Posted on

JustClaire the beginning…

So this is it I’ve finally set up the page to host my bits of art. I’ve been collecting ‘things’ from beaches and lagoons across the world for years and years and never really knew why.  Then one day I started playing with them and making designs…. popped a frame on and amazingly others quite liked them.

A bit of encouragement later and JustClaire was born, please have a browse through my bits and bobs and if anything takes your fancy please let me know. Alternatively if you would rather I created something specific let me know the remit, i.e. Anniversary, birthday, birth, wedding, graduation….or just family and I’ll send you pictures of mock ups until we get to something you really like.

I use shells, driftwood, twigs, pebbles, sea glass. seafans, amongst many other items I’ve found. I mix it up so a picture could have coral from Belize, sea burger from Cayman, wood from the New Forest, glass from Miami…whatever looks nice.

I can usually have the piece ready in a couple of days so happy to work to urgent orders too.

I hope you like JustClaire and find something that perfectly suits your needs!

Posted on

Well Done, Sister Suffragettes!

There is so much in the news these days about united women, and standing together like it s a new thing.  It’s not, it’s just more public now and more respected.  From #MeToo & #TimesUp, to celebrating 100 years of the women’s vote. It is out there now, but some women have been standing united for a very long time.

The ‘day job’ recently asked which women inspired us, and someone I work with said Mrs Banks from Mary Poppins, and I couldn’t agree more…   Although I was only young, at 8yrs old tv was very limited so watching Mary Poppins over and over on VHS, was a weekend ritual.  Whilst she only had a small part, it was massive in my vision of womanhood.  Even at the turn of the 20th century, when women were supposed to do as their husbands said, she stood forth and fought for the women’s vote, Mr Bank’s so wrapped up in himself he didn’t even know what she was doing…”Our daughter’sdaughter’s will adore us as we sing in grateful chorus….Well done sistersuffragettes“.


“Our daughtersdaughters…..”, so forward thinking, and yes we do adore you, thank you ladies.

Another influential woman in my life, will have no idea of the effect she had on me.   I had just returned to work after my first born, and as the head of the bank I worked in, I didn’t think she knew me.  It turns out she did, and welcomed me back from maternity leave with real gusto.  She then went on to say how she handled motherhood saying, she would work till midnight if required, but she would always have breakfast with her children.    In that one statement she told me it was ok to be a mum, and work hard, and you could do both, but set yourself rules and make sure you stick to them.  Thank you Sarah Deaves, you  empowered my career with that one conversation, more than you know.


Some of you may know I went to boarding school for eight years, but you may not realise it was an all girls school.  At the time it was hell, in my teenage prime with no boys to show off to, but in hindsight, it was just what I needed.  There was no differentiator between men and women, girls and boys.  Just between girls.   We were each others competition, and whilst we didn’t play football or rugby, we did all the male subjects, and in fact thrived in them without boundaries.  My favourite subjects at school were physics, biology & maths, I loved cross country running, high jump and tennis.   Ahh Fernhill….(long since closed)


In fact the first time I really encountered a male ego was at 16 when I was entered into a regional tennis competition and paired with a boy I had never met before, for the mixed doubles.

Our first time playing together was 3 mins after we met, in competition conditions.  Needless to say we didn’t do very well and were knocked out in the first round.  However as good a tennis player as I was I left feeling it was all my fault.  The only reason I took that away with me was because in his 16yr old tantrum at losing he shouted that it was because I was rubbish, and he should have been paired with someone better….  I held that with me for a long time, and it did affect my tennis in years to come.  I was not rubbish, my long term best friend and I were doubles champions for many years and played for the county frequently, but I left that day thinking I had let him down.


It was only years later I reassessed the situation and realised what a pratt he was.  Until then I did not understand how different girls and boys were, or at least were brought up to be.

My whole life, I have been the eldest, attended an all girls school from 10, flying across the atlantic alone from 11 yrs old. First summer job at 13, then annually thereafter.  Driving at 17, uni, and then full time work.  No one ever made me feel inferior to be female.  In fact my dad gave me the option of four careers; doctor, lawyer, architect, or banker.  I was always destined to be independent.

Don’t get me wrong, I have had my share of #MeToo scenarios.  At uni I had a very inappropriate conversation with the Student Loans Officer, and in my first year at the current workplace a colleague cupped his hand in an entirely inappropriate place.   In 2006 I worked in a company so male dominated I kept a book of all the comments that were made towards me and my team of females.

After an unfortunate early miscarriage, I was asked by my then boss if it was planned.  I confirmed the miscarriage hadn’t been planned but the pregnancy most certainly had been.  He frowned and quickly suggested I needed to work a few more years with them before I was allowed to have children so not to try again too soon….

The situations go on, too many to recount.  The only thing each have in common is I didn’t stand for any of it.  Even at 19 at Uni I stood my ground.  The Student Loans officer lost his job, as did the ‘cupper’.   I spoke up immediately every time, because I knew it was not appropriate, and I would have done that had I been male or female.  It was how I was raised.

There is so much at the moment about inappropriate comments in the workplace, and they are all disgusting, women shouldn’t have to put up with them.  However you cannot change how people behave towards you, only how you react.

In all the scenarios mentioned above I had boyfriends who were raised properly by strong women.  They were more disgusted with the men’s actions that I was.  I was lucky I was supported, but I also knew myself what was wrong…again I was lucky to have been raised this way.


So this message is for the women who don’t know that.  Who were perhaps brought up in a slightly different way or who know their worth but are afraid to speak out.  We are all equal, we all deserve to feel comfortable in our surroundings, but we need to demand that.  We cannot expect it to be handed to us – we are not quite there yet. You must respect yourself first and foremost.

We hear everywhere about men in the workplace pledging to be fairer to women in business – are you serious??  We shouldn’t even be talking about it, just do it, and if you don’t we’ll come for you.  No one pledges to treat men fairer, or make sure we have more boys taking up sewing.  Please can we just get on with what we each like doing without prejudice.

I don’t care if you are male, female, transgender, short, tall, disabled, LGBT, muslim, jewish, vegetarian or obsessed with the Kardashians.  If I work with you, work hard with me, if I am friends with you, treat me well and we’ll get on just fine.  Screw me over or say something you really shouldn’t and brace yourself.  It is not about being fair to women, or to minorities, its about being a bloody decent human being to everyone.

We owe it to our daughters and sons to make sure they know this for all our future generations.  My boys are proud of me because I am a strong woman.  Not because I have been hurt, or am a victim, or because I am fighting for something, but just because I am a strong human being.  We are all strong, we need to stop apologising for who we are, and just be nice to each other without comment or judgment in either direction.

“Well done, sistersuffragettes!!” you started something amazing. However, now all ladies, gentlemen, children (and aliens) we all need to continue their work….. together.

Posted on

‘Mothers Day’ letter to my boys

Dear boys

The all encompassing feeling you experience being a mother and parent is indescribable. Everyone tells you this when you are pregnant, but until you can actually call yourself a parent you can never know.

Having babies is wonderful, but having two little boys is simply awesome, so I want to take this mothers day to thank you for the gift that keeps on giving.

Thank you both for your innocence, your unstoppable questions, your wondrous minds and their unconstrained thoughts.  Every day you ask me something that makes me laugh, smile, wince or question my own understanding.  I wish I could box your youthfull minds and remind you of these when you are 40yrs old and more judgemental of the world.

IMG_2595.JPGI love your total lack of discrimination and your disgust when I explain its meaning.  Colour, religion, sexual preference, disability, height, wealth, is not even something you see.  How wonderful it is to observe you accepting of everyone in every circumstance, many adults could learn a great deal from watching you.

Thank you for your desire to please.  Yes, you can both be little buggers and thoroughly exhausting, but you wouldn’t be my boys without an occasional challenge.  The way you can reflect, apologise and amend your behaviour when you understand it has hurt me or someone else, is commendable for your young ages.  All children are naturally selfish and this is accepted, but you both surprise me with your willingness to share your last chocolate, or compromise with friends over toys or games.  Your desire to please your dad and I with your school work, makes us so proud, and will serve you so well in later years, but you’ll not appreciate that now, but I thank you for it.


I could not be prouder of your politeness.  Always saying ‘Good afternoon” to your teachers when you leave school, rarely missing a thank you, always remembering a please.  Then there is your loving natures.  You both always ask how my day was, and ask why it was good or bad.  You hug me and your dad when it’s been tough, and you encourage family hugs to ensure everyone is included.  You both tell me you love me in a variety of ways throughout the day and never go to bed without giving me at least 3 kisses each.

I love the way you remember all the silly things I tell you to make you better and stronger people.  Noah I know you store these on your hands, and can recite them at any time.   The fact you genuinely think I am wise and live by our family lessons, enthrals me.

I thank you for still holding my hand, and telling me how nice I look.  Theo for your clothes, makeup and jewellery sense.  Noah for just noticing a slight haircut or change in lipstick –  never ever stop this.

I love your love of nature and all things simple, I pray one day I will be able to surround you with a life full of simplicity, beauty and nature.


I especially love your brotherly connection.  To an observer you fight and struggle and bicker, but internally you are thicker than thieves.  If anyone crosses the other (including me) you have each others back.  That support and bond can never be bought, don’t ever let it go, you will always be brothers, nothing else matters….

I love the fact you try all my cooking, dance with me on a Friday night, and are never afraid if I ask you to trust me….

I could go on and on about how you delight me every day, but ultimately I want to tell you that being your mum is all I want to be, it has made me whole and I would chose you over everything in my life.  When you get older and find me tedious and embarrassing I will cling to these times, and know deep down you’re still in there, and hope that the grounding we have shared will if nothing else, make sure you are the best grown up a man can be.

I am already envious of your future wives, but know if you continue as you are you’ll not only chose an awesome partner, but you’ll not forget us parents and your family will continue to be the most important part of your lives, as it is mine and your dad’s currently.

I love you boys, you are simply fabulous and I want you to always be proud of yourselves, trust in yourselves and in your immense capability.  No one is better than you, but you are not better than anyone else… awesome, be caring and be forever my babies.

Mummy xxxx

Posted on

To drink or not to drink…

I think it is strange the personal relationships we each have with alcohol. Every one of us feel differently about it and about its effects, through past experiences, our upbringing, life choices, and we all have very different reasons for our thoughts towards a drink or seven…

I won’t lie, I love it. I love the feeling of reward I get from it, I’m sure many psychologists around the world would be concerned with that statement alone. It’s a totally self developed reward, a bit like cigarettes used to be in the ‘olden days’. I treat myself to a G&T (or four) after a hard week, a glass of red goes with a labour of love roast, in fact as I type I am sitting on the toilet watching the boys in the bath with a glass of crisp white…after a long play date with the boy’s friends.

It is also of course a celebration, a congratulation, a nice to get together again, a start of a holiday, an end to a holiday, a commiseration, a sad goodbye, a nice sunny summer day…a cold winter afternoon, in fact I can pretty much align some kind ‘event’ to every time I have a drink, and for some reason that is important, like I have to justify putting the substance down my throat.

I have some very good friends who don’t drink at all for various reasons; fitness, addiction, health, cancer recovery, family history, all of which I totally understand, but I don’t think I could ever say never again, and I know I am very lucky that I don’t have to. I keep fit, I have recovered from cancer (so far) and I like to think I’m relatively healthy, but all of this I cleverly balance with the allowance of the bad stuff.

It does make me smile though; that depending on the company you share the occasion with, the effects of alcohol on you is either a badge of honour or shame to bear.

‘Cheers! Salute! Prost!” all indicate a celebration of drinking ‘together’. Yet some people are the first to tell you you were drunk as if it were a bad thing, they just can’t help themselves.

They usually pipe up after a very heavy night, in which you would have fully intended getting drunk. Otherwise why were you all buying each other round after round in celebration of the ‘night out’? To stay sober?

During the night when you are all together, it’s all joy, cocktails and shots (not me for many years thankfully!). The non-drinkers tend go home early as the drinking group morph into repetitive bores, but these drinkers push through, comrades in battle of the much anticipated night out.

Until the next day when the ‘shaming’ begins…

“You were wasted last night!”, “How’s YOUR head today?”, ‘You went from fine to a bin in a matter of minutes…!”, “Mate, what were you drinking last night?”

This then causes people to deny being drunk, like they didn’t intend to get tipsy on the 3rd tequila shot! “Me? No I’m just tired mate.”, “Didn’t have that much, you drank more!”, “I must have had a bad pint”.

Unless of course you were all smashed together, then it’s a competition for who has the worst hangover….!

This weird set of rules confuses me. On the very rare occasion we go on a night out and we each buy 4 rounds, I will be drunk. I will be much more vocal than usual, and will probably wave my arms more than usual. If that is not allowed or something to be ashamed of can we change the night out rules…?

Since having the boys I don’t get many ‘passes’, so when I do have one I have to make the most of it. Anyone who has had children knows your capacity for the poison reduces. So with two children, add a year of chemo to that and you have me…. Of course this has its consequences and has resulted in a dislocated elbow, a few train journeys to the end of my line, a number of stories and various nicknames. Fortunately, as I said, these nights are very infrequent!

That said I have had some of the best nights out on those occasions, and apologies to my friends, but I wouldn’t have changed them for anything.

I have also had some of the best nights in after spontaneously cracking open a bottle of wine, or then there are a couple of cold beers on the beach…it’s not all excessive.

There is also the opposite problem which confuses me more.  This new years eve, we had friends over for dinner and however hard I tried, I could not get drunk.  It was 2 in the morning when I finally went to bed, and I remember every second of the night, I was so disappointed. The next day my friend and I couldn’t work it out…what was wrong with me?

Surely I should be proud I didn’t prance about waving my arms in some crazy dance move whilst ringing in 2018. Alas, I was more upset I had failed on my mission for a good New Years drink up!

I know some of you don’t drink at all, and I know some of you don’t drink very much, and I can be with you. In fact Monday to Thursday I am usually a tea, coffee and water girl (yes that makes me a binger apparently), but friends and colleagues, next time you are out, whether you are drunk not, be nice to each other the next day…. Trust me the ‘drunk‘ person is already feeling rough, probably a bit emotional, so the last thing they need is you pointing out their inebriated antics unless you too were heavily involved… (Avatar story allowed Lana…!)

Say instead “what a great night we had, so funny, well worth the £300!!”

Just like Thumper said, “if you cannot think of anything nice to say don’t say nothing at all”. And for those drunks, own it my love!!

For the record I couldn’t care less what you say to me the next day. On the very rare occasion I go out to get drunk, I will own the fact I succeeded, I may even be proud of it….

So “cheers”, let your hair down, but most importantly allow others to let theirs down.

Posted on

Patience really is a virtue….

However much I know this, I cannot seem to learn this lesson!!  It kills me to take things slowly and have patience ….I am learning, or trying to, I know my actions feel efficient but end up usually in an epic fail.

Last week started with 18 months of my work, networking, designing and negotiating what I consider to be a fabulous training programme for my day job, being cancelled by one email, from one man, more senior to me in what can only be described as a Lord Farquaad moment.


It felt like my life’s work (ok a bit dramatic) was being spitefully taken off me for no clear or decisive reason. I had followed policy, received approval at the given stages, negotiated a great deal, tried and tested the modules, had the approval of my whole exec board, but someone in a higher place didn’t like that they didn’t know about it, and effectively pulled the plug, insisting I do not proceed and obtain a refund for any monies paid.

It took me two days working from home (going into the office may well have been career suicide) and a weekend to refocus myself and get back on the horse. Execs within the business were hugely supportive and each told me to wait for the dust to settle, then I could move forward.

The problem is you see, I cannot really work like that. I am a fixer, some say a doer.. Something in my control was broken so I needed to fix it, it was the only way I could get moving forward again….

So last Monday with most of my frustration out of my system I started unravelling my 18 months work….then that same day at 4pm I get an email “I have just met with Lord Farquaad” (name obviously altered for story telling purposes)….”can I update you?”.

Not quite ready for more news on my epic fall from grace, I was thankful to have to rush home to collect the boys and postpone the catch up until the next morning.  So Tuesday morning slightly nervous, I was given the news “looks like we are back on, he’s fine so long as we frame it right…” WHAT?

If only I had had the patience to wait as I was told to… I needed to unravel my unravelling!!  Pause and breathe Claire…..


I get this impatience from my mother.  Never one to wait long for anything, rushing into everything with great passion, drive and excitement.   Between us we have bought random pets, houses in Cyprus, fostered tens of dogs, moved countries at least 7 times, started new businesses  and taken an array of qualifications.  Spontaneous we call it, the hubby would say more ‘Reckless’.

We have been looking to buy her a house near me for months, every time either of us see one we like, it’s drop everything, view it, make an offer and wait….we have tried and tested this process and failed at every opportunity.  Eventually mum said just buy anything, I need to move now.  I started looking at totally unacceptable properties, as that was all available. The hubby told me to wait, but mum needed to move.  Fortunately this time I refused to rush – I am not going through this again in a years time – this house is the last one, it has to be right….

So as if by magic this last week, the perfect little Victorian house just two roads away from me popped up for sale.  I was able to view it before anyone else (I think the agents in Ashford are sick of me!), before I said a thing to the agent, I told mum and we slept on it.  We casually mentioned it to her agents the following day, and two days later, her offer was accepted, and she finally has the house we’ve been waiting for – patience really worked….

Finally this week I was able to fill a shelf of a new shop.  I admit I ‘rushed’ into agreeing to do it, but took my time preparing and making the stock.  Saturday morning, nursing a killer hangover, I was utterly delighted that I had prepared 10 pictures especially for the shelves, even though I had been forced to be patient waiting for the shop to open…..patience works.


Just think about it, how many times have you ignored an email, only for it to be resolved 3 days later without your input?  Or not returned a phone call, only to find out two days later, they don’t need you now…..patience really is a virtue, it is also good for you, and you’ll find you save yourself a great deal of time and energy…. if only I could remember this.

So from now on, if you see or hear me rushing into something call me out on it…I have a little me sitting on my shoulder flicking my ear every time I want to jump into something, reminding me to take it slowly.

Richard Branson once said “Before you buy something, write it down on a list of ‘things to buy'”. If a month later you still really want to purchase it, then you should.  The chances are however, the moment has passed…..Lets face it he’s a billionaire, and I’m most certainly not….ahhh patience  on reflection, I think I am coming for you.


Posted on

Valentines Day even when married!!

Having been married for 12 and a half years to a man who doesn’t do Valentine’s Day I have slogged every year to get him to see the point.

Don’t get me wrong I have no interest in going out for dinner, of having an over priced bunch of red roses, I’m not even fussed with a card, but I do think it is a day when in all the madness of real life, you pause and make a little bit of time for each other.

I remember in 2004; we had just signed the mortgage on our first house, but were still living with his mum. We weren’t married and had not yet had kids together, it was just the two of us.  It was Valentine’s Day, and there was no movement, interest, or recognition from the other half, of the fact it was a day in which we should do something.  Him lying on the sofa watching football, and I bored as hell – lost the plot… “Can we not just do something today?!”….Even a stroll into the very average town for a coffee would have work for me. “Crikey, we’re not even married and the romance has gone!”, he retaliated with “I refuse to get sucked into the commercialism of Valentine’s Day, it’s for kids, idiots who get charged the earth for every day things….I love you all year around, not just on one day, I don’t see the point of it all!”

And so his teaching began….

For me it is another version of Mother’s day or Father’s Day.  In that we love them all year around too, but it makes us stop for a day and show them how much we care. We take time to get together have a nice lunch, spend the day, even if it is just at home ‘together’. Too often weeks pass us by and we don’t see each other or take the time out, so I love these days for enforcing you stop and make quality time.

Valentine’s Day is very much the same for me. I tell my hubby I love him most nights, I cook for him every night, I kiss and hug him when he comes in and always kiss him as he leaves the house.  However, on Valentine’s Day, I try make it a little more special for both of us, to remember why we married each other in the first place.

That said this year I am in Derbyshire, so last Saturday whilst he was out watching West Ham, the boys and I laid the table, the boys lit a selection of random candles, and they both helped me “make it look romantic mummy!”.

I treated us to a £20 meal for two from M&S (no hassle for me!), pink bubbles, scallops, steak and a little prosecco raspberry bomb for pudding! The boys wrote out a sign “Date night with mummy” and filled the sign with little hearts, then placed it on the table facing the door.

The lights were dimmed and when the hubby came in from the match he saw the sign and the effort, the boys were energetically excited, and escorted him into the kitchen, where the bubbles were poured… ahh relax!  (Thank god West Ham won!!)

His face had the usual “We don’t do Valentine’s” look to it, which I have learned to expect and love, but a couple of glasses in to the fizz, he began to relax and enjoy the “date”.

The boys left us alone and scurried off to watch a film in the lounge, we had a lovely 3 course meal, a bit of space and a lot of chat and all for £20.  All in all a lovely simple night, which we would not have had had it not been Valentine’s Day this week.

So sod the hubby and his prolonged rejection of this day.  I will not give up, he has had me ensure something happens every year for 15 yrs now, I do it for us but also for me, I like it….. no flowers, no card, no chocolates, just quality time for the two of us please.

I should add, we finished the date by watching Planet of the Apes with the boys, the hubby fell asleep and was in bed by 9:30…some things won’t change!

So I would suggest if you’re alone today, don’t be sad… have a hot bath, a bottle of bubbles and some chocolates to yourself.


If you are single and have kids, treat them to a nice meal with you (appletiser works as a wonderful kiddy substitute for fizz), have a date with your kids to tell them how much you love them, trust me they’ll love it, and happily reciprocate in time….


Finally, if you’re married, old, over the whole shenanigans, and too busy with normal life to bother, try turning off the tv, laying the table with your best crockery, lighting those candles and just making yourselves have a little quality time together….I’m sure you’ll both enjoy it…just try for me.

Happy valentines day, just do it your way!!💕💕💕

Posted on

The epic fail of an organised woman!!

“I’ve noticed mummy, that when one thing goes wrong, everything else that day goes wrong too….why is that?”.

“That my darling, is because mummy’s life is timed to absolute precision to ensure everyone else’s life runs smoothly, so if one thing goes wrong, everything gets knocked out of kilter…MOVE WOMAN!!!”

This, my conversation with the 9 year old at 8:55am on Friday as I am ferociously tail-gating a speed limit abider on the way to school…. very, very late.

Normal routine on a Friday is slightly different to the rest of the week, as I work from home, so can avoid the hassle of the commute to and from London.  With this extra time in the morning, I do a bit of exercise, and leave the house 30 mins later than normal un-showered, and in my gym gear.  I usually drop the boys at breakfast club in time to swing by the supermarket for my ‘click and collect’ food shopping before heading home to quickly shower and log on to work for 8/8:15.

This Friday was a little different as I had to go to the doctors for a monthly injection, but that was fine, I could follow the same routine and be at the doctors when they opened for 8:30, home by 8:40….no time lost.

It was also different to the normal Friday however, because it was NSPCC Number Day at the boys school.  A thoroughly exciting day where your children could bring in their favourite book about numbers (seriously!!) and have a great day enjoying numbers.  BUT…. the letter I received explaining all this, also included a double negative…..and I hate a double negative…….this wouldn’t happen on a “words” day I can assure you!


I probably don’t need to tell you how my epic fail began but I will…..

The morning started as usual, the alarm went off, and after a cup of tea, I donned the exercise gear and woke the boys up.

“Dress down day today boys!!” – their uniform was already washed and in the dryer from the day before (#organised!).  The youngest being the fashion victim he was, spent ages choosing his outfit and doing his ‘Friday’ hair.  The eldest simply dressed in what I had laid out for him.

As the boys were tucking into their breakfast I told them we had half an hour before school – mummy was just doing a quick burn on the exercise bike.  As they were used to this, they simply carried on eating and relaxed before school.

7:45am, I was done, time to grab the  boys and run…. In the car, traffic not great but manageable.  We get to school in time for the end of breakfast club and 40 mins before school starts.  But the first child I spied was in full school uniform, then the second, then as I looked through the window at all the kids in breakfast club, yes to my amazement  they were in uniform….bugger, bugger, BUGGER!

In the reception I asked the teachers, “It is dress down day today isn’t it?  You know for numbers day?” (even as I said it, it sounded ridiculous!)   I’d even encouraged the youngest wear a t-shirt with numbers on it, ffs!!!.  “No why would it be dress down?” was their reply in unison…

“Oh well boys, mummy will go and get your uniform and bring it in after my appointment…in you go, don’t worry mistakes happen”.

By this time the eldest was already crying.  So embarrassed by his erroneous attire, he was utterly ashamed.  Before I knew it he was back at the car, hiding from all his friend’s attention at the window. 8:10am crap….. ok I have time…

“Ok quick back in the car boys, run….!!”

Racing like a crazed manic back to our house, smack bang into morning rush hour… the frustration in me building.  The eldest was sobbing, mortified that his friends had seen him, the youngest just devastated he couldn’t wear his new trendy jacket to school.

I had to drive straight past the supermarket, where right about now I was due to collect our weekly shop. … 8:20 stuck in traffic, I emailed the school from my phone,  realising I would have to take the boys to the doctors with me, explaining they may be late for school, but I’d do my best……

8:25am, in the house, I stripped the boys in the hallway grabbed their uniforms from the dryer, threw on their clothes, school shoes, and school coats, and was back in the car 3 minutes later…..quick to the Doctors!!!

“Mummy, my sleeve feels wet”…..bugger!

The traffic was horrendous, I took every short cut I knew, and kept hitting the path of school buses, and school run mums cruising through their usual steady routine.  I got to the doctors, 5 minutes late, but then couldn’t park, so by the time I dragged the boys through the door, my appointment had gone – “Sorry we just couldn’t wait, if you hang around she’ll squeeze you in but it could be 20 mins or so” – Agh agh agh, decisions!!!

Ok – drop the boys and get back for 20 mins……”Boys car now!!”

It was now 8:42am, the boys school drop off closed in 3 mins….maybe possible.  The eldest was still worried his friends would say something, so I was trying to calm his nerves, whilst failing at calming my own….

“Move woman!! Oh my god, you’re in the wrong lane! Put your foot down you silly cow, Go! Go go go!!! FFS!!!”    This is when we had our chat about how everything goes wrong together…

We finally got to school at 8:56, the office let me in and quickly hurried the boys into assembly like nothing had happened….phew.

Back to the doctors, again hitting the same rush hour traffic I had now been battling for over an hour.  By now the surgery was heaving….nope my chance of being seen gone till 3:30.  Satisfied I had something for later, I left pondering the conversation I’d had with the eldest only moments earlier.


As a working mum, every single thing I do is planned to perfection.  Spontaneity has had to be put to one side for things to work like clockwork, or at least work!

In order to fit it all in, things have the be in order, methodical, and logical. The drive to the boys school hits a dual carriageway onto which you can only go right, so everything before that turning must be done on the way to school, and thus everything after the turning done on the way home.  Last Friday I was on a vicious cycle, going around and around, missing all my crucial stop off points.  One thing went wrong, then every single thing after it fell apart.

Ironically, on the way home from collecting the shopping I saw 2 magpies dancing in the roundabout – two for joy they say…

I finally logged onto work only 20 mins after 9, I had managed to secure another doctors appointment on the same day (impossible normally), I’d collected the weekly shop, I had had a quick burn on the bike and the boys were both in school, not in non-uniform (who says that?!), and no longer embarrassed by their mothers epic fail – Joy indeed!!

Note to all teachers out there, please help crazy busy women like me……if it’s not a non-uniform day, how about you just don’t say anything,…you have no idea the butterfly effect that can happen with such a tiny detail mis-read.

So busy ladies, I want you all to know; yes, we all balls it up once in a while, but they are still breathing and they don’t hate us, and that is what counts, doesn’t it??!!


Posted on

We must make it happen….

We all do it, sadly more often than we should.  We see old friends and say ‘We must get together”, we see family and agree we need to do more together.  Even our own partners and children, we promise to do more quality things together, date nights etc, but before you know it another year has rolled around, and we still have not done what we said we would.

We must make more effort to make it happen, so how do we keep those promises…..?

Some people have near death or life threatening experiences, and suddenly have an epiphany, then begin to live life more fully.  They craft themselves a bucket list and start sporadically racing through it.  For their friends and family it can be quite exhausting.  Mostly these passengers have not experienced the same life changing moment, and are simply dragged along for a ride they didn’t ask for.  The poor hubby at the end of 2016 begged me for a slower 2017.  Being ten years older than me, my own bucket list was starting to kill him off…..Stockholm, marathon, festival (in a camper van with kids), Barbados, new job, small business start up, Iceland…..


You can sleep when you’re dead, supposedly, but I have also learnt, a bit of rest whilst living does help!

2017 was therefore much calmer for both of us, (or maybe the hubby was getting used to the pace!).  My bucket list is still nice and long, but it is much less selfish.  It is now more about ‘who’ rather than ‘what’.  This is a fairly recent thing, it seemed to happened organically throughout 2017.  It was only really this past Friday, at my mother-in-law’s funeral, when I really understood this, and realised how much sense it all made.

I have always loved my mother-in-law’s family.  There were ten siblings, brought up in a tiny house in Ireland.  My mother-in-law was the eldest, and the youngest is only ten years older than the hubby.  Most of them have kids, some grandkids, and some even have great grandkids.

This summer we happened to ‘bump’ into one of the hubby’s Spanish cousins whilst in Mallorca.  Her beautiful children were the same age as my boys, and they bonded immediately.  Their bloodline connection so obvious to them, they were instantly thick as thieves, and showed us adults how important family are, even if you have never met them before.


We also had a fabulous time last year with my cousins from the states.  Two separate visits from different cousins.  Each time slotting in like old friends, and talking for hours, laughing, sharing stories, and even tackling a roller coaster or two!

Earlier in the year my brother had flown over from the states to surprise my mum on her birthday, and my other cousins joined us for the celebration….again as easy and natural as life long friends reunited.


Then we had our bi-annual family gathering on my husband’s father’s side in October.  80 of us in a country house for three days.  Plenty of food, drink, laughter and of course fancy dress karaoke!!  All these people, part of our family, but more importantly the boy’s bloodline.  Again the boys immediately bonded with all the children, and were quickly heard running around the grounds calling each other ‘Cuz’.


So this Friday when so many of my hubby’s family made the trip to Ashford for the funeral, we were once again reminded how fabulous family can be.  There is an immediate commonality, a familiarity.  You don’t need to apologise for who you are, how you speak, act, or more importantly how your children act.  We were all there to say goodbye to my mother-in-law, and all had our own wonderful stories about her.  What amazed me the most, was how much they had all talked to each other over the years and how much they, and we already knew about each others lives.

With sadness we said goodbye to them after only a day of hurriedly catching up.  We have promised to do more gatherings and try to avoid waiting for funerals to regroup.  We know we all say it, but this time I really don’t want it to pass by.

The boy’s, were thoroughly delighted to meet all of Nanny’s sisters and two of her brothers…..(the Irish generosity helped!!), but the fact they all resembled Nanny, and loved the boys unconditionally, it honestly felt like rather than losing their precious Nanny, they had gained a whole lot more!!


So to my extended family on my husband’s side, but also all the lovely my family on my side, I’m coming for you in 2018…..brace yourself, this is the year of making it happen….  We need to be in touch more, make time for a random coffee, or a lunch when we are near.  I want to ask you all about your family, because it is my family and some day we won’t have the time to do it.  So whilst we are all healthy and alive, let’s just make it happen!  I know I am blessed to have such a large, loving family, so it’s time I made the most of them….


Posted on

Sibling rivalry…”This is war!!”

Lucky as I am to have both a brother and a sister, there is no secret in the fact I went to boarding school at ten, when my sister was six and my brother two. I came home in the holidays, but the age difference and the separation for nine months of every year meant I did not really know them growing up.

When I finally left Uni at 21yrs old they were both still at school themselves, so even into adulthood we had long distance relationships.  I am pleased to say we are close now, but as grown ups, so this ‘sibling rivalry thing’, doesn’t happen…

I am now therefore experiencing something I have never felt before, or had the misfortune to experience. (I cannot however talk for my siblings they may have felt this towards me as children, but did not show it).

My nine year old is perfect in my eyes. He is completely innocent, loves all things nature, doesn’t yearn for material things, clothes, shoes, toys. He has a Wii he rarely plays, he couldn’t think of anything for his Christmas list, and when he got his iPad 2, (refurbished), he couldn’t speak, he was literally speechless. Then said “I don’t think I deserve all this”.

When we go abroad, he is my beach combing buddy. We could walk for hours finding things, learning about nature, with nothing more than a pair of shorts and suntanned backs.  He remembers everything, I tell him, sucks it all in….

This week as we were driving east towards his school at 7:15am, he said “Mummy, I think I love a sunrise more than a sunset. It’s so fresh and clean. I wish we lived in the Caribbean so we could watch the sunrise together every morning”…..Ahh melt! We chatted about how the sun always rises in the east and sets in the west, and so we agreed when we live abroad our home must be east facing.

The fact he and I chat like this is perfect to me, he is my little soul mate and I adore him…


I know I am biased, but that face….

Of course I also adore the six year old, but for the completely different reasons.  He is so like his father. Immaculate at every occasion, adventurous with food, charming and talkative. Very intelligent and charismatic from ear to ear. Neither have ever tried to be alike, both have their own style, their own manner and are practically perfect to me.

So this last Thursday at school was Winter Wonderland Day (you none parents have no idea what we have to go through!!!). The boys had to dress up as someone from their favourite winters film (Frozen!) or wear blue and white….. naturally with two boys who publicly despise Frozen we went blue and white.

Now the difficulty I experience finding something Spotty for them to wear during ‘Children In Need’ was nowhere in sight. Boys wear blue, this was easy!

Knowing them as I do, I laid out the youngest’s preppiest attire…..similar to this.

I also laid out an outfit for the slightly grungier older son, happy that both would be comfortable and in keeping with the theme.

The next morning started with shouting and crying from upstairs.  First the eight year old stole the youngest’s bow-tie, then the angel lapel pin.  The youngest was crying, the eldest got told off, and the teenage strop moved to the sofa until we left for school.

In the car the eldest was sulking – I hate sulking.  I asked him whether he wanted to spend the day at school having fallen out with me or whether we could be friends again in the next 6 mins.  He opted to be friends…….then started sobbing.

We arrived at breakfast club and everyone in sight commented on the youngest’s attire.  “Wow so handsome!”, “Look at you, gorgeous outfit”, “So smart, you look amazing!!”.  The eight year old, pulled his hood up and shrunk deeper into his sadness.  The six year old skipped off but my little soulmate just clung to me and silently cried….I was missing my train.

We sat in the ‘contemplation’ room, hugged and  chatted.  He hated the fact everyone loved his little brother more than him.  Everyone noticed him when he walked in, commented on him, thought he was cute, and no one ever noticed my first born.  No amount of mummy cuddles and comfort made him feel better – I’d never noticed this before – epic mother fail!!

20 mins of cajoling later, and the odd giggle, I had him back to himself, but it was hard.  Just as we were going into breakfast club, the youngest came out to meet us, and the first thing he did was hand his brother the angel lapel pin and hugged him….hard.

It is so difficult…. The eldest just wants to be cute and the youngest just wants the eldest to be friends with him.  I’m glad I didn’t experience this myself, but it may have given me an insight in how to handle the rollercoaster of emotions from them.IMG_1955

By the time I collected them that afternoon, they were best friends again.  Since this happened, we have kicked, punched, hugged, laughed, smothered, tickled, pushed, teased and cried constantly.

IMG_2720It has not affected them or their relationship in the slightest, they are thick as thieves.  In fact the only person who seems to remotely suffer from this sibling rivalry is me….ahhh the joys of motherhood!!


Posted on

Embracing Change

There is one thing for certain, as well as the fact death comes to all of us, change inevitably happens all the time, and usually when we are least expecting it.  Change you instigate yourself has a element of control, want and desire, but when change is thrust upon you, it can knock you for six.

A number of my dear friends and work colleagues after last week are facing a change of employment status.  Some at their request, some unrequested and un-welcomed.  All of them however are looking into the future and seeing change.

I’ve had many a personality assessment done over the years, but recently had one called Spotlight, with Mindflick (the pig wrestling company), and they very clearly defined me, as being most vulnerable when I am succeeding.  This could not be more true.  It is almost like I allow myself to get carried away with success and then ‘BOSH!’ something comes from left field which I wasn’t expecting.  This I know, is how some of my friends are feeling at the moment.

I am very lucky in that I have never been made redundant.  I have however had breastcancer, and that seriously came when we least expected.  I’d just been promoted, had a new baby, bought a new house, the hubby secured a new job with a much higher salary, we’d bought a lovely new enormous car, then ‘POP’, the bubble burst.

Fortunately the hubby and I are both very pragmatic and have never dwelled on the reason or cause.  We simply drew a line and said right how do we fix this.  We fixed it.  The house got renovated, we re-mortgaged to afford the car, and I was finally on the mend……Then “BOOM!” it side swept us from left field again, but this time the hubby was made redundant.  He had been there less than two years, so there was no big handshake goodbye…..just no job in the future.

Strangely this one was harder to deal with.  With cancer of any sort, but particularly breastcancer, you are smothered with attention.  How to fix it, medication urgency, new drugs, support groups.  You also accept that you didn’t really cause it (although I do love a drink, and alcohol has a very strong link), and other than losing a bit of hair, in theory if you come out the other end, you can go back to normal.

When you are told by your employer that they don’t actually need you any more, whatever they claim the reason, it is impossible not to take it personally.  “Why me and not him?” “Did I not do a good job?”, “Have I not been loyal?”, “What did I do wrong?”.

Even with all those questions, the burning feeling inside is “They chose not to keep me…”.


The logical you know’s it is a numbers game, but the emotional you is just a little bit heartbroken.

How you deal with it however, is the ONLY thing you can control.  It is a cycle of course; hurt, misery, anger, determination, courage and strength, but to get to strength you need to run through the other emotions first.  How fast you can do this, will be the thing that makes the difference to your recovery.


Change comes in all forms; illness, separation, redundancy, and then those you chose yourself, relocation, new job, new career, new relationship.  The difference with the latter is you bypass the hurt, misery and anger stages – and it feels better.

I have never yet met a person who was made redundant who didn’t eventually say it was the best thing that happened to them.  I have never met someone after a bad breakup, who didn’t finally say thank god it happened, and I personally can tell you that having cancer at 37 was the best thing that could have happened to me, it was enough to make me appreciate every single day of my life, and make changes for the better now, not tomorrow or next year. I know I was very lucky.

So to my wonderful friends out there who have had change forced upon them; firstly, I am sorry, it’s shit.  Secondly try to embrace this…. Draw the line in the sand, make this the time to do that thing you have always wanted too.  I know some of you have very young families, and large mortgages, all of this is manageable, you have your health and you have the love of your families and friends.  Companies are corporate entities and are designed to make money. You are a human being and designed to live life and have fun.  Embrace those around you, thank the universe for pushing you out of your comfort zone, and try to find that dream you buried years ago, then go for it.

Grab this change people, with both hands.  You cannot stop it happening to you, but the journey you take dealing with it, is all about you….. Good luck, and please keep in touch….I am excited for you, and cannot wait to see what you become…trapeze artist, painter, pilot……


My dream… day not to far away…..!


Posted on

We need an Exorcist…

I’ll warn you, this blog may give you shivers, or if nothing else, it will make you wonder….

One weekend, when my stepdaughter was about 3 years old we were staying with my mother-in-law. Everyone was sleeping soundly, then at about 6am, she came thundering into our room, crying and screaming “Piggy!! Piggy!! PIGGGGY!!!”.  She launched herself into bed with us and between tears of horror, explained her baby nightmare about there being a large pig in the room next door to her.

The hubby calmed her down, saying there were absolutely no pigs in the house, just her family and she was quite safe.  Unconvinced, but safe in his arms, she settled down.

Then we heard it…..”Snrrrkk! Snnrrrrk!  Snnnnnnrrrrrrkkkkk!”.

We looked directly at each other, immediately twigged what had terrified her, and then burst out laughing.  We had never laughed so much, bless her she hadn’t a clue.  My mother-in-law (Nanny) was in the room next to her’s and was ‘sleeping’……very loudly….

That story has been retold on many occasion and was a firm favourite with everyone.  Especially Rita, who roared with laughter every time she re-called how she had terrified her 3 year old granddaughter.

That little girl is now 16 years old and this Christmas, her night terror was stepped up a few notches.

My stepdaughter loves a horror movie, has done for years.  For her 16th birthday the hubby took her to see The Exorcist Live and whilst she doesn’t scare easily, she was well and truly disturbed this Christmas.

It was four days after Christmas, 5:15am. In the house was myself, the hubby, my Mum, my stepson (18), stepdaughter, and our two boys. All the boys were on the top floor sharing a room. Everyone was sleeping soundly, the house was completely silent, and it was dark as midnight outside.

Suddenly, out of nowhere there was the most ear piercing, high pitched, terrifying scream. It woke the hubby and I up immediately and he sprinted out of the room to check on the kids. Naught to sixty in 5 seconds. Then it happened again. Louder, longer and more blood curdling than before.

I was bolt upright in bed, wide eyed when the hubby came back in and calmly said “It’s your mother, and now she is talking some language backwards, you need to go in and check on her”.

Not a flipping chance in hell! (Sorry Mum!). I had visions of her bolt upright in bed with her head on backwards!!

The screaming stopped, as had her talking, and calm resumed, but then we saw a moving light on the landing,

I went to the bedroom door and spied the two eldest boys and my stepdaughter huddled together by the toilet door….when they turned and saw my silhouette the fear in their eyes was clear.

The first scream had woken them, the stepdaughter immediately texted her brother “What the hell was that??!!”, who rapidly responded “No idea, but terrified!”. They’d agreed to accompany each other to the toilet, as everyone knows, in horror movies being is a crown crowds is safest.

Needless to say we couldn’t sleep after that, although it seemed my mum had not stirred at all. How could that not have woken her?

Slightly concerned she may not be alive, I opened her door to hear her breathing peacefully, oblivious to the chaos she had created.

A couple of hours later, I took a cup of tea into my ‘possessed’ mother, who was completely normal. My eldest joined me and regaled her in the tale. “Grandma, it was completely HORRIFYING!”.

Her and I were both laughing so much at his rambling description, he was right of course, it was horrifying!! She remembered something and nothing about the whole event.

About half an hour later, I was off to drive the husband to the station for work, and I asked my eldest to check on Grandma whilst I was out, to make sure she was dressed and ready to go when I returned.

His face was fabulous! “Are you joking!” He said wide eyed and utterly disgusted at the suggestion. It’ll take a while before he lets Grandma babysit again…

We now have a new nightmare story to tell. We’ve all agreed that the only way you can possibly make that sound (twice) whilst sleeping on your back, would be if you were possessed!! Which would explain the random speech afterwards. Of course it all makes perfect sense…..

Sorry Mum, inclusion in the blog is a perk of being my mother, too good not to tell, thank you, love you!

Never a dull moment in our home. Sleep well…

Posted on

The most magical moment!!

If you have read my blog recently you will know that we, (probably I) lost the youngest much loved “Blankie” in October half term and life in our household has not been the same since.

After the initial shock of driving five and a half hours back to Kent from Preston and realising Blankie wasn’t with us, the youngest seem to get over it relatively quickly.  My friend and I on the other hand were texting, calling and emailing anyone and everyone we had come into contact with.  My friend even went to the B&B to check the room herself – Nada.  No one had (or admitted to having) Blankie.  I have my suspicions that it was left in the back of a taxi, (maybe by me after too many gins) and the driver simply binned it, but who knows.

A week went by and whilst I was chatting to the youngest he asked when Blankie would be home.  Without thinking I flippantly said “Ah never buddy!  You’ve (probably I’ve) well and truly lost Blankie forever”…..  Oh dear, then the sobbing started, and the gin mummy guilt kicked in.

He couldn’t believe Blankie was actually gone, never to be seen again, ever.  Blankie had been his best friend since birth.  We had never gone anywhere without it, all our friends knew Blankie, our neighbours, our family, he was part of the fabric of our family (excuse the pun!), it was like losing a limb, or a loved family pet.

Weeks went by and the sobbing subsided, but every now and then he would come to me for a cuddle and to let me know he still really missed Blankie.  On the days he wasn’t showing sadness the eldest was quick to antagonise him….”You didn’t love Blankie at all!!”,  “You’ve not cried about him for ages, you’ve just forgotten him!”.  Cue tears from the youngest….and frustrated anger from me at the eldest for starting him off again.

I had to do something….

Blankie had been bought by my mum in Arizona, nine years earlier in Walmart.  In other words, there was no chance of buying a new one.  It was like trying to re-buy a t-shirt you’d bought your three yr old in Sainsburys nine years ago…

I took to Google just in case….scanning by image; Boys blue fleece blanket, boys fleece blanket, baby boy blue fleece blanket, Walmart plane blanket, boy vehicle blanket Walmart…… I tried every variation I could – Nothing….I looked for over an hour.

A few days later, re-energised, I had another quick look: Boys car, helicopter, plane, blue fleece Walmart blanket…..BINGO!!!

Got to love eBay !!


It was Blankie! It was used, but it had to be to be realistic.  I bought it immediately and paid more for the postage than the actual blanket, but crikey it was worth it.

It took three and a half weeks to get Blankie in through the front door, and as soon as I opened it, I was overwhelmed with emotion.  I secretly washed it in our washing powder, and then decided to hide it so Santa could be the hero on this occasion –  I thought it may be a nice touch, to keep the magic alive, especially for the eldest who is heavily suspicious of the old man’s realism.

It nearly killed me keeping it a secret.  Everything else faded into insignificance, I was like the little boy in the first John Lewis Christmas Advert.  I could not wait for Christmas morning for him to open it, and see his little face.

Then as the build up to Christmas intensified, we sadly and unexpectedly lost my mother-in-law.  The whole house was devastated so I explained about white feathers, and how now that “Nanny Fan” was in heaven, every time we saw a white feather, it was from her angel wings, and it meant she was with us.  The youngest loved this idea and for the next 3 days found them everywhere.  Every time he found one he would give it to his dad, or put it on his dad’s pillow to try to cheer him up….it was very special to watch.

So Christmas morning came, and the boys worked their way through Santa’s gifts.  Blankie was second to bottom in the sack, and with two remaining presents the youngest decided to stop for a while – AGH!!  It was killing me…..but for years I’d told the boys to pace themselves, it was now coming back to bite me!

Eventually he couldn’t wait any longer, and he started to open the special package.  I just managed to get my phone to it in time….phew!

I’ll warn you, there were tears….from both of us….short but sweet…Enjoy!

Sorry it was so short, but the boy needed a hug and the phone got dropped.  The best part for me, was a few hours later when he found a white feather attached to Blankie, and said “Mummy look, Nanny!! I bet she helped Santa find him and bring him home”

The most magical moment – my own little John Lewis Christmas advert! Gin mummy guilt gone…..

Posted on

When you least expect it….

It’s taken me two weeks to write this blog, because I’ve not really known how to express myself, or felt I should.  Which for those who know me, may seem surprising…..but this is both personal and restrictive, and not really mine to tell.

My last blog to you was all full of the joys of christmas drinking and gift wrapping, and then suddenly the atmosphere in the house changed, and we were really not expecting it….

I had gone out with my team for our Christmas party on the Wednesday night and when I got home the hubby told me his mum had once again been admitted to hospital. Neither of us thought much of it as this was her 4th visit this year, however the hubby suggested she may not be out for Christmas day, but would hopefully be out the next day.  This would give her at least one turkey dinner with us, something she’d been talking about for weeks.

The next evening he went to see her, and then came home as normal.  He went to work Friday morning, and I settled into day one of the Christmas holidays with the boys.  Then I got the phone call, she hadn’t made it through the night, and I needed to tell him. He was still on the train on his way to work, it was the hardest call I had ever had to make.  He came home a ghost, and the Christmas vibe in our house dissipated at pace.

We told the boys, who were devastated, and gradually he told his remaining extended family members.  It was 22nd December, 3 sleeps till Santa, my boys had suddenly lost their adored Nanny, and my husband had lost his very dear mum…..

We got through Christmas, with as much joy as we could muster.  I needed to keep the balance right, always remembering, but also tastefully not ruining Christmas.  We toasted every drink to her, (my god there were lots!!) and on 25th ate the turkey she had bought for us all.  Her gifts from us were under the tree, as were her cards and cheques for the grandchildren.  I printed various photos for all the kids with their Nanny and framed them, finding an extra special one for the hubby.  Of course the youngest wore his best outfit, just for her.


I personally felt her there with us every day.  She was a huge part of our family life, in particular on Sunday lunchtimes, when she would enjoy half a bottle of red and a good roast.  She’d sit watching us potter and chatter away about our lives, and this Christmas was no different.  To me anyway……the hubby is not there yet, nor do I expect him to be for some time.


We’ve not yet had the death certificate, so have not been able to plan anything, just tried to keep spirits up.  We are immensely fortunate to have some amazing friends who have rallied around and distracted the hubby in particular, but I know this will take a while.


So I’m really sorry for the delay in the blog, and I’m so sorry the first in 2018 is not the usual chirpy piece, but I would like you to take this as a reminder to hug those closest to you.  Give them a kiss before you say goodbye and remember to call them back.  You just never know if it’s the last time you’ll see or speak to them.

The last time I saw my lovely mother-in-law she was trying a jalapeno for the very first time, at 76yrs old!!  It was the tiniest piece and it blew her head off, oh how we laughed at her!!  It is a great last memory and great quality time, for me and all the kids, and I thank her for this.

I’ll be back with gusto next week, I promise, and if this past fortnight has taught me anything it’s to make the most of now, so expect  big things in 2018 – this is our year!!!  Love to all of you who have experienced similar pain this holiday, when you least expect it.  As I said to the family this Christmas, it’s your job now to “Make it count!”, don’t let them down.

Happy new year to you all!  I’m saving all the funnies till next time – I have plenty!  But for now this is dedicated to Rita….I love you ‘Reet’, you were a fabulous Nanny to my kids and an incredible mother-in-law, and I know I was the envy of many of the hubby’s friend’s wives – I got very, very lucky.

I hope you’re up there dancing a totally painless jig to a bit of Brendan Shine right now!!  Always in our hearts and at the end of our dining table drinking a vino….X