Little Minx. Poppity Goblet. Sausage. Boo-boo. Pussycat.

Fastidious. Minor weakness for bananas and berries. Intrigued by her own nasal cavities. Likes a wander. Bossy boots. Considerate to soft toys. Enjoys a good lick of the coe-woe before bedtime. Furtive ice cube thief. Says Chinese words. With an English accent. Snores (gently). Lacks canines. A bloody genius.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Here Comes Trouble

11 May 2007 Roadtesting her new scooter and helmet in the house, Saffron decides the best way to keep me from going to the office is by attempting to hide my shoes.

My Little Sleeping Beauty

9 May 2007 Knocked out by 13 hours on the flight back to London. There's something magically calming about Saffron when she's asleep. It's not just that it's the only time she isn't chatting away, it's how she goes back to looking like a baby. I love watching her sleep even now, but always have trouble resisting the urge to kiss her awake or irritate her with her very own 'Wakey, wakey, it's the alarm'. Though she has recently come up with a new morning wake-up tune which she composed on her own. A few Sundays ago, as I was refusing her repeated attempts to lure me out of bed, she started singing a wake up song. Clearly impressed by her own creation, she then set out to write down the lyrics. About seven times over, as I realised when I finally roused several hours later and found myself covered in little notelets with lyrics. I have since used it back on her and I have to say she wasn't quite as thrilled when she was on the receiving end of the morning warbling.
This is how it goes (as written on the notelets):
Lazy head, get out of bed, la la la
Lazy head, get out of bed orels I'll call you lazy head
Lazy head, la la la.
Ring us if you need the tune.

Tattoos and Soft Boiled Eggs

4 February 2007 My little Heartlander enjoying her favourite local breakfast in Singapore - soft boiled eggs with light soya sauce and lashings of ground white pepper.

10 February 2007 A few weeks away from parental supervision and it's back to bedlam and tattoos.

Singapura oh Singapura

29 December 2006 Having triumphantly conquered the Selfridges Boxing Day sale in London, we returned to Singapore with Aunty Val for a short holiday. Here the weary travellers are snapped upon arrival by unrelenting relatives at Changi Airport, jet-lagged but still beautiful.

This is what happens when you're the first and only grandchild in the family. Everyone plays Dress Up Dolly with you.

From Sloane Square to Raffles Place.

More Tea, Vicar?

20 December 2006 Christmas tea with Nana at 22 Western Road. See for yourself the effect Cadbury Mini Rolls have on Aunty Val.

Dorothy Shoes

11 December 2006 Saffron living out her Wizard of Oz fantasy. (Don't mean to sound defensive but that really isn't me lurking in the background).


2 December 2006 One of our last few visits to Leigh. Snapshots of Irma's pizza and Nana's carpet courtesy of Saffron.

Poppy Appeal

11 November 2006 That was the year it began. Ever since then, every November during the Poppy Appeal, Saffron asks for a poppy to wear on her lapel. One of those things that's everywhere when you don't want one but can't find any for love or money when you actually do.

Going Underground

11 November 2006 All routes start from Sloane Square. Gallivanting around London with Aunty Val on the Tube.

Smells Like Soya Sauce

4 November 2006 Snapped here on her way to her weekly Chinese lessons, our little Confucius scholar happily looked forward to every Saturday morning. Though I soon found out that it was because she liked the biscuits they gave out during tea break. Worked out cheaper to buy her a packet of Custard Creams from Marks & Sparks than to hand over fistfuls of cash to the language teacher. Which explains why two years on, Saffron's Mandarin vocabulary hasn't moved on from 'Hu Die' (Butterfly).

Fragile - Handle with Care

29 October 2006

The Coolest Manny in Chelsea

29 October 2006 It's been such a long time since Uncle Tim was living with us at 55. The only thing that sticks in my mind is Saffron stealing into his room occasionally to rouse him from sweet slumber with a 'Wakey, wakey, it's the alarm'. That and the constant recycling of everything into art. The robot made from Jaffa cake cartons (Tim's, not mine) still hangs proudly on our kitchen gallery wall. It was a sad bad day when Uncle Tim had to pack up his bags and head back to equatorial pastures.

Here are the snaps of us having farewell lunch at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen (as in Fifteen out of a Hundred for taste, quality and service. Can you tell I've never been back?). Followed by the walk home after our last brunch together at The Chelsea Bun. As Saffron demonstrates, it was a fairly emotional day.

Yah but no but yah, innit?

14 October 2006 Like a pixellated phoenix rising from the ashes, our blog shakes off the dust from a year of hibernation, coughs and sputters back into life.
We're back in business, folks.
This sudden flurry (I use the word with artistic liberty) of activity begs the question 'Why? Why now?'. I suspect it's the heady combination of me desperately looking for compelling reasons not to get on with the work I actually have to do; my missing Saffron (she's out playing with the neighbours); and the growing little scraps of paper and 'Note to Self' memos on my Blackberry on the funniest little things that Saffron's been saying or the trouble she's been getting into.

Fast forward to April 2009 and our little minx is now five and a half years old. I don't often realise how much she's grown until I look through old drawings, scribbles or photographs.

Here in this picture taken by Uncle Tim back in October 2006 (no, that's not a typo), Saffron displays her incisive ability to pick up on the Next Big Thing with her Vicky Pollard impersonation. (From Little Britain, and if you even have to ask us what that is, we can't really be friends). Not long after, Kate Moss herself jumped on the bandwagon, channelled her inner chav, and starred as Vicky Pollard's sister in a Little Britain Special.

Thankfully, Saffron no longer wears high ponytails (she wears her hair short and still believes me when I say cutting her hair short only makes it grow longer faster. Don't judge me. You'd do the same if you had a sweaty daughter), has finally stopped hassling me for earrings and rather fortuitously, it turns out Kappa doesn't make polyester bright pink trackies for under-5s. We've left the world of Vicky Pollard behind and now want to be Avril Lavigne when we grow up.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

You can take the girl out of the beach...

5 August 2007 On one of the nine sunny days that we had in London last year, we found ourselves in Kensington Gardens rolling in the grass, sunbathing and eating copious amounts of ice cream. Here you see Saffron leading by fine example.

Spot Saffron

5 August 2007 Can you spot Saffron?

Here's a little clue.

Give up?


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Ask and you shall be given

12 April 2008 Here you go, Aunty Val. (Surely this must be worth at least 6 pairs of black skinny OGEs?). Snapped at Harlem between Powerplates and brunch, Saffron busies herself while awaiting her Pancakes-with-Pecans-and-too-much-syrup fix.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Gallery Minx reopens, minutes from the National Portrait Gallery

7 April 2008 Part of the polyptych of female heroines created by The Artist. Here you see Princess Fiona (from Shrek) flanked by the Powerpuff Girls, Minnie Mouse and Mrs Incredible. Viewed in its entirety, the other panels include Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, Ariel and Princess Jasmine. Quite possibly one of the most complete contemplations of female heroism (albeit Disney/Pixar ones) in modern times.

I once read that having pets around in an office creates a relaxing and therefore more conducive and productive work environment. In an attempt to mitigate the stress levels in my office, I thought it would be nice to bring Saffron in for a day. As it turns out, it did have a positive and chill-out effect on the rest of the office. Which unfortunately had a directly inverse relation to my sanity and composure.

When she wasn't playing hide and seek with the secretaries in the corridors and meeting rooms, Saffron was either sneaking downstairs to overfeed the mutant koi fish in our indoor pond, with crumbs of stale bread supplied by her co-conspirators, their illicit stash smuggled past the guards in innocent looking envelopes; or offering to draw brutally honest portraits of my colleagues.

I finally lured her into my room with the promise of reams of recycled paper and coloured markers and shut the door firmly behind us. These drawings are the result of Saffron's incarceration. She even went to the trouble of cleaning out our entire stock of Blutack and on her own initiative, put up all her drawings on my wall. (On the back of this drawing alone, I found 19 little balls of blutack). The result of which is this inspiring, completely gender-biased, study of cartoon heroines. All displayed at waist-level of course.

Visitors in the vicinity of Trafalgar Square are most welcome to view the polyptych. By appointment only. Some squatting and kneeling may be required.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Banksy meets Jamie Oliver

30 March 2008 Here's what I found on the back of my work diary as I was flipping through the pages on Monday morning, not quite the happiest camper, pencilling in work engagements for the next few months. It made me giggle to see the little drawing that Saffron had left me and I got to wondering what the Princess was dreaming about. My guess was that it must be a juicy burger from Lucky Seven (our all-time favourite burger joint in Notting Hill). Turns out I was way off the mark, as a quick check with the Artist clarified that the Princess is - in fact - dreaming of a sandwich. A "foie gras, honey, butter, salami, salmon and tuna" sandwich. All of her favourite things at once. Sounds good to me. Be sure to look out for it at your nearest EAT/Pret...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

22 Western Road

20 December 2006 Aunty Val and Saffron having Christmas tea with Nana on our last visit to 22 Western Road, Leigh-on-Sea. It's been awhile but I can still taste Nana's tea in my mouth, hear the sound of the boiler, feel the velvet of the sofa armrests on my elbows, and sense the sometimes almost-tropical heat on my neck. But most of all, I can still smell the house - a familiar mix of frying fat, lavender, soft vegetables, English air and notes of whatever she had just made for tea.

What we'll do for cake and some chantilly cream

10 December 2006 Little Minx trying to sneak a peek at the various options of pastries at the Harvey Nics Fifth Floor patisserie (since replaced by a very agreeable Daylesford Organic cafe).

Signs of the times

3 December 2006 Snap of Saffron in a second-hand sign shop in Saffron Walden, Essex. And no, before you ask, she wasn't named after the town, even if it is a very pretty and worthy town. Dotted with lots of antique shops and quaint restaurants. We came away that visit with more treasures than we should have and only stopped because there wasn't enough room in the car. It was between more antique golliwogs and old Enid Blyton books or Aunty Val. Tough call.

Our Little Prima Donna

30 November 2006 Open Day at the Royal Academy of Dance (almost a year and a half ago!), where Saffron used to attend ballet class every Thursday. Now she does ballet with Mme Blandine on Thursday afternoons in school.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Luckiest Girl in the World

11 July 2007 On the ferris wheel in the Jardin des Tuileries, Paris.

Hello stranger.
It's been awhile.
What've we been up to in the last three and a half months?
You'll be pleased to learn that we've not had any further visits from the headlice. Saffron's also been twice to Singapore, once to Bali, visited Aunty Val (and her cardboard bed) in Hong Kong, missed two flights, consumed at least a hundred litres of organic milk, learnt to read, overcame her fear of cycling, watched 120 hours of CBeeBies, listened to Kaiser Chiefs and Pink far more than she should have, eaten about 5 sprigs of spinach leaves, cried when Same Difference didn't win X-Factor, and developed a habit of going through my magazines with a pen circling anything that takes her fancy (she has a penchant for mascara wands, stilettos, bright dresses and, rather worryingly, off-shoulder tops. Thankfully, she studiously steers clear of pictures of Gordon Brown and Ken Livingstone).*

Her feet have grown bigger (she's now a 27/28) and she's grown taller. Her new favourite ensemble is a grey Belgian polo-neck dress worn with grey leggings and brown boots.(She's been known to come home from school and change immediately into this outfit, just to sit in front of the telly to watch In the Night Garden on CBeeBies.)

She still chats non-stop from the moment she wakes till she falls asleep, takes Michael to bed with her everynight, reaches faithfully for her coe woe the moment she's tired, rummages through my bathroom drawers to help herself to my toiletries, and continues to put up with my nightly ritual/banter of "I love you", "Me too", "You love yourself?" "No, I love you."

Her favourite colour is still pink, she still subscribes to gender stereotypes ("Boys like Spiderman, Girls like Barbie") despite my best attempts to debunk them. She still loves eggwhites, chicken macaroni soup, wholemeal toast sans crust, yorkshire puds and vanilla ice cream (though not always necessarily at the same time). And she still wants to be "a Singapore airlines girl" when she grows up.

Sadly, she's outgrown her 'copydays' when she used to insist on dressing up exactly as I do (thank god for Comptoir des Cottoniers). She's also forgotten Alissa her imaginary baby who was in her tummy for the longest time and whom she used to pretend-feed and show to anyone by lifting up her blouse (those were slightly difficult times).

I get overly sentimental when I notice that she's starting to lose a habit because it reminds me how quickly she's growing. Thankfully some important things don't change. She still wants to sleep in my bed with me despite my half-arsed attempts to tempt her with her very own four-poster princess bed (I even suggested the possibility of pink sheets... such is the power of a mother's love). When she perspires in her sleep, I'm still the one to wipe her sweaty brows. Her nose is still very cute. And she still thinks my scrambled eggs are the best, bar none.

I guess you win some, you lose some. So she may no longer want to dress like me these days (wait - is that more a reflection of me or of her?), but conversely, she's now gotten into the habit of making cards and leaving notes for me almost everyday. They all invariably say 'Dear Mummy, I love you. From Saffron. +++++' (she can't do crosses the other way), but it's still pretty amazing to be on the receiving end of such constant validation, and even more awesome to think that my baby can now write and express herself in words.

Finally, one of my favourite new habit of hers is her insistence on leaving voice messages on my mobile phone. Ordinarily I loathe voicemail, but I make a point of saving Saffron's short little messages. And of re-saving them when they're about to be auto-deleted. So I can play them back when I'm away or travelling, just to hear her sweet little voice. Each time it reminds me of how terribly lucky I am. There, I've said it. Not nearly as embarrassing as I thought it was going to be.

*Surely you didn't think I only read fluffly, girly, airbrushed magazines?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Sugar and spice (and a little headlice)

29 November 2007 Christmas Fair

When Saffron was a wee one, I used to get slightly unnerved if I didn't hear her moving or breathing in the middle of the night. Or day, for that matter. (I have been known to be quite demanding, even of week-old infants). And even when I did hear her, I would sometimes think, maybe it wasn't her, maybe it was something else. So often we would get out of bed, trudge over to her cot to take a peep, place our hand on her for a good few seconds and at the detection of her little body moving with each breath she drew, we would drag ourselves groggily (but happily) back into bed with a palpable sense of relief. I have to confess that sometimes we would even nudge or rouse her, just to be sure.

I realise it's a little macabre, but it's a real fear that parents live with everyday. At least I do. But these days I no longer wake up in the middle of the night to put my hand on Saffron to feel for her breath. Not because I have outgrown my morbid fear (highly unlikely), and not because I am less enamoured of my firstborn (highly improbable). But rather because she's a heavy breather (ok, some might say a light snorer. Depends if you're a half-cup-full or half-cup-empty sort of person), and a right little Kungfu Kicker, so I always know she's there, next to me, alive and kicking. Literally.

So you can imagine it was rather worrying when I received a phonecall on my mobile late morning last Thursday, from school. Not long after I had dropped her off that same morning and waved her goodbye as I left the Assembly Hall. I have to say I held my breath as her teacher explained to me why she had rung. Turned out there had been a headlice outbreak in her class and Saffron had been one of the Chosen Five. So I had to rush over to take her out of school before it continued to spread. Of course my sense of relief that it wasn't anything more serious was rapidly replaced by slightly less selfless thoughts relating to the potential infestation of my own hair (don't judge me, just love me).

After I put the phone down with Mrs Lamont, this is what I did:
1. Ran through mental checklist of when I could possibly have caught the headlice from Saffron. Unlikely. I had only just returned very late the previous night from France, she had already been sound asleep. Wait a minute, didn't I cuddle her and sniff her hair that morning?
2. Panicked a little. You look at Mothers and they seem to have the perfect answer and remedy to Every Crisis Situation. So you almost assume that when it comes to your turn, Motherhood will come with the Answersheet. That somehow the overnight stretchmarks also come with some wisdom to compensate. But it doesn't work like that. You don't suddenly know how to deal with headlice, how to dress a wound or how to get fingerpaints off cashmere just because you're a mother.
3. Googled 'Headlice'. What did our parents do before the internet age? You have to admire them for coping nevertheless. Though my google search completely debunked my long-held belief - no doubt in part instilled by my own very well-meaning and highly effective mother - that headlice can fly (they don't have wings, silly) and jump (no hind legs for jumping either, get with the programme). No wonder witches were burnt at the stake.
4. Read aloud the instructions line by line to Aunty Myrna (our supernanny) who promptly set off with almost militariy precision to change and wash all bedlinen and clothes that might have had any contact with our Head(lice) Girl.
5. Took a deep breath.
6. Started to feel my own head itch. Like mad.
7. Drove to school in under 4 minutes. Quite a feat considering I was navigating traffic whilst looking for any evidence of headlice in the car.

Saffron's excitement and delight (I say delight because she was really beaming from ear to ear when I arrived to pick her up) at the unusual turn the morning had taken was quickly replaced by anxiety when I explained to her why I was taking her out of school. Her shortlived protest in the school corridor wasn't because of the headlice - she was rather excited by the drama of it all, being fussed over, medicated, combed several times over, having her little head searched for any evidence of the Mother Louse, and being able to sit at home in her smalls watching CBBies in the middle of the school day - but rather because she was aghast at the idea that she might not be able to return to school permanently. When I assured her that she would be coming back, she calmly took my hand and happily walked out of the school with me.

As luck would have it, Thursday evening was also the school's Christmas Fair, for which we had bought all our tickets and game tokens and to which we had been looking forward for several weeks. So the plan was to get Saffron home, douse her in the strongest medication we could find for love or money, for as many hours as we could, only then would she be allowed to rejoin her friends at the Fair that evening. Which is exactly what we did.

By the time we got home via a detour to the pharmacist (to pick up medication and a bright pink headlice comb) and drycleaners (to drop off Saffron's woolly hat and school blazer), the situation at home had been brought under control, any further possible contamination had been contained. And yes, there was a little bit more of googling on my part, but all in all I think we handled it well, all things considered.

We made it to the Christmas Fair that evening, where Saffron kept her hair hidden under a woolly hat whilst she tried her hand at velcro darts (hasn't really got my knack, as you can tell from these pictures), throwing beanbags (pretty good), guessed the number of sweets in the jar (thankfully she lost), studiously avoided the dubious looking Father Christmas (how do you explain to a child WHICH Father Christmas is the real one?), scoffed cheese and crackers (me, not Saffy), tried to suck up M&Ms with a straw (she won a consolation lollipop), decorated Christmas biscuits with too much icing and sprinkles (these have ended up lovingly hung on Aunty Divya's Christmas tree), made Christmas cards (for herself!), flirted with little Spanish boys (Aunty Debbi, not me), and spent all our pennies on Redcliffe merchandise (you all know what you're getting for Christmas). All in a day's work!