The road to motherhood

Today is Mother’s Day in the UK.

I am close to my Mum and always have been. Even though I now live on the opposite side of the world, we still keep all the connections going and spent time together just recently when I was in Melbourne over the Christmas / New Year period.

Others are not so fortunate. Some will spend the day in remembrance whilst a great many more will fall somewhere between the luxury of close proximity and feeling separated emotionally. For still others, this is just another day.

In Australia, we celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May so today is a bit of an awkward one for me. There’s the flurrying around me here but my official nod happens in May. I’ve been grappling with how best to acknowledge this UK version for the last couple of days.

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A dinkum daughter

My name is Kym Hamer, I am 46 years old and I have just cooked my first BBQ.

Yes yes I know. As a dinkum Aussie sheila, I ought to be ashamed of myself for not mastering this patriotic part of my culinary repertoire before now.

It’s not that I’ve been blind to the art of BBQ – I have actually been around BBQs most of my life but it has always been someone else pricking the snags and flipping the burgers.


My introduction to BBQ-ed vittels started early in life – but Opa (back middle) was in charge of the cooking.

And quite frankly these BBQ bastions have been happy for me to do my part by plonking a few salad leaves artfully in a bowl and scattering a few condiments around, so who am I to argue (with glass of wine in hand)?

But the weather was looking good…

Phone temp

…my outdoor setting had been re-oiled after a long and rather exposed Winter…

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…so Aussie-K came over for a barbie.

Of sorts…

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To be honest, my turkey and chilli burgers stuck a little and would probably have been better served by a hotplate…

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…but they tasted delicious alongside the lime and chilli mayo, salad and warm ciabatta straight from the oven. And wine of course.

(I would not want you to think I was some sort of kitchen maestro or anything so I must confess again, this time to not making the ciabatta myself.)

And we topped it all off with a slice of shop-bought (just keepin’ it real here peeps) lemon tart, fresh berries and cream.

So on this Mother’s Day, with our respective Mums on the other side of the world, chatting in the sunshine and eating good food together was a perfect way to spend the afternoon.

As was ticking my long overdue BBQ baptism off the list.

Mum would be so proud…5KYM

Happy Mother’s Day Mum from your fair dinkum Aussie daughter.

Paris parallels

Firstly, I know I said that the Armchair Tours of Paris would start next but Mother’s Day (the Aussie version) falls on Sunday 12th, which is tomorrow, so you’ll have to wait a little longer. C’est la vie.

In thinking about how I would roast honour my lovely Mum this year, I was taken back to my very first visit to Paris…with Mum. We’d been away for 5 weeks and Paris was the final few days of our continental grand tour. We were tired and non-French-speaking so we had a few multitude of silly moments together in the City of Lights. (A rather ridiculous session of charades with a patient shopkeeper in an effort to get directions to the nearest cash point springs to mind.)

And I took what seemed like a squillion photos then too (which, in the pre-digital age, cost me an absolute fortune to have developed). Mum took more.

It is well-known in our family that Mum is a little…well snap-happy.

And this has been borne out over the years as her wanderlust has expanded to take in places like the USA and Canada, and adventures like a snowstorm in Petra, a cruise on the Nile and a whole lot in between.

I know this for a fact. I’ve been back to Melbourne. I’ve seen the evidence photo albums.

Anyway, I had been wondering whether I had kept any photos of her from our inaugural parlay with Paris…and you’re in luck (Mum maybe not so much…) So here’s how much things have really changed.

There was our bird’s eye view from the observation deck of the Eiffel Tower on the night of our arrival in 2000…


…while this time my opening night perspective was a little more grounded from the Place de la Concorde.

Paris2013_parismay13concord02Being new to the whole travelling lark, we were fascinated by the public loos in the streets of Paris. There was some consternation about what would happen if you got stuck in there. Mum was relieved in more ways than one when the door opened……while this time around I was just relieved my loo with a view came with no windows directly opposite.

Paris2013_hotelpavillonoperabourse6This was a rare moment of still and quiet contemplation for Mum near the Jardin des Tuileries……whilst last Sunday I found mine – with a good book in hand – on the way from Raspail to the Jardin du Luxembourg.

Paris2013_parismay13tojardindeluxemborg11And finally there was Mum’s first espresso on a cafe terrace overlooking the Place de la Concorde (she succumbed my nagging sound advice after five days of having moaned about Paris’ horrible and expensive cappuccinos)… 

Paris2013_EspressowithMum …whilst not too far away, on a grey afternoon more than 12 years later, I found heavenly, chocolate-y solace – and a coffee – at Angelina.

Paris2013_EclairatAngleinaSuch great, great memories!

So all that’s really left to do is to find her an armful of gorgeous flowers (freshly pic’ed from the Jardin du Luxembourg)…
…and send her lots of love and squillions of virtual hugs.

Happy Mothers Day Mum!

Two For The Price Of One…

Today is Mother’s Day…again!  With the UK already celebrating Mothering Sunday in March, it always leaves me wondering whether I should be wishing Mum a Happy Mother’s Day then (as I am in the UK) or today – but I guess that two for the price of one is a pretty good deal and anyway, who am I to begrudge sending a little more Mother’s Day love out into the ether?

In any case, those of you who read Gidday From The UK on a regular basis may remember that I have already posted in honour of Mother’s Day Part One so I figured it was time to roast honour Mum in a different way – this time by regaling you all with the trials and tribulations of my childhood dressed as ‘Two For The Price Of One’.  The story goes like this:

My Mum sewed.  A lot.  Before I came along, she made big stuffed toys like this gi-normous panda. 

Yes that’s me with the panda!

She also made amazing ‘pyjama dogs’ that had a zip on the underside that you could pop your ‘jarmies’ in ’til next time.  Mine was orange. No, I do not have a picture.

Deciding that toys were not enough, she then moved on to outfits. It started innocently enough with individual ensembles…

(Lil Chicky was eye-ing off the Christening Cake)

And then she got thrifty…

Look at those ringlets – Mum’s a talented woman!
We do love a birthday in the Hamer clan!
Actually I think our Oma might have knitted these vests – Mum got everyone in on the act!
And still matching hairdos!

…as not only could Mum get a better deal on the material, it meant that Lil Chicky could continue to wear my hand-me-downs for years to come.  (Boy, she REALLY loved that!)

Anyway, this continued on until we rebelled (it was a little uncool once we got to school and had friends who came over to play!), only to slide right back into it in our teens…

I’m (17) on your left, Lil Chicky (13) is on your right

…although we were being Mum’s bridesmaids and she didn’t make the dresses herself and they are different colours – but enough said.  A picture paints a thousand words.

So a it’s couple of decades (and a bit) later and I figure Lil Chicky and I have managed to weather the storm and emerge relatively unscathed. (‘Oh thank goodness’, I hear you whisper.  No it’s ok – don’t apologise. I understand.)  But little did I realise that my departure from Oz had left such a gap…

Mum (L) and Lil Chicky (R)

Ladies, it’s time to let go! 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mothers…People To Make Leaning Unnecessary

Here we are at Mother’s Day Number One for 2011 and while for me (and probably lots of other Aussie and Yankee expats) the REAL Mother’s Day will be in May, honouring my fabulous Mum twice is certainly no chore!

American writer Dorothy Canfield Fisher wrote:

A mother is not a person to lean on but a person to make leaning unnecessary.

and this sums up my Mum for me.  In fact so much so that now I’m all grown up, I’ve had to be reminded quite recently that a little leaning on my part is actually quite a restorative thing and good for the soul – by none other than Mum herself (still so wise, right?)
So I wanted to honour this feeling and after some digging around, found this perfect quote (courtesy of a sentimental yet anonymous soul):

When you’re a child she walks before you,
To set an example.

When you’re a teenager she walks behind you
To be there should you need her.

When you’re an adult she walks beside you
So that as two friends you can enjoy life together.

Happy Mother’s Day…

An e-Mother’s Day…

So we’ve arrived at my second Mother’s Day for 2010 (in my schizophrenic UK-Oz life) and my Mum is on a plane right now, wing-ing her way to the West Coast of the States, then to France…and then to me here in the UK! 

That’s right, in just 17 sleeps, I will be at Heathrow Airport waiting to see my Mum for the first time in 3 years…

So in honour of this year’s second Mother’s Day, I thought I’d tell you about one of Mum’s very special skills…something very few people actually know about my Mum (particularly since she stopped doing my hair ooooh about 35 years ago!)…RINGLETS!

I figured the best way to showcase this awesome talent was in a old family pic of Mum, me and my little sister (fondly known as Lil Chicky)…

…and yes, that is me in the ringlet pigtails.
I could go into a litany of trauma experienced under the auspices of said ringlets (but there weren’t any) or trot out some other juicy tidbits that most people would not know about Mum.  But I do have other things to be getting on with today and I’ve just remembered that it’s supposed to be a day to honour thy mother, not give her a complete (if gentle) roasting.

So here’s to Mums everywhere (Mark 2) and especially to mine somewhere States-side…

Only 17 sleeps to go…

BTW, I thought that my Mother’s Day e-card might make it before she left for the airport. But any hope of that disappeared upon opening Facebook and being reliably informed by Lil Chicky in her latest post that she had in fact been up since 4.45am Oz time to take said parent and travelling partner to the airport. Buggar! Best laid plans eh? But I figure the e-card is still out there in the ether and will hopefully provide a little e-surprise when Mum visits an internet cafe somewhere on her travels…

Mum’s the Word…

It’s another gloriously day here in SW London, my front garden is dappled with sunshine and the light is streaming in through my front window (and actually making me notice that the windows need a clean).  I’ve just come back from town with the top down on my car with the spring air on my cheeks and I’m mildly excited by the mere thought that I might be able to put my wet-laundry-bound clothes horse outside.  Such simple pleasures!
But there’s another reason that today is special and that is because it is Mothering Sunday in the UK.  (Yes, 2 whole months prior to the Australian one, giving me plenty of time to shop for a card before they all disappear and post it to Australia.)  I don’t normally celebrate this early version but this year it seems important for three very important reasons…

…my friend A celebrates her very first Mother’s Day today…

…we missed celebrating with J’s Mum last year (she passed away just 4 days prior)…

…my Mum – who I will see for the first time in 3 years in May – is worth more than just one paltry day and in any case,should not have to wait until May.

So to all the Mums and Mums-of-Mums and Mums-of-Mums-of-Mums, and especially to my very own superstar Mum…here’s to you, to all the roles you play, all the things you are to every one of us and all the things you do.

Happy Mother’s Day x

Tough Love Down Under…

Yesterday was Mother’s Day…not in the UK but in Australia…so I am confident that the British telcos made an absolute fortune from a) all the Aussies phoning home and b) all the phone calls that went over their ‘free’ threshold. (Here’s a tip: I set the kitchen timer for 55mins as I get free calls to Australia up to an hour – if the conversation goes longer, I just hang up and call back for my second freebie).

Whilst I was one of these erstwhile antipodeans (and it was lovely chatting to you Mum!), I actually wanted to tell you about her email to me this morning which followed up on my last blog ‘The Australian Way’ – about the introduction of random breath testing in the UK 33 years after its advent in Australia. Apparently things have gotten even tougher Down Under…

‘…on public holidays, long weekends and times when anything “special” is on eg Melb Cup, AFL Grand Final, Grand Prix, we now have double the normal points lost and double the fine for the period. Also, they now impound the cars of street hoons for 3 months minimum. No car… no drunken races or burn outs..,. Also now the random breath testing is everywhere, almost every time you go out and you can be stopped. Along Nepean Hwy between Mentone and the city, I often get stopped 3 times in the one trip – quite often. They no longer have 6 policemen testing, they have 20, so nobody gets waved through. It’s making a big difference, but sadly people still become fatalities.’

So knockin’ the top off a cold one around the barbie is not as free and easy as it sounds and any Aussie will tell you that a combination of ‘fair play’ and negotiation are integral in creating simple, strop-free weekend travel arrangements. Could this be why London is so full of Aussie ‘cheer’? Oh how I love the bus(es)…

Also, News from the Patch…I used the first mizuna, rocket, spinach and chard from my garden for our bbq salad last night…the little blighters are going beserk! I am now stalking (daily) my strawberry plants as they tell me once flowers appear, the fruit is not far behind…my herbs are getting a regular trim too – fresh mint is amazing with pineapple and vanilla yoghurt and they were a few coriander leaves available to garnish a fairly wicked curry I made last week…