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.

Life skills in theatre…well the worlds a stage

I had the pleasure of watching my daughter enjoy every single minute of her performance at her Theatre School. She was fab and not only that, every child shone and clearly enjoyed working as a team together on stage.

It is not just performing skills that my daughter is taking part in, but the feeling of camaraderie with her contemporaries and older children. The girl that won the talent contest got a big pat on the back from friends on stage as she finished her performance and every parent was clapping and whooping with gusto regardless of whether their child was in that particular performance or not.

It dawned on me that we all have the ability to share in one another’s achievements and those of our children and take pleasure in witnessing young people do things very, very well.

This blog is for UNICEF.

Thanks for reading. 

Brownies unplugged

Last night I got hooked on Pinterest and ended up with table titis, a condition with increased sensitivity to light and being awake because of hours spent scaring at a blue screen. Hence the missed blog because I just needed to close them. I ‘binge pin’ on Pinterest. I don’t look at it for ages then when I do log in that’s it I’m hooked til lights out and pin a zillion items.

Today I am a proud parent because my daughter cooked us all a three course meal to work towards her Brownie ‘cook’ badge. We had two courses as the third was jelly and she hadn’t appreciated how long it would take to set so we have that to look forward to tomorrow (she had a small meltdown that the jelly wouldn’t be ready in time but she quickly recovered and got on with it). I didn’t help her except to point out the location of the ingredients and to hold the sieve while she poured out the contents as the pan was heavy. She did stuffed tomatoes for starters (I have never done this in my life so was bowled over by how she worked her way conscientiously through the recipe). For main she did the most delicious bolognaise sauces, taken from Davina McCall’s sugar free recipe book. I have never seen baby boy’s mouth open so wide as he shovelled in each mouthful and he got through sister’s very generous helping. 

I took pictures of her cooking each stage so that Brown Owl has all the evidence. I couldn’t believe how determined and focused my daughter was in working for this badge and all the great things she was doing on a Sunday to help her family. Brownies, Cubs, Guides, Scouts etc are definitely the antidote to all these screens we have in front of us, helping to ‘unplug’ children and get them doing.

This blog is for UNICEF, thanks for reading. 

Four on holiday

The wind blew us from boat to motorhome,

A surprising adventure was in store,

We found some sites that were spectacular and free

Others we had to pay alot for

The sea summoned us, her charms irresistible

A boat-trip or two fulfilled us more

Sky and space and freedom worth sacrificing

The pennies and pounds we had to withdraw,

Bikes and bells absorbed sites under pedal

Cream teas, ice-creams we kept asking for

Then family joined us for a day or two

In a convoy of campers we began to explore

Kayaks and wet-suits, sandwiches and beach towels

Beautiful views and scenes that dropped jaws to floor

A dotty dog accompanied the travelling circus

Her idea of adventures sometimes against the law

Reluctant goodbyes preceded further journeys

The jurassic coast and a windy ramble to Durdle-Door

All modes of travel we sampled, buses, trains,

And anything with sliding doors

At times the children were taxing

Sometimes we fought like a band on tour

We braved the beautiful beaches

Despite  goose-bumps and chattering jaws

We convinced ourselves it was still Summer

Regardless of all the coats and layers we wore

The adventure ended in the forest

Where we decided to take a tour

Of the ponies, pines and territory

That is protected by ancient law

We fed the children first to save money

And kept fuel costs low door-to-door

But the budget still ran over

Soon we were picking pennies off the floor

But time together is well spent

Gazing at our lives now so changed from before

Holidays as a couple were relaxing

But they are an adventure now we are four.

 

This blog is for Unicef. Nine days away from blogging = £9 to 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.

The best and worst of Bestival

The good things about going to a music festival with kids:

– You dont have to organise babysitters

– They can help hold the food and drink

– They have full on entertainment all day and are kept so busy they pass out either on the picnic rug/ trailer contraption (that are everywhere at Camp Bestival) while you rock to good music

– Its a holiday that has something for everyone

– Good training for when they decide to go to festivals in their teens (coping with blocked loos, queues, astronomically expensive food, skills that will stand them in good stead for later life (making mud pies, blowing huge bubbles, practicing hand-stands, an appreciation of all types of music)

And now the bad……..

– walking, our kids dont do walking unless their is a promise of ice-cream at the other end

– not getting ideas for becoming a crusty later in life

– too much bass – we didnt have ear defenders (tricky to keep on baby boy and daughter sayscthey are ‘not cool’

– The cost of children’s meals…

– Having to put them to bed……. at some point

– But getting up early regardless

The biggest downside was putting up the tent and lugging the gear  from the car to the tent and back again without a trolley. My husband managed it but then went on about being ‘better than the marines’.

The queues on the road leaving the festival (then having someone drive into the back of us at a roundabout).

Then the insurance claim paperwork to deal with.

This blog is for Unicef. Onepound per day of missed blog to the charity. Support the campaign here.

Thanks for reading.

Loving Looming

My daughter, like many children under the age of 17 (or even older), have been sucked into the new craze that is rainbow loom. She had begged me for ages to get one, but I dont believe in buying things for the sake of it, there has to be good reason (e.g. birthday, christmas, reward for something impressive etc). In the end my friend bought her a loom and band set in a very belated birthday present (about 5 months late).

Then I kept losing my tablet as the loom addiction took hold and my daughter sought you tube clip demos of all the different styles. I kept hearing the sound of an American girl’s voice through the house as my daughter followed the instructions, “what you wanna do is take the band, then you wanna get your hook and…”

All sorts of colour creations were spun and baby boy became the in-house model, mainly because she could make bracelets quickly as his wrists are so small.

I left her to enjoy it for herself, never thinking to give it a go….until last night. My daughter showed me how to do a fishtail and now I am hooked.

My mum bought more bands today and I am now browsing you tube to see what can be created. Ankle bracelets, rings,charms, you name it, I want to give it a go.

We are off to Camp Bestival next week so I am keen to produce a load of funky bracelets ready for then.

I think, really, I am still eight years old and what’s great is that my eight year old is not old enough yet to be embarrassed by her Mum joining in. We are now a team of loomers.

This blog is for Unicef.Thanks for reading.

when I grow up

There are not many of us pursuing the dream careers we fantasised about as children. As a parent, i am all too aware of not letting one misguided remark influence the entire future aspirations of my children. This can actually happen, hence the burden of responsibility that is parenthood. How many autobiographies have you read where the author followed what their parents ideally wanted of them and were happy about it? The same goes for teachers, my university lecturer scoffed at my ambition. Sir Jackie Stewart’s teachers didnt rate him but look what he achieved.

So when my daughter starts talking about what she would like to do ‘when i grow up’, i listened without passing judgement but telling her what it would take to achieve particular career choices. For example she said she wanted to be an actress and that she would need to go to theatre school from age 11 or 12. I said we couldnt afford to pay for a special school so the best way to attempt to get in was via a scholarship. The best way to get a scholarship is to do LAMDA exams. “But that would be torture”, she said. I replied that if she felt that way it might be best to think of another route to acting. “But i really want to go to drama school”, i said she shouldnt put pressure on herself too early on in life as it gets tougher as you get older so enjoy being young when you can. But i soon realised you dont know how good you had it when you were young until you are grown-up so that was particularly useless advice.

She then rattled off a list of things she would like to do including: actress, racing driver, writer, midwife or maid for a rich person. She then asked which of the two ideas i liked best. I refused to answer as i said it was ‘entirely your choice’. She then begged me to answer her but i refused and said ‘the best advice i can give is do what you enjoy and the job will come and find you’.

I just hope she doesnt like watching tv and eating crisps to the extent that she waits for the job to arrive.

In the Tarantino film Jackie Brown, De Niro says to Bridget Fonda ‘you need ambition’ (or something along those lines) and she replies her ambition was to ‘get high and watch tv’.

I am blogging for Unicef. Thanks for reading.

 

Olympic hopes in a day trip

There are 2 sides to every coin, heads and tails, this can be likened to the places where we live – some places are on the up and make you feel good while others are on a downward spiral and make you feel rather depressed. But what is heartening for our future society is a third type of place to live – a place that is aspirational and open to all to join the ride. This is a place that used to be down and out but that didn’t stop the people living there from taking pride in where they lived, they just needed some help. I am talking about urban regeneration, where people from all sections of society are given the opportunity to enjoy where they live thanks to a better landscape, town planning, business, education, jobs and services. The right to have opportunities, to be respected for your differences and for those to be celebrated. Unlike the areas reserved for the upper middle class and upper class, these are areas that are socially inclusive and offer an insight to what lies ahead for future generations.

The best example of this is East London and the legacy of the 2012 Olympic Park. I had the pleasure of taking my children to this park today and we walked from the velodrome, to the Olympic stadium and swimming pool. Along the route both children had acres of beautiful landscaped grounds to cycle and run around in, insightful and dynamic play areas that made use of nature to entertain the children (such as pumps of water, a movable dam play system, climbing walls and running tracks). The opportunity to have a go n the velodrome or the swimming pool and take part in activities and events. For adults and OAPs, the chance to relax in beautiful surroundings and enjoy green space and sky while sipping tea, coffee at one of the many cafés housed in wooden contemporary architecture built in sympathy of the surrounding environment.

As you walked around you got a sense of optimism for the future and could see how the area will continue to flourish as the newly planted borders, shrubs and trees have done in the year or so since the Olympics. There was also a trust respected by the visiting public and upheld by the local community that the area would be safeguarded from anything that would threaten to devalue it. I saw no evidence of vandalism , littering or mindless damage. I also saw no signs saying ‘don’t touch’ or ‘keep off the grass’ or ‘no dogs’ or ‘no ball games’. Its as if in giving people freedom to enjoy such a space they in turn are doing their best to look after it. I just hope that in 10 years time it will continue to have the feel good factor and show promising progress for the future and that all sections of society continue to take pleasure from it.

Because it is a blueprint for what is possible when society works together and wouldn’t it be great if this could be replicated in other cities too?

I am blogging every day to raise money for UNICEF – support the campaign here.

Thanks for reading.

Girly heaven with the boys

“I was the only girl here today”, my daughter announced proudly as I picked her up from a day at an outdoor activities centre. She was on her own in the changing rooms and was worried that she would be left on her own if the boys changed quickly. Turned out it took her 10 minutes and she had to wait for the boys outside.

When we were out on the boat today we witnessed a regatta of teenage sailors. I admired the way one girl recovered from a capsize with such style that it looked as if she had planned it. As the boat went over she saw what was coming, clambered over the side as it rotated into the water, jumped onto the keel and hauled the boat back upright with ease. It was textbook. I wish I had filmed it and put it on YouTube. The sight of this appealed to me for so many reasons. First, it was a bank holiday and rather than being inside, bored and chomping on chocolate the teens were put in the fresh air and sun and occasionally getting dunked. Second they were using their brains and body simultaneously- not a regular occurrence with teenagers. But best of all it was seeing boys and girls competing on equal terms and when a girl gets herself onto trouble, she jolly we’ll gets herself put of it without any bother or interference.

Sailing is one of the few sports where men and women can compete on equal terms and when I see such sports in action it gives me a hint at what is possible of this equality was broadened out to society at large.

My daughter absolutely loved her day with the boys today because she was enjoying the day as their friend and equal. When she plays football she complains that the boys are reluctant o pass to her and she takes this on the chin. Today she got the bullseye in archery, made her raft flat and was the only person to reach the top on all the climbing wall levels. Then came home with one of the boys, who is also n her class, and played on the trampoline and then later on PS3’s ‘Need for Speed’. She was in ‘girly’ heaven.

I am blogging every day for UNICEF – see the campaign here.

Thanks for reading.