Monday, 29 August 2011

Totally in Love with The National Trust

When we moved out to the country in 2007, Mr Working Mum suggested signing up for a joint National Trust membership. Far from accepting this as a practical and quite romantic gesture, I reacted by having a mini-meltdown - had I hit middle age already? Had I really left our vibrant London life for the plod of stately homes and plant shops? Was it all comfy shoes, angora jumpers and gardening programmes from now on?

When he pointed out that we would be entitled to a free cream tea when we joined I came round a bit, but was far from convinced.

Four years on and I am a true convert. In fact, they should sign me up to be an ambassador, because I LOVE the National Trust! We were at Waddesdon Manor today for a Bank Holiday outing and we had a fantastic time. With a woodland play area, ice cream kiosk, toy shop and sweet shop, Toddler-Not-So-Tiny-Temper was in her element.  In my experience the National Trust cafés, without fail, serve the best cream teas around and most of the properties we have visited have been brilliantly equipped with masses of parking, clean loos, baby changing, play areas and places to eat.  The other thing I love are the room attendants that are stationed in the houses. They are so knowledgeable and passionate and they answer all the questions thrown at them, even toddler ones such as ‘why did they wee on their chairs?’ (Working Mum having tried to explain the concept of the commode).

If you’re not a member you’re missing a trick – great days out and the warm glow that comes from helping save some of the UK’s most amazing properties. What more could you want?


Sunday, 28 August 2011


Hello and welcome to my lovely new follower and friend, Sarah.


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Working Mum’s Wonderful Canine Crèche

Doggie Daycare. Ever heard of it? Well nor had I until this weekend. We went to see friends who live in London with their two golden retrievers (their self-confessed surrogate children). Over dinner, conversation turned to the usual topic of how expensive things were nowadays. We must have sounded like a group of 80 year olds: “the price of chicken today is a scandal..… I remember when a can of Coke was 12p and polo mints were only 6p……we’ll be burning the floorboards to keep warm this winter with the electricity bills as they are….these children demanding the latest toys, when I was young you were lucky to have a finger puppet…..”.

London Clare then starts bemoaning the fact that daycare costs were her biggest expense after the mortgage. We start heartily joining in when I suddenly realise that she has no children.

            “Clare, you have no children what are you talking about?” I say tactfully.

            “The Doggie Daycare. It’s £25 per dog per day.”

“What? Are you mad?! What on Earth do they do for £25 a day?
Wash and blow-dry your pooch, hand-feed it organic titbits and teach it basic home skills such as emptying the washing machine??”

“Oh no, they just look after your dog for the day and give it a walk. They do collect and drop off though.”

            “They don’t even get fed there??!”

            “No, but we know they’re happy whilst we’re at work. It’s priceless really.”

“IT’S NOT PRICELESS -  it’s costing you around £6,000 a year PER DOG that’s £12,000 a year in total. You could buy a child for that!!!!”

Ok, perhaps not the best comment to make but we were a couple of bottles of wine down and I was honestly in shock. I mean, I’m a dog lover as much as the next person but someone is laughing all the way to the bank with that one. In fact, I’m considering starting up a franchise in my area.  Roll Up, Roll Up (those fifty pound notes) – Working Mum’s Wonderful Canine Crèche, coming soon…..


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

I went on a Voyage of Self Discovery and found a Control Freak

No, don’t panic, I haven’t gone on one of those dodgy retreats run by bearded-wonders where you all lie together in incense-infused bamboo shacks chanting positive mantras. Nor have I started visiting a floral-print-wearing ‘alternative therapist’ to discover my inner child. No, I went down a far simpler and far more honest route – I had a baby.

I’ve never been one to self-analyse. As Gloria Gaynor says “I am what I am” and I’ve bumbled along being me for thirty-odd years perfectly happily. But it seems I’ve been living with a massive character flaw that I’d never noticed before. I am a control freak. There, I said it. The scary thing is though, I genuinely didn’t have an inkling of this until I had a child. Suddenly I was barking out orders to Mr Working Mum about when feeding time was, how nappies should be changed, which outfits went together and so forth. Babysitters were (and still are) left with a full A4 side of instructions, timings, contact numbers, alternative contact numbers, and suggestions of what they themselves should have for supper. Two and a half years on and I’m still offering Mr Working Mum ‘advice’ on the bedtime routine which he has probably only done two hundred times. And yet, despite all of this, it took an incident with my own child for me to finally put two and two together and realise what everyone else probably already knew.

Last weekend I decided to do some baking with Toddler-Not-So-Tiny-Temper. She’s watched me make things before and dipped her finger in here and there but I thought it about time that she pulled her own weight and started mucking in. It’s all so lovely in theory – mummy cooking with daughter, bonding over home-made gingerbread -but I swear it nearly caused a break down. Now, I like to weigh out all the ingredients before carefully mixing them together in a certain order. Toddler-Not-So-Tiny-Temper had other ideas. She showed little regard for the scales, used the same spoon to alternate between each of the three spices, the scales and her mouth, and then started casually flinging bits of all the ingredients together. Worse was still to come.

Dough made and chilled, we got ready to roll and cut out our gingerbread men. Having already become a little distressed and tense over the haphazard creation of the dough, I decided to section off a piece and give Toddler-Not-So-Tiny-Temper her own rolling pin so she could get creative. But even that wasn’t enough to stop me interfering. When cut, her gingerbread men looked like extras from Casualty. I told myself that it didn’t matter and that they would all taste the same, but the sight of them was driving me mad. I sent her off to wash her hands whilst I quickly re-rolled and re-cut them. Perfect men now made, the afternoon’s bonding session limped towards the decoration stage. But could I focus on my own men and calmly ignore the chaos next to me? What do you think? Three raisin eyes, not level, and 8 silver ball buttons scattered carelessly over their bodies was enough to tip me over the edge. On complimenting her on her work and letting her into the garden to play, I then had to dig the decorations off the poor squashed bodies and reform each and every one of them. It was around this stage that I realised I may have just a touch of the control freak about me.

Now that I’ve discovered this, I’m staggered that I’ve never spotted it before. Or maybe I never had it before I became a mother. It’s a mystery and something I’m sure I shall learn to live with. But one thing’s for sure, baking is strictly a Daddy and daughter activity from now on.


Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Not Such A Domestic Goddess

What a disappointment. Well, an utter failure really. You see, today would have been my late mother’s birthday.  This is our first year without her so in order to fend off the blues, I decided to bake a Victoria Sponge to sort of celebrate her birthday. I was planning to share a small amount with Toddler-Not-So-Tiny-Temper and Mr Working Mum, then polish the rest off myself. (I’m a firm believer in the healing powers of cake).

Well, I’ve just come back from the kitchen where the timer was alerting me to the readiness of my glorious sponge. I had been expecting to find a golden, fluffy triumph, ready to be adorned with lashings of raspberry jam and icing sugar, but the reality is sadly rather different. The only way to describe it is ‘sorry for itself’. It is a limp, apologetic, lop-sided pancake with a lump on one side. (That’s where all the baking powder ended up then). But what is so shameful about this, is that I can cook. I really can! I even did a 3 month full-time cooking course in my gap year, but my Achilles heel is, and has always been, the Victoria Sponge. I have never, not even once, made a successful one that looks like the pictures.  It’s meant to be the easiest bloody cake to make for goodness sake! I’ve tried all manner of recipes with plain flour, self-raising flour and every variation known to man, but every one a failure.

So now I’m now about to tuck into my Vicky Pancake, but please fellow mums, bakers and gastronomes, if you know a fail-safe and I mean truly fail-safe recipe, please let me know. Thanks!


Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Rioting, Absent Parenting and Sensationalist Reporting

What on Earth is going on with all this rioting? Watching the news at the moment is like watching an end-of-civilisation film. Gangs of hooded thugs trashing shops, torching cars, clashing with police and fire-fighters and generally causing chaos. The situation is totally out of hand and the sensationalist press coverage is simply causing it to spread. By all accounts the main perpetrators are children and youths, with one as young as eight seen involved in the looting. So my question is this – where on Earth are the parents and what are they doing about it?

In a radio discussion today, a guest was saying that it is hard for parents to know where their children are because they will lie about their plans and whereabouts.  But surely, if you lived in one of these areas you would simply not let your child out in the evening whilst this anarchy continues. Even if they are innocently meeting up with friends, the chances are that they will get caught up in the chaos anyway.  Now, I have no experience of raising a teenager but I have been a teenager and I was disciplined accordingly. It’s no different now. Yes they have mobile phones and social networking sites etc but I’m a firm believer that ‘no’ should still mean ‘no’ if the parent has done their job correctly.

The way the riots are being reported in the news is not helping either.  Using terminology like ‘war zones’, ‘lawlessness’, and ‘disaffected generation’ simply adds glamour to this mindless criminality. For that is all it is. It’s not politically motivated or a symptom of ‘years of certain communities being ignored’ as some youth leaders would have us believe. It is purely opportunistic thuggery. So report it as such. We don’t need lengthy commentary from ‘experts’ explaining, and in some cases almost defending, this behaviour. We need simple reporting about the stupidity of those involved, and we needs parents to do their share and ensure their children stay out of it.

He’s not a political demonstrator, he’s a very naughty boy.


Thursday, 4 August 2011

Mummy Bloggers Bite Back

Why is there so must bitching and sniping about mummy bloggers in the press at the moment? What did we ever do to them? I’ve seen a couple of ranting articles against us (often written by women) and also a fair few snide comments – how do they have time, I bet they’re just parking their kids in front of the tv whilst blogging, don’t they have anything better to do etc etc. Well I’m sick of it. Back off journalists, we do bite.

How do we have time?
We’re supremely organised, multi-tasking wonders who can blog and cook simultaneously, whilst also planning tomorrow’s power outfit for the office and the children’s social diary for the weekend.

I bet they’re just parking their kids in front of the tv.
Well actually most mummy bloggers I know blog in the evenings when the monkeys are in bed so that blows that argument out of the water. I also blog on the train to meetings and mentally plan what to write whilst stuck in traffic, in the supermarket queue and anywhere else I’ve got a few minutes to fill. So there!

Don’t they have anything better to do?
Like what? Watch tv, chat on the phone, go to the gym? Why does blogging annoy people so much? It’s nothing to do with them what we do with our free time. Blogging for me is therapeutic, entertaining and free. Not a bad hobby I think.

So, journalist lady, whilst you’re sitting at home with just your 13 cats for company, think of me with a glass of wine in hand, lovely husband in the garden, gorgeous toddler dreaming away upstairs, happily writing my next blog. Who’s got it right – me or you?!



Another warm welcome to a super new follower Suzanne. Welcome Suzanne! x

Monday, 1 August 2011

Work Day Blues

I adore my job. I am one of the few who genuinely likes my job. But today was a struggle. I simply was not in the mood and I know exactly why it was. You see, last week the nursery was closed, so Toddler-Not-So-Tiny-Temper, Mr Working Mum and I were together for a whole, glorious, fun-filled week.  We didn’t go on holiday, we simply spent time with friends, went to the local zoo, visited the farm down the road, had long lazy picnics and just enjoyed all being together. After such a blissful week it was a real wrench this morning to wave Mr Working Mum off to work and drop Toddler-Not-So-Tiny-Temper at nursery. I drove the hour to my office and sat there at my desk thinking “Why am I doing this? Why is my lovely little family all spread out over three counties for the entire day and only together for an hour or so before bedtime? I am a Marketing Manager for more days a week than I am a mum. Is this right?”

But you know, it is right. It’s definitely right for me. I always have a couple of days of the blues on returning to work after a break but in a day or two I’ll remember that I enjoy my job and that being a stay at home mum is seriously hard work! It’s not all zoos and picnics, it’s chores and compromise. If I’m honest with myself I don’t have the patience to be a full time mother. And in the real world the family is not together all the time because someone, mother or father, has to go to work. These week or two week snippets I have in-between work are the best of the best – household jobs are postponed, outings are daily and the main aim is to have fun. It’s wonderful, but it’s not an insight into how life would be if I were to stay at home full time.

I know I’m right and my rationale is sound but I am still going to be a bit blue this week...


Welcome Working Mum!

Hi and welcome to my new follower Working Mum. I love your blog. Hope you've managed to get through your plum mountain! x