Andi and John Gay Dad’s to appear on a new Channel 4 show called Britain’s Best Parent. Channel 4 Thursday nights at 8.00pm. Our episode is number 3 (of 5) to air in the UK on 11th June.
Andi and John Gay Dad’s to appear on a new Channel 4 show called Britain’s Best Parent. Channel 4 Thursday nights at 8.00pm. Our episode is number 3 (of 5) to air in the UK on 11th June.
With lockdown here in ‘The Shires’ being slightly lifted on Monday of next week, as with the rest of England, our three little ones will be returning to school. Just reception year is going back, along with years one and six. Tara and Amritsar’s year two will be waiting for September to go back and their start into year three.
They will both continue with homeschooling until the end of the term. Now, to be honest, the girls have embraced schoolwork from home, albeit at various levels of engagement! The three little ones however, oh dear, they have resisted! My oh my, how they have resisted. Thor has been the main disturbance at 9am, each and every Monday to Friday!
I was so gratified when I realised that this week was actually half term, so no school work. And they are back to school proper on Monday.
Today’s visitor was Sindy, our nanny. We had spoken earlier about the purchase of new art stuff, hand sanitisers, cagoule, various stuff for the children to bring with them to school. Well, Sindy has gone to the shop and purchased most of what was needed and dropped it over today, just after lunch.
The children all rushed over and gave her a big hug! She is coming back to work from Monday, so socially distancing from the children seemed pointless at this juncture. It looks like some things will look rather normal as from Monday. I believe that two more weeks down the line and non essential shops will also be open and people allowed to try and get on with life, though still having to socially distance as much as possible!
I cannot really fully comprehend, things will start to return to normal! Though still with many restrictions of course.
I last returned home from the outside world on the 6th March. This was 11 days before the school sent the children home with snotty noses and asked us to self isolate. That was 6 days before lockdown was implemented on Monday 23rd March. On Friday 21st May, in 3 days time, I will have been at home, not going out for 12 weeks. Just one 30 minute trip out of the garden to run in the woods that lie beside house around 3 weeks ago!
With Sindy’s return on Monday morning, I am going out! Wow, I can’t wait. I’m truly excited.
Thank you for reading. And good luck with your own tentative steps out into this strange new world.
Tonight sees another instalment of Daddy and Dadda’s Dinner! Bon Appetite.
Sea Bass with brown shrimp, sugar snap peas and a wine and cream sauce,
Roast Lamb, potatoes, green beans and cauliflower.
Lobster Bisque, Red Shrimp, boiled potatoes and fine green beans.
A Salmon Curry with rice.
Nut loaf, bubble and squeak, with tomato sauce.
Prawn Tom Yum with fine Noodles.
These last weeks of lockdown have seen very fine weather here in ‘The Shires’. The birdsong at times seems almost deafening. Cloudless skies have shimmered above and the blossoming, the flowering of a myriad of plants have enchanted us. Summer has really come around early. Beneath my feet lies amass of wisteria confetti. I sit underneath the parasol on our terrace, at midday, the sun too hot for even this seasoned sun worshipper and I smile.
Two of the girls, Tara and Aaliyah play on the swing beneath the shade of our large Canadian Oak, spinning away like crazed harpies. The merest of zephyrs brush lightly my face and my arms.
These are the Summers I remember from childhood. A village called Banwell in the shire of Somerset. Back then, as a child, not a care in the world. Lazy summers and the happiest of families. I think back and I smile.
We are the sum of our memories aren’t we? For our children, before life makes its mark, daddy and dadda bequest this basis of happy, summertime memories, for them all to forever behold.
I miss those wisteria blossoms, now underfoot. But I look at these seeds of tomorrow’s endeavours. And I smile.
Aaliyah is panting loudly, just like a dog in fact, misting up the glass door to the garden. Tara is hiding beneath the large red acer on the terrace. Amritsar is moaning about something Aaliyah said over 10 minutes ago. Thor is hanging around, close to the trampoline. Caleb, bless him has just finished counting to 20. Already he’s saying ‘I can see you Tara, I can see you’. Caleb’s counting is really coming along. He actually counted to 30 earlier on today. ‘I’m not playing’, pipes up Thor. Moving on, now Aaliyah has just popped her head out from the large, flowering rhododendron bush at the bottom of the garden. Amritsar is shouting at everyone!
Yes, this is their post dinner attempt at ‘hide and seek’ in the garden. Not their best attempt at this game I have to add. So, Daddy has just decided to say ‘let’s play big bad bear then’?
Oops, Caleb has just stepped in dog poo. There’s always gonna be one that was missed on the daily doggies poop scoop in the garden.
Now a few baby wipes later, we’re back in action. So, what’s happening now?
Amritsar has just said ‘Daddy, I did a handstand’! Tara and Caleb are loitering under a tree. Daddy has just stopped proceedings to do another sweep of the garden for dog poo. I guess ‘big bad bear’ is off for now. Aaliyah is shouting ‘I don’t want to play any more’ and has just stormed inside to snuggle up with Gracie on the sofa.
Do you remember the movie ‘The Omen’? Thor is now riding around the terrace in circles on the small bicycle with stabilisers grinning to himself! Thankfully we are not indoors on the top landing, me fiddling with a light fitting!
I look up and see that the rest of them are all playing what seems to be the ‘Hokey Cokey’ now. At least Amritsar had stopped screaming at everyone!
I think it’s time for bed.
I was struggling to find words to sum up the numbness of a Sunday dominated by screen time. 5 little zombies sitting in a row. However, Just now the children all decided to venture out into the garden, albeit 10 minutes before bedtime. And all I can now hear are the screams of laughter and joy as I write this!
Dadda’s Jam. Well, what can I say! Did you know that I was secretly writing a book? Maybe you read that diary entry when I explained that, or maybe you did not! It all started last autumn when I completed my second book, ‘Thirteen Moons More’. I thought to myself, well what next? Oh, I had better just explain that ‘Thirteen Moons More’ is a follow on from my original book called ‘Eighteen Moons’, the story of how my amazing family came to be. It is the non fiction account (timeline) of our struggles to become a family, fighting both bureaucracy and prejudice in both Britain and India, then onto Thailand and Nepal.
‘Thirteen Moons More’ is an edit from my first 11 months of keeping my diary. Essentially a time leading up to our youngest three fledging the nest and starting school. Within that time 13 moons passed. This is the story of just who we are today! ‘My Big Crazy Family Life’ in a nutshell… Oh! That also happens to be our Instagram name!
So, what was Dadda going to do next! Of course I continued my blog, but within its posts I began to get Jammin’ on a regular basis. So to all intents and purposes, Dadda Get’s Jammin’ was born. A recipe book on jam making and preserves unlike any other! When is a recipe book not quite a recipe book? You will find out a little later on.
Not only are my recipes on thoroughly modern jam making going to be present, but also my thoughts, a little wit and a good slice of my family’s day to day, crazy goings on.
Last October saw my first official jam recipe appear on my blog, ‘Ginger and Spiced Pumpkin’. And since then, every now and then, I have sneaked in the occasional Dadda Get’s Jammin’ slot. So, hopefully before the next ‘Spiced Pumpkin’ season is upon us, I will have enough material to edit and sculpt into my third publication! And you don’t have to think too hard regards the name.
Dadda Get’s Jammin’ of course.
Today’s mouthwatering treat is inspired by a recent post, Summer Berry Daiquiri. But this time rather than add the well set summer Berry jelly to the daiquiri, I’m making the jelly into the daiquiri. Another inspired combo is born.
1Kg Summer Berries
200g Apple Pulp
150ml lime Juice
2 large shots of dark rum
Sterilise your jam jars, ladle and jam funnel in your dishwasher.
Amass you’re summer berries or, as I did, open my 1Kg bag of frozen mixed berries. The bag contained raspberries, blackberries, black currants, red currents and blueberries.
In a large saucepan add your lime juice, apple pulp and your berries. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Cook for 5 minutes.
As this is a jelly, you will need to pass the fruit through a sieve at this point. Discard the pith and add the juice/pulp back to your pan. Add your sugar and boil for a further 15 to 20 minutes. Don’t leave the room! Stir occasionally. Your jelly will start to show signs of a set when the liquid starts to fall in clumps, not drips. The mixture will become more velvet like in its appearance. I think that I have told you this before!
Not too much apple pulp in this recipe as black currents and red currents have tons of naturally occurring pectin. You may remember that I do not use shop purchased pectin in any of ‘Dadda’s Jam’.
Splash or splosh in the booze and stir.
Carefully ladle your jam into your jars and close the lids tightly. Re-sterilise in a large saucepan, covering the lids with boiling water or place in a steamer for around 20 minutes. Then leave to cool.
When jam tastes this good, enjoy it on warm, buttered baguette as soon as humanly possible!
I always seem to be standing on my feet! The time is 3.20pm and I have just decided to sit on the sofa. That would be a first time for me today.
Tara, Thor and Aaliyah are playing on the trampoline in the garden. Caleb and Amritsar are indoors watching their iPads intently. Aaliyah seems to have amassed a pile of plastic toys from their room and just plonked them all over the other end of the sofa. Now bored with whatever she had been doing earlier, I can hear her screams outside as she jumps around with her brother and sister.
I have just pushed the clonky looking objects to one side with my foot, allowing space for Gracie to get up and lie beside me. So, she jumps up, but rather than snuggle up to me, she snuggles up to the awkward looking pile of Aaliyah’s toys. Gracie really does love Aaliyah as Aaliyah loves Gracie very much. Now in the little space remaining, Remus has also jumped up, squashing me uncomfortably into the corner. I will have to get up now as it’s far too uncomfortable.
Remus is a very devoted dog. I do love him very much, for all of his whining. We all love our dogs, don’t t we?
I would like to finish this post with a few words to a lovely lady, Margie. And that is that I do hope her loving and loyal friend ‘Hank’ (the dog) gets better soon as he is off his food and is booked in to seeing the vet tomorrow.
Woof woof from Remus and Grace. We hope you get well soon Hank.
Thank you all for reading.
Watching this classic movie on the television tonight, I was reminded of a small video that I made a year ago or so! I loved the original 1960’s version also! Though my short video made me smile. I hope that it brings a smile to you also. I thought it was a funny 40 seconds! Welcome to my Midwich!!!
A late update today! What a wonderful day was had here in ‘the Shires’. The sun has beamed down upon on us all day long. At present our not so famous five are playing chase in the garden with daddy, who is presently counting to 10! I guess he’s on it then! Lol
Nothing has really happened, just a really lazy day.
A barbecue was enjoyed earlier, consisting of burgers, sausages, corn, fries and coleslaw. And bedtime awaits once ‘big bad bear’ completely tires them out.
Thank you for stopping by.
This morning at breakfast Aaliyah was playing up and Mrs Snodgrass was mentioned! I have not spoken of her for some time now. Mrs Snodgrass is a fiction. Or is she? We don’t threaten the children with the ‘thinking chair’ any more, but the occasional muttering of the legendary Mrs Snodgrass generally has the desired effect. Be good or you might just end up at ‘Naughty School’! There is one other character that has appeared within our family history and that is Mr Strickland. He runs a summer camp for naughty children who act like babies! Again, he has not been mentioned in quite a while.
Thor got quite screamy at dinnertime tonight and threw his dinner on the floor. Tara and Amritsar piped up ‘Call Mrs Snodgrass Dadda, call Mrs Snodgrass’. I pretended to dial a number on my phone ‘Mrs Snodgrass’ I said.
We smiled. Remember that Mrs Snodgrass is a fiction. Or is she…
Morning sunshine spilled through a window as Aaliyah rolled over, too tired to open her eyes. She and her brothers, Thor and Caleb, had been up all night. Again. Dadda had told them over and over to be quiet and go to bed, but, as usual, Aaliyah snuck out of her bed, knocked on her brothers’ bedroom door, and they began to play.
This lasted until after Dadda fell asleep. This continued until long after the moon rose, and only when the birds started to cheep, cheep outside did Aliyah and her brothers run back to their beds and try to fall asleep. But an hour isn’t enough sleep, even for a young child.
And so, Aaliyah moaned and groaned as Dadda knocked on her door. ‘Rise and shine, Aaliyah’, said Dadda. ‘It’s time to get ready for school. I’m waking up your brothers too, and we’re going to eat breakfast in ten minutes. Get ready!’ Aaliyah said, ‘Yes, Dadda’, but she sniffed, snorted, and snored. Aaliyah wasn’t getting up anytime soon. Or so she thought.
Suddenly, she opened her eyes, and Dadda was looking down at her. ‘Wait a minute’! he said. ‘You have dark bags under your eyes. And look, your slippers are by the door and not your bed. And what’s this? A toy in the hallway. I think someone was playing with her brothers last night and is too tired to go to school today’.
Aaliyah moaned and groaned. ‘But, Dadda, we had to! We couldn’t fall asleep, and so we had to play for a while’. ‘All night’? said Dadda shaking his head. ‘Boys’! Now Thor and Caleb came stumbling into the room half-asleep. Both boys’ pajamas were wrinkled, their hair stuck up, and their tongues hung out like little puppies.
‘These boys didn’t get hardly a wink of sleep’! Dadda said. ‘All right enough is enough. I’m calling Mrs Snodgrass’. Aaliyah shook her head. ‘No, Dadda, you can’t’! ‘Oh yes’, said Dadda. ‘I can. And I will. I have no choice! Dadda marched out of the room, determined to fix the problem. ‘Mrs Snodgrass’? said Caleb. ‘Who is that’?
Aaliyah and Thor turned to him, both looking pale and wide-eyed. ‘Haven’t you heard of Naughty School, Caleb’? said Aaliyah. ‘Mrs Snodgrass runs it with an iron fist. She whips children, puts them in dungeons, and makes sure they’re never heard from again’. Caleb laughed. ‘That’s silly’.
Thor grabbed his brother’s arm and pulled him close. ‘Haven’t you heard of Mrs Snodgrass’s Thinking Chair’? Caleb shook his head. ‘Is it like Dadda’s thinking chair’? Thor sighed. ‘Oh no! It’s the worst thing you can imagine, that’s what! Once you’re in Mrs Snodgrass’s Thinking Chair, you’re done for’! Caleb swallowed hard.
‘And that’s not all’, said Aaliyah, ‘they’ll make us eat porridge at every meal’. Each of the siblings stuck out their tongues and held their tummies. ‘What a disgusting thought’! said Caleb.
‘Wait’! said Aaliyah. ‘Do you hear that? Dadda is on the phone. Hurry let’s listen’. Each of the children pushed their way forward, jostling to get close to the partly open door. ‘Can’t hear’, said Caleb, and he inched his way out into the hallway. ‘That’s better’. Aaliyah and Thor followed him.
‘That’s right’, said Dadda, speaking into his phone, ‘Mrs Snodgrass. I’ll hold. Yes, Mrs. Snodgrass? We met some time ago. That’s right. I think my children need to visit Naughty School. Oh, enroll? Well, maybe just… oh… yes, of course, I understand. Well, yes, you’re right, maybe it’s time I decide for their betterment. Of course, so true. I’ll enroll them in Naughty School today. Yes. Three children, their names are Aaliyah, Caleb, and Thor’.
And with that, he hung up the phone and sighed. Aaliyah frowned. ‘He did it! He actually did it’. Thor shook his head. ‘We’re done for now’. Caleb got on his knees and clasped his hands together. ‘No, Dadda, not Naughty School’!
And then Dadda stepped in front of them. He crossed his arms and said, ‘I’m sorry, children, but you’ve left me no choice. When you stay up all night, don’t listen, don’t do your homework, well, then there’s only one alternative’.
Caleb sniffled. ‘Mrs Snodgrass’? Dadda nodded. ‘Yes, Mrs Snodgrass… and her Naughty School. So, pack your bags, we leave right away’! Suddenly Aaliyah, Caleb, and Thor dropped to their knees and shook their heads. They held out their hands like they were praying. ‘Please, Dadda, not Naughty School’! they pleaded. ‘Not Mrs Snodgrass! And not the Thinking Chair’!
Dadda sighed. He put his hands on his hips and scratched his chin. ‘Enrollment is today, but you don’t start until Monday. So, I suppose we’ll see how your behavior changes from now until then’. ‘We’ll be better’! said Aaliyah. Caleb nodded. ‘Oh, we definitely will’! ‘Yes, Dadda, no naughty school for us’! said Thor brightly.
And so, the siblings tried their best to be good little children, just like their two bigger sisters Amritsar and Tara. Though, they needed a nap after such a long night. But, come the next day, there was a shout from downstairs. Dadda dropped what he was doing and darted down the stairs, nearly tripping and flying through the air. And there, Daddy was standing, speechless and pointing.
‘What is it’? asked Dadda, looking around for a lion or bear. ‘What’s wrong’? But there was no lion. No bear. Not even a small dragon with smoking nostrils.
But there was Caleb, holding a tub of sudocrem. ‘Caleb’! said Dadda. ‘What have you done’? Caleb had somehow smeared his bottom and back with sudocrem. He looked positively a mess! As if someone had dipped him in a vat of cream from the dairy, pulling him out and letting him drip all over.
Oh, but there was more. Dadda turned to see a long trail of sudocrem on the hardwood floor. Splotches here and there, running back as if a house painter had drunkenly stumbled into the house. White marks were on the sofa, on Caleb’s brother, Thor’s, face and arms, and even on the television! There were marks on the chairs and the dining room table. There were marks on framed photos of Granny Hazel and Grandma Jean, and also on the painting Dadda made for Daddy’s birthday two years ago. ‘Oh my’, said Dadda. ‘Caleb’!
‘It’s time we have a sit on the thinking chair, don’t you agree, Daddy’? Daddy nodded. Caleb said, ‘No, not the thinking chair! Mrs Snodgrass has one, and they say it eats children! Dadda shook his head. ‘Oh no, it doesn’t, but you’ll be thinking about things for a very long time, Caleb’!
Dadda lifted Caleb high into the air, carried him across the room, into the hall and placed him on an antique chair. ‘Now, think about what you’ve done and… oh my, think about Naughty School too would you’? Caleb swallowed hard. ‘And you, mister’, pointing at Thor, added Daddy, ‘You’re the one who gave the sudocrem to Caleb’! ‘Well, I, uh…’ Thor mumbled. Big sisters Amritsar and Tara were sniggering at this point. They realised that this was a serious situation so both headed for the living room for some screentime.
‘Off to the thinking chair as well’! said Dadda. And Thor marched off, sitting in another chair, on the opposite side of the sideboard, slightly out of view from his brother Caleb.
Dadda turned back to Daddy, who said, ‘And who do you think got the sudocrem down to begin with? Who is the tallest’? Now Dadda turned to Aaliyah, whose face was burning brightly. Whose eyes were cast down on the floor. ‘Go on’! said Dadda. ‘Off to bed’! Aaliyah ran up the stairs screaming, off to her bedroom.
‘I don’t want to say it’, said Daddy, ‘but I don’t think we have a choice’. ‘Well, I already made the call, but I was giving them a chance’ replied Dadda. ‘I think they’ve all had their chance. We have no choice. When little boys and girls are this naughty, when they stay awake all night, when they smear sudocrem all over the house and giggle…’ Dadda nodded. ‘Oh, yes, you don’t have to say it. It’s time for Naughty School, Daddy because we quite simply, have no other choice’. Tara and Amritsar looked a little sad ‘But we will be able to go and visit them – wont we Dadda’? ‘Of course’ replied Dadda, adding ‘And of course, they will be home for holidays’.
And so, it began. Aaliyah and her brothers would soon be off to Mrs Snodgrass’ Naughty School for Children.
Not too far away, on a hill overlooking the city, a dark, gloomy, prison-like fortress stood under dark clouds. Even on this, the sunny day our story begins, it looked as if it were an overcast day at Naughty School.
The Naughty School had been built, well, nobody remembered when it had been made. It seemed as if it had always been there. Overlooking the city with its dreary gray bricks, its tall fence that looked like a prison with barbed-wire and guards at the gate. The gate itself was wrought iron and several feet tall. It had the letters ‘N’ and ‘S’ emblazoned on it in a bold typeface.
At the front gate, there came marching down a thin, pale woman wearing a tight black dress. Her long dark hair was tied up in a bun. On her sharp nose were glasses that were far too big for her with lenses that made her eyes look wide like a fish’s.
This was Ms Bettina, who was Mrs Snodgrass’s loyal assistant. She carried a small leather satchel with her from which she withdrew a red book. It looked like a datebook, and when she arrived at the gate, in front of the uniformed officers in black shirts, pants, and boots, she opened the red book. ‘Aaliyah, Caleb, and… let’s see, yes, Thor’. The guards nodded. ‘They should be arriving any moment now. Look sharp, men’. The guards snapped to attention and saluted.
Another man came marching down the driveway to the gate. He was tall, skinny, and broad-shouldered. He had a long face with a square jaw. He was balding and he, too, wore glasses, but these were small, round, and wire framed. He wore a tweed jacket with patches on the shoulders and elbows and his pants were a few inches too short, revealing black socks with little red polka dots on them.
‘Ah, Mr Strickland’, said Ms Bettina. ‘I’m glad you made it. How was Baby Camp over the Summer’? Mr Strickland frowned at her. ‘Too many babies,’ he said flatly. The guards swallowed hard. Even they, along with the other teachers at Naughty School, were afraid of Mr Strickland, who also ran the Summer Baby Camp, quite, well, strictly.
‘As alwas, Ms Bettina, I am here to inform you that if you have any children acting like babies in this new school term, you are ordered to send them my way. This, of course, is a direct order from Mrs Snodgrass herself’. Ms Bettina scowled. She didn’t like Mr Strickland very much, but she knew she had to tolerate him. ‘Of course, Mr Strickland’, she bemoaned. ‘I’ll make sure to do that’.
Now she turned to the guards. ‘Remember, send them straight to my office for intake’. The guards nodded, and with that, Ms Bettina and Mr Strickland left the front gate, going in different directions.
After a few minutes, a silver Mitsubishi Shogun 4 x 4 arrived and stopped at the gate. Inside was Daddy, Aaliyah, Thor, and Caleb. ‘I’m here for…’ said Daddy, but he couldn’t get out the rest of his words. One of the guards held his hand up and said, ‘Enough! Aaliyah? Thor? Caleb?’ Daddy nodded. ‘That’s right’. ‘Drop them off here. We’ll send them to Ms Bettina’. ‘Oh, well, I… yes, okay’. Daddy opened the door and got out. He then opened the door for his children, and all three slowly, cautiously, ever-so-carefully crept out.
Aaliyah and the boys looked up at Daddy and said, ‘One more chance’? Daddy shook his head slowly. ‘Sorry, children, I love you and I am going to miss you, but off to Naughty School. Go on now’. Daddy said goodbye, gave them all hugs and said that he would see them in a couple of weeks.
They shuffled along slowly, and the wrought iron gates slowly creaked open. The guards looked down at the children. One of them said, ‘Go on now, that way. March! We’re off to see Ms Bettina’. Thor turned to wave at Daddy, but the car had gone. Thor looked up at the guard who said, ‘No more of that. March! Go on!’ And so, they did, all three, Aaliyah, Thor, and Caleb, too, hurried up the twisting driveway.
Ahead, they saw the prison, sorry, the school, that is. Naughty School. Its gray bricks were covered with moss. A mass of ivy clung to its walls. Stone gargoyles looked down with beady eyes and sharp horns. There were tall windows that were cloudy and caked with what could only be smoke stains, though one guard mentioned that it was ‘fog from the children’s breath as they complained from sitting in the Naughty Chairs too long’.
And in one window, high above, Aaliyah spotted two bright eyes watching. They almost looked like red eyes. ‘Mrs Snodgrass’! she muttered. ‘Hey now, none of that’! said the guard. ‘No talking! Off to Ms Bettina, you go’.
The front door of Naughty School was embossed with brass and was covered with etchings of what can only be described as monsters chasing little children. And, once more, there were the letters ‘N’ and ‘S’ in a bold typeface.
Inside, the hallways were long and empty. Aaliyah saw a little boy, dressed in a black uniform, peek out from a classroom. But just as quickly, someone yanked him back inside with a little ‘yelp’ and the door slammed shut, nearly breaking the glass window. A blind was drawn rapidly, blocking Aaliyah’s view of what was happening inside the room. ‘We’re doomed’! she said. ‘Quiet’! said the guard.
And soon, they climbed a high set of stairs. Onto a landing, and then up to another landing, and finally to the third floor and an office that had big blocky black letters declaring that it belonged to MS BETTINA, assistant to MRS SNODGRASS. The guard snapped to attention and knocked gently on the door. The children gasped and gulped as they heard the click-clack of Ms Bettina’s high heels.
And the door opened. There she stood, the dark-haired administrator with her overly large glasses. Her large, fisheyes stared down at the children, and her thin lips were snarling. ‘In here NOW’! she commanded. And to the guard: ‘Leave us’! The guard turned around and left, leaving Aaliyah and her brothers standing awkwardly outside of Ms Bettina’s doorway. ‘RIGHT’! Ms Bettina shouted.
The children hurried in and piled onto three small metal chairs in front of an unusually high oak desk. Ms Bettina crossed the room, her footfalls sounding like CLICK, CLACK, CLICK. She climbed a small footstool to get onto a high-backed chair, and from there, she looked down over her large glasses at the children.
‘Biters, pinchers, hair pullers, screamers, shouters, naughty, naughty children’, she murmured. ‘Mrs Snodgrass will not be happy at all. Oh no, she won’t. Do we have enough Thinking Chairs for the three of you’? Aaliyah raised her hand timidly as Caleb and Thor rattled their teeth and sat on their hands. ‘What is it’? snapped Ms Bettina. ‘Wha… what… what are you going to do’? replied Thor. ‘Oh, it’s not what I’m going to do, little boy’, said Ms Bettina.
Someone’s throat cleared, and Aaliyah and her brothers whipped around to see…
A woman in her late fifties, dressed in a green tweed two-piece suit. Perched on her nose were a pair of brown horn-rimmed glasses. She looked quite like a School Head Mistress from 1954 come to life in front of them. ‘I’ll be dealing with you three personally’! said the woman with a shrill voice. ‘Meet Mrs Snodgrass, children’, said Ms Bettina. ‘The Head Mistress who will do everything in her power to get every last ounce of naughtyness out of you’!
A trouble free day was had, partly down to the fact that John broke the lockdown and ventured into the office in London. You see, the children generally play up for daddy and with him out of the equation, they all behaved impeccably.
I have to admit that deciding today would be lesson free, well, that was the deciding factor! The harmony of five screens, not 5 screams was enjoyed with just the lightest whisper of ‘my little pony’ echoing away in the background!
Daddy returned at 4pm and to my surprise, just one or two elevated moments. Dinner was had and now the troop have ascended the stairs to bed with Daddy accompanying them. Five kiss and hugs later and I am left at the kitchen table recounting my slightly reworked ‘JJ’s Lasagna’.
Right, we all eat lasagna don’t we? Well, unless you have a gluten intolerance or are following a Keto styled ‘Pre Agrarian Diet’ that is.
My children just love pasta and lasagna is amongst their favourite top 5 dishes of all time.
What makes a lasagna you may ask? Three things, no, four things I imagine. Bolognese sauce or a suitable mushroom or vegetable alternative, lasagna pasta sheets, béchamel / white sauce and cheese, usually cheddar, that’s what makes a lasagna.
Now a lovely fellow blogger JJ had a different take on this and I am sure that she wouldn’t mind me sharing it with you today.
How does ‘Spaghetti Lasagna’ sound? Hmmmh – have I got your ear? Well, when the children heard of this proposal, they chanted with glee.
However, I only had cooked puttanesca sauce (tomato and olive) in the fridge, plus 6 dry lasagna sheets and half a bag of penne pasta. So, I have had to make a few minor changes, sorry JJ. But it still tased great, I might add.
I absolutely hate making a cheese sauce, don’t you? That’s why I tend to buy in pre-made lasagna nowadays. Ridiculous really as we eat so much bolognese sauce in this house. I only go out of my way when it comes to dressing a lobster or king prawn thermidor with cheese sauce a plenty. Okay, here is the ‘real easy’ white sauce method.
Boil your milk. Make a beurre manet (is that spelt correctly)? This is the classic French way of thickening a sauce, just melted butter mixed with flour. Use a whisk and add the flour/butter mixture little by little whilst whisking. As the milk comes back to the boil, the sauce will quickly thicken. No lumps, no hastle, perfect sauce. Cook out for a minute and add 200g of cream cheese. Eh Voila, perfectly light, cheesy béchamel.
I used around a pint and a half of milk, just under a litre and just enough beurre manet for a good result. Hey I’m a chef when it comes down to the nitty gritty! I don’t need measurements! Lol
So, half your white sauce in the bottom of a baking tray, layer with cooked lasagna sheets. Do not use the dry one (boil it first)! Then a layer of your sauce. I used puttanesca. More lasagna sheets. Now here’s the fun bit!
Mix the remaining meat/olive/vegetable (whatever) sauce with the cooked penne and a splash of water. Layer your final lasagna sheets and finally the remaining white sauce. I could have sprinkled with grated cheddar, but I resisted the urge. Bake for 30/40 minutes in a medium oven.
The result looks and tastes amazing! Thank you JJ, from the bottom of our hearts. Scrummy 😊
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.