Hope for Harry ❤️🙏


Forgive me, but I’m a bit distracted at the moment…well, actually a lot. Partner’s cousin, Harry, has gone missing in Peru. He went for a trek alone in the mountains nearly 2 weeks ago and hasn’t yet returned. I don’t know what to do. I feel so helpless and out of control and so I thought that writing about it might help. I thought that if I tell you all what an amazing person he is, it will be a positive use of the time spent waiting. Waiting is awful. The only good thing that comes from waiting is that it gives you perspective, as you have the time to think about what really matters to you, but most importantly – what doesn’t. You have no head space to let things wind you up and so you let them go. Some of the things I have let go of the past few days, I never want back, even when Harry returns.


I’ve known Harry for 6 years and he and his family have made a huge impact on my life. None of them will know this, because of course, we don’t talk about such positive things, until shit happens. Of course we don’t tell people how inspirational we find them. How we think that they are simply one of a kind and that they hold values that I would like to hold, but don’t. How often do we tell each other these things? We tell partners and children that we love them, but have you told your best friend how impressed you are with her for the way she handles her life, or your brother or your neighbour or the cashier who you see regularly at the supermarket how friendly and positive she is…do you tell her? Sometimes, but quite often, do you not think that we go through life thinking these positive things about one another, but only really expressing them when they have gone away.


I am hoping with every aching bone in my body that Harry is just lost. That he is wandering like a nomad and that any second now, he will wander back to his group of friends in Pisac, as the helicopter looks down on him, his family who have flown out hug and berate him and the thousands of people who are on line, awaiting his return breathe a huge sigh of relief. I hope that before I post this, he is back. The world is a better place with Harry in it. I have read this many times in Facebook comments over the past few days.


I know that many of you reading this do not know who this Harry is, so please let me indulge in telling you a bit about him, because he really is unique. To quote from, ‘The Search for Harry’ Facebook page: Harry is one of the most loveliest men you could ever wish to meet and be friends with. He is an extremely genuine and caring person who acts from his heart and with pure integrity. He cares for people and he cares for our earth. Harry is a very-skilled furniture maker and promotes to transform the world by embracing permaculture and writing life-inspiring poems. He has been sharing his gifts and skills generously and he is dearly loved and respected in his vast community and network of friends and family.


I cannot even begin to contemplate the enormity of the search in the 20 square miles of high altitude mountainous lake terrain. My thoughts are with his parents Sarah and Simon, his sister Ellen, all his family and those amazing people who are involved in the search.

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chilliest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.”
Emily Dickinson, The Complete Poems

I’m hoping, Harry, that, as one of your friends put on Facebook, you are being fattened up by a Peruvian lady of the mountains and when you leave, you will find your way home.


Dogs and Bluebells


The biggest item trending on the local mum’s Facebook network this week was: where is the best place to photograph my child in bluebell woods? It sounded as if it was one of those events that must happen each year, like Christmas or a birthday. I love a bluebell wood, but on the day we had available to visit it, we had no children to photograph. I contemplated borrowing a cute baby from someone, to sit in a basket in a dappled wood, but chose to take the dogs instead.

... Photographer Surrey} <b>bluebell</b> portraits <b>baby</b> caterpillar <b>woods</b> spring

Partner plonked dog 2 on top of a good looking tree stump, surrounded by beautiful bluebells, with the sun streaming through branches. I was poised to take the photo. The problem was, the tree stump was hollow and dog 2 fell down the hole. That was the first photo opportunity missed. After that it was a series of exhausting attempts to get the dogs to look at the camera. The woods were packed with other photo opportunists, but all you could hear was partner and I squeaking the dogs’ names in fake excited voices and gesticulating madly, as they just pissed on the bluebells. We decided to give up and walk to the pub. We can get a cup of ‘gin and tonic’ I interrupted partner’s thought.

We’ve been to this pub many times before – last week and the week before that actually –  it’s dog and kid friendly, but I have never previously noticed just how unfriendly it is to men. In the ladies’ toilet the walls and toilet doors are adorned with misandrist statements. I wondered whether the men’s loo is similarly full of misogynistic crap, masquerading under the guise of humour.


On the back of the loo door in pub – harsh

We left the pub and went on our merry way. I told partner about the man hating toilet and fuelled by our pit stop, we started trying to remember all the: Men are like…jokes we could muster. Here are some that came to mind as we walked back through those beautiful bluebells, add your favourites!

Men are like…

… Coffee.

The best ones are rich, warm, and can keep you up all night long.

… Commercials.

You can’t believe a word they say.

… Computers.

Hard to figure out and never have enough memory.

… Coolers.

Load them with beer and you can take them anywhere.

… Government Bonds.

They take way too long to mature.

… Mascara.

They usually run at the first sign of emotion.


One man and his dogs, in a bluebell wood – he moaned that I cut off his head, ‘that wouldn’t have happened if I was a cute baby!'(Dog 1 is licking his lips – I think he ate the cute baby!)

No Drama!

Partner and I suddenly found ourselves with a day…a whole cheeky day when we could sneak out somewhere. We chose Brighton…in the pissing rain! We nearly got thwarted by the price of a train ticket – how much?!! Partner spat out his tea. Well, let’s make the most of it and go to Brighton and get pissed, just like people do when they sneak out and do something. He wasn’t convinced, as he knew that by ‘pissed’ I meant a pint at lunchtime, but the lure of the seaside cracked even the hardest of nuts.

We arrived in time for an injection of coffee and I found us a cute looking cafe, out of the rain (that just happened to only have young men serving). It’s a bit gloomy in here, partner said. Well, I replied, smiling at a man in a pinny, it’s what you make of it.

Coffee fuelled, we were ready to shop. When I’m trying to sell a day out to partner, I refer to shopping as, ‘mooching’ and he seems to accept that (sucker!) What I actually mean is hitting the shops like a whirling dervish, who spends most of her life in a dobok (Taekwon-do outfit) and who lives in a town where her most exciting shop is Waitrose – there’s no stopping me. Shop number 1 – I find an item I wish to purchase, at the huge cost of £6.99 (sarcasm). I’ll google that, partner says. I bet it’s cheaper online. I didn’t know whether to humour him or to hit him – so I just took the piss out of him, hoping he would see the error of his comment. I found another item and yet again he mentioned Google. Ok, I said. This is serious. Either you ditch your google fantasy or I ditch you as my mooching partner. This isn’t what I call mooching, he wailed!

We move onto another shop. I overhear the shop assistant closing her sale: shopper as she receives her bagged item, “thanks very much”. Shop assistant’s reply, “no drama”. (She was a Kiwi. I love Kiwis). That is how you need to approach our shopping trips, I say to partner: no drama!


Listen up ladies…the cuckoo has spoken!



A photo taken on our dog walk, the morning of the 12th April. The morning that we heard the first cuckoo of spring.

I’d never given cuckoos a second thought, until two days ago and there it was, clear as a bell and beautiful as a song (not Bieber or such like, more Beethoven). Listen! Partner said. I thought he was just bored with my conversation – the (almost) 7 year itch and all that. That’s a cuckoo! And so it was. We thought it was significant – something about the official start of Spring. I got home and googled it.

Apparently, on hearing the first cuckoo in spring it is traditional to pen a letter to The Times, so I’m penning a blog to you instead. Perhaps I should have written a letter to the Times as well – it’s on my bucket list to get one published (saddo). According to peeps in the know, hearing the first cuckoo of spring has long been cause for celebration, although ironically the call states the descending minor third, musically always seen as fairly ‘sad’.

I have to say, that sad is how I felt when I got home and decided that it was time to expose my garden, dogs and nosey neighbours, to my legs. Why, ‘sad’, I’m hearing you cry…Sad that the sun is shining? Or sad that the body is still in ‘winter body’ state and has not yet made the transition to ‘summer body’? (This is not being helped by daughters, who keep breaking the rules and baking treats – haven’t they heard the cuckoo sing: cuck-oo, cuck-oo, no cakes, for you?) No! None of the above. Sad, because when I rolled my trousers up there was a bloody forest where my lower limbs should be! Sad, because I now have to embrace the cuckoo – you can’t stick your head in the sand and ignore the signs – I heard it with my own ears: cuck-oo, cuck-oo, more work, for you!

Yes, my friends, listen up! The cuckoo has spoken. Razors at the ready, slap on the fake tan, find the exercise bike from under the clothes: Summer is officially on it’s way!


It’s definitely NOT pmt!

Ladies, do you join me in the following thought: doesn’t it irritate the hell out of you when you’re in a mood, for whatever reason and your partner says tentatively: “pmt?” Pmt? P m f***ing t, (I am in the mother of all moods now). No, it isn’t pm bloody t. I’m in an effing mood because I woke up to Metallica instead of Nora Jones because your phone is shite, the kids are fighting over bloomin’ tights, I have to make 3 different bloody salads to accommodate sodding diets and fads that have shoe horned their way into this house, because the dogs are chasing fat cat and because any second now you are going to piss me off by trying to fix it all. It is NOT pmt!!

When men are in a mood, we don’t jump to the conclusion that their hormones are rising and colliding and playing bumper cars with their sanity, we just presume that something has pissed them off. So that is my gripe: I just want to be able to be in a mood, without it being presumed that it’s attached to my monthly cycle, because I find this somehow patronising. Trust me, things can piss me off any fecking day of the month. Like this morning when I arrived downstairs to make the salads. Daughter 2 is already in the kitchen stomping about with a knife. She is dangerous with a knife at the best of times. She will turn in any sudden direction, forgetting the implement that she is wielding and on several occasions has almost impaled it into someone. We have a small kitchen with a lot of traffic and she needs space – it’s a lethal combination. So this morning she is in a mood with a knife. I remembered that the mood may have carried over from the night before, but unless we move into my des res, I am unable to give her the wide berth that is required. So we are stuck in the kitchen together. A series of curt exchanges regarding a lack of cucumber and the fact I need the chopping board she is using, ensue. There is under breath muttering that I should ignore, but don’t and eyeballs to the ceiling, which are also not ignored. It’s a tense 5 minutes of a battle of the moods. There’s only ever one winner in these battles and on this occasion it was daughter 4, who today took away the gold medal in replacing ‘daughter who mum is in a mood with’, with ‘perfect, pleasant and uncharacteristically helpful daughter’, who can’t do enough for her mummy.

Honey I fucked up our kids… and how not to

I shared this article the other day:


It basically tells us how we are fucking up our kids, without meaning to. Parenting is a bloody mine field and I think we can safely say that we all feel like failures at it, a lot of the time. Just when we feel that things are chugging along pretty well, a teenage hormone or a toddler tantrum will throw us a curve ball and leave us thinking wtf happened?

Here is a quick summary of the 6 points it raises, for those of you who are too busy dealing with every day shit to read the article:

What we do wrong: number 1:
When our kids are upset by something, we get upset, which makes them even more upset.
What we should be doing:
Never showing that their problem is worrying us: listen, support and advise. Hold on to that bottom lip when the hamster dies.

What we do wrong number 2:
We get involved in their problems and try to solve them on their behalf
What we should be doing:
Not resolving their issues behind their back and finding a solution they can put into place without us needing to get involved. Hang fire on shooting off the e mail to the french teacher, telling her that her teaching is a pile of ‘merde’.

What we are doing wrong number 3:
Trying to help with things our kids are bad at, thus focusing on their negatives
What we should be doing:
Focusing on the things they are good at to develop their confidence, which may then have an impact on their weak areas. Resist the tutor, resist, resist!

What we are doing wrong number 4:
Creating high expectations that turn into pressures
What we should be doing:
Not making their achievements a reason to constantly expect more and more from them, so that what they enjoy becomes too pressurised. ‘You did a forward roll, sweetheart, let’s get you on those high bars. No, darling, don’t look down!’

What we are doing wrong number 5:
Having values that are too high.
What we should be doing:
Letting our kids know that we have these values, but we still understand that they will fuck up, just like we did at their age. Snakebite and blacks, that’s all I’m saying…

What we are doing wrong number 6:
Hiding our own worries from our children
What we should be doing:
Being honest about shit that’s happening, so that they learn from us strategies for dealing with it.

Kids’ mental health is being talked about all the time at the moment. Being mum to four girls, a step daughter and a step son feels like such a huge responsibility. None of us want to get it wrong, but I am often left feeling whether I really am getting it right. I watch them all growing and achieving and I have to tell myself to look at the bigger picture, rather than focus on the minutiae – which, let’s face it, from one minute to another can be pretty hard to deal with.


PInterest Stress Syndrome (PISS)

Looking back to when my kids were little, things were very different to how they are for mums today. Bear with me…this isn’t a, ‘back in the day’ reminisce – I’m not that old! It’s an observation of how much the internet has changed the way parents parent.

When my kids were born we had Gina Ford and her, ‘Little Contented Baby Book’, which was easily hidden under a pile of muslin squares and nappies and most importantly, lost. Without it, we only had our instinct to rely on and other mums’ experiences at the local toddler group, as well as well-meaning relations (who, to be honest, were pretty easy to ignore). Most of it was very real and solid advice and we all managed to muddle though. The kids of this generation are now doing GCSE’s, A Levels and degrees and are going great guns. Then came: Google and the already fragile and exhausted brains of parents were suddenly overloaded with a tsunami of information at the tap of a few buttons. I’m bad enough at using Google for a photo of a rash or a description of an illness, that deep down I already know is only a virus. If I’d had Google at my fingertips for advice on giving birth, breastfeeding and weaning, my brain would have been unable to cope; I would have felt like the worst mother on the planet and would have ended up in some kind of mental institution. The internet is undermining everything that we already know as parents – it’s undermining that most precious gift of all: instinct.

Fast forward to when the little bundle is able to sit up and play with toys – a joyous milestone! Finally, you are able to go and get things done while your cherub sits on the floor surrounded by the mountain of toys you have scattered around her, in the hope of getting some peace. Catch the moment before she can crawl! It was win win – you got five minutes to stop the house looking like a war zone and sprog learnt about independent play. Happy days… but not any more. Nowadays, parents are made to feel guilty for not spending every bloody second on the floor interacting with their little darling, because some twat in Ohio on the parenting forum has mentioned that recent studies show bla bla bollocks…

Next you get to the verbals and that precious time when they start to chat and to express what they want to do. If you listen really carefully, you will hear them telling you that a couple of lumps of playdough or a Mr Potato Head will do them just fine. But no, some uptight mama in Putney, who used to be a Hedge Fund Manager, details a daily craft option on Pinterest. If Pinterest had been around when my girls were small, I would have stuck a post-it with the word ‘failure’ on my forehead, before anyone else had a chance to say it. I am crap at crafts. My idea of doing a craft activity with my kids was making a paper doily and I thought I was a legend! I am of the Blue Peter and stickyback plastic generation and we really know how to use a loo roll. Then along comes Pinterest and it ups the ante with sequins and cotton and special glue that I’ve never even heard of before and suddenly, guess what…parents everywhere find their wine consumption rising disproportionately to Government guidelines, but it’s the only thing that will keep them from drowning in PInterest Stress Syndrome: PISS.

Finally, there’s the children’s party. Now mummies today, I know that you will think I am lying when I say that not 10 years ago, parents everywhere were sticking 20 kids in their sitting room with a creepy, ‘what’s a CRB check?’ clown and handing out a container of bubbles at the end to the sugar-pumped darlings. Nowadays, you cannot get away without inviting the entire class – even the kids your kid hates, finding a theme in July that hasn’t been done by all the little sods whose birthdays are before Christmas and showering them with more gifts as they leave, than they arrived with. One party for a 6 year old I heard of recently, said on the invite that it will end: when the last child is asleep?? You what?!!! Ok, I’ll see you at midnight, cheers! Mums now are putting more thought into their child’s 5th birthday cake, than they gave to their wedding cake. It’s going to get spat over by 36 sugar-junked up rugrats – IT DOESN’T MATTER!!! Just buy a couple of cupcakes from Waitrose, take a close up and stick it on Instagram saying: look what I made for Tinkerbell’s birthday…NO-ONE WILL KNOW!!

As long as a kid has water, a watering can, sand, paint (when you’re feeling brave) and paper, they are happy as pigs in shit and you can sit and feel smug that nobody’s life is perfect, but this is pretty goddamn close, because sane parents=happy kids. My advice for staying sane and not drowning in internet madness: look a little, cheat a little, follow your gut, because it knows best.

Swimming Hell


Number 1 friend just came round. She looked rather dishevelled. I didn’t say anything, but I was thinking: crikey, camp really took it out of you, love! The kids wanted me to go swimming with them, she said. Of all the days, when I’m on my knees after camp, they ask today. Aha, I thought to myself. That explains why you look a bit ropey and my second thought was: oh god, no. Anything but swimming! Soft play (when they were younger), the park, even Diggerland but please don’t ask me to get in a bloody swimming pool!

Firstly there’s the faff of getting the gear together. It’s at this point the goggle black hole resurfaces. I see goggles when I’m tidying the girls’ rooms. I find them in bathroom cupboards and in the pockets of the car, but when you are about to go swimming there are no flipping goggles to be found, anywhere.

Next, there is the costume…all mine are chlorine damaged aka slightly see through, but I forget this until I am about to go swimming.

Then there is the hair: leg, underarm and pubic. Way too much to deal with when the kids are all waiting downstairs, ready to go swimming. So you scrape a razor around like a madman on a mower, hoping that will do. The reality of this botch job is a rash and some bleeding cuts here and there.

You get to the pool and pay…how much!!! Seriously: to have to share changing rooms with kids (and potentially men) looking under the door, to share showers, with hair clogging up the plug holes and the worst bit: TO SWIM!!!

I looked at number 1 friend, make up less and without her usual blow dry – still beautiful but with that, ‘I’ve just been swimming’ look about her and I reminded myself to just keep saying, ‘no’.

We Can’t Win

A local stylist, Susie Hasler, has written an open letter to the Daily Mail, stating her disgust at the passive aggressive way it uses headlines to put women down and the lasting effects their reporting may be having on women in general, but most worryingly, on girls. It’s insightful and to the point and says it all in a nutshell really:


Don’t get me started on the Daily Mail. All papers feed us bollocks, but the Daily Mail incites us with bollocks. It goads us with its headlines to think the worst of literally everyone and everything. I could go on with my hate of the drivel it produces, but I think you get the gist of my thoughts and you will have your own.
So back to Susie’s letter. One of her surmising thoughts is: basically, we can’t win. This does appear to be about right. Mixed messages abound. Girls grow up, for example, knowing they have a set of assets that get them attention. They want attention and so, understandably they show them off. As parents we tell them to show a little modesty – we know where misplaced attention can lead. But what message are we giving them about their bodies? Their bodies, their choice how they dress? When does appropriate become inappropriate? It’s a mine field for them and it’s a mine field for parents. With the huge impact of social media, girls are constantly faced with what is portrayed as: their competition, because it is all about getting ‘likes’. It has become the competition with no winners. Remember: we can’t win.
French air hostesses have been told that on flights to Tehran they must wear trousers to respect the rules of the country they are flying to. Rules, including the one which states that women must cover their heads, that anyone who believes in an ounce of freedom of expression, thinks are complete and utter bollocks. It really irks me that woman in certain countries are made to cover themselves up or face prosecution and worse. Why should western civilisation fuel this shit by pandering to it? Surely, women everywhere should be allowed to wear what the hell they like…as long as its not too dowdy or frumpy, or revealing or just not right in someone’s opinion. Confused? Me too. The truth is: we all judge. We are human, we judge.
So what do we tell our daughters about what to wear? What do we say to the mum who has just given birth and who feels fat and crap? What do we tell the girl who is desperate to be ‘liked’ and the celebrity who is adding to that girl’s insecurities?
I tell my daughters that they are beautiful people, just like the mum with that stubborn jelly belly and the girl in the selfie and the celebrity. I teach them the importance or self-worth and I do everything I can to ensure that they have high self-esteem and confidence – with confidence comes personality. Confidence and personality cut through a whole lot of crap and make you a lot less vulnerable to being bothered by how people are judging you. I try to lead by example. There is little more I can say or do, because the goddamn reality is that, basically, we can’t win.

Body Buttock Butter

As I was applying body butter to my arse this morning – a daily ritual…I don’t know whether it’s the road to the elixir of beauty or just pure entertainment for partner, but it is part of my get up and go routine and I’m hoping that’s what the cellulite is thinking it may as well do, because this woman isn’t showing any signs of a let up. Anyway, I just had a thought about Kim Kardashian. (Before I started blogging in January, Kim was hardly on my radar. I was simply aware of her existence in a world that I didn’t want to know about. Now she seems to be a regular feature Shit. What’s happening to me…?) So, my thought was twofold: firstly, it would take her ages to body butter her arse and secondly, the cost! Or, if her arse is fake, and I don’t know the facts, does it need its own beauty routine? Maybe it’s made out of play dough or plasticine and just has to be moulded and smoothed into shape by her children and their friends on a rainy play date. That would explain how she managed to balance that champagne glass on it: OK kids, listen up! You’re making my backside into a shelf today. Hello magazine are arriving in 20 minutes – get to it!

FullSizeRenderAh Kim, I feel I’m getting to know you better now. You are my bridge to another world. A world that is so full of sycophantic bollocks, it will provide me with blogging material forever. I shall go and find you on Twitter.