Where are the CBeebies Fitties?

Yesterday, The Dadventurer shared his Top Five CBeebies Hotties

Ignoring the obviously shallow and male chauvinist rhetoric laced through the blog post, I’m jumping on the band wagon with both feet to say – it’s not fair.

Where are the Fittie-McVities for the Mamas to ogle? 

Pretty much all the female presenters on CBeebies are (to use Dave’s terminology) ‘hotties’, whether they made his top five or not. But given 99%* of the adult viewers are probably female, and let’s, for the sake of argument, say that 90%* of them are probably straight – the Beeb has missed a trick.

*absolutely nothing scientific to these stats whatsoever. 

I mean, it’s pretty slim pickings, let’s be honest. 

In no particular order (because the options are dismal whatever order they appear):

Justine Fletcher as Mr Tumble on CBeebies1. Justin Fletcher

While the lovely Mr. Fletcher is clearly a very nice person to be commended for hosting brilliant programmes promoting making SEN and disability part of the mainstream – I’m afraid he’s firmly in the friend zone. I could forgive him the clowning around – at least he’s make you laugh – but the cross dressing and multi-personality syndrome (how many Tumbles does anyone need in their lives, really?) has me waving goodbye, goodbye to Justine. It’s time to run indeed…

Chris Jarvis Show Me Show Me CBeebies2. Chris Jarvis 

Sadly for Chris, even if I only require him for fantasy purposes to make my day looking after Little Miss go that little bit quicker, I don’t want him to show me anything. He just doesn’t make my kite flutter… (That’s right. I went there.) 

Andy Day CBeebies presenter3. Andy Day 

Andy’s got boingy curls and a sort of tall-dark-and-geeky thing going. This is actually a pretty solid start for any Mama’s fantasising; we could work with this! But he’s sort taken dressing up for fun a step to far. Usually soaked in some sort of archaic river water or dino spit, and that daft hat. And waistcoat. And the backpack. Aaaand the mood is pretty much as dead as his dinosaurs. 

(But doesn’t he have impeccable teeth?!)

Ben Cagee  CBeebies presenter4. Ben Cajee

Oh Ben. Baby Ben. He only looks about 24 bless him.* Such a sweetie, but he doesn’t really have you screaming ‘take me now!’, does he?

*It is possible that at only 27 I’ve missed some sort of cougar angle Ben could be working with a segment of the Mama market.

Ben Faulks as Mr Bloom on CBeebies5. Ben Faulks

Bloomin’ Ben. Where to begin? The hat? The vest? The cargo pants? Just so much plad. And no girl wants to be driven to dinner in a green truck from the 60s. Did I mention he talks to vegetables? It’ll take a bit more than a goofy grin to put Ben’s carrot on the menu.

However, in the interest of honest and fair blogging, since Googling him to find a photo, I am actually surprised – dare I say it, mildly fluttered – by the non-Bloom-Ben. I’ll just store that blue eyed beauty away for later use. (But I seriously hope he puts on the ridiculous accent or he’ll still need to stay very, very quiet.)

Hang in there ladies. The Bedtime Hour, is never far away (honest) and you never know who tonight Bedtime Stories special guest might be…

Damien Lewis CBeebies Bedtime Stories

Damien is welcome for bedtime any time he wants.

NB: this is in no way an attack on the CBeebies presenters. I love and cherish them all and speak for parents up and down the country when I say thank you for the job you do. You keep us saine! Just wouldn’t hurt to have a little less cross-dressing and a little more muscle on the presenter team perhaps…

Conversations with Little Miss, No. 8

During a fractious, over tired bedtime with lots of tears, I’d finally managed to calm her down with a cuddle and a lullaby I’ve been singing since she was a bump… 

Mama: …as the clouds go by-

LM: Why the clouds go by?

Mama: Um, it’s a windy night. 

LM: OK. 

Mama: Sail baby sail, out across the sea-

LM: Why the baby cross the sea? 

Mama: He’s on an adventure. 

LM: I like the sea. I go cross the sea. 

Mama: One day, yes. 

LM: Baby likes the sea. 

Mama: Yes she does. 

LM: She tired now. 

Mama: Yeh, she is. 

LM: She in the drawer now. 

[FYI, she’s talking about her baby doll who she had put to bed in the bottom drawer so, I quote, “she was safe” – from what, and why the drawer ensured her safety, I’m not quite sure.] 

Mama: Yes she is. [Give up on the lullaby.] Night, night Little Miss..

Refugees – should we care?

Let me start this post with a confession. Until this summer, I had become desensitized to the refugee crisis and knew very little about it. 

I’ve grown up with shocking Oxfam and UNICEF ads on TV of babies with swollen bellies; sad, dirty faces staring back at me longingly. I’m ashamed to say they’re like water off a duck’s back now I’ve seen so many so often. Save the Children’s brilliant one second a day style It Could Have Been Me campaign last year struck a chord and pulled at the heart strings, but was quickly forgotten amidst the drama of daily life. How many of the thousands of Brits who uploading a photo to Instagram actually donated, I wonder?

That being said, I’m a huge believer in giving to charity. I’m of the opinion that for those of us privileged enough to consider ‘struggling at the end of the month’ central heating and running water, food in the fridge and 50MG wifi surging round our house, I am of the opinion, we could find a few quid to help those who are genuinely struggling. 

But it wasn’t until Brexit unfolded earlier this year that I began to take real notice of the conversation about refugees, asylum seekers and migrants (and yes, it turns out they’re all very different types of people in the eyes of the law as this article from the Red Cross explains). My mom then volunteered for a weekend in the Calais camp, and hearing her recount her experience, stories of the people she’d met and not only what they’d been through but the circumstances they were living in now as well, I felt I could sit on the sidelines no longer. 

Paper Boat Map Help Refugees

The Crisis

In December 2015, across the world, it was estimated that 65.3 million people had been forced to flee their homeland as part of the current Refugee Crisis. That number increased by 5.8 million in just one year.

Let’s put this into perspective.

The UK’s current population estimate is 65.1 million.

Let that soak in for a moment: there are more people in the world displaced by war than UK citizens.

That also means there are more displaced people than the population of Canada, Australia and New Zealand combined.

40.8 million of these displaced people are still residing within their own countries. Only 24.5 are classed as refugees or seeking asylum. Don’t get me wrong, that’s still a huge number (roughly twice as many people as all of Britain’s major cities combined). But (in an ideal world) if nations not directly involved in the conflict the world over were to equally share that 24.5, it wouldn’t feel like so many all. And then we could start to figure out what to do with the remaining 40 million…

Breaking Point. But for who?

Last year, the Prime Minster (David Cameron) pledged to re-home 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020, saying it was our “moral responsibility” to do so. He then made a further pledge earlier this year to resettle 3,000 child refugees from the Calais and Dunkirk camps. Reports suggest Britain is already looking likely to fail on this promise as only 2,000 Syrian families were admitted asylum in the first quarter of 2016. This is not helped by the fact May has apparently dissolved the recently created role of ‘Minister for Syrian Refugees’.

And to add insult to injury, The Guardian reported last week that local authorities are struggling to find homes and school places for the asylum seekers, making it difficult to achieve the 2020 targets.

Yet, overall, we have accepted and housed just 0.18% of those 65 million people to date. We haven’t even managed a full 1%.

How tragic is that?

We, one of the spearhead nations of Western society, the land of hope and glory, haven’t even managed to help as many people as live in Newcastle, Wigan or even Derby.

Britain, to date, has granted asylum to just 117,00 people. That is the population of the borough of Lambeth in South London or East Hampshire (which is all villages, FYI, I checked).

Winchester has more people than that. And Sherwood (an area of Nottingham, not even a whole town). And Sedgemoor. Where’s Sedgemoor? Exactly people. Exactly.

Not my problem.

Many Brits, particularly from the older generations, are struggling to understand the plight of refugees: they didn’t flee during WWII. They stayed and fought for our country, our home. They didn’t let Hitler win. So these displaced people who choose to run, it’s their problem.

But what about France? And Italy? And Eastern Europe?

We have no idea how lucky we are in Britain, how privileged we’ve been to be in a position of strength and economic power. We can afford to fight, but more than that, we’ve never been at the hand of an oppressive regime. We haven’t been ruled through fear and brutality in any living generation’s memory. We haven’t been occupied since the Medieval age.

Despite the eerie similarities between the mass Jewish migration pre and post WWII from and today’s migration crisis, (read the full story on the Washington Post here) these wars aren’t like WWII with trenches and tanks and bombers, with soldiers integrating into society in occupied nations.

There is no rationing because there is no food at all. These people can’t fight back because they are unarmed civilians and the regime they are fighting will literally shoot them dead in a heartbeat if they so much as whisper about rising up. They will rape young girls and boys, they will leave you for dead.

Pretend for a moment that it was Britain savaged by war beyond recognition.

refugee-camp-panoramic

If you lived here, wouldn’t you be desperate? Wouldn’t you do whatever it took, go wherever would take you to give your family a better life? To give yourself a better life?

How do you choose who gets to start again, safe in a foreign country, and educate their children and live. Or who is left to starve and freeze in a camp in no-man’s land, unwanted and left for dead?

How would you feel if a country only helped those residing in Chichester? Or Chorley? Or Darlington, with a few extras thrown in from surrounding villages to make up the numbers?

Because that’s the number of people we’ve helped so far. Physically, we are a small country, yes, but politically and financially, regardless of what many may believe we are mighty. There must be something more we can do?

These are not just refugees or asylum seekers. These are people who had lives and education and families and a future before they were forced to leave their homeland due to a war they didn’t support or take part in, just as we would be if it was us.

I don’t make these comparisons to scare readers or to suggest we should surrender our own homeland to all of them. I merely want to put the crisis into perspective, into numbers that make sense to us in the UK.

There’s no place like home…

where-are-the-worlds-displaced-people-being-hosted

Based on the latest UNHCR‘s Global Trends report, published June 2016.

Contrary to what many Brits seem to believe, asylum seekers don’t want to be here. They don’t want to be in Germany. Or Sweden or Hungry or wherever else they may have been granted asylum. And they certainly don’t want to be in a refugee camp in Greece or France or Turkey. They want to go home. But they can’t. Home now only exists between bombings, shootings, rapes, and worse.

Would you want to live like that? If it was you in their shoes, would you stay? Or would you flee and beg any country that would have you to let you start a new life there and raise your family where it’s safe?

_88578067_europe_migrant_numbers_mar2016

Asylum claims in Europe in 2015, courtesy of the BBC.

The Middle East and Northern Africa look after 39% of all displaced people. Turkey is currently taking 200 refugees per day.

When you look at things in perspective, Britain doesn’t seem so overwhelmed now, does it?

A few more key stats to consider;

  • Over 50% of those displaced people are from Somalia, Afghanastan and Syria alone.
  • Turkey, Pakistan and Lebanon together host over 5 million displaced people.
  • Over 50% of those displaced are under 18. They are children.
  • In 2015, 24 people per minute were forced to flee their homeland. That’s 34,000 per day. That number has increased four times since 2005.
  • 11,000 children died in the first three years of Syrian conflict alone. Two years on, the war is still on going. How many more have we lost?
  • Currently, there are 10,000 displaced children missing within the EU.
  • Between January and April 2016, 28,000 people made the harrowing journey across the Mediterranean from Northern Africa to Italy. 4,474 of them were unaccompanied children.

So what can we do? 

I am extremely proud to write that the blogging community is pulling together in aid of the Refugee Crisis.

Last month, I kicked off the UK contingent of the Bloggers for Refugees campaign (which started in Germany a few years ago). We are working with CalAid to change perceptions of displaced people within the UK and to raise much needed donations for the people living in the camps.

Over the next few weeks, fellow bloggers up and down the UK will be sharing posts like this of their own, trying to present readers with the facts, and to start to un-desensitise the UK population from the Refugee Crisis.

We’ll also be sharing posts giving our readers all sorts of ways to get involved, from donating old baby clothes stored in the loft, ‘just in case’, to buying a storybook to help explain what’s going on to your children (all proceeds of course go to helping the crisis) or even just donating cold, hard, essential cash – whether you can spare £1 or £100.

Our aim is not to get you using a hashtag or uploading photos to Instagram. It’s to affect real change, to encourage and drive donations, which are at an all time low when the number of displaced people round the world is at an all time high.

In the meantime, here’s some helpful links to get you started:

Find your local donation point in the UK via this helpful Google map.

Donate today! Help CalAid purchase much needed supplies and resources from food to school books and caravans for families to live in.

Join Bloggers for RefugeesIf you’re a blogger and would like to get involved, join our Facebook group today to keep up to date with our efforts, get up to date stats and information to use in your posts and event information.

Helpful articles for further reading: 

Migration in Europe explained in four maps.

UNICEF’s report into sexual exploitation, trafficking and abuse against children in the Calais and Dunkirk camps.

The UN Refugee Agency’s latest report on Global Trends, publishes June 2016.

#GiftCrimes: guilty as charged?

Last year, some friends of ours mentioned that they had attended a sort of ‘getting ready for marriage’ course before tying the knot.

The course encourages you to find your motivators and to understand your partner’s, leading to a harmonious partnership.

Now, anyone who knows the Other Half and I in real life knows we’re a little firey… So we thought this course sounded like a pretty good idea (not that we’re married or even engaged, but we’ve been together nearly eight years, have a baby,  and all that jazz, so we basically are).

A quick Google brought up the questionnaire they’d had to fill in and a few minutes later we discovered:

  1. We actually knew each other really well and
  2. Our motivators were pretty different. (Shocker.)

Top of my list was that I valued time over all other love languages (there’s five total, FYI). I need undivided attention and your time. (I know, total Prima Donna.)

the modern man's mix tape, USB playlist

One of the many little, thoughtful gifts the OH has given me over the years, showing me up in the process. This one was hidden in my house when he went travelling (without me – not bitter at all) for six weeks when we were 23. it was loaded with a playlist of songs that made him think of me. I mean, how is a girl supposed to compete with this level of romantic prowess?!

The OH on the other hand valued gifts. Whether being showered with gifts on a special occasion or a surprise mini Toffee Crisp in his lunch to show you’re thinking of him (if I made his lunches, that would be more relevant, but in reality, he makes mine…) – gifts, in a very unsuperficial way (most of the time…) are how the OH knows you love him.

Now, the difficulty for all people is that we naturally will show love by giving/acting on our own strongest motivators. Because that’s what makes sense to us. E.g., I give my time, energy and attention; the OH give gifts. Of course, if the other person doesn’t necessarily value that motivator (or ‘speak your love language’ as it were), you might be in a bit of hot water.

This starts to make a lot of sense when you look at our history…

The OH ‘jokes’ about the various gift crimes I’ve committed over the years – ie, when my gifts have completely missed the mark.

Our first Valentine’s: we’d only been dating two weeks and he secretly stole my charm bracelet and had a four leaf clover attached to it (my nickname since we met has been ‘Irish’ – a long story!).

I got him, err, nothing…

Our first Christmas: (11 months after the Valentine’s bitter disappointment), I got him the Kiehl’s Men’s range… Which while that’s actually a lovely gift and one he’d probably love these days, it didn’t exactly scream romance and ‘I know you so well!’ given he only needed to shave about once every two weeks at the tender age of 20…

There’s also been a fondu set (he loves to cook! It made sense at the time…) which he’s still never used (not bitter at all…); the clock made out of a Rolling Stones record (he’s a huge fan! But granted, it was utterly not his style and a little tacky…); a tweed blazer (he’s really into fashion – sadly, it turns out I know nothing about men’s style…) and I won’t bore you again with the story about his first Father’s Day… Not my finest moment…

They haven’t all been tragic. Successes over the years have included a popcorn machine, *thinks really hard…* a onesie, *strains memory* oh and a massive, snuggly dressing gown, which at the time, he was really bad at lying about how great it was when he first opened it, but a month later, writing an essay wrapped up in his robe he conceded it was indeed a good gift. (And five years on, he still loves it and says it’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever got him, “even if it was kinda boring”. I’m taking that for the win and running.)

But buying gifts for someone who

  1. Has really high expectations
  2. Values gifts above all else (see point one)

is really bloody hard! And I’m bound to have made a mistake (or ten) along the way!

Traditionally, August/September is the time I start putting together lists of what to buy him, as, to add insult to injury, we have Christmas, both our birthdays and our anniversary all within three weeks of each other. That takes a bit of forethought!

But this year, I’m trying something different.

I recently discovered giftwink.com. You plug in each person’s details – their birth date and interests, and it spits out recommendations based on that demographic information.

The site then stores this info and sends you a reminder before their birthday next year as well, including a suggested list of gifts for someone of that age, sex, location (showing my age now…) and those interests. Genius.

I tested the site’s gift giving abilities a few month’s ago for Cousin Munchkin’s fourth birthday. I followed Gift Wink’s recommendation and purchased the interactive book, “Press Here“. It was an absolute hit – even the other adults were asking where I’d found such an unusual book. (Winning! I’m a gift giving ninja at last!)

So having now made lists for Little Miss, my mom, Auntie Chatterbox, the favourite Uncle, my friends, my in-laws… Basically everyone, I put this to the ultimate test.

I showed the OH the list Gift Wink generated for him based on the information I input – age (to-be), male, likes cooking, fashion, sports & fitness, etc.

It ranged from £3 to £185 and included everything from the Ladybird’s The Husband book (an ironic gift, perhaps? Lucky for him, I’m not fishing for a ring.) to a Beginners’ Indian Cooking Course at The Cooking Academy (apparently giftwink has met the OH, or at the very least, stalked his dreams…!).

The OH’s response:

No. No. That’s cool. I like that. No. Yes.

Yeh, that’d be cool if I wasn’t an Apple nerd. Max would like that actually… God no, that’s awful. Nice.

Ooh, yeh, actually, that’s quite cool. That’s a really nice messenger bag. And that clock is a lot better than the monstrosity we have at the moment, Amie. I like the Star Wars t-shirt, get me that! Oh, that print is cool, wait, only £5, really?!

Honestly, the OH hates any kind of gift giving/finding service or site because he says they’re generic and full of shit gifts no one would actually want (his words, not mine). Despite my best efforts, he also doesn’t really shop online for presents  – apparently the insane stress the day before said present is needed, running round inspirationless shops is all part of the fun… Who knew…

But as he scrolled through his list, he admitted that he was pleasantly surprised. Even one of the £5 stocking fillers (a peg-leg pirate bottle opener, note to self!) was ‘pretty on the money’ (and I cannot stress enough how much the OH hates a stocking filler!). Out of 84 gift suggestions, he said something genuinely positive – almost excited even! – about over 20 of them. That’s pretty damn high praise from one of the fussiest gift receivers in the world.

So apparently I’m done and dusted for this year! Win!

But I have been very firmly told if I get him any more cuff links, he’ll swiftly return whatever he gets me. Message received. *Quietly scribbles out ‘cufflinks’ from the Christmas/Birthday/Anniversary list*

giftwink-comp

So, to help make gift crimes a thing of the past, giftwink are asking you to share your #giftcrimes stories – whether you’re giving or receiving – on Facebook or Twitter, using the hastag, by September 25, 2016. 

For sharing your story, you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win £50 worth of gifts via giftwink.com. 

You can find out more about the competition here

________________________

THIS POST WAS WRITTEN IN ASSOCIATION WITH GIFTWINK.COM. HOWEVER, THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED HERE ARE INDEPENDENT AND MY OWN (OR THE OTHER HALF’S!).

The first weekend of Autumn {The Wonderful Ordinary 24}

Autumn is by far my favourite season. Yes, flip flops are my solemates (see what I did there?), but nothing beats Autumn.

The weather – warm enough that you don’t need a coat, but cool enough that you’re not sweating from every pore of your being and can warm your hands on a hot coffee as you listen to the pitter patter of rain on the window. Perfection.

Welly walks, sunshine through the leaves as they drift slowly to the ground, Halloween, pumpkins, crunchy leaves, stews and BBQs in big cosy jumpers. What’s not to love about Autumn?!

Well, last weekend, I am extremely happy to say (if that wasn’t clear already) was the first weekend in Autumn. And by pure chance we also had a free weekend, which was a nice change of pace!

So we celebrated with the first welly walk of the season. Little Miss was in her element, running through the forest, building wigwams out of sticks and logs, sipping coffee (the Other Half and I, not Little Miss!) and searching for muddy puddles (which sadly, there were none after the dry week beforehand).

Little Miss (toddler) running free through the forest on the first wellie walk of the season.

Little Miss running free through the forest.

We love our welly walks. They’re a treasured family pastime for us that started in the small wooded park behind our London apartment and now continue through the Hertfordshire countryside.

A friend once read that everyone has a ‘homeland’. My mom’s is most definitely the sea, the Other Half I think is the countryside but mine seems to be the forest. (Which if you pay any attention to zodiac signs – which, of course, I don’t……. – makes total sense for both The OH and I as we’re Capricorns, i.e., Earth signs. Little Miss is a fish, and so far is rather fond of the bath, beach and pool, so we’ll see how her preference progresses… I digress!)

I don’t think I’d realised how much I had missed our welly walks this summer until we were back amongst the trees in the cooler air this weekend. For me, this weekend was honestly the ultimate Wonderful Ordinary moment.

Mama and toddler walking through the woods in matchinf red wellies.

Matchy, matchy! I love my red wellies, but Little Miss is due to grow out of her’s any day now.

With Autumn, comes another favourite pastime – baking. Back in the day, I used to bake something different every week, whatever the weather. But since having Little Miss, that’s fallen well and truly by the wayside. But Autumn was always my peak season, with  warming walnut loaves, Halloween treats and Christmas planning underway.

Now Little Miss is older, she’s shown a real interest in cooking and baking [edit: getting messy and eating cake mix] so we also made some dairy free rock buns this weekend, much to Little Miss’ delight.

SONY DSC

“Massaging” the butter (Little Miss’ words, not mine!).

I thought I would find baking with Little Miss a bit stressful – I mean, there’s no way a two year old would successfully ice even a coffee cake, let alone help me create a Minion cake! But actually, I really enjoyed myself and was surprised by her patience and the care she took gently rubbing the butter into the flour, etc.

Homemade rock buns cooling on a tray

Little Miss’ dairy free lemon zest rock buns – they were delicious!

I definitely see more baking escapades in our future (though I’ll be keeping things simple with Little Miss for a while! We’ll build her up to a Chocolate Ganache!)

toddler watching the rain

Watching the rain – a girl after my own heart. (Look at those pigtails!)

See more The Wonderful Ordinary posts.

See more Finding Our Feet photography on our Instagram, @findingourfeet

This post is part of the My Captured Moment linky from Running In Lavender.

Conversations with Little Miss, No. 7

Lactose Intolerant toddler looking at chocolate selection in a shop

When Little Miss discovered the chocolate selection at the service station…

One from our road trip to Sunderland last weekend… 

Having a run around in the shop at a service station after being in the car for approx three hours, and still another three to go…

LM: What’s dat Mummy?

Me: A Whispa.

LM: What’s dat Mummy?

Me: A Whispa Gold.

[pause] 

Me: It’s like a Whispa, but different.

[Satisfied, LM continues down the line.]

LM: What’s dat Mummy?

Me: A Dairy Milk bar.

LM: What’s dat Mummy?

Me: They’re all chocolate Baby Girl, they have lactose in them.

LM: Oh…

[sighs, turns and wanders off utterly disinterested]

We are so lucky (and grateful). We have reached a point with Little Miss where, she doesn’t understand what lactose is, she knows it makes her tummy hurt.

I’ve been really consistent since day one, saying ‘it has lactose in it; you can have lactose; it hurts your tummy’ and, thankfully, it seems to have paid off.

Whatever it may be – cake, ice cream, cheese – she really calmly just loses interest.

I’m sure there will come a time this won’t be the case and she’ll start to question why it doesn’t make others’ tummies hurt, but for now, she’s doing brilliantly.