Posted on Leave a comment

Staying Safe at Christmas

We shouldn’t really have to say this, should we?  Only we do….

Fire kills, and Christmas is really a time where we roll out decorations and lights for trees, that we use rarely, then bundle them up and squish them back into the decorations box until the next year.


There are lots of hidden dangers around Christmas, and for this year, I wanted to highlight the main ones for my readers.

Christmas Lights Safety Checklist

  • Only buy lights with the British Kitemark.
  • Buy from a respected source, ie a large chair or reliable name.  Do not buy lights second-hand, or from a dodgy bloke in a pub.  You have been warned.
  • If your lights are a few years old, treat yourself to new ones if you can.
  • Before adding your lights to your lovely new tree, check each one for signs of damage and change bulbs if needed.  If the cables are worn, replace the lights.
  • Switch OFF the electric before removing or adding a new bulb.
  • Use a surge protector.
  • Don’t use indoor only lights for wrapping around the top of your garage outside etc.  Keep indoor lights for indoor only.
  • Watch out for the trip hazard that cables along floors can create.
  • Switch off the lights when you go to bed, or when you go out.
  • Christmas lights are not toys, neither are the fibre optic trains and santa sleigh’s out there.  Don’t let your kids play with them.

Christmas Fire Awareness

  • Extinguish candles before you go out, and before you leave the house.  Candles really shouldn’t be left unattended at any time.  When you have them lit, make sure they are out of drafts and away from soft furnishings and curtains.  Keep candles, lighters and matches out of the reach of children.
  • Keep decorations well away from heaters, fans and lights.  It’s tempting to hand a star from a chandelier, but just don’t do it.  Don’t.
  • No matter how tempting it is, don’t put on your Christmas dinner, then leave the house.  Cooking needs to be kept watch over.  Kitchens are dangerous places.  Keep dish towels away from hobs and hot ovens.
  • Check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.  Are they working correctly?  If not, replace them, or change the batteries until they are.
  • Do not, and I repeat, do not, overload sockets.  With all those new gadgets and whole families in one house, all eager to charge them, stop and think… it worth the risk?
  • Be careful with Christmas costumes.  Some materials are very flammable and can catch alight easily.  Know what fabric you are wearing and your risks.  Making a stir fry using an open flame on a hob, but wearing a flammable material, is a recipe for disaster.

If you can think of others I’ve missed, please add them in the comments.





Posted on Leave a comment

Reviews: Christmas Suggestions For Mums

We all end up wondering what to buy mums for Christmas, especially if we don’t have hundreds of pounds to spend on something nice that she’d like.  Here are some of my favourites of the things I’ve had to try for this festive season.  I’d be tickled pink to get these as a present too.



I’m a right candle fan, and when I want something a little special to give as a gift, I always head for a branded one, and they don’t come much better than the Yankee Candle Brand.  Scents are sharp and gorgeous, even to the point of being scrummy enough to eat when they’re of the fruity variety, which is one of my favourites, along with spicy delights.

Yankee CandlesYankee Candles 2I received one of their Advent House in the Snow products, which includes a gorgeous tealight for each day of December, and a lovely votive for the 24th.  Scents included Candy Cane Lane, the new Bundle UP, the new Winter Glow, Spiced Orange, Snowflake Cookie, Icicles, and the lovely Christmas Even votive.  I really love this idea.

Of course, I couldn’t wait for December to give it a try and let you see what I received.  Candles are a staple of mine, so this was always going to be popular.

As a present, I’d buy one of many different things from the range of goodies on offer at this time of year.  Even our local chemist is stocking them, and the smells are fabulous every time I need to visit.   I’ve become quite a fan of their reed diffuser sets recently too, as they seem to last longer than other ones  I’ve used in the past.   There are gift sets galore to choose from, or you could even just buy some votives or tealights and wrap them up in a gorgeous cellophane bag with some ribbon.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Rock Rose Gin

Some of you might not have heard of it, but Rock Rose Gin is handcrafted Scottish Gin.   A little gift box would go down a treat with the mums who like a wee tipple, on it’s own, with some mixers, or even as an ingredient in punch or cooking.   It’s well suited to simply being served with lots of ice, and my sample box may well be my yearly tipple on Hogmanay night this year.   It’s a hand crafted gin, created by an infusion of local and traditional botanicals, by Martin and Claire, and took many experiments to get it tasting just right.

Rock Rose Gin 2 The gin even has its own still, called Elizabeth, which was designed exclusively to make the Rock Rose Gin.  It has a handmade copper head and a botanical vapour basket.   The gin is made in small batches, to make sure the quality is carefully maintained.  Each bottle is also hand waxed and signed by the distiller.

The rose comes from a botannical forage along the Pentland Firth cliffs, where the Dunnet Bay Distillery was introduced to Rhodiola rosea, or “The rose in the rocks!”

According to Martin and Claire of the Distillery, Vikings would harvest the cliffs for Rhodiola rosea as they thought it would give them extra strength for long and difficult journeys.  What a fabulous story to base a unique taste from in the Highlands of Scotland.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Speciality Condiments/Preserves and Chocolate

Speciality condiments were hiterto unknown to me before beginning blogging.  I didn’t know a value version from a good quality, but I know better now.  There are a lot of good brands out there, and Fortnum and Mason are one of those brands with good taste in developing and creating exquisite tastes for Christmas Food.  If I were buying some of these products for a gift, I’d probably put them in a basket and wrap it with cellophane and tie off with ribbon, for an extra special gift.

Fortnum and Mason let me have some of their samples for Christmas this year.   They’ve got some lovely Christmas food on the go, and I’d like to try some more.

The first thing to be opened here was the Spiced Chocolate.

Fortnum and Mason Christmas Spiced Chocolate

Fortnum and Mason Spicy Chocolate

Actually, the first thing I thought of when I read spiced chocolate, was how horrible it must be.  I shared it with my mum and one of her carers, who promptly said it was lovely and was definitenly getting some of it for xmas.  I have to admit, I really rather liked the slightly spicy but very subtle taste of the rich and creamy chocolate.  Sadly, I went online to look for it, and it seems to only be in the hampers.  Hopefully it is still on the list to come into stock for December, as I’d like to give a couple of bars to her as a Christmas present from my mum.

Other goodies I liked were:

  • Bucks Fizz Marmalade
  • Christmas Mulled Wine Jelly Preserve with Edible Gold Leaf is going to be my party piece on Xmas day at the table.  How cool for the kids to go back to school and tell everyone that they ate real gold….

We haven’t tried the Christmas Mustard as yet.  Mustard isn’t a thing that we’re terribly fond of, so it will go to a very good home, and to someone who really appreciates a good jar of the yellow stuff.

Fortnum and Mason Bucks Fizz Marmalade

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



Doesn’t almost everyone enjoy a cookbook?  I think most of us do, even if we don’t admit it.  I’ve had some lovely books in the past, including the newest Jamie Oliver Superfood, and Ma Broons Cooking with Bairns.

New for this year, is The Social Bite Cookbook.

Social Bite Cookbook 3

It’s a fabulous concept, created from stories and recipes from formerly homeless people who have turned into chefs.

(Affiliate Link)

With an endorsement from Bob Geldof, a foreword from Chris Hoy, and chefs who’ve cooked for George Clooney, the book is a little delight, and 50% of all profits go to help the homeless, but it doesn’t stop there…oh no, the menu is created by Michelin star chef Mike Mathieson, and a whole 100% of the profits – yes, all of them, are given to good causes.

The Social Bite is a social enterprise, which trains and employs formerly homeless people to also work in their cafe’s. They also feed the local homeless community through their suspended coffee and food initiative.

The whole point of the cookbook, as a social enterprise, is that has a diverse menu, that is also affordable to cook.  I know I’ve had cookbooks in the past where there was no way I could afford to buy all the ingredients and cook that way on a daily basis, but this book isn’t like that.

Social Bite CookbookThe premise is simple.  Actually it’s one that I really agree with on a regular basis.  There is a section which includes only five ingredients, lunches, one pot wonders, main meals and sweet treats.

Some tasty recipes include:

  • Caramelised apple and pear upside down cake.
  • John’s emergency cheese cake.   I have to mention this, as I make my own, almost exactly like this and it’s a doddle.
  • Chicken with mozarella and parma ham.
  • Creamy garlic chicken.
  • One pot wonder: Michael’s Jamaican stew.
  • Black bean salad.
  • Jerk port chops with roasted butternut squash.
Posted on Leave a comment

Christmas Delivery Dates Calendar

This is a thoughtful and helpful feature from Castle Cover.  They have built a delivery dates calendar for us all to use.

If you’re not sure when the Christmas Delivery Dates are, then just take a look at the interactive pages on their website and it will help you make the right decisions about those last-minute presents you are hoping to buy.

Clicking on the Delivery Calendar image takes you to their website, were you can check the last posting dates of different types of items and some high street stores.  Don’t waste any time as we are reaching the end of the road for buying our late goodies.

Castle Cover



Posted on 3 Comments

“Flooer wi a Wish” New Year Doric Poem for all my friends with the English Translation

Fir a oor freens fae ower e warld               (For all our friends, all over the world)

Fir abody wi ken                                                         (For everyone we know)
Ah’m wishin ye a gran new year                (I’m wishing you all a great New Year)
Oor freens are a wi hiv                                             (Our friends are all we have)

Lets nae tak ony crabbit fash                       (Lets not take any bad tempered worries)
Tae come ower us a nixt year                               (To come with us for next year)
Sae shak oor hauns wi pride                                   (So shake our hands with pride)
An forgie wi bleeting heart                                  (And forgive with a talkative heart)

Hud yer wheest, an quaitely prov                    (Stay quiet, and quietly prove)
We a agree tae brig e past                               (We all agree to bridge over the past)
Fir e need tae hae freens new an auld       (For the need to have friends new and old)
Is wi us a fae birth tae dree us a                  (Is with us from birth for us all to endure)

Sae here’s a flooer, wi a wiss                                (So here’s a flower, with a wish)
Fae me tae yous the day                                           (From me to you all today)
Nae matter far wi kep or r gaun                        (No matter where we met, or go)
Is grand tae hae ye near.                                          (Is good to have you close)

A birsle tae ane an a                                                      (A toast to one and all)

Image: luigi diamanti /

Posted on 14 Comments

Christmas and New Year – The Reality

 Image: Idea go /

I don’t like my life.  I am not ashamed of that, but I do appreciate it is difficult for some people to hear or identify with.    And this may be an uncomfortable post for some to read, both for those with and without children who have disabilities, but it shouldn’t be hidden away.  In the way that mothers talk about potty training, weaning and breastfeeding in mainstream conversations, so should special needs parents and carers be able to talk about their issues.

I also suspect that there are many thousands of people out there who don’t like their lives for many different reasons, whether it be work, partners, parents, money limitations etc.  There are many people who pretend that they have amazing lives, or are happy with what they have to save face with other people. 

There are others who would possibly thrive in a situation like mine, but as a general rule, us mums (and also read dads when I say mums) of behaviourally challenged and brain damaged children tend to struggle.   Especially when having to also give up good careers and decent money to struggle instead, due to difficulties getting child care.  It’s a common issue for parents and carers of many disabled children and adults across all disabilities.

I certainly don’t dislike ALL of my life, but there are huge portions that are difficult to live with at any given time.  I don’t feel sorry for myself though, even though I find it difficult at times, so I guess that is the difference between coping and not coping, but at times I will have a vulnerable moment and the cracks will show. 

Back to Christmas.  It’s true wherever we go, that people who ask us if we had a good Christmas, or New Year (or holiday for that matter), are not really asking us how it went.    There are the exceptions, such as close friends or family who are part of your daily / weekly / yearly cycle of discussion and sharing of life.  I am not talking about those people.  I am talking about the people who you stop and speak to on the dog walk, on the shopping trip, on the school run, neighbours, and acquaintances that make up the most of our daily lives.

We all know how it goes.  We walk past someone, we may nod and say hello, or if we have time, we’ll stop and pass some time with a sentence or few of how life is going, what the children have been up to, holiday plans etc etc.  Some of you may even join the coffee mornings or lunch time get togethers that playgroup, ante natal class,  and creche mums often begin.

I didn’t belong to any of those groups for long.  I have a special needs child with behavioural problems.  None of those groups in my area liked the children who don’t behave in the manner that they deem “appropriate”.   That left me and many others without the usual toddler groups moving on to playgroups, and school, that begins to create those wonderful friendships that can last for a lifetime.  My boys won’t ever have those friendships as they have a special needs brother with behavioural problems.   Other parents don’t want their children to learn “inappropriate” behaviour.”

I have changed that for me.  We now belong to and help run a club that accepts special needs children and their brothers and sisters together.  It is also an excuse for mums and dads to make new friendships, and be able to talk about the issues that we can’t talk about with the people in our everyday lives. 

This group has been my saving grace.  When the going is tough and I am being punched and sworn at, or kicks are being aimed at my head by a child who has lost control of the functions of his brain.   When the meltdown has lasted most of the day without a break, and the other children who cannot cope with it are also starting to play up as they are getting no attention due to the fact that son no1 is taking up all my time, I can think of the release I can have by telling someone who actually understands what has gone on and how that makes me feel inside, truthfully.

People who do not live like this have no idea what is happening in homes up and down the country.  These sheltered people, for whom a toddler tantrum, some tweenage backchat, or a teenage outburst are the worst that they have ever come across.     An adult abusing another adult would lead to many interventions being offered, with safehouses, and assistance to leave an abusive partner.  For mums, there is nothing.

My child is not yet old enough to cause significant damage, as I still have a weight advantage over him, I can still stop him.  I see many women with children bigger than mine who have no way of stopping the carnage that they live within, no matter how many behavioural therapists are thrown at them.  These children do not respond to sticker charts, sweetie rewards, or monetary bribing.  Their brains tell them that they are the centre of the world, and  just want their own way and will do whatever it takes to get it.  Anyone standing in their way better watch out.  These are not the spoiled chldren of the world, but simply the ones not coping with the world around them.  Some will work it out and settle, others never will.

I am not yet sure of what the future holds for me as a mother and my son as a child.  He may continue to attack me when I am no longer able to stop him.  I cannot think about that yet, and I am fighting for his place in our social system to try and ensure the help is there when it is needed, but with the cuts to services of vulnerable people, I don’t hold out much hope of how it may end up, and how we, as a family may end up.  Again I can’t think about that yet, it is too far ahead for me.

I don’t see why so many of us living like this (and there ARE MANY MANY) should have to keep so quiet about it all, but we do.  En masse, we shut it away and answer something like “fine” to all of those other people in our lives.  It always makes me smile to know that we use the word fine as F = Fxxxed Up.  I = Insecure.  N  = Neurotic.  E = Emotional.  It sums it all up perfectly and people smile and nod sagely as we turn the conversation to them as a means of moving it off of having to talk about our own circumstances.

 For one year, maybe we should all try the truth.   When we are asked if we had a lovely christmas and new year, people all expect the answer to be fine, nice, quiet, busy, lots of fun etc etc, but I wonder what they would say faced with a simple “no”.  I may try that this year and see how many people I can make uncomfortable.

What prompted this blog post I hear people asking.    Well, I asked some special needs mums how their christmasses went yesterday, and the answers were completely different from the usual.    Here are some of them.

” Nightmare”
” Could have been better”
” x chased his brother with a knife, it was awful”
” I’m glad it’s over, getting through the day was a drama”

And you know what, few of them would have wished it any other way.    There are some people who say they would not change their children and that they are special the way they are, but each and every day, at some point in the day, I wish that my child could live a life like other children.   That is not being disloyal, that is wanting the best for him. 

Getting back to my life, the things that I don’t like about  my life, fortunately they are also the things that have caused what I do like  about my life.  

  1. I have three fabulous boys to tuck into their beds at night (ok they are getting too big to tuck in, but you know what I mean).
  2. I have a circle of around 10 amazing real life friends that I would never have met if it was not for my sons disability.  My pre child friends all disappeared with the advent of challenging behaviour from no 1 son.
  3. I have to force myself to be more confident and authoritative to get what I want for his health and education.
  4. Twitter and my computer is wonderful.

It’s no secret that I do like twitter.   Strangely enough, on twitter, I have also found people who understand.  Some are at the beginning of this journey, and some are at the other end, but the majority are telling the truth of how it is when they are asked.  That is a good thing.  The responses are also encouraging from the people who have “listened” into the conversations, or are joining them directly.  That is another good thing.   I have rarely felt uncomfortable on twitter talking about it.  Maybe the twitter world people are more open minded, thats also a good thing, and it’s a VERY good thing for distraction for mums and keeps us in touch with the real world that exists outside our cocoons.  This is an AMAZINGLY good thing as the isolation from other mums increases more as our behaviourally challenged children get older.

As a group, I can safely say on behalf of some of my real life friends and I, that we are not keen on being called saints, or wonderful people, or any other kind of platitude that can be used when well meaning people have no idea what to say.   We do understand why people say it, as the subject makes them uncomfortable, or they secretly think they would be able to handle it better, or they think we are exaggerating.  We are not saints, wonderful, or anything else, we just simply don’t have a choice in it, and are responsible for little lives.

It would be so refreshing for someone in real life to ask how it is, or just simply say “how do you cope?” or “is there anything I can do to help?”   Usually the first thing that comes into the mind is the most appropriate thing to say, unless you are going to complain about the behaviour you have just witnessed, and then suggest a solution – because then you may find yourself on the receiving end of a choice comment or two. 

For me, thankfully Christmas is over.  The Christmas holidays last too long as it is difficult to live a strictly regimented life at home, and supervise children every waking hour, as well as do housework and make meals.  Roll on New Year.    Hogmanay I prefer to Christmas.  No present dramas, no fighting over who got what, and the end of the dark, cold, miserable school holidays in sight. 

I love my kids, and I would fight to the death for them, but oh how I love school days…..”>

Posted on 3 Comments

“Shhhhh fir Santa” Christmas Doric Poem

It’ll seen be time fir christmas
Time fir abody tae say
Hud yer weesht, it’s gettin late
Shut them peepers at end o the day

But, seen as yer ma’s heids hits e hay
Ye teeter oot o yer covers an mair
Yer lugs wirk sae hard, they shiver
An hush as ye go, near tae at door

Creepin doon yon steps fair sleekit
Teetin roun an roun, yer een openin wi frite
Shhhhhh em bells tinkle an jinngle
Ye look thru windae panes, an clap yer haun tae yer muth

A sleigh skiffs by, unner yer nose
Wi a flash fae rudolph, winkin is een
Shh lik a moose, scurry an shimmer
Up tae yer bed, afore santa slips doon yer lum

Posted on 2 Comments

“Snow” Christmas Doric Poem

Wi thon muckle flurries, ah watch oot ma windae
Yon white draps, wi wee crystals aboot em
An ah dream o yon year, fan ah wis a quine
A lass wi a bin liner, slidin doon nigg bay slopes

We’d nowt on oor hauns, and sookit feet
The caul nivver entered intae oor heids
Thinkin back now, ah canna believe it
Ah feel the caul, jist thinkin aboot it

Ah’m stannin back, an love far ah am
Ahin me, is a fire, glowin n burnin
An the morra winna stap me, ah’m gaun oot wi the bairns
Fir an efterneen o sledgin, trussed up lik a chook

Ah’ll hae ma gloves, an ma hat oan ma heid
An them leggins wi paddin, thit keep oot the weet
Dinna forget thon bitts, wi paddin an fleecin
As ah’ll skite doon at mound, laffin and jokin

Posted on Leave a comment

Run up to Christmas

It’s getting closer and closer to Christmas. 

It’s a time of dread during the lead in time, and all the energy spent on planning and organising is immense.  We are all expected to be organised with presents and cards, and children’s nativities, plays and parties. 

I have studiously filled in the diary each time my children brought home some new note from school telling us what the next activity is.  In one weekend this month, we have three childrens parties to fit in at opposite ends of the town, and they are not parties that we can miss.  One is a birthday party for one of my sons, and the other two are for clubs that they attend during the year.  That is bad planning.

My children are at two different schools and that brings another new challenge.  Both schools are staging nativities at the same time, so I need to cut me in half for that event, or face child wrath if someone does not appear for them.  Half a frazzled mum is better than none, and the costumes have to be in by Monday  (note to self to get them ready before Sunday night).

I know I will make myself ill in the next three weeks planning and organising what is expected, and I will drop one of the balls jugging in the air somewhere, but I will not regret a single moment of it. 

Waking up on Christmas morning and seeing three happy faces, opening up presents, enjoying the moment and staying at home to enjoy their presents makes it all worth while. 

We decided long ago that we would stay at home on Christmas Day.  If anyone wants to join us, they are free to do so, but we will not accept anyone else’s invitation to go to theirs.   (If Take That send us free tickets to watch a charity concert on Christmas Day, I might just be persuaded to review that statement)

How many other people find Christmas as stressful as I do is something that freqently crosses my mind.   Maybe this year I will find out on twitter.

Posted on 1 Comment

Christmas is coming – Here we gooooooooo snow.

It’s here.  The first flush of snow.  Nothing signals the coming of Christmas quite like the first real snowfall.   This is nothing like the snow of two weeks ago that was a light dusting on the ground overnight, which was then to disappear by 10am

Today has been rip roaring lovely white snow with big flakes.  The kind of snow that is pretty to watch, and children just love to play in.  We do lots of sledging in the snow when it comes, so today is not the best day for it to happen. 

It’s a school day, and as all the children come out of school, there will be snowballs a plenty, whizzing by parents heads as they wait for their own little cherubs to come out of school.

For my own boys, It will mean that by the time they reach me, they will be soaked through to the skin.  I have two very hyperactive boys to pick up, and they will use the slope to get out of the school playground instead of the path that winds to the top (as boys do).  They will both slip many times on the way up the slope, and end up on hands and knees in the slushy snow (which by this time will be mixed in with the mud slurry that used to once be a grassy slope).

They will of course, have their jackets stuffed into their schoolbags, which will be bursting at the zips to stay closed, and their hats will be at the bottom of their bags, along with the half open, and spilling trail of a bottles of water that they are required to take to school every day, but which get used at playtimes as water pistols, or mud dubs makers.  They will, however, have managed to fish out their gloves from the other eclectic mix festering at the bottom of their schoolbags so that they can throw snowballs.

When we get home, there will be a quick change out of soaking school clothes into fresh play clothes, which will also be soaking wet half an hour later by the time son number three arrives home, and then they’ll want to go out again.  They have perfectly good salopettes in the cupboard, but think it’s not cool to wear them unless they are sledging.   More wet clothes.

There has been just enough snow for their Costco bodyboard sledges to go bombing down the big hill at the back of the house, but sadly, mum here does not have the time to take them until Friday after school.  This will be a huge #mumfail, but I’ve got the carrots out and ready for them to make this years first snowman.

And I will be the one out there throwing snowballs at my little cherubs while they roll the snow to make that snowman, before I need to get changed and go to a parent council meeting at the school.  Cue more changes of clothes.

TIme for my washing machine to really see what it is made of this year.  It’s a new one, but can it cope with a scottish winter??