The Perplexed Aunty's comeback...

 Oh, I haven’t done one of these in a while! 

The other day I was asked if the “perplexed Aunty” series would ever make a comeback. It ended right with having to endure a child’s play area and a fart mid play tunnel. There was no escaping that one, and it seemed a pretty apt moment to just stop. No one needs to imagine what a one year olds fart in a play tunnel smells like. 

Alas, I’m back. The perplexed Aunty that’s aged 20 odd years in just 4. For someone that used to not really like kids that much, I’ve been snotted on and used as a walking tissue more time than you can say tissue in a minute. 


So where are we now. Well the little delight is 4. FOUR. I know. Time really does go so quickly when you’re having fun. Incase you’re wondering what the little sweet one year old grew up to be like, I’ll give you an idea. 


Last month when I babysat, I politely asked her to stop picking her nose. You know, I even said please and bribed her with something much tastier than a little pinky that had just been half way to almost poking her brains out. I offered ice cream - Anything! I thought I was onto a winner actually when instantly she shot her finger out her nose and turned around to look at me. Until I saw it. The sass! 


With a tut she said “ugh I just knew you’d say that” - dumbfounded, shocked, and with part of me dancing inside thinking “yeah this kids 100% related to me” (the sass part, not the poking at my brains) - I think I was frozen in my tracks and could do nothing other than laugh. Where on earth did that sass come from? Oh yeah she’s related to me and my sister. Not to mention her dad… 


Anyway, so when she’s not poking at her brains to check they’re there, she is actually the sweetest. She adores animals (yessss cheap vets bills for me when she becomes a vet), makes me laugh more than any other human could, and says the cutest things. She's even got her own hashtag on Instagram now - look up #PerplexedAunty 


After a real shitty time over the last 12 months, when all I’ve wanted is a cuddle, she’s been the only one to recognise it, and has climbed onto my knee and in her cutest little voice said: “I love you Aunty Siân”. I’m not completely dumb to the fact she absolutely knows these simple five words said in a voice that imitates Oliver Twist gets her EXACTLY whatever toy she wants, but still...its cute. 


In fact she’ll do anything for a toy. When my sister was trying to get her to use the toilet to go for a poo (bear with the grossness….), we’d had a long drawn out process for weeks about her being scared to poo on the toilet. Weeks! Until..


One night I FaceTimed her and said if she poo’d on the toilet, I’d buy her a present, thinking I had weeks ahead before I needed to scroll Amazons selection and off I went to sleep, blissfully completely unaware Annie was plotting her next Peppa Pig collection. 


The next day I woke up to a video that said something along the lines of “I did a poo on the toilet. Buy my a present aunt Siân?” 

Eh, was I dreaming? According to my sister I was absolutely not. Annie had taken my offer and taken advantage by doing her first poo on the toilet that very morning - in return for a present. How naive could I be?!


So other-than becoming Amazons best prime customer, what have we been doing over the last 4 years?


Well I can safely promise I know ALL the words to Baby Shark, all the actions to Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, and I can reel off all the Johnny songs from Cocomelon like you reel off Busted's, The Year 3000 on a night out. 


We've all got more "Art" in our houses than Van Gogh had. All accompanied with a little "Annie" signature at the bottom. We've cried as she started her first day of Nursery and complained "She looks too small to be there!!" as she ran off not even glancing back. 


We've been coughed on, caught various bugs the little delight has bought home from her friends, and heard the words "I need a poo" far too many times in the most inconvenient places. 


This year for her birthday, because she was going to be FOUR after all, we decided it would be good to invite another 14 unruly children, all equally as needy as ours, to soft play. 


I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to see if she had any friends with single dads, but that idea was soon shot out the window when it was announced "Aunty Sian is playing too and will take anyone down the slide that is scared." Of course ALL her friends wanted a go didn't they...


Take it from me, trying to explain to a 3-year-old that your body just WONT fit through a roller thing in the play area, but theirs will and they can safely go through, is like trying to explain to your best friend that she will not be heartbroken for ever - there's a way forward. The wails are quite similar really....


"I cannnttttttttt do ittttt....wah wah wah...."


I've lost count over the last four years of how many times I've seen stomped feet, with the cries "I cannttttttttt" . In fact, on her birthday, whilst trying to do my best impression of the hot single Aunty totally rocking this, I was bought back down to earth with a bump whilst in the park and Annie point blank refused to ride her brand new bike and demanded "Aunty Sian have a go..."


Unable to refuse, I hopped on whilst all the yummy mummies looked on, shaking their perfect little hair do's whilst blinking through their fake eyelashes looking in disgust at me. 


Annie found it hilarious and for the next 20 minutes I pretended I just LOVE her bike, and she REALLY should have a go instead of me! 


I guess truthfully, there is absolutely no one else I would be silly for, or allow to stick stickers all over my face just for a giggle. Or wipe their nose on my sleeve. Only her. 

The last four years have been far better than I ever imagined. She's been the bestest little niece I could've asked for, the one person to keep on telling me she's loved me when I've felt like the least loveable person on the planet, and kept me smiling even on one of my darkest days. Equally, she's the only person that I can argue with and swear blind I'm right, but by 10 minutes in be made to question if I was ever right and If I ever know what I'm talking about...










Let's hope the next four years are equally as crazy and she continues to be the only person on the planet that thinks her Aunt Sian is cool....long may it last!!  

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Feeling nostalgic...

I was chatting to an old horsey friend last week and we spent a while reminiscing about our fond memories of growing up as horsey-mad children that would spend all day at the yard and come home covered head to toe in mud and ready for bed.

We spent ages chatting about our old trusty long Harry Hall rubber riding boots that weren't comfortable in the slightest unless you had socks on, and how the smell of hoof oil would follow us around wherever we went.

Ceaser and I - some 20 odd years ago!
We spoke about our favourite yard items from way back when, and those things we wish we had now. A fond memory of mine is getting an equine catalogue come through our letter box and spending hours upon hours trawling through it, circling everything we wanted and our ponies needed. 

I remember wanting Harry Hall everything! It was the brand everyone knew and loved and along with the words "Cottage Craft", would appear several times on my birthday and Christmas lists. If wasn't Harry Hall or Cottage Craft, it wasn't circled.

Nowadays we've lots of other great brands such as Masta, Caldene, Tottie and other various ones to add to our list, but there will always be something about trusty old Harry Hall and Cottage Craft. They remind me of hours spent in the saddle as a child, grooming my ponies to an inch of their life and having "whose pony is cleanest" competitions with my horsey-mad stable pals before tacking up and playing tag in the field upon ponies more patient than any we've met today.

It seems sad that we no longer have the catalogues we can sit and read for hours, but even as an adult I find myself on websites such as the Harry Hall one, looking for products I could need one day, or should add to my collection.

Without sounding like my grandma, the children of today don't realise how they lucky are to have such a wide variety of brands offering all sorts of equipment. When I was a child it was a girth in red, black, brown or white and that was it. Needless to say our jodhpurs came in beige, black or navy and that was about as far as our variety stretched. I remember the day I saw a pair of purple jodhpurs hanging on a tack shop rail - I think I stood there in amazement quickly noting them down on my Christmas list and telling my Grandad I "really needed them, so I could show my friends at the yard."

I often wish I could turn back time and go back just for one day.

Do you have any fond memories of back when you were a child? Share them - I'd love to read some of yours!



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The countdown for Hartpury is now on....!

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine we would get to ride at Hartpury for the Five Star Winter Championships! It still feels like a dream 

I’m beyond excited, obviously nervous about being the best I can be, and doing well - but ultimately I just want to trot down that centreline and enjoy it all, with a smile! 

Lots of prep now until the big day, and I’m hoping to get some special training down in Gloucester whilst I’m there - more on that at another time though. 

Entries are all done, camping booked, and we're almost ready! 

If anyone has any top tips on how to cope with the atmosphere (and nerves!), please let me know! 

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Back to it for 2019...

Wow, where has the time gone? It doesn't seem two minutes ago I was wrapping up for 2018 and pondering about the long winter break ahead. 

I took Ziggy out competing a couple of weeks ago for the first time since October and I’ve had him long enough to know by now that his first time out for the season is ALWAYS spooky! However Kate is always saying the spooks make him expressive so I was adamant to ride with it.

I drove to the competition freezing cold, with a headache and wondering what the heck I was doing in January going competing. I’d used a half day holiday from work for this. However, method in my madness, I wanted to get my qualifying scores for what I needed early on, so I could focus spring and summer with training. 

So for some unbeknown reason I decided to skip Prelim and start focussing on novices. So I’d entered two novices. Whilst driving I called myself a prat for doing that when I knew full well he’d be spooky!

Arrived at the venue in plenty of time, had a wander etc and then got on.
SPOOKY. arrogant!! As I got my foot in the stirrup he shot off and I’m clinging on..... I managed to hoist up and we jogged for the next 5 minutes... joy.

Finally he calmed down to start trotting and the problem with this venue is the small warm up that’s flappy. This didn’t help! So I warmed up best I could, doing some leg yields, transitions and making the best of a spooky pony! 

All of a sudden it was our turn for Novice 23. He went into the arena with his bum tucked under, whinnied, and I thought bloody hell! 

Two years ago we would’ve lost it there, but so proud of his one whinny then focussing on work. 

It actually felt quite nice. The energy I had allowed me to really ride quite deep in the seat and use my legs to guide him round, and into the corners. Felt some tension on the left rein with a bit of that nodding but a boot with the right leg sorted that! 

Medium trots I wanted to be careful not to push too much to push him into canter; felt some difference over the centreline then slowed him as it’s only “show some medium strides” - didn’t want to risk any more. 

Canters okay, medium canter Ziggy quite literally went “WAYYHAYYYYY!!” And so definitely showed a difference there!! 

Then onto novice 38, a championship novice test. Felt a bit silly for putting him in this so soon. He’s not ready, really! Lots of stuff he’s very green with at the moment. 

We lost one counter canter and I did one circle far too big but actually, I was thrilled with him. It’s a lot to ask from him but he was obedient, medium trots had some medium strides and the only struggle was left rein counter canter which is expected. 

He was so spooky today warming up though, flying everywhere, jumping as the sand hit his legs. He is a plonker at times. But if I take the positives from there I feel like I’m comping with it better. I went and spoke to the judge afterwards who remembers him from the green baby I first took into an intro class and she said the difference in him is amazing, but also how when you can see he just gets a bit hot, i ride him more now. Points from her to work on are medium trots and don’t let him go downhill. She said he’s very workman like though and his outline just doesn’t move in everything else

Absolutely thrilled and just beyond proud to have WON both his sections with 67.41% and 69.58%!! I completely didn’t expect that!!!
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Why you should take a trip to White Post Farm - The perplexed Aunty

I remember taking several trips to White Post Farm during my years growing up. The memories I have from spending endless days there holding snakes, feeding lambs and stroking ponies are very fond to me as they were spent with my grandparents who are now sadly no longer here.

You could guarantee we would visit at least once during every school holiday for several years and my Grandad and I would splash about in puddles, run to stroke the animals and talk about it for days, as my grandma looked on at us - usually wondering what mayhem we were about to cause.

I'd like to say its where my love for animals probably started, and now, with my own herd of different animals at home I often recall those precious memories.

So when last year, when I became an Aunty to Annie-May I vowed that's where we would go to spend our days getting her used to the animals and making our own memories for her to share with others later on in her life.

*

In the last few months since she's been able to walk we've visited twice already and what's great about Annie not being at school yet, it means we've visited during term time and practically had the entire farm to ourselves!

As you walk in to pay there's an option to buy some food for the animals, and at £1 a bag, its not a bad deal. My sister looked at me the first time questioning whether I'd be allowing Annie to hand the animals food. Erm of course, and so off we trotted with some two-legged, four-legged AND reindeer food - both of us quite dumb-founded that reindeers like to eat moss. Everyday's a school day...

Anyway, so as you get in, the first big decision is which way to turn! There's the bigger animals outside at grass, the duck pond, outdoor play, indoor play and then various animals inside - including the baby ones!

The first time we visited we headed over to the duck pond where Annie squealed and proceeded to try and copy what noise the ducks make as we stood feeding them. Even at 1 years old, she does quite a good duck impression!

Next we headed over to the outdoor animals to look at the goats, sheep, deer, and rather large pot bellied pig! My very girly and non-outdoors type sister looked rather uncomfortable as Annie and I found a large puddle and I taught her just how fun it is to jump up and down. My sister, looking very uncomfortable at the thought of Annie getting dirty now shouts "Sian, that's her new outdoor suit, she's going to get it mucky...!" Oh dear..

We spent absolutely ages outside, feeding the various animals, walking around the fields and Annie loved having the freedom to run into the mud, squeal as she ran away from us and interact with the various animals.

My favourite place is indoors, with all the mums-to-be and baby animals. The first time we went we saw some very pregnant looking animals, and were delighted when the second time we went back, we were treated to being able to watch some very cheeky young goats! One little guy kept jumping out of his pen, so Annie and I had great delight in picking him up for a cheeky cuddle. It took some serious will-power not to smuggle him in my jacket and take him home, he was absolutely adorable and so tame.

With the animals inside being a little smaller they're more appealing to the younger children and Annie eventually grew confident enough to feed the goats by herself - not bad for a one year old. I think we spent over half an hour taking the food out the bag, one-by-one and giving the same goat bits of food. He was rather gentle with Annie and had the patience of a saint, even when she wasn't quite giving him the food quick enough!

If you want a break from the animals (you crazy people!) then there's also the option to head on into another barn for the kids to enjoy some soft play and a couple of slides. I lost count of how many times Annie and I trudged up and down the slides as she kept wanting to go again. In the same breath, I don't think I've spent an hour in soft play for a while, but she loved it!

Then when you're all feeling a little peckish and need some hot food to warm you up, there's the option of heading into their cafe which serves a good option of both hot and cold food and drinks, to suit all ages, and at reasonable prices.

After dinner, the perfect place to head to whilst your food settles is into the fish section. Annie is obsessed with watching fish and every time she sees one will shout "SSSSHHH", so this is the perfect place for her to run about and watch all the fish she wants! Beware though - there's a slightly large snake in there, so if you're afraid, don't look behind you!

Overall, White Post Farm is a great day out for all ages. I think between us, my sister and I, plus Annie all had the same amount of fun! My only regret is not buying the year pass, but I wasn't aware it existed the first time I visited. However at just £9 for an adult, its well worth it! Next time we go though, we'll all be buying the years entry pass so we can go back and forth as many times as we want.

I must say, we're all rather excited about lambing season now and getting to feed the baby lambs!

For more information visit www.whitepostfarm.co.uk - we highly recommend it!



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"Annie May, are you eating a dog biscuit?" - The perplexed Aunty

Many of you have asked me over the last couple of weeks why I haven't written another instalment of 'The Perplexed Aunty'. You can find instalment one, two, three, and four by clicking those links!

So you're probably wondering where we are now? Well, Annie May is just over a year old and looking forward to her second Christmas. Just last week I took her to see Santa and as he asked what she wanted for Christmas I shouted "A PONY!!", only for my sister to give me the biggest disapproving look and tell Santa he had better not deliver a pony. The joke will be on her when on one Christmas Day in the future, a pony does arrive. What's even funnier is that I'll never let on to my sister when its going to be.

The last year has been a whirlwind. It's quite funny how this little person has us all wrapped around her two teeny little sticky fingers.

Lets talk about my sister managing to raise a little person. Long gone are the days where we can have a phone conversation without "Annie May" being screeched in my ear, because she's up to something she shouldn't be.

Just the other day our conversation went a little like this:

Terri-ann: "For goodness sake Sian, she's eating something!"

Me: "Eh?"

Terri-ann: "I haven't given her anything, so she's found something."

Me: "Well what is it?"

Terri-ann: "Annie May, what's in your mouth? Show me whats in your mouth? Can I have some please?"

....silence...

Terri-ann: "Ffs Sian, I think she's eating dog food. Annie May are you eating a dog biscuit?"

And it turns out the dog had decided to thank Annie for all the food she shares with her, by bringing Annie a dog biscuit in from the kitchen and dropping it at her feet.

(disclaimer: Annie's normal diet isn't dog biscuits...She usually prefers Ella's Kitchen.)

Anyway, moving on. Soft play. Gosh where do I start? Ever since I've been aware of the bugs and germs soft play holds, I've been hesitant and dubious about going near them. Apparently the balls in those ball pits are full of more poo and germs than anyone cares to think about. And so I vowed I'd never set foot in one again.

That was until we ventured to White Post Farm the week before Christmas and before I knew it I found myself removing my shoes and coat and following Annie May into the germ infected child maze.

I remember how fun it was to run around these as a kid, throwing yourself into the ball pits, dodging other children and bouncing on huge bouncy balls. All was going well, and I managed to momentarily forget about wanting to get out and anti-bac my hands until two things happened.

Lets pick apart the first problem I came up against. These maze's aren't made for adults, they're designed for kids, and whilst I still boast about the fact I can fit into some kids clothes, I found myself a bit unstuck for a minute.

Remember those swirly things that look like a car wash in the middle of soft play. You know the things you basically fling your body through and then roll out of? Yeah. I met one of those. Annie stood there waiting for me to go first, not even realising the gap was so tiny, I wondered how any human fitted through it. But she wanted to go through, and it was up to me to go first.

So, my head went through, and that's when I got caught. Now, I haven't got huge boobs, and some days I sit there and think "this top would really look nice with bigger ones", but today I was thankful for my fried eggs, because as I got half way to my chest I almost got stuck and my fried eggs became pancakes. How anyone else with a normal chest size would get through there is beyond me. Amen to the eggs!

Anyway, so I'm through to the car wash roller things and after convincing Annie to stick her head through the gap, I grabbed her arms and helped her through we were on our way up to the top.

Now, second issue. We came to the tunnel. Annie thought it was hilarious to sit half way in the tunnel and each time I went to come through or grab her she'd do something to stop me and let out the biggest giggle. So we played there and all was going fine, until I remember the worst thing about soft play.

Mum's, Dad's, Aunties, Uncles....anyone that went in that tunnel after Annie, and Annie, if you're reading this on your 18th birthday, I apologise....

I wasn't prepared for what came next. There's no air gaps in tunnels, and usually they smell of cheesy feet. Today, that was not the case.

She must have done the biggest poo whilst sat in that tunnel, because one minute I went from sticking my head in and feeling fine, to then sticking my head in and nearly gagging.

Me: "Have you done a poo Annie May?"

Giggle....

Me: "Annie May, lets go down and find mummy!"

Giggle again as she snatches her hand away

Me: Whilst trying not to barf, and not breathe through my nose... "Annie May come on, lets go to mummy for a minute"

And thankfully that time I managed to grab her, and for the entire 2 minutes it took me to negotiate everything backwards, including pancake time again, I breathed through my mouth. This being an Aunty lark is merely all about multitasking!

Anyway, so that's Annie May. Full of character, full of cheekiness and has us all wrapped around her little finger we'll do anything she wants us to! The last year has been full of fun, laughter and smiles. Each time I see her she's learnt something new and has new demands. Mum very quickly taught her to say "Up!" each time she wants picking up, so all we seem to hear is "Up" whilst two sticky hands are reaching out to us. Good job she's cute!

That's all for now. Have a good Christmas!

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