A Lonely One

I didn't expect Christmas time to be as hard as it has been.
Thankfully I've had work to distract me but in the evenings...that's the hardest time.
When on Boxing Day I can't even find one friend to socialise with because, quite rightly, everyone has plans. Plans with their family, their partner, with other friends.
As it came to the end of the working day and I said bye to two of my closest work friends I felt my eyes tingle. My heart felt heavy. I knew that the evening was going to be hard and that tears were inevitable.

I drove another colleague home, got in and went straight upstairs. The boys were with their dad so making sure I at least did one thing to take my mind off what I was expecting I had a sort out in my bedroom whilst I ran a bath, listened to my (pretty amazing if I do say so myself) "current favs" spotify list and opened up the bottle of Prosecco still waiting in it's Christmas bag.
I poured it into my "Mines a Large One" glass and then....distruction.

It didn't take long for me to get rid of the contents of that bottle, and to start on another.
And before I knew it I was messaging friends and sending videos to another drunk friend and.....yeah.....the night was OK but I constantly had that knowledge of how desperate, sad and lonely I was.
How desperate, sad and lonely I am.

Tonight, the boys are again with their dad and I am starting the wind down to bed to prepare for a day at work tomorrow.
I have to wash and dry my hair and I just don't want to.
I know that tomorrow everyone will be excitedly preparing to see in the New Year with friends and loved ones and there will be me...seeing it in alone.
The boys will be back with me, but asleep in their beds.
There's not really much new there to be honest. For years my soon-to-be-ex-husband would head to bed early leaving me to see in the New Year alone. I guess part of me hoped this year would be different. That maybe I could shake off the crappy feeling of New Year by celebrating it with friends, a friend, or someone special.
And again, I'll listen out for the fireworks and hear car horns bib, the odd cheer from people outside as I sit and dry my eyes.

This might have been the best decision, but it's a lonely one.
A really lonely one.



What Am I Capable Of?

I don't know how I'm doing with this whole single parenting thing.
I feel as though I am gliding through it and that really the full on hard work hasn't yet started.
I've had my mum to rely on, and the boys dad has them quite regularly so I've been quite lucky to not be in the "their dad only has them every other weekend" situation.

It's been hard because of the situation we were in. Being a housewife meant I had no income to rely on, I couldn't just up and leave, and neither could the boys dad.
I know I made the right decision for us, but in terms of the situation we were in it wasn't ideal.
I stayed at my mums for half of the week, the other half sleeping on the sofa. I struggled to feel at home in my own home. I couldn't relax and felt lost.

I searched for jobs and applied for ones I wanted to do, and then felt desperate and pretty much applied for everything. But with the current climate and having hundreds of people going for one job I only had 2 interviews, until I then had the interview that pretty much made me feel like life isn't so bad right now.

Having the job I love, and enjoying it, being able to be Lauren, making friends, switching off from mum-mode and "getting a divorce" mode has been just what I needed. But when it comes to walking out of the doors and towards my car I go back to that mode where I question exactly what I am capable of.
Am I being the best mummy I can be to my boys? Well, I guess so. But I know I can do better. So much better.
We had 2 weeks of just us. This was at the same time that I started my job and thankfully my boss was super supportive and let me work around school drop offs and pick ups. And although he was supportive I felt as though I was already being hard work. Traffic problems meant I was late for my first and second day, only by a couple of minutes but still....crying to my boss on my second day of work wasn't exactly the highlight of my life and the impression I wanted to give.
I worried that I would be sent home for letting him down. I worried that I would lose this chance I had been given because I wasn't capable of getting to work on time.
But I made up for that, I think. I hope. And the fact I love my job and so early on feel incredibly passionate about what I do, who I work for, and who I work with, means that I will constantly try to prove how capable I am.

But being a mummy isn't as easy. Of course I feel passionate about my role as a mummy and I want to do the very best I can to bring the boys up to be the best people they can be. And I guess as we came to the end of those 2 weeks of just us when the boys dad went to on holiday (booked before our split, I was fine about it!) I felt a sigh of relief that we survived. That I survived.
But with things going downhill every now and then, not always due to me though I must add,  I wonder just how capable I am.

I question whether or not I am doing this whole"mummy" thing right because people don't automatically assume I am a mum. Or believe me when I say I have children.
Is there something I am doing wrong to not be giving out this "mum-vibe" when I am not with my children?

I am working lots over Christmas, and as I sent the dates over to the boys dad I wondered if this is giving off a bad impression to everyone?
It's Christmas time and I am going to work, and not spending every moment with my children.
And there are a number of reasons for this.
1. Money. I need money. Working will give me that money. Simple.
2. Distraction. For a couple of reasons, when I am at work I am Lauren, and I am this different person. I don't have those stresses I do at home. I get to do my job, and as long as I do what is expected of me and have fun at the same time then I am doing it right. And when I am at home I just want to hide away in my bedroom. I don't like sitting in the lounge. The sofa was my bed for too long and the lounge was this room I slept in and kind of felt a prisoner in. So now I guess I have these negative feelings around it.
3. Escape. For the same reasons as 2. I don't have to worry about anything other than doing my job.
4. I think I can confidently say I am capable of doing my job. There are obviously things I can't do but as I've only really been there just over a month and have been in my role for less than that then it's excusable.
5. We don't have a Christmas tree. The reason for this is because of the kitten and the boys have accepted that but still....I can't help but feel like a bad mum for not having a tree up for Christmas. To me, our house isn't Christmassy. I've done my best and put some lights up, Charles put tinsel wherever he wanted to and we have some pretty decorations on our coffee table and window sill but the lack of tree is really obvious, to me at least. And I kind of feel that if the boys dad has a tree, then they are best off with him for a while so that they can feel Christmassy and have the Christmas that a 4 and 6 year old deserve.

I took this photo back when their dad was on holiday, and need to remind myself of how I felt back then. That maybe I won't always be capable of giving them everything they need. But as long as I am confident and love them, then that's the most important thing.

"My team <3 font="">
First full week of solo parenting. Done. We are all still alive, no serious injuries and I haven't needed to turn to alcohol to get me through.
It's been tough but I did it, and I'm confident it will get better"


Five Things | Songs for My 2015 Soundtrack

This year has been full on, dramatic, with lots of highs...in fact one of the highest highs of my life, and a few lows. I don't know about you, but I find that songs and music play a big part in my life. They are my therapy when I need my head to be anywhere else other than where it is. I look out for words which sum up how I am feeling, in fact, sometimes it feels like the words look out for me as these songs just seem to appear as if I needed them. Even if at the time I didn't realise it.

Sigma : Changing

Bastille : Sleepsong

Demi Lovato : Confident

Sia : Elastic Heart

Sia : Burn The Pages



Getting a Job and Having Self Doubt

As I sit on my bed I can't help but to feel angry with myself.
I have the house to myself. I have a day off work. And at the moment, life feels pretty good.
There have been some major stumbling points the past couple of weeks. Lots of big changes and each of them I have coped with.
I have realised how strong I can be. And how putting myself first is important and not a selfish act.

I have a new job which I adore. A job that I look forward to. A job that, when it comes to 6 o clock, I feel sad to leave.
I work somewhere where everyone has made me feel so welcome and part of the team from the moment I walked in. People who make me laugh, who I feel like I have known for so long despite it only being 3 weeks.
People who I like spending time with and people who I look forward to seeing on a work day. People who can lift my mood when I'm feeling down, who can make me laugh until I cry, and people who I can have the most ridiculous and personal conversations with and feel totally comfortable about it.
I have a job I am proud of. I work with a team I am proud of. In a place I am proud of.
In fact, I have surprised myself with how passionate I am about it all so soon.
It just feels right.

And I've waited for this day, I knew it would be coming, just as it usually does.
That day when the self doubt crashes in and I question everything.
I question myself, I question others and I hate it.
I hate this.

The same things as always going through my mind.
"They probably find you really annoying"
"They probably don't like you"
"They probably look forward to the days you are not in"
"They probably regret giving you a job"
"They probably wish you weren't part of the team"

As much as I've quite liked who I am at the moment, in this time of "discovering who Lauren is" I now just feel totally overwhelmed. I wish so much that I could reign it in sometimes and be this quiet girl who sits back and and just gets on with life and isn't so "in your face".
But then at the same time, being like that isn't the real me right now, so do I just face up to the fact that maybe, at this moment in time, I am this annoying person who is a bit all over the place, and bouncy and a little bit hyper? Maybe right now I am a little over-excited at having something that I love and enjoy and the socialising side of not only my job but of my life at the moment.

I just wish I could stop these thoughts, and for once just be quite happy with the fact that MAYBE people actually like me and maybe people look forward to working with me and spending time with me, just as I do with them.

It's a waste of energy - it might not happen, and if you focus on a positive future, you're more likely to receive it.:


When you wake up...

When you wake up and you realise that rather than the smile you had become so used to has gone, and has been replaced by a mouth that turns down at the edges. When it feels heavy and a smile feels like the hardest thing to do, it feels like so much energy and hard work to get those raised.
When you wake up and realise that those eyes that have been so big with an extra sparkle recently are likely to be filled with tears, feel heavy and small...with a sparkle that has somehow disappeared.
When you wake up and find that somehow your happiness is drained a little. You don't want to jump out of bed and get on with the day. You lay there, for as long as you can, wanting to close your eyes and for the day to just go quickly so that maybe you can wake up tomorrow being you again.
I feel confused. I don't want to feel like this. I don't want to be that person.
I want to be the one who has been so excited about life and about new things that have happened recently. New people, new opportunities. Instead today, I woke up with those feelings far from my mind. Instead feeling as though I am incapable of taking on those opportunities and not good enough for those new people.
I want her back. I want me back.


Good Days Ahead

I was always someone who used to be pretty negative and had the mindset of "think negatively because then you won't be let down".
My glass was always half empty.

I suppose at times I am still like that, but not in such a negative way. At least, I don't see it to be that way.
I get told off by my mum and my friends for questioning certain things. Especially when it comes to putting myself down.

I think I'm a nice person. I am kind and I try to be funny. I would like to think that I am a good friend and I do care about other people a lot.
I suppose I struggle to understand that other people would see me as a good person too. Or that they would see the positive side of me.

I went on some online dating sites and there are various different types of men who contact you. Some good looking, some not so good looking, various ages, sizes and so on. Some after dating, but most...at least in my experience, were only really interested in one thing. And no, I didn't take any of them up on their offers...in case you were wondering.

I guess at first I found it nice. Just having that attention. But after realising that some men would message even if you didn't have a profile photo and were just really after someone to sext with and to boost their ego.
That wasn't what I wanted. I didn't like that kind of attention. I didn't want to feel used and have someone pretend they were interested in me and then after 2 messages turn the conversation to something completely inappropriate. It wasn't a great feeling but I quickly got used to it and found the block button quite useful....or would burst their bubble.

There are the good ones though. Not many of them, but there are some. I certainly didn't think one of the good ones would ever message me though.

I can't even begin to accept that anyone would find me attractive. Especially a man who I would consider out of my league. Someone who I would look at and bypass because there is no way they would ever notice me let alone speak to me, want to meet me and then see me again.
But you know...I guess sometimes lucky things happen.

I feel positive at the moment. My glass isn't half full or half empty...I am just grateful that I have a glass at all.
I have these moments when I feel really good about myself. And I think that it's down to new people who have entered my life and whether or not they happen to be around for a short time or a long time, right now, they are good for me. Very good for me.
I smile more than I have for a while and I wake up looking forward to the day. Life feels nice. Really, really nice.

And even if I have to keep pinching myself, and keep questioning how I got so lucky, my new jumper says it all.
There are good days ahead.



Waking Up Smiling

You know when you wake up and you feel like you've had a full nights sleep?
I grabbed my phone to check the time, pretty sure that I must have missed the alarm (note to self, must plug in alarm clock again).
What the....?!

After closing Whatsapp at 22.57, to be precise, I fell straight asleep. A few weeks ago I was still awake at 1, 2 or 3am, trying to get comfy on what was becoming quite an uncomfortable sofa. The boys would wake and come downstairs at 5.30-6am and there was no way of getting them back to bed.
And now, here I am in a cosy bed, with bedding I chose that is totally to my taste and reminds me of my 90's bedroom (minus the posters of Hanson on the wall, maybe I can get some from eBay?). Fairy lights wrapped around the headboard...and yes, I do try to be romantic, even if it's only me who appreciates it.

Anyway, back to it being 3am.
Usually I would be frustrated and annoyed at being wide awake at such a ridiculous time. But this time I didn't mind, simply because I woke up happy.
I'm probably talking this up and tempting fate and soon enough I'll be back to sleepless nights and waking up feeling like I...well I don't know...feeling a bit down about myself I suppose.
But right now, this feeling is lovely. Waking up with a smile already on my face, with happy thoughts in my head and the occasional butterfly in my tummy.
I look in the mirror and don't recognise the person looking back at me. And for once this is a positive thing.
I don't point out the things I don't like about myself and those things I want to change. Instead I see the good points.
As I put my make up on I don't plaster it on, hiding those signs of sadness, lack of sleep and stress. Instead I try my best to show off the eyes that have never felt so open and big. Adding bronzer and blusher to try and accentuate a face that is slimmer than it has been for a while.
Foundation isn't even opened, instead relying simply on concealer because you know, at 30 there are lines and signs of age that I just can't avoid.

I want make a bit more effort with my hair, and choose clothes that I feel good in. Ones that show off parts of me that I feel are my best features, and covering up those areas that aren't so great. Instead of grabbing clothes that feel comfortable as I lay curled up on my bed feeling sorry for myself.

And at 3am, even though it's dark outside and the birds aren't even singing yet, I lay there ready for a good day.
I knew I had to get back to sleep so I thought over the happy memories that I'd gained the day before, the memories that were the reason for my smile.

And I drifted back off to sleep, confident and sure that when my alarm went off in a few hours time that the smile would still remain.

And it did.



Online Dating: Ego Boosts and Insecurities

Online dating is...interesting. I think my opinions change on it every day really.
Sometimes it feels a bit...enclosed. It feels like there is you, in the middle, of this small crowd and they are bombarding you and trying to get at you and you don't know where to turn or how to kindly ask them to leave and not bother you.
Some take the hint at your silence, and just walk away. Others hang around and keep trying. You politely decline, or engage in small everyday chit chat (weather, work, why you are single) and let it fizzle out.

It can give you an ego boost, when people compliment you on your photos or just want to talk to you. Even if you're not interested in them. But it can also knock your confidence when you look at the people who are messaging you and you think "Surely I deserve a little better than that".

There are the ones you see and swoon over and then forget about because they are way out of your league.

Then there are times when those men, the ones you think are way out of your league, message you. You "play along", knowing that soon enough they'll realise and messages will stop. Or you accept that they don't care who they talk to, they just want to ego boost too and actually have no intentions of meeting you or taking anything further.

I guess one of the big rules when it comes to online dating is to not get your hopes up.
Being behind a computer screen or behind a phone gives us all the chance to be whoever we want.
We can have some added confidence, sass, humour.
We can be a bit more talkative, we can hide information, we can have time to think before we answer any questions. All of these are not so easy with a face to face meeting.

I've always been someone who gets their hopes up in a lot of aspects of life. I suppose because I trust people too easily, and I kind of want people to be as sincere as me.

I think when it comes to online dating I'm a bit different to others. If I am interested in someone I can't have conversations elsewhere.
Even if it comes to nothing and doesn't even get to the dating stage, I like to focus on that one person.

When a date is mentioned by someone you believe is out of your league you can't help but to think "Wait, what?! This is a joke right? Have they seen my photos? How can they like me or be interested enough in me to want to meet?"
For someone to want to meet you and go on a date, well, it's quite lovely really. But when that person is, to you, out of your league, you can't help but to wonder how you got so lucky.
At least this is how it is for me.
I obviously remind myself to not get my hopes up. And those self doubt thoughts come in strong.
I think about how it will most probably be a one off. Hell, he might even do a runner halfway into the date or even as soon as he see's me.

I remind myself that there could be a chance that someone could like me. Or be interested in me.
Even if it goes nowhere, the fact that someone see's my photos and wants to know more. The fact that someone actually puts in effort to have a conversation and to get to know me. And feels like I am worth their time. Well....it's really quite nice.

It's an ego boost and although I feel insecure and have those feelings of self doubt, I know that deep down, maybe I need to ignore those feelings and accept that one day, maybe, just maybe, someone might want me in their life again.

For me, to have someone accept that I have children and to accept that my situation isn't ideal at the moment in terms of getting a divorce, is a bit overwhelming. So often I've found that people back off when you say about having children because it's "not ideal for them" or get put off by the divorce because they believe that there is still a chance you could get back together (not the case with us at all).
For someone to see past that is lovely, despite the fact I then put pressure on myself to make sure that I'm worth a chance.

Because really, I am a nice girl, I have a kind heart, and despite my insecurities maybe, just maybe, others see the good in me anyway. Without me having to prove it.



I Can't Do This

There are so many moments lately when I think that. "I can't do this".
I can't do anything.
Life. Being a mum. Being a friend. Being a daughter.
"I can't do this."
I can't spend another night on the sofa.
I can't go upstairs in the morning to sort the boys out for school whilst he remains in the warm comfy bed enjoying what is essentially a lay in because I have been awake since 5.30 with the children, or as he lays there on his phone when I have an inbox full of unanswered emails.
"I can't do this".
I can't clean the house again for another estate agent.
I can't clean the house again for another viewing.
I can't do the viewings. I can't show anyone around my home. Although it may not feel like home right now.
I can't take anyone upstairs and show them the bedroom at the back and the smaller bedroom at the front. The rooms I decorated to please two special little boys.
The rooms I slept in when breastfeeding, or when the boys were poorly or simply wanted a cuddle.
I can't hear someone else talk about their children taking over those rooms.
"I can't do this".
I can't make promises to my children. I can't excite them with a new house, a new bed. I can't excite them with a holiday next year we may never actually go on. I can't excite them with a two day break to their favourite attraction.
I can't even tell them where we will live. I can't tell them how many bedrooms we will have.
I can't tell them how big the garden will be, or whether or not there will even be room for their garden toys.
"I can't do this".
I can't have another argument because communication is failing where it should be really important right now.
I can't fight about things that would be easily resolved if communication was better.
I can't understand how someone can change so much when you break up.
I can't understand how unrecognisable they become.
"I can't do this".
I can't sit opposite my solicitor and accept the reasons for divorce.
I can't sit there and fight or beg for what is rightfully mine.
I can't understand all the legal wording so nod along hoping that soon it will click and I'll get it.
I can't add any more information to my already full brain.
"I can't do this".
I can't make promises and keep them.
I can't be as reliable as I want to be or as reliable as I should be.
I can't remember the most simple of things.
"I can't do this'.
I can't read about your perfect life or look at those perfectly posed family photos.
I can't read about how everything is so amazing in your life. I can't read as you reccount how fairytale-esque your relationship is, and how you know for sure that you will be together forever.
"I can't do this".
I can't worry about the most insignificant of issues. I can't stress and drop everything in my life over the most ridiculous, small things that ultimately mean very little. They won't hurt anyone and in a years time won't even be remembered.
I can't add others problems to mine. And deal with other dramas when I have so much going on myself.
I just can't.



I don't regret my decision to end my marriage. It was the right thing to do and I am happier for it.
I feel like a weight is lifted from my shoulders and I feel like I can now be me. Or at least allow myself to grow to who I am supposed to be without being confined or without feeling like I need to consider how someone else views me too. And the person they want me to be.

I'm happy. I'm confident in my decision and in myself.
And I feel that I am ready to put myself out there and meet people. When I say people we clearly know I mean men.

To some it might seem soon. Only 2 months split from a 10 year marriage but when there have been months of feeling disconnected, and leading seperate lives, it's not really too soon at all.
And we all cope differently.
I'm not on a husband hunt.
I want to meet someone who likes me. Who thinks I am cute. Someone who wants to spend time with me, who values me and who respects me.

I think I have a lot going for me. It might seem like an egotistical thing to say. But I do.
I am a nice person. I like to think I am fun and funny. And that I'm a good person to have around.
As well as other stuff too.

But I can't help but to feel undesirable too.
Being a mum seems to be a big deal. And I get that. It's a big part of my life and they are a big responsibility. However, I'm not looking for someone who would take them on immediately. Or even meet them any time soon.
I want my own life, seperate to them whilst they are with their dad...or even when they are asleep in bed. To have someone come round to snuggle up to as we watch a film together or just sit and talk with a glass of wine or cup of tea.
Getting a divorce, it's not exactly the most attractive or appealing thing to a man surely.
Despite the fact that my divorce would never be a topic of conversation because I don't want to bring anyone into it or make it anyone else's issue, instead wanting to find someone who can take my mind away from it, and to distract me, I know that it must be totally off putting to anyone who would possibly be interested in me other than that.

When I think of those things, and of what it must look like from the outside, I can't help but to feel totally undesirable.
To seem as though I am this nice girl who comes with a whole tonne of baggage. Even though this is not the case.

I want my own life. I want the life that I've tried to have for a while.
When I can be Lauren, and no one else.
When I can finally feel like a human, and like someone who matters to other people.
To feel like someone people (particularly a man) may want in their life.
To be someone who is on someone's mind for a good reason. Someone who is thought about.

This situation may not be perfect. But I am determined to feel positive and to get through it the best I can.
Whether I am desirable or not.



Adulting Part II | No Longer Home

Making the decision to separate from my husband wasn't easy. It was something that had been on my mind, and maybe his, for a long time.
When there is a marriage, a house, and two children it's not an easy decision to make at all. It wasn't as simple as "let's seperate" "Ok sure!". And that was part of what kept me there, at home, unhappy, for a while.
All of the other things to consider and to take into account and having to mentally process it all. Creating lists of what had gone wrong, what was right, what could we fix, and as much as I tried my best to keep hold of what I thought we had, and what I thought was right, there was one word that I just kept going over and over. And it was happiness.

That was the priority. For me, for him, for the children and for our families. Because that was something that kept going around in my head. I obviously confided in my mum, and my brother, about how I was feeling and it didn't seem fair to put that onto them. The worry, concern and so on.

It didn't seem fair to feel like we had to pretend to be happy together. And although I asked a few times if he was happy, and he said yes, I felt that it wasn't the case.
I felt like the boys were young enough to be able to go through this separation with us still being able to hide any anger, for them to be able to be unaware of certain emotions and situations, conflicts and so on. We are able to make it a little easier by making a fuss of things like two Christmasses, two bedrooms, two houses.
I felt it only right to explain to Charles what is going on, so he knows the full situation, and I feel so lucky to have a son with such a sensitive, emotional, understanding heart because he accepted that mummy and daddy don't love each other anymore but will stay friends (at least we will keep communication polite for the sake of the boys).

On Saturday my second "adulting" experience happened. I tidied and cleaned the house better than I ever have before. Which with no coffee, food, and a hangover wasn't easy or fun. But I did have a real sense of achievement.
At 3pm the estate agent pulled up in her super clean white car....I swear this is standard colour for estate agents...of course I am only basing that on the fact that I have been in an estate agents car and it was white so it's a totally scientific based on that alone.

I was totally fine about an estate agent looking around our house. It has a weird feeling around it at the moment, I think mainly due to me trying to disconnect from it but also due to me sleeping on the sofa and not having a space of my own there.
I have my mind elsewhere with distractions and other things to help not feel so emotional about what is actually going on.
But as we sat on the sofa and she discussed the estimate, and the process, including the fact that they would show potential buyers around I all of a sudden felt my eyes tingle.
I pictured me showing a couple around, who would be planning their family or indeed already have children.
Their children would take over the space that my children now have. The space that is theirs, that they can do what they like in (within reason) . The space that makes them feel safe.
Their rooms that I have slept in, numerous times when they were poorly, being breastfed, or just in need of a cuddle.

For a minute or two I remembered what it was like when it felt like home.
When I felt comfortable, safe, and warm there. When I felt I could relax, be happy and live.
And I cried a little bit. Not for long, but I felt that I needed to let that emotion come and let it ride itself out.
And it did. And at this time, as I sit at my mums, the place I feel comfortable, safe and warm, happy and relaxed, I think of that semi-detached house, the one that was once so full of happiness and love, and it doesn't feel like home.
It feels like a building.
But the thought that soon enough, I will be possibly showing other people around, people who will potentially fill that house again with happiness and love and call it their home, makes me feel strange.
Maybe a little jealous...

I was glad that my mum had come round to help me out with the boys and to be there when I spoke to the estate agent. I didn't even think about asking about commission and prices and she thankfully did.
It's a super daunting experience especially when it's not due to a happy or exciting circumstance and at times I don't feel old enough to be doing such grown up things like this.

But as with this whole process, it's adulting. And it's part of life.
Except this part won't include the killer heels, and will instead involve a heart filled with a little bit of hope that one day I will be back somewhere that feels like my home.
Just as this one used to do.



Jamie's Italian, The Royal Arcade Norwich | Review

I remember when I was little we went on a caravan holiday to Kent. We walked into the town centre and decided to have dinner. My dad and brother wanted to visit a certain fried chicken place and I fancied visiting a cute little Italian restaurant. So we split up and my mum and I had a lovely authentic dinner. I remember the place so well and I guess this confirmed and started my love of Italian food.

I've always preferred pasta and those proper Italian pizzas to any other food....well...Greek food is a close second but Italian is my passion.

In 2012 Jamie's Italian was opened in The Royal Arcade in Norwich. This is a beautiful location, and although in the main city centre, in the perfect location amongst all of the shops, is down a back street so you can avoid seeing the hustle and bustle of busy shoppers and city workers.

I was recently contacted to visit Jamie's Italian Norwich, which was rather exciting as I hadn't yet managed to visit! Which is quite shameful given how long it has been open.
My mum had a week off work so we planned a girly lunch, along with a mini shopping spree because it would be rude not to!

When it comes to parking there are lots of options in Norwich, however if visiting Jamie's Italian I would recommend parking in either the Castle Mall car park or at The Forum. These are both cheaper options and the Castle Mall car park is pretty much guaranteed to have spaces.

Before visiting I assumed that the restaurant was only small and was only on the ground floor. That was until we went in and were lead up some stairs to a beautiful room perfectly laid out with a variety of tables and chairs to suit any number of guests.

We were seated near the window, which was lovely as we do like to people watch and the light was perfect for a lunch date.

I'm always quite big on customer service and I think how you are greeted when you enter a restaurant is just as important as the quality of the food.
The staff could not be faulted at all. If only I was on the ball enough to have got their names!
As we entered we were greeted by a female member of staff who walked us upstairs to our table. Not only did she make us feel welcome but she took her time to talk to us as she walked us to our table and as we sat she explained that this was the first day of their new menu. This wasn't something I, or the PR, had planned and was quite by chance. She explained that the staff had all had a taster of the new menu the previous night and that they were all really excited about it.
Our waitor then came over and told us of the specials and what I particularly liked about this was that he didn't just list them, he went into detail about how each dish was cooked and again, he was passionate about it. You could tell that it was genuine passion too, and at the end of the meal I had a really lovely conversation with this gentleman (I really wish I had got his name!) as he talked to me about the menu, how the menus are different depending on which restaurant you visit, and also about how this is the first time that the menu in the restaurant has worked alongside the release of one of Jamie's recipe books.

So, should we get down to what we ordered?

For drinks, although tempted to order a glass of wine, we instead ordered the homemade lemonade. We had a regular homemade lemonade and also a special pink lemonade. My mum preferred the pink lemonade and I went for the regular lemonade which was...hardly surprising but still....very strong. I find this perfect with an Italian meal because I feel like it cleanses the palette and also reminds me of Limoncello...which is never a bad thing hey?!


ITALIAN NACHOS Crispy fried ravioli stuffed with mozzarella, ricotta & Bella Lodi, served with spicy Sicilian tomato sauce
SPICY MEATBALL BRUSCHETTA Free-range pork & fennel meatballs in a fiery ‘nduja tomato sauce with lemony rocket & Parmesan


BAKED CRESPELLE Spinach, Westcombe ricotta & basil baked in gluten-free buckwheat pancakes with smoked mozzarella, sweet buttery leeks, Sicilian tomato sauce & Parmesan    

PENNE CARBONARA Crispy chunks of smoked pancetta, sweet buttery leeks, lemon & a traditional carbonara sauce





TIRAMISU The classic Italian dessert topped with chocolate shavings & orange zest 
WARM SOUR CHERRY FRANGIPANE Whipped mascarpone, crushed amaretti & fresh mint tips

I have a bit of a thing for Nachos. If they are on a menu then I have to have them...so give me the option of an Italian version and BOOM! I'm in heaven. The Italian Nachos were honestly, incredible. Crispy on the outside with a soft cheesy filling, these were a great alternative to the 'crisp style' nachos you are served elsewhere. The chilli dip was also a perfect accompaniment.

I think what we both liked most about our meals was that, alongside being fresh and full of flavour, we didn't feel uncomfortably full and bloated like you can do after a meal with carbs! Let's face it, when you are then going shopping and potentially trying on quite fitted tops and dresses the last thing you want is to be bloated!
My mum ordered the Carbonara and was impressed at being able to order a smaller portion, especially when it arrived and was an impressive size any!
The chilli fries were a nice alternative to normal fries, although a little tip, try and mix them up a bit as we found a lot of the chilli coating had dropped to the bottom of the pot it was served in.

We couldn't fault our visit at all, and plan to visit again one evening so we can also try out the cocktails.

If you are ever in Norwich I highly recommend giving Jamie's Italian a visit...you won't be disappointed.
(It's also right near Joules so, perfect hey?!)



A Cuddle

It's all a bit odd at the moment. Life is.
I know I've made the right decision for me, for him, for our families and for the children.
I suppose in terms of my social life not a lot has changed yet really, other than being able to go out and not feel like I have to ask permission or to feel guilty at not being at home with my husband when instead I'm out with friends. 

I've had enough distractions I suppose to keep me away from what is going on and to keep my mind balanced I suppose.
When things have been a certain way for so long it isn't really a shock to be going through what we are and will be going through. 
It wasn't sudden or unexpected. We're basically able to live as we have been because for a while we haven't lived as a married couple should. 

I lived with it because it felt kind of like I had to. Did I really want a "failed marriage"? But, could I live my life any more with the way things were? Pretending it was OK that we didn't hug or cuddle or even hold hands anymore.
I was OK with it for a while, because I got used to it I suppose. It gradually got to that point so I didn't miss those things as such.

However in the last few months it didn't seem fair on either of us to live like this anymore. I couldn't help but to think that, whilst at the end of my 20's at the time, I was too young to almost throw my life away and to not have affection or attention until the day I die.

I've always enjoyed a harmless flirt. I don't see anything wrong with innocent flirting whatsoever, it's part of my nature I suppose. But then I came to the realisation that maybe one day a harmless flirt could turn into someone being interested in me. Someone wanting to give me those things that had been missing from my marriage. I'm not talking about commitment, more the affection and just being made to feel....nice. To feel pretty, and appreciated. 

It had me wondering what I then wanted. Was my marriage perfect in every other way that I could live without that other stuff?
And, it wasn't. We had grown apart, we had different interests, priorities, and had lost that connection and spark that had kept us together for over 10 years.
It felt unfair for both of us to keep living like that. Not only were we being unfair on each other, but on ourselves too.

I couldn't help but to think that it was unfair of me to deny any attention from someone else if I got it, because I felt I kind of deserve that. Everyone deserves attention, and although I didn't feel like I needed it or missed it, I did find myself recently whether or not it was something I could live without "forever".

I'm an affectionate girl. I like a cuddle, I like a hug, I like an arm round my shoulder or my waist. And the more I thought about that, and thought about what I would be missing out on, the more I realised that life just wasn't right for us at all.

And so the decision was made. A weight was lifted for us both I think, for me at least.
And I did almost have this feeling of freedom. Knowing that innocent flirts were ok IF they were to become anything more. 

However, since making that decision it's almost like I am craving a cuddle.
Just a cuddle.
Not a hug.
But a cuddle. One where strong arms almost kind of sweep you up and pull you in close.
You know the ones, which make you feel so small and protected. The ones that make you feel comforted, where your head rests on their chest and every now and then they pull you in a little tighter, like a small, gentle, squeeze, letting you know that they are enjoying being close to you too. 

That's all I crave and want now.
An affectionate cuddle.
And just a little bit of attention, and appreciation.



Being Irrational and a Walking Advert

I found it strange when a friend in her 20's relationship ended and she worried so much that she wouldn't find anyone else.
She feared that no man would ever find her attractive and no man would go near her. She feared that she would be alone for the rest of her life.

I thought it was crazy. How could someone that young be worried about spending the rest of their life alone when they had the rest of their life ahead of them?
How could she be so worried that no one would ever find her attractive when she takes so much pride in her appearance, and is an attractive woman?
How could she believe that in this world not one person would ever want to be with her again?

I really didn't get it.
Until now.

We're all programmed and built differently and although some people will want to be out of a relationship, and away from any commitment or whatever from the opposite sex, others may crave that, and may be ready to jump into a relationship pretty soon.

For me, it's not even about a relationship. But more a feeling of the company of a man, not necessarily in that way, but even just the friendship and hanging out with a man that I want.
Maybe it's the fact that I don't have my dad in my life anymore, and that my brother lives miles away, that heightens that need for male company.
Throughout school I had male best friends and would regularly hang out with my brother and his friends when they were round.

When I went to the Isle of Man I loved being in that environment. Being surrounded by men and feeling comfortable enough to be around them without feeling inferior and feeding off their banter and so on.
I feel comfortable in the company of men because I suppose I don't feel so judged by them as I do by women, I feel a little more like I can be myself around them, and that I can talk to them about pretty much anything.

I know it's early days for me, from the eyes of other people.
But for a long time I have felt unattractive, lonely, not good enough. All of those things.
For so long I felt not good enough for the person who I was going to spend the rest of my life with. For so long I felt single.

And now I am single. Now I have that "status" and it is scary.
There is that feeling of having to put in effort to make sure you look nice, to make sure you are looking your best, just in case.
I'm a walking advert for myself I guess.

And I can't help but to get those feelings like my friend did.
That feeling of not ever meeting anyone else, never having someone look at you and to want to spend time with you. To want to cuddle you, spend time with you. To look at their phone and wonder why you haven't messaged them.

I feel like, at 30, that's it.
And I know 30 is still considered young, or is young, whatever, but there is that feeling of "It's too late". I feel like I'll never meet anyone else who would find me attractive.
It's not about replacing my husband, or wanting a life partner. But more finding someone who, for now, enjoys my company, wants to get to know me, and would even just like me in their life in some form.

Like, what are my good points? Why should I expect anyone to want to spend time with me?
If I find myself annoying, then everyone else will too surely? Especially someone who I would want to  enjoy my company, like me for what is on the inside as well as what is on the outside...which is a completely different blog post all together I suppose!!

As much as I can see that it is irrational, I also can't help but to feel that way.
I can't help but to feel like I'm never going to be that person that someone wants to spend any amount of time with.
I feel like I constantly have to justify myself. To constantly sell myself.
I've always felt like that.
But particularly now.



Divorce and the Innocence of Children

The boys now know. For a while I thought it was best that they didn't, mainly because they are so young and to turn round and say "Mummy and daddy are going to not live together anymore" whilst we are still living under the same roof seemed a little too confusing and too much to put them through.
However, Charles asked some questions which eventually lead to him being told and thankfully we've managed to do it in such a way that it isn't the most devastating news for him.
I remember when my parents split, it was awful but mainly because of the situation and because I was so aware of the consequences and feelings around it all. I think the positive side to children being so young when this sort of thing occurs is that they don't get involved in the emotional side as much. They don't understand as much as someone does when they are 15, when they can take in and remember certain conversations and actions.
At 4 and 6 it's easy to distract them and to only mention the good things, or things that would make them happy.
In turn, they make it a little easier for us. They mention things that are ridiculous and so unimportant, to us at least, but things that to them mean so much.
Their innocence makes it easier.
Charles worried about whether or not we would have Nick Jnr anymore, and asked what would be on our tvs.
Harry decided that he would live with me and Charles would go with his dad.
He then decided that they would swap over half way during the week, not realising that they would then not see each other.
Charles wondered whether or not they would have two wardrobes and when I mentioned the fact that they would, and added that another good thing about having two houses is that they would kind of have two Christmases meaning Father Christmas would visit twice because he knows everything and knows that they would be celebrating with me and then with their dad. Charles' reply was..."Yeah but, does Father Christmas know that deers lose their horns?" Random, innocent and so out of the blue that I laughed until I cried.
And then there was the school playground. As we walked through and I mentioned how I would take them some days, and pick them up, and other days their dad would do the drop off and pick up...Charles decided to quite loudly inform me...."No more babies for you then!!"
And as I almost died of embarrassment I couldn't help but to laugh and to be comforted by his innocence. The innocence that helped take away some of those feelings of guilt that pick away at me.
As I try to remind myself that really we are doing the right thing, the children's reactions take away the seriousness, and provide a much needed happy distraction.



Adulting Part I | The First Steps

Since turning 30 last Friday adulthood seems to have crashed on my doorstep, or lap, however you would like to visualise it.
Not only the whole divorce thing but the fact that I can now make my own decisions, be in charge of my life, and to an extent do what I want.
3 bottles of Prosecco as gifts instead of Apple Sourz and cider created a certain feeling of being an adult.

Solo parenting at the weekend, although not a new concept but now more of a "thing" than it ever was before, switches on that adult mode.

Thinking logistically about where I am going to stay in the evenings and night-time's to make our living situation....erm...liveable is also something that seems quite grown up. Although, this also brings on massive feelings of vulnerability so whether or not that makes me a full time grown up I don't know.

And then there was Tuesday. The day that had me adulting more than I've ever adulted before.
A meeting with a solicitor.

Gosh, standing outside whilst I waited for them to unlock the doors from lunch was nerve wracking. My heart was pounding and I felt really open. I felt as though everyone who could see me would be judging me and deciding for themselves why I would be needing to go to a solicitors.

I almost took up my friends offer of going along with me. Thinking I wouldn't understand or take in any of the information given to me. The same way that post-tattoos I had to text the same friend who came with me to ask what the after care was because I wasn't really taking it in.

However, the "scary solicitor" as I imagined her, was really rather lovely and in no time at all I felt comfortable and confident enough to be there and to do what I had to do.
It was daunting, and it wasn't the nicest thing to ever go through. And despite it being a simple (and free thank goodness!) half an hour chat, I ended up curled up on my mums sofa, surrounded by cuddly dogs, feeling quite drained and exhausted.

Getting married and having children, buying a house and making life long plans always felt very grown up. But this, seperation and divorce and an uncertain future, feels like full on adulting.
And I can do it, because I have no choice.

But I will ensure that I have on a pair of killer heels as I go.



The "I'm OK" Head Bob.

Do you remember that scene in Friends, where Richard tells Monica about his divorce? Season 2, episode 15 apparently. He explains how people do a head tilt when they ask if he is ok, and he responds with a head bob and a "yeah, I'm ok".

I always loved that scene...ok mainly for Tom Selleck but still, I thought it was rather funny. And now, I kind of love it more.
I'm in the middle of sorting my stuff out. Being strict with myself and throwing out anything I really don't need. Packing up clothes I'm unlikely to grab for on a day to day basis to send to my mums to hang in her spare wardrobe (yeah I know, SPARE wardrobe?!) until things are sorted and I know where I will be living and whatever.
So, anyway. Now that the separation is out there, and by out there I mean we've done the whole Facebook announcement which obviously makes it like proper official. I wonder if in a few years time the decree absolute will be abolished and the change of a Facebook relationship status will be enough to confirm someone's divorce?!

When you get engaged people expect a standard reaction...tears, smiles, squeals, Towards the end of a pregnancy we expect the standard "I am fed up" comments from the mother to be. And when it comes to a separation people do seem to expect a standard response. They expect tears, a sad face, maybe a sob story or a story of how the person involved didn't see it coming, some kind of story that could be potential school run gossip.

The head tilt is a thing. It is an actual thing. A thing that people do a lot. And following the "I'm ok" head bob, the head tilt again and then, the head bob. 
As someone who is open and honest about most things, especially things like this I suppose, I do get a bit funny when it is assumed that I am not ok. 
When it comes to something like this, it isn't a spur of the moment decision...like "LET'S BOOK A LAST MINUTE HOLIDAY! OH, AND AT THE SAME TIME SHOULD WE GET A DIVORCE?!". 
There was months of confusion, sadness, confusion, hurt and more confusion. And deciding to actually go through with that conversation wasn't easy, but was necessary. 
Before that conversation, I wasn't ok. I felt like I was living a lie. I wasn't being myself. I wasn't being true to the person who I always promised I would be honest too. 
I couldn't live any more pretending that this is the life I want and the life that I am happy with.

We didn't live as a married couple for a while. And that is sad. But, we just simply grew apart. 
I tried to "fix it" and to "snap out of it" and tried to be the person I was before. The wife I was last year, or two years ago, but I realised she was gone and to try and be her again was a lie. 
The person I am now, this confidence, this need for a social life. This person who kind of craves freedom.
And as hard as it was to make that step to say "this isn't right, neither or us should be going through this", and to potentially hurt the person I once thought I would spend my life with, I know it would have been harder to spend every day together avoiding the issue. And it would have hurt us both more. 

I have received the most incredible support from those around me the last 2 weeks. It's been quite overwhelming and hard to deal with really.
I messaged a friend today to thank her and admitted that before, I hadn't appreciated her as much as I do now. Because in these times you really do find out who your friends are. You find out who you can trust, who you can't, who is there for you and supports you and who doesn't.

This is scary. It is tiring. And I'm sure there will be days when it seems like a battle.
I'm ok.
I really am ok.



Life and the End of my 20's.

Tomorrow I turn 30. It seems like a really big deal. 30 feels like a real "grown up" age. Like it's time to really knuckle down and be that adult that you have to now be.

My 20's have been cool.  I've spend the whole of my 20's married, I had jobs that I loved, jobs that I hated, I tried hard to have a relationship with my dad which I was then able to realise wasn't worth trying for anymore. 

I suffered a lot with mental health and as much as a suffered, I fought too. In fact, I fought really bloody hard.
I battled with my body putting on weight, losing weight.
My body treated me to two pregnancies and allowed me to feed these two beautiful boys for as long as I wanted/needed.

I made friends, I lost friends, and I found the most amazing friends who I am confident will be in my life forever.

I visited some amazing countries and had the best experience of my life at the Isle of Man TT this year. Spending 5 days with one of the most important people in my life.

And this year. Unexpectedly, I changed. Not in a negative way. But it was almost like I found myself. I found a confidence I didn't know I had. I found bravery that I would never have expected to have.
I found this woman that all of a sudden quite liked motorbikes and appreciated everything about them. A woman who thought she would never even consider getting a tattoo and ended up with 3 and a PINTEREST board full of future ideas for more.

There were consequences with this change though. And as a result I grew apart from someone who was a big part of my 20's. The person who made it possible for me to be a housewife, who made those children possible, who paid for those holidays and chances to explore other countries.
There came that moment when I realised that I didn't want to go into my 30's pretending everything was OK anymore. It had been a long time coming I suppose and 2 weeks ago we seperated.
I am ok. I am scared of what is to come but I am ok. 

A weight has been lifted from my shoulders, and his too I would imagine, and as we learn how to now navigate through this chapter of our lives I actually feel stronger than ever.
It's funny how you discover so much about yourself and those around you when you go through something like this. 

You wake up to how amazing your friends are and let me tell you, my friends are the best there ever was. Their support has been overwhelming. As has the support from my family, my mum in particular.

I remind myself that as scary as this may be, I'll be OK. Because people go through these things. I'm not suffering. I'm not pretending everything is OK with us anymore. We don't have to wonder what the other one is thinking or question the other ones feelings anymore.
We can be civil, and maybe be friends for the sake of our children at least.

Tomorrow is going to be OK. 

Tomorrow, as I turn 30, I am looking forward to the future. I am looking forward to realising just how strong and grown up I can be. 

I am looking forward to celebrating my birthday with my best friend and then having an evening with an even bigger group of friends.
I'm looking forward to heading into my 30's and to discover more about the person I have become and am continuing to become. Who I've had to keep hidden a little and to maybe not let blossom as much as she wanted to in fear that it wasn't the right thing to do. 

I can't stop her though. I can't not be myself for the sake of other people, even if the consequences are not what I expected in life.
Things happen for a reason I suppose.

But one thing I am sure of, and confident of, is that the me I have changed in to, the one I have become and am still becoming. She is a good, better, updated version of me.
And I like her. I actually like her.
That always felt like a big thing for me, to say I like myself. But right now, I do.

My 20's have been wonderful and I saw them in as a married woman.
I now see in my 30's as a single woman. I don't like the term single mum. I don't want to combine my relationship status with that role. It doesn't seem right.

I can do this. Everything will be OK. And although this isn't how I envisaged seeing in my 30's, it is how life has turned out and I'm alright with that.

Life is far too short to hold back and I'm ready to grab whatever happiness and experience I can and live the best life I can for me.

It won't be easy I'm sure.
But in the end....it will all be OK.


The Replacement

When my dad left us I worried about how my brother would take it, more than how I would. Despite it always being me and my dad as part of a team and my mum and my brother, I couldn't help but to think that a boy needs his dad, a male role model and a male figure there for him.
It's all a bit of a haze now. We both reacted in different ways and other things that happened around that time made it hard for me to see how my brother was coping.

When it came to my wedding I wanted my brother to walk me down the aisle, but it would have caused too much of an issue so it didn't happen.
I will never forget him getting one of my favourite songs on at the reception so he could dance with me. I was singing along to the song, Jessica Simpson "With You" and I remember him clearly telling me not to sing.

I have so many wonderful, special memories with him that just keep being added to over and over and he truly is one of the most important person in my life.

This past week has been the first time in almost 2 years, since I completely cut contact with my dad, that I have missed having someone in that role.
Someone to give me that feeling of protection, support and to be my strength. And just to tell me they love me and that they are there for me.
I realised pretty soon, that it wasn't my dad I missed. It was that role, but not necessarily him.
I have someone who replaced him, who took on that role without needing to. Who became head of our family, and is that strong male figure we need.

My brother. And right now, I miss him more than I ever have done.
This year, with the memories we made and the fact we have got closer due to him now sharing his passion of the TT and motorbikes in general with me,
I feel like we are closer than ever, despite not being close in terms of distance. But the distance right now, is breaking my heart.
I just want to sit in a room with him. We don't have to talk. We don't have to acknowledge each other. But just being there, that's all I need.

My mum came home yesterday from a meal out with a friend, and walked in to find me watching the Classic TT on ITV4. I joked that it must be like having my brother there.
And then I burst into tears. Because I just want him here.
My twin and my best friend.
The replacement. The man who fills the role of dad, that strong male role in my life.

He may not agree with everything I do in my life, he may be super protective, he may find me annoying most of the time. He may be grumpy and I may feel like he doesn't want me to talk to him sometimes.

But in the hardest of times, it's his arms I want to wrap round me to say that I will be ok. It's his acceptance that I need.
He is everything to me. And always will be.


When Nights In Replace Nights Out

If you're anything like me and my friends, you'll find arranging a time to socialise with friends a bit of a challenge.
Where to go, what to do, as well as arranging time when you are all free can become quite frustrating and time goes by with no plans being made that in the end, you can all give up on making plans all together.

With technology being as it is these days, cinema dates can be replaced with either a dvd night in or binge watching the latest popular series on Netflix whilst sharing a bottle of wine, pizza and snacks. Or, for a more random alternative and one I partake in sometimes, Facebook messenger/Skype conversations whilst watching the same film or tv programme in your own house. Saving the cost of a babysitter, cinema parking, plus all being able to drink some wine without one needing to be the designated driver all add to the benefits.

Smart phones and tablets take away that need to hunt out local pubs for the best pub quiz, and having to sit for 10 minutes trying to come up with an appropriate team name. 

With a variety of different apps to download and take advantage of you can either have a pub quiz from the comfort of your own home, all together in a friends home, or even in the local pub but playing against each other instead. Winner buys the next round?

Most games that have traditionally been played in person can now be found online, sites such as Bingo Extra being one of these
The thought of going to my local Bingo hall isn't really that appealing to me. Not only would I find it incredibly intimidating (have you seen how competitive and serious some Bingo players are?!) but there are also extra costs such as parking, refreshments and so on.
Playing free bingo at home is a perfect way to relax and unwind and the ability to fit it around your routine, dipping in and out as and when you please without being restricted to time limits is certainly another advantage.

Also, lets not forget the biggest advantage to playing bingo and other games at home...the chance to wear your pyjamas and no one else would know. Because apparently it's not suitable attire to leave the house in?!



Your Babies

I remember you telling me about a dream you had. Where you woke up in the morning upset because your babies had gone. I don't want to talk too much about the dream, because it's personal of course, but it was almost like you had the realisation that your babies were now grown up.
You always say that although we are adults we are still your children, and that it's hard to accept (if that's the correct word to use) that your children are now grown up. We have responsibilities, our own lives, decisions and choices.

The thing is, we may be adults, but we are still your babies. We still rely on you, we still need you. Sometimes the only person who can fix things is you. You help us in so many ways and we don't know what we would do without you.
You are the most amazing support and not only are you our mother, but you are our best friend.

15 years ago your role became even more important, and you stepped into it perfectly. We became that tight unit of 3 and we proved to ourselves, and everyone else, that we didn't need that person who used to make our unit a 4. We worked so well without that person.
We trusted each other, and we still do. We all fell into these particular roles and it was so hard at times, but knowing we were all there for each other made it easier.

I feel so proud of that unit of 3. Recently we've spent a few days as that unit. The bbq in your garden, the canoeing and roast dinner. I felt so content, and so proud.
Of course I adore my children but being there, just the 3 of us, gave me the best feeling. Simply being Lauren, the daughter and the twin. Sitting with two people who mean so much to me, more than I can ever explain.

We all joke about Dale being grumpy, and we all know that conversations with him are done on his terms. And it's easy to accept that, especially when there are evenings when an hour can pass with us messaging each other non-stop on Whatsapp.
I've always felt so lucky to have him. I couldn't imagine my life without him and I am not only proud that he is my brother, but that he is my twin.
When people ask if we are close I wonder how he responds to that. My immediate response is yes, and then comes a full on speech about how wonderful he is. Because I can't help it.
I have always wanted to please him, for him to be as proud of me as I am of him. I need his acceptance a lot of the time, I think I always have but even more so since dad left.
He became that strong male figure in my life, even at 15, and as the years go on that role feels stronger and stronger.

This year has been the best year when it comes to our relationship. And you know that this is the moment I stop typing because of the tears in my eyes.
June, when I spent those special, unforgettable days with him, that quality time where it was just us. Twin time. I needed that, and my heart still feels so full of love and happiness from those 5 days.
You made that happen.
If it wasn't for you letting me borrow money to pay for the flights and if it wasn't for you taking time off work to look after the boys then I couldn't have gone.
If it wasn't for your support and you knowing how important it would be then I wouldn't have gone.

Those 5 days were the best 5 days of my life. I can say that truthfully and confidently.

I remember being on the back of his bike, and wanting you to be able to see us. Not only for you to see me sitting upright on the bike, hands gripped onto that back bar, looking around at the scenery rather than clinging onto his waist as tight as I could with my head down and eyes closed as I did back in April, but for you to see your babies.
I wanted you to see what you created. Those two adults, those two siblings, who can go on holiday together and spend time together despite other people saying "You brought your sister?! You're sharing a tent?!" We shared a womb, a tent is nothing!
I wanted you to see the smiles on our faces, the way he made sure I had the best experience I could have. The way he thought carefully every morning about where we should watch the races from so we could have the best view. He made sure I was comfortable, and that I could see.
The first time a bike came past, his excitement was contagious. Mum, I've never seen him smile like that. And I understood it. As my eyes filled with tears so fast that it shocked me, as I heard the bikes over the tanoy system and as the atmosphere filled with adrenaline and excitement, as my heart pounded and as that panic attack started. He put his arm around me, he squeezed me, and at that moment I wanted the whole world to know how special he is.
He would point out the riders to me as they went past, making sure I knew when William and Michael had gone past because he knew how much I love the Dunlops. He would tell me all about the riders, their history and about the bikes.
He shared his passion and made it mine too.
On the last day when I knew it was almost time to go to the airport, when I practically jumped from the wall and almost collapsed next to him, resting my head on his shoulder as I sobbed and sobbed at that time being over, I didn't just cry because of the experience ending. But because that time with him was up.

The tears that fell as we rode to the airport were ridiculous. The inside of your helmet looked like there had been a full on rain storm. I didn't want to take the helmet off when I got to the airport because it was so obvious how much I had been crying.
Saying goodbye to him at the airport was one of the hardest moments ever.

Your babies, are the people they are today, because of you.
We may have two parents but you are the one who made us who we are.
You are the one who is always there, the support, the one we turn to, the one we can talk to and trust.

Without you, who knows what we would be like today. Who knows which memories we would have instead, and how different our lives would be.

It might feel like your babies are gone, but we are still here. Still needing you as much as we always did.

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Lost With Broken Fingers

This has always been my outlet. My therapy. My place to go when I need to go somewhere.

It's always felt quite natural, quite simple.
Open laptop. Look at screen. Type.

Some posts I sit and focus on what I'm reading, and others I just let myself type. And then post. And read afterwards. Those are the therapy type posts.
But recently, it all seems a bit hard. Like there is a blockage in the way.
In my head, they are all there, the posts are just queueing up. All ready written, just needed to be typed up. But my fingers aren't working. The information isn't getting all the way to them, and I don't know why.

It makes me angry. With myself. Because it's like a vicious circle. I write these posts to empty my mind and release whatever is there, but as those posts are not being released they are being clogged up, and I am beating myself up about it, because I am confused and angry, which is then creating more that needs to be released.

This isn't me. It's not me to not be able to write anything.

I had a post in draft. I've been wanting to write it for a year and had the perfect day to write it. Perfect in the sense that there was something on that day that was relevant to the topic of the post and the reason I wanted to write the post.
So for a year I had been wanting to write it. In my head, it was there. All perfect. No longer in draft. I knew it would be one of the ones where I just stare, type, post and then read.
So I sat at the laptop, a week before that date, wanting to type it so I could schedule it. But nothing came out.
A title. That was all.
I wrote a paragraph and sat there and knew it wasn't right. Because it wasn't me writing it. It was too forced. I was having to think about it too much.
And then I felt I had let myself down.
Every day I sat and tried to write that post. I even sat with a notebook and a pen to see if writing it down in that way would be better, but the words were there, I could hear them, I could see them, but my hands wouldn't write them or type them.

I keep thinking "if you're stuck just write about Isle of Man" because I still have SO MUCH I want to share from there but nothing will work.

It's like my fingers are broken. I am lost and my fingers are broken.

I can't accept that this is "just a blog". It's not. It might be to others, and that is understandable.
But to me, this is more.
It's MY place.
I can't just take a break from it. It wouldn't help.
It is too much of a part of me to leave behind, even if for a week or two.

It feels like I am being punished, and I'm not sure what for.
Why am I punishing myself?

I'm trying to find a positive in all of this. And I'm struggling to find any positive at all, other than the fact that it confirms to me how important this is to me.
I need this. I rely on this.
I just need to write.



TT2015 Diary: The Mountain

As she sat on the back of the bike she couldn't help but to feel a bit scared. There's already an overwhelming vulnerable feeling being on a motorbike. No seat belt, nothing holding you on.
Her hands were gripped, tight, to the bar behind her. She couldn't hold on any tighter.

Her brother was in control of the bike. Up until this point she didn't think very highly of motorbikes. It was a case of motorbike = speed = death, and in a couple of events those few days were proof of that. But when she got on the back, although her heart was beating, she felt sick and couldn't help but to be anxious.
She felt tense and hoped it would be a quick ride but, soon enough, she loved it.
Soon enough she couldn't wait to be stood putting the helmet and gloves on and to hold onto her brothers back as she did her three bounce leg up and over manoeuvre, push down the visor, make sure her underwear wasn't in full view of everyone else and then to grip onto the bar behind her and to then hear the sound of the engine as she gave her brother the nod that she was ready to go.

She looked around everywhere they went, she soon realised that being tense was not only making it harder for her brother to control the bike, but was also ruining her experience. So she relaxed, she looked around and took in where she was. A beautiful island where everything is perfect. Looking around helped her to take in the very thing she had gone to experience, and to understand, a tiny bit, what the racers are capable of. She thought that if those racers can go along the roads at the speeds they do then she could easily sit on the back, holding on tight, not having to use any skill, and enjoy herself.

She at first found it intimidating when they stopped at lights surrounded by other bikes. And she felt like she shouldn't be there. But soon enough, she loved those moments. She loved being in amongst that adrenaline, surrounded by loud engines and the anticipation of the speed as they would all move away from the lights.

Within no time she had fallen in love with the sport and the machines. She got it. She understood the passion. She felt that excitement, adrenaline and need to hear the bikes scream past at incredible speeds.

Then there was that mountain run. The races had been called off because of strong winds, but they needed to go over the mountain to get back to their campsite. The alternative route was long and faffy. As they started up the mountain she questioned whether or not her hands could ever hold on tight enough to stop her from flying off.
She was scared.
She tried to focus her mind on other things, but this was just too much. It felt like they were never going to get to a safe point. She didn't feel in control of how she should be sitting, the wind was hitting her and pushing her. She waited until the moment came when she would be laying on the road. She wondered what the pain would feel like, or if she would feel any pain at all.

And then she remembered who she was riding with, and what he would say if he knew what she was thinking.
She knew she had to put her trust in him. He would never do anything to put their lives in danger.

As they pulled over at the Creg-ny-Baa pub she was able to loosen her grip...and to breathe. A sigh of relief, and to realise that as scary as it was on that mountain, it was an experience.
Another one she will never forget.

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