Tuesday, 23 December 2008

The Snowman and Wasabi

I got really cheap tickets to see The Snowman at the Peacock Theatre in London on Saturday, and we all loved every minute of it. 

Based on the Raymond Briggs book, the Snowman is a charming, magical experience which combines gorgeous costumes, a full orchestra and ballet-style choreography.

Best of all is the stagecraft - a triumph of magic made possible by mechanics. This includes an electric motorbike, a puffing toy steam train and eye-popping scenes where the Snowman and the little boy really do rise up into the air and fly across the stage. Beautiful. 

My eyes were watering on several occassions. I was transported. El was entertained throughout, and loved the fact that it was OK for her to ask us questions and make comments to us throughout the performance. After all, the theatre was full of kids doing the same. Because there was no dialogue, it was easy for her to get caught up in the story, and I think it would appeal to kids much younger than Ella for this very reason.

Before the show, we went to a Japanese restaurant for veggie sushi, tempura and noodles. Ella impressed me no end by trying a little wasabi with her Sushi. She loved it. "I really like it Mummy, but for a little bit it feels like a strong fizzing and then like you have a needle stuck up your nose". Spot on.

Monday, 22 December 2008

And the winner is...

The winner of the Best of British Mummy Blogger's Carnival is Baby Juggler's Going Completely Potty. Well done! 

The current Carnival is on now - place your votes before 27th December by leaving a comment on the current Carnival page  (I am No. 8 if you'd like to vote for me!).

If you’d like to host the carnival on your blog, the schedule is kept on Thames Valley Mums

Ciao for now!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

I've got Christmas all tied up..

I'm feeling very smug as I've had Christmas all wrapped up for days. An hour on the Internet and it was all done.

I even managed to buy my sister's birthday present (the poor thing has her birthday two days after Christmas) and a
pressie for myself.

Buying myself a Christmas present is a tradition I started a while ago, it's a great insurance against the disappointment of not getting anything you really want. I highly recommend it.

I found some
unusual gifts here and did the rest here - books, gadgets, smellies, has the lot.

As soon as my postie had delivered the first package, I dashed to Waitrose for some wrapping paper. Big mistake.

WARNING: some of Waitrose's Christmas wrapping paper is actually see-through, although you can't tell until you're actually using it.


I had to double- (and in some cases triple-)wrap the presents. Subsequently, I went to Tescos for cheaper and far superior wrapping paper.

The only other disappointment I have encountered in my amazingly hassle-free Christmas shopping experience is that things are not always as they seem in their photos. I can't go into that too deeply, as one of the intended recipients reads my blog.

shoes  I bought for J (who doesn't read this blog), although lovely and almost exactly what he wants, are lace-ups instead of being 'slip on' as I had hoped. This may turn out to be a Big Deal. 

A a few months ago, I accompanied J on his hunt for some new casual shoes and we traipsed around no less than ten shoe shops. Why? Because any design he liked had lace-ups and "I just want something I can put on quickly. I don't want the hassle of laces."

Now, J is by no means a lazy man. In the summer, he put up a large garden shed single-handedly (I made the tea). I have never asked him why laces are a “hassle” and in exactly what situation he would need to save the five seconds required to lace two shoes. I suppose I shall find out on Christmas day…

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Vote for the Best of British...

(Cue fanfare) Here it is, the moment you've all been waiting for..The Best of British Mummy Bloggers Carnival. Ta-Daa!

Read the entries below, then vote for your favourite by leaving a comment below. 

Just list the name or the number of the blogger you want to vote for.

If you have any problems logging your vote, please email it to me at

Please vote by Thursday 18th December 2008. I’ll announce the winner the next day, so do check back to find out the results.

I think you’ll agree that there are some excellent bloggers in the competition who deserve all the readers they can get. 

So, if you have a blog yourself, please post a link to this carnival to promote the competition and encourage your readers to join in the vote. If you are blogless, please feel free to email the link to your friends…

  1. Part Mummy Part Me finds a new way to fight the flu Shopping is Better Than Lemsip 
  2. Mummy Mania looks at the challenges of combining her writing career and children Is Writing Compatible with Motherhood?
  3. Home Office Mum gets a shock when she tries out a lip plumper In Which I Practice Pouting 
  4. Guinea Pig Mum catalogues the different stages of parenting in When They’re Babies
  5. The Baby Juggler takes a humorous look at potty training Going Completely Potty
  6. Thatgirl39 has a close encounter with a clown Send in the Clowns
  7. Potty Mummy writes about mice, de-icer and Santa’s helper It’s All a Matter of Timing
  8. Reluctant Memsahib finds a fresh perspective during an African walk Reasons to be Cheerful 
  9. A Modern Mother gives a moving account of visiting her newborn daughter in the Intensive Care Unit The Baby Blanket - Flashbacks from the NICU
  10. Lucy Cavendish (aka Samantha Smythe) searches for a nanny so she can start writing her next novel There Must be a Solution Somewhere
  11. Half Baked Brownie Guider has a surprise when she buys charms for her daughter’s charm bracelet Not That Charmed
  12. Modified Mummy has a run-in with the owner of her local tanning studio I Pissed off the Piercer!
  13. Family Affairs experiences role reversal in McDonalds Parental Controls
  14. Little Mummy gives tips on having a credit-crunch busting evening Swap Party
  15. Hello Mum gets a strange romantic prediction Dark Handsome Divers 
  16. Audrey at Thames Valley Mums hopes that this Christmas will be different in Dear Santer

    Please post a comment here to log your vote. Votes must be in by 
    Thursday 18th December 2008.
The next carnival is on 23rd December at Thames Valley Mums. We're also looking for carnival hosts for next year, please check out the schedule if you're interested. 

Monday, 8 December 2008

Shopping is Better Than Lemsip

I felt so fluey and pathetic this morning that I phoned El’s dad to see if he could take her to school so that I could go back to bed after breakfast. He couldn’t, so I had to face the outside world. 

The icy air cut through my already aching bones and amplified my headache. God I felt shit. The Lemsip was barely taking the edge off.

Once I had dropped El off at school the sensible thing was to go home and crawl under my duvet. But I wasn’t tired enough to sleep, I didn’t have the concentration to read and daytime TV bores me. Besides, I needed cheering up.

No wonder I felt so depressed, look at me. My baggiest jeans teamed with my flattest shoes – a definite Trinny & Susannah no-no for a short, overly rounded Pear. Topped off with the most boring jumper I own.

Then I had a Breakthrough Moment...

Actually, my other jumper is boring too. God, I only own two jumpers. What the hell, girl?! It’s mighty cold out there – go find some knitwear!

I really shouldn’t…my work has almost completely dried up this month (and as a newbie, optimistic freelancer I neglected to save when the work was rolling in a few months ago. Oops)…it’s nearly Christmas…the springs are starting to poke through the sofa…my car is on its last legs…I need to buy J’s wedding ring next month ….my tax bill is due then too…AND I REALLY REALLY WANT TO LOOK GOOD RIGHT NOW!!

When the credit crunch bites, the sick go shopping.

One denim skirt, a pair of snakeskin leggings (yes, I know am a Pear. I plan to wear under skirts and dresses. OK?), a soft indigo and violet cowl jumper, and two cardigans later…I look, and feel, so much better.

I’m smiling now. I still ache, but I feel snuggly and cosseted in my soft-as-butter cowl.

Stuff Lemsip. I’m fighting the flu with fashion.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Feed Me Grapes

Photo: C A R E

What is it about being ill that makes you want your mummy? I have a sore throat, I ache all over, my brain feels like it has been wrapped in a duvet, and my nose has regressed to the constant snotty drip of a toddler.

All I want is a gentle Angel of Mercy to mop my brow and roll out sympathetic platitudes on the hour. Better still, every half an hour.

Now that I am the mummy I just have to get on with it. It’s rubbish. 

There’s just no margin for lounging in bed calling for grapes and lemsips when you have a child breathing down your next wanting to be entertained. Actually, make that two children (I have my niece staying over this weekend).

I escaped to the bath just now while J held the fort (yes, I know it’s the afternoon. But I’m Ill!!). Soaked and sniffled. Read my book, and let the warm water soothe my aching bones. Stopped ‘getting on with it’ and indulged myself in thirty minutes of solitude. Mmmmmm.

No grapes, no sympathy but my small respite has revved up my flagging spirits.

Right. Lunch for us all, then off the see Santa on a train at the Cholsey and Wallingford Railway.

Being ill is for babies (and (step)daddies). We mummies are made of much stronger stuff!

Monday, 1 December 2008

Take Part in The Best of the British Mummy Bloggers

If you're a British blogger parent, then I'd love you to take part in the next Best of British Mummy Bloggers Carnival on Tuesday 9th December (Dads are also welcome to join in!). 

Just email me with a link to your best post
by Monday 8th December and I will include it. Readers will vote for their favourite post by leaving a comment on Part Mummy Part Me during that week. I'll send you the link on the day of the carnival so that you can post it onto your blog (if you want to) and invite your readers to come and caste their vote.

Send your blogpost link to:

Good Luck!

Wonderful Wellies

My new wellies are wonderful.

I went for a walk in them yesterday, and marvelled at their soft sucking sound in mud, the brisk swish as I marched through long grass and the satisfying splash as I jumped in a puddle like a toddler. 

Just putting them on makes me smile. They make me feel like a kid again.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Vegalicious is the New Vegan

I turned veggie when I was eleven, following a philosophical discussion with a junior master at my boarding school about whether animals had souls. I thought they did, he thought they didn't. 

He did, however ask the question that would change my eating habits forever, "If you really think that, how can you eat them?".

There was no satisfactory answer to this, and in the weeks that followed I couldn't stop associating the meat on my plate with the original animal. Yuk.

Luckily for me, my mother was a great cook and took on the challenge of cooking for a lone veggie in the family with gusto. My sister eventually turned veggie too - the food was that good.

Twenty four years after I became a vegetarian, I decided to try being vegan. The only vegans I've met have been pasty, skinny or militant. Usually all of the above. Not the best advertisement for going meat and dairy-free. But even they didn't shake my feeling that a vegan diet must be the healthiest, kindest way to eat. Kind both to animals and to the

Quite by accident, I was recently tipped over the edge by a book purporting to be about weight loss.
Skinny Bitch is an excellent read. It's an irreverent, straight-talking guide to exactly what you are putting into your body and how to eat more healthily. And sings the praises of a vegan diet. Even if you don’t need to lose weight, I urge you to read it. 

Just like my old Junior Master, Skinny Bitch raised some simple questions which changed my perception of my diet, namely: 'Why eat things that cause cruelty to animals – is this a valid choice for a compassionate person?', 'Why persist in consuming milk and milk products when we’re supposed to be fully weaned by the age of four (at the latest!) - can this really be healthy?'
I’ve always loved food, for me it is truly one of the most enjoyable things in life. So, four months ago I chose not to be vegan but to be ‘Vegalicious’ (vee-ga-lish-us). 

This is my word for being a veggie who doesn’t eat eggs or dairy AND who is in luscious health with pink cheeks and not a hint of scrawniness. Being Vegalicious also involves eating delicious food that is full of flavour.

And forget the militance so common with veganism. A Vegalicious chick like me isn’t on any crusade to convert friends and family. Instead, I enjoy treating my friends to yummy food that subtly changes their perceptions. No, I’m not talking about magic mushroom risotto. I mean the Vegalicious blueberry muffins that my friend declared “better than the ones at Starbucks by miles”, the wonderfully moist apple and cinnamon spiced cake (No eggs! No milk!) that I made as a houseguest gift when J and I stayed with friends in Manchester a few weekends ago…

On Saturday, my friend Kath came for a 'girlie night in' as I had Els and J was away. I enjoyed cooking Kath a Thai curry (with butternut squash, chickpeas, mange tout and baby corn) followed by a caramelised apple tart with a hint of aniseed. For breakfast on Sunday, we had Vegalicious buckwheat pancakes with fresh blueberries and maple syrup. I really don’t think she felt deprived.

Nor did J's friends who came over for an impromptu lunch later that day when J had returned. I made a simple, yet delicious, pasta sauce by slow-roasting fresh tomatoes with loads of garlic, olive oil and rosemary. I turned part-baked baguettes into garlic bread using a non-dairy margarine, and rustled up a cherry (tinned, but still yummy) and almond crumble which I served with Alpro non-dairy custard which, believe me, is just like the Real Thing.

I can’t say I’m a Skinny Bitch yet, I think I’m eating too much for that, but I’m certainly a healthier one. My intermittent IBS-type symptoms have all but disappeared, and I feel lighter inside (strange but true). I’m also happier as I’m living more in line with my values.

As a newly Vegalicious person, I am spurred on by the decidedly non-pasty vegan role models I have recently discovered, including the very healthy-looking lead singer of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers,
Anthony Kiedis,  cute and curvy Alicia Silverstone and the rather beefy NFL athlete Tony Gonzales.My old heroin poster misconception of how vegans look has finally been replaced by healthier, more inspiring examples. 

Vegalicious is definitely the new Vegan.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Autumn Leaf

Goodness, I have been stirring the pity pot recently. For a good few days after Els returned into the loving arms of her mother (that’s me btw), I’ve been cussing my fate.

I do occasionally have a good old wallow in the fact that poor lil ole me has to give up my only daughter for half the week (sometimes more) like a modern day

Els isn’t at all like Persephone of course. She’s hardly been abducted to the underworld. When she’s not with me, she’s in the loving arms of her father. So there’s no real reason to grieve is there?

I know this. I really, really do. But lately I couldn’t help but bemoan my situation. Poor old Part-time Mummy. Denied the joys of full-time motherhood.

Never did I think that the collapse of my relationship with El’s dad would jeopardise my time with my daughter. I assumed that I’d relinquish every, or every other, weekend. I also assumed I’d get financial help for my unstinting work as a mother. Neither assumption turned out to be correct. Sometimes that rankles.

I went for a walk when Els was at school and watched a leaf fall slowly from a tree. As I traced its hypnotic path I couldn’t help by identify with it somehow. I too felt buffeted by some unseen force, large and random, because how could it be possible that I myself had chosen the direction I have moved in?

How could someone so passionately in love with her child volunteer to give that child up? Surely I have been pushed into this place by Fate. Poor, poor me.

And then I had a Defining Moment. I realised my unseen force is Love, not Fate.

It was my love for Ella that moved me to choose sharing her care with her dad. He’s a good dad. She loves him and he loves her. How could I deprive my gorgeous girl of an equal parent and relegate him to a weekend dad role? How would she truly benefit from that, when she could have so much more?

Empowered by my past decision once again, all because of a falling leaf, I look at my happy, confident, well-loved daughter and feel proud that I let myself be moved by love all those years ago…and that I love her enough to keep letting her go.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008


Photo: .Waiting  
Sometimes it just works out this way.

I went part-time and freelance so I could spend more time with Els. So I could do the school run. So I could do supermarket shopping and some household chores when she’s at school and so get more Quality Time with my daughter.

Today I’m not getting Els from school because her dad is. Today I haven’t got much work to do because that’s just the way it goes with freelancing sometimes.

I feel guilty.

I’ve brazenly ignored the piles of washing to be done, the baskets of clean clothes waiting to be put away, the dirty dishes. Instead, I took my time over breakfast and then drove to Brightwell-cum-Sotwell for my new weekly French Conversation class in the
Red Lion.

After mon lecon francais, I came home, made lunch, called a friend, checked my email and started to write this. I’m about to go for a walk (it’s lovely outside), and then I’ll go into Henley to get my hair cut. It’s a Senior Stylist training session this afternoon…only £15 for a haircut! Bargain.

I should be enjoying today. Only it seems odd, me living the life of a Henley Lady of Leisure when I feel I should either be earning my living or being a mummy. Today is one of those days when I can’t do either.

I feel odd. Redundant. I'm on pause. A Mummy-and-Worker-in-Waiting.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Mothers for Justice

And today the downsides of being a part-time mum…I really miss my little girl.

I’m on the edge of falling into a slushpit of self-indulgent sorrow for the fact that I am enduring SIX WHOLE DAYS without Ella. Cue fantasies of dressing up as a superhero, climbing on top of
Henley Town Hall with a banner proclaiming ‘Mothers for Justice’.

Actually, I could just ask El’s dad if he’d mind awfully me having Els a bit more...but I’ve always tended to err on the dramatic side.

Because I miss her so much it aches, I’ll assuage my pain with sweet thoughts of the cute things El says. Here are a few current gems:

“I love you as much as the whole universe…and Wales”

“OK, I’ll keep an iron it for you “ (eye on it)

“For goodness snake, mummy!”

Four days down, only two more to go till I get to be a mama again…

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Quit Smoking Easily (or Shake, Rattle and Roll)

Photo: dadadreams
It’s been a good three or four weeks since I stopped smoking. It’s been amazingly easy, actually. So easy that I’m feeling a teensy bit foolish for not quitting smoking a long, long time ago.

I’ve had no cravings, no mood swings (even J agrees) and I have even managed to get drunk in the company of smoking friends without being tempted to have a drag. A laudable achievement.

Smug. Moi?

It’s not all down to willpower though. Oh no. It’s thanks to nutritional Guru, Patrick Holford. His new book,
How to Quit without feeling S**t combines dietary advice and a supplement regime to help you quit anything from sugar through to heroin with the minimum of cravings.

I feel great. I’ve never had such strong nails and my skin is positively luminescent. I feel full of verve and vigour, despite the traditionally depressing onset of Winter.

Thanks to Patrick, I am popping pills like a hardcore raver. I carry baggies emblazoned with dinosaurs and bears in my handbag. They were originally intended to hold El’s sandwiches for school. They are now labelled ‘Morning’, ‘Lunch’, ‘Mid-afternoon’ and ‘Evening’ and are choc-full with vitamins and amino acids.

Here’s what I’m taking:

On Waking
2 x ‘Drive’ stimulant formula pills
1 x 5mg NADH tablet
1x200mcg chromium

With Breakfast
3 pills from the Advanced supplement pack
1 x brain nutrient formula (phospholipids and B vitamins)
1 x 1,000mg Omega 3

With Lunch
1x200mcg chromium
1 x 1,000mg Omega 3
1 x 1,000mg Vit C

Mid Afternoon
2 x ‘Drive’ stimulant formula pills
1 x 5mg NADH tablet
1x200mcg chromium

With Dinner
3 pills from the Advanced supplement pack
1 x brain nutrient formula (phospholipids and B vitamins)
1 x 1,000mg Omega 3

I got them all from the excellent
Higher Nature. Apart from the NADH which they don’t stock – you can get that from Biovea.

I’m now thinking of going temporarily teetotal, using Patrick’s nutritional supplement recommendations for giving up alcohol. The reasons for this have more to do with vanity than health. The last time I stopped drinking for a few months I became a svelte and sexy 8 stone 4. I’m currently a curvy mama 9 stone 9.

I think I’d better get the holiday season out of the way first though. I can’t imagine Christmas without Cava (my all time favourite tipple).

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

All Things Are Possible

I nearly cried this morning when I heard Obama’s acceptance speech.

I'm convinced that Barack will help to save the world. He is committed to taking on the challenges of climate change, peace, human rights and extreme poverty.

How refreshing after that bumbling, dangerous Dubbya.

And what a striking figurehead for change. America’s first black president. Many of us hoped for it, but I wonder how many of us truly thought it would actually happen now. Can you believe that only 40 years ago black people couldn't get on the same bus as whites? There’s the ‘
Audacity of Hope’ for you.

When the American television series “24” presented us with the fictional African American president,
David Palmer, it may well have paved the way for today’s historical moment. After all, TV is a nation’s shared experience. “24” imprinted the hearts and minds of millions of Americans with the image of a handsome, fair-minded, charming, family-minded black president with integrity and charisma.

Sound familiar?

And here's a list of 10 of Obama's campaign promises that concern the world:

• Reduce the US's carbon emissions 80% by 2050 and play a strong positive role in negotiating a binding global treaty to replace the expiring Kyoto Protocol
• Withdraw all combat troops from Iraq within 16 months and keep no permanent bases in the country
• Establish a clear goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons across the globe
• Close Guantanamo Bay detention centre
• Double US aid to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015 and accelerate the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculoses and Malaria
• Open diplomatic talks with countries like Iran and Syria, to pursue peaceful resolution of tensions
• De-politicise military intelligence to avoid ever repeating the kind of manipulation that led the US into Iraq
• Launch a major diplomatic effort to stop the killings in Darfur
• Only negotiate new trade agreements that contain labour and environmental protections
• Invest $150 billion over ten years to support renewable energy and get 1 million plug-in electric cars on the road by 2015

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Yo! Mr Tumble

Photo  by woolloomooloo
I took Els to the Yo! Sushi in Reading and we met Justin from Cbeebies (aka Mr Tumble). I kid you not. He was lovely and happily spent some time talking with Els.

While Justin was paying at the till, next to where Els and I were seated, his girlfriend and I got talking about the festivals they had been to this ‘summer’ (it wasn’t really a summer, was it?). I’ve never had him down as a festi-goer myself, so this was quite a revelation.

Yo! Sushi is now second only to “Old MacDonalds” in Ella’s eyes.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Trick or sweets?

Photo by
I’m all kitted out in black, with thick tights emblazoned with glittery bats. Tres chic. A homage to my goth days.

Ella is waiting until we go trick or treating tonight as she’s far too cool to be seen out and about in her costume during the day. Unlike her mother who has no shame whatsoever.

Did you know that the tradition of dressing up as otherworldly creatures started so that people could blend in when the real spirits of the dead came walking on the earth? Cute. I’m not sure how fitting in with dead people morphed into cadging sweets from your neighbours though.

Ever noticed how the main religious festivals centre around sweets? Easter eggs, chocolate advent calendars, chocolate coins in stockings, trick or treat sweets. Apart from Lent, which is mainly about not having sweets. I think.

I’m off to make pumpkin pie. Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

But Mummy, It's My Wedding Too!

Photo by ­­ м �
Ella, my five year old, led a Q&A session with J and me in the car last week. Subject: our upcoming wedding. Objective: to glean as much detail as possible. Result: she realised she won’t be staying with us on our wedding night.

“But why do I have to stay with Daddy after? Why can’t I stay with you?”
(Tense pause whilst my stomach knots and I prepare myself to deal with a tantrum).

“Well, it’s traditional for the people getting married, the husband and wife, to be alone on their wedding night, darling.”

“But that’s not fair, mummy. It’s my wedding too!”

“Er, no sweetie it isn’t actually your wedding. It’s mummy and J’s wedding.”

Before she can protest, I go into Automatic Child Placating Mode, “You know, you are a very important part of the wedding, my darling, and you have a very important job - which is to be a Flower Girl, and to look very pretty, and to help make our day special. That includes being a good girl and staying at Daddy’s that evening. And anyway, you will get your turn when you’re older. You can have your own wedding.”

“But it isn’t fair ‘cos I might not want to get married when I’m older.”

Hmm. She has a point.

“Ella, look at that red umbrella that lady is carrying. Look! Isn’t it bright!”

Phew. Thank god for distraction tactics.

Yesterday, J and I went to the Registry Office to give our notice of marriage. We discussed our choice of vows and whether we wanted a reading. The Registrar suggested we could bring a song on a CD to round off the ceremony.

“What sort of thing can we have?”

“Practically anything. You know, someone recently signed the register to the tune of Bob the Builder.”

“As in the kid’s TV theme tune?!”


It turns out that it was the choice of the bride’s three year old son. And now I’m sure that there must be a mummy out there who has sacrificed her wedding night – and all it traditionally entails – to make their child feel included.

I thank the lady with the red umbrella for my lucky escape.

Photo credit:

Three in a Bed and the Little One Said...

Ella came into our room at 3am this morning, “Mummy, I’ve had a nightmare can I sleep with you?” Half an hour later, hot because I was sandwiched between Ella and J, I decided to slope off to Ella’s bed.

Unfortunately, my sneaking around woke up J who also decided he would be better able to sleep by himself. J got out of bed and went to the sitting room where he attempted to squeeze his six foot two frame onto our two seater sofa (bless).

At 4am, sensing something was amiss, Ella awoke to find herself stranded in our bed and came to find me. “I’m scared and all alone, mummy”. No problem. I went to join her back in my own bed.

Photo credit

At 4.30am, I went to the loo and realised that J was watching TV, unable to sleep on our tiny sofa. “Honey, I’ll put El in her bed, you go back to our bed and get comfortable.”

I picked El up, very very gently, and snuck her into her own bed. As soon as I’d tucked the duvet over her she opened her eyes, “Mummy, I’m still too scared to sleep by myself. Please can you stay with me?” No problem. I went to join her in her bed. It was quite a squash.

After an hour or so of ineffectual travelling to the Land of Nod, I slipped out of Ella’s bed and went to join J back in our bed.

Tired? Moi? 

Friday, 24 October 2008

Nits just not fair

I discovered lice in Ella’s hair othe other morning. I kept her out of school for the day, took her to the pharmacist and made a few calls to my clients to reschedule my work commitments. 

No problem. As a freelancer, I can de-nit without dropping a stitch.

A friend of mine recently had to take a day off from work with her son so she could treat him for headlice. Her line manager admonished her with ‘when I have children I won’t do a job like this’. 

Really? Does she plan to provide for her future children on a Tesco’s wage then? I know some mothers manage this, but it’s some kind of alchemy that I can’t fathom. Most working mums in professional jobs are there because they need a professional wage.

The morning after her impromptu day off, my friend realised - in the middle of a presentation to a new client - that she had wildlife crawling on her scalp. Poor love. Too worried about what her line manager would say, she dared not cancel her next meeting to go home and delouse. Oh no. She spent the rest of the working day trying desperately not to scratch. 

It sounds like the cruel premise for a challenge on the Japanese game show, Endurance. Surely this is above and beyond the call of duty?

But I know how she feels. We working parents are expected to be grateful for every damned UNPAID day’s leave we take due to child-related complications. The absent mum usually feels so guilty that she’ll do her damndest to ‘make up the time’ by working late or bringing work home...I know. I’ve been there.

However, I must confess that I’m a recent convert to this point of view. In my pre-child days, I scowled at my colleagues-cum-mothers who left work on-the-dot at 5pm, shamelessly eschewing the unspoken rule that any nine-to-fiver worth their salt really should be working from eight to seven.

At the time, being a fun-loving girl in my twenties, I never once thought about my own lack of productivity from coming into work still a bit drunk from the previous night. Oh, and of course the unauthorised ‘duvet days’ to nurse a hangover. Childless people go for After Work Drinks. Even on Mondays.

I also had weeks off at a time with flu and colds worsened by my twenty-a-day smoking habit. Most mums I know stop smoking in pregnancy. And there was the regular morning brain fog due to regular evening spliffs.

At least working parents usually know how to act like grown-ups. If only our childless colleagues could treat us like ones.

Not only do working parents have a better work ethic, we are more efficient. We have to be. How else could we look after our children and our partners, earn money, do all the shopping and cooking AND maintain close friendships and fun hobbies? We alone know how to warp space and time. 

Tell that to your lousy line manager.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Oh What A Night...

Last Friday, my old schoolfriend Sarada left her husband and three kids (temporarily) to paint Reading town red with me. I’ve had a few ‘mum’s nights out’ in my time and they are usually sweet but rather insipid affairs involving a meal, the cinema, a few glasses of wine and some pleasantries about our kids, our shoes and our weight.

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Nice - but a little restrained for my tastes. Still, it’s hard to find other mums who share my penchant for getting on down to techno, trance, hip hop and drum n bass. Sarada being pretty much the only exception that proves the rule.

At 10.30pm, after Sarada and I had downed quite a few vodka and cokes, my darling fiancé drove us giggling girlies to my favourite local club, Plug n Play

It’s a tiny venue that’s a recording studio by day, and a live music venue and nightclub by night. I love it because I don’t feel sad and old when I’m there – it’s full of people in their thirties and forties who still want to enjoy themselves and are besmirching the ‘pipe and slippers in front of the fire’ scenario our parents subscribed to, in favour of the ‘thirties (and forties?) are the new twenties’ motto some of us prefer to uphold.

We were there for Eat Static, a techno/trance outfit born in 1989 out of the legendary Psychedelic 'Space Rock' band the Ozric Tentacles. Having seen them years ago at the world music festival, Womad, I was expecting great things. What I got was a time trip.

The music was the body-shaking, spirit-soaring dance music I was waving my hands in the air to a decade or so ago. And it took me back. To the feeling of freedom, the love of your fellow man (and woman), the rush and connection of illicit chemicals (well, it was the nineties. Don’t tell me you never did…).

My heart sank at 3am when the lights went up (surely it can’t be over?), and fuelled by the memories of wilder times, and the copious amounts of vodka in our blood, Sarada and I leapt at the chance to go to the unofficial ‘After Party’ in a quiet cul-de-sac in Caversham (the posh part of town).

At first, we felt a little awkward not really knowing anyone. After all, we had danced the night away hardly pausing for breath so hadn’t made much conversation with anyone in the club. We found a space to sit, yawned a lot and talked about getting a taxi home in half an hour or so.

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that all the best people at parties congregate in the kitchen (near the booze) and so we went there to flex our atrophying social muscles. It was a good move.

In the kitchen I met Sarah, the 38 year old ex-scuba instructor and mother of a teenaged daughter. We talked for a long time about life, love, children and split parenting (she also shares the care of her daughter with her ex). Typical Mum’s Night Out topics I suppose, but covered with a depth and an honesty that is rare.

I also met a Pirate. Well, he wasn’t a real pirate but he certainly looked like one with his wild, curly long hair, his mischevious glint and his bona fide admiral’s jacket complete with gold ringed design at the cuffs. We talked for a long time about life, love, children and single parenting. Oh, and his name was Jack. Of course. What else could it be?!

I met many other lovely people, including one of the Plug n Play organisers who was brought up as a Jehovah’s witness and turned his back on all he knew when he fell in love, and slept with, a girl in the community and realised there was more to life than door knocking and Jesus.

Throughout the night I was struck by how many interesting, older (i.e. not in their teens and twenties) Party Goers there are in Reading – and many of them parents too. I didn’t realise there were so many of us out there!

As early morning became early afternoon, having already fallen into several impromptu dozes on the sofa, Sarada and I called a taxi and left our new friends, hoping to enjoy another large night out together soon.

A few days later, I’m already missing the camaraderie, the hedonism and the enlightening conversations. And yes, Sarada and I have already set a date to go to Plug n Play again.

It’s not until mid-December though.

A big night out every three months or so seems about right to me. Come on, we are in our mid-thirties. And we do have responsibilities – to our kids, our jobs, our livers.