When trainee journalist Rhiannon Davies asked if she could write a guest post for my blog I was very flattered, and excited too. When I read her piece on the joys of noisy sex though, I must admit I felt a teensy bit inadequate. Since moving to a smaller house, with children’s bedrooms either side of me, loud sex is rather tricky.

To comfort myself that my sex life is fine even if the neighbours aren’t banging on the wall, I asked mum of three Ella Tabb, aka Purple Mum, to give a different side of the story, and the explain why in her opinion, quiet sex can be just as good.

Which side of the fence (or should that be bed?) do you sit on? We’d love to know what you think – is noisy sex always better sex?

Rhiannon says…

We’ve all been there, whether it’s a new housemate at University with a tendency to, ehem, ‘voice their opinion’ in the bedroom, a noisy neighbour, or a new house where suddenly your kids are on either side of your boudoir. Culprit or victim, loud sex is a sound familiar to all of our ears.

"shouting"

For me, there’s no question that loud sex is better sex (have you never heard the phrase ‘scream if you wanna go faster’?). In my opinion, if you’re relaxed enough to belt out your pleasure, then everything is going to feel better. But then, I’ve never faked an orgasm, and having been the one desperately tearing my room apart to find my head-phones and drown out the noise, I can certainly see why the debate against noise equalling pleasure is there.

To prove to those of you who don’t believe in loud sex, I’m going to get out the big guns and rebuff you with science. Screaming-sex requires a lot of oxygen going in and out of your lungs, thus, oxygenated blood is spread everywhere, making things a lot more sensitive (girls, you have twice as many nerve endings as men, I am talking to YOU). Gym bunnies – why do you exhale when you lift weights? Because it lets your muscles r e l a x, the point of orgasm is a contraction of muscles, moaning releases the tension. Basic biology.

On an emotional level (and provided that you aren’t faking), loud sex lets your partner know that you’re enjoying yourself. How are you supposed to tell them what you like if you say nada? I’m a firm believer in being able to laugh during sex, and although I’m not suggesting you wake your neighbours up with well-placed humour, noise in the bedroom can be a great a bonding opportunity, stop wasting it.

I’m not saying go at it like a porn-star, but when it feels good, what’s wrong with saying so? Let’s face it, they’re going to hear the sound of the headboard banging against the wall anyway, so why not complete the symphony. If you don’t mind the idea of being loud, but hate the idea of being overheard, wait until they are out. If you can’t wait, well, it’s obviously too good not to share.

Ella says…

Science has proven that noisy sex results in better orgasms. I’m not entirely sure that in my case I agree. Ok first up I am not judging you if noisy sex is your thing. In fact I have to admit I’m a teeny bit in awe of you, but I don’t think I will screaming in the throes any time soon and here’s why.

"Lego man"Firstly I have children, three children in fact, and noisy sex could result in waking the children, this would not lead to a better orgasm! Basically when you’re a parent sexy time does change somewhat. Going from doing it whenever and wherever you fancy to grabbing a stolen moment when the children are asleep, on the rare occasion that you are not completely knackered from the sheer relentlessness of parenting. The location goes from finding somewhere new and fun to bonk to finding somewhere not covered in lego (ouch) and not too close to the children’s bedroom. Anyway I digress.

The other reason I am a quiet lover is that it basically doesn’t occur to me to make any noise. I am just naturally quiet in bed, which is odd considering that on any other occasion you literally cannot shut me up. I have tried to make more noise, thinking a little heavy breathed screaming might help my partner feel appreciated, bedroom applause so to speak. However doing so made me feel a bit silly, and took me away from the moment and into my head which is not very sexy at all. Virtually impossible to orgasm whilst thinking I really must make it sound like I am enjoying myself.

So there you have it, if noisy works for you then that’s great, and apparently your orgasms will be better than mine. I have to say though I am perfectly happy being quiet in bed.

Massive thank yous to both Ella and Rhiannon for such honest and entertaining posts.

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Some books you’ll never read? Tasteful bath salts?

Or maybe you’ll get something awesome because you’ve bought it yourself.

A survey by Barclaycard revealed last week that on average we spend a whopping £280 on gifts for ourselves every year. I’m not talking ‘treats’ either, I mean actual presents for ourselves for birthdays and Christmas because we don’t trust other people to buy us something that isn’t awful.

What’s not clear from the survey is if we actually get this money back – are we choosing our pressies and being reimbursed discretely at a later date, or are we simply buying our own presents, full stop?

With me, it’s often the latter.

Being a single parent at Christmas and on birthdays can be a little depressing. You fork out loads of money on the kids, and what do you get in return? Lousy hand-made gifts and cards.* There’s no one in the house apart from you with an actual job, so you get the rather short end of the stick.

A couple of years ago I decided to take matters into my own hands. I was fed up with being the only one of the three of us in bed on Christmas morning not opening a stocking full of gifts. Father Christmas had very kindly left bulging bags of goodies at the foot of Bee and Belle’s beds, so where was mine? I put a note up the chimney, but nothing, nada. Desperate times called for desperate measures.

"Treats for Father Christmas"

I went to the cashpoint and took out forty quid. Then I came home and gave it to Bee. “Use this,” I told her, “to make me a Christmas stocking.” She looked a bit taken aback at first, but quickly came round to the idea, because who doesn’t love being given somebody else’s money to spend? “I want lots of things to open, but nothing crap.”

You have to be direct with children I find.

Christmas morning came around and hoorah! Santa had been for me too. It was very exciting and well worth the investment, even if most of the stocking budget seemed to have been blown on a teeny tiny iPod speaker in the shape of a jukebox. (I was more explicit the following year about what I meant by ‘crap’).

What do you reckon? Do you buy your own gifts? Or is it the thought that counts, even if the thought only goes as far as the bath salt aisle of Boots?

*This is a joke Belle. I love you hand-made gifts really. And the cute things you wrap up from your room.

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What did people say to you when you told them you were pregnant? After the congratulations were out of the way, how many times were you warned of the sleepless nights to come, the rollercoaster hormone ride?

How seriously did you take it though? ‘Oh yes, sleepless nights! How hard can it be? I’ll just nap when my baby naps, they have to sleep sometime right?’

*shakes head pityingly*

Of course sometimes it does go right. Take Bee for instance – she was a miracle baby, sleeping through the night from six weeks old. In my head it was all down to me and my chillaxed parenting style. I was more than happy to take all the credit for her amazing ability to sleep, right up until Belle was born that is. Then suddenly I was convinced it was nature and not nurture, how else could I explain Belle not sleeping through the night until she started school?

This is where Start4Life comes in. The Start4Life team of medical experts, midwives and health visitors has pulled together the essential information to help new parents focus on the most important things they can do to improve their health and to get their baby off to the best start. Whether it’s breastfeeding, post-natal exercise or just remembering to drink plenty of water, there’s a lot you can do to help keep your family fit and healthy.

Not only that, but they’ve given me three copies of What To Expect When You’re Expecting’ on DVD to give away. What To Expect When You’re Expecting follows the lives of five couples, dealing with the highs and lows of becoming parents, and concluding that no matter how hard you plan, sometimes life just throws the unexpected at you.

"What to expect when you're expecting"

If you’d like your own copy of the film, just leave a comment on this post with your top tip for new and expectant parents on things they can do to take care of themselves and give their baby the best possible start. The competition will close on 21 November and three winners will be picked at random.

Good luck!

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Bee has decided that she wants to enter the Great British Bake Off. She has downloaded the forms, and it asks questions about your experience of baking lots of different things like cakes, biscuits, pies and tarts.

Now Bee is good at baking, but it would be fair to say that she hasn’t attempted anything too complex up until now. Her ‘Tigger’s Spicy Biscuits’ are always a big hit, but are they Great British Bake Off standard?

So that she has something to talk about on her application, she is trying to cram in as much practice as possible, and so is helping me on my Whitworths baking challenge. Today she is making chewy oat and sultana cookies.

Ingredients

  • 100g butter
  • 100g Whitworths for baking fine caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 100g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 160g porridge oats
  • 100g sultanas

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180c/Gas Mark 4 and put on your pinny.

"apron"

Bee is well prepared

Lightly grease two baking sheets. Beat the sugar and butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy.

Add the honey and egg and continue to beat until combined. Add the spices and flour, beat to combine and finally add the oats and sultana.

"Cookie mixture"

The mixture was very tasty at this stage.

Spoon the mixture onto the baking sheets – you should be able to fit eight cookies on each sheet.

"Cookies ready for the oven"

Omanomnom

Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden. When they are cooked, allow to stand before two minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

"Cookies fresh from the oven"

Pretty tasty at this stage too as it happens.

Make a cup of tea, put your feet up, eat three cookies and focus on the goodness of the oats. Wholesome right?

Well done Bee!

For more food recipes & restaurant ideas please have a look at Bingo Wings.

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Sat in the laundrette this morning, (waiting for my washing to dry, not just hanging out, drifter style), I spotted this story in the paper about a baby hedgehog that got stuck in a crisp packet:

"baby hedgehog"

This story sums up for me everything I love about the human species, and at the same time, everything that completely baffles me.

Within most people there is a basic level of kindness and compassion. As a species, we are blessed with strength of character and determination in the face of danger – the kind of determination that makes you want to spend three and a half hours trying to get a hedgehog out of a crisp packet.

Yet while I sat in the laundrette, dozens and dozens of people walked past the woman outside the little Sainsbury’s next door selling The Big Issue without even acknowledging her. Now I’ve nothing against hedgehogs, but where is the logic in that?

Of course our irrationality and lack of perspective manifests itself often in wonderfully unpredictable creativity and passion for the most bizarre of things, but it also means that while baby hedgehogs all over the country are being rescued, other actual human beings are living in poverty, being abused, and coping alone with other devastating problems.

Does this make sense to you?

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