Does anyone have the phone number for DIY SOS?


Painting. In the hands of a creative genius, I daresay the process is enjoyable and the result a delight. In the hands of an impatient incompetent, it’s a different story.

So, I have a new house which needs work, and three days to paint three rooms – and with the third day now drawing to a close, on reflection I’m thinking this may have been an optimistic target.

I like the idea of painting, it’s just the practicalities that get in the way. Here’s how shit went down this week:

Preparation – lose the will to live as you apply masking tape to get smooth lines everywhere and then realise that the corners aren’t proper corners and the ceiling isn’t at a true 90 degree angle with the wall. Attempt to fling to the floor the (many) bits of masking tape that have curled in on themselves and now seem to be sticker than No More Sodding Nails. With the room now doused in masking tape move on to step two…

Application – find something to open the paint tin with. Realise that you no longer own a toolbox and the house is empty so ask a loved one if they have a suitable implement. Repeat the process several times for; something to stir the paint with, something to protect the floor with and (my particular favourite) something to get paint off the 0.01% of the room that isn’t covered in masking tape and you don’t actually know how paint even got there maybe it’s because Professional Widow by Tori Amos came on the radio and you were flailing your arms about pretending to be 18 again. This process is now referred to as ‘irritating the crap out of your nearest and dearest due to thinking that preparation is just putting masking tape around a room’. Moving on…

Application, part two – get started with a roller. Or debate the merits of paint rollers with your dad who is a BRUSH PUREST and will then spend the next four hours telling you why as you both paint the walls using your preferred method. Get paint in hair, on socks, on the floor (because you didn’t realise it was on your socks…) and start to wonder if you could get away with just doing the one coat.

Admire your work – survey your handiwork while drinking a nice cup of tea. Casually attempt to take off some of the masking tape, and forgetting its earlier No More Nails show of strength, wonder why it has taken half the wall away with it.

Now I get why there are unfinished DIY projects in homes across the land. The initial enthusiasm dies off as the reality of rectifying mistakes and the realisation sets in that it’s unlikely the project will be completed by the time Corrie’s on (‘Yep,’ says Bob – the builder, obvs – as he surveys another DIY bodge job: ‘Trouble is, that wall you’ve just tried to take out is an RSJ…’).

My vision was for different colours, a dado rail (which, the Brush Purest insists is not a true dado rail as it’s not protecting furniture… what should I call it then? Wall feature?!!!), one wall of wallpaper and some clouds on the ceiling of the boy’s room. What I have actually achieved is two half done rooms. How has this taken three days? I worked ALL day! I can’t even look at the third room now without breaking out into a sweat.

So I’m now making this shameless plea to DIY SOS. I’ll finish off the two half painted rooms, if you take on the third. Aaaaaaaaaand… the back garden needs some turf and the smallest bathroom in the world needs replacing. Oh, and it needs to be done by next week. Sounds good, yeah?!




Success at dating? I went to Ibiza and came back with a pen pal.


Back in 1999, me and two single friends went to Ibiza trying to be Zoe Ball, recreating the bottle of Jack Daniels, straw hat and jean shorts vibe hanging out at Manumission, or whatever the cool clubs were at the time.

We were young, we were single and (most importantly) ready to embrace the party spirit. Booze cruises, skimpy bikinis, banana boats, beaches, phat beats, sun, sea and..

very, very little in the way of ‘action’.

I say very little because there was one encounter with a bronzed god – the only evidence of this pissed up and instantly forgotten rendezvous being a receipt from a photographer and an address in San Antonio’s clubbing heartland. As me and my friends went to said location brandishing the ticket, we found a small shop in one of the rabbit warrens of the West End district. Staring back a me was a lovely photo of him and someone who bared an uncanny resemblance to me looking like I’d won the lottery. Thinking back now I bet he was no stranger to the laydeez – he probably gained a dose of syphilis or fathered several children that summer.

Towards the end of our holiday, me and the girls became friendly with three boys from the apartment down the hall. They seemed nice and I found myself talking to one of them more than the other two. But he was even more awkward at the subject of hooking up with someone than I was, so despite some skirting around the subject (and a nice hour sat next to him on a beach while one of my friends went skinny dipping with one of his friends), there wasn’t even a kiss. We did however, swap addresses and I thought no more about it. But, a week or so later, a letter from my holiday friend came through the letterbox telling me all about his life and what he’d been up to since he had returned from the holiday.

My pen pal and I never hooked up, but the experience does spring to mind when people tell me that they are jealous of my new single status. ‘You get the chance to date again’ some have said rather excitedly as though their previous dating horror stories have all been forgotten…

I was open to the idea. Perhaps now as a late 30-something mum I’d be more confident, more willing to make the first move and less prone to falling for the boys who clearly weren’t interested in me.

But, my part of the world is a small place and the pond is not overflowing with suitable fish. And the chances of meeting someone diminish greatly when taking the demands of parenting into consideration. Which is fine, I’m not complaining about this… it just explains my next move..

According to some survey I stumbled upon thanks to the power of Google, seven million people living in the UK are using online dating – so that’s more than 10 per cent of us. Yup, I said ‘us’. Come on, you knew this was where I was going anyway!

Anyway, I dipped in a toe and made a hasty retreat. A few online conversations and all the social awkwardness and self consciousness of the girl with the Ibiza pen pal came flooding back.

For starters, WTAF is Tinder? I can’t work out what it’s aim is – sex? If that’s the case, how is it that I ended up talking about photography? (Of a beach, in case you were thinking anything a bit risque..). Pretty sure I actually managed to repel the men who showed up on my profile – I was fairly bullish about this in the beginning – especially those who went silent at the mention of the boy – as this helped weed out the undesirables. But after a while it became a little soul-destroying.

My next port of call was Bumble, where the women have to message the men. I’m a modern woman, thought I, so why not? Turns out I’m not as IT literate as I like to think as try as I might I could not remove the bit that showed the name of my employer. ONLINE DATING IS FULL OF STALKERS SO I CAN’T TELL THEM WHERE I WORK!! So I closed my account.

At this point I made the noble decision to take myself off the market. Time to ‘focus on myself’, new hobbies (one tap dancing class), writing (a couple of blog posts) and reading (other blog posts).

Curiosity got the better of me however. And I took a browse of Plenty of Fish – free obvs… A host of interesting individuals arrived at my mailbox – men who seem to believe the way to a woman’s heart is confirmation that they use drugs ‘socially’, describe themselves as being ‘back here again’ or ‘losing hope’ and go by names such as ‘Spermy’ (yup!) and ‘Sketchy’. Guys, seriously.

After this first tranche of interest I started to think that perhaps paying for an online dating service might bring me better joy? As the present situation seemed to bring me a sort of ‘buy cheap, buy twice’…

And then, just as I was starting to think I would have to delete my account or actually pay for a dating service, along came a nice guy who has hobbies, interests, a job and does his fair share with his kids (or so he tells me). I gave him my phone number, he texted and after I did the thoroughly modern task of a comprehensive Google and social media search to verify his identity we have agreed to meet up later this week. I am nervous and excited and terrified and trying not to become a crazy person. It’ll be my first, first date in 15 years.

I’ll keep you posted.

This Mum's Life

These guns ain’t made for Body Pump


Holy crap I can barely move my arms. And if I have to pick something up off the floor, it’s taking a good five seconds to encourage my thighs to get up again.

No, I don’t have the flu. Much worse (because this is self inflicted) – I went to a Body Pump class. Which shouldn’t have been that much of an ordeal given the amount of work these guns do every day. Surely these muscles have benefited from the daily toddler lifting/bending while lifting/achieving feats that you wouldn’t think possible while conducting daily tasks carrying a child doing some sort of flailing plank?

With small child’s bed time and subsequent scream-fest to consider, it has been harder than I thought to find a fitness class that fits in with the schedule.But then again, this is Cornwall, not New York where I imagine there are all night spinning classes mixed in with some sort of new fangled thing that has really good music and gives instant weight loss. Or something…

The other fitness class I’ve done recently and actually properly enjoyed is Clubbercise – a far friendlier affair that takes me back to my teenage years. If Clubbercise had been around in the 1990s, I’m sure there wouldn’t have been quite as many nights I’d like to forget. But I guess sales of Hock and Liebfraumilch would have suffered so… you’re welcome cheap wine industry.

Anyway, Body Pump, for the uninitiated, lays claim to being the quickest way to lose weight and tone up – there’s a bar,  weights, press ups and squats to test the strongest of wills. I thought it was perfect for a time poor, lazy mare like me who lacks the willpower to commit to exercising three times a week (or whatever it is we’re supposed to do now. Am guessing this advice has been superseded by something much less achievable, in the way that the recommended five a day fruit and veg has now become a highly realistic seven).

This isn’t my first BP experience… The introduction to my tricep muscles (or reminder of how much they can hurt when you use them) began 10 years ago. Me and a former boyfriend went religiously for about a month – he threw up after the first one and two days later I couldn’t pick up the office telephone.

I did sample another BP class – one where I didn’t feel bad for selecting a couple of 2.5kg weights… However, this class no longer coexists with the child raising requirements and so I’ve had to look elsewhere. Which brought me to the door of the instructor from a decade ago. The instructor who works on the ‘you’re not letting me down… but yourself’ school of motivation. It worked – grrr – the weights were heavier than before (a whole 1.25kg – oh yeah!). But I’m already feeling ropey…and obvs looking forward to the proper pain in two days time when the combining daily tasks with carrying the flailing planking toddler is sure to be even more entertaining than usual…

As always, I welcome your views on this sort of thing – how do you find fitting in child raising, work and exercise? Can you recommend a class that can boast results without killing muscle groups that you don’t know exist until you hurt them real bad?!