Holidays are all about making “special”memories…so here are mine….

The family holiday. A time to relax with loved ones, treat the little darlings to beaches and ice-creams, and take lots of photos so that you can look back with fondness at the happy times in all you holiday destinations. 

So that’s the theory. The realtity is that despite the holiday snaps showing smiley happy families with ice creams in hand, you can bet that the little darlings will behave like fully fledged little shites for a significant proportion of the time. Grievances will range, but as the little darlings get increasingly knackered as the week progresses, so their reasons for tantruming will become all the more absurd. We like to explore new places, but also to go back to new haunts. This week, we have returned to Cornwall, a favourite of ours. Today, as we visited a lovely little fishing village, I realised that I do not recognise towns or villages by their views, restaurants or amenities, but rather by the “incident/s” which occurred there. So that you get an idea of what I mean, I have compiled a list of my personal top favourite holiday memories (warning- you may feel inspired to create your own incident related holiday memory book after reading this):

1. Porthleven, Cornwall

Ah, what a beautiful little fishing village. I remember this place because it has a Rick Stein restaurant. Don’t get me wrong, I do not remember it for the fabulous fish. I remember it because they have an outside balcony which we chose to eat on as we thought we would be the fartherest away from other diners. Sadly, our efforts were in vain. So serious was Daddy and Mummy’s concentration on the wine list, trying to work out which wine would best go with 4 screaming infants, we failed to clock the kids antics. We were alerted by screams from passers by on the street below. We realised that the twins were taking turns to fire the buckets and spades over the balcony onto the passing public in rapid succession. We had 4 buckets and 4 spades, so it rained a fair amount of plastic. As Daddy ran down to the street to apologise, compensate and retrieve, I realised that our table (painted baby blue) was being given a distressed makeover by the other two kids who were happily using the cutlery to scrape off the paint in various patterns. As Daddy ran panting back up the stairs, the drinks arrived. We pretty much downed the wine, threw some cash on the table and legged it. We didn’t go back there today when we re-visited Porthleven. I recognised the waitress, and she clearly recognised us. Her glare spoke volumes.

2. Rhos on Sea, Wales

Wild and rugged North Wales. A beautiful place to explore with kids. Rhos on Sea is a great place to stop for some good old fish and chips on the seafront. After lunch, why not wander down the slipway and let the kids have a little paddle?  My resounding memory of this destination is the slipway, the paddling and the fact that the slipway comes to an abrupt end, which may not be readily apparent to a paddling toddler. Said toddler, fully clothed, plunged off the end of the slipway. Now, given the amount of time and money which I have invested in infant swimming, I fully expected the twin in question to at least make half an effort to swim. Even wiggling his arms would have been fine. Was my time and money well spent? NO. the twin sank like a stone. As I frantically screamed, hubby had to leap in fully clothed and shod, iPhone and wallet in his pocket, to retrieve the twin. The twin screamed a lot. The stocking wearing fish and chip eating blue rinse brigade stared and oohed and aahed like this was the best fucking thing they had seen since last weeks Emmerdale (or whatever it is the blue rinse brigade watch. Actually it’s probably that Oompa Loompa David Dickinson and his car boot sale or whatever he does). Anyway, criticism of our parental supervision was obviously the sole topic of conversation in the entire borough that afternoon. As we stripped and dried the twin in question, we heard a shriek and then howling. The blue rinses approached with tissues at the ready. The older two, bored waiting for the twin to dry, had been climbing the wall. Patch had kneed Lou in the nose prompting a bleed which didn’t properly stop for over a week. Daddy ran for the car clutching the naked twin and the dog. I follow in quick succession clutching the bleeding child, with the remaining two clinging to my legs. I don’t think we will go back to Rhos on Sea. 

3. A campsite somewhere in Brittany

I appreciate that going camping with a 4 year old 2 year old and 1 year old twins may seem like a twattingly stupid idea, and actually, having done it, it really was a twattingly stupid idea. 

It was their first time in a tent. To be fair, the older two were OK. It was the twins that we particularly struggled with. The fact that they had us up around 8 – 10 times a night at home should have acted as an indication of the difficulties we may face camping. Pure desperation for a family holiday in France within budget meant that Daddy and I applied our parental blinkers and barged on ahead with the booking. 

Despite zipping, snuggling and practically tying the twins into their sleeping bags, it never took less than 30 minutes for them to shed the sleeping bags, undo every tent fixing they could locate and start wailing. To be honest, we were stressed. Mummy sampled large quantities of French wine, and we told ourselves wer were doing ok. Apparently, our camping neighbours felt differently. We found a little note on our table one morning. It was frankly outstanding in its arrogance. Now, I will confess that I am still not ‘over’ this experience/note. Give me another 6 months or so, and I will post it along with my response. In summary, the note told me that I was totally fucking up as a parent. It said that I didn’t recognise the true value of good sleep for children, and gave me suggested methods of soothing (bathing, reading to my child, lying next to them). Apparently, sleep in the car or pram does not count as it is not quality sleep. I should ensure 12 hours per night etc etc etc…

I am going to try hard to keep my rant in this post brief. The first point is that they were behind a hedge from us. I cackled with slightly wine induced laughter when I realised that they had no fucking idea that it was twins, rather than just 1 child. We can cut the cry time by 50% first off. Secondly, if I had, at that stage, had any twatting hope of getting the twins to sleep for 12 hours, then obviously I would have taken it. What did she think? That I was going in and wakening the twins every 30 minutes just for the fuck of it? Because hell, what parent actually wants their child to have quality sleep so that they themselves can sleep? Anyway, I left a note back explaining that I was a Paediatrician, and my husband was a child Psychiatrist, and with all due respect, we were perfectly well aware of our children’s needs. I explained that I could write a detailed response, but would rather spend quality time with my children than waste it writing notes to an arrogant interfering bitch. I referred her to our recently published texts on children’s needs including sleep (titles made up, but convincingly realistic I felt). 

(Just to be clear, Daddy and I are lawyers, and clearly have no sodding clue about kids or I would not be in a position to write this blog – still, childish as it is, it made me feel better!).

Anyway, I no longer like France.

4. Winchester, Hampshire

Bit of a cheat as this is now home to us. However, at the time, we had not long moved. My one and only little darling was turning one. I called on family from far and wide to attend this monumentous event. I booked a pizza restaurant as little Patch loved pizza. 

It was busy, and as we waited, Patch had water, and a straw. Patch liked the straw. In fact he couldn’t get enough. He worked his way round the table finishing off everyone’s water through his straw, and crunching the ice cubes. Finally, pizzas arrived. Mummy cut up Patch’s pizza, and then went to take a bite of hers. As mummy opened her mouth to take her first bit, Patch gave a little cough. Mummy turned to him, mouth still open, and at that moment, he vomited. Repeatedly. It took him about 10 minutes to vomit up all the water he had drunk. He vomited into Mummy’s open mouth. It took a lot of blue paper on a big role to mop up. Mummy and grandma had to split grandmas clothes as mummy’s were in a bad way. Mummy will never have a party for a 1 year old again.

5. The New Forest, Hampshire

If you have kids, or even if you don’t, the New Forest is not to be missed. Lovely scenery, free range ponies, wild pigs, and wonderful pubs serving local produce. It is a huge area, and the choice of walks is really huge. We have a walk we like/used to like to do. Due to the nature of this blog, I shall not be more specific.

All I can say is that you should imagine you are running through the trees with the kids, looking for deer antlers, and finding wonderful looking fungi. A child says “Mummy, I need a wee”. You are in the arse end of nowhere, so you crouch the infant down for a quick forest wee. Imagine now how you feel when you realise that the toddler is doing the hugest  stinkiest pooh they have ever done. Baby wipes? What baby wipes. 16 oak leaves later….just as you think things cannot get any worse, and you are dragging 4 whinging infants back through the forest to the car, they discover a ditch filled with water. They start jumping. You start yelling no in your most bossy voice, as you can see what will happen. The little darlings are only encouraged by the coos of passers by about how lovely they all are. And oh look. Splish, splosh, splash, face first in the ditch x 4. It’s only 1.5 miles back to the car….

I am going to stop at 5. Frankly, reliving these has left me a bit bloody knackered! I will post more again. If you have any experiences along the same vein, I would love to hear them. Xxx ps. I am trying not to think about the wind up crab…

Mummy fell down and bumped her head!

Mummy never goes out. Mummy has 4 children aged 6 and under. Mummy’s idea of an ace night is PJ’s, and Indian takeaway, a bottle of Chardonnay and bed by 10. Last night mummy broke a 10 year ‘going out drought’ and went out. 

Last night mummy had grown up gin and tonic with juniper berries, and felt very sophisticated. Then mummy had pizza. Not just any pizza. Grown up pizza with fancy stuff like blue cheese and beetroot. Mummy had some wine with her pizza. Mummy felt tired and wanted to go home, but was persuaded to go to a wine bar. After a couple of glasses of wine, Mummy forgot she was in her 30’s. Mummy started acting like she was in her 20’s. Mummy liked the wine so had some more. Then someone suggested dancing. That sounds fun, thought mummy.

Mummy shook her wobbly bits to Taylor Swift and table danced to Justin Beiber. Mummy hates Justin Beiber and Taylor Swift, but since mummy was in her 20’s last night, she liked them. Mummy had a great time. Then mummy started to feel tired and went home. Mummy didn’t have her keys, so sat outside and fell asleep. Then mummy made it to bed, but fell and bumped her head on the way.

This morning, Mummy definitely feels her age. Mummy’s head hurts. Mummy’s wobbly bits are reminding her that they prefer not to be shimmied to a bit of J-Lo and are much better tucked safely in PJ’s by 10 pm. Any residual thoughts that it may have been worth it were doused by the early morning arrival of 4 small people who variously shouted, sat on mummy, kicked her tummy, and played hairdressers while mummy played dead. 

Then grandma called. She is coming round for lunch. She wants mummy to cook eggs. Mummy doesn’t want to cook eggs. Mummy wants to lie in a cool dark corner for the next few hours.

Mummy is now very well aware that she is not in her 20’s. Mummy is definitely in her 30’s. Mummy will now remember for at least the next 10 years why it is a very bad idea to go out, drink lots of wine, and shake her wobbly bits to Taylor Swift. Tonight, mummy will be in bed by 10pm. 

The Trap – a book review for Mumsnet Books

I love to read. Pre-kids I was rarely found without a book in my hand. Post kids, it’s much harder, but that makes reading a guilty pleasure.

The trouble is that I am a little bit boring in my choice. I like a few dead bodies, and a good detective. When I read the blurb on The Trap, it sounded like it would be right up my street. 

The murder took place before the book commences. Anna, Linda’s sister, is murdered, and Linda believes she saw it happen. Linda is almost as famous for being a recluse, as she is for being an author. I don’t suppose I ever gave any thought to what agoraphobia must be like before I read this book. Yet when I read the vivid behavioural descriptions, it seems to me that I know exactly what it is like. We get to know Linda very well quite early on. That only serves to make the following chapters even more spine chillingly nail biting! 

So what would you do in her shoes if you suddenly saw a high profile public figure and immediately realised that this was whom you had seen murder your sister? Tell the police? Say nothing? Linda does neither. She writes a book about a very similar murder, then grants the killer one single media interview. Alone. At home. 

I am not going to spoil the book for you. What I will say is that the mastery of the language, and believability of the characters means that even a seasoned ‘muder detective’ like me had no idea what the outcome was going to be. It may or may not be the outcome you expect. Whatever your guess, you will enjoy reading this engaging thriller from start to finish. 

Thanks Mumsnet books! 

Ooh ah those summer nights…un-yummy mummy style!

So it’s August. I am on holiday (from work, not life) and it’s past infant o’clock. Supping cocktails on the terrace in the late evening sunshine while the little darlings snooze away the fun of the day?

Am I fuck. I am intermittently supping some grossly acidic totally warm holiday Chardonnay while being bombarded with a documentary on….wait for it….it’s really too exciting…ok, go on then…fucking crisp production in Hampshire (thanks for the racy content BBC2). 

Now I know what you are thinking. At least I am doing this on a Mediterranean terrace, lapping up the warm evening air with the shitty Chardonnay at least being delivered by glass every 5 minutes by some grossly underpaid hotel waiter dressed like a penguin. Think again. I am in North Wales. At my mother in laws (grits teeth and would breathe deeply in through the nose and out through the mouth, but fears instant death due to over inhalation of rampant dog fur if does so. Either that, or death due to the smell of microwaved salmon 😷). 

Over the last 3 days, my husband and I have quite literally worn ourselves into a state of supreme exhaustion trying to over amuse the little darlings so that they will just go the fuck to sleep. In a fit of marital kindness (not to be repeated for at least the next 25 years), I said to darling husband “Oh look, they all seem to have gone to sleep. Why don’t you go on a bike ride?”. Darling husband displayed suspicion and an eagerness to experience freedom all at the same time. With a quick “Well if you don’t mind” muttered so quietly that frankly even if muttered in a nunnery where everyone else had taken a vow of silence it would have been barely audible, he was gone. (He doesn’t know I have booked an afternoon at the hairdressers tomorrow 😉).

I made a plan. A pizza (cooking time 11 minutes) and the bottle of piss poor Chardonnay along with a film (there is no Netflix. In fact, I am nicking someone else’s internet just to blog. Then again, what are neighbours for, right?). The film started at 7.15 pm. It’s now 8.45 pm, and I cannot even remember what the film was now, except that it’s a few years old, quite funny, and something to do with a DJ and a marriage breakup. Don’t get me wrong. I never expected to see the first 15 minutes. 7.30 pm, all 4 in bed. Pizza in the oven. I sit down with piss poor Chardonnay. 

3 whole minutes later, one of the little darlings returns quite literally dripping in toddler crap. There is shit everywhere. I mean everywhere.  The explanation? “I was walking around grandmas room because I couldn’t sleep, and it just came out.” I turn the oven off, and 79 baby wipes and two bedding changes later, the little darling is back in bed. Right, I can still catch up on the film, and the pizza won’t be too burnt/cold. 

Apparently not. You see, grandma has a burglar alarm. The ones which have red flashing sensors. No amount of explanation to two of the little darlings would rationalise the flashing red lights. They mean burglars are coming. I am 5ft 4 1/2 inches. The ceiling is about 8 ft tall. 10 bruises and a step ladder later, and I find myself up a ladder sticking fucking pampers over the alarm sensors (I know, celebrate my maternal ingenuity!). Happy holidays mummy. Pina colada or pampers? What an amazing choice. Oh yes, I don’t have a choice (presuming that if I was drinking pina colada while sticking pampers on an alarm sensor while up a step ladder I may fall off said ladder). 

While I was applying the pampers, the dog consumed the  majority of the pizza. I decided not to care, and just to drink some more of the piss poor Chardonnay. As I poured it, I heard a wail. One twin had put up the cot side on the other twin’s cot. I cannot fix this, and apparently no amount of kicking the cot side while swearing under my breath works. There is nothing wrong with sweets in bed. That should fix everything. Grandma arrives armed with instructions, and 10 minutes later the cot side is back down. We have kept the instructions out.

Momentarily, everyone is quiet. There’s not much left of the piss poor Chardonnay, and nothing left of the pizza. On the plus side, it’s August, it’s the holidays, I am drinking (undrinkable) wine, and I now know it takes more than a year to produce a new flavour of crisp. Turns out that some peoples whole job is just packing crisps. I wonder if they get to drink Pina colada on a Mediterranean terrace?

The little darlings are still yelling. I have missed the entire film (and my pizza) and it’s only 9 hours until they jump on my head in bed screaming what are we doing today mummy? The Chardonnay is done. 

Happy holidays to parents everywhere. May your nights be shit free and pina colada filled. 

#roguetoddlers #thankfuckforwine 

The Un-yummy Mummy goes swimming (in a fashion!)

Summer hols are nearly upon us. All of a sudden, the entire world will become infested with literally squillions of small people, and your routines will be totally fucked. This year is even better than usual, due to the absolutely fantabulous British summer weather we are having. I mean who wants to just pack sun hats and sun cream? Instead, we need to pack for sun, rain, hail, thunderstorms, frost, 8 degrees, 28 degrees, and all in 1 afternoon.

I really struggle with things like queueing with 4 small children for 5 hours just to go on a 1.25 minute long teacups ride, or waiting for 3 hours just to get down a waterslide. The result is that during the school holidays, my little darlings are kept well away from fun fairs, swimming pools, Peppa Pig World and all of the other places that turn into some kind of hell on earth during school hols (I know, I am a selfish Mummy bitch). 

Today, when the three non-school going darling started their chorus of “Mummy, what are we doing today?”, I replied on a spur of the moment making up for the shitty non swimming weeks to come, that we would go to the swimming pool. Not just any swimming pool, the Rapids. Then I realised what a totally twattingly stupid idea it was, but it was too late. The little darlings had started scurrying like ants grabbing towels, fighting over pink Elsa branded Lycra, and having tugs of war with the noodles. I gave myself top Mummy marks for dressing everyone in their swimming kit, and packing clothes at home. That’s an ace timesaver. Then I thought I might just do the same myself. 

So far this year, I have bought and returned 3 swimsuits. The latest purple model I had bought was bound to be right. I wrestled it on, only to discover that having 4 kids in 3 years, and breastfeeding all of them, has had an unfortunate effect. Let’s just say that the boob section was not in any way designed to cater for well used Mummy boobs. It will have to go back. I found my old costume still wet in the bag in the car from last weeks swimming session. Sadly, Lucy’s was also in there (cue 10 minutes of heartbreaking sobs about how any mother could do that etc etc). Finally, I had all 3 little darlings strapped into the car, clutching their floatations devices (after the time I forgot one) and wailing wildly. 

This would never happen to the yummy mummy. She probably has a special ‘sports cupboard’ or something. She probably puts the swimming stuff through the machine as soon as they get home, and has it neatly packed away for next week by the time the kids are in bed. She would almost certainly never find herself in the changing room wrestling herself and a 4 year old into sopping wet mildew ready cold Lycra while her twins peep under the changing room door yelling things like “ooh, that lady is wearing pink pants” or “Mummy your bottom is sooooo much bigger than that lady’s. Why is your bottom soooooo big?” Actually, scrap that. I bet Waitrose/John Lewis do a swimming service. They probably post out a weekly fresh swimming kit, complete with mini shampoo and conditioners, clean swimsuits, towels, and a pound for the locker. I bet she just pops the used suits and towels into a bag and sends them back Freepost. I bet the yummy mummy has never been seen blobbing her way to reception in only a swimsuit, with a trail of screaming infants behind her, just to get change of a £5 note. No, Waitrose would never let that happen. 

Anyway, we did make it into the pool. I am not going to say it was easy. Lou (4) had brought her Hello Kitty surfboard. It was made of styrofoam. Apparently, it wasn’t allowed in case of injury (the fact that it weighs no more than a fucking common or garden house fly was apparently irrelevant). Lou can’t actually swim, being only 4. I did point out to the lifeguard that perhaps it was more risky to have a non swimming child with a parent with 3 kids, and no flotation device, but apparently rules are rules. And so it was that we floated our way around the widdle infested toddler swamp for almost 2 hours. One twin is terrified of the water so clings on for grim death. I am sure the bruises will be gone within a fortnight. I braved the tall waterslide. Trying to hide my absolute terror of heights (and small steps, rusty structures….), I ushered the brood up the ladder of doom to almost ceiling height. I begged them to stay still for fear they might fall through gaps in the railings (I am sure they wouldn’t have fitted, but it’s the whole fear of heights thing). In some ways, the design is about as fucking awful as it can be. The ladder climbs up past the costa cafe. That’s right, not only do I have the responsibility of 3 little lives while all the time clinging on and fighting the impending panic attacks, I have spectators. They are level with my blobby cellulitey, postpartum body. The fact that my stomach has taken on a life of its own so great, I almost feel I need to enrol it for education classes, bothers me when I am covered in those thankfully fashionable loose long dresses. Standing next to the masses on a ladder with it all on show is bad. Very very bad. It’s then that I hear some giggling from behind me and see a group of teenage girls laughing and looking at my legs. In that moment, it dawns on me that the nagging thing I couldn’t remember which I had meant to do before I left, was to shave my legs! My mortification is complete. As I pile all 3 little darlings on my knee to whizz down the slide, I think to myself “What the fuck am I actually doing here? What was wrong with the park, or CBBees?” When we get to the bottom of the slide I breathe a sigh of relief and notice that all 3 little darlings are roaring with laughter and yelling “More!!!”. I was definitely not doing that again. I mean I am not a complete twat. The point is, though, as ridiculously fucking difficult as the whole expedition has been for me, they have loved it.

As we get changed again, we go through much the same drama. No-one will have their hair washed, and they scream at the very thought. All of the dry clothes end up on the floor, and obviously I have picked the wrong colour towels for each child which has totally ruined their day. But we do get out. Alive. 

When we get to the car, they are all pleading starvation. I scrabble round the debris on the floor and manage to come up with 2 packets of mini cheddars, and 1 of Pomme Bears (obvs cue fight over who gets what.) I throw the array of plastic bags stuffed with wet clothing into the car, and thank fuck that we are on our way home. They may even fall asleep. Then I see the Yummy Mummy leaving. Her children each have a neatly labelled tote into which all of their swimming stuff fits. They have not only washed, but also dried their hair, and it shines as they swish it in the sun. She is wearing a short skirt, showing off her well toned slim postpartum body, and presenting freshly shaven legs. No-one is crying. As they clamber in to the car, she produces pots of homous, cucumber stick, carrot batons, and freshly squeezed orange juice. 

Our eyes meet, and we exchange a smile. My life and kids may be a shambolic chaos, and hers may be neat and tidy, well organised and probably totally organic. The point is, though, that whatever our circumstances and parenting style, all of our little darlings have enjoyed and will benefit from the experiences we have chosen to give them today. I don’t know her challenges, and she doesn’t know mine. The point is, we both did the best for our kids.

We are also now probably both drinking wine. Mine is with home-made fajitas. Hers will undoubtedly be with some Waitrose Aberdeen Angus steak en croute……blah, blah, blah! #roguetoddlers #thankfuckforwine

Review and #giveaway! Interface, a novel by Tony Batton.

When my husband asked if I would review a book for a friend I said yes immediately. What’s not to like. A free book, and an excuse for him to look after the kids for 5 minutes while I read and blog.

When he brought me the book, frankly, my heart sank. It had words like ‘Biotech’, government’, and ‘radical neural interface project’. Despite a background in the sciences, I have no bloody idea what a radical neural interface project is, but it sounds suspiciously sci-fi to me. I hate sci-fi. I love murders (fictional that is). A good thriller with some disgustingly gruesome murders, no idea who the serial killer is, and a rugged handsome yet dark detective. That’s what I look for in a book. I definitely do not look for neural interfaces.

I had made a promise, so after putting it off for a month or so, I grabbed the novel on the way out the door for our trip to Cornwall. Counting for loo stops, food stops, think they need a wee but actually don’t stops, it was going to take us at least 8 hours to get to Cornwall. I reckoned I would get it all out of the way during the car journey.

Early on we meet Tom Faraday, the main character. He has been recruited by a very impressive an apparently very lucrative biotech company. By the second chapter, I was totally engrossed. Tom is immensely believeable, as are all of the characters. Apparently there is no need for prior knowledge about nanotechnology as the terminology is easy to interpret in the context of the story. It wasn’t until slightly later in the book, but there were also some bloody good murders. This book is fast paced, believable, has great characters, and is very very smart. You will never get anywhere near guessing the ending.

I am a women, and as you all know, women are never wrong. Except very occasionally, but then it was probably a man’s fault we were wrong anyway. I am going to fess up. I was totally wrong (obviously that’s my husband’s fault). This is the best book I have ever read! It is the first book that has knocked Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn from top spot on my book list. Maybe because it isn’t a run of the mill formulaic serial killer book. The are deaths, but they are clever. Very, very clever. There is government involvement, but it is not a political book. I really don’t want to give too much away. I suspect you get the best read if you open it reluctantly to give it a go. So sorry for spoiling that!

As we wound our slow, noisy potty stop filled way to Cornwall, I found myself reaching into the massive bag of sweets, crisps and fruit shoots at my feet and tossing them into the back like a slow drip feed, just to keep the little darlings quiet while I devoured this novel. I really didn’t want to put it down. In retrospect, I am glad I didn’t finish it on the way to Lands End. I spent 3 lovely evenings sitting in the garden on hols with a glass of wine, enjoying this bloody marvellous read.

Despite a truly thrilling ending, it is one of those books you feel genuinely sad to finish.

Tony Batton works in the pharmaceutical industry. This is his first novel, which he has self published. He has another on the way (hurry up Tony, write faster please!). He has kindly offered to send not one but two of my readers an autographed copy of his novel (which frankly has to end up on the bestsellers lists!). If you would like to be in with a chance to win, click the ‘enter here’ button, and off you go! Good luck (and if you don’t win, you should buy it and read it on your hols this summer anyway, because it’s ace!).

Happy reading!

Click here to enter!

Boxcitement review and giveaway!

Feeling bored? Fancy a little excitement and variety? Why not try a Boxcitement box. Frankly, if you are anything like me (working parent, housekeeper, laundry washer, dog walker, general dogsbody blah blah blah) the post is about as exciting as it gets save for Prosecco and playground gossip.

I have reviewed Boxcitement before, and I really enjoyed the suspense of waiting to see what would pop through the letterbox this time. I was not disappointed! I immediately opened the box to see what this month’s surprise was. The theme was midsummer nights.

My treats included a gift pack of notecards, like postcards. I also got a notebook and some summery pencils to record whatever I chose to use my notebook for. I have been using the notebook and pencils to help my plan my late summer and early autumn planting for the garden.

I wore the summery leather bracelet to a picnic with some friends, and two people commented on the bracelet which was nice! (Probably because since having kids I gave up jewellery as the little darlings kept ripping out my earrings and destroying my necklaces). Also in the box was a summery hanging made of clay, which the kids promptly started arguing over, and some sparkly ribbon in summer colours (which is now being used to decorate the girls hair!).

The final items are a summer colouring card, and a lovely cloth lunch bag. I have popped the card into the lunch bag, and have been colouring it in as I eat my sandwiches at work. It is actually really relaxing!

The selection is also very different from the last box I got (which prompted me to host a dinner party), so it’s great to see such variety.

Would you like to be in with the chance to win a surprise box from Boxcitement? Just click on the link which says ‘Click here to Enter’ and off you go!

Click here to enter

Boring legal crap

By entering this competition, you are automatically authorising me to share your information with Boxcitement. They will not share your information with any third parties or I will get very cross and tell them off. A lot.

When you win, I am authorised to publish your name as competition winner and be a bit shouty about how great you are.

Good luck!

The Firechild, a review for Mumsnet Books.

I was thrilled to be chosen by Mumsnet Books to review The Firechild by SK Tremayne, and started to read it the moment it popped through my letterbox.

The book is a sort of supernatural thriller set in the dramatic scenery of the south Cornwall coast. As I started to read the book, which begins with an upbeat tale of love and rags to riches, I realise that I recognise a lot of the place names. I start to find it a little eerie that the book is set exactly where my family and I holidayed at half term, only a few weeks before. 

We explored the abandoned tin mines which litter the rugged cliffs, and peered into deep dark holes which looked like they went to the centre of the earth, all the while grasping our children tightly. Even in the bright summer sunshine, the mines have a haunting air about them which leaves you with a slight shiver, despite the heat of the day.

As the story unfolds, the abandoned tin mines become very significant. The book is beautifully written, and even if you have never been to Cornwall, you could not help but become absorbed in the history and the vividly described landscapes. It does not take long for the plot to take some sinister couple twists and turns. This really is one of those books you do not want to put down. The landscape itself is what gives real credence to the plot line, and makes real the dark atmospheric mansion at the centre of this novel. The characters are instantly believeable. The plot is very fast moving, and at no point could I even guess where the characters in the story were going to end up. 

Engrossed in the story, I gave an involuntary shudder to see mention of Morvah and the surrounding coastline take its place in the novel. Morvah is the tiny hamlet of about 4 houses and a church where we stayed in April. How unlikely that it should appear in a novel I read just after that holiday. Perhaps this adds to how much the story begins to affect me. Although I saw the tin mines in beautiful weather, there is no question of how desolate they look on the landscape. SK Tremayne really drives home how awful the working conditions must have been, and just how many men, women and children died working in the mines for little reward. There are a relatively small number of characters which means that you really do engage with them. 

This is a tale of love and betrayal; of life and death; of the earthly and the ethereal; of the mother and her child; of the bereaved husband and the great family name. It is gripping and disturbing at the same time. I do very highly recommend reading it. I do not recommend reading it alone, especially at night. I am now devouring her first novel, The Ice Twins!


A Cornish tin mine just outside Morvah.

Morvah Church.


Morvah schoolhouse where we stayed.

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How to destroy a holiday location in 10 easy steps.

This is a really simple set of steps on how you can effectively destroy not only your own day on holiday, but also the day of everyone else unfortunate enough to visit on the same day as you. It can be in UK or anywhere else in the world. Just remember, the bigger the audience, the greater the impact you will have. (Obvs, this only works if you are the parent/keeper of one or more little shits darlings.) Here goes:

1. Choose a peaceful and tranquil location, popular with tourists for that very reason. Take, for example, Porthleven in Cornwall. A beautiful and very tranquil spot.  At least, it was.

2. Destination selected, pack your kids into the car, along with all the stuff they may need for a day out. Make sure that you pack in a shambolic way. Do make sure that you forget at least one key item per child. I opted for Emily’s pink spade, Lucy’s pink rock pool net and Benjy’s yellow plastic pick axe (the one he has carried everywhere and even slept with for the last 3 weeks). If you have more than two children, you can do what I did and bring everything for one of the children. This helps emphasise the total unfairness of life, shows how much you love one child more than the others, and basically gets the kids in the right frame of mind. An added benefit is that you have just created your own unique sound track for the journey. Crying, screaming, fighting, hitting, and accusations of parental neglect. This sets the scene perfectly for your day. If you fail to do this you face the small but very real risk of spending your journey with happy children enjoying the view, or worse still, signing songs like ‘Wind the Bobbin up’and ‘How much is that Doggy in the window?’, which I am sure you will agree, is an horrific prospect. 

3. Aim to arrive at your destination at precisely 11.30 am. The timing is important. As everyone knows, 11.30 am is lunchtime for small people. Obviously, however, there are no eateries that will satisfy the little darlings that are open at 11.30 am. Restaurants open at 12 noon because whoever invented them was completely f**king incompetent, and had clearly never been a parent to a hungry child. 

4. Now grab whatever bits your have remembered, pile them into a bag, and drag the little darlings off for a walking tour of your destination before lunch. Being too tight to pay for parking also enhances the experience. Now you can drag them into the village from one end and out through the other so no-one you pass misses out. Don’t be alarmed if you get sympathetic  or indifferent looks at this stage. You are just laying the foundations now. We will deal with the sympathisers and indifferents shortly. Obviously, you should give yourself a big pat on the back for really pissing off at least 25% of the people you have passed. You are a quarter of the way now. Keep dragging the screaming kids while muttering about chips to them. Repeat this until 12 noon. 

5. At 12 noon, startle the unsuspecting waiting staff in your restaurant of choice by barging through the door with 4 snot covered screaming infants, and demand a table. It’s 12 noon. On a Wednesday. In a small village. Enjoy their discomfort as they try to work out whether they can plausibly claim to be fully booked. When they realise you have them rumbled, they will mumble and take you to a table in the deepest darkest corner, or in our case, outside. You may need to duck as they launch the kiddies menu at you and then scuttle inside.

6. Meals ordered and drinks on the table, just sit back, drink wine and watch. They kids really have a natural talent for turning a civilised restaurant into a complete circus. Behavioural examples may include (but are in no way limited to):

– spilling drinks (repeatedly) all over the floor, and themselves. When they are wet, they probably strip. After all, the little darlings love being in wet clothes unless you actually want them to stay in wet clothes. Then wet clothes are the worst thing ever. Complete nudity is much better. 

– Cutlery can and should be thrown on the floor, used for sword fights, and used to scrape paint off the furniture giving it a ‘distressed’ look.

–  You will always have one less electronic device than you do children. Try to look a little like you are trying to mediate the screaming war while really just drinking wine and zoning out. 

Lots of other behaviours are good too. The more outrageous, the better. Benjy excelled himself today by throwing our beach stuff one item at a time off the balcony. He would wait until Daddy was nearly at the top of the steps returning the item, then he would chuck the next one. This is great entertainment for everyone (except Daddy), and great exercise for Daddy. Momentarily, the screaming may turn to laughter. Don’t worry though, as soon as their meal arrives and they realise that the chef had the stupidity to actually make their food f**king hot while cooking it, and they will start screaming again. 


7. As other customers start to arrive, enjoy their horror at being placed anywhere near you. The Europeans will immediately demand to be seated elsewhere (pat on the back for you, well done!). The Brits are less direct. They will want to move just as much, but don’t have a clue how to a do for this without breaching some unwritten British etiquette rule. Convention demands that they sit it out. Just enjoy their discomfort, and drink more wine.


8. No need to ask for the bill. It will arrive promptly as soon as the last bite has been consumed. As the kids will now be playing lions and pirates, using cutlery as weapons, and involving any other kids in the vicinity, the eating area will quickly resemble a Butlins kids activity camp. Other parents will look alarmed. Obviously, if there is dog water sitting around, this is even better. They can throw it over each other to ‘cool off!’. When it gets thrown over another non child friendly diner, you should just grab your stuff and leave. There’s lots more damage to be done elsewhere.

9. Remember those people you were worrying about earlier? The indifferents and the sympathisers? This is your chance. Now you can fulfil our earlier hasty promise to take the little darlings to the beach! They will, of course, all be screaming and crying because you said NO to pudding in the restaurant (face it, they were never going to serve you a second course!). All you have to do is parade them round town, passing at least 5 ice-creams vans and finally giving in at the last one. Obviously someone’s ice cream will be bigger than someone else’s, cue the reasumption of screaming because even with ice cream, the world’s not fair. The indifferent’s and the sympathisers are now getting frankly quite pissed off. You had your opportunity to sort your kids out, and 3 hours later they are still screaming. The once peaceful seafront, home to coffee drinkers, cafe diners, and wine suppers (all child free of course) now sounds like pre-nap time at playgroup. They are getting quite irritated now. Leave them. We will come back to them.

10. Arrive at the beach and strip the kids before wrestling them into Lycra swimsuits and beach shoes. You know as you are doing it that the whole process will last longer than the actual play in the sea, but never mind. For the first 5 minutes, there will be a lull in the crying. They will be laughing and having fun. Don’t worry, it won’t last. Within 5 minutes someone will have been knocked over by a little wave. They will scream, blame someone else for doing it, and before you know it at least two of the little darlings will be crying very loudly. Hold on, you are not there yet. Next you need to suggest leaving, as they are all cold and shivering. This will prompt a chorus of furious screaming. Next you need to strip them all and dry them. They will scream about scratchy sand, being cold, being hot, clothes being wet, being hungry, being thirsty, wanting to stay, wanting to go and so on. Now you are ready to complete the ruination of the tranquil holiday resort. You simply parade your brood back through the town to the other end before loading them into the car. The townspeople and visitors alike will hate you, and blame you for ruining their day. You have succeeded. 5 whole hours of mid-behaviour has totally destroyed the air of peace and tranquility they seek. In order to celebrate your achievement, the little darlings will continue screaming until you are about a mile from home, then they will fall asleep. Obviously as soon as you park the car, they will immediately open their eyes, and it all starts up again.

Good Luck! I hope you succeed as well as I have. Remember, if you keep your fridge stocked with wine, you can do it!

The Un-yummy mummy x

The accidental assault of the holy dog!

Arriving in a tiny rural hamlet near Lands End yesterday, I was really excited. The only things we could see were a tiny ancient church, a farm, and acres of beautiful green fields. 


Our host graciously explained that the property we were renting had been in her family for decades. Originally the old schoolhouse, other uses had included a machinery store, and a church hall. She explained that the following day was a historic day for the little Church opposite. For the first time ever, 4 local churches were meeting as one in this village chapel, for the first of 4 combined services. Despite her having met the children, in a moment of haste, she invited us to the service at 10 am, and we accepted. The deal was done. 


This morning, everyone was smartly dressed for the occasion. All 4 of the little darlings then managed to spill a variety of substances all over their clothes, including weetabix, apple juice and charcoal from last nights BBQ. Half a packet of baby wipes later, we crossed the road to the church. It is tiny, but really beautiful. As we had arrived a little early, I suggested a walk round the ancient graveyard. That’s when it all started to go wrong. It was around the time that the worshippers started to arrive, that I lost whatever slight control I previously had over the little darlings. As our host arrived, she managed a gracious smile despite the fact that Patch was swinging round a beautiful Celtic headstone as though it were a roundabout, and the twins were digging with great determination using their bare hands to try and uncover dead body bones (apparently they we to be for the dog accordingly to Emily). Lucy lay sprawled across a headstone yelling the letters and numbers she could recognise, and I was trying frantically to collect them all. Gesturing to the large food bag I was holding resulted in a collective scream of “Food!” Before they flew through the church doors, much to the astonishment of the mainly elderly parishioners. 

Scuttling past the minister on my way in, I asked quietly whether this was a child friendly church as otherwise, I thought we had better retreat now. ‘Of course we are child friendly!’ he bellowed. ‘They are free to run around as they please!’ While I could see he meant it truly, I did not get the impression that his flock agreed. I also suspected it had been a long time since he had seen kids like mine in church. Kids running around was likely to be the least of his worries. Scaling the bell tower or attempting to bathe in the baptismal pool seemed much more likely. 

As, by this stage, we were now late, we got the front row. In full view. Of the entire church. Which it turned out was full for the first time in, perhaps, decades. No pressure then Mummy! 

We made it to the first reading, about 4 minutes in. Then, the little darlings remembered that I had packed sausages. There were lone sausages, sausages in baps, in wraps, with ketchup and mayo. In fact every possible combination to try and keep the peace. Then there was the fizzy orange to wash it down. This was not ideal in the front row. The cry for sausages went up after the first sentence of the reading. There were gasps, giggles and coughs. The reader sped up. The yells got louder, and included specifics. ‘I need ketchup in mine!’ ‘I hate Mayo, where’s mine?’ The minister looked sympathetic, the ladies behind giggled, and others glared. It took a few minutes to dole out the orders, but then, we earned relative peace for at least two minutes. Then the climbing and jumping started. At first, they just climbed onto the kneelers. However, this quickly escalated to climbing the whole pew, then over the top. Quickly tiring of that, they moved on to jumping. The hymns apparently did not appeal. As ‘Morning has broken’ came to a heartfelt conclusion, Twinkle twinkle struck up with great gusto, followed by competition from the Old MacDonald camp. So heartfelt were their differences, it was like a toddler choral pro-EU/Brexit rally which ended in blows only a few moments in. 

As the sermon started, the minister graciously praised those who bring small children to church. He noted the decline, and laughed that it was great to have people younger than himself in church. He told the kids they would get a biscuit for every sleeping parishioner they discovered during the sermon. It was a really great try. It had a whole 2 minutes of impact. Then sausage wars started. Sausages were yelled for and traded. At one point in he sermon the minister actually laughed as on making a serious point he turned to find twins pointing foil wrapped sausages at him from the top of the pew. To give them their dues, the congregation held it together. 

We made it as far as holy communion. Our own went fine. It was when the dog, obviously elderly, but clearly a regular churchgoer, went up for communion, that it all fell apart. The dog knew the routine by rote. Obviously it had not been confirmed as it chose a blessing over the wafer (or maybe it just didn’t like wafers). Either way, it was duly blessed, and made it’s arthritic way back down the steps. The dog had been momentarily attracted by the delicious, if unusual, scent of sausage in his church. Against his better judgement, he edged closer. Just then, a twin chasing the dropped end of a sausage crawled under hubby’s feet.  Hubby tripped, and the hymn book in his hand launched over the pew landing squarely on the holy canine. The entire historic service had turned into a complete circus thanks to the invitation of these last minute guests. I should add that the dog was entirely unscathed, just a lot put out!

As we prepared to exit the church at high speed following the hastened end of the service, it was with great alarm that I saw several of the congregation approach with purpose. It was just as I yelled ‘Run!’ at the kids that I saw they were brandishing…biscuits! It turned out that the desire to see young people in the church was in fact widespread. While in our own heads, and by our standards, we had destroyed the sermon, it turns out we had inspired hope for the future. In a community where youth attendance  has severely dwindled, we had apparently shown what the future could look like. 


Good luck to them, that’s what I say. I hope they win. Our faith is not theirs, and visa versa. They welcomed us to their special day though, and of course we would welcome them back. We happily joined them, and were ever so grateful for their inclusion. I think it meant a lot to each of us. We will continue to worship in our own faith, thankfully supported by a community and very active faith school. And I will continue to survive parenting 4 little darlings using wine (Listen guys, Jesus turned water into wine. There can be no better endorsement! ). What an unusual but ace experience. What a wonderful world!