This week we went down to Cornwall to stay with my Dad and Step-Mum for a bit of post-Christmas family time. On Wednesday evening we settled down to a game of Balderdash, my Dad’s favourite.

For those of you who don’t know, Balderdash is a game where you each make up an alternative definition of a word, a law, an acronym – things like that – with the aim of convincing the other players that yours is the correct one.

So, it was my turn to be the ‘dasher’, who’s the person that reads out the clue, and while everyone else was writing down their ideas I had a look at the other categories on the card. I looked at the acronym – B.H.G.A. I turned the card over the see what it was.

British Hang Gliding Association.

Cool.

EXCEPT WAIT, WHAT??

British HANG Gliding Association?? What on earth is HANG gliding? View Post

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I was checking my direct messages on Twitter yesterday. I have it set up so that anyone can message me, even if I don’t follow them, so that I can be contacted by potential clients, bloggers asking for advice, fans wanting signed photos, that sort of thing.

One message was a photo.

‘That’s weird,’ I thought to myself, ‘is that just a hand?’

I looked again. It was a cupped hand, palm up.

‘What’s he holding?’ I wondered, ‘is that Caesar salad dressing?’

Oh.

(Not salad dressing.)

So my question here is, what the actual hell?? In what world is this is a normal thing to send a woman you have never even spoken to before? What part of someone’s brain tells them that this is okay? View Post

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I had a boyfriend once who refused to kick piles of autumn leaves.

Every time I did it, he would do that thing where you draw your breath in sharply between your teeth.

‘What’s the matter?’ I would say, foot mid air, ready to send a heap of red and gold leaves flying across the path.

‘You shouldn’t kick the leaves like that,’ he would reply. ‘You never know what might be under them. You’ll probably end up kicking dog shit.’

It took the edge of my autumnal fun, that’s for sure.

It made me sad too, because as an attitude to life, what even is this??

why you should kick autumn leaves View Post

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This is a post about salted caramel.

I hadn’t given a lot of thought, past vague annoyance, to salted caramel as a concept until I did a poll on Twitter about scones. (It’s afternoon tea week.) Someone replied to my poll saying that they had actually just come onto Twitter to complain about the fact that they had seen a salted caramel scone which, we agreed, is all kinds of wrong.

Firstly, scones should be plain. The jam and the cream are the stars there. But that’s not the point. The point is that SALTED CARAMEL HAS TAKEN OVER THE WORLD.

too much salted caramel

(Not literally obviously, that would be impractical.)

Salted caramel needs to get back in its box.

Salted caramel was fun and exciting for a little while back in 20XX*, but JUST STOP NOW. Yes, yes, it was very clever, putting something so sweet with something so salty, (salt), but enough already. We’re over it.

I had a quick look at all of the different salted caramel things you can get now and it’s just stupid.

Salted caramel rice pudding, salted caramel coffee, salted caramel tequila, salted caramel lip balm, SALTED CARAMEL GREEN TEA?! Nope. If you’re looking to build a bit of muscle you can even get salted caramel flavour ‘impact whey protein’, whatever that is.

That’s enough salted caramel. We tasted your salty sweet goodness and we liked it, but hush now.

*I was going to do some research and pin it down but I didn’t want salted caramel to WIN.

Image – by MaraZe/shutterstock

 

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‘Are you busy?’

I swear I’ve been asked this at least half a dozen times this week by different people. And not in an ‘are you busy because I need a quick word’ sort of way, but in an ‘is work generally busy’ way.

‘No,’ I answer.

That throws people. They look confused, as though I’ve just admitted out loud to being a FAILURE AT LIFE.

I’ve had to start explaining to people that the reason I wanted to work for myself in the first place was for the flexibility to take time off whenever I liked, or to have quieter periods during the school holidays. For me, that’s the whole point of self-employment. Why on earth would you give up a stable, reliable income and then continue to work like someone was watching you all the time?

I’m not busy at the moment because I choose not to be. SHOCK HORROR.

It’s the middle of the summer holidays and next year Belle goes into year eleven, so I want to be at home while she’s still vaguely interested in hanging out with me. We also moved into a new house at the end of June, and it’s nice to be able to potter about arranging books into pretty colours and generally settling in.

Just because I’m not busy, does that mean I’m not successful or hard working? Does it mean I’m lazy, or that no one wants to work with me? View Post

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If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen that Belle and I have recently been in Greece, on the island of Leros. We were there as part of a trip organised by Blog Authentic, to find out more about the refugee situation and to help out in any way we could. It was a fantastic trip, and I’ll be writing more about it over the next few weeks, but I just wanted to share something that I’ve been thinking about a lot since we got back.

It’s essentially about luck.

Take a look at this picture:

Greece refugees

It was taken by Kirby from Blog Authentic one afternoon when we went with some of the refugee families on a trip to the local beach. It’s only a ten minute drive away from the dilapidated ex-mental hospital building they currently live in, but they can’t visit often because the centre doesn’t have any transport. It’s only a small thing, but we were pleased to be able to organise some cars for the afternoon.

The boy on the right is called Winston. He is five years old and he lives in Yorkshire with his mum and dad and his two brothers. He likes colouring and drawing and he has beautiful handwriting. His mum Esther writes the blog Inside Out and About and we absolutely loved sharing our experiences in Greece with them.

The teenage boy on the left is called Matez*. He likes swimming and he loved Winston. They posed for dozens of photos together. He is currently living in Leros in a refugee centre all alone, as an underage minor, without any of his family. His mum and dad and brother are still in Damascus in Syria. We asked Matez where he hoped to live eventually. He said he just wanted to go home.

So what has Winston done ‘right’ that means he gets to live with his family in a safe country? What has Matez done ‘wrong’ that means he is alone in a foreign country with no idea of what’s going to happen to him?

Nothing.

It’s just luck.

It was just luck that Winston was born in the UK. Just luck that Matez was born in Syria. It’s just luck that you’re reading this now, probably from a perfectly comfy sofa or office chair, knowing that your family are safe and that you live without fear for your life.

What feels doubly unfair to me though is that so many people feel like they are somehow ‘better’ than people like Matez, that they can sit on that comfy sofa and judge him – package him up in their mind into a group of people who are somehow less deserving of love and support and kindness.

Matez is a CHILD. An ordinary boy. He likes swimming in the sea and making new friends. He just happens to have been born in Syria and is now on his own, missing his family. It feels so sad and wrong to me that life deals out such different hands to people, purely at random, and yet we can’t open our hearts to everyone, regardless of where luck lands them.

Winston talked about his new friends all the way home and wants to go back and visit them, but how can you explain to a five year old that Matez doesn’t even know where chance will take him next?

We’ve set up a fund to raise money for the refugee families on Leros. Please donate here. Belle and I have seen for ourselves what a big difference a small gesture can make. Thank you.

*Some names have be changed.

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I had an email this morning from a PR I’ve person not worked with before with the offer of a review for my blog.

‘Hi Lovely!’ it began, which immediately made me want to punch the sender in the face.

‘Hope you’re well,’ she went on. ‘We are looking for a Mum who’s had several natural births, for a non-invasive £5K vaginal rejuvenation treatment on offer with top Harley Street Doctor.’

What the actual f***? My first thought was of the doctor adjusting his head torch, and going in with a feather duster and one of those Dulux tester posts of satin finish emulsion. And then I got pissed off.

I wrote back.

‘Thanks for your email but it’s not one for me thanks,’ I said. ‘I have had two natural births which were, as you say, NATURAL. I’m quite happy with my vagina and do not want or need it rejuvenated. I find it very sad that women are made to believe that they would ever need to spend £5,000 on something as ridiculous as this.’

I mean come on.

I hate this. I hate that women are conditioned to loathe their bodies to the point that they would consider spending actual money on having their VAGINAS REJUVENATED. What the hell is the matter with the world?? Can we not just content ourselves with the MIRACLE THAT IS BIRTH?!?!

vaginal rejuvenation

Image – Vasiuk Iryna/shutterstock

‘Oh yeah, I have grown and birthed two healthy human beings, but to be honest I think things are looking a bit shabby down there now, so I should probably have that tidied up.’

FOR WHO??

Who are we doing this for?

I’m pretty sure it’s not for ourselves. Do you crouch over a mirror every morning and dream of rejuvenation? After the treatment would you get dressed thinking ‘I’m so glad I had my vagina tidied up, I’m going to look so much better for it in my meeting this afternoon.’

It made me mad.

Is it just me?

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I bought a new camera this week.

It’s smaller, neater, smarter and generally better than my old camera, but it’s currently sat in its bag on the table because I am scared of it.

I can switch it on, and take pictures with it, but it has all of these buttons and functions that I just don’t understand. It troubles me.

I tried looking up the manual online, to help me out, but it had lines like this in it:

When using an interchangeable lens with O.I.S. switch (such as H-FS14140), stabilizer function is activated if the O.I.S. switch of the lens is set to [ON].

Nope.

I tried more slowly, thinking that if I took my time over it, it would make sense.

Still no.

Okay, you might think, maybe I don’t need to actually know about the interchangeable lens thingy, perhaps I’m overreacting, but the trouble is that this terror doesn’t just happen with complex things.

Let’s say we go away to stay somewhere for the weekend. We get there, and we’re settling in. I’ve put the kettle on, unpacked my suitcase, and perhaps I want to watch a bit of TV. I pick up the remote control and BAM!

I might as well be sat at one of those big air traffic control desks. I literally have no idea where to start. All the buttons look the same – they are all staring at me, laughing silently to themselves because I don’t know which one to press and it scares me. I feel like if I look away, they might all quickly change places, just for jokes.

remote controls View Post

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crying in public

Image – CREATISTA/shutterstock

 

Is it okay to cry in public? I say YES. This is why…

Bee phoned me this week. I answered the phone and there was a second or two of snuffling before I heard a little voice.

‘I cried at work!’ she said, snuffling a bit more. (She works at Starbucks, just to give you some context.) To be totally honest I was surprised that she hadn’t already cried at work, because she does cry a healthy amount, so I was quite impressed.

‘Oh no!’ I said. ‘It’s okay! Where are you now?’

‘I’m on the ground,’ she replied.

‘As in you’ve gone outside for some fresh air and are sat on the pavement or you’ve slid helplessly down a wall and are now lying on the floor?’ (It’s good to be clear.) View Post

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I had one of those moments this week where I had to check myself.

I found that I’d made a mistake and double booked myself for some work, because I hadn’t put the first thing in my diary. It was an easy mistake to make, because I AM A HUMAN BEING AND NOT A ROBOT.

I felt really bad about it though, and started thinking ‘what can I say? How can I get out of it??’ I felt like I needed an excuse for being so stupid. Maybe I could wait until nearer the time and then come up with some kind of mystery illness?

what to do if you make a mistake

Me.

And then I remembered that bit about BEING A HUMAN BEING.

Oh yeah. View Post

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I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time. Every time we drive past the £11 hairdresser I complain about it, and as it’s on the way to the station, I complain about it a lot. It has got to the point where I think my family are finding ME more annoying than I am finding the hairdresser.

(Note: it used to be the ‘everything’s £9.90’ hairdresser. That’s inflation for you.)

Hopefully after writing this, all of my frustration will dissipate, and I can drive to the station again without making anyone want to stab me.

I would start by telling you the name of the hairdresser, but it doesn’t obviously seem to have one. It might be called ‘no appointment needed’, as that is displayed in very large letters, but when you look closely at the sign, I think actually it’s called ‘Celly’s Everything’s Everything’s Everything’s £11’, which I think is a very catchy name.

£11 hairdresser View Post

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Over the last couple of weeks we have started looking at houses to buy.

*insert that emoji here that’s the purple face with its hands on its cheeks, like The Scream*

I’ve never owned a house before, and the terror that that’s inducing is a series of blog posts in itself, but rather than open that can of worms today, I wanted to focus on one particular thing that has already begun to annoy me about estate agents.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know that their job is to sell houses, and that sometimes means they’re going to be a little bit pushy in terms of showing you things a little outside your price range or area of interest. I get that. But then sometimes they take it too far.

We have been pretty specific about a couple of our requirements, namely our budget, and the area that we want to live in. It has to be within walking distance of Belle’s school, which is fairly central in Taunton. At least two bedrooms, room for a piano, a bit of a garden – all fairly straightforward.

I had an email from one estate agent this week.

‘We have attached details of properties matching your criteria,’ it said.

Excellent.  View Post

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