My name is Libby and I like a drink…..


My name is Libby and I like a drink!

Prosecco and gin are probably the favourites but wine (white, pink, red, green, fortified), beer, cider, spirits (except perhaps Pernod after an ‘incident’ with it at the Glen Bar at Southampton University in the early 90s that resulted in me throwing up in a soon to be boyfriend’s sink in his university room – but maybe after a quarter of a century I should try it (the Pernod, not the vomiting) again?) are all imbibed on a reasonably frequent basis.

The husband is also a fan of a post work beverage – and it had got to the point where we were drinking most nights.  I’d spoken to a GP friend about alcohol in general – and her view was you need to have at least 3 dry days/ nights a week to not have an issue – and we weren’t hitting that target.  It’s not like we were hiding vodka bottles in the airing cupboard, or needing a glass of wine to start the day – but still we knew we were drinking too much.

We’ve tried the ‘not drinking in the week’ thing – but more often than not something would crop up – bad day at work, kids being a pain, seeing friends – that would result in a bottle being cracked – and ‘the week’ would become a random Tuesday.

I’m also trying to lose some weight – and whilst my eating is fairly good, and I exercise at least 3 times a week – I have been stuck at the same weight for ages – probably due to the huge amount of empty calories in booze!  I wouldn’t dream of sitting on the sofa eating a huge box of chocolates (well, I would dream of it – but I wouldn’t do it) – but necking a bottle of wine would have a similar calorific effect.

So – last weekend we decided we’d stop drinking completely – and 7 days later we’re still going strong.  I think the fact that we’re both doing it has really helped – and the fact that the standard of non alcoholic beers and wines has dramatically improved over recent years.

My liver seems to think I’m pregnant again (which I’m not!) but some R&R for it must be very welcome.  I was rarely waking up with a hangover – but to wake up without a slight fuzziness is great.

I’ve managed to be strong willed in the pub with friends for an afternoon, at friends’ for Sunday lunch and at an 18th birthday party – as well as just at home in the evenings.  Strictly without fizz was a revelation this weekend.

I’m not sure how long this abstemiousness will last (we’re off to Disneyland Paris for half term – and the thought of Disney or French people, let alone a combination of both, without booze, does not sound tempting) – but we shall see.

And in the meantime I will be smug and teetotal.

The husband sent me a text last week saying as the alcohol free week was going ok, he thought he’d go vegan too – I think he was joking………….







Book Review: The Pumpkin Project by Katie Smith

I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed a children’s book on the blog before – despite having a house full of them!  However, this is a special one.  Not only did it win ITV Lorraine’s Top Tales 2016, but it was also written by the cousin of a friend of mine, Katie Smith.

Katie’s had a bit of a tough time recently, as you can read here, so when Lorraine Kelly announced Katie was the winner I had a proper weep with vicarious pride (whilst sat in the hairdressers!!)

Anyway – back to the book. Here’s the Amazon blurb:

“Lottie and her class are given an end of term project competition called Big and Small. The problem is, class show-off Penelope Pembleton-Puce always wins.
But this time, Lottie and Gramps come up with a brilliant idea: to grow a giant pumpkin!
With the help of grandad’s old vegetable growing tricks, they set about trying to break world records for the biggest vegetable ever. But this pumpkin is fussy, demanding and has a mind of its own, and with Penelope willing to do literally anything to win AGAIN, does Lottie really stand a chance?
A beautiful, heart-warming story about friendship, family, and growing confidence … as well as a large vegetable!”



I would suggest this is aimed at about 8-10 year olds – and my 6 year old is giving it a good go – but I decided to read it myself first!  So whilst the eldest was having her brace fitted at the orthodontist – I settled down to read about Lottie.

Lottie is immediately a likeable little girl, who doesn’t have the easiest of home lives, with a Mum who is more interested in her phone and chocolate than her daughter.  The story is about how she and her Grandad try and grow a huge pumpkin to beat the spoilt Penelope Pembleton-Puce who usually wins all of the school competitions.  It’s very cleverly written – and some of the jokes about wind and farting would probably go over the head of a small child – but I loved it.  I was especially proud of page 126 where Finlay Church and his collection of teddy bears featured (and Katie’s cousin has revealed there are other snippets of real life woven in to the book which is just wonderful).  The illustrations and diagrams also really add to the book – and even the chapter and page numbers are drawn in a funky way.

I won’t give too much away – but all turns out well in the end – phew!

It is a lovely, feel good children’s book, and I would definitely recommend it as a stocking filler this Christmas.

I look forward to reading this again with my littlest two, and also look forward to more books from Katie in the future.





Book Review: Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld


This re-telling of the Pride and Prejudice story has been a best seller and I’ve seen great reviews of it in magazines – but the friend who passed it on to me, whom I usually have very similar reading tastes to, had given up after a few chapters as she couldn’t get into it – so I have to say I was a little wary starting it.

Here’s the Amazon blurb:

“The Bennet sisters have been summoned from New York City.

Liz and Jane are good daughters. They’ve come home to suburban Cincinnati to get their mother to stop feeding their father steak as he recovers from heart surgery, to tidy up the crumbling Tudor-style family home, and to wrench their three sisters from their various states of arrested development.

Once they are under the same roof, old patterns return fast. Soon enough they are being berated for their single status, their only respite the early morning runs they escape on together. For two successful women in their late thirties, it really is too much to bear. That is, until the Lucas family’s BBQ throws them in the way of some eligible single men . . .

Chip Bingley is not only a charming doctor, he’s a reality TV star too. But Chip’s friend, haughty neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy, can barely stomach Cincinnati or its inhabitants. Jane is entranced by Chip; Liz, sceptical of Darcy. As Liz is consumed by her father’s mounting medical bills, her wayward sisters and Cousin Willie trying to stick his tongue down her throat, it isn’t only the local chilli that will leave a bad aftertaste.

But where there are hearts that beat and mothers that push, the mysterious course of love will resolve itself in the most entertaining and unlikely of ways. And from the hand of Curtis Sittenfeld, Pride & Prejudice is catapulted into our modern world singing out with hilarity and truth.”

Now I read P&P many years ago at school (and suspect I’ve watched a film version or 2 at some point) but the storyline didn’t really stick in my head at all – so whilst the names were familiar (and clearly Fitzwilliam Darcy was Colin Firth) I wasn’t sure on the storyline.  And to that end, I’m not sure how much of the story is true to Jane Austen and how much is purely Curtis Sittenfeld.  Some of it clearly is from the original – the 5 sisters, Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy; and some of it may well me – Mr Bennet being ill?  The family house falling to rack and ruin?  Maybe even the geeky cousin trying it on with Liz? But some of it I am sure is totally 21st century reinvention – reality TV, IVF procedures, LGBT issues.

So all in all I was pretty much reading it as a standalone book and not as a rewrite of a classic.

Having said that – I really enjoyed it.  It did start out a bit slow – but quickly gained pace, and really kept me intrigued.  The characters of all 5 sisters were very different – and mostly you see things from Liz’s point of view – and she was definitely my favourite (and not just because we share the same first name!)  Mr and Mrs Bennet are almost cartoonish in their awfulness at times – but that rings a bell from the original.

I was actually quite disappointed to finish it as I’d enjoyed it so much.  I also think I’ll have to read the original Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice again soon.



Being Lady Grantham…….

I have not become titled and moved to Lincolnshire – and neither have I found myself in an episode of Downton – however, in a friend’s new blog I am referred to as Lady Grantham!


My favourite Lady Grantham quote is:

“No one ever tells you about raising daughters. You think it’ll be like Little Women, and instead they’re at each others’ throats.”

And whilst being Lady Cora Grantham would be fun, I think we’d all prefer to channel the dowager countess and be Lady Violet Grantham – she had all the best lines for a start!

“Isobel: “How you hate to be wrong.”
Violet: “I wouldn’t know, I’m not familiar with the sensation.””

Anyway – Downton aside – here is the blog from our very own Mrs Patmore – entitled ‘Being Mrs Patmore‘ (hence my hilarious title to this blog post – obvs!)

I have gushed about our Mrs Patmore before on here – and continue to do so frequently in real life.  So go and take a look at her blog – and be jealous of all of the lovely food we have to eat each day.  (And this week she even made the cakes for the kids to take in for Macmillan coffee mornings at each of their schools #winning)









Thumbs up?!

I started this blog as a way to keep a permanent record of family life for the Prices.  I overshare frequently on Facebook, but I wanted something a bit more structured and formal and forever.  However family life often gets in the way – and whilst I seem to manage to review the books I’ve read – other things pass by without being permanently recorded.  One such thing was the husband’s accident in July.

It was our middle daughter’s 6th birthday party – we’d had a very successful visit from the ‘Exotic Zoo‘ with a variety of pets, which the children and the grown ups (especially Mrs C as you can see from the photo!) really enjoyed.

As the kids were having fun, quite a few people had stayed behind.  Mr Price was pouring a glass of wine and someone bumped his arm.  In a totally freak way, the bottle smashed the glass and the glass cut his hand.  Thankfully one of the class Mums is a doctor, she had a look and said he had to go to hospital (she gave his suggestion of sticking it together with super glue short shrift!)  Now most of us had been steadily drinking all afternoon (I do find that makes a children’s party far more bearable) and so only one person in the entire party could drive – so she very kindly took him off to A&E for a few stitches.

A&E on a Saturday night is always busy – but they amused themselves sending us photographs.

Now Mr P had ordered a new chimnea for the garden (which had been put together that afternoon) and he was VERY EXCITED about it – but when he was still not back a few hours later, some of the other Dads decided to give it its inaugural lighting.  Sending photos of this to the hospital did not go down well…….#chimneavirginitybroken


It was getting close to midnight – and our wonderful emergency responder friend needed to get back to her own family – so she left Mr P at the hospital, I sent all of my kids (and thankfully my sister, brother in law and their kids) to bed here, and hopped in a cab to the hospital.  I have to say the husband did get some funny looks when he’d swapped the brunette who’d sat with him for hours for a blonde replacement after midnight!!

When he was eventually seen – 8 hours after arriving – by a doctor they were concerned that both tendons in his thumb were severed – so slightly more serious than a cut needing a stitch or two…..  He was kept in ready for an op the next day, and I was sent home by Mr P to tell the children what had happened.

I arrived back at 4am and the house looked like some kind of bomb had gone off in the back garden and kitchen – and the event shelter was outside in the front garden still.  I found my sister in bed with my 4 year old who refuses to sleep on her own (above and beyond the usual call of Auntie duties!) and settled down for a few hours sleep.  I then fully briefed the kids and headed back to the hospital – running Race for Life, which had been the plan for that day, now cancelled.

When I arrived at the hospital the husband was pretty out of it on painkillers and on a drip and all ready for surgery which happened later that day (thankfully I’d thought to take the new 6 year old’s thank you letters to the hospital with me so my time wasn’t completely wasted #efficiency!)  I left him in the hospital over night (at least now he knew how to work the bed and call button – no one had shown him when he’d been moved to a ward at 5am, and having never been in hospital before he didn’t have a clue!)

Whilst I’d been at the hospital my wonderful friends in the village had been and helped my sister sort out the house and garden (and loaded up recycling bins across the area with the empties!) and my sister and brother in law had done a sterling job with the kids and handed over to my parents mid afternoon.

The following morning I did the school / nursery runs and headed back to the hospital.  By this point Mr P (the youngest on the ward by about 3 decades) had made great mates with his roomies and they were all having a bit of banter!  Apparently John by the window hadn’t stayed up past 10pm in years, and Arthur asked Mr P if he had any of those ‘blue movies’ on his phone!!  What Mr P hadn’t shared with them was the fact that he’d woken up in the morning and thought he’d pooed himself!  Turned out it was actually a couple of Minstrels that he’d dropped and they’d melted on the sheets……

We escaped later that day (having been told he could leave at 9.30am it was 4pm before he finally escaped – thank goodness for lovely friends collecting the kids from school for us again!) and there in followed many weeks of hand therapy / physio / consultant appointments which we are still in the midst of.

The surgeon had initially wanted to sign him off for 6 weeks – but with your own business that just doesn’t really work – and the fact that we were on holiday for a chunk of that time should have helped.  Although perhaps the water rides and jet skiing weren’t the best call…….


The strap marks from the supports look hilarious – and he’s claimed a number of times that they’re from his tennis sweatbands……

And when the OT suggested he got a finger massager I immediately headed over to Amazon to search – and boy did I get some interesting suggestions!!

After weeks of OT work, physio and general exercises he is definitely on the mend.  He is unlikely to ever get full movement back – but the work of the wonderful NHS staff means at least he still has his thumb attached.

And it’s plastic glasses for parties henceforth!




Book Review: Playing Grace by Hazel Osmond


I have read a couple of Hazel Osmond books recently (Who’s Afraid of Mr Wolfe / The Mysterious Miss Mayhew) and thoroughly enjoyed them, so started this with high hopes.

Here is the Amazon blurb:

“Grace Surtees has everything carefully under control – her work life, her home life and her love life – especially her love life. But then her boss hires Tate Saunders, a brash American, to spice up the gallery tours his company provides. Messy and fond of breaking rules, Tate explodes into her tidy existence like a paintball, and Grace hates everything about him… doesn’t she? Because, for Grace, the alternative would be simply too terrifying to contemplate: to love Tate rather than hate him would mean leaping out of her comfort zone, and Grace’s devotion to order hides some long-kept secrets… secrets she’s sure someone like Tate Saunders could never accept or understand.”

However, I must confess that when I started this I really didn’t like it.  I found it really hard to get into (whether that’s the subject matter – which is art, and not really my bag) or the character (I found Grace really pathetic and annoying) and I just couldn’t get into it. This may also have been because I’d just read THE BEST BOOK EVER that I am not allowed to blog about yet as it’s not out until 2017 – but I think anything after that would have been a let down (keep your eyes peeled for ‘Eleanor Oliphant’ next year is all I can say!)

Anyway – I kept reading a bit and then putting it down and just not getting my teeth into it all.  But, I don’t like to be beaten by anything (I persevered with The Goldfinch for goodness sake!) and so kept going back to it.  In the end it was ok – and I did want to know what would happen to Grace and the other characters.

I guessed fairly early on what her boss’s secret was and felt that element of the storyline was really dragged out.  I liked the change in the relationship between Grace and Tate and how that concluded.

But overall, definitely not my favourite Hazel Osmond book at all.




Book Review: Dead Heat by Lee Stone (and James Patterson)


I read a previous Bookshot by the James Patterson / Lee Stone (old school friend) combo earlier in the year and reviewed it here.  That was set during Wimbledon – and I read it with the tennis tournament as my backdrop.  This time the sporting event in question was the Rio Olympics, and I read the books straight afterwards, so that helped build the back story / atmosphere.

Now, when I downloaded them on to my Kindle they were in 4 individual books – which I thought was a strange concept – and this view was only backed up when I started reading – as there was no way each segment would standalone!  However, when going back on to Amazon to download a photo for this blog piece – I can see that it’s now offered as a single book, which is far more sensible and mitigates my only complaint!

This is what the Amazon blurb had to say:

“It’s the day of the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and excitement is at fever pitch.

But a key athlete has gone missing and Detective Rafael Carvalho, on the brink of retirement, is assigned the case.

When the athlete suddenly appears at the ceremony, it seems the case is solved. But Carvalho soon discovers that he has returned with the deadliest of intentions.”

I immediately liked the 2 main cop characters – although very different people – and thought they were straight away given a good back story and personalities.

The plot twists and turns dramatically involving many different sports / countries / issues – and it’s not evident straight away who is behind this.

It builds to a huge climax which was really exciting – and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I read the entire story on a flight from Munich to Birmingham – so it really is a shot of a book not a long drink – but sometimes, that is just what you want!  Not everything has to be The Goldfinch (thank goodness!!)

But, I really enjoy Lee’s writing – and hope that these Book Shots are just the start – and we get some longer books to get our teeth in to in the future – just wondering what sporting event he’ll pick next?!?









Step away Bridget, they’re my pants!


Back long before Bridget Jones was having her pants removed by Daniel Cleaver, I was already a fan of the control pant.  They were  ‘special occasion wear’ to make me look slimmer when ‘out-out’.  I have to say that a few times (ok, most times I wore them!) they ended up in my handbag by the end of the night, as after you’d been to the loo and wrestled them off and back on a few times (which happened with alarming regularity when you were a 90s ladette drinking pints with the boys) it just wasn’t worth the effort, and so going home commando was the better option. Honestly – life as a trainee accountant was life on the edge!!

Anyway – over the years I’ve been through many iterations of the control briefs in different shapes and colours.  Some even had poppers ‘down below’ reminiscent of a late 80s body suit!  Which was a) a bit dangerous after you’d been drinking and you were trying to do up the poppers without trapping anything in them or b) you completely forgot to do it up altogether and it ended up working its way out of the top of your jeans (a surprisingly frequent sight to be seen in nightclubs throughout the era!!)

But 4 children and 4 stone later you find even more foundations are required  – and my current Spanx go from bra strap to knee.  However these new ones have a magic invention – a cotton double gusset* area so you don’t have to wrestle them off to go to the toilet!

Now my husband didn’t understand what I meant – so after wiggling in to them on Saturday I cocked my leg up to demonstrate and he is still traumatised!!  His exact words were ‘Oh my God, I think I just saw an ewok’!!!


But I can report they did the job brilliantly – and I managed to use the double gusset perfectly all day at a wedding on Saturday and so didn’t end up with a moist* gusset at all!  I think you might need to be careful to sit in a ladylike manner (which obvs I do at all times) for fear of doing a Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct otherwise – but given they are down to your knees, you’re not exactly going to be wearing a mini skirt (or if you do, you will look very odd!)

I am definitely ‘plus size’ and these give me a bit more body confidence – and they also negate VPL (visible panty line) issues, which even  the skinniest of people can suffer with {evil laugh}.  They also give amusing anecdotes so that everyone can laugh at you over Pimms and canapes!

I should point out that this is not a sponsored post, I have paid full price for all of my underwear – and will definitely be adding to my Spanx collection very soon.



* words I hate




Winning at School Shoe Shopping is Winning at Parenting

School shoes

‘Shopping for School Shoes’ is a topic to instil fear into most parents – and with the 4th child starting school in September this meant buying new shoes for all 4.  School shoe shopping expeditions in the past have resulted in tears from children, me and, I suspect, the shop assistants – so I decided to divide and conquer, and take the children in pairs to reduce the stress (or prolong the agony – depending how optimistic we were feeling!!)

I’d taken the eldest 2 shoe shopping in Worcester – as a practice run on the train for their new schools in September (this also provided a new haunt for Pokémon go hunting – which is a good motivational tool this summer!)  After texting a friend who is proficient in shopping in Worcester (amongst other places!) we found the shoe shop she recommended and with frightening efficiency (and a bit of Googling of uniform requirements) pairs were bought for the 13 and 11 year olds with absolutely no tears or shouting #miracle.

I was concerned that this had lulled me in to a false sense of security, and hence buying shoes for the younger 2 was going to be horrific, so we headed off to our school shoe shopping regular haunt of Humphries in the Kingfisher Centre in Redditch.  Youngest child chose some with absolutely no stress at all (helped by the fact that the shop assistant had the same name as her) so the only one left was the 6 year old – who does have a reputation for being ‘feisty’…..   This had all of the hallmarks of being the nightmare.

The lovely assistant brought out 3 pairs in her size – and there was one Startrite pair I particularly liked, so I used all of my ‘mother of 4 kids’ wiles and went for the whole reverse psychology technique.  I told her the ones I liked were far too grown up, and her big sister hadn’t had a pair like that until she was at least 9 years old, so at 6, she had to chose one of the other 2 pairs.  Of course, that meant the Startrite ones I liked were clearly the most desirable shoes ever.  After some umming and ahhing I ‘gave in’ and let her have the ‘grown up’ ones!!

Winning at school shoe shopping is winning at parenting.  #boom!