Wednesday 19 October 2011

Full Steam Ahead....Baby Show!!!

That time of year again...Earls Court Baby Show looms large! Hard work but lots of fun, and creates a great team environment for us to share ideas. It is fantastic meeting our customers face to face and seeing all these tiny little bundles and rather large bumps! I wonder if anyone has ever gone into labour at a baby show? Must have surely? We are running a competition for free tickets worth £40....if you or anyone would like to enter then all you need to do is be a fan of our facebook page and follow instructions from there. Click to enter for Free Baby Show Tickets!

Sunday 11 September 2011

Every generation has a JFK moment...9/11 is ours

You don’t even have to ask anyone of my age where they were and what they were doing on 9/11….everyone simply offers up their actions and whereabouts in seconds. In my case I was 6 pregnant climbing up and down a ladder as we had no staircase. We were finishing off some home renovations in preparation for the arrival of our first child a few months later. My father was with me and getting very anxious about my ladder antics and firmly told me I was to stay either upstairs or downstairs. It was then that I went into the kitchen to put the kettle on and switched Sky News on. The rest of the day was spent watching the horrific events of the day unfold before my eyes live.

At the time of JFK the coverage available to the public was utterly incomparable as to what we are able to experience today. Our generation experienced the breath by breath unfolding of a man-made and premeditated catastrophe. It is the man-made element that strikes us in the heart so much. The fact that such an atrocious plot could be conceived and seen through. The fact that we can watch such calamitous events by the moment in our own homes shocks everyone and allows us to experience the event as opposed to simply reading about it and visualising the scene.

I read something earlier in the week that questioned our reaction to 9/11 and made comparisons to the Boxing Day Tsunami….the article (I don’t remember where) was rather critical of our overwhelming reaction to 9/11 when the tsunami killed far more people. But frankly the numbers killed are not the point of focus. It is how and why. I think the key element here is the cause. We are programmed to expect and accept ‘acts of god’ or ‘acts of nature’ as we call them. They are not things that we can control or prevent, but simply perhaps prepare and limit the consequences of. 9/11 was purely man-made. And it is that fact that is so awesomely frightening to us and so abhorrent hat a group of men can sit and patiently plan the massacre of thousands of innocent lives…and to achieve what? Yes they have terrorised the world and scarred the lives of many, but our resolve and strength remains. What did they actually achieve for their cause?

The main achievement in my eyes is the worldwide union of people and nations against these forces of evil. Our defiance to be brought down and to surrender our freedom. Our resilience and willingness to ensure our liberty and democracies live on, stronger than ever.

The wounds of untimely loss never truly go away. You simply learn to accept and cope, carrying the scars forevermore. I personally understand this.

The pools ‘Reflecting Absence’ at Ground Zero are a beautiful and fitting tribute to these losses. A subtle and touching way to embody the gaping holes left both physically and emotionally by the twin towers.

It is important to remember that 9/11 is also the beginning of the chain of decisions and events that have led to our troops being in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are still experiencing losses ultimately due to 9/11 in the here and now.

I travel reasonably frequently and have to say that when queued at airport security with two young boys having to remove half my clothing, my footwear, and get out my laptop and various other electrical items, I do often get rather harassed and tetchy…..9/11 is the reason why and I will do my very best to remember this on future occasions and use the time queuing to reflect on the loss of all those innocent lives.

Sunday 31 July 2011

Repatriation at Wootton Bassett

I really didn't know what to expect, I just knew I wanted to go. I wanted to take my dad, to fulfil a promise to my late husband, to remember the bravery of my late father in law, and perhaps most importantly to honour my husband and those he works alongside and all those who have served in all of our armed forces.

As we arrived the town was busy, smart older men proudly wearing their berets and medals milling around the coffee shops. Old friends embracing, their faces etched with the comfort of seeing one another but somehow also reflecting the strain of their joint experiences. Photos passed around, stories shared, the most tangible thing at that point was the camaraderie of these old servicemen who had served our country so well during the second world war and the following conflicts that our nation has been part of.

As I stood wearing my late father-in-laws medals I remembered the few things he had told me about his role, as a Sergeant Major in the Para’s. A modest man he never talked much about his experiences except during a couple of late evenings I shared with him and a glass or two of brandy. I love history and I think it is that the encouraged me to find out what is was like for him during those dark days. Like so many, Dave recalls his time in the army with much fondness but summed it up by saying that it was the best and the worst days of his life all rolled into one. He loved India and South Africa and I am honoured to have so many of his photos from that time in addition to his cards home. His dark days were fighting through Burma and liberating Japanese prisoner of war camps. What more can you say? We cannot even begin to possibly imagine the elation you must feel at finding and freeing these survivors but at the same time seeing the distressing conditions of their treatment. He had never applied for his medals, so a few years ago I did it for him. Upon receiving them he handed them straight to me and said they were to hand on the next generation of 'Prosser' boys. He died when I was 36 weeks pregnant with my eldest son....I felt a comfort that I could already tell Dave that the next little Prosser boy 'Sam' was on his way.

I had the medals on in the wrong order, they were not mounted, but I didn't care, it was the first time they had been out of the box and I wore them for Dave with immense pride.

David, my late husband, had always wanted to go to a repatriation at Wootton Bassett and pay his respects to the fallen. David and my father George planned that they would go together. Sadly David was too ill to go and passed away after a long battle with oesophageal cancer in October 2009. We talked shortly before his death and this is one of the things I promised to do in his place.

My father and I, as well as sharing an interest in history, have also always shared the view that all political considerations should be put well aside when it comes to supporting our armed forces. The young men and women who serve in any role make sacrifices that the rest of us can never comprehend, agree with or consider doing ourselves. Some of these sacrifices are day to day like being away from your family. The ultimate sacrifice is of course why 'Wootton Bassett' exists today. Young lives ended in the course of duty. From September repatriations into Royal Wootton Bassett will cease. This fact drove my father and I to finally do it. I have always been close to my dad, we just agree on stuff and we wanted to so share this experience together.

As the time neared we took our place on the side of the road. People were arriving by the minute. Locals and distant travellers alike, all there for one common reason, to pay respect to the fallen, of yesterday, today and sadly without doubt the future. Soldiers lined the street. Young men and women standing tall but with an edginess, trying to look calm and in control but you could somehow sense their stomach's churning at the prospect of forthcoming moments. A girl beside me, holding flowers, sobbed constantly. Eddie, a former Para I chatted to on the street, stood to the other side, well over 80, proud straight and tall. The number of old Para's was amazing, their berets very apparent in the crowds around me.

It was then my thoughts turned to my new husband, a serving member in the Royal Engineers for over 20 years. His entire adult life dedicated to serving queen and country. I have felt immensely proud to be an 'army wife' even if it is all new to me and I am not your 'atypical' army wag. His job affects our day to day life greatly and although they may be small sacrifices compared to some I can vouch for the fact that all members of the armed forces, their partners and children make them day in day out. And to me it seems whatever your role in the services the horrors of a current war and conflict are never far from your mind.

I felt proud to be British. All that this great nation embodies that is good was there to see. Loyalty, respect, pride and determination.

The bell began to toll.

A sweeping and rapid wave of silence travels through the crowd. The order goes out to the standard-bearers and the flags are raised. Stillness. The sad silhouette of the cortege begins to appear over the brow of the hill. The sobbing next to me grows intense and the girl's shoulders shake as the cars edge closer. As the first car reaches the standards they lower one by one in succession. Friends and family approach to lay flowers on the roof of the car.....only there are two cars today...two men tragically lost. The girl next to me is frozen. I urge her to go forward to lay her flowers, because that is why she is there. The cars pass carrying the coffins, each shrouded in the union flag. Somehow the silence deepens further as everyone takes a deep breath in. The cortege moves down the line until it is once again a sad silhouette in the distance.

The crowds gradually break up, the comrades hug and wish each other well, until the next time, until September that is.

The lump in my throat subsides as I hug my dad, take off the medals, accomplish my promise and feel a deep pride at being an Army wife.

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Why are boats cool and caravans uncool?

I know you shouldn't generalise but I think it is fair to say that most regards boats as cool and caravans as a bit uncool. The Top Gear team have definitely done their bit to entrench this feeling amongst the British public! The interior accommodation of the average boat and average caravan are no doubt similar. They are both mobile and provide the freedom to visit an array of places. But a stark contrast between the two definitely exists. Boats are considered a luxury by most and caravans on the whole a cost-effective long-term holiday option, particularly for the retired. I was lucky enough to spend acouple of days on a boat last week. I think the part of the reason lies in the fact that you travel to your destination on a boat, whereas the caravan is towed behind. Whilst you can move your caravan where you like, you don't generally pull up somewhere for lunch in it.....with a boat you can moor alongside a pub or have lunch on deck, or even a bbq on the beach or parks and lay-bys do not have the same appeal! Caravans are more of a base to explore the surrounding area, whereas you can just sit on deck and relax as you take in the sights on a boat....yes the weather needs to be good....but perhaps this in itself adds to the luxury factor. Sitting on deck with a drink in hand is for some reason infinitely more appealing than sitting on a deck chair in a field. Is the the glamour that is associated with marinas and the sailing/boating set? Perhaps it is because boats are regarded as a bit of a boys toy....whereas again....caravans don't really fall into that category! I think also a lot of us do for some reason have a bit of a fascination with water, albeit the sea or a river. Yes you can pitch your caravan on a cliff top and look out to sea, but it just isn't the same as actually being on the water. Well I have to say for me it would be a boat everytime....I wonder if Jeremy Clarkson likes boats? He has certainly put a few cars afloat so I guess he does.

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Great holiday but additional skills required for full enjoyment!

Have just returned from a fantastic break in the sunny emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of glitzy Dubai....and cheaper too! I stayed at what is very much a family resort but manages to successfully combine all the facilities and entertainment for your little ones, whilst still catering for the adults in terms of good restaurants, a few child-free zones and of course the baby-sitting service. Althought I did refrain from using the service again after 'Florence' our sitter seemed to think it ok to allow the children 3 chunky kitkats each! A number of pools, bars and restaurants are spread throughout the hotel and villa complex amongst tropical gardens which means that no one area ever seems too busy despite it being Easter! The beautiful white sand beach is divided into a series of safe little
bays each with a lifeguard. So all in all everything to ensure the perfect family break.

Sitting by the pool, with a lime daiquiri, Ipod, a good book whilst sunning myself, I realised the one key ingredient you need to make the most of such a wonderful set up is a skill that only results from experiencing parenthood itself. It cannot be provided by even the best family hotel. It is the ability to ignore and extract the noise of exuberant children in the background!!!! When you have graduated to the higher echelons of this skill, you are able to remain aware of any cry made by one of your own flock whilst successfully ignorng the noise of all other children in the vicinity. Even plugged into your Ipod you need to apply this ability, albeit at a much lower level.....I found that even with Robbie Williams shouting out 'Let Me Entertain You' loudly in my ears that the shrill cry of one consistently whingeing little girl managed to penetrate my peace!

And let's be honest, there is always one or two repetitive tamtrum throwers around! Sadly this means that their voices do begin to register in your mind and it becomes more difficult to 'extract' just have to hope they have lots of days out and go home before you....worst case scenario is probably that they are sitting next to you on the plane!

P.s. I think that men are actually much better at the noise extraction skill, bearing in mind their genetic tendancy towards selective hearing!

The resort I went to is:

Tuesday 29 March 2011

Yes, I admit it....I am a fidget bum!

I have always denied being a fidget....although when accused of being so...which is often...I become suddenly aware of the constant movements I make and do my utmost to suppress them. The result is a fixed stare, tense posture and probably some sort of contorted look on my face! With huddle & bliss at the recent Excel Baby Show I did an interview with The lovely ladies there made me feel very at ease and I chatted away. Luckily the interview about our stunning 48 hour bag was used....however having now watched it myself I can confirm that I am a fidget bum.....oh put it down to nerves or whatever you like, but frankly I do not stop moving. I am glad that I manage to talk easily, highlight the beautiful contents and even comment confidently on starting your own business.....but oh I do not stop bloomin' movin'. Take a look for yourself (Click here). Suffice to say I have some public speaking lessons booked with a close friend Sarah who teaches drama...she will probably put me in a head vice and tie my arms behind my back!