Saturday, 30 March 2013

Raaaaaah!

This morning we've been walking with dinosaurs. Well watching them at the arena (in Phoebe's case with her hands over her ears).

I booked the tickets months and months ago assuming that by the time the girls saw it they would have matured to a) like dinosaurs and b) not hide their faces in our jumpers whenever something vaguely scary appeared. It was a risky tactic but actually surprisingly turned out to be nearly completely right.

We'd attempted to convince both of them ahead of time that it would be a wonderful experience and they would enjoy every minute. The once in a lifetime chance to see realistic dinosaurs walking about and all that.  Plus, following the suggestion of my friend, we spent time on YouTube showing them how the puppets were made and how they are operated to make out it was more of a show than a nightmare inducing experience.

And do you know what? Apart from Phoebe's dislike of the noise it was all fine. Really good in fact. Wonderful realistic puppets (not totally believable thankfully), brilliant set and a reasonably pitched level of information. It didn't have a plot, but then it was trying to span 170 million years and pretty much all they did was eat so that's fair enough.

The girls enjoyed it. They didn't come out jumping up and down and saying that was the best thing they'd ever seen asking to see it again. But then we are talking about children who still get scared by the animated Disney film "Beauty and the Beast" even after seeing it ten times, so I wouldn't have expected much different. Tilly did come out wanting a book on dinosaurs so it did what was intended, and they were excited by the theatrics which should make it a memorable experience for them.

Negatives? It's too expensive, but then everything theatrical seems to be nowadays. And man is it loud in places - I should have taken the ear defenders. But other than that it was quite magical really. And it didn't have princesses ice skating which made a change...


Sunday, 24 March 2013

Down

I think it's safe to say that I am currently more than a little down at the moment. I shouldn't be because my life is great. But it is what it is.

Along with almost everyone else I know, the Winter is one of the key culprits. It's funny really because I've always looked forward to the change in seasons from Autumn to Winter. Dark nights, wrapping up, nights with the fire on - an excuse to be even more inert than usual perhaps. But as with anything Winter has long outstayed its welcome this time round. As I keep repeating ad nauseum it's "been nearly 6 months for God's sake". Even the fire is fed up of being on all the time.

There is more to this of course, although whether if the sun was shining I would be bothered as much by it all is questionable. What is clear is that I need a focus to my term time life. I need more structure to my day and a greater sense of worth which points to finding a job. But I also love picking up the girls and looking after them in the holidays. Maybe I can't have it all.

It's time to make an 'up' list. It will not unfortunately contain the first signs of Spring, unless you count the snowdrops which are currently completely buried by snow in my front garden.

1. We have achieved the unexpected and actually made Easter hats three days in advance of the submission date. With no tears from children or grown ups. Go us.

2. I have nights out with friends new and old this week, and am currently even well enough to sing on Wednesday which is a minor miracle. Whether I can actually hold the appropriate bassline to Moon River we will leave as a question for the time being.

3. My writing course has come to an end. Now that's a weird one isn't it? I wish to stress some of the people were very nice but the whole thing was not what I hoped for. I do have a clear idea for a sit-com though.

4. Only four more days at school! I love the holidays. Well obviously sometimes I hate them, especially when the kids are fighting and the weather is crap (oh bugger let's get off that topic yet again) but this time they will be friendly angels, keen to enjoy each other's company and mine. Honestly.

5. Tilly is nearly seven. Actually this is a bit scary, but also brilliant. I love birthdays - my children's more than anyone elses. And this one involves rabbits which means I have already enjoyed the shopping bit of becoming a pet owner. Plus we sold our playhouse for only £20 less than we paid for it six years ago. Hence the hutch is frankly deluxe and hopefully well able to withstand the predators I'm trying not to think about.

6. I am very near to finishing a thirty minute radio play and sending it to the BBC. This is by no means as exciting as it sounds - it's simply a submission window. What it does mean is that I am about to actually finish something and it's quite funny. Well it was when I read it through the first dozen times, now it seems quite predictable... Anyway in a few months time I will beg some friends to read it through and record it onto a podcast just for the heck of it.

7. I have a couple of new ideas that might turn into stories.

8. I applied for a job and they got in touch to say there is a delay with the vacancy. Ignoring the pessimist in me that knows this is potentially management speak for "the vacancy is about to be pulled due to financial constraints" they did actually bother telling me. Which either means they are very lovely and have great processes which we can all cheer about. Or that they think I'm worth writing too. So yay me.

That will do. The blues but with a hint of yellow on the horizon. Shame the yellow doesn't include daffodils which I'm sure are there somewhere if I can only dig deep enough...

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Creative Writing Homework


The Seasons

In the Spring I think of washing daffodils, lambs nest-building, birds gardening,

Summer reminds me of sunbathing lawnmowers, barbecuing ice-cream, paddling donkeys

Autumnal days are filled with falling squirrels, the smell of burning gingerbread, dark and damp fireworks

In Winter it's wrapping Christmas trees, chocolate stuffed turkey, carolling snowmen

All year long I struggle with, punctuation?

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

aaargh

I feel ill. Again. Just a cold but grrrrr it's annoying. I've had a day of looking after my youngest child, who was ill this morning for about thirty minutes before school and then perfectly fine all day demanding attention. By four o'clock I was struggling and a bit flat. My beloved youngest daughter laughed at me.

"That's not nice to laugh at me. Mummy's not feeling very well" I said.

"It's not that Mummy. It's just when you pull that face you have a maze on your forehead".

Shoot me now...

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Middle Aged Gig Goer

We went to see Johnny Marr last night. He was great and played new stuff along with loads of classic Smiths and Electronica tracks - fantastic. I do feel a little devilish though so here goes with my middle aged rant about gigs:

1. If you wish to pogo please go down to the first third of the crowd. Thank you.

2. If you are over six foot four please stand somewhere else other than in front of me. Also don't make it even worse by sporting a quiff. You don't need extra height.

3. It's not just tall people. If you have a massive head (width wise) you can move out of the way too. If you aren't sure whether you fit into this category just ask and I'll give you feedback.

4. As if tall and wide heads weren't tricky enough please do not add to my visibility issues by waving your arms in the air or jabbing you fingers in the direction of the band. It's annoying.

5. While we are at it, please leave your phone in your pocket. It's bad enough that I struggle to see past you, without you rubbing it in further by showing me a miniature version of what I'm missing.

6. To the man with a wide head in front of me: I don't believe that "Ryan Home" will have particularly enjoyed you calling him to play him a distorted version of "Getting Away with It" by the Pet Shop Boys. I appreciate Johnny Marr remixed it, but if you absolutely must choose a song to ring during, "Big Mouth Strikes Again" would have been a better choice...Actually no, ringing someone during a gig is stupid. I know I probably did it in my youth but I'm 37 now and I know better than you.

7. And finally an apology. I apologise if I stepped on your foot. You were all very gracious, especially my middle aged friends and the infant school teachers who happened to be there too.

For the youngsters that did tut please be advised that women who have had children cannot drink pints and go through a whole gig without needing the loo. If you attend the gig of a man who was most successful in the 1980s you can expect a large proportion of the audience to fit into this category. Me pushing past you to get to the toilet and treading on you, during one of his less exciting songs, is far better than the alternative. Believe me.

It was good though...

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

5:2 Diet

Firstly this shouldn't be the 5:2 diet. It should be the 2:5 diet. Because the 2 is most definitely the hard bit and it needs emphasising.

I'm not a serial dieter. I am more like a serial diet considerer. I have actively done Weightwatchers and Slimming World a couple of times (but I am 37 so you'd expect that in this modern age). But mostly I have simply considered doing a lot of different diets. It makes me knowledgable in the world of diets, and yet still overweight. For example I know all about Slim fast, The Atkins Diet, and that weird one I bought a book about once with that pretty woman from Channel Four on the front.

This time I decided to do what all good women's magazine article writers seem to do and actually try a diet for a month to see what happens rather than just thinking about it. So I chose one that allowed me to eat cheese and chocolate. It was the only one that could get me past the starting blocks at the moment.

I know this isn't going to be popular with everyone as it involves fasting for two days a week. Not totally but only eating 500 calories for two days a week is really limited. The thing is I've read the book and have a very good friend who says it works so what the heck? Plus I get to still eat cheese and chocolate. Did I already mention that?

Week One, Day one:

I weigh 11st 4lbs. My clothes aren't fitting properly and no amount of supportive underwear can hold back the tide. Enough is enough.

I choose the first fast day to be on a busy one where I stood in the cold and unloaded soap. I don't know whether this was a good or a bad idea. I was busy but chuffing freezing.

I had no idea what 500 calories looks like. I didn't really. I had wallpaper paste porridge for breakfast with red fruit, an apple for lunch and salmon and veg for tea. Other than that I drank half a cup of black tea, some herbal tea and at 10pm a proper cup of tea because I just couldn't stand it. I still had more than 500 calories.

Day Two:

The book says on the next day you can just eat normally. I don't expect it was written for me. In response to the previous days denial my brain and body decided revolution was necessary and after breakfast I ate a snickers and 6 digestive biscuits, all before 11am. Apparently in time you start eating healthier on the other days just because your brain sends you different messages about food. I'm not so sure. I had quite a lot of cheese on pasta for tea too. And wine.

Day Three:

Han gave me a large box of milk tray. See on any other diet I couldn't have eaten half the box.

Day Four:

My husband and best friend were worried about the reaction I would inevitably have to not eating much. "But you aren't good when you're hungry" they both said independently of each other. I tried not to be hurt.

It's no good pretending. I admit I'm like a middle class carb related version of the Hulk. Add to this any illness, (monthly or otherwise) and my husband is very used to arriving home armed with a bar of chocolate and a bottle of wine to combat the green skin and ripped trousers.

I woke today with a painful chest and horrible cough. Sufficed to say today has not been a great day. I have been hungry and too ill to fancy much food. What I did fancy was the other half of the milk tray.

I resisted most things, partly due to falling asleep early evening, but I had three cups of tea with milk in because life is shitty without it especially when I'm poorly.

Day Five:

Thank God I can eat chocolate. So far I have noticed no difference to anything whatsoever except for more indigestion than usual and a lot more burping. But that might just be because I have man flu. Well woman flu which is clearly worse.

The best thing about this diet so far is that I can fit it around my actual life. I went for lunch today with an old friend and ate sandwiches and stroopwaffels without worrying about it. We had sausages and chips for tea because it's what the kids wanted. Of course when I am the only person ever to have tried this diet and not lost weight I will probably have to rethink my approach.

Day Six and Seven

I am reeeeeaaallly poorly. I feel like crap. But I ate what I wanted. Including lots of stuff that isn't good for me. At least on this diet I didn't fall off the wagon by being ill. Although tomorrow could be interesting as I'm still not better and it's a fast day.

Week Two

My fast day trickled by. A school trip helped fill time but it was major challenge.

I went to bed early because I was chuffing starving. I wonder if I'll get used to this at some point? Turns out I've actually lost 4lbs in a week. And I've eaten a whole host of things I would normally beat myself up about. It isn't doing much to improve my mood though. I'm grumpy as hell and am still getting indigestion. Which may still be to do with the amount of chocolate I eat the day after I fast.

The only way I could get through my next fast day was was by going to sleep at 9pm I was so hungry. This doesn't seem to be getting any easier.

Week Three

My first fast day was a struggle and for the first time I gave up. I managed until after tea then at 9pm I ate a Cadburys creme egg. Clearly I cannot cut back to 500 calories reliably even for just two days a week.

What's worse I've weighed myself and I've put weight back on. So now I have only lost 1.5 lbs. in two weeks. This indicates clearly that this diet needs redefinition. You cannot eat what you want the rest of the time - you still need to limit the chocolate and cheese. Which was the main reason I was doing it in the first place.

I'm not sure if I'm carrying on with this diet. I'm only have way through my four week trial and it frankly is very disappointing and on two days of the week extremely difficult. It shouldn't really be a surprise should it?

It should be my second fast day tomorrow but instead I'm having a Comic Relief coffee and cake morning. I have made the decision to give up. This diet is too hard. But that leaves me with the eat less move more option. Or the eat the same and run for an hour every day option which is unachievable since I can't currently run upstairs. I'm off to watch "Run Fat Boy Run" for inspiration.

If you don't eat terribly and can cope with hunger this diet could be for you. For me it's not gone exactly to plan but you never know I might pick it up again one day. I think I have to accept that exercise has to be my answer. I'll go for a run after the cake tomorrow...

Competition entry



I remember that feeling of anxiety I felt at twenty. Too many essays to write and too little time:

“I don’t know where to start”.

“Just start somewhere and get out of my room” my housemate replied daily.

There are no deadlines anymore, which is problematic. Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow? Especially when you can temporarily avoid the problem by making a lemon cake for Comic Relief. It’s not that I don’t want to get on with it; it’s simply the size of my writing dreams and fear of failure that’s the problem.

I long to write a play and a hilarious sitcom, a children’s book and a novel. But which one to work on? I have two half finished pieces on my screen right now.

Seventeen years later and I still just need to start somewhere. Just as soon as I’ve entered this competition…


This is my entry to win an online writing bootcamp from Urban Writers' Retreat  http://tinyurl.com/bootcomp

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Films catch up

Well this reviewing books and films of the year doesn't seem to be going too well. I can barely remember what I've seen but I know there's quite a lot of it. Hence very basic reviews sorry. Although I expect you aren't using my blog as a way to decide what to watch anyway...

Films
Oceans Thirteen
I've seen this before. It's silly and I couldn't remember the plot until three quarters of the way through. Which may say more about my brain than how good the film is. Or it may not. Lots of famous actors (many of them pretty) robbing a casino. It's alright. 5/10

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Ok so it's a kid's film but it's brilliant and I watched it so it's in the list. Very funny, great animation, well written clever and funny plot in which a misunderstood child turns crazy inventor who makes food of increasing size fall out of the sky. Wonderful 10/10

Men in Black 3
You may wonder how I missed some of these films first time round. I have children. Anyway, this film is what you'd expect it to be - a bit of a dodgy sequel. It's daft and has Will Smith in it going back in time to mess with history. But it's not the original. 4/10

Avengers Assemble
Being a member of Lovefilm means I watch all sorts of tosh. This is a film where comic book characters work together to foil an attack on the planet. I didn't hate it. But I can't remember much about it either. I didn't even like the cast particularly. 3/10

For My Mum

My Mum is without doubt the woman I look up to most in the world. I've tried to write something for her for a while and it never seems to do her justice. But today I'm posting it anyway because, well it's Mother's Day and she deserves a smile (especially since it's snowing which will be driving her mad).

I aspire to be like my Mum. My Mum never says she hasn't got time or she's too tired. My Mum never says she doesn't want to go out tonight, or doesn't want to go to work or doesn't want to talk. My Mum never lets illness bother her and never feels the need for a duvet day - it's her idea of hell. My Mum actually does ironing and exercise without ever once moaning. My Mum makes the best dinners and the best puddings. My Mum likes folk music and dancing and drama and hedgehogs. Not all at the same time.

It takes being a parent before you realise how truly tricky being a mum can be. For example she coped admirably with the following statements on a daily basis, and never said what I suspect she was thinking:

"What's for breakfast?" - She actually said "the same as usual. What would you like?" not "the same chuffing things as every day. Make it yourself."

"I'm bored". - She actually said "I'm sure you can find something to do. If you wait a while we can make some bread rolls together" not "you are an ungrateful little bugger. Go and play with some of your toys before I put them in a bin bag and send them to charity."

"What's for pudding?" - She actually said "ski yoghurt, arctic roll, those frozen mousse things or fruit salad" not "I've spent an hour and half cooking your dinner and pudding is not the thing I focus on you ungrateful child."

"I don't want to go to bed". She actually said "Dad'll come up I'm watching Coronation Street" ;)

I'm sorry we aren't there for Mother's Day Mum. And every day I'm sorry that there are a load of towns and fenland fields between us. 

Tilly says "Happy Mother's Day and I love you". Phoebe says "Happy Birthday...I mean Mother's Day. I love you so much".

Couldn't say it better myself. Thanks for everything Mum. One day some of your wonderful will rub off on me. xx

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Crapper

I went to the doctors today. I'm pretty candid on this blog but I'll keep the details to myself for a while yet. Sufficed to say it's just more evidence that as you get older your body gets crapper.

Just before my GP examined me (and told me I needed a specialist appointment and possibly a small operation) she hit herself in the face with a lamp. It was only missing cartoon birds doing circuits round her head. I showed appropriate concern as best I could in the circumstances but I secretly wondered if it was justice of some sort. That's a bit harsh isn't it?

I'm sure this situation will appear on my blog in the future. I can already see some inevitable comedy in it and that should help to squash the negative a little. For now though I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself. But it needs fixing so I have to be a grown up for once. Now if someone will just get me my teddy bear I should be fine...


Monday, 4 March 2013

My Family of Laptops


My Family of laptops

In my family of laptops
No member has a face
I often just see rectangles
Sitting in their place

On a very busy news day
They speak in "mmms" and "aahs"
They look at clips on You Tube
And snort out "ha ha ha"s.

I try to get attention
When I need a little help
But all I see is laptop heads
So I do my maths myself

At dinner time the laptop heads
Return to normal size
Instead they stare at smaller screens
Resting on their thighs

Once in a while they show me
What they are looking at
Often it’s a video
Of a dancing cat

Sometimes it’s a panda
Eating some bamboo
Or once there was a photograph
Of Cathy at the zoo

It isn’t that I mind you see
A little look online
I just mind it very much
When it’s all the flipping time

So I’ve devised a plan you know
To change things up a bit
I’ve hidden all their chargers
That might just help them quit

And as they’re searching round the house
I’ll pretend to help them too
But secretly I’ll find their phones
And flush them down the loo

I’ll hide away their laptops
In the garden shed
Then perhaps they will play
Monopoly instead

Dear readers think about it
When you next pick up your phone
Is your child trying to play
Scrabble on their own?

Put down the electronic thing
Give tweeting a little rest
Don’t update your status
Just play with the little pest

If you don’t then one day
Don’t be surprised to see
Your laptop mysteriously
Hanging from a tree

Just take this as a warning
This window is quite small
We want to play with you right now
One day we won’t at all

Then you can find your laptop
Your IPad and your phone
And surf to all your hearts content
Sitting on your own

For now get down and interact
Make cakes and hats and cards
Or you might find reflection
Is really rather hard.

Just play and they'll remember 
And think fondly of all that 
It's rather more important
Than a dancing cat.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Day Six - Homeward Bound

We got up at the crack of dawn on Friday after a restful night of at least two hours sleep and dragged the girls out of bed. Tilly was asleep fully clothed. She panicked in the night that she wouldn't get up in time to get dressed so did it and went back to sleep. She's so like her mother.

We finished the holiday by getting on the wrong tram, getting off at the next stop and getting on a different one. Why change the habit of a life time? I blame the lack of sleep anyway.

A final emptying of wallets in the airport saw us buying a tacky china windwill and milkmaid (also china, we wouldn't have got a real one through passport control) and more pastry. I think Phoebe was on sausage roll breakfast number five by this point. I still couldn't have a cup of tea.

The flight was great. The kids loved the view. I didn't have the pleasure since not content with a bit of ear pain my body actually decided to give me a nose bleed on the way up so I spent most of the flight which a tissue to my nose and a hand on my ear. Phoebe never stopped talking once.

We located the car on landing, put the wrong credit card in the car park barrier machine on the way out and were charged £10 for the privilege. This had definitely been a costly holiday but it was worth every penny. Apart from those spent on the chocolate sprinkle sandwich and the car park barrier that is. And the crap tea.

We officially loved Amsterdam and would love to do another city break. Of course we can't afford it any time soon so the next exotic destination will have to wait. April sees us staying in a hotel in Birmingham with Tesco Club card vouchers and dining solely in Pizza Express. Ah well. At least there is little chance of us getting run over by a bicycle in Cadbury World.