Thursday, 18 May 2017

88 Days Lost At Sea and then a POW - The story of my great uncle

Today would have been my great uncle's 96th birthday, but sadly he passed away in 2004 aged 82. The younger brother of my grandfather, the two boys were raised in Bromley despite being born in Canada in 1920 and 1921. Their parents separated when uncle Denis was 6 and granddad was 7 and their mother returned home to Britain to be closer to her father and their father remained in Canada and they never saw him again.

Denis on the left with his brother George

They grew up together living with their mother Nellie and her father in Bromley. When war broke out he was conscripted into the Royal Navy in 1940 aged 19. He became a gunner in late 1940 and was transferred aboard the Norwegian merchant ship D/S Woolgar in 1942.

The Woolgar

On the 23rd February 1942 the Woolgar departed Trincomalee, Sri Lanka bound for the straits of Tjilatjap where she was delivering ammunition and TNT to British forces in Java (now known as Indonesia). This was just before the defence of Java broke down and in the chaos that followed she wasn't notified of the new situation and she headed straight into danger. On board were 48 souls, of whom 38 were Chinese.

Google Map of the Indian Ocean showing  Trincomalee,
Tjilatjap (Cilacap) and Port Blair

In the morning of March 7th 1942, about 150 miles south-west of Tjilatjap, an aircraft was spotted overhead. The aircraft circled above them several times before disappearing to the north. Woolgar turned around and headed south again, having decided to return to Ceylon (Sri Lanka). A few hours later several Japanese aircraft appeared and opened fire with bombs and machine guns and a lucky shot hit where the ammunition was stored, resulting in a tremendous explosion and within 12 minutes the Woolgar had disappeared beneath the waves.

Of the 48 souls aboard, 41 made it into the lifeboats (a 42nd soul also managed to escape, the captain, but he was separated from the crew and after 18 days at sea alone he also became a prisoner of the Japanese). Three of the crew had been injured during the attack, which included my uncle who received a head injury. Tensions grew between the Chinese crew and the Norwegian officers, mostly due to the differing views on what had to be done with the rationing of food and water, which was frequently stolen and when officers confronted the thieves they were met with violence and threats with axes, along with demands for more food. This resulted in very little sleep as no one felt safe enough to let their guard down.

Initially, they headed in the direction of Columbo via Cocos Island rather than risking imprisonment if they headed towards the much closer Java. After 12 days at sea, the Chinese refused to continue, they wanted to get to land at either Java or Sumatra. The situation became intolerable and eventually, the two crews separated with those who wanted to go to Java in one boat and those for Columbo in the other. Nothing is known of what happened to the other boat.

They sailed on and after a big storm pushed them off course they realised they were a couple of hundred miles closer to Australia than their intended destination, so they made the decision to head in that direction, a decision which was also based on the wind direction. Slowly the Chinese crew members amongst them began to lose their will to live and died one by one. By the 70th day, all the Chinese and one European has passed away leaving 6 people still alive.

They drifted for 88 days across the Indian Ocean and endured terrible suffering. Uncle Denis said "It was horrendous on the boat but we tried to keep our spirits up. There were many times I thought we would die. There were Norwegians and Chinese who couldn't speak English but the chief engineering officer Olsson (1st Mate Birger G Olsson from Sem) did and we became friends."

A heavy rainfall provided them with extra drinking water, while seagulls supplemented their rations of food. These were cooked in coconut oil which they had found in the boat. After 86 days they saw land. By then the wind conditions had forced them to change course again towards Ceylon and thinking they were now approaching India their spirits rose.  The disappointment when they landed and spotted a ship with a Japanese flag approaching must have been heartbreaking. For 88 days they had fought for their lives in the lifeboat, only to end up in Japanese hands. They had landed in Port Blair on the Andaman Islands off Burma (the islands had been captured whilst they had been at sea) and they were about 600 miles east of their intended landing points.

The date was June 7th 1942 and during their 88 days at sea, on the 18th May their 72nd day at sea, uncle Denis turned 21. Out of the 48 aboard the Woolgar when she set sail, with the whereabouts of the other lifeboat unknown and all presumed to have perished, 6 survived to reach Port Blair, this would eventually drop to 5 with one officer dying within a few days of their arrival from dysentery and exhaustion.

On arriving at Port Blair uncle Denis said "We couldn't walk, we had to crawl on our hands and knees and eventually we were dragged to shore by the Japanese soldiers, our clothes were rags and we were starving. On the edge of death, I suppose. They gave us a bowl of rice that night and were fascinated to know how we had survived so long."

After 3 months in a hospital they were moved to a labour camp, then 6 months later all but my uncle Denis were taken to Singapore. However, he was told that they were being sent back to Norway as the Japanese were not at war with their country.  He then had to deal with another deprivation, for the next 3 and a half years he was unable to have a conversation with anyone as there were no English speakers on the island, apart from him. He said "I didn't have a proper chat with anyone for the whole time. That was the hardest part. I was kept in the servants' headquarters with all the Burmese refugees, but we found ways to communicate but it was hard. As I was a driver the soldiers used me to drive them from place to place. It became my life for three years." It seems that one day uncle Denis and the four remaining Norwegian officers were ashore at Port Blair when he saw some Japanese beating up an Indian who could not get their car to start and uncle Denis went to the car and started it. The Japanese considered him a wonder man and used him as their driver from then until he was sent to Ross Island (an island near Port Blair) in 1944 where he was then used as a labourer/general dogsbody until the British arrived on the 7th October 1945.

Denis on the 8th October 1945.
A screenshot of him speaking about his ordeal
the day after the reoccupation of the Andaman Islands by British Forces

Uncle Denis' story is a very curious one. The Japanese on the Andamans were very brutal towards the Indians living there. There were frequent beheadings and beatings were a daily occurrence. There were even some poison injections. This means they could have killed uncle Denis at any time, yet for some strange reason, they didn't. He cannot have been of any intelligence value to the Japanese, he was an anti-aircraft gunner with no access to secret equipment or codebooks. They never sought to get any propaganda value out of him, for example, parading him in front of newsreel cameras or newspaper reporters. When questioned the Japanese admiral/governor could not offer any real explanation, other than that the Japanese sailors had regarded him as "some sort of pet." There was never any question of uncle Denis having helped, or even offered to help, the Japanese, so it remains a very odd, one-off event.

Following the reoccupation of the Andaman Islands by British Forces on the 7th October 1945, uncle Denis was finally released. "When the war in the Pacific finished, I made it to India. I stayed in a hospital in Bangalore and was treated for dysentery." Despite his ordeal at sea, he still knew how he wanted to get home, back to his mother and older brother. "I got a ship back to Southampton in November 1945. I could have got a plane but I got over there by boat and it seemed right to go back by sea," he said.

Uncle Denis lived out his final years in Bromley but was left with a legacy of the horrors he endured during his time on the lifeboat and as a POW, he suffered a broken back and problems with his legs. In fact, as a child, I used to wonder why he still walked like he was still onboard his ship!

Denis (on the right) with his brother George
and his partner, my auntie Pearl. 

So today on his birthday, just like I do every remembrance day, I will pause and think about him and what he must have endured on that lifeboat, did he know it was his 21st birthday or had he lost track of days, did he wonder if he would see his birthday or would it be his last one? Back home, did his mother believe he had perished along with the ship, did my grandfather marry my nan missing his brother and believing he couldn't be there because he had died!

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Family History - Why I Started Learning About My Ancestors

As a child, I was always interested in history. It was my favourite subject at school and I enjoyed learning about the riots of Wales, such as the Rebecca Riots (when men dressed up as women to attack toll booths which charged them obscene amounts of money to pass). My biggest regret was that we didn't learn about the first and second World Wars (my GCSE history was all about China, which I'll admit I wasn't interested in, not when Britain itself has so many wonderful tales).

I was also very close to my grandparents. My granddad spoilt me, I admit it. I was the first girl in the family for 3 generations. My granddad had one brother and my father was an only child, so when I came along my granddad was instantly smitten. My grandparents were true soul mates, they married during the war but didn't want to start a family whilst the future was so uncertain, so my dad was born 2 years after it ended. You never saw one without the other, they were always together and you could tell they were in love.

my grandparents during the war
My Grandparents During World War II

When I was 12 my nan became very ill and ended up in the hospital, she was terrified her breast cancer had returned (it hadn't) and my grandfather refused to leave her side. On the Sunday my dad persuaded my granddad to come and have dinner with us and it was whilst we were all eating our Sunday lunch that she passed away peacefully in her sleep. We believe that she didn't want to go whilst my granddad was there and that she died of fear as she was terrified it was breast cancer but it was actually hardening of the arterial walls or heart disease. My granddad was so mad at my dad and he blamed him for his not being there with her. Afterwards, my granddad became a shell of the man he had been. He didn't want to live without her and he couldn't cope without her. My dad tried to get him to come and live with us, or at least nearer as we lived 3 hours away, but he refused to leave the house he had lived in with my nan.

About 16 months after my nan passed away we had a phone call from my granddad's neighbour to say he had collapsed and been rushed to the hospital. When we arrived my dad was given the devastating news that my granddad had advanced stages of prostate cancer and had slipped into a coma, one nurse, when my dad asked what was the chances of my granddad recovering were, stated: "Good God man, he's dead from the waist down!" For a week he remained in a coma and my dad stayed with him the whole time, talking to him and reminiscing and he says that he could tell by my granddad's expressions that he heard him and was remembering too. Finally, a week later and 16 months to the day that my nan passed, my granddad took his last breath with my dad at his side.

With my granddad aged 8

I missed my grandparents and I loved hearing stories about them. I remember when my nan died I would sleep with her coat because it smelt of her.

One of the stories that stood out was that my grandfather had been born in Canada. In fact, my dad told me that my granddad didn't even know until he was in his late 30s when he applied for a passport and he had to prove that he had a right to have a British passport and had to prove his father had been born in the UK as he himself had been born in Canada. Granddad was shocked and even exclaimed, "But I fought for this country during the War!" You see my grandfather and his brother never knew their father, they were raised by their mother and her father. I always wondered how they had been born in Canada and what had happened to their father. This is what got me interested in researching my family tree, especially when I become a mother myself as I wanted to show my children where they came from.

I started with the basics, what I knew for certain, which was my details, my parents' details and those of my grandparents. The basics being of course, when and where we were born, when and where my parents and grandparents married and when and where my grandparents died. But then I had to put my detective hat on to find out more information.

I decided to start with my nan first and I wrote to my dad's aunts, uncles and cousins on his mother's side for more information. I was very lucky and one uncle had been researching my nan's Champion side of the family and he was able to give me a lot of information.

Of course, my granddad's side of the tree was a lot harder. All I knew of his father was his name, which I had found on my granddad's Canadian baptism certificate. However even with just a name, and a common one at that, I have managed to learn a lot about my great grandfather.

Researching your tree can be a fascinating, and expensive, hobby. You feel like a detective as you try to put all the clues together to discover who your ancestors were, what kind of lives did they lead and what led them to make the choices that they did.

Researching isn't as easy as the adverts for Ancestry show, in fact, you will find a lot of errors, information mistranscribed, dates changed, even names changing. You have to remember that knowing your date-of-birth in those days wasn't as important as it is nowadays and people easily made mistakes and even lied. Sometimes the person recording the details would make mistakes, mishearing or misspelling names.

Researching your family history is like trying to put a giant jigsaw puzzle together, one that you have to try and put together in the middle of a hurricane and with no picture of the completed puzzle and yet, even with all the challenges, it become addictive and you find yourself wanting to complete the puzzle, even though you know you never will!

Sunday, 8 January 2017

The Internet Rules

Are your children aware of the dangers of social media and how to stay safe online? Do you have rules about how much information they are allowed to share? Do they know the risks of sharing too much? 

The other night I sat down with my two oldest daughters, Betty aged 11 and Gina aged 10, and we watched Kayleigh's Love Story and I also plan to discuss this with 13-year-old Robbie and in a toned down way to 7-year-old Clare. 

Kayleigh's Love Story is a chilling film about a Leicestershire schoolgirl who was groomed online before being raped and murdered. The five-minute film was made by Leicestershire Police to warn of the dangers of grooming and sexual exploitation. It tells the true story of 15-year-old Kayleigh Haywood who began speaking to Luke Harlow, a man she had never met, on 31st October 2015. Over the course of 13 days, they exchanged 2,643 messages and Harlow told Kayleigh all the things many teenage girls want to hear, he told her she was beautiful and how much he cared for her and how special she was. Harlow was grooming Kayleigh, along with two other girls he had also been speaking to, but it was Kayleigh who finally agreed to spend the night at his house. She spent all night on the 13th November, as well as the next day. In the early hours of Sunday the 15th November, having been held against her will by Harlow and his next door neighbour, Stephen Beadman, Kayleigh was raped and murdered by Beadman

Kayleigh's Love Story is a warning to children and young adults, both girls and boys, about the dangers of speaking to people they don't know online and highlight how quick and easy it can be for children to be groomed online without them or those around them knowing it is happening. 

My children don't have any social media accounts at the moment, (Robbie did but he is currently banned from it because of his behaviour. Betty has asked for it but I am reluctant to allow her at the moment), but they do play online games such as Minecraft and Roblox. Both Minecraft and Roblox, along with other social games like Club Penguin and many, many more, also have the potential to be abused. Children create accounts and add friends and even chat online with their new friends, assuming that these friends are also children, but like with any other online account, no one knows who they are really talking to or what they are saying. 

So after watching Kayleigh's Love Story, Betty, Gina and I began talking about what they could do to stay safe online and we came up with some rules which they have to obey in order to be allowed online. 

  • I have to know all their passwords and I have the right to check their accounts whenever I want to
  • They are not allowed to add anyone that they don't know in real life on Roblox or Minecraft (or any other social media accounts or games). If someone tries to add them and they think they know them, they need to ask them questions to prove that they are who they think they are and that they do actually know them. 
  • They are not to private chat, video message or skype with anyone they are not friends with and they don't know in real life.
  • They are never to arrange to meet in real life with anyone they met online
  • Not to share their mobile phone numbers or email address with anyone they don't know in real life. 
  • They are not to share any personal details such as their real names (I even use alias' on this site to protect their identities), their ages, where they live and where they go to school, email addresses or phone numbers on any posts, profiles or chats.
  • If they post any pictures, they are to make sure they don't show anything which could identify them or where they are, such as school uniforms or sports club kits or backgrounds which include signs or buildings which are easily identifiable. Also to switch their phone's location off when taking pictures so that the pictures don't display the GPS location of where the photo was taken. 
  • To never post or text any picture and/or message that they wouldn't be happy to show me or their dad. 
  • Most importantly, if they have any messages, emails or texts which ask them to break the rules or makes them uncomfortable, upset or scared in any way, then they are to show them to me immediately and not to delete them hoping it will go away. 
Children are at risk in a way that we never were growing up. When we were children we could close the door and shut the outside world out, but now the world follows us indoors thanks to phones and computers. Cyber-bullying is on the increase as is grooming and sexting and we need to help empower our children with knowledge to help them make the right choices and avoid getting tricked into these traps.

It is vital that children and young adults understand the importance of staying safe online. It is also important that adults learn to spot the signs that may indicate their child is being groomed, abused or bullied. 

But what is online grooming? The phrase refers to the deliberate actions taken by an adult to form a trusting relationship with a child with the intent of later engaging in sexual contact. Sexual explicit messages, images and videos may be exchanged and the offender may entice the child by sending them gifts, game items or money. Grooming can take place in chat rooms, through instant messaging, social networking sites, email and online games. Offenders will contact dozens of young people, communication will quickly become sexually explicit and any positive response will be seized on. The grooming process can take a matter of hours or years and boys are just as vulnerable as girls.

This is why it is important that we, as parents, understand the risks associated with our child/ren being online, how can we teach them to be safe if we don't understand the risks ourselves? We need to talk to our child/ren about these potential risks and to teach them how to be safe online. We shouldn't assume that school will teach our children, we need to teach them ourselves as well to ensure they get the message. 

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Goodbye my Friend

Dear Lee,

I still can't believe you're gone. That I will never see you again, speak to you again. The past few days have been difficult as I try to come to terms with the fact that I will never see you, speak to you again. But you're no longer in pain, you're no longer suffering, no longer being betrayed by a body that is failing you whilst your mind, your beautiful smart mind, remained unaffected, alert and aware.

However I can't stop the regret, regret that it has been so long since I last saw you, last spoke to you! The regret that I never made the effort to get your telephone number or address from your family after my phone died and I lost them. Four years have passed since I last visited London, but I'm glad I made visiting you the priority and I have the memories of that visit, that I was able to introduce you to hubby and to 4 of the children. All of them say that the highlight of that holiday wasn't having a ride on the London Eye, or spending the day at Lollybop, it was the walk along the Thames back to your house, it was sitting in your garden chatting till the kids started falling asleep, it was being with you again, just like it always used to be!

I remember the day we first met. I was 11 years old and I had just started secondary school. I didn't know anyone in my year, I didn't know anyone in the whole school, except my brother in his final year. Whilst the rest of the kids in my primary school had gone to one of two secondary schools, I had chosen a different one a few miles away. I loved my new school but making friends was hard, even harder when you're shy and to make matters worse, I had an hour wait after school had finished to wait for the train home, alone.

One day one of my classmates said she was waiting for the train home as well and did I want to hang out with her, so I did and when we finally reached the train station she introduced me to her family. Your mum was pregnant with your baby sister and you had all joined her for her appointment. In the ten minutes waiting for the train I knew you were going to be my best friend. You ignored how socially awkward and shy I was and you put me at ease. You had the ability to make friends fast and you were such a special person that it just shone out of you and I knew you were going to be the best friend I would ever have. The hard part was the fact you were only 9 and I had to wait two whole years until it was your turn to start secondary.

Before you started I heard a rumour. Someone was talking about your sister and saying it was a shame that one of her brothers would leave secondary school in a wheelchair. I didn't know which brother they meant, you or your younger brother, I hoped it wasn't you, but it was. We never really discussed your illness, you were just Lee to me. Your illness didn't define you, it was just part of you. You had a degenerative illness where your nervous system was slowly dying, you knew that it would shorten your life span and it would mean you would end up in a wheelchair, but you were determined to live life to the fullest, no matter what the future brought.

I have so many wonderful memories of you Lee, memories I will treasure for the rest of my life. My last three years at secondary school were better because of our friendship. You would often wait with me for the train home, so many wonderful memories of riding around town with you on the crossbar of my bike, or sometimes I would go home with you to wait. Every morning as soon as the train arrived at your stop, you would come and find me and we'd sit there chatting, lunch time and break time was the same.

Even when I left school we stayed in touch and I would often pop over on the train. The day I passed my driving test, your house was the first place I drove to alone to show you. You were too busy laughing at me and my 30-point-turn after I got my dad's car stuck in your cul-de-sac to be impressed. Being able to drive certainly made it easier for us to be friends and we'd often pop out for the day shopping or to the cinema.

I had never been out of the country so with your mum's help and along with another friend, we soon changed that and when I was 19 we went to Spain for a week on a coach trip. You quickly made friends with all the "elderly" as my daughter calls them. It was an amazing week and even the fact you needed a wheelchair by now, you didn't let it stop you and our favourite days were the water parks and the theme park. A few years later I joined your whole family on holiday for your sister's honeymoon. For some reason the hotel had messed up and had us down as a married couple, which we found hilarious and spent the week calling each other husband and wife.

Yet there was never any romantic interest in our friendship, I loved you as though you were my little brother. There was also the small matter of your sexuality, it never made a difference to me, but we never spoke about it, you never actually came out and told me you were gay, but I soon worked it out. It didn't matter to me though, you were still Lee, my best friend, and nothing would ever change that. I do wish we had spoken about it though, I wish I had told you it didn't bother me and I hope that you knew that. You knew I had a Christian upbringing and called myself a Christian and now I wonder if you ever worried I would judge you. I didn't, all I wanted was for you to be happy, no matter who you were with.

Then came the sad day you told me you were moving away to London and I was heartbroken. London was so far away and I worried I would never see you again. Part of me wanted you to stay, but I knew it was better for you if you went to London. London gave you more opportunities to see and do things, more hospitals for your care and the chance to go to university and learn, since you were too weak to get a job, you decided to learn instead and exercise that brain of yours.

I will never forget the week I spent with you in London, we had an amazing time. I remember being stood with you in your chair outside the cinema when Star Wars Episode 1 premiered, you knew I was obsessed with Star Wars (and Star Trek) so you made sure I could be there. The rude people in front of us made me mad when they wouldn't let you to the front of the fence, but you took it was your usual easy grace and spent the time on my shoulders instead, just like old times! My best memory of the week, aside from finally getting to watch Star Wars, was the day I took you to the Trocadero. Back then (I don't know what it's like now as I haven't been there since that day) there was only escalators, and the only way to go down, was to go all the way up first, and of course you're not supposed to take wheelchairs on the escalator. But we were young, we didn't think of the consequences, only that they were stopping you from going where you wanted to go, so we ignored the warnings and went up them. However a security guard saw us and chased us, up the escalators all the way to the top floor and then back down again. By the time we escaped the building we collapsed in a heap of laughter!

Memories like that Lee, they are what will keep me going. My memories of you and your brightly coloured hair which had my toddler nephew amazed, so amazed he couldn't take his eyes of you! My visits with you, whether it was your mum's, abroad or London. The days we would just up and leave for the day, wherever we wanted to go. It was always you and I together.

Of course, you moving to London changed our friendship. I settled down and started a family and you were living your own life in London and jetting around the world! You fought so hard to enjoy life, you never let your failing health stop you from doing what you wanted.

You taught me so much Lee, you taught me to live life to the fullest and not to let a debilitating illness get in the way of doing what you wanted, because you never did. You opened my eyes Lee, if it hadn't been for you I would never have flown in a plane, never have left this country, never have learnt that an illness doesn't define you, that you can still be whoever and whatever you want, still go wherever you want, because nothing can hold you back except you.

Your sense of humour and your outlook on life were amazing and you never let anything or anyone stop you from doing what you wanted to do. That is the lesson you taught me and that is what I will remember most, that and all the good times we had together.

I love you Lee and I will never forget my little brother from another mother!!!

Sleep tight Lee and shine like the star you always were!

5 Things About Me

Being a new blogger I decided to write a small post with 5 unknown facts about myself.

  1.  The name "My Crazy Brood" came from 11 year old Betty. We were at a family fun day during the summer holidays and Betty was asked to take part in a game and was asked who she was with, she answered "That crazy family over there!" When I decided to start the blog, the name seemed perfect but sadly My Crazy Family was taken so I used My Crazy Brood instead

  2.  To protect the children and their identities, I don't use their real names, instead I use either a nickname or their middle name. What ever you write on the internet can be saved for eternity so to protect them when they are older, I use different names

  3. We live in North Wales near the sea. I was born in England and moved to Wales when I was 6 but hubby is born and bread Wales.

  4.  Although I've lived in Wales since I was 6, I can only speak a little Welsh. When I left primary at 11 I was fluent, but living with English speaking families in an English speaking tourist town and attending a secondary school which allowed me to get away with doing all my work in English and even speaking English in my Welsh class meant I had forgotten most of it when I left school. I do try for the kids sake and when I worked in a well-known supermarket in a nearby Welsh speaking tourist town I did my best to speak Welsh to the customers I heard speaking Welsh. 

  5.  I suffer from anxiety, low self esteem and I can be a recluse. Choosing to spend my time alone, but then I get jealous when I see my friends having fun and hanging out together, even if they asked me to join them and I was the one who declined. Even my hobbies are lonely hobbies, such as reading and researching my family tree. 

If you have any other questions or anything you'd like to know. Comment down below. 

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The Last of the Firsts

On Monday, my youngest Emma started school. She's only just turned 3 and is starting in the nursery class.

Walking home without her it suddenly dawned on me that this was the last time one of my babies would be starting school for the very first time! It also got me thinking about all the other first's that I will never see again.

The last first cry
The last first smile
The last first laugh
The last first tooth
The last first step
The last first word
The last first day at playschool
The last first day at primary school

I will never see those again.

One day I put down each of my children down and I never picked them up again! I never realised at the time that it would be the last time I would hold them. If I had, I would have hugged them a little longer and a little tighter, I don't think I would ever have been able to put them down.

The same with bedtime stories. Never again would I sit there reading "A Squash and a Squeeze", instead I was replaced by books of their own or tablets and youtube.

Never again will I give them a bath and laugh as they splash and get me wet as I tried to wash their hair. Instead, I was replaced by a shower and music which they sing along to.

Never again will I sit there and brush their hair, pulling it into bunches or a plait. Now I'm replaced by a hairdryer, straighteners, and a mirror.

As they gain in independence I suddenly become redundant. This is the way it should be, but it doesn't stop you feeling sad when you realise all those things you no longer do and how much you wish you could do them again.

All the firsts which became last,

Time passes so quickly and we're so busy being tired and stressed that we miss them. We need to slow down, take a deep breath, stop a minute and hug them tight. Remember they (and you) will never be as young as they are right now again so cherish every moment.

There is a wonderful poem by Rebekah Knight which sums this all up completely

Slow Down Mummy
by Rebekah Knight

Slow down mummy, there is no need to rush,
slow down mummy, what is all the fuss?
Slow down mummy, make yourself a cup of tea.
Slow down mummy, come and spend some time with me.

Slow down mummy, let’s put our boots on and go out for a walk,
let’s kick at piles of leaves, and smile and laugh and talk.
Slow down mummy, you look ever so tired,
come sit and snuggle under the duvet and rest with me a while.

Slow down mummy, those dirty dishes can wait,
slow down mummy, let's have some fun, let's bake a cake!
Slow down mummy I know you work a lot,
but sometimes mummy, it's nice when you just stop.

Sit with us a minute,
& listen to our day,
spend a cherished moment,
because our childhood is not here to stay!

Friday, 19 August 2016

Girls Can Like Superman too

Whilst most girls are into princesses, Emma is a little different. Emma LOVES Superman, not just any Superman though, it has to be Dean Cain from Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

Her favourite outfits are her Supergirl costume, and she was heartbroken when daddy washed it and ruined the shield emblem. When he came home from work she kept telling him "You boke my duperman!" and wouldn't say anything else to him, she really made him feel bad, so bad that he immediately went on eBay and bought her another one!

She'll sit for hours watching Lois and Clark on my tablet and you'll sometimes hear "Poor duperman!" (usually when he's being attacked by Kryptonite).

The sad thing is, there aren't many toys of Superman. Even with the release of the Batman Vs Superman movie or the Supergirl TV show. Everything seems to be Batman! Even the Batman Vs Superman movie seemed to be more about Batman than Superman, with the latter just seeming to mope around on screen. In fact, I describe the movie as Batman, featuring Wonder Woman with special guest star Superman. Me personally, I  would have rather seen more of Superman than Batman! I just hope League of Justice is better. Robbie's favourite TV show is The Flash starring Grant Gustin as The Flash but, in the movies, The Flash is played by Ezra Miller and Robbie is undecided at the moment whether he wants to watch it.

Last week it was Emma's 3rd birthday and thanks to an online friend from America I found a beautiful Supergirl swimming costume that I knew Emma would love, but sadly they wanted £30 to send a £7 swimsuit from America to the UK. I even asked my friend to send me one if she found one, but sadly she couldn't find one, even though she would have gladly sent one if she had found one.

If we lived in America there would be more Superman/Supergirl items, but sadly they're harder to find in the UK. I did manage to buy her a Supergirl Barbie doll, but even that was expensive at £19.99

Her other present was a Superman teddy from Build-a-Bear with a supergirl costume from Betty, as well as a Sky teddy (from Paw Patrol) with an outfit (also from Build-A-Bear) Nanny and granddad got her a Paw Patrol bedding as we couldn't find any Superman.

She even had a birthday tweet from Dean Cain himself! (@really_rach was my old twitter name)

This was her birthday card from us from Moonpig

So, child toy developers, please remember that girls can like Superman as well and they would rather the Superman colours than pink!