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Sunday, 22 May 2011

The Magic Eye or The Magic Age?

I have needed to go for an eyetest for a long time. It is one of those things that in the mix of juggling parenting and other stuff gets missed off my schedule.

However, family members were picking up that I cannot now read without recipe books and so on pinned to my face so I capitulated and made an appointement. Or tried to.

Despite the fact that the optician's was empty apart from staff, they could not see me on the first day I turned up. What they did do was take all my details to the far end of the proverbial fart. How tedious and why exactly do they need to take your fingerprints and do a DNA swab just so you can have your eyes tested?

The receptionist asked me what was wrong with my eyes to which I tried not to say that perhaps if they let me see an optiican we might actually find out.

I stumbled out ranting to myself (I am rapidly becoming the Grumpy Old Woman) and nearly got knocked down by a white van. I told you I needed my eyes testing!

The next day, I turned up for my eye test. The optician was very nice and put me at my ease. Not bad for a bloke as I hate that bit where they come at you with that torch thing. Far too close for my personal space comfort. The diagnosis was that yes I needed new glasses. This was a)because my short-sightedness had got worse and b)because my current pair are scratched and neglected so that they are more Jack Duckworth than Christian Dior.

On the difficulties with reading, the optician said I had reached the "Magic Age". He said this term over and over I think trying to get across to me that I am now very aged and it is all downhill from here.

Then he asked if I would like the OCT which is where they take photographs of your eye which make your eye look like a map or summat. He gave me some information about all the scary conditions that the OCT could highlight early. Alzheimers was there but spelt wrong which I pointed out to him. Apparently, nobody had seen this before - they must need their eyes testing!

Anyway, the pictures were fascinating. How we put ourselves down all too often when even something as small as the eye is so superb. The only cause for concern in my eye is a thin optic nerve. As someone who is way too overweight, I will settle for having one part of my body that is slim!

Next, I was transferred to the woman who would help me choose my new frames and lenses. I went straight for a purple pair and liked them lots. Purple is one of those colours that I always love. Of course, it is against the laws of female nature to go for the first pair without trying on some more lovelies. I tried a couple more pairs but obviously could barely see without pinning my face to the mirror. Then I saw some leopardskin ones and thought I should try them. If I have reached the "magic age", maybe I should go all wild at last. I put them on and they looked terrible.

"Oooo, no! Mutton dressed as lamb. Far too Bet Lynch" I said.

So I settled on the first purple pair and went to the counter to say that no I did not want the latest lenses at three times the price of the basics. As my mind wandered whilst the woman keyed in my details onto her computer, I took a look at her face. There sat a pair of the Bet Lynch glasses. Why do these things always happen to me?

Glasses have apparently now arrived in the shop so once I sort my provisional licence out, driving lessons will be unavoidable.

Wish me luck!

When did you realise you had hit the "Magic Age" and how did you cope with the revelation?

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Launch of new website for mums

I started this blog when my mum advised me to keep a diary. The rest as they say is history which regular followers and visitors will know about all too well.

I wish I had known about blogging several years ago when I had two children under 2 plus a 5 year old and was really struggling. Not really coping with the demands of parenting, wondering where "the real me" had disappeared to and just finding most days way too much for me to handle. Post-natal depression was part of this but also a lack of enough support networks. I had a partner who commuted long distances and was tired when he got in from work. I had troubles with wider family members and no friends in a strange city.

So now I have learned that blogging can change the world, I have established a new website with the aim of celebrating mums. Not just on Mother's Day but all year round. We do a great job and if the world doesn't put us down, you can bet other mums or ourselves can do it all too well. That whole thing needs tackling so that mums know they are vital and can tap into useful networks and information.

Yes, there are already fabulous things out there such as Netmums but I asked to contribute to that site and they did not want me. So I am going to have a go at doing my own thing. I hope readers of this blog will visit the new one at and give me their thoughts and feelings via comments or via email to

If you are a blogger whether new or old, I would really love to welcome guest posts about the reality of motherhood, the good stuff and the bad. Me being me would particularly like to help the newbies or those who don't have many or any followers. Perhaps you would like me to mention any blog hops you organise or to mention your competitions. Just let me know.

If you are a mum with a product or service you would like to promote, please get in touch too.

If you are a mum with a story to tell, a campaign to shout about or a good cause that matters to you, I will do my utmost to get your message across via the new website.

This is my little way of trying to make the world of mums a slightly better place and I know there are some lovely people out there who can tell me how to do it best.

Go on and make my day by visiting and then let me know what you think and/or how we can work together for a better time for mums.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Little Magpies - Magpie Monday

I started bargain hunting after visiting charity shops, antique fairs and jumble sales with my late Mum.

I remember my first car boot sale when I was a teenager and the concept was still a new one in the United Kingdom. It was in Lewes at the Sainsbury's car park and I could not believe the diversity of items and the affordability.

I have a confession to make. I think I may have created 3 little magpies of my own.

On Saturday with far too many twenty pround notes to play with, we visited my favourite charity shop. We were seriously undercharged and, despite us saying so more than once, the woman refused to charge us more. So we ended up with 17 toy cars, nine cross stitch kits and all manner of other stuff for just £12.

Encouraged by the finds regularly celebrated on the Magpie Monday blog hop, we spent Sunday morning at a village hall car boot sale. There were probably only around 15 stalls but whilst lacking in quantity, the quality of items for sale was superb.

Firstly, here are the things I did not buy and regretted not doing so later. A barbecue for £6, some pink canisters for tea/coffee/sugar, two really unusual and possibly home-made soft toys and lots of Disney type videos.

I did buy a pair of good quality walking boots for £2 and an oven glove for 50 pence. You can never have enough oven gloves and if I have the boots, I may actually do the walking.

Him Indoors seemed delighted with a £1 gadget for crushing cans. Whatever turns you on!

However, the children did best by far and here is just some of their booty. My daughter is horses mad so loved the load of horse-related plastic riders, fences and paraphenalia in a box for just 50 pence. My sons like Action Men (don't we all?!) and persuaded me to buy lots for £13 in total. They can always spot me when I am in "yes, ok then" mood. We also got lots of books of activities for children and nice story books too.

Here is one of the conversations.

"Mummy, can I have one of the Action Men toys?"

"You have not got the important information. How much are they?"

"How much are they please?"

"£3 for the large items and £1 for the dolls"

"Right, your budget is 50 pence and you are good at mathematics so work out what you can afford to buy".

"OK, I think that makes £10 in total and that means I am £9.50 in debt"

"Who said I am giving credit?" (said whilst handing over a ten pound note.

"Now, you do realise that because I am a very kind Mummy today, I want you to be a good boy all day long"

"Oh Mum, you always add terms and conditions after the event" (said whilst bagging up his swag).

I have taught my little ones this bargain hunting lark far too well methinks.

So what does a grown-up Magpie do in such circumstances. Why, buy a bag to put it all in of course for £2.

Now, go forth and check out my other lovely Magpies and their finds.

Me and My Shadow

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The Gallery - Chilled Out

I have to admit to not being very keen on this week's theme of "Chilled Out" for the Gallery. It is not a term I use and if I did, it is not somthing that I often am with the pressures of real life and also the ones I imagine in my head. Maybe that is why I am struggling.

Having said that, sometimes strong emotions wipe me out and this week has being one of those weeks with far too much in the way of sad things going on. So this morning I fell asleep whilst watching telly. Shame nobody was here to capture on camera this rare moment of me being chilled out.

How do I chill out when I do? Probably with a duvet on the sofa or something like that. Fortunately, there is one member of the family who has made chilling out an art from and here he is.

Had so struggled to find a suitable image for the Gallery today and then walked into this snoozing spiderman. Perfect!

Now go and check out some other pictures showing all manner of chill out moments.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Magpie Monday bargains on a Tuesday

Here are some bargains I would like to share with you and I am linking up to Magpie Monday as usual but this time a little bit late.

Here is the Union Jack bag that Him Indoors collected for me this week. I arranged to buy it while hyped up by the Royal Wedding feel-good factor. I still quite like it to be honest for its bright colours, statement and even its slight tackiness. I thought it was £3 and after Him Indoors collected it, the seller contacted me to say it was £4.50. We have agreed that as I am likely to buy more from her in due course as she is downsizing, I can drop off the extra money when I do. I am still convinced it was advertised for £3 but am not going to argue anyway.

I rarely but dvds but have decided to buy ones of my fave comedians when I see them to brighten the dark days. I think Peter Kay is just about the funniest man on the planet so here is a purchase from the charity shop this week. £2 for a good laugh is a bargain for sure.

Here are two items that cheer me considerably every time they catch my eye. I got both for £3.50.

Here is a little something that I like for its cleverness.

As you can see, it opens out and there are various wine-related tools inside including a corkscrew (missing somewhere which tells you a lot about this house!, a wine stopper (unused which also tells you heaps about me and mine!)and so on.

Here is a dramatic print that I picked up last week for just £2. My boys and my husband like to focus on interesting weather and this is just great methinks.

Here is an interesting little fella picked up for just a pound.

Here are some of the cuddly dog toys I picked up, one for each child and different breeds too.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Friday, 6 May 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful - last week's with more to follow!

I missed last week's Reasons to be Cheerful because I was too busy enjoying them!

So I am going to do two posts today, one for last week and one for this. Why? Well, because I am worth it lol and also because I think it is good to have a record of all the positive stuff going on in our lives to help us on those darker days.

1. Our first five puppies went off to their forever homes and the feedback is that they are all settling in well. We miss them but have so many memories to treasure. It is lovely to think what joy those little bundles will bring to their new families for years to come.

2. We had a lovely Easter weekend with all the usual chocolate eggs, egg cups and mugs plus extra treats of the toy variety.

3.. We celebrated the Bank Holiday Monday by taking my Dad out with us for lunch at a lovely country pub. Three generations with ages ranging from 5 years to 83 years building special memories. Thought of my late Mum but also thought she would appreciate that we were having a happy day. We ate loads and I had a lovely liqueur coffee rather than a pudding. We went out to the play area after lunch where my children delighted in the equipment.

4. My little boy finally got his pre-school injections done plus an eye test in the same day. His vision is perfect which is a huge relief as he is very boisterous so could not cope with glasses I am sure. He thought he was very special being the only child to go to the nurse and to get badges and jelly babies for being so brave.

5. My step-daughter announced her much longed for pregnancy.

6. My husband had lots of extra family time and we really relished that time together going out and about, having meals and taking country walks.

7. My step-daughter's son came to stay for a few days. This is good as it helps us to form a stronger bond with him and it is great to see the my children and hers playing so happily together.

8. The Royal Wedding was good to watch and to see what looks like very genuine affection and friendship between William and Kate. Brought back memories of my own wedding and I wish them well. It felt like a sense of healing and closure on the whole Diana and Charles debacle. The marriage may have had very many flaws but it does seem to have resulted in two special young men moving the Royals onto a better plane. Nice to see even for a Republican like me! I watched the event with Him Indoors and my Dad and we laughed and commented all the way through it.

9. In the afternoon, we went to a nearby village hall for a street party type event where everything was free and they just asked for donations which we were more than happy to make. There were nice tablecloths and decorations and bunting and, oh, it made you proud to be British which is most unusual for me (especially as I am 100 per cent Irish). There was a raffle, a tombola, a name the princess competition, jelly, trifle, the works. The children particularly enjoyed the bouncy castle and yet another play park.

10. In the evening, the adults had a very special meal in Dad's annexe with good meat and vegetables and the best of wines too.

This week was all about family fun, sunshine and positive vibes. A week to remember for a long time.

Check out other blogger reasons to be cheerful.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The Gallery - April

The theme for the Gallery this week is April.

Should I post my picture of Union Jack bunting at the street-party we attended on Royal Wedding Day? Perhaps the Easter cards and gifts from my children? Or the cross that my daughter made out of her palm - I used to love doing that outside church for everyone on Palm Sunday. April was dominated by people coming to see out labrador puppies, visiting them again and then coming to take them to their forever homes. I have some very cute puppy pictures.

I settled on this picture. In April, all the talk was about a very special princess and here is mine.

My daughter was born on Good Friday seven years ago. She was due on April Fool's Day but hung around until she got her first sniff of an Easter Egg and popped out on 9th April. She can never understand why her birthday is not always on Good Friday. Meanwhile, her older brother always tells her she was solely responsible for Jesus' death on the cross. She takes no notice of him and remains very motivated by chocolate and all things foodie.

She is not pretty in a standard type way. She has wild and wavy hair like me and lovely eyes like jewels in a colour I have never seen before. She is very slender too.

She gets very excited and flaps her arms like a bird. She giggles a lot and can also throw an impressive temper tantrum.

She is still very much a little girl and loves all things pink, ponies and butterflies. She is very talented in arts and crafts and very prolific in that department too. If she has a spare moment, she uses it to draw or to make something. She also loves baking with Mummy,

She is very loving and cuddles up all the time. She writes things that we find from time to time. This might be a lovely prayer like the one in last week's Gallery post below or a statement that "All boys are shit except Grandad!"

She is good at everything she attempts but is not a show-off at all. Her teachers describe her as "delightful" and she helps them a lot by always obeying the rules. Of course, she sometimes lets me in on the secret that she has found a cunning way round the rules.

I like this picture taken at her birthday party because she looks so genuinely happy. Long may that continue and in this picture, I think you get a real sense of what she will look like in another ten years' time.

I love her very much.

So for me, April is all about my little girl and all the joy she brings me every single day.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Gallery - Green

As usual I have reflected quite a bit before posting my contribution to the Gallery this week.

The theme set was green.

A wicked part of me thought about posting a picture of Kate Middleton who might be seen to be green entering such a powerful institution as the Royal Family with all that entails. Not nice to be honest and there was such obvious affection at the Royal Wedding that even I could not bring myself to be cynical.

Then, I thought about my emerald necklace and how, though lovely, it is so loaded with a lot of emotions and not all of them good.

But finally, I settled on this idea.

My little girl had her birthday party and received a notebook as part of one of her presents from her schoolfriend.

She wrote this poem or prayer which I came across when tidying up. So whilst green originally brought forth cynicism and negativity, now I can see the positive via my lovely little girl. What lovely words, what a wonderful sentiment and how great that we live in the country where she sees plants growing in abundance.

She thanks God for the sun and rain that helps plants to grow. She asks God to protect them and her Mummy and Daddy.

I love how she writes such things without fuss, without showing off or even showing half the time and how she is all mine (and her Daddy's!)

Monday, 2 May 2011

Magpie Monday - in celebration of bargain-hunting

I think this week's celebration of second-hand finds for Magpie Monday is more about quality than quantity.

Two Bank Holiday Mondays in a row is virtually torture for the avid bargain-hunter. There was a car boot sale but it clashed with my daughter's birthday party day. How unfair is that! They were offering free pitches too so I could have off-loaded some of my no longer wanted stuff too. I did send a bag of girl's clothing to the charity shop this week, gave a bag of boy's clothing to a friend and a brand new scooter to another friend.

Anyway, I did manage a quick visit to the charity shop in town during the week securing two vest tops, a lovely stylish skirt in a sort of blue geometric design and these sweet jam and marmalade pots.

I had noticed the marmalade one the week before and toyed with buying it but instinctively felt there was something missing so imagine my delight in picking up both for £2 this week. I don't think they are old or anything but I do think they are sweet. I imagine my lovely family sitting around having a lovely breakfast with pots of jam and marmalade rather than jars. All very civilized at last!

My son spied these Scooby Doo slippers for £1 and added them to my bundle of goodies. Here is a picture although bear in mind the hairs are from our puppies. This is not a smoke and pet-free home.

I also bought a very dramatic looking framed print for £2.50 and will post a picture of it when I find the right place for it to go. I have put it up but am not happy with where it is currently.

You will have to wait for the clothes pictures as we had a family visit or two in the last few days so the new clothes are somewhere in the chaos that is my bedroom - the only place that I did not blitz to within an inch of its life. Of course, there had to be a dumping ground for all the extraneous stuff in other rooms and my bedroom suffered as a result. I would tidy it but I am too busy doing Magpie Monday right now lol.

A bargain-hunting girl can always rise to a challenge when the charity shops are shut and Netmums is as good a place as any to go in search of other people's trash.

I bought this brand new with labels Antler overnight bag for £5. Him Indoors wanted to know why I wanted it and I said that if I had the bag, it would tempt me into adventures away from home overnight. I adore this bag, I love that it is Antler and I already have an invitation for a weekend away with my brother.

I have been looking for somewhere to store extra bedding for ages but wanted it to be stylish too. I saw this lovely pine monk's bench and negotiated the price down to £28 which I was more than happy with as this bench will seriously change my life for the better.

As I post, my husband is hurtling down the M62 to collect a used once 6 berth tent for £25 again via Netmums. We are hoping to pick up a second-hand computer too so that my children don't keep kicking off my laptop.

In Royal Wedding Week, I have also purchased but not yet collected a handbag with a union jack on it. Well, wny not? You have to get into the spirit of things especially if it gives an excuse for bargain-hunting.

Do check out other people's wonderful finds.

Me and My Shadow

Sunday, 1 May 2011