Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Night Watch

So first up, before we get into this, I should do a little disclaimer.  I have had sleep problems since I can remember.  Sleep problems that I will save for another time, and thankfully are much improved now, but sleep problems nonetheless.  At night time, it would appear that I save up all of my anxieties and the minute the lights go off, they replay in my mind. This is amplified a million times when my husband is away at work.  And yup, my husband is away at work at the moment.  Mr Bee if you are reading this, yes I'm dying to see you, but I also can't wait for you to come home so I can get a bloody good night's sleep.  This is what happened last night. 

Check all doors and windows are shut.  Even that window that I can't reach without a stool and I haven't actually opened since we moved in (5 years ago). Safety first. 

Go to bed. Yep, I know this is astonishingly early, but I find I can sleep better if it isn't that dark outside.  I know I am weirdo.  Don't judge, because this blog post gets worse. 

Did I shut that window? Yes, yes I did.  Now go to sleep Laura. 

I forgot the safety gates.  I shut both the bottom and top safety gates on the stairs. Because everyone knows a burglar wouldn't be able to undo the gates.  Safety first. 

Can't get to sleep. 

It's getting quite dark.  I should go to sleep now. 

I might just think of my escape plan if there was a fire.  I think I would throw Pablo the dog out of the window first.  Would that break his legs? Maybe.  Maybe I would throw a mattress out first. Would my mattress fit out of the window? No. I would throw my daughters toddler bed mattress out of the window first, then throw the dog and then jump out with my daughter on my back and hope I land on my feet. 

Stop thinking of stupid scenarios and go to sleep. 

In case of a burglar, I would lock myself into my daughters bathroom with my daughter and ring the police.  What about the dog? Could he defend himself? No, he might be used as a hostage by the burglar.  I will take the dog and daughter with me. And my mobile phone. 

Go to sleep. 

No, I think I might just try and climb down the drainpipe.  Would the drainpipe take my weight? Would my arms even take my own weight? What about the dog? I'd have to throw the mattress out of the window first. 

Bloody hell I am weird.  Now go to sleep. 

It's too dark.  I think I might leave the en-suite light on. Any potential burglars/hostage takers/murderers will think someone's awake and won't come in. 

No, the light's too bright.  I'll turn it off and just go asleep.  Adults don't think such stupid thoughts. I am an idiot. 

I think I need the light on.  It's too dark. Maybe I will just put my bedside light on for a little while. 

What was that noise? (Put all lights on and completely wake self up.  Return to bed).   

I'll just have a run through of fire and hostage situations so I know what to do. 

Start to doze.

What was the noise? (All lights go on). No, now I can't hear it. 

What was that noise? (All lights go on). No, now I cant' hear it. 

It's a bloody dog barking.  Who puts their dog out at 2am and let's it bark!!!! At least all potential burglars will be deterred from the stupid barking dog. 

Awoken by the milkman (he's not in the house or anything, I can hear his cart on the street).  Why does his stupid cart have to be so loud.  I just want to sleep.  But on the plus side burglars won't be hanging about outside as the milkman's doing his round.  

It's starting to get lighter and I am really tired...fall asleep....

Bang at the door.  "Morning mum!!! Wake up! Wake up!!! I'm hungry and I need a wee!!!!". ARGHHHHHHH!!!!
I wish I could laugh along and say that this example is a little joke. The sad thing is, it actually happened and I have a feeling will happen until my husband's return.  I am sharing it in the vain hope other people out there feel the same way when they are home alone.  Or maybe its just me.  I am also sharing it under the premise that no-one calls me a weirdo - I really don't need that pointing out to me.  As I said, it's like the lights go out and my imagination runs wild.  But don't feel too sorry for me, I think I am used to it now.  I have a really great concealer and escape scenarios planned for a zombie attack, earthquake and street riot if you are interested. 

Anyway, comments are always welcome below (remember no name calling), and thanks for reading, 

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Monday, 20 April 2015

Being a stay at home mum

Hi there! And apologies for the very slow blogging over the recent weeks. I have had a hectic time of late and have been tweeking things here and there behind the scenes on my blog, so thank you so much for reading and please bear with me.  Normal service will be resuming and, much to my husband's dismay I have some fabulous haul blogs coming up!!! Today, I thought I would blog about something that I have been meaning to blog about for ages, being a stay at home mum. 

For me, the decision to take a career break from my job was a really tough one, and it was made that bit tougher by the huge amount of pressure I felt from others and well, society I guess.  Pre-baby, I had worked in the NHS for 10 years and had done 4 years of training, a degree and a Masters to get to my current job.  After my one years maternity leave was up, I went into work to discuss hours which I could work, and basically, what I wanted to work and what the service wanted me to work just weren't compatible.  I was very lucky and was offered the chance to take a 5 year unpaid career break where I could return to my original job upon return.  And I took the opportunity.  But not without alot of thought. 

I was really torn as to what to do, as taking a career break wasn't something that had ever occurred to me. I felt pressure from peers that really returning to work was the thing you ought to do, women haven't worked hard for equal rights to then be stuck at home bringing up baby.  No-one I knew had taken a career break so I couldn't really ask anyone's advice. Was I even doing the right thing? When a very dear friend sat down with me and told me to grasp the opportunity with both hands if that would make me happy, I decided that is what I would do. 

And I am so so glad I did.  I am in year two of my career break and I can honestly say it is the best decision I made.  But the best decision I made for me.  Not for the other mum's at the baby group.  Not for the gossip at the post office.  Not for the mum who returned to work as soon as she could.  No.  I made this decision for me and my family. So why judge?   

There came a time at baby groups when all of the mums starting returning to work and I was asked weekly when I was returning also.  When I told people I was taking a career break, I got alot of negative responses.  People said things like, "oh, I could never do that", "oh how boring to have to play all day", "I need adult company", "your husband must be rich", "oh how nice that you can sit and watch TV all day".  Yup, I've heard them all.  And I am very guilty of replying to a few that "I felt it important to spend this time with my child", yep, big apologies to all working mum's out there.  I muttered those words. But at times, I truly felt ostracised because I was going against the 'norm'.  

I know there are working mums out there who would love to be in my position.  But then I know working mums that wouldn't.  And my point is that whatever we do, it's ok.  The decisions I make are for me and my family.  I shouldn't have to explain my reasoning for them.  I shouldn't have to defend that I do anything but watch TV all day.  That I am not some female version of Mr Tumble and I do not play in a circus tent all day to keep my daughter entertained.  That I do actually have a brain. And that I certainly do not go out for lunch everyday. Equality includes choice.  I am lucky that I can choose to stay at home with my daughter. 

I found that people were quick to judge me.  Quick to assume I didn't have a career before baby.  And alot of the time, quick to tell me their judgements.  I never heard people saying that to mums who went back to work (though I know that happens too). And I would never judge a working mum.  Because quite frankly, what has it got to do with me? Aren't all us mum's just the same? Aren't we all just trying to do our best?  So why judge? Why feel the need to judge me and my decisions? Trust me, I have enough self doubt and criticism to see me through to my seventies.  I really don't need anyone else's. 

I think for some bizarre reason, we are always made to feel guilty as mums.  That we are not doing things right.  That we should be doing the same as everyone else.  We feel guilty for working.  We feel guilty if we don't. But I am calling it.  I am calling it right now. I am saying sod everyone else.  You do what feels right in your gut.  You do what is right for your family.  Whether that is going to work or staying at home. That is your right as a parent.  A right that should never ever be judged, (unless you are running off to join the circus and then I think a bit of debate is fair play).  So now, when people ask me if I am at work, I say that I am a stay at home mum.  And that is all I say. I say no more.  No excuses.  No reasoning. Because I am done having to explain myself.  

Are you are stay at home mum? Did you feel judged in your decision? Or are you a working mum and felt judgement too? Comments below please and as always, thanks for reading, 

Monday, 13 April 2015

The Lost Ring

I have never really given much thought to my possessions and the value they hold for me. I guess that's mainly because I've never really lost anything.  I mean sure, I lose socks on a daily basis (where do they go?!) and there was that one time I lost my car keys (my daughter had cleverly hid them behind the radiator). But these were all things that I knew were somewhere, they weren't truly lost. 

At the weekend, my husband wanted to go to a local cattle market in Derby.  It's kind of like a huge car boot sale, at a, well cattle market. He had been as a child and had never been since, and for some reason on Sunday morning, he had a determination that he wanted me and my daughter to experience it too. So, at 9.30am on a very cold Sunday morning, we piled into the car and arrived at the market. 

There was quite an assortment of objects and folk at the market to say the least.  You could buy anything from what looked like the first ever camcorders to a pair of African bongos.  My daughter had her little purse with her and was intent on finding a bargain. Her daddy had been giving her bartering tips in the car, "tell them 10p is your final offer", (my daughter is only two and a half).  She ended up buying a small womble, it was Uncle Bulgaria if you are interested, and she was most excited to buy a little ride along scooter for the cost of one whole pound. 

After we had done a loop of the market and I had picked up the scooter and my daughter more times than I can remember, I looked down to suddenly notice my engagement ring was missing.  I immediately knew I had dropped it on the floor. I knew it was definitely on my finger when I got out of the car.  I knew I had it on at the start of our market trip. And I then began to panic.  I retraced my steps, scouring the floor.  But there was so many people, it was so hard and like looking for a needle in a haystack. Me and my husband walked around another 3 times.  No ring. And then I started to cry.  

Yep, right in the middle of the market I started to cry. I just couldn't believe my precious ring was gone.  I have had it for 7 years and I have never ever lost it before.  I spent the rest of Sunday sobbing about my lost ring.  I cried for all of the things it means to me. For all of the amazing times I've had whilst wearing it. For all it symbolises to me.  My husband gently reminded me that although it was special, it was a possession.  That its memories and meaning could be remembered.  That I had many other things to be grateful for.  That we were lucky we hadn't lost my daughter on her new scooter to a herd of cows at the market. And he is so right. 

But, for this week I am doing everything in my power to find my ring. I truly believe in the kindness of total strangers.  I have a hope that it may be given in.  Today, I have spoken to countless people regarding my ring and I have been amazed at their kindness. Strangers willing to ring around and contact the cleaners of the market to see if it has been found.  Shops who are willing to put up notices. Pawn shops who will inform staff. Strangers on twitter who have re-tweeted my plea.  A man who told me about how his daughter had lost her ring in a fridge and how he hoped I was reunited with mine. 

So how do I end this blog? A funny note about how a day at the market was very expensive, that my daughter's scooter is her most expensive present ever? Erm no.  I think I will end it by saying that if my ring is never found, that if all I have are the memories of my ring, that what I will remember is the kindness and compassion of total strangers.  That for all of the truly awful stuff that is far, far worse than losing a ring that happens around the world, right here around us all, are lovely and kind people. And it's only when we really need that kindness we can sometimes find it. 

Thanks for reading, 

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Monday, 6 April 2015

The Millers Barn Nottingham : A review

The last time I went into a Beefeater restaurant was well over 10 years ago, and I have a vague recollection that I went as part of a hen party. My memory is a little hazy. When Beefeater offered me and my family the chance to try their new menu, I thought I would go with an open mind and empty stomach, and hope for the best.  My preconceptions were that there would definitely be some questionable interior furnishings, a dodgy armchair of sorts and mediocre pub food. But, I left with a very different opinion indeed.  

The Millers Barn in Nottingham is ideally located just outside of Nottingham and directly opposite the local tram station.  Outside there is a play-area and seating area for the warmer months which unfortunately we didn't use as it was too cold.  First impressions of the inside were not at all how I had imagined. The restaurant was very open plan, airy, modern and decked out with funky furnishings.  There wasn't a dodgy looking armchair in sight. 

The menu had a great choice of food which was reasonably priced. We started with a tear and share chimichurri flatbread which was absolutely huge and more than enough for me, my husband and daughter to share, and it was delicious. For mains, I opted for the pulled pork burger which came with skinny fries, chunky coleslaw and pickled cucumbers. My husband chose a double chicken piri piri which was served with skinny fries, chunky coleslaw and a chilli and lime corn on the cob. The service was good and the food was delicious.  It was fresh and tasty with good sized portions. 

The children's menu had a good selection of foods too, with healthy options available. My daughter chose spaghetti bolognese which came with a mini garlic bread. Her meal was delicious too, and tasted fresh and just cooked, I really can't stand children's food that has just been blasted in the microwave. Obviously it would have been rude to leave without a pudding, so we shared (!) a chocolate brownie and my daughter sampled jelly and ice cream. For our drinks (and one had free refills), starter, two mains, and children's menu choices with a pudding the bill came to just under £40.  

From not venturing into a Beefeater in over 10 years, I left the restaurant feeling that I would definitely eat at the chain again. It may not be gourmet dining, but the restaurant was family friendly, clean, modern and the food was freshly cooked and delicious.  Its definitely worth taking a second look at Beefeater and I highly recommend the Millers Barn in Nottingham!  

Thanks for reading and hope you are all enjoying a lovely Easter! 
Have you been to a Beefeater recently? Would you ever try this chain of restaurants? 

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We were kindly gifted vouchers for our meal from Beefeater, but this review is 100% my own and honest opinion (and I would have happily paid for such a lovely meal).