Wednesday, 1 July 2009

MUMMY ON THE EDGE Families NW Mag – July/ August ‘09

As dark clouds threaten tropical storms, Angelina threatens Barbequeage. And Mini-Me gets freaked out by Macbeth.

I have never attempted barbequeage on my own. But the thought of taking little breaks from trying to master Mini-me’s Rock’n’Hopper on the grass to turn and thus prevent burning garlicky, marinated stuff is kind of appealing in a paper-plates-and-fingers, screw-the-washing-up way. As long as it’s not for loads of people which would cause an unnecessary case of AHAA! - Angelina’s Hosting Anxiety Attack. Unfortunately the marital barbeque, having been mistreated and neglected for years had to be thrown away (actually, I overtook a precariously-laden gypsy salvage truck down Little Bushey Lane, gesticulating furiously to lead it to my house to collect the item). I was just suggesting to Mini-Me that we pop down to Lidl to see if the five pound jobbie they were flogging in February (the right size for one and a half portions of skewered prawns) was still there, when my friend phoned me and asked me if I wanted her beautiful big gas barbeque, with hinged cover and… gasp… SHELVES, since she was buying another. Yippee! Talk about a cosmic order being fulfilled. On the other hand, looks like I will not be able to avoid suffering from AHAA this summer after all.

I have now promised my gaggle of nieces and nephews- 3 of them doing their GCSE’s and A Levels and one on holiday from university Astrophysics - that I will throw them a barbeque party in return for the serious babysitting, bike riding, swimming, baking and tutoring I am expecting from them for Mini-Me throughout the next two months. January four years ago, I sat the three nieces aged 12-14 round my dining table and they sorted out 18 months worth of business receipts into piles so that I could complete my tax return on time. They were efficient, competent and quick. I’m thinking this summer, a few garlic prawn skewers will go a long way…

So this being predicted the summer of summers (not inconceivable considering the soggy state of the last two), I have been sourcing outdoorsy, cultural things to do with Mini-Me. The Scoop at More London is a great outdoor space, adjacent to the General London Assembly building (perfect for Boris-spotting) and I found out the Pantaloon theatre company (well worth contacting them for a workshop if your school has a surplus of PTA money) were presenting a free performance of Romeo and Juliet. We went one warm sunshiney evening and enjoyed the show which featured music, comedy and audience participation. The narrator asked children to raise their hands to answer “What sort of things do you think that Juliet could have done in her situation?” not expecting seven-year-old Mini-Me to cut to the chase and answer “She could have killed herself!” The problem is, she knew the ending because for Christmas I got her “The Shakespeare Stories” retold for children by Andrew Matthews. They may be a bit much for her. She climbed into my bed one evening, half way through Macbeth saying it had “freaked me out”. As she epitomized so eruditely, “There’s a lot of killing, marrying and kissing in Shakespeare, Mummy”.

If you fancy a bit of theatre in the park, you could catch Peter Pan at Kensington Gardens (until 30th August). I’ve heard it’s a truly magical production with 360 degree projection and no risk of rain spoiling the fun. Or if want to introduce your Mini to Shakespeare, but don’t fancy trekking into town, Illyria is presenting A Midsummer Night’s Dream within the verdant grounds of Harrow Museum on the 8th July. You can bring a picnic and make an evening of it. It’s a lovely setting. Mini-me and I went to Harrow Museum on Sunday and discovered they have live jazz, blues or swing in the Tithe Barn every week from 12.15 – 12.45. Perfect for a rainy day or a sunny one. And a great opportunity to get up close and watch real instruments being played or just to have a bit of a boogie with your babies, big and small.

When we left, it was still sunny, so we drove 10 minutes to Roxbourne Park to get some fresh air on the Miniature Railway. It’s really very charming and run by dear old railway enthusiasts wearing smart caps and clipping tickets with authentic equipment. They have an open day coming up on the 30th August when there will be more trains on show from other organisations plus model boats. More info at Chuff chuff toot toot! Forsooth ‘tis chucking it down outside. I must tarry not and get me hence to fetch the clothes in. Or something…

Angelina Melwani runs Sing and Sign baby signing classes in Harrow, Bushey, Stanmore and Rickmansworth. More info at