The power of hoop

So why do some of us enjoy exercise? I have spent the last 2 hours prancing round my local village hall like a woman possessed, with several other women and friends looking like complete idiots revolving a hoop round our waists to a routine of Gangaman style. 

It gets better…..most of the women are wearing swimming costumes under their outfits to prevent bruising – yes bruising and not just little bruises – more like the ones you wouldn’t want social services seeing if you get my drift. Us seasoned hoopers no longer bruise because our middles have toughened up but I recall the early days when I was comparing  the sizes of my waist-line bruises with friends at the school bus stop. 

One of my friends half way through the class decided to put on her thick winter coat to act as a barrier (this was partly to prevent bruising and partly because she had a carpet burn on her back from too much ‘you know what’). She is still in the honeymoon phase of her relationship so they are still willing to do it in uncomfortable locations.

But bruises, burns and swimming costumes aside, I love power hoop. It has whittled away at my waist and shown muscles I never knew existed – and that is after 2 children. Why do we like exercise? well for office workers like me, it is not natural to sit on your butt for long hours at a time in front of  a screen, so to have the opportunity to prance around like an idiot for 2 hours solid is my body’s way of getting some therapy. All that seratonin (I think that’s the hormone they refer to when talking about exercise) is good for the soul as well as the body.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. If you can help me raise £1 day through this blog, please visit my page on the Unicef website.

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Remembering Jamie Bulger

I was 13 when Jamie was murdered and, at the time, I remember feeling sorry for his killers because of their bad upbringing and home life. 

Now decades later, as a parent, I am not only devoid of any sympathy for Thompson and Venables, I would go as far as to say I would take pleasure in news that they were dead. 

After Jamie’s death the whole Merseyside community were up in arms and many people criticised the ‘mob’ mentality. Some were rather snobby about the community’s reaction and it almost degenerated into a class divide on who was right on the debate of the fate of Thompson and Venables.

A few years ago I read the full account of Jamie’s injuries and how he died – it was nothing less than torture. Who can comprehend the torture of a 2 year old boy? To me the fact that the boys were 10 years old at the time bears no relevance. The crime was so horrific that I do not understand the case for rehabilitation. I also cannot understand how Thompson and Venables can live in the knowledge that they not only killed a 2 year old – they tortured him to death too. Any sane person would be driven crazy by flashbacks – so how have they been able to lead a normal life – and why should they be entitled to lead a normal life? 

I only have to hear Jamie’s name and a knot forms in my stomach recollecting the horrific details of his abduction – and I am just a member of the public with no connection to the Bulger family at at all. How Jamie’s mother has been able to continue with her life is testament to her strength and resilience to not let those boys ruin her life as they did her son. 

When I heard recently that there was talk on twitter of exposing Venables and Thompson’s location and that a Government minister had to step in to stop it I asked why? No-one protected Jamie.

I am blogging every day to help Unicef with their work for children world-wide. If you can help the campaign to raise £1 a day through this blog, please visit my page on the Unicef website.

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Inferiority complex

So today I read the profile of a woman who, from the outset had decided she wanted to be a UN ambassador. Although she was told that would be impossible and a ‘pipe dream’ when she was young, she achieved her dream and over the years has worked for the UN, was UK ambassador in Malaysia during the 04 tsunami and has helped the World Health Organisation reduce world-wide cases of TB. Her next target is to reduce global tobacco dependence through a variety of channels including encouraging farmers to grow other crops.

I reflected on my ambition as a teenager. It wasn’t anything on this scale. I managed to achieve what I set-out to achieve but on reflection it was neither that impressive or important. I wish I had taken a broader outlook on what is possible as a teenager – helping to change the world wasn’t even on my radar. I was way too inward-looking for that. I think more could be done to encourage young people to expand their horizons and know that happiness and self-fulfilment is possible in roles that don’t position fame and wealth as the main objective (unlike all the very popular role-models of Katie Price, Kim Kardashian, actresses and actors and X Factor contestants).

I am blogging every day to help Unicef combat childhood poverty and deprivation. If you can help me raise £1 a day through this blog, please visit my page on the Unicef site.

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A post about a virus and a friend’s dodgy motorbike

We now have a black cross on our door owing to an attack of ‘hand,foot and mouth’. It sounds awful but actually its just this virus my boy has caught after a manic half-term of day trips and soft play sessions. It was inevitable he would get something as he is still of the age where he defaults to putting EVERYTHING in his mouth – maturity will teach him to at least sniff it first. 

This will probably explain the sleepless nights, which I had put down to “teething again”. But it was obviously the symptoms of the human sounding version of mad cow disease. Nothing can be done though – just avoid everyone until the spots dry up (hence hand, foot and mouth as spots appear in these areas – nice.) So this also means I cannot go to work and will have to attempt 3 days working from home while entertaining baby boy – not easy. Looks like he may well be finishing off the decorating he started a few weeks ago when he took pen to wall and let his creative juices flow.

On a separate note it turns out that you can’t trust motorbike riding schools to sell motorbikes that are fit to ride on roads (according to one firm in Southampton known as ART (assured rider training) My friend bought a bike from them with a new MOT a year ago and he just got the MOT reviewed and it failed on a broken bracket that is pretty crucial in keeping the engine attached to the chassis. He had looked after the bike well with no drops or crashes since he bought it so this must have happened with Assured just after they got the MOT – hence why they sold it. So, if you want to keep motorbike riders safe, the best thing would have been for them to sell it as spares and repair. Well not Assured, they decided to make a quick buck from an unsuspecting novice (my friend). Isn’t that responsible of them? I wonder what happens if the engine detaches itself from the chassis? Probably fatal – don’t be re-assured by Assured Rider Training.The best bit is their strap-line ‘the art of safe riding…for life’ 

I am blogging every day to help raise funds for Unicef. If you are able to help please visit my page on the Unicef website.

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La navigation par satellite

On Saturday I embarked on a journey with my daughter to South London to see my sister-in-law and her family. It was the first time I travelled there without my husband and I was slightly anxious about getting there and back without any mishaps. So I placed all my faith in the trusty Garmin sat nav machine. Before I reversed off our drive, I entered the destination postcode and it kept coming up with a different road name to the one I intended – that didn’t bode well. So before I even reversed the car off the drive, I had to ring the doorbell and summon my husband’s help. (At this point I was starting to feel pathetic and incapable of doing anything without a male). He programmed the road name instead and off we went.

A while later (and after having listened to the entire 1st CD of the recent Now that’s what I call music with my daughter bopping away in the back) we arrived on the drive of my sister-in-laws. I felt very chuffed with myself and half expected my brother-in-law to greet me at the door with a certificate. No, he was just glad to see us and we spent a lovely day there.

So on our departure, we said our goodbyes, I encouraged them to “go back inside its far too cold for you to be waving us goodbye” (while really thinking I don’t want you all staring at me while I re-programme the sat nav for the return journey). I then powered up the machine and (rather cockily) selected the ‘go home’ button and then hit ‘go’. It programmed the route and we were off. As we crawled our way through the London traffic I didn’t have a care in the world as I faithfully followed the route of the all knowing machine. “Why this is a doddle I say to myself as my daughter and I bop to the 2nd CD of Now that’s what I call music cruising down Tooting high street. Hang on a minute……Tooting? I am sure we didn’t come this way on our way in, or, for that matter, on our way out on previous visits when hubby was driving. Oh well, the sat nav must know something I don’t. So I maintained my faith and continued driving.

When my bum started to ache, I looked to see if any of the journey was familiar. No, although I do remember being in Reigate a few years ago….Reigate? Why are we here? Oh the M25, right its taking us that way….OK I will not lose faith in the all singing all dancing sat nav – it knows best I must not start to question its authoritaaaa like my husband does when he thinks he knows a quicker route (which never turns out to be quicker….he just knows it better). 

So on the M25, I was still faithfully abiding by the directions as we sailed past the M23, which, would be our turning home when on the M25. Oh, the sat nav must be aware of roadworks/ crash a better route than the one we have been following for years. I will continue along the lovely purply pink line on the sat nav map like Dorothy on the yellow brick road.

OK my bum was really starting to hurt, M25 seemed to becoming a too dominant feature of this journey and nearly 2 hours had passed. I observed a road-sign…..’KENT!’ WTF…..I glance at the sat nav which states the estimated arrival time of 1am WHAT! A horrible sick feeling momentarily appeared as I realised we were not going home – we were going further and further away from home and we were due to go out to dinner later that evening for the first time in ages – not OK.

I quickly re-programmed the sat nav to our post-code and after a short delay in re-programming it promptly requested me to do a u-turn at the next exit – I am tempted to chuck it out of the window but realised i still needed the darn thing to get home….grrrrr.

So I am then having to wind my way back though the speed limited road-work section of the M25, which I didn’t mind so much when I was travelling south-bound as I thought I was going in the right direction. When I finally get on the M23 an accident further up the carriageway brings all 3 lanes abruptly to a halt. When the sat nav reads 0mph it beeps to tell me there has been an accident….(thanks for letting me know I say with gritted teeth) “what?” says my daughter in the back – “nothing just go back to sleep we will be home soon”.

By the time I get home we had been on the road for almost 3 hours. When I explain this to my husband he gives me a smile of sympathy with a hint of patronising “oh bless… used the go home button didn’t you”. I say in indignation “Well you use that all the time and it’s never gone wrong before.” He replied, “the last time I used it was when we stayed for a week in Brittany………it was taking you to France via Dover.”

I am blogging every day to help Unicef continue their good work around the world. I aim to make £1 a day through this blog. For every blog post missed (like last night owing to fatigue!) I will pay £1. If you can support the campaign please visit my page on the unicef website.

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Much less than perfect

I was meant to spend the day with my friend of 20 years. OK we had the kids in tow but it was going to be a day of adventure and catching up. Unfortunately the adventure didn’t happen due to her getting wires crossed on the activities organised by a local country estate – they weren’t on. I struggled to get out of the house before lunch-time due to visits from workmen and a grizzly, teethy baby boy.

So she invited us over to her client’s house (she’s a nanny) for afternoon play and tea. My daughter had a great time but I struggled to keep the conversation up with my friend. We interrupted this struggle with making tea and keeping busy with the kids but I could tell that the friendly vibe we used to have has gone. This has been going on for a while now and every time I suggest we meet up without the kids to have a “proper chat”, like it is having kids to look after that causes the problem between us but I think that is just an excuse. So do I just give up on this friendship or soldier on for old-times sake?

I also spoke to my mother-in-law today who was on, what I call, her “short” mode. “Yes?” she says as I tell her its me. It’s like she is saying “Yes I know it’s you what do you want and please keep it short.” One day I will say “Well fine then I’ll fuck off” But I won’t ever say that of course – not even after a whole bottle of rum.

I asked how my relative is, who has been struggling with her baby boy since he was diagnosed with a disability. Apparently she is not good and feels her life is ruined. So I made a quick call to see if I could come and visit and we are going round tomorrow to give her respite from her worries. She lives in perfect family ville of South London and has become a recluse since discovering she no longer fits that stereotype. What a shitty world we live in if fitting in to ‘perfect’ buys happiness and anything less is social banishment.

I am blogging every day to help Unicef work with vulnerable children around the world to protect them – children who are a million miles away from the ‘perfect’ life. If you can help visit my page on the Unicef site.

Thanks for reading.


What a day

Its fabulous because my husband’s cousin has 2 new little sproglets in the shape of 2 gorgeous boys. The picture of them all huddled up in fluffy towels next to their Mum who looked like she had just been given them without any labour effort at all was priceless. They now have 3 boys (an older boy aged 4) to fill their time.

Also enjoyed riding for the first time in several months and taught my daughter to do rising trot for the first time – not easy on a pure thoroughbred ex-racehorse who leaps into the air when he goes from walk to trot. We then enjoyed cleaning tack while my Mum, back from Spain, looked after baby boy.

The day began with a visit to my Canadian/ Mexican/ Polish friend who is, to quote friends, “on a break” from the father of her 2 year old child and is now residing in a beautiful Georgian maisonette. I am not convinced that the need to be “on a break” is good for long-term relationship success but at least they are not giving up completely. Despite this they are having a lovely life living as girls together in the middle of town and I felt a pang of envy at the freedom of just crossing the road to the shops and restaurants. Its also nice to not have to cook every night for the other half and fight for the laptop/ remote control. Bedtime must be a bit rubbish though as a microwaveable bear is no replacement for a nice toasty male to warm your toes on (maybe a bit of spooning too!).

Also today I have just learned that my Honda CBF failed its MOT because it is basically a death trap. Apparently it shouldn’t have passed its last MOT when we bought it off a motorbike school because of a missing bracket that is rather crucial for keeping the engine and chassis together. So I passed my test and have been riding about on a bike that, for the past year, could have at any time dropped its engine on the road. I intend to send a snotty email to the school that sold it to me – they should have known better – aren’t bike riding schools there to ensure riders are safe to ride on highways?

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. £1 a day is my goal – can you help? If so visit my site on Unicef online. 

Thanks for reading.


Yuppy invasion arrgghhhhhhh (or rahhhhh)

My local town is being invaded. I took my daughter for a half-term treat to the community cinema to see the latest Tinkerbell flick. My Mum looked after baby boy so we could be girls together munching popcorn and wafting away on pixie dust to fantasy land where babies laughs create fairies and, despite a little bit of peril, life is happily ever after. “How many fairies do you thing my brother has created Mum?”. As I pondered this hypothetical question using the part of my brain that conjures up creative and almost plausible reasons for why the tooth fairy forgot to visit, I noticed a disturbing trend as I scanned the audience……everyone one looked similar.

Long-hair, country or town & country jackets, long brown boots, skinny jeans, sunglasses still on head from driving around on a rare sunny day (and to avoid the onset of wrinkles). Sat next to them were children dressed up in similar clothes from Boden and the like. The occasional designer buggy. The odd ‘yar, yar well I think Topham is by far the best school’. If I checked their pockets they would have been filled with Mulberry purses and keys to Volvo XC90s and Range Rover Sports.

“Probably lots of fairies as he does giggle a lot – just like you used to do” I said in answer to my daughter. Then as I was silently cursing the invasion of yuppy south Londoners in all their image conscious finery, I glanced down and noticed my brown boots over jeggings, flicked back my irritatingly long hair and caught the sunglasses that I had knocked off the top of my head from driving earlier….

Oh shit……

I am one of them (well not quite don’t have the dough or the accent so am maybe even worse…….. a lookalike wannabe).

So I am now desperate to do something to make me look different to them. I know I am different but nethertheless their style has caught like a virus. First I must do something with my hair – I am not dying it because once I go down that road I will never stop (like my Mum who I swear has less hair on the crown of her head because of all the bleaching over the years). In short I want to avoid the Kate bloomin’ Middleton look.

When I am not worrying about my personal image (sad isn’t it?) I am helping to raise money for charities like Unicef. I am aiming to raise £1 a day for unicef through this blog. So if you can help, please visit my page on the Unicef website.

Thanks for reading.


New England style

I can’t say anything that precedes the word ‘style’ without humming the ‘gangaman style’ tune – Heeeey sexy lady’. The reason for today’s post is to recognise an admiration for the New England style of home interiors. My friend has been told by her counsellor (don’t ask) that to try and salvage her relationship with her commitment-phobe farmer boyfriend (long story) she should pick a room in his cavernous 16th century farmhouse for them to ‘do up’ together to encourage him to think about life with her and not his old life with his ex. 

So, we started discussing interior homes styles – a subject neither of us are particularly comfortable with – we would rather discuss the latest results of the Formula One driver championships or the best breed of horse to ride. We are not natural ‘home-makers’ – we’ve kind of been press ganged into it because we are over 30 (and have a fanny which puts us at an instant disadvantage). 

I decided to start the discussion with “what kind of style do you like?”. There was a long pause and a puzzled expression. So I tried to define my style. The first thought that sprang to mind is that the furnishings are just a museum of relatives’ cast-offs and gifts. However there are some consistencies in the interiors of houses we have owned over the years.

The buyers of the first house we sold described it to the agent as feeling ‘like they were on holiday’. The stairs were painted blue (by our predecessors who happened to be lesbians but that is by the by), the walls white and the floor a sandy colour. The kitchen had very bright chequered tiles and the overall feel was ‘beachy’. Our next house we turned purple walls white and introduced gingham curtains. Our current house is white throughout with lots of checks, patterns, gingham etc in blues, reds, whites. The playroom has beach inspired art, sandy coloured laminate floors, lots of wicker and white flowing cotton curtains. I checked all this out on Pinterest and it turns out this is ‘New England’. Now our interior taste has been defined I am tempted to ‘New Englandify’ everything. A bit like my mother when she even stencilled the bin during the stencil craze of the nineties.

I am enjoying my new found interest in home interiors……not sure how long it will last though……

I am blogging every day for Unicef to help the charity protect vulnerable children world-wide. If you can support my efforts to raise £1 a day please check out my page on the Unicef website.

Thanks for reading.

Some dogs do

I just watched a documentary about Pitbull dogs. They are banned in the UK due to a number of vicious and high-profile attacks. Breeders have been trying to mask Pitbulls by crossing them with other breeds, which has created a grey area. Recently a lady won a court case that cost the UK taxpayer £20,00 to stop her pitbull cross being destroyed by the police. She enlisted the help of a dog behaviourist to define that the dog’s behaviour and breeding was not a public threat. 

As you know my dog was attacked a few weeks ago by a slightly larger Jack Russell. The dog had a vice-like grip on her neck and she would have been killed had we not intervened. To draw an unpleasant comparison, Maggie is about the size of a baby, her neck is probably the same diameter – need I say more.

It takes all shapes and sizes to attack – their character defines them as much as their breed. 

I used to work at a stable-yard where there were 2 rottweilers – one of them was affectionately known as Beatrice by the owner (who was also a bit of a Rottweiler herself). She always insisted they were harmless. But one day they saw red in a field full of sheep and ripped the poor animals to shreds – it was awful to see. There was more red grass in that field than green.

A slightly dodgy neighbour had her rottweiler destroyed when it attacked and killed a Jack Russell. The poor JR dog had only just come out of a dogs home for re-homing. One bite to the neck and it was dead. I had mentioned in previous posts about the lovely dog breeding combo we have in our street (Rottweiler cross Staffie), which has already bitten a few dogs in the area in unprovoked attacks. 

What do I conclude from all this? First that all animals should be restrained on a leash regardless of breed. Second, there are many, many breeds of dog to choose from – so why choose a dog bred for defence to keep in a domestic environment? I support the destruction of all Pitbull types, including crosses and I would like to add Rottweilers, Dobermans and Staffies to the list too – unless they are used in a controlled defence environment. There are too many cases, particularly involving children, of these breeds attacking and it is just not worth it.

Even though I own Jack Russells, after having experienced an attack from a Jack Russell I would think twice about owning any breed that was bred to kill or attack.

I am blogging every day for Unicef. I aim to raise £1 a day for the charity. If you can support the campaign, please visit my page on the Unicef website.

Thanks for reading.