Crikey, I haven’t posted for two months. There’s a lot to say, just no time to say it. I’m not going anywhere any time soon, just slowing down with life because there’s too much to fit in.
I’ve renewed the Mum Friendly domain for another three years. Not going anywhere – okay?
I have things lined up to be reviewed – books, clothes and more.
I took out an Art Pass subscription this year to replace our Historic Houses Association one which lapsed, so we’ve already visited places I want to share.
We have books and clothes to review and we’re still working with the lovely Stamptastic. I’ll be doing a review on their blog; seven years in and I finally had to buy a new ink pad (but I made sure H’s school was signed up in their PTA deal).
Then there’s Brexit. We went to the Put it to the People march, I’ve written about it and posted it retrospectively today. That seems to be my pattern so far this year, writing but not posting.
There’s also all the extra activities we do every night. Brownies, obviously. As H heads into her last term at Brownies, she earned her Gold badge; the highest Brownie award you can get. She was the first girl in our Division to do so – she was really proud, as was I. She already attends a Guide unit locally (which I help at, of course) where she’s a mini-Guide until she moves up in September. Oh, and I gained my Brownie Leader Qualification too.
We’re still going to football on a Saturday at Whyteleafe FC. Crystal Palace pulled our local girls Wildcats group. They opened a new one but it was too far; navigating the A23 on a Saturday morning is never fun so we gave up. Whyteleafe is only ten minutes up the road, not far from where our old Caterham sessions were. It goes without saying we’ve bought tickets for the Women’s FA Cup Final for the fifth year running; this time in a group with parents from our football group.
So yes, still here. Still doing everything in the few hours we have to do stuff. Just checking in.
This week we received an email, letting us know that our Saturday football sessions with Crystal Palace Wildcats will finish.
Which makes several young girls aged 5-11 quite sad.
Wildcats are girls-only football sessions which we’ve been attending since we did some work with the FA. We have an awesome group of girls, we meet almost every Saturday whatever the weather and we play football. We train, we learn skills and we have fun.
But not for much longer.
I had noticed several clubs starting extra Wildcats sessions around the country, and Crystal Palace weren’t alone in this, starting three extra sessions.
Which leaves me wondering – has it all been too much? Have SSE stopped sponsoring Wildcats and actually the clubs can’t afford to do this, so these sessions are the first thing to go? Has the FA pulled funding?
We don’t have answers, just that there’s an opportunity to move to Caterham Pumas.
But it does make me wonder, If that was the case, why didn’t they set up Caterham Pumas Wildcats?
Although then we wouldn’t have had our amazing coaches, Charlotte and Sophie. They have made such a massive difference to all of the girls, bringing a love of football to their Saturday mornings. H used to be someone the boys wouldn’t pass to, to now being someone who will try and get a ball from the boys.
They have been brilliant, and we’re all gutted that won’t have training sessions with them any more. They made a difference.
It does make me wonder. Is it about money? Everything to do with women’s football is to do with money. Look at the new league structure. Coincidentally, Crystal Palace Ladies were accepted into Women’s Premiership on the same day we got our email saying the sessions would no longer exist. I’m sure the two incidents aren’t linked…
So, onwards we go, having to find another club to play football. I can only hope any future coach gives H the support and confidence which got her to the level she plays now. I’m hoping that all her friends she made make the switch as well…
Thank you Charlotte and Sophie. You made a difference to a lot of girls and will continue to do so. Thank you for taking the time out to make a difference.
The Women’s FA Cup Final 2018 was a repeat of 2016, two teams we’ve seen a few times but always different. When I go to Wembley to watch the women’s game I feel safe. It’s somewhere I will go for a happy atmosphere. It is still so different to the men’s game – however, things are changing.
The Women’s FA Cup Final 2018 was Arsenal v Chelsea. That’s okay, the women’s team of both have players we like – and in H’s case, Fran Kirby. I could have sworn we’d never seen her play, but looking back to 2016, in fact we did.
All we wanted to see was some great football, to enjoy the atmosphere and to get home at a reasonable time.
This time we were in Block 221, right on the back row so a decent view of the game, though to be fair you get that from most areas at Wembley. It was only later on I realised why the game was a bit earlier than usual – because it would be fitting in with Tottenham’s games at Wembley for this season. I hope they keep it at this time for future years.
We go as neutrals every year, sitting alongside supporters of both teams. Unfortunately I had a chap next to me who made it his job to boo every time Chelsea did something which got a bit tiring, especially as he was the only person doing it. We don’t need that negativity! We support football! I just clapped louder to drown him out, helped by Wembley providing everyone with pieces of foldable card. H had about five of them and it definitely drowned him out…
Mid-way through the Women’s FA Cup Final 2018 and we had no goals, and I was starting to calculate the time we’d end up getting home if it continued that way.
Fortunately Chelsea got three, Arsenal got one and the game was decided by 90 minutes. Also – Fran Kirby scored so H was delighted as it was a GREAT goal!
This year there was an FA Fanzone outside Wembley. We saw the new Subbuteo set which is based on our two Women’s FA Cup Final 2018 finalists. You can’t actually buy it though, only win it in giveaways. Hmm.
We were in that area just as they announced that Fara Williams and Mary Earps, England players, would be there for autographs. H was happy as she loves being in goal and made sure she got her Wildcats buddy their autographs too. Overall there were less freebies (a good thing, we don’t need more SSE spongey things) but more things to do. The weather was perfect as well.
We had food inside Wembley. Three hot dogs cost £18. Did I mention that our three tickets for the Women’s FA Cup Final 2018 cost us £15 total? We’ve been SSE customers for our gas and electricity for over 8 years, finally making use of SSE Reward. Our tickets were half price.
Will we be back again next year? Of course – this year had a record-breaking 45,000 supporters attending – way up on last year’s total. We wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Not long now and we’ll be heading back to Wembley for the Women’s FA Cup Final 2018. This will be our fourth year going; I’m filled with delight that this year it’s on a different day to Eurovision. At last!
Tickets are on sale right now for the Cup Final, as SSE customers we bought ours via SSE Rewards – it has cost us £15 total at a 50% discount. I also entered H into a competition to be a mascot but I suspect we’ll have no luck on that front.
Things are looking interesting on the football front too; our Crystal Palace Wildcats are back after a short Easter break. It looks like SSE and the FA have put even more money into the Wildcats clubs and making even more available to join. One has even opened in Carshalton, although we’re sticking with our Caterham gang!
It is almost a year since H joined Wildcats. She’s still enjoying going every week, and at £3 a time it isn’t expensive. It’s also a lot more enjoyable for us parents now the weather is warmer. Standing out in the cold has been quite hard at times in the past! She has made loads of new friends. I love that she isn’t with school friends so has different circles of friends now.
Oh, and this isn’t just about H – we’ve made some friends too which is great!
We love going to Wembley. We’re sad we haven’t got to see Tottenham play there, though we’re looking forward to visiting the new White Hart Lane.
I love that more opportunities are opening up for girls, here’s our local flyer. It is worth having a go. The more groups of Wildcats girls there are, the more girls will end up playing against each other and having even more fun. Football has done wonders for H, and I’m so happy there are more groups opening up.
Here’s hoping this year’s SSE Women’s FA Cup Final is a record-breaking crowd!
2017 hasn’t been our best year. I’ve been the one who has sucked the joy out of the party like a death eater (Harry Potter reference there, folks). I’ve been the one who when asked how I’m doing, has someone close to me who isn’t doing well. It has been one of those years. Something I’m very conscious of. So from now onwards, let’s focus on the good, or at least try to.
In 2017 we took out a Historic Houses Association membership and discovered loads of new places. That was a REALLY good move, and one I’d recommend. We still have our Royal Historic Palaces, English Heritage and National Trust memberships too. We’ve been to Hever Castle and rowed on the lake for my birthday, to visiting Alnwick Castle and doing Harry Potter related things.
Australia will have to be mentioned because, well, it’s Australia. We had an unexpected trip after a death in the family. My work were brilliant, and I managed to work remotely from there while doing everything else. We were able to visit places in between working and I found a happy medium without having to dump everything on my workmates while we were out there. I love Australia and still dream of moving out there one day.
The summer holidays felt like they were a long way away, so when they came it was good to stop.
Coombe Mill was our Cornwall base, followed by Woodspring Farm Hut near Weston Super Mare. It was where H grew in confidence – and she wasn’t pushing herself, just following her own instincts.
H started in Year 4 and for a short while I became “that mum” – the one who insists she stepped out of her comfort zone and attend an after school club, doing Young Voices. Up to now she hadn’t had any interest in singing in public so it was quite a jump. The added bonus was her teachers from last year run it.
She came out having had the most wonderful time and is looking forward to joining lots of other schoolkids and singing at the O2 in January. I’m really looking forward to trying to find her! It works out cheaper than a gig too, so I think it’s a win-win situation.
H is still swimming and switched classes again. By the end of 2017 she had gained her Bronze award. I know she’s ready to move onto a bigger pool and depths, though she has swimming with school this year so we’re holding off until September. At the moment she’s working on her 800 metre badge, so we’ll see how that one goes!
It goes without saying, football has played a big part of our lives in 2017.
We worked with the FA to help promote women’s football, and H started playing every weekend with Crystal Palace Wildcats.
She’s starting a new term there from January, has made lots of new friends and they all even got to be mascots at a Crystal Palace Ladies game which was great fun (and very cold). While she may never play football competitively, she’s having so much fun. I like that she’s doing an activity where she didn’t know anyone at all and has made new friends.
We’ve watched Tottenham Ladies a couple of times now and our aim for 2018 is to catch a Tottenham game at Wembley just the once.
We bought a new car in 2017. After having had an old Vauxhall Astra, we switched to a Skoda Fabia. I love it! The car suits me and my driving – it’s not too big and not too small. It fits quite a lot in it and has sensors for parking too. My downfall in our last car was when I reversed into a bollard and dented it…
We took out a PCP deal to buy the car, and with Shaun working from home this meant the money we save in him travelling to the office now pays off the car. We’ll do more trips next year as my biggest problem with getting anywhere was whether our old car could do it. Oh, and we had a carbon monoxide problem with the car too.
Carbon monoxide. That was a busy week. I was one of the case studies for Gas Safety Week 2017 (it doesn’t mention this blog at all so you wouldn’t know), speaking about my experience of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. I intend to work with Project Shout Co in 2018 too. We have to keep shouting.
Our year ends on a quieter note, with a visit to the Roald Dahl Museum and a trip to see Hogwarts in the Snow at the Warner Brother Studios. There will be reviews to follow in the new year, and always photos on my Instagram.
I get the feeling that while I will never stop blogging, this slower pace of updating is where we are. Essentially I am now working four jobs – my dayjob, this blog, my PTA responsibilities and finally of course the work I do with Brownies as a Leader in Training. Oh, and parenting too.
2018 will be about finding a better balance in my work – home life. We’ll get out more and I’ll blog about it more.
We’ve enjoyed staying in a yurt and a shepherds hut this year. I’d love to think we’ll go camping at some point too.
I never do resolutions, mainly as I’d forget them. We can leave 2017 with our heads held high and know that we’re out of it intact and that’s all that counts.
Happy New Year, and all the best for 2018!
This year has been so busy. It has flown by, and I can’t quite believe it is October tomorrow. How did that happen?
The days, weeks, months are flying by and I’d really like to hit the pause button for a short while, catch my breath and keep on. I guess that’s why we sleep, right?
For H we have a new school year, Year 4. She’s cross about home learning being an extra five minutes long while still finishing it in five. So far spelling tests are within her ability so she isn’t doing extra work. We’re not talking easy words here – last week was adding suffixes to verbs – I had trouble explaining their rules. She has started doing Young Voices with school which is the first choir she has ever been involved in – and she loves it.
Add to that swimming, football and Brownies and that’s a busy week.
She’s also really proud to have earned her first Blue Peter badge!
I’m still doing my leadership training for GirlGuiding, and I’m getting closer to finishing. It’s just finding the time! This term we’re about to start work on a Harry Potter themed badge which will be good fun.
This blog takes up a chunk of time, my PTA responsibilities do from time to time, add in my dayjob and it can feel like four different jobs, especially at the moment!
Shaun is happy as we’ve finally bought a new car. A Skoda Fabia, a bit smaller than our old Vauxhall Astra but much needed. After our previous carbon monoxide incident I’ve felt like our old car needed to go. We have had leaky filters in there – I’ve been paranoid enough to take a CO alarm in the car with me and while it didn’t go off, a new car will be better for my nerves. I know the signs too well.
We just need to find the time to drive it now…
One big change this year, we’re not going to see Father Christmas. I’ve managed to convince H that going to Hogwarts in the Snow would be a far better Festive thing to do!
The SSE Women’s FA Cup Final Tickets are on sale now!
On May 5th 2018 two teams will head to Wembley to battle it out for the SSE Women’s FA Cup Final again. Cup Final Tickets are on sale NOW!
We always buy tickets around this time of year – it’s an affordable way to go and watch a game of football, it’s always entertaining and it’s a great atmosphere to take kids. There are always goodies handed out to help make the atmosphere great too!
Prices start at £15 for adults. Kids go free, and if you’re a Student/concessions then the price is only £5.
The kick off time hasn’t been announced yet, and has varied over the last few years. We’ve had anything from 2pm to 4pm, but every time we’ve gone it has been lovely and sunny.
Wembley has good transport links with trains from Marylebone the closest. There’s also Metropolitan and Jubilee lines at Wembley Park, with the longest walk on the Bakerloo Line from Wembley Central.
The Women’s Super League will commence on September 23rd. We’ll be cheering on Tottenham as they make their WSL2 debut! It’s going to be an interesting season – lots of big name players have moved clubs, as well as some big names coming to the WSL. We’re looking forward to it.
I’m happy as for the first time in two years the FA Cup final isn’t on the same day as Eurovision!
Tickets usually come in at £20 for us, we choose a good area to sit and then wait until around March-time when our tickets arrive. We always go as neutrals and it’s a fantastic day out. The Wembley Designer Outlet is next door so there’s loads of affordable food options too.
Don’t delay – FA Cup Final tickets are on sale today! Buy your tickets here.
It’s also worth pointing out, Women’s football isn’t just for girls. It’s for everyone. As a parent, I’ve found the men’s game has all manner of potty mouthed language going on. I’ve felt far more comfortable H being at the women’s game.
Are you watching the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 Finals? We are – all the games are on Eurosport so we’ve been watching a LOT of football.
England are on a roll – we won all the matches in the group stage (which was pretty tense at times) setting up a Quarter Final with France.
Women’s Football is still a funny old game though.
This last week The FA launched a campaign with Disney, asking the England Women’s players which Disney Princess they identified with the most. Alas, they didn’t also ask the England Men which character they identified with too…
We recently bought an Amazon Echo which has been brilliant for a lot of things. We’ve been asking Alexa what the football scores are (when a game has been too good and we don’t want to flick between channels in case we miss a goal) and she hasn’t been able to answer. I flagged this, and received this as a reply from Amazon.
I understand that Alexa is providing the sports update for men’s football but not for the women’s football scores.
I’ve checked our records and I’d like to let you know that, Currently Alexa doesn’t support women’s football sports update as this feature is not available on Alexa.
As this is a newly launched device in UK, there are few features which need to be added. However, we are constantly working to add more features to the device at the earliest possible. I’ve forwarded your message to our Amazon Echo development team for consideration as we make further improvements.
I’m sure that they’ll carefully look into this and take necessary actions in the nearest future. I’d like to thank you for bringing this into our notice and please be assured that we’ll try to bring this option to the earliest.
Meanwhile, in the neverending quest to fill H’s Euro 2017 Panini Sticker Book, shops are running out of stickers. This must mean they’ve been really popular – I’ve seen the starter kits at our local WH Smiths, they don’t stock the refills though. So far I’ve seen them in WH Smiths and Sainsburys, and that’s all. Things are getting better. Slowly.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was an England Football Lottie doll? H has several, including the football kit – Brownie Lottie and Football Lottie watched the match together, apparently.
H now has a subscription to She Kicks magazine – she’ll get a copy every month, and we’re loving the current Euro 2017 edition. If you want information about the Women’s game, then She Kicks is the place to go. In fact, it’s the only place to go – and it’s a great place to go.
I had a conversation with one of our football-mad Brownies a couple of weeks ago. “Are you looking forward to the Women’s Euros?” I asked. “Oh, I don’t follow Women’s Football” she replied. I pointed out she was such a good footballer what if she ended up being a future Lioness… I think this is the problem with the women’s game. The funding of things like the SSE Wildcats groups needs to continue. Keep making football affordable and fun. Awareness is getting out there, make more clubs available for girls to attend.
Accept that girls will like the men’s game as much as the women’s game, and make sure information about the women’s game is available. Get England Women playing at Wembley again. I realise this is difficult due to Tottenham playing there this season, but in the last three years they’ve played there once – opting for games in stadiums around the country for friendlies instead.
McDonalds sponsor a lot of Grassroots football. When England do well, get players on adverts on tv – you know, like they do with other sportsmen and women. Let’s have players getting equal billing alongside the men so people stop saying “who’s that?” and know exactly who they’re watching.
Things are getting better – having Little Mix do their Euro 2017 Salute campaign was brilliant! Even if half the girls at Wildcats weren’t keen on Little Mix they were happy to do a salute for England!
Most SSE Wildcats sessions are coming to an end now, and we’ve found out Crystal Palace will continue. Our sessions have moved up in price from £1 a week to £3 which is still affordable. As well as this you can select which weeks you want to go. We’ve decided to stick with Wildcats as despite our local club offering free sessions for girls, I feel like H is progressing better alongside other girls right now. That may change in the future but for now it’s what works best for us and we’re lucky to have the choice.
Assuming that England qualify for the 2019 World Cup in France, we’re definitely going. Definitely.
Just yesterday it was announced that Arsenal Ladies were going to be known as just Arsenal. The only time their gender will come into it is when it needs to. This is awesome news and I hope more clubs follow.
Of course, it also goes without saying, boys like women’s football too. Don’t shut them out while trying to encourage girls to play….
Girls’ Football Week Euro Celebrations are happening NOW!
Girls’ Football Week Euro Celebrations are happening at the same time as the UEFA Women’s European Finals this year. England’s Lionesses are one of the favourites to win the UEFA Women’s European finals too. We beat Scotland the other night 6-0, and tomorrow night face Spain.
FA Girls’ Football Week Euro Celebrations happen this year from the 16th July to the 6th August 2017. It is a national campaign to raise the profile of female football and double the number of girls playing by 2020.
Last year more than 130,000 girls took part in sessions. This was in schools, universities, colleges, clubs, community groups and other organisations country-wide. Activities include playing, training or just learning more about football.
Organisations can register their regular activities on the site, or start something new. It’s loads of fun and longer than a week this year too. It is a great chance to showcase female football from grassroots to England at the Euro’s, and to help inspire new players and volunteers.
FA Girls’ Football Week Euro Celebrations happen once a year every year – we’ve written about it before (2015 and 2016). We’ve always been lucky that there are football events near us, though a couple of years ago the word hadn’t really spread. As time has progressed everyone knows about it. Add to this the launch of a new website, For Girls.
For Girls is the FA’s website which is for women’s football – there are profiles for all our England players, with plenty of facts and information. There are news articles and loads of things which are relevant to the women’s game.
Wouldn’t it be brilliant if England won the Euro’s? It was so close in the World Cup two years ago. Watching two years ago I felt a different sense of pride towards the game. It really meant something when I’d fallen out of love with the England men’s game. It was like we were the underdogs of our own country. Nobody expected us to do as well as we did. But we were brilliant! We came away so proud of the Lionesses achievement finishing third.
So now Girls’ Football Week is celebrating the Euro’s with the Lionesses and loads of activities for girls all tied in.
We’ve been going to the SSE Wildcats at Crystal Palace weekly since our first session which H LOVES attending. I’m seeing a whole new side to her since we started, with far more confidence. She wants to be the goalkeeper or a defender and is bossing the rest of her team from the back and knows where her other players should be. Our Wildcats sessions are over (we can’t make the last two sessions) and are going to start again in September, going up to December – and I’m delighted. You can book here, sessions are based in Caterham and are £3 a time.
Today we had a Girls’ Football Week Euro Celebrations session, with games featuring the England players and goodies for the girls afterwards – Lionesses ones too! Right now H feels like she’s a part of it, and that’s brilliant. It helps the support and even if she isn’t the best football player out there, she’s playing and having fun. That’s what it’s all about – taking part.
FA Girls’ Football Week Euro Celebrations has a website – head over here for more information to find out what is planned where you live. Our group did their Salute for England (which is not yet online) – have yours yet?
This is part of the FA Project we have been participating in. We have received a fee for our time.
I’ve loved football for as long as I can remember. I was never taken to a game by my parents – I took them to theirs. The only reason for that was my younger sister being a ball girl. My teams are Tottenham and York City, my main and home team.
I have suitably brainwashed H, so they are also her teams – and it took minimal effort too. As time has progressed we’ve found ourselves watching a lot of women’s football.
Women’s football is so different these days. It’s much easier to play against other girls for a start. We’ve been attending the SSE FA Wildcats sessions at Crystal Palace, and have watched the FA Cup Final at Wembley three years in a row.
Things are improving outside of our family too. Just today Lewes, a lower league team has announced they will pay the women’s team the same wages as they do the men’s. They have launched Equality FC and I think it’s brilliant!
When you look at the structure of the women’s football league, this diagram helps you see how much things are growing.
Tottenham won the Women’s Premier League Southern Division, whereas Blackburn won the Northern one. The two teams met in a play off with Tottenham gaining promotion to FA WSL Division Two.
England women (aka the Lionesses) are in The Netherlands getting ready for the UEFA European Championships which start very soon. We joined in a Twitter chat on Monday with Casey Stoney who we interviewed a couple of years ago.
Magazines like She Kicks are growing too – a fantastic place to read about women’s football. I’ve bought H a year’s subscription as part of her birthday present. After all, she’s loving collecting the stickers in her Women’s UEFA European Championships album – why not back that up with a magazine too?
It all feels like we’re on the brink of something big happening. Exciting news came this week that Little Mix have launched a campaign with the FA to get everyone to Salute the Lionesses. Check out this video and share your salute too!
What a fab fun campaign. There are plans for H and her Wildcats friends to do a big salute for England this weekend coming which is awesome! I can’t help thinking how brilliant I would have found it if there had been an equivalent when I watched my first World Cup that England featured in (1982 – I just bought the records instead). While this isn’t H’s first tournament, it’s the first one she feels a part of.
The FA recently launched their new site, For Girls over here. I love it. It’s a great site for girls of H’s age to learn about women’s football players.
Girls Football Week is on the horizon too – stay tuned for more news about that very soon! We’ll be supporting it again for the third year in a row.
So yes, I can’t help thinking that right now it’s great being female and a follower and participant of the women’s game. Things really are growing and getting better and it’s a really exciting time!