Glamourhood: Poop, there it is.

WARNING – The following post (the first in a series) has absolutely nothing to do with London or travel. It has everything to do with the sometimes awful and almost always hilarious things that are possible when you parent a child.


On Friday night James and I brought a curry dinner over to our friends’ house after their kids were in bed, successfully putting Leo down in their bedroom so that we could have adult conversation without interruption. We had so much fun that we stayed until nearly midnight, when we rushed a still sleeping child out to the car in the rain and prayed he would fall right back asleep at home. We were willing to pay for* our evening with friends – spent drinking gin and tonics, catching up on 6 years of life, and reading brief excerpts of books out loud to each other. And then guess what happened? Leo slept until 9 am on Saturday morning. More significantly, WE slept until 9 am on Saturday morning. These kinds of things rarely happen.

Because I am a weird and wonderful person, I decided that I would seize the day and…wait for it…deep clean the bathroom while Leo had his nap. I know, life of the party. I gathered supplies. I swept and wiped down the floor. Occasionally, I popped into Leo’s bedroom to remind him that nap time was for sleeping. But mostly? I thrilled to the idea of a clean bathroom. I was just about ready to wash the bathtub when I caught a whiff of something that shouldn’t be in a British bathroom (where only a bath and sink are usual, toilets being in the ‘toilet’). A whiff of poo.

It only took me a few minutes to realize that I had somehow trodden on one of Leo’s dirty diapers during a dimly lit naptime check-in. (I confess that I sometimes neglect to put a dirty diaper into out trash right away because of….so many things. No longer!). The top portion of my right slipper bore the telltale signs of a fateful misstep: poop. Leo’s poop. Let me be the first to tell you that a poop slipper can really temper one’s seize the day mojo. What will kill it dead, however, is discovering that you’ve left little poo footprints on the floor between Leo’s bedroom and the bathroom.

I spent the next twenty minutes on my hands and knees, using my iPhone flashlight, scrubbing the carpet with disinfectant and cleaner, alternately cursing and giggling about the situation. While it wasn’t exactly the way I’d envisioned spending my Saturday morning naptime freedom, it was kind of funny. I never thought I’d have to worry about stepping in a pile of poo in my own home until just then. And who would. (And yes, before you write to tell me about people who own pets, I know that pets defecate. There just seems to be something far worse about stepping in human feces. Or am I wrong on that?)

Glamourous, parenthood is not. But it is always interesting, and usually quite funny.

Until next time, watch your step! Ha.


*For those of you without children, a translation. “Pay for” – a phrase used by parents to explain the many different ways that children sense you are having/will have/did have a good time and then go to great lengths to restore equilibrium through canny schemes of not sleeping, lying on the floor and screaming in public, etc. You get the idea.



Treat Yo’ Self – Skittle Alley

The first thing you need to know about Skittle Alley is that it closes at noon. For whatever reason, this irks me. I know it is a silly thing to be upset about, but what if the only spot of (literal) sunshine in my day occurs in the after noon or my sweet tooth is a late riser? I will always have GAIL’s, but she doesn’t have your cobblestone courtyard and Thames views. Sigh.


The second thing to know about Skittle Alley is that it is totally worth the noon closing. One morning last week Leo, Emma and I made our way south through Chiswick Park and then east along the Thames until we reached The Black Lion, and it’s cute courtyard comrades- Skittle Alley and Little Lake florist.

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Oh the Places You’ll Go! – Bournemouth

Before we talk about Bournemouth I have to tell you about Postman Pat, our little red van. Postman Pat came with the house, and we are so lucky to have access to him. He is a wheel-chair accessible van, used to transport my dad’s late cousin until her death last year. Along with a cheerful exterior, Postman Pat boasts large windows, one rear seat for Leo’s car seat and ample room for a wheelchair.

With a visit from my sister on the horizon and Postman Pat sitting all eager to please in the driveway, we decided to research the possibility of using a wheelchair as our second rear seat, making Postman Pat capable of transporting four passengers comfortably. A few youtube instruction videos later and we were eager to go for it. It was going to be safe, cheap and perfect for individual guests. Finding a great wheelchair secondhand for thirty pounds was all we needed to seal the deal.

Two thumbs up for creative travel!


This bring us to last Thursday when we decided to head for the ocean, and my extended family’s flat in Bournemouth.

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Treat Yo’ Self – Gails’s Bakery

Remember how I was going to rescue Monday with good coffee and even better pastry at Skittle Cafe? Well, it never happened. Skittle Alley may be a darling cafe with a reputation for excellent broiche, but it has terrible hours. It closes at noon. Noon. It’s like they haven’t heard of afternoon tea. And it’s in England!

So there we were. Monday morning. 11:30 am. Bleary-eyes, bed head and jammies. We’d survived a terrible night with the dream of a delicious food adventure. What could we do but change our clothes, put on our hats and “head outside for an adventure,” a phrase that always saves the day. We made a beeline for the high road, and a cafe bakery that I’d had my eye on since day one – GAIL’S Bakery.

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UPDATE: Wild Foxes

You guys! Yesterday afternoon I was sitting down to a mug of cold medicine (this deserves its own post) when what did I spy with my little eye on the garage roof of the house opposite? A FOX. A WILD WILD FOX.

As it peered into the second floor window overlooking the garage it was all I could do to contain myself. Was it admiring their curtains? Plotting a savage attack? Looking in on their afternoon tea?

We will never know, but gosh if it wasn’t exciting.


Blog Request: A Tour of Our Domicile

Behold! The house. Isn’t he handsome? (Just you wait for the spring, when the vines creeping across the exterior sprout their leaves. It’s going to be extremely quaint). This is the Lupton family home, located just north of the Thames, and west of Chiswick Park. A wealthy suburb of the great bustling city of London to the east, Chiswick is home to London’s oldest brewery (Fuller’s), a variety of excellent cafes and bakeries (thank goodness), fancy cars, Michelin-starred restaurants and – for the next five months – us.


My great aunt and uncle bought this house after the war, and their son Jude has lived here ever since. It is quirky, old, and beautiful. Each room is filled with art, train paraphernalia and antique furniture.

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But how are you really doing?

If you have ever met my parents you know that this question is lurking just around the corner from, “You can put your coat on the bed in Emma’s old room” and, “Do you want something hot to drink?” You’ll be shooting the breeze – proclaiming your love  for European butter, for example – when out of nowhere SHAZAM! There it is: “But how are you really doing?” This question is one of things that makes my parents awesome.

Today is the first day of our third week in Chiswick. Leo and I have been struggling to rid ourselves of a nasty head cold all week, so that has rather dampened our enthusiasm for adventure. But no longer! As a treat for an unexpected tantrum between midnight and 2:45 am this morning I am taking the both of us on a Thames walk to Skittle Alley*, a gorgeous little cafe and bakery nestled in the courtyard of the stately Black Lion pub. Tired mother: treat yo’ self! #parentingtip

Despite the head cold, and the tantrum(s), we are settling in well. Instead of proving a hindrance, toddler rhythms are surprisingly conducive to making a fresh start in  a new place. They mean that you just have to get on with life. You unpack all of the bags. You find the best parks. You buy Cheerios. You stop to wave at airplanes. You “go outside for an adventure” every day, rain or shine. You make food. You nap. You find the best coffee. You pop into bookshops and thrift stores. You explore your new surroundings with relentless energy. Every day is a chance to discover something exciting.

I really love this kind of travel, the kind of travel that means you get to put your clothes into drawers and sleep in the same bed each night. I love getting to know a new place by walking and walking and walking and slowly wearing a groove into a neighborhood with my own feet. It’s how I make a place mine. Someone asked me the other day what was on my list of things to do while we were here and I realized that I wasn’t looking forward to art galleries or museums or shows or the coolest bars or any of the things on the usual lists. I was looking forward to discovering the things about Chiswick, and London, that would become my places and space to call home. I’m good at this kind of travel, and I can’t wait to tell you more about it.


*This will hopefully lead to the first post in my TREAT YO’ SELF cafe and bakery series. Skittle Alley, your name is so cute! Please live up to the hype.

Fatty fat fat: An Ode to English Butter

I used to think that my husband’s penchant for cold toast – shared by pretty much all of the inhabitants of this little island we now call home – was gross. The only upside was that when we made brunch for a crowd in our 2-slice toaster, he was happy to eat the pieces made first, which were dry and cold by the time we sat down to eat. Thank you, husband.

My argument against cold toast was simple: Cold toast doesn’t melt butter. Gross.

Then last week we went and bought a sunlight-yellow brick of salted farmhouse butter from Sainsbury’s. Item crossed off shopping list, tra la la la. No big deal. Home for tea.


People, this butter is so good that I have changed my mind on toast! After 32 years. This butter is delicious, slightly sweet and nutty. It tastes like sunshine. Instead of treating this butter in a utilitarian fashion – to  soften toast, to melt into pancake batter – I have come to treat this butter with reverence. When I am done shaving thin slices of butter onto my cold (!) toast, I gently wrap the butter back up into its wrapping the way you might tuck a small child in for the night. This morning I had some butter on two slices of cold !) (still so surprised by this) toast with a smear of blackberry jam. It was heaven. I am a woman changed.

After a bit of research (ok, Googling) I discovered that the main reason for this is fat. Delicious fatty fat fat. On average, British butter has a higher fat content than its Canadian counterparts. Even though this is usually just 3-4 percentiles, it makes a huge difference. A huge delicious difference.

Thank you fatty fat fat. You changed my mind on toast.

PS Because everyone should experience the wonder that is this video —

Wild Foxes

Reynardism is a thing, people. At least it is a thing here in Chiswick, where wild foxes roam free (and I’m not just talking about our family).

Lest you think this is all fun and games, let me direct your attention to this article from the Telegraph. There are an estimated 10,000 wild foxes skulking* around the streets of London. They rifle through trash, terrorize pets and have made brazen attacks on small children. Yes, you read that right.

“Nine-month-old twins Lola and Isabella Koupparis were hospitalized with face and arm injuries after a fox had entered their North London bedroom in 2010. Last year four-week old Denny Dolan needed to have his finger reattached after he was bitten by a fox near Bromley.”

Concerned citizens are petitioning politicians, keeping their pets inside, and hiring snipers. Yes, snipers. Regular men are taking to the streets, guns in hand, on a mission to kill. The fox hunt is back, and it’s not about rich white guys on horses anymore.

It is against this backdrop that we arrived in Chiswick, knowing that my dad’s cousin – our host for the school term – not only loved these foxes, but fed them. From the front stoop. Leftover bones from our roast chicken dinner? “The soft bits might make some quadrapeds I know quite happy.” Package of cornish pasties sitting on the dining room table? Not for human consumption.  In his mind, and the minds of many others, the foxes were here first. They are only claiming what is theirs. And who wouldn’t enjoy a cornish pasty on the stoop of a beautiful brick home in Chiswick?

So far we haven’t seen any foxes, although the food always disappears. We did manage to hear them during some time change insomnia our first week here. Theirs is a kind of high-pitched yipping that sounds like a raspy-voiced woman screaming for help, or wailing at a funeral. It’s not that pleasant, actually.

We’re not that worried about the foxes, and I tend to agree with our host about the whole they-were-here-first situation. That said, I think we’ll keep our windows shut while we sleep just for now.


*Skulk – group of foxes, also known as a leash.


And welcome. Thanks for popping by. With any luck, this space will soon start looking like a proper blog – with widgets and photos and such. Until then, you are stuck with words on a screen from your truly.

Deal with it. I’m the boss of this blog.

More soon.