7 Blogs I’ve Half Written

7 Blogs I’ve Half Written

I’ve written posts but not finished them because of all the excuses you can imagine and some you can’t (I started an autism friendly acting club is a pretty good excuse, drinking red wine and browsing Rightmove and Pinterest – bog standard). As a result I have a massive backlog of things I’ve started to write about, here they are:

How much I love my dressing gown and why (plus famous dressing gown wearers)

Why the terrible twos can continue for years. Its down to two pieces of bad advice given by most modern parenting books.

My sister moving abroad has made me realise why I couldn’t live anywhere outside the UK. In true Buzzfeed style, its not for the reason you think…

The people who give special interventions to children who are struggling at school, protect children from violent classmates, deescalate children who are prone to violence, give hugs when needed, are always there if your child is worried or has lost their plimsoles/tooth and still find time to put up a display and do some photo copying are paid minimum wage! Any  teaching assistant would also know that the previous sentence is too long, not using an exclamation mark correctly and needs an expanded noun phrase. Discuss.

When your partner’s work kit does not ‘spark joy’. Or, the woes of being an aspiring minimalist and when it’s not OK to throw away someone’s stuff.

I’ve read all the ‘Habits of Successful People’ posts and have been making my bed every morning for a week. When will I become successful?

Well, there we are. I’m actually quite satisfied I’ve got all of these out of my system with this list but if you’re curious about any of them do let me know and I’ll see what I can do. Alternatively, if you want to take an idea and write it yourself I’m fine with that too X


When Your Child’s Teacher Hates Them

When Your Child’s Teacher Hates Them

Whilst sanding and painting my son’s bedroom floor I started thinking about how a child can be perceived entirely differently by a teacher and a parent.

As parents we are predisposed to be on our child’s side and sometimes we feel our child is being treated unfairly by a teacher. This could be true but it is very difficult to put yourself in the position of the teacher especially when you are often getting the edited version of events from your little angel.

The most important factor in this is that you love your child.

A teacher has sometimes thirty children in a class every year and there might be the odd one that they can honestly say they feel love for. The rest of them they teach and do their very best to make sure they know what the government says they should know by the end of the year. The majority of teachers will do as much as they can to make it interesting and along the way they will try to have a laugh with their class because its more pleasant to pass the working day if you can have a bit of fun with the people around you.

Some children they will start to care for because they know they might be struggling against problems at home or because they have a comical way about them that inspires warmth. Strange as it may seem they often take to the ‘naughty’ child and want to go the extra mile for them, sometimes they even see something of themselves at that age.

There are so many little personalities in a classroom but one thing will always be true in any work place…There is always one person that you can’t stand.

A teacher will always try not to let it show and will teach them day after day, but there will be one child that will haunt their dreams. It could be that cynical kid who takes pleasure in telling the others that Father Christmas doesn’t exist, or the one that spoils every ‘fun’ day by continually hitting the person next to them. But, it could just as easily be the goodie two shoes, the big headed know it all or the whiny tell tale that get’s your back up. It might be that child who’s just got a really really annoying voice!

Anyway, with this in mind I thought that every kid probably gets a turn at being hated by a teacher at some point in their school career whether they are aware of it or not. I started thinking about the annoying traits of my children and how they can sometimes get on my nerves (my son’s constant need to find puns and my daughter’s whinging were at the top of the list) Then I imagined how I would feel about them if I had to spend most of the day in their company but didn’t love them. Try it with your own child, it sparks some unusual reactions.

This also means you and I were probably hated by a teacher at some point in our school career. Which teacher gave a silent cheer when you had to have your tonsils out and more importantly, why?

When I think back its startlingly obvious, my secondary school PE teacher. She hated me and I her. I not only had her for PE but she was my form teacher TWO YEARS RUNNING! It didn’t seem to matter that other girls were wearing make up, it was me that was sent to the bathroom to “wash that muck off your face”. The same with nail varnish, Claire could sit there with iridescent pink claws but I was sent to the chemistry lab to have it removed. Everything I did seemed to get me in trouble. I couldn’t work out why she was like this (I rocked along with most teachers) and true to this article neither could my mum. Together we decided that although I was kind, brainy and all round rather lovely this teacher just didn’t like me, it was her problem not mine.

That’s what parents do all the time, “They just don’t like my child because they’re a boy/girl/energetic/beautiful.” Its very possible but there is usually something else that they do that really grates the teacher so much that they let their professionalism slip enough for it to show. Maybe in class your child is conceited, obnoxious or sarcastic – nothing that breaks a school rule but irritating on a day to day basis.

So why did my PE teacher hate me? Was I just too wonderful for her to cope with? No! If I look at it through unfiltered glasses it becomes glaringly obvious. I had always had an aptitude for sport but as soon as I hit age 13 I got bad skin so wore foundation and didn’t want it to rub off when I got sweaty so stopped running about. When I told my mum the teacher was picking on me I never mentioned that I would spend hockey lessons trying to jump over my stick and encouraging others to do the same. I spent cross country runs walking at the back chatting to my asthmatic friends and had my period every single swimming lesson for a term too! Despite all this she did once ask me to join the netball team but I told her I couldn’t do Saturday mornings because that was when I liked to go to MacDonald’s and look for boys. Can’t imagine what was annoying about that!

I remember my heart sinking when I found out I had her as a form teacher for another year but I’m guessing hers did the same and then some. So it’s taken a while but it’s time for me to say sorry Mrs G and I admit that I actually quite like netball.




The Stairway to Happiness

The Stairway to Happiness

I’m trying to be happy with what I’ve got.

Since we moved out of our flat in London six years ago to the utopian experiment of Letchworth Garden City I have wanted to extend this house.

I have note pads full of little hand drawn plans and ideas which all culminated into a fabulous design from local architects Pentangle Design. Then the long process of planning was finally granted shortly after I began my DIY and décor blog Whack It With a Hammer.

Then we got the builders quotes…

As we looked at them our hearts sank, they were all about the same amount and all too much. Then we looked closer and realised that these quotes were minus VAT, a kitchen, bathroom and flooring.

Everyone in this town seems to have had or be having an extension and they all give the same warning – “It’ll cost more than the original quote.”

“Why can’t we just be happy with what we’ve got?” sighed my husband.

Yes why? We both grew up with siblings in houses of a similar size, no ensuite, no playroom and didn’t feel we missed out on anything so why can’t we happily live here? Does the kitchen diner have to be the ‘heart of the home’ as trotted out by every wannabe interior designer or is it really about the people in it?

The friends I have told about this conversation have had many different reactions ranging from; head to one side, “Being happy, bless him. He’s so sweet.” to, conspiratorial whisper, “We can’t afford ours either! I mean is it worth the debt? I’d rather buy a sports car!”

I resolved that rather than listening to the suburban housewife in my head nagging about what we haven’t got I would embrace the inner hippie that still sings in my heart and think about what we have got – a lovely family, enough food, good friends and a pretty house.

I would practise mindfulness.

After the school drop off I sat, eyes closed and tried to concentrate on my breathing but I knew it was nearly time for Homes Under the Hammer and that made me feel agitated (if I’m going to sit on the sofa doing nothing I may as well watch TV right?).

My phone buzzed, PPI. I scrolled through my Facebook feed and my eyes jumped across memes of wellbeing about ‘today being a gift’ so you should ‘do something amazing’ and how ‘strong people are sad too’ or was it ‘sad people are strong too’ I forget. I should be mountain climbing and eating quinoa while being knocked down and getting up showing my scars as a badge of honour. The thing is, I have to go and buy potatoes and toilet roll.

I wander into town and browse in the amazing David’s Bookshop because its a nice place and I can. I feel calm around books. Look at me browsing in a book shop on a sunny day, I might go and buy bread from the bakery and pretend I’m French. Then my eyes are drawn to the adult colouring books. This makes me inexplicably angry. I try to work out why. I think its because someone has thought of a way of taking something most of us enjoyed doing as a kid and sold it back to us for £6.99 with added bullshit. The happiness industry appears to be catching up with the sliming industry.

I go home, agh this house gets on my nerves. The walls are grubby (that one will be knocked through when we extend) the furniture doesn’t fit (we’ll custom make it when we extend) the floors are scratched (no point doing them until the builders have finished)

I need to do something. Out comes my hand sander and walnut floor varnish and I start work at the top of the stairs. As I listened to the radio and varnished the floor one board at a time first to one side then the other I started to calm down. As I saw the orange scratched surface transform into a deep dark brown I felt a sense of achievement, happiness. On the third coat I imagine Mr Miagi from Karate Kid is training me for a life changing fight. This is my mindfulness, this is my adult colouring, wax on wax off. I can make this house work for us without getting in debt for the next twenty years. There’s a lot to do and it might not make the pages of Ideal Home but I’ve worked on a makeover show so I know how these things are faked for the cameras. I can try and fall in love with this house again.

So, the moral of this story is, if you really want to find inner peace and feel a sense of self worth you can’t buy it so don’t fall for the soft manipulation of the happiness industry you should just come on over and help paint my house.

(Well it was worth a try, I wonder if I can get David Wolfe to make it into a meme).



Gluegle It

Gluegle It

Last night I was doing decoupage and while I was gluing I was thinking…

I was thinking of a conversation I had with other mums about how our children can’t even imagine life without the Internet. The answer, “I don’t know” is completely unacceptable and met with a, “Well, Google it and find out then!”

My generation spent our childhoods without a world of information on our parents iPhones  – if my parents didn’t know something they just made it up. However, we have adopted and integrated it into our lives and businesses in a way that we now can’t live without it. I am one of the Luddites that still prefers to physically see and feel before buying clothes or shoes but I do grocery shopping online, when I want to know something I Google and when I want to make something I head to YouTube. Books are quickly becoming a pleasure item rather than a necessity for information.

Then I started thinking what will happen when the Internet breaks, I mean actually stops working rather than when everyone looks at Kim Kardashian pulling a moonie. Just take a moment to imagine it (not Kim’s bum, that’s too easy). In a time where chip shops have Facebook pages and you can follow cats on Twitter what happens if the Internet just stops?

First the shock as the world’s money markets go into meltdown, medical information suddenly inaccessible, everyone looking up from their phones on the train as if woken from a witch’s spell. Then the panic – how will I do my job? How will we get paid? What has Zoella bought from Primark today?

With these thoughts spinning in my head I try and remember the ingredients and method for the perfect lemon cup cakes on the BBC website and can’t. Who am I fooling if the Internet stopped what would we eat? The deliveries for supermarkets, the cash registers, shift patterns – they all rely on this technology working. I look at my vegetable patch and wonder how long it could sustain my family and quickly look up the instructions of how to make plant food from leaves on the Gardener’s World website and commit it to memory. Tomorrow I’ll take the kids to the common to collect comfrey and try and point out things that they could eat in a crisis. I picture myself as a sort of Sarah Connor from Terminator 2 giving my children the skills to survive in a harsh and brutal future – but without the amazing muscle tone and with bags of nettles instead of an arsenal of semi automatic weaponry.

Vinyl is making a come back and people are buying books like Deliciously Ella despite it all being available in two clicks. Is there an underlying feeling in the global subconscious that this thing that is ‘for everyone’ just can’t last forever? Am I just thinking too much? Does anyone else think about this kind of stuff? Should I go and join those people living underground in Arizona? One thing is for sure, in the future, before using my decoupage glue I will make sure the room is properly ventilated.

If you want to see what I made go to Whack it with a Hammer.

I think this is comfrey?