Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Where wild things go on

My 11-year old daughter has just discovered the photo-sharing app, Instagram. It is her first foray into the digital world. At the moment she has a private account with a nickname, and only a handful of followers, all of whom she knows. Mostly she posts pictures of the dog ("another picture of my lovely doggy") or the cat so hopefully we are safe for now.


Photo grab of Instagram profile
Instagram: a gate into the world of social media
Which is a good thing, particularly as she behaves online just as she does in real life, in a characteristically candid way. 

"I am not sure I like that very much. Sorry )-:" she wrote under her dad's picture of some autumn leaves the other day. Under another picture, she wrote: "Completely gorgeous. Never seen anything so beautiful and colourful, Mister Fantastic Photographer!"

The point is that she has yet to moderate her behaviour between a personal and public sphere - and why should she? She is only a child with no experience of these things. The problem is that anyone reading her comments wouldn't be able to see them in that context. To most people online she is just another user.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Electric dreams

My family and I took a ride into the future last weekend. We borrowed an electric car and tried out life in the green lane. I say the future because at some point we plan to upgrade to an electric car, once we are convinced the technology is robust enough for our needs. I have always been fascinated by those silent Prius hybrids cruising around the roads like great white sharks on the prowl, but have never before encountered an electric purebred.


BMW i3 electric car
The 'fun' BMW i3 on electric charge
The car we tested was a BMW i3, the 2014 winner of What Car? 'best green' car award. Described as providing "the most fun you'll have in an electric car", this zippy little automobile was definitely responsive and very easy to drive (in its optimum 'comfort' mode). Parking it in the busy Tesco car park was more sweaty than fun, but that was mainly down to my anxiety over driving a car that wasn't mine to prang.

When I first got behind the wheel, I shrieked to the nice BMW employee who dropped it off, "My goodness it's just like driving a go-kart!" It glided forward on a soundless wave of electrical power. Looking back, I am not sure all those BMW engineers (who have no doubt ploughed countless man hours into designing the i3) would have welcomed my analysis. It got the kids excited though. My 11-year old daughter, having honed her karting skills at Odds Farm, was desperate to have a go. 

Monday, 1 December 2014

Faith, hope and a little clarity

It came out of the blue. One of those little blips that throws you out for a day or so. All of a sudden I just didn't want to get out of bed. Life felt bleak and terribly dull. What was the point of it all?

It's strange how mood patterns work. One day I was fine - focused and busy - and the next, totally de-motivated. Most likely I was sunk by a hormonal glitch, lack of sleep or a drop in adrenalin. Whatever the physiological reason for it, I felt generally disenchanted with life (and myself).
Winter dog walk
Sunshine to banish winter blues

I'm fine now - cured no doubt by a nice Sunday lunch out, a burst of winter sunshine and some more sleep. It doesn't take much. I am no Byronic hero. Nevertheless, it made me realise how important it is to feel optimistic. Strip out that magic ingredient 'hope' and suddenly life feels too real, too harsh. 

Monday, 17 November 2014

Domestic democracy

Hermaphrodite Mum
Three kids and a single mum

Stay-at-Home Dad and I had our first tiff the other day. It was over the washing-up of all things. I was so angry with him, I wanted him to leave the house and never come back. When I'm like that it's usually because I'm in the wrong, although that only becomes apparent a few hours later. In the heat of the battle, I am Joan of Arc, hounded and persecuted for my moral stance. 

A work of modern art from Nice Museum of Modern Art
Girls: more loafing and less chores
Our disagreement grew out of Saturday night suppers. Recently I've been inviting Stay-at-Home Dad (SHD) over with his twin girls for pizza and X Factor. It's part of our soft campaign to get the kids used to the idea that we're an 'item'. It was all going swimmingly until SHD happened to comment that Middle Child wasn't pulling his weight in the washing-up department. Was this because he was a boy, he wondered out loud. Was I over-indulging him? 

Monday, 10 November 2014

A Christmas jaunt

Why hello Christmas! It may only be November, but the juggernaut of spending sprees is upon us. In recent years I have felt distinctly Bah! Humbug! about the whole affair. From my humble mummy perspective, it has been a bit too much work and not enough play. This year, however, I am trying to be less moany and more #MontyThePenguin in my attitude towards the yuletide. In that vein, I actually ventured up to Kensington Olympia last week with my friend, Emma, to visit the Spirit of Christmas fair. 


Spirit of Christmas fair
Tasting the delights of Xmas with my friend Emma
My goodness, what an adventure it was! Olympia may be in central London, but reaching the North Pole might have been simpler. One train and two bus journeys later, we finally arrived, along with a herd of disgruntled fair-goers. It was only thanks to the intervention of a hearty bus driver ("Everyone for Olympia, get off now!") that we managed to get there at all. 

Monday, 3 November 2014

The end of thin fascism?

There's nothing like wearing a bikini for a week to make you feel a little body-conscious. My family spent half term in a hotel in Gran Canaria, surrounded by a palm trees and two glistening swimming-pools. Each day, after we had plundered the buffet breakfast, we lay like beached whales on our sun loungers. By day three, my husband and I were feeling so bloated we volunteered for poolside yoga, followed by some thrashing about in the water (aka aqua aerobics). 


A dish of paella
Holiday excess: one too many helpings...
When we got home, after a week of gluttony, I was too afraid to get on the scales. On the plane home, however, I was comforted to read an article ('I was born with curves') in The Sunday Times about an American, plus-size model called Ashley Graham. This young woman, apparently a British size 18, is a ravishing beauty who turns heads in restaurants and brings traffic to a halt outside. She also loves pizza and dips her crusts in Nutella. "My butt rolls, it's really out there," she told the journalist, Eleanor Mills