This month I have been reading Freedom, the new book from Jonathan Franzen.

I haven’t read anything by Franzen before, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect, and if I’m honest I was rather daunted by sheer chunkiness of it. 570 pages to be exact.

I do love reading, I really do. So much so that in 2008 I made a resolution to read 100 books in the year, and managed 104. But, at the moment I just don’t seem to have the time – I read four pages in bed, fall asleep, then have to go back two the next night to remind myself what happened. I thought Freedom was going to take me years…

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OK, it’s not that bad really, not blood and guts gruesome, but everyone I’ve told in real life has been consistently repulsed, so I thought I would share – lucky you!

I recently went on a date, a blind date in fact, with a man I met through a dating site before I got too scared and hid my profile, and who I had kept in touch with via email.

It was a fairly regular, suitably awkward first date in most ways. I arrived early and settled myself on a sofa with the paper so I could be calm and collected when he arrived, and not do my usual trick of turning up ten minutes late, fighting the urge to run away and hide under a duvet. I was served by a rather dishy waiter, who maintained eye contact for slightly longer than was strictly necessary, and who rather threw me off my stride as a result – I couldn’t help but keep glimpsing him throughout the lunch and thinking ‘Hmm… I’d rather be on a date with you…’

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This weekend, in true summer holiday style, we went to Bristol Zoo, with my sister and my 15 month old nephew, Finn. Here we are see, proof that we know how to rock and roll with the best of them:

I’m not sure how to feel about zoos. I know there is a large chunk of opinion that says they are cruel, and you can’t help but wonder about the sanity of a larger-than-man-sized gorilla spending it’s days in an area smaller than my house, but on the other hand, Bristol Zoo actually does a massive amount of international conservation work, and isn’t particularly full of large animals pacing their cages, looking like they’ve just spent six weeks shut up in the house with a gang of toddlers.

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It’s a question that gets asked time and time again – are boys and girls just different, or do we raise them differently? Is it nature, or nurture? Only having girls, it’s a hard question for me to answer, so I enjoy spending time with friends who have sons, so I can compare notes…

Last week we went with my friend Vicky and her son Ashley to Dunster Castle. Living in Somerset, we really are spoilt for scenery and Places of Interest. Great if you’re retired or are keen on historic buildings, not so keen if you’re fifteen and like screamo.

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I saw this story in the Daily Mail today (I was looking for work reasons, not for pleasure), and just had to comment….

When I saw it, it was one of the lead stories on the home page. It showed a picture of two attractive women, one fat and one thin. By fat I mean perfectly normal UK size, not a size ten, but not some sort of fifty stone ‘the woman who hasn’t left her bed for ten years’ channel five documentary type fat. It was basically two ordinary women.

The headline next to it read “one is a virgin, one has had 50 lovers. Can you guess which is which? You may be surprised by the answer…”

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It’s official, the Sunday we spent at Camp Bestival was The Best Day of Bee’s Life.

We had a lovely weekend generally, helped along by the Pimms bus in the kid’s field, but the whole weekend was totally made for us all – well me and Bee at least – by our encounter with Seth Lakeman.

Bee has always been a massive Seth fan and over the last few years we have been to loads of gigs, seen him at festivals, and generally followed him about in a slightly stalkerish way. We were absolutely thrilled then to find out that Seth and his band were a late addition to the Camp Bestival line-up.

Much of the first day there was spent trying to find out exactly where and when he was playing, as he wasn’t in the programme, but eventually we tracked him down to a small bandstand on the Sunday afternoon. A bandstand! Did they not know who he is??

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How, as a single parent, are you supposed to work, maintain your sanity AND look after children who have six-week long holidays?? SIX WEEKS! It’s just not natural.

This afternoon, after being a full-time mum since the end of July, I have spent a blissful five hours in the house on my own designing databases and writing marketing emails, while Bee and Belle have been out shopping with my mother. I am extremely grateful.

After just two weeks of being a ‘stay-at-home-in-the-holidays’ mum, I am already reaching the end of my tether. It’s like being on extended maternity leave all over again (what a stupid idea THAT was) – my neck and shoulders feel permanently tense, and my voice has become slightly high-pitched and hysterical. My patience is more frayed than my hall carpet, which is saying something, and my poor children are suffering I’m sure.

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I haven’t posted in a while. My longest ever actually. I seem to have lost my connection with the internet this week.

Not literally you understand, I’ve just temporarily lost the urge to keep up.

I blame camping, I always knew it was unnatural. Last weekend we went to Camp Bestival, and had a fantastic time mooching about outside, drinking Pimms, listening to music and generally not thinking about real life. We were staying the in Tangerine Fields, so avoided the actual having to put up the tent bit, so our camping experience was really rather civilised. There is something so soothing about eating cup-a-pasta for breakfast and just sitting quietly on the damp grass for twenty minutes waiting for two inches of water to boil.

So when we got home I felt rather overwhelmed with real life. We had managed to live quite happily in the tent with just a suitcase full of stuff, so to get home and see MOUNTAINS of useless rubbish all over the place was a bit disconcerting. ‘Surely we don’t need all this crap?’ I kept thinking to myself as I wondered around the house.

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My last post about infidelity sparked some really interesting discussion, and has got me thinking about just what fidelity means, and how important it actually is in a relationship.

So, given I always get such thoughtful interesting responses, I wanted to ask some more questions about what loyalty in a relationship means to you.

Firstly of course we have the issue of what is cheating? I think we have established that the majority of men (all my readers excepted obviously), would probably cheat if they had the chance and knew they could get away with it, but what exactly do you define as cheating? Is it a kiss? Is it sex? Or do men take the Bill Clinton approach to just how much bad behaviour you can defend… ‘I did not have intercourse with that woman…’

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I was talking to a male friend at the weekend about infidelity and he came out with a rather shocking statement.

He said that the only thing that stopped men from cheating on their partners was the possibility of getting caught. He reckoned that if there was a guarantee that the wives and girlfriends would never find out, that ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of men would cheat.

I will say that again just in case you didn’t hear me properly – ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.

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I’m having one of those days today where you question the point of things. It’s very annoying. It could be summer holiday boredom kicking in already, but as it’s still actually only the weekend, that would seem a bit premature.

It’s a really frustrating way of thinking, and I’m hoping if I write it down, it will sound so self-indulgent and pathetic that I will be shamed into thinking more positively.

This is how the conversation went this morning in my head:

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I can’t believe it’s really nearly here. I’ve been looking forward to it with a mixture of relief, excitement and dread and now I only have one more day to go.

The summer holidays. (DUM DUM DUUUUM!)

What fun stuff has everyone got planned? Holidays? Outings? Adoption?

This summer is going to be different from most for me. It will be the first summer where I have been officially working for myself and it’s a fantastic relief not to have to worry about holiday clubs, childcare or missing out on any fun.

But that’s the problem in itself. No childcare. ‘Excellent!’ I thought to myself, ‘I will wind down to the holidays, keep work to a minimum and enjoy lots of Quality Time with the girls’. But now I’m starting to get a tad panicky. Winding down is all very well, but I do still actually have some work to do, and you know how these things happen – the minute you actively DON’T want to get offered anything, you can guarantee something will land in your lap.

So the no childcare thing suddenly seems just a little bit foolhardy. Don’t get me wrong, I love my children, they are fabulous, but six weeks of non-stop seven-year old may just tip me over the edge.

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