Mummyshambles Rambles ~ Aitken Wood and Pendle Sculpture Trail

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We try to get out and about at least once week, even if it’s to the local woods. It’s fresh air and it’s free.

A few weeks ago we went to picturesque Pendle in Lancashire.

We did the Aitken Wood and Pendle Sculpture Tramper Trail which started at Barley Green Car Park.

It only cost a £1 to park (honesty box) and there are loos and a cafe. Or there is a pub if you want a pint on the way back.

It’s just under a 3 mile walk and boggy in places so walking boots or wellies are a must. Six inch stilettos – not a good idea!

We ambled past the pub and had a good nose at the lovely houses and gardens. It must be a gorgeous place to live – the only downer being having nosy gits peering through the windows…

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The views are stunning and as you walk up, there is a reservoir on the left.

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And to the right is the forest in the background. And sheep.

Damien started bleating about how he couldn’t walk any more at this point so the bribes started here.

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Ewe lookin at me?

Pendle has a bit of a ‘orrible history and the true story of the Pendle Witches is told throughout this Lancashire attraction.

The Sculpture Trail has ten ceramic plaques – three of which are these.

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There is also work from from lead artist, Philippe Handford. His work includes ‘walking’ walls. eerie trees and ‘tumbling’ tree arches.

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It started to rain so we dove into the forest for shelter. OH and S had hats on but me, being the idiot that I am, had neither hood nor hat. My hair and rain don’t go – I end up with what looks like a really shit perm.

We took sandwiches to avoid a meltdown from S in the cafe. He isn’t good in crowded areas so we take a picnic wherever possible.

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Despite there being toilets on the car park,  OH and S went off to pee up a tree.. it’s a man thing.

OH started reminiscing about his orienteering days – he lost me at ‘You could rig a tent up here blah blah blah’…

I totally zoned out. If it doesn’t have an electric socket for my hair paraphernalia .. I’m not interested.

Also tents are on ground level with the beasties and I sleep with my gob open. Nuff said.

We pushed on admiring some stunning scenery.

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It’s fairly steep in parts but S soldiered on in his wellies taking great delight splodooshing in the puddles. So much so that I had spatter marks up the back of my jeans. We had a few minor wobbles from him but he was on a bribe to visit the swings on the way back to the car so he kept his eyes on the prize…

My thighs were on fire and I was working muscles in my buttocks that had long since put themselves into retirement.

The route through the wood is moderately steep but if you make it to the top without needing a paramedic – the views of Pendle (weather permitting) are worth it.

It was a pleasant walk back down and down is always easier than up. The sun was shining and as a result, I was sweating my bag off in a thick winter coat and scarf. Most other ramblers had breathable jackets on. I’m such a townie at times…

You really are spoilt for choice with scenery. Everywhere you look is beauty.

And horse poo.

Every time we told S to ‘MIND THE HORSE POO!’, he laughed his head off.

‘POO’ is his word of the moment.

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People are really friendly. Almost everybody that we passed said hello….ramblers are nice people. Must be all that fresh air!

Or pre-walk tipples in the pub!

S coped really well. More often than not we have to turn back halfway through our walks but this time he was cooperative. We persevere most weeks because the activities that we can do with him are so limited due to his sensory and social problems. We feel that it’s important to get him (and ourselves) out of the house. Taking him into open spaces means that he can run and shout and if he has a meltdown – it’s not as bigger deal as when it happens in more enclosed public places. It benefits us all.

Needless to say…he got his reward.

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World Autism Awareness Day


What Autism is

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability affecting how people communicate and experience the world around them.

It’s not always obvious that a person is autistic just by looking at them and because of this it is often referred to as a hidden disability.

Everyone with autism is different.

What Autism Isn’t

Autism is NOT the result of bad parenting.

Our son is almost five years old and he was diagnosed with autism a few months ago.

The conclusion of a year and a half’s assessment was Autistic Spectrum Disorder and our feelings were a mixture of relief, sadness and determination to do all we can to make our son’s life the best it can be.

I have learned so much about autism over the past year and a half. I’ve recognised traits within myself, as I’m sure many other parents of autistic children have. But while I fully understand my son’s struggle with an overwhelming world, living with it and being able to cope with his challenging behaviour are two entirely different things. I know what works for me but I have a lot to learn about my son.

From experience I know how judgmental people can be. Most of it comes from ignorance and I hope that today being World Autistic Awareness Day  will help people to understand autism a little better.

As the mother of an autistic child I would ask this of people.

When you next see a child screaming and shouting in a shop please don’t jump to the conclusion that this is a naughty child/bad parent situation.

Think before you pass judgement.

The next time you see a mother close to tears because her child is clinging onto the school gate, screaming, shouting and kicking out – don’t judge her as a bad parent who has no control over her child. The child could be autistic and having a “melt-down”. When an autistic child has a melt down in public it is embarrassing for the child’s parents or carer. It is not a tantrum. There is a distinct difference between a tantrum and a melt-down. With a tantrum, the child has some control over their behaviour. A melt-down is a total loss of behavioral control.

In this situation the child needs help from the parent or carer and they, in turn, can do without judgmental attitudes.


Maybe you could help.

A kind word or act.

‘Are you OK? Is there anything I can do to help you?’

You have no idea how I have longed to hear these words…

It’s never happened.

Can you even imagine how it feels?

For me the problem isn’t with autism but the people who don’t understand it.

The world is a better place for autistic people. If you were to take away autistic people from the equation we would never have known Einstein, Mozart, Issac Newton, Charles Darwin and Michelangelo. All geniuses and all believed to be autistic.

S is quirky and I love that about him.

Sometimes I am mentally exhausted by it all but it’s up to me to find a way to cope. Being a parent is the most important job you’ll ever do. Being the parent of an autistic child is both challenging and rewarding.

In the space of a few seconds he can go from laughing his head off to spitting at the wall. It’s a roller coaster. It’s one hell of a ride and one thing is for sure – it’s never boring.

It is estimated that more than one in a hundred people are autistic. You will most likely know, or know of someone, who is autistic.

Autism is NOT an excuse for bad behaviour. It took a year and a half of in-depth tests to diagnose S. It has taken a number of professionals to conclude that my son is autistic so please don’t belittle it by presuming that it is an excuse for bad behaviour.

One thing I’m sure of is that intolerance is learned. Go into any nursery or infants school and you will see how accepting children naturally are of each other. We can learn so much from our children if we only take the time to observe them.

Any sadness I feel is about how society will treat him. I am not sad that he is autistic. Nor do I mourn over what could have been. This is who he is and I’m proud to be his mum.

Tonight he will go to bed. His dad will read him a story. Ten minutes later he will shout for me. I will go in and lie down next to him. We will talk for a while. He will put his arm around me and hug me tightly. I will say, ‘I love you my little boy’ and he will sigh and say, ‘I love you my little girl’. Then he will remove his arm and say, ‘You can go now’. Dismissed – just like that lol

Our son is autistic.

But that’s only part of it.

He is an amazing human being… I just wish that everybody could see him like we do.

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I like the concept of the world lighting up on this day of awareness because he certainly lights up mine.

If a member of your family is autistic – find out as much as you can about autism. Understand them and help to dispel the myths and raise awareness.

I would love to see a time where differences are not only tolerated but embraced. Not only for my son but for every autistic child and adult.

Thank you for reading.

“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did – that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that – a parent’s heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.” ~ Debra Ginsberg

Light bulb Photo Credit










This Month I Read

When God was a Rabbit ~ Sarah Winman

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Got to be honest, I chose this book purely because I liked the title but it’s very little to do with God.

It’s starts in the late 1960′s and is about a little girl, Ellie – her parents, her friend who smells of chips, her brother, Joe and a rabbit called god – who talks to her.

It’s a beautifully written story about the strong bonds between a brother and a sister, love in all it’s forms and the tragedies of life.

It’s an interesting and captivating read. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.

Memories no matter how small or inconsequential are the pages that define us ~ Sarah Winman – When God was a Rabbit

The Wisdom of Near Death Experiences ~ Dr Penny Sartori  (Kindle)

DSC_0195a (434x640)If you are going to write a book on NDE’s, it helps if you are have Dr Sartori’s credentials.

Lots of information and case studies in this book including cases that Penny can verify because she was the nurse on duty at the time.

She also talks about death bed visions and I’m convinced that members of my family had these prior to death.

Most importantly she addresses how we deal with death and end of life care in this country. I for one believe that the end of someone’s life is as important as it’s beginning. People should be allowed to have some control in their own deaths when it’s clear that they are dying. I would rather be allowed to say my goodbyes and go peacefully than come to an abrupt end on an operating table. People can have a good death if they are given the chance.

We do need to rethink how we deal with death. It’s not all about saving lives. It should also be about giving people the best end of life care. There needs to be dignity in death and this book approaches that subject beautifully. Penny writes with sensitivity and knowledge -  a comforting and fascinating read.

If you are interested in the NDE phenomenon, you’ll probably like this book.

If you have lost a loved one or have a fear of death – you might find comfort.

Penny’s website.

The Time Traveler’s Wife ~ Audrey Niffenegger

DSC_0190 (500x640)As the title suggests – it’s a story about time travel. And love.

It’s the love story of Clare and Henry who met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six and were married when she was twenty-two and Henry thirty. Impossible eh?

Not if you suffer from a rare genetic disease like Henry…

His genetic clock periodically resets itself and he finds himself in his past or his future. Not as glam as it sounds – he’s always naked when he time travels.

This story tells of Henry and Clare’s struggle to lead normal lives around this phenomenon.

It’s a story in two halves because it’s told from both their perspectives.

It’s a clever and incredibly moving story. I’d definitely recommend this book.

“Time is priceless, but it’s Free. You can’t own it, you can use it. You can spend it. But you can’t keep it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.” ~ Audrey Niffenegger – The Time Traveler’s Wife

As always this is a link up to the lovely Muttering Mummy. Please drop by and have a look.


Some Mother’s Do Ave Em

Mother’s Day is a comin..

It’s the day where grown children dust off their old dears and take em to a garden centre. Or the pub.

As a society, we pay homage to our mother’s – acknowledging their sacrifices of body and mind.

Body because the average mother’s stomach looks like a deployed airbag once it’s housed a couple of babies. The bigger the baby, the bigger aftermath. Trust me, I know!

She will declare that she loves her stretch marks because they remind her how lucky she is to have been blessed with children. She wears these battle scars with pride.

But occasionally after having consumed the best part of a box of Shiraz, she can be found slumped over an old photo of her teenage self sporting a crop top and single chin .

She jabs at the picture with a Wotsit and slurs, ‘Thash uhsed to be me!’

And mind because all mothers succumb to insanity at some point.

Like millions of mothers, I’ve woken up on Mother’s Day to cards being thrust in my face, alongside cremated toast, anaemic looking tea and flowers that look suspiciously like next doors tulips.

Cards such as this one where I’m depicted as a svelte looking Princess and for some reason – blonde.


For a while I was on a pedestal. This would change.

They mutated into teenagers – that’s why it changed.

I was turfed off my pedestal to make way for Nintendo, Cricket and South Park.

One memorable Mothers Day, K kicked open the bedroom door and presented me with his card and a mug of tea. He was older by this time and the tea had evolved into something actually resembling tea.

I noted that there was nothing from my oldest child.

My ovaries died a bit.

21 hours of utter agony giving birth to him – complete with enema, intermittent vomiting, a seriously pissed off midwife who was bearing the brunt of a staff shortage, three stitches, having to walk like John Wayne for the next two weeks and the MOTHER of all haemorrhoids which to this day still gives me gyp…

Miffed doesn’t begin to cut it.

My stretch marks flamed bright red (like Harry Potter’s scar when Lord Volderface was close by) and my Farmer Gile started itching like a bugga – always does when I’m stressed.

Nostrils flared, I flounced downstairs in my dressing gown and fluffy slippers to unleash Mothergeddon on my first born.

I plotted my revenge.

I would refuse to wash his cricket kit. Let him wash his own sodding jock strap. Ha!

And never again would I drive him around to deliver his papers because he was late and in danger of a docking of pay.

Then I heard the front door open and close.

A few minutes later, he walked in.

He placed an envelope on the mantelpiece.

He looked shifty.

He looked very shifty.

One solitary word on the envelope.


I opened it to find an untitled card with a old fashioned lady on the front.

I looked inside and this, dear reader, is what I saw.


His dad was walking past. He glanced at it and said, ‘You’re dead, son’.

It was half way through Mother’s Day and the Co-op had sold out of cards – so he’d improvised. Bless ‘im.

Once my eye stopped twitching -  I saw the funny side.

All I ever wanted to be was a mother and if I leave this world having accomplished only that, I’ll die happy. An extra bonus is that I am fortunate enough to have some awesome step-daughters. I get to buy girlie things and have chats about hair and stuff. I enjoy that. It makes a change from boys stuff.

Speaking of which…

These are my boys – my greatest achievement.

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 Some Mother’s really do ave em!

To Mother’s everywhere – I salute thee.

Enjoy your day. x

Mother’s hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever. ~ Unknown

Lady ~ The Small Dog With The BIG Attitude!


This is the tail tale of an incredibly feisty Jack Russell cross called ‘Lady’.

I spent most my childhood, (and early teenage years), begging Ma for a dog. Ma didn’t like dogs, but I figured that if I wore her down she’d give in… I was wrong.

Me: “Muuuuum”

Ma: “Whatever it is the answer is no!”

Me: “But Muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum”

Ma: “What?”

Me: “Can I have a dog?”

Ma: “No you bloody well can’t!”

Me: “But you said…”

Ma: “I know what I said, my girl, but I’ll be the one who ends up walking it, feeding it and cleaning up after it blah blah blah”

Me: “Yeah, but no, but yeah, but honestly Mum…I’ll walk it ten times a day, I’ll go without sweets to feed it, I’ll pick up it’s poo, I’ll get a job, (even though I’m only 10), AND I’ll wash the pots until I die… I PROMISE, Oh please Mumsie, Mother Dearest.. PUUUURLEASE????

It was a relentless bombardment designed to grind her down but Ma was made of stronger stuff. She was in the WRAF but the SAS would have been more suitable.

Needless to say she never cracked.

Once I left home, one of the first things I did was to get a dog.

Lady was one of litter of puppies found in a cardboard box on a moor in the middle of November…some lowlife had left them there to die.

The story ends well, they were all rescued.

Lady was about 8 weeks old when I saw her and her siblings in a big cage. She trampled over their heads to get to me and went on total lick-fest on my hand. She stole my heart that day and 17 years later it broke to let her go.

Lady was a challenging dog to say the least. As dogs go, she was fairly ‘orrible.

She hated ‘walkies’. How many dogs do you know who hate walkies?

She detested being outside even in summer. Our other dog would be sprawled out on the lawn, belly in the air, basking. Lady would be curled up on the sofa.

She would wee in the house when we went out (separation anxiety) and she would wee with excitement when we came back in.

Then there was t’other ‘ole…

On the few occasions when we actually got her out for a walk, she’d wait until she was directly in front of a family having a picnic and then she would turn her back on them and take a dump. She would not shift until the deed was done. The times I’ve heard ‘EWWWW! what’s that doggy doing mummmay?’.

‘Don’t look darling, some people have no shame!’

I’d apologise profusely as I cleaned up after her…(not that we’d actually done anything wrong). What can I say? The bitch liked an audience!

She woofed and snarled at any dog, (or person), who came within 50 miles of me, (or the boys). She trashed cupboard doors, TV remotes, Christmas trees, cushions, shoes, books, front doors, carpets and wallpaper.

She trawled bins, crapped on carpets, scoffed cream cakes, (from off the table), vomited in shoes, peed on the other dogs, (regularly), stole their food, (regularly), howled when left alone longer than two minutes and was a general nuisance.

And she hated the vet!

And the car!

I’m not joking she was that bad. Most people wouldn’t have put up with her. Maybe she would have been passed from pillar to post or worse. But fate threw us together because somebody up there knew that I’d never give up on her. She was damaged by the trauma of her abandonment and as a consequence the world overwhelmed her and I understood that.


We had her spayed after we found a scruffy terrier attempting to ‘give her one’ in the street. She’d got out through the fencing one day after a particularly windy night. That was the first and only time that she ever ventured out on her own.

Despite all these problems, I loved her. I really loved her. The children came along and she accepted them. More than that she protected them, (and us). I’m convinced that the fearless little bugga would have given her life to protect us.

She would fall asleep on my lap in the day and at my feet at night.

I loved nothing more than to bury my face in her fur and breathe her in. She smelt like biscuits but in a nice way. Whenever I was upset, she would nuzzle me and lick my face. Some people say that dogs are not capable of empathy but I disagree. That little dog knew when I needed comfort.

I watched the transition from juvenile to adolescent and from adult to geriatric.

Age faded her face from brown to white and her beautiful chocolaty eyes became opaque. In the last few years she slept most of the time. She didn’t like to be touched and towards the end, I had to pick her up wearing a pair of cricket gloves in order to take her up the garden because otherwise she’d pee where she lay. She was on medication but the vet said that she wasn’t in pain, she was just elderly. But sometimes we heard her crying and we’d find her trapped behind the fridge or outside behind the bushes. It was becoming more and more obvious that she was no longer firing on all cylinders…

I’d convince myself that it was time for her to go to the vets and then she’d have a good day, as if to say, ‘Not yet, Mum, there’s life in me yet’.

Then one day I found her collapsed on the floor and my heart sank…

We took her to the vets and for the first time ever she didn’t fight. The vet sounded her heart and advised that euthanasia would be the kindest thing for her.

I said goodbye to my old friend with tears streaming down my face. I told her that I loved her and held her tightly, breathing in her familiar smell for the last time, then I whispered in her ear ‘Thanks for choosing me’.

I didn’t think of it as ending her life…I thought of it as the last act of love that I could ever do for her and with that she closed her eyes and made her way to Rainbow Bridge

I’m glad that I found the courage to hold her and see it through to the end. It remains, to this day, one of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to do..

In my wardrobe, there is a small wooden box. The box contains her ashes and it’s my wish that it will go in with me when it’s my time to go. I know I’ll see my little girl again. I know she’s waiting for me.

I don’t think I’ll ever find another dog quite like her.

She was unique. A one off – my four-legged soul mate.

“A person can learn a lot from a dog, even a loopy one like ours. Marley taught me about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. He taught me to appreciate the simple things-a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight. And as he grew old and achy, he taught me about optimism in the face of adversity. Mostly, he taught me about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.” ~ Josh Grogan, Marley and Me: Life and Love with the Worlds Worst Dog.

Sweet Charity


Hello, my name is Mummyshambles, and I’m a chazzerholic.

In case you were wondering chazzer is slang for a charity shop.

I caught the charity shop bug from my MIL. She was a most awesome lady who is yet to feature on this blog.

One day, MIL (mum) bought me a maternity dress from a charity shop in town. I was 17 and had never worn second hand clothes from anyone I didn’t know. I didn’t like the idea of wearing something if I didn’t know where it had come from. I must have looked a bit dubious because mum gave me a jab on the arm (she didn’t know her own strength) and said in her broad Stokie accent, ‘Dunna worry duck, ave givvit a wash!’

We didn’t have a lot of money and what money we did have I liked to spend on the lads. As you do.

My idea of a charity shop was the stereotypical dumping ground that smelt of moth balls and cat pee. But the charity shop has evolved from dusty establishments manned by the likes of Edna (aged 103) and her Woodbines to high street boutiques with rails of colour coordinated clothes and electronic tills. Most of them take cards now. Though the technology of the card machine is clearly the nemesis of some of the older volunteers…

To be fair, the menopause and technology can be iffy. It’s all down to malfunctioning hormones y’know.

I remember one flushed-faced lady charging me £500 pounds for a £5.00 jumper. I said, ‘I only want to buy the jumper, m’dear – not the shop!’

She was practically giving me a bollocking, ‘If you’d have paid cash, it wouldn’t have happened!’

After a few frenzied jabs at the screen, she went to get the supervisor who was on a fag break outside. The supervisor was none too happy because half a fag was now smouldering away on the pavement but within seconds it was sorted and a bag was unceremoniously thrust into my hand – closely followed by the receipt.

I even converted Ma to chazzering. Doubtful at first, she soon came round to the idea, realising that she could pay a quarter of what she normally would for her Marks & Sparks tops and have loads left over for fags and gin.

Did you know?

The earliest charity shop opened in Wolverhampton in 1899.

The first Red Cross shop opened in Bond street, London in 1941 and the condition of the shop licence by the Board of Trade was that all goods offered for sale were gifts.

The first Oxfam opened in 1947.

There, I have educated you. You’re welcome.

In the 25 years that I have been chazzering, I have had many compliments on my clothes. Though some people are taken aback at the word ‘charity’.

‘Oh I like your top, Mummyshambles…where did you get it from?’

‘Well actually, it was from charity shop!’

Two eyebrows raise up like a couple of startled slugs.


Charity shops aren’t for everybody but as far as I’m concerned, there is no more risk to buying a top from a charity shop, than trying on a top in a high street store. You try it on, take it home and wash it on as warm a wash as the garment allows. No worries.

Granted, someone will occasionally barrel in worse for wear on White Lightning and in need of a bath but they’re unlikely to rip that Betty Jackson top from out of your hands. They’ll be after something functional that will keep the cold out. Poor sods.

Chazzering means that I can indulge in some retail therapy without breaking the bank. Not only that but I am helping others. OH no longer goes a whiter shade of pale when I say I’m going clothes shopping because he now knows that I’m cheap. *coughs* However, shopping cheap doesn’t mean looking cheap. Some people presume that buying clothes from a charity shop means compromising on style. Not so.

Of course, the serious chazzerholic shops in posh areas like Wilmslow. This is hardcore chazzering. It takes stamina to be able to walk through Wilmslow without stopping to pathetically lick the shop windows to get a better view at what you’ll never be able to buy without selling a kidney. Being a stones throw away from the Manchester United ground, it’s rife with WAGs. No self respecting WAG would be seen dead in the same outfit twice. I mean, the SHAME of being seen in the same outfit TWICE!!

OH M GEEEEEEEE!!*shocked face*

I wonder if Mrs Rooney has dumped the odd bag or two on the doorstep on her way to the chippy?

I can also indulge my love of all things vintage. I’m practically vintage myself, I’m that old that I have to scroll for my year of birth! Many charity shops are cottoning onto the fact that vintage is very much in demand. Not only vintage clothes, but bric-a-brac as well. What was classed as junk not so long ago is now sought after. Even 70′s stuff is popular. Personally, I think 70′s style is ‘orrible. I was there. *shudders*

A few of my bargain buys.

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Dorothy Perkins ~ Under a Fiver

This is a great little top to wear with leggings (a girl can NEVER have too much lycra on her arse). A cardi is essential because capped sleeves and bingo wings are a no-no.

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Topshop ~Under a fiver

Another nice top to wear with the leggings. There’s a theme here… Cardi required. See above.

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Morgan ~ £4.99 

LOVED this dress at first sight. It’s all floaty and Stevie Nicks-stylee. Looks shite on the hanger, looks FAB on! More importantly it is designed to hide excess midriffage and bingo-wings. No cardi required.

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Tried a few recipes already. Bargain! If only I could cook like Jamie…

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£1.25 ish

I swooped on this book like a seagull on a chip. 10 years younger? I’m ‘aving some of that! I just hope it doesn’t involve eating a lot of All Bran…

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And finally, this lovely vintage looking make up bag. Our lurcher is more vintage than the bag but it looks nice on my dressing table and I only paid 50 pence for it. Boom!

Sweet Charity will be a regular slot on the blog so I can show off me baaaaaaaargains. Who knows, I might inspire someone to go and have a rummage themselves.

Charity begins at home, but should not end there.

Oxfam Image Credit