Saturday, 28 November 2015


So I failed again during my anxious period and haven't written since mid October. There definitely seems to be a pattern.

I'm feeling a lot better at the moment. As usual I can't identify why. There were a few really bumpy weeks but I'm out the other side. Again. Which is very good.

One trend at the moment is how early I keep waking up. There are benefits of course. I'm really enjoying half an hour to watch the news and think. It's cold enough I can justify the fire on and a dressing gown and blanket on the sofa. Of course I can't do anything particularly useful because I like the half an hour so much I don't want to shorten it by making any actual noise. I can't boil the kettle and the TV is barely audible. I am also desperate to reduce the bags under P's  eyes, help T claw back lost sleep from last week and let my husband have some rest. But I also want just a bit more peace for me.

If only I wasn't so flipping tired it would be genius.

Apart from that I feel nearly ready to make some changes. Hopefully they will be long term ones. I'm joining a gym, yet again. I have a list of stuff to do that involves getting a hair cut. It's a realistic list I think.

The biggest change I need to make is turning down social media in my life. Not turning it off, just turning it down. So I'm going to check it in the evening each day and not before. I can't tell you how hard this will be - it's become such a habit to read what's going on this way far too often. I'm going to walk down the street with my phone in my pocket. And I'm going to listen to even more Radio Four.

So in the short term please can you text me, not Facebook message me if you want me? The last thing I want is to miss out on contact.

Much love, K

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Deep Breath

I'm sitting here feeling sick. Willing myself to make a commitment to go out singing. Which I love. But I want to hide at home.

I'm being honest. It's probably as hard to read as it is to write.

I'm struggling with anxiety. Fuelled by Sheffield City Council, children's worries, school and the dark. Not all the time. This morning I was fine. But at this moment. Now.

So I'm going to stop typing, have a cup of tea and get ready to go out, giving both my children cuddles before I go. Tomorrow I'll go to work and it will be ok. And then one day I will feel a lot better and it happen less and less often.

But this is a bit rubbish.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

The circle of life

So Friday was a bit unusual. A very old and scraggy looking pigeon pecked around our rabbit hutches, seemingly with no energy to fly anywhere. It looked pretty miserable and it didn't seem to want to talk about it's issues. It went underneath the hutch instead.

It was then I remembered that I am really not great with animals and birds. Alive or dead.

I have close to a slug phobia. They actually make me nauseous. Paul has been trapping them in a pool of lager every night and disposing of them. Apparently there is a mass slug grave in front of the bug hotel. I don't want to think about it.

Once I thought there was a dead hedgehog in a groundsheet that had been left rather too long shoved under a bench in the garden. I picked up the groundsheet and put the whole thing in the bin. Paul came home, removed the groundsheet from the bin and the hedgehog ran off. And yes I do know hedgehogs are nocturnal, I'm just an idiot.

Then there was the badger incident. It was trapped in our garden and couldn't get through the gate to escape. We heard the gate bell ringing frantically. I was painting the bathroom at the time and was frankly terrified. Paul went down and opened the gate (with some trepidation however). I heard him saying "Out you go Mr Badger". Very respectful. And much braver than me.

Oh and dead fish. Not great with them either.

So I spent much of the day concerned about the pigeon. Yes about it's wellbeing, but moreover how the hell I was going to remove it from under the hutch when it shuffled off it's mortal coil.

In the meantime one of our rabbits decided to dig a kind of trench (nowhere near the slug grave thankfully) and laid down in it, looking to all intents and purposes, well, dead. Seriously I have never seen it so still. I called Paul. We stroked her and talked in a worried fashion. She didn't move a muscle and her glass eyes stared upwards (well sideways, she is a rabbit). Then she stood up and ran around the garden at high speed refusing to go back in her hutch, like every other sodding night.

Finally, after dark, the time came to remove the pigeon as it had passed away next to the hutch. The decision was taken (after about a second) that Paul was going to deal with it's departure. He scooped it up a child's pink plastic spade after the third attempt and walked it around the house and down the road, dropping it only a couple of times. He then threw it ceremoniously over the end wall. A natural funeral is what it would have wanted, plus I didn't want to dig it a grave in case for obvious reasons. I should add over the wall is a fairly dense wooded thicket not someone's garden.

It's been a couple of days now and no more deaths or near deaths thank goodness. I'm trying not to think about rabbit demise. It won't go well for me when it happens. But they are supposed to live about 8 years so hopefully we don't have to worry just yet.

I am wondering however whether I should seek out some therapy...

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Tricky Stuff

Ok so I'm being honest here. Before I start please don't worry about me. This is me recognising a problem and talking about it so I can make sense of myself and tackle it.

I've been crying this last week. Once every day in fact. Sometimes because I'm worried about my daughters. Sometimes because I felt overwhelmed. And once because I read a post about a teacher on the internet.

I have a tense feeling in my stomach.

I'm a bit ill which doesn't help. I have a shocking sore throat and feel dizzy and tired, with a definite twitch in my left eye. I've been sleeping more than usual.

My food intake so far today has consisted of a bagel, half a packet of fizzy strawberry laces, some dark chocolate, a glass of orange juice, a salmon fillet and a can of diet coke. That's all the food groups covered there surely. You'll be reassured I've now filled my fridge and fruit bowl and planned what we are eating all week.

I tried to launch myself into exercise on Monday to fix things. I walked to work and back and my hips hurt for two days afterwards.

I know Autumn is a trigger period for my moods. Post September I seem to slump and feel lost. I know I have to take action, but it's hard. Maybe if I make a pledge publicly I hope it will help me stick to it.

1. I will do 20 minutes yoga as often as I can - with the kids. We have finally got rid of the carpet covered in dubious stains so it's quite appealing to lie in the middle of the living room floor.

2. I will keep talking (my husband is brilliant at listening to me) and writing.

3. I will follow the planning meals and eating fruit and veg thing. Chocolate will however also feature but I'll give the kids the rest of the fizzy laces.

Anxiety is a bummer. When I start to feel symptoms this is usually when I shut down and stop communicating so this time I'm not. I'm sticking two fingers up to my amygdyla.

Edited to add - this is not the only or even main thing in my life. Writing about it may look as if it is. My anxiety exists alongside me doing things and having fun. Some days it's worse. Some days it's better. It isn't all encompassing. I know this is lucky and might seem weird. It definitely is hard to explain.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Vintage Flea Market

I've become quite partial to a vintage flea. Plus I adore Abbeydale Picture House so I always enjoy a couple of hours mooching about the stalls.

This time it had the added benefit of hosting 1980s themed fashion shows. I don't think I ever expected to be explaining puffball skirts and shoulder pads to my daughters - which was weird enough - but them being fascinated and almost impressed was even more bizarre. Their faces were a picture - they looked like they had landed on Mars.

We sorted through the frocks, maps, crockery, jewellery and biscuit tins. We drooled over vinyl and enjoyed Whirlow Farm lunch. If I could have got away with a glass of prosecco believe me I would have done.

 An extra joy was bumping into people I know. Students from theatre school, my singing lady friend who collects beaded evening bags, stall holders from my Barefoot days and gorgeous flamboyant people I hadn't met yet dressed in 1950s dresses and three piece suits (shopping for a chair for their tattoo parlour). It doesn't get more eclectic than that. It's a community I like being a very small part of.

So I'd recommend a mooch. It's £2 to get in and you have the added joy of seeing this stunning picture house which one day I hope will be returned to its former glory. It's musty and dishevelled, broken and beautiful and full to the rafters of fabulous people. Plus I expect you will come home with something you didn't know you needed...

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Musical Instruments

Advice for parents of children who are in the early days of playing a musical instrument:

1. Paying for your child to play an instrument is a good thing.

2. Brace yourself. There will be screaming.

3. You will have to join in and play terribly to show the child that they are way better at the instrument than you. Not difficult in my case for the clarinet.

4. The noise is a challenge.

5. Paying for your child to play an instrument is a good thing.

6. Your child may not be thanking you for encouraging them to practice but...well they aren't thanking you. In fact no-one is.

7. Very occasionally your child will achieve something cool and they will smile. This is rare and the only positive you will see for several weeks so grasp onto it.

5. Paying for your child to play an instrument is a good thing. Really it is.


So we are officially 40. I say 'we' because you may not be aware that my husband and I share our birthday. Yeah I know, isn't that unusual? It is. Although having spent the first 21 years of my life sharing my birthday with my dad, I was greatly surprised by yet another person entitled to slices of cake.

I actually liked sharing my birthday this year. After about 3 years of fluctuating midlife crises I think I've finally accepted that 40 will be ok. And sharing that special event with my husband couldn't be much better really. Plus we were very grown up and talked about it properly this time giving the kids lots to do - I baked the cake with them (it was awful) and he made breakfast with them (which was lovely).

We also had a party. This was a child free, friends party with lots of cocktails. Which also means we get to celebrate with family in due course. I do like a drawn out celebration.

We haven't had a house party in years. I won't bore you with details but it made us both very happy. Very old friends travelled to see us. They know who they are - I won't go on but I did cry.

My singing friends even sang with me, giving up their time and being brave enough to face a crowd of drunken revellers. We had juggling, blindfold origami, magic, a self penned comic song and everyone (well almost everyone) learned a song acapella, led by my brilliant singing teacher and friend. One of my friends even learned to play Waterloo on the recorder although she only displayed this to private audiences. The chiminea got a bit hot and there was pina colada on tap. Not bad really.

So this post is to say thank you to my friends - for celebrating with us. We are extremely lucky to have you in our lives.

Now back to planning a lovely celebratory lunch with family. I rather like this 40th birthday thing. Even if I do have to share it.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

I wasn't entirely sure of this if I am honest, simply because I saw the National Theatre Live version last year and despite it being a cinema link up I was blown away. It seemed unlikely that the show at the Lyceum could have the same impact.

But in spite of the set and the script not being a surprise I still adored it. The choreography is beyond words and that coupled with superb acting and innovative projection conveyed a real feeling of the sensory overload autism can bring.

The play is about a fifteen year old boy with autism who discovers the murder of his neighbour's dog and sets about solving the crime. Although of course it is really about human relationships, disability and connection. Half way through I was desperate to hug my children at the thought of not being able to.

The cast must be mentioned - Joshua Jenkins was stunning as Christopher and the supporting cast were all memorable and comedic. Their energy, timing and focus was incredible.

But the set designers have to share the limelight. This show is nothing like you have seen before. Unless you've seen it before. But even if you have, go again.


Friday, 4 September 2015

Gin Fest

The taxi driver was confused when I said I was going to a gin festival. I suppose it isn't your usual Friday night out.

When I was at university the twelfth gin made me cry. But that was terrible gin and, well it probably wasn't twelve since I usually lost count around six.

I don't drink gin in excess anymore. A beverage that I associate with weeping isn't usually my first choice. Although I do really really like it. It reminds me of trips to the pub with my friends at 21. And Christmas.

So when my friend asked me to drink gin on a Friday night I jumped at the chance. A night out with a very good friend and the chance to drink gin, listen to music and try to stay vertical? What's not to like.

I didn't realise there were over 100 types of gin. I also hadn't fully appreciated how many types of gin cocktails there are. It's mind boggling.

In case you, like my taxi driver, are wondering what happens at a gin festival it's essentially as follows. You buy tokens (4 for £20). You then flick through the brochure of too many gins to comprehend and randomly pick one. You then drink it and go and get another one. Then you drink gin and tonic with gin flavoured ice cream in it through a straw. Then you drink some gin cocktails. You also watch hipsters and ladies in 1950s frocks. And you try not to fall over.

What I learnt was, well I still like gin, Especially good gin (Sir Robin of Locksley is fab and I failed to remember any of the others I tried.). I also learnt that palma violet flavoured gin is just plain wrong.

Great night.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Summer's Over

Well that's that then. The summer holidays are over - well one more day for the girls but I'm back to work properly tomorrow. Plus it's raining and I have a blinking hoody on.

All in all it's been really good this year. I feel like we have properly seen friends and family we haven't seen in far too long, and had a real mix of adventures along the way. Plus our holiday this year didn't involve the need for central heating in August so that's a step up.

On top of all that the latest sticker chart is making some headway into teaching the girls not to be downright rude to each other all the time. Impressive since they don't know what is actually going to happen if they reach the end of it.

None of us want to go back to school. This term is often a challenging one for me. I start in September enthusiastically - ironing polo shirts and going for a run. I finish in October scrabbling around for clean socks and eating an entire packet of hobnobs while watching back to back rom coms.

I also always set myself up to fail. I see September the same way I see January - time for a new start. I always embark on something that I can't achieve. A diet, an exercise regime, an over planned and over filled social calendar, plans for a clean cooker - that kind of thing.

I'd like to say I have learnt from my mistakes and am approaching it differently this time but Ive bought new notebooks which is always a bad sign. There is already a timetable for exercise and cleaning at draft stage. Doomed to fail as usual.

But one thing is for sure I am going to write. I've been finding it hard to blog of late. Maybe things haven't been funny enough. Certainly the idea of blogging about nice days out as a National Trust member doesn't really float my creative boat. Life going fairly well just isn't that interesting perhaps. Or maybe I've just been too damned tired and a bit too focused on catching up with Homeland.

Whatever the case, here is me getting back to it. I might find time to backwards blog about a few holiday things but I'm not committing. I'll start with going forwards.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Grade 1

It was T's first guitar exam today. It took me back if I'm honest. Although I seem to remember crossing a huge floor clutching my music in a dramatic fashion, rather than sitting in someone's living room - someone who judging by her cabinet has a penchant for Terry Pratchett novels. This is how they do it these days apparently.

She wanted to do Grade 1 and I didn't see any harm. Until I found out how much it was. Then I noticed the significant upper cut to my finances. We paid for the exam, and the required music book. Then I found out it was in the middle of a working/school day. Brilliant. It also clashed with a school trip which was irritating but saved me £7.50 there - every cloud - but I'm still somewhat in deficit. It would have been even more money if she needed an accompanist (I'm rethinking P's desire to play clarinet...).

We arrived at a terraced house in Sheffield nearly bursting into some poor boy's violin exam by accident. We entered a room with about ten chairs in it (along with a table and cabinet full of Pratchett novels).

A lady bustled in and said "Right then. Get your instrument out and tune it." A little optimistic surely for a 9 year old to tune her own guitar adequately. The woman bustled out of the room and someone's dad said it sounded alright to him, which I took to be positive enough. I told Tilly I thought she should be warming up and another mum said she could go in the kitchen (which had a keyboard in it, as you do) and shut the door. A little harsh surely. She hadn't even heard her play.

After a while the bustling lady reappeared and Tilly tried out a number of chairs in a style reminiscent of Goldilocks. The first one was too high. The second, well I pointed out that having wheels wasn't a great plan. The third was actually a rocking stool. I can't imagine that ever being useful especially during a music exam. She plumped for the too high one.

I had decided that the bustling lady was clearly something to do with the exam. She asked "Are we on pitch?" Tilly hadn't got a clue what she was going on about and I lost myself for a moment imagining guitar playing in the goal at Bramall Lane.

Bustling lady, who still hadn't actually introduced herself, then retrieved a tuning fork from her handbag. She told me she was once stopped at airport security for carrying it in her hand luggage.

The tuning process took quite some minutes and for once in my life I found myself wishing I'd brought the iPad with me to use an app.

Tilly was asked to play her pieces but was highly confused and started to wonder if she was being examined already. She was still sitting on the wheelie chair and it wasn't helping her performance.

Eventually she went into the examiner and I had a nice chat with bustling woman. She asked me for help finding a postcode of (according to Zoopla) a very expensive house in Surrey. She recalled her own guitar exam experience from years ago. And she listened to her answer phone message - apparently her friend has a dentist appointment and can't meet her for lunch this week. All the time I could hear Tilly playing, clapping and singing through the living room wall. Which presumably means Tilly knows all about her lunch plans too.

I asked how long the results would be and was told anywhere between 5 days and 6 weeks. I don't even know where to begin with this statement.

Tilly was fine when she came out. She thinks she's passed and wonders if we can go out for dinner if she gets full marks (she doesn't think this is likely). I said we could go out to dinner whatever but the size of the ice cream is dependent on the mark she gets. She knows I'm joking.

So. Expensive, inconvenient, a bit bonkers. I wonder if we'll have to do another one...

Tuesday, 16 June 2015


There is nothing that gets under my skin more than Sock.

Sock is P's name for her amygdala. He spends most of his time leading her to believe she is being chased by a ferocious tiger. He floods her with adrenalin that she neither understands nor has any idea what to do with.

Sock is an idiot. He has the best of intentions but leaves her with regular stomach ache and (increasingly now) chest pains. That's setting aside the hysteria that currently goes with a swimming lesson that includes none of her friends.

I'm sympathetic. God knows I know a bit about excess adrenalin. My amygdala is now called The Cat in the Hat and frankly he seems to be comparing multiple sports days, school visits, T's guitar exam and a camping trip to a herd of elephants stampeding my garden.

But despite my own understanding of all this I just can't help it - sometimes the stomach ache and refusal to eat gets on my nerves. Sometimes when I'm trapped in a car delivering P to a swimming lesson saying for the fiftieth time that she will be fine and she is a good swimmer when I actually want to cry myself and say "oh just get on with it it costs me a fortune". But on we go.

Since re-reading this article, following it's advice and naming Sock (the little git) I am more tolerant of the moaning and we feel like we are on a journey together. Who knows maybe it'll calm The Cat in the Hat down too.

So we are working on her recognising that Sock frankly reacts in an excessive way on a regular basis, and helping her work on how to cope when he does. Largely with breathing exercises and relaxation (which degenerated into giggles when I told her to relax her bottom).

If your child suffers from anxiety I cannot recommend the advice contained in the article from Hey Sigmund highly enough. She seems to understand what is going on. Which is the start of being able to tackle it. I hope.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Manor Cottages

I got disproportionately excited yesterday when we left the house in the pouring rain, got slightly lost, walked across farmland and ended up at a new heritage initiative on the Manor Lodge site. I mean I'll be honest it's early days. There is a cottage which has been made safe and is being kitted out to look like a 1940s home. They are missing some key things, like a kitchen range and a mattress amongst other things, but you can see what an important place this will be.

I flipping love living history. Ever since watching "How we used to Live" at junior school. There is no museum I like better than one where people are dressed up and making scones.  And this one will be in Sheffield. I already have a real soft spot for Manor Lodge despite it's limited opening hours (down to funding). It's an important place (where Mary Queen of Scots was held captive no less) and every time we go back it's different. The gardens, landscaping and signage are better. The flowers are stunning in the summer. I love Tudor history. It deserves to be visited.

But 20th century history is where my inner child gets excited. Anything involving butter making, ration books, open fires, gramophones or rag rugs makes me very happy.

The even better news it that they have inherited loads of the exhibits from the Heritage Museum on Ecclesall Road - I was wondering where all that went - and are planning to open Victorian shops in a barn on site which will make it even more of an interesting place to visit. Plus there is Rhubarb Shed cafe where had the biggest sausage sandwiches in a world and lovely service.

So they need support. Financial, voluntary (to help fix things up and dress up on event days) and they are also in need of some big pieces of furniture that would really help finish the cottage interior.

Clearly we don't have a Victorian chest of drawers kicking about but someone might and I can't think of a better place to put it if you have found somewhere else to put your socks. Apologies for the terrible photo but I stuffed the paperwork in my pocket due to torrential rain.

In the mean time please go and visit. I'd recommend you check the website for open days for the discovery centre, lodge and cottages before turning up and expect to see a work in progress - but they need our support and it's a great day out. Oh and check if you've got a 3/4 mattress to spare please because the bed looks mighty uncomfortable at the moment.

Thursday, 26 March 2015


Wow that's a heavy title. Here goes.

Parenting comes in stages. Some distinct, some merged together so you don't see the join. In the beginning your baby is tiny. You are frightened. Keeping them alive and everyone's sanity is a full-time job. Topics of discussion are sleep (or lack of), feeding, weaning, tantrums, potty training, development, activities. I found all the first bit pretty tough I must admit. I loved them completely and did everything I could but often found it difficult and always exhausting.

What next? School, friendships, reading, writing, sibling rivalry, homework battles, attitude. Difficult in a different way but with hopefully more sleep.

And during it all, it's always there. Are you doing this right? Should you be doing things differently? Are they eating too much sugar, watching too much TV, playing too many computer games, doing the right activities? You could drive yourself mad.

And then there's that thing on the horizon.

Growing up. Sex.

Always difficult to deal with but in our age more difficult than ever. I learnt last night that 40% of teenage boys watch hardcore porn regularly. That children in year five and six (that's next year, bugger) are sexting. I mean what the hell? That can't be right. It's the modern day equivalent of "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" I guess but with the possibility of the photos heading all over the world with a touch of a button.

It's children playing adult computer games with adult words and content. It's pictures of women semi naked and photoshopped everywhere you turn. Pop singers dressed provocatively and wholly inappropriate videos on MTV.

Surely I can protect my children. They aren't old enough for this. They don't have mobile phones or tablets. They access the internet with supervision and filters. But it's not enough.

Our children might see this stuff on other children's smartphones and computers. They will hear the language we want to protect them from in the playground, on computer games and in other people's homes. And as for sexualised images of women, well they are everywhere. TV, newsagent shelves, billboards.

Sure you can do your best to limit their access to it but mine won't be in my protective bubble much longer. Two years until secondary school. A blink of an eye.

In Sheffield there is a parenting workshop run by Just attending feels like I am doing something about the one thing I don't really want to think about.

It's the opportunity not only to share concerns with other parents but to learn some strategies.

From the session last night it is clear that the parents who went really need this - we couldn't stop talking. And we will carry on talking. Hopefully in the future with a few ideas up our sleeves of how to cope.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015


Today is supposed to be a good productive day. I was over the moon when my boss agreed to let me have one day off a week and condense my hours into the other four. Think what I could do with all that time. Get on top of things. See friends that I have missed terribly. Consider exercising. So many options.

This morning I was much more enthusiastic to get out of bed. I had a day of things planned - the main of which was to start a mindfulness course I'd be referred to from my IAPT counselling. This course, I have been assured, is valuable and you can only go on it when you are well. It's about changing the way you think. It's time to get on top of my mental health and stop these cycles of anxiety happening. "Book me in" I said.

I whizzed around being productive until 930. Then I got in the car and drove to where it told me on the letter. It took me twenty minutes to avoid crashing into students and to find a car parking space and when I did I could only park for 2 hours - the course is exactly that long. With little choice I decided to risk it - if I got a parking ticket I would plead anxiety or something.

I parked with four minutes to spare and ran down the road weaving through power dressed students (never happened in my day)  to get to the building. "Oh that's been cancelled. The lady couldn't do it."

"Did no-one think of letting me know?"

"We only found out at 930".

"It's 10 o'clock. I have a mobile phone. Never mind."

I rang Paul and vented. I then stupidly went into a shop and looked at clothes which wouldn't fit me and I can't afford. I'm now back at home drinking coffee and feeling decidedly grumpy.

I accept that these things happen. I also fully accept that this is a not a major thing and on balance I shouldn't be throwing my toys out of the pram. But I am allowing myself to be cross just for a few minutes until the caffeine sinks in.

This course that is supposed to help me cope with anxiety.

I know what would be a great idea. Run the course on a Wednesday morning so it's a challenge for people to change their working patterns (because we are all better and therefore presumably back at work).

Run it in a building with very little parking in the busiest part of town.

Make sure only one woman runs it so that there is no back up (despite it saying 2 on the form).

And don't bother letting anyone know by text or message when it's cancelled.

That will really help them all learn to look at the world in a different way and cope with anxiety.

Oh no, it really wouldn't.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

No internet

Yesterday the worst thing of all happened. I came home after a busy day at work and for the ten minutes I get between that and picking the kids up I sat down. There was no tv and worst of all no internet.

I could not check my Facebook newsfeed. I could not order the emergency pet food that was required because the fecking shop was being refitted. I could not browse holidays and pretend we aren't in an eternal winter. I couldn't read the BBC news page or check if it was going to snow. I couldn't check my emails for the millionth time to see if I actually got the job interview that they seem to have mislaid my application for.

The mortifying thing was I was actually a bit lost. What did I do with my spare minutes before the internet? I genuinely don't know.

I went and picked the kids up - four of them who all played (relatively) nicely for two hours. I had some time. But there still wasn't any internet. And that's what I do to avoid the washing.

As a result I fed them and actually tidied up the mess afterwards before bedtime. I even made them angel delight. (Well it's more time consuming than my usual yoghurt from fridge removal).

They went back and played some more. I danced around the kitchen (because no-one was watching). I did a very small amount of washing - enough to make me feel I'd achieved something but without breaking my spirit. Then I played piano. For twenty whole minutes. I was pretty terrible but I felt freed in some way. Yes it was the same piece of been trying to play for years and I had mastered when I was 13 but it was something.

I am determined to use those minutes when the kids don't need me for something else. Those snatched ten minutes. Not tidying, or cleaning, or cooking, or browsing the sodding internet. It needs to be things you can do for just a few moments at a time. Limericks. Origami. What on earth did I used to do before the internet?

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Time to Talk

Today has been #timetotalk day, an initiative to get people talking about mental health.

Somewhat ironic then that I had a counselling session at 8.30 this morning and my counsellor didn't show up. Clearly it was not my time to talk to her, or her to me in fact. The first time we met she didn't have any tissues, or in fact a chair for me to sit on. It hasn't been plain sailing.

All in all it's a good thing I'm in a better place right now. I dealt with it by telling the receptionist I "had commitments" and "couldn't wait", rather than launching into a sobbing diatribe about how terrible the morning had been so far, the fact I hadn't even had a cup of tea yet and that my house currently resembles a germ factory. All true (apart from the need to cry, hooray!)

Not a great start but I coped because I'm in a good place at the minute (mentally at least) And when I feel like this it's hard to remember how bad I felt before. But it is important to remember and it's important to talk about mental health. Especially today.

I think that many people who have mental health problems can suffer greatly from the feeling that they have failed in some way. I know I certainly did. In my first session my counsellor said there were an awful lot of "shoulds" in how I felt. I should be able to cope. I should be a better mum. I should have a clean house. I should be able to remember stuff I learned for GCSE. I should be thinner, fitter, more girly, happier, taller. Well maybe not the last one although it would be nice.

That's why I want people to talk about their mental health. I want people to hear that they haven't failed. That they aren't alone. That billions of people go through this. And most importantly that there are people who will be there for them.

Some people don't find talking about this kind of thing easy. I do (when I'm well anyway), but lots of people don't. And you know what, that's ok. You don't have to find out the details. But if you do nothing else just send a text. You know that person you have an inkling about? Ask them how they are feeling. Send an email. Give them a quick squeeze in the playground. Buy them a little something. Go round with a packet of fig rolls. It doesn't really matter, just make a small connection. Chances are even if they don't respond joyfully on the outside it has meant the world to them in a time when every day feels tough.

Thank you.

Monday, 26 January 2015


Seriously, what is it with people and litter? I just followed a mum out of the school grounds and watched her throw a snotty tissue into a bush. Without a doubt it was on purpose. Her pockets needed to be tidier than the environment her child learns in. Totally bizarre.

I got carried away and picked up the tissue, ran after her and gave it back saying "I think you dropped something". She looked at me like I was mental. I said "you can't just throw rubbish in the bush, there's a bin over there". She didn't apologise, didn't defend herself and totally ignored me.

Maybe she thought the caretaker would have picked it up. More likely she didn't care in the slightest. And now she thinks I am a lunatic mum to be avoided.

Not a great start to today.

Sunday, 25 January 2015


I genuinely didn't know what I was going to see on Saturday night. But I'm all for new experiences and frankly always keen for a night out.

The venue for the preview of Birdy was a little unexpected. A pretty bare (and on the way in extremely cold) space with ropes, silks and a trapeze hanging from the ceiling and basic chair seating.  We sat on the front row and were told before it began that things might happen towards us. We'd be fine if we just leant back. Normal theatre performances don't have that kind of excitement more's the pity. I just hoped I had the wherewithall to respond quick enough. No-one wanted to see a 39 year old fall of a bench at a pivotal moment.

I haven't read the book by William Wharton or seen the film. But even so after last night I can definitely say I get it. In 75 minutes the cast presented and engaged us in a story of war, friendship, madness and escapism. And it was done with tenderness, humour and breathtaking aerial performance. Yep, it's safe to say I was impressed.

Of course the idea of a man who wants to be a canary lends itself quite well to aerial performance. But doing it in a way that moves the audience is something to be seen. Birdy's actual flight is that of a broken desperate man. I would never have expected to be so moved.

The whole cast and directors are to be commended. It is clearly a huge challenge to present something important in this way. Melding together dialogue, emotion, humour, music and stunning aerial performance is quite some feat.

I wish someone had been there to take photographs of the audience. I know my face must have moved through quite some emotions during the show, including genuine awe. And slight terror when I, fortunately, did manage to lean back on time.

I wish Osborne and What and all the amazing cast of Birdy the best in their tour around the UK. They deserve huge eclectic audiences who are keen to see something different and powerful. Go see it, and let me know what you think.