A couple of pics I just put on Instagram (hahahahaha)!

Plus a couple that I did not! I definitely think that bloggers are a more discerning bunch! Don’t you?

The day has zipped by. Homeschooling nightmare this morning as with every Monday morning. It’s not like we pressure the children to do all four exercises. If we get through two of them, I’m happy. Thor was once again very close to expulsion.

Blazing sun in the garden this afternoon, so I managed an hour or two’s sunbathing whilst the not so famous five played on their screams, sorry screens!

A ‘mock roasty’ chicken dinner with deep fried potatoes, cooked chicken in gravy and broccoli was just enjoyed by us all as a family in the kitchen. It’s getting better you know! Mind you, Caleb did flick me with a piece of chicken breast. It stuck to my clean white tee shirt. I was not impressed! I gave him ‘the look’ so hopefully it won’t happen again.

Sat on the terrace now, they are quiet and in front of the television. John wanders around me with a work related phone call.

A red kite, of the bird variety has just swooped down on an unsuspecting pigeon at the end of the garden. And it’s gone, just a pile of features lay there in homage.

Some screaming, must go. I think that Tara has fallen out with Caleb. Oh dear.

My Audiobook is Complete

This evening marks the completion of my novel Eighteen Moons, with the recording and its conversion into audiobook format! The talented voice of actor ‘Angus Scott’ takes the tale of my journey into parenthood and brings it to the exciting realm of audio. The story is now available to a whole new audience, this does sound strange, an audience of people who don’t really want to read. That can’t be right can it?

I have to add however, that listening to an audiobook makes it easy to just switch off completely, close your eyes and be totally and utterly transported to a different time and place! There is no easier way to walk with me on the ill fated (yet so rewarding) journey that I took into the realm of parenthood.

I will update this post in a couple of days and supply a direct link to the various platforms where the audiobook of Eighteen Moons will be available.

I have to say that I am quite excited. And I would like to thank Angus Scott for making this possible.

One Day at a Time

Wise words from a lovely reader. You know who you are! Hahahahaha.

With a partially restored Mojo, I hope all is well out there today? It is a Sunday and although I do not participate in religious goings on, there is the sound of hymns being sung on an unwatched television. Caleb and Thor are tinkering away on their screens and the girls are running ferrell in the garden. Hide and seek was being enjoyed! That is, until we couldn’t find Tara. Now found, she has just lead her sisters on a big bug hunt!

There were upsets yesterday regarding the netted bug house (a bit like a mini bird cage). Tara had taken Amritsar’s bug house from her bed without asking to borrow it! Some major screamies ensued. Anyhow, moving on. They are now playing with it together (nicely).

Today’s picture is of Amritsar playing a very early-years game of peek-a-boo. That’s kind of like hide and seek, isn’t it?

The dogs are a bit more settled now, due to the fact that they have both just eaten. Their mealtime has moved ever forward in the day to 11am. It’s an ongoing thing. You see, they’re on a 23.5 hour daily cycle, basically meaning their dinner gets earlier and earlier in the day, due to their constant whining to be fed. By the end of the summer they will no doubt be eating before they even wake up!

Oh! My notifications on my new Instagram account has just told me that I have my very first follower! Hoorah – I am in business! I have a following on Instagram of one! Woohoo!!!


I did actually participate on the insta-app a year or two back. I even had a few followers. But I gave it all up when I realised just how much time I spent on there. And with nothing to really show for it, I finally deleted my account. But this morning, I thought a new beginning! And rather than revive the old account, I chose to start afresh. And I now have one follower. Whoop-de-doo!!!

Right, there is luncheon to prepare, so I will get back to this later today! But for now, I thank you, as ever, for reading. And thank you kind people, for your uplifting comments yesterday. You know who you are!

Good Moods Bad Moods


Yesterday I chose to silence any attempt at words. Without going into detail, my mood took a bit of a nose dive in the mid afternoon.

Thinking about moods, emotions and all, I realise that the majority of time at home, I remain impartial! I do wonder if that is a coping mechanism. It’s not just with the children, but the dogs drive me both up and then back down the walls! However, I think that the dogs constant and needy demur keeps me from being an emotional rollercoaster! I have to always remain impartial as to what goes on around me.

It’s hard to act like I’m in a good mood when I have to be the voice of reason around so many minor tantrums, rants and raves. Sometimes it seems that the children only ever ‘want’ Dadda, when one wants another to be told off. Well that and anything to do with their next meal!

A bad mood on the other hand is just the drawn out ricochet of being upset isn’t it? Thankfully there never seems to be the time to dwell on things for too long in this house. The good or indeed the bad.

Moments of appreciation make me feel happy. Moments like when Thor storms over and grabs a leg and holds on tightly saying loudly ‘I love you Dadda’! But the happy mood does not have time to linger as someone is sure to start yet another rant or begin screaming about something or other within minutes.

So I remain impartial mostly, in these time of family lockdown.

Outright Revolt and Outright Outrageous

10.10am and we are still having trouble getting our not so famous five to do their school work. We managed to get Amritsar to read 5 pages of her ‘Swallows and Amazon’s’ novel! Yes, she is now reading novels at 7 years old! Tara on the other hand has chosen a David Walliams book ‘First Hippo on the Moon’! But she has now retreated to her tablet in the dining hall, looking like she thinks I can’t see her!

Thor and Caleb are refusing to wear anything bar their underpants, simply refusing to get dressed. Aaliyah is also sucking away on her fingers merrily. We have asked her to wear a woollen glove these last months! But any chance she gets, she slips it off for a sneaky suck. It’s an ongoing thing!

The lessons still sit on the kitchen table awaiting some enthusiasm. I will have to come back to writing today’s post in an hour or so and let you know how things go. Wish me luck!

(An hour later…)

OMG, that was a real struggle! Namely Thor screaming because he could not draw unicorns. But Aaliyah’s unicorns were perfect. An oval, a small circular head, four stick legs and a little horn! Caleb persevered, so a jelly baby for him also. I bit my lip! Was today going to be the day of Thor’s expulsion!

Amritsar and Tara applied themselves to their maths questions, though I helped Tara so much, I may just as well have filled in the answers myself and claimed the credit (and the jelly baby)! But I know, that’s not supposed to happen, is it?

Thor finally settled down a bit and scribbles for unicorns had to be accepted as effort. He got his jelly baby.

We have normally (though nothing is normal at the moment) managed to keep their attention for something just shy of an hour. Today we might have clocked up 25 minutes.

On a slightly unrelated matter, John’s parsley plants arrived this morning. Consider that the supermarket sells fully grown parsley plants at £1.25, John tells me his 2 x parsley plants cost £3.50 each! I am now sounding like one of the girls mathematics questions (oh dear)! Okay, eBay has done it again! Negative feedback is on its way. Some people are unscrupulous, outright outrageous in fact!

Happy Birthday Mum

Jean Eve Paradise was my Mum. She had three boys (Paul, Brandon and me) and a daughter Shae. Today is the 14th May, her birthday. My mum passed five years ago this coming September. She is missed very much, but we always remember ‘Grandma Jean’ with colour and theatrics. She was in the movie ‘Charlottes Webb’, an extra in a number of scenes, but a few closeups in a few scenes too. She also acted in a number of commercials in Australia. The main one being shot in Melbourne for a national jeans brand ‘Just Jeans’. Odd that her name was also Jean. Well today would have been her birthday and today’s photograph is of a pink orchid. Something I would send her every year on her birthday. She loved the colour pink and she adored orchids as they are beautiful and have a good shelf life. One year I broke the model and sent her yellow tulips. She was horrified. She called me and inquired ‘why would you do that’? I had to apologise and swear that it would never happen again…

I miss you Mum. You are fondly remembered.

Late in The Day – What Can I Say

The children’s dinner just done! Daddy tapping away at his laptop. Gracie snuggled on the sofa besides me. Remus nowhere to be seen. Thor and Aaliyah sat opposite on the other sofa looking at daddy’s iPad. Thor shouting very loudly. Good shouting, he is happy and talking about ‘Jelly Beans’! Aaliyah looks to be in a good mood. She turns to Thor and smiles. ‘I’ve still got 11%’ she says. Must be the battery charge on the iPad. All I hear from outside in the dining hall is the theme tune to ‘My Little Pony’. However it is Tara looking on and enjoying the episode on her tablet. Aaliyah certainly has lead the crew to embrace that show. For me however – giving me a bit of a headache. Amritsar and Caleb are sat close to Tara, watching on contentedly. Now Amritsar is coming in here to plug in her tablet and watch something different. The television has thus remained silent all day long!

Remus is in fact inhabiting the spare room. I think he is thinking of it as ‘Remus’s Room’ nowadays. Ever since his exile from Daddy and Dadda’s room, he has been hanging out up there, like a moody teenager. I think that he finds the relative organised chaos of the children a little too much sometimes. Gracie on the other hand still loves Aaliyah’s occasional hugs, at least one every hour! So she generally stays close to the family hub.

I am just thinking, I have completely forgotten what day it is! That’s bad isn’t it?

Weather not great. Still grey, though a few moments of sunshine today.

Oh! Look whose just swooned into the living room! Remus! Now what does he want I ask myself!

Thor has just asked me to video him! Just why, I really don’t know. He is a funny boy!

Thanks for looking in.

A Spontaneous 2 Minutes

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Daddy and Dadda’s Dinner

Is it that time? Has a week flown by already. Not that this is s Tuesday thing! So, how was daddy and dadda’s dinner(s) over this past week? Sadly no Indian cuisine, so that’s definitely gonna have to change over the next few days!

Now, John is your classic Irishman. He loves his meat and two veg. And looking through this weeks images. He’s clearly getting what he wants. Even the Thai Massaman curry is laden with spuds. Lol

Lamb Shanks, boiled potatoes, mangetout and a red wine jus.

Beef Massaman with basmati rice.

Rack of Lamb with garlic green beans, creamy mashed potato and a red current gravy.

Lightly smoked Salmon with potatoes and sugarsnap peas.

Gammon Steak potatoes and stringless beans.

Filet Steak, garlic beans, mushrooms and triple cooked chips.

Irish Sausage, mash and peas. Lucky John! But I have to add, I enjoyed this weeks menu also. And what’s on the menu tonight? Roast leg of pork! More meat and two veg (maybe three). Hahahahaha…

Dadda’s Cocktails! The Summer Berry Daiquiri

And guess what? The only thing you need is one of Dadda’s Jams! And there are so many to choose from!

Now here’s the deal! To your blender, add a good slug of dark rum. Add a similar volume of lime (or lemon) juice and maybe 10 ice cubes. Finally complete with 2 large dessert spoons of Dadda’s jam. In this case, summer berry. Blitz until a sorbet like consistency is achieved.

Put your feet up and relax.

Jellof Rice of West Africa

Today’s morning lessons sent to us from the children’s school were initially embraced with loud screams from the little ones and downward looks and silence with the girls.

This isn’t going to be easy I mutter to myself. Right! Divide and conquer I think. The first class I gave to Aaliyah, Thor and Caleb.

We firstly look for the number ’11’ around the kitchen. A game to see how many times we can spot 2 straight lines sat next to one and other. The screams soon settled into a hive of excited wonderment. Okay, I then mistakenly start them on the girls (year 2) ‘geography’ lesson and we look at foods from around the world. A lot of countries were covered, many foods were thought of, quite a few from their experience of Dadda having actually created them for their dinner in the past.

We ended up in SubSaharan Africa. Now this memory takes me back to the time that John and I met. As well as designing for a clothing company just north of Soho in London (Noho), I also worked late afternoon in a hostel for young homeless people. I was their evening dinner chef. I had to pretty much forget everything that I had learned at catering college and research the wonders of international cuisine. This was partly due to the hostels embrace of multicultural London.

I did in fact re-educate my knowledge of Indian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican, pretty much all cultural foods! Yes, including the Caribbean and some west African wonders.

I befriended one of the hostels staff members Dora. Herself from Ghana and a very keen cook. We spent many hours cooking, just as West Africans would have done. Traditionally meals would be cooked in a pot above a fire, later on a gas hob. I learnt spicy meatballs (with corned beef), served with hot tomato sauce, groundnut stew with chicken. Sardine omelet and a west Africa staple, Jellof rice.

I loved Dora’s surname! I believe it is a popular name in Ghana, Dora Owusa Ansah. That is such a great sounding name. It is a poetry of sounds to the ear. She was a lovely woman.

After not having cooked these dishes in years, today’s ‘geography’ lesson took me right back. The children and I talked about this great dish and I promised to make it for lunch.

The dish is flexible as different family’s all have their own recipes. So this is my take on this amazingly tasty dish of Africa. I have updated the simple one pot cooking option to make it my own. I am going to use a frying pan to cook the spice out with the meat and onions, but I will be using the microwave to cook the dish to perfection.


Meat (your choice)


A Tin of Tomatoes

Basmati Rice


Spices (feel free to experiment)

I remember Dora just chose what was available. I thought about the flavours I remembered and came up with:

Dried coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger, chilli (dried or fresh), paprika, celery salt and a little season-all.

You want your meat tender, so you could cook it in advance. Stewed beef for instance. Chicken is ideal. Just cook it in a frying pan with your spices first. Oh! And I finely chopped some cooked garlic mushrooms, just because they were there! My meat choice today was bacon lardons from the fridge. This is a main course meal on its own. But this is your party so play around… Frozen peas!

Cook your meat with the spice. Add your chopped onion and continue to cook until tender. Add your tinned tomatoes and cook a further 10 minutes.

Place in a large microwaveable bowl with your rice and about double the volume of boiling water. Season well. Place a lid on your bowl or use a plate to cover. Microwave on full power for 10 minutes then carefully stir the contents. Cook for a further 10 minutes and recheck the contents. At this point most of that flavoursome cooking liquid should be absorbed by the rice. If not, cook a further 5 minutes.

Very carefully remove the bowl and empty the contents into a baking tray with plenty of room. I do this in one fail swoop. Baking tray on top and flip over. Your rice should come out with ease and look like a solid block. Break this up with a fork and pull clumps out to the side of the tray, allowing the rice to become more flaked and separate. A lot of steam, so be careful. Once you are happy there are few clumps, serve.

My crew went wild for the extremely invigorating taste and moorish texture of this most famous West African comfort food ‘Jellof Rice’. Not a single grain of rice remained on any of their plates.

Lazy Saturday Afternoon’s

Tara and Thor watching the new Trolls movie intently. Bloody £16 just to rent. I guess with no cinemas it came straight to Amazon.

Aaliyah watching ‘My Little Pony’ on her tablet.

Amritsar sat on the sofa glued to her screen.

Caleb has just downed his screen and skipped out to join Daddy on the sofa on the terrace, smiling merrily to himself.

You know the problem with writing a diary entry like this? The setting is continuously evolving!

Earlier, we all enjoyed a lunch of beef chilli con carne (just who made up that name?) with rice and I am about to prepare a pesto pasta salad for them with chicken and ham for dinner.

There was talk earlier about cornering Caleb and giving him a trim, but a bit late in the day now, perhaps tomorrow.

Very warm outside but I believe the temperature is set to drop significantly overnight by around 10 degrees (centigrade). So, no garden tomorrow sadly.

Aaliyah is now cavorting over the sofa, she does that quite a lot. In fact it’s one of the reasons that we started her at gymnastics class last year. Though she chose to stop the lessons way before the lockdown, she has said that she wanted to restart them as Tara began to show an interest. Then Amritsar and Thor also showed an interest! Thinking about it, I really can’t imagine Thor doing a cartwheel in a skin tight leotard! Perish the thought.

Very quickly, on the subject of Thor, he has just removed his trousers and underpants after going for a pee and sustaining a ‘miss fire’ all the way down his right leg. Oh dear. Better find him new attire.

A bit later now and our not so famous five are sat with daddy partaking in a family ‘Zoom’ video-call to Dublin. It’s cousin James’s Birthday you see. The cats choir have just sung happy birthday, not one of them singing in tune, including daddy! It will be an uphill fight to get them all singing at a later date! I think the Von Traps need not worry.

Okay, dinner to sort out as the video call has just finished. Amritsar now shouting loudly for ‘a snack’! Really, come on guys – the amount of times they do this just before a meal!

Thor’s New Hair Do!

I hear there is a new hairstyle going around in the world of lockdown hair salons called the ‘Sinead O’Conor’ Like many of you out there, we purchased a pair of clippers. Not quite a Sinead, but I thought that Thor’s new ‘Jarhead’ looked pretty smart! What do you think?

He is such a smarty pants!

Caleb Enjoys His Lū’au

You just might have seen that Caleb is feeling just fine this afternoon in the afternoon sun. He slept well last night, not a peep and hasn’t flinched or grumbled all day, what with the preparations for our long overdue Lū’au.

Sadly the one remaining inflatable palm tree and the crocodile have been broken by, yes you guessed it, Caleb. He doesn’t quite realise that taking a bite out of these things will break them. Maybe there is an irony regarding two broken arms in this last 13 months! Yes the number 13, unlucky for some it would seem!

Seriously though, as you saw on this afternoons Lū’au video, he is feeling fine. Still a little too ballistic for my liking. One has to constantly shout for him to be careful and it just goes in one ear and out the other!

Anyhow, our dinner this evening of home made Hawaiian pizza for the children was enjoyed. Pepperoni and anchovy for me, and just pepperoni for John. A tasty treat and yes, I did make the pizza base!

Ito Eats at Our Lū’au

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We Remember VE Day

11am 8th May 2020 – we remember the countless lives lost in WWII. 2 minutes of silence to acknowledge the end of the war in Europe 75 years ago.

Mind you keeping the little ones quiet was quite a battle with ‘shhh’ then ‘shhh’ and ‘shhh’ as they all piped up one by one except that is for Amritsar.

Thank you to the allies who fought alongside one another to fight for our freedoms! Those freedoms we seem to take for granted today! Lest we forget their sacrifice.

Caleb is Just Off to Hospital with Another Broken Arm

Caleb broke his arm whilst playing on Tara’s bed. Just a little over a year ago now, It was April 18th 2019. I was so upset. He came downstairs holding out a horribly contorted left arm.

One hour ago today, Tara and Caleb were playing on the trampoline in the garden. Today is 7th May 2020. He has just come in from the garden, holding out a horribly contorted right arm. Another break. It looks terrible.

John has rushed him to the hospital. I have just taken the other children up to bed. I am sitting at the kitchen table, almost in tears. I just poured a gin and tonic. I must now wait for John’s phone call, then his and Caleb’s return.

Not the end to the day that I had been expecting. Sorry for this less than happy blog tonight. The photo is of him last year, the day after breaking his arm. I will post a picture of this new break in the morning. I really hope he is not in too much pain, he was screaming rather a lot. And of course I am slightly worried about Covid-19 being present at the hospital.

I can hear Tara crying upstairs. I had better go up and see how she is taking it. I’m still not too sure of what actually happened. Thank you all for reading.

This new photo (below) is Caleb’s new ‘fracture’ look on opposed arm! Oh dear…

Dadda’s Strawlime Berry Jam

9am this morning saw 6 x 320ml jars of Dadda’s Strawlime berry jam sat in the steamer, sterilising away merrily. Now sat in the provisions cupboard alongside a few of Dadda’s classic combos, the likes of Bluecherry berry and Melango jelly.

This classic combo is super easy to make and sets itself apart from your regular strawberry jam, leaving a ‘plucky’ flavoursome zing on your pallet. Okay, let’s get Jammin’.


750g Strawberries

350g Apple Pulp

150ml Lime Juice

1kg Sugar

25g butter


Prepare and rinse your strawberries. Add the lime juice and strawberries to a heavy bottomed pan on a medium heat. Pummel with a potato masher, but leave a few chunky bits. Boil for 5 minutes then add your apple pulp. Cook a further 5 minutes, then add your sugar and butter. I usually avoid using butter. Though it helps reduce the scum that clumps at the side of the pan. Strawberries do generate a lot of froth (that’s an odd word isn’t it)? Stir occasionally to avoid any burning at the base of the saucepan. However there is relatively little pith. Your mixture will become ruby red and velvety in appearance. Cook your jam on a rolling boil for 15 minutes. Don’t forget to stir every now and then. Skim at the end of the cooking time. Quite a bit of apple pulp in this recipe and believe me, it is needed as strawberries yield a lot of juice. You never want your jam to be runny and liquid. The apple pulp will guarantee a good gel. As I said there is a lot of bubbles / froth with this jam. But the butter will help solve this problem. Your kitchen should be heavy with the heady aroma of strawberries and limes. As ever prewash your jars, jam funnel and ladle in your dishwasher. Fill your jars carefully and finally re-sterilise in a steamer or pan filled with boiling water (with a lid on please), for around 20 minutes. Simply bliss on a piece of buttered toast.