I want to be …




Princess or a pirate



Girls v boys



What’s in a name?


Maybe it is because I am a journalist and have suffered many a
berating over the years for rogue spelling mistakes that have crept
into the paper, but I do like words to be spelt correctly. And that
includes names.
I just don’t understand how after someone has gone through all that
effort of compiling the Oxford English Dictionary and endless books on
baby names, when it comes to choosing a name for children people
suddenly think they can spell it however they want or even just make a
new one up completely. Am I just being an old pedant?
Names are back in the spotlight this week following the announcement
that Royals William and Kate are going to have a baby. Luckily for
them, in the UK we have some of the most relaxed laws in the world
when it comes to naming our children.
In many countries parents can only choose from a set list and names
have to be approved and spell-checked.
In Germany the authorities consult the “International Manual of the
First Names” and any name must indicate gender. Iceland has its own
naming committee, but whilst rejecting Pluto and Money in their wisdom
they did approve Benson and Hedges for twins and Midnight Chardonnay.
Sweden’s strict laws have seen names Metallica, Superman, Veranda and
Ikea, all binned.
But here in the UK there are already several young Supermans, along
with numerous Gandalfs and even Gazzas.
The modern trend for hyphened names has actually been around for a
while. The Puritans got there first coming up with such gems as
“If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst- been-damned” and
Among the handful of restrictions in this country are that the name is
not offensive, does not contain numbers or symbols. is not impossible
to pronounce and does not imply rank or honour like Sir, Lord,
Princess or doctor etc.
It may be argued that all names were invented once. But they are all
based on some kind of meaning – personal traits, occupations,
circumstances of birth or have links to religion or mythology.
However maybe in a google and social media-driven world it does help
to stand out from the crowd? Apparently in 1800 a whopping 24% of all
girls were called Mary, that must have been confusing.
With so much choice and media pressure the couple are in a tight spot.
Charged with the responsibility of modernising the monarchy, a
traditional name is bound to be a disappointment. But could they go as
far as celebs like Jamie Oliver who named his son “Buddy Bear?”. At
least Royals tend to have plenty of names.  William’s is William
Arthur Philip Louis Mountbatten-Windsor. So maybe along with Diana and
Elizabeth or George and Arthur there will be room to sneak in a Gazza

Can you change a tyre?

Having two daughters I have written before how it can be all too easy to succumb to the pink sparkly stereotype of girliness. For whatever good it does I at least try to make sure they have a couple of cars and trains amongst their toys and that they dress up as pirates not just fairies. Yet I didn’t set them much of an example this week when they had to come with their dad to rescue me as I sat stranded with a flat tyre on the side of the motorway.
I was a total cliche from the moment my car first started to make an unusual noise, just turning the music up so I couldn’t hear it.
Even when it began to lose power, I kept hitting the accelerator thinking if I could just reach home everything would be ok. It was only when people started flashing me and I could smell smoke that I finally pulled into a layby and found my tyre ripped to shreds.
At first I thought my banger had had it, as after passing the 100,000 miles mark the old dear is about ready for her bus pass, so I was relieved to find it was just a tyre. At least I did manage to use the manual to get to the stage of jacking her up and trying to prise loose the wheel nuts, but I just couldn’t get them to budge.
But worse embarrassment was to come when I went to get a new tyre as the outside of my car looks like a Ferrari compared to the inside. When I saw the mechanic putting a plastic sheet on the seat I thought it was because he didn’t want to get grease on it. But then I realised he was actually pretty clean and I think he just thought it looked like a health hazard. Maybe he didn’t see the empty Haribo packets stuffed in the driver’s door that I pocketed out of the children’s party bags and ate myself. And I am sure he won’t have noticed the rotten apple core that I had been meaning to remove for the last few days or maybe a week, or the cheese sandwich crusts discarded on the floor of the backseats. But to my mortification he did see the opened tampon that my daughter had found in the glove compartment and as it kept her happy thinking it was mouse I had thought what the heck and let her keep playing with.
The one plus side of my tip of a car is that if I ever do break down with the children on board, at  least I could scrounge something edible or a long forgotten toy to play with buried somewhere under the seat.
However, this has been a wake up call. I have now practiced changing a wheel and cleaned out the inside and it looks semi-respectable. But I am not sure I should be let loose on the brake pads just yet.

Holy Island and Lindisfarne Castle




Sometimes revisiting childhood memories can disappoint, not Lindisfarne. Had a wonderful day taking my daughters on their first visit. Can’t believe I have not been for so long. A magical place.

Practicalities: Pushchair friendly until you get to the castle summit although I did see a Phil & Teds at the top, baby change in the central car park.

Useful Links:

Check out the safe crossing times at http://www.northumberlandlife.org/holy-island/






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