Wednesday 29 June 2011

My Weekend - The Gallery

So while half the 'Mummy Bloggers' population (is that politically correct?) were at a conference called CyberMummy this weekend, I was not. No I am not jealous, bitter or envious. No, not I. Nope. Sure there were bits of it that would have been pretty cool like Sarah Brown's Keynote Speech or The Dildo After-show Party, but over all I was completely content at the Stamford Family Fair and Parade. Yes, perfectly happy.

Because if I had been shmoozing with blogging celebrities I would have missed Extreme Gothic Morris Dancing (check out the coats and hats!).

I would have missed The Big One having a go at fencing for the first time and then he wouldn't have had his picture taken for the local paper, Stamford Mercury.

I would have missed The Big One Zorbing with his friend.

And who'd want to miss that?

Now pop over to Sticky Fingers Blog and look at the other entries into The Gallery:

Monday 27 June 2011

Indigo Mood

Thank you Josie at Sleep is for the Weak and her Writing Workshop prompt: Personality Catwalk.

I wear my mood. It hangs, swinging in my wardrobe, waving at me. Pick me. Pick me. But no, you're not my mood today. You are so yesterday.

Yesterday was dark and threatening. Prickly. A stiff collared jacket, crisp sleeves and polished shoes. A subtle hint of colour from a scarf to soften the edges but not disguising the armour I wore to protect me from the day. My indigo jeans, trusted and reliable, fresh from the laundry, were slightly too tight on my waist, pinching. An unneccessary black leather belt brought it all together, drew me in and gave my mood the structure it needed to be complete.

Today is bright, shiny and hot, with promises of enthusiasm to carry me through the day. Today I can pick my jeans off the floor, shake them out and know that the waist has stretched and will let me breathe freely. A purple shirt confidently wraps it's arms around me, while a dash of silver birkenstocks are playful around my toes. I am ready. No fuss and certainly no iron.

Tomorrow? I've checked the forecast but these things are so unpredictable. I am hoping for a hazy softness so I can wear my jeans just one more day, improved with wear. Tomorrow I would like a mood that I am not afraid to share, one that will raise the corners of my mouth into a half smile. A simple long t-shirt will drape catching at my hips perfectly and my suede converse trainers will be fluid, flexible and perfect to tread softly through the day. No footprints tomorrow, just a breeze and a few passing shadows.

Whichever mood is dealt, I will wear it with my indigo jeans. I will not hide it at the back of the wardrobe because that is where mistakes are hidden, tags still attached. I will not hide behind a fake outfit, because it will only confuse who I am today and limit my potential.

But my trusted jeans, that adapt so perfectly, are me, so me.

P.S. I'm hoping for a high heels day soon.

Friday 24 June 2011

Clothes Swap Party

Brilliant idea or fraught with danger?

When I was asked if I wanted to go I thought it was a brilliant idea. Bring along 5 items of clothing that you no longer wear and swap them for something you hopefully will wear. Simple.

But in the build up, I started to think/stress about it and spotted a few problems.

  1. The clothes that are there to buy will be awful. Fact.
  2. You are an awkward shape (size 14 hips, size 16 waist, size 18 top) so a good fit is unlikely.
  3. The 'older' generation that have been invited are unlikely to be bringing hot fashion items. More likely polyester floral prints with gold buttons.
  4. The 'younger' generation that have also been invited are unlikely to be bringing anything you can wear in public at your age.
  5. You don't want anyone to see what you have donated for fear of 'did you see the state of that' raised eyebrows.
  6. Anything you do buy is a friends cast off and you can't wear it because 'they will know'.
  7. If a friend buys one of your cast offs do you tell them? If not, every time you see them are you going to be kicking yourself that you gave it away because it actually does look nice?
  8. Are you going to regret your donations and think about what you could have got for them on ebay?
  9. You might buy something that you think looks good but your friends are thinking "what does she look like?"
  10. Do you pay for your stuff to be dry cleaned before you donate it?

You see, fraught with pitfalls!

But it was for charity, Motor Neurone Disease in fact. An extremely worthy cause. A hideous incurable disease that progressively devastates lives. The courage and strength that families muster is beyond admirable, it is awesome and I hope that one day a cure will be found.

So I grabbed carefully selected some clothes from the darkest recesses of my wardrobe (and laundered them where necessary, I hastily add) and took them along to the Charity Clothes Swap.

After quickly depositing my donations into a discreet box to be swifty swept away into another room, I grabbed a glass of wine (very civilised I'm sure and a great way of loosening the purse strings) and sought refuge at the back hiding my blushes behind a flyer for a style consultant.

My friend gave a very moving introduction raising awareness about Motor Neurone Disease and why it is vital to raise money for this charity. (Managed not to blub but I tell you, this disease is devastating). Then the Style Consultant let rip.

Within the first 2 minutes, on her advise, I would have to buy a complete new wardrobe. Out with the old and tatty (no matter how lovely and perfectly suited to your colouring and figure) and out with the dated (I swear my 90's fashions will come back one day). So left with bugger all to wear she dropped a few hints and tips about how to rebuild your wardrobe following a few rules. Never wear pastels unless you are less than 12 months old. Noone can ever wear beige/grey/black next to their face. Never tuck a top into trousers or skirts. Illustrated by some classic slides showing before and after shots, it was impressive and I'm sure with a makeup artist, a personal hairdresser and a limitless credit limit I too could knock a few years off. Obviously for a small fee she will personally assist with this exercise.

She hung around when the doors were opened to tell people to take back to the rails the (previously considered gorgeous) item of clothing as it did not suit them. Slightly counter-productive for raising money for charity I thought, persuading someone not to buy? Anyway...

As predicted I couldn't find any clothes to buy (polyester/ugly/too small) but there were some accessories too so my stash consisted of a couple of bracelets, a pashmina and a bag. For £1 each they were a steal.

Etiquette was interesting though. One school mum I was chatting to made it known that one of the bracelets I picked up was her donation. Was that a hint of pride I saw? I was told who the bag belonged to and safe in the knowledge that the previous owner has style and taste I shall use it. Even on the school run.Yes, publicly.

So in summary, Clothes Swap are a bit of fun. But here are a few rules of my own for attending such an event:

  • Give generously. Your donations should be clean, presentable and you should be able to imagine one of your friends wearing them.
  • Don't point out your donations to everyone. Bit cheesy. Just saying.
  • Before buying something else try it on and ask for another opinion. No point swapping something you don't wear for something else you won't wear.

More than £600 was raised at this event so they are definitely worth it and yes, I did enjoy it. A good giggle.

Do you have any clothes swap stories, funny, embarrassing or outrageous? Do share...

Thursday 23 June 2011

There and back again, again.

Today I am mostly feeling like a yoyo.

When my day is done and I can finally crawl into bed I will have been in and out of my front door 12 times. This shouldn't be a problem or an annoyance really but today I have no energy, I have 6 steps up to my front door and I live on a hill. So bah!

Trip 1: School and nursery drop off. Distance: 1 mile
Trip 2: Walk the dog. Distance: 2 miles
Trip 3: Taking the Wee One to Tumble Tots. Distance: 1 mile
Trip 4: Nursery pick up. Distance: 1 mile
Trip 5: School run. Distance: 1 mile
Trip 6: Charity night. Distance: 2 miles

So you see none of these trips is very far or very taxing. It is just the fact that I have to go up and down the same hill 12 times and I can now tell you the colour of every front door, how many weeds are growing in each garden and how many cracks there are in the pavement between here and the end of the road (not allowed to tread on any because of the bears).

Instant pick me up needed please. Don't suggest chocolate. 1) I am putting on weight so MUST NOT eat it and 2) I haven't got any in the house (major oversight).

Oh and I might buy a pedometer to distract me from my plodding.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

The Gallery - 3 Word Wednesday

Inspired by Simon Mayo, Tara over at Sticky Fingers set us an interesting Gallery challenge this week which had me deliberating over a multitude of possibilities. I had just about forced myself to come up with a short list when I felt the need to loosen my belt, face up to my greed and make a pledge. My "3 word wednesday" was lying there, next to me, empty, shaming me into submission:

Diet starts tomorrow *blushes*

Saturday 18 June 2011

Cracked It!

photo credit: The Guardian

It's only taken me 3 children and six years but I have finally cracked it!

What? What? I hear you ask.

Well, let me explain. Since The Big One was able to articulate his constant need for food, he has been doing just that.

Initially it would be in the form of "Whhahhh". Then came the "ugh ugh" stage. "More" soon followed and at some point manners were beaten in to him encouraged and we got "More please".

The premature milestone of teenage years (at the ripe old age of 5) gave us "I'm hungry" in a very long drawn out voice with pathetic intonations. Helpfully this was precisely the age when Princess started speaking and very quickly, looking adoringly up at her older, wiser brother, she too learnt to say "I'm hungry".

In itself none of this is really a problem. But when it's on a loop, all day, every day, often within minutes of finishing a meal, it does start to get slightly irksome. Alright, damn annoying.

But, today, at precisely 12.00 I sussed it. No more (okay, maybe less often) will I hear the "I'm hungry" cry.


Simples. Feed them :-)

That is, feed them before they start whining.

At 10.30 this morning I popped into the newsagent and anticipating the "I'm hungry" (read: I am absolutely hypnotised by this splendid array of confectionery and I will self combust if I am not allowed to sample its delights) I bought them a chupa chups each thereby avoiding spending £1.20 on a couple of packets of smarties and instead parting with 24p. *punches air*

At 12.00, noticing a slight air of irritability, I forged ahead and prepared a platter of fine sandwiches, olives  and crisps with a side dish of silent praise.

And at 13.00 noticing that noone had asked for any pudding (a meal ritual even after breakfast) I produced fresh apricots that got smiles all round.

So the scores on the doors today are:

Kids: nil point - Mummy: she rocks.

I thank you x

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Dear Daddy - The Gallery

Dear Daddy,

I love you. I can't say it yet (I can barely say 'Dada') but you don't always need words do you. I can say it with a lovely big scrummy hug.

I was so glad that Mummy was there to capture the moment because this year you will be away working on Fathers Day. We will miss you soooooo much but don't worry because when you get home there will be a queue at the door to give you a welcome home hug!

Love you Daddy.

The Wee One xxx

Pop on over to Sticky Fingers to see other contributions to The Gallery

Monday 13 June 2011


I am content with my unmuddled life.

There is of course the odd day when, from nowhere in particular, something, anything, really irritating trips me up so I stumble. But that is all it is: an irritation. Much like an itch can be scratched, it can be forgotton by the time I've walked around the garden to find the perfect spot of sun to sit in.

I am a creature of simple needs. I may wish for many things that, at the time, I think will improve my life, add a whole new level of contentedness to it. But can they really do that? Or am I just dreaming of a place where the grass may be a nano-shade greener. Certainly I sometimes peek through the fence at the neighbours garden (who doesn't?) and I am sure if I squint a little and turn my head to the side I might catch a glimpse of a bigger flower, a more luscious bush or a sunnier spot to sit in. They have invited me round once or twice and it is true they have nicer biscuits but that isn't everything is it.

In all honesty, all I need to be content is delicious food, a long lazy walk through some woods or by a river and a warm comforting bed to lie in. I'm not that fussy whose bed either as long as I can stretch out from nose to toes and snore undisturbed. Admittedly my bed partner may not appreciate my sleeping habits.

I know my place, at the bottom of what has become an increasingly long ladder. Once I was the favourite. Numero Uno. But along came the children one by one and slowly, almost inperceptably, I was knocked down another peg. Given the regularity of this decent I think I have been more than reasonable about the whole affair. I have been reassured that there will be no more children but after 3 what does it matter if there is another to pull my ears, steal my biscuits or sit on my back, there would be another bed to stretch out in.

There was a time before this family, that I was very muddled by life. Fed with one hand and beaten with the other. I didn't know when I would be fed or walked and despite a bed to sleep in, there wasn't enough room to stretch out. I didn't know about other families and how happy you could be. I had moments of happiness when a hand would absently brush against my back and stroke me and I would sigh in appreciation. It wouldn't last though. Not one to dwell on the past, I don't often think of those days before I came to live here. Perhaps if I did I would appreciate all the more the love and affection I get, even if it is a somewhat clumsy approach from the children.

So it is here, by this fire, with this family, that I am content to settle and rest for my remaining years.

This is my first contribution to Sleep is for the Weak's Writing Workshop. Pop over to see the other contributors. Your comments and feedback on this piece will be gratefully received. Thank you x

Friday 10 June 2011

Five... around the table

You know that game, when you have to invite 4 people to a fantasy dinner party. I played it last night with a group of school Mums and I was actually a little bit shocked.

Not, you know, OMG. Just more, well I never!

We are all intelligent women in our 30's or *whispers* 40's in the medical profession, business professionals, full time working or stay at home Mums. Each month our group (The Alternative Book Club) get together austensibly to learn or share something for fun but this must not (repeat MUST NOT) get in the way of a good sauvignon blanc or gossip obviously.

So there we are, fully informed of all the staff room comings and goings, wine glasses charged and a fantasy seating plan ready to be commended or outrightly ridiculed.

Given there were 10 of us and we each had to invite 4 guests, how many women would you say were invited? No this isn't a trick question on "Do you think you are smarter than a 10 year old". I'll take an "Age 6 Maths, please Dom".

The answer was precisely 2. And of those one was someone I thought I should throw in just so I didn't look like a hussy who had invited all men. I needn't have worried!

In trying to justify our choices, I think we just struggled in our busy lives to spend more than an hour to think about it so we were influenced by who we had seen most recently on TV. And as the majority of presenters, actors, comedians and musicians are men, we should not be surprised by our significant male bias.

Or are we just a feast of feisty females who had had a bit of fantasy fun?

Over analysing probably :-)

For the record mine were:

Rob Brydon - for humour not totty
Kevin McCloud - for intellect and *ahem* totty although that was loudly ridiculled
Chris Evans - Sauvignon blanc was almost spilt over who was going have him at their table
and Adele - my token women although she is clearly awesome.

And also for the record, The Big One would have the White Power Ranger, Garfield and Ode, Steven Gerrard and Flappy (supposedly a Moshi Monster).

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Refashion and all that

I have discovered a new passion.

It is upcycling or refashioning depending on your preference. Upcycling for things and refashioning for clothes (or I may be completely wrong. So shoot me).

The other day I turned a rather cute skirt found in Cancer Research into a pretty dress for Princess O. Yes, just like that. Yes <punches air>. I used a free downloadable pattern from Oliver + S but they also have some really cute dress patterns for sale too.

Stupidly I didn't take a 'before' picture so you will have to trust me on this one! In future I will be sure to take both before and after shots or else I will be forever doubted. Except by the bin man who may catch a glimpse of the entrails of an old dress falling into the bin lorry.

I am now however obsessed with charity shops and find myself scouring the shelves and rails for anything that would make a likely cushion cover (was a dressing gown) or paper bunting (kids story books with missing pages. It would be a crime to cut up a book otherwise!).

Anyway, I will keep you updated with progress and treasure finds. But must dash as the Wee One has upcycled the dog's water bowl into a paddling pool.

Saturday 4 June 2011

Five... have got talent

It may not be a widely recognised talent, but talent we have.

Inspired by the very cheesy Britains Got Talent, I started to think about what talents each of us have, what act we could perform at the next family jolly. Singing (strangled cats are more tuneful) or dancing (dripping taps have more rythmn), impressions (RIP Janet Brown) or juggling (obligatory parent skill but possibly not a talent), plonking away at the piano (accurate but ear splitting) or artistic creativity (can you tell what it is yet?).

Evidently we are not gifted in any of the more common talent categories so I started to consider those talents that might only be appreciated by the initiated few, you know, like your immediate family.

So a run down of our talents is as follows:

Baby climbing Zizkov Tower, Prague, Czech Republic
This travel blog photo's source is TravelPod page: Touring Praha!

The Wee Man (age 15 months): He can scale anything. So far, the ladder up to The Big Man's cabin bed, the dining room table, the back of the sofa, my neighbours fence and friends garden decking (head height for him). Admirable and terrifying for the parents, i.e. Me

Princess O (age 3 years): Screaming. Loudly. And the ability to include the word 'actually' into every other sentence.

The Big Man (age 6 years): Faster than a speeding bullet, the boy can run. One to be encouraged in the direction of an athletics track we think, and not in the opposite direction to the bath.

Him indoors: Do you remember the TV show from the late 70's possibly the early 80's when there was a kid who could identify any car from its headlights, and a bloke who could identify cars from the sound of the doors closing? It was all about who could remember the most things? I have spent bloomin' ages trying to think what the show was called and yes I do see the irony of that <gnashes teeth>! Well anyway, Him Indoors has a similar talent. From the merest glimpse of a London location (and I don't mean a shot of Big Ben or Nelson up his column) he can tell you where it is. He is particularly good on TV location shots. We (I) will be watching the latest crime drama (much to his despair and my delight) and he will glance up from his paper and say, "Ladbroke Grove". And if my knowledge was even a quarter of his, I would be cursing that I hadn't spotted it. As it is, I have to trust that he hasn't just been winding me up for the last 23 years. (We were young, ok).

Me: I can touch type. Relatively common I grant you but I have clocked up speeds approaching 180 numerals a minute. Sorry, I am of course refering to my skill as a touch typist on a calculator. My saturday job as a supermarket checkout girl (pre EPOS and scanning) and then as an allocator in retail where it was necessary to balance the delivery schedule before you could leave on friday, honed this skill admirably and despite the passing of years and lack of use I can still get a sweat up with a list of numbers.

So you see, talent we have. Would we win? It would clearly depend on the relative talents of our competition but I would like to think so.

So what undiscovered talents are residing in your family?

PS. Please please please, I beg of you, if you know the name of the show I'm talking about let me know. Thanks.

Wednesday 1 June 2011

The Gallery - I am grateful for...

We could be at a themepark. We could be on a beach. We could be yomping across hill and dale. We could be eating a gourmet meal. We could be snoozing by a pool.

We could be. But we are not.

We are at home enjoying what comes free and appreciating it all the more.

See who else has taken the Sticky Fingers The Gallery challenge and posted what they are grateful for x