Thinking Out Loud

5 Ways to Stay Cool in Heatwave 2017

Yesterday was apparently the hottest day of the year in the UK and today it’s hotter here than in Ibiza or Hell or something.

I’ve always thought of myself as a bit of a Negative Nancy. Maybe a Realistic Rita or a Cynical Cynthia at a push. However, when it comes to sunshine and the blink-and-you-miss-it British summer I am fighting the negativity. Real life and social media have joined forces to barrage me with moans about how bloody hot it is. Enjoy it! It won’t last forever.

I get that it’s a worry for people with little babies or other vulnerable family members so in the spirit of teaching my grandmother to suck eggs (that’s what blogs are, right?), here are a few of my common sense tips for the no doubt sadly short-lived heatwave:

 

Window
Shut Up: close those windows

1. Shut up

Keep your house windows, curtains and/or blinds closed in the day and it’ll be cooler inside than out for the evening because you’ve blocked the sun. Open the windows an hour before bedtime to circulate the air once it’s cooler. It’s counter intuitive but by Jove it works.

heatwave1
Drink Up: stay hydrated. duh.

2. Drink up

Stay hydrated. Just drink. Give your kids extra water. If they need reminding, remind them to drink. If you need reminding that you and your offspring need water when it’s hot then hang your head in shame. You plonker.

Cactus in the sun
Cream Up: don’t burn in that scorchio sun. The lobster look is not cool.

3. Cream up

In the words of Baz Luhrmann, wear sunscreen. Splodge and spray it on your kids, yourself and anyone else who needs it. Avoid squirting random passing strangers. That’s weird. My boys hate being creamed. We compromised on a spray one.

rollercoaster on sunny day
Strip Off: don’t layer up babies

4. Strip off

Strip off. Don’t wrap babies up in vests and babygrows and blankets. I was a baby and toddler in the Caribbean and I didn’t really wear clothes until we moved to the UK. Older kids don’t need duvets at bedtime, just a cotton sheet. For an extra treat keep your pillow case in the fridge.

choc ice at the park
Chill Out: enjoy it, treat yo’self!

5. Chill out

Stop moaning, stay positive, chill out (in the shade or a cool shower if you prefer).

Yesterday we had an outdoor event at school that lasted about an hour. Predictably I heard cries of “it’s too hot for them”, “it should’ve been moved”, “other schools cancelled sports days”. Did anyone actually melt or spontaneously combust? Quelle surprise, no they did not. Were we reminded to apply sun cream and provide a drink and a hat for our little darlings? Why, yes we were. Did everyone have a lovely time? Oh yes indeedy. Last year, the same event took place in the rain. It was (unsurprisingly) the same people saying “it’s too wet for them”, “it should’ve been moved”, “other schools cancelled sports days”. Did anyone actually dissolve or float away? Quelle surprise, no they did not. We are not made of sugar. We are not the Wicked Witch of the West. (Also, a sports day is a DAY, an hour is an hour. Don’t get me started.)

For a place like the Vale of Glamorgan where we can experience four seasons in a week, we can be a tad melodramatic about the weather.

I hope you get a chance to enjoy the weather in your paddling pools, your local beach, Ponty Lido, Barry Splashpark or from the cool comfort of your own bath.

Let me know your favourite ways to stay cool in the comments.

 

Thinking Out Loud

General Election 2017

Amidst the getting-ready-for-the-day mayhem this morning I stumbled across Chalk (the 8 year old, remember I gave them pseudonyms? No? Well, just go with it) filming the telly screen with a phone. (Yes, the telly’s on in the morning so I’m a terrible mother and yes I also think 8 is too young for a phone.) He sensed me pausing with a pile of cereal smeared bowls in one arm and a pair of dead joggers in the other (how do they destroy so many clothes?!) and explained. Newsround were doing a piece on this week’s General Election. He wanted to film it to watch later in case he forgets anything. Obviously.

He’s not learnt it all from Newsround (although I do think it’s an excellent programme and I’m glad it’s still going). We’ve spoken about it and he knows why it’s important to vote, that we pick an MP and they represent us in Parliament. He knows that the parties aren’t parties as he knows them. He’s seen the poster his Dad blue tacked in our window. On Thursday morning the three kids will come with me to our local community centre while I vote. I could go at any time in the day but it’s been a great way to start a chat about democracy, suffrage, how our political system works, why I choose to vote the way I do. A bit deeper than our usual school walk conversations. This morning Cheese asked why robbers wear masks when they work at night and why there are holes in the washing machine.

We’ve had a lot of elections in the past couple of years so we’ve had lots of chats and I think some of it might be sinking in. That said, there’s been a lot to take in! The European Union, Welsh Government, Local Councils.

Jamie Roberts (the Welsh rugby one) tweeted yesterday “Politics. Not taught compulsorily at school, yet ‘younger people’ are encouraged to go out and vote to help decide the future..Madness”. It’s hard to be clear in 140 characters (I struggle in a long-winded blog post) and some twits thought he meant young people shouldn’t vote. Not so. the point was that politics should be taught in all schools.

A better understanding of how our political systems work is so important. One of the replies Jamie had was from a Matt Clarke (I don’t know him) “Keep politics away from school. Education is dominated by the left.” The kind of politics our children and young people should be taught isn’t about which party is the best but why we vote, how a government works, what parliament is.

It reminded me why I’ve tried keeping my political opinions to myself on social media this time around. It makes no difference, I’m preaching to the converted. It’s far more powerful to teach my children about the voice they have, to make sure they know the name of our MP, our Prime Minister and the political parties. Judging by most of what I’ve read on twitter and facebook makes me think that most grown-ups could benefit from watching Newsround explain the basics.

So here you go, a handy link to Newsround: BBC Newsround. You’re welcome.

 

Thinking Out Loud

London

I swanned off to London this weekend to try on bridesmaid outfits, drink copious amounts of Prosecco and meet a good friend’s scrumptious newborn.

Not long after I’d made sure my uncharacteristically tipsy friend was hydrated and tucked into bed and was just getting myself cosy in her spare room she appeared at the bedroom door, phone in hand, “there’s been an incident”. Her brother had heard and messaged her as he knew the bars of Borough Market are a familiar haunt of hers.

By the time we woke up, the scale and implications of the event were unfolding. We carried on with our weekend plans of brunches, walks and baby cwtching. I eventually got back to a Cardiff empty and exhausted from hosting a Big Important Football Thing.

This morning Chalk hugged me and let slip that he’d been worried when he heard the news because he knew I was in London. He’s an anxious little fella, empathetic with a keen interest in what’s going on in the world.

With the Manchester attack still so fresh in his mind, it’s easy to grasp how overwhelming the world is at the moment.

A different year group to his at school were supposed to be going on a London trip soon but it’s been changed to another location. The number of parents who, understandably, said that their children wouldn’t be going to London due to the recent terror attacks will have swayed it.

Will I avoid London? Nope. Will I avoid large concerts? Nope. (Off to one on Friday and I cannot flipping wait.) Terrorists have struck bars, restaurants, shops, public transport, marathon spectators, pavements, they’re really not that fussy. I don’t want to live under a rock and I don’t want my children living in fear. I’ll hug them tight and we’ll carry on living life to the full.

Thinking Out Loud

10 Reasons why I am a Terrible Parent Blogger

1. Time (or lack thereof)

I struggle to find the precious time to write anything half decent between my jobs, chores, child taxi service, exercising and socialising. (Not that there’s a hell of a lot of time for the last one or that I spend as much time as I should doing the penultimate one.)

2. Desperately Seeking Approval

I’m too cynical to be sycophantic and too desperate to be liked to be truly cutting.

3. Friends

I don’t need new mum friends. Does that make me weird? I barely have time for the friends I already have. I like my friends. That’s why they’re my friends.

4. Bloggerholics Anonymous

I decided to blog anonymously but this is proving to be a real challenge on the old content front. Thankfully for you it means I’ll not be doing any cringey vlogging any time soon. (Look, I used the word vlogging! It’s the future, I’m down with the kids. Probably not.)

5. Respecting my Children’s Privacy

I don’t feel comfortable exploring the trials and tribulations that my kids are struggling with through the medium of blog. A three year old struggling with toilet training isn’t quite as exposing as the emotional, social and developmental rollercoasters of eight and ten year olds.

6. Not a Mama or Mummy. Just a Mum. Or Mam.

I’ve never called myself a Mama or a Mummy. Tell a lie, I’ve signed birthday cards to my toddler offspring with “Mummy” but mainly because I like doing a twirly y in my fanciest handwriting. The words are too cutesy. I am not cute. I’m Mum to my boys and Mam on the blog because it’s Welsh and it rhymes with Glam. Love a rhyme.

7. Self doubt

But it’s ok to be a bit rubbish at this writing lark when no one is ever going to read it as it floats aimlessly in the world wide web of lies. If a tree falls and no one hears it…

8. Not an Expert

I’m not an expert on anything. I read some blogs where the writer has assumed some sort of moral high ground or preaches as though they are the Holder Of All The Knowledge or Explainer Of All Of The Things. I’m reluctant to launch my “Crafty Mam” element because I can imagine it being a bit “here’s a tutorial on doing something I can only just about do myself.”

9. Waffly Versatile

I waffle. As one of my incredible A Level English teachers said in the late 90s “you have a rather cavalier approach to writing”, which, turns out, wasn’t what they were looking for in exams or Uni assignments. Who knew.

10. I’m Late to the Party (or was I too early?)

I can see there are so many opportunities and movements to join up mums with mums. Which is lovely. I went through a more analogue and informal version of this when I was preggers the first time age 25. I don’t feel it’s for me now. I prefer to vent and rage at my friends (and at you, strangers on the internet), some of whom don’t have kids. They still know me and they know my children. Perhaps working and having no pre-schoolers excludes me. I’m entering a stage of motherhood where I have more freedom, I’m not tethered by boob to a baby, juggling days around inconvenient nursery hours or lugging around the world’s biggest bag full of tiny spare clothes.

But mainly it’s the never having time to blog thing. OK, not “never” as I’m clearly doing just that right now… and waffling again.

theatre, Things To Do

Romeo and Juliet: Shakespeare and circus skills

If your idea of taking your children to see a Shakespeare play is a hellish few hours of numb bums and boredom then let the latest offering from Omidaze Productions change your mind.

We all know the Romeo and Juliet story. I had a mild obsession with the Baz Luhrmann film in my teens (still my top soundtrack album), my kids are more familiar with Gnomeo and Juliet and if you’ve never seen West Side Story where’ve you been?! It’s the perfect gateway play into the world of the Bard.

With a young and diverse cast of actors, this version from director Yvonne Murphy goes a step further in shaking up Shakespeare. Aerial circus skills add excitement to the experience with Lady Capulet elegantly twisting on silks and Romeo’s mates throwing banter around on swinging hoops. The audience don’t sit behind an invisible fourth wall but walk, sit and perch amongst the action, getting up close and personal with each scene.

This show is recommended for ages 7 and up. My eight year old is really looking forward to it. I take him to a lot of theatre (the perks of a mum working in the arts) but he’s never seen anything quite like this before. Family friendly theatre doesn’t have to mean puppetry and slapstick (don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of both) so give it a go and take your tribe.

Romeo and Juliet has been co-produced by Omidaze Productions with Wales Millennium  Centre and after touring Mod, Llanelli and Brecon they’ll be back in Cardiff on 27th April – 14th May. Get your tickets sharpish because they’ve a tendency to sell out. Tickets and details: Romeo and Juliet

ACCESS INFO: There’s captioning at each show and BSL interpretation on Thursday 11th May at Wales Millennium Centre by Sami Thorpe. There’s also a tactile model and a touch tour for blind and visually impaired audience members as well as audio description on Thursday 11th May 7pm and Saturday 13th May 2pm at Wales Millennium Centre by Alistair Sill.

Photography by Kirsten McTernan

theatre, Things To Do

Jason and the Argonauts – the ultimate hero quest comes to Cardiff

If your children are anything like mine they’ll be superhero obsessed. Superhero birthday parties, superhero bedroom and errant superhero figures down the side of the sofa.

Centuries before the Marvel universe was even a glint in Stan Lee’s eye, the ancient Greeks were telling stories of heroes with superpowers that would make Iron Man turn as green as the Hulk with envy.

Remember the iconic 1963 film of Jason and the Argonauts? No, I’m not old enough to have seen it then but my dad was a fan so I’ve seen it a good few times. Jason is an ordinary man in an extraordinary world of gods and monsters. He and his mighty Argonauts set off on an epic quest for the Golden Fleece. Adventures follow.

A family friendly stage version of Jason and the Argonauts has been touring Wales and is in Cardiff at Wales Millennium Centre (in the Weston Studio) this Easter weekend on Friday 14th April 7:30pm and Saturday 15th April 2:30pm and 7:30pm. Book online: Jason and the Argonauts tickets

From what the writer of this production, Mark Williams says, it sounds right up my son’s (and my brothers’) street: “We’ve drawn together a range of influences, from 1980s animation theme tunes and the soundtracks of Wes Anderson, to the fantasy films of Jim Henson, by way of the deck of the USS Enterprise and the Doctor’s TARDIS.”

The Argo could as easily be a spaceship as a seafaring ship. Is it a long time ago? Is it a galaxy far, far away? Is this production based on all of my dad’s favourite things (I lie, it’s missing cowboys)?

There’s only one way to find out. I’ve booked my tickets, get a shifty on and book yours. To the quest!

Jason and the Argonauts is a Blackwood Miners’ Institute/RCT Theatres Co-Production on tour across Wales throughout April. A full tour schedule can be found at www.jasonandtheargonauts.co.uk.

Argo Image 006 portrait text

Things To Do

You’ve Got Dragons by Taking Flight Theatre Company: a theatre show for everyone

You’ve Got Dragons has been touring Wales for a while now and still has a fair few left so if you haven’t caught it yet, do take your kids (and the grandparents and some friends and anyone else you can work your charms or magic on) along.

You’ve Got Dragons is based on the book by Kathryn Cave and is a delightful tale about a child’s journey to come to terms with inner dragons. Worries, fears, anxieties… they’re all dragons and they sneak up on most of us at one time or another. Lots of people get them. Even really good people get them. And sometimes they are hard to get rid of. So what can a young girl with a bad case of the dragons do?

One of my children has anxiety and I know what an impact it can have. This show is an ideal way to look at the issue with a creative eye. It’s also a lovely, Wales made family friendly show. I’ll be taking my brood along this Easter holidays, having been lucky enough to catch it with my working-in-theatre hat on.

The show is fully accessible and intergenerational featuring creative captioning, BSL and audio description at every performance. Taking Flight Theatre Company have been at the forefront of making theatre more accessible for everyone in Wales and You’ve Got Dragons is no exception. Taking Flight have been brilliant at working with blind, visually impaired, deaf and hard of hearing people on developing theatre that includes everyone. They’ve got a captioned BSL flyer and an audio flyer all about the show over on their website: Taking Flight.

All of the remaining Wales theatres are members of the hynt scheme so if any of your family need a carer when they go to the theatre they can apply for membership and get a ticket free of charge for their carer, companion or Personal Assistant. More info on hynt on their website: hynt

With toe tapping music, this highly visual, sensitive production is a humorous and touching exploration of the dragons we all face.

“Dragons come when you least expect it. You turn round… and they’re there.”

TOUR DATES (if you click on the venue name you’ll be taken to their website where you can book tickets ’cause I’m nice like that!)

The Torch Theatre, Milford Haven – Wednesday 12th April 1pm and 3pm

Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff – Thursday 13th April 6:30pm / Friday 14th April 6:30pm / Saturday 15th April 2pm and 5pm

Wise Words Festival, Canterbury – Monday 1st May

Newbridge Memo – Saturday 20th May 2pm (Relaxed Performance)

Park & Dare, Treorchy – Wednesday 24th May 1pm

Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon – Saturday 27th May 11am and 2pm

The Mission Theatre, Bath – Sunday 28th May 1:30pm and 3:30pm

also…

FREE WORKSHOPS at Chapter Arts Centre before the show – Thursday 13th April 5pm, Saturday 15th April 12.30pm & 3.30pm

Join them before the show in the theatre foyer to make tactile model houses which even light up! Or you can make a shadow puppet and test it out on their mini shadow screens. All for free with your ticket to the performance.

Accessible to all- this activity will be BSL supported and audio described. 

 

You’ve Got Dragons is a co-production with Abertillery Met and Creu Cymru.