The Last Week (23/05/2017)

Monday - Back in to the swing of things by getting back home to see Nikki and my little boy before grabbing my kit and heading out to Telford to play Five-a-side. After missing a number of weeks due to bank holidays and illness, I'm going to blame my recent absences for how I played as I wasn't at my best, far from it. I've been happier with my defending recently, with blocked shots and passes being more effective, but offensively i was poor, shots were weak and off target, passing not much better. That said I did get my goal that I set out to get, I caught the goalkeeper out with a long shot that I don't think he was expecting.
After settling down for the night I saw a Facebook post from The Ladbible which reported an explosion at a concert in Manchester. I check other more credible sources, but no-one was reporting anything. Regrettably I woke the next morning to have the story confirmed, that a suicide bomber had targeted people leaving an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena killing 22 and injuring 59 (at the time of writing). It goes without saying that my thoughts are with those who have been affected by this act. The human race never ceases to amaze me at both ends of the spectrum. At one end, there is someone out there who thinks they are justified to try and disrupt the lives of numerous people and, at the other end, how the majority pull together to support one another in times of need.
Tuesday - We went to the newly opened Dominos outlet in Shrewsbury to sample their wares, and they gave my little boy a helium filled balloon (you can probably guess where this is going!). Despite Nikki telling him she would hold on to it, he was insistent that he was going to carry the balloon into the house. Next thing I know, I see the string sail past the car window, cue his bottom lip starting to tremble, as the balloon rose, the tears started. Bless, his first real separation, he obviously had something special with the balloon even if the relationship only last 10 minutes. Fortunately a few distractions and the offer of pizza managed to bring the matter to a close.
Wednesday - Having watched 'The Trial: A Murder In The Family' on Channel 4, we got to the penultimate episode were the jury were sent to deliberate if a man accused of killing his wife was guilty or not. We, Nikki & I have come to the conclusion that we have reasonable doubt about it, therefore he is not guilty. Tomorrow's episode will hopefully confirm our thoughts.
It felt as if someone turned up the thermostat up as summer kicked in and the temperature soared. It was difficult for me and Nikki to settle, I can't imagine how hard it was for my son!
Thursday - Nothing to report.
Friday - Our car went in for it's MOT, and I'm happy to report that it passed without needing any work doing. As a result of the car being in the garage, I had to pick Nikki up from work and it was the first time I'd experienced the effects of all the local roadworks being undertaken. The 'improvements' coupled with an incident on the bypass and it being the start of a bank holiday weekend meant the traffics was even worse than normal. We grabbed some chips to share with my parents for tea, after we had finished my son got everyone involved in playing with his toys for far too long (as is becoming the norm at the moment).
Saturday - After our little man's nap we headed into town so I could get my hair cut and attend an Elmer event at Button & Bear. We had a great time, a post on which will be coming soon. Having finished in town, we went to Nikki's parents to have dinner and watch the FA Cup final between Arsenal and Chelsea.
Sunday - We spent the day in Telford, going ice skating with our friends and their children as part of a joint birthday treat, although the children generally had a great time, I left feeling disappointed. Afterwards we when to Four Corners, a buffet style restaurant next door, whilst the food was ok, the service left a lot to be desired. It was due to be our friends little boy's birthday on the bank holiday Monday, so he was allowed to open our presents and he seemed very impressed by the Ironman costume and Mr Potato Head (Tony Starch) that we got him.

Elmer Day @ Button & Bear

On Saturday afternoon we took our little boy to attend an event at the Button & Bear children's cafe in Shrewsbury. They were hosting an event to celebrate Elmer day, with a reading of 'Elmer & The Butterfly'. In the event you don't know who Elmer is, he's a multi-coloured patchwork elephant created by David McKee.

We arrived with plenty of time for the event so we grabbed a drink and slice of cake whilst we waited, my son darted into the play area until we were invited downstairs - the basement has been turned into a an underground forest playroom.

To start the event all the children sat in a circle to sing some songs to welcome everyone to the event. The lady hosting then read through 'Elmer & The Butterfly', engaging the children on most pages with questions about the story. When the story finished, the children were invited to do some crafts related to the book, making butterflies out of tissue paper and painting their own patchwork elephant using sponges. My son really enjoyed these activities spending more time on both than most of the other children. Once they had finished the activities, the children were free to play in the room which includes a log house and ball pit. Finally, the children were called back to the middle of the room to practice sign language related to the story and sing some song to say goodbye.

As a final activity, the children were asked to find pictures of 6 animals dotted around the cafe, with a reward of some mini marshmallows if they could find them all.

My 2 year old son loved the session, happy to participate in everything that went on in a well run event. I understand they do these kind of things quite regularly but don't normally fall at the weekend when I can get to them with my son. So I'll keep an eye out for future events on their Facebook page and I'd reccomend you do the same!

A Bit Of An Update (May 2017)

Ok, I know that I've missed a number of posts in the last couple of week, most recently my Five Favourite Friday post from last week. Bizarrely it all stems from a period of leave I had at the beginning of April, which knocked me out of my routine for finding time to type up my blog posts.

After having a few disrupted weeks off we had a bout of sickness pass through the family which meant I had to look after my little boy, followed Nikki, then I was bedridden and spent the best part of a week recovering.

Thankfully that's all passed now and we're all better, but getting back into a routine has been difficult. It's my intentions to get back into doing my regular posts from next week.

Here's to getting back on track with my regular posts!

Burning Money At Hospitals

This is not what you're expecting from the title...

It's a nice day, the suns out warming the waiting room of the hospital through the light hatch in the ceiling but a cool wind is blowing outside. Sensibly, a window is open to allow a breeze into the room, then a familiar smell comes across my nostrils. Not bleach, nor medicine but one that I don't think should be allowed anywhere near a hospital. The smell is tobacco. Someone from the waiting room has gone out for a cigarette (possibly a cigar or a pipe, but I doubt it) and stood just outside the door and lit up near the window.

I don't understand why people would want to burn money, quite literally in this case. Whilst I have had times in my life when I've felt quite flush, I've never had the urge to buy something just to burn it. I don't begrudge be people smoking, the health risks are well documented and highlighted to everyone, it's their  choice.

In my early twenties I would go out with my mates to a certain pub in Shrewsbury, definitely not somewhere that you'd find the hip youths, not a trendy wine bar and it'd never be turned into a pub restaurant. It truth it was a bit of an old man's pub, but it served it's purpose as a convenient place for us to go to. I digress, the reason for this ramble is that this all happened pre-'smoking ban' so there was a distinct smell in the pubs. As part of going into pubs, you expected the smell and it formed part of the experience of going there. It was not only accepted in that environment, but expected, unlike at a hospital.

I find a couple of things funny with hospitals, why health professionals smoke and why patients that are clearly struggling go out for a smoke?! I'd like to know why hospitals don't ban smoking on there premises?

Anyway that's enough frustration for now.

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia 2017

Through my employers I get a number of notifications about upcoming 'days' covering a number of religious, cultural and inclusive celebrations.

Today (17 May) is 'International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia' and I wanted to publish a post acknowledging it. It was only as i was double checking the name for this post that I found out the relevance of the date. 17 May was chosen to commemorate the decision to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1990. It seems incredible that homosexuality could be considered a disease and that it was considered so until as recently as 1990!

I've not got any experience of the prejudice faced by these groups, and so I'm feeling awkward typing this, so please bear with me...

Often people feel threatened by people's lifestyles (sexuality, identity etc) they don't understand and will resort to verbal and physical harassment, I don't get why someone would do it. Although I find it difficult to comprehend what people in these communities feel and are going through, I would never act aggressively towards someone because of their sexuality. I don't understand it, and public displays of affection make me slightly uncomfortable no matter what your sexuality - but that's my issue and mine to deal with.

I do know some people who are homosexual, but it's only because they are open about their relationships, if they hadn't have mentioned it, I probably still wouldn't know now. To me, someone's sexuality is the last thing I'd think about when chatting to someone, it really doesn't matter to me and I wish more people could see past their own prejudices and move on.

I look forward to the day when everyone genuinely believes that love is love no matter whether it's between two men, two women and no matter whether you're black, white, rich or poor. I'm sure the day will come but for now let's just educate our children to be more accepting of other people's race, religion and sexualities alike. 

Five Favourite Friday... Tips For Good Mental Health

The Mental Health Foundation has hosted Mental Health Awareness Week (8-14 May) in the second week of May since 2000, this years theme is ‘surviving to thriving’. And this week we're dedicating our Five Favourite Friday post to this cause. We are going to look at our favourite tips to have good mental health.

1) Exercise
I find that playing football each week allows me to escape everything that's going on in my life and let's me concentrate on only one thing, playing well. Even if it's a short distraction from any issues, getting some time away from it all really helps me.

2) Get outdoors
I find fresh air to be very invigorating, which helps me distance myself from issues in my day to day life.

3) Listen to music
I would prescribe any particular genre, sometimes thrash metal can be as cleansing as classical, what ever your mood just go with it (but perhaps avoid downbeat music).

4) Talk to someone
Not everyone can help, but if you can find someone that understands you and can help then make the most of them.

5) Bake bread
Get rid of any pent up aggression by kneading bread by hand. Not only do you feel a bit more relaxed after the kneading, but you should have some scrummy bread to eat at the end of it!

I know that mental health is a serious issue for a lot of people and some of my favourite ways to maintain good mental health won't work for everyone, so if you have any tips, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

A Day Out at Home Farm Attingham

This May Day bank holiday we wanted to do something agricultural, this afternoon we achieved this with a visit to a Home Farm Attingham, in Atcham on the outskirts of Shrewsbury. We left home and it struck me that I hadn't got any cash on me, knowing that Home Farm is relatively small open farm, I was concerned that we'd have to make contingency plans to do something else. However I was pleasantly surprised on arrival that they accepted card payments (hallelujah!), not only that but I got asked for either my email address or mobile number and they would send a copy of the receipt on to me (better than some larger attractions). We were given a leaflet map and a brief overview of what events were taking place, including where to go.

Walking through the yard now used for the onsite cafe, we enter one of the working farmyards were you are greeted by an old tractor that children can play with. Just off the yard there were a number of pens that were housing young calves and some hens that had joined them. In one of the nearby rooms four lambs were vying for the attention of anyone that came into the room, while in the opposite corner some chicks sat under a heat lamp.

Just round the corner is the milking parlour that houses an automated milking machine. When we entered the room, the farmer was keeping an eye on things and gave us an insight as how the machine worked.

Upon leaving the milking parlour we headed away from the farm building out towards the fields. The first animals we came across were geese, peacocks and a field of Miniature Shetland Ponies. Shortly afterwards we spotted a pen with pigs in. The wide path then leads you to a field containing cows and sheep, who were happy to push their heads through the fence and eat some grass from our hands.

As we walked back to the farmyard to take part in one of the two daily feeds of the lambs we spotted a small play area for children, which had a slide, swings, some balance apparatus and a fallen tree to climb over. From the playground we got to observe a peacock trying to entice a peahen with his amazing fanned tail.

Back at the main yard for 16:00, the farmer brought four bottles of milk out and released the lambs from their pen. I found it amazing that they ran straight to a bottle and started to take milk from a strangers. My little boy really enjoyed this part of the trip even if he had a bit of difficulty holding on to the bottle, with the lambs eager to to drain it! I spotted an open entrance, so being curious I had a wander across and found some more chickens and some hogs which could easily have been missed if I hadn't been nosey. As we headed out, we stopped for a quick chat to let our little boy play with one of the many sit-on tractors available to visitors.

After about 90 minutes our visit came to an end. The trip fitted perfectly for us as we wanted something to do for an afternoon that wasn't too costly. Our son had a great time pointing out all the different animals and having a chat with them. It was good to see the freedom most of the animals have and being able to get up close with some of them too. So if you're in the vicinity and have a spare afternoon I'd recommend going to Home Farm Attingham to see a working farm in operation. For more details visit their website -