Friday 30 October 2009

Which witch are you? (or get to know your inner witch!)

I am a witch. Everyone will tell you especially my three year old who's taken to telling me how much he hates me whenever I tell him off - actually all of them do it, including Dear Charlie and he's my husband.
Now I won't get paranoid about it even though it is Halloween tomorrow but having just indulged myself - and of course the boys - by watching Snow White courtesy of Disney, I feel for the witch. I really do.
In fact whenever I am around people who are really good and perfect, my inner witch just bursts forth. Of course, I never actually show how witchy I am - that would be seriously scary, so I hide it and smile and ask all those lovely fluffy questions and imagine I am holding out a lovely red poisonous apple.
OOOhhh I am scary!
I think it is important for women to acknowledge their inner witch. I am definitely a Snow White witch, looking to get rid of my rivals with ruthless efficiency and realising like all good witches must that if you want a job done properly you always end up having to do it yourself.
Now there are lots of witches in stories to choose from and here are a few of my favourites:
The White Witch from the Chronicles of Narnia: for those very organised and efficient women who hate indecisiveness, untidiness and those people who fail to clean behind their fridges at least one a week. These self-reliant women are typified by the fact they do very well in a man's world and do no favours for the rest of their sex. Most likely found running the country.
The Wicked Fairy from Sleeping Beauty: for those women who need to be in the know and take exception when they are not. Most likely found heading up the local women's organisation or else the PTA.
The Wicked Witch of the West: for those women who know what they are owed and take no prisoners. Most likely found demanding a refund for a dress they have only worn once or else telling you they know their rights.
The Witch from Hansel and Gretel: for those women who know what they want and are not scared to get it by any means how ever underhand. Most likely found as your instant best friend so watch out she's likely to eat you up.
There must be loads more witches out there especially at this time of year - which witch are you?
As for Disney's Snow White I have a feeling she'd be the scariest witch of all - the reason being she's just too good to be true and I just get rather worried when I meet people like her. We all need an inner witch just to be comfortable...even if it's only around other witches of our acquaintance.

Thursday 29 October 2009

Eastern Promises ( or let's start at the very beginning...)

Somebody somewhere asked about my first blog post ever and I remember writing this....

Let's start at the very beginning and introduce my life.
I have just taken my clean laundry down to the bonfire and handed my rubbish to Therese for ironing – I have been in the country far too long and now I am finally losing it.
Yes, we did move out of London and are now in the depths of wildest Suffolk where the rabbits play chicken with your car at dead of night and Pheasants fly in low on kamikaze missions determined to drive you off the road.
This is our final resting place and from comments made by the parents on viewing our new home back in 2001 probably our nemesis as well. The story of its acquisition, like all good tales sees prospective owners Dear Charlie and myself falling in love with it, offering for it, nearly losing it, then battling it out with rivals to secure it for ourselves. A story of passion, skulduggery, hope against hope, and finally….my mother calling it Cold Comfort Farm and muttering about woodsheds while my father stares ashen faced refusing to say a word.
It's been a BIG project but one that has kept us entertained and hopefully allows us to entertain in turn. Just to clear the outside to see what’s there, Dad estimated he would need 10 men working 4 weeks solid – his chainsaw went into ‘hospital’ after a mere 36 hours.
Rookyard makes me laugh and not always with hysteria. We have woods, meadows, a fabulous moat, a hemp plantation - found in a secluded corner of the property - and of course the house itself with twisty corridors, undulating floors, inglenook fireplaces and at the beginning our very own mushroom cupboard providing delicious fungi for breakfast!
Boy, have we moved on since then…
So who/what else stars in the world of mine? There’s husband Dear Charlie who has informed me he is living his dream and not even the 6am commute everyday nor the ever-mounting restoration bill can make him change his mind. There are my two boys known as The Boy and Bog Boy, both heaven sent – and had I known how difficult it would be to have them in the first place I swear I would have had more fun in my twenties.
Animal wise there's Jack Russell, Tigger whern we firast came here and of course there are the chickens...
On the day we bought the house we had 17, but within a few weeks this dropped dramatically. But don’t feel too sorry for these chickens nor imagine that they were hunted like fish in a barrel. These are wild chickens with instincts honed by years of living life on the edge. Apart from waking us up at 4am every morning they serve no practical use at all – however, we became rather fond of them and have added to their number through accident, adoption and active management – more of that later…
Then there are my whippets Tattie and Gemma (mother and daughter) secured as a sop to a surfeit of maternal feeling after my first and most dramatic miscarriage. That gave me Tattie and in 2005 there was Gemma plus four others born practially in my bed!. Recently following the death of Biggles tehre is on the dog front Sassy yet another whippet.  Joining the Whippets are our two red point Siamese cats Agatha and Alice. What an eventful time they have had, probably culminating in the fact that the sky is awful big and doesn’t fall down when you go outside.
Well, the hunter gatherer is due to return any minute, I must dash upstairs and put a ribbon in my hair and then greet him at the door with a great big gin – “Darling, you know all your shirts…..”

What was your first blog?

Thursday 22 October 2009

Things I dream about - to the tune of My Favourite Things with apologies to Rogers and Hammerstein

(To the tune of My Favourite Things!)

Just four inches taller and two sizes smaller
Elegant and stylish for that impromptu caller
Home life and work life I’ve got it just right
These are the dreams I dream of at night!

A fabulous garden with gold star from Chelsea
Admired by all and magically weed free
Chic modish living all clean and white
These are the dreams I dream of at night!

A husband who’s handsome and clever and rich
Beautiful children I’d never want to switch
A wonderful family, oh what a sight!
These are the dreams I dream of at night!

When the kids fight,
When the Mum screams,
When I'm feeling sad,
I simply remember my favourite dreams,
And then I don't feel so bad.

Well I do but then I get a hug and it’s not so bad after all…

This post was inspired by Who's The Mummy who wanted to know about my dreams. I'd love to know about everyone elses!

Monday 19 October 2009

The trouble with Parenting (or why didn’t anyone warn me how difficult it was going to be?)

I’m sitting here with big swollen eyes, a bright red runny nose and I can’t stop sobbing. I want it all to stop and I wish I’d never started down this route. I can’t seem to get anything right.
I love my boys, both of them, but my eldest and I seem to be drifting further and further apart. I can’t seem to get a handle on him and he’s only six! It feels like a nightmare that will never end and will only get worse.
We had a massive row in the car on the way to school, all because he would not put his fleece on. I mean what a silly thing to get all het up about – me not him. But he refused to put it on saying I always told him what to do. Well I would, I’m his mother, I’m a grown up – it’s what we do isn’t it? Tell children what to do because we know best and they do it. That’s the deal. However, with increasing frequency, everything I ask him to do from the big to the small is a trigger to a battle - from asking him to close his mouth while eating to getting dressed in the morning; from not picking his nose to concentrating on his homework.
Oh it is such an effort. I bribe him with crisps and sweets, promises of telly when he finishes, I threaten with no stories, early bed and even bread and water but neither treat nor threat seems to make any difference. I just land up shouting in frustration and spending an inordinate amount of time trying to get things done. I dread waking him up in the morning knowing what a battle it will be to get him moving, get him dressed get him watered and fed and then off to school. I dread  picking him up and then having to go through his homework in the early evening. Something that really only will take 20 minutes lands up taking an hour and a half and I or Dear Charlie have to sit with him the whole time trying to get him to concentrate so he does it. I mean all we are doing is a few high frequency words or a very little math and piano practice.
He loves piano, so his teacher says and he is really improving. He says he loves it but to get him to do five minutes practice and I really only mean five minutes necessitates a 15-minute negotiation usually accompanied by various threats and promises.
I wonder if it is all worth it.
Some will say a six year old should not have this sort of pressure. I would agree but the Cambridge Primary Review, widely reported in the Newspapers last week has yet to be adopted and my boy needs to keep up with his classmates. It’s not as if he can’t. He has the ability everyone says so, he just doesn’t seem to have the confidence nor the ‘right’ attitude to do it.
We praise him to the hilt when he tries, we proudly show off all his achievements but it’s like he doesn’t hear us. It just doesn’t bode well for the future.
And what of Bog Boy, the youngest? Well he I think is a major part of the problem. My littlest is a ray of sunshine. He smiles and everything is right. In fact his paternal Grandparents call him Smiler. It is so easy to fall for Bog Boy’s charm and he uses it ruthlessly to get whatever he wants. He’s a shocker. He’s also at 3, very forward, erudite and most importantly of all co-ordinated. It looks as though he’ll be one of those gifted people who go through life lightly, shedding joy and love and getting it back in heaps. I often look at him and just know life will treat him kindly and it is SO unfair. The Boy, is darker, more mercurial but he’s handsomer, quite possibly cleverer and when he smiles he’s devastating. He can be so engaging when he’s himself and it is heartbreaking to see him like this all twisted up and frustrated and just downright horrid.
He’s taken to doing things and blaming it on his brother. The other evening he peed against the sofa and then came to us saying Bog Boy had done it. Bog Boy was incredulous, he couldn’t believe his brother was doing this to him. Nor could I. This is the first time this has happened. Bog Boy loves his brother whole-heartedly and will follow him about and join in all the games and is very happy to be the baddie or the Daddy or whatever his Puck-like mentor decides. So this was a bit of a betrayal. A shock. It was pretty obvious what had really happened and The Boy was sent upstairs in disgrace. Leaving us at a loss. There were many tears and calls of unfair and try as we might we could not help The Boy to see that it was fair to send him upstairs.
I notice now that Bog Boy is using the same words as his elder brother but as yet without much conviction. He copies what his brother does to get attention especially when we are occupied  doing homework.
And I feel for him so desperately. I feel for them both and I’m tired, and I don’t know what to do. I can’t seem to make it better for my eldest. I certainly don’t want to make it worse.

Monday 12 October 2009

Freedom (or just getting away for the weekend)

I've been away. For the weekend, just 48 hours. Not long I grant you but a bit of an excitment for me.You see, I haven't been away in eight years. Well, I have but not on my OWN. There has always been hangers on until this weekend.
This weekend I drove North on my own - got there all in one piece, didn't get lost once, which is not exactly surprising as I was staying at my Mums' house but niether she nor my Dad were there so I still count it as a proper trip away.
It was odd really, I felt rather lightheaded and definatley unencumbered. But I was slightly edgy about it. I imagaine a wild animal, that had been kept for a while in captivity, might feel like I did over the weekend when finally  released.
And what did I do with my freedom? When I wasn't galavanting around Harrogate in the company of some very disreputable* but highly entertaining ladies, I was in my mother's clothes cupboard trying on dresses and shoes and  jackets and things. It was rather heady. I pranced and flounced about and giggled at myslef  in the long mirror and smacked great big red and magenta kisses on it in lipstick. But who was there to tell me off, no one. There wasn't anyone there to say I couldn't nor was there anyone there to laugh at me and say how silly.
It was just me.
I of course didn't spend the whole time in her wardrobe, I did check out the larder too. And oh, what a wonderful cornucopia it is. All the food I am forbidden by conscience to buy lined up in rows and stacked in piles. Heinz Macaroni Cheese - the smell of which I find so much more appetising than the taste. Hot dog Sausages, Kettle Crisps, Bahlsen Choco Leibniz biscuits, heavenly stuff. I had to keep sliding the door open and shut just to get that wonderful waft of forbiden-ness.
I draped my clothes everywhere and didn't bother to pick them up and I luxuriated in a bath of exotic smelling bubbles until my toes wrinkled.
I opened doors and drawers and boxes, poked and pried wherever my fancy took, which wasn't exactly far and for a moment before I had to rush around frantically trying to remember where everthing was kept before I had to rub out my presence from every room leaving it exactly as it was before,  I was a child again with no burden of responsibility. Free to do as I pleased.
And do you know what?
I HAD A BALL but the best bit was returning home again and being told I was missed. Of all the Birthday presents one could have had that was possibly the most precious I have ever been given.
(*I didn't say that did I? What I meant of course was delightlful, startling, amazing, entertaining company. And it was one of the best Birthdays I have had in years if I say so myself. So thank you Mountainear, Snailbeach Shepherdess, Withy Brook, Bodran, Faith, Patsy, Tiggywinkle, Elizabethm and the ever so stylish Kittyb. It was fab!)

Thursday 8 October 2009

Working from Home (A Little Ditty for National Poetry Day)


Is something I enjoy

I really shouldn't admit it

But when I start to settle down

To do my daily work

There are so many other things

That suddenly spring to mind

That I know that I could do

In a jiffy and a trice

But then again

I remind myself

I don't get paid for those.....

Have you got a ditty for National Poetry Day?

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Yeti Spotting (Part Two): The Low down on the Skoda Yeti

How can I say this? On first impressions it’s ..erm…it’s...Oh heaven! This is a low down right? You want my honest opinion? Well it doesn’t look as good as it does in the pictures. But that’s my opinion. Don’t they always say beauty is in the eye of the beholder?
Like meeting famous people for the first time - aren’t they smaller in real life. The same goes for the Skoda Yeti. In those wonderful adverts it looks a heck of a lot taller, sort of Land Rover size but it’s not. In fact at 5’3” I felt pretty tall next door to it, which is great when it comes to being able to reach the tail gate, though they have one of those strap things for that which you can get really clever with and swing it shut all in one move. Definitely cool but I reckon you could get caught out if you slam the door down on your Dog's tail –sorry it’s the sort of thing I would do! I’ll amend that, not so clever if you caught the hem of your dress then tried to walk away ripping it and then exposing yourself to innocent passers by in the supermarket car park.
However, you’ve got to get my frame of reference with regard to the Yeti. I am currently having a high old time with the Silver Dream Machine a VW Golf Estate Bluemotion and still grieving for my beloved Dora, my Land Rover Discovery; she was quite simply perfect. The sort of perfect that even though she cost me more than I could ever really afford, I would regularly brush that annoying fact under the carpet along with all the other bills I didn’t wish to see.

Dora was stately, she was a Grand Duchess, she had presence – the Yeti is just very nice, and sort of friendly and cuddly and all the things that go with it. A sort of eager personality whose name you keep forgetting.
However once inside you pretty much revise your opinion. It still isn’t pretty but it’s big and dare I say it, it is more comfortable than my old lady ever was. I can say that now as Dora no longer exists so won’t have any hurt feelings, though I feel a tad guilty one really shouldn’t speak ill of the dead or even scrapped.
The Yeti seems vast thanks to the incredible amount of headroom. Clever design details make it seem as if there is oceans of space when in fact it’s not much bigger than a VW Golf.
You sit incredibly upright in the front seat and that coupled with the fact that the pillars are offset on the windscreen compared to the Golf and Land Rover Discovery (Series I) means you feel a bit vulnerable and disconcerted sitting there even though the visibility is fantastic.
The back seats seemed a bit small and it was really tricky to put the Graco child seats in without having to haul them to one side to find the seat belt plug.
Could you put three of them (children not car seats) in the back - that would be cosy. I mean Dora the Disco was 1496mm wide and it was close encounters on the back seat in her, so with the Yeti being 1437mm across the rear it would definitely be squash and a squeeze!
Couldn’t say much about the drive as I could only go at 18mph tops and it would not have been appreciated if I took it off road. Not that the lovely people at Skoda would have minded but I daresay the park keepers at Woburn Safari Park would have been less than amused and for that matter so would the animals.

I didn’t get to play with it as much as I wanted though I was shown some great things to do with the rear seats when I get my hands on a Yeti of my own to toy with for a week in December.
I am now planning a whole host of things to do and the goodly people at Skoda are even going to add a tow bar so I can really see if I have found a worthy successor to Dora.

Pic shows: Getting familiar with a Yeti in a yeti!

Sunday 4 October 2009

Yeti Spotting (Part One)

Up until now I have kept work, blog and family fairly separate in that what I do in the confines of my office at home stays there. I don’t ask Dear Charlie to proof read or approve of what I do, though he has been known to stand over my shoulder in that really annoying way he has and breath. Not that I mind him breathing, I’d rather he continue to do so for quite some time but not in that way he has when he’s looking over my shoulder. I digress.
Until now things have been separate but the other week I got an opportunity to put myself forward to test drive the new Skoda Yeti. I honestly didn’t think it would happen but it did on Saturday. We went Yeti Spotting at Woburn Safari Park courtesy of lovely people at Skoda and drove the beast all the way round, twice!
I had many misgivings about the whole thing. From why? To please let my children behave. To don’t let me not make a complete fool of myself. To what on earth have I let my family and I in for? And, it really is a long, long way from home isn’t it? Though that one was said when we were stuck in traffic two hours from home with two extremely tiresome boys in the back just outside Bedford with only 15 minutes to go to get to our destination at the designated time. It was also the moment when Dear Charlie told me roundly to: “For good ness sake stop getting in a panic it’s not the end of the world.” Wherein I promptly snapped back at him waspishly and missed the turning completely. After a few minutes of heated debate and with two now very silent boys in the rear, we got back to where we went wrong and in utter silence we swept up the drive to the Safari Park.
It did not look as though the day would bode well until an awe struck voice from the back announced.
“This is awesome!”
Which suppose it was.
And then we were all chattering and bouncing up and down eager to be the first to spot the wild animals. The Boy claimed the prize as he pointed to a two legged 6’ something sheepskin rug that was waving at us. But it wasn’t until we got out of our car that he asked me what it was.
Me: “A yeti I suppose.”
Him: “A real one?”
Me: “Looks like it”
The Yeti waved again and caution to the wind my eldest skipped right up to it to take a closer look. It’s amazing how he does that so fearlessly. Within moments he was happily chattering away asking questions until he was satisfied that the Yeti was really truly real.
His younger brother was more cautious until he was asked which of the beautifully polished and sparkling Skoda cars in front he would like to drive in – there was no hesitation: “The Red One.”
It was said as reverently as Gollum from Lord of the Rings would talk about “My Precious” in reference to the last ring of the fellowship which he had possessed for 500 years before losing it to the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins.
It’s good to know that my sons are easily swayed by something as simple as an overgrown talking sheepskin rug or the colour of a car. But their joy and exuberance was infectious and I was coming round to thinking that perhaps the day was going to be OK after all.

Thursday 1 October 2009

Don’t take the Manneken Pis (or why Potty training alfresco can backfire)

There are some things you just wish that your children, or indeed anybody else’s children, would not do. Many of them are things you don’t want them to do in public such as spitting, tantrums or picking their noses.
My parents dislike my boys rather startling habit of peeing anywhere that takes their fancy. In their defence this follows on from the fact that neither of my two boys likes to wet themselves but I fear that this is a rather lame excuse especially when you see both of them trying to see who can pee the highest against the back wall. They look like two very naughty cherubs and frequently put me in mind of the Manneken Pis in Brussels.
When I holler at them to “Stop that right now!” it makes little difference and the result is an excited scream at being caught and much giggling and running round the garden with their pants down.
I have taken the rather lofty view now of not commenting at all as I anything I do to prevent them from continuing with this habit is immediately undermined by the fact that Dear Charlie does it too. No, I don’t mean he runs round the garden with his pants down giggling hysterically, which while endearing in the Under 6s would be rather unbecoming in a man in his 40s, what I mean is that my husband is partial to the odd alfresco pee. And herein lies the problem. How can I stop it?
My parents decided to take matters in to their own hands when they came to stay recently. They had just driven in after collecting Bog Boy and my eldest, The Boy, from nursery and school respectively, and were making their way to the front door when my eldest decided to see how far he could pee while standing on top of the Dumper that the builders had parked up by the side of the lawn.
Granny was NOT amused when she realised that what she thought was a spot of rain turned out to be something else and The Boy was frog marched inside and given a severe talking to. Dear Charlie and I were of course unaware of these events until we returned home and while he happily rummaged in the drinks cupboard for liquid refreshment I got the full details with both barrels, not once, not twice but three times – from both Granny and Grandpa.
Them, sternly: It really MUST stop. We don’t want animals as grandchildren
Me squealing: But what can I do?
Them: You must tell them to stop it. You must be firm
Me: I’ve tried that; they ignore me.
Them: You are just going to have to discipline them. You never did that sort of thing when you were a girl.
Me: But they are boys. Boys are different.
Them: There is no excuse for that behaviour!
I wanted to scream that it wasn’t my fault when it suddenly dawned on me that it wasn’t my fault at all. I wasn’t the one. That’s when Dear Charlie came back into the room smiley blithely.
DC: Everything alright?
They gave HIM a severe talking to…
The next morning The Boy visited his father just before breakfast and was told in no uncertain terms that piddling alfresco was just not done.
The Boy: But you do it Daddy. You taught me!
DC: decidedly uncomfortable with this truth: Well erm, well you have to do it discretely. But you should really use the loo.
The Boy: What’s discretely?
DC: You need to hide behind a tree or a bush or something so other people can’t see you.
The Boy: That’s Ok Daddy.
And with that the whole incident looked like it was sorted. However later, at the dining table, The Boy decided he needed to go to the loo.
The Boy: Please may I go to the Loo Daddy?
DC: Of course Boy. Off you go and don’t forget to wash your hands…
The Boy gets down and instead of heading for the loo goes straight to the French doors and heads outside.
DC: Boy! What ARE you doing!?
The Boy: I am going outside to practise being discrete…
As I said you can’t win….

Go on you know you want to...


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