The Leo Gallery – 2014

I thought it was about time I documented the boys growth.

April 2014 – Legs

I love this boy he is flipping mental

My little longlegs is getting bigger by the week. This little game has kept him amused for 20 minutes. Drove me potty but he was enjoying himself do had to share.

I think maybe I will get one of those skateboard things that mechanics use to go underneath cars and we can race!

Blogging from the M5

Today were off to Cornwall. All 14 of us to a lovely house just outside of Padstow.

Left our Shire a few hours ago and we are now sat on the M5. What joy! I have decided that I am going to see how many Starburst (Opal fruits if your as old as me ūüėČ ) I can get into my mouth at once without dribbling.

Husband is fuming! What joy! As the traffic stops and starts. Feels a bit like being on a fairground ride. I think I might have whiplash!

He keeps telling me that we are never going to Cornwall again. I am sure he will change his mind when we get there. Truth is we haven’t even reached Exeter yet!

Maybe we should have come a303 like we used to when we had VW 1303 yellow beetle.

The boys are being marvellous not a peep out of them thanks to the marvel of tablets (I haven’t drugged them) IPads androids and dvd’s etc.

Luckily for me Fearne on Radio One is keeping me sane. Thanks Fearne xx Though he turns the radio down and I crank it back up again.

What did we do back in the day when we went on holiday? Colouring in, I spy, car counting, seeing what shapes we could see in the clouds?

Randomly though I am sitting next to a large lorry thinking how patient the lorry drivers must be. They do these journeys daily it would drive me mental I swear.

Also on these journeys I seem to get a map chucked in my general direction if we get stuck. It seems that my map reading skills are ok enough to trust to get off and find alternate routes until he gets fed up with driving back roads. Then he will take back over again. We have satnav but he has satnav trust issues. So likes to double check it on a map.


Oh no crisis, a child needs a wee.!Is it acceptable to tell him to wee in a water bottle? I did and he freaked. Told me not to be disgusting. He would try and hold on till we found the next services.

Battery is nearly dead so time to post maybe if your lucky I’ll be able to update the blog whilst away. No 3G so no promises! See you on the other side ūüėČ Happy Easter xxx

What a disastrous day – Tara this one is for you, I hope you get some amusement from my epic failures

Do you ever have one of those days where you wished you had not got out of bed.  Today, was one of those days.  I have therefore decided to document today for amusement value only.

To make it easy I will list them as they occurred:

  1. Husband was in a mood from the moment I awoke as I woke up late. ¬†Nothing unusual there. ¬†Except for the fact I didn’t sleep well during the night but he wouldn’t have noticed
  2. A friend called round to the house with her husband and daughters. ¬†Whilst stood in the garden discussing the tortoise who at the time was devouring a slug. ¬†I was trying to tell them that usually she was happy with her weeds and vegetables that I give her and I wasn’t sure why she was eating the slug. ¬†Words were said along the lines of ‘she does not usually hunt’, or that’s what I was supposed to stay. ¬†Instead I got the words Catch and Hunt¬†amalgamated into the awful four letter word that rhymes with hunt but begins with C. ¬† Do you get where I am coming from? ¬†Luckily the girls were too busy cooing over the tortoise but myself and my friend automatically cackled into hysterical laughter but on my part I am sure it was embarrassment. Sorry T!
  3. Went to the garden center with husband and kids. ¬†On the way past the checkouts the boys asked for something to eat so grabbed them some sweets and I had a packet of minstrels. Well, I seemed to have dropped a minstrel between my legs and onto my seat. ¬†I didn’t realise as I was driving. ¬†I only realised as I was stood in the queue to pay for my petrol in the garage as my 11 year old son came running in to the store stating ‘Mum it looks like you might have a poo issue. ¬†Have you poo’d your pants?’ ¬†Indeed. it looked like I certainly had!
  4. ¬†I got in the car all flustered, put keys in the ignition turned the key. ¬†The boys were in the back seats cackling away at me, the radio was blaring and I put the car in reverse….. luckily I didn’t reverse into anything as it took me a good few minutes to realise I hadn’t even started the engine. ¬†Even more ridicule came from all directions!

So now I am sat on the sofa.   I am not moving or speaking to anyone else until I go to bed!

Space the final frontier? International Space Station April 2014

I am a geek I hold my hands up and admit it. ¬†I love all things space related oh that’s is except the film Oblivion but that is a whole other post. ¬†Our visit to NASA, all sci-fi space programs. ¬†Encounters of the Third Kind and ET were the sci-fi films I grew up on.

April 2014 is apparently one of the best months this year to spot the ISS (International Space Station).  Tonight I checked Meteorwatch website and found out that we have a full over head pass at 9.00pm.

I rallied up the boys, Leo in his Pj’s, Joe and his friend and ushered them into the garden. ¬†They thought I was losing the plot herding them all onto the hammock and covering them in blankets to lay and watch the sky.

I knew from the webpage that the space station was due to pass just after 9pm.  We worked out which direction was WSW (west south west) and waited.  A couple of planes flew over and we discussed what we expected to see.

Leo thought we would see a rocket like the Wallace and Gromit rocket, Joe thought it would look like a plane but with more lights flashing. ¬†I told them that I thought it was ¬†going to look like any other star but it would move quickly. ¬†Joe’s friend was the first to spot it.

We used an iphone to check which direction we needed to look at, and waited we saw a few planes and after a discussion or about whether or not the plane was actually a plane or the ISS we saw it.  The boys were amazed at how fast it actually traveled across the sky and the fact that there were actually people inside.

I would encourage you to check the next time it is due to pass and grab the kids and anyone else you can find to spot it together.

What do you need, warm jumpers, coats, somewhere to sit and wait.  We watched from our garden and did not need a telescope or any fancy equipment, compass is handy so that you know you are watching in the right direction but that is all.  Unless your an uber organised mum and hot chocolate with marshmallows would be good too :).

Enjoy space watching.



Hangovers why are mine getting worse – My survival guide

I don’t understand why as I am getting older I seem to be suffering more and more with hangovers. ¬†It doesn’t seem to matter how much I drink or what I drink the fact is if I have more than a couple of drinks I will be suffering.

I remember once my good friend Mike told me that the reason you get hangovers is that the alcohol lays a layer of fat over your brain.  My symptoms though are not always a headache though usually dizziness and sickness always but not always a headache.

With my hangover in place today I decided to try and find out what and why makes hangovers so unbearable. ¬†It seems that even the scientists don’t really know what causes a hangover. ¬†The closest I can see is that alcohol produces¬†acetaldehyde¬†which seems to be a toxin and dependent on how quickly your body can process this toxin depends on the length and severity of the hangover. ¬† The older you get the longer it takes to process this toxin.

So what can I do? ¬†Don’t drink is the obvious choice but really I am not sure that is an option. ¬†Not that I am an alcoholic but I like a drink with my friends. ¬†Maybe I don’t drink enough? ¬†But really, I don’t want to go down that route.

Maybe I just need to find a great cure. ¬†Reading through some websites today there are many so called cures but usually for me Coke Zero or full fat coke usually works but for the last couple they didn’t, ¬†Maybe Dioralyte¬†could be the way forward replacing the electrolytes my body is lacking as it has gone into a dehydration mode.

The cure for the latest hangover ¬†was a latte from Costa coffee express. ¬†Why? I had drunk a coffee at home and that hadn’t worked so whats the difference?

Here are my tips for the survival of a hangover:

  • Bananas – if you can cope with the texture when your hanging then these are great.
  • Baked Beans on toast
  • Pain au chocolate
  • for some of you it might be a good old bacon bap or a fried egg sarnie.
  • Coke has to be full fat though really to hit the spot.

So I am guessing its got to be carbs, caffeine and sugar  and maybe a painkiller or two,  these are my fixes for the dreaded hangover.

Let me know how you survive?  Hair of the Dog?  Raw egg?

Jury Duty – My Public Service Experience

Jury Duty – My Public Service Experience

This week has been a bit of a test for me. I had been on  summoned to undertake Jury Service. Here is my run down of the weeks trials and tribulations (excuse the pun).

Day one

I had to be in Oxford for 9.00am  so a little bit of role reversal is was having to happen in our house.  Tim had to do the school run and go into work late so I could get into Oxford on time.  I arrived at the park and ride and discovered I had left my phone at home which I never ever ever do. All day I was twitching with no Facebook, no Twitter and no internet.  I think I have discovered that I am actually addicted to my Tech!

On arrival at the court I had to passed through the security check and was ushered into a lift to level 2. ¬†The room was small and already hot and stuffy. ¬†It was very full. ¬†I found a seat and sat down. ¬† It was a situation I hadn’t been in for a long time, no one was making eye contact let alone conversation. ¬†I think this was partially down to not knowing what what in store for us.

In my head, I was prepared for a day of sitting around, being told to go home at 2pm and then probably same for day 2 and then that would be it my public duty would be done.  NOT BLOODY LIKELY.

After a  to check everyone was present we were told that there were 3 trials due to start.  As there were 45 of us it was stated that there was no escaping today and  we were all to be allocated to trials.

We watched very boring  dvd about the courtroom and what we had to do.

We were told that the trial I was allocated to was to start at 11.30am.  It started with 30 minute updates to tell us there were delays.  Luckily, there were a few like minded individual in our group that just (like me) found it amusing take the mick and have a bit if banter with they Ushers and later in the day we started a sweepstake as to what time the Usher would appear next.

One trial had already collapsed and those Jurors were sent home by 12pm  and another Jury had been sworn in.  So we waited.

For the majority of that day we just sat around. ¬†I tried to read a paperback which I bought from the local shop but just couldn’t get into. The idea was that having a book would occupy my mind whilst sat waiting to be allocated a trial and sworn in and make the time go quicker. ¬†I have now realised that my concentration span is limited to 20 minute intervals. Is this because I am ageing or because there are do many social media or tech options (as they are referred to in our house) and I am used to flicking between them all?

After sitting, more sitting and yep even more sitting I decided to turn on the tv watched a bit of a program called Doctors, ¬†never seen it before so didn’t have a clue of who was who or even the plot. ¬†Then we channel hopped to a food channel and watched some rather odd american cooking program where some woman was cooking Chunky Chicken Chowder. ¬†At 3.10 the usher arrived back and told us that our case had collapsed and we could go home. ¬†We would have to phone up the Jury telephone line after 3.30pm and see if we were required the following day.

Arrived home and called the line.  I had to listen to a whole string of numbers to see if my number was required.  The list seemed endless and eventually my number was called which would mean that I had to head back into  Oxford the next day.

Day two.

Here we go again.  Trekked into Oxford and into the court.   Passed through security and back into the waiting room. Today, there were two trials to start so we were allocated back onto new trials.  The Usher came in to ask how we would like to swear, bible, affirm or another religious book.  I opted for the bible and resumed my waiting pose. Just before lunch we were taken down to a court room to be selected from again.  There were fourteen of us which had to be reduced to twelve.  The court usher shuffled some cards and called out names, mine was the first so I walked towards the benches and sat as directed whilst the other eleven were selected in the same way.  The two remaining were escorted back to the Juror room to wait until they were released at 2pm.

We each got sworn in in turn giving the Defendant time to reject us if they wanted to.  Whole jury were sworn in with no issues. Then we were told what the case was concerning and at the time I was not allowed to tell anyone, no family, no friends and we were told that we could only discuss the case with each other however, now the process is over and we had made a decision it is ok to talk about it.

I was quite concerned that there was no preparation to go through on what to expect.  However, the Prosecution lawyer gave a run down of the case, what the charge was and who were involved  The Prosecution was very dramatic with raised eye brows. peering over his glasses and other gestures that would be better placed on a BBC drama production.  Maybe its just how they are?

After a passing the afternoon by listening to the victims story and then his cross examination and then the same of the supposed attacker. ¬†I can’t believe that the actual incident happened in 2012! The Judge then sent us home and told us to return again for 10am ¬†the next day for summing up speeches from either side and then himself.

Day three.

Managed to have time to drop my son to school before I made my way into Oxford.

This morning we heard the speeches from both sides and then a summary from the Judge.

The Judge was very clear that the Defendant doesn’t ¬†have to prove himself not guilty but the prosecution must provide evidence enough to prove that the act occurred as ¬†beyond all reasonable doubt.

So we got sent off to the Jury room to decide on the fate of the Defendant.  What an enormous task we had to undertake.  What if we make the wrong decision?  In all truthfulness we will never know.

After a fairly short period we came to a unanimous decision and called the Usher back to deliver our verdict.

We were called back into the Courtroom and our elected foreman answered the questions as we gave our verdict and then sent home for the day.  The Judge was very nice and thanked us all for our time and decision.

4.10pm I called the Jury number to see if I was required again. There was another list of numbers and mine was the penultimate number so back in I needed to go the next day.

Day four.

Arrived in the Jury room for 9.30 and again today there were more trials and I had been allocated on a trial to start at 10am.

We chose how we wanted to be sworn in and ushered down to the court.  Again we went through the process of selection and this time their were two people that were not required and we were sworn in.

During the afternoon we heard from the Prosecution and again he was dramatic, lots of pauses, raised eyebrows and gesturing.  We also heard from the victim and a witness.  That took all afternoon we left at about 4.40pm to return to court for 10am the following morning.

Day five.

Arrived at the court quite early as the traffic was kind and no delays encountered.

Today I came prepared with jacket and scarf as the Courtroom was freezing the previous afternoon.  On arrival to our courtroom we were advised that the case would probably take us into the next week bearing in mind it was Friday and usually Judges do not like to send  a Jury out to deliberate on a Friday afternoon as it puts more pressure on them to come to a decision.

We started with a few more speeches, statements and some pictures from the Prosecution  followed by the evidence from the defendant, cross examination of the Defendant and then statements from one witness and the cross examination of them.  This summed up all the evidence and next we were to have the closing speeches and Judges summary. We had a quick break for a coffee and then straight back in.

Speeches and Judges summary completed with the Judge guiding us on the points to consider.  This Judge gave us a crib sheet with pointers and summaries to consider.

At 1.00pm we were escorted to a deliberation room.  You are not allowed to leave the deliberation room until a verdict has been agree unanimously.

I was really struggling with this case and deciding on my verdict.  We did a straw pole to see what people were thinking and it was a 60/40 split towards a not guilty verdict.

I think that my issues were actually moral and not factual. ¬†My worry was that with the incident that had occurred I couldn’t understand how the incident had escalated to the actual charge and also if the person was found not guilty could they easily do this again. ¬†As, I was told that is speculation and not based on any evidence. ¬†It took until 4.40pm to arrive at a decision.

We went back into court and delivered our verdict.  As we entered the courtroom the mother, father, girlfriend and friends were all in tears some actually sobbing.  Our verdict was given and there were cheers from them and many more tears of relief I would guess.

At the end of this case as we were released we were all told that we were completed and we were no longer required to attend the court for the second week.

In summary, it has been an interesting week. ¬†I met some really lovely people. There were frustrating times and enjoyable times. ¬†We took it very seriously and had a giggle when we could. ¬†To be honest some of the CCTV evidence should really be on You’ve been framed and to hear the Judge profusely swear in words you can see him struggle to say amused me immensely.

I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed the experience because I have. ¬†I am naturally inquisitive some would say nosy and seemed to be writing my own questions that if I were allowed I would have asked.

To be honest the level of prosecuting evidence for both cases was appalling. ¬†I think the only reason for the cases to come to a Crown Court was because the Defendants were both pleading not guilty. ¬† I cannot change the processes but I would say if you are the Prosecution surely you should make sure your evidence is water tight. ¬†Find everything and anything to back up your evidence simple isn’t it?

I wonder how much money these two cases actually cost to take to court?

If you are called for Jury service my advice would be make sure you have iPad, kindle, book etc to amuse yourself whilst waiting around.  Remember when you turn up you are all in the same boat and to sit and not build any rapport with your fellow Jurors will make the week even longer.  Go with an open mind and listen to the Judge.

Note: ¬†when Judges stand you too are supposed to stand. ¬†This was told to us by another Jury who hadn’t realised that this was the protocol and therefore were reprimanded for not standing – whoops.