Chugga Chugga Choo Choo..

I wish all our trains were this happy.

In recent weeks I have joined our daily commuters in the not-so-adventurous journey into London. I get the high speed train which takes me into St Pancras in shockingly 25 minutes, which is a very expensive alternative to avoiding a 1.5 hour journey on the slower Charing Cross train, to only get the tube to the other side of London. I must say, commuting has become a rather pleasant and, dare I say it, relaxing experience on the high speed. You rarely find a group of loud obnoxious teenagers hogging up all the seats and drunks are pretty much unheard of. I guess they would rather spend the extra dosh on a few more tins and get the peasant wagon.

Not to be classist or defamatory to people who get the Charing Cross train, I mean, my husband gets it for gods sake. Realistically though, the drunks and yobs are not willing to pay more for the same vandalism they can cause on a ‘cheaper’ train. I use the term ‘cheap’ lightly, because we all know how ridiculously expensive both trains have become. The Charing Cross train takes an hour to reach its destination, and with an annual season ticket, it will set you back £3,380. The St Pancras International high speed train is a comfortable 25 minutes, for an even pricier £4,368 with an annual season ticket. Isn’t it ironic that the longer you are on the train for, the less you pay; for an extra £988 you can pay to not be on the train.

And yet we factor in the losses because our time is so precious to us, we would rather pay to retain few more minutes of our lives. The train has become a rich man’s toy, leaving the rest of us in deficit. You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

Advertisements

Where’s Dee-Da Gone?

*I am not sure if I have mentioned in previous posts, but DS’ name for Daddy is Dee Da (obviously Daddy reversed!).

I am swarmed with mixed feelings when DS asks where either of us are – His cuteness makes me smile; I become very proud of my little boy and his ability to string three words together at 21 months, but then I become overwhelmed with guilt and sorrow. When I call my mother from work and DS speaks on the phone, he repeatedly says ‘Mummy gone, Dee Da* gone‘ and it is incredibly heartbreaking. I wish he could understand, see the bigger picture, imagine how much better off we will be in a few years. But I know he only lives in the present and when something sad happens it is the end of the world for him.

Wonton Soup.

I finally invested in a food processor (my previous handheld mixer died) and inevitably this was going to result in another food post. I decided to make Wonton Soup without following a structured recipe, but instructions from my Grandma which is near enough the same thing.

Ingredients:

For the dumplings:

20 king prawns

200g pork mince (half of the small box)

1 clove of garlic

2 spring onions

1 tsp of cornflower

1/2 tbsp of oyster sauce

pinch of salt

ground pepper

1 pack of wonton sheets (usually 30 sheets in a pack)

egg white

For the soup:

Water (use your judgment for how much you need)

Dash of soy sauce

1/2 vegetable stock cube

What’s next?

Start off by preparing the prawns – You will need to de-shell them and remove the intestines (as shown in my previous post). Once this is done, add the prawns, pork mince, spring onions, chopped garlic, cornflower, oyster sauce, salt and ground pepper into the food processor. You can add other ingredients too, so do not feel restricted.

Blend the mixture until it turns into one clump.

Place small scoops of the mixture in the centre of the wonton sheets. Dampen the corners of the sheets with water and bring two of the corners together to a point. Then bring the other two corners together and wrap them around. There are various techniques to folding wonton sheets, the key thing is to make sure the filling is fully concealed and the sheet is wrapped tightly.

Thirty wonton dumplings is an excessive amount for me to eat, so I have stored them in boxes of ten in the freezer.

To cook the dumplings, all you need to do is place them into boiling water for approximately five minutes; they should float to the top once they are done. To make the soup, simply boil the water, add the soy sauce and vegetable stock and simmer for a few minutes. Pour into a bowl and wonton dumplings once they are cooked, sprinkle some spring onions as a garnish and there you have your wonton soup!

A Mother’s Guilt.

In a world full of unpredictability, constraints and constant setbacks, decisions have to be made in order for progression. Our decision to both be in full-time employment has not come easy. Weighing up the pros and cons, the now seems almost insignificant amidst the wider picture.

Yet the majority of the time we must live in the present; residing in the past permits life to drift on by and living in the future is merely a daydream. I find it easier to deal with particular circumstances when I set these categories. Sometimes you lose perspective in whichever time frame you find yourself in and it helps to outline goals, reasons, justifications.

I paint the wider picture with images of a big house, fast cars, private schooling and exotic holidays. The prospect of a duel income and security seems more inviting than living on a budget and just getting by until DS goes to a state school. With the long shot in mind, I push aside my anxieties of DS being at nursery three days a week and not having any meals with him Monday to Thursday. Of course these are my fears, not his. He will be absolutely fine playing with the other kids and an endless mountain of toys.

I am playing full-time Mummy this month whilst I await my turn to go to work. DH has already been summoned to the daily grind, rushing in the morning to catch the 6:47AM train and not returning until 7:30PM. He sees DS briefly in the morning in between getting dressed and eating breakfast, and for five minutes in the evening just to say hello. Sometimes DS is so worn out from the day, he is already in bed by the time DH returns. That is when the sadness sets in and work becomes a forlorn attempt to escape. The tough work, long days and late nights hardly feels worth while when an overwhelming sense of the present hits you in the face.

It is easy for individuals without children to disregard this angst we feel, as something we can push aside or just get over. Missing your children is not the same as missing your other half; I dislike not seeing DH, but it is heart breaking knowing my baby is growing up in our absence. Maybe I am being overdramatic, as we will see him at weekends and I will be home on Fridays. It is also inevitable he will go to school full-time and spend the majority of each day without us anyway.

Whatever the reasoning, no matter how many times you justify it to yourself, it does not get easier. We become each others priorities and the weekends are golden. We owe this to the eighteen year old DS going to university and, god forbid, the thirty-nine and forty-one year old parents we will inevitably become.

Let me give the world to you.

No Such Luck.

Luck (Noun)

Success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions: it was just luck that the first kick went in, this charm was supposed to bring good luck.

• Chance considered as a force that causes good or bad things to happen: Luck was with me.

• Something regarded as bringing about or portending good or bad things: I don’t like Friday – it’s bad luck.

Luck assumes that something has taken place out of your control, as if it was always going to happen or never at all. It accepts an external force that oversees us all has predetermined our fate; your choices and the efforts you put into something has no effect on what will inevitably be.

What actually happens is all our hard work is deduced to one word and the presumption that ‘luck’ decided it, and thus it happened. We forget when we use phrases like ‘you’re so lucky’ and ‘good luck’, that we are ultimately degrading the situation; as if the person was incapable of succeeding in their own right and have to rely on a greater force. People say we are lucky for our achievements, but in actuality it takes away from the hardship and continuous perseverance to succeed in our goals. In reality, the most fortunate ones in life are people who work hard for it. You do not become accomplished, progressive or successful based on luck, unless you went to Eaton.

DH bought me a new charm for my Pandora bracelet when I got my new job - not because I was lucky, but because it's pretty.

Dressed to the Nines.

I am thoroughly enjoying the summer holidays with the family, however I am also incredibly excited about my new job in September. As I will be commuting, I will inevitably arrive home a little past the usual dinner time of 6. This means preparing dinners well in advance, as well as clothes, DS’ day bag etc. I am quite an organised as it is, but this will take some real planning, maybe even charts, to ensure DS remains eating as healthily as he does now. I plan to pre-cook a large batch of healthy dinners and freeze them in tiny containers so he gets his continuous dose of goodness. DH and I are fine to eat a little later, but DS runs like clockwork and must eat at the same time daily.

I thrive on organisation and keeping everything in order, although the one part of this new advancement on advances strategy I dread is the ironing. And choosing tomorrow’s outfit. Those two things coupled together causes a wave of lethargy and my brain to melt. When I finally do pull myself together and am dressed to go, the lethargy dissipates, only to be replaced with a burst of panic when DS runs towards me with mucky hands. I think I will need to invest in a boiler suit or an old lady’s long-sleeved night dress in XXL to cover every part of my outfit; I am certainly not prepared to choose and iron another outfit in the same day.

In the next few weeks leading up to my new job, I plan to rejig DS’ entire routine and sign him up to a new nursery. Currently he feeds and sleeps at times which suited us as students; he has had the same routine since birth. He will still eat at the same times as he does now, however what was a snack time will become lunch, and so each meal time is pushed back in accordance to the nursery. I doubt DS will be too fussed with this new routine, as long as he is fed and can nap he remains a happy boy.

This is proving to be quite an exciting time for all of us. I am raring to go as we are catapulted into a new era of our lives. Dressed to the nines, the Bradley’s are ready for the kill.

Summer, Summer, Sun Come Shine..

Enough of CBeebies..

One of the hardest things about the summer holidays is finding cost-effective fun for the kids, and of course, yourself. As promised in my previous post, here are reviews of my top five outings in the past, in no particular order. Obviously check the prices on their individual websites before you get going, please do not take my every word as fact!

Bodiam Castle

Bodiam Castle

Where is it? Bodiam, near Robertsbridge, East Sussex, TN32 5UA.

What is it? An extravagant castle with a moat that was built in 1385. The inside has been destroyed and is now filled with grass, however the stairs and the outskirts of the castle remains. It is situated in a quaint village with a stream running through the picturesque greenery; perfect for a picnic or a walk with the dogs.

Cheap? Adults £6.80, Child £3.40. It might work out a lot cheaper to purchase the annual membership if you plan on making a few trips to National Trust. Also, between 1st – 26th August, up to two children can get in free per paying adult/member. Don’t forget coins for parking if you are not a member.

Facilities? The only toilets available are in the car park, which is also home to the tea room and gift shop. Literally just outside the entrance of car park there is also the Castle Inn pub.

Anything else? This is one of the  most amazing castles I have ever seen. For those who want a little bit more, they also hold activities for kids; when we visited, they were firing bows and arrows at various targets for £2.50. I would also warn you, if you are talking small children, make sure you have some reins or a pram. I almost had an anxiety attack over DS attempting to run down the steep hills and charging towards the moat!

Shorne Country Park

Shorne Woods Country Park – DS trying to play with the older kids.

Where is it? Brewers Road, Gravesend, Kent, DA12 3HX.

What is it? An extensive park with beautiful gardens and wildlife. There is also a play area for children of all ages – an enclosed park for the younger kids and a large adventure play area for the big kids. DS loved the swings, but he preferred running around screaming with a football. They also have various events and activities for children to join in.

Cheap? Free entry, however there are parking charges (Monday – Friday £2.00, weekends and bank holidays £2.50).

Facilities? The eco-friendly visitor centre also has a cafe.

Anything else? There isn’t much shading, remember to bring a hat and sun-cream!

Farming World

Where is it? Nash Court, Canterbury Road, Faversham, Kent, ME13 9HY.

What is it? A farm with all sorts of animals, varying from pigs, sheep, horses, birds, llamas, goats and cows.There are also several children’s play areas for all ages and tractor rides for the bigger kids. There are lots of events you can go to, sometimes if you dress the kids in a particular theme then it is free entry.

Cheap? Adults £6, Children (3-15) £5. I took DS when he was 16 months and he loved it. He didn’t fully understand but it was a fun way to show him the drawings in the books exist in real life.

Facilities? They have a cafe that is pretty busy. We bought a pack lunch and sat in one of their many benches scattered around the farm.

Anything else? Bring the antibacterial gel and lots of wipes.

Camber Sands

Where is it? It is situated in Rye, East Sussex. A useful postcode for the Sat Nav would be TN31 7RB.

What is it? It is a lovely sandy beach with dunes. I have a vague memory of a fun trip to Camber Sands when I was a child, and on that small dose of nostalgia, we set out on our adventure.

Cheap? Of course, no entry fee! You may want to research the local car parks or whether there is residential road without parking restrictions you could sneakily leave your car at. On our outing, the local farm were charging £5 all day for cars to park in their open area, which was much cheaper than the standard car parks run by the council.

Facilities? There should be toilet facilities, and there are usually small shops and cafes around. We had fish and chips for lunch, however it is very busy during lunch time (obviously!) so expect to wait a while. DS and I were wondering whether Daddy had done a runner as he had been gone an hour and a half to get lunch! You may want to go prepared with a pack lunch or take down the post code for the nearest Tesco.

Anything else? Lots of sun cream, nappies, wipes, water, cheap sandals, a hat and an all-in-one swim suit. We found a UV sun tent helpful, as we could store our belongings and it gave us a shaded area. Do not wheel the pram over the sand, as it will probably break. We overpacked for DS and completely forgot about ourselves, which left DH looking like a lobster… For a more in-depth beach survival guide, this is a good website.

Scotney Castle

Scotney Castle

Where is it? Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN3 8JN.

What is it? Scotney Castle is made up of two houses, separated by a large hill and a beautiful garden. It has a lovely picturesque moat and the ruins of an old castle.

Cheap? Garden: Adults £8.10, Child £4.95, Family £22.50. House and garden: Adults £12.60, Child £6.30, Family £31.50. Similarly to Bodiam Castle (above), it would be cheaper to purchase the annual membership from the National Trust. You can also gain free entry for kids between 1st – 26th August, up to two children can get in free per paying adult/member.

Facilities? There is a tea room, baby changing facilities and a gift shop.

Anything else? Standard sun-cream and maybe bright clothing; there is a lot to explore and you might find your little one playing hide and seek. Be wary of the moat, there is not a barrier and is very dangerous for young children.

So I guess all you need to do now is get dressed, get the kids dressed, pack their bags, pack yours, make the sandwiches, load up the car, grab the camera and the Sat Nav, lock the door… Have I forgotten something?!