Friday, 14 December 2012

Christmas (Part 2)


Christmas is a time for dressing up in your BEST dress from I Love Gorgeous.





Getting together with your cousins and family- that's my son at the end of table.


Bonding best with your special  girl cousin

Having Christmas Lunch with the family. Last year we were in the South of France. It was sunny!
  Watching SANTA arriving in St Tropez harbour by boat. Funny he happened to be there, the year we stayed nearby.
And reflecting on the year past and the year ahead in a special place - mine is the The Abbaye de Thoronet, I've been three times - the first time on my honeymoon, the last time last Christmas.




This is my entry for the #O2GuruMagicofXmas Linky, sponsored by O2 GuruTV



Wednesday, 12 December 2012

#PKTMNY Challenge

PKTMNY and BritMums badge

This is sponsored post for  #pktmnyparents Linky on BritMums.

What my daughter wants more than anything, is not imaginative or 

interesting, but she really really wants it - an ipod touch. She's 8! I hate to disappoint her, but she's not getting it for Christmas - as we've already bought her a trick scooter, (like her brother) and a Sylvanian hotel, which I think she will have outgrown by the time Christmas arrives.  She getting some surprise Xmas money from Granny, so that will go towards the ipod. Since setting up a PKTMNY account, she wrote down the ipod as her saving up goal. At £1 a week, it will take a long time! Granny's money will help.



Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Christmas

Christmas, don't you love it? And hate it, all at the same time? I am inspired by all the festive lights, the parties, the carols, the baubles, berry wreaths and the Christmas Tree. But there is the flip side: All that tension to get the right presents for the children, the exact scooter - in the right colour, the stocking presents, the endless calorific mince pies, the money gorging from the bank accounts.  And I don't like Christmas food on the whole -Turkey, mince pies and Christmas pudding I could easily do without.

It seems everyone is wanting to save this year. My husband photographed the Xmas windows of Harrods, Liberty's, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges for Vanity Fair. He said they must have all been in cahoots, because last year, the windows were lavish and theatrical and beautiful and this year, they had all toned down completely, and were just windows advertising products.

My own  #ChristmasSaving Tips include:

Not buying last minute - I have to admit that I started in October.
Shopping around online at Ebay, Amazon, Casabu, The Book People etc.
Agreeing to tone down presents with your partner   - I'll give you a chocolate/sugar mouse if you give me one.
Sharing festive food at the family gathering: This year we will go to Luke's sister and we are bringing Stilton Cheese and Christmas Crackers (Not the cheese crackers)
Knowing when to stop buying presents for the children, it's rather like writing a book - you never quite feel finished. This morning I decided to stop once and for all. 
This year we are lucky, as my husband Luke has a book out, called, The Irish At Home, so we are giving it as a present to all we know and love. 

 I should have given my son his Tesco mobile for Christmas, but we couldn't wait, as he was starting secondary school, so we signed up to a Samsung Chat. One of the reasons I chose it for him, was because the tariff is capped, so he can only use a certain amount of texts, minutes and internet.  I have just looked at his bill for November (bless him) three texts and 1MB of data - (Must be a mistake surely) You also get triple points for every £1 spent on Tesco mobile. This Christmas, they are offering a Samsung Galaxy Ace that I should think my son would like to upgrade to at £12.50 a month, including 500 free minutes, 5000 texts and 50MB of data. They are also doing a Blackberry Curve 9320 - available on pay as you go for £125, actually he would of course, much prefer that. Hey Ho Santa, are you listening?

PS I did just try to upgrade my son's mobile, but was told there would be a £120 termination fee, so think about that when you are taking out a two year contract. You can't upgrade for free, even if it's for a more expensive contract. 

BritMums#XmasSavingTips project sponsored by Tesco Mobile.








Monday, 3 December 2012

Bye Granny

About four weeks ago, I was compelled to take my children to see Tiny Granny -my father's mother. It was a Saturday and we went to Holland Park first, and then to her flat, which was very near by. I wrote about her two years ago, when it was her 100th birthday, an amazing age to reach. There was no telegram from the Queen; we think she fudged her age, and had long ago, changed her real birth date, which was in 1910.

She was affectionately known as Tiny Granny, because she was absolutely tiny  - about 4' 10" in her hey day, shorter by the time she died -but the humanist 'celebrant' who presided over her funeral, exaggerated when she said she was 4 foot, that really was a step too far.


On that Saturday, five days before she died, (There she is that day in the photo above) she was thrilled to see us - she was amazing: still astute, mobile with a stick, laughing, living on her own. She talked about the war, when she worked for the American Red Cross. She was exacting about details, like how my father's beloved terrier dog went missing during the war, she believed stolen. She also said that she had to move out of her house, in Amering Sussex, because the army needed it. Her husband went to war, and she moved into a flat in Marble Arch with a girlfriend. My father went to a prep school in the country. She remembers him coming down to London for the day to see the doctor, and when they were at the doctors surgery, it was hit by a bomb. 

She was sad that her last friend alive had dementia and couldn't speak to her any more, she was lonely, and ailing. She couldn't hear too well, she couldn't walk without a stick, or do her own shopping. It was only in the very last few months, that she had let somebody come in to fix her dinner - previously she had lived with my father for most of the week, and on her own, in London, for the rest, but after a recent spat of hospital visits, she had been living in London. For the past six months she had had to move out of her London flat, as the toaster had caught fire, and burnt the kitchen down. She hadn't been aware, it was the porter?concierge who lived in the basement, who had smelt the smoke.

The incident has made me think though: Should we really be constantly striving to prolong life? I'm not sure she enjoyed the last few years very much, and often said she had outlived herself. She spent a lot of time visiting doctors and going to hospital. She couldn't really hear, or read much any more. Each day, towards the end,  was a struggle really. It was also very boring, I imagine and lonely.

I will miss her calling up, and calling me "dear" - no one calls me dear, it's a endearment from another era. She has lived a long life, through both wars and as the celebrant said at the humanist service, won a cup for elocution at school! How quaint.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

How to Survive the Sleepover

Do it at half term or in the holidays.

Don't invite child over before 5pm.

Hide all random sweets/chocolates/beauty products/dresses/shoes/cameras/computers

Rent a very long DVD

Skip bath-time

Put them to bed and give them half an hour of legal chat

Be ready for the inevitable, "I feel sick, I need a glass of water"

Give them a glass of water.

Make sure partner is in

Keep a night light on (One eight year old girl peed in my daughter's play box in the middle of the night because she said it was too dark to find the door)

Take it in turns to go upstairs and say shhssss/be quiet/this is the last sleepover before Christmas.

Very important: Wear ear plugs when you go to bed because they will get up and make noise at 5 or 6 a.m

Send a cheery text when mother of child texts to ask if everything OK

Be prepared for a very overtired, overwrought, child for the following  2 days.




Monday, 29 October 2012

My Next Big Thing

The utterly gorgeous Emma Lee Potter, who writes a blog called House with No Name, was my other half when we blogged for Easy Living Magazine. She blogged as Country Wife and I blogged as City Wife, and we finally met in the summer at the Brit Mums Conference. Read her post above to find out what she is working on at the moment. She tagged me in a post called The Next Big thing in which she has asked me several questions about my next book and then I will ask two writer friends to carry it on.

What is the working title of your book? 

I am terribly bad at titles, but a working title is Double Vision.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The idea was inspired by two things: The first was that I sat next to a man at dinner who was the father of 14 year old twin boys. I was both shocked and fascinated when he told me that his sons were living in different countries, because they had fallen out over a girl! One boy was living with his mother in New York and the other in Paris, with him – he was still married but commuted between the two cities. He didn't elaborate, but it set me off thinking about sibling rivalry, jealousy etc. The next thing that inspired me was meeting a friend from New York, who told me she was estranged from her sister, (my friend lived in New York and so did her sister, but her parents lived in London) but they were going to be forced together, for a week with their mother in London, as their father had died. I was interested in both those dynamics, ie: being estranged from a sibling, but forced together after many years and then examining the rivalry and betrayal in the relationship.

What genre does your book fall under? 

It's quite commercial but not pink and glittery so. My agent flattered me hugely, when she it was in the genre of Zoe Heller. I loved Notes on A Scandal. 

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 

Hard one: Someone like Bill Nighy  for the father, and Cousin Matthews mother in Downton Abbey (Penelope Wilton) as the mother. Perhaps Gynneth Paltrow for one sister and Reethe Witherspoon for the other. Um... I wish I could think of some English actresses.....Perhaps Emilia Fox as one sister and....um...

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

Estranged twin sisters forced together reenact betrayal and revenge, while paradoxically desperately hoping to connect.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? 

Too long. About two years.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 

I just can't think.

Who or what inspired you to write this book? 

I think I've answered this question already in  what gave me the idea. Carrie Kania from Conville and Walsh has been a huge help, particularly at the beginning when I wasn’t sure where I was going or if I had a book at all.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? 

I think this is the most interesting of the books that I have so far written, and that is possibly why it has taken me so long to write. I became really involved in these two women - their past boyfriends, partners and parents, and also delving back to their childhood and teenage years. I found it quite gripping, writing about Bella's experience at boarding school, which was lifted from my own, but more horrific. It took me back to a dark place. I also became fascinated  with the sister’s obsession with a teenage lover they shared. I loved writing about teenage love, sex, betrayal. 


Friday, 26 October 2012

Writers, authors, bloggers.

I would love to find two or three more writers who want to answer a few questions on their blogs, about their next book project. I've been tagged to do this on my own blog, and want to tag a few more. It's fun and inspiring and really makes you think about your work in progress. Either leave a comment or mail me kate@katemorris.co.uk

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A night to Remember

It’s around six o clock on a dreary, cold, evening – rain threatens.  I’m filling up the car with petrol and sending a text to the babysitter. There are too many things on my mind:  I’m wondering whether my son will make the A team squad for football, whether the kitten still has diarrhea, whether my latest novel will sell to a publisher who is willing to pay good money. I’m about to pay when I realize, with sickening thud, that I’ve put petrol in the Audi diesel estate. It even says diesel, in big capitals on the petrol cap.

I am expecting the nice man behind the till to tell me something miraculous, like he can just syphon out the diesel with a bit of pipe for  £5. He says I mustn’t start the engine but paradoxically that I must get the car off the forecourt as soon as possible.  He adds that it will probably cost £200 to fix it. Nice. Great.  Thank God, we have breakdown cover. I wonder how much it would cost to fix without it?

When I telephone my husband, he replies with a gruff kind of preoccupied hello, and when he hears my appalling news he sighs and hangs up. I call him back because I don’t have any of the insurance details.  He says he’s on to it. It’s dark now, and cold. I sit in the car but am too afraid to turn on the engine in case the car blows up. I read the back of a packet of crisps. I call my husband again, and he tells me, in barely controlled rage, to be patient.

He calls some time later, and says help will arrive in a couple of hours. So I walk home. We wait and we wait but nothing happens. At 9 the nice man from the garage, calls to say he will fine us £500 if we don’t move the car. He’s worried that a tanker of petrol will arrive and won’t have access to the pump.

My husband offers to go to the garage and wait with the car. A couple of hours pass. I ring him on his mobile, but there’s no reply. I feel appalling guilt that I’ve put him in this situation.  I text.  Then I ring again. By now it’s 11.00pm. I worry that perhaps he’s been mugged or run over, or killed. I imagine at any moment, a policeman will turn up to inform me of his death.  I wonder whether to ring my friend and ask her to come over so I can go and search the streets.  He can’t be still waiting. It’s about 1130 when I notice that there is a text form my husband. Its cryptic, it doesn’t make sense. I am thinking now, that the text is a desperate plea for help. He’s just managed to press one button on his phone before he was hit on the head. I am about to cry, when he comes through the door. I rush towards him. I have never been more pleased to see anyone in my whole life.

Sponsored Post

Monday, 24 September 2012

Kitten-heaven

This is our 9 or 10 week old kitten, that we fetched from Battersea Dogs Home. My daughter has named her Boe, the other choice being Sunshine! Boe is energetic, curious, a little reckless, and feisty.  When our three year old tabby met Boe, she spat and hissed. The kitten stood her ground, until big Kitty ran away. Boe was born to a stray cat, who gave birth in someone's garden and perhaps that has given her an edge. It was slightly harrowing to see her mother in the enclosure next to her, miaowing as we took her away - her litter of four all gone now, and she's still there, waiting to be neutered.

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home was founded as "The Temporary Home for Lost and Starving Dogs" in 1860 by Mrs Mary Tealby. Mary Tealby had separated from her husband and moved to London in 1860 and decided to open a "canine asylum" after the death of a starving dog she had tried to nurse back to health.  She established the Temporary Home for Lost and Starving Dogs in a stable in an Islington mews. The Times ridiculed the home on the 18 October 1860. "From the sublime to the ridiculous – from the reasonable inspirations of humanity to the fantastic exhibitions of ridiculous sentimentalism – there is but a single step... When we hear of a 'Home for Dogs', we venture to doubt if the originators and supporters of such an institution have not taken leave of their sober senses."

However, Charles Dickens gave support and  published a piece in the magazine All the Year Round in 1862 about the home, calling it an "extraordinary monument of the remarkable affection with which the English people regard the race of dog. It is the kind of institution which a very sensitive person who has suffered acutely from witnessing the misery of a starving animal would wish for, without imagining for a moment that it would ever seriously exist. It does seriously exist, though."

The home moved to Battersea in 1871 and they care for over 9,000 dogs and cats every year. It costs £14 million (Yes 14 million!) a year to run Battersea and their funds come entirely from the public. 

If you want to help them or adopt a dog or cat ring 0207 622 3626

Thursday, 20 September 2012

East London Art Tours

If you have a spare morning in London, I would recommend taking your mother/sister/partner/friend for a walk in the East End with East London Art Tours. I went one day last  summer, and it was really uplifting and exciting to visit a part of London, I would never normally find myself in, and also to discover was happening in the artworld, that was a little out of my usual comfort zone. Hymie our tour guide has an arts background, having worked in galleries and art consultancy and also a long stint at the British Council. Me and about fifteen other women were taken in a private mini-bus to the industrial backwater around the Olympic Park. She was a great guide, both knowledgeable and unflappable and immensely organized. We had a packed intinerary including  a visit to the Victoria Miro gallery where we saw 6 new tapestries by Grayson Perry, also a group show in Stepney Green, coffee at the most incredible building space, the White Building in Stepney Wick and much much more.

The next tour is on  October 4th. Hymie says,  Starting at Old Street tube, we'll walk through Hoxton, Shoreditch and down through Spitalfields, visiting a mix of back street exhibitions embracing film, mixed media, installation and painting in venues ranging from artist-led spaces to some very beautiful and elegant galleries.  September has a great line up of new shows in the east end, several of which are already in the art world hit list of 'must-sees'.  These include Runa Islam's short films at White Cube and a survey exhibition of the Artists Placement Group, conceptual art from the 1960 and 70s supported by Tony Benn MP at that time.

I will give a talk about the history of these three distinct and now very fashionable areas and background into the history and gossip of the art scene.  The area is great fun with lots of tucked away trendy little boutiques and cafes.  If you'd like to get to know it and feel like a stroll through the city's alternative art scene, please do join me.  

Date:  Thursday 4 October
Start: Old Street tube station, ends Liverpool Street station.
Time: 10.30 - 1.00ish
Cost: £35 includes walking guide, talks, private visits and coffee & pastries in a lovely little coffee house.


Hymie Dunn
East London Art Tours 

E: info@eastlondonarttours.co.uk
Tel: 07789 035181


Saturday, 21 July 2012

Colour Me In



I am  a fanatic witch when it comes to children's cereals: All that sugar and salt! There is nothing fun and smothered in chocolate for breakfast at our house although when my daughter came back from a weekend away recently she asked for chocolate spread for a few days. During the long cold winter we quite often have porridge, with a concession to it being smothered in honey, and we have the fun sort of cereals for the weekend. The children call the sugar cereals, Weekend Breakfast. Most days my daughter will have Rice Krispies with various yoghurts dunked on top. This is a photograph of her holding her Rice Krispie packet that came through the post in a huge box with a gigantic packet of colours. She's coloured it for a Rice Krispie colouring in competition sponsored by Kelloggs and Britmums. I absolutely love they way she has coloured her bowl, and have already told her she can have a huge sum of money if she wins the competition. My son, who considers himself too old (at 11) to colour in a cereal box, couldn't resist doing one figure -he says he'll do more, but refused to be photographed, so here he is behind a box! Check out the patterned trousers! They're great.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

In homage to Nora Ephron



Things I won't miss When I'm dead:

Being Tired
Insomnia
Traffic Jams
Airport Security
Wrinkles
Dry skin 
My waistline
Daytime TV
Whiskey
Drunk people
Supermarkets


What I will Miss:

My kids
Luke
Sunshine
Sand
Sea
Long, hot baths
Reading a good book
Parties
Friends
Dinner with friends
Laughing
Crying
Hugging

Nora Ephron's List

What would you miss or not miss?

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Cost of Children

This pinged into my inbox this morning, from an American early education website. I was particularly struck by the statistic that says %82 of those surveyed who don't have children want them and  the one that says you lose, on average, one and half close friends when you have young children. I'm not sure I lost close friends because of having kids, although it's true to say you do make new close friends, those friendships that strike up because you have children the same age. 91% say that having children under 10 wrecked their sex lives and %60 had a lot more sex after the kids left home. That's a long time to wait!!!!  I wonder how many of those surveyed blame the kids for their wrecked sex lives or would they would have lost interest anyway as the years rolled by?  Also I'm quite surprised that only %13 of pregnant and new mothers admitted to feeling depressed, that seems low. After all, new mothers are exhausted, perhaps overwhelmed, stuck at home, given up work, feeling hormonal and out of their depth.

My children are 8 and 11 now, and I feel as though we are out of the early childhood years, the endless sleepless nights and early mornings feel like one big blur.  I never really stop to think about how much two children are costing us, I know it's a substantial amount, and will increase as they get older. Anyway see what you think, and whether any of this resonates with you.


Created by: EarlyChildhoodEducation.comCostly Kids
Created by: EarlyChildhoodEducation.com

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Life Goes On

The strangest, most uplifting, and devastating things happen, just when you least expect them to: Some dear friends of mine lost their first baby a year ago – she died a few minutes after being born. We were all distraught; it was just so awful, almost unheard of these days. The mother conceived again, and her second baby was born two weeks ago. She came three weeks early and was born on the exact same day, within three hours of their daughter who had died a year before. We saw her on Sunday and she's absolutely beautiful and apparently never cries. I love this story, it’s as though she was helping her parents, by marking the sad anniversary with her birth.

And death: A friends’ sister, aged 47, died a few days ago, possibly from complications with diabetes. Another friend, a nurse, told me about a motorbike accident that happened outside the church she was attending on Sunday.  She rushed out to help and while the man’s wife looked on, she attempted to resuscitate, him – but unfortunately it was too late. He wasn’t wearing a helmet; would he still be alive if he had been? He had literally just left the house. My friend says it won’t leave her, this sad, surreal, experience, she wonders if she should stop talking about it. Another friend's daughter, aged 9 has died from a long battle with leukemia, I am going to the memorial today.

Life goes on and on, and then bang, something happens, that jolts you out of your stupor. Friends you least expect to split up do  - at least four friends have told me they have separated in the last few months. The other day, my husband alerted me to the fact that we don’t have house contents insurance. It immediately made me think:  What would happen if we suddenly lost everything in a fire? What would I do if my computer was stolen with my new novel on it? Or if the leaky ceiling in the shower room collapsed? There is just so much to worry about and think about - car insurance, house insurance, contents insurance, cat insurance, private health insurance, and all because we have to wonder what if? What if? It just seems so unlikely until it happens to you.

This is a sponsored post

Monday, 18 June 2012

Brit Mums Live

I'm one of the panel speaking in the Path to Publishing forum, on Friday at the Brit Mum Conference, and am suddenly, this Monday morning, am wired with nerves. I'll only be talking for 5 minutes, but at the moment, I imagine it will feel like the longest five minutes I've ever spent. To put it in perspective, five minutes is only a minute longer than my poached egg takes to cook, but that four minutes can tick by quite slowly sometimes. On the other hand there is so much to say, how could I possibly squeeze it all into five minutes? A conference of 500 women - perhaps a few men? It's bound to be noisy. I bet most of the women know each other, (at least read each other's blogs) it's like going to a party where you have met the host, but none of the guests. I met a few bloggers (Was it two years ago?) at a bloggers lunch for Bistow gravy, and a few the year before for Disney kids channel, and my neighbour is a blogger, but I'm not sure she's going.  I'm sure it will be fun though. I imagine a huge noisy space, hundreds of women sipping tea, chatting, laughing, gossiping, sneaking in a call to the babysitter, and wheeling home on a high! Come and say hello to me please and if you're nervous check in at the Butterflies group, four bloggers who are on hand to chat.




Friday, 1 June 2012

Friday

My daughter, aged 8 stood up in the bath yesterday, skinny as a pin and declared that she was fat. Yes FAT. She said she needed to go on a diet. I was so shocked and saddened that I could only say NO. No please do not go on a diet, you don't need to. "You're skinny," I wailed.
"I'm not skinny like Christianna," she said.
"You're a sports girl.You run and jump and do gymnastics." 
"But my tummy is big."
"It isn't."

And so it went on me blaming skinny models, girls at school, anyone but myself. This morning, I realise with horror that she has probably picked up on this from ME. I am constantly on a diet, constantly remarking that I'm fat. I've been on the Dukan Diet for over a year; I weigh myself every morning. I have to stop sending out this message. 

On another note, I saw this deal which is to get three copies of Junior National Geographic for £4. Can't go wrong.



Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Life



The strangest, most uplifting, and devastating things happen, just when you least expect them to: Some dear friends of mine lost their first baby a year ago – she died a few minutes after being born. We were all distraught; it was just so awful, almost unheard of these days. The mother conceived again, and her second baby was born two weeks ago. She came three weeks early and was born on the exact same day, within three hours of their daughter who had died a year before. We saw her on Sunday and she's absolutely beautiful and apparently never cries. I love this story, it’s as though she was helping her parents, by marking the sad anniversary with her birth.

And death: A friends’ sister, aged 47, died a few days ago, possibly from complications with diabetes. Another friend, a nurse, told me about a motorbike accident that happened outside the church she was attending on Sunday.  She rushed out to help and while the man’s wife looked on, she attempted to resuscitate, him – but unfortunately it was too late. He wasn’t wearing a helmet; would he still be alive if he had been? He had literally just left the house. My friend says it won’t leave her, this sad, surreal, experience, she wonders if she should stop talking about it. Another friend's daughter, aged 9 has died from a long battle with leukemia, I am going to the memorial today.

Life goes on and on, and then bang, something happens, that jolts you out of your stupor. Friends you least expect to split up do  - at least four friends have told me they have separated in the last few months. The other day, my husband alerted me to the fact that we don’t have house contents insurance. It immediately made me think:  What would happen if we suddenly lost everything in a fire? What would I do if my computer was stolen with my new novel on it? Or if the leaky ceiling in the shower room collapsed? There is just so much to worry about and think about - car insurance, house insurance, contents insurance, cat insurance, private health insurance, and all because we have to wonder what if? What if? It just seems so unlikely until it happens to you.


This is a sponsored post

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Madeleine

#Blogging4Madeleine Blog Awareness Campaign



Five years have passed since Madeleine Mccann was abducted while on holiday in Praia de Luz on 3rd May, 2007. Today Madeleine is 9. She shares the same birthday as my son, who is 11. While Kate and Gerry Mcann will be unable to celebrate with their eldest daughter, I have just watched my birthday boy open his presents; we have already sung, Happy Birthday. Later I will take him and four friends to the skate park and bowling. We will eat cake, blow out candles - normal birthday rituals most parents take for granted. It's hard to imagine the pain that must sit with Kate and Gerry Mccann every minute, every second of the day.  Do they wake every morning with heavy hearts? Do they wonder if anyone is mistreating their daughter? In darkest moments, they must despair and wonder if she is still alive.  I wonder if they can ever experience a fleeting moment of fun while she is still missing? Do they ever laugh? Do they ever forget? My own daughter is a year younger than Madeleine, if the same thing happened to her I would be endlessly  wondering what if? What if we hadn't left her in the hotel bedroom? What if we'd checked every fifteen minutes rather than every thirty? What if we'd hired a babysitter? They must live with the guilt, like exisiting in some interminable hell. Is she still alive?  I'm not sure, but all of us want her to be found; we live in hope. 

Please note the information below:


·    
·           Contact information to report any sightings or information
What she may look like now

Thank you to AMummysView
and Tea and Biscotti for organising this campaign. J
o   Your local police force immediately, AND
o   Operation Grange
0207 321 9251 (in the UK)
+44 207 321 9251 (non-UK)
o   Or Operation.Grange@met.pnn.police.uk
o   OR Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555111 or www.crimestoppers-uk.org
·      The Find Madeleine official website www.findmadeleine.com
·      The latest image released as she may look now
All this information is available from www.findmadeleine.com
Madeleine before she was abducted





Tuesday, 1 May 2012

A rainy day




My ten-year-old boy sobs theatrically on the threshold of the front door. “I hate going to the park,” he says. “You’re acting,” my husband retorts harshly with a dismissive flick of his hand. He’s a good actor - he actually won the school talent show judged by Davina Mcall, Olly Mears, and a man from JLS, for writing and performing a stand up comedy routine. He’s not usually tearful or difficult or stubborn in any way. The sobbing becomes disturbing, really quite authentic. He definitely looks pale-faced and tired, he had a disturbing dream last night about being eaten alive.

He has been stuck on a maths homework problem for an hour and has refused help. We want him to take a break, but he has now dropped to his knees wailing “get off me, leave me alone. I hate walking.” The Australians are approaching wearing tall, silly hats and holding packs of beer.   “We have to go,” I stage whisper to my husband. We need to walk away before they witness this excruciating scene. “You’ve hit a wall,” my husband keeps repeating over and over again. “You need fresh air.” He takes the boy forcefully by the arm, and we set off, a desperate and suspicious looking trio.

We pass a woman who looks at us struggling with our son, then reaches for her mobile. I imagine she is ringing the police. We walk on, breathing in car fumes and bus diesel, towards the park that used to have rats running around the muddy banks of its pond. “It’s difficult being a child,” I explain to my husband, who is fuming, ‘it’s hard to be so powerless.”

We pass our special needs neighbour, the only one who refuses to attend the annual street parties and the hearty family who invite other families over for weekend lunch and then go to the park to have netball tournaments. They glance at us with a mixture of pity and horror.

The wine merchant (who has recently added French cheese to his window display) grimaces in sympathy as we walk past. The rain stops. We march round the park, there are a few dog-walkers escorting giant dogs, but otherwise the park is deserted. I wonder where we have gone wrong, and fantasise about joining a parenting class. In a moment of madness, I suggest that we get a dog. The boy  perks up for a moment before descending into dark gloom again, demanding to be taken home. Is this brittle and determined negativity is a foretaste of teenage years? Or will I look back on this day in the park, and think it was a piece of cake?



Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Great Ormond Street Hospital

Great Ormond Street hospital are organising a charity, fund-raising family 5k race, in Battersea Park on Sunday June 24th. You can go here, to sign up and join. Particpants can skip run or walk or even hop around.  It will be a win win situation - fun, healthy and also raising money for a really good cause. The money  will be used to redevelop vital parts of the hospital so that staff can care for more sick children and will also help provide things like medical equipment, vital research into childhood illnesses, and beds for parents to stay in so they can be close to their children.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Money Saving Tips

I've been asked my British Mummy Bloggers to concentrate my mind on money saving tips. So here are  ten tips that spring to mind: 

1. My daughter recently shared her 8th birthday party with two of her friends. We hired a church hall, found a dancer to teach them a street dance routine, and bought Easter Eggs on special offer at Asda for going away presents. The girls all said it was the best birthday party of their lives, and yes, it really was fun, and stress free because all three mother's shared the tasks and costs.

2. We only hire a babysitter if it's something we both really want to do on one particular evening - a dinner party, a party, a school quiz, a special trip to the theatre. Otherwise we go out separately. I also use a sixth form school girl as my babysitter, so the rate is reasonable. We trust her completely.

3. I only buy clothes for myself on Ebay or during sales.

4. I make use of store cards and vouchers. I buy children's shoes in Trotters so that every fifth pair has %40 off etc.

5. Two weeks ago, I gave up smoking! I only smoked about 1 or 2 a day but even so I'm saving about 20 pounds a month.

6. Buy railcards for train travel.

7. Make sure I use every scrap of food in the fridge and freezer.

8. Turn off lights/Turn the thermostat down.

9. Use cousin's hand me downs for a selection of my children's clothes.

10. Keep a separate account to save for tax.

Note: This post is for Brit Mums Piggy Bank tales competition sponsored by Virgin Money.


Share your savings story for a chance to win £500 towards a Stocks & Shares ISA


Monday, 26 March 2012

My Saturday a week or so ago

Saturday morning used to be a time for serious rest and recuperation. Long summery mornings were spent twirling spoons in a coffee cup, or staying in bed. Winter mornings curled up around a fire or lying in. Hours drifting by. It’s seems extraordinary now that there was so much time to spare. This Saturday morning, instead of vacuuming up Cheerios squashed into the carpet under the breakfast table, and desperately shoving clothes and junk in cupboards, in preparation for the arrival of the lunch-time guests, I am sipping tea and reading newspapers in a café .  I am about to text, or at a push, telephone my girlfriend, to cancel lunch - some unexpected illness, a last minute rash, a migraine.

I have left home without a toothbrush, or a change of clothes, or a car, because when you have children, you can’t take the one car, even if you are having a dramatic, leaving home moment. I’m not sure if anyone has noticed that I have gone, even though I announced that I’d had enough and flounced out of the door. I am in fact sitting in a café only 500 meters from the house. I’m enjoying twiddling the spoon in my tea, but when I listen to my messages, two are from my seven-year-old daughter, weeping and asking me to come home, promising to tidy her room, practice piano and do her homework, or that is what I would have liked her to say. She doesn’t of course say anything like that, but she does sound sad and tearful.

Within minutes I am back, doing all the chores that should have been done before, but in much more of a hurry. Random clothes, vacuum cleaners, the ironing board, toys, hockey sticks are now thrown into the cupboards. They are so tightly jammed that if they were opened, even the tiniest bit, the whole load would fall out and knock down a fully grown man. Perhaps even kill a man. The lunch-time stew is rapidly heated up. The friends arrive and lunch begins, nobody would guess that I left home and returned and that my daughter was abandoned and in tears. We go through the motions of eating lunch, (some cubes are meat are hard, others strangely soft) and we think about walking to the park.

In the park later, a wholesome, ginger-haired American youth has strung up a tightrope between two trees and is balancing. It seems like a sport for an exhibitionist and there is a small crowd of people staring at him. Miranda Hart is jogging with a tiny dog, the children are playing football, my girlfriend and I are asking each other how much we would need to be paid to sleep with the Bill Bailey lookalike in goal. We conclude there is no price, not even a million. We are leaving the park when we discover  the children shouting “ Bill pass, hey Bill!!! WE conclude the Bill lookalike is actually not a lookalike, but the real thing.


Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Giving Up Everything

It's a difficult week. I am on day 4 of not smoking. I had a few false starts, having announced I would give up for Lent and failing spectacularly. But I've managed the last 3 nights, (my weak moment is at 9 o clock, when the children go to bed.)   I have eaten sweets and popcorn to get through it and put on weight. So am now back on the Dukan Diet. So I was cooking cod with grated ginger and lemon at 11 o clock this morning because I couldn't wait until lunch time. I managed all day until I got home at 4 and gave my son a doughnut and took a giant bite of one myself. Then I had half a Penguin and two oatcakes with low fat cheese. Thus cancelling out everything I had tried to do. So not only am I not smoking or eating much, but I am also not allowed hot baths, (my true solace) because I am wearing support stockings (which have to be worn day and night for 14 nights) as I am having some thread veins treated.  I've been through this twice before and I can tell you it's not fun. 

I feel strange, and weird without my crutches. Help? Someone? Anyone?

Saturday, 18 February 2012

The Big Switch

This morning, I was waiting in the car, while my son played football. It was cold and windy and I was worrying that he wasn't wearing enough clothes. I switched on the radio, and listened to Money Box live on radio 4. There was a man on from Which talking about a brilliant scheme to which so far, 57,000 people have joined (and which was originally trialled in Denmark) - the aim is to find the best deal from energy suppliers for a big group of the public who want better deals for gas and electricity, the more people who join, the better the potential deal. There is no obligation to commit, if you decide to sign up. So I urge you to give it a go.  (I have) the more of us do, the better the deal from potential supplier.

This is what Which say about the deal:

What is the Which? Big Switch?

Which? and 38 Degrees are calling on consumers to join together to cut energy bills. Using a completely new way for people to buy energy, we’ll be using the combined switching power of thousands of consumers. We’ll negotiate with energy suppliers and seek to secure a market leading deal. The more people who sign up, the stronger our bargaining power.


Once we’ve secured a deal, we’ll notify you of the outcome either via email and/or text message and you can choose whether or not to accept it. There’s no commitment or obligation to sign-up with the new supplier, so if you decide to stay with your existing energy company, that’s absolutely fine too.


Join The Big Which? Switch today and be part of our campaign to cut your energy bills. Register before 31 March 2012.
In partnership with 38 Degrees.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Watch this if you want to laugh


Every time I watch this video, of a little girl shouting her way through a nativity, I laugh. My children love it and my 7 year old makes us watch it all the time. It's absolutely brilliant. Watch it and see.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Skating Makes me HAPPY

Skating is the one thing I love doing, that makes me feel like a child again. When I was young, I had regular skating lessons, at Queensway in London, and even learnt to skate backwards and dance.  A few years ago we started skating at Kew on the outdoor rink, and loved it all over again - first we would toddle around with the small children which was a little boring, and then me and my husband would return for a date on the rink, which was really fun. Kew no longer has a skating ring, but this year I've been skating twice, just to feel the thrill, and now my children dash around too without any help - my seven year old daughter is a real whizz in fact.
I've just returned from France where we skated on the outdoor rink in St Tropez. It was very cheap - 2 Euros for as long as you wanted to skate (officially meant to be an hour, but no one knew). It was surrounded by twinkling Christmas trees and fairy lights, lovely. However, the rink was run by a trio of maverick men, who admitted it was never cleaned and so it was easy to trip up on the mounds of ice that mounted up. Also there were gangs of teenagers playing "it" which was terrifying. The first time we skated I fell over twice.
Much safer and brilliant in this rainy weather is the indoor rink at Westfield, which closes this Sunday the 8th. It's reasonably priced and not too crowded. The rink is smallish, but the ice is beautifully smooth. We rushed around the rink and didn't feel scared once. Great Fun and well worth a visit.