04 Jul

Project 365 – Week 27

Sunday 28th June. I woke up at midnight, after collapsing on the settee after the BBQ, as it was England’s crucial game against Canada – which we won. Which I managed to stay awake through, and couldn’t then sleep for an hour afterwards, taking me to around 3.30am. It was stressful – but so enjoyable. There have been so many people I’ve chatted to who have talked down the Women’s World Cup, and it makes me want to cry. You have women representing our country, who are amazing ambassadors, no scandal, no overpaid spoilt brattishness (some of them even have full time jobs) – just women proud to be playing, amazed they’ve achieved so much, and belief. It has been amazing and I’m so proud and looking forward to the FA Cup Final on the 1st August. H’s home learning was to write about an Olympic sport, though we’ve since found out there’ll be no Team GB at the Rio Olympics which is a great shame. H will have to cheer Australia instead.

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Monday 29th June. New glasses. I almost forgot it was time for H’s annual check, booked her in at a local opticians on the high street, and within an hour we’d had the test (her eyes are the same as last year which is good) and had chosen her glasses for this year. I was particularly pleased as these ones were free NHS ones – they’ve changed so much these days. The whole thing didn’t cost me a penny.

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Tuesday 30th June. Picking up H’s glasses after school, we wandered back through the village. It was lovely and warm, and we stocked up on ice lollies, stopping for a quick break by the ponds (and a sneaky Feast). After having had my love of Carshalton taken away for a bit, it’s creeping back again. I like that we’re in London but it doesn’t feel like you are. You can still get a bus to Heathrow (and pay with your Oyster), taking just an hour and a half. We’re close, but not too close even if the rents are astronomical. If you close your eyes enough and use your imagination, that isn’t All Saints Church by the ponds, it’s a mysterious castle.

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Wednesday 1st July. This was the hottest day of the year, the day when Southern Trains really messed up and I finally snapped (translate – started another blog which collects my bad Southern Trains poetry that I write when the trains are delayed – it’s in the public’s interest for them to be on time now otherwise more bad poems will occur), the plumber fixed our two leaks, and it was hot hot hot. So Shaun got the paddling pool out the night before, and after school we sat in it and it was SO good.

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Thursday 2nd July. Of course, there should be a photo here. But I forgot to take one of the England game, which reduced me to a mixture of sadness (the way we were knocked out) and relief (the third place game kicks off at 9pm), but yes, I stayed up until 2am watching the football, and as soon as the whistle went I was back to bed. Midnight kick off’s are not good things on a working day. I even had to have a weak coffee – my first caffeine since November.

Friday 3rd July. We didn’t make it to Andy’s wake in The Sun on Thursday due to many reasons, so popped in on Friday to raise a glass and learn to crochet. Which, incredibly, I picked up really easily. I’m not sure how – but after customising the way I hold things and knowing what was important and what wasn’t, somehow I cracked it. Which was quite surprising as the first time I tried I was hopeless and we gave up. So yeah, crochet! Let’s just get it finished now…

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Saturday 4th July. England’s last World Cup game, and our school fair. H has football of course, which Shaun has taken her to. I said “I want to take a photo of you in your kit. Do a World Cup pose” (as the players almost always have their arms folded) so she did this one. If your girl plays football and you’re taking pictures, don’t forget about the Football Association’s We Can Play campaign – right now it is an amazing time for girls to love football, so many more opportunities are being created, and it’s exciting. Football has never just been for boys – it’s for everyone.

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29 Jun

A Healthy Me – June

Well flip. I’ve failed miserably. Last month I was 13 stone 6, and this month I seem to be 13 stone 9.

In the space of a few months I’ve put on half a stone. Not good. So I am being sensible about it – and have signed up with My Fitness Pal, logging all my food and exercise that I’m doing, in the hope I’ll work out where it’s going wrong.

Actually, I know exactly where it’s going wrong – I fell back into biscuits and meal deals, but not any more! The work biscuit tin is out of bounds, unless it’s my period, then I’m allowed one. I will also help stop feeding the bad habit by no longer spending £4 a week on biscuits to go in the tin – it’s all for sharing, but if I don’t contribute, then I won’t be as inclined to help myself. As for meal deals, I had challenged Shaun to get the greatest discount across all foods, and managed to win every time, but these are calorific things – I’ve gone back to the low fat options in Sainsburys, though will be checking M&S tomorrow. The cheese and celery sandwich was a bit too boring when I tried it a couple of weeks ago.

Of course, there could be issues with the batteries on my scales, but who am I kidding? So much for getting into that dress from Australia! Someone at work commented on how I’d lost weight last week too, so maybe it’s falling off my face and around my tummy…

Cholesterol spots – about the same, but I’m now trying a new beauty regime which involves under eye cream to take away the dark circles. I’m not sure if it’s working, but I’ve got enough cream for it to last a long time.

Exercise. Okay, this is a vast improvement. I am still going to the gym every week, and still doing pilates every week. I tried my first Pole Fitness class, though at £6 a class it’s pricey, so I’ve decided to build up my arms a bit as my wrists really felt it. Also, I wasn’t at all prepared to plank for a minute as a warm up, especially with my wrists, so it makes sense to strengthen up there. Watching the others in the class pick themselves up and twirl themselves around a pole made me realise how rubbish my core fitness is – and the pain afterwards lasted for three days!

Food. I’d say better – though there was one Afternoon Tea at my school reunion last weekend – but I hadn’t eaten all day so was starving. I now have my Spiralizer-a-like (a cheaper version) which has replaced pasta and noodles at mealtimes, and with me logging via MyFitness Pal I know I’ll see where I’m going wrong. It isn’t like WeightWatchers with all fruit and veg being ‘free’ – but I’ve got good grounding for logging my eating now, and if I can do as much walking as possible then I’ll get extra calories too – I’ve still got 200 left today. MyFitness Pal is free as well (good as we’re about to be quite skint thanks to a horrendous rent increase) – and works on Android and Apple devices.

The target is 1lb a week. If this doesn’t happen then I’m not sure what’s going on!

28 Jun

Project 365 – Week 26

Sunday 21st June. I bought tickets for Miffy the Movie, so headed out with H early first thing. Poor Shaun, his Father’s Day not starting off so well as it was the London to Brighton bike ride, and all trains had stopped from our local station, so he had to drive us to Morden! But it was fun, and soon we’ll be Miffy bloggers which makes us happy!

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Monday 22nd June. For my birthday present I bought a spiralizer type thing as I need to lose weight (more of that to come with my latest monthly update, it isn’t good news) – and finally cracked tasty courgette noodles tonight.

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Tuesday 23rd June. After school H decided to play me a few songs – except the only songs she can play are Hot Cross Buns and Jingle Bells. Although I’m pleased she can play them both on recorder and her little piano… ahem.

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Wednesday 24th June. We were sent some fabulous books from the new Collins Big Cat series. Now H is a Free Reader at school these are ideal, and already she has been reading at least two a night, or just looking for things in the world atlas. Our review will be a video one… this could be interesting!

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Thursday 25th June. A perfect sitting outside after school day, eating ice lollies. There’s an Ice Cream van which parks outside school which offends me (school can do nothing about it) – they’re expensive, compared to our super cheap lollies. So yeah to us!

ice lolly

Friday 26th June. Our laundry basket had fallen apart so we needed to go to Ikea, so went after school. Ikea now has the veggie balls, also suitable for vegans. I’m not vegan, but it’s handy to know. They were pretty delicious too – and for a plate for me, and a child one for H plus drinks, it came in at around £6 which is a bargain. I was full for the rest of the evening too.

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Saturday 27th June. A social BBQ gathering, and a lovely sunny day too. I got this picture of H inside a tube in the garden – she had a brilliant time, and it ended up being a late one. So late in fact I was asleep on the settee by 10pm, but awake in time for the England Women’s game at midnight, and stressed enough to stay up until 2am on Sunday morning. I haven’t done that for a long time…

H party

24 Jun

Heat Holders Snugover

I realise that June may seem a bad time to be writing about clothing which keeps you warm, but actually, this year has been an odd one, with plenty of cold evenings. Fortunately I’ve been kept warm thanks to my Heat Holders Snugover – and very cosy too!

Heat Holders Snugover

The Heat Holders Snugover is a fleecy jumper which has a high neck and pockets, as well as drawstrings for the neck and waist area to keep out cold air. This all helps when it comes to keeping warm!

It has a tog rating of 1.4 which is great when it still gets a bit chilly once the sun sets, and you quite fancy sitting outside with a glass of wine.

So how does it fare? I would say very well! Many an evening I’ve laid on the settee in my pyjamas and been nice and warm – it definitely makes a difference – and helps when you don’t want to cosy up under a rug. The softness is nice too – I just want to curl up in a ball and relax.

I like that the drawstrings are part of the design – I know that I need to keep my stomach muscles warm as when they tense up and get cold that’s when my back problems start – having the Heat Holders Snugover has definitely helped me.

I opted for the XL size, which covers UK size 14-22. I definitely sit towards the lower end of those sizes, and felt there was plenty of space and room – I don’t like things to be too tight.

You can buy the Heat Holders Snugover for £23.99 from their site and also places like Amazon. If you’re looking for a cosy outdoor jumper which is good for evenings when you don’t need a slanket any more, then definitely consider this!

We were sent the Heat Holders Snugover for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own.

23 Jun

Happy Birthday Miffy!

Miffy needs no introduction on Mum Friendly – I grew up with the books and now H does – and to celebrate Miffy’s birthday we bought tickets to see the Miffy Movie at the Vue Cinema in Leicester Square.

Happy Birthday Miffy - H meets Miffy at the Miffy Movie premiere in London

Because it was Miffy’s birthday, we were promised a chance to meet the character as well as a goody bag – so H was pretty excited. I worry she’s getting to the age where she might stop liking Miffy – though to be fair, I haven’t – so I’m fairly confident she’ll love her for life.

H had her favourite Miffy Uniqlo t-shirt on, we met Jenny from The Gingerbread House outside (although she had VIP tickets so got to see the film on a different screen), and eventually got inside and waited for the film to start. The screening was an event with Bliss, and all proceeds from today go towards their important work.

At an hour and 10 minutes, it’s the perfect time film-wise for a toddler who can cope with slightly longer films – and there’s enough going on that you’ll be yelling back at the tv when Miffy asks you things. Oh, and there’s a very catchy song all the way through as Miffy and her friends solve clues around the zoo.

This is the new style Miffy, rather than like the Dick Bruna books in cartoon form, like the tv series. The film was actually released in the Netherlands in 2013, and is finally getting a release over here – as Miffy is now 60. She still looks fresh and new, and has many new fans every year.

We have a trip to Utrecht planned – though the Dick Bruna Huis is closed until next year for refurbishment, there is still a Miffy exhibition within the main museum there. There are also the Miffy statues around Amsterdam, Utrecht and The Hague – most of which I’m hoping we’ll see. The statues are there until September time. I can’t WAIT!!!

21 Jun

Project 365 – Week 25

Sunday 14th June. We went for a drive to our new Aldi (which didn’t have the Lacura makeup I was looking for), and for a walk to Cane Hill. I’ve loved the Cane Hill building since I first saw it – when it existed it stood on the top of a hill above Coulsdon looking down. Sadly, there was a fire and most of it has been destroyed. Worth a google though. This is the main entrance these days. Sad. It looked like this back in 2008.

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Monday 15th June. The latest Anorak Magazine arrived for H last week, and she hasn’t put it down. She probably should soon, as the new Storytime Magazine arrived too, and there’s an Okido due imminently as well!

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Tuesday 16th June. H’s friend came for a playdate after school, and both of them insisted I play with them. This is WRONG! At their age they should be getting embarrassed to be seen with me. I’m obviously doing something wrong. Anyway “Elsa” decided to jump on the trampoline while wearing a Hungry Hippo Hat. While singing that James Bay song they all sung in their assembly. SAVE ME NOW.


Wednesday 17th June. H keeps growing – or her clothes are shrinking. Love this dress, but it’s Age 7 – big on top, but not long enough already. Sigh!

H dress

Thursday 18th June. Waiting for my train at Mitcham Junction.

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Friday 19th June. A sad day. The funeral of a workmate and friend, and a great send off. Work closed for the day, and there was a good turnout for the funeral. Afterwards we had drinks in the pub over the road where more people from the past came to pay their respects. I don’t want to post a picture of anything to do with today, but there are plenty.

Saturday 20th June. My 30 year school reunion. Way back in 1985 someone in the system in York decided to make all the Grammar Schools comprehensives. Our beloved old Mill Mount school was closed, we merged with the boys’ school (Nunthorpe) up the road and became Millthorpe, and crucially, we never got to go back. Until yesterday. I took an early train back to York, meeting friends in the pub beforehand and all of us going together inside our old school. An amazing day, an amazing old building (it’s Grade II listed). Seeing our old classrooms and traces of the times we were there. Memories. The one thing everyone did makes me smile – we had two sets of stairs in the old building. The (what we thought was grand in our heads until we saw it again) ‘up’ staircase, and the spiral ‘down’ one the servants of the house would have used. So everyone went up the down stairs, and down the up stairs. Obviously I didn’t take this one, my good buddy Sheena did, I’m just going up the ‘down’ stairs. Rebel.

Mill Mount down stairs

18 Jun

My Book of Bike Activities

B Small Publishing constantly produce books which we love – and their latest addition is another favourite in H’s collection. My Book of Bike Activities is, as the cover says ‘A Wheelie Good Book’ – targeted at older kids and full of fun activities. We were sent a copy to review.My Book of Bike Activities

My Book of Bike Activities is lots of fun – and has lots of different things inside. For example, spot the difference, name the bike, know your bicycle, a cycling-related wordsearch and so much more. It’s targeted at children 6 and upwards, and crucially, both boys and girls – it isn’t a gender-specific book.

With the interest in cycling at the moment, and indeed now H has worked out how to ride on two wheels, it’s perfect timing. The Tour de France is set to start again from the 4-26th July, and after last year’s visits to York which we all watched on tv, I know this kind of book will appeal to H.

My Book of Bike Activities

That isn’t all – there are guides on how to do various cycle-related tricks, and plenty of advice (how to avoid getting a puncture – how I wish I’d had a book like that when I was H’s age).

Towards the back of the book is lots of information about various kinds of bikes from the past (and indeed, these days) – I had no idea an MTB was a mountain bike – so even I’m learning here! (Well, they do say six and upwards)

Author Cath Bruzzone is a keen cyclist, and wanted to share her love of cycling, which is why this book exists. She realised there were plenty of books for adults to read about cycling, but none for kids – so she created My Book of Bike Activities.

My Book of Bike Activities

The final word is with H, what with it being targeted at her age group. On seeing My Book of Bike Activities she exclaimed “WOW! Is this for me?” and then sat in silence doing several of the puzzles – not completing them all, but just a little bit of each one, or using her finger to trace the bike race, so as not to spoil it a second time. It’s a book she enjoys going back to.

As a parent, I like to think of My Book of Bike Activities as being like an issue of Okido or Anorak magazine – lots of small activities and articles that will keep a child entertained, plus they’ll learn about it too. Highly recommended!

My Book of Bike Activities

My Book of Bike Activities can be bought from Amazon (affiliate link).
We were sent a copy of My Book of Bike Activities for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own.

14 Jun

Football Mum of the Year 2015

So as I’ve mentioned several times, we were invited to the McDonald’s Football Mum of the Year launch at Petts Wood FC back at the start of May. H had an hour-long training session with Casey Stoney MBE (as announced yesterday – how brilliant is that?) and we got to interview Casey. Actually, I got to interview her as H was a bit shy.

Football Mum of the Year

Football Mum of the Year can be anyone you know who is a mum who helps football matches exist, who helps a child make it to games just by making sure their kit is washed. If you drive your child to football, that counts too!

All you need to do is nominate the mum and the judges (which also include Colleen Rooney) will decide – and you’ll be presented with an award on the 2nd August at Wembley.

So what has changed in the last month? H is back playing football again – Casey’s enthusiasm with the youngsters has definitely helped reignite her love. We’re watching all the England games at the Women’s World Cup (and any others we can catch) and H feels very involved. She gets excited when she sees Casey on the screen – and that’s the other thing about women’s football – it is so much more affordable and accessible than the men’s game. I think H may have a new favourite player in Fran Kirby, so we may be trying to make it to a Reading Ladies game sometime too.

I finally edited the interview we did with Casey. The camera work was done by Shaun, I think you can hear everything, so here it is for your enjoyment too. Congrats Casey on the MBE, and thank you again for letting us interview. Come on England!

Thank you again to Casey Stoney and Red Consultancy for inviting us – we had a brilliant time! 

14 Jun

Project 365 Week 24

Sunday 7th June.  H got her hair cut – eight inches off – more about that soon. Afterwards we headed to Morden Hall Park who were relaunching the National Trust 50 Things campaign, and had some fantastic creatures for the kids to meet. They weren’t allowed to touch the tarantula, though were allowed to touch the snake. It was really good – and we got several of the easier 50 Things ticked off and stickered while we were there. This is when H met and stroked a giant cockroach.

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Monday 8th June. Rainbows in the park. You probably can’t see it but this field was full of daisies – H stepped really carefully around them so as not to squash them. I also made it to our new local Decathlon store. Oh my goodness, SO much nicer (and more reasonable) than Sports Direct. I have a new favourite sports shop…

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Tuesday 9th June. H’s hair – in the bag. I need to put them into ponytails to be able to send off to the Little Princess Trust and we’ll be raising money for them too.

H's hair

Wednesday 10th June. This is what a Hungry Hippo looks like. Our dry run for the Carshalton Carnival parade on Saturday. Everything fits. Phew.

Hungry Hippo Carnival

Thursday 11th June. I’ve been sent some wine which is chilling in the fridge, and of course as soon as I get the wine the sunny weather seems to have disappeared!


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Friday 12th June. We still managed to have our tea outside – we’ve done it a few times this week. So pleased we bought a new table and chairs set a couple of months ago, as we’re getting close to July now, when our rent increases by £230 a month. Living in London and renting is a big pile of poo right now and there’s nothing we can do about it.

eating indian food outdoors

Saturday 13th June. The day of Carshalton Carnival, and despite the clouds there were colours and eventually some sunshine. Being Merlin passholders (which is nothing to do with the fair), and then having to pay £2-£3 a ride at the carnival made me realise how much we’re saving by having them! A lovely day with some sad news, and a visit to the pub afterwards to raise a glass. Now the stupidly busy week coming up is set to start. Oh boy.

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07 Jun

Project 365 Week 23

Sunday 31st May. We had to go into Sutton today to get last minute school things and Father’s Day stuff. Shaun went off to get his hair cut and H and I did a sneaky shopping trip. We found these sandals, and at only £6 they won’t break the bank (good job really!) – we had to go down two sizes too – I’m like that in my Birkenstocks, weirdly.

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Monday 1st June. Back to school and H chose a new library book at last – it had been three weeks since the last one (which was okay as it was one of the Katie books by James Mayhew) – she chose a TinTin book. I told her we had one upstairs and went to get it – only to find it was the same one, but of course in French (we bought it the last time we went to Belgium, seven or eight years ago)!

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Tuesday 2nd June. Southern Trains are my favourite thing to moan about as they’re so unreliable. Then they’re reliable and you think they’ve changed, just to find that actually, no, they’re still the same. Anyway, their app broke this week. This was the message I got when I tried to look up my delayed train. Ends up the train was 18 minutes late, the app kept crashing, and I still somehow made it to school on time to pick up H.

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Wednesday 3rd June. H had her second playdate this school year and she had a brilliant time! We walked past the River Wandle which has been done up and cleaned up – it’s looking so much better now.

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Thursday 4th June. Having our tea outside in the warm, although I was a bit shivery. But still, eating outside after school – you can’t beat it. I picked up a Higgidy Quiche for me, and some salad, then did home-made potato salad, it all seemed to taste fine anyway.

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Friday 5th June. I made a trip to H&M Kids on my lunch break this Thursday just gone, spotted this dress in H’s size and HAD to buy it. Luckily she likes it too!

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Saturday 6th June. A busy day – H had football first thing, we headed up to Mayfield Lavender afterwards as it was just up the road. We had a wander around the fields picking up litter and enjoying the space before it all gets too busy again. After that we drove into Sutton for a look at their Chilli Festival which Alex had told me about the day before. It didn’t disappoint – in fact, the biggest downside was the amount of stalls who didn’t take cards and me not having enough cash. H tried lots of mild chilli sauces and enjoyed it too. The stall which made the biggest impression was The Chilli Alchemist for their fabulously shaped bottles. They have chilli popping candy in test tubes too which H bought for herself! The whole presentation of their stall was fabulous – it drew you in. It’s no coincidence we spent the most money there – and they took cards!

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