Deb's Digest
Debbie Atkinson’s family life column, as featured in the Southport Visiter.

Friday, 30 March 2007

I wrote Gordon Ramsay's recipes off ages ago, after trying to make his cinder toffee. The recipe was ridiculous and I found I was being asked to add things that weren't in the list of ingredients. Since then I've stuck with Delia. But at the weekend I found a recipe for three fruit marmalade in the Telegraph. I followed it to the letter, bottled and labelled it. Twenty-four hours later it was as runny as fruit juice so I dug out Delia's marmalade recipe. She recommended double the amount of sugar that the Telegraph recipe had called for. So I tipped the lot back into the preserving pan and re-boiled with the extra sugar. Perfection! But why publish recipes that are never going to do the job?


Monday, 26 March 2007

The artist son and his wife have finally moved into their new home. Part of the removal process seems to involve hanging around waiting for funds to clear (why?) and at 3.55 they were round at our house tapping their fingers and swigging tea, waiting for the all clear. At 4pm the phone rang and at 4.05 (important this) they set off to pick the keys up from the estate agent's. They drove to the house, parked outside and rushed in to open the doors for the removal men. At 4.13pm they got a parking ticket, stuck to the windscreen by the friendly neighbourhood bobby. It bore the legend: "on the ocassion(sic) of parking to(sic) close to a junction." We'd have thought it was a wind-up but something told us it was small-minded enough to be genuine.


I've just had to fork out £4.70 to post a fruit loaf. Now I'll just have to hope it actually arrives. Three weeks ago I posted something by first class recorded delivery and it still hasn't arrived. Another claim for the Royal Mail to deal with.

Thursday, 22 March 2007


The homemade loaf cakes are selling well on eBay and I've now had bespoke boxes made to fit them! Anyone wanting to order a banana loaf cake / sticky ginger loaf/ lemon drizzle or rich fruit can email me at  They cost £4.50 (except for the ginger which is £5.) They are baked in 2lb loaf tins and are pretty heavy. The postage is £3.25 - they're delicious even if I do say so myself.

Monday, 19 March 2007

Mother's Day was lovely - everyone home. Beautiful presents including tickets to see Bryan Ferry next month - can't wait! While everyone was in one place we lined up for photos....


We went to Manchester to see Peter Kay in The Producers at the weekend. It was very, very funny - I just wish the man sitting directly in front of me had kept his huge head still.


ps don't click to reserve tickets! My web design skills haven't yet reached those dizzy heights.
While in Manchester I spent a fortune in Selfridges on yet more anti-wrinkle, anti-ageing creams. I must be an advertiser's dream - and yet, even as I'm plastering the stuff on, I know for a fact it won't make the slightest difference - I mean, how can it?

The artist son tells me that his cafe royal website has had almost 20,000 hits in the past couple of months. Amazing - mine has had 11,000 in a year!

Sunday, 11 March 2007

We've just had a couple of nights at the Black Swan in Helmsley - a smashing hotel with log fires and really beautiful bedrooms overlooking the market square and the castle. Only one problem this time - when we opened the door to our room we were thrown back by a blast of scalding air - phew! it was like a sauna. We flung the windows open and went for a look round the town. Whe we returned it was just the same. At 10pm we had to get someone from reception up to deal with it. At 1am we had to be given another room - talk about saving energy, Room 2 could contribute to global warming all on its own!

The usual queue was outside the Magpie in Whitby so we opted for the take-away version of fish and chips that AA Gill had awarded 5*s to - delicious. On the other side of the harbour we foolowed the smoky aroma and found the kipper smoke house. I wanted to buy some to bring home but my husband was having none of it - he claimed that the car would stink of kippers for ever more.


and then we went to Harrogate and saw a sea of crocuses (or should that be crocii?)

Monday, 5 March 2007


Keane were ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!! The London son had told us how good they were live when he saw them but they exceeded all expectations. And I needn't have worried about being the oldest swinger in town - there were people of all ages filling the seats in the MEN. Unfortunately we'd parked on the top of the top bit of the arena car park. We reached the car at 10.20pm and didn't move until 11.15pm - had we known, we could have gone for a meal after the show and still been back before the queue started to move.

Sunday, 4 March 2007


Blimey. We were practically on the stage when my daughter and I went to the X Factor show at the MEN on Friday night. We had a really good time, and amazingly, we both agreed that the act we'd absolutely hated on TV (the Scottish nits was our weekly expression) was the best on the night. The kilted McDonald Brothers had everyone on their feet. It's Keane tonight, so I'm keeping the Neurofen handy. Not for their bit but for the supporting band because from past experience I'm sure they'll be far too loud (oops, I'm sounding like my mother).

I've had another order for my banana loaf so this time I'll cut down on the packaging and see if I can make a couple of pence profit.