Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Family holidays - at large without a capsule wardrobe

Pan-icking about our holiday
Was a time when my holiday packing might have resembled something from a magazine. You know - the top that goes from beach to bar and you tart it up by knotting your sarong in a different way and using your sunglasses as a necklace, or something. 

Once, in 45 years have I gone from beach to bar by simply re-knotting a sarong. Sigh. It was a very, sigh long time ago in St Bart's. Sigh. I still have the sarong but I can no longer put it around myself twice to make a skirt. 

My old list might have been something like this. Although I wouldn't have needed a list as my memory still functioned fairly well and I'd be able to pack without being interrupted by someone else's bowel movement.

Old list: 

  • Sarong and matching cossie, 
  • Bikinis and matching shorts (shorts must have pocket big enough for passport because you never know the minute.)
  • Pants (small)
  • Toothbrush
  • Sunglasses (for posing behind)
  • Hangover cure.
  • Sunglasses for posing behind.
  • Sports kit (full ocean sailing gear or ski-ing stuff, depending)
  • Notebook for pretending to record meaningful thoughts

Things have changed somewhat, we're heading off on holiday before long and my list runs to several pages. However, the essential bits looks something like this:

  • Capacious and comfy cossie.
  • T-shirts and shorts (knee covering)
  • Pants (comfy)
  • Change of clothes (other peoples, because you never know the minute)
  • Toothbrush
  • Sunglasses (for hiding from children behind)
  • Wet wipes (many)
  • Biscuits (for emergencies)
  • Audio books, DVDs, gadget chargers (for other people's entertainment)
  • Electronic notebook for pretending to record meaningful thoughts. 
  • Sports kit (other people's - cricket ball and bat, football and tennis)

Did I forget anything?

Review: Ben and Holly's Little Castle Magical Playset

King Thistle does not want a bath

Ben Elf and Gaston up to mischief in the throne room. 

Queen Thistle and Nanny Plum wonder if they can't magic up some household help.

The Castle opened out. 
Boy Three is something of a Ben and Holly fan. In fact, on any given day he IS Ben Elf - toot. 

We have often been in the grip of a jelly flood - or worse. If you don't have small children, Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom is a cute and charming place where Ben Elf and Princess Holly have lots of 11-minute adventures. It's sweet and one of the less irritating and non-sensical of the kids' shows. 

The show is aimed at preschoolers. 

Ben and Holly's Little Castle Magical Playset has five rooms and is decorated with stickers that you need to add. It comes with Holly's wand and figures of Princess Holly, King and Queen Thistle, Nanny Plum, Ben Elf and Gaston. The wand activates five "magical" features such as the fire lighting, the bath filling and the washing line popping up. 

I thought that Boy Three, being such a fan, would love it. 

What we loved: The whole thing is adorable. The "magical" action is lovely and I wanted to do it again and again.

The whole thing looks very like the scenes in the TV show. 

What we loved less: The kit needed some construction and the stickers to be applied. Boy One loved doing this for his little brother. 

The figures are a bit wobbly and tend to fall over. "Oh dear, Nanny Plum has been at the gin again." They're also quite small.

Slightly too fiddly for our three year old.

Conclusion: If I was a three-year-old girl, I'd imagine I would adore this. And I'm sure some children would. There's plenty of scope for playing Ben and Holly based games. 

It was a little too fragile for our three-year-old and he wasn't terribly interested in such "small" play, although his brothers liked it. 

I'm going to put it away for six months or so, because I think there's lots of mileage in this toy, but Boy Three just isn't quite ready for it. 

Monday, 25 June 2012

Ten things to blog about when you don't know what to blog about...

Food with faces
I spent two days this weekend in the most inspiring company. I was at BritMumsLive! in the company of some 500 other bloggers. 

One of the speakers was Zoe Williams from the Guardian. She wrote Stop Insulting, Start Listening To Mums Who Blog

And that's really where this post comes in. She said everything I want to, only so much better. In fact, Zoe and the dozens of other clever, funny and talented writers have left me somewhat speechless. 

Obviously I wanted to come back from the event brimming with creative loveliness and snappy one-liners.

But I didn't...

So instead, just in case I'm not the only one, I opened the Old Chestnut drawer and brought some things to blog about when you don't know what to blog about.

Funny things kids do. Like this morning, when Boy Three reported a "pizza" walking across the bathroom floor. 
"A pizza?"
"No, not a pizza, silly mummy, a creature. And I'm afraid of it."
"Oh? Oh. It's only a woodlouse, it lives here too."
"But it hasn't got any eyes."

Gratitude. A quick blast of things that to be thankful for is always a bit of a pickmeup. For example, I am so hugely grateful to Susanna and Jen for inviting me to take part in such an awesome event. I'm still pinching myself. 

Sex life, lack thereof or otherwise. Only I've promised the Panther of News that what happens in the den, stays in the den. Instead see the Ministry of Mum's post on seven days of special love. 

My house is a shit tip/clutter cluster/Mecca for microbes. Always makes me feel better because people post that theirs is too. And anyway who cares about housework?

On the menu. What did you eat? What are you having for dinner tonight? We're having left-over cottage pie. Oh yes, living the dream here. Only perhaps the addition of chorizo makes it the much more exotic finca pie. But the Panther reckons the chorizo was a mistake, so controversial too. 

You'll never guess what happened... The weird stuff, when written down always seems weirder. Like on Saturday when @kidsbeehappy, whom I'd just met, and I discovered that we lived in the same flat, albeit 20 years apart. A flat that was some 400 miles from our meeting place. 

What I learned. One of my favourites, because my granny always told me "you're never too old to learn new things". This weekend I learned that Tune Hotels are pretty good. flat shoes are probably better than heels when you want to concentrate, and you can wear sequins in the daytime. 

What I wore. Sequins and flat shoes, see above. Transatlantic Blonde has a collection of posts about what people wore. 

Food with faces. This was the wonderful Mammasaurus' suggestion for what to post if blogging has become a chore - a sausage with eyes. Time for a new mememe maybe.

PS I know there are only nine, but I like to keep it edgy.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Do men and women laugh at different things?

Or is it just me? 

Last night howls of laughter could be heard from the sitting room. And not just from one person - the Panther of News and the full complement of Boys were helpless with mirth. 

Why? They were watching this advert. And then rewinding it and watching it again.

I watched to see what the fuss was all about. Nothing, not a grin, snigger or even faint smile. It's just not funny. 

For the most part, I won't have it that there is much of a difference between the sexes about anything. But this? Is it me, or do men and boys have an anatomically different funny bone to women?

Monday, 18 June 2012

Bogie-gate: How can I extract a confession?

Donuts that did, indeed, turn out like Ms Craddock's
The sun did not shine, 
it was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house 

All that cold, cold wet day.

But instead of Dr Seuss's deranged feline something else presented itself to fill a soggy Saturday. A crime had been committed at the Palace of Bundance and we - or at least I - needed to find the culprit. 

An investigation was launched and tough questions were asked. There were alibis and accusations and even a reconstruction, but to no avail.

I needed to find the person, or persons, who left a neat row of dried bogies on the back of the leather sofa. Hard, crusty olive green little critters that wouldn't budge without a damn good scrub or a pick with a fingernail. 

It wasn't the first time either. A week or so previously I had found an offensive little collection of nostril minings but, as there were no children within yelling range, I had cleaned them off, making a mental note to have a Serious Talk about it. 

However, my mental note fell off my mental pinboard until Saturday when I happened around the back of the sofa. Oh no, there they were again like nasty eyeless insects lurking. But this time I had a room full of suspects. 

"Aha," I said. "One of you has been wiping his bogies on the back of the sofa. Who is it?"

"Not me," came the reply, in stereo. "Who then?" I asked looking at Supersister's dog and the Boy Three, the only other candidates. 

Boy One suggested it might be the Panther of News. I thought this unlikely as he'd have had to get out of the armchair to reach the sofa and he's a too idle and b not cunning enough. 

Boy Two blamed his little brother, but as Boy Three's preferred bogie disposal device is my shirt front, I discounted him. 

So there we were - a crime had been committed and both suspects were in the room but admitting nothing. Unless it was a double snotter plot worthy of Agatha Christie one of them was lying. 

I'm perturbed that my dear sons can look me straight in the face and fib their noses off. You'd think I could tell, but I can't. 

I left them with strict instructions to clean them off together and that if it ever happened again I would punish them both most horribly. 

Meanwhile, Boy One made donuts that he iced in a shade that put me in mind of the mucus mounds that were Exhibit A in the Bogie-gate files. 

Review: Nurture skincare... facing up to aging

Between the lines... 
Who is that woman? The one with the lines and tired looking bags who peers at me from the bathroom mirror each morning? Yes, her. 

Obviously I know it's me, she's got my pyjamas on. But what I am constantly surprised by is the ageing process. Inside, I've hardly got the hang of being old enough to be a mother without the outside turning into my own mother. (Actually, I suspect it's more like my grandmother.) 

Ageing is inevitable, along with chin hairs, tax bills and weeds. It also seems to coincide with the need to wear sunglasses whenever anyone has a camera in their hand. Thus it should be greeted with equanimity, welcomed even, as a sign of wisdom and accomplishment.

Yeah right. 

While the thought of the whole Botox and fillers stuff makes me shudder, I must do what I can. And, in the absence of a time machine to go back to remind my younger self to put on sunblock and stop smoking, that adds up to putting good quality goop on my face. 

I confess I don't really understand what various different potions say they will do and, I suppose, that's the point. I read some very sciency stuff and think 'oh, yes, that's the ticket' without having a clue what it means.

So when I got invited to review some products Nurture that promised to be affordable, effective and are marketed to busy mums you could say I was keen. 

Product: Nurture Intensive Night Repair Treatment Cream

Price: £12.45

The promise: Visibly combats the signs of premature ageing: reduces age spots, fewer wrinkles after just four weeks. Contains pure retinol. 

What? From what I can google, retinol is a form of Vitamin A and it is appears on one form or another in many skin products. I think it works by making the skin cells renew more quickly thereby making skin look fresher and more glowing (younger). 

How was it? Lovely to use and smelled soothing. However, after a couple of days my skin felt a little tingly - it also looked much better too. Apparently tingling is a common side effect, so I started using the cream every second or third day and that felt more comfortable. 

Did it work? I think so. Unless I was going to do only one half of my face it would be impossible to properly tell, but my skin feels very smooth and pink. In that picture I'd been using it for a fortnight and didn't have any makeup on. 

Product: Nurture Intensive Night Repair Eye Contour Serum Capsules

Price £9.95 for 30 capsules.

The promise: Younger looking eyes, visibly reduces fine lines and crows feet around the eyes. Once again they contain retinol. 

How was it? The little capsule holds just enough goop for both eyes. After a week or so the skin around my eyes tingled slightly so I reduced the number of times I used this. 

Did it work? I think so, but I'm slightly less convinced than I was of the face cream. Perhaps because the eye area is more susceptible to other factors such as tiredness, weariness and exhaustion!

Conclusion: I really liked the products from Nurture and will definitely use them again. The brand has hit the right crossover of science, cost and promise. They worked for me and I'll be back for more. 

Sunglasses must be worn at all times


Sunday, 17 June 2012

Silent Sunday

Rain drops on leaves
Silent Sunday

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Neverseconds blogger Martha should lead the way at school

You'd have to have been living under a rock with no wifi to have missed this week's story about Martha Payne. Nine-year-old Martha from Lochgilphead Primary started a blog called Neverseconds a couple of months ago that records what she had for lunch at school. 

Quickly it caught on, the prison-style tray-plates made the school dinners look less appetising than they were, or at least I hope so.

Her posts were well written, properly spelled and punctuated and her blog looked great. 

Kids around the world liked the idea and soon she was sharing pictures of their lunch-time fayre.  

She was even using her impressive online following to work at raising funds for charity. And things were going swimmingly. 

Nick Nairn, shocked by the images on Martha's blog (and perhaps remembering the publicity generated by Jamie Oliver) held a school dinner summit at his cook school.

It all went wrong after the Daily Record covered it and carried an article headlined "Time To Fire The Dinner Ladies..."

Obviously, if you have look, they don't really want to fire the dinner ladies, it's just that a subeditor wrote a mildly amusing headline based on the picture. A picture with fire in it!

Martha's next blog post started: "This morning in maths I got taken out of class by my head teacher and taken to her office. I was told that I could not take any more photos of my school dinners because of a headline in a newspaper today."

What followed was even more remarkable. The council got itself in knots over how, exactly, it would ban Martha from blogging. The legalities and civil rights of it were discussed. Martha's dad Dave gave a good account of himself on Radio 4. Nick Nairn, Jamie Oliver and Education Secretary Mike Russell all pitched in. 

By lunchtime, about which Martha wouldn't be blogging, the council had performed a perfect U-turn and leader of Argyll and Bute Council Roddy McCuish said: "There is no place for censorship in the Coucnil and never will be whilst I am leader."

What he should instead have announced was that Martha's blog was to be encouraged and, in addition, each of her classmates was to start a blog.

Teachers and education departments across Scotland are dealing with - muttering darkly and enthusing by turn depending who's asking - the new Curriculum For Excellence. 

The headline is that teachers and schools can do their own thing provided that what they do falls under four 'capabilities'  
successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors. 

The details of what that means is here:

As far as I can see Martha's blog fits every aspect of every category. Neverseconds should be held up as a shining example of everything that education in Scotland is about at the moment. More power to your blog, Martha. 

Saturday is caption day...

Buckfast on the beach

And the caption for this one is... 

It's bucketing down here so, perhaps, a little light caption fun might help cheer things up. Mammasaurus' is holding her weekly roundup. Have some fun with the other entries.

Friday, 15 June 2012

The Angels' Share - putting sex appeal into a whisky glass

Paul Brannigan
The intense Paul Brannigan
The Bridges of Maddison County had me leaving the cinema sobbing, after In The Loop I was sniggering in a deranged manner, The Hunger Games had me empowered, while Twilight utterly revised my opinion of vampire flicks.

But this week I left a picture house with a yearning for a drink... not just any drink, a fine malt whisky in one of those beautiful glasses with a heavy base. Such is the effect of The Angels' Share...

This new film by Ken Loach is about a young father who is determined to find a way to a better life for his family. A visit to a distillery gives him an idea of how to do it. 

It's full of the kind of pawky Scottish humour that put Local Hero and Gregory's Girl into the national treasure casket, plus some romance, drama and a few posh folk being made prats of.

Apart from my pal Mark, who appears in the first scene and does some very convincing paper shuffling, two things emerge as real stars. 

The first is new boy Paul Brannigan. He's the real deal, born to drug addict parents and ended up inevitably in jail where he taught himself to read and speak by consuming dictionaries and Newsnight. He also has that same kind of intensity found in fellow countrymen James McAvoy and Robert Carlyle - wouldn't merit a second glance in the street but once you start watching them you can't stop. 

The second outstanding feature is whisky. The warming and intense amber liquid. Not, at first sip, even nice, but once you get the hang of it... See where I'm going here? 

I'm not a fan of the dram fool old farts' school of Scotch bullshit, but a good whisky - with a splash of water if it makes you shudder - is really lovely. I've been able to tell all sorts of things - berries, smoke, fish or even TCP - that a more discerning palate would spot in fine wines. Gooseberries anyone? 

Whisky, like some Scottish films especially those whose reviews feature the phrase "gritty realism", is perhaps not at the top of your must consume this weekend list, but I'd urge you to think again on both counts. 

The Angels' Share refers to the quantity of whisky that evaporates from the casks, I'd say let the angels have theirs but make sure you pour yourself a dram and watch this film. 

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Scotland to Cornwall - 569 miles to misery... or not?

A blue car
 This year the residents of the Palace of Bundance are going to pack up their Lego, Men in Black figurines (is a figurine just a toy that doesn't do anything?), their cake icing partworks and set off for Cornwall for the annual expedition. 

Can you imagine a camel caravans laden and clanking and covering the desert miles? Only it'll be a blue Skoda Roomster - the Panther of News says there'll be tons of space and we don't need a roof box. I'm not sure I believe him. 

Way back in the winter (same weather, previous month), we didn't give much thought to getting there. "Oh, it'll be fine. A few stops and job's a good 'un."

Boys Two and Three listening to their mother
I checked and it's 569 miles which this computer reckons will take 10 hours and three minutes, not including stops for food, drink and cleaning up vomit. Or getting lost/stuck in traffic.

Good grief, what were we thinking? No, really. Not the decision of rational people.

However, Cornwall does look lovely and, furthermore, it's all booked and paid for. Besides, Boy One has been making Boy Three repeat "Lost Gardens of Heligan" over and over for weeks now.

What I think I need, instead of a sickening sense of impending dread, is a plan.

There is a school of thought that says: Drive through the night, drive like you were young and there was someone you fancied at the end of the road, drive like you'll be able to get a good sleep at the other end. If it worked and those things were true it'd be a contender, but it won't and they aren't.

So first I need to break the trip into bite sized bits of misery - eating an elephant style. To this end we already have first dibs on the Bundance Blog Mother's spare beds in Cumbria. 

Then, in a stroke of splendid news I won the Tot's 100 Camelot Theme Park competition. One way or the other, we'll break our journey there. 

This weekend I'm going to pour myself a large gin and unfold an even bigger map of the UK and figure out where else we can stop and who we can go and see. 

However, all of this doesn't account for the 10 hours and three minutes strapped into the car - 20 hours and six minutes if you count the coming back bit too. This also needs a plan. 

I like a talking book. Renting them from our local library got me through a particularly tiresome daily commute through the notorious Glasgow airport roadworks (fourth incarnation).  I've noticed Boys One and Two have started to pay attention to Radio 4 occasionally. They're both Just A Minute fans and Boy Two pretends to like the Archers. I'm not sure he really does, but I can't work out what his motive really is. 

A big tree
Branching out to the South of England
So it occurred to me that the right talking book - or books as it is a looooong way - might be just the thing to keep us sane. 

I'm looking for suggestions of talking books that might engage a 10 year old, his 12-year-old brother, the Panther of News and I. Oh and if Boy Three, who is three, likes them that would be great, but he doesn't get a say as he's likely to be heavily sedated the whole way (joke). What do you recommend?

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Review: Hotter sandals to flip out over

Hotter Shoes Java
Java alongside middle son's favourite footwear
Flip-flops? Nah. I'd love to get on with them, but I can't.

My feet just don't seem to understand what they're supposed to do. In my mind they are supposed to sit prettily on the sole, but actually they slither off to one side or the other. My toes ache and I trip over. 
Hotter Shoes Java
Walking on the ceiling

But then I discovered that Hotter have made a beautiful thing called Java. It's a flipflop strapped on at the ankle.

Hotter Shoes Java
I love my new sandals
Java is a lovely thing all buttery-soft leather and molded, springy footbed. The strap keeps feet under control and the chunky sole is flattering to those of us whose feet tend towards the Hobbity. 

Since they arrived, I have worn these chaps almost non-stop, rain or shine. Actually it has been rain or rain. 

You might have thought that perpetual sogginess was a problem when it comes to skipping about in glorified flip-flops. Au contraire. 

In an effect similar to the chopines of 16th centure Venice, Java keeps your feet above the puddles and damp ground. 
Designed to keep the wearer's feet clean and dry.

I've worn my Javas a lot for the past week and so far so comfy. I can feel the thong between my toes but there is no sensation of rubbing. 

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Could you leave your child in the pub?

The next time this pair go to the loo, I'm off...
Of course you could. Just like David Cameron did. 

Settle down, I'm not suggesting that he and Sam, or anyone else, would set forth thinking "I don't give a fig about my kids, I'll just leave them lying about like dropped gloves". That would be ridiculous.  

And, obviously, there are some bang-to-rights cases of parental negligence, but rarely among those who go for a £15-a-head carvery lunch in two cars. Negligent parents with several vehicles and a taste for roast beef probably wouldn't have taken the children in the first place. 

But back to the point. Of course you - or someone like you - could have left your child in the pub, by accident. 

It seems that at least half of the adults in the country with access to social media have one anecdote or another of being left in the fish shop, gents outfitters, cafe or pram outside the bank. 

I almost left Boy Two at a playgroup when he was tiny, walking out to my car with Boy One, oblivious. Not even a nagging sense of something missing. Another mum said: "Aren't you taking the baby with you?" How we laughed about it. 

Those unlucky enough to lack a day-my-mum-forgot-to-take-me-home saga made up for it by poking fun at a prime minister who was left looking like a prince of poor parenting. My favourite was Susan Calman on Twitter who said: "It's my dream to be left in a pub and forgotten about. I never thought I'd say this, but I'd like David Cameron to be my dad."

Obviously we need to take care of our children and not leave them in dangerous environments. D'oh. But, think about it, if you were in a menacing place then you're not going to be relaxed enough to forget Tabatha or Timothy, are you? DC would hardly have left Nancy at a Labour Party Conference or a sink estate. 

Clearly the mood would have been different if some misfortune befell Nancy. Then, apart from dealing with it himself, Cameron would have to cope with a tsunami of bile about his carelessness. Thankfully that didn't happen, nor was it likely to. 

The moral of this story with its happy ending is leave your high horse in the stable over everyday matters. Eight year olds can - and should - be able to go about (to the loo, for example) on their own. And nasty stuff, that would give this story a very different ending, is thankfully too rare to become something to keep us from relaxing enough to get careless. 

PS I wouldn't be surprised if the security types weren't getting something of a bollocking. Vigilance is in their job description, isn't it? Kind of like ability to come to the rescue is to firefighters. 

Monday, 11 June 2012

Oh my dog: karma from the canine world.

Dog on a yoga mat
Preparing for downward dog
We have had a house guest for the past week - a large black Labrador called Pinto. 

He's lovely and perfectly well behaved, a credit to his owner. And he's also been very instructive. 

I hadn't previously pawsed to consider how much wisdom there is in the wag of a tail or the sniff of a crotch. But, this past few days has been a revelation of sorts. 

If there can be the Tao of Pooh/Steve/Geek, then surely there can be the Lamppost Less Peed On?

Here are the main tenets of pooch enlightenment that I have observed in a week:

If you don't pay attention you will lose more balls than you thought possible. 

A sliding door will not hold back persistence.

Golf is, in fact, merely a bewildered human who can't decide whether to fling his stick or his ball.

Other people's food always looks better. 

If you walk twice a day every day, you will lose weight. 

Humans might be daft enough to want to go outside in the rain when it's late and you're cosy, but dogs aren't. 

Dogs facilitate communication. People who wouldn't talk to you normally are quite chatty when you're at the other end of a dog lead. 

Dogs don't necessarily like children, just the food they drop/leave all over their faces. 

One person's friendly pet is another's huge scary beast. 

A cow pat that might look hard and crusty, may, in fact, be fooling you (it was actually Boy Three who learnt this, while wearing sandals).

If you have your balls in your mouth you can't eat shit (this one's a work in progress).

You want me to do what? No chance.

Review: Toucan Box for hands-on fun

I'm rubbish at crafts with the kids. I can't ever think of what to do and we never have the right stuff if I am ever inspired. 

Glitter makes me twitch and I'm so ham-fisted things never look the way we hope they will. 

So when I was offered a ToucanBox to try out we seemed like the ideal guinea pigs - the family that doesn't craft together if it can possibly avoid it. 

ToucanBox is a brilliant idea. You get a box once a month full of all the stuff you need for at least four crafty creations plus instructions. 

Ours was the Bird Box and had the makings of a bird feeder, a toucan family, a peacock collage and a bird glider. Plus there was a love book called Dazzle Duckling, a guide to drawing birds and some colouring stuff. 

It's supposed to be for three to six year olds, but I'd say the appeal was much wider. Boy Three at just three enjoyed it (with much supervision), but his brothers One (12) and Two (10) liked it too. 

It costs £19.95 for one month (including P&P) but the price goes down to  £16.99 if you subscribe for six months. 

What we liked.

I love the idea and the fact that everything is in the box. 

The projects are varied and suitable for all ages. Boy One made the bird feeder on his own and Boy Two made the toucans. 

They get someone as crummy at crafts as me to sit with the kids and create something that took most of a wet afternoon. This is remarkable. 

Clearing up was easy - you just shove it back in the box. 

Even if your children run riot with paint/glue/glitter the quantities aren't catastrophic. 

ToucanBox forces you to spend quality time together, which is a Good Thing. 

We haven't used everything up and have already spent several contented hours with no shouting at all.

What we liked less. 

Very little really. 

The glue supplied for the bird feeder wasn't up to the Scottish rain.

The toucan family needed to be held together with drawing pins.

Who is ToucanBox for?

Families allergic to craft, like us. 

Grannies, aunties, dads - anyone who wants to have some activity up their sleeves.

Gifts - I can see quite a few of my nephews getting this for their next birthdays. 

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Silent Sunday

Boys at a village gala

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Saturday is caption day

crocodile with a Croc in  his mouth

Mammasaurus has a link-up on her blog for Saturday caption posts. Here's mine. What's the caption for this photo?

Friday, 8 June 2012

Don't make me do the mums' race... ever

School sports day
Team Bundance in training
To my left a woman in running shorts - bare, muscled calves twitching to be off. Taller than me by a head. 

On the right the short-haired mum has pulled off her floral blouse to reveal a running top with integral sports bra. Oh, no. She has spiked athletic shoes. As the deputy head gets ready to give the signal, she drops to a crouch. She is young enough to be my daughter.

Shit. I've still got my handbag over my shoulder and my camera around my neck. No time to put it down, the teacher raises his hand. Silence. A fraction of a moment, no more. I see my sons' faces. 

Go. Mummy, mummy. Run. And they're off. At least everyone else is. I jam my bag under my arm and follow slipping sideways out of my sandals. 

"Mummy, you were last," he accuses, the shame burning hot and hard. 

Then I wake up, cold sweat on my top lip. It was only a dream. A nightmare.

It was sports day today. The eighth potential mums' race since Boy One first joined primary one. I have never, once run the race and I never will. The dream is just a nightmare that comes again and again. 

I know some of you parents think participating on sports day is just part of the fun. An extension of your own playing field successes. 

However, for those of us for whom PE was a series of humiliating and uncomfortable unpleasantnesses, there could be nothing worse. I am comfortable with my lack of athletic ability, that I'm an endurance model not the fast version. But, once a year, the spectre of navy shorts and Airtex shirts looms. Black gym shoes with worms of elastic curling from the stretchy bit.

Clearly, I'm a grown up now and if I don't want to do it, I don't have to. But still I always take steps to make sure my participation is impossible. 

Once I was pregnant, once days post-partum. Twice it got rained off and once I was nursing a nasty case of norovirus. 

The other times, I made sure I was scuppered by my footwear - impossibly high heels twice and today wellies. You can't run in wellies, everyone knows that. 

So, come on 'fess up. Do you happen to put on your restraining athletic bra on sports day or do you fling yourself down the stairs to sustain enough of an injury create an excuse? 

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