Long time no new blog! Sorry about that. And nothing to get excited about this time either. You will have been innundated with GDPR emails and I'm about to join the queue.
I don't do anything with your email addresses. In fact, I don't actually know who you are (but hello there!) as it all happens by magic when you put your email address into the box. Thanks for that! I don't have a list and therefore can't do anything with it. Some of you will have worked out by now that I don't have the techie know-how even if it was possible!
I don't make any money from my blog and therefore no one else is interested in who subscribes either. So hopefully you will trust me and we can continue to have the odd laugh. I've got a couple of blogs germinating, so keep your eyes out for a message. Also, I'm on Facebook as Making it to the Top of My Own List and Twitter as @topofmyownlist. If you're not already there, you would be very welcome! I don't do the other things, too old for all that.
So, enjoy the sunshine and hope to see you soon.
Thursday, 2 March 2017
I read a magazine cover with excitement recently. I can’t remember the exact title, but the gist was ‘Make a Massive Amount of Money Doing what you Love’. Whoop, whoop, whoop! I could hardly write my list fast enough – fortune makers, each and every one!
Things I love to do:
- Go to the beauticians for treatments
- Watching TV
- Having a bath
- Perusing the aisles in Boots
- Eating chocolate
- Going out with the girls
And yes, of course, spending time with Husband and Daughter. But I was under the impression that this was all about a new job, and Husband has his own and Daughter is too young to work. So they are excluded. I will let them share in my new wealth though.
I excitedly flicked through the pages looking for the application form, daydreaming about how I could properly describe my skills in the activities on the list to do myself justice, and fight off the no doubt massive competition. What would the job actually be? I was most excited about the prospect of being some kind of beauty salon tester. And actually, that could combine a few; selecting products in Boots, taking them to the salon for a professional to use on me, a bit of reading in between treatments, and then the piece de resistance – if the treatment was really relaxing, I’d fall asleep. That really would be making money from what I love.
Imagine my disappointment when there was no job. Instead, there was an article about starting your own business doing something that you’re already skilled or interested in, and investing a load of your own money (that you’ve conveniently acquired from ginormous redundancy pay out or from savvy saving from your highly paid job over the years). More power to these creative entrepreneurs, all of them women doing what they love and making a success of it. But for me, who has no skills, money or time, it was a blow. Nor do I have any courage to do something like that – my default mode is worst case scenario, I should have added ‘catastrophising’ to my list of things I love to do, so no jacking it all in to make bobbles at the kitchen table, whilst I imagine every footstep to be the bailiffs. So. Back to the day job then.
You can find any number of quotes about working. Do what you love and it’s not work. Life’s too short to do something you don’t love. But I rather think that most people bumble along doing something that’s alright, manageable, tolerable, pleasant, better than a smack in the face etc. I do know a couple of brave pioneers who set up their own businesses and, as far as I can see, are genuinely doing what they love, but I know far more people who enjoy what they do most of the time, but aren’t making money from their passion. But I suppose we make the world go round, so back to it.
It did make me think what I would actually do if I was setting up a business. L and I have talked many a time about a coffee shop and a wedding dress shop. Not both together obviously, too high a risk of stains! I do make a nice cake, but the reality is I’d be the size of a house if I worked in that kind of environment. And I’m not sure I’ve got the manual dexterity to operate a coffee machine. I’m always in awe of the multi-tasking that goes on to make my flat white (skinny, please). Is there a market for cups of instant? A wedding dress shop shouldn’t do any harm to the figure though. And surely everyone who comes in is happy? I’d definitely like to do that. And less washing up than a coffee shop. Another thing I’d like to do is party planning. It really appeals to my Little Miss Bossy side. When we had a party for my Dad last year, I elbowed Mother and Sister out of the way, sharpened my pencil and dusted down my clipboard. There was a strict ratio of blue to white crystals on each table, but my minions struggled with it. Sister was mean with them, Daughter kept stealing them. You simply can’t get the staff.
Anyway, with lunchtime in the real world job nearly over, I’d better get back to it. But if you see any jobs for someone that involves my skills, so let me know. I’m particularly keen on the TV watching aspect, as I’ve got a bit of a backlog on the Sky box. Oh, and I can’t start in the chocolate testing job until after Lent, I’ve pledged to give chocolate up…J
Wednesday, 10 August 2016
Holiday minus 1
Holidays cost. I’m not talking about the flights or the accommodation or the hundred weight of toiletries. Or the new clothes (and underwear; how does that happen?) Plenty in the drawer and then boom! Not enough for a mini-break, let alone a fortnight in the sun. ) Oh no. There’s all the preparation to account for. Husband: Haircut. Me: Cut and colour. Foot overhaul at the chiropodist (so much more ruthless than a pedicure). Eyebrow threading. Spray tan (scrapped this time round after being a bit David Dickinson last time). Bikini wax. All this in the name of not scaring the children . Husband doesn’t get it. Absolutely bamboozled by a bikini wax. Why can’t I do it myself (like I do all year). Because I want to pay for the humiliation of making small talk whilst a girl half my age and size attacks my nethers with a level of scrutiny and precision last exercised by the doctor who sewed me back together after giving birth. The jury is still out on which is more painful. (Disclaimer: I have been for plenty of bikini waxes in the intervening 8 years but this one could only be described as ‘zealous’)
And then of course there’s the monthly slimming group subscription for three months beforehand, only to waste the good work of a month in the few days prior to the holiday. ‘I’m on holiday!’ my brain says. ‘Eat the bread. And the chocolate. And the...’. This is teamed with a fortnight ‘off’ enjoying my holiday. And for ‘enjoying’ read ‘scrutinising every choice available, eating what my brain and not my belly wants and refereeing the fight between camp ‘You’re on your holidays!’ and ‘Nothing tastes as good as slim feels’. I’m very firmly in the NTAGASF camp, but bizarrely my hands and mouth seem to have surrendered their membership and I know I’ll have a fight with them when I get there.
Must stop eating.
Ooh! Afternoon tea!
Am I brown yet?
I should have done more fake tan. I should have had a spray tan this year.
Where are my ankles?
Am I as fat as that woman over there?
Why did I buy such big bikini bottoms?
Where are my ankles?
Was blonde a mistake?
Ha! Look at you with your youth and imperfect beauty. You don’t realise one day you’ll be 40 and in big bottoms. Embrace your hip skimmers.
Where are my ankles?
I might have more blonde.
Where are my ankles?
Near disaster. It’s Day 6 of 11 and I’ve just closed book 3 of 4. Now, I’m no maths genius (Grade C at Intermediate, although that was the best you could get on Intermediate. That’s not even a tier these days.) But I could work out that I hadn’t rationed the pages properly. I felt agitated. How could I survive another 5 days with only one more book? I started eyeing Husband’s Jurgen Klopp autobiography. Seems like a nice fella (Jurgen, not Husband. Although he is, of course. But, I could tell that Husband wasn’t going to finish Jurgen before I finished book 4. I’m a fast reader. I couldn’t bear individual’s reading aloud in class unless it was me that was doing the reading. I used to read ahead at my speed and then not know where the reader was up to when they finished. But I digress. I found myself in a real situation. I’d clearly under-packed the library and obviously the decision to leave the Kindle at home (lots of lovely books to read in the shade – can’t see the screen in the sun) was a wrong one. Daughter had cast us aside for holiday buddies and hours of lovely reading time stretched ahead. Although I didn’t fancy the three different Diary of a Wimpy Kid episodes she’d brought, so I was no better off. Then a thought struck me...there’s always a stash of abandoned books in a hotel. Jurgen would be safe! I found the stash, and boy, did I strike gold. Hidden amongst a few Mills & Boons was only Marian Keyes latest, and the only downside was that I wasn’t wearing my big bottoms, because I laughed and laughed and unfortunately I was a few (thousand) sit ups from my belly not wobbling when I laughed. I can only apologise to any fellow sun worshippers that I disturbed with my laughing or traumatised with my wobbling. If you get the chance to read it, do (but only if you’ve got big bottoms on). Marian Keyes is truly one of the funniest and best writers around, and was the very first person I ever tweeted in response to a competition and she welcomed me to ‘the twitters’. So highly recommended. I also enjoyed ‘The Thirty List’ by Eva Wood, ‘The Moonlight Hotel’ by Jane Costello and ‘A Daughter’s Secret’ by Eleanor Moran, which reminded by of books by my lovely friend and author Mary Torjussen, whose books would also be a very clever addition to your holiday e-reader.
The big/smaller bikini bottoms issue also caused me some angst. I’m a two-piece wearer and I make no apologies for that (except when laughing at a book on the sun lounger). My friend C, who is quite frankly a wisp of a thing after having been more substantial, was aghast at the idea of wearing a bikini. Hopefully that was at the idea of wearing one herself rather than at me wearing one, although she was very clear about me being Too Old to wear a playsuit. I was equally aghast that she was so against getting her tiny self out on the lounger. She assures me that I don’t know what lies beneath, but I’ll have to take her word for that. Anyway. The perfect bikini bottom eludes me. I declared a couple of side-tie sets as being too skimpy, despite the fact they weren’t last year at the same weight. Although last year I was a couple of stone lighter than the year before, so it’s all relative. Feeling fat and almost inclined towards a one-piece, I bought what could only be described as Big Bottoms. Then I went on to lose half a stone and the Big Bottoms became Ginormous Bottoms. Very unflattering. On the very next smaller bikini bottom day (which were genuinely more flattering), Husband declared that I looked much nicer in them, much nicer than the ‘granny knickers’ from the day before. Not to worry that I’d bought two sets in different colours...One thing is true though; eating cake from the afternoon tea buffet in a bikini, regardless of the size of the bottoms, is a very sobering experience indeed.
Denim shorts. I’m undecided. From my observation point at the mini-golf (gammy leg, more later), I can see two pairs. One worn to good effect and enough to make me wonder whether it’s a look I could carry off (with C’s playsuit caution ringing loud) and the other putting me in mind of Don Estelle (meet the gang ‘cause the boys are here...). If you don’t understand that reference, Google ‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’, but I do warn not to do this at work. As a 70’s sitcom, it’s rife with ‘isms’ that could probably get you the sack.
Speaking of the 70’s, it’s been all decades here. Yesterday we went on a coach trip to the eighties. There was no air-con. There were no seatbelts. It got a flat tyre (which isn’t exclusive to the 70s, of course). Then it’s been both the 80s and 90s round the pool, right down to ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ and ‘We’re Going to Ibiza’. You could pinpoint whether the holiday makers were in their 40s or 50s by what songs they knew the words to.
Somewhere, there is a mirror manufacturer that adds a touch of magic to their mirrors and sells them only to hotels. The owner is a kindly Grandpa with many daughters and granddaughters, who knows the harsh scrutiny that females put themselves under and who, many years ago, recognised that these ladies deserved a holiday from their self-loathing. The magic mirrors have different properties for each user. This is clearly a well-kept secret, but I’m on to it. In my holiday mirror, I’ve got a great bronzy (for the non-Scousers: I’ve developed a deep, even tan). The reality is that I’m like a patchwork quilt of ashen face, brown(ish) arms and chest, pink and white stomach (very reminiscent of the ‘Pink and White Ice Creams’ shop in Southport), and legs ravaged by prickly heat and insect bites. Glam.
The Magic Mirror also tells no tales of the 3 big fat restaurant visits a day, snacks, gin, lager, Baileys (Baileys! In July!). No Siree. The Magic Bathroom Mirror could even seduce me into thinking I’ve lost weight. But that is simply physically impossible. So I thank Magic Mirror Man, because all of my home and work mirrors are cruel, cruel harridans that joyously points out every ounce, blemish, wrinkle and wayward hair.
My only complaint is that whilst basking in the soft-focus of the mirror, your eyebrows grow unnoticed and then the first mirror encountered will refuse to show you your holiday Magic Mirror face and reveal that you are, in fact, Frida Kahlo.
You’ll know from earlier blogs that I’m locked in constant battle between stuffing my face and wanting to fit in a size 12. I was just short of it for my ‘Fab at Forty’ plan and since then I’ve been in a dramatic Paso doble style dance with half a stone and I switched slimming club allegiance. Half a stone kicked to the kerb. Tight trouser comfy again. Big bikini bottoms rendered too big. And then came the holiday. Fabulous Greek cuisine, easy to stick to meat and salads. Gin. Fruit. No need to give my half-stone certificate back. Until...
MITTTOMOL Food Diaries
Porridge with fruit
Salad, yoghurt, fruit
Meat, rice, salad
Boiled egg, bacon, tomatoes
Fish, salad, fruit
Meat, salad, potatoes, fruit
Fried egg, bacon, bean, toast
Pasta, quiche, cake, lager
Cheese, meat, pie, potatoes, cake, wine
And that is why I know that I will be greeted with BIG FAT WEIGH IN DISASTER. Now, what time does the afternoon tea buffet open?
There are two things I’ve pondered whilst I’ve been here, other than poor wardrobe choices and what cake to have.
1) Destination Weddings
It’s hot. I mean, it’s bloody roasting. I can feel sweat trickling down my near-naked back. My waterproof mascara ran. My sparse eyebrows can’t function as a sweat-dam. Quite frankly, I don’t look my best in the daytime on holiday. So I can’ help but wonder what possesses people to get married abroad. There’s been two weddings here. One was a full-on waistcoat, cravat and big dress affair (clearly, not all on the same person). Why???? One of the reasons behind our October wedding was so I wouldn’t have to stress about sweating, and I don’t consider myself to be an overly sweaty person. I only know two people who went off to get married. C and P went off by themselves and didn’t require anyone to suffer a tie or a feathery headdress in the heat. T and G did have their immediate families accompany them, but I don’t know that Anglesey has the same destination wedding problems. But each to their own and congratulations to the happy couples.
I don’t ponder them as such, having produced one myself, but I do ponder taking very young babies on holiday. I’m not worried about the heat, but they do have you like a bloody pack horse. It’s still an international mystery how such small beings generate so many bags. Daughter was a few days past her first birthday when we took her abroad, and even with two grandparents willing to surrender some of their precious luggage allowance for cartons of Cow & Gate and nappies, we still struggled. Yes, I did favour the hysterical parenting style so often present in the parents of Precious First Born’s, but at least no one wanted to park their lounger next to my carefully rigged out shady buggy space. Even the most down-to-earth baby needs a lot of stuff. I’m imagining lots of parents what possessed them. But then again, who doesn’t smile at a chubby baby in a swimming costume?
And who, having been through The Pack Horse Years, doesn’t enjoy suddenly being able to read four books because their chubby baby is hanging out with their new holiday bezzies?!
The whole packing thing stresses me out. Clothes are fairly predictable, but the rest...Obviously I had a serious lack of judgement on the reading front, which was due to the unexpected lack of offspring company, but I can’t quite explain why I’m about to pack 5 unworn bras (including the rogue 32 C that was camouflaged on my size hanger). Then there was the anxiety about some of the toiletries lasting, so there was a conscious eking out mid-week, leading of course to excesses come the last day and a woeful lament about being tight with it. The toothpaste I was trying to calculate weight per use left? Still a good few brushes in the tube. Shower gel? Two one-third bottles left. The giant shampoo and conditioner? Could have stayed another week. Sun lotion? Work out the maths on 4 bottles for two adults and 3 for one child...suffice to say we were all slathering on the factor 50 kids by the end.
So, there’s another holiday been and gone. Tan still golden (pasty legs helped along since I got back...). Cake and beer weight still there. Washing done. Photos developed. And the browser open for Summer 2017...
Friday, 1 April 2016
There’s no shortage of sticks and the opportunity to beat yourself with them in parenthood. It’s a minefield. Maybe it gets easier with subsequent children, but for firsts or onlys, every day has got the potential for you to do something wrong. Doing stuff wrong is an alien concept for me. I’m a planner, a thinker, a reviser. I treated pregnancy like I did my academic qualifications; reading, research, planning. I didn’t go into it half-baked, and much of the research was focussed on how to get a girl. Grapes and strawberries, apparently. Copious bowls of Frosties and eggs (not together, I’m not an animal) were also part of my diet, but I was well pregnant by then so imagine they didn’t have any impact on the pink or blue issue. I wanted a girl, and was willing to take a bit of dubious advice. I’m no scientist, who am I to argue? Anyway, I Got It Right. Early babyhood was approached similarly, and really, there’s not that much to get wrong.
So, from right to wrong. Daughter is nearly eight and I’ve no experience with eight year olds. There are no books now. The holy grail of Mumsnet generally confirms I’ve Got It Wrong, but who’s to say. It’s the not knowing what to do I don’t like. I’m not one of these intuitive wear-your-baby-in-an-aztec-print-blanket type of mothers (although admittedly I think she would be a bit heavy for that now). I’m not a follow-her-lead type (her lead would be to Wetherspoons for ham, egg and chips followed by a supermarket sweep style jaunt to Smyths). I want to know what to do in advance. I want to get it right first time. I’m not comfortable with making mistakes.
Once they go to school, keep your stick handy. The dropper-offers and picker-uppers may be able to keep it somewhere a teeny bit further, as they might have a bit more opportunity to Find Stuff Out, but I suspect it still needs to be accessible. I’m so seldom at the school gates that Teacher asked me who I was there for last time I picked her up. Practically on first-name terms with Nanny though. So I read all the letters, ask the questions, but generally still have no clue what goes on. The very latest stick beating happened with a Children’s University Graduation. I remember the passport coming home. I remember…well nothing else. I didn’t return the form as I knew Daughter had a princely two stamps in her passport (which was securely stored in a location I remembered, so yay me). On the day, about 4 children in the class didn’t go, one of whom was Daughter. She was pretty casual about it and scoffed at the prospect of a graduation in primary school, but I was beside myself (whilst also scoffing at the prospect of a graduation in primary school). What worried me was the possibility that she could have gone only for my devil-may-care letter chucking. What troubled me was that I Didn’t Know. How did everyone know about this and understand it? Where had they got their stamps? Why didn’t Daughter have them? What if she doesn’t graduate? Does she need to to get into a good high school? Is Oxbridge out of the question? Why was I so rubbish? So of course the rest of the day was written off to forensic investigation of where she could get them, how many she might have, what was recorded at school centrally and what I’d failed to do for her. I harangued the Drama club (participates, hooray), pestered the Dance teacher (thinking about it, thanks!) and the swimming club (no response, get your act together). There was me thinking these were nice activities for her to do, when all the while they may have had stamp value! The next family day out is planned according to the list of places that participate. We’ve already been to loads on the list, but like a bad parent I concentrated on us having a nice family day and let the stamps go to waste! If only I’d known. Why didn’t I know?!!!! So of course I’m black and blue with stick beating. I might even need a new stick, but I’ll have to keep hold of this one for now because you can’t be without one. I do know that she’s off for a fortnight now though, and I do know who is looking after her on the days that I can’t. And I do know that I’ll be sending her Children’s University passport…
Wednesday, 3 February 2016
I went for a gym run last week, I didn't fancy their tunes, so I cranked my favourite iTunes album on - Ministry of Sound Anthems 90. 427 minutes of pure joy. Well, probably 400, there are a few duffers in there (King of My Castle, Ebeneezer Goode and Don't Call Me Baby, if you're asking). I had to have it loud to drown out the perma-playlist (and the sound of my heavy breathing). and it was exhilarating. Although my feet were pounding a mechanical pavement, my head was in various 90s local hotspots...Ferraris...Paradox...Reds...Some of the songs actually made me run faster and I had to speed the treadmill up. My speed songs seem to be:
- Things Can Only Get Better by D’ream
- Son of a Gun by JX
- U Sure Do by Strike
Feel free to sing as you’re reading now…
Then I got in the car, where my radio was set to Radio 1, and there was some kind of old and new mash-up going on. I should admit that Radio 1 is at Daughter's insistence, having decided that Radio 2 (I slipped there gradually over the years...) is for old people and I should have the station that Granddad has on. You know, her 69 year old grandfather, who clearly pumps out the best choons on the school run. She was very keen to distinguish which Granddad, as maternal Granddad listens to a local show that she has actually been on, so there's no moving the dial on that one. When I asked Father in Law what station he had on, he replied it was 'just' Radio 1, thus revealing himself as some kind of secret hipster. I'm monitoring him for growing a beard like the young ones do. I'll have to say something if he tries a man-bun. Particularly with him being bald…Anyway, loud music, post run high, I was car-seat dancing all the way home. And it got me to thinking; where is the post 30s mummy to shake her thang?
We danced on our Christmas night out. We waved our hands in the air like we just didn't care. We did the dance-walk to the dance floor. We danced and sang to club classics of our day, in a hotel function room that had been converted from one of our main stomping grounds when these songs were out. And to be honest, it wasn't much of a conversion. But since then, nothing. Not a shimmy, not a shake. Because post thirties working motherhood doesn't leave a lot of time for dancing. And even if it did, we don't know where to go. Where are the clubs? We don't want to be starting our nights out at midnight. Someone will start mentioning ringing a taxi around then. But even if we had the stamina, we can't be rocking up and shaking our stuff with the young ones to remixes of songs that were ours first time round. What if we slip up with the words now they’ve been remixed? It’s too risky.
Maybe I’ve hit on the business idea that will free me from my daily grind. Mum dance parties! They could be based on those under 18’s discos that nightclubs used to do in the old days before 14 year olds looked old enough to actually get into nightclubs like they do now. We could actually hire nightclubs, we’d be in and out before the actual clubbers wanted to come in. Early start, maybe around 8:30pm, big ‘ol dance floor, limited bar (prosecco and gin, what else would we need?), and a full on 90’s mix, throwing in those few 70s and 80s belters that get everyone on the floor (Dancing Queen and We are Family being personal favourites), plenty of soap and loo roll in the ladies and we’d be set. Finish at 10pm, home in time to make the packed lunches and get to bed at a reasonable time. Result! Now remember, this was my idea, so if I see any MumClub nights advertised, I’ll have to give you a very stern talking to! (but don’t forget to send me a complimentary ticket!)
Until I can get this off the ground, or we work out where we can actually go out dancing, it looks like it’s car dancing. If you see me at a set of lights, give me a nod and join in!