Just a Thought – Nicknames




I wonder if I am the only one that gets rattled when my kids names are, lets say adjusted by people.  However, I am the first to give people nicknames so I am really a hypocrite.

Joe is usually Moe or Moe Joe but never JOEY and Leo is Legs or Longlegs but never LEE.  So why does it annoy me so much it makes my bones itch.

I don’t think there is any logic to the fact that there a certain name changes I can cope with and others that really rattle my cage.

Coffee Machine Vs Games Console – The Great Debate

Coffee Machine Vs Games Console

Its Tim’s birthday and I was as usual stuck for what to get him.  I mean, what do you get for the bloke that has everything, or if he hasn’t got it generally he just goes out and buys it anyway? Every year I struggle with birthdays and Christmas its never a pleasure to buy for him.

He likes his cars as long as they are old and cranky and has been looking for yet another one.  Seems to chop his cars in more often than I get new shoes!  Sorry  but now I switch off as soon as I notice him surfing Autotrader or Ebay for cars.

He is also into his cycling.  For his 40th I bought him a very expensive bike and recently he has bought a new one. Last year I think I bought him bike stuff, pedals and the like but  he just pops to the cycling shop when he wants something.  I thought about  buying him a Camel bag – bladder bag?  (apparently its not for weeing in) its for water so he doesn’t get dehydrated. He has been talking about them for ages and told me he had one or had seen one he was going to get, so I didn’t even go down that route!

Clothes well, really that’s just a waste of time no matter what clothes I buy he will always find a reason to take it back, too big, too small, just not quite right so I have stopped wasting my time with clothes.

However, we were wandering around John Lewis a few weeks ago whilst the boys were at scout camp and he spotted a lady with a coffee machine, he listened to her sales patter, had a lovely cup of hot chocolate and debated about the differences in the machines on offer and we left.  As we wandered around the shops and he mentioned the coffee machine a few times in conversation and thought it might be a good idea if we got one I believe one of the phrases was ‘Wasn’t the hot chocolate really nice, it would be nice to have one’ and then the subject was dropped .

Well, I thought finally there was something I could get him and he would like and wouldn’t buy himself.


He thought that I had bought him a games console!  Really! Like we need another one in this house.  Then, he told me that after 23 years I should realise that a tool box would have been more preferable and that I had bought the said coffee machine for myself.  Well, I can’t deny I thought it would be nice but that was not my intention if it was I might have bought a red one to match my kitchen or a more expensive one that frothed milk.

How many tool boxes does one bloke need?

Anyway what can I say I failed in my present buying attempts yet again!

Christmas list:  Games Console, Tool Box and Bladder bag, Hettie Hoover!

Rant over!

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland – November 2013

Its my husband’s birthday this weekend so he wanted to go for a ‘family’ day out on Saturday.  To be honest I was quite surprised as really he is a complete ‘Bah Humbug’ when it comes to all things Christmassy.

After a slight detour to the wrong park we found our way past the Serpentine to Hyde Park.  (I love my husband’s short cuts – always gets us lost).


We reached Hyde Park about lunchtime and already it was fairly busy.  The site is massive and there were thousands of people there.  We walked through stalls of food selling pretzels , crepes, waffles, chips, hog roast.  The smell of cooking food, mulled wine and chestnuts filled the air which was not as cold as we were expecting.

There were loads of gift stalls, funfair games and rides and a really lovely Father Christmas who looked like the one you would see in Christmas cards of old.

Winter Wonderland Map

We walked through the plethora of stalls and up to the massive big wheel.

 All of the rides were tokens and at £1 per token this could end up being a very expensive trip out.

The boys watched the story tree next to the big wheel and then children wanted to go into the Alpen Hotel which is a huge fun house. To go into the Alpen Hotel you needed 5 tokens per person.  This alone cost £10 for both of the boys to go on.  Joe and Tim then decided we were all going to go to on a roller coaster but at £20 Leo decided he really didn’t want to go on so just Tim and Joe went on another £10 gone. Instead of going on more rides the boys  decided to play on a few of the stalls, and won some toys, a minion and  a reindeer to take home.

We also went into the Magical Ice Kingdom. This costs £28.   This was amazing definitely worth a look. Though it was so cold, my eldest was in tears as his hand and feet were hurting in the cold.  My youngest loved the Ice Slide.    The sculptures and fort were amazing.  I kept having to touch the ice to see if it was real or plastic.   Though it is not massive as it is so cold it was big enough to walk around. Would have been even more amazing of there was a snow we could actually play in! We came out and found a stall with  hot chocolate and waffles to warm up on. Yum yum.

We tried to have a look at the shopping stalls but by this time the sun had gone down and the park seemed to take on a whole new fairground atmosphere.  The masses were getting too much to cope with and the boys were getting tired so decided to make a move back home.

It was a fab day out but  my recommendations would be if you have young children get there early in the day and go home at dusk.  Prepare to spend quite a bit of money.  It is a full day out!

Just a few pointers:

  • Four cups of hot chocolate £14 (much smaller than a Costa Hot Chocolate)
  • Tokens for rides £1 per token
  • Smaller children’s rides were 3 tokens
  • bigger rides were 4/5 tokens per person per ride.
  • Roller coasters 4 tokens per child 6 per adult.
  • Stall Games anything from £3 and upwards.


Full Time Working Mum Job Specification

Full Time Working Mum Job Specification

Today I have been thinking about my CV or Curriculum Vitae as we used to have to call them when I was at school .  Yes, I left school in the 1990’s.  Such a long time ago!  So, I wonder what my actual full time working mum CV should look like if I did pull together everything that I really do in a day.

So thought I should put together my Job Spec just for fun and work out my CV from here.

Lets have a think,  what do I do?

  • Laundry Assistant – Ironing, taking up trousers, sewing on buttons
  • Chef -Breakfast and lunch boxes – healthy options: dad would just put in crisps and chocolate bars.  He doesn’t realise he packs, I unpack and repack with healthier options.
  • PA – making sure books and homework are in the bags along with any letters, raffle tickets, birthday cards for friends, reading book, violins, PE kit etc.
  • Personal hygienist – showers, teeth, deodorant, hair washing and brushing
  •  Chauffeur – to deliver children from home to appropriate schools.

Now that’s before my normal day job. As a Commercial Account Handler for an Insurance Broker.  So then I come home to be:

  • School Teacher – homework, I don’t really need to do more work after my day at work to be fair and I am not the most patient especially when trying to explain homework I don’t really understand – algebra and ratios
  • Prison Governor apparently!  Sometimes its like living in a prison according to my eldest when it comes to rules and bed times
  • Cleaner – though not too often as my husband is better at this than me – OCD issues I think
  • Time Keeper
  • Referee
  • Judge and Jury
  • Interpreter – I need to do that thingy? You know thingy they said can you ring them?

I am sure there is more.  Oh yeah, nearly forgot beck and call girl (pretty woman).

Whoops nearly forgot my most important one newbie blogger.

No wonder I struggle occasionally remembering everything!

  Today I forgot it was non-school uniform day so send my poor Leo in in school uniform.  It wasn’t even a day to raise money they had to bring in items for the school Christmas event.  I felt awful, poor little bugger.  I was relieved to see at least two other children in his class in their uniforms as well.  Leo wasn’t that bothered either to be fair but I just didn’t have time to go back home, change him and go to work. Thank goodness.

Maybe I need more than a chalk board and a calendar in the kitchen.  Might have to start adding everything into the calendar on my phone!

Note to self:  Find more ways to be organised.



Letters to Father Christmas via snail mail, email or Prayer?

This weekend we watched our favourite Christmas film. ELF.  After the film we had a little chat about writing our letters to Father Christmas as I need to sort my shopping.

Leo, my eight year old decided to inform me that he didn’t need to write a letter, or send and email as he knows that he can speak to Father Christmas in the same way that he can talk to God. After a bit of probing I have discovered that he has given his list to Father Christmas via the medium of prayer!

I think he has got confused somewhere along the line.

I asked if he could tell me what he had asked for so that I can write it down in case the elves can’t read Father Christmas writing when it comes to packing the sleigh.  To this he answered in an exasperated tone  ‘Mum, Father Christmas will not get it wrong, he never has done before and he knows exactly what I would like’.  At this point I was breaking into a sweat I know that there will be something really random that he has asked for and I won’t know about until 9pm Christmas eve and then it will be too late.

What is a mum to do?  I have tried his tactic of praying for inspiration but this has not happened yet!  The pressure is on!  Maybe I will make a collage of  things I think he wants and send it from and Elf to make sure it is right!

Loving these Christmas List links :

Email Santa.com

Check if you are on the Present List

Personalised Video from Father Christmas – I am an evil mum and sent my son a naughty List and had him in tears

My Adventures in Upcycling 2013

Since watching my favourite make do and mender Kirsty ‘Crafty’ Allsop on the telly I am a bit recycle, upcycle mad. This year I have undertake a few projects and thought it was about time I shared them with you. The first that I undertook after our move was to upcycle the wobbly, weather worn garden bench that the previous owner had left behind:

Upcycled Garden Bench

Tools:  Sharp scissors, hammer, screwdriver and a heavy duty staple gun, Oil Cloth/PVC Fabric and Foam padding. To be honest not much planning goes into my up cycling projects it just so of go with the flow and see what happens.


Up cycled garden bench

I started by painting the metal frame with some Hammerite I found in the garage.

  • Cut the foam padding into strips the same width as the struts.
  • Cut the fabric 2.5 times the width of the struts
  • Then I loosened the struts but left them in place
  • I held the  foam which I had already cut into strips the in place and wrapped the fabric around the strut and staple gunned in place.
  • Once I completed the strut I screwed back into place.
  • Take each strut in turn until all were covered.
  • Used hammer and tacks as required where the staple gun wouldn’t hold or if you want a little more security.

Easy peasy and looks fab even if I do say so myself. I made sure that the oil cloth/pvc fabric completely covered the foam so that water could not get into the foam. Costs:  about £25.00 material and foam. PVC Fabric  purchased from Dunelm Mill.

Upcycled Nest of Tables


Upcycled nest of Tables

Nest of tables purchased from a charity shop for £3.00. Tools:  Sandpaper, Paint, brushes, Optional : Decopatch paper, Acrylic sheeting

  •   Quickly gave the tables a rub down with some sandpaper I found in the garage
  • Cracked open a left over tin of normal silk emulsion, this was in a creamy colour.  I used soft stone as this matched my living room.  Gave each table 3 or 4 coats so that the lovely brown colour disappeared.
  • I left them to dry and a few days later I placed some decopatch paper underneath the acrylic which I have just placed on top to protect the paint.

Costs – tables £3.00, paint left overs from painting the house, acrylic sheet sheeting came from freecycle, decopatch paper £2.oo from my local shop No Two Things.

Upcycled Wing Back Chair

When I bought these chairs home my husband completely freaked.  They are known as the pissy chairs and this seems to have stuck.  Everyone refers to the pissy chairs.

I have been looking through home magazines and have seen loads of chairs all with huge price tags and thought what the hell, I can do that!  Ha that was until I started.  There has been many swearing session, blood and wine consumed during this process.  It wasn’t easy!

I purchased the two chairs which are slightly different as I didn’t really want matching for the bargain price of £15 each from a local charity shop.  Popped to my local Dunelm Mill and bought 3 metres of fabric (too much I know) but it was reduced to £1.99 a metre so thought I had better make sure I had extra, just in case!  I  borrowed a sewing machine from a colleague at work, then I got cracking.

No pattern no and idea where to start and hadn’t touched a sewing machine since about 1987.  Though I found these LINKS helpful and after reading several versions I went for it.

I started at the top and took it section my section trying to cut rectangles and squares and pinning as I went.  It was a very hit and miss attempt but it turned out ok.  Not brilliant by a long chalk but its ok.


Upcycled wingback chair – Pissy Chairs

 Now the other  chair will have to wait!

Good luck with your up cycling ventures.  Now I am off to freecycle to see what else I can find.

Questions for the children – Part 1

I have borrowed this from  Sharon’s Blog  who has asked the same questions to her children.  It is very interesting what you find out!

1) Name?



2) Age?

J = 11

L = 8

3) The five best things about yourself?

J = Enthusiastic, good at remembering facts, kind, thoughtful, good at making tea 

L = Always have fun, I know how  to behave at school, I am nice to my friends and I like spellings.

4) How much pocket money do you think you should get?

J = £4

L = £1.50

5) Favourite food?

J = Hot dog and cheese stuffed crust pizza from Dominoes

L = Plain cheese pizza, pepperoni pizza, yummy chips from the Chinese and popcorn    

6) Favourite drink?

J = Barrs Cream Soda

L = Milkshake

7) Favourite musicians?

J = Daft Punk

L = Anything but not boy bands like One Direction

8) What do you think  makes a good friend?

J = Trustworthy, kind, and preferably not too ugly

L = Always nice

9) What 2 things do you  think we should do more?

J = Go on bike rides and swimming together

L = Go to LEGOLAND and Florida   

10) Do you believe in heaven?

J = No but I believe in rebirth

L = Yes because that’s where very old Grampy lives.

11) Do you think girls look better with or without makeup?

J = Depends

L = Better without

12) How much time a day should a child watch tv?

J = As much as they want if they have done their homework

L =  2 hours  or 2 minutes I am not sure because it will hurt their eyes                                                  

13) What do you think is the  right age for marriage?

J = 18 cause that is the limit for most things

L =  25

14) What would you do if  you were invisible for a day?

J =  Mum you know I would play pranks on everyone like I know you would too

L = Go to the shop and steal toys

15) favourite item of clothing?

J = Shoes and hats

L = Motorbike Crash helmet  and snuggly (dressing gown)

It is certainly interesting what you find out.  Joe doesn’t believe in heaven that one surprised me.  His reply to my further questioning was ‘but mum not to be mean but surely its better to believe that people will come back maybe as different things but they come back to us in the end, rather than staying in heaven where you will only get to see them when you die too’.  What a thought! that had never crossed my mind.

I see I  also have some moral issues to discuss with Leo in relation to stealing.

I wonder if the answers will be the same in a year.  I think I might put it in my diary and see. Thanks Sharon for the loan of your questions.


Allergies – How it impacts your life!

Sometimes I wonder if people really know what or how allergies  actually affect peoples lives.   I don’t’ want sympathy but I just don’t think that it would even cross peoples minds how allergies do make an impact on the day to day activities that some just take for granted.

I am nearly forty and allergic to loads of things but the main allergies that cause me problems is my allergy to animals.  For most people they won’t even consider how much of an impact this could have on how you live your life.

Here is a list of things that either I can’t do or I have to really think about and plan my way around just because of my animal allergies. I am really allergic to cats, dogs, really anything with fur or feathers so here is my list.

  • I have in the past tried to do party plan, selling books, cookware, make up to you and your friends in the comfort of your home. If they have dogs or cats it means that my time in their house will be  limited and I will usually have to dope myself with antihistamine and inhalers before, during and after my visit.
  • Girls nights, in same as above medicate and just stay as long as I feel comfortable.  Luckily my friends know what a nightmare I am and I love them for it.
  • We were recently looking to move home and to most people this is great.  For me the first thing to consider was how long can I spend in the house before I couldn’t breathe!  So we had to look for a property that didn’t have cats or dogs thereby reducing the number of properties to view. We did find a house that my husband really liked but I could only spend 10 minutes in the house before I couldn’t breathe so there was no way on earth I was going to risk buying a house that I couldn’t live in.
  • Obviously this also has an impact on any jobs that I may want to apply for.  I couldn’t for example be a trade i.e  plumber, electrician, painter and decorator etc as couldn’t go to peoples home.  I couldn’t  even be an estate agent, financial adviser, curtain or carpet sales person. Even though I am sure I would be brilliant as couldn’t guarantee I would be ok in the houses.
  • My cousin has just moved house today and I couldn’t even stay on her house long as the previous owner had a dog! How annoying!

I am posting this so that people have a little insight into how lives are affected by allergies and I haven’t even mentioned the peanuts yet!

I wonder if anyone else has alternative ways in coping besides just avoiding the situations in the first place.  Comments and suggestions are welcomed.

Wildwood Kitchen is my absolute favourite place to eat in Didcot and I will tell you why….

I love having this little bit of the Mediterranean right on my doorstep.

Wildwood Kitchen

For me the atmosphere and menu are much more inspiring.  Its great for lunch with the girls, Saturday treat with the children or date night with the hubby.

I love that the meals are served on wooden boards with little wells to fill with balsamic vinegar.   They serve an amazing mozzarella and caramelised onion garlic bread (oops just dribbled onto my keyboard). Rip it up, share and devour.

I am vegetarian and usually opt for the homemade tart with roasted vegetables and a side salad or the mushroom risotto. Yum Yum, little glass of wine or a beer and I am in heaven.

Though, I am told that the calzone that is served at Wildwood  is the best one that friends have eaten in the UK and they actually compared it to calzones served in Italy whilst on holiday.  Surely, you can’t get any more authentic tasting than that.

Then once you have eaten your main course there is always dessert.  What is your preference warm waffle,  brownie or tiramisu?

I love Wildwood so much that much I have persuaded my team have their Christmas dinner there.  I think that the Christmas menu is fabulously different. No roasts but instead mouth watering festive burgers, brie and cranberry pizza, leg of lamb or pasta bake.

The service has always been great,  Neema and the team are welcoming and friendly and they have recently received a Customer Service Award.

Have a look at their website not only do they have a restaurant in Didcot, they have three others.  Shaftebury Avenue, London, Stratford upon Avon and Barnes.

Main Menu

Follow them on Facebook or Twitter for the latest updates on menus and events.

Traumatised Mother the things we do – Retro Hair revival

Today my husband said he needed a hair cut.  Does he go to the barbers?  NO.  Hairdresser? NO.  He always has his dad cut his hair.

Anyway we drove over to his mum and dad’s I had a cup of tea and talked interior design (wallpaper and flooring) with my mother in law whilst Tim had his ‘usual’ hair cut.

Once, he had finished he suggested that my eldest have his hair trimmed and he is now supporting a nice 1980’s hair cut similar to mine in this picture. He thinks he looks cool but he hasn’t seen this picture of ME and realised it is the same style.

special haircuts 1980's

And then there  is Leo, the youngest.  Well actually words fail me and this can only be shared as am image!

dumb and dumberThere is no excuse I let this happen. WHAT WAS I THINKING?

Poor kids!