Tuesday 31 July 2012

Andy Smith Olympic Illustration

Have you been into a Waitrose this week?

If not, hot foot it. Do a Usain Bolt impression and make haste.

And pick up the Waitrose Weekend free paper (before Thursday when they replace it with the next edition).

Because on the cover you will find a fantastic illustration created by Andy Smith. It represents a city scape of London incorporating all the countries competing in the Olympic games, even Palau.

Pure genius.

Sunday 29 July 2012

365Project Week 30

30 is a significant age I think.
I remember working out when I was at primary school, what year it would be when I turned  30.
I did a similar calculation when I started my 365project. What month will it be when I hit week 30?
Or more importantly first week of the school summer holidays.

I had visions of this week's photos showing all the adventures we had got up to, the action packed days we had filled.

Instead, I present you a block of ice, a blue tongue, a scooter, a shadow, some children (mine, 2 of) sat in the shade, a water fight and a spectacularly ugly fly. Not quite what I had in mind.

Five Go Blogging 365project week 30

We may not have crammed every day full of special memories but we have had fun (when we remember to), just enjoying the weather while it lasts and relaxing.

Maybe a more eventful week next week.

If you would like to see these photos in more detail, please head over to my 365project where you can see them all in their glory.

Joining in with The Boy and Me for the 365 Project

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Silent Sunday

water fight

Love All Blogs

Saturday 28 July 2012

Our Olympic Ceremony

2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony Steel Forged Rings
photo credit Daily Mail

I was prepared to be disappointed. I was prepared for the kids to say "Can we watch something else now?". I was prepared to argue with the kids about what time they could stay up till. I was prepared to be confused about what was supposed to be happening.

I was not prepared for the fantastic feast of cultural and artistic delight that was the Olympics Opening Ceremony.

I was also ill prepared for the deluge of questions fired at me by the Big One every 15 seconds.

Where is the running track?
Are they playing cricket on the Olympics?
Why are they wearing tall hats?
Why are their faces dirty?
What are those chimneys for?
What are those ladies doing with those placards?
What is a suffragette?
What does NHS stand for?
Who are those scary people?
Who is Mary Poppins?
Can I read Harry Potter?
What is this music?
What is punk?
What are those messages popping up on the screen?
Why is there a smiley face?
What does CND mean?
Who will carry Great Britain's flag?
Where is Palau?
Is that the real Olympic torch?
How many are there?
Who are those teenagers carrying the torch?

He was completely glued to the screen.
I was glued to wikipedia.

I hope it is something he will remember for the rest of his life.
The other two nodded off and were carried to bed.

What a night of pure Britishness and brilliance. The over tired grumps are worth it today.

Saturday is Caption Day

I have no words.
I am hoping that you will supply some in the form of a witty caption.

bottle rocket

And then pop over to Mammasaurus for more wit and wonder.

Friday 27 July 2012

You know it is the school summer holidays when...

hose pipe garden children

  • Your children suddenly wake earlier than they have done in the last 6 months rendering any hope of a lie-in null and void.
  • Gin consumption increases. Substantially.
  • As does chocolate consumption.
  • The fridge is permanently empty...
  • ... as is the fuel tank of the car from all the ferrying to and from friends...
  • ... and so is your bank account.
  • It rains when you plan a day out to the beach.
  • It's 30 degrees when you plan a trip to the soft play center.
  • Your previously happy-to-play-together children, refuse to play happily together.
  • You let the children fight and don't intervene believing that this is an essential life skill, and you can't be arsed.
  • You buy craft supplies in bulk...
  • ... and borrow craft books from the library.
  • Your recycling bin is full of your kids craft creations.
  • You know exactly how many days it is till they are back at school.
  • You have watched all the DVDs in the house 3 times over and it isn't even lunch time yet.
  • You make enquiries for meals on wheels.
  • You are actively looking for an Au Pair.
  • You are actively looking for full time employment.
  • The kids complain that they don't want to go to the park AGAIN.
  • The ducks erect a sign politely requesting no more bread.
  • Your facebook timeline is full of families lying about having fun...
  • ... and pictures of their kids craft creations and baking acheivements.
  • You have looked at your watch 15 times and it still only 9.30am.
  • All your children get ill, staggered throughout the summer break.
  • There is less traffic on the roads but you have nowhere to get to.
  • Price of ice cream goes up.
  • The old school shoes fit right up till the day before returning to school.
  • Back to school stuff is on sale but when you remember, it will be sold out of any size you need.
I have faith that as the summer progresses there may be more examples to be added to this list. For this reason, this blog post will have the subtitle Part 1.

What have I missed? And can I plagiarise your ideas for Part 2?

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Street Photography / People Watching

I love people watching. It is one of THE best pastimes, especially in new places where you don't know anyone (so you don't get caught out!).

I try to work out what the relationships are between people at tables in restaurants; a married man and his mistress who is about to give him an ultimatum; a mother and her two grown up children who have brought her out for a birthday treat but are broke so hope she will offer to pick up the bill; best friends from school but haven't seen each other for 5 years and now have nothing in common; a couple who have been tweeting and have met for the first time in real life only to discover the artistic licence of their avatars. That sort of thing.

Irritatingly, with small children in tow, I have very few opportunities to indulge in my favorite hobby so for this weeks prompt for The Gallery, I instead hit the church fair. Apparently there is plenty of gossip and people watching to be had in Church too but I wasn't privy to this, it being a Saturday and all.

church fair book stall

However, in my head, that guy standing on the right with his back to us biting his nails, is desperately hoping the other guy in the dodgy T-shirt, isn't going to pick up the copy of Riders by Jilly Cooper, because he really wants it himself, but couldn't possibly pick it up with anyone else watching. The lady on the left is keeping a close eye on him, and is ready to upsell him a complete set of Readers Digest abridged novels circa 1979.

I walked away with a Jasper Fforde novel for 30p. The kids couldn't be swayed by Peepo Baby or Little May.

See what fun you can have spying with street photography.

Go and check out the other entries in the weeks Gallery.

Sunday 22 July 2012

365 Project Week 29

Just as I was about to give in completely and suggest hibernation as a possible Summer holiday project, the sun shines and we get some lovely weather! Who'd have predicted that? Apart from possibly the Met Office who's short term weather forecasting is positively 10/10 for accuracy over my neck of the woods.

So weather themed photos again this week.

Sunday: Cloudy with occasional sunny spells = playing on the rugby field with golf balls lobbed down steps.
Monday: Mostly rain with a brief dry spell = long enough to catch raindrops on the fennel.
Tuesday: Mostly dry = test run of the school summer uniform on induction day.
Wednesday: Mosty chucking it down = indoor craft project, money box making for #pennies4piggies.
Thursday: Prayed for dry with mild winds = actual proper big rain drops with no wind for the Big Ones Beavers sailing activity hence a picture of the next door field instead.
Friday: Bloody rain = how to take an arty photo of yet more rain. Aha! Gutters.
Saturday: Sun? Really? Sun? = hit the beach!

Flip the coin to see what next weeks weather will hold!

If you would like to see these photos in more detail, please head over to my 365project where you can see them all in their glory.

Joining in with The Boy and Me for the 365 Project

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Silent Sunday

toes in the sea

Love All Blogs

Saturday 21 July 2012

Saturday is Caption Day

The last day of term has come and suddenly there are 40 39 days laying ahead (not counting, really). I am certain they will be filled with the sound of children's laughter. Perhaps not my children, but somewhere out there, children will be laughing.

Before they broke up, the Princess had a couple of hours in her reception class to meet the teacher and a few other children before she starts school in September. I captured this moment when I went to pick her up.

school wall climbing

Please impart your wit and add a caption in the comments before heading over to Mammasaurus for lots more giggle worthy photos.

Friday 20 July 2012


postacrd from the garden

No vacation this year (we are, after all, British and the snob in me wants to shout HOLIDAY!).
Not even a staycation (Stayiday?!?) where you holiday in the country of your residence. When I was a kid that used to be called a HOLIDAY too but there you go. Move with the times.
This year, our summer holidays will be a Homecation (or a Homiday. Hah!).

So how exactly do you have a holiday at home?

  • Erect a tent in your back garden, and play in it all day, attempt to sleep in it then retreat to your warm comfortable beds at the first sign of rain.
  • Don't do any laundry or housework (hmm, as normal then).
  • Takeaways or restaurants for meals, maybe with the exception of breakfast which would have to consist of a full english for me and a series of cereal variety boxes for the kids over which battles will be fought and I will eat the unwanted box of Shreddies (not frosted or cocoa).
  • Wear flipflops.
  • Day trips obviously.

And there in lies a problem. The cost of a day trip to anywhere on my kids summer bucket list is at least £100 including tickets, travel expenses, snacks, and if I spend that through the holidays on all the days out they want, it would be the same cost as a week away (albeit on a budget).

If the Mr was able to take some time off in the summer holidays we would definitely have a holiday in the UK, maybe camping or a cottage rental, just to be able to get away and have a change of scene.

THAT is what a holiday is for me, as my Mother would say, "It's new walls to look at, isn't it." She knows how to live. New walks to take, new places to go, new sights to see, the excitement of an adventure. New experiences and new friends to make at the beach. But NEW.

So, a homecation, for it to actually feel like a holiday, needs to include new things and places, which is somewhat challenging if you are actually in your own house.

So I have a few more ideas.

  • We could all swap beds. Actually The Wee One does a fair amount of bed roulette as it is. I rather fancy a night in the top bunk. Not sure how any one else would feel about sleeping in the cot though.
  • Change the pictures around. 
  • Perhaps move the furniture around in the lounge. 
  • I've been talking about decorating the boys bedroom so maybe a change of wall colour would add to the effect of a homecation.
  • We should hire lots of old films from the library, like the ones you find in old holiday cottages, ones that you would never choose to watch unless you were really desperate and are then pleasantly surprised when you manage to watch the whole thing through without nodding off once. 
  • I should probably add a couple of slightly torn paperbacks to the bookshelf too, and an old chess set with a pawn missing.
  • Send postcards. Actually we could make some (kills another hour or so).
  • Take lots of holiday photos. I think I have that one covered.
  • Eat ice creams at 10 in the morning, and eat fish and chips out of the paper sat on a bench. I may wash it down with a flask of tea, prepared hours earlier.
  • Finally we need a strange musty odour found at the back of the kitchen cupboards to complete the holiday cottage feel.
You don't have to go away to feel like you are having a holiday, and I know that we will have a fantastic time. At home. I'll send you a postcard x

If you are Homecationing this summer, what are you doing to create the holiday atmosphere?

Thursday 19 July 2012

Pennies for Piggies

Inspired by DorkyMum and Mammasaurus we have decided to start collecting our loose change for Piggy Bank Kids.

I first heard of this charity when I attended BritMums Live where Sarah Brown, the charity's founder, inspired many in the audience by sharing the fantastic work Piggy Bank Kids do for babies and children in the UK who need a little extra help to live a healthy and happy life. The funds that this charity raise go towards many projects throughout the UK, including the Jennifer Brown Project, to fund research into devastating pregnancy problems.

Not to be outdone by Mammasaurus who got creative with Marmite and Dolly Mixtures, we decided to make a money box that we could hoard our pennies in and when it is full, donate it to Piggy Bank Kids. This is part of a month long blogger project to pick up and save all your loose change and donate it to Piggy Bank Kids.

Our inspiration came from a pot of Bisto (other brands of gravy granules are available) and a Cbeebies comic.

The Princess loves cutting and sticking, the Wee One just loves cutting, so armed with scissors and glue the team got to work.

Money Box Crafting in aid of Piggy Bank Kids

We rummaged and came up with fist fulls of pennies (all coins are called pennies according to the Wee One) and posted them dutifully through the slot. All loose change normally goes into our penny jar but we are filling up our new money box instead now.

If you are feeling inspired to join in and collect your pennies, please take a look at the Piggy Bank Kids website, the great post Dorky Mum wrote, the cute money boxes Mammasaurus and team made and start collecting. You can follow progress using the #penniesforpiggies hashtag on twitter too or on Blog4charity.

Wednesday 18 July 2012

AA Box 530

To anyone who visits the North Norfolk Coast, this will be a familiar sight.

Automobile Association Box 530 Brancaster

Automobile Association Box 530 Brancaster

This Automobile Association 1950's box, it is an official grade II listed building, and is located on the A149 at Brancaster.We pass it regularly on our trips along the coast, marking the turning to one of our favourite beaches.

To me it looks quite comical, planted so pompously and with such arrogance in, well, a layby. And it's purpose was to simply house a telephone. I can only think that back in the day, the membership fees for the AA were more than adequate to cover costs and provide a generous profit, so their accountant came up with a plan to spend some capital. Actually I'm surprised there isn't a turret. And a moat.

It now stands as a relic to days gone by, when you would have a nice shiny badge to put on your car, advertising your membership credentials and a key hanging off your keyfob to grant you access to the inner sanctum of the AA box.

The equivalent today? Well that would be your mobile phone.

Joining in with The Gallery and the them of Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Sunday 15 July 2012

365Project Week 28

One of my 365project buddies asked a question this week which made me take stock.

She asked "Why do you do the 365Project?"

Simple question. Complicated and diverse answers.

Some do it to improve their photographic skills. Trying out new angles, new filters, playing with the manual dials and not relying on the Auto settings.
Some do it to record their daily activities, something to look back on and remember what you got up to each day.

For me, it is a mixture of the two. Each photo means something to me, and helps me recall what I got up to that day, whether it was with the children or just having a moment to call my own with my camera. But I hope that my skills are improving slowly too.

I had a look back through my project because I wanted to get some postcards made from some of my images (vain or what!) and I found more in the most recent months than I did at the beginning. So perhaps I am getting better, or I am at least finding more interesting subjects.

So my theme this week is remember each day for the small things.

Five Go Blogging 365Project week 28

My memories this week:
Static hair on the trampoline
Cafe chairs with my surprise hour to fill
Lego replica of Olympic diving as created by The Big One
Look! The sun. A shadow to prove it
Bubbles in the garden in between showers
A new book but a classic
Cheese sandwich as made by the Wee One

Joining in with The Boy and Me for the 365 Project

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Silent Sunday

Saturday 14 July 2012

Saturday is Caption Day

Thank goodness I don't have an ipad.
No, seriously.
If I had one, I wouldn't get to use it, ever. The Big One would have it.
I suppose if I did have an ipad, he would leave the iphone alone though.

ipad laughter

Calling all captions!
Be a love and pop yourselves in the comment box.

Now giggle your way over to Mammasaurus where it's all going on.

Friday 13 July 2012

Summer Bucket List

"here comes summer" "Summer Bucket List" "Five Go blogging"

The children are compiling their Summer Bucket List. It is quite short but hideously expensive. I am informed that this is what will make their summer. Deep joy.

Children's Summer Bucket List:

  • Go to the Cinema
  • Visit Alton Towers
  • Go to a 'real' Zoo (with elephants and giraffes)
  • Get wet at the Garden of Surprises
  • Go to the Cinema (again). (Different film presumably)
  • Visit Abigail and Sam in Spain
  • Go camping (not in the garden).
  • Go on holiday (somewhere other than Spain or camping)
  • Go to the Park (contribution from The Wee One)
  • Go swimming.
  • Go to Euro Disney.
  • Eat sweets.
There are a couple of things on the Children's list that would be on my own - Result. There are more things that would not. For very good reasons I may add. Primarily cost. Secondly, the Mr has only a scant few days off through the summer and therefore major trips anywhere are more than this Mummy can cope with flying solo. Although I did find myself considering taking the children camping on my own for a brief moment or two, right after I'd poured a third glass of wine. This was after I discovered a parent at school was taking her two children on a road trip round Spain and France on her own for SIX weeks. Now that's a lot of gin. Anyway, we don't have a big enough tent so it's all hypothetical.

Seriously though, I have six weeks of nothingness on the family calendar and it needs to filled, or at least punctuated with activity that will entertain the children but preferably not by watching me drown under a sea of crafting supplies. I feel an overwhelming pressure to get planning which feels unnatural, but if I don't, six weeks will have flown by, the kids won't have anything except McDonald's receipts in their holiday scrapbooks and I will be entirely grey.

I've had a mooch about on Pinterest and have found some lovely looking bucket lists designed, imagined and knitted by Mums with way to much time on their hands. Listen to me, all bitter. I'm just jealous that they've got themselves organised and in such a creative, pretty and fun way.

So have I left planning my family Summer Bucket List too late or can I still salvage a shred of Mummy credibility even at this late stage?

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Lemonade Lips

Do you remember giving your child their first taste of food?
And then watching their surprised expression?
How bland was that baby rice!

And then comes all those amazing taste sensations that get their lips puckering, their eyes popping and hopefully not their tongue sticking out.

So how about a lemon.

No, I wasn't so mean to give the Wee One a lemon to suck on but I did capture the first time he had lemonade. Proper pub style lemonade, clear and gassy. None of that fancy homemade stuff.

first flavours

I think he liked it, judging by the lack of lemonade in his glass by the end of lunch.

Perhaps he would like lemons after all.

Joining in with the Gallery and the prompt of 'Food'.

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Terrible Twosday

 or How to drive your Mummy insane in 3 easy steps.

terrible twos

Step one (Night-time):

Wake up in the middle of the night screaming "Mummy, come on" like I've been keeping you waiting or something.
"Carry Me, carry me carry mecarrymeCARRYME!" etc.
Lie across the bed on between your parents using Mummy's head as a pillow and Daddy's head as a foot rest whilst dreaming about running a marathon.

Step Two (Morning):

Wake up late and in a bad mood, thus throwing the morning (finely tuned) routine out the window, into the rain, into the path of several fast moving vehicles who fail to stop and leave any attempt to revive the routine as likely as drying your washing outside this summer.
Insist that sweets for breakfast is perfectly acceptable and all young people should consider this as their diet of choice forever more.
Sabotage all creative crafty activities with wild sweeping movements of the arms and hands, defying previously accepted laws of nature relating to length of arms relative to age and body size, and deftly launching the (open) glitter pot ceiling-ward.

Step Three (Afternoon):

Build a tower with your sandwiches, expertly recreating the leaning tower of Pisa in the year 2045 (estimated) five seconds before it finally topples over.
Throw a tantrum in the library when it is suggested that Alien is an inappropriate film choice, by whipping all the DVDs off a shelf and then shuffling them as I fruitlessly attempt to return them to the shelf in alphabetical order.
Fall asleep precisely 5 minutes before tea-time.

Is it just me? Did I fail the terrible twos exam? What's been your worst terrible twos day?

Sunday 8 July 2012

365Project Week 27

Activity and inactivity.
Or cause and effect?

You start off kicking. sprinting your way to victory or waving flags vigorously through your Moment to Shine, and then, inevitably, time slows down. You play gently with old fashioned toys, watch your raspberry's ripen and your jelly set. Finally you crash, catching some zzzz.

Time to recharge for another busy week.

Five Go Blogging 365project week 27

Joining in with The Boy and Me for the 365 Project

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Silent Sunday

Gold medal at sports day

Saturday 7 July 2012

Saturday is Caption Day

I thought it was taking a long time for the raspberries to ripen this year. I kept peeking out and peering through the rain to see if I could see a glimpse of pinkish-red through the foliage but I just couldn't see any. I could see plenty of green raspberries so I thought it must be lack of sunshine holding up the ripening process.

Yesterday there was a window of opportunity that didn't involve donning souwester and waders to go into the garden, so I took a closer look.

Turns out someone had been pilfering my raspberries! Where once raspberries were, there were only little green stalks remaining.

I would blame Misty but lack of opposing thumbs may have been too much of a hindrence. That leaves either small fingers or mini beasts. Yes there is a distinction. Mini beasts tend to leave a little bit behind. But small fingers are nimble and adept at hiding all the evidence. After adjusting my handbag in the style of Miss Marple, I determined that the raspberry juice in the corner of the wee ones mouth 'may' be sufficient evidence to prosecute. The only remaining ripe-ish raspberry has been left on the bush in the hope that it will reach optimum juiciness so that I may sample at least one fruit of my labour.

That's if the mini beasts don't get it first.

raspberry worm

Can you think of a caption for this photo?
Pop it in my comments box if you please x

The home of captions, Mammasaurus, has more lovely photos just waiting for you, so be sure to go and have a look.

Wednesday 4 July 2012


Occasionally, the everyday stuff can be awesome, enough to make you crack an enormous, genuine smile from ear to ear. Like when the Wee One shouts "I do it!" and tries to put his trousers on upsidedown.

And then the everyday can be a tedious as hell, driving you so far up the wall you've gone across the ceiling and back down the other side without realising it and still nothing has changed. Like when the Wee One shouts, "I do it!" and tries to put his trousers on upsidedown.

Some days, the kids get the playdoh out, let their imagination run and make funny monsters, that according to them, are representative of Mummy before she's brushed her hair in the morning, and it's funny. It makes you laugh. No effort, no pain, no sighs of impatience. Just fun.

Other days, the kids get the playdoh out, let their imaginations run and break it up into minute pieces that migrate all over the living room rug, slowly getting ground into the pile, providing hours of entertainment while you try, in vain, to pick it all out again. Oh and they make monsters.

Some days we have patience and can go with the flow of what life tosses our way. But when, instead, life hurls stuff at us, forcefully, smacking you in the face just as you've puckered up for a sloppy toddler kiss, that's when it stings and you cannot fathom how you can do this day after day.

It's hard to smile when you are doing the same stuff, the boring everyday stuff, the stuff you have been doing, well everyday, for too many turns of the calendar. But looking for the funny, waiting for the silly face, even though it's raining and you are a bit late and you would really rather be sitting in a cafe with a book people watching, watching people do their everyday stuff ironically, that's when the everyday is better than bearable, and surprises you with a hug.


That's what can make everyday special.

Joining in with The Gallery and the prompt, The Everyday.

Monday 2 July 2012

Homemade Business Cards For Pinaddicts

... or how to pimp yourself for no money if attending a blogging conference!

I am slightly in love with Moo cards. Particularly those dinky little ones.
But, when on a budget and attending a blogging conference, what takes priority? Pennies for post conference drinkipoos or pennies for business cards that are going to get lost in the plethora of free bumf*?

I made an executive decision and went for the drinkipoos option.

That decided, I was left with another dilemma: do I bother with business cards that are going to get lost in the plethora of free bumf anyway, or make some, thus losing any credibility as a serious blogger?

I went for the latter.

A surf of Pinterest and the net, shed light upon a couple of options of home made business cards which, as a blogger who sometimes likes to craft, had potential. So I pinned them on my Pinaddicts board.

homemade business cards bornagaincrafter.blogspot.com
Source: Lyssa-Beth.com

homemade business cards
Source: Madalyn_K

homemade business cards
Source: Craftingagreenworld.com

Then there was the challenge to reproduce something of an equally professional standard. Reminding myself of the less than generous budget for these cards (i.e. zero), I rummaged through my stationery stash and came up with these.

Index card

I have absolutely no idea why I would have index cards but there you go.

Next I had to design the card. I used the ever wonderful Picmonkey for this. And then sized it so that it came out the right sort of size for a business card. Trial and error, I'm afraid. After all, the cards would have to fit into my recycled jeans business card case! I found I could fit 3 cards onto one index card using standard UK business card dimensions.

Then I shoved the index cards through the printer and got the text part sorted.

My iconic Misty Moo had to be on the card so people would recognise me, so I decided to give her a multi-coloured facelift. I resized the original image so that when printed it could squeeze into the space on the card, and then copied it several times in different colours (again using Picmonkey), before arranging them to fit onto A4 paper. I did this on a Microsoft Word document. (Cue gasps of incredulity! But why didn't you use Photoshop/Gimp/Photoscape? I have no idea.)

After trimming the cards and cutting Misty Moos out, I sewed them together.

I made about 30 and gave out half of them, mostly to friends! I did hand them to a couple of sponsors at BritMums Live who will certainly remember them in their piles of cards. And isn't that what you want? People to remember you?

Five Go Blogging Homemade Business Card

Machine Sewn Homemade Business Card

Homemade recycled business card holder

Homemade business cards in a homemade business cards holder

I'd love to know what you think of them. Uber cute? Or Uber trashy?
I'm joining in with the Pinaddicts over at My Love Bumps.


*Definition of Bumf: Printed matter, such as pamphlets, forms, or memorandums, especially of an official nature and deemed of little interest or importance.