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

Saturday, 30 June 2007

The artist son and his wife were invited to the opening night of Sir Peter Blake's retrospective at the Tate in Liverpool. I'm looking forward to going.

Friday, 29 June 2007

I love my new lamp. In fact I was so proud of it I emailed this picture to the three children. The London son was the first to reply. "Ha ha, it looks like a jam jar."

Monday, 25 June 2007

The Knowsley Festival was all the more frustrating because as we were wallowing in mud, the Innocent son was basking in red hot sunshine in Juan Les Pins with his colleagues. Apparently there were so many planned activities that there was no time for bed and at 5am he was on a pedalo, having left his jeans, shirt and wallet on the shore. On returning to the shore he discovered that the aforementioned items were no longer where he'd left them. We got a text "I've lost my wallet". You can imagine the panic that set in on a Sunday morning in Ainsdale. But an hour later, by the time my blood pressure was nice and high, another text arrived "wallet found". After a boozy night and an early-morning stint on a pedalo, a friend had decided that it would be really funny to leave all the items in a lift!
There's a letter in the post and an email in the air. I'm asking for a refund. The Knowsley Hall Music Festival hospitality pack was an absolute farce. Everything we'd paid extra for just didn't happen - no VIP car park, no fast-track entry and the hospitality tent was so smokey that I ended up in the medical centre being given Ventolin. The mud was knee-high and there were so many drunks about that it was an absolute miracle to find a pair of eyes that weren't completely glazed over.
Keane were as good as ever, but even they can't raise the spirits when your feet are stuck in 12 inches of squelching mud. I just count myself lucky that we got home in one piece - hundreds of cars were completely stuck in the muddy car park and had to be pulled out by tractors. Nightmare, nightmare, nightmare. And don't tell me it's because of my age - I may be 55 but even at 15 I would have hated it.


Saturday, 23 June 2007

I believe The Trough of Bowland is the Queen's favourite place - and I know why. I just love the area, with its leafy lanes and rolling, lush hills. We went for a drive there yesterday and called first at Ye Horns Inn at Grimsargh for lunch. They do two course lunches for £9.99 and the main courses include local duck and pheasant. We just wanted a sandwich (one duck and one prawn) and a bowl of homemade chips - delicious.

After that we set off for Chipping and discovered the Little Town Dairy . I've made a note in my diary because once a month I'm going to go back and stock up on their meat. I got a fillet tail for what seemed like buttons and a huge piece of rolled rib of beef for next time the London son comes home! The place is spotless and the person serving me explained that the beef and lamb comes from the animals you can see in the fields; the cakes are made by farmers' wives and the veg is all grown in the surrounding countryside. That'll do me.


Some of the beautiful, fresh meat on sale at The Little Town Dairy

After a walk round the delightful village of Chipping we went to the nearby Wild Boar Park

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

We went to the Trafford centre yesterday and found an absolute gem - which has opened since we were last there. Carluccio's restaurant and deli. There are massive floor to ceiling glass cabinets to browse around, full of authentic Italian products. The deli counter has huge tubs of anti-pasti. I bought a big tub of broad bean and pancetta salad. For under £2 I got about 25 salami slices (my daughter says it's the best she's tasted). I cooked their dried pasta, threw in the broad beans and some poached salmon and the result was fantastic. They also have all types of Italian breads, baked in London every morning and delivered before the shop opens.

On the way home we visited Weaste Cemetery near Salford to see if I could find the grave of my great great grandparents and two of their children (7 months and 12 years). I found the plot, but unfortunately no stone - I might have to remedy that.

Earlier in the year I tried in vain to get tickets to see Sir Ian McKellen in King Lear at Stratford - his return to the stage. I've just discovered that it's moving to London for a limited spell in November. However, tickets don't go on sale to the general public until September. BUT if you're a full member of the Royal Shakespeare Company (£36) you can book from July 2. I am now a fully paid up member and can't wait to get my front row seats!


Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Today I delivered a clothes prop to the artist son. Yesterday I was looking at the space he'd cleared for a shed and couldn't quite believe what else I was seeing. He'd hung some washing on the clothes line and it was missing the ground by an inch. I asked him where his prop was. "Oh, is that what's missing, I thought the washing was a bit low," he said. I suppose we learn by our mistakes.

Yet another mistake was booking an £800 non-refundable holiday without checking that his wife could get the time off work. I'll say no more.

The Innocent son is off to the South of France with the smoothie makers on Friday for what sounds a fantastic weekend. I'm getting nervous about the weather for the Knowsley Hall Music Festival on Sunday - I have visions of a muddy Glasonbury-type day - not my scene at all.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

We went to Sizergh Castle near Windermere the other day - it was baking hot so first of all we parked (with difficulty) at Bowness. The place was full of day trippers and holiday makers. Queues everywhere and grubby-looking pubs. Give me the Yorkshire Dales anyday.

Before we went to the castle (it didn't open till 1.30) we had a lovely pub lunch at Crook, sitting in the sun. Our seafood platters were just the job - until that is, a dirty great dustbin lorry parked right in front of us and the men proceeded to empty all the pub bins - clatter and unpleasant smells. No wonder I was up all night with stomach ache.

The castle was bubble-wrapped for a new roof and the gardens were nothing to write home about. However, the pot of tea was lovely and I managed to get a few gifts in the National Trust shop.

The artist son and his wife have just had new bedroom furniture fitted - they've been married for almost a year. How come I had to wait 32 years for mine?

Sunday, 10 June 2007

For the second time in a matter of weeks I have been asked if I'm entitled to a pensioner discount. I sent a text to some friends telling them that I was going to book in for a facelift and one replied "No don't, it's your hair." A cruel blow. I've become accustomed to the lines on my face but had never considered that my hair was putting years on me. I feel as though I should just put a bag over my head - but then, what about the upper arms ......

We were so impressed with the Lowry Centre when we went to see Allan Bennett's play this week that we've booked for "Dad's Army" in December - I love the original TV cast so much though that I hope the play doesn't disappoint.

I never thought I'd see the day when our oldest son was going round the garden identifying roses or that he would become a huge fan of "Gardener's World" . Wonders will never cease.

My Alpine Sunset rose - I just wish I could put the scent online. 

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

The Tempest at The Royal Exchange with Pete Postlethwaite was fantastic. A great production. Before we went into the theatre my husband told me that if he closed his eyes during the performance, it was because he was thinking very carefully about the words!! - and he expected me to believe that?  Off to see Patricia Routledge in Alan Bennett's "The Office" this afternoon.