The Lunatic Is Taking Over The Asylum

In my thinly-veiled attempt to take over the blogosphere, today I am omnipresent.

I am "Blogger On The Spot" over at the Babyrambles blog so hop on over there and have a read of the interview (I felt ever so important).  Emily appears to be impressed but I think she's actually agog!

When you've finished there then have a look at my Filofax review  over on the Philofaxy blog... of course, that's if Laurie hasn't smudged the text by drooling over yet another Planner.

And finally, in case you missed it, I took part in the Guest Post Day yesterday and swapped with Karin from Café Bébé whilst she posted here.  Coincidently, we both planned to write about the same subject and found out that we have a lot more in common that we originally realised.


Picture credit: Google Images

Five Years Ago - Guest Post

Hello everyone.  It's guest post day again (thank you to Erica at Little Mummy for organising us all).  I'm guesting over at Karin's blog for one day (Café Bébé) and she is posting here.  I hope you enjoy what Karin has written for you and don't let the glare from her tiara blind you.  Please feel free to comment here in reply to Karin.

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Hello and thank you for joining me at Nickie's blog!  I'm Karin, better known as Cafe Bebe.  I started blogging a year ago and haven't looked back.  My blog is about my trials, tribulations and triumphs as a first-time, stay-at-home-mum to the gorgeous Little Miss and wife to my brave hubby.  I happen to be an American Expat as well...don't hold that against me! ;)  Nickie's amazing post is over at my blog right now so do pop over and visit Cafe Bebe after reading my post.  I'm sharing with you some memories...hope you don't mind!


Five years ago there was quite a bit less of me.  Five years ago I was nearing the end of one journey and the beginning of the one I'm on now.  Five years ago seems a really long time ago!

Five years ago I was finishing my study in France and waiting for my fiance to drive from the East Midlands to collect me and start our lives together.  Living in France did wonders for my weight.  Being in love did as well.  In France they eat fresh and tasty ingredients and portions are half the size they are here.  I was also on a student income at the time so eating out and eating rubbish was not an option.  I also walked EVERYWHERE.  I had no choice really if I wanted to get anywhere.  When I stepped off the plane at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and made my way to the University in Caen, Normandy, I stepped into a way of life which I dearly miss.  Shopping day by day; buying only what you need; eating while walking; walking while talking; walking some more.

I still don't know exactly how much weight I lost but I think in the end I weighed around 130 lbs. (9 stone, 4lbs).  I weigh at least 2 stone more now.  Moving to England, being totally in love, being stuck in a house alone and having no real means of transport to get out and about didn't do much for my weight.  I was blissfully happy but also very alone during the day.  My visa restrictions meant that I couldn't work and the village in which we live is a good 30 minute walk from the next village which doesn't have much to offer.  But I did walk a bit and try to keep somewhat active.  Still, the weight crept on.  Fish & Chips didn't help.  Cooking for my then-fiance didn't help.  Not having a real purpose didn't help.

By the time our wedding day arrived I was at least a stone heavier but I thought it was sort of ok.  Oh, I miss those days!  But did I put a stop to the weight gain?  NO!  I continued on my path of self-destruction.  I had a bit of a breakthrough when, in September of 2006, I started my first teaching assistant position.  The horror of having to fit into proper clothes in sizes that I had never before worn was enough to kick me into touch.  That and careening my 1991 Mini into another car off a roundabout and being forced to take the bus to work.  I had to walk 10 minutes from our house to the bus stop, ride the bus 15 minutes into town and then walk a very brisk 20 minutes to school.  NO ONE passed me!  I repeated the same at the end of the school day and I managed to lose about 15 lbs!  Score!

Then I got pregnant in August 2007.  Oops.  Well, getting pregnant wasn't an oops at all.  Me eating for England, however, was.  I didn't pass up a thing whilst pregnant.  I indulged and enjoyed and in the end, produced a gorgeous 8lb. 3 1/2 oz. daughter.  I stopped weighing myself around my 8th month of pregnancy so I still don't know how much I weighed in the end...I don't really want to know.  After a bit of time, I did manage to lose some weight but the weight that I am today is pretty much the weight that I was nearly 2 years ago.  I have made pledges and statements that I am going to get back in shape.  I have set 2 separate targets to do so by my daughter's birthday.  It's nearly my daughter's birthday again and nothing's changed.

So, this year, for my daughter's birthday, I pledge that by 3 June, 2011, I will be fit and healthy and feel better in myself and look like the mother of a 3 year old and not a still-pregnant mother.  I'm trialing several dieting and fitness programmes and am making a commitment to check out the medical side of me to make sure there's nothing else that I can do.  I pledge that I will share my successes and failures in my regular "Mummy Tummy Begone" feature and will hopefully give you a bit of inspiration and incentive to join me along the way.  Are you ready?? Who's with me??


Evasive, subtle movements mean that I can
Sidestep the paranoia which faces me and, when I
Circumvent the emotions that manifest whilst
Avoiding that situation, it seems that I can
Pass off my insecurity as
Elusiveness... as always.

I have written this for the Writing Workshop that is  run by Josie at Sleep Is For The Weak.  This week was Workshop #25 and I have written my own take on prompt #5 - a simple word prompt: "ESCAPE".  I've tried to be clever here and written a poem (of sorts).  Each line of the poem starts with each letter of the word "ESCAPE" (an acrostic) and the first word in each line of the poem means "ESCAPE".  Maybe I've tried to be too clever and it doesn't work?  Please feedback in the comments section.
You can find all the other Workshop posts >>> here <<<

Rambling Thoughts

I have a few things whizzing through my head at the moment that aren't really big enough for a full blog post so I may as well tip them out here.  As soon as I click 'Publish Post' I'll either regret it or think of another 10 things to add.  Nod in amazement, take the piss, ask me to expand... whatever - that is what the comments box is for.

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Picture credit: Daily Mail
 I was reading this article the other day which reminded me of my inability to remember on which side the petrol cap is on my car and it offered a little tip to help you remember.  This little 'reminder' was disproved by the second half of the article but I still had a look to see if the arrow was in my car.  IT IS! And in my husbands car.  And in my colleagues car.  I don't care... I'm amazed!

I've decided to lose weight (again) but have no idea how to do this effectively whilst hunched over a computer all day at work and then no motivation at home in the evening.  Plus, I like my one-night-a-week bottle of wine therapy on a Friday.  I need a kick up the arse a.s.a.p.  And why, when I have made the decision to lose weight, on the first day, when I haven't even had the chance to make much of an effort, do I feel hungry by 10am?

I'm flagging with my current Open University course.  I love the subject matter but when it comes to writing up the assignments, I lose enthusiasm.  Maybe it's because I've been studying non-stop for almost two years now, as well as working full time and everything else that I do?  I have an idea that I will finish this course and then take a break for a few months.  I miss reading (and writing) for enjoyment.

I also have a 'story' that I want to write but I think I may get into all sorts of trouble for it.  It's not plagiarism or anything like that - just a daft theory I have based on a true-life story... it's complicated.  Maybe I should just write it and put it out there?

I think that some parents don't deserve the privilege that they are afforded.  I daren't write any more on this because I will probably end up ranting, getting myself into all sorts of trouble and upsetting lots of people.

I feel very pissed off that I don't earn enough money to ever save up.  We have a small amount of savings thanks to some savvy wheeling and dealing but that has just been spent on two carpets rather than a week's holiday.  I feel quite bitter about that even though the rational reasoning is that the carpets will last a lot longer than two weeks!

When ladies are wearing ballet pump-style shoes, why do they walk with their toes bent upwards?  Oh, and is the reason that 80's fashion is making a 'come-back' because all the moguls and gurus of today were children of the 80's and have no fresh ideas?

Picture credit: Google Images
In five years time we will have reached the "future" that was predicted in Back To The Future II.  Even though we have made advancements with the 3D films, where is my flying car and/or hoverboard please?

The Gallery : Friendship

During my high school years I had a great friendship with a girl called Vikki.  We had plenty in common - our mothers had been friends at school for a short while and then had met up again in hospital on the 3rd May 1972, each after having a baby on the same day...

Charity 3-Legged Race, 1987
Kirkham Club Day, 1987
Myself and Vikki seemed to have a penchant for dressing up and taking part in ridiculous events "for the fun of it" however, life has mysterious ways of creating new paths for us.  Vikki became pregnant at the age of 16, left home and moved into a flat in Blackpool.  We lost touch as she had different responsibilities.

I moved away from home at the age of 18 and also found a flat in Blackpool... 2 doors up from Vikki!  What a coincidence - don't you think that sometimes, things are meant to be?  I also became pregnant but moved again (to a different town) and had my baby.  There wasn't really anyone else who I had anything in common with, so I drifted away from my childhood friendships and forged new ones with new people in a new town with a new husband and a new baby.

Over the years, I kept in touch and lost touch with Vikki in equal measures.  We always seem to find each other at the time when we need each other the most.  I phoned her once and discovered that she'd recently lost her baby so made arrangements to visit.  I was at the florist in the village where I'd grown up, choosing flowers for my mum's funeral... I turned round and who should be there?  Yes, it was Vikki!

Over the past year or so, I've managed to regain contact with a number of old school friends through the wonder of Facebook, mainly due to the fact that someone posted this picture of "The Class Of '88"
Class of '88, St Bede's RC High School, Lytham, Lancashire

It was 21 years (*gulp*) since we'd left school and it was time for a reunion.  Sadly, I couldn't make it, but looking at the pictures of those that did made me realise that some friendships are for life, no matter how long you have been out of touch. 

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This blog post was submitted for the weekly Gallery over at Sticky Fingers.  This week's theme was 'Friendship' and thought about a friendship that I've had for about 25 years.

This digital art Gallery is all linked at Sticky Fingers and you can see all of this weeks entries >>> here <<<

Related Links:

Review: The Knicker Lady

Tonight, with some trepidation, I went to see what was billed as "a hilarious romp through the history of the humble knicker" at the Thwaites Empire Theatre in Blackburn.  

The stage was set with suitcases, wooden mannequins dressed in historical attire and a traditional coat hanger adorned with various hats.  The vicar's wife (Rosemary Hawthorne) entered stage left, introduced herself and immediately launched into the history of undergarments, starting 200 years ago, ending the first half at WW2 and hitting the audience with everything they personally remember in the second act.

It's a slow starter, and we did wonder if we were missing the humour in the show as there were some people were laughing raucously and we were just smiling or tittering politely.  However, as Rosemary got warmed up, you realise that she is leading you into a very unique comedic, yet historical and informative evening.

During the second half (and a slight set change), it was obvious that Rosemary was trundling into modern times where the audience recognised certain items of clothing, especially when the liberty bodice was extracted from a suitcase.  That in itself got a round of applause.

Every single one of her props (mostly knickers through the ages, but there are plenty of surprises) appears to be the genuine article and a lot of thought has gone into the presentation of each era, garment and the story behind it.

It is definitely a girlie night out (although we counted about five males in the audience) and a very feminist history lesson, based around how women present themselves, their ability to do so and the freedom that has been achieved through the ages, but is highly recommended.  The 75-minute performance is a much enjoyable evening although I actually don't think that anyone much younger than myself (I'm a 70's baby, dontcha know) would enjoy or appreciate the humour.  My jaw was aching through laughing and I was pleased to see that Ms Hawthorne conducts a 'meet and greet' (albeit with a book sale opportunity) immediately after the show.

More tea, vicar??

You can find more details about the show >>> here <<<

Postscript:  The Thwaites Empire Theatre is my local theatre, has a long and interesting history and is run entirely on donations and arts grants with all the staff working on a voluntary basis.  

Picture Credit: Vicarage Productions


When I am not here...

... then I am probably over at Mumable.

I am one of the authors of the new parenting website, Mumable.  This website is brand new and is currently building up content from a group of writers who are both dedicated to parenting and who have experience in blogging.

As the Mumable site is just finding its feet there are plenty of ways in which you can become involved.  You can apply to be an author, you can comment on the articles that are regularly published on all aspects of parenting, you can sign up for the newsletter and subscribe to updates via a multitude of social networking links.

I have written articles for Mumable about my journey from a young parent to young grandparent, our family's experience with ADHD, my worries about the marketing of adult magazines, the cost of clothing and social networking for children.

There are an abundance of other subjects covered; celebrity interviews, health, learning and development, nutrition and recipes, parenting and relationships, pregnancy and birth and there are plans to bring you podcasts and a forum in the very near future.

Come and over to Mumable and join in.

The Gallery : Self Portrait

Welcome to my world (at work).

This is my desk at work and where I spend the majority of my waking hours.  It is also what has defined me over the past few years since returning to the high-flying world of administration - I shall try and introduce you to everything.

My official job title is "Senior Administrator".  The unofficial job title is "Jack Of All Trades, Master Of None" or "NICKIE... WHY DOESN'T THIS WORK?  HELP!!"

Starting from the bottom left of the photo you have:

  • Work needing my managers attention.
  • The invoice file - part of my job is to demand money.  I try and do it without menaces.
  • Certificates that need destroying after the machine at Royal Mail chewed them up.
  • The patterned spiral notebook is the office Bible.  It holds all the costings for the current year and other relevant information.  I control this book. 
  • My BOAT. My Book Of All Things is my saviour.  I record more or less all of my work notes in here and have retained all of my BOAT's since I started this job.
  • The ever important highlighter pen.  I have a colour-coded life.  It is the only way I can manage (yes, I realise it's very anal!).
*this is getting worse, isn't it?*
  • keys (office, car, home), pens, a mini springy thing to keep me occupied when on hold on the phone for ages (like when I ring HMRC), date stamp and my desk diary (propped up).
  • Next you can see my black Filofax (personal - home and work combined - if you want to know what I'm doing or where I'm going then sneak a look inside here).
  • My Open University books - I try to cram a bit of reading in whenever I can and if that means cramming at work, then so be it (but, as you all know - that rarely happens).
  • My writing journal (yellow Filofax) - I keep this with me at all times.  I jot down ideas, keywords, snippets of conversation.  I have also sectioned it off for all the different types of writing that I am involved with at the moment.  I am very scared to lose this - it has the same meaning for me as Bob Monkhouse's journals.
  • Take a quick look at my computer screen.  Yes, I know I'm blatently advertising my own blog there but (a) my stats are down (cue: the smallest violin in the world) and (b) I'm not sure showing my work website on my blog would go down too well.  What you can't actually see is the cunningly displayed tabs on the computer screen.  They read as follows and are a good indication of my day
*insert work website here*, TypecastFacebookTwitterOpen UniversityHSBC Bank.
  • Next is a montage of pictures of my children.  It actually needs updating because the most recent picture on there isn't very recent and two more family members have materialised since then.
  • The ever-ringing phone.  'Nuff said.
  • "In" tray, "Finance" tray, "Everything Else" tray.
  • Post to be taken to the post office on my way home.
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Welcome to my world (at home)

This is my desk at home.  Here I am mum, wife, main wage earner, carer, bill payer... but I am still me.  I have recently become more comfortable with who I am, hence the venture into writing and finally studying for my degree.

So, starting again in the left hand side of the picture we have:

  • My craft box for cross-stitching.  I also knit occasionally but both have been put to one side since studying became more intense.  I miss the relaxation of cross-stitching and the sense of achievement when I've finished something.
  • My tap shoes are in the forefront of the picture for a reason.  Tap dancing is my time.  The time in the week where no-one else can encroach and demand from me other than dance-related.  I've been tap dancing again for just over two years now after a 20 year hiatus.  That's a LONG rest - I should never have given it up.
  • My black eyeliner (Smashbox black and white eyeliner) and my black mascara (Maybelline Blackest Black).  I think there is probably only a couple of days in the month where I don't wear my eyeliner and mascara.  I feel naked without it.
  • My yellow filofax (again).  You've heard about that before... yes, up there *scroll back*  I'll shut up now!
  • Another blatant plug for my blog... did I mention my stats were down?  I did?  Oh.  Well, that is my laptop that is showing my blog.  The page that it is opened on is the very vague rules for the Friday Twiz.  I think the Twiz and the 'Cancer - Your Story' are two of my best ideas, even if I do say so myself.  *takes a bow*  My laptop is currently on its last legs and I am dreading it falling to pieces.  Another screw came loose on Sunday (*insert own joke about its owner here*) and I am treating it with a lot of T.L.C. at the moment.
  • My purse.  I'm sorry - it's very unexciting... a proper "mum" purse... but out of this purse comes the money that pays for almost everything.  It is an integral part of family/home life.
  • That mug is HUGE.  It holds just over one-and-a-half cups and is brilliant for tea or hot chocolate.
Note that I have left my text books out of this photograph.  That is because I left them on my desk at work.  A rather silly move because I should have spent tonight studying intensely for an assignment that is due in next week.  Oops!

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This blog post was submitted for the weekly Gallery over at Sticky Fingers.  This week's theme was 'Self Portrait' and seeing as though I found a way not to post a picture of myself, I found this fairly easy, after all, you've all been subjected to pictures of "ME" previous and I think there's plenty of bloggers who are still in shock...

This digital art Gallery is all linked at Sticky Fingers and you can see all of this weeks entries >>> here <<<

Related Links:

More gifts just for me - Secret Post Club #4

The package was waiting for me when I got up this morning.  The postcard inside read:

Hi Nickie, Hope you enjoy the random assortment of little things.  From Charlotte.

Cancer - Your Story : It's Always There

Editors note:  This is Julia's story - the third in a series that I have called "Cancer - Your Story".  If you are interested in sharing your story please click on the link and contact me.

Related Links:
Julia at "What Will Julia Do Next" (Blog)
@JfB57 (Julia on Twitter)
Photo credit: D Sharon Pruitt - Pink Sherbert Photography

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When I was a child, the word cancer was never spoken out loud. It was referred to by ‘the C word’ or in a way reminiscent of Les Dawson mouthing ‘down there’! It was certainly something you did not admit to having or knowing anyone with.

My mother became ill with cancer in the autumn of 1975. She had discovered a lump under her arm.. My parents were of the generation that kept physical things very private. My father was not really involved with what was happening & Mother did not share the workings of her body with anyone, let alone her daughter. What I do remember though was caring for her after her operation to remove some lymph nodes under her arm However, apart from ministering to her while she was poorly, I didn’t really know what was happening.

Anyhow, I was there when the Dr paid  a visit to check on her progress. He told me that she would recover from the operation but that the cancer cells that had been found were secondary in nature. They indicated that wherever the primary cancer was(they couldn’t find it), it was probably quite advanced & that his prognosis was 5 years. My father & I agreed that she would not be told this & gradually life got back to normal. We were able to put this awful disease to the back of our minds. Looking back, I’m gobsmacked! That would never happen now. I would research & ask questions & a variety of treatments would be offered.

My mother died 5 years later, almost to the date of the Dr’s prognosis.  Funnily enough it was a thrombosis that killed her. She had been feeling poorly & needed to go into hospital about 2 months earlier. Whilst there, & because of her history, the doctors did a variety of tests but could find nothing conclusive. They felt there was a chance that the cancer had moved into her brain but were not sure. My father had died two years previously & they felt that her apparent ‘feeling poorly’ could be a reaction to all that. I remember feeling very cross with her. I had returned to teachers training & was in the middle of my final teaching practice. It felt that she was just attention seeking. She had offered to look after my son while I was at college & suddenly I had to find someone else to look after him. I even got a speeding ticket, rushing from his nursery to drop him off to the child minder for the afternoon. All in all Mother was not my most favourite person!

My brother called me to tell me he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer in 1995. Although we were not particularly close, he was my big brother & reassured me that ‘this thing’ was under control & he was ‘going to lick it’. I remember feeling worried but not unduly – this was my big brother who always knew what to do & how to succeed. Our visits over the next few years showed how the cancer was taking hold. He lost weight & with it that confidence that had always been there for me to lean on. Just like my parents, he kept me out of the loop of all the details so it was a huge shock when I got a call from my sister-in-law at the beginning of 1999 to tell me he was in hospital & that I should visit.

I’ve been lucky in that I haven’t had lots of contact with hospitals either for myself or family & friends. I had never been to the Oncology hospital & remember being very nervous as we approached this concrete 1960’s style building. There was no colour anywhere. It was one of those places that you just knew people went in but didn’t come out alive.

We found him in a private room & I was so shocked. I pretended that I was not affected in anyway. I kissed my SiL & proceeded to sit & chat to my brother. He was not conscious but that didn’t deter me. Being a teacher the habit of answering my own questions came in handy. I probably talked to him for an hour. My SiL’s brother arrived so we took our leave. I said I’d come back that evening. My parting picture of my brother was that he resembled Munch’s ‘Scream’. I knew I had to get a different picture in my head. So we came home & looked at our wedding photos. There he was, that big man, making sure my OH was going to look after me. When the call came an hour later, I was calmer. I had the right picture in my head.

The title of this post is ‘It’s Always There’ because for me the fear of cancer is, especially as I get nearer to being 61. All three of my seniors (Mother, Father, Brother) died at that age & although it was emphysema that killed Dad, this figure is there every day.

My darling OH works really hard to point out the differences between me & them: I don’t smoke / they did; they didn’t exercise/ although not a lot, I am fit; my diet is much more healthy. Since retiring I like to think that I am making more of my life. I just hope that it will continue for many years.

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Interview with a star, man!

Not here... oh no... over on the (Unofficial) Starman Fan Club blog...  

An amazing and exclusive interview (in unusual circumstances) with the one and only Andrew Stone of Starman and Pineapple Dance Studios.  Go on - nip over and have a read...


You Can Call Me Al - Junior Apprentice, Episode 1

Wow! 9 minutes in and already I want to punch at least eight of the contestants in the face I feel that I have wasted my life and I am totally inadequate at everything I do.  Here we have 16 and 17 year olds who have had their own businesses for three years and more whereas MY sixteen year old is languishing in his bedroom playing war games on the X-Box with some other no-mark from America and hasn't even got a Saturday job.  He should be revising for his GCSE's, which start next week but, let's face it, if he doesn't know it now, over-cramming isn't going to make it any better for him.

I am thinking of making him sit in the room with me - we shall both wear suits - and hope that some of their business acumen rubs off on us both but I daren't venture into the room of stiff sheets and boy smells to drag him out.  Plus, his "suit" (out of school uniform, which actually IS a suit - ironically, he attends a business college) consists of trackies, trainers and a hoodie.

Back in the boardroom, Margaret has had the most amazing facelift Karen Brady has stepped into Margaret Mountford's comfortable brogues, Nick Hewer is still sucking his teeth dramatically and Lord Alan of Sugar is down with the kids, reminding them that there are to be no Facebook parties back at the house (cue tumbleweed...).

The girls (Revolution) are going to be the winners here - all bitching, backstabbing and boobie hugs - and the boys (Instinct) are going to be too competitive and turn on each other.  Jordan (the boy in the blue tie) will end up being Prime Minister one day - mark my works.

Finally, a word to Frances (or whatever the receptionist is called now) - "Lord Sugar will see you now" doesn't quite have the same ring to it as "Srallen will see you now" - show some initiative and tell him.  I'd also love to know why you have such a tidy, empty desk.

Photo Credit:  Google Images
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