Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Wear shoes you can run in

Girls should be able to wear what they want when they go out and know that they will be safe.

But until they are I'll be telling DD to wear a sensible coat and sensible shoes.

You might think that I'm a terrible woman, and not a good feminist at all by suggesting such a thing. You might rage at me that dressing 'slutty' isn't an invitation to rape, that getting drunk, or falling over in high heels isn't an invite to abuse, and of course you are right.

You might suggest that by teaching DD to be 'the safe one' I'm asking the rapists and idiots on a Friday night in town to 'target the other girls' and you might have a point.

But what am I supposed to do? Going out is still a risk for women despite loads of high profile campaigns. Young men still seem to live in a world where buying you a drink entitles them to 'something' in return, or a kiss is obviously an invite to more.

Am I a terrible mum to want to protect my daughter? If I had a son I'd be telling him how to respect women, how to protect women, how 'nice guys' don't finish last at all, they end up with girlfriends and live happy lives. I'd be teaching him to stand up to his mates if they are arseholes. I'd ensure he had money for taxis and didn't drink too much too.

What can we do? Us parents? With teens? What are you doing?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Day out on Brighton Pier

The last few days of my annual leave and we decided to visit Brighton Pier. It's only a half an hours drive away and we always sort of forget it's there!

We parked up near Kemptown where the all day charge is £5 (unlike on the seafront where it's £15) and walked down to the sea via flea markets and charity shops, browsing as we went. Lots of taxidermy but none created such a desire to own them as the moose head I'd seen in Lewes the day before (I now have a serious moose head obsession - I think the hallway needs a moose head)

Brighton Big Wheel
 After a nice lunch in a Kemptown cafe/restaurant (lovely plaice and chips for me, disappointing burger for DD, cheese sandwich for DH ...maybe wine...yes yes there was wine!) we wandered down to the pier.

weeping angel don't blink
Don't Blink
 Brighton pier is free to walk on, and there are free deckchairs too. So on a warm or sunny  day (it wasn't cold but neither was it sunny on the day we visited) it's a great cheap way to 'people watch'. There are all the usual seaside fun things to do, buy food (whelks, cockles, prawns etc or donuts, waffles, frozen yoghurt with fruit, rock) or buy souvenirs (sunglasses, jewellery, temporary tattoos, cuddly toys) There are stalls to win things (tiny crap cuddly toys unless you win 1000 times!) by flinging balls at cans or shooting arrows from a bow, or even as easy as hooking a duck.

zoltar fortune telling ticket
 There are amusements, all the usual fun of the fair, fortune telling machines, coin shove games, air hockey (including a new one that throws load of pucks onto the table at once! It looked awesome!), slot machines, shooting and driving games.

elvis wedding seaside
 There are places to have your picture taken peeping through comedy pictures, and then, finally, at the far end, the fun fair rides.

I can't praise Brighton Pier highly enough. The rides are great fun and a wrist band for UNLIMITED rides is only £15 - after 4 rides the rest are 'free' - The rides are priced by 'token' - a token is £1 and the number of tokens varies but to ride all of the adult thrill rides would cost £42 in tokens.

DD and I got wristbands and were suitably terrified on the Crazy Mouse (each corner looks like you will be flung into the sea), looped the loop on the Turbo Coaster, DD nearly wet herself in terror on the Horror Hotel, but no one would have noticed as we had wet backsides from the Wild River log flume! We rode the dodgems (ace driving by me obviously) and had several rides on the amazingly fun Galactica, we even had a ride on the golden horses of the Carousel.

We were really impressed with the rides and the price, lots more choice and cheaper than Butlins (our next closest 'theme park' style location. We are already planning a full day there to make use of the unlimited rides.

DD finished off the trip with a waffle.... on a stick.

The great British seaside day out wins!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Perfect Babies

When I was a kid, I knew a family with a little boy that had Down's Syndrome. His nickname was Wiggy because he wriggled so much, he was hilarious and very fun to be with. When I was an older teen my best mate introduced me to her pub quiz team mate, he had Down's Syndrome, he liked to visit the pub, have a beer and chat with his friends, he liked the pub quiz evenings too, and was better than me at the questions. And life went on, and I forgot about them both.


I got pregnant after 6 months of trying, when I was 34. I was only a year off being officially designated an 'older mum' by the NHS. And my husband, 20 years my senior, was quite obviously an 'older dad'. We were both very excited (actually he was terrified! LOL) about having a baby, a small person, a 'mini-me' joining us.

And then of course there was all the usual stuff, I went to my GP to tell him I was pregnant. I had no idea how all this medical care worked, so I expected being told how the NHS would sort things etc. Instead I saw a locum GP (a woman) who looked at me as if I was crazy and then said "and?"...

"erm" I replied "don't you check I really am? or schedule check ups or something?"

She laughed "not yet, I'll just take your word for it, come back in a few weeks"

So I did. Eventually the old wheels began turning, midwives said hello, blood was taken, blood pressure checked. And then at a routine appointment my (male) GP asked when I was having my nuchal scan and Down's testing.

"I'm not" I replied.

"Why not?" he asked, surprised.

"Because there's no point" I said "I won't have a termination and heart defects will be picked up on my dating scans anyway"

There was silence and then he said "I know if I knew I was having a Down's baby I would have a termination"

Would you, I thought, would you really. Well then it's lucky that a) you're a man and never likely to be pregnant and b) that I'm this baby's mum not you and c) that it's not up to you! I was silent too though, until I eventually, and probably fairly quietly said "well I'm sure, I don't want a test"

"We'll put down 'undecided' on the form" he said "Then the nurses can ask you again when you've had time to think about it"

I had thought about it. A lot. As I was oldish and my husband was older I had had a sort of nervous background mental hum saying "this baby might be disabled you know, it might have Down's syndrome, it will look different, have learning disabilities, have a terrible life...."

I had lain awake at night thinking it. I had gone to the shops thinking it. I had talked to my husband about it and he was really afraid that if this baby wasn't 'perfect' we wouldn't cope. I had thought about almost nothing else since I got pregnant. I hadn't worried that I might lose the baby. A common fear among mothers, but that the baby would be 'faulty', I'd worried about that a lot.

Early on I talked to the baby, calling the tiny thing (as yet un-sexed) the 'peanut' and chatting about day to day things. My husband wanted a girl, he believed that girls were the future and could do everything boys do and then some!(turns out he was right)  I wanted a boy, cute in dungarees, collecting snails and making mud dams in streams...
I didn't want a 'faulty' baby.

And then one day, after we had had a couple of scans, and finally knew that the peanut was a girl, we went to Lewes for a day. We sat in a park, we watched children at a wedding, dressed in cute, smart Sunday best and playing hide and seek around the trees. They jumped and ran, they squealed and laughed and I stroked my new bump and thought of our baby. And then...and then one of the children turned around and she had Down's Syndrome and she was beautiful, and perfect, and funny, and laughing and just like all the other children and in one heartbeat my baby was perfect whatever she turned out to be.

(I got teary eyed typing that - what a wuss)

When DD was born, one week late yet under weight and still covered in downy hair, she was my beautiful baby.

Of course if you've seen and read about DD you'll know she doesn't have Down's Syndrome.

Funny thing though, about genetic diseases. When DD was 2 I was diagnosed with Hereditary Motor and Sensory Neuropathy (also known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth or CMT). They do genetic testing for that you know...I expect you can get a termination based on it...we haven't had DD tested.

I'd like to thank Hayley at Downssideup for the lovely picture of her famous super model daughter Natty :-)

Thursday, August 21, 2014


DD gets terrible hay fever. She gets it in the spring and in the autumn usually, and it's been really bad this week so I guess autumn really is here!

When we went to Camp Bestival we took with us a lovely wicker hamper and a prettily coloured picnic blanket thoughtfully supplied by Piriton's PR team. (Thank you - we've been using it all summer!)

They wanted us to know about the Camp Bestival low allergy garden. What a great idea! While it seems DD copes OK in the garden most of the summer (I think she is a tree and grass pollen allergy type) it's nice to see things that kids can enjoy outside while taking allergies into account.

The vibrant, low allergen garden was designed for all of the family to enjoy, with a dedicated play area for children. The Sneeze Free Garden was created using low-allergen plants, to be appreciated by all who visited the space.
Visitors to the Sneeze Free Garden were also able to learn more about allergies and what causes them by visiting the allergy advice hut, where there was an expert on hand to
provide allergy advice.

We didn't get the chance to actually go in as it was always so busy! Lots of happy kids playing in sand and mums chatting, it looked lovely!
child sniffing a rose copyright 123rf photo
Copyright: erika8213 / 123RF Stock Photo
Suggestions and advice on planting for those with allergies from the Piri Allergy Website include

"Plants that pollinate using the wind are the worst. These plants send
their pollen out into the world to find other plants. Unfortunately,
they often find allergy sufferers.

Some flowers have a heavier pollen that is not spread by the
wind, but instead is transported by the birds who are attracted to the
flower's bright colour and nectar. These are the flowers that you should
plant if you suffer from allergies because you are less likely to come
into contact with their pollen.

Some perennials that are garden friendly for allergy
sufferers are daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, iris, tulips, columbine,
coral bells, peonies, and the ever popular day lily. Bougainvillea and
azaleas are also on this list.

Annuals which have no history of causing allergies are
impatiens, snapdragons, and petunias, geraniums, verbena, pansies, and

Roses are some of the least offending flowers. Their pollen
is large, and less likely to be spread around in the wind. Hybrid roses
have even less pollen than wild roses and their varieties. When choosing
a rose bush, the rule to obtain the least pollen is to choose the rose
with the least smell. A pale pink Cecile Brunner rose and the Banksia
rose produce no pollen whatsoever."

Our garden is fairly good for allergies and mostly perennial flower free, we plant impatiens, geraniums and pansies in the summer, but we do have a rather large silver birch - one of the worst offenders! Poor DD - thank goodness for antihistamines!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Well would you look at this!

Ladles and JellySpoons,

I come before you, to stand behind you, to tell you something I know nothing about... (I blogged about silly rhymes here)

This silly introduction seemed apt. I am about to alert you to a product that I have not tried! Have not seen in the flesh and haven't tested!

BUT details of it were emailed to me and I'll be honest I think it looks good!  It's not cheap, but it's on offer at the moment.

'What is this awesome thing?' I hear you mutter - well it is a lunch carrier. Not a box and yet not really a bag. Insulated and also doubles as a place mat when opened up and once empty squashes up into a small flat space in your bag. All of those things appealed to me! Oh and it's machine washable! Hooray - not more trying to wipe out crumbs, or rinsing stuff in the sink.

DD being a teen doesn't want some 'naff' lunch box all plastic and character themed, and while for some time she had a solid box, its lack of insulation was a problem. We bought a plain squishy insulated 'bag' type but it has a 'wipe clean' interior, the corners get full of crumbs and it's just a pain to clean. I really like the look of these neoprene lunch carriers. They come in lots of funky colours too.

What do you think? Am I sucked in by clever advertising? Or do they look good to you too? At just under £20 (currently) are they too expensive?

Love to hear your thoughts.

I haven't been paid, I haven't got a free lunch box, I haven't even been sent a kiss from The Nicest Stuff - though they have followed me on twitter :-)