Thursday 25 February 2010

Am I a stalker

I just noticed some blogs have a gadget showing recent comments. On some of these, it sometimes appears that I'm the only one commenting. Now I feel like a stalker and that scares me. It's almost putting me off writing any more comments but oh my, I do like to give my two pennies worth.
I can also understand why they do it, they want to know that what they are writing is being read. I'm the same. Please leave me a comment. But if it's rude, I'll delete it and if you are a stalker, I'll scream ever so loudly.

Know a man who can

Rain, snow, sleet, wind etc tends to keep me in hibernation mode and indoors. Spending so much time indoors is not good for the body which tends to atrophy and the mind to tend to apathy. So I do what any good wife does and start nagging 'im indoors to sort out the bloody DIY.
So where to look for a man who can do things? As with all things personal recommendation is the first port of call but we don't know many bods in this area.
The next step for us,as always, is the Internet. And there are sites that help you find a tradesperson.
We tried
ratedpeople - never again. This site has so many flaws it's a joke. From a forum on, it seems to neither support the buyer or the seller of trades. The tradesmen I have spoken to are charged quite a sum to be on ratedpeople - in return they are sent numbers of people looking for their services. But often they find when they call the buyer up, he has already given the job out to some other trader. Ratedpeople do not actually rate the trader themselves and often do not even have full details of where that trader is based. We learnt and ended up out of pocket as they put us in contact with a trader who took our money and did a slipshod job.
I prefer sites that let me call the traders direct. In Scotland, there are local council schemes for recommended traders. A good example is the Dundee Trusted Trader scheme.
I understand that Greenwich and
Bexley council are trying to do something similar called the Trader register.
Our latest foray online is the Problem Solved site and so far we have dealt with some good traders from there. It's possible to see reviews of the traders, to find out what services they offer and to call them direct.
If you are thinking of getting work done though, it's good to follow the council advice and get 3 quotes, make sure you get written quotes, check trader details with the relevant trade associations, get firm dates for starting/finishing work and make sure you have the name, telephone number and address of the trader. Do not pay all the money up front, and do not use anyone who comes to your door unbidden/leaflet droppers.
Fingers crossed our house doesn't fall down around us. Anyway, with this latest spell of weather, the next
DIY scheme is to turn it into a boat and float down the Thames to somewhere nice and warm.

Sunday 21 February 2010


A policewoman shoved a card through our door on Friday. It was about a rise in burglaries on our street and some advice about locks, property marking and alarms.
At first I went into panic stations - one of our neighbours had recently had their door kicked in during broad daylight and their laptop nicked so obviously I started imagining all sorts of scenarios where we are robbed blind. He was robbed in broad daylight. All us over the garden fence types later reasoned this was just a cheeky opportunist but later hubby told me that some one further down our street had been burgled.
I've only been burgled once in my life and the sods took a very precious necklace that dad gave to me for my 16th. Since then, every time I walk out the house, I take a few things that mean nothing to anyone but me but which I would be devastated to lose.
Recently I looked on the new whizzy police map that shows crime in the area. Our street was not much higher than the average. So I hope this card posting is all just scaremongering on the part of the police but in case it's not, it's a timely reminder to make sure you double lock the door when going out, don't leave any windows open and to mark our property.

Thursday 18 February 2010

Technology rage

Seriously I wonder if there is a technology equivalent of road rage. Today I've been driven to madness whilst trying to do the simple task of replying to a mail and attaching two documents.
First I tried to scan the documents - printer says NO. I had to then find the software to install the scan function. What a nightmare - I had previously removed said software as it add some much rubbish that my OS stopped working. After a lot of swearing and shouting and thumping, I managed to find a work around (felt so stupid not to check the scanner option in Windows Control panel).
Said documents scanned - YIPPEE!
Tried to attach to hotmail - FAIL FAIL FAIL. And no real reason why.
Much hair tearing, wailing and a complete inability to walk away from the issue for the day.
After a few hours of not giving up and continually trying to attach, swapping to another format and trying to attach FAIL.
Then bloody magically, the documents attached. STUPID HOTMAIL.
All day I've also had network issues on my handset trying to read Facebook. This may be the impetus I need to finally ditch Facebook.
It's enough to drive you crazy. Worse thing is that I wasn't doing anything that important. Hate to think what would happen if this was life or death.
Next time, I'll just mail the documents and rely of the post office to deliver.

Monday 15 February 2010

Powder, Liquid or Gel

Regular readers will know I'm a bit laundry obsessed. Mostly as I have an evil washing machine.
I've always blamed the machine for not washing my clothes well but this weekend I was looking online at comparisons of Powder, Liquid and Gel.
Strangely there doesn't seem to be much information comparing different forms of soap but some reviews I read mentioned that liquids don't wash well.
The tot, like many these days, has eczema so we use Fairy non-bio liquid. The stuff is relatively expensive so not having a clean wash is annoying. And it doesn't wash maybe the evil machine is not entirely to blame.
In the past I've used the powder which is considerably cheaper but I feel it doesn't wash out as the clothes come out of the machine smelling very strongly. I've also tried liquid tabs but we steer clear of those now as you can't choose how much you want to put in compared to liquid.
So what do you all use and what would you recommend I steer clear of?
PS. This is not an invite to have some Vanish woman clad in pink popping up in my kitchen. I fear I would have to use my long forgotten kickboxing skills on her head.

Thursday 11 February 2010

Cave Austin / A&E Comedy

Last night I went on a rare night out with a bunch of other mums into Blackheath. We abandoned our plan to go to the Railway as it was open mike night there. Instead we went to Cave Austin which is a nice bright bar (7-9 Montpelier Vale, Blackheath, SE3 0TA tel 0208 852 0492) . There are comfy couches to sit on but no wine list... I think it's a work in progress as the guy behind the bar went and found me an A4 sheet to look at but by then we had already ordered a bottle.
The conversation inevitably included much talk of our tots, the lack of babysitters affecting our social lives and also what we did in our former lives. I wonder how many women in the UK are lost to industry each year because of the lack of flexible enough arrangements - we did jobs that were more than full time and couldn't see how to go back to that and still raise our tots.
We also talked about the need for a cafe in Plumstead where mums can go. Oh how nice it would be to have a place to go during the day with our tots for a nice coffee and cake.

Sometimes Plummy Mummy shouldn't be allowed out. It turned out there is a new comedy night in the basement of Cave Austin called A&E Comedy. The organiser kept coming to our table to tell us about it. It got annoying and off-putting. But after a few glasses of wine, I and friend ventured downstairs to have a look. We shouldn't have bothered as the MC was so rubbish he put us off the show. This was a true Accident and Emergency case. Even a healthy amount of heckling didn't get him off so we left. Later a wine fuelled Plummy arrogantly offered her services as who has had no training or experience of comedy believed she could instantly do this job. I should talk to my friend Rob who did a comedy course not long ago. I wish the MC hadn't been bad as I would have liked a bit of a laugh. I'll save it for Comedy on the Common methinks. If you are someone with more patience/tolerance then me, go along on Wednesdays then let me know if I should have stayed past Mr Mighty Crap.
As for Cave Austin I hope to go back there but hope they sort out their wine list and also have more food on offer than roasted peanuts.

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Soundtrack to life

In the car we mostly listen to nursery rhymes or Radio 2. Gone are the days when I could sing at the top of my voice to Bat Out of Hell, Tina Turner, a myriad of blues ladies, Stevie Wonder and all those other wonderful disco gods.
Once in a while, when tot is otherwise occupied, freedom of sound prevails again. As it did today. I have had a wonderful afternoon driving around Bexley, Welling and Plumstead in glorious sunshine listening to the greatest hits of Leonard Cohen. What a legend. What deep, meaningful lyrics. It added a whole new dimension to the world I saw around me. It's mind altering music at it's best.
Here's some lyrics from Suzanne that seem perfect for Valentine's day:

And just when you mean to tell her
That you have no love to give her
Then she gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer
That you've always been her lover
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that she will trust you
For you've touched her perfect body with your mind.

Utterly sublime. Mr Cohen is currently not very well having suffered a sports injury- lets hope he recovers soon enough to continue his world tour.

Laughing policemen/women

Just saw a whole load of policepeople having their photo taken outside the new police centre on Lakedale road. Is this going to replace the station that's on the high street?
I wanted to take a picture of them but these days that would probably be considered as abetting an act of terrorism (Section 76 of the Counter Terrorism Act )

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Church schools

As parents are apt to do, I trawl through websites once in while looking at school statistics, pictures,SAT results and the such like. Greenwich primary schools don't seem to do so well. I do often wish they would produce a distribution of the results so I could see if it's all kids doing well/badly, a few bringing up/down the many and also compare native English speakers to non-native ones.
I would be horrified to send my child to a school where native English speakers had poor results in English and Maths. Having said that while at University, I noted that it was the non native English speaker who had the best written English.
I loved doing English at school, both Lang and Lit. I really hope our tot has that passion. Since her father is an arty creative geek type who studied Maths at Uni but yearns to be a writer, she may be lucky and get help with both Maths and English. I, for one, am going to have to brush up on the old Maths which was never my favourite subject (except when I got an A during my degree for statistical maths!).
What struck me in reading Sat results is how well Church schools do. My sister in law who was a lapsed Catholic suddenly rediscovered her religion so that her son could get into the local, very good Catholic school. It worked and he did well. She'll have to dust off the church clothes when her other kids get to school age. I hear stories of other parents religiously attending church, donating, cake baking to also improve their chances.
Maybe I should start becoming a bit pious. Yesterday the news reported the first Hindu school has opened up in North London I'm not sure what to make of that. They probably wouldn't be too impressed with my mixed marriage and our half Hindu/half Christian child. Growing up there was no such thing as state funded Hindu schools; we had to just swallow our pride and mix with the general populace. I can't imagine going to a Hindu only school though I like the thought of yoga and meditation being taught to calm the little buggers down. I would love for my tot to learn about our religion but I'm afraid she won't from me as my parents never taught us (they really took on the whole integration thing with amazing, almost religious, zeal). I guess it's not too late to pick up Hindu texts but I'm always a bit shy of going into temples in case I'm pointed at and scorned for being a heretic. I'm sure as I near my meeting with God, I'll get a bit more religion in my life. It's not uncommon for Hindus to become more "HINDU" as they age.
Getting back to schools ... I'll just keep trawling the available information, visiting schools and so on. In the meatime, I'll read constantly to the tot and make her count from morning to night. We'll leave the religious education to visits to the Presbyterian family in Scotland and the occassional attendance at Church for Christmas Mass.

Monday 8 February 2010

Slade Library/Children's Centre

This morning tot and I went along to the monthly Arts and Crafts session for tots at Slade Library. As always it was a fun session of songs, tots playing with toys, a craft portion and a book. The craft portion today was colouring in cut out pictures - tot was a little disappointed there was no sticking but I was pretty happy not to have to change her clothes at home afterwards! I really enjoy colouring's remarkably relaxing and I urge you all to get a colouring book and try it.
While there, I asked about the plans for Slade Library. Apparently they are going to be quite extensive with a new Children's Centre being built and the library being more open plan. Not sure the ladies were that pleased but I guess they will be happy once it's all shiny and new - and hopefully no longer leaky!
Personally, I am really happy about the prospect of a new Children's Centre as I think the Slade hall is horrible and also this area needs a centre to serve the people who live around the Common.
I didn't have time to look at the plans in detail but will be popping back this week.

Thursday 4 February 2010

Middle aged / Bed sharing

I think I'm middle aged. In fact I may be well past it. My body which rarely sees any exercise is so far past it I will need a Tom Tom to navigate my way to it. If I assume that I'll live to late 80s (as both my grannies did), then I'm just over middle aged.
Anyway, I googled what officially is middle aged, which led me to an article written by Charlie Brooker in the Guardian. My hubby is a big fan of old Charlie, whereas I sometimes find that he swears a bit too much.
Anyway, slowly the more I read Mr Brooker, the more I like him. This annoys me as I find myself increasingly liking things my hubby likes and I sometimes have nightmares that I'm turning into him. How awful it would be to be exactly like your partner and like all the same things he likes. Some things are fine but not ALL.
Anywaaaaay, I ended up reading Tim Dowling's article Sunday article on The Politics of Sharing a bed.

I don't like sharing a bed. I like the things that happen in a bed with a partner but I kinda wish that after the fun, the cuddles, that the partner would just slip away and sleep elsewhere. Then with some sort of eerie magic, appear to be back in bed just at the point where I awake ready for more fun.
Back to the article...I begin with the Heimlich, move round to Paperdolls as I like to feel my partner, but truthfully by about 10 mins in, want no more contact and move Cliffhanger. I've always noticed that men give off a lot of heat - there must be some scientific basis to this.
Of course, if there is snoring involved, I may try the Springloader and launch Mr Plummy Mummy out of bed.
We do sometimes sleep separately. When I mention this to friends they are either sympathetic (i.e. have snoring partners themselves) or look at me in horror and pity for the impending end of my marriage, but seriously for the sake of our sanity it's worth it and in the end it makes us closer which is no bad thing.

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Plumstead Common management plan

While reading e-shooterhill latest posting on Eaglesfield park - the changing landscape, I noticed there is also a draft plan for Plumstead Common/Winns Common.
I've emailed the council to find out if the draft has been updated as the consultation period ended in Sept 2008 and new plans should have been produced by Autumn 2009.

Park management plans

The interesting bit to me is about provision of refreshment facilities (very small paragraph in the appendix).
I was also amazed to find there are toilets in the Slade ...not that I would want to venture down there to use the loo.
Finally, has anyone ever seen people bowling on the green near The Ship?

UPDATE 5th Feb- I received the following from the Parks and Open Spaces office.
The Council is currently updating the draft park management plans for approval by the Council in Spring 2010.
[I] would anticipate an updated version of the Plumstead Common management plan being available in the Summer of 2010. The intention is to post the updated plans on the Council's website.