A couple of years ago Belle and I told my mum that Bee’s favourite thing was flamingos. My mum loves to jump on a theme for birthdays and Christmas and we thought it would be funny if Bee ended up with a succession of flamingo themed gifts.

And we were right. It WAS funny.

Do you know what though flamingos? We’re done now. You’ve had your moment, we’ve had enough. It’s time for flamingos to get in the bin.

I’m sick of going into EVERY SHOP IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD and finding some kind of novelty flamingo merchandise. It seems that flamingos have become the new salted caramel and you know how I feel about that.

Yes you’re cool with you’re crazy pink feathers and your bendy backwards legs, but you’ve made your point. We get it. We don’t need all of our umbrellas from now on the have a flamingo head as a handle.

Yes you, you heard me.

flamingo gift ideas

Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

We definitely do not need: View Post

Follow:

I went to Iceland for a few days with my sister recently. We had a really lovely time, made even lovelier by the fact that my sister is one of very few people apart from my children with whom I can watch TV.

What is it with people pretending they don’t like watching TV?

Is it just not FANCY enough? Do we want people to imagine we spend our evenings reading wholesome books or going for walks or learning to crochet or something? Because sure, I do do those things from time to time, (not the crochet), but mainly by the time it gets to the evening I just want to mix up a cheeky pina colada, sit on the sofa, and watch some TV.

(The pina colada bit is mainly just in this hot weather.)

how much TV do people watch

My living room. (Not really.)

View Post

Follow:

I’ve seen a few people mention on Twitter recently this idea that we only have 18 precious summers with our children, and how important it is to treasure them.

I have two issues with this.

Firstly, what the bejesus?? Everyone knows that the summer holidays are the WORST thing about being a parent, especially a single parent of primary school aged children.

Let’s do some maths shall we? There are THIRTEEN weeks of school holidays over the course of a year, not including INSET days. In a standard job you normally have around six weeks of paid holiday.

13 – 6 = 7.

SEVEN weeks where you have to come up with some kind of interesting, affordable childcare solution. Seven weeks where you have to try to convince your nervous nine year old that their very favourite thing to do is to spend a week with strangers in an unfamiliar location, putting on a short play or learning basic tennis skills.

Take it from me, that is NOT easy.

If you don’t work, or during the time that you do have off, you’re not let off the hook. Apparently it’s not enough any more just to tell children that ‘only boring people get bored’ and shoo them into the garden to makes dens. You’re meant to provide structured, wholesome activities or collaborate on Pinterest worthy crafts, because without supervision they become screen bandits, unable to entertain themselves for more than five minutes.

18 precious summers

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

View Post

Follow:

I was on Twitter this morning (for a change) and I saw a tweet from Women’s Hour advertising one of their shows:

‘New Late Night Woman’s Hour pod out now! We’re talking Upskirting, Abortion, whether it’s OK to call a woman Feisty (clue: no) and self-care…’

Now first of all obviously my senses were assaulted by all of the capital letters, because you know how I feel about those. BBC, what is the matter with you??

But then I read it again because since when are we not allowed to call a woman feisty? To me it feels like a positive word. It reminds me of the Shakespeare quote – ‘though she be but little she is fierce.’

I looked up the definition to check I wasn’t missing something:

can I call a woman fesity

View Post

Follow:

Today I had an intriguing email. It was titled ‘looking for a single mummy.’ It was from a man, I can only presume, who introduced himself as Henry.

Hey, am Henry from Africa, Nigeria to be presided. Am 25 of age and am really looking for care and support from any single mummy around for a son to take care of. I saw your email online so I decided that I let you know that someone is interested in your caring. Thank you for audience, I hope for a positive reply. Thank You.

Well. I had only been thinking to myself just this morning how I didn’t feel like I quite had enough to think about, so this seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.

Hi Henry,

Thanks so much for thinking of me for this role! Just to clarify – exactly what tasks would I be expected to perform? I’m assuming cooking and washing up as a given, but I should warn you that I’m not very good at ironing. Should I start practising or could you do without that?

Would I need to move to Nigeria or would you live here?

I eagerly await your reply.

Jo

P.S. When you say you preside in Nigeria, does that mean you are president?

I didn’t need to be eager for long, Henry was quick to respond. View Post

Follow:

This week I got a cold sore.

SUCH FUN!

I made a special trip to Wilko for cold sore cream because of this:

overpriced branded medication

Yep, that’s two IDENTICAL cold sore creams as far as I can see. The Wilko own brand is £1. The branded version is £5. That’s FIVE TIMES the price. (Note that the Zovirax version doesn’t have a price per 1kg – perhaps it wouldn’t fit on the tag?)

There is no obvious difference between them, they both contain the same amount of the same active ingredient and they both do the same job.

So WHY??

Overpriced branded medication is something that has always wound me up. It just feels wrong on so many levels. Not only is it a total rip off generally, but it feels like you’re being ripped off when you feel at your most vulnerable. (Me going shopping with Belle when she is sad.)

Looking at the myriad different examples on the shelf it’s hard to believe that it even EXISTS as an industry. It’s so obviously just the same product sold in ridiculously over the top packaging, and yet people MUST be falling for it, or there wouldn’t be a market. It makes me cross to think of all of these big brands chuckling to themselves while innocent people are coughing and spluttering over their remedies.

Picture yourself with a bad cold. You’re trying to get through the day, you’re not thinking straight, you just want anything that might make you feel better, so when you see words like MAX STRENGTH you’re in. View Post

Follow:

This morning I went on the radio to talk about sex robots.

Okay, so I didn’t go on deliberately to talk about that – it was one of those weekend ‘talk about fun things in the news’ shows, but I always like to see what I can get away with on live radio, especially first thing in the morning.

In case you’re interested, sex robots are going to be a new ‘thing’. Everyone is going to have one. You heard it here first.

Anyway, one of the things I DIDN’T get time to talk about was a feature in one of the weekend supplements about parenting mistakes. It was a whole long list of things that most of us probably do at some point or another, thinking we are doing the right thing, but which apparently aren’t doing anybody any favours. Stuff like following older teens on social media, making ‘quality time’ for our kids, and worrying about exam results.

(I don’t do any of these, mainly out of sheer laziness, so I felt pretty good about myself.)

One of the things the article talked about was bedrooms, and I know this is an issue that splits a lot of parents of teenagers. Should you make your teenager keep their bedroom tidy or should it be their own space where they can do as they please?

should you make teenagers tidy their bedrooms

NB: unrealistic

View Post

Follow:

A couple of weeks ago this picture popped up on my Instagram feed:

A post shared by Madelaine (@fromxthextower) on

I looked at it, scrolled on a bit, and then went back and looked at it some more. (It’s from a woman called Maddie by the way, who writes a really thought provoking blog here.)

I thought about it for a little while and started to feel a bit sad and cross all at once. Why it is that we have come to equate love with pain? Why do so many people feel that love without turbulence is somehow less worthy, less REAL? View Post

Follow:

I had a day last week where I looked at the step counter on my phone and it said ‘789’.

For an ENTIRE DAY.

Gawd.

789 steps. What’s the matter with me??

(Can I just say, in my defence, that I don’t have anything on my wrist, so it does only count steps I do whilst I have my phone on me and not things like walking into the kitchen to make a cup of tea, but still.)

NOT GOOD.

I was about to say it because it’s winter – the cold etc – but then I checked myself, because it’s not really that at all, I’m just a lazy bones. I don’t play any sports, I do not RUN, (*shudders*), and unless it’s towards the packet of rich tea fingers on the floor by my chair then stretching doesn’t feature high on my list of activities either.

In fact, my own laziness was a big part of the motivation behind me getting an office a couple of years ago. When you work at home those 789 step days can become a common occurrence. At least now, (most days), I walk to my office and back. Unless it’s pouring with rain. Or I can think of another legitimate excuse.

But still. It’s a bit lame.

What’s especially lame is that once I’m actually out and walking, I really quite enjoy it. It’s a bit like the washing up – it STARES at you, taunting you, making you imagine how AWFUL it’s going to be, but it’s never as bad once you start.

I’m going to hit 40 in a few months though, and I really don’t want to become one of those middle aged ladies who groans getting in and out of chairs.

(‘Become’ – ha!)

So I have decided to take action.

It’s clearly not enough for me to HAVE a step counter, I need other people to SEE my step counter. I need to be shamed into taking action. I need to feel that competitive instinct – the one that doesn’t let small children beat me at SNAP.

(They don’t learn if you let them win.)

So I’ve downloaded the Sport Relief app.

Sport relief app View Post

Follow:

You know when something happens that just makes you despair of humanity? Well that.

Here’s what happened. (I deleted the actual messages as I was so cross, so this is roughly what went down.)

I had arranged a brunch date with a guy I met online. We’d exchanged a few messages, but he seemed keen to meet. Fine. All good. And then I got a cold, which turned into a horrible cough. Anyone who knows me knows I get horrible coughs. I had visions of coughing and spluttering eggs benedict in his face.

It was not sexy.

So a few days before we were due to meet I let him know that I wasn’t feeling well.

‘Are you trying to tell me something?’ he said.

‘Well yes,’ I replied, ‘I’m trying to tell you I’m not well. I wanted to warn you, in case I didn’t get better.’

‘Right,’ he said, ‘only if you’re fobbing me off then I’d rather you were just up front about it.’

‘I’m not fobbing you off,’ I said, bristling. ‘I have a cough. I’m telling you, that’s all. Would you like an audio file?’

‘It’s just that six ladies since November have suddenly developed coughs a couple of days before we’re meant to go out, so I’d rather you were just honest with me if you’re going to cancel and then I’m never going to hear from you again.’

I was annoyed. I don’t care how many people have said what to him. That’s not me is it?

online dating View Post

Follow:

I was doing a bit of research this week for a new list.

As you may know, back in 2013 (GAH!) I made a list of 40 things I wanted to do before I turned 40, an event which has rather crept up on me and appears to be happening THIS APRIL.

I’ll be writing more about that at some point, but in the meantime I have started thinking about my next list – 50 things to do before 50. Obviously it will include things like ‘stagger about a bit at the fact that I am in my 40s’, but I also want it to have some fun and unusual things on it, so I was doing some Googling.

I happened upon this list from American Cosmopolitan, (which I should have realised was a bad sign), of ‘50 things every woman should do before she dies.’

Given the publication, I guess I should have expected things like ‘learn to give the perfect blow job at the same time as achieving the dream thigh gap with this one miracle exercise’, but it still made me cross.

Here are some of the things that American Cosmopolitan thinks we should aspire to, some KEY LIFE GOALS for women:

  • Put a streak in your hair, or dye all of it
  • Learn to make one full meal
  • Eat dessert for breakfast
  • Eat a huge piece of cake (or candy bar or ice cream cone or whatever your favourite dessert is) and feel wonderful about it
  • Make a whole cake for no reason other than to sit there and attack it with forks alone/with your roommate/boyfriend
  • Just completely lose it at customer service when they’re being dicks  
  • Spend an entire day eating nothing but crap
  • Speak in public

krispy kreme

Well, I think already we are feeling EMPOWERED aren’t we ladies?? View Post

Follow:

I’ve been single now for coming up five months.

On the one hand I am perfectly happy – work is good, I’m settling into my house, and have the kitties obviously. Who could fail to be happy with three cats of their very own to stroke every single day? I love being able to do everything on my own terms, have all the kittens on the bed without anyone raising their eyebrows at me, spend all my spare money on yellow velvet armchairs from eBay, all that jazz.

But also sometimes I feel lonely.

When I say this to people, or words to this effect, there isn’t a huge amount of sympathy.

‘You don’t need a man!’ people say. (Normally married people. Cheers guys.)

‘Embrace being single!’ (Okay…)

‘You’re perfectly fine just you!’ (Obviously.)

I do know all those things. I don’t NEED a man. I am perfectly capable of doing all the things that need to be done, I have loving friends and family, I can work a drill and I can kick back with a puzzle as well as the next person. I GET IT.

But still, sometimes I feel lonely.

Not in a way where I feel physically alone, but a little bit like something is missing. Just sometimes. Not like I’m sobbing into a tub of Ben & Jerry’s every night or anything, but from time to time it would be nice to have someone squeeze my hand and exchange a glance that’s just for me.

And this is OKAY. View Post

Follow: