No vegetarians in this house!

3 year old, on our way to McDonald’s to have a post dentist visit treat (AKA Mummy CBA to cook and it was en route home) announced:

“Mummy, do you know how you make chicken nuggets? You chase a real life chicken around. Bash it on the head with something hard until it dies. Then chop it up and cook it in the oven.”

Whilst she missed the breading of the meat – I reckon that was a fair understanding of the food preparation process. Although maybe not McDonald’s……

4 year old, in response:

“Mummy, do you know how you make crackling? You peel off the pig’s skin and cook it in the oven”

I am obviously recording this for posterity – and for when they decide as teenagers that they want to be veggies…………

Guest Blog: What is strength?

Last year my lovely friend Emily wrote a Guest Blog. Today she sent me an email with what you’re about to read, and asked if I wanted to share it.  I couldn’t be more proud to share it with you all, and honoured that Em asked me to post it.

Lots of love to Emily – and Finlay. xx

What is strength?

An odd subject for a blog I grant you, but an issue that has been buzzing around my head just lately – begging to be addressed.  So here we go…

I like to think I am a fairly strong person.  Before children, when I was young, carefree and drinking wine with my work colleagues in various London bars, I used to think of strength as just physical.  Can I lift that heavy box?  Of course.  Can I re-arrange a conference room, moving various chairs and tables? Hell yes!  Can I renovate a dilapidated house, stripping wallpaper and knocking down walls?  No problemo!

Strength was measured by exertion.  My working hours were long, my social life packed.  I thought I was busy.  And then I had kids…

A 28 hour labour will make you reassess strength.  Now I discovered that any physical tiredness I once felt before kids was nothing compared to the intense toil of motherhood.  Sleepless nights, sore leaky boobs, the drain of the emotion that comes with being a mum. And the worry!  How many situations of impending doom can one person imagine?  What if he falls out of the open car window as we are driving along.  Hang on, have I even put him in the car?  What if a dog attacks him when we are at the local park?  And on, and on.  Endlessly.  Now strength was measured mentally.  Emotionally.  Could I get through another day without sobbing at a really intense episode of Bob the Builder?  Unlikely.  Sometimes Bob’s deadlines are really cutting it fine!

Life with children is fun, full and hectic!  Soft-play centres are my new drinking establishments of choice (often tea and a biscuit).  Football on a Sunday my new overtime.  My strength comes from my children, shuttling them to various activities, seeing them have a good time.  Life is pretty great.

But this last year has tested my strength even more.  Just twelve short months ago, a very close friend was dealt the most devastating of news.  Her gorgeous little boy, Finlay was diagnosed with a Grade 4 Glioblastoma Brain Tumour.  Fin has gone through brain surgery twice, has endured chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a clinical trial.  He is about to embark on a second round of gruelling radiotherapy and he is, quite simply, my new hero.  My new definition of strength.

Because throughout this horrible journey, Fin has been truly amazing.  He is brave – overcoming his fear of cannulas; funny –  ‘Why can’t I eat white bread!?’;  and truly inspirational – he has raised over £35K including gift aid for Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Brain Tumour Research and also broken a Guinness World Record!  And still he goes to school, trains for his black belt in karate and continues to be a kind and caring little boy. Oh, and did I mention the Pride of Britain nomination?  Put simply – He rocks!

Of course, there have been dark moments.  This is hell on earth and any parent’s worst nightmare, but during this most horrific of times there have also been moments of sheer beauty – ones that will be treasured forever.  Acts of kindness, generosity and friendship that have gone above and beyond.  People are good, and I have seen that goodness in abundance.

Just recently I asked my lovely Facebook friends to donate just £1 each to try and boost Fin’s fundraising to over the £30k mark.  And I was staggered at the response.  Friends I hadn’t spoken to in years donated.  Colleagues who don’t know Fin, but who know me, digging deep, helping him to smash his target! Thank you my lovely ones – your kindness is appreciated more than you know.  And this got me thinking again about strength and what it really means.

Because ultimately, more and more, I realise that strength comes from love.  I worked hard at my career, because I loved my job.  I got through a gruelling birth and the pitfalls of parenting because I love my children.  And our love for Finlay makes him strong.  And he is loved more than he will ever know.

There is still a long way to go for Fin on his journey.  Every day brings extreme highs and lows – like the worst rollercoaster in the entire world.  Ever.  But his amazing family will continue to fight for him, because they love him.  As friends, we will continue to support them, because we love them.  And if you are reading this, you can help too.  You can #fundthefight to help find a cure for horrible brain cancer, and make sure that no other family, no other lovely children like Fin, have to prove how amazingly strong they are.

You can donate any amount to Fin’s fund here and you can follow his journey on his Facebook page.

Thank you xxx

Book Review: Here Come The Girls by Milly Johnson

Here Come The Girls

“Shirley Valentine, eat your heart out
Ven, Roz, Olive and Frankie have been friends since school. They day-dreamed of glorious futures, full of riches, romance and fabulous jobs. The world would be their oyster.Twenty-five years later, Olive cleans other people’s houses to support her lazy, out-of-work husband and his ailing mother. Roz cannot show her kind, caring husband Manus any love because her philandering ex has left her trust in shreds. And she and Frankie have fallen out big time.But Ven is determined to reunite her friends and realise the dream they had of taking a cruise before they hit forty. Before they know it, the four of them are far from home, on the high seas. But can blue skies, hot sun and sixteen days of luxury and indulgence distract from the tension and loneliness that await their return?”

It is not often I write a bad review of a book – mostly because I’m really selective about what I read so I don’t waste time on rubbish books – but I downloaded this for holiday, based on Amazon reviews and because it was cheap. I will not use this basis again.

The story was set on a cruise and was dull and repetitive (which is kind of how I expect a cruise would be?!?) There was lots of detail about what people were eating every meal – but not in an ‘amazingly described, making you desperate to share such a fabulous meal’ kind of way – more in a complete regurgitation of the menu in list format. It was the same with the descriptions of outfits – BORING.

The characters were just quite dull. They were supposed to be celebrating one of their 40ths – but it felt like they were all a decade plus older at least.

The vocabulary was often repetitive and it just felt badly written, and the authors obsession with the women burping was just bizarre.

It felt like a very poor self published novel – one where every middle aged woman thinks they have a book in them, but some of them definitely shouldn’t bother. I was stunned that Milly Johnson has written many books and is so highly praised in multiple reviews. Just because you aren’t writing high brow fiction doesn’t mean it should be slapdash and poor quality – lots of other authors in this genre manage to write excellent books.

This is a book I would not recommend, and I won’t be searching out any more by the same author. Thank goodness ‘The Girls’ have gone………

Book Review: Before I Go by Colleen Oakley

Before I Go

“Her time is running out. How can Daisy ensure that Jack will live happily ever after? On the eve of what was supposed to be a triumphant ‘Cancerversary’ with her husband Jack to celebrate three years of good health, Daisy suffers a devastating blow: her doctor tells her that the cancer is back, but this time it’s unstoppable. Death is a frightening prospect – but not because she’s afraid for herself. She’s terrified of what will happen to her brilliant but charmingly helpless husband when she’s no longer there to take care of him. It’s this fear that keeps her up at night, until she stumbles on the solution: she has to find him another wife. With a singular determination, Daisy searches for Jack’s perfect match. But as the thought of her husband with another woman becomes all too real, Daisy is forced to decide what’s more important in the short amount of time she has left: her husband’s happiness – or her own?”

I was lent this book by a friend whose son is having treatment for a brain tumour, and read it by the pool next to Rio Ferdinand and his kids on holiday 3 weeks after losing their wife / mum to cancer – so I suspected it was going to be a sobfest for me before I even started.

This book is really good. Obviously it is dealing with an emotive and sad topic – but it does it with humour, and I think realism. As a geek who likes to learn things – I was pleased to see the technical medical things in their as well as the emotional rollercoaster.  At times you want to sit Daisy and Jack down and MAKE them talk things through – but to be in  their positions must be horrific.

I thought the book was well written and engaging and didn’t shy away from a very difficult topic.

If you like Jo Jo Moyes, I would suggest this is of a very similar ilk.

But have tissues to hand………

Book Review: The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl On The Train

This had been top of the best sellers list for a while – so I became a sheep and bought it to read on holiday.  It was very popular around the pool too (thankfully not everyone reads Kindles, so you can still be nosy about what other people are choosing!!)

This is the Amazon blurb:

“Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.

Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.

Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…”

The book starts from Rachel’s point of view – now I know she’s a barely functioning alcoholic – but I still wanted to slap her – a lot!  Some of the choices she makes are inexplicable.

It also is told from 2 other female perspectives – Megan (who Rachel had christened ‘Jess’ when being a peeping Tom from the train) and Anna (who is now married to Rachel’s ex husband).  But not a single one of them was likeable.  The stories intertwine, jumping backwards and forwards in time – as is fairly popular in this genre of book.

The story is also reasonably predictable.  I guessed fairly early on in the book who the ‘baddie’ was – although not the exact details of how it would end – and just waited for that to be borne out.  Having said that, the lady next to me on her sunlounger hadn’t guessed at all and was pinning it on one of the ‘red herrings’ until quite near the end.

This has been described as being like ‘Gone Girl’ and there were some real similarities for me – mostly that I didn’t particularly like any of the characters and that it had been overhyped by the media!

Den building – Wicked Wednesday 3 June 2015

So – the 3 kids not back to school today were supposed to be helping with the unpacking. Instead they used the empty suitcases to construct a wall, and then practically every pillow and quilt in the house – and a freakishly large teddy –  to make a comfy den to all lie in. But at least they were all getting along…….


This is my entry for this week’s Wicked Wednesday – do pop across and see other people’s less than perfect houses / children!