Friday, 24 June 2011

Anyone For Tennis?

It was confession time but I wasn't sure if my sins could be forgiven. It had only been a week, but I'd broken every rule. I'd eaten carbs, drunk red wine and scoffed the childrens' sweets when they were at school. 

And now I was about to be punished for it on on the scales. Sighing, I hopped on, praying that balancing on one foot would miraculously make me weigh less. No chance. I'd put on three lbs.

'That's it,' my husband said. 'You'll have to do some exercise.' 

I flinched, horrified. 'No, not the cross trainer,' I begged. He shook his head. I began to panic. What evil form of gym torture did he have in mind? The running machine that gets faster and steeper with every step? A combat aerobics class with size 6 supermodels? 

'Tennis,' he announced. I smiled, relieved. I used to work at a tennis centre when I was a teenager. 'As a coach?' my husband asked, confused, when I told him.

'No,' I snapped. 'In the kitchen.' Then I paused. 'And the dining room. Oh and the bar.' In fact I used to do every job there to earn as much extra cash as I could.

But I was rubbish at all of them. I couldn't cook, was too young to drink and had never made my bed at home so didn't have a clue about cleaning. 

Still, that didn't stop me trying, and maybe because I was so enthusiastic that's why they kept me on. One time they'd even let me wait on women's tennis legend Martina Navratilova while she was staying there.

Big mistake. I was so nervous having a VIP guest, I wobbled as I neared her and slopped soup all down her tennis whites. 'I'm so sorry,' I said, almost bursting into tears. 

I expected her to serve me up a volley of abuse. Instead she smiled, accepted my apology and left me a tip (and no, it wasn't to give up the waitressing job.) 

Anyway, getting that up, close and personal with a sports superstar gave me a lifetime love of the game. And when one of the guys there, who said he'd been on Andre Agassi's coaching team, offered to give me lessons I'd jumped at the chance.

In between tidying the rooms, clearing tables, and mixing cocktails, I'd practised my backhand and serve. 

'So you must be good?' my husband said. I hesitated. 'That wouldn't be the word I'd use,' I said, but he wasn't listening. He was already on the phone booking a court. 

'It's the only way to shift that weight,' he said. The day before our match he went for a sneaky session while I dusted off my old racquet and checked I could still squeeze into a pair of shorts. 

'Guess who was there?' he grinned, excited, when he came back. I shrugged. 'Serena Williams,' he said and my eyes widened. Of course, she was playing in Eastbourne before appearing at Wimbledon. 

'I hope she's on centre court at Devonshire Park tomorrow,' I panicked. I didn't want the world champion watching me at the gym. Luckily, she was playing, so I could humiliate myself in peace, missing shot after shot, and smashing the ball into the net. 

I survived the hour, and hobbled off court, sweating. 'Meet you in the club bar after a shower,' my husband said, and when I turned up he'd ordered chips and a glass of wine for us both. 'I think you deserve it,' he said. 'That was the best laugh I've had in ages.' 

I grinned, happy to have made him happy. 'Same time, same court next week?' I suggested. Playing tennis as part of a diet – it's ace! 

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Doubly Beautiful!

I didn't have enough fingers to count exactly what I'd have done. 'A nose job, a tummy tuck, liposuction on my chin and love handles...'I muttered out loud, imagining myself standing in front of a plastic surgeon instead of the mirror. 

My husband started laughing, then peered at my face. 'Don't forget laser treatment for your moustache,' he said. I glared at him before examining my face even closer.

'I don't have anything on my top lip,' I flounced. I even looked under one of those scary mirrors that magnifies everything so a pore looks as big as a town. I couldn't see any hairs on my face, no matter how much I stared. But he'd made me paranoid so when I next went to the beauticians to get my leg waxed, I asked her to do my 'tache too.

'I was only joking,' my husband said when I came back from the salon with a bright scarlet top lip where she'd ripped off my skin along with the solitary tiny blonde hair. 

Too late, I'll need my top lip waxed forever now or the hair follicles will grow back thick, black and more bristly than Borat's. 

'Don't say anything else about my looks,' I told my hubby. 'Or our children's.' He'd already jinxed our son. 'I want him to have your double chin,' he'd announced when I was pregnant. 'It's so cute.' 

Back then I'd thought it was a ridiculous thing to ask for. I'd spent all my life trying to hide mine with scarves or my hand. I didn't want to see my firstborn with that embarrassing cushion of chin fat. Too bad. The double-chin fairy was obviously listening because my son came out sporting one. 

'That's your fault,' I'd scalded my husband but he was delighted and was already tickling our baby's chubby chin to make him laugh.

'Our daughter is not going to have one,' I said when I was expecting our little girl. I didn't want her to look anything like me with my fat face, boxer's nose, pot belly and bunions! 

And at first, she looked exactly like my husband with olive skin and jet black hair. But as she grew, her hair turned blonde, became curly and she became a mini me. One day I woke up and there was the distinct hint of, yes you've guessed it, a double chin. 'Where did that come from?' I wailed, but the answer was staring me in the face.  

'Doesn't she look like you?' everyone says when they see us. And she does, but magically, it's all been enhanced. She's like an airbrushed version of me – with only a small extra chin, glossy hair where mine is frizzy, a small button nose while mine is lopsided, and flawless, peachy skin while mine resembles strawberries. 

So I felt guilty that there weren't many pictures of her around the house. We took snaps of everything our son did, but were too busy juggling two to have the camera out to capture her every movement. 'I've arranged a photography session,' I announced the other week. 'He's going to take your pictures.' 

My little girl is only three so I thought she might refuse to sit still or demand chocolate or Peppa Pig half way through the session. But she was the perfect Diva, pouting and striking pose after pose. 'Gorgeous,' the photographer kept telling her but I thought he was only saying that because I was paying him. 

Still, I was impressed when I saw the pictures. She looked angelic. And it wasn't just me who thought so. A few days later the photographer rang up to ask permission to put my daughter's picture in his window. Of course, I agreed and yesterday a magazine publisher called from London. 'Can we use your daughter's photo on our cover?' he asked. I didn't hesitate to say yes. An extra chin – that just makes her doubly beautiful! 

Saturday, 11 June 2011

The Daddy of All Gifts!

Forget novelty socks and another tie, treat your dad to a present as special as he is...

(back row left to right) Enchanted Forest Glass St Eval Candle £25.50 Not only does it look pretty, in a manly way, it smells divine. It'll light every father's fire!

Diamonique 1.4ct Black Enamel Cufflinks Sterling Silver £52.50 now only £17.65 Cufflinks QVC 0800504030 Sky channel 640 Freeview channel 16
Epiphany Platinum Clad Diamonique SS Cufflinks £63.50 now only £37.43 They're both stylish – and a bargain. What's not to love?

Silver-plate and enamel cufflinks with nine till five design. Available in blue or red £45 Time to look his best – every day with these little beauties.

Tinc Original Stand 'n' Splitter £9.50 Talk about clever! This little gadget is a stand for your iPhone, iPod or MP3 to watch films or videos, but you can also remove the top and use as an earphone splitter to listen to your favourite tracks with a close one.

L'Occitane Shower Jelly part of L'Occitane 4 Piece Mens Power Shower Collection
QVC £27.25 stockist details as before. There's something for everyone in this bathing beauty.
Middle row (left to right)

Radox Men Lime and Ginger Deep Clean Shower Scrub 250ml £2.03 available all good supermarkets nationwide It smells fresh and does double the work as it exfoliates and cleans in one. Result.

Bleu de Chanel 50ml EDT £41.99 The Perfume Shop stores nationwide or online The ultimate in scents – this aftershave is dangerously gorgeous. Get the kids to buy it for your other half and you won't be able to stop sniffing him!

Hip flask and cigar holder Shabby Chic Originals £12.50 How clever is this? Perfect for fishing trips, he'll be able to indulge in private with a touch of class...

Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male 75ml EDT £36.50 The Perfume Shop OK, so he'll need a can opener to open it, but it's worth the hard work. Smells like a holiday on the French Riveria...

The Bluebeards Revenge Shaving Cream and Badger Brush Gift set £29.99 01752 898191 Shaving just got a whole more fun with this pressie. No more stubble or shaving rash, this will ensure a close shave every time.

The Gentry Grooming The Eye Cream £14.95 Dab a little under his eyes and he'll look years younger (and you can sneakily use some too). Light, it absorbs easily and really works.

ZOMM £69.95 available at or is a clever little device to stop you losing your mobile or forgetting it. When you walk too far away, it will flash, vibrate and sound an alarm so you can't lose it.

Front row (left to right)

Verdon Fresh Water Shower Gel of L'Occitane 4 Piece Mens Power Shower Collection
QVC £27.25 stockist details as before

Gucci Guilty for Men 30ml EDT £31.50 The Perfume Shop
Boss Orange Man EDT 100ml £36 A modern classic, this makes perfect scents for trendy dads.

Paul Smith Optimistic EDT 50ml £34 It smells as good as it looks.

Calanques Foaming Shower Gel part of L'Occitane 4 Piece Mens Power Shower Collection
QVC £27.25 stockist details as before
SECOND SHOT (backrow left to right)

Shoot! Football Puzzle £10.99 available from Hobbycraft and Amazon Your children will score a hit with this pressie for football-mad dads. Goooaaaal!

Star Wars T-6 Jedi Shuttle #7931 £49.99 Space (out) for fun with this out of this world gift – it will keep him busy all Father's Day.

Revell R00501 Leonardo da Vinci Giant Crossbow 1/100 £34.99 available at argos, amazon and all good model shops Crafty dads will love this – and the children can help too.

Humax HDR-FOX T2 500 GB Freeview + HD Digital TV recorder around £300 available at and Now you and the kids will be able to watch everything you want as he'll be too busy watching all his favourite shows in High Definition.

Supercar Driving Thrill with free Passenger Lap £69.99 A gift with real Va Va Vroom – every day wants to get behind the wheel of a fast car for the day. This way he won't be able to drive anyone but himself round the bend on Father's Day!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011


Peering out the window, I grimaced. It was May Bank Holiday weekend, so, yep, it was about to rain. 'What am I going to wear?' I wailed, mentally flicking through my wardrobe.

My little boy was playing in an all-day football tournament for the Under Eights. What would all the others Footballers' Mothers and Girlfriends (MAGs) be wearing?

'Jeans are too casual,' I thought. Besides I couldn't fit into mine since binge-eating my entire diet-food's weekly menu in one sitting.

Just then I spotted Victoria Beckham in that day's paper. She was kicking a ball around with one of her son's in a park, dressed all in black and wearing five-inch Louboutin heels.

'Well if it's good enough for Posh...' I thought, heading to my wardrobe. Out came my ballerina-style shoes, with straps all the way up to the knee, a knitted Maxi dress and a cape. 'Very MAG-ish.' I thought, taking in my husband dressed in his skinny jeans and sunglasses. 'Very DAG,' I smiled, impressed.

My son had slept in his beloved football kit so need to worry about what he was going to wear, and after co-ordinating my little girl in Hello Kitty jeans and a poncho, off we went.

'Can you stand over there?' my son said as soon as we arrived, pointing to the other side of the park. 'You all look funny.'

Wounded, I looked around at the other mums and dads. They were all dressed in sensible jackets, boots, jeans and had umbrellas. We were wearing shades, and enough bling for a night out with the girls from The Only Way Is Essex.

'Might have to dress down a bit next time,' I thought, watching my parents arriving in their cagoules and carrying their own seats. They'd done this before. 'I spotted your gold buttons glinting,' Mum said. 'I knew it would be you.'

Four hours later, my feet were numb, my teeth were chattering, and my freshly blow-dried hair was stuck to my forehead. 'Are there any toilets?' I mumbled, unable to feel my frozen lips.

'You can't go, he might score,' my husband warned, and so I crossed my legs. Luckily it was so cold I soon lost all feeling in them, and forgot I needed to go to the loo.

'Please let him get the ball in net soon,' I willed, clenching my blue fists. Unbelievably, ten minutes later he did and I jumped up and down on the spot, screaming: 'Yes, gooooooaaaaaaal.'

My son glared at me. So did my husband. Mum laughed and my little girl started copying me. 'Sssh,' my other half said. 'You're embarrassing us.'

At least the excitement had warmed me up, but I only let out a small cheer when my lad headed in another goal during the next match. I didn't want to feel his footballer's wrath again, and just counted down the seconds until it was over.

Finally, he was presented with his medal – when I nearly shed a tear – and it was time to go home. 'Did you have a lovely time?' I said as we left the park, bending down to kiss him. He rubbed his cheek and pulled a face.

'Yes it was great – but can you wear a tracksuit and not make any noise next time?' he replied.
I flinched. 'And by the way,' my eight-year-old continued. 'From now on can you call me Messi?'

Do you think VB or the Barcelona soccer star's mum gets this sort of flack? Because it sure is making me as sick as a (badly-dressed) parrot.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

MAXI-Mum Impact!

It wasn't the look I'd been hoping for. I'd rushed out and bought my maxi dress after spotting Coleen, Cheryl and Gwen Stefani wearing theirs. 'They look really girlie and dainty,' I'd thought wistfully, admiring how the colourful fabric floated around them. But even though mine was practically identical it looked more like my mum's curtains than a fashion statement.

'I can hide under it,' my three-old daughter squealed, diving underneath the metres and metres of material. It was another half an hour before I could drag her out, 'It's a tent,' she giggled. 'Can I sleep it in tonight, Mamma?'

I shook my head. We had a friend's barbecue to go to so I slipped on my silver flatforms (I was determined to be fashionable even if they did – eek!- look hideous!) and put a braid in my hair, hippy-style.

My husband did a double-take when he saw me. I smiled, pleased I'd impressed him with my up-to-the-minute ensemble. 'I didn't know it was fancy dress,' he sniggered. Rolling my eyes, we headed off.

When everyone complimented me on my boho look, I grinned, relieved. Only then, as I stood chatting, I wrinkled my nose. I was sure I could smell burning. 

I glanced over at the barbecue, and made a mental note not to have the veggie sausages. They'd been incinerated. 'Typical bloke's cooking,' I thought.

Then I started feeling hot. 'It's a sizzler today, ' I joked, fanning myself. But I was worried. I was absolutely boiling. 'I can't be menopausal,; I thought, my cheeks burning with another hot flush. 'I'm not that old.'

Just then my Other Half pounced on me, his eyes wild. 'Maybe I look red-hot,' I mumbled. 'He can't keep his hands off me.' But he was stamping on my dress. 'Fire,' he screamed. 'FIRE!'

Shocked, I realised my voluminous dress had billowed out, hitting the barbecue, where it had caught light. Luckily my husband had spotted the flames round the bottom. By the time he'd put out the fire, it was ruined. I suppose I could cut off the burnt bits at the bottom and wear it as a mini.

Anyhow, I'm off the killer Maxi look. It's strictly unfashionable but very safe trousers for me from now on!