Happy Birthday – not

Ok so I’ve touched on my experience of giving birth in Ibiza. It was weird and relatively traumatic but I knew reasonably well what I was doing the sixth time round so I got over it.
Being the size of a Sherman tank for near on ten months at a time and then giving birth has been quite a major part of my life thus far so I can’t really escape regaling you with the odd detail of the other arrivals. I am a recidivist birth giver. What can I say? I love babies. Maybe I should be locked up for my own safety.

Nappy Christmas

My first birth was an eye opener. I remember looking incredulously at another mum on the ward afterwards. She was there fourth time round and I had to ask her why on earth anyone would ever do that more than once. Clearly I ignored myself with alacrity after that. The boy was due on the 4th January so I was looking forward to getting Christmas out of the way then getting on with the matter in hand. The memory of this Mary woman having done it was about to be celebrated with lots of high exultation type stuff so why couldn’t I grab a bit of this birth action? Virgin issues notwithstanding. Unfortunately by around 10 AM a couple of days before Christmas crippling labour pains made it clear the boy was about to make a Jesus Christ upstaging entrance before the big, big day. I had nothing in the house, no provisions other than Christmas stuff, no nappies and no food for our poor cats. Unless I was going to feed the new arrival liquid stuffing and cranberry sauce something had to be done and quickly. I guess I could have fashioned a nappy or two from the new Christmas table cloth but I figured I had a bit of time left. I dashed in a waddly, ungainly and very unattractive sort of way to the supermarket at the top of the street. Standing in the queue, basket of hastily chosen goods in hand, the smiley cashier enquired when I was due. “Oh in about a couple of hours I imagine” I managed. My attempt at casual conversation somewhat pole axed by my doubling over with another contraction. I’ve never seen anyone handle a supermarket till and twenty tins of cat food with such speed and dexterity to this day. I was out of there in two seconds flat and powering my way to the call box like a ship in full sail.

I’m sick of this!

Once I was ensconced in the hospital bed I started to realise just how bad this was going to get. Mid way through I felt horribly sick having eaten lunch en route. I screamed at my mother, who’d come along for the ride, to pass me a bowl. Unfortunately I entirely misfired and threw up all over my husband’s shoes. Revenge is sweet. Feeling the need to clear my throat I then spat out the remains, misfired again and hit my poor mother. Oh, the fun they had.
In retrospect it must have been normal procedure but as soon as the boy’s arrival looked imminent the midwife pressed an alarm button to summon someone to help. Having only seen her press the button with no explanation, and in so much agony I couldn’t for a second believe it was normal, I then convinced myself I was in fact about to die. I screamed the bloody house down until the boy shot out and actually landed right at the end of the bed. They had to catch him to stop him shooting right off and hitting the deck. To this day I think it was the force of my screams that propelled him there.

Come in number two, your time is up!

Number two came along relatively easily except that I was persuaded to try some gas and air I didn’t want. It must have been instinct because it most definitely didn’t agree with me. Just beforehand I’d asked one particularly hatchet faced midwife if I could eat something. She’d refused on the grounds that things were about to gather momentum any time soon. One sniff of the gas and air and that was it. I just remember telling my hubby that if that bloody bitch was intent on starving me I didn’t want her anywhere near me ever again. At one point apparently I attempted to get off the bed telling everyone I was going home. Not my finest moment with a baby’s head hanging out from between my legs. I have had better ideas along the way. I was later told that gas and air can bring out the worst in some people so I think maybe I should have trusted my instincts. My poor husband spent the whole time in a state of fear. Not because I was giving birth and he was squeamish or anything. He was just dreading the poor midwife coming back in and what I would do to her if she did. What can I say? I like my food.
After that I decided I’d had enough of hospitals and my next one would be born in the comfort of my own home with a midwife who would actually let me do as I pleased. Clearly I had a preference for regurgitating my dinner on the shoes of the person who got me into that state in the first place. Beats squishing their hand any day if you ask me!
All my children appear to be too much for one blog post so I’ll share the joy of birth numbers three four and five with you another day.

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Sunday is hacking day

Hi all.
This isn’t a proper post. Well obviously it is or it wouldn’t be on the site but it’s just a bit of an explanation of the new look. On Sunday the site was hacked by, I would imagine, a sad, pathetic and somewhat dishevelled individual in a darkened room somewhere in a country far, far away who has piss all else to do. They seemed to think they were making a strong political point about their country far far away and it’s mistreatment by the powers that be. By hacking an expat mummies blog.
Well yes cleary it worked as I had Obama on the phone within minutes. “Bazzer mate” I said “Don’t you be worrying your pretty little head about it. I haven’t told them a thing . Everything we discuss on Mamasblogtime stays on Mamasblogtime Baz, you know that”. He was cool with that so I asked how ‘Shell and the kids were getting on and he said he’d catch up with me over dinner in the big house sometime soon. He said he was gonna release a few political prisoners just to be on the safe side as he didn’t want to screw things up for me too much. He’s sound like that.
Well then of course Dave my old mucker from number 10 was on the blower wanting to know if I needed any help getting things up and running. “Nah Dave old fella” I told him ” It’s Sunday man, you get back to your Shergar joint and all the trimmings and I’ll get your tech guys to sort it, it was just someone horsing about, no big deal” He said he’d call again next week and hoped he’d Findus well by then.
Anyway thanks to Ade, Daves tech guy, and a bit of redesign on my part we’re all good to go again just looking a bit different. It still needs a few tweaks so please be patient and if anything displeases do let me know and I’ll see what I can do.
I’ve also installed some new security which allows me to ban a whole country so yea you’re banned. Need to be careful as I’m getting a bit meglomaniac here. Even the bouncers in Space can’t ban a whole country. If in the future they find a way round it please be patient. I realise I’m an obvious target being so influential and all but we all have our crosses to bear *sigh*
I have also installed a new feature that means you can get email notifications of new posts. You’ll find it top right of the page.
Anyway must dash as I have a meeting with my mates Kate and Will this afty to decide on the name of the new sprog. Couldn’t make a decision to save their lives them two. Bloody pain in the arse to be honest but someones got to sort them out :)

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Wedding Bells Part 2 Bridezilla the movie

So I’d eventually got the dress, a top and skirt in fact. Shoes were a whole other story. They were procured three days before. It proved a nightmare to find something suitable, not too plain but just the right side of tart if you know what I mean. Anyway eventually we found them but I have to say I teetered, not being a great heel wearer.
Come the big day I had a full flight of stairs as my “aisle” and then a few metres of gravel to cross to the “altar”. I spent several hours training my oldest who was giving me away to hold me up through the journey. We had to buy extra stocks of TCP just to clean the wounds on his forearm where my nails were digging in.

Bridezilla the movie

Anyway the morning was spent with my hairdresser desperately trying to calm me down and do hair at the same time. Unfortunately, and I have no idea why, but I had started to lose my voice. I had also sprained my wrist moving furniture around earlier in the morning. So there I was sounding like a bad Bonnie Tyler impersonator with laryngitis, with a wrist swelling at a rate of knots. More of the choking bride than the blushing bride. The hairdresser and I were holed up in the bedroom. Someone/everyone was sorting out the children, all to be dressed in white shirts and white dresses respectively. Now kids and white clothes go together about as well as Sid Vicious and the Pope. Consequently I didn’t want them dressing more than two minutes before the ceremony at 4.30. At 2 someone came in and asked” Shall I get the kids ready” No, not until 4 I told them. There then followed a stream of the well intentioned at 15 minute intervals asking the same. There I was, voice rapidly disappearing, ice pack on wrist, suffocating in a cloud of Elnett, desperately trying not to speak and having to repeat this instruction time after time. When the last one came in my hairdresser was more stressed than me by then. Before they’d got past “Shall I….” she bellowed at them “NOT TIL FOUR!!!” So as you can see it was all about as calm and collected as the first day of Harrods sale.

Hot stuff

And it was getting hotter by the minute. Early June should be comfortable but the mercury was rising about as fast as my blood pressure. Aisle time arrived and I actually made it without landing on my face at the bottom of the stairs. There was my beloved at the altar with sweat patches the size of Asia in his pits. Sexy. On all the photos you will notice my middle, armpit height child strategically placed in my hubby’s pits to hide the stains. Poor boy, I’m not sure how he lasted the day without passing out. I stood there, sweat dripping all over the place, make up sliding off my face and croaked my way through my vows. We made a lovely couple.
It wasn’t until after the ceremony however that one of the guests enlightened me to the fact that the top of my skirt was in fact pretty transparent in the sun and my skimpy wedding knickers had been visible through the whole affair. Along with the tattoo on my ass. I spent the next hour asking around casually of the other guests “So did you enjoy the ceremony and by the way did you notice my knickers?” Unfortunately the answer was a resounding yes. Little did they know they were about to see a whole lot more.

Have a coke and a smile-not

I was standing chatting to guests with my daughter and someone said something, more than likely pertaining to my knickers, which made her laugh. Things then took on that slow motion quality of bad films, American cold case series and presumably the last 30 seconds of your life where it all flashes by in glorious Technicolor. The laugh made her cough, the cough jolted her hand and the whole damn glass of coke she was holding sprayed out of the glass like a brown fizzy tsunami straight down my cleavage and the front of my lovely white dress. After the initial few second “Oh my God” frozen moment I dashed into the downstairs loo. I ripped off the top, not easy when it involves thirty hooks and eyes, and ran it under the cold tap.

100 metre dash

It was then I realised I had sod all to put on, we’d forgotten to put a towel in the downstairs loo and the only way to my room was back outside and up the stairs through all the assembled guests. Left with no choice I stood by the loo door radiant and half naked in my skirt, heels and bra waiting for an opportune moment. Needless to say in a garden packed with our friends and relatives, it didn’t come and I just had to make a dash for it. Weirdly several people tried to hail me for a chat along the way seemingly not noticing that I had my hands clasped across my bosom and was in fact half dressed. I hurled myself into the bedroom and availed myself of another dress. Then with as much dignity as I could muster I rejoined the reception. I then attempted to explain why the guests, who had previously had an eyeful of my underwear throughout the service, had just been treated to the bride streaking through her wedding reception. Luckily they all knew me so I don’t think any were too put out. All in all we had a lovely day even if it turned out to be a bit more informal than even we had intended. In retrospect maybe I should have gone with the bikini bottoms I wore at the dress fittings given I had spent a small fortune on a dress I ended up wearing for all of two hours!

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I want my mummy!!!

Airports. What can I say? I hate them. I can honestly say I have never met anyone who has recounted what a fabulous time they had in the airport the other day. The hubby and I argue in airports, it’s what we do. I don’t think there has been one trip together that we haven’t, it’s kind of traditional now. The first time it was because I was terrified. We took our first holiday together a few short months after we met. I had never flown before and frankly would have preferred to walk however long that might have taken. So I did the only possible thing. Wine. And cigarettes. My friend who was with us, and equally nervous, helped me in my endeavour. Our respective men folk were unimpressed especially when we cleared off for a last drag just as they were calling the flight. It never really progressed from there. We do our best to find some handy bone of contention on each flight now. It’s not hard with six kids in tow and passes the time in the departure lounge.

Frequent flyer points

Of course living over here I’m used to flying now reasonably regularly and manage to contain the urge to get messy before the flight. I got used to it the hard way. My mum has dementia and has no idea what day it is most days bless her although to all intents and purposes she sounds fine as long as the conversation is short. For various reasons I had to fly home and bring her over here for a few weeks. I had to bring the baby with me as she was only very small. It was a task in itself actually getting to the airport but that’s where the fun began. Sweaty and harassed, baby hanging off hip and mum at my side I presented myself at the check in desk at Manchester. It was packed and chaotic so the girls were keen to get us all through and called mum to the next desk. Well she can present a passport well enough I thought, so handed it across. Big mistake. Huge. I finished up checking in while simultaneously trying to strap Hollie in the pram. Having retrieved my passport I glanced across at mum.

I want my mummy!!

Only she wasn’t there. Vanished, disappeared, vamoosed, beamed up by Scottie. Oh my bloody good God!!! What ?? Wild eyed, still sweaty from the exertions of getting through the airport and probably looking like a potential highjacker by now I shot across to the poor check in girl and screamed in her face “WHERE THE HELL IS MY MOTHER???” She must have thought I had some weird Freudian mother attachment complex shouting for my mummy in the middle of the airport age 38 . Somewhat bemused she informed me that she had asked where the toilet was and they had given her directions which she had duly followed. Yea because that was gonna happen. On a bad day she had difficulty locating the loo in her own house so what the hell chance did she stand in a hectic international airport. “But she’s……, you don’t understand…., she can’t….. Oh for God’s sake forget it, WHICH TOILET DID YOU SEND HER TO?” I screeched. By this point I think they were on the verge of calling security and time was of the essence so off I shot in the direction she was pointing. Bouncing Hollie in front of me in the pushchair, dragging hand luggage behind, me red face and fighting hysteria I set about asking everyone I passed if they had seen an old lady in a pink coat passing by. Hysteria was clearly emerging victorious by this point as most of them gave me a wide berth with a rather anxious look in their eye.

Is there anybody in there?

I reached the toilet and realised there were two, one at either end of a busy concourse. I stood there in vain desperately hoping for divine inspiration. If I went in one I could well miss her coming out of the other and then she would be lost forever. Swallowed up in the cruel metropolis that was Manchester airport as it now seemed to me in my state of abject fear. Oh my good God, another thought flashed across my brain. What if she left the airport? Wild images of my elderly mother prostituting herself on the streets of Manchester and ending up a crack whore at the age of 75 ran amok in my panic addled brain. Following my instinct I executed a smart hand brake turn with the pushchair and hurtled to the left. I shot into the loo and bellowed “MUM????” at the top of my lungs causing most of the women in the queue to leap a foot in the air. Not a wise move with a queue of women with full bladders I guess by hey I was past caring. “MUM IT’S ME, ARE YOU IN HERE????” I balled again just for good measure. Those in the queue who had retained bladder control by this point probably lost it as I deftly pierced their ear drums once again. No response. Out I shot again and powered along the concourse mentally bailing my mother out of the local nick for soliciting all the way. And there she was bless her. Happily meandering along towards the loo, not a care in the world. “Oh, hello darling, where on earth have you been, I was getting worried you’d got lost? “she greeted me . “You don’t know where the loo is around here do you?”
Where she’d actually been for the last half hour I guess we’ll never know. She wasn’t telling!

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Carry on nurse-sadly a true story!

I left school at 16 ostensibly to do A levels at college. Unfortunately I discovered pubs over the summer break. Even more sadly there was a rather nice one with a rather nice guy in it next to the college. I was caught out like the kid that graffiti’s their own name on a wall. My mum found my college folder with a ‘written in class’ conversation on the back planning to skip the afternoon again in favour of the local hostelry. She sent me out to work instead. Suffice to say I have no A levels.

It’s a fruity bum thing

I’d long been interested in nursing and as I hadn’t discovered beer before my O levels they let me in. After a few months training, freshly pressed uniform in hand we got our first real life ward placement with real live patients. Now in nursing school you get taught, among other things, how to inject someone in the bum. Only they obviously don’t have real live bums to practice on. No, you are taught on an orange. Yes really. It just looks like a small orange bum with lots of cellulite if you think about it. Only don’t do that when you’re eating one. Anyway it is the nearest thing to human bum flesh so we were told. They lied. I happily injected oranges for a whole afternoon, no problem. We were told you had to use reasonable force to ensure the needle went in, but about the same as the orange. Then after a few ward weeks on the ward I was presented with a rather rotund lady’s real live bum and told I had to do the honours. With shaking hands I visualised the orange as I drew up the liquid and removed the cap. Ok this’ll be a doddle I thought, how hard can it be? Well a whole lot harder than the damn orange that’s for sure. I think my orange must have gone off a bit. I drew back and took aim. I hit target perfectly. The trouble was not nearly hard enough and as the patient yelped the syringe made contact with the bum and neatly bounced back off again, flew across the ward and landed at the feet of a passing consultant. Happily not actually in his foot. It’s lucky it didn’t take my damn eye out. Apologising profusely I had to try again another three times until I finally managed to pierce her poor derriere which was looking more like a Tetley tea bag by the minute. Honest to God it was more like the final of the world darts championship in the end. When it finally went in I almost yelled 180, punched the air and groped for my pint of congratulatory ale. Where the hell is Eric Bristow when you need him? I had to conclude that stabbing people with sharp objects just wasn’t my forte. Luckily the lady involved was very understanding, saying we all had to learn somehow. Strangely though, she always seemed to be in the loo when it was my turn on the drugs round after that.

And so to bed

Anyway I progressed through another couple of weeks relatively smoothly but I’d fallen victim to the flu for a few days and missed a couple of introductory talks. Checking on the patients one day I noticed one of them looking a bit peakier than one normally would when confined to hospital. I duly informed the ward sister who came across to check. All hell broke loose as the sister confirmed my suspicions and said she thought the woman was about to have a heart attack. The woman was by now struggling to breathe so the sister ran off to alert the crash team shouting at me as she went to tip back the head of the bed, essential procedure in a case like this. Holy shit! It was then I realised the talk I’d missed was on how to operate the damn beds. So there I was, bloody Florence Nightingales evil twin, pressing every damn knob, pedal and lever I could find in the hope she’d move in the right direction. All to no avail. I pressed one lever and the back tipped even further forward so the patient gasped a bit more as her head was pressed to her chest. Pressed another and the whole bed shot up in the air nearly catapulting her to the ceiling. I panicked a bit more.She gasped a bit more. Pressed another lever and the whole bed shot back down again rather rapidly nearly bouncing her off the side by which time I was nearly having a cardiac arrest myself. Could I hell find the lever to make the head drop back. My God I thought, the woman’s going to think she’s ending her days on the great glass elevator at this rate. And it took forever for the sister to return with the trolley. I mean it felt like a damn week. All I could do in my panic was keep trying the same damn levers with the same result. Honest to God I couldn’t see any others. Up and down, up and down she went while I’m trying to tell the poor woman everything was fine in between. By the time the sister did return I was in a worse state than the patient, dripping sweat and convinced I’d killed the poor woman.
As it turned out it wasn’t a heart attack at all, just a bit of a chest infection but it very nearly gave me one. Having made myself au fait with hydraulic beds and the operation thereof I stayed in nursing for another two years before deciding it wasn’t for me. Still not sure what I want to be when I grow up but it sure as hell won’t be a hydraulics technician!

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It’s All Pants!

Ok so I admit it, I am the very essence of not a morning person. Some little gremlin comes to me every night, glues my eyelids together and puts me in a children induced coma. Even House would struggle to bring me round, although I wouldn’t object to him trying!
Seriously though, what sane individual would bounce gleefully out of bed at the prospect of getting 5 kids up, fed, dressed and off to school? Yes, I do have 6 but I draw the line at calling my oldest in the UK to motivate him out of his pit of a morning, much as he might need it.
Hubby deals with the first one up who has to leave at some ungodly hour I prefer not to concern myself with because she’s at secondary school. I renege on this on the grounds that she needs to be driven and I have never mastered the art of cars. Nor do I have any desire to, it would not be in the public interest, trust me. I once ran over a well known poet on my bike when I was twelve so imagine the havoc I could wreak in charge of a 4×4. Grand Theft Auto re-enacted. Posthumous but sincere apologies, by the way to Mr Philip Larkin, I hope your shins weren’t too bruised. I do believe he has died shortly afterwards but I am not aware the two incidents were connected in any way. At least no charges were ever brought.

Tears before breakfast

Anyway I digress; neither do we have to concern ourselves with the third eldest as he is now at college of an afternoon. Lucky sod. So that leaves three, ages twelve, seven and four.
I think I may have alluded to my undomestic goddess qualities previously along the line. Well I’m afraid to say this does impact on the morning routine. In as much as there isn’t really a morning routine. More a frenzied hour of clothes throwing, sock hunting, stain removal, hair brushing and ramming toast in what usually turns out to be the right orifices. This is usually accompanied by at least some tears and a minimum of one tantrum; and that’s just from me.
Clothes are a massive issue here. You know how Europe has Butter Mountains and such like? Well we have the European dirty laundry mountain. Right here in our house. I blame the schools. No, really, in England they had uniforms. Here the kids are free to dress as they please. Even the primary school corridors resemble the catwalk at London fashion week. And that’s just the boys. Wearing the same clothes to school more than one day is just so last year, even when you’re 7. Hence we keep the manufacturers of Ariel in business, but it’s a constant game of catch up. Even if they have been washed they are often still a tad damp. This is no problem for pants and socks. Larger garments are a different matter. I must confess to having reassured at least one child in the past that it was ok, it would dry on, whilst pulling a slightly humid T shirt over their head in desperation.


I do have a little trick up my sleeve when it comes to soggy socks though. I microwave them. Really, it works. You just pop them in on high, give them a few seconds blast, check and shake out the steam then repeat until you get the desired result. Hey presto dry socks. Now it works for me but at first my husband thought I was quite mad. You know that parody of The Exorcist with the reversed line “Your mother cooks socks in hell” (think about it if you haven’t seen it!) Well yes, that neatly sums up our morning routine really.
Unfortunately however one morning Hollie had no dry knickers. Unbeknownst to me hubby decided to try my little trick. Sadly he did not take the advice of the microwave queen first. The first I knew about it was when Joe came running through from the kitchen shouting “Muuuuuum, Muuummmm Hollies knickers are on fire!!” Of course as any self respecting mother would I panicked, grabbed my daughter and prepared to dunk her in a full bath of iced water, bottom first. Not that I had a bath full of iced water to hand but it’s the thought that counts. Then it struck me that firstly there was no smoke and secondly the poor girl was still minus her knickers. Only then did I realise that my husband had popped her pants in the oven, set the timer for three minutes and buggered off to the loo. Promptly dropping a dazed, confused and half naked Hollie on the floor I then raced to put out the microwave. Having doused the flames all that was left of the poor girls undergarments was a pile of ashen cotton and a somewhat distorted Hello Kitty plastic transfer grimacing up at me out of the debris. Hubby then meandered out of loo asking what all the fuss was about. And he says I can’t cook.
Needles to say the phrase”Liar, liar, pants on fire!” was bandied around our house for quite some days afterwards. So the moral of the story is, dear readers, most definitely don’t try this at home. More handy household tips next time. Not.

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On Brothels,Viagra and Facebook

I love the internet, I really do. Ever since a friend told me back in the late 80’s about this new thing called the information super highway I was intrigued. I opened my first email account some 12 years ago and Facebook tells me I joined in 2007. Granted I have no recollection of joining therefore it was probably a tentative attempt at a marketing strategy or I was drunk, but so it tells me. Anyway I meandered back to it eventually. Over the years I have made nearly 3000 friends some of which I actually know. To my credit I swear like a trooper and have never been banned – yet.

Beggars can’t be choosers

Over the years by email I have received countless thoughtful mails from people concerned about my ability to get an erection and offering me a way up, if you will. I have also received many and varied letters from poor souls with millions of South African rand to dispose of because their great Aunt Fanny died intestate of Mongolian frostbite, and asking for my help. Yes little me who they hardly knew. I felt unworthy to shoulder the responsibility for the 50% they were offering.
Some six years ago I opened a Twitter account for my business. I had no idea what the hell I was supposed to say given my mouth and only 140 characters or why they were so intent on gagging us but it seemed to work. I confess on my Twitter account for the blog I am struggling to contain my oral laxity. I’ve actually had to cut out the profanities to say what I want to in the space I have. I feel bereft of adjectives.
My first computer was approximately the size of a small garden shed. The monitor took up the whole of the kitchen table so the kids had to eat on the floor. It took about half an hour to load a page and made a strange screeching noise at start up and every 15 minutes or so thereafter until you switched it off. But I loved it.

No poking allowed

Having said that the world of Social media perplexed me at first and sometimes still does. The first time I received an email from Facebook telling me a chap called Kev had written on my wall I actually went outside to check. I was ready to call the police and have the bloody little graffiti artist nabbed. Then I checked the account and found some dirty bugger had poked me. Did I want to poke him back it asked? No I bloody well didn’t, I hardly knew the guy. I have to confess I really still don’t get that concept. I really must Google it and find out where the idea came from. Is it implying we are all so bored on there we need a prod to wake us up? How is that a selling point? I don’t think I’ve ever actually taken up the offer since 2007 but if I am mistaken and I have poked any of you, my readers, do correct me and accept my sincere apologies.

Google it or die

Speaking of Google, don’t you just love it? All that lovely information at your fingertips. What did we do before? Over the years it has saved me so much time in libraries it’s untrue. I’ve also diagnosed myself with approximately 427 different diseases and ailments ranging from breast cancer, ectopic pregnancy and swine flu to malaria and yellow fever. All of which I’ve treated myself and fully recovered from with the aid of white wine, herbal remedies, drinking plenty of water and chatting with the similarly afflicted on forums . Group therapy, powerful stuff. The children have all had meningitis on several occasions and my husband is currently suffering from chronic erectile dysfunction diagnosed by me with my Google buddy when we’d had a row one night and he wasn’t in the mood. Maybe I should forward him one of those emails.

Call the brothel!

It has also saved my blushes on several occasions. You know how it goes with kids. You’re on your way to do the weekly shopping when suddenly a little voice pipes up from the back of the car “Mummy, what’s a brothel?” Well previously it would have been a case of telling them to wait until you got home and you would explain over dinner. This would be followed by a trip round the supermarket, during which you would be completely distracted framing an age appropriate answer. You would consequently leave with three carrots, 102 tins of dog food, ten bottles of Chablis and a dishcloth. Then whilst trying to concoct something like a meal from your purchases you would have to try to explain the rise and fall of Madam Cyn before the table was laid and dinner was ruined by an unhealthy focus on ladies of the night.
Not now. No you just whip out your trusty Android, Google it, find the relevant Wikipedia entry and pass the phone to the back seat with strict instructions to click no links. Job done, dinner saved, kids aghast but happy and educated. I have to say it works for me.
There are many things that drive me nuts about the internet and some odd and annoying things out there in cyberspace but on the whole I think it’s a Godsend and a fantastic resource if you use it wisely. But yes, irritants and weirdo’s do make up a fair part of it, but that’s another story……

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Wedding bells pt1 -The Making of Bridezilla

After 7 years together and two children to add to the four that the crazy one became step dad to, we decided to get married.
Here in Ibiza unless you’re the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist you’re unlikely to get a local church wedding. It’s a heavily Catholic island and, given we were both on our second shot at this thing, it wasn’t going to happen. The local English church here is more forgiving and was willing to bless our somewhat unorthodox union. That meant two weddings were in order. One official one in a poky office in town and then the blessing which we decided to have at home. All the children were to be my entourage with my oldest giving me away. His relief to be able to do so after 19 years was almost palpable bless him. I swear I heard him mutter “Please, yes, for God’s sake take her” at the altar.
Anyway dates were set for the 4th and 8th of June respectively. The 8th being my birthday so no “Sorry I forgot our anniversary” there, unless he wants to forget both and lose a limb. Planning early I took a trip to Ibiza town with a couple of friends to do the dress shopping. I had decided as I wasn’t planning to do all this ever again that I’d do it properly and have a proper dress. Ok, so with your six kids as your entourage white maybe isn’t the obvious choice but I hoped people would be amused by the irony. Either that or I would be hailed by the locals as the new and seriously productive Virgin Mary and have a small fishing village named after me.

The making of Bridezilla

Now I hate shopping for clothes. I would rather shop for food any day. Spending a full day being patronised by anorexic sales assistants. Getting your kit on and off twenty times in one day. Getting all sweaty in a confined space in the process. Going back and buying the first thing you tried because everything else makes you look like shite. It is not my idea of fun. Wedding dress shopping as it turned out was by far more traumatic. Yes I know I had done this before. Yes I know I should have known better and opted for a sensible twin set and pearls at my age. It is however akin to childbirth. You come out of there battered, bruised and humiliated, thinking bloody hell why would anyone do that more than once? However the memory fades over time and you do indeed recklessly put yourself up for it again. So there I was back in the fitting room with those freaky gown whores with the white gloves. The humiliation is unreal. You have to strip to your knickers and bra in front of two complete strangers, then stand, surrounded by mirrored walls, on a bloody podium under fluorescent strip lights. Seriously I’m 45, I’ve had six kids, even Trinny and Susannah would blanch. Installed on the podium I looked like the evil version of the pop up dancing fairy in the jewellery box. Sadly minus the tutu but complete with bikini bottom as I couldn’t find any clean knickers that morning and was not expecting this. I must have looked a right prat given it was February.

Fitted Up

Then they pull on the white gloves and advance towards you brandishing the chosen meringue. There then follows a peculiar tussle on the podium while they try manoeuvre unyielding body parts into an equally unyielding concoction of net and wires. Finally they truss you up like a Christmas turkey and then try to re arrange your boobs to comply with the dress manufacturers requirements. Ladies, after breastfeeding six kids that just ain’t gonna happen.
Oh, the fun we had. I’ve had less embarrassing gynae exams. Really, I’d rather have a smear test. I scowled at my two ex best friends. Let’s go wedding dress shopping they said. It’ll be fun they said.
Now it’s bad enough when it’s taken a few sweaty minutes in a cubicle to make you realise something makes you look like a serious WWF contender. When it’s taken 20 minutes of ritual humiliation and having your boobs manhandled by complete strangers it is not humanly possible to consider more than three options before contemplating voluntary euthanasia. A wine break was in order. On reflection the wine break first might have been the way to go.

Take a chill pill

Several large ones later and my friends had persuaded me that no, I wasn’t going to cause a Greenpeace emergency rescue call next time I sunbathed on the beach and that we should continue the search. Tactfully they suggested however maybe we should postpone it until I’d chilled a little. Unfortunately for him my hubby to be actually thought I was going to enjoy this experience and cheerfully enquired how it had gone when I got home. We nearly became the first couple to get divorced before the wedding as a result.
It actually took until four weeks before the wedding to find a dress. I stumbled upon it accidently one day in a small shop of typical Ibiza designer clothes in the village. Up until that point I was starting to think I would end up getting married in those bikini bottoms and little else. As it turned out that might have been more prudent; but that’s another story for another day.

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Red Tape vs.White Wine

Here in Spain there is plenty of red tape. You virtually have to supply your national identity number to use a public toilet. However I have to say it’s a kind of soft silky red tape. Rules can be bent; if they like you they can almost be disregarded altogether on occasions. Over the last 7 years I have got used to this. So when I had to help my newly enrolled son sort out his finance for University the UK version of red tape came as a bit of a shock. There is nothing soft and silky going on there; it would prove a challenge for the most committed 50 Shades enthusiast. In fact I started to feel I could have taken the lead in a porno bondage movie by the time I left such was my experience with being bound up.

It’s a set up

I had three days on UK soil in which to bid him farewell and sort out with him all the essentials for his life there. A mobile had to be bought, bank account opened, winter clothes purchased, Pot Noodles and baked beans stocked up on and the nearest pub located. The pub as it turned out, being for me, not him, once I’d finished with the bureaucracy in that goddamn place. I did consider taking over the license at one point I’d used it so often. My next book is due out soon. “Pubs of Huddersfield, an intensive users guide”
We had been told months before that we had to supply our tax returns in order to assess what he may be entitled to. Would that be ok as they were in Spanish I’d asked? Yes I was assured. Three days before we left we were informed that actually we needed an official translation done at the cost of about 300 Euros for each of the twenty pages. I spat out my tapas in disbelief and demanded to speak to a manager. Eventually they agreed I could use a short summary and translate it myself. So off we went.

Destination Tethers End

Once there I spent each of the three nights pouring over Spanish fiscal translation sites whilst simultaneously pouring expensive English bought wine into a B&B plastic tooth mug. Class. Another 50 hours on the telephone later and still nothing resolved. Each operative it seemed had their own unique version of the rules. They had now decided they were once again moving the goalposts and wanted an NI number he didn’t have. By this point it would have been cheaper to fund the lad myself. Time to call in the big guns. I called the local MP who took up the case. I then called to ask could they register that he may call and that they had my permission to speak to him about my finances. She took his name. Then she asked “What is his date of birth. We can’t make a note without it?” Whaaaattttt???? , came my strangled reply. “How in the hell do I know, he’s an MP not my bloody brother? Do you know David Cameron’s date of birth?” I asked, incredulous. Ok, out came Google while I stalled her. Sure enough, good old Wikipedia, there it was. I duly supplied the information “And would you like to know the name of his wife and children?” I asked for good measure. I think by this point she was sensing a little hostility from my side. Anyway we finished up the conversation with me still choking on my Chablis at which point I’m sorry but I couldn’t resist. “Well thank you I said and for my records could I take your name?” She gave it to me. “And your date of birth?”I asked pleasantly. ”Er no I can’t give you that “she laughed nervously, “You have mine, my husbands, my son’s and not’s let forget my MP’s now too. So why not?” I enquired. She wouldn’t be swayed so I bade her farewell and hurled the phone at the wall.

A not so fond farewell

By the time it came to my snot and tear soaked farewell to my boy (my snot and tears I might add not his) I realised how badly they had screwed up our last few days together. The nearest we had got to spending any quality time together was about two minutes in the queue at Tesco’s discussing the phenomenally high UK alcohol prices.
By the time my friend picked me up from the train station accompanied by yet another bottle of overpriced plonk I was in such a state I actually tried to get in the driver’s side of her car. Given that I’ve never actually learned to drive and was a whole laundries worth of sheets to the wind it’s a good thing that was only because I’m used to left hand drives now.
Having been forced to take up recreational alcoholism for three days at my wits end I now fully understand the binge drinking culture in the UK. It must be populated by ex students and the parents thereof and anyone else who has to deal with UK civil servants. Alcoholics anonymous must be overrun. Then again they probably want your date of birth before you can join and by that point you’re probably so stressed and pissed you have no idea what it is.
Reasons number 348- 350 why I’m so glad to be out of there!! Viva Espana and its soft silky red tape.

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Seriously Spanish part 3 On Pavorotti and poo

Having already written two blog posts on this islands peculiarities you would think I’d have exhausted the subject, but no, the place is positively heaving with idiosyncrasies.
Not least on a practical level. If you thought the health care left something to be desired you really need to try the building, plumbing and electricity arrangements.

Olympic greats

Our first house that we fell in love with in a very naive British immigrant way, because it was pretty, was a country house in a small village. All was well until the first storm. This was the point at which we realised it actually rained more inside the house than out. Water gushing through the window frames, I remember frantically hurling videos that were stored on the sill into the nearby playpen to save them from drowning. If video hurling isn’t an Olympic sport it damn well should be. I excelled. The child from the playpen meanwhile was sitting on the floor in a corner drowning in an ever increasing puddle. In the same house the plumbing had a mind of its own. The bathroom was upstairs and the water heater downstairs, through a courtyard, through the garden and behind a wall next to the road. I still haven’t figured out why. Anyway it broke and after numerous attempts to fix it would still not stay lit for more than ten minutes at a time on a good day. To have a shower therefore entailed turning it on then sprinting back upstairs like Linford Christie, disrobing as you ran, hurling yourself in the cubicle and praying to God it lasted long enough to rinse the conditioner off. If it didn’t you had to repeat before you could rinse, naked but for a towel and freezing in winter. God alone knows what the neighbours thought. Especially since the neighbour was the village bar. I must say we did get some odd looks whenever we went for a drink.

Tubes and Tenors

Of course we called the plumber on several occasions for this. Then we had a problem with the electric sockets in the house. So we called for an electrician. The same guy arrived. Err… no we wanted an electrician we explained. “Si” he replied. It seems here that they are in fact one in the same. The theory seems to be if it runs through tubes the same guy is qualified to fix it. I’ve yet to meet the local urologist or gynaecologist and I’m in no rush to do so. He definitely won’t be attending to my plumbing.
The pipes at night made such a weird howling noise that it really sounded like a bad rendition of Nessun Dorma. Regular as clockwork at 1 AM every night. It took us a few nights quaking in our bed to work out what the hell it was. After that we nicknamed it The Three Tenors and tried to get used to it serenading us to sleep.
Suffice to say, we moved on. Several times. I have to say every house has had similar issues. Spanish systems just aren’t designed to cope with modern demands, especially with large families. If the electricity isn’t cutting out the cess pit is overflowing. Yes really.

The St Valentine’s Day Massacre

I remember one particularly memorable Valentine’s Day when I spent the whole day up to my armpits in the contents of our cess pit trying to unblock the outlet. Hubby meanwhile left me and the house owner to it claiming he felt ill. What the hell did he think I felt like scooping out bucketfuls of everyone’s bodily by products from the upstairs pit to the downstairs one whilst ramming a tube down it to locate the blockage? It was like a Hammer House of Horror episode of Mario brothers. I didn’t believe him for a second. I kinda smelled a rat, among other things, when he stood on the top terrace laughing and singing a bad rendition of The Stranglers “Golden Brown” at me. I did, however make sure I gave him a big Valentines cuddle when I got back upstairs…before I’d showered. Every year we look back fondly on what we now term the St Valentine’s Day massacre. And they say romance is dead.

Sparks will fly – or not

Electricity here is also somewhat below UK standards. Plugs have no on/off switch, there doesn’t appear to be an earth wire on most things and many houses have bare cables hanging out of walls and ceilings yet to be finished off by the plumber. The supply is so abysmal that the main house switch cuts out if you have the audacity to try to make a cuppa and cook dinner at the same time. I think the island equivalent of the national grid must be approximately the size of the Times crossword but a lot less complex. Let’s just hope they never import Coronation Street here. The drain on the so called grid when all the expats put the kettle on in the commercial break would mean the whole island would be plunged into darkness at 8.45 every evening.
You do get used to the shortfalls eventually. Especially the fact that whenever there is a storm the internet will go down and eventually the lights will go out. After a few years you just sit down, light the candles make yourself a cuppa in your newly acquired stove top kettle and actually talk to the other members of your family. It does have its compensations .You just need to make sure you guard the number of the local plumber/electrician/urologist with your life.

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