#4: Battenberg

Good lord, what an almighty faff this has been!  Making a Battenberg cake didn’t sound that hard, I admit, and it hasn’t exactly been terrifying, but a thoroughly frustrating business that has revealed all manner of holes in my housekeeping skills!

I meant to do it a week ago.  Didn’t have the ingredients so made a list of what I needed.  Next day went to the shops, but forgot the list.  The day after: finally managed to buy the ingredients.  Great, I thought, I will bake it tomorrow.  But the weekend came and went, with alas no spare 3 hours to attempt Battenberg.  By the 6th day, I was determined.   Looked again at the recipe.  Oh bugger.  I don’t have the right sized cake tin.  Oof.   Never mind.  Borrowed one from a friend.  Started assembling ingredients.  But hold on – I don’t have enough eggs!  How can that be??  I checked all the ingredients only last Thursday…. Oh.  We ate the eggs for tea last night.  Bugger again.  Assembled everything but the eggs; eggs to follow…

Finally, got eggs, got tin, got everything – and spent a peaceful couple of hours in my kitchen, radio on, baking and assembling, nibbling the offcuts, sticking all the bits together – et voila!


I took it along to a play date, to the astonishment of friends who are more accustomed to me turning up with a packet of Happy Shopper digestives (at best!)

All in all I am quite pleased with that one.  Which is lucky as I could be eating it for weeks, since no one else in my house will touch it.  Grrr.

#3: River biking!

Woo hoo!   This was brilliant!

The floods have left all the paths and bridleways round the Cotswold water parks looking somewhat inhospitable to cyclists.  In many places it’s hard to tell where the path ever was; whole fields are underwater.  But, ideal for an adventure.  Some stretches were only under a foot of water, and the bike managed that fine… others went deeper, but the excitement factor is in not knowing when you go in whether you’ll emerge the other side!  The last one was beyond my bike skills and became a very cold wade through knee deep water.

Bracing, but it made for the sort of morning when I am quite happy not to have a job!

river biking close up river biking distance

#2: Putting the kids in charge

OK, my first real challenge!  Over breakfast I told the children they were now in charge, of everything, for the day.  I wasn’t going to nag; it was up to them to plan our activities, and get us all organised, before and after school.

I was fascinated to see how they each responded to their leadership challenge.  The three of them are so different.

One became the very image of me in the mornings, and frankly it wasn’t pretty.  Every few minutes she would check the clock, and bellow out the time in increasingly urgent tones.   She organised everyone’s clothes.  She put toothpaste on all the brushes, and called the others to brush.  They ignored her, so she took the brushes to the people. The people continued drawing.  She started on the threats.   ‘If you do not brush, you will have stinky breath at school.’  No response.  ‘If you do not brush then I will not play with you.  Ever.  Again.’  On they drew.  She moved on to brandishing a hairbrush.   By 8.30 she was cross, and everyone’s personal presentation left much to be desired.  The whole scene is sadly familiar, though to her credit there was rather less aggression than usual.

The second flailed around, befuddled by her freedom.  ‘I don’t know what to dooooo, mummy’, she wailed, seemingly stumped as to what came next, after pants and a t shirt.  She stomped from room to room, untroubled by her chocolate spread face mask; searching for the cardigan which she had, herself, just put in the tumble dryer.  (The real mummy had to step in, at a late stage.)

The third took full advantage of the situation, and by 8.25 had drawn a splendid unicorn, complete with 6 baby unicorns, each one named and carefully labelled after a member of our extended family.  I hadn’t heard a peep from her, yet interestingly, she was also dressed, passably clean, breakfasted, and ready to leave on time, her homework in her bag.  Our 4 year old has learnt a great deal through the parenting strategy of neglect.  I recommend it highly.

After school came a trip to the swimming pool (our third in as many days), followed by a whole chocolate bar each – BEFORE tea.  We shopped for their dinner ingredients (chicken nuggets AND fish fingers, pasta and cheese, green beans).  I was instructed to prepare it while they watched a LONG film, and dinner was served in the lounge, still watching.   Yet all were in bed by 7.30, their wildest ambitions fulfilled, and I am left congratulating myself on a fun day with quality time and minimal stress.  And totally loving their innocence – I fear the future may hold greater rebellions than eating a Crunchie before tea!

#1: Start a blog

I have set myself a challenge: for 100 days I will do something every day that pushes me out of my comfort zone… hopefully completing the full 100 before I turn 40.

I have consulted friends far and wide, resulting in the following list of challenges.  It is a work in progress so I reserve the right to change them as the attempt goes on…   New suggestions or challenges are always very welcome!

I’ll aim to blog about each as I go; post some photos; and, if my technical abilities permit, I will include the facility for folk to comment and tell me what you want more of.   But for now, here’s the list:

  1. Start a blog
  2. Put the children in charge for a day
  3. Try Zumba
  4. Cycle through floods
  5. Make a Battenberg cake
  6. Interact on social media for 3 hours.  (Not just snoop! Interact!)
  7. Cook a pig’s head
  8. Change a tyre on the car and learn to adjust the tyre pressure
  9. Introduce myself to the neighbours
  10. Join an expensive gym/health spa
  11. Go to a meditation class
  12. Pack the car for holiday entirely by myself
  13. Stay in bed for an entire day
  14. Have a drastic haircut
  15. Go rowing
  16. Build something
  17. Go to a posh restaurant and eat on my own
  18. Watch a horror film
  19. Strike up conversation with a stranger in a pub
  20. Do a mountain bike race
  21. Invite someone to dinner I don’t know very well
  22. Tantra workshop
  23. Go wild swimming
  24. Do an aerobics class
  25. Look after chickens
  26. Sing karaoke
  27. Do belly dancing (or pole dancing)
  28. Water-ski
  29. Write to 10 people and tell them what I love about them
  30. Stand up/open mic ??
  31. Sky dive??
  32. Do something generous and unexpected for someone else
  33. Ride Cow/help birth calf
  34. Learn to ride a unicycle
  35. Learn some kind of useful plumbing task
  36. Put up our roof rack and bicycles without help
  37. Take someone old and lonely a meal
  38. Have a Brazilian
  39. Ski a black run
  40. Drink a yard of ale
  41. Spend a day dressed as Bananaman
  42. Speak in a public place (speakers corner type thing)
  43. Learn to Eskimo roll
  44. Salsa/tango
  45. Volunteer to help at school
  46. Apply to be on a TV game show
  47. Knit a pair of socks
  48. Write a short story
  49. Make a Baked Alaska (for guests)
  50. Have a conversation in another language
  51. Dance all night in a club
  52. Abseil
  53. Sleep rough
  54. Learn a random new language
  55. Eat something alive!
  56. Try Tai chi
  57. Write a letter to The Times
  58. Publish a poem on the internet
  59. Potter a cup or plate
  60. Do a jump on a mountain bike
  61. Make some jewellery
  62. Paint a picture
  63. 24 hours juice-only fast
  64. Visit an abattoir
  65. Do ALL my filing
  66. Get rid of 1/2 of my possessions
  67. Give a significant amount of money to charity
  68. Drive through a city on my own without sat nav
  69. Drive across Europe at night
  70. Charge an eye watering fee for some work
  71. Get a tattoo
  72. Hire a personal shopper
  73. Take the children to a roller disco
  74. Busk/sing in public
  75. Be silent for a day
  76. Stay in a haunted house/castle
  77. Go caving
  78. Drive a bus
  79. Shoot something
  80. Have a session with a personal trainer
  81. Download 5 apps and figure out how to use them
  82. Drive to the mountains, and hike on my own
  83. Take the kids to the beach for a day trip, just me and them.       Make it fun without spending money
  84. Promote myself, shamelessly, far and wide
  85. Apply for a job with a 6 figure salary
  86. Learn a musical instrument
  87. Sell something I have made
  88. Go to a networking event and speak to people
  89. Get up at 6am every day for a week and use the time productively
  90. Go biking in the dark
  91. Take video footage of one of my challenges and upload it to you      tube
  92. Teach somebody something

…  …   …   …

100 – Take a photo of each achievement & publish them in a book!

Some slots are still blank – please do send me your suggestions!