Monday, 29 September 2014

Aberdulais Falls #NationalTrust

I start feeling terrifically old when my best idea for a day out with Miss Squeaky is a trip to the local National Trust site, Aberdulais Falls.  But really, should I? Or should I just suck it up and embrace the fact that someone thinks our local heritage is important and interesting enough to be protected, looked after, and shown to the public?  I need to work on those middle-aged & middle-class hobbies a bit more, don't I?  I'm good at charity shops, I own a picnic blanket, but I just can't get into Radio 4.

Well, National Trust it is then.  Off in the car 20 minutes down the road to Aberdulais Falls.  And perfectly for me, a great mix of nature and heritage, and not a stately home in site.  Aberdulais Falls is, as the name suggests, home to a waterfall.  A waterfall in a narrow gorge, that through the generations has provided the power to a tin works, as well as other industries lost to time.

Now, at this point I could bore you with a history lesson, but that's not why you come here. Instead, I shall bore you with photos, and tell you about what we did.

We stared at the waterfall and marvelled at how loud it was, while I tried (and failed) to take artsy photos.

We (OK, I) giggled at the name of a piece of equipment used in the tin works.  Wobbler is funny, right?

We skipped out on the educational DVD showing, in favour of a picnic.  Obviously.

We practised our leaf rubbing skills, and tried to find as many different colour leaves as possible.  And planted acorns to see if they would grow into oak trees.  Probably not, as they were planted in gravel.

And I got up-close and personal with a bee.  Apparently this is one of Robbie the formerly-invisible-bee's best friends.  He, and a couple of friends were making the most of the mint garden outside the old school house tea rooms.  It might be traditional to have tea & a slice of Victoria Sponge at the National Trust tea rooms, but I'm not quite that middle aged just yet.  Next year, maybe.

So, we did something cultured and educational with our weekend, as well as being in the beautiful, healthy outdoors.  What about you?

We're linking our trip up with Coombe Mill's Country Kids linky.  Why not pop along and get inspired?

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Saturday, 27 September 2014


Shyness is a strange thing. At work, I go out to see people all the time, visit complete strangers in their homes, chat to them about all sorts, with no problem at all. I just put on my work face and go to it.  People think I'm confident, because I can stand up in front of a room of people and deliver a presentation about *whatever*.

But then comes the real world. Squeaky has just started going to dance classes just round the corner from our house, and she's loving them. There's a few children she knows from school and preschool, and she's in her element. Me, however? Well that's another story. I'm sitting in the parents' room, clutching my phone as a security blanket so I don't have to talk to anyone. There's someone who I went on a course with last year, a couple of mums I vaguely know from preschool, and worst of all, someone I know through work. Living and working in the same area, it's inevitable, I suppose. But I don't want to talk to anyone. I kind of want to run away and never come back, rather than speak to people.  I don't want people to know I have any sort of life outside of work, I want them to think I'm just Support Robot, not an actual person.

Image courtesy of marcolm at
Thing is, this is exactly what I don't want Squeaky to grow up like. She's got enough "difference" as it is, being far too smart for her own good. I want her to be confident in social situations, and that's why I'm bringing her, as well as involving her in other classes and clubs that she's interested in. Though will it backfire if she sees my discomfort and anxiety?  I suppose I should just put on my big girl pants, and get over it. No-one is actually looking at me, no-one really cares that my t-shirt came from Primark, I haven't washed my hair this morning, and I'm just another face in a rather noisy crowd. Is the moral of this story "Get Over Yourself"? It may very well be.

Shyness and social anxiety are strange creatures, I just want to keep them at bay.  For both of us.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Playground Politics

No, no. I'm not talking about the kind of playground politics of whose child has the swankiest lunchbag, the most expensive coat or the biggest poster when the week's homework is "make something about the local landmark". Nor the most party invitations, biggest car parked on the double yellow lines or who can look most like a functioning adult during the breakfast club school run.  No.  I'm talking serious school politics.

Yep, Amongst the small forest of missives we receive from Squeaky's school on a weekly basis was one that asked for parents to stand as Parent Governors.  As the school is brand new, having been formed by the merging of two other schools, they need a whole new raft of governors.  I'd already dodged the PTA bullet, I looked the other way and muttered something about not having enough time when someone walked towards me with a fixed grin and a yellow clipboard looking for names, but there was something about this... Well, it's just writing your name on a piece of paper, in your own time.  To begin with at least.  And my boss keeps on saying I should stand for election, though we can't agree on a party.

I'm not there yet, mind you.  I've put my name forward, submitted my 50 words (or less) about myself, and now we await the ballot.  A ballot.  The last time I voluntarily entered anything involving a vote, I was in school myself, and we held a mock election alongside the real thing.  And if I remember right, our school refused to submit the results to Newsround because there was a landslide victory for the Monster Raving Loony Party, and apparently we didn't treat it with the seriousness a general election deserved.  And now I'm up for actual real and proper election myself. Eeeek.

Image courtesy of  David Castillo Dominici at
Do you think, if I'm elected, I could call myself a governess?  I still have this hankering to feature in a days-gone-by Jolly Hockeysticks type novel. If I can't attend the Chalet School, then maybe this is the next best thing?

Thursday, 11 September 2014

On Gelish

I love my nail polish. Anyone who has met me knows that. Anyone who has had the dubious pleasure of spending a reasonable amount of time in my presence, or that of my Facebook, will have some idea of the level of obsession we're talking about here.  I love the colours, the textures, the finishes, the process of painting my nails, and do it all too often.  But most of all, I love doing it all myself.  So for that reason I'd resisted the temptation of those expensive, long lasting gel manicures. After all, I can get a fair few bottles of polish for the price of one mani.

Until now, that is. I won a Gelish manicure (one of the two big brands in gel manicures) from a local beauty salon, and as my colleagues rave about their gel manis, I thought I'd give it a go. Why not, nothing to lose?

So, here's my early take on it.

Lovely finish
Long lasting (or so I'm told)
Not as expensive as I thought
Any excuse to be pampered.

Less choices than I have at home
No finish/texture options
Takes about an hour
Feels "thick" on the nail

Now don't get confused,the time is in both pros and cons. I love the treat of having some time to myself, but it's a precious commodity that I can rarely manage with Squeaky, and there's no way she would sit still while I had a treatment, and I kept thinking "I could be doing something else now, and do my nails after bedtime", like I normally do.

Would I go for it again? Ask me in a fortnight, but right now, I suspect that the salon will remain strictly for waxing, massages and eyebrows.

Never to be forgotten

It's 13 years since 9/11.  Thirteen years.  Amazing. There are children in High School who were born after that horrific day, moving rapidly towards adulthood, for whom it's as puzzling a piece of history as WW2.

For those of us who are slightly older than that (as I hope you are, dear reader.  If you're not, go outside and play!), will any of us ever forget what we were doing when we heard the news?  I was working at a temp job in Bradford, that I wasn't particularly enjoying. One of my colleagues' sisters was on a flight to the US at the time of the first crash, so you can probably imagine the tension we were experiencing. Their plane was turned around and returned to the UK, but it took a few hours before we heard anything.  I remember crowding round the boss's computer (he had internet access, the rest of us didn't) watching the grainy pictures come in as the first tower fell, and the disbelief that passed through us. It didn't look real. Even now, it's hard to picture how something so big, and so stable could suddenly just not be there.

It seems a long time ago, in another online life, where a good friend of mine would remember those who lost their lives in the attack by reproducing all their names in a post on a message board.  We lost that friend himself a few years ago, so this post is in memoriam of him as well.

I look down the list of names, and find someone who shares an unusual name in my family, and wonder - were they a cousin I never met?  They all had families, they all had stories to share.  And I see the names of women listed with their unborn children. Of course, amongst almost 3000 people, there were bound to be pregnant women, babies who were robbed of their chance at life.