No Supermarket Mum

Local Mum Anna gave up supermarkets for Lent. Find out how she gets on shopping locally  and supporting local businesses in Carshalton.


Bad times

Hello people.  And goodbye, for now x

First of all, many, many apologies for being a neglectful blogger.  Sorry. I’ve had some mega shit to deal with.

First off, I was at college. Then my son became ill, really ill. He has been treated by the excellent staff at St Helier/Queen Mary’s hospitals. I won’t bore you with the details but after many months of investigation, Adam has been diagnosed with something called ‘Hemicrania Continua.’

I would suggest you google it as any explanation I could post here would only get long winded and downright boring. 

Let’s just say that my baby is in constant pain and spends his life, 24/7 screaming in agony.  Completely heart-breaking to witness and completely impossible to cure.  We are just praying that his medication kicks in soon and very grateful for all the support, love and prayers we have been given so far. Thank you.   

I have found that the lovliest, most supportive people are strangers on the internet that I have never met.  I have spent an awful lot of time crying. Because there just isn’t anything else to do.  My beautiful boy, with his beautiful blue eyes, just sobs and screams in agony. All I can do is hold him and rock him, like he was a small baby again. I kiss his head and stroke his hair in a pathetic attempt to ease his agony. Every morning he wakes up with a scream and my heart sinks, as this means it’s another day that the medicine hasn’t worked. Another day that he will sit in a stupor, holding his head and rocking, trying to alleviate the pain.

I have, however, been really good at my supermarket boycotting thang, even if I haven’t been able to write about it much.

I really set my heart on doing this very scientifically, but it sort of didn’t happen. Sorry.

But you see, I think that makes me human, makes me a Mum. I try my best to be this wonderful person, who only gives her children organic and locally sourced food without e numbers and additives and sometimes, SOMETIMES I don’t get around to doing that.

Sometimes (most times) I leave the house with good intention. I fully intend to only shop at the local greengrocer/londis. But when your  monthly budget is reduced by £200 because your husband didn’t get any overtime this month,  you probably need to get everything from Lidl, even though you really do want to get your  shopping from Rhubarb and Bramley/Wallington Farmers market. 

If your child has been admitted to the children’s ward of the local hospital you will buy a huge amount of crappy sandwiches from the vending machines at 3 am because that is the only time you can leave his bedside. If doctors tell you that they think your child has a brain tumour, you will buy buckets of wine from Morrisons. When they tell you it isn’t a brain tumour, but they don’t know WHAT it is, you will buy another bucket load of wine from Sainsburys. Then when they tell you it is a brain disorder that is incurable and he will be in constant agony for the rest of his life, you will buy another bucket of wine from the Co Op.

Despite all this (and the HUGE amount of wine purchasing) I have been REALLY good about not going to a supermarket. I decided that If I didn’t do a ‘Big shop’ I would actually save money. 

And I did. I did my fruit and veg from Carshalton Patch and Rhubarb and Bramley. Easily more change from my tenner. Then I did some sundry shopping from TFX in Wallington. I double checked my receipt against Sainsburys and it worked out about £5 cheaper.I wrote everything down and compared it to Sainsburys and Asda on google. I bought things like bog roll and breakfast cereal.  That was including things like the PIDE bread (gorgeous) and olives, which I wouldn’t buy from a supermarket. 

Like I said, this is a (temporary) goodbye. I might pop up now and again throughout the year, but won’t actually resurface until Lent next year x

I’m not doing the ‘No supermarket’ thing anymore (until next year) but I will still buy my fruit and veg from Rhubarb and Bramley and Carshalton Patch. I will still buy my milk and bread from my local londis, it was he who sold a man a ticket worth £109 million. After that, if I need anything, I will pop into my local supermarket.

Enjoy the World Cup and the Commonwealth games xx

Goodnight and God Bless xxx

Anna xx

Shop Local bargains beat supermarket bargains 

Hi guys,

Firstly, apologies for the lack of output. I have no real excuse, sorry, that’s not to say, however I have been neglecting my challenge.  

I’ve been doing ok, actually. I have still been buying wine form the Co-op though. I have to, sorry. 

Also, I have been using the cashpoint at Sainsburys in Wallington but I don’t think that counts.

Also, there has been at least three occasions when I went to buy wine and the tray of plenty has been out. ‘Tray of Plenty’ is what we call the trolley laden with cut price produce that Co-op have near the till after 7ish pm.  All fresh produce like bread, milk, meat, fruit and veg has a limited shelf life and, at the stroke of midnight, becomes inedible.

Of course this isn’t actually true, most foodstuffs are perfectly fine for human consumption past their sell-by-date but the law says you can't buy it, so the supermarkets have to slash the price and slap an orange sticker on it in a last ditch attempt to shift it before they chuck it out.

Therefore I feel justified in my few orange-stickered purchases at the Co-op.

These few tomatoes and that four pints of milk would have gone to landfill if I hadn’t bought them.  There is a movement called ‘Freeganism’.

These Freegans go skipdiving for furniture and household items (which I like) and root through dumpsters outside supermarkets for discarded food.  This, I don’t like. This I shall never do.  I am all for waste not want not, but I draw the line at scavenging through bins for food. The closest I ever came to this was when I once misplaced a £50 note in my house.  My husband and I shredded our house looking for it before we reached the inevitable conclusion one of us had chucked it in the bin.  

So, as it happens, I will root through discarded nappies, used cat litter and other household waste for 50 quid.  I will NOT do the same for a loaf of bread especially one that I could have bought for 20p a few hours earlier.

Today I went to the ‘Carshalton Patch’ the little greengrocers next to Carshalton Beeches Station.  I had a lovely chat to Mark, one of the owners.  He and his business partner, Andy are really passionate about ‘Shop Local’

Their business uses farms from as close a proximity as possible.  On the wall of the shop in a map of the area they buy from, the furthest is the Isle of Wight (tomatoes) but the nearest is Wallington (the Koulas' jams and preserves). Mark is especially proud of Koulas' Damson Jam.  Which has a carbon footprint of about half a mile.  The Damsons are grown in Wallington, the Jam is made in Wallington and is sold in their Carshalton Shop.

They also intend to become as carbon neutral as possible, which means as little waste as possible.  They supply the Sun Pub in Carshalton.  If you have eaten in the Sun, you have eaten ‘The Patch’ veggies.  

On a Saturday, Mark rings the pub to tell them what's in stock and The Sun buy about 2/3 of it they then adjust their menu accordingly.  This helps with the Sun’s seasonal menu and cuts waste at the Patch.  The shop also have a bargain bin which is an old fashioned veg cart outside the shop.  Fruit and veg which used to look a bit prettier is put out but at a much reduced price.  They also have a crate of discarded cabbage and cauliflower leaves which are offered free as rabbit food.  Any other waste is composted.

They also reuse their crates by sharing them with Sutton Community Farm, whose produce they also sell.  In my opinion, it is fabulous.  I love it.  I love the waste not want not ethos.  I love the fact that they work alongside other local businesses.  I love the fact they employ local people, including one apprentice and work experience kids. I most especially love that I get my Carshalton Mums discount….And their ‘Tray of Plenty’ is way, way prettier than the supermarkets.

Nature's finest

Hiya. Everyone ok? Just spent an evening consoling my five year old after I let her watch ‘Lambing Live.’

Oh dear…One of the lambs didn’t make it…..

But I am resolute in my decision to let her watch it.

I really, truly am a huge believer in answering a child’s question. 

If a child respects you enough to ask your opinion, I think you, as an adult, should respect them enough to tell the truth in your answer. Give or take...

It started with the mating of the herd. The really quite scary looking ram was introduced to his lovely ladies. That sheep had a look of determination on his face that scared the bejeezus out of me, even though I was looking at him through a television set, three months later. God only knows how those poor ewes felt. It's called ‘tupping’ apparently and the ram had a crayon (that is the technical term) attached to a harness round him.  After he had ‘tupped’ his women, they were marked on their back by the crayon. Each ram was colour coded, after he was, ahem, done, the farmer would spray paint a number on each ewe to establish how many sheep each ram had served.

This is as far as it goes for romance in the sheep world.

Fast forward a couple of months to tonight. Live, on BBC2, as they have done for the past few years, all the lady sheep are in the maternity ward. Their backs are colour coded by whatever ram it was that got them into this situation in the first place and their babies are spray painted with the number that they have on their sides. I have had to explain to my five year old JUST EXACTLY HOW A DADDY SHEEP GETS HIS SEED INTO A MUMMY SHEEP ffs. 

And then there are the ‘orphans’ as the lovely Kate Humble explained, they are not actually orphans. They are the unwanted 3rd triplet, or twin, from a mum who can’t cope. It didn’t help that the lambs were actually piled up in a corner of the barn, bleating, calling out for their unresponsive mothers. As Kate explained, they were waiting for ewes who give birth to stillborn lambs so they could attach the orphan lamb to the teat of a confused, bereaved mother. It’s a circle of life thing. It’s one of those really, horribly sad truths that, if you care about the welfare of the food on your plate, you need to accept. 

After I put my weeping child to bed, cuddling her toy lamb, muttering ‘I’d never leave you, even If there were three of you’ I poured myself a LARGE glass of wine and tuned onto C4. It’s Jimmy whatshisface from Jimmy’s farm. Love him. Programme is called ‘truth about food’ 

I bloody love him.

He is one of those people who explains an awful lot of facts and figures to morons like me in a clear and concise way.  Love that I can be lazy because of people like him.

Eggs, for example. You all know my view on egg production. ALL of the egg consumption in this household is from free range chooks. I have eight ex battery hens (we had six others, but Mr fox got them). I bloody love my girls. They are awesome, truly awesome. My absolute favourite thing in the world is to take a cup of tea and sit In my garden and just watch my hens.  Add to that that I get eggs from them. Perfect.

Eggs are precious. They are a completely perfect little package. As brittle as an eggshell is, if you take an egg in your hand and squeeze, you won’t be able to crush it. If you get a mini cooper car (I’ve seen it done on the telly) and place an egg under each wheel, it will be perfectly suspended by the eggs. They  won’t crack. The egg shape/oval is designed by evolution to be unbreakable. It is that perfect. The protein in eggs is outstanding. They are the perfect foodstuff (unless you are allergic). No wonder they used to be so expensive.

If you, as the programme explained, were to compare the price of an egg before the war to today, it would cost £7 for a half a dozen. SEVEN POUNDS for 6 eggs. Jesus wept.

That’s why the ‘make do and mend’ era prized the egg so much. That’s why housewives were encouraged to keep a hen in their backyard ‘to beat Hitler’. Just one, homegrown, egg could  plug the nutritional gap in rationed Britain.  Powdered egg was horrific. So it made sense to keep a chook in your yard. All the vitamins and minerals you were lacking because fresh fruit and veg were unavailable, you could give to your children by eating an egg a day. 

Then, as the programme explained, this led to battery farms. As the egg got cheaper and cheaper, people bought more and more. It also showed the battery farm process. Little fluffy chicks in crates, going round on a conveyer belt. Tipped into more crates to be shipped out to ‘farms’ . Then he explained how that the cost of grain has raised the price of chickens and eggs, therefore raising the price of egg products, like pastries, cakes, sauces and mayonnaise. 

The price of eggs has jumped by 80% in the past few years. That’s almost double. That’s because of factory farming. It has almost levelled with ‘free range’ egg prices. And, quite frankly, the chooks are happier on a free range farm.

So my plea, as always, is to be wary of what you buy. Don’t just check labels. Google stuff.  Just because something comes from a local butcher, ask where he gets his meat from. Just because the supermarket butcher has a cute outfit on (straw boater and pinstripe aprons in a supermarket aisle are NOT a sign of a good butcher btw). Just because it has a pretty  packet, don’t believe the supermarket ‘farm’ labels.

They make this shit up sometimes.

Also, my advice would stretch to not letting your child watch bloody ‘Lambing live’… It’s 10.30 at night and she’s still sobbing…

One in a million

Hello. How are you?

I want to tell you about my local shop. It is a Londis, as am sure your local shop is too.

The guy who owns and runs it is called Pino.

When I was about 12, a lifetime ago, we moved here after my Dad was demobbed from the army. My parents had absolutely no clue about where they were going, they just knew that they had to be within a 30 minute train journey into London and the schools had to be good. It’s probably why most of you decided to live here too, although you made the decision far more recently than my parents did.  

In those days it was Pino’s mum and dad who ran the local corner shop at Butter Hill. They used to have a huge German Shepherd dog. I don’t remember what he was called but I remember it hanging out the upstairs window and that Pino’s mum used to feed it oranges as a treat. That dog would do anything for a tangerine.  

When Pino got married, his parents handed over the reigns as it were. They were still there, with their huge, orange eating Alsatian but they passed the family business on to their son. He clearly had big plans for the family business. He signed up to become a ‘Happy shopper’ in the late eighties. I have many memories of getting ten pence and being able to purchase a paper bag with a smiling apple on it and putting 10 sweets into it. I remember my dad signing up to their ‘video club’. I watched Top Gun for the first time because of them.

The back door of the shop, the one that leads into the yard, was always open. There was a stool that was always occupied by either Pino’s mum or dad. Whoever it was sat on the stool, they always had that great big, stinking, orange eating German shepherd at their feet. 

Fast forward 30 years.

I now live here. Like my parents, a generation ago, when I got pregnant, we moved here from our cool and trendy part of south London because we wanted good schools and green spaces. 10 years after that we bought the house we live in now because it was closer to the primary school our kids go to, it has a huge garden and it has a local shop. The same local shop that Pino and his family have always run. A couple of years ago it was ‘under construction.’ I asked Pino’s wife what was going on. “Oh it’s his new plan to make us millionaires,” she joked. He had signed up to Londis. Last year, when I first signed up to this no supermarket malarkey I actually started to use the Butter Hill Londis as a convenience store. When I ran out of cat food or bread. Instead of running to the Co-op, I would pop into Londis. I had always assumed it would cost me more.

It never did.

The six packs of crisps are always a pound. Walkers,  Skips, Quavers. All the big brands. The milk is cheaper than the supermarkets. And a man just won 108 million pounds from there.

Yup. That bloke who has been on your telly with his missus. He bought his lucky dip from MY Londis. The same Londis where I get my lucky dip from. The same Londis where my best mate buys her fags from. 

He got his Euromillions ticket from Pino at the Butter Hill Londis. The pub car park (next to the shop) had at least four of those satellite vans that big time news crews use.

Quite a lot of persuasion to ’buy local’ dontcha think?

Not a good start…

Evening all.

Apologies. I have failed. On two of my rules.

I haven’t managed to blog four times in one week. I know that it hasn’t been a week yet but I figured out that if I posted every other day I would make that target. As I have only posted once since last Wednesday, I don’t think I’m going to reach the target….

Like I said, sorry. But I was VERY ill. I woke up on Saturday morning in agony. Actually, It was my dream (nightmare) that woke me up. I dreamt I was giving birth. It was about 4am and I had to run to the toilet. Apologies if this is WAY tmi, but it wasn’t pretty…

Still not sure if it was food poisoning or disease. Everything I ate in the preceding 24 hours someone else ate too and they are all fine. If it was Noro virus or something else just as ghastly, then everyone else in this house would have had it by now. My kids just love to spread germs.

Apart from the yuckiness, I felt like I had been thrown against a wall. Ached all over. Spent the entire day in bed, sweating and puking.

Just thought I’d share that with you.

So I didn’t get to enjoy the sunshine. I have been told it was lovely. Also, I didn’t get to Wallington Farmers’ market. Which I had intended to do and then report back to you guys. Sorry.  

The second misdemeanour was this evening.

You see I am planning Maddie’s 11th birthday party next month. As it is her last in Primary school I intend to give her the sleepover to end all sleepovers. 

But I have little money and I can’t use big name shops…

She wants a ‘Moustache’ theme. I know, it sounds odd,  but it is, apparently trendy at the moment. Moustaches are on everything.

I don’t get it.

Tesco have some lovely mugs with moustaches on and Primark have some moustached onesies (so am told, couldn’t actually find them). The cake itself is easy peasy. For her birthday last year she had a Mad Hatters tea party and the GORGEOUS cupcakes were made by Sara Somanah from Sara’s House of Cupcakes (she is a member of Carshalton Mums and LOADS of people recommend her, as do I!!) I am baffled by what to do/choose, but I told Sara what the theme was and she seems very happy to take it on !! Good luck with that….Am sure whatever she comes up with will be brilliant, it always is x 

The rest, without big chains, is impossible. Hobbycraft have got LOADS of stuff but thought I’d try the little craft shop next to ‘Jude’ on the precinct in Carshalton. Very nice lady in there but didn’t really have what I wanted. I bought some plain white cards and envelopes and my husband is now creating nine moustache themed invites. He is not happy. "Can’t you just text them?" he wailed as I gave him the cards, a moustache template and a sharpie.

So I plan to give each child a ‘bundle’ as their ‘partybag’ as you all know, I am a HUGE fan of Pinterest and there are loads of ideas for sleepovers on there. I have decided (amongst other things) to do them each a mug. And so I ended up in Sainsbury’s on The Purley Way. The mugs are only 75p each. And the moustache transfers are only £4 for 12 in hobbycraft….

Sorry x

Oh, and when I was in Sainsbury’s, I bought some wine and rabbit food.

Sorry for that too.


Lent again

Hello peeps.

I’m back…

Apologies if you have zero clue about which I am speaking.

But those of you who remember ‘No Supermarket Mum’ from last year, IT’S ME!!!

I, on a whim, for Lent last year agreed to give up supermarkets and big chain companies. It was all part of the ‘Shop Local’ ethos that was going around at the time.

I was probably drunk when I agreed to it.

But I loved it. And my blog got nearly 12,000 followers. I respectfully request that you read the last lot of blog posts, so you get a general idea what I’m going on about.

Also, please bear in mind my family are NOT EXACTLY ENCOURAGING NOR SUPPORTIVE. For example...on being told I was blogging again, my 13-year-old son said ‘What, again? You already did that.’ My 11-year-old daughter said ‘so we can’t eat nice food until Easter again?’ and my darling husband said ‘oh ffs, just don’t get chucked out of Sainsbury’s again. It was really embarrassing last time and this time you might get arrested.’

But here are my rules.

(which are entirely of my own volition and imagination)

I WILL NOT purchase any goods or services from a Supermarket or Big Chain company for the duration of Lent.

I will endeavour to use local shops/businesses for my day to day needs. Where is possible this shall also fit into my other ethics, such as organic, British, locally grown, Fairtrade etc

I shall blog at least four times a week.

I shall also venture into/enquire about local organisations/enterprises and ‘big them up’ on the blog.

I will bore the pants of you all with my smug pious nature.

I will cheat.

I really will. I already have. I don’t care (do a bit). Quite frankly, no one else stocks my wine. I spent six weeks last year trying to source a decent Sauvignon Blanc from the local range of Londis. It just doesn’t exist. I’ve tried, and I’ve failed. And I don’t care.

Also, I’m not doing a running total. That’s way too scientific and grown up for me.

Welcome and please comment here, means the world to me.

I’M BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Storm of the Century…or something

Hello. I’m back. For one night only…

Well, no, I’m actually back for good.

Because my heart has decided to be ridiculous again, I have decided that, despite how much I love doing this blog, it really does come last on my list of priorities. I have been finding it hard to get up, make pack lunches, brush AND plait hair, scream at two teenagers to get out of the house, drag my girls to school and well, just doing all the normal Mum stuff really.

Someone I have gotten to know on a forum for Mums with disabilities, who also has a heart condition, recently described it as ‘living life at high altitude’ That is pretty much the best description I have ever heard for living with my condition. Gasping for breath because your heart isn’t pumping the blood fast enough through your lungs to get enough oxygen into your bloodstream. 

So if I find keeping my babies on time for school hard, I’m sure you will forgive me for neglecting you guys xxxx

Anyhoo, how have you been? Wasn’t our summer glorious? I did find the heat hard to deal with, but I thoroughly enjoyed the sunshine. 

Except that has pretty much gone now. We are about to have ‘The storm of the Century’ Which is a big claim, considering this Century is only 13 years old…..

Because I spend all my free time on the internet and am obsessed with Twitter, I have a heightened sense of impending doom about tomorrow’s hurricane. Or whatever the Daily Mail is calling it….

Also, I watched a Drama/documentary a couple of weeks ago that had a plotline about the national grid failing and anarchy taking over. It had a lot of top tips about surviving a disaster. I learnt a lot. I am now prepared.

I have several bottles of boiled water, all frozen in bottles in my freezer. I also have several loaves of bread there too. I have a couple of packets of pasta and some tinned tomatoes in the cupboard. I have stocked up on candles and matches. The camping gas stove has been checked over and an extra canister has been bought. All our mobiles (five of them) and laptops have been charged. We have made sure there is petrol in the car (although we haven’t filled it up, jeez, that would cost over £100!!!) 

All of the animals have been taken in. The chooks are in several catboxes in the garage and the guinea pigs and the rabbit are sharing the kitchen. We tried to put them all in the same space, but, with the cats, they just went apeshit. My kitchen isn’t that big and it was near carnage until we separated all the critters. I have a new found respect for Noah.

My dear and darling husband has been made to secure the garden. To be fair, today has been lovely, weatherwise. In between a few spats of drizzle and a fierce wind, the sun has been really hot and we even had lunch outside. My obsession with the oncoming Armageddon has fallen on tolerant shoulders. But no one is taking this seriously. Except me.

But wait…What’s this? Maybe I’m not as crazy as they (my family) would have you believe!! 

Riverside Animal Rescue (in my local Beddington park) have issued a warning about wildlife and have extra staff to man the phones over the storm period. They are particularly concerned with squirrels. Apparently it is an important time for them and they are worried that their nests (dreys) will be blown out of trees. Also, juvenile birds are at risk too.If you have any worries, please contact them, 24/7,  020 8647 6230 (may be an ansaphone outside office hours, but someone will contact you asap) 

Also, the MET office have issued a storm warning. It is going to be worse than the 1987 storms. For those of you old enough to remember them, it will be bad. I remember them. We lived in Dorset at the time. I have a very vivid memory of my Mother, in her dressing gown, at 2am chasing our rabbit hutch around the garden.  

They have advised putting things like ladders and garden furniture in garages. Also they ask you to check on old and vulnerable relatives and neighbours. Nana is coming for Sunday dinner so at least we know she will be safe. We might keep her for the week. To be fair she probably thinks she is actually in the Storm of 1987.

The MET office also say that you should prepare for 2 days. AHA! So, I’m not so crazy after all!!! They say you should put your car in the garage (not sure it would fit, as this is also where they reckon my garden furniture and ladders should go. Not to mention the Ark/petting zoo in there at the moment)

They also give advice about ‘after-the-storm’ not touching downed electrical wires etc.

Anyhoo, I hope you all fare well in the ‘Storm of the Century’ and, God willing, I will be back to comment on Halloween xxxxx

So, I’ve got a project…

Actually, two or three, but I shall be focussing on the main two at the moment.

By way of explanation, I have discovered ‘Pinterest’

What do you mean you’ve never heard of it? Are you crazy?

Pinterest is, technically, a social network site, like Twitter and Facebook. But I’m not on it to make friends. Although, I have gathered LOADS of followers, I guess I’m just worth following...

Pinterest is like a virtual reality mood board. You know when you see a pair of shoes, or a some nice wallpaper and you say ‘ooh, that’s nice’  WELL, pinterest is the place to put all those whimsical ‘likes’ and store them on your phone for future reference.

I am addicted.

I am in the process of planning an ‘Un-Birthday’ for Madeleine. It will be a Mad-hatter’s tea party at the end of August, and it will be brilliant. I have used and abused Pinterest for research. I have robbed, stolen and thieved other peoples’ ideas for the party and it is going to be awesome. There will be a ’rainbow’cake, edible plant pots and and edible fish bowls. My lovely friend, Buggy Foster from Creative in Carshalton  will be coming along to do Theatrical face-painting (she is a professional make up person and has done LOADS of weddings for Carshalton Mums) and she will be copying the face painting patterns I have stolen from Pinterest to turn Maddie’s friends into ‘Queens of Hearts.’  

I have been scouring the multiple charity shops of Carshalton and Wallington for keys (for the invites) bottles (for the ‘drink me’ drinks on the day) platters (for serving up the brilliant ‘eat me’ food) and loads and loads of vintage tea cups and tea pots. Also, the Post Office in Carshalton Precinct has been SUPREME for little finishing touches (Old fashioned luggage tags for the labels ‘drinkme/eatme and multicolour tissue paper for decorations) and WAY cheaper than Hobbycraft!!!

I am starting to think that this party is more for me than Maddie. I am thoroughly enjoying planning it. I promise to post pics when has been done xxx If anyone has any ideas to add, please feel free to message me, or indeed follow me on Pinterest, I am QUEENIEMUM.

The other project I am focussing on at the mo is the trampoline.

We were VERY lucky to receive it from a friend four years ago and I have hated it ever since. 

It is a huge carbuncle in the corner of my garden. It is rusted, ugly and the safety net is nothing more than rotten threads.  It has killed the grass underneath, because no sunshine can get through and it has sent three of my children to A and E on seven occasions. I hate it.


My children love it. Even in the darkest throes of winter, my kids will run outside and bounce. My eldest is 14 and my youngest is four; all of them, equally, play on the trampoline. I would have chucked it out years ago if they weren’t so addicted to it. I was in despair about my dilemma.

Do I chuck it out and face the wrath and misery of my offspring, or do I keep it and lose a quarter  of my garden and even more trips to casualty and the scorn of the health and safety police?

Then my wonderful Pinterest came to my rescue…..

I shall sink it into the ground……

Although Pinterest says to get a mechanical digger in, I have decided to do it by hand (and shovel) It is taking a while. BUT I WILL BLOODY WELL DO IT

Like I said, I will post my progress pics. Then I will post them on Pinterest……..

Hello Stranger.

I’m back.

I start with an apology. I have no real reason for my absence. Sorry.

Things have been happening that have stopped me from blogging but all these are petty things and quite frankly, I’m just a bit lazy.

But you knew that.

The kids are fine, Rob is fine, Nana is still Nana, but she’s fine. They send their love. Macintosh is still a git. But he’s fine. He doesn’t  stray so far these days. His favourite place in the world is my bed. He strolls in at breakfast time, turns his nose up at the food bowl and wanders upstairs to my room.

I have this old-fashioned/old wives tale thing ingrained in my brain. It mainly comes from Nana. It is in regards to general cleanliness and housework. You see, there are rules. Nana (and my Mum) follow them because that is what they have always done, I follow them because it makes EXCELLENT sense in regards to allergens and not-using-chemicals etc. 

Bedding is the biggest aggravator (and carpets) of allergy induced asthma. The old school housewife dictates that a pillow (not feather) should have two pillow cases on it. A bed needs two sheets on it (I use an old cot sheet under the fitted sheet) and all bedding should be washed at 60 degrees, 90 degrees if it’s white. 60 degrees kills bugs/mites and it should be the temperature that you wash socks and pants in. Especially pants. 

They’ve had someone’s smelly bum in them all day.  I also wash my pillows and duvets every other month. Well, In reality I remember to do this twice a year.  Also, hoover your mattress. I do mine when I change the sheets. I also sprinkle some bicarbonate of soda on and leave it a few hours before I hoover it up. All of this wartime advice adds to the allergen free atmosphere Me and my Adam need to live in. 

Another common sense piece of advice is to not make your bed when it is warm. Although Nana did this because it was bad luck. I do this because your bedding needs to ‘breathe’. The warm, moist atmosphere of a just-got-out-of-bed is wonderful for breeding bedbugs, mites and bacteria.


So, when I get up I push the duvet back and let the bed air until I get back from the school run.

This is when the git-cat gets all snuggy.

I’m so grateful he chooses to spend at least 12 hours a day, albeit asleep, in our house, I leave him be. Well, it’s a bloody good excuse for not making the bed. I also leave the children’s beds unmade like this, just in case a cat wants to get comfy. That’s my story AND I STAND BY IT.

Actually, I once put the duvet over his head and made the bed around him. He didn’t budge. I’m sure he was suffocating. But he was comfy, so he didn’t move. I took pictures and posted them on twitter.

The other two cats are fine too. And the rabbits, they’re fine. And the Guinea Pigs are also fine. And the chickens are fine.

Well, the NEW chickens are fine. The old ones aren’t fine.

They’re dead.

As I posted before, I have (had) four ex-BAT chooks. We gave them a home four years ago and they loved life. They were a wonderful, funny, part of our family. But the fox thought otherwise.

My friend was stuck for childcare one Saturday and I offered to have her son as a favour. At about 9.30 am He and Sophie put their wellies on, picked up the little basket she uses for collecting eggs and skipped off to the bottom of the garden. It was adorable, they were holding hands. 

That’s when they opened the coop to find the shredded hens.

To imagine it (and believe me, whatever your brain can conjure up does not come anywhere near to the horror of what happened) I would say, think of a feather pillow. Fill it with blood, guts and bones and sprinkle it over a five metre radius.

Then let two four year olds describe it to you through tears and sobs.

Then imagine ringing your friend and apologising profusely for what her child has just witnessed. Yup, come to Auntie Anna’s house of fun!! Madness and mayhem, oh and blood guts and destruction and, I’m sure, some sort of God-awful repressed childhood memory that your therapist gets you to confront in 30 years time. It didn’t even eat them. It LITERALLY shredded them for fun. When Rob was digging the, quite substantial, grave, our neighbour next-door-but-one called across.

‘Morning, um, you digging that hole for your chickens?’ He is Italian, so please imagine this in an accent 

‘Yes, why?’

‘Um, yeah, It’s just that I got a head in my garden’

We left it for two months before we even thought about getting new chooks. Rob rebuilt the coop stronger than Fort Knox and Googled ‘is it legal to shoot a fox’ (it is btw) and contacted the lovely ladies at the BHWT which was from where we got our last lot.

They were unbelievably sympathetic. We went to their next rehoming day and got eight more beautiful girls. Imogen, Emily, Serenity, Jennifer, Flower, Tabitha, Eva and Rita. They are even more skanky looking than the last lot. But we love them.

I meant to talk about my chooks when I chaired a ‘Naturally Living’ meeting on Monday night. I just didn’t get round to it. Because of the way I live my life (Pious bitch that I am) and this blog, I was asked to lead the discussion on the first of what will become a regular meet-up. I loved it. I was VERY nervous and accidently drank a bottle of wine.

Shut up.

It’s good to be back, I’ve missed you xxxxxxx

May the 4th be with you...

Happy Star Wars day everyone!!

Childish I know, but it still makes me giggle. 

Told you we were Sci Fi geeks. We love Star Wars.

Although we wouldn’t put ‘Jedi’ as our religion on the Census (my brother did); we’re Geeks, not Morons.

We had intended having a BBQ. But it’s not as warm as we hoped it would be. Also, I am ill. Really poorly. Not flu but nearly as bad. A really rotten cold. However, because of my heart condition, and the beta blockers I take, I can’t take flu medicines, like Beechams, or any anti-congestants or sinus medication, like Sinutab. It works in a similar way to my heart medicine, so therefore counteracts it.  And that might make me die. So even though I feel like utter poo, I can’t take any cold medicines.

But I can take Co-Codamol. And Tramadol. And Nurofen.

None of these really help with my cold but they make everything a bit ‘fluffy round the edges’ and that makes everything ok.

So I forgot I was supposed to be at the Grand Opening of our new greengrocer Rhubarb and Bramley today. 

To be fair, it was mega early. 7am. Even when I’m in fine fettle that’s too early for a Saturday. As it was, I woke up at 4am, snot dripping onto my pillow. Head bursting, limbs aching and my nose was red raw and scarred from 48 hours of continuous wiping. I staggered downstairs and put on the telly.

My goodness there’s some crap on at that time in the morning.

I took some Tramadol and drifted off into wonderful oblivion…

Then I woke up at 9am. Because Kathy (My Editor and mate) had sent me a text saying that she was at the opening and understood if I couldn’t make it because I was poorly.


I hate letting people down. I have only ever let someone down once before because I slept in. And that was 20 years ago. And I had been on a three day bender. And I swore I would never do it again.

I dragged my sorry backside off the sofa and got washed and dressed. Then I staggered into Carshalton with Sophie. I’m glad I took her. I had something to lean on.

I must say that I’m glad I did. I missed the hoo-ha and MP Tom Brake and everything but I was made very welcome. And that was before I introduced myself.

Rhubarb and Custard (as I call Rhubarb and Bramley) are brilliant. The produce is supreme. The staff are adorable. Sophie managed to convince someone to let her have a ‘little orange’ (kumquat); then she managed to convince the same person to give her a chockie biscuit after she spat out said kumquat as it was bitter. Then someone gave her a cupcake and a pink flower and she was happy.

They get their produce from New Covent Garden market. They intend to do this a couple of times a week. Also, they have started up a professional friendship with Friday Street Farm, which is between us and Guildford. They have, so far, only got asparagus from them but if the customers like it (and you really should, because it is scrummy) they will get more produce from them. #ShopLocal

Also, their eggs are free range and REALLY cheep.


But, my main reason for going back there is twofold (apart from all the #ShopLocal stuff). After I left, I went to the Co-op for some milk. I passed by the veg ‘bit.’

Considering there has been no greengrocer (and therefore no competition) for a while, their produce section was, quite frankly


Rhubarb and Crumble have WAY more choice - and it’s cheaper!

Brilliant but the second part of my decision I feel is the most important bit…

When the old greengrocers closed down, I expressed my concern that older people would suffer.

My parents are ‘online’ and they are only in their mid sixties. They knew about the closing of Heritage Farm and the greengrocers because they are internet savvy. My worry was that people, even only five years older, would not be in the loop. And they would be confused. I blogged about it.

When I was in the shop (leaning against a wall in my drugged-up stupor) a quite elderly man came in. He shuffled in, relying heavily on his walking stick. He had one of those ‘string bags’ that people of a certain age have (where do you buy those from?!!!!!) and picked up one of the shopping baskets (beautiful wicker panier things) and continued shuffling round the shop.

I was (as aforementioned) propped up against the wall watching people because I was finding speaking difficult. So I was able to watch him.

I really, sincerely doubt this particular gentleman knew of the Grand Opening online. He could barely walk, let alone log-on. He is the type of person that NEEDS a local grocers. Because that is all he has ever known.

He shuffled round and then, out of nowhere, a staff member appeared. She said: "Let me take that for you," and whisked the basket from him. Then she asked what he wanted. This is the bit that breaks my heart…

"One big potato and two carrots please love"

Bless him. Walking is clearly difficult, but he has shuffled down to the town centre to buy one potato and two carrots. I’m crying whilst typing this…

She didn’t bat an eyelid.

"Of course my love. I’ll get that for you. I tell you what, seeing as it’s our open day, I’ll put in some extra carrots for you."

Then she carried the basket to the till for him.

It was another lady that rang it through the till.

"Hello, you alright? How you doing?" was her opening spiel.

He was very ‘shaky’

She came from behind the counter and lifted the basket up and the first girl said "I’ve put a few carrots through, is that ok?"

"Of course," said the till girl. "Anything else you wanted today?"

"I wouldn’t mind an apple or two," he replied. "But I can’t see them love, I just couldn’t find them."

The apples and ALL fruit is clearly visible on the left hand side of the shop but because of his fading eyesight and possibly his marbles, he had skipped by them. I expected them to point it out to him in an obvious ‘well it’s THERE’ kind of manner.

But they said…

"I’m really sorry sir, but they’re over here," she walked over to them. "Do you fancy some of these green apples? I tell you what, seeing as we didn’t make it clear, I’ll give you a couple."

Then she helped him put it all into his little string bag.

THAT is why I shall be shopping at Rhubarb and Crumble in future xxxxx


Sophie and Tim from Rhubarb and Bramley in Carshalton

Costa conscience


Long time no Blog. Sorry. Have mainly been sunbathing. Please forgive me. Actually, I don’t give a damn if you don’t forgive me, because, as afore mentioned, I HAVE BEEN SUNBATHING. Hasn’t it been wonderful?

I just wanted to pop on here and let you know about my friend. 

She has a young family. She and her husband own a Londis in London. I recently picked her brains about the ethos of Londis and whether or not it counts as a big chain/supermarket.

Apparently not.

When a corner shop decided to take on the Londis brand, it is not a franchise. If you agree to take on the Londis livery they will pay for a refurb of your shop and will pretty much let you get on with things. As long as you sell a couple of their own-brand products you can keep all the profit from everything else you sell.

When her husband decided to invest in his little shop in the Nineties he saw it as their future. They had just moved in together and marriage and babies were a long way off. But he worked hard. They both worked long and very unsociable hours. They missed out on birthday parties, weddings and New Years’ Eve parties. They didn’t consider expanding. They were very happy with their little Empire. All their blood, sweat and tears (not to mention their life savings) were wrapped up in their shop. They have a minimal pension. A bit silly in my opinion, but they were happy that their little Londis would look after them in their old age. They were also convinced it would pay them enough to put their children through University.

However, this has all changed.

A Tesco opened up down the road from them and over the past few years they have seen their income drip, drip, drip away. She recently confided in me that they have decided to move abroad. Apparently a cousin of her husband has offered him a job in America. Working as a manager in a care home that he owns.  They will be leaving by the end of this year. Taking their children to a strange country, where they know no one, to start again. To start saving again. To start making friends. To start a new dream.

She is a bit excited. But she is very scared. She has had to learn about a new tax system. She has had to learn about a new school system. A new orthodontics program. Had to search for a house to rent in a country she has never visited. 

And it breaks my heart.

Mainly for selfish reasons. Because she is a mega mate. Because I love her to bits and because I may never see her again. I can only imagine that this pain is tenfold for her family, for her mother. I can only think of myself and the bbqs and girlie nights (and the wine) that there will be an empty chair at. That my kids will only know this wonderful person through the small window of Skype.  I also know that they (her husband especially) are embarrassed about ‘failing’ in the business. 

Because, you see, this is a forced move.  This isn’t some lifelong ambition to emigrate. She hasn’t been watching repeated episodes of ‘A place in the sun’ and ‘Wanted Down Under’ (I know I have!!!) She hasn’t been dreaming of foreign climes. She wants to live here. In her house, her home. She wants her kids to go to the local school. To go to Uni. All the things they dreamed of. 

But they can’t do that. That is no longer an option for them.

The main parade on the High Street is almost certainly going to be as follows…….

Costa Coffee will take the first two units (pending) then the new Rhubarb and Bramley, then the hairdressers and then Grazie Mille. 

It has been noted, several times, that a big name brand, such as Costa, isn’t so bad, because it will bring business into the area. Also, when it was suggested (gossiped) that those two units would be a Pizza Express it would be a good thing and those of us mooting ‘Shop Local’ would eat our words and frequent the restaurant. I can only think of the other end of that parade.

To Grazie Mille.

Run by/owned by Claudio. I worry for his future. I know they have started opening late as a bistro, but I am genuinely concerned he won’t be able to compete with a HUGE chain that is very prepared to run at a loss. Costa (and other chains) charge about £3 for a latte (give or take). If five people a day choose a brand name that they have had drilled into their minds on a regular basis (It’s called ‘anchoring’ all PR/advertising companies use it) that’s £15 a day that has gone into the big brand shop. That’s £105 a week that Claudio doesn’t have. That hundred quid (or so) may be the difference between him staying open or having to shut down.

A big chain like Costa doesn’t care if you spend your pennies with them. Because they know, eventually, you will. They can run at a HUGE loss. They could run a Costa Coffee on Carshalton High street at a loss for years. Long enough to run out Claudio at Grazie Mille. Long enough to run out Roast and Ground. They play the Long Game. And they are VERY prepared to do so. And they will win. 


Unless we DON’T let it happen. If we sign the petition. (It’s doing the rounds at the mo) If we take our three quid and spend it at Grazie Mille. Or Roast and Ground. Or the new tea shop ‘The Brook’. Or the really old skool caf ‘Cafe Royal’ by the park (God bless them for their delusions of grandeur……)

Because I know, from sad and bitter experience, that IF you spend your pennies in these places, it means some small business, two doors down, will have to shut up shop. A local family will be ripped apart. A Granny won’t see her grandchildren anymore. A hardworking bloke will be shamed into admitting he has failed his family.


One of my dearest and wonderful friends will move to the other side of the planet and I may never see her again.

A journey of faith

Hello Everybody Peeps……

I’ve been gone, did you notice?

Quite flatteringly, quite a lot of you did. Lots of you have messaged, emailed and tweeted, all asking when the next blogpost would be.  

To be honest, I feel a bit of a fraud. You see, I did this because of Kathy (Editor)'s request. At the beginning of Lent she asked if anyone wanted to blog about giving up Supermarkets until Easter. I wasn’t even giving up Supermarkets. I was giving up Wine.

Stop laughing.

But Kathy’s shout-out hit a nerve. Ever since my heart packed in, seven years ago, I’ve tried to eat food as interfered with as little as possible. I started to buy ONLY organic food.  But only from Supermarkets.

I knew no better.

The cost was excruciating. And I was unbearable.

I would bore the pants off anyone who would listen (and quite a few who tried to escape) about the virtues of organic food and eco-friendly (for want of a better word) products. I can give you the names of three people who no longer speak to me. Eventually, I reached a point in my learning curve that reached a balance between my ethics and my budget. 

I started, on a friend’s recommendation, getting a veg box from Riverford. Every week Guy Watson, the owner, provides a newsletter. Over the past seven years I have laughed at, nodded at and kept every single one I received. And I have been educated. Mostly about food production in this country. I learnt about how appallingly farmers are treated in the UK. Both by the supermarkets and the Government. No wonder some of the greatest areas of deprivation in Britain are rural communities.

Supermarkets use their power to dominate farmers. They dictate the market. Especially Organic Farmers. They are completely dependent on the whim of the ‘Big 5’. If you annoy them, or your cucumbers are ever so slightly wonky, they will cast you aside and go to the next farm along. Then a whole year’s work (and income) is lost at a stroke of a buyer’s laptop.  And they will go for the cheapest, not the best quality. That is why most of the organic veg you buy in supermarkets is from abroad. I know it sounds almost childlike in its logic, but seriously, is an ‘organic’ pack of green beans from Kenya any better for you than a non-organic pack of green beans from Kent?

I don’t think so.

So I started to, gradually, re-think my ethics.

I began to realise that it wasn’t the Organic nature of Riverford that kept me as a customer (although I do REALLY love that about them) It was the localness of them (I just made that word up, I think) and the transparency. 

Like I said before, no Horsemeat in their burgers……

They are a co-operative. (Are you listening Mr Co-Op?) For the people, by the people. I love that. 

My six weeks have been fun and hard work.  Also, bloody annoying.  But I can honestly say, I’m no worse off financially. I mean, I’m broke, but no more broke than I would be any other month. I was genuinely surprised at that. I really thought it would be hundreds of pounds more each month, but it really isn’t.

The trick is (I have learnt) is to put some time and effort into it. And some maths…… 

It is exhausting. Because I only buy bread from the bakers, I need to remember by 12pm on SATURDAY that I need bread for MONDAY morning. If I run out of catfood on Friday evening, I need to run like hell to my local Londis before it shuts. The pet shop at Green Wrythe has respectable opening hours of 9-5 (ish) and Londis shuts at 8pm. 

Co-Op is open to 10, Sainsbury’s is open till 11.

So that is where they come in handy. The Supermarkets.

It’s not money. It’s not customer service. It’s not transparency. 

It is convenience. 

We need Supermarkets. Especially for….

If you need bread for pack lunches on a Sunday evening for Monday morning. If your car has broken down (my next blog post) and you can’t get to Wallington without putting your whining four-year-old into a buggy that is clearly too small for her. If you have run out of milk and the delivery isn’t until Friday. If you pick your kids up from school and pass by the Co-Op and think ‘oooh, I just need to pop in and get……’ If you’ve got a rotten cold and you’ve spent the day on the sofa and it suddenly gets to 3.30 and you realise you’ve not even thought about dinner. If you are DESPERATE for a bottle of wine and the stuff in Londis is no better than battery fluid. If it’s someone’s leaving Lunch-do at work and you completely forgot you had to bring a food contribution. If it’s Easter and you have unexpectedly had to buy extra Easter eggs for various nieces and nephews. If your teenage son is going on Army Cadet camp and you realise you don’t have the tin of boot polish that is on the kit list. If you’ve run out of cat food and your pussy cats are screaming for their dinner at 8pm. 


The last bit has reminded me of the surprising hero of my Blog.


Or Mack. Or that bloody cat.

People have actually been sending me messages about the little bugger.

I can assure you all. He is absolutely fine. He spends much more time at home now he is ‘sans Gonads’

Although, somewhere, out there, is someone who feeds him and brushes him. I’m not 100% that they are not bathing him either as he returns home each night smelling of Johnson and Johnson baby shampoo…

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ASDA Egg Hell

DAY 46

Today is the last day. I actually went into a supermarket today but it doesn’t count because everything I bought is to be used tomorrow (I am clearly making these rules up as I go along).

Also it was an emergency as there is some kind of Easter Egg shortage at the moment. It’s like that footage of Florida every time there’s a hurricane. Miles and miles of empty shelves. I have to buy two eggstra (sorry) eggs as we have a change of plan for tomorrow. The children and I are going to my Mum’s as Operation Playroom is still going on.

The Lino is still there. 

Granted it is much less but only because Rob has spent two days scraping it with a chisel. 

He is finally getting there and actually started sanding the floor today. We’ve decided to treat it with teak oil. Which is very stinky. And quite toxic. My head is killing me and, despite having all the doors and windows open, I still feel a bit woozy. So we have decided that tomorrow Rob will continue with the stinky Teak Oil and I will take the kids to my Mum’s for Easter Sunday lunch. Don’t worry, I’ll send one of the boys back every couple of hours to make sure he hasn’t passed out from the fumes. 

So tomorrow, at my Mum’s, I will be seeing a niece and a nephew I hadn’t counted on seeing and so therefore have no eggs for them.  We have a policy in our family as it is so large, that we don’t buy Christmas/Easter/Birthday presents for the children unless we see them on that actual day/occasion. It saves a fortune and the children are none the wiser. So I had to go out to buy two extra eggs. Only there are none. Anywhere. 

I ended up in Asda. What a silly, silly, thing to do.

Even before I was boycotting supermarkets, I wouldn’t have gone to Asda. On a Saturday lunchtime. 

It was hell.

Parking was mercifully easy. But this seems to be a happy coincidence, not a reflection on the store as it was just bloody awful from then on in. There were millions and millions of people. All in a bad mood. All walking toward me. That was just the foyer. The ‘loudness’ was deafening. I mean the visual ‘loudness.’ I got a bit dizzy from all the Special Offer banners.  Maybe it was from the Teak Oil.

Then the shop itself.  It was full of women slapping their children. After a few minutes it became clear why. My girls started to whine.

‘Can I have……’ it started ‘a dress, a bunny rabbit, some sweets, a dvd, some chocolate, some lego, a Peppapig towel,  a banana, some sausages, some flowers, some biscuits, a One Direction birthday cake, some Coca Cola…’ it was continuous. Everything was flashed before their little eyes, at exactly their height. My kids aren’t normally like this. They haven’t been like this since I last took them into a supermarket, last month. It was a continuous, begging whine. It was unbearable. 

Also, there were no eggs. FFS.

So tomorrow my niece and nephew will get a pound coin for their piggy banks and I will never, ever go to Asda on a Saturday afternoon again. 

DAY 44

Today is payday. Tomorrow is Good Friday. Which means I’m three days away from the end of my little experiment.  I wish I’d been more scientific about it. I wish I’d written stuff down and kept a tally. Especially of the pennies I’ve spent. I only know that I am no more broke on this payday than I was on the last. So that’s good, right?

Easter weekend has as many, if not more, traditions as Christmas. Especially in the food we eat.  And I am proud to say I’ve done my very bestest to buy it all locally. 

Tonight is a bonus night. It’s like an added extra Friday. Woohoo! My boss gave us all a crème egg today and a colleague filled the illicit sweetie cupboard with cakes. Am sure ALL of it was bought from the Morrisons at the end of the road but I didn’t buy it. So that’s ok, right? I stuffed my face. Magic.

Rob is, as we speak, cooking the last of or Giggly Pig Faggots. Nom nom nom.  As I’ve said before, the back story to ‘Giggly Pig’ is truly inspirational. The short version is that Tracey, the owner and founder, didn’t have the best start in life. She ended up in court and was lucky enough to be sent to a prison that had a farm project. Here she found her calling and genuinely thrived in looking after the pigs. They taught her about having respect for the animal. How important ‘free range’ is especially to the quality of the meat. About how important the ‘journey’ from farmyard to plate is and why high ethics in breeding, raising and slaughtering animals is essential.  After she left she leased her own land and bought some piglets. The rest, as they say, is history.

Giggly Pig (although am sure those pigs aren’t so giggly!!!) only sell their products from farmers' markets in the South East.  They are based in Essex, so that’s a little bit local.

There are no nitrates or nasty stuff in their products. As Tracey herself will assure you, no ‘white stuff’ comes out of their bacon. Their Welsh Dragon sausages are scrummy and if you are lucky enough to try one of their Hog Roasts, then you are very lucky indeed. We stock up, especially in bacon and faggots, every month at Wallington Farmers Market. 

Last month, at the Market, we got some Monkfish from the fish stall at the front of the Town Hall. We are having it tomorrow, as it is Good Friday. I intend to make curry.

Not traditional, but it IS fish. Also, Adam and I are allergic to fish, so I will make the sauce and split it between a monkfish/chicken breast curry. The chicken will be from Riverford.  As will be the lamb joint I’m cooking for Easter Sunday.

I’m going to make several cuts in the joint and stuff it with lavender (from my garden) mint and garlic. Traditionally this recipe also calls for anchovies to be shoved in too, but as stated above, we’re allergic.

Then I shall be stuffing my face with chocolate. 

Mainly stolen from my children.

We don’t give our kids Easter Eggs (only because they get so many from relatives) we get a DVD to share . But all my nieces and nephews are getting Fairtrade eggs from Oxfam and Noah’s health food store in Wallington. My Godchildren are getting hard cash, but they are teenagers, so am sure they’ll be grateful.

On Saturday we might go for a mooch round the Carshalton Patch market and on Monday The Sun pub are having an Easter egg hunt and Easter activities day. 

At least I will be able to have a glass of wine there.

DAY 41

Questions that my children have asked me (in public) recently and to which I have no answer…..

Mummy, what does Heaven smell like?

Will we be able to smell in Heaven?

What exactly IS a Nazi Biscuit?

Why has my predictive text turned into Chinese?

What does ‘Having a wank’ mean?

Why is Boris Johnson the Mayor?

When I’m in the bath and I put my hand on the side, why does it squeak?

If Prince William ran over the Queen and killed her, would they still let him be King?

If the Queen died and became a zombie, would they still let her be Queen?

Why do Mummies have big boobies, Daddies have medium boobies and I have little boobies?

Of course the correct answer to all of the above is BECAUSE IT JUST IS/DOES/I DON’T KNOW/ASKYOURFATHER/GOOGLE

It’s been one of THOSE weeks…..

Haven’t been in a Supermarket - Woohoo! Yay Me! Mainly because I’ve been out three nights this week (I know, rock n roll) and had no reason to purchase wine from a supermarket. Starting to think that this whole adventure would be WAY more easy if I wasn’t alcohol dependant. 

Sorry, that was a bit flippant. 

But seriously, look at the above list of questions, you would NEED a glass of wine to be me. 

I have used the cashpoint at the Co op. That’s ok, isn’t it? I hope so. 

I let the kitten out again. After nearly three weeks of house arrest, I couldn’t take it anymore. The poor, wretched creature.  Poor Mack. He has been moping around like a petulant teenager. Quite frankly there are enough of the human variety in this house at the moment. He has (as I have previously posted) taken to sleeping in the bathroom sink. And staring at me. He stopped meowing. Just staring. I can’t explain to you how unnerving it is to sit down to do a wee and having that ‘someone’s watching me’ feeling, then turn your head to the left and a pair of eyes being an inch away from you.

So we let him out. He has been returning at night, but he’s leaving it later and later to come back. It’s not doing my stress levels  any good. I have purchased a stock pile of Dreamies from the Pet shop at Wrythe Green just incase.

Then, of course, there is ‘Operation Playroom.’ Ugh. We’ve started, so we’ll have to finish. This Lino will be the death of me, if not the death of my Marriage. We have, for the sake of peace and harmony, decided to make a Feature of the remaining lino. 

Don’t worry, I’ll hide it with a rug or something.

Then I got an abscess in my ear. If you know me, you know I suffer terribly from these bloody things. Three years ago, just before my brother’s wedding, I got the worst one, ever. I was bridesmaid and I was terrified that my face would remain distorted from this God-awful growth in my ear canal. It had swelled so much the side of my face had grown and my ear had actually turned 90 degrees. Think of ‘Sloth’ in the Goonies and you are halfway there. I had to have the boil lanced, which was worse than childbirth. 

Then they gave me MEGA antibiotics. First and foremost you are not supposed to drink on them. As it was my brother’s wedding, I completely ignored this and was rat-arsed on one glass of wine. Apparently there is YouTube footage. Oh the shame….. Also, AHEM, and this may be WAY too much information, but my body HATES antibiotics. So I spent my brother’s wedding sitting on an inch of Canesten cream and giving a tirade of drunken  abuse to passing strangers.

As I never want it to get that bad again, I spent three days trying to make an emergency appointment at my doctors. That was really stressy.

So when lovely friend Natalie told me I needed a break and she was going to treat me to a facial, it was wonderful.

I woke up on Saturday to a blizzard. Not a nice blizzard that dumps loads of snow and we can all go sledging blizzard. Oh no, this was a minus 10 icy, cutting wind blizzard. That I had to cover my head even to go to the bottom of my garden and feed my chooks kind of blizzard. 

But it was worth it.

I spent an hour at Creative Hair, Nails and Beauty in Carshalton, being thoroughly spoilt. Just lying down in a darkened room with candles, with no small people asking me stupid questions (see above) was worth every penny. I’ve had facials before but can honestly say that this was the best. They use (mainly) Clarins products but as an independent salon, they have no loyalty to the brand and don’t sell any products. It was lovely not to get the ‘hard sell’ when I was relaxing. The facial massage went on for much, much longer than most facials and they also do a (free) hand massage as well. If not for yourself, maybe for your Mum, or a stressed out friend, it is the most brilliant present.

Creative (it’s at the end of Carshalton High street, next to Calladoodles) and they do Carshalton Mums a 10 % discount (flash your Carshalton Mums discount badge ladies!!). But, at the moment, they have a mega deal on. A £30 facial is now £20 and a £55 Hot Stone massage is reduced to £35. I know what I’ll be spending my pennies on this month.


Does anyone know what a Nazi Biscuit is? 

DAY 37

Don't get hung up on the wrong sort of clean!



You can tell I’m angry. I’m typing in capitals.

I’m watching (with my boys) ‘Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners’ The reason the boys are watching it is because they knew the children from last week’s family and are sort of hoping that someone else they know will be on tonight’s episode.  I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the programme. It is made by the same people who do the ‘Superscrimpers’ and ‘Supersize vs Superskinny’ programmes. It follows a similar theme. They get two people (or families) who are at opposite ends of a certain spectrum. Whether theyspendalot/spendthrift or are reallyfat/reallyskinny, or (in this case) are OCD.

OCD either that or they are hoarders or cleaners.

The idea is that spending a week or so with someone at the other end of an obsessive spectrum will, in some small way, make your life a bit better. This format, generally, makes for a light-hearted hour of telly, that will, hopefully, have the two parties going away and learning something from their experience.

And the whole thing makes you feel better about YOUR life. Because no matter how fat/thin or spendalot/savealot or are a slob/neatfreak, you would NEVER be THAT BAD.

Anyway, tonight’s episode has angered me. Normally they pair up two people and they have a bit of a hoo-ha and then the house gets cleaned and then they live happily ever after. Both parties come away a bit better in themselves. The ‘neatfreak’ is normally a bit disapproving but genuinely wants to help. The ‘Hoarder’ accepts they have a problem but are so mentally ill they feel comfortable in their surroundings and any disruption to that will shake their lives to the core. But they work together. And they accept each other.

Until tonight.

This prick has REALLY annoyed me.

The ‘dirty’ family are not that bad. Ok, Ok, it’s a bit bad. She is an Australian (I think) Mum of two and admits that she has never cleaned her cooker. And  she shoves stuff under her sofa. But, the overall look of the house is…well normal. Any normal household of a family with a two and four year old.

Then the freak walks in. She is, at first, apologetic for the state of her house. Explaining she would rather play with her children than clean her house (good girl!!!) The ‘cleanfreak’ then questions what she ‘does all day.’

Oh. My. God.

The Mum-of-two is genuinely upset. And he continues. He just, basically, slags her off. In her own house. Stating that her kids are at risk from the ‘dirt’ in her home and that she is a bad mum for not hoovering every day. This makes her cry even more. He then spends a week making her feel awful. Throwing out her possessions, squealing with disgust at the dust on the skirting boards, calling her a bad mother, repeatedly. He throws bleach around, making her gag.

I hope he gets run over by a bus.


Bleach is a poison. That’s why it kills germs. I LOVE bleach. But you should be very wary of using it. First and foremost (especially in this house) the main ingredient is Ammonia. Which is also the main ingredient in wee wee.  So IF you should (per chance) have cats that hate you and wee in your front room, DON’t clean it with bleach. The cats will think another cat has marked it’s territory and will re-apply it’s own wee wee.

Also ‘clean’ doesn’t smell. It doesn’t smell of anything. It certainly doesn’t smell of Febreeze. Or Glade plug-ins (both of which set off my, and my children’s, asthma) It doesn’t matter how much Cillit Bang you spray, your kitchen is probably less clean than mine.

Now I’ve drunk the wine (that the horrible man on the telly MADE me drink) I am feeling somewhat more mellow toward the twat on the programme. The closing credits seemed to agree with me. I feel better.

The thing is, I got the wine from the Co Op.

I didn’t buy it, Rob did. So that’s ok, right?


I am sorry. BUT…..

On the plus side, Rob (when purchasing illicit booze) sent me a text to say that the (and I quote) ‘Titty newspapers have been turned back to front and the crappy magazines are on the top shelf’

I feel better now!


My Wedding Anniversary

I got married eight years ago today. Because we are a bit broke at the moment we are not doing anything big. We bought a canvas print of the Shipping Forecast for the front room last month (I know, we’re geeks) and decided that that was our present to each other. Rob was working until late and only got in at 8.30 so it was pretty much like every other Tuesday evening.

Rewind to eight years ago; it was a bit different. I was a Princess.

We were lucky enough to be able to get married at St Margaret’s, Westminster Abbey and our Wedding breakfast was on the Terrace at the House of Commons. My Mum’s neighbour is a Black Cab driver and My Mum and the bridesmaids went in one Black Cab and my Dad and I went in another. 

All our guests went in a vintage routemaster bus we hired for the day. After the ceremony we went round and round Parliament square on the most beautiful Dray cart, pulled by Shire horses, from Youngs Brewery, organised by my Uncle Alec who was (at the time) a Drayman. 

All of this was accompanied by a piper from the Scots Guards, my Dad’s regiment. My flowers were perfect, they were made by Lora, who (still) owns the Roast and Ground cafe in Carshalton High Street. In those days it was a florist. But she just couldn’t compete with the Co Op. 

Although she made money on her wedding/funeral arrangements, she was always outpriced on her bouquets. In the Co Op you can grab a bunch of flowers for three quid. She just couldn’t compete with that. Her flowers were perfect. My theme was orange and purple, I had mango calla lilies and because I’m half Scottish/half English I had roses (orange) and thistles (purple). I also had purple anemones, but only because they are my Mum’s favourite flowers.

A million tourists took our picture.  A million tourists are IN our pictures.

Everyone came back to Carew Manor for the evening reception (I actually found out that you could hire it as a wedding venue from a Gay wedding website.) Then Rob and I sloped off to the Holiday Inn in Sutton for our Wedding Night. This consisted of us getting in our PJs and having a lovely cup of tea and watching telly.

Anyway, today wasn’t so glamorous.

As it was a ‘special’ day I got a cup of tea and toast in bed. Scrummy. Not quite a lie-in, because I was up by seven, but still fab. Then there was the usual screamy-shouty morning in our house.

Guess how many times I shouted ‘BRUSH YOUR TEETH!’

Then, I got interviewed for the Guardian. While I was folding washing.

A nice guy from the Sutton Guardian rang up to ask about my blog and my opinion on Local Mums' Child Eyes campaign to remove obscene publications from the eye level of children. It went well. But I think I may have come across as a mental, rabid feminist. Good. I am unapologetic about it.

Also, I had to deal with Mack. My puss. I fear he may be depressed. He is still under house arrest. He has been imprisoned since he returned a couple of weeks ago. He hates me. Until today I didn’t care, he was home and he was safe. But now he’s turned a bit weird.

He’s started sleeping in the sink in the bathroom. I may have to let him out. Be prepared for panic stricken posts on Carshalton Mums from me.

Rob cooked an excellent tea for me. Steak with veg and a homemade mustard sauce.  All from Riverford.

That’s why today was perfect xxxx



Day 30


Woke up to the strangest feeling in my bum cheeks.  Sorry, that might be WAY too much information for you. It is day two of ‘Operation Playroom’. Day one was spent trying to remove the Lino that previous occupants of my house had CEMENTED to the floor.

I sanded, chiselled and prayed to make the stuff shift. Eventually Rob put this special ‘wire brush’ thingy to the end of a drill and it worked. Sort of.

I had to squat, like you are supposed to do in pre-natal exercises, holding an industrial drill which was MEGA heavy and tried to control it with my left hand. It didn’t like being controlled, so I had to fight against it. It did work, it shifted the vinyl, but only in two millimetre sections. I lost the will to live after two hours, which is why I had to go to the shop and buy wine (see previous post)


Woke up this morning like I’d been beaten up. From the middle of my calves to the middle of my back was the most excruciating agony. It didn’t just hurt, it was like everything had seized up. It was (obviously) from squatting, holding a ten tonne drill for hours. When I sat on the loo, it hurt. Putting my bum on the loo seat was like someone had put horseshoe nails in the seat. OUCH. Then there was the noise. As I sat down I made a noise that was half shriek, half groan. Rob and the kids ran into the loo thinking I’d fallen and hurt myself.

No, I was just doing a wee. With an audience.

So I had to take Sophie to a party in this condition.

On the surface, it was like any other ‘wacky warehouse’ kindaparty. You know, the mesh netted climbing frames. A couple of slides into a ball pool, that sort of thing. Except this was the best I have ever been to. It is called ‘The Arc’ and it is in Caterham.

It is four storeys high and they have two slides. The scariest one goes from top to bottom. Soph freaked out as, although she is VERY gung-ho, it was a drop into pitch black. The party belonged to Teddy. One of her bestest mates ever. So we asked him to go up and help her down.

Nothing. Teddy shot out of the bottom of the slide. No sign of Sophie. So we asked Bailey, another of her friends, to go and help her. Bailey shot out of the slide. Still no sign of Sophie. All the mums started to shout/send encouragement to her. ‘C’mon Soph’

‘You are brave Sophie, just jump down’

‘I’ll give you a biscuit’

She just put her head against the mesh and wailed.

I had to go and get her.

We’ve all been to these things before. It’s par for the course of parenthood. But I’ve never been to one this big or intricate. Or hard to manoeuvre. I started the climb.


My aching, creaking carcass bent and shuffled and climbed to the top. The most shameful part was when a four year old pulled me through some sponge ‘gates’. By the time I reached my weeping child I was very angry. And hurting. I picked her up and threw her down the slide. The little Madam loved it.

There were no more tears.

From Sophie.

I, on the other hand, had to work my way back down a path that was meant to be climbed UP. And by small people.  Not by a 5 feet 10 overweight mum who is already aching from head to foot. Plus there was an onslaught of small people climbing up the structure. It wasn’t fun. At all.

But Sophie enjoyed it. After the whole ‘going down the slide’ incident she thoroughly enjoyed herself. I really recommend it. I know it’s not very local but the ARC is awesome.

It is in the middle of an old army garrison. It used to be the gym. But it has now been handed over to the local community.  How often do you hear of something that cool? When things like that shut down, normally land is sold to the highest bidder. In this case it was given to the person with the best idea.

And the best idea was to give it to the people.

They have comedy nights, cinema nights and are open to the public. They also do special events for adults with learning difficulties. Mostly they do LOADS of stuff for small people.They have a ‘by the people for the people’ mentality. It is truly inspirational. I would LOVE something like that in Carshalton.

Who would back me?

I thought the old Library would be a good site for something like that. But is going to be a Nursery (which is good).

Also, the birthday parties at the ARC are only £10 a head, that includes a COOKED tea and an hour in the megaplayzone. Oh, and the staff are supreme. So polite and genuinely happy to help.

Teddy had his cake made by Gail Errington of BAKED by Gail. A fellow Carshalton Mum. Speaking as someone who would always go to Asda and grab a £15  ‘hello Kitty’ cake, I would now ONLY get my cake from Gail. Completely handmade and exquisite. The woman deserves some sort of Artisan award for her creations. Also, the cake tastes FANTASTIC, you have to contact her, she is mega, am sure she would do you a deal xxxxx


Day 29

I am NOT ashamed

Sometimes, when I write these titles, I am reminded of the film ‘Babe,’ the CGI, animatronic retelling of Dick King-Smith’s ‘The Sheep Pig’.  In between ‘chapters’ three gorgeous little mice announce the title.  Making, personally speaking, the cutest moments of the film.  My favourite being ’PIG OF DESTINY’ closely followed by the three critters screeching ’Blue moon, you saw me standing alone……’


I hope you have a similar vision when reading my ‘titles.’

Only I don’t have talking mice.

I do have psychotic cats though. Mainly the littlest. Macintosh. Who needs no introduction.

As all you ‘Mack fans’ out there will know, he had his doohickeys removed last week and is still under house arrest. He hates me. I have had many, many conversations with him, explaining why he has to stay inside. He still hates me. He has been in a bad mood since last week and his return from ‘the snip.’ He has taken this bad mood out on my other two cats, Phoebe and Dolly. They, in turn, have been in a bad mood.

They have mainly expressed their foul moods by beating the crap out of Mack, glaring at me and refusing to come in the house. 

Then Phoebe took her ultimate revenge. She, clearly, blames me for bringing the kitten into the house a year ago and has been making her feelings known for a while now. Her disgust reached a pique today. She shat on my son Tom’s bed.

Not a scoop-able dry poo that you can gather up in a carrier bag, then put the sheet in the wash and sprinkle bicarb on the spot to neutralise the stain kinda poo. Oh no. This was a saved-up-for-two-days, a bit squishy and splatty kinda poo. A poo that she had to raise her arse halfway up the wall, managing to get half on the bed and half on the wallpaper kinda poo. And the bitch did it on purpose.

You see, just to add to her disgust about the kitten being kept in the house this week, I had to take my son Tom to A and E for six hours. He hit his head on Monday and got progressively worse. His speech became slow and he started to ‘list’. So I took him to Casualty. We were there for a long time.

Six hours for Phoebe cooped up with a MALE cat she hates. Six Hours for me spent with my biggest baby, fluctuating between being made to feel I was the worst mother EVER for leaving it for a day to take him to hospital, to being made to feel I was being paranoid for bringing my (very grown up) baby to Casualty for a little graze.

However, I can absolutely say we were treated brilliantly. It was a quick (three minute) drive to the hospital. We parked in the nearby sports centre Sutton Arena (which is free, not the MILLION pounds it would cost to park in the hospital car park). They are having a facelift at the mo,  so the A and E is a portacabin at the front of the hospital. The lady at reception was the same woman who has registered all four of my kids into the department. We requested our usual bed…..

We had the most loveliest doctor and student ever. We had to stay for six hours, for observation. Every 20 mins or so they popped their heads round the door to ask if we were ok.

This is why I hope we don’t lose our local hospital to government cuts.

So this and a few other things have caused me a bit of stress this week. Then it was RED NOSE DAY. Had to find four ‘red’ outfits for school.

Also, we have been sanding down the floor in our playroom.

It has been hell. Mainly because the gits who lived in our house in 1973 decided to put lino down. OH MY GOD. It has taken a day to clear two planks of vinyl-coated wood. I actually think it would be less hassle to create a Time Machine and go back to the seventies and punch them in the head than has been to take this stuff off the floor.

Also, WORK, been proper stress.

So tonight, while googling ‘vinyl lino floor removal’ I decided I needed WINE. So I went, in my PJs and coat to a supermarket in Carshalton at 9pm. I had had ENOUGH.

I am sorry if I’ve disappointed you. I’m not sorry I’ve done it. I feel fabulous. Mostly because I’ve drunk some wine.

Please forgive me xxxxx

Day 25

Mothers' Day and porn in my way

Have had AWESOME day.  Mainly spent doing nothing. Which, as a Mum of four, is the greatest gift in the world. Woke up to my beautiful Sophie lying on top of me doing that shouty-whisper thing kids do.

‘Wake up Mummy,’ she shouted/whispered. ‘It’s time for your surprise!’

This was at 5.30am. I don’t care if the surprise is good or bad, I don’t want it at that time in the morning. Rob, bless him, sort of grunted ‘go back to bed Soph.’  Then I hissed ‘It’s bloody Mothers’ day, YOU can get up with her.’ So he did. He groaned and moaned (and creaked a bit) and sat upright in bed. Sophie climbed on his back and he staggered downstairs with her. I have a vague recollection of hearing the telly being switched on downstairs, then I drifted into blissful, perfect sleep, the type of sleep that can only be given by a lie-in. I love falling asleep, sleep is the most precious commodity to me. But that rare and treasured creature, the lie-in, is the most precious of all. That and a cup of tea in bed and I’m a happy girl.

I got both a lie-in and then a cuppa today. Hurrah!!! The day can only get better…and it did. As I posted previously, my girls went to Emily’s All Occasions yesterday and made me and my Mum a bouquet. They are gorgeous. Sort of. The quality of the flowers and the tin bucket they came in were well worth the tenner alone. Added to that the joyous hour they spent with Emily and the fact that they created their own little works of art, she REALLY needs to put her prices up. Get in quick, before she realises and does so…A couple of other ‘Carshalton Mums’ have posted their offspring’s creations on our FB group and well, let’s just say Paula Pryke hasn’t got anything to worry about with my girls.

Then I got my GLORIOUS breakfast in bed. Eggs laid by my chooks (they’ve stopped their tantrum and started to lay again!), ketchup made by my own fair hands, toast from the Baker in Carshalton and bacon from Giggly Pig.  Simply just Perfection. I unwrapped my three pressies. Two from Calladoodles from my gift list!!! (Told you it worked!! Have you signed up yet?)  The mega ‘L O V E’ mug and a simply gorgeous pewter heart pendant with a turquoise cord. It is a bizarre and lovely feeling, unwrapping a surprise gift that you already know you love!!!!!!!  I thoroughly recommend it.

My third gift was a bottle of my favourite wine. It is nearly £12 a bottle, so I only buy it on high days and holidays. Yummy scrummy. However, I know you can only buy it from Sainsbury’s. Am sure you will all forgive my husband. I know I did…

At Church I got four lovely primrose plants (one from each child) as did my Mum.  Then we went for a mooch around Woodcote Nurseries. I’m not sure how Woodcote sits with my ‘No Supermarket’ ethics. Yes, they are an independent and local company. BUT, they are huge. They do employ LOADS of local people (especially teenagers). They do suck up lots of trade from other local nurseries and because they are so huge can out-price the lot.  I think I do class them as ‘non-supermarket’ even though they are huge. If you disagree, please let me know xxxx.

I LOVE their butcher. They actually hang the meat where you can see it. Pig heads and everything. They have liver and hearts and kidneys on display. Also rose veal. As an ethical person (ish) I can say that rose veal is ok. The male calves of dairy cattle are normally slaughtered and discarded because of the public’s squeamishness toward veal. In the olden days, a veal calf was locked in a barbaric crate and never saw daylight. Nowadays, thanks to foot and mouth/BSE Britain has the highest meat welfare standards in the world. Male calves spend time with their mothers and suckle at the teat, not from a machine. They walk with the herd, if only for a few short weeks. Then they are sent to slaughter. This may seem cruel, but they would have been slaughtered anyway, as a by-product of the dairy farming process. It is only in the past few years that it has become normal farming procedure to not waste male calves. Subsequently,  rose veal is of a very high ethical/welfare standard and I thoroughly recommend buying it (from an ethical butcher).

After a very nice (but hugely overpriced) cream tea we came home and Rob cooked us a fandabidozy faggot and celeriac mash dinner. Celeriac from Riverford and Faggotts by Giggly Pig.

Then Rob bathed the girls AND WASHED THEIR HAIR. Both have very long, curly hair and is a nightmare to wash/comb, to have someone else do it is worth a million pounds. Then he put them to bed and read them a story. Worth another million pounds.

After their bath, my boys came downstairs and watched ‘Call the Midwife’ with me while Rob put the girls to bed. Am not sure if you watch it. I LOVE IT. In tonight’s episode, Jenny, the main protagonist, had her ex boyfriend visit. She had the chance to marry him a couple of series ago but didn’t because it meant she would have had to give up the job she loved.

My boys just didn’t get that. I tried to explain that as this was set in the 1950’s and when a woman got married, she wouldn’t be able to work. She was expected just to have children and keep the house ‘nice’. They were baffled. I did my best to explain but I was baffled too. I fear that I have raised a couple of feminists.

And I am proud of that.

My boys, who are teenagers, have only gleaned by osmosis my left-wing, liberal, feminist, open-minded views. I have, by happy accident, taught them to respect women as equals. I have taught them, by accident, that a woman’s body is her own and that they should respect that. I have, by example, shown them that a happily married woman is one who has married a man who treats her as his confidant, his equal, his spouse. Any respect a wife has for her husband is because she is treated with equal respect by a good man. And I hope my boys can find those women one day.

We have many gay friends and my kids don’t know any difference between gay people and straight people. People are people. Trying to explain to my kids about the legislation with equal marriage going through at the moment is hard. Because they don’t understand why gay people can’t be married. In their confusion, I feel a bit proud. I hope I’ve raised a couple of politicians.

Anyhoo, PAGE 3...

As we were watching ‘Call the midwife’ and I was explaining the ‘belonging to your husband’ thing. And respecting yourself as a woman. I used the example of ‘what if it was one of your sisters?’

They both said, almost in unison, ‘like the ladies with their boobs out.’

You see, over the past few weeks, I’ve been pointing out various images in the newspapers on show to my kids. I have tried to explain to my boys that these women are someone’s mother, daughter. Someone’s sister. Like their sisters.

I have nothing personal against ‘Page 3.’ If you want to show your la-la’s to the world (and you look good) then good luck to you. I feel sad that you feel the need to do it but I am not personally offended.  Just don’t flash your tits to my kids.

I, as a mother, take absolute control over the censorship of my children’s lives. I have parental control locks on my digital box and my laptop/modem. I have slight control over my kids' mobile phones. But not much. I make up for this by explaining what is right and wrong and hoping it sinks in to their little heads. I’m not stupid. I know that my boys (especially) will be targeted by porn. I can only hope that what we have taught them will make them ignore it. I appreciate this is a losing battle.

But what I DON’T accept is porn aimed at my babies. I mean that, my babies. In their buggy. At their eye level. Mainly at supermarket checkouts. I think of the Co-Op as a higher-ethics  supermarket, but I am VERY disappointed with them. Daily Sport, The Sun, The Star are the obvious targets. Followed by Loaded, Nuts etc. Again, obvious. They have girls galore, with their boobs out, butt cracks shoved in your face, bent over, always submissive etc etc. Those are the obvious ones. 

The not-so-obvious are the ‘womens mags’. My girls can read. They can read the STOOPID headlines on these magazines. ‘I love him and he hits me and I just keep going back to him’ is one that REALLY pisses me off and occurs regularly. Another, favourite, theme is ‘My boyfriend dumped me and then I lost four stone and he took me back.' Uggh. I hope my kids, and your kids, can rise above all of this.

Like I said, I’ve nothing personally against Page 3. But it’s the NON sexuality that upsets me. A women, bare breasted in a daily paper. With a dead-behind-the-eyes smile. The non-sexuality of it. It’s like ‘here’s a pair of tits’ no name or persona to the lady they’re attached to. Again, go about your business, I’m not fussed. Just don’t show it to my children.

If you are similarly aggrieved, then complain. There is a place for this filth and it isn’t at the eye level of my baby in it’s buggy. This crap is going on in a supermarket near you.

It’s up to you. xxxx

No More Page 3


Day 23
Hoovered thought it? Chemicals are bad...

So far my Mother’s Day weekend has been good. Really good. Mainly because I got to give the house a really good hoovering.  I’ll explain why that isn’t a bad thing in a minute.

Am sitting here, typing this doing my two most favourite things. Drinking wine and listening to the Craig Charles Funk and Soul evening on BBC6 music. My favourite way to spend a Saturday evening. Mr Charles has had quite a mellow evening tonight. Now playing ‘Georgia on my mind’.  Lovely. I often Tweet  the show and my Tweets are often read out and retweeted. Anyone who knows me well, knows my weakness for Northern Soul. Mr Charles doesn’t do exclusive Northern Soul, but he does play an awful lot of stuff from Wigan. And that just makes for the perfect lazy Saturday evening.

It has been known that we, as a family, have taken rugs and blankets outside on a clear, crisp March evening and sparked up the firepit on the patio. We’ve bundled the kids up in their jimjams and coats and sleeping bags and blankets and tuned into BBC6 MUSIC and had an awesome night stargazing and drinking hot chocolate.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

Today wasn’t THAT good, but it was good. Rob took the girls to their appointment at Emily’s All Occasions and they had a blast. He got there at midday and Madeleine and Sophie went, with two other little girls, to the backroom for their one hour flower arranging class. Sadly, Rob didn’t make use of the coffee facilities at Emily’s, because he went two doors down to the café and had a fry-up and read his paper. It was more like 50 minutes, but still worth every penny of the £20 as he was baby-free and got two excellent flower arrangements in tin buckets with decoration. One for me, one for my Mum. Bargain.

I would like to tell you how beautiful they are, but I haven’t seen them yet as it is a surprise. Obviously.  But Rob was very impressed, especially with Emily and her staff who entertained the girls brilliantly for (nearly) an hour. When I said she would be doing the same thing for Easter, he said he would definitely take the girls back. High praise indeed.

He also took them to Calladoodles to pick my pressie from my gift list. He was in there for ages. Sophie spent the entire time trying to convince him I wanted one of the patchwork owls (did I mention she loves owls?) As before, I have no idea what I got (yet) but I know it will be good because I picked it already. Rob was grateful and said that the Lady was very helpful. He also said that she mentioned that very few people had taken up the ‘gift list’ service.


It is simple, genius and painless. And you will get a good present. One that you KNOW you like. On your birthday/Christmas you WON’T have to do the

‘It’s what I’ve always wanted, have you kept the receipt?’ face

After all that he went to Wallington Farmers Market. Mainly to kill time, but also to go to the Giggly Pig stall. As a family, we LOVE Giggly Pig. I won’t go into too much detail as I hope to interview Tracey, the owner, for a future blog post. But in short, she is truly inspirational. And her bacon is the best in the world. I would fight to the death to proclaim that.

Giggly Pig is (sort of) local (Essex) but Tracey and her team travel all over the South East selling their pork. Mainly Farmers Markets. And when I say ‘their Pork’ I mean they breed the pigs on their farm, raise them free range with high ethics, send them to slaughter locally and prepare/package the meat themselves.  No nastiness is added to the meat and you can be assured that nothing untoward nor unnecessary is added to the product. As Tracey herself has told me, ‘You fry that bacon and I can assure you no white stuff will come out.’ No nitrates in this bacon. Or horsemeat in the mince/sausages/faggots.

So my lovely Husband bought me some bacon for my ‘Mothers-day-fry-up’ and a packet of Faggots for my ‘Mothers-day-Sunday-Lunch.’ I am drooling in anticipation.

As I said at the start, this has been a good day. Because of all of the above. Because Rob and the girls were out of the house for nearly three hours and I got to hoover. Doesn’t that sound sad? Let me explain……

One of the reasons why I love Noah’s Health food shop on Stafford Road is because of their cleaning products. They do several types of ‘non chemical’ stuff. Ecover, Method and several lesser well known brands. It gives someone like me a choice.

Most (nearly all) supermarkets do eco-friendly products. Usually Ecover or Method. Which is good, but I find some of the Ecover products useless and some of the Method products too pricey for their task. I want to go into a shop and have a range of stuff to choose from. Like you do in a supermarket for ‘normal’ cleaning products. I want them to be on ‘Special Offer.’ I want ‘buy one get one free’ but for eco brands. Non allergenic mainly.

You see, I am allergic to LOADS of stuff. More importantly, my Adam is too.

In looks, he is his Daddy’s boy. He is very definitely a ‘Matthews’ and he is beautiful. All he has inherited from me is my height and my allergies. He is severely asthmatic. It can be triggered by many things, mostly by what he eats (fish, tomatoes and avocadoes are a no-go) but also, animals and chemicals.

As you may have gathered, we love animals. We had resigned ourselves to becoming an animal-free family, because of Adam. If you had a cat, no matter how clean your house was, we just couldn’t visit. Just walking through the door would set my baby’s asthma off so badly we would spend the night in A&E.

Aged 6 months, Adam contracted bronchiolitis. A horrible and deadly disease, which I had never heard of. I was told that it kills more babies than meningitis, cancer and cot death, but I had never heard of it. All I knew was that my beautiful and perfect baby couldn’t breathe. His face was terrified, but he desperately tried to smile. The little bit of skin between the bottom of his ribcage and his podgy belly was rapidly being sucked in and out. In an effort to get air he stopped crying and spat his dummy out. His sparkly blue, perfect eyes still sparkled, but there was no life in him. In St Helier Hospital, they warned us how bad this was. We were stunned and gobsmacked and confused. They told us about blood sats. It’s that little clip they put on your child’s finger/toe that glows red. 100% oxygen is what you aim for.  95-98% is normal. 70-80% is an asthma attack.

Adam was at 60%.

Then it dropped further. He had the most perfect ruby red lips normally. But they had no colour. And the surrounding skin was blue. He reminded me of a goldfish out of water. Gasping  desperately for breath. The oxygen and nebulizers were keeping him stable but they weren’t making him better. Bronchiolitis is caused by something called RSV. Most people are what they call RSV+ but we get a bit of a snotty cold type thing. Then we go about our business. Some babies (under two) just can’t cope with it. They don’t know why. Because it is a virus, antibiotics don’t work. You just have to hope and pray and put the life of your baby in the hands of the brilliant staff at St Helier/Queen Mary’s.

After a couple of days the senior doctor came and spoke to us. The weird thing is, I don’t remember his name. I remember everything else, his clothes, his appearance, everything. But not his name. Also, I remember that he was Mr and not a Dr. So he must have been important. That has always bothered me. You train all those years to become a doctor. Then you study/get a good reputation and they take the ’Dr’ away from you. Anyhoo…..

The Mr told us that Adam was just not responding well to anything they had thrown at him. And they had tried everything. He wanted to warn us that the next step wasn’t nice. You see (he explained) the thing is with babies that small and asthma/breathing problems is that isn’t what kills the (this was the first time someone had mentioned he might die) it was their little hearts that gave out. What he would like to do is put him in an induced coma-state and wire him up to a machine to breathe for him. To give his heart and body a chance to recover. Thankfully that never happened. Adam got better.

But he has had breathing problems ever since.

When I became ill with my heart a few years ago I went on an ‘Eco-kick’ mainly because of advice from the British Heart foundation. I cut out all chemicals. Surprisingly and pleasantly so, my migranes almost stopped (still get one or two a year) and then we noticed that Adam wasn’t getting any more asthma attacks.

When he was a toddler we went to my Goddaughter’s birthday party. I was a bit worried because they had cats but as the party was in the garden we went. One of their cats had just had kittens. They had built a box on their patio for her to give birth in and the cute kittens were in there.  Adam, unbeknownst to us, had climbed into the box and was snuggling the kittens. He was so happy. We always dragged him away from cute fluffy things for fear of ending up in Casualty again. He was fine. No wheezing or anything, so we decided to give one of the kittens a home. Phoebe came to live with us and we have never had a problem in the nine years since we’ve had her.

You see, if a person is allergic to cats, it’s not the cat they are allergic to. It is their spit. The cat licks themselves and their fur, or dander, goes off into the atmosphere. As long as you hoover, constantly, you shall be fine. So I hoover every day and every day is another day my (12 year old) baby is not in hospital.

The nearly three hours I had today to hoover were fab. I felt like I had done something worthwhile and had spent my day productively.

Also, the chemicals. I don’t use them much and that’s why I like Noah’s. Their products don’t set off my/my boy’s asthma.



Seeing as this bloody cat has got his own fan club, thought I’d update you. He is fine. He is not happy, but he is fine. His Cone-of-shame has been removed and he is eating and drinking. He is very put out that he has to poo in the litter tray and not in Next Door’s garden and rewarded me with a turd the size of Mount  Fuji. He spends most of the day locked up in his cat box because he is too quick to grab when the back door is opened. But he is coming round to all this and has stopped glaring at me and actually purred today when I tickled his chin. He will learn to love living at our house...

Day 22
Wandering in the Wilderness

I took a parcel in for next door Yesterday. It sat on the side, not a very interesting parcel, as parcels go. From Amazon, about the size of a video tape. She knocked on the door later that day and we chatted a bit. I gave her the parcel and happened to mention if she had seen my missing cat.

She hadn't.

She said that she had, in the past seen him coming out of several different houses early in the morning (she is a cleaner and leaves for work VERY early). He is, apparently, '6 Dinner Sid.'

It is the longest conversation I have had with her in seven years.

Did you see the sunshine on Tuesday? Wasn't it GLORIOUS? I took Sophie over to Wilderness Island on Mill Lane, mainly to go Cat-Hunting, but also to enjoy a Local and FREE activity. 

It was lovely, we didn't see another soul, which made me a bit sad, because if it is underused I fear it may get built upon. It's like a mini ecology centre. It is a great dog-walking zone (please scoop the poop) and awesome for bird watching, pond skimming and bug hunting. 

Like the Ecology Centre you are asked not to remove any critters from the site, but are welcome to put stuff into a jar, observe and release back into the wild. Walking with Soph (we took the long way round, about half a mile) in the wonderful sunshine was truly glorious. It's not so good for buggies, unless you have an all-terrain type, definitely not good for double buggies. Go and visit, you will enjoy it.

So Sophie and I were walking around, looking at the flora and fauna (did you ever wonder where those green parakeets that are swarming all over SW London roosted? WILDERNESS ISLAND, thousands of them). Shaking our packets of Dreamies (see previous posts) shouting out Macintosh's name. Sophie was shouting into log piles and bushes and thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon. Then she dumped the entire packet of Dreamies on the floor. 

I remembered that my friend Nikki had recommended the Pet Shop at Green Wrythe, it wasn't too far so we wandered down Strawberry Lane to the Green and had a mooch round the pet shop.

The lady in there was lovely, really lovely. She gave loads of advice on Cat-Hunting and websites to post his picture on. I bought more cat treats and did a quick check on her prices. She is definitely the same as Pets at Home, if not, cheaper. The straw/sawdust is much cheaper.

So Sophie and I went home. My legs are still killing me. The stupid thing is, it really isn't that far. My Nana and my Mum wouldn't have batted an eyelid if they, at the age of 37, had to walk this far. Starting to realise how much supermarket car parks mean to me.

Someone on the ‘Carshalton Mums’ Facebook group had reposted a notice from the florist on Stanley Park Road (right next to the school/surestart centre) So I trudged up there.

The florist is called ‘Emily’s All Occasions.’ It is first and foremost a florist, but she also does coffees. Genius.

You sit and have a latte while picking your bouquet. It’s brilliant. And simple. Then she had the even more genius idea of her bouquet classes.

For the ridiculously cheap price of £10, your other half can take your children into the shop (you must pre-book) and your little cherub has a whole hour of tuition in flower arranging. Emily and her daughter will take your child (no more than four to a group) and teach them how to make a flower arrangement for Mummy and your significant other will get to sit with a coffee for an hour. Brilliant.

Rob is taking the two smallest people I gave birth to. Emily is lovely and she has two adorable dogs that Sophie tried to kidnap. If there is enough interest she will run the same thing for Easter. Her number is 020 8773 0843.

Anyhoo, my cat, Macintosh.

After a week of being missing (eight days actually) we had a knock on the door on Wednesday morning.

A very loud ‘BANG BANG BANG’ at 6am. Rob and I both jumped out of bed. Only the Police knock that early in the morning. Rob went downstairs. It wasn’t even daylight. I heard him whispering, then he shut the front door and came back upstairs

He threw a mud encrusted ball of fluff at me.

‘That was the lady from Next Door. She was on her way to work and found this. She apologised for knocking so early, but she knew how worried you were’

Mack is back.

And, as we speak, at the Vet's having his doo-hickies removed and a microchip implanted.


Day 19
Cats and casseroles

We're going on a Cat Hunt. (Repeat) We're going on a Cat Hunt.

Gonna catch a big one. (Repeat) Gonna catch a big one. 

We're not scared. (Repeat) We're not scared.

It's a beautiful day. (Repeat) It's a beautiful day

Oh look, glass, crunchy, crunchy glass!

We can't go over it, we can't go under it.

Ohhh NO! 

We gotta go through it.

Crunch crunch, crunch crunch,

Oh look, the river Wandle! A cold dark river.

We can't go over it, we can't go under it.

Ohhh NO! 

We gotta go through it.

Splish splash, splish splash. (watch out for that rusty supermarket trolley) 

>Oh look, mud, with lots of poo in it! Icky-gicky mud. With poo in it and maybe some abandoned needles….

We can't go over it, we can't go under it.

Ohhh NO! 

We gotta go through it.

Poo poo,ploo poo


So the cat has gone missing again.

My Sunday, ah Sunday, the day of rest. If you like. Up and at ‘em for Church and Sunday School (although, to be fair, my Mum took the girls this morning as Rob, Me and my boys were cat-hunting).

Macintosh has done anther bunk. Like I said before, it normally wouldn’t bother me. He buggers off for three or four days and then comes home for a fortnight and then the wanderlust takes hold and he goes off again. 

The last time I was worried because the temperatures were so low. And it was snowing.  This time I am worried because he is on antibiotics and will get seriously poorly if he doesn’t complete the course. He has a vet’s appointment tomorrow. He needs to be ‘starved’ before he has surgery or the anaesthetic  mightkill him. 

And the children are sobbing, again. This time, without my usual ‘HAVE YOU SEEN THIS CAT’ notice on Facebook, some lovely ladies posted things like ‘Is this your cat?’ with a picture of the stupid Puss on their patio and ‘Has Macintosh gone missing again? because I’ve seen him insuchandsuch a road..’ I am very impressed by the camaraderie and community spirit shown by people. Thank you. It means the world to me.

Last night (Saturday) I took six chicken legs out of the freezer to defrost. Riverford (who are awesome) deliver me a meat box every fortnight. I don’t have a say in what I get, but I do get two roasts (always one chicken) and then enough meat for six people for a fortnight. All the meat is organic and British. 

From time to time they can’t supply enough British produce (this is very rare) so they tell you. Then they apologise. That’s what I love about Riverford. More than the fact that they are Organic. More than the fact that they use Local Produce. More than the fact they work out WAY cheaper than Supermarkets, more than the fact that the food is far and above the quality of any other I have bought, more than all of this, I love the transparency of the produce. You know the product’s ‘story’ from farm to your plate. Am sure if I were to ring them up and ask the provenance of the steak in my meat box, they would be able to tell me the cow’s name.

This, I think, is why horse meat (and god knows what else) entered the food chain. We are so used to just picking stuff out of the fridge cabinet because it has a Union flag stamp on it and assuming it is British and decently reared because of that. We have grown to trust the supermarkets and their spiel, because that’s what we are used to. 

Personally, I have always checked labels. Maybe it’s because of my health scares, but I have always doubly, triply checked the provenance of meat….For example, MOST chicken breasts sold in supermarkets are of a nasty standard and have been injected with water and hormones. It makes them look plump and better value than the tiny corn-fed, organic meat lying next to them on the fridge shelf. 

But they have almost no calorific or nutritional value. You may as well save your money and buy more potatoes. Or buy the yellowy cornfed chicken, because it is awesome. (Be warned, supermarkets are aware that corn-fed chooks are more yellowy in the flesh and have been known to dye the meat a bit yellow) Which, again is why I love, love, love RIVERFORD. Not only for all of the above, but their excellent customer service.

But they do throw in the odd chicken leg or two.

Am sure if I lived in a smaller household, one without two teenage boys, two chicken legs a fortnight would be enough. When I say chicken leg, they are the type with the drumstick and thigh attached . So I chuck them in the freezer and I defrosted six today. 

As I have already explained my un- adulterating love for Nigella, I won’t have to explain my use of her ‘Italian Chicken’ recipe for today’s roast. Nigella’s recipe uses a whole chicken, with a lemon up it’s bum, but I just added a quartered lemon to the broth. 

I cut up three onions into quarters, one red pepper, one courgette and some Riverford Olives (which I had stuffed with garlic cloves a month ago). The whole, Organic and British, lot probably cost me a tenner. For 6 people. I put the lot into my Nana’s enamel, covered pot, the one with the ‘Ministry of Food’ stamp on the bottom (must be from the 40s, 50’s?) shoved it the oven. Simples.

I put it on 240 for the first 20 min, then turned it down to 100, then went Cat-Hunting.

I apologise to anyone who lives around the ‘Causeway’ part of Carshalton. You may have seen some very weary souls trudging around your part of the woods.  And a car, driving VERY slowly with children hanging out of the window, shaking packets of Dreamies, shouting ‘Mack, Mack, here puss puss’ and two teenage boys traipsing round with the afore-mentioned Dreamies, looking in wheelie bins and back gardens. The fact that I didn’t have to cajole/bribe my kids to do this just shows how worried they are about Macintosh. Please help.

We’re going on a Cat hunt..We’re not scared….

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DAY  17
How I was asked to leave Sainsbury’s and why I can never show my face again…

Something that has struck me while not using supermarkets is the amount of human contact I have had these past three weeks.

I deal with and meet people constantly, we all do. But that’s not quite the same thing. Every day I do the school run and meet, literally, hundreds of people, big and small. Then I pop to the shop, or maybe go for a coffee, or maybe meet some friends in the park for a playdate or go to playgroup.

I work two days a week, as a Civil Servant. Without going into detail, I have to interview anything up to 35 people a day, plus the 150-ish colleagues that I work with. I also have to deal with outside agencies. In short, I could meet hundreds and hundreds (almost thousands) of people a week. And most of them are in a bad mood. And I wouldn’t consider most of it ‘human contact.’

While I have had good and bad customer service in supermarkets, I’ve never had REALLY bad customer service. But I’m starting to think that’s because we’ve just got used to it. The Co Op for example. Very nice staff, have no complaints, except one, a few years ago when I asked for raisins and they looked at me like I was insane?! Also Sainsbury’s, no real complaints but I get a bit annoyed that I can’t get my buggy round the aisles and that the staff sometimes chew gum when they are serving me. 

None of this is really worth complaining about and anyway, why should I? It takes time, effort and inclination to make a complaint. You ask for a manager and while already short for time you have to wait. Normally with a bored and screaming toddler. Then the Manager, or Duty Manager, or Customer Service Manager, or whatever 16-year-old they made a Manager this week, ambles over to you and just sort of shrugs and says ‘Sorry’. 

Then they tell you to bloody email them, which will take MORE time. (All my computer usage is taken up with important stuff like Facebook and Twitter and The Real Housewives of Orange County. I HAVE NO TIME TO MAKE AN OFFICIAL COMPLAINT).  I just want them to be nice in the first place.  

To be fair, that rant is not just directed at supermarkets, just modern life in general. Like I said, there are some really lovely people that work in supermarkets.

But then I stopped using supermarkets. Not just food supermarkets but any big name chain store. B and Q (used Melvyn Clarke’s instead) is an example (more later). And it was lovely. Lovely because you would get a smile. Maybe a ‘Can I help you’ or ‘Are you ok there?’ and then they left you alone. I’ve never been one for the ‘Have a nice day’ in-your-face customer service. Leave me alone. If I want something, I’ll ask for it.

When I went to TFX on my cheese-quest the girl on the deli bit saw me looking through the glass at the scrummy bread, came over and said ‘I am buying you some bread?’ I fear something was lost in translation, but I got the gist. I replied that I was just looking and she smiled and disappeared. Then, when I had made up my mind, she reappeared and I got my feta, PROPER Turkish Delight and a focaccia type bread with olives in (you really should get it, more like a brioche than a bread, with huge, fresh olives in, for £1.20). It genuinely made me happy. I had come into a shop, bought scrummy, excellent produce and felt valued as a customer. It felt good.

Clare and her staff at Calladoodles are another example of lovely Human Contact. I always feel guilty because I always smash the door open (am very heavy handed) but they always smile, say ‘Good Morning’ then let you browse without bothering you. 

The bakers in Carshalton are similar, always and without question I get a ’Good Morning’ or ‘Are you being served? ’ And when I ask for ‘Four gingerbread men, but can you make sure that one has got a pink smartie and one has got an orange smartie,’ it’s not a problem. They are more than pleased to do so. 

The other example I have is the Late, Great, Greengrocers. I always got a ‘Morning’ or ‘Hiya’. When my children were little they would fuss over the pram. They were more than happy to do me a flower arrangement at short notice when my friend died suddenly and the funeral was held quicker than expected, they were more than happy to order in a Starfruit one time for my son’s school project. It was no problem. I just asked. I didn’t have to wait for a manager and I certainly didn’t have to email anyone.

I saw a friend last week and her experience of Sainsbury’s made me decide to test them for myself.

She has three children. Two of which are two-year-old twins. She went to Sainsbury’s in Wallington and spent ages looking for a car parking space. Eventually she found one and walked to the store with her toddlers holding her hands. She didn’t bother with her buggy as she had a huge shopping list and needed a trolley. Except there weren’t any with two seats.  So she asked for one. 

The attitude she got from the staff left much to be desired. So she made a complaint. They were completely unhelpful and seemed not to care less. After ages of waiting, a ‘Customer Service Manager’ told her that it wasn’t their fault there weren’t enough baby and toddler spaces in the car park or enough trollies and to email them. 

So she went home without buying anything and was so angry she emailed the store. Who told her to email head office. Who couldn’t care less. They apologised, said that they would order more double-seated trollies but suggested she not shop with her children until then.

All she wanted was a double-seated trolley and asked for one.

If the person she had asked in the first place had apologised and said they would sort it she might still be a Sainsbury’s customer.

Egged on by this, I decide to check them out. I went in every day last week, not buying anything, just hanging around and observing. Occasionally taking photos of the shelves on my phone. I went to the ‘Customer Service Desk’ (the fag kiosk) and asked for a double trolley. I now appreciate how weird this looked, not having any children with me.  The security guard suddenly appeared.

‘You’re the woman who’s been taking all the photos, aren’t you?’

Me: ‘Am sure I don’t know what you mean’ (in my best telephone voice)

SG: ‘Yeah, it’s you. You’ve been hanging round all week, if you’re not buying anything, you had better leave.’

Me: ‘Didn’t want to buy anything in this shop anyway.’

I actually stuck my nose in the air and left. Oh the shame. I’m not sure what is worse, either they think I’m a shoplifter or an industrial spy.

The things I do for you!

Day 15
It’s going well, really well.  Sort of.  Ish.  I haven’t cheated again, so that’s good, but I did go into Sainsbury’s Wallington for a quick scout about. Then was asked to leave. I’ll explain in the next blog or so.

Bought my bread from the bakers on the High Street again. Bought what is now being referred to as ‘my usual’ (white bloomer, thinly sliced) It is £1.67. About 30p more than a loaf of bread in Sainsbury’s (not a Value brand one) but getting it thinly sliced makes it last twice as long as a supermarket loaf. I make 20 packed lunches a week and get through a lot of loaves, so this has worked out much, much cheaper. Also, that extra 30p gets you a much more tasty bread, plus completely wonderful customer service from the lovely ladies in the bakery.  And my kids prefer the baker’s bread, especially for toast.

After  that I popped into Calladoodles on the High Street.  I have an expensive month coming up. My sister-in-law’s birthday, four birthday parties that my children have been invited to, Easter, My cousin’s wedding MOTHER’s DAY.

Yeah that.

You know, that ‘one day of the year just for you’ HA!

In reality I will probably (almost certainly) spend it ‘entertaining’ my mother and my Grandmother (Nana). Nana has dementia.

Dementia is a wicked, cruel and evil disease. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Before we had to cope with it as a family I thought it was just forgetfulness and leaving-the-gas-on.  But it is more horrible than that. Yes, forgetfulness and memory loss are a part of it, but what the ‘nana Moon’ storylines on telly don’t tell you is the violence and abuse. 

Nana was always a Battleaxe. There is no more fitting description than that. She is about 5 feet tall and completely terrifying. I think I became taller than her when I was about 9. Nearly all my memories of her have been her looking up at me, pointing her bony finger and all of her sentences started with ‘I’m telling you, young lady…’ Fierce and proud. Proud and haughty. Proud and scary. Proud and terrifying. Proud and loving. Proud and  immaculate. Proud and proud of me. My wonderful Nana.  

My Nana who taught me how to crochet and write a ‘proper letter’ (If it’s Dear Sir, it’s not sincerely, if you don’t know their name, you take it in FAITH that the letter reaches them, that’s why it’s FAITHFULLY). My Nana who taught me that you need two pillow cases on a pillow and not to drink orange juice at breakfast, because it will curdle in your stomach with the milk from your cereal. My Nana who met my Gramps  on VJ day and married him three months later on Boxing day because ‘he was just so gorgeous and there was a lot of booze around at Christmas, because of the ration’

What dementia does is erase the human from a person. Then it removes the humanity. As she was such a fearsome creature, we didn’t notice at first that her rages became more often and more violent. Then we noticed her lipstick was wonky. Then we noticed there was a stain on her skirt. 

Then, one day I went round to hers and she made me a cup of tea. She has a stove-top kettle, one that whistles. She has had it all my life. I offered to make the cuppa but, proud as she always was, she was insistent and went to make the tea. Except she didn’t light the gas. My Madeleine (then about 4) was first to notice the ‘yucky smell’. I tried my best. I switched the gas off and quietly opened all the downstairs windows. That was when I rang my Mother and said that we had a problem.

I know the NHS and dementia care gets a lot of slagging off (sometimes justifiable ) but they really, really do look after Nana well. My Mum and my Aunt are brilliant and they have nothing but praise for the care that she has received. Her local doctors/hospital have been wonderful.

So, my Mothers’ day will be spent with my Mother (God help me) and a geriatric, violent toddler. My Mother will be stressed from caring for her mother. And she will be taking all that out on me. I shall be gritting my teeth and saying ‘Scots Guards’ (that’s what we do in our family). Last year Nana had a urinary infection and was admitted to hospital. My Dad, my cousin and my sister-in-law went and sat with her and convinced the doctors to release her into the family’s care. My cousin is tall and strong and he had to hold her in his arms. She took all of her rage out on him and clawed at his face and kicked and bit and punched him. Then my sister-in-law had to collect a urine sample from her. This is the short version of this story.

So I expect my Mothers’ Day to be a bit stressy.

So I want a really good present.

I have this thing I say to my kids when we are out shopping. Even when they were babies. I say ‘You can tell your Daddy I want that’ It usually makes the people around me smile and nod. If I see a lovely top or shoes in a shop, or a nice picture, I say it. You see, I think I’m really easy to buy for. I would buy really excellent presents for me. But it almost never happens. I always get something I can’t use because I’m allergic to it. Or something is presented to me and I look at my husband (a man I have been with for 18 years) and say ’It’s almost like you’ve never met me before.’  He has, bless him, bought me a few EXCELLENT things over the years. But only a few.

So I popped into Calladoodles in Carshalton High Street.

I love Calladoodles. I love everything Clare sells. Even the stuff that wouldn’t ‘go’ in my house, I love them all. And she has the most excellent idea. It’s sort of like a wedding list. But a list that lasts all year round. You go in and you look around at the lovely, scrummy things and instead of saying in your head (or to your toddler)’ I want that, you can tell your daddy I want that’ you can write it down. Clare, or one of her staff, will write it down and it will remain as a list for friends, family and loved ones to pick from. They then, on approaching mothersday/yourbirthday/Christmas go in, tell the staff your name and they will point you in the right direction. It is simple, effective and GENIUS.

Please feel free to pop in and look at ‘Anna Matthews’ list. And then make your own x

I love it. And Carshalton Mums get 10% off.

Day 13, The 58th Variety.

I love cookery books. I love TV cooks. Cooking itself, Meh. I just don't have the time, effort or inclination. I certainly don't have an appreciative audience. Or natural talent.

In days of yore, before babies, entertaining and socialising were essential to Young, Hip and Happening people. We had loads of friends. We lived in South London and a huge circle of friends. Sadly, I never learnt to cook as a child/teenager. It was an extremely fast learning curve. These people were far trendier and older than I was. It was the early Nineties and 'Jamie Oliver' type gatherings were very popular. 

You know the ones. Where a group of really cool people gathered in a really cool flat and talked about really cool stuff, while really cool music played and they wore really cool clothes. Only I'm not really cool. I didn't know what was really cool to talk about and our flat was in the wrong part of South London to be cool. 

Also, I love The Wonder Stuff, I am Kloot and Morrissey. None of that 'Brit Pop' stuff. And I didn't own any clothing that was remotely cool. I still don't. 

I learnt to cook stuff by buying it from Iceland, serving it and then deciding I could have cooked it better from scratch. Our 'Friends' looked down their noses but politely ate what they were served. 

Fast Forward 18 years to today. I have run out of Ketchup.

I love, love, love TV cooks. I love Lorraine Pascal because she is so lovely and GORGEOUS. And does good cakes. I love Rachel Khoo because she is living the dream I always had, living in a teeny-tiny poky Parisian flat and making exquisite, Cordon Bleu food and being so GORGEOUS at the same time. (being a childbride and having babies young scuppered that for me) I love Rachel Allen because she is so unassuming and non-judemental and such a good Mum and GORGEOUS. I love Anjum Anand because she makes exotic, flavour-filled food look easy and she is GORGEOUS. My absolute mentor in all things home-cooking, is of course, Delia. She talks to you like a human being. Although she has a very no-nonsense and bossy approach, you know she would look after you and wouldn't judge you on a done-to-death yorkshire pudding, as long as you had tried your best. She is GORGEOUS (you can see where I'm going with this, can't you?) And, my absolute favourite of all time is, of course, Nigella.

Lovely, GORGEOUS, Nigella. I Love her (did I mention that?) In my head I think I look a little bit like her. Only in my head, obviously. 

She is a bit big in the hips and the boobs, like me. She has long, dark hair, like me. She has children, like me. She is a multi-millionaire, like...oh never mind. The reality is that in my head I look like Nigella, but in reality, I look more like Neil from the Young Ones. 

And he had a cleaner kitchen than mine.

So when we ran out of ketchup, I though I'd consult Nigella. 

Because she is my guru.

My Sophie is a bit of a fussy eater. She is very good and will eat most things, but every now and again she refuses to eat something. If I smother it in ketchup, she will eat it. Even salad. My eldest, Tom, had an eating disorder when he was a baby. Perseverance eating. It was horrible. It's sort of an OCD thing, but with food. So I didn't want togo back down that path, which is why I let her cover everything in red sauce. 

My ethics for this Lent is 'No Supermarkets.' To buy ketchup at Londis or TFX would be too easy. And I like a challenge. So I tried to make my own.

One heap of tomatoes one onion a bit of balsamic vinegar a bit more than that of white wine vinegar I boiled it all up, put it in the blender and put it on the side of Madam's dinner. She ate the lot. GO ME!!!! Sophie eating that pasta and redpepper thing (with my ketchup) was the equivalent of Nigella giving one of her smug looks-to-camera. Only, insead of a REALLY COOL soundtrack, I was watching the Oscars on catchup and my 'ta-dahhhh' moment was to the background music of Seth Macfarlane singing 'We saw your Boobs'...

I'll take my moments of glory when I can get them...

Also, Thank you for all the 'Likes' comments and retweets. It really means a lot to me! I am on Twitter (obviously) would appreciate a follow xx @maddiemum Will say Hi, I don't bite. Much.



I begin with an apology, then an explanation.

I apologise because I have been to a Supermarket and bought stuff. My explanation is, it was an emergency. I am sorry.

Those of you from the 'Carshalton Mums' group will know that my cat went missing. Again. I have 3 cats. Phoebe, Dolly and Macintosh. All are from unwanted litters and are a bit wonky looking. Phoebe is beautiful, but insane and neurotic. Dolly is boss eyed and Macintosh has some sort of Gigantism (is bigger than both my other cats and he is still only 8 moths old) Oh, and he tends to wander off for a week at a time. 

Normally I wouldn't bother panicking, but this week saw the return of the snow and stiletto sharp icy temperatures. After 3 nights, I began to worry. I started putting food outside for him, just incase he was coming home during the night. In the morning the food would be gone, but no Macintosh. 

Any cat owner will tell you of the magical, addictive treats called 'dreamies'. They are pussycat Crack-Cocaine. Seriously. I had two and a half packets in the cupboard, normally reserved for coaxing the cats in when a Vet's visit is due. Rob and I searched the street in our PJs and wellie boots, shaking the Dreamies packets calling out for the stupid cat. I posted on the 'Carshalton Mums' Facebook page and a kind lady said she had seen him in her street the day before.

Off I went, at 10pm, looking like a proper loon. I was (as afore-mentioned) in my jimjams, skiing jacket, wellie boots and my daughter's hat (couldn't find mine) My arms were full of dreamies and the catbox. Thankfully I did't see another human, or they might have recorded the image of this mad cat lady trudging through the snow flurry, searching through bushes and looking in wheelie bins, and put it on Youtube. I marched up and down the street calling 'Mack, Mack, here puss' but nothing. A skanky looking fox looked at me in disgust and fled.

After ages and ages (and mainly because I couldn't feel my fingers or toes) I decided to go home. I had the (not so) genius idea of sprinkling the dreamies behind me, like a Hansel and Gretel trail. I'm sure the skanky fox was grateful for the snack. 

So now I need more catfood.

I HAD planned to do a scout of local petshops for this blog, especially the one at Wrythe Green. But had enough petfood till last me until next week. Suddenly I had no catfood left (or Dreamies) It was 3pm this (Sunday) afternoon and I had two screaming pussycats, STARVING TO DEATH (this is normal cat behaviour on being presented with an empty food bowl). I'm sure they would have been fine. They tend to supplement their diet with the local wildlife and it would have been very tempting to leave them till tomorrow. Except that Phoebe (the mental cat) would have made a dirty protest. Probably on my bed. She does that when she is displeased. She had a VERY angry look on her face. 

Also, my Husband said (am paraphrasing) 'if we don't buy catfood, she'll crap on the bed' So I went to Sainsbury's and bought catfood. 

And wine.

The cats don't need wine, obviously. But I do. I really, really do. I have had a rotten week. Bad stuff at work, half term, my Mother, PLUS the missing kitten. ARRRRGHHHH!!!! So I bought a lovely, scrummy bottle of wine. It really was lovely.

Going into the supermarket was odd. Even after only 2 weeks (nearly) the 'glaringness' (I just made that word up) of it all. It was so 'in your face'. The deals, the special offers. Or should I say 'THE DEALS!' 'THE SPECIAL OFFERS!' Nothing is subtle. 

Even to a cynical mind like mine, it is very tempting to be sucked into the 'buy one get one free' offers. BOGOF, indeed. As I knew I wasn't supposed to be there, I went in with ninja-like skill (sort of) mainly because I didn't want to be spotted. But it was very easy to be distracted (It's a big booze week, apparently) and I am very proud of myself to have left with only catfood and wine.

So, I apologise, profusely. I aim to make sure it does not happen again. Unless the cat goes missing again. Oh yeah, the cat. After a borough-wide manhunt, including several photos of him in other people's gardens, he strolled through the door yesterday like nothing hadhappened. 

Does anyone know where I can get Dreamies locally?




A strange thing happened to me today. I put on a pair of jeans. The very same pair that I put on a week ago. I remember it because when making pancakes on Shrove Tuesday I splashed pancake batter on them. I was fuming as they were clean out of the drawer and were smothered, so I chucked them in the wash and today is the first time I've worn them since.

Only now they are too big. Not hugely too big, but big enough to keep pulling them up all day.

This almost never happens to me.

Normally, I dry clothes on the airer inside and give them a quick five minutes in the tumble drier. As the weather has been so beautiful I've been drying them on the line and not tumble drying them. It crossed my mind that my normal tumble drying routine was shrinking my jeans slightly and that was why they were too big today.

A friend came for lunch today and politely suggested that this was nonsense (she laughed in my face). Then she suggested it may be because I have lost a bit of weight. That was my turn to laugh.

I have a strange relationship with food/weight loss. I won't bore you with the details. The short version is that I spent my teenage years and early twenties starving myself, then stuffing myself and coping with all the emotions and guilt that comes with that. I had the idea of what I 'should be' in my head, but not actually recognising that in the mirror. But I'm OK now...

I am tall (5 feet 10 and a bit) and bigboned, with broad shoulders. Also, I have huge Boobs. All of this makes me a size 16 on the top (and a size 12 on the bottom). People usually argue with me at this point. Because I don't 'look like a size 16'. It leads to quite uncomfortable and boderline insulting conversations because I 'don't look that fat'. I like to think that I'm 'good' with food now. I genuinely don't give a damn about what size the label on my jeans say, or what number the scales read. Sometimes I feel a bit podgy, sluggish and I cut back on the sweets a bit. Sometimes I will look in the mirror and notice I look a bit gaunt and I will try and eat a bit more. But I still weigh myself every month. It's a hard habit to get out of.

So when my friend suggested I'd lost weight and I was 'looking really well' I laughed it off. I KNOW when I put on/lose weight. It's usually because I'm ill. Standing on the scales this afternoon I fully expected it to be the usual number. But it wasn't.


Without even trying. Without even noticing. I was baffled, then I started thinking about the previous week. I haven't bought crisps because I'm not sure where to source them from locally. My Husband, bless him, tried to make his own parsnip crisps. The result was a house full of black smoke and a vile oil-type smell and some yucky shrivelled parsnip slices. He liked them though! I bought some biscuits from Oxfam. They were chocolate, Fairtrade and expensive. So I savoured every mouthful. And didn't buy anymore. 

Also, the wine. Oh the wine!!!! There can be up to a thousand calories in a bottle of wine. I haven't given up wine for Lent (as was my original intention) but I only like a certain type of wine (Sauvignon Blanc, Loire Valley since you asked!) and I can only buy that in Co Op, Big Sainsbury's and Morrisons. So, I haven't drunk that much (honestly!) I had a bottle and a bit left before I started this and have been rationing myself. CHEESE!!!!!!!!! I bought some Halloumi and feta (nomnomnom) from TFX. Because it is (slightly) pricier than the supermarkets, I added less to our meals.

I guess that what I am saying is that by going with quality and not quantity and appreciating the food before me (and that I served my children) I have enjoyed it more and taken in fewer calories. And I have done all this without even realising.


On Saturdays my children go to drama school. They normally take a snack. Something like a penguin biscuit, packet of crisps and a juice box, like a Caprisun or Ribena. Unable to pop to the supermarket I decided I would make scotch pancakes. 

It's the easiest recipe in the world. One mug of flour, One mug of milk and 1 egg. So I used my last egg.

Anyone who knows me, knows I have a small zoo. Any waif and stray is welcome. But not foxes, obviously, but that's another rant. Over the years I've nursed asthmatic guinea pigs back to health with peanut butter, helped a rabbit with stiff joints swim in a bath of Epsom salts to aid in his physiotherapy and fed chopped cabbage to an injured swan, despite it trying to kill me.

Amongst the wonky, funny-looking, unwanted critters are four hens. Beautiful, funny girls who we rescued via the British Hen Welfare Trust. When we took them in (six initially) they were about a year old and had spent their entire lives in hell. They would have been born in an incubator and very soon after put onto a conveyer belt and trundled along as they were selected by gender (boy chicks are a darker colour yellow). As they were female, they would have been packed in a box and shipped out to a 'farm.' Their brothers (a few million of them) would have been gassed and sold to the petfood industry. 

Once my girls had reached heir new 'home' they would have been put into a small cage (about the size of a cat carrier) with up to five of their sisters. Plenty of room for six teeny tiny fluffy chicks but horrific for six full grown hens (they reach maturity or 'point of lay' at 18 weeks.) 

At about a year old, their egg production drops dramatically. They are just not viable for the farmer to keep. So they throw them away. Literally chuck them out. They are usually scooped up and taken to become petfood, or, more likely, pies, sausages and ready-meals (don't even get me started on KFC). There is very little nutritional value in their scrawny, battered and tired bodies. 

My girls were lucky. They were scooped up by lovely people from the BHWT. A charity who have Jamie Oliver and Pam Ayres amongst their patrons. They took them to a safe place, where they were given veterinary treatment for the first time in their lives. Their beaks and claws were trimmed (normal chook behaviour, like digging in the dust, normally files these down) and for the first time EVER, they walked on the ground.

We took six ex-BATS (as they are sometimes called). Although my husband insists that there is a silent 'R' B(R)AT as ours are so spoilt. They looked HORRIBLE. They were almost completely bald. Absolutely no feathers on their heads/necks. And they were covered in sores from where they had pecked each other out of boredom. 

Being the geeky, sci-fi family we are, our BATS had Dr Who companion names. My Husband converted an unused shed in our garden and built a run for Donna, Rose, Riversong, Amy, Martha and Sarahjanesmith to move in to. Sadly, we lost two of our BATS. Mr Fox helped himself to poor Martha and River, well River just died. Apparently they do that, rescued hens. The shock of being moved just makes them 'depressed'. They just decide to die. She dug herself a hole under the wendyhouse in the garden and sat in it. 

Every morning we would let them into the garden and she would toddle off to her hole, and wait to die. We googled it and emailed the BHWT for advice, but BATS just do that sometimes. Poor River x

I apologise for the longwinded post, but there really is a point to all this!!!!! You see, I am so passionate about free range eggs, because of my BATS. Because they are completely awesome. However, as afore-mentioned, they are brats. They don't like the winter because they get cooped up in their run a lot. So they have a tantrum and refuse to lay. 

We normally get AT LEAST one egg a day, but not since before Christmas. I have desperatey been plying them with cake (their favourite) and making them porridge and toast (they get a bit stroppy if they don't have a 'proper' breakfast and come to the back door to have an arguement with me) but no eggs. Which has led me to try and source non-supermarket free-range eggs, locally.

At the Wallington Farmer's market are two stalls where you can get free range eggs and chickens, and one where you can get duck eggs. But this isn't on for another three weeks. While on my scout of Wallington I popped into Noah's Health food shop (opposite Sainsbury's on Stafford Road). Mainly to check out their cleaning products (more on that later) but also for a general nose around. I had a lovely chat with the lady there and explained what I was doing. She thinks it's brilliant (although had never heard of Carshalton Mums?!!!!) Most importantly of all, they sell LOCAL eggs!!!!

They do two types, free range and Organic (also free-range) from a farm in Godstone (but not Godstone farm!) The price can vary but a quick google and BOTH types ARE CHEAPER THAN SAINSBURY'S. It is well worth the trek/trying to find a parking space to go to Noah's, not least for the egg-cellent service.

Sorry for that, couldn't help myself.


Anna's chicken 'Amy'


Rob (my husband) can't photoshop the Zulu poster as it is copywright infringement or something, however, in a previous incarnation he was a cartoonist. (Then we grew up and had to get proper jobs.) But he will be doing a cartoon poster for us and all those who 'liked' the post will be included xxxx

Day 4, Zulus, thousands of 'em

I went to do a quick scout of TFX today for this blog (more later) and got a nasty shock. The new (ish) flats on the old Canon building site, opposite Wallington station, is finally getting a shop in the retail unit, on the ground floor. There are a lot of 'coming soon...' type posters and workmen to-ing and fro-ing, but nothing to say what type of shop it is going to be. Until today.

Although the name of the shop is not advertised anywhere, it is very definately going to be a supermarket. Lots of aisles and shelves being built, and lots of ORANGE livery. I can't be certain it will be a Sainsbury's, there is nothing on either their website nor Canon Court's, but the typeface of the signs is suspiciously familiar and, as I said before ORANGE. 

When I got home I did a quick and very unscientific check on Google Maps. If this is going to be a Sainsbury's and the Sainsbury's Local at Stanley Park goes ahead, there will be FOUR Sainsbury's surrounding Carshalton, in a near perfect square. There will be LESS THAN 500 METRES between the two Wallington stores and the furthest away (Carshalton and Stanley Park) are only 800 METRES apart!!!!!!!!! Carshalton park is smack bang in the middle of it. It is, so to speak, our Rorke's Drift. 


Both are bothering me. I mean, where to buy them is bothering me. A few years ago I was very poorly. I had a heart attack. Won't bore you with the details, but it was quite scary. Then I had a stroke. Equally boring and equally scary. One good thing to come out of this was that I took a big interest in the food that I, and more importantly, my children, ate. I started getting a veggie box from Riverford. Then I upped it to a Meat box, as well as milk, cheese and other treats (their Booja Booja chocs are fab!) The cheddar is absolutely scrummy, truly the best in the world, but it's a bit expensive and a bit too 'grown up' for a cheese and marmite sarnie in a lunchbox. My kids LOVE cheese. They eat pounds and pounds of the stuff. Other than Mr Co Op and Mr Sainsbury's, there really isn't anywhere to buy it locally. Also, loo roll. I know that the Pharmacy and the (from a) pound shop sell it, but the supermarkets really do seem better value. I have used the Ethical Supermarket website in the past but this Lent isn't about that type of ethics, it's about LOCAL. The Riverford supplier is a local guy (Simon) and he employs two delivery drivers, one of whom sends his kids to a local school, so that fits the criteria. But they don't sell bog roll...In addition the Yours locally website looks fab, I know my mate Suzi had great service from them today. But they don't do do toilet paper either!


My Supermarket Valentine
Ok, so two days of Lent and NO SUPERMARKETS...Wow, didn't think would be so hard! Needed milk for the kids bedtime, Riverford delivery isn't till tomorrow, so they had to make do with water. Am sure they'll live, but still feel like a bad Mummy! Also, St Valentine's Day...very tempting to 'pop into Morrisons' to get a meal deal. Instead we didn't do flowers but hubby and I got cards from lovely indie gift shop Calladoodles in Carshalton High Street. Also my pressie was a heart shaped pebble from a small shop near where my husband works. He is, right now cooking me a meal from our freezer/fridge (I can hear pans clattering and banging). Am sure will be scrummy!!! Whilst waiting, I'm watching Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall and his fishing programme. Makes me sad we no longer have a fishmongers like Nicholsons (next to the petrol station in Wallington) Here's hoping can get through the weekend Supermarket free!!!!!!



Anna Matthews is a Carshalton Mum of four children, Thomas 13, Adam 11, Madeleine 9 and Sophie 4

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