Monday, 31 March 2014

#100happydays Day Six

I have new shoes. They are spotty. They are appropriate for children probably but they make me smile, so there you go.

I've finally been through my clothes and thrown stuff away. I have very little left and not a great deal of cash to replace them.

But I have new spotty shoes.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

#100happydays Day Five

Bit of a turning point today I think. I took the girls to town on my own because Paul is snowed under and they helped me buy clothes and shoes for myself, had fun at the cycling display, printed a picture with a bicycle, bought books and we had lunch - all without getting cross with each other or me. I feel like they are growing up.

We came home and watched Mamma Mia. It was extremely difficult to explain how someone couldn't know who the father is. They liked the songs though.


Saturday, 29 March 2014

#100happydays Day Four

Today was Tilly's birthday outing to the theatre so my #100happydays picture is of Tilly's friends and the cast of the show.

It has been a bit of a struggle this year. She wanted to see a show but everything in Sheffield was too grown up, the wrong date, too avant garde or too expensive. I toyed with the idea of 'Fame' but decided she could wait a little longer before being exposed to teenage angst about alcohol, boyfriends and drugs.

We settled on 'Kidnapped' which is the Robert Louis Stevenson novel. It said an 'adventure for the all the family' and 'appropriate for age 6+'. Now I know some bright six year olds with wonderful attention spans, but never yet have I met one who could follow a plot about Jacobean politics.

Twenty minutes in I starting wondering whether I should have chosen Fame.

Fortunately these girls are the most amazing children in the world ever. They watched, only jiffled a bit (so little that members of the audience actually complimented me on their behaviour at the end), and took quite a lot in. They loved the swordfighting and meeting the cast at the end. They asked remarkable questions...although one did ask who "Charlie" was which made me wonder whether I should have given them a Scottish history lesson in the interval. The actors covered up quite well the fact that clearly this bit of knowledge was pretty pivotal to understanding what the heck was happening.

So the play (which was great despite being somewhat challenging), plus ice cream and giggling in the interval, questions with the cast at the end and the chance to carry a sword and everyone seemed happy.  Plus it has a bloke out of Take the High Road in it so I could briefly relive my essay avoiding youth in my head. It turned out to be a great afternoon.

I was truly astonished by these girls. She has a great bunch of friends and I enjoyed being with them. I even enjoyed driving five of them home - I never thought I would write that sentence.

So this was my fourth happy day. Now I'm knackered.

#100happydays Day Three

Day three of #100happydays but it's actually day four and I'm behind putting it on the blog already. I can sense this is going to get messy.

Bit of a rubbishy day. Not feeling very smiley. It was a toss up between this twenty minutes of relaxed happy calm, a photo of the Matilda programme because the girls sang "my undercarriage doesn't feel quite normal" at breakfast, and a photo of Phoebe's flashing shoes which flashed when I opened the shoe cupboard.

Not exactly a hoopla but I suppose to have three to choose from is a good thing. I picked this one because, well, she is lovely.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

#100happydays Day Two

#100happydays Day Two

I left work early to go into school and eat with Phoebe for Mother's day. I took cake, and this is the best kind because they make and sell it in Fusion cafe, part of my fantastic work place. We ate cake and did hop scotch (thanks heavens for TVT) before the heavens opened and we went inside where we watched them dancing. No tears when I left either. Not at all bad.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

#100happydays Day One

My friend suggested doing #100 Happy Days. Basically you take and post a picture a day, for 100 days, of something that made you happy.

At the moment I am quite grumpy. I will inevitably find it extremely hard to post only happy things without referencing something annoying. This is evidenced by my first picture which is a very happy thing but where I still manage to mention a not happy thing. I must try harder.

Anyway here goes.

Day One: An easy first day for #100happydays because it was a bonus strike day for my little one. She got to spend it with her friend so there were no tears unlike most school days, only smiles. Happy Phoebe, happy me. Plus I'm extra chuffed that I have such lovely friends who help me out when I'm stuck for childcare. Thanks Becky.

Monday, 17 March 2014


You know that thing about it being like riding a bike? Half true.

I think it's been about 15 years since I rode a bike.Well apart from a brief weekend at Centre Parcs four years ago where I was left with a numb arse and no real desire to repeat the experience.

It's certainly been forever since I rode on a road. Largely because traffic in Sheffield is mental.

But car parking charges, petrol and my lack of waistline made me rethink. My husband cycles. People in Sheffield cycle. What's wrong with me?

I bought a bike.

I stood for thirty minutes in a well respected bike shop in Sheffield with cash in my pocket. I was completely ignored for the whole time while both of the only two members of staff on a Saturday afternoon discussed a very expensive bike with a customer who was clearly going to go home and try and buy one on Ebay. The difference was she cared about suspension and gave them the opportunity to show off. I wanted the cheapest bike they sold that would get from a to, well, b. I'm not trying to enter the Tour De France or anything.

So I took my money to Edinburgh Bicycle Company. It only took five minutes there before someone realised I needed help and I rather bluntly stated that I had £300 and five minutes to buy a bike to get me to work. I bought the cheapest bike in the shop. Everyone was happy.

It was only when I went to pick it up  a few days later that the commitment I had made hit me. This wasn't going to be all that easy. Obviously I knew I wouldn't have forgotten how to ride a bike, but I live off Abbeydale Road and even at 2.30pm the traffic is challenging.

I wobbled round the car park and cycled to the curb. I got off and walked it quite a long way up the road. I waved at some staff from work playing football and tried to pretend there was some reason why I had a bike but chose not to ride it. I was unconvincing.

Around the corner I braced myself and pulled out. Apparently I had gears. It was just a shame the one I was in was not the best for setting off in traffic. I tried to look like I knew what I was doing and deceived no-one. There is no bus lane at 2.30 so I wobbled and weaved around parked cars in fourth gear while frantically trying to work out how to change down and what on earth that other lever was for.

I got off again and crossed the road at the pedestrian crossing.

I didn't feel terribly confident so it was a while before I got back on the bike and set off up Carterknowle Road. Which is far too steep. I got off again.

A bin lorry filled the road so I decided to cycle on the pavement. Which is clearly illegal. I ran out of puff. I got off and walked home.

But you know what? You have to start somewhere. In my case I started half a mile from my house and mostly walked.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

London - Last Day

So it was nearly over - our little holiday. Fortunately the best was yet to come.

In the morning it nearly fell over a bit. we went to see Westminster and the sky was blue. The London Eye was tempting. The price and queue were not. Eveutally we plumped for a river cruise down the Thames which was still a bit pricey and a bit cold for Phoebe who is nesh at the best of times. But it was witty and informative and we always love a boat trip.

And then Matilda. I can't tell you how brilliant this musical is. The girls adored it. I adored it. Even Paul who hates musicals adored it. The cast was amazing, as is the set. We've had it on repeat in our kitchen and our heads ever since.

We had one final blow out on a meal at the train station and the girls continued to be amazing doing stickers, colouring and reading. Everything is so much easier now they are older.

A late train and we were home. All in all a fab few days.

London - Day Three

As the days slip past on holiday I always start to feel the pressure. It's entirely a problem I invent for myself. The need to ensure we experience the place we've visited with a balance of history, culture, fun - made worse if it's a flipping mini break. I am a bit of a nightmare.

So we have done animals, museum, food, movie on the first days. History it is then. Really going on holiday with me is fun.

I went to the Tower of London when I was little. I remember it vaguely and there is photographic proof of me in a T-shirt covered in road signs.

It's such a brilliant place. I'm far from a monarchist but we got through the crown jewels bit without me spending much time thinking about that and focused instead on Gangsta Granny. We spent a bit of time dodging school parties round the white tower, and didn't hang about in the torture room for obvious reasons. We chatted to a beefeater and discovered the royal mint. It's such a great place.

After lunch there was more tube travel and walking past iconic sites. The kids were probably bored of me by now. They quite liked the wobbly bridge though and I got overexcited because we passed Joe Thomas from the Inbetweeners. In true celebrity spotting style I didn't know his name and Paul had no clue who I was talking about.

Then it was the Tate Modern. I can highly recommend going with children. It makes you all look at art with innocence. It is also a bit embarrassing. I made the mistake of asking them to find one piece they loved and one piece they didn't in each room. Limiting themselves to one they disliked was a challenge. I'm pleased none of the artists were there.

It made no sense to them and perfect sense.

Then it was back to the hotel for a picnic tea on the bed spread and some telly. Followed by Paul and I sitting in the actual bathroom this time while the kids eventually dropped off and Paul banging his head on a glass shelf.

Monday, 3 March 2014

London - Day Two

Breakfast was free and nice. There was no system and we were surrounded by defeated business men and people who stuffed the wrong kind of bread in the toaster but other than that it was a cracking start. Croissants, coffee and smiley excited children.

We stopped on the way the buy sandwiches. All I'm going to say is that Subway is like a sandwich making equivalent of Aldi. We also bought snacks from a health food shop. The healthy covered in chocolate type to keep us going for the trek up Primrose Hill.

The sun shone, the playground was quiet, the children were smiling. The benefits of half term being out of kilter with the rest of the country are vast. London Zoo was great fun and the stars seemed to be aligned. Tilly got chosen to dress up as a penguin. The sun shone as we ate our complicated sandwiches outside. The owl was enticed to stand on Paul's head. We turned up at the giraffes during impromptu feeding time. Hell even the reptiles moved more than usual.

We walked to the tube through Regents Park and ate the speediest Tesco voucher subsidised Zizzi meal in history to get to the Lego Movie on time. Which is, for want of a better word, awesome. Unlike the singing that has continued from the children ever since...

We used a new tactic and put the kids in our bed so we could watch TV and move them later. We sat in the doorway awhile they dropped off with Paul making far too much noise pouring spritzers (fizzy water is louder than you think) and we worried my "laugh out loud" book was an error. But it didn't matter because they were so knackered they went to sleep at the speed of light and we got to watch the Mentalist. Quite a day.

London with the kids

A Chesterfield landslip couldn't stop us go on holiday thankfully. It was a long old train journey but we made it and walked from the station to the nearest free tourist attraction, the British Museum, not wanting to miss out on using every minute of our family London experience. We don't really do much sitting about on our city breaks.

I wouldn't say the British Museum was the best place to take children as young as ours - there is an awful lot of stuff in glass boxes - but the girls did admirably. They liked quite a few exhibits (Egyptians were popular) but we must have walked at least a mile round in a circle and I really wish there had been more hands on things for them. There is only so much looking without touching a six year old can stand. Even I was getting a bit jaded by the end and we only saw about half of it. I personally was left in awe of the building and it's contents, but left with the overall feeling that it was essentially a large quantity of things England didn't really deserve to have. Maybe that's why it was free.

The tube trains were popular with the girls, and the hotel room even more so even though it was extremely diddy. It had the design aspect of having a desk you could actually sit at while sitting on the end of your bed. The fact that that is the only way you could sit at it was of no concern. It was the optimum to place to colour in Smurf pictures that they gave them on the reception. Holiday Inn Express is clearly the best type of hotel.

Tesco clubcard vouchers and a tiny local Pizza Express made everything even better. As did the bottle of wine (us not them). Then we went back to our functional diddy bedroom for a restful night's sleep.

Of course we were all sharing a room. It'll be fine, I thought, they will stay up a bit late and we will all go to sleep at the same time. Great theory. In reality after a full day with children everyone in the world wants them to go to sleep first and we were no different. Phoebe was too excited to sleep and bounced up and down for some time while Paul and I sat in the doorway on the floor trying to pretend we weren't there. Tilly fell asleep first, then Phoebe. We daren't make any noise and sat reading in the dim light of the bathroom for so long I finished my book and had to send Paul out to buy me another one. I think he volunteered to save his aching floor impacted buttocks.

After a while Tilly knelt up and played a clapping game in her sleep. It was going to be a long night. But it didn't matter because,!