Not suitable for people with irony deficiency and
cannot guarantee nut-free

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Seven Dials; Mrs Exeter; The Duke of Hazards

Dahlings, life has speeded up, we are yet again hurtling towards another school holiday. This means I am busy cramming in all the jaunts which the presence of boys would not permit.

Interior of the Miller Harris shop at Seven Dials
I took a little trip up to London and paid a visit to the Miller Harris perfume shop near Covent Garden. It's actually in a part of town called Seven Dials, which makes me think of the Agatha Christie novel of that name; it sounds very 1930s...

The Seven Dials Mystery First Edition Cover 1929.jpg
Cover of first UK edition, picture taken from Wikipedia

Miller Harris is sold in various department stores including Liberty's; but dare I say, I don't find the perfume section of Liberty's very friendly, the assistants seem a bit tecky to me (unlike the lovely girls on the cosmetics counters there); I swear a perfume maven inhaled sharply the other day when I dared to place my mitts on  a candle...and my mitts were clean, honest, I wasn't clutching a Crispy Creme at the time.

Gratuitous pic of spring fashions in Liberty's, just because..
Cire Trudon candles at Liberty - don't touch!
The Miller Harris shop by contrast was heaven, the assistant very friendly and very knowledgeable about the products.  I had the best time spraying and sniffing and babbling away to the lovely girl there - hi Natalia, I have not forgotten how kind and helpful you were!

The wallpaper is Miller Harris designed and can also be purchased
I could not choose there and then - really I felt spoilt for choice, I think the Miller Harris fragrances are ones which you cannot go wrong with, no matter what you choose, but I loved them all and just couldn't decide!  I came away with lots of samples, which I am really enjoying - Terre de Bois; La Pluie; Tangerine Vert; La Fumee.  Currently I am in love with Coeur de Fleur  - a divinely soft, clean smell, very spring like, I keep nuzzling my arm, I find myself so delicious! ( I am trying not to do this too much when other people are around as it must look ever so slightly pervy).  I also like the fact that Miller Harris is still an independent perfumer, unlike the Jo Malones and the L'Artisan Parfumeurs who are now owned by big cosmetic companies..) and the founder Lyn Harris is still very much hands on in the creation of the perfumes. Plus she trained as a perfumer in Grasse, France, and I once spent a summer there working as an au pair so you see Mr B it is really important I have a Miller Harris perfume to remind me of my distant youth (think he was called Pierre or maybe it was Bertrand???).....

Miller Harris perfume samples - divine!
Another big treat recently was to meet up with Mrs Exeter, whom many of you will know from her blog.  Mrs E also lives in Buckinghamshire, not far from me, so we met up for coffee in a very pretty market town. We talked and talked and had a lovely time and then Mrs E had to go riding, as you do - how cool!  In a  clever decluttering move, Mrs E gave me a book on decluttering.  Masterful!

Mrs E also gave me this nail polish.

It is called "Old Blighty".

How fitting!  Thank you so much Mrs E.

We have plans to meet again for a trip to my spiritual home, Bicester Village.

The boys have of course been busy with various boy type activities.  They certainly keep them busy at Daphnes4Boyz:  Maths tests, French tests, cake competitions, Sports Relief charity run, football matches,  Inter-House General Knowledge Quiz (won by Verruca but with Impetigo coming a close second), egg decorating competition, £5 challenge (otherwise known as extorting money out of your peers in return for bags of popcorn)...and then it's time for morning registration...

Mr B and I were very amused by Boy 2's recent trip to somewhere called Hazard Valley, some sort of interactive educational centre designed to teach children how to cope with various dangers.

Look at this picture.  Can you all see what the issues are ? *answers below

Mr B found the numerous leaflets from the Coastguards which Boy 2 came home clutching very funny, considering we are the furthest you can possibly get from the sea anywhere in the UK!  Possible case of print over-run in the Coastguard department? or do they know what bath time is like at Blighty HQ?

When I asked Boy 2 what had happened on the trip, his main feedback was that Justin A. Bucket had been sick on the coach on the way there and Max Chunder had thrown up on the coach on the way back, all over a teacher. 

Conclusion: the main hazard facing a 9 year old is being blurped on during a school trip, so important to
 a) identify; and
b) avoid sitting anywhere near;
 the pukey kids at all times....

These are vital life skills, which will serve Boy 2 very well in later life. 

Never underestimate the importance of school trips.

* the hazards are of course as follows:
  • that girl is wearing dangerously out of fashion 80s style gear, including Reebok type trainers and a scrunchie;
  • the baby's nappy looks worryingly full, real risk of seepage situation and hazardous fumes;
  • baby needs to remove dummy before taking a drag on the ciggy**
  • is that red wine properly aerated - should it not be decanted?

** this blog of course does not advocate smoking for the under two's, though an occasional pipe can help them unwind

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Creating Problems

Dahlings, this is just a little experiment to see if I can compose posts on the old iPad as I continue to have technical issues with the computer - small boys attached to the mouse permanently, removal even by Taser proving unsuccessful (some nonsense about their Yuman Rights..)

Just the other day Boy 2 raised an interesting yet tricky question following a Religious Education lesson at Daphnes4Boyz: if God created only Adam and Eve, and they had children (Cain and Abel or is that just a novel by Jeffrey Archer?), then who did they er have sex procreate with?? Of course being an open and liberal type of parent I simply shrieked "TIME FOR BED!" before the discussion took a turn I did not fancy..."But Mummy, it's only 5pm!" But the question does trouble me. However, I think I have found a very clear and child friendly explanation.


On second thoughts, perhaps not.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012


Hello dahlings! Are you well?

Here at Blighty HQ we've all been busy with our various cultural activities..

The nice people at Club Penguin sent Boy 2 a copy of their brand new Club Penguin magazine.  I think they hoped he might do a review (they were perhaps labouring under the misconception that he was an influential literary figure, like Oscar Wilde but more butch and less likely to come out with witty little quips...)  Sadly Boy 2 sees reading as an unnecessary activity; it is rumoured that he once read the on-screen instructions for a  shoot 'em up computer game but he has threatened to punch anyone who dares repeat this.

So getting any sort of reaction out of Boy 2 was a challenge. 

"Did you like that magazine?"
"What did you like about it?" 
" Stuff." 
"What stuff?" 

Eventually Boy 2 admitted that it was a really cool mag as not only did it have stuff in it but it came with a week's free membership of Club Penguin, the on-line penguin world he so loves. AND there was a code for a limited edition T-shirt for his on-line penguin persona to wear, and he was the first penguin to wear one and all the other penguins though he was cool and wanted to be his friend.  So there you have: Club Penguin magazine - makes you fashion forward and the envy of other penguins.

I have read this book.

To summarise, this chap is a vegan for 25 ish years and eats lots (5-6 times a day) of soy based meat substitutes and suffers terrible IBS and piles etc.  Eventually he gets fed up, ditches the soya, buys some meat and eats it - on the first day he has ox liver for lunch and then steak for supper.  His IBS  disappears and he feels marvellous.  It makes a good story. He has some interesting stuff to say about the food industry and how the government's "healthy eating" campaigns have coincided with an increase in obesity.  But really, I do think he might have twigged a bit earlier on, that the soya was the problem and that excessive consumption of one foodstuff is a bad idea - and now it looks as if he's heading the same way with the meat!  I would be really interested in what Janet of The Gardener's Cottage thinks about this book, as Janet is a committed vegan who appears the picture of health and  is also a trained chef and does not just reach for the Linda McCartney readymade soya sausages.

The other night Mr B and I watched this.

It was nice to see Mr Banderas speaking Spanish and not voicing a large ginger cat wearing thigh high boots.  This film was nicely creepy, hokey and as weird as you would expect from old Almodovar. If you have seen this, you will understand why Mr Blighty found it a bit unsettling.

Remember my minimalist phase?  Well some members of Blighty Inc have gone seriously off message.  This here mess is a game Boys 1 and 2 call "Teddy Resort Party"

It may just look like a random scattering of toys but in fact it's a very exclusive, all-inclusive, luxury beach resort for stuffed animals run by Boys 1 and 2.  A bit like Hugh Hefner's Playboy Mansion except the bunnies are stuffed   real don't have large nope, can't make this work!

This is the casino - note the chips.

The casino is run by tiger - here he is at his control desk, watching out for cheats and card counters...

I have been listening to this chap - Gotye - no idea how it's pronounced - Goaty??  I think he is Australian  - do you ladies know him already?


I was amused by this video for one of Gotye's songs.  I suggested to Mr Blighty that he circulate it round the office to build morale - I found the scenes at the typewriter very evocative of the parliamentary draughtsman's role.....


Mr B did not think his boss would appreciate this - some people are just not as cultured as others..

Friday, 9 March 2012

Sophie's Choice and McBride's A Gory Ride

Dahlings, first, housekeeping: I seem to be in an emotionally abusive relationship with Blogger, it raises my hopes by offering me the chance to respond to your comments individually and sometimes even lets me; at other times it cruelly withholds and doesn't let me.  Very upsetting.  I just wanted to let you know, I really appreciate all your comments and am very flattered that you take the time and trouble.

Now, books. I wanted to tell you about an author whose books I have been greedily gollopping* down: Sophie Hannah. Ms Hannah writes psychological thrillers which I find compelling. They are based in and around a fictional town Spilling near Cambridge (UK) and each feature Spilling CID, in particular the rather odd detective Simon Waterhouse, his grumpy boss Proust, and a feisty woman detective Charlie Zailer.  Have you read these?  If not and if you like twisty, slightly nasty thrillers with some police procedural, then you are in for a treat.  They are the kind of books I am sad to finish, it is so enjoyable having one on the go.

Mr Blighty has also taken to the works of Sophie H and being Mr B, has read them all in the right order, whereas I have read them haphazardly depending on what I find in the local library.  Normally I would not mind, but as Mr B has gone all sequential, I feel slightly hard done by.. What about you guys?  Do you read series of books in the correct order? Is this exclusively a male trait? Or a Mr B trait?

Once I had finished the works of Sophie Hannah,  I felt quite bereft so picked up Stuart MacBride's "Birthdays for the Dead". I have read his detective series set in Aberdeen and like the grittiness and sense of humour. "Birthdays" is not for the over-sensitive, the crimes described are horrid but if you can keep that at arm's length, the plot is great and the pace cracking, and there is the same black humour. The main character reminded me of the lead in Tony Black's novels which I talked about here: both characters do a lot of punching other people, but all in a good cause...

When I mentioned to the lady librarians recently my love for the gruesome works of Ms Hannah, Mr MacBride, SJ Bolton and others, they countered that they liked nice, happy books; they then conceded that some really nice people did like horrible books;  they eyed me speculatively as if assessing whether I fell into that category, but apparently the jury is still out on that one**...

I am quite puzzled to be honest about my ability to enjoy really quite unpleasant books, as I am a total wuss when it comes to scary films (did not sleep a wink after seeing Psycho and refused to shower for weeks; would never trust anyone called Freddie Kruger ...). I also can't bear to read horrid news reports. Maybe I can cope with the books as they are not as vivid and immediate as films, also, because I know they are fiction and the authors leaven the fare with humour and by keeping certain characters (murder victims) as cyphers rather than fleshing out their characters ...

Well enough of my homemade literary analysis.  Have just heard a brand new Sophie Hannah is waiting for me at the library...(hotfoots it to library)

What books are you chaps enjoying at the moment? Please tell, love getting book tips!

*probs not a real word but I live dangerously
**note to self: pay fines on time, grovel more and contribute generously to the librarians' Christmas party fund

Monday, 5 March 2012

Mrs B Abandons Her Post - Minimalismismism

Isn't it just amazing what you can find knocking around on Blogger?  Here is a post I wrote way back before Christmas and then completely forgot to publish.  At the time I was in the full throes of decluttering, partly motivated by guests coming for Christmas and an urgent need that they never see under what conditions we really operate at Blighty HQ.

Dahlings, in an exciting new life style development, I have been exploring a rich seam of minimalist blogs and applying the knowledge gleaned to Blight HQ.

(Or shouldn't they really be called mini blogs if they are truly serious?  Or even m blogs? or mogs? (note to self : there you go, being silly again, spoiling what was going to be a really grown up, perceptive post full of carefully thought through insights and....ha, ha, (falls off chair* laughing as per )...

*virtual chair obviously, as have got rid of actual physical chair, Step 58 of Chuck Out Clutter Kwik, my own decluttering manual, available on-line for the modest price of £3000..

I found blogs like Miss Minimalist The Minimalists and  The Everyday Minimalist. Also Leo Babauta and his mnmlist; which links back to Lisa of  Privilege.  And  Project 333 which the lovely Janet of Gardener's Cottage has been doing  (it all comes full circle in blogworld!)

All very intriguing and inspiring. And so seductive - the idea of Less Stuff.

And there seem to be a lot of different variations - extreme minimalists - they only own 25 things or they live in hotels and all their stuff fits into one suitcase, or they have a house with just a mattress on the floor and not even a table, or a tiny house under 900 square foot; or they have got rid of their car and cycle everywhere;  or more moderate practitioners where you are allowed only 30 of each thing - one lady recommended only having 30 coats !! Or minimalism linked to Christianity, or frugalism, or environmentalism - using less to leave a smaller footrprint on the world... just fascinating, a total reaction to excessive consumption - it's no surprise that lot of these bloggers are American.

The result of this research has been:
  • no housework has been done as I have been too busy reading on how it's easier to keep your house clean if it is uncluttered
  • a lot of Decluttering Lite (trade mark Blighty Inc.)*
  • Mr B too frightened to leave for work in case I declutter him
  • no one being able to find a bl**dy thing
  • Mr B late for work as I moved his clock radio, accidentally turning down the volume so he did not hear the alarm
*Decluttering Lite TM is a unique form of decluttering which I have devised myself (coughs modestly).  Dahlings, I don't mean to be patronising but you may find this next bit hard to follow, not having sat on your arse on the sofa for hours drinking cups of tea and gawping at the internet with mouth hanging open undergone an intensive immersion course in the precepts and key principles of minimalism and achieved a high level of understanding and expertise...
Anyway here it is, do try to keep up..

Decluttering Lite TM = you take some stuff and shove it in the garage.  Et voila!

But there is even more to it than that - you must then remember ALWAYS to put the light on when entering said garage otherwise  you will fall over the 3 baskets, 2 whiteboards, vegetable rack, 28 footballs, 300 plastic bags, 12 pairs of wellies and wobbly footstool you got from a charity shop which you thought was shabby chic but in fact is just shabby...
ALSO must warn your Significant Other of the same (unless you want your offspring to pick up some interesting new non-minimalist vocabulary about f***ing %$%£%  deathtraps etc).

Anyway, must go as there are 2 small lumps cluttering up the sofa... they need to be Litely Decluttered TM but possibly not to the garage...although.......

So that was my abandoned post.  What do you all think about minimalism? 

My thoughts now:
  • well, it was very invigorating to declutter like a woman possessed but rather unsettling for my nearest and dearest, Mr B was particularly upset when he got into bed one night and discovered I had removed the headboard but now we gain tremendous enjoyment from sitting in bed of an evening and taking it in turns to shout, "Who was the idiot who took the headboard off this bed?!" (what can I say, the winter nights are long and we live in the country);
  • I feel much better now I only have 2 colanders  - why did I have more than that?
  • I like not having a plastic washing up bowl - Mr B found its absence very disconcerting until I mentioned the possibility of Germs
  • Things are slowly creeping back of course - lipsticks, toys, clothes, small boys
  • I love the idea of Distributed Ownership which I picked up from my blog trawl - now when I go to the library I can revel in the fact that I am Exercising Distributed Ownership, not just borrowing books

“A popular habit of the extreme mmnlst is to negate vowels from words. Not only is this rdcls but it gts fckng cnfsng.” – Anonymous

The above quote comes from very amusing post on minimalism - do go and have a read!

On a more serious note, I did find, for me, that minimalism could slip over into Giving Up and Not Making an Effort - for example, I won't wear my watch as I have the time on my mobile phone; I won't wear jewellery as what does it do? I won't put together a different outfit I'll just keep on wearing the same jeans.  I think to embrace the ascetic side of minimalism you need to be a very buoyant, committed person.  Ultimately I like my inner landscape to have a scattering of fripperies and frivolities, they keep me happy and prevent me howling with existential angst in the middle of the supermarket (or at least snatching scones from the nearest old age pensioner in the overcrowded bread aisle); I guess I am deeply superficial.

But I tell you what worried me most about minimalism - one blog suggested that one should even be minimalist in one's conversations - to weigh each word and only have meaningful communications with other people. That, my dahlings, you will not be surprised to hear, frightened the life out of me!