My daughter is four.
She is witty and clever and sweet and oh so very young!
She has been invited to a party tomorrow and she has been excited.
Until she got into the car after school today. She announced that she needed to wear makeup to the party. I told her absolutely not and so she told me she needed to wear nail varnish (I do not even own any). She explained that she needed to have really nice hair and that she needed to look really, really, really, really, really pretty. And then she burst in to floods of tears.
It is not an understatement when I say I felt sick with horror and anxiety.
The pressure for her to conform is already strong enough for her to worry about how she should look for a party…. At four years old!
I didn’t think we would have these conversations for a long time to come.
How do I make her understand that how she looks is not the only currency that she has?
How do I, as a parent give her confidence?
How do we make our girls comfortable in their own skin?
This conversation will probably be forgotten by her until the next time. But for me it will be forever imprinted on my brain.
I feel as though that beautiful, childish innocence is already being eroded and I feel utterly helpless in the face of it.
My town is not a looker.
She’s not massively into her appearance. But she has something about her. She’s got grit!
Wolverton is like the scrappy younger sister to the older, prettier Stony Stratford.
Built to house the railway workers 175 years ago, Wolverton in many ways has always been quite a utilitarian town. With rows upon rows of Victorian terrace houses, it can look quite grey.
The Costa in Tesco was the most exciting thing to happen in recent years.
But…..A new tearoom has appeared. It is in walking distance and it is not at then end of the tills in a busy Supermarket.
Lula Bops Tearoom could not fail to lift the spirits, even on the coldest and greyest of days.
Laura and her team are as bright and bubbly as the decor, which is kitsch and mis-matched and pastel coloured. And many of the items you see are for sale.
There is a tea trolley full of odd cups and saucers just waiting to be filled with the tea of your choice and there is a wide selection of cakes.
I chose to have a pot of Earl Grey tea and a slice of coffee and walnut cake which came to the grand total of £3.40.
They also do afternoon tea which includes a slice of cake, scones with clotted cream and finger sandwiches. There is a lunch menu too!
Children are welcome and there is a box of toys for them to tinker with while you sip on Assam and catch up with friends.
Laura has injected some much-needed prettiness and sunshine into this little old town. It’s fab.
It’s just a shame this wasn’t here a year ago. My Grandma would have loved it.
A few weeks ago my hubby found £5 on the street. We put it on the mantlepiece and vowed not to touch it.
I managed for several weeks not to spend it on wine or cake or any other essentials and instead I put it towards our Christmas shoe boxes.
Last year the children and I decided to take part in Operation Christmas Child. I thought that it would be a good way for them to think about other children who may suffer a harder life than themselves.
The children are both quite sensitive to the plight of those less fortunate and were very enthusiastic about the idea, helping me to choose what we should put inside our boxes.
Although we are not religious ourselves, it is an amazing charity that sends shoeboxes full of gifts to disadvantaged children around the world. None of the things that we put in the boxes cost a lot, but they were all little things that small people would get pleasure from. Ours contained a little pack of crayons, a little colouring book, a little toy, some sweets and a toothbrush and toothpaste.
It did turn into a bit of a race against time today as the deadline is tomorrow and I am as un-organised as ever. So I found myself at lunchtime racing around collecting boxes and last-minute bits to go inside. The poor Bo was whisked out of school straight to the nearest drop off point and back again just in time to pick the Livster up from Sports club.
At least it got there on time and the children know that someone less fortunate will get something on Christmas day.
I think it was £5 well spent.
Our new craft group had our first ever making evening last night.
We made Baubles.
Ollie Cromwell was not a fan, but he was a kill joy.
Winging it as ever, we sat sipping mulled wine and staring at the polystyrene balls that Mrs M had kindly bought over.
The Balls were clearly making Lu anxious and she eventually had a mini breakdown exclaiming that she didn’t know what she was going to do with them.
Luckily Mrs M stepped in, and in true Blue Peter style with some examples of baubles she had made earlier.
She showed us a fab glueless way to cover the baubles which was quick and you also didn’t need to be overly accurate. Which suits all of us very well.
Essentially it involved carving ditches in your ball so that it was divided into segments. Some people went for 4 segments while others went wild and carved 8.
Once the ball was carved up, we covered each segment with fabric cut slightly bigger than to size and firmly shoved the edges into the ditches, repeating all the way around until the whole thing was covered.
Once this had been achieved people could really go to town on the embellishments.
Everyone went home with a really lovely little creation. Even those who claim not to be crafty had something to really cherish.
I was at Lu’s house the other day and she was proudly showing off her latest completed project.
I think it is fab and so I asked her to write a guest post for me.
She can consider this idea well and truly nicked.
Mrs H here. As Mrs B’s lovely readers you may remember a post about a lovely little piece of cross stitch. I am the fortunate recipient off said piece and love it! When she gave it to me I instantly knew where it would hang and suspect that it was up on the kitchen wall before she got home that evening.
As lovely as it is, it did draw my attention the neighbouring wall which has sat butt naked since the eviction of two shelves.
They were evicted because they became like a man-drawer, dedicated to the homing of plasters, batteries and other such tat and in my already confined kitchen this looked unkempt. So in a frantic Anna Ryder-Richardson moment I took them down, filled, sanded and painted the wall all before the man got home from work. That is how the wall has sat for some time but the reminder of my bare wall by the gorgeous gesture of a handmade treasure kick started me thinking….
My default response in times like these is to boil the kettle and hit Pinterest. I scoured the pages and found empty frames on walls and plates on walls.Those ideas made sweet love and resulted in this baby!
The frame (far too big! So cut down to size) from a carboot for £5 and painted with a garden stain tester pot from homebase (I add this because its the only place I’ve found them).
In the middle we have one very patterned plate to complement the crossstitch and a couple of plain coloured plates from everybody’s favourite blue and yellow shop to complement.
The result… One happy lady!
I bought a pumpkin.
The children wanted me to carve a scary face.
I thought we could make it a little more interesting.
Lu had found some fab superhero wrapping paper which I had used to line The Bo’s upcycled desk drawers. I thought we could give our pumpkin a comic book style makeover.
The children tore up the paper into little pieces and I painted the pumpkin with a mix of PVA and water. And then we got sticking.
Once it was dry, I carved out a scary face and popped in some tea lights.
London is less than an hour away for us, and I love it. Plus Mr B works down there so it made sense to meet him after work and start our anniversary weekend.
I arrived at lunch time on Friday and met up with my brother in Trafalgar Square. With two huge galleries right there, it would be rude not to pop in.
The first exhibition was Saints Alive by Micheal Landy in the National Gallery. Famous for destroying all his possessions and the Art Bin where artists could throw their failed work. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
Giant, moving sculptures of self harming saints and huge collages of cut up, re-assembled and mechanised martyrs.
Adding mechanisms and clunky, violent movements to these mini gods gave a very disturbing, nightmarish quality to them.
Doubting St Thomas’ dis-embodied arm violently pokes the headless body of Christ. The fact that it is you, the visitor that causes it by deliberately stepping on a pedal is quite resonant.
You are able to turn the broken wheel, implement of torture for St Catherine.
As you step on other peddles St Apollonia thrusts pliers into her face and St Jerome beats himself with a rock. It is interesting that it takes an action by us to set them on their self-distructive path. Making the visitor into both voyeur and sadist.
The Collages pack a weird punch. He mixes up the body parts of different saints, disembowels and Re-fills them with cogs, wheels and the tools both of DIY and torture (one and the same thing I suppose).
Adding these man-made articles only serves to re-enforced how non human saints can appear, particularly within art where they are so passive in the face of horror, so unmoved by their predicament and so otherworldly.
It is as though Landy has wanted to dissect them to see what it is that made them work.
What he exposes is not human at all. Not even a hidden halo or a heart with some religious symbol carved in. What we find is not otherworldly, but a crude and clunky man-made machine, of the sort you could imagine being employed to perform miracles in some Pre-Reformation church.
In fact when you feed money into the donations box St Francis hits himself over the head.
It is a fascinating exhibition that raises questions about humanity, divinity, morality, faith and what part we may have to play in the seeming self destruction of others.
It is an interesting way to spend an hour. Plus it is free!