Scrubbing Brushes and Tabards

I remember my Nanny and Grandfather Holliday with the most incredible amount of love. They were the most enormous influence in my life and I know my siblings and cousins are with me on this.

My Nan encouraged my love for the arts, ballet and musicals. I remember fondly watching Fred and Ginger movies and playing records on her radiogram whilst dancing around the house with pots and pans as our tuneful instruments. She loved all sports too and my brother knowledge and skill in cricket, football and golf were primarily passed on from my Nan’s love of sport too.

Her influence on my interest in politics started with basically fancying Paddy Ashdown! But her sense of fairness and community fuelled my love of the Liberal Party.

I get so caught up with my own problems that helping others is often difficult to do, but with the cut in funding, this is something we can all do to help our Communities.

Unusual for their day, my Nan was a divorcee with a child, the love story whilst in service with my Grandfather is worthy of a movie but with her second marriage came a second pregnancy and she knew her time in service must come to an end. My Nanny and Grandfather with 2 children were offered a Council house in Rivenhall and they were overjoyed and hugely grateful for the fortune of having signed a tenancy to this house.

They moved a few times, I remember Hall Rise with fondness, birthday parties and having an almost state burial march around the brick shed for igipig the guinea pig. Their house was always immaculate and I loved school holidays where I could spend a day with my Nanny on her wash day with the twin tub. The pride in their property puts us to shame really and even though I am a bit of a clean freak, Nanny and Grandfathers home was always clean, homely and always smelt of delicious baking, I am embarrassed to say I am a terrible cook so didn’t inherit this quality.

My Grandfather was the kindest person I have ever met, I remember looking up to him so much and the turnout at his funeral was a testament to the character that he was, a gentle giant, a gentleman. Their last council house was in Witham in a retirement bungalow and as always was homely; it almost cuddled you as you walked in the door. But the garden was my grandfather’s domain and was a thing of beauty. Firstly there was the peach tree, this was tended with love and care and the produce was like nothing I have tasted, no peach has tasted the same and abit like my Nan’s Christmas Pudding, we have been totally spoilt and have been unable to recreated, or even get close to how the peaches tasted and how my Nanas Christmas pudding tasted.

The front garden had 6 hydrangea bushes that were beautiful, he tended them with so much love and attention, Grandfather was very proud these and his beautiful roses and their front garden were a beautiful. I remember my Nan in a curler, hairnet and tabard scrubbing her doorstep daily, the polished Cardinal Red doorstep was a lovely welcome. They were so proud of their house and so grateful for what they had been given.

So fast forward 30 years and we are now in an age where our grass verges cannot get cut purely because the Council budget has been cut and there isn’t money in the pot to do this. I drive along, in the most amazing part of the country and I am so saddened by the decline in our verges but also in the state of our own front gardens.

So is there something we can all do? Could we start tending to what is simply on our doorstep. So if there is a grass verge that maybe was maintained but isn’t any more, can you cut it?? If there is an elderly neighbour who can no longer tend to their garden, could you help??

I have a few things I am thinking about to help my local area but really think this is something we could all do so easily even a small offer of help could make a massive difference. I understand that it is so frustrating when previously some verges had been on the agenda and included in a budget before but I also understands that our local councils are beholden to the cuts from central government, so these decisions are unlikely to be changed, therefore I am happy to suck it up and help where I can and help keep our villages beautiful, but we all need to be in it together – are you with me on this? Can you help me with this as if I am honest I have no idea where to start!! If you have any ideas how I can encourage others to join my plight please please email with information and advice. Let’s keep our Country beautiful x

 

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A day out in Bovey Tracey

DSC_3959 DSC_3943 DSC_3939On my quest to not become bankrupt by the end of the Summer hols, I am taking the boys on free days out. Roughly a £20 per week budget to include parking and hopefully an ice cream!

We headed to Bovey Park , I had crammed the boys bikes into the boot of our rather tiny car and persuaded my friend that this was going to be a lovely day out.

The boys were off… cycling around the grounds and then headed for the very well equipped park, it was busy but it was great to see all the other children enjoying their summer.

A refuel (picnic) and a bit of tree climbing then we decided to check out the skate park, now this was great for all ages and the older kids really helped the younger ones and were aware that they had no awareness. This is a concrete skate park, very smooth and very safe with curved corners and a selection of ramps to suit everyone. When the boys had tired of their bikes they joined some other children to just run and slide down the ramps, they had a ball!

Now from here you can carry on walking through the park past the outdoor gym and you will arrive at Parke, the National Trust site where there are walks for every visitor. One walk reminds me of where Victoria Plum lived and where fairies still might…. Fallen trees make great ‘dinosaur bones’ and there are often places along the river that give you a little river bank ‘beach’ to play on too.

We didn’t do this! But instead walked around the corner to Bovey Tracey Heritage Trust, this may not suit some people but for my railway children this was “cool” in the words of my 5 year old. There is a train carriage that you can go in and in the actual centre the railway memorabilia was looked at in awe along with the model railway and they loved the craft area. The volunteers were lovely and really helpful. It was a free attraction though I would suggest adding a pound or two to the pot. We left with the promise to return another day and headed around the corner to the Jolly Roger. This is a super shop that sells life size models to mainly businesses but anyone can purchase their stock. There is a huge Christmas selection, all the movie stars and a great selection of dinosaurs. The owners freely allow the public to walk through and the boys love visiting.

So by this point it is nearly 2.30pm and we head back to my friends for dinner and the children wear themselves out even more in the garden. Another perfect day x

Cost: £2 and this was the donation to the Heritage Centre. We even managed free parking.

 

Am I a good Mummy??

If I could get all the money I have spent on books about parenting in the last five and a half years back I have worked out, roughly, that I could take the boys to Lego land with an overnight stay and a gift from the gift shop and food out. The amount of time in addition to reading these spent on the internet checking and double checking that I have made the right decision could give me weeks more time back where I could have sorted out my damn kitchen and bedroom cupboards to perfection.

I kind of had this smugness about being a mother when I finally got to the ‘safe’ bit of pregnancy I honestly thought that I was going to be a natural. I wanted to breast feed for at least six month, use cloth nappies ban all plastic toys and baby wear for as long as I could. What actually happened was entirely the opposite, I had an emergency section, I couldn’t breastfeed (which is a whole other story and I was mortified that my milk never came in) I sold the cloth nappies after about 4 weeks still in their wrappers, and when my baby was a mere four months old I invested in a jumperoo, this incredible contraction to amuse my baby because I didn’t have a clue how to do this myself.

The book buying had already began, contented baby, baby whisperer to name but a few, I paid for a woman who I had never met who didn’t know my baby £50 to look at my routine as I didn’t trust that I was doing the right thing. Every step, every milestone I got through by researching, buying literature, joining every forum I could find and asking my friends (who think I am absolutely la la most of the time I am sure) and I still do over five years on.

I met with my two closest and oldest friends a few nights ago, they have little babies so I offered to drive so that they could have a glass of wine and it was the loveliest and funniest evening. Friend no1, turned up feeling triumphant that she had managed bus, train, ferry with her five year old and 12 week baby. Her way to build confidence is to do the most difficult thing that she can to prove that she can, anything less will be a breeze. Friend no2 turned up with pad and pen wanting to make an itinerary to help her through the summer hols with a 3 year old and a 9 month old. Me, I have a daily plan for every day of the holidays in a spreadsheet that covers all areas of learning that I can think of, this has taken months and heaps of research as it just doesn’t come naturally, it has to be that way so that I know I am doing the best I can for my boys.

The last month has seen the start of Mummy TuTu and I have done this not because I want to shout to the world how frickin’ awesome I am at this but to actually say I do not trust one ounce of my parenting skills, in fact I think I am pretty rubbish, I shout way too much, my cooking is diabolical, and I have to Google everything from poo consistency to behaviour as I don’t seem to be able to get the right answer with my own judgement.

So my posts aren’t pretentious look at me posts, what I hope they are is support and advice to other mummies that might be thinking the same x

p.s. This month I have three new books about peaceful parenting, sibling rivalry and how to be a happy family ………

Summer of Science – Dancing Raisins

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Ingredients – Glass , Baking Powder, Vinegar (white), Raisins or any dried fruit

Here is what to do:

Fill glass ¾ full of hot water (just tap hot works)

Add 2 tbsp of baking powder and stir until it dissolves

Plop in some raisins

Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar

Explanation

Mixing vinegar and baking powder makes a gas. Bubbles of gas stick to the raisins which makes it float to the top of the glass. The bubbles burst at the top and the raisin drops to the bottom. This happens over and over and looks like the raisins are dancing.

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New word of the day

Dissolve – disappears into liquid (like magic!)

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Bellever Day 25th July 2015 – Is it as beautiful as Heaven??

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After the usual Saturday morning swimming lessons and a quick trip to the barbers we loaded up the car for a day and headed to the most beautiful place, Bellever Forest.

During Chicken Pox week in May, I rediscovered my love for the Moors and spent our week in isolation finding beautiful spots (excuse the pun) away from humans… On our 5th pox day things were getting a little scabbier and we decided to stop at Postbridge, the boys had never been there and I am so embarrassed to say that after 15 years living in Devon, neither had I.

We had an amazing day; the Post Office stores served gorgeous Langage local ice cream and also sold very reasonably priced coffee and fishing nets!! The boys spent the day in the river, playing in the long grass and crossing the troll bridge… I had spotted in their window a flyer for Bellever Day and added the date to my diary.

We left deciding to take a quick peep at the Bellever Forest *red faced embarrassment as I had never been here before either* and the boys response was adorable, a big WOW from Skinny legs and Big Foot asked whether this was as beautiful as heaven which was met with the biggest bear hug from his Mummy!

I digress (I usually do..) Saturday morning the Sun was shining and as we arrived we drove past the marvellous stalls at Postbridge and started our day with a picnic at the forest. It was glorious, we all got a tad soggy, swung on a rope swing, made friends with other families as our children played in the water together.

We then ventured down to Postbridge and the boys had a great time creating bronze age weaving, Sam loved this and for a 3 year old did a pretty good job (over, under, over, under), Tobes watched how to make Bronze though was convinced it was gold and also became a member of the Dartmoor National Park Ranger Ralph club. There was so much to do for children of all ages but also the adults had a fun filled day too.

It really was very special, a fantastic day and would recommend that as soon as I get next year’s date, you put this in your diary – awesome!DSC_3826DSC_3797

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Tear ducts in overdrive… Reception – Done!

How can it be that this academic year finishes tomorrow and my boy migrates from Maple to Willow.   The tearful facebook status of a year ago seems so long ago and whilst it has had emotional points, the pride I have from being this amazing little creature’s parent makes my boy my biggest teacher and my inspiration to try and be the very best Mummy that I can be.

I have spent this evening writing teacher cards and trying to put into words how thankful I am to bigfoots school for the most incredible introduction to his schooling . I mean how do you put into words how grateful you are for encouraging, nurturing and inspiring my precious boy.

It has been a tricky year in that it has highlighted a few quirks that bigfoot has, he is a worrier and can tie himself in knots worrying, but this and other quirks make him the caring little (big) lad that he is. He is fiercely loyal to his close friends and in school is quiet, well behaved and kind (I am certain they would be surprised by his loud boisterous behaviour at home!).

Every parents evening starts, “your dear boy” and I puff my chest out with pride at the amazing little man he is becoming. Tobes tries so hard, I mean almost every day for the last year he takes the register at home * thank you to the school office for sending home the template and the ‘actual’ pens his teachers use (all the biros I bought just weren’t right)*.   He loves writing at home, almost constantly and I even had to get him a little numicon set even though in general I am opposed to plastic kids stuff in the house.

His teachers totally ‘got’ him, they understood my boy and put into place the most amazing support that has made Reception so superb, has helped him cope better with his emotions and is sending him into year one with a skip in his step and a new found confidence.

So as a worrier of a worrier, yes I am indeed in a panic about Year one and how my boy is going to progress, but I know deep down that whatever challenges his next year brings he will continue to be the kind, caring Toby Bear and I will continue to be the proudest Mummy on this planet!

Bellever Day – 25th July 2015 11am-4pm

Bellever

Discover more about Dartmoor’s past at this annual event to celebrate the Festival of British Archaeology. A range of free activities during the day to include: • Flint knapping • Prehistoric corn grinding • Clay pot and clay bead making • Tin stud making • Basketry and weaving workshops • Wood turning and craft skills • Bronze casting and Bronze Age weapon handing • Forging and wild asprin tea party • Music of Ancient Dartmoor • Guided walk to see reconstructed hut circle • Guided archaeological walks • Mini hut circle building • Games, dressing up and History Hunter quiz • Life, Death and Landscape Exhibition including Whitehorse Hill Discovery (replica objects) Parking is available in the Forestry Commission car park and by the visitor centre.
Location National Park Visitor centre, Postbridge Booking: No Charge: Free
Contact details for further information: www.dartmoor.gov.uk or tel:01822 890414

Can we do something for each other??

I read an interesting article asking for a favour and it really touched a nerve about how I feel sometimes but also it is something that must affect so many others so I thought maybe we can all help by doing something pretty simple.

The whole first year of Toby’s schooling I have not taken him or picked him up as I work full time and I am lucky enough to have a fantastic (and I mean flippin’ fantastic) childminder and Grandparents that do this for me. However, throw into the equation cancer and a poorly Grandad and everything had to be re-arranged, my work allowed unpaid leave one day a week and the guilt I have felt from not doing the school runs subsided just a little as I finally felt like a ‘proper’ mummy.

Now, I am really very lucky, not only is the school fabulous but the mummies are too (and Grannies, Grandads, Auntie Uncles etc etc) but that didn’t stop me from feeling uncomfortable in this new situation. I turn into this weird gabbling woman with incurable verbal diarrhoea and as I walk out of the playground I just want to go and head butt the nearest tree as I feel so stupid having said the most ridiculous things!! On the surface I guess I come across as reasonably confident but if you could hear the little people in my head questioning my every move you may think differently.

So, can we do something for each other … can you take a little and look around and if you see someone that looks a little uncomfortable or someone that has just moved to the area, could you do something for them, can we give a reassuring smile, go and have a chat, I mean I am not asking for us all to form a lifelong friendship (though this could potentially be the case) and have play dates all the time, but a little reassurance would go a long long way.

 

Hexworthy Bridge, Dartmoor

We went with the boys and there is a nice pool deep enough to swim but with shallower areas for small children to paddle in. There were also fish to watch (boys tried to catch with a bucket!) and a little shingle island.  Lovely on a summers day.

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Why Science???

Why Science??

You see my Tobes struggles in certain situations but with the help of his incredible school he has overcome a great deal in the last year, his first year of schooling. Behaviour is not an issue, his recent report talks about my quiet, sensitive, kind well behaved boy (puffs up my chest with pride for my Tobes) but he does need help coping with anxiety and new situations.

Toby is best described as quirky and in my opinion quirky is fabulous!

But how can I help him with his confidence over the summer, the confidence to speak up in class, to think about how to solve problemsto form his own opinions instead of nodding along with others?

I found watching him suffer from social anxiety and the coping strategies he used heartbreaking. But a few months on and lots of confidence building and new strategies in place at school and we are breaking up for the summer with a much less anxious child.

Science is what I came up with, and I need to learn to ask Why? to give my boys the opportunity to answer (I have a terrible habit of answering for them).

Science teaches children about life, it involves talking and listening, it sparks ideas in the growing minds and plants the first seeds to help them create solutions to problems. So the plan for my Summer of Science started….