Friday, 30 July 2010

What do you get the man who has everything? A Trip to Mecca, of course!

After waking up to the most enormous "40" balloons ever:

husband was serenaded with "Happy Birthday" as we brought in the cake adorned with indoor sparklers:

(Note to self: by the time you light the third, the first has finished sparkling, just do one in future)

He then opened his presents whilst eating warm, just baked blueberry muffins (just call me "Nigella") and wearing the crown that daughter had made him.

He was well impressed with the limited edition picture of the Kippax Stand at Maine Road (City's old ground) by Stuart Roy Clarke and the "Platinum Experience Question of Sport" I bought him where he gets to meet Sue Barker, Phil Tuffnell and Matt Dawson at the MEN Arena for questions and photos before the show.

He loved his Chocolate Explosion Bouquet:

and book of newspaper clippings about City that he got from daughter.

My mum and dad bought him a new briefcase and had filled it with sweets!
(Nice touch, mum!)

And he opened lots and lots of cards.

After all the excitement had died down, we told him that he had to don his City shirt for a trip to Eastlands this afternoon. He didn't need telling twice.

Firstly, we arrived at the stadium:

City kits are optional!

All around the stadium are these large walkways covered in banners showing the names of the sesason ticket holders:

And we found husband's name!

It's on there, honest!

A very enthusiastic and informative guide took us round the stadium giving us interersting little insights into the workings of a Premiership Football stadium.

We looked out onto an eerily empty stadium:
Had a little rest in Tevez's box:

Sat in the Press Room:

"Miss W M, how does it feel to be signed as City's first female player?"

And had a quick shufty in the players' dressing room:

And that was almost it.

They think it's all over......

.................. but just to prove I was there:

It is now.

Guess who's 40?

Yep, hubby has joined the club!

Monday, 26 July 2010

The Pink Peril

Today we had one of our Family Fun Days.

We went to the Lake District.

Primarily to buy these:

We thought that pink walking boots would encourage daughter to go walking. Proper, outdoor, on footpath not road type of walking. Something we did lots of before her arrival and would like to do again, as a family.

Of course they had to be pink.

They matched the rest of her outfit:

Notice the colour of her camera?

Anyway, after a successful walk to Stock Ghyll Falls to break in the "four wheel drive boots" as they are now called, we realised that we had ended up carrying her camera, water bottle, cardigan and waterproof!

So, it was another quick nip into Gaynor Sports to buy her her own rucksack!

The colour.............?

Well, did you think it would be anything else?

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Mums - train your sons!

I was talking to one of the mums from my daughter's class the other week. A lovely mum, with three sons. I don't know the eldest, but the 6 year old is in daughter's class and a lovely boy, and I've taught the 12 year old this year, who is similarly delightful. That's why it surprised me when she suddenly remarked that she can't get them to do anything at home.

"What do you mean?" I asked

"Well, they don't tidy their rooms, they don't move their dirty dishes, they don't even put their dirty clothes in the wash basket"

And she went on: "They just leave their pyjamas on the floor in the morning. They won't even open their curtains. After they've gone to school I open their curtains, pick up their clothes, make their beds, tidy their rooms. I've no time for anything else. It doesn't matter how many times I tell them, they just won't do it"

"Whooooooooooah!" I thought, "What is this woman doing?! These boys have it made! She's basically their slave!
And that's their view of women.

So what happens when they grow up? What kind of husbands will they be, or how will they look after themselves if they live alone?"

Then, there was a glimmer of hope:

"How do you get Izzy to do things?" she asked.

"Well, I use a tick sheet and incentives" I said.

"What's that?"

"Izzy has a job chart in the kitchen and she has to get four ticks a day to have her riding lesson at the weekend"

"What sort of jobs?"

"Tidy her room, set the table, make her bed, that kind of thing"

The mum looked amazed.

"Izzy does those things?" she asked

"She does if she wants a riding lesson. Eventually these jobs will become a habit and she'll just do them. It's what my mum did with me and my brother. She had us both fully house trained!"

And you know that my mum, the ultimate Working Mum, is my mentor!

"I think I'm too late with my boys" she said, defeatedly.

"Why not start small? Pick one job and an incentive and get them to do it for the next couple of weeks, then build up" I suggested (hoping that it will work with her boys).

"Yes, I will" she said, looking a little happier and a lot more determined.

I hope she succeeds.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

I have returned, relaxed and refreshed!

I have returned from a lovely week in France.

We stayed with friends who did everything to make sure we had a wonderful and relaxing break. In fact, we were so relaxed, we couldn't make a decision about what to do each day! Luckily for us, our friends showed us around.

Here are Izzy's top five things she did in France:
  1. Ride a neighbour's horse (of course!)
2. Go swimming (in outdoor pool at Villefranche du Perigord)

3. See Bastille Day fireworks at Monpazier (and stay up 'till midnight!)

4. Go to Medieval Fete at Monpazier and learn to walk on stilts

5. Visit real caveman caves at Pech Merle and see real caveman paintings (of horses, of course!)

* * * * * *

My top five were:
  1. Prehistoric caves at Pech Merle
2. Chateau Bonaguil

3. Medieval Fete at Monpazier

4. Marche des Procucteurs at Loubejac (sort of farmers' market were you buy the produce and eat it there and then like a take away - here's Izzy eating snails!)

5. Pain au chocolat, croissants, wine, bread and cheese (I put 3lb on while I was away!)

* * * * * *

By contrast our poor friends were rewarded with the full "Izzy Experience" including:
  1. Getting lost in middle of night (she ended up in the bathroom by mistake wailing "Where am I?")
  2. Nightmares at 4am
  3. Nosebleeds (two; one in the middle of the night)
  4. Being sick at the breakfast table
A fair exchange of experiences?

Monday, 19 July 2010


Hopefully, when you read this I will be enjoying a well earned break in a beautiful part of France.

We're staying with a friend of ours who runs this website:

(amongst others)

Hopefully I shall be doing this ......

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

...... with a basket full of wine, bread and cheese.

Hang the diet!

See you soon!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Now why didn't I think of that?

Last Saturday I had a concert in the Lake District. I arranged a car share with my friend, Elizabeth, who suggested that we meet up en route with our families, have some time together and then we two go on to Hawkshead while the hubbies and children return home.

No, no, no, no, no, no!

Having a concert is a chance for me to have some time for me!

So I pursuaded her to dump the kids on the hubbies and head for the Lakes alone. And that's what we did.

We arrived in Ambleside (in pouring rain, on the second day of the hosepipe ban!) and had a lovely lunch in a typically English tea shop. We wandered around the beautiful shops buying handmade chocolates and enthusing over gorgeous stationery and other girly things.

Then went to Gaynor Sports (my favourite outdoor pursuits shop) to buy a much needed waterproof and look for some pink walking boots for daughter (they have the perfect pair, I will go back with her to try them on). I'm hoping pink ones will encourage her to go walking with us.

After buying hubby another 40th birthday present (does he know how lucky he is?) - a limited edition photo "The Kippax Roars" by Stuart Roy Clarke from The Homes of Football, we moved on to Hawkshead and another tea shop.

After a rehearsal in the Parish Church and yet more tea and biscuits in the Market Hall, we performed a successful concert and then made our way to the Red Lion for an after concert buffet.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable day.

We finally returned home at 12.45am where upon Elizabeth said, "Maybe we could invent a concert and have another day out?"

Hmmmmmm, now there's an idea!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Fertilising the Garden

Today I was checking the weather on my new Met Office Weather App (love my i-touch!).

"It's going to rain later in the week", I said.

"Where?", asked husband.

"Here, in Manchester"

"Why are you looking up the weather in Manchester, we'll be away"

"Precisely, I need to know that my garden will be watered"

"You and your garden" he said, with a hint of exasperation.

"Well, if you invested as much time and effort in it as I have, you'd worry about it" I said.

"I weeded it!", he exclaimed, "I weeded it.... I weeded it..... at Easter!"

"You weeded it once" I said.

At this point daughter turned to me and with wide eyes said,

"Daddy wee-ed in the garden?!"

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Cake Conundrum

English Mum is having another Big Bakeoff and, having been resoundedly beaten by my daughter last time (who won the prize for the youngest entry), I'm having another go and this time it's personal!

Also, the prize is a hamper of Green and Black's Chocolate, so I'm in it to win it!!

(No one gets between Working Mum and her chocolate)

So, what to enter?

Well, I did bake this Blackberry Cake today:

but the photo doesn't really do it justice.

So I might enter my Jammie Dodgers which I made on Friday:

Which do you think?

Remember, there's Green and Black's at stake here!

Friday, 9 July 2010

Calm down, calm down!

Yes, I've broken up for the summer.


Trouble is, I'm still at that "rush round like a mad thing doing something every minute of the day" stage.

It takes a while to come down from "school pace" to "holiday pace". Mind you, it does mean that I've done all the washing, cleaned both cars inside and out and done major tidy ups!

Yesterday I also took daughter for a haircut. She went for a total restyle and has now lost the strawberry blonde rats tails in favour of a very sleek strawberry blonde bob. She is now walking around the house going, "I look beautiful!". No self-esteem issues there, then.

Today I went to the hairdressers and had two inches cut off as well as my highlights. It was three hours enforced sitting which I thought would help me to calm down, but I left there like a greyhound out of a trap and ran round to the party shop to order balloons for husband's birthday, came home, made lunch and then made a dozen jammy dodger biscuits!

Husband has now gone to watch the 20-20 cricket at Old Trafford so I'm hoping that a night in with a glass of rose and "Desperate Housewives" will help me to unwind.

Otherwise, I think they should just wire me up to the National Grid; I'm sure I could power a small village.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Sunday, 4 July 2010

WM takes on the WF?

Oh dear.

My reputation for making delectable cupcakes has finally got me into trouble.

How so?

Well, the young, enthusiastic curate at our church (who happens to be a friend of mine) was so disappointed with the Women's Fellowship's performance in the tea and cake department at the Summer Fair this year that she has asked me if I could infiltrate the organisation and revamp the set up for next year.

She wants me to do a bit of a "Mary Queen of Shops" and show these ladies another way: the cupcake way. She wants fabulous cakes displayed on beautiful cake plates and stands on crisply tableclothed tables attracting the sweet toothed of the parish to part with their cash.

After all, my little beauties did raise £100 for Haiti on Valentine's Day:

And these went down a storm at the school Christmas Fair:

The problem?

Unfortunately, the ladies of the WF have been baking the same tired old cakes and selling them off green church plates for fifty years. They haven't realised that times have changed and some dry battenburg and a coconut macaroon doesn't hit the spot any more.

Of course, they are ladies with fifty years of baking experience who are well capable of creating fabulous cakes, but are they going to listen to a young whipersnapper like me who has only been baking for twenty years?

Moreover, these ladies consist of my MIL and her cronies.

Nuff said.

I suspect even Mary would fail with this one!


Thursday, 1 July 2010

Pasta and Cupcakes

Now to let you out of your misery.

This .......
......... is a spaghetti measurer!

Adjust the aperture for one, two, three or four servings and measure your spaghetti by inserting it in the hole! No more oversized portions!

Well, today is Speech Day, which means daughter and I have the morning off so we've made flower and butterfly cupcakes as presents for her teachers:

some for my department:

plus a few extra for us:

Not thinking about this today .........