The True Meaning of Friendship


When my mum was growing up she met two friends.

Well actually no, that is not true, she met three friends Auntie Beverley, Auntie Mary and Uncle Dave.  She met them way back when in yester year, when they were all studying to become nurses.  They had the best of times and the best of laughs and they became the very best of friends.  Of course they are not really our Aunties and Uncle in blood but they might as well be related, because somehow along the way they have become family.

True friendship lasts a lifetime.

When my mum had my sister she was a young single mum, and my Auntie Mary and Auntie Beverley gave her all the support that she needed as her best friends, and then some.  We would always go to visit and we played for hours with their children Sara, Katy, Matt and Jade who we grew up with us like siblings.  Over the years we have all shared the lovely memories of Bonfire nights and New Year’s Eve, we have shared great sadness when Uncle Dave passed away, and great happiness when his grandson was born not long afterwards.  The next generation of grandchildren now play together and will be lifelong friends too, that I am absolutely sure of.

Over the past year I have really had a think about what friendship is.  Do we really need to qualify it for it to be true?

I would have said that I was so lucky to meet the best set of girls at University that are my own lifelong friends.  I am finding recently that each time they announce a new engagement or pregnancy I feel all puffed up and proud, I get teary, and overwhelmed that they are finally finding the happiness that they deserve.

And yet some things have surprised me too over the past year.  There was I, thinking that I knew most things, thinking that I had seen it all, and then the tidal wave of cancer hit and it changed everything that I knew to be true. I have made friends in the most unlikely of places it seems.

Perhaps it is just me?  Perhaps I have made friendships in spite of it all, or because of it all.

I have made new friends. Those who I have never met (I never thought this to be possible) and yet it seems that it is possible to be a kind of modern day ‘pen friend’ with people I have discovered.  Sarah, Allie and Rosemary have kept me smiling for months now and through some very difficult days.  I have made friends over the past year that I know will be friends for life, despite having known them for only a short time.

As a mum, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain friendship with others, no matter how much you feel about them. Everyday seems to be filled with long lists of things that need to be done and the reality is that picking up the phone for a short conversation is unlikely, along with grabbing something to eat or going to the toilet.  The job of a mum is a busy one, and the days just all seem roll into one.

True friends don’t need to see each other to know that they are there

– like stars I suppose.

And the thing that I love about friendship, is that it seems to be passed down through the generations.  I consider myself to be trustworthy and loyal and I hope that as my own children grow up they too develop these traits.  No doubt it will be hard to watch them make and break friendships over the years, but I am sure that they will settle into the same happiness that we have found.  I really hope that I will be there to be the ‘shoulder to cry on’ for the days that do not go quite ‘to plan’ or even on the day that their heart is broken for the first time.

All these hopes  and wishes I have  for my own children – not knowing if they will ever come true.

More than anything, it seems that our siblings are our best friends (and cousins in my case).  I come from a family of three girls and my husband, a family of three boys.  Our brothers and sisters are our very best friends.  The ones who drive us crazy in an instant, annoy us like only a sibling can and yet they will still be there when the chips are down.

After a few weeks of illness (the chickenpox, and therefore serious lack of sleep) I can honestly say that my heart melted when I woke up one morning and checked in on the children, only to find them in bed together cuddled up and asleep.

They are, and always will be the very best of friends and if I give them nothing else in life I know that I gave them that.






The Imperfect Sunday


Today was a beautiful, glorious sunny day.  Apparently the beginning of springtime, and it really did feel like it.  We opened all the windows to air the house and the drying laundry made everything smell fresh and ‘homey’.

It was one of those lazy Sunday mornings.  The one where everyone stays in their pyjamas for as long as they can.  The type of morning where everyone gets their own way, because a nice harmonious morning is as valuable as the sunshine outside.

I ask your sister what she would like for breakfast and she can’t decide, so I make the suggestion of pancakes and her little face lights up.  As we make the pancake mixture in the kitchen, the sound of ‘Match of the Day’ plays on in the living room as you enjoy your favourite programme.

It is funny how the sunshine puts everyone in a slightly better mood.

In the kitchen the background radio plays as I get on with finding a frying pan. Your sister lays the table with all of her favourite things (sugar & syrup) and you both delight in calling through for more and more as I make the endless batches.


Once it is all done I busy myself washing up & sorting laundry much to your disgust.  I turn up the radio & make myself a cup of tea – eating the leftover pancakes that nobody wanted.

You play together but you really want me to join in and I don’t on this occasion because, as I try to explain, the jobs don’t do themselves. Obviously this makes me ‘mean mummy’ but a balance has to be struck sometimes I think.

We all get dressed eventually and I decide that it would be nice to venture out to the shops.  You have money from the tooth fairy to spend and so on the promise of ‘good behaviour’ (not fighting or shouting in said shops) we happily mosey around.  At first you are helpful carrying storage boxes to the car and walking sensibly in the car park, but then the chaos begins to descend as we attempt the second shop. We spent the tooth fairy money on some football cards that you had been hoping for, and I find a nice gift for a friend’s birthday.

You are both happy today and I am trying not to dampen your enthusiasm, but sometimes you wind each other up so much that you forget to listen when I am warning you to calm down.  We visit our friend’s house to deliver the present, and soon leave as you both turn up the volume so loud that I cannot concentrate on what I am saying.  The last thing in my locker is a plan to take you down to the park and afterwards pop in to visit my grandparents.

Surely this is all just pent up energy?

I decide that what you really need is some fresh air and sunshine.  The park is busy because it is one of the nicest around.  You delight in running, climbing and playing hide and seek.  We stay for a really long time until the sunshine disappears and the grey clouds come over.  Clutching your bread to feed the ducks and swans we walk down the riverside & you practise how far you can throw.

After a short stop at grandmas you are spoilt with biscuits and treats, we chat away and you play make believe shops together.  Eventually as I am talking the noise level creeps up and up, and before I know it you are both fighting on the floor again.  Recognising quickly how things are beginning to pan out we say our goodbyes after some stern words.  Once in the car I explain why I am upset with you both but you don’t seem to listen.

Sometimes as a mum it takes a really deep breath to remain calm and not completely lose it, especially after you have tried your hardest all day to make things nice.

We had a lovely day, all in all, and eventually you both said that you are sorry.

Once home you have an early bath while I start on dinner – it was daddy’s turn to take over.  We all sat round to a lovely roast after and hour or so of cooking, and you both tell daddy all about your day.  You decided all on your own that tomorrow you would wake up early and make me a sorry card.  I am so glad you realise that your behaviour is the thing that has upset me and when you suggest this as a way to ‘make a mends’, it honestly makes my heart melt.  It shows that you do know right from wrong and so it seems that we are doing a good job in bringing you both up.

Tomorrow is a new day for us all, slate wiped clean.

I love you.



The Alphabet Memories


Magic Book

We all take life for granted a little.

Sometimes it happens by accident, the whirlwind of day to day hustle and bustle.

Sometimes it takes a jolt to make you stop and cherish the small things.

Almost a year ago it dawned on me that I may not see my children grow up. I did not worry for myself, I worried for my children. How could I possibly arm them with the things that they would need to be strong and lead happy lives?

Then one day I realised. The answers were right there in front of me. The creation of memories of course.  Memories are so precious and unique that even in the darkest of times, a memory of a loved one can make you smile.

A memory can be very big, or very small.  Sometimes it can be the things that you have shared, or the music you have listened to, or even that of a story being told.  All of these things can mean the whole world when you are apart from a loved one.  Every parent wants to remember the precious times. Every parent wants their children to be the happiest they can possibly be.

‘Reach for the stars my darling, and you might very well touch them’

From the very beginning, when your little one is just a sparkle in your eye – you read to them, you sing to them, all the while hoping those special times will be bottled up and treasured, and perhaps, just perhaps, one day those special times will turn into the most precious of memories.

I have discovered the way to ‘bottle’ the magic, and I am happy to share it.  It is so much more than a photo, or a book. It does not cost a penny and yet it will be the best thing that you ever give to your child should you choose to accept.

The Alphabet Memories last forever, they will never fade, they will never be forgotten, and the best thing of all is that they are unique.

Never to be copied or spoilt. All of the magic is created by you and stored safely in the imagination and dreams of your child – to hold onto and last forever.

It is possible to create a dream, all you need is a little bit of magic…


I suggested this once to my husband and he was not keen, but now after a little bit of practise he loves it, and so do the children.

You take the letter of the alphabet as the idea for your story, and then you let their imagination take over.

Anyone can do it – sometimes it is lovely to have your child as the main character, or their favourite toy, sometimes is can be something they have never heard of or even a ‘made up’ thing.

Simply take a letter of the alphabet.

Add a hero.

Mix in some magic.

Create a story.

Your story.



 The Alphabet Memories are dedicated to Noah, Isla and Lois for all your bedtimes, sweet dreams my darlings xxx

Winnie The Pooh - If There is Ever

A Note to the Teachers – a year gone by


I am not sure how it came around so quickly, but Parent’s Evening at my son’s school marks another significant moment for me.

Not least to say that this time last year everything was very different.

This year as I wandered into the school hall on my own (we went together last time) I was greeted by the headmistress.  We had a little chat, and she asked me how I was?  How kind of her to remember whos mummy I was, and what we had been through.

Funnily enough in years gone by I would have known her a bit better I thought, as we made polite conversation.  I would have been the mum who got involved, the mum who joined the PTA and knew everyone else, but then, I would have done a lot of things if it had all happened differently.

Before it was my turn to speak with Noah’s teacher I felt an odd sense of dread, as if it is was me who was about to be reviewed.  The resulting conversation obviously didn’t go anything like I imagined of course.  We briefly went over Noah’s work, but more important than the academic things, I discovered that he tries his very hardest and gets on with all of his class mates.  He is polite and happy and cheeky.

Learning of his happiness brought some relief.  Mainly because his behaviour at home can often leave a lot to be desired.  More than this though, I know he is a little worrier.  To know that he has come through a tough time at home with a big smile on his face,  tells me that we handled it all in the right way.  Or at least, the way in which we thought best at the time.

Last year I desperately wanted to write to the children’s teachers and show them ‘who my children really were’.  Now it seems I don’t need to do that as my little boy is not so little anymore.  He is showing them for himself, and this makes us very proud parents.


Isla on the other hand, is not so happy at the moment.

The reason I went alone to Parent’s Evening is because she is recovering from a bout of chicken pox and so her daddy stayed at home to look after her and put her to bed.

Before she fell ill, we had a week of her getting very upset about going to nursery, or taking part in swimming lessons.  I am hoping that this is all because kids just get clingy and cry a lot as they are coming down with something.

It seems though that our little one is only really happy when she is with me, and it is a difficult one to deal with as a parent. 

Of course I love that she needs me and loves to be around me – the feeling is mutual, but I am mindful that this can go a bit too far the other way.

When I returned home from Parent’s Evening I crept in so as not to disturb anyone, and I heard her tell her daddy that she wanted me.  I didn’t go upstairs, not because I didn’t want to give her a good night kiss, but because I need for her to learn to settle with her daddy too.

She has also started to cry when she learns that she is going to nursery.  Even though she has friends there and likes her teachers – again this could be because of her being poorly, but it feels like she is regressing rather than becoming more independent.  Of course I have asked her why nursery is upsetting her because I am sure there is a reason that she all of a sudden seems so unhappy, but she doesn’t seem to be able to say to me.

I am sure that it will all be fine, but I can’t help but worry as her mummy that everything has taken its toll on her a bit more than I thought it had.  I suppose I will always carry this mummy guilt that my illness has somehow affected them both in some way.  I truely hope that it hasn’t.

As always we will carry on the way that we always do.  Keeping to the daily routine and lots of reassurance and patience, in the hope that it all works itself out eventually.

For the time being though, a week off nursery and a week of co-sleeping for comfort, means that we face a tough week of getting back to normal.  Being a parent is tough going, especially when you want to be as close to your children as possible and at the same time help them to maintain their own independence where you can.

At the moment I am not 100% sure that I am going about things in the right way, but I know I am giving it the best that I have got.






A Forever Home – letting the dust settle

Many moons ago (or so it seems) we bought our first house.

As with most of the things in my life it was based on instinct.  The house that we chose was most definitely bought with our hearts and not our heads.

It was around the time that the property market was booming and we were excited to get on the property ladder, and perhaps even to make some money too.  We were young and foolish but we worked hard and decided that renting was a fool’s game.  So we took the leap and started to look around at what we could afford.  As it turned out living in Surrey with a limited budget makes property searching a little less ‘Kirsty & Phil’ and a little more ‘Challenge Anneka’.  Eventually though, we found a lovely little cottage that gave us a nice feeling when we went to view it.  We didn’t rush in, we held back and sought the opinion of my sister and others who had more experience than we did.  We were told categorically NOT to buy with our hearts and categorically NOT to buy a house with an unconventional layout.  We did listen and then proceeded to completely disregard all of the sensible advice because it was too late,  we had already fallen in love.

We bought a lovely little white cottage, near Farnham.  Two bedrooms the largest of which had an original fireplace, a cosy living room and a kitchen with exposed brick (alright, unfinished plastering) and perhaps the nicest part of all was the huge cottage garden, with a little shed and a feature tree.

We moved in with the help of our friends and it really shouldn’t have taken too long as we had barely any furniture to our name.  Of course we only discovered that the door frames were not quite ‘standard’ size frames as we attempted to fit the sofa into the house, and it quickly got stuck halfway in.  The bathroom was downstairs which became more and more tricky especially as the winter months arrived (and I won’t even mention the lack of parking).  Nevertheless we loved that little house for all of its faults and we spent many a happy time there with friends and neighbours.

It took quite a big thing to encourage us to leave. 

I am not sure we ever would have really left if we hadn’t discovered our second pregnancy coupled with my husband’s first career redundancy, all at the same time.  Happiness and elation, followed by shock and upset.  We decided that it was time to move.  I remember very clearly that we made some pretty big decisions in a very short space of time, but they were all necessary.

So we moved on.  It wasn’t the easiest thing we have ever done, as we had both made the most valued friends through work and even our neighbours had become very close friends to us. Yet move on we did.

Our second home was chosen with a little more care (albeit in a slightly stressful rush). I was heavily pregnant at the time and the countdown was on – to move in before the baby made her entrance to the world. With a lot of help from friends and family we managed to move in just in the nick of time, as the next day I went into labour.  The new house had three bedrooms, an indoor bathroom and even a driveway.  The back room was made into a playroom and the entrance hall gave us more space for an energetic toddler.  Most of all though, ‘the feeling’ you got when you walked in through the door was just right – it was home.  From the moment that we moved in, or more accurately the moment we took our baby girl home, there has been a sense of belonging for us.


It is almost as if we have lived here for many a year.

More recently, and following the challenges of last year we decided that we would extend the house instead of moving as the children grow up.  This decision I just know would meet with Kirsty & Phil’s approval, because our decision has been based mainly on location. Close to schools and shops and train stations we are in a very handy place for family life.  However there is another reason, one that has been in the back of my mind for some time now.

One of my wishes for my children as they grow up is to make sure that they feel secure. 

Making a home, their home, a place that they feel that they can come back to whenever they need to is very important to me.  I want them to both have their own space as teenagers, where they no doubt will lock the rest of the world out.  I want them to feel like they can invite friends over whenever they want to.  Most of all though, I want them to be so comfortable with their home, that if life is ever cruel to them they know that they can walk through the front door and feel an instant sense of comfort.

We are not quite there yet, the builders are at work as I type.  The dust is everywhere and it is hard to see past the chaos.  I know though, that when the dust settles there will be the makings of something very special.








A Novice Mum – a bit of reflection


I was having a nice chat with a friend of mine recently.

Such a luxury as a mum to be able to sit with a hot cuppa and talk about all the things you would like to catch up on.  We talked about this and that, and it made me think a little about how we can often take for granted those who mean the most to us.

With all of the things going on at the moment I hadn’t even realised that Mother’s Day is just around the corner.  It is a day that seems a little bit forced to me sometimes and we forget that it can be a painful reminder to those who have lost someone dear to them.  I get that it is a day where we can show those we love how much we care, and to show that we appreciate everything they do, perhaps with a little gift.  Surely though, it is our actions that will show this and not the most expensive cards or flowers bought from that well- known chain store.

My mum hates material things.  Notoriously difficult to buy for, she prefers real things instead of the superficial.  While she smiles at a bunch of cut flowers, she would much prefer the living, growing kind.  Chocolates and cards are all well and good, but if you asked her she would tell you that she would much prefer a room full of her family and perhaps a nice Sunday lunch at home (with real Yorkshire puddings).


I have realised that my mum and my mother-in-law are the real mothers who have really ‘earned their stripes’.  They have the mum thing down to a tee.  Their houses have been made into real homes that everyone goes to for comfort in times of celebration or hardship.  They have really seen life over the years, and they have brought up a family in amongst all of the things that life has thrown at them.

These are the mums that deserve the family day or the day of rest.

Sometimes as a mum of two, I feel like a bit of a novice. After all, my C.V is only six years long. I regularly get things wrong and on given days the children tell me so.  I am guilty of not always remaining calm on the school run – but I always give them a kiss goodbye.  I am guilty of forgetting the ‘after school snack’ or not always answering every question as I am driving – but I always ask how their day has been, and I always listen to the answer.

Having said all of this it is a lovely thing that the children are excited about Mother’s Day.  They have made special cards or gifts at school, and they have proudly hidden them under their beds so that they can surprise me on the day.  One of the best things about having children is that they always tell you the truth.  They always tell you straight away when you are doing things the wrong way, and straight away if you are doing things the right way.

When they love you they tell you so, and it is unconditional.


My chat with my friend made me reflect a little.  It reminded me to stop just for a minute and appreciate those in my life that I care about. I am still earning my stripes as a mum but nevertheless a mum I am, and I am proud to be so.  Mother’s Day is not about one person, it is about family – those who are here now, and those who are no longer with us.

My little boy said something to me the other day that really made me smile.  He said that they had said a little prayer at school for the grandmas & nanas who had gone up to heaven, and that he and his best friend had remembered their own nanas together with their little messages.

What a lovely way for children to remember the most special ladies of all.  Gone but definitely never forgotten.




for Lillian & Connie


[Image from]