AndSoWeWent // Birmingham Bullring Haul

AndSoWeSaw // Sarah & Duck

I reckon the best place to start with this post, is to point you to another I wrote HERE, that will explain our love of this show and excitement at going to watch it.

I booked tickets for me and the small human before Christmas
Best friend and ‘NotOurSonsDad’ wanted to come along
That makes 3
Sister wanted a slice of the action
Booking Number 3
Brother In Law was quite upset he wasn’t automatically invited
Booking Number 4
4 Adults
1 Child
See, this is a good show and all the cool kids are going to be there!

6 Months Later

A beautiful Sunny Sunday Afternoon and we arrive at MAC Birmingham.
Running late, as per, we bundle on in with 3 minutes to spare, to see that we were ok as the doors had just opened (phew!)

We hadn’t told Small Human we were off to see Sarah & Duck and when he saw the pictures his beautiful face lit up like it was Christmas

In we go and into our seats we sit

The lights go down and the show begins.

The world in front of us is a wonderful blend of puppetry, storytelling and music. What always amazes me with shows like this is the children never once question why the grown ups are moving the characters around, they 100% believe and use their imagination to it’s full capacity.

The story is set around Scarf Lady. She has lost her birthday and so Sarah decides to throw her a surprise  ‘birthday-soiree-do’ with the help of her friends, and so we are whisked into a world of magic and fun for around 50 minutes. I have read reviews from ‘proper papers’ who said this wasn’t original and wouldn’t capture the audience. I beg to differ (isn’t that what reviews are all about?). Watching his face light up everytime a character popped up, or seeing him get worried when it looks like the party might have to be cancelled because it’s ‘too windy’ was just wonderful and a memory for me I will keep. Looking around me during the show, everyone else appeared to be just as immersed into the world as we were.

The show continues to tour for a while longer so if your kids love the show, then this mum (and fan) recommends you go check it out.

If you are ever looking for something different to do with the kids, check out the MAC programmes as they have so much going on all year round for people big and small (plus we get to support the venue as they recently lost 70% of their funding).

I must add as a short and final note; during our performance there was a slight prop mishap in the first 10 minutes so the show had to be paused while they did a quick Health and Safety check. The cast and team at MAC were great and it didn’t dampen our experience of the show.

AndSoWeWatch // Sarah & Duck

One of our favourite cartoons at Monkey Towers is Sarah & Duck

It is such a lovely show about a girl, her pal Duck and the adventures they go on.
Let me give you some short ideas of past episodes so you can get a feel for the show…

There appears to be no adult supervision for any of the children.(You cannot count Scarf Lady; as her primary carer appears to be her bag.)

Where does Moon live? He always appears on earth before he goes ‘off to work’ and howthebloodyhell did he fit on a train? (See the episode Train Fudge)

Umbrella is scared of the water. Let’s think about this. 
Scarf lady has an arch nemesis in Hat Lady.
Duck uses the toilet (mad skills!)
They play a game called Twang Ball
Cake talks…...will they ever eat him?
Cake also has appalling taste in jokes (however; Daddy thinks they are amazing!)
Whilst Sarah has Duck, John has Flamingo
A pet flamingo. Why the hell not
Shallot number 4 has a form of Tourette's. 
I am waiting for the day he tells the other 3 to feck off (I think he has size issues)
Rainbow only comes out after the rain and can only see his family if it is a double rainbow which requires Cloud Captain to do crazy things from his Weather Castle (Michael Fish has nothing on this guy!)
How Baker makes any profit from the Bread Shop is beyond me as he has no idea what day of the week it is and relies on Cake (recently moved from Sarah’s house to the Bread Shop after he was lonely in the fridge) to tell him how to make dough.
If Cake can talk and the Shallots can talk, why can’t all the other edible products?

I think all of the above craziness is why we love this show so much. 

When we get on a train MiniMonkey looks out for TrainFudge. Each morning and evening MiniMonkey says hello to Moon and if he can’t see him he will ask where he is.When we had that ½ inch of snow MiniMonkey was outside crunching ‘just like Sarah’ and it was the most heart melting thing I have seen.

It was foggy yesterday morning and MiniMonkey told me it was ‘froggy outside like when PlateGirl lost her plate and Sarah helped her find it’. 

This is the kid who has in idea where he hid his shoe at nursery but can recall an episode he watched months ago!

Kids TV can be painful at times and there are many posts about the craziness of it all, but I love Sarah & Duck. Long may they reign champion in our household.Oh and we are of  all booked up to the Sarah & Duck Live in July (I cannot wait to see his face!)

First published back in January on the old CheekiMummy platforms

How did we end up co sleeping?

When the MiniMonkey was born the one thing we were in complete agreement about was the fact that the baby would not sleep with us. I had read so many articles and reports about SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), and so, for us, co sleeping was out.

And not just bedtime, if we were having a cuddle and getting sleepy MiniMonkey had to go in the Moses basket.

It was so hard
All you want to do is cuddle them a little longer
But we did it (somehow)

And for us it was great up until MiniMonkey went into his regular bed and the gate came off his door.

Maybe the gate came off too early
Maybe we only have ourselves to blame

When he has a rough night he comes in to us
If he's feeling unwell he's in comes in to us
When Daddy goes to work at 4.30am he comes in with me

He climbs in
Demands a snuggle
And will not let us let him go until it is time to wake up

We tried all the techniques of getting him back to bed
Crying it out
Soft voices
Ignoring him

But it is exhausting and so we gave up

I love it
My arm may have no feeling
My shoulders are killing me (currrently on medication as I have actually done a bit of damage!)
As expected; i’m squeezed onto the edge of the empty bed
But i know that this won’t last forever

I guess we don’t co sleep in the truest form, and now he is older and bigger I feel a lot less worried about having him in with us.

Did your opinions change of having the little ones in the bed?
Do you love sleeping with an octopus?

I wouldn’t change it for anything

Day Tripping // LDN TOWN

Commuting Vol 2

One of the first blogs I ever wrote was all about the woes of commuting.
After this morning's dismal start I am annoyed enough to write another part.
Let's start with today and I'll add in extra annoyances as I go
My morning runs on pure precision
We are up dressed and out the door by 7.05am
MiniMonkey is at nursery for 7.10am
I am out of nursery by 7.13am
At the train station for 7.19am
On the train for 7.23am
Catch connection at 7.41am
And relax for 1 hour 10mins
After trying for weeks to grab hold of the nursery manager to talk about a lot of things this morning I am accosted and given way too much information to digest at 7.10am. No time to talk or catch up about his developments that's for pick up time in the afternoon
I left nursery 2 minutes behind schedule
I missed my train by 10 seconds
10 seconds
I was on the platform as the doors shut
I think the conductor (are they still called conductors?) enjoyed watching me shout fucker as it left the station.
This resulted in me now having to get on the 8am train
It is packed
I’m wedged in a window seat
I hate the window seat
I am typing with my elbows in my ribs
I miss my 7.41 train
I get space to spread
There is a little gang of us that sit in the same spaces
We give each other the ‘nod’
I’ve been doing this journey for 18 months now and I think I am reaching my threshold.
Most people commute to work whether that's trains or automobiles? (I’m guessing few people use a plane to get to work!) and the joy of the train is that i can crack on with other things as I don't have to pay attention to the road (when they are not delayed or cancelled)
Other things that annoy the crap out of me
People who breathe far too loudly because they have headphones in and need to hear themselves breathe.
People who smack their lips….what is with that ! Is it a medical condition that you face must be moist at all times?
Door buttons...if it's not green and shouting at you stop pressing it nothing will happen.
When it is green and shouting you only need to press it once….it won't open any quicker! Yes. I'm looking at you man who needs to press it 27 times because you are so impatient.
And then when you try to get off you are greeted with a sea of people blocking your escape as they must get on in case the train goes without them.
Is it not polite to step aside to let others off first? Is it not common sense and decency to see that people need to get off before you can get on? Most times I have my trolley with me so I have to drag that off so need a bit of room . Now if someone is blocking the exit I will tell them to move (stern but polite so the message is clear). I'm past the stage of just dealing with it.
The train will not leave without you (unless you're late: see the top of the post)
Table spreaders.
You know the ones
That feel the need to encroach into your area and spread their packed punch everywhere.
I had one of these the other day...she was spread in both directions and me and my fellow traveller caught each other and had that moment of ‘well this sucks’
Perhaps it was karma when she spilt her tea and dropped her apple
I do feel better for getting that off my chest
I am generally quite a chipper gal, just don’t travel with me!

A-Z of MiniMonkey and Me

My mind is filled with so much randomness and nonsense I thought I'd jot down a quick look at whats going on
A - Asses. So much of it. The cutest thing and yet also the most disgusting.
IMG_2113 (1).JPG
B  - Babychinos. We have always gone out for coffee and cake and from this I have created a babychino addict. He can spot a coffee shop at 100 miles away, and woe betide if we don’t go in.
C - Clutter. Our house, my mind. As messy as each other.
D - Drums. Love a present that makes noise (thanks Auntie G & Uncle A).
E - Eli. Nothing more to say.
F - Flamingos. Or as MiniMonkey calls them ‘Mingos.
G - Gin. always been my favourite drink. Now i drink a little more.
H - Hopeless. I am so hopelessly in love with him. My heart actually aches.
I - Infectious. This can be laughter or diseases. Dealers choice!
J - Jam. In all of the places.
K - Kindness. It never ceases to amaze me how kind his soul is.
L - Lele - my closest, oldest and bestest mate. MiniMonkey loves her as much as i do. This makes my heart smile.
M - MiniMonkey. AlthIMG_2115 (1).JPGough he is nearly as tall as me he will always be MiniMonkey to me.
N - Narna head. If you ask him if he is cheeky, naughty, a boy, a princess or anything really his response will always be, ‘no. I am a narna head’
O - Overtime. The 2am, 4am cries in the night. The snuggles where you can’t let them go.
P - Poo. It truly is endless. Just because he is potty trained does not mean the butt wiping has ceased.
Q - Queen (of tantrums). I am always impressed at the zero to nuclear level of ultradivaness
R - Random. I adore the randomness of a toddlers mind and the conversations we have.
S - Sarah and Duck. I love this show as much (ok, maybe a lttle more) than the MiniMonkey.
T - Tumble or Topsy and Tim. Both of them make me want to cry a little.
U - Unconditional. Until the day my time is up.
V - Valentines. The day he arrived. The day our world was forever changed.
W - Whirlwind (of Chaos). Minimonkey summed up quite nicely. It just never stops.
X - X-Rated. What is with toddlers loving to run around screaming ‘i’m naked’ as loud as possible?
Y - Yoghurt. The staple food of all small people (along with bread and cheese). And always to be found in his hair.
Z - Zzzzzzzzz. I miss sleep.

AndSoWeWent // Bitters ‘n’ Twisted Adventures

If you are a native to our Independent City then you are familiar with the Bitters ‘n’ Twisted family and the multitude of venues; each offering a differing drinking and dining experience.
For the purpose of this review I was lucky enough to head to my favourite neighbouring venues Buffalo & Rye and Bodega.  

Smoked meats and whiskey

Burritos and Tequila

Happy Happy days

First stop is Buffalo & Rye. Come out of New Street Station, up Bennetts Hill (past Bodega) and step into a cosy dining space where all are welcome for drinks and eats. I love the feel of this place (we are eyeing it up as a possible venue for an engagement party!) Sit at one of the large communal tables or perhaps you like a higher view from the sidelines...Either way you are in for a treat.
This evening I was part of a small team of Brum Bloggers who were invited to try out the new lunchtime sandwich menu.
Sandwiches you say.
I did. But these are sandwiches on a whole new level.
If you are willing to spend £6 in Pret (or any other sandwich establishment) I challenge you to get to Buffalo and spend £6.95 (up to £7.95) for a fresh made hot sandwich, fries and a drink (eat in or take out)
We were really lucky and got to try every item on the new menu and I must admit I really struggled to pick a favourite. So my top 3 were:

The Hot Brown (smoked turkey, super crisp bacon, bechamel sauce all on top of toasted sourdough)
French Dip (salt beef, smoked cheddar, onions on the softest sub roll and an amazing dipping gravy)
St Louis Gerber (soft sub roll with garlic butter, smoked ham, super crunchy and vinegartastic gherkins covered in melted cheddar)
Along with the food we were also offered some great drinks to try. Now the problem for me is that I very rarely drink (borderline non drinker unless you are throwing a gin at me!) and anything Whiskey based is not my friend (terrible teenage flashbacks); so I didn’t try the Kool Aid Cooler (Absolut Mandarin, Peach liqueur and Strawberry Kool Aid) or Jim’s Cherry Cola (Jim Beam, Cherry Heering, lemon juice and cola syrup). However, my fellow diners were all very pleased with them and I have soft version of Jim which was the best cherry cola I have ever had, and a muted version of the Kool Aid Cooler which was good but not a favourite (I’ve just never loved Kool Aid).
Buffalo & Rye is a fab place for lunch or dinner and as an added bonus review I took some friends for lunch a couple of weeks after and we had more excellent meals and I can vouch for the goodness of the Oh My cocktail (Jinzu gin, lemon and apple juice, apple bitters) as an afternoon treat for yourself when the small people are full of crazy!
Let’s move 2 doors down the hill and into South American goodness that is Bodega. My humble opinion is the Bodega does THE BEST NACHOS in all of the land (I had to use shouty letters I feel that strongly about them) and so as with the previous week I knew we were in for a treat. This evening was all about the new menu launch with some updated items and new faces too. This evening started off with a Blueberry and Elderflower Margarita and this was delicious (and dangerous), whilst chatting with some new and familiar faces we scoffed down the nachos and drinks while we waited for the main event.
Who knew you needed Dr. Pepper pulled pork in your life?
I didn’t and you do.
The burritos as always were packed full of yum and the soft tacos have been updated to now include 4 to a serving so more value for money and easier to share (if you're a sharing kind of person). I tried the roasted veg option and didn’t feel like I was missing out on a protein (as the good old carnivore that I am)
More drinks were flowing and this time it was a Royal Sangria which was packed with sparkling wine, passion fruit, apple juice, mint and topped with soda and a new drink to me; a Mezcal gin and tonic which was infused with orange and lemongrass.
I should have loved this drink.
I really wanted to like this drink.
But sadly, Mezcal and me (as with the whiskey) are not meant to be friends.
Brum is about to get a Wahaca and Chilango to add to our South American offerings but personally they will have to go a long way to convince me anything else is better.
Final bit of info. Both are part of the Independent Birmingham family so if you have a card head to the website and see what offers they have on.
I was lucky enough to be fed in exchange for a review, and I promise that these opinions are very much my own.

Commuting Vol 1

For my ‘dayjob’ i commute to London 3 days a week
I am on the train
I sit in the quiet zone
I think the reason for this is in the title of the carriage

Over the past 12 months I have seen many things in the quiet zone
Phone calls
Very loud phone calls
Phone calls so loud I can hear them through my noise cancelling headphones
Infuriates me
Loud laptop typers
The type of typers that are angryallthetimeandhitthespacebarEXTRAhardfordramaticeffect
Some people do not understand table etiquette
Let me give you a visual 
seatsso, where should the next person sit?????
I know my fellow commuter that you understand the rules

3 can sit opposite as I’d rather spread out my stuff sideways

I have seen 2 grown men argue about an arm rest
They even dragged the train manager into it
Manager had the best response…..Move seats most of the carriage is empty
Neither one moved! (I seem a little more normal now about my seating preference!)
I saw a woman arrested because she had the wrong ticket on the wrong train and refused to pay for a new one
She also refused to give her name to the train manager
She also refused to sign the paperwork to say she refused all the other things she refused
I’ve seen people argue over exactly what ‘quiet’ means
I think it should be renamed the silent carriage (stolen from a comedian from Mock The Week)

For now I continue my commute, and I continue to be angry at those who make noise in my carriage.
Occasionally I speak up
No one has shouted at me...yet.


Mornings according to Minimonkey!
First thought  - I’M AWAKE!
Out of bed and off to the gate to see if it has magically disappeared in the night
Rattle the gate
Rattle the gate again
Mummy didn’t hear me
Hmmmmm, wonder why they aren't awake yet
(it’s 5.30m!)
It’s ok I can play
Oooooo I know i’ll pick out some clothes
(Empties all clothes)
Now for a book
(37 books on the floor)
Time for a sing a long I do love belting out Baa Baa and then Twinkle and then Bus and not forgetting Monkies on the Bed
It’s been aggessssss…..wonder if mummy and daddy are awake yet
(no we are not: it’s 5.37am! - ok we are awake and listening to him have a whale of a time, but no way we are getting up)
Rattle the gate
Rattle the gate again
Mummy didn’t hear me again
Hmmmmm, wonder why they still aren't awake yet
Think i’ll go and have a snooze
Rattle the gate
Shout mummy
Rattle the gate again
HI MUMMMYYYYYY (to be fair to him it is 6.15am and time to get up and ready for nursery)
Wash face
Brush teeth
Let mummy wash face again
Let mummy brush teeth again
Wash Bear
Brush Bears teeth
Time for clothes
Mummy has picked out a rubbish outfit
I pick out my clothes
Red trousers
Red tee shirt
Red socks
Mummy says i look like a giant tomato
I think i look awesome
Straight to the kitchen
Mummy says i can’t have crisps for breakfast
Mummy says i can’t have a biscuit
Mummy says i can’t have anything (that’s because mummy knows he will have 2 breakfasts at nursery!)
Mummy says i have to wear shoes
Shoes on! (mummy says well done, and about time!)
Time  Check 6.55am
Out the door we go
I’m exhausted just typing this out, I’m sure we all feel the same after the morning battles! God knows how much worse it will be once we start chucking in using the toilet too! (that’s our next battle!)


Minimonkey is 2nadabit years old
He is my world
He is daddymonkeys world
He makes me a better person
He made me a mum
I wish my mum would have met him
He is the happiest soul i know
He sees the good in everything
I want him to stay that way
I want to teach him that he can grow into whatever he wants
IMAG3452He has long hair
He is not a girl
Yes he has had a hair cut
No I'm not cutting it all off
When people call him ‘her’ i don’t correct them


He loves me even when i haven’t had a shower/ brushed my hair/ ironed my teeshirt

I don’t think he loves me when I don’t give him the biggest piece of cake (honestly we have had epic public tantrums when it comes to and him)
Minimonkey should have been born in January
He finally rocked up on Valentine's day
I will never receive a Valentine's gift again; apparently his birthday trumps my card!
Each day he falls in love with a new inanimate object (today it was his miniman broom: he is currently asleep with it!)
I don’t think he’s noticed that we don’t really have a clue how to parent
I don’t know what the future holds
I do know that i want to be there for him whatever it throws our way
His favourite food is anything (though mostly cake)

Bear: can you tell we thought long and hard about a name
His favourite teddy is Bear (his Grumpa bought him and it was his first: this makes me beyond happy) 

He is a quick little bugger
He has just entered the ‘terrible twos’ (So far it’s not too bad... I said so far!)
He called me mum the other day. I quickly told him my name was mummy (I am nowhere near ready for mum yet!)
His favourite nursery rhyme is ‘monkeys on the bed’
His favourite show is a combination of Clangers, Sarah & Duck,The Chase and WussyWat (I am happy with the first 3, still not sure about the 3rd)
There will be no Peppa Pig or Iggle Piggle in this house
He is my minimonkey
He is 2andabit years old (i know i already popped that in!)
Our lives are forever changed