Ooh Tom…

I’m going to share with you a text conversation number one friend and I had the other day:

U watching men’s diving?

Yes I am !!!! Those stomach muscles …..

U wanna jump in that hot tub with them!!

Ooh Tom …

Just completely jokey, harmless banter between two best mates.

Then I saw a video on Facebook about how sexist coverage of the Olympics has been. The video opens with a voice telling us that: Olympic sportscasters comment on women’s appearance twice as often as men’s…


It goes on to say that female athletes everywhere are used to being judged for their looks…

ok…guilty again…I may have mentioned once or twice in the past, while watching a football match, that David Beckham has a good bod…oh, and when partner was trying to get me into cricket I may have said that cricketers seem to have quite nice bums…

According to the video, women are, ‘much likelier to be described as emotional, while men are described as courageous and strong.’

So, I am in a dilemma here…

Because the female coach, Taekwon-do instructor and mother to 5 girls in me wants to agree whole-hardheartedly with this video. In fact, I want to scream at the Olympic media and ask them how the hell they are able to justify this inequality? Here is yet another example of women being treated as objects…


Then I point out to myself that I am indeed guilty of all of the above with male athletes. In fact, if women are honest I think that they would agree that they too may have objectified one or two sportsmen in their lives.

It all started for me with Linford Christie’s lunchbox. According to Wikipedia: He is the only British man to have won gold medals in the 100 metres at all four major competitions open to British athletes: the Olympic Games, the World Championships, the European Championships and the Commonwealth Games. He was the first European to break the 10-second barrier in the 100 m and still holds the British record in the event. He is a former world indoor record holder over 200 metres, and a former European record holder in the 60 metres, 100 m and 4 × 100 metres relay. With 24 major championship medals including 10 gold medals, he is the most decorated British male athlete.


So, if we are agreed on this, perhaps what we are saying is that if you are responsible for reporting on sports, you have to maintain absolute professionalism at all times and never allude to anything that could be interpreted as sexist. I would certainly say that this should be the case.

Then, when I am sitting on my sofa at home watching the diving, I will turn into an absolute hypocrite and merrily say that Tom Daley has a cute arse and those teeny weeny speedos do it fabulous justice. I’m pretty sure that it’s that hot tub they all jump athletically into, that sets me off. Oh, and don’t get me started on the post-dive shower.

If partner and I are then watching the women’s beach volleyball and he texts his bestie commenting on how their bikinis show off their assets beautifully, I will also hypocritically be annoyed. “These women have trained for four fucking years to be there and all you can talk about is their tits!”

Writing this post has been hugely cathartic. What I have learnt is that women are huge hypocrites. As one of the people who commented on the video post pointed out: ‘women are the most guilty of this anyway. You have entire magazines where women point out flaws in other women’s appearance. Everything sports games, male or female, that I have watched with women turns into them commenting on the looks of the players. I’ve never heard a guy watch a movie and be like “oh yeah Seth Rogan is funny but he really needs to work out” but I can’t count how many times I’ve watched a movie with a girl and they start tearing into the lead girl because they don’t like the way they look.’

Are you guilty of this?

He goes on to say that we should get a thicker skin because the world is judging you all the time – get used to it! ‘This is why so many people shun modern feminism. Because you could be fighting serious injustice like FGM or women in countries that still aren’t allowed to vote or have any access to tampons or sanitary towels. But no, you pin your flag to stupid shit…’

Do you think this guy has a point?

I’ll leave you with a few more of his thoughts, because I think they are pretty interesting:

‘Women see it more when it happens to them than they do when it happens to men…Arguably one of the best English soccer players, Wayne Rooney, was constantly ridiculed for being ugly. Men like Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt are held up as “heart throbs” even in movies that suck…It’s just an unfortunate fact of life that we as humans judge each other all the time on looks, intelligence, everything. We are socially evolved to scruitinise each other…’

I do think that he has a point…But I’m really annoyed about it!




The Streak of Shame

People are always stopping and admiring our dogs – mainly because they are big, white and fluffy. Everyone who stops for a chat tends to say the same thing: must be a nightmare in the mud. Bet they don’t stay white for long…


Actually though, what I’ve come to realise, is that the main problem with them being white isn’t the mud – it’s that it shows up the piss when one pees on the others’ head. Men of a certain age may suffer the dot of shame after a wee. Our dogs suffer the streak of shame on their head. It’s when an admirer’s hand comes in for a rub of their furry top knot – it’s always too late to say: noooo!! Similarly, when they’ve just rolled in fox poo. You try to give people the heads up, but sometimes they’re just too quick and before you know it, they’re in there with their hand, sometimes hands, giving a good old rub. Then they’re off into Waitrose, to rifle through the loose mushrooms and pick out the best peaches.

On our walk this morning the dogs ran off across the rec. “Come on boys!” I shouted – my usual cry. “We’re going as fast as we can!” came a reply from my right. I turned to see a group of about 8 elderly gentlemen with rucksacks and walking boots on, smiling at me with cheeky grins. 

On yesterday’s walk my flip flop, that had been well super glued together since dog 2 chewed it a while back, broke. A fellow dog walker questioned my walking bare footed amongst thistles, stinging nettles and dog shit. “You need a pair of Crocs!” she said cheerily. “There is no way on god’s earth that I would EVER be seen dead in a pair of those bloody ugly excuses for footwear!” I replied. As we walked away I noticed that she was wearing a pair of purple ones. Oh crap, I thought to myself. Something bad is going to happen to me.

Not long after this encounter I trod in a small pile of fresh turd. Croc karma, I guess.

Shared Control

I have suddenly realised why teenagers are so goddamn difficult. It’s because they are half way between being under our control and us relinquishing all control. It’s not always their fault that they are such bloody hard work sometimes, and it’s not our fault as parents either. For example: they can’t drive until they are almost adults. This means that they may be proactive in getting a job and thus allowing us to relinquish some monetary control, but then they can’t very easily get there so we still have to have some control. This causes stress, because the part that is in their control contains information that is useful to the person who is in control of getting them there, but being teenagers they only really think about themselves. The result is that as a parent you are expected to suddenly be available to assist in their independence, without having full control of the facts. 

This is just one example of hundreds. Sometimes I just want to scream at them: you take full control of your lives then! You organise everything – I don’t have the head space for these snippets of your life that you are expecting and/or needing me to dip in and out of. Then I remember that I am their parent and they are still a child. 

I’ve always drawn comparisons between toddlers and teenagers and I think that one of the only real differences between them is this issue of control. As a parent you have total control over a toddler. They’ll push against the boundaries you are setting, but ultimately you control their whole world. As a parent of a teenager you are gradually releasing your control in order to prepare them for the world outside, however the control you are giving over to them is still not entirely theirs, but it is also no longer yours. This blurring of the boundaries of control causes a great deal of the stress involved with bringing up our teens. 

In the Saturday Times mag last week, Caitlin Moran talked about being, ‘childless’ now that her youngest daughter has turned 13, “My child-rearing is done. I miss being a mother.” My youngest daughter turns 13 next March and yet in my mind I feel that I am a heck of a long way off giving up my title of, ‘mother’. Caitlin Moran does qualify her point by saying that ‘obviously the grander task of parenting is not over’. What her column is really getting at is that the period of full parental control is over for her. That time when she, ‘thought we’d spend a lot more time in museums and libraries. I thought we’d spend half our lives in there, on rainy days, but we went twice? Three times? ..I thought we’d spend a lot more time on the beach. I thought we’d make thousands of sandcastles. We made six. I thought we’d sit round the table more, and play Ludo, and walk the South Downs Way on a sunny day…we just never did.’

 You see, the time to do all these things is while you are in total control of your children. You think you will. You say you will. Then all of a sudden your youngest child is a teenager and as Caitlin Moran says, all you have is, ‘those childhood memories’.

Taking Control

When partner went to pop a black sack into the wheelie bit this morning, he noticed a couple of bags of rubbish in there, chucked on the top. As rubbish in the wheelie bin needs to be in a black sack, he was a little confused as to why it was there. After asking the girls, it transpired that when their dad dropped them back to ours after their week’s holiday with him, he emptied all the rubbish out of his car and asked the youngest to put it all in our bin. He knew we were at work so we wouldn’t interrupt his plan and he presumably specifically asked the youngest because the older two would have questioned why he couldn’t just throw his rubbish away in his own bin. 

We could have been really angry by this incident. It did grate. He often grates and I have, in the past struggled to let things he has done go. I’ve let them get to me, eat away at me and affect my relationship with the girls. 

Now, however, I am getting better. I’m still work in progress but I am improving in the way I deal with the things that he does in an attempt to get under my skin. 

I have made a decision that I will no longer be controlled by him. 

By letting the things that he does upset me, I am allowing him to control my emotions. So I now try to take a deep breath and ignore. I love this video. It is looking at how to deal with a person’s envy and insults and its ultimate message is: if you refuse to accept them, they belong to the one who offered them.


On this occasion with the rubbish, I turned the situation around. I asked my daughter how she felt when her dad asked her to throw his rubbish into our bin. She said that it didn’t feel right, but that she felt she had to do it, because he had asked her. 

I told my 12 year old daughter very clearly (and loudly so that the daughters still lying in their pits could hear) that if something doesn’t feel right then it isn’t right. It’s the same message we use in our Taekwon-do classes when teaching Stranger Aware. I said to her that if an adult, even someone you know or a friend asks you to do something – for example touch them or do something sexual with them, you don’t have to do it. 

This is such an important message and I was grateful to her dad for giving me the opportunity to say it to my daughters so forcefully. I recently read that young girls are feeling obliged to perform sex acts on boys when they really don’t want to. As I have 5 daughters/step daughter, this really concerns me.

I want my daughters to take control. I want them to feel able to say: no. I never want them to feel beholden to anyone. Nobody should ever hold that power over anyone, ever and I am gradually learning to lead by example. 

Right Now!

I’m 45 years old and I honestly don’t know whether that is bloody old or fairly young. It’s that weird in between age, where some would consider you ancient (your children) and others would say you were that dreadful word: middle aged. This would mean that I will live until I’m 90, so I’m kind of happy with that. Apparently, the age you started your periods has a bearing on how long you will live. Well let’s put it this way, the school nurse said to me, aged 15: we’ll give it a few months and then we’ll worry. No worries, I’m going to live forever.

So at my ripe old age, I feel that I’ve seen and learnt a few things. You see, I have gone through a fair few changes. I have had 4 kids, breastfed, trained in sport at International level, both before and after having children. I have dieted to get to fighting weights and I have eaten what the fuck I want. I have been tee total and I have drunk like a fish. You could say that I have experienced quite a few different states.

And you know what? The one thing that I have realised from all of this is firstly that you should absolutely and completely shut out the media from your advice line. They are all over the place with their advice. In fact, you will get better advice from the person you sit next to on the train…on any subject.

Secondly, whatever your goals are at a particular stage of your life are just fine. In fact, they are quite possibly bloody awesome. It may be that you have just signed up to your first 10k run after giving birth, or you have managed to get your baby to settle in the creche at your local leisure centre and so can sneak 45 minutes at the gym (15 minutes for a baby free coffee, of course).

Perhaps you enjoy walking your dog for half an hour a day and enjoy a couple of glasses of wine every evening, or maybe you put butter on your toast every day.

You see, what I have learnt in my 45 years, is that what actually matters is what makes you happy. It’s not what the Daily Mail says you should be doing, or what your partner is doing (unless you want to join them), or what your best friend is up to right now. BE SELFISH! Life is actually about YOU!

You have to care for people every day: children, parents, a partner, people at work and so the best way that we can care for ourselves, is what feels right at the time… FOR OURSELVES!

If the time is right to fulfill an ambition, then go for it! If now is your time to kick back and chill out then feckin’ do it. Because you know what? It actually doesn’t matter what other people think, or what some twat in a newspaper or magazine says should be happening. This is about YOU!

To be honest, the truth is that if you don’t really want something, then you won’t succeed at it anyway. Running a marathon, dieting, giving up smoking. So you know what? Don’t bother until you know that you are doing it for yourself.

You do what feels right for you RIGHT NOW, because at the end of the day, that’s actually all that counts.


Access All Areas

When I went in to labour with daughter 3 and my ex rang the hospital to say we were coming in, they told him they were shut. Daughter 1 woke up and wandered in to the sitting room at the same time as he was replying to them: well what the fuck are we supposed to do? By now, I was sitting on the floor about to give birth. Things weren’t exactly going to plan, but then again, so many people had told me that number 3’s are always tricky, I wasn’t that surprised.

My ex put on the TV for daughter 1, who was 3 years old and she settled herself down on the sofa to watch Teletubbies – seemingly oblivious to the teletubbie who was panting on the floor in front of her.

The ambulance arrived before my sister, who was on call to look after daughters 1 and 2. The paramedics flew into action with me on the floor and all daughter 1 could say was: Daddy, can you ask them to move because I can’t see the telly.

Thankfully, a few minutes later my sister arrived and took her niece in to another room to play with her. When daughter 3 arrived a few minutes later, she wasn’t breathing. If the paramedics hadn’t have been there we were told she would have died. As it was they gave her oxygen, slapped her about a bit, she cried and was absolutely fine. My sister who was in the room next door, on the other hand, told us how awful it was for her and daughter 1, who had heard that she was born and then just silence, for what seemed, she said, forever.

For such a natural event, birth can be and so often is, traumatic. Every single person I know has a traumatic birth story. Why, oh why would you want to expose your other children to this event? Has the world gone mad? Have we seriously become so ridiculously child-centred that we actually think it would be ‘nice’ for a child, other than the one who is being born, to be a part of the birth story?

Daughter 4 was a straightforward home birth. No drugs, in the same sitting room – new carpet (insurance claim after the last birth), lots of plastic sheeting…we were prepared. It was wonderful. It was bloody painful, in fact both. It was beautiful for my other 3 daughters to come down to breakfast and to see their baby sister lying cuddled up with mummy on the sofa. Idyllic. They have such fond memories of this magical moment. Now, I can tell you for absolute bloody sure that their memories of their mother grunting and panting on all fours with her arse in their faces and a bloodied, mucus covered alien coming out of the place she normally pisses would not have provided them with the same thoughts to remember.

Every so often my daughters ask me whether giving birth is painful. I don’t even want to tell them that it is. I don’t want them to fear something that is hopefully inevitable. I don’t want them to have images that they can’t erase. I would not want them to experience being told for 9 months that they are going to witness a wonderful birth, only for it to go wrong and them having to be hurried into another room, with all the fear and unknowing that would bring. Like my sister told me: that was terrifying. She is an adult. We are talking about children.

So when I heard about Jools Oliver allowing her teenage children in to the birth of their baby number 5, I asked: why? Really? What are the gains? Why is this so important, when they would almost certainly not be asking to be a part of the experience. It would inevitably be the parents’ idea. People who are advocating this are seeing birth through rose-tinted specs. Whilst this is, of course, a lovely way to see it, if we are involving children in an event, then as parents we also have to account for less positive outcomes and evaluate their impact on the child. Without the luxury of hindsight, I would certainly be erring on the side of protecting them from potential trauma. Nowadays it seems that it is: children access all areas. I say that there are some areas that we should allow them not to access, for their own good, as well as ours.

Daughter 3 and her baby sister. No trauma. No blood. Mummy’s had a hair wash. All’s well.

Happiness is…

A few years ago, in a previous life in fact, I began to ask myself: what is happiness and why didn’t I feel happy? On paper I had everything you could wish for: a devoted husband and father to 4 gorgeous girls, a beautiful house… and yet I still felt the need to question. It really bugged me. I would look for answers in newspaper articles and in snatched conversations with people, but the more I delved, the more I realised that the question of: what is happiness, is like the elixir that many are searching for.

Now in my new life, so many things have changed and I would say that I feel incredibly happy. So what exactly is it that gives us the happy vibe? I know for certain that it isn’t having more money, or a bigger house. I also know that happiness is helped by good mental and physical health and that although less money doesn’t make you unhappy, money worries certainly do.

This is all very obvious.

What I am thinking about is the distinct states of happiness, in the same way that there are distinct states of love.

Do you remember the Love Is…comic strip? It was created by New Zealand cartoonist Kim Casali in the 1960’s. According to Wikipedia, the cartoons originated from a series of love notes that she drew for her future husband. In 1970, they appeared in strip form in a newspaper.

Each picture depicts a man and a woman with a caption of what love is. The most famous one says: “Love Is…being able to say you are sorry”

The cartoon breaks love down into single, tangible, reconnecting moments.

When you first meet someone who you are attracted to there are fireworks: the endorphins go haywire and you are basically drugged up with love. It is tangible, you can feel it, smell it and so can others: just by looking at you, they can see that you are in love. I equate this to that rush of happiness you feel when you are going on holiday: the anticipation and when you arrive at your destination and are heady with excitement. You can literally embrace your happiness.

Yet this euphoric state simply cannot last. At some point this crazy feeling of happiness or love settles in to a series of moments and feelings, such as are depicted in the Love Is… cartoon. A series of moments where each one makes you feel a rush of love, or indeed happiness, that may feel fleeting.

Yet it is these transient moments, I believe, that are subconsciously creating our overall state. It is often these moments that we capture in a photo and share with the world. Posting photos on Facebook of moments that capture our love or happiness and often both, somehow cements them. It catches them and makes them last longer than they really do.

This is why we say: live for the moment! Inhale those moments of happiness, take a photo, share the photo. Look at those photos again when you aren’t feeling so happy. Because those moments you captured are still within you. They have created something inside you that you cannot now touch or feel, but they are there having an effect on your well-being. Then, in moments of doubt, reconnect by finding time to make those feelings you can touch:

Happiness is…feeling the sun on your face for five minutes

Happiness is…a glass of wine and a weekend paper

Happiness is…a view

Happiness is…sitting and looking at the sea

Happiness is…time

Happiness and love don’t have to cost the earth and they are highly personal: this is the elixir. We don’t have to constantly be experiencing these feelings either, because being busy and being sad, for example, embellish our feelings of happiness. We must find time for these transient moments and then, even when we aren’t necessarily feeling the vibe, we know that it is somewhere under the surface, ready to be tapped in to.

Image result for happiness is quotes




Bikini Pose

When I hear a cry of: Mu’um! approaching my bedroom when I’ve just got out the shower, I now administer a sharp warning to the approaching teenager that I’m naked. I’ve been caught out too many times over the past few years and I’ve had my fill of teenage girls’ faces contorted in disgust at the sight of their mother with no clothes on. I don’t think that it’s because of the state of my body particularly. I think if you asked them they’d agree that it’s just the mere fact that I am their mother and I am naked, just as they would no longer stand in front of me with no clothes on. We’re not naturists, it’s all perfectly normal. Which is why when I heard that Jamie Oliver’s two teenage daughters witnessed their 5th baby being born and cut the cord, I was just a little skeptical. I mean, I think my teenage girls would rather kiss my butt than watch another sibling appear from my fanny.

Anyhow, if they did enter my bedroom, they may be in severe danger of catching me perfecting my ‘bikini pose’. Oh yes, nothing escapes me. I’ve seen it on Instagram over and over again since July. On every beach, in every country all over the world, teenagers are taking a stance: not a stance on the abolishment of student grants and rising tuition fees you understand. No, the bikini stance: facing the camera with one leg about a foot further forward than the other with your arse stuck out so far that the small of your back is crying. When I first saw it I thought it looked a little strange – as if they have a problem with their hips. Then I thought to myself: if they’re all at it there must be something in it. So I tried it in front of the mirror this morning. “You put your left leg in, your left leg out. You do the bikini pose to stop it all hanging out!” I found myself humming to myself, as I practised it a few times to get it right and now I know! I know why they do it! I have discovered the teenagers’ secret weapon that they need in their armory with so many selfies constantly taken around swimming pools and being shared immediately on social media: it pulls the tummy tight – try it! Drop what you are doing right now, find a mirror and strike the bikini pose. Join the revolution! No need to shy away from that selfie stick looming over your head as you’re trying to read your magazine. Leap off your lounger, stick one foot in front of the other and stick your bum out. Hell, go the whole hog and do the peace sign. You are going to thank me for this! No more groans as you look back at those holiday snaps, just a beautiful tummy stretched out like a piece of old knicker elastic. 

I’m going to spend this afternoon trawling through Instagram for ways in which I can deal with a fat arse. Watch this space! 

Age is Just a Stupid Number

A few years ago, I think it was in my 40th year, I was in a coffee shop slurping on a latte, when the chap sitting next to me started engaging me in conversation. During the course of which he said that I looked young: 16 years old, he said. I spat out my latte with a snort of laughter and he continued assuring me that I looked like a teenager.

Now, before you all snort out your own coffee and judge me for being a sad old cow, who takes compliments from elderly men (oh, had I not mentioned that he was old…) and spouts them as gospel – I didn’t. I thought: you joker, but I’ll take from it that I don’t look too old and wrinkly just yet. I did, however, return home and whoop away to partner how someone in Neros had said I look 16 and when he asked how old that person was, I had changed the subject.

Ever since that day, periodically, partner has made a sarcastic comment in passing about me, ‘only looking 16.’ It generally comes up when I remind him that he is nearing 50 and is older than me and so on – it’s his weapon of mass sarcasm.

This morning on the dog walk we got chatting to a fellow walker and she was asking about the ages of our kids. “You don’t look old enough!” She exclaimed. “You only look 37”.  When we’d parted company, I looked at partner and glowed. I grinned like a Cheshire cat and I couldn’t help myself saying to him: aren’t you lucky to have such a young looking partner!

Crikey, he replied. From 16 to 37 in 5 years. You’ve aged 20 years in that short time. Life has been hard on you!

That’ll teach me to gloat.

Fake Tan

The post in the following link was sponsored by a sun cream manufacturer.


But it was published in Women’s Health under the guise of ways to stay fit on holiday: “if you’re itching for your fitness fix”

Erm…not really.

“Here’s 5 ways to turn any beach holiday into a bona fide fitness retreat.”

It said. I’m asking…WHY?

Just because you’re on the beach, relaxing on that holiday that you have saved up for since Christmas and been counting down the days until you can finally kick back…doesn’t mean you stop here. Fuck no! Don’t for one millisecond think that just because you are on holiday you can relax! “Use these easy tips to tone at home and abroad…There’s no reason to idle until cocktail o’ clock”

No! Why the hell would you want to, ‘idle’ on holiday? For god’s sake, woman, didn’t you realise that your holiday is actually, “a bona fide fitness retreat”? Your first proper opportunity to get tipsy since you gave birth.

1. 7:00 AM morning run Early riser? Piss off! Because your kids are knackered from the flamenco dancers last night and this is actually the first lie in you have had since you were so drunk at your sister’s wedding, you failed to notice them jumping on your head the following morning!

2. 11:00 AM: mid-morning yoga poolside with kindle and a bloody great big cocktail. Just work that core and see if you can, “Nama-stay upright”.

3. 2:00 PM: afternoon paddle-boarding A way to escape the hot sand? Check. A way to relax in easy reach of the water? Check. Pass the Margarita sunshine, I’m getting on that lilo!

4. 5:00 PM: evening HIIT The sun’s just dipped, but it’s still warm, perfect conditions for a quick splash in the sea and back to the apartment to get ready to party!

5. 9:00 PM: sunset stroll…ok, this is a maybe, “it’s the perfect way to end the day and reduce the impact of all that good food”…oh and there was me, stupidly thinking that it was just a romantic walk along the beach with the other half.

Adverts for products that are masquerading as ways in which we should exist: fuck off! Nobody needs your guilt trips. Ever. Especially not on holiday.

Talking of which, I may be a bit quieter over the next month…

Happy relaxing hols 🙂