Tag Archives: independent

On being right here, right now

Earlier in the week, I wrote about how sad I was that my youngest is starting nursery school. Not so much the separation – he has been in childcare for a couple of years so that I could work, so we are well used to that. No, more the fact that him starting proper nursery feels like the passing of yet another stage of our family life, and the realisation that they are all growing up faster than I can get my head around.

What’s worse, there seem to be whole chunks of their babyhoods that I just cannot remember. I know the last eight years have happened as there is photographic evidence of varying quality, but I’m extremely sketchy on the details. Whether this is a normal side effect of motherhood, or age related, or early onset marble loss, who knows, but I’ve decided to do something about it and list five things that I’m loving about my kids right here, right now, and then revisit a couple of times a year. So here goes!

One – they are good company! It is just lovely, and fascinating too, getting to know them as they develop their personalities and opinions. I love the fact that as they get bigger, our conversations are getting bigger too. It’s refreshing to realise that you’ve just spent a whole hour chatting to your kids without a single interjection of ‘please can you share nicely’, ‘don’t forget to say thank you’, ‘no, I do not want you to poke my tummy with a toy umbrella so you can see if there is a baby growing’. I used to look forward to Thursday nights because the Husband works and therefore I could get the kids to bed and I could go to bed right afterwards…now I look forward to them as a chance to have some chilled out time chatting with the big ones about anything and everything.

Two – doing things together. I need to be more alert to the opportunities for this. For example, I was getting ready to go out for a run on holiday (miracles do in fact take place, here in Wales) and my biggest boy asked if he could come along. I wanted to do a reasonable distance so it was on the tip of my tongue to say no – then I realised that he could easily manage it on his bike, so he put his helmet on and off we went – he even did us a mid-run selfie! We’re going to do this more often, and he’s also asked if he can try out running one day with me too, so who knows I might actually get a running buddy out of it!



Three – they have, very recently, started playing imaginary games together for decent periods of time. By decent, I mean a couple of hours, so enough time for me to give the house a quick once over. If I wanted to. Which I obviously never do (I’ve got LearnerMother to play with, after all). But it’s good to know that I could clean, if an emergency arose. And more than that, it’s lovely to listen to them all. (I thought I should stick that in, I mean this post is supposed to be about what I’m enjoying about my kids and I’m not sure that enjoying the fact that they leave me alone in peace and quiet is quite in the spirit of it.)

Four – I love watching them help each other. It makes me so happy when I see the big ones showing the littlest how to do something – and they are much more patient than I am! This week they have been especially lovely – the youngest does not approve at all of nursery school, but I’ve overheard several (unprompted) conversations between them where the big ones have made a real effort to reassure and encourage him. And it’s not just helping each other – they have a great memory for items on the shopping list that I’ve invariably left on the table; they can get iPlayer and Lovefilm through the Wii, AND they pick up the windfall apples for 20p a time – bargainatious exploitation it may be but I reckon can just about live with it.

Five – reading together. I know I am not supposed to say this, but this has not been a non-stop unadulterated joy. I’ve always done it, and the kids have always enjoyed it, but after the 7684th reading of the Hungry Caterpillar (yep, my kids know what they like, and they like what they know) the shine does wear off a bit. Recently however, reading to them has become a whole lot more fun – they’ve started to get into the idea of having a chapter a night of a longer book, and even the littlest will sit and listen. We recently finished Five on a Treasure Island, and I’ve just started on A Little Princess with my girl – she is absolutely entranced, not only by the story, but about the fact that she is reading a book that I loved too at her age.



So there you have it – five things I’m loving about my kids right now.

What about you? What are you loving, right here, right now, about your family?

On what’s been happening with the Cardiff Pound


Four months ago tomorrow, I wrote a blog post talking about how I had been playing with the idea of a local currency for a while, and how I wanted to take steps to get one set up here in Cardiff, to benefit local traders, local people, and in the longer term help us maintain/build our local economy. I was absolutely amazed by the interest the post generated, and excited to hear that so many people seemed supportive of the idea.

What’s happened since then? Well, not as much as I would have liked to be honest – the last few months have been horribly busy from a work point of view, and of course now I have a couple of weeks break between contracts, we are well into Summer Holiday mode – which in case anyone is reading this who doesn’t have kids, does NOT equate to ‘Summer Resting Period’.

But the Cardiff Pound idea has still been ticking over in the background, so I thought it would be useful to do a roundup of what HAS happened.

Firstly, I went and spent an afternoon with Stephen Clarke, one of the founders of the Bristol Pound. This was absolutely the best thing I could have done – Stephen talked me through the setup in Bristol, answered all the questions I had thought of plus a few more, and generally confirmed my opinion that a Cardiff Pound would bring a much needed boost to our city. He explained how the Bristol Pound works in partnership with the local Credit Union & the Council,  whilst retaining its independence as an organisation, and this seems to me to be a sensible model to follow. There’s also an opportunity to work with the Bristol Pound team on certain areas of the setup, though this is an area which we haven’t explored in detail yet.

I also went to see Lorraine, the Chief Exec of Cardiff and Vale Credit Union. It’s a busy time for the credit union – they have just completed an office move into Marland House, right in the centre of town, and they have ambitious plans to bring their (excellent) savings and loan products to many more people over the next year. Lorraine was very positive about the possibilities for partnership with a Cardiff Pound and we have agreed to continue exploring how we can work together.

There has also been a very warm response from our local Councillors – thanks in part to the press coverage of the Cardiff Pound idea, and also as a result of a Small Business drop in session in Castle Arcade, where I had the opportunity to bend people’s ears talk about the project. It seems that there is a real political will to take forward a currency for Cardiff, and Cllr Ashley Govier is organising a meeting to discuss the initiative in more detail in the near future – I’ll feed back on that after the event. I am very much hoping that discussions with the Council will result in us bringing the New Economics Foundation to Cardiff to share their considerable knowledge about local currencies and the different benefits they can bring, as well as the pitfalls to be aware of when setting one up.

Looking further ahead, I have also been trying to work out how we can make sure the Cardiff Pound becomes a currency that is present in all aspects of our local economy, and is not seen simply as a retail project. Mark Hooper, director of Indycube Ventures (which is a half million pound funding stream set up specifically to invest in local startups) came up with a fantastic solution – which is to offer a percentage of startup investment funding in Cardiff Pounds! This idea is in its early stages, but feels to me like an amazing opportunity to encourage business startups in all sectors to base themselves in Cardiff. And of course if other local funding providers were to follow suit, this could provide a massive boost for our startup scene.

What else? Well, as you’ll have seen at the top of the piece, we have a logo for the Cardiff Pound project! This is with MASSIVE thanks to Marc Thomas, Editor of Plastik Magazine and a freelance journalist. Marc designed this logo for free, as part of his commitment to do good work for charities and non-profits  – and I am really grateful to him for the time he put into this. The idea is that the logo will become the face of the project in its setup stages, before holding a city wide competition for the final design of the currency itself, once all the nuts and bolts are in place to launch. Thank you Marc!

I’ve also had help and advice from a whole bunch of people, especially Owen Derbyshire of 21 Communications, Christian of I Loves The Diff fame and Gwion Thorpe, a founding partner of the Siop y Bobl project – all of whom I hope will continue to bear with me and my somewhat scattergun approach over the next stage of the journey! And I’m really looking forward to meeting the group behind Cardiff Taffs in a couple of weeks to see how we can share knowledge and hopefully work together.

So – what’s next for the Cardiff Pound? Well, soon it’ll have a website all of its own instead of a corner of LearnerMother; and in the not too distant future, with help from Cardiff Council, an opportunity to work with the New Economics Foundation to refine our plans. The project needs to be set up as a Community Interest Company, and once that’s done then more formal partnerships can be worked out – and of course the small question of how to fund this project is still to be resolved. In the grand scheme of things it’s not a huge amount of money to find – £20K or so would probably break the back of the setup costs, however that’s assuming that everyone involved can work for free. I’m still chewing over how best to work out the money side of things, I’m sure a solution will appear somehow!

It’s fair to say that the Cardiff Pound is not moving as quickly as I would like at the moment. However, please do bear with me – everything has to be squeezed in around family and work which will necessarily mean that there are sometimes periods when things go quiet. Rest assured, the Cardiff Pound is very much alive and kicking, and in a shop near you, soon!

Thanks for reading – please do get in touch via comments or @cardiffpound – looking forward to hearing from you!





On the Cardiff Pound being in the news!

Just a very quick post – feels like I’ve hardly seen my kids this week and want to spend some quality Friday night time with them – but here’s some coverage of the Cardiff Pound from the South Wales Echo today! 

Thank you to everyone who has contacted me offering support and ideas – I have been overwhelmed by the welcome this idea has received. I’ll be in touch very shortly!