The secret to successful blogging

  1. Set up an account with a free blog hosting site
  2. Write a couple of posts
  3. Get distracted by the TV
  4. Procrastinate for six months
  5. Wonder where all your followers went…

So this isn’t how it was supposed to go… was expecting to be a respected blogger by now, called upon to give my thoughts on everything from Strictly (new life goal is to have the flexibility of Debbie McGee when I’m in my forties, let alone when pushing 60) to Trump (well, ok maybe not…I’d like to visit the US again one day..).

But, I’ve broken the drought and am ready to get back on it. Watch this space!!

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Does anyone have the phone number for DIY SOS?

paint

Painting. In the hands of a creative genius, I daresay the process is enjoyable and the result a delight. In the hands of an impatient incompetent, it’s a different story.

So, I have a new house which needs work, and three days to paint three rooms – and with the third day now drawing to a close, on reflection I’m thinking this may have been an optimistic target.

I like the idea of painting, it’s just the practicalities that get in the way. Here’s how shit went down this week:

Preparation – lose the will to live as you apply masking tape to get smooth lines everywhere and then realise that the corners aren’t proper corners and the ceiling isn’t at a true 90 degree angle with the wall. Attempt to fling to the floor the (many) bits of masking tape that have curled in on themselves and now seem to be sticker than No More Sodding Nails. With the room now doused in masking tape move on to step two…

Application – find something to open the paint tin with. Realise that you no longer own a toolbox and the house is empty so ask a loved one if they have a suitable implement. Repeat the process several times for; something to stir the paint with, something to protect the floor with and (my particular favourite) something to get paint off the 0.01% of the room that isn’t covered in masking tape and you don’t actually know how paint even got there maybe it’s because Professional Widow by Tori Amos came on the radio and you were flailing your arms about pretending to be 18 again. This process is now referred to as ‘irritating the crap out of your nearest and dearest due to thinking that preparation is just putting masking tape around a room’. Moving on…

Application, part two – get started with a roller. Or debate the merits of paint rollers with your dad who is a BRUSH PUREST and will then spend the next four hours telling you why as you both paint the walls using your preferred method. Get paint in hair, on socks, on the floor (because you didn’t realise it was on your socks…) and start to wonder if you could get away with just doing the one coat.

Admire your work – survey your handiwork while drinking a nice cup of tea. Casually attempt to take off some of the masking tape, and forgetting its earlier No More Nails show of strength, wonder why it has taken half the wall away with it.

Now I get why there are unfinished DIY projects in homes across the land. The initial enthusiasm dies off as the reality of rectifying mistakes and the realisation sets in that it’s unlikely the project will be completed by the time Corrie’s on (‘Yep,’ says Bob – the builder, obvs – as he surveys another DIY bodge job: ‘Trouble is, that wall you’ve just tried to take out is an RSJ…’).

My vision was for different colours, a dado rail (which, the Brush Purest insists is not a true dado rail as it’s not protecting furniture… what should I call it then? Wall feature?!!!), one wall of wallpaper and some clouds on the ceiling of the boy’s room. What I have actually achieved is two half done rooms. How has this taken three days? I worked ALL day! I can’t even look at the third room now without breaking out into a sweat.

So I’m now making this shameless plea to DIY SOS. I’ll finish off the two half painted rooms, if you take on the third. Aaaaaaaaaand… the back garden needs some turf and the smallest bathroom in the world needs replacing. Oh, and it needs to be done by next week. Sounds good, yeah?!

 

 

Are houses just money pits?

I remember loving the film ‘The Money Pit’ – with Tom Hanks and Goldie Hawn as a young, enthusiastic couple gradually worn down by the realities of owning a home that they would ‘do up’. If you haven’t seen in then it’s a good way to waste a rainy Sunday afternoon – if you don’t have children, obvs, otherwise you’ll be watching something like Cars 2… Anyway, the gist is that the pair are met by a succession of mini house disasters which culminate in a giant hole in the middle of their home. Despite my depressing synopsis, it is actually funny. (Of course it is, Tom Hanks AND Goldie Hawn are in it!)

Why am I reminiscing about an 80s film that I haven’t seen for about ten years? Well, two weeks ago I finally got the keys to the new home I have bought for me and the boy and the dog. It’s not the first time my name has been on a mortgage… but it is the first time my name has appeared alone. I should be excited, but I’ve never felt so out of my depth. Actually, that’s a lie, the last time I felt this out of my depth was shortly after the birth of my son. But that’s another blog post.

Woah, that got serious quite quickly… where was I?!

Ah yes, since ‘the family home’ sold last summer, me and the boy and the dog have been residing with my parents. (My mother is not known for her patience and so to have put up with us all for eight months deserves a medal.) Following much daily lamentation about the lack of suitably affordable properties, a ‘for sale’ sign appeared in the house across the road. After a short debate about whether I should buy a house so close to my parents, who also take on a big chunk of the baby/dog sitting, I put in an offer and it was accepted (after the usual ridiculousness of each side – yes, I know I’m one half of this –  bartering until they feel they have a ‘bargain’).

And so the house is mine. It is not the ‘new build that will require no work whatsoever’ that I had envisaged eight months ago. The house needs a little bit of work – a new bathroom, replacement windows and doors, turfing of the back garden and a LOT of paint. To a seasoned DIYer, it wouldn’t look like much of a project at all. But, I’m no DIYer. I’m a procrastinator. Not a great combination. And as I’m living out of my parents’ spare bedroom while I sort the house, procrastination is not good.

In the past, DIY projects would invariably involve compromising with my ex over colour, price and style. Now it’s just me. And my son, who when asked what colour he would like his bedroom to be painted, replied; ‘Red, blue, green and yellow’. With a brown carpet thrown in for good measure. (I’m sure the more creative readers of this blog have already come up with a great idea for such a colour scheme…).

With very limited finance available, I’m stuck when it comes to making any kind of decision. Yup, ‘first world problems’ springs to mind. I’ve given more consideration to paint colours than I did when it came to choosing A Levels. More time deciding on the smallest, one-up-from-least-expensive bath than reading through the mortgage paperwork.

And, so far, every decision has been met with further expense. Either rectifying previous DIY endeavours by the former owners, or wanting something slightly different than what was there before. The latest being replacing laminate flooring with carpet… which apparently, isn’t quite as easy as laying a carpet over the wood…

Added to this has been the insurance – not just home insurance, but one for in case your water pipes leak, another in case you die before paying off the mortgage, and what if that fridge freezer you bought five minutes ago breaks? Or the sofa falls apart? Yup, you definitely need insurance for that too. (While I was actually offer insurance for the last two, I didn’t take up the offer…)

I thought it would be exciting to make decisions on my own, after more than a decade of living with someone else. But actually, it’s unsettling. I don’t regret the divorce. Just the ending of sharing a life with someone (as in another adult, not the boy!). Guess it’s time to put on the big girl pants and get on with it.

 

 

Success at dating? I went to Ibiza and came back with a pen pal.

pen-pal

Back in 1999, me and two single friends went to Ibiza trying to be Zoe Ball, recreating the bottle of Jack Daniels, straw hat and jean shorts vibe hanging out at Manumission, or whatever the cool clubs were at the time.

We were young, we were single and (most importantly) ready to embrace the party spirit. Booze cruises, skimpy bikinis, banana boats, beaches, phat beats, sun, sea and..

very, very little in the way of ‘action’.

I say very little because there was one encounter with a bronzed god – the only evidence of this pissed up and instantly forgotten rendezvous being a receipt from a photographer and an address in San Antonio’s clubbing heartland. As me and my friends went to said location brandishing the ticket, we found a small shop in one of the rabbit warrens of the West End district. Staring back a me was a lovely photo of him and someone who bared an uncanny resemblance to me looking like I’d won the lottery. Thinking back now I bet he was no stranger to the laydeez – he probably gained a dose of syphilis or fathered several children that summer.

Towards the end of our holiday, me and the girls became friendly with three boys from the apartment down the hall. They seemed nice and I found myself talking to one of them more than the other two. But he was even more awkward at the subject of hooking up with someone than I was, so despite some skirting around the subject (and a nice hour sat next to him on a beach while one of my friends went skinny dipping with one of his friends), there wasn’t even a kiss. We did however, swap addresses and I thought no more about it. But, a week or so later, a letter from my holiday friend came through the letterbox telling me all about his life and what he’d been up to since he had returned from the holiday.

My pen pal and I never hooked up, but the experience does spring to mind when people tell me that they are jealous of my new single status. ‘You get the chance to date again’ some have said rather excitedly as though their previous dating horror stories have all been forgotten…

I was open to the idea. Perhaps now as a late 30-something mum I’d be more confident, more willing to make the first move and less prone to falling for the boys who clearly weren’t interested in me.

But, my part of the world is a small place and the pond is not overflowing with suitable fish. And the chances of meeting someone diminish greatly when taking the demands of parenting into consideration. Which is fine, I’m not complaining about this… it just explains my next move..

According to some survey I stumbled upon thanks to the power of Google, seven million people living in the UK are using online dating – so that’s more than 10 per cent of us. Yup, I said ‘us’. Come on, you knew this was where I was going anyway!

Anyway, I dipped in a toe and made a hasty retreat. A few online conversations and all the social awkwardness and self consciousness of the girl with the Ibiza pen pal came flooding back.

For starters, WTAF is Tinder? I can’t work out what it’s aim is – sex? If that’s the case, how is it that I ended up talking about photography? (Of a beach, in case you were thinking anything a bit risque..). Pretty sure I actually managed to repel the men who showed up on my profile – I was fairly bullish about this in the beginning – especially those who went silent at the mention of the boy – as this helped weed out the undesirables. But after a while it became a little soul-destroying.

My next port of call was Bumble, where the women have to message the men. I’m a modern woman, thought I, so why not? Turns out I’m not as IT literate as I like to think as try as I might I could not remove the bit that showed the name of my employer. ONLINE DATING IS FULL OF STALKERS SO I CAN’T TELL THEM WHERE I WORK!! So I closed my account.

At this point I made the noble decision to take myself off the market. Time to ‘focus on myself’, new hobbies (one tap dancing class), writing (a couple of blog posts) and reading (other blog posts).

Curiosity got the better of me however. And I took a browse of Plenty of Fish – free obvs… A host of interesting individuals arrived at my mailbox – men who seem to believe the way to a woman’s heart is confirmation that they use drugs ‘socially’, describe themselves as being ‘back here again’ or ‘losing hope’ and go by names such as ‘Spermy’ (yup!) and ‘Sketchy’. Guys, seriously.

After this first tranche of interest I started to think that perhaps paying for an online dating service might bring me better joy? As the present situation seemed to bring me a sort of ‘buy cheap, buy twice’…

And then, just as I was starting to think I would have to delete my account or actually pay for a dating service, along came a nice guy who has hobbies, interests, a job and does his fair share with his kids (or so he tells me). I gave him my phone number, he texted and after I did the thoroughly modern task of a comprehensive Google and social media search to verify his identity we have agreed to meet up later this week. I am nervous and excited and terrified and trying not to become a crazy person. It’ll be my first, first date in 15 years.

I’ll keep you posted.

This Mum's Life

A rose by any other name…

id

I’m currently leading a double life – oh it’s all very exciting, don’t you know. Totes a post millennial thing. Think baggy topped legging-ed single mother living with parents by day, sultry vixen-like divorcee by night solving crime on the mean streets of Cornwall…

Yeeesss, maybe not. More back-in-childhood-bedroom watching Gilmore Girls reruns on Netflix trying not to demolish a bag of Maltesers. (And now that lots of people are describing their evenings as being of a ‘Netflix and Chill’ nature, I guess I’m not the only one doing this. Because that is what it means, yeah?!)

So anyway, rather than the mystery and intrigue, we’re talking a fairly low level double life here. Married mother versus single mum with a different surname to her son.

It’s a bit of a half way house situation at the moment – pure laziness on my part has meant some know me by one name, others by another. Which has been awkward at times – particularly at work when I was congratulated on the recent marriage. It was more awkward for them though, to be fair…

I always knew that I would revert back to my maiden name after the divorce. This was about me and my identity, not what rules ‘Society’ says I should conform to. (Get me, next I’ll be in my Doc Martens carrying a placard and wearing a nose stud)

Problem is, it’s not just ‘about me’ anymore. It’s about that gorgeous blonde haired, blue eyed, pain-in-the-arse toddler sleeping in the next room. And while I know I did the right thing for me, my resolution wavers a little when I think of him. Especially for as he gets older. Will he be teased at school? Will he think this was to do with rejection of him? Or, as – for the most part…no politics here… – times and the make up of families has changed and we’re becoming a bit of a more tolerant society, is this all in my head?

I ploughed on regardless with changing my driving licence, bank details and work email. I even changed my name on Facebook and Twitter – now you can tell I really meant business…

But, the Judgey McJudgerson in me is stopping me from making the change with the doctor’s. Even last week at the walk in clinic, I gave my old, married name, fearful that someone would question whether my son was actually mine.

The prejudice lies with me, I know. So until I can be completely at peace with my decision, I guess I have to keep reminding myself that the only names that truly matter here are ‘Mum’ and ‘Son’.

 

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

The curse of the ingrained habit…

battenberg

During my first year at university I developed a weird addiction to Battenberg cake. I would wake in the early hours  desperate to devour a slab. Sponge first, of course – you have to save the marzipan til last. I’m actually embarrassed to confess it here, but it does illustrate the point I’ll make shortly.

This night snacking went on for about a fortnight – each night, around 2am, I would just have to eat some. No matter how much food had been consumed earlier in the day, the hunger pangs were there.

How does this fit in with today’s blog? Patterns. Or rather, how something you do for a couple of days suddenly becomes ingrained habit. I’m guessing that’s the psychology at work with the whole eat-something-you-don’t-like-at-least-20-times-and-then-you’ll-like-it. (except that really hasn’t worked for me with fish…)

Oh I’ve persevered with fish but I still really hate it (except for a good fish finger sandwich). Anyway, where was I? Sorry, patterns. Habits. Now, unless we’re talking about the serious stuff of drug and/or alcohol abuse, breaking a pattern is fine when you’re an adult, because you can get your shit together. As I did with the evil Battenberg – on the realisation of the role it played in the rapid weight gain and return of the dreaded teenage acne, I soon banished the pink and yellow squares.

Try telling a toddler though that they can’t keep eating the sugary cereal that you were forced to buy in the absence of anything vaguely healthy when on holiday, or join you in bed at 2am because ‘a lobster pinched my elbow’, ‘Mr Sun’s up’ (he most definitely is NOT) or ‘I can’t find my Transformer’. You will have a battle on your hands of epic proportions, my friend.

What may have made life easier for a couple of days has now become much like when your child has a firm grip on the lead of your hair straighteners while you’re trying to use them – delicate extrication is required.

You can try distraction (praise the Lord for CBeebies at breakfast), threats (‘eat your breakfast or I’ll make you come shoe shopping with me’), a heartfelt plea (‘please, please, please go back to sleep’) or prayer (‘Lord, could you please assist in this whole not sleeping malarky, because I’m going to lose my shit very soon… I swear if I can get a good night’s sleep tonight, I’ll let the boy do some painting tomorrow. Heck, I may even let him do some baking’.)

None of the above has worked so far – my son clearly has an iron will – it took a good fortnight of ‘the shop doesn’t sell your cereal any more’ to end the morning tantrums over the teeth-rotting crap. But before I have you thinking I’ve cracked this whole motherhood thing… this has  been replaced with a Biscotti before milk at bedtime. And he’s still joining me in bed most nights… *big sigh*  He doesn’t get his willpower from me.

So, what wisdom can I impart from this experience? Pick your battles – if it’s not going to kill him, or you (although we’re borderline with sleep deprivation…), then let it go. Chances are it’ll be much like every other phase up to this point so far, short lived and replaced with something a little more complicated next time.

 

These guns ain’t made for Body Pump

image11148739

Holy crap I can barely move my arms. And if I have to pick something up off the floor, it’s taking a good five seconds to encourage my thighs to get up again.

No, I don’t have the flu. Much worse (because this is self inflicted) – I went to a Body Pump class. Which shouldn’t have been that much of an ordeal given the amount of work these guns do every day. Surely these muscles have benefited from the daily toddler lifting/bending while lifting/achieving feats that you wouldn’t think possible while conducting daily tasks carrying a child doing some sort of flailing plank?

With small child’s bed time and subsequent scream-fest to consider, it has been harder than I thought to find a fitness class that fits in with the schedule.But then again, this is Cornwall, not New York where I imagine there are all night spinning classes mixed in with some sort of new fangled thing that has really good music and gives instant weight loss. Or something…

The other fitness class I’ve done recently and actually properly enjoyed is Clubbercise – a far friendlier affair that takes me back to my teenage years. If Clubbercise had been around in the 1990s, I’m sure there wouldn’t have been quite as many nights I’d like to forget. But I guess sales of Hock and Liebfraumilch would have suffered so… you’re welcome cheap wine industry.

Anyway, Body Pump, for the uninitiated, lays claim to being the quickest way to lose weight and tone up – there’s a bar,  weights, press ups and squats to test the strongest of wills. I thought it was perfect for a time poor, lazy mare like me who lacks the willpower to commit to exercising three times a week (or whatever it is we’re supposed to do now. Am guessing this advice has been superseded by something much less achievable, in the way that the recommended five a day fruit and veg has now become a highly realistic seven).

This isn’t my first BP experience… The introduction to my tricep muscles (or reminder of how much they can hurt when you use them) began 10 years ago. Me and a former boyfriend went religiously for about a month – he threw up after the first one and two days later I couldn’t pick up the office telephone.

I did sample another BP class – one where I didn’t feel bad for selecting a couple of 2.5kg weights… However, this class no longer coexists with the child raising requirements and so I’ve had to look elsewhere. Which brought me to the door of the instructor from a decade ago. The instructor who works on the ‘you’re not letting me down… but yourself’ school of motivation. It worked – grrr – the weights were heavier than before (a whole 1.25kg – oh yeah!). But I’m already feeling ropey…and obvs looking forward to the proper pain in two days time when the combining daily tasks with carrying the flailing planking toddler is sure to be even more entertaining than usual…

As always, I welcome your views on this sort of thing – how do you find fitting in child raising, work and exercise? Can you recommend a class that can boast results without killing muscle groups that you don’t know exist until you hurt them real bad?!