Wednesday 1 November 2006

Mummy on the Edge - Families NW Magazine Nov/Dec 2006


Conkers and acorns, berries and birds. All subjects of discussion between Mini-me and I since joining Nature Detectives ( which is part of the Woodland Trust). They sent an autumn winter nature-spotting pack, with a booklet, chart and stickers to help you identify leaves and trees (oak, ash, beech, birch?) and berries and bugs. It’s really a brilliantly fun way of teaching our little ones all the stuff about nature that we never learned ourselves because it was too boring. The idea is to record the signs of nature including when and where you see them to build a national seasonal nature profile, however I wouldn’t trust myself to contribute officially because, to be honest, I don’t know my ash from my elbow!

I took Mini-me to Hampstead Heath on Seed Gathering Sunday (who knew?) for an organised two-hour walk learning about the Heath's trees and gathering acorns to plant, followed by a conker-off which she was looking forward to, since she knows there is not a hope in hell of getting me to perform conkerage of any sort for her amusement, being as I am uncompetitive, utterly un-coordinated and financially unprepared for private eye surgery. Unfortunately, I neglected to print out the exact starting locations of said events which I had found online and after a brisk two hours around the heath (which is huuuuuuge) getting clonked over the head with near-satellite accuracy by kamikaze conkers, I gave up looking. We retired instead to Finchley Road for an early dim sum dinner which was yum.

Have you made a will? No, me neither, but I will definitely be doing so now especially as November is Will-Aid month. Will Aid happens every two years and was thought up by a solicitor inspired by Live Aid in 1988. It basically offers the opportunity of having your Will professionally drawn up by a solicitor, but instead of paying their usual fee you can make a donation to some of the UK's best loved charities to help people here and abroad. This is a way to get your affairs in order and at the same time help many thousands of people in need. You can find out about local participating solicitors at

The silly season is upon us and I don’t know about you but I’m doubting my cope-ability already. I have so many dates to remember and I have not yet synchronised my life-changing-phone-gadget-thingy with Outlook on the computer. So now, including my conker-dented head, and about 6 scrappy old envelopes dotted around the house I have to check in 9 different places before I commit to anything else. There’s two Halloween parties, Mini-me’s ballet show (all three performances!), The Baby Show at Olympia, The Littlepeopleshow at Bushey Country Club, Diwali, not to mention assorted Christmas fairs, discos, concerts, etc. Where will it end? Without sounding like a grumpy old woman – hey what the hell, say it loud I’m grumpy and proud - everything is so commercialised. Christmas shopping fills me with dread and I’m thinking we should shun the high street in favour mums who sell stuff. There’s lots of us out there and I reckon if each of us commits to buying even 2 out of ten pressies from people we know, we would be doing a lot to boost the local economummy.

The festive season is a time for fun but also one for reflection. As with birthdays, we cannot help but look to the past to help us measure our progress in the present, but this can be scary if, as with me, life has changed so dramatically in a relatively short period. You find yourself asking, Jeez, what’s next? So this is when I turn to wise old Forrest Gump to remember that, “Life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you might find”. Last Christmas, the most touching moment was when the sky was grey and heavy with the promise of snow and I urged Mini-me to cast a fairy spell which she did, instantaneously causing (she thought) great marshmallowy blobs of snow to float and settle on the ground; proof, as if needed of her magical powers. The wondrous look on her face was the best gift for me. “Mummy, I really made it snow!!” And it’s this that she remembers, not the unwrapping of some uber-slutty Bratz doll. So go out there and enjoy your festivities – and remember it really is the thought that counts…