Sunday, 31 October 2010

What the eye sees - the Finnish version

So. The infamous series has struck a chord elsewhere. Not to be outdone, Note from Lapland's Heather has been inspired by her adopted country and is guest posting for me today. Enjoy.

The Finns are famous for lots of things; Nokia, alcoholism, that God awful rock band Lorde...umm...that's about it I think, perhaps a list of things they are not famous for would be more fitting? And given what I found in my in-flight magazine on the plane from Finland to London the other day, fashion design could well be another thing they can add to list of things they are not famous for.

Would you care to take a guess as to how much this monstrosity would set you back? This delightful woolen jumpsuit, guaranteed to have you dying not only of chronic embarrassment but also hypothermia given there was snow on the ground in Finland when I was reading this, is so expensive the wouldn't even print the price - price on request.

This well thought out and constructed white down jacket...cough splutter choke. White down jacket? It's a duvet, any fool can see that! A duvet with a couple of poppers stuck on it so you can wrap it around you! Seriously, how long do you think it took them to make this? Perhaps is was in a bid to stop the poor model above from contracting hypothermia. Anyway, this stylish piece will set you back...go on, how much do you reckon? What does a duvet cost, 40€? Add in the cost of a few poppers and mark up for 'design'. 100€, 150€? Ha ha ha, nowhere near. 438€. Yes. I know.

You know how cute your toddler looks when they try to put their head in the sleave of your jumper when attempting to dress up in mummy's clothes? Well now you can recreated that cute look in your man! For a measly 225€ your can have all the cute of the toddler without any of the banana smeared television screens or tantrums in the supermarket.

Please, people of Finland, stick to what you are good at - drinking, playing bad accordion music and making phones. The world really isn't ready (and I doubt it ever will be) for this level of clothing innovation.


Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Now remind me: what does an office look like?

Yes, it is official. Just in case you missed the other post, I can confirm the good news.
I am officially back on the pay roll as of next Tuesday. My year of consulting as an independent business advisor has (for now) concluded and I will be taking on a new senior role back in the corporate world.


Out come the suits and shoes and bags and accessories.
The briefcase gets dusted off, the make-up essentials replenished, the nails buffed and polished.
The hair blow-dried (alas I cannot get away with my vintage swimming cap, not quite the professional look they are expecting).
Tights checked for ladders, jackets for sticky finger prints, Oyster card topped up...

Except. Hang on. I won't be taking public transport to my new office abode. I will be - horror, shock - commuting by car. OH has already taken it upon himself to purchase one on my behalf ("we'll go halves and I am named as the main driver but you pay the insurance, that's okay, isn't it?") in his enthusiasm to buy a new toy see me get out of the house be helpful. I was all too happy to opt for a new motorbike but that's a whole other story.

And do you know what my biggest concern has been the past few days, since accepting the job offer?
Not what time I will have to leave home to avoid peak hour traffic.
Not how I am going to keep on top of the never-ending pile of laundry.
Not whether I will be able to keep up with reading blogs and sending out random (and often ridiculous) tweets.

It has been whether I can find a suitable route to get to my new place of work by bike so that I can keep up with BB and WW and the training plan for our next venture.

Bonkers? Yes, probably.

Bearing in mind that in my new role I am taking over a large team made up entirely of men, I intend to lead by example. So when I say "On your bike and get cracking!", they will know I am serious.

Or possibly seriously committed. To the job, of course.

Shit - where's the sat nav?


Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Recipe for Mr Right that does not include Daniel Craig

If I were any older I would say "I don't believe it".
Any younger, I would throw a tantrum.
As it is, I can do neither as I am restricted by my wetsuit.

That woman has tagged me and told me in no uncertain terms that I cannot nominate my secret passion and be done with it.



So, I have to give her my recipe for Mr or Mrs Right. My top ten things I look for in a man or woman. She says "Think about it, this could be a golden opportunity. If you are single someone might read your post and get in touch because they tick all your boxes."

Err, hello? Last time I looked I was married. Well, either that or I have been misled for some time and have no idea who these small people are or why they keep referring to me as "Mummy".

Okay. So the male thing is pretty much done and dusted. And if you have doubts as to what I look for, feast your eyes again here.

Which leaves 'the woman'. Hmmm. Interesting. Let's put a different twist on this, yes?
The top ten things I look for in a woman (this is no guarantee of enduring friendship, you have been warned).

  1. Is capable of distinguishing left foot from right foot and putting shoes on correctly
  2. Can walk in them without falling over or resembling John Wayne recently dismounted from his horse
  3. Ability to read instructions
  4. Ability to then use knowledge gained under point 3 and apply to ridiculous gadget
  5. Ability to hand over said gadget to male counterpart with dignity and the words "I am sure you will enjoy this more than I ever could" without gritting teeth or forcing smile due to inability to comprehend what it is supposed to do in the first place
  6. Tidiness
  7. Regular employment of cleaner/housekeeper/laundry master to ensure compliance with point 6 if own skill set is lacking, or failing that a military drill that involves small children and bribes to put things back in their places
  8. Good dental hygiene
  9. Organisational skills (shopping, play dates, travel plans, after school care,  massage, cooking, financial planning, channel surfing, takeaway delivery ordering, nightwatch duties, team management, leadership by example, fitness training...)
  10. Does not snore*
  11. And one more (yes Emma, I know you said ten, but cut me some slack here, okay? Geez): a sense of humour. For further detail, see here.
So, think you have what it takes to be my NBF (next best friend)? Then grab my button if you're game and play along. In the meantime I am passing the buck to a few others, because I'm nice like that, I am.
and (drum roll please) Hot Cross Mum

Oh, and one last thing.

Daniel I will do your washing & ironing any time

* vital when sharing rooms on holidays or girls' nights out - LCM has been known to kick offenders violently at 2am who do not comply with this requirement and then deny all knowledge of bruising and/or shaven eyebrows the following morning


Saturday, 16 October 2010

Fame and fortune (albeit not mine)

Here's a thought.

Suppose you really liked one of the virtual bloggers who regularly leaves comments on your posts, sends you funny emails, eventually picks up the phone and calls, or - even better - Skypes you so you can see them in person. You feel like you truly know this individual and it is as if you had been friends forever. You share a sense of humour, a talent for writing, and a perception of reality that is laden with comedy.

Now, if this were me, I would have been running around shouting "Stalker!" soon after the Skype call.

Not so these two ladies. Despite living some distance apart (one in the US, one in Scotland), they have pulled off that amazing feat of actually writing a book together. And getting it published. In Australia, of all places. Without ever meeting in person. How mad is that?

And the end result is a highly entertaining, extremely tongue-in-cheek, look at early motherhood. A book that says exactly what you need to know in order to retain some sense of normality - I use the term loosely - after the term 'a good night's sleep' recedes forever from your memory.

Being an extremely serious blogger, I thought it only appropriate to ask some meaningful questions of the duo, ie ones that did not involve training, races or triathlons of any shape or size, in the hope that some of their fame might rub off on me. 

(Note to Gillian and Emma - cheque to the usual account, okay? And spell the amount right this time FFS, without writing 'point' or 'comma', geddit? Geez...)

LCM - ‘Sleb mummies are a pain in the arse – discuss (in 140 characters or less)*

Gillian: Well that’s the thing- if you’re a celeb Mum then you probably have nanny/au pair/personal assistant help which means you are not living in the real world. Most of us look like a big old bag of crap in those first months after having kids. We wouldn’t feel so much like a big old bag of crap if we weren’t subjected to airbrushed/personal trainerised, make upartisted and liposuctioned celeb Mums on the covers of magazines telling us how sexy they felt ten minutes after giving birth. Then again, we don’t want to mention names because we are total hypocrites and if any of those celeb mums we had in mind read our book and gave us a quote that we could stick on the back cover endorsing Cocktails at Naptime, we’d act like the fame hungry whores we really are and bite their manicured hands off.

Emma: I do rather enjoy reading about ‘sleb mums I have to say. Like I love reading their diet diary and when I read lunch: ‘lettuce, lemon juice, sometimes a bit of cottage cheese and half a pear,’ I do feel well, very sorry for them because their lives are so miserable. I mean what joy do they have in life? Excessive exercise, strict diet, having to be in movies which I have to say sounds pretty boring, having their nails and hair done every day and having to talk about whatever crappy film they are starring in. They also have to accept that unless they’re Sandra Bullock (and the less said about her homely looking husband’s fling with that tattoo model the better) you have to date only celebs with plastic smiles, permatans, nose jobs and narcissistic personality syndrome. Even if the ‘sleb mum falls off the wagon and raids the local confectionary store there’s no joy there as there will be a pap lurking outside ready to snap her stuffing Wagon Wheels down her gullet.

*(Further note here - you can see why the cheques bounce. Neither of these women can count.)

LCM - Organic home-made pureed food or off-the-shelf?

Gillian: I’m going to take the organic part of that first option and then the shelf part of the second. Why spend hours cooking and mushing carrots for your kid to spit out and screw their face up at when Mr Hipp and Mrs Cow and Gate have made it their lives’ work. In saying that with my first child I did the obligatory two months of all that mushing and fussing before I went back to work and realise it was either shop buy or die (from exhaustion).

Emma: I think I made the home made baby food once and it was a right pain so I’m afraid I’m not the posterchild for DIY pumpkin puree. Actually my kids didn’t like the off-the-shelf mush either and segued straight from breast to that finger food they throw around in restaurants that ends up in the parents’ hair.

LCM - Suggestions for enticing your other half to get up during the night to sort out kids

-          A tazer
-          A promise of something he was previously denied
-          Pretending you are dead

Emma: I don’t understand the question. The kids know that unless the house is burning down not to wake us. If they want something like having a bad dream and wanting to talk about it I just say ‘Oh go to sleep next to me we’ll talk about it in the morning.’ Luckily they forget their ‘problem’ the moment their head hits the pillow.

LCM - Is your supermarket shop quicker when you have the kids in tow or do you just abandon the trolley mid-excursion, say “Sod this for a game of soldiers”, and resort to doing it online (the shop, not the soldiers)?

Emma: Actually I don’t like to boast about this too much or I might find myself lynched by the local housewives wielding hot hair tongs but I’m actually living the feminist dream in this regard. Not only do I rarely go grocery shopping with the kids but my husband actually does 90% of it due to the fact that he told me ‘you can’t keep to a budget,’ and ‘you’ll buy anything in a pretty package.’ So that particularly nightmare is no longer my domain much to my relief. Also for those of you outside the US have you any idea what temptations lurk in US supermarkets, for example there are Starbucks actually inside the supermarket and I challenge anyone not to buy a donut and a Venti double chocolate swirl pumpkin latte on their way into the supermarket. Also there is a lot of litigation in supermarkets here, like in Whole Foods if you so much as swipe one olive from the olive bar you can find yourself banned from using the supermarket and they also take a Polaroid of you which is put in a special room that the security guards use to make sure no olive thieves or naughty housewives who once ate a cherry tomato from the salad bar ever darken the store again. Life’s too short to be scared about eating a cherry tomato so I leave the groceries to my husband.

Gillian: No I used to like to subject the public to me and my entourage. I find that if I don’t then the older women of this world are deprived of their afternoon’s entertainment in tutting and shaking their heads in disgust at the way modern mothers bring up their kids. I only like to think of my own Gran and how her hobby of openly and loudly discussing the failures of young mums in supermarkets kept that woman going for so many years. I particularly felt I was bringing a ray of sunshine to an obviously hard of hearing older lady in Asda cafe one day when she was able to give vent to her opinions about my 9 month old daughter’s physical proportions. As I handed my little pudding a big soggy chip to chew on and mash into a  pulp while I ate my lunch I was delighted when the elderly sage shouted loudly to her friend “Look, she feeds the bairn chips! Nae wonder she’s FAT!” I feel I give something back to the community when I give these ladies a different option other than minding their own bloody business. I’m a giver you see.

LCM - Tips for travelling with small children, especially on airplanes? (Mine is “Let them wander, where the hell are they going to go anyway? And payback time for other misery-gut childless fliers”)

Gillian: In all seriousness the one of my kids, the youngest, that I thought would be an absolute nightmare on a long haul flight lay down on the floor of the plane and slept for eleven hours. This gave me the opportunity to snort with derision at other families who weren’t having as much luck. However my eldest did puke all over me and his Gran when we took him to Spain when he was just a year old. But in fact this episode gave me a tactic that I would recommend for all parent globetrotters. Feed your kid something that you find normally disagrees with him. That way when he throws up, people surrounding you get up and find other seats giving you all the leg room you need for a comfortable flight. It’s a lot cheaper than paying for first class. And it is also good if you are worried about deep vein thrombosis.

Emma: We have been on dozens of long haul flights and I have been a selfish sod on as many as possible. I usually try to sit somewhere as far away from the kids as possible by swapping with someone. Why? Because they are both vomiters. Then I take a Tylenol PM (quite a hard core sleeping pill available over the counter) cover my head with a blanket and try to drown out anyone prodding me and asking “Excuse me, are you the mother? Your kid just barfed on me.” If forced to answer I just pretend I am Turkish and don’t understand.

Gillian: yes! I love Tylenol PM. I practically rattle from the stocks of them secreted about my person when I come back from the US.

LCM - How much is too much? (your call as to interpretation of question)

Gillian: Too much is when the kids outnumber the parents. You’ve got to have each one marked like in a game of netball. I speak with experience; I was one of three children. There was always one of us in “loose cannon” position. If you see that situation from the other side, you don’t make that mistake yourself later on in life.

Emma: Yeah I honestly have no idea how anyone has more kids than two. I know that I would have a huge problem remembering where they all were at any given time. I barely remember who has Brownies or ballet on what day and so the idea that you’d remember that sort of tedious information for more than two kids makes me think that mums who have many kids simply have an extra brain built in because it is literally something as difficult for me to get my head around as particle physics.

Don't miss out. Get your copy of Cocktails at Naptime here.


Thursday, 14 October 2010

This is what happens when your training partners are sadists

Remember this? And this? Of course, how could you forget?
And this? Yes, the beginning of the end of whatever decency was left.

Anyway. Brazilian Babe and I get an email through last week from the Wine Writer.
She writes (I quote, I am not making this up, promise):

"OK this might be bananas, but how about three Triathlons in three weekends...? Blenheim 5th June, Windsor 11th June, Henley 19th June.
I'd quite like to try each of these, but they just happen to be consecutive weekends next year...
OK, just ignore me if you think I'm nuts."

Her view was that she "kind of liked the idea of Tri girls, trying hard to do tri triathlons. I thought it might have some fund-raising mileage."


BB and I looked at each other. We consulted with a professional triathlete (whose wise words were "You need to have at least two weeks between competitions"). We did some calculations. We sent an avalanche of text messages amongst ourselves. We scoured the websites. We did some more calculations. We mused over calendars. We - thoughtfully - checked school half term and holiday dates. We also - even more thoughtfully - sought approval from our other halves.

End result? 

We are now all enrolled in the Windsor Triathlon on June 12th 2011.
Brilliant. Eight months of (mostly winter) training to look forward to. Rain, snow, cold, wind... mmmmm.

OMG I am going to drown, forget sense of humour failure

Oh. And did I mention that BB and WW got their way, sort of?

It is Olympic distance.



Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The name is Mum. London City Mum.

The Gallery - week whatever (been going so long now I have lost count).

And Her Maj's theme for this round is: your favourtite photo. And why.

I had to think long and hard about this one. A real tough decision. Which photo to post on the blog? So much to choose from, so many things to take into consideration, issues of privacy, revelation, identity, libel, slander...

Actually that's a load of old tosh.

Here it is. Feast your eyes girls.

Ooooohh, I say!
Most yummy indeed thankyouverymuch


And let's be honest here. You don't really need to ask "Why?", do you?

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Spanking the monkey

A friend recently said that if you have a job you hate (like stacking shelves, working the checkout, or even counting chickens whilst waiting for them to hatch), you should aim to get certain phrases into your conversation when dealing with customers to alleviate the boredom.

Her token sample was "I love to spank the monkey," or words to that effect.

Either way, it reminded me of a time in years gone by when I was at high school and three of us dared each other to insert a particular word into our discussions with our literature teacher. Easier said than done.

Firstly, the teacher was young enough and clued up enough to realise very quickly if we were sabotaging her class.
Secondly, we had to keep a straight face and continue talking as if nothing happened.
Thirdly, the word.

Now I'll be honest here. I cannot for the life of me remember what the word was - aside that we obviously found it very funny - but suffice to say that only one of us managed to complete the dare. Alas, 'twas not me.

So I thought the time was nigh to try it again. Between phone calls leading up to the next job, dropping my mobile down the loo, and recent posts with lavatorial titles, I needed something to amused myself.

Given that I talk pretty fast (and that's just in English), I thought I would get away with it.
What I forgot is that if you talk fast, people miss what you said the first time and ask you to repeat it.

More  s l o w l y.

What did I say? Oh, you know, the usual thing.
"Do you have this dress in constipation, size twelve please?"

Friday, 1 October 2010

Kevin's missing member

It was that time of the month again.
Kevin and his most ardent followers all came together.

(note to self: must re-word as that sounds like opening line for a dubious film)

There was much to catch up on as the earlier rendevous had been postponed, no thanks to TfL being on strike (again) and thus making the destination out-of-bounds for most car-less members, and one of the Kevinettes being on a (work) jolly with LCM's OH.

Incestuous, I tell you! Total floozies this lot. But in the name of good taste I will let that pass.

So. How did we fare since the last meeting? Considering that with seven ladies present we were an almost full house (the Wine Writer cried off citing children's swimming lessons, although I like to think it was triathlon fatigue finally catching up with her after whipping my arse again after the most recent event), we had a pretty abysmal combined score.
  • Number of Kevinettes who had read both books: 0
  • Number of Kevinettes who had fully read one book choice: 2
  • Number of Kevinettes who had fully read other book choice: 1
  • Number of Kevinettes who had started one book choice and then abandoned all hope: 3
  • Number of Kevinettes who had started one book choice and then drawn conclusion that Norwegians were very suicidal nation before abandoning all hope: 1
  • Number of Kevinettes who confused Norway with Japan (don't ask): 1 *cough*
  • Number of Kevinettes who said "I was wondering what on earth you were on about in that email": 1
  • Number of Kevinettes who read totally unrelated books to those chosen and finished them: 4
  • Number of Kevinettes who said "Oh yum, that looks delicious" when presented with food and forgot to talk about the nominated books altogether: 7
You get the picture.

So this time we are getting down to business. The rules have been laid out and we are serious.
At the next meeting anyone who has not read at least one of the two chosen books (they are now listed on the side bar in case you had not yet figured that one out) will be banned from Kevin. Struck off. Cast out. Forever to wander the streets of literary delights alone, unwanted, unknowing and unloved.

Right. Better hop to the book shop then. And remember my glasses while I'm at it. No slacking this time.

Yadda yadda yadda...