The Joys of Jetlag

So – one minute she’s eating an apple – the next she’s fast asleep on the floor!!

Same for her father – but he was drinking fizz not eating fruit!

Am trying to make this my entry for this week’s wicked Wednesday on Brummymummtof2’s blog – but can’t work out how to add the linky from my phone and the UAE ISP won’t let me access WordPress from the hotel’s computer!! Sorry!!

**imagine picture of cute Brummy girl wailing** 

High heels? High price?!

This week there has been lots in the press about women being banned from the red carpet at Cannes for not wearing high heels! Now I love a heel as much as the next girl (cue photo of me ‘wearing in’ the Kurt Geigers for my 40th with socks!)

but sometimes my dodgy back or aching feet would rule out strutting my stilettoed stuff.

I thought such odd dress codes were a thing of the past. I remember back to the mid 90s when I graduated and joined a huge accountancy firm, there were certain clients we were told wouldn’t accept women in trousers and we had to wear skirts – but even then there weren’t shoe restrictions.

However – a family member had a new member of staff start this week – and her direct line manager (also a woman) reprimanded the new starter for wearing flat shoes on her first day!! They weren’t scruffy trainers, but smart ballet pump styled shoes, that would spend the bulk of the day hidden behind a desk – but still they were deemed inappropriate! And this was Central London not the glamourous South of France. 

Whilst we womenfolk may have won the vote, it would appear we are still far from equal when it comes to footwear! 

The Photo Gallery Week 31: Landscape

Whilst I love the green and pleasant land in which we live – I suspected there would be lots of beautiful British landscapes on show this week (in fact Tara and I often end up posting photos of the same local woods) – so decided to go foreign!

We are regular visitors to Dubai – but these were from our first trip there over New Year from 2008 into 2009. We did a trip out into the desert (I always struggle with spelling that and wonder if I’m talking about pudding instead?!) and the landscape was so different to anything we’re used to and so breathtaking. (I also felt violently travel sick driving up and down all of the dunes!)

Desert 1

The trip was in the evening – so we also got to see the sunset.

Desert 3

Desert 2

The photos don’t really do it justice – but it was utterly amazing.

This is my entry this week for The Gallery over on the Sticky Fingers blog – do go and see other people’s amazing landscapes.

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Book Review: Girls Uninterrupted by Tanith Carey

Girls uninterrupted

I don’t often read non fiction – in fact, this is the first non fiction book I’ve read since I started doing book reviews on here.  This was recommended by the Head Teacher at my eldest daughter’s school (the author is a parent from the girls’ school she was previously head of) – and ever a girlie swot, I always do what I’m told – so I purchased it to read over Easter.

The full title is ‘Girls Uninterrupted – steps for building stronger girls in a challenging world’.  Snappy eh?!  But I totally agreed with the sentiment – so thought I’d give it a go.

Here is what the Amazon blurb has to say:

* Why are girls self-harming and suffering eating disorders in record numbers? * Why do girls feel they have to be ‘little miss perfects’ who are never allowed to fail? * Why are girls turning against each other on social media? * What should we tell girls about how to deal with challenges of every day sexism and violent, misogynistic pornography? * How can parents, teachers and grandparents inoculate girls so they can push back against the barrage of unhealthy messages bombarding them about what it means to be female? Whether they are praised for being pretty rather than smart, or accused of being ‘bossy’ rather than leaders, teaching girls how to be comfortable with themselves has never been more challenging. Laid out in clear simple steps, Girls Uninterrupted shows the practical strategies you need to create a carefree childhood for your daughters and ultimately help build them into the healthy, resilient women they deserve to be.

Now, it wasn’t a page turning ‘can’t put down’ of a book – but I did find it really interesting.  With 3 daughters (and a son) at different ages from pre-teen down to toddler – it was very appropriate.

A lot of it is common sense – or, common sense when you think about it – but how often do you take the time out of your busy life to sit down and think about stuff like this? I know I don’t. It was great to take that time out and think about how our actions – and the actions of the world about us – impact on our daughters’ lives.

There are some interesting facts and statistics that it was good to see too, on a whole myriad of relevant topics – eating disorders, viewing of porn on the internet and bullying to name but 3.

It has already impacted (in a good way!) on my own behaviour. Even my husband noticed I’d put my phone down when we were all out having lunch after going swimming as a family last weekend (normally I’d be checking emails / updating Facebook / tweeting – but decided all of that could wait!)

Then today, the 11 year old and I had a conversation about her exams this week, and how all we want is for her to do her best – and how they’re not the end of the world. Thankfully she seems to be taking them in her stride really well – and can see that some of the girls in her class who have cried over getting one question wrong and getting very stressed beforehand is not healthy, and definitely not what we as her parents want her to worry about.

Some of the recommendations I’m not sure are totally achievable for us as a family (for example, we can’t turn the wifi off to stop the kids accessing it in the evenings after their bedtimes, as that’s often when the husband and I are catching up with the day jobs!) – but we can remove their devices from their bedrooms and set them to charge on the landing instead.  There are lots of other suggestions to be inspired by too.

I would really recommend this to everyone with daughters.

But now back to some reading as escapism from reality for a bit!!

The A-Z of strops 

My youngest daughter is super cute, super funny, super feisty – and super stroppy!

After I’d posted a number of photos on Facebook of her in a mard, a friend suggested I should do an A-Z list of them – so here we are!!

A – Ambleside – in a strop because she couldn’t go waterski-ing with her siblings, but it’s ok – if she turned around in the pushchair we couldn’t see her….

Strop - Ambleside

Strop - Ambleside 2

B – Bluestone in Wales – there were a few from this trip!

S for stocks

C – Crazy Golf (this is also similar to my face when forced to play the ridiculous game!)

Georgia - crazy golf strop

D – Dubai, on a bed, with FILTHY feet!

Dirty feet

E – Everyone else has a birthday before me (this is technically correct as she’s a November birthday – and she doesn’t understand the concept of time) This was on her sister’s 11th birthday

Strop - rug

F – Fence at Bluestone

F for fence

G – Genting Arena, about to watch Disney on Ice

Strop - Disney on Ice

H – home, post school run, refusing to get out of the pushchair

Strop - home pushchair

I – If I cover my eyes no one can see me being stroppy

Strop - if I cover my eyes

J – Juha’s Journey Lazy River at Wild Wadi – not a full on strop, but definitely not loving it…

Strop - Wild Wadi

K – Kings Norton Rhinos – whilst watching her big brother play rugby

Strop - Kings Norton Rhinos

L – Lagoon (Blue) changing rooms – see also S and U for the full range of this strop! This is where she’d fallen asleep mid strop…….


M – Mine Train ride at Alton Towers – think it totally traumatised her!

Strop - mine train

N – naughty step, on a Friday night, for pulling her sister’s hair

Strop - naughty step

O – Oxfordshire, at some friends for the weekend in their local park

Strop - Govans

P – Photoshoot for my parents’ birthdays – annoying she wouldn’t behave, but the results were quite cute pictures!



Q – Queen of clean hands – only a mild strop over excessive sugar on her doughnut making her fingers sticky

Strop -queen of clean hands

R – Restaurant on Grandad’s 70th birthday

Strop - Becketts

S – Swimming baths whilst on holiday at Bluestone


T – Towers of Alton (I know, I’m pushing it a bit with the whole alphabet thing!) Not wanting to go in the pushchair, or walk…..

Strop - Alton Towers

U – Uncle Tim having to carry her back after falling asleep mid strop (see S and L above!)


V – Vale do Lobo – this is the FIRST EVER STROP PHOTO – in a lovely Chinese restaurant, where she announced ‘I am very cross and very shouty’

G strop

W – Windermere, on the lake, not loving the whole boat thing

Strop - Lake Windermere

I think we might need to save X, Y, Z for any particularly impressive ones before she grows out of it (please let that be soon!!)

I think this is pretty much a definite #wickedwednesday post for BrummyMummyof2’s linky!!


Book Review: The Vintage Ice Cream Van Road Trip by Jenny Oliver

The Vintage Ice Cream Van Roadtrip

I recently read the first in the Cherry Pie series – and loved it – so when this popped on to my Kindle (got to love pre-ordering) it had to be devoured before I started anything else!!

Here’s what Amazon had to say about it:

“Welcome to Jenny Oliver’s brand new Cherry Pie Island series! There’s nowhere more deliciously welcoming…

If you were to ask Holly Somers how life is going at the moment she wouldn’t have a clue how to answer you… On the one hand she’s embarking on a retro-fabulous road trip in her vintage ice cream van all the way from Cherry Pie Island to the South of France. Plus, she’s sharing the journey with Wilf Hunter-Brown (quite possibly the most attractive man she’s ever met!)

On the other? Well, apart from being unsure as to whether the rickety old ice cream van will actually make it to the Riviera, she and Wilf had a one-night fling a few weeks ago. Even worse, it seems there’s an unexpected little consequence of their impromptu night together. Life on Cherry Pie Island definitely hasn’t equipped Holly with knowledge of the best way to tell a super-rich entrepreneur with a womanising reputation that he’s about to become a Dad!

Despite the heat of the Provencal sunshine you’d think you’d be able to keep cool inside an ice cream van – but the temperature is definitely rising. And with time running out to tell Wilf the truth, Holly’s dream roadtrip is fast becoming a nightmare on wheels! There’s no denying that this will be a journey to remember. When it comes to sundaes, Holly has always been partial to the more traditional flavours – but something’s telling her that this could be the time to take a chance and try something new…”

It was lovely! Like the first book in the series it wasn’t a highbrow doorstop of a book – but was a great, quick, escapist read.  As with all of Jenny’s books – the food descriptions were amazing – and she really evoked the feel of France.

Whilst the main characters in book 2 were different to book 1 there were enough cross references for you to still feel involved with life back on Cherry Pie Island.

I’m already excited about book 3 (and subsequent books!!)

Operation Teddy Bear – World Record SMASHED!!!

I’ve blogged before about Operation Teddy Bear and the accompanying raising of its awareness with #opteddybear selfies – but yesterday was THE BIG DAY – and is ‘one day in May’ I will never forget!!

A couple of weeks ago we found out that Finlay was going to need further brain surgery – and just a few days before the big day – so we gave him the choice of whether we postponed, or went ahead without him.  The mature, sensible, lovely boy that he is, he recognised how much work had gone into the preparation and told us to go ahead anyway. So on Thursday 30 April Fin had a 7 hour operation. It went really well and he was excited that he could be video linked in to the Operation Teddy Bear event.

The night before we were picking up bears from the various places around the Alvechurch area where they had been stored – my children were literally drowning in bears:



Then on Sunday May 3rd it was an early – and wet – start at Alvechurch Cricket Club. If we’d arranged for Guinness to come out and witness the event we would have had to pay them a few thousand pounds – and we wanted that money to go to the charities (Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Brain Tumour Research) – so we went down the route of providing loads of evidence to support our attempt instead. This meant independent witnesses were there every step / bear of the way and everything was photographed and videoed.

So – off we went!! At this point the bears could sit on plastic to stop their bottoms getting wet – those later on weren’t so comfy!

I laid 500 (as in put them down, not laid like a chicken!)


and other members of the Op Teddy Bear team did too:



All through the first few hours we were able to FaceTime with Fin in his (dry, warm) hospital bed!!

We broke the UK record of 1,996 within a few hours, and as we approached the existing world record of 4,041 we found that the wifi was down at Fin’s hospital and so we couldn’t get him to watch live – but we photographed and videoed it all for him. In Fin’s absence, a little boy called Oscar – who was treated by Birmingham Children’s Hospital for a life threatening heart condition as a baby – laid the world record breaking bear! (Cue loads of sobbing from me and the rest of the team!!)



But we weren’t going to stop at just scraping the record – we wanted to SMASH it – so on we went!

There was a steady stream of wonderful people volunteering to lay bears – and a huge queue of people to help ‘feed’ the layers with bears! It was the Alvechurch Picnic In The Park in the neighbouring park, so there were loads of locals to come and help and watch and it had the most amazing feel of community spirit.

Onwards we went…….bear after bear after bear. They had to be bears, not any other kind of stuffed toy – and they had to be touching at all times. I took my role as bear police very seriously (I suspect there will be children in the school playground this week pointing at me saying ‘there’s that nasty lady who shouted at us to keep away from the bears’!!) but we couldn’t risk the line being broken.

Credit: Anthony Hill

Then, there was some real excitement  – someone really important had arrived at the attempt. IT WAS FINLAY!!!! The whole ‘wifi is down’ had been a ruse, in fact the Church family were bringing Finlay out of hospital! So 3 days after 7 hour brain surgery, he’d done so well, he’d been allowed out – and he was able to come and join us. Cue LOADS more weeping from me and the rest of the team!!

He was well enough to lay some bears – here he is with one of our independent witnesses, having hit the 7,000 marker!

Fin and Nigel

and here he is ‘feeding’ bears to his Mum!


Still we were laying bears – those that had been donated over recent weeks by generous people all over the country – but also brought along on the day.


We’d even sourced a generator and some floodlights in case we needed to keep laying after it went dark, and were on our 3rd pair of independent witnesses!!


But then – the end was in sight. And we’d done it – laid every bear and completely annihilated the existing world record!! Obviously I was weeping far too much to actually take any photos as Fin’s siblings laid the last few bears and then Fin himself laid the final bear………

[Edited to add – thankfully my husband wasn’t such an emotional wreck and took photos of Fin’s younger siblings laying the penultimate bear – and Fin with the final one – phew!!!]





These are photos from our phones, so not the best quality in the world, but I think give a really good feel for the day. It was an amazing day to be part of – and really highlighted how much the entire community is behind Fin and his family. All of the evidence will be sent off to Guinness for them to check and hopefully issue Fin his certificate – and getting in the printed edition of the Guinness Book of World Records itself is his dream.

But the record attempt was only part of it – the main reason was to raise awareness and funds for Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Brain Tumour Research – so if you feel inspired to donate, the Just Giving pages are still accepting!

It’s now the morning after the day before.  My husband and I (and I expect other people around the village) are struggling to walk today (my Fitbit shows I walked 12 miles yesterday – I could have just done the Birmingham 10k – which was also on yesterday – twice instead!!).  The longest time I sat down in the 14 hours we were there yesterday was for a wee!!  We also have 15,534 wet teddy bears to dry and distribute to the various charities who have supported us – but pretty soon it won’t be ‘All About the Bears‘ anymore……………..

The category for The Gallery over on the Sticky Fingers blog this week is ‘one day in May’- and this is one day in May that I will never, ever forget!

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery