Tuesday 28 September 2010


Tuesdays are the days that my Times column - Marriage -  comes out in the Body and Soul Section. Today it's about how my husband bought me a bicycle on ebay - two years after he promised me one for my birthday. I wrote that I was suspicious of his motives, just to spice things up, but actually I was thrilled and have bicycled every day to school and back feeling smug and happy not to have to walk down the busy Uxbridge Road, or use the car which is so wasteful.

We went to a preview of a animated children's film called Despicable Me which was utterly brilliant. It's all about an "evil" Russian villain who wants to steal the moon, but his terrible ways are tempered when he adopts some children from a children's home. The special 3d effects are superb, there is a scene where they all dip and dive in a rollercoaster and we were all squealing in terror and delight. The movie opens on October 15th.

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Diet and Detox

I came home heavy from the holidays and bloated and huge. Too much fish and chips, soda bread and wine. But wow it was fun. Then a week later I went to Italy for three days for a friend's special birthday. Eleven girls and three men and I have never weighed so much. Or eaten so much. So when a special offer for a  detox diet landed in my email box, I paid. The food for four days arrived in a cardboard box. Cinammon and blueberry flaxseed with soya milk and grapefruit for breakfast day 1, followed by mediterranean lentil stew and vegetarian burgers for lunch. It seemed easy. But by day three I had a killer headache (probably from not drinking caffeine) and on day four when there was just soup for dinner, I was cheating. A Godiva chocolate here and another one there. A tiny bit of cheese on an oatcake here and another there. Life is too short to spend it hungry. Although I am now back to the weight I was before the summer. I'd like to loose another 10lbs but it seems like too much hard work and I read a report in the newspaper yesterday which said that scientists have now discovered it's easier to loose weight by diet than exercise, and you'd have to exercise as much as an olympic athlete to really see the benefits. Anyone have any ideas? 

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Reasons to Be Cheerful (Part I)

We are back from three blissful weeks in West Ireland. When I thought about returning to London, it was with dread. I wasn’t looking forward to the pollution, the dirt and the noise. However it was time. I’d got fat and lazy in Ireland, just lounging around, reading (I recommend Sofia Tolstoy's Diaries) eating, and jumping into the freezing Atlantic sea for a few freezing seconds.

Reasons to Be Cheerful: 

My Cat: – She’s fatter too, but paradoxically refused to eat while we were away, even though I’d arranged for someone to feed her. She’s an old slapper and was probably being fed somewhere else.
Friends:  Loved going around to see old friends last night and finding out they are expecting a baby.
My desk:   I find it hard to concentrate anywhere else but at my own desk. I feel like a character out of Rear Window   I can see all the neighbours coming and going as I try to concentrate on my writing. It’s like watching a very slow soap opera. It’s very different to seeing the giant hare and the odd seagull out of the window from the house in Ireland.
A normal Diet: In Ireland I ate vast quantities of soda bread with smoked salmon, cheese, and homemade jam. We had real foodie guests and they wouldn’t stop thinking about food and cooking food. I put on at least two kilos.  It really was time to get home.
The Park Club  Even though we went for hearty walks (we even climbed Diamond Mountain in Connemara) and swam in the freezing sea, I didn’t really exercise. I missed my health club with it’s huge outdoor swimming pool and every class imaginable. It’s good to be back.
The Street Party: We were just back in time for our second street party. We had one last year. It’s easy to arrange -  you just have to do a collection for charity and the council will shut the street down for the day. It’s really good fun and the children loved having the road shut so they could bicycle up and down, play ping-pong in the road and rush into each other’s houses. Shame it can’t be more like that all year round. We all ate together and I met a man of 83 who’s been living in the street since the Blitz! He said in the old days, when he was a child, they had two street parties a year – one at Christmas. When I looked shocked and wondered about eating in the cold, he said they didn’t notice things like that, they were just so pleased to escape the tedium of work.

Monday 6 September 2010

Back to School

Back to school and to reality. Here I am again, sitting at my desk looking out at my street. I have loved the summer holidays, the hightlight being watching the dolphins swimming near the horseshoe shaped beach in Connemara, in the West of Ireland. It was lovely to be able to read, walk barefoot and pick blackberries and apples from the garden and make crumble with organic spelt flour (makes you feel less bloated than normal flour) and dig for mussels on the shore at low tide.

My 6 year old daughter Belle had long sun-bleached hair, uncombed for the last three weeks, and knotted, but she had it chopped off yesterday, in time for school, and immediately looked more grownup and less carefree. For the first time ever, I was weirdly efficient and bought school uniform, including winter trousers and thick tights at the beginning of the summer, but had a mad rush to buy school shoes yesterday. School uniform seems to run out by the September and last winter I couldn't for love or money find winter tights in the right size for my daughter.

These are the changes I would like from supermarket school uniforms:

More choice of narrow-fit/slimline trousers for skinny boys like my son and with standardized waist adjusters and offered in different lengths.
Warmer school trousers for the really cold part of winter
Warmer school shirts, made of viyella. (Perhaps they exist?)
School schools for girls with rubber on the toes.

If you haven't yet bought all the uniform you need, you can use Vouchercodes for free delivery on school uniforms from Marks and Spencer  and also log on for a sale of kids clothes   http://www.vouchercodes.co.uk/debenhams.com 

Is It Just Me Or Are Fad Diets a Waste of Time and Money?

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