Sunday, 11 April 2010

Happiness (of epic proportions)

Whenever I write to thank someone for something these days, I always seem to do so ‘belatedly’, as in ‘A very belated note to say thank you so much...’. You’d think that a mother of two on maternity leave could take time off from drinking lattes in Starbucks to write a blog at least once a month, but sadly no. (Though as well as the lattes, I’ve had no internet or computer for four weeks due to the house move and a hard drive explosion.) So it’s without surprise that I’m starting this blog with a belated apology to Mrs Trefusis who so kindly tagged me on her blog back in January. The idea is that you write ten things about yourself (presumably without boring the pants off your readers) and then tag seven blogs yourself.

The task of finding ten moderately interesting things to say about oneself induces a strange form of writer’s block in itself. But then I was reading The Happiness Project by Gretchin Rubin, whose blog and one-woman mission to make each of us happier, inspired me to tell you ten things which have made me happy this week. After all, what makes you happy defines who you are. So here are a few of my favourite things:

1. ...starting with music. On Thursday night K, the Boo, and I went to the launch party of the new Scouting for Girls album. Here is my little rock legend at the end of the evening, totally rocked out:

He met the band, had his T-shirt signed by all of them, and I stole some POS material for posterity. I wholly recommend taking babies to unsuitable occasions because everyone wants to meet them, making mingling with strangers so much easier. (If you can’t manage a baby then try a puppy – it would probably have the same effect.) The new Scouting for Girls album, out tomorrow, is just as upbeat and happy-making as the last, so check it out, along with their blog.

We had to take the Boo with us because he’s still not touching bottles (strictly draught only). Combined with his party-all-night spirit, this is altogether proving to be very tiring affair because I never get a break (just deleted the caps...really need to get my rage under control). However, all the calories from breastfeeding (an alleged 500 a day) is allowing me to eat lots of chocolate, which brings me onto...

2. ...the subject of Montezuma’s truffles, which are a divine creation. A belated thank you to my mother for giving me their dark chocolate Eclipse truffles for Easter – they have been making me very happy this week. Their yummiest truffles of all time are Far Cape, which have a hint of Orange and Geranium - sound hellish, but taste heavenly. (By the way, if I was writing about ten very wrong things, then I’d include chocolates with alcohol. They make me want to spit. Chocolates should taste of chocolate and alcohol of alcohol. End of.)

3. Naturally, alcohol consumed in the manner intended makes me happy. Last night I was drinking a bottle of local wine from the Wickham Vineyard, at nearby Bishops Waltham. It was their 2008 Special Release fumé dry white, which goes particularly well with curry. Perhaps that’s why Michelin starred chef Atul Kochhar opened the Vatika restaurant at the vineyard. The Wickham vineyard is the first English vineyard to buy a chain of shops (they bought thirteen shops in Hampshire). Doubtless they remember the heavily pregnant lady who passed out after the tasting whilst paying for a case of wine. Low blood pressure (that's my story and I'm sticking to it. One day I'll tell you about my other passing out pregnant episodes.)

4. Hampshire really is a treat for foodies and has some fab restaurants, made all the more pleasing by one having to make the effort to find them, unlike in London. My discovery of the week is The Thomas Lord pub at West Meon, near Petersfield.

5. And when I’m not eating I’m probably cooking, especially if it involves chocolate and is in anticipation of friends coming to stay. This week I’ve made a delicious chocolate cheesecake from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, and some scrummy gooey chocolate brownies from a recipe I got from a cookery demo on a friend’s hen weekend in February (the Boo came on the hen weekend too. He really is a party animal.)

6. So as well as breastfeeding to burn off the chocolate calories, I spent most of this morning bouncing on the Impster’s trampoline. No one can be uncheered by bouncing on a trampoline (especially when you’ve just had a baby and it proves there’s nothing wrong with your pelvic floor muscles). But equally, I loved the boxing lesson I had on Thursday morning. I’ve warned K that I now have a mean right hook, which I think is how I persuaded him to take the children out so that I could write this blog. The only thing that would beat these is a round of bouncy boxing. We tried it at an army ball a few years ago and I can vouch for its happiness-making properties.

7. I was also connecting with my inner child, as well as my actual child, when I took the Impster to see The Gruffalo at the theatre. It made both of us happy for an hour, so I recommend it unreservedly.

8. Although it’s far from a new discovery, the Times Alphamummy blog is one of my absolute favourites, combining as it does the themes of working and mothering (not that I’m doing much proper work at the moment). This week though, I was made happy by being asked to write a book. As you’ll see from the lack of blog postings, it was clear that this was not likely to happen, so I politely declined. But I do have an idea for writing a children’s book, so must work on that. One true alphamummy is Maeve Brabury, mother of five (yes five), who must start writing her utterly fab Happy Housewife blog again.

9. And while we’re on the subject of books, I’m currently reading The Children's Book (and probably always will be), but I was made very happy this week by my friend G sending me David Nicholls book One Day. And then by noticing it gets a mention on one of my blog recommendations: Read Like a Writer.

10. A new pair of shoes can raise the heaviest of hearts, as no doubt Mrs Trefusis will attest, so I bought a new pair of Jimmy Choos this week. They make me happy some of the time. Here’s the story: I bought them, and realised even as I was paying for them that they weren’t entirely comfortable. So I took them back to the shop. But then I missed them. So this week I bought them again. I love looking at them, but am resigned to wearing them for only short periods, mainly when seated. One of my favourite blogs, Tollipop, which you must check out, has a very convincing argument against this kind of vanity. She asks ‘what kind of little old lady will you be when you grow up?’ and I’m sure to be one with bad feet. And finally, on the subject of fashion, I am decorating our new bedroom with a beautiful Vivienne Westwood wallpaper, which is enough to guarantee that I’ll always be happy in bed.

Oh dear, yet again a post which is rather too long. I hope it doesn't read like The Diary of a Nobody. I've lost count of how many blogs I've recommended now, but here is a final one: the diary of self-styled modern day Charles Pooter.

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