Belle sat her GCSEs in June this year, and so in September she moved onto college. It was a big move for her. I’m not going to go on about her struggles or anything, but I’m sure she wouldn’t mind me saying that she didn’t exactly find the last few months of school EASY. Basically she didn’t really go, so, yes, not easy. However, she passed all her exams, so onwards and upwards.

Belle starting college has been a bit of a fresh start for me too. Because I’ve been worried about her, and because it’s just the two of us at home, I feel that I’ve become a bit more controlling of things than I would normally be. Controlling is perhaps the wrong word – interfering maybe. I’m always asking her if she’s had things to eat and drink and how she slept and suggesting she go for a walk or read a book or wash some clothes. I nag and nag her not to be late for things, I remind her to do stuff that she should probably just remember for herself.

I’ve started to annoy even me.

With the start of college then, I made the decision to generally BACK OFF, because I know the theory – if she isn’t ever left to take responsibility for herself, she won’t see the consequences of forgetting to eat lunch or do homework or whatever it might be – and yet I’ve stopped putting it into practice. I’ve frustrated myself because encouraging independence has always been something that I thought I was really good at and yet I’ve found myself in this position where I’ve not done either of us any favours, because I’ve not left her to learn things for herself.

I need to do something about it because I really don’t want her to leave home in a couple of years and to be worrying that she will forget to eat.

What I want to know now then, is where do you draw the line with a child who is old enough to do things like leave home, pilot a glider and join a trade union, and yet forgets to clean her teeth, take her clothes out of the washing machine or DRINK FLUIDS?  View Post

In case you didn’t know, this month is breast cancer awareness month. It’s a subject close to my heart because my own mum was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago now. Luckily she made a full recovery, and thanks to cancer research, when the signs are spotted in time the survival rate for a breast cancer diagnosis is one of the highest among all cancers. When spotted and treated quickly, the treatment process can actually be relatively simple and straightforward, but it’s so important that we all check our breasts regularly so we can spot any red flags that might come up.

Because we are generally more aware of what to look for when checking our breasts and more people check their breasts regularly than ever before, the survival rate has jumped from 50% in 1970 to 85% in 2018. 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed in their lifetime but thankfully 691,000 are still alive today after their awful diagnosis.

A lot more info has been widespread lately about what we should all be looking for when checking our breasts, but are we really sure what we should be on the lookout for on a regular basis? It’s best to check your breasts as often as you can so that you get more accustomed to how they feel on a day to day basis and at different times during the month – this will be the easiest way to know if something is wrong. Everyone’s breasts will feel different with different lumps and bumps but the most important thing to look out for is any actual changes in your breasts. If you feel a new lump or something doesn’t look quite right it’s always better to be safe than sorry and make an appointment with your GP.

While you may think that odd and brand new lumps in your breasts might be the only sure sign of breast cancer. There are lots of other things to look out for. Everyone is different so any change in your breasts could either be harmless or a sign of a more serious problem. Things to definitely look out for: View Post

When I was 35 I made a list of 40 things I wanted to do before I was 40. It was quite a mixed list – everything from riding the wooden escalators in Macy’s in New York to making my own lemon curd. I wasn’t sure how I’d get on with it to be honest. I did wonder if once I’d bought the notebook I might let it fall by the wayside, but actually I really got into it. Having a list gave me a sense of purpose – something to focus on when I was feeling a bit lost or bored or not sure what to do on a Sunday afternoon.

I turned 40 in April and although I didn’t manage everything on the list I came pretty close. (You’ll have to go and read it to see which I missed.) In fact I enjoyed it so much that I decided to make another one.

50 things to do before I’m 50.

It’s kind of scary to think about. 40 feels like a pretty cool age, prime of lime and all that, but 50? I don’t know. 50 feels different. 50 feels OLD. Like a proper grown-up. Am I still going to be able to wear t-shirts with cats on when I’m 50? Can I still eat party rings and read Nancy Drew books? It feels like uncharted territory.

When I first wrote the 40 things before 40 post I didn’t have 40 things on the list. I wanted to get it started though, to get the ball rolling, and then I added more things to it as I thought of them. I wanted to do the same with my 50 things before 50 list. Ten years is a long time so I have plenty of time to add things as I go along. Who knows what opportunities might present themselves or what new interests I might stumble across?

This is just a starting point then, so if you have any suggestions please do let me know, the more specific the better. I find that having really specific goals gives me a much better focus and is far more satisfying to tick off.

Here’s my list of 50 things to do before I’m 50:

  • Stay at Gladstone’s library
  • Take a road trip in a convertible (ideally a blue roadster so I can pretend to be Nancy Drew.)
  • Go to the airport and take a random flight
  • Make a Baked Alaska
  • Become a Granny (bit out of my control but I’m adding it anyway)
  • Stay in an old school VW camper van
vintage vw camper

Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash

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In association with Red Tractor

Hoorah! It’s here! October! I can now officially start to get excited about Christmas, (possibly in secret as I’m not sure everyone is ready for it), eat warm apple crumble for breakfast, and generally embrace the deliciousness of autumn. Cooked apples and hot pudding are about as autumnal as it gets without actually putting on a halloween costume, which I why I choose to make an apple tarte tatin for this blog post.

apple tarte tatin with rough puff pastry

Let’s skip back a bit though, to an email I had a little while ago from the people at Red Tractor.

‘The Red Tractor logo is ace,’ they said, (I’m paraphrasing*), ‘but we want more people to know more about it! Can you help?’

‘Of course!’ I said, rolling up my virtual sleeves and putting on my imaginary pinny. ‘Show me the meats!’

‘Well that’s just it,’ they said, ‘it’s not just about meat…’ View Post

GAWD 23 years is a LONG TIME isn’t it?? More than half my life in fact. Over 8000 days.

Oh hang on, 8000 days somehow doesn’t sound as much does it? Let’s stick with 23 years.

Donkey Sanctuary

Any excuse to use the ‘Belle looking like the very small host of a donkey documentary’ photo.

Anyway, you’d hope that over that time I would have learnt a few things – you know, picked up some tips and tricks, stuff not to do. So here’s a list I came up with of some of the things I’ve learnt as a parent.

1.  You will always be a parent. Even when they grow up and leave home they still need you, just in different ways. (Mainly cash based.)

2.  Don’t take a toddler into a big Asda when they are tired or hungry. It WILL end in tears, probably yours in the car park.

3.  There is never a ‘right’ way to cut sandwiches – what was right yesterday will be wrong today so always check.

4.  Even when they get older and should have realised by now, your children will still think you know the ‘answers’. Belle asked me yesterday when the right amount of time is to tell someone you love them.

5.  Every school concert you ever go to will make you want to poke forks into yourself and then your youngest will leave school and you will cry quietly to yourself at the thought of never going to another badly performed nativity.

6.  Having pizza for two meals in one day is totally legitimate. View Post

Laura Dockrill has been a crush of mine for quite a few years now. She writes and performs with such an honest, imaginative voice – she’s just a joy. When I was asked if I fancied interviewing her ahead of her appearance this month at the Cheltenham Literature Festival I had a quick chat with the cats about it and they agreed that we definitely should. (I *may* have been spending too much time at home on my own lately.)

Laura Dockrill Cheltenham festival

Hi Laura, thanks so much for taking the time to answer some of my questions! I’ve followed (stalked) you on Twitter for ages, and so I’m thrilled to get to ask you some questions. [Me playing it cool.] Let’s start with Angry Cookie. This book is something slightly different for you in that it’s a picture book aimed at younger children – where did the inspiration come from and how was it different from writing for older readers?

I wanted to show anger in a different light and portray it as friendship, the importance of asking our friends if they are ok even if they push us away, even if it means we keep coming back. That is the importance of the reader, to keep coming back, to not give up on the cookie. And the cookie- I wanted to choose a traditionally stereotypically ridiculously sweet treat that could have all these anger issues to demonstrate that it can happen to absolutely everybody. I wanted to write something for little ones as I always visit them at school and never ever have anything for them to read so it was about time. And I’ve always wanted to work with Walker so it was a dream come true! View Post