I visited Elements Boutique Spa free of charge for the purposes of this review. All opinions my own.

Do you ever have those fantasies where you’re so rich and your house is so massive that you have a private cinema in the basement, with a selection of velvet sofas, and a private gym with a lycra-clad personal trainer standing by for whenever you fancy doing a few guided squats?

God, it would be lush wouldn’t it? I’d probably have a chef too to cook me complicated, delicious vegan meals, and perhaps a fully equipped bar with a cocktail waiter. (You had better buy Playgroups & Prosecco so that I can become a millionaire.) In the meantime, I basically recreated the ‘private spa in the grounds of my mansion’ vibe last week by taking a mid-week trip to Elements Boutique Spa.

Now I have to confess that even though it’s only about half an hour away from me, in the middle of the Somerset Levels, I hadn’t heard of it before. Not surprising I guess as it only opened last year. Depsite being new, Elements Boutique Spa has managed to pull off looking like it has always been there, nestled in the countryside, a beacon of relaxation and tranquility with views over the levels to Burrow Mump.

Burrow Mump

Because it’s still relatively new, and because I was there by myself on a Wednesday morning, I managed to time it so that for over an hour I had the entire thermal spa area to myself, thus creating the illusion of being a hugely successful authoress, Barbara Cartland style. I steamed, I saunaed, I took experiential showers (ooer) and I floated about in the pool pretending to be a mermaid – it was blissful. I also discovered that by taking deep breaths in and out I could make myself float and sink on command. I’m not sure if this is normal or not, but it was quite fun. View Post

Can you even believe it?? Playgroups and Prosecco, my debut novel, is out on Kindle on Friday March 1st, which is this week. THIS WEEK!

Hooray!

It’s a bit weird really to think about people reading it. When I wrote it I just imagined it as a really LONG blog post, and once it was done, that was sort of IT. Doh! It’s not it at all is it? In a couple of weeks I’m going up to London to watch some of the audiobook being recorded, and then come May 2nd, when the paperback is released, I’ll be driving around the country visiting bookshops and rearranging displays to put Playgroups and Prosecco to the front.

(I’ve also heard that if you go into any Waterstones with a pen and say you’re an author they will let you just sign copies, so maybe I’ll do that too. Or maybe I’ll pretend to be someone else and sign THEIR books.)

To celebrate the publication of the ebook on Friday, I’m having a bit of a virtual blog tour. Every day for the next two weeks a different blogger is going to be posting their review of my book, and I’ll then be sharing these (if they’re good obviously), so that you can read what people think and decide whether or not it’s worth you investing the mighty sum of £7.03 in pre-ordering the paperback.

Playgroups and Prosecco Jo Middleton View Post

I was reading something in The Guardian this week about a new concept called ‘refridgerdating’. It’s basically a ridiculous gimmick being used by Samsung to flog their smart fridges, where you get paired with potential lovers based on a shared love of halloumi, a lactose intolerance, or an obsession with Chinese cabbage.

The fridge has a browse at your shelves, notices that both you AND Arthur from the next town seem to buy a particular brand of beer every single week, and sends you out for dinner together and to have babies and live happily ever after. Something like that.

Okay, so it’s stupid.

BUT.

I can actually see some sense in it. Not in a ‘your fridge makes a match for you’ way, but in the sense that perhaps a peek into someone’s fridge could actually tell you a lot more about them than a Tinder profile. If anyone read my ‘what weird crap is in your freezer?‘ post for example, and saw that I had three different kinds of chips, they may well make some judgements about me that would be more useful than reading that I ‘love sushi and French martinis.’

In case you’ve never used Tinder, or other, similar apps, it’s TOUGH, because essentially 95% of people’s profile pictures look the same. For men, they normally fall into one of the following categories:

  • Mid-air shot of a skydive (can’t see face because of goggles)
  • Gym selfie, top pulled up slightly (to tempt me???)
  • Selfie from below, enhancing chins. Face looks sad, as though questioning existence.
  • Holding large fish
  • Posing with one leg on the rock at the top of Pen Y Fan
  • Giving camera the finger (WHY???)

If you could cut through all this crap and get a look in someone’s fridge instead, now THAT would be revealing wouldn’t it?

To make the point, I’ve taken some pictures of my fridge, right now, me having resisted the urge to rearrange things to make them look neater/take out the mini-pasties.

First up, the door, which is home to some of my collection of ‘ugly fridge magnets from around the world’. I’m imagining several people have turned their lights off already. (‘She’s clearly a weirdo.’)

What your fridge says about you View Post

I had a round-up email this morning from The Pool. One of the headlines, from Viv Groskop, immediately caught my eye:

‘THROW AWAY YOUR PLAN B – AND GET WHAT YOU REALLY WANT’

I didn’t get as far as actually clicking and reading the article as I was very busy lying in bed and looking at the cats but I immediately got what it was talking about.

A few days ago I was in town with a list of jobs in my head. ‘I’m going here next,’ I said to the person with me, ‘to organise this.’ The ‘this’ was an event I wanted to put on at a particular venue.

‘What if they say no,’ said the other person, ‘what’s your Plan B?’

I stopped for a bit and looked confused.

‘Plan B?’ I said. ‘I didn’t think to make a Plan B?’

It literally had not occurred to me that the venue wouldn’t be falling over themselves to let me do what I wanted, when I wanted to do it, and I think that this is a GOOD THING.

Why you don't need a Plan B View Post

I never get woken up at 6am on a Sunday by someone shoving a Barbie into my face, I never have to wrestle a screaming toddler into a car seat and I haven’t done a school run in years. Not a proper one where I have to stand awkwardly on the playground pretending I don’t care that the other parents don’t talk to me.

I was about to say I don’t have to worry about whether I cut sandwiches into triangles or squares, but then I remembered that Belle doesn’t like it when I cut grilled wraps at odd angles to the grill lines, so perhaps that one is still a thing.

When I found out that I was a finalist again this year in the Vuelio Blog Awards, in the ‘Best Parent Blog’ category, I felt like a bit of a fraud. My ‘children’ are 23 and 16, I thought to myself, does that really count any more? I checked on what day the judging was going to be taking place and made sure I had a recent post with the word ‘parent’ in the title, as though that would be the thing that proved it.

On the night of the awards, I packed my sequinned jumpsuit and set off for the train station, but had to turn back because Belle needed me at home. There was some crying. We watched the awards unfold on Twitter instead and there it was:

It felt ironic really. All that worrying over whether I still really counted as a parent, and then I couldn’t collect the award because I was at home, parenting. View Post

There’s always so much to think about when it comes to giving gifts to small children at Christmas.

Will it make a mess?

Will it be noisy?

Will it be so horrendously annoying that next year the parents will give it back to me in the same wrapping paper so I can see how it feels to live with it?

‘But I wanted to introduce them to the joy of music…’

But what if some of the gifts we give without a second thought could actually be hurting our children if used incorrectly? What if a certain toy could in fact have the ability to permanently damage a child’s eyesight?

*scary music* View Post