Thursday, 21 April 2011

Easter (the continutation )

As you may recall, I was giving you some suggestions as to what to do with small children should you find yourself responsible for them at any point of the Easter Celebrations (or in fact during the Royal Wedding - these ideas are for life, not just for Easter).

The first 5 are in my previous post (just in case you wonder why I start with a 6).


Well you've got to do it anyway so you may as well turn into the 'Trip of the Day' and upsell it. If your children are as erm 'uncontainable' as mine you may need to cage them within a trolley (or take leads) but this can prove a veritable adventure, especially if you arm them with a baguette each.

I would however warn against trying this in Sainsburys which it appears is where 'people go to lose their sense of humour' (or practice the dark art of 'the look'). When approached by a high speed trolley with two small boys wielding seeded batons and shrieking 'MACARONI MACARONI CHEESE PLEASE' (I have no idea why) they tend to wither and tutt.

For variation you can let the children hang off the sides of the trolley and pretend they are on the footplate commanding a steam train. However this will mean making regular stops for 'stations', refuelling and, inevitably, some kind of crash. It also means you can't get down aisles featuring cages, mobility buggies or more than small slim person with a basket but there's a price to pay for everything.

After all this (plus trying to get their small digits removed from the checkout conveyor belt) don't forget the fun of the car park! Hidden in all those there low shrubby bushes are boxes marked 'POISON!' together with a skull (or similar fearful image). Much time can be spent spotting poison boxes and, if you're really lucky, rats (dead or alive). I like to combine this activity with me sitting in the car, eating some sort of satisfying snack and reading Take a Break. But it's up to you.


Make the most of it while we haven't got a hosepipe ban (and I say this as somebody with an environmental/ecology type background who shudders at the waste of water - however this is yet another reminder of how far I've fallen since the days I became a mother....).

Just be careful of open windows, small caged pets and your neighbour's washing.

Actually that reminds me of something my brother and I did as small children, involving our hated neighbours and their upstairs bedroom window but I'd better stop there, what with my brother now being a man of senior responsibility in charge of the minds of a generation and all that....


My kids got this idea from a book about a guinea pig who saves the fate of dandelions by nurturing the last ever one and blowing it's 'clock' (that's clock) across the land.....

In reality dandelions do not appear to be in rapid decline. Especially in my garden. And the children are making sure they stay that way by devoting hours to picking them and blowing their seeds EVERYWHERE.

This idea has a clear and obvious downside but we'll worry about that another time.... Alternatively you get them to blow them elsewhere - like the sacred turf of somebody you don't really like that much.


For years I never had this opportunity and it was just me doing the holiday entertaining but if you have the chance to use others, particularly rather eccentric ones, DO. They let the children do things you'd never dream of and unless the kids dob them in you'll never know so hey, everyone's a winner!

However, mum, if you're reading this, the kids have told me everything so could you kind of lay off letting them eat raw cubes of jelly for their mid-morning snack, 'pretending' to drive the Land Rover (with keys in the ignition) and it's only one chocolate flake in a 99. Got it?


Nah not really. This is utterly banned in my house but as it's been banned since children began and I STILL seem to find myself with a sore throat from screeching 'NO NO NO NO NO, THAT'S IT, I'M GETTING MY BIN BAG....' maybe I should just give up, let them do it for hours on end and watch day time tele instead? After all, it's free....

So there we are. Don't say your stuck for ideas.

As for me. Well I'm off out with Badger Girl tonight to see a band... Not any old band. Not even a women with an accordian and a lament about dog piss. No - The Wurzels.

She's got us on the guest list courtesy of something to do with set related supply of straw.

Words already fail me and to add to the issues surrounding this event I tried to spray tan myself last night (because you know, it pays to be extra orange when going to see several pensionable men sing about their combine harvesters) and missed huge patches of my body. I look like a skewbald pony. I've tried to spray the white bits this morning but I have a feeling this is only going to add to my problems.....

I'll come back and let you know ALL about it.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Top 10 Things to do with your Kids this Easter!

Well we are in the midst of the Easter Holidays.

Which if you have small children probably means you have heard the words 'I'm bored' or 'where are we going?' more than once. Or twice. And it probably also means you are desperate to find things to do that don't cost the earth. Physically or emotionally.

You see you will find 'lifestyle magazines' and 'supplements' full of ideas about what to do with children this Easter (other than stick them in front of Scooby Doo with their own body weight of egg shaped chocolate) but many of these ideas involve rather too much emotional investment - i.e. they sound amazing, the stuff of fairytale childhoods and sepia tinged photo albums... You get all 'this is going to be amazing!' emotion and then get there to find 400 other people in the car park, spend 2 hours trying to interest them in lambs/wooden eggs/the story of how the donkey got his cross/tulips (whereas they're more interested in running round in circles very fast whilst asking questions about dog poo) and, finally, leave to the sound of a 10 minute tantrum because their Mr Whippy's only got one flake in it and they've seen one on the poster with two...

The bigger the sense of the anticipation, the harder the 'forward sell', the bigger the fall....

Well don't worry!

I am here to help.

Here are my top 10 Easter Activities to keep small children entertained (or at least relatively quiet) with minimal risk of you feeling emotionally disappointed. You might not be savoring the idea of any of these but that's the point - if you end up finding them even a tiny bit fun (or least 'restful') then you've only gained. It's a win win situation all round...


Find your local estate full of speed bumps, tell the kids your going to pretend the police our chasing you/pretend your chasing baddies (which ever side of the law they find most thrilling) and then see how quickly you can take the bumps (at an angle tends to work best). Obviously stay within the law. Those speed bumps were put there for a reason and you don't actually need to go very fast at all.

The obvious downsides to this are that it will knacker your suspension, tracking and bits might fall off the car but it's still cheaper than a day out at the local 'fun park' and there's no chance of being dragged through a Gift Shop. Also driving round certain estates again and again might get you noticed in all the wrong ways and your fantasy could very well turn into reality.... That and the price of petrol means this idea is not without it's downsides.

I should add to this that those of you with more dubious pelvic floors may need to take the necessary precautions.


Small boys in particular are fascinated by electricity, danger and barbed wire. This is your chance to give voice to all those Childhood Safety films you sat through at school (you know, like the one where the boy climbs up a pylon to get his frisby back and KAPOW.... nothing but smoke....or the one where grandad goes fishing and doesn't watch where the end of his rod is heading....), not to mention the warning posters that littered our youth.

Stand the children near the wire and terrify them with tales of an explosive nature. This will also stand them in good educational stead.

However if your kids, like mine, are very curious you might need to take a book out from the library about how the National Grid works as there are going to be a lot of questions you probably can't answer quite yet....

If you haven't got a sub-station to hand, you could opt for a Weir, level crossing or introduce them to the terrifying concept of rabies and spend the rest of the holidays trying to spot dogs that excessively drool (it's either that, nuclear war or the Colorado Beetle and I don't think todays kids are ready for THAT kind of terror).

3. B&Q (or other similar stores)

Small children are obsessed by toilets. Where could you possibly find more? And unused! Hours of fun pretending to do things.. (just make sure it IS only pretend). Plus wide aisles, power tools and those flat bed trolley things they can lie on while the other one crashes them into piles of compost. You can even pick up some bedding plants on the way out. Why pay more for Alton Towers?


Send them to search for something you know no longer exists with a prize for whoever finds it first....When, an hour of blessed peace later, they still haven't found it, console them and give them both a packet of crisps/small chocolate bar/whatever. I did this the other day with the pump we need for the paddling pool - even though I know it's a hundred miles away.

They need to learn at some point that you don't always find what you're looking for but hey, it's not the end of the world....


Many of these have outdoor play areas which you can indulge in freely as long as you stay away from the 'gift' area inside filled with Swarkovski Hedgehogs and porcelain puppies and the Cafe which will no doubt feature £7 jacket potatoes and a certain type of older person who can kill small children with a certain type of stare before writing to the Daily Express about the state of today's families and how it's all gone down hill since they had to start putting their rubbish in different coloured bins....

Well there's your first 5.

The rest comes tomorrow.....brace yourselves.....

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Fun at the, erm, Beach....

Ahh here we are again - the new dawn of Easter. A very fine time of year indeed.

Sorry for my rather scatty blogging of late - I have started yet another part-time job and have found myself so utterly exhausted by the end of the day that the thought of even plugging in the laptop (because of course it doesn't have a functioning battery...) is beyond me. So my life, workwise now looks something like this:

1. Main job - trying to stay sane whilst raising 2 boys (currently aged 3 and 6) and dealing with the daily insanity around me (and that's before we start on my mother and various others within my daily orbit).

2. Job that is actually a career and I love but doesn't pay me enough - Antenatal Teaching (basically trying to prepare people for the unpreparable without scaring them sh1tless....) Maybe I should just spend several hours drinking tea with them before directing them to this blog with the moto 'you are going to need to keep your sense of humour, or you will go mad'? Having said that I went mad twice despite keeping my sense of humour, so what do I know?

3. Part-time job - in the hospital doing admin stuff.

4. Other part-time job - for a charity doing, errr, admin stuff! If you need postcodes inputting - I'm your woman.....

Anyway this: a) doesn't leave much time for blogging let alone writing that damn book (or infact script for a sit-com which I'd secretly like to do...). b) confuses the Inland Revenue.


I have spent approximately an hour on the phone to them this morning, trying to stop them from taxing me like I'm an Investment Banker when I earn about the same amount of money per week as you'd pay for a round of drinks in Soho. It was a long and painful process and, as I have this old fashioned phone that's tied to a wall and doesn't let me move round the house, I firstly found this very hard on the bladder and secondly the kids had a field day....

The younger one covered his ENTIRE body (and I do mean entire, as in every single part of him...) in large green spots with a flipchart marker pen. He's still sporting them but they are at least fading. I am beyond being concerned by such minor matters these days. I just hope they fade by the time her returns to pre-school. Or starts big school for that matter.

He then covered the cat in Sudocream. You know that thick white paste intended for babies bums? The one that what with it being a barrier cream is waterproof..... Sigh.

What is more, knowing I was tied to a wall and really stressed, him and his brother kept coming in and whining and making unreasonable requests.

Man in tax office: Could you confirm your National Insurance Number?


Me: Just take some Hula Hoops out the cupboard

Man in tax office: Pardon?

Son 1: WHAT?

Me: Sorry, it.....



Man: Erm....

Me: It's JP....

Son 1: Where are they? WHERE ARE THEY!?

Me: IN THE TOILET (we have a large downstairs sort of ' utility room' and in there is a big storage cupboard where I keep the crisps - I don't actually feed my kids from the toilet bowl).

Man: Pardon?

Son 1: BUT I WANT AN EASTER NEST! I WANT AN EASTER NEST! I HAVEN'T HAD ONE ALL DAY (said in a way which indicates going 12 hours without an Easter Nest is somehow life threatening. Which I very much doubt it is).

Me: Sorry it's.....



And so on.

I finally finished this farce and decided to put the kids in the car and go to my mums. Basically so I could leave them in her loving care for 30 minutes and go for a run before I punched something.

Get to my mums.


'Yes?' (slightly concerned already).

'I think I'm going to have to impose a rule' (wowzers - my mum doesn't do rules. When my dad died she should have gone to live in a Peace Camp somewhere on Greenham Common instead of becoming lost in the world of SuDuko and trying to knit a jumper for my nephew - who, by the time it's finished, will have Graduated).

'Errr yes'.

'When the children take all the packets and jars out the cupboard to make freight trains, they can only take the sealed ones'.

'OK fine. Dare I ask why?'.

So she leads me through to the living room. And then asks me to look behind the television.


It appears the children have taken several dozen sachets of my dead father's Fybogel (if you don't know what Fybogel is you are lucky - it's a this weird gritty powder made from 'husks' - allegedly of old plant bits but probably from old people, and you put it in a drink so it makes this sort of 'gloop' and then you drink it. Its texture reminds me of something but I dare not say what. Anyway, it helps you go for a poo more easily. If you haven't tried it yet a) you're not missing much b) you're lucky c) I don't think it will ever catch on as part of a cocktail and d) if you get old it WILL come your way).

Anyway they'd raided deceased Grandad's Fybogel, opened the lot and used it to make a 'beach' behind the tele..... The 'beach' was littered with cod liver oil tablets ('golden eggs' apparently) and several thousand Hundreds and Thousands. There was also some white powder which I'm going to have to presume was Bicarbonate of Soda.

For once word's failed me. And they still do. But hey, at least they are forcing my mum to clean out the cupboards... Which as we all know is a very rare thing indeed.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Laugh and the World Laughs with You - but not if they're listening to songs about Asda

So Badger Girl (my friend...the one who gets me to remove dead badgers from her buildings, test her on the anatomy of stallions and runs a 'ladieswear shop' full of clothes that leave your bits highly vulnerable to changes in the weather) took me on a night out.

The conversation went something like this:

'There's a band playing in town and so many people have come in the shop and said they are great to jump around to so I reckon we should go!'.

'Err no offence but most of the people in your shop are either on drugs, have taken so many drugs they may as well still be on them or need to be on drugs'.

'Yeah but it'll be a laugh'.

'Oh go on then.....'

I should have known then and there things would not quite go as we both imagined.

I mean last time Badger Girl took me 'out for the night' we drove to some obscure seaside town to attend this 'amazing' clubnight she'd found out about.......Pulling up on a deserted strip of dimly lit scruffy seaside buildings amidst barren sand dunes, things didn't look all that much 'banging' or 'happening'. Pulling down my gladrags we made something of entrance into the 'multipurpose recreational use' building' where this supposed 'clubnight' was occurring.....

70 rheumy eyed pensioners raised their heads from their Bingo games and generous portions of 'chicken in a basket'. Confusion was rife.

Wrong night, wrong venue, probably the wrong town - we never did quite get to the bottom of that one.

Anyhow - I should have been wary.

So on Friday night I got dressed up and picked up my friend - who was kitted out in 3 foot long hair extensions, cherry red patent stack heeled boots and a white top slashed to the waist. She looked 'noticeable'.

We arrived at the 'venue' (you know what's coming here don't you? You know its not going to be good.......).

We stumbled up the stairs.

Past the stair-lift.


The stair-lift.

Past the table with an old man in a hat who was either meditating, taking a nap or had gone to meet The Reaper. Either way - he wasn't having a whole lot of fun.

We entered the room.

We were greeted by flashing strobe lights, pounding music and a throng of sweating pulsing humanity united in the rapturous appreciation of what music can do to your soul.

No. Not really.

We were greeted by a lot of people that's for sure but nobody was in any kind of rapturous state. Or in fact even moving much.

Some were sat on plastic garden chairs looking very serious. Some were sat on the floor, perhaps fondling someone else, perhaps swaying slightly but all the same looking very serious. Some were standing up BUT also looking very very serious.

People were wearing fleeces. Or political t-shirts. One lady had even kept her anorak on.

Badger Girl pushed past what appeared to a Geography Field Trip heading for Snowdonia, stumbled to the bar and ordered 2 bottles of WKD Blue.

People were staring. And I don't just mean giving us puzzled looks. I mean giving us looks that could easily turn lesser mortals to stone. I began to fear the door would be locked behind us and we'd be offered up to the Gods of Life is a Very Serious Business for typifying all that is wrong with today's world (i.e people are still having fun when there's so much wrong with it).

Nobody was moving very much so we tried to stand still and look serious and listen to the 'music'.

There was a lady on the stage in a leather corset and tights with hearts on (not to mention a tail) playing an accordion in the style of 'Theme Tune from 'Allo 'Allo' and 'singing' (but actually it was more like talking) over the top of the music.

She broke into her next number with the line:

'A munter fell in through the flaps'....

Badger Girl and I exchanged a shocked glance. Quickly followed by a screech of laughter.

'Did she just say 'munter'?'.

I nodded.

'A dog cocked it's leg and pissed on mine.....'.

'And the government is sh1t and we can't get out of it.....'.

By this point we had started to laugh deep and hard.

I mean that was the point surely? You can't start a song with the words 'munter' and 'flaps' and expect people NOT to laugh? Surely?

But nobody else was laughing.

Far from it.

Several pale reedy looking young men were looking SO serious that their eyes were almost shut, in a kind of devote meditation. It must be a terribly soulful and draining experience thinking very very hard about a dog pissing on your leg.

The more we tried to conceal our mirth the more it came shuddering out. Tears rolled down our cheeks. Hopefully others thought we were crying about the state of the government. But I doubt it.

It appears you can't act even a tiny bit happy during protest songs. Even ones about dog piss and munters.

The next song was something about politicians and bankers having too much money and deriding the fact that they never went to Primark or Poundland. There was then a repetitive line about Asda Smart Price Pasties.

And nobody was laughing.

Except us.

For the next number she announced it was one where 'we might want to get down on the floor'.

'Yay!' I shouted 'it's Oops Up Side Your Head!'

But it wasn't.

It was (and I wish in a way I was making this up but actually you couldn't) a song about the merits of growing vegetables which contained the line:

'And maybe if Hitler had spent more time manuring his leeks he wouldn't have killed 6 million Jews'.

Well there's something for the University Debating Society.

We got up again for the next song, which I'm glad about as it was about a man killing his wife and burying her under the patio and nobody realising because they were all too busy washing their net curtains and thinking he was a decent guy because he kept his car clean. This sounded more like a plot from Brookside eons ago than a radical new idea for a song but hey ho - by this time Badger Girl and I were daring eachother to shout 'Vote Tory!' just to get the rest of the crowd moving (even if it was towards us...... with bottles).

The show climaxed with a song which sounded exactly the same as all the others and (just for a change) centered around themes about how terrible the government is, how Bankers must die, how being poor isn't fun (really? Wow! I never figured that one out) and means you have to do things like catch the bus but at least it means you're not working for 'The Man' and something to do with being obese and documentary making (or maybe that was me just wishing I had a camera crew with me).

Never have I been so tempted to shout the words 'Blow your Whistles - we're going HARDCORE!'. Just to, you know, see what they did.....

At this point someone came up to me and told me they liked my handbag. So perhaps Capitalism isn't totally dead? Or perhaps they were being ironic.

The music then stopped and we were told CDs were available to purchase at the back of the room.

Nobody moved.

By this point I'd laughed so hard in a sort of 'internal trying to hold it in fashion' my hernia had popped out.

Yup that's right folks - like an old teddy bear that's been through the wash just too many times it appears my stuffing is starting to pop out through my seams.

Well I'm guessing it's a hernia, I haven't actually been to the doctors yet. Either that or it's the Alien getting ready for a sharp exit. Which would probably delight both my sons and provide a suitable playmate for the younger one but I've had my fill of sleepless nights so I'm hoping it's the first option and just a hernia.

The next band then came on and they were far far better (in a jump up and down and throw your arms around like a loon fashion) but my jumping was curtailed by a fear my guts would fall out.

'Urgh, I need a truss, and a sports bra' I moaned to Badger Girl (whilst musing that I clearly wasn't in the first flush of youth anymore - I can never remember wishing for supportive undergarments on a night out before. Another bridge crossed and all that.....).

'I've got a truss you can borrow!' she grinned.


'Yeah - I've got loads in the shop - lets go back and get you in one'.

'Err there not medical trusses are they? More like PVC fetishwear or kinky fancy dress outfits'.

'It'll do the same job! Hold your bits in! Come on....'.

'Thanks but I think I'll just dance slower'.

I really DON'T think the rest of the audience were ready for me to reappear dressed as a PVC ladybird.

And on that note, later in the year Badger Girl and I are off in her camper van to a 3 day festival.

She's already booked her hair extensions and spray tan.

I don't think this is going to be your typical festival experiences but I'm sure it'll be highly entertaining...... I might need that truss after all.