A Year In The Life of Little Girl

I cannot believe that yesterday was Little Girl’s first birthday. Everybody tells you that years fly by when you have kids and they are not wrong!

The baby months have been incredibly precious and I have loved almost every minute of it. This, watching a baby turn into a little person in a matter of months, has at times felt like a momentous scientific experiment in which I was a mere spectator. The truth is, there is a part of me that let out a huge sigh of relief when I realised that she was going to learn new things and grow up without needing as much direction from me as I first thought. As a parent, you either really don’t have a clue what you’re doing, or have vague ideas of what you would like to do with your child, and I personally found it reassuring to know that she would learn to crawl, walk, talk, etc with only a bit of encouragement from me; that most babies instinctively learn these things.

And so here we are. I give you 12 months of Little Girl:

What a difference 12 months make!

To celebrate her birthday, we decided to have a picnic in the garden and invite friends and family rather than focus it on the children. So Saturday was as much about us having survived the first year as it was about her turning a milestone, and it was a relaxed (but heaving) affair. I figured that we would have plenty more opportunities for kids’ parties in the future and that she wouldn’t remember any of it anyway… I know, I’m a terrible parent!

In Britain, children’s parties are pretty full on: halls are hired, clowns and bouncy castles are bought in and party bags are given to each child; these bags tend to contain a piece of cake and a present. And here I was thinking the cake was going to be the highlight! Whilst I want my daughter to enjoy her parties, I feel intimidated by the cost and the work-intensive quality of English parties and I am reluctant to bow down to pressure to conform. I can always do it differently and blame it on being French! I do recall it being more easy-going in France, although it was such a long time ago it may well have changed since then. I went to a number of parties where the afternoon consisted of cake, face painting and playing hide-and-seek whilst the parents sat in the garden enjoying a cold glass of wine, and that sounds more like my kind of party if I’m honest!

In any case, it was a fantastic day. For one thing, it was the first day of good weather since May so we could sit in the garden, which was just as well because I had done a general invite on Facebook and loads of people came! Kids played in the garden and were given a small bag of Haribo sweets. We ate jacket potatoes with lots of fillings and more cake than is healthy. We had briefly toyed with the idea of a barbecue, but had the weather been bad, it would have been a disaster.

Then there was the cake. My plan was to make a chocolate cake filled with cherry jam and buttercream. This is the first attempt:

Cake Fail

On the list of cooking failures, this one had: a foolish attempt to double the recipe, a tin with no bottom and cheap chocolate. The result was a horrible goo swimming in butter and splattered at the bottom of the oven.

The second attempt used this amazing chocolate cake recipe and the buttercream from this one, swapping the vanilla essence with light cherry juice. At 11pm, the cake was finally cooked and the end result on the day was pretty good considering my lack of skills in the icing department.

Chocolate Birthday Cake
Need to practice handwriting a bit more
girl and chocolate cake
More cake! Now!



And so it was that Little Girl was one year old.


How my roar turned into a whimper

A quick post from me today; it is half-term and having my teacher husband home has disrupted my life in a good way but it means I haven’t had much time to sit down and write – well, that is what I tell myself anyway. I could more truthfully perhaps blame my Kindle: I have been reading the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin and I am completely addicted. Still, in between this and that of not doing very much at all, my inner feminist has managed to suffer a severe blow to her self-belief as a good old ‘I too can kill the beast’ woman.

I am quite the unapologetic carnivore; having grown up in France, I have been used to eating such things as rabbits without ever feeling any of the ‘poor little bunnies’ stigma that seems to affect most British people I have come across. I honestly believe that if it came to it and that I had to hunt and kill my own food to survive, I would do it and I would be OK with it. But what is all well and good in theory is, well, just theoretical after all, as I now know.

It all came to a head yesterday when I went to the kitchen to cook the fish I’d bought at the supermarket. We quite often buy whole fish in our house, particularly rainbow trout as it comes much cheaper than salmon fillets and tastes great. It’s an easy dish; bang the whole thing in the oven on a bed of tomatoes and capers with a bit of white wine and lemon and you have yourself a tasty lunch in 20 minutes. Yesterday I went to prepare lunch and realised to my horror that the fish was not gutted. It felt Very Wrong in my hands. Usually, I don’t even have to ask, the fishmonger either asks if you want it done or the fish is already prepared. We have bought a lot of fish over the years and it is the first time it wasn’t gutted. But I braced myself and thought ‘that’s OK, I can do this, it’s only guts and gore’. So I tried, oh my goodness people, I really tried. But I’d never gutted a fish before and my knife was not very sharp. The whole thing was disgusting, very fishy and gooey and I made only a small cut and all this stuff came out and oh my god I am not cut out for this and I think I feel a bit ill and HUSBAAAAND! I don’t think I can do this! Waaaaaiilll!

So there. I failed. I didn’t gut the fish. Badgerman tried and later told me I shouldn’t come to the kitchen as it was ‘not a pretty sight’ and we should probably eat something else for lunch. It’s not like I even had to kill the fish; the job was already half done! I felt a bit sorry for myself after that, strangely sad and ashamed that I let myself down by being afraid of a bit of smelly sea life.

And still somehow at the back of my mind I think that if my survival depended on it, I would kill the beast. I would, through gritted teeth, gut the fish. But maybe first, I should sharpen my knife and take a few practical lessons with Bear Grills.

An image of a rainbow trout derived from the p...
The Beast that bested me (Image via Wikipedia)