I know that no one cares about those ‘God I’m so sorry I’ve not blogged in so long! How you must have missed me!’ posts, because let’s face it, you didn’t even notice I was gone did you?

I bloody knew it. How rude.

The hiatus has been for reasons two-fold. One, I seem to live my life on Instagram stories and forget that some people still read actual long sentences rather than just looking at pictures of me having a cup of tea in the garden. Two, I’ve been on tour! Doesn’t that sound glam? I say it casually to men on Tinder – ‘Oh gosh sorry for the slow reply, I’ve been on tour you know!’ – and it FEELS terrible glam to me. It actually has been a lot of fun, although I’ve learnt that dressing rooms are really way less luxurious than I had imagined them to be. Mainly it’s just a few plastic chairs and a shower in the corner. More hospital waiting room that backstage home to the stars.

I’ve been the host of a book tour for the Sunday Times bestselling, all round very funny and clever Gill Sims, who writes the Why Mummy series of books and has just realised her fifth novel, The Saturday Night Sauvignon Sisterhood, which, fun fact, I was only the third person to read. It’s very good. I cried twice – once sad tears and once happy tears – which isn’t bad considering my daughter Bee has always maintained I have a heart of stone. View Post

Follow:

Advertisement feature

best skincare routine

I took Belle with me on tour last week for our show in Solihull. We were getting into bed in the hotel and I was just getting comfy when she looked across as me accusingly.

‘Are you not even going to take your make-up off?’ she asked horrified.

‘No,’ I said, ‘should I?’

She gave me a wipe. Apparently the answer was yes.  View Post

Follow:

Advertisement feature in association with HyperJar

I’ve never been very good at pocket money. When my kids were younger I would start off with great intentions, and then I’d have a day where I’d feel all carefree and expansive and like nothing really mattered, so I might as well buy them treats.

My children quickly cottoned onto these moods and called them ‘put anything in the trolley’ days. With Belle now, even though she’s 19 and earns her own money, it still happens. In Tesco just last week I somehow ended up buying her the official Taylor Swift magazine. Guilt I suspect, for the fact that I was going away. She saw weakness and she made the most of it. Good for her.

When Belle was younger we did have a brief fling with a pocket money app where kids could get their own card. Belle loved this, because she’s always very much doing things like pressing the buttons for me at cashpoints, but the fees for it made it seem a bit silly – why was I spending twice as much as I needed every month, just for the sake of a few pounds on a card? Surely it made more sense to just let Belle have it all in cash? I think we ended up actually opening a full blown bank account in the end, just because it was cheaper.

If your kids aren’t old or wise enough to have their own bank account or debit card but you still like the idea of teaching them about money and how to save and spend it, then HyperJar could be the answer.

HyperJar is a totally free money app that adults can use to budget, save for specific items and events, and even earn bonuses on spending. It works very visually by allocating money to different jars, which you create according to how you want to spend your money. I know finances can be daunting and that many people, including Belle, find something visual much easier to understand than spreadsheets.

How HyperJar works

For the grown ups, HyperJar works like this:

  • You transfer money into your HyperJar account. (This money is held by the Bank of England, not HyperJar, so it’s quite safe.)
  • You set up jars for different areas of spending, like food shopping, treats, or long term savings like holidays.
  • When you want to spend money from your jars, just link the jar to your HyperJar card, (this can be real or virtual), and spend directly from the jar.
  • You can cut out the pre-transaction linking part by setting up retailers to automatically link to a particular jar. For example you could link Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Aldi to your food jar and anytime you spend money with one of them it will automatically come from that jar.

View Post

Follow:

The Roomba i3+ robot vacuum was a gift from iRobot. All views my own.

One of the only times I lament being single is when I’m doing boring household chores like vacuuming or putting out the bins. It’s because in my mind a husband would be someone with whom I could share housework equally, someone who would say ‘I noticed the kitchen floor needed a clean so be careful in case it’s still wet’ and ‘don’t be silly, put your feet up, I’ll take the cats for their vaccinations, I already made the appointment.’

And then I laugh cynically to myself because I remember that actually being in a relationship wouldn’t be like that at all. Being in a relationship, in my experience at least, involves waiting weeks for your partner to vaguely LOOK in the direction of the kitchen floor, seething quietly with resentment, and then doing it yourself, loudly, to make a point.

Much better just to get a robot vacuum, do away with the bitterness AND get to watch what you want on the TV.

Robot vacuum review

My robot vacuum even matches my carpet – how chic!

View Post

Follow:

I was gifted these noise cancelling earbuds from QuietOn. All opinions my own.

On Thursday morning I am off on the first leg of a two month long tour. That sounds terribly fancy, like I might actually be famous or something, so I should hastily add that it’s not my tour – I’m just the host for Gill Sims.* I say ‘just the host’ but really it’s a pivotal role right? I’m sure Michael Parkinson wouldn’t call himself just a host, and obviously that’s the sort of interview skills we’re going to be looking at it, given that I’ve never done it before.

(Can you tell from that slightly frantic introduction that I’m a bit nervous??)

*Takes a deep, soothing breath*

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been making packing lists and bulk buying dog food and fretting about Belle and obviously taking on more work than I can physically fit in, and it’s all going fine, tra la la la la. One of the things on my packing list is, rather conveniently, a nifty product I’ve just been sent to try out from QuietOn – the QuietOn 3 active noise cancelling earbuds.

They come in this dinky little carry case – isn’t it adorable?

QuietOn noise cancelling earbuds

One of my biggest worries about the tour, aside from the obvious concerns like making a fool of myself on stage and drinking too much and having to be Parkinson with a hangover, is sleep. Sleep doesn’t exactly come easily to me at the best of times, and since having children – i.e. the last 27 years – I’ve been a light and restless sleeper, easily woken by small noises. This is fine of course when your kids are babies and you need to be alert for lions and what not, but when one is 19 and the other doesn’t even live at home anymore, it feels like a bit of a pointless skill.

Sleeping away from home can be even worse – I’m always alert for new noises, and traffic can be a real issue. I like sleeping with the window open and can do this at home because we live somewhere quiet, but away from home, in large cities, I’m not going to be waking up to birdsong and a babbling brook am I?

(Note we don’t have a babbling brook at home, I’d just like one.)

Well, I don’t need to worry about that now do I? Thanks to QuietOn I should be looking at quiet, restful sleep whichever Premier Inn I rock up at.  View Post

Follow:

Advertisement feature in association with Charlie

I spent a very satisfying 20 minutes in bed this morning with Charlie.

I know, sounds saucy doesn’t it? I haven’t taken a fast but efficient lover though, I was actually discovering some NEWS. I say it in capitals because really THE NEWS is not my thing. For a while a few years ago I thought I would try to take an interest and so I set my alarm to wake me up to Radio 4, but after a few weeks I was just so depressed. The awful news seeping into my subconscious from around the world was just too much.

Over the last couple of years it’s become even harder to take anything positive away from the news – it’s been a literal daily death count – and as a form of self-preservation I’ve had to step away completely. I have too much to manage in my own life, I don’t feel able to soak up everything else around me, especially when it’s stuff I can’t do anything about. I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds the news overwhelming?

The downside of filtering out all news of course is that you can feel like a bit of an idiot when people are talking about something big, that clearly everyone in the world knows about but you. ‘Ukraine?’ you say, ‘something going on with them is it?’

Okay, so it’s not quite that bad, but it definitely leaves you feeling ignorant, in all senses of the word when it’s a humanitarian issue.

How do you filter the news though? How can you make sure you have an awareness of what’s going on but still preserve your sanity? How do you pick out the stories that interest you without getting swamped in bad news?

Cue Charlie – your personal journalist.

Charlie is an AI bot who helps you sift through the news in a neutral, healthy way, giving you a selection of headlines and letting you find out more about any that take your interest. It’s a bit like having a partner sat in bed next to you, scrolling the news sites so that you don’t have to. They pick out things that might interest you and read out highlights, sparing you all of the anxiety inducing doom and gloom clickbait that news sites use to increase traffic and revenue.

Charlie - your personal journalist View Post

Follow:

Advertisement feature in association with Brew Company

I was talking to my brother-in-law this week about the importance of joy, and was telling him about how much joy I can take from the very smallest of things. ‘Honestly,’ I said, ‘I can go to bed excited about having a nice cup of coffee the next morning.’

And it’s true. The ritual of either spending time making myself a cup of good coffee or treating myself to one somewhere out and about is a seemingly small thing that can have a huge impact. Factor in meeting up with a friend or family member to share your coffee with and it takes on even more significance. Suddenly that simple cup of coffee has become an experience, an opportunity to exchange news, to share worries and to feel closer to someone. I’ve definitely felt that over the last couple of years during lockdowns, when so many of my meetups with friends have been spent walking through parks, our hands wrapped around takeaway cups of coffee.

When you think about it, a cup of coffee is pretty special isn’t it? Buying someone a cup of coffee MEANS something.

Which is why I think this Mother’s Day could be the time to switch it up a bit. Forget flowers and chocolates and buy the special mum in your life coffee from The Brew Company instead.

(Don’t worry if your mum isn’t a coffee drinker, they do tea too.)

Coffee from The Brew Company

The idea behind The Brew Company’s Coffeebrewer range is simple – premium quality ground coffee that you brew in the bag, without the need for any kind of fancy coffee machine. The patented brewing system ensures a state-of-the-art coffee infusion that gives a result that’s a bit of a crossover between pour-over coffee and a French press. Basically you get to be your own barista, wherever you are – at work, travelling, or how about camping? I think they’d be brilliant for that. View Post

Follow:

Looking for plastic free Easter eggs this year? Or maybe you want a vegan Easter egg? I’ve picked out five of my favourites so you can enjoy your Easter treats guilt free.

best plastic free easter eggs

Happy nearly Easter!

I’m not in anyway religious, but I’m happy to jump on the bandwagon of any religious festival that requires the eating of chocolate eggs. Judge me if you will but there we are.

One thing that has always annoyed me though about Easter and Easter eggs in particular is all the waste that goes with them – all those chocolate eggs in huge plastic shells, just waiting for the wrappers to be torn off so that the plastic can get chucked in a lake and eaten by a pregnant dolphin, or whatever it is that happens to it. It’s definitely something like that. But then of course the fishing industry does more damage to fish than plastic, so perhaps veganism is really the answer. Not that Easter eggs normally have fish in them, but still, the principle is sound.

One really easy change you can make this Easter is simply to look out for plastic free or vegan Easter eggs, or ideally both! I’ve picked out five of my favourite options for you, plus if this has got you feeling the vegan Easter vibe why not have a go at making my vegan hot cross bun recipe?

View Post

Follow:

If there was one thing I could change that I feel would significantly change the quality of my life it would be the consistency of my sleep.

When I was a teenager, pre-children, (I was 16 when I was first pregnant so my teenage years and parenting overlapped), my sleep was impeccable. I used to be in bed by around 9pm every night and I slept so soundly that sometimes my mum and my sister would worry that I was actually dead. They could shout at me and shake me and nothing, I was out cold.

And then I had a baby and honestly I’m not sure I’ve slept properly since. With my first daughter it wasn’t so bad – I still did the half ear open thing that all mothers do, but she slept well and I didn’t have a prolonged period of sleepless nights. Belle though found sleep more difficult. For the first couple of years she slept in bed with me and would wake sometimes hourly, and it wasn’t until she started school that she started sleeping through the night.

Fast forward another 10 years or so and the perimenopause and all her delights were upon me, most noticeable of which was an apparent inability to sleep for more than an hour or two at a time without having to balance it out with an equal amount of time spent thrashing about uncomfortably, counting down the hours until I knew I would have to be awake again.

Starting HRT last year helped massively, and I do wake up less and for shorter periods now, but my sleep is still far from perfect and it varies during my cycle too, some nights letting me go for hours at a time, others keeping me on high alert with anxious dreams and periods of overheating.

Fun. Times. All. Round. View Post

Follow:

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

Follow:

Sponsored post

Have you been watching the Sex And The City reboot, And Just Like That?

I have and I loved it, even though it made me cry a LOT.

I was never an OG Sex And The City fan. I have a story about how when I first decided I wanted to be a freelance journalist and started my blog it was because I’d been watching a lot of Sex And The City and fancied myself sitting about outside cafes writing a relationship column and drinking cocktails every night with hot men. While the story is true, it happened in 2009, over 10 years after the show first aired. Not exactly ‘finger on the pulse’ stuff.

I started watching it because I’d just come out of a nine year relationship, aged 30, and I needed something to remind me what it meant to be single. The version of single I saw on Sex And The City wasn’t my version though. They were single and childless and seemingly had endless money available for high heels and parties, despite spending most of their time on dates. I on the other hand had a teenager and a six year old, I definitely did not have endless money, I spent most of my time on the school run or cooking fish fingers, and my cocktail options were pretty much limited to WKD at the local Wetherspoons.

And then there was the fashion. Women’s clothing has just never been something I’ve understood. Sure, they looked pretty, but I would never have been able to tell you what designers they were wearing, nor would I have cared. I wanted the lifestyle and the freedom, but not to have to maintain such high standards. I wanted the male attention, but not at any cost.

If we’re laying it out, I never especially like Carrie either. I found her whiney and difficult and selfish. But perhaps partly that was jealousy, as I’d never felt like I’d had the opportunity to be selfish.

When And Just Like That came out then, it wasn’t like I was wetting my pants excited about it. I wanted to take a look, but I wasn’t expecting to feel a particularly strong connection. I watched the first episode though and BOOM, suddenly I could see what all the fuss had been about first time around amongst the single women in their twenties and thirties.

Suddenly I could RELATE. View Post

Follow:

Much scientific research has shown* that drinking a hot chocolate with a homemade marshmallow cloud can increase overall happiness rates by up to 47%. If the marshmallow cloud has a face that happiness boost increases by eight percentage points.

In fact, some research** has even concluded that simply looking at a picture of a homemade marshmallow cloud with a smiley face can trigger the release of serotonin and boost feelings of contentment for up to 90 minutes. It’s very similar to petting a particularly fluffy dog you meet in the street or getting an unexpected rebate on your electricity bill.

Let’s try it shall we?

homemade marshmallow clouds

How do you feel? You feel better than you felt three minutes ago right? I knew it.

If you want to scale up the good feelings and recreate these marshmallow clouds at home, where you can see AND eat them, then here’s what you need: View Post

Follow: