Friday, 3 July 2015

Week two and I'm still alive

The continuation of my running regime.
I wasn’t sure I was ready for week two so my first foray into week two was a repeat of the week one routine.
So on Sunday I did what I’d done in the previous week.  And then on Monday I looked and saw that week two didn’t look that bad, so I gave it a go.  I survived.
On Tuesday I did a week two session too.  Wednesday and Thursday were a bit tricky so Friday saw my final week two attempt and because I started week two with a repeat of the week one session I ended up doing four sessions in a week.
I have discovered that Hannah can walk faster than I can run….Whatever.
Music whilst exercising is good although going from this:

to this:

is weird.

And I can look tall and skinny if I view my shadow when the sun is low:


Friday, 26 June 2015

Just a phase I'm going through

Last weekend I decided it was pathetic that I couldn’t run five kilometres.

I don’t want to compete and I don’t want to be a good runner, but I don’t want to be pathetic.

I have tried running before, and not in a half-hearted way either.  It didn’t work and I became disillusioned, fed up, and full of pathos.

This time I’m older, so it’ll be harder, but I’ll have technology on my side.  I don’t have any bionic limbs or fabulous compression clothing to improve circulation but I do have an app.  It’s an app that is similar to many that have taken lazy lumps from “Couch to 5K”.

I’m less than a week in, so how was it?

Well my first outing was with my children and I enjoyed their company but my running looked like the running of someone twice my age.  There was post run aching too, but the whole thing was manageable.

My second outing was an inning.  I ran and walked around the house unwilling to be seen in public.  This was tolerable and the running was less lame.

My third outing followed the same route as the first and my running was more effective because I needed to add a loop to be able to schedule the interspersed walking and running perfectly timing my return to base at the end of the 30 minutes.  It was a warm morning and I was horribly hot and sweaty when I got back home.  It was all doable though.

My concern is that week two doubles the length go the running bits.  I think that sounds like a bit too much for me and I might repeat week one.  I’m not training for any particular event so I might as well work at a comfortable pace rather than risk trying too much too soon and failing.

Do I feel better?  Not physically better but I do feel virtuous.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015


There are times when my life is choreographed to the minutes; things happen one after the other making the best use of my time.

This morning I’d taken some ingredients out of the freezer ready to cook a quick meal this evening.

The minute I got in from work I started cooking and made a chicken pie and bunged it in the oven.  My hints about making mummy a cup of tea fell on deaf ears.

I checked where Hannah was and realised I could just collect her from the station while the pie was in the oven.  I set the timer on the oven so that it would turn off preventing the pie from burning.  After collecting Hannah and her friend, dropping her friend off and getting home I served up and we ate.  No cup of tea was forthcoming here either.

I needed Dave to get home because I wanted his car to go to Astrid’s house.  I was collecting a wardrobe and needed the estate.  Dave knew this but wasn’t home at the time I would normally expect.  I popped the kettle on because nobody else was going to make me a cup of tea.  I also put a bread mix in the bread maker. 

And then Dave turned up and he was home at a time which meant I would be late getting to Astrid.  

He drank my untouched tea while I got in the car with Ethan to collect the wardrobe.  Dave lamely offered help and I resisted the urge to say “Maybe try to be a bit more considerate of other people’s commitments.”  I wasn’t late by much but I don’t like letting people down and I try to keep promises.

My time is precious. I don’t appreciate being messed around.  

Friday, 19 June 2015


I'm typing this as a form of therapy. Nobody's recommended I do this, I'm just trying out in the hopes that it works.

I am at home today and have just been overwhelmed with sadness and I don't know why.

It reminds me of the feelings I had when I had post natal depression and that scares me. I don't want to go anywhere near that place again.

I've tried to analyse why I'm feeling this way because it's actually quite unusual for me. I am, despite appearances to the contrary, an optimist.

I've been baking this morning which usually makes me happy, but not today.

I'm just so very sad today. I want to call mum for a chat but I can't, she's not here.

So for all of you who hate those people who smile for no reason, rest assured they can have their bad days.

I don't know what's up. But this isn't me.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Just a thought

I’ve watched the last couple of episodes of Born Naughty on Channel 4.  The premise is parents whose children are exhibiting unwanted behaviours.  The programme brings together experts to analyse the children and parents to determine whether the child is undiagnosed with perhaps autism or a psychological disorder, or whether the parents just need a bit of help to do the job of parenting a little better.

There have been lots of programmes covering the task of parenting and often the general response of the great viewing public is to criticise the parents.

My conclusion is somewhat different.  I think all of these shows demonstrate that parents need help and support.

There is very little guidance for parents.  You have the child and that’s it.  A few visits to a doctor with a smattering of early trips to see a health visitor and it stops.

The focus, as the child grows up, seems to be the child.  I recognise the child is important but the parent needs to know how to support their child.  Parenting is all too often inherited.  If your parents didn’t have to deal with anything out of the ordinary then you’ll never have seen how to deal with a psychological diagnosis or the news that your child is on the autistic spectrum.  If you’ve never seen it then who’s going to show you what to do and how to deal with it?

I wonder whether the offer of no strings support for parents who’d just like to know how to get their child to eat more vegetables or stop getting into fights at school or whatever, would make everyone happier and probably stop some issues from building and becoming bigger, more expensive issues to manage.

Just a thought.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Smoked Haddock Chowder Recipe

I made this today and it’s delicious which is why I’m sharing the recipe.


  • 25g butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 400g potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 725ml fish stock (I used vegetable stock)
  • 200g natural uncooked smoked haddock, skinned and flaked
  • 75ml single cream
  • cayenne pepper - I used about half a teaspoon

Garnish if required:

  • 1 egg, hard boiled and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsps finely chopped fresh parsley


  • Melt the butter in a saucepan, add three-quarters of the onion and 225g of the potato, then cook gently for 5 minutes, without browning
  • Add the stock, cover, bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender
  • Blend until smooth and return to the pan
  • Add the remaining vegetables, cover, then simmer gently for 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender
  • Remove from the heat, add the fish, stir in the cream and add cayenne to taste.
  • Reheat gently for 5 minutes, then serve with garnish, if required.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Yellow Split Pea and Bacon Soup

I’ve been working my way through a soup recipe book.  It has a recipe for every day of the year.  I’m not cooking every recipe but February 4th is “the best yet” according to my progeny.  And February 4th happens to be Yellow Split Pea and Bacon.  It doesn’t sound very inspiring, except the bacon bit.  Everyone loves bacon.

It’s such a simple recipe, and very tasty, so I thought it was worth sharing.


  • 170g yellow split peas
  • 1 potato, diced
  • half an onion, diced
  • pinch of white pepper
  • 375ml vegetable stock
  • 40g celeriac
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch turmeric
  • 500g cooked, smoked bacon, diced


  • In a large saucepan place 100g of the yellow split peas and all of the other ingredients except the bacon.
  • Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes
  • Remove the bay leaf and blend until smooth
  • Add the remaining yellow split peas and bacon and cook gently for another 20 minutes, or until the peas have softened.
  • Enjoy.

Can be frozen and defrosted/reheated

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Feminism should die

I recently read and shared a Spectator article about the isolation of Sweden’s “feminist foreign minister”.  She’d been outspoken about the subjugation of women in Saudi Arabia.

It’s been sitting uncomfortably with me.

The political isolation is wrong, but the way she was described also seemed wrong even though the article was supportive.

She was described as a feminist because she wants women to have fair treatment in Saudi Arabia; isn’t that what every fair-minded individual would want?  

Does that mean that the norm is that everyone is a feminist? 

I’ve decided that feminism is a redundant term.  It’s definition is the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of the equality of the sexes.  What reasonable person wouldn’t advocate women’s right to equality?  Those who wouldn’t want this are the misogynists.

If feminist beliefs are the norm then perhaps the term is no longer needed.  So instead of the general population, feminists and misogynists, we should just have everyone and misogynists.  And ideally we wouldn’t have the misogynists.

Does this make sense?  Can we get rid of the term feminism?

Thursday, 26 March 2015

I'd like a joint bank account, just for me

When I parcels that need collecting from the sorting office I can’t use my driving licence as ID.  Parcels are delivered to Ann Cardus and my driving licence has the name Carolyn Ann Cardus.

To overcome this rather embarrassing situation I changed the name on my Halifax current account.  I’d opened the account with my first name and middle name and nobody had asked me what I wanted as an account holder’s name.  When I asked at the counter if it would be possible for my statements and debit card to show Ann Cardus they said I could have any name I wanted on there, but I thought Ann Cardus made sense, because that’s my name.  I’ve been using my Halifax bank statements as ID to collect parcels ever since and the branch’s records still have information about my first name.

My banking with the Halifax didn’t change at all.  I continued to pay cheques in made payable to A or Ann Cardus and to Carolyn A Cardus or C A Cardus, until this week.

I had two cheques returned to my home address because the payee didn’t match the account holder’s name exactly.  This is after about two years without any problem at all.

I called the number on the attached letter and was put through to the call centre who eventually tried to put me through to the branch.  There was no answer so they said they would ask the branch to call me, which they did.  The man I spoke to told me that there was a rule that said the names had to match exactly and they would not budge on the matter.  He couldn’t explain why all previous cheques made payable to C A Cardus had been processed without question.

I phoned the Financial Conduct Authority who advised there is no such FCA rule.

I called the bank back and explained that the FCA doesn’t have a rule.  I asked if there was a Halifax rule.  I explained that if there was something in the terms and conditions of my account then I would not be making a complaint, but if there wasn’t, I would.  After an hour long phone call, just as the call centre operator was reviewing the complaint with their supervisor, the house phone battery gave way.

I dialled in again, went through another hour long call of pain, and logged a complaint.  The operative on this call told me it was in the terms and conditions, although she couldn’t find it immediately.  I adjusted my stance and said that I had not had this issue for two years and clearly something had changed.  I had not been informed of the change in terms and conditions which is a requirement of financial institutions.  I also requested that they phone me back to tell me where this is in the terms and conditions and also that they mail me the relevant section.  I also requested they revise this rule which is not an FCA requirement and which is a significant inconvenience for customers like me, and probably for people who still use their maiden name as well as their married name.

I was offered reimbursement for the telephone costs (three hours) and £60 for the inconvenience.

I haven’t heard back regarding the terms and conditions, and having had a quick look at the ones available on the website, I don’t think it’s in the terms and conditions.

If they can’t tell me where this “rule” is, I will be complaining to the Banking Ombudsman.

But I think I have a short term fix: request a joint account for just me.  The bank is treating me as two people: A Cardus and C A Cardus, so I might see how they react to my joint account request.  I did ask, when I spoke to the branch, whether I could change the account holder name to "Ms A Cardus or Mrs C A Cardus” but was told this wasn’t possible.

This might sound petty but all I want to be able to do is pay cheques into my account. 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Write to your MP

Writing to your MP couldn't be easier.

This website: makes it really simple with a step by step process.

I've just written to my MP, Eric Pickles, with this letter and you can too - feel free to copy and paste:

Dear Mr PIckles
Mr. Ed Timpson claimed in a letter to parents, dated 1st September, 2014, that no child should lose their statement in the transfer to EHCP.
So no child or young person should lose their statement and not have it replaced with an EHC plan simply because the system is changing. 
Equally, I expect that young people who are currently receiving support as a result of a LDA and remain in further education or training during the transition period, who request and need an EHC plan, will be issued with one. 
If a council decides to cease a statement and not replace it with an EHC plan or not issue an EHC plan to a young person who receives support as a result of an LDA then dispute resolution arrangements must be in place locally for parents and young people, including mediation and the right to appeal a decision to the SEND Tribunal.
Needless to say, the process is lengthy, which will affect our children’s education, as their needs will not be met during this process. Going to SEND Tribunal places a financial burden upon parents, and some may not have the means to fight to support their child, whose educational development will suffer. 
The distress caused by battling the system also has an emotional cost as many parents of children with SENDs affects their mental health and well-being. The impact of losing provision set out in the statement will not only be felt by the child but also their family and the school with potentially devastating consequences.
Please, would you provide me with the legislation, which protects the current provision in Part 3 of a statement when transferring to Section F of an EHCP until appropriately, qualified, professional advice recommends that this is no longer necessary. 
We have struggled to find such legal security in the Children and Families Act (2014) and feel that this is against the interests of justice or the intention of the legislation.
I sincerely hope that the intention of the new legislation was not to discriminate or remove the rights of children in this way and look forward to your response.
Yours sincerely,
Ann Cardus

Friday, 27 February 2015

I get it

This conversation happened this morning:

Dave: “I’m trying my new migraine medicine."

Me: “Does that mean you have a migraine?"

Dave: “Yep. Head really hurts."

Me: “So you won’t be going into work then…"

Dave: “I have to."

Me: “You don’t have to."

Dave: “I do."

Now your instinctive reaction here might be to think “What?!”  I know, a killer hurting head and he’s still going to go to work.

The thing is that I understand this response.  Dave had people travelling to the office for meetings and he didn’t want to let them down.  I’d have had the same reaction.  I might have tried to think of someone who could take my place but, if that had failed, I’d haul my sorry hurting head into work.

If you travelled to a meeting to find your host was off sick, how would you feel?


Sunday, 8 February 2015


You may be aware that I live next to a building site.

You may not know that the police have knocked on the door in the past to ask about thefts from the site.  We hadn't seen anything but we have been keeping our eyes open in case there's a repeat performance.

Today was Sunday and the planning permission that has been granted prohibits work on the site on a Sunday and yet, as I was putting the rubbish out in the back garden I heard noises from the site.

I knew that both entrances to the site were locked.  I also knew that the Portakabin that the builders use for frequent tea-making wasn't open.

I hopped onto a bench and looked over what remains of our garden wall and the temporary barrier the builders have constructed.  I couldn't see anything, but I could definitely hear something.

What should to do?

I guessed that nobody was being murdered because I couldn't hear screaming.  I figured the noises were being caused by one of three things:

1.  Thieving scum
2.  Young people mucking around on a building site.  Dangerous.
3.  Builders.  Shouldn't be there but harmless.

I thought the third option was unlikely because whoever was there wasn't behaving like the Monday-Saturday builders: gates locked, Portakabin closed, no loud swearing.  The balance of probabilities indicated I needed to call the police.

I dialled 101 and, after waiting an age once I'd been put through to the control room, I explained things just as I have here.

About three minutes later two police cars turned up and there was a knock at the door.  A mountain of a police officer wanted to jump over our wall until he found it was a wobbly and unstable wall.  I helped him and a couple of his colleagues find the easy access for those with a slim frame.

As the occupants of the first two cars were tentatively making their way onto the site, two more cars turned up.  I think it might have been a slow crime day in Brentwood.

About ten minutes later I got the lowdown.  Three Romanian builders were a bit surprised to discovered by Brentwood's best blue line.

The police officers said I should call again if I see or hear anything suspicious. They said I did the right thing.

So next time there's activity on the site when there shouldn't be, I'll be calling 101.

Panasonic Breadmakers

I think I've blogged in praise of the Panasonic breadmaker in the past.  It's a brilliant piece of kit and we use ours almost daily.  In this case it's Panasonic we should thank for our daily bread.

But, our first Panasonic broke after about 18 months.  I think it was a mechanical failure.  So, because we are so dependent on our breadmaker I hot-footed it to Currys and bought another.  This time I paid for a "Care plan" which would last three years and provide a replacement should we experience another failure.

Today, exactly to the day, two years after I bought that second breadmaker it failed.  We tried three loaves and all were rubbish.  I couldn't remember the details of the Curry's Care plan so I phoned.  The nice customer sewrvice representative at the other end gave me a reference number and told me it expired on the 8th of January 2016.

We took the broken breadmaker which had cost £119.99 into the store and came away with the latest model which was on sale for £134.99.

I never buy product insurance but because we'd experienced one failure I thought I'd take the risk and this time it paid off.  As it's worked once for me I asked if I could do the same for this new breadmaker.  So I have paid another £30 to be covered for the next three years and, yes, I feel that Panasonic should probably design something that's a bit more robust, but I'm guessing that in two years time I'll be getting another upgrade because the current model will fail.

The unexpected bonus was that I will be getting a refund on the remaining year of unused Care Plan on the broken product.  I didn't expect that.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Amazing apple pie

Cooked an awesome apple pie today.  It was stacked with fruit and the pastry was fantastic.  The recipe made no sense.  It seemed completely illogical because the pastry didn’t need cold ingredients, but it worked so, hey ho, here’s an amazing apple pie recipe.  Taken from Angela Whatsit on

You’ll need a 20-22cm round and 4cm deep pie tin/dish, oh, and an oven, and ingredients.



  • 1kg ish Bramley apples
  • 140g golden caster sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 225g butter, room temperature
  • 50g golden caster sugar, plus extra
  • 2 eggs
  • 350g plain flour
  • For the pastry, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until just mixed.
  • Break in a whole egg and a yolk (keep the white for glazing later).
  • Beat together for just under 1 min – it will look a bit like scrambled egg.
  • Now work in the flour with a wooden spoon, a third at a time, until it’s beginning to clump up, then finish gathering it together with your hands.
  • Gently work the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film or plastic bag, and chill for a minimum of 45 mins.
  • While the pastry is chilling, prepare the apples.
  • Put a layer of paper towels on a large baking sheet.
  • Quarter, core, peel and slice the apples about 5mm thick.  Because I hate apples that turn brown I put the cut apple in water with a dash of lemon juice.  Before the next step the apples need to be drained.
  • Lay sliced apples evenly on the paper towel covered baking sheet.
  • Put paper towels on top and set aside.
  • Now mix the 140g/5oz sugar, the cinnamon and flour for the filling in a bowl that is large enough to take the apples
  • After the pastry has chilled, heat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5.
  • Lightly beat the egg white with a fork.
  • Grease your pie tin/dish with butter.
  • Cut off a third of the pastry and keep it wrapped while you roll out the rest, and use this to line a pie tin – 20-22cm round and 4cm deep – leaving a slight overhang.
  • Roll the remaining third to a circle about 28cm in diameter.
  • Pat the apples dry with kitchen paper, and tip them into the bowl with the cinnamon-sugar mix. Having dry apples in the pie prevent a soggy bottom.
  • Give a quick mix with your hands and immediately pile high into the pastry-lined tin/dish.
  • Brush a little water around the pastry rim and lay the pastry lid over the apples pressing the edges together to seal.
  • Trim the edge with a sharp knife and make 5 little slashes on top of the lid for the steam to escape. (Can be frozen at this stage.)
  • Brush it all with the egg white and sprinkle with caster sugar.
  • Bake for 40-45 mins, until golden, then remove and let it sit for 5-10 mins before serving with vanilla ice cream, cream or custard.
  • 1kg Bramley apples
  • 140g golden caster sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp flour

Sunday, 18 January 2015

If I were a successful theatre director

We went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory last night.
It was good.
Wonka was played to perfection.  The set was amazing. Some of the costumes were very clever and I would rather like a Wonka jacket.
But there was something missing.
The children and I agreed that all audience members should have a chocolate bar and inside one, per performance, there should be a golden ticket. That golden ticket should win the holder a prize. It could be a show T-shirt our a trip backstage or the book signed by the cast our something.