Monday, August 30, 2010

Journey to hell and back

Last Monday I drove to England.

I've done it twice before and I can get from my house near Düsseldorf through the Netherlands, Belgium and France, across on the Chunnel and then up to just south of Birmingham in about 8 hours.
I start at 7am and drive and drive, stopping only for petrol and toilet stops (2 kids and 1 dog (previously) I'm lucky to get away with just 2 stops - they NEVER need the loo at the same time the car needs fuel!) and the first time I did it I was shocked to turn up at my parents at 3.30, they weren't expecting us that early either and we had to wait for them to get back from walking the dog!

This year I'd said I wouldn't do my UK summer tour, too tiring - spending a few days here and a few days there, if people love us enough then they'll make the effort to come and see us...
and then Jacky decided to finally get married so we had to go, couldn't miss Jacky's wedding, no way. But I thought (foolishly) that as we were only going as far as St Albans the journey would take maybe a little less than 8 hours.


It took 10.

10 hours!

10 hours cooped up in a car with 2 children and in the worst August weather imaginable. It was hell.

The journey didn't start well. Jas was very quiet (not a good sign). It was raining. We got onto the Autobahn near us and then crawled along in 1st gear for an hour. During this hour Jas decided she felt sick. There was no way I was going to pull over and lose valuable metres so we had the window down and poor Jas had to vomit on the move - this was the only time during the journey that I was glad that rain was hammering down (and so instantly washing away the vomit) and that we were moving no faster than a snail so that at least Jas didn't get whiplash as she stuck her head out of the window! I did spare a thought for the car behind (especially as the Germans are so anal about their perfect autos) but hey, what could I do?

Eventually we changed Autobahns and I managed to pick up speed, Jas fell asleep but the rain continued.

Then we came to Eindhoven. Every year we've made this trip the road layout at Eindhoven has been a little bit different as they've been building a fancy new flyover system, previously though the Tomtom has coped with it, not so this year. She told me to go straight on and as I did, out of the corner of my eye I saw a sign pointing to the right exit signposted Antwerp, and I know that after Einhoven the Antwerp ring is the next thing to negotiate (crawl around in a great long queue)
After this there were no signs to Antwerp.
And Ms Tomtom was no use because according to her we were driving through the middle of a field, she hadn't got a clue were we were...somehow I managed 15 minutes later to be on the right road to Antwerp but I wasn't happy. We were now really late for our crossing (yes, I know we get a 2 hour window, but I wanted to get the one we were booked on)

After the Netherlands comes Belgium (on our roadtrip anyway) the land of crap road surfaces and even crapper drivers, this year we got flooded roads with fire engines too. Joy.

So eventually we got to the Channel Tunnel terminal, checked in, ran for the loo and back to the car to board. There were 3 cars in front of us, all waiting patiently to be called forward to board when they decided the train was full and we'd have to wait for the next we were led off by a nippy little Peugeot/Citroen to the front of the queue for the next train. Crap.

Finally we were in England, the end was in sight. Ms Tomtom advised that our ETA was 2.25 (we were meeting another friend at a service station to child swap) and so Ben called Alison and told her when to meet. This was before we discovered that they're digging up the whole of the British motorway system, no matter which motorway we were on (and we were on several) there were cones for miles and miles and miles, 50 mph max speed limit, I should be so lucky. It was hell. I think we were an hour late getting to the meeting point.

Next year I am definitely NOT doing the UK tour. I shall stay on the continent, where the Autobahn system actually works, either that or I shall fly!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Snaps 27

I'm possibly here at the moment, should be in the tunnel around lunchtime. Where-ever I am, I am definitely in one of these, accompanied by 2 children & a husband, no dog this time (his name wasn't on the invite)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Come Back!!!

I'm away again, but only for a week this time. Off to St Albans for the wedding of a very dear friend, am planning to have lots of fun and will tell you all about it on my return.

See you soon!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Book Reviews #3

The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton
This is a magical tale of 3 women, Eliza, Nell & Cassandra, interwoven with the childrens' fairytales written by Eliza (these are integral to the plot so don't be tempted, as I was, to skip them)
Eliza's story is set around 1900 and the main thread throughout the book is the search by Nell, and then her grand-daughter, Cassandra to discover Nell's history.

In Australia at the age of 21, Nell was told by her father that she wasn't actually his daughter. He'd found her, aged 4, sitting on the wharf, having sailed from England apparently alone (on a huge liner with lots of people (this is no 'Life of Pi') but with no-one taking responsibility for her). He and his wife were at the time struggling to have children and so they surreptitiously adopted the girl and named her Nell.

This was a book group read and not an author who's come up on my radar before, I was quite unsure as to whether I'd enjoy this, but I loved it.

I wasn't too keen on the inclusion of the fairy stories (3 or so) at first, but it works and they are an important part of the whole.

This is a sad book, or maybe melancholy would be a better word. There is loss laid upon loss and you wonder at a person's capacity to survive such sorrow.

Kate Morton weaves a great mystery, leading you along one path quite deliberately, fooling you into believing one thing before finally revealing her truth.

I am now, very keen to read more of Kate Morton, I wonder if 'The House at Riverton' is also set in Cornwall, if so I shall be saving it till October to read when I'm there myself!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Snaps 26

No, you're not imagining things.
Those are blue sheep.
Not living, breathing, bleating sheep, just statue thingummies.
But quite why anyone would want statues of blue sheep on their lawn is beyond me.
One up on gnomes I guess...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Good PR

I don't know about you, but I do like a good recommendation, you kind of know you wont be let down (depending upon who's given the recommendation of course - would you trust a veggie to suggest a butchers?)

The last PR I had that didn't work out was Larissa (the mad Latvian cleaner from hell) and she started out OK, it was only after a while that the cracks started developing and the lunacy took an ever firmer grip.

Moving somewhere new, especially another country where even the language and the way they 'do things' are different from what you've been used to, and any personal recommendations are eagerly accepted. In this way I think I've managed to cover all bases.

Wine supplier - tick, Weinzeche suggested by my German teacher, have a great 'cellar' (except it's above ground) and the owner took on board my grape preferences and helped me find German wines to fit my palate.

Window cleaner - tick, Christiane passed this on to me because I am RUBBISH at cleaning windows, just don't see the point, especially with 2 kids and a dog who delight in leaving grubby marks on any glass within reach - and this is a modern German house, with lots of full height windows.

Beautician - tick, Rebecca's friend Metra has recently retrained and does the best pedicure I've ever had, she's so thorough! When I finally admit that autumn is here and pack away my sandals and put away my toes I shall be trying out her facials.

Eye doctor - tick, another Rebecca PR. You can just go to the optician for an eye test like in the UK but apparently it's not as thorough & I have funny eyes, so after putting it off for 3 years I went to the Augenarztin prior to getting new glasses.

Hairdresser - tick, yet again a Rebecca PR (in my defence, she's been here 1 year longer than me and has 1 child more and so has often 'been there & done that' first) I have short hair, as you can see in my pic. It's pretty much always been short apart from a little blip at Uni (I shudder when I think about that perm) and then again when I got my first job. And as anyone who has short hair will tell you, a good cut is everything. Short hair cut badly is 5-6 weeks of subsequent hell, at least with long hair you can tie it up, clip it back, but with short hair? Your only options are to become a hermit for a month, invest in hats or wear a wig. When we moved here my first priority was to find a decent hairdresser & eventually I did.
Justin at Carey & Carey is English (which is a HUGE bonus) but he also cuts like a dream and colours it perfectly too (I'm not ashamed to let the world and his dog know that my hair colour isn't natural - I'm hideously grey (thanks mom) without my 5 weekly top up)

Yoga - tick, Julie has introduced me to a new yoga class here in Kettwig that I shall be doing when everything gets back to its normal routine the week after next, it's only down the road and the lady who runs it is perfect (apart from the fact that she's a size 6 and as flexible as a pipe cleaner, but I'm not jealous - much)

One of the great things about good PR's is that it's great to pass them on yourself, but I really must remember to ask these various people for their business cards to make it easier for a forgetful person like me to recommend somewhere/one, I'll look so profficient when I can say "hang on, I think I've got their card here" as opposed to my usual "I know I've got their number in my phone somewhere, now did I store it under predicure or beautician or ...what's her name?"

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Today was spent at the hospital getting the pin in Jas's arm removed (under general anaesthetic I hasten to add).

The appointment was for 930 am and so it was nil by mouth after midnight, she was keen not to be too hungry in the morning and so ate well during the evening and then got completely freaked out as she went to bed by the thoughts of what the morning would bring and threw up until she could throw up no

We got to the hospital early and walking through to the day surgery ward Jas slowed down and declared herself to be feeling unwell & promptly threw up the tiny bit of water we'd allowed her to have at 6am all over the clean hospital corridor...such fun.

She threw up again whilst we were waiting for the pre-med, just nerves - well, water again actually but you know what I mean, at least by then we had those lovely paper/card hospital vomit bowls to fill.

I expected to see the pre-med come back up after Jas declared it to taste nasty, but that was kept down and half an hour later provided us with great entertainment and an insight into the future - Jas was suddenly drunk, declaring that people had 4 eyes, 3 arms and extra nose and even managing to see 1 whole extra person at one point and then just as suddenly she was sobbing her eyes out - she's gonna make a maudlin drunk!

Post op and she was delighted to see in the flesh as it were, the metal pin that has been inside her arm for the last 2-3 months - it's pink!

Eventually we made it back to the ward where the vomit bowl was again needed and only when hours later she had proved she could eat (pretzel sticks and butter biscuits) and drink (water) were we allowed to go home, vomit bowl clutched in hand.

I drove as carefully home as if I had a full china tea service laid out on a tray on the back seat - not an easy thing to accomplish in a Cooper S with very low profile tyres that exaggerate every bump and it was only after reaching the hall in our house that Jas threw up for the 5 (and please god the last) time.

Now she wants to know what's for tea - nothing, if I can possibly help it, I want to get the stink of vomit out of my nostrils!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


My brother Ed has been with us over the weekend, picked him up on Thursday afternoon and dropped him off Monday lunchtime.

Ed works in oil in Libya and wanted a weekend of civilization, his list of requirements were easily met:

- sports shop
- supermarket
- open water swimming
- beer

His plane was over 2 hours late which was irritating and also meant that he had to wait in a bar for us to get to pick him up as we had a prior arrangement for that time, Ed didn't mind at all, what with Libya being a dry country he was more than happy to have the chance to try out his (non-existant) German in a bar buying a large beer.

Thursday night was expats-martini-meetup and this month there was a great turnout, 9 of us in total, Ed (or Bob as he likes to be known when drinking is involved, "doesn't everyone have a drinking name?" he asked us, from the blanks looks that met this question I'm guessing no...) stuck to beer, sampling the different varieties that were on offer while I stuck to black martinis (made black by the black sambuca that's part of the mix, yum)
Rebecca from bookgroup (this is BIG Rebecca ('cos she's about 7 foot tall) as opposed to (normal) Rebecca) was there and so poor Bob-ed got her full interrogation, we've witnessed this once before, when Kamesh first came to bookgroup, it's very entertaining, I reckon in a past life she was a professional interrogator, maybe she still is, in theory she's in 'publishing' but she works from home so maybe she does a bit of freelance interrogation on the side...all she lacks is the spotlight & the matchsticks, I shall have to ask her next time I see her if she found out anything interesting...

The only other thing I can remember from Thursday evening (and that's purely due to the fact that I'm typing this days after the event & my memory is rubbish & not due to the quantity of alcohol consumed, honest guv) was that Kamesh (Indian) and Dawn (American) had a disagreement about how Kamesh can possibly like Vietnam, I have a feeling Kamesh might have mocked (slightly) the outcome of the Vietnam war to Dawn, something along the lines of "but they're such little people..."

Friday morning and I'd promised I'd go for a run with Ed, not pleasant, as am slightly out of practice and was maybe just a smidge hungover, but I survived. After that Jas and I took him shopping, well we took him to the 4 storey sports store in town and left him to it!

Friday evening is always 'film friday' in our house, which means pizza and a film the whole family can enjoy together, which is trickier than it sounds as Ben's tastes run to the blow 'em up/shoot 'em down and Jas doesn't like to be scared...Ed further complicated things by insisting on either a scarey movie or a talking animals (but not Kung Fu Panda) movie...matters were simplified by Jas inviting herself to a friend's overnight and so we watched 'Shooter' with Matt Damon, a great action film, but no talking animals.

Saturday, Ed was keen to go for another run but I refused and in the end he went 'male-bonding' with Si around various DIY shops on the hunt for the perfect torque wrench, I guess it's a man thing.
The afternoon was spent at a small lake popular in the area with naturists (not to be mistaken with the David Attenborough style naturalist) Ed wanted to swim in open water and apparently you're not supposed to swim in the Ruhr (our local river) but Angermund is a different matter, despite the signs telling us that bathing is forbidden and that there are strong currents (can't image how seeing as it's a flooded quarry) deep water (well, duh, it's a flooded quarry) and the water is cold (gosh no, really?) there were plenty of heads bobbing around, which were, according to Ed, attached to naked bodies. So while Ed swam round the lake, trying not to be too distracted by the white bottoms on all shores, we 4 (3 people, 1 dog) stood in the sun on the shore and tried to encourage Logan to swim - we'd have had more success if we'd each taken a leg and thrown him in!

In the evening we went out for a delicious curry, the highlights of the evening were an unnaturally tall man in the restaurant who was wearing ridiculously short shorts (although on a normal sized person they were probably full length trousers) Jas getting locked in the ladies' toilets and having to be rescued and a yellow Lamborghini Murcielago drawing up alongside us at the traffic lights in the middle of Düsseldorf and it roaring away only to get stuck at the next red light, and the next.

Sunday and the weather broke as forecast, fortunately it waited until after I'd walked the dog and it didn't bother the others at all as they went swimming.

Monday we said we'd go for a last run together, bright and early, but only as long as it wasn't raining, Ed said he didn't want to travel with wet gear (feeble excuse if you ask me) whilst I just don't enjoy getting wet. Unfortunately the bad weather cleared overnight so at 730 I had to drag my weary bones 5.5km along the river, Logan was equally unimpressed.
Ed then had one last chance of civilized shopping and he went and terrorised the Rewe deli counter staff by leaning all the way over the glass counter to point out which cheese he wanted (they don't like people leaning over their glass counters, god forbid you should spread your germs over the fresh food that the flies are walking all over)

So now I'm guestless again, until maybe, just maybe, Simon's sister comes to visit in December and then of course there's the craziness that is the 2 week Christmas/New Year break and all those guests, and I feel curiously bereft, I think I need a hug.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Book Reviews #2

Get me!

Another week, another book

Some might say I have way too much free time but I would countermand that by pointing out that reading to me is like eating - a necessity for life, in Maslow's hierarchy of needs, books would be one of the base layers of my pyramid! I also read way too fast, skimming ahead to the interesting bits, although using an eReader does at least now stop my really bad habit of checking at the end to make sure my character is still alive!

Sharpe's Tiger by Bernard Cornwell is the very first in the novels about Richard Sharpe, immortalised on TV by Sean Bean (which I have never watched, although having seen this website, I am quite tempted. I'm late, very late to the Sharpe phenomenon and only considered reading the books (because I will work my way through them all, I love stumbling across an author with a big back catalogue) when I was downloading another Bernard Cornwell for my holidays and noticed all the Sharpe books listed, prior to this, the only other BC book I'd read was Azincourt which I found to be completely amazing, such a fantastic story that I wanted more.

Sharpe is a 'lovable rogue', an orphan who turned to crime and who then joined the army to escape the hangman after he killed an innkeeper in an argument about a woman. But there's more to Sharpe than this, he's clearly good looking and intelligent, strong and physically quick, a charmer who women desire and other men admire and aspire to be.

This book is set in 1799, in India, the campaign against Seringapatam, the success of which made the British masters of southern India. But it's not just a story of a fight, BC does so much more than that, the details of the characters are clearly and deeply told, so that you feel their success and failure as they do.

Sharpe starts the story as a mere private in the 33rd Light company and ends it as a sergeant, 1 step up, but with 20 or so books to go who knows how far Sharpe will progress, I look forward to finding out!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Snaps 25

My brother Ed is here for the weekend (more about that tomorrow) and one of his requests was to go swimming, but not in a pool (although he's getting that too this morning, in the company of 2 teens and a 9 year old, Si's gone as well but I don't think he'll bug Uncle Ed quite as much as the kids will) Ed trains for triathlon & Ironman competitions (running, swimming, cycling - although I think I've got the order a bit wrong there) and wanted to practice swimming in his wetsuit in open water. So this was yesterday afternoon's excursion, to an old quarry near Angermund, Logan is staring in amazement as my crazy brother goes deeper and deeper and then swims away.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


...and me, not a match made in heaven.

Have just spent a fruitless and joyless hour fighting with iTunes. To no avail. My problem has to wait for Simon's return tonight & even then it will probably have to wait till the weekend as he's back too late to be able to fix the problem (although, that said, it'll probably be a matter of him going click, click, click and then fixing me with the baleful glare usually reserved for the terminally stupid (ie the dog) and saying 'there you go' in a patronising tone).

All I'm trying to do is transfer 2 new CD's (didn't just download from iTunes as I want to be able to play them in the Toyota enroute to England next week & the Toyota is a bit old school, doesn't have a pluggy thingy for an ipod (shock, horror, gasp)) so I ripped them onto the computer (can do that with my eyes closed) and then imported to iTunes, it's a faff but worth it. Got the new music onto my iphone then tried to sync the ipod for the Mini (still with me? 2 cars, 2 ithingies, 1 stubborn computer & 1 increasingly frustrated technophobe) but iTunes says that the ipod needs to sync with another iTunes library, or I can choose to resync with the current library, wiping out all existing data & putting new data on (said NO as loud as I could to that option - did that to my phone just before we went on holiday and it was left as virgin as the driven snow (am slowly beginning to hate iTunes)) so then I went hunting around the computer for other iTunes libraries & found 4 in total (2 user i.d's 1 hard drive, 1 buffalo (seriously, don't ask) = 4) I tried the ipod on all of these libraries - they're all very keen to be friends but first they want to wipe it I'm stuck, waiting for the return of Simey who will either fix my problem with ease or fling the ipod across the room with a string of abuse following it, I hope he can fix it...

Technology, sometimes I do miss the simplicity of a TDK C90 and an HB pencil (used to wind in those loops of tape that would accidentally spool out)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

She's leaving home

It's a Beatles song which has been my ohrworm since Monday afternoon, when Jasmine decided to leave home (again) and for the first time acted upon her decision and packed a bag and stormed off... far as the gap between the garage door and my car anyway, where I found her, lying on her back, her head resting on her bag.

It started with an argument (of course) Jas (over)reacting badly to the news that she had a maths lessons every day of this week (a necessary evil, due to her not doing very well (understatement) in maths at school) I was declared to be the meanest mother alive and the argument escalated quickly both in volume and physicality until I decided enough was enough and removed her to her room to calm down.

5 minutes later she appeared, overnight bag* in hand and declared she was going.

"Where?" I asked.
"Somewhere without you" came the answer.

This led to another 'discussion', this time in the garden - my neighbour has a troublesome 3 year old girl who can frequently be heard screaming her refusal at anything and everything, I wonder whether she was laughing or crying as she overheard us (couldn't fail to overhear it) with the knowledge that girls don't get any easier as they get older, they just appear to get meaner!

So Jas stormed off, down the garden path & I hesitated for a fraction of a millisecond before speeding after her only to find she'd disappeard from sight, completely.

As I was sure she'd turned right at the end of the steps I also went right and as I got to our driveway I could see her, behind my car.

I can't remember now, the discussion we had, crouched on the drive between my mini and the garage door but the result was that Jas and I walked home together.

I shall clearly have to be very careful in the future to resolve our arguments immediately rather than giving her a timeout to reassess the situation, I really don't want her packing her bags again, not when she's only 9!

* which was later revealed to have all the essentials a little girl needs for leaving home; favourite cuddly toy (Bussie) + spare, pyjamas, a clean set of clothes and (most surprising of all) toothbrush and toothpaste!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Book Review #1

I used to put a mini (as in 1 line) review of each book on my bookshelf section, but then last night, lying in bed I had an idea, why not actually try and write sensibly about each book after I've read it and just list what I've read on my bookshelf, so here goes, trumpet fanfare please, my first proper book review!

The Lucky One - Nicholas Sparks

I've read several of Sparks' books now, I started with 'Dear John' which I was inspired to read having heard the review of the film (if you don't already subscribe to the BBC 5live Mayo & Kermode films podcast you should do, witty, entertaining & usually spot on with their assessment of current film releases) the film of the book was pretty much panned, however I liked the sound of the book and that got me hooked on the author.
Sparks is American and is a pretty prolific writer, which I like - a decent back catalogue for me to plunder, but he's male and yet writes almost love stories, I'm sure if they were written by a woman they would be condemmed as 'chic-lit', his female voice is also very authentic.

And so to my review of 'The Lucky One'.
Logan Thibault is the hero, an ex-marine who after surviving 3 stints in Iraq, walks across the US with his faithful Alsation Zeus, from Colorado to North Carolina to try to find the woman in a photograph. The woman is Beth, whose brother was also a marine, who lost said photo out in the desert in Iraq before dying in a friendly fire incident.
Logan wants to find Beth because his superstitious friend convinced him that the photo was what was keeping him safe and therefore he owes the woman a debt and until this is repaid there is an imbalance.
The fly in the ointment is the ex-husband, a loathsome deputy sherrif whose family seems to run the local town and who thinks that Beth should concentrate the rest of her life on raising their son (Ben).
I loved this story (in part, I'm sure due to the fact that 2 of the main characters share names with 2 of the 'men' in my own life) although I spent the last third on tenterhooks waiting for the seemingly inevitable sad ending - he's done that with 1 of the books of his that I've read, but I'm wise to him now, I know to brace myself!
It's not a hard read, but it is definitely worthwhile. The film rights have been sold to Warner Brothers and it is currently rumoured that Zac Efron is lined up to play Logan Thibault.

Friday, August 6, 2010

I'm Back!

2 weeks away, did you miss me?

We've had 14 days in a very hot and sunny Spain, the children spent most of every day in the pool, managing to get a perfect all over deep tan without any effort or ever burning or peeling - they did tend to go a bit wrinkly by the end of the day though!

We had great Chinese food while we were there, yeah, I know we should have been eating paella and tapas but where we live in Germany there's only one decent Chinese restaurant and so to find one on holiday was a bit of a treat. The first night we were there with our friends we had another 3 kids in tow, so we seated all 7 children (aged between 9 and 14) on a separate table so that we could enjoy our meal and have a decent conversation, there was a local arty/crafty market a stone's throw away and so when the children had eaten they went off to bother the stallholders, leaving us to eat and drink in peace, perfect. The table behind us had the same idea, separate tables for the adults and kids, their problem was that the children were younger and needed grown up intervention on and off throughout the evening. As they were leaving one of the fathers came over and congratulated us on our successful parenting skills - clearly jealous!

We came back 1 day too early. Not by accident, I'd booked the tickets correctly and everything, but if we'd come back Thursday instead of Wednesday we'd have been able to go sailing...on our last night we were walking with friends to a restaurant when Donal spotted a colleague of his from the Dublin law courts, Mondy (that's how he pronounced his name, whether it's actually written like that is anyone's guess, apart from his - I'm sure he knows how to write his own name) was in Ayamonte for just one night having parked his yacht in the marina and was sailing on to the next village on the Wednesday lunchtime tide. He invited all of us to go along (7 adults, 8 kids - it's a big boat, 26 foot, 6 berth) but 2 had a golf competition, 2 had a party and 4 had to pack to go home. Sad face. They had a fab time, dolphins swam alongside at one point, like I said, we came back a day too early!

Our flights to and from Spain were not uneventful...
On the way out we were delayed by over an hour thanks to the French air traffic controllers decision to strike (thanks guys). Of course we weren't told about the delay until we were queuing at the gate so we had over half an hour standing around in a line, time that I could have put to far better use in the duty free shop, and then maybe the same amount of time sat on the plane waiting for the captain to get airspace or something...
The return had no delay (thank goodness, we didn't get into our beds before 3am as it was!) but we were only 15-20 minutes into the flight when Jas went a very odd colour beneath her tan and managed to fill 3 sick bags (slight exageration, she didn't fill them as such, but we did use 3, it must be one of the worst parts of being cabin crew don't you think? Disposing of someone else's vomit filled paper bag? The lady concerned was very nice and helpful about it (but then it is her job) getting extra bags and a glass of water) fortunately Jas was so tired that after emptying her stomach she slept for most of the rest of the flight, leaving me in peace.

Now it's back to normality, for 2 weeks anyway then we're off to the UK for a wedding!