Lamb and Spiky Rings and Forgiveness

Right now, there’s a whole leg of lamb slow roasting in the oven that’s been marinated in a paste of onion, garlic, ginger, parsley, paprika, coriander, cinnamon and cumin (which always smells like a sweaty man but somehow tastes like the earth, in a good way). The weather is properly early-summery, with the bluest of skies and a sun that gives you a reddish little smudge on those bits I think you are supposed to spread bronzer on – nose, chin, forehead. The streets are quiet. The kids are quiet, having walked the dog and finished their home schooling and having already built some marvellous and unfathomable things on Minecraft. The flat is tidy (no thanks to me) and we will soon go out for a walk in the park and come back to that lamb, to eat with warmed pitas and thick yoghurt tahini sauce.

That is today – at least, that is right now. Yesterday was different – by 9am Otis had shoved the TV which had knocked the mirror behind it which was holding up a framed collage which smashed onto the floor, spreading tiny little fragments of glass everywhere underfoot. The boys refused to do their schoolwork and gave me that talking-back sass which I think they suspect is kind of charming and which I know is just rude and out of line and which threatens to break me. They undid each room of the flat (of which there are not many) in that careless way that kids do – moving things around and dragging duvets from room to room and opening drawers and taking out seven things which end up stood on or all the way under the kitchen table and always, always, making half-arsed dens with piles of cushions in really inconvenient stupid places. 

Then they woke the baby up halfway through his precious, hard-won nap by running down the hallway, shouting nonsense at each other and trying to sneak past his cot to retrieve a foam sword. Because foam sword retrieval apparently waits for no man. I followed the sound of the baby down the hallway to find three of them looking a bit guilty, my bedroom door wide open, baby puffy-eyed and creased, crying with the shock of a rude awakening. I swore and shouted and swatted two of them about their heads in my white-hot fury (while wearing my enormous spiky rings, more of which later). I made them console the baby who was in pieces, up an hour too soon, cranky and probably quite sick of sharing his space with these ever-present brothers who in the old days used to go somewhere in the daylight hours but who now just litter up the hallways with Lego and their prepubescent clumsy limbs. I was so sick of them and the tasks of schooling them and feeding them and keeping the tensions at some sort of manageable level. I told them that they weren’t even supposed to be here – that they should think of themselves as my unwelcome daytime guests, thank you very much, until the schools reopen and they can go back to where they belong.

Then we went to the garden, they played silently with their magnetic dart board and I realised they are great. My raspberry gin and tonic confirmed that view and by dinnertime I was remorseful and in love with them.  I asked them, over fish goujons, roasted baby potatoes and peas, what they think we could do to have a happier home life. Noah suggested I take my rings off before I swat them on the head. I thought that was fair enough.

A Bit Of Bad News

It’s such a weird time (she says, stating the obvious). We woke up to the news that our house in New Zealand, which is untenanted following the lockdown which saw our tenant leave for the other island, has been robbed. All of our furniture gone, including a kauri chest that was made by my father-in-law for my husband’s mother a long time ago. I can only hope that the thieves needed that furniture and that they can sell it and pay their bills. I have to think that or my belief in people being ultimately good gets a little shaky. And no one died, you know? It’s only stuff (and if I am being entirely honest, I am not sure the Rimu slimline early 2000s restrained furniture aesthetic sits well with my middle-aged newfound love of Hollywood Regency flounce – give me a ceramic lifesize panther and a gold toned palm floor lamp over a skinny bit of wood any day). But it does feel pretty grim, and the Level 4 lockdown situation in New Zealand means that the police can’t do much about it. Nor can we get the house tenanted again soon, so we are using up all our savings pretty quickly. Gah.

Photos of a dirty baby always helps. The first is post-chocolate croissant, the second is what happened when a tin of paint exploded in our storage room. It would have been funny except for little baby eyes, etc. It took a few days to come off and there are still spots in his see-through sparse hair.


This was taken on our weekend walk to Portobello. I bribe the kids to walk up there for Portuguese custard tarts and fizzy cans of passionfruit pop.


In other middle age cliched news, my sourdough game is getting stronger. I’ve found a strong bread flour supplier and so I can make all the loaves I want. Look at that rise on the score! I’ve also started making my own sourdough crackers. (I am boring myself, writing this).


But look again! Here we are, doing our daily park softball shenanigans. Apart from the frequent fights, the hayfever and the dog that runs away, it is magical there right now.


I hope everyone is ok and is learning to navigate the highs and lows of all this oddness. I hope everyone has a strong internet connection. I hope you all have somewhere to go for your mental health and a dose of vitamin D. I wish for you all plenty of hot, fresh tea and books, for friends on zoom and for dinners together and for excess kindness after you inevitably explode.

Let this be over soon, eh?

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4 Responses to Lamb and Spiky Rings and Forgiveness

  1. janeatterbury says:

    Phenomenal sourdough loaf! But boo hiss to the burglars. That is horrible news. You are awesome to see it so charitably.

  2. rose says:

    Thank you so much for the post. Very tough day here. REALLY LOVELY to see your children and read your words and be reminded about the real world. Deeply sorry your home in NZ was so thoroughly robbed … losses are hard. And no one needs them. Very impressed your bread and good supply of flour….. here flour is even scarcer than TP. Huge Appreciation. You are such a help.

    • theharridan says:

      Thank you! We’ve had a glorious day here, and with the sun shining and the kids playing nicely (occasional but it does happen) it feels like we might all get through this. Of course, sourdough helps, as does gin. Onwards and upwards!

  3. John says:

    Lovely post, so sorry about the theft of your furniture. Apart from everything I hope you are all well which it sounds you are. The sourdough looks delicious, hopefully when we get back to some sort of normality I can try some. You and the the gang keep safe and well.

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