We went to Wembley on Saturday to watch the Women’s FA Cup Final – Chelsea vs Notts County.
We went as neutrals, having no preference for either team, and trying not to let our feelings for the men’s teams cloud our judgement in any way.
We made it on time too – from Carshalton to Wembley it takes about an hour and 20 minutes (including the bus from Morden) and was a straight and easy route. Hopping onto a Metropolitan train when we got to Finchley Road made it an even faster journey.
After stopping for nasty burgers and chips (my only vegetarian option, I remembered Wembley’s food being expensive), we got into the stadium. Aaaah.
A random lady who had a number one hit sang her pop song, while large inflatable things had the names of each team. Despite buying tickets way before the finalists were known, we were with all the Chelsea supporters – though you wouldn’t have known. If you watched the Women’s World Cup you may, like us, have been refreshed by how sporting it all was. Wembley had that in spades – everyone applauded everything, and indeed, when Laura Bassett’s name was called out everyone cheered loudly – except H.
“MUMMY!! LAURA BASSETT IS PLAYING!!!!!” she squealed with excitement while being amazed she was watching players she knew. If only Fran Kirby had been eligible to play!
For a five year old, watching her second ever football match, it’s a big one. You know she’ll drift off a bit due to her age, but actually, she only drifted off right at the end (when I was hoping Notts County would score, but also hoping they wouldn’t as H was so tired!).
So that’s one off the bucket list – we’ve taken H to watch a football match at Wembley! We went as neutrals, had a great time, enjoyed watching the presentation of the cup at the end, and H was especially happy as Wembley has a playground right outside the Designer Outlet part (where she got a second burst of energy).
Sunday 26th July. Drove to Guildford to watch Inside Out at the cinema. H really enjoyed it, I cried several times (proper tears falling from my eyes in a ‘I am so obviously crying’ kind of way) and I think Shaun liked it too. We went to GBK for lunch beforehand, where H got to do a spot of colouring in while waiting for our burgers.
Monday 27th July. I’m taking the train home to Wallington at the moment, having to pick H up from Holiday Club, which she’s enjoying and is with lots of her friends. Spotted this at Waddon. Keeping all options open there.
Tuesday 28th July. My new super healthy regime (more to come on that before the month is out) meant I spotted this ad on our local bus stop. NEW MARMITE! Now it may or may not be common knowledge, but I have a Marmite Archive which has different varieties from over the years. Shaun (Vegemite lover) does not understand it, but he doesn’t need to as people who eat Vegemite have not been spoilt like us Marmite lovers.
Wednesday 29th July. A pile of Dictonaries and Thesauruses I ordered in for some mums at school to save on shipping – to be handed out this weekend. I like to keep busy!
Friday 31st July. We’re team Frozen – H’s goodies arrived today. She’s been doing some of the activities on the cards and seems really motivated by it which is good! You can sign up here, and it’s to help encourage your child to do 10 minutes of exercise every day – while H is pretty active anyway, this is giving us a bit of variety.
Saturday 1st August – Wember-leeeeeee! Finally made it – it has been just over six years since we last went (when York City were in the League Two play off final and H was six months in my tummy) – she loved it, enjoyed the mexican waves, and only got tired right at the end (so I was kind of glad Notts County didn’t equalise) – but soon perked up when she spotted the playground right next to the stadium – though she was tired and grumpy on the journey home.
When you’re in my vicinity and share living space with me, there isn’t a lot of choice – football is a part of it.
When Shaun first came to the UK we saw York City play – vs Hull City. He adopted Hull of course. We allowed him to change his team just the once, as long as it was Tottenham, which he duly, eventually did.
So, when H was born football was going to be her game. When she was a baby she watched games with me. She had no idea what was going on, but has grown up with it from birth. I was on maternity leave for the 2010 World Cup – talk about good timing! As soon as she could speak, the names Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Harry Redknapp were taught. She even made a Gareth Bale out of Hama Beads. Harry Kane is her hero at the moment, and rightly so.
Once she turned four I took her for lessons with Crystal Palace which started out well but didn’t end as well as I’d hoped. She enjoyed playing, and that was all that mattered to me. But when she stopped enjoying it, tearfully asking if she could stop, we had a break. Her friends had all gone to different clubs and it wasn’t the same.
All this time I’d been looking out for England Women games to go to, having missed one in Brighton by a matter of hours – so when they got to play at Wembley vs Germany, I booked us tickets – at last! Except on the morning of the game H was sick – properly sick. We couldn’t go as she was too unwell so caught it on television instead.
Fast forward to May of this year, and H had a training session with Casey Stoney, the former England captain – and she got back her love of playing the game. I asked around for clubs to play at, and found our local Carshalton Athletic – who are brilliant. Other girls go, the coach wants to set up a girls’ team, and things are progressing in a really positive way. Girls go free to encourage them to join in – one week we had seven girls; enough for a team!
We’ve gone almost every week and H loves it. Her friends all come along too – all girls. They really fight back at the boys to get the ball and aren’t fazed by it. They’re happy when they score goals and not happy when they lose. They take it all incredibly seriously, and it’s great to see. H plays because she wants to play, not because she has to. It’s different.
This weekend we’re going to the Women’s FA Cup Final at Wembley – we bought tickets way back when we spotted the game on the big screens outside the ground (on the way to Wembley Arena for Disney On Ice), catching the last days of Early Bird prices – so that’s £23 for the three of us. Notts County v Chelsea – and we’re going as neutrals as we still haven’t chosen a Women’s team to support.
The Women’s World Cup has made such an impression on H. Of course girls can do it too, but when you’re five you need to see it, and that’s what the World Cup did. The fact we came third and have players H remembers means that she wants to name her new Build a Bear, Fran Kirby! It could have so easily been a Frozen character. Football and Frozen are on the same level for my daughter now.
It makes me sad to see some of the England squad have full time jobs, but I love where it is coming from. It’s people playing football because they want to, not in it for the money, but that’s just what they do. If only the men’s game had more players like Harry Kane. He has a fantastic attitude and is a great role model with no scandals to speak of.
Things are changing with the women’s game. H is part of a new generation of girls who will have it easier playing football, because people like Casey Stoney fought to play games back when she was young.
It’s normal. It’s going to get better. This is why we support the #WeCanPlay FA Campaign. You can sign up to receive a newsletter and there’s also a handy link to find your local club.
Sunday 19th July. Today I messed up. I want to take H to a game of football before we go to Wembley, so decided on a friendly that Crystal Palace ladies were playing. We turned up at Bromley’s ground, only to find we were two hours too late – it was a 1pm kick off. So we kept on driving, making the most of our English Heritage membership, driving to Eltham Palace instead. The day was saved, but no football.
Monday 20th July. H’s last day of school for the year. One of my late days at work, though I realised I was on holiday club hours, so made it to the childminders’ place for 3pm, a bit earlier than we expected. So good for it all to be over, even if H has several weeks of holiday club for the holidays. School’s out!
Wednesday 22nd July. Did our second video for the Collins Picture Atlas review. It went much more smoothly, as in, H spoke well whereas I waffled on and made myself sound foolish. But I think a bit of perspective is in order. It was only a few years ago we all realised Mexico was part of North America. I’ve said that at work we need an atlas with each continent and country correctly defined. So this atlas would be pretty handy in that respect. But I didn’t want to actually *say* that. So I just said something else badly. Here’s H reading it.
Thursday 23rd July. We went to the pub after work to hand over the cushion we’d crocheted. I can’t crochet so didn’t join in, but was there in spirit. I think the pub loved it – it was our little tribute to Andy, the bar manager who died recently from Sepsis. He was so supportive of our little group – even if he kept forgetting to book our meetings in the diary 🙂 I’ll miss having my indie music chats with him. H and J from next door walked back home nicely together afterwards.
Friday 24th July. Wet. Not helped by standing on a wobbly paving stone at Sutton Station and this happening.
Saturday 25th July. A busy day. We started with H’s football class, my eye test and new glasses, going lavender picking at the local harvest, then back to Carshalton Athletic to watch a friendly. We FINALLY got to a game. Attendance 102 and H loved it – and was focused on the game for quite a bit of the time which was great and sets my mind at ease for next weekend at Wembley. Phew.
Sunday 12th July. We went to Shrek’s Adventure on the South Bank, which was fun – though we were shattered so made the most of our Merlin passes and sat on the London Eye for 30 minutes afterwards. You can guarantee you’ll get a seat there, you see. We’re over half way through having our passes and I’m wondering if we’ll renew next year – we’ve definitely got our money’s worth.
A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on
Monday 13th July. The last Rainbows of term, I get my Mondays back! H made a medal, and got ANOTHER badge which has been sewn onto her uniform so I don’t lose it between now and September. Phew!
Tuesday 15th July. And a swimming badge too – her 15m! We thought she’d got her Stage 3, but her teacher says they’re not quite there yet, so I guess that might come around Christmas time if she keeps up the hard work. I’m hoping for a break with all this sewing…
Wednesday 16th July. Received a big box of Dora and Friends goodies – more to blog about and very soon. You might spot the little pictures over on my sidebar. I had to carry it home on the train and fortunately didn’t drop anything. The box is also large enough to hold all H’s schoolwork from the last two years! (which we received on Friday)
Thursday 17th July. Knitting! My feeble attempts at crochet have created this. While I’m just not good enough to join in the squares we’re doing for the cushion for our local pub, for the former bar manager who died recently, I’m good enough to make a hat for a half of Guinness. Fine by me.
A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on
Friday 18th July. So I won a £20 Nickelodeon Store voucher, went to buy myself something nice (like say, an early Rugrats DVD as the first few series were awesome), and ended up buying H some Spongebob pyjamas instead. Can’t complain, as she does love the great spongey one, and it looks much better on her than me too! Anyway, the original pyjamas were too small, so Shaun swapped them for these today and advises the Nickelodeon Store on Leicester Square is much nicer to visit (read: quieter) on a weekday.
Saturday 19th July. Football again, H has decided which name she wants on her birthday England shirt – she wants 15 – Stoney. So I’ve ordered from Sports Direct who have England shirts for £22 at the moment, with additional letters. Sorted. Phew. Anyway, my favourite bit of football is the fact H runs, runs, runs and walks just a little bit. It has to be the most exercise she gets every week (about an hour and a half of doing stuff) and she doesn’t complain. Well, she does complain about stuff, but not about running around for that long. I love that she gets to play with Shaun at the very start too, having a little kickaround before it all starts. I watch from the side and occasionally scare the girls when I decide to join in (well, it makes them scream anyway). We’re thinking about going to watch Crystal Palace Ladies play this Sunday.
Sunday 5th July. H had a party, and we went to buy a new umbrella for our outdoor area. However, we don’t have as much money any more. Fortunately, we have some Love2Shop vouchers. We had an awful experience in Homebase the previous weekend, being kept at Customer Services for 45 minutes before we walked out, so I reserved in store at Argos. Shaun paid for the umbrella, only for them to have a power cut – not their fault, mind! About 45 minutes later we finally had our umbrella!
Monday 6th July. Our paddling pool has has holes in it. Arse.
Tuesday 7th July. When you get a song stuck in your head, your child tries to video you singing it and ends up taking a bad photo. AKA too tired to remember to take a picture, this is all there was.
Wednesday 8th July. Impromptu meet up after school today, which resulted in H and her friend writing some songs. Bear in mind she’s five, likes One Direction and is learning a Bruno Mars song for school. This is the result.
Thursday 9th July. My desk fan. Best thing ever. A USB desk fan. All MINE.
Friday 10th July. Gave H her copy of ‘First News’ which she settled to read. We weren’t sure if she was too young, but had to bear in mind although she’s still five, she’s doing mostly Year 2 work at school anyway, including watching Newsround. She knew it was the ten year anniversary of the London Bombings this week – I had no idea she knew anything about it. So I thought it was probably time she read a bit more.
A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on
Saturday 11th July. Football of course. Seven girls turned up this week – enough to make a team. They were given pink bibs. H wasn’t happy about this (she hates pink, loves blue). I chatted with another parent about how a lot of people are saying it’s sexist the girls get to go for free, whereas boys pay – but there are 20 boys, to usually 2 or 3 girls. 7 girls is a huge step forward – having a team of girls is massive. They were given pink bibs and called the Pink Ladies which I approved of for the Grease connection, but that was it. They were fabulous, so proud of them all – even though they didn’t win and had help (two of the girls were really little, and all the boys were much older). We were all cheering on the pink ladies at the side of the pitch, it was lovely.
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.
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.
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.
A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on
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.
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…
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.
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 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!
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.
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)!
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.
A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on
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.
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.
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!
At some point in the future we are likely to be moving to Australia. This means I need to make sure all those things I’ve always wanted to do get done. So I’m starting my bucket list. This will be added to and amended when things have been done, but gives me a focus on the things I might never get a chance to do again once I’m over the other side of the world! Some are stupid little things where I’m revisiting my childhood, and others are things I’ve never done.
1. Go to the Dick Bruna Huis in Utrecht (edit – we’re going in August, but the Huis is closed for refurbishment. H says “oh, we’ll just have to go next year then” – good girl!) 2. Go to Amsterdam (booked) 3. Go to Eurovision (just the once) 4. Take H to Salzburg so she can do the Sound of Music tour too. 5. Take H to see Annie on the stage. (booked for November!) 6. Go to Cornwall. 7. Take H to a festival. 8. Go to Germany again. 9. Take H to Blackpool. 10. Do the Miffy Trail in the Netherlands this year (could be combined with 1 & 2) 11. Finish reading the Morrissey book. 12. Go to CenterParcs in Belgium next year (as inspired by Jennifer) 13. Take H to a game of Football at Wembley. 14. Take H to a Tottenham game (we’ve done a stadium tour and we’re women’s season ticket holders so that counts) 15. Take H to a York City game. (Done!) 16. See Matilda at the theatre (done!) 17. Go to the York Pantomime (the proper Berwick Kaler one) (done!) 18. Go camping. (done!)
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