Saturday, 24 November 2012

Rush Hour Radio

On my drive to work and back I have about half an hour when I don't really want to sit in silence.The CD changer in my car is located under the back seat (handy) Remember when CD changers were the height of cutting edge technology? So thats out, of course. All my CDs are so scratched they refuse to play anymore anyway. So, I have a choice of:

Radio 1 - too shouty. They say things like "Get in" and "Sick" I'm too old for all that

Classic FM - too classical

Radio 4 - bit soap-boxy and highbrow when I'm trying to power up or power down

Heart FM - I'll tell you what, in theory Heart is ok, but here's the thing. On the day Whitney Houston died, I honestly didn't realise she had died because the Heart FM playlist sounded EXACTLY THE SAME as usual! I went off it a bit after that. Surely there must be more songs available?

Local Radio - The commercials make me want to insert skewers into my ears

Finally......Radio 2 - I feel, and it may just be me, that Radio 2 doesn't really know what it wants to be these days. One minute I have Chris Evans being jolly and amusing, with a half-decent playlist, then suddenly I have someone ramming religion down my throat at 8.30 am. Stop it. I don't like it.

I quite like pop master, because Im really good at it and I can tell my children are impressed by my vast knowledge or music from "olden days" I kid you not! But Im not normally in the car at that time of day.

On the way home, I get Simon Mayo. Why oh why on the drive home between 5 and 5.30 did someone think it would be a good idea to choose the worlds Most Boring Subject (changes daily, but common denominator - always boring) and get someone who is an expert on said boring subject to come on air and bore us all on our way home? Annoys me every day! I can't even recall any examples of the subjects to illustrate my point, because - you guessed it - too boring! (there may have been someone who was an expert on traction engines once)
Please cease and desist - I've been at work all day, I've got school run, homework, supper and laundry to look forward to - I want jokes and tunes please!

My parents were devout listeners of Radio 2 - Terry Wogan, Diddy David Hamilton and Sunday lunchtimes with the Just A Minute crew. No wonder I'm disturbed. Now it seems to try and skip backwards and forwards between generations that are redefining themselves all the time.

For about 2 and a  half minutes - my frown turns upside down - Jack FM chimes in! Love Jack FM -  It seems to be that where the coverage between Oxford, Bristol and Swindon converges, I get a tiny little venn diagram's worth of window to listen to a Station that appears to have asked listeners in my "age bracket" - I'm resolutely still 35-45 - what they'd like to hear.

Please Jack FM - keep going, you can do it - just a little more and I'll be able to switch on all the way to work and back!

What do you listen to?

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Stop Hijacking the Soundtrack of my Youth

Its the 80s goth/punk in me who refuses to grow up - but, dear marketers, stop hijacking my music!!

When I worked in advertising in the late nineties it was a pretty young profession (if you can call it a profession) I'm assuming not much has changed and super-trendy, high brow 20-somethings are still brainstorming around the boardroom table about what the "oldies" are spending their cash on.

No doubt it makes some kind of sense and I'm sure there must be "research" to prove that if you use nostalgic tunes from the carefree days of mispent youth, it will comfort the consumer into believing that this car/camera/bag or crisps is a good buy!

Well, stop it, I say. If I hear one more horrible version of a great song or hear a great song attributed to  a rubbish product, I will have a teenage hissy fit.

The Clash, The Buzzcocks, Blondie, we expressed ourelves through bands like these - they were subversive, angry and pre- auto tune, there were a few bum notes  To hear the Soundtrack of my Youth applied to homogenised, shiney, agency-slick ad campaigns (and you know who you are!!) makes me want to - shock - not buy it!

Stop killing the song, dude!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Generation Gap

Seems to me my parents are laughing up their Marks and Spencer's sleeves a bit these days.

So far they have restricted their observations to fairly tame "now you know how we felt" but Im sure I saw them sniggering together, like it was a huge joke!

Thanks for the support Mum and Dad - raising a teenager isn't easy you know!

I have been told by my teenage son and his almost-teenage brother, over the last couple of weeks, what is and isn't acceptable for the parent of today to say out loud.

Clearly I asked their opinions too often as they were growing up!

So far the list of things that sound "gay" "wrong" or "not cool" includes:

not cool
get out
get in
whatever / whatevs
awesome.............oh come on kids, you have to give me "awesome"...........

the list is quite long and getting longer by the day - I think the objective is that eventually I will only be able to communicate by signing (which they will ignore, or have me institutionalised. I bet they do that anyway) I've been told to stop pretending I'm young and cool, because I'm not and its embarrassing. When I point out that I am in fact cool, because I've met the White Stripes, the eldest snorts in derision, as if I've name-dropped Val Doonican! The almost-teenager of course, doesn't know who the White Stripes are anyway.

So I keep sending them texts of the post you've no doubt seen on, about teenagers leaving home while they still know everything!

Only to be told that your mum sending that was "not cool" although it did raise a smile, which is like a beacon of light to me these days, so I felt it was worth the reprimand. Im going to buy it for them for Christmas!

So it seems I have a few years to wait before,  like my Mum and Dad, I can wryly smirk and resist saying "I told you so" (too easy) but my husband and I'll definitely be found crying with laughter at what the NEXT generation can come up with to torment their parents.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Who's Tired?

Hands up if you're tired?

If the thought of summoning enough energy to raise your hand made you just say "meh" then congratulations - you really ARE tired!

We are all. In fact I bet I'm more tired than you! There is a definite competitivie edge to tiredness - are the husbands REALLY as tired as they claim - after all, they get far more (uninterrupted) sleep than we do?

A lady just brought her 14 month old boy in for a browse and told me he hadn't ever slept through - and it brought back all the memories of when T was a baby......he literally didnt sleep and I couldn't make anyone understand how....exhausted doesn't even cover it.........I was.

No doubt I was doing everything wrong - in fact, after an emergency C section, birth plan out the window (hours! HOURS! I spent on that!) I felt like breast feeding my son was the only part of childbirth I had actually got right.

So I fed him on demand. Exclusively, with no formula, for the best part of 18 months. No doubt this caused him to associate feeding with falling asleep and compounded the poor sleep patterns, but I was powerless to resist his anguished screaming. I read all the books, talked to all the health visitors.........but I couldn't let him cry it out.

I felt like a drama queen, when faced with all the other mothers, who were smugly relating what a great relief it was to have "cracked it". Well, I never managed to "crack it." I think T was 7 by the time he finally went to sleep in his own bed, without a fuss and stayed there til morning.

I read a report around that time which dealt with sleep deprivation. It informed me that after a year of broken nights, where the minimum amount of "deep sleep" was consistently not achieved, the number of braincells which would die would leave me borderline retarded.

No shit! I could barely remember whether I had put on underwear in the morning. I do remember my hands used to visibly shake and I received precious little sympathy from the husband, who was clearly of the opinion that he had it bad having to go to work every day and at least I was at home all day long.

So, should I have been tougher? Did it have had a detrimental effect on my son to have such a tired mother? Or did he massively benefit from the bonding and extended breast feeding?

I am, orf course, going with the latter - he's now a big strong 15 year old boy of 6'2. And do you know what the real irony is?

Nowadays, I can hardly get him out of bed!!

This is a really relevant article researched in America, based on a family similar to lots of ours - its worth a look.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

My thoughts on "looking good"

If you've picked up a magazine - trashy or otherwise - or used Mr Internet at all over the last few days, you can't have failed to have been assaulted by the barrage of immaculate images of impossible women strutting their bird-like plumage down the catwalk!

Im talking, of course, about the Victoria's Secret Show.

I actually cant watch it - it feels like a smack round the face that, no matter how many times we read about photoshopped images and unattainable model looks, here are these fabulous myth-like creatures proving that, in the flesh, it is possible (unlikely but possible) to look  THAT good.

Ok, I know the lighting is world-class, they've all lived on green tea and cigarettes for, well, ever and are dipped in bronzer and then rolled in glitter for a week before hand, but still....come on!

If Im unfortunate enough to switch on while they are being interviewed, I am mesmerised like a chubby little rabbit, compelled to listen to the poor girls explaining, in their glamorous model voices, how much they have to work out, how much they eat (you dont look like that if you've ever even glanced at a burger!) and how worried they are about their wobbly thighs. Please. Give me strength.

Yet still Im drawn in, as I suppose we all are; when in the presence of outstanding beauty, whether its art, scenery or the human form, we are programmed to stand and stare in awe.

All of us, with very few exceptions Im sure, after the having of the babies, feel rather differently about our bodies than we did before. The pressures blah blah blah to look good, work out, eat well, dress stylishly, aspire to Victoria's Secret perfection....yes girls you can have it all!........well, you cant! Sorry to be blunt but normal mothers have to compromise because even basic levels of grooming cost a fortune to maintain.

Life is all about compromise, most especially when you have children, because, unless your means are unlimited, you will choose to give things to your children and go without yourself. Whether its new school uniform instead of a new highlights or drive the kids to sport rather than do yoga all afternoon! Its just what we do.

My friend Kate has got it right. She's a photographer - a really good one - and recently she has turned to a new kind of photography. Pictures to remind you that you are beautiful, without retouching, photoshopping or an entire team of makeup artists and hairdressers.

Im definitely going to do this, Kate's lovely and she know's exactly where Im coming from. All the reviews from her happy clients have convinced me.

 I remember the episode of Sex and the City (because Im old and I still love it) where Sam had her naked studio pictures taken so that she could "remind herself when she's 80 that she was a hot piece of ass once!"

And what's wrong with that?

Even Emily Carlisle at The Guardian is a believer!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Drama Drama

Up with the lark on Sunday morning? My only lie in?

Willingly I tell you, I dragged myself (and everyone else) out of bed to take my youngest darling to the Wotton Bassett Arts Festival. Which he had entered, without telling me.

He is - quite unpredictably - most smitten with acting. Which makes me deliriously happy, because of course, I am a complete drama queen and always have been.

Also, the boys are so competitive with each other, Im really encouraging of any activity that they can take part in independently, without the constant comparisons to each other (none of them flattering!)

Brilliant Festival - our first time, but we'll definitely be back!

He won - obviously, or I wouldnt be writing about it.

The look on his face, when they announced the winners, is a memory I will carry with me forever as one of "those moments" from his childhood.

What a little star - trophies and everything!

"Could we come back later that evening so that he could take part in the Highlights Concert?"

This was completely new information!

"Of course we could"

So back we went, in the dark. On a Sunday. My main concern being - we better be home in time for Homeland. Triple checked the Sky+ (because its a vindictive bastard)

I wonder if Johnny Depp's mother did all this to support her beloved offspring?

Bet the Oscars make it worthwhile!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Missing Matches! Guilty Again!

No, not that kind of matches - Im hoping that the boys are old enough now to have outgrown the pyromania................although............

Im talking about the sport's matches!

Both my boys are sporty - which is of course great. They are fit, active and, lucky me - Ive never really had to deal with the disappointment that little boys can feel from not making the team when they are 10 years old.

But tell me please, working mothers, how do you deal with the guilt of missing a match?
And miss some I surely must - especially now they are older and the matches get further and further away (100 mile round trip?? True, I promise you!)

One of the slight drawbacks of living in rural Gloucestershire, and to be fair, there arent many, is that you spend spend spend on - petrol! You have to drive miles. Every day. Take today, one is playing rugby in Oxford, the other is playing rugby in Wiltshire, yet I am here, at work, because I couldn't find any staff to cover the day at the shop.

When they are 30 and going to therapy to help them deal with the shortcomings of their childhoods, will they cite the number of matches mummy missed, when they scored a try or took a wicket, which made them feel unloved, unimportant or unacknowledged?? Even though I was there at all the Nativity plays, guitar recitals and sports days for 10 entire years and these children of mine really do fall into the bracket of "most priviledged children in the country"?

There is nothing better than watching the joy and pride of your child's face when they help their team to victory. The guilt of missing it - that is something I could live without.

PS Quick update - just got a text to say the 12 year olds team won - 7 trys. He'll be so happy!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Toys Toys Toys

Melissa and Doug just delivered toys for Christmas - the shop looks like a petting zoo!

Dogs, horses and also the giant giraffe is back!

Rather looking forward to Christmas but SO much to do before then - not Christmassy things, you understand
Just the usual work/kids/house plate spinning competition. Which I lose by the way. All the time.

This year I will be making Christmas presents with my own hands, so they will be thoughtful and lovingly constructed!

In my spare time!!!

We have hand crafted Christmas Stockings available now, which are personalised! So beautifully made by a local lady, using super fabrics and individual designs - they will become family heirlooms for sure.

Call to order 01285 643377

Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

As "that time  of year" approaches again do your kids turn into little mercenaries? Are they determined to cajole, manipulate and harrass you for whatever revolting, noisy "must-have" toy the manufacturers have pre ordered in greatest numbers from China?

 Or just mine then.....?

My boys have now out grown the "toy" phase, rendering Christmas morning rather less magical than it used to be. Now it is more turfing moany teenagers out of bed to unwrap, with their bleary teenage eyes, anything that has an "i" in front of it - and dont even bother offering anything else, a cheaper alternative simply will not do! Learn this...learn it now, it saves your pain, I promise.

They will grunt, give you a gangly awkward teenager-hug and mooch back upstairs with a family box of Maltesers, to compare with their friends, through the wonders of social media (!), whatever superior "i" items their friends have managed to procure from their infintiely richer and more stupid parents!

So whether you have given in to the tacky plastic talking neon alien that is flavour of the month or have gone for a traditional wooden dollshouse, or pirate ship - even if the little darlings woke you up at 2 am - enjoy them while they are tiny excitable balls of hysteria - while they still think everything you do is God-like! Its a cliche for sure, but it is over before you know it!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


Woke up to a white valley this morning and my first thought was "Yeay, Henry can wear his super-cool bnwt Gant Winter coat!" Sad or what!

Needless to say Henry had other ideas, because it is apparently not cool to keep warm (Duh) and much better and more manly to freeze.

This is certainly not something I have taught him, so it is no doubt one of the valuable lessons he has learned in school. We compromised on a hat (Petit Bateau, striped beanie) which I watched him shove in his pocket before he slid out of the (very dirty) car and got mud up the back of his trousers! Boys, tuh!

Mentally sighed and added "clean car" to The List - which you could wallpaper my entire house with, its so long. This might also solve the "decorate house" sub section of The List. The List wakes me up at 3 am with new things to add to it.

Guilt and Anxiety are my default settings these days,  (a Mum-thingI insist!), so time to get all the Winter clobber sorted, so my kids dont freeze (and so Im not judged by other mothers/school teachers/neighbours/gap year students)

New challenge for today: find a coat a teenage boy will wear, that doesnt cost more than the downpayment on a car.

Happy Tuesday everyone.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Libby in I Love Gorgeous

Libby transforms herself from Saturday afternoon casual to skinny-jeans glam in head-to-toe I Love Gorgeous.

Libby, and her Mum, Wendy are big fans and we had fun trying on the collection. Lucky Libby will have a great selection for her winter wardrobe, from skinny jeans to the fabulous Trumpet Butterfly dress.

Check our website:
For details of remaining sizes!

Thanks so much Libby and Wendy.

Find Wendy's great one-stop kids website at:

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Gant modelled by India

We are big fans of Gant at Sunshine - we are continuously updating their Infant Collection and I was delighted to see this fabulous little girls winter coat.

Modelled here, very obligingly, by India - who must be very happy her mummy and daddy bought her this warm cashmere and wool coat, as its turned very chilly in the Cotswolds today.

I think Cheltenham has even seen some snow. So wrap up warm like India!

Friday, 2 November 2012

India modelling Ralph Lauren

India Modelling Ralph Lauren

This cute tweed cap is perfect country-wear by Ralph Lauren. India's having a weekend in the Cotswolds with her parents so her lovely mum and dad brought her to visit!

Hello from Sunshine: Outdoors with the Kids

Hello from Sunshine: Outdoors with the Kids: Outdoors with the Kids this Autumn! Because we are lucky enough to live in the glorious Cotswolds, we always have a great choice of place...

Outdoors with the Kids

Outdoors with the Kids this Autumn!

Because we are lucky enough to live in the glorious Cotswolds, we always have a great choice of places to visit. In fact we live on the edge of one of the FIVE VALLEYS so even drawing back the curtains in the morning is a joy.
Someone once told me raising boys is like raising puppies - sometimes you just have to take them out for a run around to burn off all that excess energy. Ive always remembered that and fortunately my boys are very sporty. Even so, on a wet afternoon, they would much rather be glued to the PSP, so there has to be an incentive to get outside.
We discovered Woodchester Country Park recently

They've introduced a woodland trail for children - complete with rope swings in the trees a zip wire and lots of tree stumps for jumping!
We couldnt belive we'd never been before, given its about 5 minutes from our house - tragic. The trees were starting to change colour and it really is the middle of nowhere, which means its very quiet. Next we will explore their lakes - there are 5 apparently.

Next, we want to rush to Westonbirt Arboretum -
while the leaves are changing colour and there are conkers!! My kids have out grown the conkers phase now - but I certainly havent. We used to go conkering every day after school when I was growing up and the thrill of finding a good one before anyone else was immense!
Im told that the Autumn colours will be extra-spectacular this Autumn due to the very wet summer - so they'd better be good!

Our good friend Kirk has the most brilliant Online store for all things outdoors:
From full-on snow gear to camping equipment, he's definitely the man! Plus he is extremely knowledgeable and can dispense loads of advice if you need it!
There are some great things you can do with your Kids to get them outdoors - even when the weather doesn't look too promising!
The National Parks of the Uk are so beautiful - at any time of year - and one of the benefits of being a small island is that you are always within easy distance of one.

We'll be attempting to get out this weekend - sad to be inside today, the Autumn light looks lovely!
Enjoy the Cotswolds people x

Mummy's Telling Lies??

Really?? We needed a survey to tell us this?!
I guess if a survey is what is needed to point out that it is so impossibly difficult to juggle kids, work, house, husband..... that "some" mothers tell lies to cover up their shortcomings!

Take this morning for example:

Things I "forgot" *

* forgot = was so dam tired and stressed out that it didn't get done - because if I don't do it no one else will!

1. Buy coffee
2. Buy Halloween costume for tonight's party (in my defence I didn't realise it was a Halloween party - it not being on Halloween, not to split hairs....)
3. Buy specific item for 'food bank' donation required by school
4. Take youngests school shirt from machine and put in dryer
5. Do recycling
6. Nag to write thank you note
7. Purchase much needed Wii game from eBay

Did I lie about doing any or all of the above? You bet I did!!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Living in the Land of Chocolate: Our Halloween party

Living in the Land of Chocolate: Our Halloween party

I Love Gorgeous

Don't the girls look wonderful in their I Love Gorgeous Dresses?

They are selling out faster than ever thus season - I think it's because the designs are spot on.

Cool but somehow traditional, with wonderful prints and fabrics that definitely have a vintage-feel.

Most often I am asked - cant we get them in adult sizes??

Ali Blah Blah: Tooth Fairy - Stick To Cold Hard Cash

Ali Blah Blah: Tooth Fairy - Stick To Cold Hard Cash

Such a funny Tooth fairy story! Do read - you'll laugh out loud!