Yesterday afternoon was one of those lovely afternoons where you get engrossed in an activity and look up to find it has got dark.

Belle was at her Dad’s, and Bee came home from school to find me having a little lie down in bed, as you do, in preparation for having to stay up past 10pm later that evening. She came and sat in bed with me and decided she wanted to get herself some moo cards and stickers. If you haven’t come across these before you should really have a look – they are mini business cards you can personalise with up to 100 of your own photos on the back, so every card has a unique design.

Anyway, I digress.

I had recently uploaded all the old photos from our wind up, clockwork computer, onto an external hard drive, so we wouldn’t have to wait three days for every new picture to load, whilst listening to the tower whirr and grind like an old fashioned windmill. Blimey, am I really talking about hard drives? Gosh, this is a terribly dull post. Basically, the point is that we ended up spending a lovely two and a half hours looking through all our old photos and gasping over how tanned and plump and glossy we all looked. Look at these chubby cheeks:

I love this one too at the donkey sanctuary. Belle has such a serious expression on her face, as though she is presenting a Open University programme on donkeys:

Now last year, as part of a competition with my pregnant sister whereby I had to weigh less than she did at nine months pregnant (she is very thin, honest), I lost about 20lbs. At the time I was thrilled, but looking back I’m not so sure it has done me any favours. I certainly don’t generally feel happier because of it. Looking back I can’t help but feel that actually I looked pretty good with a bit of extra weight. Sort of fuller and rounder, and younger too. I don’t know. Like this one of me and Bee at a festival in summer 2008. Look at that cleavage!

I look at the three of us now, and I worry that we have lost our shine. We all look a bit pasty and tired. Our skin doesn’t glow like it did. I know it’s winter, and I’m sure we’ll all look much better in a few months time, but I do wonder if we should more often look back through at pictures of ourselves and pay more attention to our exteriors, as a way of looking at our interiors. It was obvious from the photos over the years when we were going through happy periods, like here:

You can also see when times were perhaps tougher. Yet it is so easy to ignore these obvious outward signs, albeit unintentionally. I’m not saying we’re having an awful time or anything, but I think it would be fair to say the last six to twelve months have been hard work, with lots of changes, and that this is starting to show.

So my plan for the next six months is to feed us up, get us out in the sunshine and shake off the cobwebs. By the end of the summer I want us all to have shiny coats, waggy tails and wet noses. Hoorah! Now where did I put that Dairy Milk

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Personally, I try to watch as little kids TV as possible. For me, the likes of CBBC is basically free childcare – why would I stick the kids in front of a cartoon, thus freeing up valuable time for messing around on the internet working, only then to sit and watch it with them?? It just doesn’t make sense.

Some of my friends though see a dual purpose for kids TV, namely the selection of attractive young presenters and the double entendres. OK, so sometimes this makes it worthwhile, but sometimes it is a bit much. There were far to many anal probe gags for my liking in Planet 51 for instance.

What I’ve never quite understood though is crushes on cartoons, Jessica Rabbit style. I know a lot of people secretly quite fancy a roll in the mud with Daddy Pig – like this mummy at Notes from Inside My Head – but I confess I’ve always felt slightly weird fantasising about a cartoon pig. Call me narrow-minded, old-fashioned, what you will – it just seems wrong.

So when the lovely people at Peppa Pig offered me a copy of the new DVD to watch, I thought the time had come to educate myself, and see if I could be charmed by Daddy Pig’s rugged good looks and assertive manner.

So what did the family make of ‘Peppa Pig – the Fire Engine and Other Stories’? Well, we loved it! Even my mum enjoyed it, but then she does have rather a fondness for kids TV. I actually bought her a Peppa Pig annual for Christmas, but that’s another story. Bee was a little disturbed by the idea of a pet ladybird that barked, but then she is 14 and rather pedantic. “Ladybirds just wouldn’t bark!” she protested. I tried to point out that as a rule pigs don’t talk and put out BBQ fires, but she wasn’t convinced.

I have to confess I didn’t feel any chemistry for Daddy Pig, although I did notice that Mummy Pig quite often comes over all coy and giggly in his presence, and generally looks quite pleased with herself, so he must be doing something right. Aside from that though, it was great fun. Forget blogging and wasting time on twitter, I think I might start watching kids TV in the daytime…

Peppa Pig – The Fire Engine and Other Stories is out on 29 March

Photo credit: Sarah and Mike ..probably

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I’ve started playing this game with Belle, as we walk to school, where we imagine and describe our perfect days. It began one morning as a distraction from one of her ‘tummy aches’ – the kind that come on mysteriously at about 8am on weekday mornings. Sometimes, like this morning, I am given a theme – ‘your perfect day at Centreparcs Mummy’ – other mornings my imagination is allowed to run wild.

The trouble is, I’m not sure my imagination IS actually very wild at all. Theme or no theme, I find the game quite tricky. I can’t decide whether I am terribly dull, or just very easy to please – I am the type of person who derives hours of fun from alphabetising my books, or from shredding old credit card bills.

Most of my imaginary perfect days start with me waking up to sunshine, often with some kind of warm, tropical breeze blowing gently through some open patio doors. This morning, I included waking up to find Colin Firth next to me in bed. Belle looked slightly shocked. “I hope you’re wearing something!” she said.

“Oh yes”, I reassured her, “I’ll have my best pyjamas on.”

“And what about Colin?”

“Of course, he’ll definitely have pyjamas on too. He’s really only there to bring me coffee and smoked salmon bagels.”

Belle looked relieved.

Belle’s perfect days are fairly predictable, and revolve mainly around watching a bit of TV and having pizza for tea, but I find mine harder to imagine. Maybe it’s because the whole of my adult life has been spent as a parent, but the littlest things for me are often the ones I enjoy most. Coffee and the papers in bed, nice things to eat, or just half an hour on my own in the sunshine. It honestly is the simple things in live that give me pleasure.

So I need some inspiration – what would be your perfect day? Is it something terribly glamorous and exciting, or is it something as simple as going to the toilet without interruptions from an insistent toddler? Being a parent definitely makes you appreciate the little joys…

Photo credit Robert Otani

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This post is a shameless boast. Not a boast on my behalf you understand. This is a boast on behalf of my step-sister, Rebecca Cobb, who is a little bit too shy to blow her own trumpet.

Rebecca lives in Falmouth, where she works partly in a lovely shop in the town centre, and the rest of the time as an illustrator. Rebecca has recently illustrated a book, written by Helen Dunmore:

Isn’t it gorgeous? She is really very talented 🙂

The story of how the work came about is lovely too. The shop Rebecca works in is opposite a bookshop, and she had some of her pictures up in the window for sale. The owner of the bookshop happened to notice them one day, and popped into the shop to ask who had painted them.

It turned out that he was a friend of Helen Dunmore, knew she was writing the book, and thought Rebecca’s style would really suit it. How cool is that? Just goes to show you never know where your next piece of work is going to come from!

The story is set is Falmouth, but I’m not going to tell you what happens, you’ll have to buy the book for that – it is out on 1 April, and is available to pre-order from Amazon.

So now if you’re ever looking for an illustrator, you know where to go!

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I don’t have anything clever or funny to say today. (Don’t stop reading though).

I just wanted to say a genuine, heart-felt ‘Happy Mothers Day’ to all the wonderful mummies who read my blog, and to those that don’t (seriously – what’s wrong with it?). We spend everyday reflecting on ourselves as mothers, questioning our parenting, wondering if we are doing a good enough job… Well today is the day to say ‘actually, I do a pretty damn good job. Maybe sometimes I’m not as patient as I’d like, maybe sometimes we eat chicken nuggets, but I do my best, and that is good enough.’

So please give yourself a big pat on the back for doing your best at what is surely the most challenging job in the whole wide world. Go on… actually do it… no really, I’m watching, I’ll know if you don’t. How will I know? Mummies just DO.

xxxxxxxxxxxxx

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