Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Mission Possible?


I have a mission. Shall I really choose to accept it? Well, here it is. It’s nothing trivial; I just want to change the world.  For the better, I should add.  (Erase from your mind any image you may have conjured up of me as a cat-stroking, scar-faced megalomaniac.  Well, not yet anyway.)  So how do I intend to address this ultra-important and massive task?  Well, let me be a tad more specific.

There is the ever-present danger of us all disappearing under our own rubbish and rot.  The world is reportedly getting hotter and the ice caps are slowly melting. Researchers say there is a very small chance that the seas around us could raise by a metre.  That’s quite a lot and we have already seen the devastation that flooding has made around the world.  The UK produces more than 100 million tonnes of rubbish annually, including 15 million tonnes of food. Much of this ends up in landfill.  So what does this continued exercise mean for the future?  My over-active imagination leads me to anticipate a landscape of rugged new mountainous regions where we will all need crampons and ropes to do our weekly shopping run.  This is no good for me.  As much as I love walking, I am, in fact, hideously afraid of heights and get a nosebleed going up my stepladders to clean my downstairs windows.


So how can we stop the rapid growth of rubbish-infused hillocks from appearing? Re-using stuff for one.  Although we can recycle a lot more plastic now, I still find myself with an ever-growing stack of trays of varying pattern and size.  Junk-modelling is still a firm favourite amongst us childcarers.  Many a time I have returned from school pick-ups with a double pram’s worth of cereal, bottle top and cardboard tube funnel creations.  Working with extremely small profit margins forces people like me to reuse lots and buy very little.  In fact, its months since I bought glue, instead making my own from flour and water.  Thanks to a childminding colleague, I now reuse my plastic milk bottles as watering cans after a minor adjustment to the lids. 
In fact choosing to be more environmentally friendly forces us to be more creative.  I recently made my own cosy den for the children using only resources I already had. Luckily, I tend to have things that I can use for a variety of purposes including lots of large pieces of fabric.  Granted, it took three attempts to get to the final, and most successful, version (i.e. one that didn’t collapse on entry) but that made it all the more fun to produce. (I do like a challenge!) It’s really satisfying to make your own stuff; almost as good as growing your own food.  I do like to own things I know are unique to me (and, believe me, there really isn’t anything in existence which resemble the things I make.) 

So the next time you go shopping and are tempted by the cheap buys (and I know what that’s like – I’m a sucker for a bargain) ask yourself if there is an even cheaper and more environmentally friendly alternative. I can guarantee the enhancement of the ‘F’ factor……… Fun!




Life Love and Dirty Dishes
Life Love and Dirty Dishes
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Saturday, 27 August 2016

It's All in the Name



 I have had the name ‘Baileys Blog’ for a while now and it was one that was given to me several years ago by a well-meaning editor. Having now seen the plethora of clever, enticing sites out there I thought it was time for a change. But what to choose?

The Merry Blogger. Use of the definite article is powerful. Cheery and upbeat and, in being so, isn’t at all like me. A blog has to ‘say what it is on the tin’, to misquote a now-famous phrase.
Cat Vomit and Conkers.  Humorous without being rip-roaringly funny which is how I see myself. However I think it would basically stop people viewing for fear of what they may see. 
Bath-time with Babycham. Reflects that fact that I am a parent blogger (as it has ‘baby’ in the title) and also that I am in need of a drink and a bit smelly…. so probably not, actually. Loving the alliteration - always good in a title.

More difficult than I thought, this.

Unicorns are Unisex. A great ‘right-on’ name as it refers to, what is usually, a female-laden object as being non-gender specific. Who am I kidding? I hate unicorns (and their unfathomable rainbow excretions.)
The Miserable Cow. Hang on, I could be on to a winner here. This exactly describes me most days. The language is a bit racy, though. Not sure my friends would approve.
Dressing Gowns and Tantrums. A bit risky this at it is a half-rhyme. Not sure I can get away with it. Accurately describes my household in the morning, though, with my reluctant-to-get-dressed teens.
Stop the Pram, I Want to Get Out! Any sentence with an exclamation mark has to be a winner!!!! Unfortunately, my experience with prams is currently on the decline on account of my children being a wee bit too old.
And the Little Dog Laughed. Always good to get a nursery rhyme in at any given opportunity. I don’t have a dog, however, and people may assume I have. Don’t want to be having any of those awkward exchanges about which flea powder is the best to use on a puppy.

This is hard! How do people come up with this stuff?

Fit, Fat and 21. No good.  I would have to change the blog name every birthday.
Mary Berry Fan Club. This could get me a few views. Initially. Followed, almost immediately, by bitter disappointment when people realise I have absolutely no idea how to make my muffins rise.
Wombats and Dingbats. What’s a dingbat?
Singing from the Same Hymn Sheet. Nope.

My brain’s working overtime here….
How about…

Early Middle-aged Woman with Grumpy Teenagers and a Moderately Naughty Cat Blog (?)

Get in!




R is for Hoppit

Sunday, 21 August 2016

You Are Where You Go

Picture the scene.  You inexplicably find yourself, after years of working full-time and travelling, in a house all day in an area you barely know with people around you who are virtual strangers and with an adorable, yet regularly screaming, child you really don’t know what to do with. Sound familiar? This was me 20 years ago. I was not alone. Regrettably I didn’t know this at the time and when hormones are raging strongly and sleep is but a distant memory, your self-esteem can take a real hammering even for a comparatively confident person like myself.

Huggle would have changed all this. If I had been told all that time ago that there was a way of finding out where people just like me go and where I could meet up with them, I would have bitten their hand off.

I thought I was organised. Being the first of my friends and family to give birth in a long time, I knew nothing about looking after an infant. I read books and magazines and prepared myself thoroughly.  What I hadn’t catered for was how I would feel after the birth and what my life would actually be like.  I had already decided that I would be a stay-at-home mother. Great! Getting up when I wanted and sauntering through the day at my own pace - it would be like a holiday. (So na├»ve!) However, years of travelling and using my  home as a veritable crash pad meant that I knew absolutely no-one in my immediate neighbourhood. My nearest family was 50 miles away and all my friends worked full-time.  In short, I didn’t see anyone regularly for the first month I was at home.  I started hanging out in parks to see who else may be in the same position. I felt lonely and isolated.


 Although I didn’t appreciate it at the time, I am not the only one to have had this experience. One mother recently highlighted what I now know is a typical feeling:-

The hardest thing of all was accepting that my friends and work colleagues were not accessible to me on a daily basis as their lives hadn’t stopped for this big event, only mine had. So on top of all this I now had to make friends all over again, when I was more desperate to have communication with other mums but when I felt least like myself so I am sure I came across as neurotic and desperate!”

Huggle would have changed all that. The social app works by tracking where you go and is deadly accurate.  Even if it doesn’t get it exactly right, you can change it to an alternate location from the list given. I tested this out recently and discovered that it can even detect which platform you are on at the train station - amazing! Going back to the younger me, having the app would have meant that I could have checked which people were visiting the parks (and anywhere else) I was going to in a quick and easy way without any of those awkward fake conversation starters like:-

“Ooh, I have never seen such an adorable baby”

(Not true - your baby is always the most gorgeous.)

Also:-

How lovely - what’s his name?”

(About your daughter.)

And the unforgettable:-

“Do you come here often?”

Instead, Huggle would have immediately got me to the local meet-ups and drop-ins that took me an age to uncover and wheedle my way into. (You don’t have to be Sherlock Homes to be a first-time mother but it helps.)

Fast-forward 5 years on when I moved into a new area, with 3 children under 5 years of age, and found myself in almost exactly the same position. This time it wasn’t just the parks I was looking longingly for people to relate to (whilst clambering up small trees to rescue children caught on a branch) it was school playgrounds too. Accessing the ‘Places in Common’ part of the app means that you can easily identify parents similar to you. (It uses the premise that people who go to similar places may have stuff in common which is a real step-up from striking up a conversation with someone randomly.)

And now? Accelerate ahead another 15 years and I now find myself desperately trying to find a way of helping my socially anxious teenager transition to university. Please, Huggle, show me the way!  

Sunday, 14 August 2016

I’m in Love With an Inanimate Object




I have a confession to make. I’m in love with in inanimate object and I’m not talking about my partner during the football season. I mean a machine. The object of my latest desire? An upright vacuum cleaner. It wasn’t love at first sight.  I wasn’t even looking for a new sweetheart.  But as soon as I tried it - wham, bam! It hit me straight between the eyes.

I was quite happy with my existing vacuum - also a Dyson. Unfortunately sheer old age and overwork had rendered it incapacitated.  It was sad. The good-looking upright was loyal and compliant and got me out of many a sticky situation - literally; like the multitude of times I dropped flour all over the floor and found pet hair adorning my favourite chair when we didn’t even have a pet. (I never did get to the bottom of that problem.) It always stepped up to the mark and consistently kept my places and spaces free from dust, grime and muck.


We decided to try another brand - surely now, with all the wonders of modern technology, there were other makes out there which were up to the same level as said contraption? So off we went, determined to save a few pennies and get something equally as good. When we got to the store, we stepped up to try several new models. One we wrecked, another defeated us and a third was so heavy I could barely lift it off the extremely low shelf……  And then we saw it, beckoning towards us looking tall, sleek and elegant.  I didn’t need to try it in-store, I just knew it was the one for me. On returning home, I couldn’t wait to rip open the box and indulge myself in its overwhelming delights; the bold colour, the ingenuity of the attachments and the shining cherry on top of the cupcake - the Ball. 


The latest Ball technology was totally new to me and I have to admit to expecting it to be a bit gimmicky. As soon as I plugged it in this myth was dispelled. The Ball is definitely it’s most beautiful feature: It gets into all the nooks and crannies without the need for constantly reaching for an attachment. It  gets under, round, between and through all known obstacles with absolute ease.

It can’t be all good, surely? is something a friend of mine commented when I went all gooey explaining my latest fascination.  Nothing is perfect and if I was to pick on something it would be the weight.  It is definitely heavier than my last model.  Having said that, my glass is always half full rather than half empty, and I see the weight as a positive. Not only does it appear more robust than my last Dyson but it has the added bonus of any vacuuming time being a chance for a home-spun workout for all you gym-haters out there, myself included. I just need to perfect the art of utilising both arms so that I have evenly proportioned biceps.


What is this source of wonderment and desire? It’s boringly called; the Dyson DC40 Multi Floor.  Don’t let this put you off. Keep a look out for offers. (We got £100 off ours, for example.) Good luck and happy swooning!











I’m in Love With an Inanimate Object




I have a confession to make. I’m in love with in inanimate object and I’m not talking about my partner during the football season. I mean a machine. The object of my latest desire? An upright vacuum cleaner. It wasn’t love at first sight.  I wasn’t even looking for a new sweetheart.  But as soon as I tried it - wham, bam! It hit me straight between the eyes.

I was quite happy with my existing vacuum - also a Dyson. Unfortunately sheer old age and overwork had rendered it incapacitated.  It was sad. The good-looking upright was loyal and compliant and got me out of many a sticky situation - literally; like the multitude of times I dropped flour all over the floor and found pet hair adorning my favourite chair when we didn’t even have a pet. (I never did get to the bottom of that problem.) It always stepped up to the mark and consistently kept my places and spaces free from dust, grime and muck.


We decided to try another brand - surely now, with all the wonders of modern technology, there were other makes out there which were up to the same level as said contraption? So off we went, determined to save a few pennies and get something equally as good. When we got to the store, we stepped up to try several new models. One we wrecked, another defeated us and a third was so heavy I could barely lift it off the extremely low shelf……  And then we saw it, beckoning towards us looking tall, sleek and elegant.  I didn’t need to try it in-store, I just knew it was the one for me. On returning home, I couldn’t wait to rip open the box and indulge myself in its overwhelming delights; the bold colour, the ingenuity of the attachments and the shining cherry on top of the cupcake - the Ball. 


The latest Ball technology was totally new to me and I have to admit to expecting it to be a bit gimmicky. As soon as I plugged it in this myth was dispelled. The Ball is definitely it’s most beautiful feature: It gets into all the nooks and crannies without the need for constantly reaching for an attachment. It  gets under, round, between and through all known obstacles with absolute ease.

It can’t be all good, surely? is something a friend of mine commented when I went all gooey explaining my latest fascination.  Nothing is perfect and if I was to pick on something it would be the weight.  It is definitely heavier than my last model.  Having said that, my glass is always half full rather than half empty, and I see the weight as a positive. Not only does it appear more robust than my last Dyson but it has the added bonus of any vacuuming time being a chance for a home-spun workout for all you gym-haters out there, myself included. I just need to perfect the art of utilising both arms so that I have evenly proportioned biceps.


What is this source of wonderment and desire? It’s boringly called; the Dyson DC40 Multi Floor.  Don’t let this put you off. Keep a look out for offers. (We got £100 off ours, for example.) Good luck and happy swooning!











Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Brexit and Beyond




There are a number of things I learnt from Britain’s recent decision to leave Europe.  The obvious ones have been discussed and discussed again many times over so I won’t be covering the tediously obvious.  Instead I want to look at what has specifically rocked the ‘World of Teen’ aka my household.

Us v Us
Fortunately ours is not one of those families who have argued so incessantly with each other over recent events that they are no longer giving each other the time of day. (Expecting sometime in the not-too-distant future Jeremy Kyle’s studios to be brimming over with disaffected adult offspring and disappointed middle-aged parents clamouring to justify their opposing opinions.)

Children Behaving Gladly
Having said that it is a family which has markedly changed since the Brexit campaign achieved momentum.  First and foremost it has made my 3 grumpy, and often silent, teenagers to be more politically aware.  Politics, for them, had previously been a sombre affair. (Dare I even say boring?) Usually, eyebrows ever-so-slightly raised when a national election rolled round but, other than that, it was never really hinted at let alone debated.


Imagine my incredulity when, immediately following the result, my youngest child announced that he found ‘Question Time,’ and I quote; “interesting.” (I personally didn’t find the programme remotely watchable until I was 30.)  In fact both my boys lapped up hours of news coverage both before and after the vote.  They even conducted their own internet-centred research on what both sides of the campaigns’ strength and weaknesses were and soon formed their own opinions on what they thought was the correct move.

Voting Virgin
My previously immovable daughter’s determination to avoid the mention, as well as the action, of voting melted away into determined capitulation. She quite happily accompanied me to the polling station and, after an extremely quick tutorial in how not to jigger up your ballot paper, she victoriously sidled out of the room with a contented smile on her face.

Reasoned Arguments

To put this into context, whereas previously my children had quite unhappily squabbled over and got their knickers in a twist about, what I deem as, highly unimportant matters such as; who has drunk all the milk? Where’re my socks? And, the unforgettable; I am not going into college today! Now my children were in hot debate about the future of the country and all those residing in it.

This was a real wow moment for me as not only did it mean that my children were finally growing up (whatever that means) but they were actually taking a genuine interest in the political world around them. What next? Joining a political party? Becoming an MP? Being Prime Minister?

“Now, come on Mum…”

Responded my eldest son when I put this idea to him,

“Let’s not get carried away.”