Tuesday, 11 August 2015

My Mediocre Bathroom.....followed by My Dream Bathroom

To be blunt..my bathroom has seen better days.
It is somewhat tired with dated decor, lime scale ridden taps, a yellowing bath and a toilet that doesn't seem to understand how to flush. This is not entirely useful when having to cope with a busy family consisting of 2 adults and 2 teenagers!
It's actually a very good size so in the right hands it could be extremely beautiful and fully functional yet funds do not allow....
Here are some pics of our bathroom so you can fully appreciate the banality...

Stunning isn't it..

Our Toilet That Doesn't Behave

You may think that a toilet is a toilet but this toilet is very unwell. A very weak flush twinned with a seat that's had many a bum planted on it results in an overused and sad toilet. We've lived in our house for 2 years now and still haven't managed to replace or update the bathroom situation, this makes me very sad 😕
Don't even get me started on the Lino......

Our Old Stained Bath That Has Non Working Taps

The bath that is never used. I love having a bath but the luxury of a warm, fragrant bubbled bath sits long in my distant memory. For some unknown reason the taps and shower attachment on our bath have NEVER worked. The bath merely sits there, gathering various wildlife that use it as skiing slope whilst the yellowing tide marks merely get more yellow. Ultimately, no bath, no shower, just a small clogged up sink....

The Sink That Shows Festering Brown Mastic

The picture says it all, the taps also internally house growing lime scale which is very scratchy.
There is no amount of cleaning product that can rid these taps of their gunk, Barry Scott you've failed!!!

Happy Days??? No...


Monday, 29 June 2015

My Life In Tennis

My life in tennis..from the very beginning...

Vicky (left) circa 1983

My tennis adventure began in 1982 at the age of 9 all because of a girl called Vicky Larcombe.
I moved house from Enfield to Winchmore Hill and attended a new school where I met Vicky.
She suggested to me to come and join her at Enfield Chase Tennis Club and the rest is history. I joined the club and discovered a wonderful sport that I was naturally good at and enjoyed so much. We attended our weekly lessons with our coach Ivor and I improved so much in a short space of time even winning the Improver Of The Year trophy 1983 (which I never returned) because I genuinely enjoyed scampering around that court whacking the day lights out of those yellow balls and returning home with socks covered in red clay dust.
I never looked back, I was hooked.
Here we were in my back alley in 1983 on our Pathfinder bikes with wooden rackets in hand...thank you Vicky x


I bought my first tennis racket from the newsagent across the street, it cost £2.50 and came with a free ball! I thought it was a good racket but every time I hit a forehand  it would bend because the metal wasn't very strong, so to bend it back I would flip the racket around and hit a backhand so it was  constantly being bent backwards and forwards! It sure improved my strokes! I soon tired of Mrs Bendy Racket so my mum took me to Argos where she bought me my first proper racket, a Slazenger Panther!  It came with a cool racket case and I think it cost £19.99, believe me, I thought I was Martina Navratilova, except without the dodgy hairdo.

I spent the subsequent years playing tennis for various clubs as well as Enfield Chase, including Hazelwood Lawn Tennis Club, David Lloyd Enfield, Barnet, Potters Bar and Townsend in St Albans.
Over the years I have managed to attain a few awards which stand proudly on my shelf at home, as well as winning 2 improver of the year cups at different clubs, my name is etched on 2 different club's winners boards for winning the mixed and ladies doubles, a feat of which I am immensely proud of and the self esteem this achievement brings is enormous.

   Our Hazelwood 4th Team (me, second from left,back row)


Tennis was not only a sport I played for exercise purposes, in fact, in never has been for physical exercise for me, just sheer enjoyment. Everyone says that 'working out' is boring and they are correct, which is another reason why I stuck with tennis because I never viewed it as 'working out', I viewed it as total fun and enjoyment, a social outlet to meet many many friends and have hours, days, weeks, months and years of sunny fun filled tennis matches ( with exercise thrown in as good bonus)

 Me winning the 'Doris' trophy at Potters Bar Club 2011

I even met my husband thought tennis.
He came to my tennis club's annual Square Dance social event, which for me was just a reason to don my red lumberjack shirt dance very stupidly, wear tight jeans and consume copious amount of wine while our worlds collided over a Barn Dance Medley and love blossomed....

My husband and I at Queens Club this year

The social aspect of tennis is somewhat overlooked. Mention tennis to a non player and a lot of immediate responses gravitate towards 'elitist sport', 'money driven' and 'no one British is any good' etc. Rarely does anyone acknowledge how many relationships and wonderful lifelong friendships that are formed over that tennis net. 
Sport unites people who otherwise would have nothing in common and nothing to talk to each other about.
Tennis forms bonds.
Hazelwood tennis club also had me writing the yearly quiz where my attendees included Alan Jones and the mighty Jo Durie...they were not very good at quizzes, they got the booby prize in fact (a tin of tuna)
My husband and I have produced 2 tennis loving children all because I attended a funny Square Dance social event at my club. I have also met many good friends like Vicky, who I still am in contact with and dozens more who I have played with over the years and have many memorable and funny memories to always share.


           Ashley...through the years

        Jazzy, keeping score on Finals Day

Here are our 2 children who have played tennis since they were big enough to hold a racket.
Ashley 14, now hits both my husband and I off the court in a very embarrassing way. 
I lie, I am not embarrassed at all, I burst with pride and joy whenever I watch him play. He has won numerous child tournaments and is now entering into the men's teams and will progress on to a lifetime of enjoying and loving tennis. 

             Winning Ways

Ashley visited Wimbledon for the first time last year and was so impressed, even meeting the hawk that keeps watch over centre court, and hitting some balls with Sam Querry.

He also met and played with Jeremy Bates when he visited Townsend, even though Ashley didn't know who he was...ahem.

Two years ago he won a local competition to attend the Annabel Croft tennis School at St Albans Girls School but was so disappointed as it got cancelled due to lack of interest. This baffled me...what sporty child wouldn't want to spend a whole week playing tennis in the summer? 
Jazzy 10, is not far behind him. She hits the ball superbly and prefers to play with all the boys, there is a serious lack of girls playing tennis at our club which is such a shame. Jazzy has played numerous matches for Townsend too and represented her school at various tournaments as well as winning some child events. She loves tennis, but asks me why can't more girls play? I ask myself the same question...

           Jazzy....through the years


We live right next door to the newly refurbished Batchwood Tennis Centre of Excellence and have played there a few times. It is a beautiful centre and we are very lucky to have it on our doorstep. We attended the recent re-opening with the local mayor....spot Jazzy in the front with blonde hair and blue jumper, never one to miss a photo opportunity.

We even spent a wonderful day at the magnificent Roehampton Centre, home of the LTA where we all received some brilliant coaching in the London sunshine, tennis has allowed us to experience such happy times together as a family. 

          Ashley receiving coaching from someone who looks a lot like Rafa at Roehampton.

Tennis is a superb sport to play, it is not for the elite, it is for everybody and my life has been shaped by tennis for the better.
I've had so much fun and exercise and met amazing people through playing tennis so I thank my friend Vicky for introducing me to this fantastic sport. I can't think what I would've done without it.

Here is a small video featuring my family and I loving our sport....


: Form long lasting friendships
: Build confidence
: Have British tennis stars attend your club quizzes..and lose
: Get Wimbledon tickets in the club ballot
: Find a husband 
: Have children who play better than you
: Tone up flabby bottoms
: Get your name on the board...forever!
: Learn square dancing
: Meet tennis legends...like Jeremy Bates
: Beat the boys
: Keep active
: Get a suntan
: Spend wonderful days at posh tennis clubs
: Photobomb the local Mayor
: HAVE FUN!!!!!😀

Wednesday, 10 June 2015


My Homage to Brilliant/Useless/Sexy/Dense/Funny TV Dads...

Sometimes the written word does not suffice so in addition to my blog post I have composed 2 small songs illustrating my joy for my Top TV dads...

"My Top TV Dads"... (Click this link to see video on you tube or click play below)

5th: ALBERT STEPTOE (Steptoe & Son)

Wilfred Brambell's portrayal of Steptoe as quite frankly the most intolerable, selfish, cantankerous old rodent known to man is possibly why I find him so endearing.
I was too young to watch the original series but began watching repeats during the mid 1980's and became fascinated by the father and sons' toxic relationship. Old man Steptoe's possessive and stifling hold on Harold was painful yet hilarious to watch. The TV film 'Steptoe & Son Ride Again' demonstrated perfectly the father's desperately parasitic and poisonous clasp held over his fully grown son, not allowing Harold to marry, causing tension, contributing nothing and letting his own fears of loneliness keep Harold well wedged under the thumb of his father.
Yet, humour is found in the most dire situations, how could forget the image of the old man taking his false teeth out to use as a pie-crimper? 
The father & son's prickly relationship and Harold's understandable efforts to maintain harmonious family relations within the Steptoe abode are summed up perfectly by this quote:

HAROLD: "Father, I would prefer it if you didn't refer to my fiancé as an old slag" 

Albert thought more of Hercules the horse than he ever did for any of Harold's girlfriends, poor Harold. 
Finally, the alarming vision of skeletal pensioner Steptoe, ghostly white and hairless proudly bathing in the kitchen sink in front of a window with a box of Omo cleaning granules and scrubber left me spluttering on my toast, not to mention the effect on the poor woman opposite cleaning her windows....


Albert Ladysmith Steptoe a rough and withered fellow
Hairy nostrils, tattered clothes and false teeth that are yellow,
Grown up son called Harold who cannot cut the ties,
Albert clinging onto him, preventing his demise.
Smoking dirty fag butts, habitual enjoyment,
Trusted Rag N Bone men is their only true employment,
In Oil Drum Lane old Albert lives it's starting to decay,
A house of junk and clutter only adds to their dismay,
Bathing in the kitchen sink, this sight looks pretty grim,
Scrubbing all his rancid bits with scourers and some Vim,
But weary Harold looks at him and says 'You dirty old man'
But Albert Steptoe makes me laugh,I am your biggest fan!

4th: JIM ROYLE (The Royle Family)

Lazy, female bashing ,cynical, hairy, smelly are some of the shining attributes of the lovably useless Jim Royle yet, realism however damning the qualities are something to relate to and identify with because your own dad had probably more in common with Mr Royle than Mr Clark Kent.
Watching the Royle family became somewhat of a ritual of fascination in my household. Jim,Barbara,Denise,Antony, David and Nana was a bit like watching ourselves yet we were safe in the knowledge that we we weren't quite that bad so felt a little better about ourselves (the Jeremy Kyle syndrome, except with better teeth)

JIM ROYLE: "These pants cost me a quid, I've got 50 pence worth stuck up me arse!"

Jim's triumphant announcements of his impending visits to the toilet cracked me up and even more so when discussions of the remaining aroma became the topic of the family debates.

 JIM ROYLE: "I'm off to ave a chat with the Arabs, Mustafa Crap"

I found myself understanding the Jim Royle way of existing without obvious affection and tactility and bickering yet in a understandable way.
It was not only Jim's acerbic humour which affected me but his deep rooted care and concern when the family jabs got too hard, I loved the way that there were no group hugs and kisses here just a unique way of settling and finding comfort with each other's inertia, not in a fake televised 'TV' way.
In homage to the brilliant Royle Family my husband and I even attempted some roleplay of Jim and Denise and their comfy lifestyle....

The Royle's in our own front room

3rd DAN CONNER (Roseanne)

Well, I have to have at least one American offering so as not to look too patriotic however Dan Conner is the only dad on my list who I genuinely wished was actually my dad!
Huge, dependable, funny, strong all wrapped up in one big bear of a man was Dan Conner.
I'm not a big fan of American sitcoms but Roseanne was one of a few which I liked immensely and watched every week in the 80's. 
I loved the relationship between the Conner family, all of them were normal looking people, no supermodels, no huge bouffant 80's hairdos, no one was actually that attractive which to me smacks of normal, identifiable through our matching inadequate failings. The daughters Becky & Darlene were scruffy and moody, D.J the little brother was puny and annoying, Roseanne's sister was interfering and Roseanne was a bit fat but Dan was even fatter with his red lumberjack shirt clinging to his huge belly but Dan held it together for everyone.

DAN CONNER: "Remember the family motto, we're Conners, we gotta eat"

I love the way Dan protected his kids from the pain of growing up and boyfriends:

MARK (BECKY'S BOYFRIEND): "You think you can stop me seeing Becky huh?"
DAN CONNER: "No but I think I can stop you seeing tomorrow."

Dan Conner represented perfectly the paranoid protective parent trying desperately to not let his daughters grow up, I never had that from my dad so watching Dan made me yearn for a dad who cared who I went out with and was bothered about where I was and what I did.
The character was not without faults after an affair poisoned their marriage and I think the character even died in the end of a heart attack but I like to cherry pick the best parts of a TV series that shines in its prime entertaining me immensely.
Dan Conner, I salute you.

2nd FRANK SPENCER (Some Mothers Do Ave Em)

I was born in the 70's so Some Mothers Do Ave Em was very much watched and loved.
My first impressions of the hapless plum known as Frank Spencer was that how could someone so stupid actually have sex and produce a baby daughter? But putting my cynicism firmly to one side, I always loved Frank because of the resounding and comforting innocence he displayed as a man, as a husband and definitely as a dad.
His fashion sense was questionable as were many dads in the 70's, if I ever came across a grown man in a raincoat and beret when I was 7 I would've assumed he was some French flasher and would run screaming back home but in hindsight it was all acceptable in the 70's.
I remember being very impressed with the manic stunts that Frank performed with my favourite one being the extended roller skate ride throughout the town. I remember this because they did actually film this sequence a mile from my real house near Edmonton Green bus station, I recognised the round concrete steps which have since been demolished. I have included this clip below...
Frank made us all laugh, it was a true family show which we could all enjoy. I remember my own dad sniggering at Betty's mother's response to her daughter's marriage;

BETTY: Our marriage was great shock to her, she wanted me to marry someone else.
BETTY: No one in particular, just someone else.

I think I was so endeared by Frank because he was absolutely nothing like my own dad, Frank failed to navigate the simplest of daily tasks, couldn't hold down a job and spoke like a child. This dumbfounded me, as children we assume everyone's dad is like our own.
One of my memorable scenes is when Frank is hanging onto the back of a moving bus and the conductor comes along and Frank screams, 'I haven't got any change!!'  (see attached link)

Observational humour amuses me so, and I love the simplistic and innocent 70's sitcoms, some were a bit awful but there were a few amazing ones that came in at a time when we were all a little more innocent & happier just like Frank which is why he is one of my top TV dads.

1st MAX BRANNING (Eastenders)

I have to confess, ginger men are not on my wish list and Ed Sheeran is included in that even though he's quite hip, so when the copper delights of Max Branning's shiny head stirred my loins I was somewhat flustered and a little embarrassed.
He is in fact, a totally untrustworthy cheating liar of a husband who after many family feuds, secret marriages,numerous affairs with teenagers was buried alive in an open grave by his wife and run over by his alcoholic mad daughter, that aside he's alright.
In real life of course I would hate every fibre of his being and be revolted at his  antics and deceitful nature however this is TV world so because of that I can forgive and fantasise at being shacked up in the car lot for an afternoon tryst with the balding ginger one.
He is by far the most coolest and strangely attractive dad I've ever encountered and not many in fact none of my dads are on my list because they are sexy believe me...Max is the exception, he is one sexy bad lad dad.
He saunters around in his fitted white shirts and smart suit trousers that cling terribly snugly to that pert firm bottom that I'm struggling to recall any of his classic quotes...sorry.

My 2nd small song and ode to Max Branning can be found here in a song entitled,

 'Isn't Max So Lovely'.... (Click this link to see video on you tube or click play below)

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

My First Wheels

Ok, my first baby wheels literally was my brother's go Kart on which I would zoom swiftly around outside (circa 1976) This was a kid's dream...I loved it.

Hell on Wheels!!!!

My first proper wheels I got when I was 26 and it was my beloved 3 door Citroen Saxo 2000 in electric blue which I fondly christened Martha (doesn't everyone name their cars?) My dad bought Martha for me so in gratitude I made him a solemn vow to cherish my demure little runabout.

Martha & I

I treasured Martha and her manual sunroof that I had to wind up like a gramophone just to get a bit airflow inside as the air conditioning was a system solely dependent on how far down you wound her windows down in times of abject suffocation.
I studiously manned her stereo cassette system (yes tapes!) and played endless songs of Shakira (hip shaking was not an activity happily achieved in her limited space) whilst cruising the A10 with her windows rolled down.
I was not aware that owning a car that was key operated was uncool until a friend of mine casually remarked (from the comfort of her Audi) that she didn't realise they still made cars without a central locking system! (She is no longer my friend) Her seat adjustment was a dream as I managed to get my little 5ft 2 self as close to her wheel as I could without onlookers assuming that Ronnie Corbett was part owner.

I forgave her not so plush interior, her sombre pattern partially outlined with an electric blue fabric which wouldn't have looked out of place in an early Duran Duran video. It was acceptable in the 80's...

It looked alot like this..

This was of no matter to myself as my reliable little Martha served me well around North London with a smile on my face and room enough for my diminutive self even assisting me when I eventually moved out.

Know this, Martha may not have been expensive or glamorous. Nor did she possess a complicated technology and her vigorous booty shaking was more akin to a timid waggle, yet my curious little Martha was the most trusted friend I had who never let me down....except maybe when 13 years down the line the winder on her sun roof snapped and her exhaust fell out on the A303 on my way to Cornwall.

I relegated Martha to the scrap heap in the sky mourning her passing with a sausage roll and a smile. I then chose a shinier, sexier and more exotic model.....a Nissan Micra.

My best mate Martha


Thursday, 16 October 2014



Here is my recipe for a lovely looking and very impressive show stopping Bunting Cake that makes even the grumpiest look gleeful.
It's a bit time consuming, a bit calorie laden, a bit messy and leaves your kitchen looking like the bomb squad has had a go at it but golly it's worth it.

Here we go, now pay attention.....

Preheat oven to 170oC (fan assisted)


  1. 350g self raising flour,sifted
  2. 350g soft marg, I use Stork it's great to work with
  3. 350g caster sugar
  4. 6 large eggs 
  5. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  6. A good dash of milk
  7. 6 different gel colours to colour your sponges

  1. 100g soft butter ( I don't use the Stork for this bit,I use the proper stuff)
  2. 300g soft cream cheese
  3. 600g sifted icing sugar
  4. Some drops of pink colouring


You're going to be making 6 separate sponges for this baby so ideally you would need 6x 8" sandwich tins, however I don't know anyone who has 6 of these , (I have 4) ,so I grease and line 4 of them and then bake the cakes 2 at a time and then begrudgingly I wash up the first 2 tins and grease and reline them and cook with them again...genius! Prepare everything beforehand.


1: In a mixer, cream together the Stork and sugar till pale.

2: Then I add an egg at a time followed by a spoon of flour and whisk,this prevents curdling (well that what Ms Berry says) Finish off by adding the last of the flour and the vanilla extract and using a metal spoon gently fold it all in. Regarding my egg situation, I always use free range because I happen to own 3 hefty chickens who lay big eggs constantly (see pic) and to be frank I have so many and my children are so sick of poached eggs for breakfast,boiled for lunch and scrambled for dinner that that they are beginning to wish for a gruesome chicken cull, for fear of morphing into human eggs. Tis nice to make a cake that needs loads of eggs so I can use the blighters  up!

3: When mixed, I sometimes add a bit of milk at this stage if it looks like you could grout your kitchen tiles with it just to loosen up and make it go a little further.

4: Next I use just about every bowl I own (except the toilet bowl) to divide the mixture into 6 bowls of equal quantity, I don't weigh it seeing as my patience wouldn't cope with that amount of methodology. Just guess and make it near enough.

5: Then you need to add your colours to make them well, colourful I use the Dr Oetker range because that's what I had and my local Lidl didn't seem to stock the posh ones so I used these. They're ok, but I do believe you can achieve brighter results with different brands if you can get them but these will suffice. Quantity wise I just kept adding a bit at a time and stirring until I started believing I was hallucinating on a bad trip.You could try a rainbow theme I.e Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain and all that but if your colours end up a bit murky and dubious then the order might result more in a Richard Of Golders Green Plucked Leeches Valiantly or something...either way it's all still colourful and I'm sure Richard doesn't mind what he's plucking.....

6: Spoon your cake mix equally into your prepared tins and cook your cakes two at a time for around 20 minutes each or until springy. Don't panic if they don't look risen as they tend not to rise too much and remember you are stacking these so you don't want it taller than The Shard or you'll resemble a dribbling sloth when attempting to shove it in your mouth.

7: When your cakes are removed from the oven do not panic Mr Mainwaring if they look a bit pale and not as vivid (see pic) just have faith, when the sponges are assembled together the colours will become more apparent. Let them cool on a rack.

8: I now wrap mine in foil and chill for a while in the fridge as this makes them easier to ice and less fragile and also gives me time to have tea and hob nobs after all my diligent cooking.

9: Did I mention the mess, well yes it's messy however they've invented a fabulous contraption that washes up all the dirty stuff for you...use it!!!

10: Once you have finished the tea and half the packet of Hob Nobs you need to make the icing. Whisk up your soft butter in a bowl till smooth then add your cream cheese and whisk again.

11: Gradually add your sifted icing sugar and possibly a dash of lemon juice if you have it,this tames the sweetness. I like to add a few drops of pink colouring at this stage, purely because I like pink but if you don't you can add any colour or just leave it white,stir well with a wooden spoon, I know it hurts but who doesn't want biceps like Fatima Whitbread?

12: You can now chill the icing because it becomes easier to deal with when cooler.

13: Finally time to ice the masterpiece. Firstly glue the bottom base of the sponge with some icing onto your cake stand,this stops the blighter from running around the bottom. Next,carefully spread a thin layer of icing in between each sponge and stack em high baby! (Take the icing to the very edge,this way you will get good definition)

14: When all the sponges are assembled then continue with the icing to cover the entire cake using a palette knife. Don't just splodge it on, take a bit of time and care at this stage, it's worth it. Basically your cake is now finished but you can embellish it further if you like with coloured sprinkles or a few extra little swirly icing designs around the base. Either way it looks great because  the inside is more the the showpiece.

15: I love pretty bunting so I simply made my own bunting with 2 Cake pop sticks, some ribbon,glue and paper triangles. Incredibly simple and straightforward yet very effective and pretty. (See pic) So there you have my pretty Bunting Cake.

Good luck peeps and happy cooking.

It's better to know some of the questions than all of the answers..