The Lovely Life

Last weekend, my husband and I had a date in Dublin.

My friend calls a few days away from parenting, where you get babysitters and take off without the kiddies, ‘day release’. I call it Guilty Fun. You want to do it, feel you shouldn’t and miss them like crazy. ‘Them’ being the babas you left behind…sob

I can see why you might liken days away from the minutiae of parenting  to parole. Parenting can feel like being in a type of prison at times, albeit a pretty one. Fondness for my Prison was a post I wrote in the early days of the two under two stage when life was hairy. This has passed and I definitely don’t feel it is as hard as it once was. Things do get easier (everyone said it would and this took time to prove). So getting a day out in Dublin with Mr Paper is a treat. A treat that comes with a price tag, financial and mental, but an important outing for the relationship making it worthwhile.

I won’t lie.  On Sunday I was shattered. We went Saturday morning, left the girls with their cousin and auntie and had our day out. They live near Dublin so we brought overnight luggage, travel cot and lots of snacks as if Leixlip doesn’t have fruit, yoghurt and Liga. We went back to their house Saturday evening and all spent Sunday together. Amidst the piles and piles of wipes, laundry and toys that a night away with kids amasses, we drove home Sunday evening. I unpacked. Laundered. Cooked. Slept. Tempers were flaring. Tantrums spread their tentacles and we were in a dangerous state of overtiredness. Sunday ended,  Monday began at seven am and by eleven am I wanted a big old nap.

So why do we do it? Why do we pack and prepare so much for a teeny bit of time together?

Here are the reasons.bitmoji-20170707040202

  1. Naughtiness.  I am not talking the baby making naughtiness here. I am talking the dessert at eleven am sort.

    In our case, Panna Cotta and Cappuccinos in a pretty Italian cafe. Served in a jam jars. My favourite! (Like to Love sent that joy of useless yet quaint piece of information to the world.) Pretty delicious.20170701_123845.jpg

  2. Lovely Lunch Date. So a date with the husband is important. We often go out to eat with our girls but these family outings aren’t very date-like as entertaining as they can be…! So time out, nice clean, pretty outfit, responsible for only our own toilet trips and clean faces, we looked across the table at each other and exchanged stories and photos about our Gigi and Betsy and wondered how they were. Whilst waiting for our food, we rang Mr Paper’s sister (babysitter) checked in on them, sipped (and in my case revelled) in the bubbly indulgence of a Prosecco based summer tipple at one in the day. Mr Paper had his favourite Soho pizza and I had an antipasti board for one. Tasting Italy, we drank in fond memories of past holidays. Sigh! So far so good.
  3. A Trip to the Theatre.bitmoji-20170707040418.png Drama is part of my Masters and I love, love a play. This was my Christmas present to Mr Paper (another fan of theatre) and we went to see the farcical comedy The Play That Goes Wrong at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre.play.jpg (Warning: The Lovely Life will be momentarily interrupted by a brief unlovely rant about naming beautiful areas for the arts after soulless corporations)
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    There is a hint of the tragedy implicated by the name in the street sign outside. Ironically,  if I get more bills from said company,  I cannot actually go the plays. Just stand outside on Misery Hill.

    Despite the fact that I think a theatre shouldn’t be named after a bill (grr), when The Rose or The globe for example have lovely theatrical connections, I enjoy this particular playhouse. (Another possible name…just saying). The Stage Door. The Break a Leg. The Actress and the Bishop. The Back Stage’s Front Stage. Just a few more offerings. I mean if they call their next building The Universal Social Charge, they can just feck off. So rant over. The actual play was great fun! We sat in the second row, all the more able to enjoy the irresistible physical comedy. Audience inclusion, stunts, quick dialogue and belly laugh inducing witticisms made our day complete. I may review it for another day…20170701_141411.jpg

  4. Sneaky, Cheeky Drinkies. Now, be under illusion. The husband and I are no good at the drinking these days. Friday night red wine is a thing of the past and we would choose Poldark and the couch over beer in the local any day. So drinkies are not our first port of call. There is a certain part of us deep inside that feels obliged to imbibe when the occasion occurs. You just have to be cautious. The trick is one here and there throughout the day. Four tops. Water, water, water. Go tasty. We went for overpriced, delicious and extravagant cocktails at The Westbury. Posh nibbly bits supplied. There was a wine in the theatre. A delicious champagne cocktail with lunch at Milanos. That ended the alcohol. Just enough and yummy. Coffee required, we could afford to treat ourselves further.

    4. Coffee and Cake. OK, OK,  I know you think we have done this already. That was hours ago in the real world people! So when the performance ended in a blitz of fallen props and hanging stagelights, after a walk from the theatre to Temple Bar, we trotted across to Grafton Street in search of something sweet and delectable. Here we found the sexiest doughnuts I have ever encountered in Boston Donuts. I have been to actual Boston yet these capped any I had there. I am dreaming of them since…marshmallow centered, chocolate-glazed magically fluffy pastry. Wowsers.

    I opted for a S’more. Mr Paper went old fashioned, original Boston Creme. Chocolately lipped, custard dripping down our chins, we beamed at each other. The sign of true love.

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    A Perfect Pair.

    5. Splurging in Shops on Grafton Street. Having eaten, sipped, nibbled and laughed, we now felt the need for retail therapy before heading back to Base camp. A little peek in Avoca, planning future spending! You know yourself, when I have the money, I will buy the world…

    Leaving Mr Paper in the gentleman’s section in BT, I bought myself a little bit of lippy.20170701_225731 Mr Paper reminded me that the Disney store was now in Grafton Street, and I bounded up the cobbled walkway to the world of joy (and temptation) ahead. After casually overspending on our little ladies, we went on home. Financial regret may occur on another day. Exhaustion Sunday or Dead to the World Monday maybe. In the interim, we walked hand in hand and remembered how we are as a couple. Coffee, a show, cake, cocktails- these are all the props. The whole point of this day away is to touch base with your other half. Add Prosecco and a Disney store if you must!

    So now you know. This is why we do it. The only way to really appreciate your home and family is the without them for a bit. This is very true. Home with the feet up, husband beside you and your little ones safe in bed. Until the urge to Have a Day Out returns once again, we experience another type of Lovely Life. We may not get to hold hands, have small talk to be together alone but look at what we do have- a busy life with the two most precious children.bitmoji-20170707040911.png

div align=”center”>The Pramsheddiv align=”center”>Mummuddlingthrough

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Irish Traditions: Scuffles in Supermacs

In Ireland, a good night out is always judged by the amount of laughs, stories and craziness that occurs in the night. On many occasions, these nights out (in my twenties for me, but can be for any age) were ended by a visit to the chipper.wow-2388382_640

In our case, Supermacs. Tradition.

The Irish chain, originated in Ballinasloe, bringing us the snack box, curry or garlic cheese chip is a well known hangover cure. I haven’t been to Supermacs after 9 pm at night for many, many years but I am sure it all still goes on. Deadly queues of drunken, tired, make up encrusted victims of the nightlife.  Queue skippers. Death stares. Over ordering. Elbows. On one occasion, I can remember a guy realising that the guy in front of him in the queue was wearing the jacket he had had stolen from him in the nite club. People have words in Supermacs. People have scuffles in Supermacs. Supermacs has doormen at night. Taking your life into your hands for curry cheese chips. I wouldn’t attempt to stand outside Supermacs in a city after midnight. Carnage. swearing-294391_640

Last Sunday, we brought our children to the swimming pool. Well, my husband brought them in and I watched. Afterwards, we needed to eat. We decided on the Supermacs counter in the Centra garage outside town. Now, before the Food Police attack, we don’t give the girls fast food all the time. Yet there are occasions we need food. Fast. My girls love chippies. They are a treat so this was it.

The were getting hungry at this stage. Hangry! bitmoji-20170627015749.pngKids meals were purchased and red sauce distributed.

Betsy gets full quickly and offered her chicken nuggets to myself and Mr Paper. Gigi has a much larger appetite. However, she wanted to share too and offered Daddy a nugget. She wanted to be like Betsy. One subtle difference. You were not expected to actually partake in the offering.

Big mistake.  Daddy ate half.

Gigi went nuts. She wanted to offer the food but not actually give it away. There was a full return expected.

-Daddy! You gobbled it all up…YOU GOBBLED IT ALL UP.3ehh2Tq.gif

Gigi has a temper and it sometimes flares. We don’t see it so much now she is getting older but suddenly the red mist descended.

As all parents know, there are no take backs or second chances in kid world if you cut the sandwich, put gravy on the plate or eat half of the nugget.

I had to hold her back.

I can alway tell by her eyes if she has flipped.

Her eyes told me.eyes-2381871_640.jpg

Legs and everything were flaking.

As soon as it starts it stopped.

Gizmo to Gremlin to Gizmo.

So home we went.

After a good day out, a decent laugh and a bit of a scuffle in Supermacs over a chicken nugget.chicken-nuggets-155764_640

My children have experienced an Irish tradition.

The Pramshed

div align=”center”>Mummuddlingthrough

Like to Love

Having recently finished the cute, romantic and tasteful The Red Notebook, I feel inspired by the main female character ‘Laure’ ( what a gorgeous name) to an introspective excerise. 20170612_132042In the novel, Laure kept a moleskine red notebook and tracked thoughts and feelings. Now, I don’t fancy that especially. No. I am not a diary girl anymore. However what I did like was her list of ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’.

In a bid to be positive, in order to counteract the terror in our world (as many blog posts now address), peace starts with us. We can only control ourselves and our own goodness. I will start with my personal joys. So simply put:

  1. I like smelling my coffee. I might not always finish drinking it (my husband’s bugbear), but I consider it was a wasted beverage if I didn’t inhale the first aroma of scalded beans.

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    An actual real meal I had- not a computer download. The butter pat is wrapped in actual parchment.
  2. I like reading a book that makes me want to finish it. Life is too short to read a dull book. It is no crime to put down the book and leave it unfinished if it is not cutting the mustard.

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    Major Mustard Cutters. Sounds like a character from Cluedo.
  3. I like tasteful and cute tidbits.  I am loving the new cafe culture in Ireland that envelops charm, health and wellbeing in a pretty setting.
  4. I love the concepts of simplicity in beauty. I may not be able to fully do it, but I sure like looking at it and thinking about it. I will get myself in trouble if I step into Sostrene and Greene anymore. (Try and stop me though!).

    ls
    It is like being in Denmark without the customs check. Affordable, delicate beauty. Indulgence.
  5. I love how my little girls smell like biscuits. A combination of bath gels, cremes and just their baby essence makes a wonderful vanilla, peaches and cream mixed with pixie dust scent that cannot be bottled.

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    Perfect.
  6. I love Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. uplifting, inspiring and magical for mood enhancing.piano-956386_640.jpg
  7. I love the feeling of clearing out an area and moving on what is unnecessary, leaving space to enjoy what is left.
  8. I love evening times with my husband.bitmoji-20170614010042
  9. I love looking at pots of jam. I pick them up, turn them over, admire. I rarely eat jam. I like the pretty pots though.20170613_102304-1
  10. I love a good conversation. As a poor conversationalist (I don’t feel this is a consistent trait I have ) when I do get ‘in deep’ I love it.
  11. I love cycling a bike. Mr Paper has gotten me back into this activity again and we go to Lough Boora in Offaly with the girls to search for fairies. This is the place to find them on our hired bicycles.B6A7243-e146185074650220170326_162610
  12. I love my girls’ hysterical giggles when they both fall over like clowns, dramatically and with no pain.
  13. I love going to bed. Snuggling into cotton sheets with plump pillows and a promise of relaxation. It may not always happen- but that moment of potential always does.bitmoji-20170614125848

Well thank you Laure. This trick works. I didn’t even notice that my likes quickly turned into loves- but they did. I urge you to try it sometime.  Counteract the badness out there with a whole bunch of positive thoughts. 

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The best laid plans o’ Mice and Men…

My dad is in hospital.  Let us get that out of the way first. In hospital with a heart condition that has been described as ‘walking time bomb’ awaiting the call to St James for the big one. Triple bypass.

It is a grim irony that today,  on the Day of Hearts, I worry about hearts. Damaged ones. Shrinking arteries. Broken ones.apple-570965_640.jpg

I could talk about my grievances with the leaders of our country and their tenuous grip on reality when it comes to our atrocious health system. I could discuss the ‘hidden public’ as patients like my Dad are now known, that are listed and ignored until they are called. The hope is their life can outlast the list. It is that grim.

I am that afraid.

I could talk about hospital drives. Visiting hours. Depression. Fear. Anxiety. Watching my mother dissolve and stay strong in the same moment. Being the older sibling who is trying to juggle home life, children, full time job and this hospital sub-life that we are now imprisoned to.

I could talk about how I really feel. But let us not open that reservoir of pain.heart-1297121_640

This morning is Tuesday. Disgustingly selfishly, I can’t stop focusing on my own exhaustion despite watching my dad suffer this daily monotony of hospital living and my mother rotate her whole world to accommodate it, I think of me. Despite a sister flying in and back from Scotland, so much travel and pressure,  I think of me. Despite my little girls having to spend a day in crèche, I think of me. Despite a husband working solid days on a busy farm, I think of me. I feel guilty.image-0-02-04-e87646cf18b513008786f02d06be4408091eb1e1900fbfa1165973a06406d9ca-v

On the constant weight watch,  I make a decision.  Fully loaded fruit scone with Cappuccino in a little cafe I love. Sneaky moments with the blog. Renergise. Forgive myself the calories this time. Make myself better with FOOD. I can handle it all with a happy  (yet chubby) tum. So, I do it.

As Robert Burns once extoled, these plans we have ‘gang aft agly’. (Often go assways). robert-burns-1593923_640This is why I am sitting chewing on something brown and nasty, seedy and burnt, literally NOT my cup of tea. The waiter got confused.  I have been given a spelt scone. Spelt Stone more like. Nutty and healthy, I can feel it almost extending stinky, fibrous  fingers attempting to massage my aura. No amount of butter and jam is giving this luxury for me. It tastes as smoke damaged as the lost dreams of dead hippies.

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Beautiful presentation.  Irish guilt stopped me from sending it back. 

I am sorry for insulting the lovers of the health food and please know that I can give it all a fair good whack usually.  Just not today. Today I need butter and white flour, sugar and cream.

I can hear a few voices mutter as they read that maybe the spelt might save me from the same fate as my father.

Maybe.

Maybe not. Spelt might spell healthy for my heart but today it ‘spelt’ disaster for my soul.

The spelt is not working any magic right now anyway. That is for sure.

Burns was not joking. Steinbeck had it on the ball. We make plans in life. To travel. To play. To not be in hospital. To eat scones. To do it all- soon. And sometimes it doesn’t happen that way at all.

Sometimes we are made think a different way.

The Day of Hearts. I never thought I would spend it like this. Obsessing over a heart, yes. My own? No. My lover’s? No. ( Though I love you Mr Paper, know that). No. I am over thinking the organ that doesn’t appear on the cards.

Unless it is a medical card.

Praying we can fix it.

Soon.

 

Christmas. A Very Peculiar History. A Review.

Although elements of my Christmas could always be titled ‘peculiar’, that isn’t what this post is about.

No

This is a little book review. Of what is a very peculiar, and indeed little book! Christmas. A Very Peculiar History.christmashistory

‘Christmas. A Very Peculiar History’ by Fiona Macdonald is a pocket sized, prettily packaged stocking filler essentially. A blue, red and white garland of colour, images of Santa and gilt edged designed, it is a busy looking piece. In fact, it is a history book, documenting every element of Christmas with the story behind it, often strange and sometimes sinister, to compare with the perceived serenity of the event itself.

This factfile is not fully for the doe-eyed Christmas lover, wishing to indulge in a cinnamon and ginger scented fantasy of a magical and fairy filled yuletide dream. It may be more for the pedant at Christmas, one who enjoys the mulled wine and tradition but would not blink at the grittiness that the origins of our Christmas may reveal.christmas-crib-figures-1903954_640.jpg

My first impression of this little book was based on purely  a visual element and was one of joy. As a lover of curios and old world books, see Aesthetically Irresistible Books for proof of this indulgence), I was enchanted by this little lovelie.An old world cover, vintage festive imagery and cover prints makes this a very festive feast for the eye.This version appears very Christmassy. I thought of all sorts of people who may love to possess such a dinky treasure. Five pages in however and these names in my head began to alter to completely different set of people! This is not a book for the faint hearted. It is not for the Christmas jumper wearing, Snowball drinking, tinsel loving all-singing, all -dancing number one Chrstmas fan. In fact, it may even even be best suited to the -gulp- Christmas cynic.

Later chapters present a more palatable information type rather than startling brute truths and returned me to the original expectation that I had held for the piece of non-fiction. Facts and truths of a festive nature. Likely this is because the book followed a chronological format and our past contains much more disturbing details than our recent past. Religion, violence, conflict- all too familiar themes of our human way of life. The book does not shield us from the real origins of Christmas. Yet it is a mind of information and is the result of extremely detailed study and clearly a work of love.

Overall, this book has the imperative ‘pick me up, put me down, pick me up again’ power that a little book of facts should. It taught me a tremendous amount about the Christmas season, a lot of which has managed to ply itself to my brain and which I retold knowingly as anecdote to- no doubt-rolling eyes and thoughts of ‘Know it all’…which is fine. Because I did know it all! I knew why mince pies were traditional and if they did include meat. I knew why Christmas was cancelled in 1644. I can identify the predecessors to our selection boxes- much candied or dried items. I know how the Sugar Plum fairy got her name.sterntaler-1635654_640

It may be too late to gift this book this season but this is one that will not go out of date. An interesting read for many, a terrifically beautiful piece to peruse through its use of illustration and presentation, this little book will return to my coffee table every Christmas- even if just for decorative purposes! I may not encourage my Santa loving, Nativity acting eight year old niece to read it at night but there is many the person, young and old that would be enchanted by this little treasury of historical quirks.bitmoji-20170105104850

As a Boolino friend I am occasionally sent books to review. I have recieved no payment, just a free copy of this book in exchange for a frank review. All thoughts and opinions are purely my own.boolino-friend-250x250.gif

How to Theme a One Year Old’s Party for Halloween…

I don’t think it should be a natural amalgam. A one year old’s dotey little jelly ‘n’ icecream, buttercream sandwich with just one candle and Peppa cards to be automatically combined with images of Freddie Crougar, zombie werewolves (as if a zombie or indeed a werewolf alone are not frightening enough) and the devil. Dressing my children up as Satan for her first birthday?  One of those traditions that is completely ACCEPTABLE in Irish catholic society on 31st October. Again, I wonder. No question mark.

I thrive on ironies however.  Cultures and their quirks crack me up. Here we have another oh so crazy acceptance. Therefore we embraced it ourselves. Why not?

We went FULL Halloween for our baby’s first birthday.

We had a cake on the actual day, see Baby Betsy is One. We had the combo slightly inappropriate, but well seasoned and nicely timed, themed party on Sunday 30th. Mass day.bitmoji-20161102095755

Any tips from this Mammy of a Halloween baby on how to party? Sure.

Try…

  1. Salad and Meat. My first tip is feed the adults with something you can pick at all day. October is a hungry month. I had sliced up some joints (heehee) turkey, ham and beef (call them  Sliced Irish man, English man and Scotsman if you will). We had a selection of salads. There is nothing scarier than a salad for dinner so bang on theme.bitmoji-20161102095952
  2. Think Yucky for Snacks that are Yummy to Eat.
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    Face only visible if you look down on the platter.  Otherwise it looked like a badly presented pile o’ citrus.

    With help from the Internet guru of the millennium,  we did fun things with fruit.

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    Who can resist a puking watermelon with wonky eyes?
  3. Party Games Need No Explanation. Halloween party games need no extra thinking. They have been on the go for decades! soap-bubble-824591_640Bobbing for apples, biting hanging apples and Mummy wrapping in toilet paper cannot fail to amuse. If all else fails: bubbles.
  4. Weather Will Be On Your Side. .. If I were planning an August party, it would rain. Gigi’s Easter party did rain. I had no extra bouncy castles for fear of wind or other amusements. mountains-1012425_640.jpg The kids got on bikes and went outside for hours, wrapped in coats and woolies frolicking to the backdrop of the autumnal perfection of gold, russet and brown.

  5. Decorations. It is so easy just to go for it.  20161025_093006-1.jpgHandmade or bought, Halloween decorations can be cheap, cheerful and effective. Ours came from ‘Designer’ cost effective stores such as Jimmy’s and Dealz.
  6.  Fun with Food. I mentioned the fruit already. Now we have the cookies, cakes and all things sugary.
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    Eyeballs and dismembered fingers…first birthday fun??!!

    So much trickery can be done with these.

     

  7. Halloween Hits! Cheese central. Cannot go wrong.ghostbusters-1515155_640  Monster Mash. Ghost busters theme. Thriller.

Rocking party for the little people. Costumes aplenty, face paints and fried chicken will bring you much party pleasantry.

Betsy loved her soiree. Mutant school children, vampires and devils alike. She was a dainty little ladybug. Smiling all day long! Mammy and Daddy put their feet up when all the little monsters went to bed. Partying for little people is tough work for parents. I happily ate several gingerbread people (unisex,  equal rights) alive. Snap!

 

Being Wedding Guest and Mammy

To start with, my babies aren’t coming to the wedding.

Just in case you thought this was a post about that kind of thing.

No. This is an adult only affair and I am glad. I love my babies but would they love a wedding? I don’t think so.

The invite arrived to our welcome.  We were happy to be asked, glad to go.wedding-979940_640

Time passed.

Suddenly it is here and I am all over the place.

I know. We aren’t bringing children. This does not mean the organisation load is lessened.

Oh no.robot-1470108_640

It is an epic event. Organising the sitter. The food. The sleeps. The lifts. The cars. Pre planning. Pre shopping.  Thinking ahead. I am the Thinker Ahead in our world. I am the Pre Planner. Work is busy, our evenings hectic and we are on the ‘eat (when we can), sleep (we wish), work (yup that always seems to be the case)’ hamster wheel and there is NO TIME for organising around Epic Events. I have squeezed in the planning into every spare minute of thought and action.

Sonething has got to give.heavy-934552_640.jpg

In this case it was my fashion.

Also our car’s cleanliness.

almost bought a new dress. Emerald green. Knee length. Cap sleeves. 100 euro. Didn’t do it. Put it off.

Tried on my old dress.

Tears.

It just looks horrible. My Two Babies in Two Years Belly is poking out nastily, almost asking people to think I am still pregnant. At least six months,they must mutter.

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Bigger tape please.

Sigh.

I have pulled out an oldie gown, so old it must be called ‘a frock’  that survived the Great Wardrobe Purge of pregnancy one. A silky purple and black affair, it is designed for the bigger booby. Didn’t look too ferocious on. Better than it used to.

It will do.

I have looked forward to this wedding. It is just now it is here, we are so tired from work and late nights with the little ones that I am nervous of staying out late!

How far the mighty have fallen.

Once a party girl, I loved the night life. Now I long for lie ins with my book. A glass of wine now makes me feel giggly and two induces a sickly feel.  I can’t finish three.bitmoji-20161012113629

Who am I? ?

Let us look at the positives. ..

The couple who are marrying are lovely. I want to celebrate their day.

The occasion is local. No big drive. Not far away should we be called on to return at haste.

We will have our dinner ‘handed to us’ as they say. No need to cook that particular meal…

Great craic to be had.

An Irish Wedding is a bit of a speciality of our culture.  It can go on for a few days, especially if you are close to the wedding party. You might take out a small loan for the event ( Joke but only kind of as Ireland is ridiculously pricey) and you might not be right for a week afterwards healthwise, but this is how we roll. Gluttony in gold sparkles.

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Keep it coming…

Food and alcohol are aplenty. Dancing is understood. Discos reign until 2:30  am. There might even be a few longhaulers hanging about in the late bar until the tired, weary bar folk beg for mercy.

It is a little while since I have been one of those people.

However, let us not lie. There are many times I was. In a younger, lesser responsibility filled world.

I am quite glad that is over for me! Can’t handle the pain and can’t afford the lack of sleep.

So haste to the wedding shall we say, on Saturday.

Saturday will be grand. The wedding day itself is not the problem. Really..

It is the next morning. Babies. Dodgy heads. Tiredness.  Sore feet. Dora the Explorer. No guarantee of a midday nap.

Let us see what Sunday will bring.tomcat-835005_640.jpg