Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Not being a part-time mum (bee in bonnet) x

Have you missed me; it's been a while since I've blogged, which is a shame as I do love it! 

So the summer holidays as a working mum nearly finished me off.  I'm lucky I work in the public sector as flexi time comes into play and there is a general support for working mums (and dads).  

A few times over the summer I did consider ringing social services and putting them in a home!  Nah just kidding, I did mull over applying for a term time contract but have ruled this out.  It sounds a nice idea, and financially it isn't such a drop from my usual salary over a year... but I reckon it'd make for being really busy before the leave and really busy on my return.  I like work too, reckon I'd lose touch of things with a nearly seven week break, I'm a real use it or lose it girl... once after the Christmas holidays I forgot how to cut and paste!   

The real reason though is.... I don't want to spend so much time with my kids... they'd drive me mad. I'm a good mum, I keep them well stimulated, I give over a lot of my time, I sit and colour, drag them back to base on those rubbish zip wire swings, I indulge their silly made up games, and genuinely I enjoy the time we have together. BUT I would less so if I didn't work.  I'm not a bad person for wanting to work to get away from them, am I?  Staying at home with them simply doesn't appeal, especially now they're both at full-time school. 
Taking them out on the cheap, swimming and library

As a working woman (admittedly I'm not setting the world a blaze with my outstanding career or that) I think it's good for my daughter to see, that you can do it all, manage a work/life balance (although if I'm being honest the standard of housekeeping is poor).  When I say work/life  balance... I mean moaning about both in equal measures.  

To make it clear though, I work part-time (30 hours a week) but I still qualify as being a FULL-TIME mum, somebody doesn't step in and job share that role when I'm at work, I still do EVERYTHING that fills the brief of parent. 

xx Emma-Lou

Just to note, Mr C (also works full time in the building private sector) and it's a combined effort that we juggle/manage it all (in a fashion).  

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Publishing elsewhere....

Silly post... I realise some of my blogs are massive, so I'm going to start posting shorter tit-bits! 

So here I am in last weekend's Guardian Saturday magazine, seems nobody noticed at all, admittedly was only in the 'Letters' section... 

All true... except the ice-cream man didn't use the word 'sodding', in actuality it was the F word!  

xx Emma-Lou

Friday, 21 August 2015

All things Brazilian, Bem Brazil #CelebWatch

More invitations to attend posho events, Stephanie Ledigo asked me along to the relaunch of Bem Brasil in Altrincham.   I was more and more looking forward to going along to this one as every time I mentioned it to anyone they'd exclaim "I've been to the one in Manchester, the food is amazing".  It seems that every single person I know has been except me, hold on have they all been going without me, why haven't they invited me, did they have a party there and miss me out, I'm probably just being paranoid... don't my friends like me...

So I did toy with wheeling Mr. C out, it's right up his street, all that meat on skewers... but after our anniversary break to Harrogate we used up our babysitters. My pal Ruth was happy to go along with me, and we don't see enough of each other. 

Here we are in our Brazil colours 

From start to finish the whole evening was so well laid on.  Bem Brasil lends itself to bigger groups, it's such a social way of eating.  You pitch up, have some drinks at the bar, then you head to your table, where you're directed to a buffet style area where you can fill up on starters and side dishes.  Really authentic Brazilian foods, pastas, salads, rice, fishy things; very tasty and moorish! 

Once you get back to your seat, on the condition your red/green card is flipped to green, the meat skewers keep coming, and they came and they came.  Such lovely service too, once I got to grips with my tongy things, I was away trying things I wouldn't usually, and that's the thing, you can do that here, you can dismiss or fill your boots as little or as much as you want. 

As ever my pics are crap, but meat skewers a plenty!

What's funny and I do this at home a lot, I was well fed and happily sated, so flipped my card over to red.  But every time a new skewer came round, I hurriedly flipped my card over to green.  I'm glad I did too... or I'd have missed out on the sweetest pineapple I've ever had, gorgeous it was. 

I would imagine, in a big group this way of eating would out well, when the bill comes in, you could just split it evenly rather than that uncomfortable long-drawn out working out process (grim I've lost hours of my life here). 

We had live music... guessing Brazilian themed.  We had wonderful dressed for the part Brazilian greeters, gorgeous girls, who were so lovely and gave me a little tutorial on the art of selfie taking, tbh I thought I knew it all... but you have to raise it up and zoom down! 
Always impressed my live music 

Carnival attire! 

It seems though I was in the company of celebrity!  Typically I didn't notice, I did recognise faces, but assumed they must live near me in Chorlton!  I was asked by an MEN newsman if I was famous... strangely for me I as a bit coy... and said "No".  Of course I am, Emma-Lou look at you... next time I'll be ready. 

I did still make it onto the MEN website, and was awed to learn I was in the company of footballers, X Factor contestants and other such famous folk.  If you click 150 times though the gallery you'll spot me and my mate in the celeb section of the Manchester Evening News

Thanks to Bem Brasil for having me, and to Stephanie Ledigo who put on a good show.  

xx Emma-Lou 

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Eating out with Kids, who knew it could be a nice experience... TC Cafe Rouge

Mr. C abandoned us to Blackpool on a stag do' last weekend, so I was left to fend for myself against the two children (tbh I didn't fancy my chances).  So it was timely that an opportunity came about for the three of us to eat out on Saturday afternoon; we were asked by Cafe Rouge to check out their new children's menu.  

Mr. C and I quite often when we're out and about in town will head to Cafe Rouge for their lovely late afternoon lunch menu.  We've always rated the service and menu, but I'm not sure why it's never struck us to take the children.  Probably as they jump up and down for Frankie and Benny's. 

So we headed to the busy busy Trafford Centre for 2pm on a rainy Saturday afternoon. From the moment we arrived the staff made such a lovely fuss of the children, not in your face, but I suppose just treating them like people.  The menu was given to the children and the first thing to impress me was how it was presented, the items listed in French first.  I was also impressed that there was more than a couple of mains to choose from.  I always allow the kids to choose for themselves, it's one of the nice things about eating out I think.  

Spoil sport "No cheese mama"

The menu folds out into a colouring page with puzzles, both Liz and Willow enjoyed this, me I enjoyed the peace in between courses. 

Waiting nicely his fork poised for action!

Learning about all things French 

It's not often starters are laid on for kids, so it was a nice surprise they had something as I had my tuna pate. 
Fancy!  Artisan bread

If I'm honest, eating on my own with the kids on a Saturday afternoon at the Trafford Centre, I wasn't expecting to feel quite so relaxed and enjoy the meal as I did.  But I do enjoy the company of my kids, I'm lucky they do wait nicely and are well behaved. I unwound so much, I even ordered a glass of wine!  
Wine and crayola! 

The food brought out was of good standard, like care is given to the kids, rather than all grim fried fish-fingers or chicken nuggets.  Eating out is about good quality food, so why should children be catered for as a second thought, and given dreadful food with limited choice.  

The puddings were great, there are a few options that can be put together, it's nice to see waiting staff interacting with kids as they order (there's no way I could remember their specific orders).  

My dinner dates! 

Tucking in
I was impressed with Cafe Rouge, for more than the quality of food (which at £7 for starter, main, dessert and drink is great value); with a little respect given to children, a decent menu, a distraction of giving them something to look at and colour, eating out with them can be quite nice. 

I'm certain as we get about this summer, London and Devon, we'll look out Cafe Rouge, hell I might even let Mr. C tag along. 

xx Emma-Lou 

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

On Knowsley Safari with Pops and Co.

I'm getting a fair few opportunities these days from my little blog, and I'm pretty excited for most of them!  However when Knowsley Safari came calling (well emailed, they didn't knock on or that), I was really chuffed and it was timely too, because we were going anyway!  But thank you for thinking of me, appreciate that.  

We've already been this year, we went in May half-term, when we piled in the car, picked up Pops, and drove round the park, screaming with laughter (those bloody baboons), mouths open in awe of the lions, and were just simply impressed with how close you can get to the animals. 

Purring away like cats! 

#obviously the windows were wound right up

All pile in the Honda Jazzy! 
What's great about Knowsley is that once the drive is done, you can park up and head to the other attractions, which are almost a surprise as, when you're heading to the park, you're geared up and talking about the animals, because they clearly are the stars of the show.  They have some rides that aren't so expensive, Willow bless him did his usual "I don't like it" scared face as he goes round, then once it stops "Again again".  

Bless on rides he always looks worried!
As I say, at our earlier visit this year, we drove round the park in my car, and it was great; going through the baboon enclosure was brilliant, the kids loved it, those baboons they put on a good show.  Aahh, and the way the mummy monkey's carry their little babies round, it's a real insight into their world.  If I was park keeper mind, I'd insist on undies, erm it's all on display!

What's not to love about having a monkey on your windscreen! 

We went back last week, this time my wiper blades weren't in jeopardy.  This time when we arrived, we were riding high.... we only got tickets on the baboon bus!!  

Three wise monkeys... 

You've got to ooh ooh at the baboon bus stop! 
What I didn't realise getting on the bus, was we'd have a guide talking us through, we had a young girl, Harriet, very knowledgeable in a talky non-scripted way, and was as enthusiastic about the animals as we were.  We learnt a lot going round. 

A few of the many fun animal facts as learnt from Harriet: 

  • Emu's brains are smaller than their eyeballs (I always think they do look a bit thick) 
  • Halfords in Knowsley sell more wiper blades than any other branch in the UK 
  • White deer in their natural habitats would be offed, as their camouflage is a bit crap, but at Knowsley it's fine, they're not under threat so they can go about being as white as they like! 
  • Baboons, pink bottoms are of the female sex, so the male baboons can spot them, again my vote would be for knickers! 
  • Each year the dominant male deer is decided on by who has the biggest and most wonderful antlers... shallow if you ask me...
Win win for Willow, he loves buses and monkey's

There was loads we picked up, but again going through the baboon enclosure on the bus, was the highlight, they have ropes hanging down so the baboons, have a good old swing, honestly you see it all... 

Back seat buds!  

Second to the monkey's the sealion show, and to note, sealions are different to seals (they get nowty about the continued comparison). They're so beautiful and so clever, I want one for Christmas!  Again, thanks to the design of the park, you get so up close to them.

Honestly two seconds prior the sealion was waving at the window!


The show is great!
We do a few trips a year with my old Pops, he's a star attraction too, the kids love him, they appreciate his rubbish jokes (okay some of them are funny, on seeing a hippo "Watch out they don't charge at the car", "That'll be £3.50"... get it charge...). He's not really my granddad, well not biologically anyhow.  Thing with old Ray, it's quite twee, he was the gardener at my kids home, I've known him 25 years, and he's always seemed dead old, but young with it.  He was a breath of fresh air in my youth, with his many scams to get out of the actual gardening and keep warm and scavenge trifle in Mossfield's kitchen (he used to trick the young lads into the mowing).  He gave me away at my wedding, actually ruined my entrance as I remember.  The registrar said he'd knock when they were ready for us, Pops was convinced he heard the knock, made me take a few premature steps down the aisle!  Suppose at least I got to make my entrance twice!

Handsome brute, he was as nervous as me (and tried to steal my limelight)
We ran him back and he had to endure an ICT/iPad lesson by two know it all 9 year olds 
Back to Knowsley, we love it there, it's a fabulous day out for the young, old and the quite young (that's me, 35 is no age at all).

xx Emma-Lou

To note, Knowsley let us in free for the purpose of me writing a little review, but as I say we love it and would big them up everyday of the week and still pay to get in.

To further note, Help the Aged, did not sponsor my kind words about Pops, they are my own, we love him xx 

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Family Holiday dum dum dum Abroad v UK Cottage

So we've just booked our week away! 

A cottage in Devon, we've been to Devon a few times with the kids now.  Bideford has been great, but we've decided to head further south this time, well that should be we're braving a longer car journey with Willow!  So we've booked a little place called Brixham; by account "The English Riviera".  All seems very twee, the cottage of a good standard, has a telly and wifi. 

We'll have a lovely time, does it feel like a holiday if you don't get on a plane? Mmmmmm it certainly has a different feel to it, as carefrees with no children Mr. C and I had a fair few holidays and city breaks, you know jetting off (well to Bruges, Zante and Amsterdam).  We did favour the Greek islands, all very relaxing, sunny, beachy, exotic, non-british, you know abroad..... 

We have been up up and away with the children, Crete, Lanzarote and Menorca. They were very nice, a good break, but somewhat stressful.  Why is that?  Comparing and contrasting jetting off to a good old British getaway: 

1.  So, in the UK you're able to without worry and too much fuss nip to a 24 hour Tesco to collect the 152 items the baby needs (that you've not thought of).  UK Hol 1 

2.  In the same vein you can travel with your car, rather than the limited (measly) baggage allowance (come on do you know how much wedges weigh... I'm not leaving them lovelies behind). UK Hol 1
Gorgeous sun, but it's hard work keeping Willow factor 50'd up

3.  However, you actually have to drive your car to these southern UK destinations, with children in the car, in heavy traffic as you near your idyllic coastal town... HELL. Abroad Hol 1

4.   Flying with children... is also HELL ON EARTH... between the two of us on a flight back from Lanzarote, Mr. C and I decided that on return to the UK we'd be putting the baby in a home.  Honestly our laid back little lad who was seldom any trouble can only be described as HELL BOY on a four hour flight! UK Hol 1

5.  So okay, transfer from airport... twice our Liz has vommed over me, and then the cheeky mare made me sit away from her because I smelt of sick (funny that).  At least if they vom in the car, you can pull over to services and give it a good fabreeze. UK Hol 1

6.  Weather.... well on the days we plan to beach in a seaside UK town... yes it poured down, however, the kids don't mind, they still make sandcastles and paddle... me not so much, really I'd die in a bikini braving the elements in Scarborough.  Abroad Hol 1 (however bonus 10)
Would you get a free donkey in the Canary Islands?

7.  The cost of a decent meal in the UK is possibly twice that on the Greek you don't eat out every night... Abroad Hol 1

8.  Here, you don't have to miss the Bake Off while you're away... UK Hol 1

9.  Cottages anywhere in the world are cosy cosy cosy... oppose to that of a villa or an apartment, or worse still a ch√Ęteau, they just haven't got the same charm? Snuggling down evening times with kids tired out after a day at The Big Sheep, bottle of wine, good film, cuddling up, take away, BLISS  UK Hol 1

10.  Warm evenings drinking wine on a balcony, in my living memory in this country I've never not worn a cardigan sitting out in the back at night.... Abroad Hol 1

Waterproof jacket a must, but still smiling!
Summing up, for us at this time in our life, we need the home comforts of the UK, but you know what we've had some lovely times, and I'm sure one day, in about ten years we'll chance flying with Willow again....

xx Emma-Lou 

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

I love parks...

So, School holiday's coming up, I do have to work some of it, and have a holiday to South Devon booked towards the end of August. But there's still a lot of days left to fill, I haven't got pots of money to spend on days out.... I will spend up in Drayton Manor and the like I'm sure (perhaps having to re-mortgage the house...). However I am lucky that my impoverished children like a trip out that costs nil: museums, libraries, art galleries, a little ride on the bus (although bus fare is nearly as expensive as air travel in Manchester). 

Where we live in Manchester, we're lucky to have brilliant park action going.  On Instagram, I've been charting my park activities, not a single person is interested mind, but I'll share on here my park summer tour to date. 

Bad Mother, I do take beers....

Round-about and Round-about

Park Selfie (have to... sorry it's an affliction I have!)
Phwoarh handsome husband alert

Sorry I am a gobshite... I do yoga in the park (I'm just learning) 

There will be more in the series of #parklife... follow me on Instagram @emmaloucul80

xx Emma-Lou