A Promise is a Promise is a Promise is a ……

All weekend my daughter had been begging me to take her to the park. No one else was interested in an outdoorsy weekend but she kept asking. Not being of sound mind at the time, I promised to take her. I’m not sure what I was thinking either because any wise parent knows you never never NEVER promise a child anything. Not EVER!  

With her license to kill me with incessant “mummy when are we going to the park?”, I finally gave in at 4.30 today when most people were leaving the park and it was getting dark.

  

 She took rollerblading lessons a couple of years ago and she’s determined to pick it up again. So once we got back from church about noon, she voluntarily packed her bag and shin pads and bounded down the stairs expectantly. Little did she know it would almost four hours later before we did anything. 

As we left my husband looked at the time and gave me that looked that said at this time? I said, “I promised”. So off to the park we went. 

   

 

Thanks to her, I got to see lovely autumnal scenes at  Jesus Green as well as privilege of being able to make my little Wonder Woman happy.

 

Advertisements

Good Times + Bad Times = Life

In the early hours of today, unfortunately, there was a stabbing on East Road in Cambridge, which resulted in the police closing the road. This was my route to my kid’s school and work. I will now be listening to traffic news before I leave home.

I left home slightly late, but with still enough time, to find our usual route closed and every other route jam packed as a result of it. Cambridge roads are like the human nervous system. One blockage, affects the whole body. Total grid-lock.

A journey that usually takes 20 minutes sometimes less, took 45 minutes today with the result that my kids were 40 minutes late for school and of course, I was late for work.

When I dropped them off, I had to take a moment to compose myself. It’s so frustrating when you do everything you possibly can and conditions beyond your control take charge. Very frustrating. So I’m sitting there asking myself why I didn’t take another route? Why didn’t I listen to traffic news? Even why didn’t I sense this? I know, right?

You see, I’m a recovering perfectionist and everything is supposed to work out perfectly if I put in the right effort. News flash to self, that’s not life!

Good Times + Bad Times = Life

My day wasn’t ruined because I had done something wrong or not done something right. It was just starting off on a bad note. That’s life. And sometimes, life just sucks. End of.

There will always be times when you just have to take a humongous breath and in my case, pray, that my day gets better. After all, in the words of Scarlett O’Hara, “tomorrow is another day”.

One Step At a Time

When I started my new job, gosh almost nine months ago now, I was full of a lot of hope. And that hope spilled into other areas of my life, such as my health. My office is on the second floor and I thought hmmmm here is a good opportunity to get some additional exercise in my day – use the stairs instead of the lift. Did I say additional? Sorry I meant some exercise.

Apart from chasing my kids about the place, I don’t get much exercise. We do walk about a bit but I couldn’t quantify it. So I want to try and get fit-ter.

I bought a skipping rope cos I don’t do gyms and I’m sure I won’t last with an exercise video. But it’s still in the packaging one week after. *covers eyes* I’ll be very honest, exercise has never been my priority. I prefer eating healthily, I have the discipline to do that however, I recognise the need to be fit particularly as I’m not getting any younger.20150125-213314.jpg

So I plan – you can see I’m still struggling with commitment – It’s just that I know that there’s no point planning to do something you haven’t thought through.

Anyway, so my general excuse for not taking the stairs is that it’ll take too long. Even though I’ve often seen my collegues who opt for the stairs as I’m waiting for the lift get into the office before me. I’ve never been convinced that it would be quicker.

Yesterday, after convincing a colleague not to take the stairs – I’m bad aren’t I? – I guess the conversation got stuck in my mind. So this morning – wait for it – I took the stairs! Wooo hoo.  And guess what? I took them again on my way home too. I decided to time myself. Guess how long it took to take three flights of stairs? Under five minutes, probably three.

How pathetic is that? So it’s the stairs from now on. Logic tells me even if I’m running late, three minutes will not change the outcome much. I know it’s nowhere near the twenty minutes a day recommended by Cambridge University researchers recently but it’s seventeen minutes away from it plus the unquantified running around I mentioned earlier.

As you can see, I had fitness on my vision board, for posterity sakes. So perhaps this will take me a little bit closer. One step at a time.
20150125-213548.jpg

If I succeed – and right now it’s a huge IF- I might adopt the principle of a little change a month. After all, after my alternative stoptober, I’m no longer addicted to coffee. So I may just become a fit-ter in 2015.20150125-213304.jpg

My First Tour de France

Yesterday was one of those days I wished I had begun to cycle in Cambridge. On a whim I decided to take the day off work to be a part of Le Tour de France. Not that I had ever watched it before but as it was passing through Cambridge for the first time, and I happen to live here, I had to experience it.

We parked our car as close as possible to our walking route and set off on our 3.5mile journey on foot and scooters.

20140707-164049.jpg

Almost immediately we saw cars with spare cycles driving past and the excitement began to set in. Le Tour de France was in Cambridge. Aaaaaaaaargh!!!!!!

20140707-164604.jpg

It was such a lovely day and going on the journey with two young children would have it’s share of challenges but I was determined. 🙂

It was a surreal journey walking on roads that were usually busy, now closed off for the tour.

    20140707-165202.jpg

And then we saw saw some cyclists. I don’t know if they were part of a cycling club or  Le Tour de France party but it was exciting all the same. 🙂

    20140707-165723.jpg

And so our journey continued, navigating through the crowds. I thought it was more sensible to avoid Parker’s Piece, where the race kicked off from, and secure a place along the route closer to Round Church or St John’s College. Considering some people were up since 7am, arriving at 11am, we were greeted by crowds.
20140707-170313.jpg

Undeterred, we snaked our way through, scooters in tow, and found a spot that gave us all a vantage point. And THEN we waited an hour and half, entertaining ourselves by cheering whenever police cars, ambulances or sponsorships cars passed through the route. There was a funny moment when an elderly gentleman passed by on a moped and the crowd cheered him through. The atmosphere was amazing! Children sitting on their dad’s shoulders because they couldn’t see the street, little ones asleep in their prams, the less able to stand brought along benches, staff from surrounding shops cheering from door frames, students leaning over windows above us – all under the gaze of a bight blue sky and hoovering helicopters of course. It was simply amazing!

20140707-171829.jpg

Just as my children were getting restless, my son had the ingenuous idea to set a timer to count down. It certainly helped to while away the time for them. They stared at it for thirty minutes believe it or not. As we got to 5 minutes to go, cameras were at the ready all over the street. And then the moment arrived. The peloton rode by!

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

    20140707-233808.jpg

I heard a volunteer make a comment just before it happened. He said most of the people here are not going to actually see the Tour de France but will be watching it through a lens and when the moment passes by they would realise they hadn’t actually watched it all. Well, he was partly right. My son was trying to capture the moment on my phone and missed it all. He burst into tears instantly. I guess he got his first lesson on being in the present but how could you not try and capture the moment? You have to. To be fair to him, as soon as the cyclists came through, the maddening crowd blocked the perfect view he had all along. I felt really bad for him though. So I’ve told him what to do the next time we are at a similar event – put the camera down.  🙂

Nonetheless, we had a pretty good time going round car-less Cambridge roads and ended up at Parkers Piece where my son could watch the rest of the race on a big screen.

20140707-174436.jpg

And then we commenced our 3.5 mile plus walk cum scoot home.

20140707-231117.jpg

I Give My Children Too Much Choice

Sometimes, in a bid not to stifle them, I just think I give my children too much choice. I wanted my son to attend a poetry writing class during the Cambridge Literary Festival. He was adamant that he already knew how to write and did not need to go. I should have insisted. Two weeks later, he tells me he would like to go. 😐

Trying to get him to understand that even if he is ‘perfect’ he can be better than perfect is the phase we are currently challenged with. Or maybe I didn’t pitch it at the right level for him. I should have said, “you know you are the best writer in the world but there is a course where others can benefit from your 7 year old wisdom. What do you think about sharing your knowledge with them?”

Of course by this time the tickets were all sold out. Sometimes (if not ALL times) mum knows best – note to self.

For all those whose children love reading, try a day trip to the Cambridge Literary Festival. It’s really fun for kids and usually during the school holidays.

Diary of a Guilty Mum

I think we all suffer from guilty mum syndrome from time to time. Actually it should be guilty parent syndrome as I think some men suffer from this ailment too although not as prevalent as with women. It might be not being able to do the school run, coming home after they are in bed or missing sports day. Sometimes it sucks being a working mum.

By now, you must have guessed I love hanging out with my children. They do my head in with their slowness to comply and doing-the-wrong-thing-at-the-wrong-time-isms but I love it all the same. Every time they are on holiday, I feel guilty that I work and can’t spend more time with them particularly when we haven’t planned a holiday. This Easter holidays, my plan is to work a three day week and spend a four day long weekend with them. I was very excited to book my time off. I just could not wait! Last week was our first run at this and we are all spent. Here’s the reason why?

Thursday 2nd of April
1400 After a lazy morning, drove to City centre
1430 Park at daddy’s college and walk to city centre
1440 Arrive at library and borrow films and books
1515 Leave the library and get some ice-cream
1535 Walk to Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA) just to look around
1555 Not enough time before the museum closed so we’ll return another day
1600 Get the car and drive to Jesus Green (local park)
1625 Arrive at park, kids get scooters and play in the playground
1730 Leave park
1800 Sort out dinner and collapse in heap

Friday 3rd of April
0800 Get ready for Cambridge Literary Festival
0915 Get on bus to City Centre
0930 Get off at Midsummer Common and walk to Bridge Street
1000 Bump into friends and pick up tickets from Cambridge Union
1015 Arrive at Trinity College for Kipper’s 25th birthday
1030 Sit up front whilst 7yo dissociates himself with 5yo and sits at the back
1100 Spy on 7yo sitting at the back joining in the fun
1130 Walk to Michaelhouse café; it’s full so walked to Waterstones Café with friends
1230 Say bye to friends after brunch and walk to Kings Parade to run a quick errand
1245 Then we walked to Kings street to visit Afternoon Tease for cake
1400 Convinced kids to go back to MAA to see the Fiji Chiefs and Governors exhibition
1500 Children filled the A-Z of anthropology worksheet; had a blast
1605 Caught the bus back home
1645 Got home, had dinner and collapsed in a greater heap

Saturday 4th of April
0800 Lazy morning and then did some chores
1245 Daddy drops us off at the Botanical Gardens and returns to essay writing – all work and no fun for daddy at the moment 😦
1255 We start Easter Trail at the Botanical Gardens and need to discover fIve flowers to discover; proved once again that women can indeed read maps. 😉
1355 After lots of messing about and general fun, we finish trail
1400 End up in Garden Café to refresh ourselves and enjoy the sunny day
1500 Make our way back to the main gate
1545 Picked up by daddy
1605 Children start to wane a little; I bet they wished I’d never taken the time off LOL
1700 Fortuitously pick up Cambridge Edition magazine and discover the Jungle Book is playing tomorrow; book tickets pronto

Sunday 5th of April
0800 Woke up late, just enough time to get ready for church
0955 Arrive in time to discover gladly that I’m not on coffee rota as I had thought
1115 Service over – Passion Sunday was amazing; more layers unpeeled about the sacrifice that Christ made, lots to think about
1130 Home and had a quick lunch and planned a couple of activities for next week
1345 Intended to set off for Cambridge Junction
1400 Eventually set off for Cambridge Junction. I will spare the child that caused this and not mention any names. Tres stressed at this point
1420 Park the car and walk quickly to the venue; faster than their aching legs could carry them as we had to pick up tickets from the box office
1425 Join the queue and by misadventure we miss probably the best seats in the room. Never mind, we got seats at the top which perhaps had a better vantage point. Children not happy with me but I manage to convince them that they were not that bad
1430 Quirky version of Jungle Book starts; not the version the kids know so causes a bit of confusion for them initially but they soon get used to it.
1525 Show ends and the narrator takes questions and invites us to find out more about how show was created; the most fascinating bit for me
1600 Bump into some other friends but there was no way we were going to hang out, tres tired
1630 Drive home and prepared dinner; we are all well and truly knackered
1700 Apologise to children for packing in too much activity into four days and promise a lighter next week. NOT!!!! 🙂

Maybe this should have been Diary of a Mad Mum. 🙂

    20140409-225415.jpg

Afternoon Tease Is King Of The Street

    20140406-221255.jpg

Ever since I heard it opened last October I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to visit Afternoon Tease. I finally got a chance to on Friday and it was well worth the wait. Owned by Jo Kruczynska, Afternoon Tease is situated on Cambridge’s foodie lane, King Street. The café boasts a fine selection of cakes (gluten free options included), quality tea and coffee as well as a great breakfast, lunch and brunch (weekends only) menu. As with any worthy independent, most of their ingredients are locally sourced and before I forget, I must mention that they are credited with introducing ‘Bacon Bap Friday’ to Cambridge.

    20140406-221313.jpg

With it’s quirky mismatched vintage crockery, complete with up-cycled sugar bowls (syrup tins), you’ll be forgiven for thinking you are in your favourite aunt’s home. You feel very much at home at Afternoon Tease. I had a raspberry sponge washed down with a Moroccan mint tea which was just what I needed after traipsing round the city centre with two children. The tea earned me a stamp on the café’s loyalty card which I’m very much looking forward to filling.

    20140406-223218.jpg

I’ve only met Jo once and we have exchanged the occasional tweet, yet she made the time to pop over to our table to have a long chat, despite it being such a busy day. I didn’t feel like I was being served by a waitress but by a friend. Even fellow customers become friends in such an an amiable setting. Sitting next to me that day was an Anglian Ruskin student who was having the most gorgeous smelling lentil and sweet potato soup. How do I know? I asked. That’s how good it smelt so I have to go back to try some of their homemade cooking.

I love their handwritten menu and sign boards which Jo employs to lure unsuspecting would-be-customers on twitter. 😉

20140406-222952.jpg

You can see they don’t take themselves too seriously but don’t let the quirkiness deceive you though, the quality of the food is fantastic. This is one café that should be in every guide on where to eat in Cambridge.

After my children scoffed their faces with generous slices of chocolate cake, my son walked up to Jo and said “your café is superb” and my daughter said “your cakes are better than my mum’s”. For someone who often says I’m the best baker in the world, that’s saying a lot.

Visit Afternoon Tease at 13 King Street, City Centre, Cambridge, CB1 1HL or find out more at www.afternoontease.co.uk

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

I love walking round the City Centre.  I love taking in the sights and appreciating nature all around me.  I love people watching; the myriad of characters that city centres attract – the busker, the market, the sky -all little moments that make a perfect day in the sun.

image

image

image

My children (Wonder Boy and Girl 🙂 ) decide to walk ahead of us.  Suddenly they hold hands.  The greatest sight of all. ♥

image

Bake a Spectacle with David Baddiel

I had totally forgotten that David Baddiel was coming to Cambridge to judge a cake competition and was happy when I stumbled across a tent hosting the event today.

In a fun and quirky way, Taank Optometrists decided to celebrate 100 years of eye-care by inviting amateur and professional bakers in Cambridge to bake a ‘spec-tacular’ glasses-themed cake for the bake-off. I guess the Great British Bake Off has set the nation off on a cake loving frenzy.

20130907-222221.jpg

The cakes were judged by owner Anjana Taank and comedian David Baddiel but not before David had us all laughing at some really good jokes.

20130907-222232.jpg

20130907-222253.jpg

20130907-222300.jpg

There were quite a few creative cakes out there. Unfortunately, due to health and safety reasons, we couldn’t taste the cakes.

20130907-222336.jpg

20130907-223417.jpg

20130907-222326.jpg

The winning cake, below, was baked by Fiona McDuff who also won the Cambridge Bake Off.

20130907-222813.jpg