I have a love hate relationship with Tinder.

A lot of the time I don’t use it at all, because of all the skydive pictures, and then other times I have vulnerable moments like this where I worry briefly that I might die alone, surrounded by cats, and Tinder is my only way out:

https://twitter.com/mummyblogger/status/1114436371454754816

While I’ve never had any truly horrible experiences on Tinder, I’ve also never had any amazing ones. I’ve had a LOT of perfectly pleasant first dates, but very rarely a second one. I was fiendishly seduced by one man who played a game where he pretended to interview me for Desert Island Discs, only to say ‘by the way I should probably tell you I’m not looking for a relationship’,* but most of the time it’s just me swiping left past endless pictures of men who look so sad that you wonder if they have set up a Tinder profile as an alternative to suicide.

I have been doing a bit of swiping lately, to pass the time, and have become increasingly aware of just how similar everyone is in terms of the frankly bizarre pictures they post and the tedious things they say in their profiles. It astounds me that a grown man can decide he wants to impress a woman, and think that a selfie in the mirror of a public toilet, complete with background urinal, is going to be the money shot.

‘When she’s sees this she’s going to be putty in my hands,’ he thinks to himself, content with the fact that you can’t really see his face but CAN see a large toilet cistern.

And the fish! So many fish!

To make the process of finding a match on Tinder slightly less hideous, I have made you a Tinder bingo. It should help to pass the time at least – a distraction from the thought the only men left in the world are permanently sat astride motorbikes, wearing helmets. Why not share it with your single friends, or invite people round for dinner and play competitively? Perhaps do shots every time you complete a row? The toilet selfies might seem more appealing by the time you’ve completed your card.

I would also be interested in particularly on brand screenshots.

Tinder bingo

And yes, I know this is cynical and bitchy and all these men are PEOPLE blah blah blah, but come on guys, make an effort.

Are you a Tinder user? What would you petition to have added to the bingo card? Perhaps you’re a man and are sick of women hiding behind Snapchat filters?

Leave a comment and let me know!

*I mention him because we are still friends and it might make him feel important.

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If you’ve ever been to a festival you might recognise this scenario:

It’s a month before the festival and you get an email. ‘We’ve announced the dressing up theme!’ the festival organisers tell you. ‘This year it’s post-apocalypse Alice in Wonderland/1970s disco mermaid/pansexual party pirates!’ (Delete as appropriate.)

Excellent.

You set to work on your costume – gluing scales to your sparkly tights, fashioning a hat made entirely from cucumbers, whatever. You’re proud of your look, you’ve nailed it, you’re ready to go and FESTIVALISE.

Nozstock festival

Image courtesy of Nozstock festival

Then you get there and it pisses down with rain and no one sees your hand-sequinned pirate blouse because you have to spend the whole time in a large waterproof mac.

Sad face. View Post

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I’ve been banging on about Playgroups and Prosecco, my debut novel, for ages now, so I thought it was only fair that I gave you something back – a thank you for putting up with all my ‘buy it on Kindle for only 99p!’ tweets.

In case you’re not up to speed, Playgroups and Prosecco is a ‘laugh out loud debut’ (my words) about the realities of single-parenting a toddler and a teen in a world of Instagram and Tinder. It’s a diary format, easy to read, but also GOOD, even if I do say so myself. If you want a taster, the first week is available to preview through the ‘look inside!’ feature on Amazon.

It looks like this, for when you want to find it in a bookshop from May 2nd, and take a picture to send me, saying ‘look I saw your book!’

(Please do that.)

Playgroups and Prosecco View Post

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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