Sunday, 29 September 2013


There is need to be frugal. Recession and all that. Plus there is a vague hope of buying tickets to San Francisco at some point.

So I have a new plan which involves selling anything that I don't need anymore if it looks vaguely worth it. I am trying to avoid Ebay because I can't bear stuff selling and I'm really bad at listing stuff. And how the hell you are supposed to know how much it will be to post a keyboard I just don't know.

Anyway so far the money raising is disappointing.

1. I have a phone to recycle that is worth £28.95 online (hooray) if only I could find the frigging charger (bugger).

2. Most DVDs on Music Magpie (or equivalent) are worth, wait for it, 25 whole earth pence! It's taken quite a few to get up to the minimum £10 but I've done it. Postman Pat was worth more than most of the others bizarrely. Anyway I now have more room in my TV cabinet. And quite a depressed feeling in my movie soul.

3. I have a sinking feeling that my Poang chair might actually sell on Ebay for about 99p. I nursed my child in that chair. Actually when I think about that perhaps it's not in perfect condition...

4. The girls are having a clearly out. The only problem is they will only part with things that are, frankly, worth nothing whatsoever. Unless anyone is interested in Wonder Pets? The other problem is I stupidly at some point in the past told them that any money from their things goes to them. And they are like elephants in the memory department. Arse.

I don't know about San Francisco but a flight to Glasgow by this time next year is looking unlikely...

Every day happy

I am shamelessly stealing an idea I saw on a blog to note down one thing that made me feel happy every day. It's one of those "make you focus on the good stuff" things. I quite like the idea.

On most days more than one thing makes me smile. Some days finding even one is a challenge. But this week has been pretty good all in so here goes.

22/09 Dad's smiling face. And everyone else's too.

23/09 Leftover cake.

24/09 Watching a street sweeping van clean our road. Because I wrote to the council. Now that's empowering, people. You can do it too!

25/09 Getting the hang of Que Sera Sera at singing. You'd be surprised how positive you feel when you "ooo" in the right places.

26/09 Writing a blog entry that made me realise other perspectives on birthday sharing. My Dad and husband are marvellous.

27/09 The glee on my daughter's face at the thought of Brownie camp. Personally I wouldn't fancy a holiday in January with a bunch of pre teens but whatever floats her boat.

28/09 My youngest daughter in her Razz uniform happily trotting off to an extra curricular activity. Times are changing.

29/09 Pregnant guinea pigs who can't fit in food troughs.

I wonder what joy next week will bring!

P.S. Feel free to join in yourself!

Thursday, 26 September 2013


You may expect from that title that I'm about to talk about my children's lack of ability to share.

But no. It's actually mine.

I was 38 last Thursday. Happy Birthday you say? That's very kind of you.

But for every time someone sings Happy Birthday to me, I have to sing it again. For my husband. And my Dad. And probably Jarvis Cocker if he happened to be passing (but I don't feel quite as aggrieved about him). Because we all have the same birthday. That's just weird isn't it?

Don't get me wrong, I know that until the age of 21 whilst I "shared" my birthday with my Dad the spotlight was somewhat pointed in my direction. I can't imagine he really wanted the Mr Happy birthday cake we had when I was five. Or to watch 'Supergirl' at the cinema with four nine year old girls. Or to be woken up at the crack of dawn on his own birthday for, let's face it, about 20 years.

Hang on I'm talking myself out it this, maybe it was a bit worse for Dad than me...

But the husband sharing your birthday thing is frankly a bit annoying.

When people ask me how we met I regale them with this lovely tale:

We went to primary school together, then years later met again in a dubious (popular with students) pub. He was quite good at pool. I wasn't (which at least meant my 20p lasted a long time). He said "Are you coming out on my birthday on Saturday?" I said "Really that's my birthday too". Oh how we laughed. On our birthday we went to Spalding's dodgiest night club with friends and watched some actors dancing barefoot.

Some might say it was fate. I say I'd rather we had a different birthday.

He freely admits that the likelihood of him making me a birthday cake is slim so I mostly make my own. Unless I get to have some of Dad's. Which implies more cake. And to be fair the girls bought me one this year anyway. Perhaps things aren't so bad after all...

But I usually have to arrange nights out and book my own babysitter. Although that isn't such a bad thing for a control freak I suppose...

If nothing else I am absolutely sure that sitting down to discuss matching birthday budgets does rather take the romance out of it all. But then I suppose it does for Paul too somewhat. And god help him if he didn't spend as much on me as I do on him - that's some added pressure right there. And he does buy me lovely things. Hmm.

In actual fact this year was quite special overall because Dad turned 70. So we had a day just for him with nearly our whole family and lovely food. And despite the fact it was his special day really, Paul and I still got our names on the cake. And it was the third birthday cake we'd had in four days so I can't really complain.

Ok I give in. I quite like it really. And Paul is definitely older than me. I mean it's only 12 hours but it counts right? I'll stop moaning. Until next year...

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Stuart: My Life Backwards

I'm still a bit stunned by the play I saw on Saturday: Stuart - My Life Backwards.

I am specifically still stunned by the actor who played Stuart. Fraser Ayres played his character having a disability so well I began to wonder whether he was actually disabled. Goddness me he should have an exciting future ahead of him.

The cast as a whole were wonderful and the staging imaginative. It's a play that deserves to be seen.

Stuart is a homeless addict with a history of violence. How Jack Thorne made him as funny and appealing a character as he did, I have no idea.

Overall Stuart is moving and funny, yet dark. It included that seemingly obligatory section in all modern plays where you are made to feel really uncomfortable in order to be thought provoking. This would ordinarily at the very least irritate me (and has been known to make me rant). But in this case I thought it worked.

I didn't realise it was a biography and a film first. I'm pleased I didn't know as I have it now only as an outstanding experience of wonderful theatre.

Plus it was only £10 - which is ridiculous when I think how much money I had to pay to buy myself a ticket to Smurfs 2 at Centertainment...

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Why it isn't that easy

Every now and then I read one of those blogs. You know the sort. The kind that encourages you to      s  l  o  w   d  o  w  n,  put down technology and other distractions and just focus on your children. I well up as I read about some adorable exhausted mother's light bulb moment and how glorious everything is now they have given stuff up and spend more time with their children. Oh how their relationships and self esteem have blossomed and how chuffing wonderful their life is.

In my weaker moments I aspire to this. I need to do as they say and stop trying so hard to achieve everything in my life. I need to stop trying to be perfect and just focus on what's important. They are so right...Hold on a minute they are telling me to stop trying to be perfect by giving me a lecture on how to be a perfect mum. I'm confused.

The reason these blogs are so appealing of course is because as parents every day we do something that we then feel guilty about. Only this morning there was an unfortunate shouting incident over a skirt. I should have calmly entered the room of the screaming seven year old and found her a clean skirt without using the phrases "you are old enough to find your own skirt" and "if anyone ever helped me put the clothes away they would know where things were" at slightly too high a volume. But I didn't. And then I felt guilty.

Later when I reflected and lamented my behaviour I read a blog entry that told me it would all be ok. If I simply change my ways, be calm and always listen to what they have to say the benefits for our relationship and my children's self esteem will be phenomenal. Good news.

So I decide this time at bedtime I will be different. When they ask for a fourteenth hug to avoid going to sleep I will give them one. When they hold on too long I won't let go and will simply hug them back. Because of course these hugs won't last forever and my child will get the message that I always have time for them. Ah you see, it's so convincing. The blogs have taught me. Let me get started.

The only question I have then is whether all these blog writing super mums have the unusual children or whether it's just me?

Give in and hold on longer is all well and good, but with my children it results in getting out of bed three times, demands for extra duvets, extended animated discussions about Lapland, a dance routine, an argument about the virtues (or lack of them) of Paddington on CD, requests for drinks and constant extremely loud butting in on each other's loving mummy and daughter bedtime moment. It's hard to feel the glow of love when you are acting as a mediator, geography teacher, appreciative audience member, long suffering mother and room service representative all at the same time. We don't go to bed like the Waltons in this house. It's more like the Magic Roundabout. With no-one playing Dylan.

So my pearl of wisdom is this. Don't beat yourself up. Don't read blogs that tell you to do stuff differently because it might be wholly impractical and/or unworkable and then you'll beat yourself up even more. Instead I recommend accepting this:

Children are bonkers. In a good way. Sometimes it's adorable. Sometimes it's annoying. You'll be fine.

I suspect I won't be asked to write my parenting book any time soon.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Mam Tor

My blog is called "Bean Rambling" - a play on words with my maiden name and the fact that I have been known to go on a bit. No, no really I do.

Physical rambling doesn't come up very much I must admit. Paul would set off now and walk the length of the country if he had the time and enough clean socks. I love, but don't exactly share his enthusiasm. Fortunately this disparity hadn't really mattered until recently because the girls couldn't be relied upon to walk to the park without moaning and/or wanting to be carried.

Now, however, we have reached a bit of a turning point so it's been time for me to embrace my inner rambler.

Our holiday this year saw the girls walking a fair bit (I had to come too) and we've done a bit more locally as well. Surprise View, Burbage and Longshaw Estate are quite popular as long as cake features heavily. I have even been known to take a flask, although I get Paul to carry it as it's quite heavy and makes me feel old.

So walking can be part of our lives now. We went today. As a consequence I am flipping shattered. Come to think of it I have considerably longer legs than the children, who appear not to be tired in the slightest. I could fall asleep right now if I put my mind to it. Like yesterday when I fell asleep during Porridge. So why are they still awake? But I digress.

Anyway we decided to try a three mile National Trust walk at Mam Tor and it went pretty well. As usual when we decide to go somewhere I hadn't got enough food in the house so I had to raid the fridge for provisions. Which consisted of some cheese and cucumber sandwiches, a few Cadburys mini rolls and half a bag of dried cranberries. Better mothers than I would have had organic flapjack wrapped in brown paper and a constant supply of unbruised bananas to hand for such a moment. Sometimes I feel like a failure.

On the upside for reference they sell ice cream at Blue John Cavern.

So as a bit of a review: it's a nice walk involving some iron age pictures in the footpath, and (if you download it) an amusing if a little gruesome audio guide, a few bogs to jump across, an eerie broken road (the result of a landslip in the 1970s) and rather a lot of sheep poo. We walked for about two and half hours and Phoebe was only carried for a bit of it (not by me thankfully).

The extra bonus was that we are currently on a budget and this trip out only cost us £5.80 (£3 for the car park and £2.80 for ice cream). Unless you count the diesel. And the new walking boots. And restocking the mini rolls. But other than that it was a cheap lovely day out.

I rather like my family. And the Peak District. And September. Not a bad combination really. I need a nice sit down and some telly now though.

Monday, 2 September 2013


I know I bang on about feeling middle aged, but I just can't help it. It's hard to deny when all the evidence points one direction. And that's not a reference to the youthful floppy haired boy band that I hope I never have to see live.

On Friday Paul and I watched a film called 'This is 40'. We worryingly identified with the couple in it just a little too much. From the aged music referenced, the list making mania, the obsession for need for change and dreams of perfection, the bickering children and Ipad retreats it was funny and frankly unnerving.

It was as I rested back in bed, rosy from the sofa lounging and wine consumption that went along with watching the film (that's how rock and roll we are on a Friday night), that I reflected on the startling similarities portrayed in the film. If this moment was in a movie I would have sat up abruptly and looked at the self help book in my hand ("How to be a bit happier and get a bit more done") and shouted "Oh Shit" loudly.

As it was I sighed, turned the page and before long fell asleep with the book over my face.

The good news is we woke up the next morning and actually did get a bit more done. Paul chopped a tree down and I did lots of washing. Oh god.