Monday, 29 September 2014

Baa Baa Black Sheep

Have you any brains?  I have been meaning to write about the rather boring task of finding a secondary school for my eldest.  It hasn't been very hard if truth be told - I only wish I hadn't wasted time on looking at others when we always knew it would be the school that is less than a 5 minute walk away.

As discussed in my previous post, this school used to be rubbish but it isn't now. This is evident by its exam results. This is evident with the millions that was pumped into building a brand new building - not add on's and huts - 21st century facilities with £1 million alone on an ICT unit. It also has a recording studio, apple computers and when the old building is torn down a state of the art athletics track is being built. The teachers we spoke to (some only been there a year) were buzzing with excitement - in fact the music teacher could hardly contain himself and who can blame him? The exam results are on a par if not better than others in the local area as is the ofsted report. The head himself (quite rightly) proclaims "why wouldn't you send your child here?" Why indeed? Enter the sheep.

The sheep are followers. They never look at the bigger picture they have to go with what the herd are doing and generally plump for something that has up and came rather than is up and coming.  Never plucking for the underdog. 

We now have a state of the art 21st century secondary school in our local area. No huts - I am so over huts and walking into different buildings to learn in a crumie old environment which is dressed up as having character or a feel to it. Bollocks to that! Its old, run down and is generally a bastard to get to. We have a school people! We have a school for our local children! They can walk but the sheep turn their noses. 

A bit like politics you can never really change the mindset of those that switch off to any common sense and reason.  The arguments are "I see what comes out of there" - not sure what that means but I can only come to the sad conclusion (given that I've been telling people until I'm blue in the face that behavior from the students is good)  that this must have to do with ethnic origin. What else could it be? If they're told behavior is good, the results are good, the facilities are outstanding and your child can walk?  Whereas the 'quaint' schools with huts, a bus ride (in the dark in the winter) with the same results, same ofsted is predominately white.  Doesn't take a genius does it?

This school has done its part - the community should do its part and send their children to the local school instead of busing them out. This is also laughable - many haven't let their child out of their sight but in less than a year they're more than happy to wave them off on a couple of buses in the dark in a densely populated London borough. Quality.

Each to their own and ultimately people have the freedom of choice and I'm actually hoping (much like my kids primary) that no one does bother as it means it keeps the class sizes small and we can all sit smugly in the knowledge that we are one lucky bunch of parents. 

The results were in from the grammar and my son didn't make the grade - 4380 children sat the 1st range of exams which (even though my son didn't realise there were 2 more questions on the back and had 10 mins to spare) consisted of 45 mins of maths and 45 of english only 1800 were called back for round two. My son was a tad disappointed (you don't get to find out where in the 4380 your child came or what percentage they got or what the percentage rate is) as he wanted the day off school for the next round! I was disappointed for him but we always knew he wasn't going there and that he took the tests as a bit of an experiment - I mean we got a test type paper off amazon and that was the extent of our preparation!  Also they day after we visited the state of the art school he wrote in his diary that he was desperate to go there and would be sad if he didn't.  Ultimately they've got to go there so it should be their choice and believe me we've seen some right naff buildings including the grammar school! 

Anyhow, back to the diet and what not. I did my first boot camp the other week and quite frankly I could hardly move my legs until 5 days later!! I was very sceptical about going again but I did return last Friday and enjoyed it so much.  I walked today and feel I'm getting back into the swing of things. I haven't weighed myself though I just can't face it at the mo. I might do next week.  

I'm also reading a very interesting book about how our mind works - more of which later on in the week.  

I'm feeling good - happy and healthy and in good rant form! 

Until next time..

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Eat Less. Move More

I have to apologise to The Ordinary Lovely that is Rachel for the delay in this guest post.  Its taken me so long to put it up on my blog that she's probably 2 stone lighter by now. Still, at least you won't have to wait too long for the next installment. Seeing as my sister has gone AWOL and the carb diet has been ditched - Rachel has taken on the baton for weight loss.  So without further ado, over to you Rachel......

So I’ve finally had to bite the bullet rather than the cake and accept that I’m, well, a little on the porky side. Not fat. Not massively overweight. Just chubby. But chubby enough that my clothes are starting to feel the strain. The waistband of my jeans is starting to leave not-so-pretty patterns in my ample tummy for far to long after I take them off and shirts with buttons have been relegated to the back of the wardrobe as no safety pin strong enough exists to keep them from pinging open and flashing my seen-better-days nursing bras.

I should’ve reached this point of realisation a little sooner but we moved back to the UK from Switzerland at the end of last year (we lived there for seven years) and I reignited an affair with my long, lost lover … Mr Cadbury. But now, after nine months of gorging myself on his delights, it’s time for me to admit that this relationship has no longevity and I must muster all the strength that I have and get out now.

Be gone with you Cadbury’s Cream Eggs. Get out of my sight velvety Wispa bars. And never darken my door again oh so yummy Caramels.

Ten years ago, before I got married, I weighed a svelte 8 stone 10 pounds. Five years ago, post-marriage/pre-children, I weighed a healthy 9 stone 10 pounds. Now I step on the scales and cringe when I see 10 stone 10 pounds. It might now sound like a particularly huge amount but when you do all that BMI trickery, it does mean that I end up in the overweight category. So not very healthy, really. Not very healthy at all.

So what to do?

Much like Tash, I pretty much believe in the old school rule of if you want to lose weight, you need to eat less and move more. My general diet is not all that bad. The meals I eat are perfect and don’t really need adjusting … maybe slightly smaller portions would help. It’s the snacks that get me. Like I mentioned, I can’t walk past a chocolate aisle in the supermarket without filling my basket but that needs to stop. Crisps are my other downfall. I love them a bit too much.

I’ve also done next to no exercise over the past ten years. I can find all sorts of reasons why but you don’t want to hear my pathetic excuses. Just know that I’m starting to change this. I once loved to run. After three recent attempts, it turns out that I’m now quite rubbish at it but, on the positive side, it turns out that I still love it. Winner!

I have my sights set on getting back down to 9 stone something by Christmas. I’d like to be able to eat Christmas dinner without undoing my jeans. I’d like to be able to eat Christmas pudding without yet another button popping on my top.

Here’s the current scores on the doors:

Weight: 10 stone 10 pounds
Waist: 38 inches
Chest: 42 inches
Bottom: 40 inches
Thigh: 21 inches

And some ‘before’ pics.

I don’t have a full length mirror, sorry, but you can see quite clearly that I carry my weight round my tummy. It never really went back to normal after having me two boys … not helped by me stuffing my face through the breastfeeding months.

With a bit of luck, Tash will let me hijack her blog again in a couple of months time so I can give you a bit of an update.

Wish me luck!

Good luck we can't wait to hear your update. I will be back shortly to give you an update on my boot camp workout and other tittle tattle! See you soon! 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

High Fidelity High!

Remember that? Good old Fame! That was one of the songs off the album - yep I had the album. The old one mind - you know the 1980's one. High as in High - I've been gone so long AWOL some might say. I've been dying to write but just haven't had the time. I had time in the evening when 2 were at school but now 3 are its proving to be a tad difficult. It will settle down I'm sure.  The other High relates to High School, or as I would prefer to say, Secondary School. Its my turn to look at High schools for my eldest along with phonics meetings with my youngest!

Prepare for all the "what school you looking at?" all over again. Just when you thought you won't have to do all that ever again enter High School which I actually think is worse than picking a primary school.

And I don't really know why everyone gets so serious about it. Well I do - everyone wants a good education, good GCSE results, good prospects, no bullying and everything to be hunky dory with the world and their child. But sometimes I think its more about the parents aspirations really because if you really think about it is your child really going to be a superstar if they get all A*'s - are they going to be happy? Or are they going to be a complete arse with no apathy or social conscience whatsoever as all they've been taught is to achieve, achieve and achieve. God dam it!

If the child gets A*'s and are a 'superstar' it, in theory, means they get lots of money and they can buy lots of things and that's meant to equate to happiness or certainly the parents happiness as they can say the child got A*'s and is going to X university and will become the head of Apple or whatever.

However, I know children who have done very well in exams and are still looking for a job and studying and getting these grades wasn't all that it was cracked up to be. Every child has to be academic when clearly we can't all be. We still need our young people to be builders, plumbers and electricians. We still need proper skills not just pen pushers.

I think a lot of people in high pressure jobs (earning lots of money means lots of hours, lots of work) might not be happy. Yes they might have a big house, a flash car and go on holiday (a few a year as they have to work to pay for all these things for the rest of the year) but I suspect that there are times when they just want to get off the treadmill of working to pay for things don't you?  What if they had dreams of becoming an author, a painter or a dancer? It might (okay does) sound naive but I'm sure there is more to life than just working to acquire stuff.

Also, sometimes I really don't see the point of visiting these secondary schools. What?! Are you insane? No, I suppose I'm being flippant and of course you want to see where your child will be everyday but you don't get to see the teaching, the pupils etc in these open evenings. You get a year 8 pupil showing you around (for about an hour - exhausting trotting up and downstairs after them trying to make conversation) all the different rooms and what not. Your child can do some literacy/maths activities in a room if they want. Who wants to do that they just had a full day at school? You'll hear a head teacher talk (we now skip those) about "striving for excellence" - not heard one yet that isn't striving for that.  So they're all working the PR, spinning the the results to make you pick their school. So how do you pick?

Well for me its about the journey. We have a secondary which is a 2 minute walk away, brand new building and the results are good not fantastic but good. It means my child would be home quickly can do their homework and then chill out. Or I could send him on 2 buses into down town South London to get to the all boys grammar school. Think London riots, knife, gun crime and general danger, danger that an 11 year old could be exposed to.  It would take at least 45 minutes to travel about 7 miles in the traffic and have my nerves on edge for the best part of the afternoon.  For what? Will he really get a better education and better for what? To be on that treadmill.  Is that happiness? I want for him to be happy like really happy with his lot. I want him to travel and experience things when the world is his oyster in his late teens early twenties before he settles down and works for the rest of his life. But work in a job he loves. He might go totally off the rails and that will be a different blog post entirely but the thoughts there!

He has sat the grammar exam which in the dead of night I imagining him dicing with death to get there. I know in reality he'll be fine and will probably do him good to have some street cred.

That was an experience in itself I can tell you!  Gridlock, police, army cadets and parents saying "remember what you were taught" "concentrate, don't get distracted" "are you nervous?". I'm thinking what with all the pressure you've been piling on me for the past 3 years - nervous?!

My son had a practice on a multiple choice for maths and english paper I got off Amazon. I didnt' want him going in blind so to speak. He's had no tutoring and if he passes then I'll be proud but I'm doubtful I will send him across town to the better school.  I know to some parents this is insane but you have to think about the bigger picture. He might not pass - very probable but then I'll know if he is very clever or just brighter than average.

In other news, the diet has not been happening. I attached my fitbit for about 3 days (did lots of steps) then couldn't be bothered. Likewise for my fitness pal. I did a big walk and got the most insane blisters. However, whilst in the Reception class one of the dad's is a personal trainer and handed me a leaflet (!) for a boot camp type workout in a local park for £3.50. I feel as unfit as I've ever felt but I'm going tomorrow! Wish me luck as I think I may collapse and I really hate group stuff. I just think I'm too old for this shit. You never know I might love it!

As promised here is a bikini pic in a more flattering lying down pose - not much difference to last year but I like the bikini!
A dim and distant memory

And here is the less than flattering Billy Bunter/Weeble pose...

And a few more holiday snaps...


Attempting a selfie as I am 15 years old

The best terror picture in the world ever!

Giving it large! 

Next blog post will be from Rachel and the start of her fitness regime.

Be back soon.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

What Do You Do ALL Day?

This is going to be the title of my brand new blog. Naturally, I will keep this one but the new one will hopefully save me the time and bother to having to explain what I do all day now that my youngest child has started school full-time. And yes, I mean full-time there was no staggering - on the 3rd September he went in at 8.55 and was released with good behavior at 3.10pm.

Now, before I list a few examples, which will be on the blog and who knows it could be an internet sensation (if I could afford a cameraman to follow my movements I would put that on youtube) I will tell you what I've done all day for the past 10 years.  I haven't watched daytime telly, I have had countless sleepless nights (sometimes 3 hours and not in one go), I have clocked watched to do school drop offs, pre-school drop offs, not had a piss without interruptions, oh the interruptions!! I have walked 10,000 steps before lunch time, I have tried to cram in an hour of exercise and failing many times, had 4 sick days I repeat only 4 days off sick in 10 years, cooked, cleaned, weekly shop, homework, baths, reading, parents evening, inset days, doctors, dentists and the list goes on. So if  I wanted to sit and watch daytime telly or find an hour of exercise in my allocated 6 hours that they are at school then I bloody well will.

Only thing is I don't have the time!! I desperately want to live up to the perception that SAHM's have too much time on their hands but I can't. Even now. Whilst people think you have All day they don't really include the fact you've got up at 7 am and don't knock off till 8pm everyday - longer in the school holidays. So up yours!!  Full-time working ones just have to do all the things that I get done in the day in the evening or at the weekends. I have 6 hours in the day they have to find the time outside their day job. 

Here's an example of a typical day:-

6.45 am - 9.00 am - get up, dressed, 3 x kids organise, put washing in, breakfasts, lunch boxes (already prepared in the evening but still need packing), washing up, drying up, myself dressed, guinea pig routine, book bags reading records, walk to school drop off back home.

9.15 - (yes had 15 mins to check emails how very decadent of me) - 11.00 am weekly shop, unpack, banking (3 banks), post office drop off parcel.

11-1.30 pm unpack shopping, put out re-cycling, clean toilet shower downstairs, wash floors, hang washing out, ironing, lunch (20 mins - how long is your lunch break?).

1.30 - 2.30pm  cycled to friends house (look time to myself what a wanker I am!) for a coffee and chat.

2.30 - 3.00pm - final tidy up and emails and time to do the school run. Did you see any daytime telly and sitting around. No you didn't.Granted I had a bit of social interaction with another human being for less than an hour. String me up.

3. - 3.40pm - school run complete - my youngest finishes at 3.10 and the others 3.25 pm.

3.40 - 4pm - clean out lunch boxes, book bags.

4pm - 4.15pm - I have to be honest I don't really know where these lost 15 minutes go to - but hardly significant enough for some serious faffing.

4.15 - 5pm  start dinner preparations might fit in a bit of chit chat with the kids.

5pm - 5.45pm - dinner ready and consumed and washed up and dried up.

5.45- 6.00pm - brownie run - pick up daugher's friend and take them to brownies.

6.00 - 6.45pm  talk to husband a bit of  TV and the news, coffees and a bit of paper reading, washing in and prepare 4 x sandwiches/lunch boxes.

6.45pm -7.45pm - bathtimes, hairwash, daughter arrives back, bedtime stories, homework. 

7.45pm - 8pm - final tidy ready to sit down.

That is a typical Tuesday and that, my friends is what I did ALL  day!

So, what do you think worthy of a new blog?  I think so.  I will make time for an hour's exercise. One of the dad's is a personal trainer and I am going to attend his boot camp session on a Friday morning because I'm worth it!

Be back very shortly with Saturday Chit Chat and a very exciting new guest blog regular feature.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Back to School. Back to Cycling.

Not really a natural fit is it? When would you consider the two in the same sentence? Where is your child's bike now? Do they have one? When is it used? Fleetingly in the summer or is it gathering cobwebs and turning into a rust bucket in the shed?

I like to cycle. I'm not a hard core cyclist in that I don't have a camera on top my helmet, I don't have a stash of lycra or a fancy pants £1,000 bike. I just like to keep fit and have found cycling most enjoyable and its free!

As a family we have watched The Tour de France from about 2005 (a bit late for those in the know) and absolute love it! My eldest son (age 10), in particular, knows his cyclists like a keen football fan knows the players.  As an added bonus he also loves to cycle. Only thing is we live in South London home to London Buses, plenty of traffic and all the other dangers related to letting your child out of sight for 5 minutes. We don't live in a nice cul-de-sac. We live on a main road.

The only time my son can go for a proper bike ride (daughter and youngest son also - is if I go along too).  I suspect I am not alone in this scenario.  So it got me thinking where could my children cycle and I mean properly cycle not proficiency (which lets face it who is going to let their child ride in the cycle lanes in London) in safety without me?

I googled cycling clubs in our area and there were NONE for children. Adults yes. Children no. So, if there were no clubs for children I thought the next best thing was to bring a club to the children. I decided to go about setting up an after school cycling club at my children's school. Problem solved!

If you also feel that children can't roam free and enjoy the ultimate freedom that cycling brings then why don't you set up an after school cycling club also? Its very easy.

Our bikes propped up by the beach on holiday this year. Sadly, many of us don't have this environment to cycle in
Firstly, I spoke with the Head Teacher who was very supportive of the idea. To be honest, every school should be - this fits in with their healthy lifestyle ethos, promotes well being and encourages the family to cycle to school and leave the car. Quite frankly I cannot see why any school would not want a cycling club!

Once I got the go ahead to make further investigations. I simply went onto the British Cycling Website. On this site you will find a link under the 'Go Ride' drop down menu to Go Ride for schools it will then give you details of courses and email addresses for your local British Cycling Co-ordinator. I emailed ours and he came back with a wealth of information and courses that the teacher (or parent) could go on together with cycle routes around the school and local cycling tracks to support the children's learning.  This isn't about proficiency this about children cycling for exercise for an hour, learning about the peleton, time trials, descending down hills and much more.  How exciting!

My eldest son with a Halfords bike and SKY top ready for a bike ride. Funny how cycling is now more of an adult persuit when once it was predominately for children. You can change this and set up a cycling club at your school!
The teacher went on the course (paid for by the PTA) and promptly set up an after school cycling club.  The club was immediately oversubscribed. The British Cycling co-ordinator came down on regular occasions (free of charge) to participate in the club and give the teacher guidance.  Children would come to school with their bike and leave it in the bike shed. The children would finish their club red faced and with a renewed enthusiasm for bike riding - so much so that some families starting going out at the weekend and two pupils are now competing in BMX competitions following a visit to the local BMX track.

If you really want to get hard core you could also set up many clubs in the local area, get a local bike shop to sponsor your club(s), get the local press involved and have lots of competitions.

If you feel that some children may not have a bike then I would suggest the PTA look to purchase some bikes -  so that all children from all backgrounds can participate.

So what are you waiting for? Who knows your school could hold the next Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome or Mark Cavendish and wouldn't you just feel great knowing that you had a little part to play in the next generation of fabulous British Cyclists!

I was asked to write this blog post by mini micro scooters to feature on their website. I was not paid for this post - I am just very enthusastic about getting our children cycling 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014


Allo, Allo!  have returned from our annual jolly to France - 2 weeks in Southern Brittany. Thankfully everything went well as prior to our departure lots of things were conspiring against us - the car going mental and having to be put in the garage, my finger being 'broken' okay maybe it wasn't but its still sore now and I can't get my ring over the knuckle, little fella was sick 2 days before we went but thankfully was just a morning thing, discovering the day before that the car could do with an oil top up and other little niggles that I can't quite remember now.

In any event, everything went smoothly - I didn't lose the passports, the car didn't break down and no one had to pay a visit to the hospital. If none of these things happen whilst you're on holiday you've had a good one in my book!  Although its only 2 weeks away you just never know. It wouldn't be a holiday without my annual trip to a French chemist - my fingers keep going scabby with water type blisters I'm definitely allergic to something but what?! So I got some cream for that. The house we stayed in was wonderful and only a short stroll to the many beaches dotted along the coastline. I cycled with my son during the second half of the week to the local boulangier along the coastal route which was just beautiful. The following week I was driving in Tooting, South London - quite a contrast!! Speaking of which Buddy's tongue tie has FINALLY been cut hooray!!

I will post pictures and what not later on in the week.  I ate well (kept 95% off the crisps - reckon I had 2 packets in total) in that I ate a lot of bread, ham, salad, prawns, lardy type cake (instant heart burn but so worth it), bbq meat and oven pizza. I have not put on any weight!! Can't really believe it given that we had real butter on everything. I didn't eat many croissants (2 I think) and had a yogurt and nectarine for my breakfast.

So, I'm back. Back with my fitbit (20,000 steps today just sorting the house out), back with my fitness pal. Rachel from The Ordinary Lovely quite rightly points out that September is like a fresh start probably more so than January and I'm inclined to agree. I've given myself 3 months before I march down to the doctors with print outs of my food intake etc demanding a thyroid test!

I will post bikini pics etc later on in the week. I have a blog post to do about setting up a school cycling club so stay tuned if that floats your boat.

Sorry for the banal chit chat - its been a while!

Until next time...