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Most Annoying Kids’ TV Characters of All Time

Back in 2011, I wrote this post for Listography over at Kate Takes 5 and it’s been one of my most popular posts of all time. Of course, Sausage moved past the age where she watched the shows mentioned in that post and onto stuff that we actually love as a whole family (such as Regular Show, The Amazing World of Gumball, Adventure Time etc.) so we aren’t bombarded with Dora the fecking Explorer (bit of pop trivia: did you know, her name is Dora because the Spanish for explorer is ‘exploradora’?!) quite as much any more but there are still several childrens’ TV characters who set my teeth on edge at the mere mention of their name, so I thought I’d share a few in case you agree:

Norman Price from Fireman Sam

Norman Price, Public MenaceNorman Price (or Norman the Knobhead, as he’s known in our house) is the most wilfully stupid, genuinely dangerous child I’ve ever seen on TV and I’m of the opinion that he should be locked up immediately for the safety of himself and the whole village of Pontypandy. It doesn’t matter how many fires/floods/landslides the annoying brat causes, he still does the same thing all over again and I’m getting to the point where I think Fireman Sam should just leave him to drown or be buried up to his neck in rocks rather than waste precious time and resources on saving the little twerp.

Mr. Lopart from Handy Manny

Mr. Lopart

Do you know what I think it is about Mr. Lopart that I hate so much? The sheer hubris of the man. Everything he EVER does is a disaster which requires him to be saved in some way by poor, overworked Manuel, yet he’s STILL arrogant enough to think that he can do things by himself. The man is a Darwin Award waiting to happen. I really hope Handy Manny’s patience runs out one day and he just sits in a lawn chair, sipping a rum and coke while Mr. Lopart gets carried off like Icarus into the sun on a giant bunch of sweet-shaped balloons.

Egbert from Poppy Cat

Egbert, Poppy Cat

Even aside from the fact that Egbert sounds like he’s got permanently impacted sinuses, the antisocial shitbag blindly turns down any invitation to go on adventures with a self-importance and rudeness which would make even my super tolerant, gentle-hearted mother-in-law swear. If I asked someone to do something every single day and was told “No, I’ve got something FAR more important to do…”, I think I’d end up punching them. In fact, more fool Poppy Cat for continuing to ask him along on her adventures. I hope she loses her shit one day and makes him into badger stew.

The Wise Old Elf

The (Not So) Wise Old Elf

I love a bit of Ben and Holly.

Err, I mean THE KIDS love a bit of Ben and Holly…

Anyway, the so-called “Wise” Old Elf is always claiming to be an expert at something which he then completely fudges and has to defer to the, frankly awesome, Nanny Plum to help him out with the magic that he’s spent the whole episode looking down his nose at. So, my question is this: Who decided he was so ‘wise’? Is it a name given to him by other elves? Because I see no real evidence of any sort of deep wisdom which warrants such a moniker, and if it’s a self-styled title then that makes him an arrogant dick.

So, come on, who gets on your nerves? Leave me a comment below!

Surviving Colic

Baby ColicBefore I had Burrito Baby, I’d read about colic and knew that it basically just involved unexplained crying for hours on end. I read scary statistics about how it affects the mental health of the new mother, was responsible for relationship breakdowns at its worst and had also been known to cause bonding issues with the new baby. What I didn’t know, at the time, is that the reality of living with a colicy baby can be all of the above and worse. BB was fine she first came home. She fed well, slept pretty well and it seemed like life as a foursome would be pretty easy. Then the colic started.

When I tell people that, for roughly first 4 months of BB’s life that, if she was awake she was usually screaming, they don’t believe me. But I promise, it’s genuinely not an exaggeration. Because she was in pain for most of the time and impossible to comfort, it became really hard to enjoy her babyhood. I’ve never been the sort of parent to make the “Oh really? You can have her if you want!” jokes when people say how cute my baby is, but with BB I started to do it. Not because I really wanted someone to take her away; I suppose I just wanted a flicker of recognition from someone, another person to say “Yeah, I know, it sucks sometimes doesn’t it?”.

We tried a whole bunch of different remedies, different formulas, warm baths, bobbing, shushing, rocking, driving her round at 3am, taking her for walks in the pram in the middle of the night – nothing worked. I really wish I’d known about Nelsons Colica Colic Granules at the time because they may well have been the thing to help BB. Nelsons Colica Colic Granules cost £5.80 from Boots, Amazon and Morrisons and contain a unique formulation of a 30c potency of natural Citrullus colocynthis and Dioscorea villas.

All of the advice that we received regarding colic during that time was from friends and family, or found online, and was mostly anecdotal. Every time we thought we’d found something which helped BB, it stopped working as soon as it started which was really demoralising. The feeling of thinking you’ve found a way to help, only to end up back at square one, is really difficult to deal with and I won’t lie, it really affected my mental health. Not only could I not help my baby, but our house was an unpleasant place to be for all of us because BB was either screaming or we’d have to creep around for fear of waking her and have the screaming start all over again. I felt lik ethe weight of the entire world was on my shoulders.

The best advice I can give is this: things WILL get better. Go to your G.P. or pharmacist if you think your baby needs additional help, but over time your baby will definitely grow out of colic. I know things might seem horrible right now, but it does end and you WILL be able to enjoy your baby again.

Please take a look at the Nelsons Facebook page for more information and handy tips.

Is Your Pet Stealing Your Bed?!

When I received an email about the Carpetright bed competition, I had to giggle. You see, they’re giving away £500 to spend on a bigger bed to the person who tweets the best picture of a bed-stealing pet to @Carpetright with the hashtag #PetStoleMyBed, and if anyone knows about bed-hogs, it’s me! Here’s a few examples…

Chuck the Bed StealerChuck is a MASTER bed-stealer!

When we first bought him home from the rescue centre, we were ADAMANT that he’d sleep in his own bed, but after the first night of howling and crying, we relented and allowed him to sleep in our bedroom, and he gradually made his way into our hearts on onto our bed!

These days, now that he’s 10 years old, he finds it harder to jump on and off of the bed, so tends to stay on his own, but don’t feel too sorry for him – he’s got his very own memory foam mattress pad, plus a high-end thermal dog bed to lay on, so he’s not doing too badly! I have to admit though, he’s very nice to snuggle with. On a cold night or if I’m feeling poorly, I do love to invite my boy up for a hug.

Carpetright’s Twitter feed is already jam packed with some amazingly adorable pictures of pets languishing amongst the pillows and duvets of their owners, and I highly recommend you take a look, or better yet, enter your own picture for the chance to win!

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Mum’s the Word Instagram Challenge #MTWIC

Instagram is one of those social media services that I absolutely love – being able to do in-app editing, add overlays and frames and share across multiple platforms is hugely useful and probably explains why it’s one of the most famous apps of all time. An estimated 150 million people use Instagram, many of whom are celebs, giving us a tantalising insight into their glamorous (and sometimes not so glamorous) lives.

I’ve seen a few Instagram challenges around before and have often wanted to join in, but haven’t kept up, so I thought I’d put together on of my own and I’d love it if you’d join in. There are 30 topics and it’s up to you how you do it – you can either do each one on the assigned day, or challenge yourself to tick off every theme randomly throughout the course of the next 30 days. I want you to be as creative as you can be with the themes and once you’ve taken your snap, Instagram it with the name of the theme as the title of the post and the hashtag #MTWIC.

There’s no need to join in every single day if you don’t feel like it, but I’ll be sending out a daily reminder email if you want to leave your email address in the form below so that I can give you a gentle prod!

The beauty of a hashtag is that you can then go through Instagram by clicking on the hashtag and find all of the other people taking part – give as many comments and as much love as you can muster so we can give this a real community feel. This isn’t just for bloggers, either and I’d love as many of my readers as possible to come along for the ride. So…here’s the list:

Proof (1)

If you want to Instagram the list, just press and hold the image on a smartphone and save it to your device. Once you’re in Instagram, you can choose to upload it by clicking on the gallery icon next to the camera button. Don’t forget to add the title and the hashtag so we can find your posts. Leave me a comment and tell me what you think of the list and whether you’ve been inspired to join in. Also, do let me know if you have any questions. I can’t wait to get started!

How the Perception of Playing Bingo Has Changed

bingoPlaying bingo continues to provide entertainment and enjoyment for millions of people across the world that grab their dabbers and fill out their card during every game in the hope of winning a big prize. Bingo has remained a popular venture and recreational activity since its invention in 1929, as its simplistic gameplay and rules can be carried out for money or played for free. Numerous methods of play have been devised to further increase the level of excitement gained from playing bingo.

The emergence of bingo halls created an element of competitiveness, with players able to win money or prizes for winning a game, whether it is a single line or full house. Many players often play multiple cards during each game in order to increase the thrill, excitement and drama of bingo that can be won or loss at the call-out of a single number. Its success has been incorporated onto the internet to provide bingo enthusiasts with the modern day alternative to playing their favourite game. Bingo has now transformed into a modern game with a strong online presence as players are able to play for money via a computer or handheld device. The latter creates a wonderful ability for bingo lovers to play bingo at gamevillage.com wherever they are, whether it is during long commutes or at the doctors waiting for an appointment. Online bingo sites offer a cheeky little incentive to tempt new customers into creating an account here and enjoy playing with a nice bonus to start off with.

A change in perception

When the word ‘bingo’ is mentioned, many people jump to the conclusion that it is game mostly popular with elderly women who travel to their local bingo hall on a regular basis to play with their newfound friends. They value bingo as a game played by retired women who enjoy having a form of past time which they can share with others, and stand a chance of winning a prize, such as vouchers and holiday tickets. It is a perception that has remained prominent prior to the launch of online bingo sites; although people of all ages and gender play bingo, their involvement was not recognised within the general consensus.

As online bingo sites rose to prominence, the long-standing perception of the game changed. It became instantly apparent that people of all ages and gender play bingo in a recreational and competitive format, where they happily play in a bingo hall or online. Many people make it a priority to visit their local bingo hall once a week to enjoy a social activity with friends and family members, whilst also enjoy playing the game for the fun and excitement it provides. Playing bingo is also popular with mothers, particularly as they can play online via their computer, smartphone or tablet while they have a little bit of time to themselves while their child is asleep. It can also be incorporated within a great day out for mothers who take time to socialise with friends in order to catch up and play a relaxing game that can make for a wonderful night.

State of the game

The change of perception from a game that is mostly played by elderly women to a modern game that is played by everyone through online bingo sites has created continuous waves of new players who are willing to give bingo a try. Bingo is now marketed to people of all ages and gender which has allowed bingo sites to become hugely popular and successful. The ability to play whenever you want, wherever you are has also been a major factor behind bingo’s emergence as a thoroughly enjoyable game that is played and can be enjoyed by everyone, irrespective of their age and gender.

London’s Hidden Gems

Eltham_PalaceGuest Post

With a city the size of London, there are bound to be some amazing places to visit that aren’t particularly well known, or that offer something completely different from the norm. So if you’re looking for something to do in London that’s a little off the beaten track, where should you go?

Eltham Palace

So off the beaten track that even residents of the local area didn’t know it was there until it opened its doors to the public, Eltham Palace is a beautiful place to visit. It’s starred in many a television programme over the years and is a mixture of architectural styles, from the historic Great Hall which still holds remains of the medieval palace, to the stunning art deco property which was built here during the last century. There’s a play area for children and beautiful gardens in which to enjoy a picnic.

Angels

For 170 years Angels has been providing costumes to the film and entertainment industry, and now you can be a part of that by taking a tour of the biggest collection of costumes and accessories in the entire world. Featuring a staggering eight miles of costume racks, a tour of this unusual place is well worth taking if you’re a movie-buff in London. You’ll visit the tailoring departments, where you can see bespoke costumes being made, as well as visiting the various departments which include the jewellery department, the wig department and, of course, the massive costume store, where you’ll see costumes used for the likes of The English Patient, Titanic, The Young Victoria, Memoirs of a Geisha, Anna Karenina, Call the Midwife, The Great Gatsby, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Maleficent and The White Queen.

Happiness Forgets

This subterranean cocktail bar is hidden underneath a restaurant in Hoxton Square. It’s not a flashy bar, or a secret members club, but it just so happens to be making the most of the space in the basement area of the restaurant and offers good service and amazing cocktails- and you’re guaranteed to find a dark candlelit corner in which to snatch a romantic moment or a quiet drink with friends. Sip cocktails with names like the Hawksmoor Colins, Unforgettable Fizz and Too Many Manzanilla, along with great bar food and even some delicious sweet treats like pistachio donuts with honey syrup. Foodie (and drinkie!) bliss!

The Seagrass

If it’s good old fashioned cockney pie, mash and liquor you’re after, look no further than The Seagrass in Chapel Market. Equally, if you’re looking for an al a carte menu, you can also find it here! On Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights this 19th Century pie and mash house undergoes an amazing transformation into a fine dining destination, serving up only the best in British produce. Choose from Spiced Cornish Crab Bisque, Venison Haunch Fillet with triple cooked chips and Bernaise sauce and a fantastic British cheeseboard with oatcakes and chutney, among other culinary delights. A real surprise from what would otherwise be just another great pie and mash house.

There are plenty of hidden hotspots in London – which one will you choose to visit first?

Silent Sunday

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So You Want To Travel… With Kids?

The idea of travel – with kids – can seem absolutely frightening. To those without kids, it can even seem like a nightmare. To those of us with kids though… Oh, okay. Fine. It still seems like a nightmare. It’s not that you don’t love your little ones, obviously. But they can test your patience at the best of times, and so it’s totally natural to worry how both they – and you – will cope when you decide to take a holiday. So what do you need to think about?

Money

Seems a bit of an obvious one, but there are loads of different factors that you need to consider here. First of all, of course, is saving up. How much is it going to cost, and what are your spends going to be when you’re there? Are your family better with all-inclusive, or would self-catering be better? Once you’ve sorted all the technicalities, you’ll need to get currency, if necessary. For some countries, like those in Europe or America, this will be as simple as walking up to the counter the day before and changing your sterling. Some of the more exotic places will require that you order way in advance, so it’s really worth thinking about this. It’s often better to take a mixture of currencies – cash, traveller’s cheques and even pre-paid debit cards especially for travel that you can pick up from travel agents. They’re fab because they won’t run up huge charges for you to come home to! Remember, if you run out, it’s not ideal, but it’s not the end of the world, either. Thanks to modern advancements, companies like Azimo will allow family and friends back home to give you a helping hand, from almost anywhere on the planet.

Travel

So, once you’ve picked a destination (or perhaps even before), you’ll have to think about travel. Depending on the age(s) of your kid(s), air travel may be a bit tricky. However, it will never be impossible! If you’ve got a baby and she/he is prone to crying, and you are quite content with other passenger’s thinly disguised dirty looks throughout the flight, then knock yourself out. You shouldn’t allow other people’s discomfort to affect your plans.
If, on the other hand, you’re the parent to a slightly older, perhaps nervous child, you may need to work on dispelling any fears they have. The coverage of things like the ‘Malaysian Plane’ hasn’t escaped the notice of a lot of young people, so it’s important to acknowledge it if need be. The best things to do in these instances are to let them know that bad things almost never happen in the air, so there’s no need to be frightened! The last thing you should ever do is show fear around them yourself, because these things are easily picked up on – it’s called a ‘vicarious fear’. If you want to avoid planes altogether, there are some great coach companies out there, like National Express and International Coachlines London, and they’re definitely not as daunting as they sound.

Accommodation

When you throw kids into the mix, picking somewhere where you can relax for seven days straight on a beach may not quite be what they have in mind. You’ll want to choose somewhere with plenty of activities – whether there are day trips or excursions you could take nearby, or a kid’s club they could have fun in with new friends throughout the holiday. A great place to check real life reviews of your apartment or hotel is Trip Advisor. They have candid photos, and honest pros and cons of the place in question.

Insurance

Insurance is most definitely, 100% completely NOT AN OPTION now that it’s not just your own life you have in your hands. Healthcare in other countries has the most ridiculous price tags attached to it, and we British are incredibly lucky to never face this at home with our own NHS! To avoid any nasty bills, you’ll need to price up insurance alongside the trip, for everyone in the family. This is sometimes included in your bank account, so have a little look. Alternatively, you can pick it up online or at a travel agent. It’s also useful to have in case of loss, theft or damage (unfortunately sometimes, at the hands of baggage handlers or staff in the accommodation!).

Medicine

Don’t expect to rock up at the Doctor’s the day before you jet off and be able to demand that your – or your child’s – prescription is going to be ready, just like that. You need to leave plenty of time in advance to make sure you have all the right medication and tablets, before you go. Things like epi-pens, asthma inhalers and anti-histamines are also absolutely vital, so go for any check-ups in good time before you leave. It’s worth double checking whilst you’re there that you don’t need any immunisations or other precautions in the country you’re heading to. Finally, ensure you have a Doctor’s note if needed for some tablets, or customs may try and take them off you, or worse!

Now that’s all sorted, all that’s left to do is enjoy your trip! Passports at the ready! (And there’s another thing…!)

Let’s Go with Direct Line

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Having kids isn’t cheap, least of all when it comes to entertaining them, which is why Husband and I are always on the lookout for bargain deals on tickets and activities. When Direct Line asked if we’d like a free trial of their Let’s Go reward scheme, we thought it would be excellent for us, especially with the summer holidays not too far in the future. Let’s Go is a site dedicated to offering deals on leisure activites, days out, health, beauty and much more besides, and the best part is, you can enter your postcode and narrow down your search by radius.

We’re currently considering the possibility of educating Sausage at home, so it was great to see there were some museum deals available, offering two-for-one entry or kids go free on a whole host of different museums near to us. The deal which really stuck out to us, though, was the free child entry to Chislehurst Caves, over in Kent. Here’s the blurb:

The caves at Chislehurst are a labyrinth of man made tunnels forming a maze covering over six hectares thirty metres below the woodlands above. They were dug for chalk used in lime burning and brick-making for the building of London, also for flints to fire the tinderboxes and flintlock guns of years ago.Get ready for an amazing adventure! Travel back in time as an experienced guide takes you on a 45 min lamp lit tour.

Sausage is also a bit fan of the performing arts; she currently attends a Musical Theatre class once a week where she does singing, dancing and acting. There are a couple of different schools offering free sessions through Direct Line Let’s Go, which we may well take advantage of, even if it’s purely to see if she’s getting the best she can through her current classes.

Welwyn Roman Baths also look like a fabulous place to take Sausage, from an educational point of view. She’s very interested in History at the moment (she recently asked me to set her some homework on the Ancient Egyptians!) so the opportunity to show her some Roman architecture which is practically on our doorstep is too good to pass up!

The site is super simple to use – you simply choose the deals you want, download the vouchers and they’re yours to use whenever you please. Why not head over there for yourself and see what’s on offer near you? Happy bargain hunting!

Parenting C.V.

parenting CVWith all the focus that seems to be on ‘working parents’ and ‘stay-at-home’ parents, I’ve been thinking a lot about my role in life. I’ve come to the conclusion that, if I can at all help it, I won’t be returning to a ‘traditional’ workplace any time soon, as I’ve been fortunate enough to have this blogging lark turn into something of a career in itself. However, if I were to ever return to a 9-5, I reckon I’ve gained a lot of skills in my role as a parent which mean I’m pretty much capable of anything an office job can throw at me. I thought I’d put together my parenting C.V. for you all to take a look at:

Name: Jayne Crammond

Age: 29 (although the bags under my eyes make me look more like 49…)

Skills:

  • Multi-tasking – Lots of people claim to be good multi-taskers, but until you’ve had two kids you have NO idea what true multi-tasking is. TRUE multi-tasking is going to the loo with a feeding baby strapped to your chest, or rocking a screaming baby in a buggy whilst doing a french plait in the other ones hair.
  • Manual Dexterity – When Sausage was a small baby, we went out for a meal with my in-laws, and halfway through the meal she decided to do a poo-cano of epic proportion. I got into the toilets only to discover that they didn’t have any chaging facilities, nor even a big enough flat surface to lay her on to change her butt. That day, I discovered that I’m able to balance a poo-covered newborn on the length of my forearm, change her butt, clean her up and dress her in a new babygro. SKILLZ, BITCH.
  • Working under extreme stress – Hey, look, I love BB but there’s no denying that she’s one vocal little pickle. If she’s not happy, she’ll let you know and her cries can reach a crescendo that would make Mother Teresa swear. In the past 10 weeks, there have been times that she’s done that cry, on and off, for 10 hours at a time and in that time I still have to function as a human being and perform tasks of varying difficulty.
  • Able to function at a moments notice – Having a baby keeps you on your toes and you really do have to be ‘Johnny On The Ball’ at all times. Just slid into a hot bath? Just dozed off after being up most of the night? Managed to find a single moment to use the bathroom with the door shut for the first time in weeks? Be prepared for something to go wrong while you’re indisposed and have to jump to attention.
  • Reliability – In previous employment, I’ve been seriously flaky, having sick days here and there. However, parenting has proved that I am reliable when it’s something I have an interest in. In the 2090 days since I became a parent, there’s not been a single day where I’ve decided that I just wouldn’t turn up.
  • Risk assessment – When you’re a parent, your risk assessment skills are second to none. I can walk into a place I’ve never been before and with a quick scan of the room, know where every trip hazard, potential head-bump site, child-unfriendly object, patch of dirt and source of heat is within about 15 seconds.
  • Diplomacy – I’ve dealt with some difficult bosses in my time, but none moreso than Sausage and BB! Explaining to a toddler why they can’t have Jelly Tots on toast and avoiding a meltdown or even just refraining from wheeling BB into the garden in her pushchair and leaving her to have her latest meltdown takes a level of diplomacy of which Kofi Annan would be proud.
  • Time keeping – Okay, so it’s not perfect, but being able to get up after minimal sleep, dress, feed and organise three human beings and get them all out of the door on time, in something approaching a presentable fashion? I’d say that’s a WIN.

So, I’ve told you mine now you tell me yours; what skills has parenting taught you which would be totally transferable to a professional CV? And on a serious note…isn’t it sad that we can’t actually use these on our CV?!