I was 12 years old when I started my periods and I remember vividly the embarrassment of buying sanitary towels from the only place within walking distance – one of of those corner shop type places that sold random brands of crisps you’d never heard of out of cardboard boxes and ‘Happy Shopper’ washing up liquid.

Suffice to say I was NOT a happy shopper.

It was the very early 90s, and I’m not sure that sanitary products were quite as advanced as they are now. My cornershop definitely didn’t stock anything with a silky soft finish, or wings, or a lockaway core. They sold pads in packs of ten that were roughly the size and shape of a rolled up tea towel. The insides were basically cotton wool, so they immediately clumped in a very uncomfortable and inefficient fashion.

There was no rollerblading going on when you had one of those beasts wedged in your pants, that’s for sure.

Wearing them to school was horrendous, and there was always the worry that your period would start when you weren’t expecting it, that you’d end up with blood on your clothes, or worst still, that someone would be able to SMELL you. Was that a thing when you were in school?? I felt kind of RIPE when I had my period, like everyone would be able to smell the metal tang of blood in the air as I walked through the corridors.

Things have come a long way of course, but that embarrassment, that period shame, still lingers.

According to recent research in fact, 71% of girls in the UK have felt embarrassed buying sanitary products, and a further 67% would feel embarrassed if they found period blood on their clothes.

That’s not cool is it? Do you feel shame or embarrassment attached to your period? Do you know ho the young women in your life feel about theirs? It’s not okay that periods are viewed like this.

It’s LIFE. It’s what happens. WE ALL BLEED. Get over it.

This International Day of the Girl, Plan International UK wants to tackle the stigma and bring the issue to centre stage with Plaster Pads: miniature sanitary pads that are worn like plasters for all the world to see.

plaster pads blood is blood campaign View Post

small garden bench gardenbenches.com review best garden bench

Okay, so I’m probably pushing it a little bit with that title, but I DID ask a question about my new garden bench on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, and quite a few people answered, so that sort of counts as a debate I think. Also, you want the best garden bench for your garden and you want to know where to put it, so I know you’re interested.

My dilemma was this: a lovely company called Garden Benches was, as the name suggests, sending me a new garden bench.* However, my back garden currently resembles a prison yard. It’s literally just a square of fenced in gravel. There is even some spray paint on the fence panels where I sprayed my bed pink, which adds to the ‘abandoned railway embankment’ vibe. I didn’t especially want to sit out there.

My front garden however, is much tidier. (Not a euphemism.) Our house is off the road a little bit, so I look out onto a nice little patch of grass and people often walk past with dogs. I’ve even planted out Belle’s apple tree. You remember the one we accidentally grew from a pip when she was tiny? We’ve dragged it round with us in this battered old pot, praying that one day we’d have a house of our own to plant it in, and now, thank God, it has a home.

I have some plants in pots too. Generally the front garden is a much friendlier place to be and makes you feel less like you are part way through a three year sentence for actual bodily harm. View Post

Today I have a very interesting post from Bee about a course she’s doing with Kritikme to write a novel in three months. Please have a read! 

As some of you may know, I graduated from Creative Writing at London South Bank University a couple of academic years ago now, and what I got out of it was a first class degree, a complete, ready for publication collection of poetry that I’m never going to do anything with, and the feeling that I was just kind of done with writing.

I took a break and quit my freelance writing career to work full time in a café and clear my head of all these negative feelings I had about writing after my course was over. Now I’ve decided that, of course, writing is my passion and my little special gift I’ve been given by God or my mother or whoever, and I know that that’s what I want to do with my life.

I decided recently to pick up creative writing again and try and get a novel finished, along with the help of Louise Dean who runs Kritikme, an online service for serious writers which also offers an amazing plan where you can write the first draft of a novel in 90 days! I’ve written a little bit about it over on my own blog, but I just wanted to share with you 10 things that I feel I’ve gotten out of this plan that I didn’t get out of my three-year degree course. I was just a teen back then, and I didn’t take advantage of the opportunities offered to me as much as I should have, but this plan has given me a second chance to really get into writing fiction.

online novel writing course Kritikme review View Post

Produced in association with Ecover

Environmentally friendly cleaning products have come a long way.

A long time ago, it felt like there was a formula you could apply to green home care, that went something like this:

G + P = C

Where G is green credentials, P is price and C is a complete inability to get anything clean.

It’s not like that any more though. Green cleaning doesn’t have to mean that you compromise on standards OR take out a bank loan for the privilege. Nowadays you’re not even really a proper middle class mum without a bottle of Ecover washing up liquid by the sink. For me, Ecover is THE green cleaning brand. They’ve been around since 1979 – almost as long as me – so it’s no wonder they’ve built up such a great reputation in that time for innovation and efficiency.

I got to find out a bit more about Ecover, and in particular their new laundry liquid range and fragrances, when I went along recently to an event they were holding in London. I definitely did NOT just go on the promise of gin cocktails – that was just a welcome bonus. Honest. (They were so good.)

Ecover laundry liquid

Because laundry liquid on its own isn’t exactly the most riveting of topics, Ecover laid on a couple of extra laundry related activities. First up, we had one minute to sort coloured washing from whites and load a machine…

ONLY KIDDING!

That would be a rubbish way to spend an evening.

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Looking for a BookBeat discount code? Read on for a one month free BookBeat trial offer! 

Bookbeat discount code audiobook review

When I was small I had a cassette tape of Winnie the Pooh stories. I listened to them so often that I could tell them back to you now word for word, remembering exactly all the nuances of the narrator. (Who, it turns out after some research, was a chap called Norman Shelley.)

It was wonderful. Perfect in every way. I would lie in bed in the dark and I could SEE the stories in my mind. (It took me quite a long time though to understand that Pooh and Piglet weren’t following a woozle around that tree.)

What I’m trying to say is that listening to someone else tell you a story rather than reading a book can be a wonderful thing.

It can be a convenient thing too, as you can listen to books at the same time as doing other things, like exercising, travelling or just lying about on the sofa. I love listening to audiobooks while I’m driving – I fall into this (very safe) trance like state and I’m IN the story.

(At the same time as paying careful attention to the road.)

Unlimited listening with BookBeat

This week I’ve been trying out BookBeat.

BookBeat is amazing audiobook app, with thousands of classic and new fiction and non-fiction. The great things about BookBeat, which gives it the edge over some other audiobook offerings, is that once you’ve paid your monthly fee – which is only £12.90 – you can listen to unlimited books.

Yup, you heard me.

UNLIMITED books.

As many books as you like, every single month, with no restrictions, including a ONE MONTH FREE trial. You can download them and listen offline too, and there is no contract. You can cancel at any time.

It’s basically Netflix for books, and who doesn’t like a bit of Netflix? View Post

Homesense is my happy place.

I know it should probably be a cliff top, where I can contemplate life and the vastness of the universe as I stare at the horizon, but it’s not. It’s Homesense. Specifically the plant pot section or a display of particularly fluffy cushions, ideally in the middle of the day on a Tuesday, when no one else is there. Homesense is part of the TK Maxx family, so there is always treasure to be found at discount prices, with up to 60% off the RRP.

(I did a quick count around the house and I already have 14 plant pots from Homesense.)

Homesense finds

It’s not that I’m especially materialistic, because I don’t have to buy anything for the magic to work, I just like wandering around and seeing what treasures I can find. I love stroking the sheepskin rugs and looking right to the back of the kitchen shelves to see what goodies other people might have found before me and hidden for later. View Post