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The Trip of a Lifetime

7 Jul

Getting information about school, trips, parties or anything is like getting blood from a stone with my children.

I am fascinated by their prioritization of certain details and omissions of important facts.

It took some coaxing, but this is a true and accurate account of the school safari park trip. As told to me by Liv, aged 4 (nearly 5).

Liv explained her excitement of going on her first school trip.

Apples were distributed on arrival, before going around the park in the coach.

A Monkey caused much excitement by jumping on their vehicle.

She spotted elephants and giraffes. “They were this big” she said as she stretched her arms as wide as possible.

They had lunch on the grass.

Chickens joined them.

“One chicken tried to eat another chicken” She told me in her completely deadpan style.

They finished their lunch and left these clucky abominations of nature behind.

Next up were the penguins. “They were quite stinky”.

When I asked what they did, she proceeded to demonstrate by standing with her back to me, arms by her side and utterly still. “They were quite boring” she said, still with her back to me.

So on the Orangutans. They appeared to have had as much energy as my children.

“One jumped over Miss M”.

I have not quite got to the bottom of why this particular teacher had been put in the orangutan enclosure, but it does seem like a cruel and unusual punishment.

Lastly they went to see the bird man. He had a red bird and a yellow bird which was called Yoyo.

The bird man had taught his feathered friends to put their rubbish in the bin.

I wonder if he does private tutorials?

 

Half Term Holiday

2 Jun

As children our holidays were always in Britain. There were certain things that were compulsory in order to make a memorable trip away.

1. Cooked breakfasts. Always a great start to the day

2. At least one minor injury or illness. We’ve had thumbs shut in car doors, normal toast being accidentally fed to the coeliac of the family, an iron pole thrown at my head by  a brother who also got a bad headache from sniffing a dead worm.. you know who you are!

3. Lugging huge amounts of stuff miles across a beach in order to get a quiet spot.

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4. Wearing shorts, even when it is not really quite shorts temperature. But the sun is out, so that is all that counts.

5. Take jumper off,  put jumper on and repeat every time the sun goes in or out.

6. Picnics in a car park

7.  A pick and mix bag of rain. Fine rain, sheeting rain, sideways rain, big fat rain and heavy drizzle. To name but a few.

8. Illusive sunshine, resulting in a mad dash for the beach

9. Following a tiny piece of blue sky for at least forty minutes, before giving in and  finding a car park in order to re-group and actually look at the map.

10. Fish and chips at least once, possibly even twice 😉

11. A steam train. There’s always a steam train

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So last week we were in beautiful North Norfolk with the Grandparents.

My Father in-laws awesome cooked breakfasts (second breakfast as my children like to call them) were pretty much compulsory most days, .

The minor injury was all mine this year. My husband managed to bring the car boot down on my nose. How I managed not to scream profanities in front of my in-laws I will never know. Instead I petulantly threw a packet of hand wipes into the boot and loudly accused my husband of not being able to put his shoes on like a normal person (don’t ask).

I spent our journey to the beach pouting and holding an ice pack to my face, fully expecting two black eyes, but  disappointingly getting just a slightly sunburnt nose.

On a day when the weather was particularly bad featuring with every type of rain from the pick and mix bag, we decided to take the children to the local splash pool.

Aiming to keep things quick and simple, we put our swimming costumes on under our clothes and got in the car. However on arrival in the pouring, big, fat rain we found that the que outside was at least 30 strong. Much to the disappointment of the children we decided that it was not worth waiting for, what was likely to be a crowded and disappointing experience.

So off we headed in search of blue sky, or at least a let up in the rain.

No such luck.

We ended up sitting in a National Trust car park watching the rain hammer down on the windscreen.

I realised that a full undressing would be necessary for Liv and I when we next needed the little ladies room. We still had our swimmers on.

So there was no picnic in a car park this year. Although  a full family wardrobe change in the car  thoroughly makes up for it.

We are now blacklisted by the National Trust.

Lastly we managed the obligatory train ride . Taking a half hour,  open top journey from Wells to Walsingham.

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Train rides are very family friendly.  All children love a train ride. So it is a slightly surprising thing that such a family friendly attraction should have such an un-child friendly destination.

Walsingham is a very pretty and interesting place. A Mecca for pilgrims. But child friendly it is not.

It is an incredibly quiet village with very little to it,  other than relic shops and one tea room with very suspect hygiene levels.

Also, on studying a macabre sculpture of an angel grinding his sandal into the face of a demon, my daughter started asking very philosophical questions about the nature of the Devil.

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We managed a couple of very sunny days at the beach where the children ventured waist deep in the sea. Rather them than me!

My daughter buried a frisby and then forgot about it, until we got home.

We created a three-piece suite out of sand including foot stall for the children to eat their lunch from.

The men burnt their feet.

The females had mastered the use of sun cream and so women and children left the beach unscathed.

I think we did well and managed to tick most of the things on the list.

We all had a wonderful time and made many fond memories.

I especially enjoyed my father in-laws extra strong gin and tonics at the end of every day 😉

 

 

 

 

Mrs B BC2

1 Apr

I have had to keep this information very tightly under wraps, even from my closest friends and family, but I can now reveal some very exciting news.

I shall keep it brief as it is a long and winding story. But the long and the short of it is that I have been approached by BBC 2 to be a judge on their newest prime time weekday project.

Having read my blog with interest, they felt that my passion for thriftiness and upcycling would be perfect for their flagship show The Great British Upcycle.

Like The Great British Bake Off and The Sewing Bee,  the object of the show is to bring together some very talented amateurs and pit them against each other in a series of upcycle challenges.

William Morris, Kirsty Allsop and Martha Stewart are lined up as fellow judges. Each of us representing one of the following. Someone old, someone new, someone borrowed and someone with glue. I’ll leave you to guess who’s who 😉

The comedy duo Trevor and Simon (Of Live and Kicking fame) will present the show and lend support to the contestants as they face moral, emotional and mental melt downs.

This promises to be the most brutal show aired since Bill Oddy had a pop at Kate Humble on Spring Watch.

Filming starts late April at Bullring in Birmingham, but in the meantime I have a whirlwind of interviews to do in order to promote the show.

On Woman’s Hour tomorrow I will be talking to Jane Garvey about my views on the 2014 Woman’s Hour Power list.

After this I will be whizzing over to Look East, where I will be talking about Milton Keynes and it’s place on the international stage.

Bruce Lee the wise once said “showing off is the fool’s idea of glory” , and with that in mind I shall say no more,  other than….. Watch this space 😉

Share The Love!

14 Feb

valentines slippers

I may be bitter, I may be a cynic. I am probably a bitter old cynic, but I am so over valentines day.

Obviously if hubby came home with a new dress and said “Woman! get your coat I am taking you somewhere that you can be utterly fabulous, and I shall worship at the altar of your fabulousness” I would be less over it. But hey I’m a fickle, bitter, old cynic 😀

Today I came across Crafts on Sea’s latest blog post. Why not share a little love and kindness for no apparent reason?

Last week I received two random acts of kindness. One was in the garage where the assistant not only didn’t try to rip me off (Always a worry to me) but  actually went the extra mile.

The second was a man who, on leaving the car park handed me his ticket which was valid until the following morning.

Neither of these people gained anything from their kindness and so I would like to pay it forward.

This is what I am going to do.

The first five people to comment (actually on the blog, not Facebook) will receive a little something from me at some random point over the next 12 months. It could be anything from something handmade (apologies in advance), tasty, cheeky, funny or a little card with some utterly inspiring pearls of wisdom. You just never know!

All I ask is that you comment on this post by telling me about a random act of kindness that you have received and how you plan to pay it forward.

So go on, share a little love. It is valentines day after all. XxxXxxx

MK Gallery Preview

24 Jan

On Thursday night we went on a date!

It was probably not the sort of date that Mr B had in  mind, but he’ll take what he can get on a school night.

I got us two tickets to the preview of MK Gallery’s latest exhibition Treasures in MK.

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Really? I hear you say.  Treasures in Milton Keynes? Milton Keynes??!

Well yes.

The Gallery has collaborated with private collectors from MK and the surrounding area and put together a very eclectic exhibition.

It was packed to the rafters with art and other objects. Even the most hardened philistine would recognise at least one or two of the famous artists whose work was on show.

There was Hogarth and Romney, Matisse and Picasso, Durer and Gainsborough, Rego and Blake. And so the list goes on.

The Paula Rego lithograph of Mr Rochester really caught my eye.

There is also a stunning portrait of Emma Hamilton by Romney and an interesting self-portrait by David Bowie.

There is fun to be had studying Tom Chadwick’s The Proverbs. See how many sayings you can pick out.

Mr B spent a large amount of time closely studying the absolutely pristine cream Aston Martin, with cream and red leather interiors. I am not a car person but even I found myself lusting after it a little bit.

He was also quite taken with a small work by Peter Blake.

This would be a great place to introduce children to art Galleries. If nothing else they will love the taxidermy pelicans in the Cube Room. Or you could get them to describe what they think is going on in Hogarth’s The Rake’s Progress.

This exhibition is a oportunity to view pieces from many private collections that otherwise the public would not get a chance to see.

I recommend making the effort to go before they are whisked back behind closed doors.

 

Resolute in my Resolutions!

20 Dec

I don’t usually do new years resolutions.

When I do, they are never made with very much conviction.

But on Dec 31 2012 I made six. I numbered them, put them out there on Facebook and meant it.

1. Make

2. Thrift

3. Never spend more than I have to.

4. Learn something new as often as possible

5. Say what I think more often and bottle up less

6. Accept that you don’t always fit in and be ok with that.

When I set these down I had not decided to start writing and I had not really planned how I was going to achieve these vague, open-ended resolutions. But I did know that I was going to do it.

The decision to start writing a blog a couple of months later made sense as it covered all the bases.

At first people I knew and loved sort of looked askance at me, not really sure what I was doing or trying to achieve. In fact I wasn’t really sure myself and felt almost apologetic when I posted my early pieces.

I am a can’t do kind of girl. I have always tried to find reasons not to do things, always worried about how I will be judged and always assuming the worst.

Blogging has opened my eyes to the fact that, maybe I do have something small to give. That people are not as quick to pass judgement as I always expect and that I do have a voice and an opinion. It has given me a confidence in interacting with people that I had somehow lost years ago.

My world has opened  in ways that I hadn’t expected. I have made more new friends in the last 12 months than I have made in the last 12 years and I have re-connected with old acquaintances.

Weirdly coming to accept that I don’t quite fit has kind of freed me of an over cautiousness and awkwardness that has held me back in the past.

This year has been a tough year but blogging has given me a structure, a focus and forced me to be positive where I would otherwise feel stunned into silence.

As for learning something new as often as possible….

I have taught myself to do this for a start. Just working out how to add a link to a post was a challenge to begin with. But I have done it.

I have also learned that no one is perfect. Kirsty Allsop hit an all time low when she tied dyed pants last week.

Leather look jeans are not comfortable. I need to sit down more than I used to so wearing trousers that don’t allow you to do this is folly. Exchange for a sensible jumper.

I have learned that I am a very bad waitress.

I have taught myself to upcycle a Bureau and made over a desk for The Bo. I have re-purposed old bedding

I have made gifts of chocolate and roses and maps.

This blog won’t win awards or  change anyones life. It is not the biggest or the best but it is mine and I love it.

All in all I think I have achieved what I set out to do on 31st Dec 2012. Lets see what 2014 brings.

If you have taken the time to read, I hope you enjoyed it and thankyou for stopping by

Merry Christmas and a Happy new year XX

 

I need to wear make up Mummy!

22 Nov

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.

Lula Bops Tea Room

21 Nov

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Operation Christmas Child

18 Nov

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.

 

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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.

 

 

Queen Bee

14 Oct

I had a very odd experience the other day.

It was like I had been put in a time machine and dumped in the classroom around 1994.

Unpleasant?  Yes, but also kind of fascinating. Like being part of your very own natural history documentary.

I had  to go to a meeting. That’s not the odd thing.

The odd thing is that from the moment I walked through the door I instinctively felt like I was prey. My ears pricked up and I could smell danger.

From across the room I noticed that two pairs of eyes had latched onto me. They watched me without blinking as I crossed the room and took a seat. I smiled at them and they continued to stare, with a nasty little smirk curling the corners of their mouths….and then they broke off their stares and whispered behind their hands and look back at me sniggering.

Every so often I would feel their eyes on me again. When I returned their gaze, they both just carried on staring for much longer than was comfortable,  with crocodilian smiles that never reached their eyes….And then they would whisper and laugh.

Natures reaction is fight or flight. Human reaction is that neither of those options would be appropriate, so sit still and grit your teeth.

It was a bizarre little game that only lasted a 10-15 minutes until someone plonked themselves next to me, blocking their view a bit and making me feel slightly less uncomfortable.

Some women just have a unique gift for being particularly vile without actually saying a word.

As in nature there was very much a dominant female in this pairing. You know the one. The queen bee. Everyone must laugh when she says something “funny” or agree when she makes a statement. Otherwise it is off with their heads! The other was a sort of cross between a sycophantic courtier and hyena.

Nothing much has changed since I was at school. There is always going to be a Queen Bee and her odd little courtiers/minions, whose sole purpose in life appears to be to make other people feel bad. Maybe Bee is the wrong animal. I think that Wasp is probably more appropriate as they seem to enjoying annoying, harassing and stinging people for no apparent reason.

I am big enough and ugly enough not to let it affect me. What concerns me is that my children are likely to come across this type of creature in the future. I just hope they are able to deal with it without getting stung.

The other worry is that they become this creature. If they do I shall swat them myself 😉

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