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

Friday, 31 October 2008


A friend said she'd been to an auction house in Liverpool where they were filming Cash in the Attic. Not one to be outdone, I went along today with my husband in tow. Again they were filming Cash in the Attic and I was chatting (as you do) to Angela Rippon. The saleroom was cold and there wasn't much that was worth a second glance - apart from an old 70-piece Royal Copenhagen dinner service, which was very lovely. Ms Rippon said she'd seen me looking at the dinner service and said she also thought it was a beautiful set. It was number 43 on the list so we decided to wait for that lot and then go. I know Royal Copenhagen and have a small collection and I expected the dinner service to be well out of my range. And it appeared that that was going to be the case when the auctioneer announced that he'd got lots of interest on the phones. He started the bidding at £120. I showed my hand at £160. He said the bid was with him at £170 and asked if I wanted to go to £180. I said no because I felt that the bidding was just going to get silly. "Will you do £175 then?" he asked so to be polite and because he seemed to be helping me I said yes. I honestly could not believe it when the hammer came down. Angela Rippon said she thought it was the best lot of the day and I am still feeling thrilled. All 70 pieces are now spread out on the dining room table and I just keep looking at them. And, I might add, that I have looked on the internet and my £175 has bought me £9,000 worth of Royal Copenhagen - jammy or what!

Thursday, 30 October 2008


Today I made gingerbread. I was tempted at one stage to take a photo of the mess that was all over the kitchen work surface. I never make biscuits because of past failures but I thought with Hallowe'en approaching I'd make some gingerbread men. I didn't have a cutter so had to treck round Tesco's aisles in search of one. The bargain of the week must be the huge tub of different shaped cutters for £2. The mixture was rather gooey to say the least, and the first gingerbread man was disabled so I turned instead to a star-shaped cutter. This was more successful and a rectangular one was better still. If they were on a cake shop shelf, I'm not sure that I'd buy them. but Oscar's dad paid a visit and polished four off including the disabled gingerbread man and our daughter asked for two with her coffee - a triumph. Now I'm getting adventurous and might just cover a few in chocolate.

I had another run-in today with a call centre in India. This time it was Barclays. I'd rung to complain about the semi-closure of our local branch on Shore Road in Ainsdale. As soon as I heard the voice on the other end of the phone a great wave of frustration overcame me. Imagine trying to explain something about Shore Road in Ainsdale to a lady sitting in Delhi. We got nowhere, which wasn't her fault but Barclays'. Why oh why can't I just ring my local branch?

Yesterday I got a phone call asking me if I would be prepared to be interviewed for a magazine or radio on the topic of sore knees. The lady who rang said that I would be paid £175. I said I wasn't sure that my knees were sore enough to warrant an interview but she persisted and said that I would receive the call at 2pm today. I don't know why. but one of my knees has been unusually sore all day, maybe in preparation for the call. Anyway 2pm came and went and my views on sore knees were never sought. I feel most aggrieved because I'd already worked out what I was going to spend my new-found wealth on.

Oscar had a four-week knees up at a Chinese restaurant. His mum and dad treated us to lobster, sea bass, cha sui,  duck, belly pork, abalone and king prawns. Oscar wasn't impressed and said he preferred milk, followed by another sleep.

Sunday, 26 October 2008




It's years and years since we even thought of visiting Hesketh Park in Southport. When I was a lad - sorry, girl, I used to be taken there with my parents and it was beautiful - a sensory garden for the blind, a lovely rose garden and a floral clock then the vandals and the druggies took it over so it was place to be avoided. Now, however, lots of heritage lottery money has been spent and the old days have been recaptured - gilded statues and fountains, Brent geese, ducks galore and even better, a brand new colourful children's area where Oscar

might be able to run around and play.

After our Sunday morning constitutional around the park we dropped in at Costa Coffee.  Another letter of complaint was been fired off when we got home. The place was absolutely filthy - tables, chairs, floors, trays, toilets, stairs and even the ceiling. The barista (or whatever they're called) was so busy trying to show off his skills that wet coffee grains were flying everywhere and I wouldn't like to know how many or what sort of bugs were multiplying on his apron.


Wednesday, 22 October 2008


We've enjoyed lots of meals at the Manchester branches of Wagamamas so when a restaurant opened in Liverpool One we were delighted and looked forward to lunch there yesterday. I ordered my favourite dish which is Chicken Katsu Curry and which is always piping hot and delicious. What a let down. The dish arrived looking a bit strange, the plate was cold and the first mouthful was less than lukewarm. It couldn't be eaten and had to be sent back. I was informed that a replacement would be brought in one-and-a-half minutes! Unfortunately the replacement was exactly the same temperature as the first. I think it was Michael Winner who said that everyone has an off day but the customer shouldn't be expected to pay on-day prices for off-day food.

Monday, 20 October 2008


Because the brand always goes down well as birthday and Christmas presents I decided to take advantage of the American Eagle 50% off clothes offer. The postage was pretty pricey but even so, the deal was a good one and the total amount in dollars translated very favourably into sterling. That was before I received an official looking letter from Parcel Force which informed me that if I wanted the parcel I would have to pay the grand total of £41 made up of VAT, import duty and an £8 Parcel Force handling fee. I rang Parcel Force who told me that the customs people check one in seven parcels and I was just unlucky. I rang the customs people who said Parcel Force were wrong and that EVERY parcel worth over £18 is liable for the duty. The only alternative to paying would be not paying and that would mean my parcel being returned to the sender. I'd still have to pay postage and then would have to try to get a refund on the goods. I was in a cleft stick so I paid up. What a pain.

Friday, 17 October 2008



Oscar rules the roost. His dad took this photo first thing yesterday and it speaks volumes!



The London son is home for the weekend to catch up with Oscar and he's been showing us some youtube videos - I'm going to have to reapply my makeup because I'm a wreck with all the laughing!

Sunday, 12 October 2008



Oh dear. Can it really only be me who has niggles after these nights out? I try to put my age aside and imagine how I'd have felt when I was 20. Maybe then I wouldn't have minded temporary deafness after a concert but I don't think even at that age I'd have expected to have my eardrums assaulted at a Boy George event. As it was we couldn't pick out a word of any of his songs or catch any of the, presumably witty, asides between songs. That was such a shame. He has a sweet melodic voice and that's what we'd gone along to hear but it was at least 30 seconds into each tune before we could recognise what it was - the speakers killed the whole evening. The best of the repertoire was Hare Krishna and that was because he joined forces with the backing singers to belt out the lines. My husband needn't have worried about standing out in the audience - the majority in the circle were our age while the "boppers" downstairs were in their 30s.

The only good thing about the noise level was that we couldn't distinguish any of the self-penned songs sung by the support act - Declan someone. Because he'd written the things himself we had no way of knowing whether they were good or bad but then he came to the finale - his version of Dire Straits' "Romeo and Juliet" - one of my all time favourites. He murdered it and then stamped on its grave. Shocking. At one point he apologised in advance for the swear words in his next song - he needn't have bothered because no-one could make out a single word, in fact to start with I thought, judging by his name, that he was singing in Irish.

Thursday, 9 October 2008



We've (ok, I've) booked tickets for Keane and because every time I see them, I want to see them again, I've booked twice - once for the MEN and once for the Liverpool Arena. I'm just listening to their new album and can't wait till it's out on Monday. I've also just booked for Coldplay in December at the MEN - a bit late in the day and we'll need our binoculars to see them and I'll have to blindfold my husband who has a massive fear of heights. But first, Boy George this Sunday.

Our daughter has asked me to be by the computer at 9am today in order to book for the Pussycat Dolls - never heard of them!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008


There's a new (well, it opened in March apparently, but it's new to me) Barton Grange  garden centre at Brock, to the north of Preston and I reckon it's the best in the North West. Every year I rant and rave about Christmas decorations going up too early but the selection of decorations at this place was so incredible that I couldn't resist them - so now they'll have to take their place beside all the others in the loft until the week before Christmas. The other irresistable things about this garden centre are the cakes - massive meringues, gorgeous buttery toasted tea cakes etc etc so we polished off a hearty selection and then made our way to the Plough At Eaves for lunch


The menu was better than the actuality!

After 24 hours of worry yesterday about a certain family member who has his savings with icesave, we were more than a little relieved this morning when our generous Chancellor of the Exchequer promised to bail him out. Thank goodness.

Oscar has us all wrapped around his little finger and here's another picture of him for my good friend Barabara, in New Zealand!

Sunday, 5 October 2008


I hate anything that makes me face up to the fact that old age is creeping up on me so standing in a long queue of OAPs which included my husband, waiting for a flu jab didn't go down well today. Anyway it's now done - along with a second jab for pneumonia so now I can dance the night away in the pouring rain wearing t-shirt and shorts - theoretically, my family will be relieved to hear.

Oscar knows how to dress for the chilly weather

Friday, 3 October 2008


Friends recommended The Craven Heifer in the Trough of Bowland so we went yesterday. I can hardly believe that there are still such smashing places within a comparatively short drive, that we don't already know about. Anyway, this place is now on our favourites list. I had a bowl of piping hot fish soup (more like a fish stew and full of delicious monk fish and salmon) with warm, crusty bread and my husband loved his battered fish with home-made tartar sauce in a big buttered bun. We sat by a roaring fire, overlooking beautiful scenery bathed in October sunshine.


Wednesday, 1 October 2008


We've just booked a few days in Bruges when the Christmas markets are on - can't wait. The hotel overlooks the canal and last time we stayed there every room was full of beautiful antiques (we didn't steal them so presumably they'll still be there). I'm looking forward to the moules and frites and the gorgeous beef stew served with hot apple sauce.


We might be able to pick up a few unusual Christmas presents for Oscar.

Now that the betting is over for the date of his birth, quickly followed by the time of birth, we've now resorted to taking bets on his future career - Harvard student, architect, quantity surveyor and musician have all been thrown into the pot. And through it all this beautiful little boy just keeps his own counsel and sleeps.