All posts in Random Mummy Barrow


Dear Robert Downey Jr

So you have joined Twitter.  Finally.   Excellent.   Welcome to the best bar in town.   Not that it is my bar or that I am in any position to welcome you but I do feel I need to have a word.   Initially on Friday night when I heard you had joined Twitter was a bit “yeah, whatever”.   Not because I am not a fan, but because I knew what would happen once you had joined.

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Espresso Martini recipe

Rumour has it that this drink was invented in the 1980s when a barman was asked by a customer for a drink that would wake him up.   In this house it was invented as I am not a fan of espresso but I am a fan of Martini and trying to drink more of it as I love the smell of coffee and everything about it.  And Mr B is a MASSIVE fan of coffee so I am determined to enjoy it alongside him.

I was first introduced to these cocktails when I met the gorgeous Sophie from Super Amazing Mum for lunch a bazillion years ago.   In fact I published this post and Sophie reminded me of that lunch.  I am ashamed to say that I had forgotten all about it.  Though not her and it has reminded me that I haven’t seen her in an age and that we must remedy that.

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Peaches and Cosmo

The news of Peaches Geldof’s tragic death at the age of 25 broke yesterday afternoon as I had a wee.  Checking my Twitter feed as I had the wee I had been too busy to have for the preceding three hours, I sat in stunned silence for twenty minutes.   As I read tweet after tweet from people shocked at this dreadful news.

Yes there were the ones from celebs who knew her but more than that there were tweets, such as mine that simply said “no no no no no, this cannot be true”.   Or simply “RIP Peaches”.   Or that referred to her beautiful little boys, barely one and two who would now grow up without a mummy.

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London Coffee Festival

Yesterday was one of those days that are becoming a regular occurrence at Barrow Towers.

We have a plan for the day, in this case the Boat Race.   Then I see something on Twitter and mention it in a nonchalant kinda way to Mr B who looks at me and says “are we doing that then?”.   I take that as being enthusiastic as it is not a categoric “you have to be kidding” and book it.

Since the Boat Race wasn’t until 6pm that gave us lots of time to do something else, despite that fact we had a million things we should have been doing at home.   Life is for living, right?

Quick text to friends who I think will also enjoy the two events, and that’s it.   Day planned.

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I read an article this week about the number of people who regret having tattoos.  Something like one in six wish they had never had theirs done.   One in three wishes they had done it somewhere on their body less visible.   And it reminded me of an article in the Guardian I had read years ago about a mother who had a meltdown when her son had hers.

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French Style Tips

“Give us a French Style Tip” they said.

“Hmmm” I said.

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Skateboarding Child

Skateboarding Must Have Safety Equipment

If you don’t remember, last month I posted an article called Half Pipes which was about my skating experiences as a young’n. This is a follow up that gives a bit more of an insight as to what you should consider when or if your child starts to getting into the great hobby. The thrill of learning a new sport, practicing tricks and playing with your friends is one of the best parts of youth. Skateboarding is resurging in popularity, so be sure to equip your child with all that they need before surfing the pavement.

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Our visit to Tanzania was timed to coincide with International Women’s Day this year.   A real chance to show that there are women who are inspiring, despite living in some of the world’s poorest communities.   It has been a real honour to meet them this week and has once again reignited my desire to keep on shouting really loudly about how incredible African women are.

It has also reinforced my belief that women the world over are all identical.   Some may have more material things than others.  Some may have a nicer house or a more extensive wardrobe.  But at the heart of us all is a desire to provide for our families.   To support them financially and emotionally and to do the best by our children.

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IWD — Inspirational Women

Next weekend is International Women’s Day and to celebrate that we came up with the idea of an “Inspirational Women” blog linky over on the Team Honk Blog.   Asking people to blog about the women who inspires them.   On Team Honk it is Davina McCall.   The woman is a phenomenon.

On my blog though, and personal to me is my mum, Olivia.   I am the only person who gets to call her mum and I chatted to her about deciding to be a stay at home when I was growing up, going back to university at 40 to do a degree, and then taking on the French in the wine business.   Turning around a virtually derelict Chateau, with wine being sold to the Co-op to a stunning home with award winning wines stocked in Waitrose and shipped all over the world.

You made a conscious decision when I was growing up not to work.   How important was it for you to be at home for me?

Very important.  Having picked you up from the childminder with bruises on the side of your face with a flaky explication of how you got them  I decided that the priority was to stay ay home and look after you until you were old enough for me to work.   That is why I did Citizens Advice, Open University and ran keep fit classes,  because I could organise them around school.

Also I had strong memories of my childhood when my Mum worked and could not be there to see me in School drama productions or be there for GSE award presentations etc.   Pushing my bike home from the launderette or with cans of paraffin balanced on it  are part of my childhood memories.   We didn’t want that for you.   So financially there were sacrifices but it was the right thing to,  being a stay at home mum and I have no regrets at all.

Some might say that you gave up a lot by not working, having me when you were quite young and not working.   What made you decide at 40 to go to university?

I had enjoyed my OU studies and always liked learning.  My friend Gail had started at University and I thought why not have a go.   Maybe  a different life starts a 40 but it was worth every minute

Was it hard being a mature student or did you enjoy the challenge?

 It was hard because I was 41 and they were 18 so it was like studying with their Mum.   We had absolutely nothing in common!  I was living at Chelsea  Harbour and commuting at the  weekends to Strasbourg and then to Brussels, where your dad was working.   It was hard trying to hold it all together.   They never did the reading so tutorials were a bit one sided!  I can’t lie, it was a very lonely experience but maybe being an only child got me through that.   I felt it was was a privilege to have a place at Uni – they could have given my place to an18 year old, I felt I really had to show that they had made the right decision.   Another plus point was that the professors liked mature students because they worked and were there  because they wanted to be and not because their parents had pushed for it.

Fifteen odd years ago you bought a vineyard in France.   What on earth made you do that?

17 years ago!   Dad and I were looking for a retirement project and whenever we talked about what to do,  wine seemed to feature in our ideas (see where I get my Martini obsession from :-) ) . Having done a degree in French I felt that a vineyard could be the right idea.   The learning curve at university would be replaced by a learning curve to do with wine – just another vocabulary to learn.   The life style element also appealed as there was no boss.   Often a romantic dream for so many people that  we would actually be living.   Part of my “Well let’s have a go”  philosophy.  (Now you see where I get that from, too!)

Also we loved France and had a chalet  which we could escape to.

What was the biggest hurdle you had to face with being a woman, and an English woman, in the very “male dominated” wine world?

The challenge of three French guys working for me.  An English woman who knew nothing about wine making but wanted to make the Petrus of Bergerac.     I was totally responsible for making  it work as we had invested all our money in it.    We HAD to succeed because we had three guys who were relying on us to make a living and Eric had turned down working at Mouton Rothschild to work for me.

 It meant though that actually I rose to the challenge that  ‘’The English woman” was not mad and would still be there after a year and in fact was  there for 11.   At meetings when I was probably the only  woman there I enjoyed the idea that my French was better then their English and because I was a woman I had a higher profile  in the Bergerac wine circle.    I have always been on the outside since childhood because of I had divorced parents (unheard of really in the early sixties) so I am used to being an outsider full stop

 What was the best thing about running your own business?

FREEDOM!!!!! I could make the decisions with advice from Eric but I had ultimate power.   A wonderful opportunity to use my instincts, my languages, my interior design ideas, my selling skills , people skills and live the dream without being afraid of hard work.   It meant working 7 days a week sometimes for 12 hours a day.   But what a success it became.

 Reputation , press articles, gold medals , travelling all over Europe and to the USA and Canada.   Giving so much pleasure to people with our wines.

 If you could turn back the clock, would you do anything differently?

 Maybe I would have been stricter with Eric and what he was making with the wine in some vintages.   But I am a proud of what I have achieved and had  a chance to realise my potential.   I have left behind a Chateau looking the best it ever has.   I have always tried to do the best I can for everyone in my life .    Life is a learning curve and I am still learning.   Turning the clock back is great with hindsight !!!!  But if  I chose to do things   differently would I be sitting in Barbados now ????

Thanks mum!

Inspiring Women Blogging Prompt