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

In association with EDF Energy

Back in May, I tested out all kinds of cool gadgets as part of Smart Homes Week. One of my absolute favourites was the Philips Hue lighting system.

Ever since I was a teenager and was SUPER COOL, I’ve been a fan of coloured lightbulbs. Back then though, changing the colour in your bedroom meant a trip to B&Q to pick out a different coloured bulb, and then taking it home again to switch with your regular bulb. It wasn’t exactly a slick process. Then of course there was that incident in my early twenties, where I had someone knock on the door in the middle of the night thinking I was running a brothel, but we can skip over that.

Imagine if you could go back to the early 1990s and show teenage me the Philips Hue wireless lightbulbs. For a start I would have no idea how they could even work, because I wouldn’t know what the internet was, but if I could put that to one side and look at the colour changing bulbs in action, my mind would be BLOWN.

How is this possible? From a PHONE??

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In association with Coca-Cola Great Britain

Here’s a quick quiz for you – answer yes or no to the following questions and then check your score.

In the past month, have you:

  • Eaten a mince pie?
  • Had a glass of sherry?
  • Hummed a Christmas tune to yourself?
  • Pondered a Christmas wrapping scheme (everyone does this yes?)
  • Bought a Christmas-scented candle

If you answered YES to any of those questions then CONGRATULATIONS, you are ready to start the festive season! If you answered YES to all five then CONGRATULATIONS, you are me!

I absolutely love the run up to Christmas – the twinkly lights, shopping for presents, the smell of my winter-scented candles – I love it all. The trouble with Christmas though, and wanting to do all of the Christmas things, is that it can cost A LOT – both in financial terms and environmentally. The joy is sapped out of Christmas a little bit if afterwards all you have is a massive credit card bill and a mountain of plastic packaging.

As regular readers will know, I’ve been working with Coca-Cola GB over the last few months to help raise awareness of their sustainability initiatives. With Christmas fast approaching, they’ve challenged me to create a festive family-on-a-budget guide so that you can enjoy the Christmas season without it costing the earth. And, with Coca-Cola known for helping to bring the holidays to you, I’ve included a little suggestion from them at the end.

Visit a Christmas market

This is one of my favourite things to do to get myself feeling festive, and if you manage to resist the smell of mulling cider (good luck) then you don’t need to spend any money at all – just soak up the festive atmosphere. Town centre Christmas markets are normally outside, so you get to wrap up in hats and scarves and have a full-on winter experience, but if you’re less keen on the whole ‘cold cheeks for Christmas’ vibe then there are indoor options too.

You can find loads of round-ups of the best Christmas markets online to get you started – there are so many, you definitely won’t be short of options! Look out for local events in church or community halls, school Christmas fairs or events at things like National Trust properties and stately homes – there is so much going on, you’ll definitely find something nearby.

Bristol Christmas Market View Post

In association with AlchemLife

A very unusual thing happened to me recently.

It was a Wednesday during October, and we’d been up to Bristol to hang out with Bee for the afternoon. When we got home I started to feel IFFY. My sinuses were burning, my head hurt and my throat was scratchy.

‘Brilliant,’ I thought, ‘a cold.’ I looked in my diary to see what I had on for the next couple of weeks, knowing that whatever it was would have to be rescheduled when the inevitable hacking cough took root.

But here’s the unusual thing – it didn’t. No cough. My sinuses burnt for a good few days and I felt generally a bit rough, but still, no cough.

Anyone who knows me will know that this is a very strange occurrence indeed. For my whole life I’ve suffered with horrible coughs that last for weeks and push everyone around me to the point where they want to smother me with a pillow just to stop the coughing. Normally any kind of small cold will immediately burrow down into my chest, but not this time.

It might have something to do with the fact that the day after my sinus cold thing appeared, I had a parcel in the post from AlchemLife. Inside the parcel was a natural food supplement called PhytoRelief-CC.

how to prevent a cold PhytoRelief

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