28 September 2011

Wordless Wednesday - I tawt I taw a puddy tat!


25 September 2011

We Met The ZingZillas at Harveys

Don't worry, we didn't bump into them shopping for a new sofa for the Coconut Hut or anything weird like that.

We were invited to spend a bit of time with them before they posed for photographs with the children of Milton Keynes. Boy, was there a queue... that we went straight to the front of.

The occasion was the opening of the new Harveys furniture store in Milton Keynes. By the way, she added conspiratorially, there's an additional 10% off most items until the end of tomorrow (Monday 26th September).

My boys LOVE The ZingZillas. They were absolutely thrilled to spend some time with their idols. Tang's eye had been fixed since their appearance at Lollibop and they were all full of beans and wonderful with the children.

Huge thanks to Harveys PR for the invitation.



21 September 2011

Reasons to love living in Milton Keynes #3

Milton Keynes has a sense of humour.

These are the famous concrete cows. They started life in 1978 as an art installation, they are now in the Central Milton Keynes Shopping Centre.

I guess they are meant to represent the march of the new metropolis, concreting over fields and cows or something (I don't really do modern art-speak). I hope they were created by an artist with their tongue positioned firmly in their cheek, because - as residents of Milton Keynes will know - this new city* is greener than the average city. There are fields and parks and canals and woods and open spaces. They aren't just dotted around, here and there. The houses fit into the greenery. In fact, you often can't see the houses for the trees.

The trouble is, a lot of people have a perception of Milton Keynes that is based on the concrete cows. I suppose they have no reason to see beyond them, after all there are a lot of roundabouts to navigate in Milton Keynes. If you're only heading for the shops you may not be looking out for much more than road signs. Let's just hope you don't see the monstrosity that is The Hub! It's only when you spend a bit of time here that you hope decide the concrete cows are mostly a joke.

*Milton Keynes is not a city, but everyone here acts as if it is.


19 September 2011

Applying for Primary School


Can you hear the shouting and swearing?

I'm tearing my hair out.

I'm applying for primary school places for my boys. Due to our amazing luck we have not one, but two children starting school a year from now. They are brothers, not twins.

I'm guessing that some of my readers are also applying this year and some have already been through it, possibly many times. This is my one shot at the process.

When I was a girl you went to the local school and that was that.  Well, unless you went to a private school and that's not on our agenda.

So I can choose three schools and rank them in order of preference. How does this help when they are all over-subscribed? If we don't get into our first choice school then we don't stand a chance of getting into either of the other two. We are in the catchment area for our first choice. It is the closest school. My boys now attend the nursery class. I want them to go to this school. It is our local school, yet we may not get places.

Here's the kicker. The local authority are under no obligation to place both of my children (or twins or other multiples) at the same school. How can I possibly be in two places at the same time to drop them off and pick them up?

Isn't this a crazy system?  Where is my supposed choice?

Let's not even start on the shoddy online application process that must have been programmed by cretins. Or monkeys. Or cretinous monkeys.

Anyway, I have submitted my applications and now must wait until 4th April 2012 to find out where my boys will go to school. If the school isn't local, this will then have a knock-on effect as they could be placed into a primary school that feeds into a different secondary school.

I feel utterly powerless.


18 September 2011

100 Words to Save the Children

The NHS in the UK is free at the point of need. Think about any time your child has seen a health worker. Perhaps it was a midwife or doctor at their birth. Maybe a health visitor checking their weight and offering advice when you were a worried new mum. They may have had their immunisations. Possibly they had something more serious and needed to go to hospital. Now imagine you live in East Africa and have no access to a health worker. None. No one at your birth, no one to to help you with your newborn, no one to immunise your baby against fatal diseases, no one. Imagine your child is ill and there is no one to help them. Heartbreaking.

These are my 100ish words.

I wasn't able to attend the Save the Children blogging conference yesterday, but I attended the last one in February. It was an inspirational day. I can see from my Twitter stream and Google Reader that this one was just as powerful.

I have been tagged by Ruth at Geekmummy to take some action, to echo the rallying cry. I have heard first hand from Chris Mosler about her experiences in Mozambique. She is currently in New York telling her story, making a difference.

What can we do? Make some noise for the Save the Children Health Workers campaign, write 100 words and sign the petition.

I am going to ask a few other bloggers to join in...
Not Supermum
Being a Mummy
Me, the Man & the Baby
And one more...
The 5 F's
Sticky Fingers
Flower Fairies and Fairy Cakes

If you haven't been tagged, but would like to join in, please join in. Let me know and I'll tag you too.



16 September 2011

Freaky Friday #2

I've got another Freaky Friday for you.

This time it's a freak of nature.

I'd never seen anything like it.

Did you know that if you let ivy grow up the trunk of a dead tree, the ivy takes over and makes a new tree? No, me neither.

In our new garden we have an ivy tree.

From a distance it looks like a 'normal' tree:

But when you get up close:

The branches and leaves are all ivy.



11 September 2011

Sainsbury's Super Saturday

I was invited by Sainsbury's to attend Super Saturday. It was a family pop festival, held on Clapham Common, celebrating one year to go until the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

As well as the music, there were many Paralympians and Paralympic hopefuls there. There were demonstrations of sports and opportunities to have a go at some of the events. The athletes received a wonderful reception and there was a buzz of excitement with one year to go until London 2012.

My day started in the P&G tent where I, a few other bloggers and a lot of athletes and their mums, were treated to hair, make-up and bucks fizz. Lots of bucks fizz.

Photo credit

We also had an exclusive performance from the amazing Belinda Carlisle. I had a moment when she was performing. She was a favourite of my late brother and I wished he could have been there with me. I welled up a couple of times. I blame the bucks fizz.

I spent the rest of the day with Uju and Maria  flitting between the main stage and the VIP area. This was the place to be. The hospitality was superb and there were a few celebs milling around.

Some were lovely and friendly, like the taller-than-he-looks-on-the-telly Vincent Simone:

Others were not, here's Alex Reid:

and Michelle Heaton:

The Sugababes were gorgeous and tiny. Here's the current line-up (at the time of posting):

The main attraction for me was seeing the fabulous Will Young live on stage. I wasn't disappointed. Here he is, singing to me:

I wasn't that familiar with most of the pop acts on stage. In fact, if The Wanted lined up in front of me wearing T-shirts saying 'I'm in the popular pop combo The Wanted' I still wouldn't know who they were.

I think this is one of them (in the blue hat):

I have to say that I enjoyed watching The Wanted and Olly Murs and Pixie Lott. I may have even had a bop.

As the day went on, and my mojito count rose, I amused myself by trying to take comedy photographs of 'celebs'.

This is Dom Littlewood, walking away:

With Maria as my decoy, this is the woman who plays Heather (I think) in Eastenders:


Huge thanks to Sainsbury's and Beige and P&G and Hill & Knowlton for a fabulous day.



5 September 2011

Can You See Me?

Some days I think I must be invisible.

Can you see me waiting with my heavy trolley? I'm the one with two small children who lets everyone else pass before I try to make my way through the crowded aisle. Then, as I heave the trolley forward, you step in front of me. I have to change direction to go round you. You have a single loaf of bread.

Can you see me putting my shopping on the conveyor belt? Bend, grab, stand, twist, drop, twist, repeat. Why are you piling on your carrots and your Cilit Bang and your mince? I've still got half a trolley load to go on. It will never fit into the six inches of space you have left me. I ask you to please wait. You look incredulous. Where did that small voice come from?

Can you see me here in this busy car park. We're both trying to get our children into our cars. You open your door as far as it will go. I can only open mine a notch. You don't hurry. As I finally begin to reverse out, you start to get in your car. I have to stop and wait for you, again. I make a mess of reversing and have to go forwards and back. You have your car in reverse. I worry you'll pull out. You clearly haven't seen me.

Can you see me pulling in here, waiting behind this parked car? I'm following the rules of the road and giving way to the oncoming traffic. You overtake me and make the oncoming car wait. I guess we're both invisible.

Can you see me queuing for the cash machine? I'm standing a respectful distance from the woman in front. When she leaves I step forward, but you have walked in front of me. As if I am not there.

The funny thing is, I'm not little. I certainly don't disappear when I turn sideways. I have a fuller figure. I'm a plus size. So why can't you see me? Is it because I'm not attractive? Is it because I'm just a mum?

Most people walk around in their own self-centered little bubbles. They drive like there's no one else on the road. They have no manners. They only care about themselves and this makes me very sad.

I'm bringing my boys up to be caring, kind, polite and considerate. Will I make them invisible too?

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