Well she’s less under it to be honest, and more over and around it.

“Mummy!” she yelled, unwrapping the parcel waiting for her in the kitchen. “You’re the best Mummy in the whole world ever! I’ve always dreamed of having my own microscope but never thought it would come true!”

She does loves a bit of drama. She’s trying out for Oliver at school at the moment. I think she has a pretty good shot.

The parcel was indeed a microscope, courtesy of Galt Toys, although I’m doubtful that it will herald any amazing scientific discoveries, as it costs less than £20. Still, Belle was over the moon about the prospect of being able to see bugs close up, so who was I to crush her dreams?

"Microscope for kids"

Belle’s Microscopic Monsters kit, courtesy of Galt Toys


Try as I might to help by carefully reading aloud the instructions, Belle was having none of it, and was ripping bits out of the box before I even had chance to fetch her lab coat.*

She seemed pretty content fiddling about with the preloaded slides, so I left her to it and went to make a cup of tea. After about ten minutes I came back. “How are you getting on?” I asked, adopting that very motherly ‘arms folded thoughtfully across chest with mug of tea in hand’ pose.

“It’s awesome!” she said. “Look through there, you can see my blood!”


I’d only left her for ten minutes.

“Blood?” I said, trying to sound casual and not like I wanted to call an ambulance. “How did you get blood on a slide?”

“Oh it’s fine,” she waved me away, peering back through her beloved microscope, “nothing to worry about.”

I had a look through the eyepiece, slightly hesitant about what her blood might reveal, but to be honest it looks to me just like the fungi slide. And the one she did of her own hair. Perhaps I was missing something. Belle though was adamant that all her slides looked different, and as long as she’s happy, so am I.

Who am I to stand in the way of science?

*She doesn’t actually have a lab coat, but how cute would that be? Or possibly a little menacing, depending on her mood.


A recent study by Flora Cuisine has revealed that over a third of mums in the UK are preparing up to three meals each evening in order to satisfy the individual preferences of children and partners.

Three meals!? I find cooking one meal tedious enough, but three? Crazy times.

I’m pretty sure my Gran didn’t used to cook three separate meals every mealtime. My mum just got fried eggs and chips and was grateful. So what’s going on here? Are we raising a generation of fussy eaters, or of parents too frazzled and disenchanted to argue?

Now I’ll admit that sometimes I will ‘tweak’ a dinner to make sure there is at least one type of vegetable that Belle will eat, but that’s just a case of a few extra peas here, and the removal from her plate of anything courgette based, it’s not that I’m cooking entirely different dishes. Who are these women with all this time on their hands?


Eat your peas or you don’t get pudding

The survey also showed that us mums are rather lacking in imagination, or possibly motivation, with 72% of us just cooking the same meals over and over again. Oh the joys of parenting! Around two-thirds of us apparently own recipe books we don’t use because the ingredients are too expensive and the recipes too long and complicated. Makes sense to me. I only buy them for the pictures.

So what can we do about this? Well, there’s the ‘shut up, eat it and be grateful’ school of thought of course – that saves on the cooking time but increases the risk of whingeing – or you could argue that it’s good to provide kids with choice, and to give them food they enjoy. Flora are taking a different approach. They’re putting together a recipe book full of cheap and quick meal ideas from real mums. Post your recipe on their facebook page and you could even win a prize! Fish fingers and baked beans anyone?

What do you think? Are we just spoiling our kids and creating extra work for ourselves or is it important to cater for everyone’s tastes?


Photo credit – mschmidt62


Despite not even applying for olympic tickets, this morning Belle and I got into the olympic spirit and went to watch the torch relay as it came through Bristol. There were already hundreds of people lining the streets when we arrived at our spot, so we queued up for our free Cokes, in true commercial style, and set up camp with some friends from Belle’s school, who we had spotted on the other side of the road.

"Bristol olympic torch relay"

Rule Britannia etc etc

It wasn’t long before the crowd started getting excitable, as a series of police bikes approached, followed by an assortment of strange advertising buses. I was slightly confused, as there appeared to be a boy, dressed in white, getting off a bus and holding the torch at the side of the road throughout this procession. I didn’t think that was how it worked. Can you spot him?

After this initial surge of activity, the boy with the torch was still there, and we of course rushed over to touch it. Belle apparently is ‘never washing her hands again’. Any excuse.

"olympic torch"

Someone pass him a match?

Then though the excitement started up again, and it dawned on me that we were standing at a spot where the flame was being passed over, (I understand the relay concept now), and this torch boy was actually just waiting for the flame to come along. I did thing it was a bit weird that it wasn’t even lit. I am quite slow though sometimes.

"olympic torch relay"

Feel that Olympic spirit…

By this point, thinking the fun was over, I had kindly let an old lady stand in front of me, so didn’t have such a good view. Still, if you ignore that massive head taking up a lot of the picture, I think you get some sense of the occasion.

Hooray for torch boy!


You’d think that with the wealth of technology we have at our fingertips nowadays that something as simple as a pen and paper would be practically obsolete. And fountain pens? A relic of the past surely?

Apparently not.

According to the BBC today sales of fountain pens are rising, and Amazon say that sales so far this year are four times that of the same period in 2010. That’s a crazy rise isn’t it? What’s causing this amazing fountain pen resurgence? Are we all sick of gadgets and hankering after the past?

"Fountain pen"

The power of the pen


I do wonder if I have been partly responsible for the trend, as I have bought about six fountain pens in the last few months. Everyone in Belle’s class is required to write with a fountain pen, and Belle unfortunately hasn’t quite got the hang of pressing gently and evenly, resulting in a costly number of snapped nibs.

It would seem though that Belle’s school are in a minority, and that most schools no longer insist on children using fountain pens. In fact, one headmaster at a school in Stockport even went so far apparently as to ban GCSE pupils from using fountain pens, as he was worried it would affect their exam performance.

Despite getting through them quicker than Bee gets through crates of Angel Delight, Belle loves using a fountain pen. She happily spends time sat up in bed practising her best handwriting, and her choice of pen seems to give her a sense of importance, that makes her take her work just a little bit more seriously. Her pen gives her gravitas, just as lawyers and doctors using fountain pens inspire an air of authority and confidence.

Is this the power of the pen in action?

What do you think? Do you have a special place in your heart for fountain pens or is this possibly the dullest post you’ve read all week?

Photo credit – Linda Cronin



Are you the parent you always thought you’d be, or do you do things a little differently from how you first intended?

I’ve been thinking lately about all the things I do as a parent that I’m not exactly proud of, and wondering if it’s normal to give up so quickly on so many of your principles. Do other parents set out with an idea of the parent they want to be, only to slip into bad habits the minute their baby is born?

Take food for instance. We know that sugar is Bad and fruit and vegetables are Good. No one wants to be the mum with the kid hanging off a Fruit Shoot right? Yet how many of us can honestly say the snacks we give our children are always quite as wholesome as they could be? Haven’t you ever sat your toddler in a trolley whilst simultaneously cracking open a packet of chocolate buttons, just so you can do at least the first ten minutes of the shopping in relative peace?

I know I have.


Bell’s first food

Baby names are another one. I can’t bear the whole ‘quirky’ kids names thing. Seriously, what child wants to be burdened with a name like ‘Apple’ all their life? It’s just not fair. So what is Belle’s middle name?



She had a pointy pixie ear when she was born, which I thought would grow out. It didn’t. And the worst bit? I love that she’s called Pixie! That makes me one of those jazz hands parents doesn’t it?

And then there are dummies. Before I had kids I hated the sight of a child with a dummy. How common it looked! How lazy those parents must be!

Yes, I really thought that, and don’t pretend you haven’t either. How judgemental we all are! When your baby has been crying for hours on end though, and you’re about ready to bash it with a rolling pin, a dummy is a very sensible alternative.

The truth is that until you become a parent you really just don’t understand. Everyone says that I know, but it’s true. So when you’re next dishing up chicken nuggets in front of the TV, don’t feel too bad – the slip from the parenting pedestal happens to the best of us.

Photo credit – Aljoharah Saud


I’m definitely not a ‘shopper’ in the ‘Oooh I simply must have yet another pair of shoes’ sense, but one type of shopping I do like is buying presents. To me, shopping for gifts feels like getting all the fun of buying pretty things, but without any of the guilt. It’s a present after all, something you have to buy, so it just can’t be helped can it?

It’s probably why I enjoy Christmas so much, and why I’ve bought rather an alarming number of Christmas presents already – every time I get the urge to spend some money on myself, I buy a present instead, and then I don’t feel bad.

Anyhoo, this is why I didn’t mind too much when Bamarang asked if I would have a poke about on their website, and see what I thought. Bamarang only launched at the beginning of this year, but are going all out to create a sale site with a bit of a difference. Yes they bring you massive discounts, but what they also want to do is bring you carefully chosen brands and designers, that they’ve picked because they really love their products.

As we speak they are in the middle of a one week only kids sale, with five specially selected brands, who they have chosen for their high quality, heritage and traditional values – Le Petit Prince, Vilac, Juliet the Band, Solar International and Trousellier.

All the products are discounted, so if you’re like me and can’t resist starting your Christmas shopping just a tiny bit earlier than strictly necessary, now would be a great time to stock up on gifts.

A few of my favourite things on sale right now:

This Bunny Angel rattle from Trousellier is very cute indeed, comes in a lovely gift box, and is reduced to just £6.50:

"Bunny Angel"

Bunny Angel

You can’t go wrong with a wooden train set can you? Ours was one of the only things I kept to hand down to future babies, and this Noddy version from Vilac is rather lovely:

"Noddy train set"

All aboard!

It’s not just toys either. Juliet and the Band do a beautiful range of kids’ clothes – this grey dress is my favourite on sale at the moment:

"Juliet and the Band dress"

Too cool for school


If you like the look of any of these, and want to have a bit of a browse, you can sign up to Bamarang now and get £10 off your first purchase. Lucky you!

This is a sponsored post, but all the content and opinions are my own.


Lots of people moan about their partners when they’re in a relationship. I’ve been guilty of it myself in the past – it’s just too easy isn’t it? You don’t want to make a fuss, you want to avoid a row, so instead you content yourself with complaining to your friends over a glass of wine or two, or fantasising about what life might be like if you were single.

Personally though, I’m more than happy to be in a relationship. Yes there may be petty annoyances sometimes, but I think on the whole it’s a pretty good deal. I certainly find it easier than having to spend hours writing witty yet approachable online dating profiles.

I love the intimacy of being able to share my thoughts with someone and not be judged, I love the contentment, being able to relax and be myself, and I love the security of knowing there is at least one person who is putting me at top of their list.

*vomiting noises*

Yes I know it’s soppy but what can I say? I am a happy bunny. Still, I’m not going to go on about it. Instead I’ve been thinking about all the little things that I like about being part of a couple, and have come up with a list of my top seven more light-hearted reasons why I’m glad not to be single:

  1. You never have to worry about dating a man who twiddles the hair on his mole ever again.
  2. You have someone to warm your feet on in bed. My feet get painfully cold, so I really do like this one.
    "cup of tea"

    Tea for two

  3. You can order a take-away without either having to do a pathetic ‘meal for one’ or ordering too much and looking like a greedy pig.
  4. There is someone else in the house who will make you a cup of tea without huffing and puffing and complaining about never having asked to be born.
  5. When you’re really tired at bedtime you can just run upstairs really quickly and the other person has to turn off all the lights and check the doors.
  6. If you are feeling a bit sad, there is someone around who will notice and give you a cuddle.
  7. You can sigh heavily and look wearily at a full bin/overgrown lawn/empty fridge and someone will probably do something about it.

Seriously, what’s not to love? What are your best bits about being in a relationship?

Photo credit – hellojenguine


There has been a lot of talk this week about the cover of Time Magazine showing a mum breastfeeding her three year old son.

Are you Mom enough?

Are you Mom enough?


What exactly is the question here?

Are you Mom enough to continue to provide your child with vital nutrients just because they can walk unadided now?

Are you Mom enough to offer your child a source of comfort and security?

Are you Mom enough to want to protect your child from infections and allergies?

Well yes I am. Thank you very much.

I breastfed Belle until she was two and a half years old. I’d do the same again, for longer if I felt like it. I’m not ashamed of it because IT IS NORMAL.

Breastfeeding upside down

Belle gets experimental on her first birthday. This perhaps is not so normal. Swallowing upside down isn’t easy.


So here’s what I think – breastfeeding a three year old is normal and something to be proud of. There is no evidence at all that breastfeeding an older child does them any harm, physically or emotionally. In fact the opposite is true.


Go on, I dare you.


It’s a title I never thought I’d write, but lately I’ve started enjoying gardening more and more.

It could just be age, or perhaps it’s that I live in a house at the moment with a garden that actually feels worth looking after, but whatever the case I wanted to embrace it, and think about what it is I love about gardening.

It’s just outdoor tidying up. I may loathe the type of housework that involves getting your hands wet, but tidying up I can do. Clean a sink? No thank you. Arrange books and magazine neatly in piles? Why yes, I’ll take that on.

Gardening is really just like this. You don’t have to wash the plants, or get anti-bacterial spray anywhere, you just need to tidy up the weeds and make sure the garden is arranged neatly. Last weekend I took it one step further and had a go at creating a straight edge along part of the lawn. It really is very satisfying to look at from the landing window.

lawn edging

I admire my nicely trimmed lawn

You can make things grow. Actual Things. As if by magic. It’s very inspiring. Indoors, I am slowly filling the house with spider plants, transplanting dozens of spider babies, and marvelling daily at the fact that they don’t die. Outdoors in the garden I’ve even attempted a bit of grow your own. This year I am growing some salad leaves, (pause for gasps of admiration), and we have a small apple tree from where Belle planted a pip when she was about two years old. I was so surprised when that grew. I thought it was a myth.

grow you own salad

Grow your own salad

The colours. Need I say more?


Something purple we have in our garden

The smells. When I first came to look at our house, I knew it was too big and too expensive, but whenever I rounded the corner of the patio, underneath the honeysuckle clad pergola, I positively swooned. It’s such a naturally pure and beautiful thing. When I stand and smell a plant I love I am transported for just a split second out of myself, the smell fills my head.

pergola Bristol house

My favourite spot under the pergola

Watching my boyfriend cut the grass. Yes I know this isn’t technically gardening, in the sense that I am normally just sat on the step drinking a cup of tea, but hearing and smelling the grass being cut is really the essence of gardening isn’t it?

Besides, it’s not just about that. Watching him with the lawnmower makes me come over all funny. Contented I think is the word. It conjures up a lovely feeling of security, like I’m being taken care of, and almost makes me want to have a baby bump to stroke, except without having the baby at the end.

So there you go, that’s the five things I love most about gardening. Are you a gardener? What do you love about being in the garden?


I have to say straight up that I don’t have the answer to this, I was sort of hoping you might provide it. I just wanted to have a moan.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about the sheer relentlessness and futility of parenting. It came about from a discussion about teeth cleaning. I was complaining that I couldn’t get Belle to clean her teeth properly, and confessed that I had got to the point where in all honesty, I just don’t care any more.

I have been nagging one child or another to clean their teeth/tidy their room/wash their hands/turn lights off for SIXTEEN YEARS now and I am bored of it. I am absolutely sick of it. I never want to do it again.

How to get children to clean their teeth

*face palm*

“Pop and clean your teeth before you go then,” I’ll say to Belle before she leaves for school.

“ARRRGGGHHH!” she’ll wail back at me, stomping off to the bathroom. “I’ll just be LATE then shall I? Is THAT what you want?”

*forced deep breath on my part*

“I’ve done them,” she says, reappearing ten seconds later.

No! No you haven’t! You clearly haven’t!

Why don’t they just listen??

Why, when I have told them 27,394 times, do they still just ‘forget’ to do such simple things or think I’m so stupid I have no concept of the passing of time?

It makes me want to punch myself in the face out of pure frustration.

I know that if I were a Proper Parent I would willingly nag for as long as it took, caring only for their dental health, but sod that, they’re not my teeth are they? Both of my children are old enough now to understand why they need to clean their teeth, and what will happen if they don’t, so why should I waste the precious handfuls of sanity and patience I have on reminding them to do the same thing every single bloody day?

What I don’t understand either, is that the lengths she goes to to convince me she really has cleaned them – like switching the toothbrush on so I hear the buzz, running it under the water in case I check to see if it’s wet – are surely just as much effort as cleaning the damn things in the first place.

*takes long, soothing breath*

OK, I think I feel better now.

Is this just me being selfish and impatient? Should I be ashamed of myself for wishing that Belle would need a filling, just to prove my point, or is this just a natural symptom of 16 years of parenting?

Photo credit – Flag75*


There are plenty of things in life that I am good at. I can read and write, score the odd goal at netball, hold down a job and fold an excellent origami prawn.

There are other things that I’ve just had to accept that I can’t do. Roast beef is one of them. Style hair is another. When I was asked then to review a pair of the new limited edition peacock ghd hair straighteners, it was not without a sense of impending doom that I accepted.

This is my hair normally. You can see that I could use a little help in the volume department.

Peacock GHD review

Me before I look like Anne Hathaway

First things first, I got out my new peacock ghds, which come in a rather gorgeous box and satin bag, and are embellished with lovely peacock designs. I have a bit of a penchant for peacocks, which was what swung me to say yes to the review in the first place.

Twenty minutes later, feeling rather flushed from the close proximity to such efficient ceramic plates, I didn’t really feel I had quite captured the catwalk look.

“How’s the hair going?” asked Belle, bounding into my bedroom and stopping dead when she saw me. “Oh, I see, not so good is it?”

“No, not really,” I said.

“It does look better from the front than the back though,” she added trying to be comforting. “Would you like me to get a mirror so you can see?”

“No!” I shouted. “I mean no thank you,” I said more quietly. “I think just the front view is enough.”

The trouble was that the more I tried to fix it, the worse it got. I just can’t explain it. I’m not stupid, and the ghds are fine – they are beautiful, they heat up in seconds, they’re easy to use – hair just always goes wrong when I touch it.

Here is my finished style:

GHD review

Still not looking at all like Anne Hathaway

You see?

*sighs and resigns self to a lifetime of sloppy buns*

I was sent these to review by Regis Salons.


Today I accidentally created a science experiement. It cuaght me unawares, but I have recreated it for you here, so you can be impressed.

Sometimes when I make coffee I like to heat up an inch of milk first, and then add the coffee and hot water. Today I thought I’d go nuts* and make my own mocha, by heating up a bit of chocolate milk instead.

My ingredients were Kenco Millicano instant coffee sachets and Kara dairy free chocolate coconut milk:

coffee experiment

My lab kit

Here’s what happened next…

Once it (and I) had calmed down and I’d given the sides a bit of a wipe, I topped it up with boling water and it was very tasty.

*I’m mad I am! *jazz hands*