Monday, 21 April 2014

The REAL Great British Bucket List

Ask Jeeves has produced the Great British Bucket List, a list of 50 things that British people should do before they die (or emigrate to the sun, whichever comes sooner) but, British as I am, the bucket list has failed to ignite my patriotic passion.

Number 11 on the list is to see inside the Houses of Parliament, not something I'm all that keen on unless I get a big stick and a free hit of any passing Tory at the same time. Number 45 is go to an X Factor or Britain's Got Talent recording and, again, I'd only want to do that if I was allowed a gun.

Number 18 is go to a cricket Test match and only a fool or my ex-husband (both the same) would suggest that to me. While at number 47 is watching an Only Fools and Horses box set. Frankly, if I had to sit through a whole box set I would much rather be dead.

So in a spirit of supreme helpfulness, here is a more *cough* alternative Great British Bucket List....

                                                      The Real Great British Bucket List

1: Stand waving a tenner for 20 minutes at the bar while everybody else gets served.

2: Paddle in the sea on a dull and overcast day with your trousers rolled up/ skirt tucked into your knickers.

3: Spend a Bank Holiday in a traffic jam.

4: Graffiti your best friends phone number on to the toilet door in the local park as a joke.

5: Ask how much something is in the Pound shop.

6:  Mention the war.

7:  Mush peas.

8. Prescribe tea for every all and every ailment, physical and mental.

9. Spend a week in a caravan on the coast in the p*ssing rain.

10. Get sh*t on by a seagull.

11: Train spot.

12: Complain about the weather, regardless of what the weather is.

13: Wait three weeks for a doctor's appointment.

14: Eat ice-cream in the rain.

15: Go out in a blizzard without a coat (Under 18s and Yorkshire-men only)

16: Enjoy custard with the skin on.

17: Know all the words to Candle in the Wind.

18: Support a football team from a city you've never been to.

19: Take the Eurovision Song Contest seriously.

20: Go to a popular tourist attraction in high season and complain about how many tourists there are.

21: Boil fresh vegetables for four hours.

22: Climb to the top of Blackpool Tower and wonder why the French make such a fuss.

Toilet selfie
23: Take a selfie in the toilets.

24: Expect fast food to take 20 minutes.

25: Never win at penalties.

26: Love Douglas Adams.

27: Binge drink.

28: Bury a near relative neck deep in sand.

29: Shout louder to make yourself understood by non-English speakers.

30: Worry about whether to tip or not.

31: Prefer your pet to people.

32: Resent others' successes.

33: Dwell on the lingerie pages of a catalogue.

34: Happily eat tripe, black pudding, haggis and jellied eels...

35: ....While even more happily sneering at the French for eating frog-legs and snails.

36:  Have a Jimmy Savile story to tell.

37: Explain the off-side rule using salt and pepper pots.

38: Smoke behind a bike shed.

39: Sincerely believe anything tastes better between two slices of bread.

40: Turn a blind eye.

41: Think Betterware have their finger on the pulse of modern innovation.

42: Be in two minds about Andy Murray.

43: Accept breasts are Page 3 news every day, of every week.

44: Watch the collected boxsets of Red Dwarf....

45: ...And Blackadder.

46: Have a picnic in a layby

47: Suffer from an ineradicable superiority complex.

48: Think wrestling is real.

49: Choose a political party. Vote for it regardless of common sense or current experience.

50: Long for the day when you have your own shed.

You're welcome.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Close Encounters of the Squirrel Kind

The Boy has long dreamed of spotting a squirrel while out on a family walk but, the youngest of the brood, he's always the last of the four to spot the fluff of a tail in the undergrowth. The last to shout "SQUIRREL" at squirrel-deafening volume and the last to see said squirrel as it squirrels up the nearest tree wondering what the hell all the racket is about.

But this week as we walked around our city park because, like dogs, all eight-year-old boys have to be regularly exercised, we spotted not one squirrel, not even two squirrels but many, many squirrels. So many squirrels there wasn't even time enough to shout "SQUIRREL" before yet another squirrel hoved into view.

Note the squirrel's expression on the final picture
The squirrels living just a stone's throw away from the car park and bustling duck pond were not shy squirrels either. There was a certain amount of squirrelling away up trees but very much in a I'm-doing-this-for-me-not-you kind of way. 

They took an interest in us until they decided we were neither going to feed them, catch them or go away and then got on with doing what squirrels do

And that apparently involves quite a large amount of time sitting around and looking like squirrels.

They were very good at it.

And what else is there to do after a close encounter with many squirrels, but to make like a squirrel and climb a tree.

So we did.

Well, The Boy did. Me? Not so much*

Loving Thornes Park, Wakefield

*Not at all.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Dining at the Captain's Table?

The Boy is a child of troublesome tea-times. The repertoire of foods that he will accept on his plate is slowly, steadily growing from the deep, dark days when all he would entertain was fish coated in either batter or breadcrumbs but still, fish in breadcrumbs or batter is his default comfort food of choice.

And so my freezer brims with fish, battered and breaded, in a variety of shapes and sizes partially to convince myself he doesn't really live on fish fingers. If it's a square, it's definitely NOT a finger. *Nods*

This one particular tea-time I popped one sole piece of The Boy's evening meal of Birds Eye Fishy Bites into my mouth... because it's a long walk from the kitchen and table, because you should never serve a child with something you won't eat yourself  and because I was hungry, alright ...  AND I ended up with a couple of fish bones in my mouth too.

Two fish bones at the same time.

It was not nice.

Obviously I didn't serve the remaining Fishy Bites to The Boy and, leaving him to starve but thankfully not choke, I, social media tart that I am, took to Twitter and Facebook to share my life or death drama.  I even included a picture:

Bones and a fishy bite ... two bones in one Bite
I didn't expect much, just a few Ooh and Aah's from friends and followers and possibly (most definitely) a joke about the Queen Mother. Obviously that is what happened on Facebook, but over on Twitter there was an almost instantaneous reaction from @BirdsEyeUK:

Hi there, we're really sorry to see this. Please DM us your contact details and we'll be in touch.

So I did. Like you do. 

And a couple of days later an e-mail duly arrived addressed to Ms Jodie from Birds Eye's customer service department and the delightfully named Gobad Salad.

After an entertaining half an hour of wondering whether his co-workers were called Sodoff Fruit and B. UggerOff Veg, I, in a spirit of helpfulness, sent him my tweeted picture, an explanation of circumstance, the required selection of batch codes and my postal address in anticipation of a forensic team turning up to collect the box of Fishy Bites and bones, both of which I'd kept and ....



Nothing at all.

No forensic team. No small packet in the post to return, stamped Exhibit A. Not even an email saying thank you.

Nothing. At. All.

Personally, I think that's rude.

I, nearly a month after the initial Twitter exchange and not being so rude, still have a couple of fish bones and a completely useless, never going to be eaten box of Birds Eye Fishy Bites in my freezer for whenever Birds Eye feel they're ready. They must be busy right? Removing bones from fish and the like no doubt.


 Meanwhile The Boy is experimenting with (non-Birds Eye) Scampi.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Listography ... Top 5 Photos of 2013

I'm joining in with KateTakes5's Listography challenge this week which is to share my top five favourite photos of 2013 ....

1. Yorkshire Sculpture Park. 
The Tween and The Boy, as they do, spent the afternoon bickering and complaining but .... as The Tween huffed, puffed and paused to remove a pebble from her entirely unsuitable shoes and The Boy stood next to her huffing and puffing at her to hurry up .... I took this.
It looks peaceful, it looks idyllic and it reminds me of a Pre-Raphaelite painting and I love it (even if I can still hear the huffing and puffing everytime I look at it) .... 

2. The Tween in Roundhay Park, Leeds. 
It's hard work being a Tween, all the grumping and the stomping that you have to do. And the being glued to a laptop and talking only in Minecraft. But sometimes even the most dedicated Tween remembers her inner child, this is mine doing just that.

3. The Boy taking photos at The Hepworth.
There is nothing better than sharing something with your child and this shot encapsulates a joy shared with The Boy. Two of the wire models are ones we made in a workshop and this photo of The Boy taking a photo is when they were on display at the hugely prestigious and world famous Hepworth Gallery. This shot was captured on my phone because he'd run off with my camera.
I have now bought him his own camera.

  4. The Boy with Scooter.
Because The Boy had started treating my camera like his own (and because I really, really wanted a bigger, better camera) my parents gave me the best birthday present ever. This is one of the very first shots I took with the new camera.
Not the first obviously, that was of the floor.

And yes, he has forgotten to put his socks on *tuts*

5. Dinosaur!
It's not often you find a herd of dinosaurs in a church, but last summer we did.
The work of artist and former theme park designer Christian Christobal, the dinosaurs were briefly exhibited at Trinity Church, Ossett, last summer. This year we will be visiting them again at Christian's new attraction Dinosaur Discovery at Tong Garden Centre in Bradford. We can't wait.

These are my five favourite photos from 2013. to check out everyone else's
visit the Listography

Sunday, 30 March 2014

The Piano Lesson ..

Sometimes amid the hustle and bustle of steering four children and one husband through their day without incurring injury, physical or mental, you have to take a minute to stop and pause. To see the beauty in a world that seems to be increasingly mad, and mostly full of washing.

Not the easiest thing to do while living in the middle of a city admittedly, but then sometimes you can find delight in the most unexpected of places.

This week I had to take the reluctant Tween to her piano lesson, a joy that usually falls to The Man because he can drive and the piano teacher is inconveniently situated at the other side of the city centre. I can't drive, *gasp* having much earlier in life decided never to be the designated driver if I could help it. Well: That, a complete lack of spatial awareness and an inability to tell my left hand from my right without a marker pen. You could say that I don't drive for the social good, and you'd be right.

So my mission was to get a reluctant, piano-lesson-despising Tween from Point A (Home) to Point B (Piano) in under 45 minutes. On a bus. Through a busy city centre. During the school run frenzy. Oh yes, and not forgetting to pick up The Boy from school. In the rain.

*waits at the school gates in the rain*

*taps foot*

*looks at watch*

Boy wanders out without his ruck sack.

Me: "Where's your rucksack?"

Boy, looks around vaguely, points hopefully back at the school: "I'll just go...

Me: " Leave it, leave it. We don't need it......"

*Runs for the bus stop*

Did I mention I have a twisted ankle? I have a twisted ankle.

*limps last 50 yards towards the bus stop*

And then the bus didn't come.


Another bus, one sulk, two strops and a fight over who is sitting next to who later, The Tween was deposited, sulking, at a piano. The Boy and I were left on the piano teacher's doorstep with nothing to do for the next half an hour, though the rain had stopped. Just.

With very little choice of where to go or what to do, we trudged through the streets before, walking down one of the mainest of main roads in the city, we spotted a squirrel over a wall.....

.....which  led us towards a church and it's graveyard. I do love a good graveyard, I do. And so we set to exploring.

... but not only did we explore: The Boy practiced his reading on the gravestone inscriptions with a little bit of geography thrown in. And history. And spelling. There may have been talk of the meaning and use of biblical quotations.

And a quick lecture in design and Victorians. And Victorian design. And Victorian death traditions. And Victorians. (I like Victorians)

AND a quick game of Hide and Seek. Well, he is only seven.

Spot the Boy
We were, to The Tween's high dudgeon and glowering contempt, five minutes late to collect her, happier and (one of us) grubbier than what we were when we dropped her off.  ....

Next week we're going to take her again. She's going to be thrilled*

*She isn't.

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