Monday 30 May 2011

Mirror Mirror on the Wall; In The Powder Room...

So, I've been thinking about the In The Powder Room's CyberMummy 11 competition. You know, the one where a lucky person can win a ticket to this year's CyberMummy and two nights in the Hoxton Hotel, courtesy of ITPR. You don't know? May I politely suggest you get your butt over there toute d'suite and check it out? Anyway, I would like to give it a shot. In brief, to qualify for entry you need to write a post about who you would like to meet In The Hoxton Powder Room. I can do that, I thought. I can write a post like that.

But who would I like to meet? That, my friends, is the question, and one which - since it requires concentration and a longer attention span than the 2 minutes I have in between being asked to fix the lego airplane that has just broken / find the bakugan that has just drifted under the sofa / help with the Dutch homework that I have no idea how to translate - is slightly removed from my current style of blogging, which could best be described as 'stream of consciousness'. Experienced bloggers will also know this school of writing as 'just throwing any interesting thoughts you have down on paper / your laptop as quickly as you can because you know from bitter experience that they are going to disappear faster than a snowball in hell when the kids start bleating for dinner'. But I digress.

Who, oh who would I like to meet?

I sit and think about it. A few minutes pass. A bit of coughing. The odd itch. I scratch my leg and realise there is a blob of something that looks suspiciously like ketchup on the hem of my jeans. I check my watch and realise I still have to hang up the laundry before I do the school run...



A big, black, gaping hole of nothingness...

OK, let's try a visualisation technique.

(Cue spooky 'Tales of the Unexpected'-type music and blurry 70's type pixelated picture, slowly resolving into a curtain-draped powder room...)

I'm reclining gracefully on a bow-backed chaise-longue, waiting my turn for the loo when behind me the door hinges squeak ever so slightly and a cold breeze announces someone else has arrived.

I look in the mirror to check who it is. Is it a famous celebrity, a well-known actress, or a luminary from history?


It's a young girl, around 15 years old, painfully shy with shoulders hunched and wearing what she obviously thinks is the world's worst outfit. Well, I have to be honest, it's not great; it's a dark grey skirt and top combo with puffy sleeves, shot through with tiny strips of tinsel in blue, red and silver, accessorised with a hang-dog expression, sparkly gold eyeshadow, slightly dandruffy brown hair, and patches of eczema around her mouth and on her inner arms and wrists.

Holy shit.

It's me. Aged 15 and at a Christmas Party for young wannabe county-types in Cheltenham Town Hall sometime in the 1980's.

She would dearly love to be anywhere other than here, this girl, and god do I remember how that feels. The sense of being on the outside looking in, the awkwardness that adolescence brings (multiplied to a power of ten by that bloody eczema), the longing to be just like Rachel C from Form 5D with her flicky fringe, suede-blue eyes, delicate ankles, and a hip-flask of disgusting-tasting gin in her handbag. And the knowledge that it was Rachel C who would 'get off' with Peter F at the end of evening, not her.

She walks up to the mirror, this younger me, looks at her reflection, and sighs heavily. Hopeless, it's hopeless, her expression says, as she checks in her pockets to see if she has 2p (remember when a phone call only cost 2p?) to call home to ask if she can be picked up early.

What would I like to tell her? My mind races. Should I tell her that everything is going to be alright? That before she knows it 2 long years of hiding her mouth behind her hand when in the presence of a remotely attractive boy will be over when the eczema starts to abate? Should I tell her that whilst her forthcoming exams aren't going to turn out great, they'll be good enough? Perhaps I should mention that her family will, before long, move to another town where she'll discover that being the new girl, whilst it has it's drawbacks, also brings a wealth of opportunity and that she will not just take on the challenge of reinventing herself but will (pardon my french) make it her bitch?

Perhaps I should mention that the experiences she's going through now will make her a strong, independent, feisty woman who (after a couple of false starts, obviously, but she's only human), will have a life with few regrets and a lot of achievements to be proud of. And that she will be happy, in a good, sustainable, way, and will try to spread that around as much as possible. That her life will have more ups than downs and that when she does have the downs, she will - mostly - maintain her sense of perspective and hold onto the adage 'this too shall pass'.

All of this rushes through my mind as I stand up, straighten my skirt, and walk over to the mirror besides her. And then I tell her something really important. Something I wish someone had told me all those years ago, and which will probably make more of a difference to her than any of the other things I was thinking of before.

"Straighten your shoulders, lift your chin, and stick out your chest,sweetheart. You've got a great figure and you're going to have (I'm told on the best authority) lovely boobs - don't be embarrassed and spend your life hunched over trying to hide them."

She gawps at me in amazement. Who do I think I am, she's wondering. Who is this crazy old (well, didn't 44 seem old to you when you were 15?) woman in the wedge heels in need of a hair cut, without even a lick of sparkly lipstick and offering unsolicited advice? I hold her gaze in the mirror for a moment and wipe a smudge of eyeliner from where it's settled in the crease under my lashes.

"Be proud of who and what you are. All of what you are. I promise you; you won't regret it."

As she drops her 2p into the sink in shock and scrabbles around to find it, I pick up my handbag and when she glances up again, I've gone. Only the faint strains of the theme music for 'Tales of the Unexpected' hint that anything untoward has even happened...

Bloody hell - where did that come from? I was convinced I was going to write about Boudicca and her envy of the Romans' way with plumbing and sewerage systems...

And for those of you looking for a trip down Memory Lane this evening, here's a reminder of those famous 'Tales of the Unexpected' opening and closing credits, complete with the Anglia knight on horseback. Sigh. I AM that old...

Things you REALLY don't want to hear from your sons #115...

..."Sniff my finger, mama. Go on, sniff it!"*

It's at moments like these that you really understand what it is to be the mother of boys. That, and when his older brother asks - after you've given him a towel-wrapped cuddle at bathtime, dropping kisses on the top of his head - whether you would like to kiss his butt as well (before he collapses in a damp & fragrant heap of giggles on the bathroom floor...)

How unlike the home life of our own dear queen...

* Rest assured; I did not sniff said finger. Instead I marched Boy #2 to the bathroom and washed his hands before dumping him in the bath, trying all the time (somewhat unsuccessfully, I'll admit) to stay on high ground and choke back the laughter...

Friday 27 May 2011

Want to know 'Why I Blog'?

Then head on over here to the BritMums blog where I'm blowing my own trumpet. Again.

(And which, if I have to be honest, I'm especially delighted about featuring on, because having it up there takes 'write blog post' off the list of things I need to do today...)

Wednesday 25 May 2011

The Gallery; My Back Yard

This post is for Tara's Gallery (click here to see all the other entries) and the theme this week is 'My Backyard'.

I'm not going to show you a picture of our garden; we live in a compound so technically I suppose we don't have one of our own. Instead I'm going to show you these, all of which were taken not too far from where we live and which I think illustrate some of the extremes of living in Russia...

All of these photos were taken on one 2 1/2 hour walk...

Yes, that was a submarine sitting innocently in a reservoir...

Yes, that is a picture of an icon pinned randomly to a tree in the forest...

Yes, those are bottles of water that people are filling at a spring to take home and drink, in what is not exactly the cleanest city on earth...

Monday 23 May 2011

Excellence in PR, Lego-styley

Dear Lego,

may I congratulate you on one of the best scams I've been suckered by since arriving in Moscow. And no, I'm not talking about the vastly inflated prices charged here for some of your 'hot' items, such as $60 on your US website for Emporer Palpatine's Shuttle vs $130 in your Russian catalogue. Masterful... Or the Droid Tri-Fighter for sale at $50 here vs $25 in the US? Awesome... (And yes, I do know that you also charge higher prices in the UK than the US, but that's a subject for a whole other post - and Lego is 'still' only 50% more expensive to buy in the UK market, rather than 100% more expensive, as in Russia).

No, I'm writing to congratulate you on the PR masterpiece that is Lego World in downtown Moscow. 300R (£6.50) for a single adult or child to gain entry to a large room filled with boxes of Lego which - amazingly - they then get to play with? Wow. That must have been some brainstorm. And the master-stroke of having the room staffed by young adults who, whilst perfectly pleasant, are not actually assisting the kids and for the most part are totally over the whole Lego thing (apart from those busy with their own creations, obviously)? Spot on. Oh, and I must give you a special commendation for the extra touch of having that guy walking around with a mic who never stopped talking, adding to the generally frenzied air of "Quick! Quick! Must play with Lego before my time runs out and I have to go home, where I only have Lego to play with!". Yep. He was great.

Of course, I really shouldn't forget the placement of a large product fixture directly by the exit to the show. What parent could leave without wanting to buy their little darling more of what they have just been playing with, so they can take the whole experience home with them and add it to the boxes of the stuff their children already have? (Well, I can think of one or two, but...)

So yes, Lego, I have no doubt that your Russian pr department are currently patting themselves on the back for a job well done. You can be sure that this event will stick in my mind, at least, for some time to come.

Best wishes

Potty Mummy

Note: in Lego's defence, I must say that both my sons - and plenty of the other kids there - loved it. Boy #1 in particular loved the opportunity to watch other children playing Lego games on the PSP, (without being allowed to participate himself, obviously). My issue is not about the experience per se, so much as the amount of money we were charged so that they could spend an hour, 1 and a half hour's drive from home, doing exactly what they do at in their own bedroom...

Friday 20 May 2011

We also clean windows...

Walking my sons to school this morning, I heard the first nightingale of the summer. It's unmistakeable, the song of a nightingale; once heard, never forgotten (and as soon as I work out how to put a sound clip onto Blogger - all hints much appreciated, by the way - I'll let you hear it too), and it suddenly struck me; who knew I would have to move all the way to Moscow to experience it?

I certainly never heard one in London. And I never would have expected to hear one here either, if I'm honest. But that's what being an expat can be like; realising that there is alway so much more to - well, practically anywhere - than your preconceptions.

So for those who might imagine Moscow as snowy, grey, dirty and full of brutal modernist architecture (and I'm not going to tell you that it isn't all of those things at least some of the time, it is), here's a glimpse of another side to city living here. All of these photos were taken within 5 metres of my front door...

(And yes - that is a Potski Front FlowerBed Springwatch shot I snuck in at the end...)

If you've enjoyed this post, might I ask that you click on this link to take you over to 'Circle of Moms' where they are currently voting for their top 25 Expat Mom Blogs? You don't have to vote for me (although of course that would be very much appreciated), but there are plenty of other interesting blogs on there to look at, some of which you might recognise...

Thursday 19 May 2011

The Great Chocolate Outrage of 2011

It's the little things that can push you over the edge as an expat, I find. I'm not talking about when you first arrive at a destination, when you're half-dazed with taking in new and strange things, and so busy acclimatizing to your environment that it seems as if your new place of residence will never feel like home. Everywhere you look — at least, to a first-time expat like myself — you see unfamiliar procedures and customs. "Why can't I turn left on this empty road?" you wonder. "Why do I have to pay for my petrol before I fill up at the pump?" "Why, when I want to buy anything at a swanky cosmetic store, is it necessary to select my goods, be given a ticket, walk to the opposite side of the store to pay, and then take my receipt back to the original counter to collect my goods?"

Good questions, perhaps, but also all things that simply are, and as my husband said to me shortly after we arrived in Moscow, "'There's no point asking 'Why?' Don't ask 'Why?' Just ask 'How?'" Excellent advice, and since I started to follow it most of those perplexing "Why" moments have disappeared. So no, it wasn't a "Why?" moment that caused me to throw my toys out of the pram and stomp crossly around for a good five minutes this weekend before deciding to indulge in the free therapy of writing it down.

What happened? Well, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that it involved … chocolate. Namely, a Britain-sourced stash of it that I had been hoarding since a recent trip back to England, and which is entirely unavailable here in Russia — at least, on the open market. Obviously, it is possible to buy chocolate here, I know that. But if you are at all a fan of this particular form of fat in a handy handbag-sized block, you will know that not all chocolate is created equal. Chocolate, you see, is produced specifically for local markets, to local tastes, and recipes vary from one country to the next. In Russia, consumers like their chocolate sweet. And that's OK, that's fine, but if you've been brought up on semi-skimmed milk then full fat just isn't going to cut it if you want a refreshing drink. So it is with chocolate, and I'm afraid that I'm not a fan of the Russian version.

I'm sure there are plenty of people who would throw their hands up in horror at this confession. Russian chocolate is — I've been reliably informed by many Russians — the best in the world. Nothing can compare. And I learned the hard way not to argue with this when, on a crusade to educate a Russian friend on what "real" (as in "my preferred type of") chocolate actually is, I gave her a box that I had brought back from the Britain with strict instructions not to share it, only to discover a couple of days later that the individually wrapped bars of nectar had ended up in her children's lunchboxes. Oh, the horror …

So now, I keep schtum — and on the plus side, don't have to share. The chocolate I bring back from trips to Blighty with me is mine, all mine. Occasionally I share it with my family, but since I'm blessed with a husband and sons for whom any type of chocolate will do, I can usually make shift with a locally available equivalent when they want some.

This form of brand-blindness does have it's drawbacks, unfortunately, since it also means that if any chocolate will do, my precious stash will also serve if I'm not there to defend it, lioness-like, from my husband's cupboard raids. Which is exactly what happened this weekend when my back was turned, and it was the subsequent discovery that the last two rows of the bar I had been eking out (for which read: "jealously hoarding") had disappeared into my husband's uncaring stomach, was what tipped me over the edge.

So. What have I learned from this? Oh, forget any nonsense about sense of perspective and bigger pictures. No, it's to hide my chocolate better — or at least, to put the easier-to-obtain brands at the front of the cupboard.

And what has my husband learned from this? That he can transport me to a different country can mistakenly take the house keys to work with him when I'm not home, can forget to sign important documents, and chop and change dinner and holiday arrangements at a moment's notice and I won't turn a hair, but mess with my chocolate?

Now that's a step too far …

This post first appeared on my other blog over at The Moscow Times...

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Things my sons have said to me today...

Things my sons have said to me today...

1. Whilst walking home from school we passed three men clearly on the way back from the supermarket, carrying shopping bags and chatting amongst themselves. Boy #1 waited until they had walked past and then turned and said to me: "That's a tough-looking crew..."

2. On arriving back home, I asked Boy #2 what he would like for a snack; a banana, or a plum. He sighed heavily, and said "Surprise me..."

3. Boy #2, on discovering that the Lego of his dreams cost more money than he has in piggy bank: "Well, it's easy I guess. You just have to give me more pocket money..."

Thursday 12 May 2011

Springwatch, reviews, and free - yes FREE - money...

It's Thursday. I know, I know; Potski Front Flowerbed Spring Watch time. All those millions of devotees out there will no doubt be delighted to know that finally - finally - we have some real action out there. I have to say, when I shouted so loudly about the swiftness of the Russian spring back at the end of March, I was rather hoping that it might be a little quicker than it has so far, but there you go. Lesson, learned.

Here we are then.

Today's photo; with sunshine (hurrah!) but without Lego figurines. Why is that, I hear you ask? Where's GT? Where's Mexican Marracca Man? What have the unidentified men in uniforms at the side of the road been up to lately? Well, I'm not sure, but I suspect it involves the bottom of Boys #1 and #2's pockets because no matter how hard I search, I can't find them.

Let me bring you instead some reviews. No! NO! Don't click away - I promise to make it worth your while to stick around - well, worth one of you's while, anyway - courtesy of a £15 gift card those nice people at Next sent me after I took part in one of their campaigns but which, due to various inconveniences like the British postal system and my not having been able to collect it before last weekend meant that I only got my sticky paws on a couple of days back...

First up; Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Part 1. I know I'm behind the curve on this, what with everyone else having received their review copy and written about it ages ago, but I was only able to watch it (on Blu-Ray) last night since - like the Next card - I only collected it last weekend. What did I think? I should warn you that I loved all the Harry Potter books, and the last one in particular, so much that I re-read it almost as soon as I had finished it the first time. Essentially, I wasn't going to be a cheap date on the movie. However... I loved it. I remember when it came out in cinemas, there was talk of it being gloomy, ominous and menacing. Well, newsflash: so is the book. It had to be, as the climax of the series, and as I said to Husband last night whilst we watched it, the movie reaffirmed my belief that JK Rowling is a genius. A GENIUS, I tell you. I can't wait to see Part 2 when it comes out this summer.

That said, I'm afraid I won't be showing either to the Boys just yet. They can handle a fair amount of excitement on-film, but I don't fancy trying to get them upstairs to bed if they have heads full of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and Dementors. Over-protective? Perhaps, but I'm the mummy, after all...

Second, Umi shoes. Umi very kindly sent me 2 pairs of these, one for each of the Boys. I've been looking for hard-wearing elastic-fronted sneakers for them for ages; and these seem perfect for the boys to use when they need to get out of the house in a hurry and run around doing all the stuff outside that boys do. Of course they are also useful for kicking around in when all they want to do is just play on their DS's... (not that mine do that. Ever. No, sirree...)

Third, Feather and Black. Not content with selling beds and bedding, they've recently launched into nightwear for kids - specifically in this case, boy's pjyama's - and they saved my bacon when we arrived in the UK last weekend only to discover - horror - the set I had packed for Boy #2 were too big and didn't meet his exacting sartorial standards. Enter these boys Jaws short pyjamas from Feather and Black (we were lucky enough to receive a set for each Boy), which are great quality, are a big hit and now firm favourites.

Fourth (and this one is WAY overdue), just before Christmas we received a trial pack of Multi-Vitamin Gummy Bears from FitVits (at time of receipt, a monthly supply cost £6.99). There's a handy pack of four per day, and Boy #1 particularly loved them. Living here, where leafy greens etc are a little harder to get hold of than I might like, these were great. The only problem is that they don't stock them in our local supermarket in Moscow...

And fifth, and finally, also just before Christmas I was fortunate enough to be sent a Nokia N8, with the specific aim of trialling their 'Own Voice' app. This is a handy sat-nav app on your swanky touch-screen mobile phone which allows you to record the voices of your loved ones giving you directions, rather than some faceless person you've never met. The facility to record the voices worked very well, however, there is a reason I haven't reviewed this phone up until now. It's not because I'm dis-organised (although, I am). It's not because I don't like the phone, I do, very much indeed and I use far more of the options on it than I ever did with my previous Nokia.

I put all my appointments on there, I sync all my contacts and diary automatically with my online account every week, there is an amazing camera on it, and it's so easy to text that I could almost be using a laptop. However, what I can't do, and which is ironic since it's the reason I was sent the phone in the first place, is use the Own Voice app in Moscow, for two reasons. One, it only shows half of Moscow on the map (the Western half, if you're wondering...). And two, it won't let me input addresses using the cyrillic alphabet, which makes life difficult since that's usually what I've been sent an address in.

Other than that, though? Great phone. Love it. And if anyone from Nokia is reading this, a little help with the OV app would be much appreciated...

Now, as a reward for reading all the way through that (you did read it all, didn't you? You didn't just skip to the end or anything like that?) I promised you the chance to get your paws on the £15 Next gift card I picked up last week. Here's how. Leave a comment on this post, and I will put your name into a hat. The winner will be drawn by a 5 or 7 year old independent adjudicator some time next week and the name will be published on this blog. If you want to be notified by email as well, drop me a line at pottymummy at gmail dot com when you enter with the words 'Next Gift Card Draw' in the header. (Capitals are not a necessity...). The card will be sent out from within the UK, to a UK address only.

That's it! Thanks for reading. Now go and have a cup of tea - I don't know about you, but I'm parched after all that talking...

This was a sponsored post. In case you hadn't worked that out for yourself...

Tuesday 10 May 2011

'Oh to be in England' now that it's May*

It's a special kind of torture for me, visiting the English countryside in May.

I don't get homesick, as a rule. I prefer to try and live in the moment, and look ahead to the future than to wallow in the past and what might have been. I love my life in Moscow - well, most of it, anyway. Sure, London is where I feel most complete, most grounded but I wouldn't want to have missed out on this chance to be in Russia, and to shake things up a little, to 'live a life far from prozac' (Husband's expression, not mine, but it's apt enough for me to have nicked it here).

But I'm only human, and I have always thought May the most beautiful month of the year to be in England, with the blossom, the briar roses in the hedges, the still-fresh colours and a sense of newness everywhere. Oh, the weather's not reliable, I know that; after weeks of blazing sunshine, the rain came down - on and off - on my brother's wedding on Saturday. But it was as much off as on, and still warm, and frankly if you want guaranteed sunshine on your big day the best piece of advice I could give you is to go to Las Vegas (I write that as someone who also had rain on her wedding day and really, it didn't spoil a thing...).

So I have to admit that yesterday morning, driving across Salisbury Plain with clouds scudding across the sky, more shades of green in evidence than I would ever have though possible, and surrounded by the beautiful rolling landscape, it was hard to come to terms with the fact that we were headed for Heathrow and that journey's end - yesterday, anyway - was Moscow, Russia.

"Look at that..." I said, misty-eyed to Husband as we took the back road to Shrewton over the plain, surrounded by the sort bucolic loveliness I had grown up with in the Cotswolds but which I had mistakenly thought no longer had much effect on me.

He looked at me as I blinked back the tears. "You can take the girl out of England, but you can't take England out of the girl."

Truer than I had realised.

*with apologies to Robert Browning. Although to be fair, in the second verse of the poem - you can read it here - he does wax lyrical about May, too...

Thursday 5 May 2011

Boy #2 does it again (and Springwatch, wk - oh, who cares...)

This morning there was a fracas at the breakfast table - as there probably is at most breakfast tables featuring the combination of a 5 year old boy, a 7 year old boy, and two tired and preoccupied parents.

The end result was that the lego creation Boy #2 had been working on this morning (instead of getting dressed, laying the table, brushing his teeth or indeed doing anything else he had been asked to do) lost what he believed to be a vital component.

OK, I knocked it onto the floor by mistake. So shoot me.

Anyway, after the resulting fire-storm had cleared and Boy #2 was drying his eyes, the following exchange took place.

Me: "Have a drink of water, Boy #2. You need it to replace all the tears you just cried."

Boy #2: "No, I don't. The water I drink goes to my stomach, not to my tears."

Me: "Well, where does the water you cry come from if not from the water you drink?"

Boy #2: "Mama. The water I cry, the water in my tears, comes from my heart..."

Oh god. I'm toast.

Now, for you die-hards who have stuck with the Potski Front Flowerbed Springwatch, thanks for coming back but there are no lego figurines this week, I'm afraid (I figure the above anecdote is payment enough for your troubles). But I have taken the photo. And there are definite stirrings in the undergrowth. Or, there would be - if we had any undergrowth...

Wednesday 4 May 2011

The Gallery: April

This post is for The Gallery on Sticky Fingers. Click here to see all the other fabulous entries...

So, the prompt for this week's gallery is 'April'. Oh, how I would love to show you photographs of Union Jacks flying and street parties a-plenty. Sadly, I was in Moscow last week (and seldom have I felt further away from home), so I don't have any shots like that use. Instead, here are 3 photographs showing the beginning, middle, and end of April - Moscow styley.

Tuesday 3 May 2011

Where, oh where, have they gone?

There are some important questions that need answering, in my humble opinion as a mum.

What happens to all the missing socks? Hmm? I know they're 'out there', somewhere, but where is 'there' exactly? Because every time I go back to the UK I stock up on socks for my sons and every time, within 2 months, on average 20% of them have gone. Pffft! Disappeared! What are the Boys doing with them? Eating them? Using them as stuffing for the insides of their beloved soft toys? Trading them for Bakugans when my back is turned? (This last is possible, I suppose...)

Where do the Boys water bottle tops go? I went to considerable trouble to source non-BPA-containing water bottles and hey presto, the lid have disappeared. So now we're back to using disposable plastic water bottles. Not that I'm worried, to be honest; the day those water bottles come home from school with even one sip drunk from them has yet to dawn. (Although of course there are water fountains in the school, which I suppose are far more fun to drink from, what the opportunities for soaking yourself, your friends and the surrounding floor and everything). And yet still I laboriously fill the bottles each morning and send them out in the hope my sons will re-hydrate at some point during the day...

Where do the library books go? Actually, I know the answer to this one; our much-valued cleaner is of the 'if I put your mess into piles it all looks much tidier' persuasion. This is fine generally, but does mean that the kid's library books (which, no matter how often I try to corral them into one space, miraculously scatter like mercury spilt from a smashed thermometer the moment my back is turned) are randomly mixed with piles of other books, newspapers and important papers on her visits. Admittedly, the piles do look tidier, but it gets a little expensive when you have to finally come clean with the school librarian and admit that 'The Price of Victory', last sighted before Christmas, has gone awol indefinitely and yes, here is $20 to cover it...

Were do the lego figurine heads go to? Now I know, I shouldn't be bothered by this one, but as shown by this post and this one, I have an unhealthy level of interested in lego figurines. To say that I spent nearly 2 hours searching for GT for this post would not be overstating it.

Where do the hours go? Actually, scratch that. I know the answer, it's staring me - and you - in the face.

What have you inexplicably lost recently?