Monday, December 22, 2014

The Lord Giveth....

... and the Lord taketh away.

A few weeks ago the Head of English at the college I applied to teach at last February, was accepted by, was rejected by temporarily, etc... called me and asked the progress of the verification of my MA at the Ministry of Education. I was happy to tell her that my application had been accepted and I was expecting a reply within the month.

"That's great," she said, "because we have a job for you here, starting next semester, in February."

Here are the posts about the hoops I jumped through just to get my application accepted by the MoE.


Yesterday the envelope arrived in the post. Full credit for both my first and second degree - each with a certificate of verification from the MoE.

The first thing I did was call the Head of English to tell her the good news and maybe arrange a time to meet with her. However... unfortunately... we have a problem....

The college has just issued a directive that they should only employ teachers with a PhD.

She's going to put in a special request for me because they need a good teacher, with experience, who is available... and not many PhDs are willing to teach level 4 English to students taking English under duress. (Every degree course in Israel requires that you reach a certain level of Academic English. Imagine if you had to have Academic French in order to get any degree in the UK - well that's how some most of the student's feel about it.)

God must have some very good reason for not wanting me to teach at this college. I'd go with His plan without a fight if He'd give me another source of income in its place.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Meal Hygiene

It seems to me that DD is hungry every evening just before supper. Even if I bring it forward to to try and catch her before the whine, "I'm hungry!" As soon as I go to make supper she's hungry. Of course I tell her to wait bearing in mind that she's eaten a number of snacks since coming home from school about an hour before. "Supper's in 10 minutes," I say.
"But I'm hungry now! What can I have to eat?"
"Nothing, you'll wait 10 minutes and we'll have supper."
"But I'm hungry! Can I have something to keep me going?"
"No there's nothing now, wait for supper.
"There must be something I can eat now." She goes to the fridge. 
"Get out of the fridge!" I shout, losing it. "We're not in Africa, you're not starving to death, you can wait 10 minutes!" I forcibly pull DD's head out of the fridge, shut the fridge door, and banish her from the kitchen.

Later while we eat, I tell her that when I was a little girl and I was hungry, I would ask, "what time's supper?" not "what can I have to eat now?" And if Grandma said supper was in 10 or 20 minutes, I'd go away and be hungry for 10 or 20 minutes while I waited for supper. I don't think she got it.  

I remember my brother-in-law saying that they never established good meal hygiene and that it had been a mistake. He wasn't referring to washing your hands before you eat and using a knife and fork, he meant serving proper meals at set times, sitting at the table and not running an all-day open buffet. I loved this idea and vowed to instigate in my home - but I've never quite managed it.

Natasha at The 1979s Diet writes this: In the 1970's we had 3 meals a day. The only snack we had was a piece of fruit. There were no take-aways, no giant cupcakes, no endless supply of nibbles ...... and you felt properly hungry between meals.

Natasha once wrote about this oft had conversation: "I'm hungry."
"Have an apple."
"I don't want an apple."
"You can't be very hungry then."

LOL, didn't we all get that response at some time in our childhood?

At what point in time did we stop waiting for supper (or any proper meal)? When did we make the shift away from three proper meals and a couple of tea/coffee breaks to just grabbing food whenever we felt like it?

I think in our case it might have been when I was about 9 with the instigation of packed lunches for school and my Mum going back to work. These two events meant that there was suddenly a stock of small bags of crisps and chocolate biscuits in the house to supplement the sandwich and fruit for packed lunches, and we were encouraged to take something for 'tea' to keep us going until supper - which changed from an early children's supper to one family supper later when Dad got home from work. Suddenly we were allowed to help ourselves and we did.

I tried to be more strict with DD and I got the following lecture from my 6yo: "But I'm hungry. You've got to let me eat something if I'm hungry. I didn't come here just to be hungry and not eat anything!"

I stood my ground but, as always, it ended with a fight. I won of course because I'm the grown up but I know why she fights it - because she's seen me eat whenever I'm hungry and not just at meal times.

So from now on this family is going back to 1970 when there were no ready made snacks in the house apart from fruit, meals were served at the table three time a day, and in between were a drink and a biscuit - just one. Well maybe two.

Does anyone practise meal hygiene these days? I'd be interested to hear how it works in your house.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Famous Photo

Last week, On Thursday evening, 4th December - DD's birthday, the dusk looked like this. I think everyone in Jerusalem and surrounding areas has these photos, I've seen at least 6 postings on fb. It was, in the real sense of the word, simply awesome.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Now We Are Six

Now I am Six

When I was one I had just begun,
When I was two I was nearly new,
When I was three I was almost me,
When I was four I was not much more,
When I was five I was just alive,
But now I am six I'm as clever as clever,
So I think I'll be six for ever and ever. 


The day started with two presents wrapped and sitting by the front door as if they'd come through the door somehow. I don't know why we do that as we don't even have a letter box, but that's what we do. Opened in my bed of course. One was from me and one from Grandma and Grandpa (although they don't know about it yet - I'm still waiting for my mother to get online so I can tell her what they bought and thank them). 

School and work followed as usual. I didn't dare suggest going out for tea after the fiasco on my birthday. So we came straight home to prepare for the party in school tomorrow. 

I don't get to stay for it but we have to take a cake with candles, some nasherai, paper plates and napkins, a present for the classroom (a book or game), a little gift for each child or prizes are optional (I found little tangram puzzles for 1.5nis each (25p)), and an activity for the teacher to do with the class. 

Until now, as far as I can gather, the activities have been either pass the parcel or musical statues. So I decided to make a pin the tail on the donkey. 

I'm not much of an artist but it's a donkey. And as it's all on plastic paper they don't actually pin with pins. I'm sending sellotape instead, and a blindfold of course. 

That's the end of my creativity. The cake started out as this:

But it ended up looking like this after DD decorated it herself:

That's a house and a butterfly btw. Obviously we will add the candles when we get to school tomorrow. 

So if I can drag DD away from her new tablet...

Before we turn out the lights and call it a [birth]day, I just want to say one word about tablets for children. If you are an only child with a single mum you need a tablet at least until you can read fluently. That's all. 

Happy Birthday DD 

Now you are six you're as clever as clever,
 I love you now and I'll love you forever. 

Your Mummy xoxoxo 
(with apologies to A.A.Milne)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


In May I wrote about suddenly being disqualified from M.A. status as a college tutor. You should read this first because I cannot bear to go over it all again, I'm far too traumatized. Here's the update.

I eventually heard back from all the institutions I contacted and gathered together a pile of emails saying I'd been awarded the B.Ed. (Council for National Academic Awards) and the M.A. (London University) but no one has transcripts of courses or grades from 1885 (although I could request they dig under the housing estate that is now my old college to see if we could find something) or even 1998 which were both in the pre-digital era.

I asked London University to write an official letter describing the course of study I completed and stamp it in red - because red is official innit. They sent it to my parents in London (for a 10 pound fee) who then gave it to their neighbours to bring to Israel when they came on holiday, thus saving the 15 pounds extra it costs for LU to send an official letter abroad.

My friend from the same course sent me a copy of her Ministry of  Education certificate showing that our M.A. has been accredited by them for the past 16 years. I copied my pay slips from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the college where I now teach to prove that - I don't know what it proves but I took them anyway. I filled in a five page questionnaire for each degree. I took my bound dissertation. I took my degree ceremony photograph with me posing in a robe and mortar board. I even took a published book that has my name in the acknowledgements as an expert with an M.A.

Off I went to the MoE with originals and copies of everything. I knew this would be the first of two visits as I didn't want to get anything notarized by a lawyer until I was sure I had everything. They accepted the B.Ed - even they couldn't see a way to get 30 year old grades from a housing estate. But the M.A. documents didn't satisfy them. I spoke to the boss, I waved my friend's certificate about and cried, "we sat next to each other in every lecture!" They weren't buying it.

Eventually, and I think it was because of my friend's certificate which they could see me using against them if they didn't find a solution for me (thanks Chana :~) ), they said if I got another official letter from LU explaining that they don't have transcripts and grades from 1998, they would accept my application. OK, I could do that.

It was June. I came home and put my head in the sand. Then we had a war and the summer holidays and I dug deeper into the sand. Then the new academic year started and I didn't start at the new college so I pulled my head out of the sand and wrote to LU. It took them a whole month to answer me, another two weeks for my parents in London to get the letter and another two weeks after that for the post office to deliver it to me in Jerusalem.

Today, 6 months later, I rushed to the MoE (the Israeli Government collapsed yesterday and the Ministry of Tourism is on Strike with no end announced so who knows what will go next) with everything in triplicate, the photo, the book, and my bound dissertation.

I saw the same lady I saw in June (not the boss lady) and went over everything again. She looked at all my certificates, papers, and copies. She even took a copy of Chana's certificate and wrote a note on it explaining why it was included. Then she told me I had everything except....

She was right, I'd never been to a lawyer to get notarized. The boss lady had said all I needed was the extra letter from LU. Therefore I thought the notarization wasn't necessary. Silly me. "Don't worry, you can do it now," said the nice lady. "Down the road is a law courts building. Go there and grab a lawyer, get him to stamp and sign this page and come back. Sometimes they make you pay sometimes they don't. You don't need to wait in line again, just bring it in to me."

Grab a lawyer? Grab a lawyer? Honey if I knew how to grab a lawyer I'd have done it 30 years ago and I'd now be out lunching with the other lawyers' wives. (I didn't say this.) However, she seemed to have seen this work before so I toddled down to the law courts and tried to grab a lawyer. It doesn't work like that of course. You can't just grab a lawyer. The guard on the gate told me to go to room 107.

There was a man behind a desk in room 107. The sign on the door said 'Secretary to Someone' but I asked him if he was a lawyer just to be polite.
"Do you need something notarized?" he asked. He was obviously used to this. "Go to room 100, pay 480 shekels (about 80 pounds) and bring me the receipt."
Me: "480 SHEKELS?!!!!"
Him: "No, not 480 shekels, 48 shekels."
I went, I paid, I brought back the receipt, Mr Secretary took out a stamp, he asked me if all the documents are true, I said 'yes', he stamped, he scribbled over the stamp (I think that activates it or something), and I left.

When I returned to the nice lady I told her about room 107 and the 48 shekels. She wrote it down to help others in the future. (Dear Karma, please note that I paid it forward.) She told me I should hear from them in about a month. I'm hoping that means I get accredited in a month but I'm trying not to think about it too much.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tuesday Tidbits 26: Almost Six

DD (trying on my sandals): Why don't you wear these anymore?
Me: Because it's too cold. I need to put them away for the winter.
DD: No, you mean you need to put them away for the summer!
(Now I'm not sure which one of us is right.)

DD (waking up in my bed with my radio-alarm on): Turn that music off, it's going right up my ears.

DD: It's a good thing the tooth fairy knows I like sticker books. How lucky!

DD: Do you know you can dance sitting down?
ME: Yes I think you can.
DD: Yes, it's for when you don't want to waste too much energy so you can dance sitting in your chair.
Me: Good to know. Thanks.
DD: You're welcome.

DD: Some of the songs in the films are my favourite.
Me (thinking of songs from Mary Poppins or The Sound of Music): Which songs are your favourite?
DD: Something from Shrek 2.
Me (thinking of Halleluia and I'm A Believer, etc.): Sing it to me.
DD: (wiggling her hips and arms in the air): I'm too sexy for my shirt, too sexy for my shirt!
Me (!@#$%):

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I Wasn't Ready For This

I have said a number of times that age 5 was the most exciting year so far. Actually every year gets better than the last as I'm not one of those mothers who would like her baby to stay a baby for longer. Probably because I'm an older mother whose friends are all making weddings for their children and becoming grandparents, I am happy to embrace each new stage of intelligence and independence (hers and mine).

I love it when DD (occasionally) chooses what to wear and dresses herself. I swell with pride when she reads words in English that I didn't know she could read. I enjoy hearing her start to read in Hebrew. I'm bowled over by the connections she makes when doing number work. It's only numbers to 20 but when she says, "Of course 6 and 5 make 11 because we know 5 and 5 make 10 so if we add one more to one of the 5s to get 6, that makes one more than 10," I am amazed and in awe that she thinks like that.

I  get excited when DD has a play date and I know they will disappear into her bedroom and entertain themselves. Even better is when she goes to a friend's house. I'm fascinated by the fact that she has her own social life independent of me.

DD tells me (also occasionally as I don't get much information from school) something funny or good, or not fair, that happened at school and though it's 6 year old's gossip, it's getting more and more interesting. I can't wait till 10th Grade!

However, yesterday, two weeks before her 6th birthday, DD came home and showed me that she'd lost her first tooth. Reader I wasn't ready for this.

We bought her real jeans from Primark back in April. Put a child in jeans and they instantly look like a teenager (even if they are only 2 1/2). My little girl has been looking like a (small) teenager recently and I think it's cute. But she still has her milk teeth so she's still a very little girlie and I do love that.

Part of the shock was that we didn't even know the tooth was loose. It just came out with no warning. You should get some warning, right?

Then my 'big' girl got worried that the tooth fairy wouldn't know to come because she lost the tooth at school. (I was a bit upset too - I sort of wanted to see it and maybe keep it for a while.) I told her we'd write a letter and put it under her pillow. "Can't you just send her an email?" asked my child of the computer generation.

I could have made her write more but we were both tired after homework and everything else. DD wrote her name and drew a picture. "Can the tooth fairy read pictures?"
"Of course she can, she's magic."

This morning under the pillow was a new sticker book from the tooth fairy. "Oh, not a coin?" But she was thrilled and in awe about the sticker book (thanks to Grandma for sending it from London).

I wasn't ready for new teeth. It marks the beginning of the real end to that adorable baby face. I  know another adorable young girl face will take its place - one that comes with a reader, a backgammon player, a shopping pal, an independent little miss. But I wasn't quite ready for this.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Silliest, Most Unhelpful Response To Diets

As you know if you've been reading this blog recently, I'm doing Herbalife. With mixed results and another two weeks to go, I'm not making any final judgments until the end. You can read my Herbalife posts here.

However, I have to comment on what to me seems like the silliest response to anyone who announces they're on a diet. What overweight person hasn't heard it? As soon as you say, "not for me thanks I'm doing Atkins (or any of the other diet plan)," someone is going to respond with, "diets are all rubbish, all you need is to eat smaller amounts of healthy food." This is usually said by a slim person.

Whether it's Herbalife, The Cambridge Plan, Atkins, South Beach, Slimming World, Weight Watchers, Billy Connolly (it's not Billy Connolly - what's that woman's name who sells whole pre-packed meals and exercise dvds?), etc... I agree that all of them have a way of eating that you would not want to keep up for the rest of your life. Some are faddy and unhealthy for a long period, some too expensive, and some just too complicated to think about for more than a few months.

But how does it help to tell a fatty that all they need to do is eat smaller amounts of healthy food? Do you think they don't know that it wasn't a healthy diet that made them fat in the first place? Do you not think that if they were able to sustain a diet of smaller amounts of healthy food they would have been doing it for a while and not be fat?

It's not just a matter of willpower. I know fat Jewish women who, if you presented them with a sumptuous buffet and said, "by the way it's not kosher, everything's made with ham or cooked in lard," they would not touch a morsel. However hungry they were and however delicious the food looked, they would not even be tempted. It's not kosher so it's not for them any more than if you'd served a wonderfully presented dish of dog food. Yet they cannot restrain themselves from overeating in any other [kosher] setting.

Nor is it ignorance. Fat people often know more about nutrition than anyone due to years, lifetimes sometimes, of researching the solution to being overweight. They are not fat because they don't know that too many carbs result in too many kilos of fat. They don't eat those excess carbs because they think it's healthy. Fat people eat as compensation for something else in the way that an alcoholic or drug addict is tempted by their own particular poison when certain stress buttons are pushed.

If I'm upset, frustrated, angry (or even just a bit cross), nervous or agitated in any way, I find myself heading to the fridge for comfort. Under stress for long periods of time I've not had a heart attack, migraines, stomach problems, skin eruptions, a stroke, or a nervous breakdown. I've got fat.

The best antidote is to get into the right mindset and cure oneself by eating smaller amounts of healthy food. No Nobel prize for stating the obvious here. However, I bet a Nobel prize would be awarded to the billionaire (and they would become billionaires if they cracked this one) who discovered a sure way to get yourself into that mindset. I've done it a few times in my life and ended up slim and feeling great. In every instance I kept off the weight until I was sabotaged by extreme stress or upset. And every time it took me years to achieve the same mindset that enabled me to lose the weight in the first place. If I could only pinpoint the trigger I'd be writing the book as we speak.

In fact I did manage to lose a stone (14lbs) in the four weeks before I started a month of Hebalife. In my case it was desperation followed by ten days of a urine/kidney infection that left me without any appetite. Experience has taught me that a few weeks of eating smaller amounts of healthy food is not enough to keep me on the straight and narrow for the long haul.

I chose to do Herbalife because it would give me a strict programme to follow, without being complicated (involving too many choices or loads of preparation), for another month. Never mind how effective Herbalife is as a nutritional product, for me the success would come from knowing I'd paid quite a lot of money for it so I jolly well wasn't going to waste that, and from adding to my 14lbs of weight already lost as extra motivation to continue losing afterwards.

For those who cannot get themselves into the right mindset, diets like these (choose any of them, they all work if you stick to it) get you to the starting post without all the excess baggage. In the end if you want to stay slim and healthy, of course you must eat smaller amounts of healthy food. Nothing will take the place of changing your eating habits for life. But how much easier it is to do this from the starting line of being fit and healthy. How much easier it is to eat healthily without the added burdens of depression, low self esteem, ill health, restricted mobility and general sluggishness of being overweight.

So no we haven't been conned into paying for rubbish (rubbish is all the processed and fast food we might have been buying beforehand) or even wasting money on something we can do ourselves without paying for it (I clean my own home but I wouldn't ridicule those who employ a cleaner and don't do it themselves). Sometimes you need a little help to get started and you pay whatever takes. For me it's three weeks of guaranteed not falling off the diet wagon. And when I've reached my target weight, then it might be useful and helpful to remind me to eat smaller amounts of healthy food.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Single Motherhood, Should You Or Shouldn't You?

There's a meme going around whereby you answer questions set by the person who tagged you. I was tagged by Candi at Looking for Blue Sky but, as luck would have it, the same week a friend asked me to answer some questions about being a single mother for a presentation she's giving next month. So I'm answering these questions instead but thank you Candi for the tag.

What is your name? Rachel, blogging about this very subject at

What is your child's name? Adiele
How old are they? 6
How old were you when you had them? 46

What are your hopes and dreams for your kids? The same as every parent I imagine - that she should be happy, healthy, fulfilled, and surrounded by loving family and good friends her entire life.

Why did you decide to take this route? I was entering my 40s, single, and facing the possibility that I would never be a Mummy. This was unacceptable to me and more than a bit scary.

How did people react to your decision? Most people understood me completely and were very positive and supportive. A couple of single women just a few years older than me said they'd wished they'd done it themselves but it hadn't been as accepted, available, or as successful even 10 years before. Interestingly it was the most religious women who were the happiest for me that I was pursuing this option as they totally got it about being a mother. Actually that's perhaps not so surprising on reflection. A few single men expressed regret that they didn't have the same option.

Others, also interestingly all of them women who already had children of their own and therefore never faced the prospect of being childless, were anti: it's selfish (not sure why it's any more selfish than two adults wanting a baby), it's irresponsible, you won't be able to cope, it's not fair on the child, you don't understand how hard it will be, etc... I had a very simple response to this. These people were dropped from my life at least until after Adiele was born. Then some of them came back but tbh, it was never the same relationship.

Who and how have people surprised you along your single mother by choice journey? The only surprise was how many other people were going this route or already had. Even more surprising were the women who'd done it 20 or 30 years ago (mostly without the IVF).

What have you learned along this journey? Getting pregnant and staying pregnant isn't so easy this side of 40 - I though it would be easier. You can't control everything so it's best to be laid back and fit in the 'procedures' around your regular life whilst just going with the flow (no pun intended). It took me four years from my initial meeting at the IVF clinic to bringing home my daughter. And when you have your baby you realize that the end goal of IVF and everything before the birth was nothing. Motherhood is where it all begins.

What would you advise someone thinking about it today? The best piece of advice I got was from my family doctor who said just do it. Don't think about it too much or you'll scare yourself out of it.

From the other side and six years on, I admit that there were difficult times - scarily low finances, day after day of baby/toddler routine with no promise of adult company at the end of the day (thank goodness for facebook), being torn three ways between needing to work for money, do household tasks and entertain your child, and putting your own social life almost completely on hold until you can afford babysitters or your child is old enough for sleepovers. But it all passes. Now we are 6 everything is a lot easier and, for me, a lot more fun.

For those with modest careers and no trust fund, the biggest fear seems to be one of finances, and rightly so. However, I believe that there is no such thing as not being able to afford one child if you want to be a mother. The question is how much you want it. Do you want it enough to move to a cheaper area, live a much more frugal life, change your career rather than be bankrupt by childcare fees, give up your car, etc, etc. I wanted to be a mother above all else so the choice for me was an easy one.

Do you have any regrets? No

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Are You A Driver Or A Passenger In Your Life?

I told you I took tea with my friend and neighbour Aviva Belfer. Aviva is a life enhancer - both the outer (manicures, pedicures, and waxing) and the inner (Reiki, Journey Therapy, and Access Consciousness - she is a certified practitioner of all three).

I was interested in The Journey. I could link to The Journey official website but I don't want to as I'm not intending to be a Journey Practitioner myself I have no interest in promoting a new-age guru, making her into some sort of Goddess, and adding to her billion dollar industry. The Journey as a technique uses much of the same empowering devices as Neuro-Linguistic Programing (NLP) and many other systems found on the self-help/new-age shelf of the library.

What I am interested in is the bottom line. Why do some people seem to have enchanted lives while others struggle and yet others have downright tragic existences? Why can some people cure themselves of life-threatening illnesses while others succumb to the medical prognosis. Why do some people succeed at everything while others fail at everything? Is luck just luck or do we make our own luck? Why are some people the drivers of their own lives while others are passengers?

Aviva uses Journey methods which she learned at Journey seminars and courses. I believe in it because I cannot accept that all those people I alluded to in the paragraph above have to be the victims of chaos, coincidence and luck for their whole lives. Something must make the universe work with some people and against others. Unless you believe that the universe (insert your God here if that works for you better) is vindictive and has favourites, the answer has to come from within ourselves.

I also believe that, without hero worship or creating new-age gods (and billionaires), you can find someone to help you unlock whatever is holding you back from realizing your potential and achieving your dreams. My visit with Aviva gave me a taste of how this can work.

A big part of The Journey is about letting go of past 'issues'. This can mean hurts, humiliations, anger, fear, regrets, guilt, and/or injustices. The premise is that these emotions are held in the very cells of our bodies and they hold us back or, even worse, can make us sick. We all know the effects of stress for example, can be physically debilitating so there is some truth in this we can all agree on. In my mind it doesn't matter if it's the whole truth or not and whether the same results could be achieved with e.g NLP or The Secret. The important thing is the result and the person who can help you get there. Any talk therapy that works is good.

I didn't go in with a particular problem. In order to discuss The Journey I remembered something I did in my youth that I regret bitterly. Interestingly, Aviva wasn't interested in the story. What happened happened and we can't change it after all. Aviva was only interested in exploring how this event was blocking me and limiting my life. I admit that I sort of wanted to unburden myself by telling the story but though she was willing to listen if I needed to tell it, it wasn't relevant to the process. I didn't share the story. I'm not sure what happened to that thread because as we delved deeper into the emotions and impulses involved, we uncovered a much bigger issue in my childhood and went off on a tangent.

Using guided imagery techniques, Aviva asked me to invite all the players to a campfire and ask them all in turn to explain their side of the events. I reached a point where I could understand why everyone behaved as they did and I could let go of some of the injustice I felt. I could not go as far as forgiving the person I felt should have helped me at the time. I know I was supposed to be able to say, "I forgive you," but I don't. I understand them but I think the wrong choices were made by grown-ups even though they didn't know any better and thought they were doing the best for me. (So I probably won't be retiring to my villa in the South of France just yet. :~P) Maybe it takes longer or maybe understanding is enough. What is forgiveness anyway?

On the other hand, I no longer feel like a failure in this instance. I now realize that I was failed (without hating anyone for it but not exactly forgiving them either). Before you start getting the wrong idea, it's not about shifting all the blame for everything onto others but about absolving the guilt. If you mess up there is usually a reason. You can make bad choices and wrong decisions and even though you made them yourself, they didn't come from nowhere. Something even further back led to you not being able to take the better path. This is The Journey - going back to find the point of destruction and changing the points of creation (or is it the other way around?).

The next day I had a meeting about working on a project that I could call my dream job. Not being sure exactly how many hours work it will entail, the 'boss' suggested he advance me X amount of money and we'd see how far it goes. The X represents exactly the amount I needed to get me through to the next payout for another project without going into overdraft. I also have not indulged in any comfort eating since my session with Aviva and I've organised my two college courses so they should run smoothly through the semester without any hitches or last minute planning panics - something I was putting off for no apparent reason. It's not a villa in Provence but it's a start.

Aviva Belfer can be contacted through her website.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tuesday Tidbits 25: The App Edition

DD is playing Moy2 with annoying sound effects - falling water, chewing, bouncing, cash register....
Me: Can you stop that?
DD: But Mummy, I have to make him happy. And also I don't want to waste money and waste food. I'm just trying to cheer him up that's why I have to keep playing it.
Me: Oh ok.

DD (while watching Peppa Pig): If you're a mummy or a daddy and it's your birthday you have to go to work.
Me: That's true.
DD: Yes, because otherwise how will they prepare all your surprises?
(Children have selective memories don't they?)

I sometimes try to make DD more comfortable when she's fallen asleep in an impossible position or propped up by too many pillows. Recently she woke up and got cross.  
DD (as I tucked her into bed): Now don't interfere with my comfortable. If I'm uncomfortable I'll sort myself out. You don't start moving my pillows. OK?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Treble Clef

DD has music twice a week in School. When I was 5 music meant singing, possibly with a box of small percussion instruments to be handed out to the lucky few - tambourines, triangles, wooden blocks.

I still remember some of those songs from my Reception class in 1967. Or I should say some of some of those songs. We sang 'Jimmy Crack Corn And I Don't Care' (it seems racism hadn't been invented yet let alone the concept of politically correct). We sang 'All Thing Bright And Beautiful' (but not the verse about the rich man in his castle - so maybe there was some political correctness). And we sang 'What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor?' (Would that even be allowed today?).

I have no idea what DD is doing in Music. She doesn't tell me much about what goes on in school at all. When I ask her what she had for lunch she answers, "Um, I don't think I should tell you." She means, "you're not going to like this but I didn't eat any of it." I'm slowly learning to decode.

Yesterday after music DD brought home this.

Now I know that blogging about your children is a form of bragging as well as keeping a record for posterity. We try to keep it interesting though and include the more difficult moments so it's not just showing off our wonderful little darlings. However, I just think this is the cutest thing I've seen come home from school yet (including all the Mother's Day cards, Rosh Hashana Blessings, etc...).

No apologies, I love this attempt at a treble clef. I don't even know what it's called in Hebrew (and neither does DD) but it makes me smile every time I look at it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tuesday Tidbits 24: Shana Tova

At the school ceremony for Rosh Hashana. (It's a white shirt day for special days)

I bought a load of cheap sweets and chocolates at the new supermarket as they were such good value. However DD only gets sweets on Shabbat (Friday night/Saturday) so I put most of them away to ration out over the weeks. Last weekend we went to stay with friends who have twins.

On Friday before we left:
DD: Can I have some smarties?
Me: No
DD: I'm taking some. I am....
Me: I said, 'no.'
DD: I'm going to get some....
Me: If you take any sweets there'll be trouble.
DD: What will happen if I take some?
Me: I'll take all the sweets I bought this week and give them to the twins.
DD (with hands on her hips): Well THAT would be a waste of money, wouldn't it?

After three weeks at school and every morning being a struggle to separate with 'just one more cuddle,' and 'just one more kiss,' etc. And every morning I leave the classroom as the teacher is waiting to begin the lesson. (I'm not the last parent to leave btw and other children are sometimes in tears.) This morning as the bell went...

DD: Bye bye Mummy you can go now. (One kiss and a cuddle and that was it, I left.)

Shana Tova to everyone for a very healthy, happy, and successful new year. xxx

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Supermarket Wars in Jerusalem

Until the beginning of the summer there were five main shopping choices for people in my neighbourhood.

1. The Shuk. The open air market downtown. Very cheap but bustling and noisy, no parking and a bus ride away (if you can be bothered to bring all your weekly shopping home on the bus!) There are those who make it a virtue to go to the shuk but most of my friends are not shuk people.

2. Super Deal. Mid-mountain where I live and just oh so conveniently around the corner from me. Unfortunately it's very expensive and quite small.

3. Rami Levy. The cheapest option, along the mid-mountain road a little further away. Imagine a shop the size of your local sweet shop/newagent being stuffed full of everything in Lidl and 200 people trying to get round it with shopping trolleys. I went there once and still have flash-backs.

4. Shufersal. In the valley. A bit like Lidl. Looks like an aircraft hangar but good fruit and veg and cheapish.

5. Mega Bool. In the valley opposite Shufersal and under a nice shopping mall. Mega Bool started off cheap but then got more expensive. However by that time I'd already got the credit card and it was pleasant to walk through the mall to get there and it was the closest thing to Sainsbury's in the area. In short I felt at home in Mega Bool and so did my friends.

[FYI: 1nis is about 18p, 6nis = 1 pound]

Then Mega Bool closed. It was a slow death lasting several weeks while they were open but didn't restock. Pitiful actually. It was painful to watch and one by one we stayed away and cancelled our loyalty cards. But where to go?

I was in denial for a couple of months and popped into Super Deal every couple of days while I made my mind up. I spent 2,000nis/month for the two of us instead of the usual 1,250. Rami Levy would have been about half that for the same food and household goods but I just couldn't. The only choice for me was Shufersal in the aircraft hangar. I met some of the old crowd there and was slowly getting used to it.

And then, big news! Osher Ad opened yesterday where Mega Bool had been. Osher Ad is a bit like Costco except they are not catering primarily to businesses but provide bulk buying opportunities for large religious families with lots of children and not very much money.

I asked for impressions on fb in Secret Jerusalem and got over 200 comments. It's been hilarious. I had people walking round doing live updates. They wouldn't allow photos to be taken as apparently there were spies there from Rami Levy. It was open till midnight, all 24 checkouts working, cheaper than cheap prices, no delivery service unfortunately. The lifts from the shopping mall aren't working yet so if you're not driving you have to walk all the way round. And it doesn't open until 10am which is very inconvenient for parents who drop their kids off at school for 8am - what are you supposed to do for 2 hours while you wait?

I went today. On my way I popped into Shufersal to compare a few prices. Tomatoes had dropped from 3.90nis/kg to 0.90nis/kg and cucumbers were also down to 1.45nis/kg from 3.90. So I guess Shuferal also sent spies yesterday. I reckoned it would be pretty cheap to shop at Shufersal today so I decided to do a quick reccy in Osher Ad and come back to Shufersal. I already had it in my mind that there would be an oppressively religious atmosphere in Osher Ad and I wanted nothing to do with it.

I arrived at 9.57am. Think of the start of a marathon except with shopping trolleys. Think of passport control at the airport in August. Everyone was in a jolly and expectant mood. There were people in strappy tops with bare shoulders, there were Arabs, and there were the orthodox Jews - the usual mixture of clientele for my neighbourhood. No religious coercion here (in some places supermarkets have been known to have dress codes for women).

It's huge. A bit like Costco and Tesco's rolled into one. I'd gone 20 paces when I realised I had to shop here today. Even though the tomatoes and cucumbers were 1.90nis/kg, everything else was a bargain. I bought the 3.2kg block of cheese but will cut it into 6 portions and freeze 5 of them. I bought 2.5kg of hair conditioner for 14nis which I'll decant into 750l water bottles. Sweets for Shabbat were 1nis per packet that usually cost between 5 and 8nis elsewhere. Crisps at 2nis/50g packet. Bread, rolls and pittot at reduced prices. A big box of chocolate croissants for 8.90nis will be quartered and frozen. I bought 1kg of carrots for 1nis. LOL, I don't even like carrots but at that price it would have been rude not to. And the list goes on.

Of course I spent twice what I would usually spend for one week but at least half of it is part of a bulk buy that will last a month. The cashiers didn't know how to work the tills but they'll learn. Unfortunately I had to schlep it all up the mountain in 30 degree heat. I broke my shopping trolley as it was all too heavy for it. So that's about 60nis for a new one of those. But then the cleaner who'd just finished the stairwell in my building offered to carry it all upstairs for me. All in all, I think I will be going there again. And again. And again. Until, as the cynics have pointed out, the prices start to creep up as they do once they've got you chained to their loyalty card.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Single Mother's Birthday

It started with this exchange:

Me: What nice thing shall we do to celebrate my birthday?
DD: Actually I think it's only for children.

And ended with this exchange:

Me: I'm not reading a story to someone who can't even wish me Happy Birthday.
DD: *big sigh* Happy Birthday Mummy can I have the dinosaur book?

In between was a series of mishaps and meltdowns one after the other. 

7am. Up, make 10 o'clock snack, shower, dress myself. Usual mad panic to get DD awake and cooperative enough for me to dress her. Bully and threaten her with no stories, no playing on my phone, no sugar things, etc... until she goes to the loo and drinks her apple juice. Eventually leave the house - she has a small bag of pretzels in her hand in lieu of breakfast (don't worry, packed lunches are eaten at 10am in school). Make it to school just as the bell is ringing. Class teacher has to prise DD's fingers off my dress to let me go. 

8.05am. Back home, make coffee, check twitter, blog, emails, facebook. Facebook is full of lovely messages wishing me a fabulous, wonderful, fun-filled, day. It hopes I'm spoiled and pampered and made to feel special on my special day. I put on a load of laundry and get to work preparing lessons for my college courses.

Work all day, occasionally check in to all the above forums. More pressure from facebook but it serves me right for going there. Make and eat a million rounds of cheese on toast to compensate for having an ordinary day on my birthday.

4.30pm. Pick up DD from school and, feeling the pressure from facebook, suggest we go out for ice-cream. She has a little drink from her water bottle and we go to the nearest cafe. (This is significant).

4.45pm. I don't even like ice-cream so I just ordered a celebratory coffee. Just instant because that's what I like. It cost 16nis (Over 3 pounds) for something I could have had free at home. 2 scoops of ice-cream cost 28nis (almost 5 pounds!) and of course DD had to also have a drink. Last time we go there (Cafe BeGeenah if you're interested). 

After we ordered and before it came I suggested we see what homework DD had. On opening her bag I realize I'd neglected to put her pencil case back inside when I'd removed it to get her water bottle out. It was sitting on a bench in school. DD promptly had a meltdown. I suggested we run and get it. She didn't want to, preferring to sit and scream about it. I kept thinking about all those coloured pencils and felt tip pens individually labelled with her name - hours of work to redo if we've lost her pencil case. 

5pm. The ice-cream came. It was served in a sundae glass and filled to the top. As DD put her spoon in the ice-cream dribbled out all over the top and ran down the outside onto the table. Meltdown 2. I went to the kitchen to get a bowl and paper napkins, I cleaned up the mess, I sat down. 
DD: I don't even like this ice-cream.

5.20pm. We leave the cafe 10 pounds poorer. I'm in a foul mood. I give myself the tip for cleaning the table.  

5.30pm. We get back to school and rattle the locked doors until the cleaner hears us and lets us in. We find the pencil case under the bench (where it had fallen which is why I didn't notice it when repacking the bag). This was the highlight of my day.

5.40pm. Get out DD's homework. There was quite a lot to do. For Hebrew she had to draw over the outlines of the aleph-bet and then go back to colour all the letters in. By the time she got to the colouring she'd had enough. I told her to leave it for a while and do some more after supper. 
DD: No you do it.
Me: I can't do your homework for you, it's not allowed. 
DD: Just do it! JUST DO IT FOR ME!
Me: Ok, I'll do a few letters. (It was a lot of busy work after all.)
I coloured in three letters and suddenly there was a howl of despair from DD. Apparently there was a pattern going on in the colours and I'd done the wrong colours. Meltdown 3. 

6pm. I go to make supper which is usually served at 6pm but because we'd been out it wasn't made yet. 
DD: Can I have suffink (sic) to keep me going? (I give her a packet of crisps.)

6.20pm. I serve supper. 
DD: Actually I'm not hungry. I'm full up from ice-cream and crisps. (Okey dokey.)

7.30pm. After the dinosaur book and a couple of other stories I left DD in bed and ended the evening on facebook reading about various people being whisked off to the Carmel Spa or at least taken out for a special dinner for their birthdays. They were all feeling the luuuurv. Oh good. Happy for them. Really. 

Happy Birthday to me and all single mothers everywhere! 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Ode To Autumn In A Hot Country

It's like a cool shower after a day toiling in the fields. Like a comfortable bed after a camping holiday. Like flicking off your party shoes after a night of dancing. In a word - relief.

I'm talking about the Autumn after a Summer that's been sizzling hot since May. I know that September doesn't automatically mean instantly cooler weather but there is a subtle psychology that says it does feel cooler. The nights are noticeably so and the days are drawing in. There are clouds in the sky (although no rain as yet) and gentle breezes. Sleeveless top and dresses are not quite enough in the mornings and late afternoons. There is change in the air.

Schools go back and, therefore, parents go back to work properly. Routine is restored and bedtimes enforced once again. Proper clothes are beginning to emerge, with even a layer or two. Shoes instead of sandals. School uniforms instead of shorts. A general smartening up occurs.

There's an energy. Personal energy as it becomes comfortable to walk more without the incessant heat that was June, July and August. Even cleaning your house is easier and more worthwhile as it seems to stay tidier for longer when the holidays end. There is work to do and schedules to stick to so no time for constantly stopping by the fridge for something to nosh.

I colour my hair and pluck my eyebrows - when was the last time I did that? It feels good and I get into the grooming groove. How about a facial scrub, a deep cleanse, some toner, and a bit of makeup now that the tan is beginning to fade? All these lotions and potions are somewhere in the back of the bathroom cabinet from before the Summer surrender to sweat, sand and frizzy hair.

I look at the parched (that means dead) flowers and plants on my balcony that were neglected in the heat and think about planting anew for the next season. I have seeds and sprouting potatoes ready. I start googling about growing vegetables on a small balcony. I'm thinking about soups and stews all of a sudden. And suppers that warm and fill rather than grabbing a yogurt and some grapes. Now that spending time in the kitchen is bearable again, my culinary ideas are getting more ambitious.

It's a natural build up to Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year). Invitations are given and menus planned. There is a desire for everything to be physically clean as well as spiritually prepared. It's a new beginning, a new start, a new leaf, a breath of fresh air, expectation, hope, ambition, inspiration, and motivation. It's Autumn.

The Chinese Bamboo, a story of inspiration and motivation.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tidbits 23: Food And Education

DD's in bed and I'm sitting in the living room. Suddenly I hear soft whimpering and moaning coming from DD's bedroom. 
Me: DD are you all right?
Me: Darling, what's the matter? Are you ok?
DD: Be quiet I wasn't talking to you.
Me: What's going on in there then?
DD: I'm just telling myself a story. I don't know why you heard me, I'm telling it very quietly.

In the supermarket.
DD: Do we need carrots?
Me: No, we're not really carrot people.
DD: Of course we're cucumber and tomato people.
DD: Are we potato people? (Yes)
DD: Are we aubergine people? (I am, you're not)
DD: I'm gummy bears people.

A few days later
DD: Mummy why aren't we avocado people any more?
Me: We are Darling but they're not in season at the moment.

DD: Rock and Roll is a kind of music.
Me: Did you learn that in music at school?
DD: No, I learned it from Bubble Guppies. You can learn everything from Bubble Guppies. Even important things. You should watch it. I don't know why you don't watch it.
Me: Do you learn more from Bubble Guppies than you learn from going to school?
DD: Of course! They even have a 'First Day of School' on Bubble Guppies so I already know everything!

DD: Right we never had a chance to say goodbye?
Me: Say to goodbye to who?
DD: To the dinosaurs because they're dead already.

*Photos by Sarit Doron

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Dinner Was Hijacked

Having discovered a packet of frozen tvp 'minced meat' (Tivol/Tivall) in the freezer I decided to make couscous with a vegan bolognese sauce.

DD has had couscous before and loved it. The last time was at Shabbat lunch at the home of friends. The couscous was served as a salad with cut up vegetables mixed in and a salad dressing. On that occasion I didn't happen to have any as there was so much other food on the table.

I started the sauce and as it was simmering on the hob I got the couscous out. It's an instant couscous - you just add some olive oil, spices and boiling water, wait five minutes and it's ready to eat. DD wandered in to the kitchen to see what I was up to and supervise as she is wont to do.
"Ooh is that couscous?"
"Yes, I'm making it with that meaty sauce."
"Can you cut up cucumbers and tomatoes in it instead like we had the other day on Shabbat?"
"I'll do some for you like that and some for me with the bolognese sauce."
"Well I'm only eating the salad one!"

In the end I put the bolognese sauce in the freezer for another time and made the whole coucous dish into a salad as instructed. It just wasn't worth the washing up to make two different meals.

We sat down to eat and DD tucked in. Between mouthfuls I got the following lecture: "This is delicious. Much better than that meaty sauce. I don't know why you didn't try this the other day on Shabbat. Why didn't you try it? I love this salad. Can I have some more please? Can I take some to school tomorrow? I never want to have that meaty sauce with couscous. Uh uh. Uh uh means no. Are you enjoying it?" And on and on and on......

Couscous salad with vegetables is very good but I wanted couscous bolognese. I felt like dinner had been  hijacked.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Cara Delevingne Was My Friend

Absolutely true. For a few weeks Cara Delevingne was my friend on fb. And she asked me, I didn't ask her. Up she popped one day requesting my friendship and I thought she was a woman in Jerusalem who belongs to one of the parenting groups I frequent. Obviously I accepted - she might be able to help me find a babysitter after all.

A few days later I was scrolling down the Daily Mail Online looking for some reading matter about how someone lost 200lbs in 3 minutes and now goes camping in all her loose skin, or such like, when I see the name Cara Delevingne. "Oh," I said to myself, "she's got a very similar name to that woman in Jerusalem."

I went to look as I couldn't quite remember that woman's exact name. Whoa. I found myself fully friended and therefore able to comment on a timeline where the previous status was from Georgia Jagger.

Some detective work was in order. I noticed that Cara and I have two mutual friends. I quickly messaged one of them - my friend Sharon. I can't remember who the other mutual friend is now.

Click on image to enlarge it. 

Sharon and I chatted for a while and I knew I had to blog about this. Meanwhile Cara popped up on my newsfeed a few times. I smiled but actually, I was far more interested in hearing how the new Supermarket in a local shopping mall is due to open in two weeks and that it's rumoured to be one of the cheaper chains. 

The next thing I know facebook is asking me if I want to friend Hugh Grant. Whoa again. I admit that grabbed my attention more than news about the supermarket opening. 

I let a week or so go by as I had to catch up on blogging about the summer holiday in various pursuits that are a million trillion miles from how Ms Delevigne spent her summer. Perhaps that's why she did it? 

Today I was ready to write this post and I went to see how Cara was doing first. OK, I just wanted to see if there were any more names I could drop, if I want to see how she's doing I'll go to the Daily Mail won't I? To my dismay I saw that facebook had directed me to her public page which I was 'invited' to follow. FOLLOW?! We were friends once yer know. 

At this point I started to think I may have imagined it all. I rushed to my messages to see if my conversation with Sharon was still there. It was. Phew, I knew it. Cara is a fickle friend. I wrote to Sharon immediately.

Click on image to enlarge it.
So if any of you bump into Cara Delevingne and she asks for my phone number, please don't pass it on. I'm not talking to her atm.

*With thanks to Netanya and Sarah for the lessons in Screen Shots.

Beach Convert

I used to hate the beach. Not all of it and not all the time. I only hated 1. the sand 2. swimming in the sea and 3. when it's hot. I like walking along the beach in the early morning before it gets hot and no-one expects you to strip off or swim. I like the beach in the evening watching the sunset. At night cooking and singing around a bonfire. I like it from a nearby balcony whilst sipping a cool drink and watching the world go by. But that's not really doing the beach is it?

The Sand gets everywhere. You bring copious amounts home with you and it gets everywhere at home too. Even though you shower and wash your hair thoroughly, for days afterwards you find sand in places you didn't even know you had places.

Once about 30 years ago I got caught up in a wave. It came at me from behind just as I'd lifted my feet off the ground and I was turned over in somersault. For probably 5 seconds at the most I didn't know which way was up and which way was down. It was terrifying and then it was all over. I was left sitting in about two inches of water. I did not go back into the sea deeper than up to my knees for 30 years!

The heat and I are life long enemies and sitting on a sandy beach with minimum shade when you're too scared to go in the water and cool off makes the heat a clear winner in this context.

And DD has refused to go on the beach a number of times in the past because she too doesn't like the sand and is a bit nervous of the water.

However, this year everything changed. Back in June we were staying at a kibbutz only 20 minutes drive from the beach and were invited to go there with friends for a couple of hours. Well I would just as happily have stayed at home and read my book but 5yos need a bit of activity - they're peculiar like that. I wrote about it in this post but here's the beach bit:

"The sea was rough and no one was allowed in past their knees but knee height is perfect for 5yos. DD (and all the other children) sat just shy of the water and were catapulted up the beach as the waves came in. A row of lifeguards stood as a buffer in case any little ones got carried too far out (and also to stop the older kids from going in despite the warnings) but actually they were all beached each time and had to come running back to sit on the sand and wait for the next wave. Honestly, it was better than any ride at a theme park."

So when I knew we were going camping at the beach it wasn't the beach bit I was dreading. I'd already made a shift towards loving the beach. Only this time I went in the water proper. It was amazing. I can't believe I've been so scared of it for 30 years. This is what I wrote: 

"We spent a fantastic afternoon on the beach it has to be said. The water was just rolling enough to ride the swells and thrill the children. The sand was perfect for building forts and castles with moats and canals."

Thus when my friend Yael suggested we drive to the beach (well she drives and I pay for the car park) on Friday afternoon when the children finish school at midday, and spend the afternoon there, it took me about half a second to say yes. An added bonus is that Yael is a serious photographer. If I told you she took 500 photos in three hours and then edited them down to 47 the next day, you'll understand what I mean about being serious. All the photos from the beach are by Yael Katz. 

Another benefit of a trip to the beach is the follow up activity of washing and drying the shells you collected. ( My photos this time - can you tell the difference? :P )

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Camping Israeli Style

I have this theory that the length of a holiday depends on the size of the country. I base it on the fact that kids in America go to summer camp for up to two months, in the UK we used to go for 2 weeks, and in Israel people go on holiday for 2 or 3 days.

On the last Sunday before school went back I received an email from a friend saying we (four mothers with four children) were going camping for one night at Dor Beach - Tuesday to Wednesday. I immediately went into a panic. I hate the beach, I don't own a tent, it all seemed so much effort for one night. So I waited for one of the others to wimp out first so I wouldn't look so bad. It didn't happen.

Our leader talked me through it. We would leave on Tuesday at lunchtime, spend the afternoon on the beach, cook dinner, the next morning we'd make breakfast, spend a few hours on the beach, go to Zichron Ya'akov for lunch and then come home. Two of the four families are driving from Jerusalem, a 2-man tent costs about 25 pounds from Home Centre, and here is a list of the food you need to bring. How could I refuse, it all sounded so fait accompli, which of course it was.

I bought a tent, another thin foam roll-up thingy to sleep on (I already had one at home) and a folding deck chair. They picked us us at 2pm and we drove in convoy. I bought the ice-creams and drinks en route in lieu of driving. We arrived at the campsite at about 4pm. And this is where it became all Israeli.

Now I am an experienced camper. I grew up camping. I was once the head cook under canvass for 100 people for two weeks. I can pitch a tent single handed. I can wash all over (including my hair) out of a bucket, However, all this was 25 years ago and more. It was camping on clean grass in cool weather. It was when I was young and could sleep on the hard ground.

To be fair the campsite was right next to a sandy beach on the Mediterranean Sea. I am still amazed and grateful that I live less than an hour's drive from the Mediterranean. (This beach was a two hour drive as we had to choose a location out of rocket range from Gaza and, it turned out, out of missile range from Lebanon. Just south of Haifa fitted the bill perfectly.) It was beautiful.

However, there was no grass. The campsite was a sort of sandy mud. The beach was full of sand, obviously, and there were two clean toilets and four showers for women in the nearest shower block. It was clean but the floor was flooded from the showers and full of sand. So you didn't wear trousers to go to the loo or shower, you only wore flip flops and then you walked back to your tent through the sandy mud with wet feet. I'm sure there is a way of keeping clean but I didn't discover it.

The challets with grassy gardens, which we couldn't afford were just beyond the fence, in sight, so near and yet so far.

We pitched our four tents in a circle and laid a big ground sheet in the pow wow area in the middle. I say pitched but it's not like the tents I remember. The tents were a one piece dome with sewn in ground sheet and channels where you thread the frame through and just place the whole structure on the ground. No pegs and mallet, no guy ropes, no fly sheet to keep the rain off. Totally alien to me.

We spent a fantastic afternoon on the beach it has to be said. The water was just rolling enough to ride the swells and thrill the children. The sand was perfect for building forts and castles with moats and canals. And as the sun set we trudged back up to the campsite to shower and make dinner.

Our leader had brought spaghetti with tomato sauce and chicken breasts to cook. Unfortunately the gas cylinder didn't fit the gas ring so the campers nextflap put our chicken on their barbecue. Meanwhile we gave the children pitta and cheese as they were starving and couldn't wait. I cut up Israeli salad (toms/cucs/peppers), and we had tins of corn to go with it. We forgot about the spaghetti. Dinner was more cobbled together than planned but we all kept saying that this year was a trial run for next year, etc... etc...

The kids had an amazing time commandeering the torches and roaming the campsite looking for treasure. We sat and talked, no reading as the torches were off on an adventure. And then, with one last longing look towards the challets, eventually, to bed.

DD and I started out in the tent. It was like an oven in there so we moved our foam thingies outside onto the communal groundsheet, as did two of the other families. I'm so pleased I bought a whole tent to put our bag in - NOT. I would say I slept possibly for half an hour throughout the night but in three 10-minute sessions. I discovered that my days of sleeping on the floor are over. Next year I'm investing in a blow up mattress.

No lights on in the challets I noticed. Even though they had electricity they were all obviously sound and comfortably asleep in their proper beds. Sigh

We were up at 5.30 in the morning. One of our party begged some hot water for coffee off some other campers at about 7am, after 90 minutes of us sitting like de-caffinated zombies. The kids were happy with chocolate spread in pitta and off we went to the beach. A fun morning on the beach, I admit it.

And then home, stopping for lunch in Zichron Ya'akov on the way. It's taken me two weeks to get over the trauma of it all in order to write about it but I know we'll be camping again next year so why fight it?

*Thank you Sarit Doron for the photos.