The best of humanity

“They will just glance at you and walk past”, said my husband when he saw the banner I had put out in the corridor ready for tomorrow’s hoopathon for the Bhopal Medical Appeal. Of course I am hoping that won’t be the case, which is why myself and my friend will be making a complete spectacle of ourselves as we prance about spinning the hoop to hopefully more than one man and his dog. My husband has just criticised the image I am using for the banner, he thinks it will scare people away. I am hoping it will make them stop and look and want to know more.
It is difficult to summarise the Bhopal disaster in a nutshell without using lots of text. The image of the child’s face buried in the earth following the lethal chemical spill speaks volumes and is more powerful than words.

I will let you know who had the more accurate take on humanity in tomorrow’s post. In the meantime please take time to visit the website of the Bhopal Medical Appeal, to find out what happened and why I feel motivated to take action.

Thanks for reading this fundraising blog.

Ageing fashion

I work at a place that is quite experimental with fashion. I still find it bizarre how fashion works. One month something is considered a real fashion faux pas, the next it is heralded as a new trend. 

I spoke to a student today who looked fabulous wearing a long denim shirt and slightly torn patterned tights. She was only 16 but I don’t recall pulling off any fashion ensembles like that. The best I could muster was an attempt at the grunge look with one of my Dads old jumpers and some jeans that were more ripped than jeans shaped. 

What has made me feel really old however is the return of the 90s block heel. All of a sudden kids who were my age when I wore those shoes are now wearing the spice girl inspired block heels, some with the white trainer platform look AKA baby spice. I know it takes at least a decade for a unique fashion to come back, which is why I am feeling old because, like most people, I still think I am 17. I have got older but I am in denial of that fact. Therefore when I see teenagers wearing what I used to wear as a teenager, I feel that is not allowed because that was my era (which in my head was not that long ago) so it mustn’t be mixed up with teenage fashion now.

Another incident that makes me feel old was when I was driving some teenagers to an activity and I was playing one of the ‘Now That’s What I Call Music’ albums from a couple of years ago. In my older thirty-something world, a 2 year old album is up-to-date music. One of the teens said, “Oh my God I haven’t heard this in ages…..it’s so old”.

You also know you are getting old when your own mother turns round to you and says, “so when are you going to do something about the grey”. Aaaah bloody mother she has been dying my hair since I was 14. I am not going to continue into my sixties. 

Anyway I must go now as hubby is getting annoyed with a malfunctioning lamp and I don’t think me repetitively tapping a keyboard is helping….

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Let her eat cake

It was women only in the office today and we said our sad goodbyes to a valued member of the team who is off to pastures new. I don’t know whether it was because this term is so exhausting for everyone or whether all of us were in sync with our menstrual states, but there was a lot of heart to hearts going on – even a few tears. 

Like in many workplaces, the threat of redundancy and general job security lies underneath the surface and meanwhile we all do our jobs and try not to let the unstable make-up of the team and the uncertain future bother us. I am a great one for only worrying about the here and now not what may or may not happen.

So to make us all feel better it has become a bit of a tradition to eat home-made cake at team meetings. As one of my colleagues started to cry, cake was thrust into her arms and a smile lit up her face. A member of our team who has lost a lot of weight recently, refused point blankly to eat even a crumb and that got us onto the subject of eating disorders.

We all discussed experiences of either suffering a disorder or knowing of someone who had an issue.The youngest mentioned was an 11 year old bulimic. We all agreed that the obsession with the female shape to be a certain size continues to escalate and this has filtered down to the younger generation who seem to be affected by body image at a younger age.

As much as we criticise the pressure placed upon us to look thin, the truth is we (as in women) are our own worst enemy. We are the first to judge someone on their size and shape and the first to comment on weight gain and loss.

I don’t think this obsession with looking thin will diminish but how do we stop it from affecting young girls and teenagers? I’m not sure I have the answer at 10 past 11 on a weekday evening but it is definitely something that needs to be discussed….

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Power to the Power Hoop

This week I am mainly powerhooping!

My waist is zinging after taking a pounding at tonight’s class and yesterday’s but it is good to feel pummelled in the lumpy areas. It feels like you are literally chipping away at unwanted fleshy parts. 

We have been practising for our charity Hoopathon on Saturday for the Bhopal Medical Appeal and our routine will feature variations on:

All around the world – see a version here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=683NXam-I0I&noredirect=1

Jessie J’s Domino – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJtB55MaoD0&noredirect=1

And the finale (although tired it still pulls in the crowds) PSY and Gangnam style – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIQToVqDMb8&noredirect=1

I would love to come up with a routine for Bad Girls – but tempo is just a little slow and its haaaard work to spin it slow – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uYs0gJD-LE&noredirect=1 Love Love Love it!!

If you want to find out more about power hooping check out the official website.

Right back to practising and then……bed.

This blog is for Unicef – donate to the blogging campaign on Unicef’s fundraising site.

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No size for girls

My husband is pretending to hit my head on the window – in a joking manner of course – don’t go calling the police. It is because he is frustrated that on my day off from work, he likes to know what I have been doing all day, as if looking after a toddler is not enough to fill my time. I refuse to tell him because I will not fall into the ‘dutiful wife reporting to her master category’ – I have two letters for that, FO. 

I am unfortunately not the only woman who has this problem. If you stay at home with your children, you must be twiddling your thumbs and dodging work. It’s funny though that when you suggest to caveman that he do the ‘daddy day care’ and that you go out and earn the crust – he pales in horror at the thought. 

Also, like many women out there, I am a ‘shrink to fit’. On paper I have more qualifications than my husband and I could probably earn more than him. However that is not to discredit him as I am glad that he is the breadwinner so that I can enjoy the early years, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It just grinds on me when he also inclines towards expecting me to be a little subservient, like I am answerable to him somehow because I am not working full-time. 

This behaviour stems from his upbringing as his Dad was the breadwinner and his Mum the housewife. So I am hoping that my son and daughter witness a Mum and Dad that are more on an equal footing to move away from that very dated old-fashioned view. However, I think the only thing they are witnessing is this never-ending power struggle. I like to think this will alter once I am working full-time when my son starts school but somehow I just think I will be a lot busier…..

I was about to type that I am luckier than some women though, as ‘my husband does help around the house’ but why should that be extraordinary? As a Mum it is my duty to ensure my son and daughter both help out around the house equally and recognise that there is no such thing as ‘women’s work’. 

When shopping for shin pads for her daughter, my friend noticed that on the Sport Direct website they had the sizes described as ‘Boys Junior’ and ‘Boys infant’. There was no size for ‘girls’. That’s a pretty strong assumption to make. The views of women in society have stalled and in fact may be going backwards rather than forwards. Maybe in 10 years time I will be wearing empire line dresses, occupying my time with embroidery and powdering my heaving bosom as I ponder over a potential husband for my daughter.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. Check out my campaign here.

Thanks for reading.

 

A glint in the eye

Yesterday I was out til late with my Dad and StepMum for a Saturday night dinner and drinks eve for my Hubby’s birthday. We first went to view our new boat from the harbour (my Dad needed binoculars). If ever an optometrist needs a new format for eye-tests I have discovered one called ‘spot the boat’. This involves standing at a jetty in front of an estuary full of 50 plus sailing boats of various different shapes sizes and colours. You then try to identify a specific boat by describing features nearby. Such as “to the left of the boat with the blue hull”, to which my dad replies, “Oh I see it the one with the blue hull and the yellow buoyancy aid on the back”, to which I reply “no not that boat with the blue hull, the other one…..OK lets try something else….see the large catamaran?”. It took about 10 minutes before (I think) my Dad finally located the boat. I think he was expecting something bigger, I suppose we all have our own ideas of what 18 foot of boat looks like.

My Dad’s eyesight is not great, the result of several car accidents when he was younger. The most memorable one I remember my Mum describing to me, was when he flew over the top of the steering wheel and the windscreen just popped out because the seal was so rotten (they didn’t wear seatbelts in the 70s…or at least my Dad and his friends didn’t). Apparently my Dad was sat with his friend at the bottom of a deep ditch staring up at the car with its engine still running and lights on full beam. It happened so quick that one minute they were in the car and the next they were underneath it. I’m not sure about whether to believe this next bit, but my Mum was at home in bed when the accident happened and she said she woke up when she felt a sharp bang to the back of her head and neck. She thinks this happened around about the same time that Dad flew out of the car…kind of like a sixth sense? Well you believe what you want to believe don’t you?

That certainly wasn’t the last accident my Dad had, neither was it the worst. He flew through the windscreen with far graver consequences in a separate incident and has little red lines in his eyes where the glass from the windscreen was extracted. 

Thankfully this all happened while I was either a glint in Dad’s eye (inappropriate use of language in this context) or when I was still in nappies. In the village where we lived at the time, Dad was known as ‘rent a ditch’. I can’t think why….

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. For every day of down time I pay a pound. If you are able to chuck a pound in the pot that would be great – visit my page on Unicef’s site here.

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A lesson for life

My daughter has just started attending an after school football club run by a local well known FC. She is one of 3 girls in the club and 2 weeks in she is enjoying it and today played her first match. Her coach was impressed with her throw from the sidelines, which was aimed well at a player who then scored a goal. For me it was great to see her running with enthusiasm up and down the pitch and every now and then she would hug her friend if they passed the ball well to each other. 

However, they needed the solidarity out there because I noticed that the boys just didn’t pass to them. The other girl was playing in a match on the opposite side of the pitch and she was stuck in goal looking bored, despite being keen to get involved.

After the match I took a picture of the girls with their coach as they are hoping to get a Blue Peter badge. A friend of mine said she thought they had to do something extraordinary or unusual to get a badge and that is what I recall from watching blue Peter’s of old too.

However, when listening to my daughter explain that when they were getting changed, the boys were chanting “girls can’t play football” and when she was on the pitch they were making fun of her pink football socks, I thought to myself that this is rather a lot for a seven year old girl to contend with. She wasn’t complaining about what they said, just mentioning it as a bit of an annoyance, yet she didn’t let it affect her enjoyment of the game. 

This is the first time the boys have had girls in the activity so it is inevitable that they will be singled out. Yet Frances and her friend continued to run alongside them on the pitch and get themselves in a position where they could take the ball. I admired their tenacity and how brilliantly they were responding to a challenge that will face them when they are older – playing boys at their own game with the aim of being on a level playing field (scuse the pun).

I think such determination should be rewarded with a Blue Peter badge – Go Girls!

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. Please give the campaign your support by visiting Unicef’s website.

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Fast Forward

It was hubby’s birthday yesterday hence my blogging absence. 

Without blowing my own trumpet too much I think I am wonder woman (OK maybe that is blowing one’s trumpet) but I managed to successfully juggle children, dogs, work, shopping for hubby’s birthday dinner, feeding the horses (not my own am not that privileged!), supervising daughter’s cake baking and getting everyone to bed virtually on time so that we could have some time as a couple with a candlelit dinner for 2 (albeit in the playroom come dining room). Then tidying up for another house viewing the following evening.

OK I admit there were also a few hiccups: late for work, lost control of dogs and they went into a room at work that they shouldn’t have and disturbed the big boss (then my manager had to drag my dog out of the room on her back with her feet in the air because she had defaulted to the complete submission pose). I then left work a little late and drove my husband’s ageing pick-up a little too aggressively in order to make it to the school bus stop in time. I may have broken the speed limit in our village but I was impressed that I pulled up behind the bus just as it pulled away after having decanted all the pupils onto the pavement. 

My daughter is being wonder girl too, successfully navigating her way through school, homework, keeping her room tidy for house viewings, making a birthday card and cake for her dad, practising guitar, practising violin, helping me get baby brother into the car every morning, doing her reading book, working on her butterfly style in her swimming lessons with a very hard taskmaster and being the only girl in football club (well apart from one other girl but apparently she is ‘not really a girl more like a boy’). “she was the one that broke her leg doing the monkey bars Mum”……and she’s only in Year 2 – I am impressed.

Hubby too is impressive, managing a business, putting in hard labour then getting up at the crack of dawn to drive 2 hours to spend all day at college learning the science of trees. In fact the only one who has got it relatively easy at the moment is baby boy, although I’m sure if he could talk more, he would tell me what a busy day he had at nursery while I was at work.

In summary, we all seem to be living our lives in fast forward at the moment and each day can seem like a hurdle to be overcome rather than an experience to relish. Thank god we have got the boat to retreat to, although daughter’s theatre school and a friend’s party mean we can’t go out this weekend….and next weekend I am doing the charity event for the Bhopal Medical Appeal plus daughter has got another friend’s party and…

As my fridge magnet says, ‘Its been lovely but I need to scream now!’…

I am blogging every day for Unicef. For every day I miss I donate 1 pound to the charity. If you could contribute too that would be great – visit the Unicef site.

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I’m spinning around…..

The opening lines of a Kylie Minogue song depict the theme tune to my life this week. Unicef are doing well out of my offline fee as last night’s absence racked up another one pound donation. Strictly speaking I did have time to blog, but hubby wanted me to cuddle up to him in front of the fire (something we rarely do together) so thought I better sacrifice the blog for a little boost to our marriage (plus it is his birthday tomorrow too). He ended up falling asleep on my shoulder while I watched a fascinating programme about avalanches.

Yesterday after school was particularly good as I found my daughter was far more willing to ride round the fields when I joined her on another horse. Now baby boy seems to be able to operate small ride on toys such as the trike, he was happy busying himself on that while me and my daughter rode round the paddock by the yard. It was a lovely autumnal evening and we were trotting round the paddock looking out across the fields and the trees beyond and, occasionally, riding alongside each other (when her pony decided to put in the extra effort to keep up). After a while I did have to put him on a lead rope as he decided to amble back to the gate once he had done a few laps, leaving my daughter flapping her legs in an effort to influence him in the opposite direction in a manner similar to the Thelwell cartoons. 

What I hadn’t anticipated was the amount of pleasure we both experienced riding together. I did this briefly with my Mum when I was a teenager, but she wasn’t very confident and the hacking sometimes got a little boring. However, I am hoping that my daughter will enjoy it once we get beyond the gates of the stables. Particularly as we live in a horse friendly area, where there is a hitching post both at the local shop and pub to stop for drinks and ice-cream.

Changing the subject to the attempt to sell our house, I hadn’t anticipated how annoying it would be to respond to constant enquiries from neighbours on how many viewings we have had, whether we received any feedback and tolerating listening to their own views on the price of our house and commentary on the health of the property market. If I lived in a fantasy world where I wouldn’t cause offence if I told them to eff off, I would be saying ‘fuck off you nosy bastards’ but sadly I have to tolerate such enquiries and provide a response, albeit guarded. It is a bit like being close to the end of a pregnancy and people asking when the due date is and whether you have had any contractions. 

The biggest annoyance is keeping the house unusually tidy for viewings and disappearing every weekend for people to look round. Particularly when, after having tolerated viewings at relatively unsociable hours for families (kid’s bedtime), they insult you by putting in an offer 30k below asking. When you ask them to improve that offer, they then only increase it to 5k. I would be considered a mug if we sold our house for the same price that we bought it for 6 years ago – but strangely some people think that we might like to accept the offer to find out what it is like to actually be a mug.

Once again I find myself using the letters ‘FO’ ………..and its only Tuesday.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. It would be fabulous if a fellow blogger could donate to this campaign – if you do I will gladly mention you in my next blog post plus any other words you would like to see me try to weave into the text.

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Sunset from the Sea

First of all, I owe 2 pounds in offline fees to Unicef, having not blogged for a couple of days.

I do have very good excuses for not blogging. The prime one being last night’s sail lesson on our new boat, a swift 18. We were delighted to have an experienced sailor on board as we left the harbour at gone 6pm with my daughter to get some confidence inducing experience from a man who knows his stuff. We learnt how to arrange the sails in a goose-wing, to make the most of sailing down-wind and how to gybe, tack and reef the main-sail. 

For beginners, we were fortunate to have a very calm evening. It was almost dead calm and the sea was like a mill pond. So each manoeuvre was gentle and we could explore the boat without the pressure of literally being ‘under the weather’. In fact it is not until you start sailing that you realise so many sayings come from life on the water. Here is a list just off the top of my head:

‘sailing too close to the wind’
‘paid/ paying our dues’ (paying harbour dues so can sail in the harbour)
‘three sheets to the wind’ (a bit tipsy)
‘all hands to the deck’
‘batten down the hatches’
‘paid off’ (backing the sails when in a sail boat no go zone to get momentum again)

There are many many more, some are linked to old sailing traditions on naval ships and merchant vessels, such as ‘wiping the slate clean’. At the helm, the watch keeper would record details of speed, distances, headings, etc. on a slate. At the beginning of a new watch the slate would be wiped clean.

My husband and I absorbed as much information as our not  so sophisticated brains could manage, while our daughter took everything in like a sponge and was in her element as there were so many things she could do effectively. For a seven year old wanting to have a bigger role in the ‘grown-up world’ this experience was fantastic for her. Largely helped of course by a fantastic teacher – we all thought he was brilliant and made our first full sailing experience in our little Swift a positive one.

The session ended with a stunning view of the sun setting at sea. To me everything seems more magical from the on water perspective. First the rain hitting the sea last week, then the sun setting reflecting beautiful colours and shapes on the sea’s surface. We all can’t wait to explore more….

I am blogging to raise money for Unicef. Check out my site on Unicef here and please make a donation if you are able.

Thanks for reading.