Saturday, 22 November 2014

I (more than) get by with a little help from my friends

I'm blessed with some amazing friends - I'm more than usually aware of this tonight as I've been struggling this week to keep up with myself. The early starts and the rushing back from work so I'm in time to pick up our boy from school has been taking its toll. I started my new job last week and have already clocked miles travelling to Brighton, Liverpool and Oxford for meetings and conferences and this week Hubbie started his new job too. Our boy has been going to breakfast club and after school creche in order to accommodate our new busy timetable and we're all a bit shattered.

Yes. it's the actual Yellow Submarine !!

This evening as I popped out to get some bits and pieces from the shops I called an old friend - he's not old I've just known him a long time - to discuss the latest adventures in our household. When discussing the work situation he reminded me that this is an amazing opportunity for me to get some great experience and that it will take time for it to feel 'normal' for all of us, but it will happen. Rob and I have been friends for over 20 years and he knows me pretty well and there's no hiding from him when things aren't great. He's right of course. I'm feeling a bit crappy about it all because I'm worried about our boy coping with the new routine. I feel guilty because I'm not at home all the time to do the things I was doing before so the house is a mess and I have a constantly increasing to do list. I'm tired because even though I vowed to go to bed by ten it just doesn't happen.

When I got home from the shops I was rushing - as I seem to be all the time lately - and was very snappy with Hubbie. As if he'd realised why he mentioned that we could make some changes to our working patterns so that it wouldn't all feel so panicky for me. We discussed it further and I think we've come up with a pretty good solution that will enable me to work smarter. He is good like that and will always try to fix things to make it easier for me. Bear in mind that he has a pathological hatred of DIY and yet he made a late night trip to B&Q last night to sort out a curtain rail that had an unfortunate run-in with our 4 year old last weekend.

You see I consider Hubbie a friend too. Not the one I've know longest, but certainly one who is just as amazing as the others. I mean he knows how rotten I can be when it's been a while since I've eaten - or just because it's Monday - and he still chose to marry me. We both have to deal with our boy when he's being difficult and it does get trying, but we don't forget that we're friends underneath it all. I don't mean we're only friends - of course there's more to it than that. This is a PG rated blog though so I won't elaborate on that.


When I was a child my Mum used to criticise how close I was to my friends. She would say that I did far too much for them and that when they didn't reciprocate I would get hurt - she was only half right. You see some friends are like dominos - they lean on you and you in turn lean on others. Then there are the ones who know you so well that you don't even have to tell them the whole story. They just say the thing you need to hear or do something that you didn't know you needed. Like Neil doing a 'Smiley's People' style meeting this week over the road from my office. Or Gareth changing plans so he could join me and Hubbie for a gig at very short notice. Or Carole checking in with me to see how I am getting on in my new job. Or SJ putting the bollard down on her drive for us - no I'm not even going to elaborate on that.

What I've realised over the years is that great friends are the family you choose. The really good ones are priceless and if you're lucky enough to have someone who is both a friend and family then be thankful.

Yes, I'm talking about you Hubbie :)


Thursday, 20 November 2014

No, it's not sponsorship, I'm paying you to shave !!

If you know me but at all you will be aware that I have self-diagnosed pogonophobia. I hide it well, especially as living / working in London I often see Hipster men so I have to throw up a bit in my mouth avert my eyes from their misjudged facial hair choices. Well, I don't have to, of course, but it is so much easier than looking at them and wanting to say, "Why would you do that to yourself ? Do you not like your chin ?"

The only acceptable moustache - ever !
So, you can imagine how painful it is for me that every November we now have this phenomenon where (otherwise sane) men take part in Movember and I find myself with an involuntary desire to hand over surgical face masks to cover the offending articles. There is so much to dislike about temporary facial hair, from the flecks of ginger or white that make it look like they've just forgotten to wipe their face after eating, to the actual bits of food that are lodged there. I cannot understand why anyone would do it - honestly. Why not just use this fab app instead ? http://www.facetache.com

Well, ok I'll be honest I do know why and I've written about it before - back in 2011 I wrote this:

Something has happened to my male friends. They have replaced their normal photos on facebook (amusing cartoon depictions or ironic images) with what looks like those photos that are taken in shopping centres where you dress up as a person from the olden days. Not all of them are hirsute so this sudden need to grow facial fuzz is in some cases wildly disturbing. The ones who are naturally young looking now look like extras from Starsky and Hutch and others who are naturally hirsute now look like the station master from the Railway children. 

The reason is - of course - Movember (see link at end of blog) which seems to have captured the interest where other causes have feared to tread. The traditional charity donor is a woman, older and gives to a range of causes. This donor would give a small amount regularly while alive then leave her entire life savings in her will to an animal charity causing a lengthy probate dispute with her family who had no idea that the donkeys would get the proceeds from the sale of her bungalow. As these lovely donors die off charities have desperately tried to diversify their donor base and have had to come up with new ways to appeal for funds. 


In order to get men to donate to charity the challenge fundraising event was born and we have seen the walk along the Great Wall, the trek to the base camp of Everest or the cycle ride in Vietnam. This time, however, someone has hit on an idea so simple it is genius. Ask men not to do something and to get sponsored for it. I've lost count of the number of times a man has complained about having to shave, so the idea of not doing it must be like Christmas, New Year and England being in the World Cup Final all at once. 


I doubt any charity, however forward thinking is going to encourage women to grow hair for sponsorship. If they did we could look forward to the prospect of breast cancer charities publicising "pits for tits." Do you find waxing taxing ? Never fear, grow your hair and instead of being a social pariah you will be adored for being the wonderful fundraiser you are. Nah, I just don't see it. The most a man can expect to suffer is some mild ridicule for growing a moustache, a woman ditching the bleach and wax or going all Frida Kahlo is just going to look like she's neglecting her personal appearance.


For now I'm enjoying seeing the transition from respectable looking man to porn star to Burt Reynolds tribute act. Good luck to all my friends who are taking part in Movember and if you want to know more - go here: Movember 


Why ? Just why ? 

My feelings have changed very little even if 'Pits for Tits' still hasn't taken off, but I am assured that 'Vajanuary' is a thing and that's close enough.

I've decided this year that instead of encouraging this louche behaviour I'm only paying up as an incentive for the culprit to get rid of the facial fuzz.

Seriously I'm going to pay my male friends to shave !!

if you want to read my original blog post about Movember it's here.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Hang onto your wellies - we're getting into practice for Christmas at Coombe Mill

As you will already know my boy loves a farm and when one of his friends invited him to a party at a local farm we all jumped at the invitation. The weather wasn't looking too great when we left home for his Kung Fu lesson so we packed welly boots for everyone and hoped for the best.


We have been meaning to go to Godstone Farm for a while as so many of our friends love going there and it is a working farm that hosts children's parties and offers membership including after school visiting and you can book to spend 'a day being a farmer.' Of course we've been farm helpers at Coombe Mill so our boy is comfortable with the environment and was very excited.

Admiring the fish pond
Just before he fell in the mud !


When we arrived at the Farm the weather was clearing up a bit and as the first part of the party was in the soft play barn it gave the children a chance to run off some steam before the party antics and lunch. After they had been fed and sung happy birthday to Harry we all went to explore the farm and meet the animals.
Hey Mr Turkey 
Rosie the pig 






The Billy Goats Gruff waiting to be fed
Armed with small pots of animal food - and clear instructions not to feed the pigs or ponies we sought out signs imploring us to feed the animals. The feeding chutes were great and the children loved popping food pellets into the boxes and watching them fall down - mostly onto the head of a hungry animal !

Meeting the baby pigs 


Feeding through the chute
As well as roaming around meeting a lot of different animals there was also time to pet small animals which my boy really enjoyed. He was very gentle with this dwarf rabbit and kept telling me, "you have to stroke it gently Mummy." As well as taking great care to wash his hands thoroughly after feeding and handling the animals.

Animal handling 
Rabbit food
Godstone Farm is a welcoming place for families with so many opportunities for children to learn about the animals and to play and have fun. Our boy enjoyed it all the more as all his classmates from nursery were there too.

Checking out the chickens
We're going back to Coombe Mill for Christmas and can't wait to spend the festive period with lovely Fiona, Farmer Nick their fab family. Visiting Godstone Farm was a lovely reminder of how much fun it is to visit a working farm that is child friendly.

Getting in some practice
Oh and of course our boy is looking forward to helping drive Farmer Nick's tractor again.

I just love these tyres :) 

This post is being shared as part of the lovely #countrykids linky hosted by the fabulous Fiona of Coombe Mill 

 Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Sunday Sounds: Jesus and Mary Chain - Just Like Honey

The lovely Michelle of Purple Pumpkin Blog has started a linky called Sunday Sounds and with my love of music and legendary hated of Sundays this speaks to me :) 

For the inaugural linky I've chosen Jesus and Mary Chain Just Like Honey because me and Hubbie are going to see them this week when they perform the album Psychocandy for the first time in donkey's years. 


This album was a defining one for me. I heard it the Summer before starting sixth form and when I went back to school it was all about the indie music I'd just discovered that spoke to me and made my heart sing. It's such a shame I didn't know anyone else who liked it too, but thankfully I am now married to a wonderful man who loves it just as much as I do and we will be indie kids together on Wednesday night :) 

Sunday Sounds Linky Party

Thanks to Michelle at the Purple Pumpkin Blog for hosting this fab linky :)


Saturday, 15 November 2014

Yes son, Mummy was a rock chick and Daddy was an Indie kid


Tonight me and Hubbie went to watch the Wedding Present perform at the Clapham Grand in London. I'm pretty sure they were the first band we went to watch together (although Hubbie insists it was someone else I'm sticking to my theory). It was at the Concorde 2 in Brighton and we went with his lovely childhood friend Helen and her partner Jolyon. Sadly Helen passed away after a short and very rapidly progressing cancer diagnosis not long after that so we have especially fond memories of this gig.



In an homage to that first time we go to watch Dave Gedge and his band during the August Bank Holiday weekend when they take over the Concorde 2 for a mini festival called Edge of the Sea - yes he's missed a trick here by not calling it 'Gedge of the Sea' hasn't he ?


The reason I mention this now is that we love music and it's been a big part of our lives as a couple. Going to watch music together, playing music on our radio show and making music with our son is what makes us happiest. Before we were parents we could spend long hours wandering round record stores and pondering which tunes to play on long road trips. Now we are ordered to 'turn the music off Mummy, I can't hear my movie.'


So, when that holy grail of free babysitting and co-ordinating calendars happens upon us we grab the opportunity with both hands. Having the chance to go out and relive our misspent student years watching a band together gives us much needed relief from parenting a belligerent four year old. It also means that for one night at least we're not just Mummy and Daddy.

We get to be a couple of music-loving students again.

No we haven't been drinking - we really are this fuzzy :)

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Firefighters, fireworks, fluffiness and a silver deer

Last week my boy was very excited by some visitors to his school (if you look really closely you will spot him on the far left of this picture):

The Fire Engine has a welcoming committee 

He is such a big fan of firefighters that he also made a model of the fire station - I think it looks pretty amazing !

Lego fire station - with a fan for some reason

He made some 'fireworks biscuits' at school - I can't tell you what they tasted like as I didn't get one, but Daddy assures me they were delicious :)

No biscuits for Mummy :(
On Hubbie's birthday we went to a fireworks display and after years of him asking I finally let our boy get a glow toy. He was absolutely delighted with his 'Dragon Sword,' but we're not sure whether it's a light sabre or he's channeling the power of Greyskull (one for the teenagers there).

Now that stance means business !  

I've spent my time wisely too though - wrapping Neo in a big fluffy blanket. Shuttup he loves it !!

Obligatory cat pic - you are welcome :)
And on my walk to work this week I stopped for a moment to take in the scenery of Covent Garden's Christmas lights - if you look in the distance you'll spot a silver deer.

Early morning at the market

Normal service will resume when I'm not so exhausted - no idea when that will be though :)

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Don't mind me, I'm just losing my mind

So it started when I was swimming and I started to remember the things I've done wrong in all my previous jobs. I relived the bad feeling when I'd make mistakes and the resulting downturn in mood stayed with me long after I got out and dried off.

Then it was the random shouting for no reason at both long-suffering Hubbie and probably going to be scarred for life son. Ok, there is always a reason, but it's very rarely a good one.

Then I left my Oyster card somewhere and nearly lost my mind as I rummaged through my bag trying to find it. I always put it in the same place to make sure I never forget it so this was just baffling to me. Hubbie found it in the pocket of a jacket that I can't recall wearing this year. Nope, no idea.

Then I 'lost' my phone. Cue a day of running around trying to block it and panicking as I didn't have any of the addresses I needed for my day to go as planned. It had fallen out of my pocket onto the seat of a friend's car and as I peered in through the window I was relieved to have found it, but then worried that a passing opportunist thief would spot it too and it would be the cause of a break in. It wasn't and I got it back later - phew !

Then I was putting away shopping - admittedly in a rush - and in my haste I caught the bag that was sitting on the cooker top and everything went slow motion as I watched it fall off. I tried to catch the bag, failed and a large pot of mushroom sauce hit the ground - hard. On impact it shattered and went all over the floor, the cabinets, my legs... Well, to save time in the telling, it went everywhere.
Career woman

Sigh.

I have finally come to the conclusion that I am stressed.

Well, actually that I am panicking about my new job. The one that I start tomorrow. After being a stay at home parent with my son for the majority of his 4 years on this Earth. It's taken me over a year to get this job and I was starting to become convinced that it was ageism that was preventing me from returning to the workplace. I think that may have been part of it - after all I was under 40 the last time I was working full time and I wasn't a parent then either. This time I've been sorting out childcare and after school planning and organising how I'll travel to all the different locations for meetings while also making sure the boy gets to school, then home again and fed. 

My boy has spiralled out of control this week which has added to my woes, but he has clearly fed off my anxiety. I've talked to him about my going back to work and how things will be different, but he will still be the most important consideration for me and Daddy. I've been saying reassuring things, but it's inevitable that there is some fear of change for all of us.

Then at the end of the week I was exhausted from all the effort and had reached the end of my tether. I could not handle his belligerence any more. A bad incident at his school and yet another withering look from his class teacher and I was done in. I got down to his level and explained.
" I have to go to work my darling. I can't be at home with you any more."
"Why not Mummy ?"
"Because it's too much. You're at school all day so you don't need me, but you aren't being very nice right now and I need to be somewhere else and doing something else."
"Why Mummy ?"
"I've had enough honey. This week my brain hurts. It's making me get everything wrong. I've lost my phone, I've lost my Oyster and I feel like I'm going mad."
He looked at me and then put his arms around me.
"Why didn't you tell me Mummy ?"
"What do you mean Sweetie ?"
"You can tell me when things are going wrong Mummy."
I paused to process what my 4 year old boy was saying.
"Ok I will."
He looked me in the eyes earnestly and held my face - now damp with tears - in his little hands,
"Do you promise Mummy ?"
"Yes darling, I promise."

Right, I'm off to pack my bag for my first day.

*sniff*
And what about me eh ?