February.

Eurgh.

Not a very inspiring month is it? It’s cold, the evenings are still dark, and you know that at some point you’re going to be forced to make pancakes that no one really wants to eat. Hardly surprising that my mind has been wandering forward to summer, imagining being able to sit outside with my lunch, feeling the warmth of the sun on my shoulders.

I’m having a bit of dilemma though when it comes to planning holidays. For a start, you know when you’re taking children with you that it’s never really a ‘break’, so you’re reluctant to spend too much money or travel too far for what will essentially be like being at home but without your own bed and favourite tea bags for comfort.

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So, this week is half term, joy oh joy. Seriously, what is it with all the school holidays?? Just when you’ve settled back into work – BAM! – there’s another one.

Anyway, this week, to make up for the fact that I’m spending most of my time working, (by which I mean hiding), in my attic office, on Tuesday I took Belle and a friend from school to London. We began our day with a tour of the CBBC studios, where they got to do all kinds of exciting things like pretend to be Newsround presenters, and sit in chairs that Take That had once sat in.

Although Belle spent the whole tour with an autograph book clutched in her sweaty paw, we didn’t see anyone famous. No Chuckle Brother photo opportunities for us. Outside the studios though, while we were deciding which tube to take, we had better luck.

“Look!” Belle’s friend whispered excitedly, nudging me and jiggling about on the spot as a vaguely familiar looking man strode purposefully past us, “it’s HIM!”

“Who, who!!” Belle joined in frantically.

“Well don’t just stand there then,” I instructed, always one to play it cool, “run after him!” View Post

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Who doesn’t like champagne and smoked salmon for breakfast? A fool, that’s who, a fact that Lego appreciated as they plied me with booze and snacks this morning, whilst I played with the new Lego Friends range and got disproportionately excited about the teeny-weeny coffee machine and ketchup dispenser.

(Gosh, that was a long sentence wasn’t it? I really must be excited).

If you haven’t come across it already, Lego Friends is the new range of Lego designed particularly for girls. It’s the same Lego building experience, but is based on years of research and development that has shown that girls prefer more ‘real life’ play, featuring scenarios they encounter in their own lives. As a mother of two girls, I can vouch for this. Most little girls I know aren’t interested in aliens and robots and rockets, they want realism and detail. Hence the tiny ketchup dispensers. View Post

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As the wrinkles spread and the boobs head south, we still feel likes teenagers inside don’t we? Today I have a guest post from The Undercover Granny, on getting old, grey hair, and staying positive…

When I was young and heard old ladies saying they still felt 18, I used to snort with derision. How could this possibly be true? Surely there is some kind of old person’s switch that flicks the moment you reach 50 and thoughts of music, clothes and romance are replaced by a desire to knit, grow lavender and tut loudly at anyone having even the tiniest bit of fun.

Now 52 and a granny myself, I realise this is, of course, complete nonsense. I still feel as if I’m in my early twenties and it’s only the odd creak of my bones and the strands of grey in my hair that remind me I am no longer a mere slip of a girl.

When my son was small he embarrassed me hugely in a queue in a shop by asking loudly why old ladies all had the same haircut and if they all went to the same hairdresser. It is perhaps this alone that has left me determined to keep my hair longish forever and not succumb to the pressure to have it teased into a white helmet.

In most respects I feel no different now to how I did in my younger years. But it is undeniable that growing older brings with it a sense of peace.

In your teens and early twenties there’s a real immediacy to every problem. If you might have to miss a party it can feel like the end of the world. If a boyfriend is drifting away it feels, momentarily at least, as if your life is over.

With age, however, you learn that you won’t die if you don’t buy that gorgeous yellow mini skirt and, in fact, having some money in the bank or not running up an overdraft is a lot better for your emotional wellbeing.

In essence, I believe you are the age you feel – as long as you look after your body and mind – and that it can be really freeing to leave behind the tiring drama of youth. Just make sure you retain a sense of optimism and the feeling that anything is possible.

I’d love to hear how you feel on the subject.

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This evening I’m at a new writing group at The Bristol Folk House called The Steady Table.

The idea behind it is to give people the space and time just to write, be it poetry, short stories, or a J K Rowling style wizardy blockbuster. All you need is a steady table right? The trouble is, I’m so used to ‘making the most’ of every minute, of squeezing every bit of work time out of the day, that the idea of three whole hours just to write creatively is a bit daunting. I feel almost guilty, as though indulging in a passion for fiction is just that, an indulgence.

That’s the point of the group though isn’t it? Expressing your creativity should be a perfectly valid use of time, and we need to accept this, and not be afraid to embrace it. Tonight though, I’m easing myself in gently and writing this post instead. It sort of counts doesn’t it?

*looks doubtful*

The group is great – a fascinating, diverse mix of people, including a man called John who eats pizza with a spoon* – and I’m sure that I’m going to enjoy the time out once I get over the fact that I’m allowed to write made up stories. Seriously – fiction – what’s that about? You’re allowed to tell actual lies!

I love the idea of going somewhere different, somewhere special to write. If you’re the type of person who can work on their own, there are of course loads of options available – forums, online groups and flexible distance learning creative writing courses – but I work from home all week. Coming out is a treat.

On my way over in the car I did think up an idea for a story, just in case they wouldn’t let me sit down without a synopsis, but I haven’t quite got around to writing any of it down yet. I have had a cup of tea and a very nice chocolate brownie though. It would seem there are some things I feel less guilty indulging in.

If you’d like to join me to do some scribbling on a Tuesday evening,  follow The Steady Table on twitter.

*John eyes me curiously when I look up from my typing and ask if he spells his name with an ‘h’.

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