It’s a Sunday afternoon and I am roasting a chicken. I’m also finely chopping some kale and listening to The Archers omnibus. I just need to take my songs off and get pregnant and I will be the epitome of wholesome.

The chicken however is not for me, it’s for the dog.

Before I got a dog I imagined that they ate anything. Belle spent a lot of time researching the best dry puppy food and we went with that, innocently assuming that she would eat that until she moved to the adult version and then the senior version. The end. Everything went well for the first six months, and then she started to turn up her nose at it. She’d have a sniff, then walk away, preferring to go hungry than lower herself to eating the obvious muck that we’d dared to put in her bowl.

‘Call her bluff!’ people said. ‘She’ll eat when she’s hungry!’

She did not.

So we switched foods. And a few weeks later she did it again. We tried mixing in some wet food, topping biscuits with tasty things like a raw egg or bits of chicken, but there just didn’t seem to be a food she’d stick with. I researched the fresh pet food delivery services but when I discovered how much they cost I decided to have a go at making my own homemade dog food.

So here I am, roasting chickens and frying up mince beef every other weekend as though that’s exactly what I had planned for my life. I carefully weigh out the ingredients, researching the proportions she needs of protein, fats and carbs. I sometimes add fresh herbs for flavour, or extra bits like chopped fruits when I think she needs a boost of a particular nutrient. I’ve been doing it for nearly a year now and Mako clears her bowl every single time.

Now, what I don’t quite understand is why I can’t do the same for MYSELF.

While I’m faffing about balancing Mako’s macronutrients, I’m simultaneously eating a bag of Wotsits dipped in soft cheese for my lunch. ‘Is she getting enough protein?’ I’ll think to myself, whilst casually snaffling a Mars ice cream. There I am, steaming brown rice for the dog while I pour boiling water over a pot noodle for myself. View Post


A little while ago I posted this picture on Instagram.

It was a bit of a spur of the moment picture – I was lighting a candle and realised that I put dead matches back into the box specifically because I once had a boyfriend who used to hate it. Every time he opened a box of matches and found a dead one that I’d put back in, unthinking, he’d get cross. Not cross like he’d pick up the candle and throw it through a window or anything, but genuinely annoyed enough to make me feel like I’d done something wrong.

good things about being single

I’ve had a lot of boyfriends who have got that level of cross about stupid things like dead matches. It’s exhausting. It leaves you with that walking on eggshells feeling, never sure what small thing might actually be super irritating or send someone into a sulk. It wears you down, makes you question yourself and can leave you feeling like you’re not really good enough, like those ‘flaws’ somehow make you a less than desirable partner. View Post


I was catching up on Married At First Sight Australia yesterday and they were having their final dates – the chance for the men to show the women exactly how romantic they are, presumably at the expense of the show as for some of them it involved yachts. There is also always some kind of charcuterie board involved, which makes me wonder how much choice they actually get, but you get the gist.

Watching the dates play out I couldn’t help but cringe. All of the men were so pleased with themselves, scattering rose petals left, right and centre, running baths and offering up the charcuterie boards like they’d spent the afternoon hand curing the meats. Some of the women lapped it up, others looked a little more awkward as their husbands ran around pointing out all of the romantic things they’d done.

‘Look! White roses! Your favourite! Look at the wine I chose because I wrote it down when you mentioned you liked it!’

Now don’t get me wrong, I love it when people pay attention and remember the things I say I like. I really love it. It makes me feel seen and heard and I love that someone wants to make me feel like that. It’s one of the ways I show someone that I like them too, and so I appreciate it. What makes it feel less special though is when it’s all pointed out to you, like you’re then obliged to notice and be impressed.

I like more romance more subtle than that.

What is romance View Post


Some people jump out of planes or bungee jump from tall bridges to feel alive. Others have to race motorbikes at high speed to feel that buzz of adrenalin, or maybe they cheat on their wives or accidentally gamble away the kids’ college fund at a Las Vegas blackjack table.


Our family is way cooler (and more wholesome) than that. We get our kicks from solving puzzles. We get a thrill out of cracking a particularly tricksy code, or unscrambling an anagram, ideally with the added buzz of having someone at the end to tell us how clever we are. In fact I love it so much that one of the items on my 50 things before 50 list is to complete 100 escape rooms.

A dream day out for my family isn’t track racing and high stakes poker, it’s a morning stroll along the seafront, brunch with a nicely cooked poached egg and getting locked in a room full of puzzles. Which is exactly what I did for my birthday this week. We even rammed the poached egg point home by going to a café called Oeuf. (Very nice, would recommend, definitely get a latte.)

Oeuf Brighton latte art

The escape rooms I chose to celebrate my birthday with were two of the rooms at Pier Pressure Escape Rooms in Brighton – Modropehnia and Loot The Lanes – both amongst the most highly rated escape rooms in the UK. In fact, Loot The Lanes is currently THE top room. Needless to say, expectations were high. View Post


flea anxiety

Last Friday I had a bit of a day. I don’t know quite what it was exactly, but I was overwhelmed and anxious and couldn’t seem to calm my brain down. On Friday evening I spewed out this post, of all the things that had happened, but I didn’t publish it because I didn’t want to seem moany. I felt much better even the next day, but perhaps it’s still useful to share this as a lot of what I share, especially on Instagram, is sunny pictures of the garden or the dog doing something adorable.

I think too that when I wrote about life not being my own, I meant not just the physical act of doing things for pets or the house or for other people, but also the feeling of your brain not behaving quite how you want it to.

Do you ever feel like this?

Here’s what Friday looked like and what I wrote at the time:

6.30am – Woken by noise of dog whining at the cats trying to tunnel into my bedroom via the carpet.

6.35am – Give up pretending I can’t hear the dog and get up. Feed the cats, take the dog for a walk. She’s in season so she can’t come off the lead for a proper run, so it was a lot of pulling as she tried to ‘make friends’ with some ducks in the park. I make a mental note to avoid the park but know I will forget this in a couple of days, imagine the park will be delightful and go again. View Post


Next week is my birthday.


I’m going to be 45 years old. Can you believe that? FORTY FIVE. I was 31 when I started writing this blog, just a baby. It feels like so much time has passed, and yet barely any at all, which is scary, but I try not to think about it too much.

I’m now half way to 50. Gawd. I really need to get on with my 50 things before 50 list.

The thrill of birthdays has worn off for me after 45 years to be honest. It’s definitely not like being eight years old and spending weeks in advance pouring expectantly over the Argos catalogue. I remember that excitement though and so to celebrate my birthday I’m giving someone else the chance to feel it by giving away £150 to spend on toys and games at Wowow Toys.

(Thanks guys at Wowow Toys for getting on board with the idea.)

Wowow Toys sells a huge range of indoor and outdoor toys, from electric scooters and cars to arts and crafts – they really have something for everyone. They’ve got loads of big name toy brands too, including Peppa Pig, Hey Duggee, Paw Patrol and Hot Shots.

Just imagine what you could buy with £150! Four year old me would definitely be choosing the ride on electric unicorn carriage, but even that is under £100, so you’re really going to be able to fill your basket with £150 to spend.

slummy single mummy

Little me would have been super excited about a ride on unicorn

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Yesterday at approximately 7.43am I picked a fight* with a terrifying man on a bicycle. He was one of those stocky types, stubbly, about my age, who looks like they spend their Friday nights in Wetherspoons with a copy of the Daily Mail under one arm, ranting to anyone who will listen about YOUTHS.

I was innocently walking the dog along the pavement next to a busy main road. It was a normal sort of pavement i.e. just the right size for a woman and her golden retriever, and we were doing very nicely thank you very much. About 100 metres away I saw the man, cycling towards me, on the pavement.

I saw him see me, he saw me see him see me. He did not slow down.

There was not going to be room for us to pass without one of use making a move to accommodate the other and I was FUCKED if that someone was going to be me.

(For context, I had had a difficult night sleeping on the sofa whilst holding hands with the dog, who was asleep on the floor, too sad to be alone because she’d been to the vets to have her toenails trimmed. Also I am a 44 year old woman and I am easily fucked off.)

The man on the bike kept coming. I stopped and stood still, staring him down.

At this point he looked frankly surprised, like he had imagined that as soon as I saw he was a MAN, I would understand that meant he had right of way and would immediately throw myself and the dog over the wall and into a bush in deference to his clear superiority. He was even more surprised when, as he drew close to me, I threw up one arm, (I have a frozen shoulder), and shouted, in despair, as though he was the 79th pavement cycler I had met that morning, ‘THIS IS A PAVEMENT!’

He stopped, leaning to put a foot on the ground, ready to launch his defence.

Had I ever tried cycling on this road, he asked me, going on to detail the numerous pot holes, blind corners and the sheer volume of traffic that meant it was impossible for him to do so. ‘You’re allowed to cycle on the pavement if you don’t feel save,’ he said aggressively, waggling a finger.

(I wondered if I was allowed to kick a bike out from underneath someone if *I* didn’t feel safe. I suspect not.)

I was taken aback. I was fairly sure this was a bullshit rule he had just made up, but he said it so confidently that I hesitated for a split second to get my bearings and he took the opportunity to cycle off, along the pavement naturally, tutting and shaking his head.

I thought of many clever and amusing things I wanted to say back to him as soon as he’d left, such as ‘perhaps you’d feel safer if you wore a HELMET’ and ‘get in the fucking bin you absolute dickweed’, but it was too late. My only consolation was that the man in his early twenties, who had been cycling on the pavement behind him, had at least had the decency to dismount and push his bike past me, head hung low in terror and shame. (I imagine.)

‘Thank you,’ I said to him with as much authority as I could muster. He scurried past in silence.

I Googled the legalities when I got home and of course it is ALWAYS ILLEGAL to cycle on the pavement unless it’s a bike lane. Ha!

I’m not saying I would go as far as to prosecute a child, but a full grown man, riding at speed towards a nice woman and her beloved pet, thinking he has the right to be there, to simply barge his way along the pavement and through life in general just because he’s a man and looks like he might be the sort of kick a dog – I would happily see him serving a life sentence.


cycling on the pavement


*This may have been a slight exaggeration. 


How do you define your values? What are the things that guide how you behave on a day to day basis, how you interact with friends and family and the wider world?

That was the question I pulled from my pack of cards today, when I decided it had been a while since I blogged and I needed to stop thinking about what to write and just get on and do it.

What are the most important values?

It was an interesting one to pull out as I’ve just finished listening to Lost Connections by Johann Hari, an amazing book all about the true causes of depression and anxiety and how we can go about fixing them.

I came of age as part of the generation embracing the idea of ‘brain chemistry’ as the one stop, magical explanation to depression. Although not depressed myself, I was well versed in the idea that depression is simply down to low serotonin levels, nothing you can do about it, nothing society or the government needs to feel responsible for, just plain old chemistry. View Post


At the beginning of the month Belle and I ticked off one more item of my list of 50 things to do before 50 when we spent the night on Burgh Island.

That makes it sound a bit like we are Famous Five wannabees, and rowed over to a deserted island to sleep in a cave and watch for smugglers, but it was about as far away from cave camping as you can get. Burgh Island is cut off from the mainland at high tide, but it’s also home to a luxury hotel. Less ginger beer, ham and tomatoes and more champagne on arrival and smoked salmon open sandwiches.

Staying at the Burgh Island Hotel was on my list for multiple reasons. Firstly, it’s a gorgeous art deco building, with lots of original features and furnishings, and that’s one of my favourite periods for architecture.

Burgh Island Hotel

Burgh Island

More exciting though is the Agatha Christie connection. Christie came to Burgh Island regularly to write, and two of her most famous crime novels are set here – And Then There Were None and Evil Under The Sun. The ITV version of Evil Under The Sun is filmed here too, so you can wander around saying things like ‘Oooh this is where they met on the stairs’ and ‘this is the restaurant where Poirot and Hastings have dinner’. It doesn’t get much more exciting than that. View Post


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I am very much the sort of person who takes pleasure in the small things. I will often go to bed and find myself actively looking forward to having a coffee in the garden the next morning, I spot and look at buds on tree branches, I love it when the dog wags her tail in her sleep – that’s the sort of level we’re talking here. It’s one of the things I love about myself as it means I’m very easily pleased and basically a cheap date, which is no bad thing what with the cost of living crisis.

The more I thought about it, the more I realised how many of my small pleasures revolve around food and drink, especially coffee. As a nation we’ve definitely embraced the ‘coffee as a treat’ phenomenon, which is why I think coffee would make an excellent gift this Easter instead of boring old chocolate.

I’m not suggesting just handing over a jar of Tesco’s finest freeze-dried, I’m talking about something a little bit special from The Brew Company.

The Brew Company make premium, speciality coffee, with a focus on sustainability, provenance and an authentic connection with coffee farmers. They choose specialty coffee beans from small independent farm-holders from all over the globe, hand-roasting and slow-crafting them in small batches in their artisan micro-roastery in Middelfart, Denmark.

(And yes, I admit I laughed at the name Middelfart, because Small Pleasures remember.)

The great thing about coffee from The Brew Company is that you can take it anywhere. Their premium coffees come in individual coffeebrewers – patented, portable bags that make your coffee for you, creating an experience somewhere between a cafetiere and a French press. All you have to do is pour hot water into the bag, and bish bash bosh, give it a few minutes for your coffee to brew and you’ve got a premium coffee wherever you happen to be, whether that’s at work or in the middle of a field.

Brew Company coffee bags View Post


I was sent a pair of QuietOn 3.1 active noise cancelling sleep earbuds as a gift – all thoughts my own

This week I had a package arrive. I love any kind of package at the best of times, but this one has the potential to change my life. That sounds like a big claim, but if my new QuietOn 3.1 sleep earbuds can improve my sleep then that would be a real game changer for me.

Version 3.1 is QuietOn’s best earbud yet. They are teeny tiny, with a great fit, so good for side sleepers who might find other kinds of earbuds uncomfortable. They have a long battery life and recharge in their own cute little case, so are brilliant for travelling and sleeping on planes or trains.

QuietOn review

Before I had children I used to sleep well. And by well I mean the sleep of a corpse. My mum and sister would often worry I had actually died, as no amount of shaking and shouting would wake me up. I would fall asleep at about 9pm and wake up again 10 hours later.

Then I had children, and it was like a part of my brain sent out a message to the rest of my body saying ‘listen up guys, there’s a kid now, you know what that means don’t you? One ear open at all times. No slacking on the job, you never know when there might be a jaguar lurking behind the bathroom door.’

That was nearly 28 years ago and I reckon I could count on two hands the number of times since then that I’ve slept solidly all the way through the night.


I’m not saying it’s your FAULT exactly if your mum doesn’t sleep well now, but perhaps a pair of QuietOn earbuds could make a thoughtful Mother’s Day gift? View Post


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It’s no secret that I like an outing. My favourite kind of outing involves a little drive, something nice to look at, and a delicious brunch, ideally followed by a small lie down with an Agatha Christie when I get home. What can I say? I’m a simple soul, easy to please.

What I don’t like however is how stupidly expensive everything has got lately. I get it, cost of living crisis and all that, but can a girl not get an eggs florentine for single figures anymore? When you add in children, (mine are 20 and 27 now but I still seem to be the one paying for brunch), even just going out for a coffee and a toasted sandwich feels ridiculously pricey. There must be some ways to save money on family days out, surely?

There are!

There are loads actually, but I’m just going to suggest a few to get you started and then I’ll let you use your initiative on the rest. With the Easter holidays coming up, I’ve picked things that I think suit the spring weather – hopefully you’ll find this useful but feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments.

Look for crossovers

I recently joined the RHS, (I know! And I’m not even retired!), and one of the things I liked was that as well as giving me entry to the RHS gardens, there are loads of partner gardens that offer free entry to RHS members on certain days of the week or times of the year. It’s the same with my Hestercombe Gardens membership – I can use that to get in half price at lots of other local gardens, saving a decent amount of money in the process.

If you’re a member of anything like this it’s worth looking at whether they have any partner offers you can take advantage of. If you don’t have any memberships, are there any worth doing? If you’ve got a few days out planned over Easter and the summer holidays it could be worth investing now in an annual family ticket.

Dogs at Hestercombe

Mako enjoying a day out at Hestercombe

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I once had a boyfriend who wouldn’t so much as order a pizza without spending at least half an hour scouring multiple discount sites for the best deals. Is 25% off orders over £30 better than buy one pizza get a chicken side free? Who knows and honestly, after half an hour, I didn’t care much either.

I admired his philosophy though – why pay full price for something when you don’t have to – I just didn’t enjoy the hassle. If this sounds like you then a service like tastecard could be right up your street. tastecard offers discounts on all sorts of things, from cinema tickets to days out, plus lots of dining discounts at places like Bella Italia, Cafe Rouge and Ask Italian. They also do 50% off pizza delivery from the UK’s biggest names in pizza, so no more wasting precious pizza eating time comparing discount codes.

tastecard is a subscription service but they offer a decent free trial period so you can see if it works for you. The average customer in 2022 saved £23 per meal out, so it feels like it would be money well spent. View Post