28 April 2012

Crystal Ball anyone?


I'm generally not into fortune telling and all that but I really need a crystal ball. Now.

Changes are afoot, these changes could be huge and could impact us greatly.

The husband wants to take a risk. I don't. I want security and the knowledge that the mortgage will be paid every month with money to spare. We are bickering about what to do. He says I'm negative. I don't see much to be positive about though.

I have my dreams but I'm also realistic. Maybe I'm too serious. Maybe I'm too boring. Maybe life is too short and one day I will look back and regret not trying something new. Maybe in ten years time I will look back and think 'Why the hell did we do that?'

I have a headache thinking about it.

Crystal Ball anyone?


23 April 2012

The great gig meme in the sky

I've been tagged in a meme that requires a great deal of cranking up of the old brain cells and diving into the box of memories in my head. Musodad started it off with a guest post here and I've been tagged by Mutterings of a fool. It's a great meme as it involves one of my favourite things - live music. I have to tell you about my first gig, worst gig, best gig, last gig and dream gig and somehow add them to a Spotify playlist - I can tweet @musodad to do this for me, phew. So after some gentle cranking here is my list:

First Gig

Sheesh, this took some thinking about to pinpoint my very first gig as I went gig crazy in the early nineties. I am certain though it was EMF at the University of East Anglia and I have a sneaking suspicion they were supported by Carter USM. I definitely saw them play together at some point but am not completely sure it was my first gig. I am annoyed I never kept all of the ticket stubs I collected through my teenage years. Anyway it must have been 1991 and I have clear memories of being very chuffed to get served at the bar - Scrumpy Jack anyone?

EMF - Unbelievable

Worst Gig

I've never been to a gig where I've left thinking 'what a complete pile of tosh' but seeing Oasis play in Boston USA at the Orpheum Theater in 1995 was a bit of a letdown as Liam was a complete tit and stormed off stage. Saying that, I prefer Noel anyway.

Oasis - Champagne Supernova

Best Gig

Simply because of who they are it has to be The Killers at Hyde Park in 2011. It was the first time I had seen them - hopefully not the last - and they were supported by one of my other favourite bands, James, who I saw in the good old nineties too. The weather was crap, they should have played for longer and the volume should have been louder but I don't care as I'm biased.

The Killers - For Reasons Unknown

Last Gig

I'm in shock that my last gig - I'm not including festivals - was last July when I dragged my husband to Cornwall for a mini break purely so I could see Brandon Flowers at the Eden Sessions. This was a great venue for getting a good eyeful of the delectable Mr. Flowers - my husband just about put up with it.

Brandon Flowers - Jilted Lovers & Broken Hearts

Dream Gig

This isn't an easy part to complete as I've seen so many of my favourite artists and when it says Dream Gig I feel it should be someone I am desperate to see or am gutted to have missed. I'm going to trawl through my CDs to see if there is someone blatantly obvious I never got to see or have yet to see. Back in a mo...........

.....going back to the nineties again then I would have liked to have seen Pulp. I don't think they are my Dream Gig though just someone I missed catching live.

Pulp - Babies

So, do you have a Dream Gig? Someone will probably say an artist now that would be mine!

I'm going to tag Mum of One and Cat's Yellow Days as I know the pair of them have enjoyed some pretty fine live music!


20 April 2012

Back to work - the good, the bad and the ugly!

So, I have successfully completed my first week at work. I am no longer a SAHM and the house is still standing, the children aren't psychologically damaged and the world hasn't stopped turning. AND, I haven't felt guilty about my decision.

I have just been sitting here quietly, whilst Alban chills in the front room with a DVD - wasn't he doing that in a past post?! Bad parent! - thinking about this past week. I had panics about returning to work. I had panics about changing Alban's preschool setting this late in the academic year. I had panics about abandoning Edith to Breakfast Club. The usual things to get my knickers in a twist about. I know it's only been a week but already I have found some pros and cons to going back to work. Here they are:

The Good

I feel like a person again, not just a mother and a housekeeper. I have valued the time so much as a SAHM but I needed a change.

I can put my past training to good use. I am a trained primary school teacher and am now working as a TA so I feel I am actually contributing my skills and knowledge again.

I love being a TA. I knew I would love it and it feels great being back in a primary school but with the weight of teaching stress removed from my shoulders.

The Bad

Alban is shattered. He crashed out for two hours on Tuesday afternoon but I know he will soon get used to the earlier starts and new routine. We are only getting up 40 minutes earlier and I have shifted his bedtime - the lazy toad.

People tootling along at 40mph along the derestricted roads. GET OUT OF MY WAY, I AM TRYING TO GET TO WORK ON TIME. I hate being late.

Stressing out about the drop off at preschool / drop off at Breakfast Club / drive to school. The nursery car park is a complete pig and is far too small for the morning rush so we get there 10 minutes early and wait in the car. Sad I know. But, I hate being late.

Stressing out about parking at work. The car park is very tight and the spaces are all angled back on themselves so you have to do some snifty manoeuvres to reverse in in order to get out again. Things like this make me worry. I seriously need to calm down a bit.

The upcoming realisation that I will be working more hours throughout the week and taking home less money than I did teaching for 2 days a week.

The Ugly

Mmmmmmmm. Errrrrrrrr. Erm. Nope. I can't think of anything.

Oh, here's one - when Edith and Alban are feeling under the weather and I'll have to make the decision to send them to school or have to take a day off work. That's when I'll start to feel guilty either way.

How have you felt if you are back at work after being a SAHM?

SAHMs - do you want to go back to work?

Working mums - do you regret your decisions?

I would love to hear your comments.

x x x


15 April 2012

One Fest

Brrrr. It was a cold one but I'm back having survived a freezing cold night in a tent camping at the Barge Inn, Honeystreet, Wiltshire.

How small is that tent?!

The reason for this craziness was the official first music festival of the year, One Fest. Yes! That means summer is just around the corner. There was no sign of it anywhere yesterday with parka coats, boots and woolly hats as the sensible festival wear of choice.

One Fest is a small gathering in a field near Marlborough so if you want to sink a few ciders travel arrangements are best planned in advance. We had booked ourselves on a coach from the Barge Inn to the festival site for £10 return, and following an initial panic that they hadn't booked us in we were off. Upon arrival the site did look very small with everything in one enclosed space. As well as the main stage there was the BBC Intoducing... Tent, Bar Tent - very important, coffee vans, a few food outlets and some stalls. It was a safe environment for children with limited opportunities to get lost but I was glad I had made this an adult only trip as there wasn't much there to keep them occupied.

To warm up, and stop my belly from grumbling, we headed to a food tent, The Hungry Elephant(?), for my first ever cup of Chai - amazing stuff - and a plate of Chilli Bean Nachos.



Festi-food tent!

The music was shared between two stages and after checking out the main stage we went to warm up in the BBC Introducing... Tent. These sorts of festivals are great to check out upcoming bands and singers, and to hear new material from more established artists. I really enjoyed these artists:

 Young Blood

 Gaz Brookfield

Michele Stodart - from the Magic Numbers

Clearly another thing to enjoy at festivals is the cider.

 A refreshing pint of Bounders.

And my favourite Kopparberg.

It didn't seem too long until it was time for another festival must have....

 ...waiting for it....
Looks like I need it to soak up that earlier cider.

As the evening drew on it got colder and colder so we watched Michele Stodart in the BBC tent then headed out to check out Damon Albarn's latest musical production Dr Dee. This was an interesting one. I love Blur and The Gorillaz and think Damon Albarn is a great singer but this was something very different. Dr Dee is a classical / operatic / modern infusion which would have been great on a warm Summer's afternoon but as a headliner on a cold April night it didn't quite work for me.

We chilled some more in the Hungry Elephant tent then as a fantastic end to the night went for a Hoedown in the music tent. This warmed us up perfectly for the coach ride back to the coldest night I have ever spent in a tent!

I'm going to leave you with some lovely festi-pics.

I'm now making plans for my next festival.
How about you?
x x x

13 April 2012

Saturday is Caption Day

Happy Saturday to you.
I found the Easter Bunny lurking in my shack last Sunday.
Any idea what Alban and the bunny were up to?

SatCap it for me and make it a good 'un.

Find more at Mammasaurus.

I'm out on a rare day off at OneFest so I will catch up with your SatCaps tomorrow.


x x x



The Voice Within

Ah, a meme. A meme designed to get into our heads and expose our daily mutterings. The Voice Within asks us to reveal ten things that we say to ourselves / out loud during the day. Adventures of a Middle-aged Matron kindly tagged me in this one so after a bit of thinking about it here is what I splurt on a daily basis.

Oh For Goodness/Gods/F@#k Sake - delete according to mood and who is in earshot. This is probably my top muttering and I have just said it one minute ago whilst trying to highlight some text on here. FYI I said the last choice. *gasp*

Where the hell is it? Book bag, drink bottle, potato peeler...whatever I need at that very moment and it isn't there.

Hang on a minute Usually to the children when they need me to do something. Sometimes, for variety, it is "Hang on a sec"!

Come on Most of time directed to Alban who is one of life's dawdlers. He always needs a minutes head start on everyone else. I forget to give him a minutes head start so am repeatedly getting at the poor chap with that one.

Mummy just needs to finish this 'work' Yes, that's right, mummy 'works' on her computer at home sometimes. (I think we all know what I mean by work don't we?! Shhhh, don't tell my children what I'm really up to.)

Find it yourself Mummy where's my coat? Where's my rabbit? Where's my Octonaut toy? Where are my marbles? Ha!

If you want something done do it yourself One for the husband! Usually after asking for the umpteenth time for a household job to be done. You know what I'm on about.

How many times have I said....? Moan, moan, moan.

Am I the only person who knows how to wash up around here? It seems I am. No one else seems to understand how the taps, washing up sponge and Fairy Liquid combo work. Clearly there is a magic fairy who swishes the dirty plates back into the cupboard.

The laundry bag is right there Yes, right there. Look. Next to your pile of clothes you have just removed from yourself.

Jeez, I have just realised that I am a seriously grumpy cow. I need to find some more positive things to say myself!

I'm going to tag Bod for Tea, Life, As I Know It & Motherventing to see what words of wisdom they spout.

And as for you, dear reader, tell me, what is your most common daily muttering?
x x x

12 April 2012

The festival season is here!

So, it's that time of year again. Time to open up the loft hatch and be attacked by cobwebs for the yearly game of Where are the bloody sleeping bags?! Time to air out the tent and check for any damage from when it was put away rather too quickly on a damp morning at the end of last years camping. Time to pack the cans of cider and pull out the festival hat. Yes folks, the music festival season is officially upon us. And it kicks off just up the road from me, near Marlborough, with the festival that is.....One Fest. And I'm going. Huzzah!

Here's the lineup:

It's only a one day festival but myself and my friend have decided to get into the true festival spirit and we will be camping at the Barge Inn pub in Honeystreet - the original site of the Honeyfest festival, as it was previously known. Apparently this a favoured pub for Druids and mystical types so I may return as a barefoot UFO seeking hippy. Who knows?!

Anyway, I am so looking forward to 24 hours or so away from home. I know it is only going to be 1c overnight in the tent so I will be packing duvets and blankets - or I'll just drink myself into a deep sleep. But it is supposedly meant to be dry with a little peek of sunshine on Saturday so hopefully no need for a pesky umbrella. Whatever the weather I am going to have a day and night of intellectual adult conversation - well it may go a bit silly once a few ciders have gone down- live music and chilling out. I may even get myself a 'mystic massage'.

I will let you know how it all went when I get back!

x x x



11 April 2012

Feeling Grateful - #ONEMums

I've just returned from dropping Edith off at a friend's house in the lovely village of Lacock. It was an amazing house and I would be lying if I said I didn't have a little twang of envy as I drove into the driveway. I'm back home now, a home that is feeling a little bit more spacious now the in laws have gone - I said a little bit more spacious, I am still grumbling about my house. However, I have just received a tweet from Michelle at Mummy From The Heart, that drew my attention to this: ONE.org. And that got me thinking about how grateful I really should be in this life.

When Edith was born I had a hell of a time trying to breastfeed her. She didn't latch on properly, I let her feed like this, I got really poorly with mastitis because of it. I persevered with expressing milk using a clean, safe, sterilised pump, that I could put into clean, safe, sterilised bottles to ensure she got some of the good stuff before I caved in and went to Sainsbury's to buy a vat of Aptamil. And she thrived - she was fortunate to be born in a country that had safe options.

Unfortunately not all babies have this opportunity to thrive. In Africa a new mum cannot simply pop to Sainsbury's to pick up some formula, they might not have the access to the safe, clean, sterilised equipment that I had, their own breast milk could be passing on the HIV virus and the medical staff are not just a quick phone call or ten minute drive away.

This makes me feel fortunate. I am glad to live in a country where I have been able to ensure my babies thrive. Yes, I am known to moan and vent about things in my life - who doesn't?! - but today I am stopping and thinking about the things I am grateful for. Mostly these two...

Michelle and the Thrive Campaign are asking us to help:

Sign up to ONE.org
If you have your own blog write a post and link up here
Tweet about the campaign #LetsThrive

Thanks for reading.
x x x

9 April 2012

A light & fluffy post: Candy Floss

Some of my recent posts have been full of rants and moans so I told Twitter my next one would be a light and fluffy one.
And what's lighter and fluffier than Candy Floss?

Look, there are candy floss tornadoes that chase you across open fields - I did not know that until tonight.

It comes in a rainbow of colour choices.

And you can rip it apart with your hands and feel it melt in your mouth.

Let's forget for a moment about its high sugar content and celebrate the lightness and fluffiness of candy floss.

What light and fluffy item would you like to see in my next installment of Light & fluffy?
x x x

The in laws and the need for space

The in laws arrived on Wednesday and moments like that always present a bucketful of pros and cons. Top of the pro list is it means we have babysitters. I have occasionally regularly grumbled on Twitter about the frustrations of having no family nearby to help out so the husband and I have been able to leave the house on our own. The father in law (FIL) has helped the husband put up a fence and make huge advances in the battle of the garden. The mother in law (MIL) has fixed holes in Alban's trousers and beaten me to the pile of washing up after each meal time. All good so far. HOWEVER.........

A big issue I have with seeing the in laws is that it is always at our house. My FIL made the decision to leave England and buy a wreck barn to renovate in the middle of nowhere in France. Actually, wreck is a pretty good choice of word. So we cannot go and see them anymore for a break and change of scenery. They always come to us. I have a big issue with space and we have a severe lack of it in our house. It doesn't take long until we are all bumping into each other, desperate for the toilet at the same time, telling the children different things and needing our own little bit of breathing space. Eventually I want to SCREAM.

The husband and I thought we had come up with a reasonable solution for space - extend the house at the back with a simple kitchen/diner extension and turn the existing box of a kitchen into a downstairs loo and small utility. This would also mean our current lounge could be used as an extra room - a spare room for visitors which would give everybody a bit more space.

Now, according to the Government, we are wealthy. (This judgement was discussed in this post from Mutterings of a Fool who summed up my feelings well) My husband earns enough to be taxed at a higher rate and we will take a huge cut in Child Benefits next year. I'm returning to work next week so we thought our income situation may put us in a good position to borrow some extra with our current mortgage to improve our living space and make life easier at home. The reality was different. I rang the Halifax who made an appointment for us knowing full well their mortgage advisor was not at work that day (?!) so we ended up being told, rather patronisingly over the phone, that we could not borrow any money. Not once were we asked about our income but were judged on the value of our house and our current mortgage - amazingly Halifax valued the house over the phone (again ?!) 20k less than the local estate agents. So, the Government see us as wealthy, the banks see us as a financial risk. Head. Wall. Bang.

Anyway, back to the in laws. The Halifax meeting made me even more frustrated with our space issues and then I started feeling resentful towards the in laws that they buggered off to the France and put all the pressure on us and our house to get together as a family. I am banging my head against the wall as there is no way for us to get some space added to our house. I am banging my head against the wall as I am fed up with being classed as well off due to my husband's income, regardless of the fact I currently earn nothing and when I return to work will be earning a low salary. I am banging my head against the wall with frustration at friends earning more as a joint income, losing nothing and being able to borrow big mortgages to buy big houses.

I am worried about how resentful and rarrggghhhhhh I have become.

Maybe my FIL is onto something leaving the country?



4 April 2012

Technorati post - please ignore

Technorati post - claim code



3 April 2012

April days in the garden

The sun has been shining so the garden is being enjoyed.

The den has, thankfully, kept the children busy.

The garden is, thankfully, keeping me sane.

It's one of my favourite places this time of the year.

Here's why...

Decorations in the Den

Pretty Bunting

A place for the fairies

Flying fish


An ageing Boris

x x x

1 April 2012

#pinaddicts challenge no. 3 - iPad cover


It's month 3 of the #pinaddicts challenge and April sees the lovely Sew Scrumptious hosting the linky.

The #pinaddicts challenge works as follows:
Pin to your #pinaddicts board on Pinterest.
Choose something to make for the challenge.
In your post put the original image with original links.
Post your fantastic effort at recreating.
Link up and go and check out the other #pinaddicts!

#pinaddicts challenge no.3 - iPad cover
This month I returned to my sewing machine to make a cover for my iPad.

I was inspired by the following two pins on my #pinaddicts board.

iPad sleeve tutorial: Velcro or button closing

ipad cover.

I really liked the zipper on the above design but my basic sewing machine does not have a zipper foot - time for an upgrade I think! So I took the elements from each tutorial that I could do and mashed them together.

I found some gorgeous fabric from www.fabricrehab.co.uk and set to work.

For the outer sleeve I used two pieces of fabric cut to 10.5" x 8.5" and interfacing the same size.
For the inner sleeve the fabric was cut to the same dimensions.
For the flap I used two pieces of fabric and one piece of interfacing 3" x 3".

All the parts were made by placing right sides together with interfacing pressed inside. The two long sides and one short side were sewn on the flap and the outer sleeve. For the inner sleeve a 3" opening was left at the bottom.

A piece of velcro was attached to the outer sleeve and the flap pinned to the opposite side:

This piece was then put inside the inner sleeve - inner sleeve is inside out at this point.
The seams were pinned and the sleeves sewn together around the top opening.

Then the outer sleeve was pulled through the opening in the inner sleeve like so:

The opening in the inner sleeve was sewn up and the sleeve was tucked into the outer sleeve. Then the top opening was sewn around again and a final piece of velcro attached to the flap:

And it was all done!

What do you think?

x x x

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