When I was 35 I made a list of 40 things I wanted to do before I was 40. It was quite a mixed list – everything from riding the wooden escalators in Macy’s in New York to making my own lemon curd. I wasn’t sure how I’d get on with it to be honest. I did wonder if once I’d bought the notebook I might let it fall by the wayside, but actually I really got into it. Having a list gave me a sense of purpose – something to focus on when I was feeling a bit lost or bored or not sure what to do on a Sunday afternoon.

I turned 40 in April and although I didn’t manage everything on the list I came pretty close. (You’ll have to go and read it to see which I missed.) In fact I enjoyed it so much that I decided to make another one.

50 things to do before I’m 50.

It’s kind of scary to think about. 40 feels like a pretty cool age, prime of lime and all that, but 50? I don’t know. 50 feels different. 50 feels OLD. Like a proper grown-up. Am I still going to be able to wear t-shirts with cats on when I’m 50? Can I still eat party rings and read Nancy Drew books? It feels like uncharted territory.

When I first wrote the 40 things before 40 post I didn’t have 40 things on the list. I wanted to get it started though, to get the ball rolling, and then I added more things to it as I thought of them. I wanted to do the same with my 50 things before 50 list. Ten years is a long time so I have plenty of time to add things as I go along. Who knows what opportunities might present themselves or what new interests I might stumble across?

This is just a starting point then, so if you have any suggestions please do let me know, the more specific the better. I find that having really specific goals gives me a much better focus and is far more satisfying to tick off.

Here’s my list of 50 things to do before I’m 50:

  • Stay at Gladstone’s library
  • Take a road trip in a convertible (ideally a blue roadster so I can pretend to be Nancy Drew.)
  • Go to the airport and take a random flight
  • Make a Baked Alaska
  • Become a Granny (bit out of my control but I’m adding it anyway)
  • Stay in an old school VW camper van
vintage vw camper

Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash

View Post

GAWD 23 years is a LONG TIME isn’t it?? More than half my life in fact. Over 8000 days.

Oh hang on, 8000 days somehow doesn’t sound as much does it? Let’s stick with 23 years.

Donkey Sanctuary

Any excuse to use the ‘Belle looking like the very small host of a donkey documentary’ photo.

Anyway, you’d hope that over that time I would have learnt a few things – you know, picked up some tips and tricks, stuff not to do. So here’s a list I came up with of some of the things I’ve learnt as a parent.

1.  You will always be a parent. Even when they grow up and leave home they still need you, just in different ways. (Mainly cash based.)

2.  Don’t take a toddler into a big Asda when they are tired or hungry. It WILL end in tears, probably yours in the car park.

3.  There is never a ‘right’ way to cut sandwiches – what was right yesterday will be wrong today so always check.

4.  Even when they get older and should have realised by now, your children will still think you know the ‘answers’. Belle asked me yesterday when the right amount of time is to tell someone you love them.

5.  Every school concert you ever go to will make you want to poke forks into yourself and then your youngest will leave school and you will cry quietly to yourself at the thought of never going to another badly performed nativity.

6.  Having pizza for two meals in one day is totally legitimate. View Post

Laura Dockrill has been a crush of mine for quite a few years now. She writes and performs with such an honest, imaginative voice – she’s just a joy. When I was asked if I fancied interviewing her ahead of her appearance this month at the Cheltenham Literature Festival I had a quick chat with the cats about it and they agreed that we definitely should. (I *may* have been spending too much time at home on my own lately.)

Laura Dockrill Cheltenham festival

Hi Laura, thanks so much for taking the time to answer some of my questions! I’ve followed (stalked) you on Twitter for ages, and so I’m thrilled to get to ask you some questions. [Me playing it cool.] Let’s start with Angry Cookie. This book is something slightly different for you in that it’s a picture book aimed at younger children – where did the inspiration come from and how was it different from writing for older readers?

I wanted to show anger in a different light and portray it as friendship, the importance of asking our friends if they are ok even if they push us away, even if it means we keep coming back. That is the importance of the reader, to keep coming back, to not give up on the cookie. And the cookie- I wanted to choose a traditionally stereotypically ridiculously sweet treat that could have all these anger issues to demonstrate that it can happen to absolutely everybody. I wanted to write something for little ones as I always visit them at school and never ever have anything for them to read so it was about time. And I’ve always wanted to work with Walker so it was a dream come true! View Post

I had a bit of a moment on Twitter last week.

On reflection, I think I was a bit pre-menstrual, which is where the ‘need a boyfriend’ bit came in, plus it was bin day, and bin day always makes me feel slightly less keen on being single. The dice thing, just so you don’t think I’m a bit slow with maths, was something I did know, but I was writing the post about the 648 different ways with yogurt and so I wanted to double check just in case.

‘Stylish recycling bins’ though, now that is a real dilemma.

Bins full stop in fact. It baffles me, because a bin is something that everyone has, and yet 99% of them are HELLA GRIM. I just don’t get it. We spend so much time and money on making our homes look lovely, and then you have to ruin it by sticking a stack of ugly white plastic boxes in the corner of your kitchen, next to a hideous metal and black plastic monstrosity that is YOUR BIN. View Post

‘Domestic violence is the abuse of one partner within an intimate or family relationship. It is the repeated, random and habitual use of intimidation to control a partner. The abuse can be physical, emotional, psychological, financial or sexual. Anyone forced to alter their behaviour because they are frightened of their partner’s reaction is being abused.’  

Credit – Refuge

Think about that for a bit.

‘Anyone forced to alter their behaviour because they are frightened of their partner’s reaction is being abused.’

According to the Office for National Statistics, one woman in four experiences domestic violence in her lifetime, so the chances are that if you don’t recognise that statement in yourself, it may well be happening to someone you know. Perhaps they’re hiding it, perhaps you have your suspicions, maybe it’s obvious but you don’t know what to do to help.

One option is to get in touch with Refuge. Refuge supports anyone who has experienced domestic abuse in any of its forms, through a range of services including, but not limited to, refuges, advocacy and a telephone helpline, run in partnership with Women’s Aid. (Open 24 hours a day – 0808 2000 247).

(If you’re nervous about visiting the Refuge website it might be useful to know that it has an escape bar across the top of the page – click on it anytime and it will immediately change the screen to show the Google homepage.)

Today, September 5th, is International Day of Charity and I wanted to use it to make sure that as many people as possible know about Refuge and that anyone looking for support, either for themselves or someone else, can access it as quickly as possible.

What is domestic abuse?

Because domestic abuse encompasses so much more than just physical violence, it can be hard to be sure whether or not you are experiencing it.

That might sound like a strange thing to say, but when you’re in a relationship it can be hard to get perspective on a situation. You make excuses for people you love, you blame a difficult background or problems at work perhaps, because you don’t want to believe that they would hurt you. You are probably scared – scared to admit the abuse to yourself or other people or scared of the consequences of taking action to get away.

If you suspect that you might be experiencing domestic abuse, take a look at the following questions from the Refuge website: View Post

Belle was having a bit of a freak out last night about starting college today.

She was doing her summer holiday homework, (clearly VERY prepared), which involved creating a Pinterest board about herself. I was throwing ideas at her, she was dismissing them. (Genuinely her homework was to create a selection of Pinterest boards. How is that homework?)

At the same time she was having a bit of a generalised meltdown. She’s doing a music based A-level and she’s worried that she can ‘only’ sing.

‘You have beautiful voice though,’ I said, ‘and grade seven singing.’

‘But that’s just a VOICE,’ she said, ‘I’ve not had to LEARN something have I?’

‘Just because it feels easy to you,’ I said, ‘doesn’t mean you aren’t good.’

She raised her eyebrows.

‘Take the Beatles,’ she said, ‘John Lennon could play the guitar, piano, keyboards, saxophone, harmonica, six-string bass guitar and some percussion. And then you have Ringo Starr playing the drums. I’M RINGO STARR. No one wants to be Ringo Starr.’

I thought that actually a lot of people probably really wouldn’t mind being Ringo Starr. I told her she needed to find some things to add to her Pinterest boards about comparison being the thief of joy.

‘The thing is,’ I said, ‘you’re never going to be the absolute best at anything – it takes a certain type of weirdo to be the best in the world at any one thing. We’re never going to be that person because we have friends and family and other interests.’

I wasn’t sure her I was winning her over.

‘You can’t beat yourself up for not being THE best,’ I went on, ‘you just have to be your OWN best.’ View Post