International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Trigger Warning – this post is going to be upsetting to read.

I have been reflecting on this a lot lately.

I am part of a support network of single mums around the world, and it is shocking to me that almost every single week one of the women in my network shares a story like the ones below.

  • My ex-boyfriend is sending me threatening text messages
  • My ex-husband has stolen my passport and hidden it so I can’t leave
  • My ex-partner grabbed me by the throat and choked me, and said he’d kill me if I don’t go back to him

(there are far worse stories in my support group, stories so awful I can’t post them on here, these are just the ones that come up the most often).

I am trying hard to imagine a single dad’s support group where these kind of stories would be told with such shocking regularity. And I just can’t.

The #MeToo movement swiftly became a phrase in common parlance but lost it’s true meaning.

I have thankfully never experienced the type of violence and abuse that I hear about all too often, but how often have I had rude, obscenities shouted at me by strangers about my body? How often have I been touched by strangers without my consent? Had my bum pinched, my boobs groped, had erect penises thrust against me in crowded pubs, trains, buses and tubes?

Literally too many times to count.

And let’s not even ask how many women I know who have had their drink spiked, skirts pulled up in public, or been seriously assualted or attacked – that number is far, far higher than it should be.

What is saddest of all is that I accepted all of these things as commonplace, because they happen to almost every woman I know, all the time.

Everyday sexism is still a problem, and these thousands of small incidences of groping on crowded trains and buses, of upskirting, of flashing, of assault and abuse, build up into a tsunami of men across the world exerting power and control over women.

The stories that have stayed with me, and still make me shudder with horror, are of women like Jennifer Schlect, and Jennifer Downes, fellow aid workers who I didn’t know personally, (though I know many people who did), but I remember and think of them regularly. Their deaths were so deeply tragic and devastating and should not have happened.

A story I heard years ago at a work meeting still leaves me lying awake at night sometimes whenever I think of it.

In northern Uganda, there are armed militia groups setting traps in the bush, to catch the women and girls when they collect firewood. They snare them like animals so that they can beat them and rape them.

On the days that I remember this, I despair for humanity, and wonder how we can have come so far, and yet here we still are, living in a world where men all over the world on a daily basis grope and abuse women against their will and without their consent.

Living in a world where there are men actually setting traps to catch women so that they can terrify and abuse them, and kill them like animals.

2020 is almost over, and yet for millions of women, 2021 will be terrifying and violent, and it has to stop.

It must end in our lifetimes. It has to.

This day is important, and we all have to do better now, and tomorrow, for women everywhere.

Take some action today and donate to a women’s shelter or charity supporting women who have been victims of GBV.

The link below is to a women’s shelter in Kenya run by a fellow single mum that I know from my network, but feel free to donate to a local charity or shelter near you to keep these options open for women living in terror and fear everywhere.

https://www.gofundme.com/…/help-usikimye-gbv-safe-house…

Bread Porn

This post is just entirely pictures of the bread I’ve been making, as I’m pretty proud of my sourdough skills these days!

Have to shout out to The Gypsy Baker Sourdough Workshop for teaching me the skills! Look them up on facebook if you are interested in learning to make your own sourdough, it was really fab. I am so glad I have learned a proper new skill in 2020, in spite of all the grim news this year, and while sourdough has definitely been a fad during lockdown, I’m happy to report that all of my loaves have been delicious and risen and generally edible! Continue reading

Reflections on Adoption

I’ve been recently thinking about how lucky I am to have been able to adopt my incredible daughter, and how this would not have been possible until fairly recently. A few things have come up recently that got me reflecting on this, which I’ll go into later on, but first I thought a little brief history of Adoption policy in the UK might be helpful.

There is a great page that gives a potted history of Adoption policies in the UK which I have copied some bits from below: Continue reading

Undecided (The Disco Hamster)

I am having some MAJOR swings up and down about moving house.

The estate agents told me if I want to get this Stamp Duty holiday which ends next March, I need to have found a buyer and a house I want to buy and exchange contracts by Xmas, as it’ll take at least 3 months to process everything. And that all the solicitors and banks are already getting backlogged with so many people desperate to move house right now, so a bank mortgage valuation that used to take 1-2 weeks now takes 4-5 weeks to get done and so on. So if I want to move I have to move fast.

One minute I think fuck it, I really love it there, and I really want to live there, and the kid’ll be fine and it’s SO lovely and there’s a great school and we’ll have so much more space and there are lots of other factors that will decide our future besides race and so on.
The next minute I think no, I can’t, it’s too much pressure to move and find the perfect house instantly and it needs to be somewhere we’ll be happy living for the next 20 years, and I can’t find that so fast, I need more time.

And I just can’t shake off the niggling feeling that I’m wrong about it all. Continue reading

Is my dream house a tiny bit racist?

Spoiler alert – the title of this post was deliberately provocative, extreme and a little bit silly, so there is no need to panic about political correctness gone mad and storm the gates in outrage or anything. 


So, like many of you, I love to spend my evenings in front of the telly, with a glass of wine, browsing Rightmove and Zoopla for the dream house I’ll buy after I win the lottery.
We’ve all been there.

I love my little casa and after 9 years I have finally got it just how I like it. I’ve converted my loft into the penthouse of my dreams, I LOVE my ensuite shower, I’ve done up my lovely little kitchen, and put my amazing jungle lemur wallpaper in my bathroom and generally decorated every room to my liking. However now that I have a toddler I also feel a little overwhelmed with all the toys and stuff and it feels a little cramped suddenly, especially my tiny garden. And also because I’ve just bought a massive tent and camping gear and basically don’t have anywhere to put it!

So you know, I dream about winning my millions and building my own Grand Designs mansion (I LOVE that show). Or buying a 5-bedroom converted barn in the Cotswolds with all the amazing features. But mostly it’s all in my dreams. Continue reading

Secret diary of of toddler…

“Came home from a full day’s playing at nursery SO TIRED I CAN’T REMEMBER ANY WORDS, and ALL I asked for was ice cream and chocolate and sweeties and my stupid mummy said no, so I was forced to lay on the floor and scream, and THEN she said I couldn’t grab the handle of the pan of boiling water on the stove so I screamed right in her face and punched her with my tiny fists so she would feel my wrath.

Then she said I could have an orange and I quite like oranges so I relented and agreed to stop screaming, but only for about 2 mins because the stupid woman peeled it wrong and I became INCANDESCENT WITH RAGE!!!!

Then I needed the potty and in spite of my terrible roars she insisted I wasn’t to put my hands into the poo, which is like totally oppressing my human rights, I mean I’m a strong independent woman and I can touch my own poo whenever I damn well please!!
Then I screamed some more so she would know how cross and oppressed I was, and threw a toy, which backfired and broke, so I cried about that for a while.

Then mummy said it was probably bathtime (the woman is OBSESSED with cleanliness) so I staged a protest on the stairs and decided hair-pulling would count as non-violent defiance.
I finally conceded to having a bath after my attempts to knock her over by head-butting her in the groin didn’t work. I pulled out the plug immediately because that’ll teach her to try and wash me! But then I got really sad because all the water was disappearing and I wasn’t actually finished playing in the bath. So I screamed some more, just in case mummy hadn’t noticed my displeasure.

She’s developed a slightly manic far-off stare and I can never be sure if she’s really listening to my concerns, even when I scream them directly into her face.

Mummy just DOES NOT understand what’s it’s like to be nearly three. Honestly it’s exhausting.”

Superwoman

Sometimes, as a single mum, you have to tackle things that are a little outside your comfort zone. For me, it’s mostly DIY, as I’m not a natural engineer, though I can usually manage to follow flat-pack instructions.

But I must say every once in a while I get an enormous sense of achievement from fixing or building things myself. Basically it makes me feel like a superwoman rock-star when I achieve something I wasn’t sure I could, without any help. So I thought I would brag about it. Continue reading

Camping

After months and months of lockdown, and the disappointment of our Australia holiday being cancelled, and our trip to France getting cancelled twice, we decided to book a camping holiday in north Wales with my mum and her partner, and my sister and her family. 

As I haven’t camped with a toddler before, I decided to upgrade my camping gear and bought an AMAZING new mega-tent, and an awesome king-size air mattress, and a fab new camping stove. I figured I love camping and will want to do it most summers so it’s worth investing in some good stuff. Also my single mums forum had recommended an air tent that you can put up and take down by yourself with very little effort which is ideal for me.

Here is the kid testing out the mega-mattress at home… It has a built in pump so can double as a spare bed at home too.

Continue reading

Lockdown Quilt

During lockdown I started on a new creative project to cheer myself up and help me keep busy, and five months later I have finally finished it! An appliqué quilt, but as I already have a winter quilt for my bed, I wanted to make it into a really bright, colourful, summer duvet cover instead. 

I spent ages deciding on the pattern I wanted to use, and finally discovered this gorgeous pattern by Laura Heine.

It’s a paper-piecing technique where you cut out the shapes using the template provided (its the same template for every square) and then use double-sided sticky paper (fusible web as it’s often known) to iron it into place on the fabric. Then I sewed around all the edges to hold them in place and stop any fraying. Continue reading