Monthly Archives: March 2014

Mother’s Day – Firstborn

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Until my girls were born I was always bottom management in my immediate family tree, but it meant that I was the one making cards and gifts for mum, my grandmothers and my Godmothers.  I’d always say happy birthday to people on Mothering Sunday and when I met Big Welsh I assumed responsibility for his mum too!

However this all changed when our first born arrived.  That gorgeous girl who arrived nearly 16 years ago on her due date made us parents (and tired to boot).  I wont lie and suggest it was easy because it wasn’t.  I naively thought that motherhood would be as easy as looking after other people’s children.  How wrong was I?  But unlike other people’s children that you hand back at the end of the day there was no handing back and leaving my post, being her mum I was the one who put her baby into her cot, who got up with her in the night, who muddled through disillusioned with the new mother mafia and who handed her over, grudgingly, to her daddy when I was too tired to carry on.

When she started nursery we were treated to handmade gifts and cards, pictures made of pasta and items that were treasures that had to have a place on the shelf.  Now as we approach her 16th birthday the handmade gifts and cards aren’t as regular as they were, but the texts and emails always make me smile.  They normally ask me to do something for her or remind me to do something for her or ask for a lift home because her bag is too heavy, her legs are too tired or she has too much homework??!!!

Nearly 16 years ago I became a mum to my firstborn and since then I have experienced every known emotion and maternal feeling, but the strongest has to be love.  When I walk into her room I think I how much I love tidying up after her, when she makes an impromptu cup of tea I think she must love me heaps and when she leaves her laundry at the washing machine I feel she’s telling me that she loves the way I was her clothes for her.

Loops, you made me a mum, when the sisters arrived you were helpful and kind, when you want a chat I’ll listen and sometimes sing along, I love you more than I can say.

xxx

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Mother’s Day – Earth Mother

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That funny girl who is wise beyond her years, short for her age and has THE most perfect comedy timing was in the garden for most of the day yesterday.

After lunch she was watching butterflies, throwing the ball for the dog and walking barefoot in the border taking it in turns to balance on the sleepers and dig for moles. She’d worn shoes, shoes and socks, socks or has been barefoot. If the truth be told she’d also been wearing a retro Liverpool shirt with the no 7 on the back and a pair of Welsh rugby shorts. The football shirt isn’t hers and looked like a dress. It did look quite sweet with little grazed knees and grubby legs poking out underneath!

When Big Welsh came back from his cycle she helped him fix the mower, she happily piled earth onto uneven parts of the lawn, she cleared the grass away from the paths and borders with her bare hands and she washed her green pudgy hands before settling down to watch Shrek.

She’s the child that’s most at home with nature, whose mind takes in every fact and she retains trivia for a later date. She’s my earthy girl does that make me an earth mother? Together we potter in the garden and she marvels at butterflies, worms and ladybirds with me.

Thank you Laree for being the happy and dappy smiling girl, who is as happy in the garden as she is sipping a cup of tea at Lotte’s, reading on the lawn or soaking and swimming in the bath.

Xx

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Mother’s Day – Proud Mama

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I took the girls to  football yesterday and quite unlike me I stayed and quite unlike Mook she didn’t ask me to go. Some of the other mums turned up and as the coach was having difficulty parking Jane & I decided to give them a pep talk!!

We suggested they pulled their socks up, jogged on the spot, stopped arsing around and played like a together team who wanted to play AND win. When the coach and some of the blokes turned up we retreated to the sideline and poured a coffee. It’s hardwork this caretaker manager business.

The game started and then a penalty happened so Mook took it.  I couldn’t look.  As her foot kicked the ball my heart was in my mouth and as the ball went to the back of the net I was that woman, oh yes I was that mother who cheered loudly and then couldn’t speak because I was sobbing.

Mook then came off with a bleeding finger, thankfully (for the team) it was only a chipped nail (dramatic) and she was able to go back once plastered up (phew, hadn’t planned on waiting rooms of any sort) but she was slower than she was and her face had that pained expression. She kept rubbing her head and mouthed she had a headache. That set me off again as she had concussion less than 6 months ago and I was naturally worried. She carried on playing, still with pained expression and broken nail (such a trooper).

 

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Romy was in goal and let in 2 goals. I sobbed for her too as Fiona was away, Romes was staying with us and I was in loco parentis.

 

At half time the coach said Romy was out of goal and she had to score 2 goals. No pressure. Fair play to Romes she did score a goal, then the other team did making it 2-3, Lauren scored and Mook scored another one making the final score 4-3.

At one point I heard a number of the opposition say mark no 7, I obviously had to look and see who no 7 was and was surprised to see it was Mook. No 7 is also my niece’s number, she plays in the U16s for another team and who, according to my old Sgt, is a more than decent player and when his daughter’s team was playing her team they all agreed to mark no 7 as they’d heard about her (proud Aunty) they were therefore thrilled when my niece didn’t play and they won.

But I digress.

Each and everyone one of those girls played a blinding match and whilst I haven’t a clue about off side, formation, penalty boxes and the etiquette of throwing the ball back I could see they played a blinding bit of football.

Big thanks must go to Helen Jolliffe for her amazing photos, her lens caught the determination, skill and bounciness of this team who haven’t had many wins but who have won their last 2 matches.  Do take a look at her website if you are looking for any photography.

To Dave the coach, Warren, Steve and Paul who ran up and down and shouted technical terms thank you, it saved us running and shouting!!  To Jane, Karen and Di who oohed and ahhed with me and poured coffee!

But above all to Mook, my beautiful middle daughter (and her brilliant team) thank you for making me so proud and thank you for playing a game that was fast, furious, dynamic and memorable.

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Now who else needs a pep talk?

 

 

 

 

Oh you pretty things

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You pretty things, don’t you know you’re driving your mamas and papas insane

I recently popped back to my old school and caught up with my cookery teacher and though I’d left school *cough* 29 years ago and I was now an adult with children, I could drive and buy wine but I still felt a teeny bit like a teenager. In my day Miss Tutcher was Miss Tutcher, nowadays she’s called Kim by the boys in her house. Kim? I’m an adult now and I couldn’t bring myself to call her Kim!

We chatted about everyone in my year, giggled over some of our antics, discussed the teachers who seemed archaic in the 80s (and I was gobsmacked to know that they weren’t really in their 80s in the 80s despite seeming to be) and what life was like now we’re older and role models to our children. We reminisced about my O level spinach cookery balls up, we remembered Rachel who tragically and suddenly died a few years back and we marvelled at how Charch has given us so much hope despite facing the final stages of her life.

Miss Tutcher (Kim) asked after my girls and I said “oh you know 2 of them are teenagers and it’s an interesting phase!!” I also said that it doesn’t help when people ask what I was like at that age. She looked at me and said (in that form tutor way) “so what do you think you were like at that age?”.

Do you know, no-one has ever asked what I was like at that age so I’ve never given it a second thought but I answered “oh you know as a teenager I was cocky, unsure, cool, fragile, rebellious, clueless, loyal, strong, determined, weak, tiring, boisterous, trendy, loved up, lazy, deaf, verbal, vocal, opinionated, loving, arrogant” – well you get the picture!! She looked at me and said “are you describing yourself or teenagers in general?”.

Actually verbalising how I thought of myself as a teenager (albeit under pressure in the teacher’s office) made me realise that how teenagers are these days really is no different to how we were in the 80s.

To my darling girls I thank you on a daily basis for being my gorgeous girls, I can forgive you your teenage years because they’ll be over before you know and when you’re older you’ll look back on your teenage years whilst advising your teenagers that what they’re doing is what everyone of that age has done.

Girls, thank you. I love you all. I do. I really really do. XXX .

Storage Ideas and Dreams

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I regularly discuss storage and my love of storage, it’s not quite an obsession but it is something I think about on a regular basis.  I have also been known to dream about storage.

All too often when people come round they admire my genius storage solutions.  I’ve used a jelly mould for a vase, enamel bread bins for anything but bread; I’ve had a garden planter full of towels to name but a few examples of multi-usage items!  Big Welsh despairs when he comes home as he doesn’t quite know what I might have moved around, painted, turned upside down or swapped!

Organisation is actually really simple to achieve (well I say that but then I look at the girls’ bedrooms and my heart sinks) and with so many companies with stunning storage solutions is it any wonder that I am spoilt for choice.

My kitchen is constantly under threat of having a wall removed so I am loath to get any more furniture, but that has not stopped me getting my bread bin from Ella’s Kitchen Company.  This breadbin is fantastic because it has a front opening drop down door so you can actually see what is in there, there is space underneath for a chopping board and the top is flat so you can house a toast rack and butter dish or anything you like.  I also need the kitchen cabinet, storage boxes, long handled dustpan & brush and the tongs!

I recently found Kate Watson-Smyth’s blog, what a treat it was to sit down and literally lose myself!  Look at her kitchen; I love the shelves behind the sink, the colour of the walls and the air holes at the top of the door!

One thing I do want in my kitchen is a standalone workstation and the one I have my eye on is on the Alison at Home website.

Another favourite is Dee Puddy who I met through Hunter Gatherer.  Her website is just a delight and I am very fond of my antique zinc storage baskets.

Of course Hunter Gatherer is another firm favourite, I particularly like the numbered stickers which will assist in any storage situations and the biodegradable dishcloth (which I like to look at)!

I tend to pick up shelves and things from Kim over at Pedlars Place, it’s well worth a visit and she also sells your stuff on 50/50 basis meaning you when I tire of something I can sell it and use the proceeds to buy something else.

Shelf Store is another place I have been looking at, they might be the answer to my bathroom towels and heaps of products my girls seem to have accumulated.  I like the easy to navigate website and the handy price helper. 

I recently met Vincent & Barn and I am really taken with the Glass Cabinet, ideal for bed linen!

Now I must research under the stairs storage!

Poor communication

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 It’s been an odd week not being able to pick up the phone and having a chat with Georgie because she has had no phone line. 

I returned from my weekend in Wales and saw her tweets about there being an electrical fault and that an engineer wouldn’t get to the small village of Charlton Musgrove until Thursday.  Thursday???  What kind of customer service is that?  I don’t know if you are familiar with Charlton Musgrove?  Well it’s tiny.  Georgie said in one of her tweets that there were residents who had no access to mobile telecommunications or motor vehicles and couldn’t just dash out and phone to report their fault, so I made contact with BT 151 who advised me to phone BT Openreach on Monday at 7am and report the whole village was out.  I also phoned the police to advise them that a whole village was without telephones and could they pay passing attention. 

Monday 7am.  Mr BT Openreach said that Mr BT 151 was wrong and that each customer had to phone their phone provider and tell them they had no phone.  Those phone providers would then advise BT Openreach and it would all be logged.  Again I explained that it wasn’t the case of just jumping in the car to find a good place to phone from a mobile as some of them were old and frail with no mobile phones or vehicles.  Mr BT Openreach said that even though I had given him the postcode and the name of the village that was not enough to report the fault as each customer has to phone their phone provider themselves.  Are you getting frustrated yet?  I thanked Mr BT Openreach for his time and fired off an email to the Chief Exec.

Being a Solutioneer I also phoned BBC Somerset to ask them to put out an alert that phone lines were down in Charlton Musgrove and could they advise their listeners that there was a problem.  Thanks for the shout out BBC Somerset!  I settled down and rang BT HQ and was put through to a very nice man called Stuart, who listened to what I had to say who explained that yes sadly it was up to the individual customers to phone their providers and their providers would call BT Openreach.  Whilst this wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear as it was coming from someone in HQ it had to be right!  I asked him to provide me with all the phone companies and their phone numbers.  He said that was doable but it would take him 1o minutes or so and do you know what?  Within 10 minutes or so I had a text saying he had tried to call but couldn’t get through (irony) and here were all the numbers.

Have you ever tried to get through to a phone provider?  Well I wasn’t going to be on hold for 15 minutes each time so I tweeted them and wasn’t that surprised to only get a few responses.  Each response said their customer needs to report their fault and no I can’t report a fault for a certain postcode in certain village.

I phoned the Town Council and Somerset County Council to advise them if they had not already heard.  I spoke to a very nice lady called Sally who was appreciative of my efforts.  Then I got a phone call from the Exec office and could I call him back which I did but he was away from his desk.  I spoke to Sally again and she told me that the MP was on the case.  Clearly he didn’t think it was acceptable for a whole village to be phoneless for the best part of a week and knowing the make up of his constituents he would know the vulnerabilities of them.

I eventually spoke to Mr Exec the next day and he was very apologetic at not being available the previous day.  I told him I was disappointed that Mr BT 151 had given me the advice to call Mr BT Openreach and that Mr BT Openreach had told me that Mr BT 151 gave me the wrong advice, I told him that I was disillusioned with BT not being able to get out for the best part of a week to look at their equipment and I told him I was annoyed that despite reporting a whole village without a working phoneline Mr BT Openreach didn’t consider this to be a major incident. 

Mr Exec said that this was being looked into and in reality Mr BT Openreach should have dealt with my request as it was a whole village afftected and therefore a major incident, I said it was a critical incident but we parted on good terms and I nicely suggested that some additional training was given to each department about what the other departments do.  Cheeky I know!

The reason why I got so het up about this was because I know how much older & gentlefolk rely on their telephone for communication and how frightening it is to need to use the telephone and the phone doesn’t work.  Just imagine if they had needed to dial 999, or someone urgently needed to contact them.  

I was able to report a fault from the comfort of my own home but what is the contingency plan?  Surely someone at BT should have seen that a whole village was out?  Surely someone from BT should have taken on board that a phone call saying the whole village was out would invoke some kind of disaster recovery plan.

I hope that things change.

Do one thing for me and any older gentlefolk you might care about.  Ask them who their phone providers are and make a note of the fault line number and account number so that if you can’t get hold of your older & gentlefolk then at least you will be able to get hold of their phone providers who will then contact Mr BT Openreach, because until something changes there is no way of reporting a major incident.

 

Today

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Teachers’ Strike. Today. So there you go. I’m not affected by the strike in as much as my day is hugely disrupted or I am scrabbling for childcare, but I do have one child at home whilst the other two go to school. School is a place of learning, it is not my childcare arrangement. My children being in school allows me to get on with my day without my children but it is in no way childcare in my mind.

I do have sympathy for teachers who do much much more than teach, they spend hours – long hours – working into the night to the detriment of their family and home life. I saw that first hand whilst trying to drag Mabel* out to play but no she couldn’t as she had marking to do. *not her real name

It’s wrong that the travel industry increases the prices in school holidays so is it any wonder people take their children out of school? That’s an issue the Government should be addressing.

The teachers who strike today won’t get paid.

I want my children taught by experienced, invigorated teachers who have the energy and enthusiasm to inspire and encourage them. I have friends who have left teaching just a few years before retiring, one is going part time to reduce her stress and one isn’t looking forward to working until 68. I don’t want my children to be constantly taught by supply teachers with no continuity, I don’t want my children to be taught by burnt out teachers, I don’t want my children’s prospects ruined by disruption.

There is a lot of discussion about the strikes and I appreciate everyone’s opinions but this post was written by me and it’s my understanding of today having spoken to those friends who are teachers. I’ve chosen not to chat to political friends as they are not teachers, or Gove himself as he is not a teacher.

I have written as a mother and a friend. I am not a political animal and I will neither agree nor disagree with some teachers who have made the decision to strike.