Edinburgh Crystal

31 01 2013

Edinburgh Crystal

It is amazing to consider how priorities shift over time. As adults we value things that we never imagined would hold any significance or importance for us when we were children. I don’t know when I made the transition for its not as simple as the passing of a year, entering the world of work or getting married and settling down but a more subtle change.

For me the realisation that at some point I had “crossed” over was discovery of how much I loved my Edinburgh Crystal collection.  My set of these sinfully beautiful glasses are my pride and joy. It started when I was creating my wedding gift list and I chose a set of wine goblets and whisky glasses that I wanted. I had actually left the counter having been briefly distracted by some vases but immediately returned when a wine cooler caught my eye. I was hooked! I optimistically scanned the cooler and added the whisky decanter juts for good measure. My husband further added to my collection when he bought me the sherry glasses for Christmas one year.

It gives me great pleasure when we have people over to set the table with these stunning glasses. When the first one broke I actually cried a little.

The only grumble I had every time I reviewed my beautifully laid table, was my husband’s insistance on continuing to drink beer. Glass after beautiful glass, round the table, and then a beer can was unceremoniously plonked down on a coaster, this caused me much displeasure.

The problem was however resolved on one of his birthdays when he unwrapped his gift….

tankard…his very own tankard!

My collection is very self indulgent but I really really love it! Lets face it we all need beautiful things in our lives that make us irrationally happy.

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The future father of my children…needs to meet the following criteria

30 01 2013

Job Application

Since my last post on this topic I have started to consider my husband’s suitability as a prospective father. It occurred to me that before I can properly assess his suitability for the role I need to first consult the job description before I can consider the candidate.

I did a little research and the following qualities are often listed as desirable in would be fathers.

Good Husband:  Successful applicant:

Qualified to marriage or equivalent relationship status.

Track record of excellent relationship practice.

Ability to communicate effectively and embrace shared values – (“Ask your Mum”).

Experience of promoting “Mother-In-Law” and other external partnerships.

Sticks around: Successful candidate:

Excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to stay calm under pressure.

Commitment to ensuring longevity of family unit.

Ability to adopt a flexible approach to conflict resolution and find long term solutions to problems – (“Yes Dear”).


Provider: Successful candidate:

Track record of outstanding work ethic and continuous employment history.

Evidence of future job security and good financial management skills.

Experience of managing very, very small budgets.

Willingness to sacrifice personal material goods where possible benefit to the family unit is identified (such as red wine and/or valium for Mummy).


Protector: Successful candidate:

Ability to be pro-active and positive about challenge.

A clear understanding of and a competent use of a baseball bat after midnight when there are strange noises downstairs.

Ability to set up effective strategies for abolishing all monsters under the bed.

Understanding and experience of appropriate procedures for addressing – lost teeth, cuts and scrapes, stomach upsets and all other “ouchies”.

Role Model: Successful Candidate:

Clear and appropriate vision for ongoing development of the family home.

Hands-on approach with regards household management – (cooking, dishes, laundry etc.)

A clear understanding and a competent use of the vacuum cleaner, cooker and iron.

An understanding of a range of opportunities to lead by example: ( “Look the aeroplane is flying into Daddy’s mouth now!”)

Ability to motivate and inspire young people: (“My Dad’s better than your Dad!”)


Teacher: Successful Candidate:

Demonstrates an understanding of the patterns of children’s learning: (in the sense that THEY DON’T!)

Ability to implement a range of pedagogical strategies to promote learning (coaxing, warning, praising, begging, threatening, praying)

Knowledge of specialist areas and/or willingness to undertake developmental training as and when the need arises (Possible training needs may include: Tweenies, Sponge Bob, Chuggington, In the Night Garden etc)


Disciplinarian: Successful Candidate:

Demonstrate a sense of perspective and adopt an empathetic and patient approach to behaviour.

Commitment to promoting equal opportunities: (“You’ve let me down, you’ve let yourself down, you’ve let everyone down!”)

Understanding of current legislation and its impact on disciplining children (i.e. it’s frowned upon if you kill them)

This has given me much to consider.

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Legs 11

28 01 2013


Over the last few months I have noticed the steady increase of television and online advertisements about bingo.

They are usually fast paced and wacky with bright colours and strange characters and seem to be targeting a younger market. Growing up I knew only a handful of bingo players. They tended to be middle aged, working class women with families who made their way to a bingo hall over the weekend to catch up with friends and escape the kids for an evening of relatively inexpensive entertainment. Events were often run by churches as a way of raising funds and on occasion the bingo club would organise a day out for members to the seaside.

I remember playing Bingo on holiday one year with my family. It was part of the evening entertainment and kept my sister and I quiet for an hour while we waited for the evening show to begin. The caller (one of the reps) was charismatic and humorous and we relished the prospect of winning a prize (I had my eye on a stuffed Snoopy Dog in an aeroplane) but I would never have imagined myself playing back at home or seeking out this type of entertainment. It felt old fashioned and a bit tired.

When I was 18 my boyfriend’s Mother took me on a ‘night out’ with her bingo club. We were taken on a coach where the ladies passed round a bottle of cheap fizz before arriving at a hotel where a function room have been booked with a buffet and a band. The blue rinse brigade were nice enough but very loud. My lasting impression of the evening, the people and the pastime bears no resemblance to the picture painted by current adverts promising fun, excitement and the chance to win big.

Maybe I missed the memo informing everyone that Bingo was now “cool” or maybe I misjudged it all those years ago. After all I ‘play’ the national lottery which is a very similar but requires almost no engagement or effort from me. Bingo is more sociable as it involves some interaction with others. Money is tight so the attraction of a big win is certainly appealing. The internet has provided Bingo to reinvent itself but embracing new ways in which people interact using social media sites – this could in part explain the evolution of the game and the young and vibrant new target audience.

However the few people who have admitted to me that they have played online bingo have done so with a sense of embarrassment. They play in secret, on their laptops often with their partner in the same room but unaware of what they are doing. One girl who had won regularly when she first started playing, reluctantly admitted to blowing her petrol budget for the month as she kept telling herself the lie “Just one more game”.

But the advertisers tell us that bingo is now “cool”.

So cool that you can avoid all social interaction by playing it on your own in the privacy of your own home and no one need ever know!

Sell me a lifestyle

27 01 2013

Pick and mix

I have recently started to watch American series “How I met Your Mother” from the beginning and have been really enjoying it. One episode really struck me. Barney is trying to convince Marshall that he needs to remain with his job at Goliath National Bank. In order to persuade him he convinces Marshall that Lily needs the “Package” – house, children, and holidays.

It reminded me of a stand up routine I watched years ago. I cannot remember the comic in question but he was complaining about coffee shops. His big issue with them was that they were not simply in the business of selling you the morning Macchiato that you cannot start you day without, but that they were trying to sell you a lifestyle. It was something to do with the excessive number of options on a typical coffee shop menu and the difficult in making what used to be a simple choice. But at the time I thought buying a lifestyle was a rather wonderful idea.

Imagine having the same amount of choice about your life as you do with your morning coffee.

It’s similar to booking a package holiday. My husband and I love package holidays and have a list of criteria that we look for when we book:

All Inclusive, Adult only, on the beach, short transfer from the airport, range of restaurants on site, several swimming pools, activities throughout the day, quiet pool for relaxation, evening entertainment, good location, interesting choice of excursions, reasonable price.

We are of course flexible about some of these things; we have ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ limits. Ultimately we check our options and make the best choice based on what is available and achievable. E.g. Adult only is essential but with the right resort we are prepared to travel a little further from the airport. All inclusive is a must and if 24hour room service is included we may be convinced to pay a little bit more than we had initially budgeted.

The point is that no one ever gets exactly what they want but can examine the possibilities and pick the option most suited to their needs – somewhat like voting in the general election.

If the same approach could be taken with lifestyle options what would our hard and soft limits be? If we knew the pitfalls and sacrifices we would need to make in order to get what we REALLY want could we accept them with greater ease? What boxes would we tick and what aspects of our life would we prioritise? We could end up with some tough choices to make:

Career or relationships?

Health & long life or beauty & fame?

Family or travel?

Money & power or spiritual enlightenment?

Comfort & stability or a roaring social life?

A pick and mix approach to life would take some of the guess work out of it as we would at least know what we were giving up and what we were gaining from the outset. I think I could accept the bad times with a little more grace.

Don’t get me wrong I am fairly happy with my lot in life. I don’t yet have the feature wall in every tastefully designed room of a home of my own which is surrounded by a white picket fence but I do come home every night to a warm flat and a hot meal; my career has not made me wealthy but makes me happy for the most part; I don’t visit the opera or ballet draped in satin and dripping with jewels but I love cuddling up on the sofa and watching reruns of “The Vicar of Dibley”; I don’t have 2.4 children 4 dogs and a rabbit but I could still ai for these things in the future; I am neither famous nor noteworthy but I do make small differences in the lives of the students I teach (hopefully for the better); I am not engaged in the battle of saving the earth, curing disease or eliminating poverty but I do have many treasured family and friends.

There are of course aspects of my life I could do without. Interfering landlords inspecting and judging my home; morons at work who increase my workload to satisfy their own sense of self importance; responsibilities to family that are sometimes arduous and inconvenient; arguing with my husband over whose turn it is to do the cooking; medical condition LUPAS causing fatigue and hair loss; average looks; insufficient funds to maintain the lifestyle choices I would like; frequent self doubt and inadequate work/life balance. Which of these would I be willing to tolerate if I could see the bigger picture?

If I could have foreseen how all of my choices in life would lead me to where I am today – I may have done some things differently or maybe not. All I know is that if somehow I could have purchased my lifestyle as easily as I can a package holiday the element of choice would have made the consequences easier to deal with.

I propose that someone out their create a spreadsheet or flow chart that enables each of us to check the boxes for our greatest priorities and also identify the things we are willing to compromise over. That is one menu I would peruse with pleasure, probably over a latte and a blueberry muffin whilst daydreaming about foreign shores.

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26 01 2013


I arrived home today from my Saturday job absolutely shattered! It is always tiring but this week it was double trouble as we had twice the number of children to contend with due to marketing tactic “bring a friend day”. I was also a bit run down.

At home before the kettle had a chance to boil for my much needed caffeine fix my husband approached me looking rather sheepish and uttered the words, “I need to ask a massive favour”. My Mother-In-Law needed a lift to A&E. She was in significant pain due to an injury she had sustained two weeks ago and despite a visit to her GP last week it had got progressively worse and she wasnt able to drive.

I cannot find words to express how much this conflicted with my own plans to curl up on the sofa with the heater on full and my tivo box being put to work as I caught up on my favourite shows. This was not to be. I had a quick lunch and resigned myself to make the trip to collect and deliver her to the hospital where I would attempt to complete some marking for school as we waited in the reception area for her to be seen. I was concerned that the trip would result in nothing more than reinforcement of the advice to continue with the pain medication and rest.

She was actually seen fairly quickly and returned to us in under an hour with a set of crutches and a new diagnosis, it would appear that the injury is pretty serious and will involved a follow up visit to the fracture clinic next week.

On the drive home she expressed how grateful she was to me and thanked me over and over again.

It got me thinking about the value of giving up your time for someone. If a family member needs to go to the hospital it is of course a no brainer no matter the inconvenience, but I started to think about other situations.

In the run up to Christmas I put personalised hand written letters in each of my cards – a time consuming process but really valued by family and friends back home that I don’t see very often. My sister often enjoys bending my ear about her new part time role and asking for advice about lesson plans, a bus mans holiday for me but a I am a valuable source of information for her. A good family friend who is a widower really enjoys my phones calls particularly when he is feeling lonely around significant dates and anniversaries. Another good friend who has been ill has expressed extreme gratitude that I continue to visit, call and offer support.

I am not suggesting that I am a saint, but my free time is extremely limited and I really value it, so it is easy to neglect responsibilities that appear arduous. I would much rather have spent today in the comfort of my own home but I am glad that I got in made car and made the trip to A&E.

Take a few minutes to check in on someone who would value your time – you never know when a time might come that you will be grateful that someone took time out of their life for you.

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Chippy Tea

25 01 2013

Fish and chips

For me Friday night has always meant one thing the “chippy tea”

It was a family tradition when I was growing up. The rest of the week my Mum would cook but Friday was treat night therefore when my Dad got home from work he would make the inevitable trip to the “Golden Chip”.

These little rituals are important. Dad had a long journey to and from work every day and my sisters and I always got excited when he got home. We always loved Fridays the best and I especially loved going to the chip shop with him. As I started to get a little older I remember that he would let me go by myself to place the order and pay with a crisp £10 note and the big softie sometimes let me keep the change to put in my piggy bank – it made me feel very grown up. Sometimes we would even visit the video shop on the way home and get out a family movie.

Much as my Mum loved not having to cook she and my Dad have always been big fans of restaurants and I am sure they would have preferred to have a meal out on at the end of the long week; but for me, Fridays were just magic.

I haven’t really kept up this tradition. I moved to England when I was 19 and have remained ever since. My husband and I have our own rituals and will no doubt continue to make new ones and I hope that when we have children whatever we do will prompt the same feelings of nostalgia in them one day.

I still love the occasional visit to the fish and chip shop – though not quite so regularly. The main reason is that my absolute favourite meal is not available in England. I am talking of course of the good ole “Norn Iron” PASTIE SUPPER”.

Pastie supper

Not to be confused with a Cornish pastie but a fabulous Northern Irish delicacy. Our pasties are round and flat, about 3/4 inch thick and made with meat, potato and onion (consistency similar to stuffing) this is battered and fried. To qualify as a “pastie supper” it needs to be served with thick cut chips. Traditionally, chip shops also colour the pastie’s filling with a bright pink dye which only adds to its appeal.

I am currently stuck with my usual choice of a battered sausage which is OK but this has never had quite the same appeal to me. Every time I visit my home town, the first stop I make on my way to my parent’s house is the local chippy and it usually makes me wonder why I ever left Carrickfergus.

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