Bee is on the blog today, talking toys. Please make her welcome!

A lot of the time I lie awake at night pondering life’s big questions.

“Can birds catch a cold?”

“What did I sound like when I was younger?”

“When do people stop liking toys?”

I was thinking about this one today. I can’t pinpoint a time when I stopped wanting or liking toys. I can’t even pick a particular age that I think it might be. There’s even a time when you’re just becoming a teenager that you see some toys and thank God you have a little sister so that you can play with them “because you have to” but secretly you just want to play with them, and I’m sure there are definitely still some toys I would want to play with if I saw them.

I decided to have a little look at the Smyth’s toys website to see if there was anything out there these days that I thought I could genuinely enjoy playing with. I do like gadgets and things, as my MacBook Air and brand new iPhone prove, and I’m not against the occasional board game, so I was sure there must be some kids toys out there that I might secretly want to buy for myself.

When I was a baby I had a toy kitchen that I really liked (I didn’t know about gender roles when I was 2.) I used to “feed” sweets to a toy owl and then secretly eat them myself when he didn’t want to eat them for some reason. This might have been the main reason why I liked it. Upon finding the toy kitchens on the website I found out they are INCREDIBLE compared to the mid nineties. Better than my actual kitchen in my actual house! Check out this bad boy. Magnificent.

toy kitchen Smyths View Full Post

I came downstairs on Monday morning, while Belle was getting dressed for school, to the usual collection of breakfast debris. For some reason, she seems to be under the impression that she lives in a cafe, and so every morning is a dilemma – do I ask her to tidy up after herself, and face her teenage wrath, or just do it myself and live in peace?

On Monday morning though, I didn’t come down to the usual sticky peanut butter knife or empty cereal bowl. On Monday I came downstairs to find an empty packet of bacon and tomato ketchup flavour crisps on the sofa. 

teenage fussy eater

I was feeling brave, so I decided to confront her.

“You know it’s not okay to eat crisps for breakfast don’t you?” I said, ducking down behind the table. (Metaphorically.)

“But they were bacon flavour,” she said.


“So it counts as breakfast,” she clarified.

Ah right. Well that’s fine then. 

Now the issue I have is that I’m actually quite fond of Belle, and don’t want her to get rickets or any other weird vitamin deficiency, but once a child gets to 14, how exactly are you meant to make them do things? This applies generally to be honest, but with food in particular, how are you actually, physically, meant to get them to eat sensible things?! I’d hoped that as she got older, she’d grow out of her fussy eating habits, and be happy to at least be in the same room as a courgette, but if anything it’s getting worse. She used to tolerate peas for instance, but even they have seemed to have slipped on to her ‘don’t make me eat that or I’ll gag’ list.

So how do you do it?

I provide her with a range of tasty options and I encourage her to try new things. I don’t especially want to never have treats in the house, (I like treats), but even if I did resort to that, at 14 she is quite capable of just stopping at the shop on her way home and buying her own crisps. Where has my authority gone?

(More to the point, was it ever there in the first place?)

I just want to be a good parent, or at least the sort that you don’t feel the need to report to anyone, but apart from holding Belle down and stuffing her cheeks with kale, how do I make her eat good things?

Photo – Only Fabrizio/shutterstock

What are your favourite books to read to your children? When Bee and Belle were little, I loved reading them books that I remembered from my own childhood. 

With books that I particularly loved, I’ve not only read them to my own children, but I’ve also passed them on to my sister for my nephew and niece, who are now seven and five. When we were staying with them a few weeks ago, for my sister’s wedding, I had the chance to relive my childhood when it fell to me to be in charge of story time for my niece Mia.

She snuggled down into bed, and I picked out some of my favourites. 

“Can we read two?” she asked, with a sparkle in her eyes.

“We can read three!” I told her, more excited than she was.  

I showed her where I had written in the back of the books when I was little like her. ‘It’s not very good writing,’ I admitted, ‘but I was only small.’

‘Writing is tricky though,’ she sympathised. ‘I was trying to write a card for Grandad and Clare yesterday and I accidentally wrote ‘multivitamin’ instead.’ We laughed at that for a long time. She cracks me up. View Full Post

Now before I start, I just want to say that I have nothing against Lush as a company or shop (apart from from the smell obvs). I don’t want people missing the point and saying on Facebook that I don’t appreciate how much care goes into the products or anything. I mention the shop by name for context. That is all.

Lush bath bombs, sexist

Bath bombs for atmosphere

So. We were in Lush at the weekend, (which you’ve probably gathered by now.) It was me, my fiancé and Belle. Belle likes to go in and rub things on her hands and then make us look at them/sniff them/stroke specific patches to feel how soft they are. I was already a little out of sorts, as the smell was making me want to throw up in the jute shopping bag I was carrying, (like the good middle aged, middle class woman I am.)

We were approached by a suitably effervescent young man, offering to help us, should we need any assistance rubbing things on and off our hands.

“Do you need any help with anything?” he asked fiancé, as I was busy sniffing Belle.

“No, I’m fine thanks,” said fiancé.

“I see,” said the shop assistant, chuckling to himself, “you’re just here to carry the bags and pay!”

I bristled.

Fiancé saw me bristle.

Shop assistant chuckled again, oblivious to the bristle.

“Smell my hand!’ said Belle.

Am I being unreasonable to be offended by this? I know he was just making conversation, but it’s almost the casualness of statements like this that offend me so much. Firstly of course there’s the massive casual assumption that just because I’m a woman, I won’t be earning enough to pay for my own shopping, and that I need a man to do that for me. Secondly, I find it insulting on fiancé’s behalf, that as a man, all he’s good for is opening his wallet and carrying my shopping. Heaven forbid we should be out together as a family because we enjoy each other’s company. Shock horror!

And this guy was young – whatever happened to the enlightened youth, challenging the old way? What does he imagine our family set up looks like? Am I at home during the week, scrubbing pots and ironing shirts to earn my treats at the weekend? Or am I being a dick even getting worked up about it?

We left soon after, but I couldn’t shake the agitation. As we walked home I wondered – will there ever come a time when these gender stereotypes will disappear, or should I accept it as friendly banter and move on?

“Feel my hand,” said Belle, bringing me out of my internal debate, “isn’t it soft?”

“Yes darling, yes it is.”

Image – Peartree /

I work for myself, but to escape the trap of working from home and spending the day watching Jeremy Kyle I rent an office in town, about a twenty minute walk away. I share it with a couple of people, and it’s really nice for the whole work/life balance thing, but there’s one downside.


When I worked from home, I’d always take the time to make a proper lunch. It wasn’t always fancy, but there’s a lot to be said for beans on toast. As an office worker though, I’m a bit rubbish at lunch. I hate making Belle’s packed lunches, and the last thing I want to do is make two of the damn things, so I normally buy something. This means a Boots meal deal, (excellent value for what it is, but bleurgh), or, if I’m feeling rebellious, it’s a ‘meat of the day’ bap from the sandwich bar around the corner, (delicious, but basically a heart attack in a bun.)

I feel like things need to change.

Good timing then for the launch of Ryvita‘s new lunch packs. I wrote about Ryvita not long ago, and how tasty they actually are, but if you’re taking them to work, you’ve always got the issue of having to fit the big packet in your handbag, or what you do once you’ve opened them – how do you store them in your desk and keep them fresh?

Come on in lunch packs, this is your cue…

Ryvita lunch packs

Ryvita lunch packs

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