Category: General family news

There is a good reason, honest!

Very few updates recently because…well, things got a bit intense. Good intense, not bad intense, I promise.

The first good thing is that I’ve got a new job…and it’s back with Thomson Reuters. Not only back with Thomson Reuters, but back on the team I left. There have been a few changes over the past few years and the team’s focus has expanded: they’re doing some really good stuff, and it’s an opportunity to share my experiences (good and bad) to make the cool stuff we were doing even cooler. It’s not Google, but it’s home. And I like it.

Charlie did her first school trip away from home, a ski trip in Switzerland for just over a week. We mooched around the quiet, tidy house and got phone calls complaining about the cold, the ski instructors and another school party that decided to pelt them with snowballs . But she had fun, made some friends, hurtled down icy mountainsides on a pair of planks…

When she came back we decided to deal with the cat issue. Joey passed away about a month and a half ago and Ringo was going a bit stir crazy without someone to annoy, so we went to Celia Hammond and found this young lady. IMG_0475

Her name is Missy. She was found wandering around a block of flats. The Celia Hammond staff reckon she’s around two years old, but I think she’s a bit younger than than. She is pretty, charming, clever and extremely mischievous with a hair-trigger temper. Ringo hates her. I’ve just had to chase her out of the study where I’d taken Ringo for a bit of a cuddle, but he won’t be in the same room as her and ran off as soon as she came near him. It’ll calm down eventually, I know.

We also did ChoirFest at Dulwich Hamlets in March. I took some photos…

Dry January

Dry January

The lid stays ON…*sniff*…

I’m going alcohol-free for January in aid of Cancer Research.

Those of you who know me will probably remember my little tussle with cervical cancer that resulted in a Wertheim’s hysterectomy five years ago. I’m finally signed off from having to have follow up smears every six months and I can now go back to a bi-annual date with Metal Mickey (or his godson, Plastic Pete). The whole process took nine years from the first dodgy smear test to the final test a few weeks ago.

A month or so ago I was jollying my friend Claire along about some tests that she had to undergo following the birth of her baby. Then the results came back. Less than six months after giving birth, she now has to undergo six weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. starting on New Year’s Eve.

For some reason, that made me want to do something positive. Well, I got our girl gang to club together to buy a bottle steriliser and I’ve got plans to start doing freezer packs of squished carrots for little Joe’s weaning, but then I wanted to do a little bit more, which is when I found out about the Dryathalon. So, as of 1 January, in solidarity with the Shep, I will give up all alcohol for the month of January, so she’s not alone when she pokes miserably at a cranberry and soda in the pub.

Again, if you know me you’re probably thinking, “Hang on, Smithsky, you only have to sniff a glass of wine and your face turns an entertaining shade of purple and you suddenly need to take a nap. You have even been known to be violently ill after a mere three pints. So you’re not exactly hardcore are you?” To this I say, “It’s a medical thing, actually. It’s called Asian Flush. So Google it, why don’t you? Oh hang on, here’s a link.”

To be honest, I think it’s going to be quite hard, even if I don’t drink all that much. I rather like a glass of wine to help relax me at the end of a tough commute. When I’m laying waste to the opposition in a pub quiz, a beer helps to stimulate the grey matter. And I have absolutely no idea how I will get through a choir practice without the soothing promise of alcohol at the end.

But you can help in two ways.

  1. Donate via my JustGiving page. Just click on the link or on the fetching pink button in the sidebar.
  2. Email me your recipes for non-alcoholic cocktails. I might even write a feature on them for the blog…

So here it is…

Yep, it takes Christmas and a post-Archers lull to get me to update the blog. Marvellous.

Family news: everybody’s fine. Charlie’s first school report (they do termly ones at Deptford Green) showed straight As for everything except Science (“I went to a arts-focused primary school!”) Art (A B for behaviour?! Who doesn’t muck around in Art? Art’s all about mucking around) and French (“The teacher’s rude, mum”). She has settled down really well and has a little gang of geeky friends to hang out with. She is also a Student Leader and has to check everybody’s homework and uniform. I think the class elected her because she’s nice and they assumed that she wouldn’t be too hard on them. Unfortunately they weren’t to know even the smallest smidgen of power activates the Hard Bastard gene, and she is quite remorseless in sticking to the rules and handing out detentions to wrongdoers.

Our Gap Year guest, Chanelle, made it safely back to New Zealand and starts uni in March. We’re slowly repossessing the spare room, finding the odd discarded garment and wondering what to do with the broken suitcase in the cupboard. But it was fun having her around and Charlie loved having a big sister figure to bicker with.

Courtney pine
Courtney Pine at the Hideaway: our Christmas treat

Christmas was low-key but lovely. This is the first year in forever where I didn’t have to work on Christmas Eve and the first in few years where I wasn’t stressed to the max by work (last year I was frantically rewriting knowledge check questions for Santander’s HR team until midday, signing off a course on project management for LRT and doing final delivery on an intranet training course for a TOP SEKRIT CLIENT). In fact, it was so laid back that Martin and I managed to fit in a visit to our favourite jazz venue to see the legendary Courtney Pine. It was still a school night so we had to leave just as he really got going but still…it was magical.


Still haven’t blogged

Still haven’t blogged

There have been a number of reasons for this. One is that the new job turned out to be very full-on and intense (it still is, but at least I’m not crying with exhaustion at the end of each week). That led to me dropping most of the things that interest me in life, apart from the family, the cats and the odd knitting project. I even gave up the choir, though there were other reasons for that (let’s just say “musical differences”).

So, a brief summary.

  1. I work in a tiny team, doing more projects than I care to mention (though it’s relatively quiet right now) for a big training company.
  2. I dropped out of my MA for a year or two because I didn’t have time to devote to the study. Since then I’ve been looking at the Allotment movement and pondering a change in subject. There’s a lot in there about land rights, working class organisation/agitation and the management of leisure time.
  3. We acquired a rabbit called Smokey.
  4. We lost a rabbit called Smokey to our friendly local fox. Charlie found a small mammal’s digestive system neatly arranged on the lawn and we worked out that that was what he left of Smokey. She was a lovely rabbit.
  5. Charlie is in Year 6. This means looking at SECONDARY SCHOOLS. So, here are our choices:
    1. Deptford Green
    2. Harris Girls Dulwich
    3. Haberdashers Aske’s Hatcham
    4. Addey & Stanhope
  6. Martin is still playing with Konni Deppe, and he has a new trio called The Neighbours Trio, made up of a couple of excellent young local musicians (they have beards) and a grumpy balding guitar player. They’re playing at the Ivy House in March sometime.
  7. Errr…
  8. That’s it.

One Tree Hill and other things

Haven’t posted for a while, so here’s some pictures me and Charlie took on our walk up One Tree Hill last week, and a couple I took yesterday while Singing for Water at the Scoop.Tree!

From the top of the gun placement
From the top of the gun placement
Still not sure about the Shard. It looks like Sauron's tower to me.
Still not sure about the Shard. It looks like Sauron’s tower to me.

Charlie on One Tree Hill

Sing for Water: the Sops looking cool

More sops
More sops

Sung fo Water: Preparations

From my vantage point

The NCC crew, ready to sing

Looking for coffee in the new development.

Quick catchup

My boss says that every Monday…

So, since April it has rained. And rained some more. And rained even more.

#PicFrame porthlevenWe escaped the Jubilee celebrations in June, and rented a cottage in Porthleven for a few days. Martin and I spent the weekend getting rained on, and cycling around some beautiful old mining trails, then Charlie and Mum stayed for the rest of the week. Apart from the rain, Porthleven was gorgeous as usual, and we had a nice time hanging out with our friend Lone, and her dog.

In mid-June, Martin and I did the London to Brighton bike ride for the British Heart Foundation. I have to say that it was brilliant fun, and I only walked up the last four hills (including Ditchling Beacon – Martin sped off up the hill because it was the first one that had enough space for a proper attack). The ride may have exacerbated a hip issue though, but I’m still managing to cycle as far as Deptford every day during the Olympics.

I’ve been writing for Mostly Film too: a review of a lovely little forgotten classic of British Film, Woman in a Dressing Gown. . Last week a group of MF parents wrote of their experiences subjecting their offspring to one of the suggested “50 Movies to see before you reach 14”. I forced Charlie to watch Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood. Trouble was, we watched the film ages ago, and then Charlie went off to Spain with her nan and I forgot to ask her opinion. I found Charlie’s notes though, and had a very good memory of her whooping with delight at the fight scenes, so cobbled something together…

What else? Oh, I don’t know what it is about us, but we seem to have attracted another band of ne’er do wells since we moved in. The house a few doors down seems to have a lady whose business is entertaining gentlemen in her home. The smell of bad dope pervades the garden most evenings, and her neighbours say the regular 3am rows with her pimp make a refreshing change from the chap who prayed all night, every night. We had a totally Peckham moment on the morning of the London to Brighton. Our group included a two very nice couples from Kent, who were treated to the sight of our neighbour emerging barefoot from a car that dropped her off at 6am. As we rode past the Academy, we saw a fight break out outside one of the dodgy clubs close by. I would have cringed but that would have made it worse.

Why we need a family suite at Kings

Some of you will know that the traditional Mystery Sladey bug struck again last week. This time it was Charlie’s turn. She had a fever and all the symptoms of cystitis, but the infection moved pretty quickly to her kidneys. She was admitted to Kings and pumped with antibiotics which caused a horrible, restless night and much vomiting.  The consultant who saw her in the morning was a classic Wodehouse blonde – Martin called her Honoria Glossop. She trotted briskly through Charlie’s symptoms, and prescribed a short course of antibiotics, plus an ultrasound scan sometime next week to check for any lasting side-effects. We were home in the afternoon. Charlie was very tired and weak, but cheered up when she was allowed to watch as much Nickelodeon as she wanted. She’s improving slowly, and hopefully she’ll be fine in time for our holiday.

Frank Black-Slade 1999-2011

Our cat, Frank, died this morning. He had been feeling poorly for a few days. The vet diagnosed a badly-bruised hip, but it became clear that there was something else wrong with him that had probably been going on for a while. Thinking about it now, he had been gettting sleepier and grumpier over the past few weeks. We put it down to age – he was a lot older than he looked. His appetite was still fine, and he still had the capacity to be super-annoying, especially in the morning when I was trying to drink my tea.

Today we took him to an emergency vet in Streatham, after he spent 24 hours stretched out on the kitchen floor, looking pained every time somebody approached him. I remember seeing that look on Seamus’s face in the last week of his life.

The vet wanted to take some tests, and took Frank off to an oxygen cage to help with his breathing. That was the last straw for poor, vet-hating Frank. He had a fit on the spot, and died.

We brought him home and buried him in a nice sunny spot, with a peony over his body. Rest in Peace, Frankie boy.


One of Charlie’s homework projects for this month is to go around the house looking for 2D and 3D shapes and write about them. So yesterday we went on a search for circles, triangles and squares. and the odd sphere. She chose the Sheep bank because it was an oval, but it had circles on its back.

We’ve also taken a bunch of other photos that Charlie has stuck into her homework book and written about (believe me, it was hard work).

The Sheep bank was made by a family friend in the 1970s.  She went through a sheep phase, then a tiger phase, then decided to give up pottery altogether and move to the coast. Mum has most of her pieces on display in the flat, but I asked to have the Sheep bank because it’s like having an old friend on the mantlepiece.