Expat-ish

Expat-ish
On the Beach

Monday, 31 October 2011

Happy anniversary- belatedly- to me. 1 year (and a bit) in CT.

Anniversaries and birthdays always lend themselves to a review of what has been and, perhaps, a view of what it is to come.

The anniversary of our arrival in Cape Town, has been and gone and I still have not written any kind of review. I think the reason for this is because I feel a (self-imposed) pressure to write something definitive, meaningful and almost final.

Well, I can't do that.

I wouldn't dare to be definitive (except perhaps after one glass of wine too many), any attempt to be meaningful would doubtless sound like terrible chick-lit and final just doesn't make sense .

But can I talk about why I came (or why I left) and how it's been.

Why did I leave? Frankly, a desire to recreate my childhood in Roodeport, Johannesburg in the the period from the late 70's to the early 80's. I had the best years there. Have I succeeded? Er..no. For obvious reasons. And some would say that not recreating an 80's version of Roodepoort in Cape Town in 2011 is a good thing.

But I do think that I have found the essence of  a South African childhood, which is what I was after. And what's that? Well, to me it's open spaces, lots of sun (although CPT is failing BIG STYLE on that the last 2 weeks), open and warm people, spontaneity, great food, world awareness and rapier-like wit. That's what I had and that's what I wanted to give my children. So far, so good.

Additionally, my husband and I wanted a better quality of life. In London we had a lovely home, he had a great job and he was very successful. We have lovely friends and he has family there (my brother has  been in Brussels for a number of years). But we had almost no time. His success was a burden- it was all or nothing. Everything seemed to me to be so very hard- getting around, getting parked, getting your kids into a decent school, going to the beach. It felt like such a mission to me. The government always seemed to be legislating about something that I now had to or couldn't do. Towards the end, I really felt as I couldn't breathe some days.

In Cape Town, we have a lovely home which is less then 5 minutes from school and 20 minutes from work (round Table Mountain and past the zebras, in the right season). He's successful and he's challenged but he's also allowed to be other things as well- for example a good father without feeling as if every moment with the children is a moment he has stolen from his work schedule.

We have had the privilege of meeting the most amazing people since we've arrived. We have amassed in a year as many, if not more, outstanding people that we call friends than I managed to in a lifetime before. Our weekends are filled with outings with friends and or last-minute suppers or braais. The children play, the adults cook, drink, talk, drink and laugh. It's just like Roodepoort in the 80's. In a good way.

That's not to say we don't miss our friends in the UK- I don't see friendships as capable of replacement: every friend has a certain place in your life which no other person can ever fully fill. Going back on a visit to the UK in July, I realised what excellent friends I had left there and it only takes an email or text message for me to start craving more of that person's company. My UK friends' missives often make me very sad. In a good way.

Has Cape Town disappointed in any way?

Apart from driving here which gives me a heart attack every few minutes in the car, there is nothing specific about Cape Town that has disappointed.  In fact, Cape Town has exceeded expectations in every way. Even down to security- many people were surprised that I would move my family to South Africa for better quality of life, given the horrific crime figures coming out of South Africa. Firstly, Cape Town is one of the safest places in South Africa. Secondly, yes, one does have to be vigilant- property crime does happen- and I am meticulous about the alarm but I live a normal life here. I walk happily and safely where I can (by which I mean, where there are pavements- parts of Cape Town can be very American in not having pavements. It's a very car based culture, largely, I suspect because of the sheer size of the place).

Has South Africa disappointed in any way?

Yes, the bureaucracy. Whilst entrepreneurship and business thrives, having lived here for a year, the thought of a visit to the Department of Home Affairs is enough to make me come over all queasy and lie down. The queues, the sheer randomness of when you will get served, what answer you may get on a given day from any given person makes it like participating in a a very stressful game-show, with ever-changing, uncharismatic hosts changing the rules of the game as they go and the final prize being something as prosaic as a peanut. They demand precision in the delivery of your documents, turning you away for such minor infractions that you feel they had to really try, yet the website is not updated for months at a time, thus providing misleading information. In fact, I'd better stop writing because the rage is building and growing..

It's the worst excesses of a police state administered by people with no vested interest in the outcome of proceedings except to spoil someone else's day.  It's revolting and in desperate need of an overhaul.

And the politics has disappointed. What South Africa and South Africans did in 1994 changing from apartheid to post-apartheid with such relative ease is nothing short of a miracle. Worldwide people braced themselves for an implosion, a blood bath but South Africans didn't let that happen. South Africa had a new constitution, the most enlightened in history. To see all that promise now sink into cronyism and a virtual absence of accountability, is to go beyond sadness and disappointment. I am not saying there is anywhere in the world a perfect government, that other governments are free of corruption or "got it right", but the way the politics is in South Africa at the moment seems to be to squandering the resources of a country so rich in potential. The politicians of today were given a  hard-fought legacy which they have either ignored or neglected. I must say I expected more, especially in terms of accountability and investment in education, but then this is a young democracy. We can but hope for the future.

There is so much more to say but funnily, I think Cape Town can be summarised for me right now by the recounting of a simple story. A few weeks ago, there was a power cut-citywide. No traffic lights (robots) were working, yet, somehow the city functioned as normal. At junctions people gave way, helped each other out, laughed and joked. Despite the adversity- everyone had somewhere to be, everyone just got on with it. And then the power came back on later and it was no big deal. And that's Cape Town: relaxed and positive.

Will I be here forever? Who knows, I'm a nomad by breeding. But I hope I'll be here for a while yet because I feel I can breathe again.

Monday, 24 October 2011

The north-south divide.

There is a very clear divide between the people in Cape Town.

No, no, no, it’s not what you’re thinking. It’s a north-south divide.

Having lived most of my adult life in the UK, I am completely au fait with north- south divides.

There has been much debate in the UK where north begins and where south stops, but I think it is generally accepted these days that "The North" begins just up from Watford and "The South" is just down from there.

What distinguishes the 2? Well a cup of tea in the North is not considered a cup of tea unless it is so strong that your spoon can stand unsupported in the middle of the cup. And it is always black tea, good old PG Tips. Those living in the South are free to drink herbal teas without ridicule, even organic fruit tea is acceptable and available in most middle class homes. In the North, if you ask for chamomile tea, you will immediately be called a pansy, and reinforce all stereotypes about southerners. The Northerner will dine out (on steak and kidney pie and chips from Morrisons- a shop mercifully almost entirely absent from the South. Somehow economy turkey mince never took off in the Home Counties) for months afterwards on the story: "Can you when I asked her what she wanted to drink she said chamomile tea. That's right chamomile. A bloody weed tea she wanted".

And personally, I wouldn't dare to ask for a latte, espresso or cappuccino north of the M25. And definitely not a skinny one: "Thinks she's bloody continental, she does.". As for the stronger stuff, be sure to order bitter not lager. And heaven forbid, continental lager.

In Cape Town, the divide is between the northern suburbs and all the other suburbs including the southern suburbs (where I live).

For the rest of Cape Town, going to the northern suburbs is almost like a safari into the unknown. I have no idea what the dwellers of the northern suburbs think of coming south- I wouldn’t dare be seen talking to one, the way the southern surburbanites talk, I feel my family could become social pariahs if there was any cross-suburban fraternising.

My children were recently invited to a party that was held in the northern suburbs in a place called Bugz Play Park. They had a wonderful time and it is one of the places that is absolute heaven for kids- rides, jungle gyms, sand, playhouses, ice cream, cakes. It is, frankly, less heavenly for the parents  for the very same reason it is a pleasure for a child.

All the guests at the party were fellow southern suburb dwellers. The location of the party was a topic for discussion not because it was a longer drive (no, South Africans generally consider anything around 100km to be: "round the corner") but because we were in the northern suburbs.

What's makes the northern suburbs so different? Well, for starters, there are more Afrikaans speakers and, if rumours are to be believed, it is the world of the indoor braai and 2 colour or 2 tone safari shirts. Long trousers on men at any time of year are frowned upon.

Hardly earth-shattering differences, but still the rest of Cape Town seems to treat going to the northern suburbs like a safari. I’m surprised they don’t take a camera and guide book to compliment their trepidation and uncertainty.

The way people talk, I half expected a check-point on the way back down south, manned by very cosmopolitan, English-speaking South Africans:

Them: “Please pull over, madam. We have reason to believe you’ve in the northern suburbs”

Me: “Well, yes, but….”

Them: “We’re not interested in your excuses, we just need to ask you a few questions to make sure that what happens in the northern suburbs, stays in the northern suburbs. First: how long did you spend there?”

Me: “Er..Um…3 hours.”

Them: “Ok, alright, a relatively short time. We’ll just do the brief survey. Next question: did you have an indoor braai?”

Me: “No”

Them: “But do you like the idea of one?”

Me: “Um, well, I suppose on a cold day...”

Them: *worried look* “Would you consider having one in your home, madam?”

Me: “No”

Them: “Phew, well, great, close one there. Has your Afrikaans improved since you left home this morning?”

Me: “ Not at all, apart from hearing “Never Ending Story” in Afrikaans on loop on the children’s train sung by a tuneless child, no. In fact, I tuned it out. I considered it a trauma”

Them: “That’s what we like to hear. Next: have you done any shopping, specifically; has your husband bought any 2 tone or 2 colour safari shirts?”

Me: “No.”

Them: “Can we just check the boot? Often people buy them as “joke souvenir” but then end up wearing them anyway, say, in Camp’s Bay. They can be quite compelling once bought. And that just won’t do.”

*Look in the boot*

Them: “Great, madam, you’re free to go”

Me: “Can I ask why you stopped our car?”

Them: “We had a report that your husband was wearing shorts. And it is spring.”

Me: “Well, yes, but it is a warm day. And he’s English.”

Them: “He’s ENGLISH!! The shorts! Well, that also explains your cavalier and carefree attitude about visiting thing the northern suburbs. Have a good day.”

Monday, 17 October 2011

Helpful hints for Capetonian Road Users

I am generally a fan of the old adage : “When in Rome….”.

Except when it comes to driving in Cape Town, where I feel the locals could use a little help.

Below, I have a few tips and action points for pedestrians and drivers which, if implemented, I believe would mean that there would be fewer tourists and expats paralysed with fear, bewilderment and confusion at the wheel.

Drivers:


1.      Traffic lights and stop signs are not optional. Indulge them.
2.      Added to the above, some basic revision: Red means stop and green means go. For everyone.You're not special.
3.      Look at your steering wheel: either on the left or right of the steering wheel is something that looks like a stick. One of the functions is to indicate when you turn: indicators. Go crazy: use them. It might make you feel good to let people know in advance when you screech off the road. Oh, and try to indicate the way you are actually going to go.
4.      Taxi drivers: I am sure your car has more gears than first. Enrich your life and help me retain my hearing for longer- explore your gears.
5.      Taxi drivers again: doing a sudden stop in the middle of the road to talk to your taxi driver friend doesn't build up much goodwill with other road users (although I know this is hardly aspirational for you).

Drivers: On the motorway


1.      I get that undertaking is allowed, but 60 in the fast lane? Shift over.
2.      If you car was produced in the 70’s, was last serviced in the 80’s, is a variety colours welded together and carrying your entire family, your pets and furniture, chances are you should be reconsidering the wisdom of being on the motorway, never mind the fast lane.

Pedestrians
1.      If there is a pavement, use it.
2.      If you choose to ignore the above, try not to walk 5 abreast.
3.      If you choose to ignore both 1 and 2 above, at least move aside for traffic.
4.      If you've ignored 1,2 and 3, I am probably rabid with rage, but can you speed up? Please?
5.      Pedestrian crossing: not a road decoration, they have a use. Crossing the road 5m either side and waving your fists at me as I don’t stop at your self-styled, invisible crossing is a not a valid reaction.
6.      At peak time traffic, if my car is trying to push out of a busy junction, chances are, if you look me in the eye and then crawl across the road in front of me like a snail, it’s not gonna make me happy. Don’t look so surprised.
7.      Pedestrian lights- they’re there for you!
8.      If you see a car coming down a road, stay where you are. Don’t walk out. Or if you must, try a walk rather than perform a languorous creep. If you’re feeling chipper, try for a light jog. The time to cross (cf pedestrian crossing and pedestrian lights) is you know, that time when you were standing in the road (because you obviously would not have been on the pavement) and no cars were coming.


Pedestrians: On the Motorway (yes, this is a necessary category.)


1.      Pedestrian bridges: use them unless you’re a thrill seeker.
2.      Pedestrian bridges: If you’re crossing a motorway 10 metres away from the bridge- please stop me and tell me why? Is it that you’d rather cross in the relative cool of the shadow of the bridge and die less hot? Are bridges for sissies?
3.      If there is no bridge or using them is against your religion try using gaps in traffic and GETTING A BLOODY MOVE ON!!
4.      Crossing with goats, donkeys and other stupid animals not renown for speed and with no self-preservation instincts is not an award winning activity. Although I admire your determination.


A few simple rules and we’d all just get on so much better. Not to mention my blood pressure would be so much lower.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Bedtime: the final insult.


I have been a stay-at-home mum for four and a half years now, since my first daughter was born. Before she was born I did have a career.

Hmmm…well, ok, don’t get excited- no novels were published, no awards were won. By career, I mean that I held down a few jobs, broadly (*clearing throat*) in the same field.

I think I pretty much knew from the moment she was born that I wouldn’t go back to work. Firstly, I never really loved my job that much (ok....at all). Secondly, I didn’t see the point in busting my gut, spending time sweating on a commuter train to just about cover the cost of a disinterested individual smelling of old fags, filing her nails in some cesspit of a playgroup whilst “minding” my child. Professional nannies would have demanded more than I earned and would probably have demanded that I do their ironing and washing as well as providing only organic food for their lunch. And the schedule would have been strictly around their yoga class. So, yup, you got it, childcare in London is, er…, variable in quality and expensive.

Let me be clear, though (still can’t shake that Blair-ism of “being clear”). I did want to stay at home. But then, I’d always wanted to stay at home (rather than work) so now I had the perfect excuse. It would all have been ideal if not for that pesky baby, just crying, wanting food and interrupting my online surfing and soaps…

There are quite a few misconceptions about babies ( eg. that they sleep, amongst other things), pregnancy (for instance, that it is in any way enjoyable) and about stay-at-home mums and their lives.

Generally, I think women- as always- are their worst enemy. The only people to ever criticise a woman for a decision to either stay at home or go to work are other women. It’s like we’re in perpetual competition with one another. Same thing with weight issues. On the whole, the only people who care about your weight and notice it are other women. Most of us spend time trying to be skinny, yet men keep voting curvy women like Kelly Brook the “sexiest” on earth. There’s a message in there somewhere. I don't understand why we can't be more supportive of one another. But that's a whole other discussion.

One of the many things I have had thrown at me is: do I not find being at home with the kids boring? I can think of many words to describe being a stay-at-home mum but “boring” is not one of them. Rewarding, hilarious, heart-warming, heart-breaking, disappointing, thrilling, exhausting, infuriating, exhilarating..the list goes on.

 I used to be a lawyer working in the City of London and I don’t think anything that I do now could possibly rival for boredom the drafting of an exclusion clause in the small hours. City boys all puffed out, braying and strutting like the piece of paper in their hand will change the world, rather than simply save a merchant bank some money. Me? Wondering what brand of washing-up liquid smells the nicest. It was a very motivating time for me.

But I digress. One of the myths of parenthood (before you have kids) is that bedtime is a lovely time of the day. Huggies and Johnson’s adverts show alert, clean and happy mothers looking on as daddy comes in from work (in plenty of time) to read a story in a perfectly decorated room with fresh-faced toddler eager to listen. The way the advert has it, daddy leaves, the four year old turns the light off by itself and goes to bed.

Bedtime didn’t start well for us as a family. My older daughter’s” time” (when she acted as if possessed) when she was born was from 7pm to 10pm. This baptism of fire consisted of her screaming as if she was being branded or scalded incessantly- nothing would pacify her. The size of her open, screaming mouth was way out of proportion with her tiny head and it was impossible to imagine such a hideous and vile noise coming from such a small, previously sweet -looking creature.

We tried everything- feeding, dummy, water, nappy change, picking her up, putting her down, rocking her, standing still and arranging her at a variety of angles. Nothing. A frantic online search and chat with my mummy friends revealed we were all being tortured to varying degrees. So we descended on the shops and bought, between us, pretty much every single item marked “soothing”, “calming” and, crucially “reduces hours of crying”. A friend of mine bought everything until she finally found an electronic swing (although I am not sure whether the crying or the tinny songs combined with the crunching of the swing were worse). We bought a baby sling. Supposedly, it was based on African cultures where the baby is close to the mother…yadda, yadda…. it worked, I couldn’t have cared less about the reasoning. Frankly, as I said at the time, had someone told me that putting meerkat dung in her hair with my bare hands would stop her crying, I’d have been first in line at the zoo toilets.

That’s how bedtime started and, frankly, now with 4 and a half years of bed time experience and 2 kids, I am not sure if bed is any less of an ordeal.

Far from the blissful scene on TV and in magazines, all parents who are at home with kids know that suicide hour(s) begins at 5. Cinderella’s carriage turned into a pumpkin at midnight, children turn into hideous beasts at 5pm. You can set your watch by it in my house. A perfectly nice child one minute, the child from The Exorcist the next.You despair at the thought of the next 2 or so hours: you have to feed them a meal, bathe then and put them to bed.

 I’ll gloss over the rejection of the meal, the violent and loud demands for buffet-style TV-focussed dining, consisting of crisps, chocolate and ice cream, the conflict over what looks to the parent like the same plate and the same cutlery. They will demand a bath as they refuse to eat, then refuse one when it’s run. They will fight like the mafia over bath territory, refuse to be dried, reject the chosen pyjamas and leap like escaped prisoners into the lounge to watch a bedtime DVD.

And then bedtime: the final insult.

Children, or mine at least, are extraordinarily talented at dragging out bedtime. They have all the making of complete con artists at such an early age.

We read stories or do puzzles, you know, standard stuff and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. I am almost shaking with anticipation of a child-free period in my day.

They sense my beseeching, desperate manner, and they make a plan. I know they do.

And so it is, we say: “Right, bedtime girls.”. Firstly, my little one exhibits the signs of Hussain Bolt in the making. She’s a flash of yellow in her pyjamas, out the door, hooting with laughter. I leave my dignity in her bedroom and set about catching her, telling her it’s not funny. If I’m lucky, I’ll catch her. If I’m not she’ll do something like wedge herself between her cot and toybox, slip on a toy and head butt the cot- seriously. Cue: hysteria.

We wrestle her into a nappy, then into the cot. First, the excuses come thick and fast: I need a wee, I need to say goodnight to my sister. We’re seasoned veterans though, and we know a ruse when we see one. Undaunted, lights out, she barks demands from her room: “I need me cheetahs”. Silence. “I want my Lion King things”. Silence. “I don’t have so much milk”. Silence. “I need a blanket”. That’s on a good day.

Meanwhile, the older sister, we’re not quite so lucky with. She’s in a big bed and free to roam, which she duly does. We put her into bed only for her to get out again. Honestly, it’s like having a talkative boomerang. She has 2 tactics: either howling in a voice and tone that could clear a stadium: “I don’t want to go to bed…..”. On loop. It’s like a whinge combined with a wail which has the effect of rendering me incapable of coherent thought. At this point, as my evening ekes away from me, second by second, minute by minute I am filled with either a despair that makes me want to collapse on the floor and weep immediately or sends me into a furious rage.  Still, the mental patient howls and howls and howls.

If this tactic fails, as it invariably does, she yo-yos up the corridor on the pre-text of hunger or thirst, to tell me information about school that she had deliberately withheld earlier in the day, in the hope it would buy her more time now. She shows an interest in my food and activities which have been mysteriously absent for the whole day.

Between shoo-ing her back to bed and making crucial deliveries to her sister, I reckon I cover about 10km just walking up and down the hallway at night, carrying various weights and receptacles.

 I’m trying to see this as a positive- saving on gym fees? Earning my dinner?

Finally, worn down, still trying to swat off a 4 year old, I get to eat my cold dinner accompanied by a room temperature glass of  white wine far later than I had  dared to hope for. A few tepid  moments of peace before the bedlam of the morning

And even so, I'll take this over an exclusion clause any day,

Monday, 3 October 2011

Parenthood, Part II: The Worst Bath Ever

Recently, I experienced the worst bath ever. Think it's weird to grade your baths? Read on- there can be such a thing as a good bath or a bad bath. I think, possibly, it was the very unfortunate coming together of 2 facts:

1. Adults, especially women, like baths and tend to expect a "luxury treat".
2. Children love baths. Not as a treat. As their inalienable human right.

I'm not certain what it is about baths and adults. Is it pure marketing? All those beautiful people slipping into a bath in a candle-lit bathroom the size of most people's houses. Is it purely aspirational that we want to be like them, disappearing into a creamy, scented bath, surrounded by nothing but peace, a glass of champagne (and perhaps the entrance of George Clooney at some point later)?

For most people with kids, a bath for an adult is most likely to first involve removing all toys from the bath- but not all, as you lower yourself into the bath, it is obligatory for some surprisingly hard rubber beak to jam itself into your bottom, thus rather ruining the moment somewhat. Stepping backwards, you may trip over the potty or slip on a discarded Dora facecloth. And rather than candlelight, most of us have rather harsher lighting which is perhaps has a less flattering effect when looking in the mirror. It also has a tendency to  highlight that tiling you "really must have seen to".

Nonetheless, most adult women like baths. I have known one person who hated baths because she "didn't see the point of wallowing in her own filth" which I thought was absolutely hilarious, sort of agreed with but has not put me off. I have no idea whether it is because being in water replicates being in the womb, perhaps the lapping of the ocean or because I like the idea of it. Whatever the reason, the beauty industry makes a killing on bath stuff. Even though after a hot bath I resemble a woozy prune.

Kids just LOVE water, it's amazing. Bath time in our house is one of the highlights of the day. They love it. Fill a big bowl of water in the garden with water, they'll drop whatever they're doing and rush over to make "soup" or stomp in  it. Frankly, put some water in a saucer and they're stripping off and trying to bathe in it. Again, I'm not sure what it is- the womb again!? I suppose water has so many possibilities.

And so it is, that one evening, not so long ago, the two worlds met.

The girls had been particularly, um, challenging that day and I longed for a bath. We actually have a lovely, huge bath which has been the exclusive preserve of my children since we moved in. Damn it, I thought, I DESERVE a bath.

I thought I had timed it well. They were eating dinner, supervised by the poor father: "Please, eat...no, stop, eat, please...no, stop it..if you don't eat...". In theory, this meant I could escape, unnoticed without the usual Gestapo inquisition from my 4 year old as to my whereabouts. Seriously, the child just needs a uniform- otherwise, attitude and tone, it's all there.

I snuck off, turned the taps on and poured a liberal amount of bubble bath (without children's TV characters on it) into the bath. Let the bliss begin. As the water poured noisily, I didn't hear the steps until it was too late.

"Mum, is it bath time?" My four year old was walking through the door, shedding clothes across the floor as she went. Desperately, I looked for her father, hoping he'd rescue me and remove the child from what was intended to be an exclusively adult experience.

"Are you bathing with us, mum?" My heart sank.
" How did you know I was running a bath?"
"I heard the water, mum."

 Let me clarify briefly, that this is the child whom I suspected had a hearing problem- you know, failure to respond to questions and failure to carry out basic requests unless barked through a loudspeaker. Suspected a hearing problem, that is, until I realised that if I whispered the word chocolate from across a valley, she'd coming running up:" Where's the chocolate, mum?". I think they call it selective hearing.

"No," I said, firmly. "I am having a bath on my own.You're having one later." It was hard watching her face fall and seeing the disappointment linger, but I had to be cruel (to her) to be kind(to myself).

I had finally persuaded her to leave the room when my red-faced 2 year old came barrelling through the door, screaming : "I WANT A BATH..........WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH". (The ..... represented the silent scream. Come on parents, you know the one: they take a DEEP breath as if to scream and then silence. As a rule, the longer the silence, the louder the scream).

Now, you can reason with a 4 year old. Not so easy with a teething 2 year old who had refused her nap. My husband and I tried VERY hard to explain she would have a bath later and mummy wanted to have a bath on her own. Couldn't she just play with her sister for a while? At this point she was pretty much fuchsia and grasping the edge of the bath like she was possessed: "BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATH". Well, never one to give into a tantrum, we thought we'd let her just go until she calmed down.

So this is how it went:

I got into the bath and my husband removed the child to another room. Intent on ruining the experience, she'd stagger in under the weight of snot, tears and rage within seconds of being removed. It was like Groundhog day, no sooner was she removed, then she was back: "BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATH".

I have no idea why I sat there soaking for as long as I did, the screaming echoing off the tiled walls while I pretended to ignore her, reading the same 3 words of my book over again. Like I needed to prove a point: I WILL have a bath.

Conceding defeat, ears bleeding, I got out, let beetroot snot baby and her sister in and went to read my book in bed.

So there you have it. The worst. least relaxing, most disappointing bath ever.

 I'll stick to showers, for now.