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

Sunday, 31 May 2009


The weekend was  a hot and a happy one with all the family here. We made the most of the weather with a barbecue. Oscar tucked in with gusto.  He seems to love just about every food known to man, but his particular favourites seem to be melon, cucumber and hard boiled eggs. Strawberries took him by surprise, and I wish I'd had a camera to picture the look on his face.

His uncle saw a big difference in him, although when asked by Oscar's mum to pin down the biggest difference, he said: "his hair's longer" - not quite the response we'd expected!



Uncle and nephew are re-acquainted

Oscar's dad isn't a football fan, in fact he's allergic to footballs so he's not thrilled that Oscar seems to have the legs of a premier leaguer. The London son is determined to get him playing for Villa.


Oscar is carried off the pitch


Man of the match

Tuesday, 26 May 2009


The artist son is back from Porto where he has a solo exhibition in a new gallery. He tells us that he was treated like royalty, ferried everywhere, wined, dined and feted. The evening before the exhibition opened he gave a masterclass to a cinema full of art lovers. It all sounded  so exciting that before we'd had time to calm down, we'd booked flights to Porto to see it for ourselves. The flights were described as "free" on the Ryanair site, of course they are anything but free. Still, £60 will get us there and back (hopefully) and now it just remains for us to find a hotel which is also "free".




daddy draws on the window.....


and Oscar wipes it off.....



Oscar was the star of the show

Friday, 22 May 2009


We were very proud parents once again last weekend when we saw our younger son graduate for the second time at Cambridge. It was lovely to be a part of everything - the Latin ceremony, the meeting up with old faces and just the sunny happiness of all that is Cambridge. I have the funniest feeling that I'm being led down the garden path by some of our son's friends who insist that they slaveishly follow this blog - boys, you must start going out more.




A Deb's Digest reader......


Thursday, 21 May 2009


Oscar is in Portugal


With his mum and dad of course. The artist son has a solo exhibition at a gallery there and will also be giving a master class - I hope they all speak English.


The London son applied for tickets for us to go to a recording of Mastermind in Manchester. We were lucky enough to get two tickets for two episodes being recorded back-to-back on Wednesday evening. It was all very interesting and since we were given seats behind the contestants (just behind the fourth contestant) I'm sure we'll get our moment of fame when the programmes are aired. On television, the black chair looks daunting and I've always felt really sorry for the contestants - but it's not like that at all, it's all very cheery and amusing, with a warm-up man cracking gags at every opportunity. We were even handed Kit Kats and orange juice between recordings. One contestant fell off the stage while sitting in his chair, but I'm pretty sure they won't show that!


After leaving Cambridge  on Saturday we stayed for four nights at The Plantation, a self-catering cottage in the middle of an oak forest


the view from our windows

While I was making breakfast one morning, I glanced out of the patio window and two baby deer were staring in at me. Unfortunately on the first day of our little holiday we went to Great Yarmouth - this loathsome place then tended to colour our opinion of Norfolk as a whole, which was a shame because we did manage to find two or three decent areas - eventually.

The highlights were fresh crab sandwiches at an old and very basic  fisherman's pub in Blakeney


and a visit to Walsingham where we went into the Slipper Chapel just as a service was beginning (or rather I did, my other half went walkabout).


As we were leaving and we rounded a corner, my husband almost knocked down a pilgrim who had probably walked hundreds of miles and was just yards from his destination.

We managed to track down a Sunday Times at about the 30th newsagent's we'd tried and I was pleased to see my letter to Winners Dinners had been published - but the sub editors had worked hard on it, knocking out more than half.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009


Well, what an afternoon we had yesterday. I had been mystery shopping in Liverpool late morning and then we wanted to sort out an automatic watering system for the garden at Taskers DIY store in Aintree. I was starving after the mystery shopping so we decided that we'd have a sandwich at a pub not far from Aintree. After lunch I set the Tom Tom using the postcode for Taskers taken from their website. After ten minutes it was very clear that we were not being led to Aintree. We went through the most frightening areas of Liverpool I have ever seen  - they made "Shameless" look like Shangri La. Forty minutes later we ended up at the Wavertree branch of Taskers (my fault I suppose). But the lengthy journey had given us time to discuss the irrigation system and we'd decided we were prepared to pay up to £200 for everything.

We found the products but needed loads of help in choosing which bits we required. The only assistant I could see was around 70, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I approached her clutching one of the packets from the shelf and asked if there was anyone who could help. "what'cha want help with?" Good start. I explained that I needed information about the watering system. She snatched the packet from me, screwed up her eyes and was about to read aloud what was written on the back. I told her I could do that myself but needed proper guidance in selecting from the assortment of items on the shelves. "Well I don't think there's anyone who can watchamacallit," she said. She then had second thoughts. "Carl might be able to watchamacallit but e's on is lunch." So we left and Taskers are £200 poorer. When I related this episode to our daughter she said I should have told the assistant (or should that be sales executive) that the word she was searching for was "help" and hadn't she come across it in the company training manual.  Funny, after all these years I hadn't realised that DIY literally does mean do it yourself. The manageress has been informed .....

Saturday, 9 May 2009


My mother has just rung (8am Sunday) to ask me what time she should ring our daughter to wish her happy birthday. "It's not her birthday until tomorrow and you're coming here today for lunch," I reminded her. "Yes, but I thought since I'd be bringing her present today, we were calling today her birthday." No Mum, her birthday is May 11th and will remain so all the days of her life. AAAArrrrgggh.


We spotted the London son on tv again yesterday - it won't be long before they give him his own show. This time he was at the Fulham-Villa game. I don't think he's been to a game this year where Villa have won. We discovered that by pressing a red button on the tv handset  we could watch the game in full and then by pressing a different button we could pause the picture (if we were fast enough) when he was on the screen. Then we could all gather round the screen and point to him.

You'd think he lived on the other side of the world. In fact we'll be seeing him in real life next weekend when we attend his second graduation ceremony in Cambridge. We've been assured that there will be other parents there but we've promised to leave the video camera at home this time.

Friday, 8 May 2009



After two hours with grandma and grandad........ we felt the same.

Thursday, 7 May 2009


Just back from Stratford after seeing the RSC's production of As You Like It. Brilliant. Minimal scenery means the audience can concentrate on the acting and the genius of Shakespeare.


We did a tour of Cotswold villages and I managed to find the Wickhamford Manor childhood home of James Lees Milne, whose diaries I've been reading.



Yesterday we had playtime with Oscar - who has now mastered the art of rolling over and chattering non-stop.


I've spent hours in the greenhouse and lots of money on compost, transplanting lettuces and baby geraniums. I've even been carrying them in and out of the sun. All to no avail. The geraniums are still the size of a pea and the lettuce leaves would just about feed a not-very-hungry snail.

The London son put our names down for tickets to see the recording of Mastermind in Manchester. Somehow we've managed to get six tickets for different recordings. I'm looking forward to it, and we get kit kats and tea in the interval! Unfortunately, we won't be able to wave to the cameras or wear colourful clothing so that when we watch the episode on TV we can spot ourselves - the dress attire is "dark". Mind you, I can't remember ever seeing a member of the Mastermind audience waving to a camera - I would have been happy to be the first.

We saw our son and his girlfriend on the second episode of "Tonight's The Night" with John Barrowman and I was even able to pause the video when they were in the spotlight. Am I sad?

Talking about sad. We passed Les Dennis in Liverpool the other day. He looked like a down-and-out, fat and miserable. What a shame. I felt like taking him for a coffee. We're going to see him in a Noel Coward play at the end of the month, I hope he's brightened up by then.