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The Big Zeroes

watch us go from zeroes to heroes

Category Archives: Keris

One of my uncle’s sisters married an American and they lived on an Army base in Germany. Whenever they came over to visit, they’d bring some American delicacy with them and I remember this – pistachio ice cream with mini marshmallows – as something they brought*.

After I made this list I rang my aunty to ask her about it and she said it wasn’t pistachio ice cream at all – it was pistachio powder and cream. Oh. Obviously I tweeted about pistachio powder and my Canadian friend Mo replied saying they have pistachio “pudding” in Canada. I’ve often wondered what Americans/Canadians are referring to when they talk about “pudding” and Mo kindly offered to send me some to see for myself.

Turns out it’s sort of like Angel Delight. Mo sent a few flavours and the boys LOVED it. I was not so keen. And I still didn’t have any mini marshmallows. Then, yesterday, we were in a local market and I saw a pack of mini marshmallows for the bargain price of £1. So I made up the pudding (the instructions made me laugh: “allow to set for 3 minutes. If you want a firmer pudding, set for 5 minutes.”) and dished it up with the marshmallows for myself and the boys (David wanted no part of it). Despite the fact that the pudding smelled strongly of something from primary school – Play-doh? Gloy gum? I can’t work out what it is and it’s driving me nuts – the boys scarfed the lot. I mainly ate the marshmallows and felt a bit bilious.

I’m glad I tried it, but it very much wasn’t the same. Just shows that you can’t go home again (to desserts you’ve remembered wrongly…)

* Of course, if I’d really thought about it, I would have realised they’d hardly brought ice cream over from Germany, but whatever.



For years I’ve struggled to find a perfume I felt was “me”. A girl at school wore Obsession and though I liked the smell of it (remember the adverts? “Obsession. Ah, the smell of it!”), I thought it was too mature, too sexy, to womanly for a 16-year-old girl to be wearing.

Even though I’m *cough* 40 now, I still feel like lots of perfumes are too womanly or sexy for me. I love Youth Dew, but it is not youthful. Whenever I’ve done those ‘work out your perfume personality’ tests, I come out as fruity/sporty, but lots of fruity perfumes smell a bit sickly on me.

I loved the look of Benefit’s Crescent Row perfumes the first time I saw them, lined up in their little houses. The packaging is just gorgeous and right up my street (not the bottles themselves, but the boxes). I tried the one that sounded most like my kind of thing, but I didn’t like it at all. So then I tried Lookin’ to Rock Rita and So Hooked On Carmella and struggled to choose between them. Finally I plumped for Rita.

The description is

  • top notes: lemon, coconut, freesia
  • middle notes: juicy fig, hyacinth, violet
  • bottom notes: sandalwood, brazilian rosewood, vanilla

and while I love lemon, coconut, violent and vanilla, that was less important to me than the fact that it just smelled very “me”. I could not stop sniffing it when I first bought it and even now I love putting it on in the morning. (Last night, Harry had sprayed it on himself and I couldn’t stop sniffing him either!)

The fab thing about the Crescent Row perfumes is they’re all meant to complement each other, so if I ever do get tired of Rita, I can layer her with one of the others, but for the now we’re very happy together.

I first saw Avenue Q in 2005 on Broadway (I know!) and I absolutely loved it. I downloaded the soundtrack and listened to it almost obsessively. At the time I was still working in Manchester in a job that made me pretty miserable and I often played the final song in the show – For Now* – as I walked to work and thought about a time when things would be different.

Things are VERY different now. Not only do I do a job I love, I have a completely different life. A much happier life. In fact, when I spotted that Avenue Q was coming to The Lowry, I was in Starbucks working on a proposal for a new book (and eating a Sparkle Pop).

Even so, I still absolutely loved the show. It’s so warm and brilliantly funny. The songs are gorgeous and the cast brilliant. Plus I went with my lovely friend Kirsty who I also didn’t know in 2005. It was so lovely to see it again.

* For Now

Everyone’s a little bit unsatisfied.
Everyone goes ’round a little empty inside.
Take a breath, look around, swallow your pride,
For now…
For now…

Nothing lasts,
Life goes on,
Full of surprises.
You’ll be faced with problems of all shapes and sizes.
You’re going to have to make a few compromises…
For now…
For now…

But only for now! (For now)
Only for now! (For now)
Only for now! (For now)
Only for now!

For now we’re healthy.
For now we’re employed.
For now we’re happy…
If not overjoyed.
And we’ll accept the things we cannot avoid, for now…

For now…
For now…
For now…

I’ve always had an image in my head of what it would be like to go camping. Me, David and the boys, sitting outside the tent, David cooking bacon or sausages on one of those little camping stoves things, all of us snuggled up in sleeping bags, looking at the stars…

But I had another – equally strong – image: Joe wriggling out from under the canvas (or unzipping the front “door”) and sodding off. So when I got the opportunity to go “glamping” I thought it was a perfect way to try camping without the, um, stresses of camping. We went to Featherdown Farm in Dolphinholme, which is less than an hour from our house, but we thought we’d start small.

The farm was fabulous and even though we (David) didn’t get to cook on a teeny stove, we did get to fetch our eggs from under the chickens each morning, Harry got to sleep in a cupboard (which he loved) and Joe basically had the time of his life.

We all loved it and it was cosy and fun while being comfortable and safe. And it also taught me that I am totally not cut out for “proper” camping.

On Sunday we were at my sister’s on the Wirral and David suggested we go to Parkgate. By the time we got there, Joe was asleep and the only shop that had been selling shrimps was closed.

Me and Harry walked along the main road and got ice creams then Harry asked me about the buildings (he wanted to know if they were there in 1666 – he’s obsessed with the Great Fire of London) and the marsh and Wales over the other side.

And then we went back to the car. It wasn’t quite what I’d imagined, but the place itself wasn’t quite how I remembered it (it was a lot smaller, for one). Even so, I’m glad we went (and that ice cream was salted peanut flavour! That’s a first!).

Gosh, I watched this ages ago and completely forgot to blog about it. I think maybe because I feel like a philistine because I just didn’t enjoy it much at all. I found the story boring and the dance numbers didn’t flow within the plot at all. I appreciate that it was early days for this kind of film and they obviously hadn’t worked out how to transition yet, but I was disappointed.

I was also disappointed by Fred Astaire as a romantic lead. Not just because he looked about 50 (even though I think he was only in his late 30s), but because he kept reminding me of Stan Laurel. I really liked Ginger Rogers though, she wasn’t at all what I was expecting. I’d always imagined her as elegant and “ladylike” and deferential to ol’ Fred, but she wasn’t at all. She was actually quite tomboy-ish (even though I hate that term).

I’m glad I watched it (and the songs were lovely), but i think I’ll stick to Gene Kelly in future.

How I love Chris and Pui. I loved them when they presented CBeebies and I love them on their new show, Show Me Show Me.

Fortunately, Harry and Joe both love them too. Harry’s getting a bit old for them, but he is obviously still fond of them and so off we went to Stockport to see their roadshow. I’d wanted to take the boys last year, but missed them a couple of times, so I was determined to see them this year.

I hadn’t told the boys where we were going and we were waiting outside the Stockport Plaza for David (who’d gone to get cash) when Harry said, “Hey, look! Chris and Pui!” He’d spotted the poster outside and so we went over to have a look at it.

“They’re here on Saturday, 12th February,” he read.

“Really? What date is it today?”

He thought a bit. “I think it’s Saturday the 12th February! Check your phone!”

I checked and confirmed that it was indeed Saturday, 12th February.

“They’re here today!” Harry said.

“Do you think that might be why we’re here?” I asked him and the penny finally – finally! – dropped. Fortunately I managed to capture the exact moment on my phone:

And there's Daddy reflected in the door!

Of course as soon as the show started, I welled up. The children – all the children, not just my two – were so cute and excited. Joe sat on my knee and paid attention. He joined in with the songs, clapped and cheered. Harry looked transfixed (and about twice the size of all the other kids there). And the show was really fun.

I’m so glad we took them.

Thank you to Ted Doan at The Stockport Plaza for the tickets.