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

Saturday, 28 May 2011


Our London son is on a stag weekend in Tallinn. I must admit I had to look Tallinn up in the atlas. I've now managed to find a webcam overlooking the town (which looks beautiful - although I doubt if the 16 lads will be doing much sight-seeing). And using the planefinder web site I tracked the Easyjet plane from Stanstead airport all the way to Estonia. My husband must have been fed up with me telling him to come and look where the plane was - passing over the North Sea, now over Holland - oh look, over Denmark and so on. He rang the night before he set off and we asked what sort of luggage allowance he had. The answer was none - well actually, he had an allowance but all the boys had decided that they would only take a bum bag and that any clothes would have to be worn. So I had visions of them all with three pairs of underpants and socks, two pairs of trousers, two shirts, two jumpers and two jackets - just as well it's a bit chilly in Tallinn.


Every single day during May I have looked out on grey skies, often driving rain and all my beautiful plants and trees being bent and tossed in bitterly cold, gale force winds. Am I in Siberia? No, I'm in a seaside resort which is only a couple of hundred miles from where my cousin lives. But every time she has looked out of her window this month she has seen clear blue skies and a big yellow sun. Our friends have been on Skye this week and instead of seeing beautiful mountain views and sunsets they've had to contend with volcanic ash, torrential rain and gales that have ripped down power cables - leaving them with no electricity in their log cabin. The only slight comfort I can muster from this foul weather is that by the time we have our joint birthday barbeque in June, we surely must stand more chance of getting a dry - if not sunny - day.

We took Oscar to the amusement arcade yesterday. This was after ruling out his first choice, which was "Somerfield". On the way in the car I asked him what he'd been doing at his little pre-school class. He touched a little bruise on his cheek and said: "Oscar fell over". I asked him what he'd been doing when he fell. "Running."  I persevered - what had he been playing with when he was running: "a chain saw".  "A CHAIN SAW?" "No," he said giving his answer syllable by syllable for his silly grandma, "a DIN - O - SAUR". After a couple of seconds thought he added: "what is a chain saw?" I changed the subject.

Oscar's mummy was helping him to brush his teeth when I picked him up. He wasn't too keen so I agreed with his mummy that it wasn't nice to have yellow teeth so it was important to brush them. "Grandma's got yellow teeth." That's done it. A tooth whitening kit is top of my list for the shops today.

Our son who lives in London visited last weekend to see his new nephew for the first time. But first Oscar wanted a bit of his knee!

Hugo is now three weeks old and already he's weighing everyone up - especially his big brother who is desperate to give him some of his juice and a sweetie.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011


We went to The Lowry last night to help John Cleese pay his ex-wife $20m alimony.
For two hours he retraced his glory days - after giving us a droll potted history of his dreary upbringing in Weston-super-Mare. Numerous lucky breaks, he modestly maintained, were his rare advantage, whether it was landing a role in Half a Sixpence alongside Tommy Steele on Broadway - fresh out of university and flushed with the surprise success of the Footlights revue Cambridge Circus - or David Frost’s summons for him to take a leading role in the career-making The Frost Report.
The funniest bits were the well-remembered (by me anyway) clips from Fawlty Towers and Monty Python and it's prompted me to revisit my boxed sets.
But the whole idea of such a great entertainer having to come out of well-deserved retirement to flaunt his stuff for a few thousand pounds is rather sad. I hope he's learnt his lesson!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011


Another tvdocumentary appeal:

Mums - is your daughter a pre-teen beauty?

Cherry Healey show is looking to talk to mums with daughters for a new TV documentary about body image.

We want to talk to mums with daughters between the ages of 5 and 11 for a programme about body image. We’d like to hear from mothers about when young girls start thinking about their bodies and mums who want to encourage their daughters to make the most of their looks.

Is it important to you for your daughter to look good?
Do you want your daughter to have the opportunities to stand out in a way that you never had?
What does looking good mean to you and your daughter?

Whether your daughter wants to be an actress, a model or just loves dressing up - get in touch!

Please email  or call 0207 449 3242 for more information about the programme

Sunday, 15 May 2011


Roughly once every other month I get an email that says "Good news about your ticket" from Lotto. For the ten seconds that it takes to log onto the Lotto site, I believe that we are at last millionaires. But no, it's another tenner. That ten-second feeling is so good though, that next time I get the email, I think I'll delay visiting the Lotto site for 24 hours - or maybe longer - perhaps the feeling that millions might lie in a bank waiting for me to claim them, is almost as good as getting the cheque. I'll have to consult the psychologist son on that one.

Oscar is now at the age where his truthfulness knows no bounds and if he opens a present and sees that it's something he's already got, he'll say so. When Hugo was born just over a week ago, our daughter wrapped a lovely knitted dog called "Boofle" for Oscar to look after when his mummy looks after Hugo. Our daughter's not aquainted with Oscar's truthfulness so I briefed her, and told her not to be offended when he said "Oscar not want one of those, Oscar already has lots of teddies at Oscar's house." So she was fully prepared when, half way through pulling the wrapping paper off, the sentence was uttered word for word. But we gave Boofle a voice and he sat and watched Oscar having his dinner. When I next called at Oscar's house, during a thunder storm, he was covering Boofle's ears so he wasn't afraid of the lightning and "to keep Boofle safe".  When he visited us this week and opened yet another present from a friend and began to recite his mantra, I explained why it's always better just to say "thank you". Later in the day some cholcolate buttons were received at the door, wrapped in coloured paper. I cringed as he opened the package in front of the donor. "Chocolate buttons" shouted Oscar as though he'd never experienced them before, and he only needed a slight reminder before yelling: "Thank you!" Phew!

The truthfulness also extends to physical peculiarities. As I sat next to him in the car, he pointed to a small (tiny!) spot on my top lip and demanded to know what it was - in fact he stared at it for most of the journey. When he did avert his eyes, he said that Grandad had "very funny hair". When Grandad asked him if he'd rather get out and walk, he said Yes!

Sunday, 8 May 2011


Weighing in at 8lb 10oz, Hugo, our beautiful new grandson, entered this exciting world on Friday. He is a baby brother for Oscar who has already offered him his blanket and his juice.


As every hour passes he looks more and more like his big brother did at the same age.



And by a happy coincidence a letter of mine was published in the Times on Friday. So when, aged 21, he receives the edition of the Times from the day he was born, there will be his grandma's letter!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011


I've been asked to put this on my blog - maybe you can help?

I'm working on a BBC Three one off documentary on body image. In the programme our presenter, Cherry Healey, will meet seven women at different stages of life and talk to them about body image. The idea is to hear from a range of voices who ultimately represent what sort of a relationship British women have with their own bodies. We want the documentary to be positive, inspiring and thought provoking.

We are currently looking for women to get in touch and share their views and opinions and are particularly keen to hear from mothers with daughters who are perhaps starting to display body image awareness at a young age. Perhaps the mum herself is or was a big dieter or has body hang-ups that she has come to realise may be passed on to her daughter if she's not careful. She may or may not have already taken steps to make sure that negative messages aren’t reinforced at home.

We are also looking to speak to new mums who are feeling the pressure to lose their pregnancy weight and may feel that the way they look is closely connected to their new role as a mother.
If anyone is interested in taking part the best address for them to use is: