I generally feel a hefty stab of guilt whenever I have a whinge here, partly because it might seem as if I am begging for virtual cuddles (and actually, I think I am) but mostly because I am starkly aware that I have nothing to moan about.  My life is peaceful and blessed, yet somewhere out there, hearts are breaking.

So, I feel… fraudulent. I’m still going to whine, you understand. I’m just not wallowing in it quite as much as usual.

Firstly, Harry has suffered a sleep meltdown, initially triggered by my bringing him to sleep with me last month when he was very poorly, and compounded when he was introduced back into his own cot upon getting over the worst. Harry has never been a fabulous sleeper, but latterly he’d got to the stage where he went down like a lamb at bedtime, and was sleeping through from 7pm to 6am, 3 nights out of 4, say. His daily nap was a little protesty at first, but generally long. The nights when he did yell, though, he tended to keep wailing on and off all night, often resulting in a bleary parent extracting him for cuddles in the rocking chair. [If you listen carefully, you will hear the sound of sleep gurus everywhere screaming No! NO! Fer the Love O’God! Not Cuddle Extraction! Maximum Danger!]

Harry was Mightily Unimpressed with spending the night alone back in his room, poor lad. I got arsey about the noise and disruption and decided that this problem boy had to be Tackled Once And For All and insisted we Get Tough. Weissbluth extinction: bring it on! I’m particularly fed up of not being able to travel outside our own (isolated, detached) home because of his sleep/screamy issues. 

Hah. Well. Since the end of last week, as a result of this method, Harry’s sleep confidence has deconstructed entirely, and he has screamed like… like… like a seethingly angry toddler, that’s who. His rages culminated all this week in at least an hour’s solid, full-on ululating protest at bedtime, and another 2-3-4 hour marathon session in the small hours. Naps became a 30 minute whimpering doze.

Secondly, John and I could not agree on a concerted technique to handle it.  Lest I make it sound as if we sat down and calmly discussed the matter: we did not. Acrimonious hisses about Giving In and Always My Turn became a blazing 3 day row. As is the nature of matrimonial rows about one topic – particularly when both parties are exhausted and stressed – it broadened in scope after a day or so of frost, and Very Hurtful Words were said.

Thirdly, this resulted in me getting shockingly upset and mortally offended (I have no idea what Hubby felt, but I expect he coped, as he’s good like that) and consequently managed to develop a headache that actually elicited proper whimpers of pain from me at one point.

And still the child screamed.  

Oh, and the internet connection started to play silly buggers, too. I was alone. Alone, dammit!

Might I remind you that this all occurred after a fortnight in which Harry fell into the stinging nettles, grabbed an electric fence, got whacked hard in the mouth, had a rotten virus, and his poor little tongue rotted away into raw meat?

I veered between feeling sadly sorry for myself (stressed, headachey, sleep-deprived and spousally-wounded) and sorry for my child; tormented with guilt that my poor little boy was suffering miseries because he wanted to be snuggling close to me, and I was selfishly denying him. That little voice of reason piping up that, Cough! Actually, Harry has never co-slept, merely co-rampaged… ummm, yeah… hard to hear clearly when it’s 4am, the clamour’s been going since 1am, and the parental duvet is being yanked back and forth in a silent, leg-lashing huff.

Anyhoo… the tough technique is doing… something. He yelled a fair while at bedtime, but slept through all last night. This restorative has repaired our collective marital sanity sufficiently to actually patch up the rift. He went down promisingly for a nap at 11am today, but after a few quiet minutes some uncharacteristic-sounding whimpers (and I’ve heard ’em all lately) turned out, upon investigation, to be the result of a cataclysmically (I use the word advisedly) dirty nappy, trousers and cot-sheet. Way to go, son! He yelled for 15 minutes at bedtime tonight – a distinct improvement – and has been quiet since. We shall see.

Just to ensure I give you a full picture of the week’s stress at Hairy Mansions, I felt my left uterus start to twitch and pull in a way I was pretty sure I recognised the night before last. I am 10 days past ovulation, or vaguely thereabouts. However, I think I managed to scare any prospective inhabitant off nicely, as I managed to send my pulse above 170 at the gym yesterday, merely by jogging for a single minute, and I haven’t felt a uterine twinge since. The peesticks – on which I can always see lines generally not visible to the naked eye – say no, too. I am not surprised, and, on the basis of my current fatness, rather relieved. Deliberately beginning pregnancy at 15 stone is a very silly undertaking, believe me. I finished the last one at 15st 7lbs, and was embarrassingly unable to reach my own bottom with loo roll for the last fortnight of it.  

While I am on the topic of things that make me mildly embarrassed: I asked John to find me a comfy saddle this evening (my [ancient] bike currently boasts a thinly-padded razor blade) so that we can go cycling this summer. Heady breezes, weight-loss, summer scents, happy toddler, wild flowers, country lanes, etc etc. The first four words of the item he has located for me made me wonder, sadly, what (accurate) search terms he must have entered.

Mind you, as long as it does what it says on the tin, I don’t care. I need the exercise. I have just re-started myself at the gym, having gained a FULL STONE since the start of December, when I was determined to, you know, lose weight. I’m so angry with myself! I can lose this weight – once I get going. I know I can, because I’ve done it twice before. Of course… that fact in itself does rather tell you something about my lifestyle and the way I feel about food. Easter! Chocolate! Sigh.

On a vaguely related note, thank you enormously for all your fabulous-looking recipe suggestions. Many look promising. It’s not until the first Saturday in May, so the fact that I haven’t collected A. Single. Thought. about the event yet hopefully doesn’t actually matter.  

Yawn. Beddy-byes time. I hope you’re all well; my inbox and blog feeds are quietly reproaching me. Tomorrow…


Ok, Innernets. Wifey needs assistance.

I host a murder mystery dinner party, most recently for charity, for 11 of our closest local chums (yes, we cheerfully sit down 13 to dinner) at about this time of year. It is the one night of the year that I actually attempt Cuisine. Last year I succeeded in getting Harry babysat for two solid days in a  row, and hence served

Entrée local asparagus spears & poached quail eggs in homemade puff pastry boxes with leek puree

 Main roast lamb, roast pork, yorkshire puddings, roast parsnips parmesan, new potatoes, potato dauphinois, steamed cauliflower, carrots julienne, peas

Dessert trifle, white & dark chocolate raspberry tarts, individually decorated cheesecakes

 Cheese & Biscuits

 Coffee, Handmade Petits Fours, Chocolate Truffles & Mints

I decided against a fish course and felt a bit of a cheat so I will re-instate it this year. 

In 2007, I made the mistake of forgetting precisely whom I was feeding, and stupidly served a starter of terrine of 3 goats cheeses with pine nut salad and a beetroot sauce-type thing. Our farmer pals are, by and large, not foodies. They are strictly (lots of) meat + (lots of) carbs, preferably good solid potatoes + (lots of) veg + no funny business, please. Goats cheese was, sadly, mostly a lil’ way outside their comfort zone.

This year, the following factors apply:

  • My budget is considerably lower than last year
  • I will likely have rather less preparation time
  • I am bored shitless AND stressed by the prospect of cooking Yet Another traditional roast dinner with taties+veg. The saucepanage involved is horrendous, and although I have a double oven, my 4 sealed rings aren’t up to much.

I have to simplify things a little this year, and have decided to serve Roast Absolutely Nothing. 

  • I will do chicken breasts, thigh fillets or quarters (depending on how the budget holds out) in a (fairly conservative) cooking sauce of some kind, which I will bake in my largest oven dish. 
  • New potatoes hold their heat well and can be cooked in advance & kept covered, ergo, they’ve made the menu, too. My dauphinois is universally popular, but I can’t be arsed this year. There’s a recession on, so all that double cream’s practically immoral.
  • I can cope with bunging Bird’s Eye’s petit pois into a saucepan & turning the heat up while John serves drinks, as with this particular vegetable, frozen is pretty tasty. I refuse to serve any other frozen veg.
  • I am serving homemade soup for a starter, as that’s simple to re-heat with the rolls while everyone laughs at each other’s outfits. It’s a costume-charactered murder mystery, didn’t I say?


  • Hubby was, of course, the bearded lady at last year’s Psycho Circus. Our 6ft 4″ (+wig) clown worried 8 month-old Harry considerably. 
  • I am pre-preparing a cold dessert assiette, as this is my favourite part of the meal and I have recipes backed up to the moon I am dying to try.

So! What I really really need from you, oh wondrous innernets, are your tried-and-tested, tasty-but-not-outlandish recipes for

  • nice little fishy nibbley things, preferably salmon, that I can bung on a few salad leaves, or the like for a small fish course. Farmer happily recognise salmon. Suitable for pre-preparation in the morning, cling-filming and fridging. 
  • veggie/side dishes to complement a chickeny dish, new potatoes & peas. It is imperative that I can cook these in advance. The dish must either be happy with being kept warm in my hostess trolley for 4-5 hours (which by no means everything is, I’ve discovered over the years), be microwavably reheatable without hogging my microwave for 15 minutes, or be delicious served cold.

I wish I could promise you a taste of the eventual dish, but all I have to bribe you with is the vicarious pleasure of photos of us crammed into whatever ludicrous costume this year’s mystery dictates. I haven’t bought it yet, let alone re-written it for 13 characters and cast it. 

And now I must go, before the child eats the bird nuts.

Flogging a Dead Horse

You may remember me telling you about Harry’s (usually, but not always, nappied) bum bouncing mercilessly on my poor head in the mornings. 


I have taken to lying nose-down lately. My shoulders or skull take turns suffering his joyous battering, depending on which way he is facing: if it’s a good point in the CBeebies schedule, he thumps triumphantly on my head and watches the TV at the end of the bed. If it’s the national embarrassment that is Big Cook, Little Cook, he boings happily away on my shoulders.

I think I am beginning to sustain brain damage, and tomorrow he may have a surprise coming.


Pass the Whine

  • Harry’s ulcers are better, for a given value of ‘can eat soft foods without crying’ as ‘better’. He was given a shortbread finger yesterday by a well-meaning friend, who was startled to see it emerge after a while, half-chobbled and thoroughly blood-soaked. His gums are still bright red and his breath could knock out a troll at 10 paces.
  • This is what his cot sheet looks like after a night of dribble-diluted ulcer bleeding.


  • The Delightful Doctors Next Door returned from holiday yesterday and were promptly waylaid by me plaintively recounting the full tale of Harry’s woes. Apparently the GP told me a Big Fat Porker. I had specifically asked about paediatric ibuprofen suppositories, and she said Didn’t Exist. Apparently they do. Bah!
  • While we were animatedly discussing this, Harry reached up higher than we thought he could reach, and grabbed the tape of the horses’ electric fence.
  • He had barely recovered from the misery this occasioned him, when he toppled into a plastic crate, which flipped up and hit him in the mouth.
  • This is what my top looked like after his battered gums and front teeth had finished pouring with blood. His clothes and my face & hair caught most of it.


  • If I told you how often I have nagged John to bring up some fencing materials to toddler-proof a small patch of lawn outside the kitchen door, you would be just as bored with the topic as he evidently is. I took a risk at teatime and left Harry playing free-range on his new slide while I scuttled just inside the door to put his sausages on. He immediately wandered towards the hedge and fell into some stinging nettles.
  • I bought him a new slide last Friday night


in order to cheer him up after his illness. The first thing he did Saturday morning was fall off it and bruise his back.

  • I have not bothered to list all his thumps and bumps this week. There have been so many, I can’t remember half of them, but he is a constellation of bruises. I am so frustrated and miserable about his endless run of shitty luck that I could scream. In fact, I have.
  • John keeps telling me we have No Money, are spending more than he earns, and that my going back to work would be a Good Thing.
  • He keeps looking at new camera lenses on Ebay.
  • The speech therapist has postponed our next appointment to the middle of April. Harry is 20 months tomorrow, and still isn’t saying a single bloody word. His peers are starting to use sentences. Please don’t tell me about your son/daughter/friend’s nephew/lady down the road/Einstein who didn’t start to talk until they were 23, as Harry might just be the one who is Different.  He understands plenty, and that will have to content me for now.
  • He is still toppling over a lot. Some days he is much worse than others, but he’s a little more balanced than he was.
  • On Tuesday he bit his little playmate’s finger. Hard. She cried for 20 minutes. My mortification knew no bounds.
  • Yet he always looks…


 as if butter wouldn’t melt. 

  • He has been excessively cuddly and kissy since he has been ill. I could absolutely eat him up.


  • According to the LH peesticks, I ovulated the night before last. We have had sex. I now think this was a stupid thing to do.
  • According to my EWCM, I ovulated over a week ago, and consequently all of John’s sperm will die horribly in any event. So, no worries.
  • Have had random musings regarding a great new conception/fertility technique involving holding magnets next to chaps’ balls. If sperm could be polarised, then you could put a magnet either in your knickers or in your pocket, depending on which way you wanted them to head. Clever, no? 
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