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.