Thursday, 3 July 2008

To do AND Diet

The 'diet' has been going well. No chocolate, no bread, just good healthy food, plenty of water, and a 300% increase in the level of exercise. (That last is not hard to achieve if you also include walking to collect the Boys from school in the tally. Yes, I'm desperate). Still, knowing my luck, I will not have lost a single pound when I next weigh myself, though of course I can always console myself with the old 'muscle weighs more than fat' myth. I know this is a myth, by the way, because I trotted it out in front of my trainer at the gym when she gave me my new programme - and she laughed. Pityingly. I think she thought I had rather a way to go before that becomes a problem.


Checking my diary today, I noticed with horror that next Tuesday is Boy #1's school 'graduation' picnic. I know. Graduation - for four year olds. Has the world gone mad? But that's not all, oh no. Those of you with slightly older kids will no doubt already be shaking their heads, and saying "You didn't, did you? Tell me you didn't do it. Tell me you didn't give in to the pressure, pick up the pencil, and write your name next to an item on the list of party foods. You did, didn't you?"

Yes, yes I did.

"Well, tell me at least that it was something simple. Something like punnets of strawberries. Or sausage rolls, available frozen oven-ready in the budget section of the supermarket. Please tell me that, at least!"

I'm afraid I can't.

"Oh, for chrissake. I give up."

And you should, dear reader, you should. For what, in my jet-lagged post Australian trip haze did I sign up to? A batch of 40 home-made jam tarts, that's what. I must be crazy. Not for saying I would make the jam tarts - but for owning up to them in advance. It's one thing to take in a spontaneous offering of muffins or similar for the kids to consume in class, but this? This is a whole different ballgame, for at this Graduation Picnic... there will be Parents.

And not just any parents, oh no. West London Parents. The most competitive of the lot. Very few of them are British, and those that are have long ago spurned Fair Play as for weaklings. The result? Well, here's an excerpt from a post I wrote about Harvest Festival last October, and decide for yourself.

It’s Harvest Festival week at Boy #1’s nursery, and all parents were asked to bring in a box to be donated to the needy, filled with suitable tins, fruit, veg etc. To add to the general excitement it was suggested that the children should decorate them, and that the best would win a prize. Full of team spirit, we duly collected leaves in the park after school and last night Boy #1 and I indulged in an orgy of cutting and sticking whilst he decorated a (large) shoe box in a seasonal styley.

I then filled it with what I thought was appropriate fare (a couple of tins of soup, some biscuits, a home-made jar of redcurrant jelly – home-made but not by me, do you think I'm crazy? - some dried fruit etc). Oh, how little I knew… When we arrived at the school to drop Boy #1 off, I realised I had badly misjudged the situation.

We had to fight our way through the entrance hall; it had suddenly become home to acres of beautifully cellophane-wrapped wicker hampers, boxes, cartons and (I kid you not) one pink enamel rustic style bucket filled with goodies. The were all overflowing with the best that Fortnums, Harrods, Selfridges and Harvey Nicks could offer.

Suddenly our Waitrose goods looked a little cheap… Whilst his teacher valiantly rose to the occasion and pointed out that Boy #1 was one of the few kids who had actually risen to the challenge of decorating their own harvest gift, I must admit that if I were one of the ‘needy’ recipients I know which I would prefer. Am simply not sure that a foliage decorated shoebox - albeit a large one - could cut it compared with some of the grander offerings available...

So. These mommas take no prisoners. I expect most of them to have their chef/house-keeper already working on delectable offerings for next week, and those that don't have staff will probably have booked the local patisserie to supply whatever it is they are providing.

But I refuse to give in. Home-made I have promised, and home-made I will provide. Even though I can see a long weekend of tart making ahead, trying to make the perfect pastry, choosing the perfect jam. Not good, since I'm on a diet, so even if I do manage to restrain myself from testing the tarts during the baking marathon, I am likely to consume most of the results in a sugar-low induced frenzy on the way to drop them off at the school on Tuesday morning.

Something tells me that if I turn up with a few crumbs in the box, and jam around my mouth it may give the game away. Perhaps I'll task Husband to make this delivery.

I can resist anything but temptation.


  1. Hi, Mac's End of Term party is next Friday and yes, I too have promised to bring a "food and/or drink item". Nothing about home made though so am planning on taking along a 2 litre bottle of Volvic and a few cookies from Sainsburys.

    This End of Term party follows the Parents Open Evening which is the night before......Mac has already forewarned me "Mummy, when you come to my school there won't be a lot to see on the walls". I take it this means that his art/writing/numbers pieces of work were not deemed good enough by Mrs Farqhuarson to be put on display but will good enough to be shoved into a black sack to take home to litter my kitchen table.

  2. Our school picnic was rained off. Yess!!!
    Anyway, why don't you do the "store bought but bash them up a bit" like what's her name in that book with the mince pies.

  3. Has the world gone mad? Yes.

    Please PM - Please! Hang in there for the rest of us sane ones. Throw in some badly made falling apart crusts so that those of us who can't shop at those silly names (I of course haven't got a clue what they are but can guess) will still be able to hold our heads up and let our shame shine forth like a beacon to all the others who need us.

  4. Aaah, those black sacks, NH Mum. Make sure you don't open it over carpet or a rug - it will take you ages to get out the glitter that showers prettily to the floor as you pull out his artwork...

    Alison Pearson, EPM, in 'I don't know how she does it'. Gosh, that book struck a chord when I read it - mainly because I was between kids and back at work. And I have to admit - the thought has crossed my mind to 'distress' some shop-bought jam tarts. You won't tell, will you?

    Aims, 'badly made falling apart crusts'? I think I can probably live up to that requirement, don't worry.

  5. Isn't Pig this side of the water at the moment? I think you should invite her over for a glass of something... and while you're here, Pig...

    A packet of frozen pastry and a jar of the best jam you can lay your hands on and it'll be done in a trice. But getting husband to deliver them might just be a good plan.

  6. My friend had the same dilema yesterday. Her son had promised on her behalf that she would 'make crepes for everyone' for the end of term fete. Not being a fan of anything 'homemade' she went into panic mode and asked if I could help out (I make all her kids birtday cakes), but unfortunatly I didn't have the time. As a last resort she travelled 25 mins to 'Bouncy Castle World' where she new they made them 'fresh'(we live in France) and bought 30 for 30 Euros! The things we do for our kids!

  7. GPM, we are of like minds. I already went out and bought the ready-made pastry and jam this morning. And I would imagine Pig is over the hills and far away by now, somewhere in deepest Kent, so think I will leave her in peace.

    Hello TT, thanks for the visit (and apologies for the abbrev, hope it's OK). It must be crepe season at the moment; my mum has been slaving over a hot stove making them for their church fete this weekend. I just hope the Boys don't pick up that though, or we will all be forced to make a trip to Somerset to placate the pancake monsters we have created...

  8. I was making refrigerator cake for the village fete last week. I did lick the wooden spoon (delicately I thought) and it was only an hour later when I glanced in the mirror that I noticed I had a vast chocolate mustache either side of my mouth. Now that *is* a good look!

  9. I can't believe that four year olds have graduation! What next, will they be filling in UCAS forms and having accountancy firms come to nurseries for the Milk Round?

  10. Hello Potty Mummy, I found you through Dulwich Divorcee's blog. I wasn't sorry to say goodbye to all that alpha mummy stuff when we moved to France a few years ago. DD has just left primary school and one parent shoved a wilting bunch of supermarket flowers in the hand of the maƮtresse and that was it. So much easier than all the angsting over which particular pressie from John Lewis was the most suitable/looked the most expensive/is least likely to have been chosen by another alpha mummy. School fairs were a nightmare as there were lots of American Mommies at school who seemed born to bake, unlike me who is born to buy baked goods. Bon courage. VLiF

  11. Hello Mud, thanks for visiting and I LOVE refrigerator cake. Not helpful to think of it whilst on a diet, of course...

    VG, what, you mean they don't do that in your area?

    VLiF, thanks for stopping by and it sounds like you made a good decision. We've been marshalled to fork out for £30 each as a leaving present for Boy #1's teachers: even I am capable of doing the maths; that's £360 in JL vouchers split between 2 teachers. Not a bad haul, I would say. Though at least this way the element of competition between parents has been taken out of it!

  12. I can't believe the Harvest Festival Offerings, what a nightmare! I would have done the same as you Potty, God what is wrong with people?

  13. Whatever you can get away with, I say. I'm sure they'll taste perfectly good anyway! Oh, the endless effort. M :-)


Go on - you know you want to...