Monday, 24 August 2015

Whatever you do Tommy, don't look behind you!

Being of similar age, and only a 15 minute car journey away, I spent a lot of my childhood days with my cousins.
Strawberry picking, picnics in the park, and long bike rides - just a few of the happy and simple things we used to indulge in.
This was before the Internet, when kids used to play outside! Isn't that what people harp on about these days? Although to be fair, we did play indoors as well, on rainy days, and days when we wished to play board games and dress up as Cowboys and Indians. I have some great pictures of us in costume!
But I do remember the great big outdoors always being so appealing. Fresh air and adventures, that's what it was all about.
We didn't own a computer until years later, and even then it was very limited in its games and access. It was called 'a green screen' due to the animations being many shades of green. Yes it was very basic, but back then it was seen as quite an achievement.
I know you have to move with the times sometimes, and I'm aware there are now virtual, colour, games which are competitive and fun. Yet I do agree that kids shouldn't be stuck in front of a screen for hours. They need to get out there and use their imaginations, run around and do something inexpensive and fun.
That's my theory anyway. And I'm hoping it will rub off on Tommy and his upbringing. We've spent a lot of time in the garden this summer, playing in his sandpit and tent, watering the flowers, and collecting stones. He's still fairly young when it comes to understanding some activities, but he's getting there. Of course the nice weather helps, and the fact we're lucky enough to have a reasonably good sized garden.
Plus we have a park and a forest all within walking distance.
And Tommy also has a cousin of similar age, a short car journey away. I do hope they remain good friends and spend many a cherished childhood playing and laughing together. As did I and my cousins.
So far, so good.

Laughing.


Here I am!


The wigwam made of sticks.


"Whatever you do Tommy, don't look behind you!" said Will.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Songbird

As I was squirted in the eye by an orange octopus, which missed the swimming frog, by the lopsided pirate ship, I couldn't help reflecting on how different bath times are these days.
I am now lost in a sea of plastic, spinning, singing, animals and objects.
Because I rarely bath alone; to save time I often bath with Tommy.
Plus I'm still at the stage where I worry about him drowning in a very small amount of water. Maybe one day I will stop fretting about him. Nah, I will never stop stressing over my son!
Some nights Tommy and I have water fights, other nights we fill pots with bubbles, and then there are the evenings where we knock the sticky weird things off the sticky weird thing on the wall.
One thing's for sure, it's eventful.
Arms and legs can often be lost in shapes and colours and noises. It's a wonder we have time to wash ourselves.
Unfortunately, Tommy is currently in the midst of a stage where he loathes his hair being washed. No idea why, suddenly it's the latest thing to hate!
As all the grown ups in the world know; washing hair is essential, otherwise hair is greasy and stinky. I do try telling Tommy this, but he doesn't really understand/care.
So I have to distract him, or be sneaky. I am now a master at distracting and sneakiness.
Tonight, during bath time, I decided to very gradually wash Tommy's hair, whilst also singing the magical lyrics to Songbird.
Incidentally, this is the very song I nervously drifted up the aisle to on Mark and I's wedding day. The song I heard years ago and distinctly remember thinking, "Imagine marrying the man of my dreams after hearing this tune!"
Apart from any ballad by George Michael, Songbird is my ultimate love song. It's even more significant now, due to it's historical place in my life.
Also, whilst pregnant, I used to indulge in relaxing baths, often in the anticipation that if I were to lay as flat as possible, with hand on protruding belly, I might be able to feel baby kick. Apparently, it was also essential that he or she heard mum's soothing voice.
Therefore, many a bath night used to be spent croaking the words to my favourite love song (I am not blessed with dulcet tones, although I do try my best). I would also hold hand over ever expanding body and continually hope, "Was that a kick?"
When Tommy finally decided to kick, I was so overjoyed I nearly leaped in the air with pure ecstasy. Then I remembered I was so fat I had to be assisted in and out of the bath.
Still, I was over the moon that I had finally felt my unborn child move around inside me.
Until Mark burst the bubble by laughing his head off and declaring, "He was probably thinking, please shut up mum, you can't sing at all!"
He had a point though.
But anyway, whilst singing Songbird tonight, I did catch Tommy looking at me and smiling. I like to think somewhere deep in his subconscious memory, he tapped into my voice and the words.
Even if he didn't recall, which let's face it, he probably didn't, he was probably thinking, "I'm going to squirt you again mummy!" I was happy to compare restful verses chaotic bath time.
The conclusion? I was overwhelmed with my love for him and the disbelief that he will be two year's old in two month's time.

This is us, a rare and recent picture. And no, I wasn't singing to him.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

The surprise party with a giant slide

I do love a party. Especially a surprise garden party, with a marquee, flowing champagne, and a giant, inflatable slide.
It was Mark's uncle's surprise 80th birthday bash last weekend. And here are my memories of the day.


I treated myself to a new dress for the occasion, with butterflies.


Don't forget the wine and card!


Waiting for the birthday boy.


Popsicles.


Mark and Tommy by the entrance to the giant slide, bouncy castle and football game.



The adults had great fun on this. Sorry, I was too busy scoffing chocolate cake, so didn't take any pics of family in action.



Tommy mowing the lawn (pretend mower, of course).


Tommy and his cousin, admiring the view.


Entering the pink house.


Playing in the pink house.


Anyone need a lift home?


We had a fabulous time. The sun was shining, kids and adults bounced and slid. Mark's uncle was chuffed. Mark's cousins house and garden are the stuff dreams are made of. Tommy cried when we had to go home.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

As soon as I saw you, I knew an adventure was about to begin

I've been thinking about inspiration.
Who and what inspires me. And why.
In the beginning, there was my mum. My first inspiration. She still is, will always be. Because her kindness still shines through.
Lots of other people inspire me and for lots of different reasons.
For instance: My dad's wisdom, my husband's patience, my friend's parenting... The list is endless.
I think it's important to be continually inspired. We can learn from others. We can be humble to their strengths, forgive them for their weaknesses. Isn't it all about trying to be a better person?
It could be all too easy to envy success, but surely it's healthier to appreciate and seek inspiration?
I can still remember teachers and bosses who have made an impact in my life. People I have looked up to and aspired to be like. I like to think I have gained knowledge from them and learnt valuable lessons from them.
My English teacher still rings in my ears, "You know what you want to say, but you are struggling to find the words to say it? Well that's what English is all about."
I often think of her when I am faced with this scenario.
And the cool headed boss who once managed me - if faced with stressful situations in the working environment, and swift decision making is a priority, I think to myself, what would Michelle have said or done now?
But it's not just people who have this ability.
Words and pictures can also be very powerful.
Recently I have been spending a fair amount of time on Instagram, admiring images of wild flowers in meadows, blue sky and white sand on beautiful beaches. Of course I am inspired by the photography skills, verses the wonder of nature.
They instantly strive in me, the want to be a more creative photographer, and a keener observer.
I'm also a sucker for a good quote. Wise words which make you stop and ponder about this curious life.
Instagram is full of them, which isn't such a bad thing. I've been known to post my own quotes too, spreading the word.
And how could you not be inspired by books? My life without books would indeed be a very dark place. I love to loose myself in mysteries and characters.
Currently I am reading Agatha Christie's At Bertram's Hotel. I'm a huge fan of the detective series on the television screen, and upon my most recent visit to a book shop, I spotted this book and remembered that I had promised myself I would read one of the classic's from this famous author.
So I am.
It's also inspiration for my novel, coincidently set in the 1950's, and all background expertise of this era and this honourable writer, who is placed third in the rankings of the world's most widely published books (Shakespeare and the Bible are first and second).
Now that's inspirational!
I shall leave you with some of my favourite quotes, on pretty images.
I hope they inspire you too.






Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Once upon a time, well, approximately twenty years ago...

There was a young lady called Nikki. She was not a beautiful princess, nor did she live in a big castle. She did, however, kiss a lot of frogs until she met her Prince Charming.
And oh how she liked to party! Twirling around in her leather trousers, clutching her bottle of cider, and shouting the lyrics of her favourite tunes, all to her heart's content.
See, I told you she was not a princess.
She was young and carefree, full of promises and expectations, surrounded by wonder and curiosity for life.
If only she'd known, it's not all about the cheap cider and loud music. But let's forgive her for her innocence and naivety.
She also had friends, not servants or maids. Real life, twenty first century friends, who listened and didn't mind posing for photographs and looking silly.
Now, all things considered, that's true friendship!
Non-princess Nikki liked to holiday in such extravagant places as the Greek islands. The islands who hosted Karaoke evenings, and two-for-the-price-of-one cocktail nights.
No one could deny her and her chums the experience of this, surely!
What hedonistic days they were! No commitments, no debts, no hair dye. Just long, hazy days, with Greek salads, and water with no ice cubes please.
It was a time when 'getting ready' consisted of approximately two hours. This was mainly due to the 'chuck it all in' concoction of alcohol, good old fashioned talking, applying of lip liner and common questions such as, "Does my bum look big in this?"
History's loss was Nikki's gain, or something like that.
Which brings my fairy tale to it's present time. Twenty or so years later, 'I'm not a Princess Nikki' decided to reinvent history! Abandon hope ye all who enter here! Let's pose like those pictures we found recently and laughed at. Let's recreate scenes.
So that's what they done, and below is the evidence.

Yes that is me, on the right, with brown hair!


Here we all are twenty years later, trying to recreate the scene.


Pointing our fingers, after Karaoke.



Twenty years later

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Hurray for the summer

Making daisy chains on the lawn, strawberry ice-cream melting in the sunshine, sizzling barbecues in the garden, long, lazy days - the summer has officially arrived.

First stop, the local garden centre, just a few minutes walk from the cottage, to stock up on sunflowers and Anemones.


And not forgetting cottage garden blooms for my hanging baskets.


A visit to a charming local pub, with duck pond and play area for Tommy.


Here's Tommy enjoying his blackcurrant fruit drink.


Here's Tommy again, collecting daisies in the garden of the pub opposite the cottage. It's been named as the second best pub garden in Essex. Quite a claim to fame! I can confirm it's very pretty and Tommy loves running around and playing football with daddy.


He also likes playing with his cars.


And standing on the bench.



It's also perfect weather to invite family for afternoon tea in our garden.


Hurray for the summer.

Monday, 29 June 2015

The house on the cliff top

Mark and I are back from our yearly trip to Cornwall, because unfortunately we didn't win the National Lottery or the the EuroMillions.
If we had of won, we could have purchased the stunning house on the cliff top (even though it wasn't for sale). Or called both our offices to inform we would not be returning to work, due to unforeseen circumstances (we have both agreed we will not expose our wealth, in case it should lead to jealousy and animosity).
Then we'd throw a huge party. And drink champagne from gold plated flutes. And George Michael would be our star guest.
Aren't fantasies great. Sometimes I wonder if half the fun is the fantasising.
Mark and I often spend our pretend money on a cottage in the Cotswolds, a chateau in the South of France, a holiday home in Cornwall, and a country style, tastefully decorated mansion in the village, with an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, a cocktail bar, and a mini parked on the driveway for yours truly (I'm a terrible parker, so should be able to cope with a mini), and an Aston Martin and Range Rover for Mark.
Not that we're greedy!
Oh and we'd also take all our family and friends on a holiday of a lifetime. Even though we are supposed to be keeping our good fortune private.
Then we check back into reality and discuss if we can afford a takeaway at the weekend.
Believe it or not I have never really been money obsessed, I've always thought it far more important to be happy and healthy. You could be rich but lonely, loaded but poorly.
Of course not having enough money can be stressful, so you'd have to get the balance right. Comfortable and content.
And what would you do if you really did own all the money you could ever imagine possible? Rather like a Class A Celebrity; someone who has so much cash it's obscene. Would you go wild and end up with a stint in rehab? Because you had nothing left to strive for, nothing to dream about. You had it all, and guess what, it wasn't the answer. You weren't happy. Bugger!
At the risk of sounding corny, Mark and Tommy make me feel like the richest person in the world. Rich in love, luck, and happiness. I don't need winning numbers to confirm this.
Although that cliff top house in Cornwall would have been nice, the views were amazing. You should have seen it, dear readers...

Pictures to be uploaded soon.