Happy Holi

Well today marks the first day of Spring. The Winter has finally come to an end and as I can see in the garden, life is reasserting itself. I am reminded of my first Holi (the Hindu festival of light), that I celebrated back in 2013 in Mumbai, just before the births of Amritsar and Tara. This year I was reminded of the Spring Equinox this morning by Raj, a friend from my time in Nepal. In return I am wishing he and all of his family a very ‘Happy Holi’.

Now not being in either India of Nepal, this years first day Of Spring saw me spend some time in the garden, in awe of some of the budding shrubs, beginning to loosen their tight grip on the new life and growth within, bursting to spring forth.

Last nights dinner was seafood once again. With the boiled potatoes left over from the children’s dinner, John and I enjoyed cod, salmon and shrimp with a very flavoursome lobster bisque, made with the shells of lobster, prawns and tomato purée that I had previously made and placed in the freezer.

Tonight’s dinner was somewhat more frugal. A simple bowl of Dal and 2 chapatti. Just me here tonight as John is visiting his mother Hazel in Dublin. She has not been feeling so well, so sending them both lots of love. It’s funny, when John is not here I either go for simple Indian ‘pur veg’ or a Cornish pasty! Both no no’s for Johns, a good Irish man, loving his ‘meat and two veg’. Though I do tell him that a pasty is just that, but he does not listen.

Everyone was happy here at home today. Caleb is now wearing pants in the afternoons and practicing his potty manoeuvres. Two pees and a poop! Good going Caleb. We also looked at photo prints that arrived today from ‘Snapfish’. You get to print 50 photos a month for free with the snapfish app and so far this year we have printed 150 pictures from my phone for free, just paying the postage. Rock on!

Off to bed soon, an early night. All is quiet upstairs, down here as well, the hounds are both snoozing. I love it when they are finally settled – the dogs that is. Well, come to think of it, everyone really. I am also worried a bit about Gracie coming into season. Given the hormonal intensity, Remus goes even crazier than his normal self, if that’s possible. But she is showing all the signs! Oh well, more tomorrow, though tomorrow’s full moon would mean that I am going to publish chapter one of ‘Eighteen Moons’ (my novel) on here. I hope you enjoy it… that’s all for now.

The Biggest Morels I Ever Did See

These little beauties, I picked from the bottom of the garden this morning. The largest morel came in at 14cm. Very large specimens that will prove themselves to being a gastronomic pleasure when it comes to the actual consumption. So, after a couple of hours in the dehydrator, these fungi, now dried, are residing in a Kilner jar at the bottom of the provisions cupboard.

Talking of the dehydrator, I have to add that recent weeks have given me time to concentrate on the production of candied fruits. My latest assertions are a long, long way from my earlier attempts, late last year. I am now producing world class confectionery using just pure fruit and sugar. Dadda’s Jams have truly extended the concept to include the most pure and elevated sweet treats on the planet.

I have just decided that ‘Dadda’s Jams’ will take a stall at the local village ‘Easter Egg Hunt’, so onwards and upwards!

Totally unrelated – but Caleb had a ‘Big Boy’ moment earlier and wore pants for the last hour or two before bedtime. When asked if he wanted to use the potty, he replied yes and progressed on to have a pee and a poo! Well done Caleb. Thor and Aaliyah have gone without an accident in months. The only way is UP…

The Week Begins Again

What with no sickness on Sunday, it was a return to normal this morning. Though the only outstanding casualty it seems is the screen of the television pictured above. On Sunday evening we enjoyed a roast pork dinner before bath time and bed. Aaliyah, pictured below, looks as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. But I fear we will have to keep a close eye on her mischievous misguiding’s.

Moving on, there was a parent teacher meeting at school for the girls today, so we had a picnic in the kitchen at 4pm, waiting on daddy’s early return at 4.30pm before a trip to the school to meet the girls teachers and see this years work books. Overall we are very pleased with their progress, well obviously! One of the fellow mums asked if ‘Dadda’s Jams’ was up for a stall at the ‘Big Easter Egg Hunt’ at one of the local villages, I said perhaps, so I will have to get back to her in the next couple of days and make a commitment (or not)!

I spent part of the day candying melon and kiwi fruit for later confectionery assertions. I will fill you in on that at a later date. But all is quiet now, John has drifted off to sleep on the sofa after a dinner of Argentinian Red Shrimp Thermidor with French fries and fresh fruit salad for dessert, consisting of, you guessed it, fresh melon and kiwi fruit. We go to bed contented and happy the quarantine of these last few days is over and our lives have returned to normal.

Happy Days!

The Lock Down Continues

7.30am here and most sensible households are just waking up on this sunny Sunday morning. On the other hand, everyone here have been dressed or dressed themselves twice already in their new clothing purchased yesterday. Breakfast has been had (dry toast for Aaliyah), John has hoovered the living room floor and he has taken the bin / recycling up to the bin area and finally, Aaliyah’s bed has been stripped and remade, due to another outbreak of ‘The Tummy Bug’. The pile of stinky bedding awaits its turn in the already full washing machine. Caleb is yet again attached firmly to Daddy’s lap. He’s holding on tightly.

I have just been reminded that it is St Patrick’s Day! SO ‘HAPPY ST PATRICKS DAY’ TO EVERYONE.

The television is on and the sun is reflecting off of the screen. I am reminded of Aaliyah’s destructive behaviour of yesterday. The entire top third of the screen was scratched deeply with a blunt pencil. It’s almost unwatchable and the deeply set scratches are really off putting. Tara wants a new TV. Aaliyah had a very good talking to once she was ratted out by Thor. I pulled up a chair and had a really stern talking to her when she spent the 20 minutes on ‘The Thinking Chair’ yesterday just after the incident. She has done the same to the Aga fridge and the Aga label on the cooker itself was broken and snapped in half by her mischievous hands. She knows when she is being naughty and always says that she wants to be good, but there is never any true remorse, the cycle just repeats itself. Anyhow, 8.00am now and a full load of washing to put out. Lets hope there are no more gushes, only dry toast for Aaliyah today. She does look sorry for herself now, but that’s just the tummy bug. Updates to follow.

A Year Ago Today

I woke up this morning with thoughts of Venice in the back of my mind. I felt compelled to look back at my camera roll and guess what? One year ago to this very day, John and I were hurtling over the lagoon in a water taxi, destination ‘The Hotel Danieli’ in Venice. The above Canaletto image sits on the wall in our living room. Well, at least a Fake, hand painted copy of the old master does. This image of the Doges Palace and St Marks Square, as seen from the lagoon, actually pre dates the building of the Danieli! The world famous hotel was built on the far right hand side, in the space occupied by the three smaller buildings, flanked by the two slightly larger warehouses. Today the two larger buildings are also part of the hotel. We were lucky enough to have a lagoon facing room in the larger building on the right (first floor). Yes, I can actually see the double windows where we enjoyed such an amazing view. Whenever I see our copy of this famous painting, I always remember our visit, immortalised in oil paint. You kind of feel personally connected with it. Anyhow, one year ago to the day, that is where we were. The 5* restaurant is located on the roof of the other larger building on the left of the hotel. There is an amazing outside terrace, though on our visit it was wet and cold I remember. We dined there one night – bloody hell it was expensive for what you got, over €300. But that is Venice, the food was good, not great and the prices were brinking on extortion. We did read a review that mentioned that you should not look at the prices. Just eat and enjoy, just pay the bill and not to worry until you got home about how over priced even the most basic restaurant food was. Breakfast was also served in the restaurant. I nicked a really cool ashtray from the terrace on our final morning, just after breakfast. It was freezing and on the cusp of snowing (I believe there were several inches of the white stuff back at home). The ashtray is used outside on our terrace now and that also connects me to that scene in the Canaletto painting. Yes, one year ago today…

The ‘Surrogate’ talk

The girls and I started the conversation about their surrogate a few weeks ago when we unveiled their baby pictures that were entombed within the old hard drive from my dead Sony Vaio laptop. It wasn’t until today at the dinner table that Rehanna was mentioned again. We promised ourselves that when the children were old enough to ask questions, we would be as honest as possible. Tonight we continued the conversation about babies and the tummies that they grow within. Yes, the girls are aware that it is only women that have the ability to grow babies in their tummies and that their two dads are most certainly not women. The conversation was light and enough was included to make no secret of the special way that the girls came to us. Rehanna was our surrogate in India and is certainly part of our story. The clinic who created our embryos using our ‘Dna’ and the anonymous egg donation, paid the surrogate about 35% of the overall fees, a significant and life changing amount, equivalent to several years wages in India. Today the girls got very inquisitive about their origins and brought up the name Rehanna. I was open and used the word ‘Surrogate’ to describe her participation. The girls are very aware that Daddy and Dadda planned to have children and that babies grow inside a woman’s tummy. It takes three elements to make a baby! Even if you are a regular couple, an egg, some fertiliser and a tummy. In the case of a boy girl couple, clearly the girl adds twice, but in our case, a third party initiated the element of the tummy. To be honest, I didn’t imaging having ‘The Conversation’ quite yet, but questions need answers and today we answered just a couple of those questions. I certainly don’t want any animosity or feelings that we had held back the truth to our children in later life. Thor and the younger twins surrogates were also mentioned by name, Ausa and Susheila. I thank all three of them from the bottom of my heart. I would also like to add that all three women already had children of their own. Our full uncensored story, ‘Eighteen Moons’ is available through Amazon Kindle.

P.s. I have mentioned that I will share the story of how we came to be through this diary. So, if you did not want to purchase the book in its entirety, I will be publishing a single chapter at andiwebb.net each month on the day of the full moon here in the U.K.