Friday, 15 November 2013

Hair today, gone tomorrow

Separated at birth - you work it out
Today is my 41st birthday. I am sitting typing this with a lonely gin and tonic and a torn hamstring from doing the splits on Saturday night. No-one can ever accuse me of not enjoying a party so we had a small one and dressed like it was 1972. Strictly speaking I should have gone topless and worn a nappy but I haven't done that since the top of my toga fell down in the student union in 1991. Instead I bought a beautifully vile vintage halterneck dress and some Farah Fawcett platform boots whilst The Boy polyestered himself up in a pornstar wig and chest-revealing shirt. It was like being married to William H Macy in Boogie Nights except William H Macy has more money and was less likely to go up in flames standing next to the fire. We're nothing if not authentic - prawn cocktail, chicken in a basket (quail and spatchcock poussin actually - very progressive), black forest gateau, all washed down with Mateus Rose, Black Tower and Martini and Lemonade. Actually I stuck to a double magnum of Monterra Merlot which went down very well. So well I thought I should do the splits even after proving I was the most agile in the room by winning the cereal box game. 
Magic Gold Hair RemoverUnfortunately The Boy is in danger of looking like he's walked off the set of Debbie Does Dallas anyway. It's "Movember" and, whilst most of us spend a large chunk of our time removing every trace of hair, some valiant men out there are growing their tashes into very suspect shapes to raise money for and awareness of mens' cancers. Not all men though. It seems the British Armed Forces spend a considerable chunk of their time depilating. I know this because a friend in the air force has discovered "Magic Powder". It truly is magic - I've witnessed it. It was originally developed in the 70s to help black men avoid razor bumps when shaving their facial hair but now it seems it's become more popular in the forces than blue eyeshadow is in Moldova and, believe me, that's popular. I'm not sure whether it's because they're bored when they're not out patrolling or whether it's because it's too hot to have ANY hair, but when they're not playing scrabble or watching Come Dine With Me, they're waiting in the shower for the follicle-tingling 3 minutes that it takes to dissolve the fuzz on their.....well, you guess. My local beauty therapist told me you can tell a lot about someone and their relationship by how much hair they want removed but I'm not sure what she'd make of that. Being a curious bunch we tested it out with a pot "T" had bought back from Afghanistan when we were all round at their house for dinner. We picked the hairiest man in the group, mixed up the powder, spread it on his shoulder and watched it disintegrate. His hair not his shoulder. Though this stuff does come with warnings - apparently it can melt your skin off. They actually do a version with extra Aloe Vera and vitamin E which is the one I think I will order off Ebay. Armed Forces - your secret is out!

Having said that, we were wondering whether women should also take part in Movember and create interesting shapes in their topiary. Too late for this year -can't achieve much growth in the next two weeks but anyone want to join me for "Ho"-vember next year? 

I'm torn between a Dirk Diggler and a Poirrot..

Friday, 20 September 2013

Walk this way....

Attention - sore delusional people ahead

I've been extremely busy lately doing all the things someone in the midst of a severe midlife crisis should be doing - trawling the internet for good boob job surgeons, going to see inappropriate rappers in Paris, walking over the roof of a major London icon (this was an accompanied and supervised excursion, not me just getting adventurous and ebullient after a few beers in the smoke). Oh, and tramping over the hills in training for a long sponsored walk.

After my lovely sympathetic and handsome but chinless doctor suggested I didn't train again for a half marathon whilst seeing a cardiologist, I decided to do a big walk instead. A bit like Forrest Gump but slower and without his athletic prowess. I walk a lot. I've walked from London to Brighton, walked a marathon and regularly walk from the Waitrose car park to the chocolate aisle. This had somehow lulled me into a false sense of security. Signing up for the Thames Path Challenge 50km walk I wondered just how hard a long walk can be? I actually know the answer to that and it's not that tough. Or it wasn't until this one. I had originally signed up for the 100km but had changed my mind about that one when I wondered what walking along a deserted riverpath in the middle of the night would be like. So I downgraded and changed to the 50km so I could do it with my sister who is busy training for a climb up Kilimanjaro.

 It got off to a good start. She had done a power plate class two days before and so couldn't move her legs. I had run up four escalators at Waterloo, still missed the train and couldn't move my buttocks. I also already had a blister from wearing inappropriate heels when gallivanting around London the week before. Still, for the first 44km, it was a breeze. All day with my sister to myself, we caught up on the important things in life - when our next alcohol free day might be, which of my children will turn out to be the least annoying, which is the best gin, how she can get 30 volley balls onto a plane to Peru next month. And then the conversation changed.

Me "So, what are your current pain points?"

Stick "front of right thigh, balls of both feet, all my toes, fat fingers - what are yours?"

Me "Both buttocks, backs of both thighs, hips, front of both thighs, right calf and balls of both feet"

Stick "Right. How many kilometers are we on? 46?

Me "No that last one was 43"

Both "What the f***??"

I started to hallucinate. This might have been triggered by the heady fumes of Deep Heat which wafted alongside us for the whole 50km - I could tell when Stick had been spraying it on her legs in the portaloos because the 10 toilets on either side of her would rock with coughing. I began to see Mars Bars hanging from the trees, the bollards by the side of the path were actually champagne bottles. I could smell dope. Actually, I could smell dope. A courting couple had decided to park up at the end of the riverside track and have a quiet Saturday afternoon snog and splif  - their peace and fuzziness shattered by 3000 walkers marching past. Stick began to talk about the Orkney Islands in a strange cockney accent. It all got very weird.

I was going to put a glamorous spin on this and claim that I loved every minute and that it was a walk in the park because I'm superfit. But that's pointless because you wouldn't be able to learn from my misfortunes and I would at least like to think that I could impart some post-event wisdom. By 47km I had almost lost the will to carry on. I wondered how on earth I had even considered doing the 100km. Stick had perked up considerably because she thought I was about to die and felt she needed to look after me. She said she started to get really worried when I went quiet  - and the words I did manage to get out were incoherent.I got colder and colder and my coordination became more and more random. Eventually we reached the finish line. Stick, the girl with the immovable legs, skipped across it and grabbed the proffered glass of Cava with both hands. I crawled over and dragged myself to the medics tent where I muttered something incomprehensible which could have been loosely translated as "two double gin and tonics and a packet of salt and vinegar crisps please". And so I spent a happy hour in the medics tent, wrapped up in foil blankets, drinking hot tea and mumbling incoherently while the doctors waited for my core temperature to rise. Luckily for my ego there was someone else in there in an equally bad state and he was younger and fitter looking than me.

And so there ended my brush with mild hypothermia and delirium. It's not often a doctor suggests you go home and enjoy a few glasses of wine so I seized the opportunity with both swollen hands and dragged my sorry ass to the car. The next day I felt surprisingly fine. Mild aches, no blisters and the one that I had started with had miraculously disappeared. I also discovered that endurance walking is a bit like giving birth to your first child - 24 hours later the pain and trauma is forgotten and you want to do it again but take it to the next level  - Common sense kicks in after giving birth to twins and you realise that enough is enough, you'd rather dig a tunnel to Australia with your tongue than do that again.  But now I want to do the great Wall of China. All of it.

The official results from the challenge came through last night. We took 10 hours and 4 minutes (including 75 minutes for stops) and came in 320th out of around 1000 walkers which I think isn't bad. 25% of people dropped out. Like all experiences you must look at the learnings that emerge:

1.   Don't let your good pre-challenge intentions cave in at the last minute and drink two bottles of wine with your lasagna the night before. If anything, drink beer - it has more carbs.

2.  Do eat en route. If the gingercake at afternoon tea stop is too dry and not up to your exacting standards, eat it anyway.

3. Let your sister carry your bag when she offers

4.  Listen to your sister when she tells you to put your coat on

5.  Make sure that your husband's aunt and uncle are going to be at their house which is on the route, and that they're not 120 miles away near your house. The large brandy and piece of cake that we knocked on the door for at 39km could have made all the difference.

6.  Stop doing these events. Take up knitting instead.

And so, having already been to bootcamp this week, I can feel another long walk coming on this weekend.
As that famous perambulator Charles Dickens said “If I could not walk far and fast, I think I should just explode and perish.”

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

"crisis" - noun from the Greek κρίσις - krisis - any event that is, or is expected to lead to, an unstable and dangerous situation

Forgive me readers for I have sinned - it's been 6 weeks since my last post. 

The reason mostly being that I have been exceptionally busy having a midlife crisis. A recent article in the Daily Record (whatever that is) asked...."Do you hanker for the simple life but fret about job security, while harbouring a secret desire to learn a new musical instrument and go to the Glastonbury Festival? If the answer is yes and you are a 43-year-old man or a woman of 44, you are having a mid-life crisis". Great, not only am I having one but I'm underage.  It had to happen sooner or later - afterall, I could already be beyond the halfway mark of my allotted time on earth. Luckily I had a windfall courtesy of my lovely bank. I know - how often does that happen? But it enabled me to have a real midlife crisis - one which I could actually act out with proper money and not just drool over in front of The Antiques Roadshow with a cup of rose tea and a copy of Plastic Surgery Monthly.

midlife crisis tatoo1 Mid Life Crisis   Whats a Woman to Do?
I'd do this but it would ruin my new tan
The Boy "suggested" that I pay off some of the mortgage with the rest but then, after I'd had to buy a new pair of secretary-style specs because mine shattered when I accidentally threw them on the floor  and then a new bag to put them in, I thought "how about a boob job instead"? Someone asked what made me think I needed one? That's easy. The Twins. Boob jobs (and tummy tucks) should be standard procedure on the NHS for any woman who has given birth to more than one child at a time. No woman should have to endure having to buy a new pair of canteloupe melons to stuff down her bra every other day. I've probably spent the equivalent of a boob job on melons in the 3 1/4 years since I had the twins anyway. It's a false economy.
Spot the Difference -  The Tilt Table -
also looks suspiciously like
the electric chair  - 

Waterboarding - lego style
Anyway, the other thing not occupying my time has been running. As a direct result of the swimming pool incident in New Zealand, I am under doctors instructions not to train stupidly for the half marathon I did last year and was signed up to repeat this year so I have registered for a 50km walk instead. I had signed up for the 100k walk  but I was so busy having my midlife crisis that I forgot to train and had to downgrade. Today I went to see the cardiologist that the doctor referred me to - it seems next on my list of medical procedures is a heart scan, a 7 day trace and a "tilt table test". I was intrigued by this last one so I Googled it when I got home which is the cardinal sin as far as the quest for medical knowledge self-improvement is concerned. Basically you get strapped to a horizontal table, they tilt you to almost standing measuring your heart rate all the time and waiting to see if your blood pressure plummets and if it doesn't they repeat. They do this until either you faint or you've been tortured for an hour but what's reassuring according to Wikipedia is that "In extreme cases, tilt table testing could provoke seizures or even cause the heart to stop" Great. The helpful "information" video on You Tube makes it look like water-boarding and , as your arms are strapped down,  you can't even read your Kindle or research plastic surgery options on your iPad. But look on the bright side, it could be quite good fun and is probably cheaper than going to Chessington World of Adventures.

When I picked up the children today,  little girl twin asked "have you been to hospital today mummy?". Yes, I've been to see the heart doctor (in the absence of a travelling husband I have to have someone to share my trials with, even if they are 3 years old). The Monkey (6) gave me a huge hug and sang "Cause when you hold me like this you know my heart skips, skips a beat". It sounded familiar but, again, as another sign of midlife crisis and because I am so wrapped up reminiscing about Depeche Mode and Fine Young Cannibals, I had to google it. It's Olly Murs and The Monkey even knows the dance. If anything was going to jolt me back to reality it was that. I need to play that boy some of The Cure instead.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

"accident" - noun - an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury

Some people are born geniuses (genii?), some are born wealthy, some are born with perfect looks. Freaks, all of them. Others are born with a genetic mutation which leads us to injure ourselves at the drop of a knife, I mean hat. I know I get this from my mother  - it's well documented that she put a javelin through her foot and knocked her teeth out playing hockey.

Status Quo, that classic British rock band, once released a song called Accident Prone - it was included on the album "If you can't stand the heat" in 1978 which was written at almost exactly the same time I was busy pouring boiling fat all over my arm when I was about 8. Then there was the time I ran at full pelt into the patio door. It was only 20 years later when I needed a sinus operation that the consultant mentioned that the bent bone and cartiledge in my nose was probably due to a hard bang to the nose earlier in life. Ski-ing has resulted in torn cruciate ligaments and broken fingers and when I was flying on a trapeze for the first time a few weeks ago (41 things to do before you're 41), I managed to trap my arm in the mechanism which, when you're landing from a great height, hurts. I've also burnt off my fringe when I hovered too close over a candle, got my head stuck between railings and given myself two black eyes trying to somersault my way off the swing in the back garden. You can't say I don't try. The only one I've walked away from unscathed was when the boy rolled the car and wrote it off in Scotland the weekend we got engaged. Happy Memories.

But even before all of this I had already fallen into a body of water twice - this made my parents extremely nervous when I was around the wet stuff and more recently just made them laugh uncontrollably. Baths were very shallow in our house or I was sat in the kitchen sink (to wash, not as a punishment for insolence) and my little sister was sent to guard me though I'm sure she probably had fantasies of holding my head underwater for a very long time after I'd pushed her down the stairs and broken her national health glasses. I wasn't even allowed to go and wash my face in the dew on May Day in case I drowned. So it was probably no surprise then that last week I broke the 35 year spell and fell into another body of water. Jetlag, not enough food, no sleep and a mystery virus (hypochondria!) made me black out at the hotel pool in New Zealand and fall headfirst into the water. I have no recollection of smashing my hip or breaking my toe (I like to think it was broken) until I was dragged out of the water by a very nice and handily-present South African guy. I have no idea what would have happened if he hadn't been there - it may very well have been my last accident but, no, I lived to spend an uncomfortable 24 hours on a flight home with a bruise the size of Shane Warne's head and an ego the size of a nanobe (which is very small indeed).

One body of water I've not fallen
into though surely it's only a matter of time
This accident, I'm pretty sure, was as a direct result of me being properly frazzled. Frazzled by name, frazzled by nature. I must at this point stress that I was not pissed.  In fact everyone else from work had gone out to a bar and I, completely uncharacteristically, had sloped back to the hotel for a swim. I have been so frazzled that a few weeks ago I was calling my daughter's name "Molly, Molly, where are you?" and a little voice answered back "Mummy, I'm here". I was holding her. 

Hopefully my toe will be healed enough for me to wear my impossibly high heels in two weeks time and my bruise sufficiently faded to expose my hip in public (I'm talking about at the pool and not because I am prone to walking around Waitrose with my hips on display - for god's sake, I'm 40 1/2).  My coccyx, however, is another matter. I am trying to numb the pain with a glass of New Zealand Sauvignon. Coccyx injuries can apparently, according to the NHS website, be caused by 
  • falling over while skiing or ice-skating
  • falling from high up, such as from a horse (or trapeze - it didn't say that)
  • accidentally landing on one of the bars at the side of a trampoline
All of which I have done. Bizarrely it can also be done by childbirth which I certainly haven't done lately though I have squeezed out two at the same time) and intend to never ever do again and, even stranger, anal sex.  It didn't mention anything about tipping headfirst into a pool.

Today, somehow, I managed to go for a run but I made sure I called my good friend and neighbour and told her, like Captain Oates, "I'm going out and may be some time".

He never made it back but I seem to keep going...........

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

"The bowler's Holding, the batsman's Willey."

The English are a funny nation. If you listen very carefully you will hear sounds which undeniably define us - the hammering of rain, the slurp of a pint of warm beer, the word "sorry", the rustle of a fish and chip wrapper, the shuffling of feet in an eternal queue - and the dulcet tones of Geoffrey Boycott moaning about just about everything.

For those of you who are reading this outside the UK,  Mr Boycott is, like Pimms and the common cold, a national institution. A former Yorkshire and England cricketer, he made his name playing a sport invented by the English. Actually, the English have invented quite a few things - football, darts, badminton, rugby, trains - only to then become the subject of much scorn when we find everyone else seems to do it better. There are some things however, that no-one can do as well as us - apologising, stiff upper lips, queuing and cricket. To name but four. Cricket is probably one of THE most English things you can do and, if you're watching and not playing, is naturally built around the consumption of much alcohol which is another English trait. It's such a slow and potentially dull game that it offers up endless opportunities for reading the paper, discussing the plans for the weekend  and drinking several bottles of wine between 11am and 7pm which, in most people's minds, is the perfect way to spend time. The enjoyment of it isn't even weather dependent. If a cricket match is rained off in England, everyone still sits in the stands for 8 hours and carries on drinking under the pretense that play might actually recommence at some point within the next four days.

But back to Mr Boycott, who is one of the members of the Test Match Special commentary team. TMS was started in 1957 and was the first ball-by-ball cricket commentary - previously it had been considered too dull to commentate on - but now it is as ingrained in the national psyche as being awarded Nul Points in the Eurovision Song Contest. And it isn't dull, because when nothing happens from ball-to-ball, they divert wildly and talk about pigeons, planes or cakes instead or reduce themselves and the nation to tears with some double entendre howlers - I'm sure I remember listening in 1993 (ish) and hearing them all collapse because they'd been sent a cake by a Mrs Tit. Which brings me to the point of this. I know you were wondering if there was a point. For years and years, the TMS team have been sent cakes to keep them going through the long, arduous day. So when I realised that the friend I was taking to the world's greatest cricket ground last Friday had secured us an invitation to the TMS commentary box, I spent 4 sleepless months worrying about what I might take the team. In the end The Boy had the great idea of presenting them with "an over" of 6 cricket ball cupcakes. Great idea. Except he didn't actually have to make them and in fact buggered off to the cricket instead. And so, having selflessly spent my childrens' inheritance on ingredients and icing equipment, I set about creating the gift. The cake bit was easy - then I stared at them for two hours wondering how I was going to make them look like cricket balls. Then I poured a glass of wine and stared at them for another two hours until my neighbour called round and offered her pearls of wisdom in exchange for a glass of wine. Wine consumption had to stop when I realised that I couldn't recreate the intricate stitching of a cricket ball but started again, after another three hours, once the bloody things were finally finished and in their spotty red and white box.
They think it's all over.......

Normally during a day at Lords (which incidentally is the only cricket ground civilised enough to still allow you to bring your own alcohol), you would start drinking the minute you find your seat. Which we did. Naturally, however,  I was super abstemious and didn't consume the usual 2 bottles before lunch - let's face it, if I'm going to meet some national treasures, I want to be able to remember it. The moment came, we were escorted up to the "pod"  by our host, the lovely Kiwi commentator Jeremy Coney, and shown into the box where we handed over our gifts and met the team. All except Geoffrey Boycott that is, who is so dour he didn't even look up from his seat. Still, never mind. We met the rest of the crew - Aggers, Blowers who was looking particularly resplendent in his traditionally upper-class pink English trousers, and my hero Michael Vaughan who seems much thinner without his whites on. 
Jonathon-- is that a microphone or one
of my cakes attached to your chin?
(courtesy of the BBC)

Needless to say - that was a first (and more than likely a last) that I will never forget. The cakes got a few mentions on national radio, I died and went to heaven, fell in love with Jonathon Agnew and returned to my seat with some stories to tell and a couple more bottles to polish off. Creating a masterpiece and meeting some of your heroes is thirsty work.

The following day when I spent 8 hours listening to that day's commentary on the radio, I was slightly relieved to hear that the commentary team were all still alive. But then I have always wondered whether they actually eat the stuff they're given......

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Every Lidl counts....

You may be wondering (or indeed it may not have even crossed your mind) why there's been a deafening silence from me over the last two months. You may have assumed I had broken my head ski-ing. But you'd be wrong. I didn't even get that far. The week before we went I got myself a nice dose of tonsilitis and then an even nicer dose of food poisoning while we were there. So, yes, misfortune followed me on yet another ski-ing trip. And yet I keep going back for more.

The radio silence post ski-ing is purely down to me being a lazy arse. Four days after we got back I spent a glorious few days with Norovirus and then got the flu. Proper flu. Not man flu but Boo Flu which is ten times worse. That turned into something else and another course of antibiotics later I have emerged back into the land of the living. I know I was properly ill because I barely drank for about ten days and haven't even read a book in two months. The doctor recommended two weeks in Mauritius but sadly the NHS don't cover that and fleeced me for another £7.85 instead.

So, it became a vicious spiral - two months of not doing much means two months of not having anything to report. No-one wants to read about me sewing a button on or going to bed at 7.30pm. Honestly, I still can't think of anything to write about but it's a bit like going to the gym, you just have to get the first one over with again. Which reminds me - I haven't been for a run for two months either and that half marathon is looming again....

So, have I achieved anything over the last 8 weeks? But I have been to Lidl. It wasn't my first time but I do get a buzz everytime I walk through the doors and head towards the special offer centre aisles. For those of you who have never been to one, you really haven't lived. If there's anything you've been struggling to find for most of your life or simply something you never realised you needed for the house, you'll find it there.

Essential kit for a day out in Manchester
Lidl is German, a nationality with which you would normally associate order, tidiness and purpose. Not so. The best thing about Lidl is the sheer unpredictability and randomness of what you might find. Not so long ago I went in to buy some apple juice and they were selling generators,  horse saddles and ...............angora kidney warmers! This was an incredible stroke of luck because I actually needed a kidney warmer and where would you normally think to go to look for one? Last week I bought a lime green watch for £6 (which is actually what I had been looking for for about 2 years) but could also have been tempted by the all in one wellie waders for when I go to Manchester or a bionic knee for next time I go ski-ing. I'm kidding about that last one but I notice that at the moment you can buy a paint and mortar mixer or a rain barrel pump. I keep going in the hope that they'll have a 6 bedroom Georgian rectory with 2 acres and a granny flat in Dorset.

What every cold abdominal cavity organ needs and individually
sized to fit your kidney.

And so, dull I know, but I have broken the back of my non-posting period. Now I can make plans. Just as well I have my circus course to look forward to in 2 weeks and my new challenge, a different martini from my martini book every Friday. Or Monday. Whenever.....

Thursday, 21 February 2013

The White Stuff - friend or foe?

My love affair with the white stuff is well documented. By me anyway. Are you thinking I am a habitual user of Bolivian marching powder? Well, no, as curious a nature as I have, I can safely say I have never touched the stuff. Neither am I a habitual user of milk. I haven't touched that stuff since I had the flu in 1998 and survived for a week on the living room floor with only a packet of digestive biscuits for company. The white stuff I'm talking about is the the soft powdery kind that heralds disaster whenever I am within 300 light years of it. It senses me coming and does its best to bring me down, in more ways than one. Yes, it's that time again. We're off on our annual ligament-tearing holiday.

As a kid I was quite lazy (which strikes me as rather odd that I like the outdoors so much now) and turned down the school ski trips that everyone else went on, much to my parents' relief I'm sure as it meant they could upgrade the Volvo and we could have an extra lunch in the Golden Egg in Wolverhampton. But I rather wish I hadn't because by the time I learnt, I was old, knackered and I had "the fear". Injury now follows me like a hungry kitten.

On my first trip, I was the only person on the flight out with my arm in a sling and my knee in a brace. Ho Ho. I managed to tear the ligaments in my right knee and break and dislocate the fingers on my left hand the day BEFORE we went ski-ing. Naturally it was The Boy's fault. I told him not to push me. Spent all week in the chalet on my own getting crosser and crosser.Until someone else broke their leg and joined me on the gin and tonics at 11am.
For instant cleavage enhancement
why not use these new bra-fillers, a couple of
chicken fillets from Tesco or my knee caps

Trip 2.    Tore my cruciate ligament in my left knee on the first day. On the second day The Boy left to go up the mountain and left me with an ice pack and some paracetamol. I called him at lunch time to explain that the ice-pack had attached itself and that trying to remove it was also removing my skin. Apparently I was supposed to wrap it in a towel first but he didn't say that and I normally respond best to literal instructions. Spent all week in the chalet on my own with a knee which, once it had defrosted, looked like a rotting chicken fillet and promptly shed its skin. Ended up having surgery.

Trip 3 -   Enjoying a leisurely lunch in a mountain restaurant in the Pyrenees when the weather seems to turn and the restaurant starts to empty." I'm sure the announcement in French is saying that they're evacuating the mountain "I said to The Boy. He reassured me it was fine and that we should enjoy our long lunch and second bottle of wine. Left the restaurant to find that they had indeed evacuated the mountain due to the now-raging blizzard. I managed to scramble into the last cable car down only to get trapped as the wind buffeted us from side to side hundreds of feet above the mountain-side. Almost fell out as the wind blew the doors open. I didn't find the cable car engineer shouting "Merde" into his walkie talkie or the Spanish father-of -three making the sign of the cross very reassuring. In the meantime The Boy skied down - he was, quite rightly as it turned out, more frightened of the cable car than the blizzard

Trip 4  - Having worked out that I have the classic ski-ing get out clause - "weak knees", I called upon the company of my extremely tall and similarly "weak-kneed" friend Tall Matt so that we could at least haunt the bars all week while the others availed themselves of some hairy blacks and their body weight in vin chaud. Unfortunately, I got pregnant and then had to break it to my drinking partner that I would be sticking (most of the time ) to peppermint tea. So 6 months pregnant, we arrive at departures at Heathrow to find a Matterhorn of luggage in the check-in hall. Instantly we knew this trip was doomed and sure as eggs is eggs and as sure as disaster follows me around on ski-ing holidays like a bad smell, our luggage didn't make it. It didn't make it in fact until a week after we returned. BA, in their wisdom, despite us flying to France, sent our luggage to Italy by road for sorting before sending it back again. By Road. It wouldn't have been so bad if we didn't have our first evening's meal in the suitcase. Knowing that the shops would be shut when we arrived and feeling smug for planning ahead, we had packed the ingredients for Chicken Fajitas for eight. When we were finally reunited with our luggage more than two weeks later, the chicken fillets looked like my kneecap from trip 2.  Spent all week in chalet in the same pair of maternity jeans and wearing the same pair of disposable contact lenses. 

There have been other trips with no major catastrophes which, for that very reason, aren't worth mentioning here. Last year I decided that I might give it a go again this year but then my excuse this time is that a) I have signed up for a half marathon again so can't risk me knees going, b) looking after small children post knee surgery is about as tempting as walking around Kabul with a sign saying "where's the nearest bar"  or simply "kidnap me" and c) I wouldn't get to read as much. I have toyed with the idea of going either paragliding or husky sledding but I am waiting to see whether the side effects from the antibiotics for my tonsilitis are unwelcome enough to make me want to stay in the chalet with a martini and a good book. I also looked more closely into both activities which also went some way to putting me off. But you can't say I don't come up with decent ideas in the first place. 

Last year I walked UP the piste to the restaurant at the top. It got some funny looks, not least when, halfway up, my friend had to stop and pull her trousers down " to get some air" - it was quite hard work. I might stick to that but if I do try anything new, even if it's a new cocktail in the safety of my own balcony, I will let you know.

As for the next 48 hours, I am going to pysche myself up for the overnight drive to The Alps with 3 small children in the back and only one portable DVD player. 

I bring it all on myself....