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How a Soda Stream broke my addiction.

One of the things I used to do regularly was buy diet drinks.  I was totally addicted to them.  I would have a raging headache if I didn’t have any, so it was not good.  Last year, I decided that I needed to stop the ridiculous cost that I was spending monthly on drinks if I wanted any money to spend on anything else.

I was drinking up to 4 litres and sometimes more a day, and nothing else if I could help it.  Drinks also had to be super cold to be totally enjoyable, and give the breath taking feeling in the back of the throat when drinking.    All that caffeine and artificial sweetener was not doing me any good.  I had tried to stop a few times, but always gave in with the headaches and went back to my old habits.

The brand I liked, I won’t mention, but it was not easy to stop.   I had terrible headaches for about a week, and a sore throat.  I decided to stick it out, and had one or two cups of coffee a day to try and alleviate the caffeine withdrawal symptoms from such a long term caffeine habit.  Using the coffee did help, and I saved one for bedtime so that the headache would go down a little for trying to get to sleep.

I tried drinking water, which is just yeuch to me.  Ok, I know people like it, and it’s the lifegiving nectar, but I just don’t like it.  If I have to drink it, I will, but I’d rather have something flavoured.  I began to use cordials and got fed up of how boring it was.   Then I bought some bottled fizzy water and that was great with the cordials.

Carrying around lots of bottles again, nearly had me revert to picking up the brand I so desired, and on a whim, the next step was to buy a soda stream (just to try it, as you do).  I bought it when we were on holiday and it was reduced in price, so it was a bargain.

I didn’t really expect very much from it, and at first I thought it would be a flash in the pan, and believed I wouldn’t bother with it once the gas bottle ran out.  I didn’t bother with the soda stream syrups, and use the fizzy water it makes to add to lime juice and cordials.  I have even fizzed up some boring wine to make it more fun to drink.

I order enough CO2 bottles to last a few months at a time from Lakeland, and they cover the returns cost so it works out pretty cheaply now to have fizzy water on tap all the time.  The kids and Mr Scottish also use it a lot, and the buzzing is a frequently heard noise in this house.

I’ve kicked the caffeine and now use decaffeinated coffee, and I can have a caffeinated drink now and again without stressing about it any more.  Freedom from 20 years chained to a brand of diet drink may seem silly to some, but it was a big deal for me.

I love my soda stream, and it is THE most used kitchen gadget in our house next to the kettle, but shhhhhh, I would never admit that in RL.

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How to be a Scottish Mum

Looking at how people find my blog today in the statistics package, I was struck by how many people find it by asking the words “how to be a scottish mum.”

I’m not really sure how to take that.   Then I had to think about what makes a scottish mum different from say, an english mum, or an irish mum, or an american mum etc etc.  I could not think of anything, and then it got to me thinking about how some people must portray us as the scottish stereotype.

Would we be pictured in some peoples’ heads as wild and wiry, long haired, tartan wearing lovelies, such as the Christoper Lamberts onscreen wife in Higlander 1?   Are we seen as knife wielding, redhaired, freckled wild women who fight for their families ala Liam Neesons onscreen wife in Rob Roy?

The truth is quite mundane these days.  There are very few tartan wearing women, and even fewer who live in the wilds, in their little mud huts unwashed and jigging around swords with their tartan sashes and fighting for their families and lands.  That is the stuff of history and fiction, rather like the American Wild West.

Yes, there are some communities which are living in the more traditional type houses, and a few even still living without running water and electricity, but these are very few and far between.

I can tell you about some scottish women in the recent past and what motherhood meant to them, but it might take a whole book to tell that story, and one day very soon, that is what I am going to do.

In the short version, my family came from Skateraw, around Newtonhill in the North East of Scotland.  Life was hard.  The menfolk were fishermen and the women had to be hardy.

The cold winters were the hardest.  The women might have several of the family menfolk in the same house, all working at sea in the fishing industry.  It was a very steep hill down to the pier where the boats set to sea.  The womenfolk always went down to meet the boats, and carried the fish up the hill on their creels.

The next day, they would leave early, before light, and walk to Aberdeen with their creels on their backs, and sold as much fish at the market stalls as they could.  Every day, they would make that walk until all the fish was sold, a round trip of more than 10 miles every day.  Their families were well fed, as there was always fish to eat as long as a family had men at sea.

Inbetween walking to Aberdeen and back, these women had to provide food for their families, and wash the sea salt loaded clothes, which would take much  more water than they could carry in one or two trips to the communal taps.  The clothes had to be ready at short notice for their mens sea chests.

Sadly, many young children died, as when the mums  and grandmothers had to work, there was no-one to look after the children, and often young children succumbed to fatal accidents.  Many fell into the house fires where the supper was cooking, or down the cliffs into the sea.  It was a tough existence, and many a fishermans wife had a broken heart for the tragic loss of her “wee ones.”

When the boats were ready to be loaded out again, the womenfolk had to pick up their men and carry them to their boats, to ensure that they managed to get aboard with dry feet.   Imagine the dainty womenfolk of today managing to carry their six foot husbands out to a boat in freezing water, yet these women did it.


Once their men took off to sea again, the women then began the chores of fixing the nets, a thankless task that was both difficult, and caused many a raw blister.

This was only 120 years ago when my great grandmother was young.   The speed we  have moved forward in since that time is incredible, and todays fishing industry, and the expecations and duties of scottish mothers has been transformed.    Back then, a toonser woman would not have wanted to marry into a fishermans family.  They might have been well fed, but they sure had to work hard.

So how can someone be a scottish mum?

I don’t have the answer to that.  I am a scottish mum, but have no idea that the difference might be.  Perhaps we cook some slightly different foods, perhaps we have a funny accent.

Maybe there is something that differentiates us, but I don’t know what it is.

If someone has any suggestions, then I’d be happy to listen to them, and now, finally, when someone finds my blog in the search for how to be a scottish mum, they will actually find a post related to what they are looking for.



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Songbirds in our Garden

If there is one thing that has held my kids attention for long spells of time, it has been the bird feeders that we have had in our garden for the last 5 years.  My youngest has always loved birds and nature, and he decided one year to spend his birthday money on buying feeders and seeds for the birds.  It grew and there is now a chair beside the window that looks onto the part of the garden that oversees where the feeders are kept outside.

We have watched, robin red breasts, starlings, blackbirds, blue tits, coal tits, a magpie or two, and starlings and sparrows galore come to our garden, sit on the fence, and eat themselves full from our feeders.  There are lots of birds we have seen, that we can’t even identify, even though we keep a book at hand to see what they are. 

There have been a few squirrels cheekily opening up the top of the fat ball feeder to scoop them out, and more than one or two mice who climbed up the fence to have a feed.

The bird familes, we have watched as they grow, become mature, and venture out on their own, leaving their parents behind.  It’s lovely in summer to see the the pairings of our regular birds for the nesting season, and the sudden increase in demand on the food, as the parents fly back and forth endlessly, taking a little at a time to feed their hungry young. 

There have been hours spent looking out of the window and just watching the birds.  The kids loved watching the blackbirds sunbathing in the garden when the sun was out.    They enjoyed the feeling of keeping them alive during the winter months, by making sure there was plenty food out every day in the snow and cold. 

This winter has been different, and I am surprised at how I feel about it.    Our birds were coming to feed as usual, right through the horrible November snows and extreme cold that we had, and they managed to pull through December.  

Sadly, since around New Year, we seem to have lost ALL our birds.  There are a few of the larger woodpigeons in the bigger trees out the back, buy there is no sign of any of our blackbirds, the robin has disappeared, and all the small birds have vanished.  The gardens seems like a morgue considering all the activity there has been there for the last 5 years and I am strangely upset by that.

I find myself in the mornings, taking a cup of coffee through, and sitting down to watch, hoping and willing for some of them to reappear, or new ones to find our garden and have some food to help them through the winter.   Up until last year, we had a robin red breast who had been coming to us for three years.  He knew us and the kids, and would happily sit on the fence while I filled the feeder.  He didn’t make it back this year, and that made me a little sad, but a new one arrived in the early spring to take his place. 

I missed that little robin, and the new young one was not so keen to be domesticated.   I missed him, but that was fine as he had three years, and seemed to be a happy, chirpy chappie.   That’s nothing to the disappointment I seem to be feeling that ALL our birds have gone this year.  ALL of them have succumbed to the awful temperatures that we have had recently, both young and old. 

It does make me sad that our small birds, and our songbirds in particular are not going to weather this winter very well, but nature will take over, and hopefully our garden will be a hive of feathered friends soon.  

In the meantime, the kids and I will spend a little while of each day still looking wistfully and putting out a fresh bowl of water, just in case any of ours return.

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Scottish Mum & New Year Goals for 2011

Image: Salvatore Vuono /

I’ve deliberately left the decisions around my goals for this year until after the 1st of January.    I had thought about them beforehand, but I decided against making a choice based on how we all feel before the new year happens. 

Usually, resolutions depend on the mythical new found power that a new year or decade comes with to carry us through.

Back to the real world.  It is now the 3rd of January and all these things that were difficult from 2010 are still there.

  1. We still have all the same bills to pay
  2. We still have the same issues around schooling
  3. We still don’t have the childcare we need
  4. I still have the same amount of housework and laundry to do for 6 people

Now that I have the flowery richeousness that comes with making new years resolutions out of the way, I am looking at what I can realistcally achieve this year, and how to do it.

  1. I have a target of April to finish one novel in the pipeline, and August to finish the other.   In the end, they may both be rubbish, but I do aim to finish them completely, including rewriting, and rewriting, and rewriting.  It is achievable as one has a completed first draft.
  2. I will find an appropriate school for one of my children.
  3. I will try my hardest to not buy shop bread – ever, but I accept that there are times when I must.
  4. I aim to lose some weight this year, and with the support of my twitter friends, I may just do that (again).
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Cybermummy 2011 Here I Come

My first post of the New Year and hold onto your hats, because I am going to the conference.  Oh yes I am.  I’ve booked my early bird ticket and I am going to be on my way.    I am looking forward to going, and my biggest worry at the moment is knowing which hotel to book into.  

Online mummy bloggers are emerging into a large force in the market place, and many brands are beginning to recognise how wide our wings spread and work with the mummy bloggers.

I am funding the event personally as a writer.  I would also be happy for a sponsor who would like to be represented on the day to get in touch with me.  An Aberdeen based local sponsor would be ideal, but not limited to, and it would be a chance to get your brand out to the mummy bloggers.  If you want to talk about sponsorship, send me an email on

I am really excited at the prospect of going, and being part of the fabulous group of bloggers that I am fast becoming attached to.  I look forward to meeting them all.


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Coffee Capers

Image: Paul /

Read what it says on the tin. 

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a tin of coffee from Costco for a Saturday Club that we do.  Bear in mind, that the other lady who also buys things had bought a tin of coffee for the October party, which should have covered it, but when it was opened, we discovered was actually fine ground coffee for a percolator although it doesn’t say that on the outside.    Now that’s all very well if you have a coffee machine, or you are happy with floating coffee granules in your cup. 

At the club, we have to take large flasks of hot water so that’s not an option.   So, she bought some temporary small jars to tide us over. 

Cue shopping for the Christmas party (which was cancelled due to snow, but thats another story).    I take all the food for the Christmas party home.  I had checked the tin to make sure I didn’t buy the same coffee, and I settled on dark roast, find grind (you can see it coming, can’t you).

My mother arrived at my house later that day with another tin of the coffee because she thought that was a good buy at Costco.  She never keeps receipts, and I lost the Christmas one in all the madness getting stuff home.

It is a week before we are out of instant coffee and break out the big tin for the house.  Yup, you guessed it, coffee grinds, and now we have two huge tins of this at home, and my friend has a tin at her house.

Cue post Christmas sales, and we have had to admit defeat, and now buy a coffee machine for the house.  So that has cost us another £20 to buy one that matches the kitchen, and we probably have enough coffee to last us for about 10 years.   

We still need to buy more coffee for the club.    Third time lucky !!

Do I feel silly ??????

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Finding New Blogs

I am looking for some great new blogs to read. I love reading, and blogs always give me a reason to connect to other people and escape in the same way that a good novel takes me out of my life and into pleasant escapism.

I’m not an avid, daily blogger, but at times I may actually blog more than others. I don’t covet huge statistics from readers either, but it would be nice to have some readers for my rantings. Strangely enough, some people seem to find my blog on google using words that I would never connect to anything I have written.

I sometimes find it difficult to find blogs that I might be interested in. It is easy if someone has already visited my blog for me to return the favour.

Let me know on if you would like me to read your blog, or leave a comment for me so that I know where to find you.

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Nothing Happens at School

The events of the school day always amuse me.  In an average school day, nothing much seems to happen.  I know this for certain, because my children tell me so, each and every day that they come home from school.   You know how it goes.

Mum “Did anything nice happen at school today.”
Child “Nothing much.”

Mum ” Did you have gym, or language.
Child “I told you mum, nothing happened.”

Mum “So you went to school, you didn’t do any work, you didn’t see any friends, you didn’t eat any lunch, and you haven’t got any homework.”
Child “Haven’t I just told you that.”

This is one of the universal truths that I seem to come across with boys, and not just my boys.  I have heard of a few boys who do actually go home and tell their parents how the day goes, but in general, most of us parents of boys seem to get the same answer.  Girls on the other hand, seem to me, to tell their mothers what happens day to day and piece by piece. 

That got me to thinking back to whether I was like that as a child.   I made myself a coffee and sat down to relax.

“Did I always tell my mother nothing happened at school.” I asked myself.  “No” I convince myself, as my mother and I were ‘friends’.   And there we are.  I am as smug as a bug in a rug that I was right about the boy/girl divide in school nothingness.

Grandma was here at the end of the school day today, and as I brought the boys through the door, she puts on a great big smile.

“What happened at school today boys, come and tell me all about it.”  I hear this and think that there will be no reply to it.   I wait for a few seconds and I am not disappointed. 

“Nothing, nothing much, that’s boring,”  come the replies.

 This is repeated a few times and grandma throws her hands up in the air and exclaims.  ” They’re just like you were at that age, they never tell anyone anything.”  And with that, off she flounces to the kitchen to put the kettle on in exasperation.

My first thought was “wow, no wonder no-one tells her anything,” then I remember how I act when my boys walk in the door, and I realise that I do exactly the same when I get exactly the same answer. 

Like mother like daughter.  Who?  Me?  No.

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Snow – Sensible or Over-Protective Parent?

It’s only November, but this is the worst snow that I can remember as an adult.  I remember snow like this when I was a child, and that was pretty special for me.  All this snow is pretty special for my children as well, because they have never seen snow like this before. 

I am not talking a few inches on the ground.  I am talking the lab up to her neck in it and the cat refusing to go out because he disappears in it.   I have had to dig out two trenches, one for the cat and one for the dog to get out to the toilet.  The photos were from yesterday when the snow was about 7 inches less than it is today.   My camera is away with youngest son for the day, and hopefully he takes some pictures with it, but I won’t hold my breath.

I have fantastic memories of out sledging as a child, wearing only jeans and trainers, and being frozen to the bone, but refusing to give up.  How on earth we didn’t end up with frostbite I have no idea.

Togging up my own children, I have them wearing three layers under a huge jacket.  On top of that, I plant them with hats, gloves, waterproof and padded trousers, and furry lined boots to keep out the chill. 

And I am STILL worrying about whether they are warm enough outside in the snow.  

Eldest yesterday brought home a friend in the afternoon who was wearing only trainers and a pair of joggers and had been out for most of the day.  This is a child who seems to be fur coat and no knickers.  He has all the latest electronic gadgets and fashion junk, but school clothes that fit, and sensible footwear don’t seem to exist.

This child ends up in our TV room, and really cold, he phones his mum for a lift.  She says she will try and get out for him.  He tells her that his feet are freezing and that they are sore.  She still only says that she will try and come for him.  He then gets worried and asks, well, what will I do?  Obviously he was stressed out about the thought of putting back on his wet things and having to walk a mile in them. 

I would have dug out and defrosted my car and taken him home if push come to shove, and she did eventually appear in her car for him.  It does make me wonder if I am too over protective of my children though.  I remember having to cope with similar situations as a teen, but my mother did not have a car, and I wouldn’t have been expected to walk home alone in the dark, at night, in the snow.

It doesn’t change my mind though about making sure my children are warm, dry, comfortable and safe, and yes, it might toughen up kids to make them fend for themselves, but I can’t help wondering at what cost.

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Eat too much, or just in the Genes?

I have three children, and  all of them have different metabolisms, strengths and weaknesses.    Watching them grow has given me a different perspective on what is healthy and what is not.  I used to have a preconceived notion that overweight children were all lazy, or their mums fed them too much.  I have no doubt that for some children, that may well be the case, but not for all.

I have started to think back recently to my own weight struggles in life.   Three times in my life I have had to lose 4 stones to be able to feel normal, and enjoy my life.   On the times I have been fat, I have never, ever enjoyed life as an overweight woman.   

When I am fat, I avoid social interaction and refuse all invites.   Being fat does not suit my life.  Yes I will make fun of it, because I have been there three times already and have managed, though excessive diet and exercise to lose it. 

Each time, it slowly creeps back over a few years to the point where I can’t live with it any more and from somewhere, comes the ability to fight my fat.   Before that day comes, I wake up each morning hating myself for not having the willpower to be able to control how I look and feel.  Each day I tell myself that this is the day I can do it, until I eat lunch and devour 800 calories in one sitting. 

At the moment I am in one of the better downward spiral stages of my life.  Everything is easier to do when you are not carrying around so much baggage.  To lose weight I need to reduce to approx 800 calories a day and exercise at least 2 hours a day on top of housework and dog walking chores.  I don’t feel sorry for me, as it is my own fault.    It’s ok for others who are happy with their weigh to stay that way, that is their choice. 

For me, being overweight is not a good choice, but I do wish it was an easier road to take.  I have often had to pace the floor to stop myself eating more than my body can deal with.   I have always had hormone issues, which is the likely explanation for my bodys’ sickening efficiency with little amounts of food.

I have times where I cannot keep to my bodys’ ridiculously low requirements for me to be healthy, and I refuse to be fat for the rest of my life.  Willpower to stick to 800 calories a day and do all that exercise is really difficult for me, and I cannot keep that up all the time.

Getting back to my children, which is the real reason I started thinking about all of this.  I have three boys.   They are the hyperactive boy type that never sit still.  I mostly home cook, I ration sweet stuff still, and my children all have healthy appetites.  They eat plenty fruit and veg, and they all play football, go to multi activity club, swim, and do karate twice a week.  

My youngest is the unfortunate one.  He is going to be like me, and fight his weight all his life.  His two older brothers (who do no more exercise than their little bro), are the long, lean, slender types.  They could eat a horse and you wouldn’t see where it went.   My youngest is the same height as his older brother, but he is over a stone heavier, and yet eats no more food, and does no less exercise.  Youngest has the broadest shoulders, and needs trousers two waist sizes bigger than his biggest brother.

How do we explain that when we are talking about over eating versus unlucky genes?  I simply can’t.

What do you think.

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Umbrella’s at Dawn

I have been moved to blog about the growing band of mummies who stand at the school gates with brollies big enough to lose three people in.  I really, honestly and truly do not like brollies of any shape, size or colour (unless they are attached to a buggy and shading a little one’s eyes).  I really do not like them. 

People barge into you, spokes hit you on different parts of your head and body and you try to squeeze past on paths and pavements, and they rarely lift the spokes up to avoid hitting you.  Then there are the head turners, who suddenly hit you with the lower end of the brolly which is behind their head and leaning on their shoulders.

This morning, set the scene, I am trying to lead a very wet dog and three neighbours children though a rainy public path.    That is on top of the two children who belong to me.  We go single file to walk through the mummy chat zone, but I have a problem.  Mummies are lined up right along the path.  There is nowhere to walk, they are blocking the whole path.   There is a lot of noise on the walkway 6 feet up, and the rain is drowning out a lot of noise.  They are also shouting to each other to be heard.

Neighbours child no 3 asks politely if one “lady” will move, no luck.  She asks if another “lady” will move and gets swatted away as if she were a fly on her coat tails.   We can’t see any faces, as they are brandishing large umbrellas which are spoke to spoke as they chat selfishly.    The hackles are rising on the back of my neck as I call all the children back to behind me. 

Then I spot a car drawing up behind us on the road and move swiftly to the passenger door.  Inside is a well known other brolly hater.  I ask her if she has a lovely big brolly in her car, and to my amazement she has.   I leave her car, also with two of her children in tow.

Armed with the large green umbrella, I make my way back to the mummy brolly tent and shove my green one into the spokes of the other mummies brollies.  The onslaught brings a parting of the path, which allows me to get my forming brood through in one piece, and without this mummy getting someone else’s brolly spokes in her eyes.  I politely mutter sorry, sorry, sorry in passing while trying to keep a straight face.  Strangely none of them seems to mind this at all.  

All of which brings me to the absolute loating I have for umbrellas at school gates, or anywhere near a school, and why, for the safety of my eyes, I am going shopping this afternoon for my very own brolly tent.

if you can’t beat em, join em.