Monday, 30 September 2013

Week 108- Cornish pasties, country weddings and localised baby-booms...

Weddings aren’t what they used to be sans kids.

Gone are the days of getting totally smashed by 3pm then having a complete memory wipe-out for the rest of the event until the pictures, or worse still, videos, start to emerge on Facebook.

I was at an old friend’s wedding a few years ago; the kind where you see people you haven’t seen since school, and it’s ace, and you think you’re still 15, and smoke your body-weight in fags while carrying an emergency bottle of wine with you, ‘just in case.’

The black-out started at about 2ish, and finished the next morning when Ben and I woke up in a badly made tent, canvas stuck to our faces, legs sticking out the entrance like a couples’ body bag.

Both still dressed in our best clothes.
We’d obviously tried to the erect the tent in the dark, given up and got in it anyway.
To top it all off, we’d opened the car and not closed the door so the internal light had flattened the battery.

This isn’t so easy to achieve when you’re attending a wedding with a two year old.
I know having kids at a wedding can be a bit of a pain in the arse, not only for those getting married as they need to accommodate them into their plans, but also for the childless guests who are there for aforementioned wreckedness.

So last weekend was such an immense breath of fresh air when we went to a wedding that was so focussed on family that I didn’t want to leave.


From tractor rides, to a blow-up castle, to a lady who helped the kids make wand and warrior sticks out of vines and flowers-  it made me want to live my life a bit more creatively and outdoorsyly (that word makes much more sense if said aloud.)

I think the success of the day was partly helped by the fact that the friends who were getting married have two young children who are the centre of their world.
In fact they made parenting look like so much fun before we all had kids that I think they’re partially to blame for the localised baby boom.

The other reason it was so brilliant was where we were staying.
The cottages at Bosinver, Cornwall, have been entirely developed with families in mind.
But, it’s not just the cottages, it’s the whole experience.
The children can go and help feed the animals in the morning. There’s a swimming pool that’s been designed for families, with non-slip flooring and water heated to the temperature that you never want to get out.

There was so much to do that Nancy started asking, ‘what are we going to see this time?' whenever we opened the front door.  

All these things added up to a brilliant weekend.

Actually, all these things as well as a cake baking competition, a swing band, more Cornish pasties than you can shake a big stick at and a metric shit load of local cider.

Maybe weddings with kids aren't so bad...

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Week 107- the MAD blog awards, leopard print dresses and hugging Dr Ranj...

Thank you to everyone who voted for me in the MAD Blog awards.

I was a finalist in two categories- Best Blog Writer and Blog of The Year. Although I didn’t win, it was pretty ace to get that far, and more than that, a brilliant chance to meet a lot of women who are, similarly, documenting their experiences of motherhood, but in lots of different ways.

The do was what I can only describe as the parent version of the Oscars.
Held in a swanky hotel in Kensington, the finalist, of whom there were over 70, were all dressed-up to the absolute nines. I mean, these women looked seriously good. 

Ulrika had, thank God, lent me her fab red dress, as I HATE all my clothes at the moment and either feel like a wrinkly wanna-be sixth former, or a middle-aged country-living housewife in most of my stuff.

The former as I just can’t part with a load of inappropriate leopard print outfits from about 20 years ago, the latter due to some ill-thought out Boden purchases late at night on Ebay.

More this...
than this.

As soon as Nancy is old enough for fancy-dress she’s going to have a mountain of stuff to choose from.

The thing that struck me most about the awards, was how supportive all the finalist were of each other.

I know a lot of them already knew each other through other blogging events, or on-line, but I was slightly apprehensive about turning up at an event not knowing anyone. I had the prickly-skinned nervousness on arrival, flashbacks of going to Freshers' dos in the first week of university, quietly chanting, ‘please talk to me please talk to me please talk to me.'
The thing is, an event like this could go one of two ways.

You’ve got a group of people competing for some quite weighty prizes, sitting in a room together, downing free booze.

But, and I don’t say this exclusively, as there were some dad bloggers at the awards too, I think that the supportive nature of the event was down to the fact that it’s attended almost entirely by women.

Having felt a bit self-conscious, (Ulrika’s dress looks immense on her, but she is several inches taller than me and quite a striking-looking Scandinavian - where as I am more of the shorter/Welsher-looking variety,) a fellow finalist came up to me almost the moment I walked through the foyer and told me how lovely I looked in the dress. Thank you to whoever you were. You made my night before it had even begun.
On my table at dinner I was sat with some really interesting women who write about their experiences of parenting. My Two Mums talked of how they’d met over their huge dislike of mushrooms, (great story- bit of a shame the main course was mushroom risotto).

On my other side I met Filipa who writes Gourmet Mum, a toxicologist turned food blogger. Since meeting her I’ve read her blog and am inspired enough to give some of the recipes a bash.

And also Maddie, who writes Gammon and Chips and Sarah from A Field Somewhere, both of whom are Brighton-based and I hope to see again.

I also got to hug Dr Ranj too tightly- which I imagine he was preeetty pleased about.

So. Thanks again for reading my blog.

I only hope Nancy doesn’t kick my ass when she’s old enough to read it herself...

Monday, 16 September 2013

Week 106- camping, flooding and turning into your parents...

This week Nancy turned 2.

And I turned 35.

That means today I am closer to 40 than I am to 30. That is the most depressing bit of maths I have ever done.

Not one to celebrate a birthday quietly, I thought the best solution to mark both our days was to have a joint do.
In a field.

In a tent.
On a day when floods were forecast.

Luckily a lot of my friends had unprotected sex at roughly the same time, so the parents of many of Nancy’s friends are our friends.
Very handy.

Although camping seemed like the worst idea ever, there is little alternative when you’ve got a titchy flat and fancy hanging out with people after 7pm without having to bring in an army of babysitters.
It always surprises me how if you’re going camping for a night with a child, then you might as well go for two weeks, because the amount of stuff you need to bring is the same.

Nancy can’t see out the windows.

Ben can’t see out the back.

And I’ve got so much stuff packed around me in the passenger side that I get pins and needles in my feet before we’ve even got to the end of our road.

There are certain things I do now whilst camping which I think defines me as a grown-up/ parent. Even while I’m writing this list, I can feel any inch of cool I ever had, which was, admittedly- limited, drain away.

·         I brush my teeth before going to sleep, as well as take off the clothes I’ve been wearing that day.

·         I bring a torch, and know where it is.

·         I have a cool box, with those blocks that you put in the freezer and always smell like gone-off food.

·         I bring washing up liquid, but not a full bottle, oh no. That would be reckless. I pour some into a little Body Shop bottle and just take that.

·         I bring tea bags. Not the whole box (reckless x 2), I put a few in a sandwich bag.

·         I have cutlery that’s just for camping. Tied together with an old hair band so it doesn’t get mixed up with the normal stuff.

·         And, and, I am thinking about spending my birthday money on a blow-up mattress.
Luckily, when I look around, I realise that all our friends have civilised their camping experiences too; bringing fold out tables, blankets to lie on, chairs to sit on, kettles, ready prepared meals, onions, seasoning, gas stoves...

And it dawned on me. We reminded me of my own parents when we used to go camping when I was little.

In my memory they seemed so old.
But actually they were my age now.
I am turning into my parents.

And more surprising than that, I don’t really mind.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Week 105- Turkey, touching backs and titchy beds...

Sorry for the lack of blog on Sunday. We’ve just been on our hols to Turkey.

Been on a plane with Nancy, and arrived back in England five minutes after her second birthday. So I doubt we can afford to ever go on a plane again, now we have to pay for her seat.

Turns out, the only way to survive a family holiday with a two year old is to go away with another family with a child of the same age.
Nancy was made up to discover that she’d be waking up for a whole week to her bestie, Ebba.

Nancy slept in with us the whole week in a massive bed, with crisp white sheets and plump pillows.
Worlds apart from our titchy bed with pillows we’ve had since being students that you need to fold into quarters to lift your head a millimetre off the mattress.
I kind of half forgot she was lying there, there was so much room. And she slept the night through, waking only to shuffle out of bed in search of her best mate in the morning.
It. Was. Bliss.

I got suntan. Well, I looked more grubby than brown, but still.

I got to hang out with ace friends for a whole week, as well as get a condensed period of time with Nancy and Ben, instead of just tag-teaming it between bath and bedtime.

I came back and felt refreshed.
For about 25 minutes.

Until Nancy remembered that she’s spent a week curled up in our bed. And did not, under any circumstances, want to go back to her big girl’s bed.

The only way she will even consider getting into bed, let alone close her eyes, is if I have my hand on her back. It doesn’t even need to be a whole hand.

It can be the tip of my finger. A bit like poking her.
And as her breathing slows and I think she’s about to go to sleep, I lift my finger off her.
But quick as a flash she whispers, ‘touch my back, mummy.’
First time she said it, it was ace.
I know I’m really physical with people.
In all photos of me with friends, I've got my face squashed up to theirs.
I hug people for an uncomfortable amount of time, often on first meeting.
And squeeze arms during conversation unnecessarily.
I know this can all be really annoying.
So when Nancy said that, I thought, ace. She’s got this from me. She’s going to grow up to be a bear-hugger too.
But the novelty soon wore off, as it turns out this can go on for hours.

Me lifting my finger up.

‘Touch my back, mummy.’

Putting my finger back down.

Lifting my finger up.

‘Touch my back, mummy.’

Putting my finger back down.


I said to Ben, doesn’t it drive you a bit nuts?
Turns out she’s never tried this stunt with Ben.
Instead she asks him to read more to her. Something he loves doing.
And it dawned on me- our two year old has totally got out number and is playing the pair of us like a couple of wazocks.
So. I’m going to man up.

Get this sleeping thing nailed once and for all. Weather the tantrums. And ask for the unimaginable.
A full night’s sleep in a child-free bed.
Either that, or I’m buying a time share in Turkey, and having a decent week’s sleep once a year.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Week 104- planes, ball pools and The Goslinator...

We’re going to go abroad.
A proper holiday, not in a tent but in an apartment. Walls, roof, a bed. The works.
I was sitting off having a think about how much I love flying.
What a total filmathon it is of stuff that’s currently on at the pictures.
How I might even get to see the most recent Goslinator film.
I’ve already seen it and didn’t really get it. But I could force myself to watch it again.
And then it dawned on me. We’re flying with a nearly two year old (we arrive back the day before her second birthday so we don’t have to pay for her flight.)

We’re going to be in the air for over five hours.
This is NOT going to be relaxing.  

My mum’s told me about how they did the same with me when I was nearly two and we went to South Africa. How I spent the eleven hour flight walking up and down the aisle to the loo, pretending I needed a wee, trying to make friends with all the passengers who were, like I’d hoped to be, watching films.
The trip to Dieppe on the ferry was tricky enough, and they had a ball pool.

So it’s time to get the creative thinking hat on and make/ buy/ steal enough stuff to entertain a small person for five solid hours.
Or we’re never going to go abroad again...