Sunday, 4 September 2011

Back to school.

Well its back to school for the girls but its STARTING SCHOOL for Eli! He is very excited. I am torn between being pleased he is excited and very sad that my little guy is old enough to start school. Where have the last 4 and half years gone?
Where is the little 5 week old baby that lay in my arms on a 10 hour flight back from the USA when we moved back to the UK? The toddler that wobbled on unsteady legs round the pond at Nanna's? The little chubby bundle that clung to my finger and steadfastly refused to stop breastfeeding til HE was ready at 18 months?
Well he's here - he's just a bit bigger, a bit dirtier, a bit braver, a lot more independent, just as smiley and happy and friendly. He is now my big boy- all ready to start the next phase in his little life. I'm not ready but I will help him get ready, take the photos and smile and walk him to school proudly- then I'll come home and have a good cry. But being a Mum is about letting go and encouraging independence and I would never stop that development. I will comfort myself with the fact that he IS confident, friendly and has nice manners (most of the time!) and is ready for school- so we must have done something right in the past 4 and half years!

Photo tomorrow of my big boy in uniform!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Billy Bragg but no camping

Greenbelt 2011 plans had to change a bit! Our friend hurt her back so they were unable to camp and the weather on the Friday night was to say the least- DIRE!!! We wimped out!!

We drove up Friday afternoon in abysmal traffic but got there and had a good look round.
Then at 9.30 we saw The Man!! And boy is he THE MAN! Billy Bragg truly rocks!! We loved his set- the rain stopped and he was just awesome, old stuff, new stuff and Eli's fave "Tank Park Salute"- Eli sang along- he knows all the words!

Green belt was actually smaller than we expected which was nice - you could get round lots. Went back for the big Open air communion service on Sunday- 10,000 sharing communion is an experience but it worked!

We will definitely check it out next year and hopefully camp!

Meanwhile S and I are off to see Billy Bragg again in Dublin.. we are diehard fans now its true!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

4 Go Festival Camping!!

So The Family of 4 are off to Greenbelt Festival at Cheltenham racecourse!! Beccy is staying home to "look after the dogs" and work- allegedly! Really I think she doesn't want to go camping- probably a good thing since she doesn't like being cold, wet and with no hook up for her hairdryer and straighteners she may need therapy for weeks afterwards!!

Grace is braving the tent- she has no choice- leaving the 2 of them at home together with Beccy driving is just too much for me to contemplate!!!! My reasoning with Grace goes something like this; "You are 15 and you will do as you are told/because I said so/ because Dad and I cannot erect the tent without you reading the instructions!!"

Yesterday we bought a roofbox! My friend Wendy assures me I can fit the world and his wife in one- if Dh misbehaves he will be in the bloody roofbox! We are now "proper hard core campers" because we have a roofbox and a big tent!!!

I don't like to be cold. I have dug out my thermal undies! Dh would like sex while we are away- he is having a laugh! We are sharing a tent with our 15 yr old 4 yr old and have airbeds- need I say more?

We have a camping stove its very good except the 'grill'- its pathetic- it took 20 mins to toast some bread! We shall eat rolls! I have to cook chilli for 12 on Sunday night- it will be  fine!!! I can't make it in advance cos it won't keep in the ice box even with the 4 bags of ice I shall buy tomorrow! Giving 12 people D&V while camping is not an option!

I have 7 lists so far- anal or what?!! I got very upset when I thought I had lost a list- I accused the dog of eating it- seriously! WHY would the dog eat it?!!

I don't like portaloos! I have heard bad things about Festival portaloos- don't think because this is a Christian camp they will be any better- they won't!!

I am VERY excited about seeing Billy Bragg Friday night- we have been indoctrinating......I mean teaching Eli the words to many Billy Bragg songs- he now loves Billy Bragg and today I had to play Tank park Salute 7 times back to back in the car and not talk throughout!!! Tank Park Salute makes me cry ( Youtube it!).

I will not be able to charge my phone- therefore 2 things are guaranteed: the dog will need the vet and Beccy will not be able to get hold of me. My mother will sneeze, my dad aged (92 and blind) will panic and try and phone me and when he can't get me he will dial 999 for ambulance!!! I kid you not! Perhaps its a good job they cannot reach me!!!

I forgot to book showers for us- me bad!!! It is now too late to book showers!!! We will either have to smell/use baby wipes or strip wash in large horse feed bucket (I use it to transport stuff when camping) with the risk that Eli will at any moment unzip the tent at an inopportune moment and expose my boobies to the campsite thus putting people off their bacon rolls!

But its going to be FUN even if it rains- really it is ( repeat to self hourly!!). I have new waterproof trousers!! I will get to try them out and my new spotty wellies I bought in Matalan today in great excitement as they went past my considerably chunky calves- yeayy me!

Tomorrow I am going food shopping and making dh's birthday cake! Its his birthday Friday- its forecast heavy rain Friday! Lighting candle should be fun!!!! Then I am packing the car and loading up THE ROOFBOX!!! All 470 Litres of it!! Not sure why its measured in litres I am not filling with wine(although......!) however it did tell em its the space equivalent of a VW Passat estate boot so that's big!!! If the man at Halfords did not fit properly I will drive round there and beat him on head with roof bar!!

Right off to bed to dream of lovely warm dry days and nights under canvas - if I dream hard enough its bound to come true right?!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Mother's Day ideas.

I love "The Pink Whisk" blog by Ruth Clemens(runner up in the Great British Bake off) and she has come up with an amazing idea for Mother's Day- Cupcake bouquets! I shall definitely be trying this for mother's Day and may even tweak her idea a bit and do something just with cupcakes for my business!
I lov novel ideas and think for mOther's day home made gifts are brilliant because they show you have put a bit of extra effort into it.
Here is a picture of Ruth's cupcake bouquet:

Visit her blog at

Monday, 28 March 2011

Spring has Sprung!

The clocks have gone forward which means lighter evenings! HOORAH!

A busy weekend in London saw us attending the "March for The Alternative"- really good event. B was photographing it for her A level photography and took over 600 pics! My husband, B and her boyfriend joined the march and had a great time - peaceful protest by the people who are really being affected by the Govt cuts-NHS workers, teachers, students like my daughter hoping to go to Uni.... as always there are a small minority who have to just create mess and violence but they ARE the minority and the estimated 400,000 who marched were there to get their message across and did so in a peaceful yet direct manner.

G, E and I left the march and hit the shops(yes, the irony is not lost on me!) 4 yr olds don't tend to find marches very entertaining- Harrods' Toy dept was a much better option! A wander round my favourite bit of London- Covent Garden- made me happy and even though I actually did not buy one thing for myself, it was great to just have a wander and look at things.

It's the little things in life that can make you smile the most: the sun shining all day so you can get all your laundry done in a day, your little one playing outside with a bucket of water for hours, being able to scooter to pre-school and a post dinner coffee sat out in the garden as the sun starts to go down. I love Spring!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Spring cleaning and Gardening

Ok I cheat when it comes to Spring cleaning and have help in the form of Nico- a human whirlwind when it comes to cleaning, she can make shower doors sparkle like no-one else!
Around this time of year I get the urge to dust off the spade and fork and roll out the lawn mower and tidy up the garden. Its too cold to plant but the snow we had (for weeks) this winter has really taken its toll on the garden. To be frank, its a mess out there!

But I am determined to whip it into shape and have repeat success with some veggies. I have an added incentive this year- E is somewhat obsessed with the Cbeebies show- "Mr Bloom's Nursery", with its array of "Veggies": Raymond the Squash, Joan the Fennel, Colin the Runner bean, Sebastian the singing Aubergine and Margaret the Cabbage! So E now wants us to grow our own Joan, Raymond, Sebastian, Margaret and Colin!!

As there is an area of the garden that is really..erm... trashed- dogs, snow and my lack of care- I am thinking of placing raised beds on this bit and growing my veg there.
Have sourced some reasonable priced raised beds that even I can assemble myself so now just to find out decent priced compost(yes I know I'm supposed to make my own- it never works for me- its just slimy sludge!).

So watch this space for Before and (hopefully) After pics!! My potatoes were a reasonable success last year but needed 3 times as many!!
Tomatoes were in abundance- which is fine, except its only me that eats them, so will do only 2 plants this year!! Must try cucumbers too as E eats them like they are going out of fashion!

Let's just hope the weather warms up soon!

Friday, 25 February 2011


So finally after having to cancel the other week, I made it to my dental appointment for a filling. Thought it would be a simple job but no, not that easy!
Needed an extra bit of anaesthetic as could still feel when she started drilling- not recommended! Anyway got the rotten stuff out and there was more than we thought, so the nerve was close to surface- this is not pleasant and means PAIN! My dentist is wonderful and the painful bit was over with quickly. Now we wait and see....... if the pain settles then I go back and have temporary filling replaced with permanent - if not it means root canal and £££££!!!!
So far so good no pain since the numbness wore off but have taken painkillers so we shall see!
NHS dentists are few and far between down here- but having had horrific dental treatment in the past with NHS dentists, sadly, I am happy to pay for good dental treatment and gentle, caring staff. My kids get NHS treatment at the same practice with the same dentist so I hope they will be spared from having terrible teeth like me. If I won the lottery, I would have my teeth sorted once and for all!!

Anyway fingers crossed for the weekend- may it be pain free!!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Finding Nemo.....

and sharks and sting rays etc! We had a trip to the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth. It really was excellent. E loved it and B and her boyfriend did too judging by the photos they took. Sadly last year most of the species in one of the big tanks died after I think some sort of electrical failure. That exhibit is still closed. The rest were open and there was plenty to see. Colourful fish and spiky crabs, lobsters and big stingrays, sharks and seahorses- all these held E's attention and he was mesmerised by the many jellyfish some were bright red and glowed as if lit up from within- truly beautiful.
Having been such a hit, it was great to know that for the completion of one form and attaching some photos, we can return free of charge for the next 12 months! Result!!

Lunch down on the marina was nice too even if the service was a little slow.

On the way home I managed to quickly stop off at Dunelm Mill- oh dear- this was a bad move!! What a treasure trove of things awaited me! Friends had talked of Dunelm Mill  but I had never visited1 I left the kids in the car and had a quick gander!  Fabulous fabrics, beautiful bedding, wonderful pictures and frames all much cheaper than elsewhere! Reminded me of Bed Bath and Beyond in the US- much missed since we returned to the UK!  Better not tell S or he will ban me from ever going there again!! I shall have to make trips by stealth!

Monday, 21 February 2011

The Best Bestest Play.

That was what we took E to see yesterday  at the Northcott Theatre.  "Charlie and Lola's Best Bestest Play" was wonderful . E is a HUGE charlie and Lola fan and I must admit to liking the show- cute stories, short enough to hold E's attention and usually with a good message somewhere in there.

Of course our plans to be nice and early and not rush there went out the window because, 5 mins down the road and I had forgotten the biscuits we were dropping at Church for the Sunday Club kids to ice. Quick u turn and we drop them off and head off- again.
Dropped B&G in town to shop while we went to the theatre. Dashed to the theatre and discovered there is very little parking- we were now late. I secretly worried we wouldn't get in but fear not- obviously expecting an audience of parents and pre-schoolers to include some harassed latecomers like us, the theatre did not shut its doors to us and we found our seats and had only missed the theme tune and 2 mins of the show- phew!!!

The Watershed theatre company put on the production and hats off to them it was excellent- held my 4 yr old's attention for the entire show.
My dear hubby found it hard to follow- he is not subjected to the same dearth of Charlie and Lola episodes on iPlayer that I am! But he did like Bat Cat!! In fact he liked it so much we are now all permanently singing the Bat cat song around the house- until told very firmly to "stop singing' by E!!

"Bat Cat-  a super cat, I really am a super duper super cat. Bat Cat- hero cat!!!" (Just in case you wanted the lyrics!!!)

There were tears when it finished but a quick trip to the merchandise stall cured that- one Charlie and Lola book later and everyone was happy and ready for home!

The play is touring theatres throughout the UK and I thoroughly recommend it to any Charlie and Lola fans!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

And so it begins.....

Half term that is. You can tell because my teenagers, who have long since grasped the concept of the 'lie in"-  have perfected the art of lying in until rumbling stomachs or (more often) me bellowing up the stairs"Are you getting up AT ALL today?" raises them from their dream-filled slumbers. My 4 year old however is completely unaware of the idea of the lie in and therefore anything past 7am start is considered, by me, a massive result!

When you have teenagers and a pre-schooler, half term activities are a funny mix of shopping, movies- Disney for me and 4 yr old and something suitably scary or full of suitably vulgar teen humour for the teens-  playdough, taxi-service, playdates and arguments over whether MacDonalds (4 yr old's choice) or Strada (teens choice) is the most suitable for lunch out!

I have had many lovely plans of trips to the Zoo with all 3 kids, or a fun afternoon ice-skating or swimming together- However these are usually dashed by my teenagers looking at me like I have obviously quite lost my marbles by even suggesting that the zoo or swimming WITH MUM, is a suitable activity for half term - and I understand this, but a Mum can dream! The Waltons we are not!

My husband won't feature much in our half term activities- work calls him away again this week- nothing unusual there and in some ways it means at least there is one less opinion to consider when deciding on activities!

So I expect my half term will consist of B and G hanging out with boyfriend/friends/each other and join E and me if there is a) food or b) shopping on offer- and that's ok: at nearly 17 (gulp!) and 14 they SHOULD be hanging out with their friends and doing their own thing- but a Mum likes to imagine we will all be swanning around together a la the Von Trapp kids up the mountain with Julie Andrews! I do draw the line at making outfits out of my curtains though!