Sunday, 29 August 2010


A new word for me "Astroturfing"!
While looking at fireplaces online, I noticed that the reviews on both the Argos and Homebase sites were the same, word for word.
Mr Plummy Mummy who is a techie, explained this is called Astroturfing. It's where an organisation is created specifically to represent something and make it more popular. In California, they are are trying to outlaw this.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not naiive, I knew this happened.I've come across rather enthusiastic reviews on Argos before that smack of a corporate drone sitting there ensuring the common customer doesn't besmirch the good name of their company's products. And in China, internet spin doctors are used to shape bad news into good.
Leaves me with a bit of a dilemma as I like online shopping but don't know how to ensure reviews are genuine. Does astroturfing happen on Amazon? Or Play?
If you come across something suspicious, email the companies (i.e. Argos/Homebase) to inform them. Also the law is on your side in the form of the
The EU's Directive on Unfair Business-to-Consumer Commercial Practices.
Or just take the reviews with a pinch of salt.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

111 will not be the one

It's the middle of the night, you don't feel right and there are no doctors about. You kinda know that you don't need A&E but you want someone to tell you that.
Your kid is hot, crying and has a rash. Should you worry?
You are puking your guts out, green bile and empty air that your stomach wants to heave out. But you need to breastfeed. Is it safe?
You have had your tonsils out, your throat hurts like nothing you have ever experienced but on release from hospital you were told to expect this. You want to make sure.
These are all scenarios that we have faced in the last few years. Ones that didn't have us running off to A&E or to the local Grabadoc (which is a great service). However, we wanted someone to tell us it was OK or to give us some advise. Someone with years of training and experience. A doctor preferably or a nurse.
That 's what you get when you ring NHS Direct. Some sensible advice and sometimes that means a trip to the hospital, other times it eases the mind and lets you know that contrary to how you feel, you are not actually dying.
That's why we won't use the 111 service where nurses will be replaced by "trained adviser" who are probably reading out of a manual. I want to know that the person I'm speaking to is a professional with some proper training. If I wanted a manual, I'd just reach for a book or google.
I wonder how many people will start going to A&E depts or their doctors when this service rolls out.

Friday, 27 August 2010


I wish I had a better camera at times. This is the closest the deer have ever come to the fence when we have visited Greenwich Park. It was a day full of great sites and all for free...we truly are lucky to live so close to Greenwich. We visited the Painted Hall and Chaplain at the Old Royal Naval College. It truly is awesome - I want to go back some time to listen to the tourguides as it would be good to know the history (tots aren't interested in history).
Then a quick cuppa on mezzanine floor of the National Maritime Museum which is a great space. Followed by hours in the Park. I did laugh when we went to see the clocks at the Observatory that you are now forced to go via the gift shop even if you just want to see the clock outside.
If you don't mind a walk, you can park for free on parts of Vanburgh Road which is just near the entrance to the Flower Garden. There were quite a few kids in the park feeding squirrels that the beasties were a bit too full for the nuts we were offering - or perhaps they don't like roasted nuts?

Great day made greater by the lack of crowds (yippee for lack of sun and bank holiday!)

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Changing faces of rain

My tot loves water - swimming, splashing about in the bath or with water in the sink and during the day, the rain. She loves getting dressed in her rain mac and wellies and jumping in muddy puddles....from the smallest to the largest splash making puddle. One of her prized possessions is her umbrella (plus the other umbrella left by mistake in Scotland that she mentions more frequently than I would like).
She is less fond of being in Danson Park when it starts chucking down and will refuse to get out of her chair, but then will stick a hand out of the rain cover and squeal in delight as her hand gets rained on.
At night the rain turns into the stuff of nightmares. She gets scared of it pounding on the roof and, thanks to a recent episode of a favourite show, she's afraid it's all going to come dripping into the house.
So in the dark of night, I have to take her to the window to show her it's firmly shut, explain to her that the garden needs the rain and it will make the prettiest flowers and then hold her hand as she quivers with every burst of wind (a hurricane gale to her) and thrashing of rain.
It means we don't get much sleep but in a way, it's very sweet so she's forgiven.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Tarns and fairies

Despite what I said yesterday, today was a mellow day. I needed to buy a pressie for a birthday party this weekend so took the opportunity to go to the Eltham and visit the Tarn and the Fairy Hill Park.
The Tarn is a green oasis of calm. The water was very green...some sort of algae growing on top that made me feel very sad for the few birds floating on it. Does anyone know when duck season is as we couldn't find many to feed?
The place is not really toddler safe as there aren't any barriers around the water, however, if you are careful, then it's a sweet place to visit. Mind you, my tot didn't like being in the "jungle" and refused to get out of her chair.
After that we went to Fairy Hill park. Great name huh. A smallish park with a playground for kids. I liked the way the toddler area was segmented from the older kids parts. Strangely though, apart from tot, there was not one child in the park. There weren't even any kids on the tennis courts. It was almost deserted which made me feel very sorry for the park. For tot, a playground is not that much fun when you are on your own though she had a good go on all the equipment there.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Howling at the moon

I read once, somewhere, that to keep alive you should do an exciting thing every day. Exciting in that it gets your heart beating. That this will keep you invigorated.
That's not me. I'm safe. I don't go much out of my comfort zone. I'm not giddy and wouldn't go wild for fear of being a pillock.
Only lately, I find myself a tad bored.
However, I'm not the sort of person to fling myself off a bridge with wild abandon whilst being attached to a flimsy bouncy piece of string.
I'm going to have to figure out what will get the heart pumping and for once, I don't think Google will have the answer for me... some of the boredom stems from too much life lived online and less lived.
I'm now rather excited about the prospect of what the future holds.

P.S. title post refers to a loud session of howling and whooping at the moon I had with a boyfriend in front of an old church in Hammersmith. Howling was a great release.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

12th Sept: Cabinets of Curiosity

If you have a budding creative in your house aged 5-11, then you may want to take him/her down to the Design Museum on 12th Sept for their children's workshop Cabinets of Curiosity. In this session, the kids get to make their own museum.
I just can't wait until tot is old enough for the DM sessions as she would love glueing her own world together.
Cost £4 for child, plus £6 for accompanying adult. A little expensive but that cost includes entry around the museum too.

Sunday 12 September, 2 - 5pm
Kids £4 (ages 5 - 11)
The Design Museum is a place to investigate contemporary design in its many and varied forms. In this special family workshop children are invited to create mini museums of their own, bringing together drawings and models of their favourite design objects, including water based vessels, in their own curated space.

Other museums:
British Museum : Family Activities
Science Museum: Science Nights So gutted to have missed the lego building sessions earlier in aug
Naval Maritime Museum: Free Family Events

Friday, 13 August 2010

If I win the lotto...

If I win the lotto, the first thing I will do is run off to the Rigby and Peller underwear shop and get all fitted out. The women there are supposedly magical in their ability to find the perfect fitting undies just by looking at you. This does remind me of Christopher, the odious boy who in my 6th form was able to tell what bra size each girl was.
I've just spent an uncomfortable morning in Thamesmead shopping centre trying to buy shoes and cake decorations while my bra held me in a vice like grip. No matter how I squirmed, it was making me very irritable and I couldn't stand the slow-stand-at-corner-of-aisles shoppers around Morrisons. I only went in there to pick up cake stuff (best place for cakey things methinks).
As soon as I got home, off came the offending piece of clothing and whoooosh, gravity did it's thing and down I flopped with relief.
Obviously, the real reason for my discomfort was not the bra but the stupid BBC mobile weather page which even now states that at 10.00am heavy rain showers- leading to our cancelling a trip into town. Not even seen a drop of rain and spent some time sweltering in our heavy rain gear. It would be so bloody marvellous if they got it right for a change. Though sun is always a bonus. Going to sit in the garden now.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Too old to rock 'n' roll: Too young to die

Seems David Beckham is too old to be the Captain of the England football team. The man is only 35 right?
Is this decision right? I've never been a fan of the culture of youf and always hoped that at some point, as the population aged, this attitude would change.
My father recently retired. He didn't want to retire but at the age of 70, the company he worked for felt they could no longer risk letting him manage younger warehouse staff, drive a forklift (even though he'd managed to get his license only a few years earlier) nor deliver it's computers. So effectively he was pushed into retirement. I did think he was lucky that they let him stay on 5 years after the retirement age even though he's more than capable. His view was that he was actually not old and could do the job.
Now, don't start shouting at me for being unrealistic about the physical requirements for some roles... yes, yes wear and tear from age is a factor - Beckham perhaps can't run at fast and may be more injury prone and Dad was probably too old to sit in a warehouse directing younger staff to do the heavy lifting.
In IT it's notoriously difficult to get a job if you are over 40. Just before I came on maternity leave, my director announced he was only interested in designers who were under 25...hardly an incentive for me to rush back to work.
here must be many jobs that people who turn 65, or 60 could continue to do. So what are these people supposed to do after retiring for the next 30 or so years - seems to me there is only so much gardening to be done? What if they don't have enough money to last that long, still have mortgages to pay or even children to support? Has anyone out there started afresh after the big 4-0, 5-0 or even 6-0? I hope so as it would be nice to hear that it's not all doom and gloom once the greys start to appear.

P.S. I saw Beckham on the last Jonathan Ross show. I was amazed at how articulate he had become so at least with age came some wisdom. And OHMYGOD the man is just too beautiful.
P.P.S. There are people who have slogged hard all their lives, who would welcome retiring at 60/65 and with a well deserved pension. Trust me, I wouldn't want to take that away from them.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010


First the government posed the question of stopping school milk. Now they are stopping the building of playgrounds.
We really enjoy the playgrounds that Greenwich has to offer - the fancy one at Greenwich park to the more basic ones in Winns Common, Eaglesfield Park, Charlton Park and Greenwich Pleausance. One of these days, I may even be tempted into the outdoor gym at Charlton Park.
We are very lucky in this Borough to have so many green spaces (even if some are covered in dog poop)
I hope that in the run up to the Olympics the Playground to Podium scheme will not be affected by Govt cuts.

I also hope that the Plumstead Garden improvements continue as gawd knows, the kids around the High Street deserve somewhere nice and safe to play.

P.S. I really expected to see more kids in the streets over summer. Where are they all?

Monday, 9 August 2010

Slade Library - update

Seems the library has moved over to the adjoining hall and will be open the normal hours.
I'm excited to see that scaffolding has gone up and can't wait to see how the refurb goes.

Slade Library