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Friday, 2 September 2011


I am leaving this blog in abeyance.

Partly because Blogger keeps playing up so that people can't leave feedback and the appearance keeps going gloomy.

Plus I am making a fresh start in life and you can read more should you wish over at

Hope you like it and that if you follow me here, you will now follow me there but more importantly read me as I think I might need some cyberfriends as I move forwards.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful - Please link up

This feels like a very momentous post as I have the honour of hosting the most fabulous blog hop Reasons To Be Cheerful this week. For the unitiated, this a weekly hop where bloggers can celebrate the positives in their week. So it's time to shout out about your good news and joyful moments on your blog, link up and meet some other very lovely bloggers in the process. I can't rave enough about this blog hop. As someone who is too often at the mercy of negative self-talk, having a focus once a week to celebrate the great things does me the power of good. It is fabulous on the good weeks but even more useful sometimes on the challenging weeks where you realise there is always a little light even at the saddest of times. So what is giving me reason to smile this week. 1. My son is going on his first holiday without his family. Who am I kidding? I am just hoping he settles with his friend's family, that he feels able to deal with things and that he is happy to return home at the end of it. Not much cheerful about those elements but, on the other hand, how great that he is growing up and liked by other people. I have ironed and packed his clothing and he is ready to go. Wish him luck and wish me more. How I will get through the next 4 days without him ... 2. I found school pumps in the correct sizes in the supermarket, I have acquired enough uniform for son number 1, son number 2 is sorted from last year really and my daughter will benefit from the £15 Tesco voucher I won today towards Back to School gear. 3. My daughter is starting to sleep in her own bed much more and this is a huge leap as she has, until now, usually crept into my bed at some point. This does not bode well for marital reasons so if she carries on using her own bed, who knows what Reasons to be Cheerful I will have next week lol.
I usually do really long lists but am keeping it brief this week trying to be the hostess with the mostest. Ready, steady, go! Whether you have done Reasons to be Cheerful before or you are a newbie, you are equally welcome so let's smile, write down our good stuff and share some blog love. It really is very simple but hugely powerful and life-affirming too so give it a go. As Del Boy would say, go on, you know it makes sense. Next week, the wonderful Bod for Tea will be hosting Reasons to be Cheerful. It is quite nerve-wracking hosting such a well-respected and loved blog hop so please do support Bod for Tea next Big thanks to Michelle at Mummy from the Heart for trusting me with this blog hosting.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Gallery - Animals

I have done as Tara encouraged and thought outside the box for this week's theme of animals.

I have 3 children and we talk quite regularly about their Chinese Horoscope animal signs.

I have a rooster, a dragon and a monkey. But how can we work out which is which?

Here are images along with descriptions from the Chinese Horoscopes.

Who's who?

They love to be the focus of attention, showing scant regard for the feelings of others and as a result they are often susceptible to flattery and sycophancy. Other personality traits include: vigilance, decisiveness, straightforwardness and accuracy. They have a love of debate and dispute, but can also be very critical and forthright. Roosters tend not to be very creative or adaptable, but still like to be noticed and especially to be given awards.

Although energetic they are liable to become obsessive. On the plus side they seldom hold grudges and are generally quick to forgive. Dragons are said to be able to accomplish great things and those born in this year are also said to represent the horns of destiny. Needing a cause for which to fight, Dragons will never merely stand back and accept their fate or what life brings.

People born under the year of the Monkey tend to be generally good at " mastering anything" they put their hands to, they are also successful. This is possibly due to a combination of personality traits including: charm, cleverness, quit wittedness and their love of a challenge. They are also crafty, competitive, envious and have a flexible character. At times they are capable of great dishonesty, they can be both self-centered and narcissistic and can often have a superiority complex, believing themselves to be above others.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Magpie Monday

Joining in with another favourite blog hop, Magpie Monday, where we celebrate bargain finds.

I don't often buy from Ebay although once you go on there, you realise that it provides a whole new treasure trove of lovelies to lust after.

I went on looking for a table and chairs so that we can do that perfect family bit where you sit down and talk over dinner. I saw a lovely maghogany one with chairs and saw it steadily increase in bids until it was more than I wanted to pay. Narked but not for long because one that was the same but with a tiny picture came up the next day. I was the only person to bid on it. Was it the little picture or was it the fact that it only had 5 chairs that held it back. I don't mind as we only have 5 regularly eating here together so it is perfect for us.

We reckon it is about 40 years old. I love it because it is great condition but not perfect so I don't have to badger the children if they damage it. It comes with a cover to protect the surface so we keep that on most of the time. Him Indoors loves it because it has one carver so he can sit in it and pretend he is in charge of us all. The children love it because we do the family together meals and also because it just tempts you into getting a board game out to play too. Another reason to love it is that I got the whole lot for a tenner!

The table sits on a rug acquired for £15 via Netmums Nearly New Boards.

And finally, if you can bear it scroll down to "The Happy Couple" post below where you will see me in other Ebay finds on my wedding day.

Now go forth and see other lovely bargains from some very lovely ladies.

The Happy Couple

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Reasons To Be Grateful

Joining in with the wonderful blog hop organised weekly by the Maxabella Loves blog where we say what we are grateful for.

1. I am grateful for cupcakes. My daughter and I tried out the most wonderful Greens packet mixes today for cupcakes and they were yummy. I so love baking with the children.

2. I am grateful for getting out of the house more even if the weather is wet and yucky. We had fish and chips in the car last night parked up as the rain poured down but we had fun. Well, Him Indoors had less fun as he stood for 40 minutes in the rain waiting for the fish to be cooked to order.

3. I am grateful for the ability to laugh even when things are not perfect.

Now, if you would like to make blogger friends from far-flung places, get yourself across to Maxabella Loves and check out some very appreciative bloggers.

Seem to be having trouble with the badge thing this week but Maxabella and her community of lovelies are here

Friday, 26 August 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful

My very favourite blog hop this week hosted by the lovely Seasider in the City.

1. My husband is cheerful about time off work for the Bank Holiday weekend.

2. My daugher is cheerful about sticking her tongue out (but is now panicking and saying she was only joking).

3. My son is cheerful because his mummy loves him (this honestly was not prompted by me)

4. My other son is cheerful because he is with his Mummy (also not prompted)

5. I am cheerful that even though my brother did not go on holiday last weekend as we hoped, he did spend a lot of time away from here. When he is not here, I feel less got at, judged, name-called etc. So a big reason to be cheerful.

6. I am cheerful that a new tenancy has been offered to us. Appears our escape to the country can continue for another year after all.

Will that do?

Now check out some superb reasons from other lovelies.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Gallery - World Photography Day

I do care about the environment but sometimes when I consider all the rules and regulations around bins, bin days and recycling ....

I end up thinking "What a load of rubbish!"

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Friday, 19 August 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful

I am linking up to one of my favourite weekly blog hops so that I can celebrate the positives in this corner of the universe.

1. We have a new car and it works. Have had serious worries about the old one and when it failed its MOT, we realised we had to face facts and purchase a new one. So we now are taking every excuse to go out in our new (to us!) Renault Megane Scenic.
The downside is that I keep looking for the wrong car in car parks.

2. I got into serious self-loathing mode about my looks and weight yesterday. Twitter provided brilliant support and made me realise I am not the only one who has days where they can't bear to look in the mirror. I also read some inspirational stories from mums who have turned their lives around and that gives me hope. With a little commitment and effort, I may yet be a babe by 50.

3. I have just bought a new carpet in the Carpet Right sale. This is not a sponsored post before you get suspicious. It is just that I really appreciated the 66% off sale arriving just as I needed a new carpet.

4. My brother is out of the UK for a week.

Short but sweet this week. Now check out the other chirpy people in the blogosphere. If you blog, I strongly advise you to join in and make new blogger friends whilst thinking of the good things in your life right now. On the worst weeks, there are always little glimmers of good bits.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

The Gallery - Black and White

The Gallery theme this week is Black and White.

It was an easy choice for me this week although I apologise for the quality of the images used.

Black and white are the colours of my old college, Trinity Hall. I was always pleased that they were subtle colours and that we had a lovely crest with a crescent moon on it.

I remember going and getting my gown on the first day with my Mum and Dad. They insisted on buying me the college scarf too even though the tailors told us nobody ever really wore them. I think they were determined that I would not appear like the working-class pauper so I had everything. It was many years later before I realised this probably cost them dear.

I have spoken before about how much Trinity Hall means to me on this blog so I won't go on and on. I still love how you feel part of that special community and how you get magazines, invitations and Christmas cards from good ol' Tit Hall as students affectionately nickname it.

There is a lot of nonsense talked about Oxbridge. I have never felt so at home and welcomed into a place. Not before, not since. I have the privilege of still hearing from some of my peers including those that I did not have as close friends at the time. I think that says a lot for the place too.

Black and white also brings back memories of graduation day where we had to get all tarted up in black and white. Black gowns and white ermine don't you know? You see, once upon a time, I almost became posh!

I am the one with the big brown Eighties hair and the legs. My brother gave me a suit to wear that was decidedly short. This was a worry as it did not meet the dress code specified by college. All day, I was terrified that they would end up not letting me graduate for flashing too much leg. The lad behind me told me he thought when I knelt down to get my degree that the Chancellor was likely to have a coronary as a result.

Graduation Day was very bittersweet. Relief that I had got the degree but deep sadness at the thought of leaving college. That sense of loss has never totally left me to be honest.

Was it the sense of history, of learning or of community or the combination of all of them? Trinity Hall remains a very special place.

My parents commissioned one of their friends to paint Trinity Hall for me as I left. Here is that picture that follows me wherever I go and whatever I do.

I will take this opportunity to wish everyone who got A-Level results today a very positive day. If your results were not as you wished, take heart from the fact that loads of people prove that you do not need qualifications to make a success out of life.

I will also state that I think it is truly awful that young people have to panic about money so early these days. I had the fortune to go to college at a time of grants backed up by good parental support too.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Here are my Reasons to be Cheerful this week.

1. I think this is the most important one of all. Today, my children ran off to join their Dad in the park and as I strolled down the path towards them, I suddenly realised that I am a Mum and just how wonderful that is. Usually in the mix of juggling it all, I enjoy motherhood but don't really stop to reflect on just how amazing it is to have given birth, coped with all those milestones so far and being told every day that I am loved and to tell them that too. Advice to all Mums - stop, breathe and recognise just how blessed you are.

2. I am pleased that I have followed my heart and not rehomed my dog today.

3. I have found a lovely home for the last kitten.

4. I am pleased that I am informed enough with real facts to be able to analyse the current crisis regarding public disorder in the UK. I will be blogging my views shortly.

5. I am happy that my Dad can take all his multiple health threats in his stride and carry on smiling. He is a true inspiration. I am also grateful to him for appreciating all that I do, maybe haphazardly or inadequately, but with good intent.
He is always telling me to make time for me, do less housework etc.

6. I am pleased that after a week of ill health I feel much better. I am also delighted that the pain has given me the impetus to give up on booze and start eating healthily. I doubt I will be teetotal but it feels great to say "No thanks" when drink is offered to me.

Loads more I feel but that will do nicely for now.

Thanks again to all the lovelies who have supported me particularly through all the hassle with my so-called brother. I have things in much better perspective now and am determined to live my life my way. As one of the 7 dwarves says on that documentary, if you don't like it, jog on.

See you next week if not before.

Now check out some very lovely people blog hopping cheerily over at

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Friday, 5 August 2011

More Reasons To Be Cheerful

I am on the cusp of being very cheerful indeed. Not quite there yet after a stressful few weeks but definitely can feel that the good times are coming. Some are even here already so here goes.

1. My brother is not in the building tonight. This means that we will be far more relaxed and feel OK being us rather than watch him looking at us as if we have crawled out of the proverbial cheese. We may celebrate with takeaways and a tipple plus treats for the children.

2. Although we were desperately sad to rehome one of our dogs last week, we are pleased he has found a happy home with a really lovely family. We have had this dog since he was born so we miss him heaps but had to let him go as we caved into pressure from brother dearest. The family are not too far away and say we can go and see the dog whenever we like.

3. The school holidays are wonderful in terms of long lie-ins, fun, games, activities and just being together as a strong family unit who can take on the world (and my brother lol).

4. As well as steam-cleaning the house this week like a good and meek little woman, I was also able to use my brain and I hope assist some truly inspirational women. Made me remember that once upon a time I had a fair few dazzling careers, to recall that I have a second-to-none education and that I have kicked ass more than once and can do it again.

5. I had a little talk with my Dad where I explained that I refused to be bullied by either of my brothers anymore and that if they disapprove of the way I live my life, all they have to do is look elsewhere and leave me the hell alone. It felt very good to state my case to a man who seems able to love me whether the bloody kitchen floor is sparkling or not.

I need to keep in mind that I am 42 years old, I am loved, I have support and I have a right to be myself. I have run scared and that is stopping right now this minute.

Much of that inner belief is due to the wonderful support received from some very generous-spirited people. Thanks to those have reached out some of whom I have met and some who just empathise or seem to think that I am actually OK deep down. May karma or whatever higher power you believe in send you some truly wonderful things and soon.

Check out the other Chirpy People Out there

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Thursday, 4 August 2011

How Normal Am I?

Recently,I have had heaps of criticism from a certain quarter so I wanted to check with real people and mums in particular if I am vaguely normal or not. What do you think?

1. Until recently, I did not clean my kitchen floor every single day. Now I steam clean it every day.

2. I wash clothing almost every day if not every day some weeks

3. I like to have pictures, ornaments and children's artwork displayed in my home

4. I enjoy having pets and do not feel the children are threatened by having them

5. As my children can have lots of meals and snacks in a day, I sometimes save up the washing up and do it all in one go.

6. I don't think I am boring, not really or all the time anyway

7. I clean my toilet every day and think that is sufficient

8. I think there is more to life than housework

9. I resent the implication that it only my job to do housework when I live in a family with 4 adults and 3 children

10. I am a worm who is mightily tempted to turn and very soon too.

Seriously though, having being defined as filthy, how much housework should I do in a day? Happy to do it but would like to know what is normal and acceptable to real people and mums in particular.

I am a bit scared to do this post now as I might be hit with a load of criticism. I am happy to step up my game but don't want to be bullied by just one person.

Does that make sense?

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Magpie Monday On A Tuesday

Apologies for linking up late to the wonderful Liz's blog hop, Magpie Monday where we shout loudly about our bargain finds.

Me and My Shadow

In the last couple of weeks, my brother came to live with us and as well as calling me filthy and bemoaning my lack of quality housework, he complained about what he termed clutter.

I like to make a home and that involves quirky charity shop finds being on display along with my favourite artwork from my 3 children and so on. Apparently, this makes me something akin to the devil so it must go. The reality is that I have removed it and hidden it in the hope he will move out soon so that we can live as we like to.

Just to complete the picture, he thinks the fact that I have pets is a sure sign of child abuse on my part. He wants me to get rid of the animals and the first one was rehomed at the weekend.

Unsurprisingly, in this situation, there seemed little point popping along to the charity shop which as regular readers will know is one of my favourite weekend activities.

So this week, as well as requesting all fellow Magpies to take out a hit on my brother, I am sharing a story of how you can do a wedding on a budget.

I got married 3 years ago. I bought 6 dresses off Ebay as I did not fancy taking my size 20 frame for fittings and so on. By the day before the wedding I had still to decide between my favourite and one I knew my mum would approve of. On the morning of the wedding, the one I chose was the one my mum would like. It would not do up so in the end, I had to go with my choice. Ivory, strapless with embroidery and a stole for over my shoulders. I wore it for about 5 hours and then re-sold it on Ebay.

I also bought my shoes second-hand from Ebay and my lovely lingerie.

We had a very happy day and I think it was really helped by knowing we had done things on a realistic budget and not landed ourselves in debt.

I will try to upload a photograph of the day if people would like to see me in the finery.

I intend to get my own life back by September so the charity shops will be taking a hammering at that point.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Friday, 29 July 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful

I am struggling again for reasons to be cheerful this week but I know deep in my soul how important it is for me to take part in the wonderful Mich's blog hop from Mummy at the Heart.

1. I am cheerful for the counsel of wise women aged 7 to 42 years. Thanks ladies for all saying very different things but helping me see clearly through my current crisis.

2. I am grateful for laughter with my children and husband. Again, vital stress relief when times are hard.

3. I am happy to have pets to stroke. It looks like I have to rehome most if not all of them and this is very much not my choice. However, for now, they are sanity in a mad, mad world.

4. In the midst of a lot of worries, these things happened. Children climbed trees, country walks were taken, friendships were worked on and people reached out to me even when I did not say things were wrong.

5. I am cheerful that I have my intelligence that will help me work out very soon what to do for the best.

I recognise this post does not reveal my current crisis but that I am sure will be blogged about with great truth and humour in due course. For now, I need to keep my own counsel a little. Hope regular readers know in their hearts that I would not do that unless I felt under threat and that it was very necessary.

Wishing everyone a very happy week ahead.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful

A week ago, I got a telephone call telling me that my elderly father was very ill on his holidays in France. By Sunday, he was rushed home to us looking about 20 years older than when he had left. You know when you get that pain in the solar plexus when your emotions are too much? That is how I have felt for much of this week.

In the midst of all this, I did something so crass and stupid on Twitter offending someone I was at school with and her family and friends too. One of these friends is really important to me but it looks like that friendship is now blown and all through my own drunken tweet. This makes me very sad but I can't seem to put things right.

Then my brother who had come home to live here with us and my Dad had a go at me about my housekeeping standards. I won't lie. I struggle to keep on top of things with children and animals and a husband with a skin condition. I don't really need reminding of that or having it thrown at me as an insult.

I won't go on and on as this is supposed to be a reasons to be cheerful post. Those who want more can read my Dear So and So post below and then be very cheerful to leave this blog once and for all.

I am really struggling readers so bear with me.

1. I am cheerful that I have a husband who appears to manage to love me very much warts and all. We managed to laugh in the midst of such a stressful week. We have done so before when the shit hits the fan. Perhaps this proves we are a good match.
I take him for granted an awful lot and if anything good came out this week, it is a reminder of how he cares about me and backs me 100 per cent. He is still a bloke though and winds me up no end sometimes just in case regular readers think I am turning into a softy. Seriously though, we are a match and that makes me luckier than a lot of folks who have to face hard times alone.

2. When I kept bleating on about "What shall I do?" in my current situation, my son said "Do what you always do, Mum". When I asked him what that was, he said "Cope like you always do". I am still here after many challenges in life just like many others who read this. So I am cheerful I have a son who reminds me that I am stronger than I feel just now.

3. I am cheerful about having a step-daughter and friend. I always feel I can contact her and express my truest feelings. That is a great gift. In case you are wondering, I don't deserve this from her but I am mighty glad I have her in my life.

Next week will be better, right?

I am now going to go and indulge myself in some very cheerful posts.

Thanks goodness for Mummy from the Heart and all who sail in her marvellous #R2BC boat. I encourage everyone to take a look at this wonderful community of bloggers and perhaps to join in too.

Having problems with the badge for this blog hop but if you go to all will be revealed.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Dear So and So

Dear So and So

Dear So and So...

Can you remember when I explained this morning that I really needed a day to relax in? Don't you remember that in the last few days, bad news has hit in a big way. One half or full day to chill in and I could have pitched in and got jobs done with enthusiasm.

In a sleep-deprived and worried state, tackling things is not always easy. I think that makes me human not bad. This is where we differ.

So instead of doing my own thing today, I have had to work to your schedule doing housework that you say needs doing which I think could have waited. Not for ever, just till tomorrow.

In all this, nobody acknowledges that I worked for 4 hours when I got that telephone call saying you and Dad were returning here from holiday unexpectedly to make sure everything was nice. Nobody appears to see the deep worries that I have had and still have about Dad's health. Nobody has seen that for the last week or so I have had children off sick from school.

I am clearly not putting enough effort in.

Absolutely! I spend my life having facials and going to designer outlet stores. I have an army of helpers. Regular blog readers will know this.

Finally, you threaten to upset our current living arrangements totally resulting in insecurity and more worry not so much for me as for my children who you purport to care about.

Personally, I think it is time the worm turned.

An inadequate houseperson

Dear So and So

I made a mistake, a bad one. A drunken and negative tweet. I have apologised over and over to no avail. There really is nothing else I can do or if I can let me know.

Someone who should not go on Twitter in drink

Dear So and So

I went to Cambridge. It does not make me better or worse than anyone else. However, I cannot edit it out of my history. You know what, I actually don't want to. It was one of the most brilliant times in my life.

From Me

Dear So and So

Thanks for offering a glimmer of light in a really tough week. The future's bright and the worm is for turning.

The Real Me

Monday, 18 July 2011

Magpie Monday

It is Monday again which means that it is Magpie Monday but more importantly that I am still here and blogging after some truly awful days of worry and strain.

Me and My Shadow

My Dad telephoned on his birthday on 15th. I imagined that he was phoning so we could say "Happy Birthday" but it turned out he was reporting that he was ill. He was in France on the first part of his 5 week holiday. I was told not to worry. Now what do you do when people say not to worry? Go into total panic mode right?

The whole circumstances of the phone call were so like when my late Mum made that fateful telephone call in February 2009. Like then, Dad had waited to phone until he was sure my husband was home. Like then, my husband was delayed so I was alone as I took the call.

On the Saturday, we went to the Infant School Fair. I did not really feel like it but you have to keep going when you have children don't you? My husband had probably worked out that I was better off doing something than brooding.

We stopped at the toy stall and my son immediately saw a plastic rocket. I asked how much it was and was told "donations, whatever you want to pay". As it was for the school funds, I said £3 which I thought was reasonable. "If that's all you want to pay" said the stallholder huffily. I moved away after buying another plastic toy as I did not really like her attitude. If you don't come up with a price, how can you complain when someone makes an offer you don't like?

The book stall also proved challenging with a husband and wife team. The husband was keen for me to make offers but if you went when the wife was there she would quote extremely high prices. I went with my husband at which point the whole attitude changed and I picked up a Delia "How to Cook" book. To my regret, I left behind a load of vintage cookbooks such as "The Mixer Book", "The Freezer Book" and one all about different festivals. However, I did also pick up a Katie Fforde and the Claire Rayner autobiography.

Then it was onto the tombola as my daughter wanted to win a teddy bear. She does not agree that the thrill of the tombola is the randomness of the prize. She believes you just keep having a go till you get what you want. So on the quest for the teddy, we also picked up a necklace and bangles set, body moisturizer and some Marks and Spencer pot pourri.

I intended to do the charity shop as usual on Saturdays but something told me to go home. This was good as when we arrived we took a phone call saying Dad was rushing home from France to access British healthcare.

In a way I feel guilty for going out at all but at least we banked some happy hours before Dad came hope and it became action stations.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Friday, 15 July 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Here are this week's reasons for chirpiness.

1. My oldest son got a really good report. He was described as an expressive reader, an exceptional mathematician and an erudite historian. He is secondary school standard and well into secondary school at that at the mere age of 10. Perhaps our greatest thrill was that after 6 years of struggles, his handwriting is finally meeting targets set. That is one simple sentence that masks lots of sleepless nights, tearing my hair out and panicking about his future. Hence, I am one cheerful Mama this week.

2. Of course, life is not all about the official records of what we are good at. I found a thing his classmates had done for him. It described him as kind, funny, nice, smart, very clever and always willing to have a go.

3. Imagine my surprise this morning when I got a communication fromm the Open University this morning. He has signed up saying he wants to do a course already. Think we will spend the Summer chilling as think he may be driving himself a little too hard lol.

4. Finally, I just won £100 worth of toys. That will be a lovely suprise when the bundle arrives for my little ones.

I would encourage everyone to join in with Mummy from the Heart's blog hop at for a healthy dose of positivity. You can read, comment or write a blog post all of your own.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

20 Mummy Memories

I am linking up with the wonderful new meme called Little Legacies.

This post really need to be read together with my post from yesterday to get the full meaning of how it fits with Little Legacies.

Here are 20 memories

1. Crunching through Autumn Leaves

2. You and Dad organising a dance at the Parochial Hall

3. Sitting on your knee

4. Telling you I had started my period

5. Pub meals at the Flouch

6. You visiting my newborn son and noticing how alert he was even then

7. Tomato soup in brown bowls at Christmas

8. Coffee mornings - chats, raffles

9. Telling you there was an outside chance I could get into Cambridge

10. Benjy, Paddy, Monty and other pets

11. Gardening and busy lizzies

12. Making Yorkshire puddings

13. You bursting into tears when I got into Cambridge

14. Lovely Christmases and our own places for presents in age order

15. Introducing you to my red-cheeked newborn daughter

16. Your love of history

17, Palmolive soap

18. Cheese and biscuit suppers when Dad went out

19. Turkish Delight

20. Telling you about baby number 3

Here are 20 special memories of my late mum.

I think they define an era and show how you don't need a lot of money to make a child happy

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

What Makes A Good Mum? It's Quite A Journey

Here are some travel memories of times spent with my late Mum. I wrote them down in a pretty pink book for her 80th birthday and found that book last week so thought I would share on my blog just in case the book ends up getting damaged.

1. Listening to a violinist in a church in a French village
2. Cointreau on Ice
3. Listening to her sing "Bye Bye Blackbird" and other songs in the car
4. Jumping in and out of waves in Spain
5. Bingo at tthe caravan in Hornsea
6. Big langoustines in a Loire hotel
7. Mildred catching us dancing crazily at the caravan
8. Brandied coffee at Haworth
9 A Day off from Life in Ilkley
10. Holidays in Northumbria especially the stable block and trying to get Top of the Pops on the Radio
11. Running clothed into the sea at Bridlington
12. Days Out all the time - my friends were jealous that all of our weekends were like holidays
13. A Dog and Rabbit jumping over me as I crouched in heather at Haworth
14. Getting "posh" for Glyndebourne visits and having our photographs taken
15. Christmas walks in Hyde Park
16. Croques Monsieurs and Madames
17. Really hot holidays in Devon in the mid-Seventies
18. Sitting on a bench around a tree at a pub in Cornwall I think
19. Pendle and witches
20. Feeding birds in Ravenscourt Park

What strikes me about these memories is that most of them did not involve spending much money at all. They involved walking, feeding animals, story-telling, laughter, music, dancing and family fun.

Perhaps that tells us a lot about what makes a good mother. It is all in the making of memories.

There are 60 other memories in the little pink book. Maybe I should get them blogged too for posterity?

Monday, 11 July 2011

Magpie Monday - Bargains Found This Week

I am joining in with Magpie Monday, one of my favourite blog hops organised by the lovely Liz over at the Me and My Shadow Blog.

Me and My Shadow

So what bargains have I picked up this week?

This weekend, I missed out on my charity shop visits. This was partly because I was busy decluttering and getting stuff ready to donate to the charity shops instead.

However, as usual, I had a daily peek at all the lovely bargains over on the Netmums Nearly New Boards.

Regular readers will know I do not tend to buy glass but Him Indoors will bleat on about our lack of glasses. A woman on Netmums was giving away some glasses and also two cocktail shakers, one Martini and one Baileys.

Regular readers will also know that I have a thing about both cocktails and Baileys so I could not resist these. All I had to do was to promote the pick-up as wine glasses to Him Indoors and my mission was complete.

Him Indoors reckons I choose the most quirky (not the word he uses but not going to offend Netmums friends) women to buy from. He was a little put out that he had to wrap the glasses himself on arrival. I did point out to him that they were free so he should be happy and a radiant free spirit about it all.

My favourite glasses were the little shot glasses in different colours.

My Dad said I was going all posh with the Martini glasses and needed a cigarette holder to complete the glamorous image.

I have never smoked but I do have a thing about cigarette holders so must keep an eye out for one or get my fellow Magpies to do so.

Now as my haul this week was so limited and free at that, here are some of my late Mum's finds from her bargain-hunting days. Will probably post a couple each week for your delectation and would love to know what you think of her taste and mine.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Silent Sunday

Reasons to be Grateful

I am joining in with Maxabella Love's blog hop this week. She asks us to reflect on what we are grateful for.

1. I am grateful for my long lie-in this morning. Since having children, I find I walk around in a constantly sleep-deprived state. True, I am out of the babies stage of parenting and part of the problem is that I have always needed a lot of sleep, but lie-ins are a luxury these days. I am grateful for snoozing into mid-morning, having a cuppa delivered by my lovely husband and feeling those lovely cotton sheets on my skin.

2. I am grateful that my elderly Dad is fit enough to go on holiday to the South of France for 5 weeks. He set off today with my husband dropping him off at the station for the start of his journey. Since my Mum died, Dad has amazed us all with his capacity to carry on and I hope this continues for a long time yet.

3. I am grateful for new levels of motivation which seem to be driving me forwards in my life. Often in little ways like filling in forms or doing housework well but it helps me feel more on top of things and I am grateful for that.

4. I am also very grateful for Maxabella's blog post this week which speaks absolute sense to me so please do visit her and take a look. In a week where the mummy blogging world has being tainted by in-fighting, I thank Maxabella for unwittingly saying something very relevant to the whole situation.

Click on the badge/button above and find a lot of very grateful bloggers many of whom live in other countries so a useful tool for turning your blog into an international sensation lol

Friday, 8 July 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful - Week 27

Here are some of my reasons to be cheerful this week.

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

1. I am making real progress in decluttering the house. Four big sacks of stuff has gone off to the charity shop today. There is lots more to do but I can now see the benefits particularly when it comes to tidying up the children's rooms. I have spent months thinking it would be the ultimate in child cruelty to get rid of their toys and in reality, they are not bothered at all.

2. I had an unexpected windfall when I sold some jewellery that I did not wear. I was expecting very little to be honest so it was really nice to get hundreds of pounds.

3. The land is showing signs of progress too. We have a new machine to help clear nettles. Also the experienced farmer next door keeps popping over without us knowing and clearing loads of stuff for us. To be honest, we do need the help and I feel better if the land is kept in a reasonable state.

4. I am feeling better health-wise after 2 weeks of feeling dreadful.

5. I managed an adequate mummy moment yesterday when I baked for a school event. Pink cupcakes with letters on the top in icing to match the names of the children in the class.

6. Two of my kittens went to a lovely elderly couple this week and you could just tell that they will be very much loved. Two left but one is promised to someone and I could be persuaded to keep the lovely black and white one.

7. Finally, I let my son have the day off school on sports day. He hates it and it is just not worth him going through all that mental torment. I feel cheerful that I saved him the horror he went through last year. To read about that, please visit my Sadism of Sports Day post here

Pop over to the lovely Mummy from the Heart blog for more very cheerful things.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The Gallery - Grandparents

I asked my son to talk about his grandparents.

Paternal Grandad - I don't know much about my Grandad as he died before I was born. I know he had heart problems. He was a miner and lived in the same town all his life.

Paternal Grandma - Again, she died before I was born and I know very little about her as Dad does not talk about her much at all.

Maternal Grandad - He is always kind. He always shares out his things like his biscuits, crisps and his love. He always wakes up early in the morning. When I used to go to his house for the weekend, I would help him lay the real fire. He worked in the Navy as a parachute repairer. He was a policeman too and I thought he was in the fire brigade too but Mum says I got that bit wrong. Grandad likes to read newspapers, books and to do crosswords and puzzles. I don't think Grandad is keen on chocolate but I think he likes creamy things. He likes drinking something called HobGoblin. Grandad never seems to tell me off.

Maternal Grandma - She usually had a lot of spare time for me. She died when I was 8 years old. Grandma used to take me out to the coast and the countryside. She owned a caravan so we used to stay there sometimes. Grandma had time to play with me more than my parents. I loved her lots. She used to make me laugh a lot and give me kisses and cuddles. She was a good cook and made great pancakes but I did not like her Yorkshire puddings. I can't remember her ever telling me off. I still miss her a lot.

My reflections on this are as follows.

I think my husband or his family need to share stories of my children's paternal grandparents with them. This is important so that they understand all aspects of their heritage.

What my son does not remember is how his grandparents did a lot of his day-to-day babycare so that I could go back to work when he was 6 weeks old. They did this even though they were in their seventies and moved from their hometown so they could do so uprooting themselves from family and friends. They used to take him to so many places and introduced him to different foods. My son's first word was "Rover" because Grandad drove a Rover car.

He does not remember that it was Grandad who patiently taught him how to clap when we all lost patience. I always know that throughout life everytime I see my son clap, my Dad will be with me.

He does not remember that his first night away from me was spent with his grandparents whilst I was giving birth to his little sister. Nor how he climbed into bed with them in the early hours of the morning to sing nursery rhymes.

As he got older, he would go for weekends with them which was important as when the other two children arrived, I think he missed having that sole attention from myself and my husband.

When my mum became terminally ill, she decided after 8 weeks that she did not want to see my children anymore. She said she wanted them to remember the fun times they had together and not to remember her as a frail and ill lady. I found this very tough to take as did my Dad, my husband and my children. However, I had promised that her journey towards her death should be done her way so I had to stick to that. Just before she died, she did think about seeing them again but it never happened.

My son was born 50 years after Mum and Dad got married and he was their first grandchild. He was the glue that put us back together again as we were not speaking when I became pregnant with him.

Mum said on the first day that she held my son, that she could now die happy. They had 8 lovely years together before that happened. I hope we have many more years left with my Dad who teaches my children so much about life.

So, my children just have one grandparent left and here he is with mum on their wedding day.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Magpie Monday

I am joining in with one of my favourite blog hops again. The wonderful Magpie Monday where we celebrate bargains.

It is Agricultural and Country Show season. Yesterday, we attended our local show as Very Important Persons. What this actually meant was that we paid extra for our tickets but ended up saving a small fortune as all our food and drink was included. We also had a dedicated marquee to relax in and a little champers too.

I had purposely stayed away from the charity shop on Saturday knowing there would be bargains to be had at the show.

I actively sought out the charity and community stalls. My local charity shop had a stall where the children won every time and could select a soft toy of their choice. My little girl chose a penguin whereas my little boy chose a dragon.

I approached what looked like a tombola stall but you could choose whether to pay £1 or £2 for the tickets. The £2 side of the stall had the better prizes so I went for those. I was a bit confused as it was not the usual "must end in a nought or a five to win". It turned out that you got a prize every day. I walked off with a tin of Fox's Biscuits and a very clever thing that I am sure I will make use of on my weekends away now that I am actually released from domestic drudgery every 4 months of so.

It is compact but can be hung up and has lots of dinky compartments for all manner of toiletries and the like.

I was disappointed that when I enquired at the dog sanctuary stall about regular giving that they struggled to give me an answer. Surely if you are going to have a stall you need to be ready for questions like that.

As we passed a Pre-School Fundraising Stall at the end of the afternoon, we were told there were only 5 minutes left to buy raffle tickets. Well, I remembered that my old Jobcentre trainees used to tell me "You have to be in it to win it" so we got some tickets.

We stuck around to find out if we had won and got the second prize. It was a great bargain for a £1 investment.

Charity-shop wise this week, I am focussing on having a huge clear out and am boxing and bagging up all manner of things. I may go for the minimalist look. What do you think?

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Friday, 1 July 2011

21 facts about me 21 years ago on Graduation Day

It is 21 years since I graduated from university this week.

Here are 21 facts about me then.

1. I had the shortest skirt out of all the students graduating

2. I did not want to leave university

3. I was about a size 10 and thought I was fat

4. My drink of choice was bacardi and coke

5. I thought I was in love

6. I knew I did not want to be a lawyer but did not know how to tell my parents

7. I was very into women's issues

8. I did not wear high heels and was usually in ankle boots

9. My favourite bands included the Pet Shop Boys and the Eurythmics

10. I had low days when I would hide away from people

11. I had no faith that I would get a boyfriend ever

12. I did not expect to have children either

13. My favourite outfit was a crimson ra ra skirt and crimson jacket worn with underwear as my top

14. I wore a Swatch

15. I had big Eighties hair

16. I was a virgin

17. I did not smoke or do drugs

18. I was quite interested in New Age type issues

19. My mum had fallen out with me

20. I was good at keeping my room tidy

21. I was not destined to marry Daniel Craig (yes ladies, someone from my college did last week)

Reasons To Be Cheerful

Apparently, we are now 6 months into the wonderful Reasons to be Cheerful blog hop established by the wonderful Michelle over at the Mummy from the Heart blog.

What a lot of lovely things this new community of bloggers has celebrated from the mind-blowingly superb to the more mundane pleasures. Many of us have also experienced bad weeks where the focus of Reasons to be Cheerful has really helped us smile despite the rubbishy stuff. I would encourage bloggers to take part and see just what this simple blog hop can do for your week and your attitude to life.

So what can I share with you this week?

1. I am on the mend. I have had the most awful bug all week but it is going away. Slowly but I do feel up to going out today for my Friday fish and chips with my Dad so I am clearly on the up.

2. I had a non-Cybermummy weekend full of baking, camping and family fun. I was worried I would really resent not being at Cybermummy but had a great weekend after all.

3. I have had some really good evenings with my husband. All too often, evenings are all about getting dinner sorted, bathing children, getting uniforms ready and so on. Somehow, this week we have got a bit of our coupley groove back.

4. My children have finally accepted that six zillion toys in their bedroom is a little excessive. They helped me choose things that they were willing to see go to the toy stall at the Summer Fair or the charity shop. We filled 3 huge plastic crates and I think housework will be way easier as a result.

5. I am sure I will have mentioned my Dad as a reason to be cheerful before. He is so lovely though so here I go again. He helps us out in so many ways whether with wisdom, humour or financially. In the middle of this post, the washing machine flooded the kitchen and Dad was there to help me clear it up and to laugh our way through it. Much better than when I spent my days alone and such incidents could send me on a downward spiral emotionally.

6. This week marked 21 years since I graduated. I have posted a little about this in the post below. I remember a sunny day full of happiness and young people launching themselves into the real world with bags of potential. There were family members there who are no longer with me, friends that I am no longer in touch with but as my late Mum told me, they can never take away your memories. It was a very special college, a wonderful university and quite possibly the most magical three years of my life. Strawberries, crisp white tablecloths in the Fellow's Garden, meeting my friend's family members particularly the lovely Laings and Godfreys, making plans, trying to forget Graduation Day means the fun and games of university life are drawing to a close. I remember someone asking me what my hobbies were and when I struggled to respond, my friend Paula said "Her hobby is sexual fantasies". That same friend is now a nun in an enclosed order. I swear you could not write this stuff as fiction! I was invited to spend a year in France which to my regret, I did not take up. I did take up the offer of a holiday in Ireland and have sweet memories of that time. I think this is turning into a blog post all of its own so will leave for another day.

So here's to good health, family fun, romance, giving, laughter and memories.

Now do go and check out other people's entries or maybe write one all of your own.

I am linking up to Maxabella Loves Blog Hop too. She really loves bloggers and we really rate her too.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The Gallery - My Weekend - Are they ready yet?

I love this photograph taken whilst baking with my children this weekend. They do say that anticipation is a pleasure all of its own. I also like how the back of the oven is acting as a mirror. Plus with me as a blogger, there had to be a day when I posted something half-baked lol.

I don't think I have ever seen my boisterous boy so still and with one focus before.

Apologies for the stain on the work surface but it was impossible to wipe up in the midst of a mega baking session as these little ovens get very hot indeed.

Of course, it is not all about the looking forward to eating buns.

And finally, if you are into baking or wanting to get into it, check out the Celebrating Mums Carnival on Baking over at

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Do You Have Bad Credit?

If you have bad credit, please check out this information.

Hope it helps.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Gallery - Three Words - Things to Do

The Gallery's theme this week is "Three Words". How about "Things to Do"?

I have to get my CRB form into school and have my identity documents checked so that I can start volunteering in school. I have no problems with the check but does the form have to be so stupidly rigid in how you fill it in. Second attempt is fine so need to work out the best time to go into school now and move this forward. I have also signed up for a course on Helping out in Schools after really enjoying a morning with my son and his friends at school earlier this year.

I really must send off for a provisional driving licence. Everyone keeps telling me driving will transform my life and hey, it really does need to change quite a lot.

Like most parents, I have to tackle the tedious but has to be done tax credits form.

I have a volunteering from to complete in my attempt to become a charity shop worker. Sneakily hoping I get to see the best stuff first as well as helping a very good cause and meeting new people.

I also need to put some serious thought into our family holiday and maybe an extra little break too.

So lots of Things To Do but first for lunch and a little bit of Wimbledon. Every Wimbledon Fortnight, my late mum used to down tools. She was a very traditional housewife and mum but did pretty much nothing when the tennis was on. I am not quite that bad, honest!

Do check out some fabulous entries over at the Gallery.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Magpie Monday

I am a great fan of bargain-hunting and a great source of money-saving finds is the Netmums Nearly New Board. There is one for each locality and if you ask me, you would be daft not to check them out and regularly too.

I have decided to get fit, well fitter anyway. This may well be a flash in the pan but I am hoping not. Partly to persuade myself to actually stick with it, I have bought a Wii bundle this week. It is the Wii itself, plus the balance board thingy, Wii Fit and a load of family games too. £120 and to be honest I don't care if that is a bargain or not. Someone was selling what I wanted all in one place so I got it.

Of course, I can only use the Wii Fit when my boys get off the thing.

Next wonderful finds were two Monsoon dresses and accessories for my little girl.

She wore one to a birthday party on Saturday and I am sure they will come out time and time again.

Of course, every princess deserves her own red carpet so we bought her one again from the Netmums boards.

Finally, in an attempt to keep our unexpected kittens under some control, I bought a travel cot. The one obvious thing I had forgotten about cats is that they can jump and climb. So the only time the kittens go in their travel cot is at feeding time.

P.S I have decided to get rid of a few things and will post them on here for fellow Magpies. If you like them, contact me and either offer me some dosh or ask for it for free whatever you prefer. With a family holiday to fund, obviously the things will got to highest bidder or to my very fave Magpies.

Here are the first two things. There will be lots of pottery, retro stuff, jewellery and other stuff coming soon.

Orange glass bowl thing. No damage at all.

Little trinket box or use it for what you will. Blue/gold/white/pink and not marked as far as I can see. No damage at all.

You can email me on or leave a comment here.

Meanwhile, do go and spread some blogger love to these wonderful Magpies with their hauls from this week.

Me and My Shadow