Sunburnt with Mr Toad

Well the weather Gods read my blog post yesterday and laughed as I applied moisturiser to my sunburnt face this evening. 

I knew we were off on the boat today so I put my thermals on and my extra padded bra (partly for warmth, partly for show) and didn’t think, given how cold it was yesterday, that I would need to apply sun cream. But as anyone who has ever spent time on the sea will know, on a clear day you can get sunburnt in December at sea (something about zero shade and a reflective surface……just like skiing).

So now my complexion has gone from wallpaper paste to salmon in the space of a few hours. I will go brown (but have to experience the blushing look first) but not so good for keeping the wrinkles at bay. 

I loved the experience on the sun kissed sea today, but spent most of my time staying out of everyone’s way and trying to keep baby boy out of the way too. In the end, en route back, we were tacking so much it was easier to go down below than keep stopping baby boy up and swapping sides. It has been a good 6 months since we were last on the boat but am convinced the children have grown a lot since then because the boat seemed crowded. 

Think my ‘Mr a Toad’ of a husband is thinking of upgrading. We have already replaced the car and, possibly, about to replace the motorbike this week (hence the Mr Toad reference). That’s ok, he was my favourite character in Wind in the Willows, but my approach to constraining his enthusiasm for all modes of transport is more like Mole than Badger.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

A wish for Aussie grandparents……and sun and sea

Today I was mostly cold and cursing my parents for having me in this country and then disappearing to sunnier climes in retirement (Australia), then they have the audacity to say how good it is down under and that we should go there…….with what money? 

Why didn’t they visit Australia BEFORE they had children, realise it was warmer and more pleasant outside, move, have children, then retire, go to the UK and say ‘thank God we moved, it was bloomin cold up there and the children all have runny noses’.

This is why I am eating more than normal (as per yesterday’s blog) because my body is still in hibernate mode and desires fat to keep warm. Ok it didn’t help today that I spent 2 hours on a boat, trying to stay still and not get caught up in all the lines hanging from the mast as my husband spent ages faffing…..what is it about boats and faffing? I reminded him of my proximity to the lines just before he did the big heave-ho as I was envisioning a scenario whereby he had not only strung the mast up but me as well. While there were 10 minutes of contemplation admiring the water and the scenery for the majority of the time my focus was keeping myself and the children dry and u frozen in anticipation of a drink and something to eat at the pub by the slipway.

By the time we got to the pub, I looked ridiculous in my winter wooly hat, sunglasses and galoshes but it made us do much more appreciative of a drink, a nibble, and a fire as we looked out at the sea – an appreciation that has lasted centuries.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

Uncharted waters…

Our boat is now on the water, in arguably one of the most beautiful spots on the South Coast. Compared to others moored nearby, it looks like a wind-up toy but we are boating on a budget so anything that float goes in our book. 

But it’s my daughter that already has ‘the bug’. Having helped us sometimes willingly and sometimes unwillingly on our boat, she is keen to get at the helm of a dinghy and has been studying the RYA handbook for children on sailing. So we decided we best get our money out and pay for a course. As it happens, the place we are now moored has its own sailing club. When I downloaded the membership form I noticed there had to be a ‘proposer’ and a ‘seconder’ which had to be people already in ‘the club’. This gave me the impression it was some old men’s club where you sit in Big chairs, drink brandy and smoke cigars. So, when we went down to the boat today, I noticed the clubhouse was open so decided to see how archaic it really is. I went up to the place that seemed to be most receptive to guests (where they were serving tea and cake) and as I started to explain my intentions a smiley lady putting milk in her tea, who had clearly just come off the water, remarked that her ears had been flapping when I came in and that she would be happy to talk to me as she is the memberships secretary.

She then proceeded to spend the next 40 minutes giving myself and my daughter a tour of the clubs facilities, the boats she could sail and details of all the events they have coming up. She couldn’t have been more welcoming and helpful and said not to worry about the proposer and seconder ‘it’s all old hat anyway’….phew! 

As she talked about the different boats and what my daughter could start doing on the water, my daughter’s eyes grew larger and larger. She desperately wants to start. Being a club I will have to pull my weight too to help her, so I am going to embark on a steep learning curve. I know how to tack up a horse, but rigging a dinghy? Cluelessmum.com

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading.

a good name for Sunday

The birds were twittering, the sun was kinda out, I was in a better mood thanks to some sleep. It was one of those days when you have no plans other than to do what the mood (and life in general) takes you. In this case it was tackling a flower bed I have long since wanted yo sort out, but in previous years not tackled because by the time I decide to do something the clay soil is rock hard and only a JCB would make anything mood.

So I set to with my shovel and trowel, ably assisted by my baby boy, while hubby and daughter tackled barnacles underneath our little boat ready for the 2015 ‘season’. 

After a few hours I had managed to re-locate the stubborn lilies to another bed and extract all the roots from the one I was doing up. The boat was gleaming too. Next door neighbour’s son then came in for a play on the ‘ship’, they put on their life jackets and pretended they were sailing on the high seas in front of our house (fuelled by chocolate marshmallows). 

‘Twas a good Sunday and we didn’t spend a penny. Just wish we had this weather all year round..

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading.

October is the new August

It is that time of year when you start to get a tickle in your throat and a snuffle in your nose. That combined with two glasses of wine, a tummy full of curry and a day spent painting the garden fence meant bed beckoned early, minus the blog post – so £1 in the pot to Unicef, as per the fundraising initiative.

I admit it became obsessive yesterday – a wooden fence, a large tub of green paint, kids occupied, a dry October day – it didnt get better than that – it was project paint the fence.

I also got paint on my face, hands, trainers, jumper and jeans. As it was green I looked slightly mouldy, perfect for Halloween preparations. The children were having fun in the front garden in the ‘trench’ that had been dug up for the new car park area. Every now and then I went to check on them and tried not to look at how muddy and brown their faces and clothes were quickly becoming.

Sometimes doing things on impulse, just because the weather is good and doing an activity that doesnt cost anything or requires you to drive anywhere can be immensely satisfying. During the day I turned a brown fence green, while I turned green too and the children turned brown. Not often you can enjoy so much quality time outside in late October.

Today I went out on a ride on my friend’s horse, when he went loony after my Jack Russell decided to chase and bark at him while were cantering along. But she had a grin on her face the entire time, which gave her something else to think about other than picking a fight with her Mum.

We then got the boat out of the water for the winter and my son enjoyed feeling for barnacles on the hill while my daughter helped scrub seagull poo off the deck.

Turns out October is the new August.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Schizophrenic Sailor Saturday

“A bad day at sea is better than a good day at the office or school…or even, at times, home’.

I had never put this saying to the test but today, in force 5 plus winds, we put it to the test.

I am relatively new to sailing. I did my RYA 1 and 2 in a crash course in my late teens (in 3 days our whole crew hit a wreckage and capsized and spinnakered into Royal Naval waters and got booted put by the Military Police). I always had designs on logging up enough hours to go for 3 plus but it didnt happen until the day my husband (slightly more experienced than I) took the plunge and decided to buy a boat the whole family could enjoy. We have only owned it a year (and have already grown out of it) but it has changed our lives. Every spare moment we get we hike down to the coast and have become obsessed with tide times and weather.

Today the wind was up, which was fun (although feel slightly nervous when we are on the heel and glance down below to see the dogs upended out of their bed and baby boy astride the keel for stability…..while our daughter just leans back and carries on reading her book). The world and his wife were also taking advantage of the wind and everyone was buzzing around tacking and zipping along. Sailing is a bit like patting your head and rubbing your stomach while hopping and skipping – you have to have your wits about you.

Even anchored its a challenge on choppy seas. For example, making coffee, putting baby boy on potty, getting daughter out of a wetsuit and trying not to wet yourself because it was ages since you visited the loo (and there isn’t one aboard).

Perhaps the biggest challenge is the job I had of hoisting the sails. Sails are schizophrenic. On a calm day you study the sail as it makes its steady journey up the mast and cajole it to take some wind and when it catches you cajole it some more, but all in a very relaxed manner while munching maybe on a cucumber sandwich and sipping tea. On a windy day it feels like you are trying to haul up a bag of concrete that threatens to swing into your face at any moment and rather than studying it’s progress you hoist it as quickly as possible while it has a fit. You do this while trying o to stay upright yourself by some kindof pole-dancing move round the mast. This is made even worse if you are trying to take the sail down. Add a lunatic genoa to the mix trying to swipe you from behind and it feels like you are involved in a pub brawl.

But believe it or not, it was strangely enjoyable and a very good way to spend a Saturday…..

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Love handles and seagulls

My obsession of washing machines was thankfully short-lived. We now have an ex-rental Bosch that is actually washingpur clothes hurrah! Having the ability to wash is vital and when you are denied that ability it is more than just frustrating, you feel like a student all over again..

My new obsession is tackling my love handles. It seems I cant escape them. Next year is my 35th and a friend once said to me that once you hit 35 anything stuck to your body by that point remains there til you die. So I have 6 months to shift unwanted lumps and bumps before everything is set in stone (or flesh). I have resigned myself to the ‘junk in my trunk’ bum, which I have learnt over the years to ‘package’. Love handles on the other hand just cant resist to give me a little ”muffin top’ regardless of what I am wearing. If I could choose a cake to resemble it would NOT be a muffin. I am thinking more along the lines of a chocolate eclair (brown and slim). There is a cake in my local cupcake shop that you can buy called a ‘Dolly Parton’, which consists of a meringue top, with a cherry. My favourite is the ‘Clark Gable’ which has a coffee fondant (to be alittle more up-to-date it should be re-named the ‘George Clooney’.

Next, why the seagulls? We have a small boat moored in a harbour on the South coast. It has now appeared on the Seagull version of google maps as ‘a good place to hang out and poop’. Last time we we t to the boat, the gulls had really gone to town. I refused to embark until all the poo had gone, so I bobbed up and down on the tender while hubby scrubbed and I occasionally threw him the odd baby wipe. So I have been reading reviews on the best things to repel gulls and have opted for this rotating mechanism that spins with the wind.

But while I was bobbing up and down on the sea waiting, a huge splash sound came from the starboard side and as I turned I caught sight of the end of a tail of something very big. We were in the shallow waters of the harbour so I struggled to think what it could have been. Then a movement caught my eye and I turned to see a seal about 30 metres from us, its beautiful head and huge eyes looking at us – I shouted for my hubby to catch sight of it, then it disappeared and popped its head up further along the channel. It was a lovely moment to be on the sea and catching a glimpse of such a beautiful creature sharing eachother’s environment. It made all the seagull shit worthwhile.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Blowing away the holiday

As the saying goes, ‘The sea remembers what you forgot’. In this instance, we forgot to download the marine weather app to our mobile phone. We had planned a sea crossing to a popular island n England’s South-East coast, but on the day it was dead calm, we decided to anchor down at a beach for a while too long followed by supper at a marina for my Dad’s birthday. The plan was to make the crossing the following morning. We awoke in the morning o gale force winds and gusts, not all that confidence inspiring on a small boat with two kiddywinks in tow. So we decide to hedge our bets and head back to our mooring. 

On a good note we made it back to our mooring in record time with a few grins thanks to fill sails to go with it. Thankful for the shelter of the harbour, we assure ourselves that we made the right decision. Once home, we consult the weather app to find winds dont improve much, so the week we had earmarked for the boat has had to change (plus one night spent with two children on an 18 footer sent my husband calling ‘time out’ the following morning……he has been looking at bigger boats ever since.

So now tomorrow we have swapped the water for tarmac and are spending the rest  of the holiday on a motorhome. Don’t get us wrong, we would rather be at sea but the weather is not on our side.

Sometimes I feel like I am married to Mr Toad from Wind in the Willows. Next it will be the gypsy caravan, narrow boat or train…..or Easyjet.

This blog raises money for Unicef, so I will be putting a pound in the pot for every day of missed blogging.

Hope you are enjoying the summer and thanks for reading.

Coconut & Kitsch

I have just drunk a cup of coffee mixed with coconut milk and it tasted good. I am also wearing a small Jack Russell porcelain ornament on a necklace around my neck on an impulse buy this morning – it is a strange mixture of cute and bad taste, I suppose you would describe it as ‘kitsch’. However as I passed it dangling in the shop window it pulled me like a magnet because it looked like one of my dogs when she was a puppy. However, the way it is assembled looks as if the dog is literally hanging from its neck ie being hung, or it is playfully dangling – I see it in different lights according to my mood. It was relatively cheap (funny that) so it is not as if I spent a fortune on something whimsical  – I am a fan of spending money for better causes.

Nethertheless, like the bag I have covered in boats, it was something that ‘I had to have in my life’. My husband succumbs to these temptations too but they tend to be a lot bigger budget (machines mainly). I knew he would grumble at my hung dog so I decided not to mention it, despite the fact that it is dangling around my neck – he hasnt noticed it yet – shows how often he looks at my chest…

This is a short one today as I have had my head in a computer for long enough already filling out another job application. In an ideal world I would be a social worker, but until they bring back the one year degree conversion training, I will plough on through my existing ditch, in an effort to avoid the dead-end that is looming.

I think the message from today’s post is try something different if your gut says go with it, even if its coconut milk and porcelain miniature dogs on chains.

This blog is for Unicef. Thanks for reading.

Losing yourself

OK, I admit there are moments (too frequent) when I am away with the fairies. Evident in posts such as the one a few days ago when I was moaning that there was no coverage of the Isle of Man TT race. For some bizarre reason I thought it was taking place over the bank holiday weekend. Imagine my delight and confusion when we purchased a TV recorder earlier this week to find the TT previews and reviews had popped up all over the next 7 days on ITV 4. I even had a stupid moment when I thought ‘well that’s no good, what’s the point in previewing the past’. I feel it is good to recognise moments when my brain has momentarily left my skull and have a little chuckle.

I am seriously liking this record TV lark. I was enjoying it so much i didn’t watch any TV because I was too busy planning what programmes to record. Rather I was spending my TV time in anticipation of good TV. This task kept me up til past midnight (we dont do Sky hence why I am so excited as the ability to actually watch a programme when you want to watch it is a wjole new concept. Although i am only 34 i sound like a complete dinosaur.

However, we still had to watch a film the other night on the tablet because we havent got Netflix sorted put.

Which moves me nicely onto a movie to add to your must see list – Robert Redford’s ‘All is Lost’. Before you groan at the old Redford (my goodness he is old although it looks as if he has ‘had some work’) please don’t let prior judgements get in the way of seeing this film. The dialogue in this film is virtually nothing, Redford is very good at acting without words -arguably a sign of a good actor? in fact the only words you will here is right at the start of the film and then about 3\4  of the way through when he gets a little frustrated. If they had filmed me alone on a boat you would not have wanted to watch it for nearly 2 hours as the scenes would have featured a lot of muttering to myself, lots of swearing, crying, witnessing unpleasant personal’ habits culminating in suicide or an early death because I doubt I would have lasted as long as Redford. However, I am a natural optimist so I would never have admitted ‘all is lost’ even when gulping my last breath (and I wouldnt have wasted my last breath stating the bleeding obvious).

Regardless if you are in or out of sailing, All is Lost, is a brilliant film and I recommend giving it a go.

This blog is for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.