2017 Pictorial Review

Jan/Feb

Anger. Resitance. Reflection. 


Feb/March

On the move


March

I become a columnist. 


April

Amsterdam. Read more here 


May

Hot. 

June/July

Flotilla. 


August. 

An ‘administration error’ means we go to Cornwall instead of Poland. Read more here 



Alex gets his hearing. Goodbye hearing aids. Read more here 


Sept/Oct

Malaga.  Read more here 



Nov/Dec

Illness. Christmas.  

For those on Insta, here is my best in nine. Come over and follow me for more glamour and glitz. 


An Ode to Grandparents at Christmas

All over the country

Grandparents are hosting

They’re minding the baby

Whilst turkeys are roasting.

They’re breaking up fights

Or wrapping up gifts 

Working through the nights

In bleary-eyed shifts.

They are relentlessly kind

And sighs are supressed 

As they pretend they don’t mind 

That you’ve fully regressed.

They cook, clean and pour

Generous glugs of sloe gin 

And what is more

They let you lay in. 

So let’s raise a glass

And mark with celebration

The marvellous kindness.

Of the grandparent generation. 

Parenting Controversies: part 2

Parenting: it’s like tiptoeing over a Lego-scattered minefield. You can’t take two steps without unintentionally exploding a rage-bomb because you asked for weaning recipes or used a wet wipe or swore in front of your newborn. If parenting could be summed up in an emoji, it would be 😡. Which is why my favourite is 🙄

Today’s topic? 

Sleep

The only place they’re guaranteed to sleep (as long as it’s after 3pm)


From the get-go sleep is a controversial topic. There are two hot spots of controversy: Competitive Sleeping and The Pursuit of Sleep. 

Competitive Sleeping 

There’s always one self-satisfied twit who titters with false modestly about how ‘lucky’ they are that their DD sleeps through til 8am. They are usually oblivious to the shell-shocked, shaky wrecks of exhaustion who are absent-mindedly pouring salt in to their coffees. They tend to have bouncy hair and smell of expensive lotions and you half want to be them/half want to flick them. (NB- if this a new ‘mum friend’ you’ve made from NCT/Baby Sign then DUMP THEM. You do not need this kind of negativity in your life). 

Or there’s the other kind. The ‘in it to win it’ type.  You may be ragged with exhaustion- too tired to even blink without falling asleep- but you will not be as tired as them. Ever. Ev.Er. You had two hours sleep? They had one. You were up at 4.30? Lucky you! (NB- as above)

I don’t mean to pit parents against each other. I don’t want to reduce women, mothers, dads and men down to two types but I do want to be clear. Neither reaction is appropriate. 

The next time a parent says they are exhausted and haven’t slept for three weeks the only correct answer is this: ‘That’s shit’.

 It’s brief enough to show solidarity but brusque enough to avoid tears. Also worth avoiding is any physical contact such as a sympathetic arm rub as they will either burst in to tears or fall asleep on you. 

Altogether now: ‘That’s shit’

Pursuit of Sleep

Who hasn’t raised their eyes to the heavens at 3am and promised a range of empty vows in exchange for a good night’s sleep? Who hasn’t gone to bed thought ‘tonight they will sleep because I bought The Big Issue and let the vendor keep the change’? Who hasn’t tried any of the following and then despaired because they didn’t work after one night’s half-arsed attempt:

-the wake to sleep method

-the shush to sleep method 

-the night feed ‘top up’

-the Gro Clock

-the commando crawl exit technique 

-the no cry sleep solution 

Or any number of methods that you’ve found during a 4.15am Google search. 

Hushhhh my little petal

Don’t bother. 

Any method you choose will inevitably result in your child being either a serial killer or having mum issues. 

Controlled crying? SOMEONE CALL SOCIAL SERVICES

Co-sleeping? SOMEONE CALL FREUD

There is no right method for getting a kid to go to sleep and stay in its bastard bed until morning. So just lie. Tell everyone your darling child sleeps through from 6-8 and give off a general impression that they’re maybe just not doing it right whilst you slap on some spendy hand cream and fouff your hair – oh wait…

Parenting Controversies: part 1

Much like Brexit or gun control, parenting is a controversial topic that demands commenting on by angry unqualified people. As a hard-nosed journalist (splutter), it is my duty to stick an oar in on a variety of profound issues which I will do in a new, weekly series called Parenting Controversies. 

Starting big this week with…

The Gym Kit on the School Run

People just lurrrve to comment on what women should or shouldn’t wear and recently I’ve heard a load of gumpf on how wrong it is for women to wear their workout gear  to the school gates. 

Anyone else feel like this is horse dung?!

The rub seems to be that either you’re a smug show off or a slovenly sweaty slut who hasn’t showered. I am 100% both of these things so perhaps that’s why I do, regularly, wear my Nikes for the AM drop off. 

The school run is tough enough- politically, logistically, emotionally- so I would say that army fatigues are probably the best thing to wear. Lots of pockets for snacks and bribes, the ability to camoflague yourself in a holly bush should you hear the words ‘bake sale’ or ‘raffle donations’ etc. Ideal!

As this is yet to catch on (it will: you read it here first), I wear the next most practical get-up: my gym kit. 

Shock! Horror! Outrage! Judgement!

I do it because running to the beat the bell is my warm up and then I come home, chuck the toddler in front of CBeebies (judgement overdrive!) and do a workout at home. 

The idea that I would bother going from PJs to jeans to PE kit to shower to jeans is utterly proposterous- who has time to be that inefficient?! So, for now, I will flaunt the judgments of others, clad my lumps n bumps in Lycra and wobble my bits to the school gates with pride: women should be proud of their sisters in sports bras because there’s no shame in being fit, strong, and time-efficient. 

So, are we settled? Women can wear whatever the bollocks they like on the school run or wherever else they are going, right? Ball gown, hijab, miniskirt, make up, power suit, pyjamas or PE kit- who gives a fig!

Haters gonna hate


Any other parenting minefields you can think of? Leave in the comments any other explosive topics!

Health on a Shelf: keeping it smug this Christmas

Hilarious!

We have a zero-sugar policy all year round and the boys have only asked for charitable donations this Christmas so I think we’ve established I’m a better parent than you. However, the run up to Christmas is not an excuse to let standards slip.

We reject consumerism

But because of our gluten-, wheat-, E number-, additives- and toxin-free diet, we have to think outside the (Smartie) box when it comes to advent. 

Our little angelmuffins don’t need an elf’s watchful eye to ensure their already immaculate behaviour so DH and I created our unique concept, Health on a Shelf. 
Instead of a cheeky elf, each morning our children skip downstairs to find the new and hilarious places fruit is hiding in our home. 

Titter!

My DH and I have a great time thinking of inventive places to prop a peach or conceal a kiwi.

We just love seeing their happy faces shine in disbelief and their eyes twinkle with the magic of Christmas. 

It’s super easy and a great way to get children to enjoy one of their recommended eighteen a day: not that my kids need any persuading! 

Thank you, Jo Cox

Becoming a parent is like being hit by a freight train: it whisks you away from everything that is familiar- your work, friends, social life- and leaves you gasping and disorientated. Friendship is what gets you back in your feet again. 

Since moving from a tight-knit community to a small market town, I have struggled to make friends. I think they can smell my desperation at the school gates so no one meets my rabid smile. The man in One Stop is nice to me and I chat with the postman but I would say the butcher is probably my main regular contact in the town and I don’t think he knows my name. 

I saw a poster at the GP surgery (one of the loneliest places in the world for a new parent) advertising a Chat and Play session at our local Children’s Centre and something about the wording spoke to me. 

I had a whacking long list of jobs to do but I have felt the low-level hum of loneliness for a while. I miss not having someone to text and say ‘I’m off to the park in five mins -fancy coming too?’  It feels like an age since someone knocked on my door because they were passing. I really miss knowing my neighbours’ names. I blame growing up in a small village of busy-bodies for my need for a network of people. 

Anyway. It took a lot for me to go to this session. I felt deeply self-conscious and a bit tearful and silly. 

I nearly bolted when I got there. I was the only one with a child over a year old.  I even went to the sign-in sheet and said, with a watery lump of shame in my throat: ‘Sorry, I think I’ve misjudged this’. 

Then more and more women came in. Some with babies. Some with older children. And I said, out loud, to a room full of women I didn’t know, ‘I feel really lonely at the moment. I feel like I’ve slipped through the cracks and I’m the only one’ 
I have a great network of friends. Loyal, clever, kind and hilarious women who would do, and have done, anything for me. I am utterly grateful for them. However, you need friends who’ve got children the same age as yours. It’s oddly vital to socialising on weekdays: my friend who doesn’t work on Fridays doesn’t want to come to soft play on her day off now her kids are at school. Who would?!

So today I said all this out loud to a room full of strangers and four of them looked right back at me and said ‘I understand’ 

The lovely staff there suggested a regular meet up. What about the local garden centre? They’re looking to reach out to the community, aren’t they? What about applying for a grant from the Council? That way you could make some fliers and spead the word, couldn’t you?

So that’s what we did. We murbled our way through a round of Wheels on the Bus, put our shoes back on, wrestled the kids in to their coats and bobble hats and, there and then, five of us went straight to the local garden centre cafe. 

After a couple of rounds of coffee and cake and a meeting with the manager we set a regular time and date and founded ourselves a new group. 

It felt really, really good and it wasn’t even midday yet!

So thank you, Jo Cox Foundation. Thank you for getting a room full of women together and allowing us to use the ‘L’ word without shame. Thank you for helping me find other people who get it: I already feel far less alone. 

We are meeting at Roots Cafe at Wymondham Baptist Church at 10am on Friday mornings. We will be there next week (1st December) and the cake portions are generous so why not come along? 


We Got This: a roaring (with laughter) success

I bloody love living in Norfolk, but sometimes I get a bit miffed that no one else seems to notice us. All those bloggers, vloggers and buggers seem to be meeting, lunching and launching in Bristol, Birmingham, Brighton and, err, London. Meanwhile, we’re out here with our newly-built, under-utilised dual carriage way just waiting for  someone to swing by and drop some culture/couture/credibility on us. *

But they never do. 

Until…
Enter Emma. She has founded We Got This (Sometimes) in Norwich. Last night was her launch event at Open in Norwich and Katie Kirby’s (aka Hurrah for Gin) book tour was her first event.

When tickets went on sale, you could almost hear the social media hum with excitement, you could feel the flurry of texts to babysitters and the scratching of family calendars being rewritten as pick ups, meal times and after school clubs are all rearranged and resolved: all the tell tale signs of a mum’s night out in the making.
And what a night.

My friend, Clare, and I met in the foyer at Open. It was already dark outside and we’d come straight from work which all added to the excitement and giggliness. Our tickets were zapped with efficiency and a smile and we were in.

Not much else gives me such a tummy flip of goodwill than walking in to a room full of women. I love feeling that sense of sisterhood and pride when there’s a get together of women all intent on acceptance, humour and a sense of freedom. 

The room was alive with women in their thirties who were delighted to be missing bath and bed for the night. There were stalls selling beauty products, cakes and stationery. Waterstones were there selling copies of the books. The bar was three-deep with women ordering plastic cups of g&ts. The coat-room -which was free!- was full of bags and coats as women broke free from the shackles of nappy bags and coat pockets full of half-eaten snacks.

A hush settled as we took our seats for Katie’s talk. Emma spoke first about upcoming events. Key Words: fashion & Erica Davies. Clare and I nudged each other and made mental notes to put dates in the diary.

Katie came on stage to whoops and cheers and what ensued was a conversation between her and Emma that was a Q&A of insightful questions and hilarious answers. Katie is a wordsmith of comedy genius and it was great fun to spend time in her company under the lovely hosting by Emma

As they were talking, I had a little peer around the room. It was rammed to the rafters with bright-eyed women, roaring with laughter and nodding in recognition of toddler anecdotes. I wanted all these women to be my friends and, last night, I felt like they were. 
Thank you, Emma, for a great night out and all your hard work. 

(Ooh, and THANK YOU for our goody bags of loveliness: I’m off to slug my tin of gin and toast the your success)

Bring on the next knees up!


 
 
 
 
 
*I remember over hearing two old boys discussing Norwich’s first Gay Pride: ‘That’s why we shouldn’t dual carriage-way the A11!’