Penelope Wears It Well

London. I Love You

Yesterday it was an INSET day, tacked on the the end of a mostly good, not-overly-shouty half term holiday, and so we spent our last day getting liberally SHOWERED with both otherworldly Springish sunshine and Spanish ‘slebs.

At the pirate park, the park with the pirate ship and sand and organic pizzas and teepees in the grounds of Kensington Gardens, where we have played for so long and for so many years that I can take you on a personal tour of places where the children have lost a fingernail in the orbiting spinner, the preferred tree house where they eat their pizza, the toilets to avoid, the best places to dig in the sand for other people’s forgotten toys, the bush that Noah got lost in and then a woman found him and told me off for neglect, etc, etc, well, yesterday, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem and their two kids were there. SCREAM! And here they are!


Right in the middle of that oh so casual snap, but of course, mindful of not being too much of a freakish stalker who annoys them on their holiday, I took it very fast. And so Penelope’s head, which was in a very lovely floppy hat, the kind of hat that only those who are a bit famous can wear, is obscured by a big leaf. And Javier is texting, and he looks like a lumberjack. And in any case, they are so small I could be making it all up, the delusion brought on by ten days of sole charge of the five boys and the overweight dog and their endless fights over food, small Lego pieces, positions on the couch and lost magnets. Which I am sure you could forgive me if I did, but I SWEAR that is they. And then, to top off the day’s rich celeb sighting, Jason Donovan cycled past us on our way to the Science Museum to buy more magnets to replace the lost ones. He sooooo should have married Kylie.

Also, London is loveable because you can entertain yourself, and the children and the dog for free for ten days and never do the same thing twice. And you can walk or take the bus and the tube, and mostly, it is safe, and mostly, they kids don’t fall down the escalators at Charing Cross station. Only once, they do that. Pulling the buggy halfway down with them, and making me get very shout and red and panicked and threatening to take them all home to SIT IN THE DARK! And do NOTHING! But MAYBE TIDY UP THE LEGO PIECES WHILE WE THINK ABOUT SAFETY! But we continued on, and made it to the Transport Museum to run around without reading any of the information, just looking for the stamp machines to stamp their passports and then go get babyccinos while having learnt nothing at all about Hackney carriages and trams.

And what else? We spent a morning getting muddy and rained on in Holland Park, and saw three peacocks who wisely ran away from the boys who had decided they were on a peacock feather hunt. Here is a peacock having fled the children, on a roof, taunting them with his plumage:


And we watched street performers at Covent Garden, spent £50 at Borough market buying mushroom pate, bread blessed at Southwark cathedral,  roast pork and brownie, walked from Borough to the Southbank alongside the river and stopped to mudlark and picked up ancient mussel shells, 400 year old clay pipes and shiny worn glass, then found farm animals to hold outside the Royal Festival Hall.



And the boys even found the time (and the balls) to tell the teenage skaters at the half pipe to “Fall Off!”. We hastily left.


And it was birthday cake season again, with two kids turning nine and four in a week. Here is the Rainbow Cake Of Joy:



Filthy, stomach-lining-staining, but a vessel of ROYGBIV happiness, none the less. It never gets tired.

And here is the Dog, who steals food and rubbish whenever he can. The vet kindly scolded me for making him 7kg too fat, and said he should have a waist. Well, shouldn’t we all, really? So now he only gets fed once a day, and he is very sad about it. Although, in that photo, I believe he is smiling. He is smiling, to hide his waistless-fat-dog-shame.


Annnd finally, here is a series of notes, passed to my by Noah who was refusing to speak to me. He had attacked Casper for something, and I clipped him around the ear, and he was horrified and said he would never speak again and would never forgive me. I was doing the online supermarket food shop at the time, and asked everyone for their favourite dinners, and when it got to him he couldn’t have his turn, and so he relented to writing notes. He chose Spisy Chickn Raps, for the record. And then he passed me these:


And so, just like that, he gave up his principles for a pair of 78p metal handcuffs with a key. HA!

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17 Responses to Penelope Wears It Well

  1. Jo Crawford says:

    You have to keep those notes to show off at his 21st/ wedding… So funny 🙂 x

    • theharridan says:

      Yep! Thank goodness for this blog, really, so I can dredge up all of their childhood shame. They will most certainly need therapy, but at least we all get a chuckle! It’s the least they can do, really. Payback, fair and square.

  2. kerry says:

    I need to be more observant of the celebrities in our midst, I never see them!
    I think applause all round on the survival of half term, sounds like you squeezed more in than anyone. So true about the transport museum. Hope all ok after the escalator escapade? Sounds hair raising! Yes definitely keep Noah’s notes for future use.

    • theharridan says:

      Yes, the escalator falling down thing was horrible. It was Ned, yanking on the buggy because he likes the right hand side, not the left. So he squeezed in between me, the buggy and the escalator wall and pushed us over and down. It was awesome.

  3. Gem says:

    just soooo funny. I honestly look forward to your blog posts as much as I used to look forward to my Bunty comic arriving on a Sat morning. And man, I REALLY looked forward to that. x x x

    • theharridan says:

      Well, thank you! I should write more, but those children drain my creative juices. It’s lucky I have enough energy to give them toast and jam, really.

  4. jacksta_b says:

    I love your tales…always makes me smile.

  5. Those notes made me cry with laughter. Wonderful. Also, I thought NOTHING would EVER make me miss London, but your tales and your photos did.

    • theharridan says:

      Thank you! I see you have a bundle of chilluns yerself, so you understand the dual joy/horror of it all. It’s nothing that a nightly bottle of prosecco can’t fix, though, eh? *passes out*

  6. Christie says:

    This is a brilliant post but you failed to mention that you were spotted as a ‘sleb yourself. My very good friend Alison tells me that she saw you at the Transport Museum (she works there) and approached you and told you how wonderful and funny this blog was. As the person who got her onto reading The Harridan, I am having a little glow of happiness about it all…. all the way from Tasmania.

    And yes, you have made me miss London very, very much.

  7. theharridan says:

    Ohhhh that was so lovely! I have never had that happen to me, and I was grinning from ear to ear and telling everyone I knew that I was spotted! And so thank you, for passing on the blog to her. It means a lot, actually. You never really know if anyone cares about your little stories, so it was very nice to meet Alison. And London misses you too, you know x

  8. Cath says:

    I love reading your blog and am amazed that you manage to take all the children on the Tube at all – glad the falling down the escalator hasn’t put you off. I find just taking my three on the bus pretty stressful as there is always one who wants to get off and one who refuses to get off!

    • theharridan says:

      We have that too, and always a lagger. Casper had the tube doors close on him last week but we pulled him though. Nightmare!

  9. shambition says:

    Do you mind if I promote your blog on Groupthink? It’s the offshoot community site of Jezebel and I think a lot of people on there would love it as much as I do.

  10. theharridan says:

    Scream! Yes please! I would be delighted, ms Shambition. It would make me v EXCITED

  11. Alison Cross says:

    How amazing that you saw the Cruz-Bardems. Both of them gorgeous creatures! And the pix of the kids in London are wonderful – they look like their own little gang of fun! And the CAKE!!! That is off-the-scale amazing!!!

    I have a greyhound that I keep feeding up to make his spine and hips disappear. All that has happened is that he has gotten fat around the middle. Nothing looks worse than a pudgy greyhound, still rocking his Jagger hips, but his Richards tummy too 😀

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