Friday, May 27, 2016

Mayhem in Madras

I'm back and am pleased to report that I did not get the shits in Madras. I didn't really want to leave India at all, the only downside being that the toilets left a lot to be desired.

We went over for our friend Sanjay's wedding (who's from Madras but now lives in the US), but because he is quite private I promised not to post pictures of the couple getting married, even though they are pretty spectacular.

Still, it was all so amazing I am posting some pictures. And here is my diary....

Day 1

Ever wondered what happened to Noddy? He eloped with Big Ears and now lives in Madras.

Shop like J Lo

Now, I am not a power shopper. I like a leisurely stroll through a couple of department stores, then a coffee, then lunch, then maybe I buy a pair of shoes. So on Day 1 in Madras I felt a bit like a movie star when I embarked on my shopping spree, because I was surrounded by an entourage - Sanjay's aunt, his fiance Abhilasha, plus the driver, plus John, my husband. We were to buy all the outfits I needed for the wedding. I didn't insist on dressing in Indian outfits, but they decreed that three outfits was the only way to go, one for each day of their Hindu wedding. No arguments, they were paying. And since there are few department stores, you drive from tiny store to tiny store. At a jewelry store where I bought some anklets, the shopkeeper was tearing up saris and removing the silver threads from them. He was going to melt down the silver threads to make silver jewelry. That was the first thing that struck me - the total recourcefulness, out of necessity, to reuse every single object. There is very little waste, and even rich people don't throw away food.

The first day was hair raising because no one follows any traffic rules or stops for traffic lights. The pollution burns your lungs and you watch in awe as the driver negotiates the traffic, often passing a hair's width past a motorbike, and narrowly avoiding cars that are casually cruising the wrong way up the street. Against a deafening cacophany of horns, babies and kids sit on the front of motorbikes without helmets. Madras is a lawless city and yet has an easy vibe. People are not stressed. There is no road rage or screaming in the street, people just drive in a very leisurely fashion. Sometimes you see a pile up, but it always ends well, with the motorbike drivers getting up, brushing themselves down and going on their merry way.

We went from shop to shop until I had a sari, one long skirt and a top embroidered with sequins (sharara) and one casual outfit, a long dress over baggy trousers (churider), plus jewelry. Plus they bought John two outfits. Everyone in the shops looked at me like I was part creature from outer space, part Amazonian. I am probably twice as heavy as most of the women there, with their narrow wrists and tiny bodies.

It is nine pm and we are still shopping and I can't believe the sheer amount of clothing that is being bought. The bride has eight different saris for the occasion. It seems that here weddings are quite a big deal!

Day 2

So amazing to see the hotel guests smoking cigarettes at breakfast. Whenever I see smokers in non-regulated environments I get a bit of a kick out of it because smoking anywhere these days is almost akin to shooting up heroin in public.

Took a trip to a gruesome crocodile zoo

and then, after a visit to a Hindu temple

I wondered lonely as a cloud...

pondering what fake ice cream might be...
until I was accosted by a bunch of Indian boys

Not sure what they were after but I think it may have been my cash.

Part Two to follow .....

Sunday, March 02, 2014

A Real Life Mr Darcy?

Pride & Prejudice | Because this cover sums up so much. #colinfirth #mrdarcy
Fans of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice have always known that Mr. Darcy is a fine man. Now scientists have proof.  In scientific lingo:
The pheromone that attracts female mice to the odour of a particular male has been identified. Named ‘darcin’ by researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Biology(after Darcy, the attractive hero in Jane Austen’s novel “Pride and Prejudice”), this unusual protein in a male’s urine attracts females and is responsible for learned preference for specific males. – Science Daily
Mr Darcy - - Mr Darcy - Elliott wet shirt1.jpg

But seriously, even though we can only imagine what he might have smelt like ... Mr Darcy has been a perennial fave with the ladies both because he said many romantic things as well as being able to work a wet shirt while emerging from a lake.

But hang on one ticketyboo moment, while Mr Darcy may encapsulate romance to so many, unfortunately....he isn't real.


So it was wonderful for me, who is somewhat cynical about love, romance and all that jazz, to hear that a blogging buddy called Charlotte Harborne, who after getting divorced met a lovely well mannered gent who she calls Mr Darcy. She told me all about the witty little exchanges she and he have and before I knew it I had cast my cynicism aside and penned the pictures to her adventures. This is one soap opera I will enjoy following this space and read all about it on her blog.

Would love to know what you think about my first cartoon for this series. And what about you you ever wonder what your fella is talking about down the pub?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Let Me Gently Probe your Mind

We're snowed in up to our eyeballs here in Baltimore so time to switch on the computer for some light relief.

So, I got challenged by another blogger to share 11 things about me

My 11 questions are:

1. What advice would you give your brand new blogging self now?

Don't air all your dirty laundry in public.

2. What four words would you say to your 18 year old self?

David Bowie is never going to marry you.

3. What three things do you think define you as either a Brit or American?

Obsession with strong cups of tea  or lack thereof

Ability to go for long walks in icy rain and enjoy it because it is 'bracing'

Deep and abiding love of the Eurovision Song Contest especially the year Bucks Fizz won.

4. Which TV show character are you and why?

Well I am definitely Eddie from Ab Fab because I love to drink a lot of wine and natter inanely. Also, we are kindred spirits in that I have never been on a diet for more than half a day.

5. Apocalypse Now or Mary Poppins?

I haven't seen Apocalypse Now so it's Chim Chim Charoo all the way for me!

6. Are white lies okay to tell? Please elaborate!

Yes of course. If you are getting  ready to go out and your friend has poured herself into an outfit that does her no favors, maybe like these green leggings ....

and she maybe asks you, 'do I look fat in these?' then the answer is always NO so as not to hurt her feelings. And then you can say something like 'Although that color does make you look a bit washed out' and help her pick something from her wardrobe that makes her look less like a stuffed courgette.

7. Whether you are a parent or not, what are the three most important things about raising a child?

The greatest gift you can give your child is time.

Children will make a lot of mess and break all your furniture. Get over it.

Sometimes it is easiest to feed your toddler spaghetti and meatballs in the bath for easy cleanup.

8. Favourite swear word and why?

I have so many favorites it is impossible to choose.

9. If you could have one super power what would it be?

Eating a lot of cake and staying slim.

10. Worst holiday experience ever.

I think it might have been when I was 15 and went on an overnight ski trip with my mum in a coach and I drank a bottle of whisky with some lads in the back  and threw up all over myself and passed out and when I woke up in the morning with the mother and father of all hangovers and my mum explained what had happened I said, "Why didn't you stop me doing that?" and she said, "Well I wanted to teach you a lesson." Lesson learnt. I cannot touch whisky since that day.

11. Elevator pitch to the Huffington Post, no more than 30 words, for your blog…..

When this London City Chick swapped life in the fast lane for the slow pace of Baltimore, USA she decided to blog about it. Follow her ups and downs as she swaps crumpets for crab cakes.

Now I have to:

• Acknowledge the nominating blogger by linking back to their blog – thanks Claire at

• Invite 11 more bloggers to take up the challenge and give them 11 questions to answer.

Here are my questions:

1. If you could go back in history who would you most like to meet?
2. What was one of the most embarassing things your kid said in public?
3. If you were an animal what would you be and why?
4. Have you ever eaten Haggis? Did you like it?
5. What's the stupidest thing you have said in a job interview?
6. Do you believe in friendship between men and women?
7. Is Kate Middleton someone you look up to or someone who seems awfully nice but basically completely uninteresting?
8. Do you feel like you are a slave to technology?
9. Have you ever had a chip butty? If not would you like to?
10. If you were on a desert island what one record from the 80s would you bring with you?
11. Do you understand the rules of American football?

Okay, so, the nominees are…

Linking up with #AllAboutYou Linky Party:

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Sunday, February 09, 2014

Great Expat-ations

I was asked to contribute an expat tip for the HiFX Expat Tip page. And this got me thinking that actually I have a lot of useful info to pass on for peeps looking to move from UK to USA so here goes ....

10 things to bear in mind when moving from UK to USA

1. Your British accent will go down a storm. Some people even ask you to say a sentence so they can hear your accent. You will feel like a celebrity.

2. You will laugh at how Americans complain about the cost of gas as it is three times cheaper than in the UK.

3. The weather is a lot nicer.

4. I had watched so many episodes of Jerry Springer, Maury etc. I thought America might be awash with women who didn't know who the father of their child was! In fact, the reality is quite the opposite. Marriage is a huge deal in the USA with only 10% believing it is an outdated institution.

5. People in US are very sensitive towards race and religion to the point where I really don't really like to talk about it because I'm not sure if I'm going to offend people. Religion in the UK is for most people just a background murmur but many people here are religious and actually go to church. That religion should be mixed in with politics is something I still can't get my head around - they even have prayer breakfasts in the White House. Some people believe in creationism, showing that the bible can be taken pretty literally.

6. If like me you did not drive before you arrived here then you will have to learn. Public transport is dire in all but the biggest cities and people drive absolutely everywhere and by that I mean they often drive the kids to school even if it is a two minute walk. It is something that is hard to get one's head around.

7. You will not realize how much you love a decent cup of tea until you move to the USA. You rarely find a good cuppa at a restaurant and I once got steamed milk on a cup of tea - of course, being British I didn't complain and just drank it. But be warned - if you want a good cuppa you will have to make it at home. 

8. TV is a nightmare with commercials every five minutes. For this reason I no longer have Cable TV just Hulu and Netflix.

9. Don't try and do all the things you used to do back in England. You can't spend your time bemoaning the fact that in the USA people don't spend all Sunday in the pub eating a delicious roast. You have to get out and experience as much as you can of your local area. I am lucky in that I live 2 hours from a ski resort and 3 hours from the beach and that there is always something to do outdoors.

10. You will be thrilled at how much bang you get for your buck when you do buy a house. On average houses in USA are cheaper than the UK equivalent!

If you are an expat give me some of your tips!

Linking up with the All About You Linky Party. Come join the fun and link up your posts:



Saturday, November 30, 2013

Diary of Popcorn the Pardoned Turkey

turkey voting

Hi my name is Popcorn and I am a turkey living in Morven Park's Turkey Hill Farm in the good ole US of A.

This is my diary from last week:

Monday 25th November

Minding my own business pulling my feathers out of my ginormous breast at the turkey farm. Every turkey knows that Wednesday will be their last day on earth so we're all going a bit crazy. Everyone's hysterically flapping their wings and shrieking "Carpe Diem!"

I have no idea what they're talking about. Apparently some eggheaded turkey explains it means 'seize the day.'

Everyone was running around like headless chickens trying to do stuff they had always had on their Bucket List. For me that involved propositioning a hot turkey called Citronella. I've loved her from afar these last two months. "Hey Citronella!" I squawked, posing nochalently like Ashton Kutcher. "How about a quick snog before we reach our final destination?"

All I got for my trouble was her violently pecking me on the head.

Carpe Diem - what a pile of crap.

Tuesday 26th November

Someone from the White House turns up and starts checking out all us turkeys. I'm bricking it because I reckon he's come to check out which one of us Obama will have on his presidential table come Thanksgiving. He plucks a mate of mine, Caramel, and myself from the throng.

In an amazing twist, we are not to be stuffed. The nation votes on twitter for Caramel or myself. Like in 'The Hunger Games' movie we are both going to be saved. The excitement sweeps the nation.

Wednesday 27th November

All the other turkeys are being packed into trucks ready to be escorted to the Great Golden Turkey Baster in the sky.

Goodbye Citronella! You evil witch!

(how soon love turns to hate)

Thursday 28th November

We have been pardoned by Obama and will not be beheaded. But we have so many fans on twitter and facebook already! Believe me, becoming a celebrity is no walk in the park! Now everyone knows that my favorite song is Halo by Beyonce and that I have irritable bowel syndrome. But in the end it is all worth it. We are now bona fide celebrities and are invited to the White House to meet the Prez and Bo although I'm not keen on dogs.

Friday 29th November

What a week. Caramel and I are looking at properties in Beverley Hills. We have personal assistants to polish our feathers. We are buying bling. We have groupies.

Thanks so much for everyone who voted for us!

We will now be known as Dr Pop and Lil Caramel. Laters suckers!

I'm so famous I'm even being featured on the Moonshine Grid Weekly Challenge:

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Novica Handmade Gifts $50 Giveaway (Ends 9/10)

I have been wanting to show you this batik robe I fell in LOVE with from Novica and am adding to my boudoir collection.

The robe is made by a talented artisan in Bali and one of the many beautiful creations found on NOVICA, a company that works with National Geographic to give talented artisans around the world a place to express their artistic talents and provide access to the world market.

When you order one of these unique products Novica don't just have them stockpiled in a warehouse. The product will come direct from the artisan, in a lovely drawstring bag (if it is jewelry) with a note from the person who made it. A lovely touch don't you think?

I must say I have spent quite a few hours ogling their site and can just imagine myself lounging in my batik robe on one of their amazing double hammocks....the breeze ruffling my hair.....


While I am in the hammock I can also see myself  sipping a margarita from one of these stylish glasses:

The wonderful people at Novica have given me a $50 Gift Certificate for one lucky winner. So hop over to the Novica site and check out their wonderful summer collection including cotton dresses and cool batik clothing.

Then enter my Rafflecopter giveaway below. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. Anyone in any part of the world is eligible to join in and I'll announce a winner on 10th September.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Romancing the Crone

If any of you out there are newly solo and rushing to join a dating website, let me offer you a word of caution before you dive in. There is a new breed of man out there looking to hook forty plus women. He will whisper words of utter delight in your ear, he will look like a God and will immediately be smitten by 'your beautiful smile.' The downside is he's a Romeo Scammer, and, as a mature friend of mine told me, they are wriggling all over the dating website scene, like woodworms in wood!

Yes, in tough economic times people are no longer responding to spam emails promising to grow your penis three extra inches or from melodramatic Nigerian government officials asking to lend them money which you will get back soon with 400% interest. These days you need to have the time, and a certain amount of talent to lure gullible people into parting with their cash.

For the woman of a certain age it all starts when a sexy young under thirty guy connects with you on a dating website and sends you a hunky photo of himself. You might initially think what the heck, even if this guy is a tad too young for me he is smokin' hot, you go girl! If you live in America this guy will claim to be American but alas, he will always live at least a hundred miles away. He'll tease and torment you with his emails at first which are grammatically unsound but you think, well, he does say he's a contractor working in Nebraska, so what if he spells like someone who has just learnt English. When the heart finds that perfect soul mate who cares if he can't spell for shit?

The scam goes on in that the guy never gives you his phone number or asks for yours, starts IMing like a love sick schoolboy and sooner or later arranges to fly over to meet you until a glitch occurs, he claims finances are tight, could you please wire over the money for the flight my dearest darling girl, so we can be together? My friend is au fait with the procedure as she sometimes likes to toy with these Romeo Scammers for kicks. And when she checks their IP addresses they are always (quel surprise!) located in Africa.

If there are any documentary makers out there I'd love them to find out if there are call center type places called Romeo Towers or Passionate Plaza in Africa where these Romeo Scammers ply their trades. Just imagine the conversations when a new guy comes on shift:

Romeo 1 "Where are you up to with that lady in Baltimore?"

Romeo 2 going off shift: "Well, I having warm her up nice hot and you can go in for killing. I have told her I am ready to be flying out to Baltimore from Nebraska seeing to her give one. I telling her in last email: Waiting you the playing sweet music love the making me. Cannot wet to your stroke soft skin and shower the perls over you."


All I'm saying is don't be caught out by the new Romeo Scammers out there. If a young toy boy with abs of steel is immediately smitten by you be assured he may want to plunge, not into your hot body but deep into the crevices of your wallet.


Also you must check out my pal Claire's (aka UK Desperate Housewife USA) blog. She is a Brit in Columbia who is a flip flop wearing, cowboy hat totin', sunworshipper who has already sampled a lot of US cuisine including corn dogs and crab. She did me the honor of interviewing me so check it out!!