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

Monday, 31 March 2008



We had a good weekend in Cambridge and managed to squeeze in a visit to London to see our younger son's new flat. We walked to Chiswick and had a lovely lunch before he left towatch the boat race. He managed to position himself on Hammersmith Bridge and saw theonly bit of the race where Cambridge were in the lead. Then he saw his team Villa thrashed 4-0 by Man Utd.


We stayed at the Crown Plaza thanks to a bargain deal. Everything about it was fantastic except for the heating/air conditioning system which left us shivering on both nights. And fully-sealed windows spook me a bit.



We did the touristy bits and I managed to take pictures of previously unphotographed (by me)  bits of the area.The weather's been so nice since we got home that my husband decided to put the new patio table together. It would have been too cruel to take a picture of the result - although I was tempted. Suffice to say that after two hours of sweat and swearing he asked me to help him turn it the right way up. The surface was five feet from the ground and to have any chance of seeing over the top, our daughter would have had to have jumped up and down. The legs had been put on back to front.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008


The London son arrived back in one piece from his safari round the Lakes, accompanied by C from Harpenden (happy now R from W. Hampstead and O from Herne Bay ?) They got the best of the weather because today is absolutely foul. As soon as he plonked himself on the settee he started to plan his marathon rail journey back to the capital on Monday. Thanks to engineering works and Easter he'll be forced to experience the delights of Picadilly Station in Manchester and the scenery in the vicinity of Sheffield.


He found our coppice


Do we have another Wainwright in the family?

I've been out and about looking for all the "cheat" items that Delia Smith used in her crabcakes.  The ingredients cost a small fortune (much cheaper to make things from scratch). But I didn't mind too much because I look on it as an experiment. However I reckon it'll just be me eating the experiment because as soon as I mentioned what I'd done there were groans all round.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008



Nigel Havers and Diana Quick starred in Alan Bennett's Single Spies at the Lowry - very professional, witty and slick. The History Boys didn't excite me but this production was great. If you can catch it on its tour, it's worth seeing.

The London son is finding his way round the Lake District with the help of his dad's tom tom (pity help him). This meant that we had to get to West Kirby for our OAP outing under our own steam. It was actually quite pleasant being able to listen to the car radio without the sound being drowned out by 1) directions and 2) someone arguing with the directions.


Sunday, 9 March 2008


Eighteen months ago Innocent Drinks invited all its customers to write to their MPs asking them to consider reducing VAT on smoothies - an extremely sensible idea since their smoothies are only crushed fruit - and there's no VAT on fruit. I wrote to John Pugh, our Lib Dem MP and received a rather sarcastic reply saying that the idea was a non-starter because it would open the floodgates to other "healthy" drinks such as Guinness and Horlicks asking for reduction in the VAT on their products. Well, blow me down, the latest Lib Dem policy, as announced at their conference in Liverpool,  is a reduction in VAT in smoothies - I didn't hear John Pugh shouting Vince Cable down and heckling that his idea was a non-starter so I take it that now that Innocent have managed to get 20,000 signatures on a petition to Downing Street - which the Lib Dems see as 20,000 votes, the non-starter has become a policy. Cynical, moi?


I've always wanted to go to Crufts and last October bought tickets for the final day and Best in Show. I couldn't think how to break the news to my husband so wrapped them up and gave them to him as a Christmas present! Yesterday I kept having to remind him that he should be enjoying his present as he wandered around looking hot and lost and being jostled by thousands of doggy people. I have to admit that the novelty started to wear thin after we passed our hundredth Cairn terrier but it was worth it in the end, to see the overall winner being picked out. Every time I saw a dog I liked the look of I got a leaflet in the hope of persuading my husband that as empty nesters, a dog is just what we need. Perhaps that could be next year's Christmas present.

I had a shrewd idea that I would be on TV because I was right behind Ben Fogle and the boy from Blue Peter when they were interviewing people. As if by magic I got two texts simultaneously from both sons - they were watching the programme and took a picture of me from their television screens - the wonder of modern technology. Unfortunately their dad was nowhere to be seen because he'd chosen that moment to scoff a hot pork bun in the background.



Saturday, 1 March 2008



I like French and Saunders but hadn't really given their tour a thought so I don't suppose I can like them THAT much. I saw them plugging the tour on the North West TV programme though and thought it looked very funny - especially the bit where Dawn French sails past complete with skid lid on a stand-up scooter. So I booked for the Blackpool performance and we went last night. And do you know what - the bit with the scooter wasn't even part of the act. It was slightly amusing in parts but it was a bit of an ego trip for them and a bit like a junior school end of term performance. The best parts were the sketches we'd seen before on television.

The London son is now in his new flat - having moved all his possessions in one of Innocent's grassy vans. He put his mark on the furnishings by buying a stack of cream throws from Ikea. Only now he says the place looks as though it's ready for the decorators to start.