Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tuesday, 15 July (evening) - Things improved as the sun went down

Status: Retouched and defuzzed.
Mood: Better than this morning!
Calories consumed: Middling, but they were prepared by No.1 and Only Son, so that's a win)
Blood spilled: None (miraculously)

After ratty mood and general discontent with the world, and fellow passengers on Athens public transport this morning, things have improved. But not before arriving home after my return trip, soaked in sweat, with someone else's chocolate smeared on white t-shirt (if I'm gonna get choccy stains, I at least want to be the one who put them there!) and feet screaming in protest at yet another crowded journey breathing other people's souvlaki fumes and having toes trodden on. Oh the joys.

Ignore aches and pains and pull on sweaty sweat pants and top, in order to make them even sweatier with sesh at the gym (yes! am Superwoman, despite wobbling buttocks and protesting knee). Back home, sit down to plateful of spaghetti in tomato and basil sauce from the fair hand of Kidlet. Am seriously impressed that pasta is cooked and sauce tasty.

Hit the bathroom to rinse every trace of the gym off me, but end up giving myself the works.
Success - roots touched-up without giving cat an interesting new look, despite his insistence to stick his nose in every I do. (Last time I dyed my hair, Stoopid Cat got a punkish splodge of orange on the top of his oh-so-nosy head after leaping into shower as I rinsed off)
Even more success - manage to shave legs without adding pint of own blood to the gory red splashes in the bathtub after my home colouring effort.

Clean up every last splash of purply-red blobs scattered around bathroom, except for a spot on the mat. Artfully rearrange mat and pray that Ovver Arf won't notice. 

Am domestic goddess, supremely groomed and expert trainer of male offspring.

Not a bad note on which to head for bed. Night all! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tuesday, 15 July - Summertime sloven

Status: Humid and creaky.
Mood: Fed up. Feeling my age.
Calories consumed: Who cares?
Caffeine intake: Nowhere near enough!

I know, I know. I know I said that I would keep up with you, Dear Diary, and here we are – 12 days since you last heard from me. It’s not that I don’t think of you (I do, every single day, but that's as far as it goes), it’s just that life – and heat – has got in the way.

Is hot in Athens. Very hot. Especially on days when I have to make hour’s train journey to work, crammed up against assorted body odours, garrulous tourists heading for the port with giNORmous backpacks as they embark on their “third world adventure” (which those of us who live and work in Greece call the daily grind), and a sprinkling of sob stories and egregious accordion players trawling the carriages for some spare change.

Day starts with me dithering in front of wardrobe – which outfit will make me sweat the least? (More to the point, which will look least goddawful when I inevitably do?). Opt for the pristine white t-shirt and floaty black and white floral skirt with images of me floating around a Boden catalogue of can-do elegance and efficiency. Wriggle feet into slip on wedges and head out the door with bag slung across body and laptop planted on back like some kind of middle-aged mutant turtle ready for armed combat.

Regret choice of outfit five minutes after boarding train. Bag and laptop have wrinkled crisp white t-shirt into an oblivion of wrinkles worthy of New Ager who’s just returned from an trip to find herself at an Ashram in India. Thighs are swimming in a thick sheen of sweat, thanks to the train air conditioning about as effective as five asthmatic teenagers who’ve been chewing polo mints blowing on the crowded carriage.

Naturally, standing room for the whole journey, which of course takes half an hour longer than usual. Achey knee (result of illusions of being Wonder Woman on various instruments of torture at the gym) screams at me for my stupid choice of any kind of footwear not as flat as a pancake – or preferably, slippers appropriate to my age and build.

Arrive at office looking like a refugee. In lift, try to adjust flattened hair, remove smudged eyeliner and reapply lippy in the hope of kidding someone – anyone – that yes, I am a professional and not some stray beggar who wandered in off the street.

And so, to work…
Tired and aching, settle down in front of screen and try to look like I know what I’m doing.

Summer in Greece is great, or so they tell me. I’ll let you know when I finally get the chance to see for myself.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Thursday, 3 July 2014 – Everywoman, everything, everywhere

Status: All-round wonder woman.
Mood: Invincible….   sort of.
Calories consumed: I might be within my limit. Possibly.
Calories used: About 10 litres of sweat worth.
Alcohol: On third large glass of rose (say no more)

Start day ready for whatever's coming my way. Plenty of work waiting in In Box when I log in at 7.30am (Yay! Am not obsolete!)
Good news? Working from home today, so dive in without having to worry about putting on clothes fit for human consumption, combing hair, applying a trowel’s worth of Polyfilla and slap to face, and boarding to Love Train to the office. Bad news? 
Two hours later, am still sitting in sweaty nightdress, without benefit of underwear, gently oozing onto my seat as the day’s heat ramps up. Am personification of slatterness.

Remember hearing on news that Greek power company's planned power cuts due to employees’ strike in protest at privatisation plans. No warning of when, or for how long, in Athens. Decide to make the most of power while we still have it, and make family lunch at breakfast time.

Pulled away from kitchen by insistent “ding!” of new emails dropping like a summer shower into In Box. Try to type replies with elbows as fingertips covered with mixture of feta, cream cheese, mint and olive oil.

Yes, ladies. You too can have it all!

Cheese pie slapped in oven with a prayer to Patron Saint of the Incomplete Hostess to give it time to cook before plunging us back into the electricity-free Dark Ages. Lick filling off fingers, thanks heaven it’s not a fast day, and wipe hands on cat.

Throw cat hair and cheese pie filling covered nightdress in laundry basket and step into shower to rinse the 30 degree heat off gorgeous middle-aged bod. Cat sits on side of bath blinking at me with the critical eye of a Weight Watchers’ meeting coordinator.
Wonder if cats have cellulite under all that fur?

Step out of shower, smelling like a sweetshop (pistachio and gardenia shower cream), shake hair into mop-like shape and throw on knickers and slob clothes to tackle emails dinging merrily away in the lounge. 

Smell of burning reminds me of pie in oven. Race down corridor to kitchen, tripping over cat in the process, throw over door open and grab pie dish. Ouch! (Note to self: You have oven gloves for a reason). Carve blackened tips of fyllo pastry off top and resolve to tell the menfolk it’s mean to look that way.

Nursing blistered thumb and forefinger, return to laptop and professional career woman mode, safe in the knowledge no-one can see me. Race through online stuff, leaving other tasks for when the lights go out.

No.1 Son officially on holiday and in Teenage Slob heaven. Rolls out of bed (miraculously making it in the process!) and meanders into the kitchen mumbling something about coffee. Cheery response of “Yes please, darling!” ignored.

OH also joins land of the living, throwing a grunt of testosterone in my direction as he wonders past in saggy grey boxer shorts (must point him in direction of Athens branch of Marks & SparksVERY soon). Who says romance is dead after the first two years?

Day passes in a blur of emails, absently gobbled plate of rescued cheese pie and a soundtrack of “Uncharted” on the Playstation. No.1 and band mates start jamming in next room just as I tackle article that needs to be cut down to 500 words from 1,200. Just what I needed – inspiration!

Purse lips, bite tongue and soldier on. They’ve got a live show tomorrow, so must be understanding. Must also decide what to wear to gig that’s suitably “rock mama” without signaling utter humiliation for only child (tempting though the thought is).

Close laptop, change into sweats and head for gym to produce body weight in perspiration (dear old dad used to say “Horse sweat, men perspire, ladies glow”. Am glowing like a pig by time I get back home).

Just call me woman for all seasons, folks. Wife, mother, career woman, gourmet cook, exercise guru….   sort of.

Celebrate spent calories with cheese sarny and a fresh bottle of wine. I've earned it, right?

Start stressing out what to wear as the oldest groupie in town tomorrow night. By end of second glass, no longer care – and bed is looking extremely attractive.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sunday, 29 June 2014 - Kicking off

Status: Defuzzed. Sticky.
Mood: Even stickier.
Home front: Bristling with anticipation.
Immediate outlook: Ball shaped. Possibility of explosions of mad joy spilling onto streets, or epidemic of dejection, round about 1am.
Alcohol consumed: Two Zorba-sized glasses – and counting.

Right, must get my soccer brain plugged in. I know it’s here somewhere, probably hiding under the pile of old ‘National Geographic’ magazines I saved all those years ago with noble intentions to using them to enlighten No.1 & Only as he grew into manhood (turns out, he only ever turned to them to cut out photos for a mood board he had to make for school – but it’s something, I s’pose). 

Football’s not my thing, but not joining in the national obsession tonight would probably mean divorce, and possibly deportation, so I have to feign enthusiasm – even if I still don’t know (or care about) the intricacies of the off-side rule.

The Other Half knows I don’t do footy, but am expected to join in when the shebang kicks off at 11pm. Might as well, not much chance of getting any sleep during the game anyway. It's summer, windows wide open, all Greeks getting ready to watch in living rooms, on balconies, etc. Prepare for inevitable sounds of cheers, groans, colourful curses, shouted advice to coach or ref in Recife and more. Likely to be fireworks and car horns if Greece get the ball in the net or even win.

Have ingratiated self with OH to compensate for lack of soccer expertise. Sunday lunch like Mama makes it served up, family favourite Macaroni Pie made for tomorrow AND ironing done (can hear my inner feminist having a hissy fit as we speak). Even managed to sneak in a brief ironing lesson for No.1 – he ironed a whole T-shirt, pair of jeans and ragged shorts. Am uber-domestic goddess and super-parent (shame I also had the urge to throw iron at OH’s head).

Prepare for tonight’s likely invasion of male hormones – and the week ahead, with a bit of hair removal. Summer’s here, limbs and more on show. Must not resemble Yeti in a bikini when we finally hit the beach.

Armpits easy. Whip out the trusty Gilette disposable and OH’s can of foam and bish-bash-bosh, clean as a whistle – except where I nicked that mole in my haste to get finished. For legs, however, want something smoother and longer lasting. Enter box of pre-waxed strips sitting patiently in bathroom cabinet.  What they don’t tell you in the adverts, or even on the side of the box, is that summer – the time you most want to be smooth and hairless – is the worse time to use them. But am smart, can see that wax might get gooey in 30 degrees heat, so bung them in the fridge til I need them.

Spread towel on kitchen floor, strip from waist down to saggy, greying Marks & Sparks knickers, and begin. All goes well as I take the strips out and plaster them to my shins. Cat sits a safe distance away, blinking like a Buddha and waiting for the human show. Move along animal, nothing to see here.

First leg covered. Time to rip off the strips, and every trace of unwanted here with them. Check box : “Grasp firmly between thumb and forefinger and tug sharply against direction of hair growth”. Easy-peasy, lemon squeezy. Try to tug sharply. Instead of a clean rip and removal of plastic covered with carpet of hairs, hear a ‘slurp’ and look down to see sticky strands of good like honey bridging gap between leg and strip. Gloop. Yuck. Hairs all still firmly in place, gloating at me from beneath the melted wax.

Inventive if nothing else, I plaster the strip back in place, throw open freezer door, grab bag of frozen peas and clutch against sticky strip. Stephen Hawking would be proud of me.  Hold firmly til peas start going mushy and leg goes numb. Grasp, tug and….    Voila! Result. One strip of goo covered in hairs. Repeat 15 times til both calves hair free, smooth and dotted with tiny bleeding pores. Reach for special oil to remove sticky residue – but cat beats me to it and rubs up against good spattered legs, leaving more hairs than I’ve removed.

Bottle of olive oil, three showers and an exiled cat later, am finally smooth and goo-free, ready to cheer on the Greek team (of football supporters, not the actual national team) when they meet Costa Rica. Will be perfect hostess, offering drinks, snacks and entertaining assorted menfolk with intelligent enquiries about game (“Why do goalkeepers wear different coloured shirts?”… “Why aren’t the strips simply big versions of national flags?” “When is a foul not a foul?”…) . Anything to avoid actually watching 22 men in shorts running around a field trying to herd a ball into a string vest stretched between two posts.

Wincing as my jeans chafe against the thousands of little blood spots on my calves, but armed with a bottle of red and a family-sized bag of crisps, resign myself to evening of balls and boys talking balls.

Just hope they win.
Joyous Greeks are a noisy lot, likely to keep me from my much needed beauty sleep until at least 3am if they win tonight – but there’s nothing sadder or more misery drenched and conspiracy-minded than a defeated one.

Friday, June 27, 2014

I'm back!

Status: Back in the "Brit Chick" saddle after five years of radio silence.
Mood: Nostalgic
To Do List: Never-ending
Carbs craved: A mountain sized stack of Cheesy Wotsits worth.
Carbs consumed (so far): Two spoonfuls of sawdust - sorry,muesli. (Cue forced cheer of "You go girl!")

Dear Diary,

Remember me? That middle-aged bint you last heard of the day she turned 45?

I know, I know. Where the hell have I been? What happened? Why did I desert you?

(Answers are, in order: I've been here all along; Five years of Greek financial crisis and all the fun that has brought; No excuses - just a load of grovelling and cries of "Mea culpa").

Well, I'm been missing you for a while now. And now, after 15 false starts like those nearly made phone calls to your former best friend after she's vowed never to speak to you again thanks to a phenomenal foot-in-mouth on your part, I've decided it's time we got reacquainted.

I still here, in Greece. Older, yes. Poorer, definitely. Wiser, who knows? But still clinging on to with tzatziki-smeared fingertips.

OH (the Other Half, in all his magnificent hairy Greekness) is a house husband these days - by way of circumstances, not choice - and has developed a mild manic-obsession with clean floors. Now have lovely clean floors, and lots of homespun 'nevra' borne of wounded male pride.

No.1 (and only) Son is now almost a man, hogging the bathroom daily to make the point. He's a veteran of amateur rock gigs (on stage with the boys - and girl - from his band, Bazzinga) and that means he virtually sleeps with his guitars, and I'm a front-runner for 'Oldest Groupie in Town" 2014.

Mummy Dearest (MD) is still going strong back in Blighty, keeping me up to date with News From the Homeland, but Li'l Sis is now living the life of Heidi in Switzerland. Just a matter of time before she starts yodelling. 

The Three Graces - my oldest friends - have been whittled down to Two after Ffaenella The Fragrant decided she no longer wanted anyone from our family in her life. But Welsh Fran and Georgy more than make up for her absence with daily doses of madness to keep me this side of sanity (I didn't say which side "this side" is, did I?).

Five years on, MIL (Mother in Law) and FIL (Father in Law) are still bickering like only a devoted Greek couple of nearly five decades can. MIL still hasn't given up on converting me. FIL still bristles his moustaches in my direct when he thinks I've getting too bolshy (approx. five times a week). 

But there's a new addition. Joker da Kat (a.k.a Stoopid Cat), who OH rescued from a rubbish bin when he still had his umbilical cord attached (the cat, not OH). Looks like a feline Friesland cow, thinks he's a noble warrior, is terrified of the vacuum cleaner (or 'Box of Screaming Demons') and thinks affection is expressed with jaws and  claws. Sleeps 20 hours a day, more when in hiding, and spends the rest of his time bounding off the walls in pursuit of flies, sunbeams or toes. Has never met another cat - God knows what will happen when he does.

So there you go...   still hanging on, hurtling towards menopause, battling biddie-dom in a bid to make 50 "FABuolous!" a la Samantha in "Sex & The City" (who I bet never had to wipe cat sick up from floor, or iron the 386 t-shirts a teenage boy gets through in a week).

Glad we got acquainted again. And I promise I WON"T be a stranger. May my boobs bounce off my knees, hair dye turn my head puce and whiskers the thickness of Ashanti spears sprout from my chin if I don't keep you up to date with my doings, comings and goings.

Must rush. Summer's arrived with a vengeance - and that means shaving legs and hunting for strapless bras that don't make me look like an ogre with a couple of ice cream cones glued to its chest. 

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Older:Yes. Wiser:?

Status: Officially older, not necessarily wiser
Mood: Overwhelmed

Well, it's official. I can no longer say I'm in my early 40s. Or even live up to the claim of 44 and 3/4 my blog title claims.

Doesn't help that the nice girl in the pharmacy I ask for a good face cream hands me one for "mature skin" (would it hurt them to call it "wiser"?).

Undaunted, am determined to be cheerful, upbeat and positive on my birthday. Chocolate eclairs and macaroons bought to share at office help (yum).
[Note to self: Sweets bought to SHARE with well-wishing colleagues]

Open up computer to a flood of well-wishers, including a message from Welsh Fran, loopy childhood friend who declares to world of Facebook that I'm "one of the most lovable, crazy, gorgeous people on the Franplanet".
Think (hope) that's a compliment....

Day passes in a blur of good wishes from more people than I have years on the clock, and a flurry of work (they had to pick today to get me busy?), then it's off home on the train-bus-train-metro-bus samba.

Two-and-a-half hours later, walk through front door to find No.1 dodging homework and Sister-in-Law and neices bubbling excitedly round the flat. SIL fails to twig significance of day despite Kiddo saying "Happy Birthday Mum" and me opening cards in post...
....only when I explain combination code on lock of the cherry red suitcase I'm lending her for her first trip to London do her eyes goggle and jaw drops.

Enter OH, armed with a bunch of roses, badly-written but loving card - and a killer migraine. So, a quiet night in then. (He'd better make it up to me at the weekend!)

Treat myself to spicy noodles with sweet chilli and cashews... ...but candles keep falling over into the gloop, so give in and pig out.

Here's to the next 45 years!

Friday, November 27, 2009

In Conversation with Kidling Grand

Having kids adds slightly surreal dimension to life, leaving well-intentioned parents bemused, confused... and usually amused. I had one of those conversations with 12-year-old Kidling Grand (a.k.a. No.1 & Only Son) last night:

He: "Ooh Mum, look what's on the telly. The world's tallest man is in Greece and he's looking for a wife."
Me: "Too late, I'm already married and I really don't fancy another wedding."
He: [shooting withering look in my direction] "We should introduce him to Ilias in Year 3 at my school. He's already over two metres tall."

Me: "Um, isn't Ilias a BOY??"
He: "Who knows?" [shoots me a wicked grin, grabs another hunk of bread and scoots off to bedroom to twiddle with leccy guitar]

But this is the same child (does he still qualify as a child with 13th birthday just 2 months away?) who started telling me the story of a Superhero/God named.... Guildford.

He didn't get very far, just looked in amazement as Mum rolled around on floor, in fits of helpless giggles. If I'd stopped to listen maybe I'd have learned something about the Arch Villain Leatherhead, his legions of evil minions (the Crawleys) and the punishments Guildford will mete out to the bad guys he catches (Woking? Climping-by-Sea? Lancing? Epping?).

Oh the joys and all that....