Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas Eve and there's so much to be thankful for

It's shaping up to be another merry Christmas!

The carrots, mince pies and brandy sit half eaten upon the hearth as freshly laid welly boot footprints stand in the ash of the smouldering fire. Simon and I have munched ourselves silly feasting upon the carpet picnic of an exquisite hamper that his work delivered. So so content, we are about to tip toe Santa's presence in to where our sleeping wonderbabes lie up above dreaming of sugarplums and all things deliciously Christmassy. All of us happy in our anticipation, and the new dawn. 

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Nativity is davinity

Esme's nativity was divine. It really was. She looked like an angel. Although she played a traveller. A traveller! Not a spoken part, nor an acting part come to that, but a walk on part. But hey, she walked on brilliantly. She also knew all the words to the songs and managed not to pick her nose once; so I'm a proud mum. Albeit a proud mum that has just a teeny weeny bit of Mary envy.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Fairytale of Christmas

We're currently bopping along to this song - one of the best ever Christmas songs of all time, and that is saying something. God bless Kirsty Maccoll.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

12 days to Christmas (with a mischievous toddler in tow)

Day 1: Put the tree up and admire it's beauty.

Day 2: Place presents that are already received around the foot of the tree, and admire it some more.

Day 3: Remove all the presents from around the tree until ready to open.

Day 4: Move the tree to a more secure location.

Day 5: Try to decipher which is the tree and which is Sofia Faith, for every time she goes anywhere near it, she ends up with more and more lametta tinsel attached to her.

Day 6: Notice that what was a ton of lametta tinsel, is now a few strands.

Day 7: Spend the entire time chasing Sofia Faith who is wandering with baubles, back and forth.

Day 8: Move the baubles to higher branches well out of her reach.

Day 9: Move all remaining dec's to higher branches well out of her reach.

Day 10: Introduce some toddler friendly dec's to the tree at Sofia Faith's level.

Day 11: Remove the toddler unfriendly dec's

Day 12: Admire the tree in its half-dressed state, and then admire my beautiful and mischievous 15MO

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Easy chocolate biscuit bites for Christmas (you won't even need your oven).

No cook chocolate biscuit bites

3 oz ginger biscuits
3 oz digestive biscuits
4 oz milk choc
4 oz Plain choc
4 oz golden syrup
3 oz unsalted butter
2.5 oz dried apricots, finely chopped
1.5 oz raisins, cut in half
1 oz Rice crispies

Lightly grease and line a 20cm 8inch square shallow tin (or whatever you have in the cupboard, I used a lasagna dish). Break the biscuits in to pieces in a plastic bag and then crush with a rolling pin.

Melt choc, syrup and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir in the biscuit crumbs and when coated, stir in the apricots, raisins and crispy rice.

Spoon the mixture in to the prepared tin and level the surface by pressing down with a potato masher. Leave to cool, then chill in the fridge for 1 hour before cutting in to small squares. Fill your boots!

Friday, 7 December 2012

This weekend...

We thoroughly recommend:

Ice skating! Such fun, such fun! Here we are in Brighton - with the amazing Pavilion playing host. Blue skies help enormously, obviously, but what a brilliant (and back-breaking) thing to do with an adventurous 4YO. 
She's talked about it ever since.

"Argghhh, I can't see."

(Sessions are one hour long)
Adults From £10
Children under 12 From £7
Family £34
Tickets available from
0844 847 2352

Get your southern skates on also at Hampton Court (, Royal Windsor Ice rink ('s-on/windsor-on-ice), Winchester Cathedral (, Somerset House, London (, and Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park (

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Teatime musings of a 4YO

So over food this evening Esme Grace, (4YO) says, "Mummy, I'm actually using the word actually." A bit later, she announced, "Mummy, I'm definitely using the word definitely." 

Clearly simple to you and I, yet such a big thing for her. Ah, my little girl is growing up and using grown up language. She then moved on to tell me that duck rhymed with fuck. Such a shame as up until that moment, it felt like I was in a Charlie and Lola cartoon.

NB: Esme actually and definitely has not a clue about the word f**k. (I think hope anyway).

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

That artistic hand take 2

In addition to the last post That artistic hand, Esme has changed her mind... (it's a 4YO's prerogative).

Over breakfast I showed Esme her picture in blog format. (Said picture again)

Here's the conversation that followed...

e: Mummy, why does the giant and his pet snail look smaller on your computer?
m: What do you mean, giant and his pet snail? Isn't that a picture of Mummy?
e: No, I just said that before, it is actually a giant and his pet snail. 

I obviously offered an explanation to Esme on how her creation came to look smaller. 
But I did a jig around the lounge first.

LATEST FRIDGE ART & that artistic hand

Esme's latest picture of me is worrying. I am not sure what bothers me more... that hand, the fact that she sees me as the female equivalent of Mr Strong, or the giant snail that is about to crawl between my legs. Brilliant.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

A poetic moment - clearly I'm craving some space!

The Australian Cowboy 


Lots of it.


Is it any wonder that the beautiful landscape of the outback creates beautiful people?

The intricate designs left by the wind in the desert sands are reflected in the weathered and lined face of the cattle musterer.
Old before his years, he is a nice old guy for a younger man: quiet, unobtrusive.

Alone, but not lonely, he is to be found amid his orange vastness of sand, with his dog, his horse, his cattle, his hundred’s of miles and his thoughts.


Lots of it.


In the daytime, minus the storms, the endless sky, like a sea above, is the most incredible sapphire, and only the flocks of galahs can pierce pink upon it, or the cock-a-teels, white. Likewise their cries maybe the only noise to invade this serenity, teasing one another over the hushed herd. Even his dog rarely barks, finding other ways to communicate.

Against the jewel sky, the brick red pindan earth strikes a discord of the most unique kind, only nature can be this inventive and successful.


Littered with termite mounds and silver spinifex.
The night sky he sleeps under, is all the comfort he needs.
Everywhere here is his oasis.


Lots of it.


He thinks a lot.

His cattle are grazing. They’ve found a water hole and the heat of the day, is evaporating.

The cattle musterer, slips silently down off his black smooth horse, giving her an affectionate, firm slap.

Reaching his worn palms into a blue-jeaned pouch, he produces a red kerchief, which he drags along his perspiring brow.

He squints into the lowering sun, and dips his Akubra, until he can barely see past its adored brim.

The dust rises as the huge herds push forward for the now churned-up wet.

In another week or so he and his cattle will be at a station Northwest of the Territory. Population: approximately ten, and that will suit him just fine.

Somewhere he can have a cold shower and a cold beer and a chair.
Just to sit, contemplate and dream. 
He’s saving up for a farm, his own ranch in the Pilbarra. For him and his dog.

And just a lot more time.

I've linked this piece up with: 

Sunday, 2 December 2012

The best weekend

Meeting Santa at the school Christmas fayre - He was the real one Mummy.

The Mere's Christmas market, festive, festive, festive 

Buckets of vin rouge

Inside and in front of a roaring fire, all the while it's freezing outdoors

Roast lamb - Rosemary's not shy

Toasted marshmallows to boot

Kids early in bed with smiles on scrubbed faces

Two in a tub - hot, hot, hot bath with scented candles

Topped with fresh sheets and early night

Ah, they don't come much better x

Friday, 30 November 2012

Thank you

I've had an amazing response to the miscarriage piece I posted yesterday. Thanks for all the support - and as my gorgeous 4YO Esme would say, 'sharing is caring.' If it may have helped just one other person through a difficult time, then it was definitely worth writing...

Thursday, 29 November 2012

A little more detail (6) & the pain of miscarriage

Grief & Loss: Miscarriage

So where were we... oh yes, life was great; Simon and I had adapted to being a family. And then, as our baby Esme turned one, we discovered that rather unexpectedly, our now settled threesome was to become four. I was pregnant again. 

We got our heads around the news really quickly and were happy at the thought of having babies so close together. It made perfect sense. So just as it all seemed to fit, and just as Simon and I were gearing up to share our jubilation, rather sadly, we discovered that we weren't expecting anymore; that we had lost our baby... 

I was 37 years old and eleven weeks into my second pregnancy when I miscarried. And frankly, if I had known I was bleeding I would never have been leaping around at the park like a lunatic that afternoon, but Esme (fourteen months old then) and I, were having so much fun. There really was so much to be happy about. It was only when I got home a couple of hours later, that I saw the blood in my underwear. I was mortified.

I text Simon to ask if he was on his way home from work and then put Cbeebies on and my feet up. I thought if it was a placental bleed then some rest could make all the difference and it would all go away.

I had a midwife’s appointment the next morning so I wasn’t about to call them in a panic. I was strangely calm. Probably because I already knew that there was nothing I could do and it wasn’t a placental bleed at all. It was a miscarriage and it was underway. How could I know?

My hair was the biggest give away. Most pregnant women find that their hair is beautiful when they are expecting. Not me. My hair goes brittle and dry and quite literally stands up. And as I looked in the mirror that morning, I thought, my hair looks nice today. Sure enough, it was soft and glossy, back to normal. Come to think of it, all my nails had broken a few days before as well.

Throughout the ten weeks I hadn't suffered with any obvious pregnancy symptoms at all. With Esme, nausea had crippled me in the first trimester so I hung on to a comment a friend had made, how in her pregnancy she hadn’t felt anything. After all, every pregnancy was different. But lying on the sofa late that afternoon, I remember thinking my bump ought to be rock hard; not spongy.

The stats show that miscarriage is far more common than we realise. Charlotte Forder, the founder of Babyloss, a charitable organisation offering forums for mums to share and remember, says, ‘It’s shocking but 1 in 4 pregnancies miscarry, although it’s probably 1 in 3 with all the miscarriages that go unreported.’ The facts do not make the realisation any easier.

My midwife had made an appointment for an emergency scan at the hospital and Simon and I waited nervously. Then the sonographer asked me some questions about the bleeding. She was softly spoken and I remember thinking she was the perfect person to do that job.

She couldn’t see anything at all and needed to do an internal scan. I squeezed Simon’s hand as a blob appeared on the screen. “Is that the baby?” I asked. I answered myself, “I know that’s the baby.” The sonographer gently hushed me, telling me that she was going to take some measurements and when she had finished she would explain everything to me. I knew it was hopeless.

The baby was measuring the size of a five or six week pregnancy and they were unable to pick up a heartbeat, this meant they could not tell if it was a viable pregnancy, in case I had got my dates wrong. Legally they could not do anything at this point other than make another appointment for a scan the following week.

There was no way my dates were wrong and I knew the baby had not developed beyond the five or six week mark. My tears began to fall as Simon and I were led in to a quiet side room. I remember looking at the tissues on the coffee table and wondering of the countless others that had gone in to this room before. Another nurse came to talk to us. She explained it was likely that I would miscarry before I came back in a week as I was already bleeding, but that if I didn’t then I would be offered surgery.

We made a few phone calls to the close family we had told and then went home and packed up all my maternity clothes. For some reason it was essential that I do all of the practical things right away. The next thing was to eat. And as I sat down to my sandwich, grief overcame me. I began to sob and shake as the shock sunk in.

We went to pick up Esme from a friend who had been looking after her. I couldn’t get to her little self quick enough. She toddled up saying, “Mummy, Daddy,”’ I held her so tightly. I can’t begin to explain how I suddenly loved her more fiercely than ever.

The three of us went for a long walk in the woods. It was a beautiful Autumnal day. Clear and crisp. I marched on, feeling no pain, just wondering when it would all happen. When I would lose our baby.

That was weird, waiting for it. Esme was a Godsend; she was such a great distraction. We had a good afternoon and then that evening, the pain started. I was on the loo for a couple of hours as the blood trailed out of me. Afterwards, Simon and I sat on the sofa together, numb.

My mum was coming up the following day to have Esme and to give Simon and I some time to reflect. It was all such a shock. In my first pregnancy I had told everyone by six weeks, not bothering to really take care of myself, having a few glasses of wine. This time everything was different, ironically I’d done everything by the book.

Simon and I went out for a few hours. Physically, I had been feeling well, but in the car a sudden backache started up. I assumed it was normal. Simon went to get a haircut and I went in to a gift shop to browse. And this is where I was when without warning, the contractions started. Simon reappeared and led me to the car and home.

Esme was so happy to see us come through the door and cruelly I had to say hi and disappear straight upstairs to the bathroom. There was so much blood. And the contractions were coming non-stop. This was a shocker. I had thought it had all happened the night before and was done with. But in actual fact, the night before had been nothing in comparison to what the next three hours were to bring. The pain was intense. And sadly, it was like giving birth with nothing to hold at the end of it.

The following day Simon was back at work and I, though exhausted was thrown back in to the deep end with a toddler. Then that evening when Esme was in bed, we both sat and cried, grieving for what could and should have been.

Looking back now I actually think Simon and I coped really well at the time. After the miscarriage we assumed something had been wrong with the developing baby, and I was fortunate it had happened when it did. It could have been so much worse. And when I think that some women never carry a baby, and some suffer loss after loss, I honestly didn’t think I could feel sorry for myself. After all I already had Esme in my life. I was to cherish her even more.

One in four of all pregnancies miscarry, most commonly between six and eight weeks.
The majority of these result from a genetic abnormality in the baby, but can also result from maternal infection, structural abnormalities of the uterus and a failure of the embryo to implant properly in the lining of the womb.
Miscarriage is more common as a woman gets older because the quality of her eggs deteriorates with age.
Smoking in pregnancy doubles the risk of miscarriage.
Most miscarriages are a single event and the chances of having a second miscarriage are far smaller than a successful pregnancy.

The Miscarriage Association may be contacted on 01924 200799. They will send out an information pack that may help you, free of charge.
Care Confidential at or 0800 028 2228 is a national helpline offering confidential counselling to anyone facing pregnancy or post termination concerns.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Thought-provoking sister Kate (2)

Sister Kate sent me this film. It's an Australian News programme that researched and ran an item on the toxicity of Flouride to humans. It's definitely thought-provoking.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Product review - Highchair

Silver Cross Sovereign Highchair 

Luxurious and practical, this highchair offers flexible positions and features Microban technology for anti-bacterial protection

Price: £100
Age suitable for: 6mths-3yrs
Number of height positions: 6

The Silver Cross Sovereign Highchair is indeed a highchair fit for royalty. It’s a luxurious yet practical product, that’ll easily rule supreme in your kitchen. Silver Cross, best know for its buggies and travel systems, has two highchairs to its name – the multi-functional Doodle and the Sovereign Highchair, which is suitable for babies from 6 months of age through to children of three years.

The name Silver Cross for me conjures up thoughts of big old British prams, stability, tradition and a steadfast brand that’s been in existence for well over a century. The Sovereign Highchair is created with every bit of brilliance that you’d expect from such a long-standing company. The Sovereign also comes complete with a guarantee that covers it for two years (you have to register it online with Silver Cross).

First produced in 2007, the Sovereign has proved to be a best-seller and award winner, thanks to its clever Microban® technology. And perhaps that’s the greatest feature of all about this product. Microban® is a coating of antibacterial protection that won’t wash or wear away. It creates an invisible barrier and stops bacteria in its tracks. Pretty clever stuff. Also, the Microban® coating is assured to last the lifetime of the highchair.

What we love 

Esme, now 20 months, was totally amused when the Silver Cross Sovereign Highchair arrived. The normal wanting to play with the box didn’t apply - she was too impressed with what now stood before her. From the moment I assembled it (it opens in one easy move), she took a vested interest and it has quickly become her highchair of choice. I can’t blame her - every time I look at her in it, I understand why. She sits with her head and neck supported, her body cushioned within the soft PVC padded liner. This padding is secured in place with Velcro and can be removed to wash. The nooks and crannies simply don’t exist because you can wipe all of it clean so easily. It’s easy to move around with its small back wheels that then lock in place. Esme is safely strapped in using the 5-point harness whose clips click together easily, not like some I’ve tried.

The Sovereign Highchair is multi-positional and being able to adjust the height and recline position means that it offers exceptional support and comfort. There are six height and four back reclining positions giving you so much flexibility.

When a friend’s 6-month-old, Issy sat in the Sovereign for lunch, we positioned it low to the ground and her mum sat in front of her on the floor to feed her. It worked a treat, as she could give her toddler lots of attention, too. After a while we lay Issy safely back in the highchair, and weren’t at all surprised to see she nodded off.

With Esme, I often sit her in the Sovereign with a book while I’m getting her meal. The Sovereign comes complete with three Microban® treated trays: one for feeding, one for general playtime and one for safety. The play tray enables Esme to do play-dough and colour, and not just when I’m cooking. There’s a large storage basket underneath too, useful for stashing toys.

Esme’s latest saying is “new highchair” and she is particularly taken with the image of the cat on the cushioning. Ours is blue, or ‘sky’, but it also comes in a pretty pink, or ‘rose’, which has an owl motif. The design complements Silver Cross’ Owl and the Pussycat toy range, based on the original poetry of Edward Lear.

To complete the review, see more images of the Sovereign and to read the all-important What to watch out for and Verdict sections, then please click on the links below which will take you through to the parenting website MadeForMums, where this review first appeared, published in June 2010.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Love a good stuffing? This Christmas recipe is worth sharing...

For the amazing mushroom and bacon stuffing that my mum makes at Christmas, you will need:

225g/8oz chopped mushrooms
175g/6oz white breadcrumbs
3 eggs
1 tblsp chopped parsley
1/2 tablespoon salt
175g/6oz chopped streaky bacon
50g/2oz melted butter
1 tblsp chopped onion
freshly milled black pepper

(These ingredients will work with a 10-12lb turkey)

Mix the parsley, onions, salt and pepper with the breadcrumbs, stir in the bacon and mushrooms, and bind it all together with the melted butter and beaten eggs. Then stuff the mixture in the cavity of the bird and cook accordingly.

Why not make a traditional stuffing mix at the same time and put that at the other end of your turkey.You'll end up with two yummy stuffings for your delicious Christmas dinner.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Christmas is coming and the blog is on the bog

Very excited in our house at the prospect of Christmas. Trying not to get ahead of ourselves but we made paper chains yesterday. Have impressed myself and started shopping; found some great ideas in the little gift shop Past & Present in Shottermill. Love that grotto. Artist Sarah makes the most amazing hand-painted delights.

Esme (our excited 4YO) is to be a traveller in her school nativity. Can't wait for that. Am reminded of when I watched on as nanny for a little one who attended a Pimlico nursery. Mary was swinging baby Jesus by his leg and Joseph stood there picking his nose. The angel Gabriel blinked away tears throughout, and I don't know what happened to the three wise men but the place was overrun with shepherds. Something to do with countless tea towels maybe?!

The School Christmas fayre approaches. Apparently it is in dire need of two dads or grandads to act as Santa. Goodness, imagine that. A school Christmas fayre with no Father Christmas... forgot to mention this to Simon last night, so darling OH, if you are reading this first thing while on the loo as usual, perhaps you could think on that? Yes, apparently Simon takes time out at work to read each new post while visiting the toilet. He has fondly termed LIFE AS IT IS as the BLOG ON THE BOG. I'm just delighted he bothers to read it at all! Have a good day dear.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

FURTHER TRAVEL TALES: Serengeti sensation


In a near forgotten past and in a life before children, there was a young girl who wandered without bags under her eyes but with a bag on her back. Here she returns to notes she made while visiting the Serengeti


Arusha, Tanzania; the tourist capital of East Africa and a central anthill of tours and touts. Whether your destination is the Serengeti plains, the Ngora Gora crater or Mount. Kilimanjaro, Arusha is where your trip will begin and end. Oh and be warned, it is a safari circus.

It's been a fifteen-hour journey from Nairobi in a dilapidated bus, and the bombardment of excursion offers before I’ve even disembarked is an unpleasant welcome. Reluctantly I join the chaos.

It is incredible to imagine that such peace and beauty can be born out of so great a polluted hellhole. The noise level already annoys: the jamming of car horns fight the somewhat more melodic bus trumpets, the locals shout louder.

It is hot and dusty, the stench makes me retch. The men trying to sell me a tour are in my face as much as the stink and rather than being vibrant and enthusing, as I imagined the safari gateway to be, Arusha is simply suffocating. 

As I try to move away a tout follows me. It becomes clear his persistence is insistent. All it does is piss me off. I’m so hot it doesn’t help. I stop for a few drinks in a bid to lose him. I cannot believe that he waits for me the whole time outside the bar.

Three kilometres away, the Masai camp offers me some peace, and a few hours of calm later, I chat to other travellers coming back off their trips. I soon gain an idea of the better tour operators and am quick to sign up for a Serengeti safari that comes recommended. I check out the jeep that is going to be my seat for the next four days. 

I depart early next morning. The melting tarmac quickly disappears leaving an uncomfortable potholed corrugated track. The density of Arusha is left behind replaced by an enormity that is the Rift Valley. Rich desert hues compete with sapphire skies. 

Sunday, 18 November 2012

So be good for goodness sake

Our angelic 4YO lost her halo today. If she continues in the same vein this coming week I think Father Christmas will be phoning the house to tell us to warn her he has made his list and he is about to check it for the second time. Tough day.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Drive time musings of a 4YO

Esme is quiet for once in the back of the car. We arrive home and I see a massive hummer-type vehicle parked right outside our house. I begin rambling as I parallel park.
m: Oh what? Who parked that thing here? What is it anyway?  

e: Mummy?

m: What is it Esme?

e: You wish that car would just sod off, don't you Mummy?
Indeed I do, but I don't think I would have put it quite like that. Would I? Oops.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Another cold or something more sinister?

It would appear it is 'just' another cold, well there's been no temperature since yesterday teatime and anyway, running breakneck speed around our lounge at breakfast says fine to me. So off to school, and I'm glad she went because it is children in need day and she's gone dressed up like Minnie Mouse. She would have hated to have missed that. Oh the excitement, indeed, she almost fell over as she ran up the path, almost. Never fear, Batman was there to save the day. Along with a whole host of superheroes. Happy Friday everybody!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

A night in the life of...

...a frustrated mum

After a fish and chip supper and a few drinks with friends last night, we were rather late to bed. The company was good but the fish and chips were lacking; dry and disappointing. Afterwards, laying in bed, my dinner in my chest, I required copious amounts of Rennie to see me adrift, and as soon as I was, the baby started to cough. Hack, hack, hack. On and off for what seemed to be hours. When she did settle, Esme stirred, crying out for me in agitation. She was having a bad dream, where hands kept trying to grab her. Poor lamb. As I cuddled her, it dawned on me she was hot. Sure enough she had a high temperature. Medicine, a drink and some more cuddles later, she finally stopped talking rubbish and calmed. I put her back to bed in time for Sofia to begin coughing again. An eventful night then, and now a new day. My gorgeous 4YO is not so gorgeous. She is pasty with thick throat. I can smell the poorliness oozing out of her. Yuk. Nurse Mummy wonders, another cold coming, or something more sinister lurking - tonsillitis? Currently Sofia sleeps on. Today was the first day ever I had organised a sitter for her so that my mum and I could venture out for lunch and a shop. Typical.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Operation Christmas Child

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

I found out this week that on average parents spent £136 on their children’s Christmas presents alone.

Spare a thought for all of those children that won't be receiving this Christmas and then do something about it. Thank you.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Our sleepover in Brighton... Hove actually.

All Saturday morning Esme had been excited, positively wild; unable to wait for our sleepover. After lunch we were ready to go, the car choked full. Isn't it amazing how much you need for staying one night with a baby? Madness. For just as we thought we had it all, there'd be yet another questioning shout: What about a dummy? What about the monitor? What about earplugs? Ha! I wish.

We left after lunch on purpose so that Sofia could sleep during the journey. Our attempt to keep her nap in situ almost came a cropper when she coughed herself awake around the halfway mark. Esme had passed out too by now and snored steadily. I think this brought Sofia comfort and lulled her back to slumber. Phew.

As we drove we enjoyed the novelty of non-interrupted chat sat alongside the beautiful autumnal country we meandered through. I occasionally looked back at our girls. Esme's snores were now accompanied by a small steady stream of dribble that was pooling in a crevice beneath her chin. She was out cold. Fia not so; she flinched a lot. 

As the engine ceased both girls woke with a start. Esme yelled immediately, 'Hooray, we're here.' Oh my colourful social one. She like us, loves visiting. Fia picked up on the vibe and tried to sit upright, half smiling. 

We all fell in through the door and then our long list of belongings did the same. It took an age for us to work out the travel cot, always does - damn thing, and then after a cuppa, we wrapped up for a brisk walk to the front. 

Sofia was bemused by the beach. There was a freedom offered to her here that she is unaccustomed to. And as a consequence, she barely moved. The sun bounced off her snowsuit (bright pink from top to toe), so that she stood out loud against the stony backdrop. 

The sun setting was dreamy. The tide turning was not. At least one pair of feet got caught while casting stones. The light was mellow, the kind that helps reflect a perfect moment.
Warm again, all inside, we fed the girls in a great kid-friendly place called 'The Stoneham' around the corner from the house. The pizza was great and the ice cream was even more so. Fia tried a little bit of Esme's, and couldn't believe her luck. Her mouth forming a perfect 'o' in appreciation of the wonder she had just tasted for the first time. We left the menfolk over a pint and took two happy little girls back to the house, bedtime was encroaching.

Sofia went down with ease. She drained her bottle and was happy to be put in the travel cot. Hoorah, first hurdle put to bed, or so to speak. I couldn't believe how well it had gone and downstairs all too chuffed I picked up the glass of Chablis that had been poured for me. I think I'd had about a third of it when Fia's screaming began. 

Saturday, 10 November 2012

This weekend we're off to Brighton...

...Hove actually. To see friends and I can't wait. Trouble is, Fia has finally settled in to a great sleep pattern and is suddenly sleeping through (OMG). More than that, she is doing 13 hours at night and two to three hours in the day as well. (Double OMG). I honestly cannot believe it, after 14 long months of no sleep or 5am starts. Well now, fingers crossed that the travel cot, together with all four of us in one room, doesn't ruin this good thing we've got going. I can't help feeling the odds are slightly stacked against us...

...I'll keep you posted.


In a near forgotten past and in a life before children, there was a young girl who wandered without bags under her eyes but with a bag on her back. Here she returns to notes she made while visiting the gorillas in Uganda

Excited is not the word. I cannot sit still. It is not the thought of the bus journey - although that promises to be eventful – it is the thought of what waits for me the other end.

My bus finally arrives. Thick smoke coughs and curls from it as it teasingly passes me to turn around. Crabbing its way up the hill with its chassis out of line, I wince. 

In case anyone in this small Ugandan village dares to sleep at daybreak, it trumpets, letting all know it has arrived. Revving its sick engine and signaling impatience, I board, ticket in hand, eagerly hoping for the allocated seat it foolishly promises. 

The driver, seated on a cushion, is barely able to see over the huge steering wheel. As he grins, he sings, and it becomes clear to me that somewhere along this journey of his, a substance is involved. I want no part of his trip, and yet seeing no other alternative, head down the coach and into the-out-of-control stench of body odour that surrounds me. It is retchingly real until the bus hastens to lurch forward. Thankfully, most of the windows are broken and a natural air conditioning kicks in to override the stagnant hum.

I claim the seat I’m thrown toward, falling hard against its torn leatherette. It skids with me, and barely buffers my body as we glide along the metal frame it is stacked against until I regain whatever I can: balance, seat and pride. 

Meanwhile a beat now accompanies the driver’s lyric and as the bus picks up speed, it gains momentum with the quavers and crotchets of the tempo. We sway as we wind upward, and as the sun hits me through the shattered windows, I realise quickly that sleeping is out of the question.   

As the morning and the miles pass, we stop at many scattered villages picking up more and more people, setting down only a few. A bus that probably seats about 60 now carries easily over 90 passengers. Sweltering together, fresh sweat stains compete with dried stale ones. 

A mother sits down on a crate in the aisle beside me. She has a vacant look about her and I ponder: boredom or fatigue? Her twin babies of about five months old, barely held, both cry loudly. They must be hot, for each is dressed in peach silk and petticoats, bundled up in lace frills, buttons and bows. These delicate dresses betray their forms, for chunky limbs splay out, wriggling in all directions.

The mother sighs and neither looking up nor asking, plops one of the babies on my lap. The bundle takes one look at me and realises that if she had nothing to cry about before, she certainly has something to cry about now, as this person gazing down at her, who cuddles her in, is not only unfamiliar, but is the wrong colour. She screams louder and then promptly falls fast asleep, one tear remaining caught between cheek and nose. I smile at her mother, who for the first time looks up. She chuckles, now cradling a sleeping twin. We zoom along the melting road under the blazing sun.

After seven hours or so the driver’s singing stops. The ceaseless noise; that of a back-to-back tape, which has played its way to the very edge of my pain threshold, has finally blistered itself in the process. The peace lulls me into a false sense of security, for it is only another half an hour before the tarmac runs out to be replaced by a bumpy mud track. Steering his toy at the very same speed, overtaking cars and carts on blind corners, and driving dangerously close to pedestrians and livestock, we continue.

It is becoming dark as we fly over the biggest pothole yet. A pothole which would act as catalyst for an almost comic chain of events if I wasn’t so bloody tired: I leave the seat and the seat leaves its frame.  I squeeze the baby who wakes and screams again. Her hands and arms reach out to find her mother and sister, whilst underneath my seat the furious clucking of a chicken joins in the commotion. 

Eventually my numb body collects its dusty pack from the underbelly of the dilapidated bus. Doing so I catch a whiff of what the driver is lighting up. Momentarily I return to 13.5-hours earlier, and say a silent thanks for getting me here in one piece.  Here is where exactly? Looking around it would appear that I’m on the outskirts of nowhere.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Having a moment

For all the dripping and moaning I do within the GraceFaith blog regarding my two small children (and I know I find myself irritated by them on many an occasion), I want to say now for the record what an absolute wonder they are to me.

From the first moment I held my Esme Grace and looked into her eyes, I could see her darling father. And from the moment I first held Sofia Faith, I could see my adorable grandmother already somewhere there within. It is miraculous when you behold your just born baby, but when you see the people you love so deeply looking back at you, it is, as I say, absolutely wondrous.

How privileged am I that I can be a mummy who stays at home with them full time, who has the chance to pick them up when they fall down, to kiss it better, to hug them tight in the night when they wake scared, to share the fun and catch each joyful smile, to see suddenly that a light switch can be reached, a bike can be cycled or the dining table can be scaled. To watch those first small steps turn to skips, and hear those first words spoken turn to sentences?

Point is, I can't imagine a life without my kids. Just as can't imagine a life without their wonderful father too. Sorry. Moment done.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

A little more detail (5) Realisation of how parenting works

Family Life (Acceptance + Realisation = Happiness)

Throughout 2009 Simon and I adapted to family life. I remember the exact moment we finally worked out what it was all about; on holiday in Dorset. 

That summer day had been spent discovering the little towns and villages belonging to the county's beautiful countryside. Only, we had explored so far, the drive back to where we were residing was long. Too long for Esme who was nearing 12-months-old and had already spent ages in her car seat. Not surprisingly she grumped the whole way back. 

Right then it hit home that our time together was no longer about us, but now all about Esme. Meeting her needs, her wants and therefore her happiness. 

And as soon as Simon and I realised that, life as three became much easier. 

And being much easier, life was great all over again. In so many better ways.

The ideology of mothering

To quote a friend of mine Rae, who is a totally selfless and brilliant mother of three: 
"When you choose to have a baby, you choose to give up every selfish bone in your body." 
And to quote me, a mother who sometimes wonders if she's heading to hell:
 "Or you bloody well should."

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

A little more detail (4) Drunk & disorderly - Reality bites

About 2008/09

Once upon a time there was carefree and childless... 

...And then 2008 had seen the birth of our first child. 2009 had seen a transformation in the quality of our couplehood. It had to really; long weekends abroad had become longer weekends at home, and we were both missing how it had once been...

Esme was now in our lives and Simon and I were getting used to being a threesome. Occasionally it took a little effort. Like when we walked to a nearby pub for the first time since being parents. We sat with a group of close friends (all childless at the time) enjoying an Al Green atmosphere, you know, the kind that sultry sun mixed with white wine creates? 

Esme pottered about at our feet, playing sweetly with some baby toys, she was at that not quite crawling but still managing to move around stage. It was such a fabulous feeling to be able to have a drink and relax, after all it had been a while and we'd had a tough six months. The only thing that was lacking was... communication, for Simon assumed I was in charge of Esme, and I him. An easy mistake to make when you are both gagging to get on it and when the clime lends itself so readily to do so.

Meanwhile, a mad aunt of mine had phoned to say she was passing through the area and could she pop by to see us? I gave her the name of the pub. An hour later she arrived to find a whole table of merriment, and underneath it, Esme planted face down in the earth. Quite happy too.

The upshot was a giddy giggling mummy and a hugely harassed daddy. Simon took charge of the baby and marched home with Esme in the pram, steadying himself as he went. My aunt drove me, although looking back I don't think it was because I was incapable of using my legs? She dropped me at the end of my road anyway so I definitely was able to walk, however I sojourned there on the green for a while. Still euphoric I phoned a friend explaining to her that Simon was cross with me. Her advice: strip at the front door and shout 'surprise'. Surprised, very. Impressed, not at all. In defeat I mustered a raspberry that I blew lovingly in his direction. At least Esme laughed.

The very next day we took an oath never to both drink in charge of child again. The reality was it had been a one off. A last minute grab to hang on to how it had once been; carefree and childless. Days that were of course no more. Bummer that.

Smile please, you're losing your flexibility

All this back to school stuff has pissed me right off, as today I realised for the first time that we are totally governed by the LEA's calendar.  And will be for approx 20 more years. Ugghhhh.

And how do I come to realise this? Well, panto tickets I booked will have to be changed. 

Esme doesn't finish school until the 21st December and so a theatre trip planned for a few days beforehand is just not possible. I cannot ask my 4YO daughter to tell a white lie in the name of Christmas tradition now can I? (No Miss, I was not sick, I saw Snow White and funny seven little men yesterday). No, not yet.

The 21st December. I ask you, where's the fun in that? Oh I know there will be nativity and carol concert and party and even the great red-suited jollyness himself to enjoy in the run up to the 21st, all at school - but where's left exactly for the build up to Christmas together at home? I don't think that three days is enough and actually, I think it's all a bit rude. Nevermind, there's always Esme's latest joke to bring about a smile...

E: What do you call a jelly that flies?
M: I don't know, what do you call a jelly that flies?
E: A jellycopter


Monday, 5 November 2012

Our first ever 'back to school'

Back to school today for my currently angelic 4YO Esme Grace, bringing with it the first morning of 'hurry-up's' in a week. Sad face.

Esme has been the only one in our house to remain cold free all half term holiday and so naturally of course she appears this morning complete with green train tracks of snot and a single red puffy eye that looks suspiciously like some sort of 'itis' on its way in. Typically, the school photos are being taken today as well.

She chomps her way merrily through breakfast until I ask her what she'd like in her sandwich for packed lunch. At that point the fact that she's returning to school hits. "I don't want to go Mummy. I want to stay home and play with you," came the quiet response. Ah, my little just-four-year-old. I want her to stay too.

I jolly her along with the school photo opportunity and she seems quite agreeable to going again. And with that the race begins to get there on time. I realise she needs her PE kit and scramble its ensemble before looking for her 'bookbag' which has remained unopen all week. I find it stashed below the pile of hats and gloves that have accrued since trick or treating and the fireworks party. (Both brilliant occasions that reminded me that it is fun to be a parent of a 4YO).

Upstairs I'm quite impressed that I manage to wash my hair as well as shower without having Sofia Faith push her way in with me. The upshot of this is that when I get out the shower, the bathroom looks like an advert for Andrex. And at the other end of all that paper is my fourteen-month-old taking chunks out of what's left of the roll. She is an animal.

We move on from teeth to hair and Esme looks perfectly cute with her 'only got time for a pony tail' style. It lasts moments, for Fia tugs at it and half hangs out the band. I decide sod it, let's go for bunches after all and risk tardiness. All done I stand back to see how pretty she looks for said picture soon to be taken and just as I'm admiring her gorgeousness and my handiwork, she lets go a tremendous sneeze, showering both of us in snot. 

Half an hour later my girls are sat opposite the photographer who is doing his best to make Fia stop looking so gormless. He tries so hard that Esme winds up grinning like a flippin Cheshire cat. Fia though, still sits staring at him like he is some sort of buffoon. Brilliant. Can't wait to see the proof when it's in.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

Add The Hunger Site to your Bookmarks bar. 

Did you know that for every visit and click received at, the site’s sponsors will donate a 230g portion of rice to hungry people in one of 74 developing countries? Go on... do it then.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

NCT nearly new sale, not quite so nearly new afterall

Good Lord, having tried to shift a load of my girls' clothes this morning at the Haslemere NCT nearly new sale, I sold a measely ten out of 50 items. What's wrong with my stuff? Apparently it is all nearly new. And as a consequence, it is all too upmarket. For example, I had put forward a gorgeous dress and matching tights for £4, and I've since brought it home again, unwanted - but a washed a thousand times bobbly stained top that I noticed early doors (yes I was helping out by hanging bits and pieces) went through the tills to a new home for a whopping £2. But this is Surrey darling... clearly in recession. I'm not affronted that my stuff has not sold, I will get way more out of being able to pass it on to friends and family anyway. And it wasn't all a complete loss, mingling with the Mere NCT types from 7.30am was good entertainment. Militant at times: 'Do it this way!' Then the bunfight as doors opened was a real eye opener. Haslemere, how you do disappoint, goodness, it was only one up from a car boot. I feared for my life at one point. The NCT sales are clearly a well-oiled machine, and why wouldn't they be when they swallow up a third of all takings. Yes, I repeat, they hang on to a third of what you make. Just as well I pushed that highchair up to £100 then eh?! Afterall, that really was nearly new.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Nanny notes - The Scotch Guard Guy

The question of priority

The mention of nannying, America and spillages all within the previous post has transported me back to the days I used to work as a nanny, and one particular temporary job I held for a while in Chelsea.

Not unusual with this type of thoroughbred and monied mother/nanny position, topics of conversation were restricted to how special the baby and the Chelsea pad were.

My charge was only three months old when I began looking after him and I remember the first morning, being given a list of phone numbers in case of accidents and emergencies. The local doctor, hospital and police were listed, they just came further down the line.
Number one on the list and taking priority by far (for it was the only one written in black marker) was ‘the Scotch Guard Guy’ for any spills or stains on the child friendly white carpet. A carpet which incidently covered most of the interior of the six storied house.  

Life is all about priorites right? I suppose the question is, are we sure we have them in the right order? Ok, off to contemplate housework versus playing with the kids...

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Snot, spillages and my disgruntled Churchill

Today a friend called... she said, 'I keep logging on and you haven't written anything this week.'

So here I am. And just for those of you logging on, I feel I ought to restart blogging on. Thanks for the prompt hun, sometimes I wonder who the hell reads this... apparently some of you in Russia of all places. Well, Zdravstvuj to you this evening!

It has been nice to have a time out though. Where have I been? A week off, half term hols from school and a much needed break for me and my exhausted/ing(?) 4YO. Ha! A break my arse... I just want to ask, why are small children so much hard work? For funny enough, all I seem to have done this week is wipe up snot and spillages, pick up broken glass, call out a washing machine repair man and generally be mystified at how Sofia Faith (1YO) consistently leaves a trail of destruction in her wake.*

This morning she put a toy in the toilet before climbing upon the ledge of the bath. Yesterday, she screamed for one hour because she did not have the same lunch as her 4YO sister. I've never seen so much mucus either as I did in that hour. No sleep due to teething and a virus leaves her more like a disgruntled Churchill than ever. I have two bite marks in my arm today... is she too young to bite back? I honestly think she knows exactly what she is doing at 14months old today.

Anyway, back to the destruction. The washing machine is completely kaput. 'The problem is not mechanic,' the repair man continues, 'it's electronic. Digital. The buttons have been played with too much. You need to buy a new one.' I suppose that sums up Sofia. All too often she pushes buttons. 

Spillages. Both the girls this week have excelled, but the best was the coffee cup in the shop the other day. Esme had already sent her babycino down her front, but she then proceeded to make my entire large Americano fly. It hit in a big way. The woman next to me, who was dressed from head to toe in cream. She looked completely bewildered. So did Esme. She had been telling me how much she loved me by stretching out her arms, next thing... yet another spilt drink. Oh dear. 

*Oh my, big love to the east coasters of America right now. I lived on the east coast - all over, for many years while nannying, and I'm thinking of you all lots.

Friday, 26 October 2012

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

Be inspired by Operation Christmas Child – the charity that asks you to fill a shoebox with toys to send off to needy children abroad. Or make a difference closer to home by giving filled shoeboxes to local homeless shelters or charities. Talk to your child about what people might need and include a drawing or a note. Visit or simply click on the link below...


Thursday, 25 October 2012

FRUSTRATION and the art of nobbling

After school today Esme was playing Frustration with a friend, Max. She had already overturned his counter (or nobbled him as we call it), but burst into tears at the prospect of being nobbled in return.

Sportsmanship is a new concept in her world and clearly she doesn't want to lose, so she decided to throw a massive wobbler and stop Max and his winning streak that way instead. Tables turned quickly however when Max also began to howl, exclaiming, 'Esme, let me nobble you back.'

Now, not only does Esme need a lesson in losing, but she also needs her half term holiday that's fast approaching. Her mother meanwhile, needs to pour herself another glass of wine.

The screaming (2) - Homeopathic remedy for baby tummy troubles

Esme Grace’s start was repeated on the diet/allergy front by her sister Sofia Faith, three years down the line. Sofia was born and the colic kicked in two days after. She also screamed non-stop, and ended up on Baby Gaviscon and the ever so expensive Neocate formula. 

The very attractive and very fabulous paediatric consultant highlighted the not so very attractive and not so very fabulous fact that to have one allergic baby was rotten luck, but to have two, was just rotten.

Before I move on from the dietary ailments of my children, I want to share with you the homeopathic remedy named COLOCYNTH. I tried all the lotions and potions in the world to ease baby number two’s tummy before having to result to prescription formula. None of them worked, but colocynth helped.

The screaming (1) - An inconsolable baby IS in pain

Esme was a delicate flower. And even a wizard cranial osteopath couldn't help when it came to her tummy. 

By now she'd had gastrointeritis which had led to rotovirus, which her consultant explained to me had left her stomach lining in shreds. Proof of this was the green diarrohea she passed for the first six months of her life. To make matters worse, she was lactose intolerant and allergic to dairy as well. 

From around the three month mark Esme stopped gaining weight, my feeding her was failing, even with my being on a dairy free diet, and it was then that she was put on to a prescription hypo-allergenic formula. In all, she didn't tolerate dairy for eighteen months. And in the meantime, the symptoms were severe colic and reflux. But silent reflux with no vomitting, where the pain just sits and burns within.

The first four months of her life, she cried every day for almost all the time. I would try to feed her and she would arch her back in agony. She was inconsolable. She wouldn't take a dummy. She was uncomfortable being held. She never napped. She just screamed. 

In the end, so did I. 

I remember the day I finally broke down, yelling while pacing, 'I never signed up for this. I don't want this. I can't do this any longer.' 

Bizarrely, that same day, her crying ceased.