28 February 2011


The crocuses bloom year after year. They keep coming back, pushing their way through the dead leaves. You can't keep us down they say. 

You can't keep me down for long either, but at the moment my emotions are being stretched to breaking point. I'm tired and I feel like there's always something going on that's keeping me from smiling.

Remember Anglo Bubbly bubblegum? It tasted pink. It was hard to begin with but as you worked it with your aching jaw it relaxed. You could blow large airy bubbles. As you blew gently the bubble would become bigger and the gum thinner. The bubble would teeter on the brink of bursting. You would hold your hands out ready to catch it, you didn't want it in your hair. A tiny final puff of air would make the gum see-through, then it would tear apart into wisps - fine pink wisps.

Each time Presley cries and asks me to take away his horrendous chicken pox blisters I can feel the fine threads that are holding my emotions in check stretch into fragile wisps. 

Each time I speak to my Mum in Christchurch or watch the news about the aftermath of the earthquake more emotions fill my bubblegum head.

Each time I try to speak about the inspirational Born To Write event at Save the Children I have to stop, just to keep the gum from tearing. I will write about this amazing day. First I need time to suck a little air out of the bubble, just enough so I can lower my hands.


A Look at Tuiss

This is a sponsored post

How can you quicky update your home? New curtains or blinds can transform any room in your house.

When we moved into our house, Presley was just three months old. About 5 minutes later I was pregnant again with Cash. Having two children so close together meant that decorating was pretty low down on our list of priorities. The whole house still needs decorating. We inherited someone else’s dubious taste in interior d├ęcor and their blinds and curtains. As we are not overlooked we have removed some of the more frilly and velvety window coverings, but hadn’t replaced them. Going to a DIY shop at the weeked is not our favourite thing to do, so we’d left it.

I was asked to take a look at tuiss.co.uk, the online blind company and I was impressed. I think if I’d known about this website we may have a more modern home by now.

From traditional, neutral roller blinds to funky roman blinds Tuiss.co.uk offers all types of window covering. They also stock those all important blackout blinds for children’s rooms (and your room if it has a streetlight outside of it) and stylish wooden blinds.

The website is easy to navigate. You can browse by style, then by colour or feature. You add in your measurements and you can see the price instantly.

I virtually updated my kitchen window with a 65x58cm roller blind in Holiday Stripe Brighton rock. The price, just £39.93. The website even tells you how much light the blind will let through. Blinds are delivered within 5-7 working days.

I love the Foglia Nero luxury curtains. I would team them with some Concept Silver 25mm venetian blinds to create a stunning dining room window.

The range is huge. I particularly like the idea of energy saving blinds. They reduce heat loss and look good too.

We’re going to leave our house as it is though. When we move I’ll definitely be trying out Tuiss I can’t wait!


22 February 2011

The Earthquake in Christchurch

This is a view from the Port Hills overlooking Christchurch, New Zealand. It was taken in 2007, on our honeymoon.

It's difficult to imagine the devastation that today's 6.3 magnitude earthquake has caused to this quiet and pleasant South Island city.  This disaster is both thousands of miles away and very close to home.

I was given eyewitness account by my Mum earlier today in a tearful phone call. 

Mum emigrated to Christchurch fourteen years ago. I have spent many months there with her over the years, the last time was a week of our honeymoon - Andy's first visit. Seeing the city so badly damaged is difficult for me, I know it so well.

Today, Tuesday 22nd February, Mum was having lunch with my stepdad and her two sisters and brother (who were with them on holiday from the UK - some holiday)! They were in Riccarton Shopping Mall when the earthquake struck. Terrified, they got out of the shaking building. In the confusion that followed they headed for their car, parked under the mall. 

During the panic of everyone trying to leave the car park they suffered a massive aftershock. Mum said all she could think of was that she would never see me again or the boys and that she would die buried under concrete. She said they all thought they were going to die at that moment and some shouted 'we're going to die'. Can you imagine a member of your family shouting in fear like that? It's horrific.

They got out and Mum drove them home, avoiding the worst of the broken, raised, liquifying roads. Their house was still standing, but has not yet been repaired from the 4th September earthquake so they fear it may be further damaged and not safe. They are all now staying with my step-sister. There's not a lot of room, there's no power and no water but they are thankful to be alive.

At the time of writing 65 people have been reported killed with many more still missing, trapped under rubble. My heart goes out to them and their families. I was relieved to have a text from my Mum waiting on my phone when I woke up and I was also able to speak to her. Some people have not been so lucky.

Both my step-brother and step-brother-in-law fear for their jobs as both their places of work were destroyed.  Mum is worried that she had a full chest freezer, ready to feed their visitors, that would be thawing. This may sound trivial, but being pensioners they can not afford to replace that food. They daren't go anywhere as there is so much damage and petrol is only available for the emergency services.

I have spent a lot of time day on the phone passing on the news that Mum is safe. In between I have mostly been in tears.

In these dark early days there is confusion and many people will be suffering from shock. My Mum's sobs were evidence of that. Christchurch, the lovely city with the broken cathedral, has to mourn and then start down the road to recovery. It's going to take a lot of hard work and hardship before they are anywhere near back to normal.

Another view from the Port Hills, this time of the coastal suburbs that have today been described as 'unliveable'.

I feel helpless and I know I couldn't physically be any further away from my Mum and my family (some of whom are in their eighties), but my heart is there.




Flip me! It's nearly pancake day.

This is a sponsored post.

I love pancakes, or to be more specific I love my mum's pancakes. Thick, crispy, with the zing of fresh lemon juice and the sweet crunchiness of sugar. We only had them once a year on Shrove Tuesday. This year Shrove Tuesday falls on 8th March.

Every year I try to emulate my mum's pancakes, but I just can't make batter. It's a similar story with Yorkshire puddings. Mum comes over here for a holiday once a year and I always get her to cook them for me. She's never been over for pancake day though.

This year though, my problem may be solved. I was in the supermarket yesterday and saw Betty Crocker shake and make pancake mix. I made a mental note to buy some for pancake day, then today I was asked whether I would like to write about it. Spooky!

I'll be checking out Betty Crocker's Facebook page and the hints and tips on how to make the perfect pancake.

There's also a video featuring Stunt Mum Kati:

Untitled from Launch Group on Vimeo.

Hopefully this year my pancakes will be yummy!


20 February 2011

Some People Just Can't Take a Joke

Seriously, some people just can't take a joke.

Take today, for example. We demolished an enormous Sunday roast in just 23 minutes. The roast potato tally was as follows:

Andy - 4
Me - 5 (to clarify, that was 3 large and 2 little)
Presley - 3
Cash - 2

As we all sat back, stroking our full bellies, I said to the boys:

Mummy and Daddy are going upstairs now for a sleep. Will you two stay down here on your own and be good?

I knew as I was saying this that they wouldn't get the joke. I hastily back-pedalled and said that I was teasing. We weren't really going upstairs, we were all staying downstairs.

Too little too late, Sandy. Too little too late.

Presley's mouth turned down at the corners, then he burst into tears. It wasn't a good joke, but it wasn't that bad!

It reminded me of another mealtime, this time just before Christmas. We were singing 'When Santa got Stuck up the Chimney'. On the fifth rendition Presley's face fell and he started to howl. He had taken the line 'you girls and boys won't get any toys' entirely literally. Poor little man.

I wonder when they begin to understand jokes?


Chicken pox update:

Thank you for all the get well wishes. Cash is a lot better and we can go out now his spots have crusted over. There was a hairy moment early on Thursday morning when he was having trouble breathing. Thanks to a wonderful out of hours GP, who quickly started treating his chest infection, we avoided hospital.

Of course we are now just waiting for Presley's spots to appear...


15 February 2011


It never rains but it pours.

We think our dear little two year old, Cash, has chicken pox. This is on top of being very ill with suspected swine flu just after Christmas and a vomiting bug a couple of weeks ago.

I haven't really got much else to say. I'm just trying to get his temperature down at the moment.

*shakes fist at the universe*

Maybe we'll get to leave the house next week.


11 February 2011

South Lakes Wild Animal Park

If you fancy a great family day out you could do a lot worse than go to the South Lakes Wild Animal Park. It has been free to enter all winter, for adults and children, but this offer ends on Sunday 13th February 2011. From then until Easter children go free.

The park is big enough to give the animals a bit of space, but small enough that you can walk round it with a 3 and a 2 year old in comfort all day. 

We met our friends and their almost 3 year old daughter, E, at the park and had a fabulous day.

To enhance your experience wear wellies and take a packed lunch. We didn't and it was rather muddy and exceptionally busy in the canteen. Also, get there early. Being a free attraction has made the park pretty popular.

I will never look at Todd, the mandrill from ZingZillas, in quite the same way after seeing one run across its pen to catch, kill and eat a live pigeon. I'll also never forget Cash saying 'that bird looks delicious'.

Presley was a bit scared of the large birds, such as swans and emu, running loose. He said 'I think they need a fence here, Daddy'. This peahen showed us what she thought of scaredy cats!

This lion was popular with my children, although E found him scary.

This is MY tree. No, it's MY tree. MY tree, etc.

Insert your own joke about horns here :-)

This is NOT a sponsored post, we just had a lovely time at the zoo and I wanted to share.


9 February 2011

The Camera Never Lies

What do you see when you look at these photographs?

Do you get the impression that I'm a capable and entertaining mother? Do you see happy and stimulated children?

It's interesting that we only tend to take photographs of the fun times, the good times and the times we want to remember. The photograph then becomes the memory. Perhaps that's for the best.

These photographs represent 24 hours in my life and were taken for The Gallery over at Sticky Fingers.

I am not surprised that I only photographed my boys and their activities, most of the photographs I take are of my children. My focus during the day is on them. I look after them from 7am until 7pm and beyond. Perhaps I've lost track of who I am. What happens to me most days isn't worth photographing or remembering.

I'm hoping I will forget what happened in between these photographs being taken as it was difficult.  Without this context you would think, from the photographs, that my life was one jolly parenting dream. It is sometimes, but certainly not all of the time.

The boys have been ill with coughs, colds and a sickness bug. We've hardly left the house for over a week. The sick bowl was just out of shot in all photographs (apart from when we were outside as we have a hose)!

Presley and Cash have been demanding and whiney and miserable and fighting and hard work and crying a lot. I was in tears at one point with a throbbing tension headache - who photographs ibuprofen though? It's also difficult to photograph unbroken sleep.

We got through it though.

The camera never lies, but we choose which photographs to take. We choose what we show the world and we choose what we want to see again.


8 February 2011

Presley and Cash Build a Bear and a Dog

We were invited to review the Build-a-Bear Workshop in the Trafford Centre in Manchester. Presley and Cash were given the soft toys they helped make and the clothes that they dressed them in, free of charge.

I'd always looked longingly at the Build-a-Bear Workshop in the Trafford Centre, but never gone in. I was under the impression that the teddies were expensive, but I'd missed the point. Building your own bear or owl or wolf or even lovebug is about the experience. You get to spend a hour making your very own soft toy. You choose a pelt(!), give them a heart and a voice and then stuff them and dress them. You register their 'birth', then you take them home and play with them. Then it's about the teddy. You dress them, undress them and take them to bed every night. You can also go online for educational games.

We found the whole experience quite magical. The staff were welcoming and helpful. Lisa, who looked after us, was brilliant with the boys. Especially when a random child, whose mother was nowhere to be seen, set off the drying machine and frightened them. Lisa had to take us out the back, where it was quiet, for hand-stuffing of the soft toys. 

Presley and Cash eventually calmed down and were comforted by their new friends.

May I present Jamal, styled by Presley,

and Teddy, styled by Cash.

I think they're fabulous. Build-a-Bear was a wonderful experience.

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