Sunday, 27 July 2014

Country Kids - Sand Between our Toes

On Friday we had fun on the beach, sand between our toes and just enough ocean breeze to keep us cool.  We put away our devices (except to take the odd snap) and we played bare foot in the shallow waters.

As much as I try to make the most of the time little man and I have together with the teen it's becoming harder.  There is of course school, then there's homework, cheer leading, dads days, friends days and the dreaded gadgets.  I have to admit I'm as guilty as her most of the time when it comes to our gadgets but I'm trying harder to be better, to be present, to wait until night when there is nobody up to pay attention to. 

This evening, only two days later, I realised that as great as our day at the beach was I'm struggling to keep hold of my Princess.  As much as I want her to experience life for herself I would hate for her to go off the rails.  People are quick to comfort me and say, "Gail, you do a great job with them, they will always remember what you taught them."  However I know that remembering and doing are two different things.  

My wish right now is that my princess remains present and honest.  I wish we could be on the beach every day.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Silent Sunday

Friday, 25 July 2014

It's a mans world

The theme this week for the prompt is, "It's a man's world."  A fantastic prompt because it prompts all sorts of emotions in a woman, especially if one happens to be a feminist.  I would perhaps take this statement even further to say not only is it a man's world but it is a white middle class man's world.

If you are born female, you may as well give up now.  If you are born black and male, you may as well give up now.  Or at least that's what some of our children grow up thinking.  

My daughter and I love listening to LBC on the way to school in the mornings, we often have heated debates with the presenter (usually Nick Ferrari), if only he could hear us!  A few weeks ago we heard him announce that In a survey carried out on some 8-14 year olds, 1 in 5 (20%) of the black children believed that their skin colour may damage their job prospects, this was in comparison to only 2% of their white counterparts and (13% of children of Asian origin) feeling the same.  It was questioned whether the parents were to blame for teaching their children this.

I responded to the radio by saying if they were to ask my daughter this question would she have the same response, the answer would be yes.  I am to blame and frankly I don't care.  I want to teach my daughter the unfortunate realities of the society she is to become a contributing part of, a society in which as the economy stabilizes and unemployment among white Britons falls, unemployment among black Britons continues to rise.  There are so many reasons for this, too many for me to list here but what I also teach my daughter is this, when you are the best form of yourself that you can be people cannot help but take notice.  When you push yourself to achieve to the highest standards, people cannot help but take notice.  When you shine and be the star that you were born to be, people cannot help but take notice.  The path may be harder, there may be boulders to climb, you may even trip and fall on your journey but if you climb them with passion and get up with dignity, people cannot help but take notice.

Princess and her team mates holding their first place trophy 

My children know that they are champions and as such are never to give up on their dreams.  They are to fight to be victorious in all they desire and they are to be resourceful and not let anything get in their way, especially not the colour of their skin.  What we need in our schools and in the media is to show that black people are more than purely athletes, singers, TV personalities and actors.  Black people also own businesses, are scientists, lawyers, doctors, astronauts, soldiers, writers and journalists.  Our children (all of our children no matter what ethnicity) need wider aspirations and we as a society need to be the ones to give them that.

Little Man doing his "I am a Champion pose."


Sunday, 20 July 2014

Good enough is best

Sat in a small room full of mothers from different backgrounds one could easily be mistaken and take it for a PTA meeting at the local school however this meeting was in the pub, cups of tea replaced by Pimms cocktails and the focus of the meeting was not to talk about what we could do better for our children but instead to watch a performance that would reassure us that as mothers we are good enough, and good enough is best.

The set

The small cast of actresses highlight the importance of speaking out when you feel you can't cope and not judging others for their parenting 'mistakes' because if we are honest we all make them in some shape or form.  Above all else what I took from the performance was that we should place great importance on not judging ourselves nor trying to measure up to the picture we've created of a perfect mother.  There are NO PERFECT mothers.

Not only was the show very entertaining but it provided information I had not known before such as the fact that PND can effect you at any point up to the time your youngest child is aged 4, a fact that may yet prove very important to my own life.  I am unfortunately part of a club to which I would gladly hand back my membership.  I have suffered from depression since the age of 16 and in the last few months have been having a tough time.  

Some people think that something in your life has to be awful to in a sense validate the state of depression, which for some is true, but for me at this present time there is no reason.  The tears are unexplained, the sleepless nights are without reason and the irrational anxiety without clear cause.  Writing that down was difficult, but keeping it in has been harder.  So I for one am very glad that I went to see the show because alongside the encouraging words from kind-hearted people either face to face or via email, this show has made me able to talk a little more about the feelings I have behind the mask I wear to protect others, my children included.

Sometimes the people that write plays such as 'The Good Enough Mums Club' and another fantastic play that I saw a snipped of this week, 'So You Think I'm Crazy?' ( written by Ekanem Hines) set out just to talk about their personal experiences, such was the case with Emily Beecher (who suffered from post natal depression and psychosis) or to bring awareness and make an impact but the writers are not always privy to the good they are doing by not only bringing awareness to the illnesses they cover in their scripts but also encouraging people to seek support, know that they are not alone or know that they are good enough.  I purposely took my friend along with me because I knew part of her story and this morning she wrote this:

"I am proud to say that I have become an honorary member of the Good enough Mums club. This means I will no longer feel guilty that I cannot be 12 places at once. I will no longer allow criticisms of my mediocre attempts at motherhood to dampen my spirits. I will celebrate my achievements and my children rather than focus on what I haven't done. And I will pat myself on the back every time I manage to do the school run after 2 hours of convincing children to eat breakfast, wash, brush teeth, get dressed and we all manage to get out the house fully dressed, a pair of the same shoes and ironed clothes is a bonus. #motherhoodishardbutworthit"

One of the things I always say is if I make a difference to one person, be that a child when I'm teaching, a women when I'm doing a workshop, a friend, a partner or my children, then I have done my job.  The writers and cast can walk proudly knowing that they have done their jobs and good enough is best.

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Nature's magic

"Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." Roald Dahl

Sadness itself was chasing me,
without reason, excuse or design,
it's been trying to take my hope
and erase any peace I could find.

But I believe in magic,
much greater than any can see.
The magic of God in nature,
the healing that comes from a seed.

I planned out a grand destination,
where the magic of nature resides.
I softened my sadness with lavender,
laughing with love by my side.


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

MummaG's Sweet Pepper and Spinach Fritters

I like to make meals that are simple and quick as there is nothing worse than spending hours slaving in the kitchen after a busy day.  This week I've been dribbling over the many food images on Pinterest and came across some Zucchini fritters.  I didn't fancy Zucchini so thought I'd make up a recipe of my own.  In Barbados fritters are somewhat of a specialty, ranging from savoury salt fish fritters to sweet banana fritters and I love them all.  My take on this traditional snack is Sweet Pepper and Spinach Fritters.

Here's what you'll need to make them (makes approximately 16-18):
  • 2 large spring onions
  • 1 whole sweet pepper (I used a yellow pepper seeds removed)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 hot chili peppers (seeds removed)
  • large handful of spinach
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp all purpose seasoning
  • 1/2-1 tsp salt (may need more depending on taste)
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 3 eggs
  • Sunflower oil for frying
1. Clean and roughly chop Onions, sweet pepper, chili peppers and garlic place into a food processor.
2. Wash spinach and squeeze out any excess water.
3. Add mixed herbs, black pepper, salt, all purpose seasoning and spinach to the food processor.

4. Mix until all ingredients are finely chopped.

5. Remove from food processor and place in a large bowl.
6. Add the flour and eggs, mix to form a batter.

7. Heat the oil in a pan, test to see if the oil is hot by sprinkling a small bit of flour in the pan.
8. Take approximately 1 large tbsp of the batter and place in the pan, turn throughout cooking process and pierce with a fork making sure they are evenly cooked.

9. Once cooked remove and place on a paper towel to soak up excess oil.
10.  Serve with salad and a dressing of your choice ( I chose Morrison's Soy Chili/ginger dressing mixed with mayonnaise.) 

(Alternative serving suggestion: serve as an accompaniment to a meat dish) 

I decided to link this recipe to Honest Mum's 'Tasty Tuesdays' where you can find more recipes.

Tasty Tuesdays on

Saturday, 5 July 2014

My Love Affair with Rug Doctor (A review)

My carpets have needed cleaning for the longest time and when I say cleaning I don't mean hoovering or swept, that I do on an almost daily basis as well as spot cleaning any spills or accidents.  I have however kept putting it off washing the carpets, or having them washed because my children are unfortunately in the habit of walking straight into the living room shoes still on and not worry about the dirt they are bringing in, that and the fact there is not much room at the bottom of the stairs and I often find it easier to roll my sleeping toddler into the sitting room and take him out in there before collapsing the pushchair.  Therefore it wouldn't be long before I'd be washing it again.  

Anything that can't be picked up by a hoover or a good old broom has remained below the surface, until now.  The lovely people at rug doctor sent me a machine to borrow and review and I was very excited at the prospect of having clean carpets.  I'd seen the photos of previously dirty cream carpets coming up looking as clean as the day they were purchased and I wanted in.  Rug doctor doesn't make any miracle working claims, all they say is that they are they UK's best and most cost effective carpet cleaner.

I cleared the room, which was hard work and took some pictures of my carpet before I started to make sure I had some evidence of the difference.

I then had to figure out how to use it.  The machine and bottle of carpet cleaner have plenty of instructions on use and the Rug Doctor website explains how to use it as well as offering a YouYube video for the more visual learners among us.

So how did I find it?
The negatives: 

  • It was noisy.  Not that it matters much but it meant that my plans to clean overnight whilst the children were in bed did not work out as I would have had hate mail from the neighbours.
  • It is heavy, taking it out of the box was not an easy job but it is not so heavy that it makes it difficult to use, in fact when in use you hardly notice the weight as the wheels and adjustable handle make it easy for you to pull along.
  • If your your carpets are heavily stained you can't just rely on their carpet detergent, you may need some of their other products (they do recommend you pre-treating any problem areas with the appropriate Rug Doctor cleaning products)  and as I was only sent the carpet detergent I can't comment on how effective they would have been.
The positives:
  • It really does lift out a lot of dirt, I went over my carpets on 3 separate occasions to try and get the best clean possible and the amount of dirt in the dirty water tank shows just how much work the Rug Doctor is doing (and just how dirty my carpets were.)
  • The instructions on the products and the machine itself are clear and easy to use.
  • There is plenty of advice on the website on how to use the Rug Doctor correctly.
  • The prices to rent the rug doctor are very reasonable (under £30 for 24 hour rental and cleaning solution) and you can rent them from many stores (store locators can also be found on their website)
My mum put the furniture back before I had the chance to take photos of the empty room but I have taken some pictures of spots that were stained so you get an Idea of the type of cleaning you can expect just by using the carpet detergent.

The top photos are before and the bottom ones after
Although it wasn't a perfect clean there was a huge amount of difference.  "Even the best vacuum cleaners remove only a fraction of the deep down dirt, mildew, pet waste, dust mites and other allergens lurking in your carpet."  And if that is not reason enough to rent a Rug Doctor, I don't know what is.

This is a review post, I was not paid to write this post however I was loaned a free Rug Doctor for the purposes of the review, all opinions are my own.

Family Fever

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The Book or The Movie?

Last Thursday I took my class to the local library, library trips seem to be an annual thing in most schools and one that I think is very necessary.  For some children the trip to the library with school is the first time they ever step foot in one.  I was very pleased that the majority of my class do have library cards however I was disappointed when the librarian asked, 

"Would you rather read the book first or watch the movie?"

All but one child said they would rather watch the movie first.  Whatever happened to the days when young children would be so engrossed in a book that you would have to hold hot wings under their noses just to get their attention?  I'm lucky that The Teen Princess seems to fit just inside the generation of those still more interested in books than TV shows, She insisted that we read 'The Fault in Our Stars' quickly before the release of the movie and I am glad we did and I highly recommended it. I am however unfortunate enough still to have to suffer watching her use her ipod (brought by grandma S) as a book mark, just in case she misses a tweet or a new Instagram picture of Chelsee Healey.  

Little man I do worry about, he does love to be read to and when you've read one book he soon follows that up with requests for three more however he has become reluctant to sit and 'read' on his own and has developed a thing for youtube.  It started off as a treat, I'd let him watch an episode or two of Raa Raa the Noisy Lion so I could get some work done, now I fear he knows how to use YouTube and BBC iplayer on my phone better than I do.  On more than one occasion whilst I'm distracted by cleaning, lesson prep, event planning and writing (or falling asleep whilst the computer watches me) he has run my battery down with French versions of Peppa Pig and gone in search of grandmas phone, or The Princess's ipod to feed his obsession all over again.  I worry that by being busy I am letting him forget the magic of a good book, the wonder of new discoveries at the turn of every page and the images escaping out of the story into his imagination.  We do make the effort to read at least one book a day but I know I could do better.

Before work and business I would make time to read in the tent, read him a story whilst flying him to the moon in a cardboard box, take him to the library and explore new books, make up stories in the park or on a walk in the woods, now I fear that other things are taking over and the threat looms that he may become one of those children who would rather watch the movie first.

So now I have to do something about it, little man and I have to learn to be in love with books again, so in love that if given the choice he would pick a book over a movie any day.

Super Busy Mum