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

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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!

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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.

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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.)

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

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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

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I know that no one cares about those ‘God I’m so sorry I’ve not blogged in so long! How you must have missed me!’ posts, because let’s face it, you didn’t even notice I was gone did you?

I bloody knew it. How rude.

The hiatus has been for reasons two-fold. One, I seem to live my life on Instagram stories and forget that some people still read actual long sentences rather than just looking at pictures of me having a cup of tea in the garden. Two, I’ve been on tour! Doesn’t that sound glam? I say it casually to men on Tinder – ‘Oh gosh sorry for the slow reply, I’ve been on tour you know!’ – and it FEELS terrible glam to me. It actually has been a lot of fun, although I’ve learnt that dressing rooms are really way less luxurious than I had imagined them to be. Mainly it’s just a few plastic chairs and a shower in the corner. More hospital waiting room that backstage home to the stars.

I’ve been the host of a book tour for the Sunday Times bestselling, all round very funny and clever Gill Sims, who writes the Why Mummy series of books and has just realised her fifth novel, The Saturday Night Sauvignon Sisterhood, which, fun fact, I was only the third person to read. It’s very good. I cried twice – once sad tears and once happy tears – which isn’t bad considering my daughter Bee has always maintained I have a heart of stone. View Post

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If there was one thing I could change that I feel would significantly change the quality of my life it would be the consistency of my sleep.

When I was a teenager, pre-children, (I was 16 when I was first pregnant so my teenage years and parenting overlapped), my sleep was impeccable. I used to be in bed by around 9pm every night and I slept so soundly that sometimes my mum and my sister would worry that I was actually dead. They could shout at me and shake me and nothing, I was out cold.

And then I had a baby and honestly I’m not sure I’ve slept properly since. With my first daughter it wasn’t so bad – I still did the half ear open thing that all mothers do, but she slept well and I didn’t have a prolonged period of sleepless nights. Belle though found sleep more difficult. For the first couple of years she slept in bed with me and would wake sometimes hourly, and it wasn’t until she started school that she started sleeping through the night.

Fast forward another 10 years or so and the perimenopause and all her delights were upon me, most noticeable of which was an apparent inability to sleep for more than an hour or two at a time without having to balance it out with an equal amount of time spent thrashing about uncomfortably, counting down the hours until I knew I would have to be awake again.

Starting HRT last year helped massively, and I do wake up less and for shorter periods now, but my sleep is still far from perfect and it varies during my cycle too, some nights letting me go for hours at a time, others keeping me on high alert with anxious dreams and periods of overheating.

Fun. Times. All. Round. View Post

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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

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Have you been watching the Sex And The City reboot, And Just Like That?

I have and I loved it, even though it made me cry a LOT.

I was never an OG Sex And The City fan. I have a story about how when I first decided I wanted to be a freelance journalist and started my blog it was because I’d been watching a lot of Sex And The City and fancied myself sitting about outside cafes writing a relationship column and drinking cocktails every night with hot men. While the story is true, it happened in 2009, over 10 years after the show first aired. Not exactly ‘finger on the pulse’ stuff.

I started watching it because I’d just come out of a nine year relationship, aged 30, and I needed something to remind me what it meant to be single. The version of single I saw on Sex And The City wasn’t my version though. They were single and childless and seemingly had endless money available for high heels and parties, despite spending most of their time on dates. I on the other hand had a teenager and a six year old, I definitely did not have endless money, I spent most of my time on the school run or cooking fish fingers, and my cocktail options were pretty much limited to WKD at the local Wetherspoons.

And then there was the fashion. Women’s clothing has just never been something I’ve understood. Sure, they looked pretty, but I would never have been able to tell you what designers they were wearing, nor would I have cared. I wanted the lifestyle and the freedom, but not to have to maintain such high standards. I wanted the male attention, but not at any cost.

If we’re laying it out, I never especially like Carrie either. I found her whiney and difficult and selfish. But perhaps partly that was jealousy, as I’d never felt like I’d had the opportunity to be selfish.

When And Just Like That came out then, it wasn’t like I was wetting my pants excited about it. I wanted to take a look, but I wasn’t expecting to feel a particularly strong connection. I watched the first episode though and BOOM, suddenly I could see what all the fuss had been about first time around amongst the single women in their twenties and thirties.

Suddenly I could RELATE. View Post

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Okay, I know, I’ve given it away just a tiny bit in the name of this post, but take a look at my new necklace from Sinful. Pretend you didn’t see the title… can you guess what it is?

vibrator necklace sex toys

What’s that? You think its a mini clitoral vibrator? Oh my God, you’re right! However did you guess?

*cough*

If you hadn’t known though, it wouldn’t have been the first thing that sprang to mind would it? I definitely haven’t come across any vibrator necklaces before. (Pun intended. Sorry not sorry.) This one is the Crave Vesper Necklace from Sinful, which immediately makes me think of James Bond and Vesper martinis and makes it extra sexy.

It has four different vibration programmes – three continuous and one pulsating – and you never have to worry about it running out of batteries because it’s rechargeable via a USB cable that’s included. The whole thing comes in a beautiful box, making it look simply like an innocent piece of jewellery. View Post

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Includes gifted items from Lily Blanche

On Monday I went into town for a meetingThat sounds terribly exciting, but I use the word town in the traditional sense i.e. I walked into Taunton town centre, not the fancy sense that rich people use to mean going into London to see a show. Shame.

Still, it WAS exciting. I changed out of my muddy dog walking clothes especially, and wore my fur coat, which I only get to wear I’m on my own as otherwise Mako freaks out a bit. I think she might think I’m being attacked by some other sort of animal? I took the obligatory selfie, and here I am, looking quite the part.

Lily Blanche pearl necklace

As you may have spotted, I’m also wearing a rather lovely baroque pearl necklace, which was a recent gift from a lovely jewellery company called Lily Blanche, who have a whole range of beautiful necklaces, lockets and personalised jewellery. I chose the baroque pearl because of the inspiration behind the Lily Blanche brand, which you can read about on their website:

‘The Lily Blanche story beings on the windswept Island of Skye in the Inner Hebrides, where I spent childhood holidays with my grandmother, Lily Blanche Sheridan. It was here, playing on the shore of the loch, opposite my grandmother’s white-washed croft, that I first came across real pearls washed up on the rocks.’

Isn’t that a lovely image? When I’m wearing the necklace I can imagine the thrill as a child of finding a real pearl just lying there, sandy amongst the rocks. It sounds like just the sort of adventure I longed for when I was younger. (And now if I’m honest.) View Post

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How ARE you?

It’s a question I feel like we’ve been asking each other a lot over the last couple of years, and for at least the first 18 months of that I would have said ‘I’m fine!’

Fine. It’s such a nothing word isn’t it?

‘Oh you know,’ I might have followed up with, ‘just plodding along!’

PLODDING. Ergh, what a grim description to have of your own life.

If you’ve asked me in the last few months though, as long as you haven’t caught me on a bad dog day, then I definitely won’t have described myself as plodding, because I have been feeling GOOD.

ACTIVELY GOOD. Look at me this morning – this is an actively good face.

Now when I say good, I don’t mean I’m bouncing off the walls in excitement, full of boundless energy, in the gym every morning or anything like that, let’s not get silly, but I feel NORMAL. View Post

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