I’ve been on quite a few first dates over the last few months. I’m not desperate for a relationship or anything, (although I’d happily have one), but I like meeting new people and I love an outing, so a first date is just a fun excuse for cocktails really.

I find first dates a rather strange thing generally though.

It’s because of THE SPARK.

Ah yes, THE SPARK. That elusive something that is apparently meant to reveal clearly within minutes of meeting a total stranger whether or not they have the potential to be the love of your life. When you put it like that it seems a bit ridiculous doesn’t it?

That’s because it IS a bit ridiculous.

I mean sure, you might go for lunch with someone and be pretty sure at the end that you DON’T want to see them again, but unless they really are so tedious or insensitive or gruesome like this one I went on, that you can say NO with 100% certainty, then how exactly are you meant to know? How many couples have you heard joking about how they met – ‘Oh yeah, I couldn’t stand him when I first met him! I thought he was awful!’ – and then there they are, ten years later, happily married.

I love watching First Dates, and yet sometimes I can’t help but feel frustrated.

‘She was a really lovely woman’, a guy might say at the end. ‘She’s gorgeous, and we got on really well and shared a sense of humour, but I just wasn’t sure I felt THAT SPARK.’

God.

THE SPARK.

When should you feel the spark on a first date? View Post

A couple of weeks ago this picture popped up on my Instagram feed:

A post shared by Madelaine (@fromxthextower) on

I looked at it, scrolled on a bit, and then went back and looked at it some more. (It’s from a woman called Maddie by the way, who writes a really thought provoking blog here.)

I thought about it for a little while and started to feel a bit sad and cross all at once. Why it is that we have come to equate love with pain? Why do so many people feel that love without turbulence is somehow less worthy, less REAL? View Post

Post in association with NatWest

A couple of weeks ago I found myself sat alone at the bar of a members’ only club in London, sipping prosecco and feeling that heady mix of nervous and excited as I messaged my family WhatsApp group.

‘What are you doing in London?’ asked my sister Annabel.

‘I’m going to a speed dating session being run by NatWest to show how easily you can be emotionally vulnerable to online scams,’ I told her. ‘I was MADE for this.’

‘Do the other daters know,’ asked Annabel, ‘or is the assignment to go in and try and scam them?’

‘I think they have to scam ME,’ I said, ‘but I know there’s going to be ‘a twist’. A behavioural psychologist is going to be there. Maybe they just watch and laugh at how gullible I am??’

‘You’re going to get so scammed,’ she said.

‘I’m going to get scammed RIGHT UP,’ I agreed. ‘Hopefully someone will step in before I hand over any cash.’

tips to avoid being scammed

Because I wasn’t joking when I said I was made for this experiment. View Post

You know when something happens that just makes you despair of humanity? Well that.

Here’s what happened. (I deleted the actual messages as I was so cross, so this is roughly what went down.)

I had arranged a brunch date with a guy I met online. We’d exchanged a few messages, but he seemed keen to meet. Fine. All good. And then I got a cold, which turned into a horrible cough. Anyone who knows me knows I get horrible coughs. I had visions of coughing and spluttering eggs benedict in his face.

It was not sexy.

So a few days before we were due to meet I let him know that I wasn’t feeling well.

‘Are you trying to tell me something?’ he said.

‘Well yes,’ I replied, ‘I’m trying to tell you I’m not well. I wanted to warn you, in case I didn’t get better.’

‘Right,’ he said, ‘only if you’re fobbing me off then I’d rather you were just up front about it.’

‘I’m not fobbing you off,’ I said, bristling. ‘I have a cough. I’m telling you, that’s all. Would you like an audio file?’

‘It’s just that six ladies since November have suddenly developed coughs a couple of days before we’re meant to go out, so I’d rather you were just honest with me if you’re going to cancel and then I’m never going to hear from you again.’

I was annoyed. I don’t care how many people have said what to him. That’s not me is it?

online dating View Post

‘Is the heating going to be on?’ Belle asked me as we were on our way home yesterday evening.

‘Yes,’ I said, ‘I put it on earlier for the cats. In case they got cold.’

She looked at me.

‘The cats who spend the whole night outside and are covered in fur?’ she asked, eyebrows raised.

‘Yes,’ I said, feeling a bit silly, ‘I didn’t want them to be sad.’

AND THERE WE ARE.

Welcome to my new life, in which I spend an unreasonable amount of time every day worrying about whether or not my cats are happy. Because how exactly do you know if a cat is happy? What if they are bored? What if they get lonely and miss me but don’t know how to tell me? What if they wish I’d leave the radio on, or would like a different blanket?

Every time I leave the house I wonder if they’ll be sad, not knowing when I’m coming back, (I do tell them but I never see them write it down), or if when I DO come back they will have forgotten me. It can be hard with cats because they often don’t give a lot away. A dog will make it very clear how happy he is, but cats play it much cooler. Someone on Twitter said to me recently that cats can actually understand and speak English, they just CHOOSE not to. I feel like this could be true.

I know I’m doing all the basics – they’re microchipped, vaccinated, treated for fleas and worms regularly and have a balanced diet, (WHISKAS® ‘creamy soups’ are their favourites, and I find it adorable that they are called ‘creamy soups’), but how about their emotional wellbeing? Are my cats happy?

When you look at it rationally, they do seem pretty content.

They mainly lie around on top of me on the bed like this:

How do I know if my cats are happy?

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