My Complicated Gorgeous Niece


In my purse tucked away in the pockets somewhere is a small Polaroid picture of a little girl who stole my heart, from the very moment she made her entrance into the world.  Anyone who has a niece will know that there is a special bond, almost difficult to explain, the moment you are handed a baby who may as well be your own.  Freya Ysobella was the most beautiful baby girl and stirred up many emotions in me that I have since experienced with my own children.

As my first niece (I have two) I have  watched her grow into a beautiful young lady who very much knows her own mind.  She is bright and intelligent, sensitive and very clever.  She has a good heart and is very passionate about what she deems to be right and wrong.  Indeed her younger sister and my own daughter are all ‘cut from the same cloth’ and they are spirited to say the least.

Over the years there have been ups and downs – most noteably the day we took her to the park and pushed her on a big swing, of which she promptly fell off.  We then took her to the sweet shop to try to bribe her silence.  Her silence could not be bought.  As she grew up she found her love of dance, regularly twirling down supermarket isles and singing the words to her favourite songs.


She also loves politics or rather social behaviour, and I am not sure how someone so young can be so aware of the elements of our society, our rules and human rights but she is.  She always tells us that one day she will be the Prime Minister of our country.  I do not doubt this for a single second.  She is determined, very determined, but in a Martin Luther King sort of way which may not necessarily suit the current climate of politics and party ‘values’ that we all know.  I truly hope she does go down this path because I need to believe that the next generation will bring with them a new honesty and integrity to our country.  More than anything I hope that she does not have her spirit knocked out of her because it is so refreshing to see.

Last year I faced the most difficult conversation that I have ever had with her.  She knew something was wrong, she sensed it, and we had to tell her.  I wondered to myself – how on earth do I tell someone so young who depends on me so much that I am very ill?  So I wrote her a card and bought a small keyring, and reassured her that I would be alright when I in fact had no idea that I would be.  I felt like I was shattering her childhood and her innocence all in one go, but the reality of life meant that honesty was the only way.  Without a shadow of a doubt it was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.  At the time it felt like the younger the person was, the harder it was to tell them – and so we hugged and she was brave, and I willed myself not to cry.

A year on, and she has changed beyond recognition.  She is leggy and tall (now my height).  She shares adult conversation and attempts to teach me things about technology and teenagers, neither of which I am ready for.  As all teenagers seem to do she regularly disappears into her room craving space and time to grow into herself.  A once quiet girl now clashes with her mum with a cheek and opinion that I know awaits me too when my own reach teenage years.


We recently took her to a concert and she came along as one of the girls. She wore a leather jacket and jeans and a t- shirt with a touch of makeup and she just looked stunning.  It almost panics me to see how fast she is maturing and the pressure of guiding her along the right path is always on my mind.  I needn’t worry though because it is quite evident that she has her head screwed on the right way.  She is sensible (for the most part) and I know that part of growing up will mean letting her go to find her own way, and to make her own mistakes.

It always makes me smile when she asks my opinion or permission because she is met by exactly the same response her own mother would give her, and I remind her that her mother and I are sisters and so essentially the same person (much to her frustration).  She has two other Aunties too who are just like me and she is a lucky, lucky girl.

As her Auntie, I hope that I will be there for her as her shoulder to cry on when her heart is broken for the very first time.  I hope I get to see her on the day she gets her exam results or even on the day that she graduates.  I would love to help her settle into her first home or even have tears in my eyes as she walks down the aisle one day.  I would love to be there for all of those things, so much so that I almost dare not say it out loud, in case it should never come true.

My complicated gorgeous niece is without doubt one of the things I am the most proud of in my life, and I did not even make her myself – but I might as well have.



To my Freya Belle, love you x

(p.s Lauren you are doing a fantastic job)



A Trip to London to visit the Queen


I need to write something down.  You see of all the things that we have done together my darlings, this is possibly the most important one.  I have no doubt that you will remember bits of it.  It was after all a fantastic day, but I want to help you remember it all, every little bit.  I want you to know why we did it.  Why we did it together as a family and even that grandma came.

For the days running up to our big trip you were beyond excited until there were finally no more sleeps.  After all the games we have played, it was finally the day that we went to London ‘to visit the Queen’.

Now bear with me, I need to remember every little detail of this because I know how important it will be to you.  More important than your sports day which you graciously bowed out of, because your family means a thousand times more to you.

It all began as we boarded the train (this was your most favourite part).  You clutched your tickets like they were made of gold and we waited for the conductor to check them.  He took them from you and spent a long time looking over them.  When he returned each ticket he had drawn a picture of your face and it made you both laugh out loud.

It was a long journey and the taxi ride seemed to make it even longer.  I started to wonder if I had made a mistake bringing you all this way.  It was late and it was past your bedtime as we drove on through the night.  We arrived at our hotel and you delighted in jumping on the hotel room beds – you had found a second wind it seemed.

In the morning you woke us early keen to go down to breakfast.  There was a secret door in the wall outside of our room and we pushed on it, of course, and it lead to a mysterious corridor.  Just like a magic door from our story books.  You even loved the breakfast part of our stay. (although you decided that you did not actually want any of the sausage, bacon or beans on your plate).  Soon after breakfast it was time to meet our host.  You see we had been invited to London to do a very important job.  A charity very close to my heart had asked us to help them plant a very special garden.

Cancer Research had created a garden at The RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2016 in memory of all those who had lost their battle with cancer.  The Life Garden.  A legacy, and a tribute to all those who left money in their wills to fund the research towards finding a cure for cancer.

At the entrance I watched your little faces as you stared open mouthed at the horse drawn carriage that passed us by.  Giant Shire horses with heads held high, trotting at speed around the beautiful Palace grounds.  I doubt you had ever seen horse so big before.  We were taken to the garden and we had our pictures taken.  Although it was pretend gardening, we decided to plant magic beans there – all spread out (incase they should grow into beanstalks).

Even when it rained we cuddled and smiled because, well, there was something quite special about the garden I think.

All too soon it was over with, but we had done it all together. The Garden of Life born out of the most lovely concept.  Legacy and remembering.  You can even visit it ‘virtually’ and see the beautiful meadow with one hundred thousand flowers on display.  Each flower represents a person, a person who has fought their own fight, yet had one thing in common a belief that finding a cure is possible.


It was past lunchtime now and you had both done so well.  We headed to the city centre hoping to find somewhere to eat before our next showing.  We sat outside hurriedly eating our burgers, and shooing away the pigeons and one little duck who just kept coming back.  You laughed and laughed at my efforts to move him on as he quacked back at me.

Eventually Big Ben chimed and we headed to our show at Shrek Adventures.  It may have been the tiredness but we had tears about the unknown and the darkness of the show (I admit this was not the reaction I had expected from you).  We listened to the story of witches, Rapunzel, the Gingerbread man and Puss in Boots and eventually we were transported back to the streets of London.  You both cried in the shop for various overpriced merchandise but as I tried to explain through gritted teeth, I could have bought you a real donkey for a hundred pounds!  Instead we agreed on a real London teddy bear from the obligatory tourist shop on our way to the Underground.


We were tired, so tired and again it crossed my mind again if it had perhaps been too much for us all?  We did it though, we finally went to London as we always promised you, and although we did not see the Queen this time we did see Big Ben, the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament and the infamous Thames River.  I hope that we do have the opportunity to visit Buckingham Palace one day when we have a little more time, but on that day we did as much as your little legs would carry you to do.

In your own words it was the ‘best day of your life’ and I am proud that you helped me do something so nice for others who have lost their loved ones.

 love mum x

If you would like to visit the Garden of Life you can see the virtual meadow and the 100,000 flowers each representing a person who left money to this worthy charity.  Friends and family can search for the name of their loved one – such a wonderful legacy.