Paddle your own canoe


(yes, I know it’s a boat, but same difference…)

I think I’m having a bit of an identity crisis at the moment (first world problems, yeah?). Recently divorced after a ten year plus relationship and I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t actually know myself at all.

It is Tinder to thank for this realisation – I know, I went on Tinder. Do you think a little less of me now? I was only on it for about five minutes before I realised what a bad idea it was – am hopeless at small talk in person, so what hope did I have of striking up a conversation with someone who had deemed me worthy of communication based on a photo? Yes, I’d also judged based on a photo – whatevs… (sidetrack – should that be ‘wevs’? Still learning cool, chilled, breezy speak. And yes, merely stating these three things means I am none of them…).

Where was I? Oh yes, Who Am I?

So, yes Tinder helped me establish that I had no direction, no real interests and no clue as to what I wanted out of life/my next relationship/dinner that night. The limited conversations I had with men centred around them asking me what I liked to do (um, given the nature of this particular app, am now not sure if these weren’t actually life/recreational questions but more of enquiries of a ‘spicy’ nature…)

Having a pretty much full time job and a small child kind of help distract from these important questions. (Dinner being the most important, obvs.. I’m doing it again…)

Back to ‘The Canoe’. Have you heard the phrase ‘Love many, trust few, always paddle your own canoe’? I only heard it recently – but it had one of those lightbulb moment effects.

Looking back over my adult life so far, I think once I was in a long term relationship I sort of coasted. Compromise meant, a lot of the time, not doing the things I wanted to do and instead trying to accommodate someone else’s interests. I wanted to share experiences with my partner, not do things in isolation. So I didn’t do much at all.

(That’s not really a pop at my ex, by the way – this is squarely on me. We didn’t have many shared interests – warning sign anyone?! But, that shouldn’t have stopped me from doing anything I wanted to do.)

By putting all my focus on my relationship, I forgot about learning and growing for myself. And appreciating that life isn’t about looking for what will happen next, but what is happening in the here and now. I didn’t paddle my own canoe, I just wanted to be carried along with someone else’s.

In true Bridget Jones generation fashion I have turned to books for inspiration (although the books are no longer on the shelf, but on my Kindle). Yup, when once I would have scoffed at ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’, I’m now gaining some well-timed and much needed motivation. I’d recommend it. But if you want less ‘self help’ guide and more ‘kick ass advice’, go for Cheryl Strayed’s ‘Tiny Beautiful Things – advice on love and life from someone who’s been there’. She’s wise, that Cheryl.

Will I go back to learning the guitar? Learn a language? How to do electrics and stuff? Who knows for the moment. But I’m enjoying learning the things that I didn’t know I didn’t know about. (have to read that one carefully!!)

As the quote by Emerson goes: “Life is a journey, not the destination.”




Sir Grumpsalot and the epic meltdown


(‘Let me take a photo of you… Go on… Just one’ ‘NO NO NO NO NO NO’)

Yesterday marked a special milestone in the toddler career of my little man – the unstoppable, irrational, typical two-year old’s tantrum culminating in an epic meltdown which left even my four year old nephew complaining of a headache.

The warning signs were there. Lack of sleep? Check. Nose turned up at quality home made food constructed of the finest ingredients (i.e including two different types of vegetables. Oh yeah.)? Check. Recent bout of illness? Check.

And still I ploughed on with a ‘Nice Day Out’. The sun was shining and the weather warm and I was determined that under no circumstances would we spend yet another day inside – either watching some sodding cartoon about cars/dogs/fish OR going to a place that induces an actual smile and genuine pleasure in my child… Yup, Tesco.

(I am a little ashamed of that last bit. WE LIVE FIVE MINUTES FROM THE BEACH, GODDAMMIT! We should be permanently sporting wetsuits, matted hair and beautifully exfoliated feet.)

Anyway, given the close proximity to the water, I announced that we would go to a nearby sea pool which had a heated pool for young children (Of course it wasn’t actually heated… And my inability to read a webpage would come back to haunt me shortly.)

So me, my son, dad, sister and nephew packed up the car and headed off. And as a result of some clever manoeuvring between the adults of the group, I ended up wedged in the back between the children. This was fine in the beginning, entertaining both boys wasn’t too difficult. I had this cool mum/aunt thing sorted.

When we got to the pool, the boys excitedly dragged us into the water, which I later found out was 17 degrees centigrade. Or, to put into context, bloody freezing. Most of the kids in the foot deep water had wetsuits on. We made our retreat after 10 minutes.

As the boys warmed up, they spent the time they should have been spending getting exhausted in the water, by amusing themselves in other ways. Or as we would call it, tapping into their mischievous sides… trying to fall off a little step, running after seagulls and attempting to get back in the water (I mean, how short are their memories?!). Perfect conditions for the onset of a major grump.

The warning signs were there by the time we finally got back to the car about an hour or so later – E didn’t want to get down from the wall he’d been walking on and he certainly didn’t want to get in his car seat. Bribery didn’t work, praising his cousin for sitting nicely failed to have any impact and you can imagine how well my final exasperated ‘Get In’ said through gritted teeth went down.

Cornwall being Cornwall, and very popular at this time of year, meant that our half hour journey home took twice as long. Or forever if you’re stuck with a toddler screaming NOOOOOOOOOO. NO CAR SEAT……GET OUT….. for most of it. The last straw was when my nephew started to cry and mumbled to my sister in the passenger seat ‘Mummy I have a headache’…

For my part though, I’m finding it increasingly harder to deal with the temper tantrums. I know it’s part of growing up, but there are times when I just want to stamp my feet on the floor too. And then I remember that I’m supposed to be the grown up.

I don’t want to raise a meek, compliant child who never questions or challenges. And part of the reason he has tantrums is because there have to be limits. So that’s a positive for the parenting bit, yeah? I’m clutching at straws here, but you gotta take the positives where you can…

As with all these things, this morning E woke up none the worse for wear for his ordeal. It’s nice to see he doesn’t hold a grudge. Yet.





The Olympic legacy – you want it? Earn it.

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We’ve had a  good Olympics, Britain, haven’t we?

For someone who has very little sporting ability (aside from a pretty mean ‘swagger’ at the weekly Clubbercise class), I’ve been gripped by the talents of Laura Trott, Jade Jones, Helen Glover (well she is from Cornwall), Heather Stanning, Becky James and Amy Tinkler, to name but a few. Yep, go us women! Ok, well done to the men too!

Obvs I was ‘in to’ London 2012 – from the Olympic Torch winding its way along Cornish roads to that opening ceremony, I just remember feeling so proud. In the games makers, in the athletes, in the crowds who cheered everyone on. And then we had the Paralympics too and people who had overcome adversity put us all to shame by being generally bloody amazing. Times were good.

Of course, the legacy from 2012 was about encouraging people to get into sport and becoming Olympians of the future. Would love to comment on whether or not this worked, but my focus since London was to have a baby and, having had said baby in 2014, wallow in self pity over what I used to do with my spare time. (Have just realised that Jessica Ennis-Hill not only had a baby in the same time, but also went on to win a silver at the Heptathlon last weekend. Whatevs…)

So, what do we take from Rio 2016? Having watched many an exhausted athlete interviewed on the finish line as the reality of their medal win sinks in, the overwhelming message has been just how hard they worked for it. Yes, they are supported by trainers and a host of people behind the scenes, but that didn’t all just magically appear on the proclamation of ‘I’m going to be an Olympian’.

Today, more than ever, we hear the positive messages on the theme of being able to do anything you put your mind to. Facebook and Instagram threads are awash with life affirming pictures with positive phrases (like the one in this post that took me five minutes to put together. I have no idea who Beverly Sills is, or if she actually said what she said. But I like it.) Today, more than ever, we can discover what we want to do, find out how to do it – and be supported by a wealth of positivity to give us that gentle nudge in the right direction.

So, let’s dig out our vision boards, feel the fear and do it anyway, get off our arses and do what we say we’re going to do. Wanting it is part of the battle, but it’s the preparation, the action, the bloody-minded dedication, that turns the dream into a reality.



My son thinks the Gruffalo is from Bristol


Poor Dick Van Dyke, I’m sure most people have had a chuckle at his ‘Maeree Paarpins’ British accent. Or Anne Hathaway’s attempt at ‘Northern’ in One Day (which I still think has an unnecessarily cruel ending. Dexter and Emma should have been allowed to be happy! Why Lord, why?)

Moving on… I can do precisely three accents – Cornish, Bristolian (NO, THEY ARE NOT THE SAME…) and a deep voiced East Ender (think Danny Dyer rather than Barbara Windsor). I am Cornish and also lived in Bristol for a while so I can see how those accents developed. I can only blame the East End interpretation on my love of TV.

Not being an amdramer, prank caller or spy (they must need a good bank of accents surely? Fake documents can only get a person so far…), I’ve not had much call to extend the repertoire until now.

You see, children’s stories have characters. And those characters need accents. If one is to provide a satisfactory reading experience (i.e entertain child long enough to make them forget about wanting to take cars to bed), then it is not sufficient to have just the one reading voice. Which means my three accents are getting plenty of practice.

Gruffalo? Bristolian. Mouse in Gruffalo? East End. Tiddler? East End. Plaice in Tiddler? Bristolian. Snail in The Snail and the Whale? Cornish. Whale? Whale. Wait a minute, I CAN DO WHALE! ADD THAT TO THE BANK!

This would be fine if I were reading a book a night to my child like the helpful post that’s doing the rounds on Facebook at the moment – you know, the one that says that if you read a book a night to your one year old that by the time they reach five they’ll have read a gazillion books? (I may be   paraphrasing here…) But we’re stuck in a Julia Donaldson loop at the moment of Gruffalo, The Snail and the Whale and Tiddler. We’ve read the same books over and over again  – and in the case of Tiddler, every night since the start of February. My son is picking up on the intonation of the sentences and trying to repeat the words in the way I’m saying them as I read. So while he has no idea at the moment what or where Bristol is, when he does, I’m having visions of one day being asked if the Gruffalo lives just off the M5…





What’s your favourite position?

We all have a preferred position… Mine has to be a sort of semi reclining in the right corner of the sofa – the exact spot outlined by an indentation of my arse. Usually I’m joined by the dog who has somehow managed to contort herself in such a way that leaves me jostling for space.

How about you? Perhaps you’re a fan of a beanbag? Hunched over a kitchen table? Or, maybe an under-the-covers-with-a-tablet?

Today I thought I’d write about my favourite pastime, something that is fairly satisfying and has always been there for me when I needed it. Yes – television. Oh, you thought I was talking about sex?! As if…

Taking stock of life as a relatively newly-single gal about town on the sofa, I realise that I have allowed my brain to atrophy – fed on a diet of dramas, comedies, soaps, documentaries, reality TV, talkshows… (I could go on, but you get the idea). Most nights involved flopping down in front of the box and remaining there for most of the evening. Somewhere after the age of about 25 (let’s not share how long ago that was…) I began the process of prematurely turning into an 80-year old who schedules phone calls around her soaps (which, don’t get me wrong, you have totally earned the right to do at 80). Other than work, or my beautiful gorgeous son and almost equally gorgeous dog, TV is the only thing I can talk about with any sort of confidence. Which is really frickin’ sad.

(In my defence though, it does rain a shit load in Cornwall, and cold, wet and dark evenings do lend themselves to a night in front of the box and reaffirming a commitment to the sofa arse indent.)

So, as I glossed over earlier (more to follow on that, but it’s a whole other post. Heck, it’s a whole other blog…), I am now single. Almost out the other side of a painful divorce (a cliché but is there a better adjective?), it’s time to work out what’s next. And struck with the realisation that there is much more to life and how precious it is, I’m going to have to curb the urge to watch all the must-see shows and start feeding my brain again.

There will be a new grand plan (more on that another time). There will be a television. But the new sofa will remain indent-free.

Has my diet consigned my child to a future of poor health?

Is anyone else slightly depressed at this week’s story about how dietary choices in pregnancy can influence the health of your child in later life? And if you’re struggling with morning sickness or just general food aversion, do you now feel even worse about not being able to face anything vaguely healthy?

It’s now two years since I was pregnant with E, but I can still remember days upon days where all I ate was toast or crackers (broken up by the occasional frequent dirty burger. Not actual ‘dirty’ burger. The drive-through variety. Golden arches. Oh, you know what I mean).

I took the expensive vitamins and put the guilty twinges about food choices to one side while I focussed on the fact that at least I wasn’t smoking, drinking or taking drugs.

But now the guilt has reared its ugly head again. You are what you eat and it doesn’t take a genius to work out that diet in pregnancy will impact in some way on the growing baby. Is the fact that my son appears to have had a permanent cold since January the fault of one too many takeaways, or more likely thanks to the little germ carriers at his nursery? Was the frequent waking during the night – which went on until he was 18 months! – because I had a couple of glasses of wine in the third trimester?

Am now wondering if in future years pregnant women eating a takeaway will be frowned upon the way they are now if smoking or drinking? I hope not – yes we know we need to eat well, but sometimes it’s the easiest bit to let slip when we’re trying not to fall asleep at work, preparing for the arrival of a newborn and building pelvic floors of steel.

Discovery of the day

Turns out I can no longer crouch down by the cot while hoping E drifts off to sleep. For while on my knees in a sort of half praying, half yoga child pose, I felt a tap on my bum. E, having pulled down the bumper and reached through the bars, was delighted by the discovery!