Sunday 31 August 2008

A Homecoming

MrsM cleans MissM's bedroom from top to bottom
and arranges her cuddly friends neatly on top of her bed.
MrM checks on the progress of the flight
and lays the table for breakfast.
Poppy sniffs under the bed to make sure
that there are no bad things lurking there.

Mr&MrsM get up very early.
MrsM picks a rose for MissM's bedside table.
MrM checks on the progress of the flight
Mr&MrsM drive to the airport - early -
because they MUSTN'T be late.

MrM finds MrsM a prime spot to watch the Arrivals
MrsM doesn't move because she MUSTN'T miss MissM
MrM goes to buy croissants for breakfast
because he knows that MissM likes croissants.
And all the time MrsM is watching and watching.

And then MissM walks through the double doors.

Mr&MrsM know that they COULDN'T be happier
because MissM is safe
and she is home
at last.

Saturday 30 August 2008

A Soft Opening

Custard Tart, Butterscotch Sauce, Garibaldi Biscuit

When you have invested a very large sum of money
and paid attention to every trivial detail
and tasted endless menu options
and carefully trained your waiters and bar staff
your restaurant is almost ready
for the grand opening.

Then, just for a few days, some lucky people
will be invited to help you make sure
that everything works perfectly
before it is open to the public.

This is a Soft Opening.

They will be the first customers
to admire the gilt ceilings and great globe lights;
to sink onto the soft brown leather benches;
to sigh with delight at the menu
and be enchanted by the friendly service.

Not everything will run smoothly
but that is not the point...
the people who have been invited
know that it is a huge privilege to be there
because they can remember when
it was just a dream.

Friday 29 August 2008

Cunning Plan #1

Hello Father and Mother

... having a jolly time here in Europe ...have now moved onto Prague which is rather nice ... Berlin was fun - saw lots of stuff...

Anyways, I am pretty sure that my bank account must be nearly empty can you inject an appropriate amount into it to keep me going for the meanwhile... I trust your judgement regarding the money!

Ok well thats enough for now so I will email you soon.

If you want to talk to me then call F's phone...

with love


(MasterM gratefully acknowledges his debt to Allan Sherman)

Thursday 28 August 2008

The Last Flowers of Summer

I had been saving these for a special occasion.

What sort of occasion deserves yellow flowers
winding through white fences,
bright against limestone?

I had thought it would be a day of heat, of deep shadows.

Now I realise that it is on days like this:
damp grey and with a chill wind

that I need to see these yellow flowers
opalescent in afternoon sunshine.

They will give me courage
as I turn my face to the autumn.


This post is for Mary, my friend,
who always sees the beauty around her.

Wednesday 27 August 2008

Zen and the Art of Vegetable Competitions

We went in search of parsnips but there were none.

We found beet, red carrots and blackberries
all beautifully displayed against white lace paper.

The anonymous gardener
has balanced size, colour and form

with the delight of an artist.

It is a reminder that beauty can be found anywhere

and that the most insignificant parts of our lives
can bring pleasure when given our full attention.

Tuesday 26 August 2008

...but Beijing was behind schedule...

An afternoon at the local agricultural show
is not a high stress activity.

You can admire the livestock,

be shocked at the low standard of baking entries,

eat a burger while watching Punch & Judy.

There are so many attractions that it is difficult
to know which way to turn.

A falconry display, a medieval stunt team
and the Centre piece of the Arena events:
the raising of the Olympic Flag synchronised with Beijing.

It can be very exhausting for a Lady Mayor.

Just when you think that you have seen everything
here is something to make you smile.

We will talk vegetables tomorrow.

p.s. half of these photos were taken with a mobile phone.

Monday 25 August 2008

We need to talk about Toes.

Scene: The Broad Face gastro pub in Abingdon.

I am listening to Jane Brocket.
It suddenly occurs to me that
I am more familiar with her toes
than I am with my own.

This makes me nervous.

I wonder briefly if I should redress the balance
with pictures of my toes,
resplendent in Courageous Red varnish,
frolicking next to my geraniums.

I think not.

Toes are a Yarnstorm trademark
and, anyway, I don't want to be recognised by my toes.

However, Jane is wearing patent black Birkenstocks
and I would like to draw your attention to the fact
that the ChezMagpie fashion police got there first.

Last year.

A Laughter of Bloggers

I was late for the party.
Not very, very late
but thanks to armed police on the motorway
I was late for lunch with Ali.

My first effort - too ordinary

When I arrived Kristina and Monica were already there
and so was Karen who does not have a blog - yet!
And so were Ali's husband and G, Kristina's huband
and the adorable Mark and Johnny.

G gives advice but it is so not my style

All you mothers of small children
who are on your last legs at the end of the school holidays
take pity on me.
I have been childless for the first time in many years
and now I could watch Mark skydive off his climbing frame
and Johnny seriously select his personal blackberry cupcake;
I could talk to Mark about Lego and admire his giant goldfish
and listen to Johnny chat to Treacle the Cat.
It was such a treat.

This one is just not appropriate

There were other treats too:
smoky blue quails eggs, candy pink watermelon
savoury filo pastries, homemade lemonade.
Thank you, Ali, for such a delicious lunch.

Later we went into Abingdon
to admire the town hall,
browse in the shops and then
to hear Jane Brocket promote her new book
at an event organised by Mostly Books.

At last! THE photo. Pass the cakestand - I want another!

The whole day was such fun
So much chatter and so much laughter
And delight in each others company
with people that I met accidentally
and can now call friends.

Sunday 24 August 2008

Saturday Morning

MrsM is Very Busy.

MrsM's List
Flower Arranging.

MrM is also Busy, Busy.

MrM's List
Catch up on Sleep
Honey for Breakfast
Read Papers
Decide What to Wear

MrsM starts to get cross with MrM
It is 8.15am and he has done NOTHING.

MrM decides to lighten the mood.
Option 1
Helpful Suggestions for Blog Posts
Option 2
Mentions their long lost Children
(This almost works)

MrsM has a Schedule and must not be distracted
because she has an Important Meeting.
MrsM starts to get Very Cross.
(Tone of Voice: FIRM)
She tells MrM he must do something Useful
by the time she comes back from The Shop.

MrM promises to organise a Map
of the Hundred Acre Wood.

Later MrsM is VERY grateful to MrM
for aforementioned map.

Small Contributions can be Crucial to the Objective

Saturday 23 August 2008

Letter to MissM

To: MissM
A Pineapple Farm,
Somewhere in Swaziland.

Dearest MissM,

You are such a modest person that this letter is difficult to write without making you blush.

MrM and I want you to know that we think you are A Star. In fact we don't just think you are A Star ... we think you are 10/10.

We wish you were here so that we could tell you how Amazingly Proud we are but that will have to wait until next weekend

In the meantime we have racked our brains for the most suitable gift and we think you will like it.

Here is a sneak preview

With all our love

D & M


Friday 22 August 2008

MasterM has been and gone

Wednesday Morning
MasterM flies into Terminal 5 from South Africa

Just for once there was NO laundry;
his suitcase was filled with clean, ironed clothes.
He was so proud of this that for a mad moment
I thought he had done it himself.
(Thank you, thank you lovely Faith)

We went out for a celebration meal and there was much to discuss:
the rhino with the biggest horn;
team selection for the Springboks;
the Santa Claus party;
business opportunities in Zululand

Thursday Morning
MasterM flies out of Terminal 5 to Germany.
He will be travelling around Eastern Europe
with 3 friends from school
staying in cheap hostels
eating cheap food
seeing a new world.

It is not his first experience of independent travel
but this time he organised it himself.
He was dismayed to discover
that he will need 5 different currencies;
he had thought he could use Euros everywhere.

As we drove to the airport he said
"I've just thought...
I don't have a Guide Book..."

and then he smiled and said
"I'm sure if there is a problem
I will come up with a cunning plan."

Thursday 21 August 2008

Carpe Diem


to quote MrM...

"You never know when
you will get another opportunity
to eat Spaghetti Bolognese Ice Cream."

Wednesday 20 August 2008

Blogs vs. Life

A dear blog friend sent me an email yesterday
and apologised for not commenting on my blog recently.
Her life has taken her away from blogging for a while.

I was really touched by this.
I have no expectations of my blog friends
- each time one of you takes time in a busy day
to read this blog I am surprised and delighted
- each time you leave a comment
it makes me smile and wish that
we could continue the conversation.
Thank you all for contributing to this blog
and making it such a wonderful part of my life.

I wrote back that it is so important to realise
that blogs follow life and not vice versa.
Your blog is your own space...
you can use it in whatever way gives you pleasure.
You have no obligation to write, read or comment;
it should be a hobby not a chore.
It is living life that is important.

There may be times in the months ahead
when I am not able to write so regularly
or to visit your blogs and enjoy your writing.
On those days please know
that I will still be thinking of you all.

When I first started reading blogs
I came across a lady called Barbs who lived in Texas(?)
She had a little white dog
and one daughter who had just got married
and another one who was having a baby.
I used to drop by regularly
and I admired her optimistic attitude.
She also published recipes
which were so far outside my cooking experience
that it was quite educational.

And then I lost the link...
but I often wonder how she is getting on.

And lo!
MrM saves the day - yet again!
A Chelsea Morning
and Barbs is doing just fine...
which is a relief.

Tuesday 19 August 2008

The Monkey and the Parrot

Here are three little girls
in matching floral anoraks
on a wet May Day in Padstow.
My sister D holds the monkey
and my sister B is under the parrot
I stand there wishing I could hold the monkey...

There are some days that stand out in your childhood.

Now, many years later, my sister B is a senior midwife
but she still remembers the weight of the parrot.
My little sister D has a successful business
and a gallery specialising in Cornish Art
not far from that Padstow quayside.

And me? I can't let go of that moment.
Oh! How I wanted to hold the monkey!

But I was the oldest and I knew
I had to be grown-up.

Monday 18 August 2008

A Customer Complaint

Dear Local Flower Shop,

I love flowers.
I really, really love flowers.
I love being given flowers

EXCEPT when they are half dead.

I am enraged that you could sell my husband
flowers with half the heads broken;
leaves so yellow that they smelt
and stems with mould on.
How dare you take his money.
If you were a food shop I would report you
to the Environmental Health Officers
and I would love to name and shame you...

The worst thing is that he bought them
to make me smile.
And it hurt me to tell him the truth.
But I didn't want him to waste any more money.

I have taken him on a tour of the local area
and pointed out friendly flowershops
which sell fresh flowers
rather than mouldy, smelly chrysanthemums
which are not fit for the compost heap.


Sunday 17 August 2008 another part of the forest...

...everyday life continues...

MrM tells me that I am a Socks Goddess.

Which is nice to know.

Saturday 16 August 2008

Ponta D'Ouro

MissM is going to Ponta D'Ouro this weekend
but MrM does not have a guide book for Mozambique.
Shock!! Horror!!
MrsM ransacks the Internet to get more information:

Languages Spoken
Portugese, Swahili, Makhuwa, Sena, Ndau, and Shangaan
So many years at school and she still can't speak Makhuwa

Local Currency
Mozambican metical
What is the conversion rate? Pounds to Meticals? Errr...


Getting there on public transport is time-consuming.
It is possible to cycle from Maputo using a mountain bike,
but be prepared to push your bike through 30km of thick sand.
If you get stuck someone will be along
don't stress to much.

MissM doesn't enjoy cycling

Things to Do

And keep an eye out for sharks

Is MissM fully insured?

What to Eat

Drink the local beer, 2M and laurentina,
which rivals that of world famous beers.
Also divulge (sic) in the famous Tipo Tinto Rum
which is locally produced and tastes slightly of Vanilla.
It goes best with Pineapple or Raspberry juice
which is available from the local market.

MissM may be able to teach MasterM a thing or two

Swimming with Dolphins

One hundred Inshore Bottlenose and Spinnerdolphins reside in the sheltered waters, and humpback whales pass through here in the winter months.They have taught us that there is a right time to swim with them and not, they have taught us that they are actually quite a lot like us, they too can be playful and funny, inquisitive and inspecting, they too can dance around...just like us! And of course, they can be cheeky, grumpy, aggressive and sneaky, yep… just like us!

It sounds pretty hectic in Ponta D'Ouro

We are so grateful to Tori and her parents
for giving MissM this wonderful opportunity.

Friday 15 August 2008

Six Phone Calls and a Celebration

It is early morning in London...

MrM checks his computer
and phones MrsM
and MrsM tells him to check his computer again
and so he checks his computer again
and phones MrsM
and then MrsM tells MrM to phone MasterM
and so MrM phones MasterM
and then MrsM phones MasterM
and then MrM phones his parents
and MrsM phones her parents
and we all gasp with amazement
and are SO PROUD of MasterM
because he has got straight As at A Level.

MasterM smiles and goes back to sleep in Johannesburg.
He knows how hard he worked
and how much he deserves this success.

Thursday 14 August 2008

A Sense of Humour Required

I wrote last week about my new job and now I would like to put that post into perspective.

I gave up work to look after MasterM and MissM and I never regretted a moment of the time spent with them as they grew up but one day, after 13 years, I went shopping and I was surrounded by retired people. I realised that if I stayed at home any longer I would become isolated and unhappy.

It could have been very hard to make the step over the threshold but on that day, the only occasion I have ever read the employment section in the local paper, I saw an advert which said:

Must enjoy the company of young people.
A sense of humour required.

After 13 years at home these were the only things that I knew I could offer an employer. It was just as well that it didn't ask for experience working with computers because I didn't have any. I didn't even know how to switch a computer on.

The job was Receptionist in the Medical Centre of a local University and it was perfect - part time, close to home and low skill. Through it I regained my self confidence and that was important because living at home with small children can change your perception of yourself. I also learned how to switch on computers.

I was a Medical Receptionist for 18 months. I don't think I could have stayed a moment longer because I started to get bored. It didn't matter - I had a reference and skills that I could transfer to a more challenging role.

My experience has been that it is possible to step over the threshold into a different world when you feel the time is right. You don't need to take a huge leap. Everyone has special qualities to offer - even if they are as basic as A Sense of Humour - and you will quickly learn new skills.

Don't ever, ever underestimate your potential.

Wednesday 13 August 2008

Facing Up To Reality

There comes a time when you have to let go of your dreams.

You have to accept that the moment for
the Greeting Card Designer has passed

That your children will NEVER
create a masterpiece with Blopens

And you can throw away the Glitter Crayons.

The Fabric Crayons might still be useful
... and look!! there are two packets
so they won't argue...

Hope never dies.