Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Vintage housekeeping and home schooling equates to very strong Christian beliefs.

Oh gosh, or golly golly gosh! Have just realised that people who call themselves vintage whatever; schoolgirls, housekeepers, parents etc mean they are Very Christian and probably would hate me.

I thought vintage was more about having a lot of old bits, or lots of pretend old bits a.k.a. Cath Kidson. But this is not the case, I think it may actually be a belief that a woman's lot is housekeeping and homemaking and child rearing so that they should not work, or go to school, or have any more fun than doing crafts and talking to other women.

See also home schooling, and possibly extended breastfeeding, because what other better way to control women than to control their boobs! Although do think this might be extending argument quite far. Had thought that home schooling was about belief in loveliness of the world, wanting children to grow up free of pointless authority, and political ideology, oh and a belief in the whole child education. (n.b. note to Harriet - fantastic idea for your dissertation religious thought as related to child centred education...).

Anyway am now disillusioned with whole world, and prefer conventional to unconventional, if unconventional is Radical Christianity. Can I start an AntiChrist Craft Group please? Where are all the non believers these days? Have people dropped Atheism along with the Labour party?

Cutesy Kitsch Rubbish

Can get too much, fills holes of house with clutter, can turn from cute to twee and I'm sick of it.

From now on my new style is modernist, sort of 90's habitat, all good edges, some soft lines on sofa's, and greys and pale pinks. I will no longer covert the tat that I don't have, but in true 90's style will get a new career, earn lots of money, and then put all my new purchases on credit card. I shall not pay these cards off in a timely manner because I will be too busy taking little weekend breaks to new 'happening' cities like Prague and Seville, and possibly even Marrakesh. I may actually purchase a little house in the souk in Marrakesh on my credit card, and do it up by employing reliable colourful locals, and fill it with authentic blue coloured Moroccan 'finds'.

Or, alternatively, I might just go to bed early with a new book, come down in the morning, bored with my unstylish house, and knit some things to jazz it up a bit.

Style ideas anyone?

Monday, 29 September 2008

I want one of these, oh and a cute baby to play with it..

Heal's Christmas catalogue is now out, and cunning people sent it to me in the post. Don't they know its credit crunch/credit all gone in my house time.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Nothing to say

I enjoy a good chat wherever I am, and whatever I'm doing (well except to drunken men on buses) but am just too tired to chat this evening. Must go and lie in a sort of coma on sofa for next three hours, until sun is over yard arm and could be revived with a lovely gin and tonic.
Can't wait for the revival.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

I'm in 1992

I've been transported back to 1992, I'm a size ten and work in a big bookshop called Dillons in Watford Town Centre. My hair is sort of longish brown, and I wear it tied up with my bookish glasses. Sometimes I leave my glasses off to look more attractive, but struggle to recognise people without them.

I arrive at Dillons aged 19 after one year at Uni, which was just too much, too young for me, and a couple of months as a pizza restaurant waitress where I became a little manically obsessed about serving customers quickly, and thus probably was quite annoying to work with. I took a Christmas job at Dillons- ended up staying for two years, and wore my striped uniform shirt, undone over a long sleeved t-shirt. I can't remember what trousers I used to wear then, although I know I was over hot pants but not totally over shorts.

I worked at on the first floor at the back of the shop, with a man called Chris, who was the supervisor. He used to wear red jumpers and smoke matching red Marlboro's. There was Tim Cater, and Caroline, both Uni graduates passing time in the shop.

At the top of the stairs there were sections about flower decorating and cooking. A grown up lady called Caroline was in charge of these, and was very, um accessorised. She worked with a cheerful young man called Luke, who was I think the supervisor.

The staff downstairs seemed to change more frequently, but Craig, the floor manager was always there, as was Tanya, his deputy (or was it the other way around). Tanya used to brush her hair every break time, and was the first woman I'd ever met who did not use hair products or was styled. She was possibly a kind of hippie being from Australia, and once said she thought incest between twins was probably acceptable. I am still shocked by this statement 16 years later.

I fell in love with Nick from downstairs, over Spitting Image puppets in the window. He broke my heart by sleeping with a cocktail waitress in America. I never forgave him.

Later, I got back with my crazy first year at Uni boyfriend and got caught snogging him outside the shop once when I was supposed to be already at work. That was the day that one side of my face rose up in high red weals. After being sent home on the bus, I visited the doctor, who diagnosed flea bites from sleeping on the dog's cushion.

1992 - with lunch from bhs, cigarettes on the bench, beer after work, purple DM's, opaque tights, The Guardian and New Statesman and Society, the Diceman, 1984 and CND Christmas cards.

What a blast - and hello to Luke, from that time who I have just unexpectedly bumped in to miles from Watford in our local nursery.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

How lovely!

I'm delighted with the gorgeous basket of goodies from our new lovely boy students. It had many ribbons on, and was so well put together. Must ask who made it; one of their lovely parents or a shop!
Definitely worth ironing the pillowcases for!

Monday, 22 September 2008

Home to Task Central

Just back from a lovely weekend in Swindon, spent the journey home on the M4 pondering whether there are any poor areas along the corridor. The whole area seems so affluent now, and full of shiny cars (thanks to Honda/Toyota I guess). Made the evil keyed bit of my car look slightly, well terrible. Suspect police would stop us in Swindon if had a chance for having most rubbish car. We got stopped near Swindon once before about, well ten years ago now in our £200 Ford Fiesta, or Phil, as we called him. Apparently it was because they needed £20 from me for not wearing my seat belt. I think it was just because our car was scruffy. And we'd even been to Waitrose beforehand, so were most definitely proper. I think we even had jobs, although we were living the dream in Hackney at the time.

This time however, nothing happened, we had a nice quiet journey home, then got back and remembered. The house is dirty and smells like a dog (sorry Daisy, not your fault mine for being rubbish scaredy cat owner and not bathing you yet). And washing needed doing. And don't even start me on changing sheets, or emptying bins.

So have taken lovely M to work as bus mysteriously did not arrive, Ol for his first proper day to school today, had a little emotional moment at the gate when I forgot to leave, then off to the supermarket for a budget weekly shop, then home to wash up, dry up, tidy up, put clothes on line, empty bins, open curtains (yes this is a job for me!), feed Daisy, take glasses downstairs from bedrooms and wipe J's nose twenty times. Now have decided to sit down and write about next jobs this morning. Which are;

  • Walk the dog - would be fun but have to take 3 year old who is hungry all the time, and has a cold with me...oh and who just wants a cuddle.

  • Take the washing off the line, and put more on.

  • Vacuum where dirt is obvious, yes I am a household slut

  • Mop, just got to be done today, must make 3 year old and dog sit on chairs and not move while I do it, or play in garden or sit on table. Don't care - as long as no welly/paw marks on floor.

  • Dust spare room and put sheets on bed for new students coming tonight.

  • Make dinner for six people including students

  • Email Defra with flight for Daisy Dog....

  • Buy more washing powder

  • Unpack bag from weekend

  • Make meal plan for the week - boring, boring, boring. Do have coconut milk for yummy Thai curry though - might try tofu this time.

Any get rich/get cleaner quick tips appreciated!

Friday, 19 September 2008

What shall I make next?

This is, of course, why I'm not one of those gorgeous bloggers with pastel blogs full of beauty and style. I'm at a making crisis. I think I have temporarily given up writing for a living, suspect am not actually any better than anyone else who can string a couple of words together, and also don't know about anything much to write about. Wish I was actually an expert in something, like my friend Sam, who's am expert at printing and photography, and so is an author of books about those. All I know is about how silly I can be, and how to write the odd boring strategy etc.

So, have decided to seriously give making things for a living a serious go. Sadly am always reminded by fair trade ideas, and of the women in villages abroad who struggle to get a decent price for their home sewn/knitted garments. It's kind of the same here - if you break down making stuff in to per hour and money earned its very disheartening. Still I do enjoy making stuff, and am most definitely having crisis of confidence about being able to do anything else (weave baskets perhaps?) so will give it a go.

This brings me to my making choices this week -
  • Knitted stripy legwarmers for babies - that work as little leggings whilst nappy changing, and also as protection whilst crawling. There are over 130 pages of these on etsy. Can't decide if that is good or bad but do know I felt bad for Ol when he was learning to crawl on our wooden floors so would have bought some myself had I known they existed.

  • Grown up leg warmers - I have two pairs of these myself and love love love them. I have to admit to not wearing them out, especially not round and about the Old Town, as would be in danger of looking rather like a lady wot lunches who wears Crocs. But...they are great, cute, warm, and mean can wear a skirt in the evenings and not freeze, plus go with Birkies or flip flops.

  • Knitted wrist bands, decorated with beads and buttons. I have a gorgeous vision of how lovely these could be, a real everyday, practical sort of jewellery. These would look great in the winter, and have the added bonus of keeping one warm. Just need to create the lovely things! Well I've made a couple, one on etsy, and some for the kids but these are more wrist bands, less decorated at this stage.

  • Oh, and of course in a couple of months will do some Christmas wreaths, had loads of fun making these last year and looking forward to doing the same again. Very tempted to add my little pony and other various plastic toys I love to these.

Any thoughts? Or should I just, as my friend N said, just go back to bloody work.

(can't can't can't)

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

The vets are lovely, and it is nearly time to say goodbye to the dog

Just back from a visit to the lovely vet clinic. It's a gorgeous sort of triangle shaped lodge with a wooden roof, set back from the road in some woodland. I love it there. The people are friendly, the dogs are happy, and the pet toys look so much fun.

Daisy the dog, who's visiting while she's sorting out her pet passport did not even cry when the vet took a blood sample. She did seem a little keen to get out the examining room though. It has been absolutely delightful to have Daisy for three weeks now, she's funny, playful, affectionate and just well lovely to have about. We'll be really sad to see her go.

I have learnt from my time as a puppy owner though;
  • I've learnt that it is no fun walking a dog and pushing a buggy
  • That dogs will eat anything they find apart from raw vegetables that get dropped by accident.
  • Dogs, particularly puppies are almost as hard work as having a toddler, think the grabbing, random chewing anything, weeing everywhere stage.
  • I'm proud of my surrogate dog daughter for becoming a woman now.
  • Children are more troublesome for dogs than vice versa. Nice dogs that is, even nice children are troublesome for dogs.
  • They get through loads and loads of food, almost unbelievable how much.
  • They love to play, and I love to play with them.
  • We will have a dog, but not right now - too expensive to keep, and need to ditch the buggy first. Not sure what age can actually bin the thing as will be doing Killer Hill walk two times a day from tomorrow.

Other most important thing consuming my thoughts at the moment, is lovely Ol starting school tomorrow. I love his school, his teacher is exactly how I'd want my Reception teacher, the children are fantastic, and the playground. But...they want him there all day, and for years!

I'm missing his cheery little skips already, and constant conversations that start with; 'One day, can I (insert have certain toy or watch violence like Tom and Jerry)'.

Good luck Ol, I know you'll do great and be great, and wish I could spy on you from the classroom wall. And yes, I know I'll still see him before and after school and every holiday but he's growing up, and away slowly. Changes.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Plastic People in Ice Worked Well

Just a quick note to self to say that the plastic funny bones people worked very well in ice, and were exceptionally cute. Tried to take a photo of them but children had already bashed them to pieces.

Also confused as to how I manage to befuddle parents of children's friends so much that every year since we've lived here one child arrives all excited, with a present, and a party outfit on. On the wrong day! Last year was worse as I blurted out; 'But its not today', in front of lovely sensitive child who had to be cheered up by making marzipan Sonic hedgehogs. This year I managed to express confusion subtly to the mummy whilst letting the children play together. I'm imagining visiting children understood somehow they had missed the party, but took it on the chin. Either that or they thought son had no other friends, and a mean mother who did not even bake a cake.

Not sure if it is me as did send invitations out both times, or just that I talk too much when I do see people so therefore add new days in their heads. Don't think this happens to the Queen at her parties.

Friday, 12 September 2008


I just can't get it together this morning, have accidentally invited 19 children to Ol's fifth birthday party tomorrow. Think it was to over compensate for him not yet starting school so invited my friends and their children, and some of his friends from nursery who I don't know. Now having grubby house, no food made, monster cake to invent, cakes to play, children to entertain, adults to squeeze in, and what to do with Daisy Dog dilemma.

Had a brainwave of game, well read it in a book, to fill little milk cartons with plaster of paris, drop small plastic monster toys in, harden, and then let children be archaeologists and free monsters with some basic tools. Even collected milk cartons, but did not buy plaster of paris. Then started to worry they would attack each other with basic tools, and walk plaster in to only bit of carpet we had, dog would eat it, oh and it would be all bad.

Harriet has come up with a new plan though, freezing water, apparently this was part of a school science lesson she once did, children had to work out the quickest way to get toys out. So now all I have to do is sort out the freezer, find some toys, cut tops of cartons, um, clean them and well, it should work.

Trouble is I've become a little obsessed with Thai green curry, and can only think about next time I can have it, and if there is an alternative to coconut cream, that is the same but lower in fat. We had it for tea again last night, and really fancy it again tonight, oh and as party food.

Last party we hosted, Jem's for some reason all food was brown and beige and hence did not look very exciting. Am determined not to make that same mistake again, but to make food healthy and deletable looking. Must buy colourful fruit. Do have smarties biscuits so that is all good.

Also had fantastic idea of making lemonade ice lollies and freezing sweets in them, but simply have not got 20 lolly holders, or room in freezer, or in fact any lemonade, so am amazing mother in head only.

Reality will be a couple of marmite sandwiches and some bread sticks. Looking forward to it?

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

This town...

I want to start with the positive and the wonderful. This town is great, its fun, welcoming and wonderfully quirky. All the students we've had staying with us have had a lovely time in Hastings. They've explored the beach, the town, the Smugglers Caves and the shopping. I've struggled to explain request stops on buses so have suggested the students ask the drivers who are always helpful, or any older ladies they see. Both the bus drivers and older ladies have been great and have helped them no end. One of our longer staying Italian students said she adored how friendly people were, and how much she wished her home town was so nice. One couple of girls even got a lift home from a 'Mrs' who helped them when they were lost. Of course not advisable to get in strangers cars but thank you so much to the lady who helped them!

It has been a tough couple of weeks for Hastings, Mohammed, who was a student staying here for the summer has died following a racist attack. The police are still investigating exactly how he died, whether he fell on the pavement or was punched. The three young men originally arrested have now been released on bail, and his family have visited the town.

Hastings hit the headlines across the country, and particularly the tabloids for being, well a racist and bad town. Locals are sad about both the incident and the news reporting, and we're all talking about it.

I've been quite overwhelmed by my own feelings about the death of Mohammed, both sickened at the attack and desperately saddened by a town which could allow it at the same time. We've been hosting foreign students all summer, from across the world and from varying countries and ages. We've heard about a number of low level incidents of harassment against students this year; local teenagers shouting at them on the beach; being continually asked for cigarettes, and a German couple being punched in the park at five in the afternoon. All really worrying, and more worrying that although the police were notified of at least the latter as far as I know there hasn't been a strategy to manage these incidents, or even a way to report them.

I'm reminded by the student and gay bashings that took place in Plymouth whilst I was a student there, lots of low level incidents such as bus drivers speeding up to pretend to run over the students whilst they crossed the road outside the Uni, to verbal harassment outside the gay club. Finally there was a more serious assault, which shocked the town. The police and local voluntary sector organisations/clubs then worked together to have a zero harassment policy.

This meant arrests for some of the (local) teenagers involved, and also education for the communities. For us students, it meant being careful, which of course you could argue we should not have to be, but on a pragmatic note better walking home in a group than in hospital, or spending the £2.50 on a cab. The gay community also made some changes, such as keeping watch outside the club, and calling police to disperse/arrest any problematic people. Again, should not have to happen, but thank goodness they did.

So what can we do in Hastings to make our town a better and safer place? There has got to be a strategy; dramatic improvements in education for younger people (all in hand so I understand if that is possible), improvements for career opportunities for our younger people, a zero tolerance policy to harassment, more for foreign students and local young people to do in the evenings, as host families we need to make sure our students are safe, home at reasonable hours and not wandering the streets. Of course Mohammed was safe inside the kebab shop/disco until this incident occured, not wandering about, but he was 16 years old and out at midnight. I'm not sure how many of us are comfortable with that.

Finally, there is poverty, which takes us back to life chances and career opportunities. This town is on the up, and we need to make sure we all take it there. We need to support local enterprise, and better rail links so people can travel to work easily. We need to work together, with support and money for all the neighbourhoods to they are happy and safe places.

And finally, the vast vast majority of Hastings residents need to stand up and say we're alright, we don't support violence and we will not tolerate it. We welcome visitors with open arms from all parts of the world and will continue to do so.

Monday, 8 September 2008

The difference between relaxed and sloppy parenting

As I write this my children are jumping around in their playroom to the Time Warp, loudly, whilst playing Playstation and entertaining some foreign students. One is still in their pyjamas and neither has washed their face.

It's very loud, I've heard a negotiation involving turn the music down, mummy doesn't like it that loud, which seemed to end in a loud compromise and laughing. And at the same time, I'm checking my bank balance in semi peace, well of course I can hear the shrieks and music, and drinking a lovely cup of coffee.

This must be relaxed parenting. I'm sure the sloppy kind is when they are actually arguing, or if I've given them sweets to keep them quiet whilst I chat with my friends, or on the phone. Can't remember doing that since the heady days of learning to manage with two little ones.

And what is the right time to get dressed? I know lovely husband thinks its in the morning, and can't help think he's right. But apart from gas men, and post men and other people who call at the house when we are unaware why does it matter? Does it matter? Are there certain standards we must keep to or have our neighbours twitching their curtains?

I have to admit to being worried that the 82 year old lady next door, who is always immaculately dressed, and hopping in to town and so on, will lift an eyebrow if I put the washing out in my pyjamas. She does have washing line respect for us though, no longer do we copy her when to put washing out, she has admitted she copies us since we discovered the met office on line. Weather kudos! Have to admit I thought she used to have a sort of spooky insight to the weather from a kind of elder's experience. However, think she actually used to just watch Kaddy, on BBC1.

Now off to get children dressed, lest we bump in to any teachers' on the way to buy sweets....

Friday, 5 September 2008

In thinking about in the night garden

I actually really love it, if you haven't seen it, try and catch it, its a BBC programme aimed at very little ones, with some sort of cloth people, some ding ding music, gorgeous park scenery, and weird things in.

It's absolutely what the BBC do best; delightful, slightly aimless, but very comforting programmes to be watched snuggled up on the sofa on a rainy day. I am more than a little confused by why Macca Pacca is so much smaller than Upsy Daisy and Higgle Piggle. Ol says its so he can fit in to his small house under a bridge. Which, may well be the case, I guess people/magical night time characters might grow as big as their surroundings.

Am very much enjoying new ban on advert telly in our house, it means we're stuck with much gentler television programmes, and no talk of I want, I want, well not as much as before anyway. Suddenly have a new found respect for my parents' decision to ban ITV, Grange Hill, most definitely anything hideous like Benny Hill or Carry On films and make us choose one programme a day to watch, with Newsround being a free choice.

It really did make me read, write, draw, lie on my bed, walk the dog then latterly smoke fags, and meet boys. Still a proper country lifestyle minus the horses. Dad never let me have stilettos either as he said they were only for people in towns. Still not quite sure what that meant.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

First Blood

Daisy Dog, our month long puppy visitor had just become a woman, and boy, do we know it! She is sleepier than normal, would like to say hormonal but her moods are so delightful constantly don't think that is the case...but she is bleeding. Everywhere.

We've banned her from sofa's and chairs but the naughty thing sneaks up on them when we are out of the room. That is, when she is not in her preferred bed; the cat's. We tried shutting the living room door at night but she cried all night and so loudly our neighbour came over to complain.

So now we're living in a strange situation with horrible old covers, that can be washed all over the furniture, and having to wash them every day, plus clean the floor, coffee table (don't ask!), and occasionally cushions. I'm sort of proud of Daisy Dog for becoming a woman, but at the same time a little grumpy about the work, which is, I know, very mean of me, so this is a call for help.

Does anyone have an answer? That is apart from putting a reusable nappy on her! Thanks for that N, but I just can't!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Normal Service is Resumed

Autumn is here, the leaves have been falling off the trees for a couple of weeks, the countryside is fading from bright green to a dull yellow green and school is starting. For the second year running now I don't have a new autumnal challenge, other than those I set myself. No new woolly tights from Marks and Spencer's, no new pencil cases, I did buy a gorgeous new set of felt tips that I've banned the children from though, no new bag or boots though.

I am getting excited about the autumn though, I love new starts, and new seasons, and on a shallow note can't wait to wear boots again. Especially now as my beloved flip flops flopped my foot over last week and are now out of action. The flip flops that is not my foot, that still works, although will need to find some autumnal nail varnish colours.

So, on record here are the new starts for this autumn;

  • Ol starts school full time, with proper shoes and uniform and new friends and everything.
  • Jem starts nursery properly, with four mornings a week, again new uniform (well slightly handed me down).
  • I am officially a stay at home mummy, especially with children starting/doing educational activities outside the home.
  • I will officially no longer 'let myself go'. This means a reduction in lager, an increase in Mac powder, more wearing of tights and skirts, and a massive reduction in cheese/biscuits/bread intake by me. I also intend to get regular hair dyes and cuts, brush my hair, and look in the mirror more often and most importantly to always get dressed by hmm, what's manageable, lets say nine a.m.
  • Making and writing will be my new cheese and bread and I'll continue to craft and create and update my etsy and new folksy shops...http://www.folksy.com/shops/tattyhousehastings

So there we have it, normal service is resumed, almost, and I just want to note how absolutely delighted I am about Baby T's birth to N and G. Well done you two! And thank goodness you didn't attempt a natural birth at 9lb2oz N!