Friday, 29 July 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful

I have spent all day yesterday and most of today painting. Not the 'create a masterpiece with your kids' sort of painting. Not even the 'splash a coat of imaginatively named coloured emulsion over the walls for an instant room makeover' sort of painting. I have been doing the painstaking  'glossing to protect your exterior wood from the elements' sort of painting.

Neither my husband nor I are big fans of uPVC double glazing (a simple fact that I really wish the dozens of salesman who are regular callers at my front door would grasp). We have some beautiful stained glass and I would hate to sacrifice it for the sake of slightly better sound and draught proofing. It does of course mean that we have the job of maintaining the frames and it is long overdue - hence the reason that I could be found outside with a paintbrush in my hand for the best part of two days.

It is hard work, especially the preparation and the cleaning up your brushes afterwards, but I am starting to see the results now. I have a long way still to go but it is looking good and that is very satisfying.

I took my 14 year old to get her ears pierced and do a bit of shopping on Monday. While we were in town we got her hair cut too. What a transformation! I took a young girl shopping with me and brought home a young woman. Here she is modelling her new look.

I had recovered enough from my 5K run by Tuesday to enjoy a lovely family bike ride along the Severn Valley cycle trail. We ran into a little bit of difficulty at the start of our ride in the sense that we were not actually on the bike trail to begin with. Before we found ourselves on the wide, well surfaced, signposted trail we had a bit of 'extreme' terrain to deal with - a narrow, bumpy track running along the river with tall stinging nettles on one side and a steep drop down to the water on the other. All a bit scary with a tag along trailer bike but we managed and it was very beautiful.

At Hampton Loade, we caught the steam train back to our starting point at Highley. 

Our three year old loved the experience of going on the train, especially when the whistle blew. It was a lovely day out, rounded off with a pub lunch and an ice lolly on the drive home. Simple things, but it is usually the simple things that give me reasons to be cheerful.

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Family Fun with Dobble & Jungle Speed

The lovely folks at Esdevium Games, that impressed me so much with their Retro Monopoly at the Christmas in July Event, have kindly sent me two games to try out with my family:
  • Dobble, and
  • Jungle Speed.
Both are card games based on simple matching, both are presented in practical containers making them ideal for travel and economical on space in the games cupboard, both are a huge amount of fun.

RRP £12.99
Age: 6+

Fifty five glossy, round cards are housed in a strong tin bearing the distinctive Dobble logo. Each card is illustrated with eight symbols (and here's the clever bit) with only one symbol in common with any other card.

There are five different variations of the game explained in the rules but the general idea is to find the matching symbols.

This is not as easy as it sounds! As well as having to process the visual information from more than one card at a time, there is an added complication of scale and orientation. The images vary in size which can really confuse your mind and owing to the circular nature of the cards can be in any orientation relative to the observer. Sometimes the matches seem to jump out at you - other times you can stare blankly at your cards wondering why a seemingly simple task is beyond you!

Even if you spot a match, you still have the difficulty of shouting out the name of your object before anybody else. This resulted in much hilarity during our games with the misnaming of things and words getting stuck somewhere between brain and mouth in our haste to claim our matches.

The video shows a small taster of game play from each of the five variations.

We were able to adapt the game to include my eager three year old by allowing her a turn in which she was given time to find her match without being in competition with anyone else. Of course we gave her lots of encouragement and praise when she succeeded. It did slow down the pace of the game but remained challenging to the older players whilst giving the little one the chance to feel properly involved.

Jungle Speed
RRP £14.99
Age: 7+

Although essentially this is another card matching game it has a very different character to Dobble. It comes with a drawstring bag to store the 80 beautifully illustrated symbol cards and a wooden totem. To me, it has a very exotic feel.

All the cards are dealt out amongst the players and each player takes it in turn to turn over a card from their pile. If this card exactly matches the symbol on another player's card,  a 'duel' commences between those two players. The 'duel' consists of making a grab for the wooden  totem which is positioned centrally. The person to grab it first wins the duel and the loser must take all the cards in their discard pile. The object of the game is to be the first to rid of all their cards. 

Some of the cards have similar but not identical symbols so care must be taken when deciding whether or not a pair match. 

There are also three special cards that change the gameplay eg for one round players must match the symbol colours rather than the actual symbol. 

It is a very fast paced game with the duelling aspect creating much excitement.

In case you are still in any confusion over how this game is played, the video attempts to explain it!

Again, we were able to adapt the rules slightly so that the thee year old could be involved and feel as grown up as the rest of the family.

Dobble and Jungle Speed are both available to purchase from

Monday, 25 July 2011

My Last #MumenTum Post

Completing my 5K Run yesterday was a huge achievement for me and one I could not have conceived of before losing the baby weight and committing to regular exercise. My life really has changed in a very positive way.

With the scales reading 10st 5lbs this morning, I finally felt entitled to claim the last of the incentive rewards that my husband prepared for me back in September when I first decided to tackle my weight issues. I am embarrassed that it has taken me this long! Inside my gift bag was a beautiful pair of Swarkovski crytal earrings and an envelope containing money and instructions to buy myself some new clothes.

The gift was well timed. I am going shopping today with Charis who has decided that at 14years old, the time is right to have her ears pieced. Sensibly, she wants to do it now at the start of the summer holidays so that they will be completely healed by the time she starts back at school.

I really hope I can find some clothes that fit and make me feel good. I usually come home from shopping trips empty handed and feeling like some kind of freak with a body shape unwilling to co-operate with high street fashion. Not good for confidence or self-esteem.

I have every intention of continuing with a healthy lifestyle and maintaining my weight at its current level. If, however, the waistband of my jeans starts to feel a little tight and I have to let my belt out a notch, please be ready to accept me back into the Mumentum fold. In the meantime, Good Luck (I'll be checking in to see how everybody is getting on) and a big THANK YOU to everyone (especially Liska) for your support. I couldn't have done it without you. xx

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Racing for Life

Right at this moment I feel fantastic.

I have no doubt that later the aches and pains will start to make themselves felt to remind me that running 5K is not something I do every day.

Today was my Race for Life day.

I was up early and dressed in my official pink T Shirt. Ivy kindly put my hair up in a French plait to keep it out of the way and I was ready.

When we got to the Race venue at Weston Park it was hard not to be impressed. I knew that there would be 3750 women there all showing their support but nothing prepares you for that much PINK! Most participants wore dedications on the backs, proudly displaying the names of people that had lost their lives to cancer or who were battling the disease. It did make me feel quite emotional.

After a mass aerobic warm up, we were lead to the starting line. Serious runners went first followed by joggers then the walkers. Liberty and myself joined the joggers.

... And we're off!

Weston Park provided a glorious setting to run. The sun was shining but there was a cool breeze keeping it pleasant.  The route was marked with the Kilometre milestones so it was easy to keep track of how far you had come and hence how far left still to conquer. Passing the 3Km was a huge boost, knowing I was over half way and feeling as though I really could do this.

It actually wasn't possible to keep running the whole way round. There were some bottle necks on the course and everything slowed down to a walking pace. I didn't mind. It was good to catch my breath.

Liberty and I did not manage to stay together the whole time. It was great for me because I got to witness her epic finish and cheer her on (I wish I'd had my camera at that moment).

I have spoken before about my sister for whom I was running this race and how I firmly believe she can exert a cosmic influence on the lives of us mere mortals left behind. I had just reached the "500 metres left till the finish line" marker and was feeling as though it might just be 500 metres too far. As my spirits were flagging, my french plait mysteriously got completely tangled up in the safety pin holding my back sign bearing Carol's name giving my hair a very obvious tug. Coincidence? Maybe. But that hair tugging reminder that I had come so far and I was so nearly there put a big smile on my face and I ran. As that finish line came into view I ran faster than I think I've ever run before. It felt like flying. I was overtaking people and I was doing it for Carol.

The runner who crossed the line first did so in 20 minutes. It took me just under 40 minutes and Liberty was hot on my heels. As I had anticipated it taking me an hour, I was really pleased with that result. These are our before and after shots. Our complexions match our T Shirts in the 'after' shot, but we're still smiling!

I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and would whole heartedly recommend it to anyone. It is also a good feeling to have raised money through sponsorship (a big thank you those who sponsored me) for the Cancer Research charity in the hope that they can keep moving the treatments forward to beat this disease that affects so many lives.

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 23 July 2011

White Puddles

I always intended to try and breast feed my son until he was a year old and I succeeded.

I was very lucky. Apart from two occasions that I remember of mastitis (easily remedied with a savoy cabbage leaf in my bra) and the toe curling latching on pain in the early days, I have had it easy. I have never suffered any opposition to breast feeding in public or met with disapproval in any way.

My son has flourished.

I have loved the special bond we've shared and I am proud that I have given him a good start in life.

Introducing solid food was easy. He has a very healthy appetite and enjoys a whole variety of different foods.

At one year old, he was no longer a baby. He was close to walking unaided and  filled with curiosity about his world.

His interest in breastfeeding naturally declined during the day but he was still taking feeds last thing at night and first thing in the morning (and if he woke during the night). I was happy to continue for as long as he needed it but I did wonder whether he really needed it. I felt that for both of us it was more habit than need - a habit that for me was becoming much less enjoyable because of his size and tendency to fidget to try and see what was going on around him at the same time.

I decided that it was time to stop.

I was expecting inconsolable screaming from him and painfully engorged breasts from me. Neither happened. He will occasionally still get a bit cross with me and tug at my T- shirt but mostly he is perfectly happy with his beaker of milk and a cuddle.

The worst part of the whole process is that the transition from breast to beaker is a messy one. We are still very much in the 'white puddle' stage. When his immediate need is sated, milk is such fun to play with. Even the beakers with the valved spouts don't protect me from this - he sucks the milk into his mouth then gleefully lets it dribble out.

There is a slight tinge of sadness that my breastfeeding journey is now over. I will miss the feeling of full, lactating breasts and will be very sorry to replace my D cup bras with the hardly worth bothering with B cup variety but as they say, all good things must come to an end.

Baby Sensory Nappy Balm - review

Whenever I hear the words 'natural', 'ethical' and 'locally sourced' in relation to the sorts of products that I buy, my ears prick up.

Baby Sensory have launched a 100% natural and ethical nappy balm handmade in Scotland from locally sourced ingredients. I was very pleased to have the chance to try it.

Both my little ones have dry skin which sometimes irritates them to the point that they scratch until it bleeds. It breaks my heart to see their precious skin sore and scabbed over.

The Baby Sensory nappy balm is created using a combination of the following natural ingredients which are thought to have beneficial properties:
  • sunflower seed oil to lock in moisture and form a protective barrier
  • olive oil to promote elasticity and counteract the effect of environmental pollutants
  • cocoa butter an antiseptic agent to protect against various skin conditions
  • beeswax for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and skin softening properties
  • castor oil to soften rough skin and cleanse
Sounds wonderful.

The nappy balm is presented in a strong, no frills container with a well fitting lid.

It looked a little like vaseline to me but it was much lighter and lovely to smooth onto the skin. I could only detect a very subtle aroma of beeswax, vaguely reminiscent of freshly polished furniture.

The balm did absorb into the skin but there was definitely an invisible protective residue left behind which was not sticky or unpleasant in any way.

I am not going to say that it is some sort of a miracle cure but it is certainly helping and it is the only treatment that I have used that has elicited the response from my three year old "feels soft".

My teenage daughter has recently returned from Spain with a rather nasty patch of sunburn on her chest. Without telling her that this was 'nappy balm' in case she was put off by that, I offered it to her to try. The fact that she came back asking for more speaks for itself. The fact that she continued to use it even after reading the 'nappy balm' label, speaks louder.

This is a lovely product with a multitude of uses. A little goes a long way so at £5.99 for a 50ml pot I believe it also represents excellent value for money.

100 Word Challenge - My bronze heart ...

I saw this 100 Word Challenge on Mari's World and thought it was something right up my street. This is my contribution for the photo prompt below.

My bronze heart beats with the rhythm of the foundry.

The memory of molten metal that caressed the dark corners of the mould with fiery fingers at my creation, flows now through pulsing veins.

I am perfect. The loving hands of skilled craftsmen that painstakingly polished every contour and ridge assured me of this.

I sit silently longing for admiration, inviting scrutiny.

Why then do you rush past me without so much as a glance?

Friday, 22 July 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful

Taylor passed her driving theory test today. 

Charis is back from Spain looking healthy and happy.

We had a lovely impromptu family barbecue to celebrate ONE and TWO above while the sun shined.

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Thursday, 21 July 2011


Visitors to my blog may have noticed that I like zebra print!

The absolute best way of appreciating zebra print has to be on a living breathing zebra.

On my recent trip to West Midlands Safari Park, I took the opportunity with a most obliging zebra to capture some images in the hope of replacing my blog background with one of my own photographs. I haven't had the opportunity to play around with that yet so I don't know whether QWERTY Mum will be about to undergo a minor facelift, but I did enjoy indulging my passion for the black and white and stripy!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

On Safari

I would love to go on an African Safari but for now I will have to make do with a day out at West Midlands Safari Park with the kids. It doesn't really bare much comparison but the weather was kind, the kids enjoyed themselves and it was a good way to get up close to animals.

The day wasn't really about photography. I didn't take my SLR camera and long lens. I only had my  Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ8. With a combination of auto focus, zoom, framing and leaning out of the car window I managed to get some shots I was quite pleased with. It think it is a great little camera - small enough to fit in your pocket but capable of capturing clear images with excellent colour and contrast.

These are some of my snaps.

The Pachyderm Parade

No Safari Park Photo Collection is complete without one of these.

Of course, once my little girl discovered the Amusement Park area, she decided that she didn't like animals any more!

We had a lovely family day out and as the Park give you a voucher for a Free Return Visit we shall definitely be back - maybe next time with all my photographic equipment to see what difference it makes to my photographs!

The Gallery - Week 67 - Vintage

I do not own anything that I would classify as truly 'vintage' but  I do have a small collection of old books that have the ability to transport  me back to a bygone age with every flick of the yellowed pages.

My collection includes:

  • the marvellously Politically UNcorrect  "Book of Brownies" by Enid Blyton (1967)  where the people in Cleverland will spank you for being stupid and 'gay' really did mean happy.

  • the 1941 guide to "Love without Fear" where needless descriptions of the unsavoury are avoided but aims to ensure that your sex life will no longer be deplorably unsatisfactory. The introduction states that - Not one husband in twelve knows enough of the technique of love to enable him to impart and recieve half the pleasure which should be derived from sexual union and The overwhelming majority of wives NEVER know the supreme joy which the sex act can yield to the ideally mated. 

My favourite of the old books is a modest paperback guide from the fifties entitled "How to Decorate a Cake" by Anne Anson produced by the makers of Decorating Equipment - Tala. With the image of the immaculately groomed housewife on the front cover and the very formal writing style it is impossible not to take on the identity of Domestic Goddess as you learn everything you need to know about making a perfectly decorated cake and even how the challenge of Cocktail Parties can be met with a well set out sideboard, piled with an imaginative array of appetisers, in gay colours, novel shapes and unusual and delicious flavours. The Cocktail Hostess is even encouraged to be somewhat reckless,  following every whim of her imagination and by heeding this good advice will henceforward be known as a delightful hostess and excellent cook. All of this in one 32 page booklet!

So for my Gallery contribution today I give you - How to Decorate a Cake.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Running for Carol

I love walking. I can walk for miles.  Running? Not so much.

Why then have I put myself down to run the 5K Race for Life this coming weekend?

I did say in my 11 things for 2011, back when the year was new and I was full of motivation, that I would seek experiences outside of my comfort zone. Running anything more than 10 minutes on the treadmill will take me seriously outside my comfort zone.

So that does tick one box but there are many more things I could have chosen instead. Why this?

Simple  really.

I will be running the race for my older sister who died of cancer shortly before her 36th birthday. She is never very far from my thoughts and my world is a less colourful place without her in it. I will run this race with every last ounce of energy I possess and I will do it in her honour. With every scream of pain from my unsuspecting muscles I will imagine her sitting on her heavenly cloud, looking down at me, shaking her head and thinking what an idiot I am.

Love you Carol and Miss you always xx

Monday, 18 July 2011

Reaching the Magic Number

I am not quite ready to leave the security of the MumenTum group yet in case what my eyes saw on the window of my digital scales this morning was a fluke or if in allowing myself to believe that it was true I will immediately relax my attitude towards food and spiral out of control again.

My scales told a story with a happy ending. My scales registered BELOW 10 and half stone.

Nothing magical happened. I didn't look in the mirror and think Wow. I can see I still have some work to do tightening this and toning that but at least I am giving myself the best chance to achieve it.

If by next week I haven't regained the weight loss, I will hand in my Mumentum membership and start my life long Maintenance Program which hopefully can include more alcohol (I'm fed up of turning down the beer and wine!!)

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The London Globee

One of the companies I discovered at the Christmas in July event was Globee.

The product that they are hoping will take a slice of the lucrative Christmas market is their innovative City Globe which bears the same name as the company.

The Globees are available in different sizes and featuring a whole range of different cities.

I was given a London Globee to review. It is the 15cm diameter Globee which retails at £20.

It is beautifully illustrated with 40 key landmarks and an accompanying booklet that provides additional information about the landmarks.

I love the slightly muted colour scheme, the cartoon feel of the building illustrations and the amazing amount of detail. What I am struggling to understand is the whole concept of having a city map in globe format. It works for the world map because the world is a sphere - but cities aren't. I don't really get it.

If I could get past that confusion, I would absolutely love these.

There is no denying that the globe format is intriguing and it invites you to spin and explore.

There is definitely an educational element but I also think it would make a lovely souvenir. I can imagine having a Globee collection of all the cities that are important to me - places I have lived or visited or dream of visiting.

Globee do aim their product at both the child and adult market and I could see that they would make an unusual gift for those 'difficult to buy for people', which is always a bonus.

My favourite part of the London Globee is the depiction of the little Guards outside Buckingham Palace because it reminds me of my dad who as a young man could have been found wearing a bearskin himself.

The more I write about how much I like this product, the less concerned I am about my initial objection to the whole globe thing. This is what the rest of the family think of the London Globee.

I have made a  decision - the Globee is going to take pride of place on my desk next to my computer where I will see it (and spin it) every day and who cares if cities aren't spheres!

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 16 July 2011

A Busy Week for Preston Parrot

It has been a busy week for my little Charis. I say 'little' - at 14 years of age she is actually taller than me (and I'm not exactly short at 5' 9") but she is the youngest of the four girls from my first marriage.

The beginning of the week saw her involved in increasingly stressful rehearsals for the play she was taking part in. The stress was a result of people dropping out at the last minute in protest at being told that they would not be allowed to the After Show Party because they had chosen to go to a school disco rather than a rehearsal. These arty types! What are they like?!!

You have to believe that It'll be Aright on the Night - and it was. Better than alright actually. It was thoroughly entertaining and well acted.

On the opening night, Charis was marvellously confident in her role and got a big cheer (not just from me and my mum) when she came out to take her bow at the end.

The following day was school sports day. Charis is very determined but I think she would forgive me for saying that she is not a natural athlete. She didn't come last in any of her races but neither was she going to gain any recognition for her placings. When she got home she was exhausted - overheated and croaky - and she had another performance to pull out of the bag that evening.

Like a true professional, she sorted herself out and found the energy to give 100% to her portrayal of Preston the singing Parrot.

It came as a complete surprise to me that at the end of the show, the Amateur Dramatic Society presented Charis with the impressively named "Bill Marston Trophy for outstanding effort and a consistently high standard of work". She showed off her framed certificate and silver cup with great pride.

The After Show Party kept her busy late into the evening.

She desperately needed a well earned rest but the following day she had to be at school (thankfully not too early) to catch a coach that would take her and fellow linguists on a trip to Spain to immerse themselves in the language and culture. We were still packing her bags minutes before we needed to leave but I think we remembered everything.

A smiling, excited girl boarded that coach for her next adventure. I just hope she managed to get some sleep!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Passport Photographs

I really want to get away somewhere this summer - somewhere exotic, somewhere lovely, somewhere abroad. In order for there to be any possibility of that happening I need to renew my passport which is about to expire and still in my old pre-wedding name. I also need to apply for a passport for my Boy - another of those jobs I never quite got round to.

I think my husband got fed up of waiting for me to spring into form filling action. He promised to get it all sorted. All I needed to do was provide the passport photographs.

I headed off to Morrisons in the knowledge that they had one of those Passport Photo Booths in their foyer. It took me forever to adjust the seat to the right height, the curtain was most unco-operative in the shutting department and by the time I felt ready to begin, I was sweaty and flustered. Not the ideal frame of mind for the task ahead.

I reluctantly fed my five pound coins into the slot ( £5!!! Really!! You have got to be kidding!!) and followed the instructions. During the countdown before the photograph is taken, I had the most overwhelming urge to twitch - but resisted. As the slow stream of Morrisons customers passed by my little booth on the way to their waiting vehicles with their week's shopping, I sat on my carefully adjusted seat, shoulders back, hair mostly away from my face, trying very hard to achieve a 'neutral expression'.

A screen displayed my four poses and I was invited to select which one I would like printed. The difference between them was barely discernible but one seemed infinitesimally better to me and all told, not too dreadful. I selected it and mentally congratulated myself on getting the job done.

There was a man trying to get people to donate to the Dog's Trust Charity by monthly Direct Debit in the foyer. He tried his luck with me but I told him politely that dog charities were not something close to my heart. As I waited for my photographs to be delivered, I chatted with him about holidays. I'm not sure how long we chatted but it was longer than the time it should take for the photos to spew out from the machine and there was still no sign of them.

Eventually, a Morrisons employee in a crisp regulation uniform came and informed me that the machine should have been displaying an Out of Order Sign because they think it might have run out of paper or something. My heart sank. I was lead to customer services where I was refunded my five pound coins and told to try the Post Office where it was a pound cheaper anyway.

I'd done it once I could do it again.

I walked to the Post Office, battled once more with the adjustable seat and an even less obliging curtain and followed a new set of instructions. This machine had the option for black and white or colour so I selected black and white, vainly thinking it might  be more flattering. Wrong. The camera must have been fitted with a 'Serial Killer' filter because I came out bearing more than a passing resemblance to Moira Hindley.

By now I was past caring and still had the problem of photographing a lively one year old.

I went home and gave the results of my best effort to my husband, silently daring him to laugh or comment negatively in any way.

It was while we were checking  the rules and regulations regarding passport photographs for children that Ivy noticed  Passport Photographs must be in Colour - not Black and White. Curse my moment of misguided vanity.

Back to the drawing board.

In the end, we did what we should have done in the first place. We set my conservatory up as a make shift studio and used my own camera to take the photographs against a plain background. Our local printshop did a great job of cropping them to the exact requirements.

The shot of my son is adorable. I still have a slight air of serial killer but it is vast improvement on the Photo Booth shot. As a bonus, I captured some beautiful shots of my daughter who did not want to be left out and there are even a few quite nice ones of me taken as I relaxed in between 'neutral expression' posing that I might use to update my Facebook profile.

So all's well that ends well - now where are those holiday brochures?

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful

We were unbelievably lucky with the weather at the weekend for our day out at the Pandamonium in the Park event. I'm sure it would been miserable if it had rained. As it was, the sun shone on the Chinese themed family activities and displays.

The highlight of the day was the concert of music from Kung Fu Panda and other wonderfully evocative movie themes by  Hans Zimmer and John Powell, performed with passion by the amazing orchestra. My personal favourite was the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean - but then who wouldn't want to have images of Jack Sparrow conjured in their mind?! 

I couldn't work out why everyone was so impressed by this Shaolin Warrior's handstand that I photographed because I liked his muscles and orange trousers.

What my bad photograph failed to capture was that the 'hand'stand was actually a two finger stand. Here he is again psyching himself up for the incredible feat of strength and balance.

After weeks of rehearsals, daughter Charis finally had the opening night of the play "Splash" in which she had a leading role as Preston Parrot. She delivered her lines confidently and sung her solo with the beautiful clear voice that still catches me by surprise. I felt so proud of her and enjoyed spending time with my mum who is a loyal supporter of her granddaughter's theatrical pursuits. 

My cold which has been sabotaging my weight loss efforts and making me feel generally miserable is retreating. I have no excuse now. Time to get back on track with my diet. I am so close to being where I want to be in terms of body shape and fitness and I am beginning to feel back in control, energised and ready. If I can actually see the numbers on the scale heading in the right direction again, that really will give me a Reason to be Cheerful.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Gallery - Week 66 - Travel

Apart from a school cruise on the infamous SS Uganda and a handful of trips across the Channel, I had not  travelled when I met up with my current husband.

He was living in Switzerland and had previously lived in France, Greece and the Caribbean. His passion for sailing had taken him to places I could only dream of.

Did I feel envious or inadequate? Not really. My life was different - more home centred, wrapped up in being a mum to my little brood. I had had opportunities to go abroad with my first husband but the truth was, I didn't enjoy spending time with him so they never happened.

My experience of the wider world was seriously limited.

Getting together with my well travelled husband, it seemed that this might all change. The children from my first marriage were growing up and there was nothing really stopping us. We had a romantic liaison in Barcelona, I visited him in Switzerland and there was the trip to Paris where we first met face to face after our internet and phone exchanges. I was starting to get a taste for it.

We booked a family holiday to Greece so my girls could be included. It was just before we left that I discovered I was pregnant.

Having a baby did change the focus of our relationship. Ideas of exotic travel were put on the back burner. We were more likely to be seen walking out of Mothercare than a Travel Agent and honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way.

We did manage a family holiday in France with my girls, the two children from my husband's first marriage and our new little one but we had to hire a mini bus to achieve it. It does all get quite difficult!

The photograph I have chosen for The Gallery was not from a holiday. My husband had to go to Switzerland to meet with divorce lawyers. It did not cost very much more to take me along so we decided to try and turn a stressful, unpleasant business into something more pleasant.

The baby took air travel all in her stride and we stayed in a lovely hotel with a balcony overlooking Lake Geneva.

Inevitably, the time spent in Court was horrible but what better way to unwind and relax than this?

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Feed a Cold...

My mum always says "Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever".

I have a cold. I am feeding it.

My mum also says something about whistling women and crowing hens, but I mostly ignore that one.

So, I have a cold and I am feeding it without giving much thought to what that might mean to my longed for weight loss. I do know that trying to restrict food intake when I am feeling rubbish is never going to work so all I can do is hope that I recover quickly and can relaunch my diet with renewed enthusiasm.

In less than a fortnight I will be running my 5K Race for Life and the last thing I want is to be carrying excess flab baggage. Actually, the last thing I want is to feel my wobbly bits jiggling as I run the course but effectively, that amounts to the same thing.

It really shouldn't be such a struggle to lose the last few pounds to achieve my ideal weight. I just need to get organised and get on with it. Now, if I can stop sneezing... that is exactly what I'll do!

Busking at the Farmers Market

The town I live in holds a quarterly Farmers Market.

It is all fairly low key - a few local producers and craftspeople set up their stalls along the high street and depending on the weather, people turn up to sample something new and buy what takes their fancy.

This quarter, the organisers decided to try and add some live music to the mix. They put out a tweet saying that they were looking for a busker and would anyone be interested. Social media is a powerful tool. My friend @EnglishFolkFan, who has her finger firmly on the Twitter pulse, retweeted to draw my attention to the request. I mentioned it to my musical girls and they were on it like a shot.

Their four piece band was reduced to three because Charis was busy all day with rehearsals for the upcoming play that she has a leading role in. Instrument wise, they were pared back to two acoustic guitars and a tambourine. I wasn't at all sure how well it would work but I went along to see.

The sun was shining and there were lots of people milling around seeing what the Farmers Market had to offer. As I walked closer, I heard the familiar sound of my girls belting out an original song that they had written in collaboration with one of Taylor's friends for a short film raising awareness of the county's Young Carers. It sounded wonderful.

They had been given a gazebo to stand under which somehow bestowed an air of importance and their open guitar case already had a good few coins thrown in.

Lots of people took leaflets that had details of how to contact them through their Not Quite Facebook and Twitter accounts and a local publican threw his business card in, which they took as a very good sign. Their favourite moment of positive feedback was when a little girl toddled by with her parents and said in that honest and heartfelt way that only small children can pull off "I like your music".

They thoroughly enjoyed the experience and as a bonus, they walked away with enough cash to make it worthwhile opening a Not Quite bank account.

Who knows? Perhaps the cost of those music lessons will turn out to be a worthwhile financial investment after all!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

I am terrible for letting things build up until they are so big they become difficult to deal with. Usually it is the ironing pile but the mountain that threatened to overwhelm me this time was the unread emails in my Inbox. When they got to nearly a thousand I felt it was definitely time to take action or run screaming from the computer. It has taken me hours but I finally have an empty Inbox and I can't tell you how much better that feels.

I had a really enjoyable day at the Christmas in July Event on Tuesday. I got to meet some blogger friends, notably New Mum Online, Liska whose #Mumentum group is inspiring me to achieve my ideal weight goal, and got to poke and play with lots of toys. The lunch was gorgeous, especially the colourful fresh fruit kebabs which I could consume without guilt. 

I had nothing in particular planned for this weekend until my little sis told me she had spare tickets for the Pandamonium in the Park family festival tomorrow at Althorp House in Northamptonshire. How could I turn down the chance to experience Dragon Dancing, Shaolin Monks, Asian Cookery Demos and music by the Pandamonic Orchestra (not to mention the slightly scary looking Kung Fu Panda)? 

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