Thursday, 29 January 2009

Lovely Looe

I was reminded yesterday just how lovely Looe really is, and how much I love that part of Cornwall.

So much so that I must write my three favourite things that happened there:

  1. We got Andrew, the big penguin, who in a terribly nerdy sort of way now I think of it, was our kind of cool mascot/friend of a stuffed toy. About ten of us from Uni (yes, we skipped classes again I expect) nipped to Looe on a day trip. We put loads of money in the grabby machines and swopped ten tiny teddies for one giant Andrew. He even came ice skating with us, and is technically still on shared ownership. George - my turn!
  2. Once I went in to a pasty shop, and asked for a vegetarian pasty. They said; ' You're not from round 'ere are you?'. Luckily, I cleverly replied I was from Plymouth (rather than the snobby South East) and they told me they'd have some Tuesday week.
  3. My boyfriend at the time, and his friend motorbiked to Looe and went in to a pub. They were carrying bike helmets. The owner rushed up to them and said; 'We don't want your types in 'ere.' So they went home.

Also we bought baby Ol his first pasty in Polperro, and he sicked it up in his car seat.

Still love it though.

Fish faces

I tried to eat fish again, but it made me feel really sick. I thought I'd eat it for health reasons; i.e. it'd help me lost weight to make me fit and healthy. But its grim. I just can't do it.
Roll on Amazon with the Veggie low carb diet cookbook.


I've spent the week having conversation about who we are and who we were with my friends. I've yet to meet one who is happy to say I'm a housewife/mum to so and so/lady who lunches etc without a wince and a sense of irony.

Somehow we all want to talk about what we were, what we did, and how we got here. It's as if as soon as you have children, and mostly spend your time looking after children, that becomes your identity. You're no longer daughter, but mother to the grandchildren. You're no longer Ms or Mr Artist/Professional/Quirky etc.

Maybe it is because nearly everyone defines themselves by their job. And when you don't have a paid job anymore, that definition goes. Of course I'm the first the admit I hated my job at times, adored it at others, but wouldn't have done anything else - though possibly in a different location.

I wouldn't even go as far as to say we're struggling with the concept that we look after children, primarily, because somewhere we all believe that its the right thing to do. Or we wouldn't be doing it. But the names for what we do are simply rubbish. Housewife is a real 1950's concept, and ok, may well define what we do (checking out bargains, preparing dinner, cleaning the home and so on) but its so old fashioned. And anyway what if you are not married, as many of us aren't in 2009?

There's homemaker - which if I'm honest I quite like, except it doesn't roll of the tongue and makes me feel like I would spend all my time plumping cushions, and making quilts. Not doing bloody washing, and cleaning, and fetching children.

Course most people say stay at home mum/dad nowadays - but even then that implies all you do is the childcare bit. Not the managing home/family/pets type scenario.

And are we proud of any of these titles? They don't give a clear identity; you don't get a grip of who someone might be/where they came from/how hard they worked to get where they are to be these.

So - what do us stay at home people do? Carry on giving people an hour lecture on who we are and what we do when they make the mistake of politely enquiring what we do for a living. Or give up, and just know inside we were once made for more. (N.b. and that isn't to say being parents doesn't mean you don't use your brain, but really you don't)

Makes you think siphoning some children off in to domestic studies makes sense after all. No point educating people to sit at home worrying about how to get jam off the sofa after all is there?

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

The danger of being a stay at home parent

..., apart from drinking too much coffee is getting involved in too many voluntary activities.

I agreed to be secretary of the nursery committee back in September time. The plan was I'd just take a few notes once a term. I did try and warn the joint treasurer's that their job would be far far harder. And it is, they've done a sterling job of setting up a system, budget and forecasting.

But all the roles are a little more than we think, we're actually trustees, we are accountable and we cannot run away if it gets a little tricky. I think we'd all like to but are committed to staying the course this year. Then running off as our youngest children hit school.

But then, we have to join the PTA. Of course, we don't have to, but as a stay at home mum, what excuse have you got not to help? And that's also more work than you think...meetings, baking, making elves and buzzing games. Not to mention generally helping and being nice. N.b. being nice is most certainly an effort, particularly for unsociable people like me, who now have to Be Nice at least twice a day, and very very Nice at School Concerts and dare I mention church carol events.

Then there is the Governor pressure, resisted by many. But someones got to do it. Not me though this time.

Plus, I seem to think I have time for voluntary work at a local arts centre/shop. Again, in theory its easy to pop in now and then. But what about sickness, and parties, and shopping (food not Bluewater). I've been doing all three things now for, well at least September and getting, on occasion very very stressed by them.

Of course maybe its just me, maybe Nice People can have a number of Roles and manage without almost losing the plot, and thinking they Have To Do It All. I'm not so sure though.

That, and keeping up with children's, family, friends birthdays, oh and making time to see distant family and friends, and um, just generally having a non-health hazard home. Plus, seeing friends, arranging children's social lives and activities, arranging family activities and just trying to spend time together.

It's no wonder I lost the plot about work, and have slipped with my ironing.

Must do less.

Must get routine together.

Must drink less coffee.

Or am I just a typical middle class moaner (albeit a poor one)?

Monday, 26 January 2009

The error of my ways

I decided to adapt a knitting pattern, from the Usbourne (Childrens) Book of Knitting for my five year old. Last time I knitted a hat from the same book for the 3 year old it came out my size. So this time I halved all the instructions. Clearly this isn't how you do it.
Children quite pleased that I'm knitting for their toys though. Have lost a teeny bit of knitting guru/magic with them though!
(n.b. I do know about tension squares just don't have the patience for them).

Going to bed early is the new Rock and Roll

It was like visiting a hotel last night, we went to bed early and watched TV in bed. Total luxury and the going to sleep early bit meant I'm (almost) full of the joys of spring this morning.

I say almost because of course I did not jump out of bed with the alarm clock, but I'm up, having coffee, two out of three of us are ready for the day. The third one, Ol is still messing about getting dressed - it's only been an hour so far and I still haven't shouted at him. Will have to soon though 'cos can't be late for school due to son spending over thirty minutes choosing his socks.

I think Americans (confirm please any reading Americans?) tend to go to bed earlier and at least in my head, drink less, and feel wonderful in the morning? Is this the case? I think I read it in a novel sometime, but it also described how American mommy look is lots of make up with fitness wear. Which may be right but is opposite to our look here; which is I guess a little dressier generally with subtle make up. However I am feeling very American mommy - ish today, although not a pig in a suit (hardly!) but more a Desperate Housewife. Sort of like Gabriella when she lost her way and gained a bit too much weight. We have 'knit' (inverted commas to denote and recognise that more drinking and talking takes place than knitting) nights here, they have card nights. And I do love my neighbourhood too.

Anyway I don't care about make up or clothes today, or even my hypothetical white picket fence falling down. I feel great. And have lost ten pounds all together now!!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Banning Carbohydrates for one of us,and frugal living

Amazingly my new low carb diet has not seem to have cost very much money, apart from the initial outlay in vitamins and super vitamin chromium (apparently burns fat! - can if be true?). I've been doing our shopping for the past 3 weeks from Asda home deliveries. It's been costing me just over £50 a week, which for four of us is fantastic. I do have to buy the odd thing during the week, but usually just a little milk and fruit.

Plus, for those doubters out there - it is all good quality, I am most certainly as guilty as most people for being a food snob, and have been know to refuse to eat anything I think is from a questionable source (shop across the road from us in London in particular). OK, it is not Waitrose or Marks and Spencers' - you have to do the work making the basics in to something yummy - it doesn't already appear looking appealing. But am fairly pleased with it all, and with basing meals around protein, at least for me.

And the amazing diet news is that I've lost 8lb's in one week, which I'm really pleased with. The weird thing is I had lost it a couple of days ago and now stalled. Suspect the stall is down to the accidental wine drinking which occurred on Thursday night. I am not regretting the wine - as I needed it. It cured my monstrous detox headache (yes I know) and it cheered me up no end.

Still I won't be having wine this week - too excited about rapid weight loss to bother.

Any low carb but high protein tips for breakfast would be appreciated though - eggs are losing their appeal, and of course I don't eat meat so running out of options...

Friday, 23 January 2009

Full frontal snogging

Have you seen it yet? Angus, thongs and full frontal snogging that is?

It's absolutely great - lovely acting, good old fashioned romantic storyline and a dollop of nostalgia (for those of us over thirty or something). For teens I suspect its normal life. It does have Mr Floppy Hair in - Alan Davies but he is very funny, honest!

The author; Louise Rennison is very successful in writing for teenage girls, today's Judy Blume or Sweet Valley High but even better because she's English. I'm quite jealous because we did not have an English humourous take on our teenage lives when we were that age. Although I did manage to develop a substantial addiction to Sweet Valley books, which were utter trash. A sort of Mills and Boon for teenagers.

I went directly from Sweet Valley romance books to feminist books. With nothing in between. Then fairly long phase of only reading Virago or even better Women's Press books, and refusing to read books by men. Course this was a teenage phase, but I suspect a direct result of having too much slush romance at an early age. If I'd had decent funny English teenage fiction that did not make girls out to be vacant nail polish addicts my teenage reading could well have been different. It even made me unable to study English A level because our first book was The Color Purple and I loved it so much I just could not bring myself to analyse it.

But back to Louise Rennison; she's great. And the film is even better. For Sussex people it has the additional treat of being filmed in Eastbourne. And it really does make you fancy going there; oh and snogging a few nice organic boys.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

They are bigger now....

Starting to get all nostalgic for this phase, which really really does not last long enough. Ol's all big now, and quite grown up. He even asked me to leave school this morning as he was concerned I'd follow him in his class room and give him a big cuddle.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

News Flash

Curry's actually very nice without rice or naan. Just with yoghurt.

Course I'm using my friend Ang's curry recipe - basically use a jar of Patak's paste, fry onions, add paste, add tomato's, vegetables etc and some water. And you have a curry as yummy as some take away versions (does not compete obviously with best curries in world) - or Star of India in Leytonstone/East End generally. But its lovely, and much better than my previous ten years or so of cooking curry from spices.

Low carb eating is actually not that hard, breakfast still a bit of a challenge. Considered kippers but Ol talked for such a long time (is he my veggie conscience?) about their backbones/eyes etc last time he saw one I still feel ill/bad.

Course I also have a headache, and had such a craving for sugar/chocolate at about half three I had to rapidly eat half a packet of peanuts (I know - saturated fat!). I did do something sensible today and speak to a lovely nurse about the diet. She approved, with a warning to just drink enough water.

I've also 'invented' - ok, think I read it somewhere a new snack of a piece of celery spread with peanut butter. Very nice. Not pizza, but still nice.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

It is Day Four on the Idiot Proof Plan

I've successfully reached Day Four of my new diet. I'm doing the India and Nerys' Idiot Proof Diet, which in itself is similar to the Zone, and the Atkins, i.e. low carbohydrate.

It's remarkably easy to do - although hard to see how it will work. As a vegetarian in particular, and not eating beans at this stage of the diet its hard finding enough protein. So I have eaten lots of cheese, and some quorn, tofu, eggs and um, cream. The principle is that you need to eat good fat to lose fat. I understand this, but am struggling to incorporate saturated fat in to my good fat equation - like cream and butter.

But I trust in the diet so will continue. Breakfast is particularly hard though as I'm not eating any carbs, milk, fruit or yogurt at the moment. I had a boiled egg today, but strangely peanut butter and wholesome peanut butter yesterday.

Of course I haven't completely given up coffee, in the diet it must be decaff - but have decided to just reduce intake ( a bit). Again with booze, supposed to detox completely at the start, but have cheated with couple of glasses. Being very strict with other sugar though.

According to the diet I will feel pants tomorrow, unless little amendments to diets will sort me out, so steeling myself for that. I'm just writing down notes for nursery tomorrow so not a busy day.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Was going to blog about new diet...

But I'm still a bit freaked out by the pole dancing people turning against me, p'raps this is what it feels like to be Diana (of X-factor) with her hand.

Anyway - both diet and pole dancing flaming making me feel a bit sick today.

Hopefully back on form later in the week.

Strong Views and Anonymity

Blimey, I had no idea people were so keen on pole dancing in all its forms, so keen in fact they'd like to be quite, well rude to be for disagreeing with them on the value of council funded and publicised sessions.

If I am honest I'm now a bit freaked out by the ruder people, who knew so many pole dancers read my blog? Or are they all the same person/group or something?

Anyway - I put myself out there with this blog, and in life generally, so I am now going to expect the same from people who comment. I'm afraid from now I'm not going to allow anonymous comments, but will absolutely welcome comments as before. Hopefully we can all stay friends through this...but if not, hey, life's too short to worry about the fact not everyone agrees on everything.

n.b. Just worked out where all the 'flamers' came from - they've come via a website called Vertical Dance - I guess a pole dancing forum, so of course they will be pro pole dancing.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Mummy, I'm tired...

Bloody gosh, we're all really tired this week. I did a lot of walking yesterday, up and down hill, up more hill, back slightly up hill from West Hill, then up and down hill again. After wearing myself out cooking dinner with three saucepans I had to go to bed. At six o'clock.

Felt much better this morning, but should have made 3 year old J join me. We're just back from coffee in the community cafe, then a morning at playgroup. She was too tired to;
  • play with her friends
  • eat fruit at snack time
  • join in with the singing
  • do Sleeping Bunnies or Jingle Jangle Scarecrow
  • walk home

So after pushing her, up the hill again we're lying on the sofa for the afternoon. Well at least for another hour, M's band are coming over to play later, so must clean, at least a bit.

And then she says;' Mummy, I didn't want to go nowhere this morning, you should have not taken me out'. (n.b she is really does speak like that - blame it on the parents). How ungrateful is that! It's not that I enjoy art at the playgroup, or chatting, or coffee, or seeing my friends. It's all for her, honest.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Stalking Authors, Smelly Bookshops and Conversation

Spent quite a bit of time yesterday in Richard's ( favourite secondhand bookshop; the Oxfam bookshop in Hastings. I can confirm it really is rather wonderful, and the people working or standing there like they work, but would not want to confirm it do have rather peculiar conversations. Yesterday it was about a variety of topics including how health and safety checks are there to catch you out, the danger of carrying too many books (topical given the location) and what they were going to have to drink; tea or coffee and when. I did notice that the fact that is is not a normal Oxfam, but a bookshop meant that more men worked there. Which is nice as they should not feel excluded from voluntary sector retail work.

However, it was slightly smelly, well actually very smelly, of course I couldn't say for sure whether it was staff or customers that needed a good wash. And maybe, there were valid reasons for not washing, like, um, living rough or, not having access to soap or something. But it was a bit off putting. I did find that the back of the shop, away from the customer/staff people was more manageable though.

And I was delighted with the selection in there. I bought a copy of 'Our Bodies, Ourselves', the seminal women's health book written by the Boston Health Co-operative. Fascinating, but rather scary stuff. I also bought a very old book called 'Doing up a Dump', which was great, very early eighties ideas but lovely for budget decorating tips. Might start a collection of old decorating books actually, do love them, and plan to learn to make own rag rugs this winter, or next.

Finally I bought a diet book that I'd heard of the other day by India Knight and Neris Thomas. Now I'm turning in to a big India Knight fan, I read her in the Times; I've got both her novels; and I adore her frugal living book. This diet is just great, really it is a combination of all low carb but high fat diets but with a slightly healthy living slant, some real tips (i.e. it allows you to drink wine and vodka in the second stage) and accepts pizza cravings as normal (you can pick the toppings off and eat them). So I'm going to try it, soon, do need to have an awful lot of vitamins first though, so might have to save up for them as seems a bit rubbish spending whole family food budget on butter and cream with vitamins and nothing for the rest of them.

If it works I really will be tempted to make friends with India Knight; reminds me of when my friend Rach and I realised one of our Sociology lecturers was actually mildly famous, and we used to walk past her office frequently so we could bump in to her. Weirdly enough she left soon after, and we never met the mildly famous lecturer. Possibly due to strange eighteen year olds who were over impressed at idea of meeting a real live feminist sociologist and muttered outside her door, possibly after drinking Snakebite and Black.

Anyone met an author hero?

Monday, 12 January 2009

Missing in Action - over Hastings

Oh Boys! A similar helicopter to this was attempting to fly over the West Hill yesterday, but it appears that windy conditions mean remote control helicopters, just like the real things can't take off.
An attempt had been made the night before to fly it in the living room, frankly scaring me as it looked like the whizzing wings would chop shreds off either my face or the lovely telly with one wrong move. Fortunately we survived the brief experiment.
However, the helicopter went for its first real flight in the garden yesterday. We'd been warned about getting it too high, 'cos then it gets caught in gusts of winds so were quite careful. Of course within minutes we had to ask our eighty plus neighbour to rescue it from her garden. So the second time it hovered over her garden, a decision was made to attempt to fly it home.
Last seen hovering about six houses away. Please accept my apologies if it scared your cats/dogs, and I'm hoping to God that it didn't break anything on landing. But if you do happen to see it...then we've still got the controller!

Friday, 9 January 2009

Back to basic feminism

I've just picked up the Active Hastings winter programme. Active Hastings are run by the council, in partnership with the PCT and others and usually run some good programmes to get/support the local population to be, well, more active I guess.

But this time I'm cross, very cross, and offended. They are, again offering pole dancing classes, and rather than a small little class for the I imagine, fairly small of enlightened women who want to just do it for exercise and for themselves (or am I being too kind here) - they are really pushing it. First page in fact is an ad for an adult (oh yeah) dance and movement camp - a chance to try out things you wouldn't normally do such as Lindy Hop and Tap Dance, oh and pole dancing.

I'm just so shocked, firstly as I think I've mentioned before that many bars in the town centre have poles, and secondly we've moved this far from our roots. OK, so earnest 1970's radical feminism has maybe had its day, women are no longer all about looking plain to not attract attention or sexual attention, or even against a little sexual attention. But have we circled too far? In our desire to be post-feminist women are we actually simply acting as the Playboy bunny girls we all, apparently admire so much.

I'm not sure what to think, but all I know is I don't approve. I don't want young women 17 years old plus, and older I guess only keeping fit by pole dancing. I don't want us to be fit to be ogled. I want us fit for ourselves, so we keep ourselves strong and fit and can choose our own sexuality. Not council funded sex.

Thoughts please!!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

We survived the French, the Students and Tourists but the Recession is Doing Us In

Hastings town centre is in a bad way - the 'gateway' to the town from the seafront is almost empty, more shops are closing this week and it has lost its way. The first view of the town from the sea used to have a Clarks shoe shop in a gorgeous old round building on the right, and a curtain shop in another round styled bulding on the left. Clarks has moved to the shopping centre, and the curtain shop is closing down.

Further along towards the old town, Woolworths has gone, Sussex Stationers and art shop is going this week; even the cheap/pound shop has closed down. It's left a non-seaside adult amusement arcade, a couple of banks, cafe's and charity shops. And a real sense of sadness and defeat. We lost our lovely toy shop, Gamley's about six months' ago now, the local yarn shop a year ago, and many of the smaller post offices, including a key one in the Old Town a few months ago.

We're all playing the who is next game in terms of retail Monopoly, and are, of course, really sad about the people who are losing their jobs. But the other crucial side effect for a town like Hastings, which is always on the edge of being up and coming, is the feel and look good factor. If we want to attract investment in to the town, and new people who will visit and spend money we need it to look the part, and actually be the part. Right now if a young family or a couple down from London/up from Brighton etc popped down for the day and did not make it to the Old Town or the newly lovely Norman Road I'm not sure they would be back. But do we tell anyone where these places are? I can't count the number of times I've directed people to the old town, and told them where to park. I've also had a number of conversations with visitors who are delighted to discover there are other, better hidden bits of town.

So, what do we do? Is town then just for the locals to do their business; banking, shoe repairs, video hires, visit the library and do some shopping? If it is, and it will always need to partly do this we, as a town need to urgently look at transport costs; both public and private. Car parking is annoyingly expensive for a quick visit to the town centre, I'd love to see free parking for an hour to encourage local 'pop-ins'. And as for the bus fares; well its about two pounds each way to the centre of the town from here, which is about two miles away. With two people, that is a four pound journey one way. Day rider tickets are available and are actually not too expensive at just over three pounds for unlimited bus rides. But come on Hastings, if London can do a £1 ticket to ride, surely we can too. It would help the student trade too, as I know many of them arrive with a limited budget, thus leaving more money to spend in cafe's and shops.

Hastings needs to advertise itself; we need the Whitstable effect; but we need to direct people to our lovely parts of town. My top town lovelies (below) would be fantastic in a little booklet; or posters on the London/Brighton train. Or, goodness, imagine on the tube.

How about these top spots in town;

  1. The West Hill and Hastings Castle - kite flying, picnicking, a touch of history, and some ice-cream eating.

  2. Norman Road for its fabulous antique, quirky and gift shops, plus lovely little cafe's and restaurants.

  3. The Old Town, more cool and quirky shops, junk, cafe's and bars plus not forgetting the gorgeous, often missed All Saints Street for authentic fifteenth century buildings.

  4. The East Hill and the Firehills for their wonderful views, walks and barbecue areas.

  5. The little 'bohemian' area at the bottom of the town centre, by Trinity Church with some unusual shops, lovely coffee shops, and modern bars.

Any more ideas, course we've also got the Stade, the Museum, the Smugglers Caves, the Aquarium, the penny slot machines, and that is even without mentioning the beach?

What should Hastings do next?

hastings town centre - Google Search

Sunday, 4 January 2009

I want one of these...but a real one

Probably not until Seren the cat is not around anymore, and hopefully not one whose brain is too small. But a lovely one, maybe called Lucy (have decided if I was to have a miracle baby it would be called Lucy!).
What do you think? Or should we have a Daisy Dog normal spaniel?Or, possibly a rescue dog, as by the time we can children should be a bit older/more reliable?

Friday, 2 January 2009

New Year, new post, new me - possibly

It's certainly cold, and I'm absolutely feeling much better now - almost back to normal, though slightly achey from too much time on the sofa!
I'd like to do something fairly dull, and do a list of the great things I'm going to achieve, or give up this year. Instead I'm feeling more likely to shout at myself, as I did at Lovely M when he asked me what my resolutions are.

However the things I'd like to see happen this year are many, and here is a little sampler;

  1. Spend some time in the middle of nowhere in a log cabin - not sure why, just feel need for wilderness, not birdwatching though.
  2. Go out more with Lovely M - need a babysitter for this one, friends, offers?
  3. See little Ol learn to read, he impressed me by reading look on the road today, next step Enid Blyton.
  4. See J get more confident and learn to look at people (especially strange old ladies in Bexhill) when they talk to her, and lose the paralysis of shyness.
  5. Lose some weight (oh, how predictable) - or alternatively just buy some amazing clothes that make me look thinner.
  6. Pay off some money/debts (again, how predictable - but would be fantastic to start next year in a clearer position)
  7. Slug proof the inside of the house, note to others; if you have a slug ridden garden and bring in a tree from outside, the slugs will come too.
  8. Take more photos, and write more meaningful things rather than lists of silly things I, my family and friends have done.
  9. Go to more house parties - even with children, don't need to be big, just fun.
  10. Actually indulge creative side more with visits up to town, and galleries etc, once every couple of months to the local art gallery is not enough; and an hour and a half train ride for some rejuvenation is priceless (sound like advert for Barclaycard/trains now).

That's it, the list - how about you...any marvellous inspirational ideas for 2009, or just everyday ones that make life a little better?