Sunday, 29 March 2015

Election Fever

There's still over a month to go, and I am officially SICK AND TIRED of the election already. I don't wish to see the smug faces of David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband or Nigel Farage, or any of the other suspects on my telly ever again.  I am becoming more despairing by the day as the various levels of racist parties push their propaganda and scaremongering through my door.

Therefore, I am declaring this blog an Election-Free Zone.  Until May I will not entertain any mentions of politics, politicians, voting, schools being used as polling stations & therefore closed, or anything other than fairies, flowers and Frozen.

In fact, I am happily embracing watching children's telly with Squeaky for the next 5 weeks, at least they don't mention the election on Disney.  I'm slightly dreading the next one already, in 5 years time we will firmly be in the grip of CBBC, and if my childhood was anything to go by, they start teaching political stuff in the top end of primary when there's an election to deal with.

In fact, this is as political as I will get.  We had mock elections, linked up with the kids telly of the day when I was in the top end of primary, and again in the top end of secondary school. I don't really remember the first, but for the secondary episode, the school took it very, very seriously. As did a small number of the kind of kids that do at that age. The rest of us were slightly less interested.  A group of the boys in my year took it upon themselves to stand in the name of one of the lesser parties, and launched the kind of election campaigning more commonly seen in the US than the UK, with rallies, entertainment, and full on electioneering.  They won with a landslide majority.  Unfortunately for the school it was a landslide majority for the Monster Raving Loony Party, and as such they refused to return our results to Children's BBC.  I was desperate for our school's proudest moment to appear on Newsround. Instead we had a special assembly reinforcing the seriousness and importance of politics and why we should get properly involved in things rather than treating life as a big joke.

Me? Nah.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Eclipse Watching

...Or "Another way I have managed to annoy Squeaky's school"

It was accidental, honest.  I was browsing one of those Mums' forums yesterday, you know the ones. One is full of recipes, the other full of swearing and people being (or not being) unreasonable.  I'm not even sure which, to tell the truth.  And someone had said something about their precious offspring's school and their demands for specific items with which to view the solar eclipse.

I'll be honest here. Much of the build up to the eclipse has passed me by.  I'd just kind of not noticed.  Unlike the 1999 eclipse, where I owned a pair of Eclipse 99 pants, from one of the High Street fashion stores.  (Sadly, even if I still owned them, there's no chance I'd fit more than a single bum cheek in them now)  But NetMumsNet reminded me, and so I thought I'd give the school secretary a quick call to see if I'd missed a letter. Not unknown.

Not the recommended way to view a solar eclipse

The secretary sounded completely shocked that I'd asked her such a crazy question.  Eclipse? Plans? School? And then promised to find out & send a text message to the parents.  Which arrived as I was standing at the school gate yesterday afternoon, gossiping with other mums about this exact subject. Co-incidence? Conspiracy? Who knows.

Anyway, school, having not made any other plans, preparations, or even having discussed the eclipse with our beloved offspring were watching via the BBC's live stream.  Not a bad thing, as it turns out, even though Squeaky said that they were talking in English, but it was so complicated she didn't understand and it was like they were talking Japanese (her words), so she just watched the pictures.  We'd talked about it last night, so she had some idea about what was happening at least.  More than some of the other children, I don't doubt.

The eclipse, viewed from the safety of my car. Or a pretty pattern.
Me, on the other hand?  Well, after I dropped Squeaky at school, I picked up my trusty colander, and headed for the retail park. Mostly because I needed to pop into the chemists, but also because it has a big car park & I could be fairly sure it would be quiet.  And I set up my Eclipse Viewing Kit on the passenger seat.  Actually a piece of A4 paper, the colander & my phone. See?  Significant and contemporary event blogging!

I'm living in the vain hope that my colander wearing & boredom-related photo editing will attract me my very own Professor Brian Cox.  It probably won't work out, but you can't blame me for trying, can you? Just think about that enthusiasm!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Molloscum Contagiosum

Or... what the heck is that rash?

Squeaky's had eczema since she was a tiny Squeak. I know what it looks like, how it affects her, and where it tends to appear.  So when she developed a bit of a rash on her lower legs last week, I didn't worry too much. It blanched with the glass test, and didn't bother her.  Then some more bumpy spots appeared on the outside of her elbows. So I called the doctor and we popped  to show them what Squeaky has christened "my beetles", because some of them are a little beetley in their appearance.

Fair play to the (very young!) doctor, she didn't pull any icky faces, even though I'd been doing my best to hide my "ewww" for a few days.  She confirmed that the rash on Squeaky's legs was nothing more than eczema, with a little bit of hair follicle bumps (I get the same on the tops of my arms unless I exfoliate like it's going out of fashion, chicken skin I think they call it).  But that the rash on her elbows was something else altogether.  Molluscum Contagiosum to be precise.

I did the "WTF?" face (as opposed to the earlier "Ewww" face), and she turned to her computer, clicked away, and showed me pictures, and gave me a handy printout (the same one that is linked above.  If it's good enough for my GP, then it's good enough for me) explaining all about the "beetles".

Molloscum Contagiosum, it appears, is a viral condition, nothing to do with shellfish, except that it sort of looks like them - or beetles.  It's not something that has outbreaks, it's pretty much a constant in schools & nurseries.  It doesn't cause a big problem, and goes away of its own devices when it's run its course.  Unfortunately. said course is 12-18 months, and there's no real recommended medical treatment, just not scratching.

No-one needs a picture of the offending rash. Everyone needs gin in a tin.
The internet is being as helpful as it ever is when looking for information about any kind of health concern - i.e. a massive pile of  scaremongering, conspiracy theories and assorted nonsense about sudocrem or duct tape  (I can understand that, they're related to warts & verrucae which are successfully treated with duct tape, but really?).  I'm tempted to go to the local health food shop, who tend to recommend cod liver oil & vitamin c for almost everything in my experience, to see if they've got any better ideas.  They might be cheaper than the pharmacy, and you never know, they might also have some ideas for the nits that school are texting us about on a weekly basis.

Oh, yes.  Nits.  They're still a thing in school. In the same week as the Molloscum Contagiosum diagnosis, we've had two text messages about nits, and a factsheet about threadworms.  Am I sending Squeaky to a school, or a medical research lab?  Seriously, there's one a couple of miles away, and I'm beginning to wonder.  Germ vectors, that's what children are.  Tiny, mucky little germ vectors, that make me itch.

Friday, 6 March 2015


Daydreaming is a lovely thing. Not necessarily the "what would I do if I won the lottery" type thoughts, though they do pass a happy few minutes waiting for a latte to cool down from the temperature of molten lava. More the kind of meanderings that end up as ridiculous action songs a la "If I was not in pantomime..." and finish up with someone getting hit over the head with a frying pan or tickled with a feather duster.

Ok, these often strike on a Monday morning, when I realise how much paperwork I need to get through, but it's either that or announcing to the office that today is officially Not Giving A Monkey's Day, and hitting the biscuit tin. But they also strike when there's nothing else doing, while sitting in the waiting room at the dentist, watching today's fifth episode of Sofia The First, that sort of thing.
I'd actually hate to not work, I need to have to do something in order to do anything. I couldn't quit tomorrow & be a full time mum, or a full time blogger, even if the money was there. I would end up doing the school run in my pyjamas, watching endless episodes of Jeremy Kyle, and growing another chin.

Instead, I've taken to wondering what it would be like to be someone else. Or something else! Some days I think I'd quite like to be a cat, lazing in a sunbeam and demanding attention. Or maybe a robin. Robins make everyone smile.

Or maybe I'm just feeling bored and need a new challenge. On that basis, I've started going to line dancing classes, in the hope my daydreams will soon be filled with cowboys in tight jeans. Ahem. I'll be in my bunk.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Holiday Friends

Holiday friendships are something I really miss about childhood. It's much harder to bond with adults when you're thrown together by a strange mix of geography, timing and the whims of the weather gods.

But for children, holiday friendships are magical. They spring from nowhere to firm & fast friends in the time it takes me to take my flip flops off. Holiday friendships transcend age, background, even language, cemented on the international languages of laughter, ice cream and fun. Sometimes even names are just details. What matters is a shared moment of fun, and a glimmer of memory to take home.

Here's to those holiday friends. Cheers, Prost, Yamas, Sláinte, Salud, Iechyd da, Skål, or whatever floats your boat.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Sunshine Escape

February half term is a peculiarly dull concept. Unless you are a snooker fan & want to spend a week in a darkened room in Cardiff, there's not a lot to do. It's cold, it's probably raining, and Christmas was only five minutes ago.  So rather than suffer a soggy week in the house, we jumped on an Easyjet plane to the Costa Del Sol, in search of sunshine and cheap wine.

Honestly taken this February. Why can't the UK look like this?

We were blessed with some glorious weather, just right for collecting shells on the beach for our school homework (make something to do with aquariums on a piece of A4 card).  There's nothing better for recharging your virtual batteries than a few days of sunshine to break the endless grey of home.

Early in the year, Spanish resorts seem to be full of elderly Spanish ladies playing endless card games and rarely moving from*their* seat in the hotel bar.  In fact, I learned recently that the Spanish government actually fund subsidised holidays for all pensioners living in Spain, to be taken in Spain of course, even though who aren't of Spanish origin.  Can you imagine what the Daily Fail would make of that, if we sent all our pensioners on a week's holiday to Torquay? Even more so those who have moved here to steal our jobs, homes, women and benefits?  I can see it now, and it's not pretty.

I even found the perfect way to occupy a 5 year old for more than 2 solid minutes.  Find a patch of grass with a high clover content.  Challenge said 5 year old to find a lucky 4 leaf clover. Sit back and enjoy the peace and quiet while they mutter "three, three, three" and throw leaves around.

Our sunshine break wasn't exactly 5* glamour and luxury, but I wouldn't want it that way.  What it was though, was a perfect way to spend an otherwise chilly half term.  I'll say nothing about the hailstorm we landed in on our return home.  We got to spend our half term outside in the Spanish sunshine, learned a few new Spanish words, and generally de-stressed.  Now it's back to the grindstone.

Linking up with Coombe Mills' Country Kids linky. Our holiday is a little different to theirs, but the escape & revitalisation remain.

 Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall