We have now moved house.

Thank God.

The day itself was just a teeny tiny bit longer and more stressful than I imagined. “It’ll be fine!” I was practically chanting in the weeks and days beforehand. “We’ll be all done by tea-time and by the next day it’ll be like we’ve lived there all our lives!”

*roars with laughter, verging on hysteria*

Picture me at 10.30pm, standing, shivering, in the pouring rain on the van rental forecourt, crying because I lacked the basic skills to back Boyfriend properly into a space rather than a nearby car. It was not a pretty sight. Boyfriend sent me home to bed at this point, fearing some sort of breakdown, and continued the ferrying of my bags and boxes of rubbish on his own in the car until 2am.

(He is very lovely indeed.)

Now it would be fair to say that our new house is a little bit smaller than our last house, but I’m not sure it warrants Bee nicknaming it the ghetto and singing this song around the house:

 

A bit harsh I would say.

This is the point at which I end with an amusing fact or witty sign-off but I am too tired and my hands still ache from all the carrying so instead I might just go for a little lie-down amongst the bin-liners.

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Tomorrow I am moving house.

In twelve hours time I will actually be picking up an actual van and having to fill it with all of the things in the house. All of them. Not just a few of them.

And then, to add insult to injury, I have to drive them half a mile around the corner and take them all out again.

Crazy times.

"moving house"

Moving house

I thought, looking around the house when we first decided to move, that we didn’t have that much stuff. We’ve got rid of lots of furniture, as we’re moving somewhere smaller, and in my mind it was really just a sofa, a couple of beds and a few boxes of books. Oh deary, deary me, how wrong I was. We may not have masses of furniture, no wardrobes or big bookcases to speak of, but my God we have a lot of shite.

There are so many things that you just wouldn’t think of, that seem to blend into the house, so that you don’t notice them until you pile them all up in one room and stand back, aghast.

I’ve done a quick stock take of some of the things you might not normally consider, and we have:

  • 17 house plants
  • 12 outdoor plants in tubs
  • 43 framed pictures, including 4 large canvas prints
  • 3 bikes and 2 scooters
  • 3 printers. Who on earth needs 3 printers? We only have one desktop computer. It is quite ridiculous.

This is just a teeny tiny part of the list.

As we speak, my downstairs is piled floor to ceiling with the detritus that I have collected over the years and I am hiding upstairs in a now empty bedroom, afraid to look.

Wish me luck…

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“Have you got any tissues?” Bee asks me. “I need to blow my nose.”

“No, sorry,” I reply.

She looks like she doesn’t believe me, like I might be deliberately withholding my secret supply of tissues just for jokes. “Have you not got any anywhere?”

I’m driving and we’re on the motorway, so I’m not exactly sure where she’s expecting me to find some.

“There’s an old bit of kitchen roll on the floor in the back with oil on it?” I offer.

She doesn’t look keen.

“Belle,” she barks into the back, “look in Mummy’s handbag and find me a tissue.”

Belle does as she’s told, but the best she can come up with is a piece of A4 paper with a map of Bristol on it.

“You can’t use that,” I say, “it won’t have any absorbency. You’ll have to use a pair of pants or something.”

(We are on the motorway driving Bee down to stay with some friends, so she does have an overnight bag with her. I wasn’t suggesting she take off the pants she was wearing or anything.)

“No way,” she says, clearly disgusted, “that’s gross. Can’t you stop at some services?”

“No!”

“Well then, I’m going to use the map.”

I should probably explain at this point that Bee has quite a bad cold. Needing to blow her nose isn’t just a casual whim; it’s a matter of urgency. I’m sceptical about the usefulness of a paper map when it comes to blowing noses, but Bee is adamant.

It does not go well. I hear a muffled ‘ergh!’ through the mix of mucus and paper. The map it seems is not terribly effective as a tissue. As I predicted, the lack of absorbency is a bit of a problem.

“It’s all over my face!” Bee wails. “What shall I do?”

“I told you to use pants!” I say, trying to keep a straight face and half an eye on the road. She rummages in her bag, but not for pants.

“This is going to be gross,” she says, pulling out a pack of Always Ultra (with wings), “but don’t judge me.” I am speechless. I give her a look, raising my eyebrows. “What?” she says, trying to look nonchalant, as though it’s perfectly normal to have snot on your chin and to be about to wipe your face with sanitary protection, “they’re absorbent!”

"Always Ultra"

There is a reason Always Ultra are not enriched with aloe vera. They are NOT designed for blowing your nose.

Anyone looking into our car at that moment may have been rather taken aback. “You look like you’re sniffing a sanitary towel,” I pointed out, as she struggled to blow her nose, Always Ultra sticking to her fingers.*

Always Ultra, we soon learn, are not designed for blowing noses, (although they are an improvement on the paper.) Despite working her way through two pads, she still has to clear up afterwards with her spare pants.

We arrive in Bridgwater, trying desperately to block the last hour from our memories, and as we get out of the car, Bee stuffs her hands into her pockets. “Oh no!” she cries, and pulls out a wad of tissue…

*Why she took the backing off I do not know…

 

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Here’s a fact for you – did you know that 25% of your bones are in your feet?

You did? Well clever you. Go straight to the top of the class and have one of these lovely stickers.

"Well done sticker"

What this means though is that it’s really important to look after your feet. My children may have laughed at my new shoes, but they wouldn’t be laughing if I wore pointy toed heels all the time and developed crippling bunions, leaving me unable to get up and cook them dinner every day would they?

*shouts* No they would not!

(Why they can’t make me dinner now and again I don’t know, but that’s a different post…)

The problems go further than your feet too. If any of the fragile bones in your feet become misaligned your whole body could be affected, causing knee, hip or back problems, in turn impacting on your muscular structure and posture. My comfy shoes aren’t looking quite so silly now are they?

So who are the key shoe culprits and what can you do to ensure your feet stay in tip top condition for a life of maternal servitude?

Ultra High-Heels. Podiatrists label these as ‘shoe-icide’. This type of shoe can cause an endless list of problems including ankle sprains, bunions, blisters, broken toes and in-growing toe nails. You also run the risk of looking like a bit of a tramp. The majority of these problems are easily avoidable if you ‘go-low’ and choose a heel no more than 5cm high.

Stiletto. The narrow heel is risky as your weight is distributed over a very small area, which is why some of us look like we are walking on stilts. It’s also why I can never return to the house of an ex-boss, where my red patent stilettos accidentally put a hole in the carpet. Wearing this type of shoe increases your risk of falling, tripping, or spraining your ankle, and generally looking stupid as a result. To reduce this risk, and to prevent awkward boss related moments, choose a chunky heel as they have more surface area and provide a more even weight distribution.

"Heels"

Beware

Ballet Shoes. Just because they don’t have a heel doesn’t mean that they are ok to wear – they’re actually one of the worst offenders for causing damage to our feet. Since they are very flat they offer no support for the foot, so our feet can’t function properly in them when walking around. This leads to knee and hip problems, and is closely associated with a very painful foot condition called ‘plantar fasciitis’.  If you love the look of ballet shoes, orthotic inserts may help prevent the foot pain by providing extra cushioning and support.

Platform Shoe. When I was about 19 I had a pair of awesome ‘going out shoes’. They were leopard print strappy platform heels – about two inches high at the front and five inches at the back. I never went home on my own when I was wearing those shoes. However, they were not great for my feet. The rigid foot bed in a platform shoe throws off the biometrics of walking as the shoe prevents your foot from bending naturally. In addition the high heel means that your heel is higher than the toe area, putting pressure on the metatarsal bones. Flatter platforms, ‘flatforms’ may not provide a solution but provide a better alternative. These put less strain on your feet and the lower heel means that there is less pressure on the ball of the foot.

Pointy Shoes. The point squeezes the front of your foot together and repeatedly wearing this style causes nerve pain, bunions, blisters or foot deformities. Not sexy. Select a boxier shoe with with room to wiggle your toes, or if these just aren’t your style look for a point that forms beyond the edge of your to as these wont squeeze your toes together. Wearing pointy shoes has never been an issue for me – my comedy light bulb toes simply refuse to be squeezed into anything narrow.

Who’d have thought there were so many ways of damaging your feet? It really is hard enough work being a woman without having to worry about bunions, so next time you’re choosing shoes, take my advice and go for something nice and comfy. You’ll thank me for it one day I’m sure, especially if that day involves you lying in a gutter with your heel stuck in a drain after one too many gins.

Believe me, I know.

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There aren’t many things that a cup of tea can’t solve. Alright, maybe ‘solve’ is pushing it a bit, but I always find a cup of tea can take the edge off at least. When my sister comes to visit she mocks me for the amount of tea I drink, but I don’t care, there is just something so comforting about hot drinks, especially on cold days when you can wrap your cold hands around the mug and blow hot steam into your face.

I also have a bit of a thing about pretty drinks and taking pictures of them. Yes that’s right, I am that woman in the cafe on her own taking pictures of her tea.

"Beautiful tea"

How could you resist?

The one thing I do struggle with in cafes though is what to choose. I’m not very decisive at the best of times, and tea or coffee is challenging enough, but nowadays of course there are about a million different types of tea and coffee to choose from. Too much choice unfortunately tends to lead me to make impulse decisions, like when I go into McDonalds, panic at all the burger varieties, and end up with a Filet-O-Fish.

It was too much choice that lead recently to me ordering a green tea latte:

"Green tea latte"

It’s good to try new things after all, even if only once.

And if you think green tea is fancy enough, then hold onto your seats, because the tea fun doesn’t stop there, oh no…

The Whittard website features no less than 16 different types of green tea alone, from the very exciting sounding gunpowder variety, which in its packet doesn’t look anywhere near as scary as it sounds:

"Gunpowder tea"

A taste explosion! (Boom boom).

to the intriguing sencha tea, described as ‘a tea of spontaneity, made for friends and strangers alike’.

"Milky Oolong"

Milky Oolong anyone? It’s prized for its silken texture, creamy taste and incredible aroma don’t you know.

Can’t make up your mind which tea is for you? Best put the kettle on while you think about it…

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