Archive for January, 2012

This week’s Listography is asking us to list our Top 5 favourite websites. As the internet is to me what cigarettes is to a chain smoker, I’m going to find this quite hard to narrow down!

After saying that though, there are only a handful of sites that I log into usually daily and without thinking.

Top of the list is going to be…




I never used to ‘get’ Twitter. Until I started following writing/blog type peeps and uncovered a whole new world of writing opportunities and blogs out there that I had been currently oblivious to.

Also great for breaking news and getting it as and when it happens.



Well, this one is an obvious being a wordpress blogger. I’ll log in most days to see what’s what, see if I’ve got any new comments to reply to and hopefully post something new!



Another site I regularly log on to, and I can usually be found being my usual opinionated self over there. Note to self – stick to the local boards and the ‘what’s on’ listings.

(It’s also great for finding what’s on in your area, and has a great bloggers network. Although the bloggers forum is always very quiet.)



Yes, I frequent both boards. Just don’t tell them or they’ll start lobbing Greggs sausage rolls or biscuits at me. :-)

Mumsnet has a very active bloggers network where you can add your blog, and a heavily frequented blog forum to ask questions.

Not a site I ever really post on, but great just to have a laugh at the “Am I Being Unreasonable?” boards.

They’re crazy on there (albeit bloody hilarious.)


Daily Mail

Shhh. Yes, I read the Daily Mail website daily. Great for catching up with the news and the sleb gossip. Well, I spend a small fortune on  newspapers and magazines as it is, so I read a few online as well to save money!


So they’re my 5 websites. To see what others go to, and to see if you can find any new ones you’ve never heard of, visit http://katetakes5.blogspot.com/2012/01/listography-top-5-websites.html


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As a born and bred Northerner, I’m going to wax lyrical about one of the prettiest and most historical cities Britain has to offer -




Never mind the main streets like Coney Street and its high street chains, if you are visiting York see it properly – take yourself down the old fashioned, cobbled streets such as the Shambles dating back to the 1400’s for a multitude of specialist shops and bakeries.

Take a walk along the City Walls, where you can see sights such as the historic York Minster. Don’t forget to explore down all the little snickleways  too… you never know what you’ll find…




There’s so much more I could say about York, but being confined to 80 words I’ll have to stop there!

To explore other cities of the world, visit http://sahdandproud.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/around-the-world-in-80-words/ and see other entries.


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According to a study by the Virginia Tech Carilion Research team, women feel intimidated and cowed by their friends and their collective intelligence, so we automatically lose a few IQ points and are only capable of discussing telly programmes and schools.

Apparently, according to one columnist, there is also the dilemma of what to wear and the etiquette of behaviour at dinner parties to also take into consideration.

Do most women even do dinner parties any more? I know I don’t here. On the rare occasion that we do have a child free night and are free to hold impromptu soirees for our friends, it’s a case of I don’t care what you’re wearing, as long as you’re not a baby covered in drool  or under the age of 18, you could arrive in your mum’s old curtains for all I care.

Dinner parties here are a case of arrive, be plied with wine or lager depending on your preference and be served your food. The last one we held was a Mexican night, where we served nacho type starters, with fajitas and chilli con carne for the mains.

(This being one of the few times we do actually cook a meal for guests. Usually it’s a case of “whoohoo! Let’s go to the pub just because we CAN, get bladdered and go to the local kebab shop on the way home for food! Yay!” ….)

At the inviting round for a meal though, never mind only talking about schools, what has been on telly that weekend or whatever, if we have dropped a few IQ points round the dinner table it’s usually down to the amount of wine that has been supped and we’re incapable of proper speech any more.

It wouldn’t be a dinner party if there wasn’t some inane drunken babbling going on somewhere.

Forget all the etiquette and ‘how should I behave in front of my peers’ nonsense. Chuck a few glasses of wine down your neck and you won’t care whether it’s ‘terribly bad form’ to hoover all the pistachio nut nibbles up…..


dinner party article here


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Whether children are toddlers or slightly older, you should never be too old for a bit of bed-time story telling.

It does seem to become a bit ‘uncool’ at some point though. Or at least it seems to be in my 8 year old’s class.

When I was in his classroom the other morning, and he hadn’t quite finished his reading book, I jokingly said “Never mind, you can read it before going to bed for your bedtime story!”

To which one of his classmates (with apparently supersonic hearing) piped up incredibly – “Does he have a bedtime story? I’ve never had a bedtime story, not ever.”

To which others chimed in ‘me neither, I don’t get stories.”

The 8 year old now shooting me daggers for buggering up his so called street cred and saying “No! I don’t get bedtime stories!” Complete with rolling eyes.

(You could just see he wanted to add on to the end of that sentence “Shut up Mother. Stop EMBARRASSING me. You are SO unfair.”)

Now just what is wrong with a bit of story telling? I find it quite sad that out of a whole table of children each and every one looked incredulous at the idea of a bedtime story at the age of 8.

Bedtime stories are great. Not only does the act of reading with your child create something nice you can do together, reading a book is a nice wind down activity that gets them ready for bed.

He’s too old for me to be reading to him now, and 9 times out of 10 he will read his books out loud to me, but that’s also good as it practices his reading and I get to be read to for once! :-)

Then occasionally he’ll forget how old he is and just want his mum or dad to read him a bedtime story….aaahh….

So however old your little one, take some time out to read books with them. They might see it as a pleasant surprise if it is something you don’t do regularly.

These are our favourite bedtime books at the moment -

Bedtime stories for any age children (yes even the pretending to be too old and cool ones!)

The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr

Now this is an old classic that I remember loving when I was small, and now mine love it too. Little Sophie is just about to have her tea with her mummy when there’s a knock at the door – it’s a big Tiger who wants to join them for tea!




Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper

Three little friends, the Cat, the Squirrel and the Duck, all living together and get together every evening to make pumpkin soup – the best you ever tasted.

Until one night Duck decides HE wants to make it and do it differently and they all end up having a squabble and someone stomps off…





Where’s My Cow? by Terry Pratchett

“Where’s My Cow? Is That My Cow?!  HRRRUUUUGGGH!!!! That’s not my Cow! That’s a hippopotamus!”

A great book that will cause much hilarity, especially when it’s Dad reading it and doing all the daft sound effects. Causing MUCH hilarity.

So not one to read to them just before bed if they’re already hyper and giddy. :-)

Excellent nonetheless.




Do you read bedtime stories to your children? Or are they at an age where they are ‘uncool?’ (Or at least an age where they pretend bedtime stories are uncool in public but secretly love them?!)

Share your children’s bedtime stories here, you never know, we might all stumble across a new favourite to add to the collection…

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Ok,this week’s Listography is going to do nothing for my diet as it’s making me want some yummy biscuits to dunk in my tea.

So look away now if you’re currently trying to be a biscuit dodger.

Either that or sit and drool with longing.


Crunch Creams


Two biscuits in one with yummy stuff sandwiching them together. Mmm.


Hob Nob


Now you can’t have a list of best ever biscuits without the Hob Nob making an appearance. As Peter Kay famously pointed out, they are THE King of all Biscuit Dunkers, they’re like the biscuit version of Action Man going in for another dunk and they still stay intact.

While slurping up your tea with it.  “Where’s me brew gone?!’ :-)


Custard Cream


This one I’ve chosen for pure nostalgia value. One of the childhood staple biscuits when I was little. One was never enough, you always wanted more.


Bourbon chocolate biscuit



Chocolate biscuit, with a chocolate cream middle, sandwiching it together with another chocolate biscuit. Chocolatey heaven.


Iced Gems


Any self respecting child’s birthday party had little bags of these on the table. Still about nowadays, and get for the children’s birthday parties. Well, they’ll have to fight me for them. :-)


Right. I’m off for a cup of tea, and will try not to think too much about biscuits.

To see what other biscuits make the top of people’s lists, head over to http://katetakes5.blogspot.com/2012/01/listogaphy-top-5-biscuits.html



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This is my first time joining in with the ‘Reasons To Be Cheerful’ posts, and as it is a cold, drizzly day I thought a dose of cheerfulness would brighten it up a bit.

- It’s Friday. That means there’s no trek to school in the morning, no packed lunches to make, no uniforms to get ready, or bookbags to find.

Instead we can get up when we like and be in no rush to be anywhere.

(Although I can guarantee they’ll still be wide awake at 6am though.) Ah well, the thought of not having to be dressed and out of the house for 8.15am is reason to be cheery in itself.


- The local card shop has a big Yankee Candle sale, so today I have treated myself to a Midnight Jasmine Yankee Candle, and a Fluffy Towels one.

Well, at £1.30 it would be daft not to. Not to mention the two little tartlets I bought the other day, cinnamon stick and Christmas Rose. 59p?! Yes please.

So later on I’ll be burning my Midnight one while maybe watching a dvd. Bliss.


- Both munchkins have done well at school this week, 8 year old has been doing lessons that he likes, and doing well in them, and 4 year old has received a ‘smiley face’ award in class today.


- I enjoy writing for fun, so this week has been quite productive on the writing front as I’ve written a few blog posts and also a short story.

So that has made me feel cheery.


- Plus the full English pub breakfast I went for this morning for a gossip and get together always puts me in a good mood.

Roll on the next one! :-)

Other’s Reason’s To Be Cheerful can be found over here http://mdplife.blogspot.com/2012/01/bloggy-reasons-to-be-cheerful-year-2.html

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The last time we had a weekend away without the kids, I sat bolt upright in bed in the middle of the night in a panic, frantically lifting up the duvet and checking under the bed.

Me – “The baby! I’ve lost the baby, where’s he gone?!”

Husband – “He’s 200 miles away, safely asleep at his grandparents house. Go back to sleep, you daft mare.”

Oops. Well, in my defence it was the first time I’d been away from him since he had been born, there’d always been baby’s constant presence 24/7.

Being by myself? It was an alien concept!

As it’s my birthday in a few months, my thoughts have turned to going away for a night somewhere.

I’m not taking the kids though. Sorry kids, you’re not invited. Not after my birthday last year when we had the bright idea of staying in a hotel with them, aged 7 and 3 and all cramped up in the same room.

It sounded lovely in theory. A nice, relaxing weekend as a family, in a nice seaside hotel and walks along the seafront.

I was really looking forward to it.

The breeze blowing in our hair as we strolled, eating fish and chips and listening to the seagulls circling overhead.

Then came the reality.

One single room, with a double bed and a bunk bed in it and the bathroom.

Short of shutting yourself in the bathroom and going to sleep in the tub, there was no getting away.

Far too hyped up on the fact they were at the seaside and we were all in the same room, there was much screeching, bed boinging, winding each other up and generally being little so and so’s.

We’d have took them out to some family restaurant type place, but there was nothing open. So the hotel room it was.

The hotel bar looked enticing, but alas with two children at that time of night it wasn’t suitable and we wouldn’t have been welcome anyway. Pfft.

Trying to take them out during the day was a chore in itself.

“Do we HAVE to walk?!” (the beach was literally 5 minutes away.)

“Carry meeeee!” “Mummeeeee!!!” (we’d only just stepped out of the bleedin’ hotel at this point.)

They were even told to try to go to the toilet before setting off on the long 5 minute trek to the beach.

You’d still get the plaintive cry of “I need a weeeeeee!” the minute you set foot on the beach. Aaaaaargh!

So this year for my birthday, I want a nice relaxing, grown up weekend away as I honestly don’t think me and the husband have had one, just us, that is, for nearly 9 years now.

I want a hotel room that is just for us, and a welcoming hotel bar downstairs that after a day’s exploring we can sink into the sofas with our glass of wine and pint of beer safe in the knowledge that we only have ourselves to answer to for that night, and they are having a great time at Nanna and Grandad’s house.

A little bit of me time/us time for my birthday, and then they’ll get their holiday this year as well when they can run around like giddy kippers to the tune of the Tiger Club and dance themselves silly with Rory the Tiger when we go to Haven.

Let’s just hope I don’t wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night wondering why the room is so quiet…. :-)








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As my eldest turns 9 this year, it’s got me thinking exactly what we should be expecting our children to do at that age for themselves.

I’m not talking about sending him up chimneys to earn his keep (although, thinking about it, that might not be a bad idea…… ) but the kind of things he should be doing more himself.

I mean, at that age, I was walking to primary school and back by myself every day as it was only a 5 minute walk away and was in a small village, but here it’s a mile walk each way with a walk near the town centre and very busy roads.

So he hasn’t done that yet as it is just too far.

When it comes to home, I’m expecting him to do more and more though. He’s perfectly capable of getting his own breakfast if he gets up before me, and sorting out his own cereal and milk.

His local Cubs pack opened my eyes to how much more he could be doing at home as well when the other week he had to cook a meal at home for us all to eat as part of a badge they were working towards.

He’d never done that before, either.

(He does make a pretty mean spaghetti bolognese if we let him, it turns out.) He really enjoyed being allowed to chop all the vegetables up to put into the sauce, as it happens. (With us watching over him of course.)

As for the washing up? Nope, he wasn’t so impressed with that.

Me and his Dad thought it was great, though.

“You’ve missed a bit!”

“Ooh, look. I’ve found you another teacup to wash up…”


So what did/do yours do at that age in the way of helping out around the house and also in going out?

Do they go to the shops by themselves? School?

Do you think I’ll get away with sticking him up the chimney? No?! Oh well, I’ll have to think of something else then….




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This week’s Listography is asking us to share our top 5 tips for bloggers, so here’s mine.

Write for yourself, and not for anyone else

Don’t start thinking about what you ‘should’ be writing, what people are going to think, or write controversial topics just to create more visits to your blog.

If you’re writing about something you feel passionate about, or a subject you feel familiar and comfortable with, the words will flow easier.

I know I always write best when it’s coming from the heart.

Join Twitter

Twitter is GREAT for bloggers. I did have Twitter before I started blogging, but was one of those who had never tweeted and didn’t even know what I was supposed to be doing on there.

Then I started a blog, so for want of something to follow as opposed to the odd random celebrity, I decided to follow a few people with blogs themselves so I had something to read and do on there.

This opened up a whole new world on Twitter and introduced me to the massive blogosphere out there that until then, I had absolutely no idea existed.

People with interesting blogs, as well as a whole new audience for your writing, to name but a few perks.

You can also follow writing peeps who tweet how to improve your writing, and exercises etc.

Now you can hardly drag me off Twitter!

Visit other blogs and comment

Let people know that you are out ‘there.’ Don’t just randomly comment if you have nothing to say, but if you see a post you can identify with, or can add a witty comment or something to, do it.

People like to see comments, it shows that people are reading your blog and enjoying what they have read.

Who knows, they might even visit yours in return…. :-)

Try and reply to people leaving comments on your blog

OK, I know it’s not possible to reply to EVERYONE, especially if there are a lot of comments.

However, it creates more of a sense of conversation and friendliness if you reply to people who have taken time out to comment.

Far better than just ignoring all the comments. That’ll just create a sense of tumbleweed blowing across the screen to the commenter, and they’ll feel like they’re talking to themselves in cyberspace – try and make them feel welcome.

Spell check, people!

Yes, I’m sorry. I’m one of those people with a stick up their bum when it comes to spelling. There is nothing that is going to turn me off your blog more than a badly written post littered with spelling mistakes.

I’m likely to read about 2 lines and click off your site and go find someone with a blog that is nicely written.

I know not everyone finds spelling easy, but in the age of spell check, it’s been made a lot easier. A well written blog is far more likely to be seen in a positive light and attract more people than one with grammatical errors and shoddy spelling.

So, that’s my Top 5 tips for bloggers.  To see more tips, visit http://katetakes5.blogspot.com/ to see what other bloggers think.

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Not content with filling our screen with vacuous airheads in such shows as The Only Way Is Essex, Made in Chelsea and Desperate Scousewives, we’re apparently about to be bombarded with yet another one called Best of Cambridge.

Which will no doubt be all about the antics of students throwing themselves about while out on the lash and getting drunk.

It’s not just these types of show that have become the norm on our reality obsessed TV screens.

We’re still subjected to the dross that is Big Brother, even though we’ve been promised for the last million years that ‘this year is THE LAST EVER one, honest!’

Um, hiding it on Channel 5 and replacing it with Brian Dowling isn’t getting rid of it, it’s just effectively putting it out to pasture yourselves. Do yourselves a favour and get rid altogether.

Even the ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ this year shows the inane obsession with reality shows this nation currently has. Apart from the odd exception to the rule such as film actor Michael Madsen, and a couple of others, this year’s bunch of non celebrities mainly comprise members of Joe Public who have been kicked off other ‘talent show’ programmes.

(Yes, such as you, Frankie Cocozza.)

Since when did getting booted off another reality show make you a celebrity? The word used to mean something at one point.

Now it seems anyone who has ever graced the small screen is allowed to call themselves a celebrity.

Get ready for a barrage of new ‘celebrities’ flooding our screens. That little old lady who was crossing the road in the background of the report in News at Ten? Yep, her and her handbag are now famous.

That’s how ludicrous it is all becoming.

Let’s can all this cheap entertainment where TV crews are desperately trawling cities for new fame hungry desperados/weirdos and bring back some PROPER telly.



You know, the kind of TV that actually has proper, talented people at the helm of the shows, in funny roles. Back when being a celebrity actually MEANT something.

Not where you can be ‘famous’ and a role model for making a prize tit of yourself on national TV.


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