Sunday 23 April 2023

In spite of my complete lack of exercise and a diet consisting of chocolate and Ben and Jerry’s, I have been lucky to have always been in good health. On the (very) rare occasion that I need to leave my beige sofa, I enlist the help of Tidy Husband to heave-ho and hoist me up, and I am adamant that none of us need scales in the house, let alone mirrors.

However, I recently joined a new company, and they very kindly offered to pay for me to attend an all day health check. I wasn’t sure if this was because I was the oldest employee they had ever had or they had calculated that my food consumption in the office was higher than my colleagues when spying on me through some secret cameras, but as the day at the clinic included free breakfast and lunch, I decided to go.

I had no idea what to expect but was excited at the prospect of detailed, informative conversations about my aches and pains and why my teeth weren’t as white as I wanted them to be. I was called into the first examination room where a Russian nurse spoke to me in garbled Hebrew and, without warning, sprayed some sort of liquid in my eyes. She handed me a tissue and I stumbled back out into the (now very blurry) waiting area, knocking over a rather expensive looking plant on the way.

Clearly in need of assistance, I was approached by a young nurse who began to explain something about breakages not being included in the cost of the day and could she have the name of my boss. At least I think that’s what she said, because even after 8 years of living here in Israel, people still insist on talking to me in Hebrew, which I don’t speak.

I began to protest that I had been accosted and had some liquid sprayed in my eyes and I was only here for the free breakfast. She could see I was obviously very frail and in need of sustenance and I thought she would point me in the direction of the canteen. However, I deciphered through her use of hand signals that I was expected to have some blood tests first before I could partake in the buffet so I felt my way to another small room to have a variety of needles inserted in my veins.

So far, this was not the relaxing spa day I have envisaged it to be. Where was the sauna and steam room?

Once bloods were taken I was allowed to eat.  This was a place where they make money by telling you how sick you are, but weirdly they only had a selection of healthy foods. (missed out on an opportunity there). There were no pastries or pancakes. It certainly wasn’t an Israeli hotel buffet spread. Highly disappointed and only after an hour there, I decided to return for more tests.

Next, I had to be weighed. As I have no clue what I weigh, the revelation that I am a huge number of kilos in weight came as a surprise. Even though I am aware that I am somewhat overweight, I identify as a skinny, petite girl and ask others to see me that way too.

The next station was a stress test to check my heart. This involved some sort of movement on a treadmill wearing a ridiculous amount of monitors and wires. When asked my weight I declared proudly that I was ‘taysha’ kilos. The nurse appeared confused and gestured that I was a little on the large side to be ‘taysha’. At that point, I realised I had got my Hebrew numbers mucked up and had told her I was the weight of a small dog. I confessed my real weight (a good few kilos more than ‘taysha’) and we laughed all the way to the heart attack unit.

The final stop was the dermatologist. I am used to this test as you can play dot to dot on my body connecting all the moles I have and there are usually no new ones. So I was surprised when the doctor questioned some dark shapes on my butt cheeks.

It turned out they were the remains of my HRT patches.

I left, got on a plane and am now living a new life in New Zealand.



Thursday 4 August 2022


So Covid was fun. I honestly thought I was ‘the special one’. Having survived the past two years without so much as a sniffle, I assumed I had acquired some superpowered immune resistant genes rendering me infallible.

The reason I had escaped thus far was because I hadn’t left my house. Lockdown was a dream come true. I had seen a Tik Tok video explaining that ice cream warded off Covid germs, so I ensured I had three tubs of Ben and Jerrys surrounding me at all times, together with one on my lap. As it’s hot here in Israel, I did encounter a melting problem, but this just meant I had to increase my speed eating skills. With time, I was able to slurp three flavours simultaneously without any dripping on the beige sofa. This was not easy, but practice made perfect.

But then - I had to leave my house. My nephew was having his barmitzvah. This was selfish behaviour as he lives in England. Not only did I have to get up off the sofa, I had to go to an airport to get on a plane. I had tried insisting the simcha take place here in Israel, but he declined. Something to do with his Mum and Dad had said no, apparently it was their decision as they were paying for it. Also, he had some grandparents or something in the UK and they wanted to attend. Like I said, people are selfish.

Tidy Husband and Middle Son were climbing a mountain somewhere - apparently this is their job now. So, I was left with only two offspring in tow. Allegedly, Covid is ‘over’, and gone are the days of empty airports and empty planes. Travelling has become trickier. There are people that like leaving their house to experience other cultures, sights and smells and relish the opportunity to fight crowds of people and sit squashed in a confined space for hours.

I am not one of those people. I relish the culture, sights and smells of my own house.

Eldest daughter believes herself to be an experienced voyager, (I think she went to Spain once), and went marching off in the wrong direction bypassing security completely and then becoming outraged when she was restrained by airport staff. Thankfully, she was allowed to remain in the airport despite her insistence that she was a ‘very important vlogger who could ruin a career’.

Youngest son is the least experienced in airport know-how but obviously still knows more than his stupid middle-aged Mother who knows ‘nothing’ as she hasn’t played as many video games as he has. He knew a better method of getting through security that he had seen in a virtual reality world and disappeared in another direction. So, it took a while until we were all gathered in the same place and being asked by security if we had any knives of bombs in our luggage or if some stranger had given us a hand grenade which we may have mistaken for a chocolate easter egg, (easily done, I do tend to mistake most things for chocolate).

Due to the panicked Facebook posts on the ‘Brits Living in Israel’ group and high alerts of long queues and full-on doom and disaster, I had decided to arrive at the airport 62 hours early for the flight. As it only took 17 and a quarter hours to get through to departures, (apparently, we were lucky as it was a quiet day), we were left with a mere 16 hours, (or something, maths is not my strong point), to wait in the terminal with 4,000 other Israelis.

Now, Israelis have their good points. They’re excellent at making falafel and have some sort of inspirational global reputation as hi tech entrepreneurs who have single handedly changed the world as we know it. But they’re quite loud and up for a fight, which is not pleasant to experience in a restricted space.

Once through the eternity of airport administration we arrived at the terminal to await boarding. My objective was to find a seated spot before the 70 billion other Israelis who had also arrived early.

I don’t like to stand as I find it hinders my eating capabilities. Seats were in short supply. The battle began.

Youngest son is a large lad, so I forcefully propelled him into position across three chairs. Eldest daughter is a slip of a thing, so spreading her out wouldn’t help. I instructed her to shout ‘GET BACK NOW’ at anyone coming too close to our area. As I am on the hefty side, I had no problem spreading myself across a couple of chairs. I am a champion lounger having had plenty of practice in remaining in one position on the sofa during lockdown. I couldn’t wait to tell Tidy Husband that he was actually wrong in saying that staying in one position on a sofa all day was ‘an absolute disgrace’ and it was, in fact, a very handy life skill.

There was a minor security incident after eldest daughter checked the departures board to discover our flight was delayed. She interpreted the slight delay to mean that the world was ending, and Armageddon was upon us. This led to a small (ish) scuffle with security again as she attempted to convey her disappointment to a flight attendant that she ‘didn’t do delays’ whilst threatening to ‘plaster her face all over Snapchat’.

Once things had calmed down, we needed to defend our position. This would have been fine if one of us didn’t have a weak bladder. At this point I deeply regretted my decision not to potty train my kids when they were younger as it was ‘too much effort getting off the sofa’. Eldest daughter certainly would have benefitted from knowing how to hold in a wee. So, her seat became vacant. I quickly filled it up with the bags of McDonalds goodies I had purchased in case EasyJet ran out of bagels on the plane, whilst I remained on high alert.

The peace didn’t last long before I was accosted by a woman gesticulating in my face and speaking in a foreign tongue. A barrage of unfamiliar words (I found out later it was Hebrew) were coming out her mouth whilst her hands were all over my bags of McDonalds. It appears she was telling me I had a bloody cheek filling up a seat with food products whilst her little Moshe had nowhere to sit.

She plonked herself down in MY seat, squashing my food products under her big bum whilst motioning for three other members of her family to come and squash some food products too.

This was too much. No one squashes my food products.

Declaring loudly ‘You. Are. Having. A. Laugh’ I stood up and in my best Hebrew shouted ‘LO, LO MAMASH LO’, whilst wrestling McDonalds bags from under her bum and pushing her off the seat.

She got the message. But I think in all the confusion she may have given me COVID.



Saturday 21 November 2020


I’m so sorry. I’ve let you down. After years of resisting the pull of Tidy Husband, who (as you may recall), is a fitness guru … I have started moving my body.

Moving my body, as in the form of (sssssshhhhhh whisper it) - ‘exercise’.

I know. It’s a shock. Make yourselves a cup of sweet tea and I’ll explain.

Full on movement was not the first step. I had NO intention of entering the world of (whisper it again) …’exercise’. It was always something ‘other people’ did. I’d listen to them smugly tell me - ‘You will LOVE it Jo, honestly’; and ‘OMG JO, you will feel SOOOOO much better’, and think ‘Ye. Right. I WON’T love it. If you want to jump around getting sweaty, off you go love, I’d rather sit on the beige sofa with my best mates, Ben & Jerry’.

But we had a puppy. And despite hearty assurances from my kids that they would walk her every day – ‘I promise Mum. You won’t have to leave your sofa, honest’ – the daily walks WERE NOT HAPPENING.

I had been told by those in the know that dogs need (sssshhhhh) exercise. It was one of the reasons we had resisted getting a fluffy friend for so long. There was NO WAY I was changing out of my pyjamas and leaving the house. Especially now my dream situation – Lockdown – had finally arrived. NO WAY.

As Lockdown kids never left their rooms, fluffy friend began to sleep in our room at night. Tidy Husband and I spoke to her in a doting way we had never done with our kids. I had always ignored my kids cries of ‘Mum, can we have some supper tonight, just this once, please’ or ‘Mum, I think my leg’s broken.’ However, as soon as I heard the slightest whimper from fluffy friend, I paused Netflix and dropped everything to tend to her.

We trained her to do her ‘business’ OUTSIDE the house, (which I now regret), so first thing in the morning she had to be taken out. Tidy Husband got angry if he had to clean up any mess.

Over time, furry friend learnt that loud and high pitched (but irresistible) whines, together with licking my face and scratching my arms was a Great Way to wake me up every morning.

It began with going for a ‘walk’. This involved her doing the ‘business' and me returning home ASAP. But over time, I noticed that fluffy friend was rather enjoying the time we spent together. This was a new feeling for me. My kids had never enjoyed spending time with me. When they were younger, they didn’t appear to enjoy watching Greys Anatomy for hours at a time and always left to do some ‘playing with toys.’ So, when I realized I was bringing joy to another creature’s life, well, I was rather taken in.

The walks were made more even bearable by the following;

1.      I wasn’t obliged to speak to anyone, fluffy friend hasn’t got a great vocabulary and isn’t much of a talker.

2.      The walks were often interrupted by the ‘business’ part providing the opportunity for me to stand and stare into space for a while and regain my strength.

3.      I could drive to the dog park, let her chase other fluffy things, and return home ‘exhausted’ and unable to do any cooking for the week.

One day, I arrived home at the same time that Tidy Husband was making his way downstairsto the basement. I was between Netflix binges, so decided to follow him to see what he does down there all day.

It turns out he takes Spinning Classes. I still have no idea what came over me, but I decided to sit on a bike.

My legs began to move in time to the music and I looked up to see some nice-looking bloke smiling at the people online. The nice-looking bloke turned out to be Tidy Husband and I quite liked the look of him on the spinning bike. He was sort of fun too, not like he was in the upstairs part of the house, so I decided to stay.

After a few minutes of jiggling about to the beat I began to feel an uncomfortable, painful sensation ‘down below’ in my nether regions. I wasn’t up for that, so got off the bike and returned to my beige sofa.

Little by little, inspired by the funky beat, the nice view of this new Smiley Tidy Husband and the fact that this ‘exercise’ incorporated a lot of sitting down, I stayed on the bike for longer until I reached the ten-minute mark. Not bad for a 60-minute session.

I fought hard against going back, the feeling ‘down below’ was enough to stop me. But assured by Smiley Tidy Husband that ‘that’ feeling would pass and given the promise of a tub or two of Ben & Jerry’s at the end of the next session, I persevered.

Once I reached the 30-minute mark I thought I had actually died. I could no longer move my legs and remained paralyzed in position on the bike until I realized I could slide off sideways into a lying position on the floor. I remained there for the rest of the day.

For me to continue with this spinning lark there were several rules that needed to be adhered to;

My bike was to be readied for me before arrival. I required 3 padded seat covers in order to prevent ‘that’ feeling coming back again. Towels were to be laid across the handle-bars and on the floor to catch all the sweat. A basket of Cadburys Dairy Milk was to be stationed directly in my line of sight for motivational purposes.

I was not required to do any standing exercises or anything that required bum leaving saddle. I was encouraged to sing along to the funky songs if I remained far, far away from the video mic. As I was positioned behind the camera, I was allowed to make sweary finger signs at Smiley Tidy Husband when he shouted phrases like ‘You can do better!’ or ‘Come on, faster!’ both of which pissed me off.

Most importantly, at the end of every session, I was to be picked up off the bike by Tidy Husband (who was no longer Smiley at this point), and carried straight up the stairs back to my position on the beige sofa, where a cup of tea and biscuits were to be waiting.

After all, there have to be some perks to sleeping with the instructor.


Saturday 18 April 2020

We're STILL in Lockdown


A few weeks seem to have passed since I last wrote. I have obviously been exceptionally busy. I have knitted a few blankets, taken up online tambourine lessons and am now learning sign language in Cantonese. Obviously, I don’t want to make anyone feel bad if you haven’t done any of those things, but, well, I can’t sit around doing nothing! Just SO not my style. I mean – how much Netflix can you watch?

And yet we still seem to be in Lockdown. So, I thought I’d break into my hectic Zoom schedule to bring things up to date. My main problem has been that chocolate and ice cream consumption has escalated so quickly that I can no longer fit into one of those tiny Zoom squares. Why do they make them so small?

I have also attended several Zoom events, including a beautiful baby naming ceremony. It was really lovely, but the food was disappointing. By the time I arrived, there were no smoked salmon bagels left.

So how are the Sugarpuff clan faring?

Eldest Daughter has been particularly scary during these challenging times. In previous blog posts, I referred to her as Teenage Daughter but since she is now in her twenties, this won’t work. I am too scared to call her anything that might trigger pretty much any response at all, so I think I will play it safe and call her Eldest Daughter.

Prior to Lockdown we were forcing encouraging her to move out and get her own flat. We just missed the boat timing wise, which means we are devastated thrilled to be experiencing this family time with her.

In order to cope we have devised some special Eldest Daughter rules.

1. Do not look her directly in the eye. At. Any. Time. Looking her in the eye is likely to be met with a look of disgust and a cry of ‘Why are you looking at me? LEAVE ME ALONE.’

2. Do not ask her if she wants a drink of any kind. The answer is likely to be ‘Why would you ask me that? Is there something wrong with you?’

3. Do not attempt to make any sort of conversation with her. She is not there for you to speak to. She speaks when required. You have been warned.

4. Do not offer any food unless it is kale, wakame seaweed or kombucha. This must be ordered from the most expensive health food shop in Tel Aviv and not the one two seconds round the corner or it ‘won’t taste the same.'

5. When you do Eldest Daughter’s laundry, try not to lose or shrink any items. If any items go missing or change shape or colour, (which happens a lot in this house), Armageddon will ensue. Be prepared to be informed through a loudspeaker that ‘BRANDY MELVILLE TOPS ARE IRREPLACEABLE.’

6. Suffer in silence whilst frantically searching other house members drawers and cupboards for 64 hours as there is ‘NO WAY’ any of the lost items are in her room. Listen to more calls from the wild including ‘Why do you even DO the washing?’ and ‘I can’t live without my Zara beach sarong,’ and then smile sweetly when informed that everything has been found – in her room.

Soldier Son is on base in the army and has been for a while. Obviously, I try to have daily contact. Not to find out how he is, but to establish how much of my UK confectionary Dairy Milk stash he has left. You see, I made a Big Mistake, in a moment of madness, and shared some with him pre-Lockdown for him to take back to his base. You have to understand, supplies were plentiful, and UK friends were on standby to bring out new supplies when needed. It was different times back then.
As a result, our conversations now revolve around which items he still has (photographic evidence is required), and telling him that is CATEGORICALLY NOT OK to share any of his chocolate with any of the lone soldiers that have come from overseas to risk their lives to protect Israel. Why should they have any? Bloody cheek.

It turns out that Youngest Son is causing me the most anxiety.

With Soldier Son out the house and Eldest Daughter and Tidy Husband only eating kimchi and fruit-based sausages, Youngest Son is my strongest rival for the foods I like to eat. Unfortunately, (for me), we have the same food preferences, Ben & Jerry’s, pizza, and Dairy Milk.

We don’t see each other at the moment - my waking hours are 8am to 8pm whilst he wakes up at 8pm and goes to bed at 5am. I am therefore reliant upon WhatsApp communications to negotiate food deals and ensure there is still ample supply of above food items left for me.

Negotiations begin with me telling him there is absolutely no Ben & Jerry's ice cream left in the freezer. This can backfire when he finds some and sends me a photo of the tub with a spoon next it. This sends me into a full blown panic attack at the prospect of a full day with no Ben & Jerry's. 

Negotiations continue with me asking him to 'calmly step away from the Ben & Jerry's.' This request is met with hostility as the photos get more and more threatening. Sometimes the tub has already been started. Sometimes, it is half empty! This sends my anxiety levels through the roof. I can't stand to see it being hurt.

In order to bring the negotiations to an end it usually comes down to a battle of wills. 

I offer him the vodka and tell him I will buy him 'whatever the hell he wants.'

This works every time. I win.