Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Toby makes a getaway

In a quiet Yorkshire backwater away from the dubious inner city underworld, we exist, minding our own business and trying to get along without much ado. That was until I had the men in uniform knocking on the door to question me about our car being used as the getaway car for crime earlier in the day north of the boarder.

Politely yet flustered, toddler clinging to my leg, I explained my day had been packed with a post office run, play date with the village women and a trip to the hairdressers to have my roots done. All very exciting but not at all Miami Vice, I hoped my alibi would hold water. He eyed me up and down and considered the knackered looking Touran on the driveway with deep thought.

 I simply could not have been there doing that today. Nodding to himself satisfied he delivered the verdict that the car had most likely been cloned.

Subject to identity theft, I'm nursing my wounds. A nasty mister somewhere has pinched a car the same as ours, stuck false plates on, and assumed our identity when doing whatever nasty misters do.

Pissed off, I'm told I can look forward to being pulled over by a patrol car in the coming days as there's a call out on the reg number so no doubt when Grace is pulling one of her toddler tantrums and the dog is barking her head off at a man wearing a hat, I'll be sat on the hard shoulder of the motorway grinding my teeth while the chassis number verifies that our car is our car.

Just another day in paradise as Jane at northernmum would say!

The only possible upside is that when that speeding ticket comes through, I can bat my lids and tell them it wasn't me guv.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Only a few hours old...

Image0090 by Little Bambini
Image0090, a photo by Little Bambini on Flickr.

....to 2 years old. How time flies!

Azbo Aaron... Judging a cover by the book

Clearing out the spare bedroom of the hoards of clothes and toys that Grace has outgrown is a mammoth task reserved for days when I've ticked off everything else on the to-do list and it's the last thing standing. I hate it, with a passion but needs must and seeing as I've not been able to open the door fully for at least a month, the deed needed to be done. Armed with laptop, camera, caffeine and the promise of a stiff drink on completion, I dug myself in an evening of dire eBay listings.

Zoom forward a week, things have sold, the room is clearer. I have some money in my pocket and said stiff drink has long since been necked (thank you Uncle Frank for the Glayva you bought us!)

Do you ever wonder what your buyers are like? Who is taking on your clutter, to them a little gem? I regularly bid on eBay for hidden gems that I refuse to pay full price for, like Converse high tops for a toddler who'll probably only be in them two months at most. So I often wonder if the person selling wonders who is buying their junk, my little gem of a find?

Assume my interest then, when a bundle of Grace's toys sold for a tenner to someone going by the screen name of Azbo Aaron. Not ASBO, but cooler, more hip. Azbo.

Now I'm not one to judge on first impressions, sometimes not even second. That said I did rather feel I ought to batten down the hatches and warn the neighbours there might be a wrong'un effing and jeffing up the street with a can of White Lightening hanging off his arm. Then I told myself not to be such a bloody snob and that regardless of his ASBO, Aaron was someones son who at some time in his life got a rap on the wrist for pissing on the bus stop and swearing at the vicar.

I reminded myself I've known highly educated professionals, Old Etonians even, who've pissed behind the curtain at a rugby club reunion, who've run naked across the beach when someones pinched their underwear while they were swimming and whom probably had more colourful language than me and my cousin Christina on an Essex night out. None of which is particularly social to the average Joe.

So I park my assumptions and ride it out. As it turns out, Azbo Aaron sent his Mrs to pick up the haul so I'll never get to put my wonderings to bed. Probably just as well, I've had enough of pot kettle black for one day.

Heather goes running...

In just a weeks time I will be running the York 10k for charity. It's my first road race, and my first fundraising challenge too. I'm at 90% of my target so it's looking like I'll hit the goal to raise enough money to put an air conditioning unit into the animal hospital I'm running for. TOLFA (the Tree of Life for Animals) is a charity close to my heart. It's founder Rachel is a good friend of mine who decided to give up her life as a veterinary nurse in this country and buy a patch of wasteland in India.

Since that time some years ago now, she has built a hospital, with kennels, wards, treatment areas and an operating theatre. The team of vets and volunteers work hard, neutering strays and vaccinating against rabies which is prevalent out there.  And more recently they have started work on education projects with local villagers to help them better look after their cattle so they in turn can better help them work the land. It's a great project with no major sponsors. They also run a volunteer program for anyone with animal handling experience, from vet students, nurses to animal lovers who can offer nurturing care.


My training has been up and down. I suffer with an old back and knee injury so training runs have come in fits and starts inbetween bouts of forced recovery. I've managed to fit runs in early morning or after Grace has gone to bed, so I'm hoping with luck and the wind behind me, the effort I have put in will be enough. FINGERS CROSSED!

Photos from the charity can be seen here

A photobook (slum dogs of India) published can be viewed here

Saturday, 28 July 2012

It's a dogs life

Riding Miss Daisy
It's been a long time since we were pulling out hair out thinking we were going to have to rehome the baby dog when we realised we were ill prepared for housing a dog and a baby under the same roof. Since then we have worked hard to wear the dog down teach Grace respect for animals and that's largely going well, apart from today when the funniest thing EVER from Grace's perspective was riding Daisy round the living room.

You can read more about our arse about tit experience of introducing a new baby to the dog here

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Water Confidence

Back to basics

Grace got off to a great start with confidence in water as we decided to take her to swimming lessons early on in her development. From around 3 months old we joined a swimming class and Grace began to look forward to the weekly dip in the pool but I soon got bored of the commitment to be in a certain place at a certain time and by the time she hit her first birthday we'd stopped going. We did go to the local pool a few times but typically without the impetus of joining a class it dwindled out altogether. By the time we hit Turkey in May this year, she'd lost all her confidence and although she wanted to be in the pool ALL the time, she would not submerge and had no interest in assuming the swim position. Oh-oh!

Eager to get back on track we've signed up for lessons again starting in September and it's my mission between now and then to work with her making water fun. Thanks to the two days of summer we had this week, we made a start with the paddling pool. Thank you mother nature!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Do as I do...

So as I was saying, Grace is taking more of an active role in her own welfare. Cleaning her teeth, washing her face, lathering the shampoo in her hair... whatever it is, she takes part... she's learning. Fortunately I was wise enough to send a choice of two sunhats to Grandma's house this morning, as Grace took care to make sure Rosie the Bear was safe in the sun too. (Ignore the fact she's indoors with the curtains drawn to keep the blazing sun out!)

Helping Rosie the Bear into her sunhat
Taking a step on from there, tonight me and Matt the Husband were treated to a dose of moisturiser from Grace while in the throes of getting her ready for bed. We both left the room smothered in pink lotion where she'd done her best to spread it out and rub it in. I'm hoping she picks up Indian Head Massage at nursery tomorrow.

Imaginary beginnings

Tucked up in Mummy's bed this morning while I got ready for work, Grace took to reading her book to Upsy Daisy. Very cute to listen to although much of it made no sense at all, until she sat bolt upright and demonstrated with arms outstretched how Charley Bear flies his aeroplane.

Then I knew exactly where she was up to.


Her imagination is running rife at the moment. She has a little plastic Happyland horse that she spent the night with last night, we call him Fred the Foal after a board book I picked up for her in Wales last year. She adores both. I had to shoehorn Fred out of her clutches last night while she was sleeping, uncurling her fingers. The moment he released from her grasp, her hand started searching on the bed sheet so I popped Mr Rabbit back within reach and she settled until morning. Lovely.


Monday, 23 July 2012

When life gives you lemons

Getting out of bed the wrong side this morning, one tired bear braved all and made it to Fairburn Ings to feed the ducks and toddle round the reserve on the look out for a better mood (and some birds, obviously).

Grace didn't find it, bless her, so instead we fed her banana oat muffins and a bruised apple and that seemed to cheer her up enough to sit and have her photo taken with her pals from the village Berrie and Grace Rebecca. Missing smile ignored, I loved the expression on her face in the top photo, it really does look like she's sucking lemons... and as for the crazy hair - what's with that??!!

After the meet up at Fairburn we went home for a nap which I hedged my bets would see Grace sleeping most of the afternoon and waking in a better frame of mind.

Not so.

2 hours later (still fair innings, but woefully inadequate for mummy's tired bear) and we headed off into the garden for paddling pool and play house time. Had a blast, enjoyed it, just tired myself now after 4 hours of pandering to every whim of a tired toddler (now dosed with calpol in case it's her last teeth coming through... are there more to come?!)

p.s. please do not blink. This is the TWO DAYS OF SUMMER.

Meal Planning Monday

It's been a long time stranger! Not had much time for meal planning lately, too busy running around after toddler Grace but relaxing with my feet up after Party in the Park in Leeds yesterday, I'm pondering this weeks meals (quickly) so here it is...

Monday - leftover meatballs, pasta and brocolli

Tuesday - rice and veggies

Wednesday - beans on toast (Grace is in nursery wednesday so after two cooked meals already, this is enough!)

Thursday - leak and ham pasta

Friday - lentil curry with rice (and a batch for the freezer)

I haven't got as far as thinking about the weekend. I think we're home but can't remember without stretching for my organiser so will be ad libbing it for meals this weekend!

Ciao for now... and remember to head on over to Mrs M to see what's on the menu over there.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Breakfast muffins

Once again feeling guilty about the bananas left browning in the fruit bowl I decided to make breakfast muffins for the family. I consider these healthy as there is little added sugar and not much butter either, quick and easy to make and best eaten warm, they are a favourite in our house...

Banana & Oat Breakfast Muffins
Melt 25g butter and 3 tsp runny honey in the microwave.
Add: 3 ripe bananas, 100g flour (we use self-raising), 55g oats, 75ml milk, a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, baking powder and bicarb.
Mix together and divide into a greased muffin tin. Bake at 190c for 20 mins or so until done.

I got the original recipe here and have tweaked to suit... ENJOY!


I'm a light sleeper, disturbed often by the dog nudging me to cover her back up with her quilt. Last night was no different, except I became aware that Grace was having a nightmare in her sleep. Lying in darkness, silent apart from the Husband and the dog snoring, Grace was calling out "No... No...." again and again. I listened for a while deciding whether to go in or not, she wasn't screaming so opted to stay put. A while later I went in to check on her, tuck her back in... a doe-eyed girl with Mr Rabbit held tightly to her cheek greeted me... first nightmare... check!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Magic at it's best

"So there's a voice in here..."

"It sounds like Mummy, but she's standing way over there by a silver thing that looks just like this one!"

"and Mummy's talking into it and I can hear her, so I might just talk too..."

"I'm a bit confused as to how this is possible!"


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Dominic's Jumping Debut

I'm all for a quiet life and when Grace is struggling to get through to bedtime without a meltdown, I'll sit back and let things like this happen....

It's not a sunny day, in fact it's teaming with rain and threatening thunder as she works her way through a Cottage Pie dinner with two spoons (used in rotation) and her sunglasses perched on her nose. The things that keep them contented!

It doesn't end there. Fast forward to bath time when she's refusing to cross the threshold to the bath when out of the blue she decides tonight's the night for a jolly good trot on her rocking horse Dominic. Dominic the Donkey alternatively known as Karl the Pony, (depending on whether you're me or Matt the Husband) is often overlooked in favour of Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy. I digress. My point is he's not in her Top Ten of Toys.

So there we are, rocking away in the bedroom with the bath going cold, not because she LOVES Dominic, NO, just because she knows it prolong her path to bed. With a little persuasion, we agree she will go in the bath if she can ride Dominic to the bathroom. Deal struck, I push Grace, sat on Dominic, to the bathroom.

Just as I think I'm on the home straight, Grace, now in bath washing herself with a flannel gestures for me to get on the horse. She yawns and gives me a toothy grin.

As I'm cantering along in the bathroom, tackling Becher's Brook with questionable finesse using a tooth brush as my whip, I reflect my four hand high rocking horse is worth his weight in gold. Another over-tired bedtime tantrum averted.

Monday, 16 July 2012

How the other half lives...

You'd be forgiven for thinking I'm prattling on about the Jones's again! I mean other half as in Matt the Husband.

Since coming home from work tonight, (which might I add takes over an hour as I have a multi-point pick up to make for said Husband, child and dog), I have prepared and eaten a family meal (not all by myself, He profitted too), washed up, set the washing machine on, nipped out for a training run (my fastest 3 miles to date, dead chuffed!), hung out the washing and spent an hour surfing the internet for a better future.

He meanwhile, the other half, gets some shut eye.

How the other half lives.

Night all! x

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Strawberry Fields for Heather

Strawberry fields forever...

One of the best PYO's I have come across

Ripe for the picking, raspberry heaven

Motivated by the sun in the sky, we rushed Sunday breakfast to head off to the pick your own farm up near York. The Balloon Tree is an ace little family run affair with pick your own trail, farm shop, cafe and children's play area, highly recommended and well worth the 30 minutes in the car for us.

Grace loved the experience, and bless her heart she managed to get through the picking session with only a guilty lick of a strawberry until after we'd paid our dues. The coming days are sure to be packed with fruit, fruit with ice-cream and of course, fruit jelly. One thing Grace can't get enough of, is fruit...

Heading back to the farm shop to hand over the coffers for our fruit

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 14 July 2012

The rainy day tart

Ok before anyone gets smart on me, yes I can be a tart any day of the week, not just on rainy days. But that's not the kind of tart I'm talking about. I'm talking jam tarts, on rainy days... the perfect way to spend an hour with Grace on a day when she's still recovering from the waterlogged wellies experienced earlier in the week, with snotty nose to boot. Mummy's little baker.

You cant see her face but she's concentrating really hard here!

Inbetween adding the pastry stars she was dipping her fingers in the jam!

Ready for the oven... pleased with her work.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Banana bandits

Eyeing up the black bananas in the fruit bowl suspiciously, Grace agreed we could not let them go to waste. Rummaging in the cupboards for a few ingredients, I decided to make banana bread before heading off the station to pick up Daddy from work. I'm a good cook, dreadful baker, but even I can't screw up banana bread. Surely?


2 guey bananas
50g butter
100g flour
100g sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate
1 egg

Mix in a bowl using two spoons (this is critical for toddler involvement / pacification...)

Bake for 30 mins at 180c or until done, keep fingers crossed it rises, then celebrate when it does by eating!

Thursday, 12 July 2012


Never short of bright ideas, Matt the Husband brought home a pumpkin planting kit for Grace to grow her own ready for October. I can always rely on him to be prepared... *coughs*

The amazing escaping Grace...

Grace has always taken an interest in dressing and undressing herself. I was still chuckling when I found her like this the other morning, she had onviously been stuck with her leg in the next of her jammy top for quite a while as there was a ligature mark on the back of her neck that stayed with her most of the day. The perils of being a toddler...

Mixed weather in Norfolk!

Pointing to Nanny and Grandpa (at Banham Zoo)

Rain doesn't stop play in Norfolk

Daddy making a splash

Loving the puddle play, Grace 23 months old.

Her face says it all.... loving it!

Drenched by another Daddy-splash...

Pointing to the culprit... Bad Daddy!


Taking Daddy for a walk in Thetford Forest