Blown Away…

We are a family of penguin lovers, in fact, we just had one to stay with us for the summer holidays! We crafted him out of a sock and various pieces of felt, don’t panic.

It was a pre starting-school project for my 4-year-old, so seeing Blown Away, a show based on Rob Biddulph’s 2015 book about the adventures of Penguin Blue and friends, was a no-brainer. And with the additional promise of acrobatics the pre-show excitement levels are high (and that’s just me).

As we wait for the show to start we hear a noise behind us, like quacking, then sure enough 3 penguins waddle past us onto the stage. They immediately proceed to show off their acrobatic skills to the oohs and wows of the little people (and some big people) watching. I overhear one small boy protest that he too can do that move.

Our 3 friends for this adventure are penguin’s Blue, Flo and Jeff. Blue wants to fly, to see beyond their home and so they fly together (albeit unintentionally), on a kite away from the ice and snow. On the way, they pick up Wilbur the (accordion-playing) seal and a polar bear called Clive, who, rather fortunately, agrees not to eat them but to come along for the ride instead. We continue on with Clive who ends up in the jungle, where he meets a very cheeky monkey, called, well….Monkey. This is a momentous experience for Clive because he is used to being alone and now suddenly he sees the value and enjoyment of having friends.

Blown Away

As we waddle, dive, jump and swing through the story the acrobatics’ get more impressive, a tightrope walk no less and the accordion (did I mention the accordion?) gets chirpier.

The show is an utter delight, all about adventure and imagination, two of most vital ingredients in the ‘happy childhood’ recipe. It showcases strength, agility, humour, puppetry and wonderfully crafted songs.

“Never throw away a chance for an adventure. Imagination keeps your dreams afloat”. Just one of the lovely choruses we are treated to.

The story draws to a close as despite the excitement of new friends and warmer surroundings, Clive is too hot in the jungle and the penguins miss home. A makeshift boat is hastily thrown together for their homeward journey to the tune of “I want to go home, I miss my Mum, I miss my bed, I miss my ted. I miss the snow; at the end of the day you miss what you know”.

Never has a truer word been spoken by a penguin, an (accordion-playing) seal and a polar bear!

Mind How You Go….

For my Daughter, who starts school this September….

Open your book, it’s Chapter one,
a whole new world has just begun.
As you turn each page & breathe the world in,
remember I’m here, should you need anything.

Step out, look up, there’s much to find,
be bold, be brave and always be kind.
I’m excited to see you blossom & grow,
but remember darling, mind how you go.

Everything’s changing but don’t be afraid,
discovering new things is how dreams are made.
It’s ok to feel scared, sad or unsure,
we’ll talk when you need to, that’s what I’m here for.

You only look forward, I understand that,
but Mummy can’t help sometimes looking back.
You see 4 years flew by at incredible pace,
how did so much time pass since I first saw your face?

Have your say and stand your ground,
don’t ever let anyone push you around.
You’ll sparkle & shine, this I already know
but baby please, mind how you go.

So this is it, off we go to school,
I know you’re ready but you look so small.
Ask questions, join in, but also listen a while.
Make friends, make memories, make everyone smile.

I’ll be thinking of you every day,
I’m right behind you if you lose your way.
There’s no limit to what you can achieve,
incredible things happen to those who believe.

Ignore Mummy’s tears, she’s silly as you know,
but do something for me, just mind how you go.

Mind how you go….

Love from Mummy xxx

Mind How You Go....




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Camping On The Ridiculous

Insane behaviour that suddenly becomes acceptable because you’ve pitched a tent in a field and decided to live there for a while….

We have recently returned from a 2-week family camping adventure that took in Dorset, Cornwall & The New Forest. Due to this low-tech scenario, I took a pad and pen with me, #oldschool and wrote down actual words on paper, as we travelled. After about 4 days away and watching the world (translation – ‘being a nosey cow’), I started to note down a few bits about camping and the way that people behave in this environment, that struck me as completely nuts but also brilliant.

Basically, things that you wouldn’t dream of doing if you were at home. Things that suddenly just because you’re sitting in a field in a canvas chair become completely acceptable.

Here’s a few bonkers soundbites from our little trip:

1. You leave all your worldly possessions behind a sheet of plastic approximately 1mm thick and go out for the day. Making sure you pull the zips right down and fasten the Velcro tight, yeah that’ll stop the burglars. Seriously? It’s like putting all your stuff in the front garden and going to work. Nobody does this, ever.

2. You let your children talk to strangers. Yep, all kinds of strangers, men, women, children, dogs, horses, you name it. Suddenly everyone forgets this isn’t standard protocol anymore. Anyone who even looks in the direction of your child presents a case of STRANGER DANGER, don’t they? However, there aren’t & never will be any bad people on a campsite. (But maybe don’t quote me on that….)

3. Your personal hygiene standards take a massive nosedive. Where leaving the house would normally involve some combination of soap, water, deodorant & perfume, you settle for baby wipes and turning your pants inside out. I know, kinda gross. But totally workable for a few days at least.

4. Wearing a head torch is cool. FACT. In any other situation you just look like a total dick (unless you work down pit, I guess?) but on a campsite, you’re in the cool gang (finally!) and many fellow campers will marvel at your illuminated hands-free abilities.

5. Your bedtime routine transforms from an elaborate event, perhaps involving moisturiser, cleanser, mouthwash, floss etc, to a piss in the bushes (yes, the ladies too, don’t lie, we all know you’ve squatted like a pro when you can’t be arsed to walk 100 yards to the toilet block) and a quick once round with the toothbrush.

6. Sex anyone? Are you crazy? There is no sex on a family campsite. Remember the 1mm think plastic you’re sheltering under? Your need to be warm and snug will far out way any ideas about actually touching your partner. Plus you will invariably have at least one child with you on your now slowly deflating air bed. Shutting their door and ignoring them is regrettably not an option in a tent.

7. Getting dressed is basically a hassle, especially if you have kids, so most people just don’t bother. Walking around in your pj’s is totally accepted. Combine this little ensemble with a pair of wellies and you are ‘campsite chic, everyone will want to be you. I long to do this on a regular Monday, but in the outside world I fear it will be frowned upon.

Chilling, camping style....
Chilling, camping style….

8. You eat every meal outside. In Britain, this is clearly insane behaviour. If after making my cereal this morning you told me to go out to the garden to eat it I’d tell you where to go and not politely. Leave my cosy kitchen? Don’t be ridiculous. Yet I just did this every morning for nearly 2 weeks (in pj’s & wellies because of course, as already discussed, I had not bothered to dress).

9. Your normally varied and (attempting to be) healthy diet, is reduced down from all the main food groups to just 2. Meat & bread. Makes meal times nice and easy but can result in major ‘blockages. Whilst constipation can sometimes be a blessing on a campsite, be sure to drink copious amounts of alcohol (out of a questionably clean plastic vessel) to counteract this. Tick….

10. You let your children eat pretty much anything, anywhere….
If you go somewhere like The New Forest where there are wild animals roaming, there is basically sh*t everywhere. But gone is the obsessive high chair wiper – “Go on darling you just sit right there and eat your tea, that’s right, right next to that pile of horse shit”. Super!

Don’t let me put you off camping though. It’s brilliant, I love it and so do the kids.



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What Is It With Small Children And Toilet Paper?

“The Beauty Of Unremarkable Things”

What do cheese, toilet paper, keys and shoes all have in common?

They are all unremarkable. But isn’t it amazing how many truly unremarkable things can entertain, fascinate & distract small humans for extended periods of time?

Although we as adults can’t always comprehend the fascination, maybe it’s because not all of these things are always on show and in fact, many might normally be off limits completely for small people, so by offering them you’ll be breaking several house rules and most likely undoing some previous good discipline work. Due to this, there are some associated risks.

Here’s a small selection of unremarkable items that my children suddenly become obsessed with the second they catch sight of them. Sometimes I purposely bring them into play when I just need to get sh*t done or I quite simply want to be left the hell alone!

What Is It With Small Children And….

It’s cheese, what’s not to like right? But my daughter’s favourite, Cheese Strips, have the added benefit of coming in strips (does what it says on the tin), that can be pulled apart. She takes each strip off one at a time and eats them individually. It takes bloody ages, it’s brilliant!!! I can drink a whole cup of tea, sometimes I’ll even go back for another.
*For increased impact add a cracker, so plain, so simple but they’re like a child’s version of catnip. It’ll be like all their Christmas’s have come at once.
Risk Factor – cracker crumbs! You’ll be finding them for days.

….Keys & Remote Control’s?
I’m grouping these together as the benefits are all aligned. Now these are ours, not for them. They perform important jobs and are a massive pain in the arse to mend or replace. Oh…..but how they are coveted by small people. What is it with that? And the thing that gets me the most about keys and remotes is that we’ll buy them their own keys (plastic of course), give them an old remote or even some old real keys. But they know, don’t they? They know they’re not the ‘actual ones’. How is this possible? They can’t string two words together or wipe their own arse’s but they know immediately if you’ve tried to fool them with bogus technology!
Risk Factor – if you do give in and give them the ‘actual ones’ you may never be able to lock the front door again or change TV channel….eh

….Toilet Paper?
Again, why do small people love toilet roll so much? I think it’s the paper dangling there above their heads, isn’t it? They must feel like it’s teasing them. Waving it’s paper loveliness right in their faces. With its potential to be torn so easily into tiny little pieces, it’s quite understandably just too tempting not to reach up and grab. And grab some more…..and a little more. Until yes you have your own makeshift Andrex Puppy.
*Has the potential to amuse for long periods. Just imagine all the things you could get done?
Risk Factor – messy but it is only paper. If they eat some they’ll be fine (I guess?).

One for little-little people. My 1-year-old is obsessed with shoes. I’m sure this will pass *please God*. So for a little time out I just sit him in front of a shoe rack. It’s genius. Just seeing his face light up. Beautiful.
Risk Factor – based on the fact that the 1-year-old likes to ‘post’ things in a variety of inventive places, there is the potential risk of never pairing up some shoes again. Hey ho….

….A Bucket Of Water?
My son was recently introduced to ‘the bucket of water’ on a sunny day in the garden. Hours and I mean hours of entertainment. Splash a ball in….take ball out….throw ball….collect ball….splash ball in……repeat.
*Requires supervision (just 1 eye will do) & good weather.
Risk Factor – possible drowning, so don’t fall asleep during your extended period of relaxation. And obviously the child will end up very soggy, but it’ll be well worth it.

Unremarkable Things

Get these out and you might as well don a long robe and silly hat because congratulations, you’ve just become The Pied Piper. Small children will follow you everywhere. So simple these floaty, transparent globes of joy. And the ‘untouchableness’ only seems to spur them on.
Risk Factor – don’t let them hold the bubble mixture. You know how that ends right?

I am making light of these things, as I always do, but actually whilst writing this, I have found myself smiling at just how wonderful it is that young children are fascinated by so many insignificant things.

For the vast majority of my son’s life, he has not needed shoes. But all the big people around him wear them and in fact, these people have several pairs each. That’s a lot of different shoes that don’t belong to him, no wonder he’s so interested.

We should perhaps every now and then try to view the world a bit more like our children do.

Let’s be more fascinated, let’s fully embrace the bubbles, the water and the cheese. In fact, let’s maybe do all three of those at once!

I am massively guilty of non-embracing. Life is so busy and complicated, I’m always thinking about the time it’ll take me to clear up and forgetting about the potential joy that will come before. Re-rolling a roll of toilet paper is such a phaff and it will never fit back on the holder. But. Maybe once in a while, we should just let them do it and think about the mess later?


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How To Be A Superhero

I’m a mini geek with aspirations to advance this status slightly in the future. So part of my homework is learning how to make incredible things happen. This has led me to the Starboard Festival, a small outdoor performing arts festival for children & young people, in Brighton.

My friend and I arrive that the Brighton Open Air Theatre and “WOW”, is the phrase I use on our arrival. What a superb venue, it is beautiful and completely perfect for a sunny Sunday afternoon’s entertainment. Looking out from the top step, you can see all the way to the sea.

We are here to see ‘How To Be A Superhero’.

And I for one am pretty excited about this. Tagging along are two 4-year-olds, so let’s superhero-up this review and call the boy ‘Dangerous Duke‘ and the girl ‘Marvellous Mei’. Fitting for the inevitable stars of this little show.

Dangerous Duke is dressed as a ‘casual’ Batman and Marvellous May as a ‘generic’ Bat/Super Girl cross (Superheros are complicated for girls, ok). I think they are ready. My friend and I, perhaps erroneously, are wearing no superhero attire at all.

How To Be A Superhero

The show starts, much more quietly than I had imagined but we are drawn in by the slightly suspicious-looking man on the stage, as he wanders around quietly, then sits down in his chair to eat raw cabbage, I kid you not!

Our hero ‘The Magician’ has had his superpowers taken away by ‘The Collector’ and we are charged with helping him get them reinstated and rid the world of this evil tyrant. The Magician is afraid and needs our help. We are happy to oblige, and it seems, help him eat raw cabbage.


There is no jumping, diving, fighting or shouting. The Magician talks quietly to the children, in a way that is so captivating and to my surprise, he holds all their attention in this big open space.

The show is about belief, imagination and the power of working together. We are treated to a series of superb magic tricks that our little Superheros are able to get up and join in with in our attempt to beat The Collector. We see torn posters resembled, spoons bent and a Houdini-style escape.

We learn that super-strength doesn’t have to mean physical power. Immersed in the show, we really believe we can help save the world using our imagination and collective energy.

In a glass-shattering finale, The Collector (the cabbage), I knew it wasn’t just a healthy snack! Is defeated.


If you BELIEVE, you can make incredible things happen – The greatest superpower of them all.

Perhaps The Magician’s best trick of all though was getting 20 young children to eat cabbage, now that’s impressive!


To My Younger Self – Everything is not always as it seems….

When I was younger, much younger, early 20’s say. I used to look at Mums with young children walking down the road, mostly in horror.

It just looked an awful thing, the Mum always looked harassed, tired and unkempt. It didn’t look enjoyable at all, in fact, it looked miserable.

I made up my mind then that I didn’t ever want to be that person (I know, I know….)

*10 year’s pass*……..

Now that I have unavoidably been that person and still am now (thankfully slightly less tired & unkempt) to a toddler and a nearly-at-schooler, I naturally feel quite differently about the scenario.

I know these people now, we are in the same big tribe. I know we shouldn’t feel bad, embarrassed or sorry for them because the majority of them are ok (most of the time). They’re OK with sometimes looking a bit ropey, not having time to brush their hair or the mental ability to coordinate their clothes. Because they managed to get their sh*t together enough to leave the house this morning and get fresh air, they managed to pick up a few bits from the shop and they managed to deliver an older sibling to school on time. I now know how much of a big deal this is and that levels of achievement and measures of success are set only by you and vary greatly depending on where you are in your life.

And although back then, I walked around the corner thanking the Lord I wasn’t them and their life wasn’t mine, when I turned my back, I now know what I missed:

  • I missed the mum with the newborn, leaning into the pram and smiling adoringly at her peacefully sleeping baby (finally). She still can’t believe that she created this whole new person, nurtured them and brought them into the world. And although she cannot find the words to tell you how tired she is, she also cannot describe how much in love she is with this tiny human being. A love like she has never felt before.
  • I missed the mum with the toddler, who after having a meltdown in the middle of the street about wearing socks, took his Mums’ hand and started to sing. They sing Twinkle Twinkle together as they walk down the road and they don’t care who hears them. They do the diamond shape with their fingers and giggle at each other. Her annoyance about the irrational sock incident has melted away.
  • I missed the mum dropping her daughter off at the school gates. Who catches sight of a friendly smile through the crowd and although the friend has to get to work, she stays for 5 minutes to chat because she knows that 5 minutes of adult conversation is what her friend needs today. A caring and encouraging embrace means more than any on-looker could imagine.

For my younger self and other onlookers, these moments, these small moments, that often go unseen, are enough to get her through the day. Enough to power her to bedtime when she can finally have half an hour to herself.

I’m not implying that Motherhood is some kind of idyllic fairytale and your children look like they stepped out of a Benetton catalogue, because quite clearly it’s not.

Motherhood is messy, smelly, relentless, frustrating and tiring. It doesn’t care that you put on nice clothes this morning and now they are covered in unmentionable gunk or that everything you had on your To-Do List for the day has gone to sh*t by 11am.

BUT, it is also full of love, cuddles, pride and laughter. It can draw a day-rescuing smile at any unexpected moment and the strength of love you feel as a parent is really quite extraordinary. A love that can forgive the most ridiculous of misdemeanor in a second, can increase your embarrassment threshold to level – ‘Unbelievable’ (the equivalent of – ‘Bearly Acceptable’ to normal people) and a love that means, on most occasions, there is just enough good in every day to get you to the end and then recharge, before you have to do it all over again!


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My Double Life….

A little look at the double life of a Mummy and the person she used to be.

For the past 4 year’s I have been living a slightly crazy, incredibly busy but very enjoyable double life, in my two world’s, as I like to call them.

In one of these worlds I am known as Mummy and in the other I am known as Michelle.

Many of you will be in the exact same position, juggling a work and a home life, so you will know what I mean and maybe feel the same (are we over-analysing?). Some of you may not think about it much, (I know, you’re busy) and some of you may not even really be consciously aware of it (wow, you’re super busy).

Well, I have been pondering this for the past couple of weeks now, as I have recently returned to work after a year’s maternity leave with my second child. In this past year’s scenario, my Mummy world has been the dominant force, my main focus being nurturing The Boy through his first year, from newborn to adorable whirlwind. So Michelle has had to take a back seat. Now it’s back to work and it’s more like 50/50 or maybe 60/40, in Michelle’s favour.

Here are some thoughts and observations on the subject. I’m going to talk about myself(s) in the 3rd person here, as it works better, just go with it for now.

In this double life, I am obviously just one physical person. Wow, just imagine if there were two of me, the housework…. (I mean amazing things) I could achieve. Anyway, many elements of these two manifestations of myself are similar. For example, Mummy and Michelle live in the same house, have 1 husband and 2 children etc…

But at the same time, many things are different. For example physical tangible things like clothing and accessories.

Also intangible elements like language, the way I act and the way I approach a task.

Then there are ‘cross-over elements’ (are you still with me?). Ok here goes….

Michelle wears makeup and gets to spend a small amount of time thinking about her appearance. Mummy doesn’t know where the makeup is kept and in any case when would she apply this exactly? If you think she should maybe get up a few minutes earlier to squeeze this in, then I don’t think we can be friends. EVERY SECOND OF SLEEP COUNTS….

I know some women would wince at this, it’s not that Mummy doesn’t care about appearance, it’s more about knowing your audience and makeup comes under category – ‘non-essential’.

Mummy has her clothes and so does Michelle, there are some cross-over items here, the odd cardy or pair of jeans but I do feel it’s important to be quite strict in this area. Whilst Mummy can borrow a smart item if the occasion arises, Michelle cannot, for example, go to work in a Mummy item. The holes, the stretches, the sticky food marks, the snot, oh it just doesn’t bear thinking about. For Michelle, the most important thing is that her clothing is protected, at all costs. By this, I’m referring to times like that difficult hour before leaving for work. She is dressed as Michelle but very much in Mummy territory. Here, she is behind enemy lines, constantly under fire and alone. Those little sticky hands and snotty faces are everywhere, she must act quickly to protect herself. Just imagine a scenario where she was hit by enemy artillery fire and perhaps in the carnage didn’t notice and turned up to work (where the young immaculate people are) with vomit or toothpaste slime on her shoulder. Mortifying. Just mortifying. I have taken to wearing a coverall (an old pyjama top) over my work clothes, which seems to be doing the trick.

Michelle runs. She runs to keep fit and feel good and for a bit of her own space and thinking time. Mummy also runs but much shorter distances. From the lounge to the kitchen to get snacks maybe or upstairs to pee, rushing frantically back to check a child hasn’t, in that short time, managed to mortally wound themselves.

Language is something many of us modify depending on who we are with and this situation is no different. Mummy uses phrases like ‘poo poo’ & and ‘dum-dums’ and every morning shouts things like ‘SHOES’ and ‘TEETH’, and although these one syllable outbursts are generally not required in Michelle Land I feel that potentially at work they might actually provoke a more proactive response!
Mummy obviously doesn’t use bad language and is very proficient now at the “oh for …..sake” and the “sh sh sh sugar”. But ****ing hell Michelle likes to swear, a lot. I know, it’s not big and it’s not clever but boy does it make me feel good, pretty much always. Sometimes I wonder if it’s a disease, probably contagious? I wonder how many people I have infected? Luckily, I am surrounded by fellow (mostly incurable) sufferers like myself, which is comforting.

Mummy gets to occasionally (very occasionally) feel like a Superhero. You know the days where you beat the washing, everyone eats what you serve and you manage to arrive places on time.

Michelle gets to have conversations, I mean actual full conversations where you don’t have to leave half way through without even apologising.

Mummy gets to sing silly song’s and dance whilst walking around the supermarket. Yes, this behaviour is quite unbelievably totally acceptable if you have young children with you. Also very liberating, try it, it’s brilliant!

Michelle gets to pee alone.

Mummy, if given an hour whilst the baby sleeps, turns into a super-fast ninja warrior. The sheer volume of output that can be achieved within this minuscule 1-hour time-frame would blow the minds of most mere mortals. She could just sit and drink tea but she doesn’t. It’s one of those unwritten rules and would bring great shame on her people.

Michelle gets to finish ALL of her meal should she wish to. Not having to sacrifice any part of it (normally the best part) to small scavengers that 5 minutes ago couldn’t possibly manage even one more pea.

Mummy gets to spend time with 2 wonderful little people, watching on in amazement at every tiny & ordinary thing they do.

Finding the ideal balance between these two worlds is a constant challenge. Occasionally I yearn for more of Michelle, a brief reminder of the life I used to live before I had to share it with Mummy.

Mummy feels the pressure of guilt, for working and not being there 24/7 for her children.

But I can honestly say, in the grand scheme, it’s nice to have variation in my life and to be different things to different people. And the rewards, in both worlds, on a good day, are plentiful.