Child-free week

Yes. A rare and wondrous treat.

Huhuhuhuhu : Freedom is miiiiine !

I cannot get over it.

1Packing

2 This is what child-seats are meant forCycling

3Moving in

The Do – Despair, hangover & ecstasy :

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Premonition

I wrote this post exactly two years ago : Mister Nice and I were on a break, but on the verge of giving things another go.

This is when I met a certain Mr Xmas.

September 2012

(Slight nod, raised eyebrows, big sigh: )

Yup, here we go again: Men.

Preamble :

Lady E has succumbed to the latest episode of her very own, personal soap opera, starring Mr Nice, and Mr Xmas, who like the proverbial busses could not come one after the other at the appointed time, because that just would not be fun, would it?

Act one:
Lady E (forlorn and pouting): So here I am, trying to see through a fog of baggage, and fear what may be the reality of two potential relationships (I am spoilt, really).
Enter Mr Nice, my stomach somersaults all the way through my skull, before crashing back into place, leaving me drooling and lobotomised. Sounds attractive, doesn’t it ? Let’s say that it doesn’t quite capture how attracted I feel to Mr Nice…

But – what did you think, of course there is a but – Mr Nice still has commitment issues – now, that’s a f***ing surprise !!

Act two:

Enter, Mr Xmas, who is lovely, has no commitment issues, and whose heart is wide open for me. I haven’t known him for that long, but long enough to know that we get along, and are on the path to becoming great friends. However, for as long as Mr Nice is around, there is no room for more as it were…

Voice of reason: Ok, so easy, then. Mr Nice must go. Give Mr Xmas a chance.

Lady E (bangs head on nearest wall): Ow, it actually hurts. Bastard.

September 2014

Of course, I ignored the voice of reason… And of course you know the end of this particular story…

(Slight nod, raised eyebrows, eye roll)

Tove Lo – Habits (to be blasted really, really loud and danced to, preferably in a kitchen, with a dear friend)

Mojo

I am driving back from the airport on a Parisian motorway, the rising sun bouncing off high-rises is blinding me. I feel utterly bewildered, confused and frustrated.

Have you ever known that something was probably a very bad idea, yet been unable to resist it ?

Well, despite the fact that I will be 39 in a month, and should really know better, I have. Well done me.

Luckily, I now have a week off to clear my head, and get back to reality…

Want to feel French and a bit wild ? Listen to this :

M – Le Mojo

If you’re cool

…And happened to be anywhere near the French Alps this weekend, then you almost certainly were at the Musilac festival in Aix-les bains.

Being a single mum of two, and research project manager is almost certainly not cool by a long shot, but I was there anyway, as a sort of under-cover agent for the un-cool, having the best fun in a long -actually make that very long- time.

Now, for my observations of the cool crowds:

  • If you are cool and French, you wear ironic t-shirts, Lafuma‘s technical gear (a reminder that you are in serious mountain-land), or OxBow.
  • You smoke rather a lot more than you drink.
  • If you are a girl, you wear oversized Jackie O-type sunglasses and long hair tied in an artistically messy bun. Shorts teamed with ankle-high boots or Converse sneakers are popular, and when it gets a bit chilly, you add a delicate, preferably loose and see-through cardigan on top.
  • If you are British, you stagger around with glazed eyes and speak very loudly because you drink a lot more than you smoke. French people study you curiously for a few seconds before choosing to ignore you.

My highlights included:

  • Not having my children for a whole weekend. I love them dearly, but this is so rare, it felt as though I had been starved of freedom for months.
  • The magical setting for the festival: Crystal clear lake, lawns you can sprawl on, sun over the rounded green mounts of Savoie.
  • The friendly, family atmosphere and great organisation. The ear-plugs you get handed as you walk in!
  • Dancing like a complete maniac.
  • Franz Ferdinand, who ignited the crowd, and just took me off the ground. The best act by miles.
  • Lenny Krawitz, who despite getting all jazzy and losing the crowd at times, rocked in a major way. Here’s a snippet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEkWj6DKEfs
  • Sorry about the crappy sound (and I did not film this), but can you hear that big bass-line? Now imagine it travelling through you from the ground up… Ooh yeah. What’s this guy’s story, though? He does seem to have issues with American women…
  • Discovering great new bands, including Olivier Depardon, Fanfarlo, Trombone Shorty, or Metronomy
  • Having a melted raclette and Savoie ham sandwich at half past midnight – totally does it for the munchies.

Lowlights:

  • Ben Howard being de-programmed from the festival. I had bought my ticket almost on his name alone, and nearly cried.
  • Orelsan who comes across as a cynical, faintly sexist, faintly stupid young rapper. Actually, writing this sentence made me wonder whether it was just one long pleonasm, or whether I had officially become old and reactionary.
  •  Getting my i-phone wet, and not being able to open the darn thing to let it dry.
  • Needing to wee just before Franz Ferdinand’s set, and missing almost half of it.
  • The large proportion of French people who don’t seem to dance very much. Maybe they’re just too cool to dance?

Anyway, today, I woke up at midday and had a breakfast of cold churros and squashed left-overs crisps. Now, if that isn’t rock’n roll, I don’t know what is.

Chocolate mousse and other anti-heartbeak recipes

Ok, so remember how if all the advice you’ve been given to cope with heartbreak fails, there’s always chocolate?

Here’s something to get you started:

Traditional French chocolate mousse (makes enough for 6)

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 200 g of dark chocolate
  • 1 pinch of salt

The secret to this mousse is to use the best chocolate you can find, and by best, I don’t mean most expensive, or with a sky-high cocoa content, but one which contains only cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar and lecithin. I generally use Nestlé dessert or Meunier cooking choc, which you can find in most UK supermarkets.

You might also want to use really fresh eggs to avoid making Mousse à la Campylobacter/Salmonella. Unless of course, you are cooking for people you deeply dislike, your ex for example… Just saying.

Preparation time: 10 minutes + a couple of hours in the fridge

How to make it:

  1. Break the chocolate into chunks, add a bit of water and melt. I normally just blast it in the microwave on a medium heat for a couple of minutes, but you can also use a saucepan on the hob. Just make sure it’s well melted, and looks smooth.
  2. Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Add a pinch of salt to the whites and whip them into stiff peaks.
  3. When the chocolate is cool enough to not burn your finger (of course, you will be fastidiously checking that approximately every 17 seconds because you are such a methodical cook… Just remember to leave enough chocolate to not just have egg mousse), add the yolks and stir well.
  4. Fold the whites into the chocolate mix, which basically means: Add a bit of white, cover it with chocolate and gently mix, then repeat until you have an entirely brown mixture.
  5. Refrigerate for a couple of hours at least.
  6. Invite people around and stuff your faces.

Note that because the eggs are raw, the mousse doesn’t keep for more than 24h, unless you are serving it to people you deeply dislike (see above). In my experience though, the mousse rarely survives its first serving.

There. Really easy, and when you feel comfortable with the basic recipe, you can start experimenting, adding candied citrus peels, Bailey’s, or nuts. Let me know how it turns out!

Right, once you’ve downed the whole bowl of mousse, you may also want to reflect on life, and the universe. Seriously, all the people who got over heartbreak fast have one thing in common: They took a long, honest look at themselves

Long, honest look at oneself (makes enough for one)

Ingredients:

  • courage, about 300 kg of it, because let me tell you, taking a long, hard and honest look at oneself isn’t terribly pleasant at times. Guess why most of us had been avoiding it up until now?…
  • friends and /or family for support, tissues, sharing breakthroughs and frustrations
  • some external catalyst such as a counsellor, therapist, group, self-help books, coach whatever works for you. For some people, this ingredient is optional, hats off to them because they manage to challenge themselves enough to really make some progress, and I couldn’t do that for toffee. If anything is an unpleasant truth, I usually manage to studiously ignore it, and pretend it’s eventually going to blow away.
  • A journal, or record of your moods of some description

Preparation time: Anything from weeks to years. Yes, I know, how remarkably unhelpful isn’t it? Don’t thank me.

How to make it:

  1. Find whichever catalyst is going to work for you. I recommend just giving every option a go, and going with your instinct.
  2. Stick to it because you will feel like you are beyond help, going round in circles, or going backwards at times, but it’ll be worth it in the end.
  3. Stir, cook, and stir some more until your head is a big messy ball of confusion.
  4. Chart your progress by keeping track of how often you feel rubbish (let me guess, approximately 26 million times a day now?), and anything that makes you smile.
  5. Gradually picture what you need to be happy, and want from life in general
  6. Move on to relationships and what you may want to do differently next time. I know, I know, you’re probably telling anyone who’ll listen, and probably anyone who won’t too, that you will remain celibate for the rest of your life. Allow me to just have a little snigger here (huhuhuhu)…
  7. When feeling dreadful, stuck, like you’re not getting anywhere, and what’s the point anyway because we’re all gonna diiiie…, check your record to measure how far you have come. You can also whinge about it at length on the internet, which is what I did.
  8. While taking your long, honest look at your navel, remember that you are allowed to keep on living (I know, phew). In fact, I would highly recommend that you keep doing things that bring a smile to your face.

Things that bring a smile to your face (makes enough for a bus-full of people, a double-decker, if you’re feeling generous)

Preparation time: Five minutes each day to plan + a few seconds, minutes, hours to enjoy the results

Ingredients:

  • One table-spoon a day of forcing yourself to do it when you feel like nothing
  • A jumbo-sized pack of pats (a pack of pats, oooh, I like that)
  • A calendar
  • Something to make lists on (if you’re as organised like me, you can also go for sticky notes, notebook, i-phone reminders, and never find anything)

How to do it:

  1. Make a list of things which may bring a smile to your face (to try). Ask people for suggestions, follow all the useless advice you are given…
  2. Keep a list of things that work (which may be non-existent when you first start)
  3. Plan one little thing each day to look forward to and chart on your calendar. It may be something very small. I used to buy myself flowers, plan to call someone whom I knew made me feel better, have a bath, borrow comedy DVDs from the library…
  4. Apply pat to your back for actually doing it.
  5. Something which really worked was to give to others. So I would for example help someone, give a bit of change to a beggar, cook my children’s favourite meal, get little presents for my friends, pick up some litter at the park, tiny things, which probably make me sound like a slightly demented wannabe Mother Teresa, but really, totally selfishly helped me feel better.
  6. Enjoy, and give me your own tricks, tips and feedback!

PS. If you are scaring yourself, or feeling like topping yourself off a lot, then firstly don’t do it, it’s totally last season. Secondly, seek professional help. Not kidding. A lot of us know just how despite being invisible, the pain of heartbreak can be absolutely unbearable. Don’t try to bear it alone. Pretty please.

Right, I don’t know what you are doing tonight, but I’ve got both my smurfs back under one roof (mine), a fridge full of left-overs, and a big week of work ahead after a fairly up and down weekend. I am listening to Rover.

Rover – Tonight:

Bad muvvas

The little girl is standing on the bench, clamouring for vinaigrette dressing, spraying everyone with tomato juice from her dangerously pumping fork.

My little girl has been refusing to touch her veg for the last 15 minutes, and now bored, is climbing down from the same bench backwards.

The big boy is making farting noises, and wants to get down from the table, while my big boy is nowhere to be seen…

I find him sprawled on the sofa, and yell at him to get back to the table at once. He whines something about needing to rest because his calf muscles are stiff, and I start counting to five in my most menacing tone.

He gets back to the table, where my friend is yelling at her girl, who smeared food all over herself .

My friend and I roll our eyes across the table, and mumble something about selling our kids on ebay. It is lunchtime on Wednesday, and we are officially having a Bad Muvvas’ day.

Don’t get me wrong, we both love our children, and I dare say our lives would just not make sense without them. But on days like these, we just wish for some peace, a bit of adult conversation, and not having to watch out for sandwich content ending up in our hair.

I wistfully dream about being careless, carefree, and generally able to go wild.

For now, my friend and I sit in the sun, and share a rebellious cigarette.

PS. For all of you wanting to go wild, or just in need of a good R&R fix, here’s Skip the use and their perfect Give me your life. Enjoy!

My very own mid-life crisis

Eye shot

Image via Wikipedia

The sun is on my neck, and I feel incredibly drowsy.

After ten days apart, Mr Nice and I have been errr … catching up this week, and seeing each other every spare minute that work, kids and life left us, which means very few daytime minutes and world-class bags under our eyes.

I am also feeling curiously torn between two diametrically opposed aspects of my personality.

On the one hand, in case you had any doubts, I am a highly dull, anxious and responsible adult, holding down a demanding job and caring for two little kids day-in, day-out. All my life I have pretty much been a good, sensible girl, indulging in only the rarest bouts of pure lunacy mild extravagance.

However, the demented teenager in me got let loose about a year ago, and has been rattling the cage ever since. At times, my responsibilities still feel way too heavy for one person, and I feel a compelling urge to abdicate, go mad and have mindless, selfish fun.

Where it gets even funnier, is that the demented teenager has to co-habitate with the anxious, responsible adult who is currently preoccupied with finding a zillion good reasons to not under-any-circumstances-fall-for Mr-Nice-however-nice-he-is-ha.

I tell you what, there’s a fair bit of door slamming and I-hate-yous going on in my mind at the moment…

Still, you will be pleased to know that so far, the anxious, responsible adult is still winning, and that my children have been spared the embarrassment of a mum wearing inch thick eye liner, getting loaded and clubbing every night…

Though on reflection, I may still have to wear some glittery eye shadow and dance like a maniac while I cook dinner tonight.

This is my current demented teenager dance anthem, to be listened to loud and with a LOT of bass:

The potbelleez – From the music