It’s December and with that, officially allowed to put up your Christmas tree! Never mind mine has been up a while, my excuse is rather good: with parents abroad and two ex-husbands, Christmas is a juggling act. So my family Christmas this year will be next weekend. Everything just has to happen a little earlier. Having my mother visit also means basically spring cleaning the house and some. Including sorting out every cupboard and shelf she could possibly look in or at.
And make sure there is enough food and drink in the house she finds agreeable which can be surprisingly difficult. Panic stations on all front for me really. So when I wasn’t working silly hours this week, I was cleaning under beds, wiping down skirting boards and checking best before dates in the fridge. I love my mum, but she has the highest expectations (or aspirations?) for me, and when you work full-time,m have three kids and a cat, they are not easily lived up to. It does not help that we have pretty much opposite ideas of what is important and what isn’t, so you can count on every meeting eventually ending with us at loggerheads and an atmosphere in the house you can cut with a knife.
The week flew by, but the weekend has been mine, all mine. No work, no kids, no prior engagements. So Saturday called for a little trip into the heart of London, but oh my god did I regret that more or less as soon as I set foot on the streets. About 5 million people had the same idea and being squashed on Oxford Street is not what I would call fun. But I got a few more presents for my kids so it wasn’t all bad. And walking all the way to Covent Garden when it’s dark and you have the Christmas lights twinkling everywhere is just lovely. I peeked into the Christmas market on Leicester Square but it was so rammed, I don’t think it would have been much fun – note to self, try again on a Wednesday afternoon. I’m sure I looked like a proper tourist more than once stopping to take a picture of some sparkles in the sky or on a tree. Or a reflection in a puddle. I can get quite artsy with this. Or obsessive. I’m on the fence with that one. And I have an admission to make – I had a proper Prosecco again. And it was nice. I think I might have a little tipple here and there again over the festive season.
Sunday has been super chilled, putting up decorations and making the first batch of Christmas cookies. I LOVE making them – my nan used to have a special kitchen in her house just for the holidays and it was fulled to the brim with tins each containing a different type of cookie. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m definitely working on that one. Oh and some more cleaning. I am dreaming of bleach and marigolds and mops at the moment.
And on a closing note, for a number of reasons, I do not feel all doom and gloom anymore. Still a little, but my mood since last week has most certainly lifted. This is as much down to myself as it is to other people and I am very grateful to those in my life who are able to lift me up when I feel so down.
Sorry beautiful people this one took some time to get out. For one, Christmas is just so busy there should officially be more hours in the day so we don’t have to constantly play catch up and I think I also had to recover from the parental visit a lot more than I anticipated. I’m joking of course! Well, at least a little. I have to admit, this visit went relatively well – after a few outrageous comments by my mum in the beginning. The below the belt, absolutely not necessary or appropriate ones unfortunately but then I really should be used to them by now.
Now the beginning of the week was spent cleaning, tidying, more cleaning and oh did I mention more tidying? Which of course was all for nothing because even if I douse the place in bleach my mother will still find something that escaped my efforts.
The reason my parents came over was an early Christmas celebration as my kids are with their dads this year. Our traditional Christmas dinner is a meat fondue which is absolutely amazeballs. My mum makes an egg salad sauce that especially my oldest can’t resist and I do admit it is pretty awesome, especially the curry variety. And I was very proud of myself this year for producing dessert. Not just any old chestnut, but an edible village with a cookie tree and little houses made out of genoise sponge and chocolate orange cream, dotted with gingerbread men. I am pleased to let you know it was indeed edible and actually tasted quite good, although it is not often I get asked by my kids if they can eat a house now.
With my youngest being seven, my kids don’t believe in Santa anymore and address their wish lists to me these days. Being the lovely Mama I am of course I delivered and I was so touched by their presents to me – some quirky London guides to hidden and unusual places. My guys just know me too well. I’m trying to not go overboard with Christmas presents, with two homes come two celebrations and I have no desire to engage in some unhealthy competition about who bought the biggest gift. I don’t think it teaches them the right lessons in life. And after all, that’s not what Christmas is about. At least it shouldn’t be.
I had to work Saturday night and I started feeling really rough (which manifested itself in a pretty horrendous ear infection the week after), so having family day on Sunday was just what we all needed. After homework and other boring household chores we raided the biscuit tins first before proceeding to prolonged siestas, only to reconvene on the sofa a couple of hours later for a take away and movie night. Sometimes doing not much at all is just what you have to do. Especially when it involves Chow Mein and Jack Sparrow. You understand, savvy?
Christmas seems to be coming around a little faster again this year – or maybe it’s just because I’m getting older and we all know old people are always in a rush and have no time for anything. So, in true form, I spend the week doing precisely ….. not much really. Not voluntarily though, mind you. By Monday morning, my feeling unwell from the week before had turned into a full blown being ill, headache, earache, cough the lot. Incredibly pleasant, especially at this time of year. Still, I dragged myself into work because I had moved heaven and earth (read: asked my boss) to change my rota because I wanted to see someone in the evening, which obviously did not happen. When you fall asleep mid-way through a pissed off conversation about your plans going tits up, it’s probably a good thing they did. To cut a long story short, I got a ruptured ear drum and an almighty ear infection in both ears out of this as well as most of the week off work.
I would have loved to be super productive in my enforced time off, but unfortunately throwing in antibiotics and painkillers, forgetting to eat, sleeping more than the cat and discovering all the weird stuff Netflix has to offer in the times between has been everything I was capable off. It wasn’t for a lack of trying but if you ever had an earache and sinusitis, you know it’s close in shittiness only to a toothache. Or the same. Both are insanely debilitating and mean and start to make you wonder if drilling holes in your head could be a viable alternative to traditional medicine to provide you with relief. One of the cutest things though – and better than any pills – is when your seven year old declares that he cannot go to school because he has to look after his Mama. I just love this little guy so much! Didn’t take him up on the offer though, much to his disappointment, and send him off anyway.
This weekend was no boys and I do admit it was blissful. Not that I was up to anything exciting but I do admit having an entirely quiet house can be an utterly soothing thing. Especially when your head feels like someone is taking a jackhammer to it. I think you got the theme of the week by now. I went back to work Saturday though, more because out of a sense of duty than because I felt up to it. It’s a little awkward when you are still pretty def but a great excuse to ignore most people around you and just get on with your own stuff. Not that I would ever ignore anyone on purpose. Ever.
Now, Sunday was nice. I felt up for a bit of an adventure so I fed my Starbucks addiction with a toffee nut latte and went for an afternoon walk around Kensington. Not the tourist filled main roads but the little mews and small streets hardly wide enough for one car. Pretty and peaceful and just what I needed. I picked my little guy up from his dad’s and unashamedly admit I was in bed by 7pm. Crowded by said little guy and the cat, but you know, that’s not bad. Not bad at all. Have a good week folks!
I really do not know how it possibly can be the week before Christmas but there we are. Last week of school, complete madness at work and I am still half def. Monday started rather good because I could take the day off and I jumped at the chance. I am still feeling pretty poorly and I have to admit it does worry me a bit how long it’s taking me to bounce back from this, normally I am back to my old self after a couple of days. An evening in on the sofa with cuddles from my boys and a movie is perfect for the soul though.
One slightly unnerving thing that has started to emerge over the last weeks is the fact that our cute little Thunder Cat is turning into a real boy. Now the occasional humping of my leg I can handle – and it amuses the smallest boy a great deal – what I cannot deal with is the spraying. Preferably on our beds and sometimes when we are in it too. So this week, we are off to the vet for a little pre-op check. Needless to say he is not happy but I am washing already enough during the week without having to deal with constant pee incidents and let’s face it, the smell is horrendous. Cat was not impressed by our little outing. Little does he know what is in store for him….
Thursday brought a little dinner outing with one of my dearest friends, my Budapest travel companion. We went to Tredwell’s in the West End, one of Marcus Wearing’s restaurants and oh my, if I ever find myself on death row, I might just call on them. Being the carnivore I am I had slow cooked lamb belly followed by a hanger steak (medium rare of course). Just beautiful. Not the biggest selection of booze-free cocktails but I think I have to become a bit more demanding on that subject and just ask for a special. Can’t be that difficult to throw some fruit juices together. Having said that, my quince and apple fizz was really delicious and quite refreshing.
To celebrate the end of school, we wanted to go on a little trip round London to see the Christmas lights but unfortunately that was foiled by oldest child being sick half-way through the day. No chance in hell was I going to put him in a car for a couple of hours. If you ever had to try and clean sick out of a car, you know where I am coming from. I rather let the cat pee on a duvet. He still managed the KFC in the evening though! I would bet money on the fact that he probably felt ill at the thought of a prolonged walk though. As Sunday meant delivering the au pair to the airport and boys to their dads for a week of peace and solitude, we had an early Christmas dinner on Saturday. You just can’t beat Yorkshire puddings covered in gravy. My forever guilty pleasure. Well, one of them.
Rushing around Sunday for hours to deliver everyone to their destination, it is quite a strange feeling to come home to an empty, quiet house. Kind of good, kind of daunting and a little bit sad. I’m glad to have Thunder cat to keep me company for the next week and luckily he is like my fourth child. He loves his Mama and wants cuddles all the time.
And the occasional hump but hey ho, we just look away for that one.
So here we are. The last week of this rather substandard year has been and gone. A week I spend entirely on my own. No children. No au pair. No friends. No family. No husband or partner. Just me and a half comatose cat because he had as little trip to the vets on Christmas Eve. It would be an understatement to say I was dreading this week for months. Spending the most anticipated family holiday of the year all by yourself is a little daunting. I’m kidding. It’s downright scary. Horrifying really and absolutely not where I thought I would find myself in life at my age. I do admit, whilst I enjoyed the peace and the chance to finally get some rest and for once not have to deal with the usual stress the holidays bring, there were the occasional moments when I felt utterly lonely. And yes, I had a few moments when I cried. The main thing though – I’m still here. I managed it. That is quite reassuring for the next year to come. If I can handle the season of holly and carols on my own, I’m sure I can do the same with the weeks and months that lie ahead. And to be quite frank, despite the few highs, overall this year has been remarkably substandard so it can only get better. At least one would hope so.
I have come to the conclusion that this new year, I will not waste any time of resolutions that never work out anyway. I will instead adopt the let’s put in a little more effort approach. For example, I can speak some Spanish but so basic it amounts to ordering food in a bodega and ask for the bill. There are however so many places in Spain I want to see, I want to make an effort to become more sufficient in the language too. Or baking. I’m a decent baker, but it’s quite haphazard and I stay within my comfort zone because success is ensured. So I would like to push myself a bit more. Try new things. And make my offspring happy in the process by being forced to eat the results of my efforts.
One thing I absolutely loved this week was going to the theatre, to see Ralph Fiennes in Anthony & Cleopatra. I love Shakespeare’s plays and although Macbeth has always been my favourite, this has been an incredible performance. It was a quite mild evening so I had a little walk from the Tate along the river to the NT and it really recharged my batteries. Another two things to add to my list of deserving more effort. Attending more cultural events – and maybe playing it a little less safe as so far I always seem to stick to the classics that I have already read and go out exploring.
Much love, marvelous people. Candidly yours, TC.