Another Bank Holiday is approaching and (hopefully) the sun will shine bringing us to our pub lunch vs wine dilemma.
Read this Guest Post from Eve Pearce before making a decision that could change your life...
* * * * * "Lifestyle Change Followed Driving Shame
The night was no different to many others that had gone before, a couple of drinks after work that followed on from an extended lunch. The car was needed the next day for a long journey and it was no good being left in its city centre car park, there was not enough time to collect it the next day. It was only five miles home and the journey was routine, having completed it many times before. I knew I was probably over the limit but I felt fine to drive and I did not see any danger. I was used to handling alcohol so I even thought that my body might have compensated and absorbed a good amount of the alcohol in my blood. It had been half an hour since my last drink and the walk to the car felt refreshing as the cool wind made me more alert.
The Journey Home
I knew I was not driving erratically and felt invincible, it wasn't even Christmas when the police target drivers who they suspect of drinking and driving, I was less than a mile from home. At first it didn't seem real, the lights flashing in my rear view mirror, unmistakably blue, but why? The officers were friendly enough, they pointed out that my brake light was defective and casually asked where I was going. They asked for a routine breathalyser test and I obliged still believing that I would pass with flying colours. It still seemed like a dream when they read out an arrest statement and said that I would have to accompany them to the police station. It was a scene I had witnessed on television many times yet this time I was the star.
The cell was quite comfortable and I needed a lie down, I actually slept for a couple of hours but on awaking the reality hit me. I still thought that the machine was faulty and that a blood test would reveal that I was in the clear. Unfortunately I wasn't even close, more than double the legal limit. I would have to appear in court in front of a judge and although an offenders course would reduce my driving ban by six months I was still looking at eighteen months away from the wheel. Driving was not essential for my job but it did make life a lot easier, the fact that I had a company car meant that I was lucky to keep my job as technically I had committed an offence in a company vehicle. It was hard to imagine life without access to my own vehicle and it was a difficult conversation with my parents as I explained to them why I wasn't able to go and stay with them that particular weekend. I decided that honesty was the best policy and even though they came from a background which did not believe in women drinking to excess they were incredibly supportive and I was surprised by their reaction. I was lucky that they did not judge me for my actions and even researched alcoholism and helped me look for professional support.
The Road Back
As I had no previous convictions and I agreed to attend a rehabilitation course the courts were as lenient as they could be but I had a lengthy ban and a fine of seven hundred pounds to pay. The course was the difficult part as I would be forced to confront my drinking in the company of others who had committed similar offences. I still did not consider myself a hardened drinker and believed that I was unlucky to be caught out because of my vehicle defect. The course was a sobering experience and I listened to stories that seemed pitiful yet they had a familiar theme. I had felt little responsibility in the build up to the course but in listening to others on the course I actually felt compelled to resolve my problems because I did not want to be like them. My shame was a result of the course and although I attended out of necessity, to reduce my ban, and was sceptical about the potential benefits, it was the start of my battle to change my relationship with alcohol. I sought professional help immediately after addressing my issues with alcohol on the driving course. I had fallen into a chasm through habits formed through working in an environment where heavy drinking was prevalent and the shock of seeing my story in others was the catalyst for change. Practical issues such as obtaining insurance after a conviction were dealt with along with where to seek additional support for alcohol related conditions. At first I found the ban reduced my opportunities for attending functions where alcohol was widely available but at the same time meant that when I was able to go out drinking there was no need to hold back as I would not be driving. Despite this the experience I had on the rehabilitation course and the professional help I had received did mean that I did not succumb to the temptations on offer. With hindsight I subconsciously restructured my social circle and engaged in activities that had always interested me but meant I was less likely to indulge in heavy drinking.
Although it is said that an alcoholic is never cured and takes things one day at a time my current circumstances do make it impractical to engage in heavy drinking. I do look back on my time as a banned driver and believe that it allowed me to modify my behaviour by forcing me to change. I will now always encourage others to take a taxi when previously I would have assessed the risk in my drunken state and based it on the ease of a journey and the density of traffic. I am now driving again and do not even text at traffic lights let alone drive under the influence of alcohol but I can empathise with anyone confronted with a driving ban. It changed my life and whilst it was inconvenient the positive effect this had on my own health is immeasurable. I am grateful that I was able to change my behaviour and that the only person affected by my actions was me."
As you know, Joseph and Katie lead very active lives. If they are not playing football or lacrosse, they are up a tree or paddling in a river. As you can imagine, all this leads to some very, very mucky clothes. My washing machine is on permanently and my house is cluttered with washing on airers. (I have no dryer!)
All the top name stain removers tend to be expensive and, being on a very tight budget, I can't really justify spending too much; therefore I end up with the cheaper alternatives.
Cheap, can sometimes be cheerful, but usually turns out to be false economy. I scrub and soak stains that sometimes still
don't come out. (Even using a biological washing powder.) You can imagine my delight when the opportunity to test some Vanish stain removal
I was lucky enough to be sent two tubs of Vanish. One is the Vanish Oxi Action Crystal White
and the other is the original Pink tub Vanish Oxi Action
. My children were very excited to 'help' with the product review and really 'threw' themselves into it..
Katie decided we should test the 'white' tub first and then spent the next couple of hours walking round (outside included) just wearing her socks, whilst Joseph threw himself round at football!
Normally I am resigned to 'faded' stains, but I put a scoop of Vanish in with my washing powder and - gasp - turned the temperature down to 30 degrees. I skipped the soaking and scrubbing, just bunged it all in and waited....
As you can see - all stains GONE ! Apart from the ink on the cuff of the school blouse - which, after some probing, turned out to be permanent marker. It faded, but would probably need a scrub! I was particularly pleased with how the socks came out! Sparkly white again - lovely.
So now to test the Pink tub. We went for a day out at the park and Joseph and Katie were running down a big, muddy hill, when Joseph decided to trip and slide on his knees. This was quite ground in and I had deliberately left them for 2 days before washing - albeit on a 'denim' setting at 40 degrees - but no pre-soak or scrubbing.
The jeans are faded on the knees - but that is the style of the jeans - not very clear from the rubbish quality of my camera (sorry about that). What a fantastic result though - clean as a whistle!
The Vanish Stain Removers
are currently £4.60 per 500 g tub in Tesco, but - seeing the results for myself - I feel they are definitely value for money. I am going to keep my eyes out for when they are on offer and stock up - ha ha!
I have also heard that some people have had problems with some fabrics fading, but Vanish do recommend spot testing new fabrics first.
I won't be using the stain removers in every wash, but I am going to be using the crystal white regularly now with Katie's socks and try and do one heavy soil wash a week for the sports trousers etc.
** ** ** ** ** Disclaimer:I received two tubs of Vanish Stain Remover free of charge. All words and opinions are my own. Credit is given to my lovely, mucky children for helping with the stains!
Joseph plays for two football teams - although in September he will have to choose one! This is his proud moment on receiving his medal at his football presentation yesterday!
For the past two days Joseph has been holed up in his room, door shut focusing on a project. We have heard screaming, banging and throwing noises.
It turns out he had opened a Lego box that he got for Christmas and was building it all by himself.
An extremely happy boy emerged today, proudly showing off his creation...
I have it. The block. THE
block. You know, the one writers get? .. though I wouldn't class myself as a writer
per se, but there you go!
I have had two busy weeks with a bank holiday
squished in there somewhere, along with the safe (thank goodness) arrival of another gorgeous nephew. A bit of a whopper at 10 lb 2 oz, making my eyes water at the very thought and I take my hat off to my sister-in-law for that one!
There has been football training, lacrosse training, the start of Joseph's football league and the odd bits of over-time thrown in. Daddy on the Edge's company is in the middle of their 'May Sale', so he hasn't been getting home until late.
The tooth fairy was called upon last night as Katie - much to Joseph's disgust - lost another
tooth (he has yet to lose his first).
I have hurtled up to the High School to hand in - a rather late - uniform order form. The lady was lovely and explained that the packs were sent out later than anticipated and not to take any notice of the deadline ... Hmm. I have been grown up about this piece of information and passed it onto the Junior school so they can cascade to other - probably panicking - parents.
I have bread in the oven and cakes to go in, meal planning is going well - it's a flippin 5 week month for pay, just to finish me off! I'm down to one piece of steak, some frozen peas and the ice packs again. Time to batch cook and stock up I think.
Oh yes, have you read my bedtime story
? It was inspired by the night that Joseph was scared witless
So, whilst the measure of my chaotic two weeks can be seen by looking at the size of my ironing pile, it hasn't really provided me with any writing material. Well, it has .. but I didn't make notes and now I've forgotten what I was going to blog about!
Never mind, my ironing pile is neatly stacked and now reaches my waist, so - for today anyway - that's my next job!
A bedtime story ...
It was a cold, rainy night and Joseph was getting ready for bed. He had drank all his milk, washed his face and had remembered to brush his teeth. Just as he was about to go upstairs, Mummy heard a cry.
"AAAARGH! Mummy, come quick!" he cried. "There is a huge monster in the house!"
"What does this monster look like?" asked Mummy, a little bit out of breath from running.
"I-I-I-I-It has really big feet and lots and lots of legs," Joseph sniffed.
"Anything else?" asked Mummy.
"Er… it has long pointy teeth and enormous eyes!"
"Goodness me," said Mummy. "That does sound a scary monster."
"Yes," sniffed Joseph, who was feeling a bit braver now. "I'm sure it was growling too!"
Mummy smiled. "Did it have a little body and very long, hairy legs?"
Joseph nodded. "Yes, I think so.”
"And did you see all of his eyes?" asked Mummy.
"Yes, yes!" cried Joseph.
Mummy laughed loudly. "Well," she said, "I think I know who you met. His name is Harry and he lives in a little hole behind the shoe rack. Sometimes, when I am cleaning, he pops his head out to say hello.”
Joseph was quiet. Surely, he thought, if Mummy wasn't scared, Harry must be a very friendly monster. "What type of monster is Harry?" he asked.
Mummy smiled. "Harry is not a monster. He is called a wolf spider. He likes to come into our house at night time when it starts to get cold outside. He has lots of legs and can't find any warm trousers to fit him!"
Joseph giggled. He thought it would be very funny to see a spider wearing trousers!
"Do you feel better now Joseph?" asked Mummy. "Do you think you are brave enough to go back to see Harry?"
Joseph thought for a minute, "I-I-I might feel brave enough... but only if I can bring Teddy!"
"Of course you can," smiled Mummy. "Let's go and find him".
It took a while to find Teddy as he was being very naughty, hiding under the bed. "Come on Teddy," said Joseph. "Mummy is taking us to meet Harry."
"Where did you see him?" asked Mummy.
"Over there, by the bottom stair."
Mummy looked, but could not see Harry. They looked under the shoe rack and behind the coats. Still no Harry.
"Where do you think he is?" asked Joseph.
"I wonder whether you have frightened him, just like he frightened you," said Mummy. "Where would you go if you were scared?"
Joseph looked at Teddy. "Home!” he cried, then raced back to the hole behind the shoe rack.
"Shh," whispered Joseph. "Here he comes."
Joseph stayed close to Mummy and Teddy and together they all watched as Harry, very slowly, came out of his little hole.
"Hello Harry," Joseph whispered. "I'm sorry I screamed before, but you made me jump!"
"I made you jump?" replied Harry, who was wearing a very smart black top hat. "But you are so big and I am so little. I can't hurt you!"
Joseph smiled. "I know that now. Mummy has told me all about you. Teddy and I are not afraid of you anymore. Would you like to come and see my bedroom?"
"No way!" shouted Harry, looking worried. "I've seen your bedroom before and you've got a tiger in there!" And with that, Harry waved two of his eight legs, lifted his hat with another and ran back into his house.
Joseph grinned. He knew that the tiger wasn't real – it was just a cuddly toy.
"That was awesome Mummy! It's great to have a spider as a friend!"
"Yes," said Mummy, "but now it is bedtime, so up the stairs we go.”
Joseph climbed into bed and hugged Teddy tightly. "Thanks for coming to meet Harry tonight," he whispered.
As Joseph's eyes closed and he drifted off to sleep, he dreamed of a land where all spiders wore roller skates and had stripy pyjama bottoms....
With the Bank Holiday - weirdly - bringing warm weather, my two decided that it was the perfect
day to do some of activities on the National Trust list of 'things to do before you are 11 3/4
They actually tried to squidge in, as many things as possible, into the one day "just in case it is not sunny for a looooong time Mummy" Hmm, they had a point there!
Our activities included:
- climbing a tree
- rolling down hills
- trying to skim a stone
- we didn't catch a fish in a net (but managed a tadpole in an icecream tub!)
- tried to dam a stream
- played pooh sticks
- walked around barefoot - much to Daddy-on-the-Edge's disgust!
- didn't find frogspawn, but caught a tadpole...
I don't think we did too bad actually, We have printed off pictures of all the activities so they can be stuck into their scrapbooks!
Have you managed to tick off any challenges on your sheets yet?
I used to have a garden with grass.....!
I put an extremely giddy 6 year old to bed last night, only to be woken by a sleepy, but excited 7 year old - far too early at 5.50 am! I did manage to keep him inside until 7 am when it all became too much and he went outside to play football. All was well until a cry went up.. "Muuuuum! it's not fair - it's raining aaaaand it's my birthday!"Fear not dear readers, for rain does NOT stop play in this house!
Today is the day I've been dreading, but now it's here - well, it's not that bad. The snow that I prayed for didn't arrive, nor did the hailstone downfall, but I suppose you can't have everything you ask for can you?
As you know Katie plays lacrosse and today is her end of season presentation evening. The presentation is preceded by a kids v adults lacrosse match which I accidentally - ahem - agreed to play in. Yeah, good one eh?
I have been helping Katie practise since she joined the club in October, and as a result, I am not totally rubbish. As she has been getting better at catching, we have worked on defending strategies and checking, switching hands and passing. This seems to have helped me a bit too - result!
Looking back to 2011, I struggled walking to and from school (5 minutes away) and the thought of even practising with Katie would have filled me with total horror. However, here I am 2 years down the line, nearly 5 stone lighter, a runner (kind of a joggy hobble really) and bags of energy - I am slightly worried, but kind of excited too!
This will be the first time I've participated in a team sport since school sports lessons, around .. errm .. oh blimey .. 23 years ago! My participation in school sports was sporadic at best - give me an excuse and I was outta there! A faked trapped finger in the desk meant a visit to the nurse, strapped up fingers and a note for the pe teacher.
When I mentioned to Katie this morning that I was a little bit worried, she smiled reassuringly and said "Oh, coach said you will be marking me! Forgot to tell you that bit - we will be blocking each other" cue a HUGE smile of relief from me.
After all those rainy passing sessions whilst Joseph played football, the relentless throwing at different angles to improve her catching skills and the shoving that goes hand-in-hand with defending training - I know my girl.
A little smile played on my lips and I hugged myself inwardly, as I remember that actually, I'm not totally rubbish and after all that practise with my girl, I can sooo whoop her backside!!
Watch it be rained off.....