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Alexander Residence

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

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Sunday, 8 January 2012

I'm a genie in a bottle

 Mummy look!

 Got genie in it.
 Genie gone!
 Mummy look!  Where genie gone?
 No genie
 Genie gone walk in woods!
 Maybe if I shut it again
 Kiss it and make a wish
Rub it.  

Maybe genie come out?

We just spent a magical weekend visiting my brother and his girlfriend, at her mum's house in the middle of the woods.  Mr G fell in love with this ornament by the pond in the garden, he was convinced it had a genie in it.

It's a truly amazing part of the world, a beautiful house and a lovely way of life.  The cottage was an Aladdin's cave of beautiful objects, with a Rayburn, a wood burning stove, the comfiest sofa in the world and a wood for a back garden.  I will be mainly living on Rightmove this week.

Whilst reading The Guardian, in front of the wood burning stove, while the kids watched TV, I sympathised greatly with Tim Dowling, whose column was all about his family wreaking havoc as house guests.  My husband and I were frequently heard growling 'Step away from the Rayburn, put that ornament down, don't leap off the sofa'. 

So big thank you to my brother and his lovely girlfriend and family for having us, and *ahem*, you two have all this to come.

Oh and we saw the sea, a rare sight for Nottingham kids.

Mr G in role as King Canute shouting "How dare you!" Ocean, turn back now! I have ordered you to retreat before me, and now you must obey! Go back!" ....Okay, so it was more like, 'Go way!'

Back to normal now though, how was your weekend?

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Saturday, 7 January 2012

Action Aid Bloggers Tea Party

Have you heard about the Action Aid Bloggers Tea Party?  I'm going, so is helloitsgemma, hope to see you there! Here's all the information you need from Action Aid:

We are having a special new year's Bloggers Tea Party and you are invited!
Join us on the 19 January for a fun-filled afternoon of networking, storytelling, blogging tips and cake.
Hear about our work helping the poorest children around the world, stories from supporters and how bloggers can get involved in our mission to end poverty. 
ActionAid blogger stamp
We'll have some very special guests joining us including comedian and ActionAid ambassador Mark Watson.
This event is for bloggers of all levels and experience - so whether you're just starting out in the blogging world or an expert blogger, it would be great to see you.
When: 19 January 2012
Where: ActionAid, 33-39 Bowling Green Lane, London EC1R 0BJ
Time: Please arrive at 1-2pm for the guest speakers.
We will have a creche on site so please do bring your little ones!

To register click here 

Any questions about the event? Tweet us @ActionAidUK, write on ourFacebook wall or email us

And don't forget to check out the hashtag on twitter #actionaidteaparty


Friday, 6 January 2012

Best present, with bells on

The Alexander Residence prize for the most magical present packaging this year, goes to....drum roll...Warner Brothers.

It was a few days before Christmas. My husband had just finished work for the holidays, we'd been to collect him from the station, we were starting to feel festive. On the way home we stopped at the sorting office to pick up a parcel. All the internet present shopping I had ordered had already arrived, so I had the feeling it might be something unusual. You know when the postie ticks both the 'too large' and the 'needs a signature' box that you're onto something exciting.

I emerged from the sorting office with a big brown box, and that's when I started to hear the faint jingle of sleigh bells. A magical sound that immediately woke my inner child. My actual children couldn't wait to see what was hiding in the box either. We peeped.  Inside was a hessian sack tied with red ribbon and a gold bell, with a label addressed to 'The Alexanders'. We took one look, our eyes popped, our jaws dropped.

 'Is it from Father Christmas?' my 5 year old whispered reverently.

I felt it was only right to tell the truth, although those few minutes of dalliance with the sack being from Father Christmas were rather lovely. I explained where it came from, and we started looking through the films and goodies inside.

It didn't take long for my 3yo to claim the model campervan from Scooby Doo, so my husband quickly removed the entire Scooby Doo back catalogue on DVD it was housing. It's a very special collector's edition which would make a fantastic gift for the Scooby Doo lovers out there (And quite frankly what self respecting child of the sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties, noughties or twenty tens isn't?)

Warner Brothers have classic Christmas titles for children: Dr Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Polar Express, which we've added to our box of Christmas DVDs.

There was Yogi Bear (with, I might add, Mr Justin Timblerlake voicing Boo Boo) and the rather fab looking Scooby Doo Curse of the Lake Monster the live action movie. And although I don't let my 3yo anywhere near it yet, Ben 10 came in very handy when the older cousins were staying over. We've also fallen in love with Happy Feet again, and now can't wait for Happy Feet Two to come out on DVD.

My children are finally both old enough to both appreciate the magic of film, and these titles reminded me what an exciting part of family life that is.  I'm really looking forward to reviewing some Warner Brother's titles in this space.

Picture credit © Photographer Michelle Milliman  Agency:

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Wednesday, 4 January 2012

And she got off at Macclesfield Little Legacy 25


She was sophistication personified
an angel with hazel eyes
unmoved by my yearning
to my passion burning
her indifference would not yield
as the train stopped
my hopes dropped
and she got off at Macclesfield

This week I went home.  I call it home, it's not where I live, but it's where I grew up. For the first time in years I went by train, which reminded me of this poem which always makes me smile.  This week's little legacy is about the place where my mum and dad decided to disembark in 1984, and call home.

I arrived on Monday at the train station.  Sadly the last time I was there, we were collecting my brother, who'd arrived from London, shortly after mum died. I've written poems about that moment, too personal to share here, but wonderfully therapeutic.  But this time I surprised myself, I smiled, thinking of all the times mum was there to greet me there and of her elaborate waving off rituals.

I went home to look after my dad.  He was having a routine operation so he was in and out in a day, but needed a bit of TLC.  So I also walked the corridors of the hospital my mum worked in, and where she spent some of her last weeks, this time last year.  That felt okay, I had been nervous I would go to pieces, but I didn't feel that way. This time I could also remember happier times, meeting mum for lunch in the hospital canteen and walking home through the hospital from secondary school.

While I was home, I met up with an old school friend who has just bought a house near my Dad, I walked along the street where I went to Brownies, and the place where mum collected our child benefit.  So many little snippets of memory hidden amongst the backstreets I grew up in.  Even though we've not seen each other for a couple of years, and not since mum died, my friend and I slipped into easy conversation, reminiscing, over sloe gins, until the early hours of the morning. 

Until recently I've avoided wandering too much when I've been home, thinking it would be painful.  My friend suggested maybe it could be the opposite, it would bring me closer to my mum.

She was right, it did.


Little legacy is a remembrance project , a positive and creative space, to celebrate small things handed down by predecessors. Feel free to link up a little legacy you've been thinking about this week, or to leave one in the comments. Here's the code and here's more on Little Legacy

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Saturday, 31 December 2011

Not making resolutions, just time

The last two years I made resolutions.  The last two years my world came crashing down on or around New Year's Day. My mum was admitted to hospital on New Year's Day in 2010 and on the 3rd January 2011.  The resolutions were soon forgotten, I realised life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.  After mum died last year, I let my subconscious wander wherever it needed in 2010, there wasn't much structure, many goals or plans.  But it really helped me grieve.

This year I am not making resolutions.  I am making time.  I've been reading up on time management and taking control of my time in 2012, so that I can deal with whatever life throws at me and still achieve some goals of my own. I've been reading, amongst other things, Nadine of Juggle Mum's book But I don't have time to write.  It's very inspiring.

When I left teaching I left behind timetables, plans and bells and embraced the freedom of having less structure in my life.  I had been in the education system from the age of 4 until I was 29, with only one year's break. It was heaven to not have to work to a timetable. Small children and mum's illness and death meant I succumbed more and more to chaos.  But I'm ready to reign that back in now.

The cornerstone to time management, according to Nadine, is a diary you love. This was in my stocking and I love it:
Wishing you all the best in 2012.  May time be on your side too!

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Friday, 30 December 2011

Renew and refresh

I watched my electrician neighbour install solar panels on his roof this Winter and had a severe case of keeping up with the Joneses.  He's tried to explain the maths to me several times, which I'm not qualified to re-explain, but basically once you've found the initial funding, it sounds great.  These kind of projects really appeal to me.  In my heart of hearts I always imagine myself on a muddy smallholding with a wind turbine, chickens and a vegetable patch.

Mr G gets to grips with water power

This summer we visited the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales. It's a fantastic place to get to grips with the urgency of renewable energy, and the huge array of options.  It's great for kids, really hands on with lots of craft, inventing and science activities.  The vegetarian cafe is amazing.

The Alexanders cause a tidal wave
Currently we're toying with a move to somewhere more rural.  I know our one raised bed only got planted last summer due to my Dad, and that I actually would probably find chickens just one more thing to chase after.  But, wherever we finally lay our hats,  I like to think once we feel truly settled somewhere, that we will invest in renewable energy.

Not a dalek, no it's the thought provoking treadmill of happiness...
But being 'unsettled' doesn't mean we can't do something now.  This time last year, a rep from one of the bigger energy companies knocked at my door, took over my kitchen for half an hour and over a very sycophantic cup of tea, convinced me changing energy supplier would save me money.

Soon enough my original, greener supplier called me up to ask where it went wrong.  I remembered my principles and changed back.  Anyway, one year on and I would say my bill is pretty much exactly the same as the rival supplier's offer.  But my carbon footprint is much smaller.

I'm hoping 2012 is the year we set downs roots and start being part of the renewable energy solution. 47% of our energy in this country is used for heat, creating 175 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year.  There are a few ways you can reduce carbon emissions through renewable energy.

Look at renewable energy companies.  Where does your supplier get their energy from and what are they doing to harness renewable energy sources?  Switching (or returning) to a green energy supplier can reduce your home's carbon footprint by a third.

If you are interested in the idea of generating your own renewable energy look into whether you could be eligible for green energy funding.

And if you're looking for an electrician in and around Nottingham to install solar panels, I can put you in touch with my neighbour.
This is a sponsored post

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