4 handy commuter tips for BritMums

London Underground Sign

On the best days, commuting in London is like a bit of an assault course. On the worst days it’s like a full on triathlon. Those that regularly commute in and out of the city will know what I mean when I say that you need to be nimble and quick on your feet. So with that in mind I thought I would pass on a few of my commuting tips and tricks in case it’s useful for any of my fellow bloggers travelling through the city to BritMums Live this Friday. Follow my 4 tips and you might just make it through the city without hardly breaking a sweat: 1. Always have your pass in the most accessible place in your bag or jacket so that you can grab it just before you get to the barriers.  Definitely load up an Oyster or use a contactless card for your trip. Why fumble with a ticket when you can swipe and go without breaking your stride. Stopping and standing in front of the barriers to rummage through your bag for your ticket is like sacrilege to the everyday commuter. Don’t do it. Just don’t. 2. Walk with purpose and conviction, never breaking your stride and never EVER making eye contact with anyone. If you walk straight on and without looking at anyone except where you are trying to get to, you’ll find that people will naturally move out of your way. The moment you make eye contact with someone you’ll find yourself bumping into people or doing a waltz in the middle of the station. I don’t know why this works but it does, take my word for it. 3. A basic one but nevertheless a good one to remind people of and clarify. Escalator rules. The right hand side is for standing, and when I say standing I mean one person per step, not side by side so you can have a conversation with your new blogging bestie. Commuters in London won’t think twice about asking you to move out of the way, whilst huffing and puffing and making a big fuss about you not understanding the unwritten rules. There’s nothing more that will kill your blogging conference buzz than a rude commuter so get it right. The left is for walking, and when I say walking I actually mean almost running. The left side of the escalators is pretty much a mini workout for all of us commuters stuck in an office all day. The fact that it is moving just adds a level of intensity to our brief albeit satisfying workout, so make sure your up for a short, sharp brisk workout if you’re going to enter the fast lane. 4. Actually getting onto the tube is a whole other ball game. First of all there’s the complex queuing/scrum system on the platform, which depending on which tube station you are in, you either queue either side of the doors (a la jubilee line) or spread out along the platform where you have to take your best guess on where the tube doors will stop, elbowing your way (ahem) I mean edging your way closer to the doors once the train arrives. You can tell who the regular commuters are, they’ll be the one confidently pitched on the platform in what seems to be a random spot opposite a poster. You could pick a commuter and stand behind them, but for those that want to get ahead, and not look like they are tailing a random stranger, there is an app (Tube Exits) that tells you exactly where the tube doors are on every London tube station platform. Pure genius! Once you’ve finally managed to elbow your way onto the tube, get off at precisely the right place on the platform, out of the barriers with a quick swipe and out of the station without looking at anyone, you should find yourself safetly at BritMums Live just in time for that all important morning coffee! Are you going to BritMums this year? What are your best commuter tips? Share them all here!

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#MissingType

Some of you like me, may have noticed over the last week or two, that the NHS has a massive blood drive campaign on called #MissingType.The campaign caught my eye not Just because of its rather witty marketing, but because of the compelling message behind it and because of a very recent, very personal and moving first hand experience.

A few weeks ago my father almost died. Quite suddenly, but not completely unexpectedly. It was very “touch and go” as the doctor put it, and if it wasn’t for two life saving blood transfusions that he received,  I’m not sure he would still be here with us today. That experience gave me a real appreciation not only of the NHS, but of the men and women who selflessly donate blood. That situation could have ended very differently if the blood that he needed there and then was not available. Worst still, if the specific blood type he needed was not available. So if something as small as me donating blood can help prevent that being a possibility for someone else then I feel I have a responsibility to give blood and give back, just as someone else did so that my father could live. The decision to give blood feels like a very personal one, and so I would never want to make anyone reading this feel like they should if it is something they are uncomfortable with. But I would hope that anyone reading this that hasn’t considered or thought about giving blood before, or has but like me just never had the impetus to actually go ahead and do it, reads this and is encouraged and compelled by the difference that they can personally make to the life of someone else. 

For me personally, having my father go through that experience made me realise that it could have just as easily been any other family member, friend or myself in that very vulnerable and scary position. So yesterday evening I decided to finally register as a blood donor and booked myself in at my nearest donation centre. It was very quick and easy to do, and there are plenty of places, dates and times you can go to give blood. For anyone still undecided, here are a few hard hitting stats from the Give Blood website:

1. Only 4% of adults are donors

2. Each blood donation can help as many as 3 people 

3. 100 donations equates to 47 litres of blood

4. B blood is rare. Only 2% of the population has type B blood

5. Only 9% of donors live in greater London

6. 8% of donors are donating for the first time 

If you would like to register or find out more, go to the Give Blood website or check out the hashtag #MissingType or #giveblood on Twitter for more information. 

25 things you’ll find yourself saying to a toddler all the time

I loved reading @ladyemsy post “Questions I Often Ask Myself Now That I’m A Mum” over at Tea Lady Mumbles earlier in the week so I thought I’d write a similar list. I tried to write a list of questions, but I got stuck at 8 and they were fairly droll and uninteresting – even I was bored reading them *yawn*. But I caught myself this weekend repeating the same phrases to my 23 month little lady over and over again so I decided to write about them and I found that once I started the phrases just rolled out. I can’t quite believe that I actually have 25 key phrases that have become a part of my daily vocabulary since I became a mum, but here they are;

1. Can you listen please

2. You’re not listening

3. Be careful!

4. No touching

5. Don’t put that in your mouth

6. Can you put it back please

7. Have some water

8. Have you done a wee/poo?

9. Eat your food, don’t play with it!

10. You can’t have cereal/ice cream (select inappropriate food) for breakfast/lunch/dinner (select inappropriate time)

11. Stop picking your nose!

12. Let’s wipe your hands/face

13. You don’t need that dummy!

14. How do you ask nicely?

15.  What do you say? (after being given something)

16. What did you say? (try to translate completely unintelligible words)

17. You have to share

18. Shall we go and find daddy?

19. Come here please

20. What are you doing?

21. Stop crying

22. It’s ok

23. Clever girl

24. You look beautiful

25. I love you

I’ve found that the vocabulary that I use with the little lady has changed over time as she has grown and become more independent. However I’m sure that most parents of toddlers will be familiar with and use most of these from time to time, if not most of the time!

What phrases you find yourself using ALL the time?

Drop offs and pick ups 

Cars

This morning as I dropped the little lady off to nursery, I couldn’t help but smile knowingly at one of the other mums looking flustered coming up the stairs with her son in one arm, and his bag, jacket and other toddler paraphernalia in the other as I overheard her saying to him “Come on, you’re going to be ok. Look there’s everybody!!”. I wasn’t sure whether her forced enthusiasm was for her benefit or his. He looked as cool as a cucumber. If anything she was the one that was looking slightly distressed by their morning experience. However, any parent will know that looks can be deceiving and for all I know he could have been about to have a major meltdown (incident 3) the moment they stepped in that classroom door. I didn’t stick around to see. I managed to drop off my little person this morning without any clingy koala bear moments (incident 1) or tears (incident 2) and as any parent with a child in nursery will know, once you’ve dropped them off in their room you don’t look back, you saunter as quickly as you can so that they don’t pick up on any signs of weakness and try to pull an incident 1, 2 or 3 on you.

As I ran down the stairs and towards the door I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself thinking about how similar our experiences as parents are, and of some of the times that the little lady has blindsided me with one of these incidental delights during the morning drop off. So I thought I’d share some forewarning for the parents who have yet to experience one of these, or some laughs for those that have. Here’s typically how they go;

An Incident 1 Scenario AKA The Clingy Koala Bear: You dare to break routine for a lovely family holiday/break/day off (fill in the blank) and attempt to return to said routine like nothing has happened or changed, but your little prince or princess didn’t get the memo. Routine is king to these little people and they may have just assumed that spending all day with mummy and/or daddy was the new routine. Cue one clingy koala bear when you try to drop them off at nursery on day one post your holiday. As you attempt to routinely hand them over to their key worker or the nearest staff member, you find that they are suddenly glued to you like a limpet, firmly refusing to let go and genuinely confused at why you are both there in the first place. After much placating, promises to pick them up after work along with your choice of bribe, the staff manage to finally peel them off of you.

An Incident 2 Scenario AKA The Tears: They usually come out of nowhere, all of a sudden and without warning. One moment everything is fine and the morning routine appears to be going to plan, but the moment you hand them over and attempt to leave they start to cry for no real or apparent reason. Some of us parents attempt to stay and try to calm them down and figure out what is wrong. Others hot foot it leaving the poor bewildered staff to deal with the incident. However in the end the result is the same. Whether you stay or go they will cry until they are ready to stop, or unless you take them home, and that’s not really an option now, is it.

An Incident 3 Scenario AKA The Major Meltdown: Both a parent and key workers worst nightmare. Major meltdown incidents are explosive and uncontrollable and have the power to set off all the other children. Similar to incident 2, they seem to come from nowhere and without warning but with much more ferocity. I have seen other toddlers self destruct all of a sudden like little grenades, with full on, on the supermarket floor type tantrums. They are destructive and distracting and both parents and staff know that these are dangerous moments for all involved. The situation must be handled swiftly and expertly before the others all realise what is going on and join in. I have often watched the little lady assessing the situation, at which point distraction (think high-pitched, over enthusiastic commentary about what a great day she is going to have), handover and a sharp exit are key.

However, im glad to say that by pick up time all seems to be forgotten by all parties. That is, until tomorrow..

If you have any of your own tongue in check drop off or pick up moments then share them here. It’s always reassuring to hear it isn’t just you, and at the same time have a giggle!

photo credit: N05/2934218773″>Rich boys have many toys via photopin (license)