Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Made in the UK

It's gone St George mad. Britain is balmy.

There's not a line to be seen without some reference to the Jubilee, the Olympics, the celebration of our fair and beautiful land and the commemoration of our Queen.

I get that the world has gone red white and blue crazy. I understand that we should celebrate. And I know that one of my earliest memories was the Silver Jubilee street party.

Them were the days...my mum in a pair of flares, my dad with sideburns Wolverine would crave and me and my sis running around with plastic red, white and blue hats on. The street went wild. It was a right royal knees up - it was a street sensation. I think there were even vol-au-vents.

BUT in today's mentalness, enough is enough. There's not a shop window without a union jack flag, there's not an advertising campaign without a reference to the land of hope of glory - even Kingsmill has gone Queensmill.

When did the Jubilee go from being about a right good knees up to an advertiser's dream?

And then there's the fashion. Only today I saw a woman wearing Union Jack leggings - it wasn't pretty. In fact it was down right wrong. I did consider going over to her and pointing out that quirky and wrong are two completely different things; but I didn't instead I just stared. And she had a camel toe. She didn't even have the fashion know-how to wear a long top with leggings.

I mean for the love of the Queen, do you think she would approve of these:

http://www.hiddengarments.cn/index.php/2010/10/union-jack-leggings/

Please please please can we just celebrate with some old fashioned values. A keg of beer, a plastic hat and some cucumber sarnies. A proper shindig.

There is no need to dress head to foot in the Union Jack and drape bunting from your car.

Don't get me wrong, I am excited. But then I will be in Cornwall on a beach bodyboarding in my Union Jack wetsuit.

Monday, 21 May 2012

The tortoise and the hare

WINNER...WINNER.....

I'M A WINNEEEEERRRRRRRR

*makes W winner sign with fingers*


Yes, yes I know, 40,000 other people did it aswell, but yesterday I took to the streets with my running buddy and we conquered the Manchester 10k.


I have a love hate relationship with 'running events'. I want to be part of it, I love the atmosphere but then there is the fear that I just could be last, that last person over the line with a chain of cars behind me waiting for the roads to re-open.


I run for my sanity - as I think many people do. If it were a weight loss thing, I would be so disappointed. I run because it gives me time to escape, to find me again and as I pound the pavement having a natter, the worries of my world slip away for 40 whole long blissful minutes. 


And judging by the increasing number of illuminuous running jackets in the playground, consumer research would suggest I am not alone.


Mel Gibson was so right in Want Women Want. You don't stand in front of a mirror when you run and wonder what the road will think of your outfit.


I have entered a number of 10ks over the years, mainly through being coerced into it by friends and I've have different success rates. 


Undoubtedly the worst one was the Abersoch 10k which has haunted me for years. Having run for over 12 years, I figured I could plod round any fun run, so I wasn't too concerned when a group of us girls signed up for it. We mooched on over to Abersoch the night before, had a lovely dinner and somewhat confidently I even enjoyed a glass or two of wine.


In the morning, we sauntered down to the beach when it was casually pointed out to me that we would be running along the beach for a mile, jumping over beach groynes before running uphill for approximately 5 of the 10k. Oh and it was raining. And it was windy. And for the uninitiated Abersoch is blinkin hilly.


I laughed - a little nervously - and looked round for the other fun runners; desperately searching for Spongebob Squarepants or Mr Bump. I was greeted with the view of 250 elite athletes.


I AM NOT EXAGGERATING. Elite Athletes. Tight. Toned. Muscular. In tight pants and everything. Ready to smash their 10k personal best.


It was then it hit me. I stood no chance. 


I did it. I paced myself with a 60 year old athlete. I got round. And I wasn't last. I used every single last breath to beat the 60 year old over the finish line.


So yesterday I was a little nervous that I would once again be pacing myself with a 60 year old runner. Luckily it wasn't the case, Spongebob was there as was Yoda and Darth Vadar. I was once again confident I wouldn't be last.


And then there she was...my running nemesis. The stop-starter. Coming in many different guises, the style is always the same. She runs FAST and then WALKS slow to catch her breath. I over-take as I plod along - and then I hear her behind me, catching me, running past me, before she has to walk again. 


It bugs me. Everytime I over-take her I feel a small surge of contentment and then whens she zooms past me, I sigh (well I don't actually sigh as that would expel breath I don't actually have).


The good news is that by about 7k, she can over-take no more, and I plod past her towards the finish line mentally flicking a little winner sign at her.


The tortoise does it again.











Sunday, 13 May 2012

Manners - dying a death

Mind your manners - old man!



"In sociology, manners are the unenforced standards of conduct which demonstrate that a person is proper, polite, and refined." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manners 


This wikipedia entry could of course be describing me. 


I have brought up my small things to believe in manners, to understand what they mean and to say please and thank you with the essential smatterings of excuse me. A simple death stare from me is enough to remind them in an instant of a forgotten social grace.


So it really gets on my nerves when the older generation, otherwise known as old fogies, senior citizens or old biddies seem to think it's okay not to use their manners with my small things.


Manners are in my humble opinion a two way street, regardless of age. And frankly (yes, yes I'm ranting) there have been several occasions of late when my children have been lovely and polite (and also almost spoke in the Queen's English) to old biffers and have been met with rudeness, indifference and even a glare.


Now I know that children should be seen and not heard, should know their place etc etc but if my small things politely say 'Excuse-me' then they should not be met by a curmudgeon's glare. 


It irks me. And I then usually end up muttering under my breath just like an old bean at the rudeness, at the sheer impertinence - which actually would probably have more impact if the pensioner in question had switched on their hearing aid.


Undeterred, I shall continue my quest to ensure that my small things are brought up in the knowledge of all things that are right. 


In fact I ensure they have lessons in courtesy, respect and etiquette taught to them every day, by me, their teacher. 


Lessons include:
1. The importance of respecting your elders 
Lesson: bring me a cup of coffee in the morning


2. Be nice and polite to others
Lesson: be nice to me above everyone else and you stand a good chance of getting your spends


3. Always say Please and Thank you
Lesson: mummy, ppplllleeeeaaaasssseeee can we stay up late. Thank you mummy you're the best.

4. Open doors for other people
Lesson: open the door when I am carrying wine, wine glass and mobile


5. Never interrupt when someone is speaking
Lesson: when I am talking, do not attempt to speak as this will usually result in a loss of spends, cakes, treats and generally any fun in life


Of course, these essential lessons in etiquette I am delivering are for their own good. Should they ever meet the Queen they will know how to behave, but if she doesn't reciprocate their good manners I may have to have a not so polite word in her ear.


I declare it to you now if the older generation keep treating my daaarrrllliiinngg small things with rudeness when they are being polite, I am not going to mutter under my breath, I might very well point out their own lack of manners. 


I said MIGHT.


http://pinterest.com/knightys/mind-your-manners/


P.S. I love old people

Monday, 7 May 2012

Standing behind the stove

Spatula Power



In my ongoing quest to tick the good mum box, the one thing that that allows me to award myself a big fat gold star more than anything else is cooking for the small things.


Standing in front of the stove, spatula in hand whilst the small things sit at the kitchen table, music on (pop party mix 999 is the current favourite) and random conversations a plenty. 


The good mum quest is often one that evades me and can also be made achingly hard to achieve (in my head) as a single mum. 


But I have found the solution, I know what ticks the box. 


I have the key. I have the secret. And because I am a good, kind, loving person (and sometimes great mum) I am going to gift that secret to you. So you too can wallow in the success of Spatula Power ©.


It's those small moments that count in the good parenting manual, the ones you don't even think about. It's those moments that your small things will remember and will take those parenting traditions to their kids.


It's the odd giggle, the impromptu pillow fight on a weekend morning and for the ultimate accolade, that feel good, good mum feeling, I give to you the cooking kids equation.


Cooking + Kids = Good Mum TICKS Good Mum Box. 


Realisation dawned on this cold wet bank holiday morning as the small things had begun their 'I want pancakes' chant and I started whisking up the mixture. 


I think it must go back to the dawn of time when I was little and many conversations with my mum happened in the kitchen, while she was cooking. I look back on these times with nostalgia and the knowledge that all the best cheesecakes come out of a packet.


Today, the only difference is that I, of course, tend to be cooking with a hearty glass of wine next to me. Not at breakfast time, obviously.


Sunday lunch is the same, it's probably the only staple on my parenting agenda. It's guaranteed to get us all sitting round the kitchen table discussing the meaning of life. Okay I admit, actually we are usually found sitting round the kitchen table debating whether Jessie J is better than Lady Ga Ga (I always go for Jessie).


There is nothing boho about my Sundays, but I also know there is nothing more fulfilling than my house filled with the smells of a Sunday roast, the small things mooching and with increasing insistence asking when lunch will be ready.


So this weekend I have awarded myself the 'Spatula of Success'. 


Go forth my friends, find your inner spatula.