I’ve been trying to be really busy trying not to think too much and I got to the point I am actually all caught up with the laundry (and the ironing!)… and don’t think that’s ever happened before so yesterday I was almost bored and felt quite bereft at the sight of silent washing machine. That’s not a good sign.

Ta dahhhh, enter THE POD…

I’ve used these babies before and as long as you don’t attempt to dye too much fabric in one go, the colour you get is really intense.

So.. I changed the life of a Cos t-shirt of one of the boys:

the stitching is obviously synthetic and didn’t change colour, but it’s ok, it’s more of a feature now but it still looks good

Then I dyed THE Zara dress, white, black dots… the one that everybody had last year… do you remember? I just couldn’t bring myself to wear it after a while, it was kind of like a joke… so maybe now I can wear it again. It’s a very flattering shape!

what do we think? different enough? nahhh chuck it?

AND finally, and the biggest success, I dyed a gorgeous charity shop find… a vintage crochet thingy that looked really dated and now doesn’t anymore!

The colour you get will vary depending on the material and its thickness, but I’m really pleased with the evenness (is that a real word?) of the results. It’s a simple process too, you wash the items, leave them in the machine wet and add the pod on top (try to remember to remove the lid… just saying…), wash at 40C as normal, then add detergent and wash the items/fabric again, and then run another cycle at 60C to clean the machine properly … It’s not the most environmentally friendly thing in the world, but if you can revive old items and not buy news ones… it pays for itself like that I think.

I have two more pods… what else… what else…

200ml single cream

250gr caster sugar

zest of one lemon

3 eggs

150gr plain flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

Recipe from the lovely Constanca Cabral. It’s super easy to make and really delicious.

I know I’m not the only one that has taken up baking… it fills the time right? it keeps the mind occupied and away from the news.

How are you all coping? Are you worried? scared? sanguine about the current situation? To quote one of my favourite poets, Robert Frost…

in three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on

No 1 son is at home, watching his plans of round the world trips scampered (bar a miracle) and has taken it really well… much better than me frankly, three trips cancelled and counting… at least we got to go skiing for a few days, right? Sons No 2 and 3, are wondering whey they’re the only children in the world who are still going to school, whilst all their hockey matches have been cancelled. I’d like to know that too.

Someone keeps spelling rude words with the magnetic letters on the fridge… to be honest it could the husband… a puerile relief from all the work worries, it’s not easy to make a living at the moment.

My parents are getting used at their forced ’12 weeks house bounds status’ and are moved by the message of kindness received from many neighbours. Mum has bought an exercise bikes and plans to put in in the green house… a sort of home made peloton… dad is busy in his shed restoring our outdoor table and chairs.

We watched ROMA the other night. A bit late to the party as usual, but what a gorgeous movie. Not at all what I expected, but was pleasantly surprised and totally loved it. Have you seen it?

I finally found some dishwasher tablets that are not covered in plastic (even if it’s biodegradable it still ends up in the environment this time at microlevel). They’ve been very good so far but I’ve just opened the dishwasher and everything was very opaque and covered in a white/salty residue… mmmmhh

‘keep out of reach of children’ mine have declared it a reason not to use the dishwasher… whatevs..

Maybe a dud one? or maybe it’s because it had ran out of salt … (yes the rinse aid is ok.

I’m getting slightly obsessed with the news, Trump has banned flights from 26 Europear countries, Denmark and Ireland will shut their schools for a while. Italy is completely under lock down. What a strange feeling.

I walk around the streets and everything looks normal but it’s not. If I were a writer days like these ones would be the perfect intro for the next dystopian novel… “When the end came it was invisible. Silent. Nobody saw it coming, nobody paid attention, a few survived. Where they the lucky ones? or the unlucky?” What if this will seriously force a dramatic change in the way we live, what if the the freedom of movement we’ve enjoyed since the beginning of time it’s over. What if we need to learn, invent, discover a new way of being with each other because this thing will not go away?

I went to the supermarket to buy washing up liquid. One bottle. A refill. I also bought rice and lentils because they keep. I went to the dentist but I was nervous. I have a hair appointment this afternoon and I’m nervous about that too. I’m thinking of not sending No 3 to his hockey tournament, of stopping No 1 from visiting his friend down south this weekend. I’m thinking our family vacation to Palm Springs will be cancelled. And my college trip. And what about all the other events in the calendar? I hide my mind in books. I cooked my favourite comfort lunch of lentils and rice. I’m eyeing the last brownie in the tin.

How do you feel about it all?

The sun is shining.

My new shoes are extremely comfortable.

I’m drinking coffee.

I realise I haven’t been here for a while, but the world is going mad and I’m struggling to put coherent thoughts down.

The V-word… a tiny virus that is totally messing with our lives and forcing us to change how we operate from day to day. Where we live is not too bad (yet)… I think there has been one confirmed case last weekend in my town, which probably means there will be a lot more, but we’ve not been put into isolation nor quarantine or anything. Schools are open, people go to work… but there is an almost palpable unease in the air… the same air that could float an invisible something to make us ill.

The supermarket shelves are empty of pasta and toilette paper and soap… a) they virus doesn’t cause increased bathroom visits, so why? b) ok, pasta is great… but shouldn’t people by salt and sauce and cheese too? weird. c) didn’t people wash their hands before this outbreak? do they know that a soap bar lasts a looooong time? It beggars belief.

Also, how about less selfishness? Instead of buying soap why don’t people stay at home? I’ve told my parents to stay in. They do sneak out, I know…. you try telling a retired army general what to do! Also, I’m so relieved they’re not in Italy anymore.

Hope things are ok where you are.

I’m still keeping up with my running… I’m so very very slow and if it rains I don’t go out… but I’m sticking to it… and I’ve started to listen to podcasts instead of music, which is why I’m so slow, the music gives you a rhythm to stick to… (I need recommendations!) and here are two I’ve enjoyed:

  • BBC Sounds: Emma Barnnett interviews Dame Hilary Mantel
  • Open Book: 17th March, Max Porter, folk resurgence in literature and Angie Thomas on hiphop.

Talking of recommendations, if you’re stuck or bored, or both, with cooking dinner every damn evening… try the instagram account of Annasfamilykitchen. I’ve cooked so many things following her recipes recently and they never failed me. And I have fussy teenagers. Seriously, I’ve mentioned her before, but she’s been my saviour these past few weeks. Last night I did this chinese chicken/broccoli thing… which was delicious, even the broccoli got eaten… and they’re green!

Wendell Berry,

Travelling at Home

Even in a country you know by heart
it's hard to go the same way twice.
The life of the going changes.
The chances change and make a new way.
Any tree or stone or bird
can be the bud of a new direction. The
natural correction is to make intent
of accident. To get back before dark
 is the art of going.

I’m not going vegan (one of my children asked me that when I bought an electric car… eye-roll), but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like vegan food.

I picked up the recipe last month and found it again this afternoon while tidying up the kitchen island which, as usual, ends up collecting all sorts of random paper and objects till Mr M has a fit and it gets tidied (he’s a minimalist guy married to a hoarder… I’ll leave you with that image). Aaaanyway, I glanced at the list of ingredients and lo and behold I had every single one of them, including – surprisingly – the chia seeds. Go me. (I also have A LOT of cupcake paper thingies… from when the boys were small and I used to make them all the time… ALL THE BLOODY TIME)

I took finding this recipe as a sign from above to stop reading books about refugees for my next assignment and do some mothering thangs…

Easy recipe and quick too. Just don’t tell my boys about the chia seeds or they’ll eye them suspiciously and won’t eat them…

They are super light and fluffy and delicious. I think next time I’ll add some chocolate chips for added crunch. I didn’t bother with the frosting because usually if they don’t get eaten straight away it goes hard and they get waisted.

No 2 has just wolfed two down as soon as he walked in. I called it a success.

It’s been raining all day. Again.

Last night I went to sleep in the spare room, I have a horrible cold and didn’t want to keep Mr M awake but I couldn’t settle. I turned the light out and then on again… walked to the bathroom… tried again to go to sleep but I just couldn’t, got some water but still sleep eluded me. I felt uneasy and anxious and couldn’t work out why.

Then this morning I found out.

A broken heart. The first lesson in how much love can hurt.

I guess some sort mothering instinct was at play there… so indulge me a little Babs…


I always approach with a little caution a book that has been hyped a lot by the media, in part because ‘hello? can anything really be that good?’ but also because I like to make my own mind about things and hate to be follow the herd, especially when it comes to books


This book it’s definitively like marmite: you either like it or you don’t, or in my case you’re kind of ‘meh’ about it. I couldn’t never have a whole slice of bread with marmite… but a bite? I can do that.

We follow the ‘love story’, can we call it that? maybe it’s better say the ‘relationship’ between Connell and Marianne, from when they attend the same school to their life at Trinity College Dublin and beyond. Ups and downs, break ups, friendships…and don’t expect a romantic novel… it’s NOT a romance. There’s a lot of sex, but not the graphic kind, there are a lot of repressed emotions, mistakes, and miscommunications ( a lot of those )… but still… something is lacking for me.

The truth is I just didn’t like the characters… so many times I wanted to scream at them ‘enough navel gazing… get on with life’, which was not very sympathetic of me, I realise that, but c’mon!

It’s a well written book, it really is, and it has some beautiful and some excruciatingly accurate observation… but it just wasn’t for me. Perhaps I’m too old – the writer is 27yrs old… so her experience of being 20 something is/has been different from mine… Or perhaps it’s just a matter of taste, I don’t want to diss it… it just… left me cold and a little annoyed.

Serves me right for following the crowds, eh?

The Rainy Day

(by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the moldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall.
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the moldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.