Saturday, 28 June 2014

Loosening the Reins

This weekend son #1 is camping in the wilds of the Welsh Marches to complete the Expedition component of his  Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award. I'm not permitted to post a photograph of the pack he has to carry, mainly because I took it whilst he was trying out carrying it  in his pyjamas (!) but suffice to say he would have an easier time piggybacking either of his eight year old twin siblings than lugging that great thing for four days.



or maybe not... as rucksacks are quiet and generally well behaved, and camping is not something I would contemplate for one moment with his youngest siblings!

Friday, 27 June 2014

Coming up for Air

This week has been a week of some pretty impressive successes in our family. It's been a tough year and many times I've felt utterly overwhelmed, nervous I might drop the ball, forget a plate as they all spin wildly out of control, or unlike Mrs Skittle, not be able to ping back from yet another setback.

Yet this was one of those weeks where you can take a small step back and think  "Yes. It was all worthwhile" and admire the fruits of your (and their) labours.



Friday, 20 June 2014

Liebster Award


Thank you to Angela at There and Back Again - A Mother's Tale for nominating me for a Liebster Award! This was actually for my Dorothy Whiskers online magazine but since that is for children I needed to post the main article here.

A Liebster Award is an award for bloggers, a way to say, "Hey, I like your blog!" It’s a bit like a chain letter, I answer 11 questions and then nominate more bloggers with less than 500 followers to answer my 11 questions, here goes!

Today! #PoCoLo with VerilyVictoriaVocalises

Something different this weekend!

Since November I have thoroughly enjoyed promoting my Blogs. I love writing and wanted to expand my audience a little, plus I believe the more you read the more inspiration you find for your own writing, and the more informed and broad your own articles will be. It takes a lot of work trying to get noticed - and link ups are an important way of doing this. Many excellent Blogs don't have a Google "Page Rank" and without link ups you might never find them.

So here on my Blog this week I am delighted to be hosting the #PoCoLo link up for Vicky Welton who is currently at the BritMums Awards. A big thank you to Vicky and here's hoping her sterling Blogging efforts and fabulous support for other writers earns her an award!


My post this week is a (belated) discussion on trying to "do it all" as women, putting of our childbearing years only to find it's not as easy to have a family as we had hoped. Kirstie Allsopp has recently received much criticism for her opinions on women who want careers and babies. Much of the negative reaction was because people (as they so often do) jumped on the bandwagon without actually reading what she said. (My gran would have called it "picking up fag-ends"!!!) If you want to read my views on the subject you will have to follow my link!

If you are a regular on Post Comment Love then it would be great if you spread the #PoCoLo word. However, if you are new here then welcome! Post Comment Love is all about sharing posts which you have written this week which just haven’t got the attention they deserve and, with them all in one place, we can help each other share the comment love. This is one of the easiest links EVER. You don’t have a ‘special theme’ to have to write about, the post can be personal, sponsored, a photo, a review, a competition, your own linky, something you’ve linked to a linky….WHATEVER you like – it’s one you’ve already written this week! If you want some publicity and attention, then you are in the right place!
  • Please make sure you go across and comment on at least two other linker's posts. Linkys work if everyone supports each other :) then spread the #PoCoLo tag about this link up on Twitter. 
  • The post you link up has to have been written in the last week. 
  • The link goes up every Friday at 6.30am and closes on Sunday evening at 8pm.

This week’s newbie showcase is Jo from "Powered by Tea and Gossip"  




My name is Jo (aka Mrs Teapot) and I live in Derbyshire, with my husband 'Mr Teapot', our gorgeous son 'Little Teapot' & our English Springer Spaniel, Monty. 

I started blogging just over a year ago for several reasons really: 
1) I wanted to capture the experiences of being a mummy & didn't want to bore all of my friends (more then I do already!) with endless stories 
2) I hope one day to be able to show my son the stories about him growing up & my blog is my online scrapbook 
3) There's more to me than being a mummy & I want to explore my own experiences around health & well-being & having an outlet to do this has been really positive 
4) I enjoy writing & find it a wonderful escape from the pressures of daily life 
5) Blogging is my equivalent of having a notebook by the bed, as things often come to me when I cant sleep & so I write them! 
6) I would love to be able to expand on it & become a 'writer' one day, in whatever shape or form that make take. 

I blog anonymously. None of my friends or family know I do it, or have read any of my posts. One day, I would love to show it to them & see their reaction, although I probably worry too much about what they think! By blogging anonymously no one feels like they are under any obligation to read every post & comment on it & so the visits & comments I get are based on the merit of what I write, or lovely people who recommend me. This feels like a small victory, in a daft sort of way & it's something that is mine & mine alone, which feels special. I suppose you could say I haven't found my niche yet, or you could say that I just like to blog about all sorts of things, although I sometimes struggle to do it as much as I'd like (& have had a bit of a break recently, as things have been particularly hectic). Being invited by Vicky to be part of the wonderful Newbie Showcase has renewed my vigour & I will be back up to speed posting very shortly! I try to inject a little humour into my posts & hope you enjoy them. 
Please pop over & say hello, or tweet me at @teagossipblog !

After linking with #PoCoLo please pay Jo, and all the lovely linkers below, a visit. Have a great weekend xx

Vicky has a list for the Newbie Showcase running into April 2015. If you would like to be featured then please email her at vickywelton@hotmail.com so she can put you on the rota. 
Remember, your blog needs to be under a year old to feature from the time of sending your email to her.




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Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Why Traditional Feminism is Failing Today's Women.

I've been reading reactions over the past week to Kirstie Allsopp's opinions on women planning careers and families. As is so often the case, much of the negative reaction she received was because people (as they so often do) jumped on the bandwagon without actually reading what she said. (My dad would have called it "picking up fag-ends"!) It is what much (knee-jerk) opinion on Twitter and other social media is based on too and is SO frustrating to someone making a valid point.

So what did Kirstie actually SAY?

Kathryn Grant on "Bumps and Grind" wrote an excellent post on this and I quote:-
"Based on my reading of the article, Kirstie made several important points about lifestyle choices (as well as some very touching comments on how this country deals with death and bereavement). Her point seems to be that, despite all the "choices" women now have, the one thing that cannot be changed is our biological fertility. We have increased life expectancy dramatically, but failed to lengthen the fertility window, so women (and men!) should consider their choices (study, work, house, kids) in a different order. "

"Mother And Daughter" by Ambro via freedigitalphotos.net


As any half-decent Historian or researcher will tell you, you need the Primary Resource - so in Kirstie's words from the Telegraph interview with Bryony Gordon:-

  “Women are being let down by the system. We should speak honestly and frankly about fertility and the fact it falls off a cliff when you’re 35. We should talk openly about university and whether going when you’re young, when we live so much longer, is really the way forward. At the moment, women have 15 years to go to university, get their career on track, try and buy a home and have a baby. That is a hell of a lot to ask someone. As a passionate feminist, I feel we have not been honest enough with women about this issue. [Fertility] is the one thing we can’t change. "

Sounds pretty obvious to me I hear you say.... so what on earth was the fuss all about?!

Friday, 6 June 2014

The Beginning of the end? Is Minecraft about to descend into the Nether?

SO the world internet gaming sensation MINECRAFT seems to be 

selling its soul and moving into the Nether.


As Hammad Toufiq details in his excellent post on Segment Next Mojang (the company which created and own Minecraft) are to restricting Minecraft Servers from making money, changing something called the EULA (End User License Agreement).

Now before you think I'm going to bombard you with technical terms and details - I'm not. You don't need them. The point here is simple.... Mojang are allegedly proposing to prevent anyone using their game to create their own content and then financially benefit from that content. It's guess it's a bit like being in a company - what you think of or create during the time you are there is owned by the company, harsh maybe but fair enough. But this is a community! And the difference here is the phenomenon which is Minecraft is such an incredible success precisely for the reason that such use exists. 

The game costs £17.99 , so Mojang are not making a killing per sale, but since sales have hit record levels they are not doing too badly. And take into account the must-have over-priced accessories it's a pretty good business model.

But what makes people buy it, play it and enjoy it is it's unique interactivity, creativity and community.

You've only got to look at the popularity of their annual conference, Minecon. Location is kept secret until the last minute, and tickets sell out in minutes. MINUTES. The audience is not full of software developers either - it's mostly full of young people. Young people who might not usually enjoy community events, might not want to speak publicly, ask questions and enjoy pretty academic discussion. it's a fantastic achievement.

So why are Mojang trying to mess with a winning formula? Haven't they heard that well known phrase - "If it ain't broke, don't "fix" it!"?

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

A Plague of Euphemisms

All four of our children have in their time come up with some highly amusing (and at times pretty damn clever) alternative terms as young children will. From "Hot Boots" for slippers, going for a "Bike-Walk" ie a bike ride with Daddy, to the more extreme "Woomarrer" (Sp???!) for Lawnmower (A) and "Coconut Vegetables" for, well, just about anything (H) we now have quite an extensive Thompson nomenclature. So extensive is it that R and I can be found chuckling to ourselves most days using a totally alternative Thompson dialect. The current resurgent favourite is the absurd "Woomarrer" word for lawnmower, spawning "Extreme Woomarrer-ing" for a variety of mowing techniques. Bizarre I know. But you had to be there. Honestly.

On a more serious note it occured to me how so many groups in society are now guilty of the same thing. Certainly my IT Director husband knows "Geek Speak" or "Tecchie Babble" or whatever you want to call it, and the ridiculous jargon used in business to "flag up" and "Blue Sky" the main issues and tackle the "low-hanging fruit"...(Or "high hanging vegetables" according to A which could even be extrapolated to high-hanging coconut vegetables if desperate but like I said, it's a Thompson thing.)



This surge of social dialects is transforming society. Regional dialects still exist of course but the population is so mobile now they are considerably diluted. Social dialects like in the business world can seem exclusive and elitist, affirming your membership of whichever "club" you are in. But how to break in to the clique in the first place? It must be like arriving in deepest Yorkshire from Kent a hundred years ago - or the other way around. The same is true on the internet, social networking sites like Facebook have spawned hundreds of new euphemisms, terms, and alternative descriptions. Our current need to redefine everything we come into contact with goes deep and our daily interaction with modern technology has precipitated a lot of this.

So is social networking replacing economics and geography in providing our language, customs and mannerisms? Certainly the internet has a lot to answer for, Facebook and Twitter have transformed how many of us keep in touch, superseding even texting for many as a "one-stop interaction shop". It's a bit dry and cerebral though, I'm not sure a cyber hug makes such an impact as a real one but then so few of us have time for more on an average day. The virtual gifts of coffee and alcohol are tasteless but sin-free, the thought was there but the enjoyment was definitely not!

Whether it is through work or play there is no doubt there has been a huge surge in social dialects - in their creation and use. Ironically one of the side effects of this is isolation and the growth of new barriers in society. It's still incredibly difficult to get a job in a local or family firm, the task is no easier with social media, just different. And sunless you have sufficient funds and a strong enough case to approach the European Court of Human Rights your past history will always haunt you!

As well as knowledge and degree of understanding of appropriate nomenclature is essential - or you don't stand a chance. Breaking into a new social group, now often on the internet, poses similar difficulties. Many's the time I have abandoned a new discussion forum because I don't feel I "fit in".


The Exclusive "Game Cubing Club". Gaming IN a cube, on the Gamecube. 
Sisters not included - "She just doesn't "get" it apparently.

What it boils down to is this. Human beings are essentially a small group species. Challenge and redefine the Venn Diagram boundaries of society - and society will come up with new ones.

But it's important not to forget that the newer, possibly less obvious frontiers are no less prohibitive to those on the other side. We haven't actually come very far in terms of creating an open society, as fast as barriers are removed or pulled down, new ones appear. And human beings really don't work well in groups naturally. Why else are we still teaching adults to work together like our toddlers at home? Are we banging our heads on the proverbial brick wall? As R will often quote:-
"There's no "I" in "Team" but there's a "me" if you look hard enough!" 
Which may well be true, but to join the "team" you need to know the language.


This action is a reference to the film "The Matrix", or more precisely our nervous 
black cat Oscar IN the Matrix, implying the current surroundings are
overwhelming and distorting. Of course. 

Which leads me to my final point.
As the parent of an Autistic child I can see these new social dialects becoming new barriers, in an otherwise liberating online world. In the past - if you liked football, watched the right shows - you had a chance of fitting in. Now however, with yourself on view to the world via social media in a way never known in history you risk utter alienation. Thank goodness then that  H has enough charisma, a warped sense of humour and sufficient intelligence to create his own social nomenclature. And he doesn't care which side of the circle you are on - it works for him.



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