|Port Isaac, a former fishing village|
Tuesday, 8 June 2021
Cornwall: holiday haven
Sometimes you don't realise you need a break until you're sat on a beach in the sunshine, thinking thank goodness. This was me last week, staying in Cornwall with extended family. It was a celebration of my sister-in-law's birthday but also a much needed holiday.
After driving down through the madness of half-term traffic, we arrived in a different land. Here, the sun shone and the sea glistened. Every pore in my freckly pale skin peeled open to soak up the vitamin D. It was bliss. After months of rain and unseasonal chilliness back home, summer had finally arrived.
Monday, 10 May 2021
How coaching turned things around
There comes a time in a woman's life when she doubts herself. Wonders if she's made the right choices. Inevitably, she looks around at her peers and find herself lacking. I guess we've all been there, in one shape or form.
Wednesday, 9 December 2020
Photos from home
I'm in a retrospective mood. December is a month for sorting through our photos and thinking about the year that has passed. It's no surprise the events of 2020 will stand out in my memory. A few years ago it was a road-trip through California that dominated; this year our holidays were equally unusual but somewhat closer to home (literally).
Scrolling through our archive, the photos reveal a few other themes too: fun in the garden during lockdown-lite (summer), new crazes for paddle boarding and home-decorating, as well as an obsession with food (homegrown veg, homemade sourdough, celebratory cakes). Towards the latter end of the year, it was the new kitten who stole the show - romping with the dog, curled up in my son's hat, or perched nonchalantly on the roof of our house (three storeys up 😩).
|Holidays in the garden|
Wednesday, 11 November 2020
Because I'm happy
I'm feeling happy today. Naturally, I'm unable to be happy without taking time to analyse why. This is the ideal state we all aspire to, the holy grail of modern life and a prized commodity during these quiet lockdown days.
I read recently that believing we can achieve happiness is a misguided notion. Better to live a useful life, where happiness becomes a byproduct (if we're lucky). This was said by somebody famous, though I can't remember who (possibly a former American president or First Lady - I've overindulged on US politics recently).
|This makes me happy|
Wednesday, 30 September 2020
Someone sent me a polite message via Twitter earlier in the summer. He introduced himself as Aidan Martin and said he wanted to flag up a book he had written - Euphoric Recall, a memoir of his childhood and journey through addiction. Because of my recent work on childhood trauma, he piqued my interest.
Aidan's book fulfils his dream of becoming a writer; a dream he nearly gave up on when he was an addict. It took two decades to conquer his addictions to hard pornography, alcohol and drugs. His book, which publishes tomorrow (1 October), refers to a higher power that helped him overcome his demons. "I am not an airy-fairy guy in the slightest nor am I religious," he tells me. "But I do believe I am on a journey and am being guided and protected on it."
My own book about the toxic impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) was published in May by Public Health Wales and is freely available. The book consists of interviews with practitioners - who help others to overcome adverse experiences - as well as people with lived experiences of trauma, like Aidan.
Wednesday, 23 September 2020
The essence of summer 2020
Hubby and I nipped out for a walk first thing yesterday morning. The mist hung over the green hills of Turville while the sunlight was so piercing I could barely keep my eyes open. It felt like the last breath of summer... a chance to wander through the fields, past hedgerows and along chalky banks with the sun's warmth on our skin. We even spotted a some ragged purple flowers - a flash of floral excitement late in the season.
Tuesday, 7 July 2020
Exiting the corona cocoon
|Hoping for a sweet summer|
Wednesday, 27 May 2020
Kindness - the new superpower
Throughout the coronavirus lockdown, there will be children stuck at home who have suffered emotional or physical abuse; kids who've witnessed the painful breakdown of their parents' relationship, or watched a mother/father spiral downwards into depression.
These experiences are not uncommon and sadly it has become clear that they can have a long-term impact, affecting not only children's mental health into adulthood, but also their physical health. For example, people who have suffered trauma in their early lives are more vulnerable to strokes and heart disease.
|The book: how we can help people |
who have suffered childhood trauma
Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Sweet and sour
The first time I ever sampled sourdough, I was at a business lunch with a contact in New York during the late 1990s. Mid-conversation, sitting in the chichi restaurant, I remember picking up my diamond-shaped bread roll and taking a nibble. My goodness, I thought to myself, that bread has gone off!
Perhaps I didn't hide my grimace well enough because my companion smiled and told me that 'sourdough' was a New York speciality. I felt a pang for the French-style bread I might have been given in a London restaurant back home...
|Sourdough: 'bread with an old soul'|
Picture credit: Will Lam
Wednesday, 8 April 2020
While the livin' is easy
We got our letter from Boris yesterday. Poor man - I'm sure he didn't imagine he'd end up in hospital himself when he was sitting there, chewing his pencil and wondering what to write. His words - we must slow the spread of the disease and reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment - are steeped in irony.
Instead, Dominic Raab is left in charge. Two nights ago on the BBC, he looked faintly queasy at the prospect. Incidentally, he was in the year below us at university so it feels rather odd that he's now our de facto PM - like our generation has come of age. Or a bit like my friend Sarah or Cathy running the country, except Sarah is too busy looking after the children of key workers and Cathy is reading the news.
|Tending to our new vegetable patch|
Wednesday, 1 April 2020
House frau rules ok
Ever since I gave up full-time work to look after the kids, I've resisted - whisper it - becoming a housewife. The plan, back in 2003 when my daughter was born, was to raise the kids, write novels and freelance. On the whole, things turned out pretty well. Most of the time, I buried my neurosis that I had opted into domestic service. Writing books has brought me fulfilment while also affording me the flexibility to spend lots of time with my kids. As they got older, I've taken on more work.
Then along came the Coronavirus. For the first time, our home became both the centre and the outer edge of our world. And who rules over this dominion? Me. During the past few weeks, I have flexed every domestic muscle in my body to keep my family fed, healthy and occupied.
|Sun therapy in the garden helped me feel better|
Tuesday, 24 March 2020
So it's Day One of social isolation. I feel like I can hear the Big Brother voiceover ringing in my ears, giving a running commentary of life in the 'house' so far. On the plus side, online school seems to be going well for the kids this morning, barring a few technical wrinkles. And the dog has enjoyed more walks than usual as we take turns to sample the sunny freedom in the fields behind our house.
My God, was it only a week ago that we had friends round for Sunday lunch? The last eight days have felt more like a month as we've watched our freedoms fall by the wayside, felled by an unremitting virus. It is incredible how the apparatus of our society - the education system, our economy, basic human rights - can be dismantled so quickly. And in the end, all it comes down to is life itself, the battle to preserve our little flickers of being.
|Coronavirus haircuts in the kitchen|
Tuesday, 17 March 2020
Brave new world
What strange times we live in. I walked into a petrol station yesterday to fill up my car and got terribly excited when I noticed multiple packs of loo roll in the aisle. A rare sight these days. In our household, a shortage had been looming after several visits to my local supermarket last week proved fruitless. I had to resist the urge to buy up more than my fair share.
Our days are weighted with an underlying sense of dread as we wait for the coronavirus to unleash its full force on our shores. Yesterday's restrictions on social contact - recommended by the prime minister and his advisors - will change our lives in immeasurable ways. For me, the consequences of these restrictions are only just sinking in. Can I still meet a friend for coffee? No, not really. Will book club get cancelled? Yes. And what about Pilates?
|Even the dog's worried about food shortages |
- he raided a food bin this morning
Monday, 2 March 2020
Every delay has a silver lining
It turned out to be quite an eventful holiday. At the beginning of half term, as I finished zipping up the suitcases and disposing of the dregs in the fridge, a text popped up from Easyjet:
Gee, thanks, Storm Dennis. After a few hours of high stress (12-year old hid in his room), we finally managed to book ourselves onto another flight to Gran Canaria, our holiday destination, three days later - yes, three days later.
We are sorry to inform you that your Easyjet flight xxx has been cancelled. You can transfer onto a new flight or get a refund...
|Blue sky, sunshine, RELAX|
Tuesday, 3 September 2019
As I watched my son lope off to catch his school bus this morning, I shed a tear. It was a discreet tear alone in the car - a quiet acknowledgement that my boy is growing up and that the summer is over. No one saw; I didn't embarrass him.
On our way to the bus stop, we had overtaken a nervous first year, walking alongside his mum. A whole year has passed since my son set off for his first day at senior school, his face set and his shoulders hunched.
|One eye on the past and one on the future...|
Tuesday, 14 May 2019
When the sun comes out at this time of year, I want to lie outside and soak up rays like a solar battery. This year, I got an early charge when we flew to Lanzarote for a week's stay over the Easter holidays.
We took a family suite at the hotel Princesa Yaiza in the Playa Blanca resort. The hotel was vast and we were tucked away in a distant wing (the family zone) but there was lots to keep us entertained. As well as three swimming pools and numerous restaurants in the hotel complex, there was the 'Kikoland' sports facility, where we got addicted to paddle tennis (a cross between tennis and squash). We could also walk to a pretty (if busy) beach nearby.
|One of Yaiza's many pools|
Tuesday, 9 April 2019
This time last week I dropped off my 15-year old daughter at school for her French exchange trip. In the dark, lamp-lit morning (4:30am), seeing her onto the school coach felt like a surreal experience. In a haze of orange street-light, I was sending off into the unknown, to stay with a family I'd never met before. Instinctively, I didn't want to let her go, even though my head was telling me this was a good opportunity for her.
On the quiet drive home, I gave myself a stern pep talk. As a good parent, I needed to allow my daughter her independence and the freedom to try out new experiences.
|My daughter at ease with her new independence!|
Tuesday, 18 December 2018
For tradition's sake
Christmas is an elaborate production. The sheer brilliance of it is that everyone collaborates in one way or another - whether that's buying presents, sending cards, or perpetuating the magic of Santa. The festival is one massive, co-ordinated effort across the nation and most of us opt in without even questioning it. The results are spectacular: from the gorgeous lights illuminating our town centres to crazy knitted jumpers, Secret Santa, fairs, parties and the decorated trees adorning our homes.
As each year passes, I get more practised at keeping my end up. I now have processes in place (start the cards early; book online shopping slots in November) to make life easier. I know what's expected and I deliver. It helps that it's the same show every year because - let's be honest - I'm not much of an innovator. I follow the time-honoured plan and streamline efficiencies where I can.
|My first ever Christmas wreath!|
Tuesday, 4 December 2018
In the pink
A friend and I were discussing what I should buy her little girl for Christmas. We hit upon Lego. "Friends Lego, the pink stuff?" I clarified nervously. She grimaced apologetically: "Yes, I think she'd like it. It would make a change from all her brother's kits." We both experienced that twitchy, self-correcting thought - in this 'woke' world of new feminism, should we really be buying our girls pink Lego?
The fact is my daughter enjoyed her pink Lego back in the day and I suspect this little girl would too. I'm guessing the 'Friends-themed' Lego range wouldn't have expanded as quickly as it has, if it didn't sell. The treehouses, camper vans and art studios, all decked out in pastel shades, are clearly designed to appeal to a feminine sensibility. Heck, I probably would have loved Friends Lego too as a child, had it been around then.
|Are pink roses just for girls?|
Tuesday, 2 October 2018
|Closing the door on the past|
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