Saturday, 27 August 2011

Stop Rhino Poaching

I cant believe the wickedness of some people in this world.
This epidemic of poaching of these awesome animals has to be stopped.
We stopped the ivory trade, now lets stop this barbaric trade.
These poor animals are being butchered while alive and left to bleed to death for the sale of their horns.
Please visit this site and take a look for yourselves, pleadge your support and if possible raise money or donate to this invaluable fund.

We all have a duty to protect our planet and the animals that live in our world, without our help future generations will be living in a barren earth with no chance of ever appreciating the wonders around all of us.
DO NOT TURN AWAY AND CLOSE YOUR EYES FROM THIS TERRIBLE TRADE - We all have a duty to join forces internationally and stop this NOW.
Please lets join together in whatever way we can, no matter how small, and do something.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Al Fresco Boys ............

I had a last minute opportunity to get my hands on some 1/2 price tickets to see my fav boys Westlife again, and this time it was going to be only 30 mins from me and in an outdoor performance. Could I? Should I? No question, of course I should, and even Maintenance Man said I should go. Within an hour I had bought 2 tickets and my best friend Ali (Lady List) and I were set to go. July 17, Broadlands outdoor arena in Romsey. A bit of girl time and a much needed time out for both of us.
Now, me being just a bit excited, spent the next 10 days googling everything from the weather to what strategy must be put in place to make sure we had half a chance of a front row place. Last time I saw them it was too far away for my liking and I was going to have to make a plan for success this time.
It was decided we would leave home by 2 pm (only 3 hrs to wait for gate opening) and then hopefully get a good place in the queue.
July 17 - 12pm I am ready and raring to go but 2pm was the sheduled set off time so I had to keep busy for a wee while yet.
2pm, Ali and I are off, coffee and bottles of water, biscuits and chocolate for the queue, garden chairs and umbrellas just in case.
2.30pm arrive at destination - OMG how did all those people get there already? So much for being first - Note to self - camp out the night before maybe? In fact there were only about 60 - 70 others in front of us. We put up the chairs, got out the coffee and biscuits and settled down for the wait.
The atmosphere was great and everyone was chatting and laughing, listening to bits of sound checking coming from the massive arena stage and trying to guess who's voice we could hear and how to get a sneaky look through the gates. 4.30pm - Ali and I decided we needed a plan cos when the gates opened it looked like it was going to be every man for himself to get to the front. So, Ali would take the chairs and I would run as fast as possible to the front of the stage and she would find me. All good.

Arena / Stage
Gates open and we are off. Well, it must have looked hilarious. Hundreds of  more mature (in years only, as we had regressed back to teenagers by the end of the evening), mainly female, fans racing like their lives depended on it, to get the best place to see the boys. No holds barred, and I was thinking that any minute now I am going to fall flat on my face and get crushed in the stampede. The last time I ran like that it was in the Mums Race at school sports day and I pulled a muscle in my leg, but it seems the gym work had paid off cos we made it - right to the front row, bar one person. Ali finally located me and we took a breather. Now, having never been to on outdoor concert before I was trying to be guided by what everyone else was doing. Behind us people were setting up camp again to wait for the start of the show, so we set up our chairs again too. Interesting views of the backs of peoples knees (I now remember what it feels like to be 4 years old). Well, there had to be one group of women who were not happy with this, probably because they didn't have a chair and the grass was wet, and they decided to moan and bitch very loudly about our seating (which were taking up less space than the people sitting on the floor etc all around the place. My initial thought was "Hey, stop moaning we all just want to enjoy ourselves" and Ali even reassured them that we would most definitely be putting the chairs up when things got going, but they continued to gripe and stare blackly at us. I was at this point feeling intimidated and quite anxious (these were scary women, who knows what they were capable of in an environment bubbling over with hormones and emotions..... and WESTLIFE !!)
Anyway, we held out til about 1/2 an hour before the support act were due on and then decided to put the chairs away and get ready for the show. Support acts were very good, but unfortunately I was getting concerned that the beer I had drunk was now taking its effect and I would most certainly need the loo before long. I decided to take my life into my hands and make my way out to the toilets before the boys came on. Getting out was not too much of a problem, although I was a little taken aback by the girl also going out behind me shouting "I am coming back in, take note of my face, no arguing on the way back". Toilet stop accomplished, now to get back to my spot with Ali. I now began to realise why the girl had shouted that stuff on the way out. How can, I assume normally quite pleasant people, turn into such agressive and animal-like beings in a millisecond? I was growled and sworn at, pushed and deliberately obstructed in my attempts to get back in (who knows, I may have been lying about my already having a space, God forbid). I made it back alive and decided I would have cross my legs if I needed to go again. Thank god it was only 1 beer.
The moment was approaching and the crowd was getting hungry for some action. We had been here for the best part of 6 / 7 hours now and we wanted what we had come for. Where were they? What were they doing? You look fine, stop faffing about in the dressing room and GET OUT HERE.
How to go from 44 to 17 again in 2.5 seconds. Lights up, music LOUD, and they were on. Even better than before and now within 6 feet away from me. In all seriousness (just for a second) they are really good live, they sounded brilliant and looked amazing. Definitely no airbrushing there I can assure you.  
We sang, we danced, we screamed and cheered. The park was electric. Half way through the show, Nicky did the banner reading - some very funny and others hysterical but too rude to write on here. They then decided to get people onto the stage. A girl who's 18th birthday it was, and her friend, another random girl and the couple in front of me who were obviously avid fans. The lucky few were helped onto the stage where they kissed and hugged all the boys (GRRRR) and then chatted a bit with them all. An amazing thing then happened, when Nicky asked the couple if they were married, the guy started to say he wanted to say something to the lady, was handed the microphone and proposed right there in front of everyone. Of course she said yes. How amazing to take an impromptu opportunity and make such a special moment even more memorable. Hats off to him and well done Westlife for helping make that happen.
The evening was fantastic. They finished all too soon but we left feeling so lucky to have managed get right to the front this time, even if we did have to be a bit hard core and strategic about it, but it was so worth every second. We had fun, we had a lot of laughs and we had a great girly day out just being girls again.
Cant wait for the next time and I would do it all again.


Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Does it ever change?

Exams, girlfriend, social life and being 15 don't exactly fall at the right time together.

Mother - "Revision and school work have to be just as much a priority as the other more exciting aspects of being 15"
Teenager - "Yeah I know" (thinks maybe if I just shut my eyes she will disappear)

Mother - "You need to revise properly"
Teenager - "yes mum I know, I am" (still closing eyes in the hope of mother vanishing)

Mother - "That's it ! I'm not happy with this - Rant Rant Rant Rant"
Teenager - "You don't understand, its not the same as when you were at school you know " (eyes now open and mother is still very much in his face and ears now)

Threats about grounding, social time, etc etc etc follow with much upset on both sides. 
It is, once again,  the day before a major exam and who is more panicked,  mother or teenager one asks?

So what is the answer?
Actually, as parents we know exactly how it feels to be 15 (we weren't born looking like this you know), and how it feels so hard to find the time, energy or willpower to work all day at school and then come home and be expected to work again for a few more hours.
Unfortunately, we also know how it feels to be struggling with life and choices after leaving school, and we know that these struggles make school days feel like a walk in the park.

How do we help, encourage and motivate our precious children without making them feel like they are drowning in orders from others? How do we help them to make the right choices willingly? Is it even possible?
Can they ever realise that we want them to do the best they can, that's all, nothing more, just to try their hardest at whatever they choose to do in life and then they will succeed.

I for one, believe in helping in whatever way I can. I will give up my time to revise with my child, I will help him to manage his time effectively so he can fit in the just as important social life as well as the schoolwork, and I will do whatever I can to encourage self motivation.
But, this comes with a challenge.
The challenge is finding the way to do all this while maintaining a relationship which doesn't feel like a war zone.
Finding a way to make our children feel supported and encouraged without feeling battered and nagged to death.
Finding a way to help them fit in their social relationships without it being at the expense of schoolwork and revision, because we know that their personal relationships are just as important to them and to their maturing.
Finding the way to let them know and believe that we actualy do understand, and we do remember the feelings they are having now and that we can be more than just a nagging in their ears.
Finding a way to accept that they don't want us to do these things now, but hopefully will be grateful that we did, at some point in their future.

I have no idea if what I do is the right thing or not. I do know that I try to listen to my son and I feel very lucky that we actually do talk a lot about most stuff. I know I can't just sit back and let him fail by not even trying, and I hope that one day, when he is doing something great in life which makes him happy, he will remember how it was and smile.
Smile, when he is a parent and my grandchildren are saying "you dont understand Dad, its different today than when you were at school".

Same Stuff, Different Day ---- many years on.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

I can do spontaneous ........

Bank holiday weekend, weather man says its going to rain in Verwood (now there's a surprise), so I decided to take the bull by the horns and suggest to Steve (M Man) that we do something a little different and just jump in the car and go somewhere different with the kids. After much discussion, and shock of the price of the original ideas we had, it was decided that we should hop in the car and go to London, stay overnight somewhere cheap and be complete tourists for the weekend.
Now I don't do spontaneous very readily, cos I am an organised kinda gal, and usually I preplan and pre-preplan everything with lists, many lists which must be ticked as we go. So for me, this is going off-road in quite a big way. Steve was a little worried I think, but he likes to fly by the seat of his pants so all good for him. The kids were very excited and of course it was suggested that Jamie (The Dodga) ask his girlfriend Alice (Squeak) to come with us too.
Car packed, hotel (I use the word very loosely) booked and off we go. Just over an hour on the road and we are in London which was very good time. Sat nav took us easily to the hotel which looked really quite nice on first opinion. Anyway, girls in one room, me, Tiddles (Gemma) and Alice, and then boys (Steve and Jamie) in the other ---- no nonsense going on here you know (thats you, Dodga and Squeak by the way). I know Im a fun spoiler, but hey, ITS MY JOB xxxx
If I tell you the rooms were basic it would be being kind. Very hot with fans that sounded like a plane taking off and not even room to swing half a cat.
DO NOT KEEP COMPLAINING ---- the conversation I am having with myself is not working but I remind myself it really doesn't matter as we are here to have fun.

Quick check in and its decided to hop on the tube and go to Piccadilly circus to find some dinner. Now Alice hasn't been on the tube before so its a real eye-opener for her but by the time we head back she is a pro.

Alice and Jamie

Really nice dinner in a little Italian place, Tiddles orders a pizza from the kids menu which is the size of an adult dinner plate - no arguments from Jamie about helping her to finish though. Hustle and bustle of the city, the lights are coming on now and its quite spectacular especially for the kids who haven't done this often.

Piccadilly Circus

No more shops Tiddles xxxx

After restraining Tiddles at every souvenir shop and reminding her that we have all of the next day to spend her pocket money, we decide to head back to the hotel and decide on a plan for the next day. Sometimes a little planning is required (honestly...)
Alice and I slept almost not at all in our sauna room, Tiddles on the other hand woke up with "morning mum, what a great sleep I had". Yes, Gemma, I got that as you were kicking me in the bed all night and talking in your sleep and snoring like a train. GGGGRRRRRRRRR. Not really, I am glad she slept , she is not good when tired (don't know where she inherited that from!!!)
The boys seemed to have had an ok night too, so that's good. Alice reckons she runs on fresh air and she obviously does as she was her usual giggly happy self all day. I want whatever she had.......
Good breakfast and we are off. First stop Science museum. Loads to see, not enough time, decided on the IMAX 3D short movie - absolutely brilliant well worth the visit. Wander round a few more things then off to Harrods. None of us had ever been there except Steve so it was purely for the new experience.

Of course the purchase of a bear was statutory requirement by both the girls, and some Harrods chocolate for Jamie, (don't remember that being shared out now that I think about it...???) 

Next stop Hamleys Toy shop. Tiddles has died and gone to heaven at this point - cuddly toys and bears everywhere. Even a live one to greet you at the entrance, how amazing is that when you are Gemma xxxxxx

Even The Dodga was impressed especially on the floor which was gadgets and RC toys.
Must have purchase - RC Helicopter. Really good buy as it turns out. Much fun will be had.
Steve on the other hand was losing the will to live at this point, so after what seemed like hours of purchasing yet another bear by Tiddles (build-a-bear is not the same as a regular bear mum), and her finally spending every last penny of her pocket money, we decide to find some dinner.
Quick detour into an amusement arcade (cant actually remember what possessed us to go there..!!!) but we had fun anyway.


Meal over, its back on the tube to go to Westminster to see Big Ben. Actually it was quite late by this point but getting dark so again the lights were coming on and it was fabulous.  



Home by midnight with a very tired brood but what a fantastic adventure.

Would we do it again? Absolutely, in a heartbeat.
Would I do it differently? Well, spontaneity has its excitement, but planning beforehand means getting the best deals, spending more efficiently and seeing more of what you want. Boring you say? Maybe but sometimes its the only way to go.

Cant wait for next time to show the kids the many other things our city has to offer - and it needn't break the bank either. -- HOPEFULLY.xxxx

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Precious people

Today I decided to get brave and try to add pictures to my blog. I figured a photo page would be good so I could update it as necessary - of course only time will tell if this will work long term.
Anyway, I did it!! I was a bit scared as the last time I tried to do something design-wise I managed to change all my settings and spent the next hour re-doing all my work. Anyway, its done and I have not been beaten. I hate not being able to do something and will generally consult my other best friend "Google" until I get the answers I need.

The reason for the photo page is simple.

People in our lives are too precious and we definitely don't take the time we should to enjoy our moments with each other. I have lost my Dad, mum, step dad and best friend in the last 5 years and have just realised how few pictures I have of our times together. The memories become a little faded round the edges and I hate that, so I have decided to start snapping more and enjoying the times we share with those we love so much, again and again and again. It also means we get to share those special times with each other .
That's the joy of pictures.

The emotions I felt when looking back and choosing photos were exactly as they had been on the day they were taken - allowing me to relive some truly funny and special times.

The other thing of course is that  looking back at the kids pictures also made me realise how quickly time flies (and how old I am getting.... :(  )

Unfortunately I don't have pictures of all of my wonderful family (Why?????  who knows?) and I now have a mission to get them. I will have to beg, borrow, steal or snap to complete my collection to date. I am lucky enough to have a big family in South Africa, and while its too far away for my liking, the Internet makes the world a much smaller place, so I will be able to get some through the wonderful world of email.

To every special person in my life........ I dont tell you often enough or strongly enough, but thank you for being part of my world.
I am blessed to have you all and I love you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Monday, 23 May 2011

Faking it ?????

Someone asked me why I used pseudonyms for the people I mention in my blog, and I have to say I couldn't really think of a great answer.
My original thoughts were that it might protect people, but from whom or what? Now I am not so sure. My husband, children, family and friends have been mentioned, all under pseudonyms but would they prefer to be called by their born names I have to ask. Its almost like I am writing about fake people if I don't use their names, but is that what I want to do? I am proud of my life and the people in it and would never write anything derogatory anyway, and if anyone I know reads my blog, they will know who I am talking about anyway. Maybe they would like the world to see how important they are to me, which is why they have been mentioned anyway?

So -- what is the answer? Do I continue to write with the pretence of made-up people, or change the way I do it and hold my nearest and dearest up in all their glories for all to see?
I think I know but what says you?

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

I need my holiday !!

A new week. The exams that Tiddles had to sit last week (SATs) are over - thank god, I mean do 10 and 11 year olds really need the pressure of a full week of timetabled exams? I think not, the teachers should be able to use their daily assessments of these kids to formulate the information they need. But that's another story!! Tiddles is letting off plenty of steam after the grind of last week and so she should. I must say I will be pleased to see the summer holidays this year.

Anyway, the pressure is now transferred straight over to The Dodga who sits another GSCE exam next week and these then continue until end of June. YIPPPEEEE .....NOT!!
We battle on with trying to encourage revision and homework as priority, but when you are 15 and in your first serious relationship with a girl, the priority is clearly not with school stuff.

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3
I have yet to find a psuedonmym for the special lady in my sons life but I will keep thinking.
She is a very lovely girl, she laughs with him a lot which is great, the house is always full of giggles and squeals -- yes they are just being silly, I have checked !! She also fits in wonderfully with the rest of us. Tiddles thinks she is the best thing since sliced bread and honestly, she is a good role model for her to have chosen.
Well, the upshot is that they asked us if she could come on holiday with us this year.
My instant, no thought required answer? ABSOLUTELY NOT - you are 15, what if you aren't together by then? where will she sleep? etc etc.
Having then talked it over in much detail with M Man, we then decided that actually maybe it wasn't such a bad idea, providing there were conditions attached, (she will share a room with Tiddles, there will be no sneaking about into bedrooms in the dead of the night etc, we will be a family of 5, not 3 plus 2 etc etc). We figured taking her with us and having a potentially really great time was far better than going without her and The Dodga having a face like a slapped butt all week, with his attention focused solely on sending 100 texts a day and racing back to the hotel at every opportunity to access facebook on the free WiFi in case she has posted on his wall.
So, we go away this summer with 5 of us in tow. Actually, I am really looking forward to it. She hasn't been on holiday before and cant remember her only experience of flying as a very small child, so its quite an honour that her parents have entrusted her to us. She is as excited about the airport as the holiday, and Tiddles is very happy to be having a 'big sister' coming with us.

The obvious plus side also, is that it is now a major incentive for The Dodga to organise himself in terms of revision and homework etc or THE DEAL IS OFF...... Harsh I hear you cry, -- not really.
"Earning good things in life makes you appreciate them more, and if they want nice holidays etc when they have flown the nest and are having to pay for their own, they will have to be earning, and good jobs don't come unless you work hard at school. "
Here endeth the lesson for today.