Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Scooby-Doo! Where are YOUUU??

With so many TV channels available to watch at any time of day or night, it is hard to imagine how we ever got by with just BBC1, BBC2 and ITV. I remember what a big deal it was when Channel 4 was launched - we felt spoilt having FOUR channels to pick from.

I don't think my children would know what had hit them if they didn't have their own dedicated kids channels. It was so different in my youth (I'm starting to sound really old now!) We had much less availability and choice, but we made the most of what we had.

I have such fond memories of the TV shows I grew up with and one such show was Scooby Doo. I would try to solve the mysteries along with the gang of 'meddling kids' and their faithful Great Dane. It has been lovely to see how Scooby-Doo has evolved over the years to appeal to new generations without ever losing the magic that made it great (although I have to confess I was never very enamoured by the talking pup, Scrappy).

I was excited to see that Scooby Doo now has its own Official Facebook Page, sharing fun facts, games, artwork, chat, news, details of TV shows and the latest Scooby-Doo products (video games, DVDs, toys and books) and featuring Monster Mondays and Fun Fridays.

I was even more excited to be sent a Hide & Seek Scooby to review.

Hide & Seek Scooby is an impressively large plush toy with all the loveable features of the mystery solving canine. It needed four AAA batteries to be inserted into the battery compartment tucked behind a velcro opening on Scooby's back. This enables communication via a bone-shaped Hand Held Unit.

The object of the game is simply to hide Scooby then have the Seeker find him with the help and encouragement of messages received through the Hand Held Unit. Lights on the Unit change from green to amber to red as the Seeker gets closer to the hiding place.

My three year old has recently discovered Hide and Seek but it is not generally a game I  encourage. The potential dangers from over ambitious hiding places and the whole idea of hiding do alarm me. Also, the reward for being good at hiding is a long boring wait until you are eventually found.

The Scooby game totally satisfied her Hide and Seek desires and eliminated all of the objections I have to the original version of the game. Hide and Seek (Scooby style!) is definitely back on the play agenda at our house. Thank you, Scooby-Doo!

Join Scooby-Doo on Facebook at

The Gallery - Week 72 - Animals

I've always had a fascination with pachyderms but this Indian Rhinoceros from the collection at West Midlands Safari Park was, for me, a totally remarkable beast. It is also known as an Armoured Rhino for the obvious reason. 

I love the textures and shapes and the sheer elegance of the design. If Darwin's theory is correct, then this is evolution at its best!

Watching these magnificent, powerful animals moving around their paddock did make me feel a little bit like I was in Jurassic Park walking with dinosaurs.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Bob's Big Build

Instead of heading home after a lovely (surprisingly sunny) holiday in Wales, we reorganised our luggage and set off towards London. Why? To attend Bob's Big Build at the O2.

Bob's Big Build at the O2, London

As VIP guests, myself, my husband and our two little builders Addy (3) and Dylan (1) were treated to breakfast on board the Thames Clipper and given exciting Bob the Builder goody bags. The boat ride put us all in the mood for an adventure and as we arrived at the event, it was obvious that there was plenty to keep us all occupied.

The children were provided with little yellow hard hats and a "Bob's Big Build' Booklet which gave details of each of the 10 fun Zones available for their entertainment. Special stickers for the booklet were collected for each zone completed.

Despite having spent the previous week on sandy Welsh beaches (or maybe because of it), Addy made a bee line for The Big Dino Dig Sand Pit (Zone 6). 

Zone 6 - The Big Dino Sand Pit

 Dylan loved the  Bob the Builder balloons and wouldn't let go of his even to Help Bob Build a Wall (Zone 7). He was a bit of a menace, bopping random passers-by in his range with his inflated foil weapon but no one seemed to mind when they saw the cheeky grin that accompanied the  assault!

Zone 7 - Help Bob Build a Wall

Being a fan of face painting, my favourite zone was the one that included the skilled and patient ladies offering a range of Bob the Builder themed images to wriggly customers. Addy opted for this simple but effective Bob face. It has definitely given me some ideas for techniques I can try at home next time I get out my Snazaroo Kit.

Zone 3 - Face Painters, Balloon Twisters & Balloons

Dad was a little star struck when it was his turn to Meet and Greet (Zone 2) Bob and Wendy!  Unfortunately, Addy found the lumbering giants in the likeness of the friendly, familiar, animated characters not to her taste - she fled, not exactly in terror but what could have escalated into something of an episode had I insisted she get any closer than her bravery dictated.

Zone 2 - Meet and Greet

The Interactive Toy Play Area (Zone 8) would have kept my little ones happy all day if there hadn't been so many other activities to try.

Zone 8 - Interactive Toy Play Area

At the end of our allotted time in the Zones, we were ushered into an Extra Zone for a screening of the movie Bob's Big Dino Dig (available on DVD from 19th September).

We had an amazing day out at Bob's Big Build, taking away lots of goodies but even better taking away  a whole lot of happy memories.

Bob the Builder and Friends

Monday, 22 August 2011

Single Sided Hearing Loss

My ears are still ringing from the onslaught of sound experienced at this weekend's V Festival. Ears and hearing have been very much in topic for me recently.

Last week I attended an audiologist appointment with my husband. As well as analysing the graphs that detailed the volumes needed before his ears registered sound at different frequencies, there was a strong educational element - as in educating me and the family in ways of helping minimise the impact of his hearing difficulties and improve communication.

It was quite sobering looking at the graphs. I've always known that he was deaf in one ear but to see the tangible evidence in graphical form made it very real. The curve for his right ear fell well within the Normal bounds whereas the curve for the left ear fell on the border between Severe and Profound deafness. The audiologist is quite sure that a digital hearing aid will offer some benefit - most notably in the sense that he will be able to localise sound more successfully. He is on the waiting list now for a fitting.

The educational part dealt with the difference between passive hearing and active listening and how difficult it can be for people with single sided hearing loss to filter out background noise and follow conversations. The advice was all fairly obvious - get the person's attention before starting to talk, face the person, maintain eye contact and don't cover your mouth, get to point and don't speak too fast, don't shout, keep an optimum distance 1.5 m and don't turn away whilst still talking. Obvious of course but how many of these simple rules do we actually follow in the home environment? Not many in any sort of consistent way. No wonder the poor man is constantly saying sorry, pardon, say that again! 

Social situations are worst for him. Especially when my family gathers and everyone talks at once. I used to worry that he was in a bad mood or bored when he seemed to glaze over but I understand now that his brain  must have been working in overdrive to try and make sense of what was going on and that cannot be sustained indefinitely.

Ironically, I have also found myself with hearing loss in one ear. As the audiologist was explaining about conditions which influence listening and tactics for better communication,  slowly and clearly and with the majority of eye contact focused on my husband, I found myself glazing over because it was such an effort to try and follow what she was saying! (Luckily, all the information I missed was laid out on helpful leaflets that we were able to take away with us and digest at our leisure.) I am not trying to trump my husband's difficulties by saying but I'm deaf too. My hearing loss is almost certainly temporary and if it hasn't sorted itself out by the time I get back from my holiday next week I will seek medical help. It has not been pleasant but it has given me a great insight into what it is like for my husband. My sympathy towards him has increased enormously.

I was determined to try and be a better facilitator of effective communication and for important things I am very much more aware of the factors that affect whether or not I can be easily understood. However, this awareness has lead me to realise that so much of what I say at home is just not very important. It is chit chat, random comments, nonsense!! It was not worthy of first gaining his attention etc etc. I started to find myself just not bothering to talk unless it was important. I wasn't being a better communicator - I was being a minimalist communicator. Shades of mood and levity were being lost to silence. A rich layer of social interaction eroded by a verbal absence.

It is really hard trying to create a balance - feeling free to communicate (the trivial as well as the necessary) yet abiding by rules. It is especially difficult at the moment with neither of us being able to hear the other properly but we are doing what we can..

We haven't quite resorted to sign language - yet!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

A Weekend of Music

The last time I was at Weston Park in Stafford was for my 5K Race for Life. This time I was there for a different sort of endurance test - the Weekend V Music Festival.

In accordance with Sod's Law, the fact that I DIDN'T pack suncream, sunhat and shades meant that we were treated to some lovely periods of bright sunshine. My wellies were redundant but I didn't care because they are pink and gorgeous and I love then.

For me, one of the joys of an event like the V Festival is the opportunity for people watching. It was, as always, fascinating and entertaining observing the wonderful variety of human life in all it's glorious forms.

I have never seen so much fake tan. The San Tropez look was obviously the look for the fashion conscious festival goer. Tans ranged from expertly applied mahogany to oompa loompa orange - and worst of all, the badly applied streaky mess with matching orange palms.

The other fashion must-have seemed to be the tiniest shorts that can exist and still qualify as shorts rather than a belt. The maternal part of me was very glad that my own grown up girls do NOT go out in public with that amount of bum cheek on display.

The music aspect of the festival did not disappoint.

Eminem's headlining comeback performance was amazing and I will definitely be putting the Recovery album on my wish list. I loved seeing Bruno Mars, Ellie Goulding (although the mum part of me really wanted her to sort her hair out) and KT Tunstall. Also, newcomer Clare Maguire is someone I will be looking out for after her powerful performance.

Sort your hair out Ellie!

There were two highlights for me.

The first was accompanying Ivy to see Hard Fi.

Ever since Ivy found out that Hard Fi had confirmed that they would be in the line up, she has been almost unbearable with her uncontained excitement. They were playing in one of the tents which was very full by the time we got to it. We made our way towards the front so Ivy could get a proper good look at her idol - lead singer, Richard Archer. The excitement that had been bubbling up, completely exploded out of her. It was lovely to see her enjoy herself without inhibitions. It was totally worth enduring the many liquid filled projectiles that were flying around the audience (several of which managed to deposit unidentifiable wetness on me) and endure her high pitched squealing (which I think actually did more harm to my already compromised hearing than the uncomfortably amplified music).

My second highlight was discovering the band Bellowhead. They were an fantastically energetic folk band complete with brass section. The lead singer had a certain edginess approaching slightly mad that I find incredibly appealing. I will definitely be looking to see what albums are available by them for my wish list and if ever I need a dose of feel good music, I will have just what I need.

No blog post about a music festival would be complete without a quick mention of the dreaded toilets.

In actual fact, they were a pleasant surprise - as clean as you could expect and some even had toilet paper! There was the unmistakable smell of disinfectant masking something less sanitary but I have experienced SO MUCH WORSE.

You may wish to look away now because the last photo shows the inside of a festival toilet for the benefit of those who have never had the pleasure.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

V Festival Checklist

Age inappropriate festival clothes √
Smokey eyes √
Bling √
Money belt (with spends) √
Pink rucksack (to match wellies) √
Pink wellies  √
Hand sanitiser √
Loo roll (*shudders at the thought of festival toilets*) √
Camera (Silent Sunday shot?) √
Butties (need to keep strength up - it's going to be a LONG day) √
Millionaire Shortbread and sweeties (planning on expending enough calories to justify this) √
Tic Tacs (for that fresh breath feeling) √
Water bottle (not to be filled with wee and lobbed into the crowd *shudders again*) √
Sunglasses and factor 50 x
Raincoat √√√√

Friday, 19 August 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

The results of the AS level exams were released yesterday and Taylor did fantastically well. She was awarded grade As in Maths, Further Maths and Business Studies as well as Bs in Critical Thinking and ICT. For one of her maths modules she scored 100% putting her well on target to achieve a place at a top University next year in her chosen subject. A shorter term benefit was the excuse to celebrate which involved lots of Mexican food and laughter.

My friend Kirk is visiting. This always makes me cheerful. There is the added bonus that he is taking me and three of my girls to the V Festival at Weston Park this weekend. Just praying for dry weather now!

I went shopping and actually managed to buy myself some clothes. Nothing too adventurous but it was nice to come home with full shopping bags rather than empty handed.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Swaine the Meerkat

Do you remember the names of the toys you had as a child?

It is more years than I care to count since I lined my teddies and dolls neatly at the end of my bed and ticked their names on a home made register to play 'schools'. Not one of my inanimate childhood companions survived the rigours of time - they have all ended up in the great toybox in the sky - yet I still remember their names and it isn't difficult to conjure up memories of how they looked and felt and even their own special smells.

My three year old has just started naming her toys. She has considerably more than I ever had and is fickle in her affections but one toy is emerging as a definite favourite.

This particular toy was purchased from Dudley Zoo's gift shop and was a birthday present from her sister. She chose it herself out of the huge array of different stuffed animals and promptly named it Swaine the Meerkat.

Standing tall and stiff, Swaine the Meerkat isn't particularly cuddly but she does often sleep with it in her bed. Swaine the Meerkat doesn't have what I would class as a friendly face (I'd go as far as to say it looks bit evil) but she loves it.

Maybe in years to come she will think back with fondness at the memory of a small, stiff, slightly evil looking Meerkat named Swaine in much the same way as I do about my old teds Cuddly, Humpty and Footso and my dolls Patricia and Michelle. Or maybe he will be a long forgotten, dusty and discarded, mass produced piece of tat who, if such things were possible, would dream of the glory days when he was the favourite, much loved possession of a little girl who gave him a name.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Bumpeez - the next playground craze?

I remember playground crazes when I was a kid. They would alternate between marbles, cats cradle, conkers, yoyos and French skipping with a brief appearance of the rather vicious clacker balls that had to be withdrawn from sale after loads of children broke their wrists with them!

During my time working as a primary school teaching assistant I witnessed plenty of playground crazes. It was reassuring to see the old favourites still making an appearance (although thankfully not the bone crunching clacker balls) but our more sophisticated, consumer driven youngsters had much more at their disposal than my generation ever did - Pokemon Trading Cards, Pogs and Bey Blades to name a few.

I'm sure that in the time I have spent away from the playground, there have been many more crazes falling in and out of popularity that I know nothing of.

The most enduring and successful of the crazes seem to be the ones that combine collectability and trading  potential with a play element requiring skill. Bumpeez deliver on all of these factors.

Bumpeez are pocket money toys due to be launched on the 24th of this month and are being hailed as the next playground craze.

Each Bumpeez has two interchangeable components - a circular chip which is encased in a bounceable silicon ring. Both components come in different colours and designs and the silicon ring is available in different shapes which as well as adding variety to collections, requires varying amounts of skill to bounce successfully.

The Bumpeez are sold in packs of two for the pocket money price of £1.99 and purchased blind to create excitement. Special rare Bumpeez have elevated trading value and if you are lucky enough to discover a Golden Bumpeez, you win a prize.

There are several suggested games that can be played with Bumpeez either with or without the silicon ring and an online element with the official website Children are encouraged to make up their own games so the play potential is limited only by imagination.

I was sent a pack of Bumpeez to review. It was actually quite exciting opening the pack to see what was inside. That aspect of the marketing strategy works brilliantly.

Although my teenage daughters are well beyond 'playground crazes', they were more than willing (in fact  I'd go as far as to say embarrassingly eager) to try out the Bumpeez. I sent them off, armed with a tub of pavement chalk, a Flip Video recorder and an enthusiastic boyfriend. This is what they got up to!

You are encouraged to "collect them all' so parents of children with a slightly obsessive streak should  be warned - Series 1 has 100 different designs. If my maths serves me correctly,  the whole collection would cost just shy of £100 if you could successfully trade all your doubles. That is significantly more than a conker and a piece of string!

Friday, 12 August 2011

E is for Eleven Ninety Five Happy Hours

I have been a little run down and out of sorts of late. If my face were a map of Europe, I have a spot the size of Portugal on my chin. Not only is it unsightly and confidence eroding, it also HURTS. Troublesome as this is, it isn't anywhere near as annoying as my other big problem which is that I have gone almost completely deaf in one ear.

Now, my husband has been deaf in one ear since childhood and although most of the time, you wouldn't know it, in some situations he does struggle. He is currently in the process of consulting with experts in the field to see if there is any possibility of improving his hearing. There is a procedure that might help but it does involve having a metal stud drilled somewhere into the occipital ridge of his skull onto which a device can be fitted. I will definitely be blogging more about this - but at another time. The point for this story is not to go into the physiology and psychology of my husbands' 'disability' but to emphasise that I am suddenly a LOT more sympathetic to what it is like to suffer hearing loss and hopefully I will be a LOT more tolerant when he fails to hear me and I have to repeat myself.

I am not bothered so much by my struggle to hear what people are saying, it is more the discordant symphony of noises from inside my head that plagues me. Noises that I am usually blissfully unaware of. Swooshing noises. Creaking noises. High pitched whistling noises. A whole cacophony of unwanted noises. I also feel very uncomfortable talking because of the way my own voice sounds inside my head (not ideal when living with a hearing impaired husband who needs me to repeat myself!!). It is horribly isolating and extremely wearing.

Feeling how I am feeling, you can probably guess that the last thing I wanted to do was go on a Alphabet Date. However, given our complete failure to carry out a D Date and how that all impacted on the harmony of my life, I decided to throw caution to the wind and just do it anyway.

The E Date on offer involved Eating.

A new Indian restaurant has opened in our town. I'm not sure that the owners of this enterprise fully grasp the concept of 'Happy Hour' because they are offering  Happy Hours every Thursday and Sunday from 5.30pm until 10pm. Whatever they choose to call their special offer, it was an enticing Glass of Wine or Beer, Papadoms, Any Starter, Any Main Course, Any Rice or Nan and Coffee for a fixed price of £11.95.

Eleven ninety five.

That worked for us as a E date!

The children were a complete pain to get to bed so we didn't leave until after 9.30pm but we were seated before 10pm to qualify for the Happy Hours deal.

The menu gave plenty of choice for vegetarians and I thoroughly enjoyed my Chot Photia starter (which was spicy chick peas served in 'puffy bread' garnished with very pretty salad).

For my main course I had Paneer Tikka Masala (as recommended to me by my sister) and it did not disappoint. To my meat deprived palette, the tandoori oven cooked chunks of paneer tasted like finest chicken breast. The rich sauce in which they were served was a delight to the eye as well as the taste buds.

Our conversation was maybe a little stilted with more than the average amount of 'say again?'  'pardon?' and 'what?' but we were able to laugh at ourselves and I had an Excellent Evening!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

The Gallery - Week 69 - Water

On the occasion of my 45th birthday, my husband hired a hot tub for a long weekend. We certainly got our money's worth, taking every opportunity to relax in the warm, bubbly water. I loved it - especially after dark, gazing up through the steam rising from the surface at a canopy of stars. I loved it so much we actually considered buying one but were put off by the idea of maintaining it and keeping the water in a sanitary condition. It all seems a lot less romantic when that side of things is factored into the equation.

My daughter, Charis, loved it too - using it more as a very small, very warm swimming pool!

My husband also gave me my Digital SLR camera as a birthday gift. I took a lot of photographs to try out my new toy, including a series of shots of Charis in Hot Tub Heaven. These are two of my favourites.

Monday, 8 August 2011

iball 3 - Can You Do It?

I marvel at Taylor and her ability to solve the Rubiks Cube, the Bedlam Cube and just about any other puzzle that you put her way. Her logical brain, her perseverance and her delight at finding solutions are qualities that will probably ensure that she does fantastically well if she decides to study maths at University next year and also make her the perfect candidate to test the new iBall3 from HTI - an electronic interactive memory game predicted by Hamley's to be one of the 'must have' toys this Christmas.

Invented by British toymaker Andrew Reeves, the iball3 is a clear blue sphere with six light up buttons, an LED display and a whole lot of unfathomable electronics. It comes with its own impressively tall stand!

The challenge of the iball3 is to switch all six of its lights to the same colour within a time limit. Level 1 is played with sequences of three different coloured lights for each button and once completed in under 20 seconds unlocks Level 2 which is played with four colours. Every 90 seconds, the iball resets and randomises the colour sequences so the challenge remains fresh. A unique i-code which is revealed when Level 2 is completed in 60 seconds (or less) enables you to register online at  to compete against players worldwide.

Taylor eventually grasped the concept of the iball (she blamed the start of a cold for being a little slow off the mark!) and not to be outdone, Charis has been taking turns to play. I must admit that I felt a bit of a dinosaur watching their fingers dancing over the buttons as their eager young minds worked out the individual light sequences in order to switch all six buttons to the same colour light.

In the following video, Charis explains how to play the iball3. Since filming the video, Taylor has unlocked and completed level 2 in 17.8 seconds placing her top on today's leader board (at time of writing).

Taylor and Charis were certainly entertained and challenged by this highly addictive game. Tempted as I am to show my offspring that I too can be a contender on the World Leader Board, I am most likely going to stick to my good old fashioned crossword puzzles for now and leave the iball3 action to them!

The  RRP for iball3 is £16.99 and is available from Amazon

Like the Official iball3 Page on Facebook for further information, news, reviews and competitions.
Follow @iball_3_ on Twitter

Friday, 5 August 2011

D is for Depression

How hard can it be?

When we started our Alphabet Date Plan it was with the intention of making time for just me and my husband on a fairly regular basis.

I love our family time but I do think it is important to make time for us as well.

Our A and B date were both double dates with my eldest daughter and her other half (as it was all her idea in the first place) and our C date was hijacked by the little ones. Our D date was supposed to be just us. Nothing elaborate - maybe Dinner in the town where we live, conveniently called Drayton or even as simple as watching a DVD together with a Drink or two.

It has been over 2 months since our C date and still the longed for D date remains elusive.

It isn't that we can't get a babysitter for the little ones - my older daughters are all willing and very able. It's simply that life gets in the way and when there is lots going on, it is our time that gets bumped to the bottom of the priority list. It becomes so normal for our time to be the lowest priority that it starts to lose ground to such things as the fact that there was wet paint in the porch and a small amount of disruption thereabouts.

I'm not saying that if we had made time for ourselves then the following would definitely not have happened but I am almost certain that an opportunity for a little intimacy and a chance to reconnect would have put a different complexion on things.

Both my husband and I have been a somewhat frazzled of late although neither of us was particularly aware of how the other was feeling. As well as coping with the demands of a 1 year old and a 3 year old, my older girls have needed support with various things. We have been trying to organise days out for the family and undertake a fairly extensive vital repair and redecorate programme on the external woodwork of our house. It all takes time and energy.

I have been spending more time than I care to mention up a ladder painting window frames. It is not because I like being up a ladder painting window frames. It is because I am quicker and neater at painting than my husband and he (bless him) is afraid of heights. I am getting used to the ache in the soles of my feet from balancing on the rungs, the bruises on my legs (I'm not quite sure from what) and the unnerving sensation of the ladder wobbling, particularly when I over extend my reach or climb just one rung higher to reach that very top edge. And I am really pleased with the finished results. What doesn't please me and what I can't get used to is the way the whole house seems to get in a mess.

For a start, I'm not there to keep on top of my usual jobs like the laundry and general tidying up. Then there is the extra mess generated by the decorating itself. And as soon as the house falls into a small amount of disarray, it snowballs into chaos. I've had my three year old forget to use the toilet and pee on my beautiful cushion so that it went right the way through (poor cushion will never be the same again). I've had weetabix that has turned to cement on the highchair because it wasn't wiped off straight away. I've had White Puddles that you would not believe. It does all start to get me down.

I had been up my ladder painting, the baby boy had had his MMR injection and boosters (three jabs shared between two legs was hard for all involved), I had run around putting away muddles, vacuuming a seriously messed up carpet and a trail of footprints that I followed with the Dyson all the way up the stairs and beyond AND I had rehung a load of laundry that I had put on the line earlier and someone had kindly brought in when it rained (but left pegs scattered everywhere). Did I mention at the start that I was feeling frazzled?!?

My husband chose this moment to say that he felt he was the only person that ever cleared up around here. 

In his defence, he was feeling frazzled too and his moan was relating to the fact that dinner plates from a meal he had prepared the previous day had not only failed to be washed up but hadn't even been stacked neatly by the sink in readiness.

When he made his statement, I was not in the mood to defend him. In fact I was ready to throw away an otherwise beautiful relationship because I felt so badly wounded by his unfair accusation. Other little things surfaced as he tried to substantiate how he was feeling and I fell deeply into a very dark place with no energy to pull myself out.

I hate how self destructive I can be. I hate how I managed to turn his expression of his own tiredness and frustration into evidence that I was actually not good enough. I was a worthless, useless individual. Next time I climbed up my ladder to paint I didn't even care how wobbly it was. Let it fall. I don't care.

The rational part of me sits on my shoulder, tutting and shaking her head that this is a stupid way to behave - GET OVER IT. The part of me that spirals deeper and deeper into darkness pays no heed.

During my first marriage, I spent an awful lot of time suffering from depression. Luckily for me, I now have a husband that understands this side of me, will do anything and everything he can to help me and feels devastated when he knows that some careless, insensitive comment that he has made has been a catalyst for my self destruction.

I still feel fragile...

...but my rational side is gaining dominance again.

Maybe if we'd made time for that D date, we could have prevented this. We could have taken stock and reminded ourselves about the things that are really important (and by important I don't mean whether or not we washed up ). D need not have stood for Dirty Dishes and Depression.

For now, I am Declaring the D Date "inDefinitely Delayed", but I am going to make sure, for the sake of our marriage and my sanity, that we have an E date... and soon!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Road Trip

In the summer before leaving for University, Ivy passed her driving test. For two years after this she had no car and hence no driving practice. I was worried that when she did get herself a car at the beginning of this summer, she would have forgotten how to drive.

It wasn't as bad as that. She was a bit rusty but she soon remembered the old mirror, signal, manoeuvre routine and everything that went with it. However, her experience of driving on motorways was very limited and something I wanted her to have some practice with before I send her back off to University later in the year.  We decided to have a Road Trip.

Ivy and I both loved the idea of a Road Trip but neither of us were able to come up with anything very imaginative to base it on. In the end we settled for shopping and lunch in either Manchester or Birmingham. Both fulfilled the only criteria we had set which was to use Motorways but for student Ivy already living off her overdraft and for me, a self-confessed terrible shopper, neither had huge appeal.

Taylor has been out of sorts of late. After some gentle probing it turned out she has been worrying about her lack of direction when it comes to choosing which Universities and which courses she should apply for. Many of her friends (including her boyfriend) have very clear ideas about what they want for their futures and she was fairly clueless. She is incredibly bright (predicted As at A level) and leans towards mathematics as an academic preference. She had gone as far as to order a number of prospectuses from possible Universities but it transpired that said prospectuses have been sat untouched on her bookshelf taunting her for her failure to get stuck into them.

It seemed that there was a possible solution to the lack of direction for Ivy's Road Trip and Taylor's University dilemma. A good old fashioned killing of two birds with one stone. We invited Taylor to join us and set the sat nav to Warwick - home to a prestigious campus University with an interesting selection of flexible maths courses on offer. The route required the use of four different motorways.

My husband had filled the car up with fuel and provided us with sweets and water for the journey. We were ready for anything.

The journey to Warwick was uneventful. Ivy coped beautifully with the motorway driving. We had a good look round the University campus and Taylor began to feel the first stirrings of "I could study here".

We stopped for lunch at a little cafe. There was not a lot for vegetarians but a jacket spud and cheese with a cup of coffee was all we really needed. We were served by a most beautiful boy. He was tall and slender and had spiked his flame red dyed hair vertically upwards giving him the air of an exotic bird. He moved with the fluid grace and body awareness of a well trained dancer. I was quite fascinated by him (much to Taylor and Ivy's embarrassment). When I remarked about the size of our jacket spuds, his face lit up with a glorious smile as he agreed with a flamboyant flourish that they were indeed enormous! I thoroughly enjoyed that jacket spud!

After a little bit of shopping, we decided to head for home. This was where it all went wrong.

A journey that should have taken no more than an hour and a half, took four and a half hours. The traffic on the M6 was horrific. When we saw a sign saying that the M6 was actually closed ahead we made the decision to exit and use the A roads. We had a minor battle to stop the sat nav trying to direct us back to the motorway, but then the route home was fairly straightforward. Unfortunately it was also very busy. Poor Ivy certainly had plenty of driving challenges thrown at her and she coped with them all. I was grateful for the sweets and water and did get to listen to lots of music by bands that will be appearing at the V Festival I am going to later this month, so I will be able to sing along.

It may have been a horrible journey home but on a positive note, when we wave Ivy goodbye as she heads back  to Uni with her life packed in her Peugeot, I can be confident that a capable and competent driver is behind the wheel.
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