Flcking the V sign to all things ‘vintage’

Since when did everything previously described as ‘retro’ or ‘had it’ or ‘one-way ticket to the dump’ become labelled with the rather glamorous term of ‘vintage’?

Vintage should be reserved for the best old champagnes, the best old cars and anything that comes under ‘luxurious but old’. But suddenly any old tat has become vintage in an effort to ‘upscale its worth.

This observation came after watching the Irish property developers programme ‘amazing spaces’, during which he described a delapidated old camper van and caravan as a genius conversion to a mobile ‘vintage tea room’. There seems to be a proliferation of businesses starting up mobile catering in ‘vintage’ modes of transport that are cramped and frankly toxic for the environment. Pizza, cakes, coffee, pies and even cheese on toast can now be served out of the back of an old VW or Citroen at a premium price across Summer fetes this year. No doubt I will lose count of how many variations of this ‘vintage catering’ trend i see at Camp Bestival later this year.

I say bring back the good old fashioned Transit van, but with maybe slightly better options than burgers and hotdogs. I dont care how it got to the venue, as long as the food tastes good and the best before date isnt ‘vintage’, its all good in my present day hood.

Vintage is so last season darling…..

I am blogging for Unicef. Thanks for reading.

Duracell no added sugar

I am almost a month in to my ‘i quit sugar’ diet and i have found one benefit that i wasnt expecting. It is not to do with weight loss (although thankfully i havent put on any weight), it is actually energy levels.

Today I was like one of those Duracell bunnies. I kept waiting for a wall of tiredness to hit me so i just kept going and going. In fact now (21.23 pm) is the first time i have actually sat down. Every time i thought i had a chance to momentarily put my feet up, i kept saying, ‘i will just do the washing/ washing-up/ prepare dinner/ water plants/feed horses / dogs/ clean bathroom while washing kids in bath……and this is after power-hooping in the morning and walking round the countryside with the kids and dogs all day…..and while feeling below par with a grotty cold. Its not bad this cutting out sugar lark.

It makes you wonder what it is about sugar that zaps your energy long-term? A friend of mine said she couldnt quit sugar because she would feel too lethargic. When in fact cutting it out would be the best thing for her. I find my energy levels are consistent, i dont have the peaks and troughs in energy levels like i used to. So, where in the past i would turn towards something sugary mid afternoon and later in the evening, i dont feel the need for it.

Coconut is also my new best friend and the children both enjoy drinking coconut water, it is amazingly refreshing and more hydrating than water. I am looking forward to having a go at a sugar free bounty bar recipe as they were one of my favourite sweets.

A few times my husband has complained that there is not enough ‘unhealthy’ stuff in the cupboards and the children seem to have re-discovered fruit.

Not that we exclude treats, we went to the chocolate cafe yesterday and all three of them had chocolate (apart from me with my glowing halo). My husband couldnt finish off his brownie and i declined it so my daughter wrapped it up in a napkin and put it in my bag for later.

Later on that evening, i found an empty slightly chewed up napkin next to my rather sheepish looking dog, she is becoming a dab hand (or should i say paw) at rifling through my bag. Last time she did that she finished off a bag of maltesers.

I wonder if they do a ‘quit sugar for dogs’?

I am blogging every say for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Dredd in the South-east

I have she-flu but managed to muster enough energy for ballet boot camp but not enough for a vaguely interesting blog post. I figured it had been a while since I had put a pound in the pot to Unicef for a missed post so I took the opportunity yesterday.

I have lived in the South-east all my life, the only slight movements between four counties, but recently have found the walls of the region closing in. I am starting to build up a resentment to passing landmarks that illustrate my younger years (schools, nurseries, friend’s houses etc) and would like to ‘get out’ and live in an area where there are no memories. I’m sure a psychiatrist would have a field day with this admission.

The South-east is also over-crowded and full mostly of people who ant to commute to the ever growing riches of London. I wonder if this trend continues into the next few decades whether England will be closer to resembling the geographic make-up of Judge Dredd. I mentioned to a colleague of mine my concern that the rest of the country, particularly the north, was being left-behind. She said that she didnt care, as far as she was concerned, she had done ‘her time’ up north while living in Nottingham for 10 years, it was abysmal and has never looked back since moving o London.

Being someone who likes to do the opposite of the majority, i am getting more and more inquisitive as to what it would belike to live ump North and become, as the characters in the film ‘lock stock and two smoking barrels’ put it ‘northern monkeys’ as opposed to ‘southern fairies’.

A friend of my husband’s said, ‘you don’t want to move up there, they are all fat’. I believe obesity is a nationwide problem, a trip to any local supermarket proves that point (although the supermarkets themselves are assisting this trend with the increasing price of fruit and vegetables and the decreasing price of crappy processed food). In fact it is not until you step into the rest of Europe (or if you voted Ukip omit ‘the rest’ from that sentence) that you see just how fat a nation we have become. In France, for example, you would be hard -pushed to find an overweight person on a trip to the shops let alone and the same goes for Spain and the Netherlands.

I wonder if part of the reason can be attributed to the cost of food and what is offered to buy. The Spanish and French like to cook most of their food from scratch, this cutting out nasties such as added sugar, which is so prevalent n ready-made food. It is this belief in a return to home cooking that underpins the philosophy of Sarah Wilson’s quit sugar approach – cook like our grandparents used to, with ingredients rather than a fork and a microwave.

I feel the north/south divide has become so defined that contemplating a move upcountry is not dissimilar to emigrating, hence its appeal on the ‘grass is greener front’.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.



Taking candy from a baby is as easy as taking candy from a baby

So far so good with quitting sugar for life. I am in my third week and have been impressed with my resistance fending off cheesecakes, cadbury’s chocolate and iced buns without a backward glance. In her book, Sarah Wilson states that as you cleanse and r-train your palate the urges for sugar lessen. For me this has extended to even avoiding a little bit of honey during ‘time of the month’. I am doing so well on this diet that I fear even a little taste of sweetness is going to set-off all the cravings again. In many ways it is like nicotine addiction (I gave that up about 5 years ago and have certainly never looked back).

My children too are benefitting from this and I have noticed this crazy thing that has happened….if you don’t put sugary snacks in their lunch box they don’t ask for them. Instead I have been putting in far healthier ‘sweeter’ snacks such as pure fruit and fruit based snack bars (which do have a sugar content but nowhere near as bad as a biscuit or a cake) and i haven’t heard one complaint. I keep waiting for the moaning to start and it doesnt happen. I have given them ice-cream for pudding occasionally and I don’t prevent them from eating chocolate if it is given to them but i am now resisting the urge to give them a sugary treat favouring the far healthier alternatives – i just  didn’t believe it would be so easy. It just goes to show how much,  as parents, we unwittingly guide our children down the same nutritional path as we follow as well as the eating habits. If your child sees you comfort eat, chances are they will become a comfort-eater too. Just like so many things in life it is lead by example.

One big change I have noticed in my fridge since beginning the no sugar campaign is the lack of yoghurt and juice. I was astonished when I glanced at the nutritional content of a low fat yoghurt and saw the amount of sugar contained in one pot. Yoghurts are now in my’ do not buy’ category and I avoid them like the plague. Once again I feared my children’s reaction to no yoghurt on the menu but was surprised to find they didn’t even miss it let alone ask for it.

This goes to show that Western children are not really that fussy about eating. As long as they have a healthy appetite (ie not fed crap every 5 minutes to the extent that they never feel hungry enough to eat a proper meal), then kids will eat most food offered to them when given a steer as to the right foods to eat by the family (home cooked meal versus mcdonalds).

Check out some good recipes on www.iquitsugar.com

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.


Hooked on quitting sugar

I am hooked on quitting sugar. I have just uploaded the book ‘I quit sugar for life’ by Sarah Wilson and already I am entranced. Like most of us, I have a sweet tooth which, if indulged, will keep going and going until I feel mildly sick. While I am experiencing one of these gorge fests I keep saying o myself’ this isn’t good for you’ but the other less cautious voice in my head (that most of us have got) says ‘f##* it eat it anyway’.

I counteract this sugar rush by not eating much else in an attempt to keep my calorie intake low – healthy isn’t it?

Which is why this book could potentially change my life. So, as I progress through the book, I have started to make small changes to my daily diet. The first big change has been to shift my attention away from the back of packets listing calories and analysing the ‘crabs of which sugars’ section o the nutritional content table. It is an eye opener. My lovely low fat yoghurt comfort foods have now transformed into sugary devils that must be avoided at all costs (or just re-directed to my husband). My lovely big bowl of cornflakes topped with sugar is also now in the devil’s food category. However foods that were previously on the ‘no no’ category, like cheese, are now in the angel food section. The only sticking point with Sarah’s approach is the meat protein and she advises against soya – not good for the half-hearted vegetarian like me.

Going forward, the biggest temptations to resist will be skipping puddings at work and ignoring the presence of sticky buns in our local shop.

I am also particularly worried when Aunt Irma visits (period) as my need for sugar doubles during those periods. I hope there is a chapter in the book that covers that.

This blog is for UNICEF, if you can support the campaign, click here.

Thanks for reading.


The average person in the UK consumes 23 spoonful’s of sugar and that is before they have consumed any fruit juice, according to Aussie TV presenter, Sarah Wilson, who has launched a book about quitting sugar for life (gulp).

Sarah argues that since the 60s it has become increasingly easier and cheaper for food manufacturers to use sugar, which is why more and more f is are eating way more than our RDA. Most of the time we don’t even know we are consuming it. So what is so bad about sugar Sarah takes human evolution back to when we were a bunch of cables scavenging the land for food. Rarely we would come across a berry and when we did, we would gorge on it, but that would be that for the next few months. The key damaging ingredient in sugar is fructose. Because of our history of lack of berry foraging, our bodies are not designed to take on too much fructose, it is hard for the body to breakdown so it is stored as fat. In addition to affecting obesity figures, Sarah says that there is scientific evidence that some diseases that have seen an increase over the past few decades are linked to too much sugar in our diets.

As I was listening to her interview, I began to think about whether I could try this diet, to les a little  it more weight, but, more importantly experience the health benefits. I live sugar and am probably addicted to it. Sarah has ‘quit sugar for life’ (title of her book) and provides recipes and healthier sugar alternatives to attempt.

I am tempted to give it a go, but this is the sugar mountain I have to face…..

Today’s menu for Tom:

1 coffee with sugar

2 Satsuma

3 slices of honey and seed bread

1 small bag of mini party ring biscuits

1 milkybar

1 beetroot, broccoli, cauliflower and Marmite toastie (no I am not pregnant)

A few roasted broad beans (might as well have just sucked on some sea salt)

2 unashamedly big bowls of rhubarb crumble (with rhubarb roasted Ina ton of sugar topped with buttery sugary crumble)

I might have sneaked some Easter chocolate off the kids too.

So, do you fancy my chances cutting out sugar?

How about I get this book when its out on the 8th May and I will tell you how I get on?

I am blogging every day for UNICEF. Read about my campaign here.

Thanks for reading.

Giving up the day job

OK I’ll admit it, I’m feeling a little bit smug at the moment. I feel like a multi-tasking domestic goddess…….. which is a very rare feeling indeed. I made a pact that while I wasn’t working over the Easter school holidays, I would attempt to make More of an effort in the kitchen, expanding my repertoire of pasta, bolognaise and the odd fish or vegetarian meal, to things that take a little more effort and give a lot more taste. So, armed with Aggie Mackenzie’s ‘Busy Mums Cookbook’, I added a few more ingredients to my shopping list and utilized the children’s late holiday bedtimes to get some cooking done. Often my attempts at recipes never come out in the way the curator of the recipe intended (like Bridget Jones I am capable of producing blue soup), however every single recipe of Aggie’s has been spot on. I have even delved into the baking section, so my husband now has a choice of homemade banana loaf, lemon drizzle or brownie cake (baked for my friend’s birthday) to choose from for his packed lunch.

It was my best friend’s birthday today, so I made her a chocolate brownie cake (minus the nuts because she is allergic). This was my first attempt at brownie making and I was surprised at the outcome, it tasted good and a bit gooey. My friend then asked me to skipper a boat she had hired for the day as a birthday pressie. Although I explained to her that my main job in the boat my husband has is to keep the children pinned down while in motion and occasionally I pull a few ropes but that was the extent of my nautical ability…..’ but I will give it a go’. As the man showed me the ropes harbour side and then handed the boat for me to practice coming alongside the jetty he said that I was ‘pretty good’. So with 2 adults and 4 children loaded on, we set off to the beach and we managed to navigate the estuary, anchor at the beach and return to the jetty unscathed. My friend’s spectacular leap onto the boat as she pushed us away from the bank was brilliantly executed for a 35 year old.

Once back I dropped my friend home and returned to embark on a chicken pie recipe, which my husband has just had for dinner.

It is funny that when you stop your day job and have the opportunity to do other things, you find out new things about yourself. I am discovering that I am rather good at following instructions (following recipes, listening to instructors). When I told my husband this he scoffed and said ‘well why don’t you listen to me then?’ I then clarified what I meant by ‘instruction’ and how it differs from ‘fascism’ (which he can be accused of when at the helm’.

I am blogging every day for UNICEF – read more about the campaign here.

ThaNKS FOR READING (Sorry about the shouty font but my tablet had a momentary hissy fit that is difficult to undo).


I enjoy blogging and believe it is an important part of my daily routine, but I can only find time to do it in the evening, sometimes late evening (as in the case of tonight) if I have been out (in tonight’s case – a rare time out with the girls). I have noticed very the past few weeks I have been more tired than normal and a bit more irritable than normal. This is partly due to waking up early to ensure baby boy is on the potty before he wakes up and partly because it takes me so long to wind down to sleep. Even if it is late, I still need to do my anti saddle-bags exercise and read a book. I am a terrible creature of habit.

In a news programme this morning, a psychologist said that people should not be looking at tablets, pcs, smartphones and other ‘blue light’ technology within an hour of going to bed as it is too stimulating for the brain and will lead to difficulty in sleeping and a restless sleep – well that’s my problem. I have so little sleep that I am starting to experience random behaviours (such as forgetfulness, erratic behaviour and bizarre behaviour….. singing ‘bananas in pyjamas’ at the top of my voice in my local shop as I was helping myself to a bunch….I did not realise how weird this was until the shopkeeper asked if I was ok.

So as it is late, I will end this blog with a rather nice rhubarb crumble recipe I tried out a couple of days ago and will endeavour to write hs blog long before bed-time before my family dis-own me for being a sleep deprived grumpy old witch.

Enjoy the  rhubarb crumble.

This blog is for UNICEF – support the campaign here.

Thanks for reading.