Going Wild about WILD HOLLY (It’s all about the pies…)

Cold winter days like today make me just want to snuggle up under a doona binge-watching TV series and eating comfort food.

Ah, comfort food – the stuff that takes us back to our childhood – when treats from the bakery were vanilla slices and jam tarts with not a sniff of salted caramel in sight. As for school lunches, it was a special day when you were allowed to order a basic meat pie for lunch. With tomato sauce, of course.

So you imagine my delight when daughter Veronica took up an apprenticeship this year at Brighton’s oldest bakery – WILD HOLLY. Now this is a store where baking traditionalists will be in pure heaven. It’s been running since 1937 and while much has changed over the years, what comes out of the kitchen still has lashings of good old-fashioned quality and style.

Come with me and I’ll take you on a trip down the foodie world’s memory lane. But be warned – you’ll be drooling.

Owner and head baker Brett O’Callaghan says WILD HOLLY is not only Brighton’s oldest bakery, but the second oldest business in the suburb overall. His father, Brian, began as an apprentice baker with the first owner, Mr Perry, as a teenager. No one can remember Mr Perry’s first name – apparently he was never called anything else.

Wild Holly Bakery in Brighton

Wild Holly Bakery in Brighton

While the shop has moved from several locations over the years, it’s been in its current position at 389 Bay Street, Brighton, for the past forty years. Brett has been at the helm for about ten years and we chatted about how the store has maintained its success.

JEN: I guess a lot of Wild Holly’s appeal comes from the fact that you still carry a lot of traditional cakes people can’t find anywhere else?

BRETT: Yes, we do a lot of older-style cakes, biscuits and pies – traditional stuff that we make on the premises. We make everything here. There’s only one biscuit we out-source and we make just under 200 lines.

Owner Brett O'Callaghan

Owner Brett O’Callaghan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JEN: Wow – that’s a lot of cooking! How many staff do you have?

21st birthday Croquembouche cake

21st birthday Croquembouche cake

BRETT: We have eleven staff with four bakers out the back, including myself and the rest are shop staff. I trained under Dad. Left school and didn’t know what I wanted to do so Dad said, ‘You can’t be a bum and come and work for me.’ So I did and eventually fell in love with it. Did a four-year-apprenticeship then worked at several other places but came back and managed the shop for a couple of years with Dad but that caused a few hiccups because we had some different ideas about how to do things. Then I went and opened up my own bakery in Hampton for twelve years, then moved to Sydney for ten years then came back and bought this off my father and have been here ever since.

JEN: Was you Dad a hard taskmaster?

BRETT: Oh yes, he was. He had high standard and an ‘It’s my way or the highway’ work ethic. He was President of the Bakers Association of Australia and went overseas, representing Australia in various competitions. And he still offers advice.

JEN: What drew you back to the business?

BRETT: Basically dad was getting older and wanted to sell. I wanted to keep it going too so bought it from him and it’s been mine ever since.

JEN: Do you ever think about updating the style of cakes and pastries?

A delectable selection...

A delectable selection…

BRETT: I like to keep it as traditional as possible, using the recipes and the old-style way they’re made. We do make some new things – especially because of the cooking shows – and will give a few things a crack for a while but our clientele prefer the traditional stuff. The older-style biscuits are extremely popular. And the kids love the cupcakes and the older customers love the old-fashioned sponge cakes.

Popular Wild Holly biscuits

Popular Wild Holly biscuits

JEN: I love the cupcakes! Do you vary the designs?

BRETT: Yep, we do pigs and cats, frogs, faces. Easter we do little chickens and at Christmas we do reindeer and snowmen, then ghosts for Halloween, so there’s a bit of variety.

An assortment of cupcakes

An assortment of cupcakes

JEN: Christmas must be a busy time for you?

BRETT: Yes, we do Christmas puddings and cakes. We even started up Christmas cooking classes last year that were really popular, so we’ll start them up even earlier this year, around September or October.

JEN: How have your worked in such business for so many years with so much lovely food around you and not become fat?

Wild Holly is famous for its quality pies and sausage rolls

Wild Holly is famous for its quality pies and sausage rolls

BRETT: (laughs) Well I was very fat once, but decided I couldn’t go on like that so started physically training a lot – running and swimming and bike-riding – so that helped.

JEN: But do you still eat the cakes?

The cake Ronnie says she'll make for me one day!!

The cake Ronnie promises she’ll make for me one day!!

BRETT: Oh, yes, I have to. I need to try everything. I mean, if an apprentice puts too much salt in something – which doesn’t happen a lot – I need to know. So I need to check the flavours.

Of course Brett would NEVER be speaking about Veronica, because it seems likes she’s doing pretty well. Most importantly, she loves her work  – even though she starts before dawn. For us, it’s always a great day when she brings home extras to sample. Especially the meat pies! Now that’s something I can never say NO to.

Veronica and her pies

That’s my girl! Veronica and her pies

So there you have it. If you’re looking for some respite from all those high falutin cooking shows and fancy pants restaurants and are hankering for a taste of the best from yesteryear – now you know where to go. Yep, Wild Holly. Still serving it up as good as it was nearly eighty years ago. YUM!

FOR ENQUIRIES, PHONE WILD HOLLY ON 9596 4915 or visit the shop at 389 Bay Street, Brighton.

A Night To Remember – The Book Launch for MAKING HEADLINES

My eBook, Making Headlines

My eBook, Making Headlines

Today, it’s exactly three weeks since the Book Launch for my eBook MAKING HEADLINES and life has been so crazy since I let it loose on the world, that I’ve only just got around to Blogging about the actual night.

Prior to the launch, I wrote a post about my indecision as to whether I should hold a party or not. Post-party, I can say without a doubt – I am absolutely thrilled I went ahead with the night and will hold it dear as one of the most significant events in memory.

Yep – that’s a big statement, so let me explain. To me, it was a celebration of a project that I was passionate about. So much so, that despite having many major hurdles and doubts along the way, I saw it through to the end, allowing it to absorb a huge part of my life.  The ultimate goal was to have the book published, so I could share this story with the world and hopefully provide a tale that would engage, entertain and also offer a few insights into an unusual world. To have the book be given the tick of approval by a major well-respected publisher – Harper Collins – is, for me, a major achievement and something well worth celebrating. On the night, everyone who is an important part of my life and who was able to be there, turned up to celebrate with me and the room was filled with the most wonderful, supportive energy. So many people commented on what a happy evening it was – and that’s exactly how it felt for me too.

Hotel Brighton

Hotel Brighton

 

The venue, at HOTEL BRIGHTON, was perfect, with the upstairs function area providing a classy and intimate environment – as well as fabulous food and service. I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking to host a private function! There was also a screen so we could show my Book Trailer.

 

Big thanks to everyone for coming and helping to make it such a special occasion. Especially to my dear friends Brigitte Duclos and Mitch Catlin who took on the roles of MC and interviewer respectively, making it much a more entertaining night than if I’d been up there in front of everyone on my own!

Brigitte Duclos and Ann Peacock

Brigitte Duclos and Ann Peacock

Mitch Catlin and me in matching polka dots!

Mitch Catlin and me in matching polka dots!

As well, a huge debt of gratitude to our friends and Fletch’s NEIGHBOURS fellow cast members for coming along and helping garner media support  – and for hamming it up beautifully for the cameras. Here are some of the best shots from these wonderful people:

Jackie Woodburne, Stefan Dennis, Gail Easdale and Natalie Bassingthwaigthe

Jackie Woodburne, Stefan Dennis, Gail Easdale and Natalie Bassingthwaigthe

Stefan Dennis and Fletch

Stefan Dennis and Fletch

Fletch and Natalie Bassingthwaighte

Fletch and Natalie Bassingthwaighte

 

 

 

 

 

 

A shocking read! Gail Easdale, Jackie Woodburne and Natalie Bassingthwaighte

Gail Easdale, Jackie Woodburne and Natalie Bassingthwaighte

Stefan Dennis and Fletch

Stefan Dennis and Fletch

Here’s some of my speech from the night, along with some photos from the evening:

———————————————————————————————–

“I could never have come this far without the help of an incredible writing teacher and she’s here tonight. Thank you SO much to Olga Lorenzo from the RMIT Writing course. Olga taught the Creative Writing unit and I studied with her for three years. I could not have finished this book without her invaluable input and guidance.

Olga is also herself an acclaimed and brilliant writer and has her second novel THE LIGHT ON THE WATER coming out in a few weeks, (TODAY!) so congratulations Olga – I can’t wait to read it.

Olga Lorenzo and me

Olga Lorenzo and me

A big thank you as well to all my fellow students at RMIT who gave me valuable feedback during work-shopping sessions in class. In particular, to my friends that grew from that course to develop our own writers’ group – to Ann Bolch, Lisa Bigelow, Kaye Holder and Clare Strahan.

An extra special thank you to Ann Bolch who also worked as the first editor of the completed manuscript and did a superb job. If you ever need a good editor, Ann is exceptionally talented and very, very wise.

A congratulatory hug from Ann Bolch

A congratulatory hug from Ann Bolch

Lisa Bigelow and me

Lisa Bigelow and me

As well as the Writer’s Group, two of my friends and my sister took the time and effort to read early drafts. Thank you to Jill and Rick Molinsky for your encouragement and support.

Also a huge thank you to my dear, wicked, gorgeous, talented, close friend, Rochelle Nolan, who is sadly no longer with us. Rochy was always my biggest supporter, read an early draft of the book and pepped me up whenever I was feeling negative about my writing. I wish she could have been here to see the book in its final published form. I miss her every day.

To my dear friend and stepsister, Sian Prior, another superbly talented writer, who inspired me to take up the RMIT PWE course in the first place.

To my wonderful friend and author Ellie Nielsen, who also not only encouraged me to take up the RMIT course, but inspired me with her own book ‘Buying A Piece of Paris’ and then invited me to that very apartment where we shared what was ostensibly a writing sabbatical but also involved plenty of champagne in the work-shopping of ideas, lively conversation and literary debate.

Ellie Nielsen, Michelle Van Raay and me

Ellie Nielsen, Michelle Van Raay and me

To special friends who were always there with love and support – to Julie, Brigitte, Andy and Mitch – as well as all my friends who came on the night.

Anne Peacock, Libby Ross, Andy Webster and Julie Milnes

Anne Peacock, Libby Ross, Andy Webster and Julie Milnes

Steve and Ineke Carey with me in the middle!

Steve and Ineke Carey with me in the middle!

Fletch, Tania Gogos-Wilson, Jen and Ross Wilson

Fletch, Tania Gogos-Wilson, Jen and Ross Wilson

Margaret Zita and Maryanne Gianarelli

Margaret Zita and Maryanne Gianarelli

Nick Holland and Aki Kotzamichalis

Nick Holland and Aki Kotzamichalis

To my work colleagues at Smoothfm; to Jane Elliot for her help on the publicity front and to Mike Perso, for his amazing and enthusiastic on-air support.

Mike Perso and me

Mike Perso and me

Tanya Simpson, me and Jane Elliot

Tanya Simpson, me and Jane Elliot

Nova's Matt Smithson, Sophia Lazarides and Matt Thomson

Nova’s Matt Smithson, Sophia Lazarides and Matt Thomson

THE SMOOTH TEAM - Program Director Pete Clay, Lauren Saylor, Mike Perso, me and Ty Frost

THE SMOOTH TEAM – Program Director Pete Clay, Lauren Saylor, Mike Perso, me and Ty Frost

Ty Frost and me

Ty Frost and me

To my former news-reading partner, Mal Walden, for understanding that NO character in this book is based on him!

Mal Walden and me

Mal Walden and me

Present and past co-hosts!

Present and past on-air colleagues

To Harper Collins; for agreeing to publish this work; in particular, Mary Rennie for going above and beyond in managing to take this book to the next level from its original draft.

To my parents and step-parents; Mum and Ken, Dad and Margot, for their never-ending encouragement and support.

Me and Dad (John Hansen)

Me and Dad (John Hansen)

And lastly, to my immediate family – my husband, Alan, and two children, Veronica and Tom. I am very much indebted to you all for putting up with my absences while I was holed up in my office, writing. For understanding that when I disappeared into ‘Book World’ I should not be interrupted.

To Alan, for his patience and love throughout; to Tom for actually reading the first few chapters and proving to that me he will one day be the best writer in the family; and to Veronica for finding great words to replace the rude ones.

My beautiful children Veronica and Tom, with Tom's gorgeous girlfriend Carrington Hannah

My beautiful children Veronica and Tom, with Tom’s gorgeous girlfriend Carrington Hannah

————————————————————————————————-

So that was my night of nights! Again, thank you to all who came and to all who have since bought the book online. Thanks also for the continuing social media support. If you forgot to post something on social media on the night, please retweet this Blog to help get word out about the book. The more it sells, the more chance I have of it being printed as a hard-copy book!

My eBook, Making Headlines

My eBook, Making Headlines

 

For those wanting to buy a copy, MAKING HEADLINES is available on iBooks and Amazon AND Google books.

And for those interested in enquiring about a function at HOTEL BRIGHTON, phone the wonderful Grace Eddy, Functions Co-ordinator, on 9596 3244.

 

My first week at smoothfm

This past week has been a whirlwind, to say the least. So many new experiences, my head is spinning. A new job, new sleeping hours, a new gym and new work buddies. It’s all great and I’m loving it, but at times it can feel a little over-whelming.

My new role is news presenter on Mike Perso’s More Music Breakfast Show at smoothfm. I also enjoy a chat with Mike when we take a look at the traffic and talk about what’s happening in and around Melbourne.

My new newsroom at smoothfm

My new newsroom at smoothfm

This first week has brought back memories of when I first started reading the news at Channel Ten – the butterflies in the tummy, the adrenalin rush and the fear of making a mistake. You see, just as it is for anyone starting a new job, there’s a steep learning curve. Except that most of you don’t have to risk mucking up in front of thousands of people…

The week hasn’t been without its hiccups, but ninety-nine per cent of the time it’s been fantastic. I’ve loved working in news again and the immediacy of radio is brilliant. Best of all, it feels completely natural and comfortable to be reading news live to air again. That bit hasn’t phased me at all.

Mike Perso

Mike Perso

 

The biggest plus is that everyone I’m working with is absolutely lovely and supportive. It’s like they’ve all absorbed the vibe of the whole station – chilled and positive. Mike himself has been delightful and welcoming and I’m in awe of his seamless and relaxed delivery on air; juggling interviews, competitions, music and the challenge of working with a radio newbie like me!

 

As for the newsroom staff, they couldn’t have been more helpful if I’d paid them a million bucks each. There’s been a lot of new technology to absorb and me and technology don’t usually get along well at first so anyone teaching me, requires a LOT of patience. Which is why I have to thank these amazing people from the bottom of my heart:

Nova news presenter Matt Smithson

Nova news presenter Matt Smithson

smooth fm journalist Bronte Coy

smooth fm journalist Bronte Coy

Journalist John Michael Bric

Journalist John Michael Bric

Putting a bulletin together really is a team effort and I’m very lucky to be working with a group of such talented writers and operators. I’m also very much looking forward to the time in a couple of weeks when apparently – they keep telling me – the button-pushing bit will have become second-nature.

My new office

My new office

When I started at smoothfm last week, the person I was assigned to ‘follow’, who was going to teach me the ropes, was the super-talented Pip Mooney, the on-air newsreader I’ve replaced. Pip has chosen to take on a new role in the corporate world for family reasons so was more than happy to share her knowledge with me before she left.

Pip Mooney

Pip Mooney

Watching Pip at work was mind-boggling. The speed at which she completed her work, the high level of her capabilities and her professionalism on air made me wonder how I could ever fill her shoes. Again, like the rest of the team, her patience in explaining all the processes was infinite and much appreciated.

Also a great personality, I was sorry we weren’t going to be working together for longer when she left last Friday.

There’s a couple of other ‘thank yous’ required here. My new starting hours mean waking up at 4.30am, so I’ve pretty much dropped the ball on the domestic front this past week while I focus on my new job. (Because I also very much welcome an afternoon nap to get me through!)

As a result, Fletch has taken over the running of the household – even to the point where he did most of the home prep work for a family gathering on the weekend to celebrate his OWN birthday! (And our daughter Veronica’s as well.) AND he hasn’t complained about the alarm going off at 4.30am. Or making school lunches.

A birthday double

A birthday double. (And no, I didn’t bake the cake…)

So thanks a million, Fletch. Your support means everything. I promise to start looking inside the laundry again soon. Really, I promise!

 

 

 

 

When is a good age to have babies?

Hamish Blake and Zoe Foster

Hamish Blake and Zoe Foster

So Zoe Foster and Hamish Blake are having a baby! I offer my sincerest congratulations to them both – this gorgeous and much loved-up ‘IT’ couple of our local celebrity culture.

I’m sure Hamish will make an excellent dad. I can say this with some authority, as son Tom (who has just turned 16)  is a HUGE ‘Hamish and Andy’ fan. This means he has spent thousands of hours over the past five years walking around our house listening to pod-casts of these guys with ear-phones glued to his head and ignoring me. Hamish, in particular, is his favourite. Which means I’ve battled to get a word in.

But I’m fine with that. I get it. Hamish is funnier, wittier, younger and a bloke. No wonder Tom would prefer to hear his banter than my nagging him to pick up the clothes from his bedroom floor. But as a result, I believe Tom has absorbed much of Hamish’s take on life and he’s turned out pretty well. (In fact, he’s close to damn perfect… ) So Hamish, if you do read this, you should recognise and take a pat on the back for the great influence you’ve had on the thousands of young men (and women) who’ve grown up listening to you and feel confident, as you await the arrival of your first born, that you WILL be a great dad.

It’s none of my business WHEN people decide to have a baby, but I do admit to feeling a tad concerned when I read more than a year ago that Zoe was in no hurry to have kids. There was a quote where she said ‘I’m only 31 and I don’t want a huge family, but we do want kids, but we’re in no rush. I want to be a fun, married couple for a while.’ Which is cool – I just hoped she wasn’t going to wait till she was forty.

Now, OF COURSE, that was probably a line for the media because why should she tell us what they are planning anyway? But it reminded me of myself when Fletch and I had been married for a few years and I’d said exactly the same thing to friends. In fact, I was having so much fun with just the two of us, that every time Fletch suggested starting a family, I’d laugh it off and say, ‘Next year, honey. Just another year.’

Then the crunch came when he sent me a card with a picture of an adorable chubby baby on the front, and he drew a word bubble out of it’s mouth where he wrote, ‘When, oh when, will you let me be born?’ Yeah, not much pressure, huh?? So I relented, thinking it would probably take a while, but in a matter of seconds I was pregnant.

Veronica at 3 months

Veronica at 3 months

Veronica arrived not long after my 30th birthday and I was one of the first of my friendship group to have a baby. That made it hard for the first few years when I felt like I was missing out socially, but in hindsight, I’m so glad Fletch put the squeeze on for us to start a family when we did.

I still don’t think there’s enough in the media, encouraging younger women to have babies at an earlier age, because there still seems to be a common misconception that it’s all good and dandy to get pregnant in your forties. While many women do, and it works out brilliantly, there’s many more who spend years struggling to conceive and the long-awaited miracle never happens. For many, there isn’t a choice – some are still waiting to find a life-partner – but for those who do, but are like me and are hesitant – this is why I’m writing this piece.

Our second child, Tom, arrived two and a half years after Veronica when I was thirty-two. Even at that age, it was an exhausting time. Especially as I returned to reading the news when Tom was a mere five-weeks old.

Tom as a newborn. Photo by Fletch

Tom as a newborn. Photo by Alan Fletcher

The younger you start, the more energy you will have to cope with the incessant demands of parenting. Your body will bounce back more quickly and you are less likely to suffer from post-natal depression. I wish I’d started even younger!

As well, the earlier you start a family, the greater your chances are of becoming pregnant. After the age of 36, a women’s fertility rate declines at an alarming rate. Only two in five women over the age of 40 are able to conceive.

I know this is a sensitive and complex issue. I have another friend in her forties who is only now, considering having a baby. She says she hasn’t felt ready until now. Everyone is different and that’s all good. I’m just saying – if you’re like I was in my late 20s and think you have all the time in the world – think again. Look up the statistics and decide whether it’s really worth waiting. And to Hamish and Zoe, I’m thrilled for you both.

 

From Page 3 Girl to Sensible Saffy

Our daughter, Veronica, turned 18 just over a week ago. It’s quite a milestone that deserves a Blog.

She made quite a splash when she arrived in the world, our baby daughter. Born on her father’s birthday, it was the best present I’ve ever given Fletch. By just nine months old, she was a Page Three girl in the Herald Sun.

Veronica - a natural water baby

Veronica – a natural water baby                                                Photo: Craig Borrow

I was as proud a mum as any could be. We took her to swimming lessons, Gymbaroo and Mini Maestros to ensure she got the best start in life. Who knew what hidden talents might surface?

My chubba-bubba - pretty in pink

My chubba-bubba – pretty in pink

I also spent a fortune on baby clothes in pink, florals and more pink, because the cuter she looked seemed to help compensate for the sleep deprivation we were suffering.

While adorable by day, she was a monster at night who refused to sleep through. Several times we made the call to book in to ‘sleep school’ only to have her perversely start sleeping right through that very night… as if she’d heard our phone conversation earlier in the day. So we’d cancel our booking and OF COURSE, she then instantly returned to her screaming ways. Arghhh…

 

Veronica and Tom

Veronica and Tom

 

 

But we struggled on through and then went for baby Number Two. When Tom arrived, Veronica was delighted to have a sibling to play with. There was a bit of rivalry in the early stages, but generally speaking, Tom and Ronnie have always been great mates. Thank God, Tom was a good sleeper!

 

 

 

 

 

Rock chick child

Rock chick child

As it turned out, Veronica had probably been screaming at night because she hated the clothes I was forcing her to wear. As soon as she was able to speak, she made it quite clear she DETESTED pink. And anything ‘girly’.  And Barbie Dolls. EWWWWWww…  Bratz dolls however, were an obsession.

I wondered whether her leaning towards the ‘rock chick’ look was a warning sign for the teen years. Perhaps we were in for more sleepless nights as she transformed from monster-baby to night-life-loving-teen-from-hell??
As a child, I found her resilience and sensible attitude startling. There was a bullying incident in Grade Five. I was only made aware of this through another child and a teacher, as I hadn’t noticed her being upset at home. Frantic with worry, I asked her if this was happening and whether she was okay. She shrugged and said, ‘I’m okay, Mum. Maybe they’re just not my kind of people?’ Wow. I wish I could be like that when people are nasty. A good lesson to take on board. Thank you, daughter.

Year Seven art award

Year Seven art award

Still, I was prepared for the worst as she moved into senior school. God knows, I hadn’t been an ideal teenager, so I probably deserved to be put through some angst after making my Mother suffer. But, strangely enough, the early teens were very peaceful. In Year Seven, Ronnie shone in the art department, taking out the art prize for her year group with a stunning butterfly painting. She also won ‘Most-improved’ in netball.

 

Veronica never took to bush-walking...

Veronica never took to bush-walking…

In fact, her most rebellious streak came out when we forced her to join us on bush walking treks while holidaying in the Grampians. Bush-walking wasn’t her thing… Check out the face! You can imagine the complaints. Long and loud.

Perhaps she was missing her friends in the city? Because while she wasn’t a wild child, she loved a party.

 

 

Ronnie's 14th Dracula's birthday party

Ronnie’s 14th Dracula’s birthday party

Veronica’s birthdays have always been cause for much excitement. A different theme and in particular, a special cake, every year. And while she’s not a fan of the Twilight book and film series, (much more a Harry Potter devotee) she opted for a girls’ night out at Dracula’s Theatre Restaurant for her 14th birthday.

By the time she turned 16, there STILL hadn’t been any traditionally bad teen behaviour. No missing in party-action, no lying about being somewhere else, no skipping school and no vomiting from over-indulgence with alcohol. I was starting to get concerned. This wasn’t normal, surely?

When we renovated her bedroom, I suggested we now remove the 70-odd Bratz dolls on her mantelpiece and put them upstairs in the rumpus room. Or in storage. Sixteen is definitely too old for dolls, right? ‘NO WAY!’ she said firmly. ‘They are staying where they are.’
‘But honey, what if you get a boyfriend and bring him home and he sees all these dolls? Surely he’s going to think that’s a little odd?’ I really was trying to look after her own interests here.
‘No, Mum,’ she said. ‘I don’t play with them any more, but they’re my collection and I want them to stay. And if a guy came over and said something critical, I’d dump him.’

‘Okay,’ I said. How could you argue with that logic? While mystified by her passion for dolls, I couldn’t help but admire her determination to stand by what she likes and not succumb to my concerns about potential peer group judgment. I love the fact that she doesn’t care what others think.

And she was going to parties. We’d had plenty of chats about boys and alcohol and she told me other young people were drinking. ‘But don’t worry,’ she said. ‘I hate the smell of alcohol and cigarettes. I’m never drinking or smoking.’

I’m sure I detected a faint suggestion of smug superiority in that comment and the accompanying look she gave me. Regular readers will know I used to smoke and so I credit myself with being such a bad example, I’ve shown my daughter how NOT to behave. Yes, it really started to seem like I had my own version of Saffy, from the TV series Ab Fab in my own home. She was enjoying her seat on the moral high-ground. Which was fine with me.

Butter Beer smile

Butter Beer smile

Some of my friends were doubtful. ‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ they’d scoff. ‘They all drink at that age. You’re kidding yourself.’ As far as I knew, the closest she’d come to grog was knocking back an alcohol-free Butter Beer from Harry Potter World when we visited Universal Studios last year.

So the next time I picked Ronnie up from a party, we pulled up at a traffic light and I said, ‘Honey, I know this seems silly, but can you blow your breath in my face just so I can be sure you haven’t been drinking?’ After a HUGE roll of the eyes, she complied. Nothing. Clean as a whistle.

THEN she said, ‘But there is one thing I did that was a little bit bad.’

I nearly slammed on the brakes. Shock, horror – perfect little Saffy had sinned?? I tried to hide my excitement. What gorgeously wicked deed was she about to confess? Perhaps she’d pashed and groped some young bloke in the bushes? Maybe she’d even smoked a joint?

‘What did you do, what did you do?’ I asked, desperate to know and trying to look stern.

‘Well…’ she said, glancing at me sheepishly. ‘I drank four cans of soft drink.’

Really? Is that ALL? Seriously??  I have to admit I was a tad disappointed. But I maintained the facade and whinged something pathetic about dentist bills. But Bless Her Cotton Socks. I am indeed blessed. I’ll take a soft drink addict versus an ice addict any day.

Year 11 formal

Year 11 formal

 

Last year there was a Year 11 Formal and for the first time, I saw how she had truly grown from an awkward teen into a beautiful young woman. She chose the dress. Not too short and no revealing cleavage, mind you! She’s much classier than her mother.

 

 

 

 

 

And then, two weeks ago, she was just as gorgeous at her 18th birthday party. And still not a drop of alcohol has passed her lips. As for the party, now that’s another Blog altogether. (I’ve got some great tips about teen parties!!) But for now, I just want to say ‘Happy Birthday, Veronica, and thank you for being the most wonderful daughter a mother could wish for. I hope one day I’ll grow up to be as sensible as you.’

Ronnie at her 18th birthday party

Ronnie at her 18th birthday party