Friday, 23 December 2011

Making a list...

1. All presents bought and wrapped

  • Check. Near 100% fandabby doozy success with online stuff. Only bad purchase was a t-shirt for yours truly that arrived in skinny size. I'm not a skinny but I got a 100% refund so no loss. I also, in supermum mode, did a quick run around the supermarket this morning for last minute bits. I was back home at 10.30 as they were relatively quiet. 
2. Food ready
  • Check. We did an online shop and everything arrived. This year my sister-in-law and I are doing the veg. I can't wait as I love a freshly roasted tattie
4. Stockings done
  • Check. Oh I've been in supercraft mode today making my own stocking. Its red, it's got pompoms and glitter and it's going to be filled with pre-BIG EVENT goodies! 
5. Nativity seen
  • Check and check. The kids did a supercute one at nursery. And of course, my little one was the only Angel sucking her thumb but my gawd, she was cute in her outfit as were all the other little ones.
  • We then went to the nativity at my husband's church. As religion is so important to his family, I want to make sure she sees what it is about before she decided herself what to believe. Again, the kids were supercute but my little one was not happy. Poor kid has ended up with a huge cold and has been miserable all week. 
6. Nursery finished
  • Check. Last day of term was on Wed with a Xmas party and Santa - tot would not go anywhere near him as she tends to stay away from strangely dressed men. I was surprised when the Head got rather tearful whilst asking that each of us spends at least 5 mins a day listening and being with our children. Hubby and I spend a lot of time with my child - she's a delight as all children are if they are allowed to be. We do a lot together and I know that we are lucky that we can do so. I hope that no parents are ever too busy to spend a mere 5 mins with their kids. And if the kids are in foster care, I hope the government, social workers, potential adopters and foster carers all get it sorted out so that more than 60 out of 3600 kids are adopted next year in England - frankly, it's a disgrace as those kids have already been let down before and deserve a second chance at a great life.  
7. On the 12th day, move. 
  • Well not done yet, but we are planning to move to Livingston. At the moment we are just going through reference checks which IMHO are a complete rip off. We already paid £60 each when we moved to Larbert and now we are paying £90 each as part of the move to Livingston. I never went through reference checks when I was renting in the 90s. I just had to show some paychecks and that was it. It's just another way for estate agents to rip off people and is yet another barrier to people moving to where the work is. Unfortunately, it's a damned if we do, damned if we don't. If we don't move, we will continue to spend far too much on petrol and continue to live in a place which I have not warmed to. If we move, we have to pay to move but in the long run save money and also see hubby more. And the big plus for me is that we will be that much closer to Edinburgh - yippeeeee!!!!
8. Sort out my health
  • Ongoing. I haven't had any pain attacks since my trip to the hospital. I've been super careful about what I eat though I could do with exercising more. Next Wednesday, I have an ultrasound which should help find out whether I've got some stones. Sounds mad but I cannot wait as at least I'll know where I stand then and can make a positive plan to deal with it.
All in all, it's going to be a fun few weeks. I hope yours will too and that you all have a lovely jubbly Xmas. 

Friday, 9 December 2011


I'm starting to feel a bit sorry for the postie - he's had to come to our house almost every day recently delivering a parcel on top of all the normal letter deliveries. Thing is, it's easy to shop online - to choose bargains, find alternatives, check stock levels and to read reviews. However, the downside is you have to wait for the items and you don't really know what they are like until they arrive. Regarding reviews of products, I've realised that they aren't always reflective of what the actual item is like - I wonder what proportion of buyers actually bother writing a review.
Our kid HATES shopping in real shops with a passion. Any kind of shop. She finds it boring and within a few minutes of stepping out of the car will moan and whine and declare she's tiiiiiired and generally get on my wick. I've let her get away with it so we hardly ever venture out of the house. But now, I'm putting my foot down and making her understand that no matter how boring it is, that's life and she's just going to have to go with the flow. If she's good she gets a treat and one of her faves is going to a cafe so there we are - go out shopping and get into a cafe.
Luckily for her, there are very few shopping areas in Scotland. Certainly you don't have your Brent Crosses, Bullrings, Bluewaters or Trafford Centres up here. Edinburgh lovely as it is, is piss poor for shopping. Surprisingly for us Dundee actually has a decent centre. But if you are serious about shopping you head to Glasgow which is a mecca for shopaholics. We went last weekend with a treat promised of a fair which was just outside the station. Kid was placated by a ride on a carousel (why do little girls love horses so???) and with a promise to go ice-skating later. The area around Queen street wasn't busy. We ended up in Enoch Square shopping centre where Mr Plummy and kid spent so much time in the Disney store that I was able to go around about 4 shops and still got bored waiting for them.   Eventually we made it to the Christmas market. Most of it was not of interest but little one was in love with the honey doused French Crepe made by genuine Frenchmen. I think given a chance she would have eaten until she burst.
At this point, we split and I headed to Buchanan street which is FULL of shops. So many that my head became dizzy. I spent so much time pissing about in John Lewis that I didn't get to any other shops. Probably good as my savings are dwindling and we don't have the spare cash for sprees. We do always have just enough money for a cafe!
A great day out slightly marred by journey home on a stupidly short train where we were all crammed in like sardines and where not one person gave up their seat for kid who ended up sitting on a table. I got so angry when an older gentleman got on board and dumb arse younger people continued to sit - so I ordered one of them to get up and give him a seat. Do not mess with a mother who has a tired child is all I can say.

A bit blowy

Well we survived the winds. They were not as bad as we thought they would be after watching the red alerts on the news. None of the trees fell over though they were bending in a rather alarming way yesterday afternoon. And luckily no-one had their bins out as they would have caused havoc if blown across the roads. In all, we were a lot luckier than others around the North. I hope power is restored to houses that are without soon as it's very cold up here.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Smith Art Gallery Stirling

This weekend we visited the Smith Art Gallery in Stirling. It's a lovely little museum which packed in quite a bit. I was primarily interested in a Spirit of the Celt exhibition which was by 10 textile artists
and also in the Christmas Tingles. Hubby and tot shot through the art exhibit and went through to the history section which was very interesting indeed. There were even some dress up clothes but alas, they were too big for our little gal. She was happy just playing with the TV which was in part of an exhibit. We also took a walk around Aillie's Garden - it looks like a sweet garden but not for winter time. We hastily went inside for a cuppa - which was perhaps the most disappointing part of our visit as the prices were quite high. The highlight for me was hubby buying me a heart necklace from the Tingles collection - mind you I did blatantly point to it and say "Oh how pretty, I want it".  If you are shopping in Stirling and fancy a quick break, then go along. It's not far from the Thistles shopping centre. At the very least the view up to Stirling Castle is worth it.
Sorry for the quality of the pictures and the rather strange layout - I need a better camera and to pick up that book on HTML I bought over a year ago.
Paisley patterns. 

To teach girls household chores

Turtle teapot

Dress up clothes

Cut up shotgun - memorial to those killed in Dunblane 

Stirling Embroiderers Guild Hangman! 

Seats in the garden

This precious life

There are times where I wish the day would end, where boredom or a hard task makes me want to hurry the minute, hour or day away. There are times when I look forward to an event so much that I forget about living the days inbetween.
A few weeks ago, my aunt died. She had cancer but it was the survivable kind. It was her kidneys that gave out. Sad as she was a sweet lady. Even more so as she was the youngest sister of my uncle who passed away in June. I was feeling a bit emotional about it all which led to a sleepless night, which led to me looking on Facebook. Sometimes Facebook users suck. I found out from Facebook that another aunt's husband had died. But not any details. Normally I get a call from Dad with details.
The uncle who died had only just turned 40. He was a nice guy who married my aunt 14 years ago - one of the first mixed marriages in our family.
Over the coming days it emerged that he died whilst popping out on an errand on his motorbike. A freak fall off the bike and he banged his head on a lamp-post and died instantly. He's left my aunt and 2 very young cousins.
I can never get the "died instantly" - how can something that  is so ALIVE, so full of love, emotion, views and well, life get extinguished in an instant? There wasn't even a chance to say goodbye, for a last kiss with his wife and kids.
"Instant" sucks.
Facebook sucks.
I'm not wishing any more minutes away. 

Thursday, 10 November 2011


I was sad to hear of Heavy D's death. For those that don't know, he was a rather large rapper who was most famous for his 80's hit "Now that we found love" - a very upbeat song. He was the same age as me. They don't know what killed him but there is already some speculation that it was linked to his obesity. It sucks to be obese. I'm feeling the bad effects of it as I have either got a stomach ulcer, or gallstones. Big contributing factors in the latter are a) being a woman  and b) being even slightly overweight like what I am. In the last few months, I've had attacks of the most excruciating pain - on one occasion I was stuck in  Edinburgh station with tot and hubby, doubled up in pain and trying to puke my guts out. Luckily, after asking for help from the police, we were taken to a quiet first class lounge so that I could ride out the pain. I have nothing but praise for the station staff and the policeman particularly as I was getting stressed about boarding a train then bringing it to a standstill as I writhed about like a possessed woman.
Since then there have been more attacks. My doc is trying to help with antibiotics, antacids, antispasmodics but the attacks continue to come every few days. This Tuesday it was so bad, that we called an ambulance. My poor tot was distressed as I was taken away. But by the time I arrived at the shiny new Forth Valley hospital the attack was over and I felt like a bit of a twit. I hope it is all sorted soon as at the moment it means I restricted to a low fat, high fibre diet which make for very boring cooking. And don't bring a curry near me as I'm liable to tell you to stick it where the sun doesn't shine.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Hello, hello, is anyone there?

I have to admit that it's easy to become a bit stats obsessed. I mean no-one wants to be talking to themselves.
However, lately the blogger stats have gone a bit strange. I get spikes in numbers from America from odd referring sites. I'm not going to click to find out who they are and I seriously doubt that they are actually an audience.
In a way though this weirdness has done me a favour. Turns out I don't actually mind talking to myself. I just have to remember not to do it in public unlike a Uni mate of mine who used to argue with herself whilst walking down the high street.

Monday, 31 October 2011

The Horror of Pink

I hate Halloween which I've always seen as a vulgar American import, an excuse for shops to sell tat and for kids to roam about begging for food.
It turns out that it's a Scottish thing though there was only treat and no trick according to my Scottish relatives. So it's tradition and who am I to go against tradition?
Tot has gone off to nursery today not dressed as a pumpkin or a witch (both outfits are in her repertoire) but as a bright fluorescent pink fairy with a sparkly wand and a bag full of sparkles. Well, if it's OK for Carol Kane, it's OK for us.
We have done the pumpkin thing which I justified by saying we could eat the flesh (urgh inappropriate word for a vegie)- but it turned out to be  horrid, unripe, unappetising and went to the bin. I tried roasting the seeds with scream inducing amounts of chili powder and chili flakes but no good - shame as I'd have liked to hand those out tonight to any roaming beasties that dare knock on our door. Instead, they will get raisins. Muhhhahahahahahhahahahaaaaaaaaaa cough cough cough.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Dynamic Earth

This week has been half term in Falkirk and hubby took time off work so we could visit different areas. Unfortunately, tummy bugs put a bit of a spanner in the works and so we didn't get out as much as we would like. Last weekend, I was very excited to visit Dundee as a new Hobbycraft store has just opened there - this is a retail success story as lots of new stores are planned. Even though most of what they sell is more expensive than what can be bought online,I find it useful and inspirational to see things before buying.
On Monday we drove over to Livingston - the monsoon rain forced us into the huge shopping centre. Before moving to Scotland, I was warned off Livingston which is described as a new town that's a huge mall but it's where hubby works and the shops offer some chance of my getting a part-time job. It's also that much closer to Edinburgh. Livingston Village is very pretty and has a lovely school so we are crossing our fingers that a suitable place comes up.
Yesterday, we went into Edinburgh to visit Dynamic Earth  which is a new science museum all about Earth. There are loads of interactive galleries and young enthusiastic tour guides to lead you through from one area to another. Unfortunately, this meant waiting around sometimes for guides which I wasn't keen on (I'm a tad impatient but don't like being treated like some sort of sheep). It was also a little bit scary in parts for our 4 year old though she's already asked to go back. I thoroughly enjoyed the time lift which used the walls of the lift shaft to display different periods of history. There was a brilliant gallery showing the effects of the ice age, and another showing modern day Arctic and Antarctic with a huge real ice display in the middle. The rainforest gallery was a bit hokey but there is a 3d show about different biodomes around Earth which was very good. Finally, there is a half hour show about astronauts which didn't teach me much new but little one enjoyed it once she lay down on her chair. Definitely worth a visit if you have school age kids. At the mo there is a special on where you pay entry in October, a few pounds more and you get free entry for a year. Even if we go for one more trip, it will be worth it.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Not crazy after all

For as long as I can remember, certain sounds have been able to send me into a boiling, murderous rage. The earliest one I can remember is the sound of my mum tearing up letters as I worried she was destroying important documents. I would imagine all sorts of horrors befalling her so that she would stop. It would take time to calm down once the trigger sound was gone which didn't improve our relationship much. Now the big trigger for me is the sound of people eating...but it's not all people, just my Dad eating. And then there is the banshee rage caused by anyone eating crisps loudly. The biggest crime in cinema history was when the lovely Phoenix cinema in East Finchley started selling kettle crisps...I mean COME ON how is one supposed to hear the film if there is some knob sitting next you munching on what are possibly the loudest crisps on this planet. Popcorn is just as bad. Thank goodness the NFT doesn't allow food inside their auditoriums (not much use to me now as I'm too far away). Another trigger is people fiddling endlessly with their husband does it and sometimes it makes me want to wait until the middle of the night where I would stealthily shave all the sodding stuff off and cut off all his fingers to boot.
My family thought I was an unreasonable crazy nut and just made more noise.
Well, now thanks to the power of the Internet, I have a name for my condition - misophonia. It's nice to know I'm not alone though thankfully, I don't have as many triggers as some of the people on there (and no, I'm not daft enough to share all the triggers). As of yet, there is no cure but once again, the Internet helps me feel that I'm not alone in my little oddities. Thing is, as the world become more crowded we are going to be coming across this condition more and more as there will just be no where to escape from the noise.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Piece of cake

I like my cake and I like to eat it too.
Last week there were MacMillan coffee morning across the land as loads of people held events to raise money for the charity by asking people to eat cake and drink coffee. Alas, I was thwarted by a bit of a tummy bug which meant no cake for me.
I consoled myself by watching the Great British Bake Off, Series 2. I started to watch it as Paul Hollywood is like a chubby version of my husband and he knows about cake. The final last night literally had me on the edge of my seat (the rest was now too wet from the drool falling out of my gob). The finalists were all mums. One married at 17, and a stay at home , one highly educated, well travelled now stay at home and one a company director on maternity leave. Now, woe-betide the mum that doesn't bake. I can whip up a cake and can be shall we say "creative" with toppings but these ladies were something else. I didn't like one contestant (the mad staring eyed Holly company director) and was really rooting for the inventive, bake obsessed, creator of Gargantuan cake Mary Ann (a Terry Pratchett fan no less so a person with good taste). I liked her humour especially in the light of cock ups. Though in the end, I was happy that Jo Wheatley won - the  mum since 17, who had raised 3 boys and now wanted to do something for herself. And bloody hell, she did it - she won. Wooo hooo there is life after parenthood - there is hope. And in the meantime, there is cake. I wonder if she would hire herself out as a Cake-Mummy for a day?

Jo Wheatley's blog - Jo's Blue Aga
Mary Ann Boermans blog - Time to Cook

P.S. Before you judge me and start rolling your eyes, let me assure you, I'm not a reality TV show fan. Most of it is mind boggingly crap and I'd rather scratch my eyes out with brillo pads then watch. This statement doesn't apply to ballroom dancing which I watch with the mother in law, or to cake shows.

P.P.S. The final show was educational. I now know what a squirrel's willy looks like without having to resort to unsavoury experimentation. 

Monday, 3 October 2011

Falkirk Wheel

I'm a bit behind in my blog posts. We have been busy looking into areas to live, dealing with stomach bugs and generally just doing normal day to day life. There aren't many attractions in Falkirk, but we managed to visit the Falkirk Wheel which is an amazing rotating boat lift that joins the Forth and Union canals. The area around the Wheel has been developed to include a children's playground, and area where kids can experiment with sand and water, another area for walking on water in giant plastic balls (think Zorbing but on water) and a decent sized cafe which is right next to the lift. It's only about 10 mins drive from where we live which is great for taking the little one though the £2 parking charge will limit how often we do this - I know it's not a huge amount but our little one is definitely into Cafe Culture and likes to have her cake and eat it too. After scoffing our faces, we got her to wheel her bike around the paths circling the Wheel and then down to the Canal looking at the lovely canal boats moored along the way. Her little legs were tired so we didn't manage to get onto the Woodland Walk paths leading to the Antonine Wall - however, all in all, a lovely day out right in our neighbourhood.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The future's bright

Depression. That's not what I have. Depression is a scary word, a word associated with failure or weakness. I'm just adjusting to the recent changes in our lives. Others have managed it, and so can I. Heck my mother travelled across the world with 3 kids and she managed. Thing is, I'm sure she had depression - I used to hear her crying at night. I don't want my daughter to hear me. So I have learnt to cry silently. And during the day, I rage against the smallest thing as I just feel frustrated by the way I'm feeling.
I've been here before, this bad funk, this huge cloud of negativity and woe-is-me. I know that it will get better. I know I'm not alone - I've been reading more and more stories and posts by people who are losing their jobs, finding it hard to get full time or any work, who have lost all hope of flexibility in their workplace as the recession bites and bosses don't need to provide it. I have to believe that I will work again, that I will contribute to the family pot of dosh. I have to believe that becoming a stay at home mum 5 years ago and giving up my job was a good decision. I have to forgive myself for not trying to do some freelance work and for not keeping up my network of contacts. I know that if my husband had stayed at home, he would be the one feeling this way now. I have to believe the future's bright.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Singing Kettle

Spout, handle, lid of metal, what's insiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide the singing kettle?
Yesterday afternoon we went along to Falkirk Town Hall to watch the Singing Kettle Funny Farm Show. The Singing Kettle are a group of Scottish children's entertainers that's been around forever but are virtually unknown in England. Tot was introduced to the delights of the group by her aunt a few years ago and for a while was Singing Kettle potty so when I saw the show advertised at Falkirk Town Hall, I couldn't resist buying tickets.
Before the show began they threw in some gigantic balloons for the audience to throw around. The show was fun enough but the acoustics at the town hall made it hard to understand every song. This didn't deter anyone as the audience was encouraged to do actions and sing along. Unfortunately, our little one who was dressed as a donkey got very upset as she wasn't chosen to go up on stage. In fact, on the two occassions they asked for volunteers, they didn't chose anyone with a costume on...not great for kids who had made an effort.
Many of the songs were familiar farmyard ones but with a twist added by the entertainers. My favourite was the Old Woman who Swallowed a Fly where the entertainer was doing multiple costume changes.
This was our first experience in the town hall which houses the theatre, a cinema, bar and cafe. It was opened in the 1960s.  I am not sure it would not be built these days because it's not in keeping with the surroundings. However, the theatre was nice enough and we were sat in tiered seats meaning our view was not obscured by the people in front.
We bought a Singing Kettle cd from their stand so for the next few years, I'm going to have that on whenever tot is in the car with me. All together now SPOUT, HANDLE....err maybe not!

Saturday, 17 September 2011


Have you seen that VisitScotland ad? The one that Neil Oliver of Coast fame does the voice-over. The one showing gorgeous Scottish locations. Wellll, that's what I thought it would be like when we moved here - every weekend spent at a beautiful loch, around a state clanshouse or castle, dining in restaurants with the finest Scottish fare, and with a bit of crafty-ness thrown in.
Err the reality was mostly rain, Falkirk and a woeful lack of farmers' markets or decent restaurants. Considering this is a pretty old town, there is not much to discover in terms of the "HISTORY" though I do still have to visit the Falkirk Wheel.
This is a sad excuse - truth be told I've been lazy and wallowing in self-pity at leaving London. Glasgow and Edinburgh are very close. There is a lot to see up in Central Scotland and to discover craft wise. But it needs effort to get there and rain just makes me want to curl up on the sofa and watch TV.
This Thursday the Sun was shining it's wonderful Autumnal glow and I got off my backside, picked up tot and went to Stirling to meet my mother in law. From what I saw, there is a pretty decent shopping centre there and plenty of places to eat (shame we chose a cafe in the Thistles centre which was dire). After lunch, we walked up to Stirling Castle. The approach is magnificent as you walk past the Old Jail and a Cathedral before walking up some steps to enter the Castle grounds. The Castle has just undergone a part refurb which looked odd as part of the structure was a bright yellow colour compared to the rest of the greystone buildings.
I was a bit shocked at the entrance fee of £13 so decided to opt in for the Historic Scotland membership so we could get money off in other historic locations.
There are two sides to the Castle - the history of James V and his wife Mary de Guise who was the mother of Mary Queen of Scots. The other side is the history of the Argylls and Sutherland regiment who were based at the Castle. Unfortunately, we spent too much time at the latter which whilst interesting meant the little one was not willing to spend at the Royal Court parts. Part of the regiment history detailed their role in India...not comfortable reading for me however, the history of the regiment in the Crimea and WW2 included some heartbreaking letters sent by soldiers to loved ones at home. Luckily the refurbished Royal Court had less to read (reminding me a lot of the updated parts of Hampton Court) - making the experience more interactive with museum staff who were in 16th Century dress.
I was in complete tourist mode taking in photos of the statue of Robert the Bruce, the magnificent views and the sumptuously decorated Queens Chambers. Me, and quite a few Americans of course ;) I'll definitely be returning to visit the Castle more (perhaps without the little one!) and to walk around the grounds which whilst not extensive have amazing views.
And a bonus on the way home, we passed Macrees which is a yarn shop I've bought online from. So I managed to slip in a bit of crafty-shopping. All in all, a lovely Autumn day and one of many I hope.

Robert the Bruce

Annoying tourist woman in shot

Refurbed Great Hall

View from Castle

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Greenwich Curry Club Awards

The curry devouring bods over at the Greenwich Curry Club have an award to dish out...and the lucky winner can be selected by you guys - please fill in the very short survey here to nominate your best curry nosh place.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

I do not know your name

 A poem written by Kenny Harris begins and ends with the following line:

I do not know your name, but I know you died
I do not know from where you came, but I know you died

He wrote it after visiting some war graves. I couldn't find any poems of remembrance for non-military people who had died in a war but these lines really sum up how I feel.
As we approach the 10 year anniversary of 9/11, I'm sure many of us will reflect on where we were when the first of the planes struck. I was in an office in Central London in my first design job. My colleagues and I watched it all happening on the Internet. At first there was laughter as it looked like a hoax but as we watched people jumping to their deaths and news came from other sources, it became vividly clear that this was real. Did the world change that day? I grew up in a London that was terrorised by the IRA - and on occasion at work on Oxford street, would be warned to keep away from the glass windows in our office building. The IRA gave warnings and I think mostly, hit military targets.
9/11 reminded the West that in war, it wasn't just soldiers who died. Was this the first time since Pearl Harbour that Americans had been attacked on their own home soil? The most shocking thing was these were people who were just having ordinary days the same as I was - going to work, having breakfast, doing their day to day. They weren't aware of any war, nor that they were potential targets. And it still doesn't feel like war, it still feels like murder as it did in London 4 years later.
I didn't know any of them, but I know they died and tomorrow I shall be saying a prayer for them and their loved ones.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Lazy sunday

It was my child's birthday yesterday. The years are truly going fast. After a manic week of getting presents and food sorted, we had a great get-together with the Scottish family in Dundee (plus my dad - who surprisingly came up for the weekend).
This morning, after dropping Dad off at the station we took the little one to Callendar Park in Falkirk to try out her new bike. Just by luck, there was an ActiveSunday event on so we were able to briefly watch some kids cheerleading and doing karate among other exhibits.
After lunch, we headed back home and had a lazy afternoon. Thanks to our neighbour's buddleia trees, we have many butterflies in our garden. While I was napping in the garden chair, one even landed on my nose! I didn't get a picture of that one but got a rather fuzzy one of a red admiral. It's very hard not to be chilled with these beauties fluttering about.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Ruggerbeez - Shooters Hill Rugby Club

I do like kids to run around having fun and getting exercise. And now...if you are into Rugby and have a 2-7 year old, you can register your interest in a new Ruggerbeez class starting up soon at the Shooters Hill Rugby club here.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Some common things

1. There seem to be hairdressers everywhere. I remember people used to comment on the number of hairdressers/barbers in Plumstead. But you know what, it's the same here. Larbert has a teeny, tiny main street and yet it has 3 barbers and at least 6 hair salons (a new one opened over the weekend). I'm getting concerned that I'll be expected to be coiffured to the hilt. Oh and of course, there are at least 3 estate agents! (But no kebab shops here, just your local fish and chips shop x 2).
2. No matter where we end up living, we always seem just outside the catchment area of the local gorgeous nursery. In our case, we are literally on the wrong side of the (BR) tracks which run perpendicular to our road. Luckily though, the nursery speaks highly of all the Larbert nurseries including the one that tot should go to.
3. No matter how carefully you watch your child, as soon as you take your eye off them, they will fall and bang their head. I have icepacks permanently ready in the fridge for such occasions!
4. Rain falls. Sometimes floods result. And sometimes not. Take waterproofs or an umbrella even if it's bright and sunny.
5. Greggs fudge doughnuts are yummy especially when 4. and 3. above occurs.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

A love of libraries

Have you seen that excellent film Matilda? It's based on a Roald Dahl book which I've never read but the film struck a deep chord with me. The scenes where the child escapes to the library with her little wagon - that was me in the early 80s albeit without the wagon, toodling off to Hendon Library. It was my haven - a way to escape my boisterous brothers. I didn't do sport and TV was rather limited so to amuse myself I read, and read, and read. I'm rather blessed with an awful memory so could read the same book many times but in a library there was no need as there was just so much choice. As a kid I vaguely remembering childrens series about two boys who went into the wild looking for animals as their dad collected them for a zoo. I also found out about my religion and loads of craft things to do. As a teenager the reading escalated and among the authors Herbert, Asimov and Pohl taught me about SF, Chaim Potok helped me see into the world of Hassidic Jews, Mills&Boons a distorted view of romance. I devoured Harold Robbins and Jackie Collins much to my parent's disgust. One of my school friends even worked in the music section for a summer. Later on as a jobless graduate, it became a vital source of information for career hunting - job papers and company information was readily available.
When we moved to Dundee, I joined the library to take tot along to baby rhyme times. Not always successful at making friends but it got us out of the house. In Plumstead, I did the same joining Slade Library's craft club (if it's still going, please join as it's great). So to Larbert and their funky new library. We have been to a few toddler rhyme times and that's been my daugther's first contact with local kids. And she absolutely loves having a library ticket and being able to choose her own book from their extensive collection. The librarians are friendly and very good with kids. The adult books aren't as extensive though I can borrow from any library in Falkirk so that's not a bad thing. I've already happily carried away a crochet book and a Tom Holt novel - not high literary but hey that's not why I love libraries.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

A netless life

Well here we are. The move is done - phew maybe now for a while we can concentrate on being a family.
We are getting a feel of the place and area. Larbert is very small but it's central which is brilliant for travelling to Falkirk, Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh. Yesterday we went into Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival - it was really busy and apparently a bigger festival than ever. I hope to go in again but will try to book a show for the little one who got bored walking around. I also need to learn to walk on stilts so I can see above crowds around street shows. Edinburgh Book Show also started this weekend and I want to go back for that. Did you know that Iain Banks is a Scot? There is also a chance to meet Ian Rankin - wooohooo.
In terms of the house - it's suck being tenants again after living as owners. The place we have rented was someone's home rather than an investment property so we are somewhat walking in their shoes. The decor while not offensive is dated and a bit well, magnolia.
There are no nets (voiles) in the bedrooms or front and living rooms. I like to walk around in either my dressing gown or T-shirt and don't want the impose this sight on the outside world - it's just not ready for that. When I asked the landlady if we could put up nets, explaining that we like our privacy (have a sodding right to it actually especially as we have a little girl), she looked both confused and unwilling and said she would think about it. This frankly has got my blood boiling. especially as she has nets in the bathroom and loo both of which have obscure windows!!!!!
Funny thing though - as I walk around the neighbourhood, I see about 50% of houses don't have nets. Are people dressed at the crack of dawn or don't they use the front rooms unless curtains are drawn, or do they like to show off their homes? It's a mystery.
I have been net-less in another way too, this time on the technology front. For a week and half I had to use my phone as a modem as we waited for our broadband to be activated. The phone modem was not at all bad but it ate up the MBs superfast. I'm so glad that I'm back on the net and can now watch youtube videos to my hearts content.
The lack of a net connection also meant relying on the TV or radio to learn about the recent surreal events in England - watching it made me somewhat glad that we had moved. I heard that apparently Scots do not riot/mass loot like the English - need to look into that when I can.
The TV and media have a lot to answer for as IMHO they hyped up the madness.
I'm also concerned that all social networks are being lumped into the same pool. Surely there is a difference between encrypted messaging vs vs. the public openness of Facebook and Twitter.
Anyhooo, if you were directly affected by any of the madness, my utmost sympathies to you. I sincerely hope normality returns soon.

P.S. Apologies for the blog layout and design which is pants. Blogger doesn't have the same templates function as Wordpress so it takes longer (or a knowledge of HTML) to improve matters. Another thing on my list of ToDos.

Friday, 29 July 2011

A moving experience

The packers are here and half our stuff has been boxed up. The rest will be done tomorrow and then away they go to Scotland with our lives safe in bubble wrap, paper and cardboard. We will follow on Sunday.
It's going to be fantastic living under the same roof as Mr Plummy Mummy. We have all missed that a lot.
Last week, tot finished at the excellent Greenslade nursery. Her teacher and the assistants are the loveliest people. I'm going to miss the parents at the gates in the mornings as [mostly] they were such a down-to-earth normal lot. Tot is very excited about going to Scotland but I am sure there will be tears next week when she realises we can't just pop round to see L (boy), A (girl), L (girl), I (girl), O or I (boys) or down to the woods with P (boy), G (boy) and C (boy). All gorgeous kids who we will both miss like mad.
Talking about kids, a unplanned surprise happened this week as I saw the magic Clearblue words "Pregnant 1-2 weeks". Even hubby, who hadn't been keen in the past, was happy. But the joy was ridiculously shortlived as I began to miscarry on Wednesday. We went through this two years ago though that time, the pregnancy was slightly further along and we felt a lot sadder. Don't get me wrong, we are realistic about age and our chances, but it still sucks. The move is keeping us distracted for now but when the dust settles, the tears will flow.
Our time in the borough feels shortlived too as we weren't ready to move but circumstances dictate that we must. We live on a friendly cul de sac - some of our neighbours popped in today thinking we were going as the van is outside.
So many great things are happening in Greenwich and it's been wonderful to see the improvements in Plumstead.

Thank you for popping by to read this blog. I'm keeping the name for now as frankly, I love it. The writing won't be about Plumstead but this blog was never just about that - instead it will be about the next chapter in the Plummy Mummy household and whatever else takes my fancy so it's goodbye but just for now - up, up and AWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, 15 July 2011


Was just pleasantly surprised to read:

Transport for London have cancelled the weekend closure planned for 9pm Friday 15 July, until 5am Monday 18 July, as works are progressing ahead of schedule.

Now I can travel to North London without the stress of driving back before the deadline. Mind you, we often take the city route and my little one loves to sing "London Bridge is falling down" as we cross. Much as she likes to shout Fire, Fire!! when we are in public museums. Thank goodness her voice doesn't travel much.

One person's rubbish is...

I'm a bit behind the times with this but I did my first Freecycle interaction today. It felt really good to be able to give something away that in all honesty, would have just been taken the recycling centre.
I joined the local group a few weeks ago. At first, I was shocked to see what people ask for as my parents always taught me to never expect something I couldn't afford to have - but as the old saying goes "if you don't ask, you don't get" and in these days of credit crunching and recession, people need things they can no longer afford.
Around the same time, I've also put some items on Ebay to sell for the first time...Again, I'm late to that party. I admit one has been hanging around in my wardrobe for around 4 years waiting to go on Ebay. It took me nearly 2 hours to do the listing from taking photos to writing a description.
As this is all new, I have not yet learnt the tricks and tips that would make my items sell more successfully - if you are a veteran, please can you share some of your knowledge.....for free?

Friday, 8 July 2011

the moving finger writes

The moving finger writes; and having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit,
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line
Nor all your tears wash out a word of it
--- Omar Khayyam
One of the things I'm looking forward to once we move is writing to friends and family in London. Although I am a fan of the Internet, use Facebook and twitter I still like to send and receive post. And whilst I don't have the most marvellous penmanship, I like to write by hand. I think it is such as shame that these days, we only get handwritten missives inside birthday, anniversary and Christmas cards - though I love reading the yearly roundup of news. Now with our move, I'm looking forward to searching out postcards and writing of our little adventures - after all though a picture may say 1000 words, an actual personal word or two brings a smile to the face too. And it's a good way to encourage our child to write and read - result all round.

Things to do

Just noticed some friends have "liked" this site. It's got some useful information about activities for kids:
Greenwich Kids

Other useful sites I've used in the past are:
Netmums' what's on
Family days out with kids
London toilet map (very useful if you are just potty training)
Time Out kids page

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Nature at LesNes Abbey

A friend and I took our kids along to the playground next to Lesnes Abbey yesterday and then went for a walk around the ruins. This park always amazes me as it's beautiful, hardly has any visitors and is gorgeous to walk around. I was particularly impressed with the wild meadow area and the planting arrangements. Just wish I had had a proper camera with me.
Does anyone know what the fruit is?

Friday, 24 June 2011

Circle of life and all that

Many years ago, everything was about school and getting exams, jobs and houses.
A few years later, everything was about marriages and babies. I was the last of my friends to get married and do the baby thing. It was a great reason to get together with friends and family.
Recently, my husband and I are at that age where the circle has turned to death. We have both lost aunts in the last year. On Facebook, every now and again, I hear of this friend or that losing someone close. Yesterday, it was the 5th anniversary of my father-in-law's passing.
Sadly, yesterday, one of my uncles also passed away. He had been ill for some time and lost the fight. I'm glad we haven't moved yet as I want to be there for my family. I wish my hubby was here too as it would be nice to have a hubby-hug.
It's hard to explain to a child why Mummy and Daddy are feeling a bit sad and about death - I haven't told ours as she wouldn't understand and I don't want to upset her. So, all she'll know is that we have to visit our large extended family for a get together. Sad, very sad. That's life though, isn't it and the circle will keep turning.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Daddy dearest

I love my Dad. I haven't always get on with him or agreed with what he said or did but he's MY Dad and I can't imagine another.
Having said that, I never ever thought much of Father's Day as it's a made up holiday as far as I'm concerned. Until 4 years ago, when a new Daddy was made. And he's the best Dad I've ever met. He's my husband.
I wish I had met his Dad as from what I hear, he and I had a lot in common (not least Tool Time!!). I would thank him for giving me my husband.
Happy Father's day to you all. If you Dad has moved on, then I send you a huge hug whether you were Daddy's little princess or Daddy's little soldier.
And if you never had a Dad, don't's a made up holiday anyway.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

New experiences Snake

So earlier this year I was talking about new experiences and today I did something I didn't think I would ever do - I touched a snake. The Rainforest Adventurers are doing the rounds of Greenwich schools bringing mini-beasts from the rainforest. Today it was the turn of my little one's nursery.
She wasn't going near any of the animals and half way through the session, she wondered off. But I stayed. We saw a giant snail (slimy ewwww), a cockroach (ewww), a centipede (ewww), a tarantula (in it's cage, so phew), a stick insect (awww cute) and a snake. It looked very similar to the image above with a lovely pattern of oranges. I was a bit freaked out at the flicking tongue but after touching it, I was less afraid. Having said that, I would NO WAY hold it. Some of the kids were incredibly brave and had every creature in their little hands putting me and a few other parents to shame!
The kids are so lucky to have such great experiences and I'm so lucky too. I just hope the animals weren't too scared.

P.S. The man doing the session is a Scot (yayyyy all Scots!!) as is the Rainforest Adventure company. So you may find that there is a strange man, dressed like a student on a year out to the wilds of the Amazon, staying in a hotel near you with some rather strange bed companions.

Event: 18th June Community Fete

I cannot believe it's that time of year again - seems only yesterday that the last fete was on!

Eaglesfield Park Neighbourhood Watch Scheme Community Fete:
Saturday 18th June
Time: 1.30 to 4.30pm
More than 30 stalls so should be good for a stroll along to if you have nowt else to do on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Woolwich in the rain

I HAD to get out of the house today. Unfortunately, there is not a lot to do indoors in Plumstead so [very unlike me] I decided to take the sprog and my mother in law for a walk in the persistent rain along the Royal Arsenal site this morning. We parked for free, yes FREE, in the Royal Arsenal carpark. Love parking for free. And would even have been happy to shell out 60p to park on a Saturday.
We walked to the Clipper boarding area to spot boats - damn I wish I had my camera as there was a tiny sailboat trying to sail inbetween the two Woolwich ferries. It was soooo dramatic. We also spotted a Firepower kids party out in the rain being shouted at by a soldier type. The little kids looked like they were having lots of fun.
Of course, after our adventure, a treat coffee was in order. We bypassed the Dial Arch and headed to Starbucks on Powis street (hoping it would be more affordable and have more child friendly treats). I was worried it would be rough but no, it was like every Starbucks everywhere in the world which was a relief. Coffee drank, a little wonder down Powis street in search of arts&crafts stuff for kiddo at the Works and Poundland. I wanted to visit the new Wilkinsons and the cheap pound shop on the corner but both kiddo and MIL looked rather bedraggled so we gave it a miss.
I was sad to see that the stallholders weren't around and replaced by lots of building work. Yet, despite this, I think Woolwich is tolerable in the rain when the normal "clientele" are no-where to be seen.

Event: 12th June Family Fun Day

Being at a loose end due to the market being closed, I may go along to this fun day (assuming the rain allows, although hopefully the rugby club will let people run indoors if the heavens open up)

Family Fun Day

Samuel Montagu Youth Clubs Playing Field, 122 Broad Walk, Kidbrooke, SE3 8ND

Date: Sun 12th Jun 11
Telephone: 020 8856 1126

With all sorts of free sports, dance and crafts activities, children's games and inflatables, and a tempting mix of craft and produce stalls, this fun day has something for all the family. Many schools and community groups will be attending to showcase their achievements. You can also pick up information on a range of local services.

12 Noon

East Greenwich Farmers Market

I was really looking forward to getting some local grub today so was going off to the East Greenwich Farmers Market. However [luckily] I was checking the opening times and with great sadness have noted that the EGFM is not on at the moment. The market had moved to Halstow school but unfortunately, could not drum up enough trade to keep it viable for the stallholders.
They are now looking into alternative sites.
How about Plumstead Common or Winns Common? I could easily see a market on either Common. OK, it may not be great for the people of East Greenwich but they could toodle off to Blackheath Farmers market.
I'm sure there are plenty of people round here that would like a pick of fresh cheese and veg and don't want to travel all the way to Blackheath or Eltham.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Lies, lies, lies

Think I've blogged about this before but hey ho, here I go again. I HATE the internet sometimes, especially when looking for reviews. Trying to find reviews on Estate Agents is difficult. And when you strike gold with a site that has a lot of reviews (the reviewcentre no less) you can't believe them as there is a polar discrepancy on opinions.
So it is really up to word of mouth. Which means we are going to go for an agent that was trying to persuade us to sell when we are better off letting out, because a mate has used them and found them to be OK.
When did "OK" start being a good reason to use a service.
End of rant.

P.S. I seem also to have broken Tesco's online shopping as the site is now as buggy as Sainsbury's. I should become a defect tester.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Wheel(s) of Freedom

This weekend, I took the car to North London to spend time with old friends and family. It was wonderful seeing them. However, I was nearly undone by the amount of traffic / roadworks on the North Circular and around Finchley/Muswell Hill. Everywhere I turned there was some guy in a dayglow jacket posturing around a hole in the road. It also struck me how claustrophobic the North of London is. The river and Commons/parks in Greenwich, and the closeness to Kent convey a sense of space that is lacking in my old neighbourhood (despite the nearness of Hampstead Heath).
I was happy to be back here after the weekend to be able to stretch out my arms without hitting a norf london resident.
We took the car as I couldn't face taking a stroller on the Underground with luggage for a long weekend - as anyone with sprogs knows, you take as much luggage for 3 days as you would for a week.
Which reminds me, I have never seen a person in a wheelchair on public transport. It's horrendous getting a stroller about, so it must be hellish if you are in a wheelchair. In fact, maybe the management of said public transport should all be forced to be in wheelchairs (or pushing a stroller) for a week just to experience how utterly shite the network is.
If the wheelchair users aren't using public transport, how are they getting out and about?

Hidden treasures of Greenwich Park

We have been to Greenwich Park a couple of times in May. It's very hard to believe that it will all be restored once the Olympics have gone but lets keep our fingers crossed.
One part that I hope isn't affected is something a friend showed me today - a peaceful enclosed garden at the foot of the Observatory. So bizarre that despite the many times I've been to the park, I've never discovered this area. Then again, strangely there aren't that many maps in the Park - I spotted one in front of the Queen's House. There isn't one to view on the Parks website either (unless you want to pay a rather large sum to have a printed version - which I don't. All I wanted to know was where the loos are located!).
Another item spotted hidden in some flowers was this commemorative plaque to the Titanic.
Makes me wonder what other gems are hidden out there.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

School daze

Before child, I would move to another area with very little thought - moves were driven by work opportunities and I just assumed that where I ended up, I'd fit in or find somewhere I did.
Bit different when you have a sprog to consider - now moves are driven by both where work is found, and where the good schools are. And of course, our wallets since we can only live within our means (livng beyond would be rather reckless methinks).
So I was a bit surprised when I was asked yesterday about schools in Greenwich borough that I could rattle off an impressive list of primary schools but the only secondary one I'm aware of is the Plumstead Manor Girls school. If we stayed in this area, I guess that's where our daughter would go. What the heck do you do if you have a son or prefer your daughter to be in a mixed school or even, gasp, want to encourage her in sciences rather than performing arts (not sure why but the feminist in me really baulks at the only school for girls being one that promotes performing arts, no matter how good it is)
Having said all that, last week's report in the Newshopper about lack of primary places has left me somewhat puzzled - surely with the army moving in the council would have had to do an exercise in predicting how many extra places would be needed in primary level, both now and for the next few years. We parents get it shoved down our throats how important the primary years are, that if we don't spend loads of time reading to our kids, feeding them nutritious food and generally pandering to their every need, they will wither away and be sub-educated future non employed and ergo non-citizens (rant rant rant) and then the reality is that our kids will be taught in sheds because someone wasn't able to plan adequately. That someone is having a laugh but it's at the expense of youngsters who won't have playgrounds to play in.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Estate agents

As part of our move we inevitably have to deal with estate agents. We met with a couple of firms today and are scheduled to meet another tomorrow. It's not fun. It's a matter of trust and having the ability to see past the flattering sales patter to gauge how good they will be at handling something you love (our little house).
Have any of you had to deal with the local firms? If so, what did you think. Any recommendations would be gratefully received.

A pox upon your house

A bunch of the kids in my little one's nursery have come out with chicken pox. Luckily so far, our kid hasn't caught it which is a good thing as Mr Plummy Mummy has never had it - wouldn't do to catch it a few days before starting a new job.
I remember having it as a kid and once the weeping sores stopped we went to the seaside. As soon as the salt water hit my skin, I screamed in agony (mind you, as a treat I was given some frozen watermelon which was delicious. Food really does comfort).
Chicken pox is not fun and is particular bad for kids with skin conditions like eczema. I tell you what else isn't fun - the NHS slide show on childhood conditions. Grim. Don't look if you have just eaten.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Quick someone call a Doctor

Have you ever seen that show House Doctor where a rather stern American woman "helps" people sell their houses by turning them neutral? Occasionally the house makeover was so good the owners decided to stay put.
I feel like that right now. Mr Plummy Mummy is busy repairing our house so it is fit to rent it. He is steadfastly crossing off items on a list we have had for a few years. So now that we are moving, I'm getting the house I wanted! Not everything we would like will be done. No new kitchen and the carpets will have to stay. But the rest is great.
I've even been out in the garden taking up plants that I want to take with me. Whilst this may seem rather extreme, some of the plants were expensive and some are ones I just love to watch grow. Also, I'm aware of the need to turn the garden into a low maintenance one.
This relocation business is no joke. It's expensive. A catch22 as we are moving as hubby couldn't get work in London and we can no longer afford to live here. But now I'm starting to wonder if we can afford to move. Our mortgage company has sent us a form to apply for consent to let (CTL) - without which we would break our mortgage terms but will again incur costs for us -
  • We have to have a certain loan to value ratio. If we don't meet it, they could ask us to pay a bulk amount to pay it off
  • Getting CTL involves fees
  • The form is confusing. To get CTL, we need to ensure rental income is 125% of the mortgage payment but in another box are asked what we will do if there is a rental shortfall.
There is another cost - emotional. As a SAHM I spend a lot of time in the area we live. This move will involve going somewhere we know nothing about - leaving me feeling both excited and trepidatious. I will have the joy of making new friends, taking up new adventures but it will involve leaving friends and fave haunts down here.
This morning in a moment of irritation (I was watching Great British Menu when the form arrived), I suggested that perhaps hubby should work in Scotland, commute on a daily basis from his hometown (about 2 hours each way) and just visit us every now and again. We would not be the first family to make this "sacrifice" especially in this recession - people stuck in houses with negative equity who can't afford to move so the family has to split, even if it's only temporary.
Of course, if that's what we did, then I would no longer have the fun of looking for a new (BIGGER) house with a large garden (I want to grow veg!) and being able to go walking around lochs and such like. And whilst the Sarf Lahdahn accent has it's charms, I am rather looking forward to the little one developing a cute Scots one.

Friday, 13 May 2011

The number of the beast

I spotted these ominously signed bins whilst out and about in Plumstead this week. Makes me giggle.

P.S. Apparently there was a bit of a mistranslation and the number of beast was actually 616. Not as funny though

Friday, 6 May 2011

Foraging in Greenwich

This past year I've been trying to grow herbs in my garden. I also wanted to plant garlic and onion - not to eat but to keep the cats off. However, I never got round to it.
The bayleaf is growing fantastically in a pot. It suffered some major snow damage but with some pruning, it's bounced back brilliantly.
The thyme less so - it's gone very dry looking and we miss being able to run our fingers through the soft leaves and getting that gorgeous smell on our hands.
On the kitchen window sill, I’ve done well with basil though it went rather yellow when we were away and it was water-starved. But for a supermarket buy, it’s not bad.
In addition, my MIL gave me a weird looking indoor herb pot which didn’t produce anything for ages, then all of a sudden young coriander sprouted. Of all herbs, this one would be most useful as I love to add it as a garnish to my food. I’ve also managed to grow chives indoors but may ditch those as they seem to attract little insects.
Another success seems to be nigella seeds which have sprouted well. I’ll have to learn how to harvest the actual seeds though.
Thing is, I’ve not gotten around to eaten any of the stuff – a bit to do with my aversion to dirt (OCD, me????)
I’m growing some Sambucus in my garden and hope in years to come it will produce some great Elderberries (alas, I won’t enjoy them but maybe our tenants will).
And of course, in Plumstead there are PLUM trees. I received a great batch of fruit from my friend last year as well as some lovely apples (made great apple pickle).
However, as my family and I wandered around Oxleas Wood yesterday afternoon, I got to thinking about foraging. I’ve been reading about wild garlic recipes and was annoyed that I wouldn’t know how to recognise it if it hit me in the face.
I like going into the Secret Garden in the woods which often has things edible looking in autumn. Some guidance is needed to ensure I don't pick poisonous food. I wonder if the park rangers point out edibles on their tours.
Luckily, there is foraging advice on the London Forager site. It seems a work in progress as some of the recipes aren’t finished off but hey – it’s a place to start. Or you could try Fergus the Forager who does foraging courses (love the name, wonder which came first name or profession).Mind you, all this foraging stuff is fine but rest assured, as a determined OCD-ish vegie, I'll be staying away from roadkill though or freeganning (looking for food in dumpsters).
P.S. if you don't want the fruit for free, you can always try going to a pick-your-own farm

Monday, 2 May 2011

Event: 5th May Referendum

I still have not decided how to vote. Theoritically, I appreciate the benefits of AV but unfortunately, the Liberals have shown themselves to be less than faithful to their pre-election promises so that's putting me off.
Having the option to say who you would like if your first choice didn't get in is a powerful incentive however, if we all end up with our second choice then in reality no-one wins.
Anway, must decide soon. Not really asking for any opinions, just speaking aloud. Funny how our minds have not been on this vote what with a Wedding and so on.

Do wonder how they didn't phrase the question in an AV way:

Mark your choices in order of preference:

Keep the FPTP system:
Bring in AV:
Bring back the rule of Monarchy: (of course I jest here but some would mark that wouldn't they???)

EVENT: 8th May Falconwood Mini Railway

OK OK ,its strictly the Welling and District Model Engineering Society but they set up the mini railway in the Electricity building at the back of Falconwood station.
The railway and clubhouse will be open from 2.30 to 5pm. Last train ride tickets issued at 4.30pm

Dates in May: 8th and 22nd

We shall be toodling along as tot likes trains and I like little things and maybe afterwards I can persuade the family to try out Shampan - an indian restaurant recommended by StuMayhew

Life in the old dog yet

A year ago, I remember asking Mr Plummy what this recession lark was all about - neither we or anyone we knew had been affected.
Last November, Mr Plummy rang to tell me he had been made redundant. He would be able to work until Feb. Feb came and he went. This wasn't really to do with the recession but more to do with the dangers of working for a global organisation that can easily move work to another country (in this case China)(see note below). This sent me into a bit of a panic as most people who know, know it's very hard to get a job in IT after the age of 40. Quite a few friends who were made redundant from Sony Ericcsson took ages to find work.
There is also the adage that it's easier to find a job when you had a job.
Luckily, hubby had a lot of interviews while still in work but after he left that slowed down.
There was an interview in East Kilbride - let me tell you in no uncertain terms, I will not live there. Horrid town (sorry if you are from there, didn't see much didn't want to).
I crossed all my fingers for work down here. I also faced the rather unpleasant realisation that I am not going to get a UI job anytime soon. 4 years out of the mobile world is a looooong time even if the skills I possess are strong and IMHO transferable - if you don't know the ins/outs of Apple OS, Android and Windows Mobile UI, you might as well be dead.
Interviews that he thought went well ended up in nothing.
I panicked some more a la a headless chicken but he remained calm.
His calm has eventually paid off as he had now got a job. Yippee I hear you cheer (at least I hope you are cheering).
The only thing, dear readers, is that this is a bit out of the commuter zone as it's in Central Scotland. So for the next few months, I'll be running around getting our house ready for rental whilst trying to find somewhere to live up there, and then we will be gone. The plan had always been to move to Scotland, but I just didn't think it would be so soon and I'm really sad to be going just as so much is happening in this Royal Borough. I'm also going to be very sad to leave the lovely virtual people I have met and hope that I will be able to keep up with all their posts from afar.
Anyway, lets put the hankies away. I'm here for some time yet and I will try to be less lazy about posting.

This morning I read the Chinese government are encouraging their citizens to be more creative. This sends shivers down my spine as in IT, most of the design jobs stayed in Europe whilst the day to day dev went to China. If design goes out there, what work if any will be left here :(

Catch - up

Blimey it seems like ages since I posted. Also seems we have had most of April off and I must say, I'm quite ready to go back to normality now.

Lots has been happening:
1. The smear did not work and I have to go back. Perhaps if the woman had spent less time having a go about my fattyness and more time on the down-belows, it would have worked. Talking about fat, wish the experts would make their mind up about the apple shape being bad or not (for now, I shall eat cake and be done with it)
2. THE wedding. In my family of Scots, it's not an event to be watched. But like most girlies, I wanted to see the dress, the shoes, the hair. Gosh wasn't that bridesmaid pretty. Anyway, it's done. For the most part lovely if a tad boring which probably means they will be together forever. The most funny part for me was seeing the outfits of the ugly all know who I mean.
3. The weather. Gosh hot yes. Lucky for me I spent most of it in Dundee so not so hot. Have been sneezing and generally feeling unwell since our return cos of them pesky spores/pollen. Most of the plants on our patio took a bit of a bashing and some were gone past the saving point. But my goodness, the front of our house now has a rather large contingent of curry plants and there is NO cat poo. By golly I may have cracked it. Only thing is that I can't see any other plants so as soon as the wind dies down, I'll be out with my shears. I've never had a garden and get ridiculous amounts of pleasure from all the growth.
4. What is it with pebble beaches? I've got a bucket load of really beautiful stones but seriously, it's an addiction - I go to a beach and bring some back.
5. I'm really excited to see the progress on the Slade Centre (formerly known as Slade Library). Can't wait for that to open - hope they manage to get some books in there.
6. Just went to Belvedere splash park for the first time - very nice if somewhat freezing and windy. Will have to return but glad that one thing on the list is crossed off.
7. Does the amount of blogging and general levels of visitors have a direct correlation to the amount of sunshine - mine have gone down quite a bit.
8. More news in the next post.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Bitter sweet

The day started off rather bitterly as I had to go for a smear test. This is a godawful thing for any woman to go through as an instrument resembling eyelash curlers is shoved up your privates and then the shover has a root around to get a good look at your cervix. It's so undignified but it must be done as regular screening ensures that any changes can be detected earlier. I was mildly curious to see that the instrument of torture has now been changed to some plastic contraption (which must be more hygienic I hope than the previous, re-usable thing). Before I was subjected to torture, the nurse noticed that I had been called in for high cholesterol last year and went on about my need to change my diet. I was weighed and despite joining a Zumba class, had lost sod all weight. The advice is to cut out: Cheese, chocolate, biscuits, bread, carbohydrates, crisps and ICE CREAM. She didn't mention cake but I'm sure that's on the banned list. I almost feel that I might as well be dead but having a child soon puts an end to such selfish melodrama.
Afterwards I trundled off home and sadly told Mr Plummy that it best we give our plan to visit the London 2011 Chocolate Festival a miss. One of the reasons I love my husband is that he is able to say "Pah" to nonsense and so after lunch off we all went to the South Bank.
Wasn't it gloriously hot today in beautiful London? Probably not the best weather to be hanging around a choccy festival, no matter how pretty the decorated items were. We tried a bit of salted caramel (nice) and tot had some vanilla choc all the way from Italy. There were only a few stalls and my best one had a chocolate raspberry ladybird for £5. Luckily for our wallets, heat put us off carrying anything around so we looked but didn't buy.
It was a nice surprise to see Greenwich Meantime Brewery with a stall here. I didn't notice if they had any chocolate beers but I'm sure tomorrow when the crowds really get going, they will do great business. The pose the young man held as I quickly took a photo was very funny.
A nice stroll past the Eye and back towards Cannon Street lifted my mood no end. Along the way, I took a few more photos with my little phone. The silt/sand sculptures were particularly impressive but I did worry about the man spending so much time in Thames Water - is that safe?
And of course, like on any sunny day, we had to stop by the ice cream van. Don't worry - I was good and had a cone of Lemon Sorbet. Please don't tell me this is on the banned list too.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Proper pukka education

The start of this week was pre-occupied with primary school selections. While we wait another year to apply as litte one's birthday is just after the cut off date, a lot of our friends have had their emails/letters telling them where their kids are going to be placed. Some were happy to have got their choices, and some were very unhappy and will be going along the appeals / waiting list route. Anyway, this mood had me tuning into Jamie's Dream School. I am not a fan of reality TV and think most of is shockingly bad. However, out of curiosity I had recorded the whole series to date but just not been in the mood to watch it as the Cheeky Chef annoys the bloody hell out of me.
This show is not about the reality of teaching, the state of our education system or the problems of disenfranchised youth. It's ENTERTAINMENT, car-crash gawping enhanced by the clever use of editing to make us see how awful some kids are and to feel huge amounts of pity for the quiet ones who want to get ahead but don't have a chance as their classes are constantly, continually disrupted. When a teacher is faced with 30 kids I can see why they have to exclude some for the good of the majority.
As far as I can tell, the only person with any expertise in secondary education is the head teacher "Dabbs" and he ends up in tears by episode 4 out of sheer frustration. I have heard many teachers leave the profession due to bad behaviour, but surely this head teacher has had to deal with difficult pupils before and even if it's not so concentrated, it only been a few weeks. Sheesh - what, if anything he is bringing to the process? (Have to say too, a head master who calls himself "Dabbs" is not really going to get much respect - in my day it was "Mr Edwards" (not his real name)). Oh god, I sound like David Starkey now :(
I have toyed with the idea of being a teacher but my goodness; I'm having second thoughts now.
That old adage "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach" was shown to be bollocks - it used to be deregatory towards teachers as they were people who couldn't succeed in a given career and were reduced to teaching instead. But a teacher who is not good at a subject is never going to be a good teacher.
People Jamie found inspirational (but the kids didn't know mostly) struggled as they were not given one iota of secondary school teacher training. Even David Starkey and Mary Beard who are used to teaching undergrads struggled.
One thread that has come up again and again is the short attention span of the children, esp. when they are not in a hands-on creative class. This is often blamed on portable technology – however, being able to text/chat/surf whilst being in a meeting is a valuable skill enabling participants to be present in multiple locations at any one given moment - a fantastic skill that we shouldn't know huh ;)
I'm going to keep watching (and blogging and tweeting) until Jamie's irritating personality drives me to throw my mobile at the TV. It's pandering to my fears as a parent especially the fear that feral wildchildren will be waiting to lure my daughter away from her studies and woes betide me if I let them succeed in turning her to the dark, dumb side.
This show is not going to come up with any solutions that the brightest and best teachers, heads or educators in the UK haven't already thought. It's just going to tell that us what we know - give the resources the show has to each school in the UK, give the decent teachers some respect and support (get rid of the shite ones), change the size of classrooms, help the people who fall outside of the system and then we can all marvel as our kids are engaged with real life A&E, biodomes, the beauty of poetry and power of photography.