I’ve been having a bit of a general muse today about fear and the impact it has on our lives. I think it was brought on by going to London this week to go on a filmed date with a Spanish man I’d never met before called Marco, where I had to speak in Spanish after only learning it for three weeks.

(More on that another time.)

It occurred to me that it’s probably the sort of thing that a lot of people would be too afraid to do.

Would you go on a date with a stranger in another language in front of a film crew? Are there other things that you don’t do because you’re afraid to? And most importantly, what is it that you’re really afraid of?

About four years ago, when I went through that break up that made me really sad, I read a lot of books about fear. The sadness I felt at the time had this permanent edge of fear to it that I couldn’t seem to shift and the longer it went on the more scared I became because I didn’t know how to make it go away and couldn’t see how I was going to cope with it.

One of the books I read was Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway. A lot of it felt a little bit cheesy, but the essence of it is simple – we aren’t actually afraid of feeling or events, were afraid of our inability to cope with them.

The three levels of fear

Susan Jeffers writes about there being three levels of fear. The first level is the incident itself – the ‘surface story’ – and the second is how it makes us feel – the ‘generalised fear’. For instance, we might say that we’re afraid to go on a date in Spanish, which would be the top layer. Dig a bit deeper and we might say that what we are really afraid of is messing up, of people laughing or of feeling embarrassed about the fact that all we can say is ‘tengo tres gatos’. View Post

April 30th was a sad, sad day for Belle.

It was the day we had to give back the Hyundai Kona that we’d been test driving for two weeks, having covered around 800 miles in 14 days, three of which I was out of the country for. At a stage in her life, mid-GCSEs, aged 15, when not much in the world feels designed to bring joy, there is apparently one thing that does – driving around in a nice car, listening to Cardi B very loudly and switching on my seat heater every few minutes and seeing how long it takes me to notice.

As you can guess from my mileage, I made the most of it.

Hyundai Kona

Over the course of the fortnight I did test out all the important little things, like the size of the cup holders (key), and all of my finding are in this Twitter thread if you fancy looking back through.

There were loads of clever little features that I loved, like the fact that it turns the music down a bit when you’re reversing and the blind spot detector for motorway driving, and I really enjoyed the high seating position. It was very spacious and the back seats were SUPER easy to put up and down – fiddly seats are a pet hate of mine, but these worked in one movement and were easy to put down from the boot side too.

I feel at this point that I should say something authoritative about the ‘handling’ but to be honest I’ve never been entirely sure what that means. It went round corners, and no one threw up, so I consider that a win. Have a look at the website for all the techy stuff. View Post

As you may remember, I had grand plans for my garden when I bought my house last year. ‘A tropical paradise’ was how I described the picture of it I had in my head.

The reality looked like this:

garden makeover tips

Sexy garden times.

As you will have seen if you read my garden makeover post, I had the foundations put in place for the tropical garden of my dreams, and the last few months have been spent gradually adding in plants and pots and strings of solar powered vintage lights, so that now it looks more like this: View Post

Note to my Dad: this is one of those posts you’ll want to skip over.

I was out for dinner a little while ago with some friends. We’d had a small half glass of wine or so and we were talking about boys. We were discussing one boy in particular, who I had happened to say in passing that I thought was nice.

‘Ooohhh!’ said one of my so called friends, ‘I’ll message him and tell him you LOVE HIM!’

‘I don’t LOVE HIM,’ I pointed out, ‘I just said he was NICE.’

She messaged him to tell him I loved him.

God.

‘While you’re there though,’ I said, only slurring very slightly, ‘you could casually drop in my renovated vagina?’

Everyone looked at me.

‘Renovated? Like with scaffolding?’

‘Oh,’ I said, the half glass of wine clearly muddling me, (an allergic reaction maybe?), ‘not renovated. REJUVENATED. That’s it. My vaginal tissues have been rejuvenated.’

We got distracted then by talk of my vagina, and then the fried camembert arrived, so I don’t think the boy had the opportunity to be seduced by my vaginal tissues, rejuvenated or otherwise.

Probably for the best.

Geneveve treatment review

A pretty dinner and wine photo in lieu of a close up vaginal tissue shot View Post

Post in association with Vileda

Vileda EasyWring and clean turbo mop

When you manage to coordinate your mop head and slipper pom poms

At any one moment, how many thoughts about ‘stuff’ are going through your head? How often do you find yourself trying to remember to buy toothpaste and get the wine out of the garage for your mum at the same time as making a child’s packed lunch and putting on a pair of tights?

(Me this morning.)

The fact is that we have a lot of things to do, and sometimes it’s hard to actually do them all.

JK Rowling sums it up pretty well. ‘People very often say to me,’ she says’ ”How did you do it, how did you raise a baby and write a book?’ And the answer is – I didn’t do housework for four years. I am not Superwoman.’

She had the magical wizarding kingdom at her disposal, so what chance for us mere muggles to keep on top of cleaning?

To try to help me stay on top of my own housework juggling act, which mainly involves me balancing cleaning tasks with important things like making my own party rings, Vileda recently sent me an EasyWring & Clean Turbo – a mop and bucket set that is designed to make cleaning floors a veritable breeze. Vileda’s plan is that by equipping me with one of their labour saving devices that I will be more inclined to keep my house clean. View Post

In association with National Citizen Service

In just over two months Belle (my baby!) will have finished school.

This is a MASSIVE deal for us as she has basically hated school for 12 years. Every day has been a battle, every evening from Sunday to Thursday has had the shadow of school hanging over it. The last year in particular has been hard and I know it’s going to be a massive relief for us both when June 19th comes round and she has her last GCSE exam. (She says confidently, with an edge of desperation in her voice.)

But then what?

She has plans for college of course, but that’s not until September. That’s nearly three months of potentially blank space, space that Belle could well fill with a cycle of sleep, Netflix and Instagram. I want to make sure that alongside a bit of R & R* she makes time for things that are actually interesting or useful or worthwhile.

The flip side of course is that at the same time I have to run a business and make enough money on my own to pay the mortgage and support a family of five. (Sure, three of them are cats, but they expensive taste in biscuits.)

(Oh! How did that get there?)

So what to do?

Family will be a first port of call – a few days with my Dad in Cornwall here, a few in Ireland with my sister there – but the thing with family is that it’s EASY. I want her to do something that challenges her too, something that pushes her outside her comfort zone but gives her confidence a boost in the process. The trouble is that Belle quite likes her comfort zone and has been a little scarred over the years by me packing her off on various activities – activities that really are things I want to do, (like week long courses where you have to pretend to be a spy and crack codes), only I can’t because I’m a grown up.

Yesterday I mentioned the government backed National Citizen Service (NCS) to her and she DIDN’T STRAIGHTAWAY SAY NO. This was an amazing thing. I immediately sent her a link. View Post