Off Menu Menu

Good morning!

I still have a not quinsy, just in case you wanted to check up on the progress of my medieval illness. I am still waiting for the results of my MRI scan and I am still patching my life together depending on my health. I almost got better last week and then, after a few days of normality, I woke up on Monday morning feeling hidjus woe, which is very sad times, particularly as this week is one of those weeks where lots of balls have been juggled.

Having said that, I bumped into my lovely friend Rachel yesterday at a networking event and she gave me the card of a woman who is a whiz with an acupuncture needle and who has been helping Rachel with her previously unsolvable vertigo issues. I shall be ringing her today to beg for an appointment to see if she can resolve the not quinsy situation. Wouldn’t that be marvellous?

In the meantime, one of you lovely lot asked me what my dream meal would be were I to ever be invited to guest on the Off Menu podcast and I thought I’d talk about that instead of stabbing ear pain, because it’s definitely more fun.

So, for those of you who don’t know the premise, Off Menu takes place in a fantasy restaurant with a genie waiter who can get you any food you like from any time, place etc. You choose still or sparkling water, poppadoms or bread and then your starter, main, side dish, drink and pudding of choice.

Here goes.

Still or sparkling water – Sparkling for sure. I love fizzy water (to give it its posh name!) The day someone bought me a bottle of Perrier, which was the only sparkling water you could get in the Eighties,  I was overjoyed. There is something extremely pleasing to me about eating and drinking things with fizz attached. Cola bottles, sherbet, Andrews’ Liver Salts, Veuve Cliquot and fizzy water. YUM.  I’d like San Pellegrino (chunkier bubbles) with chunks of lime and lots of ice.

Poppadoms or Bread – Bread please. I’d like a basket of assorted breads like they give you in fancy restaurants sometimes. I’d like a very small cottage loaf to be in my assortment, because I like ripping the top knot off and eating it with salty butter. I’d also like sourdough and something with lots of seeds in it. The bread has to be warm and the butter has have salt crystals in it. There also has to be far more butter than is polite.

Starter – Hundreds of years ago, when I lived in London, my ex husband and I (when we were still married) used to go to a restaurant in Swiss Cottage which is no longer there any more, but which was excellent and where I once saw Mavis Riley from Coronation Street. I do not want to eat Mavis Riley from Coronation Street, just in case you were wondering. I did have the most amazing starter there. It was foie gras on toasted brioche with onion marmalade. I last had it about 22 years ago now, but I think about it a lot. I don’t eat foie gras anymore because I feel sorry for the geese, but it was bloody delicious. And as this is a fantasy restaurant and I can have what I want, I will have this, but without excessive cruelty to geese.

Main Course – This was so difficult to choose. I am a fully paid up ‘nose in the trough’ food lover. I have been lucky enough to have eaten truly magnificent food, cooked by fancy pants chefs in glamorous venues and there have been some stunning meals consumed.  Having said that, I plumped for really, really excellent steak and chips in the end, because it’s just magnificent when it’s right. I like my meat extremely rare and melt in the mouth tender. I like my fries extremely crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle. They have to be salty. I like freshly made Bearnaise sauce to dip my chips in. There has to be a decently crisp green salad on the side and possibly a mushroom or two, soft and yielding and cooked in some butter.

Side Dish – What I love about Off Menu (apart from everything) is that your side dish does not have to complement your main at all. It’s a fantasy restaurant, so you just pick all your delicious things. Also, apparently you can eat it all without feeling stuffed and ill.  In which case, my side dish will be Tarka Dahl from Spicy Flames takeaway on Welford Road in Leicester. It is the best Dahl in the whole world. It’s thick and creamy and the lentils are mostly dissolved. It tastes buttery and garlicky. It’s so comforting. It’s replaced mashed potato as my go to comfort food.

Drink – I thought about fancy cocktails or great champagne, both of which I approve of, but as I am allowed exactly what I like, I am having a McDonald’s banana milkshake. Actually, I am having as much banana milkshake as I want, which is usually about one and a half milkshakes worth. I don’t have milkshake very much any more as my sinuses don’t really approve of dairy and go on strike if I have too much. Every now and again I throw caution to the wind and go crazy, slurping milkshake in a devil may care manner and living with the consequences, but in my fantasy restaurant there will be no consequences, so bring it on.

Pudding – Even longer ago than eating Foie Gras in London, I went to a restaurant in Oxford called Gee’s. It still exists, but bearing in mind that the last meal I ate there was a quarter of a century ago, I can’t vouch for it being the same. It used to be fantastic though. I had champagne syllabub there on the night before my first wedding and it tasted like angel spit. It’s another one of those dishes I think about with longing from time to time. As usual, with things like that, there wasn’t enough of it, so what I would like is two helpings of champagne syllabub please. Or possibly three.

So there you have it. My Off Menu, menu.

What’s yours?



I am still quite medieval and mysterious

I thought I’d better pop in and give you an update on my medieval illness.

Turns out it isn’t medieval at all. I do not have a quinsy or quinsy (I’m not sure if it’s ‘a’ thing or like sheep, one and many). In fact I am, to date, a medical mystery.

I ended up in A&E shortly after my quinsy announcement, where I waited for 12 hours only to find that all my blood tests were negative and they could not see anything in my throat, despite me feeling something in my throat.  It was good in that nobody pulled that terrible face and found me a bed in an airing cupboard. It was bad in that I was still feeling like crap but nobody knows why.

I went back to hospital on Wednesday to see a consultant. He was extremely posh and had very snazzy socks. He was also rather nice. He did good listening and didn’t treat me like an idiot, both of which are traits I prize highly in medical (and any other) circles. He too, could not find anything immediately wrong with me, but put me down for an MRI scan just to be on the safe side. I think this was because I used the word ‘bursting’ quite a lot. Bursting is not good, under any circumstances.

Yesterday I went for an MRI scan, which was extremely claustrophobic, but I used yoga breathing, which really helped. I also spent the hour I was stuck in a noisy tube, deciding what my dream meal would be if I was ever invited on the Off Menu podcast. Off Menu is my current obsession in terms of podcasts, and if you like thinking about and eating food a lot, which I do, you should totally give it a listen.

I have been feeling a little better since Friday, and haven’t had to take pain relief. Then today I had to succumb to the co-codamol, which has made me feel a bit of a failure. It’s not my throat that hurts, it’s my ear. Jabby, jab jab is how it goes. Also my jaw, which feels a bit like it’s got sunburn but it hasn’t. And my mouth is full of ulcers and really it’s all very rubbish and I feel a bit like a medieval peasant. Perhaps I should go and live in a ditch and wear hessian and chew turnips. Only problem is it will probably be full of disgraced MPs.

Sad times.

I have pared my life down to what is essential or too lovely to miss. I am spending the rest of the time sleeping, reading and listening to podcasts. It isn’t awful, except that I am somewhat frustrated, because I have things I’d like to do which I am not doing. If I do too much, I feel grim. It’s very annoying.

I am also spending quite a lot of time thinking about what my mystery ailment might be. On the days I am feeling better I think that maybe I am making it all up because perhaps I miss the days of lounging around on the Chaise Longue of Death ™. Then I feel like I’m wasting my time and everyone else’s sympathy. Except that I don’t really miss those days at all.

Then I feel ill and decide I really am mysteriously ill and start worrying in case the side of my face falls off into my dinner. It’s a bit of a roller coaster. And I don’t even like going to Alton Towers, so that’s just pants.

I had rather hoped that things had turned a corner this weekend, but it looks like I have a bit more sleeping and resting to do if today is anything to go by. My twitchy eye says that it is.

I can still stagger to the post office on the daily (or get someone else to go if I bribe them with sweets) so if you’re thinking of buying from my over burdened stock room, please go ahead. I have also taken delivery of some stunning tweed pieces by the designer Helen Howe, who is, sadly for me, giving up designing and having an everything must go moment. I’m show casing the pieces over on my Facebook page, which is called Boostique. Crazily enough. So if you’re into fabulous tweed for women (and drag queens), check it out. Within five minutes of taking delivery of the stock I had bought a brilliant hot pink tweed trouser suit for myself.

I shall look splendid, laid out on the Chaise Longue of Death, and if you can’t be well, you might as well look fabulous.


Reading from the Plague House

It appears, from the lovely people who commented on my blog over on Facebook, that I may have something called quinsy. It sounds Victorian and I feel a bit Victorian at the moment, so that’s a nice synchronicity right there.

I’m glad it doesn’t sound medieval or I’d probably be at the buboe stage by now, and as we all know, that’s no fun at all.

Quinsy, it appears, is an abscess that sits on one of the tonsils. It’s rare in adults, which may be why nobody in the medical profession has mentioned it to me. It kind of fits for the symptoms I have, and should I have to struggle off to A&E I will be sure to mention it.

Thanks to binning off work, some healing from a very kind friend, and about 12 hours of sleep, I am feeling less desperate today. My headache has subsided, which is a huge win, as I had pain from the abscess thing on one side, and pain on the other from the headache so there was really nowhere else to go with anything yesterday. Today I am functioning at half speed, but that’s ok. Half speed is better than wanting to throw myself off a bridge for a bit of light relief.

As I’m having a day of rest I thought I’d mention a few books that have delighted me in recent months. I’ve been slack with recommendations recently and I’ve read a lot, so I’m not going to review everything. Edited highlights will do.

I do feel pleased that I’ve smashed my Goodreads target for this year already. It’s an extremely nerdy, Nick Hornby thing to be pleased about, but I’m fine with that. I set my target at 100 books for this year, but am already at 116. Go me!

In no particular order

Me by Elton John – You know I love gossipy autobiographies. The more name dropping the better. This is very entertaining. I had a book about the Plantaganets to read for Netgalley and it was so incredibly dull. I only got through it by promising myself I would read Elton afterwards. What I particularly love about it is that he acknowledges what an arse hole he can be and is the first person to take the piss. I finished it in a day.

Ring The Hill by Tom Cox – I discovered Tom, years ago on Twitter through My Sad Cat and have been a fan ever since. I pledge for his work on Unbound whenever he has a new writing project. This is his latest book and I think it is his best to date. He writes about nature in a way that makes me, not a massive fan of nature, actively enjoy it. He is also very funny.

How To Have Feminist Sex by Flo Perry – Flo Perry is the daughter of Grayson and Philippa Perry. She writes with the wisdom of her mum and draws with the humour of her dad. This is a great book. I think it should be given to every teenager on reaching puberty.

Set Me On Fire: A Poem For Every Feeling by Ella Risbridger – I’ve been following Ella on Twitter for years (she isn’t on there much any more) and reading her brilliant work for The Pool. Her book Midnight Chicken is one of my top books of last year. This anthology is perfect. I wanted to savour it, read it all in one go.

The Kill by Jane Casey – This was recommended by Marian Keyes on Twitter some time ago. It’s the fifth in the Maeve Kerrigan series by Casey. I devoured it and promptly ordered the first one for my Kindle (I think it’s still £1.99). A nicely twisty crime thriller. Very satisfying indeed.

A Stranger City by Linda Grant – One of my top reads of the year so far. I got it from Amazon Vine to review. It tells the story of an unidentified body, pulled out of the Thames by the police and their attempts to find out who the woman is. That’s the simplest explanation, but as with all great books, it’s about so much more than that. London as a character features heavily and that’s always a massive plus for me.

Sex, Power, Money by Sara Pascoe – A non-fiction exploration of how we construct ourselves through the lens of sex, power and money. How much is social conditioning, how much is nature, how much is nurture. It’s very readable, extremely funny in places and very thought provoking.

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel – Her book Station Eleven was an absolute stand out for me a couple of years ago when I read it. It’s one of those books that stays with you long after you’ve finished it. The Glass Hotel is great. I don’t think it will haunt me in quite the same way, but it has the same eerie sense of dislocation that I love in Station Eleven. It tells the story of a business man who pulls off a scam in the form of a Ponzi scheme. The book charts its collapse and how that affects not just him but those around him. It has a slight supernatural element which doesn’t feel at all weird in the context of the book, and a satisfyingly complex time line. The book isn’t released until next April but you can pre-order. If you haven’t read Station Eleven yet, you should, especially because it’s available for 99p on Kindle at the moment.

Surfacing by Kathleen Jamie – Jamie is a Scottish poet and nature writer who I discovered through Amazon Vine a few years ago. She reminds me a little of Robert MacFarlane in the way she connects with nature. I really love her perspective. In this book of essays she ranges from archeological sites that are being uncovered thanks to global warming to the death of her dad to a piece about watching birds of prey. I dipped in and out of these over a period of weeks and found each piece intensely satisfying.

Nothing But Blue Sky by Kathleen MacMahon – I got this from Netgalley as a proof. It’s not my usual thing at all, but I just felt drawn to it. I’m glad I was. It tells the story of a journalist, well known for risking his life for his work, covering stories in war torn countries and what happens to him when his wife, the one who stays at home and keeps his world turning, suddenly dies. It took me a while to warm to this, but once I clicked in, at about the 50 page mark, I loved it. This doesn’t come out until next May, but is available for pre-order. I believe this is her first book, so you’ll have to hang on to read her work, but I think it’s worth it.



In which I moan a lot

I am feeling all the woe.

Weeks and weeks ago I had a sore throat/earache thing happening. It was making me very miserable. It was, I am fairly sure, a kind of abscess/ulcer, quite deep in my throat, over to one side. I knew this because I have had them before from time to time, thankfully rather infrequently.  Before you ask, I can’t gargle, because it’s beyond my gag reflex.

Sometimes whatever it was would sort of burst (tmi, I know) and then get better. Sometimes it wouldn’t and I would end up with antibiotics. This felt exactly like that. It wasn’t improving and I had things to do, so I went to the GP who said they couldn’t see anything except an inflamed throat (they were not looking in the right place. I did not manage to convey this properly). They told me to go away and take pain killers and come back if it didn’t improve.

A few days later it burst and the relief was splendid, although gross.

Then it started again. After two weeks I went to the doctor again. A different doctor (unsurprisingly in these times) who said that she couldn’t see anything except an inflamed throat (argh) but as I was, by this time, in quite a lot of pain and prone to dizziness thanks to the pressure on my ear, she gave me antibiotics.  I had ten days worth, eight pills per day.

I felt a bit better, and then about three days after the antibiotics finished it started again. I was, by this time, extremely exhausted, because constant, stabbing earache and horrible exploding throats all the time will do that to a person. I went back to the GP, my own GP this time, who said that he couldn’t see anything (FFS) but that he thought that it was something that needed investigating as I was obviously not well. He wanted to put me on a two week ENT pathway, but as I was about to go on holiday he couldn’t risk me getting an appointment while I was away, so I was to come back as soon as I got home and he would refer me.

This was on the Wednesday before our holiday. On the Thursday night, due to being run down and my immune system now being somewhere near the earth’s core, I contracted a spectacularly painful urinary tract infection and ended up in hospital in the early hours of Friday morning. I was given more drugs. Nobody wanted to look at my throat. All the action was at the other end.

On the plane to Sicily, my throat burst again. During the holiday it repeated the same cycle. Two days before we got home my ear started to hurt again. On the plane there was more bursting. Since then it’s been increasingly painful. At the weekend I mostly slept with a hot water bottle stuck to my ear. Now both ears hurt. My jaw hurts and I have a constant headache.

We landed in the UK in the early hours of Wednesday morning. At 8.30 that morning I was at the Dr, who referred me. Hopefully I will get an appointment very soon.

Chaps, I am so tired. I am ill enough to feel absolutely awful all the time, but not ill enough to lie on my bed of pain ignoring everything and watching whatever the equivalent of Richard and Judy is in lieu of work. I have so much to do and so little energy to do it with and I am reaching the end of my tether.

Every time it looks like I’m on the mend, it starts again and I have less resources to deal with it. I am using homeopathy and essential oils and healing, which I think are the only reason I’m still standing at this stage.

I really thought the holiday might sort me out, and it was certainly a help and I had a lovely time, but I feel so much worse now. It feels like I went to Sicily five years ago, not last week.

Part of me is sure it’s just something that will be simple to resolve once the right people are looking in the right places, but because I am being worn down by the pain, I have begun to get quite morbid and worry that it is something awful. I haven’t got time for it to be something awful.

Anyway, there is nothing to be done but wait for my appointment, practice self care where I can and keep buggering on. This is not the cheery post about more Sicilian shenanigans I was planning on, but that will keep.

Ten Days in Sicily

I have been to Sicily, chaps.

I had been wanting to go to Sicily for many years. Everyone else wanted to go back to Cyprus this year, because we had such a fabulous holiday there last year, but I stuck my heels in and demanded to have my way. When we arrived in Catania at ten o’clock at night and set off into the pitch dark on roads that were more pot hole than tarmac, I began to question this tenacity. I worried that the family would tie me up in a Sicilian ditch and run away to Cyprus without me. Had I made a hideous mistake?

Thankfully, no.

Once the sun rose, everything became splendid and stayed that way for our entire ten day holiday.

We rented a villa from a Sicilian family in a gated community about half an hour up the coast from Catania city on the east coast of the island. We were met by the care takers at the property, neither of whom spoke any English and with my Italian limited to food groups, it was quite the challenge communicating vital informations at eleven o’clock at night. Thank God for translation apps, although the chap trying to explain the gate system to us managed to accidentally call Jason a sugar plum, which was surreal.

I had read somewhere that Sicily is not quite as welcoming to bumbling tourists as mainland Italy, but even out of season and in off the beaten track places, we never got that impression. Everyone we attempted to speak to was friendly, welcoming and helpful. I think it helped that we did our best to speak Italian where we could, even though we mangled it completely. It also helped that we were evangelical about everything we ate. It seems to be a rule that if you love people’s cooking, they are delighted with you. As a woman who is committed to eating everything that passes her eye line, I can vouch for the fact that it is the perfect ice breaker.

Here are some things I learned that may be helpful if you are thinking of going.

Driving is hellish fierce. Jason, who likes to drive everywhere at 80 mph on two wheels, was genuinely terrified as a driver, until he got into the rhythm of Sicilian driving.  There are only two speeds, 20 mph or 200 mph. Nobody pays attention to speed limits, road signs or personal safety. Gird your loins if you’re going to drive.

Some of the motorways are toll roads, but these are really cheap to use. Our longest trip on a toll road cost us about 3 euros. Exit routes on what are the equivalent of A roads and local roads are often really poorly sign posted and occasionally not sign posted at all. They almost always loop off the exit so be prepared to go into many, many bends at short notice. Try to breathe through these experiences.

Driving in cities should be avoided if possible. Parking is a nightmare. We went to Messina on our last day and gave up after 45 minutes of navigating down roads where people were triple parked on blind bends etc. The best thing to do if you want to visit a big city is use public transport. The day we went to Catania city, we found an outlying railway station with free parking and caught the train in. We went from Acireale to Catania central station for about 3 euros each and it took fifteen minutes.

The trains run on time and are cheap and easy to use. The announcements were in Italian and English. You buy your ticket from a machine that has an English language option. You must punch it at the station before you get on the train.

Buses are less efficient but also cheap. We had a day roaming ticket in Catania that cost about 2 euros. Our driver set off about 20 minutes later than time tabled because he was enjoying a coffee and a fag in the station cafe. We were in no rush so it was fine.

Driving in ancient places should also be avoided unless you have a teeny, weeny car and nerves of steel. If you’re going to drive, find out where the nearest accessible car park is to where you want to explore. This worked for us in Ortygia and in Taormina, two of our favourite places to visit, made considerably less stressful by the fact that we didn’t get the car wedged down a side street. Parking is also very cheap, or often free.

Pay attention to meal times. Lunch time kicks off at about 12.30 and slopes into siesta. If this time doesn’t suit, you will need to improvise. There are supermarkets on every corner so you won’t starve, but if you want proper, sit down meals, you can’t drift along when you please.

In tourist places you can get what we think of traditional, Italian dishes at any time. Outside of tourist places, you will be more restricted in what is available. If you want pizza for lunch, for example, in regular towns, you will have to buy it by the slice from a bakery. Pizza is an evening meal in many places.

In terms of pasta, if you want bolognese you may struggle. It’s not a Sicilian thing. A very popular pasta dish is pasta ‘norma’, which consists of roasted aubergine and tomato, with spaghetti and cheese on top. The pasta dishes I sampled were not ‘saucy’ at all. The ingredients were added to the pasta and then the dish was dressed with olive oil, pan juices and maybe a little of the starchy pasta water, so the pasta would be lightly coated with flavourful juices rather than dripping in sauce.

The food is amazingly tasty and cheap compared to here. There is an abundance of fresh produce, everything tastes of sunshine. I didn’t eat a single thing I didn’t love while I was there. Croissants full of creme patissiere, great balls of mozzarella so creamy they tasted like burrata, semi-freddo the size of a family car, seafood so fresh it threw itself onto your plate, tomatoes that made me weep they tasted so good. Gelato in every flavour and all exquisite. Great, creamy avocados you can scoop into your mouth with a spoon, sharp and fruity olives, the lemoniest lemons. It was all wonderful.

Siesta runs from about midday to half four. In tourist places like Taormina all the shops stayed open. Everywhere else we went, people take their siesta seriously. We learned to get up early and make the most of the morning and either go home for a nap or power down in a cafe or on the beach in the afternoons. Everything kicks off again from 4.30 p.m. and the shops stay open until about 9.00 p.m. Even on Sundays.

In terms of places we visited, as I said, Taormina is a must. It’s beautiful and even though it’s busy and tourist filled, it’s still stunning and worth going to see. Syracuse and Ortygia ran it a close second in terms of beauty and antiquity. Catania city is really interesting. Apparently not as old and lovely as Messina and Palermo, because it’s been ravaged by volcanic activity a few times, but we really enjoyed our time there. We only had a few hours there but I’d happily go back. There is a great market off the main drag of Via Etnea and there is (like everywhere) no shortage of museums, ruins and churches to see. I’d love to go back to Messina on the train and explore properly. We only caught glimpses of things because we didn’t plan our visit properly but I’d definitely visit again.

Lots of cities and towns have two centres due to age and volcanic activity. The older bits are always amazing but difficult to navigate, so park in the new bit and travel on foot. We explored Ragusa like this. Ragusa Ibla is the old town and if you love vertiginous  paths and ancient churches it’s for you. We enjoyed visiting Modica which feels slightly more open, architecturally speaking. Bits of it reminded me of Provence. On our last afternoon we went to Giardino Naxos and hung out on the beach for a few hours. It’s just a dusty seaside town, but we liked it very much.

Oh, and Etna. I have to say that volcanoes are not really my thing. We did drive to the foot of the slopes, which was as touristy as you would expect. We watched people staggering their way across the blackened landscape on foot or by incongruously cheery toy train, and decided it wasn’t for us. I much preferred watching it from afar. Every day it was different and it dominates the landscape as you would expect.

Those are just the edited highlights. We explored tiny villages, beaches, industrial towns, shopping centres, places with interesting names (Linguaglossa) and anywhere that took our fancy. Everywhere you go, literally everywhere, there are sites of antiquity to visit, great restaurants (everyone takes food seriously, everyone, even at service stations) and amazing views. We bumbled about the entire east coast of the island on our travels. I’ve been told the west coast is completely different again. I hope one day to go back and explore it.





Oscar is Thirteen

Dearest Oscar

You are thirteen today. This simply doesn’t seem feasible if I’m honest. Firstly, you are now about seventeen feet tall and have to shave, so clearly you are about thirty eight. Secondly, you are my last born and my baby and I simply will not allow you to be anything other than six at the oldest.

Way back in the mists of time you didn’t like growing up. We had about three birthdays in a row where you stayed five I think. I wonder if you’d consider trying that again for a few years? I’d be grateful.

Despite reaching teenager hood you have not gone down the Kevin the Teenager route, I am glad to say. I would have been so sorry to have been forced to give up our conversations. You are one of my favourite people to spend time with and I enjoy finding out about the world through your eyes. I know a lot more about strange fizzy drinks, YouTube millionaires and Pokémon thanks to you.

I am so pleased you have discovered a passion for acting this year. I am looking forward to seeing your plays and seeing plays with you. Sharing War Horse with you was one of the greatest pleasures this year. There will be many more. I have a list.

I anticipate a day full of gelato and pizza ahead. I am also looking forward to sharing that with you. How fortunate that the Sicilians share your appreciation of the finer foods in life.

I am typing this on a tiny screen, with a rubbish WiFi connection so please excuse the lack of length. It doesn’t really matter I suppose, when all I really want to say is that I waited a long time for you to arrive in my life, but it was worth the wait. I love you, my best boy, today and all days. Enjoy teenage life. I look forward to seeing what you make of it. Thank you for being the very best son I could wish for.

Happiest of birthdays, loveliest of men.

Buggerin’ off

Tomorrow I am going on my jollies.

We are off to Sicily for ten days. I have been properly excited about this. I have wanted to go to Sicily for a long time and finally it’s going to happen.

Well, hopefully.

My friend Lorraine tells me that Mount Etna is being a little bit grumbly, which is delaying some flights. We are, of course, going to the bit near the grumbling volcano. I hope it calms down long enough for us to get there and not be incinerated then or at any point after that. Imagine going on holiday only to be engulfed in lava? That would be a big no on Trip Advisor from me.

At one point this week I did think I might not actually be able to go at all, due to the fact that my body finally waved the white flag of surrender and gave me a violent urinary tract infection as a special treat.

I’ve had earache/throat ache for about five weeks now. Ten days of antibiotics didn’t cure it, and when I get back from my holidays it looks like I might have to go to ENT for an gastroscopy. This is very sad. Not as sad as the fact that the antibiotics trashed everything except the ear/throat thing and that’s why I ended up at A&E in the early hours of Friday morning looking like I had been engulfed in lava, mostly around the vagina area.

I haven’t got time to be falling apart. I’ve got about eleventy projects on the go and none of them need a woman with a sore ear and the need to go and wee acid every five minutes.

Anyway. I saw a wonderful doctor who gave me some scary looking drugs which I have to take a very small amount of or else. I spent all day yesterday sleeping and I feel a lot less like hurling myself over a cliff today. My nether regions are considerably cooler. My ear still hurts like thump, but I am learning to live with it. Hopefully that won’t explode on the plane, and I will get to Sicily where I intend to bask about, eating gelato and pasta and olives and fish and ciabatta and all the other things that are delicious.

Basically there will be no food left on Sicily by the time I come home and I will have to have my own plane. Or possibly they will just roll me home across the sea like a one woman life buoy.

If you are pining for me while I am away you can check out one of the projects I have been working on with my wonderful friend, Matt.

Matt and I stumbled across a miserable old bat called Margot Menteuse, a diva, a has been, a washed up nightmare of a woman. She has taken over our lives rather and not content with popping up in the odd photograph from time to time, she has demanded a Facebook page and an Instagram account of her own. You might enjoy her shenanigans. She’s @margotmenteuse.