Alfie’s Day of Neglect

With Arabella turning my week into drama-central somehow I kind of forgot I have a third child.  And he’s only seven.  And by law he’s not allowed to bring himself up, he’s supposed to be supervised, parented even.

After the night where following my dinner I had to eat a Middle Eastern three-course meal of enormous proportions, I went to bed quite late and had torrid dreams where everyone close to me confessed to being a lesbian.  I slept in which sent the day into chaos.

I did manage to present Alfie with his current favourite breakfast of spaghetti on toast but I didn’t have time to make him any lunch.  Alfie was thrilled however because that meant a lunch order from the canteen.  Sorted!

Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato, Rocket and Olive Sauce

Within minutes of rising it was time to walk to school but I noticed Alfie didn’t have his school shoes on.  ‘Where are your shoes, Alfie?’  And I got a shrug of the shoulders.  So I went from room to room on my hands and knees looking under all the furniture where all I found was a lot of evidence that the house is long over-due for a clean, a proper clean.

‘Does anyone know where Alfie’s shoes are?’  I yelled out to EVERYONE but no one answered.  ‘I wasn’t home last night’, I continued, ‘So I didn’t put him in the shower.  Who did?’  Everyone ignored me.  ‘You see this is the problem’, I screamed, ‘I can’t leave my post for a night out in Liverpool because everything unravels like the essential school shoes have just vanished’.  Still nothing.  ‘Alfie, you were playing with the neighbour.  Did you leave your shoes at his house?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Well don’t just stand there, look for them.’  What a waste of breath.  All he did was take off his mittens that we’d purchased the previous afternoon from the local shopping centre (where we seem to spend every afternoon) from one of those stalls that they set up from time to time.  This week it’s been ghastly knitwear but Alfie HAD TO HAVE the woolen mittens.  Now, instead of looking for his shoes, he was playing on the i-Pad.  I found the shoes.  They were outside of course.  Left out there overnight.

We started walking to school and rounded the first corner when Alfie realised he’d left the new mittens at home.  He tugged at me, ‘Mum, we have to go back, I have to get my mittens.’

‘We’re not going back, we’re late for school’.  Alfie stopped walking.

‘No mum, I have to have them.  Please.  We have to go back.’  I dragged him forward.

‘Alfie, we are not going back.  We are so late already we’re going to have to get a late note’.  And I had to physically drag him the rest of the way to school while he whinged and moaned and carried on and I was only too pleased to have the roar of the traffic to drown him out.

Organic Kamut Pasta

We entered the school gates and I reminded him that his grandfather would be picking him up.  ‘You know it’s Arabella’s formal so I’ll be in the city so when you see Poppa come to get you, you’re to go home with him, okay?’  As we walked through the school I noticed some outdoor tables had been set up and there was quite an impressive morning tea on display.  But I hurried past and took Alfie to the office where we queued for the late note that had, ‘Couldn’t find school shoes’ written on it for the world to see.   I sent Alfie up to his classroom with his note and went to the canteen to sort out his lunch.  I’d just finished writing out the order when a smartly dressed elderly gentleman approached and said, ‘Excuse me, can you tell me where I’m meant to be?’

I had no idea.  ‘What is it you are here for?’

‘Grandparent’s Day’.  That was news!  How could I not have known about grandparent’s day?  It must have been because I hadn’t recently checked his bags for notes and because his teacher has been away all week and normally she would have sent an email.  Just to be sure I went back to the office and asked, ‘Is it Grandparent’s Day?’ and they said, ‘Yes’.

‘What time does it start?’ I asked.

‘Nine twenty’.

It was about 9.20 now.  I quickly phoned my father.  He had just come in from a run because that’s what you do when you’re in your 7o’s.  ‘Dad, it’s Grandparent’s Day.  Can you get up to the school?’

‘What time?’


‘Now?  I haven’t had a shower and I don’t know where your mother is, I’ve come home and she’s out.’

‘Could you just get up here and show your face in the classroom and then you can leave?’

‘Right, well we’ll see what we can do.’

Crisis averted.  I started walking out of the school when I suddenly remembered it was sausage sizzle day.  If you brought in $2.00 you could have a sausage in a bread roll and the $2.00 was being donated to a Cause.  I have no idea which Cause because it could be one of thousands.

I rushed back to the canteen, canceled the chicken burger, ran up the three flights of stairs to Alfie’s classroom, barged in and handed the teacher $2.00.  Alfie looked very relieved because the teacher had just collected everyone’s money and he had been the only one without funds!

I went off to the pool and joined the squad that had already started.  At around 10.10 I said to one of girls swimming with me (who has a daughter in the same year as Alfie), ‘Does your daughter have grandparents coming to see her today?’  And she said, ‘It’s not Grandparent’s Day.’  I said, ‘Oh it is, they told me at the office.’  And she said, ‘Yeah but not for Year 2, it’s just the Year 1’s that are having Grandparent’s Day’.

My poor father.

My father had raced up to the school and when he arrived at the gate, one of the welcoming party said to him, ‘I’m sorry sir, there’s been a misunderstanding and it doesn’t start until 10am’.  So my father went and sat in his car for 20 minutes.  At the appointed time he came back and made his way up to Alfie’s classroom.  He walked in and everyone stared at him and he wondered why he was the only grandparent there.  Alfie, thinking Poppa had arrived to collect him, looked all excited and sprang to his feet.

That’s when my father was told he wasn’t meant to be there and that’s when Alfie was told to sit back down in his seat.

I blame the lesbians.

After all the food the night before, I felt like something light and refreshing for dinner.  I cooked a Jamie Oliver pasta from Jamie’s Dinners and used organic kamut pasta making this gluten-free.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Spaghetti with Uncooked Tomato, Rocket and Olive Sauce

Serves:  4

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  I bumped up the costs by using organic kamut pasta and organic hairloom tomatoes.  More common ingredients would make this a very reasonably priced meal.

  • 455g/1 lb spaghetti
  • 5 nice medium-sized ripe tomatoes
  • 2 handfuls of fresh basil
  • a good handful of tasty black or green olives, stones removed
  • 2 handfuls of fresh rocket, washed
  • 1 flat tspn dried oregano, or a small handful of fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2 tbspns balsamic vinegar
  • 6 tbspns extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add your spaghetti and cook it according to the packet instructions.

Chop up the tomatoes and basil.  Chop the olives up a bit as well if you want to.  Chop rocket if desired.  Put all these ingredients in a bowl with the oregano.  Then add the balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil, and season carefully with salt and pepper.  Taste and season, taste and season, until you get it spot on.

By now your pasta should be cooked, so drain it, reserving some of the cooking water.  Throw the pasta into the bowl with the tomatoes and toss well.  You probably won’t need to add any of the cooking water because the tomatoes are quite watery, but do add a little if you feel like the sauce needs loosening slightly.  Work quite fast, because it’s the heat of the pasta what warms up the tomatoes and you don’t want it to get cold.

Serve with some wine and a green salad.

And a nice bit of Parmesan or pecorino to grate over the top is a joy.

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  1. Great recipe and hysterical post!

  2. Wonderful account of family life in the real world.Recipe looks great – and you SO deserve that wine with it.

  3. Hi,
    Oh my what a week you have had, couldn’t help but have a laugh. 🙂
    The pasta looks fabulous.

  4. Bring on school holidays!! 😉 Surely you can’t blame the lesbians – just how risque did that dream get? 😉  Lovely looking pasta … xxx

  5. Oh my goodness…sounds like you and Cecelia from Thekitchensgarden had a similar day! And the lesbian dream – hilarious! Hope you are able to rest today now that all of the festivities with your daughter are over. 😉

    And Kamut pasta! I haven’t seen that here. I eat brown rice pasta and sometimes quinoa pasta. I’m going to have to do some research and see if I can fine the kamut.

    Have a good day! ~ April

  6. What a day!  The pasta looks so nice and light.  Yum.

  7. Couldn’t stop laughing!!! I’m guessing you ended up exausted!

  8. I am totally laughing out loud. Your poor father! Hope your weekend is a little saner. Though it seems that there is always an adventure going on in your house. And I love it!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks Jennifer. I hope your holiday is going well and that you managed to remember everything you had to pack. So looking forward to hearing all about it. xx

  9. Justasmidgen says:

    Hysterial.. you remind me of myself and I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry! I did for sorry for Gramps though:) xo Smidge

  10. Oh Charlie!!!! What a mess but funny situation, I feel your lovely father!
    But I have a question, what is this grandfathers day, what happens if a kid has no grandfather? Just a silly question…
    I love the pasta, I have to try those gluten free pasta, are they really good!?

  11. Amanda robson says:

    Very funny!  I remember the shoe thing and the being on hands and knees looking for stuff whilst everyone else amuses themselves.  Swimming it off is a great idea.

  12. This pasta looks wonderfully fresh! And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the same conversation over lost shoes. Ugh. 😉

  13. Nevertoosweet Daisy says:

    Oh no 🙁 Your poor dad lol but it’s kinda sweet and cute at the same time that he rushed to Alfie’s school ~ you still amaze me Charlie! I dont know how you are able to manage 2 teenages and one young child hehe 😀

  14. Mandy - The Complete Cook Book says:

    Oh my, I do take my hat off to you!  Your pasta looks fantastic and so beautifully presented.
    🙂 Mandy

  15. What a week you are having! Hope all is calmer tomorrow. Great that you have your father nearby to call on for help.

  16. Coffee and Crumpets says:

    I feel so bad for your father! Wow. You had a rough week and I thought I was having it hard! Love the pasta, and great that it is gluten free. I need to eat gluten free..but don’t. I haven’t tried kaput pasta but see it on the shelves. This looks really good, I will have to buy some next time.

  17. Hopefully things will get back to what passes for normal for you pretty soon. Cause that sounds like quite the day.

    Kamut pasta sounds very interesting based on what I’ve heard about it. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it.

  18. I admit that I could never wrap myself around the British idea of beans on toast, and spaghetti on toast sounded much the same until I saw your lovely recipe.  Now that  could enjoy!  On toast or not.

    Another interesting day in Chez Charlie.  Your descriptions make me both miss my son and the days when he was living at home and being glad I don’t have to shuttle hime and his friends about in school and out of it!

  19. ‘not that there’s anything wrong with that” from Seinfeld kept popping into my head. What a comedy of errors unravelled that morning. You are indeed very fortunate to have both your parents still with you and healthy. In Canada the school year goes from September to June and they get the entire month of July and August off for summer holidays…is it the same in Australia?

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Hi Eva, as I was writing the post I was thinking of that episode in Seinfeld too! Our school year goes from end of January to the beginning of December giving those at private schools about eight weeks off and those at public schools have six weeks. Then there’s two weeks off at Easter, three weeks off at the end of June (two if you’re at a public school) and another two weeks off at the end of September. So, just to make it confusing, Arabella breaks up on the 23rd for three weeks, Alfie breaks up a week later and has two weeks, and Archie has exams then and no holidays until August (his timetable is completely different). Crazy! xx

  20. Choc Chip Uru says:

    I hope everything goes back to routine soon my friend – just when you thought you could kick off your shoes!
    But how lucky are you to have such wonderful and healthy parents? 😀
    Also lovely looking spaghetti dish *drools*

    Choc Chip Uru

  21. lovely recipe and smiling as always reading your blog

  22. Poor Poppa!  I figure he knows you really well and wasn’t surprised. 

    I’m glad to know you’re settling down and realising you have other children.  Imagine forgetting one? 

    Your spaghetti looks really good and I’m sure it tasted fantastic.

  23. Green Dragonette says:


    Hi Charlie,

    I was giggling away to myself reading your post-so so funny!!
    Love the spaghetti dish. Spaghetti almost seems retro now as everybody is in to
    all the other shapes-about time for a spaghetti resurgence!!

  24. InTolerant Chef says:

    How did Poppa react to hearing the lesbians made you do it? That would have been an interesting conversation 🙂

  25. Just when I thought it couldn’t get better, it does.
    Love your dad for his drop everything for the kids enthusiasm and love that your in the pool.
    Great read Charlie,

  26. Barbara at winos and foodies says:

    I’m glad I’m past the school days time. I’m a fan of spagetti on toast too.

  27. If truth be known,  the grandfather was rather taken with Alfie’s (albeit temporry) teacher.  He’s rather hoping she will be still around when the official grandparent’s day arrives.   Love, Elsie

  28. I think you’ve caught on to my point by now but just one more time… please make a TV show or a movie, forget the book deal! Reading your blog is like my little dose of a soapie every day. Poor you. I’m sure things will calm down now (fingers crossed!). 

  29. Whatever happened to the days when you went to school on your own, stayed all day, had a vegemite sanger for lunch, tried to avoid attracting the attentions of cranky nuns too much and went home?  That’s how I remember it – not this constant stream of notes and commitments from not only parents, but members of the extended family, friends and neighbours.  
    I frequently suspect that I’ve spent more time at school with my kids than I ever did when I was actually a student myself.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I know. I don’t remember my mother coming up to the school for anything except parent/teacher night. These days you have to be there all the time; there’s always something on. And the kids have so much on. Last week there was a mufti day (had to wear green, something to do with the environment), and the sausage sizzle and grandparent’s day (for some) and this week there’s a public holiday, mufti again on Tuesday, fundraising for the school another day etc, etc. It just does my head in. When my mother pushed us out the door where we walked to school on our own, she could sit down and relax. You’re not allowed to do that anymore! xx

  30. Seriously.. I am a big fan  of spaghetti on toast too. Love to read this post.

  31. Oh boo! Poor Grandpa and Poor Alfie!! *sniff*

  32. EatPlayShop says:

    Poor Alfie and Grandpa!  I’ve had days like this, and know well the panic that comes with having no idea what school event is on that day because I’ve missed one newsletter.  Last minute scramble!

  33. I can not say how much I enjoyed this post. But that is really rather mean because I appreciate my enjoyment came at considerable stress to you! Thanks for writing so entertainingly and being prepared to open your challenging days to others’ enjoyment 🙂

    I’d take some of this pasta too – I love the look of the kamut pasta and how the colours and flavours come together.

  34. OM goodness. What a merry go round. How do you keep up. I just love these tales!

  35. Ooh what a day! 🙁  How do you kep your sanity, I wonder!!!
    That pasta meal is great but kamut isn’t gluten-gree! Kamut is an ancient form of wheat. While its probably lower in gluten than modern wheat, it still has gluten in it. The same goes for spelt.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks so much Sophie for letting me know. I thought kamut was gluten-free. Anyway, it was delicious! xx

  36. ChgoJohn says:

    Spaghetti on toast sounds like a dish I would have tied to convince my Mom to serve me for breakfast. I don;t care how much pasta she served me, it was never enough! I love using uncooked tomatoes in a pasta sauce. They add a great flavor that gets lost once the tomatoes get heated.  I need to give this dish a try.  🙂

    • hotlyspiced says:

      As you’re now in summer, it’s a great pasta recipe for you to try because it’s quite refreshing and light. And yes, fresh tomatoes slightly warmed by the hot pasta taste amazing xx

  37. Can I laugh a wee bit at this whole tale?

  38. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    I was wondering what sort of pasta you used, I thought it was wholemeal at first! I haven’t tried kamut before! 🙂

  39. Loved this – what a laugh!  First time I’ve read your blog but I will definitely be returning!

  40. I love pasta and this looks wonderful!

  41. why does life have to be so complicated?  and why aren’t more of my meals as uncomplicated as your lovely pasta?

  42. lol – “Alfie was thrilled however because that meant a lunch order from the canteen.”

    Oh to be thrilled by the prospect of canteen food! Give me something home-made any day! I actually have some kamut flour at home – I was wondering what it would be like to make a pasta from it. Maybe I’ll have to try it!

  43. justonecookbook says:

    This sounds delicious and I have everything but olives.  Thinking about trying this for tomorrow’s lunch.  Thank you for making me laugh (as always!!!).

  44. Ha! That’s hilarious. “I blame the lesbians.” You’re a good mother for trying to get all that done in a small window of time.

  45. What a refreshing pasta recipe, and I’ll enjoy it now that our fresh tomatoes are beginning to come in! I like the rocket greens in a dish like this more than in a fresh salad, too. Poor Alfie did get a little jostled in all the Arabella happenings, didn’t he! Poor little guy…he does seem to be a very resilient little guy and I enjoy hearing about him. As a grandparent I completely identify with that call you made to your dad…there isn’t any family confusion that I refuse to enter! That’s why God made grandparents, Charlie…to help out 🙂 Debra

  46.  i felt like I forgot to do something in my to do list yesterday and I kept thinking but hey being over the hill I forget right?  So this morning when I woke up, I said… oh now I remember…I forgot to read Hotly Spiced  and wondered what happened to Arabella’s formal hahah.. you crack me up as always.  Im glad i’m here now.. haha

  47. This is so funny.  

  48. This story was so funny … As you said, you can’t leave your post for a minute 🙂

  49. Oh, I could so have a day like this!  (Though I’ve never dreamed of lesbians.)  Poor Alfie!  How in the world can you whip up meals like this with all the activity in your life?!

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