When muffin-top can no longer be over-looked!

Hidden issues...

You know its time to start thinking about getting with the diet & exercise programme when a) you look at yourself in the mirror and have the freaky notion that you might be five months pregnant, b) you find out that you weigh the same as your dad :-/

I was a bit like this after I had JJ – I kept going with the pregnancy mentality for quite some time – not worrying too much about what sorts of things I was filling up on (mostly cakes and pastries) or the fact that I had no time or energy to fit any exercise in. Eventually when he was about two I started to attend a zumba class once a week with a friend and I ate healthily for a while – until a few months later I found out I was pregnant again and the cycle came full circle.

This time round it feels like these bad habits have been going on for longer but in actuality EJ is now approaching his second birthday so I guess there is a pattern after all.

I guess the difference for me this time has been feeling like none of it really matters any more. I don’t need to look good because I don’t have a social life. I don’t need to have a bikini body because we won’t be going on a beach holiday any time in the foreseeable future. I’m not getting any younger and I don’t need to attract a man – those days are long gone! The other thing holding me back has been the struggle I would have to find the time to fit in regular exercise being mostly house-bound as the wife of a shift worker.

Since the blogging journey kicked in this year I’ve really started to feel more interested in things I had thought were not important to me any more though (if ever). Its inspiring to read about other peoples’ fitness achievements and enthusiasm for healthy living. I suddenly like the idea of buying some new clothes and sprucing up my wardrobe a bit with something a little bit fashionable and on-trend (even if its only fun and funky accessories) and I still feel like I’m the same age as people ten years younger than me for whom these things do still matter… No, I’m not past the finish post yet thank you very much!

My other problem/blessing is that I have a body shape that makes it quite easy to disguise extra weight going on. I’ve said before that I hate having huge boobs but, in actual fact, they make a crafty disguise to excess weight around the tummy & hips – clothes naturally fall a little bit loose around the tummy and the whole hip thing just looks proportionate. But now I feel it is the season to call time on the cakes, the sugary coffees, the large portions, creamy frappucinos and sneaky McMeals (the kids made me do it!!).

So I’ll be tuning in to the Cool Bananas blog for juicing tips and taking more careful note of Zoe’s Ashton’s healthy meals (I feel some sweet potato chips coming on 🙂 ) over at ZoeAshton.com.

If anyone has any other recommendations or can give me a bit of much needed cheerleading and encouragement, diet tips – anything really – then please do so (bearing in mind that my thoughts at this moment in time involve cutting out sugary treats and crisps and eating smaller portions, possibly going for a run or cycle at least once a week, possibly cracking out my ten minute dance workout DVD when I’m stuck indoors of an evening and possibly convincing the hubster to let me go back to zumba classes [do people still do Zumba???]).

I’ll be so grateful! 🙂


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Love the Little Things Week 21


I’ve just realised that having posted in this linky for the first time last week and feeling quite pleased with all my lovely little achievements I’ve now got to spend the next 26 weeks admitting that I’m still reading Life after Life by Kate Atkinson… Did I mention I’m a very slow reader?? Other than that there were these which were handed out at my first parents induction for big school!! Eeek!! Now I really do have to be a proper responsible grown up!:

Ready for school


I’m also playing catch up on anything watched too – but I did manage to finally pop that Side Effects movie into the DVD player and it was quite an enjoyable little thriller – easy on the eye too thanks to Jude Law! Not sure about the premise and the idea of what people will do for money but very impressed with Rooney Mara – great actress. Now I’ve finally been sent my next choice movie – ‘abduction/vigilante’ thriller Prisoners with Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhal – can’t wait!


Nothing much new for me but EJ has been rocking the upside down sunglasses look (avec sucette, naturellement!):



Lorde’s latest toon has taken a while to grow on me – when I first heard it I was thinking “hmph, its no “Royals” is it?’ but now I really quite like it and the idea of going down to a tennis court to talk something up? Well frankly I’ve got no idea what she’s on about but who cares?!



Well, I didn’t exactly ‘make’ it as such, but I feel like I’ve created a new space for the boys. As a twosome. Sharing a room. From now on…

Boys beds 2

And lastly...

We’ve all been learning to live with a new pattern come bedtime which has been a bit hit and miss, but in actual fact, whilst I will miss being able to gaze lovingly into my little one’s cot as I make my way to bed, I am secretly thrilled to have a lovely big room back and to luxuriate in the peace of knowing that whatever I do I’m unlikely to disturb bubs and he is unlikely to disturb me! The small pleasure of being able to roam around the room after his bedtime, picking my outfit for the following day or just pottering is also very satisfying! It feels like the natural order of the universe is gradually being restored!



Word of the week:


Just lately I have been getting woken up by crying somewhere in the region of my feet at least an hour earlier than my brain and eyes are willing to cooperate. I have tried all the usual pacifications with EJ, whose cot has sat at the foot of my bed since he was born 22 months ago. This pattern has not happened since he gave up his early morning bottle of formula a couple of months ago and I’m not willing to go back to that, so I’ve been leaving the room – my presence seems to inflame the situation. I have tried getting extra sleep on the sofa, the sofa cushions alone and then just a duvet on the floor downstairs. None of this has been satisfactory. Then I knew it was time; time to do what I’d been putting off for months – move EJ out of my room and into JJ’s room.

While JJ was at pre-school and EJ with his childminder on Tuesday I broke out the screwdriver and took the side off the cot ready for transfer. Next I got myself trapped in a corner on the landing and realised I should have taken the base off too and then followed a dangerous game of attempting to escape this ridiculous situation whilst not killing myself by toppling down the steep flight of stairs the cot was dangling above.

Eventually I got everything in place after a huge tidy up, clothes sort and Hoover operation. To make the room a little more inviting I finally dusted off the pretty bunting I sourced some time ago to compliment the aqua of the walls (not too girly – but come on, I never asked for two boys and there have to be some concessions to what *I* want – mwah ha ha!). Originally I had put it up using sellotape and blue tack. Not my finest hour in home decorations it has to be said. This time I brought out the big guns – a hammer and tacks! Hopefully it’ll actually stay up for longer than five minutes this time…

Bunting for Boys!

Then it was just a waiting game to see reactions, gauge emotions, and overcome any issues. Night one – EJ would NOT settle – I think it was all just too exciting. JJ got upset because he was tired and had a lively toddler foisted upon him through no fault of his own. I lay on the floor for 45 minutes – eventually he fell asleep and EJ calmed down. EJ awoke crying in the morning (I had already left for work) and JJ tried his best to help out by climbing in the cot and attempting to read a story (even though he can’t actually read yet). Bless.

Night two – EJ down (completely knackered funnily enough) whilst JJ stayed downstairs for a bit. EJ was fast asleep and JJ then demanded I wake him up so he could say goodnight! I managed to get him to compromise by kissing the sleeping munchkin. Then JJ wanted to watch his DVD on full volume. I managed to get him to use my headphones. Eventually JJ was ready to sleep but concerned about what might happen in the morning. I promised him I would leave the stair gate open so he would have access to get help or just get away if he felt stressed in the morning. I was assured that there was no crying in the morning and the boys were happily watching a Chuggington DVD together in the cot. Success!! Long may it last!

Some snaps of the room:

The other transitional aspect to the week was the fact that I had my first parents’induction evening at JJ’s school on Wednesday evening. We were given practical information about gaining entry to the school, uniforms etc, but we were also given quite a detailed run through of the types of activity and learning that we could expect our children to partake in come September. I have to say that everything I saw and heard made me feel kind of excited for JJ and happy about our choice of school. I just hope that he feels the same way when the time comes to make that leap to ‘big’ school.


The Reading Residence

Not going out

Just click three times...

It may be a cliche but I think that I can count the number of times I’ve been out socially, without the children since EJ was born, nearly 22 months ago, on one hand (possibly one finger*) *slight exaggeration.

Lately this has been getting me down somewhat. I miss having a social life, going to the cinema, arranging to get together with friends, being part of a book group, offering my extremely niche general knowledge (the capital of New Hampshire and the year The Wizard of Oz was released anyone?) to our former pub quiz team, you get the idea. Even when JJ had turned two and we had yet to convert that second twinkle into EJ, I was managing to attend regular zumba classes with a friend and the social world looked set to open up again slightly.

But then along came EJ and I was forced to recognise two major ‘no entry’ signs on the road back to a social life. Firstly, a second child, and in particular, having two pre-school children, so lacking any kind of independence, or the maturity to be reasoned with, can be stressful for one adult to deal with alone, particularly of an evening when the witching hour is in full swing. I’m sure there are some lucky people out there who have calm, compliant children – my exploration of the ‘no tantrum’ phenomenon has clued me into this unfamiliar circumstance, however, I have a little terror in the shape one impossibly unreasonable four year oldwho can quite quickly work his litte brother up into a state of manic high energy with chasing, wrestling and frantic leaping off beds and climbing up onto window frames – apparently having saved this physical and mental mania especially for bedtime – the point at which I have generally already been rudely introduced to the end of my tether!  Now imagine expecting someone else to deal with this alone – even my parents. Even my husband!!

Which leads me on to my second No Entry sign. The fact that the hubster works some pretty random and varied shifts, often out at work in the evenings and at weekends. And when he’s not working, he has maintained regular gym attendances and does both ad hoc and organised runs.

I guess its impossible when you are in this situation not to look at each other with some degree of envy or at least a feeling of being left out, when/if one of us gets the rare opportunity to ‘go out’. This negative emotion is also responsible for a lack of forward planning that involves any kind of child free time. Sometimes its just easier not to ‘rock the boat’ (“watch out, give a shout, into the water we go!”).

For all of these reasons I was amazed to stumble into a rare opportunity for a night out last Saturday. The hubster had been working and I was staying overnight at my parents’ with the boys. Some time ago I had received an invitation to the 40th Birthday party of an old friend and work colleague who lives closer to my parents than to me, but I hadn’t properly RSVP’d as I had all of these fears and worries whirling around in my head. In the event though, it seemed that the hubster didn’t mind and my parents would already have the children both in bed at their house anyway, so I grabbed up my “Dorothy Shoes” (and yes, sure enough I was approached by another party-goer with shoe-envy asking me where she could get a pair – I don’t think I’ve ever owned a pair of shoes which has led to strangers approaching me before!) and headed off to the heady heights of the local Indoor Bowls Club.

Despite the fact that I was driving, only really knew a handful of people and knew I had to go home to share a room with EJ (who may or may not wake up crying in the early hours), it was liberating to go out, get dressed up (slightly – I really don’t have party clothes any more!), catch up with good friends and have a bit of a dance!

I’m so glad I was able to attend an event which meant a lot to a friend too as I don’t want to be that person who fades away, or gets reassigned to the mental compartment entitled “Sucked into black hole of family life never to be seen again” (you have one of those, right?).

And now, I continue to look to the future and wonder whether I will be able to pick up where I left off with my social life in my mid forites – a decade having passed in a purgatory of tears and tantrums.

Right now I feel this longing for a weekend off – just to maintain my sanity! But all the while I know that child free time will hove back into view eventually and I’m trying to focus on the magic moments rather than the manic moments. As they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…


Ode to a horse chestnut

When I was growing up there was a large, majestic horse chestnut tree growing directly opposite my bedroom window. These trees speak to me of home, and are abundant around the places I have lived, but particulary the Royal parks of South West London which formed the backdrop to so many summer days of my childhood.

Every April something miraculous happens overnight and it seems stark branches suddenly bush out into lush newly formed leafy oases, white ‘candle’ blossoms abounding.

I took a walk along the riverside in the rain and the opposite bank, lined with these wonderful trees, presented a magical aura through the misty haze. They trigger in me a yearning down the years, a romance, a snapshot of a perfect Spring day in the leafy provinces of an English country garden.

I’m sure they exist in other countries but for me, they are forever England, and, done up in their spring finery, they whisper secrets from their hundreds of years of existence. Did they witness Henry VIII galloping past to shoot down a stag? They are part of our past, present and future and are as much about the experience of high summer to me as a the smell of mown grass, barbeques sizzling or the lazy progress of the bumble bee as it drifts from bloom to bloom.


I know, I know, I’ve come over all poetic!

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Another day, another fun farm park…

Yep, this time round it was the turn of Fisher’s Farm Park in Sussex to receive our attentions. Actually it was the idea of the outlaws who had picked up on what is suddenly and out of the blue, turning into a bit of a half sibling mutual appreciation society between JJ and his half sister – The Girl. As it is the school holidays and they were aware of the fact that she has a lot to contend with at home at the moment with the recent arrival of a new baby into her mother’s life, they suggested a day out all together and they knew that Fisher’s was a place The Girl has loved going in the past. Indeed when they told her where they were thinking of taking her she hooted with joy!

Despite the fact that it is, at heart, a farm we really didn’t spend much of our time looking at any animals (bit like going to Chessington these days and completely glossing over the fact that there is still a zoo there). No, I spent a great deal of my time chasing after this little escapee:


Sitting still here but not for long before he was off to:

Ride the Toddler Race Track,


Do some tunnelling,


Scale a small fort,


And partake of the Toddler Zipwire, before joining his siblings for a ride on The Big Red Tractor (this was the bit where we actually got to see some sheep, cows, goats and chickens for all of about 30 seconds)


I also managed to witness JJ coming down a steep slope in a rubber ring:

While their sister tried out this tall, elasticky climing thing and the big kids zipwire:

It was all a bit manic but I did manage to find time to stop and appreciate the beauty of this lovely blossom tree as we were leaving:

Which is really all I have to say about that.

Linking up to Country Kids over at Coombe Mill.
Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Word of the Week: Farming

Not that I have been doing any particular farm-work, mind you, more the fact that we have been to two versions of a children’s farm this week – two very different places!

On the one hand there was Miller’s Ark which focuses very much on bringing the experience of ‘animal touch’ to children – real, close up experiences with traditional farm animals – huge turkeys nonchalantly crossing the path in front of you, sheep and goats going into labour before your very eyes, fluffy chicks and bunnies gamboling in their little runs as you walk up the driveway to the farm entrance, hands on petting of baby Kune Kune pigs – you get the idea. On the other hand Hobbledown – an entirely different experience, a place with both sheep and goats in pens, but also goats in an enclosure complete with a little trip-trap bridge, bringing the world of literature into the equation with its reference to the Billy Goats Gruff. Plus meerkats, a llama, several wallabies and a peacock (less ‘farm’ and more ‘palace grounds’ one feels…).

I liked them both although I think maybe my boys got more out of the Hobbledown experience simply because they aren’t really that fussed about animals in general!

I also like the fact that we were able to have two days out in sunshine – even a picnic al fresco at Hobbledown – which speaks volumes about the fact that we are finally entering Spring proper and the Miller’s Ark experience was awash with the season (chicks, bunnies, gambolling lambs, etc.).

And yes, I think with the fresh air I have risen from my former Flump!

The Reading Residence

A day out at Hobbledown (a ‘mysterical adventure’…)

Hobbledown sign

Today was a bit out of the ordinary for me as I am normally at work all day on a Thursday whilst the hubster tends to the boys at home but this week he was off up to Cheshire to take part in an organised running race, not due to return for 36 hours. I think I might have mentioned before my reluctance to spend more than a couple of hours indoors on my own with the boys – everything inevitably descends into chaos, tantrums and shouting! This is probably my fault for not being more of a hands on mum – maybe if I was prepared to design a creative challenge for them and be there helping with cutting, gluing and glittering every step of the way I wouldn’t have this problem. But then again toddlers and pre-schoolers are wont to be demanding at the best of times and is it ever a relaxing and chilled experience no matter how well planned and organised? Don’t answer that!

So having said that, I put plan A into action – a proper day out (with my Mum as parental wing-man if you will!) –  and since I had been thinking and talking about children’s farms earlier in the week I was reminded of Hobbledown – a place described as “A Mysterical Farm Park Adventure” and this clues you into what to expect! It is very much a themed park – the theme being a cross between the medieval fiction of “A Knight’s Tale” and The Shire from Lord of the Rings. Personally I loved all the little touches, the stylised play areas, the rustic signs, the fantastical element – all of which turn what would otherwise be just another children’s farm into a place generously touched by imaginative and literary spirit.

For their part, the kids were in their element – no sooner had we arrived than EJ was happily wiping his cheese sandwich across a sandy surface (for added flavour, you know?) and then there were several small meltdowns whilst we tried to convince him that even though this particular bit was pretty fun, there was something even better awaiting around the next corner!

As we chased him along the pathways (he can really shift it when he’s let off the reigns!) our retinas were briefly imprinted with the images of peacocks, wallabies, meerkats and llamas (along with the lesser spotted goat, sheep and shetland pony).

Finally we reached our first true destination – an outdoor playzone which could double for a film set! JJ enjoyed the big boys zone – up the vertical wooden labyrinth only to be spat out of a huge metallic shute, up and under the giant woven acorn basket swing.




And then we headed off for our second true destination – the indoor playzone – a soft play to end all soft plays, inclusive of on-theme ‘Hobbling’ fairy doors for our own personal munchkins, an adorable wooden village zone where you can wander (if you’re under 5’4″ – otherwise, hunch) from a schoolroom to a bakery, a blacksmith’s to a doctor’s surgery. And all the little touches (a baker’s oven; a wooden till; a nice little wooden anvil with rubber hammer and pliers attached) made this place an imaginative child’s dream destination.

We spent about 3 hours at Hobbledown and were thoroughly impressed. Fortunately it was only about a 20-25 minute drive from my Mum and Dad’s – based in the Ewell/Chessington region of Surrey – and for once, I got the timing right for our departure and return home, leaving the kids the opportunity to nap on the Motorway mid afternoon and still have plenty of time for quiet play, tea and a bit of TV before the bedtime routine. As a result they were remarkably cheerful and good natured during the usual witching hour – and for that I’m truly grateful!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



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