The best of both worlds

Having spent a whole month of my life officially unemployed, I’m now delighted to report that I will be a working mum as of the end of April. Part time, of course!
I have to say the process of trying to find a good job has been gruelling, not least because of the current economic climate and hundreds of people applying for each position, but also the application-filling-out drudgery which I hadn’t had to face since leaving university. Anyway, after everything, I’ve now been offered a fantastic post working for a youth charity in Somerset.
Having been on maternity leave for almost a year the hardest thing now will be to leave Ethan for half the week. Happily we have support from the grandparents and a fantastic childminder lined up. Now I just have to bite the bullet.
Am I looking forward to it? Definitely. After having no one but Ethan to babble to on a daily basis, I’m really looking forward to getting sone structure back to my week. And speaking to real life grown ups!

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A price to pay for tranquility

It’s lunchtime, it’s sunny, and it’s silent.

Nothing strange about that you might think…. but this is the first bit of peace and quiet I’ve had for some time and it’s amazed me how much I’ve achieved in one morning with no husband or baby getting under my feet!

Before Ethan I used to procrastinate quite a bit when chores needed doing, when I needed to complete a piece of work, write a blog, get my paperwork in order, that sort of thing. Now I find I can get things done in lightening speed – based on the fact that most things need doing in the time when Ethan is napping – approximately one hour.

When he’s awake  – nothing can be achieved, other than keeping him happy. So I’ve learnt to be fast, and effective. Now I have done all that needs doing for the morning and I’m casually writing this – with no pressure to write quickly – and it’s wonderful!

In order to gain this tranquility I’ve had to turn down a trip to Bridport market with friends – this is where Ethan and Guy currently are. And I’m sure it would have been a wonderful day out – one which I’m gutted to miss. But on the other hand, I’m sitting in the garden on my own – it’s just gone lunchtime, it’s sunny and it’s silent.

Bliss!

My first mother’s day

I’m a bit late in posting this, but a lovely mother’s day spent with family rendered me slightly too tipsy to write anything sensible on Sunday. As my first mother’s day of actually being a bona fide “mother” I have to say it was most agreeable.
A cup of tea made my husband first thing, and a lovely card and beautiful orchid selected carefully by Ethan – he has an eye for quality – made me feel very special. Then came the wondrous promise from Guy that he would tidy the kitchen for me while I had a shower. This would have been a great present had Guy not have fallen asleep on the sofa (photographic evidence immediately posted on Facebook). And while I had the opportunity of an hour’s peace and quiet, I donned the rubber gloves myself and scrubbed said kitchen, and just for good measure, the bathroom as well!
I suppose it was a small price to pay for some quality me time.
Anyway, the thought was there, and I got to feel very appreciated for the rest of the day.
So mother’s day, although a commercial money-spinner, I have decided, is a very good thing indeed.

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Enforcing family time

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find time where we can spend days together as a family, with Guy working on a Masters dissertation, and me just having to chase after Ethan constantly, so we said last week that we would have a day out to the beautiful Stourhead gardens on Saturday. Unfortunately, on Thursday I suffered with what I can only imagine to be the evil Norovirus vomiting bug, and recovering quickly was not on the agenda.
Come Saturday the sun was shining, and I was looking forward to getting some fresh air – but Guy came down with the bug and spent the entire day in bed while I …… cleaned the house!
On Sunday we were so determine to fulfil our “family day” promise that we dragged ourselves around Stourhead gardens, despite feeling ropey. We managed about two hours before feeling exhausted, hungry, and ready to come home.
The moral of the story? Don’t force fun days out – they inevitably don’t turn out to be much fun. Better luck next time.

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Pink to make the girls wink

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I’m so glad it’s March. Spring is finally in the air and new projects are being started. I’ve dug over the veggie patch and planted my onions, made an attempt at spring cleaning the house (don’t look too closely) and begun venturing outside a bit more, taking Ethan to the park and going on more long walks.
One thing I’m rather proud of is the tank top I’ve started knitting for the baby. He may not thank me for it when he looks back at pictures of himself in 17 years time, but right now he’ll wear anything we dress him in. I love the multi-coloured wool for this particular project and they say a man that can carry off pink is secure with his sexuality, right?! Well, there’s just a hint of pink in this design, but it’s balanced with some boyish turquoise and even a bit of brown.
Anyway, it could have been worse, I recently discover this old Peter Pan pattern for a baby romper suit….. Watch out Ethan!

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Baskets of bread and a barrel of laughs

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As an avid viewer of programmes such as Masterchef and The Great British Bake-off, being given an opportunity to spend an entire day baking, thanks to a generous Christmas present from my parents, was one I relished.

The venue was Oxfords Bakery, based in Alweston, near Sherborne, and myself and my mum, along with four other eager wannabe-bakers donned aprons and prepared to get stuck in, elbow-deep in dough.

Oxfords is a family-run business and has been making bread since 1911. Fourth generation baker Steven Oxford runs the relatively new School of Bread, as well as heading up bakeries in Sherborne and Blandford, and a deli in Canford Cliffs.

Arriving at the venue at 12pm we started the course with a welcome cup of tea and a tour of the bakery, fitted out with its 91-year-old bread oven and what Steve believes to be the largest working giant dough mixer in the country.

We were given recipe sheets and aprons and we began to work our way through a variety of doughs, including wholemeal dough, milk dough, bun dough, and a scone mixture, and along the way we learned how to knead the dough, how long to let it prove, all the while being both encouraged and heckled (all very-good natured!)

We baked right through until 6pm and also got the chance to choose a recipe we particulary wanted to do. I picked foccacia with olives and almond harissa, and mum went for a Dorset Blue Vinny loaf.

Our group got along famously, and I think a lot of that was down to Steve’s laid back and friendly approach. He certainly was a fantastic teacher, and full of terrible jokes along the way! He knows his stuff, any queries we had he answered fully, and he went out of his way to help and make sure we understood the breadmaking processes so we could confidently take our skills home with us.

Having started off thinking I might manage to bake a loaf of bread I was amazed when we each managed to produce six Bath buns, 15 scones, a plaited wholemeal loaf, four wholemeal rolls, a poppy seed loaf, four milk dough rolls, and a speciality bread…… and I’ve probably missed something….. needless to say the entire batch only just fit in the back of mum’s Mini!

I would recommend this course to absolutely everyone. It was such fun, and who wouldn’t want a larder full of baked goods? Guy’s delighted at the prospect of eating his way through all that dough.

You can find out more about the course on www.oxfordsbakery.co.uk or email info@oxfordsbakery.co.uk

A little bit of perspective

Supposedly January is meant to be the month of feeling “blue”, with the come down from Christmas, and the gloomy winter days. I tend to find February is my worst month, and although it’s a short it tends to drag.
This year it’s been about thinking of going back to part time work, being cooped up in the house with Ethan and spending weekends without Guy as he studies for a masters degree and his chartered surveyor’s qualification.
This morning though, the sun is shining and it seemed the perfect opportunity to get out of the house and go for a walk with Ethan in tow.
There’s a loop I do near our house, and it never ceases to make me feel blessed about where I live. Breathtaking views, regardless of the weather, make me feel so lucky for living in this part of the world. It’s a walk I take when I need to clear my head, put the world to rights with good friends, and enjoy being together with my husband. It’s a walk that has always served me well.
Today it made me think that although it’s still February, the sun is shining, all is well in my world and life is good. Besides, March isn’t so far away.
Hooray for Somerset!

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