Saturday, 30 June 2012


Today all three of us went to a wedding. It's not something we do often, I think in the last 5 years I've been to maybe four or five and one of them was mine. Only one of them though was properly a traditional wedding, if minus the church. Our friends don't tend to do traditional, thank the gods.

Todays wedding was in Leeds, in an old red brick church that was none to remarkable from the outside but inside, quite quite beautiful. There was ice cream, a bouncy castle, giant Connect 4 and Jenga outside and puppet theatres, board games and a free bar inside, stocked by the guests in lieu of wedding gifts. We were also encouraged to bring a cake along rather than them having a Wedding Cake.

It was a wonderful day and completely reflective of the couple getting married. Small had a great time and charmed his way round folks, even if he couldn't be well behaved and quiet at the appropriate times.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Duplo Vs Toddler

The toddler loves his Duplo. Stickle bricks are just something to chuck out of their storage bucket so said bucket can be placed on head to facilitate Robot Dancing but Duplo is BLOCKSSSS!! He just about has the co-ordination and patience at approaching two and a half to get the bricks to connect but not enough to actually build things. He gets round this by scattering them randomly around the room, banging a couple together vaguely for a few minutes and then approaching one of us with an armful of bits and demanding we make a "Rocketpleeeeese" or maybe a "truckpleeeese" Occasionally we get asked for a helicopter, which frankly is impossible with Duplo supplied to make a couple of walls of a house with some flowers outside it. Rockets are easy peasy and we get round truck thanks to the wonderful Disney Cars Duplo my sister bought him for Christmas. Today, Small demanded a crane. 
He is obsessed with cranes right now, they're even outranking diggers in terms of ultimate coolness. Despite the difficulty of the task ahead of us, Big and I decided the least we could do for our progeny was give it a good go.

I worked on the basic design, Big developed it and finally I refined the development until we had this -

Yes, we even added a string you could pull to lift things up and down. Oh and there's our duplo Mater, who is possibly responsible at least in part for the crane fetish.
It's a work of art, within the confines of the materials at hand, we ended up with something fairly accurate.
We had Built.
We were proud.
Small was happy.

Then we tried to play with it and it had all the stability and durability of a blancmange elephant transporter. Ooops.
But Small loved it and wouldn't be distracted from it so we had a long afternoon of 'Crane Mummy! Crane broken! Fix it Mummy! Fix it Daddy! Oh dear, Crane broken! Fix it pleeeeeeeese. Mummy broken the Crane, Daddy broken the Crane! Oh dear'

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

And in direct contrast...

Tonight Small is not for sleeping, Big is not for the gym and I am not for resting.

In many ways it makes me appreciate evenings like last night all the more but mostly what I'm thinking is 'oh gods I have to work tomorrow I need some rest and relaxing time ARRRGH!'

ION, Big has applied his press pass to this year's BOA (Bloodstock Open Air for the uninitiated, a heavy metal festival held in Derbyshire in August) and for the first time since Small's birth has applied for a pass for me also (I get a photo pass, he is journo) His approval is pretty much a given, he's gotten one every other year since he started the podcast - Wyrd Ways Rock Show might as well promote the chap - but we'll see if they let me in. If they do... we'll have to bring Small. Now on the one hand that's fantastic, kids are not unknown at Bloodstock, a pair of decent kiddie ear defenders and we're a go. A huge part of me loves the idea of the wee guy charming his way round the press tent and bopping to death metal in his inimitable fashion. If the weather is like it was the first year I went, it could be whole worlds of awesome.

On the other... it could rain and while wet, muddy toddler is fun when a warm house, bath and change of clothes is a few feet away, much less so when we're miles and miles from home and can't leave because the driver is booked up with interviews. Small might love the atmosphere but also might freak out at the crowds and the noise, he is impossible to predict and a lot depends on how tired he is or how bad his molars are bothering him.

Hmmm.. I would totally love to go though... decisions.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Perfect peace

I don't get a lot of time just to myself. From waking up in the morning I'm pretty much on the go, either busy with Small or seeing to housework (not that you can tell) or planning the necessary tasks for the day. Even when I take a break to catch myself up it's subject to circumstances allowing and it's not usually long enough to in any way relax.

But there is a perfect time that I can find on the odd evening, when Small is fast asleep, the house is pretty much straight, Big is out at the gym or dj-ing or whatever and I have done everything I need to do and I know if I get myself a cuppa and a snack I can finish it without interruption. Oh bliss

Evenings like these are gold, for the peace, for the solitude, for the time just not to be needed for anything.
I may even take myself off for an early night and finish this godawful book I'm reading and am only going to bother finishing because I want to see if there's anything, anything in it to explain why it's so popular.

Yes, I think that's exactly what I'll do.


Sunday, 24 June 2012

Well, we went.

So after my deliberations on the Olympic Flame, we decided that if it was a nice day we'd go and if it was raining we wouldn't bother.
The sun shone today so off we went up the very steep hill to the park where one of the big muster points was going to be. Mainly, I was in favour of going because they chose to hold our annual Parkfest on the same day and our local park is pretty awesome, especially when it's holding an event.

The Flame itself.. meh. The Coca-Cola company were out in force and we did get a free drink each (in limited edition fancy aluminium bottles no less) but Small lost out in getting any of the drums, inflatable torches and assorted other fripperies that were being handed out to bigger kids with better elbows helping them get to the front. Not that any of it was worth having but still, all the money being spent on this event the least my child can get out of it is something to bang. Other corporate sponsors also had floats and there was a lot of waiting while they went past, then a lot of security and shiny support vehicles and finally, a woman in white jogged past with a moth eaten foil cone and everyone cheered. Except Small, who protested at the noise and asked me to turn them down.
Then we went to the park. Much better, they had dancing demos, fencing demos, skate and BMX demos, the miniature railway was running, there were carnival rides and circus schools and bands and all sorts of things. It rained on and off while we were there but we had brollies so all was well and we had a pretty good time before heading off to get Small home for his nap.

So there you go, one event that they made a huge fuss about and spent a lot of corporate money ensure that everyone HAD A GOOD TIME, DAMMIT and one much more relaxed, local venture that was just happening, come along if you like. Maybe it's me and I recognise I'm a awkward cow but I know which one I liked better.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Shopping sucks

Well, I'm often to be found wandering around shops without much complaint but when I actually need to get stuff, I'm not a great fan. I never have been, the pressure coupled with my habit of wanting clothes of a style that no one is making for a price that no one is selling at rather spoils it for me. Add a toddler into the mix and it reaches new heights of suckage.

These days, this weight, I'm fortunate to be able to get most of what I want from H&M, which is both cheap and able to provide me with clothes I'd actually wear. H&M though, provides it's own gauntlet, that of it's sizes.

Women's clothing sizes, at least in the UK, are even at the best of times as reliable and constant as a premier league footballer. When shopping, I know I can buy a size 8 in Next and it will fit, although I think I need to try the jeans in a 6 and see how I get on. In most other places if I'm unfamiliar with their fit I take a 10 and a 12 into the changing room [assuming I'm toddler free and a changing room is an option] and generally the 10 will work.
In H&M though, all bets are off. They're smaller sized anyway but I can never tell what size I should pick up, ever. I have a lot of their clothes and some of them are 10's which fit well, or 10's that are a little big. I also have a lot of  12's and a few 14's that I think are a little too tight. All from the same shop! And because chances to go shopping either without toddler or with a third party who can wrangle him for me while I try stuff on, my shopping from there frequently operates on a kind of short term hire basis. I'm always returning stuff and while I do occasionally swap them for bigger sizes, I spent a whole year reducing my body weight and I didn't do that to still have to buy a size 16, even if I'm the only one who knows I did. 

Friday, 22 June 2012

It's a bit late..

I've been on a much unaccustomed evening out. A friend of mine at work has got a new job in a different department so tonight a bunch of us went out for a meal. Then I had to nip off so that I was home in time to allow Big to go off to his DJing gig. I'm sat here watching 8 Out Of 10 Cats now, just to see how much ribbing Jimmy Carr gets.

And on that subject.... bear with me, bit of a stream of conciousness incoming.

It's not so much that I condone Jimmy Carr for investing a legal scheme to reduce his tax bill to a fraction of what it could be. It's that I recognise that no one, no one at all, would be told 'you know if you do this and this with your money you won't have to pay so much tax' and say 'oh, that's ok, I like handing over a substantial quantity of my hard-earned to the government, I want to pay more than I have to'
I get that, of course I do and the slightly disconcerting fact is that not declaring the money you've made regularly selling your old stuff on ebay is criminal, while sending your money offshore and pretending to loan it back to yourself isn't in the slightest. Working for cash and not declaring it is illegal. Paying a tradesman cash for a lower rate is facilitating an illegal act. What I'm getting at here is that it's pretty hard to find someone with high enough moral ground to properly throw stones at Jimmy Carr's glass house. Even if he chucked a few at someone else's first.

Certainly not our dear PM and Chancellor. Both millionaires and both living lifestyles that don't seem to be sustainable on their official salaries and yet both apparently not subject to the top rate of tax. I say apparently because some months ago when the issue of tax avoidance last made the news, they both muttered to that effect and made some vague assurances that they would publish their tax details to show they had nothing to hide.
They didn't. 
Furthermore, David Cameron's father built their fortune out of offshore tax havens so for his son to stand up and decry some smug, shiny faced oik of a satirist comedian for doing exactly what the far majority of high earners in this country do. Especially if he's suddenly going to realise that and go all reticent, refusing to comment of the similar activities of other, Tory supporting, millionaires at least one of whom has just been given a OBE. We're not even going to start on about Vodafone or Goldman Sachs and how they don't even bother to invest in avoidance schemes, they just don't bloody well pay it and take the HMRC out for lunch instead.

Sometimes I look at the latest leak, the latest U-turn, the latest damn fool statement this shower have made and I wonder what they're trying to divert attention from. I wonder because I'm an optimist. In my optimism I innocently trust that our government is competent really, but cynically misdirecting us and our media like a master magician, always ensuring we're looking at the pretty girl when we should be watching for the sleight of hand. I see their story about leaving daughters in the pub and crow to myself "Ha! they simply don't want the media spotlight on this week's Leveson Inquiry evidence!" and so on.

But then I look again and I realise, no they're just a bunch of idiots without the faintest idea.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Path Of My Life Is Strewn With Cowpats From The Devil's Own Satanic Herd

So I got the news about lunchtime. The bad, easy news. I was not philosophical. I was not resilient. I was not practical. Nooooo, I was -
and extremely so. For hours. 
With reason, it started as something I just thought I'd take a chance on, got surprised and decided to give it my all despite some misgivings and while waiting for the outcome which had, I thought, a good chance of coming  off for me, talked myself into seeing every drawback as an actual postive. So yeah, bit gutted.

But the whole emo thing isn't me. I annoy myself with the sound of my own sobbing so 6 hours was about my limit. Now I just need to get what I can out of the whole experience and then build on it. If nothing else, it's given me a path where I was just floundering before.
I can work on this and for the record, I have a wonderful husband and a great marriage. A fabulous, funny, incredible little boy, a lovely family, nice home, amazing friends and a cushy, first world lifestyle with heating and plumbing and a safety net if it all goes wrong. There is nothing to cry about.*

*Nothing to cry for more than 6 hours about, obviously.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Tick followed tock followed tick followed tock followed tick

Yeah, I'm a little edgy today. Edgy enough for it to be one of those days where teetotalism shows it's drawbacks.
Without getting into it too much, I'm waiting for news. I don't know exactly when it will come - "early part of the week" I was told - and I don't know how it will come exactly and it's driving me insane.
I've been pacing the house like a bored tiger in a zoo and at times, been about as approachable. I don't even know what I want to hear for sure but I have a feeling I want the good but hard news rather than the bad, easy news. I'll know for sure when I hear.

As it is, I spent the day restless, preoccupied and tense and will probably do the same tomorrow. Big demonstrated exactly why I love him so much as I do when he innocently shared this - 

- on his podcast page and got 10 mins of the Scottish Inquisition. "Why is that pic indicative of that caption? Eh? Eh? Can women, especially not young, attractive women, know anything about the bands they like? Are they all vacuous airheads who fake liking bands for cool points or just incapable of being real fans? Huh? Huh? HUH?"

Of course he doesn't think that way, even if I still believe the makers of the meme probably do, and he gets extra kudos for not telling me where to go and what to do when I get there. But I was in dire need of a vent and it was a wonderful excuse. 

A good rant soothes the soul. 

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Not A Cat Person.

I'm not. I don't wish them harm, on the whole anyway. I just don't like the species much. As with any generalisation, I'm willing to concede that individual cats may be perfectly tolerable, even likeable but for many reasons even the nicest cat and I are not destined to be great friends.

For one thing, I'm highly allergic to them. About 15 mins in the home of a cat owner, however meticulously they vacuum it, and I start to itch, another 15 mins and I'll start to wheeze. Even if I left after the initial 15. And I will keep wheezing for days. That's the main thing, but the air they have of barely repressed disdain for the humans they have to keep around the place but can never quite train to a satisfactory level doesn't help.
The crap in my garden is a mere discourtesy detail. And I it's a detail that sent me off one a bit of a one earlier.

Allow me to elaborate as I did on FB earlier.

If I had a dog, I'd have to look after it, keep it under control, know where it was, clean up after it and so on. If I just kicked it out of the door in the morning and let it relieve itself wherever it fancied until it came home again I'd have it taken off me for neglect. But it's fine with cats.
People say 'oh but they're very clean animals, they always bury it'. People are wrong, as my lawn will testify but even the cats that do bury it, they don't exactly dig deep do they? No, they just kick a few pawfuls over the mess as they strut off, nicely disguised for you to find with your trowel when you go to plant out the daisies or dig up the carrots. Yes, that's much better... foul creatures.
People say 'you can get cat repellents, they're very good' and yes you can but that hardly addresses the central problem does it? Why does cat ownership mean you can blithely expect other people to just spend a small fortune on lion dung (and why is lion dung preferable to cat dung anyway?), electronic beepers, hormones, essential oils etc rather than taking responsibility for your own pet?

I'm not actually launching an attack on cat owners here and I wouldn't harm a hair on a cat's body, of course I wouldn't and I totally recognise that many cat owners are very responsible/have housecats/train their cats to the litter tray etc but what I'm actually pondering here is why we maintain such a different standard of pet ownership for cats than any other creature? A perverse part of me would quite like to see people trying to walk their cats on a lead and following them around with a supply of plastic bags but I do know it'd never happen. Doesn't mean I don't wonder why not, from a purely logical point of view.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Busy Bees

So busy that I'm shattered and almost completely forgot to blog! So don't intend to be chatting long tonight.

Small must have known on some level that his Tumble Tots class was back after the half-term break as he helpfully got us up at 6am. Well, I say got us up, to be honest I couldn't quite crowbar both eyes open so just went to get him and brought him back through to our bed in the hope he'd nod off again. Nah, after 20mins of hope inducing periods of stillness followed by mammoth wriggling and the odd foot in the face, he started demanding Cbeebies and all hope was lost.

Tumble Tots is a mixed bag for us. It's a 45min session with some 15 or so other toddlers where they sing, dance and clamber over obstacle courses. Small doesn't get much socialising with kids his own age so it's good for him on that level and he does love climbing and playing with the hoops and things BUT it's at 10am in the morning and held in a dance studio which is really echo-ey and the combination of over a dozen yelling toddlers, a sound system for songtime and the fact that having been up for four hours already and hitting that point where he's not quite ready for a nap but hasn't quite hit his second wind yet and Small can get a bit overwhelmed at times. Especially when he's really enjoying a particular obstacle course and the time comes to change to the next one. He always brightens up for sticker time though and with every passing week he's less and less grouchy and more and more confident, which is lovely.

Now, normally after TT's we hang around in the building it's held in as it also contains a council subsidised cafe and the biggest soft play gym in the area but today we were on a schedule. There was an open day at a nursery I *might* have need of soon and I wanted to take the opportunity to check it out. For one thing, I have no idea about nurseries and up until this week was plodding along thinking I had a good year before I really had to worry about it. Happily, I loved the nursery and would actually consider finding out if I can just go there for a few hours a day myself and play in the sandpit. It's a lovely place with forest school aspects which Small would really enjoy and best of all as soon as we arrived he just toddled off and found the toys without a backward glance. When we went outside he made instant friends with a male play leader and didn't care in the slightest when we went off to view the older children's playgroup areas without him. Well, there were diggers and people building a bug hotel at the bottom of the garden, why would he want us? Came away feeling much more positive about putting him childcare than I had done.

But we still weren't done! No, we also had to attend our local fire station's fund raising Fun Day, mainly because Small has utterly destroyed his 'fire engine hat' - toy firefighters helmet - and we needed to pick up a new one. Small also had a go sitting in the cab of one of the engines -   and we grabbed a hotdog lunch into the bargain. Also picked up a sweet storybook in the shape of a fire engine complete with actual wheels.
The event was actually pretty cool, with stalls and fun fair rides, trampolines, face painting, raffles and a minature fire engine thing that was giving kids rides around the car park, it was also heaving despite the nasty weather but sadly payday isn't til next week, we're skint and Small was really needing a little sleep so we didn't stay too long.
We packed Small back in the car, he nodded off almost right away so we hit the road again!
This time away to Hebden Bridge to pick up our now-fired pottery that we painted on Tuesday. Exciting! Big loves his big splodgey coffee cup, messy and muddy and silly as it is with our gorgeous son's messy, muddy handprint slapped firmly on the side and all their joint squiggles in several colours. He says he will keep it forever and when Small is a big, horrible teenager inflated with bravado and testosterone he hasn't yet learned to control and has friends round, Big will bring it out and ostentatiously drink from it. Love him.

I'm also quite happy with my own effort, which I painted with much less abandon and much more anal retentive obsessiveness. All I need now is a name for the little fella. Errol perhaps.

What was I saying about not making this a long entry? Arg, sleep calls.

Friday, 15 June 2012


Back when I was pregnant, once I was past the 12 week mark and confident that Blob-who-would-one-day-be-known-as-Small was a keeper, I looked for a site to join to guide me through the whole, new experience. Out of the blue, I picked Babycentre. It had slightly annoying, out of date forum software but I liked that you could join separate groups depending on your interests and that there were groups for each due date month. I certainly lucked out with being due in April 2010.

It has been my very great fortune to connect with a stunning group of women. Over the years the members of the original group that I'm in daily contact with and close to has whittled down from a few hundred to 50 or so and amongst those lost are people I would have preferred to keep but given my not inconsiderable talent for annoying or boring most of my friends away within a year or so I'm quite happy. Some I'm closer to than others of course.

We're scattered all over the country, and one or two cases, the world. We keep in touch now through a group on FB, I can't remember when I last visited Babycentre but they are probably the first people I go to with news, or to confide in, or just to have a laugh with. A few of us live more locally to each other and we try to get together even so often with the kids. It's great. Through a series of random chances I have in my life some of the most amazing, resilient, intelligent and fun women I've ever met. And a few I haven't "met" in the strictest sense of the term. I met with some of them today, in Preston. Just a few hours in a playgym but great times, with great people. And Brian ;)

I know I'm gushing but I have very good cause to gush. These women are pure gold and I hope I'll never be without them.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Father's Day

Big deserves a good Father's Day. For all my complaining about his lack of helpfulness around the house and general laziness, it's not a calculated thing. He doesn't plan to leave it all to me, doesn't think it's my "job" or anything like that, it's just that things either don't occur to him or he just puts off doing it himself until the last possible minute, by which time I've already done it, albeit with crashes and bangs and slams and mutterings. He's also not having the greatest time in the world either so I understand he's not exactly springy with the desire to be up and at em.
He is however, a wonderful Dad. There's nothing in his life he puts before Small, no emotion is hidden, cuddles and kisses and love abounds from him and Small adores him right back. From the evening of Small's somewhat dramatic entry to this world, Big has been a Daddy with a capital D. There are few things in my life more enjoyable than spending time with them both together and watching them interact. That's why I call them Big And Small, after the kid's tv show with the big purple puppet and the little orange puppet both voiced by Lenny Henry. If you've ever seen it, that's how they mostly are. Big moving slowly around the house or wherever and being followed by a hyper, excited, microscopic attention-spanned Small, constantly calling after him and talking him into bizarre adventures (in our case, usually involving dinosaurs and diggers). I'm not saying he's the perfect Father, no more than I'm any sort of perfect Mother but he's the best he can possibly be and tries to be even better, what kid could ask for more?

I digress. Oh yes, Father's Day. I thought a good wheeze would be to get Small to decorate a coffee mug for Big, my first idea was to sneak off to a local-ish ceramics cafe place and get it done ready to present to Big on Sunday. I was thwarted in this plan by two factors, firstly that Big is not at work at the moment so sneaking anywhere with Small is impossible but also, the place I intended to go in Halifax, which I can get to by train, appears to be closed. Damn.
Not disheartened, I had a realisation. It would be far better to scratch the surprise element and make it a day out. Much better idea and Big thought so too especially when I threw in tea out at a burger joint too. We remembered another paint your own pottery place we'd seen over in Hebden Bridge and we further reasoned that waiting until actual Father's Day to do such a event may be a bad idea, possibly everywhere would be rammed with families and we're none of us big fans of crowds and waiting. So we went today.

Hebden Bridge is a wonderful place, possibly the only place around here where me with my Wildhearts messenger bag, erratic demi-goth dress sense and eyeliner overload can walk with Big and his wild hair, metal band t-shirt and hoodie and our crazy child can walk together without attracting a second glance. In Hebden Bridge, we're boringly mainstream. It's a pretty little Calderdale Valley town, home to an unusually high proportion of the LBGT community and a bit of a well-heeled Hippie Heaven. Think Glastonbury but without the mystical tourist trap element. I love to visit there but can rarely afford to buy much. We had a wonderful morning in Flying Saucers, Big selected the biggest coffee cup I've ever seen as his item and he and Small set about splodging pottery glazes of all colours all over it.

I picked out a cute little baby dragon figure to keep me occupied while they worked. Being me and slightly obsessive about anything creative or craft related, I was still painting my little dragon when the boys were done so they had a toddle outside by the canal while I finished off. Much fun had by all. We can go back and pick up our creations over the weekend, once they've been fired and when we do, I'll be having a proper visit round the town into the bargain. Once all done and paid up we headed off for lunch. We all ended up eating our own bodyweight in burgers (Big) philly cheese steak and sweet potato fries (me) and fish fillets, potato faces, crudite and ice cream (Small) and finally returned home to spend what remained of the afternoon wallowing in happy repletion.
Not a cheap day for me by any stretch of the imagination, but a truly fantastic one.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Oh Poo.

I have a wedding to go to at the end of the month. Dress code - whatever you're comfortable with. Which is great and it sounds like it's going to be a fantastic day.
I found this great dress, not too expensive, short at the front but long at the back, good for summer but would work with a shrug or something if the weather isn't great. In a fab print of planets and stars and galaxies. I fell in love with it over the internet. Over the weekend I flogged enough of my outshrunk clothes to order it and was quite pleased with myself when I went to them through Topcashback and ended up with about 30% off between cashback and discount voucher. That was yesterday afternoon.
This evening, about 5pm, they sent me a refund and cancelled the order as the dress isn't in stock. It was in stock when I ordered it and now it's not. And they've removed it from the website.
So I'm flummoxed. I'm not a happy shopper at the best of times and the only person I really have the option of shopping with is Big, so Small has to come too and well... ever tried clothes shopping with a man who is lovely but thinks everything looks fine and isn't paying attention anyway because there's a bored, insane toddler hanging off him who has reached shopping hatred critical mass? Not fun.

Well, I'll have to figure it out somehow. It's times like this I wish I lived closer to my sister.

Enough of this, we shall not dwell on the unfairness of the retail clothing industry any longer, except for to say if you find yourself ordering directly from the AX Paris website, don't count on them accepting your order meaning you'll get your outfit. I have baked today good readers and made a rather scrummy beef and vegetable casserole with sliced potato topping (not that Small thought so...) so I shall leave you with some lovely photos of my culinary wins as antidote to my fashion fails.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Oh man...

So today has been a nice day. I'm sore right now and tired so we had a lazy morning and only put on some laundry and had breakfast. D had been up quite early ergo needed his nap earlier too so it turned out that by half one he was up and ready to go out. It was a much nicer day than forecast so I took a risk with my washing line full of clean clothes and towels and we headed off to (yet another) local farm that has diversified into ice cream making and has a wee cafe/restaurant and play area for kids etc. It was fab, definitely our favourite so far that's close by.

Did a smash and grab grocery shop on the way home as we failed to do it yesterday, squeaking through the checkout just as they closed. Home and laundry in (thankfully still dry) then tea cooking. It's Big's turn to bath Small and put him to bed so I clear the kitchen, do the washing up, sweep the floor, make it all pretty then walk into the bombsite living room. Then I'm picking up stickle bricks, clearing away pirate ships and dumper trucks and crayons, then hoovering, running upstairs with overflow toys, taking wet wipes to newly discovered blobs of todder meals stuck to the carpet.

As I retracted the hoover cable it happened. The unbidden, treacherous thought entered my head.

That's better, I can relax now it's all tidy

NOOOOOOOOO! Proof that if I hadn't been already, I'm now well on the way to becoming my mother.

Saturday, 9 June 2012


I like to read. Since I was little there has always been time, even if there was no time the rest of day, to read in bed before lights out. Now, I struggle to get to sleep if I haven't read a bit first.

Big got me a Kindle a couple of Christmases ago and it really is the greatest thing I've ever been given. I haven't picked up a paper book since, I love it so much. Especially as I like to read a fair number of rather large, heavy books. Let me tell you, if you read in bed until you fall asleep, a kindle is much kinder landing on your face than, for example, a hardback of Lord Of The Rings.

Not that I've read the Lord Of The Rings since I was about 14 or so. Maybe a little older. I loved it when I was eleven but I got older and realised it's mostly padding, like Tolkien's primary objective was writing the longest possible book. Also, about that age I was introduced to Terry Pratchett and when you fall in love with the Discworld, you can't really take LOTR seriously ever again.

In case you are unlucky enough not to have read any Pratchett, he's written some oooh, must be coming on for 50 books now, maybe more but I'm not about to go and count them right now, and most of them have been set in a universe of his own devising, on a planet called the discworld which travels through space on the back of four giant elephants who in turn are standing on an interstellar turtle called Great A'tuin.

What he writes is classed under the genre of Comic Fantasy and for the first few books yes, that's pretty much all it was but as he settled into the world he'd made the tone of the books, while still very funny became more and more little essays on the nature of the mankind. Because I came to the books at such a formative age it's a very chicken and egg situation, I no longer know if I love the books because we agree on worldviews or if I agree with his worldview because I love the books. I think it's the former though, I simply don't think I'd have loved them so much if they didn't speak to something that was already within me. People in the Pratchett world are not heroes, are not noble, are not selfless, are not pure, are not shining examples of everything we hope we could be. Everyone is flawed, both the protagonists and the incidental characters. The general public are generally written as craven, stupid, easily led and out for anything it can get. And yet it's so very warm. He writes people as people really are, not idealised versions of them and says 'it's ok though because mostly people will do the right thing, even if it's for the wrong reasons.' He makes you understand it's ok not to be perfect, no one is perfect but you can make the best of the worst of you. His only ire is directed at people who know the worst of themselves and make no effort to be better. It's so wonderful.

Right now I'm reading Night Watch again, it's my very favourite Discworld book. Deals with idealism, revolution, government, how politics affects ordinary people and now much politicians notice and care. Fabulous book.
This is the worst thing for me, when I love a book I really love it and will read it and read it and read it again. I frequently read the whole discworld series in order, although there's so many of them now and I have so little reading time that it can take almost a year to get through them all. Other big favourites for me are Mike Carey's Felix Castor novels (slightly alternate modern day London, ghosts and other supernatural entities are real and acknowledged, Fix is an exorcist) and Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden novels (vaguely similar in pretext, alternate modern day Chicago, Harry is a Wizard, but not like the other Wizard of the same name). Pretty much anything by Neil Gaiman is also read to death, especially American Gods and then, when intelligent writing picking apart the human condition gets too much, I read Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Mysteries, which are unforgivably awful but endearing none the less. Besides, there's Eric and I'll put up with quite a lot of tosh for a bit of Eric.
All this means that I don't venture out to new stuff very often, which is bad. Another saving grace of my Kindle though, is the sample facility. Even if I'm locked in a very OCD need to finish a series, if I become aware of a new bit of fic that is vaguely interesting but untried, I get Amazon to send me a free sample to my Kindle and when I have a break in my reading I'll give it a bash. I'm always open to recommendations but in the past I tended to forget about the book when I needed to read something, at least now I can have a batch of new things waiting to be investigated. The last thing I was tempted to was a very odd book about a megalomaniac supernatural cat trying to manipulate humans into creating him a vast zombie army in St Pete's Beach, Florida. Very, very odd.
Let me know if you think you know a book or series of books I'll like, based on this rambling and otherwise rather pointless post :)

Friday, 8 June 2012

Harrods? You can keep it.

Today I went to Wilko's for a ice cream scoop. Our last scoop broke the other day.
Now, I'm fairly new to Wilko's (Wilkinson's if you prefer) as they don't exist in Scotland, or at least not in Aberdeenshire and for many years after moving down here I didn't really get the chance to wander round shopping anywhere that had one. Then I moved to Huddersfield and could aimlessly wander round a half-way decent shopping area at my own pace without a husband in Smash and Grab mode. And there I discovered the wonder of Wilko's. It's just a shop, the kind of shop that sells everything from washing powder to lipstick to compost to bread to wallpaper to furniture and so on. Cheaply. These days if I want anything, I go there first to see if they have it.
The problem with this is that while I might go in to quickly pick up a new lightbulb for the cooker hood, I never leave with just that.
Today, as I said, I went in for an ice cream scoop. I got one too, it's shaped like a polar bear and it's cute. But I also saw they had these fab pizza cutter wheels shaped like a piranha, it was only £3 so I bought it. Then I saw they had silcone cupcake cases, which I've been considering buying, for £2 so I got them too. Then I saw...
Well, if you're a kitchen gadget freak like me (and lets be honest, why wouldn't you be?)  you will be aware of those nifty folding chopping boards that Joseph Joseph do. You know, the ones that come in funky colours and are flat to chop on but when you squeeze the handle the sides come up so you can tip all the chopped stuff neatly into the pan rather than all over the hob? Oh for heaven's sake, one of these - folding chopping board

See that, see how ingenious that is? See how expensive that is? Wilko had their own make, just the same, for £2. And they had purple ones.
And the beauty part is, it's all 'household' stuff. That is guilt-free bargain shopping right there. Cute, colourful, fun, bargainous stuff that probably no one but me is ever going to use (ok, Big will use the ice cream scoop) and I don't have to feel bad about any of it. Get in.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

I'm busy

I can't quite describe the wave of guilt that overwhelms me when my toddler says that.
I mean, it's funny at the time, when he's refusing a nap or to go out or something because he's "busy" but afterwards it strikes me that he's learned that phrase from me.

Similarly guilt inducing is when he toddles by and sees me clearly working away at something and says "Mummy busy", usually followed by him getting his step stool or a brush (depending on what I'm doing) and trying to help.
I don't want him to be two and aware that Mummy is busy, too busy for him. I want him to know that I'm always putting him first.
At the same time, I want to be able to do the washing up, sweep the floor, package up some item to be posted, clean the bathroom or write an important, time sensitive email without a tiny hurricane ripping through it all. I would also feel guilty about spending every one of Small's waking moments keeping him at the very centre of my attention span but making him live in a filthy home.

The worst of it is that he's at that age now where all he wants to do is help. "Help Mummy! Help Mummy!' he cries as he runs over to my assistance. Sometimes I'm washing up and am summarily shoved aside by him pushing the step stool over (his 'ladder') so he can take charge of the brush and poke it at the dishes while running the taps. Or the hoover, operating the hoover causes Small to be consumed by two contradictory impulses, one to make the horrible noise stop and one to grab it off me and shove it along the carpet himself, except he can't because the suction is too strong for him. Ah now, you're thinking that the solution is to switch it off and let him play for a bit before distracting him with something else and carrying on aren't you? Wrong. He doesn't want to play with it, he wants to hoover up. When he wants to play at hoovering he has a toy one he uses for the purpose.

It's little wonder the words 'sweetheart, please, Mummy's busy' really. It's still a icicle in my heart when he repeats it back though. Must be a Mum thing. Or a Not Very Good Mum thing.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Looking forward to summer!

And yes, I am. This summer will feature our first ever real family holiday, ie not visiting family in Scotland but actually going away somewhere just the three of us. Cornwall :) I love Cornwall and I really think Small will too, we're going to take him to Peppa Pig World on the way and spend time letting him play with a bucket and spade on the beach and we'll relax and eat Rick Stein fish and chips. Can't wait.

This summer will also feature a lot of time outside so cross your fingers for me that the weather is favourable. We will be outside a lot because of sport. We are not a sporty household, we are a geeky household. Big, if asked, will confess to a fondness for Rugby League and athletics but I've only known him attend a game once in all our years together, never seen him watch Rugby on tv and only watches athletics if there's a meet on and there's nothing else to watch. The pair of us will happily watch F1, but less and less these days. We're just not wired that way. The prospect of the tv schedules being given over to football and olympics for weeks on end does not fill me with joy.

The torch is coming through our town in a couple of weeks, we have many, many little signs on lamp-posts telling us to

Line The Streets
Join The Celebration

I don't know, it's running past our wonderful local park, it's at lunchtime on a Sunday and the park is having an event day to celebrate. On the one hand, it may not happen again in our lifetime (or for a very long time) and it'd be something Small should possibly see. The event at the park alone would be worth going to, judging by past experience.
On the other hand, I don't care. I don't like crowds, neither does Small or for that matter, does Big. Perhaps Small should be able to see a possibly once in a lifetime event but he's two and not even a half, he won't understand and he won't remember. Also, that sneaky bit of me that sticks up a middle finger at authority on the quiet really dislikes those signs. Even an exclamation mark would help, or putting the phrase on a banner at the top rather than underneath all the dates and info where it just looks like an instruction rather than an invitation. Yeah, I'm reading a lot into it. Doesn't mean I'm wrong.

Anyway, a fairly pleasant summer will go down very well here, we will play in the garden, we will go to the park, we will wander round town and eat ice cream. We will go to Cornwall. It will be wonderful.

Just please gods, don't let it constantly rain!

Sunday, 3 June 2012


He finishes his tea and plays with his toys for 30 mins to an hour until bathtime. We take turns at bathtime, Big and I and tonight is my go. Small is getting a little cranky and whingey so I ask 'is it bedtime?' to which he automatically replies 'no!' But I go over and lift him up anyway, tell him to say goodnight to Daddy and he doesn't protest. His head sinks onto my shoulder as I carry him upstairs. Some nights we hold hands and he climbs the stairs himself but most times I carry him. He'll be too big for carrying soon enough, no sense wasting what time I have left.
Our last remaining stairgate is up there and we only close it now, at bathtime to prevent a tiny streaker escaping back downstairs when his second wind hits just before he gets in the water. I strip him off and let him run around with his toys while I run the bath and lay out pj's, towel and nappy. As ever I offer him the potty and he looks at me in horror at the disgusting idea.

Then into the water. A brief protest at the shower when I wet his hair and shampoo it but he's over it quickly and we have fun squirting his wash foam between his toes and making a rhino horn on his nose. Then I get out the bath crayons and he shows me his prowess in drawing 'Across!' I ask him to draw shapes for me and he still draws lines, but shouts out the shapes when I draw them. He asks for a flower, then a fire engine and we scribble away until the water turns pink with dissolved wax and he starts to yawn. I brush his teeth and rinse the soap and shampoo off and haul him out of the bath where he's now pretending to swim and trying to blow bubbles in the water. I wrap him a towel and combine drying with cuddles, then drying with the easiest ever game of hide and seek. Then it's jammies on and through to bed for the real hard work. Some nights he trips off into bed with no trouble and doesn't even want a story. Those nights are few and far between and often combined with a very busy day. This is not one of those nights. He's eventually persuaded into bed and we read More More More, a book about a hungry whale which is his current favourite. Then games begin. Another story Mummy, a song Mummy, a snack Mummmmmmmyyyyyyy, tv Mummy, kitchen Mummy pleeeeeeese. He wants none of these things, he just wants to postpone the moment when sleep will arrive. He gets sung Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and as that is our signal for no more messing and go to sleep, he's not happy. I opt to be firm, and leave the room knowing he won't follow me as he seems to have forgotten he can get out of bed whenever he likes.
Downstairs I listen to the monitor as he chats away, not upset just chatting. Then he starts calling for us. "Mummy, where aaaaarreee yooouuuuu?" "Daddy, come quick!" "Help, I'm stuck!" We wait, sometimes he just nods off not long after this point but not tonight. When he starts to sound upset at the lack of response I go up. I give him a cuddle but I know how much he ate at tea time and I know fine he's not hungry, I know if I take him downstairs he'll forget how starving he claimed to be a minute ago and want to watch tv. So I put comfort to one side and climb into the four and half foot long bed myself alongside him and we snuggle up. He's happy with that, and gives me teddy to hug, takes a dinosaur for himself and we quietly sing incy wincy spider and round and round the garden. For a moment there, he begins to settle, he tells me he's sleepy. Hopeful, I begin to slide out of the tiny bed and get some circulation back in my legs. He spins round with surprising agility and clamps himself around my arm "Stay here" he commands. I sink back, loving my child, loving the hugs, hating the cramp and the knowledge that the kitchen will remain uncleared while this goes on. Finally, he seems relaxed enough for my exit and I shuffle out from under the covers and off the edge of the bed, he's not happy but he's not chasing after me either. I ask him to try to sleep, that I'll come back if he can't and he grumpily says "ok". I'm back downstairs again, the sounds from the monitor have longer pauses between them and he's not asking for either of us now. Five minutes I reckon. I hope.

Oh no, now he's muttering about television. I may be up all night. He's lucky he's so cute.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Trains Mummy! Trains!

Today was a sore day, but regardless of my own personal desire to lie around all day feeling sorry for myself, we had to go out. Toddlers are strangely unconcerned with a parent's need to do nothing and the prospect of trying to contain Small in the house while feeling off was not to be borne.

I struck upon a marvellous idea, something that would delight Small no end but require little exertion for myself, a trip to the Kirklees Light Railway! We'd not been before but I was vaguely aware of it. Little wee steam trains that trundle away up 20 minutes worth of track in the south pennines from Clayton West to Shelley then trundle back again. Both ends of the track have a tea room, picnic area and a playground. The Shelley end has a wee bouncy castle that was free to use and the Clayton end has a miniature railway ride, a party carriage, gift shop and duck pond. You can even buy bags of duck food if you want to feed the ducks which is nice.
Under 3's are free, which is good but adults are £7 a return fare which is not exactly cheap but not the dearest thing we could around here either. We took our lunch with us so that was the only spend we had for the day.

Small loved it. Trains are HUGE for him so I knew it would go down well but he adored every bit of the place. Was barely interested in his sandwich because he wanted to play on the train in the playground, then massively excited about the actual train, the toot, the smoke (train clouds!), the journey, the tunnel! Happy boy, as you can see

The tea rooms all have little wooden tables with little wooden Thomas The Tank Engine train sets fixed on them so D was right in about there and we had a few tears when it was time to get back on the train as he didn't want to leave them but a couple of chugs along the track and he was smiling again.

On a warmer day I think we could have made much more the day and spent a lot more time there but it was chilly and Small was in much need of a nap so we headed off and Small was fast asleep in his car seat within 5 mins of leaving, he stayed asleep in the car (with Big) the whole time I was in the supermarket getting our food shop in too.

It's not the National Rail Museum, but it's much closer and frankly, rather better for a two year old train fan than the NRM anyway. We will be going back.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Fat, continued.

So the other day I dealt with the horrible prejudice that exists against fat people. Now I'm going to have a meander around the other end of the scale.

That would the end of the scale which hates thin people and the media obsession with them as a cultural ideal. In my view, they are just as bad as the fat haters. The people who tell you losing weight is a bad thing, that you only want to lose weight because of cultural conditioning, that you should accept yourself the way you are and who brand every thinner woman as one who is a slave to the media, who starves herself, who is miserably scraping a living with no enjoyment of life.

How dare they? How dare they rail against a culture of anti-fat people by simply being exactly the same in the other direction? How dare they call themselves feminists and yet stand up and decry other women for their bodyshape in a way they'd not tolerate happening to themselves? How insulting to be told that you're only an independent minded, self aware human being if you're well padded and proud?

There's that meme that goes round showing a pic of Marilyn Monroe in a swimsuit next to some very, very emaciated-looking woman and proclaims society is sick for preferring emaciated. Well, a few problems there, not the least being that 'society' rather does accept that Marilyn Monroe is a sort of placemarker for conventional beauty and although fashionistas do promote very thin models, they very rarely come up as something sexy and to be desired by men. The big problem of course is that although it's commonly women and  pro-feminist men who circulate the meme, it's highly anti-women. It pits woman against woman, it keeps women firmly in the position of being objects to be looked at and rated rather than people to be considered. It judges, it promotes aggression towards thinner women. It's horrible.

I lost six and a half stone last year. I did it properly, simply by counting calories and exericising. I denied myself nothing I wanted to eat, I adhered to no silly fads, I ate from every food group. I've now maintained that loss for 5 months without a huge amount of effort. I have (hopefully) learned what my body actually needs to have equilibrium. I'm proud of that, I'm happy and CFS aside I feel great, I have a little more confidence too, although not much more if I'm very honest. And yet people ask if I'm eating. They ask if I took pills. They ask if I've had a gastric band fitted. They look rather sceptical when I say no. Can I tell you the number of times I walked up to a large woman I know and said 'hey, you're looking really big, what have you eaten today?' Never. I've never witnessed it happen to anyone else either, nor did anyone intensely question my eating habits when I was big. What gives with that?

I believe I've reached my own personal 'happy weight' the one your body will be if it gets to choose. I believe that everyone has their own 'happy weight' and it's different for everyone. I don't believe it's anyone else's place to tell you what that should be. If you're happy, well adjusted and don't have to eat and exercise more or less than you're honestly happy to do to remain at that size then what right has any other human being got to tell you it's wrong? Why is a woman feeling guilty about wanting to lose weight more preferable than a woman feeling guilty for eating the cake? Who died and gave you the right to judge either of them?

It's my body, I get to say what's right for it, not you. It's not feminist to promote fat, it's feminist to promote women being free to decide for themselves, even if you think it's wrong.