Tale as old as time

Our family is divided tonight, my son and husband are bobbing up and down on the boat in the same marina where we spent our anniversary while me and my daughter enjoyed a trip to the cinema and a rather expensive trip to Yo Sushi! (I wish I could say it was down to my daughter enthusiastically grabbing plates off the conveyor belt like a true first-timer, but unfortunately it was me being a mummy pig). As we live out in the sticks going somewhere like Yo Sushi! is a real treat, so you want to make the most of it as you don’t know when the opportunity will next arise.

The same could be said for one-to-one time with your child. We had a chance to talk without the distractions of baby brother and his potty training. She told me worries at school that I had not been aware of and enjoyed general chats about a variety of things: from friendships to fashion to boating to cars and everything in-between. We had fun picking out some gifts  for a friend’s birthday party (although her generosity had to be curbed somewhat). But what struck me about this tie together was what I potentially miss out when the humdrum of life takes over. Sometimes, in fact very often, I am so keen to ‘get through’ the day that I don’t take enough time to appreciate moments with my daughter. Before too long I will turn round and she will have grown-up.

So tonight was a great reminder to slow down, stop racing through motherhood and enjoy the most important people in life.

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The Ladies Room

If I was to consolidate all of my clubbing experiences through my teens and early twenties into a short film aired in the ladies toilets of a nightclub, then it wouldnt be too dissimilar to the storyline of ‘The Powder Room’, a British film a million miles away from Working Title scmultz. A girly flick with grit. It works because the ladies room of nightclubs across the country re-enact mini soap operas every weekend. Of course the same concept wouldnt work in the men’s urinals, although it may be abit of an eye opener as to what dialogue, if any, is exchanged between guys.

Watching this film was almost like a fond trip down memory lane, with those memories significantly exaggerated and dramatised. It covers pretty much every scenario a woman may find herself in at a British nightclub. All except the ease of access to the loos. Wherever I went there was always a huge queue and not enough time to hang around like it was some kind of seedierversion of a coffee shop, where you might like to hang and chat. I cant recall ever spending longer than 10 minutes in the ladies, I  favour of hollering at eachother in the club. You couldn’t seek the solace of a smoking area because smoking was allowed everywhere, including in the loos.

The film at times made me hanker for my clubbing days but in the main I am glad that time is behind me. I watched it with one eye on memories of my youth and one eye on what may lie in store for my daughter and what choices she will make when put in similar scenarios. I hate to think that she would be anything like me, if she is I hope she has the luck and resilience yo go with it.

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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.

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Day in the life of gypsies

As my friends were comparing diaries earlier, 10 children were running amok around us. At one point my friend looked up from her week to page view and took in the chaos around her, ‘there is way too much going on’. That wasn’t an overstatement. The final ‘event’ that had made enough noise to drown out the many other noise effects of child’s play, was my daughter’s eight year old friend galloping past on her noble steed ‘licky’, while my daughter cheered on half hanging astride off the side of the fence.

Picture this one event happening simultaneously with a baby girl crying, a toddler pulling at my friend’s leg while she consults the diary, one boy pedalling past on a tractor while the other sits on the trailer, one child chasing another up and down the ramp of a horse trailer and two other children making one hell of a racket and mess in the hay barn. That’s just the children. Also add to the mix one Shetland pony, one extra large cob one medium sized cob and did I mention ‘licky’? Plus 2 Jack Russells and one Cocker Spaniel.

You may be forgiven for thinking we spent the day at a gypsy camp, but no it was just me and my nanny friends trying to have picnic, while satisfy requests for pony rides, Easter egg hunts and lots of picnic food. We also try and squeeze in a few cups of tea and ensure the toddlers are reminded about the potty despite the many distractions. For my baby boy my reminders were not frequent enough, as my daughter’s friend hollers…’ He has done a poo in his pants’…’ where?’i ask…..’ in the drivers seat of your car’. We were surrounded by poo – horse poo, dog poo, nappies and potties.

As I was leading a child on a Shetland pony who was trying to nip me as I led him along while simultaneously balancing baby boy on my opposite hip, I thought about the mantra ‘never work with animals and children’.

I also had a whole new appreciation for what life was like before contraception.

But it was strangely therapeutic sitting amongst the chaos, rather like being at the eye of a storm.

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Giving up the day job

OK I’ll admit it, I’m feeling a little bit smug at the moment. I feel like a multi-tasking domestic goddess…….. which is a very rare feeling indeed. I made a pact that while I wasn’t working over the Easter school holidays, I would attempt to make More of an effort in the kitchen, expanding my repertoire of pasta, bolognaise and the odd fish or vegetarian meal, to things that take a little more effort and give a lot more taste. So, armed with Aggie Mackenzie’s ‘Busy Mums Cookbook’, I added a few more ingredients to my shopping list and utilized the children’s late holiday bedtimes to get some cooking done. Often my attempts at recipes never come out in the way the curator of the recipe intended (like Bridget Jones I am capable of producing blue soup), however every single recipe of Aggie’s has been spot on. I have even delved into the baking section, so my husband now has a choice of homemade banana loaf, lemon drizzle or brownie cake (baked for my friend’s birthday) to choose from for his packed lunch.

It was my best friend’s birthday today, so I made her a chocolate brownie cake (minus the nuts because she is allergic). This was my first attempt at brownie making and I was surprised at the outcome, it tasted good and a bit gooey. My friend then asked me to skipper a boat she had hired for the day as a birthday pressie. Although I explained to her that my main job in the boat my husband has is to keep the children pinned down while in motion and occasionally I pull a few ropes but that was the extent of my nautical ability…..’ but I will give it a go’. As the man showed me the ropes harbour side and then handed the boat for me to practice coming alongside the jetty he said that I was ‘pretty good’. So with 2 adults and 4 children loaded on, we set off to the beach and we managed to navigate the estuary, anchor at the beach and return to the jetty unscathed. My friend’s spectacular leap onto the boat as she pushed us away from the bank was brilliantly executed for a 35 year old.

Once back I dropped my friend home and returned to embark on a chicken pie recipe, which my husband has just had for dinner.

It is funny that when you stop your day job and have the opportunity to do other things, you find out new things about yourself. I am discovering that I am rather good at following instructions (following recipes, listening to instructors). When I told my husband this he scoffed and said ‘well why don’t you listen to me then?’ I then clarified what I meant by ‘instruction’ and how it differs from ‘fascism’ (which he can be accused of when at the helm’.

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ThaNKS FOR READING (Sorry about the shouty font but my tablet had a momentary hissy fit that is difficult to undo).

Staying social

I was talking to a friend of mine about the share of responsibilities in her household. Her hubby has started taking on more of the cleaning so she doesn’t have to. But she emphasised the time she spends keeping in contact with everyone on their behalf. “I do all the texting” she said, “the emails, the phone calls, the birthdays, everything”. It had never struck me before as a task to be put in the same category as house-work and laundry but staying in regular contact with family and friends does take effort. We often leave it to the end of the day to call someone and usually by then we are too tired to pick up the phone. Mobiles have changed everything making it easier for people to get brief memos to people at any time of day but it still takes effort.

Women are seen as the better communicators, so it is usually the woman’s job in a relationship to do all the emailing and calling. If you added up the total of time it takes per month to stay in contact with people it would be quite considerable.

The mobile phone irritates the hell out of me. You feel obliged to respond to text messages instantaneously and feel bad when you find you have been without your mobile for an hour and have missed texts. I am inconsistent with my mobile usage. Sometimes my response is immediate, somtimes it isn’t until the following day. This causes problems when you receive a text regarding plans for the following day and then you read it too late – aaah.

Keeping in contact with friends and family is a bit like juggling balls. If you have left it a while you are in danger of letting the relationship drop down a peg or two to the point where it may become extinct. I have met quite a  few new friends recently and that takes energy as, the newer the friendship, the more contact you have to have with them to keep the momentum of the friendship up. Its like playing a game of The Sims.

Part of the problem is distance. You can’t beat face-to-face contact and I find that takes the least effort.

I have concluded that the best relationships are the ones that don’t diminish regardless of how long the  period without contact. My best friend from school, for example, tracked me down on Facebook after years of no contact. A lot had happened in that time – I had married and had a child. Yet we just picked up from where we left off – as if no time had passed at all.

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Allo Aloe….

Woke up this morning with a pounding headache. I only had one glass of wine to drink last night but on an empty stomach it is the equivalent of a bottle (hence why I didn’t blog last night so am blogging this morning instead).

The occasion for the party was a company my friend has bought a franchise in – Forever Aloe Products. The evening was a display of their latest products. I like my friend a lot but couldn’t stand the sales woman who seemed to give off the impression that everything she sold was a cure all for everything – including some crass links to cancer “Unfortunately I lost 2 of my close relatives to cancer and it is such a shame that I didn’t have these products then as I would have been able to help them”. To use that line in general sales patter was poor taste in my opinion.

I had a lovely day yesterday enjoying being a Mum but today is back to work today when I return to the state of a headless chicken dashing around the countryside like a mad woman.

It is nice to get out though as I live in the back and beyond and a lot of the villagers are nice but some are crap (a few up their own arses sorts – the type that are happy to tell you all about their life but never enquire about yours – particularly if you live in a local authority area). Yes the class system is still alive and kicking in good old blighty.

Not that I can talk though, when coming out of my neighbour’s house after feeing their cat I caught sight of Wayne, Waynetta and little baby Wayne walking their 2 staffies and crossed to the other side – mainly because Im not overly fond of staffies but partly because Im not mad keen on Wayne and Waynetta types either. I should have stopped and said hello and asked how the baby is getting on – but I didn’t so I feel like a total bitch now.

I am blogging every day for Unicef. If you can donate a £1 for the blog that would be great, if not, maybe next time. Thanks for reading.