Parenting, profundities and humour

The Beginning of the End… — December 3, 2018

The Beginning of the End…



And so the inevitable has happened. Eldest has acquired a girlfriend.

I really don’t know how I feel about it. At all.

On the one hand I am pleased for him. I have always maintained that he would benefit hugely from a close relationship which isn’t founded on taking the mickey or benching or rolling around in mud… and that’s just his siblings. His friendships with his male peers are even weirder…

Eldest is a deep thinker. Immensely caring. Thoughtful. He has a lot to offer and a lot to gain from a close friendship with a girl.

But on the otherhand it feels like the beginning of the end.

My time as the main female in his life is in its death throws. I know it happens to us all. I just wasn’t ready yet to have a rival for all that love and affection.

Being the mother of boys is an immense privilege. They learn how to treat women from you. They learn to understand how we tick. They worship you. When they are little they run to you in a way daughters don’t. It seems odd but that is how it has always been with mine.

And letting go even ever so slightly hurts. Just a little bit, but it hurts.

So make the most of those hugs and kisses and special times when warm fuzzy heads nestle in your arms and sticky hands clasp at yours for before you know it they are  6 feet tall and you have to stand on tiptoe to steal an occasional kiss.

My beautiful boy. Let’s hope I have equipped you to be the best boyfriend you can be. You are certainly a wonderful son.

Love Mum x

The Change… — May 2, 2018

The Change…


Here is another post that I have deliberated about penning or not. It is up there with Let’s Not Skirt Around the Issue– which incidentally remains one of my most popular blogs of all time- however it is raining here, it feels like December, I have a half eaten bag of Liquorice Allsorts to finish and the only alternative is cleaning. Or binge watching Outlander. This feels more productive. But possibly less fun.

Deep breaths then everybody.

I am a woman of a certain age. 48 to be precise. Therefore I have experience of being a woman. Quite extensive experience. And it is safe to say that being a woman sucks on many levels. And one of those levels is the beginning, middle and end of one’s reproductive life.

Currently I am grappling with the end. For those of you possessed of a penis (you lucky, lucky sods I am envious, really I am, seriously you don’t know how lucky you are- what have you had to deal with?- really?- a bit of shaving (if you feel like it- it isn’t even obligatory especially in November- it is more obligatory for me apparently which goes beyond unfair)- the occasional knock to a vital area causing extreme discomfort- and – and- no, that’s it – get over yourselves) I should may be explain.

For some considerable time, when I was happily producing reliable levels of oestrogen, I was labouring under the illusion that I would have a few hot flushes and maybe put on a bit of weight and then that would be it. The menopause would be done. No more periods. It sounded quite attractive. I would be done with the Feminine Hygiene aisle. The years of debilitating cramps and bloating would be over. I could go swimming whenever I wanted. Calendar watching and forward planning would be done with. I would no longer pull something unfortunate out of my hand bag whilst buying tiffin in Costa. I would caper gaily in meadows neatly eating baguettes with my new dentures and going on cruises.

Oh yes from the mire of PMT it all looked quite beguiling.

But no, the end of one’s reproductive life as a woman (and let’s not forget here that a man never ends his reproductive life, ever, he can remain potent up until the day he drops- again beyond unfair) has stages. And those stages can take years.

When I went to my GP about my severe breast pain (I am not a hypochondriac but even I thought something may be up) he quizzed me on the when this occurred and once we had established it was cyclical he put it down to hormones. But, I asserted, I have never suffered from this pain due to PMT before. Well, he patronised, as a woman ages her PMT symptoms often change. He also suggested I might be peri-menopausal and suggested I go away and look it up.

I think I have mentioned this GP before. I can’t remember where, I have had a bit of a look but it escapes me. So I can’t link it. Sorry. Anyway I found this whole consultation deeply annoying. After I had resisted the urge to punch him I trotted off like a good little woman with my frankly debilitating breast pain and googled the peri menopause.

I wished I hadn’t.

So here is the gen. I had my terminology wrong. The menopause hasn’t happened until a woman goes without menstruating for a whole year. The run up to this when the ovaries start producing less and less oestrogen is called the peri- menopause and can take up to 10 years. Seriously. 10 years.

There are all the classic symptoms. Hot flushes, night sweats, weight gain, mood swings.

But there are others. I had spent the previous 6 months gently worrying that I may have early onset dementia. But, no, my inability to remember words, what happened yesterday, my kids’ names, how to make macaroni cheese is also down to the peri-menopause. Seriously. It is called cognitive decline. Who knew oestrogen played such a role in braininess? Well certainly not the other half of the population. And I guess it just backs up the old adage that men think with their… well whatever.

The literature suggested I try Sudoko. My god. I hate Sudoko. I thought I would blog instead. Maybe I should track my vocabulary usage and see if it is declining as I make my weary way through this never ending desert of the peri-menopause.

My perky fitness instructor recently attended a training course to learn to deliver menopause exercise classes (not something she is going to need for herself for an annoyingly long time). Apparently one does a lot of weight bearing lunges (to combat bone and muscle loss and CV decline) whilst counting backwards from 100 in sevens. Once she had outlined this at our group circuits class yesterday she diplomatically asserted that she wouldn’t need to run that for our class anytime soon but that we could ‘do it for fun’ one time if we fancied. Meanwhile I was stuck at 93. She could start running them for me tomorrow as it happens.

And then ‘mood swings’ doesn’t really come close. Homicidal mania may be more appropriate. Seriously there are days in my ‘cycle’, normally when merely dressing is agony, when it is best to avoid me. And I certainly wouldn’t recommend asking for the whereabouts of your glasses or open the new box of cling film wrongly or alter the height of my desk chair. Not unless you want to be killed with a spoon. Slowly. I think this is nature’s way of ensuring men cop for some inconvenience. It’s about time.

I don’t think I get hot flushes. Yet. I am feeling the heat more though. Weirdly I am having arguments with my husband that the house is too hot. Those that know me will find this distinctly odd as I am usually cold. And I still feel the cold. But not at night. Or first thing in the morning when I wake up feeling like I am sleeping in the desert because hubbie has had the temerity to turn up the thermostat to 18.5 degrees. I might buy him flannelette pyjamas.

And then there is hypermenorrhea, a technical term for bleeding like a stuck pig. Many, many women get this in the run up to the menopause. Heavier and longer periods. Great. So now for 2 days a month leaving the house gets difficult. Thanks for that. A right kick in the balls. If I had any. So in order to stop having periods one needs to have worse ones. Is it just so we remember forever? Is the body having one last ‘hurrah’ at our expense? Whatever it is deeply unfair. Deeply.

There are other symptoms listed which I am not going to go into personally as you may have to leave the room… such lovely things as vaginal dryness, loss of libido, incontinence (maybe I won’t have much time out from that feminine hygiene aisle), loss of bone density, a decrease in cardio vascular function, muscle loss, insomnia, worsening of PMT symptoms, fatigue, depression.

I look forward to running the gauntlet of these over the next 5 years or so.

But I guess the hardest thing in all of this is that realisation that soon (if not already no one can tell you in any given month if you have ovulated or are just having a period for ‘fun’) one will be redundant evolutionarily speaking.

Facing the end of one’s ability to birth children, whether one has had them or not, through choice or not, whether one wants more of them or metaphorically runs screaming to the hills at the mere thought, can be hard. More than hard.

So again the penis owning ones amongst you spare a thought for your wives, mothers, daughters and sisters as they ride this particularly scary and frankly not fun at all rollercoaster to old age.

And if any one suggests (especially in those homicidal 7 days a month) that I will be reborn after the menopause into a golden age of my life where I will have much to offer free from the burden of my own fertility I will tell them to fuck off. Seriously. You have been warned.

Being Brave… — December 20, 2016

Being Brave…


Recently I was given the chance to be brave. In my life there are not many opportunities to live that cliche oft spouted on inspirational posters and face book walls and old episodes of The Apprentice:- Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. My life is fairly humdrum involving many, many tasks none of which are particularly difficult or scary. Hard work for sure but not seat of the pants type stuff.

In the dim past when I was working most of my days were full of stuff that scared the living daylights out of me, presenting to clients, picking up the phone and cold calling, meteing out difficult decisions, lending millions of pounds and hoping it would be repaid and the like. But since leaving and having kids those sorts of activities have kind of gone away.

Yes I have had to be brave at certain times. Because life was shitty and the ill health of myself or others needed to be borne and soldiered on through. But that is a different sort of brave. That sort of brave is a braveness of necessity,  I am thinking here of optional bravery. When one puts oneself out there. But didn’t have to.

In fact this blog is the scariest thing I have done in sometime. Writing personally for the hopeful enjoyment of an unknown readership. But it is not an immediate type of scary. It is a ‘help only 3 people have read it today’ type of scary. And anyway in the scheme of things does that actually matter? Especially when one is up against Strictly Come Dancing The Final….

This sort of ‘optional bravery’ is all the more pertinent to me because my kids are often very brave in that sort of way. And often I am not all that understanding of what they are going through. In fact I may actually put them in situations they would rather avoid because of the bravery involved. I think I am helping them build their characters and so I encourage them to enter festivals and music competitions and reading competitions and sports competitions and….

And so often my boys are performing with their instruments such as at last week’s Christmas concert, or my Youngest is taking to the pitch as the only girl on the field, or one is playing piano in assembly, or singing a solo as Joseph age 9 (that was Eldest still one of my proudest moments as a mum), or playing an amazing violin solo at a small concert (Middlest age 10, OK Joseph is only joint proudest moment…). Etc. Last week Eldest gave a speech in the end of term Assembly in front of the whole of Years 7, 8 and 9. To be fair I hadn’t ‘made’ him do that, his form teacher had, but still it was a big ask for a 12 year old.  And every year they are all in the church Nativity Service on Christmas Eve when the whole village turns out to watch. They take music exams which I remember from my childhood made me feel physically sick.

And yes just before their performances I too get nervous, experiencing that butterfly in the stomach feeling on their behalf hoping they don’t muck up and make themselves feel bad. For although the cliche goes that it is doing it anyway that is important succeeding is also quite a biggy. Even if succeeding is just getting through it.

And so when my choir mistress asked me to sing a solo at our concert yesterday my immediate reaction was ‘Not on your nelly!’. But she asked me to think about it. So I did. Other than the fact that I was very flattered that she had asked me and therefore had faith in my ability to do it at least some justice, I decided I needed to ‘live’ that advice I often give my kids, that a little bit of bravery can deliver all sorts of rewards in terms of self esteem at a job well done.

I didn’t tell anyone beforehand. Mostly because my children have extreme versions of my ‘sympathy’ nerves and would have worried about me. Middlest was very nervous watching Eldest do that speech in Assembly last week. I didn’t want to put him through that too early in proceedings.

So they only knew when they turned up to watch.

And yes just before my slot my bowels went to liquid and my thighs got that awful achy, dead sort of feeling (which incidentally I also get when I drink alcohol which is why I don’t) which meant I felt like I might fall over, my stomach was doing somersaults and it was hard to catch my breath (not great for singing). But I got my note, breathed in deeply and went for it.

Afterwards everyone was very kind. One lady asked me if the kids on the front row were mine. When I told her that they were she replied that she had guessed as much because they had looked so proud.

And so I guess that is why I did it. To prove that bravery of that sort is for everyone. Even if they are 46. And I hope next time they need to deal with their bowels and thighs and stomachs and breath they might remember their mum singing alone in front of 250 people and decide it is worth the risk.



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…




Oh Man! — November 20, 2016

Oh Man!


I love men. Generally and specifically. I have a lovely husband and two gorgeous sons. A dad. Two brothers. Various in laws. I am friends with a number of my ex boyfriends. I get on with the husbands of my friends. I find it easy to banter along with all the football dads on my daughter’s touchline. Just as she seems to be able to get along with the 11 boys she boots a ball around with. Like mother like daughter.

And I appreciate men more generally. Especially hot, young men with very little clothing on and the chap at my local Costa. I like workmen who come over to the house and pass the time of day with me. And mend stuff, clean stuff, remove stuff, decorate stuff, assemble stuff, educate me in the fitting of appliances and the like.

And I very much like the young man at a local paint ball centre who was very nice to me at my son’s recent party and actually knew how to converse, nay maybe even flirt, with middle aged ladies. I am sure it was just his extremely pleasant manner but hey at 46 and (not so) suddenly invisible to the opposite sex he was a total breath of fresh air. It will certainly earn him my repeat business which I am sure was the point. Whatever his motives I will take it. One can’t be fussy.

In summary I like, get on with and relate to men.

But there are some things about men I cannot stand. Here are just a selection. I should probably caveat this by saying that I am not aware that my football touch line male friends are guilty of these crimes. I haven’t asked. But if I was out on a boozy night with their wives it is likely a selection of these gripes would surface around the table. Just saying.

My son’s are growing up. Eldest is nearly 13 and taller than me. Middlest is 11 and not quite so tall. And both of them have lost the ability to aim. It is likely a proximity issue. When they first became old enough to stand to wee, and I was banned from making them sit for fear of emasculating them, their tackle sort of rested on the loo rim making aiming pretty easy. Now their genitalia is hovering a foot or more above the seat the likelihood of bad aim has increased exponentially.

It is worse in the morning. And before you ask, no I don’t want to think about why, these are my babies godammit. They have their own bathroom shared by their father. But for some reason they  feel the need to hold on until they are downstairs.

They are also incapable of lifting the seat. Apparently it will not stay up. Surely that is what hands where invented for. It is not like they are using them for anything else, for instance aiming the appendage in the vague vicinity of the bowl.

Eldest informed me that he doesn’t want to touch the seat as it is ‘germy’. Well yes I agree however as nearly all those germs emanate from his own urine I believe he should just get the f over himself. He wasn’t swayed by that argument. Guests use that toilet and so there are other germs at play apparently. I may have shouted at this point that he could just use HIS OWN BLOODY TOILET THEN which he merely shares with people who have at least some of his genes in common but who also have dubious aim…

And so I have lost count of the times I have sat down on this loo to be greeted with a wet seat. I no longer sit without checking. I live in fear of a guest receiving such treatment. If you know me personally be warned.

In fact the ‘male’ bathroom in our house is a total war zone. I do not enter unless it is absolutely necessary. Both sons cannot hang towels. I bring the mirror up to a beautiful shine merely to have it smattered with toothpaste and hair gel and hair spray and god alone knows what else by the same evening. Toothpaste scum covers nearly every surface. Every time I clean the room I throw out at least 15 empty bottles of unguents and shampoos and Radox and face scrub and about three empty loo rolls.

And why can’t my men get the idea that if they would like me to replace something for them which is about to run out then maybe they should actually tell me. Rather than assuming that I will somehow order the said item from Sainsbury’s through a mere process of osmosis. It is no use telling me on Saturday that you are all out of deodorant. The shopping comes on Fridays. It always has. It always will. And no I do not have time to run to buy you some before rushing off to deposit you at football/ rugby/ hockey/ a mate’s. The other night husband asked ‘Why have we run out of toothpaste?’ I am not sure the correct answer was ‘F*** Off’ but there you go.

And no I do not have time to scour the house before each on line shop checking if you have run out of ‘evening’ Radox…that Eldest needs to ensure is not too ‘zesty’ thus impairing his sleep…my god I am a WOMAN and my sons’ ablution requirements far out do my own.

Well maybe I have the time but I certainly lack the will when I have spent an hour at the kitchen table, head in hands, surrounded by the calendar, clubs list, fixture spreadsheet and weekly up date from husband’s PA on his whereabouts trying to decide what the hell to feed them all whilst allowing for all their myriad allergies and intolerances and dislikes and avoiding red meat on every single day because I read somewhere that it is a ‘bad thing for arteries’ and we have difficult heart history on both sides of the family only for Sainsbury’s to turn up having decided that tomato and basil fresh pasta sauce is an appropriate substitute for bolognaise fresh pasta sauce when everyone knows my men only tolerate food with meat in it and that meal was one of my two ‘red meat days’ and I can’t add cheese as the missing ‘saturated fat’ protein as husband hates it and I don’t have time to make it myself from scratch which a good wife and mother does as that is the evening I have to feed people in four shifts whilst hopping in and out of the car shouting ‘Please have your shin pads in by the time I get back!’. No. Will. Left.

And it is not only bathrooms that resemble bomb sites. Bedrooms do too. I do not set my children many tasks. Which is probably lazy parenting. But I do insist on them making their own beds. Middlest has an issue with this. Quite why I am not sure. After all it isn’t me that insists on taking 8 cuddly toys to bed every night and it wasn’t me who pestered and pestered for all those touchy feelie cushions and the one shaped like a poo emoji. I believe that was him. And so I am really not sure why I have to spend minutes of my life every day picking all of them up off the floor.

And I don’t put husband’s gym kits way because the drawer they live in is spring loaded with so much unfolded lycra that it threatens to overwhelm me every time I open the drawer. (Note to self, I must carry on vainly trying to teach my boy children how to fold stuff up). It is no wonder husband merely buys more and more kit as there is no way he can possibly know what the bejeebers is in there.

And that leads me on to the looking thing. My god the looking thing. For the love of all that is holy please open your eyes. Or wear your glasses. If you can find them. Or both. The cheese grater is in the same cupboard it was last week when I asked you to set the table.

And finally, finally. That glass on the work top above the dishwasher. That glass that is always there. Always. How I hate that glass.


Putting A Brave Face On It… — August 16, 2016

Putting A Brave Face On It…


I recently went in to Boots (other pharmacies, that also sell other crap such as photograph albums and kids clothes so that there are hardly any staff left on the actual prescription counter meaning you have to wait days for your child’s asthma inhaler, are available) to restock my face creams.

It may come as a surprise to some that I use face creams. I do not wear make up. Anyone who knows me personally knows this. Why not? Multitudinous reasons. My mother didn’t wear make up when I was a child and so I never ‘learnt’ to apply it. Or more accurately I never learnt to ‘need’ to apply it. It didn’t figure in my parameters of being a women. I can’t be bothered to get up earlier to make time to put it on. I similarly lack the will to take it off at night. I do not know what ‘palettes’ suit me. And frankly I can’t be arsed.

There may be many people wandering around catching sight of my un made up face and inwardly cringing at my gaucheness. But then equally I walk around seeing people at the gym or next to the swimming pool on holiday in full make up and think- you muppets. So touché.

But I do use face cream. This desire started in my twenties when I first started to get a few laughter lines. The fact that I panicked quite so wholeheartedly at that point is now frankly laughable as laughter lines etch into wrinkles and my neck acquires a droopiness that no amount of foundation would disguise. Oh the naivety.

But anyway I started on the road of face creams. I began with Body Shop stuff. Seduced by the tangle haired founder’s claims of naturalness and lack of animal testingness and other such stuff.  Once everyone caught on to this particularly welcome band wagon I switched to Simple. It was cheaper.

When I had my first child I decided all this political correctness and affordability was all well and good but what I needed now was something that actually worked. At the time Boots (don’t forget other such stores, with appalling customer service and overly made up beauty counter assistants who scare me, are available) was heavily advertising its new No 7 miracle creams. They had actual scientific evidence that wrinkles were reduced. Beautiful models glowed radiantly out of posters. I hadn’t heard of Photoshop, the IT troglodyte that I am. And so I went in to purchase some items.

At the time my age, general skin type (normal) and lack of skin problems landed me firmly in the Early Defence range. Well I wasn’t really firmly landed in that range as it was designed for 20-35 year olds and I was 34 at the time but the counter assistant I discussed it with knocked a few years off my age and I was too flattered to contradict her. This hasn’t happened since. And anyway, I argued with my inner voice, I was still within that age range. Just.

I nearly had a heart attack at the pay desk. This stuff is seriously pricey. I was so overwhelmed I was suckered into a Boots (remember other stores, which so overstock their shelves with ‘gift sets’ at Christmas (which always contain a product the recipient will never use, in my case body lotion) making it impossible to locate the Savlon, are available) store card. The points I amassed buying day cream, night cream, eye cream and serum entitled me to a small cruise. Well I exaggerate but I did get a free tube of toothpaste.

Anyway I religiously began to apply said creams. Well when I say religiously I mean as often as I remembered/ had the energy/ had the time with a squalling new born.

The next five years passed in a whirlwind of babies and nappies and toddlers and bone numbing, aching tiredness. I must have replaced those creams occasionally. I certainly remember graduating to the  35- 45 years cream Protect and Perfect Intense at some point. Whenever I say that in my head I always shout the ‘Intense’ part out louder. Not sure why. Maybe it makes me feel better about the even larger price tag. Presumably this cream has more of the ‘stuff’ in it that 86% of 83 people believe reduces their wrinkles. Seriously can’t they ask a few more people. It is not like Boots (remember other stores, which smell the same wherever you are in the UK and always hide the dental aisle very comprehensible, are available) isn’t some international company.

Anyway I must have replaced those creams as some more free tubes of toothpaste came my way and some very welcome two for one vouchers courtesy of that reward card. Which of course I can never find when paying. It is usually under the Costa card. Which says a lot for my priorities.

I started applying it more regularly as I came out of the fog of early motherhood. And it has an SPF factor of 15 which makes me feel better about walking in the sun.

Before our holiday I needed to replace my night cream. I knew that on holiday after my daily ‘post sea and pool’ shower my skin would feel tighter than …a very tight thing (I thought about being coarse there but thought better of it- my father reads this blog) and would need generously smearing with that night cream.

I approached the right area of Boots (remember other stores, that coyly call tampons feminine hygiene products, are available) and dodged the over eager, foundation plastered, twelve year old assistant to grab my night cream. She wasn’t to be deterred. She was determined to ‘assess’ me. Flustered and in a hurry to get back before the school chucked out for the day I rashly provided my actual age when she enquired. Rather than politely and yet assertively asking her to eff off.

She then politely and assertively told me that I needed their over 45 product, upper age range not specified, called Lift and Luminate. I sheepishly took down a bottle of this magic elixir. And paid yet more money at the counter. Presumably it has yet more of that ‘stuff’ in it. I thought they might offer me a discrete brown paper bag to wrap it in, such was the shame I felt. But then these people are used to selling feminine hygiene products, condoms and haemorrhoid cream and so are immune to customers’ embarrassment.

I took it home. The vessel that contains it is a soft purple, the smell is faintly ‘old ladyish’ and yet perversely I quite like it. However I am yet to feel Lifted or Luminated.

Oh god age is a bitch.





Living in a Bubble? — June 26, 2016

Living in a Bubble?


So just a day after I wrote my last post Should We Stay or Should We Go the almost unthinkable happened.

The Great Britsh public voted to go.

My husband told me the news at 5am on Friday morning. To begin with I clung onto those last thirty odd areas yet to declare hoping against hope that the result would change. Of course that didn’t happen. It was like watching a car crash. In slow motion.

It is now Sunday. And I am still in shock. The expected turmoil happened on Friday. And now we are in the eye of the storm, awaiting fresh turmoil tomorrow.

I don’t know what to think. I know I feel worried and angry and ashamed. Both personally and for the wider situation.

I had to turn the television off on Friday. As party leaders fell. And sterling crashed and burned my brain couldn’t really take anymore. I made cup cakes.

I sometimes think I am guilty of living in a middle class bubble. I often deliberately avoid the news. I think it is a form of self preservation. When I ponder on such enormities as global warming my mind starts to shut down. The fear I feel about what the future holds for my children and grandchildren is too much to contemplate. And yes I recycle and turn off the lights and turn down the thermostat. But I don’t march or sign petitions or campaign.

I just cannot. To admit it is to make it real. And I am coming to the conclusion I am a bit of a coward…

And so I will never be an activist. Even though I do feel passionately about things. I will do my little bit locally helping govern our school, sitting on the neighbourhood planning team, writing minutes for the Scout group, volunteering at jumble sales, baking cakes. But I won’t be marching in the capital. Setting the political world on fire. Making a real difference. I am not proud of it. But it is reality.

But then I hope to bring up three children with the sorts of values I think are important. Instill in them tolerance and altruism and the ability to try to see both sides of an argument. And maybe that will be my lasting legacy.

I read more stuff today on the EU situation. The racist incidences which seem to have been unleashed. Stories of people losing jobs or being asked to relocate. The implosion of our political parties. Graduates having job offers withdrawn. The Far Right bandwagon rolling with increased momentum. The possible splintering of Great Britain. The lies being exposed. Maybe it is hyperbole. And maybe not. In any event that fear was back. With avengence.

And again I had to stop reading.

Today we were all tired from a lovely evening out with friends. And so in the end we all watched Independence Day on the TV. Oh the irony. I found myself thinking that it could be worse. We could be being invaded by aliens.

Proper aliens. From outer space. I’d be happier if our world had been turned upside down because of that.


A Weighty Issue — March 8, 2016

A Weighty Issue


So last evening I sang with my choir in a Music Festival. I may have mentioned that before. I joined the choir about 5 years ago and in the run up to our first concert had to find an all black outfit.

I may have also mentioned before that I wear jeans. All the time. And not black ones at that. And so I made an emergency dash to Primarni and purchased a pair of black trousers with an elasticated waist and a black fitted T shirt. For about ten quid. Thinking that they would do ‘pro tem’. I ignored the little voice in my head mithering about child labour. And the elasticated waist.

Of course in every concert since I have reached in my wardrobe for that exact same outfit. Pro tem, it seems, is at least 5 years.

Anyhoo. Last night I pulled on the trousers and was slightly disconcerted to find that they were…a little snug.

So there we have it. There has been creep. A depositing of extra pounds around my, how can I put this politely, arse. OK so not very polite, but then I don’t feel very polite about it.

I don’t weigh myself. For a few reasons. Firstly because the batteries in my fancy fat percentage weighing scales are dead. (Don’t use in socks. It gets all confused and throws a hissy fit). And I keep forgetting to replace them. And by now a combination of the steam from the shower and leaving dead batteries in there for over a year has probably knackered them beyond all repair. Which begs the question why am I still dusting them every week? (OK, OK, every month…ish…).

I also don’t weigh myself as I do not want to obsess about my weight and transfer any eating issues to my kids. Who are already bombarded with enough ‘healthy living’ advice at school to be sufficiently paranoid that Eldest has designed his own sit up and press up routine.

But if I am brutally honest I don’t weigh myself because it is better not to know. There I said it. Ignorance is bliss. Was.

But now I have failed the ‘concert trousers’ test. And have until May to do something about it. I really don’t want to admit defeat and have to go back to Primarni and buy elasticated trousers in a (whispers) bigger size.

So this is my plan of action.

Stop buying large packets of Doritos in my Friday on line shop. I buy them to accompany our weekend salad lunches. But I have noticed a tendency between hubby and I to ‘forget’ to serve them to the kids at lunch. So we can then eat them ‘a deux’ on the sofa in the evening in front of The Night Manager.

Crisps are really my downfall. It is a well known fact amongst my inner circle. In fact so much so that on my birthday some dear friends bought me some individual sized packets of Salt and Vinegar Kettle Chips. A catering sized box full. From a wholesaler. Hmmm they probably haven’t helped. Much.

Start dusting those weighing scales more often. Obviously I don’t just mean the scales but dusting and other such pursuits more generally. Housework is a great calorie burner. Although tedious as hell. But cheaper than a gym membership. And with pleasant side effects. However temporary.

Eat less biscuits. This is tricky. My afternoon pleasure is a cuppa and a couple of biscuits (unless I am still wading through a catering sized box of salty delights, oh, OK often as well as…). You know to reward myself for not dusting. Somehow a cuppa alone isn’t quite the ticket. I could chow down on carrot sticks and a cuppa. I suppose. Sigh. It doesn’t help that my children (well actually my husband) bought me two packets of luxury biscuits for Mother’s Day yesterday. So now I am in that quandary. Eat them gradually over the course of a few weeks risking staleness and poundage creep or eat them all in one sitting and ‘get them over with’? I suppose in the latter case I could just counter-act the huge calorie in take with extra (shudders) dusting.

Walk more. The weather is improving. Finally. That yellow thing in the sky has actually come back. So although it is cold still at least I feel like venturing out. And so I need to do so. And not sit on the sofa watching re runs of Friends…sorry I mean dusting.

Eat less cheese. And pork pie. Bigger sigh. I have finally finished the Christmas cheese so that will help. Pork pie is a different issue. I clearly have none left over from Christmas. That would be insane. But a medium Melton Mowbray does come up in the top ten of my ‘Favourite’ items on my Sainsbury’s on line ordering system. Says it all really. May be I should deliberately run out of Branston pickle. Rendering the pie unappetising. But that would incur the wrath of Youngest. Who is pickle mad. Dilemmas, dilemmas.

Keep going to my exercise class once a week. Which is fun. And not reward myself afterwards with an extra cuppa and couple of biscuits. Bad mummy….

That is it really. I don’t want to lose a lot of weight. Just a ‘couple’ of pounds. Or so. Obviously I don’t actually know how many I want to lose as I can’t weigh myself. But I am guessing seven will do it. By May. Do-able. I hope.

Wish me luck.



15 Years and Counting… — November 18, 2015

15 Years and Counting…


I have a vague idea I should write something about marriage.

The reason is that today (well at 3 o’clock this afternoon) I will have been married for 15 years.

Also it is Week 3 – see Keeping Clean Sheets if you don’t understand that reference- and so I am employing as many avoiding tactics as I can. I have done three fifths of Week 3 and have re-jigged it a bit so I no longer have the family/ scuss bathroom to do- poor Week Two is the down hearted recipient- but still major avoiding needed. The Kitchen Diner is left…need I say more?

The downstairs loo is leaking again. The number pad on my PC keyboard has stopped working. I have the mother of all weeks meetings/ helping at school/ parents evening/ ferrying/ school concerts wise. And so feel like taking this morning easy before I leave the house at 1pm and do not return except to briefly stuff sandwiches into kids until gone 9pm. My ‘working’ day, always a bit odd.

And anyway Christmas is arriving after a flurry of on-line activity yesterday and I do not want to miss a courier whom I have accidentally drowned out by over zealous vacuuming.

So there we have it I thought a quick post avoiding the use of as many numbers as possible would be the order of the day. And as today is my wedding anniversary it seems like as good a topic as any. Although it involves, already, too many numerals.

I have started this entry and discovered that since I last wrote Wordpress, my lovely blog host, have decided to change everything. I cannot find buttons. I no longer appear to be able to link to my other entries in a logical way. The Save button has mysteriously disappeared. I don’t need this in Week Three, I really don’t. Don’t they know I have been married for 15 (arghh) years today?

As you may have gathered we are not doing anything special today, despite its significance. Well I am having bacon on cheesy rolls for lunch but otherwise, no.  At about 5.30am husband used the assistive light on his phone to blind me and also deposit a wrapped article on the bed. I tried unsuccessfully to fumble under my bedside table for his gift and card. He told me to leave it until later. He has probably forgotten that there won’t be a later. He ordered me to get more sleep (probably the most romantic thing he will say to me all day- in fact one of the few things he will say to me at all today) which I tried to do. It was difficult with burning retinas.

In any event that present isn’t up to a great deal. I am far beyond those times when I spent every available lunch hour devising, planning and purchasing a perfect gift for each anniversary (and birthday and Christmas). The present was purloined off his Christmas list which I only extracted from him on Saturday morning. And so although Youngest and I tried to find something more inspired between football matches and rain showers in town we failed. Fifteen years is crystal. We have enough tumblers. And what would a grown man do with a small glass animal? And in any event my mind is too full of what to buy small people for Christmas and what other people can buy my small people for Christmas and what I should buy the teachers for Christmas and what I would like other people to buy me for Christmas…. perhaps more time? It is like this every year and led me once to forget our anniversary completely. I was that ‘buying flowers in a petrol station’ cliché. My tip is not to get married in November.

Anyway back to this morning. Once the alarm went off a mere half an hour later I struggled blindly through my minimal ablutions and then took a pause to open his gift and card before rousing the kids. Do not fret dear reader my retinas are recovered. I always struggle blindly through my morning ablutions in a kind of denial. About morning. About the day to come. About, well everything really. I do not usually leave this ‘denial’ phase until the caffeine from my first cuppa has kicked in.

The gift was lovely. A pair of earrings and a necklace. Some sparkle. I love a bit of sparkle. Oddly for someone so un-girly. We recently went to the V&A in London just to do the jewellery section. It was darkly lit with everything on black velvet and looked simply stunning. Although come to think of it my retinas did hurt a bit then too…

I put the earrings in. This took longer than it should as the holes have partly closed up as I haven’t worn such adornment since around  2004 (or blank blank blank blank as my duff keyboard would have it). Which does, not unco-incidentally, co-incide with the birth of Eldest.

Not one of my children liked the earrings. It is just the shock I think. They will come round. My new hair cut (which my mother does not appear to have noticed, or if she has noticed she does not approve of enough to say anything, either is worrying) apparently calls out for earrings according to my good friend. And maybe, judging by today’s gift, silently husband.

Just so you know I have now found the Save button. But not the Review button. I shall keep going and also keep you posted. But hopefully not this entry. It is too soon for it to be posted. As I haven’t reviewed it yet. I digress.

All this anniversary guff meant we were behind schedule. The kids gasped at the clock. Corners were cut. It is likely Eldest will have to swim in Speedos out of the Lost Property basket. Is there any fate worse?

I shouted instructions through the open window of my friend’s car as she pulled out of our drive. ‘Find out your cello lesson’, ‘Don’t forget to find your snack pot’, ‘Get out quick tonight so I can get to my meeting’, ‘Please remind me you need hike boots for Cubs’, ‘For god sake do not let me forget piano again’, ‘Eat a hot school lunch it is only packed tea tonight’. Etc. Etc.

I retreated indoors to the carnage left from the morning and the relative peace. I retrieved that gift from under my bedside table and put it in the grubby Kitchen Diner where hopefully husband will see it when he returns from Cub pick up much much later tonight. I will find out if he likes it when I get in from my last meeting at circa 9.30pm. It does not have much sparkle. I do feel slightly out done gift wise. It is not as bad as on our first anniversary when he bought me a diamond eternity ring and I got him a….magazine subscription. In my defence the first anniversary is paper.

Somehow this post has got quite long and yet I have said hardly anything about the nature of marriage. Or have I?

15 years ago I walked up the aisle- well a corridor made by two sets of chairs we didn’t do the church thing- to start on this road of married life.

To begin with the road was a flower bordered bucolic path meandering through fields and by river banks. We idled along hand in hand taking in the view. Revelling in its beauties. We took long metaphoric picnic lunches and the sun shone.

Over time the road has changed beyond all recognition. It now feels more like a motorway whizzing along at breath taking speed. I do not know when this happened. When the route morphed from footpath to bridleway to A road to six lane monster.

At times it has felt like two parallel carriageways with far too few shared service stations . It can be full of pot holes and road works. Nearly constantly it is crowded by other travellers getting in the way and driving recklessly with no regard for the rules. I am not always a good driver. I go too fast or do not look in the mirror enough. I get road rage and shout at the sat nav. Sometimes I know where this road is headed but often I need a map.

But at the heart of it all there is that other person racing along too. Providing solidarity. And earrings.

Glad its you Andy.






My sofa — September 27, 2015

My sofa


I have mentioned my ‘irrational’ attachment to inanimate objects before, please see my entry My House if you feel the need for further enlightenment.

Recently a bone of contention Chez Here has been our sofa.

My husband wants us to get rid of the sofa. His reasons are purely aesthetic. It is old and knackered. To be honest it is probably beyond even shabby chic. And he would like to replace it with a smarter, newer model. Which makes me slightly trepidatious for the future…

I, for apparently totally illogical reasons, do not. Want to get rid of our sofa. I did part with the two armchairs which went with the sofa. And swapped them for two trendier, Scandinavian inspired, easier to get out of numbers. I liked my old chairs which I could curl up in. And they had great padded arms for sticking pins into when sewing. But I parted with them. They wouldn’t really have fitted in the Family Room anyway. The charity that came to collect them were very pleased. And so I have high hopes for their onwards adoption.

The sofa, however, presents me with even more issues.

It, along with those chairs, was the first piece of furniture my husband and I bought together. At the time, not that long married and having just upsized to our second house together, it was a large expense. And I still remember the thrill of that purchase. And waiting eagerly for it to arrive. Freshly Scotchguarded.  That decision to Scotchguard or not seemed to confirm my arrival in the adult world.

It was quite a daring purchase as the pattern was quite busy. And it was in a different fabric to the chairs. Yet we were living in a very bland house (my husband picked it- it was an ex show home on a newish estate and I dubbed it Beige Hell from the outset) and it fitted in perfectly. Adding colour and interest to the otherwise boring living room. When we moved down here we picked our new carpet to go with it.

I have always found it extremely comfortable. Apparently all my relatives find it terribly uncomfortable. And hard to get out of. I, on the other hand, like to curl my legs up and sit in the corner and it is perfect for that. And you can balance a cup of tea on the arm. When I am sitting upon it I feel enclosed and hugged in the best possible way. It does eat remote controls but I can forgive it for that.

My husband and I have our own ‘ends’. It is easy to sleep on which I found very useful in late pregnancy, in the early days with newborns and when I had pneumonia and couldn’t stop coughing and had to decamp downstairs. To avoid my husband getting no sleep either.

It is big enough for all of us to sit on. I have spent many, many happy hours snuggled with my offspring watching TV. From In the Night Garden to Horrid Henry to Strictly Come Dancing to Bake Off to Top Gear (yes really, not sure why) to Harry Potter, through every Disney film ever made (well maybe not but you get the gist).

I gave birth to Youngest on it. In the best and obviously last of my three birth experiences.

All my children have pulled themselves up to standing for the first time on it. Vomited on it. Wee’d on it. One has even poo’ed on it. Hmmm I may be re-thinking. And incidentally that extra fifty quid on the Scotchguarding was sooo worth it.

My kids jump on it. And sit on the arms. And eat on it. And, since our move, launch themselves over the back. Which is now available for launching over due to its position in our new house. And because it is so old we don’t worry too much. I think every home should have a piece of blobbing, slobbing furniture that no one worries about. That is poorly Middlest up there…slobbing…

So yes it is old. And slightly ripped. But I love it. For all sorts of reasons.

I need time to get over that. Before we go all Scandi…

%d bloggers like this: