Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Cake Diet

The Ritz, where I went for afternoon tea on Monday.
It seems that diets whereby you alternate a protein day with a carbohydrate day or a fruit-only day are currently all the rage. I've been looking at the Dukan diet which is based on these principles - as much low fat protein as you can eat but nothing else: keep it up for a few days and you can gorge yourself on as much salad as you like. As far as I can tell as long as you keep switching from one food group to another you should be fine. Simple! here we go then. Monday I ate only food from the cake group - sones with jam and clotted cream, a tiny lemon meringue pie, a slice of orange drizzle cake, raspberry torte, chocolate gateau, some caramel thing, a cream slice... it was all going so well until I blew it though with that glass of Champagne. Damn. 

Monday, 30 January 2012

Even the dog won't look at me...

I've decided to be brave and just 'go with' the new fringe. I know you're all dying to see it so here's a pic we took in the park at the weekend: there's me in the middle, embracing the Blackadder look with Elizabethan ruff and cloak. To make matters worse we have a celebrity hairdresser here today shooting an advert - he can't look me in the eye, only in the fringe. Bloody hell. 

Friday, 27 January 2012

Bad Hair Weekend

I had plans for this weekend. I thought we could try out the new tapas bar on Newington Green this evening. Then tomorrow I was going to look at a house my sister likes the look of in Reigate.  Dinner here with Emma and Toby Saturday night and Sunday - ballet class followed by lunch in Covent Garden. As it turns out I’ll be staying in: I’ve had a fringe cut.
I said kinda like this please…
and NOT like this...
But it ended up like this...

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Crackers Ritz

I'm off to the Ritz on Monday for afternoon tea and cakes with my next door neighbour. It was meant to be a treat for her and her husband on their 60th wedding anniversary but he said he wasn't going - said it would be too fussy and over the top and he didn't want to get all dressed up. I, on the other hand am happy to get dressed up and am hoping it'll be well over the top - like these amazing pictures taken here for the Sunday Times Style Magazine - but I bet it won't be. I'll let you know.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Selective Hearing

It’s Wednesday again. John’s doing a photoshoot at the shop this afternoon and so we’re going to drop him and his gear off at Strut on Broadway Market and head on to Chimes on Silk Street to pick up the sheet music for Good Morning from Singing in the Rain for Ed’s exam. We may just have time for a swift dog walk before nipping over to Italia Conti on Goswell Road to collect Ed and drive him to his acting class. I’m just getting the whippets into their new black knitwear. I think the black, 60s style, polo-necks will look quite striking alongside the brutalist architecture of the Barbican.  I also think colorful, flowery organza looks fantastic against the thundercloud grey of the Barbican. Anything looks good in the Barbican. I love the Barbican. Anyway…   

"Come on Enzy Wenzy Woo. Up you get. Aww, come on, I know you’re all comfy wumfy by the radiator but we’re going on a lovely walkies. That’s it, put that paw in there. Well done. And this one in here. Good boy. Now where’s your collar? Do you want to wear this one today? Yes it's nice isn't it?  You go and have a little drinkie while I find the leads. Clever boy, off you go…" Grumpy is on the sofa watching Top Gear. It’s the last day of his antibiotics and he’s got his voice back.
"Mum. MUM. They can’t understand what you’re saying you know mum."
"Course they can. They understand English perfectly."
"They CAN. The other day we went into this swish new pet shop in Highgate. That’s where I got these jumpers. Well, Capri was having a lovely time. She sniffed all round the shop and she was really good while we dressed her up in various different coats. She posed for a photo, sat perfectly for treats and they made a real fuss of her saying how beautiful she was… Are you listening? She was about to have a lie down on a lovely doggy blanket when the girl in the shop said  ‘and we’ve got a state-of-the-art dog grooming parlour out the back.’ Then she realized that whippets don’t have a lot of need for a state-of-the-art grooming parlour so she added ‘maybe they could come and... have their nails clipped.’ Well, with that Capri got straight up and dragged me to the door where she stood and yelped until we left the shop then she bolted for the car.”
“That is such gas.”
"I like my new jumper Mummy"

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

these are a few of my favourite things

Can't wait to show you my favourite pic from the beautiful story that Emma shot here at the weekend. 

Monday, 23 January 2012

Parents' Evening

Joe's parents' evening always starts on a high note - the view from the 5th floor conference room where the evening is held is fantastic...

...and it always ends on a high note too - the twinkling BT Tower looks gorgeous. I just won't mention what happens in between.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Busy Bee

Yesterday evening at about 7, John, Joe, Ed and I fall though the door and all collapse onto the sofa.
I can see Brian next door in the office staring glumly at the previous day's blog entry.
"You haven't done a blog today." he says accusingly.
"I know"
"This is yesterday's blog here. I've read this one"
"I KNOW. I haven't had time. We were late this morning cos Ed couldn't find his school shoes because Phoebe was wearing them so I had to drop Joe and Phoebe at Highbury corner and then I carried on and took Ed all the way to the Barbican and when I got back here John was up but he couldn't speak, well he could just about manage to say his ****ing throat was ****ing agony AGAIN so I drove him down to that emergency doctors and waited in Morrison's car park for an hour - actually I went into Morrisons for a bit and bought some yogurts - then John texted me to say that the doctor had said he had to go to hospital but John had said he couldn't go to hospital because he had to go to work. When he finally got back to the car the doctor had given him some hench antibiotics and told him if his tonsils got any bigger they may block his windpipe and to call 999. Then I was going to drop him at work but he'd forgotten the tripod so we came back here and picked it up and then I drove him down to Broadway market. It's a good job I got the yogurts as that's the only thing he can manage to swallow. Then I drove back here and there was a text from Ed saying he'd forgotten to do his homework. He was supposed to find a painting on the internet that showed emotion and he needed it for his acting class. I told him to find that one of the woman screaming by what's 'is name and try to get it printed at school. Then I took the dogs for a walk and made a batch of scones for Romo. Then there was an email from Dave saying he couldn't balance the figures on my tax return and I had to go back through all the bank statements from 2010 with a fine toothed comb. That meant I was late getting back to the Barbican to pick Ed up for his other acting class but he was happy, turns out The Scream is his teachers favourite painting of all time. Strange. As we were driving to Angel the red fuel light came on so after I dropped him off I went to get petrol on Upper Street. Oh, and in case you wonder why there isn't a full tank its because as soon as I put the nozzle in this giant bumble bee came floating over - must be cos the weather's suddenly gone really mild - anyway, I think it was attracted to the all that bright yellow plastic on the petrol pumps but it kept bumping into me so I was trying to dodge it but I saw these two blokes in a van behind laughing so I just put about fifty quids worth in instead of the usual ninety. Then Joe called and said he was getting a migraine so I said I'd pick him up but I ran to the chemist on the way to get some of those migraine pills Kate told me about. I haven't given them to him yet tho because I couldn't read the instructions on the back of the packet they're so small and he couldn't read them either because he's got that disturbed vision thing that he gets with migraines. Then I drove down to Broadway to pick up John, then back to Angel to get Ed and here I am!"
"What's for dinner"

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

In Style

Ooo, just came across these lovely pictures of Freya Mavor in February's InStyle Magazine. Shot here by Arved Colvin-Smith.

John: "Mum. Do me a favour. Next time Freya Mavor is doing a pyjama shoot here please can you tell me."

Monday, 16 January 2012


... the most depressing day of the year.
Bright Blue Monday - Clissold Park 16 January 2012
(Photograph courtesy of John Munro)

Sunday, 15 January 2012

'Painting the floors' weekend is never my favourite. Lugging all the furniture from one room to another. Tiptoeing along the narrow margin that Brian has clearly defined with a couple of old trainers and a screw driver. He has to hoover, mop, paint and roller the two huge rooms and my job is to make sure no creature sets foot on the sticky, glossy paint until it's completely dry - at least 24 hours. Whippets do not understand the importance of strategically positioned trainers and there's a flurry of little paw-prints near the kitchen. Shit. I'm in for it.
Never mind. The weekend hasn't been all bad. There was Mimi's 9 week-old chihuahua, Baby, to play with on Friday evening. And Phoebe's new fringe is lovely!

Today my mood has been lifted by a lemon: 
not just any old lemon: a huge lemon with it's perfect, waxy leaf still firmly in place. I chose him from a whole box full of leafy Italian lemons at the fantastic new fruit and veg shop on Church Street. I have placed him on the shelf, at eye-level, where I can admire him and converse with him while making dinner. He has arrived from the Amalfi coast where he tells me it is warm and sunny and the trees are laden with fruit. Sigh...
Okay, I know you're only interested in the Chihuahua. Here you go...

Friday, 13 January 2012

A Real Chateau

There's nothing (well not much) I like more than browsing the Sifex website, bottle of wine at hand and choosing my dream chateau. It's the perfect pastime for cold January evenings. Brian's just poured me a glass of wine, the kids are all out and I've already found something I like the look of.
"Hey Brian. Look at this one!"sips wine
"Putain l'enfer!"
"Look at the staircase!" sip sip
"Putain 'lenfer!!"
"And look at that pair of stags" sip sip sip
"Putain l'enfer!!!"
"Guess how much?" sip sip "820,000 euros"
"Putain l'enfer!!!"
Text from Ed. "Was goin London Eye but shut so we went horror maze. Pick me up Mimi's pls :)"
Back to reality!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Special Delivery

Eeek! this big brown envelope must be my JLS Top of the Pops Special!! Hopefully ordering a teen mag on line has drastically readjusted my 'profile' and I won't be getting any more of those pesky "Fifty-two year-old mum of three loses 10 kilos of belly fat" pop-ups. Right, let's go somewhere private, where I'll be left in peace for five minutes while I open it. Ooo, there they all are on the cover. Squeal! Let's have a quick flick through... Blimey! they're on every page. Hey, nice one of them larking about in the beaded curtains... Ahh, there's Marvin on the red sofa balancing a cup-cake on his head - sweet but not what I'm looking for. Ha! here's Aston in the swinging chair! brilliant! Wow! this life-size poster will come in handy - I'll look at it properly later. Now, where is it? Not here, not here. Aww, don't they look lovely in their suits? Not on that page... Not on this page... What's this? "Who's your  love match? Take our test to find out which of the four fitties is for you"...  I haven't got time for that...well not now anyway. Where IS it? All these pages and pages of interviews... "Aston, do you always carry a tissue?" Aston. "No I don't, but I do carry anti-bacterial wipes." Interesting, but not what I'm looking for right now. Where the HELL is it?! Don't tell me they didn't use that shot in the end. Cute... here they are having tea, here they are having Nando's, here they are having a group hug. Bloody hell! WHERE IS IT? Yes, yes, YES!!! FOUND IT!
OMG! AMAZING! Pass me a cigarette.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

I'm out of here...

Apparently it was 12 minutes from time; he was wearing number 12; it's his 12th appearance against Leeds and his 12th goal scored against them; oh, and it's 2012. It must all mean something! It does: It means Brian and John are acting like 12 year olds because Henry has returned to Arsenal and it's like Christmas all over again in our house: Except it isn't actually. It's like a completely over-the-top, one-stop, wedding boutique, with rails and rails of ball gowns, teetering pyramids of sparkling tiaras, row upon row of satin shoes and bushels of trembling white flowers. A scene for a film is being shot here today and I am confined to our tiny basement quarters with the football fans reliving this moment again and again and again...


Monday, 9 January 2012

JLS In Our Basement

I just found this on the internet - filmed here in the summer. I've only gone and missed the Special JLS edition of Top Of The Pops Magazine which was shot here and came out in November. Damn. I've had to bid for one at a vastly inflated price on eBay. Still, it promises no less than 3 posters of the boys and 26 pages of piccies and gossip. Ooo - can't wait!  

Friday, 6 January 2012

What A Way To Go

My friend Emma sent me this link and said "Blog This... because it's brilliant"
Let's see if she's right...

Needless to say the DVD has already been ordered and dispatched from Amazon and should be here any day...
It's probably terribly un-PC and I hope that's fun-fur that the costume department have used by the acre. 
Whatever. I can't wait for it to arrive!!

New Year Style Icon no. 2  Shirley Maclaine in What A Way To Go

Thursday, 5 January 2012


We're not going to the park today. After dodging flying Christmas trees on the way to school this morning I'm not inclined to take on anything bigger. I think it's safer to stay indoors. Particularly, as despite boasting many rooms, Clissold House is unable to offer any shelter to dog walkers and their dogs, meaning the that the only option is to take refuge under a tree in the event of sudden and torrential rain.
Now, on New Year's day we went to the Heath for a walk. The day began brightly and we headed off deep into the woods. As the sky darkened and the rain started we got quite lost and ended up trudging in a big circle through the mud. We eventually found the Hampstead Gate exit, which was handy, as it's just a few steps away from the Wells Tavern. Hurrah! Not only do they offer lovely mulled wine, real fires, board games for kids and a great menu of beautifully cooked and presented food but they also welcome dogs. There were about 20 in there at the weekend. Some sleeping under tables, one or two (no names mentioned) sitting on their owners' laps, another couple neatly squashed next to children on sofas. There is NO law in this country to say that dogs are not allowed in restaurants. A couple of weeks ago the whippet walkers of Stoke Newington held a get-together at The Wells. Half a dozen whippets snoozed on the carpet while we tucked into delicious fish-cakes, home-made chips and a couple of bottles of dry Riesling. I realise that this scenario may not be everyone's cup of tea. I never really liked dogs much myself and Brian positively disliked them. It wasn't until we were forced into having them that our feelings changed and as irrational as it is, they really become part of the family. If you can't bear to be in a cafe, pub or restaurant in the company of a dog or two it's easy - there are millions of dog-free establishments. Dog owners just ask that you have a heart and don't insist on having every part of every establishment for yourselves. It's only fair.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Clissold House Cafe

You wait here with the dogs and I'll just nip inside and order a couple of coffees...

Hurry up then. It's bloody freezing here on the 'dog' terrace...

Oooo... this is impressive...


Hey, what's in here...

Lovely view of the church...

and the gardens...

That looks nice...

Oo-er... this is a bit Next Directory though... why is that mirror hovering above the fireplace?

Wow! This is amazing. What a grand room! Look at the fireplaces! The windows! It's gorgeous. I'd like to take a picture but it appears to have been designated as the breast feeding room... Better get back and check on B.

Brian. Brian! Are you OK? You wouldn't have liked it - full of screaming toddlers. Here, have a cappuccino and warm up... and stop making such a fuss.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Nice Weather for Dogs

“It was wretched weather,
stormy and wet, a vast heavy veil had been driving over London from the East” 
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

The Cafe in Clissold Park opens it doors to the public for the first time this morning after years of preparation. We saw the deliveries of scrumptious cakes, fine teas, tasty savouries and delectable desserts arriving yesterday in the sunshine. Shame... there will be only the most hardened of dog walkers in the park today braving the stormy weather... 
Maybe they'll have a change of heart on their NO DOGS policy.

Monday, 2 January 2012

New Year Role Models No.1

Last night we ignored the detritus of Christmas and New Year, switched off the lights, lit a few candles and snuggled up on the sofa with the whippets to watch all three episodes of Great Expectations on BBC iPlayer. Gillian Anderson in the role of the etherial Miss Havisham was exquisitely underplayed, bringing a fragile beauty and elegance to the tragic character.
Suddenly being completely bonkers and shuffling around a decaying old house wearing nothing but vintage evening wear doesn't seem so bad. That's lucky then...

Sunday, 1 January 2012

A Man of His Word

"Well if we really must have a dog there's absolutely no-way it's getting in the bed." Brian 2006
Resolutions.... made to be broken.