2020: What a year it has been…

Looking back on this year, I don’t think I made many resolutions last January.

I lowered my expectations on my book reading challenge from 40 books in the year to 25, and I’ve managed to read about 20, which isn’t too bad.

I aimed to get fitter and healthier, as I do every new year, and instead I’ve sadly put on weight again, which is annoying, and getting fitter and healthier just hasn’t panned out once again. I keep trying to make time for more exercise, but I get tired, or injure myself, or get too busy at work and make other excuses for not doing it. I am still as much an emotional eater as I ever was, and while I go through bursts of healthy eating and portion control, the fact is when I feel down, or bored, or tired, or lonely, or overwhelmed, I eat sweets and chocolate and cheese, and drink wine, and I haven’t yet figured out a way to just turn off my emotional eating tendencies.

Mind you, 2020 has been an exceptionally difficult year for everyone, and I think as a working single mum coping with lockdowns and not seeing friends, family and my support system, it’s ok to give myself a bit of a break too. Continue reading

When one of your worst fears comes true…

Well we have certainly had an eventful time of it lately!

I was of course jinxing myself in my earlier post when I said we had cracked the sleeping thing. It always gets me – we’ll have 2 weeks of sleeping through and I think we’ve done it, then suddenly night after night she’s creeping up into my bed at 1am, 4am, 5am etc.

I’ve discovered that the only way to handle it is to be consistent. Even if it’s 5.30am and only an hour or so to go before we get up, SHE doesn’t know that, she can’t tell time, and therefore she needs to learn the principle of staying in her bed until the sun on her alarm clock comes up no matter what. It’s hard to be consistent as some nights I’m so deeply asleep I barely register her getting into bed with me!

However on Sunday morning, when she crept in a 4.30am I got up to take her back downstairs to her bed. We had the usual “NO I DON’T WANT TO SLEEP IN MY BED I WANT TO SLEEP IN MAMA’S BED” mini-scream, so I picked her up in one arm, held on to the bannister with the other hand and headed downstairs.

Until about 2/3 of the way down the stairs when I slipped and fell down the stairs, with my daughter in my arms. Continue reading

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…

Ever noticed how white our Christmases are? No I don’t mean the weather.
2020 has been quite a year – Covid aside, it has also been a year where a lot of us have woken up to the inequality and racism embedded in our societies. The Black Lives Matter movement has grown and gained momentum, and reflecting back I have personally been on a journey this year to try and understand more about systemic racism, structural racism and white privilege, and how it all fits together.
Reading books like Invisible Women, Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race, Girl, Woman, Other, Parenting in Transracial Adoption, and a number of other books, I’ve been slowly starting to  understand more about what White Privilege is and why most of us aren’t all that aware of it.
It embarrasses me that only this year, at 39, have I looked around at Christmas and wondered why Santa is white, why all the angels are white, why there appears to be no diversity at all at Christmas time in the images depicted.

Continue reading

Mama Bears & Bin Drinks

It’s been a while hasn’t it?

Let’s see, what have we been up to? Frankly not a lot, what with winter and lockdown and so on. 

I have FINALLY cracked the sleep thing and she’s got the hang of sleeping in her own bed all night, and staying there until the sun clock comes up (I really shouldn’t say such things out loud, it always jinxes it…). And I’ve installed some amazing toddler toilet seats and got some steps so I no longer have to deal with the potty most of the time, which is nice, having slightly less of someone else’s shit to dispose of…

Our mornings are in a pretty good routine now, and are punctuated by the calm, repetitive nature of CBeebies… Continue reading

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.


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