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Saturday, 13 August 2011

Bark and the world will listen

We have dropped off the dog at kennels. She knew it was coming. First it was the annual trip to the vets. He gave her a thorough going over encouraged with biscuits. But all she could say was ouch that hurt. Thne there was inevitable suitcases. At that point she knows most definitely that we are going away. The question is, is she coming too? The eyes get sadder, she sticks to your leg like glue. The last walk of the day is like dead man walking. Then it's time. Time to drop her off. All the other dogs are up at their pens barking " are you here for  me? " "Take me home" and she is looking uneasy, hackles rising. Then we have to leave her. The other dogs are barking mad. Then all you can hear is our wee dog and the others all fall silent and you can still hear ours. I'd like to think she was saying " Right you lot, who's got the gin and get out the cards" 



Thursday, 11 August 2011

Surviving the longest car ride ever

As many of peeps are already at their holdiay destination with the journey a distant, but painful memory in the past and still the rturn journey to make I thought I woudl impart some of my tips. I think this is the only area where I can feel like a smug mummy having failed in just about other area quite spectatularly. However when it comes to sleeping and long journeys I confess to scoring quite highly. I was prompted to write this article after reading someithing on a similar subject by Professor Tanya Byron. She was all well and good but giving tips like being prepared for a long journey? well you handly need a Prof to tell you that. Anyway my tips which have got me from the North of England to the South of France and further on many occasions are as follows:
  1. This is an ABSOLUTE. You must never ever ever feed your child a combo of haribo and cheese strings on an empty stomach early in the mornign pre breakfast. I am afraid the excitement of the forthfcoming holiday causes a Veusious effect and be ejected at any moment. Usually on a Toll Road with no place to pull over.. You then are likely to have to travel several hundred miles with the worse in car freshner ever. I would also like to point out that I did not provide these items to my child they helped themselves rather sneakily to them. Anyway horror story over...
  2. Invest in a Magna Doodle. With this you can then play games like Monsters whenre you all take it in turns to creat a monster. One by one you pass the doodle round starting with a head shape then passing it to the next so they can add an ear or an eye or oustache. Great fun buit can give you a bit of a cricked neck with all that turning to the rear of the car. You can do it with paper but the Magna Doodle thing seems more fun.
  3. Audio books. Depending on the age of your children these can be an absolute god send or may drive you slightly crazy. Once we got onto Lemony Snicket our holiday journeys were as much as part of the fun as the holidays itself. This can gain you upto 4 hours of peace and quiet in one long stretch. It can also have you all sat at your destination waiting for the audio book to get to a suitable spot to pause as you are so gripped in the tale
  4. Snacks. The healthier the better - see point 1 as for why. Dried fruit, fruit, sandwiches. Plenty of water. The key is not to hand the out the minute you have left your drive way. In fact that can be said for all of my tips. Wait til required and not a moment before.
  5. The number plate game. Take the letters of a number plate and make up 3 words. Eg AFT Air Floating Turnip. The randomness usually causes hilarity. The older they get the ruder it becomes
  6. Travel Bingo. Make up your own list or picture depending on the ages of things you would expect to see en route. This can either be a check list of pictures depending on the ages of your travelling companions. Arm the littlies with clip boards and get them spotting. Prizes always help. You could also have this as travel treasure trail too
  7. Singing  there's nothing like a rendition of Wheels on the bus or Reach for the Stars to get them going
  8. Leave in the middle of the night - Not so good for the parents but can gain you valuable silent travelling time
  9. Top Trumps always worked well for us in the car. We have just passed on our heritage to my sister of nearly 20 odd packs.
  10. Expect to stop for wee and poos and much needed breaks.
  11. Its not a good start to the holiday if tempers are frayed so I always took it in my stride. Now they are older they just tend to sleep ( this is my second success story ) however this is not always so good if you are in need of a navigator.
Enjoy your holidays but if anyone has got any tips on how to discipline a 6'1" 17 year old or a flouncing 15 year old I would be much obliged

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

You are your car

A few months ago I wrote about the pain I was having with my car. Or was that the pain of a car. For a few weeks I was a petrol head. I could have been a guest presenter on Top Gear. I knew about mpg, torque, models, makes, the pros the cons, which cars had been on autotrader the longest, the finance deal,  the works. Just get  me the fur lined sheepskin jacket, the jingle jangle gold bracelets and I was your man, or woman.

This search had a main criteria of reliability at the top of the list and cheap to maintain. Yawn. I'm going to sleep already. My Renault Megane Dynamique - Shake that ass baby - had reached the end of its 7 year life span and spent it's 8th year with spiralling costs and electric faults a plenty. It might have been a diesel but it was turbo and a top of the range model. It had all the knobs on and in its hey day was pleasure to drive. So in desperation I ended up with my new(ish) car. The Ford Focus. It fitted my criteria and price band and here I am with a 07 plate. Petrol. That was my first mistake. Petrol, what was I thinking, this car does even less to the gallon the French gas guzzler before it. My monthly fuel bills have rocketed at a time when I need to cut back. I now drive like an old man and am thinking about getting the hat to go with my new driving style in an effort to save petrol money.Friends have associated me with my French oo la la for so long that they look surprised when the see my silver fox, actually more of a silver trilby.  Never associated you with one of those, they say. So what does your car say about really? Is it really a reflection of your personality, what is it saying about my lifestyle? I am actually beginning to panic now. My Ford is like some alter ego ready to take over my life if the real me should choose to opt out. Flat hat, apple turnover shoes, hairy legs and baggy cords. I have them all somewhere in my 12ft wardrobe

Of my car of choice. Of the car that is so much more me. Alfa Romeo Guilietta I love you. We were meant to be together. We would fit each other beautifully. Even down the temperamental bit. There is one on my street that I have been loitering around. I think the owner may have noticed the dribble on the windows. This should have been my car of choice but I ain't got the coffers to fund it. Every recent issue of Sunday Times In gear has given the Alfa the thumbs up. And now I have learnt there is a diesel version of the latest model that is getting all the good write ups. I am even considering of going for a test drive without ever a hope in owning one in the near future. I am proper pining.