Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Stay at home dads

On Sky3 last night there was a programme about mothers who leave their kids. My tot has been sick since last Thursday and today I just blew up as I couldn't take caring for her anymore. That may sound heartless but I've had her in the bed with me every night and she's a hair pulling/kicking in the back kind of kid. She's not doing it on purpose I know but hey, a mum can only take so much. I'm not about to leave (though a long weekend pretending to be single again wouldn't go a miss).
Part of the show was about the rising number of men left holding the kids when the mums disappear. Which makes me think about Stay at Home Dads (SAHD). I very rarely see Dads in Plumstead's stay and play sessions. I do see them in the park or at Toddler World. I don't know if they are SAHDs or just looking after the kids for day. For some I feel I need a sign saying "I'm just being friendly, don't want to get into your pants or anything" before approaching them. Luckily there are those sane ones who you can chat to but mostly its quite superficial as we don't know eachother well enough yet.

I'm curious, do SAHD's get depressed like the stay at home mums (SAHM)? Do they find that a year on, the experience was not what they expected. I thought I would have time to learn some new cool recipes, go to the gym, start book clubs, exercise my brain in ways I couldn't at work etc. Fat chance. Time is devoted to the tot and spare money is rare so some activities are unaffordable.
Do men join sites like Netmums.co.uk, Mothers35plus.co.uk, babycentre.co.uk, raisingkids.co.uk,mumsnet etc? Some of these sites have pages for men specifically but I think most of the articles are targeted to women.

I found a site for dads but it seems an American site: www.athomedad.org. There are UK sites such as dadathome.co.uk.
The following blog has an list of links: www.stayathomedad.blogspot.com

It's sad but at work I got used to having yearly assessments of my progress. It showed me where I had done well, helped vocalise my plans for the future and highlighted any areas of improvement or training needed. You don't get that as a SAHP (Stay at home parent), apart from the few visits from the health visitor in the first few months. I guess once tot starts school, I'll know how well she is doing and therefore, how well I'm doing at this most important of job. In the meantime, the fact that, apart from the odd shouting session, most days are filled with fun and she's not injured, means I must be doing OK. Much as I may fantasise, I have no plans on leaving just yet.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Reciprocal care

The world has gone mad. I woke this morning to find out it was not legal to trust a friend to look after my child and for me to look after theirs. Now, I don't currently do this. I don't have friends in this area yet that I trust. I live far from any relatives and my best friend who I have known for over 30 years. So it means we don't go out and it means I cannot afford to go to work (that's a lie, I could but I don't want to spend all day working just to pay a childminder when I can do that job myself). My neighbour who I have known for a few years has often offered to look after my little one. I have been in her home many times and I trust her. I'm thinking of taking her up on her offer.
I think the current ofsted stance against two POLICEWOMEN is ridiculous (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8278189.stm). These two women know eachother very well. Trust eachother. And can only afford to go back to work if they look after eachother's kids.

I've signed the petition to get the law changed. If you feel the same, the please sign it too:

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Walk along the river

Another walk along the South Bank today. I was intrigued by all the cranes that were present in the London skyline. Also wanted to take a picture of the Thames Clipper that I have yet to go on.

Outside the National Theatre there was some sort of band playing - the same song over and over (I fought the law but the law won). And a hula hoop festival. The little girls were very impressive in keeping their hoops going.

At the back of Festival Hall, there is a strange sculpture made of cardboard tubes. I liked the lines it made.

As I walked to Waterloo East station I was somewhat saddened by the lack of seediness that gave this area character. There used to be a bookstall/comic seller under the bridge just outside the station. All this has gone now and though the area attracts more tourists, I felt a bit sad for that lost part of London life.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

El Gato Guerro: Damn more poops

The cats have been at it again so the sonic device and curry plants aren't working. I don't want to use chili powder anymore as I have now read it hurts the cats pretty badly.
Next options are mothballs, but they are toxic.
Or to keep the ground wet which may be good for keeping cats off but may kill the plants.
On the plus side, the garden is looking better now it's planted with flowers. I'm going to get some more so that there are fewer patches of earth for the damned beasties to dig up.


Walking along the riverfront from Royal Arsenal to Woolwich Leisure centre you pass the Royal Arsenal gardens. Among the wildflowers, skater park and debris from last nights drunks, you can see many pieces of sculpture. The one above caught my eye as it looks like a shivalingum that you find in Hindu temples. I must admit, I don't know what it is about. Next time I'm along there, I'll take a better look and try to photograph the other sculptures dotted about.
Coming up upon art in life is interesting. Don't get me wrong, I like walking around galleries - for instance, the Barbara Hepworth works displayed in St Ives museum in her name. The pieces seen together form stories and show the progression of the artist. But seeing sculpture in public makes it less about the artist and more about the environment. You can also touch it which galleries tend to frown upon.
"Assembley" by Peter Burke, displayed at the Thames Clipper pier at Royal Arsenal reminds me of a Dr Who scene. My tot doesn't like the faceless statues. They are quite creepy. I'm mildly surprised that they haven't been vandalised. There are signs saying cameras watch the area but we couldn't spot any (note: that's not an invitation to vandalise). I'm always curious why the statues are all men but maybe Gormley-like, they are based on the artist. Luckily, the place is never busy, so they aren't in the way. But I'd love to see them placed somewhere like Oxford Circus to see how people would interact with them.
I was excited to read about Anish Kapoor's exhibition at the Royal Academy http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibitions/anish-kapoor/about/. Somehow, I don't think they will let me take the pushchair around the galleries so I need to find someone to look after the tot who would want to climb all over the sculptures and mix the colours or get her fingerprints on the shiny surfaces that he often uses.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Eltham Palace

We missed going to this at the Open House weekend when the grounds were free and entrance to the house was half price. However, went today and spent quite a few hours in the house and lovely gardens. It's not possible to take pictures in the house so these are exterior shots only. I got a bit fed up with the image upload tools here so only a few photos.

Monday, 21 September 2009

To Hilly

Hilly, I can't post comments on your e-shooters hill site but think that Poosation is a marvellous word. Hope it makes it into the Oxford English dictionary one day :D

Friday, 18 September 2009

Your Plumstead

Just came across this site. No idea who runs it or how accurate it is but there is a pretty map on it.
A lot of the links don't work so if you know who runs it, speak up and I can email them a list :)

Coffee grounds

Some cafes are giving away coffee grounds to use as garden fertilizer.
I did a search of the internet and as usual found conflicting information. Some say coffee grounds are useless, same say they are great for acid loving plants. We bought a weigela which has really wilted in a week so I'll plant that with the coffee grounds we got yesterday at lunch to see if they can bring the plant back to life.
And an added bonus is that grounds are meant to be a cat deterrent!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

A visit to the South Bank / NFT / RFH

My mother in law, tot and myself went into town today to have lunch with the hubby and walk around the South Bank which is one of my favourite parts of London.
We took the train into Cannon Street where some lovely railway men helped us take the push chair into a lift, even pressed the button for us and when we got out told us the trolley friendly way to go. So nice, so unexpected.
Walking down Thames Path, we passed a cafe where to my great surprise I saw an old colleague who I last saw 8 years ago. The remarkable thing is he lives in Edinburgh and was just down for the day on business. What are the odds? So we had a quick chat before having to rush off to meet hubby under the one wibbly wobbly Millennium bridge.
We had a nice lunch in the Salvation Army cafe just by the bridge where the food is not cordon bleu but edible and in a great open space. This is the first time I've gone in to meet hubby for lunch and it was such a enjoyable experience that I think I'll do it again.
He then had to go back to the office and we three girls continued our tour of the South Bank. Crossed the bridge, went "Oooo" at the view, took pictures then ambled into the Tate Modern. I was a bit cross at the all the young folk waiting at the lifts and kept muttering rather loudly that the lazy sods should take the stairs. I love the turbine hall and with great excitement took my MIL there. Only it's empty as there is an exhibition under construction. As we didn't fancy taking tot around the galleries we made our way to my ultimate fave place - the NFT passing Gabriel's Wharft and the National Theatre which is currently decked out in lurid orange.

I love the NFT. That isn't an statement in the style of Americans who seem to lurve everything but a truly expressed emotion for a wonderful place which is dear to my heart and holds many memories for me. I enjoy seeing films here as there are no adverts, no food and no rude buggers talking the whole way through. It means more to me as it's the first place I saw hubby face to face. We met on the Internet and after a few months agreed to meet there as we both enjoy film. That night we watched the terrifying, disturbing performance by Robert Mitchum in "The Night of the Hunter".
Currently, there is season of Japanese Oshima films on but I've either missed "In the Realm of the Senses" or they aren't showing it. It's a very sexually explicit film and changed the way I viewed eggs forever. I have never managed to watch it to the end as it horrified me. Japanese films have a real power to horrify - if you don't believe me just watch Audition or the original Ring. I would prefer to wait for Kamui, a ninja story, which is part of the London Film Festival - World Cinema offering.
I was a bit sad the benches at the front of the cafe have been replaced by tables. Those benches encouraged conversation with strangers and I have spent many a pleasant time there sipping beer whilst watching people browse the book stalls that are always in front. Today, I decided to forgive Louis de Bernieres for 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' and bought his 'A Partisan's Daughter'.

We then proceeded to Royal Festival Hall and the South Bank Centre. The central bar at the Centre seems to be a haven for mothers as I saw many there including one breastfeeding (yippee for public breastfeeding). We met another baby called Charlie...so many Charlies in the world.
The day ended with a stroll across Hungerford Bridge into Charing Cross and a train journey/bus ride back to the Common. My tot's squealed in delight the whole day whenever she spotted a train and was in 7th heaven on the journeys both to and from old London town.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Style over substance

Sorry about the continually changing style of this blog. I'm trying out new looks with the limited options you get in Blogger. I've also switched to the the more advanced editor but it deals with fonts differently and there is no spell check. Also preview doesn't seem to show any formatting. Pants really. The only advantage so far is that image placement is easier.
I'll stop soon I promise. But it is addictive...like constantly picking at a scab.

El Gato Guerro

I typed my husband's name into a lucha libre name generator just now and it came up as El Gato Guerro - the Cat War which is hilarious as I'm currently fighting a cat war. They are poo-ing in my garden and I want the beasties gone, gone, GONE.
This I have discovered, is not a unique problem. Even one of our own SE bloggers posted about the issue a few years back and hilariously they were advised to use Lion Poo. http://plumssel.blogspot.com/2007/09/roys-stores.html
Now I'm not sure about that as it seems to be replacing small moggy poo with large ferocious beastie poo. So we are trying other methods.
When we moved back to our house last year we noticed cats were using planters filled with pebbles as their own personal litter trays. I chucked those out and we got a sonic device from B&Q. That works well as long as the batteries are working. So yay a batlle won and we have a clean patio.
The war has moved to a new frontier...the front garden. As I want to replant this, we have been simple digging the soil (that's what it's called according to Gardener's World). But the soil is in poor shape and we have to replenish it with manure. That doesn't arrive until Friday so until then, I have to keep the cats off.
Hubby got an even more fang dangle sonic repellent and ...it's not working. So I bought curry plants from Thompsons.
This morning there was more poo. So I have placed the curry plants strategically and have also doused the whole area in chilli powder. Had to wear some glasses as the wind blew the powder straight into my eyes and stung like hell. I feel a bit guilty that the cats are going to be hurt but it's only temporary and all's fair in love and war. I do wonder if curry restaurants have a beastie problem as they must always smell of curry. I also wonder if it is worth just dumping left overs from curry dinners in the garden...bit nasty for us to watch it decompose though.

If this doesn't work we still have the following options:
  • lion poo
  • moth balls
  • citrus peel
  • citronella
  • citrus plant (can you see a pattern forming)
  • clear plastic bottles half filled with water
  • cat repellent chemicals from diy store
  • water pistol
  • gun ....No not me, I'm a pacifist.
This is all distracting me from creating a beautiful garden. Someone at a toddler group asked if this latest fad was due to my recent miscarriage. Maybe. And my war on cats is also a war on toxoplasmosis...it may not have caused the miscarriage, but it may have. Stupid me for weeding without gloves.
On a more positive note, we had a wasp nest in our roof and a man in a suit descended on our property to spray some wasp eliminating stuff in the roof. Hopefully that beatie problem will now be resolved.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Back to me...

It's very odd to feel sad when a celebrity dies - unless I guess you knew them personally.
This morning was a double shocker; first Patrick Swayze then a few hours later, Keith Floyd.
Now with PS I was sad. But with KF I was gutted.
I loved to watch Floyd cook even though most of it was meat or fish and therefore not really something I could do. But he was pure entertainment before all the wanker arrogant TV chefs of today were on the box . And he reminded me a lot of my dad's style of cooking. When my mum died, dad went mad and started taking over the kitchen. Much to my annoyance as I was also trying to do the same thing. Our styles of cooking were different. I chop as I go, quite happily cooking in chaos with a sink full of dishes. Dad on the other hand would first clean the kitchen, then get his glass of booze, his rolled up ciggie and set off on the great and LONG adventure of cooking that night's dinner. Before the actual cooking began, he would have everything chopped and ready in little dishes, Floyd-like. I would be told to get out of the way and would only get him coming into the main room to tell me a story or summat whilst he set something to simmer, blanch or burn (frequently, though he denied it). Dinner would take ages and often we didn't sit down to eat for at least 2 hours.
We both enjoyed watching Floyd. The man had style even if he was a rude sod. He would embrace the cooking and life etc. I wanted to go where he went, drink what he drank and be that enthusiastic about eating (something I think denied to veggies as we often say No to food). And I loved that. So sad to see that vitality gone.
Dad's coming over this weekend and I think we will do a tribute lunch to Floyd. But there is no way the old man is kicking me out of the kitchen this time and NO booze for him as he's driving. And we will eat before I age another year.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Food Hygiene

One way of finding restaurants in your local area is to look at the council's food safety site.The added benefits are that the list tells you whether a place has got a food safety certificate and also shows me how many restaurants are in Greenwich. I was also curious to see there is a local Vegetarian Cakes place so I'll be looking into that a bit more.
Being a paranoid mummy, I tend to look up take aways before ordering food and am happy to say that my latest favourite, Ruchita, has got a certificate. Now if I could only get them to make my sag paneer spicy but not burn-your-head-off hot then life would be dandy.
I couldn't see any information on Namaste Cafe which is near Plumstead station...has anyone been there?

I don't know how to attach a pdf to a posting so here is the link where you can download it if you desire.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Royal Arsenal Gun Pit Cafe

I've been to this place twice now and my reactions are mixed.
On the positive side,
1) What a great location and set up. There are comfy sofas to sit on or if you prefer, tables inside or out.
2) The atmosphere is relaxed and the staff seem friendly enough.
3) The lady behind the counter told me they were very busy at lunch and during the evenings

On the negative side,
1) On both visits my coffee was lukewarm when served. And in today's outing my ciabatta wasn't toasted very well.
2) I had ordered soup for my toddler and was frankly shocked at the near boiling temperature at which it was served. Very, very irresponsible especially as they only have metal spoons. Luckily I had my trusted plastic toddlers' spoon so after much blowing got her to eat some. She rejected it. And the reason...the soup was simply boiled carrots. No flavour whatsoever.
3) There was absolutely no tie up to the Firepower museum. I would have loved to see a wartime themed esp considering it's the 70th anniversary year WW2.

I'm probably being a bit critical. I should have also just said something to the staff but despite its' negative points, I'm sure I'll go there again as there are such limited options around here.

Future reviews will include Couture and the new cafe on Lakedale road.

Resident's permit to dump waste

Was just on the Greenwich gov site and noticed that you now need a Waste Permit Sticker to take household waste at the Recycling centre. When did this change happen? What a pain as I have to get rid of some rubble from my current gardening project.

Oh and my gardening project may end pretty sharpish as I realised I know pooh all about gardening and it is very very hard on the back and the knees!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Community Calendar

I've been looking into the options here. My list of requirements were:
  1. Have a calendar that can show events in and around Plumstead
  2. Enable anyone else to also add and edit events. The calendar is owned by the community so anyone can add.
  3. Give a few bods admin control to delete unsavoury events.
  4. Enable visitors to narrow searches for the type of event they are interested in
  5. Have day, week and month views.
  6. Enable businesses to advertise and for reviews of these businesses to be added (thinking restaurants or attractions here)
  7. Enable visitors to turn off adverts
  8. Be web based so accessible irrespective of computer platform. Include ability for mobile access.

Events include:
  • one off events
  • regular events (like playgroups, toddler world)
  • club events (rugby club events etc)

Each event would have - date, time, repeat, contact information, map and directions, prices.

In the states,there is TownSync.com but it's in beta stage so I can't assess how useful it is.
I also thought the Council or local newspapers would have some sort of events' calendar but I found nothing of significant use so far.

I'll keep on looking but if anyone has any ideas, let me know.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Birthday beach party!

It was tot's birthday yesterday so as a treat we planned to take her to Minnis Bay beach. I checked the weather on the day - sunny intervals so off we went. Unfortunately, I didn't look at the windspeed which would have warned me that we would be blown about quite a bit. At the beach, the tide was in so we went for lunch in the restaurant expecting normal beach fare. What a delightful lunch. The chef really is to be complimented. Once sated, we ventured out and decided to go the beach children's playground. Eventually we took a very windblown walk on the promenade before deciding to go the Whitstable. There we had a lovely walk around the harbour and once the wind died down a bit of fun on the beach. It's so lovely to do this mid week when there are very few people about. I really liked the feel of both places and I'm sure we will go back one day. Next time I'll remember to check the wind speed!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

What is in a name?

In our first General Studies lesson when I was in 6th form (a long long time ago) our teachers told us that we would need to learn to fill forms, and that we would be filling forms for all our lives. How very right they were; bureaucracy is rife in the UK.
I've been very slowly been changing my bank and all other stuff to my married name. Sometimes I wish I hadn't bothered as it's such a hassle. Forms forms forms.
The mother of all forms is the passport one. And to top it all, I had to change photos too. Now, in the olden days, there used to be photobooths everywhere. But I guess with the advent of camera phones and home printing, the need for booths has diminished. But I needed one to take my passport photo. So I went on the hunt, ending up trotting all over Eltham high street. After some time, I found a booth in WH Smith.
So photos done, form filled in, covering letter written for bits that didn't fit in the form. I happily trotted to the Slade post office hoping to get it all checked and sent today as the price goes up tomorrow.
Then the nightmare begins. Apparently, I have to get my photos countersigned. However, this was not clear when I was filling in the form, nor on the IPS website in the section for name change. The arse behind the post office counter started getting funny with me. If it was so clear, he could have easily pointed it out to me. But no, he had to spend ages reading the guidelines, then had to get out an over sized operation manual and really he couldn't find a clear indication that a name change required countersigned photos. In final desperation, he looked at my existing passport and then at my new photos and declared my appearance had changed. Utter and complete tosh. And this point, I want to grab his tiny little brain head and shove it into the floor. Everytime I have to do anything more complicated then buying stamps from this place, there are complications.
I left the post office in a bad mood. I must admit that I am not surprised post offices are dying out. The customer service totally sucks. I will eventually get my photos signed once I find an official to do it, however, I am sure many are put off by the need to put their own passport number on the form. The sad thing is that the bureaucrats can justify all this madness.