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

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Four times a week there's quite a performance in our kitchen as my husband prepares his flask of coffee to take to golf. I've watched the coffee spill all over the work surface on many occasions and asked no questions but this morning I got my brain into gear and tried to work out what was going on. First he puts a sweetener in a mug, then milk, then the coffee, then it all (or whatever doesn't spill) goes into the flask. I'd sort of thought that this must be so that he takes just enough to fill a mug but I realised that he doesn't take a mug with him, he uses the top of the flask as his cup. So I asked; and I really wish I hadn't because his reply made no sense WHATSOEVER. He performs this complicated regime so that he can stir the coffee and distribute the sweetener. Now, a woman would just shake the flask, although since the golf trolley jogs all over the course, there's no need to even do that. I explained all that as politely as I could and apparently it's not the same - one day, when I can be bothered, I'll perform a secret taste test.

Thursday, 13 December 2007


I'm sure I must be one of Dad's Army's biggest fans - I know just about every word from every episode so when my husband said he'd take me to a stage production of the programme at The Lowry, I was delighted. I was a bit apprehensive though because obviously the television cast was handpicked and can never be bettered.
But the cast of this brilliant show did a really wonderful job and they had clearly studied their characters to the nth degree and had so many of their mannerisms that in parts it was almost possible to believe we were watching the real thing.
There were four episodes including the superb "Don't tell him Pike" and the one where there's a misunderstanding around Walker being a long-distance walker!
There's plenty of time to get tickets and extra dates have been added - it's a great way to start Christmas.
But what are they going to do about the Lowry shopping centre? The last time we went, it was deserted. Yesterday - a late-night-shopping Thursday in the run-up to Christmas, it was still deserted. What a shame.

I knew it would happen. This morning while only half awake, I squirted ear drops into my eyes. Just in case you're thinking of trying it - don't bother - it hurts.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007


If you live in the North there's still time to buy tickets to see Take That at the MEN - you'll find them on eBay and all I can say is YOU MUST do it. This was the best concert we had EVER seen. The glitz, the spectacle, the sets. Absolutely fantastic. They were on for a solid two hours and no matter where you sit you'll get a great view because half the programme is performed on a central platform - and then the boys mingle with the crowds. Great value for money - I'm tempted to go again.

We enjoyed a hot bratwurst at the continental markets followed by ten mini Dutch pancakes covered in a hot chocolate sauce. There are more stalls than ever this year - and some excellent ones on a side street opposite the town hall where you can sit at tables under heated lamps to eat you meal - much less crowded than the main site.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

The artist son graduated with a distinction in his MA this week so we all went along to the ceremony in Preston's Guild Hall and very proud we all felt too. This time he wore his cap and gown without any pressure from us (unlike the first time round in Leeds when it took every bargaining tool and bribe we possessed). So now he's BAMA and he reckons that's "Bummer" to a Londoner - Nice!

We went to the Classical Spectacular at the MEN last night and it was, well, spectacular. The performance featured a stunning new light and laser display, and joining the show for the first time ever was the young violin sensation David Garrett, watch out for his name because he is absolutely brilliant.

The baritone Mark Holland and tenor Paul O’Neill made the evening for me with their rendition of Bizets "The Pearl Fishers" - spine tingling stuff.

The Muskets and Cannons of the Moscow Militia made everyone who hadn't been before, jump out of their skins during the dramatic finale of the 1812 Overture with their thundering muskets and cannons, accompanied by an explosive indoor fireworks and ceiling-high flames. Brilliant. And this year we even remembered to take our Union Jacks with us.

While we were in Manchester I wanted to find a Jo Malone counter to smell the Pomegranate Noir fragrance that I keep reading about in the glossy magazines. I hunted one down in Harvey Nicks, sprayed a tester all over my wrists and couldn't smell a single fragrant note. Must be the old sinuses playing up again, but how annoying. We're back in Manchester tommorrow for Take That so I'll have to have another squirt then.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

My mother decided she'd had enough of the Northern Rock uncertainty so she wrote to them requesting her money back. By return of post she received a letter from them asking her when she'd changed her signature and demanding to see something else with her signature on. She searched through her bureau and came across two pink forms both with her signature on. The first was certifying that the rat catcher had put poison down round her patio and the other was stating that the gas man had condemned her gas fire! I can only presume that the staff at the Northern Rock thought that here was some batty old millionairess who lived in a freezing cold flat surrounded by rats, because her cheque arrived the following day!

Last night we went to the Tapestry of Music event at Rufford Old Hall. I had paid almost £100 for three tickets - a two course supper followed by Tudor music in the Great Hall.
We are National Trust members and we went along really prepared for a wonderful Christmassy evening. The car park wasn't lit and there were no signs telling anyone where to go. We stumbled around with other lost souls on the dark, muddy paths until eventually we saw a light in a window. We tried to find a welcoming open door or at least a sign but there were none. Eventually we were admitted but the dining area was cold and the main solitary light did nothing to create a warm atmosphere. A few candles on tables would have made all the difference. The food was hot and tasty. However, after the meal, we were again left to our own devices and joined six other people wandering around in the dark, trying to find a way into the Great Hall. We had been told by someone in the dining room that there was a blazing fire to look forward to. No such luck. The fireplace was dark and miserable and the Great Hall with its 60 foot high ceilings (that's a guess) was absolutely freezing and I'm sorry to report that we left at the interval. The musicians worked hard and had we been seated next to a big log fire we'd have been more than happy to stay the course.
As soon as we got home we lit the fire, got the coffee on and wrapped ourselves in blankets - it took us until bedtime to thaw out.