Last night I had one of those dreams about being in love.

When I was younger I used to have them about piles of pound coins, huge mountains of them that I would discover behind the sofa and run my hands through greedily. Now I have them about men.

The man in question is normally someone I have never met before, never seen before (although it was recently Peter Jones from Dragons Den), but I always just KNOW. He is The One.

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One of our Quality-time-family days-out over the summer holidays was to Wookey Hole – you may remember it being in the news a while ago when they advertised for a new witch? Well this is her:

We went with our friends Vicky and Ashley, and we really did have a lovely time. It’s one of those places that definitely makes the most of the space – it’s built around some caves and an old paper mill, and hats off to them for the amount of entertainment they have managed to cram in. In terms of ice-cream outlets per square foot, you certainly get value for money.

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I was reading a report today in The Guardian about student gap years, which claimed that for many young people, they are basically just an excuse for a year of excess – remote beach raves, drug fuelled orgies, and sexual promiscuity. Sounds alright to me really…
With Bee now in her final year of compulsory education, (I am so OLD!), it’s something I’ve found myself thinking more and more about – what exactly should I be encouraging her to do after school? Obviously I won’t be pushing her to settle for a nice little job in Subway, but is university nowadays really the best option? Do I want her to saddle herself with thousands of pounds worth of debt so early in life? And what about a gap year then – do they serve any purpose, or are they just a waste of time?

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I was coming home from visiting a friend in Cambridge over the summer holidays, and as I drove down the slip road onto the motorway I was faced with a giant billboard, offering me the chance to meet the man of my dreams through the website sugardaddie.com.

As the name almost suggests, the site offers the opportunity for both men and women to meet people who are “classy, attractive and affluent” at the same time as “eradicating the issues of financial stress that modern living can bring”.

Sounds good doesn’t it?

I’ve never had Money. As a child we never had money, which is why at 16 I became pregnant in a bid to get my own council house and sponge off the state for life. (Joke.) The pregnancy part isn’t a joke of course, but I have never lived in a council house…

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I was walking through town yesterday morning, enjoying the freedom of the first day back at school, when I heard music coming from somewhere. It was a tune I knew and liked – I could just hear it faintly, more of a hum really…

Then I realised it was coming from me.

“You really shouldn’t sing out loud to yourself,” I said out loud to myself.

“Or talk out loud,” I added, out loud.

I shut up then.

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“…fizzle, frazzle, and shout HOORAY!!”

At George’s insistence, as he stirred up his giant metal pan of medicine, every child in the Bristol Hippodrome, plus some of the adults, were screaming the spell at the top of their voices, as desperate as George to turn his horrid Grandma into a kind, sweet old lady.

“Bull and cow cure, ” mused George, examining the animal medicines in the shed, “that would be perfect for an old cow! Shall I put it in?”

“YESSSSSS!” screeched Belle on my right, “put it IIINNNN!”

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It’s a well-known scientific fact* that the book is always better than the film version of a story. Seriously, try to name me an example where a film surpasses a book – there just isn’t one.

It’s all to do with the power of your imagination.

I remember the first time I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a child. The impossibly fantastic sugary creations that came out of Willy Wonka’s incredible mind where just that – impossible. In my head though, it was all infinitely plausible, my imagination had no boundaries. “Violet! You’re turning violet, Violet!” I could really taste that gum in my mind – the hot tomato soup, the succulent roast beef, the not quite perfected dessert…

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It hardly seems like any time at all since I was ‘looking forward’ to six weeks of summer holidays, yet here we are, with only a few days until they are back to school and I can return to messing about on the internet in peace. I mean working of course.

I’ve never been terribly organised when it comes to getting ready to go back to school, so was actually pretty impressed to find myself in Clarks on Monday, a good week and a half before term begins. Despite my valiant attempts at beating the crowds, it was still packed with excitable children and panic-stricken parents, and the dreaded ticket system was in operation. They were on 83 when we arrived and we were number 92. It didn’t take too long though, and when they called out ‘number 92!’ I resisted the urge to ask for 4oz of olives and half a dozen slices of crumbed ham, so all was well.

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I would love to be one of those mothers who enjoys spending hours baking, painting, and building airplanes out of lolly sticks, but I’m just not.

Apart from the odd bit of cutting and sticking – who doesn’t like cutting pretty pictures out of magazines? – I hate pretty much all kids’ craft activities.

Seriously, they are DULL. View Post

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This month I have been reading Freedom, the new book from Jonathan Franzen.

I haven’t read anything by Franzen before, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect, and if I’m honest I was rather daunted by sheer chunkiness of it. 570 pages to be exact.

I do love reading, I really do. So much so that in 2008 I made a resolution to read 100 books in the year, and managed 104. But, at the moment I just don’t seem to have the time – I read four pages in bed, fall asleep, then have to go back two the next night to remind myself what happened. I thought Freedom was going to take me years…

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OK, it’s not that bad really, not blood and guts gruesome, but everyone I’ve told in real life has been consistently repulsed, so I thought I would share – lucky you!

I recently went on a date, a blind date in fact, with a man I met through a dating site before I got too scared and hid my profile, and who I had kept in touch with via email.

It was a fairly regular, suitably awkward first date in most ways. I arrived early and settled myself on a sofa with the paper so I could be calm and collected when he arrived, and not do my usual trick of turning up ten minutes late, fighting the urge to run away and hide under a duvet. I was served by a rather dishy waiter, who maintained eye contact for slightly longer than was strictly necessary, and who rather threw me off my stride as a result – I couldn’t help but keep glimpsing him throughout the lunch and thinking ‘Hmm… I’d rather be on a date with you…’

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This weekend, in true summer holiday style, we went to Bristol Zoo, with my sister and my 15 month old nephew, Finn. Here we are see, proof that we know how to rock and roll with the best of them:

I’m not sure how to feel about zoos. I know there is a large chunk of opinion that says they are cruel, and you can’t help but wonder about the sanity of a larger-than-man-sized gorilla spending it’s days in an area smaller than my house, but on the other hand, Bristol Zoo actually does a massive amount of international conservation work, and isn’t particularly full of large animals pacing their cages, looking like they’ve just spent six weeks shut up in the house with a gang of toddlers.

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