ARGH! This is such exciting times!
The amazing retail and leisure park that is MK1 (that epic place that houses the Odeon IMAX and all those clothes shops…) asked me to join forces with them to help showcase my favourite picks of fashion, home and leisure that is on offer there!
I am guilty of being far from relaxed most times. It’s understandable, I have a toddler, I’m nearly 9 months pregnant and feel the weight under general pressures and responsibilities that life brings.
Common relaxation methods just end up exhausting me or exasperating the situation. Things like watching TV, internet or my smartphone that tends to be super glued to my hand during my waking hours.
What other ways are there to relax? Really turn off from the outside world and all the hustle and distractions that surround me constantly? And would they even work for me?
If you’re a parent then I’d say it’s quite a safe assumption that you’ve heard of the Julia Donaldson book, The Gruffalo. With its catchy rhymes, colourful characters and good humour it is no wonder that it has captured the hearts and imaginations of children around the world. It was one of the very first books I bought when I knew I was expecting my little boy and we all fell under the story’s spell. The kid loves it when I do the voices of the different animals and although he can’t read yet, I know he appreciates the vivid illustrations from Axel Scheffler.
Now The Gruffalo Experience has arrived in Milton Keynes and when I was asked if our family would like to steal a sneak peek before it opened to the public, we of course, couldn’t say no.
All that I knew prior to arriving was that it is in Middleton Hall in the centre:mk and The Gruffalo Experience promises a walk through and interactive journey into the deep dark wood.
From the outside the space looks like a giant white inflatable bouncy castle but once inside, you get transformed into the pages of the storybook. The way they have used the space and effects used to create the feeling of you being in the story are fab but all totally in keeping with the original book. There’s no interpretations or disappointment, thankfully.
The staff are friendly and energetic as they take on the role as your guide through the wood. I think they engaged really well with children of all ages. I was a little worried that my son was going to be too young to appreciate the experience. At only 20 months he was the youngest there but that didn’t stop him from being captivated by the characters and the storytelling, so even if you’ve got children under the age of three I think this is a lovely thing to experience as a family and you can take a pushchair inside too. For older children there is lots of opportunity for participation and learning what it’s like to be one of the characters from the book.
The Gruffalo Experience is open at the centre:mk from 19 March – 10 April 2016.
This is definitely the must-do event for the Easter 2016 hols. Tickets are £7.95 per attendee (adult or child) and under two’s are free of charge. Check out the centre:mk’s website to find out how to book tickets:
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Bullying can take form in many different ways.
Some are obvious. Someone takes a dislike to someone else and makes it a habit of picking at them. Insults, maybe even physical violence. Some bullying can take place when it’s masqueraded as ‘harmless’ teasing. Making someone the butt of a joke over and over again but laughing it off as part of their humour as not being serious. Sometimes bullying can be hard to spot, hidden amongst family or close friends.
Unless you’ve experienced it first-hand, it can be quite hard to understand what all the fuss is about. Particularly the bullying that is hard to spot. I can only speak from personal experience but bullying, which I will generalise as anyone being made to feel inadequate, that they don’t fit in or are different or that they are doing something wrong in the eyes of another with no just cause or reason.
Sometimes bullying can be solely about one thing or it can be many things. When you’re young, when I was young, there wasn’t just one reason that I felt segregated from others, it felt or at least pointed out to me that there was a dozen or more reasons why I was different and that it was a bad thing. It was pretty hard to swallow.
Those things live with you. You may grow up, become a responsible adult and have children of your own but sometimes just one thing can happen and those dreaded feelings you experienced over and over again when you was a child return, reminding you brutally that there is some things that are hard to forget.
Now let’s not feed depression. I know that the problem with being bullied is in the bullies themselves, they equally need as much time and energy spent in helping them as those who suffer at the hands of them but sometimes I feel the need to apologise for the lasting bits of damage, some I feel will never fully disappear.
For one thing, I am socially awkward. Sometimes, particularly in face to face groups or meetings I feel painfully insecure and shy. I can easily guess that this can come across as me being dismissive or unfriendly. It really isn’t. It’s more that I am caring too much about what you think about me. How crazy is that? It’s something I try and work on and always do my best to be friendly and open and loving to everyone that I meet.
I can’t take jokes about myself very well. Those common teases or pull ups that are inevitable in life can sometimes hit someone who has been bullied harder. It leaves me feeling like a killjoy. And then in the other extreme, being wrapped in cotton wool and having issues sugar coated can be hard to swallow. I’m sensitive, not an idiot. Like my weight for example. Using food as a comfort blanket through most of my adolescence and young adult life took its toll on my body and health. People trying to reassure me that I wasn’t overweight and just fine as I was, was hard to swallow. I could see the weighing scales and knew how far away from a healthy weight and fitness level I really was.
I can’t bad mouth anyone. Feeling like a mix of a peacekeeper and a loving fool. I know it can go with the territory of friends or acquaintances to want to dig at each other, especially when you’re angry or annoyed. But I can’t do it. I will always do my best to see the good in everyone, to see beauty in everyone and to trust until proven I can’t.
I’ll try and befriend anyone and everyone. Even though people can be the cause of the most pain we feel in this existence, they can also be the biggest joys too. I want to be friends with everyone. I don’t want to hide away anymore. Probably a common post-bullying feeling is that you want to be loved and accepted by the world. Not always possible.
As an adult, anxiety and my persuasion to depression is high. Some of the reasons I was made to feel different still thrive today and I think the lasting effects of bullying can remain in the details. I don’t look 100% Caucasian so people like to enquire ever so tactfully “Where are you from, you don’t look British?” Where are you from? It can be a hard question to face as a child, more so when other children catcall various insults to assume your ethnicity when they don’t believe you’re from the same place they are. Children can’t comprehend distance lands, heritages, or ethnicities. Pure innocence that gets pulled apart by questions of where do you belong, where do you come from? Like you are treading on eggshells on someone else’s land. I assure you I was born in Northampton hospital and I’ve lived my whole life in Milton Keynes but I look a little different. So ignorance can speak and it still makes me feel embarrassed and a bit awkward but nowadays I do have a well-rehearsed near-perfected response. I wish I had one as a child but then I don’t assume the results would’ve been much different.
Basically, I wanted to get off my chest about how something, anything can happen to someone one year ago or ten years ago or even twenty years ago and it can stay in part with them for the foreseeable. I don’t hold grudges, I don’t want to waste my life on negative, hateful feelings against individuals or circumstances. I just feel the need to hold my hands up and say I’m sorry it affected me. Yes, I can be more sensitive than the next person. Yes, I try to help it but sometimes I can feel vulnerable again.
Can we just be kind to each other now please?
Yesterday was a crazy day. What had started off as a really positive, exciting day, slowly deteriorated into a hard and stressful one.
After our really old banger Bruce left us back in January we have been without a car. This might not sound that hard for all the thousands of families who live without a car 24/7 but when you’re used to having something and then you lose it. Well, it takes some adjusting. Yesterday morning we had a knock at the door and it was a delivery driver from Nissan with our brand new car. We already had his name planned and Gaston it was (named after the cute ladybug character from Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom). He was finally here, after weeks and weeks of waiting. He is gorgeous, so shiny and a pleasure to drive. Gaston is already earning his place as the most fun car ever.
The day started to turn sour when someone close to me decided to do the most immature thing and lash out, I presume in a jealous way about the car. I know we can all be jealous and I shouldn’t listen to people who are acting in irrational anger, but I did. It knocked the wind out of my sails and I felt bad for enjoying our little family getting something nice.
The afternoon then took the worst possible turn when my son fell ill with an uncontrollable fever. Thankfully in his short twenty months he hadn’t suffered with much sickness but yesterday it was bad. His small cold that had given him an intermittent fever and sniffles the previous day had come back with force. He was distressed, burning a 40-41 degree temperature and paracetamol, fluids and cuddles were not helping one little bit. After speaking with our doctor’s surgery I was told that there was no appointments available and I had no choice but to ring the NHS 111 phone service. They were helpful and I’m grateful that we have the service there to use. I was able to get a nurse/medical professional to call me back within ten minutes and talked me through his symptoms properly and gave me some much needed advice on how to use over a combination of medicines to lower his fever.
I would like to note about 111 is that I didn’t feel that the initial call operator who took my call was perhaps the most easy to deal with. With questions like “is he at deaths door?” I really didn’t feel like I was being taken seriously or the question was insightful to the health of my boy and I felt like he had a touch of sarcasm to each of his questions. Maybe I’m being touchy as it was a stressful time but still, I don’t think using terminology like that was helpful or useful to anyone.
When I had hung up with the 111 team and was waiting for my own GP to ring me back, my landline rang. I thought it strange as I had been dealing with the medical stuff on my mobile and my landline NEVER rings. It’s more ornamental than of any use, but ring it did. On the other end of the line was someone asking for me by name, they said and I quote, “I am calling on behalf of Milton Keynes City Council about the accident you had that wasn’t your fault”. I responded “You’re calling from Milton Keynes council?” and was answered with “Yes, I am calling from Milton Keynes Council, we are working on behalf of the NHS and I am calling about your accident that wasn’t your fault”. I was losing patience at this point. Blatant cold calling, fraudulent lies. I said that no, I hadn’t been in any accidents and was then aggressively told “It was your husband then, he was in an accident”, at that point I just hung up, angry. I know cold calls are now to be expected as part of the ‘norm’ these days but throwing around that you are working for the local council and on behalf of the NHS is ridiculous. Someone who is more vulnerable would hear those sort of names and start divulging all manners of personal and sensitive information. Crazy and quite scary.
I then had my actual GP ring me and asked me and my son to come into surgery so they can check him over. We was given our own private doctors office at the surgery and the practice nurse kept checking on us every few minutes, taking his temperature (which even after paracetamol refused to drop below 40) and generally making us feel extremely looked after. The hardest part for my son was that they needed to get a urine sample from him to rule out various infections, the practice didn’t have any nappy urine bags so first I had to strip him and try and wait patiently with a test tube to try and catch a sample with and then when that wasn’t appearing to work, I had to sit for over 90 minutes with my stripped son on my lap whilst he sat on a sick bowl with me trying to encourage him to go for a wee and getting him to drink lots of water. Of course he wasn’t feeling at all comfortable and he refused to go. I don’t blame him and in the end they gave up and said his ears and throat were swollen and red enough to justify a course of antibiotics which would cure any UTI infections along with it.
This is the first course of antibiotics our little boy has had to have. Very lucky in hindsight that although he’s had many allergy and skin problems in his short life, infections is something he hadn’t been plagued with. It’s a real hardship for both of us administering the liquid antibiotics. He can smell them coming a mile off and refuses to take them so it’s a few minutes of struggling and encouraging him to take the dose. I hate feeling like I’m torturing him into it but it’s for his own good. Sorry son.
Thankfully today has been better, his temperature finally dropped in the middle of the night and he’s finally had his eyes open, eaten something and been more ‘with it’. The sun is shining and finally the weekend is close.
As I’ve said before, normal life doesn’t ever stop and no matter how hard you plan or have moments you wish to celebrate, life always has a way of keeping you on your toes and all we can do is just roll with it.
Tonight I predict we’ll get home, shut the door. Have lots of family cuddles, cartoons and chocolate on the sofa. Chocolate, after all cures everything, right?