A Post About Davina McCall

Davina McCall.

When she presented Big Brother I used to find her very annoying. All those OTT mannerisms & that wacky enthusiasm! It seemed very manufactured to me.

Having said that, past the 1st series or 2 I found BB itself very annoying: just full of Fake.

She seems to pop up on a lot of charity events these days; Red Nose Day, for instance, where she both presented on the day & reported from communities in Ghana who were in need of or who were benefitting from aid.

I saw her on the news yesterday, Continue reading “A Post About Davina McCall”

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My Letter to Matilda Mae

A year ago on Sunday the lovely Jennie, who writes the brilliant ‘Edspire‘ blog, tragically lost her beautiful 9-month-old baby Matilda Mae to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), also known as ‘Cot Death’ .

Bloggers & well-wishers all over the world have been getting together to try to share Jennie’s grief & to celebrate & commemorate the brief life of her beautiful & much-loved little girl, writing ‘Letters to Matilda Mae‘.
Continue reading “My Letter to Matilda Mae”

Us and Them

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I can’t help thinking of Syria, & especially of its children & the terrible suffering so many are enduring.

Chemical weapon attacks on city suburbs.

A school bombed with napalm.

Horror almost too great to contemplate.

It’s trite, yes: but someone, somewhere has to do something, don’t they?

Don’t we?

Don’t I?

Our First Festival!

On Sunday we took Jake & Ellie to their first festival! Sort of…

The Big Welsh Bite, in Pontypridd.

The weather could have been better…

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Jake & Ellie didn’t seem to mind at all; certainly a lot less than I did!

After buying them some juice & the biggest chocolate brownies they had ever seen we ventured out!

There were rumours of a children’s face-painter across the way; when I tracked down their location I found they’d given up & gone home…

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We did however find a working carousel, which they really enjoyed! It was the first, & possibly only, time it had been used all day.

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After my being forced into buying them each a plastic sword filled with fake Smarties we headed back to the comfort of our tent.

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It was “our tent” because the Mummy was there manning a stall for a charity she’s involved with, PONT: building a ‘Bridge’ between Rhondda Cynon Taf and Mbale in Uganda. It’s a terrific project & one we’re delighted to be involved with.

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I’d been tipped off that there was a harpist singing & playing for the children, & sure enough it was true! After a little sing-song where Jallie & others sang along & added percussion they were given a chance to have a go on a harp themselves.

As you can probably see they loved it!

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Rain, mud, strange food & drink, an adventure or 2, tents, music, enjoying ourselves despite the weather – a typically British festival, and hopefully the first of many!

6 Months On, We Still Grieve

I was listening to music this morning, as I often do, & this song came up –  purely by chance.

Musically it’s stunning – after all, it’s Peter Gabriel so that’s almost to be expected.

I was very moved by its lyrics.

It appears to have been written by someone who knows its subject matter well: Grief.

I then hunted around on YouTube & was equally struck by this stunning video made for the song.

It was 6 months ago today that Jennie, who blogs & tweets as ‘Edspire‘, lost her beautiful 9-month-old baby girl Matilda Mae to SIDS; also known as ‘cot death’.

Obviously I’m not in a position to judge but this song, its words & the video seem so fitting, almost perfect. It’s featured in the film ‘City of Angels’, which also seems appropriate.

So I thought it fitting to share it here on this sad day.

As ever, any words I might come up with are utterly inadequate; here instead are the lyrics:

It was only one hour ago;
It was all so different then.
Nothing yet has really sunk in.
Looks like it always did,
This flesh and bone;
Just the way that we are tied in.
But there’s no one home.
I grieve ……….. for you.
You leave ……….. me.

So hard to move on.
Still loving what’s gone.
They say life carries on.
Carries on and on and on and on

The news that truly shocks
Is the empty, empty page
While the final rattle rocks
Its empty, empty cage.
And I can’t handle this.

I grieve ……….. for you.
You leave ……….. me.

Let it out and move on.
Missing what’s gone.
They say life carries on.
They say life carries on and on and on

Life carries on in the people I meet,
Everyone that’s out on the street,
In all the dogs and cats,
In the flies and rats,
In the rod and the rust,
In the ashes and the dust.

Life carries on and on and on and on
Life carries on and on and on

Life carries on and on and on and on
Life carries on and on and on

Just the car that we ride in,
The home we reside in,
The face that we hide in:
The way we are tied in.
As life carries on and on and on and on
Life carries on and on and on.

Did I dream this belief
Or did I believe this dream?
Now I will find relief.

I grieve ………….

Matilda Mae: gone but never forgotten

Shoulder to Shoulder To Day #S2S2D

An amazing thing has been happening here in the online parenting community over the last few weeks.

Emma Day, a young Mum who blogs over at Crazy With Twins, has been struggling with cancer. Having had an operation which was only partially successful she then had to undergo treatment with radioactive iodine. Distressing enough in itself it also meant her being in complete isolation for 5 days, then unable to go within 1-2 metres of anyone for 10-16 days, and – worst of all – within 1-2 metres of her baby twins for up to 28 days!

The full story is here, and you can read all about her struggle with cancer here.

The parent blogging community rallied around. Victoria & Firefly Phil set up ‘Shoulder To Shoulder To Day’ & invited bloggers to give Emma their support in this difficult time, mainly by writing cheerful & inspirational posts for her to read while in isolation.

The good news is that her treatment has been much more successful than expected & she is now in full contact with her family again!

We have decided to carry on with the blog hop as planned, with not only cheerful & inspirational posts, but also to raise awareness of the dangers of cancer irrespective of age or circumstance. We’re urging everyone to get anything suspicious checked as soon as possible; in Emma’s words “unlike me who left it years”.

We’re also raising awareness of the fantastic work of Maggie’s Cancer Centre & of Emma & her friend Sarah running the Race For Life to raise funds. Emma’s sponsorship page is here.

We’re also looking for a sponsor to buy an iPad for the iodine room at the Cheltenham General Hospital; anything used there can’t be taken back outside due to radioactivity & has to instead be destroyed. A permanent iPad there for anyone else undergoing treatment like Emma’s would be a fantastic help. If you can help or if you know someone who can please let us know.

So if you have a cheerful or inspirational post you’d like to add please do so!

Even better, if you have an experience of cancer that you’d like to share we’d love to read it.

I’m honoured to be able to host this wonderful blog-link today as part of the parent blogging community, along with Mary at Over 40 and a mum to one.

So thank you for reading, & please go ahead: read, write, enjoy!

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…
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A Lullaby

I was really touched, as so many of us were, by the words of the lovely Jennie when she wrote her “Born To Be An Angel” love poem as a eulogy for her beautiful baby girl Matilda Mae, who she so tragically lost to SIDS (cot death) in February.

It brought to mind a beautiful song, one which I really love: Don MacLean’s “Vincent (Starry Starry Night)”, & I was inspired to rewrite some of it, with some of the song’s words & inspired by the beautiful words Jennie, & others, have written in remembrance of Matilda Mae.

Jennie has become involved with the wonderful cot death charity FSID.  They fund & publicise research into SIDS, the causes of which are still not fully understood, & provide support for those who have been affected by it.

They are today changing their name to The Lullaby Trust.

So in support of The Lullaby Trust & the wonderful work they do here is:

A Goodbye Lullaby for Matilda Mae

Starry, starry night
Lit up by Matilda Mae
One winter’s night she went away
To join the stars that sparkle in the night
An angel taking flight
Looks down on us with chocolate eyes
Lighting up our winter skies
The love she’s known can brighten any heart

So light a candle, pray
Remembering Matilda Mae
Even ‘though she now has gone away
In our hearts she shall remain
Those she left behind they love her still
And they always will

All who knew you loved you
‘Though your days were few
And when you spread your wings to fly
On that starry, starry night
You left a love so radiant and true
Born as an angel, ‘Tilda:
This world was never meant
For one as beautiful as you

Jennie has set up a linky on her blog for posts like these in support of The Lullaby Trust.  Just click on the picture below to see them, & to support this great cause:

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Saturday is Caption Day: Honk!

1-DSC00258Got a witty, profound or just plain silly caption for this picture? Then leave it in the comments below!

Then click on the little boy’s head here & you will be magically transported to the funsome Mammasaurus’ blog for many more pictures crying out for a witty / pithy #satcap caption.


Climbing Mount Snowdon With #TeamHonk

“WOW!” moments: 2

“O.M.G. I’m going to die!” moments: 1

And that was just during the drive there…

Looking back I think I may have taken this climbing up Snowdon thing a bit lightly.

I spent the first half of my life, 25-odd years, in New Zealand. It’s got lots of volcanoes & big mountains & stuff. I could see the Southern Alps, with its 30+ peaks over 3 kilometres high, from my bedroom window, & I’d been up in the mountain passes there often.

Aoraki / Mount Cook. Image via Wikipedia

And in 2006 I climbed the Inca Trail in the Peruvian Andes to Machu Picchu, going up to 4,300M.  The only major problem I had there was altitude sickness, & I got over that after an hour of climbing.

So when the mighty Mammasaurus asked for people to climb with her I was excited! I hadn’t done anything that active in the 3 ½ years since the Mummy got a big tummy & I leapt at the chance to get out & about again. And she did offer me a lot of gin!

“It’s not a proper mountain: just a hill, really”, I told myself. “How hard can it be? I’ve climbed The Andes, dammit – that’s like 4 Snowdons!”

Ignoring the fact that the Inca Trail was me at 7 years younger, & that the most exercise I get these days is carrying Jake down the stairs in the morning…

Looking all serious at Machu Picchu
Looking all serious at Machu Picchu

As the days went on however I did start to become concerned. It gets cold up there in March. There’s snow. And ice. Rain & high winds. Poor visibility. And Yetis. I really hate Yetis.

It’s the day before the climb & I’m ready to go. Then I find that both cars need emergency repairs & tax discs. Then 2 teeth fall out. At one point I wondered if I would at all but eventually I managed to set off in one piece (minus 2 teeth), in a legal & safe car.

In typical non-comformist style I stayed overnight in the old Midlands house that we can’t sell while the rest of the team slept in a Snowdon hostel. I left early in the morning, aiming to meet up with everyone in the Llanberis carpark at 8.30 for a 9a.m. start.

I was having a good run in, until…

Turning a corner somewhere on a north Wales hill the car went into a spin: 360 degrees, with stone walls on either side & into oncoming traffic. I got lucky & hit nothing, but it could have been different. Black ice!

After that I drove much more carefully & slowly, being rewarded with some stunning scenery. Then I saw Snowdon & got all emotional, and a bit primal. As much as I love looking after my gorgeous twins for the first time in years I felt a freedom I’d forgotten!

My cautious driving however meant my arriving at 8.40, 10 minutes later than planned.

To more problems! The carpark was full, I was told by the spectacularly unhelpful man in charge, despite many unused spots supposedly reserved for ‘staff’ being clearly visible. He then pointed me to the nearest parking spot: back down the steep road, 20 minutes’ walk away. Stopping in a coach spot I quickly spotted a large group of excited people, mostly women in red pants. Running over I was delighted to recognise Penny from ‘Alexander Residence’; fortunately my “Hi Penny!” didn’t interupt her filming!

After a few quick introductions ‘Mummy Barrow’ & I went over to have a word with Mr Helpful. He just wasn’t budging. When the words “Health & Safety, you see” were uttered I decided to take ‘the better part of not punching anyone’ & just park down the road. The plan was for everyone else to take off but to just walk slowly so I could catch up.

It was a steep road! I legged it up the hill, & saw the group winding up the mountain path. Not knowing what pace we’d be able to keep up we were always concerned at getting back down before sunset, & at the time I’d felt confident that I could catch up quickly. Overconfident, as it turned out.

At least the view was good:

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I got back up at 9, out-of-breath, tired & hot, despite the cold weather. It was already clear that I wasn’t as fit as I’d hoped. Stopping to obey nature’s call I set off in pursuit!

After an hour, during which time the path got progressively steeper & rockier, there was still no sign of them. I heard later that the teenage boys in the party were setting a pretty good pace. I’ve been quite amused to read other posts that describe this part of the walk as a gentle introduction: by this time I was already knackered! I was by now kicking myself, almost literally, for stupidly deciding that I didn’t need the trekking pole I’d brought with me.

Again though, the views were good!

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Soon I came to a big lake & for the first time I started to have serious doubts. The track went off in 2 directions, I had no idea which way the team had gone & there was no signal on my ‘phone. I took what seemed to be the main track, one which I saw other climbers using. I was starting to wonder if I ever would catch up, if I was even on the right track. I was thinking that soon I might have to decide whether to carry on & climb the mountain alone, or turn around & go back home. Not a decision I wanted to have to make.

Fortunately I didn’t have to! At about 10:40 I rounded a corner to a stunning frozen lake – & finally found #TeamHonk!

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Apparently they’d been waiting there for some time. I was trying to press on but I guess my pace must have slowed as I became increasingly tired, despite all the Lucozade & snack bars!

They seemed as relieved to see me as I was them, giving me a warm welcome & shoving chocolate brownies into my sweaty hands! After a quick break – not before my realising, (while I was flat on my stomach about to take The Best Photo In The World Ever), that I hadn’t charged my camera – we set off again, together. I just wanted to lie down & sleep for about 10 years…

Unsurprisingly the climb got really tough from here on. Slippery rocks on narrow ledges, with steep drops on the side, then treacherous snow & ice. Soon I was really struggling; every step was agony. My body was screaming at me to just @%^!ing stop! But that just wasn’t going to happen.

The weather gods seemed to have been having fun with us as well! I’d come dressed for arctic blizzards & rain: thermal undies & socks, 2 T-shirts, shirt, thick jumper, padded jacket, ski-gloves, a llama-wool hat & waterproof trousers. But it was sunny & dry! It was cold but nowhere near as extreme as I had anticipated. One of my main problems was overheating: even with several layers stripped off I had to frequently stop to smear snow & ice on my face to cool down.

About this time Leela very kindly lent me her spare pole. It was a real lifesaver, & made a huge difference. Thank You lovely lady.

We were at the business end of the climb now: a long, hard steep slog over difficult terrain. I have no photos, sadly, but have a look at other #TeamHonk posts and you’ll get the picture! By now it wasn’t just me who was struggling.

And I thought it would be easy! I was very wrong. The 4 times higher Inca Trail, for me anyway, was a stroll in the park compared to Britain’s little old Mount Snowdon!

But we struggled on, encouraged & cajoled by Gemma & her friends Marit & Al, who so kindly volunteered their time to guide our climb.

Until finally we came to a long but gentle snowy slope, & after what initially looked like an impossible last clamber up a slippery lump…

THIS:

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Thanks to Annie ‘Mammasaurus’ for what is now 1 of my all-time favourite photos!

TOP O’ THE WORLD, MA!

I really don’t remember when I last felt so completely exhausted. But was it worth it? Absolutely! I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. The sense of achievement of finally getting to the top was immense. It really is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life, but I’m so glad I did it.

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Thanks to Kate from Kate Takes 5 for a great #TeamHonk photo!

And of course I did it in good company. It was terrific to meet up in person with people I only know from blogs & twitter, & also with people I’d had no contact with before, although I was just too drained to be as sociable as I’d have liked. I’m hoping we can do it again sometime soon, somehow.

But of special  importance was that it was for “a good cause”. At last count we’d raised £5,655 for Comic Relief! Just £1, for example, pays for a child in Africa to be checked for malaria, £5 buys a net that stops him being infected in the first place. Potential life-savers!

After lunch the trip down was longer but gentler, easier overall but hard on the thighs & knees. And a good chance to relax a bit & chat.

Except… it had what for me was the hardest part of the whole day. Quite early on we were on a wide path which was mostly icy snow but with mud & gravel on the side. The side that had the sharp drop to unseen depths. Have I mentioned that I don’t like heights? That alone made me nervous. Then we had to get off the gravel & onto the ice. For the life of me I just could not keep my footing, even with the spiky pole. One slip could have, literally, been fatal. If it hadn’t been for Marit, our brilliant mountain guide, I would really have struggled!

Finally at the bottom, after some photos & knicker-throwing, & a few fond farewells, it was off to the pub! One of the sweetest beers I have ever tasted!

Now, as a certified Conqueror of the Mighty Snowdon, I have some advice for future climbers:

“Respect the mountain and she will respect you. Do not and neither will she”.

A lesson I had to learn the hard way.

Team Honk Snowdon are: AnniePennyTGemmaKateLauraMari, Marit, Al, StephDanielleHannahKatJenniferNikkiBruce, J, Kim, Miles,  Emma, Leela and Stefan.

Thank you to you all!

Especially those who kept me company while I was struggling on the way up. It’s a bit of a blur, to be honest, but I do remember chatting with Kat, Hannah, Leela & Emma. And making the final few hard yards with Annie. Thank you, ladies. Also chatting with Bruce & Marit on the way down.

Thank you to our guides & experts Marit, Al & Gemma.

Special thanks to Al for showing me that my borrowed pole had a pointy bit: useful in the ice. That was good tip, Al (sorry…).

Thanks to Annie ‘Mammasaurus’ for getting me involved.

Thanks to ‘Mummy Barrow’ for her vision & her organising.

Thanks to Penny for this brilliant video of our climb.

Thanks to Clare Balding for supporting us so much on twitter. Go #TeamBalders!

To Gower Cottage Brownies  for the chocolate deliciousness.

To Becky and everyone at Who Made Your Pants? for the sexy red knickers.

To Hi-Tec for the merino wool walking socks.

And to the Youth Hostel Association for the free meals. That morning after breakfast was like Mana from Heaven!

And thank you for reading!

And finally, of course, extra special thanks to everyone who sponsored us. Your generosity really will make a difference!

And it’s still not too late to sponsor us if you haven’t already. Just £1 could save a life!

Thank you.

Snowdon Climb Sponsor me!

How to make £1 go a very long way

What can you get for £1 in these days of cuts, recession & austerity?

Go to a Poundstretcher-type shop & get something that’s useful but for only a short time? And is probably half horse? Perhaps.

Half a lager, or a small glass of wine? I don’t know about you but I’d rather have a pint, or a large one.

A supermarket trolley? Yes, fun for a while, but you really should give it back

An hour’s parking in town? I usually need more.

A bus ride? Sure, I love standing out in the cold & rain for ages until 3 turn up at once, then sitting on a pile of chewing gum surrounded by schoolkids sharing the latest tasty beats on their ‘phones at max volume.

A loaf of bread? A pint of milk? Fair enough; we all need food & drink.

But I have a better idea.

£1 could pay for a child in Uganda to be tested for malaria.

It could Save. A. Life.

Just £1.

For a child’s life.

I call that a bargain.

£1 could buy books for the children Mummy Barrow from #TeamHonk met in Ghana recently. Enough for a whole year.

5 £1s could pay for a vaccine to help protect a child in Malawi against killers like tetanus & hepatitis B. Saves A Life.

A life-saving vaccine

Or buy a mosquito net to protect against malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Saves A Life.

30 £1s could train a volunteer to provide support & advice to an isolated elderly man or woman in the UK.

That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing this weekend: climbing Mount Snowdon in north Wales with a bunch of other parent bloggers for Comic Relief. It’s bonkers. It was -13 on the weekend with high winds. There was snow. It’s 1 kilometre UP. We’re wearing red pants.

But if we can Save A Life, many lives, help people who badly need our help, then it will be worth it.

So will you join me?

I have over 500 followers on twitter alone. If all of you just gave £1 think of what we could do!

All you have to do is click the pic:

Snowdon Climb Sponsor me!

So what do you say?

Just £1.

Or you could enjoy one of those lovely horsemeat lasagnes. It’s up to you 🙂