Hello Black Wednesday. 

Some might think that stating the obvious is a pointless task. I however believe that if you are stupid enough to trudge your kids, and one of their friends through the pouring rain and into your local zoo’s soft play on a day where Noah is on the edge of his seat, then you deserve to be ridiculed. 

What I am about to tell you IS obvious. I mean, we all know the rules don’t we: summer holidays + rain = stay the fuck away from soft play. I’ve been in the job 6 and a half years and still I make rookie errors… And I am sharing today’s with you. 

Welcome to my nightmare: Soft play on speed.

I’m writing this on the floor next to the highly over populated gated ‘baby zone’. 

On. The. Floor.

I scanned the deafening inferno for a base upon arrival: all eyes were instantly diverted away from my glance. Why are kids taking up highly sought after square footage in the parent zone? There’s a whole hyper-colour plaza just waiting to be explored. Look lively and shift it… s’il vous plait. 

God bless the holidays. 

It’s dawning on me that the possibilities for a bout of contagious pukage are ample in this mosh pit. Swarms of under 8’s are literally salivating over the soft mats. Schools out and the germs have found a new breeding ground. Hopping between miss screechy to master whingey in a nano-second. 

Everything is sodding soaked. Rain in biblical proportions is hissing down, the zoo’s day trippers have found refuge in the soft play: of course they have. Why didn’t that occur to me before we left? And I realise this may be obvious (as is the nature of this entire post)… but my socks are wet. And come to think of it, I’m sitting on a wet floor so I probably have a wet backside too: August is such a giver. 

A thought was inching its way into my conscious, I tried to block it out, I really did… 

Nits.

There are heads everywhere. Too many of them. All full of hair, all possibly harbouring nit farms. I do air on the side of total paranoia when it comes to the creepy hair breeders. But they attack me first and it makes me edgy. For some reason Nits adore the straw-like consistency of my barnet. I’m tempted to put a hair net over my kids – and myself. I realise this may attract some attention: 

‘The crazy lady typing on the floor looks like my dinner lady’. But the minors are close. Up close and way too personal on the head to head proximity meter for my anxiety level to regulate. 
It must be well documented that rain causes FuckWitSyndrome. It’s an unfortunate condition which appears to be effecting every child without exception. Sweaty Duracell bunnies are literally running around in circles. Some with their eyes shut. All with their mouths open. Demands and accusations are vying for space on the air waves.

(Hurrah! I found a seat- just saying. I had to perform a stealth Bolt-style move to secure this desk space. Backpack, water bottles, snack pack and iPad in my clutches. The seat is miiiiiine. All I need now is for my left bum cheek to rejoin the land of the living…
)

I knew it was coming. I could tell as she approached my chair; blue eyes wide, angelic face slightly tilted for optimum Cute:

“Can I have a red shushy?”
“No”
“Can I have a blue shushy?”
“No”
“Pleeeease can I have a shushy”
“No”
“But mum I NEED a shushy”
“The machine’s broken”
“But THEY have a shushy” (points to privileged Timmy & Jimmy)
Ok, I think, let’s try and level with ToddlerMonster:
“Darling, Mummy and Daddy are on a real economy drive for the next few weeks. We had a lovely holiday last week didn’t we?” (I don’t wait for the confirmation) “Last week was tax bill time, and we are going to Holland to that cheap version of Centre Parcs before nursery starts again aren’t we. We are only here because we have annual passes- so it’s basically free. I’ve made a snack pack fit for 3 giants, AND you had lunch before we left. Have a bourbon and go play”

3 year old stares blankly, “Can I have chips?” 
*Bangs head against metal table several times*

By this point I’ve become immune to the decibel level, I lift my eyes from typing away this post and it dawns on me that the cafe area has become a sort of awkward PTA party. It’s so jam packed, demographics are falling over each other. 

It’s Jeremy Kyle meets Joules. 



Breton strips are interspersed with a skin tight jogger: Who IS Ivy Park?! I’m not entirely sure where I fit into this social tapestry… I’m wearing Dan’s golf jumper that I shrunk in the wash, complimented by 2-days-over hair. I think that makes me ‘Jumble-Mom’. 
I’ve put in 3 hours. I chose this over a career. I love that what’s left of my brain enjoys reminding me of this fact at the most opportune of moments. 
Finally the man with the broom appears: its chucking out time. 

Until September…

My happy mum-face when we finally walked in! My husband’s a lucky man…

Why we all need to be tuning into Ross Kemp’s final series of Extreme World this Sunday

There are very few things on the box that Dan and I will agree on watching together. We are stuck in a black hole of ‘must see’ golfing re-runs when the PGA tour is having a rest day, or playing catch up with Eastenders- justifying Dot Cotton’s presence in our living room every few minutes. 

Sofa Time is precious, and TV is our high five for getting both of the kids off to the land of Nod. 

It is therefore a rare thing to discover a series which appeals to the both of us, equally. No negotiating needed. It is rarer still for a series to prompt us to actually engage in conversation past 9pm. Jack Bower used to take the gold for that. And mostly because I needed the plot translated into novice-24 lingo. 

And then we discovered ‘Extreme World’.

A program so shockingly gritty, so real and so goddamn ‘ard that we were hooked. Ross Kemp is what I’d politely describe as a ‘straight talker’… He makes Grant Mitchell look like Milhouse, y’know- Bart’s mate. 

What makes this gripping TV stand out from the rest is the bravery of this team to travel to some of the most dangerous places on earth. Treading a fine line between life and death, Kemp never fails to break into the heart of whatever abomination he is exposing. 

Exclusive…

Jamie Welham, Extreme World Producer, international hard hitting journalist and owner of a passport with some seriously impressive visas, agreed to share his thoughts with me on this hotly anticipated final series:

“It’s been a real privilege working on such an ambitious and wide reaching series. The team continuously manage to get access to people and places others can’t, to shine a light on some of the world’s most urgent and underreported issues. 

My personal highlight was travelling to the Sahara desert to document the brutal migrant journey across Libya – a situation that desperately needed to be brought to wider attention and with a humanity that has been lacking. 

At a time when the world seems to be becoming more inward looking and scared of people from different cultures, I think foreign reportage like Extreme World has never been more important and necessary.

It’s a real shame it’s come to an end.”

I would love to know just how Welham manages to contact and, what’s more, pursusade the underbelly of the world to divulge dangerous, often gruesome and usually incriminating truths. It is undoubtedly this access that leaves me utterly captivated.

True hard-man stripes were awarded having been held at gun point in Papua New Guinea in 2014 by proper thug-life guerrillas. Instead of wetting himself and running away like the majority of the population might have done, the cameras continued to roll. 
His distinctive husk came out with:

“Are you gonna kill me? No one’s gonna f*****g kill me!”

We believed  him. 

Thankfully so did the mob carrying the AK47’s. 

We fought back the tears as we watched ‘Libya’s Migrant Hell’, a one off aired late last year and Welham’s Extreme World highlight. We had read and watched various updates on the migrant crisis, fed to us by the mainstream media; only death rates and percentages seem to sell papers. What the team from Extreme World did, and always do, was trace this global problem back to the source. Exposing humanity in it’s most desperate, and dangerous of states. It was completely captivating and led me to write this.

Just when you think Kemp has interviewed his last sickening criminal, the viewers are slapped around the face with a trump card. The human traffiker who admitted killing 400, or maybe 500 girls (he couldn’t remember) having taken and sold over 7000 girls, some as young as 12 is without doubt the worst, most shocking revelation the Extreme World team have ever uncovered. Kemp and his translator were left speechless, understandably shaken by this monster’s disclouse. 

It is this depth of reporting, and this insight into the murkiest of worlds that raises awareness by getting these issues into our front rooms. 

It’s easy to forget as we rush about on the school run and supermarket sweep the hell out of Asda, that we do live in an extreme world. There is nothing else on the telly box which gets to the heart of the matter, nothing else picks off the scabs of society quite like the team at ‘Extreme World’ do. 

So they’ll be no fighting over the remote in our house this Sunday evening; We’ll be on Sky 1 at 9pm a hot choc and custard cream in hand as Kemp takes on Texas and the much feared Ku Klux Klan in the hugely anticipated 6th and final series of Extreme World. Set Poldark to record: there’s a new hero in town. 

Extreme World airs Sunday 9pm Sky 1

With special thanks to Jamie Welham: You can follow Jamie’s adventures on twitter @jamiewelham 

We’ve all been DUP’ed: The £1 Billion Farce.

It’s all a bit embarrassing really isn’t it? 

£1 billion 

There’s nothing like a bit of transparent corruption among friends is there. 

My husband once surprised me with a mini break, how lovely you might think. And lovely it was. However I couldn’t help but wonder where this stash of cash was when the washing machine had broken down the previous month. It had been a credit card job at the time – my husband had kept Schstum that he had been squirrelling much needed wonga under the mattress…

Do you see where I’m headed with this.

£1 billion

Our primary schools have been appealing against murderous cuts to its funding, screams of ‘We are at crisis point’ have been widely reported from head teachers, and thankfully splashed all over the press in recent months.  May did nothing.  Serving back pleas of austerity, and lack of coffers. Mock suprise over her face. 

We have all been told, just like a parent telling a pleading child who desparently wants the latest Hachimal, 

“We are broke, we have no money. Go fish!”

Ok we all said. We can’t have what we don’t got.

Well blow me down, as I switch on the news yesterday and there is our Wheat field runner of an PM – who I voted for, signing over £1 BILLION. 

£1 billion?

At first I thought the news anchor had said £1million in exchange for the support of the 10 DUP members of parliament.

My initial thought was, ‘Christ, lucky them! Money for nothing!’

But wait, what’s that you say? ‘One BILLION pounds’?! 

Dr Evil’s voice was immediately present- bellowing this figure around my head. Maybe there is a likeness between Austin Powers and Teressa that I hadn’t noticed before, although I can’t imagine her uttering ‘Shagtastic baby’. Or maybe this dark horse does, just for her Northern Irish BFF’s.

How happy did the 4 of them look! While May kept her demure face all poker, they practically skipped out of that signing press call. I didn’t even realise you could buy votes, or ‘support’. Now I’m no expert, but it sounds a teeny bit to me like CORRUPTION. 

Which brings me to my next point, a few weeks ago most of us had never even heard of the DUP. I’d voted conservative, albeit a vote I am beginning to sorely regret, not for a party which I had to google. Yet here they are running back to Northern Ireland, laden down with our cash. That’s 30% more funding per head than the rest of the United Kingdom – GMTV says so.

Cash we were told we didn’t have. 

So where’s it come from Tess? 

I’d love to know. I’m pretty sure Jeremy Hunt would like to know too. As one of the most hated MP’s ever thanks to his dictatorship over the NHS and junior Doctors, I’m pretty sure he would have loved access to this golden honey pot having towed the austerity line. 

Mrs May, you appear anything but your cheesy tag line ‘Strong and Stable’. I knew I had heard it somewhere before, but I couldn’t quite remember where. A few days ago I was grabbing my reusable bags for the lidl shop (Becasue, austerity), you’ll never guess what I saw… 

Tory slogan inspiration. I have a feeling Attenborough would argue elephants are more loyal, honest creatures however. 

At least you kept your job though eh Tess. I hear the welfare state isn’t all it used to be… 

Sports Day’s a comin’… 

Sports-Yey. Or Nay. Depending on your point of view. 

Tomorrow is my daughter’s Sports Day. We are coming to the end of year 1 and although we have been travelling back and forth from ‘big school’ for almost 2 years now, I still don’t count myself as a veteran parent when it comes to The Events.

I’ll cut right to the chase here, sport’s day is making me feel a little bit sick. Perhaps because it brings back horrendous memories of never coming 1st, 2nd … or 8th. For a die hard competitive bugger like me, this is all kinds of torture. 

My body just never backed up my Desire to mow down the opporsition.

And now it’s my daughter’s turn. 


I remember last year being gobsmacked as parents – who for the rest of the year had quietly collected their child, perhaps dressed in paisley or a navy stripe, never daring to say boo to a goose, had morphed into some kind of crazed Barmy Army. The screaming cheers and fist pumping that was going on as their beloved treasure struggled to stay on course to collect the right coloured bean bag did lead me to raise an eyebrow. Huh?! What.Is.Happening?!

I had no idea that we would need to be donning our ‘game faces’ at the school gate. Even the kids who were mid-run were looking over as murderous cries of encouragement with a few choice coaching tips essential to a 4 year olds performance continued to erupt from the sidelines during the 25m hopping finals. The slightly awkward thing was that the majority of the kids don’t have fog-horn parents, and that majority had to run along to the burning screams of the same name again and again. I couldn’t keep a straight face. My husband and I sat there wondering if we had been transported back to the 1966 World Cup final. 

This is serious stuff. Do not be fooled. The results of these races really matter. Honest…

For the next couple of weeks your FaceBrag feeds will be jammed packed with the likes of little Johnny’s skipping triumph, and Freddie’s 4 times sack race champion certificates. You might even have the benefit of video footage if the Mumatron has husseled her way to the front, for best cheers n views. Super! Something to look forward to folks. 

I’ve heard some schools quite literally make an entire day of it, with underhand picnic wars and a stealth ‘best dressed’ race. Can you even imagine! I think this must be the pay-for schools. I must count our blessings that no such wardrobe codes exists at my daughter’s school. In this weather, in our seaside town, anything goes! And in this weather God only knows what we shall all manage to bare wearing as this blazing only-fit-for-nakedness weather sucks the life blood from us.

I’m just going to mention the parents race. Does anyone actually look forward to this?! Apart from there being an air conditioned Pimms tent strategically placed at the finish line, (which there isn’t by the way) I can’t imagine why anyone would want to take part in this stenuous humiliation.

I cannot tell you how much I was actually bricking this last year. For the entire Sport’s ‘Hour’ I sat wondering when the horrendous moment was going to dawn on us, and the parents were going to be invited to the start line. As someone who makes a point of never exercising (until now that is -but more of that another time), this race hanging over me was all kinds of hell. 

Thankfully the moment never arrived. Health & Safety. Apparently during the previous years race there was a broken ankle situation during this ‘bit of fun’. Can you even imagine. Well this parent was my new hero, they took one for the parenting team. Ensuring that no one else need ever fear making a total tit of themselves in front of their offspring again. 

Instead the pre-schoolers were all tanoyed over to the start. 

Health & Safety hasn’t got to them yet… 

MumBoss. Mumpreneur. Are you offended yet?

Mumpreneur. 

MumBoss. 

Do these terms offend you?

Because they don’t offend me. Quite the opposite in fact; they make me feel empowered.

I read a post entitled “We are not Sodding Mumpreneurs” by a great blogger ‘More Than Toast’ back in february, it’s taken me this long to final hit publish on a post I furiously scribbled down at the time.

The post in question was shared and hailed as gospel by another blogger that I really admire, and who I would describe as a ‘MumBoss’.

I couldn’t have disagreed more with their strong views on the subject. It really got me thinking about labels, and why, as Mothers the term ‘Mumpreueur’ or ‘Mum Boss’ should be a proud label to wear. I just couldn’t get my head around why these terms were being deemed as pitchforks to the feminist.

We should be proud that these labels are becoming so mainstream and this is why…

You see, if being a Mother is the most important job of all, and widely accepted as the hardest and most thankless of roles; Surely turning your dreams into a reality and earning cold hard cash alongside this seismic position of ‘Mum’ is something to shout about?

“I keep tiny humans alive, AND earn money , all on my terms because I’m running the show”

(Ok, so I don’t get to say that phrase just yet. I am working on it though…!)

It was also said that to assume us Mums run our business’ from their kitchen table is offensive. Really? That’s an offensive assumption?

I am not meaning to steam into Alice for writing this, I am just surprised that so many ‘Mum Bosses’ felt this way.

A business that can be run successfully from a kitchen table is anything but derogatory.

Many a brainwave has been hatched in far meeker circumstances. Facebook is the birth-child of a Fresher in their Uni digs for goodness sake – he didn’t even own a kitchen table! And what about that old saying ‘We came up with the idea on the back of a fag packet…’

So why do these affluent bloggers think  it is insulting to assume that a Mum might have begun a start up and run a business from the kitchen table?  I doubt you would rent office space just to brain storm some business ideas…

Surely if you can run a business from your kitchen table AND be there for your family you are, from where I’m sitting, 100% winning the game of life right now. 

I saw an interview with the powerhouse that is Harriett Harman recently. Harriett was saying how, not surprisingly, tough it was to work in Westminster when she had very young children. To keep up with her male counterparts she had to compromise on seeing her children and family life. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that to succeed in that environment something had to give- and it’s usually always the home front.  She hopes to make up for her absence by being there more for her Grandchildren now.

She couldn’t have it all, let’s be honest – I don’t know anyone that does.

If the mould doesn’t fit, then break it.

-That’s exactly what these inspirational Mumpreneurs are doing. 

It’s frustrating that there is still a long way to go until the playing fields are more evenly balanced in the workplace. Like it or not biology doesn’t give us much choice in the matter. We are the ones who have the ‘privilege’ of carrying our babies. We are the ones who grafted for years on a career  only to see it all come to a grinding halt when the egg timer gives way to “PREGNANT”.

Some women would say we had the raw end of the deal…

But it all comes back to this: Why on earth should we be trying to hide our ‘Mum’ label’? Is the struggle for equality becoming so sterile, we have to drop any reference to our lives behind the front door in order to be taken seriously? Surely not…

I’ve said before that I want to wear my label front and centre, because that is who defines me. I am a mother first, and I am proud of that. I am also proud that I am beginning to get a career off the ground on my terms. And  guess what – it’s from my kitchen table.

We live in a world that is allowing us all to be a little more creative, and work a little more remotely, there is a movement towards a more flexible way of working. The hugely inspirational Anna Whitehouse and her Flex Appeal movement are an inspiration and spreading positive vibes that us Mumas shouldn’t be put on the scrapheap just because we procreated.

If you can manage to be a Mumprenuer and do it for yourself, setting up your own business on YOUR terms, from scratch – all while your kids scream blue murder and utter 50,000 unreasonable demands all before 6am, then you lady, are a MUM Boss.

We are kicking legs from under the chairs of our often comfortable, complacent male counterparts. We are shaking things up through sheer drive, determination and the desire to have it all, on our terms.

So here’s to the kitchen table start up.

Here’s to those inspiring Mothers who are cooking up these innovative businesses and changing the face of society.

Here’s to the Mum Boss in us all.

My Dirty Little Confession…

There’s a new fad in town. It’s dirty, its fresh… it’s alfresco. 

I’m a slap dash kinda girl at heart, fads fly in and out of my life. (Although that’s not strictly true of the ‘Let’s have a baby’ fad, I’m still well and truely in the midst of that fleeting idea).
Hair extensions were an interesting fad – expensive, and created a nest effect at the nape of my neck somewhere between my scalp and those tiny bonds. It wasn’t a pleasant craze to live with, however the flicking of ones locks over ones shoulder was most satisfactory al la Cher off of Clueless… for a time. 

Anyway, I have a new fad I want to tell you about, a progression I suppose you could call it. A definite move towards middle age perhaps? The garden. My garden. Or ‘Outside Room’ as those exterior designers like to refer to it. 
This is entirely new territory for me. The only time I used to visit the garden centre was at the end of the school holidays when we’d run out of money and I’d pass it up as a fun day out to play in the wooden houses that we wouldn’t be buying. Or to look at the bunnies in their teeny cages. At Christmas time we like to just go and wander the decoration aisles taking in the tat n sparkle. Oh we have all the fun in our household. 

I’m not really sure why my attention has moved in the direction of our ‘outside room’. I have been obsessive about covering our ugly fence since we moved in 5 years ago, I haphazardly planted a few clematis, (spelling that carefully) and thought they would just grow evenly and beautifully just like they did in proper grown ups gardens, who are well seasoned at adulting.
It turns out that there is a little more to it. 

 

If someone had suggested I kept my perennials moist a few months ago, I may have thought of them as a bit pervey. I did raise some eyebrows at the garden centre when I asked Barbara of Shrubs to point me in the direction of her hardy Perineum.

I thought my growing addiction to all things green was just me. But this spring I have seen more Facebook updates concerning blossom than newborns. More lavender pots than ice cream faced tots and more ‘look at me on my new rattan BBQ set’ than new Prams. 

I’m entering a new era, and it seems my friends are coming along for the ride as well. 
Just last week one of my coolest, least ‘homey’ friends (No offence S!!) came right out and uttered a sentence which I had never expected to leave her lips, 

“Can we just talk about our Clematis Montana?” 

Once I’d managed to get past the shock of this lingering question, we sat for the next half an hour swapping not only tips for teasing tentacles along a wire, but we cooed over each other’s floral photos – that just so happened to be on our phones. 

Clematis Montana you woody, hardy, white flowering delight – you are the subject of our new Prosecco n skinny popcorn chatter.
 
We confided in each other that we like to nose over the fence of other people’s gardens and squealed in delight when we discovered we share the same ‘favourite climbing rose’ -which is freaking unbelievable I’ll have you know, outside a front door on the way to school.  Pink big blooms, climbing all around the doorway: Rose Di Caprio 😉

So it seems playground gossip (of which there is always a constant steam of, I might add!) and boys, well husbands now more than boys I suppose, are a thing of the past. 
I’m not sure this is going to work out to be a cheaper fad than my past infatuations. The garden still has plenty of space to add too! I do wish the names of plants were slightly easier though.  I did Latin at school, and even that isn’t helping me to understand these ostentatiously long names. It’s highly pretentious, Garden Snobbery. I’m still very much of the ‘tall pink thing’ vocab. It’s a whole new world out there, and I have whole lot to learn!

There is an upside to this green fingered lark – the last 24 hours has seen a deluge of rain. Moan I did not: 
“RAIN” I exclaimed, “That will save me having to get the hose out!”
Who am I, and where did I hide my cool?!

I’m sorry, but I no longer feel defiant.

As our country begins to piece itself back together after yet another terrifying and devastating act of terrorism, I have been watching the familiar pattern of defiance emerge. Candid quotes that love will conquer appear all over facebook, vigils take place, and the PM always, always, holds a COBRA meeting at 9am the following day.

In the past, when terrorists have struck around the globe I have read and  listened to Bloggers, Journalists and celebrities vow to live life to the fullest, refusing to let this rancid disease dictate how or where they live their lives. I have always fist pumped along with the best of them, not giving my next trip to the cinema, bar or concert a second thought.

But this time is different.

And this isn’t something I am proud to admit.

This time, this time has truly frightened me.

Manchester is too soon after Westminster, too soon after Brussels, too soon after Stockholm, too soon after Paris.

This time I am letting these horrific events make a difference to how we live our life as a family.

I know I should be strong, and should be shouting defiance along with the best of them from the rooftops, but this has scared me. It’s scared me most because I am a Muma and it is my job and instinct to protect my babies.  Despite my best efforts, these monsters are making me question that protection, and think again about how we lead our lives for the foreseeable future.

Crowded places will make me feel unsafe now: if somewhere as iconic and presumably hot on security as Manchester arena – the largest of it’s kind in the UK can be attacked, what hope do festivals, theme parks, cinemas, shopping centres… the list is endless, have?

For the first time ever I thanked God that we live in a tiny town that no one has ever heard of and bares absolutely no relevance culturally or politically to anyone. It feels safe here, and I feel like I can protect our young girls who are only 3 and 6 in this little piece of ‘nowhere’.

It makes me angry to think that when we plan our summer holiday trips this year my first thoughts will be ‘What is the terror threat level?’ and ‘Will it be safe?’

I can’t help it, I am just being honest.

We are due to go to Funk The Family festival in Hove Park in June. It sounds like a brilliant day, our kids would LOVE it. I’m even running a competition for tickets! But I don’t know if I can go.

I know I’ll be scanning the crowds, questioning anything that seems a little ‘off’, basically acting like a paranoid loonie.

With the terror threat level raised to critical  (I’m not entirely sure what this actually means- but it doesn’t sounds great does it?!) I just dont think I can put my girls into a potentially risky situation, if I have the choice. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am under no illusion that I can shield my babies from these monsters forever, their attacks are so random who knows what is around the corner. But at this very moment all I can think is that I must try, as best as I can, to avoid putting them in harms way. And yes, for us, that does mean avoiding crowded places for a while.

How on earth are we going to tackle this Terrorist Cancer? It keeps on spreading and growing. Neither have a cure, and all I can think is, ‘Where’s next’.