Parenting, profundities and humour

Surfing….Or Not… — April 27, 2018

Surfing….Or Not…


I recently went to the opticians. I was due my biannual check up and besides I have spent the last few months peering very unattractively at small print on the sides of jars and considering the large print book aisle in the library.

I turned up for my allotted slot and, after having failed about ten times to not blink as a machine puffed cold air into my eye ball and as the patient lady tried to take a photo of each of my retinas, I finally got in to see the optician. (Apparently I have a very sensitive blink reflex, not sure whether to be proud or not…)

It is a cliche to say it but the optician or opthalmist or optometrist (if you know the difference please do let me know) really did look about twelve. She wasn’t the same optician as last time. But then it had been two years. We trawled through my eye history. How long had I worn glasses. Forever. Had I ever tried contacts. Please see above re my sensitive blink reflex. Did I have a history of eye issues. No. Was I experiencing any issues. Yes I can’t read anymore without the use of a magnifying glass, oh and recently whilst doing a particularly difficult colouring in by numbers with Youngest I had to wear a head torch.

The usual stuff.

Anyway she then said ‘Oh I can see you are a surfer!’

I was a bit taken aback by this.

Many things went through my head. I guessed that I had said this last time. I wasn’t sure why. Then I remembered that I had ordered prescription swimming goggles to wear on my holiday in Portugal where I was determined to learn to surf.

Many of you may have read Surfing. If not I suggest you do before carrying on. As you will therefore know my experience of surfing in Portugal had not been a success.

Despite this fact, and proabably because I was taken aback by the tone of admiration in her voice and that all these recollections were flowing into my brain at much too slow a pace to not leave a really, really pregnant pause I found myself agreeing that, yes, I was a surfer.

As soon as the words ‘Yes I do love to surf!’ left my mouth I realised my mistake.

My optician/opthalmist/optometrist proceeded to tell me how she was desperate to learn to surf and had tried but failed. She then went on to describe the exact problem that I myself had encountered when I was trying to surf. Namely getting up from one’s knees to one’s feet.

I murmured something which I hoped passed for understanding empathy for this dificulty. Which of course I do have. As I myself cannot get from my knees to my feet.

As I was trying to decide which was better ‘lens 1 or lens 2’ she proceeded to ask me for my tips for getting from one’s knees to one’s feet. Apparently she had had lessons, watched you tube videos, the works, nothing had helped. I was her last hope.

I managed to deflect the question by sympathising with her predicament and she was thankfully distracted by ‘are the dots clearer and brighter on the green, or the red’.

She then went on to ask me for my favourite surfing locations. As I have only ever failed to surf at one beach in Portugal, the name of which escaped me, I merely mentioned that we were off to Polzeath in the summer. This is true. I won’t be surfing.

We moved onto reading the extremely small print on a paddle.

I tried to deflect her persistent questioning on the knee/ foot/ location issues. She really wasn’t giving up. I decided on a new tack. I mentioned that if she found surfing too hard she could try body boarding. Thankfully she didn’t seem to know what I meant so I was able to fill some time whilst she fiddled around with the exceptionally ugly plastic frames perched on my nose waxing lyrical about a sport I can actually do.

Once I had outlined body boarding in some detail she seemed to suddenly get what I meant. ‘Oh’ she scoffed ‘that, well surely everyone can body board?’…

Well not really. I quite often leave keen looking middle aged men for dead when body boarding as they mis-time their jumps quite spectacularly.

She wasn’t to be persuaded.

I floundered on deflecting questions by explaining how good my kids are at surfing and desperately trying to avoid giving any advice. Which clearly I couldn’t give anyway.

The session ended. My reading prescription had jumped a whole half a point. New glasses should help with the reading. And colouring. But not my truthfulness.

As I left (rather hurriedly) to meet up again with puffy air, flashy photo lady to try to pick new frames whilst not being able to actually see what I look like, the optician/ opthalmist/ optometrist said to me,

”Well you have inspired me to have another go at surfing. If a lady of your age can do it surely I must be able to…”

The whole experience was wrong on so many levels.

Its two years until my next check up. I doubt she will still be there. Yes?



If the suit fits… — October 9, 2017

If the suit fits…


So today I decided to clean the family room. Nothing unusual in that you may be thinking. Well you would be slightly wrong on that front. For I am a bit of a slob and I hadn’t given the room a proper ‘doing’ for…some… time. I had pushed a vac around a bit and plumped the odd cushion but that really wasn’t hacking it anymore.

I knew this because Middlest’s 12th birthday cards were still adorning the hearth. I won’t admit to his birth date, not because I am worried about revealing his identity, but because then you will realise quite how much of a slob I really am. But suffice to say his birth month is not October or, dare I even say it, September.

Yes the room was in need of a major overhaul.

I like to think I leave rooms for this long because of the level of satisfaction I gain from moving large amounts of dust. But, no, really I am just a slob. Husband had also been making rumblings about the level of dust. In fact when the Sky Q box recently decided to have a minor melt down he commented that ‘there is quite a lot of dust on it’ as if that could be a possible cause… That made me wait another week before tackling the job. And swear.

Anyway as part of the cleaning process I really needed to tidy up first. And part of that tidy up process involved dealing with the wet suit on the Poang chair. And, no, this isn’t a euphemism for an elephant in the room. There really has been a wetsuit on the Poang chair for quite some time.

And here is why.

We got back off our main fortnight’s holiday in early August (Middlest had not turned 12 at this point) and so my husband decided to start planning next year’s holiday. This is a bit of a ‘thing’ for him. I try to be all understanding about his need to have his next summer holiday booked at least 12 months in advance but really I just find it ‘mildly’ irritating to be bombarded with questions and e mails with links to possible destinations when my bikini is still drying on the washing line.

To some extent he is right because we do need to book early as we are (whispers) a family of 5. As anyone who is in a family of 5 will know this is a ‘bad thing’ holiday wise. The accommodation required to house families of 5s is often very expensive and very scarce and books up very quickly.

Still I like to get Christmas out of the way first.

Anyway this year’s process of holiday booking saw him downsize our choice from a 12 day safari to Botswana via 16 days touring the west coast of the US to finally a fortnight in a 4 bed cottage on the beach in Polzeath, Cornwall, England.

I won’t bore you with this process, it was bad enough being part of it as an ultimate beneficiary, but suffice to say we are all more than slightly relieved to be looking forward to spending 2 weeks literally on the beach, returning to our cottage of an evening to eat take away fish and chips and to partake of the good WiFi and a PS4. Instead of ‘basic’ camping in the bush or driving for 9 hours a day down Route whatever. Well the kids and I are anyway.

Not to become downhearted by this downscaling of his holidaying dreams husband has instead gleefully embraced the role of kitting us all out for this adventure. We love to body board and knowing what Cornwall may be like in August we had decided to spend some of the not inconsiderable savings we had made on the actual holiday on better equipment. I saw this as a longer term project.

And so it was that a while ago (!) I took delivery of a new full length wet suit which my husband had lovingly chosen for me completely autonomously. A full 10 months ahead of our sojourn. It is apparently a good time to buy wetsuits as the summer season is coming to a close. Obviously. It is lucky I am not one for fashion or brand new ranges as I am going to be a whole year out of date next summer proudly sporting my brand new not new wetsuit. In some ways his faith in my ability to stay around my current weight and body shape is flattering. In others… Luckily he hadn’t been stupid enough to buy the kids any new wet suits. Which is a good job as by next August it is possible Eldest will have hit 7 foot tall.

He casually threw the wet suit on the Poang and suggested I try it on. My heart sank. I ignored that wet suit for… some… time. Today, however, I could ignore it no longer. It was time to try it on.

We have all watched surfer movies. Blonde, tousle haired youths strolling around with their wet suits around their waists. Shrugging their arms into sleeves and reaching gracefully behind themselves to pull effortlessly at the back zipper before elegantly diving into the waves.

That isn’t me. In any way. In fact I try to avoid donning a wet suit in public. It often involves a lot of very unflattering wriggling and grunting. For I am the shape of a lady. I have a waist and hips and such like. Wet suits usually fit me fine once I have wrestled the small amount of waist material over my arse. But not until that point.

I am also unable to reach around to my back and pull up my zipper. I lack the shoulder mobility. Usually I have to sort of flick the long zipper tail over my head and tug it up whilst bent double. Again not a flattering look.

Clearly having taken this issue on board wet suit manufacturers are trying something new and my husband had already explained that this new wetsuit did up at the front in a quite complicated neck arrangement. He had taken ‘a while’ to work out how to get in his suit. I have worn bodies. I thought I could manage.

Things seemed to be going quite well (aside from the usual arse through small waist wriggling) until I got to my second arm. I had climbed into the suit through part if the neck. The neck line appeared to have several parts. I thrust my arm into a sleeve and it went precisely 2 inches before coming to a grinding halt.  I had my left arm half in the suit but couldn’t pull it up over my left shoulder until my right arm was in which meant the use of my left arm was severely compromised. I thrust several times and got no where.

I took out my left arm and tried inserting my right arm first and this worked once I realised that I was going down the wrong ‘side’ of the sleeve. After that I grunted and wriggled some more and got my left arm back in and the suit up to shoulder level. Then I realised the other half of the neck zip fastener was behind my head. I had to put my head back through the very small neck opening. Whilst not grazing my nose on the zip in a very unflattering way.

Once I had achieved this I got that satisfying ‘pop’ feeling as all my body parts found themselves in the correct area of the suit. Well all my parts except my knees which never seem to find themselves behind the reinforced knee area because I have short dumpy legs. Never mind I could live with that.

I squeaked upstairs to have a look in the mirror and decided it would ‘do’- the colour way being sufficiently garish to mask a multitude of sins and bugles.

By this point I was getting a tad hot. Which boded well for my future sojourns in the Atlantic.

And then it hit me. I had to get out.

To my knowledge I have never got out of a wet suit unaided.

The problem with the reverse procedure is invariably arms and shoulders. I reasoned with myself that without the added factor of sticky sea water I would be able to take off the wet suit.

I was wrong.

I managed to man handle that neck bit back over my head again without major lacerations.

Then I tried to get my arms out. They were totally stuck. By this point the exertions of trying to remove myself from the wet suit had caused me to break out in an unattractive sweat which wasn’t really helping. I was now seriously hot. And remembering the claustrophobia such garments induce in me.

Ten minutes passed and I had made no real head way.

I was starting to panic. I had visions of having to do the school run in my wet suit.

My mind was in overdrive deciding which friend I could call upon to extricate me from the neoprene hell I found myself in. My best bet was a friend in the next village who doesn’t drive. She would have found it hysterically funny but would have helped. The thought of getting in the car and driving over there, though, was not appealing. I started hyperventilating.

I decided to take five, calm down, and try again.

Thankfully it worked and I managed to get one arm out of the sleeve and the suit below that shoulder. With some more deep breathing the second shoulder was out. After that it was just a case of peeling it down inside out. It sounds a bit like childbirth. The relief at the end was similar.

Anyway the suit ‘fits’. I shall not be putting it on again until August.

No buns for me.

**That is not me in my wet suit up there…






Do Tell…. — May 22, 2017

Do Tell….



There are many imponderables in the world. Such weighty issues as global warming, the general inhumaneness of human kind, the existence or otherwise of alien beings, whether there is an afterlife. Etc.

The main imponderables in my life, however, are slightly more mundane. Here is today’s list.

  1. Who left the used tissue in their pocket? Again. Thus ensuring a liberal coating of white bits all over the fresh laundry. This imponderable is a regular occurrence. Of course no one ever claims responsibility. Eldest has hay fever. Middlest has a cold. And Youngest watched a particularly sad episode of Monkey Life last evening. Thinking about it I was in tears too at the demise of Aris the 4 year old orangutan. So it could have been me. We had become very attached to Aris who had an endearing personality and so to see him being put down was tear jerking to say the least. The culprit remains at large. Of the used tissue. It’s bloody irritating. It’s not so bad when the washing goes straight outside on the line. The birds pick up all the ‘shaken off bits’ to line their nests. Unfortunately Eldest’s hayfever precludes his washing going outside so the kitchen floor also gets a liberal coating. No helpful birds there. Sigh.
  2. Why was Eldest on the second of 2 buses back from the school trip to the seaside. And why was that bus over half an hour later than the first bus. And why had they been given the same ETA. Necessitating me sitting in a baking hot car for over 45 minutes.
  3. Which annoying male member of my family has stolen from the kitchen one of the two Apple charging leads? And why has my husband started charging his Apple device there when he is in possession of at least two such charging cables in his personal charging hub in the spare room? Which must not be touched on pain of death. And why will I get it in the neck tomorrow when the boys’ phones remain uncharged?
  4. Why is going to be baking hot tomorrow when we will be spending all day on a football pitch and then ‘break’ on Sunday in time for our mini break to the coast? Actually this isn’t really an imponderable. Just Sod’s law. And normal for the UK. Of course I have packed today in 29 degree heat (again I could have done with the heat break today) and so will probably spend our mini break freezing due to inappropriate packing. I also spent a small fortune on sun cream. Should have checked that weather first….
  5. Why has Youngest been split up from her very best friend in next year’s classroom reshuffle. Total lunacy. I will be checking extra hard for used tissues tonight…
  6. Why, after extensive fruitless searches, did I today find my husband’s prescription sunglasses (£400 a pair- he has bad eyes and expensive tastes) hanging from the handle bars of Middlest’s scooter. In the garage. At least this time I found the lost item before it was replaced. Now that really would have been Sod’s law.
  7. Why do duvet covers eat other laundry in the machine but not all of it? And how do they turn inside out? I often ponder that. It must have a scientific explanation? No?
  8. Who thought up cricket whites? Just that really. Grass stains. Mud. Unidentified food or beverage based items. All these show up spectacularly and are devil to get out. Whoever did, invent them that is, never did laundry. Which I suppose when I do ponder on it makes sense. As it is a gentleman’s game. And they had servants. Middlest has me. There is a similarity there. I don’t like to ponder that. Much.

So there we have it. Today’s imponderables.

There are quite a lot of laundry related ones I note. Hum.


I Told You So… — March 19, 2017

I Told You So…


Today a thing happened that hardly ever happens. My husband was right.

I made a big thing about being magnanimous about it. To be honest it happens so infrequently that I thought I ought to be big about it and make a point of telling him how right he was.

My husband and I are both the sorts of people that are always right. Well obviously I am the person that is always right but he believes he is the person who is always right too. To be honest it sometimes makes our relationship a bit… fraught. Maybe we both should have married other people who aren’t always right. But we didn’t. In the first flush of love maybe we didn’t realise that we both always had to be right. Or maybe it didn’t matter. After nearly 17 years of marriage I can tell you it is something that people should ask themselves. Before getting married.

If we were also the sort of people who shout and storm our relationship could be quite fiery. But actually we are also both gentle (and not so gentle) seethers. So there we are a lot. Gently seething. And being right.

For instance after we moved into this house we bought fitted wardrobes for our bedroom. We spent a very very very long time with the designer from the wardrobe company one evening whilst he talked through our requirements and showed us the frankly mind boggling array of wardrobe insides available and then drew (mind blowingly slowly) scale layouts of our bedroom and new wardrobes. Just when we thought he had finished he said that he needed to go over it all in pen and would be another half an hour or so. It was getting perilously close to my bedtime and to be honest I wanted to get into my slobby tracksuit bottoms and lick the chocolate off the top of my evening digestive and he was somewhat in the way.

The drawings he produced reminded me of the graphic design module that I did as part of a rotation of arts subjects in the year before picking my O level options. I had toyed with taking it before plumping for Fine Art. Just think I could have had a successful career out staying my welcome in strangers’ kitchen diners having discussed their underwear storage requirements. What had I missed?

Anyway after this prolonged experience another guy came out to check the designer’s measurements in a more scientific way (an engineer in wardrobes I believe-another career that has slipped through my fingers) and tell me that we would need to get our downlighters capped off. The lovely designer had failed to mention this.

And then we had to empty the entire room and sleep elsewhere for three days whilst a further man hand built the wardrobes in my bedroom. Don’t get me wrong I love my wardrobes (although I should not have gone for the shoe rack….it only works for high heeled shoes of which I have precisely one pair) but the process was long and turtuous.

Despite being involved in this long winded and tortuous process my husband has always been convinced that our wardrobes were built by Neville Johnson. This is wrong. We purchased the wardrobes from Sharps.

He was vehement in his claims. About a year later when my mum was moving house we visited a Sharps showroom to get ideas for her new fitted furniture. There, in the showroom, was a display of our wardrobes. I took a photo and a photo of the shop front (because otherwise he still would not believe me as he clearly thinks I am capable of claiming to have been in a Sharps showroom when actually I was in a Neville Johnson show room as if I had the energy for such duplicitousness). He still did not believe me.

When my mum got her quotes for her furniture I dug out our invoice to see if the prices seemed reasonable. I left it out on the side so my husband could at last see the error of his ways.

When I got back from whatever I was doing he had stuck a piece of paper over the Sharps logo and written on it ‘Neville Johnson’. It would be funny. I suppose. To anyone else.

There have been countless and I mean countless other occasions when I have been right, I won’t bore you with them all here. But for the sake of balance I should perhaps explain what he was right about today.

The Christmas before last, our first in this new house, I treated myself to  a set of 400 outside lights with which to adorn our frontage. My husband is not a big lover of such ‘tat’ as he calls it. But the kids and I are. And we outnumber him quite considerably and I had hooks and a hammer.

I came to set up the lights and was disappointed to find that there were no electricity sockets in the garage in which to plug said lights. I toyed with using the hall sockets but that would have led to unsightly wire strewing and created a trip hazard. And even I was not up for that.

I mentioned the lack of sockets to my husband who claimed that I must be mistaken as he could distinctly remember, on one of our viewings, the previous male occupant  of the house being in the garage building model aeroplanes and using a desk lamp. I countered that maybe he had misremembered the desk lamp and that in fact the overhead light had been on. We both gently seethed. I think husband came out better in this scenario as we were tacky-lightless over the festive period and indeed the one after.

Soon we are getting our front garden landscaped which is a complicated process which has involved tree surgeons and will involve lead pipe replacers and a landscaping firm. Husband is buying an electric car (the two are not related) which also involves getting electricity to the outside of the garage.

In order to get the new water pipe laid and the electricity point put on the garage I needed to make the garage accessible. And so today, after wheeling ten tonne of felled tree logs round to the side of the house, Youngest and I set to.

First we had to get all the stuff in front of the trailer out. Our lawn was strewn with football boots, kindling, camping fridges, wine, bikes, scooters, balls, extension leads, hose pipes etc.

Then we hauled out the trailer. I needed to re pack it so I could get the water proof cover back on so it could live on our lawn for a couple of weeks. The repacking was necessary after a couple of years of me hauling random stuff out of it (such as the air bed pump and folding chairs and matches and unbreakable crockery for Cub camps) and then just repiling such items back on top in a kind of Jenga fashion.

Then we had to tackle the back of the garage where the new water pipe and electricity point need to come in. The stuff that has lurked mostly untouched behind the trailer for nearly two years and been partially covered by a layer of cardboard discarded from on line deliveries. We moved roll mats and surf boards and boot bars from cars we no longer possess and crutches (left over from husband’s broken foot c 2007) and camp beds and power tools and dinghies.

And there behind one of our many tents (I believe the four man or it could have been the two man not sure) were a couple of pairs of sockets.

So husband was right. He had correctly remembered that sad man modelling in the light of a desk lamp. He was probably hiding from his wife. Who was right about something.

Anyway I get the last laugh.

Twinkly lights at Christmas.



Smooth Operator… — January 12, 2017

Smooth Operator…


So currently every morning my kitchen looks like this. An explosion in a purple gloop factory. As I claw my worktops back into some semblance of order I curse PSHE. ..

I realise that those without children of school age might not understand this acronym. So let me explain. It stands for. Err… I am not totally sure to be honest. Something like Personal, Social, Health and Economics education.  Or maybe it is Political, Sexual, Health Education or maybe…anyway as I said I am not sure but it is a subject at school that essentially teaches common sense oh and the birds and the bees. Poor teachers.

OK I am over simplifying and before you get the wrong idea I do think there is actually a lot of good stuff in the PSHE curriculum despite my cursing. Things like learning about the harmful effects of smoking and drugs, how to improve self esteem and treat people properly, providing anti-bullying messages, warning of stranger danger both on and off line. And of course I am very pleased every one gets to discuss tampons in a supportive group environment…

So PSHE is essentially all the stuff parents should be discussing with their kids a darn sight earlier than they usually do and that the Government has decided schools should address because parents are essentially crap and not trained and forget to have the on line safety talk before little Jimmy has befriended god knows who on FIFA 15, probably because they really meant to have that chat but fell asleep through sheer exhaustion instead. But there is one element of PSHE that really annoys me and that is the teaching of healthy eating to small and not so small children.

For PSHE starts as early as Reception. I distinctly remember my 4 year old son coming home and refusing to eat pizza because it had become a ‘bad thing’ over night. Well actually over day. But you get the gist. Despite my explaining that this pizza was fine as I had made it myself and covered it in healthy organic vegetables and homemade passata (for I was still at that stage in my parenting career when I thought processed ready made food was the devil AND had enough time to avoid it…ha ha how I laugh at my sanctimonious self now as I shovel ready made pasta sauces into my kids on a shift rotation, I think I was beyond the ‘shaping each individual pizza into a bunny face’ stage (Annabel Karmel needs to get a life seriously) but possibly only just…). But he would not be swayed. And ate merely carrot sticks and cucumber as those had made the ‘good list’. See, still in ‘good parenting mode’, now mine get pizza with chips and possibly a can of baked beans if I can be arsed. Consequentially he went to bed hungry and woke me up at 5am because his stomach was complaining. That was my first brush with PSHE…not a great first impression if I am honest.

Over the years the topic has been repeated at various intervals and I have had to put up with a few weeks, days or hours (depending on the child’s tenacity) of being told they will no longer eat cheese or crisps or some other such black listed food stuff. Not eating crisps or cheese are heinous crimes in my opinion.

The main reason I find the teaching of ‘healthy eating’ so annoying is because the sorts of children who take it the most to heart are precisely the ones who could tuck away a whole pizza and be none the worse for it. Namely mine. And the kids who eat too much rubbish and drink cola on tap won’t give a damn. Stereotyping? Well yes. But hey its true. Sorry. I certainly wouldn’t pass a PSHE exam with my inability to avoid stereotypes although in any event I am not sure such a thing exists anymore. In my day it was called General Studies. I didn’t do General Studies. I did more Maths instead. My common sense seems to have survived.

Anyway I digress. Healthy eating. The most recent of these modules has been directed at Eldest the most likely of my children to take everything to heart. Eldest is 5ft 6 and weighs about 7 stone. He has a 6 pack and undertakes a great deal of sport every week. He is hitting puberty and growing at a more than alarming rate. In fact this time last year he was smaller than me and now he is 2 inches taller. So actually what Eldest needs is food. Lots and lots of food. And yes the majority needs to be healthy. We are cognisant of his requirements for veg and fruit and wholegrains. But he also needs lots of protein and fat and dairy and essential fuel for his rapidly morphing body. If some of that fuel comes from chocolate and cake and pizza I think he will survive. It is always a question of balance. Except when it comes to crisps. There can never be too many crisps.

What he doesn’t need is to restrict his intake in anyway. And so I find this slightly holier than thou ‘healthy eating’ teaching more than a tad annoying. Especially as the school deems it OK to serve sausage roll, chips and spaghetti hoops (which are clearly not a vegetable people clearly not..) on Fridays.

The most recent imparting of information was clearly aimed at trying to improve breakfasts by suggesting smoothies.

Eldest got home and looked up the benefits of smoothies, no doubt found some website or other promoted by Nutri-bullet, and decided he needed to change his breakfast to include a smoothie. Now our mornings are timed to perfection. If we haven’t sat down to eat by 6.30am my palms start to itch and I worry that I will not fit in cello practice or teeth brushing. So when Eldest decided a blender was required for breakfast I started to panic gently. I breathed out and advised that he had better get down from his pit a darn sight earlier than usual, whilst cursing Mr PSHE under my breath

Now, of course, if your usual breakfast consists of a bowl of coco pops and a doughnut from Sainsbury’s before registration then clearly a smoothie is going to improve your nutritional levels quite considerably. However my children eat wholemeal toast, decent cereals and a fruit salad with yogurt for breakfast. So I fail to see how a smoothie improves matters. In fact it probably makes it worse by starting the sugar break down process manually. Ha got you there.

So all that has happened is that Eldest has taken his fruit salad and yogurt and distributed it around my worktops with my soup blender. And of course the other two also think this is a champion idea. We are now ‘experimenting’ with ingredients. They are probably eating more fruit, which actually, guys, isn’t all that healthy, I am yet to persuade them to add kale. But it is also making our mornings even more finely edged time wise.

I am hoping the phase passes. And they will go back to chewing their fruit. And that the next module does not suggest vegetarianism. I will go in and complain I tell you. I will.


Pants*…. — December 18, 2016



*Before we start, and for the avoidance of doubt as many of my readership are Americans (bizarrely), pants in this context refers to undergarments or as you like to call them shorts, which everyone who speaks proper English knows are actually trousers with short legs worn in hot weather or all year round if you are a postman or a small boy at a fee paying school, preferably without socks but then us English are not renowned for our sartorial elegance. Oh and it also means Damn! or Fuck! or Bother! depending how crude you are…..

So I am a lady. As many of you know. And as a lady my life is ruled by cycles.

Before you all run screaming to the hills this is not a post about my menstrual cycle although my god that needs writing. Another time. Oh go on then just a bit now. I have piqued your interest I can tell. See the thing about menstrual cycles, other than ruining your life for forty odd years, is that they have their own macro cycles too. Just as you think you have the whole bloody thing down it changes on you. So over my thirty odd years (please lord let it be over quicker than in another ten) I have run the gamut of all the symptoms of pre menstrual syndrome. Or as it should more accurately be called ‘most of the month other than the four honeymoon days in the middle’ syndrome. From excruciating cramps to spots to depression to sore boobs to clumsiness to homicidal mania.

Mostly the homicidal mania is directed at my husband, poor thing. Although he has just bawled me out for buying the wrong ‘Coronation Cream’ for the Christmas cake. To my mind the word cream implies a pourable fluid. The stuff I can remember putting on tinned fruit cocktail as a child. That is evaporated milk. Apparently however what he actually needs for his grandmother’s Christmas Cake Recipe is condensed milk. Which isn’t pourable. And is so sickly just to look at it makes me want to, well, stick my finger in and suck…. and yes I shop for these ingredients every year. But hey only the once. So I think I could be forgiven for getting it wrong. The whole ‘husband makes the Christmas cake with the kids’ saga was adorable when the kids were two. It gave me an hour off (as the only things I were required to contribute were lining the cake tin and washing up every baking implement I possess) if I could ignore the screams of ‘no put the flour in the bowl not on the carpet’ emanating from the dining room. Now I don’t find it so adorable as the kids have to be surgically removed from their electronics and fight over who does what and husband rearranges their decorations after they have done it, much to their disgust. Anyway I had a stir and made my wish. Not sure my wish was that seasonal. Frankly he deserves my homidical mania.

I went to the GP a few years ago because I thought I was going mad or had early stage dementia. He assured me it was just my hormones. I was in the homicidal phase at the time and he was lucky I didn’t lean over the desk and lamp him one as he sat there all smug with his constant and unfaltering testosterone quietly circulating around his nervous system. I could only hope his prostrate would give out and wipe that sanctimonious ‘my god not another hormonal women thinking she is going mad’ smile off his face. He did a blood test. I wasn’t ‘perimenopausal’ (in the run up to the menopause). Oh god. I still have all that to come. It was just your average common or garden hormones deciding to change how they interacted with my body. Again. Just because they could. Bastards.

So anyway this post wasn’t about that cycle. Other cycles affect women too. Kids for instance. They have cycles. Phases. Sometimes they are adorable. Sometimes they are not. One tries to be understanding when one’s sons are dealing with a testosterone surge (apprently 7,  10 and obviously at puberty) or when a toddler wants to do stuff they can’t and vents her frustration on the nearest safe adult. Which is me. Always me.

But to be honest with three kids all quite close in age there never seems to be a time when we aren’t in a difficult phase. I think I remember about 6 months a few years ago that were quite pleasant.

Then there is the seasonal cycle. Which seems to revolve ever faster. Each has their own challenges. Currently we are dealing with mud and darkness. Perhaps my worst combo. Although the twinkly lights of Christmas keeps me from plunging into complete depression. I save that for January. When the mud continues to flow and the darkness seems to never abate. I long for summer. And then in summer I resent all that suncream.

Then there is the largest cycle of all- age. There is nothing good about getting older. No really. People who say that are trying to make themselves feel better. Forlornly. It is bollocks.

Anyway what cycle did I really want to talk about today. I’ll tell you. My lingerie and hosiery cycle.

Do you not have this? Maybe you are the sort of lady (or gent, let’s not be sexist) who regularly clothes shops for oneself and throws matching lingerie into the mix. I am not one of those. I have a cycle. Like all cycles it seems to be getting shorter. Maybe because the quality of lingerie and hosiery has gone down. Or maybe because I cut my toe nails less. Who knows?

Anyway I am currently at the ‘all the pants and socks I possess have holes in them’ part of the cycle. This means that sometime soon, when I can no longer avoid putting my big toe through my sock by swapping the socks over and having the hole at the small toe end…because that end too has a hole, I will have to go shopping.

I will go to Marks and Sparks. Like most people. I was slightly worried recently when M&S announced they were going to downgrade some of their stores to food only. I imagine the one in our town will be one of those. Then what will I do? I really think they need to sell underwear in their food shops. The statistics of how many people by their undercrackers at M&S is quite phenomenal.

Anyway whilst I can I will go there and buy a couple of multi packs of knickers. In any colour except white. White is a really bad colour for pants. They never stay white. Best to go for bright or patterned.

Before I set out I must try to remember to read the labels of my current pants (that is if they are still readable after bazillion goes through the washer. Interestingly I think my current pants might be older than my current washer) to avoid that ‘buffer face’ look I often get in lingerie departments.

For there is a bewildering array of styles of pants. Often called names that help not one iota in your decision making process, names such as tangas and high legs. Really. And no I don’t remember what I bought last time. And my kids are now too old and too easily embarrassed to reach into my jeans and pull out the knicker label. They did that once for me. Eldest may need therapy.

Anyway I will write my current style and size on a piece of paper and put it in my handbag. Size is important too. I am often overly optimistic when buying pants. Is there anything more shameful than going to a Customer Services counter and having to swap a pack of size 10s for size 12s?**

Then I will throw in a couple of pairs of socks. I am able to remember my shoe size. It is less variable than my arse size. But not socks with days of the week on. I bought those once for Eldest and it set off his OCD. I favour black with maybe an animal print. As I won’t do that in lingerie. Too racy.

And that will be me set for another few years, quite how long is uncertain. As I have no idea when I last went.

By then I will be picking them up in the dry goods aisle. If M&S has any sense.

**More clarification for Americans Size 10 in the UK is actually quite small….just saying…




Feelin’ Hot, Hot, Hot… — July 19, 2016

Feelin’ Hot, Hot, Hot…


So it is finally hot here. Seriously uncharacteristically hot. More than 30 degrees.

We (and by ‘we’ I mean the British) have been moaning on for weeks about our lack of summer. Discussing precipitation and lack of UV.

Someone was listening and so now, almost out of nowhere, we are basking in Mediterranean style sunshine. And of course now we still aren’t happy. We never are. Most people’s kids are still in school. People are having to commute still. Soon the railways will shut as the tracks have become too hot. The shops had given up on summer ever materialising and put all their summer clothes on sale and so now we have to trawl the stuffed, disorganised racks to find some linen trousers that aren’t size 20. And so we are now moaning that it is too hot.

Most schools break up on Friday. And everyone is assuming the rain and mid teen temperatures will then return. It is quite likely.

I am fortunate. Mine are already off school. Yesterday we spent six hours shopping for footwear. Yes six hours. In the heat. That is a whole other blog though.

So I had planned a lazy day for today. Some friends are popping round about four for tea. I had to nip to town for a birthday gift. But otherwise I thought filling the paddling pool was as ambitious as it was going to get.

I achieved the gift purchasing within an hour before it got too hot. I also made the most of the Debenhams swimwear and lingerie sale. Must try all that on later. I don’t try on swimwear and lingerie in the store. There is something unnerving about stripping down to one’s altogether in semi public. And in any event the lighting in those changing rooms is soooo unflattering. At least that is my excuse. I find I look my best in dim lighting.

I got home and hung out some laundry to take advantage of the oven baked temperatures. Then I went into the shed to retrieve the paddling pool.

Part of me thought that if I set it up early enough then the sun would heat the water over the course of the day and allow me to merely use the outside tap to fill it. This is probably nonsense. But I did not really fancy hauling buckets of hot water from the kitchen tap into the garden. In the heat. Have I mentioned the heat?

I located the paddling pool under a dust sheet at the back of the shed. We purchased this paddling pool about two years ago. It is large. Not as large as those that come with filters and require a licence from your water company to fill, but large.

I decided on a large one when Eldest slid down the slide into our old ‘Spiderman’ paddling pool (diameter circa 1.2m) and promptly slid straight out the other side. They could all stand up in it but had to take turns to sit. The new pool was quite expensive. Certainly more than I remembered paying for the Spiderman set up which also came with a free beach ball AND rubber ring- both of which were still going strong. But I remember being extremely impressed when this new pool came with a heavy duty patching kit…well, I thought, years of service will negate the cost.

So anyway as I said I located the pool. Unfortunately our ‘friendly’ mouse family that reside in the shed had also located it and torn it into shreds. I like to think that we have a family of ‘friendly’ mice, all pink ears and twitching whiskers, because the alternative is too awful for words. The nest I found was small and so I do believe it is mice. Hopefully endangered harvest mice or something equally cute. And please do not get back to me with statistics which say things like ‘you are only ever 200m from a rat’….and such like. It won’t help.

So the paddling pool was a no go. I calculated that each ‘use’ had cost about £17…but at least it had kept some friendly rodents in nesting material. Moreover I had promised the friends a paddling pool. And my offspring. So a ‘hunting out new paddling pool’ trip was on the cards. The old paddling pool was not only shredded but also smelt a tad…..fruity. Putting it politely. A ‘tip’ trip was also on the cards.

I have needed to go to the tip for a while. The garage is full of cardboard. And used jars. And a few used bottles. And old clothes that no one else wants. And of course after my footwear escapades of the previous day my house was full of old shoes.

So I emptied a fair proportion of my garage into my boot. Along with the fruity, shredded paddling pool.

Off we went. I promised the kids they could post glassware into the bottle bank as a sort of bribe. They still like doing this. Odd people. We got to the tip. It was hot. Have I mentioned that? It was only after depositing cardboard, supervising glass posting, getting rid of that paddling pool and manhandling large sacks of old clothing into a bank two feet taller than me that I realised all those old shoes were still on my kitchen floor. Damn it.

Anyway there is a large superstore near the tip which to my mind was bound to have a paddling pool. It did. But it was only 1.2m in diameter. Never mind we bought baguettes for lunch. And went off to the DIY store opposite. Some paddling pools were on offer. Again only 1.2m. Yet more shops that had been taken off guard by our sudden and unexpected summer.

By this point the heat and exertion had made me very, very hungry. As I filled up with petrol at the superstore forecourt I was in a quandary. Whether to go to the toy store on my ‘way’ home. Or go home, eat and return later.

In the end we went to the toy store on the way home, ignoring our rumbling stomachs and, according to Youngest, parched mouths. Youngest had remembered seeing the exact same paddling pool, without holes and mice wee, at this toy store when we were in there yesterday purchasing water guns as a slight detour from shoe shopping hell.

She was right. There was one pool left. Once we got someone to serve us we left for home.

We really enjoyed our baguettes.  During them Youngest checked to make sure I would be adding hot water to the pool when erecting it. Damn it. Again.

I am now hiding with a cup of tea before braving setting up the pool. I need to find the electric pump. There is no way I can manually blow the thing up. Not in this heat. And then set the hose running. And I guess ferry the odd bucket of hot water out there.

I am going to get them to sign affidavits in blood swearing that they will stay in the pool for longer than ten minutes and go back in tomorrow even if there is cut grass and the odd dead fly floating in it.

I don’t think it likely though…

Footnote: Handy Hint Service-During the filling of a paddling pool it is always wise to see if the paddling pool has a plug, and then check if that plug is in…my lawn is nicely watered anyway…


Just Bounce Off Will You? — July 15, 2016

Just Bounce Off Will You?


So on our ‘Things We Must Do in the Long Summer Holiday’ list the kids had written  ‘Go to Bounce’.

In case you are not familiar with this particular activity Bounce is a shed in a city near us which is home to 100 plus trampolines. Eldest and Middlest have each been to a party there. It was a ‘thing’ about a year ago. In the manner of children’s parties the herd has now moved on. Mainly to the outside Waterpark on a nearby lake. Even looking at children in wet suits in that lake makes me shiver. And worry about algae and stuff. We did a similar thing in Greece last summer. In the Med. Air temperature 38 degrees. Sea temperature 28 degrees. Currently here the air temp is about 18 and I am pretty sure the lake has made double figures but probably only just. It looked more fun in Greece. But hey each to their own.

I am digressing. I apologise.

Youngest has had a bee in her bonnet about Bounce since I had to decline two birthday parties on her behalf that were being held at this palace of bouncy wonderment. To hear her talk you would think this shed was some sort of utopia. With added dodgeball.

So I agreed to let them come. We were going to do it yesterday but then we went on a bike ride down the new bypass (on the cycle route in case readers of Cycle Rage are wondering) and had lunch in our supermarket of choice. That sounds like I am being coy. I am not really. Our supermarket of choice is Sainsburys. What can I say? I like their meat. And the fact that they let me park there on Fridays so I can collect the kids without queuing up for half an hour to leave the school carpark. I owe them. Plus all my ‘favourites’ are saved on their web site. And I am blowed if I am going to go through the rigmarole of starting all over somewhere else. I can almost do my on line grocery shopping in my sleep.

By golly I am digressing again. So after our jaunt on bikes we decided to save Bounce for another, less exciting day. Today is that day.

I booked an hour’s slot on line. And paid an extortionate amount for the privilege. Then I had to buy two pairs of ‘Bounce’ socks. Eldest had brought his home from his party. The parents of the child that Middlest attended the party of are obviously more savvy. They probably kept all the £2.49 pairs of socks and got a reasonable used price on e bay. I was expecting quite a lot from these socks. I generally only pay £2.50 for a five pack of sports socks….

We arrived. Only the independent schools are off this week. So we had thought it might be quite quiet. We hadn’t reckoned on school parties. The double decker in the car park was a little unnerving. I approached the reception desk. Luckily I had printed off all my waiver forms and registration forms and booking forms. These basically consist of reams of paper in which you agree that if you die it is all your own fault, you muppet. And that you won’t get the extortionate entrance fee back in that event.

The lady then asked me if I was staying. I hadn’t booked myself onto the trampolines. I don’t do trampolines. The reason I don’t will be self evident to anyone who has borne three kids. My children haven’t borne three kids so I had to do a little ‘delicate’ explaining. How to tell your kids they have shot your pelvic floor and you are therefore unable to partake of a fun activity with them without making them feel guilty for it? I think I navigated that quite well. The adverts around the place suggesting that Bounce is a ‘family activity’ are clearly designed by marketing executives who have not had children. Or are male.

So I told the lady I would be staying as youngest is 8 and surely therefore too young to be left unattended? She agreed, she was too young to be left. And then she charged me £2.99 for the privilege of supervising my own offspring. My god. Money for old rope. Luckily this entitled me to spend £2.99 in the café.

We acquired the socks. I was a little ‘disappointed’. I am not sure why normal socks would not have worked. I suppose they lack the ‘grips’ on the bottom. And are not bright orange. All  my kids possess Christmas slipper socks though. I think they should have been allowed. However unseasonal they are.

We watched the Safety Briefing. In synopsis. If you die it is all your own fault. You muppet.

They donned the amazing socks. I decided to not bother with a locker. Which would take my pound and not return it. So I carted all the jumpers and shoes and socks (of a non grippy, non orange nature) with me.

We entered bouncy utopia. It quickly became apparent that I would not be able to spectate from the café. As it is below the level of the trampolines. This seemed a little unfair as I had paid £2.99 for the privilege of spectating. I had expected a viewing gallery at least. Oh well. I spent my ‘voucher’ on tea and a piece of Rocky Road. The offspring went off to bounce.

I tried to use the ‘free’ WiFi. Which necessitated that I ‘check in’ on Facebook. These people have an eye for the buck that’s all I can say. I deleted the post once I was safely logged in. Sod you Bounce and your ‘free’ WiFi providing you with ‘free’ advertising. I am not sure why this bothers me so much. But it does. I never check in on Facebook. Ever. I felt dirty.

The place was packed. There seemed to be an entire sixth form in hogging the Slam Dunk area. And another younger school party in the dodge ball arena. And queuing up outside.

Luckily the teenagers’ time was soon up, and the other party left half an hour later. Once I had finished my tea (no food or drink allowed in the bounce arena) and decided to risk leaving my bags in the café I climbed the steps to take a few videos of my springy, flippy children. Just to pretend I was bothered about their antics. In these situations (risk of death, which would be all your own fault, you muppet) I find it is best to just not watch and instead write blog entries.

All too soon their hour was up. Although they would never have coped with two. They were a sweaty mess. As shown above.

I am hoping they will all sleep well tonight. That might provide some ‘compensation’.


A Post About Posts… — July 7, 2016

A Post About Posts…


‘Stealth Post’

So today I was assembling a netball post in the kitchen. This opening probably needs some explanation. Soon Youngest is turning 9. In keeping with our plans to banish the children to the garden for the whole summer holidays her main present is a netball post.

Thus far Operation Banish has not been a huge success as it has fallen foul of our shocking British summer.

However mine break up from school tomorrow for eight and a half weeks. Yep read it and weep. Eight and a half weeks. And so the weather had better pick up to allow Operation Banish to move to full, well, operation and provide me with the time to brush my teeth and occasionally do something other than coax children off electronics. And when I say ‘coax’ I really mean ‘shout at futilely and repetitively’. If the weather doesn’t cooperate I will provide copious amounts of old small hand towels for trampoline wiping. And they can learn to play table tennis in the rain. Extreme table tennis.

So anyway as this is my last full day alone for the said eight and a half weeks it occurred to me that I ought to assemble the netball post. So as not to end up doing it at 9pm on the evening before her birthday. Which wouldn’t be ideal. Especially as I am singing in a concert on that particular evening.

I started assembly on the kitchen floor. There had been some low starred Amazon reviews based on missing pieces and badly aligned holes. Along with one lady who had found the instructions ‘incomprehensible’.

Of course I had taken these reviews with a pinch of salt as the vast majority had been favourable. Read enough reviews on line and you are bound to find someone grumbling about something. We have been to some lovely all inclusive resorts abroad almost universally praised on Trip Advisor. But there will always be some ‘one star’ reviewer complaining that there wasn’t enough choice at the breakfast buffet which when you first attend blows your mind with its vastness. Especially when compared to the two slices of toast and half a grapefruit that is your usual fare.

Anyway I digress. These reviews were another reason I decided to erect the netball post ahead of time. Just in case Nut C was missing. Or my holes failed to line up.

I initially thought the net was missing. Quite an issue really. For a netball post. But, no, on closer inspection it was concealed in the nut and bolt bag. It took a bit of untangling from the washers but all parts were present and correct. I was good to go.

Those ‘incomprehensible’ instructions were not the worst I have seen. They contained words which is an improvement on some flat pack I have attempted in the past. The pictures were a little ambiguous but you know a bit of common sense goes a long way.

I struggled with understanding the wheel, axle, bottom post, struts configuration. Until I realised that I had the struts on the wrong sides. Luckily I had yet to retrieve the socket set from the garage so my nuts were still loose. I always leave my nuts loose until I am sure they are all in the right place. Before turning the screw so to speak. I learnt this the hard way a long time ago with a bookshelf and an Allen key.

It was after sorting this little issue that I realised building the post in the kitchen was a bad idea. I stood up to answer the phone and hit my head on the corner of the worktop which I had managed to work my way under during my exertions. It took quite a crack. The granite seemed unaffected, my forehead less so. I failed to get to the phone as stars danced before my eyes. Quite a lot more than one too.

I then tried to get the remaining four post sections in the right order. And learnt that netball posts are quite a lot higher than ceilings. I think the downlighter has survived. I relocated to the patio. Which put me in full view of the roofers next door. Always a worry to have real craftsmen able to observe ones amateur attempts.

I also understood why the health and safety part of the instructions asked me to take care if using a ladder during assembly. I had no desire to use a monkey wrench and socket set up a ladder. I also had a quick look at the net attachment which seemed to require a degree in origami. Again not something that should be attempted up a ladder. I usually stick ridgidly to the instructions but this time decided to do things out of order. So my last nut tightening was going to be doable from ground level.

That misaligned hole issue mentioned by other purchasers raised its head on the second to third post section attachment. A hammer took care of it. Which was a relief as some of the other reviewers had mentioned drills. Gulp. I have a drill. But it scares my family when I use it. And it is a hammer drill (bought to combat the solid brick walls in our previous abode which resisted curtain poles quite doggedly) which is probably not a precision enough instrument to deal with re drilling a hole in a cylindrical post without the aid of a vice. Which I don’t have. Thank god for the hammer. Luckily I had double checked I had the right bolt in first because it ain’t never coming out again. Ever.

So I managed to get it all together and set to with my socket set and adjustable spanner. I love the ratchet sound that that tool emits. It makes me feel all ‘handy’.

The last step was to fill the base with sand and water. Luckily when we moved house last year our extremely efficient removal men had packed the half used bag of kiln dried sand left by our block paving layers in 2006. In case we ever wanted to brush more kiln dried sand into our driveway. They recommended we do this every year after a jet wash. We had used precisely none of it. I wasn’t going to move it. I was going to leave it for our purchasers one of whom lays floors for a living and might have been more inclined to re sand his drive way.

But no it came in the van. After 10 years it is no longer kiln dried. More ‘beach after the tide has just gone out’ sand. With slugs and worms. I tried to remove most of those before entombing them in a plastic netball post base. It didn’t really pour. I scooped it in through the small hole. Slowly.

This step took longer than I thought.

All that remained was to wheel it around the side of the house, move some logs and ‘hide’ it between the two chimney stacks. It isn’t really that well hidden but then my kids are very unobservant so I am hopeful all will be well.

All I need to do now is find the ball pump for the ‘flat packed’ netball I also bought on line. I don’t know why I thought it would come inflated. It didn’t.

Birthday present wrapping used to be a whole lot easier.





Health Kick — May 26, 2016

Health Kick


So you may remember a while back I mentioned the snugness of my black choir concert trousers and my desire to shed a few pounds. Well since then  I have been on a bit of a health drive.

To start with I base-lined myself using my Fitbit which you may recall was purchased by my husband for my birthday in January. Quite pleasingly I was usually able to hit the government recommended guidelines of ten thousand steps a day quite easily.

Although the more I thought about it the more depressing that fact became. The snugness of my concert trousers had occurred, therefore, despite my hitting this step goal, albeit unknown to me, and as such it was clear the number of steps in question was not sufficient to allow for the amount of Doritos in my diet.

Thus I was faced with two options. One, cut out the Doritos or, two, up my exercise game. Doritos are a non negotiable. I am not bothered what flavour. Plain, chilli heat wave, barbecue…..hmmm…barbecue…. So suffice to say only option two appealed. I use the word ‘appealed’ here advisedly.

A friend and I started a weekly exercise class. Once I got over the shock of turning up to our first session and being made to exercise outside I got into it. It is mainly strength based though and I felt a bit of sweat may be in order.

So I girded my loins and dusted off my Jillian Michaels DVDs. I had a fairly prolonged flirtation with Jillian about five years ago when I had finally packed Youngest off to school and decided I needed to get to grips with myself. A bit like now. But without the concert trouser snugness.

At that time Jillian was a presenter on one of my favourite shows; Biggest Loser USA. Well when I say presenter what I actually mean is torturer. I am sure you know the concept. A group of seriously large, in a way that really only Americans seem to be able to achieve, people go to a ‘camp’ to lose drastic amounts of weight. A lot of it is diet, no Doritos in sight, but another large part is the exercise regime put together by the competing team leaders. Of which Jillian was my favourite. The exercise regime is brutal. It consists of lots of shouting, bullying, sweating, collapsing and quite often vomiting.

Quite why, then, I thought buying her home DVDs was a good idea is slightly beyond me.

At the time there were many threads on Mumsnet about her 30 Day Shred DVD. See even the name is scary. The upsides. Each session is only 20 minutes long. That is the main selling point. It is apparently easy to fit in to your day. Of course in reality it isn’t really 20 minutes long. Once you have rearranged the lounge, extracted your trainers from the kids dressing up box, discovered the cans of beans you were going to use as weights have been eaten, warmed up, cooled down and showered. But still shorter than the average DVD.

Another upside. It seemed to work if the mums on Mumsnet were anything to go by.  Some had even posted headless ‘before and after’ selfies. They were probably following the specially designed diet plan as well though. I took a cursory glance at that part of the DVD. There was no mention of Doritos so I decided it wasn’t for me.

The downsides. You need to do it at least 5 days out of seven. Great the weekend off.

So it seemed perfect. I removed the complete works of Trumpton from the DVD player and inserted the disc.

Clearly I had expected pain. And possibly vomiting. But I knew things were going to be bad when there were jumping jacks in the warm up. To me a jumping jack is a cardio move and has no place in a warm up. The other thing a jumping jack is is a strain on my pelvic floor. I need a warning before attempting jumping jacks. To clench.

Warm up accomplished I staggered through the rest of Level 1. Jillian introduced me to muscles I never knew I had and not really in a good way.

By the end of the (27 minute) session I was a spent, red faced, gibbering wreck. With only one thing on my mind. That I would have to do it all over again the next day.

The next day dawned and I could not move. Seriously. My children learnt some new words as I attempted to get downstairs, sit, put on my socks, etc.

I returned to Mumsnet and sure enough the threads contained many, many references to being unable to walk for a week. How had I missed that? The cure? To keep going.

So I struggled slightly less enthusiastically through day 2. Trying not to ‘phone it in’ or ‘cheat myself’ and ‘remembering all the reasons you bought this DVD’. The reason I bought this DVD was because of some loons on a parenting forum. And because I was wearing my ‘bad news’ filtering goggles.

I grew to love and loath Jillian. I finished the Shred and progressed to other scary sounding DVDs such as Ripped in 30 (!), Killer Buns and Thighs and, my personal bete noir, Banish Fat Boost Metabolism. Which is basically an hour of being so out of breath you feel like your lungs are coming up through your throat. In fact at one point the lovely Jillian even says ‘I want you gargling your own heart by the time this work out is over’. She isn’t joking.

Anyway I stuck at it for quite a while. And then I stopped. I am not sure why. Probably the long summer holidays.  The children find me doing exercise hysterical. I find their hysteria contagious. And I find it hard to laugh, clench and do jumping jacks all at the same time. Stopping, however, is a very bad idea as when you start up again the aches come back. Big time.

The other reason I stopped was that I  got slightly disheartened by all the uber mums on Mumsnet upping the anti and doing more than one DVD session back to back or pressing 8kgs. I don’t even possess 8kg weights. I can’t even begin to contemplate pressing them. My shoulders would literally seize up. My weights are a set of 1, 2 and 3s and the 3s are permanently used as bookends. It put me off to be honest.

So anyway 5 years on and it is still as horrible. I still don’t need the 3kgs. Which is a good job, tidy bookshelf wise. I ached for the customary week. I am on Level 3 currently which seems to be designed to make me swear out loud at the television. Between gasping for air like a drowning fish. Each session nets me a disappointingly low amount of steps on my Fitbit which seem totally out of proportion to the level of effort required. A gentle stroll to Budgens to buy Doritos is ‘worth’ so much more…

And of course I haven’t lost any weight. I like to kid myself it is because muscle weighs more than fat. But really it is because I get so hungry after shouting at Jillian that I eat more Doritos. But my thighs are more toned and I feel better about myself. And I get to tick it off my to do list. Always a bonus.

Soon it will be half term and I will stop to avoid being the butt of pre teenage jokes, which are never funny. And then I will have to go through that week long pain again. The burning question is whether I will be bothered.

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