Monday, November 26, 2007


One of the Little Ducks' favourite authors is Julia Donaldson, who writes beautiful rhyming stories, with fantastic illustrations - The Gruffalo being her most famous.

Room on The Broom is our favourite with a witch and a dragon and an excuse to yell WHOOSH! on every page.

Her latest story is Tiddler - a tale of a small fish who invents the tallest of tall tales to explain his repeated lateness for school, then ends up in a scrape for real.

Our own Tiddler is always looking for reasons to miss school, despite his new-found good behaviour and a stream of recent party invitations.

This weekend he informed me that he has growing pains, which means he can't walk.

I did detect a small flaw in his argument, when he gyrated round the front room trying to copy Matt's salsa moves on Strictly Come Dancing.

10/10 for effort though.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Reebok, Now and Then

Nobody told me that running* would involve so much shopping.

As well as the swanky armband, I now have several sports bras, cycle shorts, capri tights and Guinness running socks (with pints and toucans).

I've been using aerobics trainers to pound the avenues and alleyways of East Lancs. My running shoes, carbon-dated to 1989 have no sole on the right shoe and have been worn for painting for many of the intervening years since I last did any running.

I decided I was due an upgrade, so I have treated myself to these**:

In an age where the aim of technology seems to be to make everything smaller, it's bizarre that trainers seem to be getting bigger. These dwarf my old ones! They cost about the same, which 18 years on means I was either ripped off then or have a great bargain now. I'm staying positive.

* Up to 4 miles now without stopping for oxygen. Even ran in the rain and cold yesterday - which felt brilliant and exhilirating. I-Pod running playlist now as follows: She Sells Sanctuary - Cult; Love is a Stranger - Eurythmics; Insomnia - Faithless; A Midnight's Summer Dream - Stranglers; Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division; The Passenger - Iggy Pop; Black and White - Upper Room; Laid - James; Obviously - McFly; Hey There Delilah - Plain White T's; It Means Nothing - Stereophonics; Waterfall - Stone Roses.
** And before you panic about putting new shoes on the table - I have already been out in them, so they're technically used now.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Speaking Words of Wisdom

ITV have been heavily trailing I'm Absolutely Not, By Any Stretch of the Imagination, Under Any Criteria You May Wish To Specify A Celebrity for the past week or so, which I will not be settling down to watch tonight. Frankly, I'd rather cut off my own arm with a PlayDoh scalpel.

JP has been studying the trailers and doing some thinking.

'I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here?... Is that where celebrities have to survive in the jungle without straighteners?'

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Nil By Mouth

Yummy Mummy had a Pampered Chef party on Tuesday. A host of kitchen gadgetry and gizmos, to solve culinary problems you never knew you had were demonstrated and a Boxing Day turkey leftover dish was prepared and cooked before our eyes.

All was well and dignified, until someone asked if one particular item was suitable for the bedroom as well as the kitchen. From that point on, we all looked at the equipment in a new light and the demonstrator struggled to keep Ann Summers from the door.

Order was eventually restored and with the sales pitch over, we switched to gossip.

Neighbour #1's daughter has been in early labour since Thursday last. This was a personal blow as JP and Tiddler were due to play with her Little Ducks on Friday. 'How bad is it?' I probed hopefully when she phoned to cancel the play date - having already made plans.

Naturally there were a range of Old Wives present with helpful suggestions about raspberry leaf tea, fresh pineapple and curries. It seems the Belaboured has tried pineapple, but is now pursuing a rather more energetic route, pouncing on her husband every time he walks through the door and marching him upstairs. He is now naked, sorry knackered.

'What is she doing with the pineapple?'

8 pairs of eyes turn to the speaker. 'When I was having my first, I made my mouth bleed eating fresh pineapple until the midwife told me I wasn't supposed to be eating it. The reason pineapple is promoted to induce labour is the presence of prostoglandin - also present in sperm, but it needs to make direct contact with the cervix....'

Luckily Pampered Chef has a gadget for dismembering pineapples and leaving a hard central core.

We decide to employ modern thinking and the discussion turns to acquiring battery power. Ann Summers is now well and truly in the room, sipping a glass of wine.

We send a text to the Belaboured, offering our suggestions and support, but stopping short of actual assistance.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Talking Amongst Myself

I have always talked to myself, right from childhood. Out loud, that is, as opposed to just thinking in my head, which everybody does - at least I assume they do*.

It has always seemed like a perfectly natural and normal thing to do. My brain engages, the tongue slips into gear and off we go. I could do it all day - and sometimes do.

Over time, I have learnt to restrict this to when I am alone or at home, as it does seem to generate strange looks in public. But this is not always possible when I have a lot on my mind and it can just spill out wherever I am. In which case I just stop, smile and try to pretend it isn't me. Anyway, to my mind, it's no worse than singing along with your iPod.

The Little Ducks are quite used to my solo conversations. Tiddler sings and talks to himself a lot - mostly singing, but has been known to just chatter away when the mood takes him. JP will occasionally seek confirmation - 'you are just talking to yourself aren't you, Mummy?' - just to check that no input is required from them.

During tea, at H and Em's, an argument breaks out when H wants to save a place for her invisible friend, so she can talk to her. JP is having none of it, despite the fact that we are guests and H is only 4. You can't keep a scientist down.

'There's no such thing as Invisible Friends'.

Seeing the tears welling in H's eyes, I try to smooth things over. 'I talk to myself all the time' - I tell her.

JP retorts -'Yes, but H's mad because she's got an invisible friend who doesn't exist, who she talks to. Mummy's not mad because she talks to herself and that's a real person.'

There's some logic in there somewhere.

* I don't read out loud though (unless I'm required to do so by the Little Ducks). That would be a bit mental.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Rocket Science

We are still getting round to playing with some of the presents from the Little Ducks' birthdays.

I have to admit when Tiddler tore the paper off a Rocket Launcher from the Science Museum, I was slightly worried that his classmate had mistaken the 5 on his birthday invitation for 25.

But on closer inspection, it appears to be Tiddler-proof. There is neither gunpowder, fuel nor detonators- just foam rockets, a foot pump and a launch pad. The Purple Garden becomes Cape Canaverel and we prepare for launch.

They're fantastic. They shoot up to 300 feet into the sky (according to the instructions). So, after retrieving them from neighbour #2's garden for the 5th time, we adjourn to the park.

We couldn't have been more popular if we'd hijacked a travelling circus, hitched an ice cream van to the back and kidnapped the cast of Harry Potter to hand out 99s with raspberry sauce.

Dozens of kids queued to stamp the foot pump, vying to see who could get the rockets the highest. Some could only stand and stare.

JP prepared himself Jonny Wilkinson-style for his turn -

pacing out his run up

controlling his breathing

in the zone...

The result is spectacular. I wonder if zoologists can be part-time rocket scientists?