18 July 2011

In The Night Garden... LIVE!

We were lucky enough to win tickets to see In the Night Garden... LIVE at Woburn Abbey.

My boys are three and two and rarely watch ITNG these days, but they were dancing around with excitement on Saturday.

As each character appeared on stage my children leapt up, waving and shouting "good morning, Iggle Piggle!", "good morning, Makka Pakka!"...  you get the picture. I loved hearing the parents singing along too.

The show is very well done. It uses a mixture of live action, puppetry and projected images. Derek Jacobi narrates the action and the show is a live version of an episode of the programme.

What a fantastic introduction to the world of theatre. We all had an amazing time. Andy and I spent more time watching our boys' faces than watching the show. I'll let you in to a little secret now, I spent the first ten minutes crying. Seeing the joy on their faces, their eyes wide with excitement, was a treat.

One little quibble, we bought the boys a helium balloon each, shaped like the Pinky Ponk, guess how much... £8 EACH. £8. EACH. Shocking.

Was it worth going though? Of course it was. It was a magical experience.


10 July 2011


I was on the receiving end of what I am calling IKEA Rage today.

IKEA Rage is a bit like road rage, only without the road... or the cars.

I suppose it's my own fault for going to IKEA on a Sunday morning. Everyone else from Buckinghamshire and beyond had the same idea. It was hot and stuffy and full to bursting with people. I'd already run the gauntlet of surly staff and managed to make my way through the Marketplace with only three items in my bag. This is a new world record. It is also remarkable for the fact that none of these three items were tea lights.

I'd loaded up my flat trolley with flat pack furniture (a jolly evening for us beckons) and made my way to the checkouts. As I waited in the longest queue in the world I wondered what fresh level of Hell I was in.

I was about to go down a level. A man with a trolley piled high with stuff said 'excuse me' and tried to move in front of me. I said 'I don't think so'. This was the wrong thing to say. His girlfriend was ahead of me and they both turned to tell me I was out of order, she had been saving their place in the queue. She even threatened to start her five month old baby crying(?!)

I said 'go on then' and moved to let him through, but he said he'd rather find somewhere else than go in front of me because I had told him he could (again,?!). His girlfriend told him not to be so stupid. Aha, a voice of reason. He joined her. I was pretty wound up by this point and made the mistake of shaking my head and saying a sarcastic 'you're welcome', in reply to his lack of a thank you.

This was when it really started. He shouted abuse at me. I glared back at him, a Hard Stare covering up my horror. He turned away. I thought it was all over, but after a couple of minutes he turned round and started again. He wanted to argue about why I'd been in the wrong. My initial response was to say 'I let you in, didn't I?', but that wasn't good enough for him. He barked a few more questions at me. I said 'I'm not going to argue with you'. He carried on arguing. I mustered all of my courage, looked him in the eye and said 'no'. I turned away from him.

Since it is difficult to argue on your own he stopped talking at me and started talking about me. He was addressing his girlfriend, but said everything loud enough for me to hear and anyone within a ten metre radius, which, given how busy it was, was a lot of people.

My face flushed. This was horrendous. If you know me online or in real life, you will know that I don't do confrontation. I don't do debate. I don't write anything controversial.

I kept it together until I got into the car, but once there I cried. I mean, I properly sobbed. I got a sore face from wiping away the tears. I hadn't cried this much since my cat died. I couldn't drive in that state. Luckily I had my phone with me and was able to go on Twitter to see some friendly faces. Thank you to everyone who offered virtual cake, tea and sympathy.

On reflection I wonder about the etiquette of place holders in queues. Is it acceptable to use a place holder in shops? How do we feel about joining a queue at the supermarket, behind an old man carrying a loaf of bread, only for him to be joined shortly afterwards by his wife with a trolley full of groceries?

I think it's all about expectations. We choose which queue we are going to join based on how much the people in front of us have in their trolleys. If the girl in front of me at IKEA had the teetering mound of stuff she went home with, instead of one bag of tea lights in her hand, I would have chosen another queue. It's not as clear cut as they would like to believe. Also, they were only hard done by for a few minutes. My misunderstanding did not warrant the abuse I got or how it made me feel.

Now, I realise I didn't cover myself in glory today. I was grumpy and tried, albeit briefly, to stand my ground. Unfortunately this will be one of the incidents from my life that will haunt me forever. Tears will prickle in my eyes every time I hear or see IKEA mentioned. Why didn't I just keep quiet? Why did I get so upset? It's not a big deal in the general scheme of things. But still, it was pretty horrible. I guess I was in shock and a little scared.

I'd hate to cut him up at a roundabout.

So that's me and IKEA finished. I've always overlooked the overcrowding because I like a bargain. I also loved meeting NotSupermum in the Warrington IKEA for coffee or lunch when I lived in the North West. I thought it was quite sweet that the boys were getting their first Billy bookcase. Sadly, it will be their first and their last.


6 July 2011


We've bought our forever home.

We completed the day I headed down to London for Cybermummy. I had my hands on the keys, but couldn't do anything with them. The following day, while I was at the conference, Andy sent me a photo of Presley and Cash who had taken Monkey and Big Teddy to see the new house. I missed this and it made me homesick, for a place I've only looked round a few times.

We physically move in on Thursday. I'm completely unprepared, but we will muddle through. Also, the removal company are packing for us so that's one less thing to worry about. Then we'll be in our new home.

We decided to move from Lancashire in October 2009. We have been in limbo since then, but no more. We can finally put down new roots, get involved in the local community, unpack, leave everything in boxes until we need something, decorate, not decorate, buy furniture, make do and just be.

I can already feel the tension and uncertainty slipping away.

We still have our rental house for another three months, so that's two lawns to cut, two hedges to trim and two lots of weeding, but we can live with that.



5 July 2011

If you're 'appy and you know it vote for meeee!

App-ologies for the naff title of this post.

Sorry. No more app puns, promise.

I recently had the opportunity to work with Three UK who are looking to develop a brand new time-saving smartphone app. I helped set up a workshop in Manchester with my friends from the North West. We worked with an app developer and brainstormed app ideas.

Huge thanks to everyone who couldn't make the event, but emailed with ideas (Mediocre Mum, Nickie from Typecast, Amy from And 1 More Means Four and 1 More, Cara from Freckles Family and Cheshire Claire).

My team on the day named themselves 'Appy Mums. 'Appy Mums are: Geek Mummy, Lindy from Squidgyboo, Second Time Mummy, Kate from the Five F's Blog and my non-blogging friend, Lisa (yes, I have real life friends)!

It was such good fun. It felt like we were in an episode of The Apprentice, only one where we all genuinely got on!

We threw around loads of ideas and finally settled on...

Drumroll please...

The Weekly Meal Plan.
"Forgetting items during the weekly shop will be a thing of the past with Weekly Meal Plan. Parents can plot recipes and meal ideas on a calendar, automatically creating a weekly shopping list that calculates the quantities of ingredients needed based on the number of adults and children in the household."

We are up against four other teams from around the country. To see the other app ideas and to vote on your favourite head to the On The Go Mums tab of the Three UK Facebook page. Voting closes 18th July 2011.

The winning app will be launched as a free download and the winning team will be treated to a slap-up meal.

Oh and here is our video explaining more about our app (no sniggering at the back):

We're really proud of our idea and would love you to vote for us by clicking the 'Like' button by our idea. Thank you.

Disclosure: Three paid my travel expenses to the event and have provided me with an iPhone4 on the One Plan with the all-you-can-eat data package, along with a MiFi, paid for until the end of the year. 


4 July 2011

1930's Housewife

I recently took part in a challenge set by Procter & Gamble. I was asked to attempt a day as a 1930's housewife, in the days before P&G.

It was quite a challenge. Mainly because the packages from P&G arrived at my old house on the day we were moving out! I was given everything I would need for my beauty routine, for entertaining the children and for cooking, washing and cleaning. I was also given a video camera to record my efforts and a bag of current P&G products as a comparison.

What I liked:

  • No television, no internet and no electronic toys. 
  • The boys loved playing with building blocks and they will always sit and listen to a story.
  • Having a bath instead of a shower, this made a pleasant change. 
  • The cold cream cleanser. Seriously, I think it smells wonderful and my skin felt soft after using it!
  • The food. I love butternut squash soup and the recipe I was given worked well.

What I didn't like:

Erm, everything else!

  • My poor hands were sore after handwashing* and washing up with grated soap and a wire scourer. 
  • The toothpaste was vile, I couldn't bring myself to use it.
  • I'll concede that vinegar and newspaper will clean a window, but everything takes so long.

*I don't normally do any handwashing. If it doesn't go in the washing machine I don't buy it!

I enjoyed the Life Before P&G Challenge, but was so happy to reacquaint myself with my dishwasher and washing machine.

The boys play at washing now. My tea towels have never been so pummeled!

Finally here is my 'hilarious' video.

Do not adjust your set:


So I say thank you for the goodies...

When I decided to organise a little pre-Cybermummy meal, called Meet, Greet and Eat, I had no idea that it would take over my life for a few weeks.

As well as trying to keep track of who was interested, who had paid and what they wanted to eat, I also decided to put together some little goody bags. We all like freebies and I was surprised by the amount of stuff I took home from Cybermummy 2010. In the spirit of this I wanted my party-goers to have something to take home too.

I'd bought some small gift bags and was on the lookout for little gifts to put in them when I noticed a few PR emails in my inbox offering products to review. I decided to be brave and tell them about my party and ask for vouchers or small samples for my goody bags. The response was pretty good. Some people even offered freebies when they heard about the party.

One of the lovely bloggers who was coming to the party asked if she could hand out flyers from her sponsor, the wonderful Nic from Sell it Baby, at the party. I agreed and so Simone, from SFR Product Reviews, and I began emailing each other. She asked if she could add some samples to the bags and the whole thing just got bigger and bigger and bigger.

As you can see from the photo there was an awful lot of swag to take to the restaurant. Both Simone and I developed huge arm muscles from carting everything to London on the train and it took six of us to put the bags together!

Now I have a few thank you notes to write.

Firstly, the bags were provided by the team behind one of my favourite websites In The Powder Room. Yes, we had their coveted SWAGbags.

Tesco Compare Home Insurance treated us to some hand-made and individually decorated cookies. They even had a sprinkling of edible glitter on them.

Fly Thomas Cook sent some lovely recycled hand-made wax crayons (shaped like aeroplanes) and some spot-the-difference cards to colour in to advertise their new kids' section.

John Crane Toys sent a brilliant ice-breaker game. Each correct answer wins a prize. Meet, Greet and Eaters: if you haven't entered the competition there's still time!

Avon, the company for women, sent eye care and eyeliner samples. I was disappointed not to be able to attend an event with Avon and Karren Brady, but this was some consolation.

Lambrini gave vouchers for a free bottle of wine. Lovely.

Culticura sent so many samples of their hand sanitising products and hand creams that I had to bring out my massive suitcase, the one I took on my three week honeymoon, to cart them all to London!

Scotch sent one of my favourite products ever, the pop-up tape handband dispenser. I bought one of these last Christmas and can't recommend them highly enough. No more looking for the end of the sticky tape with these babies!

Command sent a selection of their ingenious adhesive strips and hooks, which allow home lovers to decorate without the hassle of nails and screws. They are working with a team of interior design experts to create some top tips on refreshing your home using Command products. Check out some of their inspiring home transformations by visiting www.facebook.com/inspiringtransformations.

We were sent tubes of retro sweets from Chewbz. I got Love Hearts. We used these as wedding favours when we got married. Ahh.

Outstanding Branding sent super squidgy stress cows.

Green People provided loads of organic skin care samples.

Coiled Spring Games gave everyone a new toy. I got their best-seller, Story Cubes. I'll save them for the boys' birthdays.

Elegant Touch were kind enough to give everyone a set of false nails.

I think that's it. Thank you thank you thank you!


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