Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Year's Eve

Spent the day round at Alex's, playing Raving Rabbids on the Wii with his big screen tv, playing Small World, and seeing in the New Year winning Pandemic on hard ...

... chilled out, easy going, good stuff!

Our 12 Days of Christmas
Day 7: A Promise
Charlie has promised to engage with making food while he is on paternity leave, and I have promised to keep my side of our bedroom less cluttered.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Near the end of the year

Spent the evening at Andrew's with various friends, in a bit of a new year's eve eve gathering.  Lovely to see everybody, and to thrash everybody on a dynamite quiz team, winning Alex's quiz of 2012 :)  Tony and I were a hit combo, and Charlie helped a little with the names of the Olympic mascots.


Our twelve days of Christmas
Day 6: A Story
Charlie got me an audiobook of Bill Bryson's A Short History of Absolutely Everything (good to listen to while running), and I got him a film called 'American Splendour' which seems to be both creative and geeky all wrapped up in one.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Magic

Met up with James, Claire, Alex, Andrew S and Andrew R to see some live magic at the Magic Circle near Euston.  All very festive, though seeing lots of Charlie's magic has jaded me somewhat towards it, as I now know how lots of basic stuff is done.  Though it is always a joy to see it done well, even if you do know what they did.


Our twelve days of Christmas
Day 5: A Song
Charlie got me the best of Al Green, mainly as his 'Let's Stay Together' was the second song at our wedding, and I got him 'Any Trouble' by Glen Campbell, which I have heard a lot while on maternity leave and has really touched me ... and the best of Glen Campbell is in the post!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Run Run Run ...

Thought I would get started before the new year set in, and so (with a little encouragement from Fishy) went for a half hour run this morning.  Started off blissfully, but got hard v quickly, so didn't stay out too long.

Then Charlie and I took Penny swimming for the first time in ages.  We started off in the bigger pool which was a little cold, but then we had some very happy splashing in the baby pool once it opened.

Then we met with Andrew for lunch at the Ritzy.  Alex joined just as Charlie went off to give blood, and when he came back we all played Small World.

I took a little walk around Brixton to see if there were any deals in Morleys or Traid, but nothing tempted me.

Spent the evening starting on the various piles of sorting out dotted around the house.


Our twelve days of Christmas
Day 4: A Kiss
Nuff said :)

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Back to the City

Up in time for a pancake, yay!

But all good things must come to an end, and after a wonderful Spalding Christmas, Charlie, Penny, Andrew and I headed back to London.  A little challenging to get all of our stuff on the trains, but we got there eventually.  Quite tired, and feeling in need of a rest.

So we had a low key evening, ordering curry in, playing Small World and watching the last Harry Potter film (C not impressed) and squeezing in a bit of the big quiz of the year.


Our twelve days of Christmas
Day 3: A Quote
Charlie cited a quote that he had heard years ago from his Dad, and read for himself recently in the Robert Heinlein book 'Stranger in a Strange Land', "Love is that condition in which another's happiness is essential to your own."

Mine was a little more contemporary ... from Ratatouille, one of my favourites about the role of creator and critic:

"In many ways, the work of a critic is easy.
We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.
But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defence of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations, the new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new, an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement.
They have rocked me to my core.
In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto: Anyone can cook. But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau's, who is, in this critic's opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France.
I will be returning to Gusteau's soon, hungry for more."
- Anton Ego, ‘Ratatouille’ (2007)

Monday, 26 December 2011

Boxing Clever

Almost missed Matty's pancakes this morning, as Charlie kindly took the baby so I could have a little sleep in.

Charlie and Andrew went to the pub in the afternoon to play Small World, while mum and I watched Downton Abbey and I also had a nice chat with Anna. Downton was perfect, Christmassy and cathartic.

Then we sorted the house out for guests, as we were joined by Jane B, the Drews and the Petchalls.  Most of them didn't stay late, so only Sue and Barry joined us for the hat game, which was won happily by Matty, Anna and Barry ... though my Robinson Crusoe ending in hysterics will not be forgotten for a while!


Our twelve days of Christmas
Day 2: A Joke
I told Charlie a couple of bad ones about hunters and Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson (very bad), and Charlie told me a great one in return:
What game do you play with a wombat?  Wom :)

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Penny's First Christmas!

Penny had a wonderful first Christmas!

She awoke (after sleeping through, yay!) to find a stocking outside our room, filled with lovely little prezzies.

Dad cooked a magnificent turkey with all the trimmings, followed by mum's spectacular lemon meringue pie.  Then we watched the Queen as always, after which we exchanged presents.  Some very good prezzies, a contribution towards the camera I have now bought in the sales, Outnumbered on DVD, a pretty bag to name but a few.

Then, after a brief walk around the River Welland, we watched Ratatouille before a light tea with scones and jam.

After tea we gathered for a family game of Monopoly.  No fisticuffs, instead all was very civil.  I was short of any decent property, but managed to stay in till 2nd as Charlie sold me the yellow set for a song when he was on his way out.

Our twelve days of Christmas
Charlie and I decided this year to give each other light-hearted presents based on the 12 days of Christmas.

Day 1: Something sweet
Charlie gave me 3 Kinder Bueno chocolates, I gave him some Reese's Pieces (our favourite chocolates!)

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve

A relaxing day at home, started off with pancakes a la Matthew (!), and then bacon sandwiches for lunch.

We were visited by Jamie, Andrea and Andy C, who whisked Andrew and Charlie to the pub.

After a delicious beef casserole, we all sat down to a nice game of Dixit, which Andrew won but I think was enjoyed by all.

Friday, 23 December 2011

To Spalding

Finished everything off and tidied up the house, ready to head off to Spalding.  Charlie had already taken the suitcase to work, so P and I had the big bag of prezzies and food equipment.  We stopped off to pick up one last prezzie on our way to Kings Cross, where Andrew and Charlie arrived in good time for the train.

Very busy onboard, with lots of bags and people everywhere.  Nice to get our own set of four seats, as P had her own ticket.

The Spalding train was another story, rammed full of people.  A kind man gave me and Penny his seat, and P decided to have a screaming fit halfway though which was a little trying.  But soon enough we were in Spalding, and Dad was helping us get bags in the car.

Lovely to see him and Mum and Matty, and good to meet Anna (Matty's girlfriend).  We had a v relaxing evening, with lasagne for dinner, and sitting peacefully in the lounge together.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

An Arrival from Espana

Jon arrived yesterday evening, after I had spent a day catching up with the Christmas preparations and tidying, now feeling much better after my 'episode'.

Lovely to see him, and he was on really good form.

Tried in vain to chase my Amazon parcel, and so spent much of the afternoon venting my spleen to Yodel and Amazon customer services.

Then had a low-key Christmassy drinks and stew in the evening, with visits from Kirsten, Norris, Nat, Andrew, Greg and Kate.  Nice to have everybody together and feeling festive!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Thai Christmas

P slept through the night, yay!  The first time in a long time, I think ...

Met with Charlie, Theresa and Erika at Thai Square, as T was in town.  Good to see them, v kind of T to treat us.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas Drinks

Ruth and Wela popped round last night, lovely to see them before they head off to SA, though neither I nor Fishy were on great form.

After an interrupted but much better night's sleep, felt somewhat improved on Tues.  P again was v good and let me rest, and I still managed to get a bit of tidying and washing done.

Got some fresh air by spending an hour or two at Matthew G's Christmas drinks, good to see him and his jolly troop of friends.

Then home and early to bed for me, while Charlie stayed up late working on his latest writing project.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Enforced Rest

Oh woe is me!  Up many times in the night with D+V, my tummy felt pummelled to pieces.  So spending the day relaxing, and P is being v good bless her, hope it lasts!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

A Brixton Christmas

Woke up with a stinking cold, but felt better after a lemsip, so C and I dashed around to get the place ready for our guests: Marion, Robin, Jane, Erika, Dan and Andrew.

Dan made a delicious broccoli and stilton soup for starters, I cooked 2 roast chickens with lots of trimmings, and Marion brought a lemon meringue pie and a raspberry panacotta for dessert, and also cheese!

Full up, we had a sit down with a cup of tea late in the afternoon, as we had eaten v leisurely.  Jane went to carols at St Martins, but I decided I was too ill to go.  So I stayed in and had a bath, while C took P to the Trinity for some Samurai games with Andrew and Alex.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

A Guildford Christmas

Met with James, Claire, James C, Maria and Nick & Becky at the Cafe Rouge in Guildford for a slap up Christmas meal, great food as always and good to see them all.

Then back to J&Cs for some games of Small World ... I came 3/5 on the first game, but then won the second.  Hooray!  Then back home for some more Small World with Alex, which I believe I lost ... world's shortest running streak.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Festive Joy

Finished off the Christmas cards and sent out a follow up email about Easter weekend.  Dashed out to meet the ladies at the Ritzy for an end of the week beverage.  Hooray, they had mulled wine again, so had a couple of glasses while the babies had snacks and generally babbled and were sweet.

Then bought all the food for this Sunday's family meal, two (count them, two) chickens!  Plus lots of stuffing ...

Pleased to have apparently sorted a venue for Penny's naming ceremony, so hopefully invites will be out soon.

Then had a lazy evening in, polishing the Berrocal whilst watching the British Comedy Awards, which were genuinely laugh out loud funny.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Ploughing towards Xmas

Have been enjoying a bit of free time over the last few days, with no visitors or carpet men around or stuff everywhere, to get some overdue bits and pieces done.  Mainly Christmas cards, but also more sorting out.

As Charlie has been out a lot this week, decided to eschew my work Christmas party to spend some quality time with him and P.  Also we watched the fabulous documentary about Steve Jobs on the BBC, which was a good, upbeat summary of his life's work.

Feeling quite Christmassy now ... :)

Monday, 12 December 2011

Liberty and Changed Plans

As Charlie was on a flexiday, woke up to a morning of liberty.  Went to Brixton to have a little Fara splurge, and to have my haircut by a very nice man called Tyler.  So now I have a neat, and not too short, bob.

Went to Claire's in the afternoon, where we had our last Monday meet up with her ... v sad!  But also jolly, with winter Pimms and minirolls.

Unfortunately, due to being short staffed, the Ritzy cancelled Charlie's board games night, so he, Norris, Andrew and Jonathan played Samurai and Go round at ours.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Danish Christmas

Had a lovely long afternoon at Kirsten's celebrating Danish Christmas.  As per usual, she had baked enough for a few small armies, so we enjoyed the traditional Danish rice pudding, various yummy cheeses and cake, whilst chatting and while some people played Absolute Balderdash.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Afternoon Tea and Another Warm House

Met up with Robin, Marion and Erika at the Marriott County Hall for our Christmas present from R&M, an indulgent and very smart afternoon tea.  We gorged ourselves on sandwiches, scones, cake and gingerbread, whilst looking out over the river from the warmth of the old library.

Then, after struggling with buses back south, we headed round to Ryan's in Streatham Hill to help warm his new house there.  Penny would not go to sleep, so we stayed up with her in the calmness of the front room with mulled wine and cider, while the party blazed in the kitchen.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

A Visit from Granny

Mum came down to join us for the day.  We spent a lot of time in the flat, as the weather was pretty bad.  Then, after she and Dad went back up to Lincolnshire, I joined my department for a Christmas dinner at a lovely Japanese place near Aldwych.

Lovely to see everybody, to have some great food and a few drinks.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Lion in Winter

Dad kindly took me out for an evening away from little Penny, so we went to see Robert Lindsay and Joanna Lumley performing 'The Lion in Winter'.  It was a fun, Christmassy, historical way of looking at family life, albeit family life in the royal house in the 12th century.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Dinner for 7

Hosted Dan, Erika, Andrew and Dad for a delicious roast pork dinner, with a Lemon Delicious pudding ... roll on the wonderful food season that is Christmas!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Merry Monday

Had a lie in, as C had a flexiday so he looked after P.  Dad arrived late morning and had a cup of tea before heading off to meet Andrew for lunch, before investigating the Postmodernism exhibition at the V&A.

To Sophie's for tea and biscuits in the afternoon, jolly as ever!  Especially fun to watch as the babies 'shared' toys such as the tambourine.

Norris popped round for a drink, but neither she nor Dad could persuade Penny to eat her spaghetti bolognese ... sigh!

C had a great time at Ronnie Scotts with Andrew, Ant, Tony, Chloe and Dave.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

A Herne Hill Sunday

For reasons I don't recall, I had suggested to Andrew and Alex last night that we meet in Herne Hill for brunch.  So we piled into Cafe Prov, which was noticeably different from the Hive as there were lots of kiddies, and the walls were drowned in boho eclectic chic.  Good food though, a proper breakfast place.

Then back to Alex's for Ingenious and two games of Pandemic ... both 'hard', both lost :(

Saturday, 3 December 2011

A Warm and Magnificent House

A lazy morning with Penny and Fi watching Saturday Kitchen and chatting, before Fi and Andrew went off to see some friends of theirs in town.  Charlie, Penny and I popped round to Papas Park to feedback on a model of our area on such areas as bike facilities, safety, rubbish tipping etc.  Was good to air our views.

In the afternoon we tried out Charlie's new board game, 'Small World', before heading round early to Norris and Liam's housewarming in case Penny precluded us from staying late.  Was good to see Andrew, Nina and Baby Maddie who were also part of the baby brigade.

Norris and Liam have the house fully sorted now, and it is splendid.  With artistic landlords, who have a style that blends seamlessly into their own, it feels like a lovely space to be in and you can tell they are enjoying it.

It was a v fun party, one of the funnest I have been to in ages.  Lots of space and lots of familiar faces, all mixed in with some potent mulled wine.

Penny was v well behaved, and graciously went to sleep for a few hours in Noz & Liam's bedroom while we chatted downstairs.  Then she came down for a bit after having some milk and a nappy change, feeling v awake and sociable.  So it was well after 1am when we all left to wander back to Brixton.

Great fun!

Friday, 2 December 2011

A Christmassy Friday

Met up with Sophie, Sonia and Kaye to see 'Hugo' at the Ritzy Big Scream.  Was an ok film, but Penny was unsettled and so I spent the whole time jumping up and down trying to improve her mood.  V tiring and hard work, so maybe she is just too big for the cinema now.

Then went to the Prince for lunch, where Phil and Jo also joined us.  Then although our plan was to see the tree lights being turned on and carols being sung, we though it was in Windrush Square.  So when we heard it was actually in the library, we decided our full wineglasses were too important to abandon, so we stayed in the Ritzy cafe.  Fish also joined us as he left work a little earlier than usual.

then home to dash around in preparation for the evening's dinner.  Norris and Natalie came round with the  delicious courses they had prepared - Norris with her many tomatoes for a bruscetta starter, and Natalie with her TWO cakes, lemon ricotta and sticky toffee.

Was so good to have a cosy dinner in with them, and the guests of honour Andrew and Fi, who were on good form and had a reasonable run down from Oxford.  They are such a natural couple, and of all the weddings I have been to, they are way up the list when it comes to people who are so suited, happy and generally great.

Had a little too much wine, and Penny decided that going to bed was too boring, so she happily joined us at the dinner table, staying v quiet and jolly.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Last Bikram

Went to my last Bikram class in the evening.  After 7 classes, I do feel fitter and most importantly my back feels stronger and much less achy.  But I am not prepared to give any more cost and time to it (£15 per class, 3.5 hours per session including travel), so I just hope I can persuade myself to go swimming and running throughout the winter so I am not too porky when I get back to work.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

'Mummy' and Mulled Wine

Ok, so it was more like 'mamama', but hearing that sound from Penny made me beam with pride!  At least she can say the sound, even if she was referring to a full nappy or her lunch.

Spent most of the morning sorting the bedroom and spare room out, a bit more energy today as P slept through.  Maybe her snottiness is subsiding.

Celebrated by having a relaxing afternoon in the Ritzy with a glass of mulled wine.  Had a quick Skype with mum and dad, handed the reindeer outfit over to Jo, Phil and Hermione who need it for a fancy dress party, and then back home for an evening of more sorting.

At last, after a month of disruption, the house is livable again.  There are various piles:
- Rubbish
- Recycling
- Charity Shop
- Long term storage
- 'Dare', Charlie's card game which we have now put up on EBay in case any will sell in the pre-Xmas rush.
- Stuff to sort (candles, plates to put back on the wall, etc)

But all in all, the house is lovely again, and much improved by the new floors and kitchen.  Feeling proud and happy to live here.

Norris popped round in the evening for a chat and a Penny cuddle, really good to see her. Especially in anticipation of a weekend with a lovely dinner and her houseparty.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Carpet Day #2

Got the bed out of the room on waking, Charlie did a good job of getting me up, considering I had been up twice in the night with P.

Felt exhausted all day. The milk courier came to pick up my final 2L of breastmilk for St Thomas' Hospital, yay!  And the carpet guys arrived at about 5:30, so I only managed to get a bit of stuff back in the room before Charlie came back and I had to go to Bikram.

Yawned all the way through the class, but full of beans afterwards.  Strange how that always seems to happen.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Carpet Day #1

The carpet men came nice and early, and managed to cope ok with the wardrobe.  I am v pleased with the carpet, seemingly hard wearing but also woolly and soft underfoot.

So then started the next process of getting all the stuff from our bedroom into the spare room and the lounge, to ensure that room would be clear for tomorrow's fitting.  Phew!

Escaped to Kaye's for the afternoon, very different climbing up her hill in Nov rather than the burning sun of the summer.  Another nice chatty afternoon, amusingly enriched by Kaye's rediscovery of 'Gold Bars', a treat from my childhood. They taste the same!  Good to see Jo and Hermione back from SA happy and well, H is on the verge of crawling.


Sunday, 27 November 2011

A Warm Cosy Sunday

A long chatty breakfast of smoked salmon bagels, yum!

Went for a short walk along Happy Valley, good to get some fresh air and to show Penny the cows.

Spoke to David and Justina on Skype, they seem v well and happy!  Great to have the open fire roaring away, it is on my 'must have' list for when we get a house.

Fed Penny on the way home, fortunately she was in a jolly mood while we played Scrabble.

We did try, slightly tiredly, to get the big wardrobe out of the spare room on our return, but to no avail.  Oh well, the carpet men will just have to cope!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Thanksgiving

Headed on down to Brighton for a Thanksgiving weekend.  Having spent Friday evening clearing the spare room, in preparation for carpets on Monday, and what with me feeling coldy and coughing, it was best that we didn't rush down on Friday night.

Lovely to see everybody, Theresa, Demetris, Erika and Dan. Then we were joined by Guy, Sarah, Sadie and Ruby.  The girls have grown up so much, Sadie is now at secondary school!  They were lovely as always, happily making conversation, and having fun with Penny covering her in wrapping paper!  P was on good form, and was quite taken with Eugene (who also joined us for a big turkey dinner with Alexis).

Carried on the annual tradition or writing what we are thankful for and what our wishes are on leaves, which we put on the thanksgiving tree.  Just lovely to be so looked after, especially with a nice glass of wine.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Sign of the Times


Seen in the alleyway near our house, just off Brixton Road.  Interesting to read and ponder, especially during the Occupy era ... who and what occupies your mind?

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Back to London, Birthdays and Bed

A relaxing morning, Miranda, P and I were joined at the Cross for brunch by her neighbour Ed and his little boy Jack.  Jack was v sleepy, but then managed to munch his way through my leftover sausages ... very efficient!

Then a little wander in Birmingham for P and I before we got on a much less busy train back to London.  P was still a bit squawky though, I think maybe it is due to the heating in the train which they now have on full blast since it is so cold outside.

Another little reunion with Charlie, who had come back Sat night, then to Kirsten's to celebrate her birthday.  A lovely evening with tea and cake, chatting with K, Norris, Charlie and being amused by Penny.

Andrew popped round later to have some curry and to see Penny, and Charlie and I were late to bed as always ... will will need to be more disciplined when we are both working and are permanently knackered!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Birmingham Wanderings

A slow morning, let Charlie have a lie-in.  Then we all went into Birmingham, though impossible to shop due to the Christmas rush already having begun,  and the German Christmas market was crawling too, so impossible to even see what was on most stalls.  So we snuck off to the less busy Starbucks on Colmore Row to have our first Gingerbread Latte of the year, and then decided to go back to Moseley for a late lunch.

Had some delicious soup in front of the fire, again at the Fighting Cocks, then back to Miranda's for a relaxing evening eating pasta, watching silly tv (i.e. Strictly Come Ballroom) and chatting.  Am so excited that Miranda is having a baby, she is doing v well in her pregnancy being chilled out and looking v glowy.

Friday, 18 November 2011

A Good Pub is Hard to Find

After we left Ruth's, P and I spent the afternoon in the Fighting Cocks in Moseley.  Perhaps it is the lack of good homely pubs in London, but it really was lovely ... music at the right volume, not too busy, open fire, mulled wine ... ahhhhhh!

So got a bit of writing done, and then met Miranda and Nigel at theirs after work.  Spent a fun evening with them, Jess, Gareth, and Charlie (who was only up in Brum for one night) having a take away curry and wine, and generally chatting about all sorts of nonsense, including rude cupcakes.

Penny was very good, didn't want to leave the party to go to bed, but was very jolly and amenable so we were happy for her to join us and get to know our Brum friends better.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Hard Travel

Popped in to the Health Visitor this morning, Penny is now a stonking 18 lbs!

Then did some beautifully planned packing and getting out of the house, only to find trains delayed and cancelled on reaching Euston.

Eventually got on a v busy train to New Street, no mean feat with pushchair, suitcase and nappy bag.  And Penny decided to swing from being delightful to screaming her most shrieky offputting scream.

So bundled through the crowds waiting on the platform, pleased to see Ruth and to get to her house to spend an evening chatting and chilling out.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

A Day with Granny

Met Mum at Kings Cross, then popped back over the river to meet Andrew for lunch on the Southbank.  Made our way to Browns on Shad Thames for indulgent Shepherds Pie before Andrew had to get back to work.  We found ourselves in John Lewis, perusing the lovely clothes and toys on the kiddy floor, before going back to Brixton.

After Mum went home, Charlie, Andrew and Alex got together at ours before going to the Smashing Pumpkins concert at the Brixton Academy.  And I made some good progress trimming and sorting my making things shelves.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Managed to heave myself out of bed and to London Bridge for Bikram.  Even better, though a little off balance (perhaps the tawny port from last night?)

Got back to arrive at the door simultaneously with Ryan, who was due to come round for tea and cake.  Great to catch up with him, as it had been a while, and he was v sweet with Penny ... letting her grab his beard and making funny faces.

Andrew also popped round, and we had a quick game of 3D Worms which Charlie won on a technicality.

Spent the evening relaxing together and playing Scrabble with my wonderful Fishy on his iPod ... bliss!

A great weekend seeing friends and family, plus a little relaxing at the end.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

A Dinner Party

Pootled through the street market at Brixton before heading to Alex's with armfuls of board games to celebrate his birthday.  Spent the afternoon watching the Road/Rail/Boat trip videos on his flashy widescreen tv ... was quite nostalgic, and strange to see ourselves so much younger (the road trip was 2008).

Played Ingenious and Catan when joined by Andrew, then when Kate, Greg, Norris and Liam arrived, we started on dinner.  A yummy bready amuse bouche, followed by an enchilada style starter. Then a LONG break for a game of Ticket to Ride Europe which Greg won.  Then chicken with a stilton sauce, followed by my cheesecake which went down well

Was a lovely evening, but clearly we were having too much fun as Penny did not want to leave the excitement to fall asleep.  So she was fidgity and a bit grimbly, but did eventually go off ... and everybody was very tolerant of her.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Excursion and Dinner

After a week of being in the house a lot, I think Penny was relieved that we spent the whole afternoon out and about with Alex and Andrew celebrating Alex's birthday.  After a cup of tea at La Cave near London Bridge, we went for lunch at an Italian restaurant near South Kensington before going to the Unsung Heroes: The Genius of Everyday Things exhibition at the Science Museum.

It was a small but well put together exhibition, looking at velcro, clothes pegs, paperclips, fasteners and similar.  We all got hypnotised by the video showing a paperclip bending machine.

Then we left Alex and Andrew to their evening of beer and karaoke, only to host dinner at our flat.  Host, but not cook, as Theresa kindly brought round a beef casserole to treat myself, Charlie, Erika and Dan.  Demetris joined us too, and successfully fed Penny her dinner.  A lovely cosy evening in.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Bikram part 3

Stayed in all day for our new mattress, which arrived and am v pleased with, and Charlie's video camera ... which did not arrive.  Decided not to worry, as we could always pick it up with the 'sorry you weren't in' card.

Bikram went even more smoothly, though did feel a little short of oxygen in the room towards the end.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

A Kiwi Visitor

Quickly met with Matty at Victoria as he was passing through London from Leeds to back home in Chich, good to see him so chipper!

Lovely to be joined at dinner by Kiwi Laura, who kindly brought wine (good wine, as always) and a delicious chocolate dessert.  Great that she has moved south of the river, and good to catch up in general.  Andrew joined us for a quick slice of chocolate roulade too.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Date Night

Had a cosy afternoon of tea and cake with Erika, before Charlie and I left her to babysit, and headed to the Toulouse Lautrec in Kennington for dinner.  Accompanied by live jazz piano and vocals, the food was splendid.  I chose steak tartare, and managed most of it before it became too rich.

Great to have time with Fish just chatting and having fun, and nice to hang out with Dan and Erika a little on our return home.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Bikram take 2

Charlie had a flexiday today, but before he bustled off to the Ritzy to write and try to grab 'we need to talk about Kevin', he was v helpful in dashing round the house with me doing jobs.

Baked a lemon drizzle cake for the NCT ladies who were round at mine for the afternoon ... was v yummy tasting, though low on the attractiveness scale.

Had a nice afternoon with them, drinking tea, eating cake, and discussing our various return to work plans/predicaments.

Then rushed off a chorizo and chickpea stew for our dinner while feeding Penny as I needed to dash off to Bikram again.  As it is at London Bridge, it takes a little while to get there and back.

Penny also seems to be teething again, the pink cheeks and painful wails seem to be coming back.  She had some teething gel and Calpol this evening for the first time in ages.

Bikram was much better.  I think as yesterday's class was so late, and I and many others were waiting in the hot room, 2.5 hours was too long to be in such a hot room for the first time.  That and the lack of food was my downfall.  But today felt tired but energised.  The teacher seemed to be much more aware of the class dynamic and interactive, plus I knew more what to expect from the poses.

Hope it keeps getting better, though now hard to sleep as full of beans :)

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Mr Bikram's torture class

A v lazy morning, as Fish was up earlyish for a D&D day, so let him do Penny's morning routine.  Eventually got up, said hi to everybody and had a lazy afternoon before heading off for my first Bikram yoga class.

And what an experience!  Overheating your entire body whilst straining into various yoga poses, all while feeling thirsty and slightly starved of oxygen.

My mistake, I believe, was not eating enough during the day.  So on arriving home shattered, I inhaled 2 slices of pizza, and spent the rest of the evening trying to watch Downton Abbey between dashing to the bathroom to feel/be sick and blubbing to Charlie about how ill and headachy I felt.

Consigned myself to bed at 10.30 ... what self-inflicted suffering!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Mattress and Fireworks

A day of chilling out and doing jobs.  Bought a nice new mattress which will be delivered on Thurs, just need to sort out getting rid of the old one.

Then to Brockwell Park for fireworks.  We seemed to have residents of half the boroughs in London there, the park was so full.  But it was a splendid display, even if you couldn't quite hear the music properly.  Penny had her ear protectors on and was clearly bemused by the whole thing.  Was funny when she decided she was ready for her night time breastfeed in the middle of the show, but kept being distracted by the sparkly sky.

Then met with Liam and Noz in the Half Moon pub in Herne Hill, along with their friends Julia and Kerry.  P was being extra delightful, and we went home at 10ish.

Friday, 4 November 2011

A Week

A good week, a chance to catch up on things as not too much in the diary.

- Lounge floor all finished ... yay, love it :)
- Made a crochet 'brain slug' from Futurama, some good pics with Penny and was fun to make.
- Watched 'The Idea of March' at the Big Scream, v good film.
- Went for a swim at Peckham Pulse ... P went underwater and I let go, she did v well.
- Got some writing done, need to keep it up.
- Wriggle and Rhyme at Brixton Library, and the usual NCT meet up at Jo's ... lots of fun.

Now hoping for a relaxing weekend, and will be starting Bikram Yoga too ... eeeeep!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Rest

After going to bed at about 3, up again at 8:30 with the baby.  So had a lazy day of watching DVDs (How to Train your Dragon, The Big Bang Theory), eating and a little clearing up.

Popped out to the farmers market for some interesting cheese, and ran into Norris who had dutifully gone for a swim, and also Andrew and Sarah who were in search of brunch.  Gives you a warm feeling to run into friendly faces while wandering round our neighbourhood.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Waaa-Haa-Haaaaa!

A lazy morning of lying in and setting the house up for Halloween.

After bacon sandwiches (yum!), played Pandemic and Ticket to Ride Europe with Kirsten and Ruth, who decided to join us for the weekend.  Kirsten had done some epic baking, including marshmallow ghost cakes and pumpkin biscuits.

Andrew, Sarah and Alex joined us a little later for pizza, and it was v quiet until about 9 when Greg, Kate, Roger, Erika, Dan, Liam and Norris all arrived.  Was a little odd to learn about Sir Jimmy Saville's death by Dan coming to the door in a dead Jimmy Saville costume (body bag, grey wig, fake cigar and silver foil jewellery).

And after a few hours of chatting, drinking and fun, we started a pretty large game of werewolf.  We made it through 2 games, both of which were close and hard fought.  I don't think I had drunk enough to carry off being a werewolf in the second game, but Dan held the fort well.  Biggest learning?  That Norris and I can see through each other pretty well.

Penny was a delight all evening, going down for a couple of hours of sleep, but being very amenable (if a little scared of zombie Liam) at all other times.

Friday, 28 October 2011

The Help ... and a Missing Floor

Went to the Big Scream at the Ritzy with Fishy as it was his flexiday, to watch 'The Help'.  An excellent film which transports you to 1960's Mississippi and cultural tensions between black maids and their scheming employers.  Filled with humour, tension, sadness and joy, it was a beautifully told story and I would recommend it to anybody.

Had a late lunch in Brixton Village with the NCT crowd, including Charlie and Phil.

Then home to discover that UPS had messed up delivering the last bit of our floor.  Charlie tried in vain to pick it up from Kentish Town, but they also managed to mess up the admin so he couldn't take it with him.  So we instead set up the lounge to hide the remaining small section that still needed finishing.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

A quick peek into work

Took Penny into work again, she was an angel, grinning at everybody and being adorable.

Caught up with my old boss Mark for a cup of tea before going to lunch with Rich and his super-adorable 5 year old twin boys at Strada on St Katherine's dock ... "We are 5!"

Then late to meet Erika at Peter Jones on Kings Road for a wander and a chat.  PJ looks v Christmassy, I must make some mulled wine at the weekend :)

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Books Books Books!

Chucking it down with rain, but I swore I would get out of the house rather than be consigned to the bedroom all day by lounge floor revival.

Met with Claire and Leo at Brockwell Lido Cafe, much less busy now summer has gone ... a silver lining to the onset of autumn/winter.  Then we got a bus to Piccadilly to visit Waterstones.  I intended for us then to go to the V&A to see the 50 years of Private Eye exhibition, but figured that could wait as we were enjoying the bookshop so much!

Books definitely do have an energy, and it has been a while since I have hung out in a bookshop.  The kids section was fab too, deciding between all the 'That's not my ...' books:

That's not my ... tiger, bear, angel, fairy, pirate, santa, snowman, reindeer, truck, robot, kitty, puppy, elephant, dinosaur, monster, rabbit, lion ...

[We decided on 'That's not my bear', good choice!  Though I do really want to get 'That's not my pirate' for several people I know :)   ]

Then had a lovely dinner at Little Sicily with Theresa, Erika and Gilly.  P was v good in the restaurant, and we left them to go out to their cabaret night to jump on the no 3 bus home.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Wriggle and Bed

Felt much better, after a day of recuperation on Mon.  Joined Jo and Hermione at Wriggle and Rhyme at the library which was v quiet due to half term.  Then to Tesco for a big shop, a little tiring as I was still short on energy.

The lounge floor was being started, as we had spent Mon evening clearing the lounge and wedging the sofa in the doorway of the spare room once it became clear it wouldn't be shoved through it.

So we spent Tues evening consigned to the bedroom, sitting with Penny, watching Life of Brian (very much enjoyed Holy Flying Circus) and trying to ignore the lounge clutter surrounding us.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Sick!

Up a couple of times in the night with P, and felt not quite right, only to find in the morning that my dinner was going right through me.  But we decided to go to Bettie-Lou's Christening anyway, and so pleased we did.  Babies were v jolly, and the after event was held in a beautiful barn.

Felt a bit better as the day went on, only to decline again on the journey home.  So grabbed a couple of hours sleep before popping round for dinner at Andrew's with Mum, Dad and Alex (though I didn't eat)..

C took care of P as I went to bed early.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

A Walk in the Woods

Set off from Brixton Station with Greg and Kate, picking up Alex at Herne Hill on the way, to go to Otford for a day of walking.  Submerged ourselves in the lush green trees and general Kentish countryside cleanness, with P being carried along in a rucksack kindly lent to us by Elle and Matt.  Stopped in the Fox & Hounds pub for a well earned break in the middle.

Home at sunset, for an evening of Chinese Food and Pandemic, which we won with 4 players on Easy, Medium and Hard ... hooray!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

A Sojourn to Chich

P was v good on the train journey with Mum and Dad down to Chichester to see Matthew.  We managed to get on the early train, so had a little time to jump into some charity shops before a very nice lunch at the Nags Head.  Great to see Matty, who was on good form, and also gave us a 6 month birthday present for Penny ... a big collage of Penny's first 6 months ... so sweet!


Back home for a cup of tea, then an early night as both C and I are a little run down ... phew!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Wriggle and Rhyme and Growl!

Another great Wriggle and Rhyme session with Jo and Hermione at Brixton Library.  It is always so much fun, hilarious that I get so into it (e.g. growling when asked what noise a dragon makes).

After a cup of tea, went home to chill out.  It seemed like we were going to have a ridiculously busy week, but our lounge floor renovations are now postponed to next week, so emptying the lounge and the surrounding chaos can wait a while.

So managed to get a heap of stuff up for sale on Ebay, and had a lovely evening with Mum and Dad as Charlie was out for dinner and a magic show with James F.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Save the World!

Charlie and I spent the afternoon in the Trinity Arms' sunny revamped beer garden playing Pandemic, managing to win on Normal, lose on Hard, and then WIN ON HARD!!!  It is possible ... hooray!

Mr Pucket popped round in the evening to pick up his Pucket demo games and had a quick beer and game of Go with Charlie, seems he is also part of a Brixton based group of board game enthusiasts.

Then we guzzled a delicious roast dinner and the chocolate shortbreads I had made, before C got started on the bike trip video (now his exam is out of the way, it went very well on Friday).

Friday, 14 October 2011

The Week

Spent a lot of time with NCT ladies this week, going to Wriggle and Rhyme at Brixton library with Jo on Tues, then to Burgess Park sensory room with Jo, Sonia and Claire on Weds, and then meeting up with Jo and Kaye at Brixton Village for lunch on Friday.  Otherwise have been doing lots of sorting out.

Penny amusingly spends the whole time now saying "Dadadada", and just grins indifferently when I say "Mamama" to her.

She is at least sleeping through again now, which is a relief and v good for my wellbeing and general mood.

Managed to sort through all the nursery stuff too, putting away all the clothes which are now too small, and getting out her wintery corduroy dungarees and wollies.

Monday, 10 October 2011

... and god bless all who sail in her!

A struggle against the London traffic, but worth the 2.5 hour drive to get to rural Oxfordshire to celebrate the launch of Robin and Marion's canal boat: Many Meetings.

Great to see so Many of the Sundty family there too, Jane and Dave from Devon, Claire from Tasmania, Chris and Gay, and of course Jane N.

After a lovely buffet lunch in the pub, and witnessing the maiden voyage, we hot-footed it back to London so Charlie could run his board game night at the Ritzy.  I joined him for a bit, but went back home for pizza and ice-cream after we were told P couldn't be in the Ritzy after 7pm.

Charlie was v pleased, lots of interest and attendees!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Inside

Had a lazy morning with Penny while Charlie got a bit more revision done, watched the end of Howls Moving Castle which I slept through a few nights ago.

Made some cinnamon biscuits of my own, and spent most of the afternoon trying to write a summary of one of the stories I have had in my head for a while to help move it forward.

Then a lazy evening in front of Downton Abbey ... why won't Mary tell Matthew she loves him!

Penny turned her nose up at butternut squash today, but seemed a little interested in broccoli ... the food adventure goes on!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Autumn Days

Up twice in the night again, so the formula dreamfeed is not flawless.

Decided to give Charlie a lie in, so wrapped P and I up in a blankie and snuggled up in the lounge with a cup of tea and Saturday Kitchen.

Went for a family swim in Brixton.  Slightly cooler than Peckham, but Penny was fine.  She slowly got more tired as we swooshed and dunked and backfloated our way around the other children who were splashing about.

Picked up some homemade cinnamon biscuits at the market, then played 3 games of Pandemic with Norris at ours. Won twice on Easy, but killed 6 bn people on Normal ... rats!

Let Charlie get an hour of revision done for his upcoming retake before dinner and a lazy evening watching tv and playing Scrabble .

Thursday, 6 October 2011

A swim and a thought

Had a lovely afternoon with Claire & Leo and Sonia & Clara at Peckham Pulse for a baby swim in their hydrotherapy pool.  Was lots of fun, and the babies all enjoyed themselves.  Went back to Claire's for a cup of tea, as Charlie is out for the evening.

And a quick thought about an incredibly influential man.  The world has been fondly remembering Steve Jobs today: a pioneer, a leader and a man who could see the future.




I think the world has been so admiring of him not just because of his money or even his success, but mainly his love for his career as a weaver of consumer dreams via technology.  The world often seems to equate work with drudgery, but Jobs was a high profile person who said no only that loving your work is ok, but that it is surely the only sensible path for a fulfilling and fun life.  Including the hard bits, the tiring days and the frustration of course, but that overall you are in love with your work.

I wonder how many people will have handed in their notice today ...

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Jumble

Decided to have a day in sorting out my ever bursting at the seams wardrobe.  Felt invigorated but still tired after Penny sleeping through, so pleased when she had a couple of hours of napping in the morning while I ploughed through jobs.

And in the afternoon I just couldn't keep my eyes open, so was even happier when she joined me for a nap.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Date Night

Popped to Balham to pick up Penny's Highchair ... very pleased!




Then Aunty Erika came round late afternoon, shortly to be joined by Uncle Dan, so that Mummy and Daddy could go out by ourselves.  So kind of them to babysit.

Was lovely, and quite liberating. Though it also made me realise that we are v lucky to be so happy when the 3 of us are together as a family, chilled and happy and having fun, which I hope will only improve as P gets bigger and more able to do things and join in in activities.

Went to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy at the cinema.  Kept having a sneaking suspicion that I was missing out on major plot points, but by the end it seemed I had 'got it', even though some of the detail was not 100% clear.

Then to Fujiyama for a delicious sushi dinner.

P was apparently very good, though unsurprisingly still awake when we got back.  So C and I thought we would try and experimental formula feed, which led to 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep!  Interesting ...

Monday, 3 October 2011

Last sun

Penny's 6 month birthday ... happy birthday Pudding!

A lie-in, after another night of interruption.

Sweet potato for P's 2nd lunch, much of which was sprayed back at Mama.

Had a lovely NCT meet up in Sophie's garden, felt like squeezing the very last drops of sun and warmth from summer '11.  Also had a great chat with Jo whilst walking back to Brixton.

Alex popped round in the evening to drop of keys, and we squeezed in a couple of games of Pandemic ... the second of which we won!  Phew!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Food, Glorious Food!


Penny's First Meal from Charlie Fish on Vimeo.



Penny tried her first taste of apple today!  And she seemed v keen on it ... lots of fun, and mess :)

Popped out to help Norris and Liam move house with the car club car, then home where Charlie was helping his Nomad friend Michelle with her website.

Then, worn out, proceeded to fall asleep to Howl's Moving Castle, only to be unable to sleep for 2 hours on going to bed ... sigh!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Bear and Moons

Matty, P and I met up with Andrew and Sarah for brunch, then having popped into Barnardos I found the BIGGEST bear!




So, he is called Barnard!

V excited to watch the last in the series of Doctor Who ... thrilling and frustrating all at once!

Also got my binoculars out so we could look at Jupiter, and you could even see two of its moons.  Great!

Friday, 30 September 2011

Hot Hot Hot!

Met up with the ladies and babies at the Lido cafe where, although Jo had to leave early, we had a pleasant lunch.  Both pool and cafe were full with happy Lambethians enjoying the heat.

Turns out P does not have a tummy infection, but she is still not right, so back to the docs next week.

Felt tired and grumpy by the evening, so good to have a cosy evening in with Fish watching Willy Wonka and playing Scrabble.

Matty arrived at 9:30, good to see him, staying with us to go to a footie match on Sat.

Penny would not go to bed, no matter what we did, so I took the decision to bring her to bed with us to make sure we both got some sleep.  Hope her dislike for her cot doesn't last!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Bright Sunshiney Day

Another tiring night, so tried to grab some extra sleep this morning.

P had a long nap after lunch, so used the time to get some little jobs done.  Then thought we would go out in the sunshine for a bit.  Found some great dresses at Barnardos, and stopped for a drink in Morleys.

Made a roast belly of pork for dinner ... was delicious!  And had a relaxing bath as it was Charlie's evening with Penny.  Yet again, she was not keen to go to bed, even after a good few pages of the Jungle Book.  Maybe because she is ill still, but hoping it does not continue ...

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Walking through Greenest London

Waited around in the morning for the gas man to come and replace our meter, pretty painless.  Then met with Jo and Hermione to catch a bus to Crystal Palace to meet Kaye and Betsy for a walk around the Green Chain Route.

As it was so hot, we stopped lots to feed and change babies, and to chat.  Through Crystal Palace Park, Sydenham, and eventually we made it to the Horniman where we caught the cafe just before it closed.

A 'Feast' and a cup of tea later, we waited for the P4 to get back to Brixton.  A good dose of exercise and fresh air!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Brightness in Brighton

A bit bustly first thing, packing for the day and sorting out Penny's poop sample, but eventually got to Victoria and on the train to Brighton to spend the day with Yaya Theresa and Demetris.

Wandered by the sea for a while with T, visiting the playpark (bit advanced for Penny at this stage).  Then drove through the fog to the house for a lovely salmon lunch, and an afternoon of chatting, Penny cuddles and T kindly gave me a back massage as I was achy.

Got back home at 9.30, tired and happy.  Charlie was watching Das Boot, which he paused to give Penny a bath.  Then yet again she was hard to put to bed, and was up in the night 3 times ... can't wait till her tummy is better!

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Many Shades of Poop

Yes, it is true.  When you become a new parent, the colour of your beloved child's poop is a world of fascination ... and worry.  P has been pooping a lot, and in noxious green shades, for a good few days now. And the only docs appointment before Friday was this afternoon.

So our plans for the day changed.  Brighton was delayed till tomorrow, and I had a bit of a chance to do some tidying up and sorting out after a busy long weekend.

Also managed to make various fruit and veg purees (peach, carrot, apple) for the freezer in preparation for the upcoming weaning planned, but this may now be delayed depending on P's tum.

Doc was not too worried, as she gave him her biggest beaming smile and I explained that she has been very well in herself.  In fact, she even started to sit up unsupported today.


So, her poop will be tested so, if she is not better by Friday, they will at least know what it is so they can treat it effectively.  Fingers crossed she will get better of her own accord, will be better for her immune system.  You can do it, little one!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Brixton Treasure Hunt

Up 3 times in the night with Penny, as expected, so took the opportunity to have a bit of extra rest in the morning before meeting at the Hive for the Treasure Hunt.

Kirsten, Penny and I were the first to be briefed and to get going.  P was good as gold as we wandered round Brixton Village, Brockwell Park, the Lido and Max Roach Park deciphering the clues.

We went round pretty quickly, and it even took us about 4.5 hours!  So we were pleased to get back to the Hive and deliver our answers to the panel.

Was good to catch up with Mr and Mrs Turi, who had come along for the occassion.

P won a prize for the photo of her touching water from a drinking fountain (one of the bonus challenges), so I selected a Brixton Windmill badge for her.

After the prizes, P and I went home for a relaxing evening in with Downton Abbey.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Back to the Big Smoke

As Penny still out of sorts, and the night was cold as expected, I had a v interrupted night but felt in good spirits when we packed up the tent in the morning, including wiping off the armies of slugs.

Stopped at Membury services for breakfast, then again at Heston for a quick rest and a cup of tea.  Then back to London with gusto.  Charlie kindly looked after Penny while I caught up on sleep, then Alex, Andrew and Sarah came round for an evening of pizza and boardgames.  They played a couple of games of Blockus, then we proceeded to lose at Pandemic another couple of times.

In fact, C and Alex are still up trying to win at it now.  I think C is keen to keep playing till they win, but I reckon Alex will be less keen since he has to get home.

Matthew has also arrived for the treasure hunt tomorrow, good to see him.

P still not quite right, and did not want to settle down to sleep.  Hope she is not up all night!

Friday, 23 September 2011

A Brilliant Celebration!


You know when you go to a wedding that feels just so right everybody is grinning and just feeling really good?  Well, we had one of those today as the lovely Fi Evans married Andrew and became Mrs Ashcroft.  We picked up Norris and Liam in the morning to drive to Gloucestershire, and set up our tents in the field at the back of the beautiful barn that was the setting for much laughter, excellent food, dancing and fun.

Fi looked so beautiful and so happy ... speeches were concise, touching and original ... dinner was delicious, and the hog roast was a handy bonus!

Good also to see Mat, Gemma, Kirsty, Ruth etc.


Thursday, 22 September 2011

Change of Plan

P still not well, so cancelled the afternoon's swimming appointment and had an extended lunch catching up with Kirsten, who is now back from her summer in the US.

Went to the Hive when Charlie got back from work, as Thurs is my 'evening off'.  Got a little writing done, then joined by Andrew for some dinner and a catch up.  Then back home for a quick game of Ticket to Ride - Europe (TTRE) before bed.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Meet by the Nelson Mandela Statue

Got through lots of overdue jobs this morning, in the house and in Brixton, before going to Waterloo to meet Emma H, Marianne, Rachel and their respective offspring (all babies roughly the same age as Penny).  Had a lovely lunch at Pain Quotidien.  Really good to catch up with them and introduce the babies to each other, so they could grin and reach out to each other.

Spent the evening making a seat cover for Penny's pram, looking pretty good so far.

Poor P had 4 poops today, don't think she is in the best of digestive health ... am wondering what I could have eaten?!  Such a responsibility ...

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

BalHAM, south of ClapHAM

Went to  check out a potential venue for Penny's naming ceremony over lunch, then joined Erika at her flat for soup and a chat.  Then we wondered towards Clapham Junction, and pootled around the great Fara charity shop and random antique shops of Northcote Road.  Lots of lovely stuff, all quite expensive! Managed to get myself a fab petticoat, now I just need the 50's rockabilly dress to go with it ...

Was given the evening off looking after the baby (Tues and Thurs evenings are now diarised as Emmy time), so had a relaxing bath while Ch took P round to Kirsten's for a game of Ticket to Ride -Europe with Andrew, then I went to see the Inbetweeners film.

Verdict?  Puerile, funny (laugh out loud funny at times), touching, and above all made me overjoyed not to be a teenager.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Fish are Friends

Spent the afternoon at the Horniman Museum with Claire, Sophie, Dave, Leo and Syd (and of course Penny).  Am now the proud owner of an annual pass for their aquarium.  We let the babies stare at the fishes, crabs, seahorses and jellyfish, and then went for a cup of tea.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Addicted to Tickets and Global Pandemics

Another 7 and a half hour run from Penny, along with an extra hour or so in bed ... brill!

Met Alex and Andrew for swimming and, while Daddy, Kirsten, James C and Greg started their D&D over lunch, I picked Penny up so A, A and I could play Ticket to Ride-Europe in the Hive ... addicted!

A very close game, with me scoring 119, Alex on 121 and Andrew won with only 124 ... argggh!  Very close, and good that Alex did not lose, though I am concerned that Andrew is too good.

Hung out at home chatting to Ruth, who is in London for a conference.  Then we joined A and A for a spag bol dinner plus 3 games of 'Pandemic'.

Put it this way ... we only played the third game to make sure we won after losing and wiping out 6 bn people in the first two games ... but we lost the third game too!  Curses, v frustrating! 

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Sleeeeep!

FINALLY ... Penny slept 8 hours in a row last night, please let this be a return to her old form!

So, on getting up at 8am, and with Penny and Charlie in bed asleep with me, did I get more sleep?  Noooo ... that would be too sensible.  So instead I watched QI, and a very interesting documentary about Pink Floyd.

Met with Alex at the Hive for lunch, and to introduce him to Ticket to Ride-Europe.  After 3 games, 2 a the Hive and 1 at our place, I won 2 (yay!) and Charlie won the last game by a huge margin.

Then I made the spiced plum and apple crumble, the dessert for our dinner at the Keats.  Sam A and Theresa were also both there, so we had a lovely evening of Penny cuddles, chatting and red wine in Battersea.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Return to the Metropolis

A smooth journey to Peterborough after a lovely few days with Granny and Grandad.  In London in 50 mins, then home by midday.  Great!  Did some house pottering, with washing and other bits and pieces before Daddy came home from work.  So lovely for us both to see him, absence really does make the heart grow even fonder.

A surprise visit from Anthony, who was in Brixton watching 'Beirut' at the Academy.  Good to see him and to introduce him to Penny.  Then Norris popped round quickly, I think some Penny time was needed!

And then I proceeded to beat Charlie twice at Ticket to Ride-Europe ... yay!  Although I enjoy the game, even if I lose, it is good to know that I CAN win.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

More visitors

Grandad took Penny for a little walk this morning while I had my shower, all in time for a massive roast chicken lunch as Aunty Pauline and Uncle Bob were coming round to meet the baby.

They seemed very well, good to also hear about Linda and Elaine, and we had a pleasant afternoon of tea and chatting while Pauline cuddled the baby, who was once again in a good mood.

After they left, we spent some time playing with Penny and trying to convince her to roll over.  And then, over dinner, we looked at some of Mum's newly organised photos.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

To Grantham

After a relaxing morning, and a v relaxing bath for me while Penny had some Granny cuddles, we got caught in horrible traffic while going to see Aunty Lena and Aunty Lynn in Grantham.

Lovely to see them both, and their excitable little dog Rusty calmed down eventually.  Quite amusing to see baby meet dog and dog meet baby for the first time (for both of them).

P was v jolly, lovely to see her gazing adoringly at Aunty Lena.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

To Spalding

As I got up a couple of times for Penny in the night, decided to spent the free morning resting and catching up on sleep before packing and heading to Kings Cross.  Snuck onto the First Capital Connect train, as the East Coast line was cancelled (probably due to the high winds).

Met at Peterborough by Granny and Grandad, who kindly gave us a lift home, and we spent the evening having a lovely salmon dinner and trying to amuse the baby, who was a little out of sorts.  Also met Mum's friend Val, who seemed entranced by Penny ... good that she wasn't too grumpy!


Monday, 12 September 2011

Carrot Cake

Made a delicious carrot cake, to Delia Smith's recipe, for the NCT ladies who came round to ours in the afternoon.  Lovely also to be joined by Charlie on his flexiday, which allowed me a little freedom to shop for food and chat.  His rehearsal for the board game evening he is running at the Ritzy went well, and he and Andrew came back for mushroom risotto and another game of Ticket to Ride-Europe ... a little addictive maybe?

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Run for your Train Ticket!

Decided to go for a run today, what a good decision!  Set off to the fabulously motivational rhythms of Paul Simon's 'The Obvious Child' and went probably a little short of 5km.

Felt a bit wheezy and restricted of breath early on, but pretty sure it was due to my setting off so quickly as I had such a jolly soundtrack.  So I slowed to a better pace on entering Brockwell Park.  Also managed to run into my Exec Director Harriet in the park, good to see her and do the briefest of catch ups (I think I was grateful to get my breath back!).

And, because I saw the same carboot sale I had been to a few weeks ago, Charlie and I decided to pick up a couple of cheese muffins from Brixton Farmers Market and go for a walk there with P.  Alas, it had finished by the time we got there, but we recompensed by going to Alex's new place, have a cup of tea, and to say hello to Malcolm and Margaret.

Back home to do a little writing, and to have a couple of fun games of Ticket to Ride-Europe with Andrew in the evening, as it was our birthday present to him.  Was very enjoyable, but probably not where I will shine ...

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Day of Games

Due to the bad weather warnings, which now seem to be unfounded, we abandoned our camping plans and invited everybody round to ours for a day of games.  I made basil and plain focaccia, along with some chocolate brownies, which all turned out very well!

So, after lunch with James & Claire F, Nick and Becky B and eventually James C, we got down to some board games.  Joyously, I managed to beat everybody at Dixit and, more unexpectedly, at Ingenious too.

The boys then embarked on an epic 3 hour game of Lord of the Rings Risk while we chatted and played with Penny.

After some take away pizza, Charlie introduced James and James to Pucket, while Claire expertly lulled Penny to sleep.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Power of Making

After a fairly grumpy day yesterday, woke up to a much better day today.  Penny slept for 7 hours in a row, getting back to her old good form, and we had a good Health Visitor session.  She is now 15lb 12oz, so no wonder it is getting harder to play aeroplanes with her!

Then we went on to The Power of Making exhibition at the V&A.




A free exhibition, it is a compelling and diverse presentation by people with a lot of imagination and expertise demonstrating the value of being unique.  I read once that being unique is our best gift to society, and I believe it too (especially being unique in a positive way, please).

From handmade wooden bicycles, to wooden textiles, to the above alphabet carved into pencil graphite (my favourite), it showed a variety of techniques and results.  And, as well as championing handmade items, it also mixed in the benefits of technology ... from the homemade cardboard surfboard templates to the laser cut address christmas card snowflake (another favourite).

There is a great Guardian gallery of some highlights here.

Highly recommended, well done V&A and the Crafts Council!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Balham - Gateway to the South



Had a lovely afternoon with Erika in Balham, with a long chatty lunch followed by some charity shop browsing. She seems, as I am, very impressed by the Fara shops. Good quality, suitable pricing, plus they have great kids shops, so I got a few bits and pieces forPenny.

Back home to try out my version of the Hive’s Pork chop, creamy apple sauce and courgettes, which went pretty well.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Back to Normal

Bustled around the sorting office, the post office, Brixton and home in the morning, getting jobs done, before going to Sonia’s to meetwith the NCT ladies in the afternoon. Good to see them all, and fun to see the babies interacting ever more(including a toe sucking incident!).



Then left a bit later than intended to meet Charlie at London Bridge to go to Robin’s birthday dinner in Oxted. Was SO busy at London Bridge, the swarm ofcommuters didn’t seem to be able to compute a pushchair, so we took it assteadily as we could.

We managed to squeeze onto the last carriage of the train byfolding up the pushchair, and a kind soul did give Charlie and Penny his seat.

Lovely to see everybody, especially Claire who was over fromTasmania and Geoff & Jacqui fromFrance.

Went home quite late as v tired, compounded by Penny wakingup at 4:30am at the moment.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Sorting Out


Properly finished unpacking, sorting out the nursery and doing the final kitchen bits and pieces.  Alex kindly cooked curry for us, and Norris and Liam, who it was great to catch up with … they seemed on v good form after Green Man and a holiday in Pembrokeshire.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Home


Went straight to Munich airport on getting up.  Penny was grizzly on the flight, but not much we could do about it.  Such a shame that the flight protocol is for her to face forwards, otherwise I could feed her to sort out the pressure in her ears.

Slightly odd getting back to the house, two weeks is a long holiday.

Lots of washing on, and made a good start on getting the kitchen back to normal as all the contents were still in the lounge after the refit.

Alex and Jason came round for mushroom lasagne, they and Matty and Andrew had taken later flights back from Munich.  Alex was also staying with us for a few days as he is between houses.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Munich, Noch Einmal!


Up early to pack and clear out the cabin.  Then took the train to Munich.  On arriving in the rain, I realised I was sleepy, so slept for a couple of hours while the others went exploring.

Joined them for a evening of food, beer and ‘The Hat Game’ in the Hofbrauhaus beer garden.  Penny, Matty and I went back to the hotel early, Charlie came back at midnight, and the others went out for a bit longer, seeking beer and karaoke.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Crazy Golf in Crazy Garmisch



Decide not to join the others for a morning walk, and sospent the day resting, then going to play crazy golf with Alex, Andrew, Jasonand Charlie. Alex won, but Jason and Ihad the lowest stroke count … yay!

Had a lovely dinner, with a bottle of fizz to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary ... :)

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Ascending the 'Wank'



Spent the whole day climbing up one of the many mountains surrounding Garmisch-Partenkirchen, amusingly named the ‘Wank’. We managed the four hour ascent in just over3 hours, the walk littered with dreadful puns, but clearly we were all stillquite fit after all the cycling.

It was incredible, climbing ever higher and higher, abovethe town, then above the top of the ski jump, then up amongst the other peaksin the area.

Fantastic!

Penny grizzled about 30 seconds before we reached the summit. We were all sweaty and thirsty, especially Charlie as he had carried her up in the sling.

And at the top, the air was cool and clear, and we settled in the restaurant to eat meat and potatoes.


After a brief visit to the very top, with a photo, we took the ‘Wankbahn’ gondolas back down to the bottom. Pretty but also a little sad to lose all thatprecious altitude we had climbed so quickly.

An ice-cream and a bus ride back, we ate veggie spag bol fordinner and had lots of sleep.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Blooming Bavaria



Had a restful morning while Alex, Jason and Charlie went ona short walk, then we went into Garmisch to survey the town. Did a tour of bakeries, sampling cakes, andalso found ourselves in a great toyshop.

After a mammoth grocery shop, we headed back to the cabin toplay Andrew’s new ‘Mr X’ board game and to have another relaxing evening.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Garmisch-Partenkirchen Bound



We left the amusement of the very visible showers at the Flemming Hotel early to catch our train to Innsbruck, and then to Garmisch-Partenkirchen in southern Germany, where we were renting a cabin for four nights.


Long train journeys, but refreshing to climb ever higher into the mountains after retracing our steps through Linz and Salzburg. Jason even did a quick run around Innsbruck to take some photos.

Quickly grabbed some food for a hearty healthy dinner at Lidl before we jumped in a taxi to see our cabin. Small and practical, with very low eaves even for me, we had an evening in watching athletics and relaxing.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Ahhh ... Vienna!

Had a well needed lie-in, trying to rest our confused limbs, which couldn't figure out why we were not off cycling again.

Met for a very late breakfast, another magnificent spread and our last as the bike package (with breakfast included) was now ending. Then we went out into Vienna, heading first to the big wheel to have lunch and say goodbye to Jon and Sofia. We then went to Stefansplatz. Andrew and I called in on a very good Austrian therapist, who gave incredibly good massages, to help us with our cycling aches, and so we were very chilled out as we wandered round the grand buildings of Vienna, the galleries and splendid squares, throughout the afternoon.

Then we went back to the Flemming Hotel near the West Bahnhof, where we had transferred our cases to earlier in the day. Pleasantly surprised by the food in the pub restaurant over the road, my ribs were great, and then to bed.


Saturday, 27 August 2011

Day 6: Spitz - Krems - Tulln - Vienna (62 km)

We knew this would also be a long day, and also that the heatwave was probably going to end at some point. But we stopped off in a village for our free wine samples (yay!) and also for a lunch stop in Krems. However, as Matty and Greg were not taking the Tulln-Vienna train as they wanted to cycle the whole way, they got going to make good progress.

We took a more gradual route along the Danube, but there was not so much to see, and the overcast sky seemed to be declaring the end of this section of the holiday. So we powered on to Tulln and the train station, with only the briefest and breeziest of ice-cream stops, and had a hasty panic as we got all the bikes and the trailer onto a carriage with lots of steps.


Then, arriving in Vienna, we agreed that it would be crazy to try and get all the bikes on the Vienna underground (never mind the trailer), so we cycled through a very windy Vienna city, by the graffiti strewn cycle tracks by the canal, and almost being blown off our bikes as we reached the hotel and the rain started to fall.



A relief to leave the bikes after 6 days (and lots of km) of pedalling. We all went out in the rain, seeking Sofia's sister, but as we were all getting cold and wet, we ended up diving into a very pleasant Italian for dinner.

Then back to the hotel for a couple of games of werewolf with drinks ... those with more energy went out seeking clubs and karaoke!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Day 5: Grein - Ybbs - Pochlarn - Melk - Spitz (76 kms)

Charlie and I left early to get a little cycling time together, but mainly to avoid the 38 degree heat that had been forecast. We expected people to catch us up, and it was actually very cool in the shade of the trees on the south side of the Danube.

However about 8 km away from Ybbs, Charlie ground to a halt as he realised the bolts had broken on his saddle and it had come off. Unsurprisingly, Greg and Matthew were not too far behind us (by far the best/fastest cyclists of the group), so Matty suggested someone else donating their saddle to Charlie as he had the trailer to pull, and Greg agreed ... and cycled into Ybbs with no saddle!

So, we did not make the headway we were expecting, instead we set up camp at a very hot garage while issues big and small with the bikes (oil, more air in tyres, new saddle bolt etc) were sorted.

Also the lady at our guesthouse in Grein had said that there was a ferry from Melk to Spitz, which I was quite keen on Penny and I catching to avoid the heat (and as 75km was a long way to go anyway, never mind on such an excruciatingly hot day). But unfortunately we got the times wrong and so I missed it and had to cycle along the whole way.

But it was a pleasant cycle, stopping off to see the Venus of Willendorf (of which a small replica is now proudly on our fridge) and starting to see that we were now cycling through the wine region of Wachau.


Up another hill to our hotel in Spitz, and as we pushed our bikes tiredly into the garage, we saw a very happy looking Matty in the pool at the back of the hotel. It was still early, so most of us had a plunge to get the heat off us.

I was now coming down with the cold that started with Alex, then went to Charlie, then me. Waterfalls of snot and general grumpyness with throbbing head seemed to be the theme, but fortunately it didn't get to Penny and I seemed to manage it ok.

Spent the evening doing the traditional Alex quiz, which was won by Matthew G and Jason ... lots of fun thinking of red/white EU flags and the links between the answers (like the Harry Potter theme).