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... 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?


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