Friday, 9 December 2016

First Gig

I remember my first gig. I was 15 and my dad took me to see Billy Bragg. Not a bad starter for ten.

So who would be the first for my beautiful daughters? My two daughters who love music, are learning instruments and never stop singing.

They had the very first taster of live music a few months ago when they watched our brilliant talented friend with his band  - Cold Norton. After a weekend with him my eldest wanted nothing more in life than to be a guitarist/singer songwriter and builder. Which would be a very useful combination. It must be quite something to be inspirational.

But who to choose for the first big gig? I wanted someone else who might inspire them. A female sing songwriter with serious talent. Someone who wouldn't require P to wear her fetching green ear defenders throughout.

So, as a Christmas treat, I took them to see Kate Rusby, an artist we all love. They squealed when I told them, like I imagine Justin Bieber fans might. Seems we are doing something right.

It was a late school night, they were tired and they still enjoyed every second. It was fascinating to hear what they thought. My eldest plays guitar and marvelled at the band not needing any music to play their instruments - she was agog from the start. My youngest's first comment was "Mummy she's so pretty".

From the moment she started to sing they smiled, I occasionally looked at the kids soppily and we all joined in with vigour (possibly at points a bit too much vigour judging from the looks from the man behind us).

T now wants to carry on writing songs, and to take up the trumpet. "Do you think when I'm older I could play guitar with her?"

Neither of them will stop singing "Bill Brave Bill" at the tops of their voices and I haven't stopped playing the album in the kitchen.

Did I choose well?

As she closed her eyes after the long tiring night T said "Mum, that was amazing".

So I guess I did.



Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Positive News

In the light of the latest fresh hell I have decided to put together a regular post listing 5 positive things. They vary from the not important at all really to the really very important, in no particular order. You may or may not be surprised how hard it is to actually find positive news anywhere (don't bother looking at the BBC website).

1. Jackie Chan has won an Oscar. I know, I know, there are dark things  in the film industry but let's focus on the positive. Jackie Chan is wonderful. He has made me laugh for 30 years and even managed to make Owen Wilson funny. What's more he is quite possibly the smiliest person ever. I flipping loved Rush Hour.

2. There was a super moon. I mean, I know it was cloudy, but here the clouds moving across it made glimpsing it at its brightest more lovely. We stood in the garden and took a few minutes to marvel...before telling T it was far too late to be awake and to go to bed.

3. This is still here and it's free:
Peak District











4. Ilhan Omar. Great things are possible.

5. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is out on Friday. This will make my daughters very happy.

Any other positive suggestions gratefully received!

Monday, 31 October 2016

Halloween

Well we are overrun with pumpkins and yet still haven't managed to salvage any to actually eat.

Of course this is the time of year for pumpkins. Plus biscuits, dressing up, craft, candles and lots and lots of sweets.

Corpse Bride
These are just a few things we have made, this time and in previous years. The witch was made by my mum - I can't knit much more than a scarf and even then I have to google how to cast off.
Death Eater - Probably Lucius Malfoy


I hope these pictures make you smile, or terrify you, whichever you prefer.








Engineers

Well the Imaginarium event run by the University of Sheffield on Saturday was great. Umpteen engineering experiments engaged us for well over 2 hours and it was lovely to meet so many enthusiastic talented students. T was fascinated and inspired, quite full of sweets and rather wet.

The most successful experiment was friction testing T's fingers to trigger a spiderman climbing upwards. The marshmallow and strawberry lace DNA making, candyfloss eating, Skittle colour merging and chocolate breaking experiments meant she did pretty well on this one. And there was I about to get her to wash her hands first.

Once again we are so lucky to have these resources on our doorstep. A totally free event for kids demonstrating fascinating and fun engineering and showcasing the university. We even got to play with virtual reality building blocks and very expensive robots.

I'd recommend you keep your eyes peeled for another event - we certainly will be.



Monday, 17 October 2016

Divine Comedy

Sometimes you wonder whether a band you always loved will still be as good when you see them 20 years later.

Sometimes you shouldn't have worried.

Blissful voice, brilliant lyrics, bonkers costume changes, bizarre instruments, beautiful music. Plus extremely funny, but I can't think of word that means funny that begins with b.

The Divine Comedy were just wonderful on Saturday. Best gig in ages. Tragically I didn't get a photo of the admiral outfit.

Blimey the Foundry was hot though. Plus, I would like to see an enforced hat removal for audience members though because there was a point where a titfer made viewing a little tricky. Not Neil though, he can leave his hat on.





Friday, 14 October 2016

Poetry

Sometimes to struggle not to get distracted at home. So far today, for example, I have made myself multiple cups of tea, surfed the internet, tidied up a bit and I even fell asleep on the sofa for an hour (in my defence I have a banging headache and am quite tired).

In order to focus my mind I thought I'd have yet another cup of tea, but this time in a cafe while reading my new book about poetry and making notes (so I look like I'm doing something important). The nearest cafe to me is Seraphins' on Abbeydale Road so I popped in and sat down with my cuppa.

For the next hour I drank tea, ate the most delicious salted caramel brownie probably in the world ever and pretended to read my book. I also had a chat with the owner about how to help the lady behind me remove a stuck ring and watched a video on You Tube.  I posted a photo of the delicious cake to Instagram and Twitter. A little boy arrived and distracted me further by being flipping cute and having a garbled toddler chat with me.

On the way out I was requested to give the little boy a fist bump which I did, with panache frankly.

The whole thing was extremely lovely. But not very conducive to me concentrating. I've decided if I want lovely food and drink I'll go to Seraphin's, but if I want to write poetry I may have to find a cafe with worse food, less customers and miserable staff.


Lady Chatterley's Lover

Wow. Well it's taken me three days to come round after Lady Chatterley's Lover at the Crucible. I've been to the theatre hundreds of times on my life and, while there was a very early play which memorably involved a brief bare bottom, I can't remember ever having seen much bare flesh on show before. I supposed I should have expected it knowing the plot, but, well, blimey.

About half way through the first act Lady Chatterley got naked. 'That's brave', I thought. Then the feminist in me started to grumble. Maybe this was going to be the sort of production where the leading lady gets her total kit off and the lovely Mellors just strides around with his top off looking rugged. Be careful what you wish for I'd say.

You know the plot of course and it was inevitably going to involve some sex. In fact several times before the characters actually introduced themselves to each other. Nothing says raw magnetism like a grubby gamekeeper hammering a chicken coup. It's no wonder she couldn't stop herself.

The first half ended and I think it's safe to say the audience, many of which were quite elderly ladies, had coped with the nudity and bonking exactly as you'd expect us to. With slightly nervous giggling and sideways glances at our friends. I had to have a second glass of wine.

The second half was when it became evident that I needn't have worried about naked inequality. Not only did we get to see both main characters totally starkers for a good half an hour but at one point they ran around the stage in a wide circle so every angle was covered, so to speak. It reminded me ever so slightly of the cartoon in the year 6 sex video, only without the peacock feather and quite a bit more jiggling.

At one point the couple sat on the floor (did I mention they were naked?) and placed a small flower in each other's pubic hair. Mellor's referred to his 'John Thomas' a few times and I quite lost all perspective and started to become fascinated with the minimal set instead.

I haven't read the book. This may have been the issue. Had I read it maybe I would have seen the flowers in pubic hair coming.

After the show I left a bit confused. The actors could clearly act. If they could act like that naked I'd quite like to see them in something wearing a duffle coat.

Unbelievably brave too. I can't imagine many roles call for unbridled naked passion on a Tuesday night in front of octogenarians. Surely there must be some kind of theatrical award they could get. Or maybe just the relief of being able to act with clothes on next time will be enough.




Monday, 10 October 2016

Bishops' House Autumn Fayre

Yesterday we submerged ourselves in Medieval life at the Bishops' House Autumn Fayre. 

I adore this museum which is remarkably still in tact and sits, in all it's Tudor glory, at the top of Meersbrook Park.

The house was rammed, not only with people, but with stalls and demonstrators of traditional crafts including the stunning Billigoat Designs stained glass and Poterie Des Pommiers who showed the girls how to throw a pot on a potters wheel, while they chatted about the pots they were making at school. We were equally fascinated by the spinners and very keen on the scones.

Outside P was rapt watching Robert Nicholson make wooden bowls, especially since he took time to explain the job of a Medieval turner. I was quite tempted to buy a bottle of 14.2% Pea Pod wine which apparently has the taste of prosecco - surely that's practically a health drink.


We thought the event would fill a couple of hours but we ended up staying for nearly four, watching the knights walloping each other with various weaponry, Boggarts Breakfast morris dancing, and the Beekeepers playing 16th century music in the dining room.


I am thrilled for all the volunteers that it was a beautiful Autumn day and the event was so well attended.

Hopefully this will become an annual event and will bring many more visitors around the museum.

I definitely think it deserved an entrance fee higher than £1.50, so we bought more cake, solely for their fundraising efforts you understand...

Monday, 3 October 2016

The DVDs

Ok so the time has come. My eldest daughter is officially old enough for school to teach her about puberty and sex.

I was pleasantly surprised when the school offered to show the DVD to parents before showing the children and I nearly didn't bother going to watch, being pretty confident that she knows and understands most of what will be discussed. But boy am I glad I did.

The first DVD was entitled "Girl Talk". It covered all the usual things: hormones, periods and a mention of snogging. I hadn't, however, expected to see the mighty band Cleopatra ("Comin' Atcha") presented as teenage peers for the children to relate to. Not least because I saw one of them on The Voice quite recently and I'm pretty sure she is now 34. Just to cement how cool and up to date it was the teenage girl who was casually talking about puberty exited her bedroom at one point revealing a poster of a member of the boy band Five. Someone who is now approximately 36.

Now I know that a lot of things don't change. Girls still hit puberty. Periods happen. Spots appear. At least they didn't mention sanitary products that come with loops and a suspender belt. But I'm pretty sure something filmed after 2010 would be a bit more engaging for a group of children who weren't even actually alive when Cleopatra and Five were in the charts.

I missed the Boy Talk DVD. I can only imagine it included members of Westlife talking about wet dreams and posters of Natalie Imbruglia.

Then came the biggy - the sex DVD. It began and I was unsurprised to find that the cast were dressed in large knitted jumpers and oversized specs.

So how would you begin a DVD about how babies are made? Perhaps you would set the tale at a housewarming party where two children play pranks on their family members like putting plastic flies into people's drinks. No? The story unfolding before our eyes was so bizarre the teacher actually took the DVD out to check it was the right one.

Apparently it was. My attention wandered and I clearly missed a crucial bit because the action segued into the two friends interviewing all the couples at the party to ask why they love each other. In one case they asked the pregnant family member why they had decided to have a baby and we saw them stroking each other's shoulders and snogging. It was like a fairly dull 1998 episode of Eastenders but without the acting.

So the gist, of course, is that when you find someone to love you will want to have sex with them. Clearly demonstrating this was a challenge so it cut to a line cartoon of a naked couple next to a bed. They looked like they loved each other, had a bit of a cuddle and then...the man chased the woman with a peacock feather.

Hold on. A peacock feather?! Yep a peacock feather.

I rather like the idea that at least two generations of children have been educated that a peacock feather is a vitally important part of a loving couple's sex life.

The video ended back at the party. We learnt that the pregnant lady was pregnant because she had had sex with her loving partner. We learnt that grandparents and parents are couples too and love each other very much, but I think the children will be pleased that the line of questioning stopped there. In the end everyone had a glass of pomagne and they cut a cake that looked like a house.

So my eldest has watched Girl Talk. She came home with questions about the menopause which I reassured her shouldn't be a worry any time soon. Tomorrow they get to watch the How Babies Are Made DVD -  I'm bracing myself for questions relating to 1990s fashion, housewarming parties and feathers.

Elephants and Drama

Yesterday was one of those mad days where I created a timeline of activities and the whole family rolled their eyes. We needed to finish the Sheffield Herd elephant hunt, attend the Fun Palace event at Sheffield Theatres, complete homework, clean out a rabbit hutch, and watch the fourth Harry Potter. It was going to be a stretch. But the best kind of Sunday's include unreasonable expectations, right?

We screeched to a metaphorical halt outside the Botanical Gardens two minutes after they opened and zapped three elephants inside twenty minutes (about 7 mpe - minutes per elephant). I even let them stop to collect conkers which wasn't on the plan.

A frantic u-turn (not really) and we zoomed (at 20mph) into John Lewis car park, running through the store stopping only to look at picture frames, bags and perfume. Thank goodness, we made it to Sheffield Theatres for the Fun Place weekend.

The event was really good, even though we ended up doing a hoedown within 2 minutes of entering. I held hands with a man  I'd never met (and a number of very small girls and my own two bigger ones) and pretended the whole thing wasn't embarrassing at all. I also pretended I wasn't hideously out of breath.

After that the girls made a planet and star to go on the space artwork that will be displayed in the theatre, chucked balls at tin cans and hoops at cacti, and drew on the windows.

My favourite bit by far was the theatre tour where we were taken behind the scenes and I got to stand next to a garment of clothing worn by Kenneth Branagh - the girls didn't understand what I was wittering on about. I have never seen so many costumes, shoes and bags in my life. If Ken's costume wasn't enough to send me wappy imagine how I felt about there being entire boxes marked "espadrilles".

We saw the unglamorous section under the stage and heard about the theatre's history and resident ghosts. I even got to revisit the room where I spoke to the registrar on my wedding day which I'd forgotten all about. Plus Paul got to go into the girls toilets to look at the windows which was a first for him.

We could have done so much more. I fancied having special effects makeup and doing the drama workshop but the elephants were calling us unfortunately. The kids did fit in a quick tightrope walk on the way out but strangely the adults didn't have time for a custard pie in the face.

Upping the pace again we got back to the car and had our sights set on the final two elephants. At Hillsborough park we found that a)the elephant was in a walled garden that's closed on Sundays and b)it wasn't even there because they'd removed it already. We cheated and managed to fool the app into thinking we'd seen it.

Finally, Our Cow Molly. We'd waited until the end for this one in order to fully appreciate the free ice cream and flake. I imagined taking the final elephant picture with the girls looking triumphant and us all feeling on top of the world.

The elephant was not obvious. We walked through the farm. The elephant was still not obvious. We walked round the back into an area that we clearly weren't really supposed to be in, guarded by two angry geese. We had to accept the fact that the elephant had gone.

Add caption
It was hard for me but I was brave and accepted the stark reality that I was not to complete the elephant hunt properly. But then to be fair there had been other issues early on. I was, for example, supposed to take the children with me on the hunt, but on one occasion I nipped past an elephant on a working day at Crystal Peaks. I also got the last little ones in my lunch hour having raced through town to get to Atkinsons like some kind of old, overweight ginger Anneka Rice. So I can't really be an elephant purist.

When we cheated and fooled the app once more to log our 58th invisible elephant there were no fireworks but there was a free ice cream.
Seen very fast without the children in my lunch hour

My sense of completion may have been a little shonky but we had completed the challenge and the ice cream was epic.





Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Little Matchbox

I found a little matchbox and it opened a memory door.

My next door neighbour gave me the matchbox when I was a little girl. They were called Mr and Mrs Bram, short for Abraham. It's only now I realise how odd that seems, to shorten a surname.

Their house was full of wicker trays and hanging plant pots that Mr Bram had made despite his visual impairment. He read braille which fascinated me. There were flowery chairs and ornaments and a handful of picture books, along with a brass relief covered book I didn't understand. Mrs Bram gave me a sherry and lemonade when Mum said I could, without batting an eyelid. She liked sherry.

It's only now I realise how much my Mum and Dad cared for them, especially Mrs Bram after her husband died. We kept her company and did her shopping sometimes - I can clearly remember helping to put things away in the now vintage kitchen cupboards. I remember sitting on the floor, or on a little stool listening to her. There were interesting things to look through. Treasures.

Mrs Bram said, when she gave me the box, that it was in case I needed to do the "game where you had to see how many things you could fit in a matchbox".

The box is full of the mundane. A 4d stamp, a hair grip, buttons, a miniature light bulb and a tiny piece of lace.

Then there are marvels. A tiny charm that looks like a thimble. A miniscule pencil on a string. And most wonderful a tiny white doll. I will never know where that came from and who played with it.

What use is it? None really. I have never in 41 years been asked to see how many things I can fit in  a matchbox. But of course I can't part with it.

I haven't thought about the matchbox or the lady who gave it to me in years, I have sketchy but happy memories of Mr and Mrs Bram.

Thinking back I remember the night she fell. I remember Mum and Dad rushing next door in the night and me being told not to worry and to go back to bed. I was too young to know what it all meant but afterwards I missed her. The new neighbours weren't the same.

So if I had a sherry (which wouldn't be advisable before school pick up) I'd raise it to you Mr and Mrs Bram. And to my lovely parents. For caring for our friendly elderly neighbours, just because it was the right thing.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Foraging

This year I remembered. I remembered to take the family blackberry picking before they were all mouldy, eaten by birds or already snaffled by everyone else. Off we went with a couple of tubs to see how many we could find.

Around the corner from our house is a wilderness. A large council building has been demolished and the surrounding area (including a couple of old broken tennis courts) are filled with plants and trees, untended for years. Bits of it are beautiful. Bits of it are less so - I blame the council.

It is a brave place to go blackberry picking due to the ridiculous number of people who let their dogs foul everywhere, but if you are nimble footed it's worth the effort. Hundreds of blackberry bushes have spread everywhere. We filled our tubs to the brim, lamenting those blackberries that were too far into the dense thicket to reach but of course looked the juiciest and best.

I have to say I was pleased with myself. Not only had I remembered to go at the right time, I had carried out a fun family experience which was healthy (well it's fruit) outdoors (excellent for the lungs) and totally free. No-one stepped in dog poo and all was well.

The trouble is i'm not the most domesticated person. I do try but when faced with a massive tub of blackberries I got a bit panicked. We had to use them obviously, but how?

Of course I thought, "Jam! I will try to make jam!"

So I made jam. My free wholesome activity was going to result in delicious jam. I went to the supermarket and bought 2 kilners jars (I'd just recycled, darn it) and a jam thermometer costing a grand total of £18. I then made 2 jars of reasonably effective, quite nice (if a bit gritty) blackberry jam. I'm not sure I've ever paid £9 for a jar of jam before.

A couple of days later Tilly and I went back. I was determined to get the next batch of blackberries and make a crumble, my first since about 2002. We had a great time and again I was filled with joy and happiness. Until, that is, I disturbed what I think was a rat's nest and the resulting squeaking sent me flying towards home barely looking backwards. Tilly was in hot pursuit. We are at one with nature us.

Once I'd recovered from my brush with rodents we tugged three apples from the tree in my garden and made a passable blackberry and apple crumble. We have no idea what the apples are. Paul tried to google it but it's surprisingly difficult. He settled on it being called Gavin. Sufficed to say they aren't very nice unless you cook them for ages and mix them with lots of sugar.

The trouble was even after this I had some blackberries left. It was getting a bit ridiculous. Finally I tried to make compote but since everyone was starting to complain about getting seeds stuck in their teeth I sieved it and made blackberry sauce instead. It tastes exactly like the bit in the little triangle on a tippy yoghurt. Very healthy apart from the sugar.

I can safely say I've had enough of blackberries for a bit. Roll on October when we can go foraging for pumpkins...

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Meersbrook Park Heritage Open Day

I find this time of the year pretty wonderful and yet a bit frustrating. There are just so many things you can do at the weekend and yet you know that only a handful of gorgeous sunny Sundays are left before everything gets decidedly greyer.

Today we made totally the right choice. The Meersbrook Park Heritage Open Day was honestly the perfect community event.

We had just bought lots of lovely food from the Junk Food Project when the girls were whisked off to do Maypole dancing. P's face was beaming and everyone was laughing, even when they were nearly decapitated by small children's ribbons held slightly too low. A picture in the paper for the girls followed (ensuring we were out of shot).We wandered to the walled garden, which I don't think I've ever been in to my shame, and ate cake and drank tea in the sunshine.

Faunagraphic was painting some street art and the girls explored the mosaic hopscotch and the Japanese garden. We noted various inspirations for their wildlife project including the amazing bug hotel.


Then we had to slow down even more. It was imperative you see that we made wooden knives and whittling, as you know, cannot be hurried. I was only slightly hesitant to let the kids loose with sharp implements but I needn't have worried. P tried hard and a team effort helped to create one knife. T of course whittled persistently for over an hour.

Huge bubbles floated past, popped by eager children (I'd have popped one myself but it seemed a bit mean).


Little canvases had been handed out to us on arrival and P sat in the sun sketching and colouring a yarn bombed tree before we wondered off and wrapped another tree in fabric and wool. Well the other trees were getting jealous of the outfits. Our own at home will be treated with the same care and attention this week no doubt.
Finally putting down the knife and sandpaper, both girls then got involved in the beautiful mosaic making in the entrance of the hall - a peacock which will go on the wall when it's finished. T made her own Robin mosaic to take away. We looked at the Ruskin displays and around the local maker stalls, the only shame being that we couldn't see round the hall itself as they were booked up 20 minutes after the event began.


None of the activities cost us a penny. The Junk Food Project was a pay as you feel affair and well worth what we chose to give. The event was a small perfectly formed community day - what Sundays should be.

Monday, 5 September 2016

HIIT Workout

Just a bit of advice. When embarking on a new fitness regime to combat excesses of cheese, wine and scones you may wish to consider HIIT workouts. I would recommend, however, that when googling for said workout you do not put "beginner HIIT workout" into google. There is clearly something wrong with the search engine. The Youtube video it returned for me was obviously made for some kind of fitness expert. I might complain if I can ever get my breath back.

'The Body Coach' introduced the warm up, after which I felt quite tired. At this point he was pretending to be out of breath. I thought perhaps it was just him being nice to indicate his empathy for the beginner predicament. I am now wondering whether he was actually out of breath.

He launched into 8 minutes of frenzied activity the like of which I have never seen, let alone engaged in. It started with 30 seconds of running on the spot with high knees then 30 seconds rest. He suggested kindly that I could rest for 45 seconds if that was better for me. "Don't be ridiculous" I thought, "it'll be fine, besides I can't work out how to pause the video in the right places". 30 seconds of burpees, oh dear God. 30 seconds rest. Have a drink he says - damn I didn't think of that. I raced to the bathroom to slurp from the tap and was back just in time to do 30 seconds of low to high squats. Another 30 seconds "rest". Finally 30 seconds of hill climbers.  Phew, I thought it must be over. Maybe now we do some yoga.

Then said I needed to do it all again. And again.

By round three I was bright red and sweating like mad. Everything felt wobbly. I couldn't make it to the tap and back inside a minute let alone half of one, thus rendering myself completely out of sync with what he was telling me to do. He was climbing a hill and I was still squatting, it was chaos. Before the last exercise I had given up and collapsed in a heap on the floor. I spent the next 8 minutes practically passed out listening to Joe "The Body Coach" doing it all again and telling me it was "hard work". No kidding matey.

Once I had eaten a chocolate digestive and calmed down I read the comments beneath the video. Apparently I should have put the term "low impact" into Google rather than "beginner". This is literally the only time it would have been advisable to read the comments, ever.

HIIT is apparently the way forward. "20 minutes, no equipment, no excuses". Yeah thanks Joe but I dispute that. I now have four very good excuses - exercise my body is not designed to carry out.

Oh and if in spite of my feedback above you still fancy giving it a go, please ensure you do the workout while no-one is in (in your house or any others on the street), and that you choose a room with solid floorboards. And don't forget a water bottle.

Summer Break

There are a few reasons why I chose to have a break from blogging over the summer. The first was that it took me a while to recover from blogging the fantastic Children's Media Conference in July. The event was fascinating and I enjoyed every minute, from the opening keynote by Lemn Sissay, through sessions on gender in media and educational gaming to Chris Riddell's brilliant session.

But it's not a picnic. The difficult bit about blogging an event like this is having to condense hour long sessions into short punchy blog articles as fast a possible before you move onto the next one. Fortunately my brain required a bit of a tune up so this challenge was a good one. I learnt loads and met the targets so felt pretty good overall, apart from my back which had had enough of sitting hunched over a keyboard by the end of three days. If you want to read the blog articles there are here. I would love to do it again, and am really interested in blogging other events if anything interesting arises.

Why else did I take a break? First I wanted a holiday. I'd been juggling two jobs (starting a brand new one in the process) before the schools broke up and my mind was a bit boggled. We have had a wonderful 7 week summer school holiday and I relished every moment of spending time with the kids, family and friends, just focusing on the experience.

Finally things are afoot. I have plans and need time to realise them. I'm having a blog migration (hopefully) and relaunch and am taking time to plan and do things properly so please bear with me. In the meantime I will do a few catch up blogs in the spirit of sharing.

So here we go. The kids are back at school and the kettle has boiled...


Monday, 27 June 2016

Moving On

Well this has been a tough couple of weeks. I didn't realise I was so out of touch with half the country and haven't even really begun processing what the hell happens next.

Typically, as so often in life, massive epic crappy stuff in the news coincides with personal life changes. It takes how you thought you were going to feel, shakes it all about and leaves you dizzy and unsure of how important your own small milestones really are in the grand scheme of things.

I feel sad and desperately worried about Great Britain. I could, like so many, spill my feelings out over the page. Indeed I've written a blog entry about Brexit several times in my head and then I realised that so many swear words in one article could upset my mum so I've shelved it until I've stopped being quite so fucking cross.

This genuinely earth/economy shaking news coincides with me leaving my job. It's the only time I've ever had anything in common with David Cameron (of course we did agree on which way to vote but I suspect for wholly different reasons so I don't think that counts).

Three years ago I went back to work about a big break looking after my children. It was a massive step to return to the workplace and I struck incredibly lucky.

I have spent the last three years working in a place that I never knew existed. I have been on the supportive periphery of somewhere that makes real differences to young peoples lives. I've seen how amazing the staff are, everyday supporting and helping develop young people with special educational needs and giving them the opportunity to create beautiful things with their own hands. I've watched from afar as the students go on their, often bumpy, journey.

It's been enlightening, sad, funny, exhausting, supportive and eclectic. It has opened my eyes to the fact that there are places out there that break the mould. My goodness at the moment how important it seems to be working somewhere that makes a difference. After all it really isn't all about us. Honestly Boris it isn't.

So I'm moving on - in fact I started my new job three weeks ago and have been confusing myself stupid with where I am supposed to be and when. I am now working somewhere else that makes a difference and it feels like I'm on the right path for me.

More than that this tree has another branch. I was going to say "this junction has another fork" but wasn't sure I could travel down two roads simultaneously and the analogy got a bit clunky. Oh heck branches don't really work either. Let's just say I'm also doing something else. Crikey Nigel has melted my brain.

In short I'm making a commitment that writing will be a bigger part of my life and that's pretty exciting. My friend said today that this is the start of my exciting creative journey and I hope that is true.

Tonight I'm a bit sad. I'm a soppy fool and always find moving on emotional and tough (as I am clearly demonstrating in my ramblings). Tomorrow I will wear my sunglasses.

This is me saying "thank you" to all my work colleagues, especially our little team. You deserve only wonderful things.

Kxx

Sunday, 1 May 2016

West Side Story at Abbeydale Picture House

I was surprised last night that there weren't more children in the audience, but I guess not everyone wanted to pass on their childhood of Sunday afternoon watching musicals like I did. Plus it was an evening film so was destined to be a late one, although when I booked the ticket I hadn't recalled that the film is 152 minutes long so it was destined to be rather later even than I had anticipated.

Ah well, parenting for me involves throwing in a few unusual experiences for the kids and this was one.

I love Abbeydale Picture House and in particular the passion of the volunteers working so hard to bring it back to life. The cafe (open Friday and Saturdays 10-5 at the moment) is beautiful, with excellent drinks and food and the thoughtful provision of blankets - it is a little nippy. The building itself is stunning and hopefully one day will be restored to it's former glory.So I couldn't pass up a night then of watching West Side Story with my lovely family in such brilliant surroundings, helping them raise a little money in the process.

West Side Story with children requires a little groundwork. In particular we talked about Romeo and Juliet and braced them both for people dying. We discussed racial tensions and the different meanings of the word 'gay". Other than that it's brilliant songs and cracking dancing so I didn't anticipate further problems.

Things we didn't think of explaining:

  • That Shakespeare didn't exist in 1961
  • Where Puerto Rico is
  • Why people burst into song when they are supposed to be keeping the noise down
  • That "Daddio" does not mean Daddy. This particular confusion made character relationships a little confusing - no one person can be a girl's brother and father at the same time surely?
  • How the men's teeth got so shiny
  • How unlikely it is to fall in love on the spot or indeed to forgive someone who has just killed your brother, even if he was cross at the time.

"What on earth was happening in that scene in a garage? They were already cool, why were they singing about keeping cool?" They know all about homonyms really.

Then we came to the crux - the problem with all Shakespeare tragedies. Tony is told that Maria is dead and goes into emotional meltdown at which point my eldest said "you'd think he'd have checked first". Absolutely, you will go far.

It was a lovely night. Retro snacks, comfy seats, a live intro from two lovely singers from Easy Street Theatre, a great view and a wonderful setting - they are truly putting heart back into a beautiful building. Add to that the craziness of explaining the world of the 1960s to an 8 and a 10 year old and you feel really alive.

As we walked out my daughter was discussing who the baddies were. She said she thought the Sharks from Puerto Rico were less bad because they'd had such a tough time already. Wow. There was me thinking we were the ones was teaching her not the other way round.



Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Middle Aged Gig Goer

I go to a fair few gigs. One only last week in fact. But last night made me feel a bit old. Which is ironic because most of the audience were the same age as me and in fact the band members are my senior by a few years. But they have something I will never have. A desire to dress up in a boiler suit and a beanie hat and play dramatic extended electronic music most nights of the week.

The whole thing made me question myself and I'm coming to terms with what I have known for some time. I can no longer cope with rainbow lazers seemingly pointed directly into my eyes. I'm not sure about extended electronic dance tracks. I know I'm short but I could barely see a thing. Apparently there are five people in Super Furry Animals and yet I definitely only counted two. The only way I could see them was if I jumped on the spot like House of Pain. If I jumped I caught a brief second glimpse of a life I could never live and don't wholly understand.

Great view isn't it?
If truth be known I like my gigs to include a reasonable eye line to the musician or musicians, a bit of conversation with the audience, the band playing some actual well known tracks and more than a square inch to stand in. I want to sing, to dance and to access the toilet without having to practically crowd surf my way there. I don't particularly want to be blinded and my love of boiler suits and yeti outfits has left me, if indeed it was ever there to begin with.




I'm sorry. I know others loved it, it says so on Twitter. To me it was a good night because of fantastic friends, not because of the formulaic, sensory depriving gig. My head is still spinning.






Sunday, 24 April 2016

Bellowhead

Talk about being late to the party. Twelve years after Bellowhead got together I finally saw them live, on nearly the last gig of their final ever tour. What was even worse I loved it.

I have never before seen a band with more ability, enthusiasm, comedy and drama. There are several things I couldn't get my head around:

1. How you jump off a speaker playing the violin
2. How you dance wearing a large brass instrument
3. Why a sequinned waistcoat seemed appropriate for a folk gig
4. Their never ending supply of bizarre percussion instruments
5. How they got so many middle aged people to stand up in City Hall so early on in the set
6. Why Jon Boden is so appealing
7. What the hell is a helicon
8. How the three year old who went was still bouncing at 11 o'clock at night when he left the venue
9. How the audience were encouraged to raise their arms up and down with very little resistance.
10. How it's possible to make playing the cello look jaunty.
11. Who knew there were so many forms of concertina
12. Why "whores" are referenced quite so often (but my friend says thats usual for folk music as are songs about death)

There are probably many more questions but I was so blown away I forgot the rest, along with the word for tambourine.

I'm not really sure why I'm writing this. A review of something you will never see (unless you have a ticket for the rest of the tour) isn't overly helpful I guess. Hopefully it might encourage you to look up all eleven players individually and go and see what they are up to next. Or buy Bellowhead albums if you don't have them already. But my Mum is right, nothing is like seeing Bellowhead live. Sorry.


Saturday, 23 April 2016

Moving More

Two weeks ago I decided I would put my Fitbit back on. I haven't been wearing it for the simple reason that if I drive to work, which I have admittedly been doing for months and months now, I only ever walk about 5,000 steps in a day. There are few chances to exercise in a small HR office. When I wore my Fitbit it told me on a daily basis how I hadn't walked 10,000 steps. No-one likes to be criticised that regularly.

As a result of a freakish moment of commitment the Fitbit is now back and I am walking to work most days. This means I manage 10,00 steps most days too. I managed 13,000 on a day where I barely left the house but did shed loads of cleaning. I could do this instead of walking but the cleaning thing only works if I don't do any for at least 3 months prior which leaves me with a quite a few days where I'm a bit under target.

On the days where I've had to drive I have been guilty of syncing my Fitbit in my pyjamas and running on the spot because nothing is more satisfying than the three seconds when your wrist buzzes before you collapse into bed sweating.

One day in the pursuit of steps I even went running. That was until I met a friend walking her dog in the park. We spent so long talking I'd quite lost the enthusiasm for running but I still had to walk home. Since this is the same amount of steps I figured it didn't matter all that much.

My best day yet I wracked up 18,000 steps by walking to work and going to a Bellowhead gig.  In reality I suspect there were  quite a few claps plus a few air punches added in for good measure, all increasing my total. Maybe clapping is as good for you as walking.

Today I was hopeful of achieving a good number of steps by walking around shops on Abbeydale Road (I accidentally ended up eating a scone and coming home with a pair of boots and a new handbag but the numbers all add up don't they? ). It was only mid massive walk around Longshaw this afternoon that I noticed the Fitbit was actually flat and thinks I did 70 steps today. Brilliant, what a waste of time all that walking around waterfalls was.

It's back on charge overnight, which actually isn't a bad thing because it seems to have also set me a target for sleeping. It's bad enough being criticised for not moving enough, but being criticised for not sleeping enough seems very unfair. One day out of fourteen it flashed up with "Hooray you have met your sleeping target today". I felt buoyed for five seconds until I realised it really isn't that much of a success and, in fact, the 13 days weren't in any way an actual failure. Yey go me I slept eight hours last night. Anyone want to sponsor me?

So I'm trying. Moving more and in the process shopping more and eating more cake in tea shops. Win.


Sunday, 3 April 2016

Reuse...Confuse the rabbit

Imagine how lovely it would be if, when you recovered from a recent illness or two, some kind family member purchased you a brand spanking new home. One that didn't have bits missing where you had chewed a bit too hard, and didn't smell of wee. Bliss.

A few weeks ago we did such a kind thing for our rabbit. A brand new hutch to replace the one with a collapsing roof and a fair bit of mould.

We had put it together a while back and put some of her straw into it. A gentle introduction if you will. She went in, then promptly came out again. Clearly it didn't have the wow factor.

Three weeks later and enough is enough. We only have two rabbits so three hutches seemed a little excessive. Paul spent the afternoon taking the old hutch apart, not so ably assisted by the rabbit who refused to move out. As screws were removed she held on in there for dear life.

After a while she tentatively went into the new hutch, ate some of the wood then came out again.

An hour passed until she ventured in again. We acted fast and trapped her in, waiting for her to acclimatise. She started trying to dig her way out. We let her out again.

Another hour later and Paul had taken large sections of the old hutch and fashioned quite a natty planter. Petal got in the planter and looked like she wished to take up residence despite the fact that it has no roof and currently no floor. Clearly she likes the idea of a project.

The day ended and I lured her back into her new home with carrot peel. Let's hope the whole experience doesn't stress her out so much she stops eating again. Seriously I know a house move is one of the most distressing life experiences but it's hard not to be offended. Talk about ungrateful.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Rabbit Peril

As I write this my 3 year old rabbit is sitting in her hutch looking absolutely fine. I know she's fine because she spent the morning trying to eat the sucker off Tilly's arrow and eating hosepipe.

Two weeks ago things were different. Two weeks ago I thought she'd died. I refer you to this blog entry where I discussed how bad I am with dead animals. Or even animals that look like they are dead. Well Petal looked dead from the two metres away where I stood and squealed at Paul. It turns out she was just extremely poorly.

It was a Sunday evening. Of course it was. No-one's rabbit gets perilously close to death on a week day when the vets are open. Oh no it had to be a Sunday and hence an emergency trip to the pet hospital in Attercliffe. Who knew there was a pet hospital so near a large number of brothels.

I am, of course, exaggerating about how easy it was to ascertain that Petal was near to death. She looked dead, then when we lifted her into the pet carrier she hopped out of it like there was nothing flipping wrong with her. We drove across Sheffield well aware that the appointment alone was going to cost £125 and thinking she looked a lot better really. We didn't have long in the waiting room during which we very nearly decided to go home to avoid the cost. The short consideration time turned out to be a good thing.

Apparently because rabbits are prey animals they will do anything other than show they are poorly, because then something might eat them. So with her last ounce of willpower she tried to leap off the examination table and gave the vet the run around. Then she flopped over and looked, well, nearly dead.

I won't go into details about the examination. Sufficed to say there was more flopping over, some scurrying, the insertion of a thermometer somewhere unpleasant and a blood test which confirmed that she was very nearly dead. At one point there was even talk of diabetes. Had I not had pet insurance i might very well have flopped onto my side panting too. The expected cost was £450.

£450 to keep her overnight, give her medicine and fluids and try and get her to eat.

In the morning I had to drive back to Attercliffe and pick her up, terrorising her further by driving her back across town. If rabbits hate having thermometers stuck up their bottoms it's nothing compared to how much they hate car journeys. I then left her at our vets for the additional sum of £120.

To say my flabber was ghasted would be an understatement.

£580.

I mean I do like her but £580 would be enough to fly her to Amsterdam first class to visit her ancestors (she's a Dutch rabbit). You'd at least expect five star treatment. The hospital she was in was nice I'm sure but she didn't mention anything about chocolate coins on the pillow.

Just as a point of note, three weeks ago we called our pet insurance to cancel it because £12 per month per bunny seemed expensive. It was a Saturday and they were shut. Thanks be to the god of pets. Otherwise Petal would have been joining the great rabbit warren in the sky.

So now we are back to normal. Two rabbits who can't seem to stand each other and eat anything and everything they lay their teeth into. And one rabbit who isn't keen on us going anywhere near her bottom...


Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Emotional

Everything seems to shift in importance when someone you love is in intensive care. Small things don’t matter at all yet at the same time sit enormous and unmanageable.

For the last ten days the only thing I really wanted was to hear the news that he was improving and that he was going to be ok. That was the only thing that mattered. Sometimes I simply sat on the sofa, watching TV. Because what is the point? Just waiting. In other moments I’ve been fired up and determined to live life to it’s fullest. Stop pissing about and just get on with stuff including everything from planning to travel the world and cleaning out that kitchen cupboard. Because after all there is no bigger eye opener than this. He is only 42. Anything could happen to any of us any time. Grasp life by the horns and shake it. Oh and sit there doing nothing. Because what actually is the point? We just have to wait until he’s better then we can get on with life. It’s a somewhat contradictory and confusing way my brain is processing things.

So it’s evident from my blog silence that I haven’t quite known what to write about all this. It felt as if I couldn’t write anything down in case I wrote something wrong, confused somebody, or didn’t get everything absolutely spot on. In case I didn’t adequately get across how big this is and how very much I care. It felt like if I wrote anything he wouldn’t get better. I’m not superstitious at all but it felt wrong. If there was little sign of improvement I wasn’t writing anything.

But after 12 days he seems to be improving and I’m on my way to see him on a train. I saw him last week and it broke my heart. Today will be more positive, I hope. I want to offer what support I can to him and his family. Even though it can’t be enough. 

I won’t go into detail. This isn’t my story to tell. What I will say is, at the risk of becoming overly sentimental, this has shown me how important family and friendships are. Sometimes we don’t prioritise those relationships. It’s no-one’s fault but it needs some thought and some action. 
______________________________________________________________________________

I’m writing this on my way home. Today was hard. This will be a long journey. It’s already been the hardest thing in the world and it may continue that way.

I love him. I certainly never have told him that enough.

So just take the time to tell those you care about how much they mean to you. Thanks.

Updated to add
Things are getting much much better. Sod off Jeremy Hunt you know nothing.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The next problem

Not content with an infestation of the hair we now appear to have a rat in our garden. Or we may not have. Basically I'm in denial because I'm not exactly a fan.

As I had my first meltdown Paul tried to reassure me that a rat is just like a squirrel. This is a lie. If it was like a squirrel it would be sleeping up a tree not underneath my decking.

As a consequence for the past five days I haven't really been in the back garden. When I have been out there I have signalled my arrival by banging the door loudly, stamping my feet and shouting. The neighbours must think I'm strange. For any thing more demanding than shutting a rabbit hutch door Paul has fallen on his sword.  He's much tougher than me. That's what marriage is all about after all.

Today a man from the council came. Unsurprisingly I wasn't in.

Apparently he could tell we have a rat problem from the gnawed hutches in the garden. Paul tactfully pointed out the two cute long eared rodents who roam freely (ones that are actually invited to) and are partial to eating, well...pretty much everything.

The council man stroked their heads, left three traps, took sixty eight quid and left.

I'm trying not to think about the next bit. I daren't let the rabbits out of their hutches so there is some kind of equilibrium because I'm not going out of the back door for a while either.

Paul on the other hand is hard as nails.


Sunday, 31 January 2016

Waging War

I have had enough. I fed up of the battles. I am waging war.

We am already at the stage where if a member of my family raises a hand to their head I leap across the room like a woman possessed.

My front line are relatively sorted although they can be a little unreliable. My second in command takes instruction pretty well. He can be ordered to check for signs of occupation provided I let him sit down and bring him a cup of tea. Although I don't feel I can totally trust him.

I do my fair share of checking for enemies too. In fact you could say I look for them with a fine tooth comb. No stone, I mean hair, is left unturned.

When intel is accurate we swoop like a crack team of commandos. Chemical warfare is in the cupboard waiting along with the best removal system available. It's messy and unpleasant. As is the state of the head of hair in question the morning after. I need to bulk buy shampoo and conditioner.

But you know what parents, your country needs you. Well the sanity of my family does at any rate.

Because I can have all the weapons of mass destruction possible but if you, yes I'm talking to you, don't check your flipping child's hair for nits every week... well there is just no point. They hop back on to my child's head and start another party. I may as well just accept occupation and start giving them names.

Just check them. Please. And regularly, not just when school sends you a reminder.

In the meantime I will carry on with my war on nits. I'll be spending the next few hours watching tight plaiting styles on Youtube and boiling my hairbrushes.





Tuesday, 19 January 2016

More day to day

I feel like a terrible parent. Phoebe has had a weird red painful toe problem for quite a few weeks and apart from a brief period of me applying nearly out of date fungal cream for few days with no discernible result I have done nothing about it. She mentioned the pain quite a bit. I put it off and shouldn't have.

Today I finally took her to the nurse. She looked at Phoebe feet and looked puzzled. She pressed her toes and checked between them. She even got a second opinion from a  doctor.

They were in agreement. Phoebe has chilblains. Prescription? Warm socks. I mean really.

I got home. Phoebe put some socks on and I went outside to find the rabbit. I've been worried about both rabbits since the parsnip Tilly used for her snowman's nose went missing. Can rabbits eat parsnips? Who knows.

She's in the shed. I can't get her out without risking life and limb, or at the very least being knocked out by a bicycle pump and spraining my ankle tripping over a bale of hay. She can come out in her own good time. Which may be never.

Back in the house we are seeking the other slipper which is probably buried under the massive pile of chaos that comes from redecorating bedrooms. Oh well at least we are treating one foot. Half way there.


Partus

Talk about making you think. I went to see Third Angel's Partus last night at the Studio. I came out having laughed, sniffled and thrown my hands over my face in half remembered horror. I also emerged equally determined, to champion the cause of midwives in the NHS, and to never have another baby.

Partus is about births. Funny ones (and it really was funny in places), scary ones, multiple ones, sad ones, young ones, and exhausting ones but all of them real ones. It was born out of a research project and included real life experiences of mums, dads, doulas and midwives. I have no idea how you would begin to decide which stories to highlight out of the hundreds they heard but Third Angel chose well, I think, setting the balance of humour and emotion.

It's been a while since I gave birth. Nearly 8 years in fact. It's safe to say my brain had pushed to the back some of the more painful and frightening bits. Which of course is the same for everyone otherwise no-one would ever have more than one baby. Last night reminded me how bloody marvellous women are. It's the most natural thing in the world but also the toughest. I mean, answer a child's question about how a baby comes out and the look on their face tells it all. It shouldn't be possible.

Partus tackles some gritty stuff which goes with the subject matter, and is ably, humorously and passionately presented by an all female cast who form part of the audience. It's a theatrical experience rather than a play and even includes biscuits.

The trouble is I'm not great at writing reviews due to my general fear of accidentally providing spoilers. Inevitably the best bits are the bits I want to write about, and therefore can't because then you'd know the best bits. You see my problem?

What I will say is this, if you are interested in births you should go. There are even performances where mums take their babies along. If only theatre had happened like that in 2006 when I had mine I'd have been at every event like a shot.

I am not sure however if I would have gone before I'd had a baby. For the same reason that I only read a small amount, didn't watch any birthing videos and tried to pretend everything would be painless and quick and I'd be home by tea time. Of course if you like to be more prepared than that it could be ideal.

I came out feeling it's an important piece. My friend and I decided all teenagers should have to see it as part of the curriculum. And probably all men.


Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Ouch

You'd be surprised how inconvenient cheese grating the end of your index finger can be.

So far I've discovered that it renders me useless for chopping vegetables, washing up, painting and in fact doing any kind of cleaning or DIY. (One or two benefits then I guess)

My typing is definitely somewhat hampered. It's five days later and I'm still stretching the capacity of spellcheck somewhat. As evidenced by the fact that the word 'muleteer' just appeared in the middle of my sentence.

I also look weirder than usual. I've been walking around randomly pointing at people like some kind of middle aged ET.

On Monday night I went swimming. The chlorine smarted somewhat but my main problem was the cramp I suffered from holding my breast stroke fingers in a pincer like grip. Which was necessary to avoid the plaster floating off into the deep end.

My dreams are disturbed (or ddstrubed) and involve me frantically trying to protect the end of my fingers from meeting nylon material. I lurch about like I'm being tortured.

Then to top it all off I tried to put Tilly's hair up in a pony tail. Oh the agony. This is way worse than a paper cut. And I got one of those today too.

Clearly I am a long way from being cured. Being 40 seems to slow down the healing process for grater related injuries. At this rate it could take weeks. But the worst thing of all is that now I've removed the plaster it doesn't even look that bad. How the hell am I going to garner further sympathy?

That's it. I'm never grating cheese again.




Thursday, 7 January 2016

Bedtime

Questions I have been asked once we tucked them in and turned out the light this week:

Are computer networks wireless?
Is the World Wide Web really world wide?
Who invented words?
Why are some parts of some countries not as developed as other countries?
Do you like Russia?
What's Putin like?
What is a typhoon?
If we went to New Zealand on holiday which way would the aeroplane go?
Would we take our kindle fires?

That's without even touching on the worries which include death, growing up, cuddly toys, which order the pillows need to go in and incomplete homework.

Then this classic:

"I'm worried"
"Why?"
"Because I'm not worrying about anything."
"What? You are worried because you aren't worrying?"
"Yeah you know what I mean."
"Erm..."

Bedtime. Not exactly like in the movies.




Tuesday, 5 January 2016

40 and Healthy?

The first question I asked the nurse tonight is why my husband hasn't been invited to see if he's healthy. Surely the fact that we share our birthday should mean he'll be invited to an over 40 health check soon? Or maybe I'm a more deserving case for help. Frankly he needs to suffer the excruciating experience of mildly underestimating the amount he drinks just as much as I did.

So I'm 40. 40 and 4 months actually. When I was 39 it wasn't a problem apparently, but 40. Well, you can't be too careful. I got a text message inviting me in for a health check but since I needed a repeat prescription on Thursday I went in to pick it up and thought I'd raise the subject then.

"Hi, I've come to pick up my prescription that you said you would sort out for me on when I rang?"

"Ah. No you can't have the prescription until you have a check with the nurse practitioner. She will need to check your blood pressure. I can book you an appointment on Tuesday."

"Ok, well I've had a text about needing a health check, is that the same?"

"Oh no, it's a different nurse but we can get you two appointments, one after the other."

"Just out of interest is the second nurse also going to check my blood pressure?"

"Oh yes. And your weight and BMI."

"Just like the first one?"

"Yes. But it's different".

Audible sigh.

So I turned up at the doctors with only a mild sense of trepidation. I was pretty much expecting the health review to yield the following results:

1. I drink a bit too much
2. I'm a bit overweight/my BMI is a bit high
3. I don't do enough exercise
4. My cholesterol is slightly high (I like cheese).

I went into my first appointment this evening and the nurse checked my blood pressure and weighed me.

Then she checked my height.

I pointed out that I didn't think the tablets I'm on would have made me shorter than the last time I came in. She laughed, then measured me anyway. She took my blood pressure (fine) and weighed me. Staggeringly I'm a bit overweight/my BMI is a bit high. Neither of us seemed particularly concerned.

I went back into the waiting room before being called upstairs.

Unsurprisingly my blood pressure in the second room was also fine, and I was the same amount overweight. The new nurse asked if she could measure my height. I said if I hadn't put on weight since walking upstairs it was unlikely I had grown.

Then she pricked my finger and deduced that my cholesterol is a bit high. I also should do a bit more exercise and drink less prosecco.

The whole thing was perfectly fine apart from the blatant waste of time in me being checked for exactly the same things within ten minutes. Apparently my risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years is 0.56%. It sounded quite good but largely because I think having a 0 at the front sounds like it's probably ok.

I managed to come home and not crack open a bottle of Pinot Grigio, but I did open the biscuits my friend had just given me. I'll make it to the gym again tomorrow...






Friday, 1 January 2016

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone. I hope it's happy and healthy for you all.

New Year's Day 2016 has pretty much happened in a hum drum kind of a way:

I didn't have a hangover which is a miracle as we seemed to be trying to use up cocktail ingredients last night. I am however flipping shattered and no-one will let me have a nap.

A fox ran through our garden at 9.30am and now I daren't let the rabbits out to play.

Paul spent half an hour combing head lice medication through my hair only to find that I don't have nits. This is a miracle really since Tilly had them on Wednesday and my head itches like mad. Must be psychosomatic.

I washed my hair four times to try and stop it being greasy. It didn't work.

We spent five minutes trying to get a decent photo of all of us - I will probably remember that experience for ages since it included quite a lot of shouting. Not the idyllic family moment I was trying to capture.

We did lots of washing and lots of washing up. We need a new washing machine.

The Christmas tree came down and the living room felt a decent size again. The hall stairs and landing are however much smaller. We probably ought to put the boxes back in the loft.

We took the girls roller skating/blading to the car park round the corner. No-one fell over and all was quite chirpy.

I made burgers.

The girls did most of their homework. I am already livid at seven year olds having WW2 as a topic. Who flipping makes this curriculum up?

I have so far today avoided the remainder of yesterday's trifle and all the mini Terry's chocolate orange segments. Go me.

Of course now I've started to panic about what comes next. Going back to school and work loom and non of us are thrilled at the prospect. New year is supposed to be a fresh start but at the moment I just feel sad that the holidays are over, and anxious about what is to come.

Fortunately tonight includes cuddles with two very tired but fantastic girls whilst watching Billionaire Boy followed by Sherlock with Paul. But without wine. No wine for a little while I think. And Paul is going to have to eat all the trifle...