Sandelson Cartoons

Easter Hols 2014 10


EasterAldiLidldarker9 042trip1 Easter Hols 2014

EasterAldiLidldarker9 043 Easter Hols 2014

EasterAldiLidldarker9 044 Easter Hols 2014

What are WE doing in the Easter Holidays this year?

Ha Ha! If ONLY we were going skiing. Well actually maybe not. I love the idea of us all flying off to the Alps and shwooshing elegantly down snowy pistes in the bright Spring air, then gazing out of a chalet window over a crisp mountain landscape as we cradle a soup bowl sized hot chocolate, and after the kids have gone to bed, an even bigger soup bowl sized mulled wine.

Even now I look at the ski brochures with pictures of attractive families with flowing hair, goggles and brightly coloured outfits, before forgetting how long it takes to wrestle a child out of its boots and many layers to do a poo, and how to stop it eating yellow snow “No, I don’t think it’s Maple Syrup, darling”.

Wind back the film to me aged 9 flying back to the UK with two friends after an expensive version of a dump-the-kids holiday in Switzerland. We all had ‘UNACCOMPANIED MINOR’ notices around our necks. My 11 year old sister wasn’t with us.

On the last day, we had been skiing down a steep, icy Mont Blanc slope (which should have been closed to all but expert skiers), when my sister skidded on the ice and fell. Very badly. Her leg was fractured in three places but I don’t remember her screaming. Or the paramedics’ stretcher they put her on to slip-slide her off the mountain.

I know the brain can sometimes shut down after a trauma, and I have no recollection of the accident itself or getting back to the hostel, but I do have a VERY clear memory of the huge box of Lindt chocolates that were next to her hospital bed the next morning, and wondered how many could I get away with eating.

Having fallen on harder times if not harder surfaces, (not to mention dodgy knees from too much cross-country Canadian skiing in my husband’s case) we don’t go on ski holidays now, but instead have had a great time visiting friends in Scotland over the last week. Some of the other benefits have been:

1. Not being asphyxiated by Saharan air pollution down south

2. Getting to visit the fantastic though oxymoronic 4th International Hawick Film Festival. Even if you go next year and don’t get to see one of the 70 odd films, do visit The Damascus Drum. It’s a cafe/bookshop/restaurant in a little street just behind the Arts Centre where all the action takes place. It’s a real hidden treasure and the lovely staff don’t even mind if you’re English.

3. Gaining in-depth knowledge of nearly every service station on the M6 due to pee stops, snack stops and horrendously long traffic jams. A chance to hear our (my) favourite music for once, though suspect Johnny Cash’s Greatest Hits was repeated once too often, and nearly ended with one of us threatening to get out and walk (not me).

If you can’t stand car journeys though, make an exception for the wonderful Award Winning Tebay Services on both sides of the M6 motorway between J38 and J39. They have delicious meals supplied and made by local organic farmers and an inviting dining space. I wish I did paid reviews because then they might bung us some Thai chicken curries and lamb stews on our next visit!

They also have lots of wildlife including a duck pond overlooking fabulous Cumbrian mountain views. In short, if you ever find yourself pining for a skiing holiday you can’t afford, just nip up the M6 and you’re almost there. And the chances are you won’t be coming home in Plaster of Paris with half a box of chocolates.

Happy Easter!

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If you’ve enjoyed this post and others I’ve written and drawn, please vote for me in the BiB Awards by clicking on the badge over on the right or here. Thank you and please come and visit if you’re not too busy eating Easter Eggs. 


Personality Quiz 24



Quiz – Which type of Mum are you?



A.   Your child brings home a work assignment from school. Do you:

  1. Make them do it as soon as they walk through the door?
  2. Never look to see if anything is brought home
  3. Make sure Nanny is supervising the homework
  4. What homework? You’re at a conference 2,000 miles away
  5. Life’s too short for homework
  6. Tell them you were doing this sort of thing when you were much younger than them
  7. Try to stop one of the other children making paper airplanes out of it
  8. Write note to teacher saying that child is too busy training for the under-12s Triathlon

B.   Your child come home and tells you they are being bullied at school. Do you:

  1. Arrange to meet the bully’s parents and suggest their child has counselling
  2. Shave your bloke’s head, cover him in tattoos then send him over to bully’s house to ‘talk’ to them
  3. Give your child a smartphone so they can call Childline when they want to
  4. Ignore it: you’re far too busy and they’re probably exaggerating
  5. Chase the perpetrators down the street on your mobility scooter
  6. Think it might toughen your child up
  7. Try and remember the next morning which of your children is being bullied
  8. Enrol them in Taekwon-Do, Karate and kick-boxing classes

C.   School sports day starts at 9am on Saturday morning in the rain. Do you:

  1. Find the children most likely to beat yours. Slip them a glass of Coke (strongly laced with rum) before the races start
  2. Write a sick note. No one in the family gets up on Saturday morning
  3. Send Nanny along. Pay her extra to cheer on your child
  4. Send your personal trainer along to video anything your child looks like winning
  5. Wear the Olympic Bronze medal for archery you won at the London Olympics (1944)
  6. Gatecrash the children’s races and reach the finishing line first
  7. Keep child at home: competitive sport isn’t good for their self confidence
  8. Get the child there by 7am to warm up and practice first

D.  You take your child to school:

  1. In the car early to make sure you get a parking space
  2. On the bus even though the school is only 5 minutes walk away
  3. That’s Nanny’s job unless you have a hair appointment and can drop-off en route
  4. Not sure where the school is so the taxi collects them
  5. In the trailer attached to the mobility scooter
  6. By bike. You race them all the way
  7. On your tagalong
  8. On foot. Jogging non-stop, even at the traffic lights

E.   You dress your children in:

  1. Boden
  2. Primark, BHS
  3. Burberry, Ralph Lauren, The White Company
  4. D&G, Paul Smith Junior, Petit Bateau
  5. BHS and hand-knitted woollen sweaters
  6. Osh Kosh, Zara, Stella McCartney
  7. Oxfam, Blue Cross, Scope, Car Boot Sales
  8. Anything from JD Sports

F.   Your Summer Holiday is usually:

  1. An educational tour of a European city
  2. Two weeks in Magaluf
  3. Your villa in Tuscany, then the Bahamas
  4. Holiday? What Holiday?
  5. Womad or Camp Bestival
  6. Dressing up as a child and entering the International Maths Olympiad
  7. A wet week camping in Wales or Cornwall
  8. Training for the Great North Run and the Five Peaks Challenge


Mostly 1 –  you are Mission Mum
Mostly 2 –  you are Pyjama Ma
Mostly 3 –  you are Plummy Mummy
Mostly 4 –  you are Higher Flyer
Mostly 5 –  you are Gummy Mummy
Mostly 6  – you are Maxi Mum
Mostly 7 –  you are Serial Mum
Mostly 8 –  you are Runny Mummy


Do let me know which Mum you are (if any!) and which ones you recognise in the playground.

If you’ve enjoyed this post and others I’ve written and drawn, please vote for me in the BiB Awards by clicking on the badges over on the right or here. Thank you! 


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A shortcut to Times Tables 26



I’ve found the quickest ever way to learn your Times Tables! My son’s class are at different stages, and the teacher’s insisting they know them asap. So she wouldn’t be impressed with me. Embarrassingly, I still struggle with a few of the middle ones, though felt better when a friend told me she didn’t know hers off by heart. And she has a top degree in Economics!

Trying to get a child to learn something by rote that you don’t know yourself isn’t easy, but I normally use good old fashioned bluff to get me through. Until now.

Me: “Son, what is 8 x 6?”

Him: “Ummmm. Errrrrrr. Ummmm. (10 seconds later) …..


Me: “Yes, but you need to know it without thinking. Just like if someone asks your name”

Him: “Ha ha, you don’t know your Times Tables, Mum!”

Me (indignantly): “I jolly well do” 

Him: “No you don’t. OK what’s 9 x 8? Go on. Quick!”

Me: “What do YOU think it is?” I ask, making a speedy calculation on my fingers

Him: “There you are, you don’t know. You’re moving your fingers”

Me: “Look this isn’t for my benefit (I hear my own mother saying), it’s for yours

Him: “But we’ve got calculators nowadays! You only had a SLATE with CHALK in olden times!

Me: “Oh look, it’s our bus stop! Press the button quick and grab your backpack”


So I devised some mnemonics to help him (me) learn something he (I) should have learnt a VERY long time ago. We are now having A LOT of fun and we’ve both (almost) got them all off pat.

Let me know if they help you.

2x2DoorBweb1 A shortcut to Times Tables

3x3Pineweb A shortcut to Times Tables

4x4ShipsSteamweb A shortcut to Times Tables

5x5BendyKnivesweb1 A shortcut to Times Tables
6x6DirtySticksweb A shortcut to Times Tables

FARTYTIME A shortcut to Times Tables

FIXdeDOORweb A shortcut to Times Tables

9x9weightymum A shortcut to Times Tables

10x10BumRed A shortcut to Times Tables

11x11TentyFunC A shortcut to Times Tables

12x12FaultyFloorC1 A shortcut to Times Tables

Higher Flyer’s intimate moment 6


HigherFlyerspasswordwithoutcopyright 140x140 Higher Flyers intimate momentBack to the Mummies this week after a very self-indulgent couple of posts about cakes.

This is from the archives but I think it deserves another airing. It’s a snapshot of Higher Flyer’s intimate moment with her son. They only get together a few times a year as she always seems to be at a VERY IMPORTANT MEETING a long way away. But if Davina McCall can complete a triathlon and present successful TV shows, surely Higher Flyer can run and bond with Seb at the same time.

I don’t find it easy to have a Parent/Child talk at the moment either. What about you?

This is our typical school day:

Child:                       “Mum, I really need to talk to you”

Me:                           “Of course, love. Can it keep till I’m awake?”

Child:                       “Is this a good time to talk?”

Me(in the shower):     “I’ve got soap in my ears, wait till breakfast”

Child(at breakfast):   “Mushlushhpllushhmmushhhslurpp”

Child(on school run): ”Can’t talk now, got to learn my lines”

Me(after school):       “Want to talk to me?”

Child:                        Looks like stunned mullet on way home

Me (at home):            ”Anything you want to tell me, sweetheart?”

Child:                        ”Got to re-do my homework first”

Me:                            ”Suppertime! We can have a nice chat now”

Child:                        ”Nummyumcrunchhschlumnchslurrpp”

Me(at bedtime):         “Finally! Now what is it you wanted to say?”

Child:                        ”I can’t remember”


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Birthday Delights 2 18


This is a picture of Mr and Mrs Barmie from my book, The Barmies. As you probably aspire to creating something just a leetle bit more generous than a digestive biscuit with a candle stuck down with chewing gum, here are some more edible looking cakes and money saving tips for parties I promised you last time. 

My own baking is pretty basic. Shortcrust pastry, the (very) odd loaf and Victoria sponge. So when I ask my son what sort of cake he wants for his birthday, he knows we’re not talking about the filling.

I don’t remember much about my own childhood birthday cakes. There might have been a train covered in smarties once, and maybe there was a gingerbread cottage. My parents have always gone on holiday by themselves for a fortnight just before my birthday every year. In fact they’ve just set off once more. You can sort of understand it as the winters are damp and cold in the UK, though my sister and I probably wished we were going along too. They’d try and ring from their sunny resort and sing ‘Happy Birthday to You!’ down the phone from the other side of the world. If they got through, I’d hear it twice as there was always an echo on the line in those days. My sister says I’d be very upset they weren’t with me, but as I say, I can’t remember much about it.

Maybe that’s why I’ve tried really hard to do something special for my small family.

So here are the birthday cakes I’ve made over the years from my son’s 4th Birthday onwards. (To spare his blushes, I’ve Photoshopped out his name).

4th Birthday – ELMER

 Birthday Delights 2

5th Birthday – LEGO

 Birthday Delights 2

6th Birthday – TINTIN

 Birthday Delights 2

7th Birthday – STAR WARS

 Birthday Delights 2

8th Birthday – THE HOBBIT

 Birthday Delights 2

9th Birthday – MINECRAFT

 Birthday Delights 2

*(The first three years I was playing catch up and have Sainsbury’s to thank for their Thomas the Tank Engine blue tongue-dyed sponge cake, and whatever else it was that has leaked through the gaps in my milk-sodden brain).

So, now for the MONEY SAVING TIPS for birthday parties.

For present wrapping paper, colour supplements are good, though iron them first between sheets of plain brown paper to get the ink dry. You can also use old maps from charity shops – though I regret doing this with some old maps from my travelling days.

Have an afternoon party so the children will arrive already full. This way you can cut down on catering by just serving cake and juice.

Goody bags: These can be done quite cheaply.

  1. Buy 25 white C5 envelopes from The Works for 99p    …  =   4p each
  2. Put inside a Fun to Grow seed pot made by Suttons ..  …  = 99p each
  3. The Works also sells packets of 20 felt tip pens for 99p   =   5p each
  4. 12 pack sticky notes for …   …   …   …   …   …   … ..     =  30p each
  5. One lemon sherbert fountain. In bulk they cost  …   …    =  40p each

Write each child’s name in colour lettering on the white envelope, then fill with goodies and seal ready for the party.
(If things are a bit tight, you can always leave out the seed pot this year and put in a couple of balloons to blow up later).

Our straw poll of kids’ favourite parties have been a watching a video and eating pizzas with friends, so it’s really not necessary to spend much. If you haven’t got one, try borrowing a Wii and letting them take turns with in a Table Tennis or Bowling competition.
For other games, I covered these in my last post and they worked VERY well.

Musical chairs -make a compilation of fun dance music and get the kids to shake their sillies out. If you can get hold of a Raffi CD, all the better! We played ‘Singable Songs for the very Young’ on our road trip across the Rockies as well as for this game. I’m word perfect. ‘The More we get Together’; ‘I wonder if I’m growing’ as well as the brilliant ‘Willoughby Wallaby Woo’ are all on the album and really get those little feet stamping up and down!

Grandmother’s Footsteps and Pass the Parcel for smaller children – make sure there’s a small prize (wrapped sweetie) for everyone.

Lastly, RELAX!

What’s the worst that can happen?


And if you can’t enjoy it, know that you are building some good love foundations for your child. If not now, they’ll appreciate it one day …





Birthday Delights 16


Birthday parties aren’t meant to be disastrous. Like holidays. Top-up fibs embellish what would otherwise be a well forgotten event.  Too much time and effort has been invested to admit otherwise, and anyway most of the time my family and I try to look on the bright side.

Until now. Life’s too short not to say it like it really is. So here I am laying bare some of my proud and not so proud birthday moments.

When he was much younger (last year), my son had some friends over for a birthday party. They were in three different schools but we thought they’d get on ok. The Hobbit themed cake I spent a day and an evening baking and decorating, sat there resplendent with its white icing, reflecting the candlelight that lit up the darkened room. What could possibly go wrong?

 Birthday Delights

Last year’s HOBBIT themed cake

The Birthday Boy breathed in deeply and blew out the candles.  At the same time he sneezed.  A gloop of snot, the size of a slug, launched itself from his nose and described a perfect arc before landing next to a Gandalf Lego minifigure.  Apart from the phlegm which had been growing in his nasal passages for the previous two weeks, a fine spray of germs had now been released from behind their bacterial plug and rained down over all the icing.  Ignoring this, a knife was hurriedly found, and the offending slime lump was expertly excised from the icing as well as a good portion of the writing I had carefully inscribed on it the night before.

The parents who had arrived early to collect their children, flattened themselves against the wall.  As I approached them brightly with slices of my delicious carrot cake and buttercream filling, they shrank back even further and tried to hide their look of horror. Not one of them ate my cake.

However, the afternoon HAD started promisingly.

This is what we were going to do with the children:

  1. De-bounce them with a planned treasure hunt in the garden
  2. Play games: including a Fun Quiz and a Lego building competition.
  3. Make your own pizza
  4. Birthday Cake

This is what happened:

1.  De-bouncing postponed as it rained cats and dogs – surprising for February in England.

2.  During the Quiz, the boys put themselves into teams with their school friends. Big mistake not to mix them up. A boy on Team A yelled “liar” at DS in Team B, then shouted, “let’s not play this anymore, they’re frashing us!” Lots of finger pointing and junior swearwords.

3.  The Lego building competition went much better.  At first. One of Team B’s boys said that one of Team A’s had been stealing their pieces. That was it! From then on it was downhill with fisticuffs, puce faces, much more yelling and stomping off.

4.  Make your own pizza. Great idea. Forgot of course that at 3pm, they were still digesting their lunch, and too full to eat any of the piles of toppings we’d spent much money and time buying and preparing.

We’ve wised up. Here’s the perfect recipe for a boy’s birthday party:

  1. Take them OUT for a pizza (many restaurants will give you a special deal that ends up not much more expensive than bought ingredients, carpet cleaner and the cost of dry cleaning upholstery)
  2. Back home and straight into garden to de-bounce; rain or shine, flood or ice. (What  weather?!)
  3. Games with teams players to be decided in advance, and choose the rowdier kids to be the leaders so they aren’t all in same team. Ask a step-daughter (like mine) or friend who has a teaching qualification and/or a loud voice to supervise.
    i. Ritz cracker or After Eight on tilted back forehead of each child. They have to manoeuvre it into their mouth using only facial muscles. Great fun to do as well as to watch and cheer from the sidelines.
    ii. Chinese whispers in a circle. Hilarious results and great fun for adults too.
    iii. Wink murder. Everybody gets a go as detective and murderer.
  4. Home-baked theme cake, made as snot-free as possible.
  5. Alcohol and food for parents as an incentive to come earlier and help.
  6. Minecraft cake 600x450 Birthday Delights

    This year’s MINECRAFT cake with candles for torches

    We had one child, you know, ONE OF THOSE, who was rather a nightmare over-enthusiastic during the party, and then pushed next to my son and blew out some of his candles. I thought there’d be an argument, but DS just rolled with it and said to me later he’d already mentally struck him off next year’s birthday party list.

    I knew the cake was a success when all the kids gathered around it and one boy exclaimed,

    If you keep cutting down with the knife you’ll hit BEDROCK!

    Another asked,

    ooh can I have one of the Lapis Lazuli blocks please?

    And a third,

    I really want one of the creepers, is that ok, Jo?

    And then they all pretended the creeper had detonated and they mimed a huge explosion.

    Some of the parents arrived early and, this year, a few even risked eating the cake.



    Next time … money saving tips for birthdays and ideas for themed cakes

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Caption Competition! 9




For her winning caption …

Its like she positions herself purposely to fart in my face!”

CONGRATULATIONS! A £15 Amazon voucher is headed your way icon smile Caption Competition!

(We enjoyed all the entries, but in the end had to choose the one that made us all snort loudest at the same time!)

An honourable mention goes to JallieDaddy for his very funny ‘woman’s football team’ caption. (This would have gone down even better if I wasn’t a fan of the England woman’s football team and have only rarely seen any moves like the ones above).

Thanks to everyone for taking part !!





Gifted & Talented 2 6


2CleverIzzyB28 01flattened 333x400 Gifted & Talented 2


2CleverIzzyC28 01flattened 387x400 Gifted & Talented 2


2CleverIzzyD28 01flattened 400x267 Gifted & Talented 2


As I was drawing this, I remembered being told off by my son last year for using a “VERY rude word”. Couldn’t think what it could be as I never, EVER swear. Well not that day, and not THAT rude. Anyway, he’d seen a letter I’d written and at the top of the second page was “…/Cont.”  How I’d like to sit in on their English lessons sometimes.

What do you think? Am I just tapping into the Zeitgeist or is this blog more influential than I ever thought possible? I gave the name Esmé in these cartoons to the cleverest of the Heir Raising children just to find out a popular primetime TV programme has COPIED me!! We sat down to watch ‘Outnumbered‘ the other night in order to feel both smug and terrified, and I thought five things:

  1. Ben can’t be thirteen – he’s enormous. Can he ?!?
  2. How come Karen’s hair was straightened and dyed brown without any explanation?
  3. Has she gone to a private school or a high-achieving designer-uniformed Grammar?
  4. Would I even have bothered to humour her about a hamster missing for two months?
  5. Why did they use the name Esmé for the annoying, smart kid? That’s ‘MY’ name.
  6. Does any of this really matter? I suspect not. But look forward to the best answers !

Previously ...



Gifted & Talented 12


MovingIzzy23 01B1 400x345 Gifted & Talented

MovingIzzy23 01Cc 270x400 Gifted & Talented

Is your child clever? I mean REALLY clever? Plummy Mummy, seen at the top with Serial Mum, is convinced her own daughter Izzy is an undiscovered genius. Though, in fact, I don’t know any Mums, ANYWHERE, who would be surprised if their child were put on the G&T register*. I think Plummy would like a bit more acknowledgement from the school that Izzy was heading for great things – it would be so nice to be able to let the other Mums know too. She doesn’t believe Serial Mum for a moment – poor little Esmé must be up all hours being drilled by that frightful mother with her ‘vintage’ clothes and loose relationship with domestic order.

So, what do you say when a Mum saunters up to you at Pick-Up and gloats about how clever her offspring is. Do you say:

  1. “Well done him/her! You must be very proud to have such a brainy child, which surely means you and his/her father are brilliant too”.
  2. “Are you ……’s Mum or am I confusing you with a sociopath who lacks any sense of empathy or basic human tact?”
  3. “I am glad (insert child’s name) is doing so well, though just wondered how he/she’s coping with the OCD/anger issues/toilet training etc. these days?

*G&T (for children) = Gifted and Talented
G&T (for adults) = with a slice of lime of course!

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Mission: Possible 8



The night after we left our friends in Sussex recently, they had to swim out of their house at 3am in the pitch black. It was Christmas Eve and my son had been helping his Godmother decorate the tree only three days earlier.

What my friends managed to rescue:

  1. Their dog
  2. Passports
  3. Mobile phones

What they lost:

  1. All their furniture and soft furnishings
  2. All the tapestries she’s made over 25 years
  3. All their paperwork
  4. All their photographs
  5. Their house

We’d been invited to stay that night too, but had to get back as we’d made other arrangements. While we were there, the rain was pelting down, the field was getting waterlogged and my friend had to go and clear the culvert of driftwood a ten minute walk upstream. She went in up to her chest in freezing water both in the morning and the afternoon. Always been tougher than me. Since a new development had been built nearby, excess water hadn’t been able to flow away, and was diverted towards their house instead. The day we left, the rain stopped and the water started to go down so they weren’t worried. Just in case though, they parked their car a little up the drive on higher ground that evening.

That night it rained Biblically. At 3am there was six inches of water on the floor of their house. Within ten minutes, it was gushing in at waist height. It was pitch black and they had a panicky dog out of his depth. There was no time to bring anything upstairs like they had less than two years before. My friend said it was like the Titanic. It was all they could do to get out with their lives and swim against the torrential water in the dark to where the car was. Soaking wet, they drove a couple of miles away to a country pub that lets out rooms, and the lovely owner put them and their shocked, bedraggled dog up for the night.

My amazing friend, who I’ve know since we were at school aged seven, announced that “Yes, it’s a ******* nuisance but at least I’m not in the Philippines with the house blown away”. She also told my son that there are always those worse off than you. Just the sort of wisdom he’d never have taken on board if I’d said it, and as far as bravery goes, pretty impressive from someone who’s been made homeless for the second time in two years.

Since writing the above, I’ve just found out that a friend of ours was killed in the floods last week. We’d heard that a local man had died but they only released his name today. Didn’t know whether it was insensitive to write about this, but if it saves anyone’s life to know that an adult can be swept off their feet or bike in only 15cm of fast moving water, then it is worth mentioning. Please take care.

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