9 Things My Mother Taught Me (And That I Wish I’d Listened To)

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1) Don’t worry what people think (the people who matter don’t mind, the people who mind don’t matter, etc. etc. etc.)

2) Drink hot water and lemon before bed….no, its not the same as a fab cuppa Yorkshire but…

Apparently lemon clears skin – the vitamin C component flattens out wrinkles and blemishes (not that we have the latter or the former ever) and rejuvenates skin from inside the body. Lemon also has antibacterial, antiviral immune-boosting powers, it is also a liver-cleanser (undoing those Proseccos hurrah! and is a general digestive aid, ie: you don’t scoff during the day.

 

3) Don’t brush curly hair. Just don’t. Unless you want to look like you are wearing an old, backcombed wig that has been trussed up in a plastic bag then put on your head.

4) Save up and buy something you really, really like that is made of nice stuff.

5) Not to make plans unless you are absolutely sure you won’t regret it later. That goes for generic dinner plans and date plans.

6) Be discerning, always.

7) If in an awkward situation/doubt anything in any way, smile and be polite then make a mental note not to agree to see this person/go to said event again.

8) Be aware of everything and never assume (a wise man told me assumption is the mother of all mistakes).

9) Know that most things are always “exciting” (I quote my mother) and if you look at the world this way, I can promise you it will never go grey.

 

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Wintry Snippets of Home/English Countryside – Nostalgic Already

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Why Love Actually Is Actually The Best Christmas Film

Billed as the “ultimate romantic comedy”, Love Actually is one of the films we watch intentionally or unintentionally with popcorn/mulled wine/hot chocolate around Christmas. At the very least it will be on in the background once this festive season, I bet my baubles.

Ponderings/reasons we love it…

  • We’ve all experienced that opening airport moment where the feeling of joy/sadness/belonging soars above and beyond most normal moment
  • Prompts you to wonder, a) what is Martine McCutcheon up to now?
  • b) how the little lovesick boy got so tall and how he ended up on Game of Thrones?
  • A moping Liam Neeson in cosy, long, sleeve GAP tops
  • Why does Darcy get cheated on by a fluey, half-naked wife-vixen?
  • Where do Emma Thompson & Liam Neeson find those beautiful, homely, food and flower-filled London homes?
  • Colin Firth makes running away from reality/your problems to a foreign country OK
  • When Colin Firth is in France and the lady who welcomes him says:

“She cannot speak French, just like you” – Erasmus Flashback

  • Haven’t we all accidentally done the awkward double-palm, grin wave that Hugh Grant bestows upon inconvenient colleague crush Martine in an effort to flirt?
  • When Liam Neeson casually meets Claudia Schiffer in the school corridor after the Nativity play – make mental note to be yummy mummy

HAPPY WATCHING

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How To Be The MOST Christmas

9 ways to show your fellow commuters & colleagues you are ready for Christmas

1) Sellotape tinsel to your face for instant Christmas effect

2) Have a wear of a Rudolf Christmas onesie, perhaps in between meetings at work, to make other colleagues smile and know you are the most ready for Christmas

3) Sew a traditional Christmas chipolata down your face so that people will think you are the most Christmas when they are having a look at your face

4) When someone next to you on the tube is reading or listening to music, remove headphones/take book and sing instead to fellow commuter who is ready to enjoy your Christmas carolling

5) Manoeuvre via elvin twirls as you make your way from the bus to the tube station/office instead of dull walking

6) Perhaps there is a delay and you are surrounded by fed up commuters who look a) angry b) tired c) grumpy d) anxious. What better way to lift their spirits and remind them of Christmas than scattering fake snow on the bus/tube floor, where bits may even settle on said commuters hair or, even better, eyelashes causing Christmas cheer

7) Wear a plastic red nose and (cover the elastic band with your hair) to show you are the most Christmas

8) Produce hand-painted crackers to fellow commuters for them to take to work and know Christmas is coming

9) Put flour in your hair and a red Christmas hat on your chin so that from upside down people will think you are Father Christmas

How have you been the most Christmas?

Good luck!

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10 Reasons You Know You Live With An Italian

As you may have heard, I’m back from Italy but have not completely banished all things Italian from my life. Living with an Italian, I wanted to voice a few things that make me chuckle, that would just not happen if that person wasn’t from outta town.

 

1) He/she will make you do a double take when they ask:

 

“What is?”

 

     and lean in curiously to listen when you explain it’s one of the below:

 

a) toast and butter

 

b) poached egg

 

c) eating a mince pie

 

2) When he/she informs you that said poached egg in Italian is translated as

 

‘egg in a white shirt’

 

3) Making a cup of tea means for most of us, well, making a cup of tea. But for some people it means popping a tea bag into a pan of tepid water and just waiting what happens.

 

I know.

 

4) You will learn you can never eat enough Nutella. On, everything that will allow a knife near it.

 

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5) You will learn delightful and moreover, useful new words in Italian, such as:

 

‘mullet’, (caschetto)

 

6) London is and will forever be a foreign land, which means that most visits near Camden result in picking up either

 

a) a laminated picture of a red bus

 

b) a laminated picture of a red telephone box

 

c) a laminated picture of the Beatles crossing Abbey Road, you know the one

 

7) Fish fingers from Iceland are a special treat

 

8) Having to explain what the word ‘treat’ means

 

9) Prefers to watch football with a bucket of popcorn rather than a beer

 

10) Instant coffee is unheard of, the most unheard of, and is cast away from the kitchen faster than you can say when is your Dolmio day?

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5 Must-Read Books!

If you haven’t already devoured them…

I love the weight of a new book in my hand and the scent of fresh pages. I love the airy stillness of a bookshop, and the shiny new covers of bestsellers or old classics on tables near the front door. People are respectful in bookshops, delicate as they take the book from the shelf and place it away. People don’t bombard you like in every other shop in the world…

‘Hiya what can I get you everything alright let me know if you need anything,’

then a moment later:

‘Hiya what can I get you everything alright let me know if you need anything,’

(Ok I know they have to.)

But we are losing this culture, and according to statistics only a measley third of all consumers buy their books in bookshops, the rest online. Bookshops are being disastrously plucked from the high street, and I think it is quite sad, for I know the next time I go back to my local town up North my childhood  bookshop may be replaced with a grotesque, gleaming pile of dirty hair-bobbles, socks and polyryrinethyroestrine lounge trousers, (aka, Primark.)

So here’s to a cosy Christmas with some recommendations:

1) The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

International bestselling romantic comedy, it is warm-hearted where the protagonist encourages us to see the funny side of our own often incomprehensible behaviour.

2) Stoner by John Edward Williams

This vintage classic has been dubbed as ‘the greatest American novel you’ve never heard of.’ Stoner has been described as ‘anti-Gatsby.’ Its prose is austere, the book perfectly constructed and is essentially a mesmerising account of one man’s failure. It is dusty with sadness but will weigh on your mind long after you’ve finished it.

3) The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

This is a fabulous tome, vividly weaved together and at times unbearably moving. The intricate details picked up by the narrator will resonate within the reader, the protagonist wandering into your mind and tugging at your soul.

4) Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann

Ok, a little more of a summer than winter read but all the more reason! Dripping with a Great Gatsby-esque glamour, there is murder, sex and mystery in 1950’s New England. Magnetically delivered through the eyes of five characters.

5) Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood

The tempestuous genius that is Ernest Hemingway had four wives. This novel portrays their lives, enticing, mysterious and often heart-wrenching. We are drawn behind the curtain of his lives and the absurdity of the fact that Ernest could not help proposing to his mistresses.

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The rather suggestively dubbed ‘Pornstar Martini’

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– Prosecco (little buddy in the shot glass)
– Passion fruit
– Gin
– ‘Penash’

They may look far too summery and deceiving in this droning winter, but once you’ve escaped the pulse of commuterdom (whether in New York, London or Paris) they are a lovely if unoriginal choice.

So step down mulled wine and soggy cinnamon sticks (that just get in the way).

As Shakespeare the very man himself famously said:

It is a known thing that a martini maketh merriment

Back To London: Face Lift Friday!

No! Not a real one. Just a bloggy one. Less exciting and life changing but still important if you ask me. If I ever do have one I will certainly turn it into life-changing literature, which I’m sure it would be. There is a … Continue reading

How To Save A Life – You Heard Me

“Imagine yourself strolling by the River Tiber…”

There is a moment in every person’s life when they save the life of another. That time came somewhat prematurely for me one morning whilst living in Rome. You’d think dogs were the easy part of the whole au-pairing deal but you may want to think again.

Imagine yourself strolling by the River Tiber, which chases its way through the city. The late September air is cool and the colours are spicy in the morning, an early sun pouring like honey over the water. It is a pretty abandoned and quiet place down by the river. If it wasn’t for the light and peace it is possibly Rome’s ugliest secret. Additionally, the long and looming Tiber is apparently rat and chemical-infested.

I know.

However, I might mention at night it is a glowing beacon of romance: lovers stroll down the bicycle path lanes, weaved into each other’s arms. It is a place to fall in love, fall out of love, or in my case, fall in the river.

It all happened incredibly fast, as horrific moments do. One minute the dog and I are walking companions. The next, the lead had whipped out of my hand and I spotted a golden head bobbing in the middle of the spinning, grey current. The drowning thing was being relentlessly pushed down stream. I bolted parallel to the river, bumping into a balding, old man. The dog disappeared from view, I asked him if he had seen a floating dog and he said something about the presence of rats creating an underworld of disease on the riverbed.

“The beauty of Rome was peeling away”

Thanking him for his useless response, I sprinted further, noticing buildings around me become more gritty and skeletal. The beauty of Rome was peeling away. As would, I thought, the familial affection the family had for me when I returned with a soaking, dead dog in my arms.

“It all happened incredibly fast, as horrific moments do”

After what felt like a hundred years, I caught sight of the helpless animal, now a yellow smudge in the water. I clambered down the banking of the river and fought down through the steep shrubbery to come level with her. Far down from the pedestrian path, I grated away my voice box screaming her name and, like some bizarre force guiding her over, she reached me.

At that point, I was balancing on a small, godforsaken stretch of ground, slippery from damp. Grabbing the dog as she crawled towards me, I remember laughing, digging my nails into her damp fur in anger, utterly exhausted. The foolish creature looked at me, ears pitched forwards, large brown eyes incredibly soft.
It took a few minutes to realize that not only was I several feet from dry land, but apart from the stupid, sodden dog and gushing river, I was completely alone.

Perhaps night would fall and someone, a week later, would come across a white, frozen corpse with a dead dog clasped in her arms.

My only choice was to yell repeatedly “C’è qualcuno?-Is there anyone there?” at the top of my voice, until some unsuspecting stranger came to rescue me.

Quite to my delight, this unsuspecting stranger came in the form of a rather handsome student who was crossing the bridges. An unshaved, well-dressed figure stared down and gave me a careful and puzzling wave. After seeing the dog collapsed at my side, I think he realized the situation and not that I was just chilling out down there. He waved a phone in my direction and, still a little uncertain as to his heroic plans, I acknowledged him and waited. We talked a bit actually and were we face to face, and I a little less blackened with mud and resembling Mowgli from The Jungle Book, I may have been in the state of mind to flirt – visions of chilled wine in a hazy piazza.

 “Were we face to face, and I a little less… .resembling Mowgli from The Jungle Book, I may have been in the state of mind to flirt – visions of chilled wine in a hazy piazza…”

Fast forward twenty minutes, I heard an “Oi!” coming from the river. A large dinghy full of large, bearded men was bobbing towards me. I waved to make sure they absolutely saw me and didn’t diverge off towards other potentially marooned dog walkers. Before I knew it, I was beside them, dog in tow and grateful that my chiseled saviour had been intelligent enough to call the fire-brigade.
We lumbered off the dinghy at a remote building and following behind I wondered whether to hug them? Gather them round the family’s dining table so we could all celebrate the rescue with prosecco and pizza? Honestly though, I wanted to mutter a quick thanks and leave.
The dog and I were treated to a rather harsh (I thought) spray down with a hose (wasn’t I soaking and humiliated enough?) They thought I had, in my insanity, jumped into Rat River. To top it all off, rather cruelly, I was made to trundle the couple of miles home, damp and weary.

 “Rather cruelly, I was made to trundle the couple of miles home, damp and weary…”

The following morning, the children’s father called me into the kitchen waving several newspapers, telling me about a girl leaping in the Tiber to save her Labrador. With the details of my name and age wrong though, it could have been anybody.

How Not To Get A Date

I had a treat yesterday afternoon as I took the dog for a walk. I’d left the house shortly after dropping the children home and noticed, after about ten minutes of walking towards the bridges near the house, that a smartly dressed man was following me. When I stopped for a moment he swooped over:

(In Italian)
“Do you know by any chance where Largo Argentina is please?”

“Oh…” I started to point in the correct direction (he knew where it was).

“Sorry – ” he interrupted, “I only wanted to speak to you.”

Cue rolling the eyes moment. Ladies, it happens a lot. If you have two breasts and a face, it is more than likely these men will find cunning ways of intervening into your life in the most light-hearted and annoying ways.

He then asked where I lived, how long was I staying, clearly – from the moment I began to answer his pitiful question – he knew I wasn’t Italian.

Before leaving he said:

“Will I see you again?”

I wasn’t sure what I’d slipped in that would suggest this. I then noticed, as the fateful Gollum did upon meeting Frodo that he was wearing a ring. A WEDDING RING.

He must have thought I was born yesterday.

The Signorina rolls her eyes