Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006


Welcoming in 40

On Saturday night, Germany’s Top Husband and I celebrated our 40th birthdays. The high point was dancing till 3am to a fabulous ska band with my friends and family. The low point was falling off the stage while holding my three-year-old and landing on him (he survived, but my dignity was impaired). Mostly I looked like this:

img_09227Sometimes, I am impossibly cool.

If you find that image disturbing, I can redirect you to a video of the band, Ngobo Ngobo, playing a medley of their songs:

And if that’s too stimulating, you could meditate on an image from the local Christmas market:

If Christmas doesn’t end soon, I’m climbing that statue.


Five Bits of Fluff

I think memes are the popcorn of the blog world. And since there are five kids in my sitting-room, eating popcorn and watching Free Willy, I’m going to indulge in some fluffery of my own. My friend Loren, a food blogger from San Francisco (the US city I most want to visit) charged me with the Five Things meme. I have done this a few times before, but, like popcorn, it’s a meme that’s moreish.

Five Fluffy Things About Me:

1. Having just seen the Sex in the City movie, I am currently working my way through all six seasons of the TV show. My favourite of the gals is Miranda, Charlotte makes me laugh and I am sooooo jealous of Carrie’s legs. I’m not mad about Samantha, but I like the way she embodies female desire. On that topic, Mr Big is far and away the hottest man on the show, but I’d give Steve the bartender the time of day. In the movie, the scene between him and Miranda on the bridge made me cry so hard that my nose ran.

2. I really like dancing. At a party, I am guaranteed to be first on the dance-floor. And I’m a cheap drunk, so basically, I’m great value.

3. The tree pose always reminds me of my past life as an Indian yogi.

4. If I had to choose between having an uninterrupted hour to write or eating the best chocolate in the world, I’d take the hour.

5. If I were a house, I would be chintz. And proud.

Now I am supposed to tag five people, but I don’t do that anymore. So I’m stealing from YogaMum. Consider yourself tagged if:

1. You have had a conversation about Sex in the City in the past week.

2. This makes you feel like doing silly dancing:

3. If you have done the tree pose today.

4. If you have refused chocolate in the last hour.

5. If this looks like heaven to you.


The Soundtrack to My Novel

I have been having a fabulous time of late, plotting the narrative of my novel, with the help of my stupendous writing group of two! If these two were bloggers, I could link to them, so you could go and give them some bloggerly love. They have been working far beyond the call of duty, given that one has a very responsible job and the other is writing a PhD, responding to my mails with brilliant ideas and warm strokes.

I’m also frantically trying to meet a work deadline, so most of my creative writing is being done very late at night. At midnight, in the bathroom, with the laptop. Anyway, the early part of the story is set in the late 80s and early 90s, so I have been steeping myself in the music of that time.

Hands up who misses REM? I do. My lovely husband and I once made a pilgrimage to Athens, Georgia, to try and sniff out Michael Stipes, but I believe he’s moved to New York or somewhere a bit more cosmopolitan. Also, our two babies and their grandmother weren’t too keen to hang out in student dives inhaling the very air he once breathed. Funny that. Here’s a little something from YouTube to make you sniff nostalgically (and if you are too young to remember or care, I’m sorry, I am really really sorry for you).

Warning: Could Result in Silly Dancing!

Also, since it’s set largely in South Africa, I’ve been listening to Zulu music. If you have some time, this is a brilliant documentary from Afropop Worldwide, with excellent commentary and great music.

I had no idea writing a novel could be this much fun.


The Saturday Night Meme

We’re having a quiet night in, having had a fabulous party last night. As a special treat, our daughters (7 and 5) were allowed to stay up and enjoy the party. Their goal was to make midnight, and they did. Ollie flagged and slept in his pram, but the girls put on their dancing shoes and grooved. When the special 12 o’clock moment arrived, Lily rushed over to where Daisy and I were dancing.

L: Daisy, Daisy guess what?! It’s MIDNIGHT!!!

D: Scream! (Jumps up and down on one spot.) Scream!

L: Mummy! It’s midnight!

Mummy: Wahhh! Midnight! (Performs silly dance of joy.)

Shortly after that I took them all off to bed, myself included. When the Otter girls peak, it’s not pretty.

So while my husband monitors the state of the world from the horizontal position on the sofa, and I take a brief break from writing my monthly column on the state of (expensive commodity), here is the Saturday Night Meme, otherwise known as the Five Things Meme, courtesy of the lovely Cook Sister!:

What Were You Doing 10 years ago?

I had been living in Germany for a year, and I was about to go on holiday to Tuscany with my mother, my aunt and my long-suffering husband to stay in a mill near Lucca with a mad English alcoholic who insulted us, lied about the opening hours of the museums in Florence, but cooked very excellent breakfasts.

Five Snacks You Enjoy:





Mixed unsalted nuts

Five Songs You Know All the Lyrics to:

The Marseillaise by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle

Three Little Birds by Bob Marley

Scatterlings of Africa by Johnny Clegg

Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You) by Flock of Seagulls

The Wheels on the Bus

Five Things You Would Do If You Were a Millionaire

Fund Rape Crisis Centres in South Africa

Pay off my mother’s mortgage

Purchase a house with an office/retreat/writing room for me and me only

Buy my hubby his dream car

Take my family on a lovely holiday to somewhere hot and sunny

Five Bad Habits


Blogging when I should be working


A lackadaisical attitude to my answering machine

Getting snappy and tense when I’m running late

Five Things You Like Doing:

An early morning game drive followed by a massive breakfast and a nap

Having a day to myself with nothing to achieve

Getting lost in the flow whether it’s of writing, meditation, yoga or a great book

My Sunday morning lie-in with coffee, my laptop and a pile of books

Dancing till midnight with my daughters

Five Things You Would Never Wear Again:

Knee-high socks




Velvet Alice bands

Five Favourite Toys:

Apple laptop

Food Processor and other baking apparatus

Blue vases for pink roses

Bead necklaces

New pink shoes


I have no idea where my daughter gets her love of accessories from, really I don’t

I usually don’t tag, but I have some lovely new blog-pals who I want to invite into the playground. Paul, Simmone, Letters, Trousers, Bine, will you play? Everyone else is, of course, welcome.



I had my first yoga practice in months today, with a wonderful new teacher. Her studio, which looks over the Rhine plain all the way to the Pfalz, was a peaceful refuge from the driving rain outside. For one and a half hours I thought of nothing but myself, my body and how it was feeling. She taught me how to be conscious of my toes, how to attach four corners of my feet to the earth and anchor myself. I learnt how to make my calves, thighs and stomach muscles strong. I left with a wondrous feeling of well-being which lasted for hours.

So it seems appropriate to address Ms Magic Hands’ meme Five Things You Do To Raise Your Vibe while still feeling the afterglow. Here goes:

1. My life is busy. I have three kids, work, friends, and family who require maintenance, even long-distance. One thing I do every day to raise my vibe is to have some time to myself for reading. It usually happens late at night in the bath, when the house is quiet and everyone else is asleep. I pour in the bubbles, keep my toe on the hot tap, add more water when necessary and read, read, read. Right now it’s Elizabeth George’s What Came Before She Shot Him, which is an education in brilliant characterisation and a deeply engaging plot.

2. I plan holidays. One the advantages of where I live is that the whole of Europe is easily accessible. This year I’ve been to Berlin, the south of France, Oslo, Alsace Lorraine. The holidays don’t always have to happen – I enjoy trawling holiday websites, dreaming of what could be.

3. I dance with my children. It’s exercise and it’s fun. I can be as ridiculously silly as I want to be without feeling self-conscious. We call it “working on our moves”.

4. I have a night out with my girlfriends or a date with my husband, all involving wine, food and laughter. Come to think of it, I’d better go and put my party face on right now. I’m heading out to meet the girls.

5. I meditate and dream. After years of practice, I slip readily and easily into a meditative state. I use it in various ways: to relax, to feel better, to raise my consciousness, to commune. It always, always helps.