Thursday, 29 October 2009


I've just read through all the new posts in my favourite blogs list and it has set me thinking about so many things.

For a start, there's the fact that it's so easy in blogland to portray a perfect life in a perfect world where even the mishaps are just amusing little asides. We don't generally stop to take a picture when our little ones are bawling their eyes out, let alone post it on our blog. I hope we're all too busy comforting them or trying to work out what has sparked their tantrum. And we don't show the ugly bits surrounding our homes, just the selected picturesque bits.

We all have to do the mundane things like clean the toilet and take the rubbish out, but the only housework we write about tends to be the creative stuff like cooking lovely healthy meals and making wonderful repurposed environmentally friendly furnishings.

Most of us have to occasionally think about such things as insurance, drainpipes, toilets, cleaning the cooker, sorting out our filing and booking a dental check-up. But it takes a certain knack to make that into interesting reading.

I think I'm getting close to there being a point to my ramblings. And I think it's here: If I can work all this out, so can most folks. In which case, the idylls portrayed in people's blogs are not something to measure myself against and find myself falling short. I know they are snapshots of the best bits of people's lives or, alternatively, a cathartic kind of re-shaping and objectifying of the worst bits. In which case, the good bits can still be inspirational and the worst bits can be comradely in an oh-aren't-we-all-in-this-shit-together-at-the-end-of-the-day kind of way.

So, I will continue to edit the bad bits until they are almost amusing and edit my life until it is mostly good bits (this is challenging at the moment in a mundane, house-moving, lots of sources of pointless stress, need-to-get-divorced kind of way). And I will continue to read the good bits, bad bits and daft bits of what you all choose to write about.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Fed up now

Grrrr. Is it possible to move house without stress and hassle? It's all solicitors' letters, bills, delays, pettiness, paperwork, phone calls, more delays. I thought I might rant about the details, but I don't feel like it now. It's not important; it's just money and stuff, not people. And it will all be over and done with soon. Then I can get on with actually living instead of waiting.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Toddler business

Sir Whingealot putting in an appearance here. I've had a very busy day, here are a few of the things I did:

  • rode on a tractor with grandad.
  • walked back and to over a plank bridge.
  • talked to the chickens and showed them the wooden cockerel.
  • rode in the wheelbarrow.
  • picked and ate raspberries.
  • examined my new shells, put all the shells in a pan, then transferred them to a jug.
  • rode in the Yamo carrier to the library while grandma pushed the buggy to put the shopping in.
  • read lots of books and even put a few back on the shelves.
  • tried to eat my shoelaces whilst in the Yamo.
  • walked across a big bridge over the expressway.
  • clapped mummy and grandma's renditions of The Grand Old Duke of York and Jack and Jill.
  • examined some yellow leaves.
  • stirred the dinner.
  • impersonated a monkey.
  • gave myself a yoghurt face mask.
Mummy here: I'm amazed at the richness all the little things can bring to a toddler's life. They really don't need sophisticated toys to keep them happy. I'm also hoping such a busy, fresh-air filled day might just result in a good night's sleep for everyone...?


... until it's a reasonable time to go and pick up my boy. I think 7am is a bit early, although he's probably up. Then again, his daddy claims he has slept through and had lies-in (lie-ins?) while he has been there. I'm going to assume that means he wakes up with me because I'm so special he can't pass up the opportunity for extra cuddles. Maybe. Anyway, I'm missing him from his crazy curls to his ticklish toes.

While I have been child-free I have collected him some new shells: pink stripy snail shells from the Great Orme in Llandudno. It was a particularly, shall we say, exhilarating day with gale-force winds blowing the unmistakeable scent of goat across the hillside. And I have attempted to start knitting him another hat but I keep gaining or dropping stitches on the cabling and am now about to start my sixth attempt.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Big pointy teeth

'Mummy. Mummy. Mummy. Mummy.'

Ah, how all mothers long to hear that first word from their adorable little one. Last night, however, was the first time he has been articulate enough in the middle of the night to actually call for me in between sobs. He also very clearly signed for milk, which isn't surprising after his rejection of lunch and tea yesterday.

Bloody canine teeth. Bloody paracetamol spilt all down my pyjama leg because I was trying not to put the light on.

One canine has broken through, the other top one feels close, the bottom ones feel suspiciously lumpy too. He hasn't spent a full night in his own bed all week. But at least I get to sleep for a couple of nights now, as little man has gone to see daddy.

In other news, my house purchase is now ready to go ahead. My ground rent will be 98p a year. Not even sure why it's a leasehold; it's a mid terrace and three of the houses in the terrace are leasehold. New discoveries today: wool stall at Widnes Market (bought some to knit a doll, which is going to have boys' clothes) and a canalside walk near Daresbury (via some woods where there have supposedly been sightings of a big cat).

Friday, 23 October 2009

Bats and battiness

Little man said 'bat' today. He does like those b words. It helped that we were in the bat cave at Chester Zoo. We went with daddy, who got pooed on by a bat. My, how I chortled.

So there we were having a good time looking at the elephants twisting their trunks round each other, and the lions having a stroll together, and the orangutans hanging around, and little man screaming his way through lunch but then munching a banana and an oat and fruit bar as soon as we got outside again when I get a message to say I had missed a call.

Eventually I took the call. It was the estate agent. When could I drop the keys off? Er, according to my solicitor on Wednesday we hadn't even exchanged contracts yet due to a cock-up at the other end and so our expected Friday completion date wasn't going to happen. Now I'm suddenly being told at 2.30pm on that day that we have completed.

So I'm afraid the buyers will have to deal with the mess of broken crockery and spiders' webs complete with dead inhabitants left behind when STBE husband took the fridge, freezer and dishwasher (I don't need them). And I'm trying to get used to the fact that it's officially done and dusted. Now all I need is my new house. And some central heating in it.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

How to get lost in one's hometown

  1. Have a very long list of things to do.
  2. Send little man out to the shop with grandma.
  3. Find your way to the van hire place to hand in the accident form.
  4. Proceed to the old town and get slightly worried when the road you were going to take has been turned into a busway and the road you actually have to take used to be a busway last time you drove past it.
  5. Safely negotiate sea of no-entry signs to get into car park.
  6. Post the cloth nappies you've just sold on t'interweb.
  7. Do a spot of shopping and withdraw lots of cash to pay the estate agent.
  8. Leave for dad's allotment to check the chickens, taking the route that once again goes up a road that used to be a busway.
  9. Take the wrong turn off the expressway, drive past some architecturally interesting estates, eventually turn around and go back to take the correct exit.
  10. Check chickens, who are all sat on their perch complaining about their move, and try to tempt them out with some seeds and grain.
  11. Leave allotment, take wrong entry onto expressway and drive for a couple of miles before you can turn around and go back.

Interesting fact time: Runcorn had the first ever busway in the world or 'Buses as Rapid Transit' system when the new town was built in the 1960s. For anyone who doesn't know what a busway is, it's not a bus lane but an entire road system set aside only for buses.

I'm still assuming I will soon be a permanent resident here, despite the fact that some mortgage cock-up has delayed completion on our sale.

And now, it's off to bed to await the middle-of-the-night awakening that is accompanying the slow arrival of canines.

Sunday, 18 October 2009


My house is now empty. The garage is not empty, but only because my buyers have put a lot of their furniture in there. My grandma's garage, on the other hand, is very full. It is full of my stuff. Including all the stuff that should have been binned years ago. And her spare bedroom is full of my mattress, settee, bedding etc. Fortunately, my grandma is currently in hospital. That may not sound fortunate, but she's had her hip replacement rebuilt so she doesn't have to wear a body brace for the rest of her life, so it is fortunate for her too. She's in her ninetieth year you know, as she likes to remind everyone at frequent intervals.

Unfortunately, I now have to sort through all the junk and get rid of stuff: freecycle, charity, tip. I have ditched the big box full of recipes that I ripped out of magazines years ago and meant to file. It was a very big box. Another thing: keys. Why are there always keys that don't fit any lock?

A small and not very amusing aside: I managed to twat the side of the Luton van I hired into the back corner of my parents' next door but one neighbours' car. Ho hum. I can't find it within myself to get very much more stressed. Particularly about a purely financial matter. And, obviously, they were parked really badly on a bend.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Cot death news

The latest news today is apparently that sleeping with your baby increases the risk of cot death. Now, I'm not going to tell anyone that they should or should not co-sleep. It's up to you, and anyone who reads this blog regularly will already know what I do.

My point is this: I don't think anyone should make a decision about their child's wellbeing based on what they have read or seen in the media.

And guess what? I'm a newspaper journalist.

The sad fact is that most media organisations do not invest enough in staffing to allow journalists to properly research stories and make sure they give an accurate, balanced view.

The BBC's online article about this story is actually rather contradictory. In one paragraph it says sharing a bed is a factor in 50% of cot death cases. In the next it says many of the deaths occurred when parent and child slept together on a sofa. Er? How can many of the 50% of deaths that occurred through sharing a bed have happened through sharing a sofa? A sofa and a bed are quite clearly very different things. Then there's the smoking, alcohol and sedating drugs angle....

Vaccinations, cot death, hygiene, nutrition, car seats... parents are bombarded with scare stories. My advice would be to take it all with a very large pinch of salt. And, for the important decisions, to do your research yourself by going to the source of the scare stories. At least the BBC makes it easy for you; there's a link to the British Medical Journal report of the study on the web page.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Night duty

I'm starting to get quite good at this co-sleeping malarkey. He hasn't really 'slept through' since before our holiday a couple of weeks ago. He has been snuffly, probably teething though it's hard to know, fidgety and generally unsettled. And I am sticking to the tried-and-tested three-step plan of grab child, stick him in my bed, go back to sleep. I'm starting to crack step three even when he is a bit fidgety, though I'm quite glad I get some nights when little man is staying with daddy and I know for sure I will not get woken up.

I'm generally managing to get to something past seven before he is gesturing very clearly that he wants out of his sleeping bag and making his 'dow' noise which means 'I want to go downstairs and have some cornflakes right now'.

I have told him we are going to live at grandma and grandad's for a while then going to live in a new house. I know he doesn't fully understand, but maybe when we have been at grandma and grandad's for a few days and I tell him again that we are staying it will ring a bell somewhere in his mind that tells him he already knew this.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Kicking leaves

Fun in the park today: kicking piles of leaves, chasing squirrels, making piles of sawdust whilst sitting on a perfect toddler's-bum-height log, watching diggers and dumper trucks.

Unfortunately, he is full of snot. I mean a really impressive amount when he sneezes. I have found a plug-in vaporiser refill in his drawer and hope it might help him breath tonight and avoid too much waking up. He slept for about an hour and a half at lunchtime, which is highly unusual, then slept again for half an hour in the car on the way home from grandma and grandad's just before teatime. And he was still tired at bedtime, although he needed a lot of cuddles before going to sleep tonight.

My current stress levels: around 80%. I'm expecting 99% by the weekend, when I'm moving most of my stuff out of the house and moving in with my parents. That will probably then drop to around 70% until it's time to move into my new house, when there will be another brief spike before everything settles down and I will embark upon an idyllic stress-free life of relaxing country strolls, knitting and baking.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Stuff, Stuff and more Stuff

The Children's Society shop in Runcorn is about to find its stock increasing. A lot. I have so much Stuff, despite not being a person addicted to the acquisition of Stuff.

This morning, in the couple of hours between going out for morning coffee (it's a figure of speech; I only drink tea) and going to work after lunch I had a sort-out in little man's room and my wardrobe.

I ditched the clothes that are too small for little man (and the clothes that are too small for me). I ditched toys, I ditched books, I ditched bedding. I ditched those boots that are about ten years out of fashion with heels that are about two inches too high (I find that babywearing and heels don't mix). But I kept the heeled shoes that I actually used to find really comfy for work and which may come in handy if I am ever required to look vaguely smart again. I wear jeans to work now, so yes, you may feel jealous. Though if you are a SAHM, I am jealous of you.

I ditched some old jumpers and then, in work this afternoon, rediscovered the blog post with this excellent pixie hat. I wonder now if little man is too old for it; being a boy the bonnet look might not work on him any more? But I have kept the too-small t-shirt that has a monkey design on the front which I'm going to cut out and applique on a new top.

My dad, meanwhile, managed yesterday to transport three compost bins full of lovely, rotting, nutritious-for-the-garden Stuff to his allotment, and, today, to sort out all the empty pots littering my garden. Little man helped him and got thoroughly dirty and damp. My mum has been shredder-in-chief. And has taken the rug home to wash which little man pooed on last night. Yay, one less shitty job for me!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

BLW: A year on

It occurred to me the other day that little man has been eating real food for more than a year now. Well, when the fancy takes him anyway. I've often wondered when you qualify as an 'oldie' on the forum; I think we must be there now.

So here's a round-up of today's eating shenanigans. Little man had a very restless night and was awake early so it was cornflakes (dry) at about quarter to seven, followed by blueberries, followed by a few bites of mummy's toast. And a few slurps of milk.

At Tiny Talk he did his usual trick of flashing a cute smile to get extra biscuits then had a banana too. At the supermarket he wanted to buy a melon, but we were only getting some lunch to share with allgrownup and her boy. Little man did have to have some of the baguette in the car on the way there though. He later tucked into houmous, pasta salad, bean salad, sliced chicken and cherry tomatoes but rejected the Lancashire cheese. Allgrownup's new daughter slept through it in her mummy's sling but got crumbs on her head.

Little man fell asleep in the car on the way home. And stayed asleep. After nearly an hour I got him out of the car thinking that would wake him up but that he had been in the car seat for quite long enough. He went back to sleep in my arms and we both snuggled on the sofa for another hour. Consequently, he was having a snack of raisins at 4.30pm when he woke up, as I started to cook tea.

Tea was a phased affair. He started opening cupboards and demanding breadsticks, so I put on the peas and sweetcorn far too early and we had those first. Ten minutes later potato wedges were ready - he has now decided he eats potato after several months of avoiding it in any form. Ten minutes after that lamb kofta meatballs in tomato sauce from the local butcher's were finally cooked through but he only wanted a couple of mouthfuls by then. Yoghurt for pudding, which went all down the front of his clean jumper as usual; I should know better by now. And a few grapes.

So there you go... one year on and I no longer worry about all the things that used to seem so important: precise timings, quantities, nutritional balance at every single meal, why he won't eat broccoli (A BLW sin), and when on earth he is going to stop making such a bloody mess...

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Five things...

...that are stressing me out right now:
1. Moving house.
2. Moving house.
3. Moving house.
4. Moving house.
5. Moving house.

That'll be all the stuff to be packed, the chickens to be moved, all the organisations I have to inform, the small chance that everything could still fall through and the mystery over how little man will take it all. Ok, more than five: wondering if my new house will be ok, worrying about little man getting less attention while I'm trying to sort everything out, wanting to get my name down on the allotment waiting list right now, feeling too tired in the evenings to get anything useful done and hoping that the old asbestos-based roof tiles in the new house will last a bit longer.

It looks like I have a little over two weeks to completion day. So most of the rest of life is going on hold. And I'm thinking of my favourite shade of Ecos paint: Bengt, from the Swedish range.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Holiday best and worst

Back to the holiday. The best bits:
  • The 'giant jumping pillow' at Mabie Farm Park near Dumfries. Obviously the grown-ups had to go on it to make sure the little ones were safe....
  • The ridiculous size of the farmhouse we stayed at, with a choice of four 'reception rooms', although we generally just camped in the kitchen-dining room with the Aga.
  • Chocolate cake, chocolate fudge cake, chocolate brownies, sticky toffee pudding with ice cream, carrot cake, Victoria sponge.
  • Proper darkness at night, bats, peace and quiet apart from the night when we could apparently hear army manoeuvres. Oh, and the night of the gale.
  • Having someone to amuse little man while I went for a shower.
  • Little man almost getting to the point where he was playing with his little friends instead of just being possessive over toys and mummies.
  • The emergence of new words with the help of those little friends. He is now proficient at saying 'tea', makes a pretty good attempt at 'tractor' and says nor-nee nor-nee instead of nee-nor nee-nor for all emergency vehicles. Although mainly he just said his favourite phrase: 'mee-mummy'.

The worst bits:

  • Little man waking up and crying lots, every night, which led to lots of co-sleeping, which led to him falling out of bed for the first time despite it being two singles pushed together. No harm done; He snuggled into the piled-up pillows and nearly went back to sleep.
  • The 80-year-old toilet that wouldn't flush unless you lifted the lid of the cistern and delved in the water to jiggle the lever.
  • The darkness when you don't know where the light switches are and you have to carry your little one downstairs on a hunt for paracetamol, which you obviously can't remember the location of.
  • For little man, having to bathe with two other tots. He didn't actually have to, but we thought they might find it fun. He didn't. He tried to climb out.
  • Running out of red wine one night.
  • Having to come home.

We were staying at North Milton Farmhouse, three miles south of Kirkcudbright, in Dumfries and Galloway.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Life laundry

I know I'm supposed to be telling you about my holiday, but instead I'm going to tell you about the contents of my garage. Bet you can't wait.

I need to empty it. Fast. We're looking at two to three weeks before I move house. And it is a double garage that was until recently very full of Stuff. Lots of Stuff. Now, I'm not keen on Stuff, but while it has been in the garage it has been easy to ignore for the past seven years. Here's some of the highlights:

  • My record collection of 80s and early 90s rock, goth and indie albums. It's about to be listed on eBay... The only one I'm keeping is The Levellers. Which, bizarrely, I heard on the radio in a shop yesterday.
  • My 1989 stereo with record player. I plugged it all in and it actually works. I've had three offers on freegle for it already.
  • A drawer full of old newspaper cuttings. I mean stories I wrote, not ones about me! Recycled, as I am not planning on ever writing for a newspaper again and I'm not sure that front pages about the latest big thing to hit Congleton would be particularly helpful anyway.
  • That Ikea china teaset that I bought years ago with the idea of giving it to one of my nieces with some ceramic paints but never got round to it. One for little man in a year or two.
  • An old pair of brown Doc Martens, two pairs of hiking boots that seem too small, two pairs of old, scuffed black shoes and one pair of adjustable crampons (used twice). Crampons freegled, decent footwear to charity, knackered ones binned.
  • Payslips from when I worked weekends at Comet as a student many years ago. Shredded and composted.
  • A mouse nest made from the nylon of my comfy camping chair. The one that was stored on top of a cupboard about seven feet off the ground but obviously too close to the roof timbers.

What I can't find is the electric cable for the exercise bike I would like to eBay. And what I'm glad I didn't find is another flat mouse, like last time I ventured to do any sorting out in the garage.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Our holiday: the overview

Our holiday at a massive farmhouse near Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway. In brief: beaches, woods, farms, tractors, diggers, nee-nor nee-nor or nor-nee nor-nee depending on which little one you listened to, sun, rain, gales, sand in everything, tea and cake, wine, Aga cooking, knitting, crafty places, castles, boats, whinging, scuffles over toys, scuffles over mummies, falling out of bed for the first time and very broken nights every single night due to the imminent arrival of canines.

More to come when I have caught up on some sleep...