Who Says Family Holidays Can’t Be Fun?


It was that time of year again last weekend. The family holiday 2018 had spun back around with all the promise of a mammogram.

Admittedly, the word “holiday” is somewhat of an exaggeration.

The kids will attest to the fact that the word “holiday” is something of an exaggeration. This year – at the old man’s suggestion – our family fun was curtailed to a long weekend, with budget, time off work (he works for himself, from home) and our sanity, cited as his main reasons behind the decision. I imagine, however, that he may also have based the decision on the greater mathematical probability of the four of us walking away from this trip unscathed with only a 48hr window of dysfunction.

A distraction would keep us from straying into dangerous territories.

It was decided that an active holiday would be a better fit this year. We agreed that a distraction would keep us from straying into the dangerous territories of searching questions and judgments – the common ones being, how we ruined the kids’ childhood, which of them is our favorite, were they adopted, and how much we intend to leave them in the will? So, we booked a hotel in The Hunter Valley – a wine-tasting region, about two and a half hours from Sydney which was close enough to evacuate at short notice and removed any possibility of Kurt projectile vomiting on a flight full of unsuspecting travelers, as per Bali ’09.

Acclimatizing your kids to the “wine cures all problems” philosophy of life is one holiday choice.

I should point out that in acclimatizing our kids to the “wine cures all problems” philosophy of life,  I am not looking for a Parent of the Year award anytime soon. I should also mention that our kids are 21 and 24, respectively.

I had been elected to share a room with Kurt to give the four of us a better chance of sleep – because I snore and he never sleeps anyway – but within two minutes of us downing weapons for the night, he had migrated to the sofa bed and the old man was begging to come back into my bed. Apparently, NC was noisily updating a climate model  in her sleep.

The priority of any holiday has to be the hotel breakfast. 

Truth be told, the real priority of the two days had less to do with wine and much more to do with the hotel breakfast. The three of us have been on best behavior over the past few weeks, out of fear that the old man might pull the plug on such an extravagance and eating strategy had to be discussed furtively. However, it was discussed at length, down to the final detail of who would secrete the miniature croissants and Vegemite pots back into the room. Needless to say, Kurt was elected for this task, on the basis of his natural talent for testing the law.  And apart from cold bacon – the downside of strolling into breakfast five minutes before the buffet closed – breakfast was a resounding success.

Kurt was elected to steal extra croissants from the breakfast room, on the basis of his criminal record.

Indeed, we ate and drank well, which is what holidays are all about, even though dinners turned out to be almost as interesting as musical bedrooms what with NC being a vegetarian, my attempt at dairy-free (this week), the old man’s passion for burgers, and Kurt’s metabolism, which relies on a minimum of three bowls of Aldi’s Chocolate Pillows per day or it shuts down.

We have developed a newfound maturity as a family.

It turns out that we are developing a newfound maturity as a family, and a compromise was found. ie. we ignored the fact that NC is a vegetarian.




I Want “Cheese Lover and Wine Connaisseur” In My Eulogy

01e820bca18fe83260bc6c121631447a.jpgThe old man and I went on a mini-break to a farmstead in the south of Sydney a few weeks ago. Due to the risks posed by Australian wildlife – wallabies, wild horses, spiders and no doubt brown snakes, waiting for me in every corner – we left The Princess at home with close friends.

I packed her case – her favorite food, her blankie, a couple of toys, some treats – and then in a moment of separation anxiety, I texted our friends a few pointers about her habits in case she had any problems vocalizing them.

Doesn’t play nicely with other dogs

Zero road sense

Needs lots of water

Loves cheese

Scared of men

One of the friends we went to the homestead with is a celebrant, who conducts weddings all over Sydney. One morning – in our search of the best hot chocolate in what was apparently a town – we bumped into a fellow celebrant, and the two of them got into a lengthy discussion about funerals and the underlying pressure they feel to write the perfect eulogy. The other celebrant admitted to us, that in view of the terrible eulogies she had witnessed, she has already written her own.

At the mention of speeches, I am always transported back to the scarring memory of the old man’s speech at my fiftieth birthday. Although my therapist has told me to bury it in the past and move forward, each time I go to a friend’s birthday and I have to listen to their husbands’ loving, glowing speeches about their wives, it is like a dagger straight through my heart. As a result of my PTSD, planning my own cremation and writing my own eulogy is something I have had to consider quite seriously if I don’t want a very sad affair with a minimal amount of planning and thought, and which only my husband and two children are likely to know anything about. Because my idea of a funeral is like the one at the beginning of Love Actually or a Viking sea burial, or at the very least a group of gospel singers. And rather than risk a Target two-for-one special, I have given the responsibility of making sure I get a worm-proof coffin to Kurt, who understands anxiety.

BTW, kids, there are “death of parent” playlists on Pinterest.

However, after giving it some thought, I have decided that retribution will be served best by leaving everything to the old man. After all, surely a eulogy is something other people need to make up about your achievements and not even he can ignore my achievements with cheese and wine? But if I should need to provide the man that I have known for most of my adult life and the father to my children and The Princess with a few pointers, it turns out that my eulogy would look a lot like the list I gave to our friends, who were looking after our dog: 

Doesn’t play nicely with others

No road sense

Needs lots of wine

Loves cheese

Scared of men

What would be on your list?



Eating And Drinking Healthily In Middle Age To Maintain Your Body Weight

I’ve written a lot of posts about this topic in the past because let’s face it, girls, on a scale of stuff that still turns us on in middle age, (where sex with our husbands/partners is at one), food has to be at least a ten. The struggle is real. And to my horror, I recently discovered that there is sugar in fruit and wine – which is a bit rude, frankly – and a fact that has made rather a mockery of just about everything I have aspired to achieve over the past few years in my war on the muffin top.


Sugar in fruit? Like, WTF!


The good news (this week) is that two glasses of red wine before bedtime is now good for us, according to the fat-busting scientists, which must mean that for those that are partial to a few more than two (due to mental health issues, say), that makes them virtually Roger Federer.


I gave up on traditional diets a long time ago, mainly because they don’t work, I can’t stick to them and they make me very dull and bad-tempered with a hunger only seen in Labradors and an irrational fixation on the breadbasket.


Fortunately, I am a moderation kind of girl, (Kettle Chips and cheese excluded – OBVS) and although I don’t deny myself any food groups really – except octopus because WTF and legs – I like to think that I choose wisely and healthily. I also try to balance my out my diet using a cutting-edge, self-developed point system that I stole from Weightwatchers designed for myself, that seems to work for me… sometimes – as in I don’t get the kind of hunger where all I can think about is eating other people’s leftovers in cafes and I can maintain focus on a sensible health target at this stage of my life – to maintain my drinking goals and weight at the same time.


Here are some of my tips:


If I have yogurt for brekkie, I won’t touch dairy for the rest of the day until my Snickers smoothie at bedtime.


If I blow out seriously on carbs, I limit myself to less than a bottle of wine that evening.


If I’ve starved myself with a steak and blue cheese salad for lunch, denied myself my morning tea toast and my afternoon snack of crackers and hummus, I allow myself an all-you-can-eat/all-you-can-drink week.


I only eat carbs when I’m hormonal, pre-menstrual, peri-menopausal, feeling fat, feeling unloved, feeling hungry, the kids hate me, or with wine.


You see – all pretty straightforward really. But let’s be honest, we all have those really shitty years when there’s been nothing on telly but sport for months, you’re fifty-two and still getting acne or your local restaurants decide to allow babies, and it’s hard to be virtuous all the time. Those days when all you want to do is crawl into bed with Pods on toast and an Amaretto on ice. And on those occasions – because remember, I said it’s about balance – I increase my exercise by searching out the furthest pub on Google maps and walking there AND BACK.

I’ll Even Miss Her Drinking My Wine. Maybe.

Its been a long and exhausting week since child number-one finally decided to leave the nest a few weeks before Christmas. In fact, it has been so completely crazy helicoptering over the move, there’s been very little time to consider the emotional ramifications.


While my daughter is a bright little cookie with a very practical, logical brain that has scored her the sort of amazing job in the city to make me question if we are actually her parents, the organization and creative skills required to furnish a studio within a few days – well, not so much.


And anyway, as she said, what’s the point of having a stylist for a mother if you can’t get her to design your new pad? For free.  Fortunately, she knows me well enough to know that I am unable to resist the challenge of extra time at the mall or to showcase my creative toolbox after just one doleful, puppy-dog-eyed look from my soon-to-be-departed child.


A week to buy furniture, fumigate bed linen, source artwork and kitchen utensils that she might recognize plus a mini Christmas Tree, as well as all those other touches that she would definitely not consider – vacuum cleaner and toilet brush come to mind. A week in which to explain how a lease works, convince her that she does need utilities, and that no, she can’t use the family 4G for her Internet usage, culminated in hours of assembling Ikea furniture in a hot room the size of a cupboard, with a crotchety middle-aged man who decided he was the supervisor, shouting from the sidelines.


I did have some help, in the shape of Kurt who helped load the van hired by the old man and then scarpered off before we could nag him to give us a date for when exactly he’s leaving. And then there was the old man, who ticked one item off his bucket list with the hire of the aforementioned transit van so that he could look like a man-who-can for the first time ever. And (as I’m feeling generous), he really did look like a man with a van for those few hours as NC and ladled on the encouragement to make sure his service extended to most of the lifting.


I won’t mention the language as the three of us attempted to carry the world’s heaviest two-seater sofa bed – much bigger than it looked on Gumtree – up a flight of stairs. Nor will I admit that I almost reached for the (in case of heart attack) Aspirin in my handbag when my ticker began to race worryingly quickly because I thought there was no way it would go through the door of the apartment.


Predictably, the old man refused to put together the furniture, like all professional removalists.


‘I can’t fucking do this,’ I think were his words of despair as he threw the instructions to an Ikea dining chair across the floor, two minutes after opening them – in reaction to which, NC and I shared a conspiratorial ‘TYPICAL’ look and then sent him out for coffee.


I will miss those conspiratorial looks.


I know in my heart that she’s SO ready and that it’s time, but I will miss my wingwoman who shares my asinine wit and enthusiasm for keeping the boys grounded at every opportunity – although, in truth, I’ve got this; I will miss the Tupperware boxes of leftovers she leaves in the fridge – enough to feed the starving Third Word – that this raging environmentalist never eats; I will miss the use of her shoes, her beauty products and her talent for eyebrow plucking, because I can no longer see mine.


I won’t miss the vegetarian who doesn’t really like vegetables, or her howls of disappointment when I jaywalk, use her expensive shampoo or forget my recyclable shopping bags – nor the graphic description of dead turtles that usually follows.


I’ll even miss her drinking my wine.













How Much Do You Drink?

That’s the question that makes you cross your legs in shame in middle-age, similar in awkwardness to when the doctor used to ask you how much you smoked or how often you have sex, or (more pertinent these days) when was your last mammogram? Fact: every smoker lies.


The ‘walk of shame’ these days is related to how often you go to the pub or the bottle shop in a week because apparently us middle-aged folk (and particularly Generation X) are leading the way in alcoholism. And it’s seriously affecting our health. Even I can’t ignore the stats about the increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease due to alcohol – not to mention the anti-social behavior that goes hand in hand with binge-drinking.




Don’t you think it’s all a bit over the top? I mean, people have always drunk alcohol – apparently, it’s been around since 2000BC so even Jesus Christ would have gone on a bender at some point – and the Mediterranean diet, which condones drinking at lunchtime and dinnertime, has some of the lowest records for cancer and heart disease.


You might be aware if you follow this blog and my Facebook page, that I am a self-medicator of the alcohol kind and medically-speaking I am an alcoholic because I drink most nights of the week. If I moved to Spain, where up to thirty-five units a week is acceptable, I’d be fine – for the sake of humor, let’s ignore that that figure applies to men. Indeed, not only do I self-medicate, I am also medicated to get me through each day. And don’t get me wrong, I have tried other ways to improve my mental outlook – exercising, clothes shopping and binge-eating – yet none of them comes close to a glass of wine at the end of the day.


We drinkers are being as shamed as smokers were a decade ago – and I know, because I was one of them, and it was a very black period in my personal history and the only way I got through it was by consoling myself that at least there was still wine.


Not anymore. It’s a crime against humanity to drink more than one unit of alcohol a day now – up there with smoking while pregnant, eating red meat or asking your teenager to get a beer from the fridge. ‘Drinking’ has been stigmatized and I thank god that my kids are old enough and wise enough to accept me for what I am without too much judgment.


But it’s hard to ignore the criticism when the topic du jour at every social event is how much you drink.


And I know many people that have stopped drinking in middle age or cut back because it no longer agrees with their aging cells, and sometimes I do wish I could be one of them. Fortunately, I’m a battler and so when I first began to feel the detrimental side effects of white wine, I  persisted and switched to red in a valiant attempt to make it work.


I don’t judge. I don’t have a problem drinking with people that choose not to drink, although it can be hard to deflect the judgment from my husband who now abstains during the week and then binge drinks at the weekend.


For the record, I think I drink in moderation. I don’t binge drink and I usually have at least one night off a week – although admittedly, the benefit of those nights can be lost the following night in a celebration of just how great my discipline is.


Life is short. And perhaps moderate drinking will make it even shorter, in the same way that sky-diving might, or a poor diet, or stress – which can be nicely combatted by an odd glass or two. We all have our different crosses to bear and different mechanisms for coping and we take risks just by getting into a car each day. For some, drinking helps manage the pain of that weight.


I drink ten units a week. *lying*


When The Education Of Your Kids Finally Pays Off

sKurt and NC move out of the family home in a few months time, when the old man and I move back up north, about an hour away, to an area they refer to as the hinterland of Sydney. It’s not quite the Outback, but it’s far enough away from them to help us get some semblance of our “lives before children” back, before we die. stork-838424_1920


Their imminent move out of the nest has unleashed a spectrum of emotions. While the old man has hung up the bunting, ordered the balloons and written his speech, my emotions veer between despair and embarrassing displays of unfettered joy at the prospect of sleeping through the night again, depending on what part of the month I’m in.


Although Kurt is ready in some respects for his first grab at independence, I know that he is far from competent in others areas. So even though I am heeding the advice of my therapist – who has reminded me time and time again that he will only reach the level of maturity required to fly, through trial and error – I have formulated some contingency plans.


I know I mustn’t enable him, but these safety nets may help him get through those early wobbles in his transition, at the first signs of the wind leaving his sails. I know from experience that homesickness can catch you unawares and most of us have experienced it to some degree at some time or another, with the reality checks that cleaning fairies don’t exist and that money only stretches so far.


My biggest fear is how he will cope when he finds out that the Money Tree doesn’t really exist. This vulnerability to want to believe in the impossible is a trait he inherited from his maternal side, and I know that it means he will have a distinct disadvantage in terms of survival, and there is a very real chance that he may starve.


We can’t bail him out with cash because we learned a long time ago that Kurt’s ideas of priorities do not match ours. So I have come up with the idea of an emergency food drop that I can organize online. That way, he won’t be able to convert food money for cigarettes… or anything similar… like the system he set up at school with his lunch money, that contributed to his second expulsion.


The old man and were discussing this plan the other night, when NC’s ears pricked up.


‘Will I get food drops as well?’ she asked, to which the old man replied that he believed it highly unlikely that she, like her mother, would ever allow herself to starve.


‘What about wine drops instead?’ she asked. ‘You could get a bottle of wine delivered to me each day…or maybe one in the morning and one in the evening?’ she said, thinking aloud.


There are very few times in parenting when you feel overwhelmingly proud of your offspring, but as I looked at my daughter I felt my eyes well up in a similar way to the day of her graduation a few months ago.

The Best Five Therapies To Cure ‘One Of Those Days!’

You know, the real bitch kind of day that I seem to have a lot of, when the proverbial shit hits the fan so hard and fast you haven’t even had time to rub the fairy shit out of your eyes, let alone imbibe your first coffee before your phone rings. At 6.30am, no less, and after a horrible night of zero sleep due to the selfishness of one of our entitled teenagers who still believes he has the right to wake his parents up in the middle of a work night because he has the brain capabilities of a fly and missed the last bus home.


And yes, I did answer my phone, because no matter how much I hated him at that moment, I am his mum. But do you know how hard it is to speak at 1.30am when you have to ignore the condemnatory ‘you’re a pushover’ accusations from your husband at the same time as trying to persuade a very nice cab driver to bring the drunken, prodigal son home and that yes, you promise again and again, you will pay for it?


A conversation that is followed quickly by a heated argument in bed of the bitterest parental proportions about what your partner calls a ‘sickness’ ie. a ‘mother’s love’ for over-enabling our son, because he thought I should make him spend the night in George St with the homeless as a lesson in taking responsibility – Did you know that we were still living in the Victorian era? Me neither – and so disgusted was I by his attitude, it was impossible to sleep with such a heartless, callous pig afterwards and I ended up on the sofa.


Why do I always end up on the sofa?


Then I faced further withering looks of accusation hurtled expertly my way via NC somewhere around 7.30am for all the noise I’d made through the night after I’d already spent an hour loudly appeasing my client on the phone about an issue that I hadn’t been able to warn him about the previous night because he was on a night flight, with, (it turns out), a child who chucked up for most of the journey


The acoustics are pretty spectacular in our little semi, in fact almost on a par with the Opera House. The boards echo and vibrate in unison as we’ve discovered many a time via Kurt’s music, which even at the heavily fought for/agreed volume is unbearable most of the time, added to which my voice tends to go up at least an octave when I’m stressed.


And breathe…


And I’d sent the old man to Coventry at around 2am, somewhere between him refusing to pay the taxi on some archaic parenting principle – or because he is perfect – and then because he proceeded to toss and turn in the bed for the next hour when he couldn’t get back to sleep, which meant I was forced to retreat the sofa.


We really must find a location for another bed in this house because what with my snoring and the old man’s tics when he can’t sleep, we obviously have no future in the same bed, and the leather sofa really does become rather sticky when you’re a stressed, menopausal very sweaty female.

Which is how I was reminded of the best five therapies for a really shite day:

1. This enormous brownie at Harvey Norman helped.


2. And then this little someone who genuinely loves me unconditionally was waiting excitedly to pounce on me and smother me in dog saliva when I came home.


3. Then I pounded the local pavements to this  – the main reason I have to answer client calls at 6.30am to help pay for such an inflated rent for the noisiest, coldest house in Australia.


4. Had one of these somewhere in between, and even remembered this time that the floor is a health and safety hazard when wet.


5. And finally this, my trusty companion that never lets me down in a crisis or when everyone else is out to get me.





Dreaming Of A Wine Christmas

This image shows a white wine glass (WMF Easy)...
This image shows a white wine glass (WMF Easy) with white wine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To Whom It May Concern, Scarborough Wine Co, Hunter Valley

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: Brand Ambassador Role

Please accept my application for the role of Brand Ambassador for your wine company. Although this role has yet to be advertised, after extensive market research, I believe that like Angelina Jolie before me in her role as Ambassador for UNICEF, I could be the new face of Scarborough Wine, bring a heightened awareness to the fabulousness of your wines and hence invigorate the profitability of your products.

In terms of my credentials, I drink loads of your wine. HEAPS. This means that I know the product inside out.

Your Yellow Label Chardonnay is my preferred tipple but I will take the Blue if I have too, and my fellow wine connoisseurs have informed me that your White is the crème de la crème, so it goes without saying that I would be only too happy to sample and review it for you.

In terms of the right niche marketing and brand placement, if all of the the readers of My Midlife Drinking had to pick two words to associate with me, they would undoubtedly be ‘Scarborough’ and ‘Wine’…or maybe ‘lush’ or ‘whiner’, depending on the day. I envisage a short campaign, simple in its approach, yet highly effective in terms of output; one that involves me and my friends drinking lots of wine and then telling you how much we all enjoyed it.

In terms of my relationship history with your company thus far, I have visited your cellar door in the Hunter Valley numerous times, sampled the wonderful freebie cheese spread you provide to help flog your wine and have always set back home with the comforting sound of clanging bottles of Yellow Label in the boot of my car – even though your cellar prices are more expensive than the deals I get at my local bottle shop – something we need to discuss, if you don’t mind me saying.

Furthermore, I see this as a medical intervention. Due to the heinous symptoms of menopause, I am exactly the right guinea pig to trial your wine because my tolerance for alcohol has taken an unacceptable dip of late, and I need to get back on the horse with a wine I know to be not only sublime on the tastebuds, but also easy on the head.

Yes, I will go that far. In spite of the worrying trend towards alcoholism, which is particularly noticeable in the 50+ female age group, and the inconclusive science that insists on lying that wine is bad for us, I have decided to put my health on the line for your company, the future of the grape and progress. I have always believed that the health benefits of being a lush far outweigh the negatives; that such a lifestyle choice facilitates the improvement of major mental health issues such as avoidance, anxiety and poor social skills as well as staving hunger pangs when there is clearly an obesity problem in society that needs to be addressed.

In terms of salary expectation, I would never be greedy and a few hundred cases a month should suffice for any new product trial.

In conclusion, I am highly efficient at drinking wine, have a high tolerance for wine and a mature outlook. I also produce some of my best work in a drinking team environment.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Louisa Simmonds

Just Another Week In The Life Of My Midlife Mayhem

  • Broke off my love affair with Zara this week when my body outrightly refused to get into their size 12.

    A Zara store at Liat Towers, Singapore.
    A Zara store at Liat Towers, Singapore. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • Discovered that the serious chink in the old man’s domestic cleaning armour is DUSTING. Training begins this week.
  • Another arrow straight to the heart of my sinking female self-esteem this week when Kurt told me to ‘sort my tache out’, LOUDLY, on the train.
  • Due to another of El Nino’s mood swings – which is some super-important weather front that even the meteorologists don’t truly understand – we’re in for a long hot summer here in Australia. So get ahead of the pack, my menopausal sisterhood, and BUY YOUR FANS NOW, before you end up massacring someone over the last one left in Bunnings.
  • Promptly ordered myself a new bikini online. Yes, I said ‘bikini’, and no, I haven’t tried it on. *Living dangerously*
  • English: Red rose
    English: Red rose (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Still working out who exactly Kayne was on The Bachelorette, but stoked Crazy Davey bowed out leaving the way clearer for Alex to reach the finish line.

  • It’s getting humid as fuck at night here now so safe to assume weight loss will come from hot flashes for the next few months?
  • Finally conned found someone to go and see Stephen Fry with me in November. So I might have bent the truth a little when I told Kurt that it’s stand-up rather than the actor’s experiences with Bi-Polar Disorder...

    English: Stephen Fry at Nightingale House,Dece...
    English: Stephen Fry at Nightingale House,December 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • Kim K hates being pregnant. *violins*
  • The old man bought a new iPhone 6s with the household budget set aside for my new dining table *spitting* and found that he can still make telephone calls, text and take photos with it. *Hope it was worth it.*
  • Another diner moans about a screaming baby in a restaurant and is crucified for political incorrectness. Another woman leaves her newborn for a night out and is accused of being a bad mother.
  • Scarborough wine has yet to approach me to become a brand ambassador in spite of keeping them in business for the past ten years. *What are they thinking?*
  • Sydney jumped to the naive conclusion AGAIN this week that one Moslem’s actions are representative of the majority.
  • Thought about buying a Fitbit; realized you probably have to exercise.
  • Français : Macarons, Paris, France
    Français : Macarons, Paris, France (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Macarons remain one of the biggest disappointments of my life so far. *children excluded.*

  • My 10k walk on Friday burned 1000 calories. SCARBOROUGH FUCKING WINE earned =ten glasses.
  • Renewed my love affair with the dumplings (the Asian culinary equivalent of cunnilingus) at Din Tai Fung at the Sydney Noodle Markets.
  • Being able to stop at five rice crackers with a vat of hummus remains a life goal.
  • Boo, hiss, the Aussies got through to the next stage of The Rugby World Cup, which means the invasion of my FB homepage by sports news and commentary continues to plague me and inertia on the sofa for the old man again this week.
  • Turns out I am the only person in the world not to see Justin Bieber’s enormous penis online, and not for want of trying. For an embarrassing, middle-aged technophobe, learned how to delete the history on my computer pretty bloody quickly.

How was your week?

Dear Liver…

Liver superior
Liver superior (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Liver,


I’ve been an irresponsible friend to you over the past two weeks. Even I never anticipated the sheer brutality of the journey we would share together back in the homeland.


I assumed that my old friends would have matured in middle age – that we would mutually frown on the old excesses and the artificial influence to be had from alcohol that we used to depend upon, with the newfound wisdom to come from the ageing process.


But alas, it appears we still see ourselves as immortal when it comes to the choice between being sensible or getting shitfaced.


And there was so much to celebrate – the birth of a nephew, the engagement of a parent and the glorious liberation to be had from travelling alone for the first time in twenty years.


On the bright side, I have provided you with several wonderful new life-experiences to take home, too. There was that special bottle of Petrus to celebrate Dad’s birthday, those crisp French whites that complimented fresh oysters so well and the reassuring warmth of those several bottles of Australian Chardy that were shared with family who know us so well.




You might not believe me now, as you lie ravaged and spent after fourteen days of abuse, but I did try to look out for you when I could. I secreted mammoth glasses of water to my room at night, even though I was aware such an act was a punishable offence in most of the houses we stayed in as well as embracing arduous long walks in the British countryside in an attempt to combat the damaging effect of those evil toxins building up inside of you.


And I know you tried to warn me when you weren’t coping. Although, we’ve both fully succumbed to the pressure now, on this final leg of our journey, and been brainwashed into acceptance that three glasses of wine at lunchtime is a necessity to warm us up for the main event of dinner later in the day.


The problem has been that everyone remembers what fun we were in partnership during our youth – before life’s responsibilities, health concerns and middle-age set in, forcing us to become boring sensible. No-one knows that back then we needed wine to look confident and cool – that we didn’t possess an innate self-assurance like everyone else. So we had a reputation to uphold when we came back to the homeland, and even when you creaked and complained and flashed your warning lights at me, I had to ignore the obvious signs of abuse.


But we’ve had loads of fun too, but more importantly, we’ve survived it. And we can be good when we get home, protected as we will be by the fake wholesomeness of the old man and what he describes as his temple of a body.


And we need to be good role models back in Sydney, anyway, so that Kurt can learn that you don’t need artificial substances to have a good time – even though I still struggle to grasp that concept sometimes myself and fall embarrassingly along the wayside while trying to recapture my youth.


Thank you for being there when I needed you most, and for not letting me down. I promise to be a better friend once we get back home.


L x



School Holidays And Thinking About Wine A Lot

School Holidays And Thinking About Wine A Lot
The Joys of Cooking by Bucky Schwarz found on http://www.flickr.com


Now I’m not one to complain (!), but IT IS week four of both school holidays and the old man’s annual holiday from work.


And my living area appears to have been redistributed to accommodate that surplus of testosterone and morphed into a man shed. So much so that it no longer feels like my home.


The kitchen is a permanent bomb site – for some reason, neither man nor teenager has the ability to process the knowledge necessary to shut a cupboard door – there’s never any toilet roll and my sofa cushions keep being un-ceremoniously dumped on the floor, which upsets my OCD.




And Kurt has been permanently affixed to the sofa, watching endless un-educational and crappy movies, since we returned from our road trip. In fact, the only time he drags his body off the sofa at all is to raid our depleting food stores like some rabid animal that appears to suffer from bursts of insatiable hunger every hour on the hour.


Let’s hope an apocalypse doesn’t happen any time soon, or we’re fucked.


My fridge is almost empty – apart from the usual motley leftovers that no-one ever touches, like quince and olives, and it’s only been five days since the last food shop.


And how many times is it reasonable to ask someone politely to clear away their plates before you deserve to be accused of nagging? I stick to my usual argument about the whole nagging debate is that surely I wouldn’t have to nag if they just did what I fucking asked them in the first place?


I’ve tried to unstick my son’s lanky body from my leather sofa with all sorts of tempting enticements, such as lunch out, the cinema or a trip into the city, but he has told me that he would rather stick needles in his testicles than be seen out with me – (a bit harsh!) – and feels he has done his filial duty for 2015 by coming on holiday with us.


The old man’s timing has been spot-on as always. Just when he’s finally donated some of his precious time away from work-fun to spend quality time with the spawn, he goes and fractures a rib this morning.


Don’t even ask. That man can pull a muscle changing programmes on the remote.


He has spent the day lying on the sofa, moaning and wincing every time I look in his direction witheringly, next to the high achiever of a son he helped create.


Funny how he can still seem to hotfoot it to the fridge for sustenance when I’m not looking, though.


Unable to work in the living room, aka the newly-styled man shed, I have been reduced to working in our tiny bedroom and have wasted almost a whole day searching the Internet for a small desk to work from, so that I can escape the carnage next door. I found the desk I wanted immediately, but in an effort to save money, I have since wasted six hours this afternoon of what could have been paid work hours trying to find a cheaper version.


Time management, like money management – resolutions for 2015.


All I can do is pray that the old man doesn’t manipulate our doctor – who he thinks has the hots for him – into giving him a sick note for next week, and that Kurt gets a life at some point soon.


I’ve been thinking about wine a lot.



The Hangover That Stopped Me Competing In The City To Surf

English: Runners in the 2007 City2Surf running...
English: Runners in the 2007 City2Surf running up William Street, Sydney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While many smug virtuous people in Sydney were pounding the pavements in the City to Surf running competition early this morning, this sporting failure was lying in bed, head pounding, due to the worst hangover imaginable this side of winter.


I’m not proud of my behaviour or the fact that I’ve wasted a whole, precious day of my highly anticipated weekend in recovery.


Why do I continue to do this to my body when I should be old enough to know better? If it hadn’t been for the intolerance of my body to alcohol, I could have walked that City to Surf.


Will I ever grow up?


I’m disappointed in myself because I’ve been trying to cut back on my wine consumption for some time (48hrs), but as many of you (I hope) know, sometimes self-medication has its place in helping us cope with the day-to-day stresses of life; for the short term at least. I learned (again) today, when I vainly tried to quell the bile from rising up from my stomach by distracting myself with a marathon of the BBC ‘s Women In Love, that it’s probably not worth it. Although on the upside, it was healing to be treated to a veritable willy fest on tv, that only the BBC do so well.


This image shows a white wine glass (WMF Easy)...
This image shows a white wine glass (WMF Easy) with white wine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m still not sure why my judgment slipped last night nor why my wine radar didn’t alert me to the early warning signs of becoming the embarrassing lush of the restaurant.


Everyone knows that Margharitas and wine are a bad match as was being in a foul mood with the old man with free access to cocktails and the sympathetic ear of a girlfriend. And then there was the anxiety over Kurt, who was at his first rave and who had kindly informed me that he had consumed six Vs before 6pm.


But in reality, I know I only have myself to blame.


What seemed like a great night around drink four and five had quickly soured by the end of the evening. I remember closing my eyes in the cab back home before reality bit me squarely in the ass. I had Kurt safely next to me in my drunken fog of relief, and at one point I remember thanking God for such a wonderful life. In fact so relieved was I that I then decided to carry on the party at home, although much of what happened after the taxi journey remains a mystery today. I have been trying to piece together the rest if the night via a translation of the old man’s frown code that he has lobbed in my direction all day.


I found both my dangly earrings in one ear this morning.


I’ve consumed a dam worth of fizzy water and I’m still thirsty.


It has been a day of fear and self-loathing, never to be repeated until the next time. I have taken a solemn vow NEVER to make direct eye contact with another glass of wine until my birthday on Tuesday.


Is it really time to grow up?

School Parents Evening and The Wine Drip

Outside Guy's Hospital
Outside Guy’s Hospital (Photo credit: guy.p)

On the good side, the inhabitants of Maggot City are obviously in the process of re-strategizing and haven’t sent any more special envoys into the battlefield that is my pantry.


Perhaps they haven’t noticed that I killed a core member of their flying squad yet?


Their timing is uncharacteristically considerate because…


On the bad side, it is Kurt’s parents evening tonight and it is looming over me like a huge black and menacing shadow.


The early signs are not looking good and I have to go it alone as the old man is busy washing his hair.


Should I be worried about the letter that was sent home yesterday with a warning about lack of commitment from the Board of Studies?


I know that Kurt is trying (and you can interpret that either way) but it’s probably five years too late. Having said that, our little session of reading his Y11 English text (A Beautiful Life) together last night turned out to be quite entertaining. I think he now realises that it does actually help if you read the text before you write an essay on the subject.


It turns out that I have a hidden talent for Iranian accents too, although Kurt said I sounded like a Russian from James Bond.


But I did manage to ask him seriously last night where, on a scale of one to ten, (‘one’ being dismal and ‘ten’ being the sort of parents evening you would expect from an average student), he imagined his would sit.


He didn’t have a straight answer.


Apparently, some teachers are more tolerant of talking, shouting out and surfing Facebook than others.


I’ve got three bottles in the fridge and the drip set up.

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The Middle Aged Hangover Part IV

I may need to revise my own advice about choosing wine over food, after last night. Let’s just say that my memories of ‘Vivid Sydney’ aren’t quite as ‘vivid’ as they should be.

Hangovers can be a b*tch when you’re middle aged.

The Middle-Aged Hangover Part IV
The Middle-Aged Hangover Part Middle IV

Middle aged hangovers are one of the more tedious symptoms of getting older. While it might seem unfair to gather age-defining lines on your face and extra weight around your middle, not being able to console yourself with more than a few glasses of wine, is plain evil.

My excesses of those innocent-looking bottles of horribly cheap wine began to haunt me the minute I first opened my fetid mouth this morning, when the dog actually rolled away from my breath.

There are certain days in your life when you simply have to ignore the nagging need to cram as much into 24 hours as is humanly feasible, simply to fulfill some perverse notion of needing to achieve something every day. It’s as though once you reach forty, you need to treat every day as if it were your last, (in case it is) and so wasting a day (and relaxing, say) seems the height of decadence.

Today was one of those days, when the effects of alcohol damaged my whole raison d’etre and I was forced to concede the day for the purposes of recovery.

I am a loser. I admit that I achieved a whole lot of nothing today.

Hangovers are bad news; middle aged hangovers with kids/teenagers are brutal.

Of course I couldn’t admit to my still-evolving, adolescent brood (to whom I am normally preaching about the effects of alcohol over-consumption), that their primary role model was hungover. I couldn’t explain the real reasons for my lethargy, pallid skin-tone, need to remain prostrate on the sofa, nausea at the foul stench of dog food and inability to communicate effectively.

Fortunately, a pre-existing lower back pain issue seemed a reliable cover for my excesses as I planted myself in front of the tv, dog at my side, and erased all plans of ‘living’ for the day.

‘Are you hungover?’ asked Kurt with a sly grin plastered on his face as I began to explain the symptoms of Sciatica in depth.

I did manage to achieve a few things:  I increased the level of the old man’s contempt for me, slept through Jack Reacher for the third time, devoured my Maccas cure in five minutes flat (and without drawing breath), upset both my children and gained 2 kgs.

Am I disappointed in my juvenile behaviour? Do I think that other women of a certain age are still going out and getting sh*t-faced on occasion? Don’t judge me – I’ve already been punished.

Perhaps it is finally time for me to grow up.

I admit that I am guilty of still refusing to acknowledge my intolerance to cheap white wine on an empty stomach. Unfortunately, noisy bars where you can’t hear yourself speak (or anyone else for that matter) make me nervous and to allay my anxiety I tend to drink very quickly – the simile ‘like a fish’, springs to mind.

I never have days off. Even when I have a cold, I push on through coughing and spluttering, spreading my germs; stoically. There is little compassion in our house for illness – it is seen as weakness (or worst case, ‘neediness’) and in our family ‘strength’ is requisite for survival. I came from the school of ‘you only have a sick day if you need to be hospitalized’ type of parenting.

By midday, once I had accepted that the 2L bottle of orange juice and three cups of coffee and Panadol weren’t going to cure the hangover from hell, I sought a man fix.

Which is where those restorative powers of a good old-fashioned quarter pounder with cheese meal came in – my final attempt to cure the insatiable hunger (scientifically recognized as ‘the munchies’). Sometimes a girl simply has to do what a girl has to do – Darwin called it ‘survival of the fittest’ – and I needed that dose of cholesterol to survive today. I did mention in my last post, The ‘Replacing Food With Wine Diet’ For Women, that sometimes blowing the diet clear out of the water at the weekend is necessary for success. Today was one of those days.

Of course, the family folded completely without the nagging matriarch to organize them. Where was mum? Why was she lying on the sofa? Was she pretending to have a bad back again? You might think you get taken for granted as a mother, but only until you go down and all those on board go down with you.

On occasion, in order ‘to live’ you have to ignore caution and refuse to cow-tow to the effects of aging. Because when you are finally forced to surrender to old age, you want to know that you went out fighting.

‘Wine’ courtesy of Andrew Borodin at http://www.flickr.com