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29.1.16

Her

Some days I am too afraid to touch her. For fear that she may break.
Some days I am too afraid to wake her. For fear that she may not cope with the day ahead. The challenges she may face or even simple tasks.
Some days I put her to bed early. She struggles to relax, she struggles to settle, she struggles to switch off but I know it's the best place for her.

Some days I just want to hold her. I want to embrace her so tightly and to not let go.
I want her to pour her heart out to me. I want her to let those tears that are built up inside her out.
Some days I wish I could convince her that she is doing a good job. And that eventually everything will be ok.

Some days I want to shake her. I want to tell her that she is ok as she is. That she doesn't have to try so hard. That it's ok to not be liked by everyone.
Some days I want her to just sit back. I want her to just be quiet. To just take stock of what is around her. And if people ask what the matter is, and to ask why she is quiet, for her to not feel she has to be anything else. That she can just be having one of those days when she doesn't need to be in everyone's face.
I want her to know that she doesn't have to live up to this expectation others have of her. This false expectation.

Some days I want her to know that if people are talking behind her back, if people are judging her or saying things about her, that it's ok.
I want her to know that she can't do anything about it. She can't stop them.

Some days I want to take her away. I want to take her away from everything so she can work on herself, without influence from others.
So she can work out who she really is.

Some days I want her to know that those tears she sheds, the ones she is unafraid to show others, doesn't show that she is weak.
In fact, the fact that she is able to let them fill her eyes slowly and then fall down her cheeks, wiped away by her index finger where it will sit for a while and soak into her skin, it shows her strength.
The strength that she can show others her struggles.
Her strength to let others know that she is not ok, that she feels like she will break at any moment.
The fact that maybe she needs help. Maybe she needs a bit more praise, maybe she needs to know that she is doing ok.

Some days I want to grab the weights on her shoulders, all of the things that are piling up making her feel so heavy. I want to take them and throw them away. Or temporarily put them in a pile, so we can gradually go through them and decide which ones matter and which ones belong there. Which ones we can throw away and forget about.

Some days I want her to know that I am here. And that she doesn't need to feel scared. She doesn't need to feel like she has no one.
Because she has me.
Always here, always fighting for her.
Always wanting her to be ok.
Always loving her for who she is, no matter who that person is.
Don't forgetr to love her. The little girl you used to be. Perhaps she lies within you. Untucked, sleeping peacefully.:

8 Practical Tips To Revamp Your Wardrobe

Feeling like your wardrobe is looking a little dull and dowdy? Fancy giving it a revamp to welcome in the new year? Here are some great tips for getting a new lease of life out of your wardrobe without having to chuck it all out and start from scratch.

Think about layers

In all but the hottest weather, it’s possible to easily and cheapily update your wardrobe simply by adding a few key layers. From thick knit jumpers in winter to floaty cardigans for spring, just one new piece layered over an old outfit can give it a whole new look.

Accessorise

One of the quickest and most affordable ways to revamp an old outfit is to add some brand new, on-trend accessories. Whether it’s a wide brimmed hat or some statement jewellery, adding the right finishing touch can totally transform your look. Even better, great-looking accessories can be picked up for next to nothing in high street stores.

Invest in key pieces

If you can’t afford to buy a new wardrobe every season, don’t panic. All you really need to do is invest in a few key pieces. For women, a smart coat or pair of tailored trousers can often do the job, while men can update their look with a jacket or blazer from a designer store like Woodhouse Clothing. You can see their discounted offer here.

Adapt to trends

It’s tempting to think we always need to buy new outfits once the wheels of fashion turn around, but often our existing clothes can be adapted to suit new trends. Try tucking and untucking shirts and t-shirts to move between casual and formal looks, or add layers under dresses to create a bohemian vibe.

Add a splash of colour

One of the easiest ways to revamp your wardrobe is to add a big splash of colour, either with something that reflects the seasons or with whatever shades are gracing the catwalk. Invest in some basic pieces in bright colours, and you can easily combine them with your existing wardrobe to create exciting new looks.

Detox your wardrobe

To help your wardrobe feel really fresh and new, it’s important to get rid of all the excess. Be bold when sorting through, and get rid of anything that you don’t really feel great in. You’ll thank yourself when you can easily put your hands on fabulous oufits instead of sifting through ill-fitting and unflattering clothes.
Organise your pieces

Part of a fantastic and functioning wardrobe is being able to put together amazing outfits at the drop of a hat – so get organised. Have a go-to section of casual clothing that you can throw on and still look fantastic, a collection that’s ideal for the office and a section for more formal party wear.

Do a clothes swap

For the ultimate wardrobe revamp, get your friends round for a clothes swap. It’s the perfect opportunity to rid yourself of old clothes you don’t want, and find some new favourites in the process. You’ll soon discover that one person’s trash is another one’s treasure, and you can enjoy a fun few hours catching up with friends at the same time.

How To Update Your Home In 2016

Are you fed up with your current home, but don’t want to move? You don’t have to! There are easy ways to transform your dated and dreary house to a cosy and colourful home.

These changes won’t only make it a place you love to spend time in, they will also add value to it when the times does come for you to sell it.  

Here are a few ways you can update your home, whatever your budget!

Have a spring clean
Updating your home can be as easy as giving it a spring clean. Transform a messy and dirty home into a sparkling space that you are proud of. This doesn’t mean a quick dust and hoover – this means getting in all the nooks and crannies – hoovering under the bed, cleaning inside the oven and washing the curtains.

If this mammoth task of cleaning the house from top to bottom is a little daunting, then call in Molly Maid Spring Cleaning service and let the professionals do it for you!

Add a splash of colour
A splash of colour is a quick way to brighten up your home – this could be as subtle or dramatic as you wish. Whether you want to add a mellow yellow, a hot pink or a calming blue – this can be created through a lick of paint to the walls or simply by adding some bright new pillows.  

Don’t forget the garden!
Your garden is as much a part of your home as the house itself. It is easy to forget about your garden and let it become overgrown and messy, especially during the winter months when it is too cold to go outside. However, simply tidying it up, planting some bright flowers and adding a few features will give it an instant update.

Small touches make a big difference
Small touches are easy and fairly cheap to achieve – you could change your curtains, add in a large mirror or create a photo wall – with quirky frames to show off your favourite photos or paintings! Smaller items can have the same effect – new lampshades or ornaments can update a room immediately.

Accessories will brighten and transform a room in an instant - choose a whole new theme or colour scheme to bring it all together and change the look of your rooms.

Create more space
There are many ways you can create more space within your home – how about knocking down walls to create more of an open plan home, convert your loft into a games room, or add a conservatory so you can enjoy your garden even when it is raining! These are all far cheaper and less disruptive than building an extension and, in most cases, you won’t even need to get planning permission!

Give your kitchen a makeover
The kitchen is the heart of the home and therefore a good place to start if you want to make updates to your house. This can easily be done on a budget and doesn’t necessarily mean installing a brand new kitchen – it could just mean replacing cupboards, worktops or flooring.

A few simple changes can make your current house feel like a brand new home in no time!

20.1.16

Four last minute baby shower gifts

Picture the scene: your pregnant friend, who didn’t seem too bothered about a baby shower for several months of the term, suddenly changes her mind and wants to welcome her friends for a celebration.

She says she’s not too bothered about gifts but you know you really have to buy her ‘something’ – but with a few days to go you’ve forgotten the ideas you once had. Strolling into a specialist shop for babies doesn’t really help either: confronted by row upon row of items is a terrifying prospect. It doesn’t need to be panic time however – here are four gifts that might just save your blushes:

Baby bean bag
One of the most annoying and frustrating aspects of having a child is the inability to leave him or her alone for any period of time. As a new parent you don’t want to be placing little one in the crib all the time, but there are moments of the day when you need to go to the toilet or make a cup of tea.

Baby bean bags are a perfect way of keeping your baby ultra comfortable, but possess a strap which keeps them secure while you nip out. They’re also easy to wash, and perfect for keeping them nice and warm. A practical and excellent gift.

Self-heating travel bottle
Your baby’s stomach is very delicate in the early weeks and getting the temperature hot enough to kill bacteria but cool enough for her to drink can be a nightmare – a nightmare accompanied by a screaming, angry little creature. Now imagine taking that child out and amplify the trauma by ten.

Without somewhere immediate to heat the water the next simplest option is a self-warming bottle, such as the Yoomi, or many of the others on the market. A simple click warms the expressed or formula milk up to the correct temperature within 60 seconds, and recharging is a rare occurrence. It’s not a particularly emotional gift, but one which will be well-received.

Prints/calendars
Alongside pets, babies are probably the most-photographed thing to appear on social media. When little one arrives a flurry of pictures from family and friends will be snapped in every location, from every angle, and some will belong on Facebook and Instagram – but others need to be hung up on walls in splendid style, preserved in perfect print forever.

A site such as Photobox will help you create a giant mosaic of infantile pictures, a single lovely piece of wall art, or a calendar where each month shows a different stage  of progression. This might be one time when a voucher is just the perfect gift, to be used six months down the line.  

Anything baby-related
Here’s the real issue: the mum-to-be won’t really care what you buy. Anything that’s practical or loving or that saves the couple money will be richly accepted. Bedding, clothing, teething equipment, or toys such as those in this list are potentially excellent little gifts.

In addition, gifts that make mum feel better will all serve a refreshing and kindly purpose. Gift vouchers, spa treats, chocolate, toiletries, and any other item designed to bring mum back to life post-birth can only be a winner.




19.1.16

5 tips on starting a blog this year

Starting your first business blog can be a nervous process - what if no-one reads it? Worse, what if we get a bunch of negative comments after every post? What should we even post about? Don’t worry. If you build it well, readers will come. In fact, it’s not unknown for a smart company to create a massively successful blog in under a year, and the reasons for doing so, of course, are legion, from potentially converting readers into customers, to gaining some control over how your business is perceived. Here’s some advice on how to go about it the right way.

Platform
Where to host your business blog? Most companies will have a section on their main website, and if you are using Wordpress, it’s easy to add extra pages. There are numerous reasons why you might want to use Wordpress to build your site: it’s incredibly easy to use; it costs nothing and there are gazillions of free themes (a very professional theme with good support will cost you only around £40-£50); and there is an extensive network of users who can provide advice.

If you are using a specialist provider such as UK2 Hosting to keep your site online then you can also expect your blog to have solid security and uptime, which can be vital, since your blog is a window to your company servers.

Content
It’s a crowded field. There’s no sense in beating around the bush - if your business doesn’t yet have a blog, then you’re behind the curve. That means careful planning is necessary to make your blog stand out, and where that’s really going to be important is the type, and the quality, of the content that you post. You want to ensure maximum engagement from readers; comments, sharing, and - if that is the aim of the blog - conversion to sales. So look at what your competitors are doing with their blogs, especially the market leaders. Can you do likewise, or better?

Remember that a common aim of business blogs is to stamp authority over an industry, and drive as much traffic as possible to the main company website (through social sharing), so create content that people will recognise as knowledgeable and want to share. What helps in that instance? Answering questions. Being helpful. Being interesting. Being funny. Being unusual. Being well-written and produced. Being diverse. Being original.

One last tip for content - find out the most important keywords for your business and place them in text, but don’t keyword stuff. You should be aiming for readability rather than maximum possible search engine optimisation.

Regular Posting
There is no point in starting a blog if you don’t plan to update it on a regular basis. Nothing says 'lack of enthusiasm' more than a blog that’s only getting updated every couple of months. Aim for producing something every day if you can, but at a minimum once a week. You may want to consider appointing a member of staff to take responsibility for this, or even spread it around a few people. Guest contributors can also add authority.

Yes, it can be tough to continually produce original high-quality content at such a rate, but remember that a blog post doesn’t need to be an essay. It can be a quick bullet-pointed list of tips; it can be a video embedded from Youtube demonstrating how to use one of your products; it can be a few images with description of a new product you’re launching. Aim for a variety of different types of content to keep things fresh and see what works best for your readers.

Design
Your company’s branding presumably reflects its personality - in terms of colours and fonts - the blue used by Twitter and LinkedIn, for instance, indicates dependability and honesty. Your blog should match entirely so the relationship is clear. Dress your blog to impress with a clean design that looks functional and is easy to navigate - remember that form should follow function at all times.

You want your company to appear professional, and your blog is a face you turn to the public, so don’t settle for a shabby design.

Build Subscribers
How do you go about getting people to visit the blog regularly? Sharing over social media is vital, with links to the blog. Post on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn whenever a new post goes live. Another useful way is to build a list of subscribers, perhaps by introducing a pop-up that tries to collect an email address whenever someone visits your site - nothing too intrusive or pushy, but a friendly invitation to receive exclusive content or details of new posts.

Make a point of replying to as many comments on your blog as possible, and keep things positive. If someone has something negative to say, address it head-on but provide a means for them to contact you to take the discussion out of the public eye.

One final tip - visit blogs operated by others in your field, particularly those you would consider 'influencers', sharing their posts and leaving comments. Hopefully they will return the favour and allow your blog to be seen by more people and gain more authority.



Managing Your Household Budget Better in 2016

Making New Year's resolutions is something many of us do, but once you get to a certain age you tend to make them with pretty much the expectation that they'll have been forgotten long before spring! That being said, the motivation of a resolution to stick to can be the extra push you need to make a positive change in your life that can last all year, and even become habit and remain with you for the longer term.

Finance in the New Year

When it comes to things like diet and fitness, it doesn't really need to be a memorable date like the 1st of January to resolve to make a difference, so these tend to be the resolutions that fall by the wayside, however if the changes you want to make are financial, then it does actually make a lot of sense to start tracking things from the start of a new month, or even better a new year!
Here are some ideas if you want to make managing the household budget better in 2016:

Have a Budget to Begin With!

Being clear on your monthly incomings and expenses is the foundation for having a good budget. If you are financially comfortable as a household, then it is easy to let this slip – you don't really need to worry about how much you spend on food or if you have subscriptions to things you don't use anymore coming out every month, so there is no pressure to do the work. However, by actually looking at your budget and quickly eliminating waste, you'll soon find yourself able to save a lot more or invest money in things that will benefit you.

Look At Where You Have 'Risk' In Your Budget, and Have a Plan For It

You may be ticking along from month to month just fine, but what are you going to do if you encounter an unexpected emergency expense? Say you need major work done on your home or car as a matter of urgency, or your pet needs expensive veterinary treatment. Maybe it won't be an emergency but an opportunity, like your child getting the option to go on a worthwhile but expensive trip abroad with school, or the opportunity to invest in a friend's fantastic new business idea.
Having contingency plans to get access to money you might need suddenly is always a good idea, especially if you tend to live fairly fluidly and don't have much by way of savings or assets you could sell. Be aware of options your bank offers or sources of UK home and personal loans you can easily apply for if you need to, and make sure you are adequately insured for any situations that it is more sensible to insure against.

By actually creating a budget based on what you expect to come in and what your needs are each month, and then putting in plans for any sudden needs for money that may arise, you'll already have the foundations for a more financially comfortable new year!

18.1.16

This Coming Year...

Make more time for...

Reading. Isn't this such a cliche?! I think on a lot of peoples resolutions list you will find "Read more" or "make more time for books". I have so many books I need to read. A Kindle full...well not full but with a lot of unread books which I need to make time for.For years I haven't been able to sit in bed and read because I was always governed by whenever my ex wanted to sleep. I couldn't stay up a little longer and read in bed whilst he tried to sleep, and as a result I lost my love and passion for reading. Now I have my own space, and a chance to sit up as long as I want and read then I need to take advantage of that.

Hope for...

I went for coffee with a friend recently and we were discussing being single. Our marriages both broke up within weeks of each other so it's been nice for us both to be there for each other.
It's especially nice to have someone who says what you want to hear. So often people say "You don't need to find a man. Concentrate on finding you, on being single. There's a lot going on. Forget about men" and it's just not that easy. 
My friend and I both said we are "needy". Not in an obsessive kind of way but in that we need that comfort and affection from another human. Just to have someone there. 
I don't want to feel ashamed or be made to feel ashamed for wanting and needing a man. For wanting to have a mans company.
I spent a lot of last year "finding myself" (cliche number 2!) so that's not necessary for this year. I don't need to do that anymore. 
I'm not that kind of person who enjoys being by herself. I'm not saying I want to find my life partner, but to find someone would be quite lovely.

Remember...

Click here for Blog: Sometimes our #Grief is so big that all we can be expected to do is Breathe. http://www.texansunited.com/freddadavisjones/2012/12/23/grieving-how-to-measure-your-success/:

Be ok with...

Not being perfect. I put so much pressure on myself to want to be perfect or to make everyone else happy. I assume everyone has these expectations of me, when maybe they don't. 
I feel like I have to be perfect as a mum, as a daughter, as a twin, as a friend, as a work colleague. I need to be ok with the fact that I'm not going to be perfect. I'm going to make mistakes, there will be days when I can't cope, when I'm not capable and that is ok. 

Be more...

Brave. Last year I feel like I was brave in so many ways. I pushed fears to the side when I went to Isle of Man, by flying by myself, going on the back of my brothers bike and being centimetres away from superbikes going at super speeds! I was a room moderator at Britmums Live which was scary! I took part in two 5k races. And made a decision that changed my families lives.
I want to continue being brave because beating those fears and experiencing all that I experienced last year made me this new person who I quite like.
Bravery is the ability to look fear and hurt in the face and say move aside, you are in the way.:

Be less...

Of an over-thinker. I am a terrible over-thinker. I am over-sensitive. I bully myself and am far too hard on myself. This has to change. It is part of me though, it's how I'm built I guess and it's hard to get out of that but I know that I do need to calm my head down and back off. 


Try to...

Document life a bit more. I need to pick up my camera and take more photos, make more videos. I think this year will be a big one in terms of family and adjustments and I think it's important for me to document the tough times but also the times when I am doing a good job and when life is going well.

Don't be afraid to...

Take inspiration from others. When it comes to video making I know I am not amazing but I like to try. I'm proud of what I have created so far. And everyone has to staet soemwhere. I absolutely adore Claire Marshall on YouTube and so many of her videos inspire me. The way she edits, the topics. 
Also....utter babe and TOTAL tattoo envy!!
Claire Marshall:

Improve on...

Time management and keeping on top of things. I am a nightmare when it comes to housework and I get distracted easily. I think being aware of this is at least a good start....


When things are tough...

When things go well...

I have never been afraid to praise myself, or to shout out "Hey! I did well at this. Praise me please". I don't want to feel ashamed to celebrate and to be proud of myself. 
At the same time, I think that when things go well, I need to stop doubting that there must be a catch. I have to stop waiting for that bubble to burst and to accept that sometimes I can have good luck and can have amazing moments.

Robert Rodriguez

17.1.16

Your Words

You might be joking.
You might not have meant it the way it came out.
You might not realise how your tone can come across.

You might think she is over-sensitive.
You might think she over-reacts.
You might think that because she likes a joke and a banter that she can take it.

But what if those words you call her, those criticisms, those little knocks, those moments that make you laugh...what if all of that actually hurts her? She tells you to stop it and you think she is joking.
She is telling you to stop for a reason.

You are making her doubt everything.
You make her doubt her confidence.
You make her doubt her ability.
You make her doubt the way she is coming across.

She gets defensive.
She gets grumpy and snappy.
You tell her she is over-sensitive.
You tell her she should know what you are like.

But after a while, it becomes too much. Those jokes are no longer funny. "Banter" becomes more than that.
She see's you and she doesn't want to approach you.
She is stand-offish. She doesn't know how to be around you or how to talk to you.
You ask if she is ok, because she "isn't herself".
You don't realise that your words have made her feel uncomfortable.
She says she is ok, because she is.
But you still question her, you push her, not realising that actually the problem is you. The problem is your words. The problem is that she worries about what you will say next.
What will you criticise next.
What will you point out about her looks, the way she dresses, what she has or hasn't done.

So next time you see her.
Next time she pops up on a text, whatsapp, or on a social media account.
Just think.
Maybe it's time you accept that she is telling you she is a nice person for a reason.
Maybe she is offering herself as a friend because that's really how she wants you and everyone else to see her.
When she tells you to stop, do it. Because maybe she isn't joking.
Maybe she doesn't want to hear it anymore.

Think about your words before you spit them out.


How To Use Technology To Stay Organised in 2016

Is your resolution each year to become more organised, only to the end of the year feeling more disorganised than ever before? This year, by using technology to help with your organisation, you may find that you are finally able to keep to your New Year’s resolution!   

Technology has made organisation easier than ever before and as a result smartphones and tablets have become an essential tool for managing your life.

With ‘an app for everything’ there are many extremely useful ones that can help you become more organised. So, why not delete those games you never play? Download a few of these apps and use technology to stay organised in 2016.

Cozi Family Organiser - A family calendar
Ever sat at home and wondered where an earth everyone is? Or organised a family gathering only for your kids to moan that they had already told you they have plans that day? Well, not anymore! With this app you can manage everyday life and keep the whole family in the loop with a family calendar that everyone can add or edit appointments in. You can also set reminders, as well as sharing a shopping list and to do lists.  

Todoist - A daily to do list
A daily ‘to do’ list is the perfect way to stay on top of tasks that need doing throughout the day, enabling you to tick them off as you go. However, do you find that you end up writing what you need to do on so many different scraps of paper and losing half of them, and that you feel more confused than when you started your list? The beauty of technology is that you can have one definitive list in one place! Todoist enables you to colour-code your priorities, label things to do and share projects in one place.

Mealboard - Menu planning
Is cooking dinner getting in the way of your organisation, because you never know what to cook, continuously picking up ingredients from the shops, before finally actually cooking it? Save time and stress when it comes to cooking by making a menu plan this year! Mealboard combines recipe management, meal planning, as well as grocery and pantry management into one app.

This app can be customised to help keep you on top of birthdays, traffic conditions before you leave for work, urgent e-mails, even the breaking scores from your football team! This is a perfect way to manage your life every day, including what you need to do, where you need to go and how to get around.

Spending Tracker – Track your spending…
Stay on top of your spending with this app! It enables you to log your transactions and assign them to pre-set budgets for travel, entertainment, groceries and so on. Any remaining budget can be carried over!

If a cracked screen means you won’t actually be able to make full use of these apps and have been too disorganised to get it fixed, what are you waiting for? Make the first step to becoming more organised in 2016 by heading down to Lovefone where it will be fixed so quickly and easily. Then you can start using it again as you continue on the road to becoming much more organised this year!



14.1.16

Looking for a staycation – child friendly holidays in the UK

Whether you’re scared of flying or just want to be close to home for whatever reason, fear not as you don’t have to travel abroad to enjoy a fun-filled family holiday. The UK is the perfect place for a staycation and with companies like Tots Too offering a range of holiday packages at an affordable price, you won’t have to break the bank to enjoy yourselves either.
Of course, you might be wondering what there is to do on this little island which you haven’t done already, but you’ll probably be surprised at how much there is to experience here. With this in mind, here are several child-friendly holidays that’ll help reignite your love for Britain and allow you to see it in a new light.
Glamping
While the UK is notorious for being wet and windy, there is a way to enjoy the great outdoors that won’t leave you soggy, cold and miserable – glamping. Short for ‘glamorous camping’ this is a compromise between staying in a hotel with all the amenities you could ever need and roughing it in the great outdoors with many glamping sites offering comfy double beds, a hot shower, flushing toilets, proper cooking facilities such as a stove, electric lights and much more.
Glamping sites are dotted throughout the UK in many wonderful locations such as Mill Farm in South Downs National Park, so it’s well worth doing your research and finding something suitable.
Caravanning
If you’re a family of intrepid explorers, you might find that hiring a camper van or caravan is your best bet. You might even have your own which means you can go from place-to-place and explore the far corners of the UK in style. Alternatively, checking into one of the best coastal campsites the UK has to offer and spending a few days in one location might be more up your street allowing the kids to enjoy the coastlines as well as the various facilities that can be found at many sites including games rooms, swimming pools, children’s clubs and more.
Country house retreats
Sometimes, it’s a good idea to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and go somewhere where you won’t be bothered by noisy commuters, fast cars or the hum of city train lines – the country. Looking out of your window and seeing nothing but sheep and fields might seem a little daunting at first (especially if you were born and bred in the city) but when you see the kids running outside and stretching their legs in a rural environment, you’re sure to feel right at home.
What’s more, many stunning country manors, farms and castles have been converted into accommodation, or simply open their doors for guests, so why not see if you can book somewhere really special and enjoy a unique experience?
London city breaks
From one extreme to another, you might decide a rural break is not for you and you’d much rather head into London, one of the busiest and most metropolitan cities in the world. As well as a host of world famous attractions including Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, the London Dungeons, Tower Bridge, the London Eye and much more, you’ll also find a host of five-star hotels as well as eateries that serve some of the best food in Britain including Michelin-starred restaurants, Brasserie Chavot and Banares.
The UK is ideal for a holiday with the kids, but it’s well worth making an itinerary to help you make the most of your stay.

13.1.16

Dear 2016...Part One



Let’s face it. I’m not expecting you to be the best year of my life.

In the first quarter I will be going from a Mrs to a Ms. I will officially be ticking the divorced box. Ok it has all happened sooner than I expected but I knew that at some point this would happen so it’s fine.

At some point in the year I will accept an offer on my house (hopefully) and will then be looking for somewhere else for me and the boys to live. I will solely be in charge of bills.

I will have my own space. The opportunity to start afresh and make memories somewhere new. But I will be saying goodbye to somewhere I called home for 8 years. The place my children called home and the place they felt safe, warm and comforted. But we get to build that again.

If we want a sofa covered in cushions we can have just that. If we want to leave our beds unmade, leave the dishes until the morning then we can. If we decide to leave our pyjamas on the floor as we kick them off in the morning, no problem. It will just be us, with no one else to please or worry about.

But in amongst all the hard times I can’t wait for those good times you will bring.

Those new evening routines of getting the boys ready for bed, in their pyjamas and snuggling on the sofa under the warm, fluffy, snow leopard blanket watching You’ve Been Framed. Laughing, having the usual comment of “ooooo that’s not funny” and those moments where we hunt for the lost remote so we can rewind and laugh again at our favourite funny moments.

Those moments when I accidently fall asleep with one of the boys as I’m putting them to bed. And those moments when I let both of the boys sleep in my bed with me….just because we can. Even if I happen to sneak out of the bed in the middle of the night, moving into one of their beds just so I can get some sleep.

I get full responsibility of how we celebrate their birthdays. And this year, we WILL visit Colchester Zoo. 4 years ago me and Charles made this goal that we would see an Orangutan. We haven't seen one yet and we know there is one at Colchester Zoo.
As for Harry's birthday...we will plan that closer to the time.

I would love, 2016, if you could somehow fit in a holiday for me and the boys. I want to take them away. On a plane ideally. To spend a whole day, or two, or three, by a pool. Doing nothing but splashing, enjoying the sun and making perfect memories. Memories that remind me of holidays I had when I was a child. For the boys to have those moments they can talk about when they are older, just as I do.

There’s June. Oh the flirtiest month of all with all it’s beautiful plans.

The 8 day/7 night stay at the Isle of Man…once again
I get to spend 8 days with my brother. I get to make new friends and once again reunite with amazing friends we made last year.
I get to ride on the back of my brothers bike again.
I get to see the beautiful island that I fell in love with. The island that stole a piece of my heart and made me discover so much about myself.
I get to watch men wrapped in leather, sat upon the amazing machines riding at the most ridiculous speeds. I get to feel that adrenaline rushing through my body. The most adrenaline I have ever experienced, so much that it becomes overwhelming and it feels like my body is going to shut down because it cannot cope.

And maybe 2016, just maybe, you will be kind enough to let me meet a Dunlop. Michael will be fine but ultimately, if I could meet William then my dreams will come true.
Last year I was lucky enough...thanks to my super amazing brother...to speak to William on the phone. In Williams own shy, reserved, beautifully sexy Irish accent "I haven't done this before. I don't really know what to say"...yes it was awkward. I kept repeating "I wish I was there. I wish I was there". He wished me a happy birthday. I giggled.
I have 8 days to fulfill my goal. Well, not the main life goal of getting William to chuck me on the back of his bike and then ride us off into the sunset but to speak face to face and get a photo with him....well...that would be enough...I guess.

Once the TT is over, and I return home to celebrate a 7th birthday and return to work I have the excitement of a weekend in London as I once again attend Britmums Live. This year the conference celebrates it's 5th birthday...I'll defintely be using that as an excuse to dress up.

2016, I just want you to be kind, and although you will have tough tough times, just please try and be gentle.
Please let me be able to look back on you in 2017 with a smile. Let me feel successful and brave, as if I can do anything,
Let me feel like I have survived.


9.1.16

Identity

She felt she was getting somewhere.  She felt she might finally know who she was.
She felt that, after a year of growing and changing and getting to a place where she might finally feel like she could blossom and become the real her...with nothing or no one to limit her.

She started to walk with her head held a little higher, feeling a bit more confident about herself.
She felt like maybe she was finally being accepted more from those around her.
She felt that maybe, just maybe, she could finally feel ok about liking herself and to allow other people to like her too.

She dressed a little more confidently. She acted a little more confident. She was feeling better about herself than she had in a while.

And then. Out of nowhere.
It went.
She didn't know who she could be anymore.
This woman and person she was, the true her, wasn't good enough. She was too much.

She sat and analysed her behaviour. She analysed the way she looks, the way she talks.
She analysed everything about herself.

She thought about those around her. The people she thought were her friends. Maybe, maybe they didn't really like her. And maybe they find her too much.

A sleepless night.
After being able to close her eyes long enough to be able to class it as a nap, she woke up confused.
Who should she be today?
Who can she be today?
Because she isn't good enough.

Just as she felt like she was someone who was good enough. As soon as she felt she could confidently say "I have friends" "I am liked" "I like myself" she is back to questioning it all.
Does she have friends?
Is she liked?
Does she like herself anymore?

Her identity again has a question mark over it. After so long of searching for it, discovering it and learning about who she is she is back to the beginning.
She wondered if she will ever be accepted for being the real her? If she will ever be liked for being the real her?
Because the real her, once again, doesn't seem to be good enough.

7.1.16

5 Great Reasons to Travel to Turkey in the Winter

Turkey is one of the most highly sought-after travel destinations on the planet, but did you know that travelling there in the winter is also hugely popular? In fact, there are several great reasons why you should travel to Turkey during the winter season. Continue reading to learn about them.

You'll Save a Lot of Money

Travelling to Turkey may not be cheap at all, depending upon where you're starting your journey. But if you head there in the winter, you can save a significant amount of money on your flight, as well as on your hotel, such as IHG hotels Istanbul. And you will also save money on various activities, restaurants, and tours once you arrive at your destination as well. So if you are a budget traveller, you should definitely book your journey to Turkey during the winter months.

Skiing Resorts are Far Less Crowded

Many people from all over the world travel to Turkey for skiing, as there are a lot of pristine areas that you can enjoy, but it is still pretty uncharted territory when compared with other ski areas on the planet. So if you enjoy the snow and you absolutely need a ski getaway, consider heading out to Turkey during the winter, as there won't be many skiers in your way, and you can enjoy resorts like those near Antalya.

Avoid the Crowds

Travelling during the tourist season, which is the summer in Turkey, requires that you have the patience to deal with a lot of other travellers, and the most popular places throughout the country, from its cities to its beaches, can become uncomfortably crowded. For example, you'll typically encounter large groups of cruise tourists along western Turkey throughout the summer. But because there aren't any cruises in the winter and because the weather isn't as ideal, Turkey really empties out during that time of year. This means you can explore everything that the cities have to offer without having to wait on long lines, and you can go hiking and explore the natural world as well without having to worry about people being in your way.

You Can Visit Istanbul and Enjoy the Local Cuisine

Turkish food is unique and delicious, and Istanbul features a few tours that you can participate in to try the many yummy flavours at all of the cafes, street food stalls, spice markets, produce markets, and restaurants throughout the city. And, again, you can do it all without having to worry about dealing with an annoying crowd of people.

Enjoy the Hot Springs

The winter is the perfect time to enjoy the fact that Turkey has several natural hot springs that can naturally heal and rejuvenate you. Check out Pamukkale, as well as the thermal resorts in Mugla, Bursa, and along the Black Sea, and take a dip into the warm water to soothe your entire body.
With so many great reasons to travel to Turkey in the winter, you can plan your getaway and have the time of your life even when the temperature drops.

4.1.16

Five Things | 2015 - The Highlights

I know with a marriage break up people would be shocked that I can look back on 2015 and be pretty pleased with a lot of it. 
I'm someone who is negative a lot but I am learning to see the positive in things, and I think so far I'm doing quite well at that.

2015 was amazing in so many ways. I can confidently look back and say that despite the marriage breakdown, and tough moment around that, it was a good year for so many other reasons.



Isle Of Man 
I'm not sure there is anything I can say about the Isle of Man/TT that I haven't said already. One of the most beautiful, amazing places I have ever been to. A place that pretty much changed me and was able to make me realise who I wanted to be, what I wanted in life, and what I deserved. 
I didn't expect it to affect me as much as it did. I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did. And I didn't expect to find leaving as hard as I did. 
Roll on June 2016!!

Somerset 
One of my big achievements of 2015 was driving to Somerset. We had booked a barn to stay in so we could catch up with my brother, my nan and my aunties. It was the most perfect week. Not only did I feel really proud of the driving I did but I also felt so relaxed and so happy.
I think this week was another one which made me realise that other areas of my life weren't as they should be. 
I had some really special days out and then just days relaxing at the barn. My morning coffee in bed was always a lovely treat, along with dinner in the garden with a glass, or two, of proper Somerset cider.


Tattoos
At the beginning of 2015, if you told me I would end up with tattoos I would not believe you. And here I am, sat with 9 tattoos. I know they're not all to everyone's taste but for me, they all mean something. They are all special for their own reason and all have a meaning, something personal, and even better is that my twin surprised me by getting a semi colon in the same place as mine. I wanted us to have matching tattoos so that meant a lot.
This year.....I will definitely be getting more.

A Job
I never wanted to be a "working mum", The idea of going back to work filled me with dread and fear and made me feel sick and angry.
My marriage breakdown meant that returning to work was a necessity, I knew that and accepted it. After applying for lots of jobs I almost felt like it was never going to happen.
I had a job interview which I turned up a minute or 2 late for, and spent 55 minutes pretty much laughing and joking my way through.
I left thinking that I had no chance at the job. When a phone call came a few days later the conversation went one way and I was sure I was going to be told that I didn't have the job. Instead, I was told that there were actually no positions going but one had been opened especially for me.
Two days later, I had my first day. A week later I was given a different role and although throughout the business I am in I work with some super super lovely people, the team I work in are extra special. Straight away I felt accepted and like I'd known them all for so so long. 
I feel really lucky to work with amazing people, and to be in a job that I pretty much always dreamt of. 
I keep waiting for my bubble to burst.


Attention
Oh I know, I know. Way to personal but come on. I'm an open, honest person and if I can make someone else in my situation feel better then it's worth it.
When you come out of a marriage, or long term relationship, it is so hard to accept that anyone will ever find you attractive. That you will ever have any interest from anyone.
I think for me, other than.....you know....the things I have craved the most are just talking to men and being around them. I am a flirt, I can't help it, and working with men helps to cure that craving in a way really. 
And then there are simple hugs and kisses. And these are probably what I really really miss. And yeah, in the last 4 months I have had a little attention in that way which has been wonderful and although I still can't help but to miss the constant affection from a proper relationship, having someone to rely on for a spoon, a cuddle and a kiss.
But just knowing that, even if I'm only good enough for a one off kiss, I'm not completely off the radar and maybe do have a chance at that romantic love thing at some point in my life again.
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