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

Wednesday, 26 November 2008


After a delicious lunch of very rare roast beef sandwiches and big fat homemade chips at The Bay Horse Inn, Forton,


we made a huge mistake and drove down the motorway to Botany Bay - an enormous converted mill over five floors, which I thought housed millions of antiques. Tha car park was rough and flooded and once inside we joined a handful of other bewidered souls, wandering around deserted booths and stalls. We felt like The Survivors. It was most depressing and has now joined our ever-growing list of places we never want to visit again.

It was lovely to have the London son home for the weekend and Oscar managed a few beaming smiles for him.


BY juggling plates and dishes around, I have at last found a home for my Royal Copenhagen dinner service. I now have three huge boxes of old crockery waiting to be taken to the charity shop and 25 items on eBay  and my mother says she will never visit our house for a meal ever again as she refuses to eat off a plate that I've told her is worth £200. Well, she'll just have to bring a plate of her own, while the rest of us dine in style.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008



We had a run out to the Yarrow Valley yesterday (we stumbled across it, while looking for somewhere else) and had a lovely walk in autumnal countryside - we've made a mental note to take Oscar there for a picnic one day.

Right next to the country park is a garden centre where they had the best selection of Christmas decorations I've seen and we discovered, the best warm buttered scones.


We had lunch at the Yew Tree Inn near Rivington - I'd read about it in Lancashire Life and was delighted when we saw sign posts to it and even more delighted when I spotted smoke belching out of the chimney. We plonked ourselves in the hottest seats, next to the blazing fire - bliss. The bar food was on the expnsive side but my piping hot bowl of curry and mango chutney was worth every penny and I'm sure by the time we left my glowing face could have acted as a beacon in the grey drizzle.


Meanwhile, for friends who keep asking how Oscar's getting on - here's the latest photo with his grandad.

Thursday, 13 November 2008



Back in May the London son heard that he'd won a place in the ballot for NFL tickets. Because he was at work, I sat by the computer at the allotted hour and swooped on Ticketmaster for four over-priced tickets. The tickets duly arrived by courier and our son and three friends set off for the match and the tail-gate party. An immense amount of planning went into the occasion with presidents' masks being ordered online and a morning screening of a film about the said presidents arranged. At home in Southport, videos were set and we all sat around the screen for five hours watching a game that none of us understood or had any interest in save that our son and his mates were there and we stood a chance of seeing them on tv.

So imagine my surprise - nay, horror - when, the following morning, our son sent a text saying that he didn't see the game because there'd been a mix up over tickets. Apparently one ticket (his) did a disappearing act so he ended up on the train home after the tailgate party, only to discover - too late - that the ticket had been found. If I was a cynic I might think that copious amounts of alcohol had been consumed by Messrs Reagan, Kennedy, Nixon and Carter and perhaps played a part in this fiasco but if not, then all I can say is that I thought it was only female blondes who were dizzy.

I think this was our son - although who knows? I wouldn't have been surprised if the lot of them had been flung behind bars.


I only go to the hairdresser's every five or six weeks but every time I fork out around £50. In these belt-tightening times I decided that that was too much and tried to think of alternatives. I remembered that the local college has a hairdressing department where students train for three years. I looked the salon up on the internet and found that a cut and blow dry with a first year is free; with a second year it's about £4 and with a third year it's £6. This afternoon I had my hair done by a third year student who was being assessed. This meant that she was ultra careful and that the cut was double checked. I'm sorry to report that the assessor failed her! I can't be much of a judge because I was very happy - but then I'd just saved myself £46.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008


We went to the Lowry last night to see the Royal Shakespeare Company's latest production of Romeo and Juliet. It almost goes without saying that it was totally superb. I'm never sure if I'm going to like modernistic productions and this was set in what seemed like the '30s but with the RSC you just forget about the costumes and even the settings because of the brilliance of the acting - and of course Shakespeare's words, which keep you on your toes all the time. The play lasted three-and-a-half hours and it seemed to be over in minutes. The only downside (does there always have to be one?) was that we were two of only a handful of adults in the audience. The whole place was taken over by school parties and teenagers who thought they had to giggle and wolf whistle at every opportunity - and also, eat. It seems to be impossible for some people to last an hour without stuffing their faces, rustling papers and swigging from bottles. I'm sorry if this isn't PC but the fattest boy in the world squeezed himself into the seat next to me and had a bag of wrapped sweets which he dipped into constantly. In the end I gave an audible tut. From then on he put the fully wrapped sweets into his mouth and then spat out the papers. I wished the London son had been in my seat because one of his famous glares would have seen the obese offender off  good and proper.

The London son - not glaring

Sunday, 9 November 2008


I love British Gas. I now have every radiator on and am basking in a gloriously warm house and I only rang British Gas an hour ago. Last week we registered for their Priority Call Out scheme which is only £2 a month. The engineer is guaranteed to be round by the next day and for £99 will fix whatever's wrong. Our boiler needed a new fan (proper price £200) so we're already in profit. What a fantastic service.

Oscar called yesterday and let his mum and dad know in no uncertain terms what he thought about the fact that they'd forgotten to pack his bottle.

Saturday, 8 November 2008



Even in the misty drizzle, the Yorkshire Dales are majestic and I've never seen such beautiful autumnal colours as I saw this week. We drove down windy lanes of burnished golds and deep shades of orange and the hills were an absolute delight - a patchwork of deep, rich hues. And thanks to the credit crunch, this time, when we looked in estate agents' windows we worked out that we could even afford a little cottage by a stream - if we sold all our worldly goods that is.

I've always wanted a piece of furniture made in the Mouseman workshop at Kilburn. We've visited many times and I've admired the workmanship. This time we saw the men in the old workshop, handcrafting the beautiful tables and chairs and carefully carving the little mouse on each one and I got my piece of - well, I can hardly call it furniture - it's a pin tray but it has the very same mouse that the grander bits have.

We enjoyed some fantastic bar meals in front of roaring log fires and went to all the places we love - Helmsley, Ripon and Thirsk. It's a real tonic at this time of year and it was not so nice to return home to our bitterly cold house with a broken boiler! Roll on tomorrow and the gas man.

Monday, 3 November 2008


I have received an apology and a £10 voucher from Whitbread - Costa Coffee - for the state of their Lord Street cafe. All well and good but we'll see if the complaint has made any difference to the level of grime before getting too ecstatic.

Today I received a text from my very clever five week old grandson, telling me that he'd but on another 4oz and now weighs in at 11lb 5oz.

Saturday, 1 November 2008



I don't know how they do this pavement art - very clever.

there's more here....


There was a thick frost here this morning and although we've had clear blue skies, it's freezing and it's Saturday and the gas boiler has packed up. There is no boiler repair man who is ready to sacrifice his weekend and come out so we'll just have to get on with it. Fortunately we opted not to have central heating in the conservatory so we've been able to drag the electric radiators in from there. I've now got two pairs of tights on enhanced by a pair of shocking pink bed socks; fleecy trousers and two jumpers and I have to say that I'm surprisingly cosy. The electric blanket is on and I have a hot water bottle at the ready. We'll show those boiler repair men...