The Impossible: A review

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I’m not a film reviewer, but I just had to share my thoughts on The Impossible, the moving and horrific portrayal of one family’s life being torn to shreds by the tsunami that tragically destroyed hundred and thousands of lives in Thailand on Boxing Day 2004.  Directed by JA Bayona (The Orphanage) and starring mum of the family Maria (Naomi Watts), dad  Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their three young boys Lucas (Tom Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin) and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast) it really earned the ‘will have you on the edge of your seats’ tag that I’ve often read in movie reviews.

At first, I didn’t know whether I should see this film as Queen Teen had warned me “you will love it mum, but you won’t be able to watch because you’ll be crying too much.” Being known to well up with emotion at ‘Animals and Children do The Silliest Things’ type of shows, I thought she might have a point. But I was intrigued and so, Stressed Husband and I went along to Westfields, armed with tissues (and chocolate) and took our places. From the outset of the film I was hooked at the beauty of the lush, calm surroundings of the Orchid Resort in Phuket, Thailand and the friendly, gentle Thai resort staff. This peaceful and relaxed environment was a stark contrast to the violent and belligerent freak of nature that was about to smash these people’s lives upside down.

Once the tsunami had hit, it was the strength of the courage and love between Maria and her son Lucas that was so heart-wrenchingly touching. She didn’t know where her husband and two younger sons were, but she and Lucas hung on to debris together, knowing that they must stay safe for the other. They were all they had now. Watching Lucas – still a boy, but on the cusp of manhood – gritting his teeth to push his injured mum further up a tree to safety was hard to watch without imagining my son in the same position, which opened my flood gates and took at least a few tissues to mop up. Earlier in the film, when Lucas watched his mum being washed past him face down before surfacing and taking a breath which showed him she was alive, he uttered the heartbreaking words “never do that to me again, mum. Never do that.” He thought she was dead and only then did you see him allow the signs of the scared little boy within him peep through.

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While Maria and Lucas were found and taken to hospital, dad Henry and the other two boys were in turmoil not knowing whether mum and Lucas were alive. Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts are fantastic in their parts as parents thrown into a nightmare situation but the boys are all something else. For such young actors to play incredibly emotional and powerful scenes with such conviction was mind blowing. The tears I cried were also credit to their performances as well as to the tragedy of all of those families whose normal lives were ripped apart that day.

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There was a happy ending in that the family were eventually reunited, and in a tragedy that killed more than 230,000 people, what are the odds of that?

So Queen Teen was right in that I was a bit of a teary wreck after watching The Impossible, but the film also left me feeling more than ever that the bond between a family is amazing. It makes you want to celebrate that our children, husbands and wives are here right now. Today.  Maybe our lives aren’t that exciting, we might moan and bicker about our husbands not putting out the rubbish and snoring or the kids not getting on with their homework, but does it really matter? For a while, after watching this film, you’ll cherish the normality of your own, lovely, family.

Great Dog Walks for Londoners

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Walkies!

At the beginning of the year, I wrote a post about how I love my daily dog walk and since then have had a few dog-loving tweeters following me or just checking in to see if I’ve written any other dog-related blogs or tweets. I must admit, I do ramble on a bit about my gorgeous black lab Troy (mostly on Twitter as I’ve been a bit slack on the blogging front, sorry!) But even though I like to upload the odd photo…okay, okay, he’s my screen saver on the laptop, the Mac and my mobile…but I do try not to be as annoying as those new parents with their cringe worthy Facebook statuses like  “ooh, look! Little Jimmy did  his first poo poo in the potty”  complete with pic showing the poo. There will be no doggy do do photos…promise!

But who could resist?

Black Labrador
My gorgeous Troy

But enough about my dog! I wanted to let you know about a great little glossy book that came into my hands from fellow Tweeter and dog lover @walkwithboomer. It’s called Dog Friendly Walks in and around London, walking with Boomerang and it features 12 walks across London ranging from 1 to 8 miles long. What I love about it is the useful information on where you can stop for a drink or bite to eat in pubs and cafes that won’t turn their nose up at a mucky mutt who’s just been splashing in the river. I need this! The times I’ve walked with Troy, heard the call of a lovely glass of cold wine but couldn’t find anywhere suitable to stop with Troy. So, this book is ideal.

Dog walking guide

I can’t wait to try out a few of these walks and if you’re interested in finding out more, you can pick up a copy online from www.bestdogwalksuk.com for £4.99 or email walkwithboomer@gmail.com for more info. So, what are you waiting for? Get that lead out, pull on those wellies and follow that New Year’s Resolution to get fit by walking more…Have fun!

That’s so S.A.D

All of the signs are there: I’m wearing Uggs – my sparkly, much loved Fitflops are now consigned to the ‘shoe-coat jungle’ under the stairs.

My Boy’s cosy, too-big-for-me hoodie has become my new best friend and on my desk sits not the healthy smoothie and salad combi that had become my fave lunchtime nibble for the last few months. No. Today, on my desk is evil personified – a huge bar of chocolate so enticing in its smooth golden wrapper, that I want to shove it down my cake-pipe (as little Angel calls it) and munch until I vomit.

Apart from the comfort food and cosy attire, there are other signs, such as pressing the ignore button on my Blackberry when my phone rings – can’t be bov’d to answer and have a jolly chat. And I’m also finding it impossible not to slope from my work desk to the too-close-to-resist sofa early in the afternoon. So, what are these all signs of? S.A.D – which stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder. Or Shitty And Depressing more like it.

I’ve just returned from a fabulous weekend away to sunny Spain with my sister where we lazed on the beach and drank Sangria…and Cava and beer and wine and…well, we don’t get away together much so we were celebrating! And as I stepped on the plane back to London, I tried to come to terms with the heinous fact that I probably wouldn’t be seeing the sun for at least 6 months, so I’d better find a few ways of coming to terms with it. Here are a few things I’m going to try – if you feel your inner glow disappearing with the sunshine you might like to join me…

  • Hard though it is to resist that coffee that I love, stimulants like tea, coffee and caffeinated drinks can put the adrenal glands (which help you deal with anxiety and stress) on high alert, making you more stressed than before. So, I’m going to cut down my caffeine and try some tasty herb and fruit teas such as Rosehip, high in Vitamin C which is good for the immune system, skin and adrenal function. After the excesses of my Spanish break, It might be worth having a few slugs of Milk Thistle and Dandelion tea as well – it’s a natural liver cleanser.
  • I’d better try to switch that Toblerone for foods rich in omega 3 essential fatty acids such as oily fish, brown rice, Avocados, beans and bananas. These are said to help increase the brain chemical, seratonin which gives you a natural happy high. Then again, don’t panic too much because a couple of pieces of chocolate will also give you a little seratonin fix and release those mood boosting endorphins. But just remember the mantra…a little of what you fancy does you good and don’t O.D on Dairy Milk else you’ll feel sick. And get fat. And that will make you feel even worse!
  • Vitamin D is a feel good nutrient produced in the body by sunlight on the skin. You’ll be hard pressed to get much of that in our British winter, so take a supplement or get your quota through eating fish, eggs and fortified cereal.
  • Even though I feel like a sleepy slug, I know exercise is one of the best ways of feeling and looking good inside and out, so I shall make the most of my canine ‘personal trainer’ Troy – who drags me to the park as fast as he can and helps blow away those doom and gloom cobwebs.
  • I think I’m going to invest in a SAD busting light like one of these which comes on very slowly (imitating sunrise) allowing your body to subconsciously respond to the increased light levels around you so that you wake up feeling refreshed. Supposedly. I’ll let you know when I’ve tried it, but if it’s good enough to help the British Swimming team get into a freezing cold pool to train at 5am, it’s good enough to get me out of my pit to screech at the family.

If you’ve got any tips to make these dark, cold days any more bearable, please do share…just don’t expect me to share my Toblerone. Thanks.

And here’s a show tune to cheer us all up!

Sleepover Shockers

Muuuuuum, can I have a sleepover?

Those 6 little words can strike fear in the hearts of even the hardiest of parents. Sleepover. Whoever invented these night time terrors needs shooting…or even worse…a gang of kids full of sweets and fizzy drinks to sleepover at their house.

I considered myself quite a popular child but I can’t remember having sleepovers (and I just checked with a couple of my old school mates to make sure that they weren’t actually having sleepovers and not inviting me! They swear they weren’t.) In ‘my day’ we went to a friend’s house for tea, or to a party, then came home and slept in our own beds. Just a few hours of fun at a friends house was enough for us…we didn’t moan when our parents came to pick us up that ‘oh, you’re so mean mummy! You never let me have a sleepover’. No, when our parents picked us up – or our friends’ parents picked them up from our house – we knew our time together was up, for now.

Stressed Husband always laughs (rather manically) at the term sleepover because, as he says “Nobody bloody sleeps! The kids stay awake all night – and the parents holding the sleepover certainly don’t get any sleep either because they’re too busy popping into the  room to get the kids to ‘settle down now’.” He’s right.

I suppose not everybody has terrible experiences when their kids have a sleepover (those parents probably have scary hair and brandish a big sharp, stick  to frighten the little devils to sleep) and now that my children are older, sleepovers are much easier to handle. But if I think back to some of the sleepovers in the Writeonmum household they include these memorable nights:

1. The ‘My Eyebrow Hurts’ Sleepover. Teen Queen was 8 years old when she asked for 5 friends to sleepover for her birthday. Five little 8 year old girls…how much trouble can the darling little princesses cause? So, I said yes. All went well for the first few hours – tap dancing and excited screeching shook the house, but by 10pm I told SH to come out from under the cushion because ‘they’ll be asleep soon’. Ha. Ha. Ha. After politely telling the girls to ‘settle down’ every half hour from 10.30 until 1am with no joy, it suddenly became quiet. Great? No. I thought I’d check on them and that was the first mistake. Girl number 1: My head hurts. I went to get her a drink of water and hoped I could hold off on the Calpol as I didn’t want to administer meds without permission from her mum – who I knew was out making the most of a child-free night. Girl Number 2: My ear hurts. Back down the stairs I went for another glass of water…when I walked back into the bedroom, there was a couple of other ailments…sore throats and tummy aches. I wondered whether little Teen Queen was playing a joke on me but as I looked around the room I noticed that most of the girls looked tearful and home-sick. Oh no! So, at about 3am, I was sat huddled with the girls around me reading bedtime stories until they were all much jollier and ready for bed. Phew! Just as I walked out the room, eyes bloodshot like a Tom and Jerry cartoon (I really needed matchsticks!) a little, trembly voice piped up..….my eyebrow hurts. Pleeeeeeaaaase!

2. The ‘Fall Out’ Sleepover. Fast forward 6 years and I was used to sleepovers. I didn’t particularly like them, but I learned how to manage them as successfully as I could. But this one time, Teen Queen had 4 fourteen year olds over. The mess was a hundred times worse than the 8 year olds – make-up smeared on bed sheets, dripping nail varnish, bras hanging from lamps, glossy magazines strewn across the floor, turning the carpet into a death trap. The giggling about boys, clothes and music was entertaining – if a few decibels too loud. SH and I were asleep by 12 as the girls began to chill out with a movie. Until…at 5am, mother’s instinct made me snap open my eyes and alerted me to the sound of the front door quietly closing. I jumped out of bed, threw on a dressing gown and slippers and ran downstairs to find all the girls, but one, gently snoring. I drove around the streets in the darkness, panicking that one of my friend’s daughters was wandering around on her own and I was responsible for her! Thankfully, I found her standing at a bus stop. Her excuse?

There was, like, a bit of a fall out between us girls? And, like, I reaaaaalllly needed my space. 

Needed her SPACE? At 14? I felt like kicking her spoilt little butt into space! Instead I gave her a lift home (still dressed in my snazzy night time ensemble) and returned to my house a shaky, exhausted mess.

3. The ‘Pass The Sick Bucket’ Sleepover: A couple of years ago, My Boy and a friend indulged in a spot of under-age drinking at a party. Don’t shoot me – it happens! Apparently, the parents of the boy’s party were out and left the kids to their own devices for a few hours. All that was available was soft drinks but of course, a few chancers bought along their own paint stripper vodka and beers.

An hour after My Boy’s curfew and after failing to get hold of him on his mobile, I stood at the top of the stairs staring, unblinking, at the front door using ‘mother’s magic powers’ to bring him through it safely. It worked. He was home and after 10  minutes of trying to find the lock, he and his best friend, fell into the hallway and proceeded to bounce across the hallway hitting the walls, from side to side, like a couple of human pin balls. They were completely oblivious that I was standing watching them. Best Friend found his way to the loo and began the ‘song of Huey’ while My Boy cluttered in the cupboards knocking packets of crisps and biscuits onto the floor. After a huge telling off for both of them – I might as well have been talking to jelly – and trying to get them to drink lots of water, My Boy fell asleep on the sofa. Meanwhile, his friend continued to vomit as I held the bucket and wiped his forehead way into daylight.

Those are just a few of the sleepover shockers that stick in my mind and there are more, but I don’t want to scare you too much.

Little Angel is a regular sleepover-er too and it hasn’t, so far, been too bad. Her worse nightime crime? She has a habit of re-arranging bedrooms – hers and her friends – by moving heavy wardrobes, beds and other furniture around in the dead of night. She also like to make pancakes at 4am in the morning… ho, hum.

So, next time your child whines muuuuuuum can I have a sleepover? Make sure you’ve got scary hair and a big stick.

Street Party Paradise

Wow. What a whir of a weekend and the Bank Holiday isn’t even over yet! Went to an amazing street party with fabulous friends and really got into the whole Cool Britannia theme with painted nails, glitzy GB transfers, Union Jack deely boppers and flip flops.

We ate red, white and blue fare, drank red vodka jellies, wiggled our hips to Zumba in the street while the kids met up with friends and played happily ‘a la childhood 1970s’ – in and out of each other’s houses and in the church gardens. As evening descended, we went to a friend’s house, drank more vodka jellies and boogied to the Best of British sounds – Wham!

One of the things I love most about where I live is that we don’t really need an excuse for a street party – what with our wonderful local bar and eaterie, you’ll often find an impromptu party going on as friends and residents spill out onto the pavement on a sunny, summer evening. Actually, it doesn’t even have to be summer – our Halloween evening shin digs in the W4 streets are so popular that the adults look forward to trick or treating as much – or even more –  than the kids. In fact, parents in-the-know, take their little goblins trick or treating straight after school to be sure there are people in because most mummy and daddy wizards and witches can be found holding their own monster mash outside the local by 6pm.

I am proud to be British and this Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend has only enforced that but what I am even more grateful for, is the excuse to party and celebrate with fantastic friends and family in a community that embraces everyone no matter what race, colour or creed. Watching the children making new friends and the adults mingling and getting to know their neighbours, I’m aware that we are making happy memories that will last forever – and that’s something to celebrate!

Happy Jubilee Holiday to you all!

xx

A Fresh Start

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Chaos reigns supreme in my house. From my bulging handbag full of sweet wrappers, tissues, old lipglosses and crumbs to my Jenga style in-tray – I’m too scared to pick a letter off it just incase the whole lot topples over! Clutter is everywhere. I can’t see what books I have on my shelves anymore because obscuring them is ‘tat’ like broken TV controls, a bottle of moisturiser, a tin of quality street containing more tat…you get the picture. There isn’t a home for everything in my house, there’s just a ‘tat mountain’ that keeps on growing.

But…

When I move into my new house, in the words of Little Angel, everything will be ‘fresh’. And so I am determined to keep everything neat and tidy and make sure everything will be – and stay – in its rightful place. So determined am I that I’ve began to fervently scour clutter busting options on line – and blimey, there really is a storage solution for everything isn’t there? My Nanny Ciss who tried in vain to teach me to be tidier, would giggle in her grave if she heard me say what’s coming next but I’m loving the Lakeland website!  It’s just so foxy and seductive with its adjectives like dust-proof, slimline and stackable… It really makes me believe that if I buy these things I will automatically become Domestic Goddess 2012.

In reality, my Lakeland buys will probably wind up shoved in a cupboard underneath a selection of mismatched shoes and too small coats. But I hope not.

Here’s my first buy in the hope of keeping tidy Brit Style

Have you got any favourite storage solutions or tips on keeping your house clutter free? If so, feel free to share them with me!

My Happy Pills

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Do you remember the film Pollyanna? The1960 Disney movie adaptation of the best selling 1913 children’s novel by Eleanor H Porter, told the story of an impossibly upbeat child (played by the lovely Hayley Mills) with a remarkable – or some might say, unfeasible – optimistic outlook. For instance, if you told Pollyanna her arm was falling off she’d say something like “Why, thank you for drawing my attention to that my sweetheart, but please, I’d hate for you to worry about me, I’ll be fine – look, see! I have another perfectly good arm. Everything will be absolutely fine!” Yeah, yeah. I loved the story when I was a little girl as I thought it took big ones to be happy in the face of adversity and to keep your pecker up – so to speak – when things were looking down.

Some might say I have a touch of the Pollyanna’s about me. I am a naturally perky, smiley person, I suppose, and I do like to look on the bright side of life, but flipping hell, this run of gloomy weather has really tested my mood. I know there are a lot worse things happening in the world than a few (few!?) grey, rainy days, but I’ve discovered – and so has my poor suffering family -that I’m obviously prone to a touch of Seasonal Affective Disorder, S.A.D.  Put it this way, I’ve seen Stressed Husband tremble with fear as a dark cloud rolls over the sun – not fear of how much money he could lose on jobs if he has to shut his building sites down due to rain – oh no – fear of what might lay in store for him as my mood quickly turns like the weather from bright to black…

But…. and here is the good news. Yep, in true Pollyanna style, I’ve discovered a few things that help cheer me up when I’m feeling down and I think they’ll see me through the worst of this vile weather. I call them my Happy Pills…

ZUMBA – I can guarantee that if I start a Zumba class feeling ready to do damage to the next person that even looks in my general direction, by the end of it, the cheesy Latino tunes and bouncy, shake-your-booty dance moves will have worked their magic. And just like that famous beer advert, Zumba sends those feel good endorphins rushing through my body refreshing the parts (my miserable brain) that other exercise classes just can’t reach.

The Real Housewives of Orange County – If it’s possible to have a crush on a TV programme, then this is my crush. It may be shallow and tacky but sometimes my brain  just cries out for a quick shot of escapism – a quick fix of saccharine sweetness that gives me glamour, gossip, fashion, beauty, botox, great bodies, bitching, friendship, love and best of all SUNSHINE! It’s so good I blogged it twice.

Chocolate and Wine – Who doesn’t feel just a bit better when their gob is crammed with creamy, dreamy, milk chocolate? I try not to do the guilt thing afterwards where you think about how many calories you’ve just consumed and then feel even worse before you ate it. No, I enjoy the moment and tell myself my body ‘needed’ it. And wine? Well, if it’s pink and bubbly then even better but a lovely glass of wine once the day’s work is done can be a real pick me up – as long as I don’t drink too much and then it’s a lay me down!

Friends and Family – Sharing funny emails/texts and having good nights out with friends and family – people who you know really care about you – has a way of making you realise that even when the skies are grey and you’re feeling a bit poo, you really should take a leaf out of Monty Python’s book and look on The Bright Side of Life…

Cuddling my dog and online shopping are also a couple of my favourite mood lifters – what are your Happy Pills?