Some treats for your ears……and your eyes

Hello friends! I hope you are well. As a little thank you for all the positive and supportive messages I received after my last post, I thought I would round up some of my favourite popular culture recommendations for you to enjoy.  I have perfect podcasts, radio, TV and film to brighten up a miserable January. Escape Brexit, Trump and the fact that the Gilmore Girls revival was a huge disappointment and immerse yourself in this little lot.

Podcast, radio, TV and film recommendations for a dreary January
I am going to start with something that I know I’ve recommended before, but it is being repeated from the beginning on Radio 4 extra and I have been re-listening. It turns out that Cabin Pressure is as funny on a second listen as it was the first time. A radio sitcom based in a small charter airline, run by mostly useless staff, Cabin Pressure still makes me laugh out loud. I actually thing it’s  irrelevant what it’s about, the actors are Stephanie Cole, Roger Allum (he of Sarah and duck fame, as well as many other great dramas – I love him!) John Finnemore, who also writes it and is fabulous and the brilliant, pre-fame, Benedict Cumberbatch and they are just a brilliant ensemble. Comedy is such a subjective thing and people often turn their noses up at radio comedy, but I urge you to give this a try. 

Eight years ago I was just starting my maternity leave. Due to lots of owed holiday I had a lovely, long maternity leave before Mini Mck arrived and I clearly remember sitting in my armchair, cosy and warm, on a dark January day, watching Barack Obama’s Inauguration. I cried happy tears and rested my hands on my swollen belly, with a sense of hope. *sigh* Such a contrast to the emotion I feel about the upcoming inauguration ceremony and I know that many of you feel the same. So, I was delighted to stumble upon Malcom Gladwell talking about Trump’s victory and what it means for the future this week. It’s only fifteen minutes long and if you feel as I do, please listen. It is unerringly positive and hopeful, in a way that makes sense and that I haven’t heard from anyone else. 

Finally for your listening pleasure I am going to give another mention to Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode’s film review podcast. I love listening to their wittering and even though I rarely go to the cinema I love hearing about what is out there. I’ve recently joined my WI’s film club. An outing to the cinema once a month for those of us who like films, but don’t always get to go or have people to go with. It’s been lovely to be able to make good suggestions for what we see and to be able to get back to the cinema. 

Speaking of which. Have you been to see La La Land? PLEASE do. I went last night and it was such a treat. Sublime sprang to my mind in the first fifteen minutes. There were some bits that I want to change, but that has not taken away from the fact that I still loved it. An absolutely perfect way to spend a couple of hours, especially when the news is never-endingly depressing. Think Singin’ in the Rain with a modern twist and a lovely chemistry between the two leads. I really hope it wins big at the Oscars, rather than the usual epics that take themselves far too seriously. La la loved it! 

A couple of weeks ago I happened to catch the last ten minutes of The World’s Most Extrodinary Houses and immediately though how much my eldest would love it. He has a bit of a thing for houses and his last google search is often Mansions or something similar. He is very creative, but also has a real flair for maths. I think he’d quite like to be an architect really. It has become our favourite family viewing on a Saturday Afternoon. Both the boys are transfixed and it is perfect if you like to be nosy in other people’s houses. This week’s episode is Coastal Houses, but you can still find the first tow on iplayer. 

So, there you have some lovely things to immerse yourself in on a dreary January evening. There’s only one that you have to leave the house for and I promise you that one will be worth getting wrapped up warm for. 

The one where I put some baggage down.

Sometimes realisations happen gradually, over many months and sometimes they hit you so hard that you gasp for breath and can’t believe you’ve never seen it before. Last week I wrote on Facebook, that I think it’s time to start thinking about a job and immediately lots of lovely friends had ideas and comments about how I have many skills and things I could do. It was such a boost, but I didn’t really believe it and the next day, while driving with Lady Mck I realised why.

I was thinking about why it was that I felt so unable to do a any kind of job, even though I used to have a big, stressful, well-paid job, that I had been good at and then it hit me. So very, very hard that I physically say up straight and took a sharp breath. Immediately, tears sprang to my eyes. It was quite the extreme reaction. I realised that whilst I did have a big, stressful and well-paid job that I was good at, it was one that ended badly and it became so clear that it wasn’t because of anything I had done.

I worked in a big, corporate organisation where people were no more than a list of figures on a page and my immediate boss was frankly a sexist dinosaur. The only women he had any time for in his team, were the ones who fluttered their eyelashes, wore short skirts and tight tops. The ones who cried when they were short staffed and above all didnt ruffle any male feathers. I wasn’t one of those. I was outspoken, I had opinions. I would challenge and I was clever. I was good and he knew it and he didn’t like it. Of course there were also men in the team like that, but he didn’t have the same rancour for them. They could banter, talk football. He could relate to them. As you know if you read this blog my journey to have children had some bumps in the road and these were treated with absolute contempt by this person.

And so, I finished my first career feeling that I was terrible at the job I had been really good at, that I had nothing to offer and so I packed up and moved on to my next role as a mum, which I have loved. But now, I have started to think about what is next for me and I realise that this work related baggage hasn’t gone away. I have carried it around, locked in a little suitcase for eight years. I will never have the chance to go back and tell this person or this organisation what they did to me, what they stole from me. That time is gone.

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Photo from unsplash.com

I always feel that a blog post should hold some wisdom for the reader. Something from my experience that may help a person reading it and I’m not sure this one does. This one could just be for me. Except to say that, when we realise we have been carrying this ‘thing’ around. When we actually open that suitcase and look inside, we can start to be honest. We can start to realise that what we thought was true, isn’t true. The reality is that I had a really successful career. I got every promotion I ever went for. I finished in the job I had always wanted. My performance was always good enough to achieve bonuses and pay rises and when I was signed off work, due to mental illness, my sexist boss was conveniently and swiftly moved to a new non-people management job, which is how these types of companies deal with difficult situations and speaks volumes.

Now, I have to continue to look into that suitcase. I have to dig deep and remember what I really can do. It is time to start thinking about what comes next for me and that should be exciting and challenging and possibly a little petrifying, but it shouldn’t be coloured by a bad experience that I could do nothing about.

As it turns out, that facebook status has sparked a conversation with a friend that could lead to work and I am excited and scared in equal measure. You see, everyone sees a version of us that we may not recognise. How we feel about ourselves can often depend of who we listen to. I am going to choose to listen to those who see me now, who know me, who value me and there is none of that in that long carried suitcase.

2016 – A retrospective

As regular blog posts go, this is about as good as it gets here. My annual round up of our year is now in it’s third year and it changes as the children do. Less big milestones and more little things that are rites of passage in childhood.  So, as we tucked into our fish & chips a couple of evenings ago, I got the rest of the family to remember some of their highlights. 

  • Mini Mck got his first pair of lace up shoes
  • Lady Mck stopped wearing nappies in the day and is now totally toilet trained
  • I made myself an actual wearable crochet garment. Twice
  • Mckdad trained as a football coach
  • Nano starting learning to read, now that he is in Year 1 
  • We expanded our animal family with two kittens 
  • Our old cat hated us for at least six months of the year, due to aforementioned kittens (he’s ok now)
  • We saw the seals at Horsey Beach for the first time
  • Lady Mck spent her first night away from the rest of the family
  • Nano started after-school drama lessons
  • Mini Mck learnt to swim without any buoyancy aids
  • I finally mastered a flapjack recipe – it’s all in the size of tray and the timing
  • Nano went on his first sleepover to a friend’s house
  • Mini Mck went up three reading levels and is nearly a free reader
  • Nano joined the a school sing along group
  • Lady Mck started sleeping in a bed. No more cots in this house
  • I learnt how to make swiss meringue buttercream, which is a revelation
  • I volunteered at the best blogging conference in town
  • Lady Mck started gymnastics
  • Lady Mck learned how to do a forward roll
  • Mini Mck also learned how to do a forward roll
  • I was shortlised for a Mum’s Voice award and went to a fancy luncheon in London
  • We finally put Lady Mck’s bike seat on my bike and so all went out on a family bike ride
  • Mini Mck went climbing at a climbing centre for the first time
  • Mini Mck started learning French
  • Lady Mck learned to scoot
  • Nano finally mastered the fireman’s pole at our local park 
  • Lady Mck discovered pink and decided she loves it
  • Nano made his first grown up Lego set, with no help
  • Lady Mck swallowed a penny and therefore had her first (and second) x-ray
  • Nano started wearing glasses
  • Mckdad started wearing reading glasses
  • I started wearing reading glasses
  • Nano started wearing an eye patch for 3 hours a day
  • Lady Mck stabbed me in the eye with a fork (and still apologies for this every week) It was a big year for eyes
  • Mini Mck took part in a Ukelele concert
  • Nano started riding a pedal bike with stabilisers
  • We went on a punt down the river in Cambridge 
  • I lost over a stone in weight
  • Mabel became an expert mouser, before she was even a year old
  • Mini Mck learnt Suduko 
  • Mini Mck learnt how to tell the time
  • Nano went to his first musical. The Sound of Music
  • Lady Mck had her first ponytails, side bunches and topknots
  • I mastered the messy bun
  • Mckdad got an office – NO more piles of school books in the dining room (mostly)
  • I gave something up and it was a brilliant decision
  • I made marmalade for the first time


I love looking back on our year, but I’m always a little concerned that as the children get older, there will be less firsts. Mckdad and I noticed that ours were quite hard to think of and it made us both agree that we should do more to learn new things this year. It was a quiet year, but all in all, a good one. 

Happy New Year

Hello friends! I hope you’ve had a lovely festive time, however you choose to celebrate and for those of you that don’t love Christmas, I hope at least you’ve had some restful days in this in between, nothing happening week. 

I wanted to just pop in and share our plans for New Year. I’ve never been a huge fan of New Year’s Eve celebrations. Always so busy and expensive to go out and since having children I struggle to make it to midnight, preferring instead to enjoy the early morning on January 1st, which frankly I’m going to get anyway, with three early rising small children in the house. The last time we had a grown up celebration was when we all de-camped to friends for a few days and I was pregnant with Lady Mck. I think the fact that I knew there would be no hangover and the shared parenting duties that you get when you team up with other adults, made the late night more bearable. Plus, some friends are worth the tiredness. 

However, the last couple of years we have started to build our own, child-friendly New Year Celebration and this year the children remembered and asked for it. We will collect Fish & Chips and eat by candlelight. Dan and I will open something bubbly, the kids will have lemonade from plastic champagne flutes and conversation will no doubt turn to all the things that have happened to our family this year. (Which I will totally harvest for a blogpost in the next few days!) I know that there will be plenty of opportunity for seeing in the New Year in the future, when we are less tired, but for now letting go of the pressure to stay up late and finding our own way of celebrating has been so liberating. 


So, whatever you are doing tonight, I wish you a very happy evening and hope you all have a fabulous 2017. I want to thank you for popping in to read my words this year, it really does mean so much that you give me some of your precious time. I know I am not the most reliable blogger and I hope to be more so next year. Have a good one!

A festive pause

Hello friends! How are you all? Are you all ready for Christmas? Have you opened the After Eights and the Baileys yet? Or if you’re in our house, the Aldi equivalent, because, frankly you can’t beat an Aldi rip off, especially at Christmas. This pre-Christmas is frantic, no? Keeping the magic of Christmas alive is hard, but good work. I hope your lists are getting crossed and you are managing some rest in between the madness. 

If you follow my Instagram feed, you will know that I love living in my city and this year Norwich has really excelled itself with it’s festive lights. Moving pictures projected onto the side of the castle, the usual, but lovely clusters of lights in the trees and perhaps most impressive the Tunnel of Light. It’s just crying out to be photographed, but the hoards of people, not so much. 

I mentioned on my quickly snapped photo that I posted, that I was tempted to get up while it was dark and quiet to take photos, but that I probably wouldn’t. Encouraged by Kat, who knows her Instagram stuff, I started to wonder why I was reluctant to get up for an early photo shoot. I’m awake anyway, thanks to my children and I realised the main reason was worrying what people would think and that’s not a good enough reason. I also realised that Instagram or not, I wanted to see it with no people in it.

So, I persuaded Mini Mck to join me and we left the house just after six. I love the city when it’s deserted and we had a lovely time, both taking photos and running through the tunnel, with only the odd delivery van or early morning worker for company. 

This time of year is so busy, so many lists and things to be done by a certain time. It’s important to take a pause every now and again. The boys carol concert at the Catherdral is one of those moments for me and baking mince pies and sausage rolls in our warm and cosy kitchen is another. I never realised that leaving the house in the dark with my boy and my camera would be another, but it was. The cold morning air, the quiet city and the twinkly lights were the perfect start to the day. 






I want to take this opportunity to with you all a healthy and happy festive season, whatever you may be doing. I hope you all get some rest and lots of lovely time with those you love. I am sure that  Father Christmas will treat you well. I know you’ve all been good this year…..

Mum Burnout

I am staring at the cursor, blinking in the top left of the screen. A blank page to fill. When is it right to share the real, not so pretty stuff on a blog? Is it ever right? For me, it is when not sharing feels inauthentic. You don’t come here for a picture perfect life, you come for a real portrayal of life and I imagine, of motherhood, in particular. I have other posts I could finish off and publish and they will come, but when I find something is stopping me, I know it’s time to write whatever my fingers type. 

Do you ever feel that this should all be so much easier? That you should be doing it all better and enjoying it more? When does it get easier? I thought once the baby days were done it would become more manageable, but at the moment I am finding it harder, I think, than even those sleep-deprived hazy days. Perhaps it’s the expectation that it should be easier that makes it harder. When you have babies, just getting out of the house on time and with everyone in the right clothes is a cause for celebration and a good day tick earned. Maybe it’s that juggling the needs of a 7,5 and 2 year old is actually just as challenging, as juggling those of a 5 year old, a 3 year old and a newborn, if not harder. Perhaps it’s just the lack of balance for such a long time. The seven years of making snacks, mopping up spills, arguing about clean teeth and coats and what’s for dinner. Perhaps it’s tidying the kitchen everyday, folding endless loads of washing or trying to stop your car becoming a toy cupboard/rubbish bin and failing. I suspect it’s all of that, plus, and perhaps this is most important, giving so much of yourself, everyday and not even knowing if you’re doing it right. Overthinking it all or getting to grips with it all, only to have it all change on you, in the blink of an eye. 

Over the past few weeks (months?) I’ve noticed how short-tempered I am. Running on my emotions too much, in a house of small people, who are designed to live on their emotions too. And then a couple of weeks ago, it hit me. I looked in the mirror after the kids had gone to bed and thought “ I look knackered. When will I ever not look knackered?!” Mostly, I get plenty of sleep, aside from the odd disturbance for a child’s nightmare or a wet bed, we sleep all night and I realised it’s not really that kind of tiredness. It’s weariness. It’s burn out. On the same evening this blog was shared to facebook and it stopped me in my tracks. It was like she was speaking to me and the relief that this is how it is was overwhelming. 
A google search later and of course, Mum burnout is a thing that everyone else seems to know about. I just thought I was failing at it all. I’m not, I’m just burnt out. The extra to-dos of the festive season have taken it up a notch and my complete lack of enthusiasm for it all, in stark contrast to last year, show that things are a little off. It occurred to me today that I have felt more festive when pregnant or with a tiny baby or in the middle of a very long and expensive loft conversion. This year, it all just feels like a huge drag. I am hoping that the introduction of mulled booze and mince pies will rectify this, but they won’t if I don’t write some cards and wrap some presents too. 
So, what next? Well, I’m a bit of ‘this is how it is. Suck it up and get on with it’ type of person and I stand by that. It is what it is. My children are still quite young and take a lot of hard work and it’s not even that I am wishing it were over. Strangely, the last few months have had lots of moments that make me want to freeze time. They are all at such awesome ages and I can see their brains exploding, in very different ways, but all seem to be in a time of huge growth and I love it. 

However, I know that just sucking it up and ploughing on won’t be enough on it’s own. Even if I do find that by just acknowledging how I feel is often enough to help. Do you find that? I am a big proponent of ‘feeling what we feel’ and just sitting with it for a while. 
How do you prevent or recover from ‘Mum Burnout’? I’m thinking working on that elusive balance. A little more taking it easy on myself. A little less heaping on the guilt and pressure. Lots of early nights and things that make me happy, that ‘fill my cup’ How about you? 

Small Things {The Autumn Edition}

In the spirit of wanting less and being happpier with what we already have, I have been thinking of the small things that make these dark, blustery autumn months feed our soul. This week, I could so easily have written a post on the many things that irritate me, that everyone else seems to love, but I’ll strive to keep the internet a positive place and if you want that post, you’ll have to ask for it! Despite an attack of the grumps, there is still more to November than dark nights and soggy school runs. 

Finally having the chimney swept and building the first fire of the year, Bonfire season at the allotment, National Sausage Week. Having dinner bubbling in the Slow Cooker. Toddlers kicking through ankle-deep leaves. A crisp start to autumn that makes the tress put on such a show when the leaves are ready to fall. Discovering a child friendly cafe.

Treating yourself to a new herbal tea and finding that it is absolutely gorgeous and soothing. Paying off your library fines and so redisvering the joy of browsing the shelves and choosing some new books. Taking library books back, not only on time, but read and on time. Discovering a fresh, decaffienated coffee that actually tastes nice. Buying posh yoghurts simply because you know the glass jars will make nice candle holders and finding the yoghurt is delicious too. Closing the curtains at dusk, turning the lights on and knowing you don’t have to go out again for the rest of the day, putting your comfies on. Remembering to put a hot water bottle in your bed before you get in it. Good Autumn Tele (have you seen The Crown on Netflix? SU-blime!) New episodes of Gilmore Girls (FOUR DAYS PEOPLE)


Finding a new podcast that you love and can binge listen to. Baking a cake that you haven’t done before and knowing that it’s not quite right but that your’re going to keep trying until it’s perfect. Tate & Lyle’s Halloween Treacle tin. Cats who like to curl up next to you and purr very loudly. Starting a big knitting project, especially for yourself. Instagram, before the trail of Christmas trees arrive on December 1st. An evening of no TV after school, where the children all sit together, near enough for me to see and speak to them, all happy doing this own drawing/puzzles/homework. Making a fresh batch of Granola. 

Going to bed early to read a really good book. Staying up too late, reading your book and not caring that you’re going to be tired tomorrow, because it really is a good book. Finding a long forgotten piece of clothing and feeling like you’ve been shopping, even though you haven’t. Two hours child free time, to go Christmas Shopping with your partner and spending nearly all of it buying books for people. Finishing off homemade Christmas presents. Getting donations in for the school fair a week before the deadline. Parent’s Evening. Putting the children to bed on your own and getting it all done by half past seven. Going out with new friends. Staying in. Still getting the occasional day when you can hang your washing out. 


So, you see, there are in fact many good things about this dark and damp month. I guess we all just need to look for them. What is keeping you smiling this week?