Tick tock – watch the clock

I am sitting at work. It’s 3.57pm and each second feels like it’s driving up hill in a very slow car.
My curser is blinking back with a rather smug dance – I’m trying to time the flashes with the seconds ticking on the large, white corporate clock on the wall. I can’t, so I’ve begun a list of holiday essentials using one of the post-its on which I wrote something terribly important.

It was terribly important yesterday and today it’s a shorts, suncream and pull-up pants list. I guess important is in the eye of the beholder.

Oh god I’m bored – so bored of the relentless act of being ‘corporate’. All around me colleagues are talking very earnestly about ‘getting comms out’, ‘collaborating’ and ‘objectives’. Words and phrases that often leave me close to spontaneous vomiting.
It’s my own bloody fault.

To be fair these people are doing a great job and they enjoy it. More fool me that I haven’t currently got the courage of my own convictions. I could stay for years listening to the ticking clock, punctuating my angst with moments of corporate clarity. Or I could get off my comfortably large arse, change jobs, start writing more and make some kick-ass life-changing decisions.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the ease of it all. The pensions, the mat leave, the pay and benefits. It’s so very hard to admit you’re shit scared of jumping ship and taking a leap of faith. It’s even harder when your mortgage depends on it. I was even contemplating becoming a team first aider because it meant a day out of the office! Now, apart from the fact I hate anything gory and could not, under any circumstances, clear up sick, it’s just a ridiculous idea.

A fluorescent jacket and access to the plaster drawer is not going to quell my discontent – though to be fair it may be handy. No, I need to dig deep, decide what it is I actually want to do. Then either, make a baby, get a new job or shut up and put up – no one likes a moaner.

I’ve started on the ginger nuts now, left over from our last ‘away day’. I’m not sure I’ll make that decision today for so many reasons. But I know I will.

Seven summer wardrobe essentials

7 Summer Wardrobe Essentials

 If you’re planning a getaway this summer, check out this list of fashion essential must haves.  Whether you’re off to Somerset for the weekend or on a coastal tour of Cornwall, you’ll need to carry your wardrobe essentials for your summer break.

1.       Valentino Roma Silk Slip Camisole

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The pretty silk slip camisole is perfect whether you want to dress up or dress down. When the sun goes in you can partner it with a cardigan or even a blazer.

2. Ferre Handbag

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Perfect for your travel essentials. Being a neutral colour it will team up with practically any outfit.

 

3.       See By Chloe Beige High Waisted Short

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Perfect for a proper summer day, these cool shorts can be combined with a sea foam green top or even a bright cerulean blouse to give them that much needed pop of colour.

 

4.       Love Moschino Striped Beige Dress

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This classic designer dress from Love Moschino is perfect for an evening date for dinner. Contrasting stripes adds personality to this beautiful dress.

5.       Valentino Roma Beige Trousers

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Take a look at the fashion magazines and you’ll see that wide legged trousers is where it’s at. These beige trousers make a wonderful addition to any summer wardrobe collection. Try them with a crop top and you’ll see that they work very well no matter what your height.

6.       Moschino Casual Beige Jacket

This jacket is perfect for layering and covering over a cropped top. Team it with your wide legged trousers for a great look that you can enjoy all through summer. 

7.       Floral Pattern Trousers  by Moschino

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These are on the top of our list. Floral pattern is the in thing this summer and we can see why. Perfect to dress up or dress down. You might want to pair these with some pointed toe shoes and a blazer. Or team with a t shirt and sandals for a bit of cool evening wear.

Check out fashionista-outlet.com to grab your summer essentials now.

 

*This post contains sponsored content

 

Pets really do benefit our health in later life

I grew up with pets. Cats, dogs, several rabbits and the odd hamster along the way. They were part of the joy of my childhood and taught me responsibility. I wanted Arthur to have them too and we have two cats who he chases around and strokes enthusiastically.

Their influence on my life means I’m not in the least bit surprised they have such a positive influence for older people living in care.

Sunrise Senior Living is a huge advocate of the positive impacts of animals on cognitive and physical health of their residents. All their homes are pet friendly and have a resident cat or dog. Here are some of the amazing benefits a pet can have in later life:

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How lovely that this is being recognised as important in later life. They form part of our lives, often the first thing we have responsibility for, our first friends. It makes sense that this companionship should continue is a positive way. If it improves physical health too then surely this should be something we should be taking seriously. It will impact the cost of healthcare, mental healthcare and allow people to live a life filled with a sense of purpose and companionship.

Great stuff Sunrise and I hope, if I find myself in residential care in later life, that pets form an integral part of the care plan on offer.

 

*this post contains sponsored content

Missing my holiday – and not just the sunshine.

I’ve not blogged for a while and it feels a little strange dipping back in. Like coming back from the school holidays when your bag used to feel a little alien and you had butterflies walking through the gates.

But oh what a summer hols I’ve had. We’ve been in the South of France on a fabulous family holiday with my boys plus my parents. It was great in so many ways; firstly my parents have a house out there so it was cheap. Secondly we had a ratio of four adults to one child – something I will dream about for months to come.

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The subtleties of family dynamics were in full swing with my dad taking the role of ( very cuddly) Sargent major, my mum cooking and washing my pyjamas when we arrived because she said they looked grey… The independent working mum in me should have been frustrated and wholly outraged at this descent into teenager. But the truth is it was bloody lovely!

When ever do you get to relinquish all control, to know everyone will be looked after and no one, really no one is actually relying in you for anything. I even managed to finish a book in record speed.

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It was like being wrapped in a big ole, hot sunny blanket. I did cook once and it was met with the kind of praise dished out to royalty when they shuffle a pan or use a spade during an official engagement.

Arthur had an amazing time but my only slight worry was today, when we were on the way to the park he said: ” mummy I hope there will be no other children on this park except granny and papa.” I guess there is a down side to the four adults one child ration, but he’ll get over it. Not sure I will.

Playing my poker face

Poker – the game of intrigue, and the stone-faced bluff.
It’s always fascinated me and one of my girl crushes is Victoria Coren – She made history by becoming the first two-time winner of one of poker’s most prestigious tournaments the European Poker Tour.

I love the idea of a game based on wit, intellect and a whole load of balls, metaphorically speaking of course. It’s often viewed as a man’s game – set in dark, smoke-filled bars and spilling from day to night.

But it really can be for anyone, Victoria is testament to that.
After her epic win she said: “It’s an incredibly inclusive game, for men and women, for old or young. I’ve played with the blind and people in wheelchairs, we can all do it. I want women to feel encouraged and not be put off but the bigger thing is everyone should feel very welcome.”

If you want a little inspiration, or just want to see some edge of the seat poker playing take a look at the 2014 Canada Cup final live coverage below. This film captures the best of a poker game which saw the eventual winner come back from behind and walk away with hundreds if thousands of pounds. I just love the face the game is not limited by strength or physical fitness. It’s all about mental agility.

The final hand of this tournament is likely to be one that will be talked about for years. Play was four-handed and eventual winner, Notkin had the chip lead, but after a four-way all-in, he knocked out the three other players and ended the tournament in a single blow.

Notkin, a satellite qualifier, earned $366,660 for the win – not bad for a card game!

*This post is sponsored by Spreaditfast.

Self tan – it’s no job for an amateur…

So last night I decided to tan myself. I had never attempted a full body tan – I was crazy with excitment, wild with anticipation.

In my head this process meant a lesuirely bath, scrub, followed by a smoothing of glorious golden liquid apon my pins. Off to bed and ta taa! In the morning I would be golden, my thread veins a distant memory and the magic lotion will have left me lithe and ready for summer (I bought one with firming stuff in too).

Oh how wrong I was.

After my bath I was hot and red – I couldn’t tell if I was sweating because my bath had been too hot or my head was still wet from the water.  After rasping a blunt razor across my legs they were less smooth and more, undulating with sweeps of stubble and bald bits. To be fair I didn’t have the best canvas to work with but like any enthusiastic amateur I was heady with enthusiasm and hope.

It took ages to get dry and I was getting hotter and more annoyed. Then I opened  the cream that would transform me into someone with much longer thinner legs – perhaps I was expecting too much. Oh god, how much do I use? Where do I start? I decided to start on my legs but misjusdged how much I needed. I spent ages rubbing it in but had no idea whether it was rubbed in.

Dear god, after I’d rubbed it in all the places I could reach and washed my hands it would have been quicker to take a two-week holiday in Spain. Do you do your toes? What about your sides, do your sides even get a tan or does it just stop. Is it ok to do 2D tanning?

I walked like someone trying to unstick themseves from a carpet without touching anything, through to the bedroom. Where I spent, what seemed like hours, sitting on the edge of a towel fearful of resting any body parts anywhere.

I slept with the fear of orange palms punctuating my every breath.

8am and I was up, a flutter of excitment as I hauled myself from my self-imposed turin shroud. Jonathan looked at the bed as if I’d actually pooed myself – ‘eeuugh, that’s disgusting’, he added supportingly.

It soon became clear my dreams of a golden tan had been shattered. One orange knee was all it took. Followed closely by another and a dodgy looking side hand which turned orange to white across my palm. There was also a distinctly sweet biscuity smell following me around.

I showered, and this revealed even more horror – very orange boobs and another streak across my calf. Plus the thread veins seem to have blosomed under the orange glow – standing out laughing at me. Oh and to add to the overall effect my nails had the orange tone of a 60-a-day smoker.

Overall I looked ridiculous and so I have vowed never to attempt to paint myself orange again. Next week I will rock the pale and interesting look – with the odd stubborn streak still mocking me.

 

 

Great Yarmouth SEALIFE Centre

We rolled up to Great Yarmouth on a slightly drizzly Thursday morning. It was rather quiet apart from the growing queue outside the SEALIFE Centre!

Located on the seafront, the SEALIFE Centre is an unassuming building and belies the treasures you find inside. We did have to queue for quite while but once we were in Arthur was ready to explore.

I love the fact you walk through and becomes dark, lit by the tanks of weird and wonderful creatures along the way. I loved feeding the stingrays and Arthur was so pleased to get a medal for touching a star fish – for the record they are much rougher than I thought they’d be!

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The walkways with the huge tank above was great – Arthur couldn’t quite believe there were sharks in there and we stood for ages watching them glide from one side to the other.

My favourites were the penguins and they were all out to greet us for our visit. Some swam, some pruned and others just sat watching us and having a half-hearted fight with each other. They are just cute!

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I really like the fact that everywhere you walk these info pods and updates on the conservation work they do from protecting turtles to rehoming injured or unwanted animals and breeding seahorses. These almost mythical creatures fascinate me and Arthur was the same. He peered in at them for ages asking me why they had tiny pony heads! A SEA LIFE fund raising campaign has enabled a new Sea Turtles Rescue and Wildlife Information Centre to be built on the Greek island of Zakynthos.

He also spent time with daddy popping his head up through the clear domes to watch the colourful starfish – who knew there were so many!

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Arthur had a lovely few hours – apart from the fact it did feel very crowded. But I guess that’s a combination of wet weather, school trips and the winding narrow flow of the Sea Life Centre itself.

Check the site for ticket prices – they’ve just launched a new Parent and Toddler ticket. It’s £10 which is a good price for a few hours of toddler fun!

Ever gouged your eyes out in a meeting?

There are moments when I have to wonder what happened between people leaving home and becoming incompetent and wholly annoying ‘work colleagues’.

I’m not referring to those in my team – they possess the level of common sense I’m looking for from adults able to dress and eat unaided. No, I mean those who set-up meetings and force you to sit in a sealed room with only the whiteboard scribbles from the previous meeting to entertain yourself. They talk lots but you have a growing suspicion they know, well jack sh*t, to be honest.

This week has been filled with this kind of meeting . Fuelled with a growing panic that they were going to have to go out and speak to ‘real people’ in a series of  ‘visits’ we had endless meetings with big wigs about chairs, tables, location of said chairs and tables, even what would happen if they were late. I decided not to tell them the shocking truth that if they were late – well, they’d be late and the world would spontaneously combust, or at the very least their first born would be hunted down and beheaded.

At one particular meeting a well-paid member of this illusive posse decided to draw a diagram of the office he’s been asked to visit and proceeded to ask everyone individually how many chairs they thought would fit in the space. After I’d finished gnawing my own arm off and weeping silently to myself, I mentioned the possibility of having standing room only.  You could cut the air with a knife…no one had thought about standing room as well, cue the next meeting.

I get it, these people are holed up in sealed offices, peering only momentarily into their employees’ eyes before scuttling back to the floor with the plush carpet. But these guys are paid a lot to do this, they have families, they have friends – a moot point I’m sure.

Funnily enough, I have managed, fairly successfully, to run visits like this, write about visits like this and even attend visits like this with a simple ratio of less meetings more actions. Going somewhere is not a new concept…most people do it without death or radical surgery needed afterwards.

Common sense, however, is tragically lacking in the echeleons of  management – I think it’s a heady mix of not really being sure what you’re doing and spending many hours thinking…’result, how the hell did I get here?!’ Leaving little time for anything else.

At one particularly painful meeting we were asked to write down the ‘risks’ associated with these visits. After mentally undressing the cleaning guy who was emptying the recycling, I managed to come up with one big one. NO ONE WOULD CARE!!!!!

I haven’t shared this, much like my fear of sharing the outcomes of being late, I think some things are best found out for yourself. So to end my week I’ve produced a handy list of meeting tips – for those of us with lives and more than a slight leaning towards common sense:

  1. Do not look into their eyes – it only encourages attachment
  2. Remember to take your laptop/iPad – these meetings are the perfect opportunity for online shopping
  3. Agree with what they say, then, following the meeting, email those who have the common sense and tell them what’s actually happening
  4. Do not allow them to ‘plan’ alone. A bit like herding toddlers these people need a tight reign so make sure they are followed – or if possible, tagged at all times
  5. Get in contact with the team in the meeting room just before you and ask them to draw something interesting on the white board– it’s saved me gouging out my eyeballs on many occasions

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

My Life As A Mummy

Win a family ticket to BeWILDerwood!

This week I’m running a competition to win a family ticket to one of my favourite places to head for a family day out.

BeWILDerwood is just the most magical adventure for all ages. With Boggles and Twiggle houses in the trees and hidden behind grassy hills, it sparks imaginations and let’s children run wild in a safe, magical envirnment. With story telling, den building, huge adventure playgrounds and boat rides it’s perfect for most ages and abilities.

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This year there’s even more to experience with the new Sky Maze which opens in time for the summer holidays - here’s a little more about it:

Set high in the treetop canopy, the new Sky Maze takes adventure and playtime to magnificent new heights. Turning this way and that way; where no way is the wrong way, Sky Maze is made up of tunnels, walkways, cargo nets, spiral staircases, zig zag beams and spectacular vantage points. Weaving its way through natures playground, the new experience stretches nearly 1/2 km and reaches over 8 metres in height.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*The competition will close on July 1 at 5pm and the ticket is for two adults, two children and valid for 12 months. Tickets are non-transferable and there is no alternative prize.

Super summer salad

This dieting lark isn’t so bad sometimes. Today for lunch I made a version of Prima’s grilled nectarine and mozzarella cheese.

I used goat’s cheese and a little roasted beet root with balsamic vinegar. It was lush!
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Literally big rocket on the plate, sprinkle with olive oil and balsamic.
Meanwhile heat a griddle pan and add the slides nectarines for a couple of minutes each side.
Crumble up some goats cheese and rip up some ham – Italian hams work well.
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Add all to the plate with a squeeze of lemon and a good shake of black pepper. I took the original recipe from July’s Prima magazine.

Delish!