A family trip to the New Forest

Last weekend it was my mother-in-law’s birthday. There are certain places on the South coast that have special memories and connotations for the hubster’s famiRoad trip with the boys!ly and Barton on Sea down on the other side of the New Forest is one of them, so it was decided that it would be a lovely idea to have a little day trip down there on Sunday, stopping for a pub lunch along the way.

After I’d done a few early hours of overtime at work we all piled into the car and set off. It was over an hours journey so we swung by the McD drive thru for a creamy Mocha to see us through!

The pub we visited is called The Rising Sun in Bashley. It has a great children’s play area which is always advisable, I find, when out for a meal with young children as they have zero patience whilst waiting for food and a tendency to run around amongst the tables amusing annoying other diners!

Rising Sun play area

We met up with my sister in law and nephews, T & O. O is just three months older than EJ and they look a bit like two peas in a pod and get on really well too which is lovely. T is ten and as JJ is five they all just mix along nicely with the older siblings helping the younger ones out when they get into any difficulties. JJ did get into a little slappy match with another boy about the same age but by the time we left JJ told me that this little boy was his best friend! Funny how they blow hot and cold.

After lunch we decided to skip dessert and instead headed back onto the road to New Milton and on to Barton on Sea where our first stop was the Beachcomber Cafe where they do a range of different ice creams. The toddlers just wanted to run around maniacally at this point – spot the similarity:

We took a little stroll down to the coast path with my mother in law’s little Yorkie, Chester afterwards:

JJ & Chester at Barton

I was amused to note the impressive warning sign for all the many and varied dangers to be found in this particular spot:

dangers of barton

This included the danger of being accidentally lumped by a low-flying hand-glider or taken out by a wayward wind-surfer! I;m sure the little person depicted is possibly the most unlucky stick figure in the world!

Despite the inherent dangers (!) it is a lovely little place for a day out – we’ve flown a kite down here before and this was the first place that JJ ever saw the sea (at four months!).

The best sign that it had been a successful day was this:

sleeping EJ

And after taking this, I soon joined him in the land of Nod!

Linking up to Country Kids over at Coombe Mill.

Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

 

Word of the Week: Inconsistent

inconsistent

In the last week and a half I have had the opportunity to meet up with two lovely new friends I’ve made through blogging – Elfa from Californian Mum in London (who invited me along to a fab beauty promo event at John Lewis) and Hannah from First Time Mummy who lives ten minutes from me and invited me over for tea and a chat. Talking to other bloggers has made me realise that I’m ready to stretch myself a bit more – I’m ready to go self-hosted, make a bit more of an effort with promotion and appearance (which is not to say that I’m not still a little bit in love with the Wizard of Oz header that I designed and Helen from Ellie Illustrates created months and months ago now), and potentially take on a few review gigs.

The problem I have right now, though, is time. Just as I’m thinking all these thoughts, I find myself in a position which, for reasons I can’t really go into, the time to blog is just not there. And by ‘blog’ I mean not just write, but have the headspace to get inspired.

I’m also starting to wonder if the things I choose to blog about aren’t just a bit too eclectic. On the one hand I love to attempt light-hearted, amusing posts with a soupçon of wit; on the other hand I yearn for the opportunity to test my writing skills with – well, not exactly hard-hitting journalism, but something a little bit more meaningful which might, some day allow me to cross the divide between amateur and professional writer.

At the same time I take note that the blogs which seem to remain consistently popular do tend to have a niche and stick to it (Eeh Bah Mum for example – although she does occasionally branch into recipe posts; and Mummy Daddy Me who focuses on the beautiful photo story of her little family and sticks with straight up, consistent musings of a wife and mum).

On the other hand, within a week I have swung from a ‘funny’ (silly) post about my love/hate relationship with Cbeebies (which, by the way, I had great fun writing) and an examination of what ‘feminism’ means in 2014. I might also throw in a recipe or a photo-post.

As a personal blogger this is no biggie, you can write what you want, when you want, but the second you begin to think of your blog as a ‘brand’ it feels as though you need to pick an audience and stick to it or risk alienating one reader or another at any given moment. I’d love to know other peoples’ thoughts on this…

 

The Reading Residence

The Book Monster

About 12 yeBook Monsterars ago I was lucky enough to be running a semi-professional website all about children’s books called The Book Monster. I wrote, edited, reviewed, interviewed and organised competitions and had the pleasure to talk to some great authors including Melvin Burgess (he of controversial Junk fame – this website very much incorporated teenage and young adult fiction), Nina Bawden (who wrote Carrie’s War) and that twisted mastermind Lemony Snicket.

 I met JK Rowling amongst others at the Smarties Book Prize awards (circa Chamber of Secrets) as well as attending several rather fabulous book launches (Louise Rennison – author of the Angus, Thongs series was a bit of a luvvie and her first two books were launched at the Groucho Club in Soho and The Ivy respectively!).

I also worked alongside Jason Wallace, a friend and colleague who specialised at the time in Sci Fi fiction and wrote and edited a website on the subject called The Fifth Dimension. He has consequently gone on to write an amazing piece of young adult fiction himself, Out of Shadows which won the Costa Book Awards Children’s Prize in 2010.

Unfortunately the company I worked for at the time cut their budgets and, as the websites were a sideline to the core business, they were closed down. I enjoyed that part of my working life probably more than any other as it gave me the chance to be a bit creative, and an excuse to revel in bookwormery!

The thing about working with books in that way, was that I was surrounded by the most brilliant artefacts as well as having a first peek at glorious artwork – I’m a massive fan of children’s book illustrations by the likes of Chris Riddell, Jonny Duddle and Ian Falconer. I also love young adult fiction (The Fault in our Stars is next on my list and I’ve been meaning to read Meg Rosen’s How we Live Now for years). Maybe one day I will try my hand at writing my own story for this market…

Linking up to Mum Turned Mom for this week’s Prompt, Books.

 

 

mumturnedmom

Feminism: a beginner’s guide

feminist is not a dirty word

When I was at university the only thing I really understood about feminism was that it involved Germaine Greer and lots of “texts” like The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan (which honed in on the unhappiness of American housewives of the 1950s) and The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf which argued that society’s demands on women to conform to an almost unattainable standard of beauty had increased in line with women’s achievements. Then there was Andrea Dworkin – an unashamedly radical feminist who  focused on the subject of sex and pornography. To be honest these intellectual, academic women seemed like radicals or extremists at the time, synonymous with man-hating, hairy-legged, lentil-munching nutters.

But actually? They had a point. Now we see the launch of the UN’s “He for She” campaign for which actress Emma Watson recently delivered such a heartfelt speech attempting to address and redefine the true definition of feminism – one which simply argues for gender equality.

 

Trending on my Facebook news feed I saw that David Tenant was supporting the campaign which, essentially, is trying to get men on board and show that, in the final analysis, it’s all about human rights. There were a good 800 comments attached to his He for She selfie and I flicked through a few pages curious to the general reaction. Aside from many people commenting on how old he looks (and he’s only 42 so I can only assume the commentators are smug twenty-somethings) there is obviously still a misconception about feminism – the same misconception that led Katy Perry to reject the label whilst still embracing the ideology.

People seem to think that feminism seeks to discriminate against men – overlooking the abuse of men within relationships and all the other ways that men might suffer within society, but to me, that’s like saying Battersea Dogs Home is discriminating against cats (they’re not – I believe they take cats in too) – it seems like a way of undermining the end goal.

Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy, recently argued that it is the term “feminism” itself which is the problem, claiming that if you stick “ism” or “ist” on the end of anything then it gives a negative connotation (see: racism). He suggested a new term, “genderist” which would be used to name and shame those who, either overtly or subtly undermine women. There’s been a lot of debate over that one too.

For me, the “He for She” campaign, whilst passionate and true, can never change the status quo because the men who will support it (see: David Tenant) are already enlightened and don’t have that niggling feeling of being threatened by change. The men I read about daily who threaten and control the women in their lives – the perpetrators of domestic violence – what will this campaign mean to them? They will laugh in its face.

And then there are those who would pay it lip service. I heard a snippet of a talk radio show a few days ago for which the question of the day (hour?) was ‘should men be expected to pay for dinner on a first date?’ and the male DJ was attempting to argue that, if women are truly seeking equality, then we should expect to go halves on such occasions. I have to admit that this made my blood boil a bit and I was desperate for someone to phone in and put my case for me. Unfortunately no-one did (not while I was listening anyway). My very first thought was, how extremely shallow for a man to be willing to take the first step to accept feminism by thinking of it as a money saving exercise for the average bloke. I wanted to tell him that this is an absolute nonsense in a world where women are still not treated equally in the workplace, still have lower salary expectations and where the traditionally female jobs like nurse, carer and teacher are valued (and paid) so much lower than their traditionally male equivalents.

Although this is rapidly descending into a message of doom, I do feel like all the recent debate and high profile over women’s rights and expectations can only be a good thing in helping to chip away at the male-dominated infrastructure. And as a mother of boys I feel some responsibility to show them that gender equality is a good and desirable thing.

What do you think about the UN campaign? Do you disagree with me about who should pay on the first date? Please leave a comment below.

 

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