Saturday, 29 October 2011

Luck

Well my winning streak has finally come to an end. Let me explain.

On Thursday we stayed in a hotel (winning number three). This meant that I left the girls for the first time ever. I stayed away from Tilly once...when I was giving birth to Phoebe. Since then I've been with them every night. It seems odd then that this momentous occasion would be so Paul and could go to a pub quiz and stay in a slightly tatty hotel, but you can't look a gift horse in the mouth.

My lovely generous friend brought her daughter over to sleep here with Tilly and Phoebe. She's a braver woman than I am. We left them running round in circles shrieking.

Paul and I stopped arguing about him being late home by the time we got to the ring road. We checked into the hotel, drank warm wine out of coffee cups (classy I know but this was supposed to be a cheap night away) and went to eat in the bar. Not before the receptionist had tried to book into the restaurant as it "gets really busy later". There must be a lot of people ready to pay £19 a main course in Renishaw then.

The bar food involved chips and was cheap and cheerful. We settled in to chatting and listening into other people's conversations (admit it you all do that in quiet pubs. That's how we heard the couple on the next table order Ham, egg and chips without the ham.) This was interspersed with checking in about the kids every few minutes and establishing that I chose that particular night to run out of pull ups. It was a good job Phoebe has a very small bottom and could fit into my next door neighbours baby's nappy.

In memory of our youth we threw some money away into a quiz machine. It was a laugh.

At 9 o'clock we made a financial commitment and entered the pub quiz. Based on my recent pub quiz experiences we weren't hopeful. One sheet was a picture quiz to win a free drink. There were 20 faces. We didn't recognise several of them. I spent ten minutes dredging up the name Mia Farrow from the back of my brain and felt quite pleased with myself. I then managed to confuse Max Wall with Marty Feldman but hey ho. Sufficed to say we didn't win that bit.

The rest of the quiz was in four sections. You can imagine what happened. It wasn't pretty.

So is this the indication that my luck was running out? Oh no. Pub quizzes are a serious business and it's much more about knowledge than luck (although not my knowledge obviously). The worst was yet to come.

There was a weekly jackpot which on this occasion was £120. They pulled out our number. I nearly passed out with the shock thinking we had won. Then the landlady said she needed one of us on the hot seat to answer a question. Ah, more knowledge required then.

For some reason I couldn't recall the name of the famous steam train the Perseverance so we didn't win. As if the humiliation wasn't enough the landlady urged me to stay sitting on the bar stool looking like a muppet as there was one last chance to win. She held out four envelopes, three of which contained money, and one which contained a voucher for a packet of crisps. I'm guessing you are ahead of me already. I could have won £5, £10 or even £20. I picked the wrong envelope. Or the right one if I'd had a desire for an unhealthy snack. She rubbed it in further by then asking me what flavour I would like. Flavour?! Largely I just wanted the floor to open up and swallow me. I chose ready salted.

So overall? Despite an incredibly uncomfortable bed we had a great night. And breakfast was pretty good too, (and free which made it taste even nicer). But by then we were keen to get home to see what they were up to. They were hanging monkeys on a tree when we got home. My luck may have run out but my family is brilliant. They aren't getting their hands on the crisps though...

Friday, 21 October 2011

Winning Stuff

When people win something they always say "Wow, I never win anything!".

I said that a few weeks ago, along with a few "bloody hell(s)". My daughters weren't in the same room I might add.

I was quite excited because I won £300 worth of Boden vouchers. Paul's initial reaction was that it wasn't real. I found this thought thoroughly depressing (and on consideration highly likely), but for once it actually wasn't spam, but a genuine £300 Boden voucher. Apparently I'd won by joining Dorset Cereal's mailing list (evidently one has to look chic while eating muesli) and subsequently being picked out of an electronic hat. I had been trying to win a campervan but hey ho.

I was seriously chuffed. We'll set aside for now the fact that you can't exactly buy a lot with £300 worth of Boden money. About one pair of boots and a cardigan or 84 pairs of socks if you're interested. But even so £300 is quite a prize.

Then I entered a small raffle and won a night in the Sitwell Arms in Renishaw. Admittedly I can't go on any useful kind of night and I have to have used it within about a fortnight but that's not the point.

People kept telling me that winnings come in threes. Today on Twitter the theatre asked a very quick easy question, I tweeted back and immediately won tickets to see Lungs at the Crucible on Monday. Ok I'm guessing that it wasn't exactly a sold out show but still. It's a brand new show directed by Richard Wilson and since we spent a small fortune last week on comedians and babysitters not one I would have got to see in a hurry.

Whilst writing this I've also remembered I won a puppet on a facebook page not so long ago. And a gym pass and a bottle of wine in recent small raffles.

So I've decided there must be some kind of strategy to this competition thing.

1. I will continue to join mailing lists if there is a semi-decent prize, especially if I stumble across the page and prize as surely that means the odds are better. I may not bother to enter if it's an excellent prize - hardly seems worth the effort but then again it might be free.

2. I will continue to enter raffles at the small events I do (if I have actually made a small amount of profit at the event of course). I am much more likely to enter if the prizes are a little bit crap and the number of event attendants is low as the odds will be considerably better. Even though I may not actually want the prize.

3. I will keep a very close eye on Twitter and to a lesser extent Facebook, especially local companies.

4. I will still not buy a lottery ticket.

Please be assured. This isn't the start of a surefire gambling system that will send me into a spiral of debt and substance abuse. Well not unless I make a lot of profit selling books. Maybe by next year I'll be standing at the school fayre buying tonnes of tombola tickets in the hope of winning the Babycham.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

While we're at it

Yesterday I poured soup in a bowl then put it in the cupboard to cook.

Paul buttered both sides of his toast this morning.

Concerning.

Scarecrow Refusal

Ok I know all children are different. I am very aware of specifically how different my girls are, but this morning highlighted it further.

Phoebe was supposed to be a scarecrow this morning in the Harvest assembly. As such I sourced a checked shirt, jeans and a floppy hat as requested by the preschool. I attempted to dress Phoebe in the costume.

Phoebe went ballistic saying she didn't want to be a scarecrow. Then saying she didn't want to go to school.

Paul was concerned this was about her not wanting to be in the limelight. It now transpires it was almost entirely about the fact that the shirt a) belonged to a boy and so therefore b) was not a pretty frock. She also refused to wear the hat. I suspect had it been a tiara she'd have gone with it.

There are two things to note here. The first is how did I managed to bring up someone so girly? She's always wanted to wear a dress for as long as I can remember. She would prefer it to be green. She knows her own mind alright. I actually had to buy dresses specifically for her at her request because we hardly had any for Tilly.

Secondly while Tilly follows instruction, request and rules, Phoebe, (on the whole) does not, as evidenced by the following:

Phoebe (Standing by the treat jar): "Can I have a sweet?"
Me: "No Phoebe your dinner is ready"
Phoebe: "Please can I have a sweet?"
Me: "No Phoebe your dinner is on the plate"
Phoebe then takes sweet out of the treat jar in front of me and puts it in her mouth. Phoebe then spends some time on the naughty step.

Don't get me wrong differences are cool. Differences make the world interesting. It's just that I'm so not used to defiance. It's going to be an interesting ride.

Dave Gorman

I was fully expecting our night out on Friday to be just as ridiculous as the previous one but the curtains stayed on the wall and Tilly accepted that now wasn't the time to continue putting her books in alphabetical order. All very uneventful thankfully.

I'd love to review Dave Gorman's show properly but I just can't. Largely because any thorough review would be full of "spoiler alerts" the use of which just annoy me frankly, about as much as I imagine they would annoy him.

I will say that he was hilarious and didn't let me down on the use of technology we've all come to expect. I absolutely loved Googlewhack which we recently watched on DVD, but had not yet seen him live. His current show loses a little from not having a journey associated to it I think, but I still laughed so hard my face hurt.

Of course it also helps that I think he is lovely. My favourite people are mostly those who:
a) make me laugh, and
b) I imagine would be nice to have a pint with.
Dave Gorman fits into this perfectly. If I find out he's really horrible I'll be hugely disappointed.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Going Out - Part One

We had tickets to see Jeremy Hardy last night. It's a rare occurrence for Paul and I to actually leave the house at the same time and end up at the same destination so we were looking forward to it.

The evening started exactly as expected with Paul being a bit later than usual and Phoebe finding the need to start a 48 piece jigsaw, naked, while I was trying to hoover the floor (because in my head I need to impress my 18 year old babysitter with my housecleaning prowess).

I strongly suggested the girls should help me tidy their bedroom so Amara could actually cross the floor without falling headlong into the dolls house. There was a bit of enthusiastic tidying so I left them to it. Whilst I was hastily applying mascara I heard two things that concerned me:

1. "I know you said put the books on the shelf Mummy, but I think it would be better if the books were in alphabetical order"
2. "Aaaaaaaaaargh!"

I went into their room to find:
1. All the girls books all over the floor while Tilly attempted to find all the ones beginning with A and,
2. Phoebe screaming under the curtains and curtain rail which were now in a heap on the floor. Oh brilliant.

Once comforted Phoebe went with Tilly and ran around in circles in the living room while the babysitter looked bemused. I convinced Paul that we should put the curtains back up before leaving the house and managed it with only a little swearing under our breath. I imagine the babysitter thought we were a bit odd.

We left eventually and went to town. Fortunately we were early enough for a drink, but unfortunately we chose the nearest bar to the City Hall and ended up in Yates. Which seemingly has poles to dance round. Thank goodness it was early. We left feeling a bit grubby and ancient.

We then went into the gig and in contrast were the youngest people there. There were to be quite a few jokes about his Radio 4 demographic.

Just before he came on the five women behind us decided to have some kind of picnic. The ring leader produced multipacks of chocolate. Specifically "a Bounty or a Snickers?" I realised I was on the verge of tutting a pensioner (or at the very least giving her a Paddington hard stare). Then she managed to turn my anger into amusement by asking her friends if they "do Activia?" and offering round yoghurts. Now that's something I've never experienced before.

And the gig? Very funny. I saw Jeremy Hardy about 18 years ago. He is still brilliant and of course just as left wing. I was secretly hoping that an audience member had brought along an unsuspecting Tory voter for a laugh. If there were any in the audience they certainly wouldn't have dared mention it. There is something extremely cathartic about mass appreciative verbal Conservative bashing.

We are going out again on Friday. More comedy. Probably before and after we leave the house.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Running

As well as two birthday parties and a book stall over the weekend we had to fit in Paul running the Great Yorkshire Run.

This would have been OK apart from the fact that I hadn't realised quite how disorganised he was on the actual morning as I was too busy wrapping a rabbit up and hastily replacing party clothes with fancy dress costumes due to my own disorganisation.

Fortunately despite the mountain of dirty washing in the wash basket he did find a clean running top to add to his brand new running shorts bought the day before. The new shorts were at my suggestion or he would have been running in shorts with fence paint on the leg.

Then he asked me for safety pins. Apparently he wanted eight. He had to make do with 3 safety pins and a nappy pin from 1975.

Anyway we made it to town only a couple of minutes later than planned and Paul disappeared into the crowds of runners. He did a joint warm up which I was disappointed to learn didn't feature Mr Motivator or Mad Lizzy. Apparently stretching sideways in a crowd of several thousand is tricky.

Then he set off running. And Dad and I wandered about in town looking for a copy of the Guardian. I did toy with the idea of getting on the tram and trying to spot him but thought better of it. I must admit I felt a bit guilty as we window shopped, especially since we'd already had a coffee and an almond croissant and he was knackered and drinking powerade. But then it was all his own idea.

We decided to go and try and watch him finish and after several minutes he shot past ta ludicrous speed as he sprinted to the finish. I screamed quite a lot. It made me feel a bit like a groupie.

He finished the race in 50 minutes, 50 seconds and he managed not to be sick. Then it took a while to find him amongst the lions, superheroes and more normally dressed knackered people. But we did find him and even managed to meet his equally batty friends who had run the race too. As an added bonus the tin foil blanket seems to make quite a good space ship den roof.

So for the last time here's my plea for you to sponsor him. He's been such a star these last few months and is taking a breather now I think. Well he hasn't mentioned the next thing yet and I'm not asking him what it is.

Monday, 10 October 2011

All tomorrow's parties...and the next weekend...and the next

My children have a much more hectic social life than me. I didn't see it coming to be honest. They used to tag along with whatever we were doing (albeit it in a have to fit a nap in, have food in your bag to avoid meltdown sort of a way). Now they have their own social life and I seem to be managing their diaries. Which since I can't manage my own is a bit much. I'm slightly dubious PA to two children under 6. I think a reference would be doubtful.

The parties are coming thick and fast now. They are all very exciting. So far this term we have had one involving holding an owl at the butterfly house, one with an impressive and (judging by the children's reactions hilarious) magician and a playball party which they loved (and the children slept extremely well after this one). In a couple of weeks Tilly will be going to a pony riding party. It is a bigger girls party and anyway Phoebe would hate it (her last encounter with a donkey didn't go well) but she'll still need a hefty alternative bribe to avoid her going stratospheric.

The trouble is I'm getting less and less organised as the weeks go by. I nearly sent the girls without suitable fancy dress for the Peter Pan party on Sunday until I re-read the invitation at the last minute. I knew that blessed crocodile costume would come in handy sometime. If the invitations keep stacking up I shall, no doubt, end up getting it even further wrong. Like sending them in armbands to a soft play party or thinking they are due to paint a pot when they are actually supposed to be paintballing.

I just hope I get an invitation to a party soon to shift the balance. It doesn't need to involve holding a hedgehog but holding a gin and tonic would be a start. Anyone?

Thursday, 6 October 2011

I who know nothing

I went out on Wednesday. Actually I went out once last week too. My social life must be hotting up.

As well as going out I also went back in time about fourteen years and went to a pub quiz. We used to go to a music pub quiz when we were 21 and often knew some answers and sometimes even won beer. To be fair I think that was mostly due to my other team members but it was so long ago I'll claim joint glory.

Anyway this wasn't a music quiz. It was a random general knowledge type quiz with a smattering of local knowledge questions.

It transpires that we don't know:
1. The capital of Vietnam (despite one of my team having been there)
2. Which country has a new tax on high fat food (despite me watching it on the news that morning)
3. Who the MP for Sheffield Central is (despite him actually being a friend of a team member)

Less surprisingly we also knew nothing about Super League, football, dart boards and fairly obscure Beatles lyrics. And a host of other things.

We got 5 right and 15 wrong. I expected to be no help, and I wasn't. But to be honest it was hard to be embarrassed when we were all fairly hopeless. The extra positive bit was that I didn't talk about the children all night (just a little bit), and I laughed a lot. I did however swear at one point and was a little frightened because the black board read "If you want to swear, drink elsewhere"/ Fortunately no-one lynched me.

It seems we will be going back. Someone won last week with 11 out of 20 so for some reason my friends think it's within the realms of possibility that we could be victorious. I have my doubts.

My friend feels that we all need a specialist subject for next week and set us homework to read different sections of the newspaper. I thought she was kidding. Then I met her this morning as 9.15am and she said she'd finished reading today's newspaper. Very commendable and a bit mad. But also, how the hell did she manage to read an actual newspaper AND feed her three children and get them to school and playgroup before 9.15am?

Monday, 3 October 2011

Rant

I like my blog but there are things I can't put on it. Which is frustrating since part of the reason for having it is to provide me with a way of venting my emotions.

In the interests of my sanity, however I need to rant somewhere. So here, in as anonymous a way as possible, is my rant about just some of the things that are making me mad.

Five and six year old girls can be frankly horrible. Fortunately Tilly isn't too upset by recent events but I am. Neither of my girls are of course perfect, but I'd like to think they wouldn't ignore other children to be mean, or say things that are obviously meant to be hurtful.

If a particular child teases my daughter again for not being about to say her "r"s it will be dealt with. The temptation to tell Tilly what to say in retaliation is immense but I'm trying to control myself.

And while we are on the subject of school (albeit a much more minor point) we do actually have a school uniform. It doesn't include red tops, green dresses, leggings with Hello Kitty on, red shoes, gold crocs or sandals.

There is also some specific feedback for teachers. Which I don't feel I can write.

Do you know what I don't feel better. That's censorship for you...