Saturday, 25 October 2014


Picture the scene; on holiday, glass of wine on the table, looking out onto the street scene and soaking up the glorious evening sunshine. Suddenly there's a massive crash as the McBaby inexplicably has just thrown a cushion, knocking the full glass to the floor causing broken shards and liquid to spread in a thousand directions.

"Why did you do that?" I asked him.

"I was playing with the cushion", he said.

"But why did you throw it?"

"I was playing with the cushion".

"But why did you throw it?"

"I was playing..."

"Yes, I know you were playing with it, but why? Why did you throw it at the glass? Why?"

"MUMMY! Stop saying 'why'!"

That's my line!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

El Federal and La Poesia

More lovely meals in hospitable eateries.

Firstly, El Federal on Carlos Calvo which was full of character and decorated with vintage tills, lamps and posters including this one for the ubiqitous Argentinian* beer Quilmes...

The food is tasty and honest and like most of Argentina, it doesn't pay to be vegetarian. Even me as a non-meater, I caught myself looking enviously at MrM's tender and juicy burger.

Built in 1864, El Federal, like many buildings in Buenos Aires, has a wonderful faded elegance invoking its glory days**. And like many buildings here, it retains its period features from the first floor upwards; service is friendly and informal.

The owners of El Federal recently purchased a nearby café called La Poesia (at the intersection of Chile and Bolivar, the avenues, not the countries) where we went for breakfast later in the week. Like its sister, it also has a fabulous display of vintage soaps, weighing equipment, bottles and jars and also friendly service. We had a lovely relaxing breakfast here.

*On further inspection, it turns out that Quilmes is in fact Brazilian.

** It was Tomas Eloy Martinez in "The Tango Singer" who said: "I was surprised that Buenos Aires was so majestic from the second and third story upwards and was so dilapidated at street level as if the splendour of the past had remained suspended in the heights and had refused to descent or disappear."

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Cafe Tortoni

One thing that is very noticeable about Buenos Aires is that everyone is very child-orientated. It might not be a great place with few green spaces and busy roads, but people are very tolerant of the McBaby's various noises and it's simply not possible to get onto the bus (collectivo) or underground (subte) with the McBaby without people immediately giving up their seat and INSISTING you take it. It's amazing. We even caused a mini riot when we got on one bus and a group of younger women didn't give up their seats.

I've decided to make a note of the places that were nice to the McBaby. The first place was Café Tortoni on Avenida de Mayo (825). This café, open since 1858, is the oldest in the whole of Argentina. It's a bit touristy and we had to wait to get in, but I was charmed by it, as was the McBaby who enjoyed an omelette and a chocolate milkshake. Even the likes of Gabriela Sabatini are former customers although I doubt she stayed to watch the tango show. The décor doesn't appear to have changed since it opened and the menu is a little on the 1970s side, but it's full of history and the service is old-school.

El museo de los(t) ninos

We're on holiday in Buenos Aires at the moment, having a late break, trying to catch some sunshine just as an autumnal feel falls over the UK. It's a gorgeous place; romantic, soulful and arty. Try telling that to the McBaby who wants to do nothing but "do running please mummy" along the busy streets (avoiding the copious amounts of dog poo) and to eat the Argentine favourite "dulce de leche."

So, after a couple of days of walking, watching Tango and generally getting a feel for the place, we took a long walk up Avenue Corrientes to the Abasto Shopping Centre, home of the only Kosher McDonalds outside Israel and also home of the Museo of Los Ninos. MrM jokingly called it the Museo of Lost Ninos. How prescient that would turn out to be. Earlier that same day, he had the McBaby on his shoulders and managed to trip over a paving slab. Somehow, I turned around to see this and managed to catch the McBaby who was plummeting towards the ground head first.

The Museum is brilliant - highly colourful, and pleasingly more expensive for children to enter than for adults. It's set out like a little city so that children can sit in cars, stop at the bank, try working at the docks or in supermarkets and see how the water system works (complete with giant toilet and pipes).

The McBaby particularly enjoyed piloting a boat (and setting off the ship's horn) while some other children loaded fruit crates onto it. Then we entered a tactile room with lots of soft, rubbery green fronds hanging from the ceiling. I took a photo of the McBaby and put my camera away. When I looked up, he'd completely vanished. Unfortunately he is not the sort of person who feels inclined to return when you shout his name, not matter how loudly or panicked. And after a minute we truly were panicking, checking the exits (my way was blocked at every one by the staff encouraging the children to run across in front of me - I almost thought it was deliberate at one point in my hysteria), and my brain was going crazy by reminding me that I'd been reading about the fate of aviator Charles Lindbergh's eldest son).

I was screaming the McBaby's name now, imagining the worst and wondering if I'd ever see him again. MrM was much calmer and strategically looked in each different part of the "city" rather than running and screaming indiscriminately. I seem to remember wondering why the staff weren't more concerned and trying to ask in if they could have a look on the cameras, while desperately constructing sentences such as "I've lost my son" in grammatically dubious Spanish.

Eventually, someone said they'd seen him go into another room where we found him, completely unfazed by the panic. I was so relieved to see him I nearly crushed him with a bear hug. I tried to thank all of the staff that had experienced by terrible Spanish with one of them telling me that it happens quite frequently. A member of the public told me that she had six children and hadn't lost any of them - I only had one! Not helpful. Perhaps her children actually come when called?

We tried to cheer ourselves up with a pizza in the shopping mall (keeping a hand on McBaby's shoulder at all times). Don't let our experience put you off visiting this brilliant attraction which will keep young children entertained for hours.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The sitcom (episode 4)

Sometimes my life is so farcical that I wonder if I'm living in my own version of the Truman Show but my version is a comedy of errors about a hapless mum who is always in over her head.

I spent a recent post moaning about having to work in an office which was so bonkers that a recruitment agent apparently refused to place staff within because it would be "bad for their health", so yesterday was my first day of "freedom".

This is a list of what happened:

*My mum is staying at the moment, so while "chatting" away and having a book read to him, the McBaby pooed on her floor. While clearing it up, I found that he'd also managed to poo inside her handbag. I have to admit, that I did hesitate about cleaning it up as I shouldn't really have been looking in there, and it would have been uproariously funny if she'd found it a few days later. I cleared it up. What a champ.

*I took the McBaby into nursery for a couple of hours so I could write something. I picked him up later and he was wearing nappies, but came with a pooey pair of pants, which I managed to drop on the kitchen floor while showing MrM my domestic skills. I had to clear it up before I realised that they were not the McBaby's pants and he was wearing a nappy, so couldn't have been his poo.

*He also came home with a photo frame complete with photo of him inside. Except I protested that it couldn't be him - "it's a blind child!". Or a child squinting into the sun.

*I then had to take him to a photoshoot that I'd been asked to do for a local charity, so I asked my mum to look after him while I did some snapping. I dragged the main players away from the buffet and posed them for the picture. I did get a few usable pictures, but one of them contains my mother in the background throwing a scone into a hedge. "The McBaby dropped it on the floor so I didn't know what to do with it," she protested.

*During the speeches at the same event, the McBaby threw a conker at the window while the local MP was cutting the ribbon.

*Bumped into a friend on the way home, so invited them to our house. They have a house built by the same construction firm, so friend's DH embarrassingly showed me that I had been locking the door (and the window, it transpires) wrongly since we moved in. This was no help at all when my friend then locked herself in the bathroom and I couldn't get her out, so MrM had to break the lock with a screwdriver. I have form with this topic (see Christmas Eve when father-in-law got locked in and also our old house when a new babysitter got locked in the back bedroom).

*Saw another friend selling her beautiful food from a new stall, so bought the McBaby some cake which he dropped on the floor. So I had to buy another. And another.....

End credits roll....

Next week on Unprepared Mum.....

Monday, 29 September 2014

Things that make us smile....

McNephew loves the Pirate song. "When I was one, I had some fun....when I was two, I lost my shoe...the day I went to see" so I asked him to sing it last time he was here.

"I can't," he said sadly. "I lent it to my friend James."


Having packed in my demanding contract job, I joked to MrM that I was going to have so much time on my hands that I was short of stuff to do.

"You could do a cooking course, " he suggested.

Hmmmmmm. Hard not to take that personally!


I swear that this morning the McBaby appeared at the side of the bed and said: "Don't double cross me mummy." MrM heard it too, so don't think it was a dream.


Every night when I put the McBaby to bed, I read him some stories and then lie him down and turn off the light. He usually asks me to lie down beside him, which I do. He then asks to hold my hand and I always present him with my foot. For the moment, this is providing far more hilarity than it should.....


PS. The declutter challenge has been carried out with just one more day to go! It's been challenging to find things every day, so we had to go as far as to do a boot sale and then count things that went outwards such as business cards and incense sticks! The house looks a bit better, but there's still more to do!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Bye bye work!

What a roller coaster. I've been working at a full time job since May and then working on my own business at weekends and in the evenings. All of this is perfectly doable, providing you have a supportive husband who picks up the McBaby and drops him off, and if you're not that bothered about seeing your child.

However, it's all about to change. Despite working hard and delivering above and beyond, someone I was working with started screaming in my face, quite unreasonably (is it ever reasonable? We're talking about some marketing material I'd delivered which she thought had the wrong name on it (it didn't). So I quit. Bye bye long hours, bye bye salary, bye bye working with mean people, bye bye people taking the credit for everything and blaming the rest on me.

I felt bad about my decision; I hate to let work down and it was nice to bring in a regular salary, but after going for a long walk with the McBaby on Saturday, I know I've done the right thing. Unlike work, he is a joy to be with, so kind and thoughtful. This is how he persuaded me:

On Saturday:

1. I held his tiny hand and we went for a gorgeous walk along the canal.

2. He could sense I wasn't happy with work and hugged me, saying: "Don't worry, Mummy!"

3. We were waiting to cross a road when we saw a car coming. Unfortunately, there was a cat sitting in the road. "Come on cat!" he kept shouting urgently.

4. He sang "I'm the King of the castle" while standing on a tree stump. I haven't heard that for ages and didn't even know he knew it - I didn't teach him.

5. He told me that he needed a dinosaur poo. It turned out to be a very apt description.

The moral of the story is that no job is worth your health, no matter how good the salary. The moral is also that spending time with a gorgeous baby is more important than earning money which just goes on diesel, tax and childcare. The moral is that it's so much more life-affirming to spend time with a happy child than with rude, demanding colleagues. Enough is enough. I'm choosing happiness over the nine to life.