Friday, 30 September 2011
I didn't pay the nanny nearly enough.
Thinking of creative and nutritious meals (and then cooking them) is quite a challenge.
Three children produce a remarkable amount of laundry.
No matter how often I tidy the play room, it is always, always messy.
Changing the sheets on a cabin bed is a pain in the neck.
Getting three children out of the house for 8.15 involves a significant amount of shouting and the occasional swear word.
The children are exhausting.
The children are amazing.
The children are clever, funny and interesting, and now I don't have to miss out on a single second of it.
The children are mine again.
Sunday, 18 September 2011
Ever keen on the opportunity to do a little shopping, I was delighted to hear that the harvest produce would be auctioned off after lunch, and the proceeds donated to those in need. I positioned myself near the front of the hall and limbered up, arm poised for some serious bidding action. I lost the first few lots (home-made raspberry jam, a prize-winning marrow and eight cooking apples) thanks to a frustrating cap of three pounds on any one bid, and a trigger-happy octogenarian sitting behind me.
But then I discovered my secret weapon.
In an effort to interest three year old E, sitting on my lap in a bored stupor, I wondered if I could persuade her to act as my proxy. I whispered "sixty pence" in her ear and like a meercat on steroids, she sat bolt upright to deliver her bid.
"Thixty pence!" she lisped, hand raised firmly in the air.
"Ahh, the little love!" I heard, from somewhere on our right. "Let the little lamb have it, Derek." A man in a tweed jacket reluctantly abandoned his quest for a jar of tomato chutney, which was passed with due ceremony to the sweetly smiling girl on my lap.
And so we continued. "Theventy pence!" "One pounds!" "Ninety pee. Pleathe." On each occasion the competing bidder would bow out gracefully, oohs and ahhs echoing around the dusty hall, as little E's harvest mountain grew and grew.
"I love broccoli," she announced wistfully, as lot 30 was held aloft. I turned my incredulous snort into a sneeze. The girl was good.
"Then you shall have it," beamed the auctioneer, abandoning the bidding process entirely.
We struggled home and filled the kitchen cupboards with produce, little E basking in the glory of such unprecedented attention. "That was fun," she said, "can we do it again?"
"Of course," I told her. "How do you feel about antiques?"
Friday, 16 September 2011
The last time I planned a surprise trip we were cash-rich and child-free. It was oh-so-easy to snaffle his passport and whisk him away to the airport, buy a change of clothes and some toiletries and bask in the glory of wifely perfection. Unsurprisingly the introduction of three small children to the mix makes the whole thing somewhat more complicated.
The plan was to pack the kids off to school and pre-school as normal, then casually announce a game of golf at a secret location. I'd drive him up to North Warwickshire, he'd realise he was playing on a world-famous course, declare me the best wife in the world and promptly tee off. Meanwhile, I'd loaf about the spa for a few hours, find a sun-lounger and promptly nod off. Only when we'd met up at the nineteenth, would I casually lob a room key onto the table with a suggestive wink. Perfect.
The school pick-ups and overnight chaperoning were taken care of with a combination of fabulous friends and a long-suffering mother, armed with a sheaf of illustrated instructions I have no doubt she wisely ignored. The one remaining challenge was how I was going to smuggle an overnight bag into the car without being seen.
Our family-friendly car is fitted with a myriad of secret compartments. The week before our trip I began swiping clothes from the ironing pile and hiding them in the car. Underpants in the glove box, toothbrush in the CD changer, shoes under the spare tyre... Within a few days I had an entire wardrobe hiding within the very fabric of the car. Ha! I was invincible. I was the Uber Wife.
And then I came home the day before The Big Surprise to discover the car missing. My husband, ever the conscientious car-owner, had deposited the car at the garage for its annual service, where it would remain for twenty four hours.
"But we're going out tomorrow for your birthday surprise!" I wailed.
"So we'll take my car instead," he reasoned.
"But, but, but..." I flailed, spluttering my way through a pathetic excuse about leg room. It was to no avail; we would take the other car, and all my covert packing would go to waste. Unless...
I put in a call to the garage. I begged. I pleaded. I flirted mercilessly from my whispered position in the understairs cupboard. Would they lie for me?
Half an hour later my husband answered the phone and I held my breath, innocently flicking through a magazine.
"What do you mean you can't finish the service? Well can't you keep the car until you can finish it? Just park it on your forecourt... What subsidence problem? Really? Well that seems extraordinary... "
He sighed and put down the phone. "Looks like we can take your car tomorrow after all. Bloody garage. I've a good mind to book it in somewhere else. I certainly won't be recommending them to anyone. What a fiasco!" And he stomped off to collect the car and complain to anyone who would listen about the appalling customer service he'd received at the greasy hands of our local garage.
And so my position as Uber Wife was restored, and The Big Surprise concluded without a hitch. As for the garage, I just need to do a small repair job on their reputation...
Saturday, 3 September 2011
The problem is, it has never bloody worked. Not once. Over the last year I have wrestled with every single can, eventually resorted to jabbing a hole in the side and wrenching open the metal with a rather vicious vegetable knife I keep for just such a purpose. Why haven't I just bought another tin opener? Because I already have one, of course. A Very Expensive One.
Eventually I headed back to the kitchenware shop, explaining to the frightening stylish French shop assistant that the tin opener had been faulty from the outset. She raised a single eyebrow in the way only a Parisienne can, and informed me coolly that this could not be the case.
"Theese teen-opener," she said with a Gallic shrug, "ee is the best in the world."
I begged to differ, but she wouldn't unbend. She offered to demonstrate my tin opener's world-class prowess, should I care to bring in a can. Not wanting to miss this opportunity to prove my point (and secretly hoping the resulting shredded metal would spill its contents on her white linen dress) I nipped next door to the M&S food hall, returning with a can of beans.
Mademoiselle took the can from me and opened it with a flourish, removing the smoothly cut lid without fuss or spillage. Tres bien.
"I don't understand," I blustered, "that's not at all what happens at home!"
She looked me up and down with a calculating air, a manicured finger tapping the counter.
"Ees thees the same brand of teen you buy at 'ome?" she queried.
Ah. A sense of foreboding washed over me. No, thees was not at all the same brand of teen I bought at home. M&S shopping in our household is reserved for pants and the occasional prawn and mayonnaise sandwich; a weekly shop would devastate our finances.
"No," I confessed, "our beans are normally Tesco value."
She gave a barely imperceptible shudder and pushed the tin opener back across the counter to me.
"Ee knows the difference," she said.
I sighed and drove home, returning the tin opener to the cutlery drawer, where it doubtless shrunk away from the inferior utensils around it. I think it's time to buy a new tin opener.