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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As you know from my top notch recent review of the Primark 90p lipstick, which I think we can agree was a blessing for everyone, I don’t have anything against Primark make-up generally. The 90p lipstick was actually pretty decent for under a quid. Plus I know that it isn’t just Primark who are doing this – it’s make-up brands everywhere.

But then I walked past Primark on my way to work this week and saw this advert for the Primark Insta Girl make-up range, and my hackles were instantly raised:

Primark Insta Girl make-up

(Quick question – what exactly is a hackle? Please find out and let me know.)

I hate the idea that we are bringing up a generation of young women who feel they need to be selfie ready at all, or, more to the point, that their own faces, as they are, are not good enough to be photographed.

Am I selfie ready? Yes thank you. I have A FACE. Oh, that’s not enough?  View Post

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bicycles on the pavement

I was walking to work this morning and coming towards me was a woman pushing a pushchair. (With a baby in, not just for fun.)

Another woman came up behind pushchair lady on a bike, and there was an awkward moment where they jostled for position on the pavement. As she cycled past, the woman on the bike gave pushchair lady a look, as though somehow she had been the one getting in the way. As she walked past I gave pushchair lady a friendly smile, designed to show pedestrian solidarity, but my glasses were covered with rain and I think it came out wrong.

Anyway, that’s not okay is it? It’s a pavement! And it’s actually against the law. I just looked it up.

Cycling on footways (a pavement by side of a carriageway) is prohibited by Section 72 of the Highway Act 1835, amended by Section 85(1) of the Local Government Act 1888. 

(It works best if you say that in a geeky voice – I may learn it by heart so I can recite it at cyclists.)

It’s punishable by a £30 fine in fact.

Now I know that cycling on roads can be dangerous and scary. Personally I am way too much of a wimp to cycle on the road. Put me on a bike near traffic and I panic, make a funny squeaky noise, wobble and fall off. But that doesn’t mean I cycle on the pavement instead, it means I walk.

Am I being unreasonable here? Are cyclists so badly treated by drivers that they have to be on the pavement or am I right to be enraged?

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should you keep ketchup in the fridgeForget Brexit, forget Trump – the next big debate is apparently all about tomato ketchup. Specifically, whether or not you keep it in the fridge.

In a recent survey, the question of how to store tomato ketchup has proved to be a contentious one, with 53% of people opting for fridge storage and 47% of people just leaving their ketchup in the cupboard.

Let me just settle this debate once and for all – TOMATO KETCHUP SHOULD BE KEPT IN THE FRIDGE.

This may seem like an odd thing to get upset about, but I have very good reason.  View Post

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amazon packaging

First up, I know. I know I shouldn’t shop at Amazon and that if I have a problem with Amazon packaging then I should go to my local shop with a string bag and chat to the greengrocer and generally be a better person. But I’m not, so let’s get over that. Sometimes I just don’t have time.

Okay, so Amazon packaging.

I have two issues.

Firstly, what’s with the tape designed to slice off your fingers??

I’m picturing a big meeting room with one of those annoying glass tables where you’re afraid to put your mug down in case you smash it. This is how I imagine the conversation going:

‘So, packaging ideas – hit me with them.’

‘Guys! I know what we should do! We should add some hidden cheese wire to our tape, so that the next time someone innocently slides their finger underneath it to try and open their parcel, they’ll just be left in a bloody mess!’

‘Genius! Then they’ll have to order antiseptic wipes and plasters – the ultimate upsell!’

It doesn’t stop there though. If you can actually open your parcel without hospitalising yourself then you’re in for a second treat.

It looks something like this:

amazon packaging

What’s that you say? That looks just like a massive box full of scrunched up paper?

It does rather doesn’t it?

Pull out the entire tree’s worth of paper though and inside you’ll find… what? A single book? A pencil? A box of tic tacs?

Seriously Amazon – what the hell is the matter with you? Why do you feel the need to send everything in boxes as big as the world when you know then you just have to fill them all up with paper??

It drives me nuts.

*orders colouring book from Amazon to calm down*

Images – Hadrian and Jeramey Lende both from Shutterstock

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This week we had a visit from a plumber. It doesn’t happen often because I’m more of the ‘wrap something around it to absorb the leak’ school of thought, but the cupboard under our sink was a little past that. I share this story as a way to make you feel better about any awkward moments you may have had with tradespeople.

So, he arrived.

‘The sink is over here,’ I said, already feeling like a goon because he is a plumber and if he can’t recognise a sink then really, what’s the point?

‘Thanks,’ he said, ‘let’s take a look.’

Now this, I appreciate now, was the moment where I should have offered him a cup of tea. However, I knew it was going to be a quick job, and I was wary of that whole awkward ‘you’ve made me this tea so I’m going to have to drink it but it’s actually scalding my throat’ scenario.

So I hesitated.

When you hesitate in a situation like this then that’s it, you’re finished. You can’t offer a plumber a cup of tea when they’re nearly finished – that would be like me coming into the room in stockings, carrying a Cosmopolitan in a sexy way. (How do you actually do that? Cocktail glasses are very easy to spill.)

Okay, so he doesn’t get tea. I can style that out. 

He goes out to his van to get some tools. What do I do now? I don’t want to have left the room while he is gone, that feels weird, but I also don’t want to just be standing there in the middle of the kitchen, waiting, so I sit down on a dining chair and have a look at my phone.

He comes back in. I finish the email I’ve been writing.

NOW WHAT?!

He is under the sink and I am sat in silence on a dining chair.

It’s weird.

I hesitate again though, and there, I’m stuck in the chair. I can’t leave now can I? That would be odd. But I can’t really make small talk about the sink, especially as his head is underneath it. So I sit some more in silence, as though I’m an invigilator in an exam. I send a few more emails, mainly to avoid looking up and accidentally making eye contact. I feel like the whole thing has gone too far and speaking now would just draw attention to the preceding silence.

Eventually he finishes, and I look up and smile casually, as though I’d forgotten he was there and I always sit like that in the kitchen.

‘What is it you do then?’ he asks as he gets out his forms.

Oh God no. 

I hate this question, especially when it comes from sensible grown up people in their sixties who have real professions, like plumbing. I consider making something up, but I’m not a good liar.

‘I write a blog,’ I say.

He looks confused, but doesn’t say anything. I’m so exhausted by the stress of the whole ‘sitting in silence in the dining chair’ thing that I can’t even explain. I just leave it hanging silently while I sign the paperwork and show him out.

Next time I’m just going to wrap something around the leak.

awkward moment with a plumber

Image – Emanuele Ravecca/shutterstock.

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