Thursday 16 December 2010

Blake Edwards

I didn't know the man but enjoyed some of the films he directedand/or wrote which were fluffy fun. Here is a list of my faves. RIP Mr Blake.

Breakfast at Tiffany's
Operation Petticoat
Blind Date
Pink Panther series of films
The Great Race

The Fates are Conspiring

In a typical -"It's all about me" moment, I had a bit of a paranoid meltdown this week. I'm a fan of online shopping as it means minimum amount of human contact and ease of price comparisons. However, thanks to the snow some companies refusing to deliver (H&S cowards) or are saying that deliveries are all backed up until at least this time next year. Even if I could get a delivery the Anonymous arses attack on credit card companies meant me and a lot of other XMas shoppers were unable to pay for purchases. This latter really got me. I'm not a fan of the Lone Gunman type vigilante who decides they are doing something on my behalf. I didn't ask them to do so. Maybe what Wikileaks are doing is good, maybe we will all be better off knowing the truth. But my imminent truth is that I need to shop and to do that I need to pay (unless they succeed in causing widespread anarchy and the lootists have their way).

Sooo anyway it means I've had to get off my couch and try to tackle shopping myself. Disaster as I'm not good on a one-2-shopstaff level.
Last weekend - Bexley Mall. I was expecting hell but strangely the shops were quite empty and we were able to browse freely. Shame I spent most of the time in TK Maxx (otherwise known as Aladdin's cave!!) and Mothercare faffing about so that the other shops all shut.
Wed - we make our way to the Peninsula shopping centre. I made it as far as John Wilson street. There was traffic everywhere. It took us an hour to turn around and make it back. Gadzooks to anyone trying to make a hospital appointment.
Today - Blackheath. Got there and it bucketed with rain. Got tot shoes but nowt else. I am afraid, I'm not a village shopper. I spent an inordinate amount of time in the car swearing which is naughty as the tot reminded me.
I hate shopping. I hate buying gifts though I love to give them. I'm getting into a tizzy and there are still 9 days to go. Then another few as Mr P.M. has a birthday between Xmas and New Year.

The current Xmas present booty is pathetically small. The question is do I attempt Bluewater tomorrow, or Oxford St, or stay home and make pressies (awwww sweet if you are 3, not so much when you are clears throat considerably more than 3). And even if I do venture out, will Anonymous foil me again the dastards (it's a word, learn a new thing everyday).

P.S. The Anonymous lot have moved on from being Lone Gunmen to a Vendetta scenario where they are going to plaster the city with posters of Wikileak leaks. I can't wait for them to all turn out with Julian Assange facemasks.

Thursday 2 December 2010

It's easier, you only have one

It's not uncommon for me to be told that I have it easy as I have only one child. Most of the time, I don't disagree:

  • I have an easygoing, intelligent child. Yes, there are days when the little angel tests my patience, but it's also rewarded
  • Financially, it's cheaper. One child = only one set of things to buy, childcare cost, holiday prices, blah, blah, blah.
  • I have only one child to entertain on snowy, rainy days.
  • I can devote all my attention to raising just the one
BUT, there are times, teeny times when I have to grind my teeth. There are so many reasons:
  • It's bloody insensitive. I may have wanted more and have not yet, or cannot ever.
  • I may not have an easy child. My one child might be a sodding nightmare compared to your multiple children. I could for e.g. have an autistic child and then one is not easy (If I had more than one autistic child, then yes, one would be, relatively speaking, easier).
  • You CHOSE to have multiple kids and whoopee your fertility, luck, cosmic configuration, genes, jeans etc made it possible for you to have more so don't complain when it's hard to manage the multiple.
  • I have to entertain my one child as she has no siblings and on snowy days, it's hard to get to friends.
  • She has to learn to play on her own. Sometimes seeing her do so is just too sad to bear. Our child doesn't have any siblings to share birthdays with, holidays, Xmas, TV shows and lots of other stuff. Yes, your tots might not share now but I'm assuming at some point in the future the bond will build and they will be best buddies.
  • You don't have insensitive bods asking when you are going to have another.
Luckily, I know that having one is better than not having any. Or much better than having one and then losing that one. It's all relative see?

BT Infinity

Question to all you love Plumsteadians (Plummies, Plummers, Greenies (inclusive one that), Commoners, oooh I digress), have any of you tried BT Infinity and what do you think of it? Is the service reliable (unlike my shite Virgin bb which went doolally yesterday and interrupted my xmas shopping).

Monday 29 November 2010

Private online shopping

Have you seen that advert for the bloke that is doing some online browsing and hides his computer from his wife? He's meant to be shopping but it always made me think of all those blokes I know who have been caught viewing porn online.
However, now it's Christmas shopping time, and you have to hide what you may/may not be buying for the other half. A few ways to do this:
  1. Don't let him/her use your computer (keep their sticky fingers off your keys on pain of death)
  2. Always sign in / out of your accounts of the various sites. The good ones will then hide what you are viewing in the privacy of your sign on name. Quel pain....I just google gifts and cannot be bothered with this one.
  3. Set your browser to clear your history when you shut down. Not bad as long as you remember to shut down.
  4. Use the browser on your phone.
  5. Employ the Private Browsing mode in FireFox (Ctrl+Shift+P). This mode had me in caters to the porn scenario so well. However, for Xmas shopping, I hope it works. I've just started using it and hope it will keep a few of the gifts I get as surprises.
Finally, did you all go mad on Black Friday and place tonnes of online orders. Apparently it's that day in the year when most orders are placed. Personally, I could not be bothered with the masses of "DEALS DEALS DEALS" and will probably pay more for some goods, though I suspect in this recessions more deals will appear in the days up to Christmas.

Sunday 28 November 2010

Event: 4th Dec Fairtrade Christmas Market

This is on the same day as the Charlton House event so it looks like we will be very busy that day :)
For all lovers of Fairtrade goods, it's a great place to get your xmas pressies in.

When: 4th December 2010
Time: 11.00 to 16.00 hours
Where: Eltham Centre, Archery Road, Eltham

The list of things you can get include:

  • handpainted Christmas decorations from Kashmir
  • jewellery from Chile, Nepal, India and Kenya
  • crochet shawls
  • purses and bags from India
  • men’s and women’s hand-loomed shirts from Nepal
  • fruit baskets from Uganda
  • skincare products from Ghana

Thursday 25 November 2010

Money can't buy you happiness

Have you heard that saying that "Money Can't Buy You Happiness"? Is it true? Especially around this time of year when people go into a buying frenzy for that one day that can make or break relationships and reduce grown, sensible, balanced people to weeping, quivering shadows of their former selves (I am just SO positive aren't I today!).
I've been dipping into a report (Mental Capital and Wellbeing:Making the most of ourselves in the 21st century) presented to policy makers in government a few years ago compiled from opinions / input of 400 experts. I've read half of the Executive Summary so far which is very broad. I think mental capital is our mental/cognitive and emotional abilities and mental wellbeing refers to our ability to achieve and respond.
In the summary it's noted that debt is a stronger risk factor in mental disorder than low income. So for the debt ridden, money would buy happiness. This does not bode well for the nation as the recession continues and more people fall into debt.
Today the Tories have announced they are want to find a way to measure the happiness of the nation, arguing that we should not measure progress solely in terms of economic growth. In part, this sounds good since there has been too much emphasis on how rich or not we are in terms of money following the "Greed is Good" / Thatcherite philosophy. The fact that there will be an attempt to move away from just assessing our growth in terms of wealth/poverty to a more richer understanding of the growth of our culture and our abilities as a nation to address the challenges in the future is to be welcomed.
But this is a Tory government and I'm sceptical. I can't help but laugh at the comic potential of Government determining future policies by how happy they make us. Will they like overindulgent parents ensure that the policies don't lead to one mass tantrum and stomping of foot - making sure in a patronising way that we are happy, smiley people all day long. Will it be shown that the nation is much happier when they are injected with happy pills and that this will inform the NHS policies of the future - come in for your daily does of the happy drug you little nation you. Is it going to unearth who among us is Ebenezer Scrooge and who is Bob Crachit (though in that story, ES gives money to BC and oh gosh we are back to economic measures of happiness)?
Unlike economic wealth, happiness is partly subjective. Yes you can measure seratonin levels but it's also a feeling which is a consequence of our past experiences which determines how we react to events. One person can become incredibly happy at the sight of a beautiful flower whereas another fails to see the beauty and so doesn't react in the same way. What do you think - what measure of happiness is valid to you?

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Rememberance: The Sikh Story

Last night I caught a BBC documentary Remembrance: The Sikh Story which was about the input of Sikhs in both World War I and II. They were marked by the British as a "Martial Race", as were the Gurkhas, and actively recruited to the conflicts.
The documentary was fascinating in briefly explaining how the Sikh religion did not start off as a warrior one... which was news to me as I had always thought they were the warrior class that got disenchanted with Hinduism. But I learnt that they only become warrior saints in their recent history.
The Royal Pavillion in Brighton was used as an Indian Military Hospital which must have been bizarre.
History is seldom a straight report of the facts - propaganda can determine what story we are told. According to the documentary this was true as after the Wars the contribution of many Commonwealth soldiers was "forgotten" as it was deemed important for the English to think they had won the Wars on their own. I can understand that, and there were millions of soldiers from the UK who bravely stood up to the ultimate evil, but it was good to see that, in this week of Remembrance, the people from other nations who fought are now being remembered.
The documentary is available on iPlayer so if you get a mo, have a look if only to hear about the dashing young WW2 Squadron Leader Mahinder Singh Pujji who must have made quite an impact wherever he went.

Monday 8 November 2010

Comedy on the Common

Me and the old man went along to the Comedy on the Common show for the first time on Saturday. As we walked up to the Pavilion on a rather misty and cold evening, I watched fireworks being let off on and around the Common (obviously some people did not remember, remember the 5th Nov and so had to do it the following day (and again on Sunday sheeesh enough already)).
With some trepidation, we walked up to the club and went in past a bunch of "youfs".
The Pavilion is a Rugby club hut and it looks like one. Nothing fancy, no niceties and very few beers on tap or in bottle but the room is a nice size, and I can see that an intimate atmosphere could easily be attained.
For some reason, despite the copious amount of moaning I hear about the lack of things to do around here, the place was quite empty. The show was delayed as the organisers waited for more people to turn up. As we had already paid, we stayed.
In the end the show began around 8.30pm and the MC came on stage. I did not get his name which was a shame as he was very good and came all the way from Bristol for the gig. He didn't know much about London but it didn't seem to matter as he was able to connect with some of the audience and kept coming back to them at each handover...including the youfs who turned out to be a nice enough bunch. It turns out being a pipe cutter is a prime source of ad-lib comic material but being a stay-at-home mum isn't ... the MC wasn't able to create any humour about the SAHM who was brave enough to speak up.
In all it was a good night. The people in the club were friendly and good natured.  I didn't really enjoy the act one Steve Allen as he was mostly going about being single (something I haven't been for some time HURRAH!) but his gimmick was his radio voice which was funny. The second act was Tony Dunn who was a cardigan wearing Scotsman joking about genital mutilation of Postman pat dolls and his dad's thriftiness. The third act, Tony Law, took some time to arrive (it was a long wait and many trips to the loo) but the wait was worth it as he was brilliant and had me laughing so hard I couldn't breathe - I would have loved to have seen the faces of people passing hearing the strange noises he made.
So yes, it's not a glamorous venue but when the quality of the entertainment is good, you forget and just enjoy the evening. I hope to go to more in the future and hope more Plumsteadians will join in the fun too.

Thursday 4 November 2010

The Plumstead Common Road Obstacle Course

I'd like to personally and profusely thank the woman dragging two very young kids behind her at the Burrage Road Junction with Plumstead Common Road - less than 100 yards from a traffic light crossing. Here's what I'm thankful for:
  1. She let me test my brakes as she decided it was fine to walk right in front of my moving vehicle
  2. That she taught the children with her the safe way to cross the road during peak school run time
  3. That she made my tot cry out and then tell me off for swearing profusely
Having just done the rather trying run from Charlton Peninsula Shopping Center you would think I would be ready for anything but rather like the weary game player, as I neared home my frayed nerves were getting the better of me and I was rather shocked by the behaviour of this so called Mother. Perhaps being in front of a church made her believe she would be protected by a higher power...I'm just glad my brakes work as I'd be bloody pissed off if I hit her and had to live with that for the rest of my life.

Wednesday 3 November 2010


Oooooh Plummy Mummy's greedy heart is so very happy today as I have just returned with plenty of savouries and sweets. On an exercise walk last month (once a month is quite enough thank you), I passed Delhicious on Plumstead High street. It the new vegetarian Gujarati food shop that has been there for 3 months and I've never noticed as I don't often go further than Daddos on the High Street.
Traditionally, Gujarati housewives cook masses of savouries and sweets in preparation for Diwali.
Gujarati snack shops are common in India and also in areas of London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leicester with large Guju populations. I remember fondly going along to Wembley High Street to scoff up stuff or my dad coming home with bags of goodies from Kingsbury. It's also a part of celebrations to have these colourful box of sweets.
Today my shop came to just over £21 which isn't bad considering what I bought
  • a large box of mixed barfis - indian sweets that are often ghee and milk based. The different flavours are achieved using nuts and spices such as cardamon and saffron. Mr P.M. enjoys barfi so I'm going to have to ensure he doesn't sneak any out of the box before Friday. 
  • a box of sev - great for eating with tea or for a break from the sweet.
  • a box of bhusu - a mixture but with nuts, sev, channa and moong dhals. Tastes great with a bottle of cold beer
  • a very small box of sticky jalebis which are made of fried flour mix that is then completely soaked in sweet water to make them sticky and sweet. In our family, we often bought these on a Sunday morning to eat hot with tea and ghatia. They are my older brother's favourite and every time I eat one I think of him. Kids love them. 
  • some samosas and a few kachoris. Kachoris are balls of fried flour filled with a very spicy dhal mix.  I'm have to admit I'm not a big fan of shop bought samosas as my mother used to make the most divine ones (a recipe I soon hope to perfect myself) so in future may give those a miss but the other stuff will more than happily satisfy me. 
The people in the shop are really friendly and were happy to explain what the different sweets contained. It was also a quick chance to use my fast fading Gujarati. I'm pretty sure they will be busy in the next few days and I'm certain I'll be returning to stock up again too.  They told me they will also do special dishes at the weekend like chili paneer. If you do go along, take some cash as they don't take cards yet.

98a Plumstead High Street
tel: 0208 855 8832
Opening hours 9 - 11

Monday 1 November 2010

Open Forums

This is a plea to the Plumstead Integration Project and the Best of Plumstead site. PLEASE open your forums to guest readers. I think that if people are able to read what is on your forums without having to sign up first, they may be more willing to subsequently join in the discussions.
Apologies if you do so. If you do, please tell me how I can read your sites as a guest.

How safe is Plumstead?

A reader has asked me for advice on Plumstead, specifically safety in the area.
I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer. When I first moved to the area 3 years ago, I was frankly horrified at the frequent sightings of Police noticeboards about crime, the lack of transport and the very run down high street. However, these have lessened in the intervening years - either the police don't put them up or the area is becoming safer.
When I go out, which is very infrequently at night, I make sure to take my car or if I don't have that, to return in a taxi as I wouldn't want to walk back to our house in the dark. Part over caution, part laziness.
My elderly neighbour was attacked just by Lenton Path, in broad daylight at 10am. Her purse was nicked and she was pushed to the ground. The gutless git who did it managed to make off with about a tenner. However, this is not something that is unique to Plumstead - attacks on vulnerable people happen all over London.

There area issues with the area:
Transport - while much improved by the DLR, could be improved further. Crossrail anyone
Lack of things to do in the afternoons or evenings - no decent pubs or restaurants. Perhaps this help keep prices down
A council that acts as if Greenwich borough doesn't include Plumstead

I do believe Plumstead is improving. Also we are very lucky with the amount of green space round here and are close enough to historic places such as Blackheath and Greenwich without suffering the traffic issues they have - Plumstead is a wonderful haven if you want to avoid tourists.
However, I would welcome other insights especially from people who have lived here a few years in order to give the reader a balanced view of safety and the area in general.

Book Clubs

Has anyone ever gone to a Book Club? What are they like? I enjoy reading but don't do as much since having tot. However, I'd really like to get back into it but am nervous about ending up in a quiet (read: boring) group. 

Thursday 28 October 2010

History made real

My MIL (mother in law) has been staying with us for 2 weeks. This gives us a chance to be tourists in our own city and on Monday we visited Hampton Court Palace.

After a ridiculously horrid journey we were happy to arrive at the serenity of the Palace. I was very impressed with the helpful staff in their bright red uniforms, the cloaks that you can borrow for free to roam about like a courtier (a real hit with our tot who looked very cute in the red one), the amazing clock that shows the time, phases of the moon, astrological chart, and month of the year, the maze and the very manicured gardens. The rooms displaying the life of young Henry VIII were particularly effective using three chairs in each room to show the changing dynamic between Henry, his first wife Katherine of Aragon and Cardinal Wolsey. It was difficult not to feel for both Katherine and Henry in the room showing how many children they had and how many died. Henry had more kids in his lifetime many of whom died. I wonder how he felt about that...I know in that day it was common for children to die but still, it must have been hard for the young king.
As we walked around the Kitchens, I got a sense of the work needed to make the Palace run.
After Henry we went on to see King William III's history. He and Queen Mary II tried to knock the whole Tudor glory down to replace it with Baroque modernity but were defeated by bad luck. The most impressive room in this part was the one showing masses of weapons arranged on walls in intricate patterns (yes, my crochet head was seeing possibilities here) and the walk through the different State rooms.
If you enjoy real history then take out a mortgage (it ain't cheap) to visit the Palace but keep away from the cafe ...I found a hair in my sandwich. Yuk yuk yuk.

Thursday 21 October 2010

Come on Austerity, you don't scare me.

Recession bites. In the Plummy Mummy household, we have been cutting back on quite a lot of things for some time now.
I want to go back to work. I want to look after tot too. If I could find work and went back my severely reduced salary (compared to pre-sprog) would mostly go into the cost of childcare and transport. Is there any point? I count myself incredibly lucky that we can currently afford for me to stay home to look after every day extra I can do so is a blessing.
Flexibility, especially in a recession is almost a four letter word. Working at home is still not an option for many jobs or for employers who don't trust staff to actually do any work (stupid really, as for some, more work can be accomplished at home without the distractions of the office).
Diwali and Christmas are just round the corner...wonder how many home made presents I can get away with. Growing up, we didn't even do presents at these was more about being with family.
Are the Tory cutbacks scaremongering and an attempt to ensure that we all hate Labour for the mess we are in (even though some bit of my brain keeps saying it's not all Labour but the damn Thatcherites who ultimately left us in this mess and the w****r bankers).
Or are the Tories right that we need to all cut back, cut down, cut off in order to save the economy?
Austerity is not a word I have used for many decades but both I and Mr P.M. grew up in poor households so it won't be a shock to be back there again for a while. And as my MIL just reminded me, we (the British Isles not us personally) have been through this. They managed so I pray we can too.

Sunday 17 October 2010

Apple day Woodlands Farm Trust

I really need to learn to read more carefully. I had hyped up the Woodland Farm Apple day for tot telling her we could pick apples like the presenters on the Cbeebies ident for Autumn. She has been practicing her apple picking technique for a few days. It turns out there was no picking to be done. It was a day to celebrate all things apple but not to pick your own. The apples on sale came from Pippins farm in Maidstone (you can go there and pick your own plus other fruit) - we managed to get the last 2 having got to the stall so late.
I also managed to get the last jar of Cathy's Hot Lips - what a great name. This is the only thing she sells and my goodness after a taste, my tongue was really on fire but in that wonderful way. I'm sure I'll only have a little of it then give the rest to my mate's husband who's into all things hot.
Tot nearly pushed over Rosie's Cakery stall grabbing the very last cupcake which was yummy coffee flavoured (yes, hubby and I ate it while we placated her with a toffee apple topped cake from the cafe).  Other stalls that caught my attention were the Kelsey's Farm pumpkin one and the Care Grow Chilli Specialists though we didn't indulge in either on this occasion.
We are incredibly lucky to have this farm in our area and that they hold such events FOR FREE. You are encouraged to make a donation which is well worth doing as the farm has very little financial aid. 
A perfect afternoon was completed by taking our coffee into the cottage garden. Bliss.

Saturday 16 October 2010

Online safety

The other night I caught a documentary about Bullies Online part of which focused on the issues of Internet access on mobile phones. Kids cannot run home now to escape from the bullies if they have any form of Internet access there. The parents of one boy were not able to help him as he was not willing to talk to them about the problems he was having. Ultimately, the boy killed himself. This is sad on so many levels - that he couldn't talk to his parents about his problems, that he was not able to have a safe haven at home and that the impact of bullying is still woefully misunderstood/hidden.
As a mobile phone designer, I had to spend some time thinking about the balance of safety for children vs. respecting their privacy/not treating children like idiots.
OK you can put filters in place to protect children but these must enable them to get to the content they are interested in. Social networking and location based services add complications. Other considerations were cost, parental control and how to handle abusive situations.
When you buy a handset and can prove you are 18+ then content is open to you. If you then pass this phone onto your child, IT'S UP TO YOU to ask for the 18+ content to be turned off. It's also up to you to ensure that wifi, bluetooth and location based services are controlled as these are normally done from within the handset and not by the operator.
So not only do you have to refresh your Maths, English and Science skills but you have to be an IT whizz. Ultimately though our kids need to learn how to steer themselves safely too - learn what is appropriate content and behaviour online and to talk to either us or some other responsible adult if they come across or are sent the wrong sort of things.

Luckily there is help on hand in the form of advice:
Childnet fact sheets on safety

Mobile operators advice: the operators seem to differ wildly in their approach to this issue.
Vodafone have advice on safety online but only when you sign up to their Vodafone 360 (so basically rubbish)
Three have an advice page
Orange have an excellent help page on Orange safeguard
Microsoft online safety advice - includes a page which breaks down child safety a bit more. Is for the PC but could equally apply to their mobile internet devices
02 - very impressed with their easy to find section about Young People's services on their home page which links to an excellent page of child protection advice. Well done 02.

Other resources
Child Explotation and Online Protection: to help protect against child sexual abuse online

Friday 8 October 2010

Bogus roofers in Plumstead

The police have been round to warn our street of bogus roofers. Apparently these guys spray a roof with water, then knock on the householder's door and say they were working in the area, noticed the water dripping, and then offer to fix the guttering at a high cost.
So beware.

P.S. I absolutely hate when people come to door touting for business, promoting a religion or even collecting for charity and think that it can be quite menacing having this sort of unwelcome intrusion. I've had utilities suppliers being sarky that I don't want to save money by switching to them, or charity collectors being very uncharitable. And before any assumptions are made, let me make it clear...I do donate to a number of charities that are close to my heart and that I have taken the time to research regarding their use of funds etc. And we keep an eye on utilities suppliers too.
On last night's Watchdog, Martin Lewis from the Moneysaving Expert site was on about how to beat cold callers, junk mail and unwanted calls away. I'm off now to print a massive NO COLD CALLERS sign :)

Thursday 7 October 2010

A note to PlumBun re Sainsburys

Don't know how to contact you but you mentioned your love of Tu clothing. Well if you are willing to travel to Crayford, then you will find Tu on the 2nd floor of the new giant Sainsbury. My plumber said he got quite a few good clothes for his tot there.
Mind you, you will have to navigate the rather busy Crayford roundabout system but if you are happy to do so, you will be able to stock up.

Commonwealth Games

One of the advantages of being a stay at home parent is that you can sit around all day eating chocolate and watching TV. Obviously I jest but it is partly true. I am not interested in sport and had I not been home, wouldn't bother watching the Commonwealth Games.
However, the other day I tuned in to see Robbie Renwick, the Scottish swimmer, grinning and proud as he received a gold medal. It's not often you see a Scot doing well and as part of the Plummy Mummy household hails from North of the border, it was an excellent sight to see.
I and tot have watched the excellent swimming, the indoor cycling, some squash and then last night caught three amazing events: the men's shooting, the women's weightlifting and women's gymnastics. Zoe Smith, the 16 year weight lifter who won a bronze medal is inspirational. She was born in Greenwich and goes to school in Bexley. Here is a girl that has just done well in her GCSEs and also has time to represent her country and do so well. She's 16 and a lot younger than the Gold and Silver winners - definitely one to watch for the future. I was pleased my tot saw her and even though she may not understand, the Games show her what people are able to achieve when they strive  hard.
The gymnasts were AMAZING. Their ability to fling themselves in the air and twirl before coming down to a perfect stop was just unbelievable.
It's a shame that a lot of the media attention around the Games have been on the failures of the host nation. Again like South Africa there are a lot of complaints about conditions, security and health. On some forums the Games have been used as a way for knobheads to be racist in the guise of national pride.
I'm am somewhat surprised that given there was 7 years to prepare, that things aren't ready. Yet I wonder why the Commonwealth committee or whatever aren't doing periodic checks to make sure hosts are on track and if they are not, then either penalise them or cancel the events.
Despite all the controversy, I for one am glad to watch when I can and hope that through the Games, we will become familiar with people who will be competing here in 4 years time. And that my tot will be inspired to do more than me and get off the couch.

Network, network, network

I've had a technologically challenging day today. Woke to find that once again, the 3 network was on the blink and I couldn't browse the web, make calls or get texts. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. This invokes the "getting out of the bed on the wrong side" feeling for me as it's my habit to wake up, read the news headlines and log into Facebook to see what's happening. I know the latter is pathetic but when your only company for hours on end is a 3 year old, it's nice to read that your adult friends have lives and that they think of you once in a while.
So I was grumpy. Even more so as aforementioned tot had been coughing and moaning all night long. Poor lamb. Poor me.
Eventually, I logged onto my laptop and failure no.2 happens. I couldn't connect to the Internet. NO INTERNET ACCESS. You might as well brick me up and leave me to howl like a wailing banshee (is there any other sort). I felt totally cut off.  And quite angry. I mean how hard is it to give me good network and broadband coverage. 

So my questions to you all:
1. What mobile networks are you on and how reliable are they around Greenwich, particularly Plumstead
2. What broadband supplier do you use and how reliable are they?

I don't want to know what handsets you have (not an apple lover unless it's crunchy and goes into a crumble) and I'm not being nosey just trying to find out what works around here.

As you can see, broadband is back for a bit. Yay me and having just read Facebook, I haven't really missed much (it's a bit like Eastenders that way).

Tuesday 5 October 2010

Means tested benefits

I may be missing something here but why isn't child benefit means tested. And a benefit that you apply for, rather than getting automatically.
When we decided to put tot into daycare, we applied for child tax credits. Filled in many forms. Produced much evidence. Then got nowt as hubby earned slightly too much. But well, that was fair I guess. So surely the same system can be used to figure out who gets child benefit. Making people apply for it rather than receiving it automatically is bound to reduce the amount paid out.

Friday 1 October 2010


This morning I noticed blood on our sheets. Not alas, a result of some kinky conjugal games but my husband scratching in his sleep. He has eczema as does our 3 year old. In some ways, they are very lucky because it's contact eczema rather than food allergy eczema. Even so, we have to be careful with our washing powder, the bath products we use, any perfumed products. We have lots of emollient and steroids on hand to keep things under control.
After every bath, and every day before nursery, I lather our tot in Diprobase. And when she comes back from nursery or playing in the park, I have to inspect her hands for any traces of sand or dirt and hope that she hasn't washed too many times as wet hands can quickly become itchy hands. I have to check her inner elbows and behind her knees.  All these areas are really prone to eczema and left unchecked, she would end up with raw, bloody, skin prone to infections. She would be up most of the night which would also mean less sleep for all of us, something that can make the condition worse.
We are very lucky in that her nursery seems aware of food allergies and eczema. There are info posters up of another tot who is not able to eat certain foods. A good reminder. And for my tot, they have quickly understood that we prefer her to wear her own spare clothes rather than the nursery ones.
A friend is not so lucky and has a tot that can break out in bad eczema if she goes near the wrong food or touches the wrong thing. And it seems her nursery needs educating. If yours is the same, then you may find the School packs on the Eczema org site useful.

I would be interested in hearing of any other useful tips for dealing with eczema.

Monday 27 September 2010


Fineways / Daddos
I went along to Plumstead High Street yesterday to get some groceries. Haven't been for a few weeks and certainly not on a Sunday for a long time. I normally go to Superfruits but have been recently put off by their cash only and no breaking the ginger policies. I mean the only way to tell if ginger is fresh is to snap a bit off. 

Anyway. Back to the High Street. It was around 11am. The streets were really clean, there were a few people about but not the usual mob. My first stop was Fineways. The last time I went in there for spices a lot of the stuff was near it's best before date. This time around, everything was fresher, had end dates well into 2012 and best of all they had nearly everything I wanted. Also as I was without tot, the tiny aisles weren't an issue. Normally I have to park her somewhere and then die of shame as she panic and starts shouting out for me as she can't see me.The last time we were in Fineways she kept saying very loudly and very often that the shops we were visiting were very smelly.
I popped into Daddos too and was surprised at how big it is now. Again very clean. Their spices were a bit more expensive than Fineways but I got the bonus of looking at their yummy sweet counter (I abstained...the lo-chol regime is in full swing).
I still think the veg in both stores is a bit old so usually give it a miss however, Fineway's ginger was fresh and has now been grated and put in the freezer ready for the next ginger enhanced recipe.
On the way home I popped into Tesco and just had to laugh at their little aisle of Indian groceries. Typical big store trying to compete (and crush) the little guy. 

Last weekend we ordered a take out from Dilkush. When I first moved here this was the takeout of choice but it went downhill and we gave it up. It must be under new management and has a spanking new hygiene award too. We ordered via the Just Eat website which was simplicity itself. My vegetable jalfrezi and saag paneer were delicious. and hubby enjoyed his lamb karai. The rice was cooked exactly as I like it (a bit sticky and not all hard, separate grains). The naan and paratha could have pulled out my remaining teeth so we left those. I guess the issue with ordering it online is that you can't state any preferences regarding the heat of your dishes but I'm not complaining as the food was great. One note though: Allow plenty of time as the order took over an hour to arrive. Not an issue for us as we ordered bang on 5pm.
Whilst it would be great to have a Waitrose and upmarket restaurants or some such near the high street, these last few encounters have left me pleasantly surprised and full of hope for the high street.

Thursday 23 September 2010


I think I was mumsy long before I actually became a mum. I have always opted for the comfortable look ...apart from a rather memorable Opticians Ball at uni where I went to buy a dress and came home with a tiger print number in lycra which tied up at the back with gold ribbons. I didn't wear that dress to the Ball. The one I did wear got some attention from a rather older but dishy optician but was a bit more of a sober colour.
Anyhoo I digress. I like comfy as it's easier. I can do glam but it's just such a faff.
I went all mumsy today and had my long hair cut into a bob at Macs Hair in the Slade (so mumsy I couldn't even bother to go to a town salon).
I love my new hair.
My tot has yet to notice what is different. Hubby said the back was like Louise Brookes .... oooooh the rather sexy silent film star (that's me talking, not him).
So maybe not so mumsy after all. Now I just have to find my flapper dress.

Saturday 18 September 2010

No compare

Please don’t compare my child to yours

Don’t turn us into milestone whores

Don’t tell me what mine should do

When she should sleep, eat and poo.

It’s great to hear how proud you are

Of your own special little star

But children grow in their own way

Getting stronger every single day

Each child is so wonderfully unique

Yet they all learn to eat, pee and to speak

Safe and secure in the love we give

They all will work out how best to live

So stop your incessant drone

And just leave us the fuck alone

P.S. I'm not a poet, and yes, I know it.

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Software for toddlers

Tot started at nursery last week and one of the most exciting things for her is the huge electronic whiteboard that shows what she is doing on the computer. I'm surprised they managed to prise her free of this to let other tots have a go as she's a computer hog!
Obviously she wants the same at home but there is no way we are getting a e-whiteboard. So instead, I've been hunting for some [free] software for her to play with.
So far I've come across the following which are great fun.
Tuxpaint: Windows Paint is too complex for my tot so I downloaded this. However, even it may have a few too many tools for her right now but as she grows she'll want to use more.
Tonematrix: I love the audio game for myself. It's simple, won't teach her any music but lets her have fun.

I'm going to have to enable the browser's child security soon but for now, she's not allowed to play on her own so we are safe.

Monday 13 September 2010


Have you caught the cute tv show called Telly Tales where kids act out a story which is often familiar to adults. I enjoy watching the children with their hilarious acting, tell the story.
I've always been a fan of storytelling in the tradition of Jackanory. With a few props, the listener is encouraged to use their imagination to build the world within which the story is being told.

So it's with interest that I came across this site about groups based in Blackheath and Eltham:

They are holding 3 storytelling masterclasses at the Eltham centre this month on 21st Sept, 19th October and 23rd November. I'm going to try one. At £2 a session, it's not a lot to risk and who knows, I may get some advice on how to spin a yarn.

St Mary's Community Centre, 180 Eltham High Street, SE9 1BJ
Time: 8 - 10pm
Cost: £2 per session

5th Nov: Diwali / Guy Fawkes Day

Remember, remember the 5th of November. Well this year it's going to be hard to forget as it will be doubly loud. This year 5th Nov marks the most important day in the Hindu calendar, Diwali, which is the Festival of Lights celebrated with fireworks. And the same day as Guy Fawkes Day.

I've been trying to find out when the Blackheath Fireworks will be this year. Does anyone have any info?

Friday 10 September 2010


I was introduced to a new term yesterday: Upcycling.
Of course, I was quite clueless and just thought is was a fancy name for recycling. But I was ever so wrong as it turns out recycling and upcycling are not quite the same thing.

Recycling : take waste materials and make a new, often lesser quality, product.
I like the idea of recycling as waste is abhorrent to me. However, in practice, I sometimes wonder if my meagre/miserly efforts to save the planet are like p****ing in the wind when you consider the waste of other, larger, populations (land of milk and honey anyone?)
Upcycling: The practice of taking something that is disposable and transforming it into something of greater use and value" From the book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart.

Hmmmm, surely the latter applies to anything where a raw material is made it into something better? And for example, the use of waste to create art is not new. However, I think with upcyling we are talking about taking something created and redesigning it into a new, more valuable, object of use. It's not a new concept as poorer nations have had to do this out of necessity and just think of Cuba stuck with the products from the 50s.
I'll watch the upcycling movement here with interest [and the proper amount of cynicism].
If you want to look at it in designer-y, abfab, practice then pop over to Inhabitat.
I'd be interested in any other sites people can point me to or indeed, of hearing of your experiences of upcycling.

Thursday 9 September 2010

12th Sept: Jumble Sale at the Pelton Arms

Update: A percentage of the proceeds from this Jumble Sale are going to the Greenwich & Bexley Cottage Hospice so a good cause.

P.S. Charity sale aside...a jumble sale in a pub on what should be a nice sunny day is a good enough reason to go in my books.

Double take

Did anyone catch the double rainbows last night. The first seem to land on Greenslade school but as I drove a bit more, it seemed to be more in Abbey Wood.
I'm sure people have better pictures but these are all my meagre phone camera could capture.

Wednesday 8 September 2010


I bumped into my neighbour yesterday who was out of sorts...the problem was Autumn - yet for all the reasons she didn't like it, I love it.
I adore the changing colours in all the trees and plants, the crisp sunny days where you can wear a light woollen coat and boots without being bundled up like the Stay Puft man as you would in winter. It's an absolutely amazing, fun, invigorating time of year.
This morning, we were back shopping in Eltham. After a rather dour walk around the high street, I was happy to walk back to our car and pass lots of shrubs with different coloured berries; blues, reds and whites.
Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera but back at home snapped these shots. The pine cone is from a beautiful fir tree in Wesley Close, Eltham (it's a windfall cone, I didn't steal it honest gov).
The berries are from a shrub I'm growing. The birds aren't keen on the berries but maybe if we have another harsh winter, and there is nothing else around, they will be happy to nibble on the purple delights.

Monday 6 September 2010

Taking the waters

We were away last week staying on the borders of Devon and Cornwall. The idea was to be central so we could reach more things. The reality was that we drove A LOT. Along long windy country lanes, which were lined with full grown trees, often very slowly behind farm equipment, ...sounds idyllic but after half an hour of driving I just got bored and wanted to see Dartmoor and the other lovely countryside. Luckily, we managed to make it to the great beaches at Bude, the pretty town of Looe and the Eden project. On returning to London I noticed (partly through a tummy bug I picked up giving me heightened sense of smell) that the water in London tastes and smells pretty strong. I've been told by relatives from Scotland but just put it down to their peculiarities...but you know what they are right. It's very strong. I hope there are no wee beasties swimming about in it as, for now, I've had enough bugs in my tummy.

P.S. Parent moment: my tot who also has the dodgy tummy keeps wants to see the bugs in her poo. Tried to explain they are so tiny you can't see them but that's a concept lost on a 3 year old. If you can't see it, it ain't there.

Sunday 5 September 2010

The Coronet Eltham

I nearly drove off the roundabout going past the Coronet in Eltham. The hoardings shows a cinema. Does anyone have any info on this. It would be fantastic to have a cinema so close to Plumstead, esp an arthouse one (as opposed to the characterless odeon place in Charlton).

Sunday 29 August 2010


A new word for me "Astroturfing"!
While looking at fireplaces online, I noticed that the reviews on both the Argos and Homebase sites were the same, word for word.
Mr Plummy Mummy who is a techie, explained this is called Astroturfing. It's where an organisation is created specifically to represent something and make it more popular. In California, they are are trying to outlaw this.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not naiive, I knew this happened.I've come across rather enthusiastic reviews on Argos before that smack of a corporate drone sitting there ensuring the common customer doesn't besmirch the good name of their company's products. And in China, internet spin doctors are used to shape bad news into good.
Leaves me with a bit of a dilemma as I like online shopping but don't know how to ensure reviews are genuine. Does astroturfing happen on Amazon? Or Play?
If you come across something suspicious, email the companies (i.e. Argos/Homebase) to inform them. Also the law is on your side in the form of the
The EU's Directive on Unfair Business-to-Consumer Commercial Practices.
Or just take the reviews with a pinch of salt.

Saturday 28 August 2010

111 will not be the one

It's the middle of the night, you don't feel right and there are no doctors about. You kinda know that you don't need A&E but you want someone to tell you that.
Your kid is hot, crying and has a rash. Should you worry?
You are puking your guts out, green bile and empty air that your stomach wants to heave out. But you need to breastfeed. Is it safe?
You have had your tonsils out, your throat hurts like nothing you have ever experienced but on release from hospital you were told to expect this. You want to make sure.
These are all scenarios that we have faced in the last few years. Ones that didn't have us running off to A&E or to the local Grabadoc (which is a great service). However, we wanted someone to tell us it was OK or to give us some advise. Someone with years of training and experience. A doctor preferably or a nurse.
That 's what you get when you ring NHS Direct. Some sensible advice and sometimes that means a trip to the hospital, other times it eases the mind and lets you know that contrary to how you feel, you are not actually dying.
That's why we won't use the 111 service where nurses will be replaced by "trained adviser" who are probably reading out of a manual. I want to know that the person I'm speaking to is a professional with some proper training. If I wanted a manual, I'd just reach for a book or google.
I wonder how many people will start going to A&E depts or their doctors when this service rolls out.

Friday 27 August 2010


I wish I had a better camera at times. This is the closest the deer have ever come to the fence when we have visited Greenwich Park. It was a day full of great sites and all for free...we truly are lucky to live so close to Greenwich. We visited the Painted Hall and Chaplain at the Old Royal Naval College. It truly is awesome - I want to go back some time to listen to the tourguides as it would be good to know the history (tots aren't interested in history).
Then a quick cuppa on mezzanine floor of the National Maritime Museum which is a great space. Followed by hours in the Park. I did laugh when we went to see the clocks at the Observatory that you are now forced to go via the gift shop even if you just want to see the clock outside.
If you don't mind a walk, you can park for free on parts of Vanburgh Road which is just near the entrance to the Flower Garden. There were quite a few kids in the park feeding squirrels that the beasties were a bit too full for the nuts we were offering - or perhaps they don't like roasted nuts?

Great day made greater by the lack of crowds (yippee for lack of sun and bank holiday!)

Thursday 26 August 2010

Changing faces of rain

My tot loves water - swimming, splashing about in the bath or with water in the sink and during the day, the rain. She loves getting dressed in her rain mac and wellies and jumping in muddy puddles....from the smallest to the largest splash making puddle. One of her prized possessions is her umbrella (plus the other umbrella left by mistake in Scotland that she mentions more frequently than I would like).
She is less fond of being in Danson Park when it starts chucking down and will refuse to get out of her chair, but then will stick a hand out of the rain cover and squeal in delight as her hand gets rained on.
At night the rain turns into the stuff of nightmares. She gets scared of it pounding on the roof and, thanks to a recent episode of a favourite show, she's afraid it's all going to come dripping into the house.
So in the dark of night, I have to take her to the window to show her it's firmly shut, explain to her that the garden needs the rain and it will make the prettiest flowers and then hold her hand as she quivers with every burst of wind (a hurricane gale to her) and thrashing of rain.
It means we don't get much sleep but in a way, it's very sweet so she's forgiven.

Friday 20 August 2010

Tarns and fairies

Despite what I said yesterday, today was a mellow day. I needed to buy a pressie for a birthday party this weekend so took the opportunity to go to the Eltham and visit the Tarn and the Fairy Hill Park.
The Tarn is a green oasis of calm. The water was very green...some sort of algae growing on top that made me feel very sad for the few birds floating on it. Does anyone know when duck season is as we couldn't find many to feed?
The place is not really toddler safe as there aren't any barriers around the water, however, if you are careful, then it's a sweet place to visit. Mind you, my tot didn't like being in the "jungle" and refused to get out of her chair.
After that we went to Fairy Hill park. Great name huh. A smallish park with a playground for kids. I liked the way the toddler area was segmented from the older kids parts. Strangely though, apart from tot, there was not one child in the park. There weren't even any kids on the tennis courts. It was almost deserted which made me feel very sorry for the park. For tot, a playground is not that much fun when you are on your own though she had a good go on all the equipment there.

Thursday 19 August 2010

Howling at the moon

I read once, somewhere, that to keep alive you should do an exciting thing every day. Exciting in that it gets your heart beating. That this will keep you invigorated.
That's not me. I'm safe. I don't go much out of my comfort zone. I'm not giddy and wouldn't go wild for fear of being a pillock.
Only lately, I find myself a tad bored.
However, I'm not the sort of person to fling myself off a bridge with wild abandon whilst being attached to a flimsy bouncy piece of string.
I'm going to have to figure out what will get the heart pumping and for once, I don't think Google will have the answer for me... some of the boredom stems from too much life lived online and less lived.
I'm now rather excited about the prospect of what the future holds.

P.S. title post refers to a loud session of howling and whooping at the moon I had with a boyfriend in front of an old church in Hammersmith. Howling was a great release.

Wednesday 18 August 2010

12th Sept: Cabinets of Curiosity

If you have a budding creative in your house aged 5-11, then you may want to take him/her down to the Design Museum on 12th Sept for their children's workshop Cabinets of Curiosity. In this session, the kids get to make their own museum.
I just can't wait until tot is old enough for the DM sessions as she would love glueing her own world together.
Cost £4 for child, plus £6 for accompanying adult. A little expensive but that cost includes entry around the museum too.

Sunday 12 September, 2 - 5pm
Kids £4 (ages 5 - 11)
The Design Museum is a place to investigate contemporary design in its many and varied forms. In this special family workshop children are invited to create mini museums of their own, bringing together drawings and models of their favourite design objects, including water based vessels, in their own curated space.

Other museums:
British Museum : Family Activities
Science Museum: Science Nights So gutted to have missed the lego building sessions earlier in aug
Naval Maritime Museum: Free Family Events

Friday 13 August 2010

If I win the lotto...

If I win the lotto, the first thing I will do is run off to the Rigby and Peller underwear shop and get all fitted out. The women there are supposedly magical in their ability to find the perfect fitting undies just by looking at you. This does remind me of Christopher, the odious boy who in my 6th form was able to tell what bra size each girl was.
I've just spent an uncomfortable morning in Thamesmead shopping centre trying to buy shoes and cake decorations while my bra held me in a vice like grip. No matter how I squirmed, it was making me very irritable and I couldn't stand the slow-stand-at-corner-of-aisles shoppers around Morrisons. I only went in there to pick up cake stuff (best place for cakey things methinks).
As soon as I got home, off came the offending piece of clothing and whoooosh, gravity did it's thing and down I flopped with relief.
Obviously, the real reason for my discomfort was not the bra but the stupid BBC mobile weather page which even now states that at 10.00am heavy rain showers- leading to our cancelling a trip into town. Not even seen a drop of rain and spent some time sweltering in our heavy rain gear. It would be so bloody marvellous if they got it right for a change. Though sun is always a bonus. Going to sit in the garden now.

Thursday 12 August 2010

Too old to rock 'n' roll: Too young to die

Seems David Beckham is too old to be the Captain of the England football team. The man is only 35 right?
Is this decision right? I've never been a fan of the culture of youf and always hoped that at some point, as the population aged, this attitude would change.
My father recently retired. He didn't want to retire but at the age of 70, the company he worked for felt they could no longer risk letting him manage younger warehouse staff, drive a forklift (even though he'd managed to get his license only a few years earlier) nor deliver it's computers. So effectively he was pushed into retirement. I did think he was lucky that they let him stay on 5 years after the retirement age even though he's more than capable. His view was that he was actually not old and could do the job.
Now, don't start shouting at me for being unrealistic about the physical requirements for some roles... yes, yes wear and tear from age is a factor - Beckham perhaps can't run at fast and may be more injury prone and Dad was probably too old to sit in a warehouse directing younger staff to do the heavy lifting.
In IT it's notoriously difficult to get a job if you are over 40. Just before I came on maternity leave, my director announced he was only interested in designers who were under 25...hardly an incentive for me to rush back to work.
here must be many jobs that people who turn 65, or 60 could continue to do. So what are these people supposed to do after retiring for the next 30 or so years - seems to me there is only so much gardening to be done? What if they don't have enough money to last that long, still have mortgages to pay or even children to support? Has anyone out there started afresh after the big 4-0, 5-0 or even 6-0? I hope so as it would be nice to hear that it's not all doom and gloom once the greys start to appear.

P.S. I saw Beckham on the last Jonathan Ross show. I was amazed at how articulate he had become so at least with age came some wisdom. And OHMYGOD the man is just too beautiful.
P.P.S. There are people who have slogged hard all their lives, who would welcome retiring at 60/65 and with a well deserved pension. Trust me, I wouldn't want to take that away from them.