The launch of When I Met You

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put into words how grateful I am to every single person who ventured out on Thursday night to Waterstones in Richmond to help me celebrate the launch of my fourth book ‘When I Met You.’ But given that I’m a writer, perhaps I should at least have … Read more

Why holidaying with children can make you need a holiday.

Writer, comedienne and generally funny lady Emma Kennedy wrote a piece for The Guardian this weekend about how happy she is not to have children, particularly when it comes to going on holiday. The article is hilarious, although after reading it part of me wanted to lie on the floor and weep.

You see, what Emma has said out loud is that taking children on holiday is hard work which sort of negates the whole point of having one.

‘Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the results are in. Taking children on holiday is like some sort of ghastly self-inflicted punishment. Why are you doing it to yourselves? You work hard all year round. Don’t you deserve a bit of peace and quiet? Don’t you deserve some fun? Children can’t even help with the driving. What is the point of them? Going on holiday without children is brilliant. There. I’ve said it’

She certainly has and… shit, she might be right.

As far as I can remember, pre children, booking a holiday basically consisted of deciding which country I fancied lying down in. After that I’d consider the best time of year to go. If going to Europe, June and September always seemed like the most beautiful months. If, on the other hand, I was desperate for a bit of winter sun, then the Caribbean in March was an option or South Africa in February. Whatever we decided upon though, we would always avoid the school holidays knowing it would be A/nine thousand pounds cheaper during term time and B/ that we wouldn’t be surrounded by screaming brats and their weary parents. Bliss.

This system inverts the minute you’re a parent and goes something like this…

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My Mother in Law…..

There are many brilliant moments in the movie ‘Meet the Parents’ but my favourite happens on the first morning of hapless Gaylord Focker’s stay with his prospective in – laws. Exhausted from his stressful journey the day before, he awakens after a long lie-in only to discover that his girlfriend has already got up and left the bedroom.

When he finally appears downstairs, still groggy, dishevelled and incongruous in a pair of his father in law’s pyjamas (the airline lost his luggage), it’s painfully clear that the entire family have been up for hours. Furthermore, they have washed, dressed and breakfasted. Their day is in full swing.

In the cinema, I roared with laughter. I could completely relate to Gaylord’s mortification, because the EXACT same thing happened to me the first time my husband (then boyfriend), took me to Leicestershire to meet his folks.

It may have been almost fourteen years ago but I can still vividly remember waking up after an unbelievably refreshing, gloriously deep night’s sleep in what is one of the most comfortable beds known to man. For a second I stretched out, drinking in the peace and quiet of the countryside. The only sound the soothing one of a wood pigeon cooing…….

And then I remembered where I was, at which point, calm was replaced by a huge shot of adrenaline. Panicked, I sat bolt upright, desperate to locate a clock so I could work out the extent of my lounging crimes.

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How to be a Woman

This week I read Caitlin Moran’s book ‘How to be a Woman’ and experienced what can only be described as an epiphany. Without being overly dramatic, reading it provided me with a monumental feeling of relief, akin to the one you get when you’ve sat in a steam room too long then finally emerge back into oxygen laden air and can BREATHE again. Let me tell you why.

The book is about Caitlin Moran’s life and her views on what it is to be a woman, the main message being that we all need to reclaim the word ‘feminist’. For too long it’s meaning has been muddied with negativity and as a result has become associated with women who are anti men, who don’t laugh much, tackle only serious political issues and wear bad clothes. What Moran is saying is that we have to remember that all being a feminist really means is that women should be equal to men, and that’s it. Interestingly she also makes it very clear that some of the most strident feminists she knows are men; in particular her husband who taught her the very definition of what feminism should be ‘Everyone being polite to each other.

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Chicken Lies (not porky pies)

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. And yes I know, these days everybody goes on about how busy they are, as if being stressed is some kind of status symbol, but I promise you I don’t relish being so full on. Personally I loved April and May, what with all those bank holidays and bonus days off. The work/life balance was right whereas at the moment it’s way off kilter. I’ve got a new job presenting on a shopping channel which launches next week so have been rehearsing and training for that, my new book comes out in a month, I’m finishing my third novel, the children’s calendars are stuffed to the brim and my husband is about to go away on business for a week. All of which you need to know in order for the following story to make any sense at all.

The day before yesterday I phoned my best friend on the way to work and ranted, in a way you only can to someone you’ve known for two decades.

‘And today’s going to be such a long day,’ I wailed ‘And I haven’t really slept because I’ve got insomnia because I’m so stressed, and hubby’s away next week when I’ve got to work every day until midnight so I need to sort out 900 hours of childcare, and the kids will be needy and sad so I feel GUILTY, and I’m not working tomorrow but have millions of bits and pieces to do but also have people coming for dinner and no idea what to cook….’

At this point her answer machine cut me off, terminating my stream of angst. To be fair I didn’t blame it.

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A floater

I took the kids for their first swimming lesson of the term yesterday. I have a ‘no swimming lessons during the winter’ policy because frankly life’s too short to be heaving tights up small damp legs when it’s cold. Still, spring has sprung so the time to make the mad dash from school to Richmond Baths once a week, weighed down by changes of clothes, towels and enough snacks to feed a pack of Scouts, like a stressed pack horse, has come again. Children have to be able to swim, a mantra which I repeat through gritted teeth while trying to find enough loose change to feed into the exorbitant meters every week.

Anyway, of my two children, so far  it’s seeming like Lily might be the one with the sport gene. She loves all sports, has never been scared of getting amongst the boys when playing football and thrives on a bit of competition. Her lesson was first and went without a hitch. After we left Freddie poolside while we went to get her showered and changed. When I say we left him poolside I do mean with a teacher obviously and with about eight floats on each arm, wearing goggles and generally looking like, give or take a bit of lard, he was ready for a channel crossing at the very least.

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