Friday 18 May 2012

This Little Light of Mine

My kid has been coming home from nursery singing snippets of a gospel song. And like a little worm, it's niggled into my brain and keeps popping up at odd times.
She only sings the chorus. It occurred to me that it's a Christian Gospel song so for a wee bit I felt odd singing it. But you know what....
In the last week I have found out that 3 people dear to me are ill...1 with a year long cold that has caused her to develop asthma, my bro with a year long cold that included a bout of pneumonia and a dear cousin who has got breast cancer. When I talk to some creative friends they tell me they are having trouble finding their mojo (my words not theirs) and generally people are down. Myself including. I'm getting depressed reading about the state of our education system and worried that our kids will not have jobs in the distant future (and me in the near future).
It's just so damn draining.
I miss that silly snippet of good news you used to get at the end of News at Ten.
So despite my not being a Christian, I've started singing a truncated version of the song at all hours of the day, and some of the night too.
It cheers me up. It reminds me that inside me there is a core of happiness and I'm going to let that shine.
In case you want to join in my virtual rock choir here is my truncated version. Hand-clapping is entirely optional:

This little light of mine
I'm going to let it shine
This little light of mine
I'm going to let it shine,
Let it shine
Let it shine

Hide it under a bushel? No!
I'm going to let it shine

Hide it under a bushel? No!
I'm going to let it shine

Let it shine
Let it shine

However, if you prefer something a bit more disco then how about a snippet from the late great Donna Summer. A very positive sentiment. Imagine the "him" is that bad news negative little sod that sits on your shoulder telling you that you can't do it.
Enough, is enough, is enough
I can't go on, I can't go on no more no
enough, is enough, is enough
I want him out, I want him out that door now

Thursday 17 May 2012

Beauty and the Beast 3d

So today we had a first - Little one and I  met up with a friend and her kid to see Beauty and the Beast in 3D. It's the first time we have gone to the cinema since she was a tiny baby.
We have the film on DVD but I was amazed at some of the detail that came out seeing it on a large screen. I am not sure if that is down to the 3D effect or the big screen. In parts it was quite ropey. As a spectacle wearer I'm not keen on those heavy 3D glasses that start to hurt the nose after 2 mins. Also I question if3D is appropriate for every film out there. In fact, the cynical me would argue that adding a few extra screen details to a 2D flick, labelling it 3D and hyping it up is a bit exploitative.
Taking kids to cinemas...kinda an exercise in patience and a lot of shushing. I still don't know what was suddenly so interesting on the cinema floor halfway through the film. Hopefully not that snake that used to come on the pre-show trailers. Gulp.
Despite the moaning, I enjoyed myself and I think the little one did too. May even go again.

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Closer to 50

A few weeks ago was my 45th birthday. Now I'm closer to 50 than 40. I don't get it as when I think of myself, I am either 13 or maybe at a push 20. I'm never 30, 35, 40 and definitely not 45.
I'm trying not to have a mid life crisis (yes, I assume I shall live to 90). I definitely thought I would be "sorted" by now, happy with myself. But it's hard with all the changes in the last five years....I have got married, had a kid, moved 5 times and given up my career and become someone who's life is devoted to others. Before this I earned loads, was respected at work, was able to go out when I wanted, see films, eat out, sleep late, meet mates, get drunk/hungover, buy anything I wanted (luckily didn't have really expensive tastes), have liaisons, have adult uninterrupted conversations. But at the end of the day I was lonely. I don't make friends easily - sometimes so shy but coming across as aloof. I worry that I have nothing interesting to say. It was easy to make friends at work as you had the shared domain.
Now I have two amazing people in my life that I love. And I'm much more creative now through the fogey old fashioned arts of knit, crochet and craft. I don't care. I love it. I do craft even when tot is not here. I love messing about with playdoh, paint, glue and most of all yarn. I meet some people through this and like talking to other crafters online.
In Plumstead, through playgroups and the nursery I met some lovely people. It's been a bit harder here. I have not made any friends in Scotland. In August tot goes to primary school - I'm really anxious about not being with my daughter so am going to look for some work.  I spoke to a mate the other day. She used to be a Chemical Engineer but since having kids her life changed. She is now a mum but also a bereavement counsellor and working in the NHS on cancer screening programmes. She gave me some advice about finding volunteer at the school, to look for opportunities. She also told me to make friends with other mums on the playground.
I will do that. Cos I'm 45 and I'm sorted. Err....

May bank holiday London

My dad had just come back from a 7 week visit to India...his first since we went in 2001. He was mad to go at this time of year as it's really hot there. But it was good for him to see his sisters and other family.
We visited him on his return back. First a stopover for the night in the Premier Inn in Stevenage Central. If you should find yourself in need of a hotel don't pick this's well dated. But if you need a bite to eat go here as the restaurant staff were the most cheerful ever, even though they were so busy and run off their feet.

Next morning we went to stay at my dad's. Much as I love him the smell of his cigarettes and cooking linger and make me uncomfortable. I also revert to my adolescent self and end up having confrontations with the old man. I got cross when I couldn't find towels though he had never moved them, I just forgot where they were.
My little brother is living with him again too trashing my old room. So there was a clean up to do before we could put little one in there to sleep.
The trip was great though as we visited my my best mate and her son then my other young brother, his four kids and wife. Their house is immaculate because my bro is a bit OCD. He needs to be as their flat  is small. I wish I was as disciplined. Sigh. Our little one absolutely loves going there as she loves playing with her girl cousins. I wished we lived closer so they could meet more often. Sigh.
The next day, we went along to the South Bank to meet Plummy friends. I may have mentioned before that this is my favourite place ON EARTH. It's sad but I just love it. Despite that I still managed to get off at the wrong tube stop....what a crap memory. What a numpty.Anyway, once there I love walking by the river, past the book stalls at the NFT, down to Gabriel's Wharf for Gourmet pizza, so much to see and do. Whilst it rained we sheltered inside the Festival Hall. We went up to see what's on all the floors. Great views of London (though not of the Shard). We tried to get our kids to listen to a choir but that didn't work. So we took THE SINGING LIFT down to the food market. Yes, you read correctly, the lift sings. For once, we were happy to be going up and down the wrong floors as the singing was so fun.
After being treated to ice cream we walked back to the area around the London Eye seeing people play music, stand as statues, blow giant bubbles and a guy play drums amazingly well on old plastic bins.

Sigh. The long weekend was not long enough, time ran out and we didn't visit Royal Greenwich or Plumstead to see friends and spy on our house. I wonder how my garden is doing in this so called drought.
It was a lovely weekend away but you know what, as we drove back to Livingston, I was happy to leave the crush of people and the narrow streets. It was great to be able to see all the fields on the drive back and breathe the fresh air.

Five Sisters Zoo

Sun 29th April: Five Sisters Zoo
The plan had been to go to Edinburgh zoo with friends and their little girl to see pandas but the tickets were sold out so we opted for somewhere local.  I've been meaning to go but waited as Five Sisters Zoo has just got some rescued bears that I wanted to see. Before going in you pass the biggest rabbits I've ever seen. It's alos next to the Leaping Lemurs soft play area which I'll cover later.
Again, was a bit take aback by the entrance fee of £7.95 for adults and £5.95 for kids but this zoo had a lot more to see than the Owl Centre.
There were for example some owls!
We started off in the reptile house which though smelly, had some very interesting creatures. I'm still shuddering thinking of the snakes.
Then onto the monkeys and other such furry creatures - not a huge selection but they were really active and fun to watch. Look at these cute lemurs all bunched trying to stay warm. So cute.

Next Owls! Yep,  there is quite a little collection here.
There was quite a lot to see in the zoo and there is also a fairground area but we steered clear as the rides cost extra. Instead we went up to see the donkeys and ponies who have a very large area to move about in. Unfortunately, we didn't see the sign asking us not to feed them as it was a bit away from the path...shame as I had fun pulling up grass to give to the donkey.
And finally to see the bears. We only managed to spot one (Carmen I think) but I was happy to see that they have a rather large area to walk around in....they had been treated very cruelly where they were before so I hope they can recover at the zoo.
Again, I wish we had gone on a warmer day as it was freezing and my little one was not enjoying herself.
We left the zoo and went to the adjoining soft play centre Leaping Lemurs. There is a separate entrance fee for this with a discount for kids if you have zoo tickets. There is a very large indoor area with tunnels and slides and secret passages. Lots of seating around the centre (so no H&S concerns about parents walking around with hot drinks with kids running about!!). There is also an outside area with a giant pirate ship. As it was cold indoors was packed and we found a very cramped table under some slides. But once settled, it was great. Our kids ran around having fun. Sadly, this was their first meeting and they didn't play together but it was fine as there was plenty for them to do. I tried to have a go on some slides but my kid was having none of it. She was off and away by herself. Part of me worried as the place is huge but luckily, our girls had the sense to come to us if they  worried about anything.
The restaurant food is pretty much the standard fare at these places...I had a lovely cup of tea which is a blessing when it's so cold.
Conclusion: I enjoyed the zoo more than my kid but I put that down to the cold. It's a run down place, especially compared to e.g. London Zoo but the latter have more resources. I'd visit again. And we will definitely go back to the soft play especially with the mid week discounts.

The Scottish Owl Centre

I've been a bit rubbish at keeping this blog up to date. It was always meant to be a record of the places that we visited but writing posts takes me a lot of time. You wouldn't guess that from my appalling grammar would you?
In the last few weeks here are some of the things we have been up to. Each with a lovely post of it's own.

Sat 28th April: The Scottish Owl Centre at Polkemmet Park
If it had just been me and the little one, we would not have gone in as I felt the entrance fee of £7.50 for adults and £5.50 for kids aged 3-15 was extortionate, especially in the current recession. It was a cold day and it was going to take a lot to cheer me up. The first view is a large Owl shaped slide for kids which was quite impressive. However, we decided to walk around first. My daughter was not overly impressed with the birds. Don't get me wrong, they are magnificent looking but it's really sad seeing birds of prey caged up, in the cold, not moving, looking quite miserable. We were also taken aback by the dead chicks in the floors of some of the cages....I know the birds have to eat but we weren't expecting it.
There are quite a few owls but some of the cages were empty. There is an educational area which had some interesting facts and a few interactive things for tot but most of the displays were too high for her to look at so she got bored.
We hung around as we had booked to see a flying display at 3.30pm. This was a bit of a turning point for me...the man doing the displays was very entertaining even when 2 of the 3 birds refused to do much. It was also quite awesome to see these birds fly. Unfortunately, one of the owls was very scared of wheeled objects and was really scared of an old lady's wheeled walker. I wish that her companions had had the sense to put it outside to calm the bird down.
We left hoping to get a cake at the Ivory Tower Cakes tearoom directly opposite the entrance to the Owl Centre but guess what...they were shutting on a Saturday at 4pm. We went in and there were some yummy looking cakes on display which we said we would take away, but were told that they had been trying to shut for the last 10 minutes and wouldn't serve us. I find this sort of behaviour odd in a  recession - there are people who want your food, you are a food establishment but you turn them away. What are you going to do with the cakes? Sell them the next day ergo not so fresh.

Overall conclusion: Wish we had gone on a warm sunny day. There is enough to do in Polkemmet park that it would take a lot to convince me to visit the owls again but to see them fly is magnificent.