Saturday, 31 March 2007


We play the Nationale Postcode Loterij and have done since Christmas. We figured - why not? I'm years away from writing a bestselling novel and we need our millions now ;o) I got a letter from them this morning and we have won...

Drum roll please...

Two half-litre tubs of Ben & Jerry's ice-cream!

How cool is that (literally)?!? I know what I'll be pigging out on this weekend. We don't even need to share - we can have a tub each.

It might stop me from gorging myself on the Easter egg I'm saving. If that little Crunchie egg makes it all the way to Easter Sunday then I'll be stunned (or have been stunned).

Friday, 30 March 2007

Horn-happy Gleghorn

Until Michael was born, Phil would almost never use the car horn. On the exceptionally rare occasions that he did, the blast was so minute that it could be mistaken for a sparrow farting. One memorable incident springs to mind when we got snared in traffic in Heemstede town centre on a busy Saturday afternoon. We ended up needing to retrace our steps and Phil decided to do a three-point turn in a private driveway (bad Gleghorn!) The elderly owner was trimming her hedges at that moment and looked at Phil with some annoyance.

Phil's response?

He blew a raspberry at her.

Yes, ladies and gentleman, this hulking great 6 foot 3 tower of a man blew a raspberry at an old lady in her own driveway. Even thinking about it all these years later still brings a tear of mirth to my eye.

But... things have changed. The Dutch are notoriously bad drivers and even they seem to acknowledge this. Phil gets very angry that the reckless behaviour of other road users endangers Michael. One classic example was a couple of weeks ago when we were driving to Amsterdam for my baby gymnastics class. We were going down the motorway slip road when an idiot coming from the service station failed to give way and pulled out right in front of us. Phil gave him the most prolonged blast of the horn I have ever witnessed and continued to hoot at him for some way down the motorway. I helped out by giving him a look that could curdle milk as we overtook him (he looked very sheepish).

At this rate I may need to start playing new-age music and lighting scented candles in the car to soothe his battered nerves.

Saturday, 24 March 2007

Wrong wrong wrong

I've just seen an extended version of "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" on one of the Disney channels. I didn't even know that the version I have been watching on TV for 30 years has been hacked about with. You can't just go ruining my afternoon by introducing new songs and scenes. I'm too old for change!

Bring me a blanket and a warm milky drink at once!

Friday, 23 March 2007

The destroyer

Harry has just destroyed my new headphones.
The new headphones attached to my new MP3 player.
The MP3 player I got for my birthday.

I had been listening to some music on the sofa when Michael started crying. I put the player down and headed upstairs to take care of him. When I came back downstairs a moment or two later my headphones were in several pieces whilst the furry offender snapped happily at the debris. The little b*stard. We cable-protect everything that we can in the house and have even tried daubing some cables with things like Tabasco sauce and commercial cat repellents. The problem is that headphones can't really be coated in repellents.

Harry has always, always been a chewer. It doesn't matter how much or how little attention we give him or how many chew toys he has. He just has an affinity with destruction. This has become much more problematic since the birth of Michael because we are often tired and our attention is constantly diverted. Much as we love the cats, they are not 'fur babies' in our house. They are just cats and second in our affections to Michael.

We don't really know what to do to solve this problem. In our next house we hope to have a secure garden or at least space to create an outdoor run so that the cats can have a more varied environment. It was suggested to me that we should consult a cat psychologist. I guess it is an option but I envisage paying a fortune to be told that we should play with Harry more. We're exhausted and Harry is incredibly demanding. The more attention we give him, the more he demands. I think that Harry's personality is perfectly suited to being some older couple's only pampered prince. We wouldn't consider re-homing him but now acknowledge that he is not a good match for a young couple with a baby.

Phil has just presented me with his only spare pair of headphones and a plastic tub to keep them safe in. I really hope I can make them last longer than the last pair...

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Happy Birthday Phil!

Happy Birthday, Phil!

With love from,
Catherine & Michael xx

Saturday, 10 March 2007

This and that

Oh my God - how disgusting is tofu? Sometimes (especially in spring with all the lambs gamboling around) I have a crisis of conscience about eating meat and get the urge to go vegetarian. I have never before eaten tofu and since it is cheap and supposedly healthy I thought I'd give it a go in tonight's sweet and sour instead of chicken. Oh, what a mistake. If I had chopped up a bath sponge and added it to the frying pan I would have got more flavour.

And now for a completely different topic. It was my 30th birthday on Thursday (March 8th) and I had a fantastic day. I got a good haul of presents and after having a leisurely breakfast we headed out to Amsterdam to spend the day. I bought far too many books in the American Book Center and then we wandered over to the Begijnhof. It is a very famous hidden court dating from the 14th century. It houses the English Reformed Church and on the day we visited they were having an organ recital. I was very impressed by how well behaved Michael was. I was carrying him around in my baby carrier and he was extremely peaceful. Nonetheless, I didn't risk taking him into the Miracle Church because it is a place of prayer. I would have loved to have spent some time admiring the paintings.

Despite receiving a 50 euro parking fine for accidentally parking in a loading and unloading bay, we left Amsterdam in good spirits and headed off to a restaurant for a steak dinner. Michael sat in a high chair and thoroughly enjoyed himself. He was the life and soul of the party and was great company. Phil loves showing him off and spent ages entertaining him and making him laugh. I tried Michael again with banana but he hated it and promptly threw it on the floor. Point taken, my love.

My birthday was the only day in the last couple of weeks when we have actually had good weather. It was cold and grey yesterday and again today. We have day tripped to Leiden and Den Haag but didn't have anywhere near as much fun. Michael has been in apparently excruciating pain with teething so we have been turning ourselves inside out trying to keep him happy and comfortable.

Tomorrow we're going to spend a lazy day at home. I don't dare hope that Michael will be happy enough to play on his own because he is, understandably, very clingy when he is teething. If I do get a minute to myself then I'll bury my nose in a book. I'm reading two at the moment:
  • The Last Days of Henry VIII: Conspiracies, Treason and Heresy at the Court of the Dying Tyrant by Robert Hutchinson
  • Thud! by Terry Pratchett
I have a passion for the Tudor period of English history and came across the book on Henry VIII in the bargain section of the American Book Center. How could I resist? From what I have read so far, it seems to be a fanciful treatment of the subject and reads more like a work of fiction. I'm loving it and read out the more entertaining extracts to Phil (whether he wants me to or not).

Update on dinner: Normally I am very good at eating what is put before me but I just could not eat that tofu. YUUUUUUUUUUCK! I'm afraid that I am guilty of eating around it and then tossing it into the bin.

Is Bin Laden in your garden?

Good grief...

Saturday, 3 March 2007


I mentioned in my first blog entry that we are in the process of applying for permanent residency in Canada. The application process is very complicated and involves completing a lot of forms; supplying education certificates; statements from past and present employers; police checks and submitting to a thorough physical and mental examination. I have taken the task of the putting the application together upon myself. I'm a lot cheaper than hiring an immigration consultant and, perversely, I like filling in forms (my secret shame).

I think it is going to take at least a couple of months to gather together all the necessary supporting documentation. I managed to find an online copy of the guide that is given to medical examiners by the Canadian immigration department. It is the kind of read that will make the layperson's eyes glaze over but it was very informative and (unintentionally) amusing in places. As long as neither Phil nor I turn into a syphilitic, faeces smearing terrorist during the application process, I have high hopes that our application won't be rejected on medical grounds.