Monthly Archives

August 2010

Endless Love #TheGallery #Blogladesh

Posted on 29th August 2010 in #thegallery/ 29 August 2010/ beach/ blogladesh/ endless love/ Mersea

Took the boys to Mersea beach on Sunday 29th August – camera in my bag ready to take a nice family snap for my entry into #TheGallery this week.

I did take some nice photo’s of the boys, but the photo I am entering instead is one I took of 2 complete strangers. It was VERY cold on the beach, the wind was blowing a gale and there was lots of rain in the air (we were wearing wellies, jeans and hoodies!). As I turned my face away from yet another sand swirl I spotted 2 people gingerly making their way down the beach. They had bare legs and feet and held hands as they walked across the stones.

This picture was taken on ‘one day in august’ when participating mummy bloggers (and daddy bloggers) ALL took a photo on the 29th August 2010 in support of the mission #Blogadesh

2 is for… Two Moons Tonight?

Posted on 27th August 2010 in 2 moons/ 27 august 2010/ astronomy/ hoax/ mars/ moon/ son


I did take a photo of the moon last night, and there WAS a planet to the right of it, not quite the ‘2 moons’ extravaganza but there was something there.

But. What planet was it?

Is Friday the 27th of August 2010 the night the WHOLE WORLD is waiting for? Or is it not until 2018?

The rumour is:

“Planet Mars will be the brightest in the night sky starting August. It will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. This will cultivate on Aug. 27 when Mars comes within 34.65M miles off earth. Be sure to watch the sky on Aug. 27 12:30 am. It will look like the earth has 2 moons.”

The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287.

Whether it is tonight or in 2018, NO ONE ALIVE TODAY will ever see it again.

My 10y/o is very excited about this (have promised faithfully to wake him up at midnight if I can see 2 moons…..) but I’ve also heard that this is an internet hoax – hmmm.

True or false – what do you think?

Making The Best Of It

Posted on 25th August 2010 in brighton/ children/ complaint/ contact/ customer service/ Premier Inn/ son/ step-dad

The plan was that my boys went to stay with their dad for a week (commencing Sat 21 Aug) and that me and my OH would go to Brighton for 2 days leaving on the 22nd.

We would never, ever book for a whole week as my ex is too unreliable for that!

To cut a long story short, sadly (for my boys) my ex did not have them at all. Leaving us with our precious 2 days away disappearing before our eyes AND 2 very disappointed boys.

We decided to still go to Brighton with our vast budget of £200(!). After much trawling of the internet we found a nice looking hotel on Regency Square which offered a ‘family room’ that was actually a double room and a twin room with interconnecting doors via a bathroom – for £120. Huge chunk of the budget but at least it meant that once the boys were in bed we would have our own space to quaff ludicrous amounts of wine, eat chocolate and watch a movie.

Unfortunately, when we checked into the hotel it left A LOT to be desired :(

We’d been really trying to be upbeat about not having time alone, we’d accepted that our trip to Brighton would be very different with 2 boys in tow than on our own, but the state of this hotel was a bridge too far.

Quick list of complaints: damp patch on ceiling in twin room, damp pillows in twin room, no tv in twin room, the double room was actually a twin room too, tiny tv in double room, no chair or mirror in either room, bathroom had a back door in it that was half glass and looked out onto god knows what, bathroom had damp all up one wall, bathroom looked as though someone had vomited up again back door, bathroom paint around the sink was falling off in clumps.

There were other things but that will do. So I got our money back (OH was stunned – said I had no chance of a refund) and we walked 5 mins into town and checked into the Premier Inn.

£77 for a massive family room, all clean and all dry – and we all breathed a sigh of relief!

Off to the pier we went and the boys discovered why mummy saves up change in the big pepsi bottle in the lounge! After we’d emptied a disgraceful amount of change into the machines at the pier we went off for lunch at The Seven Stars – the boys loved it and the OH was very happy too as he had a sneaky pint of Bombardier.

We sat on the beach while the boys threw stones at the sea (never understood that, must be a boy thing), we walked along the sea front and wound our way through the lanes. OH showed the boys the shop where we bought my engagement ring (we got engaged in Brighton – didn’t tell anyone – then on xmas day that year my OH ‘proposed’ on one knee in front of our families).

We had dinner in the Ha Ha Bar which was really nice and the waitress was lovely, we were reminded of how good customer service can be!

Back to the room and we popped the TV on for a 5 minute chill out and OH couldn’t find the freeview channels. After much button pressing, head shaking and tutting he rang down to reception and a lady said she would ‘send someone up’ sure enough, 5 mins later a lady came up, pressed 1 button on the remote and hey presto there were the freeview channels! My 9 y/o who was sitting on the bed with my OH (his stepdad) said “That must have been the only button my dad didn’t press!”. #MagicMoment

Bedtime went smoothly, the boys were good as gold and didn’t make a sound after we’d put them in bed (the promised trip to the LEGO store if they were good may have helped).

Next day started with a massive breakfast (the boys were ridiculously impressed with the premier inn breakfast) and then off the the LEGO store where for some reason our £40 of LEGO rang up at £30 – I did query it as I’m too honest for my own good, lol, but she said if that’s what it rang up at then that’s what it was. Cool. They have a snazzy machine in LEGO shops where if you hold the box up to the screen a 3D image of all the little men and the LEGO model come to life – it’s really cool and OH and I played with it while the boys chose what to buy! My 10y/o was mesmerised by the LEGO Architecture range.

We had booked Sea Life tickets in advance online as it is £15 cheaper that way and had a lovely trip around looking at on the fish, the rays were especially wonderful as we fed them and then they kept sort of standing up in the water and showing us their lovely smiley faces! The boys loved the glass bottom boat trip where we saw sharks and turtles and discovered that a cute little yellow fish was the most dangerous thing in the tank!

A late lunch at an italian restaurant was yummy and then we began the trip home – sadly all the roads were shagged which meant that a 2 hour drive turned into a 4 hour drive but we still all came home happy.

In retrospect, although we missed our weekend away, I think the weekend that we ended up with was pretty special too and I know that it has created some happy and lasting memories for the boys.

D is for… Disgusting

Posted on 20th August 2010 in blogadesh/ disgusting/ tramp/ tsunami/ writing workshop

Writing Workshop Badge

#Writing Workshop.

Prompt 3: Pay attention to a stranger you meet this week or observe, and write about them.

I should point out that I went to town today without having read the #writingworkshop prompts.

I had a hasty lunch today, with my 2 sons. We went into Bakers Oven and I had a chicken roll, some crisps and a diet coke. My 2 boys (who had already had a healthy lunch) were apparently ‘starving’ so they had a sausage roll each.

We sat down in a corner table (I can’t stand having my back to a room, it makes me really uncomfortable) I’d had a quick scan around at the other diners, to  my left there was an older lady with a cup of tea who seemed to be taking in the world. Along from her was a young girl and boy (22ish) with a younger girl (7ish) I paused for a while to think what the relationship might be – sisters and boyfriend? Mum, dad and daughter? Furthest away was a teacher from my children’s last school with a young boy – we discussed the teachers name (I was wrong, the boys were right!). Nearest to us was a hassled looking family, mum in a vest top with bra straps showing, brightly coloured 3/4 trousers (I speculated in an instant on whether or not she was fatter than me – I think she wasn’t…), 2 kids, one who was dancing in the middle of the floor and one who was quietly eating. It flashed through my mind that they should make the girl sit down before my eyes focused on the man sitting in the centre of the room.

He was sitting on his own at a table, he wore a heavy dark coat with a hood that was up. Poking out from under the hood was the peak of a cap. My view of him was completely in profile as he was sitting side on. He had a cup of tea and a fruit scone which was coated in butter and he appeared to have cut it into lots of pieces. When I first noticed him he was licking the knife. Gross, I thought. He was making a really big deal of it and it made me feel a bit sick. I glanced at my boys to see if they’d noticed him but they didn’t seem to have. From their angle they would probably only have seen the back of his head.

I carried on the conversation I was having with my boys, told my youngest that no, we couldn’t go and buy some lego atlantis…. and looked up again, this time the man was sipping the cup of tea, very very slowly, when he had put the cup down he then wiped very slowly at his mouth. It was somehow creepy but I didn’t look away. He cut another bit of the scone and then licked the knife again, I thought it was disgusting – it wasn’t an idle lick of the knife it was a very slow deliberate action and he sat with the knife in his mouth for several long seconds at a time.

We didn’t stay long, I left half my crisps and 3/4 of the bottle of diet coke. We did the other things that we needed to do in town and then walked back along the high street to the car. Half way along the street I spotted the man, he was standing outside the Bakers Oven near a phone booth, still in his heavy black coat with the hood up. He reached into the phone booth and checked the slot for change. I looked at him again and noticed quite how dirty he was, by his feet was a flithy torn rucksack and 4 carrier bags stuffed with full of ‘stuff’.

It dawned on me that he was a rough sleeper. I guess he had somehow got together enough money for that tea and that scone and that the staff at the Bakers Oven were clearly much less judgmental than me and so they’d been kind enough to serve him despite his appearance and let him linger and savour his food. Presumably the reason he was licking that knife with such intent is that he was hungry and he wanted to enjoy every last scrap of his frugal meal.

So, D is for… DISGUSTING. Not him, but me. I hope that he looked at me and thought look at her she shouldn’t be eating those crisps, what is she doing giving those boys sausage rolls for lunch – and how wasteful she is for leaving half of it. But I bet he didn’t, I bet he didn’t even know that we were there because he was too busy enjoying his cup of tea and his fruit scone.

On the radio in the car on the drive home it mentioned people suffering a ‘slow motion tsunami‘. My thoughts turned to the wonderful ladies who are are offering their time to support #Blogadesh and with a touch of well deserved shame I thought about how the man from the cafe or the poor people suffering in Bangldesh and Pakistan would have appreciated the food that I bought and discarded today or the sausage rolls that my boys ‘needed’ even though they’d just eaten.

I’m sorry.

Eczema friendly washing liquid

Posted on 17th August 2010 in child/ children/ eczema/ Itchy & Scratchy/ son

A quick post, it’s a review but I want to stress that it’s a review because it’s a product that I wanted to try.

One of my sons has quite severe eczema, this is worsened by almost everything and means that finding suitable laundry products are a bit of a nightmare. Please see The Itchy & Scratchy Show for details of our battle with eczema.

I recently tried a laundry product from Alma Win which claims to be completely safe for people with eczema.

I have tried several other washing products that weren’t meant to be skin friendly and in general have either found them to be completely ineffective at washing or in some cases, actually make his skin worse.

But, I have to say that this stuff actually got the clothes really clean! And he has shown no effects from it.

The bain of my life (well, one of them!) is the kids school polo tops. They seem to be dirt magnets and almost never come clean. But, this liquid detergent got them clean!

Before washing:

After washing:

The only downside to the product, and it’s an obvious one really, is the smell. It has a very subtle aroma of herbs. I quite like it now but found it unusual to start with. It honestly is quite subtle. They do also sell a lemon concentrate that you can add to scent the wash but I was scared of trying it as one of the major things that upsets his skin is citrus.

Product retails for £6.06 for 750ml and is available at

To eleven plus or not to 11+?

Posted on 17th August 2010 in 11+/ child/ CRGS/ eleven plus/ grammar school/ son

What do you think about the 11+?

My oldest son is quite a clever old sausage and always does very well at school.

We had to move schools recently (1/4 of way through year 5) for 2 reasons, 1 because we weren’t happy with the head teacher at the old school (long story, more of a politician than a caring head teacher), and 2 because we wanted to move nearer to a better comprehensive school. The one we were near was getting around 46% in the league tables which we didn’t feel offered the boys a good enough chance.

The subject of the eleven plus had come up at the old school and the head had said #quote “he hasn’t got a hope in hell”. So, much as I disliked the man I did accept that he probably had a better idea about that sort of thing than me and we forgot all about the 11+.

Fast forward to new school – after 2 weeks the class teacher asked to speak to me and asked me how he was getting on with his eleven plus tuition. I explained that he wasn’t sitting the eleven plus (and why). She was horrified. She said that she was very sure he would have a really good chance of getting into the grammar school and literally said that she begged me to reconsider.

Extra dilemma here is that the grammar school near us is Colchester Royal Grammar school – one of the best grammar school’s in the country. That should be a good thing, BUT, it means that the curriculum is massive and very intense.

From a pressure point of view, it is only acceptable to get As.

Oldest stepson lives in Kent, near him there are 3 grammar schools all of varying degrees of excellence. If we lived in Kent I would be very happy for oldest son to do the 11+ as he would almost certainly pass (nearly 500 boys get in there as opposed to 96 here) and the 2nd/3rd grammars aren’t as intense.

We discussed this with oldest son who said he DOES NOT want to go the the grammar school. He did do 11+ tuition for a while but was incredibly unhappy so after a lot of conversations we agreed to stop the tuition and let him go to the comprehensive.

505 boys sat the exam last year, only 96 got in.

This is a quote from the local gazette (by James Calnan):

TOP selective schools in Colchester are attracting parents who cannot afford to go private.

A “Migration Monitor” used by home move website finds the town, which has two of the country’s top five grammar schools, is the third most attractive destination for people looking for a new home.

Chelmsford, with two more grammar schools in the top ten, heads the list and experts believe one reason is that parents who cannot afford to send their children to a fee-paying school are instead paying for private tuition in a bid to get them into a grammar school.

Colchester Royal Grammar School (CRGS) saw the numbers of youngsters hoping to gain entry in September this year increase by nearly ten per cent.

Last November, 505 children hoping to join CRGS sat the 11-plus exam, compared to 464 the previous year, while Colchester County High School has seen a smaller rise, from 485 to 499.

Roseanne Bullen, sales and marketing manager for Linden Homes Eastern, predicted this trend could become more marked in the next few years.

“As a growing number of families shun private schools and their expensive fees in favour of some of the UK’s top grammar schools, Colchester is set to benefit from a surge of families moving into the area,” she added. Read more in the Gazette

I discussed this recently with a lovely lady on twitter – who suggested that I was insane for not putting him in for the 11+ as passing it would mean that he would be educated at one of the best state schools in the country.

Since this conversation, and because I am the queen of indecision, I have discussed this again with oldest son. I also shared with him the aforementioned lovely lady from twitter’s opinion. “No” he said “I don’t want to go”. His reasons are pressure, losing friends, too many languages to learn (he prefers maths and science stuff).


Next day, at bedtime, oldest son says “Ok, I’ll go, but can I do the tuition at home?”


So, with just 3 months to go we are now planning an emergency 11+ tuition programme…. fingers crossed!

But what do YOU think about the eleven plus and about grammar schools? Let me know?

E is for… Easy Risotto!

Posted on 8th August 2010 in children/ cooking/ risotto

I’m not the world’s best cook – or hopefully the world’s worst! But I always get praise for my lasagne and my risotto. Here is my easy peasy risotto recipe, if I can cook it, anyone can!

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 medium onions

1 clove garlic

4 or 5 mushrooms

500g chicken

knob of butter

1 litre hot chicken stock

250g italian risotto rice

175ml single cream

a few turns of black pepper

handful of cooked peas


Melt the butter in a large pan and add the garlic (finely chopped) and the onions (roughly chopped). I tend to use Lazy Garlic as I’m, well, lazy.

Soften these for a few mins and then add the chicken (chopped into equal size pieces). Once the chicken is sealed, add the chopped mushrooms and the risotto rice. I add a few turns of black pepper at this point.

Stir this for a couple of mins, then add the hot chicken stock 1 ladle at a time…. This is a slow process and really shouldn’t be rushed. Add 1 ladle and stir gently until the stock has been absorbed, then add another ladle and so on. This process usually takes around 2-25 mins.

As you add the last ladle, add a handful of cooked peas – this lifts the colour of the risotto and adds a nice fresh taste too. Then stir in the single cream, heat through for a couple more mins and you are done!

I usually serve my risotto with roasted asparagus and grated cheese (and a very large class of very cold dry white!). To roast the asparagus, break off the stalk at the natural point, lay the spears onto a baking tray, spray with 1 cal spray, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, then add very light drizzle of olive oil. Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins depending on how you like it – I like it crunchy!

And then, because apparently risotto isn’t enough…..

And there we have it! My entry for the Bosch Dishwasher link up hosted by @Scottishmum.

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