A bird in the hand and too many in the freezer

What a stormy night. The house is leaking, baby boy’s window blew wide open sending the Christmas card he made for us spiralling out of the window :(. Meanwhile I have been attempting to make good use of two pheasants a neighbour gave to us (dead and plucked) after their friend gave them one to many birds for their chest-freezer. I admit I sounded a bit ungrateful when the neighbour offered them to us at first, “Are they plucked?”. I was also rather reluctant, as, being Christmas, I already had one huge bird in the freezer, and just didn’t have room for any more. So I de-frosted them and quickly searched BBC Good Food for  recipe that would involve minimal bird prep (in other words shove both birds in the oven at the same time and be done with it). I discovered a Raymond Blanc recipe that looked straight forward with only a little bit of faff (I have mentioned in earlier posts how much I admire chefs for their amazing ability to create gorgeous food through a lot of faffing and jiggery pokery).

As a person who relies on packet and jarred sauces, the idea of creating a jus and a bread sauce from scratch was daunting. But I was chuffed to bits when my husband polished off the dish with his conclusion of “‘ansome!”. Like women from decades previous who had slaved in front of a stove wearing a bright pinny, I was beaming with pride that hubby had approved. Although he did remark that it was a bit late to be eating at 10pm. “Masterchef would have done it a lot quicker”. Yes but it is even more challenging if your mother rings half-way through cooking and your husband is asking for the precise location of every towel in the house to soak up rainwater.

In fact they should add that as a new challenge in masterchef – to cook in a family kitchen whilst dealing with family and minor crises – it would make great TV.

I am now going to sign-off from this blog for Christmas – my offline fee will tot up nicely for Unicef while I overdose on food, TV and family. So to all fellow bloggers out there, stay warm, stay dry and stay happy over Christmas. I will blog again a couple of days after Santa has paid his visit. Lets hope Santa pays Unicef and all other children’s causes a helpful visit this Christmas.

This blog is here to raise money for Unicef – find out more about Unicef here.

Thanks for reading.

Happy Christmas


Children in Need this winter

Ewan McGregor, long-time supporter of children’s rights charity, Unicef, has helped with the launch of a renewed appeal for help in Syria. Since the conflict began, six million children are in need of aid, 1 million children are living in refugee camps. Winters are particularly harsh in Syria and Unicef need as much funding as possible to get blankets, warm clothing, food and medicine to these children so that they can survive the winter.

Airliner Easyjet have also joined the campaign and are inviting all their passengers to donate their loose change and un-used currency to the campaign, with hundreds of thousands of passengers flying with Easyjet this Christmas, the campaign will hopefully get a much needed boost.

There are many causes appealing for help this Christmas. Syria is a humanitarian disaster with children the main victims of the conflict, by donating the money will ensure children struggling to survive in this war-torn country will have a chance of a better life in 2014 – it couldn’t be a better gift to give.

Through 2014, I have been blogging every day to encourage fellow bloggers to donate if possible to help Unicef protect children world-wide. For every day I missed a blog post, I donated one pound to the charity. So far this has totalled 87 pounds. Five pounds alone provides a family of seven with fresh clean water for a week. So thank you for reading this blog and continuing to support my efforts to make a change in the world one day at a time.

If you are able to donate to support the work of Unicef in Syria – please visit their site here.

Thanks for reading.

The hunt for a family

I saw something in the paper that made me catch my breath. It was an advert that was so effective in communicating the intended message that I instantly wanted to respond. The picture was of four pairs of wellie boots, children’s and adults. Underneath it was an appeal for two boys looking for a family to adopt them. Both were under five with learning difficulties and one had a visual impairment. Clearly the council had experienced difficulty finding a family for them. It was heart-breaking to read that boys so young had already lost all hope of being with their natural parents for whatever reason.

We looked into adopting after we struggled to conceive a second child. Typically when the social worker approved us to start the training course, I fell pregnant. We were obviously elated and agreed that we would look into adopting a third child if it was still possible in the future. What is difficult is that the adopted child must have their own bedroom and we have a three bedroom house. I am not sure the social workers would permit us making another bedroom available by getting our son and daughter to share, as this is only a short-term solution. They will  inevitably need their own rooms. I have also considered being a foster parent, but my husband is uncomfortable with that. So for now we will have to wait until we are in a position to extend our house or move. Until then I often think about the children we could be helping and how old they will be when the courts decided that they can no longer stay with their natural parents and then wait for the right family to come along. I sometimes think that a baby born now may need to be adopted by the time our house is ready or by the time we have finished our training. It Is heart-breaking to think so many children are waiting for adoption and it still takes 2 years or more to place children with their new families. Two years is an awful long time in a child’s life – it is too long.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. If you can help, please donate to Unicef here.

Thanks for reading.

Technology in childhood is no bad thing

This topic is hot off the press of an earlier argument with my hubby on children and technology. Earlier today while having my coil fitted, the Doctor mentioned that she had bought a small laptop for her 8 year old daughter. “That’s too young” uttered my husband as he was scanning through bike websites n his tablet, “they should be at least 11.” Why? He had no valid justification for this viewpoint other than it was the age when he first started using computers. Just because our generation didn’t have tech through our primary years means that our children’s generation must also have their introduction to tech delayed. Mm interesting theory.

Why do so many people view technology as some kind of enemy that will rob our children of all innocence? The fact is a lot of homework is now online, My daughter receives weekly tasks for online homework and even her music practice can be done online. The software makes learning fun by using mini games and  rewards as she progresses through the stages. In the music homework, she not only hears backing music to make  her practice more enjoyable, she also has her learning interspersed with the occasional music video of a chamber concert in action so that she can see what could be potentially achieved with the instrument she is learning.

I agree that too much time spent in front of a screen is not healthy, just like not taking enough exercise is not healthy. But it is all relative, a little bit of tech each day does no harm. In many ways it can enrich our children’s lives and expand their horizons. Social media is a good thing too providing it is used just like any other communications channel – limited to friends not strangers and not for too long (you wouldn’t be on the phone to your friend for 2 hours so no need to be Facebooking for this long either). I despair when I hear parents say, “My daughter received a Kindle for Christmas last year but I don’t let her read books on it, I insist she reads a ‘proper’ book instead’. I don’t understand this mentality, Kindles are different to screens so they don’t affect your eyes in the same way computers do therefore they are no different in appearance to reading a page in a book. They are less bulky to carry around, easier to hold and have a huge storage capacity for books – plus they save trees. Tech is there to make it easier to gain and access information. Just like domestic appliances were invented to speed up household chores and cars were invented to cut down journey times. We need to stop viewing it as an enemy and a tool only to be used in adult-hood and start accepting that children will still climb trees, run around outside and read books because tech doesn’t replace these activities, it just adds another dimension to their lives.

I am blogging every day for Unicef – please donate to the charity here.

Thanks for reading.

Faith in overcoming hurdles

Last day at work and school and I was hairing it around this morning like a turkey without a head (have just lost my train of thought as my hubby just came down the stairs stark bollock naked to load more logs on the fire). It has made me reflect that after ten years of marriage, we hardly admire each other naked for very long – there just isn’t the time. So it is a rare treat (particularly in the winter). The difference between newly weds and a 10 year in couple is a few years back I would have rugby tackled him to the ground in the nod, whereas now I pause to admire and then carry on typing this blog.

Not much happened today to pass comment on except that I took my powerhoop into work and encouraged my colleagues to have a go with comical consequences. Desks were bashed, paperwork went flying and at one point it was used as a form of warming up through exercise when we lost our heating temporarily.

This evening I was excited to be able to watch the best of showjumping on mainstream TV, well almost, the good old BBC red button to see Olympia’s puissance live. It is basically high jump for horses and as they scale each height level, the fence is jacked up even higher. What made this year’s winner special was the untidy but effective way in which the little mare (small compared to the other horses) jumped the intimidating wall leaving her rider and the audience stunned that all the bricks were left intact. Before every new height the Italian rider walked her up to the wall and peered over the other side with a smile as if to say – ‘lets do this’. He was also the only rider not to use a martingale or drop noseband on his horse, allowing her as much freedom as possible short of riding tack free. He trusted her to do her job so gave her the freedom to do it. A comparison can be drawn with the programme Educating Yorkshire and the relationship between the students and teachers. The teachers have faith the students can achieve and the students try because they know their teacher has faith in them.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef – please donate here.

Thanks for reading.

An elusive Christmas spirit

I am embarking on this post after a marathon whirl of feeding animals, feeding kids, playing taxi and keeping a 2 year old busy during a school panto show. The next thing on my to do lit is sandwiches for tomorrows school Christmas party. But its now 10.30 and I’m knackered after a broken night’s sleep with a restless baby boy. Hubby is shattered too after a 2 hour commute to college as he strives for a qualification that will provide a career that takes less of a toll on his body. When we are both tired we are like two bulls tiring at eachother through a red curtain. In other words, a tad vulnerable to outbursts.

In these situations it helps to have dogs. Just by stroking them you instantly feel calmer. I took them to work today and I sensed that everyone in the office just relaxed a little. Dogs seem to act like sponges soaking up all tension and replacing it with calm. Its much better than a glass of wine, although an ideal post work and children evening would be a fire, plus dog, plus wine, plus a bit of classic fm. All I need to do is add a blanket on my lap and you would be forgiven for thinking I was aged about 80. But sometimes its exhausting raving to dubstep on Radio 1 and driving round like a maniac (OK I am not quite like that either).

At this point it is difficult to think of winding down for Christmas. In fact its difficult to think of Christmas at all. Part of the problem is that we don’t have a Christmas tree. We jut resent paying the expensive price tag for one, instead we may decorate a nice branch to be discovered on a walk. In the meantime though, our Christmas decorations are in bags on the bedroom floor and 2 year old baby boy enjoys sorting through them no doubt wondering why Mummy and Daddy have all these sparkly thing lying around. I felt particularly bad when he was fascinated with the Christmas tree at my daughter’s school. He was having so much fun tapping the baubles and looking at his rather round-faced reflection in them. So this weekend we will hunt some festive foliage down in the hunt for that elusive Christmas spirit.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef. If you can help please donate here.

Thanks for reading.


Wooden spoon therapy

First I must apologise for recent posts with typos littered throughout. All blame is pinned, not to me, but to this useless piece of shit keyboard connected to my tablet Surface PC. I have to hammer at the letters to get it to make sense and as for the spacebar….either I have unusually small and light thumbs or it was built for men with hands like shovels.

Nethertheless I will attempt to do a btter stop-check of my work – oh dear.

After having left the toilet yesterday and overcome the worst of the bug, I jumped back on the treadmill an attempted a last minute Christmas shop with my 2 year old boy. After an hour of apologising for daring to bring my child and buggy along for the Christmas retail ride, “oh sorry was that your foot?”, I regretted the number of layers I had dressed in that morning as I was slowly being boiled alive by the combined elements of ridiculously high shop heating, too much body heat and a growing feeling that things were working against me that morning, “I’m sorry that toy is out of stock”. If someone had recommended to me at that point, that the only way to de-stress is to rip all your clothes off and dance up the high street using buggy and baby boy as a performance prop I would have taken them up on their suggestion.

At school pick up time, I help my daughter search for her football boots. I am surprised that they are not lurking in the depths of the lost property bin (it literally is a bin). Rather they are directly outside the PE changing area – that is what a 7 year old considers to be a thorough search. I then felt I was on a winning streak and would find yet more items that have been lost along the way (hairbrushes, cardigans, a bit of my sanity) but no.

However my daughter’s teacher did put me one step closer to madness, by adding to the task list of the last week of term and Christmas prep the requirement to ‘make roman food’. So earlier I prevented baby boy from tripping up the elderly in the supermarket by keeping him entertained collecting the ingredients off the shelves for a recipe, thought to be roman, that my daughter discovered on the internet. Unfortunately she saved the web page on my husbands laptop. He is crap at sharing – pictures of him and his friend’s when he was a boy display him in mid-tantrum over sharing anything – from a toy to the attention of his pet dog. So when he came in from work and saw me frantically trying to rustle a shepherds pie together with a packet of quorn and a ridiculously spicy Lloyd Grossman sauce (because that was all that was in the cupboard) he threw a wobbly when he saw my daughter studying his laptop for the recipe surrounded by flour eggs and lots of honey. I meanwhile was desperately trying to make the bizarre spicy shepie work by being even more clever and adding a ton of mashed potato (owing to an internet food order that went disastrously wrong we are surrounded with bags of potatoes).

As hubby started to have a go about his laptop, I did what any sane women who is a little on the edge after a crap couple of days and awaiting time of the month – I threw a wooden spoon into the air – it did the trick. I instantly felt better because I channelled my anger into a spoon and not a loved one and for once my hubby got the message that he needed to back the hell off. The only person who didn’t quite get it was my daughter, “Mummy, that was a perfectly old spoon you just broke”.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef – read more here.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday’s papers

What a delightful Sunday! The weather was gorgeous (high winds, driving rain and grey skies), I had so many lovely things to do (my head down the loo, in bed asleep or reading in-between) feeling sick.

On days like these it is hard to find the positives. However as I was quarantined upstairs like a character in Jane Eyre, I could indulge in some reading. I love reading but it is anti-social and anti-children. I attempt to read but this happens just before bed when I can just about stay awake to read through 2 pages. I have a kindle and took this with me on my girly weekend away last week and never looked at it once – because I was too busy chatting. I have a library card but because it takes me so long to get through a novel and I always forget to renew, I have fines that have clocked up to 17 pounds. This is not such an issue as the librarian responsible for borrowing and returns has now been replaced by a machine that looks more like it should serve you coffee. When it flags up that ‘there is an issue with your account’, I just press ‘skip’ and problem gone. Don’t think that would wash with the librarian if I just asked if ‘we could skip the step where you ask me to pay my exorbitant fees’.

However it has got to the stage where even the machine won’t renew this particular book because I have renewed it one too many times. It I a beast of a book covering Alistair Campbell’s diary entries during the Blair Years. It is a fascinating read but not a beach or sick bed read necessarily as it can take a little effort to make sense of the political spider’s web that Campbell, Blair and the party often fond themselves over such important issues as peace in Northern Ireland. I was only a teenager during these years and not terrible interested in the deeper issues. I recall being aware of the Bosnian war and the footage of the Pilot who had been beaten half to death in captivity but there mu understanding of it ends. I had o idea how instrumental Blair was in using politics to help stop the war and the amount of effort it took to keep the US onside with the military strategy and then encourage the neighbouring countries to assist in getting rid of Milosevic. Far more powerful and meaningful than his involvement in the aftermath of Diana’s death and the Royal Family’s PR blunder. But I shouldn’t assume compete responsibility for my ignorance as the AC diaries regularly pint out his frustrations with the press who paid attention to trivia not Government policy. You could maybe forgive the Mirror, Sun and Mail for this approach but apparently they were all at it and if they shouted about it enough the BBC would follow suit too. Whereas European papers were interested far more in the politics and less so on politician’s family planning and fashion.

But they wouldn’t report it if they didn’t thin it would sell papers. So either us Brits should talk with our feet or I assume we are a nation of nitwits in comparison to the rest of Europe, which seems to have a more discerning readership? Of course this is coming from a time when The Sun were particularly influential in securing the hearts and minds of voters. I am not convinced an awful lot has changed.

I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef – see my page n Unicef’s site here.

Thanks for reading.

All coiled up

So next week I will plunge into the coil mark 2. I am looking forward to the onset of Aunt Irma visiting again because it means I should be on track for next week’s procedure as you need to be bleeding to have it done. Oh the joy of being a woman. As the last coil was wonky, I have had several months of mood swings and spottiness. So bad in fact that I had to go to the Doctors to find out why I was having such bad moods and it was then she discovered the dislodged coil.

The biggest problem I experience during the moody time is my short temper and how little I can tolerate my husband. I love him to bits but, like all married couples, there are irritants. So I am hoping the coil will help re-programme me to take with a little dosage of the chill pill.

Of course it also helps to go to bed at a decent time too, as we were back late after a trip to the cinema to see The Hunger Games. A great concept that combines chapters of our worse history in crimes against humanity with sci fi and tech. What spoilt it a tad was the All American teenage hunks as the male characters but I was pleased with the strength of the lead female character, so often lacking in films. It also didn’t help that there were a bunch of young twats who found it more entertaining to check out their phones and jump around in their seats than watch the film. I felt like a complete granny when I uttered to hubby, “I don’t remember behaving like that when I was a teenager”. I may have a selective memory though……like my mother.

I am blogging every day for Unicef – check out my page on Unicef’s site for more info and to donate.

Thanks for reading.