Wednesday, 30 June 2010

On A Day Like This In June

This post is for both the wonderful Gallery, posted by Tara Cain, and Josie's Writing Workshop, which this week have teamed up together to come up with one theme for both words and photos.

The prompt is Emotions.


Nine years ago today, I married the love of my life.

I have a tendency to get a bit weepy at the slightest thing at the best of times, but there's nothing that is as guaranteed to set off my tears as much as a wedding, real or imagined. Every year, I like to dig out the album and look through the pictures, which brings up a whole raft of emotions. (This time of course I had the excuse of trying to find a picture for this post!)

Nostalgia comes to mind. I am wearing the dress and veil that my mother wore to marry my father. There is also a slight envy and longing for that old life. How young we look! How full of hope and opportunity. My husband's hair is thick and black. My eyes do not yet carry the bags containing the sleep robbed by our children. We are about to embark on the most wonderful journey - literally (a once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon to Tanzania and Zanzibar) and metaphorically.

My heart is tinged slightly with sadness at the memory of those that were unable to join us on our special day. There is a place in our hearts for these people, even if there is no place in the photos. Just as sad is the sight of faces on these photos of people we have not seen for a long time; friendships that have grown apart, marriages that have since dissolved.

Nine years is a long time.

Of course, the overwhelming emotion is one of joy and happiness. How could it not be the best party ever? The most important people in our lives were in one place sharing this special day. They had travelled from all over Europe to do so. Some had even brought baby bumps that were ready to burst only a week later!

The weather was that absolutely perfect English summer's day that comes around as often as leap years. The venue was the old English house of my dreams. The food was outstanding, the drink was plentiful, and as a result the dancing was ridiculously silly. I am proud to say that all this time later, our wedding still gets talked about as being one hell of a party.

"Love doesn't make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile."
Franklin P. Jones

Happy Anniversary, A x

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition

The three sisters over at Paris-Ankara Express have tied me to a comfy chair and subjected me to the Spanish Inquisition (please, no cushions!). This involves answering 10 questions, then developing ten questions of your own that you would like to ask other unsuspecting bloggers.

1) If you had enough money so that you never had to work again, what would you do with yourself?
I suppose this is a bit like the "what would you do if you were a billionaire" question in the 5 years meme. Husband and I were actually having this discussion over the weekend, and I think we both came to the conclusion that we would probably do very little in the first instance. We would take the kids to and from school, then do all those little jobs around the house that needed doing. In the summer we would tour Europe for 6 weeks, making the most of the school holidays and exploring all those places we had always wanted to go.

2) Do you knit or sew or do any other 'womanly' craft?
I have always been terrible at knitting and sewing, despite my poor mother's efforts. I don't think I have the fine motor skills for that attention to detail. The only vaguely crafty thing (and this is not necessarily just 'womanly'!) I do is a fair bit of cooking and baking, which is something I enjoy doing with the children.

3) Do you have a special talent that's unlikely to be noticed or that you're unlikely to brag about (like being able to brush your teeth with your feet!)
Nope. Not one thing. I am either completely transparent in my talents, or talentless!

4) Are you a meticulous planner?
Probably only when it comes to holidays - otherwise I'm pretty much take it as it comes.

5) Do you wear make up? If so how much, how often?
Yes - can't live without mascara. I have the most feeble, straight, thin eyelashes of anyone I know, which seems to only get worse with age. I look weird without just a lick of the black stuff and got fed up of people telling me I looked tired if I wasn't wearing any. If I'm going to work I'll also throw eyeshadow over the top.

6) Is there something you learnt as a child that you wish you could pick up again? A language, a sport, a musical instrument?
I was terrible as a child for dabbling in things and then not finishing them. Over the years, I attempted various sports, various musical instruments, and various foreign languages. The only thing I would quite like to do a bit more of is Finnish - I do feel a bit ashamed at how little of my mother's mother tongue I speak, especially as we are off there on holiday this year!

7) Do you swear in front of children?
No - I like to keep my swearing for those who might appreciate it.

8) Do you have any habits that you regard as childish?
Oh, too many to consider, but the worst is probably that I bite my lip a lot when nervous.

9) Jimmy Steward or Cary Grant?
Cary Grant - hands down

10) Vampire Bill or Eric Northman?
I watched the first few episodes of True Blood, but never really got into it for some reason. I therefore didn't really see much of Eric Northman. Personally, I'm also more into the tall, dark, handsome type, not really blondes, so would have to say Vampire Bill.

I would now like to pass my questions on to the following:

My questions are:
1) What's the first single you ever bought?
2) Have you ever performed on stage?
3) Night owl or Early Bird?
4) What's your favourite kitchen appliance (and why)?
5) What's currently on the top shelf of your fridge?
6) Worst ever holiday destination (real or imagined)?
7) What time does your alarm go off in the morning?
8) You can only have nice hair OR perfect skin - which do you go for?
9) What would your dream car be?
10) Have you ever spent any time in hospital?

Friday, 25 June 2010

TV like in the Good Old Days

Not content with being in the musical dark ages, I have this week come to realise that our TV viewing habits are probably more akin to those of my youth than a lot of people I know.

The World Cup has brought this realisation to the foreground. Now, I actually enjoy watching the World Cup. It is one of the big five sporting events that I do vaguely follow (the others being the Olympics, the Six Nations, Wimbledon, and occasionally, but not as often as before having children, Formula 1). However, there are occasions when even I get a little fed up of having it on every day, and every now and then I get the urge to watch something else.

What seems to happen in a lot of households (and here I am going to generalise horribly) is that the man of the house ends up watching the sport, while the female in charge goes off to the second television and catches up with CSI.

Notice the term "second television" there?

Technically, we also possess two televisions, if you count the "very tiny portable on the top floor that now no longer functions as we no longer have an analogue signal and whose internal aerial isn't strong enough for more than two channels on the digibox". Otherwise known as "the crappy portable". It's hooked up to our ancient VCR that only works if you physically remove the tape by taking off the top of the recorder with a screwdriver. Suffice to say, neither of them really get much use, and to all intents and purposes we are therefore a one television household.

I know, you are probably reeling from the shock right now. To make you feel better, it is a nice telly - nothing too fancy, but under 5 years old, HD and also hooked up to fancy PVR, so we're not completely steam powered. We rarely seem to watch anything "live" these days (other than beforementioned sporting events).

99% of the time I am more than happy with just that one television. Thankfully my husband and I share a similar taste in television. He even lets me control the remote occasionally. The children are at the age where all they want to watch is CBeebies anyway and are in bed by the time we do our viewing.

However, I do wonder what will happen when they grow older. Will they want a TV in their bedroom (something I'm personally dead set against)? Will we compromise and get a second "proper" telly for the kids? For gaming?

Am I naive in thinking that it will ever be like when I was young and the whole family congregated around the box to watch something together?

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Gallery - Creatures

This week's Gallery theme is Creatures. Welcome, then to the little creatures that are the bane of my life in the summer:

Terrible photo I'm afraid (AGAIN), but this is the corner of our conservatory. It has a lovely permanent collection of spiders/cob webs that are annoyingly just out of reach with anything other than a long-handled brush. In the summer they do especially well at catching the flies that float in the open doors. I suppose they are useful from that point of view.

DD1 is learning about "mini beasts" at school at the moment, so she is fascinated. They are therefore kept there purely for educational purposes. *ahem*

Saturday, 19 June 2010

The one where I think I am prejudiced for good reason

A chav (pronounced /ˈtʃæv/ (CHAV)) is a stereotypical rough young person in the United Kingdom. The typical "chav"—known also as a charver in Yorkshire and North East England[1]—is said to be an aggressive teenager, typically unemployed or of white working class background,[2] who repeatedly engages in anti-social behaviour,[2] such as street drinking, drug abuse and rowdiness, or other forms of juvenile delinquency.A chav (pronounced /ˈtʃæv/ (CHAV)) is a stereotypical rough young person

- -

I will freely admit I'm a bit of a snob. I have a tendency to judge people. I think this is, however, part of human nature. At least I recognise my affliction, so I can work towards overcoming it.

However, let me paint you a picture of something I witnessed recently, and perhaps you can tell me if you think my reaction was rash.

I was walking through our local park on my way to pick up the children from school/nursery on one of my shorter working days. In front of me I saw two men attempting to light what looked like a cigarette. They were pushing a baby (approx. 9 months) in a pushchair, and were also accompanied by a toddler, who must have been around 2.

One of the men was slightly overweight and dressed in a too-tight vest top and shorts. The other, probably in his early 20s, was wearing a football shirt and baggy jeans, had that strange greasy combed forward hair, several earrings and the sallow, spotty skin that instantly screamed of a diet of junk and not enough fruit and veg.

Judgement number 1: they are obviously not working, and they do not look like the kind of men who have CHOSEN to be stay at home dads.

Judgement number 2: they are smoking with small children around (although, granted, we were outside, so that could, technically, be forgiven)

As I overtook them, I realised that basically every other word was f*ck. "F*ck this, f*ck that, f*cking pot".

Oh, so it wasn't a cigarette they were trying to light.

I bet I'm not the only one wondering about the children now, am I?

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Defence Mechanism

Recently I've been feeling off-balance, unsure, permanently on the back foot.

This feeling seems to have crept up on me slowly. The thing is, I know exactly what is causing it. I know exactly what I "should" be doing to tackle it head-on. Instead, I bury my head in the sand. I ignore it and hope it goes away. I have never been good at confrontations. I hate conflict. I procrastinate and let myself get distracted. The more I do this, the worse it gets. The problem grows and takes on a more sinister nature until it seems almost insurmountable. I freeze completely. I turn in on myself.

Attack is the best form of defence.

I just need to find a weapon.

Sea Defences by ny156uk.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

The Gallery - Motherhood

This week's Gallery prompt is a tough one.


I wracked my brains. I went through pictures of myself with the children. I went through pictures of my mother with me. They were beautiful and meaningful, but didn't feel quite right. I wanted something more abstract. I dismissed the piles of washing and close-ups of crow's feet. I dismissed the drawings on the wall.

In the end, I settled for this:

Before you all start rolling your eyes and wondering what the hell a pair of wellies has to do with motherhood, let me explain.

Before I had children, the last time I possessed a pair of wellington boots was probably when I was a child myself. Motherhood makes the need for stilettos into a luxury, rather than a necessity.
They represent sacrifice.
They represent comfort.

These wellies have splashed in the best puddles and walked in the best parks.
They represent fun.

These wellies are regularly worn by my children, who love nothing more than dressing up in mummy's shoes.
They represent empathy.

They are a bit messy and worn, but definitely loved.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Me, Me, Me

A couple of kindly bloggers have set up Linky things for all those going to Cybermummy to introduce themselves to each other.

So, my name is Julie, and I blog here at the Sardine Tin. You can find me on Twitter @SardineTin

I'm 5'6", and have blonde shoulder-length hair and blue eyes. In fact, I look like this (apologies to all those of you I have annoyed with this previously).

I'm a full-time working mum to 2 little girls.

My biggest weaknesses are cheese and shoes.

I will be the one trying very hard not to be wearing jeans (only time will tell whether I will have succeeded).

How on earth do you introduce yourself to someone you've never met? What else do you want to know!?

Maybe the best way is to just ask...

In the meantime, here are my feet:

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Musical Youth (or lack thereof)

Source: Flickr

I need your help.

I fear I am living in the musical dark ages.

Not only do I not possess an iPod*, but 99% of the music I end up playing seems to pre-date 2005. Granted, since having children that are old enough to express a preference, the CBeebies CD seems to be the only thing that is an acceptable musical soundtrack to our lives. Well, that, or "Sha La La La". However, I can't help thinking that I should be branching out a little and exploring new things.

It appears to be a fact of life that having children means things you might have done"BC" fall a little short. I don't read as many books as I used to. My previous "annual" pass to the cinema would not provide much use for my annual visits. Lazy afternoons in the pub aren't quite as lazy anymore. All of that I expected.

What I didn't expect was that my music listening habit would change. After all, music is something you can have on in the background, even when you are doing other things. Music drowns out the sound of the washing machine, and calms a fraught mealtime (note: this does not apply if you are playing The Prodigy).

I have become lazy in my choices - sticking to the tried and tested. Listening to things that evoke a nostalgia for my youth.

So, tell me - what should I be listening to?

After all, I've got Spotify, and I'm not afraid to use it...
(*or similar - other personal music players are also available, although technically I now have that functionality on my phone)

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

A Walk Around My Garden

This week, I thought I would try participating in the Writing Workshop, hosted by Josie over at Sleep is for the Weak. Josie hosts this workshop every week, and I have not really found the courage or the time to participate before. However, when I saw one of the prompts this week, I had to give it a go. (It also fortuitously coincides with hubby being away on a business trip and me having time to myself of an evening to think and write in peace).

Each week, Josie gives several prompts; the idea is to choose one and write a post around it. The prompt I have chosen is:

3. Take a walk around your garden. What do you see there? Or tell us what you dream of seeing when you step out of your back door.

If you have read this blog before, you will know we are currently in the middle of project "New garage and garden makeover". My post is therefore about what I imagine the "after" to be like.


Nature is wild, nature is unruly. For the last three years we have not really attempted to tame it - it has had the upper hand in our garden since we moved in to our current house. Occasionally I look enviously at our neighbour's garden. In comparison to theirs, ours has been a veritable jungle. Their garden is clean and orderly. There have been complaints about leaves (leaves!?) and rotten pears dropping over the fence. Their garden is almost clinical. Actually, I know I do not want a garden like that. So what do I want?

Yes, I dream of order and clean lines, but I also dream of a space that is not so shackled that nature cannot flourish. A space where nature plays its part. To me, a garden is a living thing - the beauty of it is that it evolves and changes over time and with the seasons. I dream of beauty, but mainly I dream of colour - all the colours of the rainbow; deep purples and pinks, vibrant reds and oranges against a sea of green. I dream of year-round colour and interest.

I dream of a space for family. Somewhere for the children to play - to play in safety. Somewhere where the blasted swing/slide combo doesn't obscure our view of everything!

I dream of a space for me. Somewhere to sit and think, just staring into space. Somewhere to listen to the sounds of the world - our strange little suburban world, where the sound of birdsong from the nearby park mingles with the traffic from the urban streets. I can smell lavender and freshly mown grass. I can hear the buzz of the bees as they go along their merry way.

I dream of a space for friends, of finally being able to properly "entertain". Somewhere for the barbecue, a place for the table and chairs. Gentle lighting to illuminate the warm summer evenings*. Jugs of Pimm's, glasses of wine and laughter.

That will be my garden. Soon.

(*I'm an eternal optimist, 'kay?)

Monday, 7 June 2010

Earrings for babies - for or against?

Yes, I'm harping on about piercings again.

DD2 went to a lovely birthday party over the weekend - there was sunshine, bouncy castle and cake - what more could a three year-old ask for?

As I looked around at the other children, I noticed that quite a few of the girls (ranging from around 2 months to 4 years) all had their ears pierced. I was a little surprised by this. I know in some cultures, it is customary to pierce baby girl's earrings when they are still tiny, but this is not something I had seen quite so "en masse" in this country before.

I'm guessing the main reason that people do this is that they think it looks pretty. Maybe there is also a certain amount of "getting it over with" when they are young - after all, if they are going to have them done at some point, why not just do it straight away?

You may have guessed that the very fact that I am writing this post means I am not a fan of pierced ears on very young children. To me, having ears pierced has always meant a certain rite of passage - it is something I associate with growing up, and I therefore just think it looks strange. I personally also remember the discomfort associated with first having my ears pierced - not something I would necessarily wish on a baby.

Finally, to me there is something somehow wrong about a baby wearing jewellery (somehow these piercings often seem to go hand in hand with bracelets etc) - I can't even really qualify what it is, maybe it is the fact that I am just not really that used to it. If I had grown up elsewhere, maybe I wouldn't even notice (I seem to recall seeing it more often in France, for example, and I know it can be common on the Indian subcontinent.)

Besides, what are they going to rebel about, when they are older?!

Friday, 4 June 2010

Bog Roll on the Blog Roll

If you are wondering what this is all about, click here!

Two comments about this bog roll:

1) it is the wrong way round - you probably can't see from the photo, but the paper is hanging down the back, not down the front. I used to be anal (geddit!) about this, but the kids like to spin it round and round, and this way you do not get a trail of loo roll all over the floor when they do it.

2) love the simplicity of this loo roll holder, which we bought for the bathroom in our previous house. It doesn't go at all with our "faux Victorian" in our current house.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Five Year's Time Meme

I've been tagged at Lou in the "5 Years" Meme. I liked this one as it is a nice spontaneous one that I didn't have to think too hard about.

The rules are: answer the 5 questions, and pass it on to 5 other bloggers. Dead simple.

Where were you five years ago?

On maternity leave with DD1. She would still have been in the horrible nightmare of her first 8 weeks. Those first weeks when I was so tired I didn't know what to do with myself. She had terrible reflux as a baby, and would throw up pretty much most of her milk around 15 minutes after having fed. This meant we were on a nightmare cycle of perma-feeding. She wouldn't sleep properly as she was always hungry of course, and never put on enough weight. It was my most miserable time, and my health visitor was convinced I had a form of post-natal depression, although I still think it was more to do with the tiredness, as it lifted when she got stronger and started sleeping better. Strange how the overwhelming memory seems to be that tiredness, although she has brought such joy.

Where would you like to be five years from now?

Dull, I know, but probably pretty much where I am now, with a few more crow's feet! - I think I'm in a pretty happy state. In a slightly tidier and more "finished" house maybe (so many little jobs, sigh).

What is on your to-do list today?

Cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning. It's been two weeks since I let my cleaner go, and I haven't got round to finding a new one yet. The ironic thing is that I didn't think she was up to my imagined standards, yet in reality I am probably one of the messiest people I know. Still, at least I'm not paying someone to not clean properly - perfectly capable of that myself!

What five snacks do you enjoy?

Savoury over sweet any day!:

1) crisps - any variety, any flavour

2) dips - preferably with (1) above, but not fussy - will also eat them with veg, breadsticks, fingers... houmous top preference

3) Cheese... with a nice crunchy cracker

4) Nuts - roasted & salted

5) OK, under duress, my only sweet thing - Haribo sweets, yum. Childhood flavours.

What would you do if you were a billionaire?

Wow, a BILLionaire... not just a common or garden millionaire? I don't think I could even begin to comprehend what that would feel like. You hear about millionaires losing everything, or lottery winners managing to spend their entire winnings, but unless you bet it all on a horse, I would imagine a billion or two would never really run out. So, I suppose all the usual boring stuff - houses, holidays, cars for family and close friends. I would probably give a lot of it to charity - you would have to do something good with it. I dunno...bathe in champagne everyday...?

On that flight of fancy, I'd like to pass this one on to some of the blogs I have discovered recently:

Young and Younger

Monkey Mummy


Housewife Confidential

Wait Till Your Father Gets In

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

The Gallery - Still Life

This week's Gallery prompt is "Still Life".

It appears to be a fact of life (at least in my household) that you can never have enough storage space. This is especially true in the kitchen. Despite the fact that our current house is quite a lot larger than our last house, the opposite is sadly true of the kitchen, which is still not much more than the small Victorian afterthought at the back of the house. When we moved, we therefore had to cut down quite a lot in terms of things we could have in the kitchen. A new dresser in the dining room helps, but is never quite enough.

I would love to have one of those kitchens that had work surfaces that only had a toaster, a kettle and my beloved coffee machine sitting on them. However, more often than not, my work surfaces also end up doubling up as overflow storage. Currently, the count of "items that should not really be there" encompasses the following:

1 water bottle - hanging around from our day out on Bank Holiday Monday
1 bottle child's suncreen - ditto
3 tubs playdoh - these had dried out and were rather worse for wear, before husband had the bright idea of adding water to soften them up again. Turns out it IS possible to add too much water, which results in a horrible gloopy mess that then needs drying out again.
(also just visible all the plastic tupperware stuff that really needs a proper home!)


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