Monday, 28 March 2011

Every Cloud

There are words you don't really want to hear when your husband and 10 year old are using your precious laptop which contains all your work, studies and irreplacable family photos.

And which you haven't successfully backed up for two months.

Words like, 'Oh, no! Quick, run and get a cloth!'

Now my little Poppet had the best of intentions, letting her Nana, who was calling on Skype, admire the lovely flower arrangement Daddy brought home for Mummy. She just doesn't realise yet that you don't have to get objects within two centimetres of the camera to be able to see them AND that if you tip up a vase of flowers, water will out.

There are sounds you don't want to hear from your precious laptop after a dowsing with flower water. Sounds like 'beep beep beep beeeeeeeep.... [silence]'

To say I was angry would be a gross understatement but I channelled my passion into flipping off the keys one by one so I could wipe up all the water. I knew that sandwich year placement in technical support would come in handy one day.

Thankfully the machine still works, apart from the left mouse button which I think may still be having a lazy soak before towelling himself off and returning to work.

...and I now have a full backup.

Sunday, 27 March 2011


I came downstairs this morning to find Pickle sitting cross legged on the floor reading a dictionary. Not a kid's one either, the full house-brick-sized Oxford one, with Thesaurus, that Nobby and I use to help us with the Telegraph crossword.

'Wow!' said I, very impressed with his thirst for knowledge, 'have you been finding out what words mean?'

'Sort of,' he replied, 'I'm looking up swear words.'

'Oh. Did you find any?' I said, hoping that ours is a concise version without a full compliment of expletives.

'Not many, but did you know that 'crap' is also a game?' he said.

I suspect he meant Craps, but at least he learned something new.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Tales of the Unexpected

I learned early on, after having babies, to lower my expectations considerably. I think it was about day three with Poppet when I finally realised that having a shower and getting dressed were about all I could really expect to get done in a day with a screaming newborn around.

Nobby took a while longer to adjust. I swear he uttered those immortal, marriage limiting words 'What have you been doing all day?' more than once when he came home to wall-to-wall baby toys, nappy sacks, breast pads and no dinner on the table in the early days.

But he too adjusted and soon started to try and praise his poor woolly headed wife for all the things she had done rather than the thousand and one things she hadn't. 'Thanks so much for washing my pants, don't fret, I'll eat tomorrow night, dear.'

The children have seen fit to throw us a curve ball or two over the years. Like Pickle and the 100 foot tree episode. He still likes to tell the story now of how he could only see the top of my head as I wandered beneath a fir tree looking for my four-year-old son who I could hear calling 'Mummy!' but couldn't actually see... until I looked up.

Then there was Poppet on that bouncy castle and the resulting ride in a French ambulance to fix her broken leg.

I should have seen today coming, and indeed with my history and parentage I full expected the diagnosis. I still remember the day I was told by the school to make sure and give a letter to my Mum after one of those 'routine' doctor visits when I was seven years old. Not the nit nurse this time though, a proper doctor.

I did my best for them, marrying a bloke with disgustingly perfect vision. But I was startlingly unprepared for the Hungarian Opthalmologist telling me this evening that both my kids have succumbed to my batfink gene and developed myopia. It was with a heavy heart that I walked them downstairs to the specs shop to pick out frames for their new glasses, which in their own mysterious, chummy little way will be exactly the same prescription.

They, on the other hand were chuffing delighted!! You never saw more excited parading in front of the mirror, weighing up chunky pink versus delicate lilac frames, and Cliff Richards versus John Lennon. I am insulted by the choice they get as well. That miserable day back in 1977 when I was told to pick out some NHS specs my options were pink, blue, clear plastic or tortoiseshell.

I kid you not, Pickle tried on three pairs and looked amazing in every one, the little bugger. Poppet took a while longer but ended up with some gorgeous dark red 'Chippies' with tiny puppy dogs emblazoned on the arms. We are collecting them on Wednesday and they absolutely cannot wait.

I really didn't expect that at all.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Going round in circles

Spring has sprung... off.

To be precise, Spring sprung into Budapest, hit our trampoline, performed a triple salco and a double backflip and sprang back out again. The tulips haven't noticed, there are shoots a-sprouting all around but it's chuffing chilly again since Boy-Next-Door took an optimistic dip in their swimming pool on Bank Holiday Tuesday last week.

Poppet has been moaning that the house is cold - er, that'll be because I confidently turned the heating right down when the sun came out - but it could also be because she will wander round the house dressed in summer tops and cropped trousers. Not because it was sunny on Tuesday; she's been doing it all winter long. I sometimes wonder if she thinks she may be in the Big Brother house, treating every day like a fashion parade.

But the happy mood has remained and I heard some fantastic Yankee-bashing banter at the kids football practice yesterday which I feel the need to share.

Another kids Dad was asking me about the Cricket Club that just started up - and which my kids LOVE. An American friend standing with us started giggling, claiming he can't take the sport seriously.

We thought at first maybe the word 'cricket' must make him think of what is known in proper English as a 'grasshopper' and he was picturing chaps in white leap-frogging all over a grassy field. But no. He went on to say, 'All those grown men running backwards and forwards between two posts in their pyjamas just creases me up.'

Oh dear.

English Dad retorted, 'Well, at least our 'pyjamas' don't look like our Mums shrunk them in the washing so they're skin tight, unlike your beloved baseball gear. And we know how to put our hats on the right way round.'

That got him on the back foot, and he confessed he didn't really know enough about the game to argue further. Which was a red rag to a bull of course.

'See, with cricket we don't need gloves to catch the ball, we use our bare hands like real men.'

'The bloke behind the stumps isn't wrapped up in a duvet and a Hannibal Lecter mask either.'

'And there are no funny hand signals looking like you're scratching away at your nuts on live television.'

(Actually at this point I thought, 'yes, but they do rub the ball on their crotch before everyone goes round handling it with their bare hands...' but I didn't say anything.)

All in all I reckon it was England 3 : USA 0 by the end of the last over. But it still doesn't explain why you can buy baseball bats, balls and gloves a-go-go here in Budapest but after trawling the three biggest sports stores we find there's not a single cricket bat in sight. Maybe Hungarians prefer running in circles as well.

I found out last week that they like to dance in circles, though...

Nobby and I had one of our rare nights out having secured the kids a double sleepover (hurrah!). First we did a wee spot of shopping without the lilting sounds of 'Can we GO now?' 'Do we HAVE to go in here?' and 'I'm HUNGRY!' while we browsed.

Then we popped out to the theatre to watch 'Cats' at the Andrew Lloyd-Webber-obsessed establishment in town. So far we've seen 'Phantom', 'Jesus Christ Superstar' and 'Joseph' so we're working our way up to a full set. I'd never seen Cats before but thanks to the subtitles not working on the night I've now seen it twice because we had to borrow the DVD starring Elaine Paige afterwards to find out what the hell was going on.

In order to recover from the obligatory Community Clapping (I guess that counts as applauding in a circle, no?) we hit Time Warp Central, the bar in town I normally go to with girlie friends and end up leaving in the wee small hours not having noticed the night slipping away. There was a band setting up in the main dancing room so we took a turn around the rest of the place while we waited for them to finish.

Nobby and I love a bit of people watching. This bar has a balcony from where you can watch all kinds of goings on, such as the Stag Party approaching the Hen Party for a bit of joint revellry. Oh deary dear. Miss Blondie McTits-on-Show soon had Mr Speccie McGeek leaning in way too close for comfort - the music wasn't that loud, I reckon he was just trying to get a better view down her top. Her companion Ms Feisty McBallsy clearly didn't appreciate the attention, despite pulling the chief stag and was soon showing him how she could use a rolled up magazine as a lethal weapon.

Anyway, we eventually headed back up to see this band and could not quite understand what had been going on while we'd been absent. The entire room had turned into a long chain of people holding hands, doing some River Dance thing with their feet before swinging their arms up and down and moving on to the strains of some gypsy-cum-Turkish-cum-Greek style music.

Perhaps it was the Hungarian version of the Locomotion?? No idea, but there was definitely not enough rum in my coke to persuade me to join in. And after Nobby got stepped on for the third time and we were gradually being boxed into a corner by the dance we decided to scarper.

Gimme cricket pitches and square dancing any day.

Next day when I went to collect the kids to find they were staying in a circular house...
I am expecting meet myself coming the other way at any moment. I'll let you know.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Boys Behaving Badly

I had a glimpse into the future today.

Nobby somehow persuaded Pickle to accompany him on a long dog walk 'up to the flagpole' this morning. I suspect a bundle of bribery was involved but anything to get the little screen-hopper out into the fresh air. Especially considering today was one of those strange mid-week public holidays which we always reckon we'll use as an opportunity to get in the car and get out of the city but then we always sleep in late while the kids hit the electronics and can't be torn away from them.

And the air has been LOVELY today! Hopefully, touch wood, I can stop moaning about sodding snow and cold weather and finally pack the thermal socks away for a few months. Spring would appear to have sprung over here. I even saw a snowdrop at the weekend. So I did not mind at all shelving the three hours in the car to go visit a castle (which would probably be shut when we arrived anyway from past experience) and instead I got busy with the home-made compost and some long-overdue gardening.

I also collected all the dog poop off the lawn now it's not buried in snow, but that may be over-sharing. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase 'what a bag of shite.'

So at lunchtime Nobby invited Pickle tell us girls about the lovely chat they had enjoyed during their walk (having previously informed me that Pickle had almost talked his ears off for forty minutes).

'Oh yeah,' says Pickle, 'we were talking about how Tiggy wags her tail when she's happy.'

'That's nice dear,' says I, 'she wags her tail a lot doesn't she.'

'Yes, well, I told Daddy I was wondering if a boy dog could wag his willy when he was happy instead of his tail!' he continued, gleefully.

'Oh really?' says I.

'Yeah! And then when a girl dog was happy she would waggle her boobies!' he guffawed and then proceeded to model what waggling boobies might look like... ON ME.

What a charming child. Meanwhile Nobby is sitting there grinning away and high-fiving the creative genius.

So now I know what is to come once Pickle reaches beer drinking age. It'll be like having Gary and Tony Behaving Badly on my very own sofa, trying to decide whether they prefer breasts or bottoms.

Can't wait.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

My son

We were sitting in TGI Fridays the other day, doodling on the back of the paper place mats while we waited for the servers to finish flirting with each other and come and take our order. Poppet loves a game of Hangman while she waits but she clearly swallowed the thesaurus as an appetiser this time, giving me words like 'jacuzzi' and 'bizarre' to guess instead of her customary 'mummy' and 'rosie'. The cunning cow.

Pickle, on the other hand, got to work on drawing an adventure maze, oddly reminiscent of a Super Mario game, (no idea where he gets his ideas from). He then tore off a corner of the paper and drew a little figure to try his luck in the maze. He moved it all over to me so I could admire his work.

'Lovely!' I exclaimed,' what a cute little teddy bear you've drawn there! Cute little ears and a sweet face. He's got very large claws though, hasn't he?'

'No Mum, those aren't his claws,' says Pickle.

'What are they then, darling?'

'Those are his guns.'

Saturday, 5 March 2011

That Friday Feeling

I was going to try for the sympathy vote: 'Oh poor me, Nobby's away for the night leaving me all alone,' but of course I am never really alone with my two little people in tow.

Especially when they interpret 'Time for bed!' as 'Time for a disco in Pickle's room.'

Whose idea was it to buy the Crazy Frog album anyway? I used to love the tune 'Popcorn'; I remember my parents had the original Hot Butter version on vinyl when I was little myself. It's not quite the same with the 'brrrrrrrrrring, bing!'s thrown in by Monsieur Frog.

Though I have to say 'Who Let The Frogs Out?' did raise a titter at the end of a long week at school.

It's been a strange week with almost half the class out with a bug. You'd think that such drastically reduced numbers would be a doddle to teach. Er, WRONG. They reckon since hardly anyone is there then they can just play, otherwise it's 'not fair!' to expect them to work while their contemporaries are at home. 'But all the others are going to miss this; we should wait for them to get better and work next week instead.' (under their breaths saying 'Yeah, we may be 5 but we ain't stupid.') What they don't appreciate is that the others are at home in bed, coughing up a lung and they should count their ruddy blessings.

One boy got so bored he asked his Mummy to turn off the TV, put away the DS and ask his teacher to send him some work from school...

I had the pleasure of teaching my oldest offspring today as her teacher was off sick too. I was not sure how to get her classmates to take me seriously with her wrapped round my leg like a friendly ferret sniping 'Don't be rude to my Mother!' at anyone who shouted out.

Pickle has had an amazing week. He finally sorted out his desk and actually did all his homework. I could speculate as to how long his teacher sat on him to achieve this result but his just reward came this afternoon when he won a competition to invent a blend of tea. Who would have thought he'd take on a challenge like that? we'll make a Jamie Oliver of him yet.

Nobby has asked me not to diss him in my Blog after he hit a rather slippery slope earlier in the week. I just want to record for posterity that I forgive him. But I still think he was a twit.

Now for some staff notices.

- Would the person who has kidnapped Spring please return it as soon as possible because we have all had enough of the chuffing snow. Lovely to see the flowery sentiments and appreciation of how beautiful Budapest looks under a glistening layer of crisp whiteness on Facebook statuses, but these people clearly didn't have to get up at 6am, dig out the ski gloves and shovel the stuff off a steeply sloping driveway.

- Winner of Star of the Week goes to my landlord for a) fixing my kitchen tap without spraying the entire room like I would have done and b) finding me a cleaner who not only makes the house smell clean but actually cleans it as well. In the words of my favourite saying at the moment, Top Banana.

- Please be on the lookout for Tiggy's appetite. She seems to have lost it recently, judging by the barely tickled bowls of biscuits every evening. We've been to the vet; Poppet accompanied me, concerned as she was about the poor mutt, who strangely isn't losing any weight and will accept treats until the cows come home.

This is the same dog who developed bladder trouble when she sussed we were moving house then became perfectly normal once we moved in... Only I could have picked the psycho doggy.

Poppet became less gushing when the vet decided to run a test for microbes and approached Tiggy's rear end wielding a cotton bud and a petri dish... she's decided against vetinary medicine as a career path I think.

The result was negative though, so why-oh-why is the this dog avoiding biscuits yet will pick them up one by one and drop them on the floor to get at any gravy or meat I hide underneath as a crafty reward? And why did it all start on the day I fed some of her food to a mangy stray who'd been hanging round the gate tugging on my heart strings for 3 days?

Well, please think of me tomorrow trying to turn Saturdays into Sports Days for the Nobby household. I remember when I was their age there was only 'boring' Grandstand (sports) on the telly all afternoon but it never occured to me to go outside and run about. Well, my kids are getting the treatment now - wake-up call at 8h30, football at 10 and cricket at 12h30.

Yeah, ok, and McDonalds at 12.

Bribery and corruption before we even start? - I may be 41 but I ain't stupid.