Sunday, 29 April 2012

Don't use your hosepipe - it will be washed away in the flood

What is going on?  Water companies have put most of the country on a hosepipe ban but, instead of beautiful sunny weather, we are given flood warnings!  What?  Surely something is seriously wrong.  How can we be in drought and yet have floods?

Well, according to the water companies, this torrential rain we have had for the past week is doing nothing because the ground is so dry the water is simply running off and not soaking in.  One muppet on the news the other day said we would need this amount of rain solidly for 3 months to make a difference.  Did you know, they are even talking about putting stand pipes up in a few months time if people don't start saving water?  Can you imaging carrying buckets and containers of water from a tap in the road into your house?  For me, as a mother of 3 girls and a full time mummy who seems to almost permanently have the washing machine and cooker on, this is a nightmare.  It also makes me feel like I'm living in a 3rd world country if I have to carry my water around.  What is the UK coming to?

We are an island - surrounded by water - albeit, salty.  Surely we could invest in a desalanisation plant?  No more droughts ever then.

Or what about the piping they have laid in Yorkshire where they can pump water from an area that has plenty to one that has none?

How about the water companies actually FIXING THE LEAKS!!!  How many million gallons?  30?  Per day!?  Come on....you're asking me to turn off the tap when my children brush their teeth but you're letting enough water to sustain everyone using a hosepipe for an hour a day just leak away?  Physician heal thyself!!  My husband considered putting some copper piping slightly underground all around our garden and making holes in it so that the water 'leaked' out.  That way we're not really watering the garden are we. We are simply not able to fix the 'leaks' just like our water companies are doing. What do you think? ;-)

The worst of this, to me, is that it seems a purely money making exercise again.  My neighbour called the water company to see if they could use their small, timed, watering system for the hanging baskets.  Guess what they were told?  "If you are on a water meter, yes, if not, no".  So, Veolia Water, it's about saving water is it?  Or is it more about the profits you are after?  I suspect the latter based upon your reply.

I don't mind a drought, not even a hosepipe ban (I have plenty of watering cans) if only I could sit out in the garden in glorious sunshine. However, it's hard to swallow keeping water consumption to a minimum when it's pouring down outside and roads are flooded.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

When your app has a mind of it's own


We were off geocaching the other day, doing a little more of a lovely walk around a golf course.  I have to say though, for this bit of the ring, the golf course was nowhere to be seen!

There are times that I am really glad that we check where to park first and so we're near where we left off last time and can carry on a bit of a walk.  This is necessary due to little legs walking with us and little voice shouting in her pushchair! :)

I've noticed that the problem with some geocaching phone apps is that they do weird stuff.  I'm not sure if a 'proper' GPS would do the same.  Anyone enlighten me?

Anyway, we headed off to our first cache of the day. I thought it was right next to where we parked (from the map I viewed) but it seemed it was about 1km up a very steep hill in the opposite direction to where we were going.  Oh dear. Never mind, we'll go straight on to the next one in the ring.

A crossroads appeared fairly quickly.  Well, I say a crossroads, more of a crossing of woodland paths.  However, the GPS app was having trouble settling under the trees and, more annoyingly, the pointer was anything but. I had no idea which way we were going as we'd not done enough 'mileage' to work out which way we were heading on the map :(  I had to go for a punt and we walked straight on. Fortunately this was the right way.

Now, why can't a geocaching app have a simple arrow pointer telling me where I'm going? I know that c:geo goes but unfortunately it's proving fairly useless to me at the moment so I am using the geocaching.com app but a circle heading towards another circle says nothing.  Is it just me?

We managed to find 4 caches and decided to head back to the car.  Little legs were getting tired (and mine!).

As we were heading back, I decided to try and see if that first cache was as far away as it seemed as according to the map, it was right by where we had parked.  Of course, the GPS had settled at this point and it was indeed about 200m from the car, albeit up a 12% hill!  Not an easy task with a 3-wheel pushchair I can tell you.  I let hubby negotiate that one ;-)

Another lovely few hours out and the forecast rain and thunder stayed away until we got home.

I think it may yet take us one or two more visits to finish the ring off but what a nice way to spend a few hours :)

Thursday, 19 April 2012

eBay Family Frenzy

I recently decided to root around on eBay and try and find a few new clothes for myself and the girls. I've never normally bothered as I tend to like to try things on. Despite knowing my own size, it seems that shops vary so much. However, this time, there were some great bargains to be had so I thought I'd go for it and it's worked out well.

I needed some new tops. To be honest, when you're paying about £2-3 each (plus P&P), you can afford to take a chance. Everything I've received, so far, has been lovely. Only one was too small and that was no fault of the seller. I'll probably re-advertise that one and see if I get my money back ;-)

I bought my 3 year old some dressing up outfits. Have you seen the price of those in the shops? It shocked me to think they were around £15-20 each. Again, eBay came up trumps and despite losing a good few of them because I was only prepared to bit up to £6 for a 2nd hand item (surprised at how much some went for - you could have bought new for less!) I ended up with 2 lovely new outfits for her which she was delighted with.

1 year old needed a summer coat. I've got a lovely, warm winter coat for her (although looking at the weather, she may need it for a while to come) but nothing for a cooler summer night. I was about to head into town to try and find one when I thought about eBay. £3 later I have a beautiful Next coat that will last her the summer.

If you recall my post on my one time of buying shoes on eBay, you'll understand my reluctance to try again but heck, I sell clothes on it all the time so why shouldn't I buy a few bits :)

Monday, 16 April 2012

It's not just about bouncing

My 3 year old had her first trampolining lesson today and it was a great success. I had terrible trouble finding lessons for under 5's around the area. Our local leisure centre do them but, as is the case with most leisure centre activities, they are booked up solid and over subscribed so you go on a waiting list. We are still on it! However, I found a purpose built trampolining centre about 8 miles away and they had spaces so off we went. Of course they are a bit more expensive than the leisure centre but you can be as cheap as you like when you can't take anyone else on can't you.

Like many parents, we've had a trampoline in the garden for a year or two now and she loves to go on it. Yes, I know you're supposed to be 5 or 6 according to the instructions and safety blurb but, let's face it, how many children are? Come on, we did all sorts of stuff when we were under 5 that H&S would condone nowadays and we are alright :)

Anyway, I thought it would be nice for her to learn to trampoline properly. After all, it's not just about jumping high and bouncing, but learning to do different moves and, more importantly, how to land/stop/fall.

The trampolines are over a kind of 'pit' in a specially built hall, so the children can just walk onto them. Super. The class wasn't big (5 children) and 3 trampolines so they had plenty of goes.

I guess safety is on her mind too as she said "Mummy, why don't they have nets around their trampolines?". I tried my best to explain to a rather puzzled face - especially when on one of the free-standing trampolines, three young men started their practice and boy, I thought they were going to touch the roof!

I was surprised at how much they did in the lesson. All kinds of jumps and tucks, sitting down on bottom and getting back up again, going from hands and knees to tummy and standing and falling backwards, keeping your head tucked in. Fabulous stuff.

To say she loved every minute of it was an understatement. She fell asleep in the back of the car on the way home. Now that's a successful sport.

Yes, my tummy turned over when one of the young men misjudged his flip and landed right on the edge of the trampoline with quite a bang. I began to think a net would have been a good idea at that point ;-)

Monday, 9 April 2012

Fussy eating (or not eating should I say)

My 3 year old has become a fussy eater. Now I'm sure this is hereditary as I was probably the most fussy child on the planet. This is not an exaggeration. I am sure I should be in the Guinness Book of Records somewhere but I'm not sure they had the "I won't eat it unless I know I'm going to like it" category.

She's always been a bit of a fuss pot about food but it's now coming to a real head. I think we've hit the 'fussy eater' stage big time.

It used to be mainly potato she didn't like - not in any format (believe me, I tried them all!). Now things she used to eat like peas, carrots, fish, etc are being mostly ignored. I say 'mostly' as she will push them around a bit and eat a few fork fulls but that's about it.

A Sunday roast (no we don't have them every week) for her now means one or two carrot pieces, a few peas picked up individually with a fork, some chicken (she doesn't like any other meat really) and a Yorkshire pud. Anything else is pushed around the plate. Yes, I put a bit of everything on regardless.

She loves pasta, sauce (tomato with chilli and garlic) and cheese.

She can eat a cheese sandwich every single lunchtime.

She loves omlette and beans.

She eats bolognese.

She does not eat much veg and won't touch cereal for breakfast. I used to think that didn't matter as she loved fruit. I considered this even better mentally patting myself on the back with a slightly smug "my daughter only eats fruit for breakfast" feeling. That lasted about a year and now I can't get a grape into her! She will eat a bite of toast before it mysteriously sticks to the roof of her mouth and she will then gag and cry about it, thus meaning she doesn't want it.

The strange thing is that the things she doesn't want to eat seem to change almost daily. So, can you imagine what it's like to try and cook a meal?

She's taken to trying to eat with her fingers again although she uses an adult knife and fork very well indeed and gets praise for doing so. I put this down to her seeing her 1 year old sister using her fingers and whilst I asked her not to do it and tried to encourage her by saying she sets the example, it often falls on partially-deaf ears (she will use the cutlery for a while, fingers for a while and then back to cutlery). She no longer wears a bib (the photo is a bit old now) as she says she doesn't want to. Fine, I can wash her clothes but she's not too messy anymore anyway.

We eat together as a family when we can, but when we can't (due to hubby's job), I always sit with the girls when they eat. We also sit at the table for mealtimes. I've occasionally dragged their chairs into the lounge for them to eat (not possible now as 3 year old no longer wants any kind of booster seat) as a treat but it makes no difference to what or how much she eats.

We have tried the "if you don't eat your dinner, you won't be having any pudding" approach but that gets us nowhere but me worrying she hasn't had enough. Yes, I have at times put my foot down with a firm hand but it's relatively pointless.

I get annoyed that I have cooked a nice meal and it's totally unappreciated. Hubby is less tolerant than me and I find myself feeling in some conflict with him. He pushes her to eat a bit more of this or some more of those but I'm beginning to feel like mealtime is a mini war zone.

I have taken the approach of "if you don't want it, leave it" and say nothing more but it does make me cross when she still just pushes things around and picks at this and that.

She does not get lots of sweets and snacks (of course she gets treats though, I'm not totally mean every day. Well, not much LOL). She doesn't have fizzy drinks or lots of juices. She has water with her dinner but I'm even wondering if that's filling her up to much as she does guzzle it down.

I worry that she is not getting all the vitamins and minerals she needs but she's happy, healthy and never stops running around until bedtime.

Is this just a phase I have to go through? If so, can someone tell me the date upon which it will end whilst I still have some hair!?

Easter Egg Buzz

Grandparents came over on Saturday and bought each of the girls a helium balloon for Easter as well as an egg. Suffice to say the egg didn't get a look in as helium balloons appear to now be a firm favourite of both girls. The screams, squeals and giggles of both of them playing with their balloons was fab. Better than a Lottery win! :)

Another joy of having children comes with an Easter egg hunt. I'm not sure who had more fun - us hiding them or the girls finding them!

We put the Easter eggs out around the house the night before as we knew the girls woke early and we'd never manage to be up before them *yawn*. Downstairs they came and 3 year old immediately went about hunting the eggs whilst 1 year old 'guarded' the ones that were found. It would have been nice to hide some outside but the weather didn't agree with that plan.

Suffice to say, far too much chocolate was consumed yesterday but, on a positive note, it gave 3 year old enough energy in the afternoon to walk for 2 1/2 hours around part of a golf course geocaching - so I can't really complain ;-)

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

We are taking the pram where?

This morning we decided, whilst the sun was shining still, that we would head off and find a few caches not too far away. We all fancied some fresh air so it was unanimous. Ok, so baby didn't have a vote but she doesn't count (yet!).

We went off down yet another road we've never visited and parked up. Everyone out and off we went down the footpath, baby in 3 wheel pram, 3 year old on scooter. Teen ended up carrying the scooter round nearly all of the circuit, bless her.

We got to the first cache very quickly. 3 year old was delighted to see the pigs in the field and we spotted the likely place (great hint) but nothing was there. Lots of places the cache could have been but nothing. Oh dear, simple cache and a DNF. Never mind, we'll just carry on the walk to retrieve the last 2 around this area.

Over our first stile and across a field and we reach a lovely little stream going under a bridge. Cache in hand courtesy of teen and not a bridge troll to be seen :) We carried on our way. Our next obstacle was a very narrow, metal kissing gate. The people who design these things really don't think about a pushchair now do they :( Our 'travel system' pushchair comes apart quite easily so with 1 year old sitting in the pram part, I hoisted her out and through the gate and sat her on the footpath the other side. Then teen and I lifted the frame over the gate and I put it back together the other side. Nothing will stop us!

We were approached by a farmer in his truck as we came through the gate. He was in the field across from us and thought, initially, it was just some kids wandering around as he'd not spotted me. They've been having trouble with people cutting the barbed wire he said. Shame some people cannot respect others property.

Off we continued. I suddenly realised we seemed to be moving away from the cache but as a road was coming up and the cache was 'round the bend' as it were, we decided to carry on and walk along the road so 3 year old could scoot. When we reached the road, we realised where we were and had to turn back. The road had no pavement at all along it and it was a pretty long stretch frequented by lorries and trucks. Not the place to take two little ones.

So, back past the farmer (who probably wondered what we were up to at this point) and pram over the stile in pieces again, back over the bridge, over the field and around the next stile and we turned left this time. Now we were heading in the correct direction!

We wandered across the fields and saw the footpath went left across a lovely wooden bridge over the stream again. As I was taking the pushchair to pieces (with a now sleeping 1 year old), teen noticed something. She pointed out to me the problem the other side of the bridge. No, not the high concrete steps down from it but the 'bog' and 'sleepers' (see top left picture) that we had to cross. Ah....now what?

Never to be deterred, a plan formulated. I would carry sleeping 1 year old in her pram section across said bog and leave her the other side. Teen crossed immediately with the bag and scooter to stay with sleepy head whilst I kept an eye on her and on 3 year old on my side. I then collapsed the pram frame and carried that across whilst holding 3 year old's hand. The other side I assembled sleepy head and pram frame, hung the bag back on it and off we went!

We carried on through some woodland which started to make me feel a bit nervous as I now had no idea really where I was but was heading for a road on the map that would finally join up with the road we were parked on. I picked up a big branch - just in case of bear attack or the like ;-)

We were just getting to the first piece of road (more like a track) when said farmer came past in his truck again and looked at us somewhat surprised. I'm sure he would be if he knew the area as it's not 'pushchair friendly' to say the least!

We found the last geocache quite quickly and then went back to terra-firma, aka tarmac. 3 year old was delighted at this as she could now, finally, scoot after walking alonge for about 1.5 hours.

We headed back to the car and home after quite the little adventure :)

Monday, 2 April 2012

Incy Wincy Tree

It has been another lovely sunny day, despite what the weather lady tried to tell us this morning. Thankfully, I am now fully trained in weather forecasting. I open the curtains and look out of the window. Easy ;-)

We had a nice time in the garden this morning then after lunch decided we wanted to get out of the house. I know the garden isn't *in* the house but that's not the point.

My teenage daughter has a new Cachkinz (a type of travel bug) and wanted to take it to a few caches to get some mileage under its belt. 3 year old is scooter mad so we popped that in the boot of the car and off we went having had a quick glance at the map for some local caches.

We managed to park up in an area that I'm not entirely sure was designed for car parking but as I'd seen other people there before, I guessed I wasn't about to get clamped! Off we went, 1 year old in pram shouting for puffs (her normal repertoire when we're out), teen asking how far to the next cache and 3 year old scooting along beside us. Brilliant. We, as a family, love to be out in the fresh air and geocaching is our favourite pastime. Shame hubby had to work.

We were doing a bit more of a new ring that isn't too far from us and it took us on a nice little circuit. Just long enough for little scooter legs to enjoy without getting tired. My shoulders aren't as strong as daddys ;-)

Having found some interesting containers (we let the 3 year old 'find' them) we hopped back into the car then realised there was another cache just around the corner so we drove there, parked up and found that one too. Our last one of the day. Ah, hang on, just before leaving, let's check if there are any more in the area for next time. Yep, one about 400m away. Oh, come on, all out of the car again, pushchair put together, helmet on scooter girl and off we headed for one last cache (really, this was the last, last one!)

Big sis lifted little sis up so she could find the cache. A smashing container which, fortunately, she isn't scared of (see picture)! It was then that we realised we had not brought the pen with us. Teen had suggested that as we were just whizzing down to our final cache, I should leave my bag in the car. Yep, the bag with the pen in it! DOH! Fortunately my phone has a camera so we decided to photograph the 3 year old with the cache to prove we were there and send that to the cache owner. I was about to take the picture when teen said "don't get the location in as someone will work it out". Good point. One non-specific location photograph later, we're on our way back to the car. It then occurs to me that, of course, I'm not posting this with the log so it didn't matter if I'd got the whole route in the picture. Talk about cache-brained :)

A nice couple of hours wandering had passed and we headed home for dinner with plans to do some more of the ring later this week.