Thank you all so much for your fab suggestions for my online dating profile – I loved them all and was very impressed by how well you clearly know me already!

On Thursday evening I sat down to compile all the comments into a profile, picked a handful of the most appealing/chesty photos I could find, and officially ‘went live’. I feel a bit like a fridge on special offer in Comet now, but am trying to think of it as a sophisticated PR exercise, rather than a blatant selling of my soul.

Since Thursday evening I’ve had emails from six men – a mixture already of funny, sweet and downright odd. I haven’t got as far as actually taking out a paid subscription, so haven’t replied to any yet, but it’s giving me time to think about them and decide on my next move.

My main dilemma is just how open-minded am I supposed to stay at this stage? I dislike the way online dating makes me judge people, and I feel particularly shallow making assumptions based on pictures, but what else do I have to go on? Knowing that a man is looking for ‘a woman as comfortable in a pair of high heels as hiking boots’  doesn’t tell me much, and surely everyone likes a ‘cold beer in the sunshine’? I know I should remember that attraction can grow over time, and that I need to keep my options open, but I do feel I should discriminate in some way.

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I think it was Hamlet who wisely said “To date, or not to date, that is the question.” It was something along those lines I’m sure, and he was right, it is definitely my question today.

I’ve been single now for over two years. There have been a few brief flings in this time, but nothing I’d consider a ‘relationship’ in the sense that you call someone your boyfriend and feel happy about asking them to take the rubbish out or farting in bed.

During this time I have been through periods of proactive dating, where finding a partner has become my most pressing yet seemingly impossible goal. I’ve also had moments where the thought of having to go through the whole ‘getting to know someone’ process has just seemed too hideous to contemplate.

In the last few months though I feel like I’ve reached a healthy plateau. I don’t feel the sense of mild desperation I felt in 2008, when I was still new to singledom, I’m generally pretty happy most of the time, yet I still have the feeling that something is missing. I don’t need a partner, but that doesn’t stop me wanting one. (And it’s not just the implant removal talking).

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For me, putting up a tent is a bit like giving birth.

Bear with me on this…

Obviously there isn’t the same actual physical pain involved, no one would ever camp if there was, but there are plenty of parallels. Think for instance of that moment when you come to pack the tent away. You look at the tiny bag, you look at the tent, surely one just isn’t going to fit in the other? See what I’m saying here?

I don’t camp often if I’m honest, (why would you pee in a bucket and eat food warm that’s meant to be cold/cold that’s meant to be hot when you could stay in a hotel?) and all my camping is at festivals. I set out full of enthusiasm, I’m confident I can do it without pain relief/crying, but the minute I set the bags down on the inevitably sloped and rocky patch of grass next to the toilets, I turn into a monster. Give me a pre-pitched tent any day.

I give the children harmless jobs to do – hold the tent pegs, pass the hammer – but within minutes I am overcome with the urge to punch someone in the face. It’s not even that I struggle with tents, I can put them up fine, I just hate it. Every time I promise myself never again, but then the months pass, the sun comes out and I find myself thinking ‘it wasn’t really that bad was it? Let’s have another go…’ (At camping, not babies).

So, that’s where I find myself today – gazing at the blue sky and thinking back fondly to the festivals I’ve taken Bee and Belle to over the last few years. Not all of them have been sunny, but they’ve all be a break from routine at least. And a change is as good as a rest after all. So I’ve been told.

As a single parent, I like to go to festivals where I can let the kids wander off for a bit, so I can at least have ten minutes lying happily in the sun on my own. My absolute favourite for this is Camp Bestival – baby sister of Bestival, set in the grounds of Lulworth Castle. Last year Bee took a friend, and the site is small and safe enough that I felt happy letting them go off on their own for the whole day. It is really family orientated – one of the headline acts is Mr Tumble – and the kids’ field has a lovely relaxed feel. Belle really enjoyed being able to run off on her own, and I felt sure she’d be able to find me again in my sunny spot.

We will definitely be going again this year, but my tent memories haven’t quite faded enough to feel ready for camping yet. To spare us all the two hours of rage on arrival (I need a good hour to calm down afterwards too), I am going to be camping in style this year in the Tangerine Fields. Not only do they put the tent up for me, they even blow up the airbeds and lay out the sleeping bags. On top of that we get private showers and toilets – complete heaven. And at the end of the weekend we can just walk away and someone else clears up. Speaking as a woman who has three-day old dishes in the kitchen, you can imagine just how fantastic I find this prospect.

So if you’re taking the kids to Camp Bestival this year, look for the posh camping and come and say hi – I might even let you have a go on my private loo.

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When I had an email this week to tell me I had been nominated for a Gurgle blog award, my first reaction, (after ‘what’s a Gurgle blog award?), was a mild panic – a dread at the prospect, after the whole MAD blog award thing, of having to bang on at everyone to vote for me again.

It would just have made me so irritating.

I replied to the people at Gurgle, (who it turns out are part Mothercare), and explained my ‘voter fatigue’ concerns, and they kindly reassured me that the nominations are being judged by a panel, so I wouldn’t have to annoy anybody. Phew!

So, feeling much better about the whole thing, I let out a small ‘hoorah!’

I get this special badge and everything.

I am nominated in the ‘best mummy blog writing’ category. I’m not sure how the nomination came about, whether I was plucked at random or genuinely cherished, but in any case, I am thrilled, if for no other reason than there are apparently goodie bags involved. Seriously though, it’s not just about the goodie bags.

Sometimes I worry that I am just sat here on my own at home spewing out nonsense, only to have it disappear into the ether, so it is always lovely to know there are people actually reading it. Of course I know there are people who do – YOU are right now of course – but it’s lovely none the less.

I sense I’m waffling now, so I had better stop. I can see I’m going to have to improve my public speaking before I have to stand up and make my acceptance speech.

Summary for people who got bored and skipped to the end: I got nominated for an award! Yay! Thanks!

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Do you remember a few weeks ago when I got my contraceptive implant taken out? You may not have wanted to know about it, but I told you anyway, and there you were, stuck with it.

I’d been wondering for some time about the impact it had been having on my emotional and physical health, having had it for six years, and I wanted to give you an update, to let you know if I’ve been feeling any different.

Oh

My

God

I feel like a different person. Seriously. Aside from the fact that I want to have sex with pretty much everyone I see (it did say it could suppress your libido, but this is ridiculous…), aside from that, I just feel like ME again. I’ve always tended to be the jolly one of the family, and the growing anxiety and nagging melancholy I’ve felt over the last year or so has felt all wrong.

But now..

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You may remember a few weeks ago I rose to the challenge to write a post including a camel, and even tried my hand at fiction into the bargain. Well, quite a few people liked it and wanted to know what happened next, especially my number one fan Brian. So last week while on my Arvon course I tried out my new writing and editing skills and wrote the next instalment. I also reworked the first part quite a bit, so here is the whole thing, from the beginning all over again. (It’s not long, I promise, my editing was harsh). Please let me know what you think – I can take brutal honesty – I had plenty of practice last week.

Amy lay on her back, covered by the shell of a car. Only the rise and fall of her chest marked her out from the other bodies. The sun moved slowly across the sky, as though scanning for some form of live. It shone through the broken car window onto her face, and she stirred.

Her eyes flickered open. “Well,” she thought, “that’s that then.”

They had seen it coming, it wasn’t a surprise, the only real unknown being what kind of survivor she would be. Would she battle on regardless, fighting fate at every corner, or would she just close her eyes again? As it happened, her instincts took over and, driven purely by thirst, she eased herself out from the wreckage.

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Hello – I’m back!

What do you mean you hadn’t noticed I was gone? I’m hurt.

For four days and five nights last week, (yes I counted every precious hour), I was staying at Lumb Bank in West Yorkshire, formally owned by Ted Hughes, and now one of the inspiring properties belonging to The Arvon Foundation. I was staying with 15 other aspiring writers, indulging ourselves in an almost-week of writing, drinking and talking about books.

Our live-in tutors were the writers William Fiennes and Mark Haddon and they were both fantastic – so experienced and knowledgeable and generous with their time. Plus quite fanciable, which is always a bonus.

The picture is a view from Lumb Bank. You can see why you might be inspired can’t you?

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Last night I gave in to my most self-destructive instincts and went to see Sex and the City 2, knowing full well that I would come out feeling poor, fat and completely lacking in style. It’s a bit like drinking – you know you’ll feel bad about yourself the next day, but it’s fun at the time.

I’ve read some pretty shocking reviews, and it has been criticised heavily for the product placement bonanza, so as I pulled up at the cinema in my TVR Tuscan I was feeling a little anxious, hoping that I wasn’t wasting my one child free night out per fortnight. I stepped out of the car, smoothed down my Chanel shift dress and checked the time on my Rolex, gazing admiringly as the last of the day’s sun sparkled across its jewel encrusted face. I was just on time.

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Yesterday I was on the way to the park with my sister Annabel and we pulled up behind a car that had a ‘Help the Heroes’ car sticker in the back.

“Do you think we should celebrate soldiers as heroes?” Annabel asked me. That’s the kind of heavy debate we go in for on a Thursday afternoon.

“Well…” I stalled, trying to come up with a suitably thoughtful answer, “I don’t know.” (Lame) “I certainly wouldn’t want to do what they do.”

And that’s true enough, but then I wouldn’t want to clean toilets for a living, or pack biros in a biro factory, or milk cows, or run marathons, or a million other things.

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When Bee was about three or four years old I could make her cry by pretending to be a lion.

It would start with just a serious face and a very quiet roar and initially she’d just look a little concerned. “Stop it Mummy!” she’d say. But I couldn’t stop. I’d roar again, with the same deadly serious look on my face. She’d look a bit more concerned, so I’d do it again. Her bottom lip would start to tremble and I knew this was the tipping point – I could stop and smile and she’d be ok, or I could do it one more time and she’d cry. Obviously I had to do it one more time.

I found it hilarious. I am a cruel, cruel mummy.

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“You have a lot of grey hair Mummy,” says Belle as she gets into my bed this morning. Charming. No ‘good morning Mummy’, ‘I hope you slept well Mummy’.

“Er, yes, thanks for pointing that out.”

She snuggles down and I decide to change the subject before she starts pointing out my blackheads or poking the fat on my thighs.

“Belle,” I say, “what would you say are your strengths and weaknesses?”

“What are strengths and weaknesses?”

“They are things you are good at or do well, things about you that you are pleased with, or things you don’t do so well or would like to improve.”

“Um…” she doesn’t looked particularly gripped by the question. “I don’t know. What are yours?”

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Words, words, words…

I love ’em. Can’t get enough of ’em. We use words and letters every day – we talk, we write, we read. The use of language is what defines us and sets us apart from other animals.

Of course you could argue that some people’s use of language is more limited than others. Bee for example communicates chiefly in grunts and smiley face emoticons, but she seems to get by.

How much do we take language for granted though? It’s true that the actual words we use only make up a small percentage of our communication, but it’s a pretty important chunk. What would you do if words or letters were suddenly taken away? I have to admit it wasn’t a question I’d given much thought to until I recently read a book called Ella Minnow Pea.

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