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May 2011

The curse of a tall husband

The curse of a tall husband

by Clare Mansell

Yesterday we spent Bank Holiday Monday in Aberdeen on a quest to purchase a stroller for the impending August arrival. As I have mentioned in an earlier post, my plan was to buy something cheap and compact to compliment the great hulk of metal that is the vintage Silver Cross pram.

My apathy towards shopping is such that I would have been quite happy to read a few reviews, make the purchase online and live with the consequences, but I am married to a man who is 6ft 4in and living in a world where baby equipment is on the whole, designed for people nearly a foot shorter, so we were going to need to inspect our options in the flesh.

We set off for the Aberdeen branch of John Lewis with two very different agendas for our stroller. Mine could roughly be summed up as (1) Cheap (2) Compact (3) In stock. Whilst husband’s read (1) High handlebars (2) Not easy to kick (3) Nice tyres.

We arrived at the shop not entirely unprepared. I had made the husband do his own research, and I had done a recce of the John Lewis store in Southampton, where they had narrowed our choices to two very nice sub-£250 strollers.

Presenting our dilemma to the Scottish shop assistant, she brought out these same two pushchairs for consideration. I was delighted, in theory all I had to do was wait while husband pushed them round the store, made his choice, and we could be out of the department in 20 minutes.

First up for a test drive was the Maclaren Techno XT, whose handles extended by about 4 inches. He surveyed its wheels suspiciously before declaring it unsuitable for walks in the wood, but nonetheless obligingly set off on a circuit of the department. A couple of minutes later the Maclaren returned to its space on the shop floor, its wheels now bearing the scars of repeated contact with husband’s shoes.We shifted our focus to the second stroller…

Option two was the Baby Jogger. Three wheeled, with proper off-roading tyres and a really nifty one-handed folding mechanism. Husband looked impressed and declared the stroller’s designer “a genius”. He set off again around the department, and the assistant and I waited with baited breath, but his face when he returned rapidly deflated my optimism. Once again it was getting in the way when he walked, but he hadn’t entirely written it off.

He asked the assistant how to lay the seat flat. She obligingly sprung into action releasing a fabric cord which projected the top of the seat a foot backwards towards husband’s knees. He looked worried. “How often do babies lie flat?” he asked. “When they’re sleeping!” I said hopefully. Assistant and I exchanged looks. “Most of the time when they are young.” She replied more honestly.

Absorbing this, husband took off again on a more determined lap of the shop floor, now rhythmically pummeling the area where the baby’s head would be with his knees. It was clear, this wasn’t going to work…

Then slowly and almost imperceptibly the shop assistant moved in, leading husband away from the compact strollers and towards designer pram territory. Briefly I saw his hand linger on the handles of the £800 Bugaboo, as he pushed it backwards and forwards in its parking space. I held my breath, but before I could squeal “It’s the price of a car!” he moved on.

Eventually they stopped at an area of the shop floor reserved for mid-price baby carriages, a big leap from our Maclaren stroller, but distant cousins of their designer friends. From the melee of hoods and wheels the shop assistant pulled out a Quinny Buzz 3. Out of the clutter I could see now a minimalistic baby seat perched on top of a tri-wheeled metal frame, with excellent ground clearance and a luxurious handlebar extension. With obvious glee, husband eased it out to its maximum height. Like Little Red Riding Hood Goldilocks (thanks sis!), this third option was just right.

I looked back at the Baby Jogger, so neat, so cheap, so compact, and realised it was designed perfectly for my life, but not for ours. Best laid plans were crumbling…

An hour later we left the store, the new owners of a stroller the wrong side of the practical and cheap divide, a car seat (discounted by 40%) some monstrous car seat base, and a bottle warmer. Somewhere along the way our intended spend had doubled and the first shock to the system of parenthood was complete.

PS – A reminder the URL of this blog will be changing tomorrow to mansellsonthemove.blogspot.com. If you are a follower you don’t need to do anything, Blogger will keep track of the new address for you automatically, but if you have it bookmarked, please update your details.

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The first week

The first week

by Clare Mansell
My first full week in Scotland is already complete! As with all postings our new home has come complete with its own set of demands on our pockets and at times it has felt impossible to leave the house without spending a minimum of a couple of hundred pounds.
Our shopping list this week has included a fridge/freezer, a tumble drier, 16 lampshades, three boxes of picture hooks, a bathroom cabinet, shelving for the garage, a ladder, covers for the garden furniture, a kitchen bin, stocking a larder again from scratch, and a hundred small items I’d already struggle to name.
No two military quarters are the same, or come equipped with the same stuff, so what is supplied with one, is an expense waiting to happen in the next. I’m sure after about 20 years we’ll have everything we could possibly need, but at the moment each move still comes with a few nasty surprises!
It’s a good job there have been a few cheap thrills this week too! Like signing up to our lovely local library which is right on the edge of a park, and hires CDs and DVDs as well as books, and discovering miles of good dog walks through the picturesque Quarrel Wood which is minutes from our house. One of the great perks of Scotland in the summer is the longer than average days. At the moment it gets dark nearly an hour later here than on the south coast, so we’ve been having some lovely evening walks and very late suppers!
On Monday Jim starts his new job, and though I haven’t quite got my head round it, I won’t be joining him! My maternity leave starts at the end of the month and I’ve used my annual leave to bridge the gap between leaving Cyprus and its start, so until August I am a lady of leisure with the beautiful Scottish countryside to explore and plenty of crafting projects to keep me busy – not too much of a hardship I’m hoping!
PS – If you are interested to see our house, I am opening up the permission on my Flickr set over the weekend so anyone can view, but will restrict it to friends and family again on Monday. Feel free to have a peak…
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Settling in to Scotland…

Settling in to Scotland…

by Clare Mansell
After two months in limbo, we have finally all arrived in Scotland! 
Jim and the dogs drove up arriving midweek and I flew up on Friday. I had deliberately booked a flight which arrived mid-afternoon so that I would get my first glimpse of our new house in daylight, but Gatwick airport had other plans! I arrived at midday for my 2pm flight, and to cut a VERY long story short, we eventually took off at 9pm after a flight cancellation, several delays and armed police boarding the aircraft to remove drunken passengers!
So my first glimpse of the house was actually through very tired eyes at midnight! 
On the journey from Aberdeen airport to the house, I kept reminding myself not to make judgments about our new home as it wouldn’t look its best with packing boxes and bare bulbs, BUT despite this I had only good first impressions.
Our new home has everything our old house in Cyprus lacked… a modern kitchen, a garden full of grass, an en suite bathroom, neutral coloured carpets and best of all no Cyprus dust! Even the washing machine and dishwasher work better now they are plumbed into modern plumbing.
We are spending this week unpacking boxes and exploring the local area. This morning we visited Lossiemouth beach which is about 5 miles from us (photo above and below) and the dogs absolutely loved it… I wonder what goes through a little Beagle’s mind, when just a fortnight ago all she had ever known was Cyprus…

Little dog, big beach

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