You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Family Life’ category.


It’s a year this week since I first posted my bin blog post.  That makes this blogpost all the more timely.  For the last month we’ve been living in our new flat, where we are blessed by Wheelie Bins.  I say blessed – I do like them – we have room outside to store them and can clear out our rubbish whenever we like – no more missing bins night.  My struggle with them has been that I have no idea how to capture this new habit in a weekly post.  So, I think I won’t.  There is a slim chance that some of you may miss this weekly photo, in which case I’m sorry to disappoint.  There’s a greater chance that I’ll miss the chance to have a go at the Council when they slip up with our service.  But actually I think that’s a price worth paying. I’ll still keep my eye out for interesting or useful Bins stories/photos, but for me it’s time for something new.
What? I hear you cry.  What new form of weird do you have in mind?


I have previously been the cockney of the Balti – if indeed that is a claim – I have lived within the smell of a balti restaurant, in the heart of the Balti Triangle in Birmingham.  That smell is one of the things I miss about Brum.  So tonight, we’re going to check out our local.  The Sunrise Balti & Tandoori Restaurant.  I’m not wildly optimistic; it looks rather like the sort of place that squeezed room on its sign for the word balti – and added Chicken and Lamb Balti to its menu.  Though I should say that the review posted on bview is very positive; parking being the only issue, but I guess a 250 yd walk is probably do-able!

Anyway, this is where my new idea leapt from.  I should keep a track of the Balti restaurants we find down here and start to record what they are like.  I’m thinking of noting a few standard measures and commenting against each of them.

Of course, there is no reason to restrict it to down here – I may even begin with a quick word on our favourite for the last 20 odd years: The Punjab Paradise on Ladypool Road, Birmingham.  The picture on the left captures 3 of my friends at a Twalti earlier this year.  I have to say the service was abysmal – never sit upstairs, they just seem to forget you.  But the food was great as ever – and the company too.

I’d be very pleased to hear your ideas of the kind of areas I should be reporting on.  So far I have in mind:

  • location
  • parking
  • warmth of welcome
  • atmosphere
  • menu variety
  • provenance of food
  • taste flavour
  • licensed or not
  • price
  • after-effects

So, let me know what you think, watch this space and the Balti tag and we’ll see how well the Balti has travelled all these miles.

On 12 June 2009 I announced in my blog post about a Twitter session I had presented, that I had accepted a new job in Southampton.  Since then, for reasons I don’t entirely understand, I haven’t returned to the subject here on my blog.  Yesterday I discovered that a friend had come here to find out what I was up to, having heard only the rumours – and found nothing.  So I decided to bring my eager readers right up to speed with a look back over our journey of the last 4 months.

Having decided to move, we began our search for a school, somewhere to live in Southampton and in Loughborough (it’s a long drive every day!).  We knocked off flat-hunting in 2 days (1 per place).  We found a couple of great flats (the one down south being directly opposite Waitrose, which will reduce my carbon footprint!).  Unfortunately, we’ve been caught up in the nightmare of sorting them ever since.  Still nearly there, it looks like we’ll move into both over the weekend of 16 October – hurray!  Just the small chore of finishing packing, filling /unfilling vans, unpacking and then hoping we’ve sent the right possessions to the right end of the country.  I can’t wait for the fish and chips on the evening of 19th, oh, and of course, the return of the bins not long after 🙂

Finding a school was a nightmare – remind me why we had our child at the same time as all those millennium babies: all the schools where we wanted to live were full.  All that is, except one, and it happened to be the nearest to the flat.  We loved it on the visit and Pip spent the summer months showing off her uniform and waiting to start.  So, she was the first of us to make the transfer to her new life.  She started in early September.  She loves it: she was elected onto school council and is a member of the journalism club who write the school newspaper – she’s got a great future ahead of her one way or another.

I started the new job on 21 September.  What a privilege to be General Manager of Southampton Univeristy Students’ Union.  It’s a dream of a Union: we enjoy enormous student participation, work with a great bunch of people (staff and students) and are located mainly on a leafy campus complete with a babbling brook and students sitting on the grass chatting.  This really is the SU job of my dreams.  I’ve loved the first couple of weeks getting to know my colleagues and I am looking forward to working with them to do the best we can to give our students the greatest university experience we can.

So that’s a relief!  I had a massive feeling of trepidation driving in on the first day: what if I hated it?  My fabulous husband and delightful daughter have agreed to support me on this big life adventure and relocate our lives.  We are all massively rooted in Birmingham – all 3 born there and mostly lived all our life there.  It was a big ask, so it needed to be worthwhile.  Phew.

We’ve been living a travelling life.  For the first 3 weeks, each was in a different B&B, hotel and apartment.  My parents joned us for my first week at work, which was great.  The last few weeks of waiting for our flat are being whiled away in the incredibly welcoming home of our old friend Dave and his family in Winchester.  Dave coincidentally, welcomed me and my brothers to Birmingham when we moved back there in 1977.

We made friends with a great family, who relocated from Dorset in the summer and their youngest daughter started new in Pip’s class at the same time.  They’ve regularly saved my childcare bacon and provided a cuppa and comfy sofa during those first few weeks when we lived in B&Bs.  I’ve also met a couple of women who work at the University of Southampton, thanks to Twitter where a friend in Brum put us in touch.  I even managed to go to a Tweet Up.  That was such a great place to meet people and I will do all I can to be at the next one.

So all in all a lot to take in.  The location is great; it’s not like Brum, but I don’t think anywhere can be quite as comforting as the place you’ve called home for the last 32 years.  We’re saying goodbye to so many special people: friends and family.  I will miss some of you dreadfully – I already do.  But life is for living and just sometimes it’s invigorating to step right out of a comfort zone.

So, we’re still driving back up to Brum every Friday (I’d strongly advise against the A34 north round Oxford on Friday evening btw)!  But hey, we get to pack more boxes every weekend and share time with our good friends.  We’re gonna miss you lots, but not quite yet – which reminds me, it’s Thursday night, I should go and pack our bags…

Link to the  parboot channel on YouTube

My dort is a very active child.  Over the years she’s learnt an instrument, swam, trampolined, danced and danced ooh, all sorts.  But nothing, no nothing, has absorbed and enthralled her like Stage 2. 

A youth theatre company set up and run in Birmingham, it has been going for over 20 years.    As is so very often the case, it is the work of an incredibly driven and talented woman, Liz Light. 

Of course youth theatre is all very well.  Take a few keen, stage struck youngsters, find some nice easy pieces and put one on each year.  Not so with Stage 2.  I can honestly say they have provided some of the best and none of the worst nights I’ve had at the theatre. 


The most recent highlight for me being Spoonface Steinberg featuring amongst others my dort and niece.  In which 24 children take on a monologue and move the audience through the journey of an autistic girl dying of cancer. A close second is the production of Teechers in which my nephew reduced me (and other audience members) to tears, with his moving portrayal of Salty.  Perhaps the most memorable for me was Picasso’s Women, produced in 2000, this was a fine and typical example of how Stage 2 manages to pick challenging plays for adults and get children to convince you they are in fact real.

Birmingham has a gem in Stage 2 and a jewel in Liz Light and I say a huge thank you for the experiences and chances you are offering to my dort and for the very many delightful theatre productions you have given to me…

[… oh and if you have a child over the age of 7, get yourself down to the Birmingham School of Acting on a Saturday – you are unlikely to regret it.]

025I feel obliged this week to confess that I did barely anything towards our bins.  In fact our dort put us to shame and set off gathering bins from around the house.  She tipped them all in the black bag and her dad took them out.  What a great team.

In an earlier post I reported on a crowd-sourced view of modern day plagues.  Such was the popularity of this question, we ended up with way more than 10, and anyone who knows their Exodus can tell you there were only 10 plagues.  So, it’s democracy time again.  This is your chance to decide on the modern day plagues.  Vote early and vote often.  Vote for as many different ones as you like (but really, voting for all of them is only for those with way too much time on your hands.)  When I’m bored – or have enough votes to declare it over, I’ll announce.

So, remember you’re voting to keep them in the plagues…

Thankyou for voting, it is appreciated.

Take one Update on Twitter and it’s just fascinating what can follow…

Following a chat with my 9 year old dort about the 10 Plagues of Egypt, I wondered how many “everyday folk” could remember them and which old testament book they came from.  So I asked.  It’s fair to say a couple of people took me at my word and attempted to list them all.  Well done to Abby Corfan for her 9/10 and to Digibrum_Si for correctly naming Exodus.  The correct list is of course easy to find on web, I got it from here.

So what of all the other contributions?   Well thanks to everyone here named who took a rather more entertaining slant on my query:

We’ve got a lovely list of 15 modern day plagues, in no particular order:

  1. A plague of telemarketers trying to flog thou discount kitchens
  2. A plague of consultations
  3. Credit running in the gutters
  4. A plague of consultants
  5. A plague of ill-conceived and largely unworkable laws which if fully implemented would erode our civil liberties
  6. A plague of barely caffeinated, freeze dried coffee tasting of decayed rodent droppings
  7. A plague of drunken yahoos rampaging through the city streets
  8. A swarm of Flips
  9. A plague of raging fuckwits
  10. And lo! He did smite them with toilet roll multipack wrappers that looked like they had rolls in them but were actually empty
  11. aplagueofpolypocketsscatteredonthefloorsoyouskidonthematnightandhurtyourself
  12. No WiFi
  13. A plague of chuggers
  14. A cake shortage
  15. A plague of spam

It’s fair to say that although I feel we are living with crises and disasters of a biblical nature, I was thinking more of tsunamis and terrotism, not cakes and polypockets.  Neverthelss I thought this was a great list, with some very amusing images created.  But, too many.  So, I might run a bit of a poll and see who fancied which plague as the one which best captures modern day plagues.

But first, maybe there are more out there.  What do you think, leave a comment and I’ll add to the list.

I’ve only had about 15 carrier bags from shops this year – it was a new year’s resolution: I would say no whenever I could and therefore cut down my personal use of plastic carrier bags.  The biggest win has been “town” shopping.  When I used to feel a new skirt had to go in an M&S carrier, I now pop it in a pre-existing bag of my own.  It’s been a successful campaign and one I urge you all to join.  The only down side is that shopkeepers do often give me funny looks and on a bad day I can seem a little crotchety with them, when I insist that I can carry a sandwich, drink and packet of crisps without the aid of their bag…

But, I’ve noticed something worrisome, which is this.  Since my campaign and since it rightly became hard to get a free carrier bag in supermarkets, we’ve acquired a very large number of re-usable bags.  Many of them so-called bags-for-life; when I count mine, I see a long life ahead of me.  Many are hessian; carrying various worthy messages.  A few are cloth; my personal favourite from the 2005 Hay Festival.  I came to realise a fundamental flaw, I had got into the habit of buying a re-usable bag whenever I liked the look of it, because it was better than using a shop plastic bag.

Since that “obvious with hindsight” realisation, I then discovered a far more fundamental truth.  If I want to reduce my impact on the world’s ecosystem, then the carrier bag in which I place my shopping is the wrong worry.  The right worry is the shopping itself.  What junk have I bought, so that I can carry it in a re-useable bag.  What clothes have I worn no more than a handful of times.   How many times do I need to buy the paper at the weekend, before I realise I really should read it before it goes in the recycling pile…

So now, I go shopping with a small re-useable bag and mostly only buy those things that I really need. Oh, and if anyone knows a good place to recycle bags for life, let me know…


RSS bin fairy on twitter

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
July 2018
« Jan    

Blog Stats

  • 9,419 hits