Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Who is your role model?

Just a quick update to show something I made for Facebook, inspired by a conversation with another blogger. I did follow in her footsteps and looking at my life now I replicated a lot of her decisions. So after so many years, she is still my role model. What about you???

Friday, 1 July 2016

10 Things Women Approaching 50 Will Understand

This is me on 28/6/16
In 2014 I wrote a popular blog post called 10 things only women hitting 40+ will understand and now I am emotionally ready to deal with the real hot potato... hitting half a century pretty soon. I don't see much of a difference, except that ageism is starting to rear its ugly head in the work environment and I have early symptoms of menopause but still going through all the joys of the monthly period. I am on HRT now and whatever your GP says, there is a brand you can use when you still have the period. It makes a huge difference to hot flushes and hormonal mood swings. I apologise if I am recycling some 'things' from the previous post but they are still true! I will update them to suit my 'new' thinking.

You dust off old tech - nostalgia is so fashionable!

1. You rejoice when a cartoon you grow up with is revamped, but then don’t like the new drawings, the new storylines... So you get a video off Freecycle or head to the only charity shop that still sells them. And what about a vinyl player, a cassette/cd player... Personally I regret getting rid of the old-fashioned camera with professional lenses I had and my cassette walkman dying of natural death. Nostalgia is a big trend among the younger generations too. Who would have thought that the e-book would not upstage a paper book? Young people still like smelling those pages like we do. And my daughter made me chuckle when she asked me how she can pause the radio (it was not a digital radio!).

You start to get Saga-style stuff in the post - too early!

2. Why am I getting adverts for stairlifts, special holidays, special deals at the local gym... Is it likely I want those extra-wide fit shoes or a mumu outfit or elasticated pants? Not likely at all. Our generation likes jeans, trainers and trendy stuff and it's hard enough not to look like a mutton (because yes, we still like fashion, shock horror), so please don't send any geriatric adverts my way, please!

You are still a tiger, not a cougar!

3. You can’t still stomach any violence, real or imaginary (aka films, TV, video games), but you are ready to pounce like a bloodthirsty tiger if somebody tries to harm/hurt your child in any way. If like me you are an 'old' mum, you have a 9 year old that is still learning how to cope with school bullies (boys and girls), 'unpleasant boys' and 'unfair' teachers... 

The Ministry of Sound is still churning out those CDs!

4. You might have danced there in your late 20s but the brand is still trying to look cool and despite the current download culture, they are still producing CDs. You recognise the old tunes among the most recent dancefloor hits and go back in time when you could stay out all night and feel fresh in the morning. And yes, you'd still give a Paddington's stare to the hip girl/boy who doesn’t hand you a nightclub flyer while you are out shopping at the weekend.

You ask yourself: 'Mirror, mirror, do I need you?'

6. No, you don't. I try to avoid looking in the mirror unless I am applying makeup for a special occasion or I am brushing my hair. Don't ever look after the bath, don't. If you do, appreciate your good bits, if you have looked after yourself, I am sure you look great for your age! Remember that even celebrities cannot defy ageing, there are enough plastic surgery horror stories that prove it.

If comfort eating is your thing, don't knock it!

7. Yes, it's good to be a healthy eater but sometimes a little of what you fancy... or a lot depending on your mood... I am unlucky because when I am down I lose my appetite so I cannot gobble ice cream and feel better. So basically if I am happy I get fat! This does not work very well because I am happier in spring and summer when I'd rather be thinner! But I still believe that life is too short to count calories, dammit!

You are in the market for stylish sunglasses for sure!

8. You should not feeling guilty for buying an expensive pair of sunnies - consider the price and dangers of an eye lift or dermal fillers. A stylish pair of sunglasses will make you look younger - and will protect your eyes from the sun so no further wrinkles from sun exposure can join the others.

You still have secret office fantasies

9. Unfortunately or fortunately, you still fancy a younger colleague but you’d die of embarrassment if he’d ever found out. Remember that nobody can stop you from imagining all sort of things happening. And you can give him a hug and friendly kiss at the Xmas party without nobody suspecting anything. You could probably get away pinching that perky bottom but you don't want to risk a summon from HR.

You have removed your date of birth from your CV

10. You know that revealing how old you are can damage your career prospects. Yes, they can do the maths by checking when you graduated or got your A levels, but they might not, so it's worth not declaring your age unless you are asked for it. Unfortunately you will not get some jobs not because you are under-qualified but because somebody younger will pip you to the post. I have written a jokey article about it, read it here

Pictures from CC search. Credits: Plkawll, The Italian Voice, Eva Rinaldi from Sydney Australia via Wikimedia Commons, jeff_golden, David Gandy for GQ Japan by Arnaldo Anaya-Lucca, Sérgio (Savaman) Savarese, Saed de los Santos, Andrew Hurley, Dan Vidal, Wikimedia and Wikipedia

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Confessions of a Summer Parent in Cosmopolitan Cambridge

I know what you did last Summer!

Summer did not have a great start with Brexit becoming a reality in a city that has a huge majority in favour of staying in the EU. Indulge me by letting me bring out the Brusselo as this illustration made me laugh and laugh.

Last summer was not a great one, me with my tennis elbow working away or resting a 'dead arm', battling the blues too - the first Summer I put my daughter in the holiday club, albeit part time. So I have great hopes for this Summer when despite everything the mood is good and we are going on holiday twice since my partner did not take any time off at the half term. We did and had a lovely week in France staying at a friend's house. Two more French holidays coming up, Brittany and en route to visit my parents in Italy. We never had such luxury before but they won't cost us the earth either, we are a frugal family... I still have my Cheapskate blog running...

When Michela was little, the best thing ever was to have a paddling pool as she would spend ages in it, so if you have a young child an inexpensive paddling pool is a must have plus a toy kitchen. I saw a really cute wooden one in Ikea recently at a very good price (no sponsorship here, just saying). The below one came from a charity garage sale. Get these two and you will be lounging in the sun with a book or magazine while your child keeps busy. Trust, me whatever it takes to distract/amuse your child for more than 10 minutes it's worth trying out!

Michela is now 9 and I just love the age as we can do more interesting things together. Today I will join her Brownie group to a trip to Cambridge Botanic Garden, the loveliest place ever! This Summer will be special and it does not matter I don't have a work contract - my arm is doing well and I am feeling upbeat (I recommend HRT even if you still have your period). We are going to have fun with crafts (sewing, papier mache'/decoupage, knitting) and we will cycle everywhere, we might volunteer to host a picnic for other families linked to the University, we will be best friends and there will be less 'Don't do that' from me. Let's enjoy this bliss before the teenager emerges!

Michela and I at the half term - we love art!

This post is an entry for the BritMums Confessions of a Summer Parent Challenge, sponsored by Anchor. Views are my own and I thought it would be a fun competition to do.

P.S. After a Facebook convo, here are a few more suggestions that came to my mind:

  • Also small items (not too small, think choking hazard) and boxes, they love filling them up and emptying them. 
  • Playdough is good too
  • Oversized drawing chalks for pavement 
  • Best and nearly free thing, a brush and a bucket of water to paint a wall with (choose one you don't mind getting damp) or the patio...

Monday, 20 June 2016

Back at home... applying for a PhD and jobs...

Standing in my garden on a recent sunny day (not today)
My contract terminated late in May so in the past few weeks, I have been applying for jobs (permanent and contract ones). I have also applied for a PhD and would like to be accepted and do some research on blogging, but of course you never know so I have still to apply for selected jobs. I say selected because I am limited location-wise (I cycle to work) and hours-wise (I have to pick up my daughter from the afterschool club before 6pm). My partner has a busy job so he can only help now and then.

I have more time now so have been spring-cleaning the house (including very dusty bookshelves), been baking and indulging my social media accounts. I have also started a new creative writing blog and you can read my fiction here. I am feeling good, either HRT is working or I have SAD as I don't do as well in winter months (this year it will be different as I will take action - and it helps having an arm that works again after nasty tennis elbow). Aside tweeting marketing stuff, I also spend more time on Facebook and other platforms discussing the EU referendum. I have no vote despite living in UK for many years so I can only join the debate verbally. I am for remain and if not, I would have changed my mind as a huge number of brexit people are nasty beyond belief (online) or do not trust rational views (figures are figures, emotions are something else).

So here is another update. I am on the lookout for new things to test. My daughter is 9 and I am a keen cyclist. Would love to test some cycling gear/accessories. Have sent a request for two products, let's see...

PS It's likely I will not be working this summer so no holiday club for my daughter. I have plans for some great stuff to do together. I am not stern on tablet/computer use, my daughter puts them down if I offer an activity, if not she can spend time on them while I do other stuff. She grew up with me hitting keys all the time, even when breastfeeding her. It would be hypocritical to limit her enjoyment. Also forbidden fruit tastes sweeter. I know what children's development people say but she did not become addicted to TV after spending hours while I was trying to work from home and no, she has not moved from addiction to addiction, she can put the tablet down if I offer time with her.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Another update... so you know I am still around

Dear Readers,
This is where I now spend my lunch breaks... pure bliss.  
By Peter McGlasham, Wikimedia
I know from the stats that many of you are still sticking around, possibly reading old posts and wondering why I am not updating. The fact is that office work has taken over and I have stopped working from home! I continue contracting for the University of Cambridge and I am now here full time on a temporary contract. Oh the bliss of being connected to the Botanic Garden, despite not succeeding - yet again - to get the trainee opportunity to learn plant identification while working in the Garden. I am going out now and having a stroll in my lunch hour.

I am also doing 100 other things, being involved with a community garden (that blog is updated regularly), doing some fiction writing, volunteer work in various places, trying to be a good member of a Cambridge Skills Exchange (no, I don't look after that blog).

If you are a PR (and yes, I still get emails for product testing), please note that my daughter is 9 years old and this post gives you an idea of my interests. Please send requests for appropriate products.

Thank you all and I will pop in again!

Monday, 27 July 2015

What I have been up to...

The Empty Common Community Garden

I have neglected my blogs again, but in my defence I got a new job and it has been challenging to keep up. One blog that I have not neglected is the one I set up for a community garden. I posted a yummy recipe for blackcurrant muffins just now...

If you are into community gardening - or love to grow stuff in your garden or plot, visit the Empty Common Garden blog here.

Unfortunately I also had to shelve craft ideas while I cope with an issue with my arm, so it might be a while until you hear from me again. I will try my best to continue with the community gardening blog in the meantime.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Fun photoshoot with Child Morphsuit

In my previous post - the popular Bank Holiday Bonanza Competition - I gave away a Child Morphsuit - here is our fun review....

Michela and I pondered for ages on which look to go for and settled on the Tiger. There are many tempting costumes to choose from, so it was not easy.... If you visit this page you will understand our dilemma.

This review will be of the pictorial variety, I think these photos can show how great this suit is and the references you can make for that Book Day at school or any occasion when you need a fancy costume....

This tiger came for tea. "Is it you Tigger?" asked Pooh

"Tigger who? I will be mother," replied the tiger

"Don't mess with me, I am not in the mood"

"Do you think you have me cornered?"

"Look what I can do, eat your heart out, Tigger!"

PS: If you are into Disney princesses, you might want to take this quiz... 

Friday, 1 May 2015

Friday is a breeze... Bank Holiday Bonanza Competition


To celebrate the coming Bank Holiday weekend, I have gathered a bunch of great prizes to suit families with kids of all ages

To enter, just leave a comment... You can also leave a link to your blog, if you wish. The competition is only open to British residents, sorry to disappoint overseas readers. You need to enter by Wednesday, 6 May 2015.

UPDATE: Stats tell me that 273 people viewed since it came out, still high chances of winning as entries are low, there are a few more through Twitter.

If for any reason you are not comfortable leaving a comment, you can also tweet this with #bankholidaycompuk and I will collect winners there too. If you are wary, there is no catch and I am not building up any mailing list, only winners' addresses or emails will be forwarded so prizes can be delivered.

Win One year’s membership of Home, worth £100! is a global community of 65,000 house-swappers in 150 countries. Members' homes come in all shapes and sizes, from cosy apartments to sprawling estates and everything in between. Imagine what savings you can achieve, just paying for travel expenses.... Most homes are suitable for kids and many are specifically listed as offering a great family fun holiday. Visit to find out more.

Win a child Morphsuit

Why should the adults have all the fun? With these awesome designs, your little one can morph into their favourite superheroe, an amazing wild animal or scary monster. You will be able to choose a costume from this pageprovided it’s not out of stock.

Win a Boov Pop box of delights

One Boov Pop bountiful bundle of gobstoppers and bath bombs is up for grabs, but if you don’t win, you can still download the free game...

HOME: Boov Pop, the official puzzle game based on DreamWorks Animation’s 3D comedy adventure HOME, now playing in cinemas, is now available to play on all Android devices on Google Play and Amazon Appstore. This free-to-play game offers a new twist to the puzzle genre, by adding a gravity-based design combined with awesome 3D graphics. The Android version of Home: Boov Pop! Is available on the Google Play Store here. The iOS version of Home: Boov Pop! is available on the App Store here.  You can also visit the Facebook page

Win a copy of Teapot and the
Dragon + free code for Painting
Gallery with Niru Niru & Friends
(apple version only)

Teapot and the Dragon, written and illustrated by teacher Nick Jordan (Clink Street Publishing) is the story of spirited princess Rosehip, who is not delighted at the prospect of getting married to a handsome prince. Enter a hungry dragon and the adventure begins... This enchanting book was reviewed here and is available from bookshops and online at RRP £8.99 paperback, £4.99 ebook.  

Painting Gallery with Niru Niru & Friends, retailing at £2.29 at the Apple store, is a fun, family-friendly and safe environment for your children to play in. There is no invasive advertising and the Painting Gallery allows kids to let their imaginations run free and create wonderful images. Between free-draw, and the game's impressive library of pre-made stickers, they can create countless masterpieces and arrange them in their very own gallery. Parents can also get involved in teaching their kids various concepts like colours, by recording their own voice into the experience. See the trailer here.

STOP PRESS: PR confirmed that there might be more than one Boov Pop box of delights up for grabs, depending on number of entries.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Advance notice: Bank Holiday Bonanza Competition

MAY DAY, MAY DAY ! I couldn't resist posting an alert about Friday's blog post, which will feature a prize bonanza for all families to enjoy. It will be easy to enter, I will only ask to leave a comment, no tweeting, facebooking, taking a selfie while standing on your head or other weird request... Expect great prizes to keep little hands busy!

Friday, 17 April 2015

Meet Michela - future YouTube star???

Despite 10 years+ in journalism and 7 in marketing, My daughter Michela, 8, is more camera confident than I will ever be. Here is a video she shot with my tablet on her own while I was in the other room working on my computer, aged 7.  Needless to say she got a big part in the school play but I can't show that as other children are involved.

And below is her first ever 'complete' video, shot with ancient digital camera, where Michela talks about brands. Totally improvised and off the cuff.

Sorry, Tesco & Robinson, Michela's favourite is tap water!