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New Year, New Grenglish

Some time last year, I decided to move this blog over to a site, so I bought the domain name and had a snazzy new logo designed and then I did nothing else.  Well, I did lots of things, but none of them new blog design related.

On and off, I tinkered with the design and layout.  I played around with different themes and looks and colours.  I transferred all my old content, but then I got a bit bored with the techie stuff and left it sitting there unused, gathering cyberdust.

Then, I thought I would just get on with it.  The new site will be a work in progress for some time but I will just make tweaks as I go along.

I hope you like it.  You can visit the new site by clicking here.

Unfortunately, I have not found a way to transfer all my old subscribers yet so if you are still enjoying your subscription to Grenglish, then please take a moment to re-enter your email address in and re-subscribe.

The Morning After

When I left you last, I was getting ready for my first Saturday night out in Central London, possibly since my twenties.

I managed to find something to wear, apply a few layers of concealer and run a hot tong through my hair before leaving the house.  On time, I might also add!  

These are my observations of how things have moved on ‘out there’ in the last decade.

We met in a cocktail bar.  In my twenties, we would probably have met at someone’s house, armed with a bottle of vodka and an array of costume changes.  It is far more civilised now that I am a respectable 30-something.

We actually ordered cocktails and knew that we would be able to pay for them.  In my twenties, we would probably have split a bottle of house wine in a pub.  One of those classy establishments where you get two bottles for £5.

We went for dinner to a little tapas place across the street and loaded up on not very much really, but the thought was there.  Next time, we must remember to order more carb based dishes and fewer bottles of wine. 

In my twenties, we would have skipped this stage of the evening entirely.

After dinner, we went back to the cocktail bar, which was unfortunately about to close, so some bright spark had the idea to move on to The Sanderson for cocktails instead. 

In my defence, they all agreed that it was a marvellous idea too.

This is when my recollection of events starts to get a bit blurry.

The same bright spark then had the idea to organise a photo shoot in the back of the taxi, which was quite obviously hilarious.   Maybe just to us.

scenario 1: reality tv star spots blogger with camera

scenario 2: taxi driver trumped (no really, he did)

scenario 3: how many bottles of wine consumed?

I think you had to be there to fully appreciate the different scenarios we were trying to recreate.

The doorman at The Sanderson refused to let us in when we fell out of the cab 15-minutes later.  This would not have happened in my twenties.  We would most certainly have been ushered in and escorted to a table.

Eventually, when he realised that we were not going away any time soon, he opened the door and let us go inside.  I think we might have whooped or clapped or something.  I don’t remember all the minor details. 
The Sanderson was packed full of gorgeous people in their twenties.   This has always been the way. 
Back when I was trying to be one of them, there would always be a group of 4 women on the wrong side of 35, enjoying a rare night away from their families and getting absolutely smashed while dancing maniacally at the bar. 
Only difference being, that this time  it was us. 
I am not sure that I will ever be able to return. 
‘We should go home now’ one of us announced (and I am pretty sure it was not me) over the music.  To which we all stopped dancing, picked our coats up off the floor and walked off, leaving 4 vodka & tonics untouched on the bar. 
This would never have happened in my twenties.  Both the leaving of the bar and of the vodkas.
On stepping outside into the cold air, we went off in search of a cab.  For about an hour.  The roads were deserted.  We walked up and down Oxford Street, arms linked, swaying and singing.  I cannot think why we did not look like desirable passengers.
I have no idea where all the taxi drivers hang out on a Saturday night in Central London, but a little man on a rickshaw promised he could take us to them. 
So, without hesitation we hopped in and off he cycled, as we squealed with excitement.  I think with our combined body weight, that he got quite the workout!  
I do remember traveling this way once or twice before in my twenties.
There was one solitary taxi at the rank when we arrived so, as I live South-East and both the girls are South-West, we agreed that we would share the taxi and that I would stay the night with my sister-in-law, Eva. 
The Greek God(zilla) was not too amused when I called to tell him this at 3am. 
What a dirty stopout. 
My twenties were fabulous fun and I loved revisiting them for a night but when I woke up a few hours later, feeling about 45, and the Greek God(zilla) was not by my side and my little boy was not in the next room calling me for a cuddle, I desperately missed my 30-something life.
Although the 30-something hangover, not so much.

You can also find me on Facebook and on Twitter @smudgerella

Saturday Night

I am going out in Central London tonight to drink cocktails and eat tapas.  I cannot remember the last time I went out on a Saturday night, in town, with four other women.  It is quite possible that I was in my twenties.

When I was in my twenties, I would have worn jeans with heels, dried my hair upside down and that would have been enough.

Today I find myself putting far more thought into it than that and feel the need to start the preparations much earlier these days.

In order for me to wear jeans tonight, it would require an immediate 2 stone weight loss, so I need to rummage through my wardrobe to find something else that fits, and can be worn with leggings.

I also need to spend a considerable amount of time in velcro rollers to make my hair look like it has simply been dried upside down.

Then there is the eyebrow grooming, that has slipped a bit of late.  The dark circles under my eyes, that require a second layer of concealer.  The heels that I need to break in and practice walking in again.

It would have been nice to have squeezed in some time at the gym this morning to earn a few extra weightwatcher points to swap for more cocktails later tonight, but I have an energetic two-year old at home and a husband with a hangover, who has only just gotten up.

It’s ok, it doesn’t happen often and I will have definitely earned a few extra brownie points to put towards my own sleep-in tomorrow.

There is also a supermarket shop that needs to really be done today, or we won’t eat next week.  Or, more likely is we will eat from the M&S dinner for two range every night, which will cost twice as much as the weekly shop.

So, I envisage having about 45 uninterrupted minutes later to get myself ready for cocktails in town with the girls, which is twice as much time as I have to get myself ready for work each morning but only half the time I probably need to make myself feel presentable.

However, I am nothing if not a multi-tasker.  I have sent the Greek God(zilla) out for the food shop while I get on and entertain the toddler.  We are playing a new game this afternoon of pulling all mummy’s clothes out of her wardrobe, trying them on with leggings and then putting them all back in again.

I usually pluck my eyebrows in the car but as I am taking the tube tonight, I will have to tweeze in the bath instead.  That should then leave me half an hour to dry my hair upside down, in heels, run a bit of defrizz serum through it and apply two coats of concealer.

I will certainly not be mistaken for the twenties version of myself, but hopefully I will not be mistaken for an extra from Eastenders either.

You can also find me on Facebook and on Twitter @smudgerella

EDWI Pamper & Swishing event

EDWI Pamper & Swishing event

The last thing I fancied doing on the eve of my return to work, when I had a two-year old at home recovering from chicken pox and it was absolutely piddling down outside, was attend a Pamper & Swishing Evening.  

Even if it was being hosted by the totally gorgeous East Dulwich WI.

But I had committed to going along, so after putting a spotty toddler to bed, I hopped into the car and drove to the EDT on Lordship Lane.  

I then spent the next 20 minutes trying to find a parking space as close as possible to the venue, failed miserably and had to leg it for at least 3 minutes (!) in the pouring rain.

By the time I arrived, the event was in full swing… or should I say full swish!

Swishing refers to swapping items of clothing, shoes, accessories etc with friends.  This part of the evening was hosted by Give + Take.  

Give + Take is more than just your average clothes shop as they also operate a part-exchange system too.  Rows upon rows of pre-loved designer items were lined up for our shopping pleasure.

I had never swished before but found the whole idea of being able to take in old clothes, that I have grown out of tired of, in to Give + Take and then in return being able to walk out with a new selection of old clothes quite exciting!

Just as exciting was that Deborah from Shaws Solutions was on hand to show us how to create a capsule wardrobe and pulled together a few key looks from Give + Take, which were modeled beautifully by the EDWI’s very own, very lovely, Anna.

If you have a wardrobe full of clothes that you do not wear, or do not know how to wear, then you can arrange for Deborah to come and Gok Wan you in the comfort of your very own home.  She will not even ask you to strut naked in your local shopping centre in front of friends, neighbours and your children’s head teacher.  Well she might, but you would not be contractually obliged to do so.

Once I had dragged myself away from a pre-loved red silk Jaeger dress, that was so pretty but would only really work in the life I used to live, I decided to go and check out what was going on over in the Pamper room.

The nice people at Therapy had popped along and were giving  manicures in the red room.

I spotted Kevin from Push Studios  over the other side of the room, who was there to talk about nutrition and exercise.  I was about to bound over when I noticed that he had also brought along a set of scales with him, so steered clear!  Sorry Kevin, but I will not be scales hopping ready until mid-Spring, at the very least.

Mini facials were being provided by Suzanne from Indulgence and Melanie from Intelligent Beauty was giving out relaxing head massages.

If reflexology is your thing then Theresa from Soles4Soul was there, as well as the GMs Hair crew, who were offering hair colour and cut consultations.  

Dr Boo had set up shop opposite the bar, how clever of them!  

They were giving free make-overs and showing how to plump up your lips without needles or surgery, just a special lipstick and liner.

At the end of the night, a raffle was drawn with prizes having been donated by the local businesses in attendance on the night.  The first prize was a make-over with Dr Boo, which I only went and won!   I do not think I have ever drawn first prize in anything before!

So, it may surprise you to hear that I did not keep the prize for myself in the end (ungrateful cow) .  As I am fortunate enough to have a very talented sister, who I often call upon to perform impromptu make-overs on me, I decided to pass the prize on to the lovely person standing next to me instead, who really really really wanted the make-over and was thrilled to bits to receive it. 

In return, she is going to help me with my little eBook project, so everyone’s a winner!

I am so glad I stayed until the end.

The East Dulwich WI meets on the first Wednesday of each month at The Lodge, above East Dulwich Tavern, 1 Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, SE22 8EW. Meetings start at 7.30pm.  Membership is based on the calendar year. Please download an application form from the East Dulwich WI website and bring it along to the next meeting. 

Membership for 2012 is £31.50 for the year.

Have you swished before?

You can also find me on Facebook and on Twitter @smudgerella

2011 highs and lows

Posted on

2011 was the year that the Greek God(zilla) and I bought our first house ‘together’… and sold his bachelor pad.

2011 was the year that I joined the East Dulwich WI… and later went on to join the committee.

2011 was the year that I started tweeting… and blogging!

2011 was the year that I swore off dieting… and upped a jeans size.

2011 was the year that I made new friends… and skyped with old ones.

2011 was the year that I joined a gym… and went 7 times.

2011 was the year that Zachy dropped his morning nap… and asked for it back again.

2011 was the year that we finally opened the bottle of 1969 Barolo… and discovered it was corked.

2011 was the year that Zachy obsessed over In the Night Garden… and then Peppa Pig… and now Ben & Holly’s Magical Kingdom.

2011 was the year that I was asked to write for other people… and was published in print for the first time.

2011 was the year that I was invited to review books and films… and jumped up and down with excitement.

2011 was the year that I was invited to review product after product after service after product… and politely declined.

2011 was the year that Zachy dropped his morning nap, again… and it was for real this time.  Growing up so fast…

2011 was the year that BB got together with Rob… and we all went on holiday to Crete together.

2011 was the year that we reviewed our childcare arrangements… and changed them.

2011 was the year that Zachy turned two… and I turned 28 *

2011 was the year that I juggled too much… and had to find a better balance.

2011 was the year that I bought my first pair of Choos… and they are worth. every. penny.

2011 was the year that I became a Godmother to the Griwi twins, Otus & Leo… and gained 3 fellow Godmothers’ for life.

2011 was the year after my grandfather died… and thought of him every day.

2011 was the year that the A-Team got a new sofa… and we got their old one.

2011 was the year when I faced my fear of the kitchen… and now can’t stop baking.

2011 was the year when the congestion zone extension was scrapped… and I saved £40 a week.

2011 was the year when I saved £40 a week… and had no idea where.

2011 was the year when I decided to get an iphone… and then didn’t (but I will).

2011 was the year when we did the whole Father Christmas thing… and Zachy did not bat an eyelid.

2011 was the year when I decided to co-write an eBook… and more on this later.

* add 10 years

What were your highs and lows of 2011?

 You can also find me on Facebook and on Twitter @smudgerella

Boxing Day

The Greek God(zilla) woke up at Yiayia’s house on Boxing Day with a raging hangover and flu-like symptoms and loss of voice.

This often happens when there is a long drive ahead of us and the car needs to be packed.  However, some turkey leftovers and a cup of Yiayia’s special tea from Crete did the trick, and by midday he felt well enough to get up and embark on the 2-hour journey to visit my Mum’s side of the family in Colchester, Essex.

The Boxing Day party is a family tradition on my side, that has been going on for many years.  I have attended this family get together for as long as I can remember (my teenage ‘dark years’ excluded and forgiven never spoken of).

My mum is one of six children.  They have all gone on to get married and most have had children of their own.  The first batch of offspring have in turn, gone on to get married and have children of their own.  The next batch are teenagers, or approaching so, and it will not be long before they are also bringing partners home to meet the rest of the family.

All in all, there are over 30 of us in attendance these days, spanning four generations.

The format for the day has remained the same over the years.  It is hosted at the house of one of the six siblings every year.  Booze and food is plentiful and one of my uncles will dress up as Father Christmas to hand out the presents.

This year it was the turn of Uncle Pete.  Married to my mum’s sister, Linda, also our hosts for the day.

Dan and John are their children.  Dan is married to Louise, she makes the best cupcakes, ever.  This is a fact.  The Greek God(zilla) likes her a lot because she is pretty and laughs at all his jokes.  Dan & Lou have an 18-month old daughter, Isabelle.

Sharing a bite

John is recently engaged to Marie.

Not to be confused with Marie,  married to my Mum’s brother, Mick.  Or with Maria, married to my cousin Robert.  Or even with the other Mick, who is married to my Aunt Jackie.

There is a lot to remember and I am impressed when he matches all the couples with their children, their siblings and their jobs correctly.

I could not even tell you what Uncle John (not to be mistaken with cousin John) does for a living.  I think it is something to do with money and he tells me he is quite good at it.  Uncle John is married to Jennie and they have 3 children – Jessica, Phoebe and Callum, the youngest of my first cousins.

Jess & Callum help Santa with the presents

‘I made your favourite cupcakes’ said Louise to the Greek God(zilla) when we arrived.  His face lit up.

While he scanned the room to locate the exact whereabouts of the cupcakes, Zachy was similarly scanning the room for his favourite playmate, Grandad.

And, that was the last we saw of Zachy for a few hours.

Sue & Cliff arrived after us, armed with a trifle.  They have two boys – Robert and David.  Rob is married to Maria and they have a little boy, James.  David is married to Kelly and they have 3-year old twin girls, who I think must be my second cousins and Zachy’s third?  I am not sure how it all works out, so let’s just say they are cousins.

Uncle Pete (Santa) with Uncle Cliff on his knee

I hardly recognised my cousin Katie, who arrived with her parents Jackie & Mick.  Last year she was young girl and this year, an Amazonian Goddess.  Just beautiful.  She has a sister, Sophie, who I still think of as being 12 years old, but she is probably closer to 18 now.  They have a brother, Luke, who I am certain was a baby the last time I saw him, yet he looks about 11 now.  It is scary.

At the helm of this family, is my Nan.  She has 6 children, 14 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren and she manages to get us all together, in the same room, every year.

She also hand knitted scarves for every single one of us girls.  Here we all are wearing them.

What a legend.

We quickly dosed the Greek God(zilla) up with Lemsip, before leaving to start our drive back home with a boot full of presents and a traveling cupcake.

‘Much better than yours, love’ remarked the Greek God(zilla) between mouthfuls of sponge and fresh cream.

They really are delicious, I must get the recipe.

Christmas Day

The problem with not sitting down for Christmas lunch until almost 5pm, is that you will most likely already be quite squiffy.  Especially if you cracked open the bubbly at noon.

There are mixed opinions on why lunch was served later than usual this year.

Some may say it was because opening the presents took so long.  But, you try explaining to 1-year old Griwi twins and a Grenglish toddler, that turns are taken in order of age… descending.

Others will argue that it was in fact the settling of said Griwi twins and Grenglish toddler for an afternoon nap, that took too long.  This also, may well be the case.

However, everyone agreed that it was absolutely NOT because of any miscalculations in Yiayia’s kitchen, and it was definitely not anything to do with the turkey being ready before the potatoes had started to crisp up.  Or, that it took 3 people to lift it out of the oven.  No, it was absolutely nothing to do with that.  Not. At. All.

Nor, was it that we got a bit distracted capturing the moment(s) on camera(s).

I can not find one photo where Z does not have his finger up his nose

So, while Yiayia, BB and the Greek God(zilla) were air lifting the turkey out for another basting and all the kids had given up the pretence of needing a lunchtime doze, the rest of us got stuck into an unattended bottle of champagne.

Every now and then, we would all look up at the clock and wonder if we would be eating before the Eastenders duff duff, but then someone would top up our glasses again and we’d forget whatever it was we were wondering.

Lunch was delicious and well worth the wait.  We had traditional roast turkey with roast potatoes, brussel sprouts and chestnut stuffing.  To follow, we had Christmas pudding, trifle and chocolate orange cupcakes.

if it at first it does not light, just pour more brandy and try and try again

Yiayia and BB were nervous about the trifle.  For over 20 years, they have been making it together and trying to perfect the (totally made up) recipe and for over 20 years, they have been having hysterical laughing fits in the kitchen when they realise that it has not turned out quite right again.

This year, they left the jelly to set on its own for a bit longer before throwing the other ingredients in and finally, after a 20 year practice run, they got it right.  Hooray!

Although, it was probably a bit wasted on us at this stage in the drinking day.

BB gets into the Christmas Spirit (mainly brandy)

How was your Christmas Day?

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