All Change

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post and it may be an equally long time before I write another. It takes me a while to get blogs just right, and even then I worry that I might be falling short of the high standards set by the blogging community. When I’ve had time to write this year, I’ve tended to focus on creative writing. I can write a poem in a shorter space of time than it takes me to put a blog post together.

It’s been an eventful year. My writing got off to a good start when I found out that I’d won a competition in January. I then lost my mojo after having major surgery and it took me months to get into the swing of things.

In July, we went to Canada. It was a child-centric holiday, which we Munchkin loved. We started off at Niagara Falls, then took her to Canada’s Wonderland theme park before flying to Vancouver Island. We spent a couple of days in Victoria, which wasn’t at all how I remember it but I still love the Royal BC Museum. The city is busier than it seemed on previous visits and I was on the verge of panic every time I tried to drive. After a night in Nanaimo (I love Nanaimo bars) we spent a few days in Ukuelet, which was nice but not entirely suitable for someone with a disability. We then made our way to Cambell River, where my family live. Munchkin loved meeting her great-aunt and cousins for the first time and can’t wait to go back.

Munchkin is the other reason I’m not so keen on blogging now. She has become a competent reader and it’s only a matter of time before she finds my blog and starts asking questions. If I continue to blog, I’ll have to be careful how I represent her.

I seem to be developing a ‘back catalogue’ of poems and short stories so I’m hoping to submit some of these soon. In 2019, I’m considering attending some kind of novelists’ workshop in the hope that I can kickstart the time travel novel that I’ve been tinkering with for ten years but haven’t been brave enough to write. Hopefully, if or when I next decide to blog, it’ll be to tell you about a writing success.

I’m publishing this without photos but might edit it to include Canada pictures when I find time.

A Beary Busy Half Term

This is Ted. He’s the class bear and is currently enjoying his termly visit to our house. Ted leads a very hectic life, which might explain why he wears pyjamas all day – he’s always tired.

Teddy bear


Ted thinks some parents don’t like having him but he’s no trouble. He does like biscuits though! He also likes to dress in Risa’s clothes sometimes. They’re the same size, on account of both being Build a Bears. She’s been wondering where her dresses are! Ted might be going back to school with some jeans and a T shirt, donated by Munchkin’s cousin. Perhaps his days as the Arthur Dent – the fictional character, not the Puritan author – of bears are over.

This is Ted’s second Half Term with us. Some parents have pitied me for having to entertain him for so long but school holidays are actually easier than weekends because we’d be taking Munchkin for days out anyway. Besides, I can always send him to Bear Care. If I tick the right box, they’ll take photos of him and put them on social media – or something like that! He has a scrap book of all his adventures so we have to take lots of photos.

Girl, teddy bear, pink rabbit

Ted and Risa

Ted has a dicky ticker. When we’ve had him previously, we’ve been able to hear his heart beat. These days, his heart just rattles. His nerves are shot to bits because several children in the class have dogs and he knows that his predecessor was eaten by a dog.

So Ted has had a really busy week. So far, he’s been to:

This weekend, he might be going to the library and the theatre. He’s rather a cultured bear, though no doubt he’ll be wearing his pjs.

Girl, teddy bear

Ted enjoying the sun at banger racing

Writing Update

It’s been so long since I wrote a blog, I forgot what the blogging app was called! Having remembered it’s WordPress, I’m giving you a writing update. I’ve had a writing drought since my operation in January, which I’m hoping is reaching its end now.

You may recall that back in January, I found out that I’d won second prize in a short story competition. Part of the prize was to have my story read on the BBC local radio station. This never happened, and it was only a few weeks ago that I felt well enough to chase it up.

It turned out that the stories were too long to be read out. Instead, the winners were offered the chance to have a short chat about their writing on the Drive Time show. The winner had done this a month or more ago but I had been forgotten.

I agreed a date and time with the presenter. I had hoped to go to the studio as it would be good experience but the organisation was a little laid-back and it seemed logistically easier to speak on the phone.

With some trepidation – and instructions to Munchkin to stay in the other room with the door shut – I made my radio interview debut. It went better than I expected. I was asked about my story and the inspiration for it, and what my next writing projects were. You can hear the interview here until 15th May 2018. It’s at approximately 40 minutes.

The radio interview made me focus on my writing targets. I’ve concluded that my To Do List is as follows:

1. Edit my children’s stories so they’re short enough to be picture books.

2. Write the time travel novel that has been on the back burner for ten years.

It was back to school for me last week, with a return to the Creative Writing course that I’ve attended on and off – mostly on – for the past nine years. I’ve overcome the fear of writing poetry that I was suffering from last term – I got it into my head that nobody liked my poems because they don’t rhyme or have a totally regular rhythm – and wrote two poems. Unfortunately I can’t attend the poetry course that the college is running in the summer because it’s during office hours. I prefer Saturdays, even if the other poets of Worthing don’t.

Now that I’ve recovered from my surgery, I’m hoping it’ll be easier to write more regularly. I’d like to get back to regular blog posts but for the moment, if time and energy demand that I choose between creative writing and blogging, I choose creative writing.

Photo credit:

Popping in to the Pop Up Shop

Earlier this week, I was invited to a private viewing of the Fairytale Fair’s pop up shop at Colonnade House in Worthing. Having previously been to one of Fairytale Fair’s massive craft fairs, I jumped at the chance to see what was on offer. They are running their first ever pop up shop and gallery – ‘Just Daydreaming’, at Colonnade House, Worthing from 20th – 25th March 2018 from 10am – 5pm daily.

The pop up shop showcases ten artists, many of whom produce animal-themed work. I bought a print of a cute rabbit by Wild Whiskers Studio for my daughter’s bedroom. I was lucky enough to get a goodie bag for being one of the first to spend more than £5. I could easily have bought much more!

rabbit cushion

Wild Whiskers Rabbit Design

Fairytale Fair run craft fairs in the Brighton and Worthing areas. They have stalls from a range of local artists and creative-types. I would have loved to get this post up in time to really promote the pop up shop, but there’s only one day to go. If you’re in Worthing on 25th March, it’s definitely worth popping in for a look. If not, their next event is a Brighton Fringe Festival Special at the Open Market in Brighton.

It was the first time I’d been to Colonnade House. I was interested to find out that it’s an artists’ hub, funded by the Coastal Communities Fund, as part of Worthing’s regeneration. Colonnade House is a place where creative people can network, put on exhibitions and rent studio space. They run a variety of events, including exhibitions and workshops so it’s always worth checking their website or social media to see what’s on. To find out more, visit

I’d like to thank Claire from the Fairy Tale Fair for inviting me to the private viewing. If you’d like to know more about the Fairy Tale Fair, you can find them at




Snow Days

This is my first blog post for ages because I just haven’t felt like writing since my operation. Britain has been in the grip of snow due to the ‘Beast from the East’ and Storm Emma, but we got off very lightly where I live. Despite this, there has been plenty of panic and disaster recovery processes in place. Here is a round-up from our week in the snow.

Frozen Boilers

It transpires that condensing boilers aren’t very good at coping with freezing conditions. If your condensate pipe is outside, there’s a high chance it will freeze, meaning that the boiler won’t work until it’s defrosted. Luckily, helpful gas engineers were sharing this information all over Facebook, so I knew exactly what to do, the only problem was, our boiler is on the first floor so I had to wait for my husband to come home and get the ladder out – I’m not allowed to lift it, remember. He defrosted the pipe with a hairdryer and re-set the boiler but it still wouldn’t work. In the end, he spoke to the person who installed our boiler, who told him he’d done the right thing but damp had probably got in, and it would eventually clear. It did, the following morning, though we’re still not sure the boiler sounds quite right.

My two favourite Facebook posts about broken boilers were from the plumber who told customers to allow the pipe to ‘Thor’ – I hadn’t realised we were expecting thunder! And the lady who asked if anyone else in her area was without hot water. Clearly she thought there was a national hot water network. I felt really sorry for the man who had successfully thawed his pipe with hot water, only to find that it had frozen again and he couldn’t get near it because the hot water from last time had turned to ice.

World Book Day

Despite the weather, World Book Day celebrations still went ahead at Munchkin’s school. Some schools postponed them, and the book tokens are valid for longer than normal to account for this. Munchkin and Alan went as Wenda and Woof from ‘Where’s Wally’. I bought the Wenda costume, but it took me the best part of a day to make Alan’s costume.

girl, toy dog, where's wally, wenda, woof

Where’s Wally? Here are Wenda and Woof.


Closing Schools

There was a lot of fuss from people who said that schools didn’t close for snow in their day. What they failed to realise is that staff don’t always live locally to the school, and whether particular schools opened was largely down to where the staff had to travel from. Munchkin’s school opened every day, though it closed early on a couple of occasions. Her two favourite cousins live in other areas so  they both had snow days when she was at school.

The first day that it snowed, I counted fifteen posts about school closures on two Facebook groups aimed at local parents. I think all schools need a similar process for notifying parents of closures, and parents need to ensure they’re acquainted with it.

Every morning, I checked my email to see whether the school was open, and then checked my mail throughout the day, just in case it closed. We parents agreed that text messages would have been much better than email. Once we received an email from school, the message then had to be relayed via Whatsapp and text, to account for the mum who couldn’t access her email and the dads who don’t get email, because it appears to be limited to one email address per family. On Friday afternoon, we received an email entitled, ‘Abandoning School’. I think a blizzard was expected, but it never really materialised.

Back to normal

It’s been raining today, and all the snow has gone. Munchkin is pleased that she’s finally seen snow. It snowed heavily when she was a year old, but she doesn’t remember. She’s disappointed that she still hasn’t been sledging. I didn’t think there was enough snow, but the local children managed somehow! Sadly for Munchkin, there was no way we could take her sledging this time, with me still recovering from surgery and her dad’s limited mobility. Hopefully I can take her next time it snows, or maybe I’ll just take her skiing at some point.


Napping to Canada 🇨🇦

I’ve been a bit quiet of late because I had a major operation a few days ago. In between naps, I’ve decided to write a post about the family holiday we’re currently planning to Canada.

If I told you what my operation was for, it would be too much information. As a result, several people have assumed I’ve had a hysterectomy – I’d like to assure them that I haven’t. Neither am I suffering from anything life-threatening. Despite this, I’m signed-off work for six weeks and unable to lift anything for three months. I’m not in much pain but I’m sooo sleepy.

Anyway, the family holiday… My mum’s older sister lives in Canada. She’s the only surviving sibling – my mum and uncle passed away more than ten years ago. She has never met Munchkin and doesn’t fly any more so the only way they were going to meet was if we travelled to her. So that’s exactly what we’re going to do this summer.

Niagara Falls, waterfall

It’s not the first time my husband and I have been to Canada. Back in 2010, we visited the Rockies, got the Rocky Mountaineer train to Vancouver, travelled to Vancouver Island, before flying to Toronto for the final leg of our tour, which of course included Niagara Falls.

Our 2018 tour will be a more scaled-down, child-friendly affair. We’ll fly to Toronto and make our way to Niagara so Munchkin can see the falls and mummy and daddy can spend some time in Niagara on the Lake. I think she’s most excited about going to the amusement arcades at Niagara Falls. However, we’re all relieved that Just Christmas is still open. This is Canada’s oldest all year round Christmas store and it will be my third visit. After Niagara, we’ll make our way to North Toronto for two days at Canada’s Wonderland theme park. We had originally promised Munchkin a two-centre holiday in Canada and Disneyland but it was too impractical, so this is the compromise; she’s excited. 😊

From Toronto, we board a plane to Victoria, my favourite Canadian city – not that I’ve visited all of them, there are so many – where we’ll start a mini road trip of Vancouver Island. Our tour will include whale watching, museums and beaches before we end up in Campbell River, where my family live.

I’m sure there will be more posts about our travel plans. I’m expecting it to be challenging finding activities and accommodation for an active six year old child and an adult with limited mobility. Air Transat have been brilliant. They have a sale on at the moment, otherwise we possibly wouldn’t have booked with them. Of the three airlines we’re using, they’re the only one that has allowed me to request assistance for my husband online. The other two expect me to phone Canada during Canadian office hours. They’ve also enrolled Munchkin in a kids’ club. I hadn’t heard of them before, but I’m impressed thus far.

#ThrowbackThursday: Nearly Had a Baby

Since my Munchkin has just celebrated her sixth birthday, I was hoping to share a post about her birth. Unfortunately, I never wrote one. The nearest I have is this post where I started going into labour, then everything stopped for a few days; it was written two days before I gave birth. I did write a long, and not particularly positive birth story for my pregnancy yoga group but I think I’ll keep that one to myself for now.

I’ve left the link to Bras for Mums in the post, since the website still exists. However, the lady who did my bra fitting no longer runs that service in Sussex. I later discovered that she’s a close friend of my cousin who lives in Wales!

When Munchkin was born, she was 5lb 4oz so we ended up buying lots of Tiny Baby clothes from Tesco, whose children’s clothes seemed to be on the smaller side.

I thought it was all systems go on Wednesday night, but no, I haven’t gone into labour yet.  I’m actually quite glad because I would only have been 36 weeks pregnant on Wednesday, which is slightly early.  Symptoms of pre-labour are: “baby dropping”… check, “bloody show”… check, “change in discharge”… check, “pressure around lower back,”… check, “intensification of Braxton Hicks contractions”… check, “diarrhoea” … managed not to have that one.  I even got as far as having mild contractions but everything seems to have eased off now.  I spoke to a midwife who said that the symptoms would either progress into labour or stop and it seems to be the latter.  I’m 37 weeks pregnant today, so at least if the baby comes now, she’ll be “fully cooked”!

Baby-wise, things seem to be going OK.  The diabetes team are really pleased with me because my blood sugar levels have been consistently within tolerance levels.  They’ve allowed me to delay induction until my due date (instead of a week before) because my levels are so good and I’m so anti induction.  I think the consultant was feeling generous because it was Christmas.  She even gave me a Group B Strep test on the NHS.  They’re normally £30 privately because NICE don’t generally recommend them, despite the fact some groups are lobbying to make the test compulsory for all women in late pregnancy.  Even though I have gestational diabetes (with the risk of an oversize baby), baby is measuring on the small side.  She was the size of a 34 week baby at 36 weeks.  This is considered a normal size, so we have nothing to worry about.

Our baby has so many clothes, we don’t know what to do with them!  Both my step-sister and sister-in-law have given us sacks full of clothes.  Some probably won’t get worn because they’re too summery for a winter baby (even though half came from my sister-in-law who had her baby in February!).  We were also given some baby clothes as presents from work and various relatives.  Managed to spend a fortune in the Next Sale on half price clothes (bigger sizes only) and baby bedding.  Well, they were bargains, it had to be done!  Despite our child having a bigger wardrobe than us, we may still have to buy clothes if she comes out tiny and is swamped in New Born baby grows.

I usually end up harping on about bras in my posts, so why make an exception?  I had the Bra Lady come round to measure me for nursing bras.  Apparently all those I got from the High Street were the wrong size… no surprises there.  Good quality nursing and maternity bras are made with more adjustment on the band so you can get more wear out of them.  Bras should never be fitted to “grow into” (take note, Marks and Spencer!) because they won’t give proper support.  In my case, I never grew into them anyway.  I’ve probably paid slightly more than I would have on the High Street, but the bras fit, they’re good quality and the service was excellent.  The Bra Lady will come back for fittings as many times as I need her to and everything is available on a sale or return basis, so I can try anything from the website without paying in advance.  If any mums to be or new mums are interested, the website is

Well, it’s my lunch time now, then I’m taking myself for a walk to see if pre labour would like to start itself again.  Maybe I’ll have had the baby next time I blog… who knows?

A Look Back at 2017

2017 was the year that I relaunched my blog and started a number of writing projects. In this post, I look back at my most successful posts, and let you know how the creative writing is going.

First of all, some good news: I entered the Angmering Short Story Competition in the Autumn. When I hadn’t heard anything for weeks, I assumed the judges didn’t like my story. Then I got invited to the Angmering Writers’ Club meeting where the competition results would be announced. That was on 3rd January and I’m pleased to announce that I won Second Prize. My story will be broadcast on BBC Radio Sussex. The theme for the competition was time. My entry was a science fiction story about time travel. The judges gave me some encouraging feedback, which you can see in this photo.

Black writing on white background

Feeback from Short Story Competition

I relaunched my blog in May. My most viewed posts have tended to be those that I’ve shared on related Facebook groups such as parents’ groups. Bloggers’ groups are great but they’re only frequented by other bloggers.

Here are some of my most popular posts from 2017:

Given that my blog isn’t commercial and I don’t promote it widely, I’m proud to have over 100 Facebook followers, more than 300 Twitter followers and around 50 WordPress followers.

I’ve written a number of guest posts for other bloggers and have returned to my one-time regular slot of writing blog posts for Worthing Mums. One of my Worthing Mums’ posts was republished on Munchkin’s school blog. I’m currently crowdsourcing for a Worthing Mums’ post on Worthing and Sussex children’s authors, so if you know of any, do let me know in the comments. My list currently stands at Julia Donaldson, Lu Thomson, Jennifer Acton, Cathy Watts, Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet, Carol Thomas, Sam Watkins, Giles Paley-Phillips, Chris Riddell, Matt Haig and Liz Pichon.

In summary, my return to blogging has been rewarding and frustrating in equal measures. I’m delighted to have a reasonable-sized following. It’s fantastic that some of my posts have more than a hundred views but it’s irritating that other posts have less than ten views. It really does seem to be about how much you share posts on social media. I still can’t bring myself to use Pintrest – don’t see the point of all that list making – or Instagram – I’m a writer, not a photographer. Up until now, Twitter has seemed better for writers and Facebook for bloggers but that could all change with Facebook making it more and more difficult for posts to reach followers. Will I be writing another look back post in a year’s time? Who knows!

Christmas Correspondence

It’s that time of year when children all over the world get writing to the man with a white beard and a red suit. Since Munchkin is more literate than last year, she wrote her own letter. Father Christmas replied through as he has done every year for the past few years. She then decided to write a note for the reindeer so he had to reply to that.

letter to santa, snowmen, santas, reindeer, penguins, candy canes, christmas trees, snow

The letter to Father Christmas

I bought a letter to Santa kit in the Waitrose sale last year so she used this, despite the fact it said, “Santa” and she insists his name is Father Christmas. She put the letter in the fireplace, and it was gone by the morning.

I used to reply, as I’ve done previously. I particularly like this website because there are lots of customisation options and you can choose an age-appropriate letter. I picked a letter that referred to Disney’s Frozen, since Munchkin loves this. The customisation allows you to select the name by which your child knows Santa. The PS about seeing her in the grotto added to her conviction that School Santa – sans specs – was the real deal.

letter from santa, danta, rudolf, moon, stars

Father Christmas’s reply

A couple of weeks later, she acquired one of my notebooks and wrote a note, with Santa hats to Father Christmas. This was also left in the fireplace. I replied to this one myself, using a free letterhead from the internet.

santa hats, kisses, note to santa's reindeer

A picture for Rudolf, Prancer, Dancer and Blitzen

I can’t find Father Christmas’s reply to take a photo but he left a short note in the fireplace, reminding her to leave a carrot for the reindeer and not to sprinkle reindeer food outside, since it can make birds and small animals very poorly.

RSPCA – who receive a donation from all letters – have been making a big thing about the dangers of reindeer food to wildlife. Reindeer food usually consists of oats and glitter, sometimes with a sprinkling of sequins. I knew that normal glitter was toxic but wasn’t previously aware that even edible glitter is dangerous for wildlife. Our reindeer food will be left in a bowl indoors and disposed of carefully. Next year, we might go for a homemade glitter-free version that can be safely eaten by birds and small animals.

Reindeer Food

Reindeer Food

Munchkin has asked for a Barbie camper van and a Shoppie – let’s hope she gets what she wants.

#Reblog: Meet My Best Friend

So if you remember, I decided to become a doctor a couple of months ago, even though I am already 31, have a four-year old daughter. This decision is turning my world upside down. And recently, I changed from Status “It’s complicated”; to Status “divorcee“. I am having a sleep over with my friends from…

via Meet My Best Friend: Rich and Fearless — Olivia’s New Life

This week, I’m reblogging something a bit different. Like most of reblogs, Vanessa is a member of the UK Parent Bloggers Facebook group, but this is not your average parent blog. Vanessa writes about Olivia Adele, a fictional character, but her life events are based on a true story. She is a separated mother who is pursuing her dream of becoming a doctor, which comes with many pitfalls, struggles and hopes. I found this blog to be an interesting read, and I’d recommend checking it out.