Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Avocado and crayfish tails

I am not sentimental. My husband complains about it a lot. "Don't go near her, Sam," Giles will warn my son as he toddles towards me, eyes shining, with his chubby arms outstretched. "Your mother doesn't like clinginess. Don't ask for a hug or anything, she hates that. That's not the way to her heart. "

"Oh fuck off, you dickhead," I will snap. But he is basically right. How I have ended up with the world's neediest husband and, in turn, the world's neediest toddler, must some sort of dastardly revenge wreaked upon me by some unknown force.

At least there's Kitty. Thank God for Kitty! She couldn't give a flying shit whether I'm alive or dead.

Anyway, I'm not sentimental. And I've never been more sure about anything as I've been about not having any more kids. I want to want to have more children, just like I want to want to enjoy clubbing, ski-ing and "girlie dinners". But I don't.

Yet even I feel a bit fuzzy about the passing of Sam's babyhood and there are real signs afoot that it's over.

His potty-training is imminent. So the little box-room off the living room downstairs, which has for nearly 5 years been a baby-change room, is from this week going to house a new fridge freezer. Our little integrated fridge in the main kitchen is ludicrously small and I am fed up of having to fit everything in it like a game of Tetris. It's just not a suitable fridge for a family of four (plus au pair).

We no longer need to give over that precious space in our narrow London townhouse to a luxurious lying-down changing area: these days Sam's nappy is changed in ten seconds while he is standing up. I would no more lie him down to change his nappy than I would lie him down to put his clothes on. So it's time for the changing room to find a new purpose.

The changing unit in Sam's bedroom, Kitty's old nursery, is also obsolete. It's a nice piece of furniture from John Lewis, with a little changing-area, space on the side for your bits and bobs and then a cupboard and shelves underneath for muslins, nappies, blankets and so on. My babies lay on it first thing in the morning and last thing at night, until they were probably about a year old. Both babies absolutely loved opening and slamming closed the little door and drawer and pulling out all the neatly folded sheets and blankets and throwing them around the nursery.

I was so pleased with that changing unit when I bought it. It was just right. I have many times been gratified at how natty a storage area it is and marvelled at its smooth surface as I wiped away the memories of some awful illness or shit explosion or analgesic mis-application.

I don't know why I feel any pangs of loss. It's going to a lovely new home. And I also have mixed feelings about that nursery.

Both my children have slept well in there - Kitty better than Sam - and it's a nice room with pretty wallpaper and a lovely en-suite bathroom.

But I have also spent many sleepless, anxious nights in there with feverish or crying infants. The carpet is spattered with old vomit stains. I keep, permanently, a pair of rubber gloves and a bucket in the bathroom. There are rows of bottles of Calpol and Nurofen and a clattery collection of plastic syringes that speak of your real purpose as the mother of very small children: damage limitation.

So the changing unit went. I agreed to the sale of it before I had time to think,  to regret and say no. It was collected while I was out. I had wanted in the days leading up to this to change my mind, to ring up and say "No, not yet, I'm not ready." But I didn't.

Because I know I won't miss it next week. I miss it now. I feel like I have given away a family pet. I dragged over the chest of drawers from behind the nursery door to cover the glaring gap - as glaring as a missing front tooth - under the purpose-built shelf that holds the nappies and wipes. And I will forget about it. I'm sure I will. By next week. I will have forgotten about it that soon.

I often forget about avocados as being the perfect diet food. I am STILL on a diet, a whole entire week after starting it. Lunch is always tricky. I am tired, hungry and ratty by lunchtime and at my most vulnerable to eating, say, a huge white egg-and-cress bap from Spence Bakery on Fortess Road. But today I dutifully bought a tub of crayfish tails and an avocado and had that instead.

I really wanted to get prawns but I have it in my mind that crayfish are some sort of ecological menace and you are doing the world a favour by eating them. But in fact, they're not especially nice and next time I will just get the cold water prawns.

Avocado and crayfish tails
serves 1

1 ripe avocado
handful or so of crayfish tails. one of those tubs, you know what I mean
some mayonnaise
some ketchup
salt and pepper
a lot of lemon juice - probably the juice of about half a lemon

you could also add a scraping of garlic and some hot paprika if you were feeling racy

1 Put the crayfish tails in a bowl and dollop over 2 tablespoons of mayo, a squirt of tomato ketchup, a pinch of salt, a few turns of the pepper grinder, a long splash of lemon juice.

2 Taste this. What do you think? More ketchup? Salt? Lemon juice? Keep adding and mixing until it tastes pretty great.

3 Slice the avocado and eat alongside your ecologically sound shellfish mixture.

Say, "Bye bye, Baby Sam":


  1. A tiny splash of brandy is what makes a Marie Rose sauce, I find.

  2. My congratulations to you for having a proper sensible head on, passing on still useful bits of kit to others, and acknowledging that one phase of your life is over so another one can begin.

    I was quite sentimental about babies until my second pregnancy was an ectopic one and I very nearly fucking well died, not a word of a lie, I was THIS close.

    Maybe I did too good a job of not looking back moist-eyed at the infancy of my darling one and only, a daughter who is now 34, married since she was 30 and who has no intention of having any children, not even a singleton, like she was. She and her husband agreed that this is what they both wanted before they even got engaged.

    So no grandchildren for me. Well, I have no God-given right to a grandchild. they are just the by-product of the process by which an adult child has a child in turn. But you'd be amazed how many of my contemporaries say they may change their mind or - even - there may be an "accident". I hope no-one says anything so very daft to you about a possible #3 at some point. It's infuriating...!

  3. I recommend half a teaspoon of horseradish sauce. And prawns.

  4. Oh I do have similar feelings about baby years being gone - although I am not there at all, I have a 1 year old thank god (joking!!) and a 4 year old and looking back at his baby years it's just incredible how far he is from them.
    But the good thing is that we live in the present and that's what keeps our minds busy whatever stage we are at.
    I find that printing photos, framing them and hanging them onto walls makes it better for me to integrate the past. Looking at old pictures can trigger conversations with your children about when they were babies and I feel as though I am reliving that stage again.
    My last blog was about "why I miss being pregnant" (am I being worse??) http://lauraslittlethings.com/2015/06/16/why-i-miss-being-pregnant/

  5. Tetris – yes, that's it exactly.

    I'm with Anonymous on the alcohol, though I use Rick Stein's recipe in Taste of the Sea for prawn cocktail with malt whisky. It gives a lovely, deep but subtle smokiness to the sauce.

    I am sentimental, but now I barely remember that my office was twice the nursery, where once our then small daughter tried to scale her wardrobe, tipping the whole thing towards her, saved from squashing only by its hitting her bed opposite, leaving her cocooned in a little triangle where – panicked by the loud crash – my wife found her playing happily.

  6. Excellent diet food. Yours looks like nicer version of the Pret version which is what I buy because I am lazy and because I can never get my hands on a ripe avocado at the right time...

    Also - what all the others have already said about being sad this blog is ending but looking forward to next one!

  7. Video of baby Sam. Ugh my ovaries. *Hate you.

    *Not really

  8. Ack, another excellent post, how dare you! You could at least *try* weaning us off gently before abandoning us to the doldrums of our own bloody lives. I will miss you. I will miss careering buggy complete with buggy board off the pavement or into the nearest lamppost whilst I snigger into my phone at your latest instalment. Breath is well and truly baited for your return.

  9. I share your sentiments on both having more kids & crayfish tails.
    Whilst I love my kids, I just know I don't really want to have to go through all that pre toddler angst & enjoy the fact that we can now go out for (partially) civilised meals as a family.
    I am always disappointed by crayfish tails & think that they sound a lot nicer than they taste.

  10. Great article with excellent idea! I appreciate your post. Thanks so much and let keep on sharing your stuffs keep it up.

  11. Excellent! Although I agree that crayfish tails are a bit soggy and shit compared with prawns.

    I recently quoted some of your other inspired and hilarious diet advice from 2010, when you were in pre-wedding diet mode. That made me laugh a lot then and is proving oh-so-true now!