Apr 202014

I have invented a new label for myself: I am to become a Social Pescatarian.

Let me fill you in thus far:

I have been a vegetarian since my animal ethics course at university. Never much of a carnivore to begin with, it was an easy decision to give up meat altogether and at the time there was little opportunity and even less money to be considering buying organic or free-range meat which would appease my conscience. So I happily gave it up (read more about it here if you like).

So, after 21 years, minus 6 months in Germany (I defy ANYONE to be a successful veggie in a country that sells raw meat in a bun) and about a year after the birth of my third child (more info here if you must) I am being driven into eating fish, albeit socially.

So what heinous thing is driving me to this?  What could possibly make me quash my hardened principles?

Bloody risotto, that’s what.

Let me give you an example of most menus in gastro-pubs up and down the country and most high street kiddie-friendly joints
to boot:


Yep, there you have it. If you are vegetarian, most likely the only option you have is risotto (or salad – purleeease! I’m out for dinner!). Now, I like risotto, but not all the bloody time. I only have to think of carbs and my stomach begins to swell in some peculiar Dahl-like manner. I am the Violet Beauregard of white carbs. And the risotto trend is for spring vegetables (see above) or fancy mushrooms and with risotto, that’s it. No option for triple-cooked chips on the side or champ mash with a masterchef jus, oh no, a large bowl of rice is yours and that is it.

So fed up am I with this being the only option I have recently found myself ordering the fish instead. Fish comes with nice side dishes and fancy sauces (OK, except the menu above where it is still carbtastic) but just look at all the meat dishes! They sound SO much nicer. I had fish today, herb crusted with green vegetables. It felt healthy, it tasted of something, it didn’t leave me feeling like I had filled my stomach with ever-expanding balls of bleached wheat. And, while I’m at it, why is there never a veggie option on the Sunday roasts? Is it so hard to rustle up a bit of nut roast? Stick a bit of quorn in the oven? Not cook the roast potatoes in goose fat?

So, weighing this all up, I have decided to become a social pescatarian. If I go out and it’s risotto I will, without guilt or self-flagellation, allow myself to peruse the fish option and not think about Finding Nemo.

So there. *descends from orange box and leaves Hyde Park*

Apr 182014

Lunch in the terrace; not too shabby!

Lunch on the terrace; not too shabby!

Remember me? It’s been a while….

I have been non-stop for three weeks and it’s been a brilliant holiday! I won’t get out the home-projector and bore you with all the holiday snaps, but I will give you a whistle stop tour of the Easter hols in the Miles household, and this is where my husband and I both being teachers really comes into its own. Three weeks of family time and this year we have really made the most of it (as opposed to other holidays where we grump around at home getting under each other’s feet).

The holidays started with two trips to London with the kids, one by ourselves and one with friends. We took a boat trip, had a backstage tour of the Houses of Parliament (friends in high places!), popped into the National Gallery, watched street-theatre in Covent Garden, survived Hamleys and walked a LOT. 

imageLast weekend my sister and I went to Edinburgh for the weekend. I hadn’t been since a day trip when I was 14 so it was all new and I totally fell in love with the place. The highlight was meeting my poetry pals for lunch which you can read about over in Supper and Syntax. But we walked and drank in the beautiful architecture and nooks and crannies (I feel that you should imagine the word ‘crannies’ being read in a Scottish accent). And everybody was SO friendly – chatting while waiting to cross the road, in cafes, in shops; just lovely, lovely people. I am desperate to go back again soon and having seen the gorgeous coastline as we travelled up past Lindisfarne I am keen to go on a bit of a tour…

After Edinburgh we did some family visits and there was much fun and football going on between cousins. I barely saw my cousins growing up (or now, to be fair) so I love that they all get on so well and seeing as they range from 4-18 it’s a surprising harmony.

And now it is the Easter weekend. Today we visited Sissinghurst Castle which is very near to me yet I have never visited. I went full of poetry and Vita Sackville-West (I really want to read her letters – what a woman!) and my kids’ heads were full of Easter Egg trails. Yes, it’s a National Trust property and that means Cadburys are in situ. Actually, their trail was all based around Alice in Wonderland and took us through forest paths full of dancing bluebells (my favourite flower) so I was very happy.  The garden and house/castle themselves are just stunning. So, so beautiful. I plan to revisit by myself when I get a chance and have a proper wander and get all Bloomsbury.

Tomorrow it is lunch with the family which leaves us Sunday and Monday to eat too much chocolate and remember all the things we were supposed ‘to-do’ this holiday but ignored in favour of many more pleasurable things. How very hedonistic we are! 

Are you still there or did I lose you in the second paragraph? If you are; Happy Easter!

Apr 022014

Back in 1981, I was 8 years old.

We had our spellings given to us in a tobacco tin, we counted bottle tops in Maths and we were made to stand in the ‘silly circle’ if we misbehaved at break time.


So smoking, alcohol and public humiliation all perfectly acceptable.

Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer and we all marvelled at her wedding dress and tried to copy her hair-do. Most of us, unsuccessfully.

I went to parties with a white stripe across my face in homage to Adam Ant. And in the playground it was a major faux-pas to steps on any tiny insects ‘in case it was one of Adam’s Ants’. I know, I know.


Life was opening up to me and I had the (in my opinion) great fortune to spend my ‘growing up years’ in the 80s. Shoulder pads, Wham! (Andrew or George?), Back to the Future, ski pants, fluorescent yellow and pink alternate socks, black patent brogues with lace for shoe laces, jelly bags, Torvill and Dean, Thriller and Grolsch tops in your shoes.

I'm sure I had this on my wall, ripped from Blue Jeans Magazine

I’m sure I had this on my wall,
ripped from Blue Jeans Magazine

Lots of memories, most of them good, a few of them wonderful. School days, exams, discos, first slow dance, first kiss. Great friends, two of whom remain my best friends today.

They say fashion goes in cycles; I think the 80s are back. And it grates…not just in a ‘My God, I wouldn’t be seen dead in that any more’ way and not in a ‘Man, that makes me feel old’ kind of way, but in a ‘Go away – these are my memories, my childhood, my era’ kind of way. Trespassers will be terminated. Hasta la vista, Baby.

Mar 312014

Well, I hope all you mothers out there had a nice day yesterday. I was greeted with a 6am wake-up and, what appeared to be, a pot of snot.

Pot of Snot

Home-made cards = the best.

Flowers = lovely

Clay handprint = special

Pot of Snot = questionable

It was from my 4 year-old via nursery and she didn’t know what it was either. It smelled of mint (apparently chosen because I like toothpaste – who knew?) and had the texture of molten earwax. I am assuming, after much perplexing and ‘help me out here’ stares to my husband, that it was supposed to be an almighty tub of lip balm. Even poor old Jocelyn Wildenstein would have trouble using that up before Christmas.

jocelyn wildenstein cat woman plastic surgery

Still, I had a lovely day; first barbecue of the year, dog walk and reduced argument rate from the kids.

Today, the tulips are brightening my mantelpiece, my kitchen has some new artwork and the bin smells of mint….

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Mar 252014

When it all gets a bit too much, I think of life as a tennis match. Points, games, sets and match.

I wake up before the alarm does. Love-15.

anyone for tennis?Fall back to sleep. 15 All.

Child appears wanting breakfast. 30-15.

Husband goes to make breakfast. 30 All.

Shower uninterrupted. 40-30.

Washing machine activated, shower runs cold. Deuce.

Sneak onto Twitter. Advantage Sarah.

Child screams. Deuce.

Hot cup of tea. Advantage Sarah.

Tea goes cold whilst making breakfast for the hordes. Deuce.

Last night’s homework not done. Advantage kids.

No packed lunch for school trip. Game kids.


If life were tennis, I’d have a heap of earth named after me. Sarah’s Summit. People would sit on it and cheer.

I mean jeer.

Well, they’d drink Pimms until they were sloshed and love me cos I’m British.


New Balls Please.

Mar 192014

In case you didn’t know, we have two dogs. First there is Delilah, a somewhat lazy, very rotund choccie lab with breath that smells of rotting fish which can floor you at 20 paces. She is the doggie equivalent of Mr Stink. One huff of the breath of doom and you will be surrounded by an almost visible pungency of malevolence. Sometimes, when I am tickling the kids, I hold them down and if they don’t surrender I call Delilah over to breathe on them. Don’t call social services, they love it really. Honestly, they do.


Then there is Fergus, a cross cocker/collie who looks like a bigger version of Kate and Will’s pedigree chum, Lupo. Except where (no doubt) Lupo has a gleaming coat and comes to call, Fergus has knots of hair that are entwined with debris from the forest floor and strands of weed from the reservoir. He had an entire branch stuck in his tail once which he had to walk all the way home like a badge of honour until I could get at it with the kitchen scissors.

Fergus....or is it Lupo?

Fergus also has a tendency to dig holes, pee like a girl and eat small toys – my son’s Playskool Marvel figures being his current favourite. I found Iron Man’s head in his poo the other day. Not smiling now, are you tough guy?

This weekend, though, Fergus gave us a bit of a scare.

I returned home from a school play rehearsal (on a SATURDAY MORNING I hasten to add) and the family were arguing playing together nicely as usual. I made a cup of tea and then noticed – no Fergus. ‘Odd,’ I thought to myself ‘he didn’t welcome me when I came in. He always welcomes me.’ (I am the alpha male of the family; he follows me everywhere).

I asked the family where he was and got a general reply of ‘Dunno’. I called for him. I checked the back garden, then the front, then outside the front gate. Nothing. He was gone.

What ensued was half an hour of me driving up and down the local country lanes yelling ‘FERGUS!’ out of the window with more and more desperation creeping into my voice. He had run off before, during a walk with my husband, and I found him on the doorstep, having made his way back home. But his time he was nowhere to be found. I felt sure if he was loose he would find his way back. That left me three options: He was dead under a car somewhere, he had been picked up by someone or he had been taken by someone. Dog theft is rife around here and even though he is a mutt, he looks like the royal dog of choice and is high on the hit list.

There were no missed calls on my phone and returning home we were on the verge of calling the police when we remembered it was our home number on his tag, not my mobile. I don’t know about you, but we never use our landline. Its sole purpose is for the internet and the only person who tries to call us on it is my mother-in-law. The phone wasn’t in its cradle and was out of charge so we had to wait to find out that there was, indeed, a message from someone who had found Fergus!

Turns out, they picked him up right outside our house and our neighbour was watching from his kitchen window. I say nothing. I am just glad that he was found and safe. We went to meet them in Tesco’s car park to make the exchange. This felt very dodgy and I’m sure one old woman was noting down our registration numbers as local dog pedlars. They asked me his name (they had re-christened him Sam) and I told them he was Fergus, of Irish descent and much-loved and missed. He was VERY subdued and traveled home at my feet with his head very firmly stuck to my lap and big doleful eyes looking at me.


We still *don’t know* how he got out. My husband swears he never left the premises. Oh, except when he took the recycling out but he was sure the gate was closed…

Either way, it could have happened to any of us and Fergus is a pesky little bugger who’d be out of the gate like a shot.

Delilah slept through the whole debacle.

She missed him really...


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Mar 112014

one weekMonths of torrid rain has made this winter into a soulless place. The only silver linings were the clouds; the skies were full of the most wonderful, billowing clouds, often framed with silver as the sun nestled just behind them. I saw rainbows in their midst and we turned their shape into fairy-tales with giants and butterflies, witches and galloping horses. Evening brought bright skies full of shepherds’ delight with clouds stretching back as far as the eye could see. Just glorious.

Linking up to Older Mum and #oneweek