Cigarettes and Calpol

Attempting to make sense of parenthood, life, love, and my own mind.

September Sadness.

September. It’s a month of new beginnings. Long after you leave school the feelings of shiny shoes and a brand new pencil case don’t seem to subside. I half expect somebody to hand me a reading list of intimidating books we all know I’ll never read. 

But the reality is that the pressures are different now, you’re a grown-up. Nobody is going to tell you to sit and read for hours every day. No matter how much you wish they would.

Instead we’re all hurtling towards another year, another decade, and right about now is the time I find myself reflecting, and regretting. I’m always harsh on myself in September, I don’t think I’ll ever feel like I’ve done enough but I feel that even stronger this time every year. 

We romanticise September. The comeback of perfectly worn, slightly scuffed leather boots and impossibly thick-knit jumpers, worn on a walk through the colour-changing park to your favourite pub. The pub that always has a little dog, probably called Scruff, sleeping peacefully in front of the dragon-tongued fire that you watch while sipping a glass of Malbec coloured the perfect claret. 

Yeah sure. Sounds wonderful. But this is real life. 

Your boots will rub, or be slightly too tight so they somehow manage to make your feet colder. A thick-knit is possibly the most impractical of all the knits as the wind blows right through and makes you colder, don’t @ me, it’s a conspiracy. There’s dog shit in the piles of leaves. The pub will be heaving, the dog has fleas, you’ll be smelling fire in your hair for days, and your Malbec cost you £9. 

Yes, I’m more than aware of my out of control cynicism. I’m not working on it. 

I love the idea of reflecting, of recognising what I’ve earned and what I’ve learned, of seeing where I was this time last year and how far I’ve come in twelve short months. I love the idea of seeing the rest of the year as a challenge, to do even more, succeed even further, kick arse even harder. I don’t know if it’s a brain block of mine or just the reality that nothing really seems to change year to year, but I can’t find the pleasure in doing this. It just freaks me out. And stresses me out. And makes me go full entitled little princess with a ‘why not meeee?!’ complex.

September also happens to be the month of my birth. Libra. I know. Let’s not. I hate my birthday. Not in a fear of getting older way, getting older is such a privilege I feel eternally grateful to have, but for me birthdays seem to hold a lot of pressure. A pressure to socialise in a certain way, a pressure to have enough friends to socialise that way, a pressure to look incredible in photos, a pressure to look even more amazing in all the social media posts all those friends of yours post. Pressure doesn’t look good on me. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t cry on my birthday, I can’t ever put my finger on just why it does that to me though. 

There are elements of all this I’m working on, mostly the struggles with celebrating myself, but there are also elements of it I won’t be. We live in a world where we’re supposed to see the good in every moment, and if we can’t see the good then the potential to make it good. Sadness is not allowed. Negativity is not allowed. They’re bad emotions that need to be fixed, or medicated, or at least just ignored. 

I’m exhausted by always feeling the need to wrap my crappy feelings up in a pretty bow and rolling it in some glitter. I’m exhausted by being told to keep my chin up or focus on the good stuff. Sometimes we need to focus on the shit, that’s how we avoid stepping in it again. 

September might not be a month of celebration for me, but maybe it can be a month of analysing my shit. A month of recognising my fuck ups. A month of letting myself feel the sadness, and the anger, and that weird feeling in the pit of my stomach I can never really name. It won’t be a month full of sadness, but it will be a month of self-reflection, just in a different way to what the wellness gurus might recommend.

Although I won’t be saying no to the £9 glasses of Malbec any time soon.

The Mirena Coil – my personal love affair Q+A

Before we go any further I want to make it very, very clear that this is my experience, and because something worked for me doesn’t mean it will work for everybody. I’m also very much not a medical professional and you should always seek professional advice if you have any worries or concerns about your body.

Ok, that’s out the way. ON WITH THE SHOW.

Whenever I mention that I have the coil (or IUD) I get endless questions, so I thought the best thing to do would be gather all those questions and answer them all in one nice, tidy space.

Read more…

Christmas Dinner Perfection

Last week I was very lucky to attend a roast dinner cookery class at Leith’s in London courtesy of Buster, yep, the plughole unblocker. Might not be the most glamourous brand but it’s bloody useful! (Especially when you have long, constantly shedding hair like me!)

I like to think I know my way around a roast dinner, but I learnt some tips that blew. my. mind. and have upped my roast game to eleven. Christmas dinner can be a bloody stressful affair (last year our electric shorted and sent the burglar alarm into tamper mode…) so I thought I’d share some of the things I learnt (and some things I already utilise) to try and make Christmas at least a tiny bit less stressful for those of you who are cooking. (This isn’t in order of cooking, I’m not that helpful, it’s just a list of tips.)

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SmarTrike 400 – do we love it?

We were super lucky to be gifted a SmarTrike 400 a few months ago, and have spent the past few months really putting it to the test. I’ve always been a bit dubious about push-along trikes, it seemed a little bit unnecessary and just more Stuff to trip over at 6am, but we’ve used it so much and Fox loves it.

A few of you have asked how we’ve been getting on with it so it seemed like a good time to let you know…

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Filters and Fakery

If you follow me on Instagram (if not, why not?!) you will have seen a recent conversation about face filters and their damaging effect on our self-esteem.

This isn’t about editing a photo to enhance them. It’s not about bunging a filter over the top to keep with your style. This is about editing to the point of it no longer being you.

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Birthday Dread

Tomorrow’s my birthday. Hold off on the confetti and party poppers, I’m not really one for celebrating the day of my birth. In fact I usually find the whole day a bit of a shitter on my mental health.

I never used to be like this. I was fully in the ‘BIRTHDAY MONTH’ team. Throughout September my Facebook memories are an embarrassing reminder of how much I used to demand attention, presents, and multiple celebrations. Now I’d rather people just ignore it (which many will because I haven’t told them it’s coming up and it’s too late to send cards now suckers!).

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The Non-Stop Battle

Mental health is a non-stop battle. For me anyway.

I’m in a much better place right now than where I have been. Thanks in massive part to going back on medication. But that doesn’t mean I’m fixed, or even close to.

The past few weeks have been a huge test on me mentally, emotionally, and personally. For a lot of reasons that I’m not about to go into on here.

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‘Talk About It…’

Talk about it. The responsibility is on you.
Talk about it. So we can shift the blame.
Talk about it. An easy retweet that helps my guilt.
Talk about it. But only if you fit the ‘right’ image.
Talk about it. But only if it won’t make people uncomfortable.
Talk about it. But only if you’re willing to show you’re trying.
Talk about it. Once you’re recovering.
Talk about it. Make sure there’s a catchy hashtag.
Talk about it. As long as you’re white, straight, and middle class.
Talk about it. But not too much, you’re just attention seeking.

Continue reading “‘Talk About It…’”

Leopallooza – The Family Festival for YOU

Being a fallow year for a certain, fairly well-known festival, a lot of us have all but forgotten the urge to hang out in a field, hair crusty with dry shampoo, sipping on a 8am cider. But instead of taking a year off, we should be using this summer as the perfect excuse to discover what other great festivals are out there.

For me there’s only one festival I would spend my time encouraging you to go to; whether you’re after a weekend of drinking warm Jäger in a tent with your mates, want somewhere you can take your kids and know they won’t be bored for a second, or are after something somewhere in between I can guarantee Leopallooza is the festival you’re after.

(In case you can’t be bothered to read the whole thing, there’s a competition at the end of this… it’s a good one.)

📸 – Matthew Hawkey

Continue reading “Leopallooza – The Family Festival for YOU”

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