A little while ago I posted this picture on Instagram.

It was a bit of a spur of the moment picture – I was lighting a candle and realised that I put dead matches back into the box specifically because I once had a boyfriend who used to hate it. Every time he opened a box of matches and found a dead one that I’d put back in, unthinking, he’d get cross. Not cross like he’d pick up the candle and throw it through a window or anything, but genuinely annoyed enough to make me feel like I’d done something wrong.

good things about being single

I’ve had a lot of boyfriends who have got that level of cross about stupid things like dead matches. It’s exhausting. It leaves you with that walking on eggshells feeling, never sure what small thing might actually be super irritating or send someone into a sulk. It wears you down, makes you question yourself and can leave you feeling like you’re not really good enough, like those ‘flaws’ somehow make you a less than desirable partner. View Post


Yesterday at approximately 7.43am I picked a fight* with a terrifying man on a bicycle. He was one of those stocky types, stubbly, about my age, who looks like they spend their Friday nights in Wetherspoons with a copy of the Daily Mail under one arm, ranting to anyone who will listen about YOUTHS.

I was innocently walking the dog along the pavement next to a busy main road. It was a normal sort of pavement i.e. just the right size for a woman and her golden retriever, and we were doing very nicely thank you very much. About 100 metres away I saw the man, cycling towards me, on the pavement.

I saw him see me, he saw me see him see me. He did not slow down.

There was not going to be room for us to pass without one of use making a move to accommodate the other and I was FUCKED if that someone was going to be me.

(For context, I had had a difficult night sleeping on the sofa whilst holding hands with the dog, who was asleep on the floor, too sad to be alone because she’d been to the vets to have her toenails trimmed. Also I am a 44 year old woman and I am easily fucked off.)

The man on the bike kept coming. I stopped and stood still, staring him down.

At this point he looked frankly surprised, like he had imagined that as soon as I saw he was a MAN, I would understand that meant he had right of way and would immediately throw myself and the dog over the wall and into a bush in deference to his clear superiority. He was even more surprised when, as he drew close to me, I threw up one arm, (I have a frozen shoulder), and shouted, in despair, as though he was the 79th pavement cycler I had met that morning, ‘THIS IS A PAVEMENT!’

He stopped, leaning to put a foot on the ground, ready to launch his defence.

Had I ever tried cycling on this road, he asked me, going on to detail the numerous pot holes, blind corners and the sheer volume of traffic that meant it was impossible for him to do so. ‘You’re allowed to cycle on the pavement if you don’t feel save,’ he said aggressively, waggling a finger.

(I wondered if I was allowed to kick a bike out from underneath someone if *I* didn’t feel safe. I suspect not.)

I was taken aback. I was fairly sure this was a bullshit rule he had just made up, but he said it so confidently that I hesitated for a split second to get my bearings and he took the opportunity to cycle off, along the pavement naturally, tutting and shaking his head.

I thought of many clever and amusing things I wanted to say back to him as soon as he’d left, such as ‘perhaps you’d feel safer if you wore a HELMET’ and ‘get in the fucking bin you absolute dickweed’, but it was too late. My only consolation was that the man in his early twenties, who had been cycling on the pavement behind him, had at least had the decency to dismount and push his bike past me, head hung low in terror and shame. (I imagine.)

‘Thank you,’ I said to him with as much authority as I could muster. He scurried past in silence.

I Googled the legalities when I got home and of course it is ALWAYS ILLEGAL to cycle on the pavement unless it’s a bike lane. Ha!

I’m not saying I would go as far as to prosecute a child, but a full grown man, riding at speed towards a nice woman and her beloved pet, thinking he has the right to be there, to simply barge his way along the pavement and through life in general just because he’s a man and looks like he might be the sort of kick a dog – I would happily see him serving a life sentence.


cycling on the pavement


*This may have been a slight exaggeration. 


In association with Busy B

I bloody love a quiz. I’ve loved quizzes ever since I used to get Garfield magazine, (mainly for the pen pal section – did anyone else have a Garfield penpal??), and the quizzes would be about whether I liked lasagne. Aged about 13 I progressed to Just Seventeen, and the quizzes were very much focussed on things like ‘Does he fancy you?’ and ‘Do boys like you?’ and ‘What kind of kisser are you?’

There was no mention of lasagne, although on reflection I suspect there may be some overlap between whether or not you can make a lasagne and whether or not a boy will like you.

Today’s quiz though is about another of my lifelong loves – alongside carbs and boys – and that is STATIONERY. Dairies to be precise. Unlike boys, you know where you stand with a diary. They are never going to let you down or be late for anything, they simply couldn’t, they are punctuality and organisation in paper form. They are reliable, beautiful, useful – everything you always wanted a boy to be at a fraction of the emotional cost.


In celebration of the humble diary, today I am offering you up not just a quiz, but the chance to win a diary that has been matched, by science*, to your exact personality type. I know, what a day.

The giveaway is being sponsored and the prizes donated by the lovely people at Busy B. The Busy B team make all kind of notebooks, diaries, meal planners and more, all with attention to detail and practical design. I’ve loved them for years and I know you will too. If you see something you like, or fancy doing a bit of Christmas shopping, you can get 20% off all non-sale items until the end of the year with the code MAKO20.

Let’s get cracking with the quiz shall we?

Busy B diaries

The questions

Question 1:

How best describes how you use your diary?

A: I use it to prevent a nervous breakdown trying to keep track of myself, my three children and 14 cats.

B: I use mine to note key appointments, manicures etc, and keep it in my elegant clutch bag at all times.

C: I use mine to plan out the Christmas Of Dreams every year, plus of course my annual summer garden party, and all of our holidays with friends in villas in Greece.

D: I pretty much have to remind myself to shower and eat meals and can’t remember a thing without it.

E: It’s just a diary DAHRLING, for writing down lunch dates with all of my friends because I am so popular.

Question 2:

What are your childhood memories of keeping a diary?

A: It was basically a family history, a who’s who and who goes where of everyone I knew

B: I’d start with good intentions, but let’s say I didn’t need PAGES

C: I mainly used it to plan my dream wedding and make my Christmas list

D: I kept a very thorough record of everything I did, including every meal I ate, down to sandwich fillings.

E: Mine was a bit of a mix of day-to-day stuff, notes, lists, all sorts really.

Question 3:

If your diary were on Keeping Up With The Kardashians, who would it be?

A: Kris

B: Kourtney

C: Kim

D: Khloé

E: Caitlyn

Question 4:

Would you like a diary with super cool handy pockets for storing all those little bits of Important Stuff?

A: Yes please

B: Very much so

C: I couldn’t do without them

D: Well dur

E: I’d give a kidney for them

Which diary should I get?

The results

Mostly As: You’re a busy life diary! You’re a multi-tasker, so you need a diary that can keep up. Busy B busy life diaries have a unique dual schedule format so you can have two schedules running alongside each other, perfect for keeping track of the family schedule as well as your own. There’s extra space for reminders, lists and handy pockets. Basically this diary does everything bar make you a coffee.

Mostly Bs: You’re an A6 To Do diary! I bet you never knew it either. This is a sleek and stylish diary, small but perfectly formed, for easy planning at a glance, monthly overviews and week-by-week pages with lots of room for notes. Perfect for keeping in a handbag and pulling out at opportune moments to say ‘let me consult my diary’.

Mostly Cs: You’re a Perfect Planner diary! You love to plan. And I mean LOVE to plan. You don’t just want a monthly overview, you want to see the whole damn year at a glance, just to see how well spaced out your mini-breaks are. The Perfect Planner diary has expense pages too, because that’s just the kind of person you are.

Mostly Ds: You’re a Day a Page diary! Where the Perfect Planner sees the whole year, you see a single day at a time. Some people call you mindful, others say you’re a teeny bit of a control freak. You say you just like to know what’s happening from one minute to the next and honestly what’s wrong with that? Keep an eye on the bigger picture too with a year planner and birthday list.

Mostly Es: You’re an A5 To Do diary! Yep, you guessed it, it’s the A6 To Do diary but EVEN BIGGER. It does all the same stuff, but the A5 To Do is saying ‘yeah, I guess I’m just more important or have more friends or something?’ There are monthly overviews, weekly planners and of course the iconic Busy B handy pockets for tucking away all the phone numbers of the new and important friends you make.

Mostly Fs: Are you okay hun? Maybe go and have a lie-down.

Busy B diary discount code

How to win a Busy B diary

Once you’ve taken the quiz, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me which type of diary you are. (Or which you’d like if you didn’t get an outright winner.) Make sure you complete the email box as that’s how I’ll be contacting winners.

I’m running this competition across my blog and this Instagram post, so if you want some extra entries you can go and enter there too. I’ll put all the entries in a hat and pull out five winners after midnight on 31st October. As long as the witches don’t get me. UK entries only I’m afraid as I’m in charge of posting.

Good luck!

*And by ‘science’ I mean ‘my made-up quiz’




Post in association with Very – all views my own

It’s not often that I do anything fashion related – I’m mainly in dog walking clothes* nowadays if I’m honest – but when Very asked me if I wanted to pick some clothes from their new Autumn range and wear them on some kind of fun Autumn activity I said ‘yes please thank you very much’ and rushed off to book myself a slot at the pumpkin farm.

As my children have grown up I’ve realised that all of the activities that you *think* you’re doing just because you have children, like getting McDonalds and watching Disney films at the cinema, are actually just THINGS YOU LIKE. It’s a bit disconcerting, because I’ve held onto the idea for years that once I had adult children I’d start getting interested in history and current affairs and probably take a subscription to The Economist, but actually it turns out that no, I just like eating sweets and playing games and reading murder mysteries.

Ah well.

What a fun excuse then to drag BOTH children, now aged 21 and 28 (GAH!) to a pumpkin field with me for Very Important Work! Honestly I don’t know how excited they were about it, but they humoured me at least, and I bought them hot chocolate and pizza from a van, because apparently pumpkin fields have pizza vans now, and they seemed quite happy.

I bloody loved it, although I’m disappointed in myself that I missed the opportunity to hold TWO pumpkins here and set myself up for a ‘nice pumpkins love’ joke. I must be losing my touch.

Autumn fashion

This was the dress I chose from Very for my pumpkin picking and I am delighted by it. Initially I was going to get something from the jumpsuits for women section because I already have a lot of jumpsuits and think they’re fun, but at the last minute I decided to have a look at the denim dresses. I don’t think I’ve ever owned a denim dress before – I think I imagined they’d be all hard and chunky like jeans – but it’s a revelation, I love it! Also it has POCKETS.

I tried to figure out what length you’d call this dress – I had a look at the midi dress for women section on the Very site for comparison – and I think it might just count? I really like it as a length on me though, especially with tights and boots for Autumn. I love so much that it’s finally cold enough for tights.

Belle says I look like the woman in the World War 2 posters who has gone to work in the factory, but I took that as a compliment. I could totally see myself in this dress rolling up my sleeves and getting to work building a fighter plane or ploughing a field or something. See how naturally I lean against a tractor? It’s like I was made for manual labour. (I am not.)

Note also that I was in charge of the wheelbarrow at all times whilst the children picked their way gingerly through the mud in their converse.

Very denim dresses

Very denim dress

As soon as she realised there were clothes involved Belle suddenly became very interested in the project and so I let her pick some bits out too. For the pumpkin picking family fun times she wore these lovely, slightly flared jeans and a what is described as a knitted bomber jacket which I absolutely love. That was her favourite item too – so snuggly for winter. I’m hoping she will get bored of it and it can casually become mine, but it seems unlikely.

Autumn Very collection

It was only taking the photos that we noticed that the buttons on the jacket are all sewn in different coloured threads, which we thought was a really cute touch. As a thank you to me for letting her choose some things Belle went all out on the pumpkin picking, helping me load the wheelbarrow, as you can see from the photo below.

Very jumpers

We had perfect weather, and probably the last day of the year where we’ll be able to get away without wearing coats. (Although Very do sell those too.)

Are you looking forward to switching to your Autumn/Winter wardrobe? Are there any pieces you’d like to add? I can recommend a browse at Very for inspiration. And who knows, if you bribe your children with something they might even come out with you.

Very autumn dresses


*And by ‘dog walking clothes’ I mean pyjamas and crocs.


Last night I was invited to attend a speed networking careers evening at a local secondary school. Around 50 15-year-olds got to spend 3 minutes each with me, asking about my career and how I got into it and what I like about it.

This morning I had a bit of a breakdown about it. If you watch my Instagram stories you’ll know all about it as I talked at length as I walked the dog, feeling very sorry for myself and rather hormonal about the whole thing. People sent me lovely reassuring messages and I may or may not have cried reading them in the park.

I think it started to feel wrong when I realised that instead of using the quirky but professional headshot I had sent them for the brochure, they’d used this photo of me from Instagram instead, where I’d found the kids’ dressing up box in a castle:

imposter syndrome

Normally this wouldn’t have bothered me, I would have found it funny, but when your HRT patch is due a change and you’ve spent some time in the afternoon crying in a Starbucks toilet because your dog needs a £4,000 root canal, you feel a little more vulnerable I guess. I was experiencing imposter syndrome and here was a picture of me LITERALLY dressed up as someone else.

As the evening progressed, I felt more and more out of my depth.

‘What are you interested in?’ I asked two boys. ‘Aviation,’ they both said, looking wistfully at the aviation engineer on the table next to me.’

‘Are you interested in social media?’ I asked a shiny-faced girl. ‘Yeah, I have over 30,000 followers on TikTok so I wouldn’t mind going into marketing maybe.’

FECK. View Post


Mako is two years old today! Happy birthday Mako! I can’t quite believe it honestly, it’s hard to imagine a time before her, but then it feels like she just arrived yesterday, all small and fluffy and deceptively bitey.

puppy realities

Basically a dragon

As adorable as that photo is, I have never been a dog person and never wanted a dog. Belle went on for YEARS, trying to wear me down, but I was adamant – they were smelly and hairy and annoying and you had to walk them in the rain and it would be ghastly. And besides, we already had three cats. And then a few years ago Belle was diagnosed with ASD and presented me with the research about the difference a dog can make and well, I could hardly say no could I? I didn’t want to get cancelled.

So there we were, getting a dog, bringing home a tiny puppy, with no idea of what to expect or how they actually WORKED.

The first thing that became apparent was that puppies have very sharp teeth and they like to use them. Mako really liked to use them. On clothes, soft furnishings, plastic cups… anything you left lying around really, but especially hands. It feels ridiculous now to say it, but I was genuinely scared of her.

When she zoomed around the living room, looking for someone to leap on and bite, I was scared. Sometimes I would run from the room and lock myself behind the stairgate. Sometimes I was also crying. View Post


I was catching up on Married At First Sight Australia yesterday and they were having their final dates – the chance for the men to show the women exactly how romantic they are, presumably at the expense of the show as for some of them it involved yachts. There is also always some kind of charcuterie board involved, which makes me wonder how much choice they actually get, but you get the gist.

Watching the dates play out I couldn’t help but cringe. All of the men were so pleased with themselves, scattering rose petals left, right and centre, running baths and offering up the charcuterie boards like they’d spent the afternoon hand curing the meats. Some of the women lapped it up, others looked a little more awkward as their husbands ran around pointing out all of the romantic things they’d done.

‘Look! White roses! Your favourite! Look at the wine I chose because I wrote it down when you mentioned you liked it!’

Now don’t get me wrong, I love it when people pay attention and remember the things I say I like. I really love it. It makes me feel seen and heard and I love that someone wants to make me feel like that. It’s one of the ways I show someone that I like them too, and so I appreciate it. What makes it feel less special though is when it’s all pointed out to you, like you’re then obliged to notice and be impressed.

I like more romance more subtle than that.

What is romance View Post


How do you define your values? What are the things that guide how you behave on a day to day basis, how you interact with friends and family and the wider world?

That was the question I pulled from my pack of cards today, when I decided it had been a while since I blogged and I needed to stop thinking about what to write and just get on and do it.

What are the most important values?

It was an interesting one to pull out as I’ve just finished listening to Lost Connections by Johann Hari, an amazing book all about the true causes of depression and anxiety and how we can go about fixing them.

I came of age as part of the generation embracing the idea of ‘brain chemistry’ as the one stop, magical explanation to depression. Although not depressed myself, I was well versed in the idea that depression is simply down to low serotonin levels, nothing you can do about it, nothing society or the government needs to feel responsible for, just plain old chemistry. View Post


About 13 years ago I tore a page out of the Guardian weekend magazine and stuck it to my fridge. It was about a man calling himself Barn the Spoon, who lived in the woods, carving spoons, pottering about, and generally seeming to have a lovely time, free from the shackles of capitalism. I admired Barn the Spoon. I wanted a bit of that feeling for myself.

Every time I moved house, I’d take Barn off the fridge and carefully fold him up and then when I unpacked at the other end, back he’d go, reminding me to follow my dreams, even if they didn’t make me a lot of money or involved living in a hut.

Here he is:

Barn the Spoon

Just before Christmas I took Barn off the fridge once more, carefully folded him, and took him to London to a spoon carving workshop. My host? BARN THE SPOON.

I know right? Talk about dreams come true. I added ‘carve a spoon with Barn the Spoon’ to my list of 50 things to do before I’m 50 when I realised that Barn’s own spoon carving dreams had evolved into teaching regular carving workshops, holding a spoon festival – Spoonfest – and even publishing three books all about carving spoons.

I was nervous. When you hold someone up as an inspiration, a model of how you want to shape your own life and ambition, you attach certain feelings and traits to them. They represent something, something that can mean whatever you want it to mean. When you actually meet that person on a cold December Sunday in a city farm in East London, well… there’s scope to be disappointed.  View Post


Hello hello! I have EXCITING news today!

You know how I went on tour with Gill Sims and it was lots of fun and I was quite sad to come home and have to live a normal life of doing my own washing up? Well, Gill felt exactly the same, and so we wracked our brains for how we could make it happen all over again, and decided to launch a podcast! It took us a little while, as we are really ideas people, but we’ve done it, and we couldn’t be more thrilled.

It’s called It’s Five O’clock Somewhere and you can now listen to episode one – Martial Arts and NHS Lube – on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Audible, and probably other places, who knows how podcasts really work? We’ve got a link here to a few options anyway, or I may have successfully embedded it just here, in which case you may just be able to press play! Probably best not to do it if you have impressionable aged kids around, what with the lube chat, and the thing about poking your husband with a fork during sex.

The grand plan is that we obviously become super successful and famous and tour the world with our podcast, but in the meantime it means we get to at least hang out and drink cocktails in the afternoon. Gill lives in Scotland and I’m in Somerset, so it’s all very modern and recorded on Zoom, and sometimes only at midday, but I looked it up and that’s 5pm in Omsk, so it’s all fine.

We have had a brilliant response to episode one already, including from Bee, my very own daughter, who said she thought it was hilarious and was going to give it 5 stars and not even out of pity. High praise indeed. If you do listen and enjoy it then pretty please do leave a rating and a review, as that’s going to be massively helpful for us as a brand new podcast.

You can also go and follow It’s Five O’clock Somewhere on Instagram and on Facebook, where we’ll be sharing behind the scenes snippets, pictures of our drinks and potentially items we feature on the podcast that may need a visual. (Not wanting to be a tease, but in our Halloween special we discuss an item my mum accidentally crocheted and you’re going to want to see a picture.)

We’ve got a teeny clip from the first episode here, just to give you an idea of what’s in store, then go and listen to the full show and tell us what you think!


Includes gifted items from Lily Blanche personalised jewellery

Last night at Brownies we talked about jobs and careers and the kind of things that the girls might want to do when they grow up. There were a lot of ambitions involving baking and animal rescue, but a good mix of more unusual things too like deep sea divers and archaeologists.

When it got to my turn, I said that when I grow up I’d like to be a detective. I didn’t have the chance to elaborate, but if I had, it would go something like this…

I would be freelance, obviously. I don’t want to be faffing about reporting to anyone or having to do boring paperwork. I will take on cases that I find intriguing, rather than just those that are well paid. I will be like Poirot in that respect, noticing the odd way a man peels an orange and instructing my assistant to follow him while I recline on a sun lounger with a cold drink to Think Things Through.

I will probably ride a bicycle with a basket, although bikes do scare me a bit, and I will definitely have a LOT of jingly bangles. They’ll be the sort of bangles I have collected over the years either on my adventures or as gifts from suitors. I will have been proposed to at least four times in this fantasy, but I will have always turned them down because they will have wanted to take care of me and buy me houses and I can’t bear to part with my hand built canal barge and collection of plants.

The bangles will jingle together as I ride through the woods on the trail of a suspect, silenced temporarily with a woolly sleeve if I’m doing anything particularly stealthy. Otherwise they will be a permanent fixture, reaching further and further up my wrists the older I get.

None of this has happened yet, although I feel it’s just a matter of time now that I have not one but two Lily Blanche bangles. They are exactly how I imagine my mature lady detective bangles to be – that sort of hammered gold vibe that looks homemade and expensive.

birthstone jewellery View Post


Advertisement feature in association with Southern

When I put ‘complete all three crazy golf courses in Hastings, the spiritual home of crazy golf’ on my list of 50 things to do before I’m 50, I didn’t realise I was carrying on a family tradition. Little did I know that my mother and grandparents before me had, in the mid 1960s, stood on the slopes of East Hill in Hastings, playing the 9 hole, council run, pitch and putt.

Hastings pitch and putt East Hill

That’s my mum on the left, my uncle Pete in the middle, and my Grandad on the right. My Grandad was rarely seen without a suit and tie, although we did find some other Hastings pitch and putt photos where he appears with his short sleeves rolled up! The scandal.

The pitch and putt closed in the 1980s, but Hastings hasn’t lost its love of mini golf. In fact, Hastings now plays host to the World Crazy Golf Championships, which I’m sure is something a lot of you had never even imagined existed. Hastings Adventure Golf, which you can see in the picture below, taken from the cliffs above, has three courses – ‘Adventure’, ‘Crazy’ and ‘Pirate’ – and last week we took a Southern train along the south coast to Hastings and did ALL THREE.

Hastings crazy golf

Crazy golf, crazy lady

Now you might be thinking ‘THREE courses of crazy golf is a lot of crazy golf Jo, are you sure you’re not the crazy one?’ and you would be right, it IS a lot. In fact, by the time we finished it was dark, and I was feeling a little bit like I might never want to see a golf ball again, but that’s the whole point isn’t it? Life is fairly meaningless at the best of times, so if you’ve challenged yourself to complete three crazy golf courses back to back then damn it, you’re going to complete them, even if it is past your bedtime. (We were visiting mid heat wave and were very pleased that the golf was open until 10pm so we could go in the evening when it was a bit cooler. By the end of it I was wishing I’d brought a golf stand bag though, or at least a child who was willing to hold things for me.)

Seriously though, we had a lot of fun, and there was a WINDMILL and everything. You know your crazy golf course is properly crazy when there’s a windmill. View Post