Us and Them



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?



My wonderful twins Jake & Ellie have been inspiring me.

I’ve been so impressed with their determination.

They want to do almost everything they see anyone else, especially older children, doing.

Even if – especially if? – it scares them.

They seem to think that almost nothing is, or should be, beyond them. Such self-belief, such confidence!

Perhaps not always grounded in reality, but it’s there nonetheless. And it seems to be working for them.

In April, for instance, they launched themselves into climbing a tree, completely independently.


They got stuck, & cried. I lifted them out – then they climbed straight back up again!

On Saturday we had the rope bridge. The first chance they’d had to climb it for weeks, normally they’d attempt it, get scared & I’d help them across. This time they charged over as if it was the easiest thing in the world. There were a few shouts of “I did it!” on the other side!

click to enlarge

On Monday they insisted on going on a zip-wire for the first time. After being too scared at first, they went back & loved it.

Then last night they spontaneously did rock-clambering for the first time, & really took to it – again with their determination overcoming their fears.

click to enlarge

They’ve seen something they wanted to do, overcome their fears & just gone & done it.

Life is full of obstacles. Things that it can throw at us can be daunting, overwhelming even. Or, in Ellie’s words: “a bit scary”.

There are things that we should do in order to have a better life, & things that we must do.

From things like providing for your family – emotionally, mentally, financially – to things like fighting cancer.

Jake & Ellie are determined, & strong. They fight their fears, & conquer them.

They are an inspiration. I have challenges to face, challenges which sometimes seem overwhelming. They have spurred me on to see that I can overcome my fears, that I can be determined, that I can fight & that I can win.

If these little 3-year-olds can do that then so can I. And so can we all.

Emma has. Cancer came at her, and she fought back. “Cancer we’re coming to get you!” is her war-cry. She’s been through a really hard time – but she’s winning.

She’s faced her fears, she’s fought for herself & for her family, & she’s coming out on top.

Jake & Ellie overcome. Emma overcomes. And so can we all.

So I’ll see you on the other side. And together we can shout “I did it!”

This post is my entry for today’s ‘Shoulder To Shoulder To Day’ blog-hop: bloggers coming together to support Emma Day in her fight against cancer, especially while she was receiving treatment in isolation & unable to be with her family.

There are some great posts there; to read them, or to add your own,  just click here

Shoulder to Shoulder to Day

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!

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The Gallery: Drink (Pretty in Pink)

Have I got you singing now? I hope so!

That song is a big ‘ear-worm’ with me. Every time I hear the phrase: bang! There it  is, stuck in my head.

“But what the Furs has that got to do with drink? Isn’t that what this silly post is supposed to be about anyway? Get on with it, man!” I hear you cry. Or words to that effect. Probably.

Alright, since you asked so nicely, this:


This is the source of much of my drinking activity. During the day, at least, especially mornings. I pretty much chain-drink coffee ’til lunchtime, then often indulge in 1 or 2 more in the afternoon.

My old cafetière broke, OK? Our kitchen is very small, we don’t have a dishwasher, so accidents happen. I needed my caffeine fix, & this was the only one I could find in town. Also: it was cheap. Which probably explains why it already has a crack at the top.

It’s my story, & I’m sticking to it.

Now I’m off to drink my pink brew and put on my Borat pinny* & marigolds to do the washing up while singing very loudly & very badly to Adele.

I am MetroDad, hear me roar!

* It was a gift, honest

This post is for Tara’s terrific ‘Gallery’ on her ‘Sticky Fingers’ blog.

It’s also for Emma of ‘Crazy With Twins’ who is having a hard time right now as she’s in isolation & away from her family while having treatment for cancer, so is in need of some cheering up.

To read more & to join in just click the pics:


Shoulder to Shoulder to Day

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum (#TeamHonk)

You know how you read a blog post and you think “Wow that’s great!” then you read the bit where it says “Why don’t you join us?” and you get all excited & you say “Yes! I will!” so you write a comment and send off an email…

Climbing mountains is a very serious business you know
Climbing mountains is a very serious business you know

Then you wake up the next morning and realise that you’ve agreed to CLIMB A BLIMIN’ GREAT MOUNTAIN?!


Yes, I’m joining those crazy cats at #TeamHonk to climb up Mount Snowdon in North Wales.

And yes, I probably am mad.

It is however, as they say, for a good cause: none other than Red Nose Day.

So if you feel moved to send a few kind numbers with a ‘£’ in front of them I would be very grateful.

And I promise not to use any of it to buy the plasters. You know, which I will inevitably need. For the painful blisters on my feet. From all that walking. Up steep, sharp rocks. In the cold, & the driving rain. In the dark. With all those bears and mountain-lions. And the Yeti.

OK, it’s possible that I may be exaggerating, a little. There aren’t any lions in Wales, obviously. But I expect it will be cold & wet. And I am worried about the Yeti. And I am starting to wonder what I’ve gotten myself in for.

Snowdon Climb Sponsor me!

So to make it all worthwhile you can sponsor me here (click the pic):

And, yes: that is an old photo there. Thanks for asking….

You of course are also welcome to join us! For a start I need someone to carry my stuff: that massive barbecue set & all those crates of beer aren’t going to get to the top by themselves!

There are at least 17 of us so far so you’ll be in good company. And I’m really looking forward to finally meeting some of these odd people from my computer screen that I keep reading about.

It’s all happening on March 2nd, so watch this space!

Minimalist Monday?

Well, I missed Silent Sunday


“Our Place”, the Community Hub that I’ve been involved with & for which I am now Treasurer & a Director, had its Open Day on Friday, & it went really well. We had loads of people, live music, balloons, biscuits, raffles & a giant marrow (no joke – we did). The only complaints we had were that it was too crowded!

We are up & running & already have Relate & 2 other local community groups using the facilities.

I had Jake & Ellie with me & they had a great time running around, exploring, charming with cuteness & eating biscuits. I couldn’t manage them both in the crowd, even on their harnesses, so (fellow Director) Carole had Ellie while I tried to keep up with Jake.

We discovered an old guitar there, & he seems to be a natural! He was strumming & plucking as if born to it, & loved it. I was trying to play it with him when Kelly (another Director) passed by & snapped us on her iPhone.

I think it’s a great photo; Jake looks very grown-up, & for once I don’t look too much like a tramp. I’m pleased to see too that we both seem to be having the same mad hair day!

I’m sorry that this blog has been neglected of late.  One of the reasons for this is that – although I certainly didn’t plan it that way – my blog has become very centred around photos; my camera at first had the Curse of the Black Spot & has now broken completely. The last photo I posted was made using the limited snapping ability of my video camera.

I plan to rectify this though, & post once or twice a week, hopefully more. Jallie have grown & developed tremendously in the last month or so!

Hopefully I’ll ‘see’ you again soon.

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What Happened When the Humanist Went to Church

I took the kids to Church today!

Seeing as I’m not at all religious – if pressed for a label I’d call myself a Humanist – this is quite unusual.

Don’t worry though; I’m not about to go banging on doors telling you that you’ll burn to death in Hell forever if you don’t give yourself to Jaysus.

We’ve started taking Jallie to a playgroup run by a local church, & they love it! There are some fantastic toys there – a mini kitchen, a sandbox, lots of cars / bikes they can zoom around in -&  lots of other parents with children of varying sizes & abilities. There’s even free toast & tea & coffee!

About halfway through all the kids sit down around a little table for drinks & biccies: it’s so strange seeing Jake & Ellie sitting there so quietly, eating like little adults, as if it’s the most ordinary thing in the world! They seem really chuffed about it too.

There’s usually an activity, mainly for the older children: picking out leaves from different trees outside, learning how to plant seeds, etc.

It seems to be run on a voluntary basis by church people, & they only ask for a minimal donation each time.

I tend to be pretty negative about religion; when you look at the deep corruption, viciousness & intolerance that seems to be inherent in the larger, more dogmatic versions – paedophile priests being protected  in the name of God,  holy wars, etc. etc. ad nauseum – it’s easy to be that way.

But these people are just nice, generous, giving something back to their community. It’s reminded me  – not that I should need it, as I walk past a Sally Army charity shop nearly every day – that much good can come out of religion along with the great evil. It’s been suggested to me that religion is more of a catalyst than a cause, & that may well be true.

Not that they care: they just like getting to run around & have fun! And the biccies, of course…

If only all of life were that simple, eh?

Join the Revolution!

Way back in 1844  – yes, even before I was born (cheeky) – a group calling themselves The Rochdale Pioneers started a revolution. Yes, in this country, in the U.K.  And yet most of us have never heard of them.

What they started is now a group of businesses with 6 million members & 5,000 outlets covering food, financial services, travel, pharmacy & funerals.

What did these Rochdale Pioneers do that was so revolutionary so as bring all this about? They started the first successful co-operative, that’s what – which became what we now know today as the Co-operative Group.

Despite their size & success they have stayed true to their roots & are as committed to their ethics now as were those 19th century pioneers. Every year they support thousands of endeavours both here & overseas, helping people to make their world a better place.

They’re launching a major campaign highlighting the impact these original co-operators had on the way we live & urging consumers (that’s you & I) to “Join the Revolution”. I’m glad to be a part of it. And here’s just one reason why, just one example among many of what they’re about:

Anyone who’s familiar with this blog will probably know how much value we put on playing with our twin babies. It’s not only fun for them & for us but can also be educational. I see it as a vital part of their development & of their growing into healthy happy adults. Play Montgomeryshire is a group who seem to agree with me on this. They provide families with free or low cost activities that give children greater opportunity to learn through play. When one of their services, the Machynlleth Toy Library, had its existing funding cancelled & came under threat of closure they approached The Co-operative and secured a donation of £2,000 from their Community Fund. That amount should mean the difference such a great local resource closing or staying open.

I like to think that the community project that I’m involved in in no small way owes some of its ethos to those Rochdale pioneers. Aiming to provide a central resource for families & community groups, the Steering Group is currently made up of various Council & school employees. Once it’s underway though the aim is to hand over its administration to local people: people like me.

Want to join the revolution? You can ‘like’ their facebook page & learn more about them & about how to get involved on their web page.

This is a sponsored post

Partage propulse par ebuzzing

Co-operating in your Community

I’ve recently joined the management committee of a local Community Hub. It’s a fantastic project which is renovating a derelict council property in a central location & turning it into facility for a variety of services directed at children, young people & families. Not only am I offering what little skills & time I may have, but I also hope to make use of it myself as it looks to be an excellent resource for people like us: parents with young children.

There’s clearly a gap here that isn’t currently being filled by existing services for families, whether provided by local government or charities. I was especially surprised to find that there is currently no Pupil Referral Unit here, 1 of the many services we hope to offer.

It’s a great project & one that I’m very excited to be involved with. All necessary funding is provisionally in place, but 2 final financiers have to yet to finally confirm their commitment. The project depends on all funding being confirmed within about 2 months & so could yet fall through, leaving us to have to quickly find alternative sources.

That’s why I was really pleased to be asked to publicise an appeal for community projects in need of funding on behalf of the Co-operative Community Fund. It’s exactly this sort of project that they are looking to provide grants for, & I’ll be mentioning it at our next meeting.

It’s funded by Co-operative members donating some of their share of profits, & has already helped thousands of groups throughout the U.K with grants of £1.2 million..

To qualify for a grant a group must be doing positive work for their local community, but does not have to be a registered charity. They must undertake projects that address a community issue, providing a lasting benefit, support co-operative values & principles, & preferably show some innovation.

To apply for a grant  just click the relevant link below.

In these times of cut-backs this looks like a great opportunity for anyone looking to help out in their local community &, in my  opinion, the Co-operative should be applauded for this.

Cooperative Membership Fund

Cooperative Membership Fund

This is a Sponsored Post. The opinions expressed in it however are my own. If I don’t like it I don’t write it!

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