Update your home for winter and Poppy and Honesty’s Interior Design ServiceRead More
Filtering by Tag: lifestyle
Don’t beat yourself up about school holiday fatigue. Summer memories are made from moments and not 42 days of Enid Blyton adventures.Read More
I am an emphatic reader. In fact I would go so far as to say that I am not happy unless there is a good book by my bed. Fiction is a wonderful escape and respite from reality and getting stuck into someone else's story gives me new perspective on my own. Matt Haig puts it perfectly in his latest book Notes On Nervous Planet.
Reading isn't important because it helps you get a job. It's important because it gives you room to exist beyond the reality you're given. How minds connect. Dreams. Empathy. Understanding. Escape.
Summer books often imply suncream stained Jackie Collins' novels. Whilst I am very partial to a little Rupert Campbell Black, these are my top 5 reads for the sunshine. Take with Mr Whippy and icy cold beers.
Bonjour Tristesse by Francois Sagan. When I read this I felt like I was having a long languid siesta in the South of France. Totally French and absolutely immoral, you'll feel the scorch at the heart of this story.
Heartburn by Norah Ephron. Protagonist Rachel feels like your best friend and who better to take on holiday? She's wonderfully witty and acerbic, you'll have a great time together.
The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald. Scandal and wild summer parties doing the Charleston in Jay Gatsby's mansion? Yes please. Make mine a Long Island Ice Tea.
Instructions For A Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell. The tension amongst this dysfunctional family will make you feel so much better about your travelling group. It's also a lovely tangled tale of family relationships.
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. An excellent travelling companion. David Sedaris will charm your socks off with his outrageously funny stories of family and living in France.
I'm sure that you have got many books that I could add to my list. I'd love to know your suggestions.
Fathers Day is nearly here. Ideas for kids of all ages.Read More
Mr. P and I celebrated 10 years of parenthood last weekend. We've been chatting about the ups and downs and having a chuckle about the nutty stuff we did. If I was able to steal MJ Fox's time-machine and go back to 2007, these are some of the things I would tell my rookie parent self...
Choose your girl gang carefully
I felt a huge pressure to socialise my children regularly. If I wasn't attending playgroups. gymbaroo (?) or god awful singing in the library, my kids were definitely going to be sociopaths or psychopaths right? Subsequently I ended up hanging with some quite judgy women and through the fog of tiredness/PND and trying to navigate my way through the early years, I didn't recognise that this wasn't a supportive or healthy place for me and the sprogs. Thankfully, I had a couple of amazing queens on my side. They always lifted my spirits and didn't give a monkeys if you bribed the kids into the bath with jelly babies.
Always chose fun
I missed out on seeing the late George Michael sing Wake me Up Before you Go Go because I had to do the night feed. There is so much boring shit that you have to do as a parent. The housework is endless. Given another chance, unless the house was about to be condemned a slum, I would ditch the dishes in favour of drinks with the girl gang and give the babe a bottle so that I could shimmy on down to Club Tropicana with George.
Mummy - tummy? Whatever.
It is a bloody shock to see your post pregnancy stomach. I can liken it to the dimply party pasty available in our Cornish bakery. Tip to former self- don't look at it. There are so many more important things to do (like have fun) and you are so much more than a wobbly tum.
Stop analysing the elusive 'bond'
I bought into the idea that I had to feel an automatic, unstoppable, all-consuming connection with my babies as soon as they were born. Subsequently I spent such a long time looking for this and became more and more anxious that it just wasn't there. Given the opportunity, I'd definitely tell my former self to take a step back, be patient and watch the relationship blossom over time. My big kid was recently very poorly, we spent the whole time together watching telly and having fizzy drinks. There is no doubt in my mind that we go together like a good gin and tonic.
There is suffering in parenting
An SAS soldier recently told me that sleep deprivation was the WORST part of his interrogation training (am not sure that included water boarding). Being kept awake by a baby for years is torture and so is being told to F*** off by children that have been your life's work. The only book I read as a Mum was Buddhism for Mothers. I'm not buddhist but totally subscribe to the idea that as a parent you have to accept a level of suffering.
I can think of million more things, but that will do for now. To all Poppy and Honesty's pixelated young mummies, you're doing a fabulous job. We are bringing out a new grown up range just for you guys, Why should the moppets have all the good stuff when we do the school run with rice crispies in our hair ?
There's nothing quite like forced joviality to make you feel more rubbish if you are feeling really low. A number of years ago, I had crippling Post Natal Depression at Christmas. On receipt of a lovely, well wishing text suggesting that we would be having a wonderfully snuggly time with our gorgeous new babe, I smashed my phone against the wall (terribly counter productive, resulting in hours swearing in The Apple shop with a crying baby). The fact is, shit doesn't stop happening just because its Christmas. For plenty of people out there, it will be a challenging test of endurance rather than rocking around the Christmas tree wearing a paper hat at a jaunty angle. So, for those of you feeling really rubbish, this blog is for you.
If you haven't read 'Reasons To Stay Alive' by Matt Haig, please do. In fact, give it to everyone you know. It's a book about depression which isn't depressing, nor is it preachy or insistent that you follow some kind of radical regime that involves weird things like stuffing coffee enemas up your bum and refusing conventional treatment. Matt nails the experience with his deeply moving personal account of his battle with acute depression and anxiety. With the support of his great girlfriend and family, Matt finds his way through and learns to accept and even find meaning from his debilitating illness. His account is absolutely spot on. If you have ever struggled with your mental health, reading his book will be like listening to lyrics in your 'break up' soundtrack, his words feel so true. I particularly liked this passage:
"If you have ever believed a depressive wants to be happy, you are wrong. They could not care less about the luxury of happiness. They just want to feel an absence of pain. To escape a mind on fire, where thoughts blaze and smoke like old possessions lost to arson. To be normal."
Matt tells us about his most frightening experiences, but doesn't dwell on them; instead he gives hope to the situation and reveals that depression has given him greater empathy and an ability to feel more in the world. The book isn't about well-being buzz words and Matt doesn't refer to a 'journey' unless he is actually going somewhere. If you're wondering whether or not this book is for you, it probably is. Whether you suffer mental from health issues, know someone going through this stuff or even if you just want to know more about the experience of being human and being alive, go and grab a copy.
If anyone reading this is going through a horrible time, I understand (and so does Matt). Christmas will be tough, but they'll be another one next year. I promise you that you will feel the sparkles again and they will be brighter and more sparkly than before. I always think that the best experiences and moments in life are the ones that aren't scheduled. Lurid jumpers, awful shouty songs about how it should be christmas every bloody day and getting crushed in the shops can all be appreciated another time.
PS. All Matt Haig's books are total winners. I can highly recommend them all.
At this time of year my children become increasingly anxious that they are on the naughty list and are rather obsessed with their obscenely extravagant Christmas lists. Apparently this year FC has a budget of about 1,000 pounds per child (Wow! who knew he was so eligible?) Anyway, at this point, I start to self implode and mumble about the poor starving children which has absolutely no impact on their moral compasses whatsoever.
This year I am determined to install some kind of Christmas spirit into the entitled little rat bags without bursting their whole sparkly Christmas bubble and spending the day ranting into my mulled wine. Getting the children to give is quite a challenge. To be honest their contribution to the Shoe Box Appeal (choosing a toothbrush) and The Food Bank (carrying the cereal) is rather minimal. So brace yourself lucky friends and relatives, this year, the kids are making stuff for you.
We're big bath-fans in our house. It's not really about getting clean (thats just a bonus) but more about having some lovely floaty time-out. So we're making lots of fabulous multi-coloured sparkly love (bath) bombs for everyone. Embellish as you wish, rose petals, glitter, degradable confetti; all provide lots of decadent fun amidst the fizzle. Making stuff for people at Christmas is hardly original but like many parents, I become so consumed getting the festive haul together, I forget to schedule 'making time'. It's a great opportunity for kids to properly give and maybe even start to understand what Christmas all about, a giant winter love bomb (with lots of presents and some good old festive fighting).
Sophie xxxxx (see Winter Love Bomb recipe below)
With 17 books on Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) gracing our bookstores this winter, the chances that you'll get one for Christmas are fairly high. Absolutely everyone is at it; soon Dave Cam will be tweeting #hygge whilst he's #chillaxing at his country manor. So why all of a sudden have we become obsessed with Danish wellbeing? Perhaps because we have had such a totally rubbish year? or maybe we feel we need permission to take some down-time in our frenetic wi-fi dependent lives?
So what exactly is Hygge? After doing a bit of reading it seems that the clever Danes have sold us the concept of 'cosiness' and are now laughing their chic woollen slipper- socks off. Initially I was concerned that there would be an element of winter sportiness involved, but no, it seems to embrace Hygge is to remain slothsome under a blanket eating vast amounts of sugar for the rest of the winter months. (hip, hip, hoo-gah). Well not completely, there seems to be a collective element to Hygge suggesting that we put down the devices and come together for some wholesome family fun (nb: the Danes are particularly fond of singing....). This poses a number of challenges in my house given that a. Board games incite violence in the children, b. The big child refuses to listen to stories and c. They are both obsessed with the nasty FA premiership, yuk (all that polyester). The only common ground we seem to have is food, central to all good hyggers.
The Danes embrace the concept of very slow food (not so good for greedy 7 year olds seeking instant gratification). So our family winter hygge is all about smores. For the uninitiated, this gourmet delight is a marshmallow toasted on the fire and then squished delightfully between two biscuits (preferably chocolate). Embellish as you wish; peanut butter, sprinkles and chocolate buttons are the shizzle. Smor-ing is greeted with great enthusiasm and for a few sacred wonderful moments our family sits around the fire toasting marshmallows feeling very self satisfied and so damn hygge (until someone gets jousted with a toasting stick).
Stay warm and cosy
I am writing this blog with my tail between my legs. Five years ago I scoffed at social media, laughed at the premise of blogging, thinking what kind of crazy narcissist documents their every move like a reality TV show? And yet here I am with a full bevy of Social Media accounts embarking on my first blog, feeling very sheepish.
The truth is this funny old life is quite tricky to navigate and I find great solidarity in sharing ideas with others. So this is my chance to write about the little things that cheer me. This may sound incredibly shallow but lovely things, people and places have always got me through. Whether its a great writer. an amazing chocolate cake, a nice thing you can do with your kids or a cool little independent shop, it's about the small light hearted non essentials that keep us ticking over. FEAR not, there won't be sanctimonious life goals nor details of the minutiae of parenting. Essentially its going to be rainbow sprinkles for grownups and I hope that you will join the conversation and let me know what gives you a little spring in your step.