Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Am currently staying, for the first time, at the Marques de Riscal hotel in the Rioja region of Spain (see photo). More detail to follow but in the meantime, happy new year to all!

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Merry Christmas, all! I have to say that it's very hard indeed to do something for the first time on Christmas day, as it really is the day for doing the same old traditional things you do every year. I'd go as far as saying that every year I try my hardest to recreate the same old traditions, which usually involve dancing around the living room with my sis to some cheesy tunes, and then falling asleep on the sofa. But today, of course, I had to do something for the first time. So I dragged myself out of the house (I know! On Christmas day!) and had a game of football in my Mum's garden with my tiny son. A new tradition - and one where I realise that I am no longer the child. Just as well, at 35 years of age! He's clearly a star in the making as well... (although he preferred the boxes to any of his presents - see photo).

Happy Christmas to all.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Now, here was me thinking that having a baby had rendered me about as cool as Cliff Richard. Or liking The Feeling. Or putting lovehearts instead of dots above my 'i's when I write. You get my drift. But actually, I could not have been more wrong. My celebrity spot count has been vastly improved by said motherhood state. First of all was Bobby Gillespie from Primal Scream in Coram's Fields the other day, playing with his two boys (and yes, they are exactly as you'd imagine, long hair, skinny etc). Then a celebrity spot which I thought could not be topped - at George's Tuesday music group (which involves walking around in a circle and singing Grand Old Duke of York and Hokey Cokey and is the very epitome of uncool) I bumped into Julian Baratt from The Mighty Boosh, with his partner Julia Davis and their twins.

But today - the spot of all spots. The master of the spottery. DH and I went to Giraffe for lunch. Giraffe is an establishment which you can only frequent if you have a small child in tow, otherwise your head would explode. It specialises in high chairs, balloons and crayons with meals, you get my drift. But as we sat down DH whispered urgently: "One of your all-time heroes is sitting behind you!"

I almost died. Jarvis? But no - for the first time ever (drumroll) I had the pleasure of being literally 6 feet away from Brian Molko, the lead singer of Placebo. Now I know many of you will say - what? who? - but that just goes to show how cool I am, frankly. If you look at the photo, you'll see he is one of my usual types - dark, gangly, geeky. I love that man. One of my best nights ever was seeing Placebo at the Brighton Concorde II a few years back - it was the music equivalent of wanting to run away to join the circus. I just stared at them all and thought: "I can't ever do a normal job again...." (although, dear reader, of course I did).

Anyway, there he was. Looking as androgynous as ever. With partner and small son - and here was me thinking that he was gay and all - the make-up is clearly just a front! My Brandon Flowers effect kicked in of course and I was completely unable to say anything to him, which is just as well, as he got to enjoy his chicken burger in peace. Joy to the world!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

My lovely followers, let me apologise. I left for the deepest darkest Cotswolds for a week without forewarning that I would be unable to post for a week. I couldn't even get mobile phone reception for goodness' sake. And I'm off to France on Monday but will try to do my best to post from there. So many fabulous first times this week:

  • Stayed for the first time in a fabulous modernist house in the Cotswolds (see photo of our living room!). View from the living room to die for. An on-site spa with two amazing swimming pools. It's roughing it in the country, but not as you know it.

  • Swam outside (yes, outside) in the wonderful outdoor swimming pool. It was minus one degrees outside and it was just bliss.

  • Had my first ever accident with George which was my fault. Entirely. Took me days to get over it. It involved him falling onto a stone floor while I turned away for a second. I know it's a rite of passage but that doesn't make me feel better, thanks.

  • Drinking lovely English pink champagne for the first time. Yes, I know you thought you'd never see all those words together in the same sentence.

  • Going to Cotswolds Wildlife Park and being chased by a goat. Lost a shoe. It's a long story and one which my dignity could not entertain disclosing.

  • Went to Paris on my romantic one-day only date with lovely DH. We went for the first time to Le Train Bleu for lunch. I cannot recommend this restaurant enough. It sounds unpromising: a brasserie in a station. It is utterly incredible. Painted vaulted ceilings - and suddenly you're dining in the Sistine Chapel. Glamour central. Indulged in one two many 'Train Bleu' cocktails. Ever want to impress a new love? Take them here.

  • Bought three scarves over the last two days. This is from the woman whose attitude is usually "cold, what cold?" - I have a new addiction to cashmere.

And those are just the highlights. And we have found a new home to rent. Works on our current house start in January at last so prepare yourself for some 'shouted at an electrician' or 'fell out over wallpaper' first times soon... Hope I can post again before Christmas, but if not... Happy Holidays to everyone. Love to all. x

Friday, 12 December 2008

Today for the first time, I shed a tear over something on the internet. Now, those of you who are closest to me may well say that this has been coming for some time. Yes, we are talking about the same woman who had tears in her eyes at the Whitney/Tony storyline on Eastenders the other night. The same woman who used to read reports of torture without blinking an eye has officially cried at (imagine this being said in a whisper) ... a thread on Mumsnet. About Secret Santa...
Now here's a heads-up for those of you who are blissfully ignorant of what on earth that means:

  • Mumsnet is my all time favourite website ever. It carried me through pregnancy (the 'due in September 2008' thread), it deals with all my child-rearing issues (the 'Parenting' thread) and makes me laugh out loud every single day (the 'Am I Being Unreasonable?' thread)

  • It's a website for Mums, where we get together and chat. I have no idea who anyone else is, as we all have natty monikers. No of course I am not telling you mine, that would totally defeat the purpose.

  • At Christmas every year, Mumsnet organises 'Secret Santa'. You can either be the giver or the receiver. It means that Mums who have had a hard year financially can receive presents for them or their kids from fellow Mumsnetters.

  • I gave this year. For the first time. I sent a parcel off last week (it's all anonymous of course) to someone's family I had been matched with. Now I don't tell you this to make me sound like a lovely person, although of course I am.

And today I got my response on the 'thank you' thread. Here it is. "To the lovely lovely lovely person who has sent me ... today in the post, I cannot believe someone would be so kind and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. THANK YOU SO SO MUCH, you restored my faith in the human race!"

I actually cried.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

The culinary delights continue... yesterday I had my first ever ovenbottom muffin. To be more precise, a ham salad ovenbottom. Now, before you make any sarcastic (or even plain rude) comments, I know that to most people in the world, "muffins" are little cakes filled with chocolate or blueberries. There's also what Americans call "English muffins", which is just silly, because they are little round bits of bread rarely seen in England itself.
However, real muffins are apparently Lancashire Oven Bottom muffins. These are bread rolls with a blackened ring on top. These delicacies are still only available from market stalls in Lancashire. These days, they apparently also make wholemeal ones as a gesture towards healthy eating, but as you may have guessed from yesterday's entry, there's really there's no place for such healthiness in Lancashire's lard and stodge diet in my view!

Monday, 8 December 2008

Ooooh, so many first times, I don't know where to begin. I'm up in Blackburn, Lancashire. Today, I went to find lunch at a little café down the road from where I was working. The bakery/café was full of things I had never heard of. Pie and peas? Butter pie? (Butter pie?) Lancashire hot pot with oysters? All for thr princely sum of £1.13 each. Each! Genius. I went for the Lancashire hot pot with oysters and was surprised to find kidneys, yes, kidneys, amongst the oysters. I refrained from commenting.

People are really friendly, I discovered. More culinary discoveries to come...

Sunday, 7 December 2008

This weekend, for the first time, we went to the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. We got there at 10am to avoid the masses - just as well. As we left at 11.30am, it was already horribly busy. George went on a carousel which he adored and I am pleased to report that he became one of these glowing mothers, watching their tiny one beam with happiness as they go around in a little car/horse/fire engine. I don't think he'll be denied many of these rides in his life. George was also fascinated by the ice skating (mobbed) and loved the big wheel, which weirdly had one 'VIP' box, painted black. Who goes in there? Hyde Park is simply stunning at this time of year, despite being overrun by the buggy brigade(of which I am now a fully paid up member).

Tonight, I have to go to Burnley for the first time.I'll refrain from being rude until I've actually been there...

Friday, 5 December 2008

Today I found out that a friend is very seriously ill. For the first time ever, it made me think seriously about mortality. For ages, I have just put these thoughts to one side and I readily subscribe to the theory that death really is the last taboo. It's made me realise lots of very obvious things: that friends and family are the most important thing, for example, but it's also made me think about lots of less obvious things like which songs I'd like played at my funeral (I think anything by White Lies at the moment). Also for the first time ever, I think my blog entry may have not a hint of sarcasm or cynicism in it. And that really is a first!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Over the last couple of days, I have, for the first time since I started earning my own living, reigned myself in financially. Now I'm not having a moan about money, I assure you. But today I was meant to be going to the Nicole Farhi sample sale, which is a once a year thing, where I delight in buying Nicole stuff at very good prices. But today, as I headed in its direction, I felt guilt. Yes, can you believe it? I turned around and didn't go. Yesterday I refrained from spending money on a necklace I really really wanted. Credit crunch? Having a baby? Works to the house worrying me? Who knows. But miracles can happen, clearly.

Monday, 1 December 2008

We'll always have Paris...

It may not have been quite Carrie's trip to Paris for the season's finale (and I don't think I would have looked good in that stripey outfit she wears to meet Alexander's first wife - would anyone? Let's face it, it's true) but it was mine and I loved it. Lots of first times. Too many to mention. So here's a list of my favourites:

  • First time visit to L'étoile du Nord theatre, where my sister was performing in a play

  • First time visit to Les Jardins du Luxembourg (which close at 5pm - is there a war on or something?)

  • First time to the fabulous vintage shop across the road from the hotel from which was purchased my new hat: it's not real fur, right!? (see photo)

  • First visit to Indian restaurant with lots of extended members of my family (including new partners of both my parents)

  • Having a bath with George in a massive jacuzzi bath in the hotel.

My sister is an actress. I'd like to say that it's always a pleasure to see my sister in a play, but it's not actually true. True enough, she's always disconcertingly fantastic, and trust me, I'd say if this wasn't true. What's stressful is waiting beforehand - Is the play going to be awful? Will I have anything nice to say about it afterwards? Will other people like her? She's in a play about (get this) a man who is badly disfigured in a war, who has a face transplant and ends up in horror films. He dies at the end - sorry if you were going to see it, by the way. Didn't sound too promising, was brilliant. She is unrecognisable and I say that in a good way.