Dipping a toe in Victorian Britain.

Intrepid  Josie off in search of the

Victoria Britain was one of my heart-throb history eras as a child; I lapped up anything that harked back to Dickensian times or just after. I loved stories from when kids were either banged up in the workhouse or an orphanage or held hostage in the nursery at the top of the house. I loved stories of scullery maids and the days when the world was harsh but being right and true brought rewards in the end.

I’d definitely have been delighted to get to dressed up like this.

In fact, if my childhood had looked like that, I would have imagined myself pretty happy!

Life is not, of course, quite how it is in your imagination. For some reason we never really ‘did’ the Victorians when we were home educating, so this week the arrival of a box of dressing up and a film set during the Victorian era seems like a good opportunity to plug the hole in their education.

Victorian Era Children’s Books I loved:

  • The Little Princess
  • The Secret Garden
  • Black Beauty
  • The Phoenix & the Carpet (I think this is possible straying into Edwardian though)
  • Treasure Island

Fran added:

  • Hetty Feather
  • The Ruby in the Smoke
  • Lizzie’s Wish
  • Mill Girl

Victorian Era Films:

  • Nanny McPhee
  • Oliver Twist
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • Various films of the books above!

Victorian Education Websites:

Victorian BBC Site

Ready Made Learning Resources

V&A Victorian Social Life

Victorian School

The Victorian’s at the National Archives

All this made me dig out a put together Victorian Paper House from my home ed archives – somewhat to my surprise, Fran is currently sat on the floor making it!

midasbox

The Adventurer : The Curse of the Midas Box

Much of this was triggered by being sent this film to review. After a busy week, we watched it this weekend after a photo shoot for Josie to look ridiculously gorgeous in Victorian clothing. Sadly, I found myself watching it along by half way through as it didn’t grab the attention of any of the kids for very long. Still I don’t often get a chance for uninterrupted film watching, so a quiet afternoon in the living room was quite pleasant.

The cast for the film is amazing (Martin Sheen, Sam Neill and Keeley Hawes to name but a few) and it is gorgeous to look at, full of Victoriana and Steampunk. The acting veered between good (both lads and Martin Sheen who has the most insanely rubbery face; I didn’t even recognise him in disguise when I knew he was in it!) and just way too hammy for comfort. The effects were amazing and fitted the era beautifully but somehow the script and storyline failed to grab me. Perhaps it wasn’t even that so much as the pace of the film; it seemed more paced like films of my own childhood but without the detail to make that worthwhile. It was too slow and with not enough meaningful plot to really engage. While in lots of ways it had elements of Sherlock, Wild Wild West and The Mummy (particularly the last) it just didn’t quite fill the boots of any of them. I couldn’t make myself care about the characters enough and a combination of oddly quiet sound and lots of very similar looking male leads just flummoxed me beyond really feeling engaged.

I guess the fact that beyond “it was a bit like The Mummy”, I can’t really tell you what it was about; I never felt quite like I knew.

So I looked at it – and it was very pretty. Clearly there is every intention of a sequel as the plot line and ending was very much geared to that and I hope, I really hope, that they’ll address some of the issues and do a tighter second one because both cast and style was phenomenal.

Disclosure: we were sent a review copy and costume box Opinions, clearly, are my own.

Follow Merrily Me’s board Victorians on Pinterest.

Bostik Blogger Autumn Craft.

Autumn has tumbled upon us in a rush and far from mellow mists and fruitfulness, it has mostly brought bugs and snuffles and a general sense of “gaaaaaaah, bring back summer!”

This did mean that I had the company of various of my children for the last two weeks which has many positives and some negatives in the form of getting work done. Or blogging. And my house looks awful. This may or may not be their fault.

However, the Autumn Craft Box arrived at a perfect time for Josie, who was feeling sorry for herself with a burst eardrum and she had a lot of fun making this ‘mixed craft media’ picture.

Josie's autumn tree picture

She had a lot of fun with this and the Bostik Glue Pen and the Sticky Dots combined perfectly to make it easy for her to stick felt, tissue, foam sheets and the gorgeous autumnal leaves together with no mess at all.

Upside of a poorly Josie is time for autumn crafting.

There are lots more Autumn Crafts on this site and also on Simple Crafts and naturally I have a Pinterest board as well.

Follow Merrily Me’s board Autumn Crafts. on Pinterest.

Dear Milano Leotards.

To whom it may concern,

I wish to complain about the unexpected removal of money from my account this weekend, 5 1/2 months after you should have done. I understand your bank caused you difficulties and you had to process these very late and I also do understand that problems like this can occur.

What I do not understand, given that as an online retailer for 13 years I have a pretty good grip of how an ecommerce retailer system works, is why you didn’t make a decision to collate the email addresses of people who had purchased during the affected time and email out a warning that some of us might be affected by an up and coming debit. This would have given people such as myself, who had not realised the money had not been debited, a chance to ensure the money was safely in the account and that it wouldn’t cause issues with other payments. I understand that the bank couldn’t release individual data, but you would have been able to do that. If a small business like my own, run by 3 people and processing £?00,000 of sales a year can manage it, I’m sure you would have had the manpower and technical competence to do so.

The debit of £46 has caused me considerable inconvenience. I appreciate it was money I had authorised you to take but I don’t keep a close watch on my account, particularly at that time of year when I buy gifts for 3 birthdays and I hadn’t been aware of your error. Since I know perfectly well you can take the money for up to 6 years, I would have called you to let you know of the issue if I had spotted it, since I am scrupulously honest.

Far greater than the inconvenience caused – which means that a child has not been able to go on a trip this week as that £50 has long since been inadvertently spent again – has been the behaviour of your staff.

Twitter told me the sales staff had tried to email me but my account was bouncing which was a) entirely at odds with all the mail perfectly happily arriving through the day and b) did not correspond with the fact that when I went to your site and asked for a password reset, your site was able to immediately send a mail through to me.

I called your sales staff to express the difficulties this unexpected debit had caused me and explained that I had been genuinely unaware that your system failure had not debited my account at the time. She told me I should have had the “common decency” to check my purchase had completed and let you know I hadn’t been charged.

I think you should have had the common decency to more proactively warn customers. You could have caused my mortgage to bounce or a number of other significant issues.

Your sales staff lady was unspeakably rude, including laughing at me when I was outraged by her words and I’ve since been ignored on Twitter. I have therefore lodged this experience with Trading Standards. You may not have broken any laws, but you’ve fallen well and truly short of good service.

I hope to hear from you with an apology, not least because my 3 gymnasts will be very sorry never to receive another Milano leotard as a birthday gift as it stands
.

Best wishes,
Merry Raymond

Merry’s Perfect Prairie Muffin Moment.

I win, I win! I baked something and it isn't a disaster!

A couple of weeks ago I got totally and utterly sick of packed lunches, specifically the fact that the girls have ended up hurriedly making sandwiches and grabbing a snack bar, snack bars that are expensive and neither healthy or particularly satisfying. I decided i would try baking, something I absolutely never do, and see if that improved things. Once the children recovered from the shock and inspected me carefully for implants, they risked tasting my wares – and it was pronounced a success.

First of all I canvased for help, and got some great recipes from Snafflesmummy, but then decided I was going to have to go even simpler first. I tried out this Apple and Sultana Muffin recipe, which has been a ‘go back to’ one since – they are lovely and really don’t feel unhealthy to eat.

I win, I win! I baked something and it isn't a disaster!

Hurrah. I didn’t have so much success with the flapjack, which fell apart too much despite several attempts, so I’m still on the look out for a better version of that.

But the girls liked my baking, they’ve asked for me to do them again and it has been so much cheaper that snack bars. I do rant and rail about the whole school ‘healthy eating’ policy – Josie is stick thin, does 16 hours of gym a week and needs calories but is bound by the same break time rules as an obese child. At least this way I feel like I’m doing something good for her, which can’t be questioned, makes them feel a bit more mothered and is cheaper too. No one can complain about a home cooked, butter free muffin but I can make sure it is big and has plenty of good calories.

So a couple of weeks into the experiment and I got brave – my very own ‘see what happens’ recipe. And here it is. Worked perfectly, so I hope it does again!

Banana & Sultana Muffins.

5 small squashy bananas, mashed

1 cup of sultanas

1 cup of brown sugar

3 tbsps of sunflower oil

3 tbsps milk

1/2 of cup brown flour

2 cups of self raising flour

1 stood baking powder

1 egg

1 pinch salt

1/2 cup of porridge oats

Chuck it in a bowl and mix briskly. divide into 12-15 muffin cases and bake at 190C for about 25 minutes.

****

I did a recipe. I don’t know what to tell you. It makes a cake-y but also quite banana bread-y, heavy but nice muffin. I’ve now added some baking powder and see if that lifts it (who knows, I’m not exactly a baker!) but I’d make them again to turn out the same anyway because they were yummy.

I’d really love you to leave links to healthy, fast, easy baking for using for breaks and packed lunches as I’ve got the bug for baking all of a sudden!

 

 

Our 5th Remembering. #WaveOfLight

Remembering Freddie on our 5th Infant Loss Awareness Day without him.

I can wish for the days when being part of the Wave of Light hurt so badly I wanted to collapse inward under the weight of my own dying star.

I ache for the pain.

I remember that this day pulled me low and broke me all over again.

It no longer does.

I regret that.

For Freddie and all the babies who should be and are not.

Life goes on.

Except for those for whom it does not.

Except for the piece of me that got lost way back there with him.

With Freddie, more than 4 and a half years ago.

Long enough that only a very few people mentioned his name.

He’s drifted, found a mist, scattered and fled from the minds of most.

Even sometimes of mine.

Remembering Freddie on our 5th Infant Loss Awareness Day without him.

But not from my heart. Never from there.

There is a bitterness creeping in me that he is forgotten now; perhaps it is because I know people mirror my own onwards face.

It’s so hard to live if you look backwards, so hard to live if you let yourself acknowledge that you want to turn round. It is all smoke and mirrors, all a game I play. Forwards. Keep walking forwards.

And so I rage quietly – and with guilt of knowing I have only myself to blame. I held him to my heart and kept him to myself – and so he sat by the roadside quietly while other memories marched on. Left in the grass, in the sun I hope. Just a whisper of a baby no one knew.

***

This year, again, I remember. I always will.

I remember Freddie.

I remember a twin.

I remember Evie Rose.

I remember Benjamin.

I remember Joel.

I remember Toby and Estella.

I remember Sophia and Thomas.

I remember Matthew.

I remember Lily.

I remember the lost potential children of friends & family who I love.

I remember Florence Violet.

I remember Emma Faith.

I remember Daniel.

I remember Minnie.

I remember Thomas.

I remember Jack.

And I remember all the babies of people who have kept me sane this last 4 years, 6 months and 2 days on my blog, on their blogs, and at Glow. A list I will inevitably keep adding to for days as I get to yet another blog I read and realise the enormity of loss that silently surrounds us. (Forgive me if I have not yet added your child, please remind me, my memory & rss feed are equally inadequate prompts.)

I remember Iris.

I remember Lucia.

I remember Georgina.

I remember Charlotte.

I remember Alex.

I remember Reid.

I remember Hope.

I remember Haloumi.

I remember Gabriel.

I remember Micah.

I remember Cullen.

I remember Otis.

I remember Foster.

I remember Liam.

I remember Laura.

I remember Joseph.

I remember Snowflake.

I remember Margot.

I remember Catriona.

I remember Isabelle.

I remember Rhianna Lily.

I remember Daisy.

I remember Poppy.

I remember Matilda Mae.

I remember Hugo.

I remember all the babies of the men and women on Glow who have stood beside me this year.

I am thinking of the babies who belong to women who have told me their stories this year in person, to comfort me and abide with me, but who have not always told me their names.

I am thinking of babies held in hearts and kept private to their families.

I am thinking of the mothers for whom hope was gone almost before it had taken root.

I am thinking of the babies who were longed for and never came.

I am thinking of the mothers for whom pregnancy became surgery & medical procedures.

I am thinking of the women who made the decision to say goodbye for a greater good, while it tore their hearts out and broke their souls.

I am thinking of the mothers who discovered horror on a day that should have meant a whether pink or blue nursery needed preparing.

I am thinking of the mothers who felt stillness where a moment before there had been back flips.

I am thinking of the mothers who prepared or laboured to deliver a baby knowing they would never hear a cry.

I am thinking of the mothers who unexpectedly heard the loudest silence in the world.

I am thinking of the parents who hovered over a neonatal crib, hoping for a miracle, learning medical terms they never wanted to know.

I am thinking of the parents who chose the moment of their child’s last breath and held them as they died.

I am thinking of the parents who didn’t get there in time to do that.

And of all those who fall into the myriad of cracks between, each a chasm as deep and dark as any other.

And for the fathers, the siblings, the aunts and uncles and grandparents for whom life is never quite the same again.

***

Every year another name. So many, many, many more names.

International Baby Loss Day. October 15th.