Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The One With The Rehearsal



Last night I went and watched the theatre group I belong to rehearse for their forthcoming production of Fawlty Towers.

I haven’t acted since autumn 2013 and although it’s not unusual for me to have a break from theatre for a while, this is probably the longest I’ve been gone. Hubby’s job take him away from home quite a bit now, so what with that, work and the boy starting school, making rehearsals felt nigh on impossible and I couldn’t see when or if I’d be going back for a long time.

Then last night happened.

Everyone was so pleased to see me and I read in one of the parts while sitting next to the director and watching the action. I love Fawlty Towers and I adore acting comedy so I really enjoyed it. It was lovely to see all my friends again and be back talking about scripts, lines, direction and timing.

Most of all I hadn’t realised how much I’d missed acting and need it in my life. It’s in my bones, my soul and my heart.

I’ve been horribly down recently. I’ve been back to the doctor and gone up from 10mg every other day to 20mg every day of my anti-depressants. I’ve felt lost and uninspired, especially since the New Year.

Last night was like a breath of fresh air. I felt like I’d come home.

I know what I’m missing now and I need to go back to it. I went through a stage of worrying when I was in a show that I hadn’t sold enough tickets and got enough people to come and see it. I realise now that’s not important. Yes we need bums on seats to carry the group on, but that isn’t my sole responsibility. If friends and family want to come then great, if they don’t, no worries. I do this for me, no one else.

I also went through a stage of being in some ropey old rubbish or taking on too much. Mainly because I was too scared to say no and let everyone down. Again it’s not my sole responsibility. I need to be in plays I enjoy. The part doesn't have to be huge, I don't need to be the star. I just need to act.  I’m no longer falling for ‘Well if you don’t do it I can’t see how else we can cast that part. We’ll just not do a play this time.’

That’s balls!

No one person is bigger than the group and plays can always be cast.

The theatre doesn’t need me that badly.

I, on the other hand, have realised that I need it. Very badly indeed.



Thursday, 12 March 2015

The One With the Made Up Meals

I’ve been making up a lot of meals in my head recently.

I can’t actually claim to have written any recipes but neither am I following any. It must be something to do with being more right brained than left and not wanting to follow instructions

If I do make something from a recipe book I can’t help ‘tinkering’ with it until eventually it’s beyond all recognition of the original. I rarely look at a cookbook anyway, unless it’s for the proportions for Yorkshire puddings; for some reason I always have to look that up, or buy Aunt Bessie’s, who is known in this house as the patron saint of the roast dinners.

I’ve been creating desserts with bags of frozen berries, making apple and leek stuffing to accompany roast pork and rustling up a sort of bubble and squeak with left over roast potatoes, ham, cranberry sauce and peas. Don’t knock until you try it. Although I’ve had several friends question the existence of a ‘left over roast potato’.

The boy had a run on brioche for breakfast recently. For some reason he called them brioche sausage rolls, (they were rolls but contained no sausage), and it was all he’d eat for weeks, then suddenly he announced there were ‘balls’ in them and he wouldn’t eat them anymore.

No, I don’t know what he means either. I can only assume it was a dry bit or a clump of dough or something, but once he’d found it that was the end of the love affair with brioche.

So when my friend Actor Laddie and his family came for Sunday lunch I had a whole 8 pack of brioche rolls that needed ‘using up’ as my Mum would say.

So I came up with 'White Chocolate and Raspberry Brioche Bread and Butter Pudding'. 



Split a pack of 8 brioche rolls lengthways so you have 16 pieces and butter them.
Arrange a layer of 8 pieces in a deep roasting dish.
Scatter over half a punnet of raspberries and half a 100g packet of white chocolate chips or a white chocolate bar broken into pieces.

Do it all over again with the other 8 pieces of brioche, the raspberries and white chocolate.

Make a custard with 3 beaten eggs, 600 ml (1 pint) of milk and 50g of light soft brown sugar whisked together until the sugar is dissolved and the eggs are incorporated. I added a dash of single cream as well because I had some to go with the pud once it was cooked.

Pour the custard over the brioche and let it soak in for about half an hour before baking at 180C (160C fan) Gas Mark 4 for 40 to 45 minutes.

I did it on 160C for 40 minutes because my oven is fierce and even after nearly a year in this house I’m still coming to terms with how it can burn something to a crisp in seconds. My cake baking prowess is nowhere near what it was because of that bloomin’ oven.

The pudding was declared a success and I would’ve posted a picture but we wolfed it all down before I thought about taking one.

After this makeshift masterpiece I’m going to have a go at something that doesn't sound like a proper recipe but actually is; brussel sprout risotto, which was sent to me by a fellow blogger and Twitter pal. 

There’s a glut of sprouts on the fields round here so they’re going for a song. Well they can be rather a ‘musical’ vegetable…







Sunday, 25 January 2015

The One With The Wine, The Trolley And The Knicker Elastic.




Poor old Grandad Atu hasn't been too well recently. He's had a nasty chest infection that he just couldn't shake and as a result he and Nanny P haven't been able to have the boy over for a sleep over since early December.

Not that I'm complaining you understand. The support and childcare help we get from my parents I consider to be very much a privilege and not a right. I just needed to set the scene as to why I was drinking at lunchtime.

And the reason I was drinking at lunchtime was that my Dad's chest and bouts of coughing were much better in the daytime so my parents had offered to have the boy last Saturday in the day to come over and play. Quite frankly they were missing him, and he was missing them, and the visit would perk my Dad up, but at this stage an overnighter was a step too far.

Lovely we thought, we can run some errands and, in the absence of a night out in recent weeks, we'd go for a sneaky pub lunch instead.

So the microwave that had gone ping, quite literally for the last time that week, needed to go to the dump as did the bottles for recycling. Then we drove to a nice pub out in the countryside and had a very agreeable lunch with a cheeky couple of glasses of red for me as hubby was driving.

Then we stopped at Sainsburys to do the grocery shopping on the way home.

This is where it all started to unravel.

I was a bit giggly and woozy with two glasses of Merlot and a big lunch inside me (prawn cocktail and scampi and chips for those interested in my 70's retro fest). As I was tipsily weaving my trolley around I realised that not only did the trousers I was wearing quite clearly needed a belt and were falling down but underneath them my knicker elastic had gone.

Picture the scene; me giggling like a loon, pushing a trolley with one hand and hitching up my trousers and pants with the other, whilst trying to hold a shopping list and select items to buy with... well no hands at all. 

I'd like to say I managed the situation with class, dignity and aplomb....but we all know that just wasn't the case don't we.

I hobbled around like old man Steptoe,with my hand permanently jammed down my pants, fudging about like they'd cost me a pound and 99p of them were up my arse. 

And where had I bought this garment from in the first place?

Sainsburys, that's where.

Bolstered by the effects of the wine, thank god I wasn't wearing a skirt or I'd have whipped my, quite frankly useless, 'apple gatherers' off and taken them over to customer services to make a complaint, 


'These don't stay up. Can I exchange them for a pair that I don't have to wedge up the frozen aisle to stop me exposing myself please?'

Don't let me drink at lunchtime and go shopping in sub standard knickers again or I could get arrested......













Monday, 15 December 2014

The One With The Tena Lady


Since having the boy I do have quite a few 'oooops' moments, despite having had physio on 'that area' - yes physio! I try to remember to do my pelvic floor exercises, but a sudden laugh, cough, sneeze or jumping out of my skin at a firework, car horn, someone who thinks it's funny to go 'boo' behind my back, (delete as applicable), causes a bit of... well there's no polite way to put this.... leakage.
  
So when Mumsnet www.mumsnet.com/bloggers-network needed some of us bloggers to review the new Tena Lady Lights range, I jumped at the chance. Although I daren't jump that high you understand.

I'm sad to say that I haven't felt 'safe' going out without a pad on for several years now, but I was just using sanitary pads, which can be bulky. 

Before I go on I want to stress I don't just wee myself with gay abandon. We're talking small little leaks here not full on tsunamis. So the Tena Lady Lights range seemed perfect for me.

Thin and discreet there are four types of Tena Lady Lights, all of which I was kindly sent to try - in abundance. 


There are Light Liners, which are shaped to the contours of a ladies body and are only 3mm thin, so they are really comfortable and you barely know they're there. These are good if you're wearing smaller pants, not your Bridget Jones specials, or if you've got tight jeans or trousers on and you could feel self conscience, as they won't show at all. 

Then there are Liners, both loose in a box for using at home and single wrapped for popping in your handbag. Strangely enough I found the loose ones more comfortable and the wrapped pads a bit bulky, but they should be exactly the same at 3.5mm thick. I do however like having the pads wrapped, as they're easier to dispose of when you've got the packet to wrap around the used towel to put in the bin, (no flushing down the loo please). 

The last type are my personal favourite, the Long Liners. These made me feel very secure as they were nice and thin but covered the whole of my gusset (I know sorry - I never thought I'd write the word gusset in a blog post but this is important stuff).

I've been trying all of these for about 10 days now and I have to say I'm impressed. They absorb moisture well with no odour and most importantly stay put. There's nothing worse than a pad that keeps shifting about. After all, this is about feeling comfortable and secure, especially in social situations, so staying where they are supposed to is very important to me.

At £1.99 a packet, for any of the four types, they are slightly more expensive than the supermarket own brand sanitary pads I have been using. However they're not so expensive that the cost outweighs the quality and comfort. 


If you'd like to find out more about the Tena Lady Lights range then visit their website, http://www.lightsbytena.co.uk/ , where you'll also find some tips and an App you can download to help improve your pelvic floor muscles. 

I kid you not, there's an App to help you stop 'ooooping' yourself now!  








'I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity." 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

The One With the C Word






No I'm not going to be really rude and use 'that' word.

I'm talking about Christmas.

This is our first Christmas at school and blimey the admin involved. I must have had at least one letter back home in the book bag everyday since the beginning of December.

Firstly there's been the school production where the boy was a snowman. Yes I know I don't remember there being a snowman at the nativity either, but then I also don't remember there being an Elf, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer or Santa there, but apparently they all were. He did really well bless him and hubby and I did the proud, slightly teary, parent thing. 

After that there was the Christmas lunch to book in for, then next week it's the school theatre trip. There's a parent 'bake off' too, as well as the class Christmas party, which requires you to provide party food to share, then the 'wear your own clothes and bring a toy into school day' at the end of term. Yes they still do that.

I can't keep up with it all.

And of course it all costs money! A £1 for this, a couple of quid for that. It all goes to school funds and I don't begrudge it, but it all takes some remembering.

Today's activity, in a seemingly never ending stream of Christmas fun, was the school fair and Santa was coming. This caused much excitement from the boy, who has been talking about Christmas since May. I'm not entirely sure he's ever really got over Christmas finishing last year to be honest.

Bugger his birthday it's all about the big C for the boy.

You paid £2 and then your child would be accompanied by their teacher during the afternoon to see Santa before the fair began. A kind of first dibs system for reception pupils before siblings all turned up at 3.30. 

So all the way to school this morning he was firing Santa related questions at me. 

When is he coming? Will he have a present for me? What will it be? What will he say? Where will he be? What does he look like? What time is he coming again?

Oh my god the questions! I answered them all patiently and as best I could, whilst negotiating the school run, the icy rain and the kamikaze lollipop ladies who dive in front of you at any given moment. 

Tonight I picked him up as usual and asked if he'd had a good day?

'I saw Father Christmas.' came the excited reply.

'And what did he say darling?' I asked expectantly 

'Ho, Ho, Ho of course' said the boy with a 'duh Mum' tone in his voice. 'Everybody knows that!'

And that's all he had to say about that. 

This answering questions lark obviously doesn't extend both ways it would seem......










Friday, 14 November 2014

The One With The Cat, The Mouse and the Jam Jar



Out of all of us in the Random household I'm always telling Bob Cat that she's no bother, because bless she is no bother.

Well she was no bother until the other day. 

I knew she was stalking something from the moment we got up, but I thought it was a spider. She would hunker down then leap about, next she'd stop very still and wait with her nose pressed to the floor desperately trying to look under the sofa.

I left her to it as she's a skitty kitty and always darting about so I didn't take too much notice, and then later I forgot all about it.

It was after I'd picked the boy up from school and we'd returned home that things developed. 

I went into the kitchen to put the kettle on and get him a snack when I heard the boy calling me from the lounge,

"Mummy. We have a problem' came the fateful words.

'What is it darling?' I replied thinking it was probably that I hadn't put Frozen on yet!

The boy joined me in the kitchen.

'Mummy. There's a rat.'

WHAT??????

It'd all gone a bit Fawlty Towers. 

I raced into the lounge. Luckily it wasn't a full scale outbreak of the bubonic plague but there in the middle of the living room floor was a small grey/brown mouse lying on his side and not looking too lively. 

I deduced it's presence was Bob's work from earlier. Bless Oscar, but at 17 years old with the best will in the world he'd do well to catch a cold let alone a mouse.

The mouse hadn't been there when we first got in, so he must still be alive to come out from under the chair, where I assumed he'd been hiding since Bob's stalking spree that morning. So I took it he was playing dead.

The cats? Oh they were nowhere to be seen. Neither use nor ornament those two. They were asleep on the bed. 



'Can you get rid of it please Mummy?' asked the boy. 

He wasn't scared, just inconvenienced. This apparently dead mouse was currently lounging all over his Octonauts Deep Sea Octolab and he wanted to be getting on with his adventure thank you very much. There are no mice in the ocean. They are not legitimate sea creatures. We'll gloss over the fact Captain Barnacles is a polar bear; mice are not part of the game. 

I made that noise you do when you don't know what to do. You know the one. That sort of whining,

'Errrrrrrrr... ummmmmmm.....ahhhhhhh......'

Then a flash of inspiration struck me. I ran to the recycling and grabbed a jam jar and lid. 
The offending rodent was still laying motionless on the carpet so I tiptoed towards it and scoped Mr Mouse up with the jar. I popped the lid on the top and moved quickly to the front door, where I let the little fella go into the front garden.

All the time the boy was following my adventures and when it was done he clapped his hands enthusiastically and declared,

'Well done Mummy. That was brilliant. Can I have a snack now?'

'Yes of course you can darling' I smiled 'Just let me disinfect everything within an inch of it's life first.' 

Bloody cat......... 




Friday, 7 November 2014

The One With The First Week Back




I think half term discombobulated the boy.

Don't get me wrong, he loved being at home, seeing both sets of grandparents, trips to the zoo and the park, going bowling with some of his NCT mates, having play dates with Lemon Cake Boy and Vintage Songstress and her lad and finishing the week with a Halloween tea party and trick or treating.

We packed a lot in.

I just think, especially when he started playing up and being on the want all the time, that this holiday lark was slightly overwhelming. 

The boy needs structure. That has become abundantly clear this week on our return to school. On Sunday we talked about going back and getting everything ready again after half term. Luckily he didn't seem phased. I thought he might because when he was at nursery and pre-school he still went even during the holidays, albeit on shorter hours. The only time we ever had a holiday was when we actually went away somewhere. So the whole concept of half term and then going back was pretty alien to him.

I needn't have worried. When it came to pick up time from school on Monday he was like a different boy. 

Sat in the back of the car with his snack and drink he suddenly enquired,

'Did you have a lovely day Mummy?'

He then proceeded to tell me what he'd had for lunch and something about what he'd done that day. Unheard of. He's since been a darling all week. No bother at all. 

All a far cry from the screaming, sobbing child having a tantrum on the floor of the local museum gift shop because we wouldn't buy him an £18 dinosaur, which led hubby to unceremoniously pick him up and bundle him out of the door after our trip had lasted... oh.. all of 2 minutes. 

It was probably our fault for trying to do too much. School takes up such a huge chunk of the week that when you do get some time together there's this need to make it special. In reality the boy would've probably been just as happy watching Scooby Doo and Frozen over and over again whilst drinking strawberry milk and eating digestives. It's us parents who feel that we have to provide endless activities.

And for this I blame Facebook.

Confronted with constant statuses of ever more elaborate fun filled days out by parents and their kids over half term 'keeping up with the Jones' is now on a global scale.

And it's not just fancy holidays and self congratulatory selfies on family days out with everyone looking happy and no one crying or screaming or throwing their water bottle at a llama. My timeline is full of proud boasts of how little Johnny, who is probably only 3 and a half, can play Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata or is fluent in Arabic or can read the complete works of pissing Shakespeare already! 

I'm pleased for them, no I really am (she says through gritted teeth) but in this house it's all about little victories. If the boy picks up a crayon and does a scribble we feel like we're won the FA Cup. 

Maybe I'm just jealous because with a child with SEN, I don't feel like we have much to boast about.

So I gave it some thought and realised, yes we do..... yes we bloody well do.

So here goes. Excuse me while I have a damn good boast

The boy is:

Funny - he has a wicked sense of humour and can time a joke to perfection. He's a natural at it.

Creative - his imagination is amazing. He can also weave his current favourite book, TV show and film along with everything and everyone around him into a story.

Musical - he will sing, dance, drum and strum in time and learn the words to songs really quickly. He'll even start riffing new lyrics to tunes once he knows them well.

Kind and Caring - he doesn't have a spiteful bone in his body. He may be hyper and over exuberant at times but he never means any harm. He genuinely loves people and is just so happy to see you. He hates to see his friends cry and feels upset for them. 

Polite - he's got lovely manners even down to saying good morning to the cats when we all wake up. 

Playful - he immerses himself in his games but he doesn't always need toys to have a good time. Give that boy a pile of cushions, a blanket and some cardboard tubes and he'll build dens, forts and castles for hours. 

Good looking - I know I'm bias but the boy is proper handsome. If he does end up being 6ft 6in he could be a top model and keep his mum in style in her old age.

Loving - he tells us he loves us everyday and we tell him too. Then at night just before he goes to sleep he lists all the people in his life he loves. 

Helpful - he tidies his toys away at the end of the day without complaint and helps me cook and bake. He will lay the table and take his cup and plate out to the kitchen. 

He may not be showing many academic traits, yet, but he's the most gorgeous, gentle, loving, kind and wonderful little boy I've ever met and I'm honoured to be his Mummy.

I'll take that over being able to speak 10 languages and having grade 8 clarinet any day.