I’ve only been to visit Edinburgh once, to stay with friends, but I really loved my trip there and I’d definitely want to go back. Edinburgh is supposed to be amazing at Christmas but any kind of trip around that time is usually overshadowed by visiting my sister’s family for actual Christmas, in Dublin. We did talk this year about going somewhere in the UK but decided against it so maybe Edinburgh Christmas 2019 will be a thing. And then Cardiff 2020. Etc etc.

If I WAS planning a cool trip to Edinburgh, I’d definitely fill it with loads of unusual stuff to do. I’ve never really thought of Scotland as being the most hipster of locations but in the capital, there are lots of unusual, cool and Instagrammable things to do. If you’re looking for somewhere lovely to stay while you’re there, why not give serviced apartments a go? Staying in serviced apartments in Edinburgh gives you lots of flexibility, plus everything you need to make you feel right at home after a fun day of exploring the city.

So, as the kids say on YouTube, let’s dive right into it.

fun things to do in Edinburgh View Post

There comes a point in your life when you start to get excited when you see NEW things happening. A few months ago for example my neighbours opposite me had a new boiler installed, and I spent quite a lot of time at the kitchen window casually making a cup of tea or washing up or just sort of standing.

‘They’re bringing out the old boiler now,’ I’d shout into Belle in the living room.

She would answer me with silence because she is 16 and hasn’t reached the age yet where she cares about anything boring.

I’ve had a similar sense of excitement over the last couple of months every time I have driven through Taunton and seen work progressing on the new Hubbox restaurant. The space that it’s taken over has been empty for a long time, (I knew it as Wimpy, which I think says a lot), and it’s in a pretty prominent location, so it’s lovely to see it coming back to life.

We went along to their launch night a couple of weeks ago and were blown away by the size and the scale of the restaurant. They’ve knocked through into what was also the shop next door to Wimpy, so there’s masses of space downstairs and a first floor too, which has a slightly more casual vibe, with some comfy looking sofas and armchairs that would be ideal for day time coffees and sandwiches.

(My friend Paul did a little tour video on the opening night, in which I wave, so if you want a proper look inside then that’s worth a watch.) View Post

Belle sat her GCSEs in June this year, and so in September she moved onto college. It was a big move for her. I’m not going to go on about her struggles or anything, but I’m sure she wouldn’t mind me saying that she didn’t exactly find the last few months of school EASY. Basically she didn’t really go, so, yes, not easy. However, she passed all her exams, so onwards and upwards.

Belle starting college has been a bit of a fresh start for me too. Because I’ve been worried about her, and because it’s just the two of us at home, I feel that I’ve become a bit more controlling of things than I would normally be. Controlling is perhaps the wrong word – interfering maybe. I’m always asking her if she’s had things to eat and drink and how she slept and suggesting she go for a walk or read a book or wash some clothes. I nag and nag her not to be late for things, I remind her to do stuff that she should probably just remember for herself.

I’ve started to annoy even me.

With the start of college then, I made the decision to generally BACK OFF, because I know the theory – if she isn’t ever left to take responsibility for herself, she won’t see the consequences of forgetting to eat lunch or do homework or whatever it might be – and yet I’ve stopped putting it into practice. I’ve frustrated myself because encouraging independence has always been something that I thought I was really good at and yet I’ve found myself in this position where I’ve not done either of us any favours, because I’ve not left her to learn things for herself.

I need to do something about it because I really don’t want her to leave home in a couple of years and to be worrying that she will forget to eat.

What I want to know now then, is where do you draw the line with a child who is old enough to do things like leave home, pilot a glider and join a trade union, and yet forgets to clean her teeth, take her clothes out of the washing machine or DRINK FLUIDS?  View Post

In case you didn’t know, this month is breast cancer awareness month. It’s a subject close to my heart because my own mum was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago now. Luckily she made a full recovery, and thanks to cancer research, when the signs are spotted in time the survival rate for a breast cancer diagnosis is one of the highest among all cancers. When spotted and treated quickly, the treatment process can actually be relatively simple and straightforward, but it’s so important that we all check our breasts regularly so we can spot any red flags that might come up.

Because we are generally more aware of what to look for when checking our breasts and more people check their breasts regularly than ever before, the survival rate has jumped from 50% in 1970 to 85% in 2018. 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed in their lifetime but thankfully 691,000 are still alive today after their awful diagnosis.

A lot more info has been widespread lately about what we should all be looking for when checking our breasts, but are we really sure what we should be on the lookout for on a regular basis? It’s best to check your breasts as often as you can so that you get more accustomed to how they feel on a day to day basis and at different times during the month – this will be the easiest way to know if something is wrong. Everyone’s breasts will feel different with different lumps and bumps but the most important thing to look out for is any actual changes in your breasts. If you feel a new lump or something doesn’t look quite right it’s always better to be safe than sorry and make an appointment with your GP.

While you may think that odd and brand new lumps in your breasts might be the only sure sign of breast cancer. There are lots of other things to look out for. Everyone is different so any change in your breasts could either be harmless or a sign of a more serious problem. Things to definitely look out for: View Post

When I was 35 I made a list of 40 things I wanted to do before I was 40. It was quite a mixed list – everything from riding the wooden escalators in Macy’s in New York to making my own lemon curd. I wasn’t sure how I’d get on with it to be honest. I did wonder if once I’d bought the notebook I might let it fall by the wayside, but actually I really got into it. Having a list gave me a sense of purpose – something to focus on when I was feeling a bit lost or bored or not sure what to do on a Sunday afternoon.

I turned 40 in April and although I didn’t manage everything on the list I came pretty close. (You’ll have to go and read it to see which I missed.) In fact I enjoyed it so much that I decided to make another one.

50 things to do before I’m 50.

It’s kind of scary to think about. 40 feels like a pretty cool age, prime of lime and all that, but 50? I don’t know. 50 feels different. 50 feels OLD. Like a proper grown-up. Am I still going to be able to wear t-shirts with cats on when I’m 50? Can I still eat party rings and read Nancy Drew books? It feels like uncharted territory.

When I first wrote the 40 things before 40 post I didn’t have 40 things on the list. I wanted to get it started though, to get the ball rolling, and then I added more things to it as I thought of them. I wanted to do the same with my 50 things before 50 list. Ten years is a long time so I have plenty of time to add things as I go along. Who knows what opportunities might present themselves or what new interests I might stumble across?

This is just a starting point then, so if you have any suggestions please do let me know, the more specific the better. I find that having really specific goals gives me a much better focus and is far more satisfying to tick off.

Here’s my list of 50 things to do before I’m 50:

  • Stay at Gladstone’s library
  • Take a road trip in a convertible (ideally a blue roadster so I can pretend to be Nancy Drew.)
  • Go to the airport and take a random flight
  • Make a Baked Alaska
  • Become a Granny (bit out of my control but I’m adding it anyway)
  • Stay in an old school VW camper van
vintage vw camper

Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash

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In association with Red Tractor

Hoorah! It’s here! October! I can now officially start to get excited about Christmas, (possibly in secret as I’m not sure everyone is ready for it), eat warm apple crumble for breakfast, and generally embrace the deliciousness of autumn. Cooked apples and hot pudding are about as autumnal as it gets without actually putting on a halloween costume, which I why I choose to make an apple tarte tatin for this blog post.

apple tarte tatin with rough puff pastry

Let’s skip back a bit though, to an email I had a little while ago from the people at Red Tractor.

‘The Red Tractor logo is ace,’ they said, (I’m paraphrasing*), ‘but we want more people to know more about it! Can you help?’

‘Of course!’ I said, rolling up my virtual sleeves and putting on my imaginary pinny. ‘Show me the meats!’

‘Well that’s just it,’ they said, ‘it’s not just about meat…’ View Post