Don’t Call Me Baby

Okay, so you’ve grappled with the eye-wateringly expensive pram, practised manoeuvring the cumbersome car seat into the car, washed and ironed all the brand new baby clothes (for reasons you still can’t quite fathom). And now there’s just one job left…. 

What are you going to name the baby?


If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about baby names over the years, it is this: Don’t, whatever you do, tell anyone the name you are planning on calling your baby. Names are hugely personal and everyone has an opinion. This includes close family members, well-meaning friends – and even the woman who serves you coffee at Starbucks. 

Even if your mother-in-law attempts to keep her opinion to herself, a raised eyebrow is all it takes. So keep mum until the baby is born.

If you and your partner like the name, that’s all that matters.

Golden rule number two: you are not just naming a baby; you are naming a child, a teenager, an adult and a grandparent. Ask yourself, ‘does the name pass the board room test?’.

Take Don, for example. Don was our frontrunner for a boy for quite some time. Don Doherty…. I love it. It’s got all the sophistication of Mad Men’s most debonair character Don Draper (favourite-ever TV series). 

The reality is that no baby should really be called Don, hence our reluctant vetoing of it. But Don does pass the board room test. 

‘Let me introduce you to… Don Doherty, CEO of the company.’

‘And the head boy for this school year is… Don Doherty.’

‘Captaining the Yorkshire Cricket team this year is… Don Doherty.’

Competitive mum? Moi? Anyway, you get the idea.

And I still haven’t fully ruled out D’artagnan (quelle horreur!)… I’m a sucker for an alliterative name.

Don aside, here’s my list of favourite names for boys:

Bertie – Bertie has been my go-to boy name for years. I love Bertie. I even love Bert. If only the husband could be convinced. Still, I honestly believe that if we have a son, I’ll probably call him Bertie regardless of his actual name. Sorry, hubster. Similar favourites: Boris, Pip, Buzz, Claude.

Roscoe – This is a cool name. If the husband was a bearded musician and I was a fashion-forward PR girl, we’d probably go for something hipster like Roscoe. Is it a bit try-hard? Probably. Is it the name of a dog? Possibly. I still quite like Roscoe though. It’s edgy and a bit quirky. Similar favourites: Rafe, Remy, Raffy, Quinn, Jude.

Stanley – Part of a band of vintage ‘Grandad’ names that have recently come back in vogue. Stanley’s a great name but I’m not so sure about the shortened ‘Stan’. Still, who didn’t love Stanley Lambchops, star of the Flat Stanley books, when they were growing up? One word of caution: the popularity of Stanley is on the rise. Old Lambchops was number 80 in the charts last year. Similar favourites: Alfred, Arthur, Archie, Wilfred.

Frank – You can’t mess with a Frank. Strong and enduring, and with a definite whiff of war hero about it. There was once a boy in my class called Frank. He was a handsome little chap, captain of the football team and his popularity knew know bounds. Enough said. Similar favourites: Max, Fred, Tom, Ned.

Fabien – An exotic take on a boy’s name – very French, perhaps, dare I say, slightly effeminate. But who wouldn’t want a son with Parisian chic? Similar favourites: Yves, Etienne, Emery, Emile, Leon.

And for the girls:

Beatrice – Classy, beautiful and with a touch of royalty to it, Beatrice has swiftly become a firm favourite. It’s perhaps becoming a little too popular with the Waitrose mums. But I still love it. I had a Great Auntie Beattie, who lived til 94, and she was quite the character. The good thing about Beatrice is that all of its derivatives – Bea, Beattie, Bee – work well. Similar favourites: Charlotte, Mary (touted here as the ‘ultimate’ name), Emily, Isabel, Evelyn, Harriet.

Anna – I’m strangely drawn to the name Anna, (not least because it’s the name of one of my most fabulous friends). I don’t absolutely love the name but I feel it garners a certain level of respect. You know where you stand with Anna; it can’t be shortened or messed with. Like your Helens, Rachels, Lisas and Emmas, there’s plenty of Annas around now but there won’t be by 2050. At this point, I believe Anna will take on a vintage – almost ethereal – elegance.

Wren – My friend called her daughter Wren. I’ve got to hand it to her. It’s a genius name: unusual yet classic, strong, not too girly and can’t be shortened. It’s everything Anna is… and more. I love it. Similar favourites: Augusta, Brooke, Jasmine.

Georgie – Firstly, banish all thoughts of Georgie Porgie. Georgie is a fun name for a girl. It’s playful in a tomboy-ish, Enid Blyton kind of way but hopefully unusual enough for her to be the only Georgie in her class. In my mind, it’s a good alternative for the ubiquitous but eternally-elegant Grace or Gracie. Similar favourites – Edie, Audrey, Evie, Maisie, Janie. 

Marais – I’m not sure this is strictly a name but the husband and I came up with this while we were trotting around this cool little area of Paris. I like Marais. It has a cosmopolitan, slightly-exotic feel. I’m almost certain there won’t be another Marais at the toddler group. Perhaps for good reason? Similar favourites: Mariella, Mallory, Lucia, Vivetta.

Still not convinced? There’s a whole band of names reportedly teetering on the brink of extinction… so if it’s uniqueness you’re after, why not snap up one of these gems?

For the girls: Maud, Marjorie, Gertrude, Gladys, Hilda, Edna…

Or for the boys: Norman, Horis, Humphrey, Willie, Elmo, Cecil, Rowland…

At least you will be safe in the knowledge that little Willie will be the only Willie in the village.

Speaking of which, I think Humphrey Doherty has quite a ring to it, don’t you?

Feathering The Nest

Nesting. Ew! Who invented this word?

Nesting is apparently an obsessive urge to clean, organise and get your life in order – before welcoming a new being into the world.

Obsessive organisation? That sounds like my normal daily life, with or without an impending addition to the family.

Whatever you want to call it, this strange lull between finishing work and awaiting the baby is a last-chance opportunity to do all the jobs you’ve been putting off for years.

This is because – as everyone keeps pointing out – when the baby arrives you won’t even have time to trim your own nostril hair let alone clear out the condiments cupboard.

Here are some jobs around the home that I have finally got round to tackling (mainly out of sheer boredom at not being at work, rather than any primal nesting instinct).

First up…  the freezer. Does anyone ever actually clean a freezer? This necessity was only brought about by the fact that people have been helpfully messaging me saying, ‘stock up the freezer’.

I’m not sure exactly what happens when you have a baby but I can only assume that you turn into a sleep-deprived zombie, unable to stagger the 300 metres down the road to the nearest Co-Op, or too enfeebled to speed-dial Dominos.

Still, there did seem to be a worrying amount of frost building up in the top compartment of the supposedly frost-free freezer – so much, in fact, that for several years now, I’ve been having to literally ram items into it, between mounds of ice.


There was only one thing for it: in order to stock up the freezer, I was going to have to un-stock it first… Fossilised fish pies and leftover lasagnes – entombed in ice – were languishing in the bottom shelf, buried beneath Jolly Green Giant’s finest frozen peas. There was even coffee in there. Who freezes coffee? That must have been me! 

I have to say there was something strangely satisfying about chiselling off great hunks of ice with a kitchen spatula.

Next task: washing the duvet. One day, I was enjoying a coffee in my favourite Caffe Nero when I looked out of the window and saw a friend from work bundling her duvet into the laundrette opposite. When quizzed, she revealed that she had taken the duvet to be washed… and does so every six months! Dry cleaning the duvet? This essential housewife responsibility had somehow eluded me.

It’s time to come clean here (no pun intended)…. I have NEVER washed our duvet. The sheets get washed, ironed and changed every week but the actual duvet? ‘Fraid not. My mother-in-law will be horrified.

I asked a few people at work and apparently yes, everyone takes their duvet to be washed at fairly regular intervals. The husband and I are clearly the only people to have spent 10 years lying under a filthy duvet, weighed down with dust mites and dead skin cells. 

One quick trip to the launderette, three hours later and £20 lighter, I was in possession of an (almost) brand-new duvet.


It felt good. So good, in fact, that I decided to return the next day with another duvet. By Day 3, I was seeking out anything that could be dry cleaned: pillows, cushions, you name it…

This was going to become an expensive pastime.

Luckily for me, there was a more pressing matter to attend to: namely the smelly washing machine. Strange as it sounds, our washing machine has been emitting a rather pungent odour for quite some time. I’ve been trying to ignore it but in recent months the smell has been begun to seep out of the cupboard and into the hallway. What could it be?

A quick Google search revealed that a malodorous washing machine is the result of using too much washing powder, easily cured by several alternate hot cycles of bleach and white vinegar. Job done.

It was time to turn my attention to the ‘odd and sods’ drawer. Everyone has that drawer. It’s the drawer that you shove ‘stuff’ in when you don’t know where else to put it.


The odds and sods drawer may contain (in no particular order):

a. Old currency from an unknown holiday destination. The only way of determining which country it is from is by studying the obscure portrait on it for some time and then reaching the realisation that Greece converted to the Euro in 2001, thus rendering those drachmas completely useless.

b: A variety of phone chargers and leads – a great nest of tangled wires with absolutely no idea where they came from or which device they belong too.

c. Hundreds of lighters, most of which don’t work. A legacy from the days where a man would stand on the street corner shouting, ‘gas lighters… three for a pound’.

Also likely to be swimming around in the odds and sods drawer: dud batteries, leaky biros, furry sweets, out-of-date paracetamol, mini rolls of sellotape and myriad spare keys.

I binned the lot. It felt quite liberating.

So there we have it. Nesting complete. The baby will almost certainly be happier knowing that its parents are sleeping under a freshly-laundered duvet and that there’s an emergency charger for the Nokia 8210 (circa 2001) in the kitchen drawer.

And if the baby happens to fancy some lamp chops of indeterminable age, I know exactly which freezer compartment they’re in.

The Gandy Man

The husband has invested in some loungewear.

This is a big deal because:

a: the husband hates clothes shopping, least of all for something as insipid as loungewear.

b: he only purchases items he ‘identifies’ with. It’s hard to fathom exactly what this means. But let’s just say the husband doesn’t identify with garments very often.

c: Just like with fishcakes and cous cous (details here), the husband can ‘turn’ on items of clothing in an instant. For example, he was happily wearing a pair of leather desert boots from Ted Baker until last week, when he suddenly announced he had no suitable winter footwear at all. When I tried to get to the bottom of what was wrong with said boots, he simply said: ‘they are too shoey’. Shoey??

This is what we are dealing with.

But back to the loungewear. Loungewear, in case you’re wondering, is the name given to casual clothing worn around the home. For men, this involves some sort of elastic-waisted, pyjama-style pant (perfect for expanding middle-aged bellies), often teamed with a loose-fitting t-shirt.

For the last five years – possibly more – the husband has been rounging (Lancashire word for lounging combined with a bit of rolling) around in a tired old pair of Ben Sherman joggers.

To sport loungewear around the home and still look stylish is a tricky look to pull off.

Word on the street was that Derek Rose was your man when it came to cool loungewear. I’d seen swanky Derek banded about in Style magazine and other high-end fashion mags.

But a quick gander on Mr Porter (posh men’s clothing site revered by stylish 30-somethings) revealed that buying a pair of Derek Rose’s silky trousers involved parting with approximately £300! Surely there was other loungewear out there that didn’t involve re-mortgaging one’s house?

Luckily, there’s a man for whom stylish sleepwear at affordable prices is his speciality. Let me introduce you to loungewear lothario and king of the cotton trousers… David Gandy.


Gandy has been peddling his super-silky loungewear at good old Marks and Spenny’s for some time now but had somehow fallen under the radar.

We headed into town, the husband trailing reluctantly behind (muttering something about his moth-eaten Ben Shermans being perfectly functional for slovenly sofa surfing).

Pitching up at M&S, our favourite male model was very much dominating the men’s loungewear department. Take a gander at Gandy below (and spot the husband too!). This man isn’t just about shiny dressing gowns, six packs and smouldering looks; he actually purports to be a don in the ‘art of relaxation’.


The husband was dispatched to the dressing rooms with piles of Gandy’s garbs.

There was a long wait and then he called out, ‘I’m going to take them all.’

‘ALL of them?’ I said. ‘Are you sure?!’

‘I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life,’ the husband called back. ‘They’re just SO comfortable.’

Armfuls of Gandy pants purchased, we headed off for a drink.

‘I can’t relax,’ said the husband. ‘Because all I want to do is get home so I can change into my new loungewear.’

Driving back, we decided to investigate The Curious Incident of the Tartare Sauce Sachets.

A few weeks ago, during a visit to the husband’s grandparents, his Gran mentioned that she loved tartare sauce but was struggling to find it in the supermarket. I’m not sure why this is but for some reason tartare sauce is not an easy condiment to lay your hands on.

So, on the way home, I hopped on Amazon and before you could say ‘ta-ta’ (another Lancashire favourite!), 50 sachets of Gran’s favourite sauce were winging their way to her retirement flat in Preston.

A few weeks passed and I’d actually forgotten all about the tartare sauce delivery until one night I said to the husband, ‘don’t you think it’s funny that your Gran has never mentioned the tartare sauce we bought for her?’

There was a pause and then the husband said, ‘I know what’s happened.’

‘She’s received the sachets of sauce in the post and won’t know they’re for her. Right now, they’re probably sat on her kitchen worktop and she’s panicking, thinking they’re a mistaken delivery and actually for the restaurant downstairs.’

We phoned my mother-in-law. She confirmed that yes, Gran had received a mystery parcel of 50 sachets of tartare sauce, and yes, she didn’t believe they were for her and yes, she had been wracked with worry that she’d received them in error and would be hunted down for the money she owed.

Poor Gran had, in fact, barely slept for a week. My good Samaritan sauce deed had turned sour.

That night, the husband kept mumbling how luxurious his David Gandy loungewear was.

In the morning, we checked the label to try to get to the bottom of what made them so super soft. They were made of ‘modal’ – an undisclosed mixture of materials.

”It’s a mystery ingredient,’ said the husband. ‘Gandy will never reveal it. He’s the Willy Wonka of loungewear.’

The husband was reluctant to take his Gandy-wear off. He started making noises about wearing his lounge pants out of the house and had to be cajoled out of them.

Secretly, I think he might want to be David Gandy.



‘Perhaps David Gandy will branch out into outerwear,’ I said hopefully. ‘He’s already got swimming trunks and underpants; it’s only a matter of time before he takes his signature look outdoors’.

‘If anyone can, the Gandyman can,’ said the husband.

‘I feel like I’ve really identified with him’.

Far From The Maddening Crowd

Picture the scene. We’ve just arrived in the beautiful hills of the Algarve for a much-longed for mini-break, settled down with a book in a secluded grassy spot away from the hustle and bustle of the pool area, perhaps looking forward to a quiet snooze… when all of a sudden a bunch of raucous Essex folk descend.

‘Babe, babe,’ shouts the korma-coloured woman in the bejewelled bikini, wheeling a pram. ‘There a good spot here. Get Dave.’

‘Daaasvvvvve,’ yells Babe. ‘Get Filipo to bring us four sun beds. And get the beers in!’

Larger-than-life Dave, who looks and sounds just like James Corden but with none of his affability and a belly the size of Mount Vesuvius, bellows for Filipo.

Filipo dutifully trots off and returns, trundling the loungers behind him. Despite being twice his size, larger-than-life Dave doesn’t offer to help but merely jabs a chubby finger to where he’d like his loungers – namely within 30cm from us.

We are surrounded.

‘Oh no,’ grumbles the husband, whose tolerance levels for loud people are generally much higher than mine. ‘TOWIE have arrived!’

We thought we were safe here. It wasn’t by accident that we ended up relaxing on this grassy knoll. After a tour of the available sunbathing spots at the hotel, this particular location was carefully chosen for its quiet ambience: a safe haven from the highly-populated pool area – a mass of reddening flesh and squawking pool splashers – yet with views of the surrounding hills and a soothing babble of water in the background. How wrong we were.


This year has turned out less about The Battle of the Sunbeds (previously documented here and also here… oh, and here too – I’m clearly OBSESSED!) and more about The Battle to Eschew the Essex Crew.

‘Wouldn’t they be better in one of those cabanas down by the pool?’ I whisper. ‘They’d love it down there. Tell Dave!’

‘I’d even buy them a round,’ says the husband, as Filipo meekly scurries over with a tray of beers. ‘Just to get them out of earshot.’

‘Come this way, Dave,’ mimics the husband, in a soothing tone. ‘I’ve found you a lovely spot down by the lower pool, quite some way from here. I’ve even thrown in a bucket of Coronas!’

Larger-than-life Dave obliviously takes one sip of his beer and curls his lip.

‘Filipo,’ he booms. ‘Can I have another one of these but this time make it a cold one, would ya?’

Babe 1 appears to be grappling with a baby. ‘Babe,’ he says to Babe 2, holding up the baby and sniffing at its nappy. ‘Chantelle’s got a full package ‘ere.’

The husband lets out a long sigh.

That night, we decide to venture out of the Conrad compound and head to a restaurant recommended by a friend.

We ask the concierge for a taxi and – bizarrely – he offers to drive us himself. Before we know it, we are ushered into a luxury saloon and are soon purring down the immaculate driveway of the hotel, listening to the croon of Chris Martin.

‘The concierge certainly goes the extra mile – literally!’ I whispered to the husband. ‘Is this normal taxi rates or are we now paying for a private chauffeur?!’

‘No idea,’ says the husband. ‘But I like it!’

Quinta do Lago, famed for its golf courses, is like a colonised version of the Truman show: palatial homes peek from behind perfectly-pruned palm trees, while pearly-toothed families pound down pristine pavements. If it’s culture you’re after, you won’t find it here.

It’s very hot in Portugal and the husband appears to have a shortage of shorts: dressy shorts, that is – the kind of shorts you might wear to visit a restaurant of an evening, perhaps teamed with a pair of… (ultimate middle class horror)… loafers.

The husband has one pair of such dressy shorts; they are a light blue Reiss number and could stain easily, if he is not careful. He is under strict instruction to cover them with a napkin at all times.


We arrive at the restaurant. It’s terribly refined and overlooks a picturesque lake. King of the pearly teeth Philip Schofield is on the table next to us, holding court with a group of TV exec types  – and a gaggle of girls straight out of Chelsea clink glasses opposite. Ex-footballer Graham Souness is apparently at the bar.

The husband orders a black cod broth. He takes one mouthful and somehow manages to douse his shorts in splodges of soy sauce.

‘Something bad has happened,’ grimaces the husband, peering down at his lap, the protective layer of his napkin nowhere to be seen.

‘How bad?’ I ask, craning my neck. ‘It it salvageable?!’

‘Really, really bad,’ says the husband, sliding his lower half further under the table. ‘It’s too distressing for you to even see.’

I throw my hands up in a signal of mock despair and as I do so, I somehow manage to knock a whole glass of wine straight into the husband’s lap, dousing his ill-fated shorts even further.

The husband gasps; waiters rush over… even Schofield stops his patter and turns to stare.

But it’s too late to save them.

I think the husband will be wearing trousers from here on.

The next day, I peer out of the window to check out the state of play on the grassy knoll. The Essex crew’s loungers from the previous day are still there, dominating our quiet spot. Those loungers had never been there previously, I note, but overnight Filipo has failed to move them back to wherever they had came from. This was troubling; Dave and co. had effectively SEEDED the area.


‘I’m going to go down and bagsy our loungers,’ I tell the husband. ‘But I’m also going to move the additional loungers out of the way to discourage any further TOWIE invasion.’

‘Fine with me,’ says the husband. ‘But please let it be noted that this is not the behaviour of a sane person.’

I furtively scamper down to the pool area. By the time I have carted off six loungers (some double ones- who knew?!) and restored the grassy knoll to its original half crescent sunbed formation, I have worked up quite the sweat.


‘All done,’ I say to the husband, who is patiently sitting at the breakfast table, engrossed in his book (Wonder by R.J Palacio).

I turn back just in time to see feeble Filipo wheeling the sun loungers BACK to where I had moved them from, with larger-than-life Dave swaggering brashly behind him.

‘There. Is. No. Escape,’ says the husband.

Space Rage

Just when I thought things had settled down at our apartment block, I’ve found myself in a Cold War over parking with Slovenly Sonia, the lazy new tenant at Apartment 8.

There’s an unofficial parking space by the side of our apartment and while it’s always been offered up on a ‘first come, first served basis’ the husband and I have been getting first dibs on it for the last few years (bar the occasional wrangle with Belligerent Bill from Apt 2).

We parked there so often, in fact, that we had begun to think of it as our own private parking spot.

This was before Sonia and her cream Mini arrived. She descended on our apartments a couple of months ago and now hogs the space ALL of the time. This is largely because a. she doesn’t appear to ever be at work and b. she never seems to leave her apartment.

photo 1-16

Another resident apparently asked Sonia if she could please park in her allocated spot down the hill and leave the spare spaces for those who had two cars. Slovenly Son refused, muttering something about the car park ‘being a mess’.

After a few weeks of seeing her cream Mini parked there, I began to get rather resentful. Sometimes, when I walked past, I had an irrational urge to kick the car – or in wilder moments I imagined beating it with a tree branch (a la mad Basil Fawlty in the opening episode of Fawlty Towers).


Then one evening, on sighting the cream Mini smugly nestled in its usual spot, I decided enough was enough.

I grabbed a Post-it note, scribbled, ‘Why can’t you just park in your own space and stop hogging this one?’, hared back out and slapped it on her windscreen.

The next day there was an ‘all residents’ email from Sonia herself.

‘Hi, whoever put the post it note on my car … Could you have the decency to contact me direct …. Tenant or owner we all have the same rights ….the space is directly at the side of my apartment and it is an unallocated space and I was informed it is whoever gets there first? If I am in that spot and my space is empty I don’t have a problem with anyone parking in my spot… But I have plantar fascititus so find it easier on my foot to park at the top.

Thank you and kind regard.’

Plantar fascitius?? I hastily Googled this condition and discovered that it’s basically a sore foot usually suffered by people who wear poorly-fitting shoes or lead a sedentary lifestyle.

‘Sounds about right,’ I huffed to the husband.

Plantar fascitius is quite similar to Policeman’s Heel, which I rather like the sound of (the name, not the condition).

Later that week, I actually saw slipshod Sonia heading out on foot. I gave her a cheery wave: the kind of cheery neighbourly wave that I hoped said, ‘Hello friendly neighbour; it wasn’t me that put a passive aggressive Post-It note on your window!’.

It didn’t escape my notice that she was wearing a pair of high heels and appeared to be clopping along at ease. Surely a true plantar fascititus sufferer should be in a sensible pair of Clarks brogues? Policeman’s Heel, my ass!

The next day, I returned home to find the much-maligned space vacant and cream Mini nowhere to be seen.

I was then caught in a dilemma. Do I make the most of Slovenly Sonia’s absence and snap the space up while I can? Or, in taking the space, am I effectively advertising, ‘I’m the person who put the Post-It note on your car. I’m the friendly neighbour who’s not so friendly after all!’

I spent so long dilly-dallying that wranglesome Sonia arrived home and zoomed straight in. I’d lost out again!

A week has now passed since the Post-It note and I’m determined to reclaim the space. It’s simply a matter of lying in wait for her next trip out.

Once I’ve secured the spot, it’s going to be difficult to give it up again. I might have to leave my car in situ and take public transport for a few days.

‘You can spout all the fancy foot conditions you like at me, Sonia,’ I thought, grimly.

But one thing’s for sure, I’m going to reclaim that space. I’m in this for the long run.

My Mother… and The British Gas Debacle Part II

It seems that my mother has become an unwitting video star after waxing lyrical about her fiasco with her British Gas bill (here) and chewing the fat with my uncle Stephen over his pyromaniac neighbour (here).

So here’s an update on my mother’s British Gas saga (amongst other trivialities!):

<p><a href=”″>My Mother… And The British Gas Debacle Part II</a> from <a href=”″>Palmersan</a&gt; on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>


New Kid On The Blog No More

Happy 1st Birthday to the blog.

That’s one whole year of whimsical witterings, narcissistic natterings, and very first world woes. Thank you for suffering through it.

Here’s what I’ve learnt about blogging:

1. People read the blog but never, ever comment.

I seriously thought no-one read my blog apart from two friends and my sister. Then, I kept meeting up with random people who would say, ‘I like your blog by the way’. Apparently, some of the husband’s work colleagues read it too (much to his alarm). When you’re writing to a largely silent audience, you would just never know.

So, without wanting to write a gushing Gwynnie-style Oscar speech, thank you to the small band of people who do like, share and comment on a frequent basis. It really is appreciated.

2. Friends live in fear of me blogging about them.

My friend’s husband – a loveable hybrid of a harried Hugh Grant and a bumbling Mr Bean – is a walking calamity, frequently getting himself into sticky situations and social awkwardities. As a result, he lives in a perpetual state of fear that I’m going to blog about him.

He should be worried.

I mean why wouldn’t I want to write about the time he leapt up from the seat in our local bar and got a lampshade stuck on his head?

Or the time he came bounding out of his house – arm outstretched – to meet The Husband for the first time, hollering: ‘Great to meet you Phil, I’ve heard SO much about you,’ (The husband’s name isn’t Phil).

Or just the other Saturday, when I was conversing with him in Caffe Nero, he absent-mindedly STOLE another man’s £10 note off the counter, popped it in his wallet and ambled off with his cappuccino.

3. People actually want to be written about.

Contrary to point 2, people do actually love a name check. My friend Anna (actress/ psychologist/ Jacqueline-of-all-trades) said, ‘If I’m not in the blog by Christmas, something’s gone awry.’

Shortly after, she clambered up on to the bar, started dancing, and then set her hair alight with a nearby candle.

Another zany friend Abi – owner of the boisterous dog, a yacht that she impulsive purchased in St Tropez, and many other loveable qualities (terrible tardiness not being one of them) – also longs for a starring role. Given the amount of material I have on her, I think she should be worried.

Here’s a taster: This Saturday, Abi was hungover, tired, and faced with the prospect of cooking dinner for five people. So she did the only sensible thing: throw money at the problem.

Following a trip to Marks and Spencer’s – in which she somehow managed to part with £106 – she threw all of her vacuum-packed purchases into ceramic pots to give it a homemade feel, and passed it off to her dinner guests as her own three-course culinary concoction.

4. The blog evolves over time.

My Family And Other Oddities (inspired by Gerald Durrell’s famous novel of a similar name) began as a little way of charting my parents’ quirks and foibles, which I found so endearing I believed they deserved a platform of their own.

Over time, this kind of progressed to little stories about other eccentricities, including our nosy neighbours, strangers in the coffee shop, yours truly, and, of course, the long-suffering husband – poking fun at our largely middle class lifestyles.

Last week, I made an impulsive decision to change the name of my blog. I happened to be ordering my usual latte, when One Shot Extra Hot sprang to mind.

On a whim, I emailed the helpful people at WordPress and before I could say one-shot-extra-hot-no-foam-soya latte, they’d transferred the whole site to its frothy new name.

Things seemed to be going well until I was faced by a host of technical issues: lots of images hadn’t made it across in the transfer; my tiny fan base (Hi Ted!) couldn’t get the link to the latest post via their email; and all my old links were broken.

Things might not have been so bad, had I not have met up with friends Anna and Sam that very evening, who took one look at my new blog name and said curiously:

‘One’s Hot, Extra Hot?!’ (note the apostrophe).

Yep, depending on how you viewed my new URL oneshotextrahot, it could be read as either:

a: the way the author orders her coffee.


b: a posh mentalist proclaiming how ‘hot’ she is/ the Queen having a hot flush.

I hastily emailed WordPress back, who managed to switch it all back again (thank god!). My Family And Other Oddities is currently back in business.

I’m still thinking of new names… Cheese At Fourpence (a proper Lancashire saying) is a favourite. It means to be left standing awkwardly, as in ‘I felt like cheese at fourpence’. Lancashire folk actually do say it as well (my mother included). I like it.

5. People don’t like what you write.

Blogging about everyday stuff and escapades of your nearest and dearest invariably leads to upsetting the odd friend or two. I’m still living in fear of our busybody neighbours-at-large SuDick getting wind of my posts.

And who could forget Barry Scott the man who turned his shower power spray on me? ‘I’ve never read such vacuous, self-indulgent nonsense in all my life,’ he wrote.

I thought I was a pithy Carrie Bradshaw but it turns out I’m more of a loathsome Liz Jones.

I had a little read back through my posts. Old Cillit Bang Barry has got a point. The blog is frivolous, vainglorious and any other self-seeking synonym you want to throw my way.

But I hope a healthy dollop of self-irony still makes it through.

To quote another of my mother’s favourite phrases: you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

I suppose if you don’t like what I write, there is a simple solution: just don’t read it.

(But please let me know if you do!)