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In which ever way possible, I hope all of those reading this have had a Christmas that held some fun, traditions, not too many family rows or sore heads but most of all, a cup flowing over with love!

Christmas: A time for goodwill to men and stress for most women!

Forgive me for the brevity of today's blog. In short, I am exhausted!
 
Last week I mentioned that I had two Christmas babies  Well, one had a milestone birthday this year - so cue the notch up on the stress meter scale, as I came up with the 'brilliant' plan of a surprise party.

Une Femme à Londres. Part II

Previously, I wrote of my visit to the Cheapside Hoard Exhibition, at the Museum of London. Having some knowledge of the area, I had realised that walking from the City to my original planned destination, Borough Market, was easily achieved via the walking bridge.

One thing I would encourage all London visitors to do, is to consider walking around London like this and save the public transport for the weary end of the day/back to home-base journey.

Festivities moving forward to the end of a year

 
It's a little stressful at this time of year, especially as I have two Christmas babies - er, I mean giants. I know most of you (and I don't think I'd be too far out of order to suggest the majority are female?) will be reaching the whistling stage on the pressure cooker-o-meter.

The Force of Nature


 
Last weekend we had a scheduled visit to the North Norfolk coast. When we arrived we were amongst a small crowd watching the force of the third tidal surge buffeting the sea defences and promenade of Cromer seafront. The waves were reaching in excess of nine metres high.

The Ideal of a Free Society



I was six years old the day that I first stepped onto South African soil. On a journey to the Far East, our ship had docked in Cape Town harbour. With hindsight, it was presumably to take on fuel and supplies but for me, it was so that I could go to the top of a very big hill that had had its top sliced off. I had never seen a mountain before, by the way.

There are three things that I have held onto from that day.

The first is that when you are on the top of Table Mountain, it’s not very flat at all. I would have broken bones if I had tried to run over it, which is what I wanted to do.

The second, when you look down into the bay, you can see the waves breaking on the shore. It doesn’t actually look like they’re moving, it is just one long line of froth. I stood there mesmerised; for ages. The third, makes me weep to this day.

The Cable Car broke down. We were stuck on the top of Table Mountain and our ship, which we could see below, was due to sail that evening. Without us.

With a movie-like script the cable car problem was fixed, in time for the women and children to descend first. Arriving tired and hungry on the quayside we were hurried along to board the ship and it was then, with the curiosity of a child and being a ‘good reader,' I saw the notice:

No Blacks Allowed

"Why Mummy, Why?" I can’t remember how my Mother answered that one. There couldn’t be an explanation to something that, even to a white middle class six year old English girl, was wrong, so very, very wrong.

Researching this blog I came across Mike Bennett. I think I have something in common with Mike Bennett and it’s not writing songs!

I would suggest that unless you see a notice like that, you cannot understand the lifelong gut wrenching vulgarity that it caused me. But that notice went on to shape the adult I became. I remain as abhorrent of injustice and prejudice as on that day, all those years ago.

Which is why, on Friday 5th December, as I went to bed, I shed a few tears for former Robben Island prisoner 46664 because without him, we would not have seen a photograph like this



I know little of the politics but I do know that Nelson Mandela was a human being who orchestrated some good, good things. May his cherished soul rest in the peace.



Thanks to Getty images and the Telegraph for the perficpics







The seed has grown into a newly designed blog page!

Although my paid work involves social media I am not able to utilise it for business in the same way as most companies can. This is simply because of the privacy and caution that’s required. But I wanted to know and develop more.

As I’ve previously mentioned Social Media’s uses really excite me.

Then I got an invitation to attend the Futureproof your Career Event at the British Library.

First of all - WHAT a venue Secondly, what a grown up singleton moment. I was time restraint free, with like-minded women, wasn’t the oldest there and quaffing fizzy stuff with canapés. I was back where I belonged!!

So, feeling singularly sophisticated, we trooped into the Auditorium and all 255 of us sat down, pinned our lug holes back and listened to Sasha Wilkins, owner of one of the Sunday Times top 100 blogs in the world. The cool and sophisticated co-founder of Moonfruit, Wendy Tan White (too C and S to accept my Linkedin reach out L) and Tarmara Herber-Percy co-founder of Mr and Mrs Smith (now they know some good places for sipping fizz!)

It was an inspiring and energising event. It made me realise that, like the Liberty London Girl 13 years before, I wanted a voice. And even if my voice wasn’t heard by the masses, it could be – at a convenient time, by the people who really need to know.

So, you see, my sign off for this blog is sometimes it’s easy to slip into our PJ’s/onesies and follow the cycle of our Mummy/Return to work Mother life. But I think if we don’t take a chance and reach outside our comfort zone – dropping our blinkers and do something that we think we may not like. We may not develop or be inspired or even eat the best olives that we’ve ever tasted!

And if I had not done all those things, there wouldn’t be a Return to Work Mother Blog. And likewise, if I hadn’t really liked a red skirt worn by Karen Goodbrand, I wouldn’t be ‘sat’ in the middle of my beautiful new blog design created with Jen at Magic Feather Designs. And I wouldn’t have you devoting some of your precious time to read it, either. So, thank you, all of you.

Do you like what you see?



It’s beginning to look a lot like …..



So here we are, on the cusp of a weekend and the edge of the month of December. That can mean only one thing – the beginning of our own self- enforced period of TRADITION!

For as long as the little giants can remember, on the 1st December the Christmas decorations and sparkly lights ‘appeared’ magically when they arrived home from school or awoke from slumber. As parents, our own childhood traditions converged with the green shoots of new ones from our thoughts and wishes.

One of my traditions start on the 1st of December, when my pre-children copy of A Christmas Carol appears by my bedside. Every year for over two decades I’ve immersed myself in Dickens’ articulate description of a Victorian Christmas. His prose on greed and poverty, the bitter cold and health issues are so imbedded in my head that as soon as my eyes grasp "Marley was dead, to begin with." I am instantly transported back to that counting house near Cornhill. Yet how much of its substance resonates today?

Yesterday, as I walked out of Starbucks with my coffee to go, I saw a gentleman shaking out the pain and cold from his dirt stained, weary body. Having spent the night in a Waterstones’ doorway, I felt he may have needed my coffee more than me - and what’s a coffee compared to the millions that our population have donated to the recent Children in Need and Philippine cause?

Well, if you haven’t heard of it, this weekend can I introduce you to the Suspended Coffee. What a great idea, don’t you think?

And there you have it, as well as a visit to one of the many Christmas Markets popping up all over the country, I believe I have the start of another new tradition. And one that I can quite literally pass on to others. Have you tried it already?

***

I have other exciting times this weekend. My Blog is going to be bejazzled into a new identity. This will mean that for some of the weekend, it will be under construction. Also, my To Start the Week Blog will be delayed until Monday evening - when it will be 'Ladies and Gentleman, I give to you ...'

See you then!





Bullying, a Newsworthy Issue





I don’t expect there are many of us who have not been bullied at some point in our life, perhaps are even being bullied now?

In my previous To Start the Week Blog, I spoke of the power of Social Media and certainly this and the ability to search for whatever you want on the web, is probably causing a good few parents some sleepless nights of worry, following recent cases of cyber bullying. Additionally, as I write this post, the shocking news of a 30 year case of bullying is breaking news.

I introduced you to ‘the inspirational’ Seth Godin, a writer, speaker and agent of change in my Less SoMe Worries, more Blogs and Action post. I ‘met’ him on my Twitter account. Actually, I waved at him across a very crowded virtual room and he’s been far too popular to wave back yet. He regularly emails me though, which is nice, especially as he has the knack of dropping into my inbox with just the right amount of inspiration, 90% of the time.

So, I was surprised that two emails on the same subject, Workplace Bullying appeared within two days of each other. Why the recurring theme? Seth, are you having a hard time?

Reading his posts reminded me of a former colleague who was reduced to a sobbing wreck, every working day, because of the severity of how she was bullied. She’s fine now; moved on, recovered her self- confidence and had herself a baby. I know she's not forgotten though.

Seth’s Bullying is Theft post summed up exactly what happened. Here is an extract:

"The bully frightens away some of your best employees, because they can most easily find another place to work. He also silences the eager and the earnest, the people with great ideas who are now too intimidated to bother sharing them. His behavior has robbed your organization of the insight that could open so many doors in the future."

These posts led me to wonder how many stories and victims of workplace bullying there must be out there and whether any of you would be willing to share your tales of misery and, hopefully, survival and inspiration with me?

Like the consideration of what the next topic of Seth’s blog will be, I will have to wait and see!




With thanks to bullyingabout.com for the perfickpic

Be-jewelled and Be-lovelied

Last weekend Philip Treacy and Vogue led me to a secret horde of buried treasure – right in the middle of the City of London.





I was having one of my Grown up days and had aimed to discover Borough Market (and see how it compared to the Treacle Market). However, I had seen the Elizabeth Fremantle article in the October 2013 edition of Vogue (and a Blog post from Sasha Wilkins, featuring some cheeky little Philip Treacy hats) and I thought around my geographical head and realised that I could combine a visit to the Lost Jewels Exhibition at the Museum of London.

Of course we started off with a Coffee in the Sackler Hall Café. This is at the bottom of the building and was a lot more genteel affair than the tiny entrance hall café, which is the coffee serving equivalent of a trawl net.




Light and spacious with helpful, pleasant staff and delicious trays of a wondrous variety of cakes – this proved too tempting!
On to deposit coats, bags and cameras (in lockers that require a non-returnable pound) and it was past the Gurka Security Guard (I feel I have to nod to Joanna Lumley there) and lovely Museum lady, into the vault holding the exhibition.


Honestly, it’s well worth a visit but don’t think sparkly - think exquisite. As one fellow visitor exclaimed ‘What did working on this intricacy do to their eyes!’ The montage above cannot do justice. There were too many items of Tudor lust to mention, these BBC photographs showcase some of them beautifully.

There was a lot more information and knowledge to be gleaned than I anticipated; I would much prefer a guided tour . As with the Pompeii exhibition, the light was subtle and it becomes a bit of an art to dodge your shadow as you read the information cards below you.

Read more in this online Vogue article, where I sourced the Museum of London photo montage. And while you’re there, do make use of your time by walking around the whole Museum (it is very manageable) to discover London from its source to the Olympics, Royal Birth and beyond. I was very impressed by the exhibition that was clearly aimed at teenagers.

With thanks to the Museum of London and Vogue for the photo montage of the jewels







A hard day at the lending library





Friday nights were swimming, junk food and library nights. My weekend started there …

In the week of my usual cut and fluff I see that a voucher site survey has concluded that we keep our hairdressers longer than our husbands (hurrumph! Could the same not be said about barbers and husbands?)

That questionable offering aside, I settled down into my long-term hairdresser’s padded chair of pampering, smoothed and opened the cover of my favourite design mag and devoured the Editor’s December Letter – whilst sipping my hot chocolate and tearing off pieces of almond croissant. Oh Yeah, I do it in style girlfriend!

Michelle Ogundehin has introduced me to some interesting discoveries (more of another time) but a letter she wrote, titled Borrowing Culture reminded me of some very fond childhood memories, both for myself and with the little giants.

The article was about, brace yourself – LIBRARIES! Albeit starting with la crème de la crème, Birmingham and its wrapped present architecture – then moving on to Brighton which seems to have more going on than a Fat Boy Slim download (what the **** is baby boogie doing in a library?!)

My local library isn’t the business model of either of these two literary Burberry equivalents, but at one time it was my regular Friday date night. Exhausted from the single-mother-style of childcare week, I moth flew to the light of its motherly cocoon. With the little giants aiming straight for the return desk and then to choose a visual feast (‘new books first, new books first!’), I could flick through a magazine (I’d never normally read) and contemplate the glass of red that waited patiently underneath its corked hat.

That was the way we were and back in the present, I smiled.

Michelle wrote sense. Why is it that these public service providers are being allowed to disintegrate into extinction? Why are the principles of commercial enterprise not being used for their non-commercial benefit?

I don’t think this is progress; it’s a lack of it! From what I see there’s no innovation, energy or motivation to encourage people to support my local library. No essential Wi-Fi to encourage people in. No use of social media to get out into the community and tell them what’s happening within the four walls. Is it so wall to wall busy that library staff can't sign a Social Media Policy and start socialising and assisting their job security? To be honest, in my local, things haven’t moved forward since those rainy, dark Friday night memories. Apart from the staff – who seem to have been unceremoniously dumped and replaced with some who aren’t the most diplomatic with their welcome greeting of ‘you’ve got a fine’ (LSH not me!).

Yes, I don’t support the local like I used to, but neither do the pensioners who were 9 am regulars on the 3 mornings that are no more. Or those who no longer have a need to book an hour slot at the PC. Nor those who know nothing of memories created, finger poised over smart phone, listening to a librarian read their little terrors a story they remember from their childhood.

So, Michelle, my response to you is, I believe the dwindling numbers of libraries is because they lack the energy and vision of your publication, or the ability to provide for the needs and requirements of their customer, like my hairdresser does.
If they did, then it is certain that the survey results would be unquestionable: Loyalty to local libraries last longer than marriages. Tick.

This post is dedicated to Sue, the librarian whose patience helped the little giants complete their Summer Reading Challenges.






A sticky suggestion for your Christmas shopping

Hey!  So what were you expecting from this post? A Chocolate Bogof from the local branch of a chain store?

No way!! Today I take you North and to one of the Ten Best Farmers’ Markets in England. Let me introduce you to … the Treacle Market.





The first time I went to this market was a year ago. It was a wet bedraggled end of the day affair. LSH was ‘resting his eyes’ and I wanted to breathe the air of the silky industrial town that has a hold on my affection. Lying in the shadow of the Peak District, Macclesfield is the original home of the Hovis loaf. But before the chords of the New World Symphony start playing in your head (for those of us South of the Watford Gap) don’t just think quaint cobbled streets (although they are here and it does feel like you will ‘walk to the top of the world’) – think quality AND northern friendliness.

Then you will have hit the nail on the head.

This time I hauled LSH up the hill to the epicentre and then I gasped. This market had developed into serious business, no wonder it has won awards and accolades. To start, of course, was a choice of coffee stalls and then it was a whisk around, taking photo’s to show you, buying a birthday present for my sis,





spice rubs, Morecombe bay prawns, pies, oatcakes (delish btw), pasta sauces and then I realised we had only scratched the surface and we had to get to my much loved in-laws, for one of their gorgeous English breakfasts. A well worthwhile reason for estrangement – but I will have to return. No doubt about that!





In case you haven’t followed the links, the Market is on two more times before Christmas, next Sunday, the 24th November and Sunday the 22nd December.





Its usual delicious slot is the last Sunday of every month. If you do go, let me know what you like best and what fantastically inspirational Christmas presents you bought!


 


thanx to carltonreid for the perficvid




Monday 22nd July 2013






Using Social Media energises me but its powerful, unyielding and surging nature can both horrify and alarm me too.

Whether you are a Bajan pop goddess or a 16 year old Youth Commissioner in waiting, it can make and destroy reputations in its path. Is it the Minotaur of the internet world?

Likewise many businesses – from titchy to blue chip, either shudder with ignorance or try valiantly to break in this metaphorical stallion. For me, one of the most visual examples of its strength and one I'm sure many of us would have been part of, happened on the 22nd July 2013.

On the hottest day of the year, a Prince and future King was born. The world was in a frenzy, vying to be the first to take a picture, learn the gender or a name. First, first, first was de rigour (nod to London Fashion Week there).

But what of social media - this medium that aspires to be premier in viral-ity?

This time it had lost the swerve on the control button and journalists were forced to practice its backbone of re-hashing the same news repeatedly throughout the day. And when I say re-hashing, you can take it as both the slang and the symbolic tagging here.

But there remained we masses, trawling and waiting as eagerly for the news as for the deluge that cooled the temperature of the night ahead. Despite the same old news, we continued to connect. Until the previously insisted (the announcement will not be made online) method of proclamation was consigned to a vintage 19 minute time delay. Instead an email and a tweet prevailed over tradition.

And there lies the key. For social media to succeed you must give your audience something that interests and connects them. If you achieve that, they may keep with you on your journey and be listening out for what you could be saying next.

Still not convinced? Take a link to how ASOS is an example of a business that has benefited from this powerful medium (but for how long?). What ever your reason for reaching out, why not give it a try? You could be a world wide spider before you know it!





Today I will be pausing to respect and remember all those who have died in conflict.
This blog is dedicated to my father, who I will also be thinking about today. X

Warning – This Blogpost will be upsetting


I am not an activist but I abhor cruelty and injustice and this is what I am writing about in this week's Something for the Weekend Blog.

I need a coffee coffee, a coffee is what I need



I have known for quite some time, but feel I have to admit to my addiction, whether I visit London, Museums or Norfolk, my day will often be started up with a cappuccino.

It is my exhale to adulthood - but has become the symbol and pause for far more than the sum of it's equal parts.

When the second giant was born, we moved to a new area, left our friends, our pre-child location and ability to have access to an on-tap babysitting service. In addition, I gave up my career and became a Stay at Home Mother.

I was very lucky to be able to do that. I had been through the speed wheel of juggling childcare and paid employment but, as all those who have done, are doing and will make this move, caring for children full time, has its own challenges. Hence, when I was able to, I took action to become a Return to Work Mother.

Whether a Stay at Home or Return to Work Mother I think there is one thing that we can fail miserably at and that is taking time out for ourselves alone.

This is the reason why I took time out and took a photo of a single cup of coffee on a shiny table.

And whether you are taking a sip with the friends that you meet to catch up with, filling the time between the next pick up/drop off/daily task, having a grown up day away or just sitting and watching the world go by - the most important thing that we Mothers (or Dads) should do, and more often than not don't, is allow ourselves to take a little grown up time to ourselves.

So, whatever your Coffee (tea or hot chocolate) ... Enjoy! Because I certainly know that I have earned the opportunity to do just that, haven't you?

Hey, Hey!!









An Autumn Weekend in Norfolk

In my How was it for you? Blog, I spoke about my long car journeys to Norfolk. Well just as the weather became changeable I snuck off to the coast to take in a bit of fresh air and fun (sorry, childhood memories of the Northern sort there!)





I was lucky to get the calm before the St Jude Storm and wanted to tell you about the British seaside that shouldn’t just be kept to the Summer.





De-camping in Cromer means that you get the traditional Victorian Seaside town that I love but with the addition of some local businesses that deliver my present day ‘essentials’.

It’s nice to have a first class beauty pamper, with a first class price tag. Followed by a cappuccino where the staff are friendly and the view is priceless.

At this time of year the beaches are expansively quiet and after my facial and coffee, we walk east to Overstrand. It’s so relaxing gazing at the sea and the birds and the changing nature of the beach and colours of autumnal vegetation on the cliffs behind.




On the top of the cliff there is a café that is open most of the year.



But normally we will stroll to the loosely termed centre and enjoy a glass of something fizzy and maybe some tapas or fresh fish, at the local hostelry. Then, if we're too chilled for the walk back – we’ll time it just right to get the bus.

Perfect! ;)




thanx to hawkmoon03111951 for the perficvid






... to the moon and back again




Although I feel less an empty nester and more a worrier that all is ok with our giant fledgling, one of those AWK-ward moments, that can happen between parent and adult child, came bubbling to the surface recently.

At the end of one of my ‘Mum to Giant’ communications, I started feeling that the geographical distance needed more than a ‘take care’ sign off to our conversations. Which raised the question, how do you convey the depths of your feelings when you have never openly said ‘I love you’ to your grown up child?

Let’s be clear, (I hope) I wasn’t the hard and cold Victorian style ma who never showed affection past the words ‘pull yourself together’. When they were smaller giants, I had one (bedtime story) arm for each lovely and sat and cried while reading all types of parent-love books including Danny, who was the Champion of the World, a Horse who went to War, Baby Owls and Little and Big Nut Brown Hares.

I cried because (well, I do cry easily) the books triggered that ache in the pit of my stomach as the ‘this is what a Mother’s love's like’ nerve, shot its electrical signal probably, straight to that fist shaped muscle in the middle of my chest. And I remember the ease of indulgent kisses affirming my feelings.

In these mobile times, I have to admit that I squirm when I hear ‘love you’ as a seemingly throwaway comment, after the farewell and before the end click and the ‘what’s next?’ post phone call thought process.

I’m not passing judgement here; it’s just how I feel.

So returning to my current awkward moment, I knew I wanted to say something that wouldn't embarrass either party! But there I was stumbling over my love endorsing comment and, I have to say, I think it was a messy mix of blurb and embarrassment – by all involved!

So, I am back to square one and feel I should revert to a childhood memory to gauge my level of affection and simply say I love my giants … to the moon … and back again!

This blog is dedicated to my inspirational friend, who inspired it and who is loved very much!


Thanks to Sam, Anita and Walker Books for the perficpic


A Summer Wedding (and the dress was by … )



This weekend the clocks are ‘fall – ing’ back and next week our mornings and evenings will be darker and probably colder and damper too. Soooo excuse my randomness in grasping at one of my happy memories of the (wonderful weather’d) summer we had, to give you a keyhole glimpse into a truly beautiful English Wedding.

The Return to Work Mother Foodie

Admission: I would like to say that I am not a reader of Newspapers. Call it my protest against manipulative power – I don’t like, so I don’t buy! However, LSH buys a broadsheet and I am quite happy to peruse the colourful bits that come with, whilst he disappears under the voluminous print.

This weekend featured the Monthly Food mag and that is a perfect flick through when sat at the Rocket House Café having my regular cappuccino. Lots of awards this month including an androgynously gorgeous Nigella but, after noting down all the recommendations for hostelries and eateries, the piece that struck me most was the one about The Skint Foodie.

I haven’t had time to explore his site thoroughly yet, but I know I will ASAP - I think I will discover and learn so so much.

Following on from last Monday’s food motivated post I give to you my follow-on offerings for my Return to work meals.

Monday: Cheese Soufflé with stir fried vegetables (I had not got organized to go shopping, so leftovers and yes, the Soufflé has shrunk from oven to photo!)



Tuesday: Shepherds Pie (I didn't take a photo - I felt that would be condescending and I admit, I was being extravagant buying lamb mince and not beef. The drop in air temperature had me yearning for the difference in flavour)

Wednesday: Mushroom Lasagne with a Rocket, Beetroot and Walnut salad (delicious but youngest giant wasn't convinced about the Lasagne)



  
Thursday: Herby Chicken and Leek pie with Carrot and Potato Rosti topping (not a brilliant photo but, served just with the colourful addition of peas, it went down a storm)
 


Friday: A proper take away as we were in Norfolk (more of another time)

as I had a lazy cooking weekend, I'm adding the dinner that I had prepped and youngest giant finished off for me, for our return ...

Sunday: Braised Shoulder of Pork in a Crème Fraiche, Dijon and Tarragon Sauce with Roasties and Curly Kale
 


Please forgive the meal colours taking on the hue of the Dutch national football team. Blame the World cup, the contents of my veg box or my inadequate menu planning – what the hell tho', we’re through to Brazil!


The Tate Britain – matchstick men, animals and a rent collector




Link from the Tate Britain website

Last weekend I went on a pre-booked visit to the Lowry Exhibition. I have childhood memories of Christmas day journeys through the soot stained streets of Salford. Viewed with my nose pressed against a back seat window, wiping the condensation off for a better view of the great hulks in Salford docks. So therefore, I have history.

Tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers


I love food, to begin with. Usually I live to eat but, as I’m sure many Return to Work Mothers will agree, cooking the meal at the end of the day can be the last thing that you need, to say the least.

The Amazing Godfather

‘Look at the eyes’, she instructed and as the iconic theme waltzed into our ears a gruff voice informs our enthusiastic audience ‘I believe in America’. Neck hairs still bristling (from said iconic theme) there is a collective intake of breath as we realise that the gruff voice is coming from a ‘skull’, complete with glinting tooth.


The Next Step

So after falling without style and the terror of taking a leap into the unknown (mascara or no), there’s no way forward – unless you have a plan.

I wanted to work again. Paid work. I was fired up from my Women Returners course and I had started to work out the structure of My Plan.

The little giants were getting older and were at school all day. I knew I had no support system to cover childcare (sickness and school holidays) but I refused to make that a barrier. I thought I’d tackle that if and when I had to. I knew a huge barrier was the fact that IT had moved so far from the spot it had been in when I had given up paid employment to look after the boys. So the answer to that was to re-train.

Let me tell you, I had not liked senior school and the thought of having to go back to the classroom again was not appealing, but that was tough and it had to be done. I fitted my re-education around the children's school hours and then the next step was getting experience.

I was going into a completely different sector. I couldn’t work the long and unsociable hours of my previous career and I had to prove that I could do the work for my chosen RTW. So, the next step was signing on with some agencies and taking their excruciating tests. I intended to work around the school day and terms, to build up some experience and have the prospect of getting good references.

I was lucky. My first placement was in a school. As I was coming to the end of my placement, they asked me if I wanted to consider a new job. The position would make fantastic use of my existing experience AND my new qualifications.

Problem: It was full time. I couldn’t do that, I loved the sound of the job and I really wanted to take it but I didn’t want to put the little giants into childcare so soon. I told my prospective employer that I believed I would have the ability to have a damn good tackle at doing and excellent job in the reduced hours. I knew I had the experience and competence (and the cheek to suggest it).

I got the job! And I have to say it was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. But there are a few things I want to highlight here:

I could have given up at the first hurdle, ie. my lack of childcare (which may well be a hurdle for you too)

Try to take an objective view of what you might have to do to take the next step. And do it! (eg. getting re-educated)

Consider work options that would work for you. Mine was working in a school and you may be able to pick up those vacancies on your council’s website, like this one from Cumbria.

Go on, why not give it a try?



Museums - cheap sources of fun?







The gloom of old Mother Hubbard has descended on me. Following Eldest Giant’s departure to uni. The enforced tightening of my fiscal non Gucci belt has meant none of my longed for visits to ‘the smoke’.

I am well aware that many RTWMs have to rely on the availability of babysitting adults, before they even reach for the tube map. Hence I issue the disclaimer: I appreciate every second of my ‘new found freedom’.

Pre-children, we lived in London – but never took full advantage of its bounteous offerings. Meanderings consisted of

1. Commuting

2. Eating

3. The golden shopping triangle: Covent Garden/Oxford Street/Knightsbridge

Admittedly, I had also perfected a slick ‘sightseeing tour’ for all our visiting northern relatives. This involved the number 15 bus and a round city walk of a couple of hours. It could include Jermyn Street (very pretty on a gloomy, wet, winter’s evening) but, by this point, said relatives’ eyes tended to be glazing over, due to scintillating commentary such as ‘There’s Simpsons – it sells Daks, their tailoring is excellent.’ A couple of cocktails and a burger at Maxwells (complete with indian style relish tray – those were the days) got their spirits back up though.

So, coming back to the future, I now have carte blanche and have launched into regular commutes exploring a different side of the London I used to know. Behind the touristy hordes - and into its nooks and crannies.

My last visit involved dragging my sisters around Kensington Palace and Islington but, as the weather has taken on a sloshy, autumnal stance – can I suggest to you …. Museums?!

They are inexpensive, warm and often have astonishingly informative events and exhibitions, without a yawn in sight.

My first introduction has to be the British Museum. Close to the beautiful Russell Square, it feels like a huge space that envelops you with its vast meld of modern and ancient architecture. Honestly, you have to see it to believe it!

We went to see the Pompeii Live exhibition. It wouldn’t be my first choice, especially as we had taken the little giants to see Herculaneum (photo opportunity above) and Le Lune di Pompeii when they were little enough to fall into a storage jar.

But it was good and I left with a feeling of gloom, loss and genuine sadness as the reality of how they perished, was really brought to life.

And I know I wasn’t the only one feeling it on exiting, as well as absolute awe at the logistics involved in organising the exhibition.

And if any of you are trying to suppress a yawn – think on. The Court Restaurant could be a welcome retreat (although it was v disappointing that the advertised Pompeii menu was not available when we went!). Overpriced, I think so, but the service was good. The Prosecco was delightful and the olives? The best I have tasted in a long time.

Still unsure? Well let me link you to Shunga The Japanese equivalent of SexyBack.

NOW will you consider outside your comfort zone?

PS. Smiley Friday tomorrow?


Less SoMe Worries, more Blogs and Action




Are there any other Return to Work Mothers who add worries to worries?

Here I am trying to get my head ‘round whether this concept is going to work and I realise it’s all been one long concept of worrying from – well, pre-conception!

Will it happen? It’s happened – am I ready? I’m in labour – am I able? Sh*t! What do I do now? Am I the drabbest Mum in the world? Who am I? Is it wrong if I want to go back to work? Who the hell would want me to work for them? How/what/where/when ….

Do you relate to the picture?

The long and short of it is, I suppose, I can procrastinate as many times as I want …. but it doesn’t get things done, achieved, launched – whatever!

Without the first, well, you know – I wouldn’t be a mum, without every first along the journey back to work, I wouldn’t be a return to work mum. So for all of the folic acid, nursery décor, frayed nerves and re-inventions I’ve had, I’ve just had to launch.

And, as the inspirational Seth Godin says: Not even once?

No. Eight times today. Just short of £1k views (thank you so much) and 1 comment, from my sis.

Please do tell me … is there anyone out there who feels the same as this - today, yesterday, this week?




thanks to cesitarvg and diryan5 (via photobucket) for the perficpics




How was it for you?





Frequent long car journeys to Norfolk have given a different perspective on the ‘are we nearly there yet’ landscape-cruising. Invariably, due to differing musical tastes, this has resulted in listening to radio programmes I didn’t know existed.

Fed up with musical theatre and sport, the opportunities to be ‘educated’ with various genres of obscure information, included an interview with Danny Wallace. Described as a Journalist, Author, Script-writer and Producer, I inwardly groaned and thought ‘should promoter of recent publication be added to the list?’ Yup, that was exactly what he was doing - Charlotte Street was the tome in question.

Not a bad book. Good for holiday reading for long-suffering- hubby (LSH), moi and youngest Giant in fact. What can I say? It was either a good book or, a holiday that was short on reading material!

Promotion over, the interviewer, with obvious adulation, side-stepped at a tangent and raised the issue of Danny’s random acts of kindness. Danny will explain it better than I can: rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb

Impressed?

 I was.



The Random Act of Kindness Day is, officially, Friday. Personally, I still have a shy reticence in taking the giant karma army step. But tomorrow, Friday, I am going to smile and say hello to strangers. Will that count as a random act of kindness, do you think? Will you join me and see what happens when you greet a stranger too?

I will report back in my To Start the Week blog, how many ‘greets’ and how I felt about the result/s – and I will ask you the question …. ‘How was it for you?’


thanks to alaskaredsfan99 (via photobucket) for the perficpic

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