Caught up on all the laundry my darling daughter had thoughtfully added to the laundry basket that morning

4. What has Sophia left behind?

a) Absolutely nothing, she'd written a list and crossed things off as she packed
b) Just a couple of things that aren't important
c) A clean and tidy bedroom
d) Her toothbrush, a nightclub membership card, all of her Easter eggs (nomnomnom), her printer cable, several items of rowing kit and the list just keeps on growing!

5. Despite our best intentions, what time do we actually leave the house for the return journey?

a) On-time, naturally
b) A few minutes later than planned
c) We were so organised, we left early
d) Over an hour late!

6. How am I feeling by the time we leave the house?

a) Relaxed
b) Devastated that I'll be returning to an empty house
c) Completely organised
d) Exasperated

7. It's late when we finally arrive home, what do Mr A and myself do?

a) Fantasise about a few child-free weeks
b) Look at the state of the house and sigh
c) Retire for the night and tell ourselves that tomorrow is another day
d) Sleep for 12 hours

8. What will I be doing during the next week at home?

a) Making the most of the peace and quiet
b) Feeling sad now that my babies have flown the nest for a few more weeks
c) More laundry
d) Peeling the rind of teen grunginess off the house

9. How did the rocky road I made go down with her flatmates?

a) They loved it
b) They didn't get to eat any, we ate the entire batch before we arrived
c) No idea, they were all still asleep when we left
d) It didn't! Still sitting in the fridge when we arrived home!!

10. How is Sophia feeling when we leave her at uni and head for home?

a) Sad that she won't get to see her parents for a couple of months
b) Elated that she's all organised for the term ahead
c) Thrilled at the prospect of more coursework, essays and deadlines
d) Happy to be home

Congratulations if you picked option 'd' to questions 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 10. The trick questions were 3, 7 and 8 - where options a-d were all correct.

So there you have it, that was Easter Sunday for 3 members of the Anderton family. Here's to June and both daughters heading home at the end of their first year at uni. How did the time go so fast?

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton
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Saturday, 15 March 2014

10 Things A Mum Needs To Do Before The Kids Come Home From Uni

On Monday the house is going to be invaded as Olivia returns for the holidays. She finally got in touch on Thursday night and obviously, I can't wait to see her. Sophia's not back until the 30th March, but one daughter home for the time being is better than none at all.

And so I've been doing that Mum-thing and planning ahead, this is what I've been up to...
  1. Stocked up on wine (& hidden it) - this is for medicinal purposes and I'm certain it will come in handy over the next few weeks.
  2. Cleaned their bedrooms thoroughly as I probably won't get  to see the carpet for quite some time.
  3. Cleaned the house from top to bottom, so that I can pretend it always looks that immaculate while they're away.
  4. Stockpiled all sorts of goodies in the fridge, freezer and cupboards - all stuff we haven't eaten since they left. Chances are they have dined on some strange combinations since going to uni and will appreciate home cooking.
  5. Caught up on the laundry - I'm about to get deluged, and remain convinced that neither daughter washes a thing in the run-up to coming home. They return with laundry bags almost as big as they are, drop them by the washing machine and then vanish before I have the chance to say anything.
  6. Written a list about all the things I miss while they're away. Whenever I feel the need to go 'Grrr,' I can extract the list, make a coffee, (or have a glass of wine) take a deep breath and read it out loud.
  7. Caught up on some sleep - as my daughters inhabit a different time zone to Mr A and myself, we are frequently sleep-deprived whenever they're at home. We also don't get any privacy (I'll leave you to jump to your own conclusions).
  8. Discussed boundaries - it's better for the entire family if we're getting along reasonably well. I appreciate it's a big change for them, (it is for us too). We have to work together!
  9. Made appointments for the dentist - I have a sneaky feeling this would have been ignored if I hadn't.
  10. Turned back into a mum! Why is it that I can do this at the flick of a switch? I'm guessing that my daughters will also revert to being children again the second they walk back through the front door.
Wish me luck...
Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Monday, 6 January 2014

Note to Self: Sometimes Tough Love Can Backfire

After three weeks of chaos at home with the girls, I'd concluded that it was time to be completely hands off with the parenting and let my daughters get on with their lives in their own sweet and inimitable way.

My daughters are after all nineteen years of age, have been at university for an entire term and though I have missed their company, I can't pretend that I haven't enjoyed the peace. It has been a shock having them home; the house has throbbed in time to the latest chart downloads, I have missed a lot of sleep and as for the trail of chaos - don't get me started. I should point out that I love them unconditionally in case you were wondering. They are fun and lively and secretly, I think I quite enjoy living in a madhouse.

Meanwhile, as Olivia had visited Sophia at uni before Christmas, plans were afoot to reciprocate after New Year. Packing commenced late on Saturday night and I resolutely kept out of it - thinking only that the things they left behind would be their problem. How wrong can you be as a mother?

What I hadn't bargained for was Olivia losing her ticket for the return journey. This, she announced with just minutes to spare before we were due to leave the house. Hissy fit just so didn't cover how exasperated I felt. Whilst the three remaining members of the family ransacked the house in hot pursuit of said missing ticket, Olivia logged onto her PC, fortunately retrieved the original email and did a reprint.

Consequently we left the house late and made the journey with minutes to spare. Why is nothing ever simple?

I think that mostly she has forgotten shoes - fortunately her sister has taken several pairs and so I'm guessing they'll swap. There are also several pairs of jeans in her bedroom, a hairbrush and a make-up bag I suspect she meant to pack.

In the meantime, I came home and watched 'The Gruffalo,' followed by 'The Gruffalo's Child' and thought about how life was so much simpler when they were small.

I drank wine, followed by vodka, communicated to my husband via Twitter (as we were too tired to speak) and slept for ten hours straight!

I'm so looking forward to the Easter holidays. Here's to chaos and it starting all over again...

Copyright ©2014 Izzie Anderton
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Monday, 2 December 2013

How to Stay Sane This Christmas

Often the fantasy of the perfect Christmas far outweighs the reality of non-stop stress, the anticipation of perfection and having to cope with an assortment of relatives that you don't get to see all that often.

My own idea of perfection would be to book into a hotel for a couple of nights, take along a small gift to open on Christmas Day and spend as much time as possible walking on the beach with as many members of the family who'd also decided that this was an excellent idea. In fact, I suggested this to a few of them back in September and sadly, they were all horrified. My daughters crave the tradition of a family Christmas after their first semester at university. My grandma, at 94-years of age prefers to be wrapped up at home. My Mum's all for it - but would feel guilty for leaving her mother and so the list went on. One year, I'll actually get to do this and I can't wait for that day. But for now, we're cooking Christmas dinner for seven, as well as hosting a huge family party.

And these are the ten tips I'll try to remember as the festive season approaches...
Gift wrapping - while the kids love to open presents, for adults you can get away with burying gifts in tissue paper inside a gift bag. Unlike wrapping paper, tissue paper can be recycled and the gift bags re-used.

Be nice or leave - it's a shame that not everyone appreciates all the hard work and effort that's gone into making Christmas a special family time, but don't allow them to spoil the day. Have a quiet word beforehand and explain how much you value this time of year and hope that everyone's going to get along famously.

Christmas Eve - wear the kids out as much as possible in the hope that they'll fall asleep at a reasonable time. If they won't sleep - head off to bed anyway and set a travel alarm for 2 am and place it under your pillow. Hopefully, they'll be sleeping soundly and you can get on with the presents.

Knocking back the wine - it's tempting to keep refilling your wine glass, especially if you're stressed. From experience I know it only makes things worse and you'll be the one hosting with a hangover. Reduce your alcohol intake by alternating alcoholic and soft drinks, or quaffing wine spritzers instead.

Time off for good behaviour - put so many members of a family in one room for a very long time and tempers are going to fray. Encourage everyone to venture outside for a walk after Christmas dinner to lighten the mood. And allow the children to escape from the clutches of relatives and take some time out to enjoy their gifts.

Do something charity related - when my daughters were little we always made boxes for Operation Christmas Child. And now that the girls are older, we all volunteer for different charities. It helps to put things into perspective when you're a bit overwhelmed with everything. You could always encourage the kids to clear out their clutter and donate to charity to make extra room for all those new presents.

More time off for good behaviour - you've wrapped, shopped, cleaned, decorated, entertained and cooked to the point of exhaustion and now you need some time off too. Feel free to escape and indulge in a cat nap, curl up with a good book, devour a stashed bar of good quality chocolate, or whatever your heart desires - you've deserve it!

Designate a driver... out socialising? Make sure you've decided who's driving before you arrive! Take it in turns, toss a coin, resort to bribery, or whatever - just do it! And if you're hosting a party - make sure you check who won't be drinking and offer alcohol-free options instead.

Social calendar - received an invite? Stick it on the calendar and be sure to share that information with everyone at home. The usual rule here - is that the first party on the calendar is the one we will attend. Although rules are made to be broken now that our daughters are nineteen and often have plans of their own! They don't appreciate not being able to spend time with friends and as long as they see all of the relatives during the holiday season that's fine.

Having a meltdown? Repeat after me...'It's OK, I'm a grown-up, I can deal with this.' And maybe if you say it enough, you'll actually start to believe it!
So there you have it, my top ten tips for staying sane during Christmas...

Whatever you have planned for the festive season - make it a good one x

Copyright © 2013 Izzie Anderton
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Sunday, 11 August 2013

The Red Wax Bunny

Scratch the surface of most families and you'll find hints of mild eccentricity.

We all like to pretend that we're normal, but deep-down, I suspect that really - we're not.

In our family, we're pretty crazy most of the time. This is what happened recently when we went out for dinner...

We'd gone to a Moroccan restaurant and talked about lots of random stuff that only a family would get. Later, after much wine consumption and giggling and sampling of everything on plates, the mood had gotten rather silly.

There was a candle burning at our table. It was red and twisty and burning very quickly. I've never been able to resist molten wax and after a few glasses of wine, the urge to play was overwhelming.

Scooping a ball of wax into my fingers, I made a rabbit. I couldn't help but feel pleased with my creation as I'm not renowned for my artistic talent. I decided to present my waxwork to Olivia, as 'Bunny' is just one of her many nicknames.

I  have always treasured things given to me by my offspring over the years. The perfect heart-shaped stone found by Olivia on a beach in Zakynthos and the cat's paw shell discovered by Sophia in Florida. The countless works of art and weird and wonderful creations fashioned from clay made during their younger, more innocent years. They are all very special and I'd never part with any of them.

Hence I'd mistakenly thought that Olivia would be thrilled that I'd made something for her to keep. She wasn't - and I realised my mistake as soon as I'd handed it over. With a wicked glint in her eyes, the rabbit disappeared beneath the table. "Promise me you won't hurt the bunny," I said desperately. "It was made with love and I want you to keep it forever." She started to giggle and presented it back on the table neatly snapped in half.

It was as though she was three years old, back at nursery and had given me one of her many masterpieces. How would she have felt if it had been torn into many pieces I wonder?

I felt wounded (I think that alcohol may have been partly to blame). And promptly set about trying to fix it with more molten wax. My attempt at a repair was far from perfect and I decided that it would be foolish to give it back to her as she obviously didn't want it and would only damage the poor creature in some other way.

I made a mental note to place it in the bottom of her stocking at Christmas, to see if it went down any better second time around. I figured that maybe after a term away at university (fingers crossed for A-level results on Thursday), this little piece of treasure might actually be appreciated. I gently wrapped the bunny in a paper napkin and hid it in my handbag.

My thoughts wandered to what might be on the dessert trolley and off I went to investigate. On my return, there was much giggling coming from our table. Sitting back down with my dessert, I spied something floating in my wine glass. Or rather some things...

On closer inspection, my hand-crafted bunny had had its ears snapped off by my darling eldest daughter. Its ears and body were swimming around in my glass of wine.

I felt hurt for the rest of the evening. Naturally, the rest of the family found my displeasure hilarious.

Copyright © 2013 Izzie Anderton
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