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How much thought have you given to your digital legacy? If you were to die suddenly tomorrow, do you know what would happen to your email or your social media accounts? Does a loved one know your passwords? Would you want them to see all of your personal messages or would you prefer to have your social media accounts automatically deleted when you die?

What happens to your social media accounts when you die?

Like many things linked to death, it’s something that many of us are reluctant to talk about. We bury our heads in the sand, or figure that once we’re dead it won’t be our problem, but with more and more of us having a significant digital presence it’s not an issue you can afford to ignore, especially if you want your death to be as painless and hassle free as possible for your family.

A new study by the UK’s leading life insurance broker, LifeSearch, shows exactly how unprepared we are when it comes to our digital legacy. The study* showed that nearly a quarter of people would like to see automatic deletion of social media accounts on death, and that although more than 1 in 10 people are already worried about the fate of their online accounts, a whopping 92% haven’t prepared by telling loved ones their wishes for their digital presence after death.

I took my own little Twitter poll and it turned out to exactly replicate the findings of the LifeSearch research – most people hadn’t even considered their digital presence after death, and only 8% have a plan in place, meaning 92% don’t have anything solid for loved ones to go on when they die.

digital legacy

To try and help, LifeSearch has launched a campaign called Let’s Start Talking, which encourages the nation to be more open about the subjects that make us uncomfortable, including death, illness, money and mental health. It’s well worth a look if you want to have a difficult conversation but aren’t sure where to start. View Post

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I’m not sure that ‘leader’ is the right term to use here really. I don’t ‘lead’ by any stretch of the imagination – I’ve been volunteering at my local Brownie group for a term now and, thanks to my top notch memory, I still don’t even remember any of their namesThey don’t seem to have noticed though, and as long as I never have to take a register I think we’ll be okay.

Brownie helper? Is that better? That makes it sound like I might just be taking their coats – more of a concierge role. Let’s stick with leader. I do have a Brownie name after all. (Nightingale. Thank you.)

I know that I’ve joked about Brownies in the context of my midlife unravelling, and likened it to me almost auditioning for a role in the local production of Aladdin, but I actually love being a Brownie leader. When you’ve got used to living with teenagers, who aren’t exactly known generally for their zest for life, hanging out with a group of 7-10 year olds, who still get a thrill out of putting their hand up when they know the answer to something, is pretty uplifting.

They actually ENJOY STUFF! Like properly enjoy it, in a pure way, with a lack of self-consciousness that’s a lesson in itself.

This week we did circus skills and it was my favourite week so far. The session was led by circus man Steve, who was absolutely brilliant with them, and seeing them so engaged and interested was infectious. I found myself back in my primary school self, totally engrossed. My sole purpose became balancing that peacock feather on my finger so well that Steve noticed and praised me.

Benefits of being a Brownie leader

How I felt when I flipped a spinning plate in the air and caught it on a stick first time and Steve said I was wasted at Brownies and should join the circus.

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I had an email this weekend out of the blue from a woman looking for some advice. I was flattered, although slightly concerned on her behalf, that she had come to ME for advice. I don’t exactly have a great track record. She was interested in whether or not to tell dates about having children, and my experience of dating as a single parent.

I hope she won’t mind me quoting part of her email, as it’s anonymous:

‘I am a single parent with young children.’ she wrote. ‘The thought of dating again terrifies me and partly because I am afraid of being judged. Did you feel like you were judged when you went out on dates as a single mother? Did you find it awkward bringing it up especially when the man doesn’t have children? I’m going through all the ‘what ifs’ in my mind and frankly I sometimes feel like a failure.’

I wanted to share it because I’m sure it’s something a lot of single parents worry about and I thought it might be useful to think about it a bit.

should you tell dates about your children? View Post

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It occurred to me this week that it’s a long time since I got really cross with someone. Like REALLY cross, with shouting, and maybe swears.

It’s because the only people I tend to get angry with are boyfriends. I have a lovely family, who I never argue with, and my friends are friends for a reason – I like them and we get on. I’m not one of those people who thrives on having regular bust ups with people they’re meant to care about. It’s just not me.

As far as I can think, it must be about two years now since I’ve had a proper row with someone. Maybe two years since I shouted? That’s a long time isn’t it?

I kind of miss it.

how often do you shout

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Advertisement feature in association with Hometree

boiler cover options

My house. IN MY DREAMS.

If you’ve been considering boiler cover and fancy a free £40 Amazon voucher then BOY OH BOY, you are in luck today.

When I bought my very first house in 2017 there were a lot of things I’d never had to think about before. A fricking great DEBT for a start obviously, that I won’t pay off until I’m about 143, but smaller things too.

Like the ROOF. When you live in a rented house, you never have to worry about the roof. It’s just sort of there, covering you, and if anything goes wrong with it then it’s someone else’s problem. Ditto the plumbing, wiring, sewerage, radiators – basically ALL OF THE THINGS.

Being very sensible and nearly 40 at the time, I realised that you probably can’t take the ‘satsuma on the dashboard‘ approach to owning a house, like I do with owning a car. I would need to think carefully about grown up things like insurance, having the number of a good electrician and where to put the gin cabinet.

I’ve always been a big believer in only insuring against things you couldn’t otherwise afford to pay for. Obviously there is stuff you HAVE to have, like buildings insurance, but I’ve never spent money on extended warranties for electrical appliances, or cancelling train tickets or anything like that, because I could afford the hit if I absolutely had to.

In my new house though I decided that there were some things that, having used all of my savings for my deposit, I wouldn’t be able to afford to pay for should anything go wrong.

For example, I now have pet insurance*, because I really never want to have to spend thousands of pounds on a teeny cat leg plaster cast. The boiler and central heating system also fell into this category.

Apart from anything else, I wouldn’t actually know what to DO, in a first response sort of a way, if the boiler broke down – who do you even call? How much is the call out fee? How does ADULTING WORK??

*takes deep breaths*

Besides, I’m a very big fan of being warm – I definitely didn’t want my boiler out of action. View Post

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Advertisement feature in association with Kally Sleep

It has ALL being going on in my bedroom this last week.

(Not like that, rude.)

First I closed down my neighbourhood one woman peep show by getting the new blind, and now I have a NEW PILLOW. I know, I know, it’s pretty racy. Honestly, I don’t know why anyone ever complains about being fed up or lacking a purpose when there’s excitement like this potentially around every corner.

Kally Sleep side sleeper pillow review

Perhaps this pillow will be the thing that stitches my midlife unravelling back together? Okay, so that’s unlikely, but still, it’s nice to at least be comfy in bed while you wrestle with your existential thoughts.

The pillow in question is the ‘ultimate side sleeper pillow’ from Kally Sleep.

Here’s what the website says about it:

‘The Ultimate Side Sleeper Pillow has been designed to give side-sleepers balanced support, helping to prevent neck and back pain during sleep. Its walled sides help to align your head, neck and spine and offer an extra level of quality comfort, maintaining its shape over long periods of use.’

And here’s what I say about it: View Post

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should you have kids if you hate children

Can you be a parent if you hate children? It’s a bit of a weird question I guess. Technically of course you can have children – perhaps the question really is should you, or maybe even why would you?

I’ve been thinking about it because of a conversation I had recently on Twitter. I’d been harping on about my midlife unravelling and a man replied telling me that his life wasn’t quite where he had expected it to be by this point in his life. He had never been married, he told me, no girlfriend, no kids, no pets. He spent a lot of his time alone he explained.

I asked how he felt about this – was it that he wanted all of those things, or was he actually quite happy with how things were, but feeling under pressure to tick the boxes.

His reply surprised me. View Post

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I was sent a blind from Make My Blinds for the purposes of this review and to spare my neighbours

It’s been about three months now since I had to take my bedroom curtains down because they smelt of bolognese.

I’m not quite sure what happened – smells from the kitchen I presume – but every time I went in my bedroom I was noticing this horrible old food smell. I changed the sheets, I made sure there were no ‘gifts’ from the cats decomposing under the bed, but I couldn’t shift it. I sniffed about, and traced it back to the curtains. I took them down, washed them, but it was still there.

Fortuantely I hated the curtains anyway – they were a ‘temporary’ measure when we moved in two years ago – so I took it as a sign from the universe that it was okay to sell them at a car boot sale to a nice lady who was going to cut them up for something.

I’ve not minded too much being without curtains, because I love having the window open and feeling the breeze on my face and waking up to the sunshine and the sound of the birds. It has been lovely and bright without curtains and I’ve liked not having vast widths of fabric breaking up the clean lines.

Over the last month though, as the sun has been coming up earlier, it has been catching me on the face at about 5am, it a kind of intrusive, burny way, which isn’t so idyllic.

I also have a bright street light outside my bedroom, which has been a bit annoying, plus my bedroom window is pretty much the full width of my room and is at the front of the house, so probably not ideal for the neighbours.

This is what it looked like without the curtains:

Review faux wood blinds Make My Blinds

I may have been confused as to what was meant to be the focus of this picture.

I’ve been umming and ahhing then about what to do next. View Post

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I was gifted these treatments in exchange for this review

‘I keep being drawn back to your womb,’ said Lisa, her fingers exploring the soles of my feet, ‘does that mean anything to you?’

It didn’t. But that was a good sentence wasn’t it?

‘There’s also a spot in your lower back, left hand side,’ she said, ‘that feels like it might be painful.’

I started a bit at that, as I actually had my left fist discreetly placed under a spot on my lower back that, ever since my car got hit by an ambulance about 20 years ago, has hurt if I lie on my back for more than about five minutes.

In case you hadn’t figured it out, I was having my first ever go at reflexology, not a session with an overly sympathetic foot fetishist. What neither of us knew was that as she held my feet in her hands, connecting strongly with my womb, Bee was at the maternity hospital having an injection to start inducing labour. Coincidence maybe, but then I do feel sick if Belle has a migraine, so who knows.

The reflexology was part of a selection of treatments that I was gifted by Beaux Health and Wellbeing and Tia Brown Natural Aesthtics. Beaux is a centre on The Crescent in Taunton, owned by a lovely woman called Lauren, and Tia offers advanced skincare treatments at Beaux as one of several locations across Bristol and Somerset.

When I was in my 20s and early 30s I was never really a spa kind of girl. Being poor probably had something to do with it, but I just never found the idea of being massaged or anything like that relaxing. I did get gifted a massage as a birthday present once and I didn’t like it at all – I was so tense, lying there wondering which bit of me she was going to touch next. I don’t think I quite got it. I was always rubbish at small talk too. It’s only recently that I’ve started half enjoying going to the hairdresser.

As I’ve got older though, and perhaps a little less self-conscious and better at chatting, I’ve started to ease myself into the idea of beauty and spa treatments. It turns out that lying down in a darkened room full of lovely smelling oils while someone undoes all the knots in your back can actually be pretty nice.

So, it was with excitement rather than 26 year old me’s anxious reluctance that I rocked up to Beaux.

Beaux Taunton View Post

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Spoiler alert – I WILL give away the ending 

Toy Story has always had an uncanny way of mirroring my own life.

The first Toy Story film came out in 1995, the year Bee was born – an introduction to the world of parenting and children and toys when, let’s be honest, I was basically still a child myself. 1999 saw the release of Toy Story 2 when Bee was four years old and the prime age for imaginative play.

Then we had a break, and in 2010 Toy Story 3 swept in, just as Bee was gearing up to leave school and start college, with a film all about kids growing up and leaving home. Andy was a teenager now, moving on. He didn’t need Woody and the other toys anymore. They were being left behind, their job done, but what next for them? Who were they without Andy?

God. I saw that film THREE TIMES in the cinema and I cried every damn time.

And then Toy Story 4.

I didn’t know what to expect, and initially I was kind of disappointed.

‘I don’t buy it,’ I said dismissively to Belle as we left the cinema. ‘No way would Woody have left Bonnie and his friends, that’s just not his style.’

Nonplussed would have been a good word to describe me. I just didn’t get it. It seemed so out of character for Woody when his whole life until now had been about taking care of others. He lives for being someone’s toy. That’s his JAM.

It was only about an hour later, while I was doing the washing up and thinking about it some more, that it struck me – that was the POINT wasn’t it? Woody HAS spent his whole life looking after other people, leading people, taking care of them, and it wasn’t enough any more.

Woody has had his very own midlife unravelling.

Toy Story 4 midlife crisis

(Catch up with my own midlife unravelling here if you’ve not read it already.) View Post

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Okay, so I’m not going to go as far as a rebrand or anything, but if you follow me on social media AT ALL then you cannot have failed to notice that one week ago today Bee gave birth to a baby boy! Does it seem ages since I teased you with the scan photo? It feels like a REALLY long time to me.

It turned out to be even more exciting than I was expecting it to be, as Bee hadn’t realised she’d be allowed two people in the delivery room, and so when she found out, she asked me to be there.

Casually, like ‘if you fancy it.’

I definitely DID fancy it.

I’ve actually always wanted to see a baby be born. It’s weird, because although I’ve done it twice obviously, you don’t get to really SEE it. You’re so involved in the searing pain, ripping of flesh etc, that you can’t exactly concentrate on watching and marvelling at the miracle of birth.

Bee was absolutely amazing, as I knew she would be. Although I know she worries a lot about things, she has this incredible way of handling stress or pain, where she just seems to focus inside herself and go all quiet and calm and powerful looking. She did it when she had her skull drilled into, and she did it again last weekend.

Bee’s partner was an absolute star too – they make an adorable couple and he couldn’t be a better daddy.

Anyway, here he is, on the day he was born:

 

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A post shared by Jo Middleton 🐱🐾 (@slummysinglemummy) on

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About a week ago Belle and I went for our second visit to Symonds at Redwood, a lovely restaurant on the outskirts of Bristol – Clifton side – with a focus on seasonal, locally sourced food. Symonds is a slightly unusual offering in that it’s situated within a luxury retirement complex, but don’t let this put you off – it’s open to everyone and the service, ambience and decor is top notch. You’d expect nothing less from a luxury retirement after all.

The first time we went, about a year ago now, Belle was in a grump. I can’t remember why exactly, but I know it wasn’t a great time for her generally. She had GCSE exams looming, and wasn’t what you’d really call going to school, as she was finding it all a bit much. Being made to go out for dinner with me seemed to tip her over the edge, despite having her every whim catered for, including an off-menu side of dauphinoise potatoes.

This time around though she was in much better spirits and I was feeling more optimistic about conversation levels.

Redwood near Clifton

As I had been expecting, we were greeted by friendly and attentive staff, and settled down for a look at the menu. The food changes every three months, inspired by what’s in season and available locally, and if you go now you can choose from delicious sounding things like ‘Skate wing, celeriac puree, girolle mushrooms, braised fennel and beurre noisette’ and ‘Asparagus, petit pois and basil oil risotto, pecorino crisp and wild rocket’.

(You know a menu is fancy when every ingredient is listed don’t you?) View Post

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