Guilty pleasures! What would you take to the island??

No, not Love Island, I’m talking about that desert island that has been in people’s hearts and minds for the past 76 years and absolutely counts as one of my guilty pleasures in life. Desert Island Discs.

To those of you reading this who are either not in the UK, it hasn’t reached your radar yet or are still professing to be far too cool for all this “old person” stuff, this is the Radio 4 programme where guests are asked to choose eight tracks (records, discs, call it what you will….) which you would take to a mythical desert island along with the complete works of Shakespeare, the Bible and a luxury item. A bit like “I’m a Celebrity” without having to eat any kangaroo appendages really.

Now I admit, whilst I’m not exactly an avid listener of Radio 4 and tend only to listen to the interviews where I’ve heard of the person in the first place, (which is rarer than I’d like to admit) I definitely have a soft spot for this radio institution and either listen to the podcasts at home or in the car whilst deliberating on which absolute bangers (I don’t think they call them this on Radio 4) I would pack in that mythical suitcase of mine.

Now this is not an easy task. It’s a little like when people ask what your favourite film is and you have the tough decision of “do I go with something everyone will think is really cool or do I just put it out there and admit how much I love Mannequin???” Pretty much each time I start thinking it over, I come up with different song options and really just want to cheat and ask for my luxury item to be an iPod so I can click shuffle and have thousands of songs at my fingertips like we’re all used to these days. But no, that’s not what this is about, so with that in mind, these are the eight tracks I would pick as of today. Next week or even tomorrow will probably be a different list. In five, ten or twenty years time it almost certainly would be. These have been chosen because they all mean something to me, or remind me of something or someone and just make me happy. Cheesy but true.

So, in no particular order, the first one I would go for is “Fools Gold” by The Stone Roses. Although I was pretty much the right age bracket and dressed accordingly (for accordingly, read “dreadfully”) at the height of their brilliance, I am ashamed to say I was too busy listening to utter crap in my teenage years and didn’t really “get” the Roses until probably the last ten years or so. I was reintroduced to them by my husband and, to avoid making him look as though he has excellent taste, I should add that some of the other stuff he’s tried to make me listen to has been utterly shocking. But the Roses I liked. I’d forgotten that they were constantly there in the background of my teens and trying to choose just one track was hard. But this one reminds me of desperately trying to be cool at house parties, failing miserably and then finally getting to see them live last year and having the best time ever.

Number two? “Superstar” by The Carpenters. Like many, I used to rifle through my Dad’s record collection (I gave up on Mum’s as “Peter, Paul and Mary” just didn’t cut it for me. Sorry Mum) and this was one of the few non-Jazz records he had. Whether it was bought because he liked it, bought for him or it was a little less blues-ey for all those eighties dinner parties I’ll never know but I listened to it, got hooked on Karen Carpenters’ voice and immediately committed all the lyrics to memory. I sing this in the car with my son and he hates it. Which makes me love it that little bit more.

At three. “Big Log” by Robert Plant. Fascinating fact, he bought me a drink once as he used to drink in my local. Lovely guy but to my eternal shame, at that point in my life at the age of around 20 I didn’t quite know or appreciate who he was. I only discovered this song much later and fell in love with it at first listen. I also like how at no point in the lyrics does he mention the phrase “big log”. (Another fact for you there, thank me later.)

Four – “You Do Something To Me” by Paul Weller. This was the first dance at our wedding. I would like to say we chose this because it had meaning for us and it’s “our song” but the reality is we were running out of time to make a decision on what to have, so we heard it, liked it and went with it. We wanted “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen but it apparently “wasn’t romantic enough”. Ah well.

Five – Depending on any given day, this can alternate between “When Doves Cry” or “The Beautiful Ones” by the bloody fabulous Prince, but for todays purposes I’m going with the latter. Possibly my favourite album of all time, Purple Rain, which I listened to until I broke the tape through over-use and promptly upgraded to CD. (I have since upgraded once again to vinyl in a slightly backwards fashion.) This track is best listened to with headphones, loudly, in a darkened room. Love it.

Six – “Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks. Being eternally late to the party, I first listened to this thinking “Oh my God, it’s Beyonce” before realising that there was such a thing as Songs My Generation Didn’t Invent. This is a classic for belting out in traffic jams. Loudly.

Seven – “Hounds of Love” by Kate Bush. There had to be a Kate Bush song, I used to borrow this album from the library over and over until I got the type of tape player that could record (completely illegally most likely) other tapes. (Come on, we all did it, didn’t we!?) Again, I would attempt to sing along before realising NO ONE can sing like her.

And finally, in at number eight, it has to be “Starman” by David Bowie. I could have chosen quite a few Bowie tracks but this I have chosen because it is my six year olds favourite and because of that, it had to make it into my favourites. Hearing my son singing this and loving it just makes me very happy.

As with every Desert Island Discs Castaway, you are given the complete works of Shakespeare along with the Bible to while away the days but are allowed a book and a luxury to take along too. And, at the risk of sounding basic, I would ask for a coffee machine and an unlimited supply of coffee pods so I could wake each morning to a nice cuppa. (I would hope that the unlimited fresh water supply would come hand in hand with this, if not, the thought of saltwater coffee is a bit grim…..) Book-wise I would have to cheat a little and ask for a gigantic ruled notepad with a nice pen as I’d soon get bored of the same book regardless of how much I love it now and I’d have enough time on my hands to attempt to write my own. At last.

I have to admit, the thought of being stuck on a desert island really doesn’t appeal to me, because sand, sunburn, logistics, accommodation, I’m a fussy old bird these days….. but it’s definitely nice revisiting some favourites and creating a nice little mix-tape. I may have to revisit this post in a years time to see how my list might change, what would you guys pick?

 

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It’s not Christmas, it’s November…..

At the risk of sounding like an intolerant grumpy old woman (don’t…) is it me or does it seem as though the second the Halloween masks are thrown in the bargain bin and the pumpkins are starting to rot outside the front door, (seriously, they stink) then out come the advent calendars, the gift idea catalogues and (this is the worst bit) the CHRISTMAS MUSIC!

Now, honestly, I’m not a scrooge but two words people.

IT’S. NOVEMBER.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like Christmas and I’m not a total Grinch. Honest. I just have some small issues with walking into a shop at the beginning of November and hearing Christmas music. On the flip side, I admit, I have sort of started my Christmas shopping and also have somehow managed to do my yearly tradition of buying a few Christmas bits only to find that I already have some of these items stashed in the garage from last year and I now have two lots of Christmas cards and gift labels because instead of being organised, I’ve done that thing of “putting them in a safe place” and then forgetting all about it. I do this every year. Without fail. And never learn.

This is also the time of year I start getting Christmas cake stress-guilt. Anyone else with me on this? In past years I have been super stupidly organised and made my Christmas cake at the end of October, ready for it to be packed away and fed a little tipple of brandy every week until it’s unleashed in Christmas week ready to be devoured at any given opportunity. This year, with one thing or another, I haven’t got round to the cake as yet and the ingredient bag (yes, I got that far, go me…) full of almonds and mixed fruit are sitting next to that Bake Off Showstoppers recipe book, with Mary Berry’s eyes judging my lazy cake-dodging soul every time I walk into the kitchen.

And then I realise just why there are baubles and tinsel everywhere already and the incessant Christmas music (can you tell just how much I dislike Christmas music yet??) has begun. It’s for people exactly like me, who think they’re organised and they’re getting this Christmas stuff nailed but in reality are just faffing about, getting nowhere and start to wonder if they’ll end up like those mad folk on Christmas Eve running around like turkeys trying to escape Bernard. (Too much? Sorry….)

The thought of leaving it all until Christmas Eve genuinely makes me break out in a cold sweat, I can’t handle it. Christmas Eve, as far as I’m concerned, is for baking cookies, eating cookies and then heading off to the pub for the afternoon before tracking Father Christmas and using said tracker to engineer a nice early bedtime for the small boy so Mummy can have a G&T and get into the festive erm, spirit and Daddy can have a glass of whatever Father Christmas requested. Funny that.

So this week I have formulated my plan. I’m going to channel my inner Mary Berry and get those darned cakes sorted. I’m going to sort out the duplicate Christmas stuff stashed around the place and try and arrange it in some order that makes me look as though I am absolutely smashing this Christmas prep. I’m going to source some fabulous advent calendars (I hear there are gin ones…..) and write some lists to make myself truly believe I Have Got This.

But sssshhhhh, keep it quiet, it is only November after all……….. x

 

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21 things you notice when you’re off sick…..

  1. You think all this bed rest is going to be quite the nice little treat. You can watch all the boxsets, read all the books you’ve been meaning to for ages but the cold, brutal reality is you spend the majority of the day flicking through social media and watching Escape to the Country.
  2. You’re convinced the drugs will make you sleep and they’re great. They don’t. They’re not. They send you crazy and turn you into possibly the most bad tempered evil bitch you’ve ever been. Which the rest of the family just LOVE.
  3. You flick through magazines aimlessly, with precisely zero concentration until the joyous moment you come across a perfume sample. You immediately put on said sample so at least while you look like a hideous bed monster you smell like an actual supermodel.
  4. You have chicken soup for lunch on the first day because it’s what your Mum used to make when you were off sick from school as a kid. And my God, it’s still so good.
  5. You watch the squirrels in the trees from your window and start imagining what their daily life entails. At one dark point you start talking to them, before realising you’re nuttier than their entire winter haul and get back to reading the magazines quick sharp.
  6. You realise, whilst reading these magazines, you have absolutely no idea, and equally no interest, in either who the hecky peck these people are in OK Magazine or why they’re showing you round their house. But their kitchen units are quite nice.
  7. You start googling kitchen units and redesigning your own kitchen. That housewife in Cheshire and Laura off the property programme would definitely approve.
  8. You online shop. If my husband is reading this, you receive it all and promptly send it all back.
  9. You listen to music to try and chill out. You’re momentarily lifted by a Del Amitri song (remember them?!) that you’d forgotten how much you loved but it spirals into listening to Phil Collins and you realise you are not living another day in blinking paradise thanks Phil.
  10. You realise how many utterly wonderful friends you have and how kind people can truly be. Magazines, gifts of soup, squash, iTunes vouchers, candles, notepads, chocolates that you can’t eat yet, (and you need to hide before the hubby gets his paws on them*) a puzzle book, (see number 11) more flowers than you have vases. I’m all about that hashtag “feeling blessed” this week.
  11. You sit and do a puzzle book for the first time since you were a kid. Man, I am good at Arrow-words.
  12. You take daily selfies to try and convince yourself that you are getting better and aren’t quite as likely to scare small children if you risk leaving the house.
  13. You do leave the house after a few days because you are GOING STIR CRAZY and regret it almost immediately.
  14. You realise you haven’t been this tired since you had a small baby and thank the lord indeed for this small baby being now not so small and big enough to give Mummy a cuddle when she needs it most.
  15. You watch the leaves falling outside and hate them a bit for messing up your garden. And for getting rid of the summer. Autumn? Humbug.
  16. You are aware that everyone has said “please just ask if you need anything” but you still feel guilty even asking for a glass of squash.
  17. You put on your Apple watch and realise you’re nowhere near your 10,000 step target, more like just 10. In total. For the day. *sigh* *removes watch immediately*
  18. You realise that having to eat soft food isn’t as exciting as chicken soup for the soul and Mr Whippy ice cream all day. It’s dull. All you really want is a massive steak and chips. Your husband makes garlic bread with dinner and you sit for approximately 10 minutes sucking at it like a frustrated toddler. Futile.
  19. You take raspberry jelly and all your drugs to bed with you at 8pm and wonder just when did your life become so rock and roll?
  20. You are asked very nicely by your six year old son if you could keep your face like that forever because “it’s a sick Halloween costume Mummy, but I still love you even when you’re ugly.” Thank you my darling.
  21. You are eternally grateful for a job you can do whilst lying in bed looking like a absolute monster. Still smelling like a supermodel though. Thanks Mon Geurlain.

 

These are purely my findings from a week of “enforced relaxation” after having emergency dental surgery following a teeny little impromptu meeting my face had with a marble worktop after I fainted. I am very happy to say I am almost back in the land of the living and even had a coffee to celebrate this fact today. See you next week for “normal” ramblings coffee lovers! x

 

*update – I have checked said chocolates and I am sorry to say they have indeed been liberated by said husband. Sad face.

 

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Conquering the Big C………

Eight months, six chemotherapy and twenty three radiotherapy treatments ago, one of my very best friends was told the heart stopping news that she had breast cancer.

She came round to tell me and although I can’t remember everything about that night (I should add there was no alcohol involved, just the earth shattering news) I remember (after I stopped crying) laughing together and being really positive knowing she would absolutely kick the arse of this hideously cruel “thing”.

I think the first thing I felt afterwards was some sort of weird guilt. Why has this even happened? Why couldn’t I take it all away for her? An odd sort of grieving feeling for the first few weeks. A sense of it not being quite real, being in limbo until things got very real and operations and treatment began.

There is always that weird thing that people do when they find out someone has cancer. This generally involves a tilt of the head and the “look”. The look of pity, of not knowing what to say, of feeling trapped and using this odd mannerism as code for “I have no words, if I do this then surely she’ll know what I mean”. She’s had that a lot. It has happened a few times when I was with her, when I would become fiercely protective and either attempt to change the subject or get the hell out as quick as we could. All the times it did happen though, we would walk away, groaning but usually laughing our heads off exclaiming “Oh God, the look!”

Then there was the hair thing. She has always had amazing hair. Like ridiculously amazing. One of our hobbies, aside from sending each other pictures of tattoos we like or shots of David Beckham looking hot as per usual, is to send each other pictures of hair colours, styles, extensions, you name it, we would find it and usually plan to do it. So when the hair went it was, in the words of Ron Burgundy, kind of a big deal. But she trotted off and got some awesome wigs, some not so awesome and one in particular that she sent me a picture of, saying she had dropkicked it across the room for being shit.

The three weekly sessions of chemo were brutal and something no rational human would wish on their worst enemy. We planned nights out on the weeks when she felt vaguely human again and lunches for when she was almost there. In between I would send the daftest pictures, memes, messages, whatever I could find to try and cheer her up. I’m hoping that I never did the tilty head thing, it’s very true to say no one knows what to say in these situations but I just tried to take her mind off it any way I could find, followed up with a quick “you ok?” If I got a reply, we’d chat, if not, it wasn’t a biggie, I knew she’d talk when she wanted to.

In August we had a week in Cornwall together. Both families doing what we do best, spending time together eating, drinking, being generally daft and of course taking the Mickey out of each other as we always do so well. How the hell she coped with that week away, arriving just hours after having a chemo session and still managed to join in with pretty much everything we did, even playing an 18 hole round of pitch and putt I genuinely have no idea. Yes she sunbathed under a blanket, wearing a woolly hat in the shade as she felt the cold so badly, yes she couldn’t eat everything we ate because of those nasty little chemo side effects of everything tasting foul but the morning she announced she fancied a boiled egg, I set to work trying to make the best bloody boiled egg I’d ever made in the hope it might make her feel a tiny bit better.

Despite having two friends diagnosed with and thankfully out the other side of breast cancer, I still don’t think I truly realised the utter devastation it causes. Mentally, physically, you name it, it’s the gift you never want to have that just keeps giving. Her husband, her family, her friends have all been incredible but most of all, somehow (and my God, I don’t and will never know how) she has been incredible.

I hope to God that at some point in our lifetime there is a way to cure and end this evil disease. She’s been officially cancer free since the op in March but didn’t get properly battered by it all until the chemo began. Seeing someone you care about dealing with it all is mind-blowing. And I didn’t see her on her worst days.

But now, it’s over. It’s done. No more long trips to the hospital for 58 seconds of getting blasted by radiotherapy, no more feeling the worst you have ever felt through chemo. She has completed the very worst of it and then some, it’ll be a journey all over again coming out of this but here’s the recovery part. Here’s where your life begins again. Where things don’t have to be put on hold, you can have the holiday and enjoy it properly, you can move on and do what the hell you want.

I wanted to write this blog this week to say how proud of you I am my friend. In fact proud doesn’t even come close. Just as we predicted eight months ago whilst we sat crying on my kitchen stools, you absolutely kicked cancer’s backside. And next years holiday? I’ll even let you get a better tan than me, that woolly hats not invited. xx

 

 

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The unknown terrors of parents evening….

So this week brought that little slip of paper in the school bag that confirms just when you have to go and sit with your childs’ teacher for 10-15 minutes and discuss exactly what they do in those hours between 9 and 3.30 when they aren’t with you.

I like to think these hours involve making beautiful crafts and learning to write, spell and read at long last and generally learning to be a lovely little human but after seeing the state of my child when I pick him up from school each day, I do genuinely wonder if he’s just been studying “how to be a caveman” judging by the amount of caked on mud all over his school shoes that I only ever manage to wipe off in a fit of “oh God why didn’t I do this last night” at 8.28am that morning. (Top tip, baby wipes are your friend as a Mum…)

I opened his school bag to find a carrot the other day. A single carrot. Having a small moment of wondering if they have been brainwashed as there is not a single chance in hell of my child eating one of these cooked, let alone raw at home, I enquired how it appeared in the bag. “Oh we get them at break time Mummy, they’re lovely” he replies. Turns out my child is a totally different person at school than he is at home.

And I think I probably was too. Up until middle school I was confident and could honestly say I absolutely loved school. I think I had a little wobble to begin with when I started first school but once I got into it, that tiny little village school of mine was my little world for five years. I have fond memories of it and can’t even recall a parents evening, though presumably there must have been as my Mother was told by my reception teacher, at the age of four, that I spent far less time doing the arts and crafts projects provided and more time studiously reading the newspapers that were placed down to protect the tables. (I just hope to goodness it wasn’t the Daily Mail.)

This has never been an issue with my child. Being a “young” one in the school year, he has always been slightly behind his peers in all things academic, although he can definitely fight a good fight on the football pitch. Reading has not come naturally, writing has taken time, spelling is another matter entirely.

I wasn’t expecting great things, having being told in the past couple of years that “he’s a little character” and other such gems along the lines of “he literally doesn’t stop but we class it as him having a personality and hey, let’s just go with it” but I was more than a little blown away at being told that “he has incredibly neat handwriting,” he “is a lovely child to have in the class” and when the teacher asked them to tell him what their favourite thing about school was, my little man proudly said “I love my kind friends” which I have to say kinda broke my heart a little.

It appears that while I took my eye off the ball for a millisecond of parenting, as we so often do, my little guy positively embraced the whole idea of this school lark so when I gave him the choice of a little “treat” the other day on the first day of our half term week together, he chose a seemingly enormous book about fascinating facts on astronauts and crocodiles and dinosaurs. “I’m not sure sweetie” I’d said as I thought all this would be far too advanced and scare him off from this reading caper entirely. He then proceeded to read me the whole of the first page as we walked around the shop. I had to stop myself from having a little sob as I paid for it and then caught him in the rear view mirror on the drive home devouring his book.

It would appear in the days since finding this literary tome that this book is a bit of a hit in his little world. He has gone to bed with it, told me interesting facts from it, and although, if I’m honest, can’t really read as much of it as he thinks just now, the joy of reading is there somewhere. The utter pleasure that you get from picking up a fresh new book, the smell of the pages, the feel of the spine and the individual carefully printed new pages. What treats he has in store, I used to read everything I could get my little paws on at his age, I just hope this continues. And he continues having kind friends and loving all the things school and learning can give him. Fly high my little one. Fly high.

 

 

And yes, fully aware of the irony of the title of the book………

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Let’s just stop faffing about shall we…..

It feels as though all I have been doing in any spare time I had since about May is party planning. (I had a little bash for a birthday I had with a zero on the end of it recently, I know, I’ve barely mentioned it…..) This party took up a ridiculous amount of my time and although I kinda enjoyed planning it all, I never ever want to go into event planning. Like ever. This thing took over my life a bit, I created a monster but boy, it was a great monster. From caterers, calculating how much drink we needed (turns out my friends are basically alcoholics..) to portaloos and the frock of dreams, this thing took time but do you know what? It was awesome.

After the mammoth clean up exercise yesterday which involved just the four trips to the bottle bank, an obscene amount of binbags and almost a full can of Febreze sprayed liberally around the place, I woke up this morning sort of feeling like it was New Years Day all over again. That new term feeling, the kind where you want to sharpen a pencil and start a new leaf both in that shiny new notepad you have and in life. It would seem friends of mine have been following me in my crazy pipe dream of blogging and have given me enough stationery to see these little ramblings of mine perhaps move on a little and come to life. As one friends’ card beautifully stated –  “Forty is about having fun, feeling fabulous and believing in yourself and your dreams….” Added in big letters underneath were the words “Write the book!!”

Last weeks post was centred around my bucket list, a list that began life as a couple of things I’d quite like to do and quickly turned into a very real list of forty things I fully intend to accomplish. “Write the book” was straight in at number 6, not that this list was in any particular order, falling two underneath “climb something high”. I know. Blog content at its finest.

I digress. Starting today as a new fresh week made me think “well let’s just crack on shall we?” After starting this little blog in April this year, it turns out that a few of you quite like the inane inner workings of a coffee infused mind and my God, that makes me pretty damn happy. I can’t promise great literature, I can’t promise you high brow but I can say I’m trying my hardest and I am loving creating content that you can sit and read on your coffee break that might just raise a smile and you might just tell your mates about. And somewhere in amongst that lies “The Book” Maybe.

So I’m embracing this “new year”, sharpening my new pencils, turning over a leaf in those beautiful new notepads and giving this a bash. You lucky people will get a weekly supply of ramblings and updates along the way of any other possibly out of reach ambitions or crazy ideas that spring to my mind. These often appear, usually in the dead of night, around 4am when I can’t sleep and genuinely think that holding a play date for my son and 14 friends at home on a Monday night when I’ve hosted 120 people two nights previously is a good idea. Told you my mind was twisted.

If you’ve stuck with me for this long, or perhaps this is the first time you’ve found me, stick with it and lets see what on earth I can come up with next. In fact, if there are any ramblings that you would like to see my take on, why not let me know?

 

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The big 4-0…….

Somehow, somewhere between painstakingly applying nail varnish flowers to my Doc Marten boots, crying about being cruelly dumped on my 16th birthday (true story) and hard discussions about the best way to get your kids school shirt as white as it can be, I blinked and realised I was pushing 40. This week in fact. Ouch, I said it out loud.

I say pushing, I should say approaching with caution. Now 30 was just fine, I breezed through that one with barely a thought. 40 though seems like the age where you’re supposed to have all your life in order and start acting responsibly – you’re just “supposed” to be grown up. I talked about it back in August in this post but somehow along the way I seem to have embraced the very thing that I was so nervous of. 40 now feels “OK”. Short of lying about my age for the foreseeable future, which is going to be tricky as many friends will read this and realise my deception, I’m going for it. Bring. It. On.

So with that in mind, I have been creating a bucket list of sorts. I have obviously been faffing around far too much to do the “40 things to do before you’re 40” and unless I can stall time (now that would be an impressive thing for the bucket list….) I’m going to just have to go for this…….

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1. Stop caring about my age. It doesn’t matter, no-one cares and there’s nothing I can do about it. Therefore, buy the eye cream and deal with it.

  2.  Run 10k. I managed 5k a little while ago, so only twice the pain right?

  3.  Lift some heavy weights. Like really heavy. And make it look good without making a face like a dying rat.

  4. Climb something high. Not the kitchen stool when I can’t reach the Tupperware cupboard (another true story…) but something really high. Perhaps not Everest though.

5.  Read / re-read the classics. Create a list of an achievable amount to read in a year and do it.

6.  Write. The. Book. Or at least coax it out a little more. Come on, I know you’re in there.

7.  Try a new drink or food previously unknown. I can confirm this year I have finally enjoyed an olive or two. The food world is now my oyster as it were. Not them though. Ewww.

8.   Crochet a blanket. A few years ago I “took up” crochet. I made a scarf and more than a few attempts at garments that spectacularly unravelled and faced the rest of their woolly lives in the bottom of the craft basket. I have a granny square blanket in my head that is going to be beautiful. One day.

9.  Watch more bands / live music. One of my absolute favourite things to do and one I don’t do nearly enough. I’ve seen bands and acts over the years as diverse as Janet Jackson to PJ and Duncan. (Yes, really) More please.

10.  Dig out my Nan’s cookbook and cook something from it. As long as it doesn’t involve lard. (Why did so many include lard??!)

11.  Learn to swim properly. I am an expert at doing the doggie paddle whilst pulling the aforementioned rat face. This needs to change.

12.  Learn how to say something more than “Can I have a beer please?” in a foreign language. Like “Can I have a Prosecco please?”

13.  Dance. Really dance. Everyone watching Strictly at the moment is thinking this I’m sure but how cool would it be to rock up at a party and be able to actually do the American Smooth?? Which brings me nicely to…..

14.  Perfect a party trick. Something classy obviously, I’m not talking about being able to neck a pint of ale in less than 5 seconds. Although that would be pretty cool. Drink responsibly my friends….

15.  Go to a really cool music festival. Glastonbury is and always has been on my hitlist but then I discovered the ones in countries that may actually have more than a chance in hell of a warm day.

16.  Say “yes” more. Not as in “have you had an accident at work” but leave myself open a little more to new opportunities that I would normally make up some terrible excuse to get out of.

17.  Embrace my own company. Go to the cinema alone, a spa day alone – I’m talking about a bit of “me time”. With my constant friend by my side – a large Americano coffee. (My MacBook just autocorrected that as having some “me” time with a large American. Which would be a very different option on the bucket list……)

18.  Be able to grow something plant or vegetable-like without condemning it to an early death. Or without planting it in the garden and then forgetting where I put it because I forgot to put the little name tags next to it. Or without planting it and then it getting obliterated by a small boy with a football.

19.  Build a snowman. My son has seen snow here in the U.K only once in his lifetime and we just don’t ever seem to have enough of the cold white stuff to make a decent big snowman. With a carrot nose and coal eyes – old school stuff.

20.  Drive a truck. A massive one. I’ve wanted to do this since the days of watching Long Distance Clara on Pigeon Street (Now there’s a throwback for you…) I want to go to a race track or somewhere where I’m in no danger of meeting any other traffic (God forbid) and just drive. Perhaps toot the horn a bit to show I mean business.

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21.  Learn how to do the splits. I’ve done yoga for a year now and I’m still no closer. Or should that be further apart. One day legs, one day.

22.  Learn how to put air in my tyres or be able to perform any other car maintenance task other than just sticking some petrol in my car.

23.  Go to the Edinburgh Festival. Again, it’s been on the hitlist for far too long, next year maybe?

24.  See the Northern Lights. Preferably in one of those glass igloos whilst sipping some sort of crazy liqueur that fights away the cold temperatures. And whilst looking fabulous in a (fake) fur coat, obvs.

25.  Swim with dolphins. Admittedly I may need to crack number 11 before I attempt this one.

26.  Go Zorbing. Kind of like a huge hamster ball that you are zipped into and then pushed down a hill. Ridiculous? Yes. On the list? Yes.

27.  Go on the Orient Express. I’ve wanted to do this ever since I was a kid. And sip a Gin and Tonic whilst I’m on it. (That was not on the list when I was a kid, honest.)

28.  Write my will. That’s a proper grown up aim surely? Someone needs to know who gets the coffee machine and handbags after all.

29.  This is a biggie. Get my degree. I didn’t go to University. I regret it. Not sure what degree yet but one day gadget, one day….

30.  Quit the paranoia. I’m the kind of person who worries constantly about what people think of me. Stop caring, I’m not going to be liked by everyone, that’s normal and that’s fine. Those who do, do and I love them for it. Those that don’t? Not on my radar anymore.

31.  Celebrate with a big cake / glass of prosecco / great big coffee / new skinny jeans when I hit 40 blog posts. I never thought I’d be brave enough to post one let alone 40. I’m over halfway there, perhaps by then I’ll have reached my next goal?…..

32.  Get a crazy amount of likes on a blog post. Go “viral” maybe! Turn this crazy hobby into something more.

33.  Set up a monthly donation to charity. I don’t need to explain why, everyone could do this.

34.  Adopt an animal. Husband, if you’re reading this, the animal does not have to live with us. Honest.

35.  Sing. I am not a good singer. I do not care.

36.  Learn how not to be a total technophobe. I might be from the generation that barely learned how to use a computer at school but I should really be able to do more than switch it off and on again.

37.  Learn how to play the piano. I nailed the recorder, attempted the clarinet, made a passable attempt at the saxophone. Piano – you’re next.

38.  Wear the dress / top / jewellery that you keep for “best”. Any day can and should be “best.”

39.  Make jam. Make like I’m in the WI (again, not on the bucket list, sorry Mum) and make a few little jars of something passable to throw on toast.

40.  Live the cliches. The really cheesy ones. Live Love Laugh? Dance in the rain like no-one is watching because you just need to keep calm and carry on? Yeah those. All of those.

 

I feel like I should end this longest-skinny-blog-ever with some meaningful words. A quote from one of the greats perhaps.

You better lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it, you better never let it go. You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime.”

So yes, come at me 40. I’m ready to lose myself, own it and give it a shot. Or is that down a shot?……. Cheers.

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Skinny Ramblings on…… Peony and Mint

I’m just going to put it out there – I love an accessory. A scarf, jewellery, handbags, (God especially a handbag…..) you name it, I pretty much want it and of course, need it in my life. So when my good friend Jo created her amazing business Peony and Mint showcasing all things us accessory addicts adore, I was right up there in the queue to see what goodies she had on offer.

And boy, are there goodies! Literally everything that makes me drool. Bags of all sizes, shapes, colours and fabrics. Ponchos, scarves, knitwear all in beautiful shades and the softest materials. Jewellery to cover all occasions from coffee with the girls, a night on the town to a wedding or day at the races. Beautiful gifts too, for adults and kids – Jo has saved my bacon on more than one occasion when I’m stuck for a last minute gift!

Last week she invited me and whole host of others to an accessory evening at the utterly fabulous Max’s Coffee Shop in Sutton Coldfield to showcase her collection of beautiful things and some lovely new stock that’s just arrived. Now call me old fashioned but a night of catching up with friends, having a nice glass of fizz (Oh yes, not just a coffee shop, can you see why I love this place??) and the chance to spend my hard earned cash on some pretty things? I’m in!!

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Prosecco in hand, it’s time to have a look round and the tricky part is deciding where to begin! I start with my absolute favourite – bags. Anyone who knows me knows full well I don’t exactly need any new bags but I’m no quitter – there is always room in the cupboard of handbag dreams for another addition. A couple of months ago I bought this bag from Jo and it’s honestly the bag I have used most all summer, it fits a ridiculous amount of stuff in and you can wear it with or without the strap so works brilliantly for day or evening. It also comes in just about every colour you can think of, I was tempted by rose gold, metallic grey and navy (to name a few!) but eventually chose berry which seems to be everywhere in the shops this autumn and a colour I am absolutely loving.

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Next up, scarves. I, like most Mums on the school run, love to rock a scarf and may or may not have a “few” in my wardrobe. (Hmm, there seems to be a theme here…) But, lets face it, like bags, there’s always room for one more. The pom pom scarves have been really popular for Jo and having one in summer colours already it goes without saying I just had to snap up an autumn one.

Another thing Peony and Mint is utterly fantastic for is gifts – and this was my ideal opportunity to start the dreaded Christmas shopping. There are so many choices, from gloves, socks, make up bags, compact mirrors and has options for every budget so it makes it a lot easier to pick up a few bits you know people are going to love. I managed to pick up some gorgeous gifts that will be kept hidden away until the big day, no peeking now!

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The jewellery is absolutely stunning, there’s a huge range of really unusual pieces and whether you are after earrings, bracelets, necklaces, chokers, pendants, you can definitely find something to cover everything from statement pieces (I’m a proud owner of this beauty which always gets loads of comments, I’ve had complete strangers asking me where I got it from!) to traditional, vintage and even multi tasking pieces (a bracelet that unwraps to turn into a choker anyone?)

These evenings are such a brilliant way to hunt down some really individual pieces at great prices, not to mention a perfect excuse for a catch up with friends over a glass of something nice! You can even host your own party, with some amazing discounts for the host. Anyone else further afield can simply order online at Peony and Mint  this even includes worldwide delivery!

Happy shopping! x

 

Disclaimer – This is a sponsored post but all love of sparkly things and handbags are, as ever, my own! 

 

 

 

The Art of Procrastination…….

It’s that time of the day / week when I sit myself down and tell myself I’m going to write some completely fantastic content worthy of calling myself a “blogger”. I do this most days, have a sit down and a little tap on the keyboard with the high hopes that creativity is going to come flooding out, blogs will be written, proof read, scheduled and maybe just maybe the beginning chapter of “the book” might finally find its way out of the murky depths of my mind and imagination and leap into print once and for all.

But first I have to make myself a coffee. Obviously. This blog hasn’t got the name it has for nothing. This girl LOVES her coffee. So there’s the tricky choice of which pod to pop into the machine – strong? Hints of cocoa? Super strength?? Then wait for it to gurgle its way through the machine into the little coffee cup of dreams (Nespresso I’m looking at you, that idea of yours to shape your cups like the pods? Genius) before I can grasp it away and sit inhaling that beautiful scent before wolfing it down. (They even do a coffee scented candle. And yes, of course I bought it, I am obsessed after all.)

Coffee made, lets sit down and do some work shall we. Oh wait, my phone pings and I have a WhatsApp message. This could vary between a few conversations I have at any one time. Family group chats, friends group chats, the daft pictures that my friend and I send each other that get out of hand at times but come on, some of those memes…… This one is from my cousin. She’s one of those who doesn’t text like normal people. This is a word or two and then press send, so you get about 27 notifications just to say hi. (If you’re reading this Cuz, don’t go changing, I love you but I’ll just turn the notifications off, the pinging is giving me tinnutis.)

Right, reply done. Chapter One. Oh wait, doorbell. Ooh ASOS order. God bless the Gods of ASOS and all their loveliness, I’ll just open it and then get on with what I’m doing……..hmmm, better try it on, what the hell was I thinking when I bought this? No, it needs to go back, I’ll just pop it back in the bag and do the returns label, maybe have a quick look at the website again in case they have something else?………

An email pings into my inbox. I’ll just see what that’s all about before I really make a start – a voucher code for half price mains at my favourite Italian you say? I start thinking about food, mouth watering, perhaps it’s time for lunch, after all I have been busy all morning?

As if by magic the little furry boss in our house looks at me with her extra sensory powers of perception and knows I just thought lunch. Pop a bowl of dinner down there in front of me this instant please Mother Slave and then you can take me for a nice walk. I give in, as always. It’s the eyes, the adorable head tilt that renders me totally useless. Ah well, maybe this will give me the ideas and inspiration I need while I’m pacing the pavements.

So off I pace. Halfway through I realise today is the day I forgot to put on my Apple Watch. These steps are now rendered futile, I won’t get my little beep telling me I reached my target, this is disappointing at best.

Home again after dog cuddles and biscuits. (Her, not me.) I have exactly two hours before school pick up. I can do this, open up the laptop, aw what is that cute pic on Instagram? The phone rings, should I let it go to answerphone? Won’t take long…

Phone call complete, two more coffees down and I start typing. This is good, this is going well, I have some tunes on in the background which just work. I’m feeling this, it’s going well, I am absolutely living the dream and nailing this working at home lark, I’m……

…..bloody late. It’s 3pm, school pick up time. Arrgggggghhhh. Still, there’s always tomorrow?

 

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City girl vs Country girl…. 

I’ve recently come back from being on a nice remote Cornish holiday, where the dodgy wifi was only second to the practically non existent phone signal, I didn’t do any online shopping and, had I bothered watching any, I only had a few channels on the TV. (CBBC was the only one of interest to the small person in the house. Great.)

To some? Nightmare. To me? Bliss. Apart from the annoyance of not being able to talk to people I was missing from home as often as I would have liked, the isolation was, for me, beautiful. No constant phones, no pinging of emails, well intermittent at best. Gorgeous scenery, beautiful countryside, no big shops and buildings, just peace and quiet.

It sort of reminded me of where I grew up. For pretty much my first 18 years of existence I lived in a tiny village at the top of a hill. Population not many. Amenities included a shop, a pub, a village hall and a butchers. The pub was bulldozed much to my Dad’s disgust and total heartbreak a couple of years after we moved in, the village hall was home to playgroup, to birthday parties, to ballet and badminton classes. The shop was the first place I was allowed to visit on my own, usually to fetch a 10p mix of sweets (showing my age but when we had half pence pieces you could get 20 sweets. Utter joy.) The village was where I would wander off in summer evenings, climb trees, ride my bike, just have fun. Loved it.

Until I was about 14. Then the realisation hit that I was a LONG way from any friends and school and I needed the taxi of Mum or Dad (always Mum) to get anywhere. This didn’t happen often. So I begged and begged for driving lessons at 17 and first time lucky (get in there) I passed and the world was my oyster.

And this was the best thing ever. I could get around, do the “town” thing, (mostly involved parties and sleeping in fields) experience the KFC drive through for the first time and go home to my little hilltop house quite happily.

Fast forward a year or so though and I did move, to the “town”. My mind was blown by the fact it had more than one pub, a Chinese restaurant, a shop that opened past 5pm. Happy days indeed. I lived there for eleven years and spent three very happy ones there. (We don’t talk about the other eight….) Then it was time to move again. This time, it was a big move. A cute boy with a twinkle in his eye persuaded me to move thirty miles away to, as far as I was concerned, the absolute bright lights and big city of a town which had, get this, proper shops, (like real ones you’ve heard of) supermarkets that aren’t just big but massive which you can spend all day in with clothes and music and cafes and toilets and stuff and open 24 hours! Takeaways that deliver to your actual house, a park so big I could get lost in it, wow, my mind wasn’t just blown, it was in smithereens. I spent much of probably at least my first year living here getting very lost in that big park, loving the takeaways and did on one occasion fully spend the day at Asda. No lie.

And that cute boy with the twinkle? Reader I married him. A city boy through and through who wouldn’t consider moving to the sticks for a second. No one here thinks this is a big place. Most people I know have moved here because it’s quieter than the bigger cities they’ve lived in before. I love it though, I can get my fix of wilderness in that big old park and even know my way round it a bit now. Best of all I can take my son, my little city boy to a tiny village on holiday and he adores it, he must take after Mummy just a little surely.

So if I had to choose? I’d be lying if I said a little place overlooking the beach in years to come would be a hardship, just need to convince that cute boy now who convinced me all those years ago…..

 

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Back to school…….

It’s here! It’s September! Call me old fashioned but I still love this time of year for all the new beginnings it brings, I celebrate by treating myself to a shiny new pen or notebook just to embrace that back to school feeling. I love having a nice big clear out of all the crap that summer accumulates – namely, as a Mum, the utter trash that my son seems to bring into the house. Sticks, Happy Meal toys, (seriously, I remember them being pretty good, is it me or are they really crap these days??) endless pictures which started as being utterly cute, joyful and display-on-the-fridge worthy but the last few weeks have become nothing more than a couple of bored scribbles, a tin containing seemingly half a Cornish beach, bits of lego that oh my God hurt when you stand on them, I could go on.

A few weeks back (six to precise) I posted this blog casually mentioning to fellow parents the fact that we had the following six weeks, 42 days and 1008 hours with our little cherubic offsprings. At the time that seemed immense, though I had more than a few ideas on how we were going to fill it, namely with finding that Cornish beach and staying on it for a long time. And stay we did. We had an utterly fabulous time, the thought of sticking name tapes into all the items of clothing for school was far from my mind. The thoughts of queueing for an eternity for school shoes and leaving a good £50 lighter, also far from my mind. But those weeks have flown quicker than a blink and although I’m proud to have made plenty of those good old “hashtag memories” this summer, I am also one of those happy creatures that will be skipping into school this morning, (naturally after taking the compulsory first day of term school photograph next to the front door) waving the littlest love of my life off with a smile before high fiving all the other parents I can get eye contact or catch up with while we are all scurrying out of that gate as quick as our heels can take us. Then to enjoy that well earned deep breath / strong coffee / peace and quiet that I’ve not had for the last six weeks. (I’m kidding. You know me well enough to know I’ve had plenty of strong coffee…..)

Some of the other things I will be looking forward to doing over the next few weeks are – (in no particular order)

  • (And I’m sorry for the graphic imagery of this one) Having a wee in peace without being burst in on with the door flung wide open (many kids do not care a jot if this is in public or not) whilst exclaiming loudly “Mummy look at this!” “Mummy guess what?”

 

  • Not having to feed said small person approximately every 40 minutes. At best. Now, I am completely aware these small people need feeding and that’s just fine, I can happily do breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between. It’s when they have had all of that but still want more. Or worse, the bored battle hunger-cry of “what can I haaaave??” Accompanied by a whiny voice. Obviously.

 

  • Not having to watch kids TV whenever the thing is on. Now, we’ve been lucky, we’ve thankfully not had time to watch too much but I can honestly say I have watched no grown up TV for ages. Don’t get me wrong, some I can cope with (Operation Ouch Doctor Xand I’m looking at you) but there is only so much a person over the age of 16 can take. (Mark Wright and your infernal den building, I’m looking at you.)

 

When my adorable little ratbag started reception two Septembers ago it was, of course, a different matter. I couldn’t believe he was about to set foot into “big school” and leave me. I folded all his uniform into his drawers, where he could reach it to help him get himself ready in the mornings. I cried that first morning I went home to an empty house. (Second day was fine, I went shopping alone, it was marvellous.)

You get over it, the sadness of them growing up and starting out in that big wide world pretty quick. As soon as they start coming home, bringing you the latest “creation” that the form teachers don’t want cluttering up the classroom with and you see how happy it makes them, it cheers you right up.

This year? I’ve named all the uniform feeling like an utter Mum boss. I’ve bought the shoes, I’ve packed the PE bag, I’ve even bought new water bottles after “bottle flip-gate” of Year One saw fit to end the life of the last ones. I’ve tried to fold the shirts into his drawer as I’ve done for the last two years and realised they are now big enough to hang in the wardrobe and worse still, he’s tall enough to reach them.

That ratbag of mine is growing up, it goes quick. It won’t be long before I write this as he leaves school, hopefully starts university, starts to travel the world and maybe, hopefully misses his Mummy a little bit, just as I’m going to miss him not being around so much right now.

And those loo-break interruptions, the mess, the chaos and noise of the summer holidays? I’m going to miss those too. Might need a few strong coffees…..

 

 

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The anatomy of a hypo…..

A what?? Well, for those of you lucky enough not to know what a hypo is, it’s a hypoglycaemic “episode”, a low, a wobble, or put simply, a total nightmare where, as a diabetic, your blood sugars fall and you experience something I frankly wouldn’t wish on anyone.

The textbook definition is –

“Hypoglycaemia means ‘low blood glucose levels’ – less than 4 mmol/l*. This is too low to provide enough energy for your body’s activities.”  – Diabetes UK.

I however, as a diabetic of almost twenty years, have a few more choice descriptions of it. They’re not always alike and thankfully certainly not something I experience often but last week the hypo Gods of delight decided I should be the lucky one to have a particularly grizzly and very rare one bestowed on me. I know, lucky me right?

Now I’m not suggesting this is the same for every diabetic, probably far from it, this is only my experience. The treatment is the same (sugar, glucose) but the process leading up to it, the feelings, the emotions might not be. This is just how it is from my perspective, I’m no medical professional!

So the first step, the first red light warning signal for me is overthinking. Now I’m guilty of this most of the time, I am that person at 4am stressing about the tiniest of things that in the cold light of day mean nothing. This for me means thinking about what I need to do, i.e. feeling the warning signs of low blood sugars and having some glucose tablets or jelly babies to treat it, yes, these count as medicine in my house, woe betide anyone who decides they’re going to pinch one! (I’m looking at you husband…..) but not actually getting round to doing it because you start thinking about a million other things that seem to be more important (and aren’t) and the initial sensible thought of “have a glucose tablet and you’ll be fine” gets put further down the pile. Worse still is the denial stage, the “I’m fine” stage. Generally I’m not. I should point out, hypos for me usually consist of “ooh, feeling a bit low, pop a glucose tablet and she’s back in the room” Unfortunately for me on this occasion, it wasn’t going to be that way.

Now at this stage, it usually would have been fine, I’d have reached for that glucose tablet (a little hero of pure sugar in pill form) and have solved it straight away. But the day in question I’d done that thing that girls do, changed my handbag (to a very nice one I may add) and didn’t put the glucose tablets in. Rookie error. So I think, “I’ll get something to eat. In a minute.” (You can kind of see where this is going can’t you?)

I start to shake a bit, start repeating myself, get more and more confused and time starts to stand still a little. I have no concept of how long I’ve been feeling like this, a few minutes can feel like hours.

Then the fun part. (Heavy use of sarcasm here) The trippy bit. Now speaking as someone who has never experienced the trippy part of any kind of hallucinogenic drug, this is only what I can imagine it to be like. Pretty sure it’s close though. The feeling of having an out of body experience. In your mind you sort of know what’s going on and you can move around, albeit in a confused kind of way that makes my occasional walking around the house wondering what I went into the kitchen for look really normal. Taking things out of my bag, putting them back in, repeating the same questions over and over again. For me this was also the part when realisation kicked in and it finally came back to me “I need sugar”. Find a shop, (thankfully one was close) and locate the sweetest thing available. Fudge. And at this stage I totally forgot how much I utterly HATE fudge. But never mind about that, I hand over the change, with tears running down my face to possibly the most confused shop assistant I’ve seen in a while. Only guessing but I’m sure flustered, sobbing, middle aged women don’t often buy fudge.

 
Outside again and I feel as though I’m a pinball, being batted from one side of the game to the other. Everything seems very dark despite it being a sunny day. Voices around me are deep and echoing like you hear on TV and films when everything goes into slow motion. I want to speak, to tell people around me what’s wrong but I can’t, I know what I want to say in my head but it won’t come out. Just squeaks and the occasional sob. I feel locked in my own head. I can feel people’s eyes burning into me. I’m hot, sweating, feeling overwhelmed by it all. I want to crumple as every part of me hurts. I want to hide, to get away from all this. Even fresh air hurts my head, my bones ache and my heart is going faster than it would if David Beckham himself was stood in front of me.

I wolf down (attractive, dainty little bites it ain’t) the fudge thinking firstly “please work quickly” and secondly “this is flipping disgusting” Now, I have to admit these weren’t the exact words and phrases that came to mind as the next stage for me is the good old sweary stage. Diabetes with a touch of Tourette’s perhaps. Nice.

The foul tasting sugary treat starts to kick in but slowly. I’m a little more aware of people around me and as if by magic, the next stage begins. The remorse. The shame. The embarrassment. In the cold light of day as I type this (actually quite warm, lying on a beach right now but that’s another story) I can totally see that none of this is anything to be embarrassed by. It’s an illness, these things happen and it’s ok, I’m ok. But at the time the total and utter embarrassment hits you like a slap in the face with a giant wet fish. Let’s face it, to any casual observers, the sight of a grown woman with tears running down her face, sweating like a pig, shaking, swearing and stuffing fudge down her neck as though her life depended on it is a bit weird.

But the simple fact is, my life did depend on that fudge. If I hadn’t have had that pile of sugar then I would have reached the next stages of a hypo which thank God I have never experienced and never wish to. The passing out, the coma, the part where you’re simply not around anymore. And call me old fashioned but that’s pretty scary.

When people say “oh you’re diabetic?” and give you the sympathy look, with head tilted to one side, you nod and explain (if asked) about the injections. “Oh I could never inject myself” they say. You assure them that it’s fine, it works, it keeps you alive. And then that’s the end of the conversation. A lot of people don’t know about the hypos, the side where it’s not so easy. A lot of people get confused by the “different types” of diabetes, aren’t sure if I need sugar or shouldn’t ever go near it. Not a problem, as a non diabetic, why should you know?

But next time you work with a diabetic colleague, meet someone who has it or have a friend who has it and you know little about it, just ask. That day last week has given me a nice sharp kick up the behind to remember to put my glucose tablets in my many handbags. I don’t want to feel like that again, it’s pretty grim. And I’m immensely grateful to the people I was with that day who pretty much saved my life. Sounds extreme but if I’d have been left without help, I’m never sure if I ever would make it.

Oh, and if you meet a diabetic who has a stash of jelly babies? Go near those sweets at your peril! (Still looking at you husband….😘)

 

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And the nominees are……

……I feel I need a great big gold envelope and a posh frock to say that, but in the absence of those I’ll go with the current situ of laptop and dressing gown. Anyway, last week I received a nomination for the Liebster award from Kloe of Kloe’s Lil Corner and I have to be honest, my initial reaction went along the lines of “What the heck is the Liebster award??” Obviously I turned to trusty ole Google and discovered that it’s an award for bloggers chosen by bloggers to discover new talent and share the blogging love basically, what’s not to love? Now as someone who’s only nominations in life tend to consist of invitations to Candy Crush I was massively flattered and ridiculously excited at the prospect of getting my ramblings out to hopefully a new bunch of people. (if you’re reading this for the first time well hello! Get comfy, pour yourself an obligatory coffee and enjoy!)

And, as part of the nomination, I have been given 11 questions to answer by Kloe, so here goes!

 

1.    Favourite Youtuber ? 

I have to admit, I was massively late to the YouTube party and have only just within the past year or so started following and watching Vlogs. I can for instance happily waste hours watching people show me the contents of their handbags and showing me their latest shopping and stationery hauls but I have to say my favourite is Brummy Mummy of 2. Her sense of humour is as daft as my own, her honesty in being a Mum is hilarious and she loves gin. Again, what’s not to love?!

 
2.    If you could own any animal which would it be and why ?

An Alpaca please. Ideally, in my twisted crazy dreams, I would like a massive garden and fill it with the fluffy, bonkers looking little guys.

 
3.    One thing you can’t blog / live without ?

Ooh tricky one! I can’t blog without the crazy workings of my head and as for something I can’t live without, it would have to be coffee.

 

4.    Favourite Hot Drink ?

See above! To say I would be lost without my Nespresso machine is a massive understatement. I love it that much, I even took it on holiday with me. Not even joking.

 
5.    If you could be president ( Prime minister ) for a day what would you do and why ?

Put coffee on prescription and throw in a few more bank holidays.

 
6.    If you could choose one person to read /see your blog who would it be and why ?

My absolute favourite blogger, the brilliant Hannah Gale. I started reading her blogs early last year and instantly fell in love with her writing style, honesty and completely fabulous fashion choices. (So much so she costs me a LOT of money on ASOS. Thanks for that). Put simply, she’s the one that made me read a blog, inspire me, think “I want to do this” and, along with a few close friends who basically talked me into it, helped me realise it. It would totally blow my mind to have someone whose blogs I love to read, read mine.

 
7.    Has blogging made you deal with any difficult situations ?

I wouldn’t say difficult situations as such but it has given me so much more confidence to believe in myself a little bit more. I never for a second thought I would ever be brave enough to put my ramblings out there but a few months in, having people tell me how much they like reading them means more than they know.

 
8.    Do you feel pressure to keep up your blogging schedule ?

When I started life in this crazy blogging world, I’d post pretty much whenever I thought of something to post about, a schedule was the last thing on my mind. I’d like to say I’m a little more organised these days and I guess because I genuinely love doing it, it’s definitely very low pressure!

 
9.    If you could make any book into a film which would it be and why ?

My little boys favourite book – “Kicking a Ball” by Allan Ahlberg. Clue is in the title to be fair, an utterly brilliant tale of loving football and the joy of “kicking a ball” totally made me, as a non football fan in a family full of them finally “get it.” I think it would be a brilliant film and I can recommend a fabulous six year old for the lead role!

 
10.    Favourite thing to do when you’re not blogging ?

Impossible to choose one and I won’t say drinking coffee. If I had to pick one favourite it would definitely have to be being snuggled under the blanket on the sofa with my little family, (son, hubby and dog) watching something daft on TV. Simple pleasures eh….

 
11.    If you could do any adrenaline activity which would it be and why  ?

Now, anyone who knows me well know that I’m not exactly an adrenaline junkie. That’s putting it mildly to be fair, my idea of hell would be anything water related or high up in the air for instance. Weirdly, and I can only stem this back to my childhood days watching Long Distance Clara on Pigeon Street I have always wanted to drive a great big truck round a racetrack. Does that count?? Hmmm…. probably not.

 

 

So now I’ve been nominated, which blogs am I reading and loving at the moment?

 

 

And the questions I’d like to throw out there next would be –

1. Who or what made you decide to blog? 

2. Coffee or Tea?? (there had to be a coffee related one…) 

3. Dream dinner party attendee

4. What blog subject you would like to write about but have either put off or not found the words for yet?

5. What would be your must have holiday essential?

6. Favourite chocolate bar? 

7. Do you have a favourite place or setting to write your blogs? 

8. If you could do one thing differently in life, what would it be and why?

9. What would be your secret ambition?

10. You have one outfit choice for the next year. What would it be? 

and finally….

11. How do you combat writers block? 

 

 

So yes, a little different blog post this week, loved having something new thrown in my direction! Info for the Liebster award can be found here, looking forward to reading the next wave!

 

 

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A letter to my six year old….

To my beautiful boy,

Wow, So this week marks your sixth birthday. Six! I know, it’s not as though you haven’t been ticking the days off the chart we made together three weeks ago or asking me incessantly for the last (at least) two weeks “how many sleeps now Mummy?” This is a big deal. Huge. We’ve had the chats about whether the birthday fairy (yep, that’s a thing in our house) got the memo about exactly what you’d like for your special day and checking that the birthday cake is definitely going to be chocolate. We’ve dug out the birthday T shirt (again, a thing in our house – a “tradition” that was started two years ago by default when the birthday shirt I bought arrived in a size big enough to last you until possibly your ninth birthday so we now obviously have to wheel it out every single year) and we’ve set everything in place to make it a special one.

It’s as much a special day for us as well as you, you see. At the risk of sounding like a #blessed Instagram Mummy, your birthday really does mark the day our lives changed forever. A few years before you came along, your Mummy and Daddy were told they could never have a baby and we found ourselves going through a really long time of doctors appointments, a hell of a lot of tears, a frustrating amount of frustration, the lowest lows imaginable but then ultimately, miraculously, the news we never thought we’d hear – that we were expecting you.

The morning that you came into this world started with me watching the news, completely wide eyed at what was going on in the world. Riots, fighting, looting – all the things that made me question what kind of world we live in, let alone bring a tiny baby into. But I had a job to do. I had what the doctors thought was an enormous baby (I wasn’t just pregnant, I was comedy-huge) to deliver and my eyes were watering at the very thought of it.

Now I won’t bore you with the details of your birth, you’re six after all and the last thing you need to know just yet are the finer points of all those sorts of shenanigans. All I’ll say is the day involved a very tasty McDonalds meal for Mummy (Big Mac – large, nuggets – nine and a Diet Coke, just to balance things out) a bet on the horses for Daddy (strangely he didn’t win, funny that) and the kind of thunderstorm that made the sky go black and Daddy make references to The Omen shortly before the doctors decided that Mummy had to be taken into theatre and you made your grand entrance shortly before 8pm that evening.

And the monster baby that my enormous pregnant belly promised me turned out to be the teeniest tiniest 5lb 7oz bundle of you. (Yep, it would seem that Mummy had just put on almost three stone single handedly, go me.) Hold tight for the huge cliche but my world did stand still for a few seconds when I held you for the first time and I made all my promises to you to keep you safe and have a ridiculous amount of fun together for ever and ever. I think that first night we spent together in hospital was the loveliest night of my whole life. I would pick you up, stare at you, cry a few little tears of joy, feed you, take what would be the first of the billion and twelve selfies we’ve so far amassed, (we’re absolute pro’s now six years on) pop you back in your cot and then repeat until Daddy came back the following morning. I got absolutely no sleep and I didn’t care a bit. I’d waited way too long for all of this and I wasn’t going to let the little matter of getting no sleep get in the way. (Little did I know I wasn’t going to get much for the next six years and counting anyway….)

We took you home a few days later and you met your first best mate – Lily dog. She is and always has been your partner in crime in football, hunting for biscuits and taking up all the bed. She has also had the unfortunate honour over the years of being blamed for more than a few “japes” that she wasn’t necessarily responsible for. (I think you’ll find Schnauzers don’t have opposable thumbs and therefore couldn’t possibly be the perpetrator of drawing on the sofa with your favourite felt tip….just saying.)

You also proved to be a natural at sport and pretty much take after everything your Daddy does at an early age. From swinging a golf club before you could even walk to kicking a football at every opportunity, I’m very glad to say you don’t take after your completely non-sporty Mummy in that department. No, from me you’ve got your short temper – sorry about that, not forgetting your completely bonkers sense of humour. (Again, sorry…..)

You see I thought it was a good idea when I told you that our central heating was powered by a Dragon called Bob. It seems that you followed this “unusual” imagination of mine when you told me that Fat Cat over the road comes and plays football with the squirrels in the garden when we go out. (Apparently Lily dog is the referee as it can often get completely out of hand. As it would I suppose.)

These days you make me giggle and want to tear my hair out in equal measure. You’ve taught me a good few things though. Like not to bother trying to plant nice flowers in the garden because they’ll get trashed by not one football but seven. Or how small boys can get through a LOT of hair gel because “hair matters Mum”. How no matter how many cute clothes Mummy puts in your wardrobe, you’ll just want to wear one football kit constantly. Or how no matter how cool you are in front of your friends, doing the dabbing, the bottle flipping and being just a little bit cocky, you’ll still be snuggled up to Mummy that night with your favourite teddy that hasn’t left your side since you were tiny and sucking your thumb.

Happy birthday my crazy boy. I hope one day you’ll read this knowing that when Mummy was doing her “writing stories” thing, this one was for you. xx

 

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“It’s not about being a grown up….”

“……..It’s convincing everyone else that you are one.”

Said my cousin when I saw her recently. We were chatting about getting older (as you do and because shhhh, not sure if I mentioned it but a milestone birthday is a-knocking at the door soon. Yeah I know, I kept it quiet didn’t I?)

This got me thinking. In my head I am definitely not a grown up but on paper, it would appear I am one – I am married, I have my name on mortgages and insurances and all sorts of important grown up stuff. I am a Mother. Of an actual human being who I manage to keep alive by cooking stuff and feeding him. I drive a car, I have a beautifully (some may say surprisingly) unblemished driving record. I actively enjoy baking and on the rare days that I get to the bottom of the ironing basket I feel a massive sense of achievement to the point where it makes me really quite happy. I like watching TV shows about sewing. I quite like a hot drink before I go to bed and speaking of which, I am happiest when my bedtime falls just before 10pm.

All those things are pretty damn grown up surely?

But on the flipside, I love a good browse on ASOS thinking I’m still in my twenties and can wear whatever the hell is in fashion. When I have a few glasses of fizz I truly believe I am an international megastar and could almost definitely be a viable replacement for any of the hotties in Little Mix. I’m convinced that my teenage years were only a few years ago when in actual fact they were an entire generation ago. Then I see the pictures and realise no, I’m old. Not crazy old, I mean I know I’m not getting a telegram or anything yet but how come the big 4-0 is more of a shocker than any milestone age I’ve passed so far?

I think it’s because milestone things have started happening too. Good things, great things, like friends having their third babies, or friends children and family members who I think are still about 12 are suddenly graduating and now have better jobs than I’ve ever had. But bad things too. Really bad. Like friends getting ill. The kind of ill where you question everything you’ve ever known and realise you’ve reached that age where these things happen more. You question your own health, the world around you, the meaning of it all. You start to realise that if you’re lucky, you’re halfway through and it goes bloody quick. Best start enjoying it.

So you start to re-evaluate what’s important and what’s not. Friendships for instance. They come and go and you begin to realise that sometimes when they do go, perhaps it’s for the best. The ones closest to you become really close. It’s not important anymore (heck, was it ever?) to have lots of BFF’s, I’m happier all day long with a few I can count on one hand but I do know whether I send a daft meme to make them laugh or a text proclaiming how utter rubbish my day has been, they will definitely be there with a shoulder to offload on or a witty comeback.

You start to realise it’s not important anymore to worry about what people think. The constant “what if” that sits on your shoulder prompting you to question even the most normal thing, eases away a little. You start to remember that the diets you start on a Monday and end on Tuesday afternoon (or more often that not, also Monday) are a total waste of time. Life is for living, not for squelching into green mush and calling it a health kick.

I may be almost 40 on the outside but inside I can range from anything between 5 and 95 depending on my mood. Picking up my prescription? I’m 70. Having a lightsaber “fight” with my son? I’m 5 again (competitive 5 mind you).

I’m still not sure I can convince many people I’m a grown up just yet. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’m ready to be one all the time anyway. Part time adulthood it is then. Who’s with me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Schools out for summer…

It doesn’t seem five minutes since my Facebook newsfeed was flooded with images of fresh shiny kids standing next to the front door in their slightly-too-big-and-the-cleanest-it’s-ever-going-to-be uniform and a grin that, dependent on age, ranged from “Check out my new shoes, they flash” to “If you post this on Facebook I’m literally never going to forgive you”. That was way back in September when us Mums and Dads would pack the school bags the night before, reply to any school memo super quick, knew all the important dates in the school calendar and arrived at school in plenty of time for both drop off AND pick up. Now it’s July it’s more a case of rub the shoes with a baby wipe to get rid of yesterdays / last weeks mud, have a quick look in the bag to check for the latest thing we have to pay £1 for whilst throwing out the remains of a half eaten carrot (yes, genuine fact from last week) and just about manage to chuck them through the classroom door before the bell goes. How things change.

Because now it’s time for the school holidays. All six weeks, 42 days, 1008 hours of them. Time for fun, sun, quality family time and some good old hashtag “making memories”. Now, my almost six year old could not be happier about this. As a kid the six week holidays are awesome. I remember spending much of my earlier ones with my Dad who worked from home and used to let me get away with quite a lot while Mum was at work. Things you could never fathom doing these days, like letting a ten year old go out on her bike all day with a pound note in her pocket and not giving a hoot what she was up to. (Spoiler – I’d cycle around aimlessly for hours with a quick stop off at the pub, where I would treat my bad self to a bitter lemon and a packet of cheese and onion. Very understanding landlords in those days.) Then a few years on in the grumpy early teen years I would spend much of the holidays in my bedroom listening to the Radio 1 roadshow, wondering if I would ever be cool enough to go to something like that. And listening to Simon Bates’ “Our Tune” and loving the fact that Gary and Rita really did get together in the end. I digress……..

In later teen years it became far more fun. Going up to the shopping mall and walking around all day, sometimes with money to spend, usually not. The outfit planning that went into those days was insane but usually involved a jumper from the Sweater Shop or one of those Global Hypercolour tees that I unfortunately couldn’t wear after the age of 14 due to two parts of said T shirt glowing a bit more than the rest of it.

Just like the way our parents bang on about the summer of 1976, our summers did always seemed sunny and seemed to go on forever. I don’t remember any mad panics to find fabulous things to do or feeling the need to fill the days with anything in particular. Or anything costing a fortune. So with this in mind I intend on filling my son’s summer holidays with the following –

 

  • Several pyjama days. These consist of waking up, staying in pyjamas, watching cartoons, maybe a spot of colouring, more cartoons and eating popcorn.

 

  • Playing games. We like to go retro with these, no FIFA in this house just yet, we’re still on Snakes and Ladders and even that gets pretty competitive. If Mummy is feeling particularly willing we might try Twister, where I give up almost immediately due to being a) old, b) knackered and c) not very flexible and try and persuade the dog to play instead. (Not easy when it’s a small Schnauzer and she can’t do back left paw yellow, right front green…)

 

  • Visiting the seaside. Unfortunately what with living ridiculously far from the seaside, this normally entails a cheery packing of the cool bag and much excitement  before realising three hours in to the journey that it’s a bloody long way and why did we choose this for a day trip again?

 

  • Mini golf. In our house this isn’t solely reserved for holidays. As often as possible is the preferred choice and again, the competition gets a little fierce. It’s getting to the point where I have to try really hard to beat the small child who, when he gets hold of a golf club, turns into Rory McIlroy.

 

  • Ice cream. Because summer. Ahhh come on, I don’t need to explain this one do I??

 

  • Baking. Not the kind where you and the child are dressed in beautiful Mummy and me aprons and produce Instagram worthy muffins with hashtags such as #funwithmummy #bakingsuperstar and #futurechef. Nooooo, because we ALL know these things Do Not Happen. I’m talking about the kind of baking on a rainy day where it starts off well but as soon as you’ve asked them to lay the cake cases on the tray and given them a chance to stir any mix that is actually left in the bowl they’ve completely lost interest and you’re left doing it. Then, when Daddy arrives home they take credit for the whole lot. Great.

 

So yes, my summer diary is planned doing all of these. It’s a shame the classic TV show “Why Don’t You” doesn’t exist anymore so I could get some more ideas but I reckon baking crap cakes whilst dressed in our PJ’s is going to be pretty perfect. Here’s to the summer!

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Skinny ramblings on…… Absolute Collagen

Disclaimer! This is a sponsored post, but all opinions and ramblings are, as ever, my own! 

A couple of weeks ago I was asked if I would like to review a skincare product relatively new to the market – Absolute Collagen Daily Dose of Beauty. Advertised as “drinkable skincare” I was more than a little intrigued as whenever new products come on the market making any sort of promises of anti ageing I’m usually right there in the queue wanting to give it a go and lets face it, what’s not to love about the prospect of a fab new skincare treat to try?

First impressions when I opened the box? Yellow! It’s super bright packaging looks fab, really bright and eye-catching and consists of a neat little box containing your 14 days worth of supplements. Now, as much as I’m the first to want to try these new fangled potions, I have to say I’m a bit (a lot) sceptical about these sort of things so the thought of a gel to drink each day made me a little nervous – would it taste foul? Would it actually do anything?? More to the point would it be safe for me to take – I’m Type 1 diabetic so obviously have to be a teeny bit careful with these sort of things.

Thankfully I had nothing to worry about. These little beauties are free from lactose, gluten and dairy, have no artificial colours, flavours or sugars, don’t affect blood cholesterol and are free of any nasty fats or hidden extras. So nothing to worry about on the “what the hell is in this” front.

Next up, the taste test. Now I’m not going to lie, I had every inkling these would be disgusting. We all know things that are supposed to be good for you usually do but you know what? It actually tastes nice! It’s flavoured with lemon and I then realised (when I read the packet) that you can mix it into smoothies, juices, or even just plain old water so there’s more than one way to skin this cat. Kind of like the Creme Egg thing of “how do you eat yours” there are a few different options on the website to help you choose. Me? Down in one. #hardcore.

Aside from how pretty the packaging is (very) and how it doesn’t taste completely foul (honest) let’s just get right into what these things even do. (The science bit!) To put it in a nutshell, as kids we have a load of collagen to make our skin plump and smooth, hair thick and healthy and nails nice and long and scratchy but as we get older it just starts to disappear. In fact after the age of 25 it depletes pretty fast and by 40, we’ve lost around a third of the stuff. Scary huh?! This is the part where we start finding wrinkles and things start to erm, sag. So the guys at Absolute realised that the best way to help this is to boost it all from the inside, making everything just a little more youthful. It even helps to assist muscle recovery after workouts (so less of the squealing in pain the day after a HIIT workout) and can even sort out skin troubles like adult acne and eczema. It has 9g of protein in each little sachet so gives you a nice little boost (a single egg has 13g for you gym bunnies out there) and boasts a joyfully measly 36 calories.

Too good to be true? Five days in, my skin started to look a little more plumped and smooth and I could see a difference. A fortnight in and even after a heavy weekend (and my God, it was) when my skin would usually break out into Prosecco induced pimples, it’s clear and dare I say glowing, I’m seriously impressed.

Even my husband (who barely noticed when I completely changed my hair colour not so long ago…) commented that my skin looked smoother. Compliment indeed! Plus, my nails aren’t chipping like they usually do and my hair is as shiny as Lassie’s right now so I’m pretty thrilled.

In short, I like this stuff! So much so, I’ve placed another order for the next fortnight and definitely plan on keeping this up. You can even subscribe so you get a pack fortnightly and you don’t even have to lift a finger, how cool is that?

If you want to give this a try, and I promise you it’s worth it, why not take a look at http://www.absolutecollagen.com or contact Jayne@absolutecollagen.com.

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The week I made my Mother homeless…..

Don’t get me wrong, she’s not in a cardboard box in the park drinking Special Brew out of a paper bag, I’m not a completely evil offspring. But there are quite a lot of cardboard boxes (thankfully not containing Mother) in storage while she stays with us until her new home is ready.

She’s living out of more than a few suitcases, not really knowing when the big moving day might be. Because solicitors and estate agents take forever and lets face it, if you charge people for you to open an envelope you’re on to a winner and I guess you don’t have to rush too much?? (Apologies for any estate agents / solicitors reading but come on guys??!)

It all started a few months ago. Mum mentioned she’d quite like to move house. The home she’d been in for a few years had a lot of steps and being sensible / planning for the future and all that it was decided it was time for a change. We thrashed out a few options on nearby towns and villages to where she was living and I popped over one day to help in the best way I know how – making lists. Pros and cons of this and that town, the choice between a bungalow or flat, terrace or detached, or whether she even liked the look of it or not. (Quite a few were discounted on this alone. “Ugly house”, “Not with those windows”)

Several coffees later and we ended up with not many pros. One was perfect on paper but in the wrong location. One had no parking, handy for the shops mind and one was in the perfect spot but just needed too much work. Short of getting Phil and Kirstie on speed dial this was going to prove tricky.

Then I asked a question which up until then genuinely hadn’t popped into either of our minds.

“Would you ever consider moving nearer to us?”

Now, we live and have lived a good hours journey from Mum for the last 12 years. It’s been a ridiculous 22 years since I officially flew the nest (bar a brief few months in my mid twenties when everything went spectacularly wrong and I too was slightly homeless for a while but that’s another story….) So Mum and I don’t get to see each other as much as we’d like to and the cogs started turning in our heads. Turns out this fleeting idea had legs and boy did we begin to run.

A new Right Move search was started, new lists written and viewings made. Not particularly easy when one of you lives 50 miles away and couldn’t always come to the appointments so it was left to me to channel my inner “Lucy” from Homes under the Hammer and cast my beady eye over some nice but also some absolute horrors of flats and apartments. One in particular stank so badly the second I walked in I turned around and retreated pretty quick, knowing that this one had no hopes of making any of the lists. Apart from maybe a condemned one.

Finally we found the one. One that we both managed to make the viewing for, one that ticked all the boxes and one that left Mum actually excited rather than the standard previous responses of “it’s nice but…..” An offer was made and accepted and the wheels of stress and excitement were set in motion.

And in true form with moving house (seriously, why is it so hard??!) those wheels slowed down a bit, a lot, to the point where the moving dates absolutely did not align and we created “homeless Mother”. Oops. As if I haven’t put her through enough, like the time I decided to shred the new shower curtain with a pair of scissors when I was about 6. Or the time I dyed my hair jet black and went through the goth stage at 15. Or the time I had a house party when they were on holiday and the police were called. Sorry Mum.

It only dawned on me the total enormity of the situation when I was on my way down to her last week to help her move and bring her up here. She’s lived in that area for 37 years. Settled her family and two year old daughter who started playgroup, then to the local school. Made so many friends at local clubs, worked bloody hard to make sure I could have the latest stupid craze or attend yet another extra curricular activity I would no doubt be rubbish at. (I’m looking at you saxophone lessons…) Then she retired and started living a new life of travelling, making new friends and became a Grandma (and a bloody great one at that.) Looking out of the train window before it pulled into my old home town I felt emotional, realising I hadn’t just asked if she’d ever consider spending more time with us. I’d asked her to start again.

And like the absolute star she is, she wanted to. She gets the chance to see her Grandson grow up, to come to sports day and do all the nice things Grandma’s do (like feed them biscuits and then sit back and watch the sugar rush.) The excitement I think outweighs the stress so far, though get back to me in another week or so for updates on that one….

After we dropped her keys to the agents and started the journey to her new home town we took a detour. To the cemetery. I had to pop in and let my Dad know that she’s with me now, his girls are looking after each other.

And look after each other we will. Welcome home Mum. x

 

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Starting the celebrations…..

So there’s an ugly rumour that I may have a big birthday approaching in a few months time. I say big, this thing is looming over me like a giant tax bill wearing a high vis jacket and as much as I’m attempting to embrace it, it’s a little daunting to say the least. But, in a brave attempt to a) encourage the realisation of said birthday and b) a pretty fine excuse for a bloody good get together with the girls, a few of us headed off for a weekend away at Centerparcs to be at one with nature, catch up on some R&R and be thoroughly outdoorsy. Or, to look at it from another point of view, to sit on a patio drinking prosecco and eating our body weight in cheese until it’s time to come home.

With that in mind I thought I’d put together a few observations that hit me this weekend. Going straight in at number one……

  • Barbecuing is NOT difficult. I was a barbecue virgin before this weekend and I have to say, seeing various family members and friends (always male in my experience) over the years preside over the barbie wielding a pair of tongs as though their life depended on it I thought there was obviously some sort of art in it all. No. However, I can confirm I now totally “get it”. There is something immensely satisfying about throwing those sausages on, giving them a little twirl now and again, sipping a cold one whilst doing it all and then presenting it to the hungry masses. I loved it so much I decided to do the ultimate cliche and ….

 

  • ……..Toast some marshmallows. My God, these are so good and was possibly my most popular idea all weekend aside from “lets have beer for breakfast.” For reference, you absolutely need massive marshmallows, not the daft little ones, chocolate sauce is a fabulous added extra and even the serious doubters will think you a culinary genius rather than believing your idea is a throwback from Girl Guide camp in the 80’s.

 

  • It’s not just five year old girls who like pottery painting. Again, there were serious doubters in the camp to begin with but it’s amazing what a few pots of paint, the challenge of coming up with something that doesn’t look as though it was thrown together by a two year old and an hour and a half time allowance does for you. From pet bowls and cupcakes to a cat mug for the craziest cat lady I know, the girls did good. Yes, we were the only adults in there without children but when would you ever not want a pottery cupcake on your kitchen windowsill??

 

  • A spa experience on paper is pure relaxation. In real life? It’s five women wandering into various steam rooms, trying not to sit on anyones lap because you can’t see a bloody thing and spending approximately ten seconds of blissful relaxation before loudly exclaiming “it’s hot isn’t it?” before being given daggers (not that you can see them) or the oh-so-British cough of disapproval. Then repeating this process for all six areas of zen-like pamperage until you reach the end, lie down on a sunbed outside, wish you’d done this bit all along and nod off, dribbling slightly before being woken as your time limit is up. Oh and when they say each steam room has delightful aromas they don’t tell you that one in particular smelt of what we could only pin down as sage and onion stuffing. Not that pleasant when all you can think of is a roast dinner and you look a bit like a basted chicken.

 

  • It doesn’t matter how long you’ve all been friends for, how much you love them and how you would do anything for each other, when it comes to mini golf it gets competitive. Friendships end when you collect that golf club and may only return, often with a grimace when the scores are announced. Every hole is started with “where do I have to go again?” and ended with someone feeling they’ve either just put on the green jacket at The Masters or has totally lost count of their shots, lost the ball or frankly lost the will. Oh and not that it matters but I WON!

 

  • When the party leader books roller skating as an activity, it definitely has to be cancelled. Five women who struggle in high heels at the best of times are not really going to do brilliantly on wheels. There was fear of maiming a small child, also of sustaining broken bones which wouldn’t be good to explain in the real world. Back to the patio girls, back to the patio….

 

And what a patio it was. Hot sunshine all weekend, jokes that only friends who have absolutely no filter appreciate, a steady supply of olives, cheese and nibbles and enough Mickey taking out of the soon to be birthday girl to make me feel slightly better about the whole thing. Better enough to consider celebrating this a LOT over the next few months.

I could get used to this…..

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Running up that hill…..

Picture the scene – it’s possibly the hottest day we’ve experienced here in the UK for quite a while so I decided in my absolute wisdom that it’s high time for a new hobby.

Running.

Now I have to be honest here, I’ve not done any serious running for a while. Let me rewind us all to the late 80’s where eleven year old me was chosen (by a PE teacher who was evidently ridiculously short on candidates) to represent my year group at the 800m. Having conveniently wiped much the experience from my increasingly addled brain I don’t recall any particular training, just the terrifying end where I spectacularly collapsed in a heap in last place and rounded it all off in style with an asthma attack. Not cool.

Or perhaps a little later, the mid 90’s. This time in High School where the cross country consisted largely of whingeing about having to do it in the first place (it was always raining) then making a half ditched attempt at the first chunk of the course where the teachers could still see you and then do one or more of the following –

1) Go to your mates house for a bit

2) Go to the chippy

3) Have a fag

Again, really not cool.

So my running career never really took off to be honest. I tried again a little after my thirtieth birthday, presumably in the mindset of “I’m getting on a bit and need to get fit” and joined an actual running club. Which was brilliant! I did, dare I say, quite well, but then I got a puppy. And I felt so guilty leaving her to go to the park and take myself off for a run instead of taking her for a walk that I stopped going. Yet again, this girl wasn’t going anywhere fast.

Fast forward to two weeks ago. Hottest day of the year, gym clothes on and I find myself in the park with Lily-dog. Now she’s got even smaller legs than me but for some reason we started to run. Emergency toilet stops aside (her, thankfully not me) we somehow managed to do a slightly sweaty 2.5 kilometres, during which we did the usual route we normally take which in my mind was at least 5k. It’s really not, who knew?!

The goal in my head was indeed the magic 5k but this proves to be not quite as easy as I thought. Firstly, 5k is a lot further than you think. Secondly, I have found that my pace is just a teeny bit slower than that tortoise guy who raced the hare. Thirdly when Lily-dog spots something she wants and needs to investigate, it must be done immediately and she quite frankly doesn’t give a monkeys who the daft woman on the end of the lead is never mind what she’s trying to achieve.

I also found that a little like when bikers pass each other on the road, if you pass another runner at any point in your quest you must greet them. The first person who I passed looked to be a lady around the same age as me and struggling only a little less. Miraculously we both managed an out of breath “morning” to each other.

Then of course, there’s the kit. The outfits, the accessories, the equipment. From the old man who passed me yesterday dressed in a shirt and trousers, looking as though he’s off to the library but running for everything he’s worth, to the ones with all the latest gadgets. Me? I’m usually the first to be the one with “all the gear and no idea” but this time standard gym kit is working just fine. (The problem lies with where you keep your keys, your phone, your lip balm – you know, the essentials?)

Then on Saturday morning, I drop my little one off at his football training and off Lil and I go to the park for a “nice little walk”. She decides to chase a bird and I’m dragged after her. And we don’t stop. Whether this is Lily-dog trying to coax Mummy into “just bloody do it” or something in me thinks the same, we channel our inner Forrest Gump and just keep running.

First kilometre? Easy. Shocked at how we got there so quickly. (Lulled into false sense of security basically). Second kilometre? Lil wants to inspect an interesting exhibit of fox poo that would be oh so lovely if she could just have a little roll in it but no, we keep on. Third kilometre? Not going to lie, it hurts a bit. One particular hill I am forced to stop for a minute before my lungs explode out of my chest and I am convinced this could be my untimely end. This, typically, takes place just as the Saturday morning running club start to pass me so I naturally attempt to style it out by pretending I’m adjusting the settings on my watch which is telling me to keep moving, drink water and just get on with it.

Then, at the fourth kilometre I experience what I have only heard about in running folklore. The divine bit, the part when you don’t feel like you’re dying, you can totally do this and sssh don’t tell anyone but this is quite fun? (Not a word I ever thought went with running…) I get into a decent pace (easy for me to say, I have no idea but it feels as though it’s going quite well) and it’s all good. It’s sunny, Lil is trotting along next to me, all six of our little legs are coping and all is well with the world. Suddenly my watch buzzes. I’ve only bloody gone and done 5 kilometres. The goal is reached! (At this point a little bit of me, no actually quite a big bit, thinks “Thank God for that, we can go home.”)

This is it, Lily-dog and I are the new Brownlee brothers, let’s just sign ourselves up to every fun run going. She gives me a look which translates to something like “We did it Mummy!” but is possibly more along the lines of “Get me home in the next five minutes you mad woman so I can lie in my basket and lets never speak of it again”.

Until next time that is. IMG_1654

A day at the races…

“Fancy coming to Ascot?” was the question I was asked a few months ago. Hell yeah! A new posh frock, the oh-so-rare chance to get glammed up, perhaps a little flutter on the gee-gees?

Fast forward to the here and now, Saturday morning to be precise, stupid o’ clock to those who don’t have small children (so a walk in the park for us…) we climbed on the coach and let the madness commence. I say madness, I mean the 25 things that ALWAYS have to happen at a day at the races.

  1. You get dressed, put a fascinator the size of a small satellite dish on your head, then proceed to bash your head not one but several times before you even leave the house. You also try it on the right and the left side of your head as it doesn’t have a label in it and you really haven’t a clue which way it’s suppose to go on.
  2. You ask your husband how you look. And receive the standard answer “Fine”. Without him actually looking. This is not fine.
  3. You arrange to meet before 8am. But get there 20 minutes late due to the satellite dish on your head and having to force your husband to put towels down in the back of the car so you and your friend don’t have to sit in dusty doggie footprints in your posh new frocks.
  4. You pile on the coach and the men in the party spend a good twenty minutes attempting to work the iPad so sport can be watched. Most important. Of course the wifi only occasionally works. This causes much frustration.
  5. Drinks are offered. It’s 9am but exactly the same as when you go on holiday, arrive at the bar in the airport, think “ahh, why not (or words to a similar effect” and start on the fizz.
  6. You have never been so blinking careful in your whole damn life not to spill a drop of the fizz. Because of the frock. This could ruin the day right?
  7. General consensus around the females of the group – your satellite dish headpiece is on back to front. It is promptly turned around, selfies are taken, head is bobbed around a little, you decide you like it better the other way, swap it back and hope for the best.
  8. You arrive and everyone has to make a mad dash for the portaloos due to the fizz consumed thus far.
  9. Your feet begin to hurt. Heels and grass do not go together.
  10. Champagne on arrival and free wine on the table. Lots of it. This could possibly get messy.
  11. You take several arty Instagram shots of the table, the menu, the race card and of course your sunglasses that look cool in the picture and makes it look as though it was just a quick snap and not as try hard as it so obviously was.
  12. You make a vague attempt to study the race card. Words such as “form” and “going” are mentioned. You do what you always do in situations such as these and pick the prettiest colours of either horse or jockey and obviously names that “mean something”. Even if it’s a place name of somewhere you went once. (I’m talking about you Dartmouth.)
  13. You go down to the parade ring in the vain hope of spotting a Royal. You decide any Royal will do as long as you can get a good photo. One Land Of Hope And Glory and a National Anthem later, a carriage comes past. It’s only the blooming’ Queen! She looks amazing, you feel very proud to be British and know your Nana would have loved this.
  14. Husband shows you a “selfie” he did when the Queen came past. You are a bit gutted you didn’t think of that idea. Seriously.
  15. The first race. You fight your way through the crowds and stand at the Grandstand, attempting to find a spot where you can preferably see the racecourse, aren’t squished next to a sweaty man in a suit who has been well acquainted with the beer tent and where you have at least a vague chance of seeing a horse.
  16. Winner!!!! The horse you picked actually wins! Your way of picking horses obviously works! This is flawless, this is perfect, oh wait. You put it on a place pot not to win. Prize winnings? Nowt. Husband on the other hand has had the first three horses and waves his winning slip in your face. Rude.
  17. You fight your way back to the table and try a different method of choosing a horse and decide to watch the race from there. You lose again.
  18. You do some people watching outside and feel you could make this into a decent pastime. Marks are given on outfit choice and how drunk they are.
  19. You receive a message from a friend you didn’t know was there. You get quite excited, message each other all afternoon with the same texts “where are you”, “By the Grandstand” and still don’t manage to meet up. Sorry Nick.
  20. Final race. You have one chance left to win your fortune. The place pot has failed you, your carefully chosen pretty colours, even the £20 worth of random bets that you picked out of a lucky dip haven’t worked. You place your final bet, have another glass of wine, cross your fingers aaaaannnnddddd……
  21. …….Lose again.
  22. Band stand time. Singalong time. For the first few, it’s a bit awkward. Then they play Sweet Caroline and the party starts. People are verrrrrrr drunk by now. We all have another glass to celebrate the fact we’re still standing.
  23. Time to find the coach. One of our party didn’t get the memo that we’d all walk back together so wanders off to find it himself. In the rain. Comes back to find us half an hour later soaking and steaming slightly.  (Rain mainly, not alcohol.) Hilarity ensues.
  24. We all make it back to the coach without getting too wet from the rain, without losing anyone, without sinking into the grass in those perilous heels, without being too inebriated and yes, without any money.
  25. The next day you casually, yet with a slight sense of dread google “worst dressed at Ascot” to ensure you haven’t been papped. Phew. Got away with it.

 

Same again next year then??

 

What on earth goes on in the mind of a small child…

Today, when I picked my son up from school I received the dreaded “curly finger” from his class teacher beckoning me over for a quick chat. This is always accompanied by three things.

  1. The feeling of utter dread in the pit of your stomach as you wonder exactly what your little darling has done this time.
  2. The hastily assembled excuses you attempt to come up with in your head to counteract said deed.
  3. The side eyes from the other Mummies on the playground that are all secretly high fiving themselves, just glad that its not them today.

Off I trot and I end up having yet another one of those conversations where I am in constant amazement, bewilderment and disbelief at the intricate, or otherwise, workings of my five year olds tiny, crazy mind.

Kids have active imaginations, we all know that. Mine though manages to find that fine line of “active”, take a javelin and leap waaaaaayyy over that line until he crosses into the territory I like to call “bloody bonkers”. Today’s news was that he announced to his teacher that Daddy was going to be working away for a while. In Japan. For fifty days. And not only would Mummy miss him terribly, so would his five brothers.

This is from a child whose Daddy is most definitely not popping to Japan anytime soon, definitely not for fifty days and who has no brothers or sisters. I have enough on my plate with one, let alone six of the little darlings.

Strange, yes. Comical, definitely. Perhaps not quite as bad though as the time he told his reception teacher that I was going to move to Paris and leave Daddy and him at home.  God knows what I was going to be doing in Paris, it wasn’t ascertained, sounded fun though. I’m not going to lie, there have been more than a few times when the thought of escaping to Paris to drink wine and eat croissants all day sounds pretty appealing. Or the time he told his friends about a brother (yes, another one) who met a sticky end in a race car. That one took some explaining to the teacher and resulted in a chat about “appropriate stories”.

Or the time when he came downstairs to tell me we had a family of squirrels who had recently moved into the loft and advised me that they needed an iPad and a large packet of biscuits to make their stay more enjoyable.

Oh and that he’s suddenly allergic to bees. Again, utter fabrication. “This one time” (I have to stop myself from adding “at band camp”) he was rushed to hospital and had to stay for several days after being stung, developing an enormous arm which also happened to have superpowers, with which he would entertain the rest of the ward, the nurses and possibly any other siblings he’d created.

Yes, my son doesn’t so much embellish the truth, he likes to wrap it all up in a big sheet of gold lame, add a gigantic bow and sprinkle a barrel load of glitter on it. Simple questions such as “what did you have for lunch today sweetheart” can be met with answers such as  “snails with jelly” or “we didn’t have lunch today, we went out to the fairground down the road instead.”

On a family trip out to a theme park he announced that he’d “been here before Mummy, on a school trip.” Got really cross when I said no darling, this definitely would be something Mummy would have had to give permission for. No, no, it was true, it happened and he went on to describe rides that didn’t exist, presumably made up of all the best and obviously THE most dangerous and thrilling fun a five year old can possibly imagine.

I suppose I do have to hold myself partly responsible for these shenanigans mind you. Who’s not going to encourage a little imaginative play here and there, although I suppose telling him the boiler works because there’s a baby dragon in there who breathes fire when we need heat is only going to fuel the fire. So to speak.

I suppose all this will come in useful whenever he has to do any creative writing at school, or he could perhaps put it to use in a future career – hmmm, tall tales, out and out lies – Politician? Estate agent? Editor of the Daily Mail??

Right, I’m off to feed those squirrels………

Happy Father’s Day

With it being Father’s Day on Sunday, I thought I’d best look lively and get myself to the shops to get the cards. As I do every year, I pick the one from my five year old to his Daddy first. This is always something along the lines of a gorilla picture or something about “Daddy bear” what with hubby being a pretty hirsute kind of guy. It will take a long time to write seeing as my son isn’t exactly proficient at shorthand just yet and also is very keen to embellish any greetings cards with pictures, possibly stickers or just ridiculous statements (for instance Nanny’s Mother’s Day card this year almost said “I love you more than Aston Villa” – he hates the Villa.)

Then it’s the turn of finding the perfect card to Daddy from the dog. Yes, you read that right, Lily dog also likes to send her well wishes on the special day to the big man in her life, to say thank you for the biscuits, the walks and apologise for the baths she often needs after rolling in fox poo or stealing and hiding the odd golf ball here and there.

Next up, a card for my Father in law. Being the kind of guy with a screwdriver permanently on hand there is usually some sort of DIY theme going on here, usually taking the mick or perhaps something to do with golf – also not necessarily featuring particularly serious comments.

And finally a card for my Dad. This one isn’t the easiest so is always left until last. I spend the first few minutes giggling to myself at the silly cards, the rude cards, the daft jokes. Then the soppy ones – the “best Dad in the world” cards.

And I find myself standing at the card stand, surrounded by people pushing and shoving to find their own perfect greeting for the Dad in their lives and I get hotter and hotter, tears prickling at my eyes and the constant repetitive thought in my head of “Do. Not. Cry.”

You see this year will be the tenth Father’s Day since my Dad passed away. I know, you think it would get easier but I’m not entirely sure it does. The first few are pretty hideous, then I think it got easier for a little while, then I had the pretty wonderful distraction of picking the “You’re going to be a Dad” card for my husband followed by the yearly and totally adorable cards from the little guy whose Dad is his total hero. Although I don’t buy a physical card for my Dad anymore, I do go through the same ritual each year of finding a card I know he would have liked, having a giggle at the daft Millican-esque cards or trying not to let my eyes leak at the ones shouting from the rooftops just how much his little girl loves him.

The daft thing is my Dad was never one for making a big fuss of things and think, in fact I know he found occasions such as Father’s Day, certainly Valentines Day, Halloween and National whatever-the-hell-it-is-today-Day a complete and utter waste of time. He would sit there every year and chuckle and tell me not to bother but bother I did. I would sit and draw him cards when I was younger, one particular artistic breakthrough was the year I drew (quite accurately in my book at least) a bloody great picture of him in one of his fabulous eighties golf jumpers. Then it moved on over the years to cards that made us both laugh and celebrated our shared and frankly ridiculous sense of humour. The ones that used to make Mum pull endless faces of confusion at exactly why they were funny in the first place. One such gem was a card with a cartoon of two crocodiles in a muddy stream with the caption of one saying to the other “I could have sworn it was Thursday”. Yep, probably not funny in the slightest to anyone, in fact I wonder how it ever got printed as I have never met another individual on this planet who even cracked a smile at this but the fact was ever since I was really little, Dad would tell me this joke and we would laugh until our sides hurt, tears rolled down our faces and Mum would still be sitting there looking at us and contemplating calling some sort of helpline. The day I found that card in the newsagents, I felt like I’d struck gold, this of course was long before being able to google anything, order any type of card you wanted or create a meme instantly and send it to someone in seconds.

I told him that joke the day he passed – it wasn’t the reason he passed I should add. (He’d have liked that joke..) By then he was in a coma and I had a little chat with him, finishing it off with that joke. I’d like to think he heard it and managed a little smile at least. What I wouldn’t give to sit and belly laugh with him again. Happy Father’s Day Daddy. xx