Saturday, 22 December 2012

Happy Christmas!

I was thrilled to get the first ever Christmas card from the McBaby...

But not so thrilled when the little monkey unwrapped the Christmas present for his dad that I'd spent ages wrapping.

Happy Christmas wherever you are and whatever you're doing!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012


Remember the Moneysupermarket competition - the Super Savvy kids challenge?

The idea of it was to provide tips on teaching children the importance of saving money, and unbelievably, my entry on car boot sales made it to the final!

Sadly, as the McBaby is only little, I didn't think we'd get far, so reluctantly had to turn down the invitation to come to the final, not before asking around to see if anyone had a spare child I could borrow though.

However, those great people there still sent us some money-related goodies! We got a fab Junior Monopoly game that we can't wait to play at Christmas, some gold coins (*not pictured..hic!) and some Love2Shop vouchers!

We can't thank Moneysupermarket enough for the fabulous parcel and also the wonderful timing. We were able to take some friends out for a meal last night, so it was all very much appreciated.

It's a good time to mention that a few friends have given the McBaby cash and due to the wonderful power of compound interest, hopefully it should stand him in good stead when he's 18.

Happy Christmas all!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Presents galore

Since the McBaby received so many presents from the lovely children at his birthday party, I decided to return something I'd bought him.

He had so many that I thought I'd get something for his dad with the money that I'd spent. And after all, the ball that I'd bought was probably a bit young for him - you roll it and it makes a strange noise. That's so last month!

So I popped it back into the bag with the receipt and pushed him into town. The ball, lolling about in the pushchair, kept making funny noises particularly when we were going over uneven ground. Our route into town takes us over a bumpy canal bridge, so the ball really started going for it. So, when a group of people passed us, I felt it necessary to explain what the noise was and shouted "sorry - he has a weird ball".

Strange looks all round.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The Beverly Hillbillies...

..not just a series from the 60s. The Clampitts are live and well and living in Newbury.

Today I seemed to embarrass myself at every turn. The fourth of my "responsible and experienced" babysitters appeared today to see if they could be the person I could call on when I need to do some work.

That McBaby doesn't look after himself, you know. And he could have told my boss that, as he phoned him three times this morning.

So that was number one.

When the lady arrived, I had just broken the kettle and offered a cup of tea which I had to make by boiling the water on the hob. And there were remnants of burnt toast in the grill, as we don't currently have a toaster. Strikes two and three.

Then I was ok for 20 minutes. I had work to do and was a-press releasing away. Then I though I heard my name. And again.

I went upstairs and found the McBaby's door shut. I always leave it open because the last person who closed it was a French exchange student who got the door stuck. I had to rescue him from the room and forgot to get it fixed.

I couldn't open it. I rammed it with my shoulder, called MrM and shouted platitudes while she offered to phone her husband, a fireman.

The potential embarrassment must have given me a rush of energy, as this shoulder charge opened it successfully. Strike four.

The McBaby was a bit upset about his false imprisonment, so the nice lady decided to take him for a walk.

Only to find that I'd left the pushchair in MrM's car. Strike five.

"No problem! I'll take a sling!"

I couldn't find sling. Strike six.

I then remembered it was in an upstairs drawer and started flinging things out of it like I was packing in a romcom. A towel sailed down the stairs and landed on her head. Strike seven.

Then I couldn't find his hat. Strike eight.

But she found another hat in his drawer that I couldn't remember buying. Strike nine.

Then she went outside for a walk. Except I made a stupid joke about "please come back!" and she said that she'd walk in the garden if it made me feel better. They had a great time, and unbelievably, the McBaby fell asleep in her arms.

She put him on my bed for a nap and he slept for THREE HOURS! During which time I thanked her, begged her to come back and tried to pay her. She wouldn't accept it.

Did I dream the whole thing?


Sunday, 18 November 2012

Marks out of 10!

You'll be familiar with this bit of research: In 1979, interviewers asked new graduates from the Harvard’s MBA Program and found that :

-84% had no specific goals at all
-13% had goals but they were not committed to paper
-3% had clear, written goals and plans to accomplish them

In 1989, the interviewers again interviewed the graduates of that class.

-The 13% of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent who had no goals at all.

-the three percent who had clear, written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent put together.

So I have decided to put some goals down and mark them out of 10 each week

They are:

1. Be a good mother

I am not naturally maternal to say the least! I think this week's parenting effort is a 6.

Plus points:
I did well with feeding him healthily.

I didn't choke him (after last week's near disaster when he couldn't breathe thanks to a piece of apple that I removed with my fingers.

I took him to plenty of groups

we got lots of fresh air.

I didn't dress him in any strange combinations of clothes.

Minus points:

I didn't teach him anything and have in fact let him watch the Wiggles too often.

He cried when I collected him from nursery, not when I dropped him off.

I noticed today that he has been using the hoover as a walker as I won't buy him one.

2. Work - 7

I worked hard, got lots of releases published and got some nice feedback. However, I could have done more phoning around.

Exercise/health - 4

Ate crap, drank wine, didn't exercise, didn't sleep enough or very well.

Husband- 6

Haven't really seen him this week! We had a great time when we were together but I probably could have been more patient with him and more appreciative when he took the McBaby to storytime alone for half an hour.

House -4

A mess. It looks much better than it used to, but more stuff needs to go out and I need to stay on top of the constant milk spillages that follow the McBaby everywhere!

Money - 5


Did my first mystery shop for a while

Sold lots on Ebay, although I underestimated the postage on one item disastrously.

Penultimate salary arrives this week.

Did some freelance work


Spent too much on booze, food and networking events.

Drove when I could have walked, spending unnecessary money on diesel.

My own business: 5

Need to find a name

need to have some consistency!

Need to find a proper babysitter and not run out of networking events when potential clients approach me!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Here's a pound. Go and double it! ('SuperKid Savers' competition)

This is my entry into the Moneysupermarket to encourage the next generation of savvy savers.

My little boy is only 11 months old, so he likes to put any money he finds into his mouth rather than into his bank account, but I'm looking forward to teaching him the value of money, particularly as his dad and I work so hard for each penny!

So the MoneySupermarket competition asks bloggers to come up with advice on how to educate children about money and instil good savings habits.

The aim is for parent bloggers to share the tips they use to educate their own children about saving, and the best tips chosen by our judges will be bundled in with our financial expert's advice and placed on site.

My tip is to take your child to boot sales and this is something I have already started doing - whether or not the poor little chap is enjoying it so far is debatable!

However, it's something I'm sticking with. And not only because I am addicted to them! I absolutely hate shopping with a passion, but there's nothing I love more than a good rummage at a boot sale!

There are several ways that this helps teach children the value of money:

1. It shows them that there's no need to waste resources on buying something new. Buy it from a boot sale and it's really one of the best kinds of recycling! I am wearing a dress I bought for 50p and I've never seen anyone else wearing anything like it. (And judging from the compliments I get, I mean that in a good way!)

2. It stops them spending time at the shops buying things just for the sake of it.

3. Fresh air and exercise! You don't realise how far you're walking!

4. It will encourage them to sell their own unwanted toys, clothes and books when they're no longer required. Selling at a boot sale teaches you about displaying your wares to the best effect, maths, talking to strangers, customer service and haggling!

5. It encourages them to appreciate the value of money.

6. It teaches them basic maths.

7. It will make them question buying things new.

8. I find that I pick up all kinds of amazing vintage books at boot sales; I'd probably not have checked out Just William, Nicholas and Angela or even re-visited Enid Blyton if it weren't for boot sales.

9. It encourages them to sift the tat from the good value items and who knows, they might start a trading business. Isn't that how Lord Sugar started?

10. It gets them out of bed on a Sunday morning instead of lounging around in bed!



After last week's disaster, I could have hugged the wonderful lady who came today to look after the McBaby.

She was early, she played happily with him, she changed a dirty nappy and she put him down for a nap, staying with him while he protested. Then, while he was asleep, she came downstairs and washed up!

I don't want to employ this woman, I want to MARRY her!

The only problem is that she lives quite some distance away and in fact, I haven't heard back from her. And as the other lady who was meant to come in the afternoon never showed up (unless she heard the McBaby and his friend screaming and made a run for it) I think my search continues.

Friday, 9 November 2012

How to waste a £20 note

I don't think I've had a moment to myself since early 2011 so I thought it was worth finding someone who could keep an eye on the McBaby for an hour or so, giving me the opportunity to get some work done, do some painting and finally give the house a proper clean, not just a quick swish and wipe.

So, I put an ad on gumtree where I was pleased to get a number of replies - notably mostly from women from eastern Europe. The first asked for the most per hour - £10, but she had good experience, so I thought I'd invite her over to see how she got on.

She said she'd be here at 2pm, and as the minutes counted down, I was ridiculously excited and ready to get on with my increasing list of chores. At 1.45pm, the McBaby began a nap. At 2.05pm, I got a phone call from M, who, despite being 18, has a surprisingly stern voice, saying she was lost.

I wasn't 100% sure where she was, but she then remembered she had satnav, so I gave her, again, our address and postcode.

Two minutes later she called back. I'm outside 81.

Great. But we're 82 and number 81 is nowhere near here. She calls back a few more times.

Another two minutes and she's outside the train station, but I'm not sure which way she's facing.

Another two minutes and she's "going down a hill"?

Another two minutes and she's parking.

Another two minutes and she tells me she's been knocking and that I should open the door. I didn't hear knocking and there's no one there.

She's outside 28. I patiently remind her that we're number 82.

So, she finally arrives and her constant phoning has woken the McBaby.

I make her a cup of tea and show her around. She plays with the McBaby upstairs and I write 10 words. I then make a quick phone call and then remember her tea is ready, so take it upstairs. The McBaby decides to grab my dress and never, never, never let go.

And then he begins to scream for and HOUR and a half!

I give him some food. This reminds me I haven't eaten all day either and in fact, "have lunch" is under "write press release", "clean kitchen floor" and "get rid of moss on conservatory roof", so I make myself and also M a sandwich. She eats the sandwich and I feed the McBaby some avocado. I then grab an apple for him which she offers to cut up. "It's fine," I say, "he can hold the apple and eat it."

She tells me that's dangerous and then also tells me that the step in the kitchen is dangerous. Sensing that I might like to be told about other things I'm doing wrong, she then tells me that the milk I gave the McBaby 10 minutes ago should have been heated up.

Then the McBaby starts choking on the apple. I reach in and grab the piece of apple out while she reminds me that she'd just told me it was dangerous. Red-faced, I say that he's never had a problem before.

It's now five to 4pm. "I should go," she says, pausing to say that if I hadn't come back into the room to bring her the tea, he would have been fine.

I pay her £20 and she goes. I feel that I don't need to tell her that it hasn't gone very well and I won't be asking her to come back. I don't ask if it had occurred to her to take him out.

So, it's with some surprise to see my phone has three missed calls from her the following day. I don't know what to say so don't call her back. But then, when I'm driving, she calls again and I wonder if she left something here, pull over and answer.

"I'm renting a new place. Will you be my reference?"

I pause.

"Can I think about it?"

"Forget it"


Monday, 5 November 2012


Just found a steamed up bag under the seat in the car - similar to the one pictured above and called MrM to ask what it was.

"Ah, the nursery gave me that a couple of weeks ago to wash, and I forgot about it" he said.

So I got some gloves on and opened the bag to be hit with the stench of two-week old wee.

I gently and tentatively opened the bag and tipped the clothes out.

To find that they're not actually the McBaby's....


Friday, 2 November 2012

A precious photo

My dad has texted me lots of pictures this week and one of these pictures was very precious as it's one of the McBaby just hours after he was born. For one reason and another we don't have any pictures of the McBaby's first hours, so this picture means the world to me.

My dad and my sister were here yesterday, so I thanked dad for this wonderful gift. "I don't even remember him being this small" I said to my sister.

"That's because he wasn't", she said. "That's not him, it's my other nephew".


Tuesday, 23 October 2012


When it comes to wiggling, the McBaby is my go to guy.

So it was not easy when we went swimming on Sunday morning to change him out of his wet Minymo swimsuit and nappy into dry clothes, in a filthy changing room (yes, I'm looking at you Northcroft).

So I was ridiculously excited when a lady at the swimming pool offered to hold him while I put my own clothes on. This led me to ponder - just how do people cope at the swimming pool with more than one child?

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Why we're still co-sleeping..

Not many people know this, but you are still sleeping in our bed. You're nine months old and you've been co-sleeping since the day you were born.

On your first night in this world, you wouldn't go into your Moses basket and you screamed.

But to be honest, it wasn't all your fault. You very quickly became too long for the Moses basket. So we bought you a cot. You weren't keen on it, and that suited me as I was enjoying being able to feed you on my side in my sleep.

Your Dad is away a lot, so I find it comforting to have you in the bed with me and you're now so tall that you can climb out of the cot.

But the real reason I like to have you in the bed is to wake up to this beautiful, enthusiastic smile....

“This blog post has been written as an entry into the Tots100 competition in association with Boots Mother and Baby“

Monday, 1 October 2012

Upside down

I don't know what it says about me that the McBaby loves nothing more than to bang away on my laptop, which he must have learned from me. In fact, I haven't been able to use the laptop for a couple of days as the McBaby somehow managed to turn the screen upside down!

I couldn't even get on there to "google" instructions for turning it back the other way, so had to call an IT geek (did I say "geek"? I mean "expert") for help!

(If it happens to you, it's Ctrl + Alt + the upwards arrow key!)

I left him to watch the Wiggles for less than 30 seconds and came back to find that he'd opened a Wikipedia page and had looked up the entry for "South Carolina". Is he trying to escape? To prove that I hadn't learned my lesson, I called MrM so that he could watch the McBaby's IT skills in action. In the time it took me to call him, the little man had managed to print out one of my emails, unfortunately, sending it remotely to the office printer. Quite what my colleagues will make of that - particularly as I'm not sure what he printed - I don't know.

He's 9 months old. What am I going to do when he's 2?


Friday, 28 September 2012


Another swimming lesson this morning and the McBaby is making great progress (did you think I was going to say 'waves'?) with swimming underwater and is really, really enjoying our half hour sessions every week.

I am enjoying it too, although I have to say there was something I most definitely did not enjoy this morning, and probably, neither did our classmates. McBaby, was it really necessary this morning to pull my swimming suit down to flash everyone?


Wednesday, 26 September 2012



1. Having a nosebleed all over the McBaby and taking ages to find the source of the blood!

2. For driving to Norwich for work and then discovering that I had two babyseats in the car, necessitating a last-minute taxi for MrM who dropped the McBaby at nursery and then got a taxi home to collect his car, before driving back to work again!

3. Not sending a spare pair of trousers to nursery, and the McBaby therefore having to wear a pink pair home with rabbits on them.

4. Forgetting to take a nappy with us when we went swimming. I had to borrow one. Oh the shame.

5. Calling the McBaby and MrM; "Jon, Dave, Simon". None of these names belongs to either of them.

6. Abandoning the McBaby to go and see my favourite band last night.

6a. While at (6), telling MrM that McBaby won't go to bed until 11.30pm. And then taking it as a personal insult upon my parenting when MrM managed to get him to sleep at 7pm.

7. For sending a video of the McBaby to You've Been Framed. I'll come back and apologise separately if it gets used...


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Princess Anne

MrM organised a wonderful event for the service to dedicate a new memorial to American airmen. Forty-nine crewmen were killed in two incidents in December 1944 - a glider crash and a mid-air collision above Greenham Common.

Guests to the service included Princess Anne, the local MP, the town's dignatories, and er....the McBaby and I.

I really wanted the McBaby to have had the experience, whether he remembers it or not, to find out about the Second World War and to meet veterans. This was a great idea as he charmed the people who were there, smiled at everyone, called the MP "daddy", and cooed and enjoyed himself. This great idea seemed more like a very bad idea when there was a minute's silence. How to keep a baby quiet for what seemed like the longest 60 seconds of my life? I know! I will stick my finger in his mouth - the result was this noise that you can hear in the first few seconds of the ITV report:

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

9 months today!

Nine months!

Longer out of the womb than in it!

Happy 3/4 birthday my little sweetheart! xxx

Thursday, 13 September 2012


Sometimes people need to be a bit more subtle than simply telling you what they're doing.

Like the time I spoke to a copper who was doing a speed check, wondering how many people he'd booked.

"Only a couple, it's more for reassuring the public that we're taking action really."

Similarly, the predicted illness that we thought the McBaby would get once he started nursery did indeed arrive with a vengence a couple of days ago. He can hardly breathe, his nose is blocked, he's got a horrible smoker's cough and he is not sleeping at all.

He also has a strange yellow tint on his nails, but fortunately I worked out that this was the remnants of the paint that he'd got all over himself during an art session at nursery yesterday.

This very ill baby became a very happy baby when we arrived at the doctor's surgery. Plenty of women to flirt with and a mummy to make look foolish.

I took him in, and the doctor seemed a bit impatient. He did examine him though when I said I wanted to know if he had a chest infection or not. The McBaby didn't enjoy this at all, and didn't enjoy being told that he was fine and then the doctor just saying the word "reassurance". As in, "I am reassuring you".

Don't reassure me!

Tell me what to do!

Don't patronise me - I KNOW that you can't visit me at night, I was simply saying that he might seem fine to you but he is genuinely unwell and unable to sleep.

And yes, DrX I've already given him Calpol!


Tuesday, 11 September 2012


The McBaby had his first paid-for swimming lesson this week - the first since I very thorough and enjoyable class with his aunt when he was four months old!

We headed to the pool at Elcot Park near Hungerford which is the location for our classes as the water is quite warm. In fact, it made me titter to myself, as I watched from the side as the McBaby got ready with his dad (a rare day off for MrM). While they were in the changing room, I put my toe in. It was like bath water.

Then the next lady came and did the same. "Ooh it's freezing."

Then, MrM with McBaby. "Oooh it's warm."

Then, the first lady's husband. "Oooh it's cold."

And so on....

The first lesson was about getting used to the water. He seemed a bit scared but did enjoy it. And not just dad, the McBaby liked it too.

The half-hour lesson went by in a flash. Or should that be "splash".

They swam underwater, the parents learned how to get in and the babies got used to sitting on the side and not being afraid of falling in.

So a great first lesson. Next week it's my turn to take him as MrM will be working. Looking at the other mums, my only concern is that how much weight I can lose before next week's session....


A wedding....

We spent the weekend down in Cornwall for the wedding of the year. In fact, the wedding of the decade. Close your eyes and picture the perfect English wedding. That is what this was like. A beautiful church, stunning bride, handsome groom, gorgeous weather, bunting and flowers, fudge, music, laughter. Amazing and so wonderful for the McBaby to spend time with his family.

This is what I learned:

-That a bowtie will stay on the McBaby for a maximum of 45 seconds.

-I have not been able to walk in heels since the birth. Or before. I got my heel stuck in the grate while walking down the aisle. Most unladylike.

-That my dad is the best speechmaker I've ever heard.

-How to brush a dog thanks to the McNephew

-That three gorgeous bridesmaids will emit enough beauty to hide the ugly one!

-That according to my cousin (from the Midlands), "Cornwall is in the south, isn't it? Near London?"

-That a wet dog will take away that new car smell.

-That I am AMAZING at air guitar

-That a three-year-old is better at re-inflating a bouncy castle than I am

-That if I drink enough, I will eat meat

-That I want to move to Cornwall....


Tuesday, 4 September 2012


How can it possibly, possibly be September already?

Wasn't it February about two minutes ago? I just can't believe that time is passing so quickly. I can't even tell you what I've been doing since the beginning of the year!

So, here we are in September and that means that I am back at work. I was actually meant to go back in July, but asked for an additional two months off because...well, see the third sentence of this post for details.

I'm back at work and that means that the McBaby is at nursery. He is settling in nicely and enjoyed a few hours there last week as a trial. MrM dropped him off yesterday and said one of them nearly cried, but didn't specify who, although I have an inkling...

So far, we're pleased with the way the nursery keeps him busy and reports back to us what he's been doing, what he's eaten and how is mood has been. But what's this about napping? The boy who will not nap during the day is sleeping for half an hour here and there at nursery! I do not pay for you to sleep McBaby! You can do that at home!

I'm only kidding! it's all good, except for the morning drop-off. It's horrible dropping off a little one. How do they know to make that face and those big puppy eyes? MrM picked him up yesterday and the McBaby was so excited that he laughed loudly, clapped his hands and talked all the way home. He then tried to climb up the stairs, such was his delight at being back at home.

However, when I picked him up, he was playing happily, then looked at me and burst into tears. Thanks for that.

When I dropped him off this morning, he was so pleased to see his little friend that he shouted very loudly, making the other boy cry. Is the rule that one person should be crying at all times?


Saturday, 1 September 2012

Kate Takes 5 listography - top 5 songs I grew up to!

What a great idea from Kate! her list is here:

My five are:

1. A new England by Kirsty MacColl. I love Kirsty and have done since I heard this, aged nine!

2. Whitney Houston (RIP) - I wanna dance with somebody

3. Whiskey in the Jar!!

4. Madonna, believe it or not! I used to love this song and recall specifically buying Smash Hits once because it had these words in it....

5. Elvis. I grew up on a strict Elvis diet! I think this one is my favourite.

Wow, what a great trip down Memory Lane (at the end of Cringeworthy Avenue). My 25-year long affair with the Levellers didn't start until I was in my teens, so you've been spared!


Thursday, 30 August 2012

Krazy Klub

If you'd told me this time last year that I could be found at a children's play centre, sitting on a plastic mat, watching my son playing in a ball pool, then I would have said; "pah!"

A year later, and I still say "pah!"

Maybe it's because it was raining and both the McBaby and I were tired, because we stopped to pick someone up so she wouldn't get soaked and she seemed a bit put out that my car was a small three-door version, or maybe it was because of the stresses at home. Maybe it was because it was CRAZY busy, maybe it was because the staff member of the door thought the children were 2 years old, maybe because it was so loud in there, maybe because there were lots of older, quite aggressive children in the "under 2s" ball pool, but I don't think either of us enjoyed it as much as we'd hoped.

We will stick to our rule of trying everything three times before we give up though!


Thursday, 23 August 2012

Turn off the TV and do something less boring instead....

Today is a momentous day! We have decided to get rid of the TV (it's not actually left the house yet - it's on freecycle waiting for someone to use the word "please" in their request to be its next owner. Twelve replies so far, none include the magic word!)

Or is it so momentous? My massive announcement has so far been met by most people with "big deal, you've got iPlayer".

It's been something I've wanted to do for a long time. When I was young, when you met someone with enormous intellect, they usually didn't have a TV. But then, you didn't usually have anything to talk about either, and there was a feeling that they were a bit disconnected with society.

But the positives that I am hoping for are:

1. That we will have more time. We never watched Britain's Got Talent, Eastenders or anything like that, but nonetheless, having a TV is a massive time-suck. Despite my protestations that I don't watch it that much, I could quite easily find myself watching blooming "Four in a Bed" for hours because it happened to be on and then wondering why I never had time to bake etc.

2. The saving on the licence fee (even though they never, ever believe that it's possible that you don't have a TV and chase you relentlessly with letters written as if to a hardened criminal).

3. Not watching adverts! Hopefully this means we won't be wanting to buy stupid things!

4. That the lack of moving pictures will make us sleep better.

5. That I will read more. It seems to be working so far - I've nearly finished "One Day" - the first time I've started a novel since the McBaby was born.

6. Our living room looks MUCH bigger!!

7. Our living room is easier to clean!

8. I've been listening to the radio. Radio 4 and also, Absolute Radio which is playing a great selection of hits from the 90s. I am currently listening to Skunk Anasie (remember them?!)

9. No more Breakfast TV! Starting the day with Bill Turnbull and Susannah Reid puts me in a foul mood.

10. No more passivity! If I want to watch something, I'll seek it out on youtube, iPLayer or DVD and will enjoy it more.

What are your thoughts? This is what one friend said on FB:

Don't be worried about putting bubs in front of the tv. Louis loves it. His language is way ahead .hr knows the alphabet and can count to 30. I think it's beneficial as he uses lots of vocab from tv.
What are your thoughts?

Monday, 20 August 2012

£10,000?? More like £10!

Apparently, according to BBC News (who in turn got their info from this esure press release), "parents splash out a staggering £10,000 on toys per child, before their children leave home."

We must be the family who brings the average down. Why spend on toys when the McBaby can happily entertain himself for hours with my unread newspaper. Total cost 70p!

The study of 3,000 parents by esure home insurance shows that in the early years parents spend close to £5002 per year up to their children reaching school age. 'Absent parent guilt' also seems to play a role in this vast spend with nearly a quarter of working parents (23 per cent) say they regularly treat their children to new toys to compensate for spending little time with them with their ever-so increasing workload.

British parents splash out on toys throughout the year, with Christmas, birthday, Easter and 'good behaviour' gifts - as well as toys to keep children entertained during the long summer holidays - featuring as some of the justifications that parents give for spending so much money on toys for their children. A third of parents questioned admit to buying some toys just so their children can feel they fit in with their friends and won't feel left out of owning the latest 'must-haves'.

According to the poll, from age five to 18, most children are also rewarded for educational and sporting achievements. In total, average British parents will spend a staggering £10,021 on games, action figures, dolls, construction sets, garden toys and arts and crafts kits per child before their kids reach 18. That's £20,000 on toys alone for the average British two child family.

Nikki Sellers, Head of home insurance at esure, said: "Most children want to keep up with their friends by having all of the latest must-have toys, and gadgets and this carries a hefty price tag.

For many parents, their children’s rooms become ‘no go’ zones as they grow up but it’s vital for them to take into account the value of these Aladdin’s caves to ensure they’re not left under-insured if the worst happens. It’s amazing how kids’ crazes to keep up with the latest fads can rack up the value of a family’s belongings."

The poll shows the biggest spend on toys occurs at Christmas with an average of £170 per child. Birthdays cost parents an average of £83, and despite receiving sweet treats at Easter, children are also receiving toys worth £27.

During the school holidays children can look forward to another £43 of toys as parents splash out in the attempt to keep them entertained and a further £46 goes on toys during the annual family holiday - regardless of whether they are enjoying the sunshine abroad or in the UK.

In addition to the usual 'events' which happen every year, generous mums and dads also choose to reward their children for good behaviour - spending £46 on average pear year. Some lucky children can also expect to receive £35 of toys to cheer them up when they are feeling blue and £30 on toys on occasions when hard-working parents feel guilty for neglecting them.

This them continues when children start school, with parents admitting they reward educational achievements by buying toys worth £60 per year for passing exams or doing particularly well in a school subject. Sporting success also makes parents proud and they will fork out £39 per year to celebrate if a child has done well in games or races.

Four in 10 parents surveyed say they only spoil their children because they love them, and 34 per cent claim they’ll do anything to keep them entertained. The knock-on effect is that 45 per cent of British households are now clogged with toys as parents struggle to contain their children’s possessions in one room of the house. This may be the reason why a quarter of families have a dedicated playroom.

Breakdown of results £s spent per year
Christmas 169.40
Birthday 83.21
Educational achievements 59.68 (from age 5 and up)
Reward for good behaviour 46.39
Annual holiday 46.24
School holidays 42.89
Sporting achievements 39.22 (from age 5 and up)
Toys to cheer them up/td> 34.61
Easter 27.24
Guilty spends 29.86
Total 578.74 a year
Total over 18 years 10,417.32

- ends -

Beautiful Days

"For some reason that I still can't work out, my parents decided to put me, along with a bunch of other stuff, in the van and head down to Devon.

We arrived on Thursday afternoon and parked up in a field. Mummy opened up some cider which I tried repeatedly to grab, but she wouldn't let me have any. While she was doing that, Daddy put up a tent and shouted things at her such as: "Didn't you bring the sodding mallet?" "This tent looks like it's bloody leaking" and "why are there only three tent pegs and why have you bent them all?"

They then met up with some friends who were dressed as ridiculously as my parents. Meanwhile, people kept trying to take pictures of me. I did my most unimpressed face.

We went back to the van and as soon as Mummy and I got into bed, it started raining. And raining, and raining and raining. And a bit more. And it was still raining when I woke mummy up at 5am. Fortunately daddy and his tent hadn't been swept away by the wind and rain, but daddy didn't get much sleep as the family next to us had been up all night shouting!

The lovely green grass now looked like this:

And mummy says the festival is called Beautiful Days!

So we played in the van until it stopped raining and I spent an hour ignoring all the toys mummy brought with her and instead banged a spoon onto a saucepan

until mummy made me go and see her favourite band. WHile she danced around like a loon, whooping and shouting, I went to sleep. Not only for the Levellers (where people kept laughing at my snoring), but also during Hobo Jones and Mad Dog McRea.

At least it stopped raining for the rest of the weekend, so I was able to flirt lots, listen to lots of great bands (including another one of mummy and daddy's favourite, 3 Daft Monkeys which I slept through)

I also tried festival food (which was a lot better than the stuff that mummy was cooking in one pan on the gas stove). As a side note, I did find it very funny when mummy unpacked the van when we got home and dropped a can of macaroni on the pavement. It rolled onto the road, and as she was about to pick it up, a car ran over it and POP! It exploded all over mummy who shouted something about not wanting to eat food out of a can, but not wanting to wear it either. Hahahaha!)

So my first festival experience can be summed up in two words: sleep

and beer.

Watch out for me, I'll be performing at Beautiful Days Eleven!


The McBaby


Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Good things come in threes...

I'm going to be incredibly annoying and boast about the three "skills" that the McBaby mastered yesterday!

Number one:

Crawling! Yes, somehow it doesn't look like crawling, and he's going backwards instead of forwards but it counts, I tell you!

Number two:

Clapping! He's been trying to do it for a while and has had the concept (by banging his hands on his highchair tray) but while watching Kenneth Williams in Carry on Regardless, it came together for him and he felt the need to applaud!

Number three:

Peeling the wallpaper in the lounge. I've managed to conceal this from MrM by putting toys in front of it....


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Under Pressure

WHile on holiday, I was able to hand the McBaby over for a couple of hours and sat down to read the utterly brilliant "Under Pressure" by Carl Honore (he of "In Praise of Slow" fame).

It's well worth a read and put a lot of things in perspective for me. I knew that I was guilty of wanting the best for the McBaby and perhaps putting pressure on him to succeed and do well. I've already "overscheduled" him - making appointments for swimming, music and trying to teach him Mandarin (a language which I don't even speak myself).

SOmetimes, when all you've known is the working world, you can divert this energy and attention into bringing up a child. Sometimes the child becomes the job and you justify leaving work by proving that child-rearing is the same as a career, leading to a kind of "professionalism" of parenting. The kind of parenting our forebears did now looks a little laid back and lazy.

But this book shows that this path leads to problems and that when the alpha mother starts banging on about how advanced her child is, it's best to remember that children develop at different paces and that you should trust your instinct.

One area where I do tend to trust my instincts that the book condones is the pruchasing of electronic, educational toys. I had actually told MrM the other day that I felt a bit ridiculous walking into town because the McBaby was playing with a can of my deodorant and a biscuit tin. He wouldn't put them down and we attracted some strange looks.

But if that's what he wants to play with, why buy him expensive toys. I had been feeling consumerist guilt, which is usually an urge I don't have. Am I cruel for not buying the McBaby the latest chair/toy\expensive pushchair?

Perhaps such things are turning babies into passive observers?

As one quote in the book says: "The more imagination and cleverness the inventor has put into the toy, the less room there is for the child's imagination and creativity".

Roll on mum's biscuit tin and deodorant!!


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

"EVery second of life is a gift"

I've been pondering a lot recently on the nature of life, as one is wont to do after the birth of a child. SOmething that has been keeping me awake is that I really don't know who would look after the McBaby should anything happen to me.

In the last few years, all of my friends have moved onwards and upwards. In the last few months, our social life has been reduced to outings to the park and to rhyme time at the library. MrM and I moved back to Newbury which is a difficult place to make friends and we have a few acquaintances, but no-one close, and no-one that has offered to look after the McBaby for an hour, let alone until he's 18!

So I've had some strange thoughts floating around my head of late, and when I saw the story about the horrific shooting of 12 people in a cinema in the STates, I was appalled. One of the dead is a beautiful, vibrant young lady called Jessica Ghawi, who, unbelieveably, survived a shooting in Toronto a few months ago.

Much like Hungerford, when you look around the peaceful streets, it's hard to imagine such an atrocity taking place in Toronto. But what struck me was how well she put into words what I've been feeling recently.

"I was shown how fragile life was...I was reminded that we don't know when or where our time on earth will end...

"I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. SO often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings."

Monday, 23 July 2012

Is anyone listening?

Now the sunshine is here, everything seems much better. The McBaby and I had a fabulous day at the local Waterways festival and with all the work the organisers had put into it, it was wonderful to see the sun shine for them.

So, everything seems rosy. Or it will do once I get this rant out of my head!

On Thursday, when it was still raining, I had a call from someone arranging an appointment for a health condition I've contracted since I became a mother.

Me: "Can I bring my son?"
Woman: "Why does he want to come?"
Me: "He doesn't want to, it's just that I have no childcare".
Woman: Big SIGH. "I'll find out."

Calls back.

Woman: "You can, but it's really not ideal"
Me: "Oh that's great, thank you. No, I know it's not ideal, but I have no choice."
Woman: "It says here you're married. Can't your husband look after him?"

Me, thinking that if he could, I wouldn't have asked if I could bring my son.
"No, he can't, sorry."

Woman: More sighing. "Well, you can bring him, but it's really not convenient."
Me: "OK, I understand, I think it would be best to cancel then."
Woman: "I just said you could bring him"
Me: "Yes, you did, but you said it wasn't convenient which will make me stressed if he starts crying."
Woman: "OK". Hangs up.

I call back. "Hello! Just got cut off and not sure if my appointment is cancelled or if I need to do it in writing?"

I glance at letter telling me how hideously inconvenient it is when people don't turn up. I have never let anyone down or missed an appointment in my life.

Woman: "Look. Just bring him ok. Lots of single mums do."

Hmmm, do they get the guilt trip too?

Me: "Ok, I will thank you."

WOman: "You will turn up?"

Me: "Of course!"

WOman: "DOn't let me down!"

Me: "Uh?"

Woman: "DO you want a letter to confirm the appointment?"

Me: "No thanks, I have written it all down. I think you've wasted enough time on me, so don't use more resources sending me a letter!"

WOman: "OK, I won't. See you then."

This morning, a letter confirming my appointment landed on the doorstep.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Thanks for babysitting, dad

I think everything is in place for tomorrow:

A year's supply of teabags - check

Three packets of biscuits - check

A homemade cake; made from chocolate and the bananas that a mother let her child stand on at Rhyme Time yesterday - check

Thank you dad xxx

Sunday, 15 July 2012

The Sunday confessional

I didn't make it to church this week (or for the past 112 weeks for that matter), but thought I should confess to some terrible things I've done since I became a parent six months ago.

1. I left my son with a total stranger on Friday night. It's the first time I've left him with anyone other than my mum, but I thought one of us would go mad if we didn't have some time apart. She was the first person who has ever followed through on their offer to babysit and was great with him. It seems they had a lovely time together and when I returned two hours later, he was asleep with his arms wrapped tightly around her.

2. After a month of struggling to lift the McBaby and his pushchair up and down and up and down and up and down flights and flights of stairs. After being barged and pushed and occasionally left watching as a load of perfectly able people would rush into the lift (hence my taking of this pic), I was less than gracious when someone grabbed the pushchair when I was halfway up a flight of stairs. I did say thank you, but should have been a lot nicer about it. It's just that, if you are going to help, then please tell me so that I don't suddenly find that the McBaby is being propelled head downwards! (But genuinely, thank you for helping)

3. In 38 degree heat, I gave the McBaby pineapple which he LOVED. And then reacted to so that he looked a bit like Richard Branson with a red goatee beard. When the health visitor mentioned the foods that a baby shouldn't eat she said, "seafood, nuts and honey". She did not mention citrus fruit. My mum thought it was funny to dress him in these trousers the next day.

4. I let him roll off the bed. I can't even bring myself to write anymore about it as it was so traumatic.

5. Short of cash, I SOLD HIS PUSHCHAIR. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, the winning bidder said she didn't want it as it was pink and she had a boy. (Er so do I, and I only mentioned the pink THREE times in the listing). The second bidder said she'd collect and then told me she'd bought another one, so perhaps this is to teach me a lesson about selling my son's stuff.

6. I had to return an item I'd borrowed to someone called Ivan. (I never found out what his surname was but I am hopeful that it is "Ho"). WHile we were in his shop I didn't exactly leap in rapidly when I saw the McBaby exploring a sandwich toaster and then eating the plastic piece of toast inside....

How many spaces shall I leave for all the other stupid things that I haven't done yet but will. What do you feel bad about after having children?


Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Oh dear Ikea

I came across this sign when I was in the giant yellow and blue shop, trying to buy a cot for the boy.

Ikea, if you can't spell "drawer", then you shouldn't be selling them.....

The Olympic Torch comes to Newbury!

Not sure if you're allowed to use the word "Olympic" owing to trademark restrictions, but I took the McBaby to see it this morning. Sandwiched between various floats advertising companies that I would not associate with sport, we saw a baton handover but sadly missed the McBaby's friend's mum's leg, although we saw her in her tracksuit on the bus!

The McBaby was getting increasingly more and more excited as the torch approached, flapping his legs and waving his arms and making that giggling noise but then started yawning as it went past.



Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Honkers again

I think the horrible, horrible, wet weather is making me Honkers-sick. Who doesn't have wanderlust when it's been raining for 56 days on the trot?

Anyway, it reminded me of a couple of conversations I had on the same day that made me laugh.

The first was in Karen Millen where the McBaby flirted outrageously with the two staff.

One of them asked me this:

"Are you his mum?"




"But he's so cute!"


"But he's got lovely skin. DId you drink a lot of milk when you were pregnant?"

And then trying to explain to a friend that I'd had a home birth (after she told me not to order spaghetti in a restaurant. "Surely you can make it yourself! Have the steak! OMG! You're not a VEGETARIAN, are you?"

"A home birth? Did you not get to hospital in time?"

"A planned home birth?!


Is it legal in the UK?

How did you afford a private doctor?

You didn't have a doctor? Just a midwife? WHY? Who cleaned up? OK, that's enough info about that..I AM EATING"....


Friday, 6 July 2012

Dragon boat races

Just found a bit of film that I'd forgotten I'd taken of the Dragon Boat racing in Hong Kong. The Dragon Boat race marks the annual Tuen Ng festival and there were races in various locations; Stanley, Shatin, Tuen Mun, Discovery Bay in Lantau, Sai Kung, Tai Po and Cheung Chau, but we watched from Aberdeen which was a good choice as there was a good atmosphere but it wasn't ridiculously busy.

It's a very visual spectacle which commemorates the poet Qu Yuan who threw himself into the Miluo River when the Emperor refused to listen to his concerns about the way the country was being run. The people at the time tried to save him, while beating drums and dropping rice balls into the river to stop fish from eating his body.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Chinese proverb - "Wealth does not pass three generations"

The McBaby, ma mere and I spent a lovely afternoon at the Picasso exhibition in Shatin, viewing the key masterpieces such as Portrait of a man and the Barefoot Girl. The little man has shown a keen interest in art and usually spends longer taking in a painting than I do!

In addition to appraising Picasso's work, he still found time to do a bit more flirting with a group of women. This time the average age of this group was 90 so a very touching experience watching these amazing elderly ladies taking the time to play with the little man in return for his coos and smiles.

We had a quick Japanese meal before heading home on the bus. Hong Kong's subway, known as the MTR, is the best I've ever experienced. While we were here, people were protesting about a price hike, but even taking into account the cost of living and the price rise, I feel that the subway is exceptional value for money. It's clean, efficient and quiet, and makes London's Underground look tired, dangerous and shabby. Having said that, we decided to take the bus home so that we could have a good look out of the window at Hong Kong which literally changes day-to-day. It was while we were looking out of the window that my mum made an astonishing throwaway comment.

Hong Kong is well known for being progressive, almost to the point of sacrilege. You rarely see old buildings, and heritage is forsaken for everything new. Just look at the harbour which used to be the most beautiful in the world. Land reclamation has meant that it's narrowed considerably and it's now choppy and ugly. So from the bus, I pointed out an old building which looked incongruous in Hong Kong's modern setting.

"Ah yes," said ma mere. "That was built by my great grandfather who was quite big in the construction industry. I think it's one of the last remaining buildings that he built that hasn't been torn down to be replaced by a block of flats.".

I did know that my great, great grandfather was extremely wealthy. In a true rags-to-riches story, when his father died, he was forced to find work in order to feed himself and his mother. As a small-built 10-year-old, he'd tout for work with a bucket, offering to clean the funnels of visiting ships as he was just about the right size to climb inside. Work increased to the point where, aged 16, he was the head of a multi-million dollar operation and majorly wealthy. Before you think that our family retains any of this impressive wealth, I'll explain what happened next. In the time it took me to type that sentence, one relative snaffled the money that was meant to be split equally and decided to invest it in Brazil. Not in Rio or Sao Paolo, but a worthless piece of rainforest that no-one can find!

"No, not him!" said my mum. "I'm talking about my OTHER great grandfather." Apparently, and unbelievably, her other great grandfather also made a fortune from nothing. He started a construction firm just as Hong Kong became a massive trading port. He even owned a substantial proportion of Hong Kong's famous waterside properties. Similarly when he died, the money was not split equally, but ended up in the hands of one relative who blew the lot one night in what must have been the world's most interesting card game.

As the Chinese say, and as we say: "From clogs to clogs in three generations".

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Half birthday!

Happy half birthday to my lovely little boy!

I can't believe the time has gone so quickly from when we first met:

to now:

I love you little man!

PS. From now on, we celebrate whole years only - hahaha!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

The annual MOT

Where the "M" stands for "Magatha"...

I bang on all the time about trying to be frugal, but as my mum and I tried to explain to her rich friend, this is not the same as being mean. Depriving yourself of something you like is not the same as being a savvy consumer and getting the best for the money you do spend.

That's how I justify my MOT - a haircut, massage and pedicure while I'm in Honkers - costing a grand total of $330 - about 30 pounds.

Today was the massage - the second I've had since the McBaby arrived and only the first that lasted until the end of the session. (I had to take the McBaby to the last one and he started crying). This time, my mum kindly looked after him so I could fully relax and get the knots kneaded out of my stressed and hugely tense body.

I was so relaxed in fact that I nearly fell asleep but was woken by my mum holding the McBaby over me to examine what I was doing. He smiled at first, but once again, seeing his mum being "attacked" by a strange lady was too much and he was taken away blubbing!

So mum waited outside and I enjoyed the rest in peace and came out to see this superb example of the McBaby flirting with a crowd of women:

Hong Kong for children

It's a crazy city, but Hong Kong is actually not a bad place to bring up children. (Note to MrM - I will discuss this with you before I actually go ahead and sign the McBaby up to a school here).

I've noticed that even the sternest of people will literally cross the road to come and say hello to the McBaby before commenting on his ready smile and big eyes. He even said "Ai ya!" the other day, which was also my first word in Cantonese. I suspect his next ones will be "Ho duk yi!" and "Ho chi gung tsi" which are the two phrases he hears constantly, meaning "Very cute" and "He's like a doll!" respectively.

There are some real plus points to having the McBaby grow up here, including the likelihood of his growing up bilingual, a fact I didn't think we would ackowledge after our awful experience yesterday when we went to meet someone for lunch in Central. Pushing a stroller through Central amongst a crowed of hungry financial workers was just not a good idea - a bit like trying to move house on foot through Trafalgar Square on New Year's Eve. We got tutted at, stared at and on one occasion, pushed as I tried to navigate the crooked streets, steps, narrow pavements, scaffolding and crowds with a stroller and a baby who wouldn't get into it!

I did however have time to snap these fantastically-named shops:

Any way, back to moving here. I have been very impressed with how child-friendly it is (apart from when people are hungry).

Plus points:

Baby friendly
Affordable childcare - There aren't really nurseries for working parents here, but childcare is usually in the form of nannies who look after children and take care of the house.
Lots of green areas.
Amazing public transport - clean, efficient and cheap.


I did get some funny looks when breastfeeding. In the end, I had to put a blanket over the baby's head or feed him in the toilet.
Crazy competitive school system
Expensive. Rent is about three times what you'd pay in London.
Can be inaccessible with a buggy.
People can be incredibly rude. Worse than Newbury.


Friday, 15 June 2012

Wish you were here...

McBaby and I have been writing and posting postcards today - a joint effort as you can see here:

Thursday, 14 June 2012

From the lil one..

I spent all of last week moaning that no one had remembered my birthday but of course, someone did remember! This is the card that I got from the McBaby...

My mum also gave me a Purple Ronnie book about being a mum (Didn't I buy this for her a few years ago?)

with this one being my particular favourite:

Monkey magic

Bought the McBaby a lil monkey toy from a shop in Kowloon yesterday. Just what was the thinking behind the name of the shop?!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Chinese Nappies

Just spoilt for choice while buying nappies for the McBaby in Hong Kong.

How about a packet of Merries?

Or a packet of Moony's? Do you have to be a Moonie to buy these?

There's always Baby Love...

For babies who remember the Goon Show...

And Mamypoko - weird rather than amusing

Friday, 8 June 2012

Auntie Nini

Just got this lovely toy through the post for the McBaby. It was made by his Great Great aunt (who is great but it would have been confusing if I'd used that adjective). She is 90. 90! Apparently she had a stall at her local jubilee celebrations selling some of the toys she'd made.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012


There's no panic quite like the panic of finding your baby is not where you left him. I had two phone calls at once, so answered one and placed the other phone on the floor.

I was gone less than 30 seconds and returned to find the McBaby was not in his bouncer. He was next to it. Somehow, he has worked out how to climb out. He was lying next to it quite happily, playing with the phone. After checking he was ok, I noticed he had dialled 99#9. So close on both counts!!

As if scheduled just for me, the next morning, we went to a talk by a St John Ambulance worker. A poor little boy managed to fall off his chair and smack his face on the table in front of him. Fortunately there was a trained paramedic inches away. But unfortunately, he did nothing but laugh....

And then, I stupidly let the McBaby's pushchair tip backwards which made him scream and scream and scream. Remember when I thought I was going into labour and absolutely no-one helped? Well, the same thing happened again! There was so much traffic, it took me ages to get my screaming boy to the car and then out of our parking space to the hospital. When I did, there was no urgency at all. A woman in front of me saying she had a sore throat and then the receptionist asking if we used to live in Rockingham Road. We didn't. What's the ethnic background of your son? I don't know and don't care - could I see a doctor please?!

We eventually did see the doctor who made the McBaby crack a smile, and even made me smile by telling me that it's natural to knock your child on the head, it's natural to panic and it's natural to blame yourself. "WHen you have seven, as I do, you get blase about it", he said.

Hopefully these things come in threes and that's enough panicking for now. Now all I have to do is work out which ethnic box we should be ticking on these forms.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Austerity motherhood

Last week, I saw a woman putting a BRAND NEW IRON into the tip. If you can afford to do this, you have too much money. But aside from that, what a waste of resources! It got me to thinking about how leading a greener lifestyle can also be good on the pocket, so I thought I would compile a list of day-to-day things I do that are green and moneysaving.

1. Walk whenever possible! I never use the car for a journey that can be walked. And when I do drive, I use the cruise control and try to drive as economically as possible. Again, if you tailgate, slam on the brakes, tailgate, slam on the brakes - you have too much money to spend on fuel!! I also reverse into parking spaces (because the engine is already hot and it's easier than backing out when your engine is cold - apparently.) I learned that with the whose membership also saves me money on car insurance.

2. When we're at home, the McBaby uses reusable nappies. He has just grown a size, so look out for my ad in the NWN for his last set!

3. Freecycle or eBay for baby clothes. The McBaby seems to be growing before my eyes. I bought him a sunflower the other day so that he can compete with it to see who gets to 6ft first! There's just no point spending lots of money on new clothes he'll wear once!

4. I cook more than we need and freeze anything we don't eat for another day. I also ensure several things are cooking at once. We had someone over for lunch today, so while I cooked some salmon, I also made a cake (made out of semolina instead of flour as I mistakenly bought about 70 bags of semolina as I thought it was pasta!). We never, ever, ever throw away food in this house. Never.

5. I reuse paper, junk mail - even envelopes.

6. We grow our own veg. Let me rephrase that: We TRY to grow our own veg!

7. I never use plastic bags. It amazes me when people use bags and throw them away. What a waste of resources, including, crucially, oil. These are usually the same people who complain about the price of petrol! I take my own reusable bags and ask for "green" points at the checkout. Likewise, if we have the misfortune of going to that supermarket with blue and white stripes, I recycle our cans there for the "green" points.

8. We don't shop hungry. Or we use Approved Foods which is an amazing online resource.

9. I make packed lunches for MrM. Apparently this creates a saving of £960 on average per year.

10. I use FB to contact family and friends overseas.

11. I always round down my bank account. So if there's £48.98 in there, I'll put £8.98 into savings. Weird, but it works. And you csn tell at a glance if money is going in and out.

12. I am too stingy to include a 12th.

What are your moneysaving tips?

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Baby-led weaning

Just come back from a visit to the health visitor who weighed the McBaby (he's just under 20lbs) and gave me some advice about baby-led weaning as I'd mentioned that I'd been giving him some real food and that he'd been scaring me by gagging on it.

She said to keep trying. But what she didn't mention was that her colleague was just about to give a talk weaning. It just so happened that we went to the Wednesday playgroup and someone happened to ask if we were staying for the talk, so we hung around, uninvited.

The talk was very useful, comprising a DVD and then the health visitor (who was the spitting image of my lovely friend Badger) answered questions. It seems very strange to me that you would give a baby (with no teeth) a parsnip and then leave them to get on with it, but it seems to work and it gives them the scope to explore texture and flavour. Just no nuts, honey or shellfish in the first year.

One of the mums and I then retired to the park with a sandwich in a seemingly peaceful spot. There was a reason that the crowded park was empty in this one place. A group of chavs to our left decided to spur one of their number to run around the park with his dog screaming "F***ing friend". (I believe it's from the Inbetweeners ).

He ran within inches of the McBaby and I several times, prompting someone to shout "Keep your dog away from babies!" across the park. To which he barked "friend" at them repeatedly. The sunshine seems to do weird things to us Brits.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Last week

This past week the McBaby and I have mainly been:

-Checking out new playgroups

-Continuing the clear out! Another boot sale should do it!

-incredibly interactive with other babies. I swear that they can understand each other. When the McBaby literally reached out to another baby and the two of them held hands and cooed at each other, I may (may!) have cried a bit.

-rubbing cream all over the baby so that people have been commenting that his head looks much better.

-been kicking myself for not making the most of two opportunities that came my way. Kick, kick, kick.

-sitting in the garden enjoying the good weather and occasionally jumping up to weed or paint something before giving halfway and sitting down again. The lawn is much taller than the McBaby.

-disappointed in a couple of friends. I don't make friends easily, so when I trust people enough for them to be my friend, I am loyal and reliable. A couple of people haven't responded in kind, so I have pulled off the ultimate punishment - facebook defriendment! It feels good to declutter on there - highly recommended!

-doing freelance work! So refreshing to be talking to adults again!

-deleting our selling accounts on eBay and amazon. The postage is against us and dealing with idiots is just too time-consuming and sould destroying. Which leads me nicely onto my last point

-weeping whenever I speak to West Berkshire Council's parking department. I used to think their job was to ensure parking was administered fairly in the district. I know realise their job is too make it is difficult as possible to park outside your house if you are a law abiding taxpayer and have a pushchair and a heavy baby to lug in.

-eating too much cake. People say you put on weight when you have a baby. This is nothing to do with childbirth; it's because you eat so much cake at playgroups and coffee mornings. Burp!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Pineapple cake

Over the past week or so, the McBaby has sobbed his heart out every time I've had the audacity to put him down.

"You're answering the door? WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH"

"You're driving somewhere? WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH"

"You're making a cup of tea? WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH"

So the item above is a pineapple cake that I made WITH ONE HAND.

The recipe is here:

Any other one-handed recipes welcome!!