The extra special aunt spiker Friday five: 06-10-2017

My darling Aunt Spiker

The end of months of revising harder than anyone I’ve ever known is almost at an end and I am SO SO PROUD OF YOU. 

You have persisted through the highs and the lows, the moments where you’ve really struggled and those when it’s all come together and you’ve thought “I’ve got this”. 

Just know that when you step into that exam room (over two days! Urgh!) you have so many people rooting for you. We can’t wait to celebrate with you and see you get your weekends back! 

Thought you might like a little mood booster before next week so darling, this is for you:

Listening: Well, how could it be anything other than your Friday song?! Remember ‘Everything is Awesome!’ 

Drinking: Hard earned cocktails in Bali – very soon…

Watching: Anything with a Tom, we know you love a Tom. 

Loving: Us all! Loving you loving us right back! What a lotta love. Also: loving it almost being over. 

Mantra: How can you believe in a positive outcome with negative thoughts? Always believe in yourself no matter what. 

Jungle Boogie cocktails on me when it’s all over, 

Love you, love you, mean it, mean it! 

Hipflasks and snow plans forever, 

Aunt Sponge xxxx 


28 Days Later…

I have made a promise with myself to write a proper blog once a week this year and today is the deadline for this week but the ideas aren’t flowing.

I’ve been ill since before Christmas, been to the doctor twice and been told to just ride it out and now have definitely reached the end of my tether. I’ve done really well keeping a brave face on and riding out the storm but having spent the last two nights rolling round in the foetal position in between pacing up and down making noises like a hormonal Chewbacca, enough is enough.

I should have gone to the hospital yesterday morning but apart from being weepy I perked up after some food and was with also the Urbans (6/9 are doctors) so was in good hands. Last night I stayed in Salisbury and lo and behold 3:30 rolled around and I was in agony. Felt like I was giving birth without any painkillers type agony. It subsided after about two hours and I thankfully went back to sleep.

Except I can feel the pain ramping up again and am dreading another night of not knowing what to do with myself. There’s no loneliness quite like the one experienced when you’re in pain and yet I don’t want to go to A&E because I’m still hoping that my GP is right and the problem will stop of its own accord.

I struggle with being “the sickly friend” because it really feels like it is just one freakin’ thing after another with my body. I know I screwed my body into the ground by being so big but I just wish I could catch a break. It scares me that there is always something going wrong because it reminds me of Mum who always said she knew she wouldn’t make it to old bones, and is this my body’s way of telling me I’ll be headed the same way?

Gosh. Doom and indeed gloom.
Come on Mother Nature, back off a bit eh?!

Jeremy Fucking Clarkson, or How I Nearly Died.

The final day of 2013 brought with it the annual pilgrimage to spend the dying hours of the year with my Urban family and this year that meant a trip up the A34/M40 to stay at Chez Toj. I’d packed comfy pants because Toj (Tom and Odge) are the feeders of the family, whizzes in the kitchen and their house is a veritable smorgasbord of treats. However it wasn’t all plain sailing to get to Tommy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory as yours truly almost killed herself on the way up.

I stopped at Chieveley services for petrol and a pee and getting back out to the motorway, doing about 25 miles an hour, my little rollerskate (Yaris) hit a patch of water and well, it just went fucking nuts skidding all over the place and genuinely feeling like it was going to tip over. They say that your life flashes before your eyes before you die, but what came in to my head? Jeremy Clarkson. JEREMY FUCKING CLARKSON.

It’s not because I’ve spent my entire life harbouring a secret crush on the man with his high waisted stonewash Dad jeans but because my brain was desperately trying to remember what the fuck you’re supposed to do when you aquaplane and totally lose control of the ton of steel underneath your fingertips. Well Jezza, you failed me and so I did what I thought best which was shriek, take both hands off the wheel and both feet off the pedals and hope for the best.

Thankfully I made it through unscathed apart from being so shaken up I thought my heart was going to burst in my chest. I looped back round and parked up until the shaking had subsided and then carried on slowly to Birmingham to find Tom in the midst of a baking frenzy. Tempted as I was to kick back and watch the master at work, I was roped in to help with making peanut butter cups and homemade doughnuts.

Om nom nom...
Peanut butter cups, bagels, lemon drizzle cake, jam doughnuts and Delia’s coconut and lime cake.

As you can see there was quite a feast, including a Delia Smith coconut and lime cake – Delia is henceforth to be known as Fucking Delia because try as we might we couldn’t get the icing to be the right consistency even though we followed the recipe TO THE LETTER. Ours was better anyway so come on Delia, let’s be havin’ YOU!

We were joined by Crag and Lou and their very very adorable new bundle of joy Oliver who we cooed over, cuddled and imparted words of wisdom to such as ‘Toj are huge feeders’, ‘Aunty Jo smells like horses’ and ‘Aunty Ally likes snogging inappropriately younger men’. We were reduced in number with six of the Urbs sadly unable to make it and who were much missed but we hunkered down with bubbles to eat our bodyweight in food and generally have a jolly old time. Gazza Bazza (who ever thought HE’D be the fit one from Take That?!) was on the telly on mute so we wouldn’t get distracted and miss the countdown and at twenty past eleven Oj was dispatched to get a boardgame to keep her awake to the midnight bongs!

We ended up playing Taboo and I managed to round off 2013 by winning the coveted title of ‘Dick of the Day’ by genuinely thinking that it was decreed in the bible that shops less than 280sq feet in size weren’t bound by Sunday trading rules. Yes, I am a total penis at times. Midnight came and went in a haze of bubbles, fireworks and some ropey ‘la la la ing’ when we realised none of us are quite sure of the words to Auld Lang Syne. We made it through to a respectable half past one by bandying around a variety of resolutions before toddling off to bed with promises of same time next year.

I woke up on the first morning of the new year with a marginally baggy head and a big smile on my face which turned into outright giggles when I saw two draft messages in my phone which set off a couple of memories from the night before:

“You’re going back to being Pope you fuckwit”, the closing line of our Urban family impromptu singsong of the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ theme and my personal favourite, “Hakuna Matata Astoria Tenacious D” which is Crag’s inimitable version of the spell from ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’! All in all, urban family weirdness very much included, it was a total smasher of a night, and a pretty damn good year all round.

Happy New Year!



2013: Here’s lookin’ at you kid…

2013 started with a bang… Or a furry moustache, my Urban family and a hangover!

NYE 2012/2013I celebrated a Happy Un-birthday by having a Bath Day with the Urbans and Dan the Builder

Happy Bath DayThe Urbs took ourselves off to Centre Parcs for our first holiday together, cue lots of silliness and trying to make Thomas throw up in a loop de loop

Bouncing BettsyChris & Leanne got hitched in a weekend festival wedding of epic proportions, fireworks, Sailor Jerry’s, glowsticks, hangovers, driving a Mum truck to the frozen North, and most importantly a whole lot of love (and raving, late night, drunken raving)


Before it went downhill...Raving.Loulabella turned 30 so we hired a beach hut and frolicked in the sand like adults, drinking bubbly as we went… Well all except Lou who told us she was pregnant!

Take that!I hung out with these two jokers quite a bit:

JokersTried to learn how to use my camera on a lovely day out at Hyde Hall with Hannah, the niblings and her Mum and brother.

9My scrumptious niece had a church blessing, and then trampled over her picnic in her quest for goodies whilst somehow managing to not get her dress dirty!

BottomI caught up with very dear friend at a performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream at Arundel Castle

Arundel CastleI met with these gorgeous girls to drink bubbles at the Serpentine in the sunshine, all except Leanne who told us she was pregnant! 13

14Then we went and made Judy’s dreams come true by being drunk at Vogue (well, drunk yet impeccably behaved outside Vogue – totally still counts)

15The beautiful Annebelle got hitched to her handsome man Seth and more fool them, they asked me to conduct part of the shindig… Cue lots and lots of happy tears and a beautiful new husband and wife!

17Nicko, Hannah and I took silly pictures and wrote lots of in joke messages in the guest book before I had to scoot like Cinderella

16To get on a plane to go to Miami for work (tough life…) I managed to avoid spending the whole time singing Will Smith’s ditty and had a jolly old time.

1918I did the unthinkable (unthinkable at the start of the year anyway!) and ran the Great South Run along with my gorgeous sister in law Karen, and wonderful colleague Aaron (rhyming names a coincidence!)

20I fell down a rabbit hole for my work party and entered Wonderland for the night, until the next morning when I woke up with a thumping head and black feet from walking home with no shoes on.

21I spent Christmas with the niblings in Dorset, visited my lovely friend Charlotte to coo in person over her engagement ring, drove from Southampton to Hemel Hempstead on a whim to make hot chocolate and cookies and am gearing up to go to Birmingham tomorrow night to ring in the New Year in the company of my besties, the Urban Family.

It’s been a whirlwind of a year and now I’m almost at the end of it with a massive smile on my face thinking about how much fun its been. My resolution for next year is to keep on truckin’, in fact I might even get it on a trucker cap, y’know really hammer the point home. Things have really been going my way this year, particularly in the latter half and so for 2014 what I’d really like to do is maintain the status quo. I’ve said hello, I’ve said goodbye, and for the first time in a long time I feel like I’ve come out on top. In the words of Charlie Sheen…


Totes Amuse Bouche*

A week on call followed by a weekend away with the Urban Family followed by yet more time on call followed by another weekend away for Easter = not blogging for ages and feeling very bad indeed.

08:01, Friday 22nd March. A sense of blessed relief as I switched off my work phone and made sure to leave it behind as I hitched up my wagon and headed for Centre Parcs for a long weekend with the gang. And what a weekender it was.

  • I had a pelvic examination by a stranger in the rapids as we got tangled together in an undercurrent and ended up getting swept round and round in circles unable to separate ourselves whilst giggling so hard. 
  • We learnt that an unnamed (female, Welsh) Urban thinks that Elton John sings about ‘Betty and the Jets’ and that the lyrics to ‘White Christmas’ are “Mayonnaise, Mayonnaise, Mayonnaise be merry and bright” (there are no words)
  • Chappers compared himself to Jesus and was rebuffed as we pointed out that Jesus could walk on water whereas Chaps can’t even float.
  • We argued playing the Logo game (AGAIN)
  • Some of the team went and competed in the ‘Urban Family Hunger Games’ by doing field archery, with only one able to come back the victor. Frankie managed to steal the win for Team Baby Chalet, but failed to come home with anyone’s bloodied head on a spike.
  • Cornflake and Chopper Boy got outclassed in their Man Test by a little girl who managed to spend longer in the freezing cold plunge pool than them combined. They did get a few extra points for some rather creative swearing, Chopper Boy went for ‘Mother Truckers’ whereas Cornflake knocked it out of the park by screeching ‘Phillip Schofield that’s cold!’ as he hit the water.
  • Loulabella decreed that my headstone will say ‘Long Tall Ally, right sock first, killed by own duvet’.
  • Totes became the word of the weekend, much to the annoyance of Frankie. Over our final meal when he jokingly said ‘the next person who says totes is getting a punch in the face’, I’m afraid three of us couldn’t resist the urge to drop the T-Bomb in his face. Such children.
  • Chappers ate a double double burger and got span round in a big washing machine without being sick whilst Mg unleashed her inner giggling child dashing about in the adventure playground.
  • We discovered that I am even more uncoordinated whilst being flung down the rapids. I elbowed Loulabella in the boob, straddled Cornflake over half the course and in a startling display of talent managed to force Chopper Boy to head butt me in the VAGINA by slamming into him at speed whilst he was trying to pull up his trunks.
  • We ate a LOT of baked goods. Two birthday cakes, home-made millionaire’s shortbread, cornflake cakes and rocky road. The latter seeming appropriate to eat when the babies woke up, i.e. bloody early in the morning.
  • We also drank a lot of wine and beer and did a lot of laughing and it was a totally wonderful weekend, even if I did go home battered, bruised, scratched and in dire need of a holiday to recover!
  • I learnt my favourite new phrase (courtesy of Chopper Boy) which I need to weave in to conversation


*No, I don’t know what it means either, but it was amusing to take ‘totes’ to the next level of annoyance.

Alice in Wonderland’s 30ish Bathday

Waking up with a head that’s a few sizes too small and realising you need to ferry yourself to Salisbury to catch a morning train to Bath is quite a painful experience. Realising your hangover is demanding a smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich whilst your rational head is demanding you don’t have a smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich so you don’t end up yakking into a bin on the 10:52 to Bath Spa is also quite an experience. Arriving at Cornflake and Lou’s house, they’d turned it into a birthday grotto with banners, balloons, a beautiful orchid (which I’m under strict instructions to y’know, actually keep alive), a bottle of wine with the label ‘Drink Me’ and a smattering of ‘Eat Me’ birthday cupcakes sprinkled throughout the downstairs.

Alice cupcakes made by the Toj, vanilla deliciousness!
Alice cupcakes made by the Toj, vanilla deliciousness!

Draping Hawaiian lei round my shoulder and giving me a positively restrained in size birthday girl badge we rounded up the gang and headed for the station, my Alice in Wonderland 30ish Bathday had officially begun!

Loulou and I, Salisbury station Pumpkin Cafe
Loulou and I, Salisbury station Pumpkin Cafe

Baby F’s first trip on the train was a great success with Aunty Loulou using her super special bloodhound like seat sniffing out powers to bag us a table, space for the buggy and enough seats for everyone and we whiled away the time chatting and looking through my birthday present from the gang, a book called ‘1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die’. We flicked through and between us managed to total about twenty five that we’d ticked off, most we’d never even heard of. Then we played a game of ‘name a Pulitzer prize winning book’ with mixed success and before long we were pulling in to Bath Spa. We had a wander round the city, down by the canal and up the The Circus (via Gay Street which made me giggle because although I’m thirty one now, I’m still a fecking CHILD) before wandering back down through some tat shops as the boys call them (chic boutiques selling beautiful objet d’art and tchotchkes for the home) and ended up at Côte Brasserie in Milsom Place for a spot of lunch.

4.5 members of the Urbans outside Bath Cathedral
4.5 members of the Urbans outside Bath Cathedral

My friend Big D came to join us and ran the gauntlet of experiencing the Urban Family (reduced strength as a few members were absent). He later decreed them to be crazy which was highly amusing as they had actually been on their very best behaviour. By this stage my hangover was abating and so it seemed like the perfect idea to have a *cough* glass of wine. I ticked off Big D for saying he wanted apple tart for dessert rather than attempting the French pronounciation so when the waitress came round I made a stab at pronouncing ‘Tarte au fine pommes’ to which the waitress shot back ‘the apple tart?!’ which made us all laugh. Of course I ended up having two glasses of rosé and then when dessert was brought round I was presented with a glass of champagne with a flourish as the waitress was going to put a candle in my dessert, but I was the only person who didn’t order one.

Big D and some birthday bubbles...
Big D and some birthday bubbles…

After lunch we had a meander through the mean streets of Bath, stopping for the almost obligatory photo outside a shop called ‘The Knob Connection’, mooched through a few more tat shops, stopped at a fudge shop and went and played in a toy shop where the Urbs decided it would be hilarious to add to my outfit with a pair of comedy sunglasses which I was made to not only don but also style out for the rest of the day.

Stylish, non?
Stylish, non?

We made our way back to the station and penguin huddled for warmth whilst waiting for the train, with Loulou’s superior seat spotting skills coming in to play yet again for the journey home. Back at the ranch, Frankie arrived fresh from watching Wales triumph over Italy and then there was another tap tap at the door, which turned out to be Oj who had driven over from Cardiff to surprise me!

Oj drove all the way from the 'diff to surprise me!
Oj drove all the way from the ‘diff to surprise me!

The surprises kept on coming with a birthday cake (and the fire brigade on standby given the number of candles now on there) and then the Urbs knocked it clear out of the park by giving me the most incredible Michael Kors wristwatch that I had been lusting after for the past few months. I’m such a lucky duck!!

Gobsmacked wasn't the word...
Gobsmacked wasn’t the word…

Cake, and wine were followed by curry, fizz and boardgames – the boys were YET AGAIN triumphant, this time at Disney Trivial Pursuit and I suspect it will be a long time before the ladies hear the end of that one… Bloody Ratatouille! Sunday brought dancing in our pyjamas to ‘Superman’ by Black Lace.


After that silliness a chilly walk on the Salisbury Town Path for lunch at the Old Mill followed, with yours truly almost ending up with concussion on several occasions due to the ridiculously low doorjambs. Oj and I couldn’t help but share a giggle about the pub offering ‘Spit Roast Sundays’ (SUCH children!) and after another delicious meal it was time to toddle home for more cake, a spot of rugby spectating and then some goodbyes as we bundled into our cars and headed back to reality with big grins and full tummies.

Spitroast Sunday *sniggers*
Spitroast Sunday *sniggers*
5.5 members of the family outside The Old Mill, Salisbury.
5.5 members of the family outside The Old Mill, Salisbury.

Act 4, Scene… Something

Time: 02:24 (approximately)
Location: Cornflake & Lou’s Living Room

Everyone had sloped off to bed after another successful murder mystery dinner party apart from Cornflake who was clearing away wine glasses and I who was sleeping on the sofa so was already in bed. We’d been talking all night about resolutions and I’d come up with a few that I thought would suffice but then Cornflake said “C’mere Ally” and pulled me into a hug,

“I’ve got something I want you to work on for me this coming year,” I started to imagine what he might need my assistance with, he a partner in a GP surgery, a dab hand in the kitchen and pretty good at DIY… He continued, “I want you to work on being happy with yourself, just the way you are.” I gulped.

“Al you’re not perfect, none of us are! But you are wonderful and it’s time you started to believe that. Promise me you’ll try and work on being happy with yourself?” I was choked up and dangerously close to sobbing on his shoulder but managed to reel it in before promising that yes, I would work on my cripplingly low self esteem.

So what are my 2013 resolutions?

1) I’d like to say raise the level of my self esteem but it’s been so low for so long I think a good place to start is: Get some self esteem!

2) Related to number one: Be less of a MUG!

3) I’ve moved an old desk, chair and stool from house to house since about 2006, promising with each move that this one will be the one where I strip the paint off, restore the wood and reupholster the stool and yet they’re still all Laura Ashley cream and blue sponge painted monstrosities. In 2013 I am going to: Restore my old furniture!

4) The Urban Family have approximately ninety five million photographs of me where I look like I’ve just poohed myself or am about to burst into tears. At one of the weddings this summer, a couple of them spent time with me trying to get me to relax in front of the camera in the hopes of getting a picture of me where my eyebrows aren’t knitted together in fear. Now if I’m in front of the camera then it’s all gravy but as soon as I cotton on to someone else pointing a camera in my face, the hairs on the back of my neck rise and my standard response is to pull a stoopid face. So: Learn to be comfortable in front of the camera lens!

5) I’ve got my annual company medical coming up in 55 sleeps and I’d like to have got some more weight off by then – at least a stone. You can check on my progress of my Tales from the Scales in the top right hand corner where there is now a handily placed weight ticker… no hiding now! Get a smaller bum!

6) The final one is a double whammy, to stop both caring and trying to guess what other people are thinking about me. It holds me back wondering and worrying what perfect strangers might think about the size of my arse or the fact I’m alone at the cinema and it holds me back through fear of sticking out. I’m bloody fed up with it so my final resolution: Stop giving such a shit!!

So there we have it, my path for 2013. What hurdles are you going to try and overcome in your life?