April 2019

Who wants to be a Millionare?

Sunday 7 April 2019

That’s it! After one week of stay-at-home holidaying with the teens, I realise that drastic action is called for. Five days of cooking, cleaning and ferrying children around the relentlessly grey North West, to school-trip drop offs and school-trip pick ups, to dental appointments, to piano exams, to College, to volunteering, to friends’ houses and back again, has left me convinced that there has got to be more to holidays than this … for me! In particular, when the Summer holiday arrives, I simply cannot survive 6 weeks of this thankless servitude. We all need to get away, ideally on a plane, ideally to somewhere sunny and definitely to a place where someone else gets my meals ready. There is a slight snag however. My bank balance suggests that a day trip to Morecambe, with a Macdonald’s tea on the way home, is about all we can afford at the moment! It cannot be! I need some funds and I need them quickly. There must be something I can do…

I’ve tried Ebay-ing. It’s been quite successful recently and, my summary tells me, has netted me a profit of … £53.74. Hmmm… would that even pay for the taxi to the airport? I don’t bother with the National Lottery, as the odds are insane. In any case, I choose to support the Asthma Lottery and the Bury Hospice Lottery I’ve never won a penny on either, but I suppose my luck might change? I have a small monthly dabble on a betting site, but when I say small I mean really small. ‘Never bet more than you can afford to lose!‘ is my trusty motto. Wise words as these undoubtedly are, that equates to not a whole lot of money in my case! Whilst my betting summary shows that I am ‘Up‘ in all but one of the last 6 months, sadly it’s never by more than £20.36

Let’s face it, none of this small fry financial activity comes close. A family holiday is a 4 figure sum. I need a new approach. I need … a TV Gameshow? The kids and I discuss various possibilities. 

Apply for them all mum!” cheers an enthusiatic Prom Dress daughter 
Catch Phrase?” suggests my eldest

Now several years ago, I did apply for ‘Bargain Hunt’ and never heard a peep from them, so maybe I’ll just clear out the garage tomorrow. Who knows, there might be some priceless treasure buried somewhere in all that chaos? On the other hand, could Jeremy Clarkson hold the key to our Summer Holiday success? For the rest of this evening I dream of TV stardom, winning my fortune and perhaps becoming a Millionaire …

All together again

Thursday 11 April 2019

I am celebrating finally having all 3 kids back under one roof at the end of a hectic Easter Holiday! Small Boy has been to Paris and back, and also spent time away with his Dad. Prom-dress daughter has been revising for GCSEs but also hopping in and out of Manchester with her pals. And today my eldest limped home from a 4 day Duke of Edinburgh practice expedition to Yorkshire.

As she regales us with tales of 50 miles of trekking, freezing tents and surviving on very little sleep or food, I do feel quite in awe, and wonder, not for the first time,’where has she come from?’ My eldest just seems so much more driven and determined than either me or her father. She is also an incredibly attractive girl. (I do recall hooting with laughter once when my boss came into my office, saw a picture of her on the desk, looked at me and asked, 
“Do you ever think the hospital sent you home with the wrong baby?!!”) And as I pick her up from College, with her sunburnt nose and blistered lips and feet I think she has probably never looked more beautiful.

She is craving a Macdonalds and so we head to the Drive Thru’ for tea. We end up getting all the food for free, because I take issue with the feeble portions of ‘large fries’ and the fact that we have to go back for our missing ‘mozzarella sticks!’ I don’t even raise my voice to get a full refund, perhaps my ‘Mum the Brave’ reputation is spreading?

Back home , the family re-bond over an episode of ‘The Chase’ but decide that this is NOT the game show for me to try and win my fortune and I settle down to make the most of a rare evening with us altogether. Because tomorrow, I appear to be driving Prom-dress daughter, and half of Year 11, to a party and on Saturday, my eldest has a party, and volunteering and a driving lesson ! Some where in the middle of all of that I even get to go out too, for a meal (hooray no cooking!) It’s a good job I’m not one for a quiet life!

Hooray for a 4 day week!

Tuesday 16 April

G & T on a Tuesday, don’t mind if I do! Most of the household went back to work and school this week. Now, whilst this felt like the end of the world on Sunday night, tonight the joy of a 4 day week is hitting home, as I realise that we are already ‘half-way through’ the week. Only a couple more early calls before I can cheerfully silence that alarm once more. It’s definitely cause for celebration!!

I’ve actually really enjoyed work too, bustling about with a joyful sense of purpose and energy. Am I just refreshed by my 2 week break, or is it the 4 week itself that has cast a positive and focused spell over the whole workplace?

A small handful of firms in the UK have moved to reduced weeks and do report encouraging results. The article ‘Miserable staff don’t make money’: the firms that have switched to a four-day week’ from the Guardian last year, provides some interesting evidence that reducing working hour, without reducing pay, does not affect productivity and has the added benefit of boosting happiness and well being in the workplace. Aidan Harper, founder of the 4 Day Week campaign also argues that a 4 day working week would benefit both over worked and underworked people by redistributing time and workload more fairly.

“In the UK, we have growing numbers of overworked people,” says Harper, “but we also have a growing number of underworked people, namely gig economy employees looking for more work…”

There is not universal support from employers for a reduction in weekly working hours, but I sit here tonight supping on a tasty mix of Bombay Sapphire and tonic, with the weather set fair from Friday onwards, , with friends planning to pop in and with a couple of lovely outings on the calendar, I am certainly raising my glass and cheering ‘Hooray for a 4 day week!’

Good Friday

Friday 19 April 2019

Paracetamol…please!” I almost weep as I struggle into consciousness at the start of the long Easter weekend. Getting my pounding head up from the pillow is quite a challenge, but I do eventually manage to stumble downstairs grab a couple of pills and collapse onto the settee with a strong coffee.

There really is ‘no fool like an old fool‘ I conclude as I review, with a distinct queasiness, my decision to mix rather a lot of prosecco with rather a lot of porter on a work night out. I am not a mixer of drinks, never have been and never will be, so why oh why it always seems like such a top idea as I descend into tipsy-ness I will never know!

At least its the start of the lazy Bank Holiday weekend I think with relief, but the relief is short lived.

” I need a haircut!“, Small Boy yells cheerfully down the stairs, ” And we need to get some snacks for ‘The Boys”

With a nerve jangling start, I recall that teenage boys are actually arriving at my home, in a few hours, for …a sleepover! And I hate going to the Barbers- all that queuing and resisting the urge to scream out ” It’s just a haircut, get on with it!” as those craftsmen of the hair-trade coiffe and perfect each ‘Number 2 on the sides and a trim on top’ with a level of care and attention more appropriate to the final touches on a Michelangelo canvas!

Too weak to protest, I give Small Boy a pale grimace, grab my car keys and off we go. The queue, a pitiful 45 minute wait, is actually not as bad as usual. I even manage to shop the snacks as Small Boy holds his place in the line. It’s also a beautiful day and I find that, revived by some fresh air, I am feeling much better as we finally head for home. Whereupon, there’s more good news. A text from my mum bring the glad tidings that both Small Boy and my eldest have passed their recent piano exams. “Hooray!

I am now totally transformed. From hangover despair to euphoric happiness with the world and my fabulous family in a few short hours. On a bit of a high, I speed back into town and blow most of next months salary on a holiday for us all in the sun – “Yikes!” Is that my best decision? Who knows, but it’s done now!

I spend the rest of Good Friday filling out an application for a place on ‘Tipping Point‘…

Easter Sunday

Sunday 21 April 2019

The weather could not be more perfect this weekend and by Sunday, the blue skies and warm Spring sunshine have wrapped me in a blissful holiday haze. A leisurely breakfast, accompanied by some chocolate eggs, drifts into a family pub lunch, where we sit outside feeling positively Mediterranean. Workplace worries and money worries all seem very far away.

Later I find myself in another local hostelry, whiling away the early evening hours in the company of a great friend I’ve not seen for ages. It’s a joy!

“The best mirror is an old friend”

said someone, far wiser than me. And the thing about this old friend if that they actually make me feel pretty good about my reflection, and that, from someone who knows me so well, is a very powerful thing. It’s said that Easter is a time for new beginnings, and although work and money worries may seem far away today I know that they’ll be back. But today I feel ready for any challenges and changes that lie ahead. My fantastic friend makes me see that I am strong and capable of anything…