Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Pause for thought

On Sunday evening, as I was quietly reading my book, I experienced a zapping sensation in my head. A bit like when you crick your neck, but it was inside my brain. Shucks, I thought, I've got a brain tumour. Naturally, I consulted Dr. Google and it turned out I was experiencing a symptom of perimenopause. Fab. (Although, marginally better than a brain tumour, I suppose.)

Emma Clark Lam and birthday cake
In the days before I'd even heard of perimenopause!
My 43rd birthday is looming, which means ageing is on my mind at the moment. A friend of mine, Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman, is a big advocate for breaking the taboo associated with menopause and the various indignities that women face as we grow older and wiser. So in the spirit of sisterhood, I have decided to highlight the challenges of the dreaded 'change'.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Between the covers

Some of you will know that my nine-year old son, Tristan, was a finalist in the Henley Literary Festival short-story competition, run by Dragonfly Tea. Just for a bit of fun, I thought I would post his entry here on the blog. Have a read and see what you think!

Finalists from the Henley Literary Festival short-story competition
The 2016 finalists for the children's short-story competition
Hi! I’m Larry the bookworm and I’m hooked to books! Adventure, fairytale, scary, funny, anything! If it’s a book, I’ll read it! I’ve probably read over a thousand, but then I do live in a library where there is always a book to read. The book I’m reading at the moment is called ‘Evil is Back,’ the sequel of ‘Evil in Front.’

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Bring them home

This week I have decided to write a letter to my local member of parliament, John Howell, asking him to help hundreds of child refugees who are eligible to come to the UK but are left to languish in Calais.

Dear Mr Howell, 

In February this year you kindly wrote to my son and his fellow members of the so-called Secret Society of Nature to congratulate them on raising funds for the World Wildlife Fund. Needless to say, the children were thrilled to receive your letter which recognised their efforts to save endangered animals from extinction.

A refugee family asks for help
© Prazis |

Today I am writing to you about the child refugees in Calais. While we have a duty to look after our wildlife, we also have a moral obligation to protect vulnerable children and young people, particularly those who have fled war or violence in their own countries. 

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Window on the world

It's here, it's started! My brain is buzzing, my heart is full. Can you tell I'm excited? The Henley Literary Festival kicked off this week with a host of writers, performers and literary stalwarts. The festival and I go way back. Ten years ago, when it first opened its doors, it took my hand and said, Stop pining for London - look what Henley has to offer! We've been friends ever since.

Comedian Ben Miller asks: 'Is there life beyond earth?'
For one week in the year, I cram my head with knowledge. It's like I'm making up for lost time - and perhaps I am. My biggest regret from my university years was not attending enough lectures. At the time, bed seemed a more inviting prospect first thing in the morning. In my callow youth I took 'learning' for granted. Now, entrenched in the humdrum world of work and parenthood, I can't get enough of it.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Drama in the night

Hermaphrodite Mum
Three kids and a single mum

"Blow winds and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!" was King Lear's famed reaction to the storm. "Where the hell are my children?" was mine last week as I lay in bed listening to rolls of thunder shake our house to its very foundations. 

Lightening and thunderstorm in the night sky
Where are the kids?
© Jaroslav Noska |
Normally, a rollicking, good thunderstorm never fails to bring all three children running into my bedroom like rats deserting a sinking ship, but last week as the storm bellowed outside my open window, there was no sign of them. My first thought was: Oh well, I'll just go back to sleep! But then I started to panic. What if Walking Toddler was a gibbering wreck, too frightened even to call out my name? What if one of them has been struck by lightening unbeknownst to me?

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Don't stop believing...

Self-belief is a powerful but fragile gift. One of my personal heroes has always been Amelia Earhart, a pioneering pilot and a woman of incredible courage and vision. This week I was reading about about how she may have ended her days as an injured castaway on a remote Pacific island. New research indicates that she made a series of distress calls from the island after her Lockheed Electra crashed in the summer of 1937 during the final stages of her attempt to fly around the globe. 

A woman pilot dressed in the style of Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart: an inspiration to modern women
© Yuri Yukhimchuk | 
A celebrity in depression-era America, Earhart earned her stripes after she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1932. Five years later, on the cusp of turning 40, she sought one more challenge: to become the first woman to fly around the world. "I have this feeling that there is just about one more good flight left in my system," she declared rather ominously.